Archive for January, 2011

Traffic Jams & New Internal Electromechanical Control Systems (Ideas For Motor Vehicles).

January 30th, 2011 No comments

Think with me for a minute;

The Problem: Traffic Jams create human tension; frustration, annoyance, anger, and impatience.

The Bigger Problem: these negative feelings lead to motor vehicle collisions.  

Both the problem and bigger problem, to a large degree, are self-imposed by the human being. While we could make a systemic and societal argument that traffic jams, negative feelings, and motor vehicle collisions is the fault of every person, it is imperative to see life in a utilitarian way; focus on identifying a problem and creating a solution for the greater good thereby enhancing safety and sustaining life.

Back to the problem; traffic jams create negative feelings for a great number of people. Traffic jams annoy people and anger people – creating impatience and impulsivity. This does not always equate to road rage yet it often leads to poor decision-making while on the freeway or any other road.  

The Bigger Problem Con’d – the amplification of these negative feelings incites impulsivity, increases aggressiveness, and most likely jacks up the average velocity of the driver of the vehicle immediately after a traffic jam dissipates or disperses. This means that there is a window of time right after a traffic jam where a certain percentage of the human driving population is more prone to be involved in a motor vehicle collision.

Of course these thoughts regarding traffic jams and motor vehicle collisions shortly after the dissipation or dispersing of a traffic jams begins purely as a subjective intellectual construct (i.e. – I firmly believe that the rate of motor vehicle collisions increases shortly after the dissipation of a traffic jam. I firmly believe this because I am aware that human beings are easily subjected to their own irrationality or easily swayed by their emotions). For example, a greater than average number of drivers will become effected by their affect when their rate of speed is significantly slowed by sheer volume).

This line of reasoning is difficult to objectify though. There are many difficult questions to answer to make this subjective intellectual construct worthwhile.  

Here are some questions that need answering to work toward objectivity in this problem;

1. How many individuals out of 100 are irritated, annoyed, or emotionally swayed by traffic jams?

2. What does a person think when they see a traffic jam dissipating?

3. How many individuals out of a 1,000,000 get into a motor vehicle collision 5-10 (or 10-15) minutes after the dissipation of a traffic jam?

4. What is the feasibility of a vehicle having a new internal system that monitors the length of time a vehicle hovers in a specific range of velocity once below a threshold velocity?

5. If a vehicle were to have such a new type of internal monitoring system, could an additional internal system be installed to control acceleration?

Several questions to consider.

In short, traffic jams irritate people. How many people? We don’t know this statistic yet. When people are irritated or their emotions become unsettled, there is a greater propensity for people to step on the accelerator once there is any sign that a traffic jam has dissipated (even if it hasn’t). Therefore, 2 new internal control systems may need to be installed in motor vehicles to enhance safety and sustain life. One internal control system must monitor the length of time a motor vehicle is moving below a certain speed while on the freeway (i.e. – if a motor vehicle is traveling less than 30mph for more than 10 minutes, it can be assumed that the motor vehicle is part of a traffic jam on a freeway).

If this internal control system becomes activated by these environmental conditions, a 2nd internal control system must in-turn be activated to control acceleration for a determined length of time (i.e. – a person cannot accelerate beyond a certain speed until the other system determines that the motor vehicle is travelling above a certain speed for a certain length of time). After the internal system has determined that you have been driving above a certain speed for a certain length of time, the driver then becomes free to exercise full autonomy behind the wheel.  

Essentially, I am saying that traffic jams pose a serious threat to human safety because of the volatility of human emotion. If a driver’s emotions become too volatile while in a traffic jam, a portion of the driver’s control needs to temporarily be removed (i.e. – driver may not accelerate beyond a certain speed until the internal speed monitoring system has determined that the car has be travelling above a certain velocity for a time interval).

Are there any statisticians out there? Help please…I think this may be a good idea.

I propose 2 new internal (electronic) motor vehicle systems (based on traffic jams and human emotional volatility);

I) Ranges of Speed Motor Vehicle Monitoring System (operates in response to velocity and time).

II) Temporal-Acceleration Threshold Monitoring System (operates by controlling acceleration in response to length of time in traffic jam – as judged by varying velocities and time intervals).

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Every Once In A While, Eat The Warm Cookies: Share Them Too

January 17th, 2011 No comments

Now I am not just referring to those people who have the luxury and privilege of flying 1st class. Warm cookies can be had almost anywhere, particularly at a local confectioner. Warm cookies (ice cream too), however, do tend to be served up when one has the ability to fly 1st class.

