Wake the Fuck Up!!!

imageimageimageimageI recently watched the Lego movie(duh, mother of six) and it was terribly profound in an obvious and superbly blunt way.  The main character is a generic worker, happy to live by the “instructions”, assimilate into traffic patterns, stay mesmerized by the singular TV station and was perfectly content in his distracted excitement over “Taco Tuesday”. That is, until he breaks out of the mold and realizes that there is a larger existence to which he is connected and nothing in his world makes any sense.

I feel as if I have been connected to this larger existence for most of my life and a lot of what “makes this world go around” makes me want to vomit.  We live in the time of human decadence and I see the end coming quickly. 

Whether we want to believe it or not, our planet Earth is a living, breathing entity in its most basic and scientifically explainable form.  There can be(although many people try) NO ARGUMENT to that.  We have seen it from space for God’s sake.  We are studying it and experiencing it on a daily and devastatingly affective basis yet we STILL stick our heads in the sand and really and truly believe that we are separate from the Earth and that our actions won’t affect us!!!!!!

What most of the human population misses is that we are fundamentally parasites on this being and have morphed into a cancerous disease.  Human beings have singularly and effectively thrown the homeostasis of our host so out of whack that she is starting to retaliate and yet we are still obsessing over celebrities, fashion and sports games while the ship goes down in flames.

When the FUCK did human beings-who are simply and definitively mammals just like a friggin’ platypus or field mouse-get the idea that this whole earth and all of it’s beautiful and amazingly BALANCED, EFFICIENT and FREE resources are theirs for the taking?  And raping? And exploiting? And destroying? And manipulating? And hoarding?   Then, if that weren’t FUCKED UP enough, we started to and continue to do all of those nasty and disgusting things to EACH OTHER.  Just to get MORE.  Guess what?  The Shit’s gonna run out, dumbass.

People of this world are so brainwashed that we think- I mean really and honestly believe that the very best people in this existence are the ones who have attached themselves the largest number (which is fundamentally imaginary, manipulated and contrived) and amassed the biggest pile of stuff (which for the most part is completely useless).  We follow their every move and care more about what they take in their morning coffee than how many children were orphaned in Africa this morning because of AIDS.  We want even a tiny portion of what they have and aspire to become just like them.  WHY?   REALLY-FUCKING WHY?  We need a distraction from the depressing truth.

Human beings have lost their heart and I am devastatingly sad thinking that it is too late for us to get it back.  We think that the brain is the most important part of us, where we store all of our individual memories, thoughts and processes.  But a body can last a surprising amount of time with very little brain function.  It cannot, however, survive without a beating heart.  The heart is our center- literally.  It is the most protected organ.  Humans have gone so far into their brains and are so obsessed with nit-picky details that they have forgotten how to truly understand the simple, easy, elegant language of LOVE.  It is the still small voice of God.  It is the voice you hear in silence, when your brain shuts the fuck up.  It is enlightenment.  It is the soul.  It is intuition.  It is the voice of creative inspiration.  And at its purest form,  it is the whisper of instinct.  And it is not in our minds.  It is in our hearts.   This is the language of the Earth and nature itself.  To me, this is what all the prophets and yogis and shamen and seers understood.  I believe that the heart is where we store a larger collection of experiences, memories and feelings.  More than we can even fathom. 

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It may seem simple and feeble to most people, but I truly believe that we can begin to heal ourselves and our home if we break through the barriers of distraction and manipulation.  We need to shut off the static noise and listen to the crickets.  Watch the trees swaying in the wind.  Observe a flock of birds flying overhead.  Be still long enough to actually watch the clouds change shape and we will start to remember that language.  You know it, its the one you feel when you go on vacation.  Feel it at home and start to breathe a little deeper.  Like yourself.  Hug more.  Look up at your family and enjoy them.  Do not judge others.  Do not judge yourself.  Invite your neighbors over to enjoy a meal.  Prepare that meal yourself.  Honor others’ individuality.  Please please please –

LOVE. (654)

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Why we do what we do

business-stall-store_~k9800570With Small Business Saturday upon us, I am both disappointed and excited.  At first I thought I was feeling a little manic from all stress I’ve been under.  Why would I be disappointed for the chance to have a good day?  Well, it’s more than that.  The sadness comes from the fact that there are so very few of these “Days” during the year. 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that every day should be more conscious of the options that we as consumers have when we chose to spend what little money we have.  His point is that the pre-conceptions of terms like “hand-made”, “crafted”, “prepared”, and “made-to-order” are translated to mean “slow”, “expensive “ and “out-of-my-way”.  We look simply at what costs less and think that we are getting a better value.  We are trained from a very young age that we need to idolize recognizable branding and assimilate into the label-worship that has consumed this country like a bacterial infection.  I truly believe that we are ready for a better way to do things because we are finally realizing that we are missing something that a $125 pair of lycra work-out leggings just ain’t gonna bring back.

