Scorpion Bowl Drink

I assume the “bowl” means “bowl you over”. Lol. This is from

2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Rum, dark
2 oz. Rum, overproof/151 proof
2 oz. Rum, white
2 oz. Vodka
2 oz. Grenadine
4 oz. Orange Juice
4 oz. Pineapple Juice

Mixing Instructions

Fill pitcher with about 10 oz. of ice. Add liqueurs. Mix in juice, top with grenadine and then stir well. Makes enough for 2-5 people.

I got this from a politic blog, of all places!

San Luis Valley Water

We have four major rivers flowing out of our state: The Platte, Arkansas, Colorado, and Rio Grande. All of them have “compacts”, which are multistate agreements, as to the flow which must be in the river at the state line. Colorado has a tendency to overdraw water until someone files a lawsuit. Then the state shuts down wells in response. That gets messy for the farmers who lose their wells after all the irrigation investment.

This valley is just over the Sangres from us but to get in the Valley, we have to go up to Salida then turn south or go down to Walsenburg and turn west.

Here are the Sangres on our side.

This is in April of 2007.

This is the western side of the Sangres.

This was taken in the Fall of 2008 but normally less snow falls on this side of the mountains than the eastern side. The pastures are filled with Rabbit Brush and Sage Brush.

This Valley only gets about 8″ of rain making it a true desert. And the base of the valley is largely sand and gravel washed down from the surrounding mountains. Deep gravel. If the valley were emptied of gravel, the resulting canyon would be 9000′ deep with the bottom in places, near sea level. The north end of the valley is hydraulically independent of the lower part due to the geology. The whole San Luis Valley is a consequence of the Rio Grande Rift.

As you can see on the larger map, there is much center pivot irrigation in the Valley. Which is the problem.

Water worries in Colorado’s San Luis Valley come to surface, an article in the Denver Post.

SAN PABLO — Water here is so scarce that farmers habitually gaze up at the mountains surrounding their valley — where overpumping from aquifers may force 80,000 irrigated acres out of production.

As Rose Medina traversed her ancestral lands last week, scanning the Sangre de Cristos for the promise of a strong spring runoff, she saw barely a dusting of snow.

“Looks like we’ll need more,” Medina said.

Big spring snow could send water coursing down Culebra Creek and into her “lindero” boundaries — headgates controlled by an elected “mayordomo” steward — allowing growth of hay for her 16 cows and quenching her apple, plum and cherry trees. The ancient Moorish water-sharing methods adapted 400 years ago in southern Colorado ensure that, even in dry years, small family farmers survive.

But survival is far from ensured across the broader San Luis Valley, where leaders in an area that’s already among the poorest in the state are bracing for a major economic hit.

“Agriculture alone cannot sustain the economy of the San Luis Valley,” Colorado agriculture commissioner John Salazar recently told residents.

Unlike Medina’s 40-acre farm and others that rely on only surface water, the commercial agriculture that built up the valley is large-scale and competitive, and relies on center-pivot irrigation devices that pump heavily from underground aquifers. Commercial production of potatoes and hay — using 6,000 wells and 2,700 center-pivots to irrigate 120-acre crop circles — exploded after the 1950s.

The pumping has depleted aquifers by more than 1 million acre-feet since 1976 and now is affecting surface streams. One acre-foot approximately serves the needs of two families of four for a year.

By May, center-pivot farmers must activate a plan to reduce the water pulled from the aquifer by about 30,000 acre-feet a year.

“They’ve got to start to restore it,” state engineer Dick Wolfe said.

To avoid state shutdowns of wells — as happened in 2009 in northeastern Colorado — commercial farmers propose to pay to pump or purchase new surface-water rights and use these to offset pumping from aquifers.

But the time has come for commercial farms “to pay for the impacts they are causing to the river,” said Steve Vandiver, manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and the leader of efforts to find water to replace water pumped from wells.

Rio Grande County Commissioner Karla Shriver, who in the 1990s led opposition to a Canadian developer’s push to plumb the valley’s deep aquifers and export water to booming Front Range suburbs, said mining jobs must make a comeback to help cushion the loss of irrigated acres.

Meanwhile, small-scale farmers like Medina, who hold long-established rights to surface water, are relatively unaffected and already have other sources of income. She works as a teaching assistant.

