This weekend is a major work-a-thon for us.
Sandy Landry flew in on Thursday morning since she is volunteering her scalp and the formidable contents under it for us to practice on all weekend.
Loretta Brown flew in later on the same afternoon to learn everything Megan has learned about recording a good EEG — in just three days!
Knowing that we would have four gourmet cooks in the house, I proactively assigned meals to each one, posting the schedule on the research wall using one of our classic Post-it-Note slabs of paper, clearly visible to all.
With my usual perspicuity, I added the following admonition at the bottom of the schedule: “It is neither necessary nor desirable for these culinary exercises to become the playing field upon which the unresolved legitimacy issues of our lives are played out in combative, competitive or caloric excesses.”
Simple, clean and UTTERLY unambiguous.
I went first, serving my legendary brown lentil soup for lunch on Thursday. (I don’t do those sissy green or red lentils. I import mine from Texas since I have not found brown lentils in California). The smell of it cooking all morning long made it hard for me to wait for noon, so I invoked executive privilege and we partook early.
Sandy was utterly unimpressed. She neither commented on it, nor did she finish her serving. But then, she is a hard one to impress, so I shrugged it off and moved on down the road. I can handle rejection. I have lots of practice you know. No points for that meal.
Sandy hit the stores after lunch and came back looking like a Sherpa preparing to assault the south side of Mt. Everest. By three o’clock it was evident that she was sinning against my simple, clean and UTTERLY unambiguous instructions. The fragrances emitting from the kitchen had nothing whatsoever modest about them.
Being a Prophet, I like to nip sin in the bud and not let it spread like a nefarious virus through the rest of my staff. I marched into the kitchen and bluntly told her that whatever she was cooking was WAY over the line of the parameters I had laid out. It smelled far too scrumptious to possibly fit under my simple, clean and UTTERLY unambiguous instructions.
I should have known better.
Trying to nail down a word smith is an exercise in futility. She never flinched. The rebuttal was immediate and crushing: “This is not about being combative or competitive.” (She did leave out the bit about calories).
“This,” she announced with crushing finality, “is creativity. It was not forbidden.”
I slunk off the field of combat, thoroughly defeated.
Dinner was pasta al dente with remarkably flavored chicken on top, along with some fancy butternut squash topped with Gorgonzola and sprinkled with nuts. The salad was a fun combination of greens, avocado and orange (I think). After indulging deeply, while pondering the inadvisability but desirability of my having seconds, Sandy sprang a dessert on us.
It was some sort of pie-like creation, with shredded coconut in the cream filling. Loretta was especially overt in expressing appreciation for it.
What was particularly significant about the meal is that Megan ate some of everything and back in the day, she had made a generous assortment of inner and outer vows about no more squash on her plate once she left her parents’ tables.
So far the score was zero to three. But who is keeping score in this non-competitive environment anyway?
I was up again for lunch today and prepared my famous chicken salad. And I scored. Sandy was so impressed she put me on the witness stand and cross-examined me about the ingredients. I was quite smug as I assured her I used nothing as dorky Californian as jicama in MY chicken salad. That was water chestnuts, thank you very much.
She even wanted to know what unusual dressing I had used and what the spice was on the meat.
AND, Megan very uncharacteristically took seconds. In fact she cleaned out the bowl, without offering seconds to either of our guests. Remarkable.
So clearly the score was now two to three as the Comeback Kid made his move, but who is keeping score anyway?
Loretta is on tap for dinner this evening, so we will see what manner or repast a hard core cowgirl serves. Considering the fact that those two Texans were assaulted by miso soup with dried fish flakes floating on top as part of the breakfast menu at their hotel, I was reasonably sure we wouldn’t be facing a tofu burger for dinner.
They were talking so much this morning on their way to work that Loretta blew right by all three good grocery stores and ended up shopping at one of those fourth rate discount places. The pressure is on to see what kind of a salvage job she can do with those ingredients.
Meanwhile, running as a minor side-show to the meals is the whole issue of qEEGs. On Thursday afternoon, Loretta and I spread the dunnage all over the table, sorted and organized, prioritized and added, then found a way to organize it and fit it into three containers for the relentless travel that is forthcoming.
Megan made a list of what goes into each container so that we can do a careful inventory at the weary end of each day and ascertain that we make no involuntary donations to the hotels we grace with our presence.
