December 9, 2009
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been collecting and analysing data on the question, “What is the good life?” since 1967. He explores issues such as the structure of everyday life, develops well-known concepts such as psychic entropy and challenge-skill ratio (CSR). MC’s flow model and the Experience Sampling Method blend the science of pyschology and folksy-self-help (1997) He reveals that the moments of flow where an individual experiences a good challenge-skill ratio, are likely to happen at work (2000:121-123) although they can also occur when an artist is at work in her studio, or a Nintendo players is up to her game.
Memory: Floods and Flows
“The American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written about the concept of flow, which is the feeling we have of being completely focused on and absorbed in the work we are doing. An artist painting a picture who is so engrossed in his work that he becomes unaware of himself and the passage of time is in a state of flow. Flow can also be attained when a surgeon performs a difficult operation in which she has to use all her abilities and skills. What Csikszentmihalyi has tried to do is identify the circumstances that elicit flow. He reasons that if we analyze situations in terms of the challenges they present and the skills of the person involved in them, we find that flow arises in contexts characterized by a high level of challenge and skill, in which capacity of the doer exactly matches the demands of the task being done (Klingberg 2009:167-8).”
“Considering Csikszentmihalyi’s diagram as a cognitive map with north at the top, it is in the northeast sector where we find the state of flow. When the challenge exceeds skill, we get stres. When skill exceeds challenge we get a sense of control, which becomes boredom as the level of challenge drops. Exchange “skill” for “working memory capacity” and “challenge” for “Information overload,” and perhaps we have a map illustrating the subjective side of the information demand. When this demand exceeds our capacity, we experience the relative attention deficit due north of the map. However, we should not simply avoid these demands, for when they are too low we become bored and apathetic. In other words, there is a reason for us to cater to our need for stimulation and information. It is when demand and capacity, or skill and challenge, are in a state of equilibrium that the situation is conducive to flow. And perhaps it is precisely here, where we exploit our full capacity, that we develop and train our abilities (Klingberg 2009:168)”
“While our working memory load exactly matches working memory capacity and we hover around the magical number seven, the training effect is its most powerful. Now that we know this, it is up to us to control our environments and reshape the work we do to our abilities. Let us hope that we can learn to perfect the compass that will show us where to find balance and help us navigate into the northeast corner of the map, where we can feel the flow and develop to our full capacity (Klingberg 2009:169).” Read the rest of this entry »
September 29, 2009
Does the City of Calgary use its own WaterWise Gardening and Planting advice along its bike paths, walking trails and public green spaces within the city? This question arose at the City’s booth at the 2009 EcoLiving Fair held at the Mount Royal University campus, September 26 & 27, 2009. There are lots of native plants in the “Special Protection Natural Areas” around the city but not in these other spaces that now seem to have the ubiquitous Canadian coast-to-coast urban plants. Calgary has such a unique setting and ecosystem with stunning visual potential for planned urban local/native/wild flowers.
Apparently it has been a hard sell for local suppliers such as ALCLA Native Plant Restoration Inc competing against petunias.
WaterWise workshop leaders encourage Calgary gardeners to go ditch-diving for native wild plants. But our ditches have pretty slim picking. The incredibly hardy and year-round attractive and useful Kinnikinnick, aka Bearberry or Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is not easy to find in Calgary in city parks let alone ditches (although robust 3.5″ plugs in ‘deep root trainers’ are available at Bow Point Nursery).
Why is there not more sweetgrass Hierachloe odorata planted ?
Plants that are abundant on the lands of the Tsuu T’ina Nation for example could easily be grown anywhere in Calgary with less cost and maintenance than the urban selections we now have. If the city set the example by changing the aesthetic perhaps private corporations and business owners would include more low-maintenance but high-impact native plant varieties. We would also be encouraging local entrepreneurs who have already begun to shift.
Familiarity with native plants could be much enhanced by having more of them in urban parks-perhaps even labelled as hardy native plants-in urban areas and eventually gardeners would surely be attracted to these healthy alternatives.
There are several local small businesses that market native wild plants while slowly educating the public to a shift in aesthetics towards water-wise planting. Bow Point Nursery, has its own glossary of native plants. Bow Point Nursery is also a reliable place to get Sheep’s Fescue seed and extraordinary lawn grass substitute that can be over-seeded with great results in three years. Laureen Rama was at the EcoLiving Fair with huge bins of Sheep’s Fescue seed and very practical hints. For more info on her services visit Eco-yards. The ALCLA Native Plant Restoration Inc. includes this long list of native plants they have available.
1. Dorothy Harvie Gardens at the Calgary Zoo use ‘deep root trainers’. Root trainer cell packs for seedlings encourage deep root growth, reducing the risk of stress when planted.
2. Westgro Horticultural Supplies Inc., 1557 Hastings Crescent SE, Calgary, AB T2G 4C8, Canada and Professional Gardener Co Ltd
915 23 Avenue Se, Calgary, AB T2G 1P1 -Telephone : 403-263-4200 both have ‘deep root trainers.’
3. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi – Kinnikinnick – Low mat forming evergreen groundcover. Dark green, leathery leaves, turn red in full sun. Small red berries. Full sun or shade. (Bow Point Nursery glossary).
