As I did at the end of 2013, 2014 & 2015, so I do again here at the end of 2017 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I did not post anything about my travels at the end of 2016, so this years post will cover my travels from 2016 and 2017. I need not give the setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notable travels from 2016 & 2017 (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

That’s the summary for 2016 & 2017. For the previous years travels, I include the links here for convenience, but all blog links can be found in the “Browse Blog Posts” at the top of the page.

Travels of Spocklogic
Travels of Spocklogic II
Travels of Spocklogic III

All in all, it was a good couple of years in travel with a visit to France in early 2016, visits to Sicily and Central Italy in the summer of 2016, and a trip to the Shenandoah region of Virginia in the fall of 2016. For this later blog on Shenandoah, I included a couple of other trips there with one from 2000 and another from 2005. Over the years, since I have lived in the state of Virginia, I have visited this area of the state maybe a dozen or so times, but I don’t have photos for all the visits there, and just the years 2000, 2005 and 2016. I also have a Virginia blog called “Virginia Perspectives” covering 1990-present that is a mix of travel & slice of life. The year 2017 consisted of a road trip to New England in the early summer and a trip to Brazil in late summer, my first trip to South America, making it my 5th continent to visit. There is also another blog I made on Places in Passing, which consists of entries regarding places I mentioned in passing, but did not write about in great detail. I have plans to fill in the narratives, but for now the entries display  photos and a reference link to a blog where the place was mentioned.

For a complete collection of blogs, one can always visit Spocklogic’s Travel Blogs at TravBuddy.

Best wishes for the New Year in 2018!



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 - Washington DC-1




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…



“Bond of Union” by M.C. Escher

Tong and I were married on May 24, 2015 on the steps of the Yorktown-Poquoson courthouse in a small ceremony where the marriage officiant performed the nuptials and did some additional readings too. One that was particularly meaningful goes as follows: Love is the reason we are here. In marriage we not only say, “I love you today” but also, “I promise to love you for all of our tomorrows.” Brian and Tong, in the days ahead of you, there will be stormy times and good times, times of conflict and times of joy. I ask you to remember this advice: Never go to bed angry; let your love be stronger than your anger. Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend than to break. Believe the best of your beloved rather than the worst. Confide in your partner and ask for help when you need it. Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship. Give your spouse the same courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friends. Say “I love you” every day.”


Two Become One – May 24, 2015

On a very personal note, I couldn’t help wonder where this woman had been most of my life – she is one of the kindest, even tempered, and patient woman I have ever known. She remained consistently present and part of my life through our courtship from a distance (she in China and me in the USA) and is never critical of me, though she does influence in her own way some avenues in which I can improve that I see as positive and very much welcomed. I think she sees in me the man aspire to be, but gently persuades in a direction and demeanor I appreciate. I consider myself fortunate to have a partner like Tong to go through life with now. On top of all that she’s mighty attractive too and I love her dearly. Whatever the twists and turns of life ahead we will have each other and our union is a fortunate one for both of us in togetherness. I am reminded of a stanza from the Jim Croce song “Time in a Bottle” that goes:

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty, except for the memory of how
They were answered by you

I’ve covered the details and process to got us to this day in some previous blogs:
Looking Forward III (Jan 2014)
Life Notes 2015 (Feb 2015)
Dragons and Tigers and Sheep – oh my! (Apr 2015)

After our marriage, we have since applied to adjust Tong’s status to ‘permanent resident’. There are a lot of forms and supporting documents to go along with such an application and it came in at close to 50 pages of stuff. Frankly, I find this sort of ridiculous, but governments and bureaucracies excel at this sort of morass. I have some opinions and thoughts on this topic which have been brewing for some time, being a federal employee myself, but I will save it for another time. This blog is for a time of celebration and happiness to share…


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:



