Silly Grins

Monday, February 27, 2012

We Make Boxes

Hey, mister... are your sure that's a good idea?

We tested

They bussed

We learned

Once a week

This isn't being nostalgic. This is just trying to remember some things that happened, trying to figure out what it might have really been about. Judging by the haphazard attempts, there was interest in an overall design, but we were peripheral.

Our subjects varied. From memory:

  • advertising
  • boardgames 
  • calligraphy
  • chemistry
  • electronics
  • roll-playing games

They'd bus us in from different schools. I only remember a few of the faces and a few names. Different ages, maybe. They put us in a facility that looked like it was a cross between a lab and a home economics class. The room is probably much smaller than I remember, because I was still a kid of course.

People were invited to come in to give demonstrations and teach skills. Burning magnesium:

And how not to put it out.

That's how the program worked in the beginning before the name changed. And much more sophisticated programs were later put into place. At least, that's how I imagine things eventually worked out.

The amount of information freely accessible at this time is just amazing. No need to talk to former participants. Only thing that matters is the realization that early exposure to basic concepts is a good thing. Simple really.

The lady in charge of the program somehow thought the two of us should have been able to find our way across town when the buses didn't run that day. It was like she was mad at us... we were only 7 at the time. I remember seeing the look in her eyes... she was just a little girl and I was just a little boy. We were in a situation over which we had no control, over our heads. Still, we understood what was going on. The lady with the dark, curly hair, finally just took us to where we needed to go. But we felt like odd. She didn't talk to us. It was almost like she didn't know how. We were cargo. Probably what made us reluctant to go back later on, even though the material was engaging.

Standing outside, in front of a school, waiting for a bus to come and pick us up. Like society said, "Sorry kids, the main production ain't for you. You'll have to wait here." Other than that, no explanation. No why you are here speech. Adults tend to assume you'll automatically figure things out (see myth).

The very fact that other people have started talking about programs like these does activate certain memories (we never say trigger). But I really don't care for the venue where I first found the information. I prefer the other venue that starts out with explaining a few of the myths.

Bits of the test, I do remember. Pictures cards with which to construct a sequence. Something about forgetting a rain coat and having to go back. That might have been one of the last things I was asked to explain. The test, which was more like an interview, was given by an adult who actually communicated. Weird how we remember things.

Do Eigo... make us Eigo. 


*(Titicut Follies... delayed.)


  1. Wow.
    Where to begin?
    Started when I was 10 and my first test was when I was in the Juvenile Detention facility.
    My score apparently put me in a "watch list" They supposed I would be very good or very bad or maybe very good at being very bad.
    Twice in my life that I know for sure about I was interviewed and asked about particular events and evaluated.
    Once was when I went back to MA. to get my juvenile record erased and the other was by the F.B.I in Hawaii. They asked the exact same questions and gave me a full "health check".

    I was told when I was 14 that I would be of interest to some folks at Mass General Hospital until the day I died.

    Maybe the only time in my entire life that I felt like I was sitting across from someone on my level was the first interview. He predicted correctly just about everything that has happened. He correctly surmised that I would be the only person who would ever be able to prevent myself so it would be dependent on my levels of empathy and guilt. He said I was a Narcissist and possible Sociopath but said that a diagnosis before adulthood was not possible.

    He was right...I was very good at being very bad and the only thing that ever stopped me was myself. Violence,Drugs,Booze were all discontinued with the thought of them being so.

    Sounds ridiculous and such but it is true. The Child Psychologists, Adult Psychologists and Criminal interrogators were like silly puddy that I shaped how I chose. I could tell you what the reports said because I know how they saw me.

    I was not prepared the 1st time so he actually probably got a better look at me than anyone ever has since.

    Thanks for the walk down my own little "Memory lane"

    Looking forward to where this is going. :)

    1. Uhm... such a response as this is unexpected, but I can see things like this happening. Same questions... funny how... no not even funny. At MGH, they probably are still doing a lot of research.

