Experience, Myth, Schema

This is the place where life happens. Things that sometimes seem really important are often just wrapped in an emotional turmoil of present situations. I once was a young lover for a curious friend. We had such passionate exchanges of emotional angst. Even the good moments of uncontrollable ecstasy were steeped in a lasting sense of bewilderment. After having many lovers at many stages of my life, I now look back fondly, but with hesitancy, about feeling attached to these people.

I do enjoy meeting and getting to know new people, they are so often full of surprises. I always try to offer my own uniqueness in perception as to not deny them the opportunity to acknowledge the immensity of human experience. Unfortunately, to reveal oneself and be revealed is a vulnerable endeavor and creates a lot of tension inside of all people. Through consistent and repeated exposure to that which is unfamiliar one can build a character of engaged observation, this comes with time and at varying speeds.

Anyway, my purpose for being here is more likely simply to record observations of myself and my history. I am not humanity, but I contain a beautiful kaleidoscope of the human condition. I have walked with a unique set of humans and interacted with them in a manner quite my own. As a dear friend reminded me, each of us has done the same and that record of the human condition is a fundamentally valuable aspect to our existence. Although it seems to be have the character of a jaded lover, at once it reinvents us, leaves us wanting for no more, and inspires us to never engage again.

I often find myself emoting at all the wrong times. Here I lie typing and enjoying the peace of nostalgia, but when faced with a new situation I must process the entirety of my history to acknowledge the impact of the present moment. I will write someday, not because I once dreamed of being a famous writer, but because that dream came from an impassioned place inside myself and was assigned the story of fame by the phenomena often referred to as ego. The mechanism by which my internal sensation is interpreted and transmuted into a story that can be stored and retrieved from my thought bank. Myth does not express only the confusion of the world around us, but stems from a psychological need to store internal experience without shutting down the nervous system by overloading its circuitry every time something happens.
Have experience, feel experience, become a part of experience, interpret experience, combine experience into a story, integrate the story into the schema (collection of all stories explaining all phenomena experienced), let new schema take root, feel resolved (often requiring many other experiences to change the schema so that this particular experience is compatible). So there seems to be a mechanism to select only a small subsection (or multiple but in linear progression) of the schema, which is then modified to suit the new experience. Traumatic experience must be held unresolved until enough related experience can draw a connection. This seems to explain the repeated reinvention or repetition of traumatic behavior (or things closely resembling) until an individual finds relevance to incorporate experience into their schema.

Experience – a particular moment involving the nervous system and a real or imagined event

Myth – the immediate processing of an experience into a story structure

Schema – the master story of one’€™s life, at once the record of all experience and the lens by which experiences are framed as myths

Learning, Time, and the Importance of Parenting

As people we learn by superimposing our past experience on new situations, then we allow new experience to reflect the reality of a situation. It is natural for young adults to move into the world by recreating the family structure that is familiar from childhood. It is important though to let these new relationships blossom into something beyond the familiar family roles that we are accustomed to. Since our conscious and unconscious experience of relationship was formed in our personal familial dynamics it becomes a great challenge when we are first confronted with the opportunity to have our perception shaken by realizing that there are many other possible relationships available in the world than just those that why grew up with. The first experience of allowing the diversity of people and relational styles to enter our life is a very tricky challenge, but once experienced it becomes less psyche shattering and more character building. 

Of paramount importance in this transition is the supportive love of a family that is neither oppressively codependent nor cripplingly lassez faire. In the former case a family will repeatedly re-infantilize the child, never allowing them to fully develop a new relationship. In the latter, the adult child will never get to experience the necessary comparative moment of developing a new relationship in the image of the family structure, then returning to see that it has been recreated and being able to then allow the third-party relationship to grow in new and unexpected ways.