But why should a person eat the warm cookies every once in a while? To be honest, the idea sprung out of the fact that some people will refuse to eat the warm cookies while flying 1st class. That is, a small percentage of people will never eat the warm cookies no matter how many times they are served up. Sure, the individual who refuses to eat the warm cookies may well be watching their weight or figure. And maybe a very small percentage of people have a food allergy that prohibits them from eating the warm cookies.

Yet, the title of this entry suggests that even if you are a stubborn old goat that vehemently refuses to eat the warm cookies, you should still decide, every once in a while, to eat the warm cookies. Continuous refusal to eat the warm cookies suggests that you are the type of individual who cannot sacrifice any time to smell the roses or appreciate the view. In other words, you may only experience pleasure in the challenge of the climb. The thrill or enjoyment only comes from the doing; not the being. Being is lame. Or so it would seem if you refuse to eat the warm cookies.

So a person may conclude that eating the warm cookies means you have the ability to enjoy the view – a quality most people seek to see in another.

 It is important also, to appreciate why some people refuse to eat the warm cookies. Failing to appreciate that some people see warm-cookie eating behavior as pure weakness, is simultaneously a failure to acknowledge where some people come from. Not everyone grew up with tile backsplashes and granite counter tops. In fact, almost everybody did not grow up with such lavishness and luxury. Many people had to bear it out tooth, grit, and knuckle before a warm cookie was ever put on their plate. Because of this reality, you could postulate that some people, because of their beginnings, probably loathe the sight of a warm cookie (overconsumption of warm cookies only adds up to the prospects of more hard times).

Granite countertops of not, every once in a while you should eat the warm cookies. Enjoy the view. Smell the roses. Roast the beef. Cut the cheese. Drink the drink.

In an age where everyone talks and buzzes about sharing, be a role model and start with yourself; share your warm cookies – even if you had to work harder for them. And every time you feel bitter and resentful toward those who did not have to work as hard as you did for your warm cookies, ask yourself this very powerful question;

Who cut the cheese?,  

Matthew Polkinghorne

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January 10th, 2011 No comments

I once saw a woman staring, emptily. She was staring at a relationship.

I once saw a man staring, emptily. He was staring at a room filled with power just out of his reach.

That word; emptily. It is a word that is used to describe a feeling; like something is missing. It can so easily be perceived by the eager observer. All you have to do is look and see it.

Not getting caught up with it, now that is the hard part.

For every piece of individual emptiness, there is also a fullness. For something to be attained, something else usually must be sacrificed (a trade-off or an opportunity cost).

There are those few who would tell you that they have it all. Those few are probably not being truthful. And those few are probably now caught up in the throes of some variation of greed or acquisition (and we are not necessarily talking about money or power here).

But all of that is not inspiring. Staring emptily is not inspiring. Getting caught up in the empty stare of another is depressing. This does not mean, however, that it is emotionally unhealthy to attach or connect to an empty stare. The health of such an attachment or connection is dependent on the length of time absorbing it or the length of time processing it. Obsessing about an empty stare can be fruitless.

Maybe the personal witnessing of an empty stare is inspiring though. It inspired this small blurb of writing. Perhaps the impact of an empty stare is more powerful than we may think. Then again, the inspiration of it must also depend on who witnessed it.

It makes me wonder – what does it mean to be inspiring?

To be inspiring, must we flip every negative on its head and see only the positive?

Can you witness the emptiest of stares and somehow see the light in it?

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Too Much Fluff Not Enough Technical?: Appreciate & Respect The Fluff

January 8th, 2011 No comments

Ok then. Anyone up for some technicalities?

A car needs some fixing; power-steering fluid flush, front disc brake replacement and your basic lube, oil, and filter. No back drum brake replacement this time around. Sure, rotors wear out; that steel can sure become thin after 3 brake jobs. 3 brake jobs and the rotors need replacing.

What about electronics? Surface mount technology sounds like a complicated beast doesn’t it? Current. Voltage. Resistance. Short-circuit. Blow a fuse. Transistors. Resistors. Diodes. Capacitors. Conductors. Semi-conductors. Superconductors. It takes a lot of components to make an electronic brain work.

Speaking of brain work. What about human brain work? Have you heard of prosopagnosia? How well do you recognize human faces? Which set of neurons aren’t working together properly if your ability to recognize human faces has all of the sudden become distorted and blurry? Have you exercised your memory and curiosity to know the 12 cranial nerves? Optic. Trigeminal. Olfactory. Auditory. What about the other 8? Will you take the time to contemplate?

