Friday, September 14, 2018

Trey Trimble

I love finding new artists, and come across great stuff on Reddit, Instagram, and other sources. There are so many talented people out there creating amazing content.

After coming across Trey Trimble's art awhile back & bookmarking his Instagram page, I'm finally getting around to posting about him. He does some really cool 3D rendering, with a lot of retro 80's & vaporwave aesthetic to them.


On his website, he has a section of pieces that he made every day, over the course of 1000+ days. Despite myself being a graphic artist who creates almost every day, I have no idea how artists like him & Beeple find the time and motivation to produce this kind of output. It almost seems superhuman to me.


Instagram:

Here's his Behance portfolio with albums of his work:

Here are some examples of his work that I thought were pretty RAD:


I played most of these NES games (he rendered the cartridges in 3D) 
and can't tell you how many hours my brothers & I put into Contra alone.




Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Blooming Fungus

Last year around this time, I posted about a crazy-looking, large orange fungus I saw in the woods surrounding my parents' house.

Recently, I came across another bright orange fungus growing in their woods, standing out against the grey-browns and greens of the rest of the forest. I think fungi like this look awesome and are almost alien in their appearance.

I added the photos of this interesting lifeform to my nature photo album:

by Paul Micarelli



When I came back to check it out again in a few days, it had "blossomed" into an even bigger fungal form, resembling a flower. It became a more thorough shade of orange, with some yellow, to make it appear even brighter against the drab forest background.


Here is a photo with my hand next to it, for scale. It was about 12 inches across:


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: "Magicians of the Gods"


One of the books on my summer reading list was a second book by Graham Hancock about our lost ancient history, and clues about it that are, only now, being uncovered.

by Graham Hancock

I had previously read Hancock's other book about the same topic, Fingerprints of the Gods, years ago. In that book, he presented evidence from around the world that we have an ancient cultural heritage, perhaps going back more than 10,000 years, that has been completely lost to us. I've also to listened to many talks & interviews with Graham Hancock, and think he is an intelligent, curious voice for uncovering truth in many different fields.

One of his favorite refrains is that "humanity is a species with collective amnesia." He is definitely correct to a large extent, this is obvious from the never-ending stream of archaeological finds that continually give us new insights into our past. One site that he focuses on in this book is the site in modern-day Turkey called Gobleki Tepe. Estimated to be around 12,000 years old, this megalithic site was one of the first to completely rewrite our conception of the timeline of ancient history.

In this book, Graham takes this evidence of lost civilizations and takes the next step. He tries to find an explanation for the sudden disappearance of seemingly widespread advanced culture around the time period 10,800 years ago, known as the Younger Dryas, after the last Ice Age. This was a thousand years of a dramatic temperature drop, creating a mini ice age. This period of intense cold was followed by major warming and melting of global ice, causing sea levels to rise. This tumultuous time likely gave rise to the flood stories of the biblical Noah and Utnapishtim from the epic of  Gilgamesh.

Using scientific data, and good old common sense (that sometimes defies the stubborn entrenched views of the scientific establishment), Hancock comes to the conclusion that the likely culprit for this meteorological upheaval was a large comet that entered Earth's atmosphere & broke up as it traveled across Canada and the North Atlantic, raining hell down on the globe. Not only did this create havoc for the people and other life on this planet, but the debris thrown up into the atmosphere darkened the skies and caused temperatures to plunge for decades.

I find this to be highly plausible, especially given the presented evidence. Cosmological catastrophe is one the biggest threats to humanity and all life on this planet. A comet or meteor of sufficient size could completely obliterate most living things on this planet. Even a relatively smaller one could seriously disrupt the biosphere upon impact, and in the following years. The worst part of this scenario is we are mostly unprepared for such an event, which could literally come out of the void.

In fact, the fragments from this same comet that nearly wiped out our ancestors so many millennia ago are still speeding through space, and could cross our path again someday. Hancock goes on to theorize that certain works of ancient art and architecture were warnings of this event happening again.