We are missing our community.  When I was 25, I stayed in Sicily for a few months with my family.  It is a small town in the mountains and each day, I would make my rounds to the local markets to get the groceries for dinner-the bakery for bread, the pollo butcher for chicken cutlets, the veggie shop for produce and there was even a pasta store that just sold pasta.  Honest. 

Sure it sounds time-consuming and tedious, but I was doing so much more than just shopping.  I was getting to know the people in my community.  The fruit guy told me when strawberries came in because he knew I liked them.  I ran into my Zia Paula at the bakery waiting for my bread.   The butcher knew exactly how thin my Nonna liked her cutlets pounded.  At each stop, they helped me practice my rudimentary Sicilian-peppered Italian and asked me about my family.  They all knew I was Michelangela’s grand-daughter from America so they were patient with me.

Unfortunately in our country, we have forgotten that there is a true symphony in the life of a thriving sustainable community.  As hokey as it may sound, the heart and soul of this ideal scenario is the passionate small business owner.  We open our doors every day like an army of Davids in a world of Goliaths.  Our days are spent working harder than anyone in our operations and getting less and less in return.  Our nights are plagued with fear and anxiety over the possibility of losing it all in the matter of a month or two despite the faith that we just know that we are doing the right thing.  We forego the security of a paycheck every week.  We elect to let the health insurance lapse because it costs more than the first mortgage payment.  We ask ourselves (almost on a daily basis) “Why am I doing this?”

 The answer is that we are driven by the passion for what we do.  Whatever our service or product is, we chose to become an expert in it and feel a true sense of pride when we are able to fix a problem, cook a good meal, give a great haircut or design someone’s perfect wedding ring.  We are fueled by the connections to the people around us and the sense of true community we help foster.  Our greatest payment is the look on a client’s face when we’ve blown them away.  If we were in it just for making money, we would have gotten out years ago.  We just want to be able to share our love.

We have come to a resolved understanding that we are simply not able to compete with the power of the Goliath pricing structure.  Real things take time and cost a little more.  When the average consumer directly compares what we have to offer with the Megaladons of the retail world, it makes us feel powerless and lonely in our quiet storefronts.  What these mega-stores and online super-entities CANNOT offer, however, is the knowledge, love and personal attention that a small business owner possesses.  These are the qualities of customer care that are truly worth something.  The time has come to make this our battle-cry.

I remember those days in Sicily with so much love.  The village of Colleasano couldn’t care less about trying to impress each other with their labels, because they didn’t have a gaping hole to fill.  They filled themselves with a connection to each other.  We are so busy vying for exclusive access to bigger and better brands that we don’t look right around us and realize that cheaper is usually NEVER a better value, it’s simply cheap.  And over-priced emptiness is just that- empty.  So, for as long as we can, the small business owners in the country will unlock their doors each morning, take a deep breath and pray that this is the day it will all turn around.  People will truly appreciate what we do and that we care.   And each night, we will be thankful for being able to do it for at least one more day.

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Get out the Kleenex, this one’s a gusher

canstock3206287What is Family?  What does it mean to you? 

One of my fondest family memories is from a holiday party when my Uncle Lou showed us a dice game he had just learned called “Petals Around the Rose.”  This was a simple game; the only object was to figure out the single rule.  Each of us took a turn at rolling the five dice.  Based on the faced numbers, there was a correct answer using the secret formula.  Those  privy to the secret of the game would yell out an answer, which only served to muddle and confuse the rest of us even more because not everyone who yelled out an answer had gotten the correct formula.

Stumped, we all took our turns rolling, formulating and ultimately gazing around the room, hoping that our favorite cousin would divulge the all-important answer to the question “How the HELL does that roll equal 12?!?!” Each time we couldn’t guess correctly and passed those god-forsaken cubes of death to the next player, Uncle Lou would repeat the name of the game:  Petals   Around   The   Rose” which he said with determined and drawn out annunciation.  I could see the twinkle of impishness in his eyes; because he knew  he held the secret that I wanted in on more than anything else in my twelve-year-old life.

The moment that I gained clarity and figured out the secret formula, I felt as if I had become one of the chosen – a member of the elite Grown-up Schmecker clan.  I had earned the right to yell out “9!” with confidence and intellectual pride.  My time had come.  I could now engage in the living room physics debates with my uncles without feeling like a stupid kid.  I finally got it.

I remember observing my family that evening and fully realizing how deeply and madly in love with these people I was.  Sure, they pissed me off harder and more effectively than anyone else possibly could, but when we got together, I was truly and comfortably at home. This sense of “home” has continued throughout my life and has grown with every gathering and new addition.