4. Calgary and Area Native Plant Nurseries and Services: Bow Point Nursery, Springbank, 403-686-4434, www.bowpointnursery.com, for native trees and shrubs, and low-maintenance grass seed. Also for composted soil, compost, wood chip mulch, wooden rounds; ALCLA Native Plant Restoration, 3208 Bearspaw Drive, NW, Calgary, AB, 403-282-6515, www.alclanativeplants.com for native perennial flowers and native grass seed mixes; Wild About Flowers, Turner Valley, 403-933-3903, www.wildaboutflowers.ca for native perennial flowers and native grass mixes; Laureen Rama’s Eco-yards.
5. Calgary-based author and gardener, Donna Balzer’s list of water-wise plant recommendations for Calgary gardens which includes many native plants available on the City of Calgary’s website.
January 9, 2009
Displays of illuminated miniature Victorian villages are one of the cheery aspects of Canadian winters that I enjoy. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to these lights for our walkway . . .
These coach lights came from Home Depot on 11320 Sarcee Trail NW Calgary. They have made our little corner feel so much safer. The Victorian coach light seems to shine brighter through fresh snow.
Every time we return home after dark . . .
When I turn on the lights at dusk . . .
Seeing them covered in snow . . .
Knowing we’re using ecology-friendly bulbs in them . . .
I am grateful . . .
Note: January is a great time to check out clearance specials at incredibly low prices at Calgary’s Beacon Hill Home Depot, 11320 Sarcee Trail NW, Calgary, AB T3R 0A1 (403) 374-3860 STORE HOURS: M-F 7AM-10PM, SAT 7AM-8PM, SUN 8AM-6PM
December 31, 2008
My first embodied experience of mountains was in the mid-eighties in France and it left me speechless. We have been living within viewing range of the spectacular Rocky Mountains for over a year now and I am still in awe at the visual phenomenon of recognizing geographical formations with the naked eye, that are hundreds of kilometers away. I was born and grew up on Prince Edward Island where we had rolling hills, fields, harbours, and magnificent ocean views, but no vistas or panoramas that could cover this scale. For reasons I do not understand I have always needed to place my visual world in measurable perspectives and have even learned to map waves and spherical objects in order to draw and paint them with more accuracy.This is one of the many Google maps I am working on as part of this project and others. From Calgary’s Crowfoot Public Library Lookout I have added lines to mountain peaks visible to the naked eye in ideal light. These lines indicate the distance. Each peak marker has additional information about the peaks including height in meters. I am hoping to eventually include ranges, subranges and regions as well as brief summaries on the history of naming, etc. (For now I rely heavily on bivouac.com, peakfinders, wikipedia as well as travel, history, geography and photography books). Information panels in national, provincial and municipal parks also provide some information. I am beginning to create and upload to my Picasa albums, icons (resolution 72 dpi, 65 pixels x 65 pixels) from my own digital photos for each peak.
I am struggling with Google Earth as I have overloaded my .kmz files.
Picasa allows me to tag my individual digital images and to place them in digital albums while maintaining separate albums on my PC to enhance findability. Semantic tools used on the Internet are developed on PCs too.
In order to paint the Rockies I wanted to first know where they were in relation to my easel. I don’t know why but I really want to know names of things including their historical and scientific names. Geological formations fascinate me as much as the history of the First Nations whose trails became our highways. I wanted to know exactly where I was and where they are with locational indicators. I wanted to know their height and how they were linked to neighbouring peaks. We became chasers of the light, watching Calgary skies for the best conditions for capturing images of the Rockies. We searched out the best sites for viewing the mountains from here and returned to them often. Most of our pictures were not that great from a photographic or aesthetic point of view. But bit by bit we were able to see more peaks clearly and identify them.
I began to take 180 degree pans even when the light was not great if at least some of the peaks were more visible.
We drove and hiked closer to the peaks as much as we could and continue to do so looking for more vistas and slightly different angles.
Using online and print sources piece by piece small sections came together.
I began to trace the contours of the peaks skyline so I could more clearly see which peaks were farther west, which were closer to us.
I used both Google Earth and Google’s My Maps features to geotag and tag exact peaks. Then I created lines between the peaks and the site from which I was taking photos so I could visualize compass directions.
I used the various mountaineering sites like bivuoac.com to study maps, to learn the language, to situate peaks within ranges, regions and subranges. I gathered descriptive information.
In Picasa I can geotag and label my photos and I have started uploading some of them to my Picasa album.
Using Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite I create digitage (collages of digital images using .psd layer options) and I add text fields to label peaks and other features that help situate them.
I upload, tag and geotag some of these labeled images to Flickr but I have been disappointed by the low resolution in my free account.
Recently I have begun to upload higher resolution images to my wordpress accounts, including this one.
A group of savvy semantic web experts have created programs to autogenerate similar images! They describe how they align real photos with a synthetic panorama. I guess that is what I have been doing manually. See Technologies of Vision: semantic image labelling, Marmota: Visual Environmental Monitoring. Recently I received this delightful email from one of the researchers-collaborators:
Dear Maureen, I saw your picture and I think it is very related to the mountain labelling tool I’m working on: http://tev.fbk.eu/marmota (as a demo, please look at the photoblog). Can you describe the context of the Peaks’ Project? You are also welcome to add your photos to the flickr group labelledmountains Merry Christmas from Italy, michele
I thought it would be an appropriate time for me to contextualize my own slow world process involved in my “Naming the Peaks Project.”
Webliography and Bibliography