Friday, August 25, 2006

851 MST - Geography

[MST = More Silly Tests]
You are challenged. It was actually pretty difficult. I got worried when it said the first questions were easy, and I GUESSED on almost all of them. I wish there were some way to find out what the correct answers were short of looking up every question.

Very Smart
You scored 76% knowledge, and 12% confusion

You are very smart. You know a lot of details about the world. You have
probably traveled a bit and were paying attention along the way. Also,
you didn't choose any (or many) seriously incorrect answers. Great job
on that part.
Link: The World Geography Knowledge Test written by dowland2005 on OkCupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

850 Tests - My Sins; Dating Strengths & Weaknesses

Sheesh. Either I'm an angel, or I'm depressed, or I've gotta get a life!

Greed:Very Low



Sloth:Very Low



Pride:Very Low

Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz


Dating Strengths and Weaknesses

I think the "Appearance" score is based on questions about my wardrobe, which I described as not especially fashion-conscious, and my face, which I described as ordinary. I haven't the faintest idea where the "Humorlessness" came from. I can't tell jokes well, but I most certainly am NOT without a sense of humor! It's just subtle. Besides, I think men are more pleased when you laugh at their jokes than when you tell your own. (And I'm more interested in someone who finds humor in everyday things than someone who whips off jokes, anyway. So there.) ((Hmmmm. Am I sounding humorless here?)) (((See? Subtle.)))

Dating StrengthsDating Weaknesses
1. Financial Situation - 100%
2. Independence - 85.7%
3. Generosity - 66.7%
4. Optimism - 57.1%
5. Varied Interests - 57.1%
1. Shyness - 79.2%
2. Insecurity - 61.5%
3. Appearance - 55.6%
4. Humorlessness - 50%

Dating Strengths Explained
Financial Situation - You've got your financial situation under control, which is a very desirable quality. Be careful to avoid men who are only interested in your money.
Independence - Your strong sense of independence comes in handy while dating. You are not held back or tied down; you are free to pursue your interests.
Generosity - You are a giving person by nature. Others will see this quality in you and recognize your kind nature. Take care not to let others take advantage of you.
Optimism - People are drawn to your positive outlook. Your optimism attracts others to you.
Varied Interests - You don't limit yourself, and that's a dating asset. Your varied interests make you available and interesting to a wider range of men.

Dating Weaknesses Explained
Shyness - You know all too well the limits shyness places on you. Putting yourself out there in social situations may be difficult, but essential to your dating success.
Insecurity - Your insecurity makes you doubt yourself, but you must learn to love and trust yourself if you want to succeed in dating.
Appearance - Devoting a greater effort at making good first impressions is a must. Try to be fit and develop a style if you want to catch a man's attention.
Humorlessness - You need to learn how to take a joke, or better yet how to tell a good one. A well-developed sense of humor is high on the list of desired traits for daters.

Dating Strengths and Weaknesses Quiz

Thursday, August 24, 2006

849 County Fair

Thursday, August 24, 2006

[Later edit - got some questions about a hydrax - added a link to a photo of a hydrax. They live in Africa.]

I went to the county fair today.

On the way through the village, I stopped and had a cup of tea with Piper. His Mother had been in the hospital in Florida with a heart problem, and his youngest daughter had been undergoing tests in upstate NY for an unknown problem, so I wanted to stop in and check on how they were doing. Both problems seem to have resolved ok. Oddly enough, Roman's father is also currently in the hospital, so he's going back and forth to LI, and is keeping me posted. It looks like that may be ultimately be ok, too. I guess we're all just at an age where if we still have parents, we have crises.

At the fair, I discovered I have a hidden talent. My first stop was the cow barns, and they were having a dairy cow judging in the ring. I don't know anything about the criteria, but I decided I liked this one cow the best, and she won first place. The judge, in awarding the ribbon, said she was 11 years old, old for a dairy cow, but she still looked great, very compliant, handles well, excellent this and that blah blah. Whoo.

Then I went to the sheep pens, and they were judging junior rams (born this spring). There were about 10 of them, and I picked the one with the girl in the green shirt. Then the judges picked some to line up on one side, then some more, then ... and my ram was the last one chosen for the lineup. I thought that meant he was last, but he got the blue ribbon! I chose well again.

Maybe cows and rams just come down to a beauty contest?

Those rams were youngsters, their wool had been clipped down short, they were still lightweight compared to the more mature rams, but they certainly weren't lacking where ramhood counts! They had huge bags hanging way down under them, so low, loose, and dangly it looked like it could be dangerous to attempt to jump over anything. It looked like plain walking could be awkward, especially on uneven ground. After thinking about it, I realized it was actually necessary. This way, when their wool is long and full, the factory would be below the wool and thereby left cool, which is good for fertility. Very good design. If I were building a sheep, I might not have thought of that.

I walked everywhere, watched parts of an equestrian competition and a dog trial, visited a sow with her ten new piglets, watched some guinea fowl chicks hatch, got into quite a conversation with some older men in the antique tools building about black locust wood, manure spreaders, teapots, kings, and sealing wax. There was a man about my age doing a manikin/robot bit in the horticulture building. He was about the best I've ever seen - drew quite a crowd. He made eye contact with me, and I raised an eyebrow and smiled, and he raised an eyebrow and smiled, and we had quite a flirtation going there for a bit. When I winked at him and left, he raised his hat and bowed. Flattering.

Looking at the cows, milk goats, and the mother sow got me thinking about breasts. I think it's odd the way it worked out. People, elephants, seals, monkies, and apes normally have two near the front limbs (although four is not uncommon (but the other two don't develop - why not?)). Deer, goats, and sheep (I think) have two near the hind legs. Some of my dogs and cats have had six, some eight, and good old Smokey cat had 10, and they are placed along the length of the torso, mostly toward the front. At first glance, you'd think it had something to do with the number of babies they normally have, but what about cows? They have 4 at the back (sometimes 6, but the rear-most 2 don't develop. Do they not develop naturally, or because the milking machines are set up for 4?. Why the extra ones?) The sow had 12 that were swollen with milk (for ten piglets), but she also had at least six more that weren't swollen - the last two were so far back they were actually sticking straight out behind her on her rear end. It would appear that the number of teats is rather arbitrary, and the location doesn't follow logical rules. I wonder where they are on a hippo? Or a hydrax (which is related to the elephant).

I always, always, forever and ever, get french fries with malt vinegar (must be dark malt) at the fair, just before I leave. It's the only place they taste absolutely perfect. I got in line to get them today, and then suddenly, I didn't want them. I don't know what happened. I just turned around and left. I had tasted the vinegar before I got in line, to make sure they had the right stuff, so maybe that's all I really wanted - a taste of the vinegar.