This is where Graham loses me a bit, because I find some of his interpretations of sculpture and oral history from antiquity to be extremely subjective. For instance, he takes relief carvings of animals from a megalithic column at Gobleki Tepe and comes up with this whole astronomical explanation that seemed to be a huge stretch of the imagination to me... and I have a pretty good imagination!

His liberal interpretation of ancient art does not take away from the solid theories and evidence he puts forth about the catastrophic period around 12,000 years ago. The main takeaways from "Magicians of the Gods" are that we know much, much less about humanity's past than we think, and that we could fall victim to the same circumstances in the future. Whether or not there's anything we can do about it, other than migrating off-planet, remains to be seen.

I recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has a fascination with ancient cultures and the lost history of our planet. It makes you realize how brief and fleeting not only our individual lives are, but the whole human species, as well. We are one cosmic instant from ceasing to exist, but hopefully that instant is far enough away that humanity will be able to survive for the foreseeable future.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Big Hungry Spider


I saw this fat spider in his web by the front porch light, waiting for a meal. So, I decided to get my macro lens and get a closeup shot of it, in all it's awesome detail, to add to my album of nature photos.

by Paul Micarelli

The next night, it was still there in the same spot- but this time it had caught a daddy long legs, or harvestman. It was preying on the unfortunate creature's body, as its spindly legs were wrapped up in the webbing.


I saw the silhouette of the spider & it's victim in the porch light and thought it looked pretty creepy, like something out of a horror movie.



Sunday, August 19, 2018

Grounds for Sculpture

Recently I visited Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ for my sister-in-law's bridal shower.

It was a very interesting & beautiful place, with amazing gardens and natural scenery. As the name suggests, the grounds were full of various types of sculpture- abstract, realistic, and representational.

There were also many references to works of fine art, such as paintings & literature.

The food at the party was great, and we had several courses until we were completely stuffed. After the bridal shower, we walked the grounds and spent the entire day there. It was a great day, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys both nature and art.

Here is an album link & a selection of pictures I took of the sculpture and natural features there:










My wife Loretta & I

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Conscious Living for You

If you are reading this blog, I'd like to invite you to check out another page that I created with my wife Loretta.

 
We devoted this brand to sharing ways to live a healthier & happier life, There are many topics we have covered already, including nutrition, meditation, yoga, physical health, and even humor (the best medicine!).

We've recently unveiled the logo that I designed, that we have featured on the blog and also on our Facebook page, @ConsciousLivingForYou. Please follow us, and we hope that we can help you live a more conscious lifestyle!

https://consciouslivingforyou.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Little Red Toad

I was in the back yard and noticed this little red toad, hopping through the grass. It was only about the size of my fingertip. It was a brownish-red color, but had one tiny spot of gray on its back.

To avoid startling it, I crept in very slow & managed to get a closeup to add to my album of nature photos:

by Paul Micarelli



Here's a pic with my hand near it, to get a sense of scale & how small it was:


Saturday, August 11, 2018

In TRUMP We Trust

I've been a fool... After the election of President DONALD J. TRUMP, our strong, wise, benevolent, compassionate, & courageous Leader, I wasn't able to recognize what a divine blessing he was to the United States of America.

However, I recently realized that he is, in fact, the perfect Leader for this country! I now see that his amazing traits perfectly embody this wonderful nation of ours:

• His love of only wealth and himself • The preference of corporate power over the common good of the people • His belief in the complete domination of police and military might over all other concerns of society • His disregard for the poor & least fortunate among us • The ease with which he distorts and completely abandons truth & consensual reality • His effort to put all social services and public assets into the hands of for-profit private companies • The lack of intelligence or curiosity on any subject whatsoever

These are all qualities that patriotic Americans, especially my right-wing countrymen, have been cultivating in this country for a long time. Finally, someone embodying all these characteristics has emerged as the true face of the USA, and all that it truly stands for!

