Sunday, December 30, 2012

Getting in Gear for the New Year

As 2012 comes to an end, we can look back on what the past year meant for us, & wonder what unimaginable things 2013 will have in store.

I try to live each day fully & consciously, with no regrets. I'm fortunate to have relatives & friends to share great times with. My family is very close & we all look forward to the times we are together on vacation or during the holidays.

This holiday season has been no exception, Christmas was alot of fun this year. My nephews are old enough to enjoy all the Xmas craziness. Our holiday dinner & gift-giving were very lively.

I received some excellent Xmas gifts, mostly books, clothes & a couple video games. I already started playing Saints Row the Third, which is like Grand Theft Auto, but even more over the top. So far it really good. On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, I also received 'Journey' which is more of an artistically-inclined title.

I've been playing through the excellent 'Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood' for the last couple months. This weekend, I finally finished the main story to make way for other games. I'll try to write a review of it soon. I previously played 'Assassin's Creed II' & it also took me forever to finish. It takes me so long because I try not to spend alot of my spare time playing games. Also, besides playing all the side missions, I often just wander the virtual spaces in the games- admiring the level of detail & design that goes into these elaborate productions.

I got a few new books I'm looking forward to reading, too. My parents got me "Net of Being", the new book of visionary art by Alex Grey. Here is a recent interview he gave to

Though I've long been familiar with Grey's work, the book is still astonishing in its profound beauty. Several years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Alex & his wife Allyson. They were both great to talk to & Alex signed a print of his painting "The Artist" for me. It's an experience I'll always remember & treasure.

My brothers also got me some great books. One gave me Stephen Colbert's "America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't" which is full of his characteristic ironic humor.

My other brother got me "The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology" which is about the legitimate engineering achievements of the Maya. The technical knowledge of these people has been overshadowed recently by the whole 2012 Calendar hype.
Now that Dec. 21, 2012 has passed... maybe instead of prophecies & end-time predictions, people will focus on the more practical wisdom these people possessed.

There is still much to be learned from the people of ancient cultures. As we continue our journey into the future, it's always important to refer to the mistakes & lessons from history- to continually inform us moving forward.

Terence McKenna Omnibus 2012

The late Terence McKenna was one of the extraordinary minds of the 20th century. I became aware of him at the end of his life around the turn of the millennium. I've listened to many of his loquacious, humorous, & mind-expanding talks since then.

He was a true visionary who was unafraid to look deeply into reality, human nature (in all its weirdness), & the infinite mystery before us.

Most people would find his ideas to be waaaay 'out there', but I see him as a true Crazy Wisdom master.

One of the few things I really thought he was off the mark was his "TimeWave Zero" theory. He postulated that on Dec. 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan Long Count cycle, there would be some kind of manifestation or emergence of a Singularity. In this scenario, "Time," as we know it, would collapse. Consciousness would expand into a higher dimension or state of being.

Based on calculations using his fractal timewave theory, McKenna called this history-ending event: "The Transcendental Object at the End of Time". There may still be some kind of event that alters global consciousness at some point, but he was obviously mistaken to pin it on a specific date.

Over the past year. I've been watching the progress of a video series, documenting McKenna's ideas & lectures. The final episode was recently uploaded to coincide with the end of 2012, so here is the link to the series & the first video embedded:

The Solar Vortex

It may not be 100% scientifically accurate, but I think this video illustrates an interesting way of looking at the motion of the solar system through space.

This animation is simply looking at a process beyond the scope of our immediate perception, from another frame of reference. Relativity is essentially the recognition of different consciousnesses experiencing different things, depending on their situation. With modern technology, humans can more accurately model frames of reference outside our own experience. These vast, cosmic processes are now being looked at in new ways that may help illuminate us greatly.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa is a Communist

I made this poster to expose the danger of The Red Socialist Menace from the North.

Santa Claus is the ultimate proponent of wealth redistribution & the anti-Capitalist sentiment known as "giving".

