Something to contemplate

 

What is the purpose of our existence? Are we just the latest in a long line of organisms to have mastery over the Earth? Do we even matter?

Evolutionary timeline:

The universe, based upon the recession of distant galaxies, is approximately 13.8 billion (13,800,000,000) years old. Our solar system and the Earth, 4.57 billion years old.

Earliest life (single cell) on Earth, 4.25 bya.

Multi-cellular (cyanobacteria-like) life began 3.0 to 3.5 bya.

Ozone layer develops 600 mya.

Earliest known animal footprints on land – 530 mya.

Earliest dinosaurs – 225 mya.

Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, wiping out most dinosaurs – 66 mya. This event gives rise to the dominance of mammals.

First hominins – 4 t0 13 mya. The divergence of the Pan (chimpanzee) and the Homo (human) occurred during this time. The Hominini was the last common ancestor of both the Pan and Homo lines.

Homo Habilis (Africa) – 2.6 mya. Habilis are thought to be the first Homo to use tools (2.3 mya).

Homo antecessor (Spain)- 1.2 mya

Homoheidelbergensis (Europe, Africa, and China) – 600 kya

Neanderthals (Europe and Western Asia) and Denisovans (Russia) – 350 kya to 28 kya

Anatomically modern humans appear in Africa – 250 kya to present.

The genetic ‘bottle-neck’ – 70 to 90 kya. Homo sapiens numbered very few and we almost went extinct.

Modern humans start to migrate out of Africa.

 

Ok, that was quite a lot to digest without losing interest. But, consider this; at what point did we gain a soul, if we do in fact have souls? When did we develop consciousness? When did we ‘leave the safety of trees’ and venture out as ‘land walkers’?

In the evolutionary timeline presented above, modern humans have been walking the Earth 250,000 years or so. We’ve taken many baby steps as a species. In the last 130+ years, we’ve accelerated those steps… going from the invention of the car to a man-made probe entering interstellar space.

Are we alone? Are there other life forms in the universe? Are we unique? With trillions upon trillions of planets out there in billions of galaxies, it’s doubtful we’ll ever know for sure. Even if we were to detect life in a nearby solar system (Alpha Centauri), it’s still 4.3 light years away. The fastest outward-bound spacecraft (Voyager 1), has covered 1/600 of a light year since it’s launch 30 years ago. That means that a trip to Alpha Centauri would last 80,000 years. Would those life forms still exist once we’ve arrived?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2017 American Mensa AG! FireHouse Special!

This year’s American Mensa AG is was held in Hollywood, Florida at the beautiful Diplomat Beach Resort. With nearly a thousand Mensans worldwide registered to attend this event by March, it was certainly shaping up to be a large party!

Within the Mensa organization is a FaceBook group called American Mensa FireHouse (1,575 members strong). Members of the FireHouse are known affectionately as “FireHosers”. Mensans from all over the world are welcome to join the FireHouse. Here are a few of the pics from this year’s annual gathering featuring FireHouse members.

The FireHouse!

 

Angie and Kash

 

Bethany and Erin

 

Cat

 

Diann and Kash

 

Erin and Bjorn

 

Erin

 

The Boob Court

 

In memory of Marc Lederman

 

Johnnelle and Erin

 

Kash and LaRae (Mensa Chair… go LaRea!)

 

Lily and Erin

 

Jam session (Chad on the guitar and Seongtaek at the piano)

 

Seongtaek playing

Laura and Taz

 

Therese Erin and 杨冰阳 (Aya)

 

 杨冰阳 (Aya) ready for a swim!

Johnnelle

Laura and Kash

Group pic!

Johnnelle and Bethany

Jason with Penn and Teller (Keynote Speakers)

Jennifer with Penn and Teller

Jimmy, Taz, and Jason

Michael

Penn and Teller

Bjorn

Touchy subject…

 

Gala dinner

 

Erin and Ellen

 

Erin and Ellen

 

Erin and Harriet

 

Erin and Kelli

 

Erin, Michael, and Johnelle

 

Kash and Kurt

 

Laura, 杨冰阳 (Aya), and Bjorn

The Airing of Grievances 2017

 

Andre hard at work

 

FireHosers 2017

 

Laura and Rob

 

Laura and Tony

Thierrion and Bethany

Seongtaek and Bethany

Timmy and Stacey (Who says you can’t pick your friend’s nose???)

 

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San Diego Mensa uRGe 2017, aka “Nerd Camp” (26 May – 29 May)

The San Diego Mensa Regional Gathering kicked off today at 3 pm and runs through Monday, ending at 1 pm. The event is being held this year in Palm Springs, California.