It is a travesty that President TRUMP has been mired in scandals over that silly concept of "ethics", while his loyal supporters have been indicted of crimes clearly made up by the "Deep State". The fact that so many of his people in his circle are being accused of criminal activity shows that The Establishment is against him... & definitely NOT that he is a vile, corrupt piece of shit and a stupid, incompetent criminal himself!

I have come to the conclusion that the only way to protect our Leader from these fake attempts at maintaining law & order is to make him "PRESIDENT FOR LIFE". In fact, the TRUMP name is the only name that should grace the Presidency from now on... Ivanka will inherit the office after her father is no longer able to hold it, then perhaps Barron will then be next in line. With the grace of God, the TRUMP family will rule over America for generations!

To anticipate this NEW TRUMP ORDER™, I created the picture below, showing President-For-Life TRUMP in his full leadership regalia. He is surrounded by the re-designed American flag, featuring the beautiful new gold colors & majestic "T". To prevent any mischief or harm against our Leader, he is flanked by his armored TRUMP-TROOPERS™ who will not hesitate to kill or viciously maim anyone who speaks out against or disrespects our Leader.

Let us hope that our nation comes to its senses and realizes that only TRUMP speaks the Trump-Truth™, and that he alone is the answer to ALL the problems we face as a country.

$ IN TRUMP WE TRUST $


 by The Monkey Buddha
(click to enlarge & see our Leader's portrait in all its glorious detail)

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Spider Capturing a Beetle


Here's another nature video, from the recent vacation with my family at Big Bass Lake, in the Poconos, PA. My nephews spotted this spider wrapping up a beetle in its web, as the unfortunate beetle desperately tried to get out of the clutches of the relentless arachnid.

I left the original audio, since there's some pretty funny conversation going on in the background, including us all cheering on the beetle, when we thought it was actually going to escape.


Video & Editing by Paul Micarelli

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Poconos Northern Water Snake


This (non-venomous) Northern Water Snake swam by the dock regularly during my family's vacation at Big Bass Lake in the Poconos, PA.

It seemed to magically appear every time someone would talk about it!

I also took some video as he swam by the shore by the dock:


 Filmed & Edited by Paul Micarelli

Friday, August 03, 2018

Funky Little Fuzzy Caterpillar



I saw this little caterpillar on a table outside and thought he was pretty cool, with his long fuzzies & neon colors.

So, I added him to my album of nature photos:

by Paul Micarelli

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Trump & Orwell: Reject the Evidence



I created this blog back during the years of the George W. Bush administration, and I used to post frequently about politics and current events. Back then, it seemed impossible that a group of politicians could be more corrupt & incompetent than the Bush/Cheney cabal, when every day revealed some new piece of outrageous news about how bad they were screwing things up.

Despite actually predicting it, I had no idea we would actually elect an absolute dumpster fire of a human being like Donald J. Trump. My evaluation of Dubya as "The Worst President Ever" was, unfortunately, premature.

In recent years, I cut back on my news media consumption, and cut out cable news completely. Although I still stay up on politics & current events every day, I don't let it consume my life as much as it used to. Therefore, I haven't really posted too much about politics here, other than some critical graphics of Trump early in his term.

Watching how he has behaved in office & seeing the ridiculous policies he's been pushing has been exasperating. Even more exasperating is seeing how people still trust this blatant con-man & habitual liar! I mean, the guy made his career out of screwing both gullible people and honest contractors out of their money. No one should respect this guy, but he somehow has a following of people who think he is God's gift to this country. I guess if you have your head up your ass or buried in conservative news all day, you can remain ignorant of the almost comical level of corruption and stupidity that Trump & his administration exhibits on a daily basis. He gets away with it (for now) because he is fully enabled by his unquestioning supporters & a complicit GOP Congress- to lie, gaslight, and break the law & cultural norms in any way he wants.

Recently, Trump made the statement that basically told his cult members to believe him over their own eyes:

"Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening"

I saw people astutely comparing this to a line from George Orwell's book "1984" (which has become almost like an instruction manual for the Trump Presidency):

"The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. 
It was their final, most essential command."