Santa, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas...this subversive character has many aliases, like a terrorist.

His example is teaching the children that it's okay to just give things to other people, with no form of compensation. This foreign threat is clearly anti-American, and is taking money from the most important people- the "job creators" who benefit from Western culture's insatiable thirst for crass commercialism.

Maybe one day, the USA will do the right thing, & take out this hostile invader with an unmanned drone strike on his flying sleigh.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Christmas Craziness 2012

The holiday season is upon us once again.

Today I will be going to my sister's for Christmas Eve festivities. We traditionally play The White Elephant game, which is always fun & hilarious.

Here's some random Christmas craziness I've come across recently:

The insufferable idiots on Fox & Friends, talking to Santa Claus about the silly "War on Christmas".

This is a great post with scans from the Christmas toy wish books from 1978, the year I was born:

An awesome example of needlework, based on a scene with Will Ferrell & Artie Lange from the movie Elf:


Hopefully, Christmas isn't cancelled this year...
It looks like Santa has run into some trouble:

Never mind, it looks like Santa ready to ride... in all his psychedelic glory:

...and finally, a Christmas greeting from Cousin Eddie, in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation":

Saturday, December 22, 2012 A New Day, A New Baktun

Me, at the Temple of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza, Mexico 2006

Yesterday was December 21, 2012, the end of the Great Cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar. Unsurprisingly, the world did not go down in flames- nor was there a global higher consciousness shift.

Although I've tried to understand & admire the Mayan awareness of cosmic order, I've also always been skeptical of claims of some kind of drastic event or catastrophe happening on that date. I'm glad that it wasn't Doomsday, because I've got alot going on this weekend & I'm tying to celebrate Christmas!

Basically, all that happened was the passing of an artificial measure of time, created by the Maya of Mexico. The astronomers & mathematicians of the Mayan culture were brilliant. It's a tragedy that so much of their knowledge has been lost to human memory.

Monkey Buddha Archives:
The hype about prophecies & doomsday predictions overshadows the amazing ideas they had about the natural cycles of the universe. Their conception of time, and therefore their calendar, involve the cosmic scales that cosmologists & theoreticians grapple with today. Only the Maya didn't have integrated circuit computers or data analysis software. They had generations of observation, calculations, and meticulous record-keeping, all wiped out when the Church & conquistadors subjugated Central America.

I was fortunate to travel with my family to Mexico in 2006 & experience an amazing week. I have told many great stories about the week in the Yucatan, & I"ll never forget it. The highlight for me was visiting the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. Walking into the main plaza, I was awestruck by the site of the famous Temple of Kukulkan. This classic pyramid is known for the staircase, which forms a shadow of a serpent down the pyramid, which ends at the bottom with a sculpted head of the feathered serpent. This only happens during the solstice, and to further align itself to the Sun, the total number of steps + the platform = 365, as in the solar year. Like the Egyptians, they encoded their cosmic wisdom into their monumental architecture.

So... we start a new cycle in that calendar, but Time is not bound by a man-made conception of it. Despite or memories of the past & mental models of the future, we are ever-present in the continuous flow of NOW.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Da Vinci's Challenge" Game Promo

Recently, I uploaded the above promo video for the award-winning strategy game,

It's an introduction to the many mysteries of 'Da Vinci's Challenge', which I invented back when I was a graphic design student in college.

The circular game board is the ancient symbol known as The Flower of Life- which can be found in sacred art & architecture throughout history.

Players place Oval & Triangle pieces in their color on the board, to form "Secret Symbols" of different point values.

'Da Vinci's Challenge' is a creation that I think transcends any particular time or demographic.  I believe it has many possibilities for future development in different media. This 'teaser trailer' was made from footage shot for a longer video that I'm planning on putting together. It will hopefully be part of a Kickstarter campaign to fund development of a 'Da Vinci's Challenge' digital game app.