Recently, I had felt a very similar twang of “home’ in an unlikely setting—my son’s soccer tournament.  The families of our travel soccer team have been entwined for four years now. We have gained a few and lost a few, but for the most part, it has been the same core group of people.  The boys on the team have become a band of brothers and have gone from losing almost every game to winning the whole tournament unbeaten.  (Pretty awesome, by the way.) The parents and other siblings have also grown very close.

Recently we were all sitting at our “camp” (basically , a pop-up tent, folding tables stacked with snack foods, assorted coolers and camp chairs scattered on the lawn of a rec area) and one of the dads made the comment that in the beginning, he was very nervous with all the younger kids around.  He and his wife were hyper sensitive because it wasn’t second nature to them yet just to know that the kids were there and that they were OK.  Now, he said,  he noticed a sense of communal ease.  It was as if we were all aware of the families as a unit.  We somehow knew that if one of us wasn’t watching Sammie climb the pole, then he would be talked down by the closest by-stander in our group.

Just as our boys have starting to think as a collective “One” and play the game of soccer as a true team, we too have transformed into a new entity.  We have become a family.  We care about each other and cherish the times that we get to spend together.

 

Family can have so many different definitions.  I have been blessed with a solid foundation in the traditional sense of the word.  But looking back, I have also experienced different versions of the same concept which have enriched my life beyond description.

I hope that we are all able to recognize that even if we are not fortunate enough to be born into a good and supportive situation, we are given opportunities to create positive and nurturing experiences of our own. 

Family can emerge from so many situations, whether it be a comfortable workplace, a softball team, or even  the neighbors you didn’t know until Frankenstorm Sandy hits, leaving you commiserating in your dark, quiet, spooky homes together for a week.  Just look around and see who your families are. Welcome them in and feel at home.

I am proud to say that I am a member of a myriad of families and I cherish each and every one of you. 

Thank you for allowing me into your hearts, you fill mine.

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Highway to Hell

Highwaytohell1992When I was in fourth grade, we had a new section of class dedicated to what they called “Self Esteem.” It was a fairly new concept, illustrated by pasting googlie eyes onto cotton balls and making colorful lists of the things we actually LIKED about ourselves, despite what our parents tried to beat out of us.

 The goal of this new psychological approach was to empower children and build up their confidence to realize their fullest potential.  Parents of the seventies didn’t want to repeat the abuses and degradation experienced as children.  They wanted their kids to feel worthy and respected– no matter what.

It seemed as if this whole theory was turning out to be a winner, so the concept of self-esteem grew and got uuber popular in America.  Time Out was now the gold standard  of disciplinary action in child rearing as well as the catch phrase of the late eighties.  My family was on the cusp of this new parenting style, so we seemed to have a mix of old school and new thinking.  My Gramp still threatened us with the “Wrath” (an old wooden spoon in the drawer-never used, but eternally feared). We were occasionally spanked, but my Mom never used an accessory.  There is a definitive difference between being spanked and being beaten; qualified by intention and presence of mind.  So let me reiterate- we were spanked, but NEVER beaten.  

This self-esteem thing felt pretty good.  Everybody is special and we shouldn’t feel demeaned or diminished in any way?  Everybody wins?  Great concept!  Yeah well, so is communism– on paper.  One of my favorite sayings is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Fits, right?  But then  the pig has to go and put on a pair of pants. (My feeble attempt to sound learned and literar-ily snooty!) Something went awry.

We had simultaneously crossed over into the age of daytime talk shows like Maury Povich and Sally Jesse Raphael.  These shows, played conveniently right after school, started highlighting abused children and deadbeat parents.   The platform of national television gave these kids the support to stand up to their abusers and assured them they were not at fault. Whereas I applaud these courageous individuals for their strength and bravery, I believe the shows unwittingly served as a catalyst for disaster.  Kids were beginning to use the concept of  “abuse” as a weapon and anytime a parent touched their child in corrective behavior it was a reason to call the cops.  Parents not only gave up their position as authorities but they came to live in fear of disciplining their children lest they get called out as bad parents.  This gigantically public trend, paired with children dictated parenting methods, was firmly in place. It culminated in the demise of adolescents of the new millennium and eventually the twenty-somethings of present time.

I know, I’ve already picked these guys apart, but I have worked and lived with waaay too many “Millennial”s to not see a pattern.  And I don’t blame it on them- not entirely.  These kids have been pumped full of self love and worthiness and “Good Job!”s to the point of saturation.  It got to the point of ridiculousness where in games, there was no lose, only win.  The concept of earned respect was diminished as young children were treated equal to adults and they were the ones to dictate what they needed and deserved.  Parents and schools barraged these kids with positive reinforcement in the hopes of creating adults who were awesomely confident.  FAIL!  They effectively raised a generation of hedonistic, narcissistic egomaniacs with no sense of drive toward betterment.  They already believe they are the best. 