She counts only on snowpack to keep creek water flowing into gravity-based “acequia” ditches.

The communal People’s Ditch system in San Pablo, San Luis and neighboring Spanish land-grant communities, which dates to 1852, increasingly serves as a model of prudent agriculture. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar calls it “a perfect example of an important part of history that needs to be preserved.”

We have a saying in Colorado, “Whiskey is for drinkin’; water is for fightin'”. So on we go.

CMEs — Supplemental

This appeared in the Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs. I guess every military facility in that county (4 major) monitors CMEs!

Military keeps a wary eye on stormy sun
January 28, 2012 11:40 AM

Airplanes avoided the Earth’s poles. Swedes reveled in brilliant vistas of green and red that danced across the northern skies. Residents in Colorado Springs mostly went about their normal lives, except for airmen who watched for trouble in orbit.

A fiery explosion 93 million miles Earth caused all of this.

Forecasters warn that it might be a mild taste of things to come.

The sun awakened from its slumber last week, signaling the start of yet another radiation-hurling, satellite-rattling period of solar storms known as the “solar maximum.”

Though the initial interstellar punch of this storm was mild, astronomers and military officials warn the worst could be on the way.

“Everybody kind of has to be on their toes,” said Bryan DeBates, director of education for the Space Foundation in Colorado Springs.

Astronomers expect solar activity to peak in 2013, during a particularly active stretch of the sun’s 11-year cycle.

When that happens weather satellites, airplane communications, energy grids and the global positioning devices could be affected.

But predicting storms on the sun, and the damage they’ll cause, isn’t easy.

“We have a hard time predicting the weather in Colorado the way it is,” DeBates said. “Trying to predict this kind of thing on the sun is even more difficult.”

The latest storm began Jan. 22 on the sun’s northern hemisphere, where a massive explosion hurled a part of the sun’s corona into space.

Scientists on Earth detected it eight minutes later, when the first electrons — atomic particles — hit the earth. Within minutes, protons began bombarding the planet.

Those protons can damage satellite software and solar panels, said Terry Onsager, a physicist with the Space Weather Prediction Center, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The electrons and protons were the most powerful part of the storm, Onsager said. The storm registered as a three making it the strongest storm since October 2003.

But the most damaging part of the storm — the geomagnetic waves — appeared to pass north of the Earth.

“It was a glancing blow, this last storm,” Onsager said. “It was certainly a noticeable affect … but it was not a major storm.”

Those waves of ionized solar wind usually arrive a few days after the initial explosion, often wreaking havoc with the earth’s magnetic fields and ionosphere.

Satellites can be damaged or disoriented when the ionosphere’s temperature and density changes, said Geoff McHarg, director of the Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center at the Air Force Academy.

Those charged ions also can cause outages across electrical grids as they ripple across the Earth. It occasionally causes “bubbles” in the ionosphere that disrupt GPS signals — similar to how bubbles distort the view into a hot tub.

None of those problems were reported this past week.

The military satellites commanded at Schriever Air Force Base appeared unaffected.
The 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base also appeared to keep track of the more than 22,000 satellites and pieces of space junk orbiting earth — unlike what happened in 1989, when the base lost 18 percent of the space junk due to solar interference.

Airplanes, though, were told to avoid flying over the north and south poles due the possibility of navigation problems.

Some people might be wishing for more temperamental behavior from the sun in the coming year.

People in Sweden were treated to a beautiful side effect of such storms: The aurora borealis, which left green and red streaks across the sky this past week. The stronger the storm, the farther south the northern lights tend to appear.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Fiber Optic Project: Complete

The project was completed about mid-January. I have no way of knowing if it has been “lit” yet since our phone service has not been affected.

I am impressed with the professionalism the contractor showed. I hope they got adequately compensated for all the extra effort this took! Road Gulch Road is actually in better shape than before the project since some embankments were cut back, improving driver visibility on some curves, not to mention a wider north shoulder.

The entire project was almost 6 miles in length with an elevation drop of 600 feet.

This is the little building where all the phone lines in our neighborhood are terminated; I usually refer to it as the “phone booth”. I once asked a phone worker if I could look inside but he refused. 😦

The fiberoptic line is junctioned in the new terminal box in the right foreground. The county road the cable follows is in the middleground behind the far phone terminal box and the stop sign. The cable goes left along the other side of the road.

