Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meditation on Life & Death

As a college design student, I created an interesting booth for my senior show.

One part of my exhibit was the hand-crafted prototype of the game, based on the Flower of Life, which became "Da Vinci's Challenge™".

In another part of my exhibit, I had graphic art & found items, accompanied by meditative quotes. At the time, I had begun to explore Eastern spiritual philosophies which expanded my perspective greatly.

For instance, I smashed a porcelain laughing buddha, with the quote: "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha!"

One quote that was used with the Death Buddha I made below, & which I reflect on almost daily, was this:

"Of All Mindfulness Meditations, 
That on Impermanence and Death is Supreme."


I recently came across this painting, which initiated this post. It pictures a monk visualizing the process of bodily decay after death:

Although revulsive for many to think about, it is important to expose yourself to the natural cycle that follows the departure of life force from the body.

In addition to preparing the mind for its point of departure, meditating on the reality of Death should be meant to give you a greater appreciation for Life... right now!

Fully grasping the inescapable, impermanent nature of our existence should make any person eager to completely fulfill each precious moment they experience.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Poconos 2012 Photos

From Poconos 2012

I've uploaded some pics from my recent week in the Poconos.

Photo Album

They are mostly nature pics & shot of the amazing mountain scenery. The lake we stay on always has stunning sunsets, in pastel or golden colors.

The first day we were there, we went to Jim Thorpe, PA & took the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. Then we walked around the town, visiting the many neat shops there. I met an artist in one art gallery who showed me some decorative furniture he had in storage with the Flower of Life motif on them.

Early in the week we also went to the flea market I talked about in my last post.

Although I didn't go on any long mountain hikes this year, we did take a short hike to one of my favorite scenic places, Hawk Falls, in Hickory Run State Park. There is a picturesque waterfall at the bottom of the trail & we did some diving into the ice cold mountain water.

There are also some pics of the ridiculous shish kebab feast my brother grilled one night. We ate 10lbs+ of steak, chicken & shrimp kebabs.

The fishing was pretty good & I usually went out by myself on a kayak. One night, I was kayaking alone on the lake & fishing from dinner until after midnight. There was no moon, so it was dark, perfectly quiet & a wonderfully peaceful time out on the water.

My family always has a great time on vacation & this trip was no exception.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flea Market Finds

When I was in the Poconos last week, my family all went to a big outdoor flea market.

I don't usually buy anything, but we all love to look at the tons of crazy crap people are selling.

My sister started the idea of having a contest to see who could find the most insane item at a flea market. Of course, "insane" is one of those qualities that's hard to define, but I know it when I see it.

It's always hard to commit to buying something, since there might well be an even crazier thing at the next table. As soon as I saw it, I was pretty confident that my pick was a winner. (see below)

Anyway, halfway into the trip, I finally figured out that I should just start taking photos of the wackiest stuff.

After I saw this ridiculous fancy Ladycat, I started snapping pics:

It's definitely 'magical', but I can't imagine who would hang this plaque up in their home:

 I thought this totally 80's Body Rap toy was Vanilla Ice bad & totally hysterical:

Some guy in a scooter & his overly-enthusiastic son were tending a big tent of weapons.

This was their sales display:

This speaks for itself, a sorry bastard flushing himself down a toilet- "Goodbye Cruel World":

Finally, this may (or may not..) be me with my prize find... a breast-shaped creamer cup:

I was browsing the table & the nipple cup was turned backwards, apparently to protect the eyes of the youth. The guy working there looked me right in the eyes & slowly turned the cup around to face me. It was only $2, & I immediately told him "I'm buying it."

My brother-in-law was standing right behind me as this was happening, eating wasabi nuts. I turned to look at him, & he simply said, "Game Over."

As an artist, I have to say, it's actually a well-crafted ceramic piece! I can appreciate the artistry as much as the absurdity.

At the end of the week, I fulfilled my promise to drink beer out of it. I don't think I'll post that pic here, though...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back From the Poconos...

 I'm finally back from my annual vacation at the Pocono Mountains in PA.

My family all stay in a house right on a lake & we always have a great time. The week consists of alot of fishing, eating, drinking, & lounging around by the water.

Until I have more time to post, here's a pic of one of my favorite scenic places- Hawk Falls at Hickory Run State Park:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Da Vinci's Challenge™" & Flower of Life History

 The original hand-made version of
"Da Vinci's Challenge™"
featuring the Flower of Life game board

As a college design student, one of my senior projects was to create an original board game. At the time, my interest was piqued in ancient history & sacred art traditions. I read about the pattern of interlocking circles called "The Flower of Life' & thought it would make a perfect game board.

It was one of those lightning-strike moments I'll never forget. I had an immediate & complete vision of how the game should be, from the rules to the visual appearance.

To give it a look like it was from the ruins of an ancient temple, I made the original version out of stone- with a copper playing surface & wood case. I had never worked with some of these materials before, but my professor pushed me to make it into the amazing piece of fully-functional art in the photo above.

In the beginning of my career as a graphic designer, Briarpatch produced it as a retail board game, "Da Vinci's Challenge™". Leonardo da Vinci himself studied the properties & proportions of the equidistant, geometrically arranged circles.