The event theme this year is “Midnight at the Oasis”

Mensans from all walks of life will be in attendance. We have lawyers, authors, Armed Service members (current and retired), professors, artists, physicists, engineers, IT professionals, and even a sitting judge!

 

Movies being shown are:

Friday evening – Hidden Figures

Sunday evening – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Here are a couple of items that may be useful…

RGlineup2017 Agenda for 2017 San Diego Regional Gathering

Agenda for 2017 San Diego Regional Gathering

 

I’ll post stories and pictures, time permitting, as the RG unfolds.

FRIDAY – 26th

Registration

Margie and Dave Bowles manning the registration area.

 

Lots of fun Friday! Following registration, the day was filled with the laughter of old friends and new alike. Card and board games were enjoyed by many and puzzles were pieced together into the wee hours of the morning.

 

SATURDAY – 27th

Activities and conferences!

Very interesting seminar given by H. Stanley Jones covering the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator  (MBTI). Upon completion of the MBTI worksheet and further analysis,  Mr. Jones will personally email the results to seminar attendees.

 

Bob Tutleman’s Sing-a-long!

Really enjoyed Bob Tutleman’s Sing-a-long. As always, it was a great performance! Thanks, Bob!

The Mensa Song – https://youtu.be/GQYBKeRTwEM

 

Again, more games! Games are a big part of AGs and RGs!

 

Sunday – 28th

The day was filled with games and shared fun, discussions, and testing applicants for Mensa. RGs and AGs are a time to make new friends. The American Mensa Firehouse was well represented! I personally counted 9 members in attendance. The ‘award’ for the farthest traveling Mensan in attendance goes to… Laura Ingram, who flew in all the way from Indonesia! Congrats!

Two Firehouse members are shown below.

Carole Lane (L) and Laura Ingram (R)

Later in the evening, several of us Mensans went to Toucan’s Tiki Lounge to see the “Drag Revue”. If you have to ask…

Anyway… there has to be a punch line in there some where… “10 geniuses walk into a gay bar…”  Yeah, I need to work on that one.

Monday – 29th

The end has come, as all things must. Time to say our goodbyes and fond farewells. Until we meet again…

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Sometimes a Blog Post Writes Itself…

 

Recently, I was talking to a co-worker about a picture I had run across on FaceBook.

He thought it was funny and asked, ‘Are all of you guys crazy?’

‘No’, I replied but then went on to expand upon my answer. I explained that we’re pretty much like everyone else, but a little more intense.

‘What do you mean?’ he asked.

‘Well, a lot of us are very knowledgeable in very specific areas… more so than the average person. We tend to research things that we’re curious about, in order to learn or gain a better understanding about a subject matter. And many of us are quite passionate about our points-of-view. Sometimes that passion is mistaken for being crazy. But that’s not to say some of us aren’t ‘touched in the head’, I said smiling.

‘So, some of you are mentally unstable?’ he prodded.

I did my best to answer… ‘Of course! It just stands to reason that a certain percentage of any population will have problems… whether it’s mental illness, specific health issues, and so on and so forth. I’ve read articles that attribute a higher instance of mental illness to highly intelligent people and I’ve read articles that say there’s no correlation between the two. I think it has a lot to do with how people identify and deal with potential mental health problems. That’s true for the super smart people and those who aren’t.’

‘Alright. Answer me this. Looking at the scale, where are you? he asked.

‘Oh, dude… you really don’t want to know!’ I remarked, laughing… and walked away.

 

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Misfit Toys

I’ve struggled with depression over the course of my life. There, I said it.

Depression was something I had always regarded as a sign of being mentally weak. To counteract my depression, I pushed through it by ignoring the emptiness… the despair… and tried to replace those feelings with a series of intimate relationships. The net result, aside from the countless notches on my headboard, was unhappiness. But I didn’t really have great coping skills in my youth either.

Today, it’s much different. I’ve learned to cope with depression in other ways. I’ve tried my hand at writing, a little sculpting/drawing, and devoting more time to my lifelong interest in learning more about world history. I find that filling my time with activities tends to limit the frequency and intensity of my bouts with depression. But there’s also a big downside to this approach. I usually get less than 4 hours of sleep a day… sometimes it’s as little as an hour. That can only go on so long before my body is exhausted. At some point I have to crash… sleeping for many hours at a time, trying to ‘catch up’. It cannot be good for my overall health.

