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Dear Roice, Ben, Paul, Melanie, Sara, and Rob,

cc: file, Mom, Sara and Des, Lloyd and Luana Warner, Darrell and Nancy Krueger, Charles and Diane Cluff, and Claude and Katherine Warner, Forest and Amy Warner, Ivan and Chell Warner, and Eric and Renee Miner

Welcome to "Thoughtlets." This is a weekly review of an idea, belief, thought, or words that will hopefully be of some benefit to you, my children, with an electronic copy to on-line extended family members. Any of you can ask me not to clutter your mail box at any time.

"It must be Christmas time, or something else must be keeping everyone busy including me. There was a brief note from Chuck, and I have spent some time with with Paul and Roice this last week. Thought I would write briefly about some insights gained this week in a couple of different conversations.

Actually, it was about a week-and-a-half ago Roice and I were having lunch and into this real heavy discussion over a Subway sandwich, when he said, `Well, when I was in my prime, I could do that.' It doesn't matter what it was he could do, it is just so funny that a 22 year old, skinny as a rail athlete that works out almost every day, would talk about this time in the distant past when he was `in his prime.' It was a real insight to me to realize how we each preceive our own circumstance so differently from someone else who has more or different life experiences. Then Wednesday we had lunch again. We were talking about how small decisions can have big impacts. Roice was pointing out how you can't know what is going to happen, like how hard the design class he is just finishing up would be for him, and so how could he have avoided taking the class? The conversation continued, and I suggested that maybe there was just a difference between us in terms of our planning horizon. He was worried about the current semester and I think in terms of what will happen in 40 years. Without missing a breath, he said `No, Dad, you think in terms of the impact on eternity!' Guess I learned that it is awfully hard for someone worried about finals to communicate with someone who is not even in the same order of magnitude, relative to a planning horizon.

Then that evening I had a conversation with a friend and partner, Bill Bavinger, via the cellular phone from a roach motel in Dallas (where I had gone to give a talk for the Dallas Geophysical Society and to slip in a session at the temple in the morning). Usually I am gaining all of my insights from Bill, but this time he got me talking and we both learned something related to a project he is getting involved in called Ecocity Saville (a national directive in Spain to prototype a whole new kind of ecological city). He asked me to write it down, and I include it for your review and for a possible conversation topic during the Christmas trip to Colorado and to drop off Paul at the mission home in Utah.

These are a brief summary of some philosophical musings on patterns and design. A recent e-mail introduced the concept of a meme as "a piece of patterned information carried and expressed by a human brain." On view of patterns of thinking developed and carried on by differend cultures can be classified as spatial and tied to 1-D, 2-D, 3-D, and in information space N-Dimensions.

For instance, the Australian Aborigines' culture is characterized by 1-D song-lines. The song-lines are the trails across Australia that "belong" to a particular tribe. The trails are memorized as songs and passed from generation to generation. Song-lines can cross and they can overlap. The tribe's territory is the trail. They have no concept of land ownership in their "meme." Property boundaries to an Aborigine are like someone in flat land recognizing a sphere.

Western culture, to some degree, is based on the 2-D concept of topography. We divide the topography into 2-D territories and fence off our ownership. The music of the German masters can be tied to the topography of their experience in frequency and amplitude. The Scottish songs and poetry reflect the rugged highlands, while Elizabethian music and literature mirror the rolling hills and pastoral grasslands of England. Modern rock music has the beat and chaotic tempo found in the topography of our modern cities. Sure, there are other factors affecting modern culture, but the 2-D surface we daily view and walk across is a basic defining factor in our "meme."

A synergistic culture is evolving today ( based on the freedom to move in 3-D. We have had scuba type equipment and submarines for over a centuary. We have had airplanes and helicopters for 85-50 years. Science is introducing us to the 3-D patterns in nature from the very small (electron-scanning microscopes) to the small (nuclear magnetic resonance [NMR] and positron emission tomography [PET-Scans]) to the human-scale (x-rays and computer-aided tomography [CAT-Scans] to the large (3-D seismic and potential field imaging) to the very large (telescopes, including the Hubble telescope). As we come to understand the interconnectedness of "things to act" and "things to be acted upon," our meme becomes three-dimensional. The ecological movement is a result of taking a wholistic view of natural environments and built form. It seems a natural extension of this thinking that we are going to use information based thinking to conceptually design new kinds of environments. Cities that grow out of the geology of the region, with a sustainable union with the natural environment. As the human mind unravels an information-based understanding of natural processes over time, we create a 4-Dimensional meme, and literally come to know the mind of God."

I'm interested in sharing weekly a "thoughtlet" (little statements of big thoughts which mean a lot to me) with you because I know how important the written word can be. I am concerned about how easy it is to drift and forget our roots and our potential among all of distractions of daily life. If you ever want to download any of these thoughtlets, they are posted at or you can e-mail me at

With all my love,
(H. Roice Nelson, Jr.)

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Copyright © 1996 H. Roice Nelson, Jr.