To maintain my unique vision for a game using a Flower of Life game board pattern, I patented the game play (Patent US7114721). Inside the oval & triangle spaces formed by the interlocking circles, you must form "secret symbols" with your playing pieces. These are familiar patterns worth more points as they increase in complexity.

This summer, I'm FINALLY working toward developing "Da Vinci's Challenge™" as a digital app for mobile devices like the iPhone. If things go according to plan, I'll post updates here on the process. This past weekend, my brother worked with me to film a test shoot & edit a rough cut of the pitch video that'll be used to raise funding for the project. We inserted some of the graphic elements I've been creating & it's looking like it might turn out pretty cool.

"Da Vinci's Challenge™" is probably the single creation I'd like to live on after I'm gone, because it really does contain profound qualities that transcend the label of a mere 'game'. With the right perspective, it can be seen as a reflective meditation on the mind & Reality itself.

It also possesses a rich legacy, that spans human history.

Through one of my random Google searches, I just came across an excellent Flickr group. It's a pool of photos showing the many uses of the Flower of Life & the central 6-petal motif in ancient art.

Here's the front page for the Flickr group, with some basic Flower of Life & Petal Motif info. 

Here's a link to the full photo pool, with a collection of amazing examples of this motif used around the world.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Microbial Meditations

This weekend my friend who I've know all my life & who's going to med school in NY, was in town. We basically stayed in his pool & drank beers all afternoon on Saturday, when the temp was 100ยบ+. We always have great conversations & now he's becoming even more knowledgeable about medicine & science, in general.

Some of our talking about physiology & also the microscopic world made me think of a few articles I've seen recently. They're about micro-organisms, the tiny lifeforms that make up most of our 'being'.


We "human beings" are more of an ecology of life, rather than 'individual' entities.


Bacteria aren't the only symbiotic life forms within our skin...


Here is a clickable graphic, showing the various things throughout our body:

Scientific American:

On a more disturbing note, there's evidence that micro-organisms may also be able to directly effect a more complex animal (like a human).

 Raw Story: 

People gave George Lucas alot of crap for adding the 'Midi-chlorian' concept to the Star Wars universe, but I thought it was an interesting angle. The idea of trillions of tiny, living things creating energy fields that can be sensed or manipulated is an explanation that mirrors the vital necessity of these unseen organisms in the real world.

One thing I love about modern computing is the ability to visualize the reality that lies beyond our immediate senses. There've been many animations created that make processes on the cosmic & microscopic scales able to be easily understood. 

This is a good video showing the life of the dreaded flu virus:

Finally, here's a remix of a Bjork song I came across while searching Google for things in this post. Leave it to her awesome craziness to write a song comparing love to a virus.

Friday, July 06, 2012

"Obamacare" Explained

Even though I haven't commented on politics recently, the recent Supreme Court ruling narrowly upholding the "Obamacare" law (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was actually a pretty big deal... with real results for millions of people.

On Reddit there's an excellent breakdown of some of important points of the legislation:

Whether you think it was good or bad is probably determined by your ideology & sources of editorial viewpoints. I try to analyze the facts & understand the arguments pro vs. con. With something as complicated and colossal as the health care system (or education / banking / etc.), there's alot of issues that need to be considered.

Although 'The Affordable Care Act' leaves the privatized health insurance shark pit intact, it does seem to begin to address some of the massive problems with the existing system. Most of the over-reaction to it is an echo of the hyper-reactionaries at Fox News or talk radio who scream about tax hikes & death panels. Ultimately, though, the law is only a band-aid for a festering situation in which our health is at the mercy of corporate greed & malfeasance.

In my American utopia, health care would be a totally nationalized health care system. Yes... government-run health care, providing for the public welfare, like most civilized countries. For some reason, this is considered a "liberal" position, even though it's the only one that makes sense.

Why do we give members of Congress & the heroes in the Armed Forces socialized government health care, if it's such a crappy, evil system? ...& how is the current corporate health insurance racket a better option, in any way?!? 

The private health insurance industry should be banned by an act of Congress & we should have single-payer. The status quo is complete nonsense & it's probably one of the most crippling aspects of our economy.

There is NO reason why an employer should be made responsible for their employees' general health insurance. It's f*ing crazy. If everyone was paying into a government system, the employers in this country, small & large, would be freed of the private health insurance burden...which is enough to crush some small businesses & would be completely unnecessary under a different system.

Would there be waste, fraud, & abuse in government-run health care? Yes! Of course!!! ... but the difference is it wouldn't be the insatiable for-profit vampire we have now, & we can vote for people who have ideas to change the public system. The current free-market solution is a disaster & completely indefensible. If you are defending it, you must be either an insurance executive or a lobbyist... otherwise it's insane.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Suggestions for Success

I thought the set of suggestions was a good list of beneficial qualities & attitudes to cultivate.

Of course, it's probably impossible to consciously embody all of these ideals at once.

Keeping a list like this can help us be mindful of the way we are living, though.

Here's some more quotes by H. Jackson Brown Jr.