Much of the emerging workforce today is fickle, arrogant, lazy, and at the very least, disrespectful. There is definitely (yes I’ll say it) an attitude of entitlement. The first thought on their minds is “What are you going to do for me?” And the first words out of their mouths are “That’s not my job, you do it.”  They saunter around at a snail’s pace while we adults in the room are left with our mouths gaping and our minds racing as to what the hell do we do now?  We’re screwed.

Alas, “Self Esteem” has become the BPA-free, 2 dimensional, commercialized, sensationalized, government-funded version of our self-image.  These people are wearing a scratch -n-sniff sticker instead of the hard-earned, sweated-for, bled-on, broken and mended with steel-badge of courage.

Knowing me by now, you must be looking for a silver lining.  Michele must have a golden thread to make this all better!  Well, this was a hard one for me to put a positive spin on.  I almost wanted to end on a sour note.  I am a little bitter and if it weren’t for the awesome gems of young people working with me who have restored my faith in humanity I would end this with a big MEH!

I have decided to change this path in my own life.  I still see the wishy washy moms who let their children walk all over them and think to myself- “Poor you!  You have a looong road ahead of you.”  They may still think that letting the child decide what is best for them is the right way to do things.  I will let them go on, and wish them the best.  I want to raise kick- ass, respectful, honest, happy people who are not afraid of a little hard work.

I am a mom who yells. Yes, I admit it,  But it takes me a few tries with the calm voice before I crank the Mommy Voice up to 11.  And when I do, it is best to do what Mama says.  I will be silly and have fun with them, but I will never be my kids’ BFF.  They are not my equal.  They must fear me if only a little bit.  They at least have to fear the consequences of their actions.  They will fail.  Then they will dust themselves off and try harder next time.  They will lose and I will teach them to lose gracefully.  They will also learn to win gracefully.  They will work hard and know how good it feels to finish a job well done.  I hope to allow my children to earn confidence.

 

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Am I a Fish, Or a Penguin? Maybe a Camel.

adaptationWhere do I fit?!

 

I know that this is one of those over-played eternal questions, keeping psychiatrists in business and Lincoln Tech and DeVry Institute very busy, but it has been a constant nagging issue for me.  Like a bunion.

Growing up the umm -colorful- person that I am was difficult.  My thoughts and theories were a little too whacked-out for the normal recess conversation.  Usually, recess was more like “You’re an official member of the Super Awesome Girls Club!” That is, until Becky decides that you aren’t cool enough, so you are officially banned forever.  “We don’t like you anymore.  Give me back the friendship bracelet I made you.”  Stop- read that part again but this time imagine Becky- a skinny, pretty 12 year-old princess with a spoiled, bitchy, I’m too good for you attitude {who I immediately dubbed my Arch-Nemesis}.  Welcome to my adolescent hell.     Breathe it away, Michele…….

Oh, to be a real part of something!  I longed to plunge myself into the fantasy world of role playing games and Sci-Fi novels.  The books and movies were super cool.  Or maybe I could try to dress like the rich kids who had a new outfit every week. I had a really good sense of style (when my Mom wasn’t getting me fuzzy bunny sweater vests for Christmas).  The drama kids always had a good time!  Maybe they would take me in.

None of these avenues seemed to be the right path for me. Every time I wanted to join a new clique, I felt just a little out of place.  The clothes clique was wrong on so many levels, the first being that I was poor. Not so far down the list was that I was pretty chubby.  Their conversations lacked depth, and they made fun of everyone else.  I couldn’t totally embrace the fantasy life, either. The kids spoke in odd, made-up languages, took themselves way too seriously, and they made fun of everyone else.  Besides, I needed a healthy dose of reality in my diet anyway.   The drama geeks were almost a fit, but they only liked talking about themselves, broke into song at the drop of a hat and they modeled their characters by making fun of everyone else.

I always seemed to end up on the outskirts of a group and not enjoy the numbingly comfortable existence of  the immersed ones.  I wanted to give up trying, so for a while, I decided to be a loner.  I carried a sketch pad with me everywhere, journaling my so-called-life in charcoal.  I dressed all angsty and tried to act deep and mysterious.  That didn’t fly, either.  I had to force myself to think of things to draw, and I liked talking to other people too much.   I was beginning to become hyper critical of everyone, and everyone was starting to make fun of me.   Can you notice a theme?

I was actually falling prey to the social behaviors that made me so frustrated in the first place.  I was turning into Becky.  NOOOOO!  I wanted so badly to fit in that I  would do anything I could to “become” what they were.  And when I couldn’t comfortably assimilate I lashed back and started hating everyone around me.  Screw that!  If I was trying so hard to be someone else, how the hell was I supposed to grow into the true person that I am?