I bought a dress - an Indian cotton shift. (Daughter - this is about the eye color, which we already talked about, so you can skip these two paragraphs.) All my life people have been telling me my eyes are gray. (My mother, in her typically disparaging way, called them mud gray.) When I look in the mirror, I see light green. Obie had told me they were green. But I've been obedient and compliant and always wrote "gray" on forms and applications. I always tell friends, "If you love me, you'll tell me my eyes are green", and they usually comply - with a snicker. I look in the mirror and wonder. The mirror must lie. I never knew what color my eyes really were, what other people see. (Roman, BTW, has kaleidoscope eyes - brown, hazel, green, gray, and blue in sparks and slivers.)

So, I had picked up a light sage dress. If you've seen Indian cotton dresses, you've seen the color. Pale green with a silvery cast. I was holding it in front of me at the mirror when a woman behind me (another shopper) said "Oh, my God! That dress matches your eyes perfectly!" Her friend said "Let's see", so I took my glasses off and turned around, and she said "Oh, yes! You couldn't find a better match!" Some other women agreed. I held the dress away from me and looked at it, and yes, although there's a silvery cast, it's definitely in the green group. Not gray. Green. Silvery green, but green. I held it close to my face and looked in the mirror, and yes, that's the color I've always seen. My eyes are sage.

Here I am, almost 62 years old, and I finally find out that my eyes are sage.

Too bad that's not a choice on forms.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

848 MWG- The Return Home

Wednesday, August 23, 2006.

I returned from Florida on Wednesday, the 16th. A friend picked me up at the Newark airport, at a little after 4 pm. He was funny - for some reason he didn't want to park in the short-term lot, so he went 'round and 'round past the arrivals doors until he spotted me, and then he had to go around again to get into position to pull over near where I was standing.

The plan was that we would pick up his daughter, who lives near the stadium, and we three'd go to dinner. I was looking forward to meeting his oldest daughter (early 30s-ish), partly because he was excited about it. I was aware he and his daughters have a strained relationship, stemming from his divorce from their mother. He wasn't sure exactly where she lived, so he called her on the cell when we left the airport. There followed much missing of exits, U-turns, reports of "We're heading south on 3", "Now we've heading north on 3", "South on 3 again", "We just passed the Ramada" and so on. And then a car zoomed past us, and a female arm waved out the window, and he said "That's her." Egads! I couldn't help wondering, if they decided to meet mid-interstate highway, wouldn't it have been easier to simply park at the Ramada, and say, "We're in the Ramada parking lot?"

I guess I don't understand city folk.

We followed her to Hoboken, and ended up at "Lua", on a street or boulevard named after Frank Sinatra, right on the riverfront, with a view across the river encompassing all of Manhattan Island. Pretty impressive. That's the Empire State Building behind the (tall) stop sign. Look at the view, and then consider the prices of the drinks, and the menu. He and I were both under the impression that it was us three, but apparently she called 5 or 6 of her closest friends to join us. As it turned out, 2 more friends coincidentally showed up. We sat in the bar until our group got too large, then we moved to tables outside (where the photo was taken). All the friends were in their early thirties, except for one guy (wearing several thousand dollars of Wall Street suit and trimmings) who was 47. The girls kept trying to hook me up with him. I protested that "he's a BABY! Much too young! He'd be more interested in you than me!" And he was....

Nobody ordered a full meal, but there were a lot of appetizers shared. I began to wonder if, even with all the hugging and good-natured teasing of my friend, his daughter hadn't set this up to put the financial screws to good old Daddy. Or maybe this is normal for them. I don't know.

We got home a little before midnight.

That was a week ago this evening, and it feels like longer. I've been getting gradually more and more depressed since then, as a lot of stuff has begun to sink in - the stuff about my brothers, my breakup with Roman, the mess that is my house, finances (I committed to this trip before I found out I had to replace the roof), and other stuff. Daughter seems to be in power-struggle mode, I don't know what I did to tick her off, I'm lost in a lot of areas.

Since I removed my things from Roman's, the Friday before I left for Florida, he has called me four times, and I've called him four times at his request, a lot more than before we said we were finished. The phone conversations are fine, nice even, but we've seen each other twice in the past week, since I've returned home, both times before and after group dinners, and both were not fun. Strained. He wanted to come to my home last night before the dinner, maybe he could fix my phone, he said, but I said no, that I needed time to get used to the idea of him not being here before I could allow him here again. If you know what I mean.

It's pretty definite that we are finished, but it's also pretty definite that we're going to have to be a lot more definite about it. I'd like to be able to think of him as gay, so we could be friends, but I'm too aware of how interested and interesting he is otherwise, so that won't work. I told him last night he confuses me, and he understood, so I think maybe he'll be more distant now. Which is depressing. I think he's just trying to be nice, to show me that he really does still care, but his niceness, and the things he says and does to show caring, just confuse me.

Plus there seems to be a lot of things wrong with me. My tongue feels hot, it's coated, and it tastes funny. I've got a yeasty smell from my skin creases, ever since that last time in the whirlpool. And for several weeks now, I've been having problems with my legs. Sometimes one or both legs (usually the right one) stop listening to me. I've had the problem for decades, where when I first get up from bed, unless I "work" them in bed before standing, my legs don't work well for the first dozen steps, almost like the nerves have to relearn walking, and also a bit less extreme when I get up from sitting too long in a chair that doesn't fit right. But lately, it happens spontaneously. It'll be only for an instant, but the leg just "goes away". Mostly I just stagger, but I have fallen sideways a few times. It depends on how well I'm balanced when it happens. My legs frequently feel weak, and yet I can walk for miles with no difficulty, even when they feel weak. I suspect it's stenosis in my lower back. No pain, but then I always have a certain level of pain, so I might not notice. (No, it's not, or not yet, Cauda Equina Syndrome. That's what Ex#2 had, and he had it for years and years. My "lower body functions", with the exception of the leg(s), work just fine.)

I guess it's time to see a doctor. Blech! They'll probably want to poke holes in me, and torture me, and then tell me there's nothing they can do anyway. But the list of concerns is growing, so....

I'm going to the fair tomorrow. I am determined to have fun.

847 MWG - Animal Kingdom

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On Tuesday, my last full day at the Disney resort, I decided to go to Disney's Animal Kingdom. I chose that one because over the decades I've been to all the others, and I believe this one is relatively new.

