caro thinks

It's been a hard couple of months, electronically speaking. Due to slow DNS changes, the web site was alternately down or inaccessible (at least for me and many others) for over a month; I couldn't get my mail half the time; as soon as DNS changes began to kick in, my laptop monitor broke; I backed up my files, in DOS, to floppies, and transferred them to my old computer, and sent the new computer to be repaired; the computer came back with the harddrive returned to its original configuration, which meant that I lost EVERYTHING that I hadn't backed up, including ALL of my digital pictures, MOST of my software, and worst of all, ALL the plant specimen pictures I'd collected and the PaintShop landscape drawings I'd made with them; the site wasn't up in time to have the online conference in January; my most recent client won't pay me on the grounds that there was no contract to prove that we had dealings with each other because I was silly enough to trust my clients to pay for services rendered. But all this was nothing in comparison to the intense, extended soul-searching and conceptual and psychological rearrangements that I entered to discover just what it was about me and Big Business that was getting in my way.

But my web sites and my computer are back, and so am I. Here's the New, Improved Carolyn, even more dangerous than before. Weasel Girl.
date 2001-02-07:19:32
music Turns out that my previous bad radio reception is a result of the position of the furniture upstairs! It's a sort of radio feng shui. The main factor is my homemade rat cage, which, though made of wood, has two 5-foot by 3-foot chickenwire doors on it. I noticed one night when the radio was on rather loud, that opening the door changed the station quite reliably.

So I got a spare length of chickenwire and bent it into a rectangular tube, and waved it in front of the radio until it made a difference.

Then I tried it with the tv. Now I get 6 channels instead of one and a half, and I have a very ugly box of chickenwire hanging from a chair in the middle of the room. Television is important!
now in bloom on my patio The New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium Ruby Glow) is in full stunning bloom, standing about 7 feet tall in its 4-gallon pot. Cherry red double blossoms of rose form, with a big black seed pod in the middle, absolutely smother the branches, obscuring the needlelike leaves. Still skrawny and leggy, it seems to be a happy little thing, and I've managed to get the wet and dry seasons simulated just right to make it do this: dry in the summer during the long days, wet in the winter. It's soaking up water like mad now, as the double white (whose name I can't remember at the moment) is gearing up for its second burst.

The "Yuletide" Camellia, in a 2-gallon pot, just finished and is ready to be pruned. "Marie Bracey," a double rose form bright pink japonica, has been in bloom steadiy for the past three months in its original 1-gallon pot, with almost as many buds as leaves. "Kramer's Supreme," a huge frilly double red rose form with a lovely fragrance, is just this weeks straining to open its first two blossoms of the winter. And my mystery Camellia, which I've never seen bloom but guess from the buds to be double white or very light pink, will most likely display this month.

The yellow Euryops daisy tree has been in full bloom since summer. Rescued from my neighbor's yard and stuck in a 15-gallon pot, it remained leafless for about 6 months until it decided to stay and be happy. Now it's 6 feet tall, lush with dark green leaves and all-yellow flowers.

Bougainvillea "San Diego Red," rescued from another neighbor's yard and also bare for about 6 months afterward, has grown 15 feet in the past year and is covered in fire-engine red blossoms.

Azaleas "Happy Days" (double purple), a copper-pink, and a very frilly bright pink with white edges are all entering the spring full-bloom.

Last year's experiment with primroses in one gallon pots went well; these plants, which would have been temporary anywhere but in southern California, bloomed almost all year, and right now they are blooming their hardest in every color from blue to red to pink to yellow. They make an especially nice display at night under the spot light.

This year's biggest experiment is a potted deciduous magnolia tree, just acquired this week in full bud. I tried to resist buying a tree expected to grow to 20 feet when planted in a lawn, but the smell of the one 10-inch white-and-purple flower made me circle the garden center three times until I finally came up with enough rationalizations. After all, the wisteria has been happy in its 15-gallon pot for the last three years, so why not keep the magnolia bansai-style? And besides, I could never see the point of having those lovely flowers anywhere from 20 to 90 feet above people's heads; better to keep it small, where I can bury my face in the blossoms. I discussed it with one of the nurserymen, and we decided that it was worth trying in a 20-gallon pot with regular root and branch pruning. It is simply too lovely for words right now, all bare except for 10 big fat fuzzy buds and one enormous unspeakably delicious flower. I decided that a deciduous tree would actually be quite convenient for this small space (the patio is only 19 feet by 11 feet), since there are few hours of sun on this patio during the winter, and I can just tuck the bare magnolia into one of the darker corners for its rest, thus leaving more light for winter bloomers.