When they began, a horizontal boring machine inserted fiberoptic duct under the county road but not all the way to the phone booth. Another hole was later dug across the road and the duct cut off (It extended out into the pasture on the other side of the fence.). The cable was shoved into it after a backhoe trenched from the road to the new junction box then the fiberoptic cable was manually pulled through the duct under the road, laid in the trench, and buried.

I have some scenes from the project but not in any order due to my being “under the weather” this year.

For part of the project, they had to bring The Hammer up from the lower part of the project.

This was just before New Years. I asked if they were gonna finish the project before the end of the year and the “road guard” laughed they would be lucky to finish this part by then! It appeared they used The Hammer while still on the trailer so the pavement would not be damaged. It left its mark along the road.

This is where they stopped for 2011. This is not very far down the hill.

For 2012, they added this tool: a larger backhoe for where the dozers can’t go.

They did restore driveways that they plowed.

Those dozers must have been right against this fence as they passed by!

This is at the cattle guard. The dozers are done and are waiting for a ride home.

This is just above the end and I never did figure out why these were laying on the hill. They later disappeared and no junction box appeared here.

Now that it is done, driving this way is kinda boring again!

Man Eats Food Only Advertised on TV, Becomes Hormonal

While I question use of the word “hormonal” in this article (I would have chosen “lethargic”.), the results are not surprising.

From treehugger:

Sit through any prime-time television show, televised sporting event, or even cartoon and you’re sure to see plenty of commercials for food. And you’ve undoubtedly noticed that this food runs the gamut from fast food pizza and burgers, to snack foods, to sugary breakfast fare. They are really “edible food-like substances,” as Michael Pollan would say.

What would a month of living solely on these TV commercial foods look like? And how would you feel at the end of it?

Tom Lamont, a writer for The Observer, decided to give it a try. For one month, he could only purchase and eat those foods he’d seen advertised on television. As we all well know, this means processed, sugary, salty, fatty food. They don’t advertise Brussels sprouts on television. No bulk whole grains. No pastured meat. Only those products that have a large advertising budget behind them.

Basically, by the time the month was up, Lamont felt like a sluggish, cranky mess. Surprisingly, he didn’t gain any weight, but that could be at least partially because he got so tired of processed foods that he just didn’t eat as much after a while.

Interesting details in the original article, especially how ONE non-junk meal (His girlfriend made him cheat!) made him feel better. Briefly.

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)

What a week for solar activity. TWO large CMEs were hurled at the Earth. This is very unusual. During solar activity maximums, such as we have now, there are about 3/week but rarely aimed at the Earth.

These were not record busters by any means but enough to alter the Earth’s magnetosphere. And being only two days apart, the second one hit while the effects of the first one was still being felt.

#1 “launched” on the 19th and arrived the 22nd. From SpaceWeather for that day:

Arriving a little later than expected, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetic field at 0617 UT on Jan. 22nd. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the impact strongly compressed Earth’s magnetic field and briefly exposed satellites in geosynchronous orbit to solar wind plasma. Shifting lines of magnetic force induced strong ground currents in Norway

This got my attention! We use for our internet access via a satellite 22,000 miles away. was bought by EchoStar in 2011 and they have a “fleet” of 15 satellites. If the CME damages “our” satellite, we will lose internet access until it is either repaired or a technician re-aims us to another satellite.

We saw little effect on our internet or TV reception (Dish Network, also by satellite).

The second CME hit on the 24th; from SpaceWeather:

As expected, a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field on Jan. 24th at approximately 1500 UT (10 am EST). The impact produced a G1-class geomagnetic storm and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle.

It usually takes a week fro the magnetoshere to recover so this one-two punch had more effect than either alone.

A view from Sweden.

And even an agency in Colorado even had a role to play.

It was a big day at the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder because the scientists there once again nailed a forecast, accurately predicting not only the arrival time of the big plasma ball, give or take 30 minutes, but also the relatively modest impact.

Lots more at the Denver Post.

More on historical big CMEs from these sources:

Thursday, September 1, 1859, a 500 year event

March 13, 1989 which caused the Canadian power outage.