Bad choice. It wasn't laid out as well as other "kingdoms". It had a carnival air. Most of the rides would be more at home at the county fair. There was even what looked like a midway.

I went on a "safari", which would have been more interesting without the stupid story line about chasing poachers, and especially without the addition of passing the "ranger plane", wherein the plastic "ranger" looked like something your neighbor might put in his front yard at Halloween - totally unconvincing.

I went on one ride, where we were in "time machines", and went "back to the Jurassic" to see the dinosaurs. It was so cheaply done! I expected much better from Disney. The dinosaurs looked just plain fake, like something in a, well, carnival fun house. One that gets moved around a lot.

There were animals, but I felt sorry for them. Except for those in the "safari" area, they were in "naturalized" areas that were actually no more than little pens. It must have been very boring for them.

Another thing is that it seemed a lot more commercial that it used to be. And no, it's not my age. I'm not jaded. I last visited Disney in my early 50's, when we visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Discovery Island (before it became the Animal Kingdom), and a bunch of other stuff, including Universal, and it was amazing then, and I hoped it would still be.

It was the hottest day yet of my stay, but there were none of the cooling water sprays I had been led to expect. The dominant sound was children crying, "Mommy, I'm so hot", "I'm so hot my head hurts", much sobbing and wailing. The parents would say "Well, we can go back to the hotel if you like", and that only made the kids cry harder. You can't be six years old at Disney World, and leave because it's too hot. They just wanted Mommy and Daddy to make the hot go away.

The whole experience was depressing.

This is the fake tree in the middle of the center Island. You couldn't get close to it. It has animals depicted in the bark:

Took this one on the safari:

This was in the "Asia" section. It's one of those heavily decorated buses, serving the best soft ice cream. That's either The Matterhorn, or Everest, in the background, I forget. Or maybe even Kilimanjaro. Probably Everest, 'cause a Yeti was going to jump out at some point. Whatever. Nothing was certain. It's a roller coaster ride. With a 1.5 hour wait. Even with the "fast pass".
While waiting in line at the "trip to the Jurassic", we were treated to displays of fossils and such. The woman behind me said to her friend, "What's that? Oh, that's just more of that evolution garbage." Sigh.

After I left the Animal Kingdom, I ate in a restaurant just outside the gates - an experience in itself. It's apparently a chain, but maybe it's good for them that I can't remember the name. Huge inside. Lots of enormous tanks of fish. Clumps of fake trees with gorillas and elephants. Ceiling of tree branches and leaves and looping vines, and monkeys. NOISE! Elephants trumpeting, gorillas hooting, monkeys chattering, and every 10 or 15 minutes, there was a thunderstorm - flashing lights and thunderbooms. Aaaaaaagh! But I took this picture of a fish in one of the tanks - I was fascinated by its face. Yes, it's a real live fish.

I meant to include this in an earlier entry, but I forgot, so you're getting it here. This was an ordinary fan on a patio at the hotel, until a Mensan got to it:

That night I talked with Roman (phone). I told him I was packing, and wanted to go to the whirlpool, but it was getting late. He advised me to go anyway, so I did, and I'd be glad that I did, except that there seemed to be something wrong with the chlorine, the smell of bleach was very strong, and I seem to have picked up a slight yeast infection. (No, not there - I haven't had that in 30 years - all the yogurt I eat I suppose. This involves skin folds. I have since increased my yogurt intake, after not having had any on the vacation. Sigh.)

By the end of the day, I was more than ready to go home.

846 MWG - Visit With My Sister

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back to my vacation. My sister met me at the hotel on Sunday afternoon, the 13th. (I'm the 1944 oldest, then a 1949 brother, then 1950 this sister, then 1952 another sister(deceased), then a 1961-ish brother.) The Mensa activities weren't over yet, but there were very few people remaining. Most had already left for the airport.

The hotel is kind of restrictive as to who can drive in, so I told the "greeter" outside, where the cars pull up, that I was expecting my sister. He asked what kind of car she was driving. I said I didn't know - I haven't seen her in 16 years. He asked what her name is, and I said I didn't know - she's recently divorced, and I'm not sure what name she's using now. He looked at me funny.

Oh, well, this is pretty much par for my family.

She arrived, we had lunch, and then we went to my room and talked for a long while.

Strange. I've always had a lot of resentment toward her because of the way she set me and our younger sister up for beatings when we were young, and because she destroyed so many of the few things I had back then, and because of her having used me so blatantly when she got into trouble in her early 20s. I always saw her as a user to whom truth was an abstract concept, someone to be suspicious of. There was always distrust and anger simmering under the surface.

Sunday afternoon, in a matter of literally minutes, that all went away. We talked some about our childhood, something we'd never talked about before. I had come to the realization about 6 years ago that our mother deserved as much blame as our father. She didn't protect us from him, but that could be excused. There was danger in that. But more, she didn't "teach" us, either. We got no life instruction, no encouragement, no social training, nothing. She never really talked with us, or wanted to hear what we had to say, or worried about what we felt. It was like the five of us were just things that had arrived and had to be tolerated until we left. Like a herd of puppies or something. But even puppies, you play with and hug sometimes.

Sister came to that realization also within the past two or three years. I was surprised when she brought it up. I felt disloyal thinking that of my mother, because when she was older, after our father had died, in the last decade before she died, she tried to repair the damage that had been done - which mostly involved her paying for lawyers, bail, rehab - but it was too little too late. And she complained about the necessity.

We talked about our siblings.

Our little sister drank herself to death in her early 40s.

Oldest brother is so violent he has put everyone he ever loved in the hospital, we're talking serious injuries, and he is a user, a predator, and I don't think sociopath would be going too far. He avoids Sister because she knows too much about some things he had done, and if he ever contacts me, my first thought would be "What does he want?" But he won't contact me because he doesn't know whether I know about something he did during the time he was staying with us in Washington in the early '80s. I think I know now why he moved out so precipitously, without leaving a forwarding address or phone number. I didn't know until last week. I thought it was because he was in trouble with some drug runners and didn't want to be found (which was true, but not the cause). But I've figured out what he did. It explains a lot.

Our baby brother is deep into serious addictions, and Sister says she hasn't heard from him in like five years.

Sister and I are all that's left, and we know we're lucky we've made it - we're almost surprised we made it - I through psychotherapy, and she through religion.

For the first time, I forgave Sister completely for all those past wrongs - we had never been taught differently - in fact, as she pointed out, we were purposely set against each other and didn't know any other way. I think we'll be in closer touch now.