It’s common for people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives to seek out religion. It’s not that I lack spirituality as much as it is not believing in organized religion to begin with. Religion provides people with a sense of belonging, comfort in times of crisis, hope for a better future, and reward in an afterlife. Not being a religious person, and not believing in an afterlife, there’s really no reason for me to adhere to any sort of moral compass or by societal standards… aside from creating pleasant living conditions for myself and my family. Let’s face it. The reality is that in order for many of us to be successful in life, we must adhere to certain standards, societal and otherwise.

Does that mean I can do anything I damn well please without concern for any repercussions? Absolutely not. I find that I’m still guided by a strong sense of what I consider right and wrong… good versus evil… and an obligation to others who depend upon me in the context of a family member, friend, or co-worker.

But, I do find myself wondering at times why any of it matters? I don’t believe in a god or gods. And if there aren’t any gods, then the concept of good and evil or right and wrong, are really just social constructs. All of it is then relative. The obligations that I feel towards others is, more or less, limited to my immediate family and close friends. And, as a very introverted person, my circle of friends is quite small.

I’ve reached a point in my life that I’m no longer too concerned in how others view me on a personal or professional basis with the exception of my family and close friends. Sure, I want people to like me but I won’t work for their approval. It either exists or it doesn’t. A sense of complacency now defines that part of my life.

That complacency, in conjunction with intervals of moderate/severe depression, have given me periods when I experience a complete lack of passion for life… a lack of empathy towards my fellow man… and that scares me. I know it isn’t healthy. Being the type of person that I am, I analyze myself constantly… my goals, my beliefs, and my obligations. But in the midst of an episode of depression, I wonder again… ‘why any of it matters?’

 

 

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Extraverted or Introverted Preference

 

Extraverted and Introverted are opposite preferences. A person’s natural tendency toward one will be stronger than the other.

Extraverted (E)

Extraversion is a preference to focus on the world outside the self. Extraverts enjoy social interactions and tend to be enthusiastic, verbal, assertive, and animated. They enjoy large social gatherings, such as parties and any kind of group activity. Extraverts are likely to enjoy time spent with people and find themselves energized by social interaction.

Extravert Characteristics

  • Gregarious
  • Assertive
  • Talkative
  • Social/outgoing
  • Likes groups, parties, etc.
  • Energized by interaction
  • Expressive & enthusiastic
  • Volunteers personal information
  • Distractable
  • Has many friends
  • Easy to approach

Extraverted Personality Types

  or  
Introverted (I)

Introversion is a preference to focus on the world inside the self. Introverts tend to be quiet, peaceful and deliberate and are not attracted to social interactions. They prefer activities they can do alone or with one other close friend, activities such as reading, writing, thinking, and inventing. Introverts find social gatherings draining.

Introvert Characteristics

  • Energized by time alone
  • Private
  • Keeps to self
  • Quiet
  • Deliberate
  • Internally aware
  • Fewer friends
  • Prefer smaller groups
  • Independent
  • Not socially inclined
  • Enjoys solitude
  • Thinks before speaking

Introverted Personality Types

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Cool video! Enjoy!

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How Some Fellow Mensans View Mentioning IQ…

Obviously I’m not alone in my ongoing dilemma as to when, if at all, to mention my membership in Mensa. It always felt a bit awkward, and maybe I dreaded the possibility, that someone would think me pretentious or an arrogant ass for even mentioning the fact. When is it OK to let it be known? Should you even put it on your resume? If so, does that put you in ‘bad light’ in the eyes of a potential employer? If you don’t reference it on your resume, could you possibly be sabotaging your chances of securing a job that requires logical reasoning and high intelligence? Just where do you draw the line? And, if you were to put it on your resume, or bring it up during the interview process, just how would you do so?

Try looking at it from a different perspective. Let’s say you’re applying for a job that receives numerous applicants for the same type of job. Your degree is probably no different from dozens of others being considered. What sets your resume apart from all the others? The fact that you may have a Masters instead of Bachelors? Or, a Doctorate instead of a Masters? What about if your degree is from a prestigious university and not a local community or state college?  As an applicant, wouldn’t you want to stress where you were educated and the level of your education? And maybe, if you are just entering the job market, you’d want to point out your GPA or making the Dean’s List? Aren’t these the things a potential employer would want to know? I mean, if I’m looking to hire the best qualified applicants for a position, wouldn’t I then want the most ‘bang’ for my buck, so to speak? The answer should be obvious, right?

Why is it considered ‘bad form’ to mention your IQ? Are professional athletes ridiculed for being good at what they do? When was the last time someone said “Hey, you don’t have to excel at so-and-so! Show-off!” to an MLB, NFL, NBA player or other professional athlete? Athletes are highly regarded in their particular sport… so why aren’t highly intelligent people viewed in a similar light?

