Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rebecca Watson on evolutionary psychology and... rape culture?

August 9th was the day that I finally regained (whatever that means) the sensation in various of my bodily parts (...whatever that means) after blocking it out (whatever... never mind).

What do I mean, here?

I mean that Rob Schryvers, master hypnotist (whatever *that* means) is really cool. Go bug him and be swept away in his hypnotic patter of doom. And by doom, I mean, see how cool this parrot is?

july 805

He's cooler than that. Really.

The next day, whilst carpooling to a Skeptic's meetup at Piecora's Pizza, Rob pointed out a freakishly-muscled man walking down Pine Street -- it was apparently UK champion bodybuilder Dorian Yates! He's an unusual sight here, although not exactly out of place on a sidewalk where half the people we saw looked very L, G, B or T.
` At this event would be the only Skeptic's Guide to the Universe Rogue that I hadn't met -- the very snarky Rebecca Watson. (Let's not forget Perry, the one I can't meet, who used to have the best bird vs. monkey debates with her!)

july 809
She's normally more brightly-colored and in-focus, but perhaps that was just the medication?

We were motioned to Piecora's front entrance by diners seated behind a set of sealed doors, and found the Skeptic's meetup in the back, by another sealed door. (Little did I know, we would be trapped, foreverrrr... or not.)
` Rebecca was standing by a table of Skepchick swag, greeting folks as they came in, so I introduced myself and told her that "Evan says 'Hi.'"

He did actually tell me to say that. And she actually seemed to think that was funny.

I didn't loiter too long, in fear of saying something stupid, so I went on into the sizeable, table-filled room that appeared to once have been an entire shop. Yes, we were meeting there specifically because she drew in such a large audience!
` In between stuffing my face with delishus salad and pizza, I got to brag about how last month's Skeptic Meetup cool hypnotist headliner helped me to control the level of sensation in my fingertips that I had been not-feeling for nine years. Can't let that stuff stay that way, you know?

This meeting was particularly interesting and quotable, but unfortunately, I had left my blogging notebook in a different bag o'stuff, and didn't find any other paper. Instead, I shall use both my memory and Case's description of what was on for that night from the Meetup website:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Tale of the Mysterious Rodent -- Solved!

Around eleven in the evening on June 29th, Lou Ryan and I were headed out the doors of a grocery store when I noticed a small gathering of young-looking folks nearby, watching a small animal prance back and forth.
` It appeared to be a tailless rat, but something (besides this one girl) told me that it was something else. Perhaps a marmot? My first clue that it was neither would have to be the tail -- clearly hairless, short and pointed, like a hamster's. When it stood up on its hind legs and sniffed at me from only a few feet away, I noticed how bizarrely tiny its eyes were.

Here's my own rendering of what I had seen, only fluffier
(also, it's in a world where leaves hover in the air and lighting schemes don't make sense).

For wild rodent behavior, this was strangely... friendly... if I may use an oxymoron that should never catch on. Suspecting that rabies were afoot, my heart began to thud for a moment -- but I couldn't pull myself away -- never before had I seen such disproportionately small eyes on a rodent.
` Shrews, yes, but rodents are quite distinct from shrews (for one thing, rodents have massive incisors for gnawing on plants, whereas a shrew has a great many pointed teeth for catching insects).

Meanwhile, Lou Ryan teased me from the parking lot whilst I explained to the others that this was probably a little-known native rodent (perhaps related to pocket gophers), and that it was now mandatory that I figure out what it was -- and blog about it!

After getting caught up in TAM, I realize it's been a couple of months, so let's get on that after the page break...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Amazing developments since The Amazing Meeting

Do I ever have an article to write. For the first time in nine years, I've regained control over the amount of sensation that I feel in various parts of my body, which I'd been blocking out due to trauma all this time.

I have also stopped grinding my teeth while asleep and no longer need to wear one of those stupid (and expensive) mouth guards. How?