      Sitting across from people who are very "with it" in some ways is fascinating and can be a little unsettling. There are two times I can recall having conversations with people who had more or less photographic memories. (I don't necessarily count that as what some people call 'smarts' though, but I imagine it would be nice ability to have.)

      One fellow was/is(?) in the medical field here. He was able to recall something I'd mentioned in a previous session (okay, it was a conversation class, but 'session' sound more, I dunno, wanker-ish). The way he'd asked me gave me pause. It was like he was comparing mental notes and noticed a difference. I then asked him how he learned English. He said it was all from the texts he'd read in junior high and high school basically.

      Now, here's the part that was interesting. He said he only ever needed to read a book once and said he didn't go to cram school. He was not a narcissist, like men in his profession can often be, nor do I think he was a sociopath. But he had a damn good memory and was fascinating to be able to talk to.

      One of my policies has to do with being honest. I don't lie well and part of it relates to memory. Had I tried to make up an answer for the good doctor or have tried to fake it, I'm pretty sure he would have known. He shared some wisdom. I enjoy remembering those sessions, they were unexpected gems. Just wish my memory was better.

      Good and bad. When I think about it too much, I don't see much difference at times other than on the extreme ends of that spectrum (if there is even such a thing). We all have potential for doing a lot of different kinds of things that may be considered on one end or the other. What gets me is how people will say, "He's a good guy, he couldn't possibly do that."

      In the medical field, supposedly 'good' folk have great potential to do all kinds of things. Information. New to some, not so to others. He got point for honesty. A respectable and humble fellow.

      I'm kind of not looking forward to where this may be going because I don't have a clue - other than the fact that the amount of data available through the electronic medium is blowing my mind. And knowing what is credible and what is not takes a cautious approach. It's a constant process and I'm kind of hooked. On a learning curve here.

      Information, data, knowledge, and wisdom.

      "Thanks for the walk down my own little 'Memory lane'" - You are welcome.

      "Looking forward to where this is going. :)"
      Not too sure where this is actually going.

      A map is in the making though, as a way to navigate. So far, there are four places that remain, three of which are done.

      Where it might be going...

      Possibly part of a greater discourse that has been enabled. Where it goes is anyone's guess. Not participating has it's risks just as well.

      Good morning.

  2. Sorry to hijack but I wasn't sure the exact direction you were going. I am familiar with life term tracking but mine came via being in the "system" as opposed to being recommended by a teacher or keen observer. There is a big difference especially in the "Why" department. My memory is...I dunno but I remember everything including the where the when the spot on the street while driving as the words in question was said. It has been a curse because a lot of folks/friends have unintentionally lied or refused to believe I could remember exactly what they said...what came before it but not after. The sounds the smells and the spot...the spot even in a moving vehicle. That part of me has caused more fractures between me and others than violence.

    1. No apology necessary, but thanks anyway.

      Memory can be a funny thing. And what people often do to themselves can be hilarious. Some people laugh with, some people laugh at. Never thought of trying to do both till just now.

      Someone once told me, "Where there is confusion, there is a lie." (Just did a wiki-blitz... wow, think I actually read that book while not really understanding... different time) Ironically,some folks seem to have a hard time facing the 'mental mirror' through the fog (like me).

      The biggest challenge is when people won't be honest with themselves. That's confusing. Confusing as heck. Hard to communicate with people to begin with, so when folks give off mixed messages, there's breakdown. Takes some people a lifetime to get through/grow out of. Can't help notice that for most people, life starts off with a wide variety of flavors of religious/social conditioning to nourish those inner demons, grow em big n' strong. Really hard to exorcise. Guess that's what true comedians are for. Comedy can be dangerous.

      Maybe more on demons later...

  3. "Looking forward to where this is going. :)"


    The conversation perhaps even more than the article. Please don't let me interrupt.

    1. Truth in Comedy, by Del Close and Charna Halpern. Words of professional, people you can 'trust'.

      If you are looking for a quick, good read, that's a book to get hold of.

  4. Have had a couple of memories "unlocked" recently, which led to a huge epiphany. When I try to explain it, try to put it into words, however, I sound like an idiot. I believe the key to who we are lies in our past. In our childhood.

