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


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.