Saturday, December 15, 2012

Honesty

How much do we compromise our honesty because of our fear of confronting the consequences of the truth? In the honesty episode we watched a clip about young children lying about their disobedient actions. They looked behind them when they were told not to. Out of fear of being reprimanded some of them lied, and created a cover story. Hopefully as we age, our experiences will lead us to conclude that hiding from unsavory realities by lying does nothing more than postpone and compound the inevitable repercussions of our actions. Yes, it is possible to keep a lie spinning till the day you die, or even far beyond, but what kind of life would that be? If your goal in life is to reach your greatest potential, honest certainly seems to be a key ingredient. If your goal were to be to climb Everest, what good would it do to lie about the weather?

(I have to be honest, I don't know if I made that analogy up or not.)

As I look back at the times I lied, I shake my head. I may have gained a few dollars, or avoided a day or two in detention, or perhaps a bad grade in History class, but as I break these things down I begin to see flaws in my logic? The case with the History grade stands out in particular. When given the chance to grade my own test, I was very liberal with my interpretations of the answers. I falsely represented my own understanding of the course material. Why? Because I wanted to appear to "get it". I didn't want to seem dumb, or fall behind the rest of the honors class, even though in reality I was. Now I look back and think, who cares? Why even lie about that? But in that moment, fear of appearances drove me to lie. Then later in life, when the real world tested my knowledge of the civil war, I failed. Perhaps back in school, if I were honest with myself, I would have gone back and learned the stuff I was expected to know, or at least settled for an appropriate grade.

Honesty in friendship can be tough on a different level. Sometimes we soften the truth in attempts to salvage the friendship, or sometimes we straight up lie. After all, who is going to tell their friend that they need to loose weight? A true friend, that's who! I think the level of honesty you can maintain with your friends defines the quality of that relationship. I admit, you're not going to say to a new friend, "put down that Twinkie, fatty!", but you might say it to someone you have established a certain closeness with, that can handle a little intervention. My best friends have told me, on several occasions, I have glaring character flaws. Sure, it still stings to hear things like, "dude, you need to shower more.", but I know it comes from a place of good will.

Is it easier to be blunt with strangers? This certainly would explain trolling on the internet, but is that really helpful. There are countless talk shows that display public interventions. Dr. Phil makes a living at telling it like it is. Can it be constructive criticism when there is so little invested in the relationship between troll and trollee? Of course I'm not calling Dr. Phil a troll, but these types of relationships are similar. How much do we listen to advice strangers? I suppose when they have the title of Dr. next to their name that adds a little but of stock to their words, but ultimately how much are you going to care if you hurt your Dr.'s feelings, over those of your best friends?

On the other hand, how much easier is it for us to be honest with people that know how to forgive? Sometimes we don't know how people will respond to the truth, until we test it out on them. I know I can be honest with wife because she know's I'm human. She forgives a lot. There is a threshold however, I know the lines I should not cross, but with things like spending too much on shoes, I know I can tell her and move on. I don't have to live in fear of her discovering my hidden Air Jordan's. I value that in our relationship. I hate walking on eggshells with people, and I don't have to with her, or my  close friends.

Now, on a closely related topic. I want to share this bonus clip from the episode that didn't get played about facts. In school, we hear all sorts of facts. How often do we call B.S. on them and dig deeper on our own? Are you a fact checker?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

American History & Elections

Although I scored an A- in my American history college class, I hardly remember everything from it. There is a certain etchaschetchyness to my brain that has let so much of my college education vanish into the shaken sands that is my memory. Unfortunately my student loans do not do the same.  However, as history classes throughout my life repeat themselves I remember the more famous bits of history thanks to that repetition. One thing in particular that seemed to repeat each time was the Lincoln Douglas debates. As much as I enjoyed watching all of the debates this election year, I so wish I could have witnessed those 7 debates. According to the famous historian wikipedia, "The format for each debate was: one candidate spoke for 60 minutes, then the other candidate spoke for 90 minutes, and then the first candidate was allowed a 30-minute 'rejoinder.' " I can't imagine talking for a solid 90 minutes. I could barely speak for 60 about Star Trek, with 5 different youtube clips to break it up.

I suggest you check out the wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln–Douglas_debates
the thing that struck my interest was how the different news papers spun their bias by editing out errors for their perspective guy. It's not like it could be broadcast live. Even if it could we still have that pesky thing called editing. One thing you could do, in this case, was just buy both newspapers and you would have both unedited versions of the debates. Unfortunately watching Fox News and then flipping over to MSNBC does not yield two halves of the unadulterated truth. I admit, technology today has its perks, you can watch all the debates in their relatively unadulterated forms, but when it comes to the rest of the electoral process, much of what we see is pageantry, pandering, and another clever p word I'll think of later.

I received an email from one of the Joshes about how the electoral process has become like a great big video game, much like my Halo and Red vs Blue analogy! I think this video encapsulates the point I was trying to make but with much more evidence and clever editing... a fair and balanced kind of editing.




Thanks Josh! I don't feel like I know the truth of either of these people, we get biased soundbites and snippets of their past. I guess it would be impossible to really see an unbiased complete history of these men, as it would be more impossible to see an unbiased complete history of the world.

It would be awesome to have the time and resources to see how the history of the world really played out. That is what I hope will take up the first 10,000 years of the afterlife, a 10,000 year long Ken Burns style documentary including all the free heavenly popcorn you can eat. I guess even Ken Burns documentaries have some bias to them, but you get the point. I do have a lot of respect for historians, archeologists, sociologists, and all the other pros who are dedicating their life work to uncover history.  

Much of history was written by the people who have had the most power throughout all the ages who have had the resources to change and manipulate history as they saw fit. Maybe this is why I like wikipedia so much, it sort of levels the historian playing field in a way. As technology improves, and we have more people documenting life, the quality of history will improv, or maybe everyone will just get really good at editing and we'll have 7 billion different versions of history for our future generations to sort through.

One semi unrelated thing I wanted to point out was that sometimes I say things that I think are coming off as sarcastic, but I forget to tell my voice to over exaggeration, and as a consequence there may be many of you who think I really do base my vote on how my dad votes, that is only 95% true. And pulling off 5% sarcasm takes an incredible subtlety that I've not yet mastered, but I'm working on it. My dad and I do disagree on about 5% of political issues. So thanksgivings are relatively nice.  I hope yours was too. I think the reason for this is mostly based on proximity of perspective. We have had similar world views, but there is a large generation gap, I went to a more liberal college than he did. As I get older my view of things differ  more and more from the generation before me. It intrigues me to think how the people 20 generations back saw the world. Most generation gaps through history haven't  been effected as much by technological growth as in recent history. The way our future generations will see the world is going to be mind blowingly different than how we see things today. I'm jealous.