On Monday, she picked me up and we went to her daughter's house. I had been sort of dreading the visit, because my niece has five children under nine, and she and her husband are very religious. She homeschools. I'm not real good around the activity level of a herd of small children, and let's face it, no body wants to admire someone else's grandchildren.

It was nice. The children really are beautiful, and quiet and well behaved, and they obviously love each other. No fighting, no competition. The oldest boy is a bit of an attention hog, but he knows when he's gone too far. Sister had arranged a computer video call (Skype?) to her eldest daughter, who lives with her new husband in Belguim. That was pretty neat, and with lunch, the major activity of the afternoon. When I get my new PC, I want that, too!

I had asked that I be returned to the hotel about 5 pm. Sister was taking her youngest daughter out for dinner for her birthday that evening and I could have gone along, but ... well, I needed recovery time.

Sister and me:

That's NOT my behind sticking way out in the second picture! It's a dark container in the flower bed behind me. Really!!! Look carefully!
I look more than six years older than she. But then, I had a hard life. (Oops, so has she.) Well, I'm a widow. (Oops, her voice still cracks when she talks about how her ex hurt her.) Well, that's my natural hair color. (Oops, she has dark roots. DARK, darn it!) Well, she gets regular good sex. My well went dry. Yeah, that's it! Besides, she has a boyfriend who paid for multiple laser facial treatments. So there. Harrumph! (I want a one a them, too! Not the laser treatments, necessarily, but a boyfriend who could pay for them would be handy. Hell, a boyfriend would be handy!)

Sister and her youngest will be attending my daughter's wedding reception in a few weeks. I'll pick them up at the airport, and we'll get close rooms at the hotel, so we'll get some more time together then.

845 Break Time

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Break-thru Medications.
...For Women Only!!!

D a m i t o l
Take 2 and the rest of the world can go to hell for up to 8 hours.

S t. M o m 's W o r t
Plant extract that treats mom's depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to six hours.

E m p t y N e s t r o g e n
Highly effective pill that eliminates melancholy by enhancing the memory of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn't wait till they moved out.

P e p t o b i m b o
Liquid silicone for single women. Two full cups swallowed before an evening out increases breast size, decreases intelligence, and improves flirting.

D u m e r o l
When taken with Peptobimbo, can cause dangerously low I.Q. causing enjoyment of country western music.

F l i p i t o r
Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.

A n t i b o y o t i c s
When administered to teenage girls, is highly effective in improving grades, freeing up phone lines, and reducing money spent on make-up.

M e n i c i l l i n
Potent antiboyotic for older women. Increases resistance to such lines as, "You make me want to be a better person ... can we get naked now?"

B u y a g r a
Injectable stimulant taken prior to shopping. Increases potency and duration of spending spree.

E x t r a S t r e n g t h B u y - O n e - A l l
When combined with Buyagra, can cause an indiscriminate buying frenzy so severe the victim may even come home with a Donnie Osmond CD or a book by Dr. Laura.

J a c k A s s p i r i n
Relieves headache caused by a man who can't remember your birthday, anniversary or phone number.

A n t i-t a l k s i d e n t
A spray carried in a purse or wallet to be used on anyone too eager to share their life stories with total strangers.

R a g a m e t
When administered to a husband, provides the same irritation as ragging on him all weekend, saving the wife the time and trouble of doing it herself.

Monday, August 21, 2006

844 MWG - The People

Monday, August 21, 2006

I don't know how many people attended the Mensa World Gathering. I had heard a few months ago that they had over 2,000 registered. There would have been more since then, and people were arriving as early as Tuesday with no pre-registration or hotel reservations. I suppose a future issue of the Journal will have the details.

There was a map outside the hospitality room for people to stick a pin in to show where they were from:
Observation - Mensans are getting older. I noticed it, and overheard several others remark on it. We were heavily into late middle age, with more than a few in their 70s and 80s and perhaps even beyond. I also noticed that at least half, maybe more, of the members are frankly obese, and half of those are into the morbidly obese range. We're talking over 450 pounds. So many men and women who walked by rolling from side to side, so many backsides rising and heaving and roiling with every step. It was pretty ugly.

By the third day, many had rented 3-wheeled buggies from the hotel, and used them to go from room to room. (More like hospitality room to restock the snack load to meeting room to hospitality room to meeting room to ....) I was disgusted by the number of horribly fat people who seemed to be stuffing yummies into their faces constantly, even during the sessions.

Worse was the cellophane crinklers. Hey folks, learn how to do it! If you insist on eating through a meeting, learn to hold the bag in one hand, and pour the candies quietly into the other hand. Cramming your fat paw into the crinkle crinkle crinkle bag every 8 seconds is incredibly annoying! Not to mention disgusting.

Weight and age became problems when it was discovered that the hotel trolleys (golf-cart looking trams that could ferry up to nine passengers around the lake to their rooms) didn't run after 10:30 pm. The sessions ran until long after midnight. I walked out of the conference center at 10:45 Tuesday night and found two very fat women and an elderly man with a cane engaged in an argument with a trolley driver. They were insisting that the hotel had said the trolley ran until 11 pm. The trolley driver was insisting that they stopped at 10:30. He gave in when he realized that there was otherwise no way these people could possibly make it to their rooms on the other side of the lake. I hope they tipped him, but these being Mensans (notoriously tight-fisted) I doubt it.

The next day, this appeared: Mensa had sprung for some additional trolley time.

The hotel said the trolleys ran "every five minutes". Bull poopy! As far as I could tell, there were only two of them, and you would wait easily 15 to 25 minutes before one made it around the lake, depending on how many stops it had to make, and by then the number of people waiting was so large that fewer than half could get on, so one actually ended up waiting more than a half hour. I rode the trolley only once, and then only to check it out. I could walk to my room in 20 minutes, so the wait didn't seem worth it.

In every group of Mensans, there is usually at least one who is determined to "show up" the speaker. These are the ones who will study up on the topic ahead of time, and then ask "innocent" questions carefully designed to either trip up the speaker, or make it look like they know more than the speaker. I didn't see too much of that this time. The audiences were remarkably respectful. I don't know why. Of course, there were still a few, and it was funny, because every time it happened, it was obvious the questioner had been working at formulating his question instead of listening, because when they triumphantly asked the zinger question, the speaker had already answered it in his presentation moments before. Now that was funny!

Well, there was one presentation where it became annoying. I think maybe I didn't write about this one (there were several I didn't mention). It was about walking tours of Paris, and there were three women in the room who wanted to make sure that everyone knew that they were at least as familiar with Paris as the speaker. And since there were the three of them, they then tried to out-Paris each other. It began to be difficult for the speaker to continue her presentation. No matter what she recommended to see, one of these three had something better.

