Future Schools of Meditation and Cwm Pennant.

Way back in november 2007 I visted the Cwm Pennant outdoors centre near Llanfihangel-y-pennant.

The lease was up for sale by Hillingdon Council but because there had been a lot of strange funding mechanisms the legal situation was complicted, the ongoing use of the centre was also regulated by the National Lottery funding. The council had also pissed off the locals who operated the kitchen and the office due to the uncertainty. Because I had a Cymru sticker on my car, I was welcome. We got talking and when they found out that some of my relatives were from a nearby village, the people were very helpful.

The idea was to take over this outdoor centre and turn it into a conference / retreat centre pointing towards an esoteric school.

The accomodation was rudimentary…

but the location beautiful…

A friend and I wrote a business plan, but when I did the cash projections even with some optimism it was not really viable…

Assassin’s Creed, Coypu and Pampas

Given the subject matter of yesterday’s dream it seemed only logical to watch the film Assassin’s Creed last night. In this the biological descendent of an assassin is put into a big electronic recapitulation gizmo so that the Templars can take him back to 1492 and find the whereabouts of the “apple”, suggesting that the memories of his forefathers are encoded in his genetics, and it should be possible to regress. There are a number of quasi-historical problems with the script. Unless the Templars went underground and thrived in secret, they had ceased to exist a number of centuries previous to 1492 but how else could the Americans get a USA angle in? The gist is that the Templars are working for a new world order in which they are the boss.

Anyway, I did, like in the film, re-enact the night of my accident, by dragging myself around the house.

Yesterday I did some repairs on the anti-Coypu fence around the pond. This morning the river is up, and the little bugger has undone some of my repair and left me some turds to say Hi. On the left you can see where it went in the water. The pond is pretty full and is now leaking quite a bit, probably due to that South American blighter. The repair we made works for low pond levels, but there is more to do tomorrow, to adjust for winter pond levels.

Early this year we took two trailers full of pampas out of the pampas grass. It has rewarded us with a nice display…

Malta, Sicily and Déjà Vu

The dream which I had this morning is consistent with the hypothesis of my putative life, two lifetimes ago. This life was based in France but had elements of travel to the Holy Land for purposes of crusade and the acquisition of knowledge.

In this lifetime I was an ordained priest, a scholar and also a trained warrior. I was very often accompanied by the same man who was my confidant and assistant. His name was Cédric. The life involved sailing from somewhere near Perpignan on occasion, but was based further North, in a green land and near a watermill. There was a small village, a church and a mill race. When the normal village priest was away on business, I would stand in for him at the church.

As a child when I flew from Zambia to boarding school in England it was customary and necessary to stop on the way for fuel. On my first such flight, barely aged 10 by a day or so, we landed in Malta at dawn. I woke my mother who was taking me that first time to school and remarked at the beauty of the dawn over Malta. I was also having a truly massive attack of déjà vu. Somehow, I knew this place. I have been back a couple of times as a tourist. It feels so darned familiar. A similar baseball bat strike of déjà vu hit me when I went to Erice in Sicily for the first time. Bam! I have been here before…Bam!

Visions possibly associated with this life broke through a little after the Buddhist ones. There was an arrival by sea to Malta. There was study on the misty mountain top at Erice. I was in some kind of liaison role and for whatever reason I was generally acceptable to both the “Arabs” and the Jewish kabbalists, from whom we sought knowledge.

All was fine until one time me and a small band of fellow travellers got captured by a rogue group and paraded through the town, virtually naked. They took our chain mail and our white tunics with the rosy cross. It was a sea-front town, a small port, which they had recently captured. Everywhere there were torches burning some kind of dense tar like substance. The smell was powerful, almost noxious, the noise of celebration and “music” was loud. They led us down to a beach. There was much argument about what to do with us. They tied us to makeshift wooden crosses. They lit a big fire on the beach. They then inverted the crosses and placed them in the sand. They only did a few of us like this. The others sat huddled, praying and watched.

They, our captors, danced around the fire whooping and hollering in victory. The smell of the tar, the bitumen, burning was intense. It was difficult to remain conscious upside down. So, I drifted in and out.

When they were bored of the dancing they came over to us swearing, mocking and cursing. My wounds sustained in the capture were unstitched and much blood had run out of me. They prodded us with spears to antagonise, not to puncture. Some whipped us. The frenzy of the torment raised up a notch and they started to break the skin. They slit my throat. I can feel it now.