My Specialist Ophthalmologist Appointment

I have two ophthalmologists, my regular one in Cañon City and one who is specifically for my macular degeneration in Pueblo. For these appointments, Donna comes along as my designated driver to get home.

This one was the best yet: no Flourescein Angiogram; no eye treatment. So I was soon good to go with “eyes wide open”! I was very dilated so Donna still had to drive.

As I waited for her to go potty, a series of emergency vehicles went screaming by: an ambulance followed closely by a police car went past the end of our street then turned onto the perimeter road to go behind the two medical buildings to the east. Soon a fire truck joined them with two police cars. As we left the parking lot, another police car came down the street but non-emergent. This was a total of six responding units. They all disappeared behind the two big buildings, neither of which have any kind of medical care facility, just offices and labs.

Donna didn’t wanna go see! And there was nothing in the news about this run.

Then we went to Hobby Lobby for Donna to shop.

My Urologist Visit

On Jan 11, I went to see my Urologist in Pueblo. A took him the copy of the CD of my CATScan in the ER. Donna went with but was tired so she slept in the Escape while I had fun.

I got my shots of Firmagon, which were painless. So I have two lumps on my belly (my depots) which became tender to pressure and itch. The doctor somehow sited them perfectly so that when I press against the kitchen counter, I back right off! Doc told me these two shots were 120mg each but my next one will be only 80 mg. It is NOT oil based but water based; the subcutaneous siting inhibits the uptake so it lasts a month.

He had someone set up the CD of my innards while he shot me. After I was dressed, he asked me out to look at it with him. He pointed out the “mass” in my bladder which was more like a gray shadow and showed me the small stone hanging in my kidney. Then he casually asked me if it were OK to take a look in my bladder while I was there. I agreed since Donna was sleeping.

It was interesting how the doctor’s demeanor changed. He was less assured about the cancer treatment, not in the sense he seemed incompetent but more like he could not assure me the injections would cure me. But once we got into regular urology stuff, he was The Doctor! (My GP later explained that is common since cancer is generally incurable and “life extension” is not what doctors wanna do. He didn’t want to take over my injections!)

I returned to the waiting room while they worked me in for another exam. Which didn’t take long. Then I was taken to a different exam room and told to lower my pants.

[Lurid details skipped]

After his looking around, he connected the scope to a TV thingy so I could see. He explained my bladder shows signs of damage, presumably from my radiation therapy; the damage made the walls look like tiles, not smooth as they should be. There was no sign of the mysterious shadow thing. My prostate looks battered and pink.

It took me three days to get over this exam! But it went well and he will get me ultrasounded in the near future. Unless I develop kidney pain if the “cloud” blocks my ureter.

Marriage vs Cohabitation

Cohabitating couples happier, have better self-esteem than married counterparts

A new study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family reveals that married couples experience few advantages for psychological well-being, health, or social ties compared to unmarried couples who live together. While both marriage and cohabitation provide benefits over being single, these reduce over time following a honeymoon period.

. . .

Previous research has sought to prove a link between marriage and well-being, but many studies compared marriage to being single, or compared marriages and cohabitations at a single point in time.

This study compares marriage to cohabitation while using a fixed-effects approach that focuses on what changes when single men and women move into marriage or cohabitation and the extent to which any effects of marriage and cohabitation persist over time.

Dr Musick drew a study sample from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) of 2,737 single men and women, 896 of whom married or moved in with a partner over the course of 6 years. The study focused on key areas of well-being, considering questions on happiness, levels of depression, health, and social ties.

The results showed a spike in well-being immediately following both marriage and cohabitation as couples experienced a honeymoon period with higher levels of happiness and fewer depressive symptoms compared to singles. However, these advantages were short lived.

Marriage and cohabitation both resulted in less contact with parents and friends compared to remaining single – and these effects appeared to persist over time.

“We found that differences between marriage and cohabitation tend to be small and dissipate after a honeymoon period. Also while married couples experienced health gains – likely linked to the formal benefits of marriage such as shared healthcare plans – cohabiting couples experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem. For some, cohabitation may come with fewer unwanted obligations than marriage and allow for more flexibility, autonomy, and personal growth” said Musick.

“Compared to most industrial countries America continues to value marriage above other family forms,” concluded Musick. “However our research shows that marriage is by no means unique in promoting well-being and that other forms of romantic relationships can provide many of the same benefits.”