    1. Unlocked... sounds familiar. Got any good metaphors for that-which-may-not-be-the-easiest-thing-to-put into words is about? I'm game. I'm willing to listen and run it through my wetware matrix.

      The Truth in Comedy book (in the response-comment to kamo) was recommended by someone I'd gone through some mid-childhood experiences with. Last time we met up was pretty surreal. Lots of questions about stuff, reread the book of life and got some more details. A lot was going on and, as it turns out, we weren't crazy.

      It's a trip.

    2. No metaphors, but I've realized that I trust my instincts nowhere near as much as I did when I was a kid, and they saved me on more than one occasion in my childhood. More and more, I'm getting back to going with my gut on things...

    3. Some folk are really good at using logic and managing reason to an extent that is virtually hypnotic... my guess is that the gut feeling is just as vital.

  5. Will, I read one of your posts ages before but I couldn't understand it. Now, reading through again I think a lot of your posts are really interesting.

    Chris, I thought you might be a bit Narcissistic but not a Sociopath.

    Having ASPD is not a good thing for the person with ASPD. Not being able to feel love or joy fully, detached and unable to connect with others -hurting others just to be able to feel something, anything at all - I think thats a very difficult space to live in. And, I know this because I have disassociated before (with major depression and ptsd) and have experienced a little of what it feels like not to care and empathise and it was awful. Whilst I didn't have any urges or thoughts about hurting other people I did hurt myself and I can understand where the thinking space on SW comes from when there are articles about people who do dreadful things to feel something. It makes sense but I think it is wrong both morally for hurting others and as a way of dealing with the problem of loss of feeling long term. The way to heal is the opposite of that.

    1. Were this blog a social gathering that I were hosting, I would say “Thank you” for the perfunctory feedback and excuse myself to grab a tray of grubbin’ hors d'oeuvres that I don’t think anyone will really be terrible interested in.

      (Returns after a minute)

      Thank you for coming back for another look. I do understand what gets put up is not necessarily the easiest for most people to get. Though I actually am interested in hearing what you have to say about the ideas in those posts.

      Now, I did have a little trouble following you, mainly do to the acronyms, when you addressed Chris. After taking a moment to look at your blog, I think I can see where you are coming from. I’ll leave it at that. Feel free to let me know if there’s anything on the platter that tickles your fancy… I think someone over in the corner might need another drink.


  6. You're welcome!!! :)

    ASPD is antisocial personality disorder thats listed in the DSM, a book supposedly with all recognised mental illnesses inside it. As Psychologists couldn't agree how to quantitatively measure empathy and what it is, Psychopathy isn't listed but if it was it would fit under the category of ASPD.

    A Psychopath is someone with limited empathy who cannot feel remorse. A Psychopath is a term for someone who is a Sociopath and someone who is a Psychopath but there appears to be differences between the two in behaviour and brain functioning.

    SW stands for Sociopath World - a blog with an author that somehow was able to read my Google searches (@.@).

    BPD (borderline personality disorder was originally thought to be a kind of female psychopathy. Now it's known very clearly that it's not. Whilst Psychopaths struggle to feel a lot of emotions and some parts of the brain look almost dead to emotion, the BPD brain is overloaded with emotion and on facial recognition empathy test people with bpd will generally score higher than people without mental illness whereas aspds struggle with this. BPD used to be misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. On the other hand, bpds can get very angry or depressed and they can disassociate which might be why it was mistaken for ASPD.

    PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. It has proven to be the result of trauma and is likely to occur to people who have been in a war, to people who have been raped, tortured, seen a dead body ect ect. Over time if untreated this disorder can damage memory. PTSD is an anxiety disorder linked to bpd but

    1. "After taking a moment to look at your blog, I think I can see where you are coming from," was in reference to the Varying Perspectives blog-post on 2/2/2012 regarding books (as well as a few other entries).

      Somehow my brain is overloaded, but there are no feelings of depression or noticeable anger.