One big blossom on "Tropicana," my bright orange hybrid tea rose, is slightly open and very smelly. I chose this rose as a potted specimen because of its obvious vigor and because its buds were strongly perfumed long before they opened. I've had to deal with a bit of powdery mildew and rust in recent months, but that was my fault because I wasn't hosing it down often enough. The miraculous, safe, all-purpose pesticide, paraffinic oil, has taken care of those problems and the aphids (which are just horrid this year).

The fuchsia (fuchsia pink and white) has not stopped blooming for one single day since I got it as a tiny squirt in a 4-inch pot last year. Still covered in flowers, it's in a big growth spurt now, promising to become a quite stately hanging ornament by June.

All of the cyclamens are blooming their hearts out, though I finally found today what was wrong with my newest friend: it was broken right at the corm. Clearly suffering, as evidenced by the constant slight wilt of the leaves, it nevertheless continued to put out several blooms at a time. Though a large part of the plant broke off finally today, there are still enough leaves for it to make a comeback soon, and there are even some undamaged flower buds.

Two hybiscuses, one of which was a rescue-plant, have also been in full bloom all winter. The one that I bought as a pup, "Mrs. Jimmy Spangler," is now in a 5-gallon pot. Its flowers (of which there are about 20 right now) fades from bright red in the center through shades of orange to bright yellow on the edge. The rescue-plant was handed over, gray, dry, rootbound and leafless, by the apartment manager last winter, along with a similar specimen. I cut them back to almost nothing and gave them a temporary potting just to see if anything was left. One of these is now a 4-foot wide, deep green ball dotted all over with the sweetest, purest-yellow flowers imaginable. They are painful to look at, they are so bright. (Its fellow is still struggling with about 10 chronically chlorotic leaves growing out of its 6-inch stump; but where there's green, there's hope.)

Alyssum makes a fantastic hanging basket plant. Why waste that heady perfume on the ground when you can grow it at shoulder-level? Mine is in bloom now right next to the door, so that the first thing I smell in the morning is the scent of honey. It shares its pot with a Chinese blue fan plant, also blooming.

One of the more spectacular sights is the blue hibiscus (alyogyne huegelii). In summer its flowers last only a day or two, closing up at night and opening again in the morning. But in winter they can last all week. Mine, in a 5-gallon pot, is now coming into full bloom, with two flowers fully open and about 20 buds on the way.

I was very diligent about acquiring bulbs this year, and have been potting up a few at a time once a week. The paperwhites are all done now. But the hyacinths, which for me are the smell of Easter, have just begun to scent the air, and can very conveniently come inside for the evening, along with the winter stock.

And all the while making a sweet and steady backdrop, two solanum--a Paraguay nightshade tree in deep blue, and a blinding-white jasmonoides vine growing up the lattice.

Expected this month on the patio: Cistus purpureus in a 5-gallon pot; Tibouchina in a 5-gallon, on a short break from blooming; Rhaphiolepsis "Ballerina" in a 5-gallon; Epidendrum (a terrestrial orchid with sprays of small, orange-red flowers) in a two-gallon; the boronia , in a 5-gallon, is positively bursting with buds (SURPRISED? I was!!); a pink bouvardia in a 6-inch pot--a nice little bloomer that I tried to kill when I discovered it had mites but which survived anyway; pittosporum, which I'm trying to shape into a small tree, in a 5-gallon; several pots of freesia; and a bowl of dark multicolored pansies, if the rats ever stop eating the blossoms!