Soon I was above the beach looking down. I could see the fires and the half-crazed victors. I saw them moving towards the others and then I looked up and there were stars. Lots of stars.

The smell was at last gone.

Strange Dream, Waders, A Magnifying Glass and Heel Lifts

It has been an odd day so far. It started in a most unusual way. I had a very prolonged dream concerning someone I have not spoken to/with in over fifteen years. When I last knew him, I thought him to be kind, generally nice but a tad undecisive and chaotic. This person, J, was on my “one of the good guys” mental list. In this dream he sought me out because he was being investigated for some form of corruption or malpractice. Because of my prior role in pastoral care, I am good at listening and my confidentiality is very confidential. If students faced a tribunal, it was me that prepped them and assisted their defence, often. In this dream J discusses with me at some length how he should present his evidence what angles might work, and things he should not say. The dream, in dreamtime, was long. I can’t remember any of the details, now.

When I woke, I thought to myself that was weird! If J is being investigated for something dodgy my guess would be that he had done something by accident and not artifice. We were not exactly close, acquaintances yes. A while back I had another “corruption” type dream in which the ex-wife had done something iffy.

Are things coming home to roost?

It has been puzzling me on and off all day.

During the last bamboo session in the river, the leak in the right leg of the waders got worse and one appeared in the left leg too. By the time I had finished I had a litre or so of water in each boot. It is surprisingly hard to walk on dry land in waders which are full of water, especially if you have a gammy hip. We don’t know how old they are. So, it not surprising that they have started to perish. I did some research, and we went this morning to the local Decathlon store. This store is pretty impressive it covers all sports, hunting, fishing etc.. I tried on and subsequently bought a new set of chest high waders. We will need them for pond maintenance a little later on in the year. Not bad for 45 euros.

A while back I made my first proper “nanna” purchase it is a magnifying glass with a dual lens 3x and 45x magnification. It has an on-board LED light to provide a few extra photons. It is brilliant for reading batteries, electronic fuses, best before dates and expiry dates. So, I have done a clean out of the medicine cabinet. By definition anything which has Boots or Waitrose on it is about three years old. I am not so worried about lotions but stuff you swallow needs to be checked. The labelling in France is smaller than the UK so this device is a god send.

And now I have finally gone a done it, I have ordered some heel lifts at 5mm and 10mm to go in my left shoe to see if they help with my gait, which is still a tad spastic. I treated myself to some spongy trail running shoes today too, at Decathlon. The idea is to see if I can ease the juddering in my pelvic girdle when we walk on cobbles etc.

Bit of an odd day…

Hypertrophic Actinic Keratosis

Looks like frequency doubled Nd:YAG pumped dyes lasers operating in the 260-320nm range are likely to be the culprit!!

The histopathology has come back, and he said that what he cut out {~4mm diameter}, the day after my birthday, of my left hand was Hypertrophic Actinic Keratosis and that it had been entirely excised.

 I am guessing that I will have a few more of these blighters in due course.

It is mildly ironic that I was looking at hydrogen bonded complexes and molecular dimers using ultraviolet lasers …

From Wikipedia

Actinic keratosis (AK), sometimes called solar keratosis or senile keratosis, is a pre-cancerous area of thick, scaly, or crusty skin. Actinic keratosis is a disorder (-osis) of epidermal keratinocytes that is induced by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (actin-). These growths are more common in fair-skinned people and those who are frequently in the sun. They are believed to form when skin gets damaged by UV radiation from the sun or indoor tanning beds, usually over the course of decades. Given their pre-cancerous nature, if left untreated, they may turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Untreated lesions have up to a 20% risk of progression to squamous cell carcinoma, so treatment by a dermatologist is recommended.

Actinic keratoses characteristically appear as thick, scaly, or crusty areas that often feel dry or rough. Size commonly ranges between 2 and 6 millimeters, but they can grow to be several centimeters in diameter. Notably, AKs are often felt before they are seen, and the texture is sometimes compared to sandpaper. They may be dark, light, tan, pink, red, a combination of all these, or have the same color as the surrounding skin.

