Friday, August 28, 2015


I am a poor sleeper. I yawn a lot. When necessary I take a 12 minute nap on the cot in the studio.

I have been a very poor sleeper for umpteen years.  I have tried over the counter remedies and doctor's prescriptions -- Ambien, Valium, Benadryl, valerian, melatonin, many other homeopathic remedies, warm milk, liquor, gone off caffeine, counted sheep, counted chimpanzees, reviewed lines in a play, reviewed steps in choreography -- I still do not fall asleep.
I fall awake.

My current routine: After tucking pillows under my neck and knees, I mutter "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care," repeat the Shakespeare words, counting as I start with the left leg, "One Ten Thousand, sleep that knits..." while sensing the flow of blood in 10 toes, then ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip joint before concentrating on the right leg, and its toes. I repeat this 15 to 30 times, till my mind rebels, and a loud awareness that I am wide awake drives me out of bed into the kitchen for a snack and some TV.

I've bumped into new news: The Military is working on a process called transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) that zaps the brain with electricity, and keeps people up for as much as 30 hours. Caffeine lasts two hours, tDCS currently lasts six. It's like Modafinil, a stimulant that Wall street-investors use, according to Jama Internal Medicine, a journal published by the American Medical Association.

Uber drivers take 20 minute naps, every four hours. That means they get two hours of sleep in 24 hours.

Various sleep experts are now saying we just need five hours a night. Most millennials (people born after 2000) are mostly into five hours). The latest talk about sleep says "sleep less, do more."

Quite a few experts say the Internet, email, and social networking are giving us shots of dopamine, a chemical the brain releases to simulate pleasure. We used to get this from caffeine, and now we're sold caffeine's in toothbrushes, stockings, soap, bath bubbles, beer, marshmallows, lollipops, coke, red bull, and bottled water. (And of course, we continue to be told over and over, that caffeine keeps us awake.)

So don't drink coffee? Do drink it? Drink it less?

Guys, we're flashed a lot of facts -- re coffee, saccharin, eggs, cholesterol, omega 3, belly fat, dental hygiene, bacteria, calories, carbs, exercise -- those are the ones that stay in my mind.

Excuse me, but I put most of this into my BB pile (bullshit baloney). I've paid attention to a lot of facts that sound life and death important, but these facts have faded like smoke rings.

After a sleepless night, semi sleepless night, or a moderately good night, I do my work and do it well.  How well I do it depends -- not on sleep-- but on whether or not the topic excites me.

Thus, therefore, ergo: I am dropping my "raveled sleeve" routine. Maybe I'll learn to sing this to myself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


The top computer guys are racing to be the first to make a quantum computer.
Hey -- are we on the verge of technology that would make your computer into an out-of-date thing, like an  abacus? Are our computers sort of like horses that we were riding not really that long ago, and now we're riding in jets?

I'm not a computer creator, programmer, math person, scientist. I am just a user. I vaguely understand that the computer I'm using is going to be replaced by something faster, better, much more advanced.

Yes, I have read in more than one place, that the quantum will be millions of times more powerful than today's fastest super computer. Oh my goodness, all that stuff we bought, we did, to update, to make our computers do more, faster, and better.

What will the new computers have that's different from what we have now?

Bits -- binary digits is what we have. We are going to need qubits.

Quantum computers make calculations using qubits and rely on physics to make multiple parallel universes. Example -- if you had to find an "x" written in 37 million books in the Library of Congress, a typical computer would look at every page in every book, one at a time -- it would do this very quickly but in a serial process. The Quantum could look at every page in every book at the same time -- yes, simultaneously -- looking for the X by splitting the task into a billion parallel universes and finding them all, right away, simultaneously.

That's the difference.

IBM announced excitedly that it found a way to detect a spooky-weird quantum error characteristic -- the very act of looking for an answer can make the qubit change its answer. So science guys need to create some mechanism that can figure out which is right answer.


Yes, it's weird and it's spooky too. The art of programming qubits is as big a challenge as making the Quantum machine in the first place.

Software today -- based on algorithms which are linear one-step-at-a-time calculations -- is definitely going to be useless. We will have to find a way of coming up with a recipe for apple pie in which all the ingredients combine in the pan in the same split second.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Emily Frankel wants to know if her husband, John Cullum finds stand-up comics, and comedy shows amusing.

John  explains why he loves Shakespeare's humor.

Emily, doing a silly contortion gets him laughing. Throwing words at him (it's a game they often play), Emily gets John performing like a "Martha Graham" modern dancer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


We greeted Gloria, our oldest goldfish, fed her and her four pals the tiny breakfast for which they were obviously waiting.

At the other tank we called "Hi Gang" to the family of tetras whom we'd seen get born one glorious morning, and then, as usual, called out "Hi Molly, Hi Samson," (all of our tropical fish had names) as we fed them. It was a morning and evening ritual, along with turning off the florescent tank lights so the fish would sleep when we did.

Caring for the fish was a family ritual until career things moved us to the west coast to work. It was one of the facts of life things we did with our son when he was growing up, along with teaching him to help us care for our dog and cat, but that's a different story. Goldfish are on my mind because people, for a few years, have been dumping them in a lake on the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado. There are quite a few huge ones now, like you see in this picture.

Teller Lake in Boulder -- a 12 acre expanse of water -- is overrun with more than 4000 goldfish. The US Geological Survey reports that more than a thousand former pets -- 688 types of fish, plus frogs, turtles, lizards, snakes are living, now in various bodies of water. Goldfish aren't hurting us yet, but they are throwing off the ecosystem.

So what's ahead for Teller Lake?  An electrocution of all the goldfish so that they can be eaten by the birds. No!!! Yes -- that's how this problem will probably be solved.

Hey, out of sight is NOT out of your mind  -- what you nurture you continue to love.

Albert Einstein said:
"Our task must be to free widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."

Albert Schweitzer said:
"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all livings things, Man will not himself find peace."

Here's something Stephen Hawking said:
"The city council of Monza, Italy, barred pet owners from keeping goldfish in curved bowls, saying that it is cruel to keep a fish in a bowl with curved sides because, gazing out, the fish would have a distorted view of reality. But how do we know we have the true, undistorted picture of reality?"
Hawking is not the only one who's concerned about cruelty to fish. PETA, (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals) says fish are intelligent, sensitive animals who think and feel pain the same way that cats and dogs do. Oxford University scientists have reported that some fish can learn faster than dogs; fish crave stimulation from other fish and from their environment. Although they are meant to dwell in the majestic seas, and there is no safe way to return captive fish to their natural environments, there are ways to make them happier: Here's PETA's advice about this: fish in tanks.

Anyhow, we moved back to New York City, and now the tanks contain sculpturesque pieces of driftwood we found on the beach. We turn on the tank lights every morning, and I smile remembering the Gloria, Molly, Samson and all the tiny tetras who grew bigger every day since the  day they were born.

I'm glad we gave all our fish back to the pet store -- maybe they lived out their lives in other homes, just as our dog and cat  lived out their lives in the homes of two of our NY neighbors.

How sad it is, how wrong it is -- that pets are thrown away and become woes for the world in which woes are already too abundant.

Golly, down through the ages, mankind has had pets -- what a precious spiritual thing it is, especially after your children have grown up and left home, to have a pet you love, who loves you.