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Something just wasn’t enough to pull me into a theater for three hours to watch blue people. There was just too much finger-wagging and admonishment going on, consciously or subconsciously, and I am in no state of mind to hear it. Watching the world turn is a bit like standing in a subway without holding on to anything. Sure, sure, sure. I can keep myself upright by simply balancing and keeping myself in-tune with the motion of the train. But one sudden curve, brake or the tiniest lapse in my attention (What is that girl playing on her cell phone? Is she winning?) will throw me against the closest immobile piece. With any luck, it’s a door or a divider, not another passenger wise enough to hang on.

It wasn’t just me unwilling to watch alien planets do it better than we do. The planned birthday party, to take place in the dark with popcorn and fizzy beverages, just wouldn’t take place. Until Alice came along.

Have we all seen Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”?? This is an absolute must-see film, in my eyes. And it got the birthday boy into the theater! And three kids along for the ride!

Bless the powers that be for letting Burton have his way. And bless Burton for giving us, essentially, the same story that the blue people tried to impart with one very, very, very essential difference: One single soul and one soul alone, sweet, blue-clad Alice, made up her mind. Alice discovered who she really is, what makes her happy, where she wants to be, and with whom! And she fought. She fought against all odds. She had, truly, nothing more to lose and decided to fall into the only thing that could save her: her own strength. She trusted. Whatever “it” is that one trusts, she went for it. All alone. We see the shift. We feel the shift. The entire audience is with her, on the edge of their seats, watching this fragile, beautiful, sensitive creature fight the ugly, ugly, stupid ugly beast. Within this beast are all the Madoffs, all the Tea Party Revelers (strange twist in there, eh?), and all the greedy, power-hungry, resource-sucking, cancerous, demonized me!-me!-me!-ers, my view only, my religion/business/profit only, my expertise only, my way only, twisted, tainted, tar-covered souls (represented also by the Queen of Hearts, though we are given to believe that it isn’t entirely her fault. Mummy and Daddy had something to do with it…) that appear to be turning our precious blue planet into … ultimately, perhaps … a human-less orb. Unless, of course, Alice gets her wits about her. We hold our breath while she recites the six impossible things … A good exercise: think of six impossible things before breakfast … (it’s easy today:   1) world health care for all humans 2) clean, accessible water for all humans 3) strict laws for the humane treatment, feeding and – where necessary – slaughtering of animals, worldwide!! 4) free education for everyone, everywhere, at all ages; no secrets, no tuition, just ideas exchanging for the betterment of mankind 5) limits to excessive personal wealth – the world “billionaire” becomes a bit like the word “pharaoh”; wealthy people get mandatory sabbaticals in the least fortunate areas of the world 6) love becomes a word people use with reverence again - because they understand, finally and truly understand (like the golden rule or E = mc2) the full implications, meaning and potential.)

Ah, yes. Alice gives us a taste of the “Yes, I Can!” mentality. It doesn’t come easily to her. She didn’t believe it, she was ready as ever to peel out and let someone else take the sword. She let us stare at and empathetically embrace the coward in all of us. But there was a tipping point, if ever so gentle …

An inspiring film.

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JUMP!!!!

… and?

How was the feeling? Gliding through the air in a sudden burst of compact body energy, hot with anticipation yet totally released into the unknown?! The millisecond of breaking the surface of the water a plethora of sensations, all appendages on alert, sucking in which one felt it first while it all melts into one simultaneous moment of explosive cannonball. Or jacknife. Or bellyflop.

And so it is, 2010. Watching the planet turn, every day brings some new piece of news to jump into, the surface of information just as unpredictable, as impossible to imagine or comprehend, the process of letting go on the flight into it just as intense.

Why Haiti? Why bitter poverty? Why obscene wealth? Why destructive, faulty food? Why polyester fibers? Why atomic power? Greenhouse gases? Supreme court rules so obviously without wisdom or even the vaguest bit of (intelligent, democratically just) supremacy? Why all this pain?! Surely a benevolent God would never let all these horrendous things happen…

JUMP!!!!

How do I feel? Am I upside down? What part of me is struggling? Where is the surface? How deep am I? Kick, kick, kick! All systems go to rise above the surface? There are two elements: me, and everything around me that is seemlessly surrounding my thrashing, giving me something to push against, kick into, hold in my hand without being able to grasp it at all really, to exercise my might and will upon.

Water. News. Life.

JUMP!!!!

(Dedicated to JM, in the hopes that he begins to understand – and please note: no one ever finishes understanding!! – that the precious beauty of our world lies precisely in its infinite complexity and perpetual newness in which we swim. I love you very much.)

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Yesterday I decided I had screwed around enough, read enough, twittered enough, cooked enough and worked enough. I decided to do a few minutes of introspective meditative practice. So here I am, doing my better-than-Tai-Chi stuff - which was indeed wonderful – and then move into the sitting position. Float, one could even say.

