A phosphene is an optic phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. Phosphenes can be directly induced by mechanical, electrical, or magnetic stimulation of the retina or visual cortex as well as by random firing of cells in the visual system. Phosphenes have been reported by meditators and people who go for long periods without visual stimulation (also known as the prisoner’s cinema).

The most common phosphenes are pressure phosphenes caused by rubbing the closed eyes. The pressure mechanically stimulates the cells of the retina. Experiences include a darkening of the visual field that moves against the rubbing, a diffuse colored patch that also moves against the rubbing, a scintillating and ever-changing and deforming light grid with occasional dark spots (like a crumpling fly-spotted flyscreen), and a sparse field of intense blue points of light.

Pressure phosphenes can persist briefly after the rubbing stops and the eyes are opened, allowing the phosphenes to be seen on the visual scene. Herman Helmholtz and others have published drawings of their pressure phosphenes. One example of a pressure phosphene is demonstrated by gently pressing the side of your eye and observing a colored ring of light on the opposite side, as detailed by Isaac Newton.

Another common phosphene is “seeing stars,” from a sneeze, a heavy and deep cough, blowing of the nose, a blow on the head or low blood pressure (such as on standing up too quickly or prior to fainting). It is possible these involve some mechanical stimulation of the retina, but they may also involve mechanical and metabolic stimulation of neurons of the visual cortex or of other parts of the visual system.

Phosphenes have also been created by intense, changing magnetic fields, such as with transcranial magnetic stimulation. These fields can be positioned on different parts of the head to stimulate cells in different parts of the visual system. They also can be induced by alternating currents that entrain neural oscillation as with trancranial alternating-current stimulation. In this case they appear in the peripheral visual field. Astronauts exposed to radiation in space report seeing phosphenes.


The Madrone is one of the Pacific north coast’s most beautiful trees. Although the Madrone is an evergreen tree it reflects the four seasons with true character, and it easily melds the seasons together in its smooth transition from one phase to another.

It forms large bunches of blossoms in the spring, like bunches of white grapes. Each blossom looks like a tiny white Chinese lantern. Later the new leaves start to bud and form, then the new bark grows a green layer under last years cinnamon-orange colored bark.

In summer, the older leaves turn a creamy yellow. Through the dry summer, they flutter to the ground during the infrequent warm gusts, leaving the tree with the bright evergreen color of new leaves. The bark curls that are shed in the summer are sometimes collected and used as tea.

In the fall of the year the Madrone berries ripen and become a favorite food of the Western Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Band-tailed Pigeon and Quail. Mule Deer also eat the young shoots when the trees are regenerating after fire.

The wood is sought for its heating capabilities during the winter, since it burns long and hot in fireplaces. It has become popular in the Pacific Northwest as a flooring material due to the durability of the wood and the warm color after finishing, and is also used in the construction of furniture.


Booker T. Jones is an instrumentalist, songwriter and arranger, best known for fronting the band Booker T. and the MGs. He has also worked in the studios with some of the most highly regarded artists of our time, earning him a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.

Jones was a child prodigy, playing the oboe, saxophone, trombone, and piano at school and serving as organist at his church. He attended Booker T. Washington High School with future stars like Isaac Hayes’s writing partner David Porter, and Earth, Wind, and Fire’s Maurice White.

Booker T. & the MGs are an instrumental R&B band that was influential in shaping the sound of Southern Soul and Memphis Soul. For many years, the official story was that the bandname The MGs was meant to stand for Memphis Group, not the sports car of the same name. However, this proved not to be the case, as musician and record producer Chips Moman, active in Stax Records when the band was formed, claims they were named after his car.

In June of 1967, they appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, alongside performers like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, and Jefferson Airplane. They were also later invited to play Woodstock, but drummer Al Jackson, Jr. was worried about the helicopter needed to deliver them to the site, and so they decided not to play.


The Mexicali Brass were apparently created by Crown Records, a subsidiary of the Bihari Brothers’ Modern Records, in order to cash in on the popularity of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and The Baja Marimba Band during the 1960s.