On the very first day after returning from TAM, I went to the Skeptic's Meetup where the speaker was Robert Schryvers, a very skilled hypnotist, who talked about what he does as a hypnotherapist, and then made up a stage routine on the spot for our amusement.
` We became fast friends and he's been teaching me how to do what he does, and has helped me shift my beliefs and emotions concerning mental blocks such as serious traumas so that I don't experience the symptoms.
` Because these things really are all in my head, I can control it far more than I had thought, and he's showing me how. Now I'm able to use what I know to help others in their daily struggles, just by talking to them and asking certain questions.
` Amazingly, I got my grandma to open up to me and then help her, which I never expected to be able to do. What else can I do through the power of influence?

Check out his website, West Seattle Hypnosis, and look at the specific words and language patterns used therein -- you'll find they are quite... hypnotic. OHNOEZ!!

As for me, other than spending a lot of time working on such things and learning the psychological tricks of the trade, I've also been out of the house a great deal and cleaning it when I'm in, working on a podcast and other projects (no spoilers!), and lying flat on my back/swimming in Puget Sound whenever the heat kills my brain so much that I can't talk intelligently.

Three days ago, the weather became much cooler, but I've still been hanging out with neighbors, cleaning, and organizing my office pretty much the entire time, rather than blogging. I should have more time now, although I'll be helping to build a chicken coop onto the side of my house starting at 9 tomorrow morning, and then afterwards not even being home, so don't expect a huge post tomorrow.
` Soon, yes, but not exactly tomorrow.

Anyway, do check out Rob's site. That's all for now.

Later: I've had to make several small edits -- because I needed to spend more of my time blogging! Right? Or I would have got it right the first time!
` And I would have made most of them earlier if someone hadn't barged into my office, crying over some completely insane shit happening to him, and then some sort of weird pseudo-landlady/insurance agent shitstorm knocked on our door, and then I had to scan some documents to help bail us out, then spent five minutes thinking that I was being yelled at for doing it wrong when I was only being thanked, meanwhile my Windows update stealthily turned off my computer for ten minutes... SRSLY?

WTF is wrong with people? Windows is easy to explain, but people will always be incomprehensible to me. Here I'd thought I had escaped the craziness -- but one never really does, do they?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

These are a few of my favorite critters

Besides studying hypnosis and such, what else has the Mad Science Writer been up to, besides not writing science enough lately to deserve the title?
` Well, for all the words that photos are worth, each one takes very little time to process, so I bring you once again some photos and videos of some interesting things, as well as Vada, my plant-predating feline:

july 673

Here's something I don't watch every day -- the road crew re-surfacing our street! Tar and gravel does not equal asphalt, but it is cheaper!

That was very early this August, but this post stretches on for longer than a whole week, and does deal with more than just my cats:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Rest of July, After TAM...

After waking up from my 16-hour post-TAM sleepfest, life began to resemble normalcy -- if you consider kittens who can't get enough of playing with socks in laundry baskets to be normal.

 july 600 - Home from Vegas, playing with Dilly

However, most other things that signify 'normal' for my life began to change later on, when I went to the Skeptic's Meetup.
` "Who wants to sit next to me?" I announced.
` A man sitting in the corner pointed to the bench next to him. He was Robert Schryvers, hypnotist extraordinaire, and he was about to do a presentation. But not before I got to stand up and talk about how much fun I had at The Amazing Meeting and then told everyone to read my blog because I was going to write all these posts about it.

The Skeptics should already be aware of the fact that hypnosis can be used to fabricate false memories, for example, of being sexually abused by one's family members, which sometimes results in those families being destroyed, friends and neighbors turning their backs, and innocent people going to prison.
` Other common false memories that are induced by hypnotic suggestion include abuse in satanic rituals, alien abduction, and experiences of a past life (which are often then found to come from the person's knowledge -- accurate or not -- in this life).