And there he was. Since my eyes were closed, I could only guess what he was. Or if it was indeed a she, which is pretty difficult to determine as a lay person that doesn’t specialize in insects. One thing was clear, whatever it was, it had wings. And was pretty pissed. Or frustrated. Or both. Meditative practice being what it is, I refused to “go there”, took it all as part of the immaculate picture of the moment, and finished up.

But the bounce upward once I had determined I was done was pretty springy indeed. I immediately saw what it was: a huge yellow-jacket wasp, perhaps even a queen. Aren’t they the bigger ones? Or is that just with bees? Either way, I knew it needed saving. Watching its predicament, I was reminded of a bee in the same state a while back where I wondered about the frustration such a creature may/must feel. They see the great outdoors right there in front of them. See the trees, the open sky, the clouds, perhaps even smell it all, and they crawl hither and thither and cannot fathom why they cannot get back to that state of openness. It’s just the simple, stupid pane of glass that separates them. Easy enough for us, maddening for them.

Sometimes my life feels just like that. I see it all, I feel it all “out there” - and yet, the pane between makes me do all sorts of things that get me nowhere. Of course, you may think, “just open the door/window”! Were it so easy for the bee or the wasp! The door is opened by something bigger than either of us, that much was clear that morning as I fumbled for a glass and a piece of heavy paper to transport my co-meditator outdoors.

Sit and wait? Hardly. I find myself in the unusual position of having not one but two elderly “patients” - people I visit on a regular basis. For whatever it’s worth, both seem to benefit from our sessions. The one, a 97-year old man, is alert, alive, vital - just old and frail. The other, a 94-year old woman, is blind, slightly dement, not very vital, but usually pretty healthy and perky. On my last visit to the woman, another elderly woman sat next to me and began to talk about how her life used to be (being outside), how she was in charge of her own household, etc., and how it is now (being on the pane) about her many fears, and how awful it is to be so frail…

Sitting on the other side of me was the blind woman. Essentially crawling on the same pane of glass, “my” 94-year old said that “She can’t complain. She’s healthy mostly and what more could you want? Sure, she’s old, but that’s just how it its.” (For the record, that is pretty much the same sentiment that comes from the 97-year old man, though he lived - and lives - a life of relative luxury…) And there you have it, I thought.

There’s the door. It’s as easy as that. And I took her hands in mine and looked in her blind, glowing, beautiful, toothless face and was full of admiration, love and contentment. Just being.

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It took only two of the thousands of applications offered for the iPhone to convince my partner: it became a “must-have” product based on the weather and the compass apps. Naturally, he now is spouting off about a variety of other functions. But those two functions (on my phone, before he ordered his) knocked him over the edge. He is, if I may say so, a changed man due to this product.

Mind you, he is no designer. Truth be told, we are diametrically opposed regarding our level of education and the ensuing social stratum. Normally, that would give you a few clues as to the car he drives, the clothes he wears and the newspapers he reads. Or does not read. So goes the cliché. The richness of discovering how wrong clichés can be is part of the lesson here. An important lesson, I believe, for the future of design, specifically product design in the most varied of sectors.

I would postulate that there is some connection between the aesthetic value of any given design and the development of consciousness in the broadest sense. This is a big statement that I intend to expound upon some other time. But very briefly, it is my belief that the things we touch, hold, use, need, value also touch, form, affect and develop who we are. Not just in the banal sense of - as any old American knows - giving us our position in the socially conspicuous consumption caste system. The fact of my mobility being assisted by a Ford, an Audi or a Bentley defines me more quickly than anything else to anyone else. And getting out of the car with Jimmy Choos and a Louis Vitton bag cinch the picture. But it’s also reciprocal. My Audi teaches me about curves and textures and pictograms. Inside the car. Because that is where I live large chunks of my life.

A tiny part of what made my partner a “must have” for me was the fact that, no, he didn’t have any academic titles and yes, he began his factory career at the age of 15, but he had a Braun razor! His shoes were lovely. His undergarments were spectacular. An essential fact to understand why I say this, is that I am a designer by trade and passion. These things matter to me in a way no non-designer would ever understand. But I understood that the choice he made in choosing these products on an extremely limited budget stemmed from the way his inner world worked. He valued value. He turned things over again and again before finally making that choice. (And still does, btw.) Watching someone choose less is much more valuable than watching someone choose more. (If I would ever spend thousands of dollars on a purse – which I wouldn’t – I would never purchase a Louis Vitton bag. The “why” in that is an essential element in this theory that needs further study.)