Teddy Phillips, the band’s leader, graduated from Oak Park River High School, where he had learned to play the sax in school band. After graduation, he toured with many bands and also worked in radio studio bands for both NBC and CBS

He formed his own band in 1944, the Teddy Phillips Orchestra, which played at local Chicago clubs until 1947, when he played the Aragon Ballroom. The band was a fixture there and at the Trianon and Willowbrook Ballrooms became the best known band in town. Curiously, his popularity came just as the Big Bands era was closing.

By the 1960s, he had transformed the band into the Mexicali Brass, a Las Vegas style Mariachi Band. During the 1970s, he continued performing with the band, and toured the USA briefly.


Bert Kaempfert was a German orchestra leader and songwriter. He made easy listening and jazz oriented records and wrote the music for a number of well-known songs, such as Strangers in the Night and Spanish Eyes.

He was born in Hamburg, Germany, where he received his lifelong nickname, “Fips”. He studied at the School of Music and was hired by Hans Busch to play with his orchestra before serving as a bandsman in the German Navy during World War II. He later formed his own big band, toured with them, then worked as an arranger and producer.

One contributor to Kaempfert’s music was guitarist-bassist Ladislav “Ladi” Geisler, who popularized the famous “knackbass” (crackling bass) sound, which became the most distinctive feature of many Kaempfert recordings. It is a treble staccato bass guitar sound in which the bass string is plucked with a pick and immediately suppressed to cancel out any sustain.

Tahitian Sunset was sampled extensively by the lo-fi dance artists Lemon Jelly as their track In the Bath.


Strong optimism, is the overarching mental state wherein people believe that things are more likely to go well for them than go badly. Compare this with the valence effect of prediction, a tendency for people to overestimate the likelihood of good things happening rather than bad things. It is the demonstrated systematic tendency for people to be over-optimistic about the outcome of planned actions.

Personal optimism correlates strongly with self-esteem, with psychological well-being and with physical and mental health. Optimism has been shown to be correlated with better immune systems in healthy people who have been subjected to stress. Martin Seligman, in researching this area, criticizes academics for focusing too much on causes for pessimism and not enough on optimism. He states that in the last three decades of the 20th century journals published 46,000 psychological papers on depression and only 400 on joy.

Popular culture has reflected the link between optimism and well-being with works like the fable “The Moth and the Star”, and Barack Obama’s speech and book, The Audacity of Hope.

A number of scholars have suggested that although optimism and pessimism might seem like opposites, in psychological terms they do not function in this way. Having more of one does not mean you have less of the other. The factors that reduce one do not necessarily increase the other. On many occasions in life we need both in equal supply.

Hope can become a force for social change when it combines optimism and pessimism in healthy proportions. John Braithwaite, an academic at the Australian National University, suggests that in modern society we undervalue hope because we wrongly think of it as a choice between hopefulness and naiveness as opposed to scepticism and realism.


An hippalectryon is a type of fantastic hybrid creature of Ancient Greek folklore, half-horse and half-rooster, with yellow feathers. The rooster half sports wings, the tail and the hind legs. The oldest representation currently known dates back from the 9th century BC, and the motive grows most common in the 6th century, notably on vase painting and sometimes as statues, often shown with a rider. It is also featured on some pieces of currency.

Roosters are a symbol of solar power that routs demons with its singing at sunrise. Horses, especially winged horses, are a funerary symbol as they guide the soul of the dead. The grotesque and ugly hybrid supposedly induced laughter, thereby driving evil away.

Aristophanes describes the hippalectryon as a yellow-feathered, awkward-looking creature. The appearance of the creature is consistent amongst the known artistic representations. A text attributed to Hesychius of Alexandria, mentions three different types of hippalectryons: a giant rooster; a giant vulture; and a creature close to griffins as painted on fabrics from Persia.

Hippalectryons are displayed almost exclusively on black-figure vases from Attica, and could constitute an alternative representation for Pegasus. Fantastic hybrids are a popular and common theme on archaic Greek sculpture and vases. Most hybrids appear to have reached Greece from the East, although no early representation of a hippalectryon in Egyptian or Middle Eastern art has yet been found. They have also been found on engraved stones from the Late Period of ancient Egypt.

An analysis of Aristophanes’ works suggests that it could originate from the Middle East, and the costumes worn by the people featured on potteries with hippalectryons seem to be Asian, though this particular point is a matter of debate.



Creative visualization refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one’s thoughts. It is the basic technique underlying positive thinking and is frequently used by athletes to enhance their performance. The concept originally arose in the US with the nineteenth century New Thought movement

One of the first Americans to practice the technique of creative visualization was Wallace Wattles who wrote The Science of Getting Rich published in 1910. In this book, Wattles advocates creative visualization as the main technique for realizing one’s goals, a practice that stems from the Hindu Monistic theory of the Universe that is subscribed to by the book.

Creative visualization is the technique of using one’s imagination to visualize specific behaviors or events occurring in one’s life. Advocates suggest creating a detailed schema of what one desires and then visualizing it over and over again with all of the senses. For example, in sports a golfer may visualize the perfect stroke over and over again to mentally train muscle memory.

In one of the most well-known studies on Creative Visualization in sports, Russian scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes in terms of their training schedules:

  • Group 1 = 100% physical training;
  • Group 2 – 75% physical training with 25% mental training;
  • Group 3 – 50% physical training with 50% mental training;
  • Group 4 – 25% physical training with 75% mental training.

Group 4, with 75% of their time devoted to mental training, performed the best. The Soviets had discovered that mental images can act as a prelude to muscular impulses.

Creative Visualization is distinguished from normal daydreaming in that it is done in the first person and the present tense, as if the visualized scene were unfolding all around you, whereas normal daydreaming is done in the third person and the future tense. The “you” of the daydream is a puppet with the real “you” watching from afar.

Visualization practices are a common form of spiritual exercise, especially in esoteric traditions. In Vajrayana Buddhism, complex visualizations are used to attain Buddhahood. Additionally, visualization is used extensively in sports psychology.


Illusory superiority is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others. This is evident in a variety of areas including intelligence, performance on tasks or tests and the possession of desirable characteristics or personality traits. It is one of many positive illusions relating to the self, and is a phenomenon studied in social psychology.

It is often referred to as the above average effect. Other terms include superiority bias, leniency error, sense of relative superiority, and the Lake Wobegon effect (named after Garrison Keillor’s fictional town where “all the children are above average”).

Illusory superiority has been found in individuals’ comparisons of themselves with others in a wide variety of different aspects of life, including performance in academic circumstances (such as class performance, exams and overall intelligence), in working environments (for example in job performance), and in social settings (for example in estimating one’s popularity, or the extent to which one posesses desirable personality traits, such as honesty or confidence), as well as everyday abilities requiring particular skill.

For illusory superiority to be demonstrated by social comparison, two logical hurdles have to be overcome. Some psychological experiments require subjects to compare themselves to an average peer. If we interpret the average as the mean, then it is logically possible for nearly all of the set to be above average if the distribution of abilities is highly skewed. Hence experiments usually compare subjects to the median of the peer group, since by definition it is impossible for most of the set to do better than the median.

A further problem in inferring inconsistency is that subjects might interpret the question in different ways, so it is logically possible that a majority of them are, for example, more generous than the rest of the group each on their own understanding of generosity.


A magic circle is circle or sphere of space marked out by practitioners of many branches of ritual magic, either to contain energy and form a sacred space, or as a form of magical protection, or both. It may be marked physically, drawn in salt or chalk, for example, or merely visualised. Its spiritual significance is similar to that of mandala and yantra in some Eastern religions.

There are many published techniques for casting a circle, and many groups and individuals have their own unique methods. The common feature of these practices is that a boundary is traced around the working area. Some witchcraft traditions say that one must trace around the circle deosil three times. There is variation over which direction one should start in. In Wicca a circle is typically nine feet in diameter, though the size can vary depending on the purpose of the circle, and the preference of the caster.

Circles may or may not be physically marked out on the ground, and a variety of elaborate patterns for circle markings can be found in grimoires and magical manuals, often involving angelic and divine names. Such markings, or a simple unadorned circle, may be drawn in chalk or salt, or indicated by other means such as with a cord.

The four cardinal directions are often prominently marked, such as with four candles. In ceremonial magic traditions the four directions are commonly related to the four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel or the four classical elements, and also have four associated names of God. Some varieties of Wicca use the common ceremonial colour attributions: yellow for Air in the east, red for Fire in the south, blue for Water in the west and green for Earth in the north, though these attributions differ according to geographical location and individual philosophy.