Saturday, August 19, 2006 A

"Intellectually Stimulating"

I had such a richly stimulating time, I'm not sure I can list all the many things we saw and learned. One session even featured a Boggle Tournament with our local Mensan Charles. There was a lecturer on the birds found in Disney's Animal Kingdom. He first gave an overview of the various bird groups, described them, and had pictures of them all. I thought he looked young, but was surprised to learn he was only fifteen!

The online program tells more about this lecturer:

Christian Burns
"A devoted Mensan since age 9, Christian Burns lectured at an RG, wrote and then participated in Culture Quest, and founded a young Mensan group "id". California born, he walked at 8 months, read at 16 months, and started preschool, violin, swimming, chess, and French in the US Virgin Islands, followed by gifted schooling and many awards, including Latin. While enrolled in college at age 11, he belonged to PHi Theta Kappa Honor Society and attended youth groups (scouting, fencing, rock climbing) and volunteered at a nature center, a library, and Yale Peabody Museum. At age 13 he received his Associates degree, cum laude. Attending UMass, he looks forward to Cornell. He hopes to obtain a DVM/PhD as an ornithologist."

Wow! That's impressive.

There were lovely pictures of Scotland. One member shared her experiences in Sweden, mostly of a stay at an ice hotel. I shuddered at those cold images, and thought that's why my grandmother's people left for the States. But of course, most stay in warm houses during the worst of winter. Only the hardiest, and possibly warmed by that Absolut vodka which their country produces, dare to spend time in an ice hotel. But her lecture was fascinating.

Another lady shared images of the various small critters to be found in Florida, frogs and skinks and what not. I was glad the room was darkened, so she couldn't see me nodding off.

The room wasn't darkened when I nodded off in the middle of adventurous McCartney Taylor's tales of collecting meteorite specimens. He saw me! Later, when we visited the Mensa sales area, in which various members offered their items, I met him again and bought a small iron meteorite. He mentioned that nodding off, and said I must have been really sleep deprived, for I'd shown such earlier enthusiasm. I'm glad he understood.

Another lady, who came all the way from the Philippenes, told us about the The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Here it is as the Mensa program describes it:

Presented By: Celeste Michelle Alba Lim
This talk will help people to become more effective by showing them the power of paradigms, the need to be proactive, to identify and focus on what really matters, to think and communicate empathically, and to constantly renew themselves. Through examples, experiences, and exercises, Michelle will lead people to realize how important it is to appreciate and internalize the saying, "No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

I also found a brief synopsis on the web:

Private Victory
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the End in Mind
3. Put First Things First

Public Victory
4. Think Win / Win
5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
6. Synergize

7. Sharpen the Saw

She emphasized the first step was most important. It involves not being EXTERNALLY motivated by things and people, but being INTERNALLY motivated. This especially resonated with me, as I go on my self directed spiritual/magical path, and it is exciting to learn it is being advised as the most effective method for general life skills. She gave various examples of how to do this, and all the various steps. Some of the other steps have to do with developing our communication skills. How do we determine what effect our words are having upon others if we don't first try to get inside the listener's head and understand their viewpoint?

Ms. Lim was a very dynamic and energetic speaker, so dynamic that I didn't even nod off once!

Oh, there were so many fascinating lectures. I know I'm forgetting some. I couldn't forget this one, though:

Dark Forces in the Universe! I could not fail to be excited about this lecture.

The lecturer was from the very leading edge of scientific research. They are going to have a symposium later, in which many experts in this field will give the results of their studies. Oh, can I summarize from memory what he discussed? I did not take notes! Roughly, it is that only 4% of the universe is atoms, and was it 34% 'dark matter' which kind of holds everything together, and the rest 'dark energy' whose function they don't fully understand yet? I'm not sure I have the exact percentages right, but I know I'm right about the 4%. I'm so tempted to draw analogies from the mythological/metaphysical understandings, and wonder if the 'dark matter' cooresponds to 'Nuit, Mother of the Gods', and the 'dark energy' to Set, her very energetic Son. It's pleasant to ponder.

Win Wenger passed out paper to do an exercise, and I also I used it to sketch him quickly...

We attended two of Win Winger's lectures, which were most fascinating. I learned the intuitive process I use to do many of my drawings isn't just occult mystical stuff, but a process Winger advocates to fully access all regions of the mind. He calls it Image Streaming, the learning to get "get pictures" in your mind's eye. You can externalize them via all sorts of ways, writing them down, telling them to a friend, or sketching them out as I do.

