Sunday, November 21, 2021

Visualizing COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines

 

One of my favorite uses of computer graphics is for visualizing scientific concepts that humans cannot otherwise experience, when the scale is beyond the realm of our senses.

I have posted before about the use of 3D renderings to illustrate microbiology, and it never stops fascinating me. The workings of living organisms at the molecular and cellular scale are mind-boggling.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:
Cell Biology

I recently saw this computer animation by The Vaccine Maker Project detailing how mRNA vaccines train the body's immune system to neutralize a coronavirus & thought it was a brilliant educational video.

YouTube Link:

My wife & I were hesitant at first to get the vaccine, because of concerns regarding conceiving another child. However, as a nurse she was eventually required to be vaccinated, & so I followed suit. I was never really against it, but I never got flu or other vaccines either... it was a sort of ambivalence since I am very healthy and rarely get sick. (One time as an adult, I got a bad case of the flu and felt like I was going to fucking die, & I still didn't bother getting flu vaccines even after that experience. However, I did finally get the flu shot recently after getting the COVID vaccine.) Even before we got vaccinated, we still followed all the other recommendations & protocols for preventing infection. However, having a toddler while being vulnerable to getting sick with COVID was very stressful.

After researching actual scientific papers on the mRNA vaccine process (& no, not relying on some bullshit Facebook or other website research), I understood how amazing this biotech was & felt very confident in getting vaccinated.

Watching this video gave me an even deeper appreciation- not just for this vaccine technology, but for the astounding way that our microbiology functions. The fact that these interactions are continuously playing out billions of times throughout each of our bodies, while we are completely unaware of this entire universe of living processes within us, is just an incredible & utterly incomprehensible phenomenon.

I highly recommend watching and sharing this video to educate other on how this amazing bit of biological engineering works.

BONUS:

In the recommended videos alongside the one I posted above, I also saw the following video that goes into another aspect that I was very curious about - how is the vaccine actually designed & manufactured?

This video gives a glimpse of the awesome scientific effort that goes into the production of something like the Coronavirus vaccine:


 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Asian Lady Beetle

 

We recently had a infestation for a day or two of what I thought were lady bugs, but it turns out they were Asian lady beetles. These beetles are actually an invasive species.

I saw one on my countertop and got some macro photos of the tiny creature. 

 Nature Photography by Paul Micarelli

Here are some facts about these beetles, which I didn't know existed:


 

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Beholding the Terrifying Nature of the Divine

 

On r/TIHI (Thanks, I Hate It), I saw this video of a "biblically accurate angel" specifically one of the cherubim, based on a description in Ezekiel 10:

I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels.” Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

The creepy-ass CGI video is by Alex Howard:

Biblical angels be like: BE NOT AFRAID

Imagine coming across this spectacle while walking along in the wilderness, minding your own business!...

If the descriptions in the Bible described an actual encounter, it's hard to imagine what was actually being experienced - was it an extra-dimensional being, a hallucination brought on by plant entheogens, or some other altered state of consciousness? The description could just as well describe an extraterrestrial spacecraft, seen by someone with a limited linguistic toolkit to accurately convey the information about what they experienced. The other option, of course, is that it's just a made-up story.

The idea of an angel seems to describe a spirit or consciousness beyond our ordinary experience, which can take many different forms. It is not limited to the glowing humanoid with wings, which is usually depicted in Western religious art.

The specific angelic form depicted above, the cherubim, have been portrayed in different ways over the centuries. The traditional artistic representation is almost like the typical angel I just mentioned, but with multiple animal heads:


Modern artists have been able to create more abstract depictions more properly conveying the spiritual nature of such an entity:


I have never encountered any kind of spiritual, energetic being such as a ghost or angel, so as far as I know, they don't exist. However, I am open the idea there are beings or levels of consciousness that might be outside our realm of experience.

While reading comments on the original post, I saw the video below from The Onion, a one-on-one interview with God. The concept of "God" is an even more difficult one to pin down than angels. God, being the creative force underlying all of Reality, is, by definition, impossible to understand or even singularly experience. It is literally ALL THAT IS, the unity of everything, from the quantum to the cosmic levels, & everything in between. 

