Thursday, April 18, 2013


It's been a few weeks since I've been able to post. As all efforts are being focused on a rather large document/presentation that will likely set the tone for the next major career movement.

But all is well, Project Sunlight, the eco game app I've been helping to produce, has been unveiled at UCSC and we are busy getting a "proof of concept" prototype up and running for all to see.

Your Turn Football is in the can, and the Pick6 dev team is actively looking for major partner to support this amazing cross-platform game app.

The Sana Cruz Museum of Discovery continues to explore new installation ideas. Here are a few of mine:

Most importantly though, for the third year in a row, my April Fools joke had sufficient and satisfying social network traction. Anyone who knows me (or reads this blog) would bet easy money that I will never, ever put ink to my body. No offense to my tattooed friends (of which there are many) but c'mon, me? And yet this:

Fooled enough folks to keep me motivated for next April 1. Oh how I love a bit of fun, so needed right now to balance out an extraordinarily busy time.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Balinese Gamelan, the "Interlock Flow" and resolving the dualistic mind: Pt 3

In Balinese gamelan, the Gongs occupy an elevated place of reverence within the orchestra. They are, collectively, the "spiritual heart" of the group, and warrant special treatment in the form of specific offerings and prayers. Gongs are the foundation pulse of gamelan composition, an over-arching frequency that acts as both a container and guide so that the rest of the players find and hold their orientation through the performance. In keeping with classic Balinese dualism, the Gong cycles represent death and rebirth, with the experience of Life created by beautiful music in-between.

While appearing deceptively slow and simple as compared to the fast and furious interlocking notation of the Gangsa, the Gong player's role in the gamelan is considered the most important. They are the keepers of structure, and typically have mastered all the other instruments in the group, so that they may know every note and every sound intimately. In this way, the Gong player holds the full integrity of the music within the cyclic pulses that manifest as the life's blood of Balinese culture.

The Gong holds space for the magic to exist, in the same way that the push-pull pulse of quantum physics creates perceivable reality. I blogged about "quantum possibility waves" in Pt. 2, and how on the smallest measurable level, the Interlock Flow appears to be the dominant mechanic driving everything we know, as a resolved, perfectly harmonized balance created between infinite dualistic forces.

But what about the largest measurable level? I find it absolutely fascinating that all life on Earth is contained within an atmospheric container created by two opposing forces, the highly conductive surface of the Earth (Yin) and the opposing, pressurized perimeter of the ionosphere (Yang). Electrical activity on the planet excites these two forces, and because they are restricted within this tight container, the effect can actually be measured. The natural frequency of the planet then, also known as the "Schumann Resonance" is 7.83 Hz.

But what is even more compelling, is how this pulse manifests on a personal level. Between the dualistic cycle of Awake and Asleep, the brain creates a unique wave frequency. These waves, commonly known as Alpha waves, are generated during the short time immediately before the conscious nervous system switches over to the subconscious. This is the universal human experience of deep relaxation, and if maintained while awake, can be the gateway to deeper and perhaps more meaningful levels of consciousness. This optimized natural pulse, a measurable waveform of 7.83 Hz (!), was called "OM" by the ancient Indian Rishis and is the foundation frequency of both personal Peace, and the container of all Life as we know it. As above, so below. 

In order to be qualified Gong players in this giant musical score we are creating, we need to understand much more than we currently do. While the natural frequency of 7.83 Hz would have been the anchor pulse to guide our collective orientation just a few decades ago, there has been a massive, unprecedented onslaught of man-made frequencies from cell technology, military technology, and so on. These "unnatural" frequencies are now so dense, if they were visible to the eye, we would likely not be able to see ten feet in front of us, anywhere where there are large populations of people. No wonder then, why getting back to nature feels so good.

On a final note, I am working on new ways to connect with my own personal peace and resolve the dualistic mind, using some of this information to construct a more effective visualization. Simple procedure: While playing a pure 7.83 Hz tone through headphones, I imagine the dualities that push and pull my heart (the human electromagnetic epicenter) and slowly close the gap between them until they reach a single, balanced point. Sometimes that point is just a radiating pulse, sometimes it is a person or symbol. But the idea is always the same, in my heart, I call this place "Peace".

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Wizard of Words

I admit, I've never been all that keen on the discipline of Astrology. While I love and am completely fascinated with the intersection of science and esoterica, Astrology has always seemed to me a vague, commercialized and cartoony form of sacred study. And call me a control freak, but the thought of lending even the small choices in life to some random person's creative interpretations of my position in the cosmos seems, um, kind of ridiculous. I tend to avoid horoscopes altogether, preferring the less externally guided path of listening to my own personal navigator, come what may. To each his own, of course. I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with being interested, I've just never felt the attraction myself.