Given the causal relationship between sun exposure and AK growth, they often appear on a background of sun-damaged skin and in areas that are commonly sun-exposed, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, chest, backs of hands, forearms, or lips. Because sun exposure is rarely limited to a small area, most people who have an AK have more than one.

If clinical examination findings are not typical of AK and the possibility of in situ or invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cannot be excluded based on clinical examination alone, a biopsy or excision can be considered for definitive diagnosis by histologic examination of the lesional tissue. Multiple treatment options for AK are available. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is one option the treatment of numerous AK lesions in a region of the skin, termed field cancerization. It involves the application of a photosensitizer to the skin followed by illumination with a strong light source. Topical creams, such as 5-fluorouracil or imiquimod, may require daily application to affected skin areas over a typical time course of weeks.

Cryotherapy is frequently used for few and well-defined lesions, but undesired skin lightening, or hypopigmentation, may occur at the treatment site. By following up with a dermatologist, AKs can be treated before they progress to skin cancer. If cancer does develop from an AK lesion, it can be caught early with close monitoring, at a time when treatment is likely to have a high cure rate.

Signs and symptoms

Actinic keratoses (AKs) most commonly present as a white, scaly plaque of variable thickness with surrounding redness; they are most notable for having a sandpaper-like texture when felt with a gloved hand. Skin nearby the lesion often shows evidence of solar damage characterized by notable pigmentary alterations, being yellow or pale in color with areas of hyperpigmentation; deep wrinkles, coarse texture, purpura and ecchymoses, dry skin, and scattered telangiectasias are also characteristic.

Photoaging leads to an accumulation of oncogenic changes, resulting in a proliferation of mutated keratinocytes that can manifest as AKs or other neoplastic growths. With years of sun damage, it is possible to develop multiple AKs in a single area on the skin. This condition is termed field cancerization.

The lesions are usually asymptomatic, but can be tender, itch, bleed, or produce a stinging or burning sensation. AKs are typically graded in accordance with their clinical presentation: Grade I (easily visible, slightly palpable), Grade II (easily visible, palpable), and Grade III (frankly visible and hyperkeratotic).

Variants

Actinic keratoses can have various clinical presentations, often characterized as follows:

Classic (or common): Classic AKs present as white, scaly macules, papules or plaques of various thickness, often with surrounding erythema. They are usually 2–6mm in diameter but can sometimes reach several centimeters in diameter.

Hypertrophic (or hyperkeratotic): Hypertrophic AKs (HAKs) appears as a thicker scale or rough papule or plaque, often adherent to an erythematous base. Classic AKs can progress to become HAKs, and HAKs themselves can be difficult to distinguish from malignant lesions

Causes

The most important cause of AK formation is solar radiation, through a variety of mechanisms. Mutation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, induced by UV radiation, has been identified as a crucial step in AK formation. This tumor suppressor gene, located on chromosome 17p132, allows for cell cycle arrest when DNA or RNA is damaged. Dysregulation of the p53 pathway can thus result in unchecked replication of dysplastic keratinocytes, thereby serving as a source of neoplastic growth and the development of AK, as well as possible progression from AK to skin cancer. Other molecular markers that have been associated with the development of AK include the expression of p16ink4, p14, the CD95 ligand, TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and TRAIL receptors, and loss of heterozygosity.

Evidence also suggests that the human papillomavirus (HPV) plays a role in the development of AKs. The HPV virus has been detected in AKs, with measurable HPV viral loads (one HPV-DNA copy per less than 50 cells) measured in 40% of AKs. Similar to UV radiation, higher levels of HPV found in AKs reflect enhanced viral DNA replication. This is suspected to be related to the abnormal keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation in AKs, which facilitate an environment for HPV replication. This in turn may further stimulate the abnormal proliferation that contributes to the development of AKs and carcinogenesis.

Ultraviolet radiation

It is thought that ultraviolet (UV) radiation induces mutations in the keratinocytes of the epidermis, promoting the survival and proliferation of these atypical cells. Both UV-A and UV-B radiation have been implicated as causes of AKs. UV-A radiation (wavelength 320–400 nm) reaches more deeply into the skin and can lead to the generation of reactive oxygen species, which in turn can damage cell membranes, signaling proteins, and nucleic acids. UV-B radiation (wavelength 290–320 nm) causes thymidine dimer formation in DNA and RNA, leading to significant cellular mutations. In particular, mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene have been found in 30–50% of AK lesion skin samples.