 If someone wants to ask me if I believe in God, I would say that we have to describe what we think God is first. If it's the Old Testament deity, Yahweh, who is a Zeus-like human personality that loves, judges, seeks vengence, etc. & interacts with humans on a personal level - then my answer would be "No," that's mythology.

If we define God as something akin to The Force or the Unified Field, the flux of base, subatomic energy that gives rise to all the patterns of the Universe - then "Yes," of course that exists.

Anyway, I thought this video was a funny representation of how The Infinite would be perceived by a finite human mind. Such awe-inspiring insight into the nature of reality can be approximated in certain altered states of consciousness, when the mind expands outside its normal modes of experience:

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Skateboarding Dr. Monkey

I've posted before about The Absurd Creations of Alan Wagner (@truewagner) & saw this fake DVD cover that he posted. I wish this was a real movie:

Skateboarding Dr. Monkey

Interestingly, there is a movie about a skateboarding chimp, "MVP-Most Vertical Primate"



Saturday, October 16, 2021

Futuristic Monkey Fighter Pilot

Seen on fUSION Anomalog, a cover of Heavy Metal magazine with a futuristic monkey wearing a high-tech fighter pilot helmet:



Tuesday, October 05, 2021

3D Portraits by Hadi Karimi

  Salvador Dalí by Hadi Kamiri

I've had some experience in 3D computer graphics, and I love to see all the amazing artwork people create in that medium.

Artist Hadi Karimi digitally sculpts likenesses of historical figures in such a realistic manner that they look like photography. Being an expert in photo retouching, I can pick out fake images easily. However, these renderings are so convincing that they appear like real people, even to me.

www.hadikarimi.com

The artistry displayed here is absolutely astounding. As I look over these portraits again, I am baffled that someone can even do this! Not only is the sculpting of the faces impressive, but the coloring & textures, hair, clothing, and especially the lighting all lend to the realism of these images.

For each portrait, there are multiple viewing angles, again adding to the sense of dimensionality of each figure.

I would highly recommend visiting the artist's website, to marvel at the technical and creative skill shown in these 3D renderings.

I believe this is a step to digitally re-creating people of the past - both famous and of personal importance. I could see an industry of providing "virtual loved ones" that can be seen and interacted with using VR or holograms.

Technology like Deep Nostalgia, combined with this kind of realistic 3D modeling, could allow a person to choose from a library of historical figures, or the creation of an AI-generated avatar based on personal photos and video. 

Maybe when my son is an old man, he will be able to generate a virtual version of me to converse with. People are inherently social and nostalgic creatures, so it would surprise me if that kind of application wasn't developed at some point in the future.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Eastern Influences of Star Wars


 This morning I was reading this excellent article about "Visions," the new series of animated Star Wars stories. It went into fascinating detail about the influences of Japanese and Asian culture in general on the development of Star Wars.

The Ringer:
‘Visions’ Brings ‘Star Wars’ Full Circle

I haven't seen this series of anime adaptations yet. However, being a lifelong Star Wars fan, I am quite familiar with the cultural, artistic, & mythological references from around the world that make up this modern day classic. I was fascinated by the book "Star Wars: The Power of Myth", which only touched the surface of the cultural makeup of the story and characters.

George Lucas borrowed heavily from visual storytellers like Akira Kurosawa, religious philosophies like Buddhism, and countless sources of inspiration from all over the globe & all areas of human experience.

 

I'm not really into anime, but I did enjoy the anthology, "The Animatrix," similarly a collection of animated stories set in the world of The Matrix. If "Star Wars: Visions" displays the same level of creativity and love for the source material, I'm sure I'll be into it.

Star Wars has always been my favorite work of fiction because of the richness & depth (much of it subtle) that draws on so many other interesting aspects of cultures around the world. I still love the imaginary universe that Star Wars has built, although I think Episodes 7-9 of the Skywalker saga were a fucking trainwreck (so much so that I am considering making a profanity-laced video of a tirade directed toward these movies).