Here I will focus on the case of an adult child struggling to escape the confines of a family that doesn’t allow a grown child to venture deep enough into the world of relationship to start develop the ability to relate to non-family (where family can represent any individuals deemed by the governing familial leader as family) members in new and appropriate ways. As the grown child attempts to mature and develop new connections the codependent family will violently defend their roles. The adult child must extend the past relational role to a new person in accordance with the normal human learning mechanism mentioned in the beginning of this blog. Seeing their role being transfer to another person the family becomes vain, frightened, and angry. Usually, the displaced family member will violently fight to regain the sole focus of the adult child’s affection an destroy the relationship that seems to be threatening the familiar role that was enjoyed by the displaced family member. Not realizing that there is a wonderful new relationship available to the family member to the new adult child, they scared family member becomes more present into the adult child’s life and soon recreates the relationship that the family member is afraid to lose. Unfortunately this forces the adult child into a situation where they are handicapped and confused. They were experiencing new relationships and then were suddenly feeling like a child again. This is not their fault, they are victim to an overbearing family member who strongly wishes to stop the necessary formation of new adult relationships. Unfortunately, this will result in two possible outcomes, either the adult child’s psyche will break and they will forever be stuck in the forced relationship of the displaced family member’s re-creation or the adult child’s psyche will break and they will violently rise up in rebellion to their oppressor.

To avoid the necessary split requires healthy growth in both parties. First the adult child must assert their desire to form new relationships and take action to ensure this (often space and time are required) and the displaced family member must embrace the true familial love that supports the growth of the adult child. This ideal team-based solution would require the involvement of a trusted third-party and a commitment from both adult child and displaced family member. Falling short of this one of the codependent pair must, upon realization of the hopeless situation, take action to ensure their own growth and development. If they choose to follow this path, some solace may be found in knowing that they are not only helping themselves, but in fact showing the whole family unit how to break free of the cycle of emotional oppression – including the displaced family member. This journey is not easy, nor clean, but requires a strength and commitment to helping the entire family grow into a healthy adult group, rather than a perpetual strain on the psyches of all of the trapped individuals.


I will be forever grateful for my family which worked patiently with me while I fought for a new understanding of relationship outside of the family structure. May we always continue to grow together towards a better tomorrow standing together as individuals we are strong.

Hooked on a feeling: old wisdom just realized

My friend posted a question on Facebook about tools people have used to change recurring thoughts and beliefs that repeatedly hinder their comfortable participation in life. My response follows although it is almost 3AM and I have been writing my dissertation all day so I have no gauge on how nonsensical it is, but I hope you enjoy.

I have seen the most incredible transformation in people who apply some variant of the 12 steps in their life with vigor, commitment, and an experienced mentor. Below i describe my rationale as to why I belief recurring thoughts can be treated as an addiction to a certain state of being.

My primary step is admitting that I am compulsively addicted to the feeling produced by certain thoughts. For me, the specific thoughts need not be logically related since it is the effect I dwell in and not any particular thought itself. Next i acknowledge that my body, the tool I use to relate to the world and myself through feeling, is also my home and I exist within its sensations. Many unrelated thoughts may trigger similar sensations in my body, for instance when i think of bugs and balconies I feel uneasy and automatically recoil in a subtle physical way. Sometimes though, a particular set of thoughts can over time become an easy “fix” for my often unconscious craving for the particular feeling I cannot bare to live without. After identifying the feeling and sensations that I am abusively dwelling in, I commence with the usual 12 steps.

Identifying the feeling which I have become habituated to involves some period of simply taking note of what I am thinking and how I am feeling throughout the day. Awareness seems to be a crucial catalyst in my transformation process and until I can truly admit to myself that there is an unhealthy pattern I seem to be incapable of changing anything.

Perhaps I will continue this train of thought in another blog in the future.

Spectral crowding, not a metaphor

There was a conversation on LinkedIn about quantum computing and its possibility or impossibility. I was feeling feisty so I replied. The main argument in the thread was that each qubit in a quantum computer has an energy that needs to be individually addressed and that each energy has an uncertainty defined by quantum mechanics. This means that if we naively tried to stack qubits with equal coupling into energy space there would be a limit to how many would fit. I disagree with this argument not because it is false, but because the current experimental systems are becoming smarter and have developed ways to avoid this problem. Here is my reply.

