Reality


Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

bones-travels-through-time

Map-cyberspace?

Cyberspace?

If you had to imagine what the Internet looked like, what would come to mind? This seemingly innocent question has given rise to some interesting and occasionally bizarre representations. There are the physical aspects, the infrastructure that makes it possible, the hardware that runs it, the software that interfaces with people and then there are the people themselves. There is a whole other conceptual side to it, which strays into realms of the human mind, and even the name cyberspace congers up visions of some universe within our own, but that is ill defined in physical space. The prefix cyber cyber comes from the Greek word kybernet,  meaning to steer or guide (a helmsman), from which cybernetic  is derived. One can appreciate the irony there and does the internet do the steering or the people using it? Well, this is a big topic and the many questions raised are outside the scope of this blog. When it comes to visualizing the internet I tend to like maps of the world that reflect human behavior or trends in activity. I showed some in a previous blog from June, 2014: The Internet – Yesterday to Today. The maps shown here show the who and how people are connected:

Map-of-internet-users-per-100-people-2012

Map-world-online-by pervcent-2013

Map-world-online-growing-access-2013

Map-of-internet-freedom-2014

Map-of TeleGeography-2015

In viewing some of these maps, I began to wonder what my own WordPress map of visitors compared to some of these. Turns out it actually looks fairly similar for the most part and is most easily compared with the map of Internet users per 100 people and Map of Internet Freedom. Below I show my map of visitors to Cogito Ergo during the period 2012 to 2015, and the associated list of countries with number of visits below that. All total, this blog has had more that ~11,000 views; ~6,000 visitors. On a monthly basis there are an average of 276 views; 163 visitors; 1.78 views per visitor. Currently there are 117 posts, 40 categories and 230 tags. I just record these stats for posterity and reference, and not sure they are of much interest to anyone. The map and countries below only reflect 2012-2015 since I activated the mapping feature, not the total numbers since I started this WordPress blog in 2011 and migrated all my previous years blogs here from another platform. I have actually been writing this blog for just about 10 years now. It may be time to give it a rest for a while and pondering a hiatus in 2016.

wordpress-2015-map

Cogito Ergo WordPress map of views (2012-2015)

WPmap-countries-107

Cogito Ergo list of countries by views (2012-2015)

This idea of Mapping the Internet is likely to expand in the future. It’s not just about the technical details or the purview of science to tell. Science is good at telling us how thing work, but not why they work or what they are good for. For example, we can figure out how the universe works, but not really why it works that way or why it exists. The future will have to go beyond the science and statistics of things and delve deeper into the relationship of man and machine. Mankind has been mapping the physical space on earth and outer space for millennia. The physical space of the human body and inner space of the human mind the brain has been explored for centuries and we are just beginning to map it. This thing called the Internet or cyberspace is as vast and complex I think than even we realize – like the universe itself or the human brain. In this case, however, the creator will be examining his creation. The ultimate Mapping of the Internet may reveal the creator in a new light, hopefully not Man the God, but Man the inquisitive explorer. Ultimately man is a temporary tenant of Planet Earth. Reaching into inner space or cyberspace to see ourselves may someday inspire us to reach for the stars. I like that line from the 2014 film Interstellar:

Man was born on Earth, but he wasn’t meant to die here.

I give some links for Internet Map exploration:

Global Internet Maps

The Internet Map
Geonet
Internet Census 2012
The Opte Project
Ways to Map the Internet
.

drawing-hands
1.) I stopped watching/listening to the news at the beginning of the year. I am starting to feel a bit better! It’s not that I don’t care, but it’s all so negative and very repetitive. I’m tired of terrorism (7 days a week, 365 days a year for 12+ years) and Russia (ever since I can remember decades back), not to mention a plethora of diseases and a seemingly endless stream of sundry criminal activity. Enough is enough and I’d rather be uninformed than unhappy. I can’t avoid it entirely (the ‘News’) but can limit my exposure and see if it has further beneficial effects for me.

bad_news

All the news that’s fit to print today – all bad!


2.) My brother Jerry’s 2nd daughter was born at end of January. Her name is Nina Victoria, born on January 29, 2015, 7 lbs. 1 oz. I have some photos of the baby girl to share:

jerrys-2nd-daughter

My brother Jerry’s 2nd daughter


3.) The New England Patriots’s won their 4th Super Bowl on February 1, 2015, defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28–24 at University of Pheonix Stadium in Arizona. Booya!

new-england-patriots-super-bowl

New England Patriot’s – Super Bowl XLIX Champions!