Star Wars will be a source of inspiration itself for a long time, to people in places far, far away. It has been awesome to grow up alongside these moves & media, and it will be interesting how they continue to affect people in the future.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Half a Nice Day

 A friend of mine bought me a copy of an adult coloring book full of grotesque imagery, by Alex Pardee.

"TRY TO RELAX!"
DOWNLOADABLE COLORING BOOK

I finally got around to digitally coloring & adding effects to one of the images, "Half a Nice Day," with a mangled happy face:



Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Why the U.S. Failed in Afghanistan

I was looking through The Monkey Buddha Archives, and I think I finally discovered why the United States' 20 year occupation of Afghanistan ultimately failed...

We did NOT follow this super-simple chart, outlining Afghanistan Stability:

 


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Katydid Macro Photos

 

I recently saw this large katydid on my screen door, & went to grab my macro lens to take some detailed photos. 

 Nature Photography
by Paul Micarelli

 I mistakenly referred to it as a "grasshopper" when I posted it to a NJ Nature & Wildlife group I joined on Facebook. Some of the other members corrected me on what kind of insect it was, which is one of the nice things about social media- when you actually get correct information!

Here are some more photos, including extreme close-up shots of the leg & wing, which has evolved to mimic a leaf:

Thursday, August 26, 2021

"LANGUAGE" - 'Thinking Aloud' with 2 Paul Micarelli's

 *Originally posted to the Conscious Living for You blog
 

4-10-21
 
Paul Micarelli & son Paul Giuseppe take a walk and talk about interesting topics. 🤔💡👶🏻 
 
***Please LIKE & SHARE, Thank You!*** 
 

 

 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Deep Dive

 

Deep Dive
by MathisNoiz

 I saw this mind-bending animation on r/imaginarylandscapes & thought it was pretty crazy.

 

It was made using Deep Dream neural network software "that uses a convolutional neural network to find and enhance patterns in images via algorithmic pareidolia, thus creating a dream-like psychedelic appearance in the deliberately over-processed images."

I've used similar software to create some images that I've posted here.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:
Deep Dream Images

The process for creating this imagery is definitely analogous to the bizarre visual experiences present in altered states and dreams. The brain is a pattern-recognition machine, and this software uses computers to simulate the unfiltered feedback loops that result in these kinds of hallucinations in the mind's eye.


Monday, August 02, 2021

Heilung

 
It's not often that I experience new music that completely blows me away. However, I was recently putting my son to sleep, feeding him a bottle & rocking him while playing songs that I've bookmarked for him on YouTube. After finally getting him to sleep with a relaxing instrumental track of Eastern zen-inspired music, I was scrolling through the recommended videos... & stopped at a live performance that looked interesting. 

As I started listening to it, I was enthralled by the droning sounds & rhythmic drumming. It looked & sounded like an ancient shamanic ritual. Having a deep interest in the spiritual & artistic dimensions of early human culture, the performance immediately piqued my interest. Then, the lead vocalist Maria Franz (who looked like a nature shamaness, donning antlers reminiscent of the Cernunnos on the Gundestrup Cauldron and veiled eyes, clicking bones together) began to sing.. & I was like, "Woooooahhhhh!" 

Then some other crazy male medicine man figure, Kai Uwe Faust, began growling in an animalistic call & response. I paused the video, put my soundly snoozing little son in his crib, grabbed my headphones & invoked the plant medicine to open me up fully to this new auditory experience.

The band I had discovered was Heilung, which means "healing" in German, and they are a neo-pagan return to primal music that reverberates deep into the soul, connecting us to our distant ancestors. In addition to the other 2 members I mentioned is Christopher Juul, a studio engineer & producer who has helped create the otherworldly sound experience of Heilung.  From their own description on Apple music:

Combining ancient melodies with otherworldly vocals, field recordings, dark ambient soundscapes, and shamanic rhythms, Danish pagan folk act Heilung create a trance-inducing blend that evokes the very dawn of civilization.