Cold Morning Cloud

I went out to do my snow measurements the other morning and this cloud lay along the side of Deer Mountain, the mountain to the south of us.

The air under it was clear (and cold!). No wind. This is very rare since the cold air flows off the mountain across our place. Usually the inversion layer lies in the flatlands below us to the north.

Arigato From Japan

About the big ‘quake.

Al-Qaeda is Coming to our County — Maybe

I found this, from the Salida paper, amusing:

Fremont County Sheriff Jim Beicker said Federal Bureau of Investigation authorities have alerted him to the possibility al-Qaeda representatives may be watching his county.

At an annual conference of sheriffs in either 2003 or 2004 in Denver, Beicker said he was “singled out” by an agent from the FBI because of inmates housed in the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence who were involved in masterminding the attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

Beicker said the agent told him, “If you don’t think al-Qaeda has looked at your website and your county, you are wrong.”

Bureau officials were addressing issues related to homeland security at the conference, Beicker said.

Al-Qaeda representatives may have looked at Fremont County because they have “access to the World Wide Web,” he added.

The sheriff said he has spoken at length with a number of Fremont and Chaffee County residents who are worried about al-Qaeda potentially planning an attack during the “Over the River” art exhibit planned for August 2014.

Beicker said what he has said during these conversations has been “taken out of context or misunderstood.

“I am not going to lie to you. We have talked about things,” Beicker said.

He said during the conversations he clarified he does “not have any reason to believe there is some terrorist plan for ‘Over the River.'” He added, “You cannot ignore possibilities in a world like ours.

“I am not sounding that alarm. I am merely saying it would be naïve and short-sighted if I did not consider it.”

My ER visit of 2012

I hope this is the only one this year! I started having diverticulosis pain over the weekend and by Tuesday morning, the 3rd, I was in serious pain. I expected to hear from my doctor from the tests last Thursday but, it turns out, they were gonna send me a letter about it since the results were so good. The doctor recommended I go to the Emergency Room so Donna and I saddled up for a trip to Cañon City.

We got our stuff and Donna drove us to the hospital on the north side of Cañon about 3:30. This was the first time I had been out of bed since I ate breakfast. She only got lost once when she turned one block too soon off US50 but found her way back on course! The little ER parking lot was full which didn’t sound promising; the last time I was here was about my ministroke and I was the only patient.

The waiting area was empty so the unit clerk took my vitals and tagged me. Then I went back to the waiting area. For a very few minutes then we moved to an exam room. They really only did two things: ran a bunch of lab tests and did a CATScan.

This is one “slice” of me of the about 200 the machine made of my midsection. Red spots are items of interest except the sections of my hip bones at lower left and right. This is the first time I have sought medical attention for a diverticulitis attack; I usually just reduce my stress level and let it run its course. The red speckles are on a section of my colon where it is inflamed. This attack actually began at the beginning of December so has been a long one.

The report mentions a couple of other things I didn’t expect.

The stuff about my bladder, kidney, and spleen were new to me! I go in for one thing and three more show up! Which will involve both my GP and my urologist who are in different counties from me. In opposite directions, one up the river (Salida) and another down the river (Pueblo).

The ER also did a bunch of blood tests. They were all normal or close. I am so healthy.

So they ended up giving me two scripts for antibiotics: metronidazole 500 MG 4x/day and Ciprofloxcin 750 MG 2X/day also called Cipro..

My Absence

This has not been a good year so far. It has been one medical emergency after another. But now I am “turning the corner” and have a lot to catch up on.

Don’t Mess With us Old People!

This just in from Colorado Springs:

A man was stabbed on Monday evening after he allegedly tried to rob an elderly man in Colorado Springs.

Police say around 6:15 p.m. they were called to the 300 block of East Brookside Street on a report about a dispute between two individuals. An investigation eventually revealed that a suspect tried to rob an elderly victim, after which the victim stabbed the suspect and then called the police, according to officials.

The suspect reportedly suffered non-life-threatening injuries and faces a charge of attempted robbery.

Don’t mess with us old guys; we have less to lose! This is a tough part of town on the south side so I am not surprised someone walking there would be armed!

PTSD — Rebuttal

I was stunned when I read this article, “Should we erase painful memories?”, in Salon magazine. Which is kinda what propranolol seems to do.