Does your head hurt? My doesn’t. So what? More than 95% of people aren’t technical.

Hence I appreciate and respect the so-called fluff of it all. The so-called fluff is what makes our world spin round. The so-called fluff is what creates fun for all.

Part of the problem is, too many technical people are misunderstood as not fun. What a shame. Technical people can sometimes be the most fun. So don’t piss em’ off, that’s when things become undone.

Nonetheless, 95% is a large percentage. Appreciation and respect, then, are inarguably imperative for all and any human interaction. Unless, of course, you are a driver and creator of human tension; then appreciation and respect may occur on a more intermittent basis for you.

Nothing wrong with an occasional dose of cynicism. Nothing wrong with it at all.

Matthew Polkinghorne

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Sometimes Anger Is Appropriate: It Can Serve A Positive Purpose

January 1st, 2011 No comments

We’ve all heard it before; anger occurs, in some shape or form, when an individual feels as if they have been unjustly treated or unfairly slighted by another person or group of people. Regardless of how many people are involved with an interpersonal transaction, anger, when identified and used effectively, can serve a positive interpersonal purpose while leveling (or stabilizing) emotion of the individual. In such a way, the effective identification and use of anger can simultaneously create at least 2 positive outcomes; i) emotional relief for the relationship and ii) emotional relief for the individual.  

Before positive personal and interpersonal outcomes can be achieved, however, a person must develop a precisely-timed ability to identify anger in the moment and harness its energy for a positive personal and interpersonal function. By use of a case illustration, we will see how a person uses the powerful force of this particular emotion for good.

A couple gets into an argument. They are arguing ferociously about spending time with a certain group of friends. As the argument goes back and forth, points and counterpoints fly around wildly between them with no agreement in sight. Neither individual in the couple is willing to budge. Friction is building and building fast. Anger enters the argument on both sides and the couple are now in the unsettling swell of an emotional fight. A few nasty remarks enter the emotional fight. Unkind facial expressions enter the emotional fight. Finger-pointing enters the emotional fight. Tempers begin to flare up. The couple are now in each other’s face; the emotional friction appears as if it cannot be resolved. Anger is now dominating the interpersonal dynamic between the couple.

This here is the imperative part of the case illustration; anger now dominates the dynamic and the emotional friction has become unbearable. The couple has reached a critical point of emotional escalation (they are yelling and screaming in each other’s face). Now it is sink or swim time for the relationship. Thankfully the man decides to swim. Here is how;

In the absolute worst part of the fight, where levels of anger intensity are at their greatest (some people may refer to this as rage), the man feels the slightest lining of water enter his eyes (this physiological moment is when a person must successfully identify that they have reached their highest threshold of the emotion of anger; this is when the person must realize that the slightest lining of water in the eyes symbolizes a rejection or intolerance of anger and a welcoming in of hurt, fright, or insecurity). For example, if a person can, in the most intense moment of their interpersonal anger, feel and identify the water gently line their eye, they will be able to say at precisely the same time to whoever they are in a fight with – ‘I am hurt’, and say it with definitive conviction, permitting diffusion of emotional friction.

So, when an individual allows a gentle lining of water to enter their eyes in the highest intensity of their anger, the other person if connected and fully present in the emotional fight will almost always and automatically allow a gentle lining of water to enter their eyes. This is not saying that both people are crying. Quite the contrary, the gentle lining of water in each other’s eyes during a fight effectively communicates hurt on both sides; an acknowledgment that I am hurt and you are hurt. You are hurt and I am hurt. We are both hurt.

Unless, however, 1 individual in a given relationship can identify, use, and transform the anger at its highest intensity and point into something that communicates vulnerability (i.e. – feeling afraid, feeling insecure, or feeling hurt and why), the anger will most likely escalate to a point where something regrettable happens between two or more people. And anything beyond yelling and screaming in each other’s face is probably regrettable to say the least.    

Sometimes the emotional expression of anger is appropriate. Some intensities of anger can be very frightening. Anger, if transformed to an expression of vulnerability at its greatest intensity (when a person feels their eyes well up), can serve a positive personal and interpersonal purpose.

Remember, anger does not have to be negative. Let yourself feel angry. Do not be afraid if your anger escalates. Monitor it; pay attention to it. Feel it move and surge through your body. Feel it knot in your stomach. Feel it clench in your jaw. Feel it tighten up in your neck. Feel it warm up your head. Feel it redden your face. Feel it move to your eyes. Feel the warmth in your eyes…

Matthew Polkinghorne

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