From Wikipedia:

Heilung is an experimental folk music band made up of members from Denmark, Norway, and Germany.[3] Their music is based on texts and runic inscriptions from Germanic peoples of the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Viking Age. Heilung describe their music as "amplified history from early medieval northern Europe". Their music is usually about Norse deities, jǫtnar, and valkyries.

The first video I had watched was a live performance of "Krigsgaldr" & it is fucking awesome. I don't understand a single damn word, other than the English that the medicine man grunts in the middle of the song- but it doesn't matter. The performance, costumes, set, and music itself are all iconic- and evocative of a lost shamanic experience, the mystical perception of nature and that connection to ourselves that draws us back into the ground of being.


I immediately started listening to their other songs, and they have a lot of great music that is thematically unique and technically brilliant. Every time I listen to one of their songs, I'm amazed at the arrangement of language and sound that creates such a magical effect.

Love this one too, "Traust". Just such a great sound:


If these first 2 songs interest you, then definitely check out their other music, too. I'll let the music speak for itself, & it speaks to the remote beginnings of our ancient heritage.

It is such an unbelievable display of artistry on all levels- lyrically, musically, visually, & spiritually. I'm so glad I came across this band and their amazing music; it's a real soul-churning experience that I'll keep coming back to from now on.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Alternate Realities CG Challenge

 
VFX artist Clinton Jones challenged computer artists from around the world to create unique video creations using a simple base animation:

The result is an absolutely mind-blowing collection of wildly different interpretations that are ALL astounding.

Having dabbled in 3D computer art, I can appreciate the level of skill that went into creating each one of these videos.

3D Art by Paul Micarelli

However, the compilation of the top 100 animations is almost overwhelming in the sheer talent on display. I have watched it several times already, noticing new details each time.

It is truly a visual and mental treat, & I cannot recommend enough that you just take time to watch the top 100 montage:


Monday, July 12, 2021

Paul Giuseppe Micarelli: First 12 Months

  

I created this video from photos I took every month of my son's 1st year of life:


Paul Giuseppe Micarelli:
First Year, June 2020-2021 

It has been an awe-inspiring experience watching him grow and begin to develop a personality. My wife Loretta & I always knew he was going to be a strong spirit, but he continually amazes us with his willpower, intelligence, and sense of humor... even though he can't talk yet! 

Being a father has proved to be the most challenging, & simultaneously the most rewarding, experience of my life. It has allowed for little time to do things that I used to enjoy, but spending time with my little buddy and helping to raise him is my top priority. Nothing else matters when I see his smiling little Plumpkin Head. My years of cultivating mindfulness and appreciation of the present moment are now giving me the ability to deeply engage the process of raising this little child. 

I pray every day that he lives a long, healthy, & happy life, and that I get to see as much of it as possible. If his first year is any indication, he will have an eventful and memorable life. We feel blessed to have this light in our lives, & we hope he brightens up the world. I love you Paul Giuseppe Micarelli, my son!!!

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Ever-expanding Fractal Triangles

 Sierpinski Sierpinski Sierpinski by Sam Palmer

I am endlessly fascinated by fractal geometry & I saw this animation on /r/woahdude that grabbed my attention. I just kept staring at it's mesmerizing simplicity...

The animation is a brilliant use of Sierpinski triangles to create endlessly looping motion. 

It appears that the triangles are moving relative to each other, but it is just the expanding self-similarity of the recursive fractal pattern shifting through the triangular boundaries.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Summer Flowers & Wildlife

I love the summer & being outside in nature. Our house has a lot of plant & wildlife that I observe and am introducing my son to.

My wife and also enjoy gardening and have many flowering plants around our house. I've been taking pics of some of the beautiful blooms emerging this summer:

Nature Photography by Paul Micarelli

 These are awesome- fire red lilies that I planted last year & are one of my favorites:


A batch of these orange tiger lilies were already at the house, but I love when they bloom, too:

 
This might be my favorite flower, because I have been trying for a couple summers to get vines to cover a trellis, but the landscapers kept cutting it down. I had to put up barriers to prevent them from trimming the vines. Finally, the vines are covering the trellis & it has begun to flower!
 

Within the past couple days, a 2nd large, purple flower has bloomed on the vine!