By the time I got to Junior year in High School, I had realized that it might actually be a good thing that I didn’t fit into a certain group. This gave me the freedom to have access to as many people and interests as possible.  I had friends in the Art room as well as Drama class and even in the Honor Society and the Science Lab. I could visit and learn from each group whenever I chose and never got bored with the conversation.  I wasn’t a part of their drama because I never stuck around too long to get involved.  I could respectfully step away at anytime without loosing their friendships, and now understand that they were all making fun of others because being so immersed, they weren’t able to see from a different perspective.  And that can be very limiting.

Little did I know, I was actually learning a crucial life lesson.  Adaptation.  This skill is on top of my “Things I have to teach my kids” list, right under “Stop hitting your sister”. As a young adult, I did some traveling, and it was much easier for me to experience new people and exotic places because I was able to see from many different viewpoints.  I was able to make myself at home in lots of different environments.  (Ask me later about Alaska and the salmon egg dance.)

Even though I still find myself deep in tumultuous thought, visualizing this pathway or that avenue, I wonder if I should have stayed in college and gone the same direction that so many of my classmates did.  They followed the path down which their adolescent groups led them.  I am sure they are very happy and content with their choices.  I still envy their comfort and security.  But I know that I am destined to float around and experience as many people and places as I am capable of.

I am certain that I have found the place that fits me best.

Everywhere. (659)

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Let the Rhythm Take Control

11949866351409207230boombox_linda_kim_01.svg.medMusic is something that I have always loved.  I remember the first cassette tape that I bought when I was about 9.  It was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band by The Beatles.  No, this is not what you would expect from a 9-year old girl in the early eighties, but I never really fit into a mold in the first place.  If you haven’t realized it yet- I am kind of a weirdo.

This album was my first musical obsession.  I played it in my room at night when I couldn’t sleep.  No matter what mood I was in when I rewound that cassette and pushed the play button, I was magically transported to a world that beautifully and seamlessly morphed from one of excited anticipation to knowing that my time had come, to feeling the innocent excitement of a new love then on to exploring with drugs and the ride it takes you on.  And this was just the first side of the tape.  George’s personality and his ancient soul was finally emerging in a pool of tantric melody while John was experimenting with genius-artistic musicality and pushing our comfortable limits.  Paul’s pure joy and innocence continued to shine through, and well, Ringo could still keep a beat.  All of their evolving personalities gelled and stewed and churned and boiled, culminating in an explosion of feelings and sounds and vibrations that quite simply put, blew minds.

No, I didn’t realize all of this when I was nine years old.  This is my grown-up version of how one groundbreaking masterpiece of musical genius evolves.  I liked it.  That’s all I knew.  I just couldn’t get enough of this album and it opened my ears and soul to an adolescence filled with rich and varied musical artists, producing and mixing the pathway to an awesome Michele soundtrack.

Man, I got sooo cool.  Still a weirdo, though, cause I was the only one who thought so.

I think that most of us have experienced that first love whether it be Run DMC or Aerosmith or Michael Jackson or Vivaldi or hell, even Yoko-Ono.  No matter what we connect with, it seems to speak to our center.  It is almost like the music itself really gets us.  You know how you feel when your favorite song is being played and you feel affected right down to your toes?   Like the whole world is shut out and you are simply in the moment, one with every drum beat and strum of the guitar.

I have been reading lately that we are nothing but wavelengths, moving at differing rates of speed with various lengths of the wave pattern.  This is exactly how music is measured. Each genre of music has a different signature that resonates with a certain personality signature.  Maybe this is the scientific explanation for musical preference.

But trying to understand the science behind something, while giving me a tangible explanation for the process and function of cool stuff, I am always left asking “OK, that’s some cool shit, but WHY???”

I believe that music exists to smooth out and reset our personal wave pattern.  We are constantly bombarded with different and conflicting  patterns and rhythms that at the end of the day, we are sometimes left in a scattered, glitchy jumble.  Music is like a shower for the soul.  We need music to revitalize ourselves and communicate on a level that we don’t quite understand yet.  And we don’t need to understand it.  We just know that it feels good and we love it.  It amazes me to watch artists playing their instruments.  They have found a way to communicate to us on a level that goes beyond words and can speak to our souls on a higher frequency.  All the way to Eleven.

I hereby challenge you to run an experiment-  rifle through your closet, dig out that old mix tape that you painstakingly recorded and re-recorded, cueing up those perfect songs from the radio. You know you have it somewhere!  And if you can’t find it, make a new one.  Shut the door, press play, close your eyes and transport yourself back to a younger version of yourself.  Give way to sheer abandon and dance like a crazy person.  Feel your atoms realigning and transforming.  I’ll bet that you start smelling things you haven’t smelled in years, experience echoes of  the excitement of youth and distantly languish in the angst of adolescence.  Man, that’s gotta feel good!