Here's a view of the hospitality room:
The snack tables were across the back wall, and there was a bar in the back right corner. I'm not sure what they had at the bar, but it didn't look like it was heavily patronized. Along the left wall there were four (count 'em, four!) computers for the use of the several thousand members. Fifteen minute time limit, enforced I assume by the next person in line to use one. I didn't even try.

There were Mensans working with the hotel security, which I thought was pretty neat. They had badges and pagers and all. One of them was in the back of the room in a session, and I guess he forgot to turn the pager/scanner off or down, because we heard:
First voice: "Um, Joe? Do you know if anyone has found that lost package yet?"
Joe: "Lost package? What lost package? (Pause) Oh, do you mean the kid?"

843 MWG - The Programs (Part 2c)

Monday, August 21, 2006

More synopses of the sessions I attended at the Mensa World Gathering at Disney World. And I'd better finish this pretty soon - things are already drifting away. My notes are starting to turn into cryptic phrases like "The doorknob comment." I don't have the faintest idea what that referred to, but it must have been pretty good at the time....

Which reminds me - I came off with one good comment that got me noticed. In one of the more popular sessions, all the seats were filled, and all the spots on the floor and against the wall, and people were still trying to get in. The speaker had to turn people away, saying "Sorry, there are no more seats", and I spoke up and said, "No, actually there are plenty of seats. Everyone here has a lap." I didn't think it was THAT good, but the whole room roared, and for the rest of the day people were coming up to me and saying "Good one!"

I'm a little surprised that I didn't get more upset about the rooms being packed so far past the allowed occupancy. Having been in a fire which resulted in a stillbirth (in 1970), I am very conscious of fire exits and clear access and so on. I complained so much at the local auction hall about people parking in the driveway, blocking potential firetruck access, that they finally put up signs. We Mensans were violating so many safety rules it was ridiculous, but for some reason it didn't bother me. Until now.


Orange Blossom Boys - The Untold Story of the World's Most Famous Fiddle Tune

I ddn't take notes during this, so I don't have the details, but the talk was about the Orange Blossom Special, and the two men, Ervin T. Rouse and Chubby Wise, who each claimed to have written it (individually, not together). Both were alcoholics, reclusive, and neither ever made any money off the tune. The heirs of both men now claim the tune. The speaker set out to find out the true story. The talk was about the lives of the men, and the story of the writing of the tune, which has been chronicled in the book Orange Blossom Boys. His conclusion is that Rouse should get the credit.

Stem Cells: Myths and Reality

About the current stem cell lines (only three viable lines remain). Difference between embryonic and adult stem cells, and what they can do. Aging and death is mainly due to adult stem cell malfunction. There are four types of adult stem cells, and each become tissue of a particular group type - bone & marrow, muscle, neural, and smooth muscle (like heart). You can't culture stem cells to, like, build a heart. It ain't gonna become a heart, folks. However, you can strengthen existing tissue with the addition of stem cells. Don Ho recently flew to Thailand, where his heart was injected with some of his own stem cells, which then became additional heart muscle, strengthening the damaged parts. (Other countries don't have the restrictions on stem cell research that we have, and progress is being made elsewhere.) She also touched on the realities of cord blood banking, and what's going on in animal research, and the difficulties of translating it to humans.

Lawyers' Games

I don't know what I expected when I chose this, but ... it wasn't what I expected. The moderator posed a situation, like: "The music stopped, and the woman died." We had to figure out the whole story, by asking him only yes/no questions. I did pretty well, solving three of the twelve. What's really distressing is that I wrote down all twelve scenarios, but none of the solutions (thinking that they were obvious once you knew them), and now I can't remember half of them!

Ok, I'll give you one. But you have to promise that if it's ever posed to you, you have to admit that you already know and exempt yourself. In the one above, people spent a lot of time trying to pin down what kind of music, whether it was a public performance, whether the woman was playing or not, whether it was an accident or murder, etc. It was finally determined that it was a public performance, she was performing, but was not playing an instrument, or singing, or dancing, she was merely walking, the stopping of the music was the proximate cause of her death, she was murdered, she died of falling, she did not fall off the stage or down stairs. And then the room went silent. Everyone was stumped. I couldn't think of any other falling danger in a theater. I closed my eyes and flipped through the file in my head, trying to find someplace where there's music, a performance involving walking, with danger of falling, and then opened my eyes and asked, "Did this take place at a circus?"

The moderator shouted a very loud "YES!", and the rest was easy. The answer is left as an exercise for the reader.

Pre-Christian New World Megaliths (Emphasis on Dolmans)

A dolman is a large capstone resting on three stone supports. (Almost always three, sometimes four.) Apparently there are a lot of them in the Michigan/Wisconsin area. That area is also a source of very pure copper, and from around 2750 BC men mined copper there, removing more than 50 million pounds of copper, which managed to somehow find its way into European bronze age tools. Huh? Why have we never heard this before? "People don't count data that doesn't fit with their theories." Oh. Ok.

The speaker and much of the audience were fascinated by the dolmans. How did ancient peoples get those huge rocks up on top of the supports? One woman said "And it MUST be by design. I mean, all over the world, always three supports. That CAN'T be natural!"

Ok. At that point I choked. I do think that maybe some of them were manmade. But it is my opinion that most of them are in fact natural, that manmade ones were in imitation of the natural (and actually fairly easy to do), and three supports is an argument FOR, not against, a natural cause. Three is Nature's magic number for static support. If you have a boulder resting on rubble, and over time bits of the underlying rubble gets washed away or otherwise removed, eventually the boulder will remain, resting on three unremovable supports. It's almost a law! And for manmade ones, how did "they" get that huge rock to balance on three supports? You roll the flippin' thing onto a pile of rubble, then remove stones. It will automatically balance on three. Stone Age Chenga. That's probably why all the ones not near known glacier drops are round.

Sheesh. I said that in the session and almost got thrown out.

Cultural Diversity

The speaker is an advisor to police departments and investigative communities. She talked about how you can't draw conclusions based on demeanor, when the subject is from a different culture. She also went into how when we travel, gestures or statements can be misinterpreted with disastrous results. The American way of indicating the number of diners with innocently raised fingers, for example, is very nasty in some cultures. Many humorous examples. No notes. I was tired. Bite me.

Adventures in Condo Management

This was one of the most interesting any yet lightest attended sessions. I'm still not sure what led me to choose it - certainly not the title. Maybe the mention of the dead body in the description.