Bunches of pastel blue/white/yellow hydrangeas:



As for wildlife, we have several creatures inhabiting our backyard, including 3 large groundhogs:


We also have wild turkeys. This momma & her chicks have been hanging around, and my mother-in-law snapped this photo of them standing on our deck railing!


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Paul Giuseppe Micarelli - 1st Birthday Party

The invitation I created for the birthday party, featuring my wild little son!
 

I haven't posted a lot here recently, since I work full time and spend a lot of my free time with my son, who just had his 1st birthday! Being a father is an awesome experience, and I am blessed that Paulie is healthy, smart, and already funny (even though he can't talk)!

A year ago, his birth was simultaneously the most traumatic & beautiful experience of my life. My wife and I planned on a natural home birth, but we found ourselves in a medical emergency when the baby's umbilical cord became prolapsed (pushed over his head) after Loretta's water forcefully broke. I wrote about our story shortly after:

Paul Giuseppe Micarelli - Born 6-13-20!

Having a child born during the COVID pandemic and social upheaval has really been a strange & difficult circumstance. The challenges surrounding Paul Giuseppe's birth have given us a deep, profound appreciation for his presence in our lives.

As I see him developing, I'm enjoying him more & more! He already has a little personality and cracks everyone up with his smile and funny sounds, like his dramatic laugh & grunts when doing something strenuous. Paulie is stubborn, persistent, and rough, but also very sweet and happy. He loves to play and is so curious- he is fascinated by mechanical things like clasps, buttons, and hinges. Currently, he is obsessed with wireless speakers, so I got him a little one for his birthday that is rugged enough to endure his rough handling & drool.

Here are some of the nicknames we've given him:
Lil' Rascal  • Meatball Head • Plumpkin • The Milk Goblin • Peanut • Squeaky Skadattles • Scoots • Uncle Fusster • Crank Sinatra • Lil' C-Blocker • Pig Boy • Little Mr. Fidgewidge

I've made up a character for him that I use to entertain my sister's kids... pretending he is an emperor as I carry him around & they must obey his bidding:

"Caesar Paulgustus"


I am writing this mostly for him, as a record that hopefully he gets to see someday, the same way my grandfather Joseph Micarelli recorded his experiences that I'm now able to appreciate.

Photo Album:

Paul Giuseppe Micarelli - 1st Birthday June 2021

I've also taken some video of his big day & edited together:


Every day during my morning meditation, I pray that my son lives a long, happy, & healthy life, and that Loretta & I get to see him grow up to be a fulfilled adult. I am grateful for his presence in my life and hope his light shines into the world.


Sunday, May 30, 2021

"Snuffy" Music Tracks

I've posted about Black and the Blues, the band that my Dad (Paul J. Micarelli) was in when he was a teenager.

He was also in a few other bands, inluding "Snuffy", (which was named after a dog).

My Dad's former bandmate & long-time friend John Carnuccio supplied me with two tracks from a 45 record featuring song my Dad wrote. I have a copy of the record & my Dad has a bunch of them, but John supplied digital recordings he made, so that I could make & upload the videos below.

Snuffy Band Members:
Mike Burke
John Carnuccio
Joe Daley
Don Merlino
Paul J. Micarelli

 
"I Wanna Change My Life"
by Snuffy 1970's
Written by Paul J. Micarelli
 


"Look"
by Snuffy 1970's
Written by Paul J. Micarelli




Tuesday, May 25, 2021

"GENDER" - 'Thinking Aloud' with 2 Paul Micarelli's

 *Originally posted to the Conscious Living for You blog   


 "GENDER" - 'Thinking Aloud' with 2 Paul Micarelli's

3-7-21
 
Paul Micarelli & son Paul Giuseppe take a walk and talk about interesting topics. 🤔💡👶🏻 
 
***Please LIKE & SHARE, Thank You!*** 
 

 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Invoking the Ancient Amphibious Ancestors


There is a belief in many spiritual traditions that one can seek guidance & wisdom from the ancestors who came before us.