I'll post any big developments here, but you can also "Like" the page below on Facebook to get updates & related content.

The Official "Da Vinci's Challenge" Facebook Page:

Here is the website for our company, 3 Amoebas, Inc. with more info & links about the game:

My brother helped me out immensely in editing this video. Here's the website for his company, MicPros, which also has a link to his YouTube page:

"Da Vinci's Challenge" TM & © 3 Amoebas, Inc.
US Patent No: 7,114,721

America, Guns, & Perpetual Violence

Unfortunately, America's news cycle has been dominated by yet another tragic mass shooting. This particular incident is of a truly horrible nature, because it took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School- in which very young children were senselessly slain.

Last night, I was at Sunday dinner over my parents' house. As I played with the kids, my preschool-age nephews & a little girl who is like family, my mind reeled at the thought of someone harming a defenseless child. How could someone so brutally destroy the innocent, joyful lives of those little kids?!?! I don't usually resort to vulgarities on this blog... but it's pretty goddamn nauseating.

The cynically realistic part of me recognizes that it's just one example of the endless atrocities and tragedies inherent in human existence. There are tens of thousands of children dying every day, from hunger alone. Life can be a horrible, messy business. However, you'd have to have a total lack of empathy to not be outraged by such a revolting act as happened in that school.

The main social issue currently rearing it's head, once again, is the debate over "gun control". Personally, I don't think the desire for the outright banning of legal firearms is ultimately as effective as gun safety & regulation.

Despite always having been a pacifist & not really a 'gun person', I recognize the possible need for deadly force- if used for defense. I think citizens should be able to own weapons & guns... stockpiles of them, if they want. Even though it can be argued that the rights of the 2nd Amendment apply only to well-regulated militias, I wouldn't interpret it that strictly. Even though alot of people may disagree, I think citizens should even be allowed to own heavy weaponry like assault rifles.

My main argument for widespread gun ownership is for self-defense of the population, against:
1) government tyranny 2) personal crime or 3) foreign invasion.

As long as we inhabit this dangerous physical realm, individuals & communities should have sufficient means to defend themselves from more heavily-armed threats.

I know the right-wingers are freaking out that Obama's coming to get their guns, but I don't think the extent of the paranoia is warranted. I'm not saying there aren't elements in the government who would love to see a disarmed populace. That's when the real "systems of control" would kick in. I just think there's so many friggin' guns out there, it would be tough for Big Brother to snatch 'em all up. Frankly, I don't think anybody really knows what the hell to do about the regulation of guns in this country!

I do think there needs to be some balance between legal ownership of firearms, & the inability for mentally impaired people to have access to them. Of course, there will never be a perfect system, but there is always room for improvement.

One thing that's always emphasized on the news, which I find to be a complete red herring, is the perennial idea that video games are the problem with society. I've played the most violent & depraved games out there. However, I have never had the urge to do physical harm to another human being. As I said before, I'm a pacifist at heart- no matter what crazy ass things I see on TV, in movies, or in video games. Sure, there are impressionable people out there who are easily influenced by certain media. Does that mean everyone else has to be scapegoated for it?  

Like pretty much anything else... guns & video games are only hazardous when used by people who are mentally unstable in the first place.

The underlying problem which people are beginning to recognize, is our country's social schizophrenia, its treatment of mental disorders, & the lack of publicly available health care, in general.


One aspect of this nation's health problem is the over-medication of the country's youth, using psychoactive prescription drugs. The modern answer to dealing with people's troubled minds is to prescribe the appropriate pill. These synthetic substances are tested in clinical trials, but it's all a farce. There's no way you can truly predict all the toxic effects of a potent chemical cocktail- especially when it comes to altering the function of a undeveloped & unstable mind.

Huffington Post:

Some people think the answer is to have more God & prayer in schools. Mandating religion & prayer is not going to prevent a rampage like this. A murderous lunatic could be inspired by 'God's Will' as much as anything else, so belief in God won't stop a madman. Whatever you think it is,"God" is clearly not going to stop the madness, either... despite any prayers that might be offered. Nobody's keeping kids from praying in their own heart while they're in school. They can go to their respective religious services or gatherings outside of the classroom to find spiritual community.