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…




Loose-endsThe definition of ‘Loose Ends’ is given as: A part of something that has not been completed. In life we all have those things that are or were a part of us, but remain uncompleted. What satisfies understanding at least in the end of such things? In other words, what does it take to feel something is completed and there are no ‘Loose Ends’ left over? If it is a personal issue, I can say that all it takes is some communication. Silence can do a great deal of harm on its own over time, but a silence can be broken for making those ‘Loose Ends’ in life seem to fit together better. This is perhaps a thought of advancing years, when the days of youth are well behind, and there is a desire to feel centered, without the unresolved past to disturb that balance. The nature of a person is to guard the self – never mind the altruistic visions of love and giving yourself to another person. The women I have known in my life, without exception, chose self over love in the end. I don’t blame them – it’s a rational choice to believe in head over heart! This is, however, where ‘Loose Ends’ enter and caused by disparity between head and heart. It can be from a relationship, a job, a social occasion, and any other number of human interaction. My philosophical premise is that ‘Loose Ends’ come from head vs heart in human interaction.

We all have stores to tell, and I will tell some here:

1.) I knew a woman who did not want to leave her family and familiar surroundings to take a chance in life. We had a daughter together, and were divided to what was best. She chose her way and I chose mine. In time all the ‘Loose Ends’ were tied together because we communicated and had our daughter to take care of together, even though separate.

2.) I knew a woman who was in some conflict with her home life. I tried to get to know her, but pushed a bit too much maybe, and she pushed me away. That was lost long ago, but there was resolution to that ‘Loose End’  when she told me the whole story many years later. We communicated and brought our interactions to some understanding.

3.) I knew a woman who did not know whether she wanted to live or die, but took a chance on living. We were together for 10 years and I thought she loved me, but today I do not know if she ever did. I won’t speak on the details, but there were odd happenings at the end, and they were never explained to me. There was no communication to understand.

4.) I knew a woman who had issues with me, and was not afraid to speak of them. I appreciated this initially, but when it went on and on, one thing after another, I kept a distance always between us. We were together, but apart for 5 years. There was misunderstanding and pain in the end. We communicated a few years later and sought clarity with each other, to some success.

Well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad, but I should say that #1 was a constant communication, as it involved our daughter. In regards to #2, it didn’t happen until some 20 years later, so better late than never rings true and I am glad for that. She contacted me to discuss it, and that was meaningful. We are friends now. For #3 I am totally baffled. I have not talked to her for 10 years, but reached out to her a couple years ago. There was no response, so with no communication there can never be understanding. In selfish ways, I always felt she owed me an explanation on the odd happenings,  and all I did or tried to do for her in love and devotion. Some people just are not capable of facing the past and prefer to live as if some part of their life never happened. I can not judge and only say there are ‘Loose Ends’ there because there was no communication then or 10 years later now. This brings me to #4, which I have already written extensively about in this blog. I appreciate she reached out to me and wanted to have closure and tie up those ‘Loose Ends’. I think she has anger issues and she thinks I may have Asperger  Syndrome, albeit a mild form, but we can agree to disagree or consider what is inside us that needs to be thought about.

My examples and explanation here all deal with my relationships with women. In my life I have much of what I want or desired, not through any random luck, some with perseverance and belief in my abilities. In the ways of love & relationships I am perhaps a failure and it is the focal point for my ‘Loose Ends’ to tie them up. I have done so for the most part and feel happy for that. One is missing (#3) and I guess I just wish I knew the odd happenings that led to the end. The last time I saw her,  I hardly recognized her, and that memory stays with me to this day. Sometime the ‘Loose Ends’ have very long threads indeed. As I said, I have 3 out of 4 and that should be enough, but I was hoping for 4 out of 4 to say:

But thanks
For your time
Then you can thank me for mine
And after that’s said
Forget it!
If there was a word
But Magic’s absurd
I’d make one dream come true
It didn’t work out
But don’t ever doubt
How I felt about you

It a total perspective, the ‘Loose Ends’ in life do affect us in time and over time, and with communication they can become threads in the tapestry of life to make a story of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. I might maintain that some ‘Loose Ends’ may be good for us in the short term because they provoke thought, but in the long term, provoke a manifestly profound alteration of ones psyche. There is this quote usually attributed to Anain Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Maybe that’s what ‘Loose Ends’ tell us, more about the way we are than the way things are..