It's a bit ironic then, that my favorite author of the moment is indeed a world-famous Astrologer.  Rob Brezsny's latest effort Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia is totally rocking my world, even though I am neither paranoid nor interested in his first profession. His book, however, is genius. Rob is the grand-poobah of word wizardry, and uses this skill to effortlessly frolic in the deepest waters of the soul. I'm copy/pasting, in his own words, the description of this awesome book:

"DEFINITION: Pronoia is the antidote for paranoia. It's the understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly. It's a mode of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

OBJECTIVE OF PRONOIA: To explore the secrets of becoming a wildly disciplined, fiercely tender, ironically sincere, scrupulously curious, aggressively sensitive, blasphemously reverent, lyrically logical, lustfully compassionate Master of Rowdy Bliss.

HYPOTHESES: Evil is boring. Cynicism is idiotic. Fear is a bad habit. Despair is lazy. Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is your birthright. Receptivity is a superpower.

PROCEDURE: Act as if the universe is a prodigious miracle created for your amusement and illumination. Assume that secret helpers are working behind the scenes to assist you in turning into the gorgeous masterpiece you were born to be. Join the conspiracy to shower all of creation with blessings.

GUIDING QUESTION: "The secret of life," said sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, "is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is -- it must be something you cannot possibly do." What is that task for you?

UNDIGNIFIED MEDITATIONS TO KEEP YOU HONEST: Brag about what you can't do and don't have. Confess profound secrets to people who aren't particularly interested. Pray for the success of your enemies while you're making love. Change your name every day for a thousand days.

MYTHIC ROLE MODELS: Prometheus and Pronoia. In Greek mythology, Pronoia was the consort of Prometheus, the divine rebel who pilfered a glowing coal from his fellow gods so that he could slip the gift of fire to humans.

TOP-SECRET ALLIES: Sacred janitors, benevolent pranksters, apathy debunkers, lyrical logicians, ethical outlaws, aspiring masters of curiosity, homeless millionaires, humble megalomaniacs, hedonistic midwives, lunatic saints, sly optimists, mystical scientists, dissident bodhisattvas, macho feminists, and socialist libertarians who possess inside information about the big bang.

DAILY PRACTICE: Push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart -- even as you always accept yourself for exactly who you are with all of your so-called imperfections.

POSSIBLE REWARDS: You will be able to claim the rewards promised you at the beginning of time -- not just any old beauty, wisdom, goodness, love, freedom, and justice, but rather: exhilarating beauty that incites you to be true to yourself; crazy wisdom that immunizes you against the temptation to believe your ideals are ultimate truths; outrageous goodness that inspires you to experiment with irrepressible empathy; generous freedom that keeps you alert for opportunities to share your wealth; insurrectionary love that endlessly transforms you; and a lust for justice that's leavened with a knack for comedy, keeping you honest as you work humbly to liberate everyone in the world from ignorance and suffering.

USAGE NOTE: We employ the adjectival form "paranoiac" rather than "pronoid." That way, it rhymes with "aphrodisiac" and resonates with "paradisiacal" instead of being conditioned by "paranoid."

DISCLAIMER: Material in this book may be too intense and controversial for some readers. It contains graphic scenes of peace, love, joy, passion, reverence, splendor, and understanding. You will not find any references to harsh, buzzing fluorescent lights in a cheap hotel room where a heroin dealer plots to get revenge against the authorities at his old high school by releasing sarin gas into the teachers' lounge. There are no reports of Nazi skinheads obsessed with re-creating the 14th-century Tartars' war strategy of catapulting plague-ridden corpses into an enemy's citadel.

Completely absent from these pages are any stories about a psychotic CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has intentionally disfigured his face to help him elude the CIA, which wants to arrest him for the treasonous sale of his company's nanotech weapons technology to the Chinese. You should therefore proceed with caution if you are a jaded hipster who is suspicious of feeling healthy and happy. Ask yourself: "Am I ready to stop equating cynicism with insight? Do I dare take the risk that exposing myself to uplifting entertainment might dull my intelligence?" If you doubt your ability to handle relaxing breakthroughs, you should stop reading now."

So if that doesn't grab your interest, I don't know what will. On a final note, Rob wrote a few great lines on Love recently, which I think apply quite nicely to the themes of this humble blog.  For me, this is the spirit and the message that sings to the heart of the artist, and, quite ironically, a loving guide of how to engage the creative flow:

"I love your pilgrim soul and I love your ever-deepening eyes.