This morning we did our first run with Megan showing Loretta the whole process. The air was filled with mumblings and grumblings about artifacts, impedance, HRV, red, orange, yellow and the elusive white, along with vigorous arguments as to whether it was terminal P2 or PZ and why on earth was P3 so recalcitrant?
After the interminable set-up was done and Sandy was garishly wired, we did four sets of experiments and called it a wrap. The left ear lobe contact for the brand new cap we bought was not working, so I substituted the old lead and went forward anyway. F8 was intransigent due to a concave spot in Sandy’s skull (how dare she be concave when I ordered convex?) so the test results were flawed.
Nonetheless Loretta benefited considerably by exposure to the big picture of how it all works. It was her first experience at seeing all 19 wave forms dancing across the screen simultaneously, and she learned how to spot some of the more glaring anomalies.
Early afternoon was spent with Megan coaching Loretta on wave form recognition and in practicing switching between the two programs. Because we are doing something that is not normally done (correlating HRV and qEEG data on the same time line) we have two sets of equipment broadcasting to the computer simultaneously and Loretta needs to save both batches of data from each set.
The objective is for her to master a fixed set of clicks so she does it exactly the same way every time and can do it quickly so that from the volunteer’s perspective the experience is nearly continuous, when in fact it is highly segmented.
Loretta and I have developed a set of five hand signals plus some eyebrow activity to communicate non-verbally during this three person dance.
Apparently Loretta is capable of single-minded concentration because it was Megan whose olfactory keenness alerted Loretta to the fact that her Texas sized slab of beef was in distress.
When dinner was suitably rescued, we dug out the old cap and tried it on Sandy for the afternoon test. Pre-test results were sub-optimal, but we went through with it anyway. This time Loretta was running the equipment with Megan at her shoulder. We improved our teamwork monumentally over the morning’s session.
Even though these were just “throw away” test sessions, I decided to do some spirit work with Sandy just for fun. After all, the two of us go ‘way back. A lot of what I know about working with the human spirit we have tested on her, thanks to her magnificent guinea pig anointing and the fact that she was walking with me way back in the day, when I was discovering these principles one at a time.
And then it happened.
After we got the baseline down and Loretta confirmed (non-verbally) that the systems were operative, I did something I have not done before with anyone.
I know Sandy is a Prophet. I know she is highly adept at making moral judgments and sharing with others what they are doing wrong. I figured that portion of her brain should be about the size of a watermelon. It must be wonderfully developed and finely honed since it is regularly exercised.
I instructed her spirit to go to the area of the brain that makes ethical determinations (which some researchers say is behind the right ear) and to scroll through a bunch of the right/wrong determinations she had made recently about herself or anyone else.
It seemed like a simple little exercise, but when I glanced at Loretta and Megan I could see from their faces that they were watching something extraordinary on the computer screen. All their body language was shouting surprise, excitement and borderline disbelief.
We transitioned to three other spirit exercises and their non-verbal excitement continued to build.
Eventually, after Sandy was unwired and had washed the gel out of her hair, we got together for a debrief. There was no question — as inexperienced as both Megan and Loretta are in the art of reading EEGs, they both could see the dramatic shift in the wave forms and intensity when Sandy’s immense spirit responded to my directives.
The whole point of the “q” in a qEEG is for the computer to do fancy quantitative analysis of the data, finding nuances that are not readily visible to the naked eye.
For the raw data to be so abruptly distinctive when the soul stepped back and the spirit stepped up, that two amateurs could see the difference, says a lot about how big Sandy’s spirit is and it says we are going to have a dramatically fun time going forward with this project.
We sat and soaked for a while in the immensity of it all then Loretta headed back to the kitchen.
I am still not happy with the caps we have, either the old one or the new one. The supplier has one other $26 doohickey that he thinks will improve it functionality, but he wanted $120 to ship it to us in time for the Virginia testing.
And you thought the Feds were scandalous with their pricing. Welcome to Big Pharma!
I believe the girls can design a way to improve on what the equipment manufactures have come up with so far. After all — we ARE the “better way” company! They took their creativity to M & L Fabric to find the wherewithall to make the world a better place.
So that was our rollicking Friday. Tomorrow we will gather again, assault Sandy’s scalp a couple more times, try some even more outrageous experiments with her spirit, and see what Megan serves up for lunch.
But I still wonder if Sandy was sinning at least a little tiny bit, or if all of that gastronomic excellence was truly 100% distilled creativity, unmarred by even the most microscopic bit of competitiveness.
March 16, 2012