I'd prefer to see the widespread utilization of "Mindfulness Meditation" classes, as part of all health curriculum from K-12. I would also like for the government to subsidize free lessons at community colleges or libraries. It would be the best investment the government ever made. Meditation classes do not need to be connected to spiritual content at all, in order to be effective at bringing peace of mind.

 Mindfulness is simply the practice of quieting the mind & cultivating self-awareness.

This type of instruction would go a long way to giving people of all ages techniques to soothe the chaos in their mind.

Coincidentally, I just came across this NY Times article about meditative practice:


There will NEVER be perfect, universal peace in this corporeal world.

This is a harsh truth.

However- if we can provide more effective mental health care & tools for self-improvement to individuals, society at large will be less likely to suffer these kind of preventable tragic events.

There are many people in the world suffering greatly. Some are simply unable to cope with the dissonant realities being perceived by their senses & mind. No healthy person can contemplate the depths of madness that would lead a person to carry out something so evil.

Thankfully, this kind of behavior is still an anomaly. We can hope that these tragedies force people to confront these big issues that need to be addressed. It's only through awareness, intelligent debate, and the open sharing of solutions that society can overcome its many serious problems.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 Geminid Meteor Shower Watch

Tonight, I bundled up heavily & laid out a blanket on my cellar door, under the clear night sky. I decided to stay up late & watch the Geminid Meteor Shower.

Huffington Post:

I live near the center of a small town, so it's definitely not pitch black out. It's dark enough, though. Tonight is clear & it's a new moon, so I can see alot of stars. In a couple hours, I saw at least a few dozen shooting stars. There were several really bright ones, with visible trails. It was definitely worth sitting out on this 35ยบ winter night to see.

Basically what's happening is that the Earth is passing through a debris field of some large, rocky object. As the pieces of asteroid or comet hits the atmosphere, it burns up. It's human nature to be awestruck to these mysterious rocks from the sky. Ancient people, without our technical knowledge, must have viewed these celestial events with wonder & some fear.

Thanks to the modern-day tech, namely the Stellarium app for my iPhone, I was able to tell that the brightest object in the sky tonight was, in fact, Jupiter. It was directly overhead & I lay there marveling that I was able to visually perceive a huge ball of gas that far away. Since it's a planet, all the light we see is reflected from the Sun.

Out in the infinity of space, there are countless stars, & they are even more incomprehensible distances away. I always enjoy being able to relax & ponder my particular experience in this vast cosmic process.

It's easy to feel insignificant when faced with the expanse of space, but our bodies are a whole world compared to a cell... or even a molecule! Our universe is One Infinite Fractal. Human perception of this multidimensional fractal is only zoomed in at one level, but there are countless levels- it's a continuum! Our level is not more or less significant than another. It just is...

Before going in, I saw a 2nd meteor follow right behind a 1st one, almost right into Jupiter. Within a minute, I saw another one go right between Castor & Pollux- the 'heads' of the constellation Gemini that give the meteor shower its name. I thought that was a good sign to call it a night...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Nature of Reality in the Present Moment

There have been endless books, essays, & discussions about the nature of our experience. I have tried to absorb many people's insights from throughout history, in an effort to affect my own consciousness.

A very wise & insightful friend introduced me to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. I saw the book she was reading, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, which led me to watch several of his talks online. He is like a German Yoda. I consider myself to be a very laid back personality, but Meister Tolle is probably one of the most chilled-out dudes I've ever seen. Even on video, he emanates a sense of peace & good-natured calm.


Like any guru, he is simply a human & has no special powers. However the essence of his teachings resonates with me, and they are no doubt helpful to many people.

The main focus of his lectures is the importance of stopping the mind-stream, that produces the endless chatter inside our heads.