Which brings me back to my postulate. Allow me to dream for a moment. Take the iPhone as our first example of a massive shift in consciousness caused by design meeting function (– it wasn’t, of course, but this is a dream…). Suddenly, people realized that having a sleek, intuitive, truly “sexy” product in their possession was not only a positive notch for their social status but truly, authentically, aesthetically fun. Easier. Joyful. That product raises the bar on all products (not just phones) from that point generic cialis cheapest price. At least for iPhone users. It may not make people run out and buy a different car, but I do think it changes them, in their aesthetic sensitivity if nothing else, from that point forward.

This is a change that is happening more rapidly than ever. In my humble opinion and experience, I would say that Braun was the “pre-Apple” type of company that recognized the usage-consciousness connection early on and followed their design principles without compromise. It would not surprise me in the slightest if many an IT and/or design professional in and around Apple had Braun calculators on their desks. Or is there a coincidence in the calculator app on the iPhone?

As a former native of Detroit, I’ll take the argument to automobiles. Driving in yet another motor city I call home, I noticed a compact Alfa Romeo that they have named (we still have progress to make in this department) “Mito.” Impressive from the front. From the back, I was reminded of the unfortunate mistake – my size 14 opinion – of the back of a Ford “Ka.” The back of the Mito coming from Italians, I hesitated and thought, “well, perhaps more men DO like fat bottom girls than Paris will lead us to believe?” (Most car designers still being men, from what I know.) Because that’s what the forms of both the Ka und the Mito bring intuitively to mind. Wide, squatty. That may be a tremendous comfort to millions of women worldwide, but –come ON – is it joyful design? (In all fairness, the Mito is fun from the front.)

But what happens to you when you see, as was my experience on the same road on a different day, a small, silver, completely perfect “compact” Bentley? It evokes the same feeling as when you meet someone who is completely and totally beautiful in a physical sense. Where bones are positioned in breathtaking places and you just cannot take your eyes off of their sheer perfection. You are truly transported to a place of visual bliss. (Forget the near-immediate “wanting to own” reflex for a minute. Just enjoy the bliss in the moment.)

We’re still dreaming. Now imagine this happening to you with, say, a toaster. Or a cup. Or shoes. Or a chair. It is already happening to you with your (i-)phone. Imagine this happening to you more and more – and it is an affordable, achieveable fact for each and every factory worker worldwide. It may not stop global warming. It may not solve world hunger. But when we come to expect bliss in the tiniest of consumer products, we may move on to expect more bliss. And then more-than-bliss. We may be happier with less for longer. Designers/companies can turn the clock of obsolescence around and make things last longer. If they are beautiful and bliss-inducing, we will want them to. With the world’s resources fast disappearing, we made need them to work on such solutions more quickly than we think. We (the people) may remember, as any good designer knows and intelligent companies never forget, that “consumers” are humans first. And humans have a right to bliss. Sooner or later, they’ll fight for it.

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I have always adored Conan O’Brian. But this is deliriously good. Lived, breathed, performed tolerance of total, breathtaking stupidity. Hats off to William Shatner.

(Due to Absurd Copyright Laws – NBC, in this case – the performance is lost to posterity.)

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Interesting poem from Dylan re: Guthrie with wonderful visual accompaniments…

(Due to Absurd Copyright Laws – Sony Music Entertainment, in this case – the performance is lost to posterity.)

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This is a performance by Perpetuum Jazzile, an a cappella jazz choir from Slovenia doing Toto’s 1982 hit song “Africa” - especially moving is the beginning. How amazing is THAT?!

Of special note is the guy doing the air drums and percussion (with his mouth!!). This was the geeky, pimply dude annoying you with that sort of thing during high school, right? You know the types I mean. All he needed to do to become brilliant was to find the context that worked for him and he becomes glorious for everyone. There’s a lesson in there…

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Excuse me Seth Godin. Even EXCEPTIONAL Designers (and though I won’t name any names, you know who they are flagyl 400…) are going through what this video so excellently shows. 

Look for us now disguised as massage therapists, taxi drivers and tap dancers.

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Anyone my age can surely recall how Star Trek episodes always started: with the time and date and perhaps a few events in the “Logbook.” May I express my fondness for Wikipedia at this point; I quote:

____

logbook was originally a book for recording readings from the log, and is used to determine the distance a ship traveled within a certain amount of time. The readings of the log have been recorded in equal times to give the distance traveled with respect to a given start position.

Today’s ship’s log has grown to contain other types of information, and is a record of data relating to a ship or submarine, such as weather conditions, crew complement or what ports were docked at and when. It is essential to traditional navigation, and must be filled in at least daily.

Most Admiralties specify that logs are kept to provide a record of events, and to help crews navigate should radioradar or the GPS fail. Examination of a log is often used to try to explain some sort of disaster, in much the same way as a “black box” is used on airplanes (see Mary Celeste).

