Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Joseph A. Micarelli's Photo Album

I am the de facto archivist for my family- the one who keeps extensive records and photos. Not only do I keep my own photo archives organized by year & event, but I usually make albums of photo prints for family members' birthdays.

Even though the Buddhist principles of non-attachment (stemming from the realization of impermanence) resonate deeply with me, it is still in my nature to want to preserve memories. I feel it is a way to communicate with others through time & space.

So, I felt this sense of communication recently when I went to visit my aunt on my dad's side of the family. I had spotted some old photos, and she ended up bringing out a photo album that was put together by my grandfather, Joseph A. Micarelli (1922-1984) who was married to Marie (Rietzen) (1925-2003). 

Google Photo Album:

My aunt and uncle had wanted to scan the photographs, and began taking them out of the album, which unfortunately would have ruined the album. Luckily they didn't get too far with it. Most of the photos were captioned with names and dates, so I thought it was important to preserve this info with the pictures. After seeing the care and time that my grandfather had put into making this photo book, I realized where my knack for archiving photos originated! I expressed my interest in taking the album & digitizing it, by scanning each page as a whole. Then, somewhere down the line I could digitally crop out individual photos if I wanted.

My aunt kindly lent me the book, so after a month or two of not getting around to it, I decided to just take a day and scan away! I didn't want it to be something that I was holding onto for years, because I never made the time to get it done. Because the pages were larger than my scanner, I had to scan each page in halves, then stitch them together on the computer. Once I got the process going, I got in the zone and finished it in one day.

I uploaded the photos to the Google album, linked above, and made the high-resolution images available to my family on Facebook and through email. It feels good to reconnect my extended family (of which there are many) to the lives and memories of our ancestors.

My Pop-Pop died when I was in first grade, so luckily I do have some vague memories and impressions of him. Looking through & saving these old photos gave me a new level of connection to him and my other relatives.

As I scanned these photos, I couldn't help but think how amazed he would be to know his grandson was using computers to save and share his images with the entire family. I guess that's why I also archive photos and info from my own life- in the hopes that one day I will be able to communicate across time & space through them, and reach out to those living in the future.

Here are a few pics from the album:

My grandfather Joseph Micarelli around 1940, 18 years old:

My grandparents from my dad's side, Joseph & Marie Micarelli, on their wedding day May 12, 1945:

The Micarelli family photo from 1934. 
There were 8 boys & 1 girl and they lived in Boston:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Dissolution" by Paul Micarelli

 Turning inward, the ego and the sense of self begin to dissolve into abstraction... 

This is an experimental video made using the Imaengine app. I created the soundtrack in GarageBand.

Filming, Editing, & Soundtrack by Paul Micarelli

Monday, March 05, 2018


I'm keeping the space theme going, from my last 3 posts- about Interstellar, Black Hole Simulations, and the Andromeda Galaxy. Space travel is one of the most important topics facing humanity. How fast we can travel off-planet and sustain ourselves, in space colonies or inhabiting other worlds, will determine if our species survives any potential cataclysm that might affect us on Earth.

On r/space I watched this short film called "FTL" about an astronaut who leaves our planet, to pilot the first craft to travel faster than the speed of light (FTL travel). His mission is to travel to an already-colonized Mars to drop off a communications satellite, presumably using some sort of gravitational warp drive to make the trip in a fraction of the time. Unfortunately, this technological achievement is recognized by some form of higher intelligence, which pulls the ship & it's pilot to an awe-inspiring first contact.

It had some of the same themes as the movie Interstellar, which I just watched the other night. It addresses the question of the limits people will go to make new discoveries- including giving up their families & personal relationships as a sacrifice for the common good of the human race. It also explores the possibilities of what might happen when we meet with beings of higher intelligence.

This was very well done for a short film on a limited budget, and carries the emotional weight of experiences that humans will very likely face as we travel to the stars.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Movie Review: "Interstellar"

Last night, my fiancée & I watched "Interstellar". Admittedly, I pick space movies to watch a lot, so she wasn't too thrilled at first about watching it. However, we both really liked it & spurred conversation today about black holes, the nature of space-time, higher dimensions, relativity, space travel, and cosmic consciousness.

I found myself kind of internally criticizing some of the movie's more scientifically far-fetched scenarios, but it's just sci-fi & entertainment, after all. Despite the fictional nature of the story, it was full of questions & possibilities for real science.

"Interstellar" actually helped spur scientific research, through the process of creating accurate visual effects to simulate approaching a black hole. Interestingly enough, simulating black holes with computer graphics was the topic of my last blog post.

Besides the scientifically-inspired attempts at accuracy, the visuals in the movie had a transcendental effect similar to those of "2001: A Space Odyssey".

The interstellar craft approaching the black hole, "Gargantua".

The story takes place in an unspecified time in the near-future, when the population of Earth is facing a blight that is destroying crops. In a time of global famine and planetary depletion, NASA makes finding another world to inhabit a top priority.

The main character, Cooper, is a pilot who is recruited to travel through a known "wormhole" in space-time near Saturn. The wormhole leads to another galaxy, and appears to have been created by an advance collection of intelligent beings. Astronauts had been previously sent through the inter-dimensional tunnel to find inhabitable worlds in this new galaxy, and Cooper was chosen to join a crew to follow up on these missing scouts.

Cooper leaves both his daughter "Murph" & his son Tom behind, sacrificing his relationship with them to save them and the rest of the species. The familial connection between Cooper & his daughter is the driving force of the movie. Due to relativistic effects of traveling near the speed of light & entering powerful gravity wells around distant stars, there is a experienced time differential. Cooper ages at a rate much slower than his daughter, and also enter hibernation for periods of his journey. They can communicate through some kind of quantum data feed I believe, that allows the ship to receive messages, but they cannot send any back to Earth.

The film explores many of the effects that physical and cosmic forces would have on various modes of space exploration. The strange effects of the theory of relativity are fundamental elements of the story & visual effects.

Although the exotic physics concepts were enough to make "Interstellar" interesting, it then went into an almost metaphysical level. Without giving too much away, the movie shifted into a mind-blowing vision of higher-dimensional space, where time is no longer seen as a linear. It appeared as an almost spacial quality, where all space & time can be seen as an interconnected terrain that can be navigated like our familiar 3D experience.

The ability to enter this dimension, where all space & time exist, leads to a narrative loop that the main characters find themselves in. It turns out that humanity's destiny may be an existence as multi-dimensional energy beings. Cooper's encounter with this mode of reality ends up being the reason he gets there in the first place- leading to a circular causality that is reminiscent of the "grandfather paradox" in time travel.

"Interstellar" was a long film, (especially with Comcast's bullshit commercials, throughout an OnDemand movie) but it was well-worth watching. Yeah, some of it was pretty ridiculous, but it was really thought-provoking and visually stunning. Especially if you are interested in space travel, physics, cosmology, the idea of higher dimensions... or just enjoy a beautiful, mind-bending film, I definitely recommend this movie.

Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 8.5