Tom asked me how many plants there are in this mere 209 square feet, set 4-feet below groundlevel in a deep canyon of La Jolla. (There's a picture of him soldering in it, in his journal.) Answer: I have no idea. Is there room for more? Always. In fact, this patio is frequently used as a half-way house for convalescent plants that my friends have tried to kill. It's all in the placement, based on analysis of all relevant factors in this unique little environment, including how each plant interacts with and affects the others (yes, that's what I said).
fallacies Apparently, the lady doth protest too much.

I need to get pregnant, and fast, before my desperate longing for children drives me even more mad than I already am! Someone, who shall remain nameless, "read" my essay, "The Shame of Not Wanting Children". This essay, which he interprets as a long list of reasons for not having children (it isn't, actually, but nevermind the facts), proves that what I really want to do is that which it comes naturally for me to do: squeeze out pups.

I claim there's a fallacy here. What does it mean, to say that someone has committed a fallacy? In some cases it means that there is an implicit false premise which the arguer is relying upon. Here, the claim is that anyone who bothers to support her decision to not reproduce, really wants to reproduce.

Why would anyone think that? One possibility is that there is a generalized, perhaps folk-psychological premise at work, something like, "People who argue against a proposition actually really believe that proposition." Unfortunately, this premise is clearly false.

But maybe the person means, in the special case of children, anyone who bothers to argue for reasons not to have them, really must want them. Maybe there's something at work like, "No one would spend time on something that really didn't interest them; you spent time talking about children, so you must be interested enough in them to want to have them." Amusingly, however, the opposing case can now be made: "Anyone who bothers to argue for reasons to have children, obviously doesn't want them."

Or maybe it's only in the case of arguing against having children, that this is true. I'm not sure how one gathers evidence for this, unless it's just obvious that the people who actually do have children, are the people who argue most strenuously that one shouldn't have them. I'm pretty sure that's not true, though.

OK, let's say one can legitimately wonder why in the world I bother to talk about the issue? Can't I just not have children and shut up about it? There are several reasons.

One, I'd love to shut up about it. The fact that I'm not going to have children doesn't usually cross my mind until someone else starts trying to explain this weird psychosis of mine that prevents me from producing offspring. People like this are constantly advising me to have babies. They are inescapable, and they are everywhere. Unlike most of my girlfriends, who have trouble finding men who share their interest in children, every one of my boyfriends has tried to talk me into making new people for him. Just my luck.

Two, I do think about other people's decisions to have children, because I see children everywhere being abused or neglected, and because I interact with adults whose parents treated them badly and now they are taking it out on other adults.

Three, I'm a philosopher, and I see both ethical and logical problems with an advanced society that continues to claim that, among all the myriad capacities that human beings have, THIS PARTICULAR capacity MUST be exercised, whatever may become of the other capacities.

But, the lady doth protest too much. Why do philosophy, or landscaping, or programming, when I could be a mother?? Therefore, I'm joining the human race, and looking for someone to get me pregnant with all speed.

Stud service needed. Inquire within.
on being a woman One of my favorite things about Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the attitude toward women, specifically the attitude toward the stupid attitudes toward women.

Mike (or Joel) and the bots watch a lot of older movies, and that means that they watch a lot of sexist movies. During one of their many monster-horror movies, in which women are being mistreated, insulted, or killed by men and monsters alike, Tom Servo comments "I wonder how this movie really feels about women."

Another favorite line is snapped out in response to a scene of a woman who picks up an object to try to fend off someone's violence, drops it, trips, and falls. Crow comments, "It's so funny when a woman tries to do something.

And my absolute all-time favorite occurs during Crow's and Tom's presentation of their new Woman calculator, which tells people how many times a lady they are (you know, like the song that goes, "You're once, twice, three times a lady"). It turns out that Mike is 8 times a lady. He strongly objects to this diagnosis, but his protestations that he is no times a lady are lost in the ensuing battle of insults between Tom and Crow: "You big woman !" "Oh, yeah? You giant lady".
philosophy of physics Several papers and two books are in progress currently.

One is a paper, being co-written with Tom, on quantum reality. My thinking on this subject is currently infantile, and it restructures and grows dramatically day by day. I stumble a lot, and get very discouraged, but Tom is exceedingly patient if still pretty realist and poetic and cryptic and mathematical, and he picks me up.