The term logbook has spread to a wide variety of other endeavors, and logbooks are widely used for e.g. complex machines like nuclear plants or particle accelerators where one is more and more using a computer based version of a logbook called electronic logbook (see electronic logbook). In military terms, a logbook is a series of official and legally binding documents. Each document (usually arranged by date) is marked with the time of an event or action of significance.

____

Now, as redundant as this may be, a B-log is a WE-B-log. Are we all on the same page about that? Meaning: it is the respective blog author’s personal recording of his travels in time and space. And that’s what is so amazing, enjoyable, interesting, captiviating. I have watched with some amusement various discussions about the accuracy of some “reporting,” how people source things, disussions of plagarism (Maureen Dowd being the last noteable case), authenticity, etc., etc. There is, of course, reason and worth in these discussions, I don’t dispute that. But here, in this little piece of digital soup, of one thing I can be certain: this piece of carrot is mine and mine alone, including the references to other sources – which is a very integral part of what we all experience individually every day. If I say: “We have sighted the Klingon warship this morning…” and then proceed to report the Klingon communication, thought processes and artwork present in diplomatic quarters on their ship … Ah! Isn’t that a wonderful thing, being able to tell a story? A grand piece of film-making taking place as we speak. And all the characters involved, myself included, cannot NOT be the strong, paranoid, courageous, lame and fierce beings they are, in whatever roles they choose to play.

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Sitting smack in the middle of 2009, I wonder.

Slowly, slowly, the ugly head of doubt is beginning to wipe the sleep out of its eyes – as messages filter through that drowsy, still-flooded sea of dreamworld impulses that are all too captivating – giving itself the last little nudge into wakefulness… slowly, slowly. It has, quite clearly, no choice.

Is doubt the right word, I wonder, again? Perhaps we could term it “reality” - or simply the “is-ness of now” or perhaps even – dare I think this? - “awakening”?

There are things to be done, places to go, people to meet, choices to make. Every little, last relationship, big or small, minute or grand - the taxi driver, the stinging bee, the lover, the sister, the cashier, the sunny day - weaves in and around us and affects how we go about our “NOW.” Each day, every day, every second, these interactions shape who we are. We shape who they are. It’s a non-stop dance that we are always, always in the middle of, patiently watching. Stoically bracing for the next twirl, the unexpected twist, the uplift and a tango-ic sink. Without this patient, clear and passionate observation from a mysteriously unflappable center, life would be painful, even unbearable today. These days.

Are we indeed learning that “Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature.” Nature being everything around us, everything we plant, destroy, walk upon, breathe, touch, see, eat. Agreeing with all of that is obviously not a small task. Especially with challenges like this:

I posted two short tweets back-to-back a few weeks ago. The first one was a very stinging article related to torture. Pertinent and timely. I would link back to it, but due to internet posts now rapidly becoming a “let go” phenomenon, the link is lost to posterity. Whatever you do, don’t try to hold on to what you say. Or what other people have said or written. It’s very zen, actually. To give an impression, though, this link works just as well for more on the topic of torture.

Everyone has an opinion about torture. Some are very vehemently opposed. Others have a more blasé - as long as it doesn’t affect me - attitude. Others are all for it in the name of whatever sees that route as a means toward a cause (stopping/fighting/ridiculing terrorism, for example).

I rather expected the response I got. People looking up. People re-tweeting.

What I didn’t expect was that the tweet that followed, one about a family that was forced to choose between keeping their home or paying for their cancer-stricken son’s medical treatments, got virtually no response. You could hear the virtual pin dropping in the great void of buzzing digital activity.

My point was, and still is, that torturous situations are rampant this year. Perhaps it was that way EVERY year from the get-go of becoming humanoids. You don’t need to be a prisoner of war, or a prisoner at all. You can be a very normal human being, going about your business and WHAM! it hits you. The leather belt of foreclosure from the right. WHACK! The steel-studded whip of unemployment. Or BOOM! the din of debilitating illness coming upon you or yours that you cannot find appropriate treatment for because you cannot afford it - despite having sustained so much pressure, for the profit of others, for so long.

In agreement with nature means, for me, in agreement with human nature. There are, of course, common-sense charters and proposals (from the United Nations, for one) that agree on some basic premises like the fact that all people should have enough food to eat. Which is, quite obviously, not the case. Isn’t hunger a form of torture? Doesn’t it make sense that now would be a good time to take a look at making sustainable humanity more than a buzz word? Making that “virtuous will” a basic skill set for going from “politically correct“ to “human(e)ly correct”? 

Failing that, it’s all anyone can do - myself included - to focus on the unflappable center. To stoically brace while the madness whirlwinds around your ears.

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Sensualability
Imagine
sendltor.jpg laughing.jpg b_me.jpg                                                                         blue_heaven.jpg snowbun.jpg dress.jpg
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