Monday, November 12, 2012

Global Warming

When Al Gore invented the internet, he must have been planning to use it to raise awareness and fight against global warming. That is why I am using the internet, but is the case for global warming as clear cut as scientists have been claiming? Sure, they can point to evidence like shrinking glaciers and rising CO2 levels in our atmosphere, but do they really believe that the smartest life forms on planet Earth are dumb enough to commit matricide? Of course not, we are way too smart for that. We are simply playing chicken with ourselves because we are also the most insecure life forms on the planet, or perhaps we just hate change.

So what is the solution? My crack research has lead me to some out of the box ideas that I think might just work. One person, on yahoo answers suggested we distribute fans around the world and turn them all on at the same time. Perhaps in theory this could work but I believe that would only consume vast amounts of electricity with no net loss in temperature, but if everyone were to jump at the same time we may knock the Earth out of orbit just a tad, thrusting us further away from the Sun thus cooling us off via orbital loosening like that of a portly man's belt after a Thanksgiving feast. We only have so many notches on the orbital belt however, we don't want to accidentally run into Mars or leave the "goldy lox zone".

So what about practical solutions? I took an engineering class in college on global sustainability. We brainstormed several ideas on how to reduce our carbon footprint through smarter designed cities built around foot traffic, green energy, improving our consumption habits, and other non jumping based solutions. It was a great class, until the day the professor wore his NASCAR hat to class and admitted it was an ironic guilty pleasure. Not nearly as masculine as my guilty pleasure, blow torching glacier melting! Admit it, you would jump at the chance to blow torch a glacier, think of the great monuments we could sculpt out of the polar ice caps, or better yet an ice hotel, move over Easter Island heads!



After a week in this hotel, you'll be asking why this whole global warming thing is taking so long! In conclusion, don't be dumb, do your part. Re fill your big gulp cup at least once! I'm a hypocrite on that one. Thank you!

 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Star Trek / Sci Fi Philosophy

I feel like I have already spoken enough about Star Trek in 2012, the 60 minute challenge was completed, and really all I had left to talk about was how some of the characters walked kind of funny and how the captains adjusted their suits way to over dramatically when they stood up, so rather than beat a dead horse again, I want to move on and tie in another work of science fiction that we focused on in that class I mentioned during the Star Trek episode, Philosophy in Science Fiction. The course forced me to go back and really think about a hand full of movies that I had taken for granted as a pubescent teenager. One in particular was the movie "A.I." or "Artificial Intelligence".

I wrote extensively on that film, in particular about the theme of the living and the dead. Many of you may know that the film was started by Stanley Kubrick, but he died during the making of the film, so Steven Spielberg completed it. I feel like this was oddly reflected in the major them of the film. The following was my final paper for the class. I exceeded the professors expectations with the paper, I think because he took me out into the hall, I thought to lecture me, but it was to congratulate me on a job well done. That was a first for me and it gave me the confidence to speak up more in class without gulping or swallowing weird. I've had many a gulp filled comment in that class prior to the paper, so hopefully it can work it's charm once again and cure my hatch gulps, assuming the professor comes back from space, reads this paper, and takes me outside the hatch to say nice paper!


The Living and the Dead
In “Artificial Intelligence”

We see in the film, “Artificial Intelligence” many examples of the close relationship between the living and the dead. We see this multi-layered relationship throughout the story of David, the robot protagonist. It is a universal concept that all living things must feed off of things that once lived. We must eat dead organisms to gain nutrients to remain alive. This is true on an artistic and cultural level as well. Another reason the living need the dead is simply a matter of a limited supply of natural resources. If the living never died there would be no room for new life. This is another theme of the film. One other relationship the living share with the dead in this film is emotional. Characters sometimes react to death with mourning and melancholia. The main goal of this paper is to show how “Artificial Intelligence” is a story about how death is a crucial part of life, and more of a transformation rather than simply the end of one’s existence. That one must die or at least be able to die in order to truly live.
The opening sequence takes us through a brief history of the apocalypse. We are shown a vast sweeping glance across the flooded Earth as the narrator calmly explains what we are seeing. His voice is reverent almost mournful. This helps to set the tone for the film. The camera shows us the physical frame of the world as the narrator tells us the historical frame. We see this two part framing again later in the story as we are introduced to a new stage of the apocalypse. The camera sweeps along a frozen world of Manhattan with a new form of life flying along the landscape with us in their ships. They are archeologists, there to observe the dead. They chip away at a past world covered in ice.
This chipping away at the ice is a metaphor of the journey or coming to life story of the robots of this film, particularly David and Joe. When they are first introduced to us they are cold, mechanical, and run strictly by protocol. As the story progresses that coldness is chipped away. In an early scene Joe walks into a room to carry out his duty as a digital prostitute. Up until this moment he seems innocent to the fact that he is causing any harm to those he is programmed to serve. When he finds a woman he is programmed to serve is dead, lying on the bed, he shutters. The husband is in the room with them and tells her to remember that she killed him long before he killed her. He knows Joe hears this, but acknowledges Joe’s inherent innocence as he takes no revenge on him. He simply asks, “How many seconds has it been?” He sees Joe as a just a glorified stopwatch, and leaves him be. After that moment, the death of a woman he slept with, he becomes more aware of the consequences of his actions. He learns accountability, becomes more human, more alive.
David’s journey is similar. He is a different type of love mimicking robot. His very existence is in reaction to a death of Professor Hobby’s son. His development came years after the initial development of artificial intelligence. This came after the apocalyptic flood, one that killed off hundreds of millions of humans. Death, limited resources, and the need for mechanized labor spawned the creation of robots in the world of this film. David’s model came after many upgrades in technology and many generations of artificial intelligence. Professor Hobby created David to match his son’s appearance and likely his personality. If the real life version of David never had died, the new version of David would have never been created or needed. David is later programmed to love a grieving mother named Monica. David’s services are rendered as she attempts to replace the loss of her son due to an uncured disease. She does this by reading a specific sequence of words, a code that initiates his child like love programming. The need for David’s services, as far as his initial design, is shattered the day the sick boy, Martin recovers. Since he does not die, David becomes a pending second child.
David can not compete with the original biological child, as we see in a heart wrenching sequence. Martin sees David as competition. Like the jealous husband, Martin see’s that the one’s he loves have attempted to replace him. Unlike the jealous husband, he does assign the blame to the robot. Perhaps this is because he lacks an adult perspective and can not justly analyze the situation. He is too innocent to recognize the actions of his parents as a type of temporary abandonment. As we see it, Martin comes back to life after his parents have considered him as good as dead. Martin responds by putting David in his place. He talks to him like he would any robot. He asks “what can you do?” He compares him to his old toy Teddy and even mocks him at the dinner table by showing him how to eat. David becomes fed up with the rivalry and attempts to eat as well. This causes his face to distort as though he were having a stroke. As we cut to the next scene we get a shocking reminder that David is a robot. The technicians have his abdomen opened up as they vacuum up the spinach. They give him a nickname as they clean him, “Robo boy” as if they are attempting to comfort a real boy. He is their creation so maybe they feel he does have sentiment.
David is ultimately rejected by his programmed mother. He is let go by Monica because he proves to be a threat to their real son’s life. The scene where David grabs on to Martin for protection is full of metaphorical imagery. The boys are shirtless, so we see that David fits in superficially. One boy even comments on how real he looks. When David pulls Martin into the pool with him he initiates a type of baptism. Baptism symbolizes death, burial, and rebirth. David seems to fall to the bottom, motionless, while Kevin struggles to break free. Martin is pried free by people who care for him, while David is left for dead at the bottom of the pool. We never see how he gets out. This scene is mirrored towards the end of the film when David is once again buried underwater. Again he is left for dead, entombed in ice and metal. This time he is preserved in an amphibian police aircraft as a type of metal and glass casket. It is quit appropriate for a robot, opposed to having a casket made of wood or anything else organic. If we look back earlier in the film we see Martin in a similar metal and glass tomb. This is one where he too is buried alive and frozen, also awaiting an advancement in technology. In both cases they are brought back to life by eager hands.
This film uses mirroring over and over, visually as well as thematically. One scene that shows a mirroring in behaviors is when David returns to Manhattan. Just like Martin, he returns home believing that he is an only child only to find another child, another David. The protagonist David says “you can’t have her.” He takes a lamp and beheads his competition. Of course he doesn’t realize that the other David has no intentions of competing for Monica’s love. He doesn’t realize that in that way he is unique, that he is the only David emotionally tied to Monica. All he see’s is a room stocked full of replicas of himself, mirror images, competition. Professor Hobby tries to help David understand how he really is special, being the first of a kind. But even Professor Hobby knows that his real son can not be replaced by his replica. These series of events kill David’s innocence. But within the same scene he is born again.
David is born again as he relives his birth. He walks up to a copy of his face held by a machine by a chair he glimpses through the eyes up at the “Bird” he drew for Martin. The bird he saw as his first memory. This imagery is mirrored not too much later as he pulls the police amphiblicopter up to the blue fairy. Her eyes overlap his in the reflection of the windshield. He rests there and begins to pray. He becomes entombed there with Teddy after the Ferris wheel collapses. First the floodlights die out. Then he is left praying in the dark, hoping to be transformed into a real live boy. He doesn’t try to escape. He is exactly where he wants to be, pending in a glass coffin, reflecting the scene with Martin. But in Martin’s scene the lady on the outside was praying for him to live.
We should also look briefly at the flesh fair. This scene brings up death in a new light. In fact the scene is lit up quit dramatically. It is a celebration, but of what, life or death, or both? It is called a flesh fair, but they are burning and melting metal. So do they consider these machines to be flesh, or is it an ironical name for a brutal event? The stadium is a coliseum reflecting the brutality of those of ancient Rome. We see gladiator types, chopping robots in half, and bike riders with lions on their helmets. All of this with a heavy metal band accompanying the destruction. One line of dialogue stands out, given by a captured robot. He explains to David that they are doing this “to maintain numerical superiority.” The Orga need the Mecha to die so they can remain domineers. Since the life expectancy of a mechanical life form is so much greater than an organic life form, they must be destroyed in order keep that balance.
This film brings up another important relationship between the dead and the living. Without the living, the dead would have no means to leave their legacy. There would be no “enduring memory of all man kind” without David. David carries with him memories of human art, music, and culture. The new life forms that dig David up 2000 years after his burial say that he is unique in all the world. They say that humans may hold the meaning of existence because of their abundance of culture, music, and art. Now David is the one who can not be replaced. So these new life forms give him whatever he wants. They want him to be happy. They need him to be happy. They recognize a need for him to not just exist, but to live…to become fulfilled. And so they bring back from the dead the one person who can provide that, his mommy. After she fulfills her purpose she dies again, and David goes “to the place where dreams are born.” The lights in the room go out and the film fades to black. The story dies, and the audience can then return to their other lives, but with new incites. The film gives us a few moments to mourn at the end. The music helps the transition as familiar scores allow us to relive moments from the film, until finally we are expected to move on. But can we? We are but another layer of reflection of this film, as we write and discuss the themes within, we perpetuate the them and give them enduring life.
“Artificial Intelligence” gives us several examples of characters that must, on some level die before they can really live. The film itself is a symbol of a life. It fades from black, goes through many stages of character development, and then fades back to black at the end. By featuring mechanical life forms as its protagonists this film makes us ask, what does it mean to be alive? Joe tells David “I am. I was.” He certainly made an impact in the world he participated in. A woman is now dead and a jealous husband too. But he also made it possible for David to come to a greater understanding of his reality. The more a being is aware of reality the more real they become. It took the deaths of millions for David to be created and several more to fuel changes in the world around him in order to get him to the point where he could discover who he really was and to become sentient. David had to be kicked out of the nest in order to grow up. He had to learn that death was a part of life, and experience it first hand as he watched the one he loved die. That experience, having her tell him that she loved him followed by her death gave him the closure he looked to the blue fairy to provide. It wasn’t a blue fairy who really granted him that, but a blue alien projecting the blue fairy. Even at the end of the film David was not fully aware, but the end gives us hope. He has become more aware than he was when he was first built. Perhaps he would need to evolve somehow beyond his circuitry in order to reach a higher level of spiritual life. Much of human’s art, religion and culture claims that this evolution happens after death. You leave your mortal shell and move onto a new realm of existence. Ironically his prolonged life cycle only delayed his confrontation of death, and further progression. David, as far as we see, has not yet reached that point, he remains in his original physical form, but he has evolved to a point where he can now dream, and grasp more deeply what it means to be human, to be “a real live boy”. 

The End

If you read this whole thing and listened to the entire Star Trek episode you are probably the most amazing human on the planet and should win a prize or something. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Memory

I got so busy watching Star Trek that I forgot to write this blog. I want to keep this entry brief because I have fallen behind, but will offer up a quick lesson from my computer science class on memory. Basically all a computer needs is a place to write down bits of information in the form of ones and zeros, and then it needs to be able to read that information later. The brain, I gather, is more like making neural connections and forming stronger links the more information is used. Computer processors have cache memory and random access memory which are places the computer stores the more frequently used  information, like running applications, or recent calls lists.

What does a memory circuit look like? We'll here is what is diagram for a circuit, called an R-S Flip Flop, looks like. The tan shield thingies are Nor logic gates. I forgot what that means, but you should do what my TA in college told me to do, just Google it. OK, nor is short hand for not or, which is grammatically incorrect but logically sound. It means that if there is a positive charge or a live current, represented by a 1, sent through the gate, or latch, then a 0 or null charge will pass through the other side, then it will send that 0 signal up to the Reset side which will pass a 1 on through, and this is how a state, or a 1 or 0 is stored in your computer.


S stands for set, R stands for reset. The Q with a line over it is not Q, or the opposite of Q. In conclusion, Pete and re-Pete are in a boat, Pete jumped out and who was left?" Not Pete. Good night.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Expectations

A friend once told me, "If you lower your expectations, you will become disappointing a lot less." He is no longer my friend.

It hurts when you let somebody down. Especially when they are close to you. I remember being brought home by a cop with my sister in the middle of the night, after being caught toilet papering. My parents told us they didn't know when they could trust us again. That was pretty harsh, it made me sick to my stomach. I guess they didn't expected us to sneak out at night, and they were disappointed. I think they lowered their expectations after that because the next time I was caught past curfew, they almost shrugged it off like I was doing exactly what they expected me to do. I was confused by this power play, and made sure never got caught past curfew again, I was much more careful.

I remember when I first started out in comedy, the self help books taught me to play with people's expectations. Great fits of laughter can come from pulling the rug out from under someone. Later on in comedy I learned to look out for those who have caught on to certain formulas. Some fans of comedy are like master bobsledders, they can see where the sharp turns are coming. So playing around with their expectations takes more work and adaptability. Sometimes you have to take risks that don't pay off. Even the best quarterbacks get sacked on an audible from time to time. When risks works out though, it can pay off huge, like when the Saints made that successful onside kick to start the second half of the Superbowl a few years back, they went on to win the championship, and look where they are today!

I guess what I'm trying to say is, you don't want people to know what to expect from you. One way to do this is to always be improving and developing in new ways at a pace that surprises them. I suggest taking up a secret hobby, and when your significant other corners you about sneaking out in the middle of the night, set the bar low by telling them your running with a wild crew. Wait a few months until they're crying home to their mother about how big of a looser you are shock them with a neat quilt or something, "Ta-da!"

Now here is a picture explaining how a CPU works.



Next week I'll write about memory!




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wealth

I've never been very good with money. At age 10 I started my own candy store, but ate all my profits util I became hypoglycemic, and then the business evolved into a bulk candy machine business. I hoped to strike it rich 25 cents at a time, but the economy tanked in '08 and the market for stale candy dried up. I sold off a few machines and ended up giving the rest away when I moved to the big city. I think over the 10 years I had that business I netted 50 cents. I learned a very important lesson though, in that 10 years. I learned you can return half eaten bags of candy to Sam's Club for a full refund! (with a receipt)

My other big life investment was college, 150 plus credit hours worth. That was also a 10 year investment. I changed my major 3 or 4 times, but I took the classes that seemed interesting at the time. I never really approached school as a means to a degree. Instead, I treated college as a buffet of knowledge, and since I was getting grant money to pay for tuition, I never felt cheated when a professor ended class early. Ten years was a big chunk of my life though, especially considering I don't have a degree to show for it. If my school had a general studies degree, I'd actually be pretty close to being a real life doctor, or at least a master. I think a masters degree takes 180 credit hours? Maybe I should be thorough and research that. I do plan to get a degree eventually, I'm just holding out for an honorary degree from an ivy league university.

One big issue in the political races this year is the economy. I never took a class on economics, but I did find this clip on redistribution of wealth, and I watched most of it! Let me sum it up. Basically if all you have is a kiddie pool, no matter how much you slosh around in that pool, it will not increase the volume of liquid in the pool, but if you drank a lot of Kool-Aid you bought from a Kool-Aid stand that day... you see where I'm going with this? You can contribute more liquid assets to the pool by supporting small businesses.


I think we live in a world with enough resources to go around. Unfortunately, we haven't perfected a system to manufacture and distribute them all yet. The Star Trek universe has, but I'm holding onto that clip for another time. Until our world is more like Star Trek's, add what you can to the pool, be charitable with your wealth, be it a wealth of time, knowledge, or money.


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Apocalypse

I got a speeding ticket this week, and I got really depressed about it. Then I thought, eh it's not the end of the world. Then I started thinking about the world ending in apocalyptic fashion with pestilence, famine, bloodshed, death, and a war to end all wars, and that made me really depressed, and I realized there's really no point in paying that stupid ticket, and that made me smile.

This week I mentioned this "Toxoplasma Gondii Parasite Mind Control" article during the episode about the " parasite-controlled rats who were driven to hang around cat urine-soaked corners". I don't know if you could classify these as zombie rats, but the point is, something in their brains changed. Their natural instincts to avoid their common predator had changed. I guess the human equivalent would be storm chasers, hardly zombies. But storm chasers are probably the best suited type of journalists for the apocalypse.

I spent a lot of time studying zombies in video game school. Some of the best video games are based on a zombie apocalypse. Zombies are probably the easiest enemy to kill, strategically and morally. They are slow, and they want to eat your brains. Even if you do have a moral dilemma over killing them, you'll have a few minutes to mull it over as they stutter step towards killing you.

In school me and some fellow classmates made a short animated apocalyptic film. Its a genre mash-up, a post apocalyptic sit com, filmed in front of a live studio audience. We used the game engine from the classic zombie video game Half Life 2 to make the short. It even includes the voice talent of Wife. This is just the pilot episode.


Sadly, it was never made into a series.



 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Astral Projection

The one and only time I experienced something along the lines of astral projection was a complete bust. All I saw was my neighbor taking out his trash, but I saw it with amazing clarity, much more so than any with dream I'd ever had. The colors of the sky and the leaves were completely saturated and extremely aesthetically pleasing. So I guess it wasn't a complete bust. I just felt like if it were a movie, I would have asked for my money back. Then again perhaps there was a deeper meaning to this simple scene. Maybe I needed to find the trash in my own life, and throw it out. I had been eating a lot of frozen pizzas at the time.

I have a high level of anxiety when it comes to having these types of experiences. I've always felt like, if my mind was opened up to visions of the world events, I'd be held to a higher level of accountability and I would just want to bury my head in the sand. Just like if I had spider sense, I'd get sick of it going off all the time, and probably move somewhere quite, like moon. I feel like the point of astral projection is to expand your consciousness by having first hand out of body experiences. I guess that wouldn't be first hand. I like the idea of flying around and observing things like on a magic carpet or something. I never had much exposure to the idea of astral projection growing up. I blame my early misunderstandings of astral projection on this scene from Ace Ventura 2.



The concept of a spiritual realm has evolved throughout the centuries. One interesting thing I read, on the Astral Plane page of Wikipedia, is that the concept of heaven evolved once telescopes revealed no visible spirit realm in space. "Throughout the Renaissance, philosophers, ParacelsiansRosicrucians and alchemists continued to discuss the nature of the astral world intermediate between earth and the divine. Once the telescope established that no religious heaven was visible around the solar system, the idea was superseded in mainstream science." I always assumed heaven was thought to exist in a separate realm. It would be funny/scary as heaven if you could just look up at the sky through a telescope and see God staring back at you, waving his finger saying, your cheating!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Feminism

After my father became disabled, my mother picked up the roll of provider for our family. Despite dealing with severe arthritis, she worked for a few years teaching elementary school kids as a TA in the computer labs. She soon realized the wages of a TA were not going to be enough to retire on, so she went back to school to get her teaching certificate, and now she has a TA!