Now knowing that we ourselves are a symphony of vibration, can you imagine having a recording of your personal wave pattern put to music?  It would be like having a copy of your very own Opus.   Now that would be a friggin’ awesome federally funded study! (532)

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I know what you’re thinking

TelepathyGame1As I have recently revealed myself as a Sci-Fi child, I will fully own it.  My family (especially the men) enjoys an ongoing love affair with all things science (fiction) realted.  My memories are filled with lively Christmas party discussions about this author or that recently read  discovery.   While the women sit at the kitchen table, discussing friends, family, local news & gossip, the men in the Schmecker family lean against the counter, discussing some really cool shit.  The women have their opinion peppered in cause it is a small kitchen.  I always end up engaging in the counter discussion cause I love me some juicy science!

I remember talking about “the future”  as a place where technology would be astounding and we would all be in flying cars and commercially travelling through space and talking on video phones and we would all be wearing our own personal communicators that would talk back to us and we could have replicators and doctors would not even have to cut someone open to operate on a patient.

Oh, wait.  Nevermind.  We can already do just about all of that.  Except for the flying cars.  And that was the coolest one!  Come on, guys.  You can come up with Something!  I want to at least have my car drive for me- its a long way back and forth through town from soccer game to dance class.

Yes, I know that I’ll have to wait a few years for my Honda AutoPilot (har, har).  But there is a pretty amazing piece of futuristic technology already in our hands.  Literally.  Smartphones.  We can do just about ANYTHING with our phones- take pictures, order pizza online, get to 5,000,000,000 pieces of fruit AND level the deck you’re building.  For all intents and purposes, these “communicators” have crossed the cool line into friggin’ phenomenal.

I remember seeing someone in the grocery store for the first time and thinking how strange it was that this guy was walking through a store, talking on the phone.  It was so foreign then, but now I can check my calendar, heart rate and daily carb count in 3.5 seconds and I can even have Siri repeat it back to me.  In Italian.  With a Sicilian dialect.

But smartphone coolness has also gone into the realm of the supernatural.  Did you hear that we’ve mastered the art of Telepathy?  Yep, it’s called texting.  I actually discovered this connection tonight, when I got a text from a friend.  I realized that we have inadvertently techno-ed ourselves into para-sci-fi territory.  We are instantaneously communicating our thoughts to each other silently and privately.  Did the mega-minds at Apple realize what they were doing?  Kind-of crazy if you think about it.  And who of us has not witnessed a group of teen-aged girls in Starbucks, sitting together, but not one of them is speaking to each other!  Or are they?  I don’t know about you, but if I were Marty McFly, I’d be pretty freaked out.

Could it be that even man-made technology of the future is catching up to itself and multiplying functionality organically?  I mean after all, nature already does ALL of the the futuristic things on its own.  We have simply been scrambling to try and imitate what already exists.  Perhaps we have gotten to the point at which all these advancements will simply start to take care of themselves-with or without our help.

Man, I can’t wait for the next family party!  But what will I have to talk about?

 

 

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Cut, Paste, Print.

multi-colored model to show movement capacity

multi-colored model to show movement capacity

My new obsession is the 3-D printer.  Again, look it up on YouTube.  This shit will seriously blow your mind.  You can literally scan your face and make a scale model of your head out of plastic.  But wait- there’s more.

Besides your basic run of the mill plastic head material, the technology now exists for metallic printing.  I’ve seen a video where they were printing a house out of a concrete-like material.  You can also choose between different colors and whether you’d like rubbery vs rigid materials.  The objects that they have the capacity to make have moving and functional parts, like gears and pistons.  There is even a printer that can print itself.  Yes, really.

Where this all may seem cutesy and nice, like a trendy parlor game, I am quite frankly in awe and a little bit freaked out.  I mean, think about it for a second- we can PRINT metal objects.  Not shape them and mold them and assemble them and tweak them and re-assemble them.  I mean just friggin’ P-R-I-N-T them.  Done.  Then imagine 500 printers doing the work of 500 people, flawlessly.  With no waste and no mess and no liability and no sick time and no complaining and no workers comp.  And no jobs.

We are on the verge of amazing things.  We have the ability to theoretically “feed the world” with this stuff.  Can’t get water from that deep dark hole?  Print yourself a pump.  Your car is broken?  Print a new head gasket.  Shoes worn through?  Print some new ones that are perfectly suited to your feet.  The sky is the limit, and unfortunately, there is a dark side to all this.