This internal dialogue of our conscious mind, known as The Monkey Mind to Buddhists, drowns out our ability to directly & fully appreciate the present moment...the continual experience of NOW.

Our mind somehow constructs the models of reality we call "The Past" & "The Future". However, these ideas are just creations of our mind used to navigate the flow of our experience.

When Tolle talks about the essential, pure stillness of the mind, I cannot help thinking back to a near-death experience I had in my early 20's. My consciousness shifted into what I can only describe into an all-encompassing bright white light. The closest analog I can find is the idea of The Clear Light, also in Buddhist teachings. There was no thought, perception, or feeling. It was like my brain had rebooted, & I was getting a white start-up screen inside my mind.

I've been able to refer back to that empty, yet illuminating pure state when I try to still my mind. Maybe it was just my neurons firing in a last gasp of activity, but I feel like a window was opened into another aspect of the process of consciousness.

When you cleanse the mind of mental analysis, learned knowledge, & emotional judgement... even temporarily... you can begin to glimpse the infinity we are a part of.

"Sense of Right Alliance" Action Figures

My professional career has consisted mostly of designing graphics or packaging for games & toys.

Even though I consider myself a pro who aims to produce quality work, I also really get a kick out of seeing absurdly bad design.

Alot of toys are made overseas in China or India, especially cheap products & knockoffs. However, most U.S. toy companies at least have the sense to get their graphic design work done here in The States. When done in another country, the language & cultural differences make for hysterically awful design.

Although it's great for a laugh, it also makes me feel secure to know that creative jobs, like mine, are not in any immediate danger of being shifted to cheaper labor in other countries. Consumers know when something is crap- by the quality of the art used in the design of the product & packaging.

Here is a classic I recently came across, a set of action figures labelled the "Sense of Right Alliance". It is a collection of Earth's mightiest heroes... plus Shrek & a Car?!?!:

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Visualizing Economic Issues

 The political process driving the decisions about our nation's economic priorities is absurd. It's hard to pry facts out of the discussions by pundits & political operatives. Luckily there are some people doing research, trying to get some actual information.


In particular, the Republicans in Congress are publicly taking a stand for the mega-wealthy top 1% - by proposing to raise the Medicare eligibility age, instead of raising tax rates a few percentage points on the top earners.

Speaker Boehner & the House GOP are taking some flack for their crappy proposals from other conservatives, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Daily Kos

Raising the Medicare age is one of the many stupid, bad ideas floating around these budget discussions right now. It's insane that it's considered "shared sacrifice" when the budget is balanced by screwing old, poor, & sick people. Meanwhile, millionaires and mega-corporations making record profits on the whole are expected to be given a pass.

Paul Krugman summed up the masochist aspect of this approach to economics perfectly:

RAW Story:

I like to personally look into things deeply before making conclusions, so I've actually visited the budget proposal sites for both parties:

The White House

House of Representatives Budget Office

Here is my official analysis of all the budget details:

Although I've read the overviews and scanned some of the content, looking at all those tables & numbers makes me remember how happy I am to not be an accountant. I'm just not too interested in reading pages of charts & figures.

All I know is that things are getting worse for many people & alot better for a few. There are ways to balance society & the economy so capitalist markets can exist, with government playing an effective role in regulating society for the benefit of the population-at-large. 
...I know, I'm a real dreamer.

Anyway since I'm not really trying to pick apart details, I've seen some charts recently that reflect general trends. These trends should be at the center of any discussion of revenues vs. spending cuts to public programs.

First of all, the idea that we should completely avoid taxing the extreme wealth in this country is idiotic. Of course, we also need to cut imprudent government spending & continually reform it all aspects. However, rich people & corporations can obviously afford to sacrifice for the system more than someone disadvantaged or barely getting by. The ultra-wealthy are enjoying the lowest tax rates in 50 years. The financial crisis can't be that bad if we don't need their "sacrifice" too.