I decided to create the graphic above, with this Trump vs. Big Brother comparison, to illustrate the nefarious effect that Trump is having on his followers. He wants you to reject the evidence & the facts of any matter, & defer to him, even though he has shown absolutely no reason to be trusted on anything!

Yes there is definitely "fake news", propoganda, and misinformation being circulated. However, Trump regularly rejects facts that can easily be verified and publicly contradicts himself constantly. I believe everything is relative, and there is a high degree of subjectivity in our experience. However, we need some level of consensus reality to function together as people. Trump is trying to destroy that idea of external facts, so that only his opinion & things that jive with his reality matter. It is the workings of a completely narcissistic moron.

Anyone who is following multiple news sources that aren't strictly pro-Trump can see that there's a net of investigation into the criminality of Trump & his associates that is going to eventually ensnare them all. If you believe in the concept of law & order, then you should encourage investigation into the facts of the matter on whether the law was broken. If you listen to Trump & believe it is all a "deep state" conspiracy, then you have accepted his final order to reject the evidence, and you can continue to bow down before this fake gold-plated idol that represents all the worst this country has to offer.

He can kick & scream and tweet stupid falsehoods all day long, but fortunately we do not live in a fictional dystopia like "1984," and eventually the truth will prevail. Not everyone will accept it, but how we as a society treat this narcissistic menace and the forces that prop him up will determine the quality & longevity of the experiment known as American democracy.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Book Review: "The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge"


 While I was on my honeymoon earlier this month at Cape May, I brought along a book to read on the beach that as been in my queue for awhile.


by Jeremy Narby

The author Jeremy Narby begins the book with the mystery of ayahuasca- a powerful psychedelic brew originating from the jungles of The Amazon in South America. This botanical, mind & soul-altering concoction is created from a combination of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which contains several alkaloids that act as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The other ingredient, a shrub Psychotria viridis,  contains the primary psychoactive compound, dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The MAOIs from the B. cappi are required for DMT of the P. viridis to be orally active & produce the visionary experience.

The question that has presented itself is- how did the indigenous tribes know how to combine these two plants, out of thousands in the jungle, to create a specific chemical reaction to create the desired effect? The ayahuascero shamans claim that the plants themselves revealed this truth to their ancestors.

This idea of some kind of intelligence in the plant relaying this information creates another question- one that is the main premise of this book: Can ALL life communicate on levels (down the cellular and molecular scale) that science might not be currently aware of, & that does not involve the use of symbolic language that we humans are familiar with? Could the DNA molecule itself, besides being an encoder of information, also be capable of communicating and transmitting information, even perhaps somehow into the level of consciousness?

In ayahuasca trances, glowing, vibrating snakes and serpents imparting knowledge are a common motif. The author investigates whether these might be visualizations of the continually pulsating, light-emitting  DNA strands themselves, somehow communicating information to the emergent neurological phenomenon that we recognize as the human mind. Perhaps it also goes the other way, and our mind when unlocked in a certain manner can be transported down to directly interact and perceive at the scale of cells and molecules.

  Serpents by TAS Visuals

The Newtonian mechanistic view of the Universe, especially when it comes to life, is completely inadequate for having a true, holistic view of the world. However despite the awe-inspiring intricacy of life at the microscopic scale & weirdness of phenomena at the quantum level, science still has trouble grasping with the ephemeral nature of mind and consciousness as anything other than brain activity. This is understandable, since it is hard to quantify the idea of a universal consciousness, patterns of coherent energetic information transmission that exist EVERYWHERE- pervading all aspects of this Universe, at all scales..

This is the axis mundi that I have already mentally traveled up and down many times, and was guided through once again by the author as he connected the systems & processes of life from the microcosm to the macrocosm.

Underlying this quest that the author has written about, is the idea that the wisdom and traditions of native people should be preserved along with their land & environment. The profit-driven juggernaut we call the pharmaceutical industry cannot be allowed to exploit healing knowledge and plants that exist for the benefit of everyone. Although science should have the freedom to learn and understand as much of our reality as possible, that knowledge should not be used to restrict and refine discovery for the selfish gain of soulless megacorporations.