UV radiation has also been shown to cause elevated inflammatory markers such as arachidonic acid, as well as other molecules associated with inflammation. Eventually, over time these changes lead to the formation of AKs. Several predictors for increased AK risk from UV radiation have been identified:

Extent of sun exposure: Cumulative sun exposure leads to an increased risk for development of AKs. In one U.S. study, AKs were found in 55% of fair-skinned men with high cumulative sun exposure, and in only 19% of fair-skinned men with low cumulative sun exposure in an age-matched cohort (the percents for women in this same study were 37% and 12% respectively). Furthermore, the use of sunscreen (SPF 17 or higher) has been found to significantly reduce the development of AK lesions, and also promotes the regression of existing lesions.

History of sunburn: Studies show that even a single episode of painful sunburn as a child can increase an individual’s risk of developing AK as an adult. Six or more painful sunburns over the course of a lifetime was found to be significantly associated with the likelihood of developing AK.

Biopsy

A lesion biopsy is performed if the diagnosis remains uncertain after a clinical physical exam, or if there is suspicion that the AK might have progressed to squamous cell carcinoma. The most common tissue sampling techniques include shave or punch biopsy. When only a portion of the lesion can be removed due to its size or location, the biopsy should sample tissue from the thickest area of the lesion, as SCCs are most likely to be detected in that area.

If a shave biopsy is performed, it should extend through to the level of the dermis in order to provide sufficient tissue for diagnosis; ideally, it would extend to the mid-reticular dermis. Punch biopsy usually extends to the subcutaneous fat when the entire length of the punch blade is utilized.

Histopathology

On histologic examination, actinic keratoses usually show a collection of atypical keratinocytes with hyperpigmented or pleomorphic nuclei, extending to the basal layer of the epidermis. A “flag sign” is often described, referring to alternating areas of orthokeratosis and parakeratosis. Epidermal thickening and surrounding areas of sun-damaged skin are often seen. The normal ordered maturation of the keratinocytes is disordered to varying degrees: there may be widening of the intracellular spaces, cytologic atypia such as abnormally large nuclei, and a mild chronic inflammatory infiltrate.

Specific findings depend on the clinical variant and particular lesion characteristics. The seven major histopathologic variants are all characterized by atypical keratinocytic proliferation beginning in the basal layer and confined to the epidermis; they include:

Hypertrophic: Notable for marked hyperkeratosis, often with evident parakeratosis. Keratinocytes in the stratum malphigii may show a loss of polarity, pleomorphism, and anaplasia. Some irregular downward proliferation into the uppermost dermis may be observed, but does not represent frank invasion.

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First Coffee for 18 Months…

This morning we sat down at an alfresco table in the main square of our local town. On it was a discreet note saying please show your proof of vaccination before ordering. The young lady came up with her smartphone, scanned the QR codes and took our order. It was the first time we ordered anything at a café for 18 months. One still has to wear masks outside in busy town centres, when walking around. But there was no hassle, it was simple enough.

An older man tipped up and he loaded his proof of vaccination up on his smart phone and the lady had phone to phone interaction with him. There were two Brits sat nearer the café one of them with an aperitif at 10:30 AM.

Recently Ursula von der Leyen outlined a new EU semiconductor initiative in which the EU will work together to build semiconductor capacity. It is unwise to strategically depend on China and Taiwan for semiconductor chips. If China does to Taiwan what it did to Hong Kong the chip supply would dry up. The EU has all the skill sets necessary to design chips and run fabrication plants, FABs. There are some operational.

This graphic from the FT speaks volumes.

The USA let its allies down in Afghanistan.

The UK does not do any significant semiconductor production.

Australia has some semiconductor minnows.

I am concerned at the move outlined in the previous post.

I was sat in a nice square and my background processor was whirring away. I am not sure that the UK government really “gets” technology nor the scale thereof.

Hmnn..

The Elephant and Malalasekera

This afternoon we put up a batik Elephant given by G.P.Malalasekera’s daughter to the wife’s mother. She visted the family, from a modest Birmingham suburb, when he was High Commissoner for Ceylon in Great Britain 1963-1966.

I found this obituray in The Eatern Buddhist; Volume 6, (1973) pp 166-168 on JSTOR.