The speaker told us about starting to invest in inexpensive rental condo units. He bought a fire damaged one cheap and repaired it himself, then bought some more, then a water damaged one. After ripping out and replacing the walls and ceiling, he noticed there was still an odor, and thought maybe the adjoining condo had suffered damage too (mold in the walls), so when that one came up for sale, he decided to buy it, too. Then things got interesting.

The text of this portion of the story is, in large part, at There's also a pointer there to the photographs. After reading the text, I highly recommend that you go look at the photos - that's the good part! They take forever to load on my slow connection, so if they load slowly for you, I recommend that you look at, at least:
  • 3 - The trash up the wall, those dark things on the wall and looping from the ceiling are spider webs. The place was infested with spiders, living on the roaches.
  • 4 - The living room floor
  • 13 - Hallway to the kitchen
  • 18 - Dining area
  • 26 - Kitchen. The falling ceiling distracted him from noticing the body
  • 27 - The sofa the man was lying on is on the right. Notice the vodka bottles, full of "reprocessed" vodka.
  • 35 - Bathroom toilet, full, but long past dried solid
  • 37 - Bathroom sink - note the attempt at organization, "lightbulbs go here"
  • 44 - The body in the kitchen - don't look if you're squeamish
  • 100 - After renovation. His advice - rent to gay guys, "they're clean"

If they load fairly quickly, I recommend also
  • 7 - Trash in the living room
  • 10 - Spider webs! Note the old attempt at organization - cans on one side, paper on other
  • 23 - Washer/dryer. Relatively clean, clean clothes in washer.
  • 24 - The bedroom
  • 30 - Bed - was the pillowcase once white?
  • 45 - Cleaning out
It doesn't feel right exposing another person's failings like this, but I guess he won't care any more.

Disney "Innovations" Tour

This was one of several tours offered by Disney to members. We were taken by bus (on Sunday morning) and shown the various background innovations that the Disney people had to come up with to run such a huge operation.

We saw the laundry facilities for all the tons of costumes, uniforms, and hotel linens (the towel folding machines fascinated me - puffs of air fold the towels precisely), and the septic system, where they separate the solids from the liquid from all the hotels and grounds, and then turn the solids into fertilizer used on the grounds, and the treated water to water the plantings.

We got to see the famous "tunnel" that circles under the various kingdoms, so that cast characters can move around without anachronism. We were amused that our guide was (several times) adamant that it was NOT a tunnel. It's a corridor. It was build on top of the ground, and then filled over with soil, and then the attractions were built on top of that, so this is the FIRST FLOOR!, and Main Street and the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, et al., are the SECOND FLOOR! We all suspected this distinction might have something to do with laws and rules pertaining to "tunnels". (Snicker.)

We went through the tunnel, oops, corridor, and came up on Main Street, where the guide explained about the tricks of perspective that make the street look longer as you enter the Magic Kingdom, and shorter as you're leaving, and that make the castle look larger than it is. He also explained why the stores selling cameras and hats are on the right as you enter, and souvenirs are on the right as you leave, and so on. The names on the windows of the "offices" above the shops are honoring people that were instrumental in the development of Disney World. We found Walt's window.

I found the trash cans interesting. They are all exactly 33 feet apart. They started out scattered randomly, and the Disney folks noticed that in some areas, there was more trash on the ground than in others. So they put a lot of containers very close together. They discovered that when they're close, people will use them. Then they started moving them farther and farther apart, until litter appeared again. They discovered that the magic distance is 33 feet. A major slob with trash in his hand will walk 16.5 feet to a trash can, but no farther.

And that's how I spent my vacation.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

842 MWG - The Programs (Part 2b)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More synopses of the programs I attended at the Mensa World Gathering.

Belly Dance Basics

An Orlando pro (and Mensan, who later performed at the formal dinner. I didn't go to the dinner, but I did go to watch the performance.) In this 1-hour "lesson" she had us doing snake arms, florios, shoulder shakes, shoulder shimmies, rib lifts and vertical and horizontal rib circles, hip lifts and drops, large and tiny hip circles, horizontal and vertical 8s in both directions, flat foot shimmies, shimmies on toes, layering, belly rolls, the whole shebang. It was easy to get the impression that she wasn't so much teaching anything as demonstrating "see what I can do and you can't?" If there was any stretching or warmup, it was so brief I don't remember it. But at the end, I was amazed at how loose and how good I felt. I've missed it. I'm going to have to start doing the movements again. I don't have to actually dance, I've never been really comfortable "dancing" outside my own kitchen, but the movements as exercise are wonderful!

The Answer Is Communication

This talk was given by a gorgeous very muscular(yuck) guy with a beard, and a bleached mullet(double yuck!), wearing a black leather vest and dripping with chains and metal(yuck yuck). Absolutely not my type, but within minutes that virtuality in the back of my head had settled on the same scenario playing on all three screens. Something about dragging him behind a bush or something. He was so sensitive!

Huh? Oh, yeah. Back to the session.

He was saying that communication (within a relationship) serves two purposes, transmitting information, and achieving understanding. A common pool of understanding creates safety. You can't be any better in handling relationships than the quality of that pool of information.

Crucial conversations are those where the stakes are high, the emotions are high, and the issue is important. They are usually about disagreements or disappointments. We are chemically set up to fail at crucial conversations - anger takes blood away from the brain. We can walk away or we can face the situation, but facing it often means handling it badly, so the response to a crucial conversation is too often silence or violence.

Most of his talk was based on two books, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations (see here) which he recommends highly. He says that the books say the same things over and over, to the point where it becomes annoying, but then it starts to sink in, and you realize that the repetition is necessary to get past your initial resistance. You can learn how to handle crucial conversations on your side, I guess, but if you are in a relationship with someone who has the "silence or violence" response, all you can do is try to create a place where the other feels safe. If he or she still won't talk, then there's nothing you can do.

Coincidentally, Chris of Inane Thoughts and Insane Ramblings mentioned these same books in a recent posting. Chris lists the the three important questions to ask yourself (they're under his "Unconditional Love" subheading).

[Something I noticed after I returned home: I seem to have subconsciously chosen several sessions that had a bearing on my relationship with Roman. He and I broke it off as anything beyond a friendship the Friday morning before I left for Orlando. I removed my pillow, robe, toothbrush, and overnight case from his home that morning. That made it sort of official and in my mind pretty final, more final than the previous two breakups.

Many of the talks I attended clarified for me what was wrong with "us".

