Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Aliens of My Mind

My next post was going to involve bigfoot, but instead you get aliens this time. Sorry folks. You see,
after some internet-usage yesterday, I was told that the internet had gone out due to lack of payment -- thus disconnecting me from my blog posts-in-progress -- so I decided to work on other projects, which incidentally did not involve the use of my computer.
` This morning I finally opened my laptop, fully expecting the internet to be disconnected, when I noticed the 'internet connected' icon. It was then that I realized that I had not even bothered to check whether or not the internet was out in the first place.

Way to go, Spoony, great critical thinking skills! You probably could have been checking your email again last night, as well!
` In any case, I found a most bizarre English assignment on my hard drive and thought that some would appreciate the subject matter:
I'd woken up in the night, or thought I had, in the bed I'd had after I had finally been permitted to move out of my parents' room. It had a gigantic, cramped frame of dark, varnished wood that was built into the wall, its first bunk hanging higher than my waist so that I would have to jump in order to crawl into it. The second bunk was low overhead, and was closed off from the rest of the room by a trapezoidal structure that stretched halfway across the ceiling. The bedroom may have been only the size of our bathroom, making my child-sized furniture appear full-size, but it was this bed that really gave the impression that the walls were closing in on me.
Lying in my bed was something like being inside a coffin, as it had such low clearance that my only place to sit was the carpet, which was pungeant from my feet staying in the same place for hours each day. In the dark, I tried to make out the familiar patterns in the unvarnished wood about two feet from my nose, but for some reason it didn't look right to me. On top of that, I couldn't seem to move.

What was going on, here? I thought. Before I could think further, I found myself slowly sliding off the bed, toward the center of the room, where I seemed to be lying in mid-air. The pink-orange sodium glow of the streetlight revealed my tiny dresser and chest of drawers, and the open door of my cramped closet -- full of hanging shirts sprawled out on the shelves below them -- which all seemed to bend toward me menacingly as a colorful wave of anxiety overtook me.

This must be what sleep paralysis was, I figured, just as it was described by psychologists on those television shows where people would claim they were abducted by aliens. I had once found those reports convincing, but now I realized that sleep paralysis must be a very good explanation. After all, closets don't actually bend toward one in real life, nor do their colors shift from sodium lamp orange to mauve when they do so.

With a sudden lurch, I drifted out of the window and mysteriously found myself looking up at a bright ceiling, which I figured was also a hallucination. In the brightness, I vaguely could make out gray figures standing around me having pale, bulbous heads and enormous, all-black, almond-shaped eyes -- just like the 'gray' aliens I'd seen on those shows!

Realizing that this must all be happening in my head, I somehow was able to convey the message, "You guys really could use some color!" and suddenly, their light gray skin turned a vivid purple. This seemed so ridiculous to me at the time that I immediately started laughing aloud, before noticing that, far from being in a spaceship, I was safe and sound in my own claustrophobia-inducing bed.
And that, dear readers, is something that my 2011 English 102 classmates were subjected to. They still probably haven't gotten over it.
` This 'alien' incident, by the way, was the first completely-convincing evidence to me that such alien encounters could be hallucinated. Later on, I learned that people in other times and places describe similar encounters with ghosts, old hags, demons, sprites and witches.
` As for me, the 'aliens' didn't come back, but I had plenty of sleep paralysis episodes that involved human beings, even people that I lived with, even though it wasn't really them. (Thankfully, none of these hallucinations anally probed me.)

Well, back to blogging and checking my email where I left off yesterday!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I remember that guy!

There's a lot coming in my next blog post, and I won't be home much to finish it in a timely manner -- so I decided to throw out one of the next early blog posts. It's short and mentions George Ruefner, who was this awesome writer I saw at the Medina County Writer's Group or whatever the hell it was called.
` Neither his phone number, nor his CompuServe all-numbers email address will work anymore, so I hope he's all right. I remember he said that he had a hole in his mind, so I hope it hasn't exploded or some such.
` Here's a link to the post, newly-imported into this blog's archives:

My friend George

What's funny is, my response to the dark energy article says "dark matter" instead, but I didn't bother to fix it. And I'm still not!
` Today, we're still asking the question -- is there really such thing as dark energy? There is an ongoing debate to this day. Maybe it's there, after all, but more work needs to be done before anyone can be sure. I hope to see this resolved one day!

In the meantime, I've got a lot on my plate, with gardening, to boot! I'm also hugely excited to have just registered for The Amaz!ng Meeting today, in big part because of Gerg Dorais, that really awesome skeptic guy. Yeah, I remember that guy, too! Thanks, Gerg! I mean... Greg!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Small fuzzy mammals and more of my first blog

Yet another highly-assorted post for my readers -- first, some material that I left on the cutting room floor, virtually speaking. You may remember that post I did upon discovering a Mysterious Rodent by the grocery store, and had no clue what it was until later!
` This event was surprising to me since I normally could tell what type of fuzzy mammal I was looking at. In this bit of edited-outness, I describe the surreality of learning that this ability is not very common:
Years ago, I saw a rat foraging through a dumpster in broad daylight, and mentioned this to someone. When he asked me whether I thought it could have been an opossum, my mind just about crashed trying to figure out how someone could ask such a nonsensical question. After much perplexed stuttering, a stab of insult helped to force out an intelligible answer, along the lines of; "What kind of ignoramus do you take me for?"
` Since then, I've found the reason for this question is probably because so many people around here don't know the difference between a rodent and a marsupial. Even more shockingly -- to Australians in particular -- several have even said they'd never heard of a marsupial! Others have thought that the word "rodent" means "pest", and so have referred to cockroaches as "rodents".
Which brings the question -- why would anyone be so passionate about identifying some small mammal, anyway? It's because the more you understand what you are looking at in the world around you, the more you can appreciate what you see (or hear, or smell...).
` When you know about our atmosphere's various layers, for instance, you can literally see more when you look at the clouds, because now you have a specific way to interpret what they're doing. One could say, understanding adds layers of interestingness.
It's easy to see why this section was distracting to my article, although I've included it here because it's a good illustration of my values when it comes to writing. Granted, now I am so inundated with science news, particularly in my email, that I don't seem to have the time to read most of it.

Back in 2005, however, I had such a low amount of email that keeping up with the latest wasn't that difficult. This fact was evident in my second post on Land of the Big Wingy-Dingy, which is entitled:

Tyrannosaurus Cells and Elephant Mimicry

That is, supposedly preserved cell remains and mimicry by elephants. If you haven't heard of either of these things, then by all means, take a look! (Also, you may want to follow the latest research that's been done on these topics...)
` Originally, I was reluctant to mention religion on a science blog, but since ideological extremists are a good discussion topic, I did comment on the unreasonable behavior of a religious extremist in the third post:

Unwholesome extremists -- gotta love 'em!

By the way, 'Jonathan' is now a psychologist and lives far enough away from his mother that it would be hard for her to persecute him for being gay as well.
` I was also reluctant to write about such insane people as my PsychoDad, but then figured that it might be somewhat relevant in that it shows ways in which one can be tricked/brainwashed, which is relevant in the fields of reason.
` So, already by post four, I have a rant/description about my dad's psychotic behavior, which is alright (if you can stand the craziness of it all) except that it has no explicit connection with critical thinking:

The importance of recognizing abuse... An unbelievable tale of insane people in my life

And what is the importance of recognizing abuse, you ask? It is knowing enough to realize that you have been duped by a complete nutcase, and that your model of the world doesn't really fit what's there. Thus, I had thought it might go well with the skeptical blogging theme.

Next up, having left off from the sciencey second post, I finally had written about the plants that do weird genetic things -- apparently, the discovery of a bizarre epigenetic effect.

Plants that correct their genetic mistakes!

Research has soared since 2005, of course. Right. I should get to poring over that. In the meantime, if that isn't enough for this post, I have also saved some snippets of the aforementioned rodent article which involve links to YouTube videos:
The largest rodents in the world, the water-roaming capybaras, are related to guinea pigs although they can weigh upwards of a hundred pounds (45 kg, 7 st). Thus, it does not surprise me that some people are kooky enough to have them as pets, although as tropical species, they don't much like the snow.
Also, a mention of shrews (for not being rodents), led me to this:
I found this video of venomous short-tailed shrews, slugging it out, even killing and eating a snake. It's really cool. Apparently around 8,000 years ago, there was once a species that injected venom, much as solenodons do.
There's even one more part of this damn article, but I'll save that for next time.

Next time, Gadget! Next tiiime!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Warping Blog-Time...

Seven years ago, I wrote my very first blog post, with the hope of spreading awareness of science and critical thinking, as well as perhaps even sharing the insanity of my own human experience. I've learned a lot since then (and have probably forgotten even more), and am now in an overall better position to accomplish my goals.

Back in 2005, I devoted most of my waking hours to writing somewhat aimlessly, and then sculpting the raw material into good prose. It worked well enough to be able to churn out at least one lengthy post per day, as well as gain some appreciation from readers.
` My technique has improved quite a bit since then, although production has slowed markedly. At present, this has a lot to do with the fact that I spend more time accomplishing other tasks -- which is mostly a good thing, when you think about it.

Still, in order to demonstrate my worth -- and increase readership -- I need to create new content at least every other day. This can be easily achieved, considering how many articles I've written but never published before; as well as how many articles that I have published, yet would like to see updated.
` I have published older material on this blog before, although it includes only one archived blog post, because I didn't like the idea of taking old posts out of their timeline context. Now, however, I've decided to post articles from my other blogs here, but at their original date, and announce each move as I go.

Thusly, I shall transfer everything from my other blogs, day by day, in chronological order, to the archives of the Mad Science Writer blog. Sounds mad, I know, and that's perfect for this place! So, let's start with the first post, so full of humor, hope, and wonder.
` It even mentions an issue that I've only recently been able to deal with (thank goodness!). So, without further ado/figs/atmospheric inversions, here's my first blog post EVER:

Introduction (To my SEO-blog, 'Land of the Big Wingy-Dingy')

Uh... you have to click on the link...

And yes, I'll have articles other than ones I've published before. This is just for starters.