It speaks highly of him.

Is Knowledge Sectarian?

I’ll wager that there are not more than a few people on this planet who have a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics and over 50 peer reviewed science articles and who have successfully completed a foundation course in North American Indian and Runic shamanism.

I am still reading Le Chamanisme by Mircea Eliade which is a weighty tome and in French. I am about four fifths of the way through, and I am getting to learn some vocabulary that you won’t normally come across. In principle I am “qualified” to set up shop doing dream analysis, healing, shamanic journeying etc.. I have also just put some spirit vinegar, some water and some sodium chloride into the kettle. The latter decreases the pH by the common ion effect. The idea is to remove the calcium carbonate deposits.

For me knowledge in not sectarian.

When I first started the course on shamanism, the people when they found out my background, were very suspicious of my motives for being there, even when I told them that one of my maternal relatives was allegedly a witch. I suspect that many of my science contacts would have thought me a bit of a fruitcake. At this level, yes “knowledge” is sectarian.

In my prior incarnation as a science academic, I have met physicists who have thought themselves better, purer and perhaps brainer than chemists. So even at this level there is a measure of sectarianism. Physics is pure, chemistry is dirty.

Reading the thesis I found the other day, I noted to myself that I really have very little idea what goes on in social sciences, history, even biology at universities. My ignorance is large. When I used to do tutoring for UK Grad for Ph.D. students from all disciplines, I ran a session on careers in academia. Because I am very informal there were no taboos. These were well attended, and I was amazed at how hard it was for not scientists and engineers to get funded for their research. I was fascinated by the stories of some of them getting “white glove” only access to manuscripts. I really badly wanted to go along on one such visit. These people were in many ways more dedicated than the students I knew. Their theses took longer to complete. It wasn’t bang of a couple off papers’ worth of data, write a book and then done.

We don’t really know what goes on in other disciplines. Put me in an organic chemistry synthesis lab and I would not have a clue what to do. I would be more at home in a physics lab than a chemistry one. Someone once told me that doing a Ph.D. was about learning more and more about less and less. But these days much of the interesting science and the new frontiers lies at the interface between “disciplines” and the interface between length scales.

What struck me reading the accounts from over a hundred years ago was how much more interest in things other than the well-defined there was then than there are now. We can define ourselves as a scientist, have a degree of Doctor of Philosophy but be completely disinterested in philosophy and sacerdotal things.

We may show a highly sectarian and judgemental view of things New Age {for example} and we may do this without any exploration thereof. We may be prejudiced against before any inquiry.

Are we in fact by this kind of behaviour being retrogressive?

What about the interface between science knowledge and sacred knowledge?

It certainly does not smack of any renaissance or renascence…

I doubt knowledge itself can be sectarian, those holding it, in possession of it, can be sectarian in outlook.

Saw Some Zürich Number Plates…

On the way taking the bamboo to the tip today I saw a car with Zürich number plates. This is unusual we get a lot of VD, VS and the odd GE but this is the first Zürich plate I have seen. It makes sense for the francophone cantons to visit. Of course, most people from Switzerland are very adept at language.

Coincidence or thematic linkage to my dream?

I have been following the threads from the thesis which point at Annie Besant, Jiddu Krishnamurti and to Giordano Bruno. These naturally led also to Rudolph Steiner. I was astounded to learn that Steiner had given a series of talks a Penmaenmawr in 1923!! There were rumours that Besant was the reincarnation of Bruno and for a while Krishnamurti was touted as the voice of the World Teacher. Besant spoke on the subject of Bruno at the Sorbonne!!

I seriously thought about teaching in a Steiner school and later at one founded by Krishnamurti. I got close enough to have a pre-interview interview at the Steiner school. It was a tad freeform for my liking, but the people were very nice.

It seems the theosophists played a major role in the promulgation of ideas and the promotion of education, several large auditoria, including the Holywood bowl are down to them, apparently.

It seems wherever one goes the foibles of the human personality and interpersonal politics are to be found.

It has been interesting re-visiting these spaces.

Back at home…

The river has risen nearly three feet in under an hour and the runoff from Menez Bre will still be on its way here…chances are the bridge will be submerged before darkness falls.

It has been nice to have some thunder and lightning…

But please can you ease up on the rain for a bit?