Roman's response to crucial conversations is definitely silence or anger. He feels "more comfortable" with the other woman precisely because !they don't have! crucial conversations. Her reaction when she found out about me is a perfect example. She asked no "who", "why", or "when" questions. She just froze him out. Silence. They never talked about it, at least not to the point of understanding anything.

I, on the other hand, need to have those high-stakes emotional talks. I need to understand. I need to know what he needs, what he wants. When he shuts me out, I keep asking, gently, not in a threatening manner, but he sees it as "pushing".

I need a companion who is not afraid of introspection, who will address problems when they occur, who can feel safe in my haven. I don't see how two people can work together toward common goals without that kind of open safe "communicational" sharing.

Unfortunately, that's not Roman. At least not now, and maybe not ever. After the Gathering, I see it clearly now. But I still love him, of course, he is still the same person, and I want him to be happy. I am sad because I don't see how he can be happy with someone with whom he can't or won't talk reasonably with about the important issues. He may think he's happiest with that. Because she doesn't want it either, he probably sees her and their relationship as calm and steady. But that's exactly what killed his prior marriage, he wouldn't broach important topics with her either, and he still doesn't really see it. He's missing so much of the fullness and comfort of intimacy. He's afraid of intimacy. He probably doesn't even know that he's never had it. I could cry for him.]


Fishbowls have been a Mensa Gathering staple for at least 30 years that I know of. I've never heard of them in any other context. They are always held very late, starting about 10:30 pm. At some point the doors are closed and latecomers are turned away. The room is divided, with the women on one side (or in an inner circle) and the men on the other side (or in an outer circle). The men are, as a group, to come up with a set of questions they would like the women to address, on assigned topics like sex, intimacy, relationships, and so on. The women do the same. The questions are given to the moderator.

The moderator will select one of the men's questions to ask the women. The women have a certain set amount of time to discuss it. Now, here's the important part - the women are NOT to answer or speak to the men, or even, really, look at them. The women are to address each other, and discuss the answer to the question among themselves, in their circle. Girl talk. Slumber-party-style. They are to give their own personal views and opinions, from their own personal experience, and not to try to reach a general consensus, or attempt to convince each other. Just talk about it. The men may listen, but they are not allowed to speak at all, not even to clarify the question or ask further questions. They must remain absolutely silent or they will be thrown out. That's why it's called a fishbowl.

Then it's the men's turn to discuss a question from the women. Same rules.

Primary among the rules is that nothing that is said or done is to leave the room, so I can't tell specifics of any of the experiences or opinions here (to protect the guilty, I guess), but I see no harm in mentioning the questions.

What I found most amusing was the absolute cluelessness apparent in the men's questions. They were so naive it was cute. I know we have a lot of nerds (gotta love 'em!) and geeks, but what other set of 50 men from any other group, given an opportunity like this, would come up with a question like "How can I tell if you're interested, how do I know that I can approach you without rejection?" or "How do I know when we're 'in a relationship'?"

That second question had the women shaking their heads. The first third of their ("their" rather than "our" because since this was my first fishbowl in twenty years, I mostly just listened) time was spent trying to figure out what the men meant by "in a relationship", and wondering how anyone would not simply KNOW. Then they just defined what "relationship", in all its individual manifestations, meant to them and what they expected of their partner in a relationship. One of the women said that maybe by "in a relationship", the men were actually asking "when is it ok to ask for sex?", so the discussion went that direction for a bit.

Nerds. Ya gotta love them. They're just plain sweet.

Caution: Do not try this at home. Fishbowls are not a good idea in a group of people who regularly hang around together. Even though nothing is supposed to leave the room, things do get remembered, and can lead to awkward misunderstandings. Not to mention gossip.

Drug War: How We Got Into this Mess, and the Special Interests that Keep Us Here

This was an excellent and eyeopening presentation of the history of drug regulation, "illegal" drugs, and who profits from keeping them illegal. The full and amazing PowerPoint presentation can be found at Scroll down to Suzanne Wills and click on the presentation name.

Logic Problem Tournament

I registered for this. We were given 90 minutes to solve six logic problems, 2 easy, 2 medium, and 2 difficult. You got a certain number of points for each correct solution (more for the harder ones), plus one point for each minute remaining in the tournament. (So if you solved a problem in the first five minutes you got an additional 90-5=85 points.) The moderator said that the average person would solve two in the 90 minutes, and the winner would probably solve three. I got excited because two of the problems were grid-type problems, and I'm really good at them, and one was topographical, and I'm often intuitive on them. So that's what I dove into.

I was doing well, except ---

We were sitting at tiny rickety card tables. On either side of me was a man and a woman. The woman entered the room with a huge bowl of snacks from the hospitality room. While we were working on the problems, the man ate the entire bowlful, starting with the pretzels. Loudly. Sloppily. Crumbily. That wouldn't have been too bad, but - have you ever seen the video on America's Funniest Home Videos of the little girl taking a test, the one where she jumps and violently moves the papers around after making every checkmark? Well, the woman on my left was like that. She didn't use the grids provided on the problem sheets. She used the scrap paper provided, and swoosh swoosh swoosh drew her own pencil grids. She'd make a few fast Xs, and then she'd ERASE THE WHOLE DAMN GRID and start over! The table shook with every swoosh and erasure. I don't know why she didn't just use fresh scrap paper. Every time she shook the table, I lost my place on my grids, a critical problem when you get to the "what if this is true" stage. She pissed me off so thoroughly I got up and walked out. (I later solved five of the six problems sitting on the patio by the lake. In less than an hour. I'm pissed. Royally. I coulda been a contender.)

(If you'd like to see what I mean by "logic grid problems", try some of these. Even the ones rated most difficult are pretty easy, because the ones at this site rarely require the "what if" approach.)

It's late. More tomorrow.

841 MWG - The Programs (Part 2a)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Some of the sessions I attended at the Mensa World Gathering in Orlando, 08/08 to 08/13 (keep in mind that this is my diary, for my future reference). This is some of what I chose out of the eight or ten topics offered at any one time. I didn't always make the best choice.

What I say here is my interpretation, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what the speaker actually said or meant! If something sounds screwy, blame me, not the speaker. (After all, they spoke in front of a hundred or more Mensans, and didn't get booed out.)

Well, on further consideration, I have removed the speakers' names. Wouldn't want someone "Googling" them and finding this mishmash of their talks.

New Zealand - So Few Women, So Many Sheep

"Dr. Xxxxxx will speak on New Zealand History, culture, and legal hookers from his perspective as a locum tenens physician in multiple NZ areas during the past two years. Occasionally resorting to Socratic lecturing when his own memory fails, he may bring treats to toss to the crowd if they answer questions ... Similarly he requests attendees bring treats to reward him if he makes any good points - kind of like training your dolphin."