This was quite a complex thread and I did my best to follow in a ten minute read, but perhaps missed some aspects of the arguments. I would say the energy crowding discussed with the 2^64 states is a problem of hardware architecture. The Martinis group at UCSB has a very nice solution for this using what they call the RezQu architecture, which is simply a Von Nuemann computing system that has a RAM and processor. There is also great work being done on solid state tunable couplers with ON/OFF ratios sufficient to controllably decouple qubits beyond the threshold for fault tolerance. Both of these technological advances would avoid any frequency crowding issues, including the problems of measurement crosstalk and individual qubit operations that would affect other qubits. In the RezQu architecture with tunable couplers this in principle would be overkill for maintaining fault tolerance of unwanted errors. From within the field I can say everyone who is working seriously on quantum computing is well aware of all the foreseeable issues and are working brilliantly to solve them on the fly. I would say most objections to quantum computing come not from people who are working to disprove its possibility of realization, but rather from the researchers who are discovering new and exciting research questions as the field advances. The most daunting hindrance at this point is engineering and material science rather than any fundamental physics limitations.

Although, I would point out the real issue with further advances in quantum computing will be in reliable demonstrations of development. Full quantum process tomography will be a greatly challenging question in the coming years, but this is research and there are many resources from image processing and large scale data analysis that will need to infiltrate the field of quantum computing as we need to collect and process incredible amounts of data in order to verify that the quantum mechanics of the system is what we think it is. At some point I think the proof will be in the pudding, algorithms will work reliably even though we cannot simulate them, but that is the point of quantum computing! That is to say, if we as a community choose to continue developing the technology needed. I cannot say I think qc is possible or impossible, but I have seen nothing yet that convinces me that it is impossible. My disclaimer is that I have worked in weak measurement reversal and proposed an application with my phd advisor which was realized in experiment and extended to reverse entanglement sudden death, which was thought to be impossible, so I am a bit of an optimist.

Faith and discipline

Faith and discipline seem to be interrelated in a very subtle way. Discipline is the fortitude of spirit required to stay with an activity well beyond the point where inspiration leaves us. Faith is the resource with which we can continue to take action beyond the point where inspiration has stops deluding us.

I have had dreams since I was as young as my dawn of consciousness reveals to me now. Ideas have been my only true companion, sometimes torturing me relentlessly while I sought peace of mind, sometimes giving me a graceful exit from an unbearable situation. An endless stream of alternate interpretations. Each idea carried with it the possibility of a new future and an escape from my current situation. The more uncomfortable I am, the more ideas I seem to have, or at least recognize. My mind is my fortress from reality, it is my bastion of hope and my slippery slope. How then does this unwieldy phenomena relate to faith and discipline? It is the substance with which I can see the power of both.

I am a creature raised in uncertainty, but I managed somehow to find survival. Of course that somehow is deeply connected to my reliance on others to take care of me when I could not take care of myself and guide me when I did not know what to do, but I have foolishly and repeatedly chosen to fight for complete autonomy that I may know only myself without dilution. In this battle, I have come face to face with my own inability to look beyond that which I have experienced and know what to do when never having done something before. This is where I hope to find my discipline and this is where my faith is tested.

With reflective thought I look at a new situation and devise a strategy, whether through prayer, meditation, deductive reasoning, or any of the other techniques I have been developing in my years on earth, I eventually decide on an appropriate action to take. This process in itself is already a situation where I am tackling a problem never before faced, I have thought on many occasions, in fact I think unceasingly, but I have never thought about something which I have never been faced with before. Thus I walk into a new situation through a door which I have never entered before. How then do I proceed?

Usually I wait for some inspiration, whether it comes more easily through intuition, reasoning, or expert advice, it eventually comes. This inspiration has a whole reality which infects my mind with possible scenarios, expected outcomes, anticipated disappointments, and a cornucopia of other complex imaginings. If I search for just a moment there is often a grandiose sensation of doing something beyond ordinary human potential, I can never remember in these moments that this is likely just the sensation of doing something beyond anything that I have ever done and that the collection of everything that I have done is my default definition of human potential. Either way, this feeling of incredible pioneering motivates me to push into the great unknown and move into taking some action in this new situation. For me, this does not require much faith, it is more an act of excited arrogance, a slight sense of invisibility coated by a layer of fear, which only leads to more excitement as I am compelled into action.

I posit that this short-lived supply of fuel is wonderful and necessary, but fleeting and unsustainable. What is required next is great faith that where we are going will not destroy us. This is the stage at which I commonly realize that I have started down a course that was not ideal and perhaps disastrous if not altered swiftly and with agility. Here I have navigating a sequence of events, internal and external, which require vigilant attention. Suddenly I can not seem to catch my breathe nor get my feet back on the ground. Each step I take is informed once it is initiated, each adjustment happens with the potential of not completing before the step is finished. Somehow, from some source of clarity in perceiving the situation as it appears to truly be, this stumbling propels me forward to an undetermined goal. Where do the delusional sensations of fulfilling some great destiny lay out by the gods go? It does not matter at this point, I must be moved by faith in my ability to correct my steps quickly in between the moment where I initiate them, realize they are are not moving toward my desired outcome, and the moment where I must quickly find a graceful close and initiate the next. Faith is in the process of movement, it resides in my direct perception of the situation and my ability to adapt with ceaseless flexibility.

For a while this stumble seems enjoyable, it is rewarding simple to experience the beauty of my agility, but again this process will take an internal turn. My processing unit becomes challenged and fatigued. I want to stop playing, to get off the ride, to go home when I no longer enjoy the sensations. What does it take to get through this process? I do not know, if at all I come tripping over the finish line only to be fully engaged in another race. As I type, I am stumbling through many races, some are dashes and some marathons, but all are evoking a strength of character which when I look into the eyes of a creature that has finished I recognize. When I see it in another, I call it discipline. When a friend has accomplished something, anything, for the first time, I think, “that, my friend, required great discipline,” but rarely do I have time to see it in myself, for I must continue the races of my life. Endlessly adapting, placing one foot in front of the other, a discipline beyond what I knew I had moves me and a strengthening sense of faith places it safely in preparation for the next.

May we move with grace and support each other as we all discover that we possess more than we ever thought we had.

My new Android

I just got a new android phone and I’m pretty excited to see what is capable of, although I’m not a big fan of trying to type an entire blog on a mobile phone, I am very excited about the fact that this android has a voice input, speech to text, recognition software built in. this is a wonderful service and it allows me to dictate my blog post although I do need to use an internet connection in order for the transcription to occur, it is a cloud service. One issue for me is that I’m working with a prepaid cell phone service provider which does not give me access to enough mobile data to use this voice recognition cloud service all the time. I can however use this when I’m connected to wifi which is pretty much everywhere that I am now a days anyway.

I highly recommend the wordpress for android app, it is pretty darn easy to use and has all the functionality of wordpress.com as well as everything that I have on my ipad version. if you have access to unlimited data or if you’re near wifi all the time it also makes it possible to dictate your entire blog post all be it in chunks and pieces, however it takes very little editing to go back and change some ands into eds and things like that. I really like the fact that you can’t have the bold button and immediately dictate in bold. this works for dash, italic, and all the other fun stuff that you can do when formatting a simple blog.

I am very excited about my htc incredible and discovering the functionality that I’m going to find with the android 2.3 operating system and htc sense UI.

Is quantum computing real?

This is a response that I wrote to the question posed in the title, Is quantum computing real?

The principal theory is self consistent, but paper tolerates everything. There are still many technical obstacles to a full implementation, yet progress is rapid. While the fundamental operational building blocks have been demonstrated in many systems for a few qubits, there is an issue with how to characterize a quantum process for more than a few qubits (quantum process tomography), which is a necessary step to prove that a system is actually being a controllable quantum device. The issue is the sheer number of experimental repetitions necessary to fully characterize a quantum process with that large of a Hilbert space. Matrix estimation methods exist, but rigorous understanding of how closely these methods predict “quantumness” is not known to me. So, my answer is that the concept of using a physical quantum system for computation, possibly outperforming classical computers, is well-defined, possible, and plausible, but that there is still a lot of technical perseverence and progress needed before i would consider a full scale quantum computer “realized,” even though the fundamental components have been demonstrated for a few qubits. What did you want to know? What does “real” mean to you?