Below are a few comments gleaned from a recent discussion among fellow Mensans on a private FaceBook thread. Even among ourselves, we struggle with answering this question. The question asked was “Is a Mensa membership something to be proud of?”

Response #1: The profoundly stupid can do things we can not do… This guy I work with amazes me with his stupidity every day… But he should be ashamed in the same way I am proud … But he is way too stupid to realize he is stupid.

Response #2: It’s something I’m proud about – not to an obscene level, but I am proud of my brains just as much as I am proud of my good singing voice. It’s no better or worse than other people are proud of their good looks or ability to play sports well (neither of which I can claim).

Response #3: We have a right to be proud of whatever it is we are good at doing – be it something physical, mental, whatever. There is nothing wrong with that.

Response #4: It just sucks because saying you’re proud of doing a sport is cool but once you bring up intelligence you’re immediately seen has being condescending

Response #5: Perhaps – but that’s their problem. Someone feeling that I am condescending by mentioning I am proud and happy to be a Mensan makes me sad. I don’t feel it’s condescending when someone tells me they are a great dancer just because I have two left feet and dance like a drunken hippo.

Response #6: The question was – is Mensa Membership something to be proud about. And I think someone can be as proud of their innate intelligence as someone can be about any other innate ability. Sure – not every Mensa member lives up to their complete potential. I know I don’t. But I think that being smart enough to qualify is something that I can be proud about.

Response #7: I disagree that qualifying for Mensa is innate. If Usain Bolt never left his couch and ate Big Macs nine times a day, his potential would be the same but his actual time in the 100 meters would be sometime next Tuesday. Standardized tests show a significant training effect and a love of reading and learning is a common trait among our cohort. So, yes, most of us worked to get this smart, and could be proud of it. However, it is often more politic not to be too loud about our memberships because no one likes a smarty pants.

Response #8: I remember that my best test was my GREs, where I scored 2200+. I showed my scores to all my profs, and the first words out of my chemistry professor was, “I didn’t think you were that smart.”

Response #9 (my personal favorite): People will judge you negatively for being intelligent.

Mostly, I think, because they feel threatened.

Because intelligence is not immediately obvious–the way other characteristics can be.

Virtually no one will feel bad about not being a professional athlete. So they can laud that ability in others without feeling personally inferior.

No one, in my experience, thinks they aren’t smart. Until the person they least expect turns out to be demonstrably more intelligent than they are. They don’t expect it, and thus feel threatened. So, to mitigate that feeling, they react negatively.

You should be proud of your intelligence. No one should be made to feel bad about themselves because they’re a few standard deviations above normal.

______________________________________________________________

So, let me ask a question. Should it be considered bad form to mention your membership in an high IQ society?

If you’re currently employed and happy in your job, how do you think your boss would react to finding out you were a Mensan? Do you think that could be a roadblock to your advancing within the company? Would your boss and fellow co-workers likely feel threatened?

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Machinist training

Where to start? This is such a broad subject matter and no one answer will truly fit all situations.

I’ve been in the San Diego area for over 17 years. In that time, I’ve encountered very few machinists who have had formal training of any kind. And yes, taking a course or two at a local community college, memorizing a few G codes and M codes, isn’t considered formal training in my book. Yet, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve come across those guys and who will call themselves ‘machinists’. It’s quite disheartening. The guys with whom I have come into contact with, and whom have had a formal machining education, can be counted on one hand.

Most shops employ guys who have learned the trade ‘on the job’, so to speak. There’s nothing wrong with learning the trade in that manner, if they’re employed in a small shop setting. The problem with an informal training readily becomes apparent in a larger production setting. Why? The reason is simple… A machinist with formal training approaches a job in a logical way. They start with ‘A’, followed by ‘B’, and so on. An informally trained machinist will tend to set up a job the way he was taught by another informally trained machinist. There’s no consistency or rigid method in which to follow, resulting in questionable setups and longer setup times. A machinist worth his salt, will want to tear down a setup that he has no confidence in, and start over the process.

Formal training usually includes learning the basics of manual machining before ‘stepping up’ into CNC machining. The ‘basics’ can include using dividing heads, machining gears on a horizontal mill, and making your own custom tooling for a job. A machinist, in a trade school setting, will learn how to approach a job in terms of planning the sequences of operation. These skills are considered fundamental to a well-rounded machinist. After mastering these basic skills, a machinist is better able to understand the techniques and planned sequence of events that go into a successful setup.

I’m an avid believer that a competent and successful shop is staffed by formally trained machinists.

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How life on Earth started…

This is a wonderfully informative and well done video explaining the formation of Earth and how life here began. Enjoy!

 

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