I was having a discussion with a co-worker about the amazing and wonderful applications of 3-D printing and how beneficial it will be for us all when his mind went in the other direction.  He took the possibilities down a path that admittedly is the more realistic version of the story than the one I had in mind.

Weapons.  Many of them, in demand at any moment. Ugh.   But of course, I am sure the Armed Forces already have a few of their own printers at work as we speak.  They always get the cool stuff first.  Then there is the matter of cost.  How much is the printer itself?  How expensive is the base material?  How accessible is this stuff and what does it take to source it?  Can we make it from all the empty water bottles in the landfills?  How can money be made and who can horde the technology and hold it hostage to keep the masses ignorant and jealous?   We want it all for ourselves!  MWWAAHHH  HHAAAAA HHAAAA.

Sorry, I digress.

I believe that 3-D printing will revolutionize this generation.  It will take so little time for technology to advance to the point that we can use the basic foundational elements as “ink” and simply print ourselves a cup of cocoa ala Deanna Troi ( Hollah to all my fellow ST TNG fans).  Let’s take this one step further and say that you could actually print yourself a new arm to replace the one you mangled in the wood chipper you printed a few days ago.  I know that is nasty, but you got my point, right?  Or even creepier, imagine being 80 years old and printing yourself a whole new body. Just plug your DNA code into the family’s PC attached to the printer and in a few minutes, you have your new glorious shiny self.  And you just got that new microsoft program that allows you to tweak the formula, so you decide you want a D cup or super-sonic hearing.  Just hope you don’t run out of carbon!

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Look out!

I have two younger brothers in their twenties.  Neither of which possess a driver’s license.  I also employ more than a few twenty-somethings who couldn’t care less about receiving their credit card-sized ticket to freedom.  I know that I often date myself in these posts, but I am fully embracing my almost forty-ness now.  So here goes-

In my day, (I actually cringed while typing that) I remember that as soon as I turned 16, I was chomping at the bit to take that test and get out on the road.  I loved the freedom it gave me.  I took our old shit-brown station wagon affectionately dubbed “Road Kill” out with my friends and drove into New Haven to hang at a REAL coffee shop- not just the Dunkin’ Donuts around the corner.  We went to Ska shows and skipped school to go to the Mall.  I even got to work on my own!  I didn’t have to rely on getting a ride all the time and got myself where I needed to go.  I relished the sense of independence it gave me.

I thoroughly enjoy driving and all the cool stuff associated with it, so I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why there are so many kids who have no desire to get their license.  My friend Sarah had told me once that she was scared to drive because she felt like all the other cars were coming at her.  And my brother said something similar-that he was afraid of the other drivers hitting him.

Then a theory erupted in my squirrelly little brain.

Being from the generation of the internet and home video game systems, these kids were always bombarded with input.  Picture a driving game where all you are doing is trying to navigate away from oil slicks and flying flaming time bombs and hairpin turns at 235 hypothetical miles per hour.  They were conditioned from a young age that situations with high-stress and constant unseen threats were normal.  Children of the nineties had to use their imaginations in a completely different way than we did.  I was still from the time when we had to fabricate our “alternate universe” out of  literal sticks and leaves and at best we had some Hot Wheels cars and Barbies on hand to smash up.

The imagination of newer generations is growing ever more reactionary than provocative.  Their alternate universe is placed in front of them at very high speeds with finite, pre-programmed scenarios.  And these options need to be more and more sensationalized or else the games won’t sell.  Who the hell is going to buy a game where the premise is going grocery shopping and to the post office?  Nobody, unless you have to navigate through a horde of  apocalyptic zombies to get there.  So, if your spare time were filled by car chases with pimps and hoes ending in a bloody shoot-out, I’m sure at some level that HAS to affect one’s psyche.  I’d be scared shitless to drive too!

The second part of this theory encompasses the friendship section of the brain.  Why do the kids of today need to actually get together with their friends anymore?  Between Facebook, Twitter, texting and Skyping  they can have intimate knowledge of each other’s hourly activities, whereabouts, thoughts, dreams, faves, new bffs etc. etc. yadda, yadda.  We all know waaaaaayyyy too much info about our friends as it is.  Why should we bother going out to SEE them?  We’re both watching the same you-tube video and vlogging about it.  We’re bonding.  Good times. L O L.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Wall-E, you can envision what I mean.  And it ain’t pretty.

We have reached a point in technological evolution where human interaction and physical location are simply options.  One is no longer contingent on the other.  A text exchange is actually considered a valid conversation.  The business world can easily exist with work-from-home professionals and skyped webinars.  Hell, I’ll bet that there are a good amount of people who don’t use their real name or likeness when interacting with their “best friend” online whom they have never actually met.  And even if they did want to meet, neither of them have a license or a car anyway!