4.) The visa for Tong was approved by the Chinese consulate in Guangzhou on February 3, 2015, and she can come to the USA now. Here is the timeline, more for my own reference, perhaps, but maybe of interest to others. See my blog post Looking Forward III for reference.

I-129F petition for visa (January 29, 2013)
Visa petition approved (September 12, 2014)
Notice for K-1 visa received (October 11, 2014)
Visa Interview Letter received (January 9, 2015)
Visa Interview in Guangzhou (February 3, 2015)

All-in-all, just about a year to have an approval for Tong to visit the USA from China. There is quite a lot of bureaucracy involved in such things, but it’s done now. Part of the problem is that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is involved in the process too (hence the ~8 months just to have a visa petition approved to apply for the visa!). It’s a Ridiculous department (DHS) and we need to get rid of it, but I won’t get started on that.

Chengdu-2

Me, Tong and her daughter, Yee, in Chengdu, China (Nov. 28, 2014)


5.) My father’s health is continuing to improve I think, and he had quite the difficult time last year and almost was near death. But he’s back, an although still has some issues, he says he feels good and continues to feel better. I last saw him 0n June 9, 2014 with my daughter Jennifer (a first since we had all been together since she was born in 1990). Tong and I will visit him when she comes to the USA…

Father&son-2014

My Dad, Jennifer, and Me – 3 generations!


Just some Life Notes here to share in 2015 for things I thought of note. This year is starting out great and the trend will continue I hope. It’s taken me a little over 1/2 century to reach a point in my life where I feel really satisfied and content (for the most part) about where I am as a person in the present, how I reflect on the past and what I see ahead of me in the future. As Joseph Campbell said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Understanding this is one thing, but really feeling it is something special!

Brian-Erice-Self

Erice, Sicily with view of Trapani (August 1, 2014)


We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot- 1955Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

~ T.S. Eliot (From the poem ‘Little Gidding’, 1942)

kirk-and-spock-travel-back-in-time-to-2014

As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:

spocklogic_Lyon-France_travel_blog.
spocklogic_Wroclaw-Poland_travel_blog.

spocklogic_Kirin-Hot-Pot_review.spocklogic_Long-Chao-Shou_review.
spocklogic_Ram-Pam-Pam-Pam_review.spocklogic_Raclawice-Panorama_review

That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…

city_on_the_edge_of_forever-kirk&spock

 

 

La_Rose_Dream-Dali

La Rose (Dream) – Salvador Dali

Dreams – they are the kind you can have when sleeping, but also the kind you have in life at looking to the future. It can be difficult to differentiate them sometimes as they spill over into each other, and I won’t limit the discussion here to one or the other, but favor the later. I always feel I have two lives, one lived in sleep and the other while awake, but they are intertwined in ways that make them mutually complimentary. On the whole, I think dreams are a good thing to have in life because they provide some positive outlook and a glimpse of the possible future ahead. They are, in essence, parts of ourselves yet undiscovered or unrealized. One of my favorite books in the bible is Ecclesiastes, as it is a philosophical chapter, and often invokes one to think a great deal about life. I also find it a source of great wisdom, religious aspects aside. Anyway, in there it says, “For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words” ~ (Ecclesiastes 5:3)

As most biblical verses, such things are generally about behavior towards God, but I see it also as reflection on achieving dreams. A dream does not come of itself usually, but requires effort to achieve. Simply speaking about it will not cause it to be, and is just the voice of a fool to think so. Just like in life, however, we don’t always get what we want or wish for, and dreams don’t always come true, or at least in the way we envisioned them. This is part of the reality of life. Oftentimes it may not be for lack of effort to achieve a dream, but a sequence of events that come together at the right time, sometimes even involving luck, that brings a dream to fruition. This is my feeling and it may be true that, “Dreams are the touchstones of our character.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849).

Just some food for thought here. Of course, the solitary dream mostly reflects our inner self, but when dreams are shared they have the power to transmit a vision outwardly to others. I end with an inspiration from Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist of the 20th century:

The_Right_to_Dream

WWII-propaganda

I suppose it is a question people abroad ponder, but it is a question pondered in the USA too. There is always some debate on the intent of the Founding Fathers and direction of the nation, but this is generally a fringe topic. Concentration in so-called ‘news’ is usually hyperbole, sensationalism, or something in the day to grab a headline. Sometimes there is good debate that is great. It is appropriate to inquire this time of year what it means to be an American and what American’s think of their own country. The Pew Research Center has done come statistics on this recently, and it is worth looking at:

Most Americans think the U.S. is great, but few say it’s the greatest – Pew Research Center statistics are used in the video below to try to answer what Americans think of their country, but there are always intangibles that enter into an equation and make a difference that way. Anyway, here’s a video summarizing that Pew Research Center study:

For the statistics mentioned in this piece, on the surface it seems alarming, but remember that statistics can be deceptive and used to promote an opinion by selectively sampling the data. In a perfect world the media would present what was a story in analysis from mathematics, but there is bias and in my opinion regarding the media (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, CNN, etc…) so the media ‘cherry picks’ to make a point. It is rather base and a simple minded method, but effective for ratings. For me, I find the major players in talk TV as bad as the politicians they critique. Liberal, conservative or middle of the road matters not to me, but what does matter is that something constructive is done over time and perhaps progress made.