I love how unflinchingly you peer into the heart of your own darkness.

I love how you're making yourself more and more receptive to truths in their wild states.

I love how you can lose yourself in passion but never shirk your commitment to the good and the true.

I admire the way you never bear a grudge against the mountains that are in your way, but rather just set to work getting around them.

I love your commitment to deciphering the code you left for yourself before you came into this life."

And to this I say: The heart of creativity is a prayer to oneself. Amen.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Evolutionary Character

Design is the largest part of my day to day work life, and has been for a long time. It's not much of a stretch to say I was born prewired for the job, always embracing the creative process as a natural extension of the things in life I enjoy. I feel pretty darn lucky to have translated these creative urges into viable methods of making a living over the years. Thank goodness. I'd make a crappy accountant.

One would assume, given the exhaustive list of designerly output generated over decades of personal and professional effort, that I'd have design flow down to a predictable science by now. Don't I wish…that's just not how good design works. Regardless of experience, design of merit always is and always will be revision perfected, starting out as one thing, but ultimately ending up a product of both the intention, and the unscripted experience of the creative process itself.

People can be described the same way. Whether we like it or not, we are mutable works in process, constantly processing feedback, reinventing ourselves a little bit (or a lot) at a time. Fighting the inevitable call to upgrade old formulas seems to make one rigid, or worse, a fanatical narcissist stuck in a lonely bubble that grows continually smaller. I see it all the time, from priests to punkers, no one is immune to the natural tendency to let what is comfortably predictable become stiffness of character.

Embracing the "Evolutionary Character" however, is a license to be flexible. With it, you are allowed to grow smarter, stronger and happier. As a creative type, I like to conceptualize the Evolutionary Character as the conscious, intentional revising of oneself, perfecting the design we call Life.

Most of us who wish stay flexible quietly battle the creeping stiffness that could, without being kept in check, eventually be used describe us as being "set in our ways". But these days, more than ever before, there are public lives that demonstrate the power of a conscious, re-visionary life. I love to indulge in the stories of Evolutionary Character success. They inspire me, and provide tremendous feedback as to what possibilities exist within my own personal composition.

One such Evolutionary Character story is that of my favorite singer/songwriter Rob Dickinson. Rob fronted the criminally underrated rock band The Catherine Wheel for ten years before they called it quits in 2000, leaving behind a treasure trove of gorgeous, guitar-effect textured alternative classics such as Black Metallic, Crank and Mouthful of Air. During that decade, I can not think of a more influential musical presence in my personal life, and I continue to revisit every album from time to time as a reminder of where I come from and what I am made of. Through the years Rob collaborated with many other artists, and eventually released his only solo album in 2005 to excellent reviews. I loved the album and even made a video to one of his songs to commemorate the first year of my son's life. But soon thereafter, Rob disappeared.

A few years ago, Rob became visible again. But this time, he was not a musician. It makes some sense that so many Catherine Wheel songs could be interpreted as love songs to cars, because Rob Dickinson is a now world famous Porsche designer! Singer, a company Rob founded in 2009, re-envisions the classic 911 as a modern supercar, a hand built masterpiece that is arguably one of the finest sports vehicles ever made, period. He produces 6-10 cars a year, and demand is very high. No wonder why I loved his music so much, having grown up surrounded by hot rods and exotics all my young life, something in his music runs deep in my blood.

With a 250k price tag, the Porsche Singer is the first Rob Dickinson design I can not afford to purchase. But I'm working on that. Like him, I'm upgrading and evolving, working toward the best version of my own Evolutionary Character. I trust the flow, and am resolved to be patient as necessary revisions weed out the stiffness, making room to reach ever-forward. There's also rumor that Rob has been engaging in parallel paths, and will be releasing new music sometime soon. Considering his current success, perhaps connecting with the past under new and less rigid terms will yield amazing results, maybe with refinements on board that would have otherwise been impossible. A Singer, this man absolutely is.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Quotes on Creativity

Scientist, artist, poet and writer, sharing a common understanding of the creative process.

 “I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking”
― Albert Einstein

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
― Albert Einstein

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.”
― Albert Einstein

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
― Carl Sagan

"We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

“You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
― Mark Twain

“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
― Rumi

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun”
― Pablo Picasso

“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

PS: Einstein gets more quotes because today is his birthday :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Science Fair Kids Are Alright.