Of course, hypnosis, when used properly, can be a very powerful therapeutic modality:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Camping On Whidbey Island - a little trip from before TAM

I wrote most of this post before going off to TAM, but couldn't post it because some of the videos refused to upload until after I got back from TAM. Hence, I'm posting this now.
I believe it was July 7 when Lou Ryan and I had a camping reason to head down to the dock and actually get into one of those boats that we see all the time.
` It has been a while since I've heard the loudspeaker announcement from inside the ferry, as well as the nice view of the Cascades, with the seagulls trying to keep up and checking us out:

Then I went out onto the deck to precariously look up at the seagulls from below, and found that video of seagulls is much easier to get than still photos:

While out there, I couldn't help but notice the Cathlamet ferry passing by the other way:

july 119

I even managed to get a fairly decent photo of a seagull from below:

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Amazing Meeting 2012, The Journey Home

This one's been long in coming, only because I've been so involved in other activities, and have some really frickin' exciting news. Which I'm saving 'til next time.
` First, this post, because I was supposed to finish this last week and found things other than sitting in front of my computer more important. Since it's been so long, my memory isn't the greatest, and so the epic photos from the plane will have to tell most of the story:

Monday, July 16, 2012:

It was only the previous day that I had learned of the hotel's free shuttle to the airport, so I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to Leonard, checked out of the hotel, and found myself waiting side-by-side with Rich, one of the TAM-goers I'd had huge amounts of conversation.
` We were talking about this and that, and wondering if we'd missed the last shuttle, when Hyunwoo, which I recall from the Cards Against Humanity game, pulled up in a rental mustang and offered us a ride. Lucky us!I crammed myself into the tiny backseat quite nicely.

TAM 290 - In the back of Hyunwoo's rental Mustang

The car's GPS got us to the airport without a glitch, where Rich and I got our boarding passes, took our shoes off and all for BagScanning time, carried on a TAM-related conversation with one of the airport employees by the screens that have all the flights listed, and went up to the general vicinity where our planes would be leaving -- yes, there are slot machines there as well, as you can see:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Amazing Meeting 2012, Day Five

Sunday, July 15, 2012:

Being that the sun was about to come up as I had drifted off to sleep, I didn't bother going to see the Sunday Papers, curated by Ray Hall, which featured work by Martha Keller, Ivan Alvarado, Dave Gamble, Eran Segev, Jeffrey Rosky and Christine Shellska.
` Sorry guys, but neuro-rest (a much-hyped form of rest called 'sleep') is more important, although I've found a sort of outline of the Papers on The Skeptical Abyss, which includes some of the other things that I both missed and didn't miss, for your convenience!

At 10:00 I remember coming in for The Truth About Alternative Medicine, with Steve, as well as Harriet Hall, David Gorski and Rachael Dunlop, but didn't stay long.

TAM 236 - Another panel

Instead, I found that being out in the hallway discussing where 'musk' candy flavoring comes from was far more interesting. (I'm not wrong -- it was more exciting than the panel!)
` On top of that, it would appear that Leo's sexy Swedish-British accent will grace the Skeptic Zone at some point...

[Edit: You can hear it yourself in Episode 207 at the 13:34 mark!]

Although I'd already been interviewed by Maynard for some time, we did another, very short, interview about how TAM has been going so far -- with him reading between the lines the whole way.
` Soon enough, I was back in the Ballroom at 11:15 for Carrie Poppy of Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, the podcast where Ross and Carrie go into the realm of woo and actually pretend to be the very sort of people that they study -- such as Raelians!

` This time, her lecture was:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Amazing Meeting 2012, Day Four (part 2)

I was still in the TAM hall, sitting by James Randi (resting, not bugging him), when I saw SinGar the goat demon once again. Someone came by and offered to take a picture, and they did, but for whatever reason they mostly got the blank wall, so you cannot see SinGar's goat legs (which are put on the right way around this time!).

TAM 204

Of course, even SinGar has to ask for James Randi's autograph!

TAM 205

And that is only our starting point this time, boys and girls...