The first speculative steps are now being taken in an attempt to develop techniques of what is being called “therapeutic forgetting.” Military veterans suffering from PTSD are currently serving as subjects in research projects on using propranolol to mitigate the effects of wartime trauma. Some veterans’ advocates criticize the project because they see it as a “metaphor” for how the “administration, Defense Department, and Veterans Affairs officials, not to mention many Americans, are approaching the problem of war trauma during the Iraq experience.”

The argument is that terrible combat experiences are “part of a soldier’s life” and are “embedded in our national psyche, too,” and that these treatments reflect an illegitimate wish to forget the pain suffered by war veterans. Tara McKelvey, who researched veterans’ attitudes to the research project, quoted one veteran as disapproving of the project on the grounds that “problems have to be dealt with.” This comment came from a veteran who spends time “helping other veterans deal with their ghosts, and he gives talks to high school and college students about war.” McKelvey’s informant felt that the definition of who he was “comes from remembering the pain and dealing with it — not from trying to forget it.” The assumption here is that treating the pain of war pharmacologically is equivalent to minimizing, discounting, disrespecting and ultimately setting aside altogether the sacrifices made by veterans, and by society itself. People who objected to the possibility of altering emotional memories with drugs were concerned that this amounted to avoiding one’s true problems instead of “dealing” with them. An artificial record of the individual past would by the same token contribute to a skewed collective memory of the costs of war.

WTF? Yeah, let’s remember all the violence, pain, and discomfort of being in a war. Including your getting your ass blown off!

Then I learned this same argument appeared when anesthesia came in general use.

Yet physical anesthetics have some relevant common ground with the prospective memory technologies, and there is a long history of resistance to the idea of physical anesthesia on grounds similar to some of the arguments being mounted here. Skeptics argued that a loss of sensation would disconnect sufferers from a valuable experience (as in childbirth) and from information they needed to have. Before the advent of anesthesia, techniques that seemed to involve an intentional suspension of sensation could trigger alarm on a scale that now seems almost inconceivable.

My reaction is “What a crock!” But the logic is this:

One of the most tenacious themes of 20th-century memory research was the idea that people tormented by the memories of terrible experiences could benefit from remembering them, and from remembering them better. The assumption — broadly indebted to psychoanalysis — was that psychological records of traumatic events often failed to be fully “integrated” into conscious memories. As long as these records remained “dissociated,” the sufferer was compelled to “relive” them instead of benignly remembering them. The more fully and appropriately one remembered terrible events, the more attenuated would be their emotional power.

Oh, yeah! Remembering getting your arm sawed off or the abuse a parent imparts on you is valuable. BS! I have memories I will NEVER explore. I tried it once and only got near them when terror set in. They will stay locked in the basement of my mind.

No wonder I never accepted all that crap Freud espoused. Digging up painful memories does not always heal; it can destroy.

Then there is the legal issues.

In addition to the work with veterans, there have been pilot studies with civilians in emergency rooms. In 2002, psychiatrist Roger Pitman of Harvard took a group of 31 volunteers from the emergency rooms at Massachusetts General Hospital, all people who had suffered some traumatic event, and for 10 days treated some with a placebo and the rest with propranolol [a beta blocker]. Those who received propranolol later had no stressful physical response to reminders of the original trauma, while almost half of the others did. Should those E.R. patients have been worried about the possible legal implications of taking the drug? Could one claim to be as good a witness once one’s memory had been altered by propranolol? And in a civil suit, could the defense argue that less harm had been done, since the plaintiff had avoided much of the emotional damage that an undrugged victim would have suffered? Attorneys did indeed ask about the implications for witness testimony, damages, and more generally, a devaluation of harm to victims of crime. One legal scholar framed this as a choice between protecting memory “authenticity” (a category he used with some skepticism) and “freedom of memory.” Protecting “authenticity” could not be done without sacrificing our freedom to control our own minds, including our acts of recall.

So that brings it down to retribution or forgiveness, IMO. If someone is doing OK without remembering driving into the side of a bus, that seems a better choice. Or maybe we can keep them in torment until after the trial. Dante would love this!