 “Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.” —Carl Sagan

The above picture is a science fair project created by a sixth grader. Seriously. Needless to say I was riveted, and not just because of how impressive it is that such an idea was being presented by a little girl who looks like she might still require the use of booster seat, but because the experiment itself was relevant and fascinating. For the sake of my own curiosity I really, really wanted to know the outcome.

Here's a tip: If you are fruit fly, avoid genetically modified papaya at all costs. Humans might want to exercise some caution as well, until more people like this Jr. Scientist start calling the shots.

This past weekend, it was my privilege and pleasure to be roped in by my SCMOD friend Miguel Aznar to act as a judge for the annual Santa Cruz County Science Fair. Being that I'm all about educational games and design, in one fell swoop I got a decent fix of three awesome things that I absolutely love: Working with kids, science and blue-sky creativity. I walked in curious and motivated, and walked out totally inspired, hopeful that the next generation has what it takes to move the world beyond the troubling mess we are currently creating. Harmless biodegradable plastic alternatives? Check. Detailed studies on health effects of GMO vs organic foods? Check. College graduate level ecology science that made me and my astute fellow judges (mostly scientists themselves) stop and think, over and over again? Check, check and check.

The science was indeed great, and the top prizes well deserved. But who are we kidding, a continuum of ability exists in any group of people. And not everyone at Science Fair is going to demonstrate breakthrough work before they can even legally drive a car. But, everyone did get creative. As I saw it, the ubiquitous creative element in these projects was just as impressive as the science. And perhaps it was even more important, as every one of these kids I talked to took great pride in explaining the details of their creations. In a way, the interview process felt like I was asking an artist to explain a piece of work, and even the "least" scientifically impressive of the bunch had a lot to say, with a credible amount of depth and understanding.

The experience got me thinking about the relationship between science (or any subject really) and creativity, and at what point does western thinking demand that the two be separated? What I was seeing in the roughly 350 individual presentations was a powerful blend of the two. Kids were encouraged to use their imagination to create a meaningful hypothesis, gather data and to be creative in how they present their efforts. They were asked to engage in Shoshin, the "beginner's mind", and to think about science not so much as a process of crunching numbers, but as a channel to express themselves by asking and answering their own questions that they are eager to know about in the world. No such thing as a crazy idea if the curiosity is strong. Does it actually help kids to embrace scientific learning using their own creativity? I certainly remember my 6th grade science project (how crystals grow) and I'm going to hazard to guess that these children won't soon forget what they have created either. That's just the thing, they created these projects as an extension of their own belief systems, which changes everything by making it more meaningful.

So why can't the creative spirit, which works so well and is so magnificently supported in the Science Fair universe, be the focus throughout the process of learning? Why do we force kids to memorize and regurgitate a whole bunch of meaningless data-bits when instead they could be creating personal masterpieces that draw from every educational angle? I guess today I'm asking more questions than usual because in the context of a what could be seen as a national education emergency, the kids are, as always, ready to embrace the new and evolve. The burden of letting go of that which does not serve them is ours, not theirs.

I look forward to making this an annual event. And I can't wait until my four year old is ready to get creative with his own science fair masterpiece.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Marina and Ulay

Please bear with me. It's one of those mornings where I sat down to write with certain intentions in mind, but got sideswiped by something that moved me in a completely different direction. Consider this: In the exploration of creative flow, perhaps one of the easiest and most natural ways to produce is to act with immediacy when inspired, harnessing that which is stoking the creative fire to transform experience into manifested expression. I appreciate the method as a means to an end, and as an exercise in both being present and connected to the workings of the world. However, acts of true creative genius, the ones that thrust our hearts beyond complacent comfort zones towards the raw, emotional spring that wells up, breaks through and truly moves us to feel a deeper human connection….these are different.  True genius lays us bare, and forces eyes wide open to witness the unfolding of our own hearts, and in that space, the reflection demands of the one standing in the mirror, "what is real?".

In this case, the moment the answer is revealed became a entire lifetime lived right before my eyes, as if the artist's heart had been my own.

Marina Abramovic and Ulay were both lovers and performance artists that started out in the early seventies. They continued on their path together until 1988, where they designed a final piece to mark the end of both their professional and romantic relationship. In that performance, each walked toward each other from opposite sides of the Great Wall of China, where they met in the middle for one last embrace, before permanently going their separate ways. Certainly one of the most remarkable and artistic break-ups I've ever heard of, but their story has one more recently added chapter that moved me beyond words.

In 2010, 22 years after their final moment together, Marina performed "The Artist is Present", where she invited strangers in to hold her gaze for one minute. Ulay traveled to her opening night show without her knowing, and this is what happened: