This blog is welcome to anyone and everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Unless you don't like writing short stories or smelling bear. Or if you voted for the other guy. Also, I don't really like it when you leave up the toilet seat, so could you stop doing that? Muchas, muchas gracias.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Today Was Like No Other Day

Morning Thoughts: The Results Of Your Feedback, Which Made Me Think A Little

As I explained to the beautiful lazygrl, my struggle to get revenge on Matty for changing my screensaver is just my way of teasing him, because Matty's like a brother to me. And what's the point of having a brother if I can't tease him? I love Matty from way back in the place where short stories are born, so I'm going to leave him with his Goldfrapp screensaver, which has been protokrypp'd right to the pixels. I know this is a crying shame, because I found this,

which might've made his glitter dreams more sparkling than ever, just as he has sparkled up my own existence, and, I believe, the existences of a few other people I know.

Stupid protokrypp'ing.

Thoughts In Early Afternoon: October

Instead, I now choose to focus my energy elsewhere, because, okay. A few weeks back a man came into the bookstore, bearing flowers. Since he does not drive but rides a bike, he'd transported them deep in the front of his vest. And then he drew them out. Two dahlias the color of flames, which he'd grown in his own garden. He looks like a dahlia himself -- tall and bright, with a crown of hair that goes in every direction.

So the next chance I got I went to Golden Gate Park to photograph the dahlia garden, which is situated right next to The Conservatory of Flowers. I would like to live in a place called The Conservatory of Flowers.

The dahlia garden is an odd sight, a circus of color massed impertinently in front of agave, cactus, and Monterey cypress.

From a distance these flowers look like a field of lollipops, their blossoms so profuse it's almost obscene. If I were a bee, I'd aim straight for the center of a dahlia.

I'd hide there in the midst of those petals until each fell off, slowly at first, and then all at once in the October wind, because dying flowers in October smell so sweet.

Noon-ish: Way Down Deep In The South, Where He Never Would Go When He Was Afraid

Today was a lovely day because I finally heard from someone I've been concerned about, and I learned today that my concerns were groundless; he is in Kentucky, breakfasting on plums warmed by the sun, left for him on the seat of his motorcycle by a fellow traveler, a kind stranger.

Thoughts After Sundown: An Argument For Peace

That's enough rejoicing for now. I leave you with this thing I learned about the male Betta fish.

I just read about Bettas on Wikipedia, because that's where my whims took me. You might know this: as soon as this fish spies another male Betta, its single purpose is to tear the other to shreds.

I guess Bettas were used in aggression studies back in the seventies, as a male Betta will try to murder even his own reflection; the researchers figured that a mirror doesn't have teeth, so when prompted to fight, a Betta attacking its refelected image won't be externally harmed. These studies were discontinued once the researchers learned about something internal; fighting causes stress, and stress decreases the fish's lifespan.

Anyway, I then read that presenting to a male Betta the image that makes it want to kill -- that is, tapping into the moment this fish seems to live for -- is the one stimulus that allows for these fish to succumb to conditioned behaviors.

But there's something in the findings I don't understand. The findings imply that Bettas derive pleasure from acting on their own aggressions.

The thing is, classical conditioning begins with an automatic response to a strong stimulus. We all know about Pavlov's starting point -- dog smells bone, dog salivates. Dogs derive pleasure from fulfilling their hungers. Here's another example of the kind of conditions necessary to allow for classical conditioning. I smell rancid cheese and I feel kind of queasy. Stimulus, response. I derive no pleasure from the smell of rancid cheese.

If someone wanted to condition me, they could play the gamelan every time I smelled rancid cheese. After a while I'd start feeling queasy every time I heard gamelan, because I'd been conditioned to do so. Just like dogs can be conditioned to salivate every time they hear the sound of a bell. They come to associate bells with bones. If a dog was pretty indifferent to bones or if rancid cheese smell didn't faze me, neither of us would salivate or feel queasy, respectively. In other words, creatures can be classically conditioned with much more ease when the creature has a strong response to something, whether that reponse is one of eagerness or loathing. So the only thing we can say for sure about the male Betta is that it has a strong response. Right?

As for these fish and their fighting, I wonder if the Betta that lives on after he's taken the other fish's life ever really recovers from his own injuries. And I wonder why they fight. I won't be satisfied with all that stuff about progeny. There's got to be more to life than that, I just know it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been taking Dahlias each Saturday to my grandparents. Loverly the overly love.

the Betta, he's oh so blue. and you, clever-er. I feel the inclusion. the oneness of it all.

7:19 AM

Blogger josh williams said...

I saw goldfrapp and went to wikipedia
We dont get Goldfrapp in these parts at least not with my cronies, I'd get the shit beat out of me if I even said the name I suspect.
Nice photos of Dahlias... I know they aint roses...probably.
I like the rock art, my sister gave one to my dad she found at goodwill, the rock was painted to look like a man with a mustach, it was my dad! Its around somewhere, still a rock with paint to be passed down from generation etc. back to goodwill.Who knows a few hundred years from now it coule wind up on the future incarnation of the Antiques Road Show and valued as really not that much money and the poor people who carried the thing around will have to act like they are excited.Hmmm maybe wine does make me chatty.

9:16 PM

Blogger matty said...

Oh, I'm at once touched and bummed. ...and, where would I be without you in my life, my friend? I don't want to even think about it.

Funny how a friend can save your life and she may not even realize it.

'nuff of that.

I love the post about the flowers, but am "a scared" of this betta fish. Did you hear about that newly discovered shark that walks on it's fins.

land shark.

candy gram.

If anyone tries to harm Commander Josh for saying the magic word "Goldfrapp" -- I shall have to go and defend him!!!!

big hug

9:40 PM

Blogger ing said...


Oh, Van Morrison, you kill me! I just put him on. "The Smile You Smile" is the one that really gets me. What was your grandmother's smile like? My grandmother's smile is a sad story. . .

And no, I'm not clever. Wikipedia has all these handy links to places that re-explain the terms I should remember from my undergrad. I love Wikipedia!


Josh, old friend! I'm going to tell Matty about your cronies! Because I have a feeling they'd secretly think Alison Goldfrapp is kinda hot, and then they'd buy Supernature in some other town, and then one day when they're home alone in their garage they'd hear "Ooh La La" and start dancing around.

The dahlias ain't roses, no. They're nothing else.

Those people who carried the rock? They should paint a price on the back of the rock -- like, $1,000,000,000,000.00 -- and sign it Claude Monet. That's how you beat the Antiques Roadshow people. Good luck with your dad!

9:47 PM

Blogger ing said...


You snuck in right after me.

Yes, I do realize, and 'nuff.

I would like to see a film of this walking shark. I would like the shark to wear a tuxedo in this film.

I, too, am a little concerned about Josh at this moment. And I, too, will defend him. I'll bring along my sword and my pumps.

What are you bringing?

10:06 PM

Blogger sage said...

your photos are wonderful and good insight on the agressiveness of fish, although I think they're really just PO because someone called them a Beta and they through they were some kind of experienment. Tomorrow into the hills and maybe I'll do a second take of a few pinion trees and see how the harvest is coming this year.

10:53 PM

Blogger matty said...

I, would also, like to see the land shark in tux. I would also like to say that this shark should be able to dance and possibly have the speaking voice of a young David Niven. I'd add that it would be nice to see this shark teach the Betta to love itself a bit more.

Well, if you're bringing the sword and pumps -- I'll bring my glitter stick and platforms to kick the shit out of Commander Josh's Anti-Goldfrapp'd enemies!

11:18 PM

Blogger ticharu said...

Males need to be conditioned NOT to kill.
The male of any species is expendable because one male can inpregnate many many females. From fish to monkey this is true. We kill each other for this reason alone. It is nessasary.
What pleasure is derived from this moment of insanity I can not say because I have been conditioned to reject those basser impulses. Which could well be a fatal mistake for me and my offspring given the current human plague conditions, but well within the norm.
As a child I derived pleasure from killing animals and fighting on the playground, but I remember the day I realised that the fish I had just pulled from the water WANTED to live. I put the fish back in the water and started myself down a different evolutionary path. But it would be naive and big headed to say that I had any real choice in this. Mother Nature exerts way more control over our decision making process than we give her credit for. My choosing not to kill may have less to do with WHO I am and more to do with WHEN I am.

5:39 AM

Blogger josh williams said...

Thanks , I hope the rock is regifted to me this year so I can take your advise , cash in and live the easy I mean help other people.

7:50 PM

Blogger ing said...


I don't know if the time is yet ripe, but from what I remember, the thing is to look for cones on the ground, bursting with nuts. If the chipmunks haven't already decimated them, you're in for a big treat.



David Niven -- perfect!

I would like to see you in these platforms. The closest I've glimpsed are the man-clogs. You have the legs for platforms, though. And I'm sure you could kick ass in them, Crispin Glover style.

Hey, let's go for a bike ride sometime!!! Does B have a bike? I want to check out Marin.



Human plague conditions -- dare I ask? Because I think the vast majority of men are not as you say, not prone to violence over some funny fact about progeny and the need to pass themselves along. Yes, I agree, all things want to live. Otherwise, we would be much more careless than we already are. For that reason (and this is very unscientific of me), I can't accept that anyone who was born in the first place, man or woman, is expendable. Because every single man born has the potential to be dear to some woman somewhere, and for this reason she will choose that man above all other men, which, considering the risks involved, is a really important decision. If this were not true, a few could provide for the many. But women choose for their own reasons, and those reasons come straight from the huge & mysterious force you probably call nature (which, I agree, is sort of feminine). Should that not be respected by men, and out of respect for this, shouldn't men lay down their arms?

That's just my perspective, but --



I knew you were born to help other people, I just knew it! It's all there in your profile pic -- we see a walkway, leading to the kinds of abodes that for now are in safe harbor. But each boat has the potential to sail away to faraway places and to shake hands with people in unfamiliar ports. What was once strange becomes warm. Your picture exemplifies hominess and adventure, all at once.

Beck and I had a long talk about this. Forgive us.

9:19 PM

Blogger Labbie said...

I just ran your post by Darth Betta, my fish, and he said that he doesn't mean to kill, just mame. He said it's because he is claming and defending his territory... Something about the law of the wild and not necessarily classical conditioning but evolutionary memory. But Darth Betta rules his tank through fear, really.

Hope all is well in your land, Ing. Besos!

12:34 PM

Blogger Bunyan, Paul Bunyan said...

I saw Beck with another woman, do not tell ing! What are we going to do to protect her from this evil, evil hmm devil like creature! Dang that was good... Yes Beck is a devil like creature we need to protect ing from.

12:10 AM

Blogger josh williams said...

Bunyan is kinda off his rocker but keep it under your hat, he just don’t know no better. All that choppin' has gone to his head. I am Bunyans state sponsored guardian, please understand.
A curious and unique relationship, he gets a check from the government to watch over my escapades and I receive a check to keep him from choppin' down stuff that does not need choppin' down.Kinda beautiful if you think about it, kinda disturbing if your really think about it, so who is right? I would prefer only an answer that would please me…

8:51 PM


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