The question becomes, "How far back can we go in our attempts to commune with our ancient predecessors?" Can we connect with the transitional creatures who were emerging from the water to flop around on land, as this graphic suggests? Perhaps we can go back even further, & the single-celled organisms from billions of years ago will guide us on our current life journey.

Joking aside, it is all available, and we carry the information from the entire lineage of life on this planet within us.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Aztec Manuscript Scans

The Vatican Library is a repository for all kinds of unique & rare works. I happened to come across this Aztec manuscript that is scanned in high resolution:

DigiVatLib
Borg.mess.1

The artwork is so far from Western sensibilities, that it may as well be an alien language. It is very image-based and extremely psychedelic. Considering the Mesoamerican absence of our modern taboos on using entheogens, the bizarre nature of the imagery is understandable.

Is that a monkey head hanging off the ear of this figure???

It is a tragedy that so much of the ancient culture of this continent was almost completely wiped out by the colonizers, missionaries, and conquistadors. It is a miracle that these few remnants have survived at all. Thankfully, they have, and we can continue to admire the amazing imagery and ponder the meanings they hold.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Trump Meditation™

 
I recently saw an article about this statue, that is perhaps the most perfect paradox ever created- Donald Trump as a meditating Buddhist monk:

www.usnews.com

Be at Peace, Meditate,
Trump Buddha Statue Designer Tells Former President

The idea of Trump having any sort of serious, deep introspection is obviously absurd. 

However, depicting him as a disciplined & wise Buddhist monk practicing zazen, or sitting meditation, is as crazy of a concept as the sun being made out of billions of ice cubes!

I'll tell you what's great for everyone's state of mind...  not having to hear about his idiotic tweets and asshole behavior as President of the United States every damn day. 

It would be great if somehow Donald came to some profound understanding of Reality, and was able to cultivate inner peace. Unfortunately, he has lived his entire life as a hungry ghost entity, and his dumb ass will almost certainly not change.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

South Park Pandemic & Vaccination Specials

 
South Park is one of my all-time favorite shows, but I haven't watched it in awhile. The creators & writers are mad geniuses who always put the craziest spin on social issues and current events. This week, my wife & I watched the Pandemic & Vaccination Specials. They were the typical hilarious South Park takes on the situation surrounding the COVID pandemic.

We watched the Pandemic Special first, which was from the Fall of 2020. The focus was on society's reliance on authoritarianism when faced with social crises, as the teachers of South Park were replaced with police officers & the school was put on "lock down". 

Another main part of the story was Randy Marsh's marijuana business Tegrity Farms, and his "Pandemic Special," lampooning the corporate exploitation that inevitably arises to take advantage of any opportunity to make a profit.


A couple nights later, we watched the Vaccine Special, which was even funnier. It started off with the comparison of waiting lists for vaccines to the lines in front of nightclubs, which is a hysterically perfect analogy.


They also brilliantly tied in the QAnon conspiracy movement & the belief in a cabal of pedophile elites who are controlling everything behind the scenes. In true South Park "WTF, they're crazy!" fashion, Matt & Trey ended up turning that trope back on themselves.

 
There were so many subtle & not-so-subtle points of parody in these specials, that it kept us constantly looking at each other in disbelief & laughter. These are simply must-see episodes. They are experts at taking taboo subjects and breaching them, and exposing the absurdities in our culture that people take for granted.

It's amazing that the show has been so consistently funny for so long, but it's still absolutely hilarious. The details and satirical genius of South Park make it a true treasure, and watching these specials has made me realize I really have to catch up on the last few seasons.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

"MONEY" - 'Thinking Aloud' with 2 Paul Micarelli's

 *Originally posted to the Conscious Living for You blog 


 "MONEY" - 'Thinking Aloud' with 2 Paul Micarelli's

1-17-21
 
Paul Micarelli & son Paul Giuseppe take a walk and talk about interesting topics. 🤔💡👶🏻 
 
***Please LIKE & SHARE, Thank You!*** 
 

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Springtime in Bloom

 

I was outside with my son yesterday & noticed all the plants & trees blooming. So, I got my macro lens & took some closeups of the flora in my backyard.

Nature Photography
by Paul Micarelli