Here's a NYT chart showing the tax rates of the past 50+ years:

One of the funny things about hearing how the Obama Administration is "anti-business" is that corporate profits in general are at record highs. Unfortunately, worker's wages are at an all-time low in relation to GDP. If Chairman 'MAO'bama was really the Great Communist Menace, this would be the exact opposite:

I also think it's clear that the government has a role to play in subsidizing certain industries. The idea of a completely "Free Market" is delusional. People think "entitlements" & "welfare" are giant drains on the economy, but government enables bad behavior through corporate welfare on a much larger scale. The way Wal-Mart takes advantage of its workers is a prime example.

Think by Numbers:

Of course, many of these problems have solutions... some that neither party are willing to advance.

One idea that makes too much sense is a "Medicare-for-All" approach to healthcare. Everybody pays into the healthcare system & it is disengaged from private industry. I don't see why an employer should be responsible for providing private health insurance. It seems like this is an area where the federal government absolutely needs to be involved in taxation to "provide for the general welfare."

Anyway, trying to figure all these problems out is crazy, and it's why I have no desire to get into politics. However, I think it's every citizen's right & duty to speak up about how we think a solution could be found.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Appreciating the Night Sky

I saw a link to this video on BoingBoing about the profound sight of the star-filled night sky.

If possible, it's best to view the video in fullscreen HD.

Yosemite National Park:

Even though I live in a relatively populated area, it's still possible on clear nights for me to look up and see a starry sky.

When I go to a more isolated lake in the Pocono mountains for vacation, I sit out on the dock with my brothers & my brother-in-law, late into each night. While relaxing with beer & cigars by the lake, we get to see a much more brilliant sky, where the Milky Way band is easily visible. Known to the ancients as the Great Rift, it's easy to see why this celestial feature instilled such wonder in our ancestors.

 The Milky Way (& it's alignment to other heavenly bodies) is the central focus of all the theories about the end of the Mayan Baktun this month- December 2012. I've talked about this phenomenon before, but I've got plans for Dec. 22... so I'm hoping the 'galactic alignment' doesn't screw things up too much!

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Anyone with an imaginative spirit is naturally enthralled by the vast cosmos that surrounds us.

It's hard NOT to feel like you're mind is going to explode when you think deeply about the scale and complexity of the Universe.
It is entirely possible to oscillate between nihilistic feelings of utter insignificance... to ecstatic, awestruck wonder at being One with this amazing existence.

From Paul's Portrait

On a related note:
One app on my iPhone that's indispensable is Stellarium. It is augmented reality software that lets you pick out stars & planets in the sky. It is an amazing use for a smartphone that would have seemed impossible less than a decade ago.
The other day, I was out to eat with my parents & I saw a bright object right next to the moon. Using Stellarium, I was able to point out that it was Jupiter!
It definitely comes in handy while sitting out at night looking at the stars with friends or family.

Pixar & Dreamworks- Movie Logo Designs

 As a graphic designer, I know firsthand the importance of logo design and product branding.

I've been able to work with businesses of varying sizes, from small businesses to mega-corporations. When you are dealing with large companies, decisions tend to happed by committee.
Having a bunch of different people providing input for something vital like a logo can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances. When there's a strong & inspired vision leading the process, however, good results are more likely.

Pixar Animation Studios, one of the most successful companies ever, is the spawn of two geniuses who are my personal inspirations.

Pixar began as an offshoot of George Lucas's graphics division at Lucasfilm.
Then, Apple founder Steve Jobs invested in its corporate formation. He also provided the spirit & vision for the company that continues today.

I came across this excellent article which examines logos from the movies by Pixar & Dreamworks. I love this kind of insightful graphic analysis: 


Ultimately, though, all art is a matter of opinion. Although I may not agree with some of the critiques, it's always good to hear people's reasoning.

Hitman Monkey

This captioned photo has been around awhile, but it's still ridiculous & funny: