Saturday, September 20, 2008


At about 35,000 feet as we approached this area there was a haze. It looked like a cloud bank, except it was the wrong color. "Is that smoke?" I asked, "It can't be dust this high." But it can, of course.

When the dust storms come in, the morning light looks yellow, not quite a lemon yellow, more sickly. In the evening everything is a bright orange. It looks like a bad science fiction movie special effect for the surface of Mars. It is eerie and beautiful and alien and exotic.

Change things slightly, a little darker, a little smokier. High on a wall are curls of razor wire. Caught in the razor wire are trash bags and tattered sheets of black pastic flapping in the wind. It looks like a clothesline in Hell.

To the naked eye in the orange dusk the motes of dust are invisible, too fine to even taste. The first pictures look bad and I frantically clean the lens trying to wipe off the water marks. The lens is clean of course. The flash is illuminating dust looking like light bubbles in the picture. I turn off the flash. I will treasure those pictures.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Case You Haven't Noticed....

I haven't been writing here very much. It's a combination- very busy, sometimes long days and reports and projects, other writing (making some headway on the next book) and very intermittent, very limited internet access.

I'm also in a delicate place- this blog was originally a place I could go with some anonymity to write about my world, to try to work out some things on the screen that were hard to work out purely internally. In the last few months, I've felt obligated to post things, to keep writing for you, whoever you are. The internal motivations have been edging towards external- that's not something I need in my world right now.

The things that compel me to write are still happening- they have been significant and frequent, as you would expect in a place this different. But the things I would most like to write about, the OMG WTF just happened? stuff... I can't write about. Both common sense and my contract prohibit it. It's very cool, it just has to stay private for some time.

So, if you read regularly, don't expect a lot of volume for a while.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


This is one of the Twilight Zone posts. There is some weird stuff that goes on in the world and sometimes you just notice it, but sometimes you get a glimpse at a pattern... and sometimes someone gives you a clue.

I'm reading a book- not that unusual. But this one puts forth the premise that the body can sense things that are bad for it (ranging from toxicity to malevolent thoughts to negative people) and one of the body's reactions to that is for the muscles to go weak. It's hitting very high on my BS meter, hence no title and no recommendation in the post.

But...but... there is a phenomenon and you can see it in martial arts and real combat and conflict and a lot of places. It is a basis of some of the 'martial magic' or 'kool-aide' drinking set- you know, the stuff that only works on students who have been trained for it to work or the "no-touch knockouts" that require a detailed explanation before they will work. They don't work on people who don't know they are supposed to pass out. Stuff like that. But there's also another level. It's still a trick, sort of, but the kind of trick or ability or force that you can use on people in real life and sometimes in real combat.

A lot of it feeds into the concept of zanshin. I don't want to explain and quibble over definitions. For my purposes zanshin is an effect of internalized experience. The effect shows itself in a determined focus and it can be sensed by other people.
  • Internalized experience: people who have been through a lot of shit and absorbed it are different than people who haven't.
  • Determined focus- a fuzzy way of saying that they have learned to act decisively and with everything they have and are.
  • All but the most oblivious people can tell who not to fuck with.

One example is the "no touch block" which works pretty reliably, but there are some people it doesn't work on and you can sense who they will be.

Another one is the body hardening techniques that Kris uses and demonstrates. They work pretty well and he can do them moving, which most of the "internal arts masters" I've had the opportunity to work with couldn't. But where he will let big strong people hit him, I notice that there are people he won't invite to test it. I'm not even sure that he is aware of it, but they fall into a certain pattern- big is fine. Strong is fine. Multiple black belts are fine- but the cold vicious and crazy, even when they are acting nice don't get the chance.

I have made people feel weak just by standing close to them and smiling. Grappled with people much bigger and stronger who couldn't seem to apply any of their strength.

I said this was twilight zone stuff, so here goes: the book speculates (actually states, unequivocally) that dangerous and toxic substances and even thoughts cause an immediate and measurable muscle weakness.

What if a person can develope the zanshin, the presence, to cause this weakness at will in another human being? (Or to strengthen them, it's all the same) What if these demonstrations of toughness are actually an ability to weaken someone else by becoming an elemental danger?

Don't get hung up on it. Any post that mentions the twilight zone is for wild speculation. So much could be explained by this- all the victims that said the attacker looked at them and they couldn't move; all the victims who struggled instead of fought. How fear makes you stronger most times, but in some interpersonal conflicts seem to make you weaker. My success at some stuff that, crunching the numbers, I had no right to walk out of (like today. Cripes.)

I've felt that weakness and know that if you fight anyway, you can recover. The weakness is an illusion that falls away if you can survive long enough to do it. Does it relate to permission? Does the human animal sense that this person is higher in the monkey hierarchy (read more zanshin) and it would upset the tribe to win?

This is at best a half-formed thought, but that's why I blog, to poke at stuff outside the narrow confines of a single brain.