I enjoyed reading The Cosmic Serpent, and it was the perfect mix of science and mysticism for a syncretist such as myself. It made me think deeply about biology, spirituality, ecology, anthropology, and the complexity of life & reality itself. It was a relatively short book, but full of mind-expanding insights and information that I'd highly recommend.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Poconos 2018

This month, my family went on their annual trip to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. We went the week after my wife and I got back from our wedding & honeymoon.

It turned out to be a nice week overall, a chance to to sit by the lake & read or relax, go out on the boats, fish, and just enjoy the outdoors & each other. We got the fire pit going at night and sat under the stars, listening to the sounds of fish, frogs, and insects on the dark, still water.

My family really values this time we spend on vacation, and it is the source of many great memories for us, and now for the younger generation represented by my sister's kids.

I uploaded photos to an album with pics of some of the fun we had and the natural sights we experienced.

Photo Gallery:

I saw some interesting wildlife- including a northern water snake that periodically swims by the dock, & also a spider wrapping up a beetle in a cocoon. I actually have videos of both of these that I will upload soon.



Here is a 15" pike I caught, the only time I went out fishing with my brother & nephew:



My brother grilled two nights in a row, as the rest of us chipped in meat and assistance to create the family-sized feasts.


We hiked Davis Trail near Scranton, PA one day. We decided to all go off the trail and hike through  the gorge to be closer to the beauty of the river, soiled only by dirtbag visitors who have left trash in certain areas.


Me & the new "Mrs. Monkey Buddha" enjoying being outdoors in the mountains:


I also captured my beautiful life partner doing yoga in our "P&L Cove" at one end of the lake, that I also posted on our blog Conscious Living for You:


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tiny Green Spider Macro Photography



I saw this miniature spider on my car, and used my macro lens to get a closeup photo. I love getting a more detailed view of the life all around us, but beneath our threshold of perception.

The spider was green, and it was so small that it was translucent! It's 4 front legs were longer than its back legs, & it had eyes that were black points smaller than a grain of sand.

by Paul Micarelli

Here is my finger next to it, to get a sense of the tiny size of this arachnid:


 

Monday, July 16, 2018

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" Review


Last weekend, I went to see "Solo: A Star Wars Story" while it was still in the movie theaters. I have been preoccupied with work & the process of getting married, so I hadn't seen it yet.

Han Solo was never one of my favorite characters, and I didn't think the actor Alden Ehrenreich looked nothing like a young Harrison Ford, so at first I wasn't too interested in seeing it, despite my love for everything Star Wars. However, I started seeing positive reviews from people who had seen it & were pleasantly surprised.



So, I decided to check it out & I'm glad I did. It was an action-packed "heist"-type film in which Han joins a group of smugglers trying to steal a large quantity of hyperspace fuel to pay back their debts.

Early on, Han escapes his home planet of Corellia and becomes part of the Imperial infantry, where he meets Chewbacca. This was all part of the Han Solo backstory before, and I think it was fleshed-out pretty well.

In my opinion, this was actually more of a "Star Wars" movie than The Last Jedi. There were more exotic planets and locations, both new & familiar aliens, a more coherent & interesting storyline, and less eye-rollingly bad attempts at humor.

The amount of screen time given to Chewie was cool, but hands-down the best aspect of the movie was Donald Glover as young Lando. Even from the first time you hear his voice off-camera, it sounds just like Billy Dee Williams. He had all the mannerisms & inflections down perfectly. Alden Ehrenreich was close enough to the Han we all know to let me suspend my disbelief. However, after seeing a reference to Anthony Ingruber as a young Harrison Ford, I thought that he would have been a far better casting choice. All-in-all the casting was good, and it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the movie too much.