But the mere possibility seems to have threatened an important convention for representing memory in relation to personal identity. These worries draw their force from a deep-seated attachment to two related beliefs: first, that we are, in some ambiguous but important way, the accretion of our life experiences; and second, that those life experiences are perfectly preserved even if our ability to remember them is far from perfect. When Alzheimer’s disease patients lose significant amounts of memory, dismayed friends often say that their very selves have crumbled or faded away and that in some literal way they are “no longer themselves.”

The thought here is not that people believe their memories are perfect — far from it. Common understandings of memory centrally involve the idea that memories are unreliable, fickle and capricious. But there is another belief about memory that has been articulated by many figures in memory research: that in some fundamental way, secreted within us are perfect records of past experiences, even if we might never access them consciously.

I work with Alz patients and watched my Dad slide into his own world. Yeah, he was different but was he no longer my Dad? I didn’t think so; he just recalled things differently. As my teaching about dealing with Alz patients teaches, you don’t argue with them; their reality is REALITY. Kinda like some politicians!

But the mere possibility seems to have threatened an important convention for representing memory in relation to personal identity. These worries draw their force from a deep-seated attachment to two related beliefs: first, that we are, in some ambiguous but important way, the accretion of our life experiences; and second, that those life experiences are perfectly preserved even if our ability to remember them is far from perfect. When Alzheimer’s disease patients lose significant amounts of memory, dismayed friends often say that their very selves have crumbled or faded away and that in some literal way they are “no longer themselves.”

For instance, in the 1830s, during disputes over whether mesmerism could create an altered state of mind in which an individual was entirely incapable of sensation, the editor of a major London medical journal urged his readers to consider such a thing impossible not merely because it was implausible but because it would be an immense moral affront and a threat to one’s personal integrity. “Consider the implications,” he urged his readers: “the teeth could be pulled from one’s head without one’s knowledge.”

The thought here is not that people believe their memories are perfect — far from it. Common understandings of memory centrally involve the idea that memories are unreliable, fickle and capricious. But there is another belief about memory that has been articulated by many figures in memory research: that in some fundamental way, secreted within us are perfect records of past experiences, even if we might never access them consciously.

From the comments:

David Epstein

The concerns voiced in the article stem from a major misunderstanding of what propranolol does and what “emotional memories” are.

“Emotional memories” aren’t memories in the colloquial sense; they’re Pavlovian associations. They’re the panic felt by a battle survivor when a car backfires nearby; they’re the craving felt by an alcoholic when a champagne cork pops.

Propranolol and other reconsolidation-attenuating drugs do NOT touch narrative memories of particular experiences; they only reduce conditioned emotional responses to particular sensory stimuli. It’s a distinction that makes all the difference in the world.


Aunt Messy

I think the propanolol treatment is not only valid, but may become standard over the next few years. When truly traumatic things happen to us, it’s enough to know that it happened and contend with the physical aspect of healing. Being forced to relive the experience for the rest of your life is the antithesis of mental health.

It took me years to be able to step back and look at my life without falling apart. I wasted a lot of time fighting emotional responses to past events.

Answered by kagogo

Did you think it was a complete waste of time? Don’t you think a lot of that contributed to the depth of your character today?

I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know who I would be if those past reactions never happened. Maybe I would be better. But maybe I would be more callous and less wise.

And a bluntly frank reply from Aunt Messy (Go, Messy!) with a codicil by Beans and Greens.

It was a complete and utter waste of time. I hurt people. I destroyed at least three potentially lucrative careers for myself, and I tortured myself with guilt for things that I couldn’t control.

It was twenty years of living, down the shit-hole, and for what? So I could get to a place where I can acknowledge the events without feeling the emotions? What the hell was the point, when I could potentially got to that place WITHOUT almost self-destructing in the process.

That process MADE me callous. I had to become callous to (literally) survive. You’re dreaming in Technicolor if you thing there’s value in what I (and millions of others) were forced to endure just to become a functional adult.

Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 10:57 am

I agree, Aunt Messy. There are memories of utter tragedy I’ve witnessed that I do not need to keep. The world is filled with constant reminders of misery and suffering, gross injustice and cruel irony. Empathetic people will never lack for reasons to care, but having a loved one die miserably in one’s arms? I can easily do without such memories.

I couldn’t have said it better. Our future is worth more than hanging onto the pain of memories.