The problem, as I see it at this very moment, is this. Physicists are not philosophers. But they think they are, and they like to make grand philosophical claims. This happens a lot in science, if what I've read in neuroscience journals is any indication.

Worse, the kinds of philosophy that have influenced them so far have been rather barren and sketchy. The realism, which is the more profound of the theories to which they subscribe, conflicts directly with their results. And, according to Tom, they retreat into the comfortable withdrawal of operationalism and positivism. Thus, they say things that, to the ordinary human being, make no sense. Ordinary human beings, who don't have the same delusions of grandeur that physicists have, think that this means that they are saying very profound things that only other physicists can understand. If Tom is to be believed, however, the other physicists don't understand them either. And that, I conjecture, is because they don't make any sense.

For example, here's Bohr:

There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum mechanical description.

Uh hunh.

Clearly, this doesn't make any sense as it stands, especially if one is a realist--specifically, a realist with regard to entities. It doesn't make any sense to me, either, though. But given what I've read so far, I believe that objectivist epistemology--i.e., conceptualism--can make sense of the data. Realism just can't.

Tom and I have written on the problems for realism in the ordinary realm of perception (see our "Edges" paper); these problems for realism are in addition to the quantum problems. They are not based on the problems of quantum mechanics. A lot of people don't understand this about our work. I had thought very little of the problems of quantum physics in any sense, before this winter, whatever Tom may have had in his head all along. My contribution to the paper was based purely on the objects of everyday perception. It may be more comfortable to believe that the two of us are simply confused because we have allowed our thinking to be steered by the issues in quantum mechanics, but it is also erroneous. You'll have to take my word for that, I guess, or check out my considerations on the electron in my dissertation; there, I was obviously still thinking in terms of realism with regard to entities, though I obviously believed that the electron should only be considered a theoretical entity.

There, I've said it, it's on public record. Journals are so convenient.
wildlife The wild patio rats keep eating my violets! Little twerps. They've sometimes sheared off the hibiscus flowers without eating them, which bothered my anti-wasteful mentality tremendously, but I forgave them because few things are as cute as a half-grown rat climbing amongst glossy leaves and scampering off with huge white flowers in the its mouth. Unless it's several baby rats collecting the fallen bougainvillea blossoms one by one and hopping around with them. At least they eat the violets, and I'd guess that they paper their nests with my paperflowers.

Coyotes howling again around the canyon. Hadn't heard them for a couple of months, maybe because I actually had the windows closed at night for a change.
Tom Yes, Tom, we're all reading your journal, I promise!
perl This journal program, written by yours truly in perl, has been converted by Tom into the Enlightenment online conference software. It will shortly be converted by me into a sort of message board for interactive fun. Meanwhile, I'm about halfway through a lightweight listserver that will integrate the Enlightenment lists into the site. Perl, like patio rats, is a wonderful and annoying creature.
reading Wow, I have read a lot over the past two months! Dave Barry's Guide to Guys, was very funny though largely false (or at least I hope so). Einstein's Moon: Bell's Theorem and the Curious Quest for Quantum Reality by David Peat was my primer on the state of physicists' philosophical acumen today (not good). I swing between chomping at the bit to get started on the paper with Tom, and just pretending the whole thing never happened. And
Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions, which is an embarrassment to the psychological community, and to the human race. I wrote about the first few chapters in an earlier entry. The next chapters were better, but only because they should have been chapters of a different book. Nice lightweight discussions of emotions, distinctions therebetween, and some definitions. I hope that this part sinks in for people, because this is the actual information provided in the book.

Because I am not a natural business person or marketeer, and because I am a philosopher and a person who tries to behave as virtuously as she knows how, I find it difficult to deal with the fact that this sort of hype can not only get people to buy the book but that it can convince people who read it that the book actually said something. The responses that I got to the comments I made, really shook me up, disoriented me, made me feel alone in an alien world. And thus the effect of Instant Emotional Healing on me was extended emotional and philosophical disappointment and crisis.

But I'm feeling much better now. That restructuring of my conceptual scheme and my opinion of humans in general needed to be done, and now that it is done I am all the more determined to strive for the best.

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