My point is this- we are changing.  We are losing the necessity for human interaction and it frankly worries 14359363-guy-driving-a-race-car-to-successme.  I am a real believer in the power of shared energy.  I think that when people are together, they share something more substantial than the air they breathe.  There are subtleties in a face to face conversation-an organic evolution of the exchange of ideas and passions.  Hugs are involved in gatherings and I like hugs.  We can’t lose hugs!

I hope that we recognize the course of the path we are on and navigate away from the zombies, oil slicks and hoes.   How awesome does it feel to open all the windows on a fresh spring day, crank up the music and take a drive with your friends on the open road?  That’s the stuff you can’t emulate no matter how many pixels you can fit on the screen. (810)

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Yabba Dabba Doo!!!

evolutionWell I was surprised  to hear that the  debate was still raging on the theory of evolution.  Well, maybe it’s not  so much a debate anymore, and probably not so heated.  Both sides have apparently agreed to disagree and if you live in Arkansas or California or any of the other states in which there resides a creationist museum, you can see for yourself what the real truth is.

What’s a creationist museum, you ask?  Well, it is a place where you can take your children to prove to them beyond a shadow of a scientific doubt with anima-tronic models and lifelike dioramas that humans actually co-existed with the dinosaurs.  Imagine that!  “See Johnny?  There’s Ugg, the Neanderthal riding that cute little baby Triceratops!”  If someone took the time to make a three-dimensional display, it really has to be true, right?

Oops! I guess that years of scientific research and proven methods of carbon dating, not to mention genetic research and good old-fashioned common sense are ALL wrong and we should have been paying more attention to the Flintstones.

These creationist museums are built by people who take the stories of the Bible word for word (certain ones, of course, because we all know that the Old Testament was simply a collection of parables not to be taken literally).  And a lot of money is spent on these.  It is not like driving through Darwin, Minnesota to see the world’s largest ball of twine. (Seriously, I just looked this up for logistical reference and honestly did not intend the irony.  I guess it was meant to be!).  Millions of church dollars and hundreds of man hours as well as “research” has gone into creating these institutions for the education of true believers.

There are so many places I could go with this one, but I will be very respectful as I am a true believer in faith.  My level of awe and reverence for the unexplained and holy runs very deep and I believe with all of my being that each individual has a right to their own perspective and spiritual path.  But I do not, however, have much tolerance for hypocrisy and selective acceptance of well represented evidence.

What I find the hardest to comprehend is the blatant disregard for proven scientific fact.  We have developed ways of testing and re-testing and cross calculating in order to ensure accuracy with so many of our scientific research methods.  How and why is there a debate against science on this issue?  Science is not an opinion.  It is simply the translation of what already exists into a language that we hopefully can understand.  We are constantly uncovering layer upon layer of information which has always existed.  We just have never known what it meant.

And I get it.  Why take God out of our lives?  Why not hold on to a little mystery?  Why does science have to be such a kill-joy and suck the fun out of everything?  My question is- Why does it have to do any of that?  Let’s take a look.

The story goes that God created the earth in a week, starting with light on the first day, moving on to the earth and sky the next. Water, trees and plants came on the third day and the Sun, Moon and stars were created on the fourth.  The fifth day was dedicated to the water and the air.  God created fish and all life in the oceans, rivers and streams.  Birds were also tackled on day five.  Day six was a busy one, as it was the day in which He made all the creatures on dry land, from the tiniest little insects to the biggies like elephants and hippos.  And it wasn’t until just before dusk on the sixth day that God decided to create Man, to “rule” over it all.  Having had such a rough week, the Lord took the seventh day to rest.  Apparently, God didn’t live in 21st century USA.  We have to cram the 7:30am soccer games into our seventh day.

Why does this have to be interpreted literally?  Why can’t the theory of evolution fit nicely into that story?  Is it such blasphemy to think that a day may have been the rough translation of an age?  We have all played the game of “Telephone” and had a laugh at the result of four people attempting get a simple message right.  The Bible has had to go through 2000 years of “Telephone”.  I find it impossible to believe that the exact wording has been transposed 100 percent of the time.

I would love to see a time when Science and Religion can put down the boxing gloves and really listen to what the other side has to say.  Religion needs to accept the astounding discoveries made in the world around us which open our eyes to amazing opportunities to explain how we got where we are.  And that pretentious Science could learn a valuable lesson in the value of mystery.  Sure, you know HOW the dinosaur evolved into a bird, but do you know WHY?  And who the hell started the experiment in the first place?

As I say many times in a day,whether to myself or out loud, I just wish that people would be willing to see things from a different perspective and once in a while, admit that they may not always be right.  But then again, isn’t my point really that we are not realizing that we may actually ALL be right?

        “From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.”
William H. Bragg (1862-1942)
British physicist, chemist, and mathematician. Awarded Nobel Prize in 1915

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