My mother's example pretty much shattered my expectations of a women's roll in a household. Before she became the bread winner, my little world just didn't have many examples of working mothers. As my friends and I got older, though many mothers in my neighborhood returned to work. This usually happened after the youngest kids started school. My mom said, she loved being a mother, and she got a lot of fulfillment out of it, but I've seen her also receive a great deal of accomplishment from going back to school, graduating with honors, and teaching her own classroom of kids. Anything that would have blocked her from doing any of that would have prevented our family from surviving.

I was also able to see my father flourish as a stay at home dad. He became quite the nurturer as me and my siblings got sick, and he showed a lot of patience when we were brought home by the cops. He also worked as much as he could from home. Most recently he has become a part time care giver for my gamma.

My point is, even in my own little world, in a family structured heavily by traditional religious values, the rolls each member played were not determined by gender, but by circumstance. I do think the default rolls were aligned more traditionally, but life sometimes throws us an audible. Oh, I watched a lot of football this weekend, but I promise, that will be the only football analogy I will use when writing about feminism...not that females don't like football, in fact the first female NFL referee, Shannon Eastin, was hired this season. Wikipedia can add Shannon Eastin's name right next to Susan B. Anthony's in the ranks notable women in the civil rights movement.


I really do think this is a cool step. Sure it's not going to get wife to watch football with me, but it does show a predominately male sport is taking steps to include women on the playing field, literally and figuratively. (That wasn't an analogy.)

Finally a bonus video from my extensive yet untapped research. This video discusses gender and leadership.





Gender and leadership is a fascinating subject. I'd like to do more research to compare and contrast how men and women lead differently in various scenarios. As for matriarchal societies, the Iroquois are the only ones I have researched, well unless you count this one from Star Trek TNG!




Thursday, September 6, 2012

Religious Upbringing

I was back at home last week visiting the family, so I put off the blog. That's how much they mean to me! Last week I wrote about projection, which applies to this week's topic as well. I think when you are younger you think everyone sees the world the same way or close to the same way as you do. Then you go to school and have a bit of a culture shock. I remember getting tackled after school one day by a boy who was outraged at his misinformed belief that all my people had for dinner each night was a slice of bread and milk. I informed him that Mormons were in fact allowed to eat hamburgers and such, and he let me out of my head lock. The next day I saw him at lunch, I pointed out the slice of pizza I was eating, and he gave me a thumbs up.

I wish misconceptions were still that easily overcome, or easily explained. Having listened to Tig, David, and Kyles' religious upbringing stories, as well as countless other friends' I feel like my religious upbringing is somewhat different. My family and my religious community seemed to focus in on the concepts of loving one another, respect of agency, and the pursuit of knowledge. The motivators they used were less about fear of eternal damnation, and more about reaching your fullest potential and strengthening the community. Of course there were a few bad apples, people who wanted to take advantage of people's trust, but the good people outweighed the bad, in my little world, so my experience with religion is more positive. I remember my father growing too sick to work, and our community stepped up and helped out. We knew the people who were helping us, and I think that allowed us to develop a closeness to them that government aid didn't seem to offer. This kindness wasn't limited to the actively religious members of our community, we had great neighbors, from many different walks of life, come to our aid in times of need, and we them.

I think we can do more to bridges and grow more understanding and tolerant of various beliefs systems, and ways of life. We often jump to conclusions, or judge people too quickly without really getting to the bottom of why they live a certain way or believe something that is seemingly bogus. Why would that boy be upset if all I ate was milk and bread? Maybe his father was a butcher and was going bankrupt due to lack of meat sales. I never asked, but I should have.

Sometimes we assume that people's actions or are motivated by of hate, or fear, or greed. I used to think my parents hated me because they never let me stay up to watch midnight movies. The truth is, they were thinking more about the big picture, they were older and wiser than me. If there is a God that really does have our best interest in mind, who has an ultimate perspective and is asking for our trust, would you give that type of God your trust? Now, I understand the complexity of adding religion to the equation. Trusting imperfect humans to relay a hypothetical God's plan takes an enormous amount of faith and scrutiny, especially in a world with 50 million different claims to what God wants you to do. For me, its like a big game of hot and cold. There are certain choices that lead me to greater joy, progress, or knowledge, and there are certain choices that cause damage to my joy, progress or knowledge, and I tend to listen to authors of advice that continually advise me to make the choices that help me grow. This is a long process of trial and error.

One last concession I wanted to make is, I know it is easy to be turned off by condescending or unsolicited advice. People who take pleasure in feeling superior to "sinners" or amateurs don't seem to realize their own hypocrisy. There's a scripture where Jesus makes a joke about people pointing out a mote in someone's eye while having a beam in their own.



How'd they fit a beam or a mote in their eye? That's pretty impressive. Well, at least I can recognize my own faults, which humbles me to a more exalted level of self awareness than the beam and mote guys.






Monday, August 27, 2012

Psychological Projection

I read somewhere that Sigmund Freud came up with the idea of psychological projection which explains why he thought every man had an Oedipus complex. It is easy to feel bad about having certain thoughts, but if used correctly, psychological projection can protect you from developing a negative self image. Case in point, Bill and Ted. If Freud can help these two history class failures save the world, imagine what he could do for you. If you haven't seen the film, then you have homework.



Since everyone thinks the same unsettling thoughts, you really shouldn't feel that bad about having them, right? I mean, why feel guilty for having the sudden urge of taking more ketchup packets than you could ever possibly use on that meal. Sure this is a slippery slope to kleptomania, but its a slope we have all dreamed riding down. And what is guilt anyway, but a nagging self destruct mechanism of true narcissistic glory. Take that extra ketchup packet and place it under the tire of your annoying neighbors Lexus. 

Besides alleviating guilt, projection can also be useful when suggesting an artist or TV show. For example, If you like Star Trek, then you loooove Doctor Who. If you don't then you are only lying to yourself and you really should give it another chance. I know I know, you only like things you discover on your own. So this is what you do, forget I suggested it, buy a copy of the DVD, then stash it in a box of junk and wait five years. Then the next time you move you will discover it on your own, then make sure never to watch the movie Inception again.

By the way, here is that Star Trek clip projection that was totally under appreciated.


This clip made me think about how much projection goes into acting, as I'm sure it did for you as well. We have all taken acting classes before, and in mine I recall certain exercises where we would have to project a given character's thoughts into our minds using the subtext. However, being such a strong minded actor, I would project my mind onto the character's, thus bending the will of the character to my own. When you can do that, it isn't acting anymore, it is being! And this is why I don't do impressions. I fear the impressions would try and take over my mind, and I will never let that happen. I don't even dress up for Halloween.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Olly Olly Oxen Free

If you played hide and seek as a kid, you probably heard the chant, "Olly Olly oxen free if you don't come out you'll be I T."  No one has traced the origin of this phrase or any of it's variations back to anything cool. There never were a group of heretics hiding from a Greek god, Hidensekius, who cried out to all his oxen to join his manhunt. The boring truth is that kids simply augment the way in which they declare hide and seek truces. Some yahoo answers state, the chant was originally worded as,"All come in, all are free". Well, who wants to yell out that mouthful of mediocrity? Kids are always outdoing one another, and you know that out there somewhere, is a kid who quit cleverly rhymed the word free with pee. As is "Olly Olly oxen free, Steve went inside to take a pee." Ok that was me, and let me tell you, it killed, I didn't have to be it for a year after that!

I suppose this morphing phrase can show us how languages can evolve in the absence of a written standard. This is a game passed on from generation to generation without the need for any rule book, because it is so simple, the trade off is it's simple variations. I never moved during my childhood so I don't know how the game was played outside of my tri block area, but once I visited my cousins in another state, and they had incorporated a can that you could kick! This one small change completely revolutionized the game for my entire elementary school.

Kids aren't the only ones who hide and seek though. As you are all innocently unaware, there are ninjas, spies, aliens, and other secrete magical creatures hiding in our midst. Some are hiding in plain site, as you can see with this vending machine soda pop ninja... possibly turtle.


If I were this guy, I'd at least have "an out of service" sign taped me. You know some jaded costumer is gonna start whaling on you sooner or later. I guess as a ninja you could take a beating for the cause, which I suppose in this case would be...market research?

The one variation of hide and seek I enjoyed most as youth was called beckony. If I recall the rules correctly, the seeker must find and call out each hidden one's name. They didn't have to tag you, but once called, you are sent to front porch prison where you could be rescued by another hidden person by grabbing their hand and running them to hide again, but if the seeker caught you doing this they could call out both your names. So it was risky. The game got it's name because, when on porch prison, you would yell out "beckony, please save me." Many childhood romances were formed and dissolved during the course of these games. Kids would refuse to save their brand new girlfriends and you could say Olly Olly oxen free to that budding relationship.





  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Autism

Right after I graduated high school, I got a job at a group assisted living home with 6 men with various neurological disorders including autism. It was a very difficult job, emotionally. It forced me to see the world in a new light. I had just gotten out of high school, where my day to day worries included preparing for college, and stressing over all the girls who were fighting over me. I had no consciousness of this whole other world where day to day struggles included avoiding seizures, or arguments caused by missed social queues at fast food restaurants. The job was difficult at first, but the payoff was invaluable. These men shared a genuine glow, and an unbelievable level of trust and loyalty. And what was most admirable was that they didn't seem to care how the world saw them, which to me seemed so liberating.

I admit I only knew a very limited group of individuals with Autism, and that was also compounded with other neurological disorders. I guess one conclusion I can draw though, is that my prejudices were completely shattered, the way I saw the world changed forever in the most positive way, and I'm grateful for the time I worked with those men.

While researching autism spectral disorder (ASD), one of the first questions I asked was, what causes it? I was a little surprised to discover how much more work there was left to be done on answering this question. According to the website, clearing the fog about autism.org 

"Scientists aren’t certain about what causes ASD, but it’s likely that both genetics and environment play a role. Researchers have identified a number of genes associated with the disorder. Studies of people with ASD have found irregularities in several regions of the brain. Other studies suggest that people with ASD have abnormal levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters in the brain. These abnormalities suggest that ASD could result from the disruption of normal brain development early in fetal development caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how brain cells communicate with each other, possibly due to the influence of environmental factors on gene function. While these findings are intriguing, they are preliminary and require further study. The theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved. "

This was interesting to me, because I had heard that Autsim spectral disorder was possibly related to tourette's syndrome, a condition I dealt with in my early years. They may be similar in at least one respect. As treatment of tourette's syndrome, my doctor gave me medication to increase my serotonin, which helped make my twitches subside. Years later I'm off the meds and the luckily twitches have stayed away, but I still have low serotonin which causes some depression which I now self medicate with doing or watching stand up comedy or watching star trek.

So how is Autism treated? The same website goes on to say,

"There is no cure for ASD. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can bring about substantial improvement. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of individual children."

Like our guest Steven Yates (Green Circle Award Winner and loving father!) said, no two cases are exactly alike. As was the case with my tourette's syndrome, what worked to cure me probably would not have worked on another kid. It was a long process finding out which neural transmitters were low on, and my case was relatively mild. And other doctors told my parents that their treatment for me would have been completely differently so no one seems to agree on how to treat the brain!

Lastly, we touched on the aspect of prodigy-ism and autism. We tried to show the clip about the math wiz named Jake, which can be seen at professorblastoff.com. I realized a few days later that I had made a short film a few years back about a guy who was overcome with jealousy over his brother, who was a child prodigy. So I hope this is useful in some way. It took some digging.



Friday, August 3, 2012

Romantic Relationships

Al Gore, having invented online dating, has changed the dynamics of budding relationships forever. What did humans do before they had the safety of a digital firewall and the ability to Photoshop away 20 years from their profile pictures? I remember the day where you had to call a girl's home phone and pray her dad didn't pick up first. Now day's you don't even have to ask a father's permission to marry his daughter, but back then you had win her father's approval just so he'd hand her the phone just so you could ask her is if she was still mad at you about the joke you told during gym.

When I went to college, they told me that the western concept of romantic relationships was relatively new. There have been many different variables throughout history that have influenced the dynamic of relationship. They have been cultural, economical, sociological, religious, political, level of health...ical, you name it. Romance, in literature, has been around for centuries. The deep human desire for love and chivalry was there, but there was also a conflicting desire to keep the blood line in tact. As this clip explains. (The accents in this clip are a bit thick)


I feel rather privileged that my relationship was not forged out of a trade for farm land or a deal to strengthen family ties. I wonder how relationships will continue to evolve. Our digitized society has shaped how we approach romantic relationships in a unprecedented way. If you prefer face to face contact more than texting, you may get left behind. People you work with, that you thought about dating, may already know a lot about you from Facebook. Your online profile now serves as a sort of relationship resume, if you like the wrong political party, or worse, the TV show, you don't even have a chance to lie about it on a first date.

This brings me to a point I have made several times on the podcast. I love wife!


We had a short courtship, and we were both young, according to modern day standards, but we both had long laundry lists of love and our personalities, goals, and many other aspects matched up so miraculously and mathematically, that we really had no choice. I would write it all out in the form of first order differential equations and walk you through all the variables to prove that it was meant to be, but I don't want to bore you. I will say, the lightning in a bottle moment for me was a date where she caught me accidentally feeding her lasagna off a dirty plate, and she still stayed for dessert... Now that I think of it, maybe she just really really likes ice cream. However, the kicker was, we both agreed that the best seasons of the Simpsons were the ones with Conan as a staff writer, and when ever we have a fight we just pop in a Simpsons dvd.

Fast forward four years and we are still going strong, in fact we have grown so confident in our relationship that we have toned down our PDA in vacation photos considerably!





Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fame

When I was a kid my best friend explained fame to me. He said famous people have been sprinkled with pixie dust, and if you get close to them a little bit of their pixie dust rubs off on you.

As an adult I think of fame more as a numbers game. If you were to wash up on a deserted island, you would be the most famous person on that island. So who is the most famous person in the multiverse? Well I did some research on this. I had to call in a lot of favors to my buddies up in the 5th dimension, but I found the guy, well 8 billion quantum copies of the same guy. His name is Norm and he's famous for his vegan tuna casserole.

"Tuna Casserole, big deal!", you might say, but Norm is much more famous than anyone including the Beatles, not because of his charisma or even his contributions to the culinary arts, but because of simple calculus. As the sum of all universes that include a cable cooking show featuring Norm, approaches infinity, his level of fame also approaches infinity. Therefore his fame is limitless, if my application of limits is correct.

The function looks something like this   x represents one of infinitely many universes and the 2 is for how many people on average actually watch his show in all the universes. As you can see, 2 (the constant) could be any positive real number, meaning even if there were only an average of 1/10 viewers watching per universe, and there are infinitely many universes then the limit to his fame would still be infinite. Comment below if you're confused.

Norm however is an anomaly, in that he is consistently, albeit mildly, famous across every know universe in the multiverse. The point of all of this is that it is important to quantify and contextualize one's claim to any level of fame. That being said, consider John Lennon's response to the planet Earth's response to his claim that, statistically, the Beatles were more famous than Jesus. He claimed to be taken out of context. Which is ironic because not even he could "Imagine" the context or immensity of Norm's level of multiversical fame.


Even with actual footage of John Lennon's interview, his words were miss interpreted. Context is everything, but everything is hard to know, and even harder to interpret. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Now that every smart phone has a camera attached to it, we must all do our part in documenting everything. Big brother has enabled countless little brothers to record everything from paint drying to major regime changes. Unfortunately some little brothers never learned how to hold their cell phone horizontally while filming, and the aspect ratio gets thrown completely off. What's worse is when the phone glitches and you do turn it horizontally but the software doesn't know it and then you have to turn your head just to see some guy slip on a buttered floor. I also want to point out that cats haven't been this popular since agent Egypt. I predict a future cat hall of fame with golden statues of most viewed YouTube cats...perhaps a similar thing happened with the Egyptians, and cats weren't worshiped, they were just really really funny. 






This brings me to my final point, famous animal paparazzi! "Donald over here! Is it true you eat worms?"


For more on what ducks eat, click here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Clostridium Difficile

I've been doing some research for Tig on the Infection that put her in the hospital.  It is called Clostridium Difficile, or C diff for short, and it's some pretty nasty stuff. C Diff is an aggressive bacteria that crowds out and over populates your intestines. Among other symptoms, it causes inflammation of the colon and in extreme cases removal of part of the colon or death. It kills more than 14,000 in the United States every year and affects over 300,000. You are the most susceptible to catching it if you take antibiotics. Sometimes when you take antibiotics, good bacteria that protects against infections die. This can leave you vulnerable for months.






The spores that carry the disease live for months, and you have to use bleach to kill them. Normal cleaning supplies won't do it. I got most of my info from the Center of Disease Control's website. If you watch The Walking Dead you probably know the place I'm talking about.
Here is a cheesy yet informative video that talks more about C Diff.




I recently went shopping for Tig at some random heath foods store, I cried for her a little on the inside as I realized there was no ice cream on this list. This is what a survivor eats:
  • organic bananas (6 still a little green on top)
  • organic pink lady apples (3)
  • organic strawberries
  • organic blueberries
  • organic red cherries
  • organic red grapes
  • raw plain cashews
  • brown free range large eggs (6) call me and i'll help you w/this
  • organic avacado 
  • amy's organic soup- lentil and lentil veg -low sodium if possible (4)
  • large blue diamond almond breeze almond mild UNSWEETENED ORIGINAL (4)
  • hemp milk (2)
  • oat meal w/flax seeds
  • kombucha- green (6)
  • coconut water- (10) call me and i'll help you pick this out
  • and if you have some bags in your car, use those. if not, please don't let them double bag any of this.

thanks Aaron.


On a professional note, I didn't really need to call for help about the eggs, but did anyway just to be thorough. Also I'm proud to say, non of the groceries were double bagged.












Friday, July 13, 2012

Quantum Physics

Well the most expensive game of hide and seek may finally be coming to an end. Congratulations to the scientists at CERN, who were "it", for finding the Higgs particle. It was hiding in a 5 billion dollar particle accelerator, which is exactly where I would have hidden. So what is the Higgs boson? I hear its part of a vast field of bosons that determines a particle's mass. This discovery means we could possibly travel at light speed! (Follow this link.) If I understand this correctly, and I got an A in my physics of the universe class so I'm confident I do, this discovery may lead us to an amazing new weight loss exercise routine called a Higgs Jig. A dance that would essentially eliminate our mass by manipulating the Higgs field around us. And if you make something weightless, you make it easier to accelerate. So lets just say  for fun, if you had no mass you could essentially flick someone into outer space like a bugger, unless the bugger person would just pass right through you because they had no mass. Maybe you could just kept a thin shell of mass around them...ummm here's an expert explaining the Higgs boson.


OK so he said the Higgs field is like snow, and the top quark is like a snow boots guy who falls deep into the snow. Does that help? Because if it doesn't, in the last week I've heard 9 or 10 different analogies explaining the Higgs field. All the different analogies only made me more confused. One guy said the Higgs field is like a ping pong table and some balls (particles) bounce as higher than others, another guy said the Higgs field was like his fathers acceptance which was given freely to one son but withheld it from the other, and another man explained the Higgs field using a multi variable calculus equation, which of course was the analogy that finally drove it home for me

Moving on to my favorite form of research, TV. Watching Star Trek is how I first became interested in quantum physics. Well Quarks anyway.


I noticed Star Trek liked to pay homage to science by naming characters after cool sounding sciencey stuff like Data, Rom, Quark and uh Bones I guess. In turn, science has paid homage to Star Trek by leading us to devolop Star Trek technology, like automatic doors at grocery stores, iPads and maybe someday a transporter. Transporter is not a very cool sounding sciencey name for a device that beams you one particle at a time from one place to another at light speed, maybe it will be called something like a Particle Shatner. For more transporter stuff read this.


Lastly, the discovery of the Higgs boson might help to explain what all that dark matter is in the universe. I only bring up dark matter to say this. If dark matter tastes anything like dark chocolate, I say no thank you sir, unless there are almonds in it, then maybe... look, quantum physics jokes are never easy to pull off. I was tempted to end on a boson the clown bit or a two massless particles walk through a bar joke, but I wont. Your welcome.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Human Energy

I would love to prove the existence of a human energy field using the scientific method, but I just don't have the resources or the patience. I can only speak to my own experiences where I have applied trail and error in establishing a belief system, which is as unique to me as the experiences that shaped me. I admit, believing in the ability to heal someone by the use of prayer or Chi is a tough pill to swallow, and I am not one who dismisses the proven effectiveness of modern medicine or even horse pills. I only suggest that my own experiences have shown me strong evidence that having faith or a positive attitude can help the body heal a lot more efficiently. I also know that people without health insurance are much more likely to pray, because it is much less expensive, unless you are on a pay per pray program, and in that case I would recommend upgrading your service provider.

I think we are all skeptical in various degrees when it comes to things like human energy fields, Chi, or anything spiritual. The ideal for me is somewhere in the balance between skepticism and open mindedness. No one likes being taken advantage of, but there is a certain point where we have to put our trust in something beyond our comfort zone. The first time I ate a bagel and creme cheese for example, my siblings promised me it would taste delicious but I was very skeptical, probably because a week earlier they had poured pickle juice into my Kool-Aide. This gave me severe trust issues, but after a good amount of therapy from my mom I tasted a bagel for the first time and found that it was good.


Acupuncture is definitely one of those things that remain far outside my comfort zone, especially after hearing of people being left in a room for hours fully pinned and forgotten. I would much rather take neurotransmitter uptake inhibitors than lie in a bed face down and let a stranger poke needles in me. And not knowing how it would affect my nervous system worries me even more than having a rogue needle poking me in the face.



How do you measure Chi? In this clip we see a evidence of the Chi energy field. Men who have trained for years, display their ability to focus this energy. 




I've heard a lot of skepticism coming from the outside looking in on Chi, but it's interesting to see how DJ became skeptical of these journalists and how he cut them off for showing off his footage. To him, it must have felt like they poured pickle juice in his Chi, they betrayed his trust, but after a long wait and two years of deep meditation he was ready to open up to them again.


As someone who has benefited from modern medicine, meditation, and prayer, I feel like there can be a balance between them all. I think that modern medicine deals more with external modifiers that have been vigorously tested by an overwhelmingly large scientific community. But mastery of Chi, human energy, or the spirit seem to require vigorous internal and personal reflection. And prayer, even if it never reaches it's targeted deity, is at the very least a good way to focus your thoughts, desires, and gratitude. And by the way, people who pray out loud in public know full well that they look like their talking to themselves, some try to hide it by using a Bluetooth, but I think it's even weirder to look like you've reached your deity on your cell phone.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Legends

In my neighborhood there was a legend of an 8 year old boy who defeated the original Legend of Zelda in less than 2 hours, all on his first try. He did so without the aid of walkthroughs or older brothers. Many believed the boy to be the real life incarnation of the hero Link. I never met the child prodigy and could never authenticate this story, but I gained a great deal from his legend. His example gave me the strength to push myself to grater heights. At age 12 I was the first in my town to successfully gathered all 120 stars of Mario 64.

I don't write this to boast of myself, I know it comes of as vain, I only mention this feat in hopes of giving others courage to rise to grater heights. Many tasks in life, at first, may seem insurmountable, and sadly often when we hear tales of heroic feats, we write them off as Legends, because that is a lot easier than raising our own bar. I guarantee you, that with a little ambition, a lot of patience, and a modicum of resolve, you too can gather every last star in your own copy of Mario 64 and meet in victory with Yoshi on the rooftop of the princesses castle!

One odd thing about legends like Bigfoot is that early photographic images of them always come up blurry.  I did some research and it turns out that even early images of the hero link from the Legend of Zelda were surprisingly blurry. Does this mean as technology evolves Legends evolve along with it?... if you are epileptic scroll down quickly.


I took a college class on legends and fairy tales a few years back, and the one story that stood out the most was the Arabian Nights. Basically this girl was supposed to be executed for something but got out of it by telling the Sultan stories with cliff hangers every night. The cool thing is how the Arabian Nights was not written down for years. There were hundreds of these subplots that grew out of this one main story, and finally someone decided to write a bunch of em down. Each story seemed to have a moral or manipulative message embedded in them, like don't hit goats. I forget exactly, but the important thing is the way legends evolve almost in a Darwinian manner. If one generation didn't like a story they wouldn't pass it down to the next, or if they did they would at least change things here and there.

Some have defined legends as being unauthenticated. I can not tell you the origin of this definition because the definition itself is in fact legendary. I think it is human nature to leave some things uncharted and mysterious. If I were to ever meet the Zelda boy I would most certainly be disappointed at the details of his life. I think even if Bigfoot was authentic most would want to hold on to him, or her as a legend because Bigfoot is way more entertaining as a mystery than just another zoo attraction. To illustrate this a little, here is a clip I found about a human chimp named Oliver aka little big foot. He walks upright has a bald head, and looves beef jerky.



Maybe all Bigfoot is is just a bigger version of Oliver. Which opens the door to a future movie mashup, Teenage Mutant Ninja Bigfoot. And maybe we can just change his origin story completely and say he is just an alien.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Reconciliation

If reconciliation means to coexist in harmony, it seems to be a tall order. If someone has deeply wounded you, how do you coexist with them in harmony? Well we all coexist with everyone on the opposite side of the planet technically. It seems to me that forgiveness doesn't automatically include regaining trust or credibility. I once stole $5 from my sister's sock drawer and spent it all on ice cream, she of course stole that ice cream from me and even after all my trouble I didn't even get one bite of it. That was 25 years ago, and I'm still a little bitter about the whole thing. Sure I've sense forgiven her for it, but can I trust her around ice cream again? Sometimes at birthday parties I will let my guard down a little, but not if it's ice cream cake, so we are working on rebuilding that trust, but it takes time.

Some fractured relationships can be repaired with a little bit of communication, like with Tig and Taylor Dayne. Sometimes though, communication can lead to insults or insinuations, which can even lead to punching and or wrestling, this can be fun if done with over sized boxing gloves in a bouncy castle. This is how me and my wife decide who gets to choose what's for dinner on date nights. The first time I let her win she chose vegan food, I never let her win again.

Actually this isn't us, this is just some idiot on a prom date. Good luck explaining this one to her dad. 

I do get in fights with my wife, but only when I'm driving. I have a problem with road rage, and she argues that the other drivers can't hear me yelling at them, that only she can, and it's "incredibly annoying". So one day I decided to use sign language to communicate with my fellow drivers, and she still got mad and said "you really need to expand your vocabulary", and I had to eat vegan food again. That's how we harmonize, I guess it works for now but eventually I'm going to need to learn how to coexist in harmony with other driver's as well, that or get a helicopter.

Lastly, I wanted to share this animated version of the prodigal son story. By now we all know that the moral of the story is to have a cool dad.

I don't necessarily believe this is how the real story went down. What I think really happened was, the family's cable went out and the son got bored, one thing lead to another and he ended up eating pig slop out of a trough, and the real moral of the story is, don't let your son eat pig slop out of a trough, get rid of cable and upgrade to Direct TV. And as an added bonus with satellite TV, you'll never have to spend another awkward dinner talking about your day again, thus avoiding any miss communications and de-harmonization.

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