As he explains:

"Less than two percent of our brains is involved in conscious thinking and experiencing.

This two percent associates — we consciously think — in words. I say "sky" and you think or say "blue"; I say "table" and your response is likely to be "cloth" or "leg." Most of the time when you try considering to puzzle out some concern or question, you usually subvocalize in words.

In contrast, some eighty to ninety percent of your brain associates in sensory images instead — forty to forty-five times more of your brain by volume than the parts of your brain which do your conscious, verbal thinking.

Where, then, is the greater part of your intelligence to be found? — in that two percent or in that eighty-plus percent?

Not only by the amount of brain involved. Our conscious verbal brain is trained down by the speed of the language we speak, to go much slower and more ploddingly compared with the rest of our brain. Most of the rest of our cerebral cortex, topmost region of our brain, communicates point-to-point some ten thousand times faster than do the conscious verbal parts. The main, limbic, brain, associates and communicates some ten thousand times faster than does most of the cortex — ten thousand times ten thousand — ten MILLION — times faster than does your conscious verbal mind.

Even more important, only a tiny part of our memory and experience are directly accessible to conscious remembering and use — and THAT access only by heavily edited executive summaries. Most of us expend huge effort and attention to trying to store in more highly retrievable form certain portions of experience (both in and out of school), and usually "lose" or "forget" most of that anyway.

In contrast, all or very nearly all of the experiences we've ever had, conscious or unconscious, are still in our living memory, highly accessible to our unconscious sorting and associating (and still coloring our thoughts, perceptions and choices even though we are consciously unaware of them).

Everything cited to this point is well-known, verifiable fact, long familiar to science after centuries of disciplined research into mind and brain. Also widely acknowledged these past several decades is the finding and observation that apparently every conscious thought and perception and action is preceded by relevant unconscious — "pre-conscious" — brain functions."

As he calls it, this "Beyond-Conscious Mind" is indeed a rich source of inspiration.

It is really exciting to learn things that expand our knowledge and give us further clues on life's path. I'm sure glad I have a smart partner, so I can enjoy all these resources of which I'd not otherwise be able to!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 B


It was Saturday night, and time for the fancy dinner and celebration. Julia wore a fancy dress, but even though I'd brought one, I opted for my usual dress:

The dining area was huge. Each round table was covered with a black tablecloth, then a thin black tablecloth over it that featured many golden stars. The omnivore meal featured salmon and steak, along with noodles. The vegetarian meal was a spicy dish with wild rice, beans, red pepper and other things. After we consumed our meals, a speaker invited people to take pictures:

What are they all taking pictures of?

What special artifact has got everyone so pictorially enthusized?


But it is no ordinary cake, as the Mensa logo is there, along with the dates 1946-2006. They played a nice movie explaining Mensa's beginnings, as well as having the original founders come to the podium to receive applause, and of course, to be photographed. As Julia entered sometime in the seventies, she didn't know any of those people, so I didn't join the photographers' horde this time. But it was interesting to learn the history. Mensa was founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr. Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. The first American branch was in New York City.

Afterwards, knowing this would be the last time I'd see the convention center lobby at night, I tried to get a picture of the stars in front of the arched doors:

Even though the photo is a bit blurry, I'm still keeping it...

Yes, quite a feeling of celebration was in order:

Yes, this is the fireworks from the visit to Epcot, but the placement seems more fitting here...

Indeed, it had been a marvelous time!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 C

"Dawn of a New Day"

After the evening's celebration, the morning light soon arrived:

With the dawn, runners begin their day...
(reminder, larger underneath...)

And we began early for our preparations to leave. Oddly enough, the camera batteries ran out at visit's end. So I bought batteries at the Orlando airport. If nothing else, I wanted to scan through the small playback viewer. But I did make use of the camera one last time before getting back home.

Julia had flown on to the next airport sooner than I did, as I could not join that flight without paying an extra 100 bucks. I think this is because the only seats left were in first class.. As soon as I joined her at the Washington airport, she happily showed me the view out the window:

And by this time, I'd taken time to read the manual and learn of the 'zoom' lever!

Oh, I will not speak here of the later exasperations of the day, the cancelled flight. But it happened at trip's end and not the beginning. In memory, that fades, and what remains are the good memories. Yes, I'm a 'memory hoarder'! ;):

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