Cognitive Psychology Word Cloud

For my 100th blog posting, I’d like to do a little something different. We may all be tired of those titles with top 5, best 10, greatest 7 , amazing 3 and so on, but they do seem to resonate with people. So, I won’t be a snob about it and present here 5 useful tools (at least in theory) to improve your life and relationships (at least in practice). This is something I have become familiar with and/or accumulated as part of my knowledge through experience over a number of years, and was not born as a topic just recently. I am a physicist, not a psychologist, therapist or professional in studies of the mind, but I have these tools to offer from my own thinking and personal experience. I thought I would share them here and perhaps you, the reader, will find them useful and/or interesting perhaps.

1.) Transactional Analysis (TA): Transactional Analysis was developed by Dr. Eric Berne, and introduced in his book “Games People Play” published in 1964. Basically, it breaks people down into three categories of interaction, or ego states: Parent, Adult and Child. These states do not necessarily correspond to common definitions, but represent patterns in our mind on a conceptual basis. In essence it is something like: Parent – taught concept; Child – felt concept; Adult – learned concept. Transactional Analysis is a method of analyzing and improving communication by recognizing the various states of interaction. This link describes it in detail: Eric Berne M.D. There are some videos that are great for an intro to Transactional Analysis. 
Three different ones in fact (ego states & basic transactions, games, gimmicks). Watch the first, and then see links on that Youtube page to the others:

2.) Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Multiple Intelligences was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, and introduced in his book “The Shattered Mind published in 1975. His premise was that what we normally think of as intelligence (IQ) does not entirely explain the range of our cognitive ability, and there are other levels of intelligence of an interpersonal (understanding others) as well as intrapersonal (understanding oneself) nature. The term Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has some storied history, but for purposes here it is referred to as a sentimental capacity of the mind as opposed to a thinking capacity of the mind. It is EQ as opposed to IQ. There are 4 branches of Emotional Intelligence in regards to emotions: Perceiving, Reasoning, Understanding, and Managing. This link describes it in detail: What is Emotional Intelligence? The tool here is recognizing the levels of EQ. There is a good video by Daniel Goleman that introduces the topic:

3.) JoHari Window Model: The JoHari Window Model was developed by Joseph Luft and  Harry Ingram (hence the JoHari name) in the1950’s and its main purpose is to help us understand ourselves, and aid in building relationships with others. The model is fairly simple and is composed of a box with four components or areas: Open/Free, Blind, Hidden, and Unknown. This represents us and reflects our interactions with ourselves and others. So, we all have these four components and any one of the four boxes can stray into the others, but it’s a give and take, so the model is one of giving and receiving feedback in a sense. This link describes in detail: Understanding the Johari Window Model. There is a good video that explains the model:

4.) Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI): The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument was introduced by Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann in 1974 as a tool developed to measure an individual’s response to conflict situations. Here there are five different styles of conflict: Competing, Avoiding, Accommodating, Collaborating, and Compromising. It uses two axes labeled assertiveness and cooperativeness. It is similar to the JoHari Window Model in structure, but different in content. There is usually a questionnaire accompanying to asses the person and their conflict style, but it can be used as a tool like the JoHari Model too. The idea here is that people are not alike and have different ways of interacting, with conflict naturally being part of that interaction process. This tool helps with understanding conflict resolution. This link describes or illustrates in more detail: Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). A video explains it as well:

5.) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was introduced by Abraham Maslow in a 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review, and later fully elaborated on in the 1954 book “Motivation and Personality“. The hierarchy is interpreted usually as a pyramid (though Maslow never used this representation), with basic needs at the bottom and leading to higher levels of needs. They are (from bottom to top): Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem, Self-actualization. The idea here is that we all have needs, from the basic biological to the more sophisticated, and the complexity of the human mind has many motivations at once. In a sense we exist on all levels, but to which degree we focus on can determine how we progress from the basic to the sophisticated and what motivates us to do so. Needs determine behavior is the main point. This link describes in more detail: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Another interesting link can be found here: Abraham Maslow and the pyramid that beguiled business. The videos on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are mostly a mixed bag. This one is ok:

I would like to discuss Erikson’s Social Theory and Gestalt Theory too, but these are more complex and not so readily used as tools, so I will save them for another time. For now, remember that theory is fine for learning about such things for knowledge purposes, but to implement them takes practice and you have to use what you learn for it to be of benefit. That is why I titled the blog: 5 Tools (in Theory) for Improving Life (in Practice). Use them at your leisure for self-improvement. My descriptions of the tools are only meant for a brief introduction and take advantage of the links and videos to learn more. Learn the theory behind them first and then put them into practice. They may improve your life and relationships, or at the very least give you a different perspective that you may currently have.



……….I felt a cleaving in my mind
……….As if my brain had split;
……….I tried to match it, seam by seam,
……….But could not make them fit.

 ………The thought behind I strove to join
……….Unto the thought before,
……….But sequence ravelled out of reach,
……….Like balls upon a floor.

……….~Emily Dickinson (The Lost Thoughts)


Xietong – Great Wall at Juyongguan

DSC_3160 copy

Xietong – Anlan Bridge at Dujiangyan

“Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good, and melt at other’s woe.” 
~ Homer

I have a  fiancé in China and her name is Xietong (or Tong Xie in English). The circumstances of how Tong and I met are as follows: My good friend of many years in the USA (Gang Lei) had a good friend of many years in China (Ping Li) who had a friend (Ning Zhu) that knew Tong. So, we were introduced to each other and communicated in email for a couple of years until I finally came to China to visit Tong in her home city of Chengdu, but also visited Beijing together in travel ways. It was a splendid trip, and she definitely was the person I got to know in email, and then some… In sharing the time in person together, we made that bond a reality. Returning home to the USA, I didn’t wait long before before suggesting she come to the USA on a fiancé visa. Well, engaged in email maybe, but no sense waiting. We are right for each other I think and I’m ‘All In’ so to speak. I’ve come to believe two years is about all it should take to make a plan for a future together in Looking Forward with someone.

I remember sharing a song with Tong before we met called “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard & Marja Tuhkanen from the film “Once” (2006). When I visited Tong in China she told me she listened to it every night before bed. That is very sweet, and maybe is Our Song now, something in shared experience and sentiment towards each other for the meaning it has for us. We have some work ahead in Looking Forward, and some forms to fill in government bureaucracy in achieving a visa for Tong to come to the USA with me, but together we will see it through and find some happiness together. It’s a learning process for me in discovering all the ways a government can complicate two people just wanting to be together. Well, governments are mostly paranoid institutions and spy on each while making other nefarious and/or covert plans to gain political advantage in some pointless power struggle. So, they complicate life for everyone in this way. Most people just want basic things like shelter, family, love, rewarding work, and to enjoy life. This is my discovery in traveling the world, but one has to swim this sea of government silliness to secure any satisfaction. I don’t want to get started on this topic…


Xietong and Me in Chengdu

So this is part of my life at present and I think I found a ‘Real Love’. It is just a matter of time now and there will be good developments for 2014 in Looking Forward for Tong and me. The opening lyrics of the Bob Seger song “The Real Love” says it all:

I think I’ve found The Real Love
Genuine and true
I think it’s really come my way today babe
I think it’s really you

I remember moments looking in your eyes
Could have sworn I saw the spark of love babe
Flickering inside

I’ve been around and round this track
And the only thing I lack
Is The Real Love

I found the only thing I lack now, The Real Love, and it’s just a matter of government boundaries I suppose and swimming the red tape sea. That’s the way of the world and government institutions. Eventually people become free to be people…

Travel blog link: China – Beijing, Chengdu & Beyond (Nov 10-22, 2013)

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” ~ Steve Jobs

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