I have traveled the world in my time and encountered many a perspective on America in foreign lands. The perception is always different from the reality, but even that reality has multiple pundits with a viewpoint. That is the really great nature of America – Free thought and expression, even against the government. I just wish such thought was not so partisan much of the time – Left vs Right, and it accomplishes what? I find the political system in America a blind following: Republicans to Republicans and Democrats to Democrats. They are equally contemptible for their inaction to achieve anything.

I am an American and I think we should solve problems, not by party lines, but as human beings and what society needs for solutions today and tomorrow. In my opinion I don’t think there has been a good President in America since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but even his initiatives have seen their day. Yes there has been progress in many ways since then, but not by presidential influence and more from grass roots and movements by the people for man as a whole – that is what makes America great.  What do Americans think? They think freedom is good and support that endeavor, whether implemented well or not, and fight for what is right in ways beyond the ordinary. Americans, in fact, strive for the extraordinary –  a rather unique concept in the world and one that has been in development since 1776.

Elvis spoke to me in a dream and said I should pay attention to “Suspicious Minds”. So, I got into that mode of thought and began to wonder on something I saw the other day before I had this dream. It was a photo of the unpacking of the head of the statue of Liberty in the late 1800’s, around 1885 -1886. You know, it kind of looks like Elvis. Maybe more than kind of looks like him, and it looks just like him when he was young! That’s freaky, I thought, but maybe just a coincidence. So, I began searching for more photos of the Statue of Liberty and found another one from 1885-1886 that looked like the old and fat Elvis. That can’t be, I thought. It was the same statue, but maybe I was seeing Elvis just because he came to me in a dream. Then I got to thinking how the Statue of Liberty does appear different depending on how you look at it. Before I go further, here are the comparisons I found between Elvis and Lady Liberty:

Elvis & Liberty - 1

Elvis (1958) & Liberty (1885 -1886)

Elvis & Liberty -2

Elvis (1977) & Liberty (1885 -1886)

I don’t know what it all could possibly mean. How can Elvis and the statue of Liberty have the same face? It defies reason and is not logical. Yet there it is plain as day.  Could all these faces have something to do with the face on Mars maybe? The resemblance is hard to make out here due to the quality of the image, and the US government and NASA have tried to hide this from the public for many years. I show the best quality available for the face on Mars here too and you decide! Maybe the crew of the Enterprise (TOS – The Original Series) needs to do one of those ring around the sun things that Scotty was against, but Spock said was theoretically possible, and go back in time to figure this out.

face_on_mars

Face on Mars

Elvis also told me to reset the initial conditions each day because, he said, parameters propagate out of control all the time. He didn’t sing to me, but made Karate moves in his appeal as he spoke. He told me my cats understood this already and could easily explain it to me if only I understood them. I didn’t really know what he meant by that. Aren’t people more intelligent than cats? I think Elvis was saying my cats reset their clocks everyday, but humans don’t. I did question my cats about this, but they didn’t seem to know anything and behaved as they always do. It’s funny though, and I never gave much attention to it before, but when there are stories of UFO’s, Bigfoot, Nessie and such things on TV, I catch my cats paying attention. When I look at them they turn away suddenly, even suspiciously. So many times I have questioned them intensely, and just as I think they are going to speak – I wake up!

The only fragments left are of a Conspiracy Theory Dream. Elvis has left the house, and I can recall some fragment of lyrics related to a ‘real’ song:

‘We can’t go on together with suspicious minds,
and we can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds.’

Meanwhile, my cats remain as they were before,  but I remember the words of Elvis, to reset the initial conditions each day. Nevertheless, I then try to recreate the dream here!  It is the nature of human beings to analyze and always question what is a dream and what is reality. It’s a thin line between what we know, what we dream, and what we perceive in the universe. As Shakespeare said: “The Play’s the Thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”

Shakespeare and the “King” – Elvis is back in the house and so begins another Conspiracy Theory Dream. I’m caught in a trap, and I can’t walk out! Am I awake or do I dream?