February 22, 2007

Consciousness is...

Consciousness is...
A)Biological - Brain, senses.
B)Spiritual - Soul, heart, spirit
C)A good topic for debate; my answer is too long.
D)A big, scary word.
I'll go with letter C.
Consciousness is a word that we can't help but take for granted and it is certainly one that we cannot fully comprehend. We know what it means to be unconscious, but we can't ever be conscious of being unconscious, see? It's a Catch-22.

I enjoy consciousness. It is a state of self awareness. It is a state of worldly awareness. It is the process of sorting information and making decisions and acting out of our own free will, in some sort mind-numbingly bizarre way!

I am comfortable with biological answers. My brain processes involve neurotransmitters and nerve impulses traveling from sensory inputs derived from the vibration of molecules flying into my nose and ears, the searing energy from a ball of gas millions of miles away flying into my eyes, the tactile trauma I experience by bumping into all sorts of objects and somehow this all get sorted out in a coherent manner by my cerebral cortex that decides what to do with all this input. Equally miraculous, this process happens in nearly everyone I know and even more amazing to me, we all somehow agree on the meaning of these signals. There are some differences in opinion, but it's still crazy for me to ruminate on these sorts of things.

I am uncomfortable with spiritual answers. How can we divulge the concept of a spirit away from the senses and the translation of these important signals? Without any senses, without any meaningful input, how can we possibly produce any meaningful actions, any intelligent output?

Still, lingering doubts remain. At some level of inhibitory and activating synaptic nerve potentials, the addition of these signals and propagation of selected nerve signals doesn't add up to Me being ME. Maybe I don't fully understand the complexity of this simple process. Perhaps I somehow pull myself up out of the swamp of the unknowing by my own bootstraps into the thinking world.

Maybe I'm not a ME, but a WE. Each part of my brain, each organ of my body has it's own collective consciousness. Each cell in my body lives on with a purpose -- not necessarily one of sustaining My life, but perhaps its own, in ways that tangentially benefit the whole Me.
I live because of these connections, these communications between cells. I think because it somehow serves a greater purpose for my body. And the more I think about why I think, the gladder I am that I can.

I've said some pretty poetic stuff in my past entries on Philosophy that I reread just now. My favorite line is:
It is cool to think that [consciousness] is an aggregation of quantum activity that takes off as massive butterfly effects in our heads. I don't think that this necessarily implicates the additional driving meta-physical force of consciousness, nor does it happen continually. Every so often, metaphorical dominoes are dumped out onto a table and a few of them align, waiting for the quantum flutterby. This is the exception, not the rule.

February 10, 2007

the Balloon is RUINED!!!

Causes of pericarditis

Radiation/Rheumatic fever
End Stage Renal Disease
Dressler's syndrome

Ok, so this mnemonic is a little bit over the top, but so is the cure if you destabilize.

Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, a "plastic" bag that surrounds your heart. If too much fluid flows in, be it blood or pus or anything like that, then you get a cardiac tamponade and your heart stops pumping blood. It needs to be dealt with swiftly and sometimes, punching a needle through the chest wall to draw the fluid out of the pericardium is necessary. That's pretty scary, because you don't want to hit the lungs or the heart... just the pericardium.