This was the first session I attended, and I hadn't got into taking notes yet, my memory is foggy, and so I'm not going to make any specific statements. The photographs were beautiful, and the history and culture was very interesting. When Europeans first arrived, they found a very powerful warrior people in residence. Whether because of that or an unusual altruism (yeah, sure), the treaties were much in the favor of the native population, and they are still treated, as a group, as an equal nation within a nation, with approval and veto powers on land transfers, laws, etc. (Contrast that with how the American native people were treated.) The population is low and male-heavy, the land is mountainous and covered with sheep.

Forensic Interrogation Using Polygraph

"...the art and science of forensic psychophysiology ... dispel some myths about lie detection..." Very interesting. He showed that what questions are asked, and how they are asked, can make a huge difference in the validity of the results. Something I didn't know - the examiner goes over with the subject every question that will be asked, and the answers, before the test begins, questions must be specific and tied to one instance, and if there are any problems with interpretation, they are cleared up then. There are never (in a good test) any surprise questions. I found it a little scary that there are examiners out there who don't know what they're doing, and can easily end up with invalid results. If I ever find myself hooked up to a polygraph, at least I know enough now to know when I should ask for a more experienced examiner.

The Evidence of Global Warming

I went to this one because on the way to the airport I'd had a friendly argument with my friend, and wanted ammunition for my return. Ironically, I lasted about 10 minutes in the room and left, because it was simply too cold in there, the A/C was hitting me right across my arms, and I couldn't stand it. It was right after this session that I bought the sarong to use as a shawl.

I'd have moved to another seat, but every single session I attended for the whole six days in the smaller rooms (occupant limit: 97) was SRO, with 20 or 30 people sitting on the floor at the speaker's feet and in the aisles, and standing in the back and along the sides, and there was simply nowhere for me to move to.

Pathological Narcissism and You: What You Should Know About Me

Definition, roots, and characteristics of pathological narcissism. I went to this one because I think I know a few narcissists, and wanted to perhaps understand them and how to deal with them. He said that the narcissist (realize that many of us have characteristics of narcissism, it becomes pathological when our disfunctional thoughts interfere with our lives) is missing internalization of the praise part of the super ego, and therefore requires external narcissistic supplies. Inside the narcissist feels hollow, worthless, and not deserving, and tends to be interpersonally exploitative. The super ego forms at about 4 years of age, and the young child who is disregarded, put down, picked upon, whose parents did not give a lot of praise, may tend toward narcissism.

In this connection he recommended a book of Jewish haiku that I haven't had a chance to look up yet, but I found the reference amusing.

We might first recognize the narcissist as the person who seems to feel that rules that apply to others do not apply to them, or as the credit/attention hog. Diagnostic characteristics (not all need be present): grandiose sense of self; fantasies of wealth, power, fame, ideal love; believes himself to be special; requires excessive admiration; sense of entitlement; interpersonally exploitative; lacks empathy; envious of others; exhibits arrogant and haughty behavior. (And yet, inside, they actually feel hollow, worthless, and not deserving - the result being an avoidance of introspection.)

He offered a case history that had me giggling. A man had a girlfriend, acquired a second girlfriend, and had affairs on the side. He saw nothing wrong with this. (Exploitative behavior.) He came in because he was depressed because girlfriend #1 had found out about the others and had broken up with him. Apparently he, deep down, thought she was unfair and had wronged him. The whole room laughed.

Trickery of the Human Mind: The Psychology of Prejudice

I had been looking forward to this talk because I know the speaker. I have to admit I was very disappointed (and not just me, others who know her and had attended the session expressed similar sentiments.) The first thing she said was that she had nothing prepared, and so would simply take questions from the audience. The audience had no guidance as to what to ask. She'd take a question, answer it (sort of) and then wander off on whatever side paths the question brought to mind. If she had any points to make, we all missed them.

Chocolate Orgy

Brownies, chocolate cake, chocolate fountain for dipping strawberries and marshmallows and bits of sponge cake, all things chocolate, provided in one of the hotel suites. Help yourself. It was supposed to go from 7 to 9 pm, but the line to get into the suite extended about 400 feet. I got in the door at exactly 8 pm, and the brownies (and I don't know what else) were already gone, and I got the next-to-last (1.5"x2") piece of cake (actually, the servings were 2"x3", but I split the last piece with the guy behind me).

What ticked me off were people who were leaving, passing those of us still in line, with plates heaped with 4 or 5 brownies and 4 or 5 pieces of cake, mounds of gooey chocolate threatening to collapse. Later, I saw many half-full plates in the hospitality room, just abandoned. Greedy people, eyes bigger than their ... the next word is supposed to be "stomach", but most of those people had stomachs (and behinds) bigger than all of me! Perhaps they are narcissists?

Shortcuts to Genius, 2: Via Einsteinian Discovery Technique

This was kind of a "Duh" to me. He wanted us to close our eyes, clear our minds, and let the back of the mind produce a vision unrelated to the current situation, then describe and interpret the vision (the object being to eventually learn how to turn the back-of-the-mind visions toward problem solving). He asked people to raise their hands if they had no coherent vision. Most of the room raised their hands. I didn't understand, because I always have at least two or three very clear visions or scenarios going on in the back of my mind, no matter what else I am doing. Sitting there in the room right then, even as he was talking, the back of my mind was 1) walking along a waterfall, and concurrently I was 2) seeing a loop of Roman walking toward me and smiling, and also I was 3) playing with a dog.

This is normal for me (and may have something to do with my poor memory, and my tendency to often miss details of my environment). I asked others after the session if they didn't do that, and they all said no, that their minds were focused on whatever was going on around them, nothing else was going on in there. (I find this hard to believe.) That's one of the things that cigarettes do for me - they help me to focus on one thing. It's not the nicotine I'm dependent on so much as the ceremony.

I was very confused by this session, and it left me worried that there's something very wrong with me. For about 15 minutes. Then I decided that it's normal for me, I don't know how to not have one reality and several virtualities in my head, and the rest of the world will just have to deal with it. Hmmm. Am I the narcissist?

Confessions of a Word-Lover

This was one of the more anticipated talks, and so was held in a large ballroom. The speaker was very good, and funny, but he writes the word column in the Mensa Journal, so I'd heard/read most of it before. Mainly it was just wordplay with humorous results. I think maybe I should have gone to the "Near Death Experiences: The Case of a New Paradigm of Consciousness" session being held at the same time down the hall.

There's more - I'll get to the rest later....