There were some great cameos and easter eggs for Star Wars fans (that I'm not going to spoil here). I'm glad I got to see it in the theater, where the awesome visuals really make an impact. I would definitely recommend it, especially to Star Wars fans like myself. As I said, Han Solo was never a character I really liked, but this movie managed to make his backstory interesting and fun to watch. It follows Rogue One as another well-done Star Wars Story.

The Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, July 09, 2018

Book Review: "Leonardo da Vinci" by Walter Isaacson

 
I recently finished reading the biography of one of history's greatest geniuses, and a personal icon of mine, Leonardo da Vinci.

by Walter Isaacson

Leonardo is probably the person who I have read & researched more than anyone. I wrote my first book report on him in grade school, and his brilliance has inspired me ever since. He is the epitome of knowledge, wisdom, and deep insight into the nature of reality.

I have read many books about Leonardo, and I also created a game that's connected to his art & studies regarding sacred geometry, called "Da Vinci's Challenge".

Despite having read so much about this amazing man, the book by Walter Isaacson was still as fascinating and engaging as if it was the first time hearing about him. He weaved a narrative about Leonardo that made me feel like I had an even clearer glimpse into his remarkable life.

When you really take a look at the totality of da Vinci's work, there are countless discoveries he made outside the realm of the fine arts that just defy belief. For instance, his realization that the aortic valve in the heart opened & closed based on the characteristics of turbulent flow, not just back pressure on the valve, is a triumph of observation and correlation. This is just one revolutionary insight, in just one of the many areas of study that he immersed himself in. His notebooks are a treasure trove of intellectual investigations.

It is stunning how far ahead of his time he was in ALL areas of knowledge & applied science- hydraulics, geology, anatomy, architecture, optics, biology, and on & on...

 So much has been written about this original "Renaissance Man", so I will just say that if you are remotely interested in the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, this a book you definitely want to make the time to read.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Paul Micarelli & Loretta DeStefano Wedding

 Loretta DeStefano & Paul M. Micarelli
Photo by Won Yang of Yang Photo Studio

My last post was right after the private, legal marriage ceremony to my wonderful wife, Loretta.

Last weekend, we had our public wedding ceremony & reception for family and friends at The Old Mill in Rose Valley, PA.

We had been planning the wedding for a year, with the help of our awesome parents. We had a vision for what we wanted, & all our hard work paid off. We both wanted a nature-themed wedding, with an outdoor ceremony.  I love the outdoors, and Loretta shares this affinity for the natural world with me.


The whole day went absolutely perfect. Everything looked great, the decor that we created and ordered was exactly what we envisioned, the music was all our choices, our ceremony was beautiful, & most importantly, there was no major drama during the wedding!

There were a few monkey wrenches thrown into the works, like the record 100ยบ heat that was not the best conditions for a full tuxedo! It was also tough to realize I couldn't spend more time with all the people who came to be a part of this special moment. We had over 130 guests, and I did try to bounce around and talk to as many people as I could. It's impossible to have a long conversation with anyone, though.

We wanted to start the night off with everyone hyped up, so after our slow dance ("And I Love Her" by The Beatles) we played "Turn Down for What" by Lil' Jon and got the whole room dancing right away. Everyone said they had a blast, and we had many people telling us it was the best wedding they'd ever been to, which is what we wanted people to experience. It is humbling to realize that there are so many people who I'm deeply connected with, and now that circle has grown with the people in Loretta's life.

This past week, we were on our honeymoon in Cape May, where we stayed at an excellent bed & breakfast called Rhythm of The Sea. We sat on the beach & drank scotch, went out to eat every night, and had some much-needed rest & relaxation.

This has been a time in my life that I am grateful to experience, and will never forget. I am married to an exceptional woman, who I've know for many years & consider my best friend. The wedding was our way to publicly express and spiritually symbolize the love that connects us.

Here is a photo album with a bunch of great pictures that I and our families took. When I get the album from the wedding photographer, I will share that too:

Wedding Photo Album:
 Paul Micarelli & Loretta DeStefano Wedding
July 1, 2018 
at The Old Mill in Rose Valley, PA