Thursday, May 27, 2010


I'm going on a road trip with my good buddy next week from San Fran up to Portland, camping in Redwood parks along the way. It'll be a good time to clear my head and hopefully realize more what I want to do next. There's nothing like exploring nature to re-awaken your senses. The solitude helps re-align your priorities and get a more objective view of yourself. It'll also help me escape from the STUFF and conveniences at home I've become re-accustomed to again. I've bought more menial things recently so taking a trip and living out of a single bag always helps me realize how useless so much of it is when I get back home.

I planned the trip so we purposely don't have a shower for 3 days, but Ed is a laid back guy who goes with the flow. He can rough it like the best of them. Actually there's a few cold rivers we can take a dip in so we'll have some semi-showers. I don't think I'd take the trip solo with many of my other friends because I probably wouldn't hear the end of it from them about missing their conveniences or luxuries. My sister was on the verge of going, but her last day of teaching is next week, which is a bummer since she can rough it better than most guys I know! We'll be stopping by some good craft breweries (Rogue, Russian River & Lagunitas) to recharge along the way.

Here's a LINK to our trip.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


On the back of a comment left on my previous post and the recent doping confessions by Floyd Landis, I want to expand a bit more on what I believe is a current de-evolution.

Sports are one aspect of modern activities where competition has led people to consider extremes in order to stay "competitive" at the expense of their integrity, putting the entire sport and true competitors in question. We've come to praise athletes with so much adoration through television viewership and support, that certain sports have lost their sanctity. This defies pure passion and talent, one-upping the man who goes against those principles simply for a taste of personal glory. I still have a lot of faith in people, however, and the bio-feedback mechanism for such actions presents itself as a guilty conscience. Floyd Landis went so far as to publish a book defending his honor as a clean rider, spending millions in legal fees, and pleading his case on Larry King Live. Now that the beans are spilled after no longer finding himself capable of living down such a profound lie, his reputation and credibility are shattered. He didn't help the sport of cycling either.

These sorts of actions have led to a de-evolution of sports and humans in general. Fitness
exists at a myriad of levels because tens of thousands of years ago, the fittest individuals scored wild game before slower individuals to ink out the best of our species. The Romans competed in sports and I'm sure our hairy ancestors did the same to pass the time because our complex minds need the mental challenge of risk/reward to accompany the physical aspects associated with it. Then modern techniques such as mass farming came 10,000 years ago and transportation came along more recently, providing the means to increase our population hand over fist. We're a clever species. We discovered a way to go from one end of the world to another by hopping on a plane and to consume an articially processed meal for a fraction of what it costs for food our bodies are designed to eat. We now have to actively (no pun intended) look for ways to be more fit and mobile, forcing ourselves out of apathy sitting in front of our TVs over a microwave dinner. The current state we've evolved to has led to a series of unnatural extremes, both of which are contributing to this de-evolution. The doping super human athlete vs. the man 500 pounds heavy. We've taken these things so far to create more wealth, fame, comfort and new records that it goes against the preservation of sports and humans as they're intended to be. We've shifted to a mode of exponential growth at others' expense, not preservation and long-term betterment. Poverty only exists because a baseline is set from standards of wealth. Therefore, a relative niche of poor folks must be present along the statistical bell curve. That's acceptable. The unacceptable part, however, does not have to do with their relative lack of wealth but their condition to be on the brink of death / survival in order to be classified as extremely poor.

The positive aspect to all this is that clever minds used to put us in this predicament are also available to research health and crack down on the extremes. The daunting part is, however, that money still drives the desire for achieving more even faster at the expense of someone else, even if that includes the perpetrator as the victim. Case in point - Mr. Landis.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Wealth Anomaly

What is it about Money and having more than we need that makes us delusional?

Give a man a dollar, he will strive for the next one. Generally speaking, successful, hard work is accompanied by more money. I'm not downplaying that ideal to strive for success. But what is it about an accumulation of wealth and resources that cause humans to become greedy, pretentious and delusional to believe material items supersede reality? We lose touch with it.

Competition serves to filter out the weak and bring the market to balance, but its evil accompanying twin is greed. The funny thing with greed is it fails to serve as a system of checks and balances to keep those chasing money to temper their behavior. It only feeds it.

The beauty of ecosystems and biological systems are their natural abilities to achieve balance amidst chaos. Our bodies are so resilient to physical stress and injury that it adapts in its own beautiful ways to adjust. A glut of money creates chaos, but there's no inherent system built in to strike a balance between too much and too little. Economics is the study of the production/distribution/consumption cycle, but its theories make sense because humans are no longer able to afford certain items, not because the desire for them subside. Greed is the quality in humans that debunks economic theory and creates outliers.

A glut of money is not natural to us. We've grown so accustomed to having products tailor to very specific niches of our desires (not needs) and marketing standards, that those failing to meet them can't hold our interest or our business. We no longer appreciate food, health and shelter for its core purposes - to sustain our well-being. Rather we take it for granted and only look for the best money can afford in each one - an over sized house, too much food to get us fat, clothes that serve no purpose for warmth but flaunt our wealth. We're mentally in starvation mode to want more, but it ironically serves to shorten our lives with accompanying obesity and stress.

Does anyone else notice how obvious this is? Yet we're too ignorant to change that about ourselves because the accumulation of more wealth makes us too delusional to desire less.

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Roger Waters to play The Wall In Houston

Any Pink Floyd Fans? Roger Waters is playing The Wall from start to finish around the nation starting in September (Houston Nov 20th). I saw him play Dark Side of the Moon back in May of 2008 - amazing show. If you've never heard The Wall or seen the movie, don't fret. It's guaranteed to be visually stunning and psychedelic with a lot of themes I highlight in my blog.

The album has a lot of powerful messages about fear and its effects to keep us apart, naive and dependent on the wrong things for answers.

You can take the album simply at face value because it's so easy on the ears, but if you listen carefully, Roger Waters takes you through a mental journey of breaking down the walls that separate us from progressing, highlighting the accompanying fears, isolation and finally liberation.

Even if you can't catch the show wherever he's playing for the tour, pick up the album and the movie.

This is the blurb Roger Waters has written about the upcoming show:

I recently came across this quote of mine from 22 years ago:

” What it comes down to for me is this: Will the technologies of communication in our culture, serve to enlighten us and help us to understand one another better, or will they deceive us and keep us apart?”

I believe this is still a supremely relevant question and the jury is out. There is a lot of commercial clutter on the net, and a lot of propaganda, but I have a sense that just beneath the surface understanding is gaining ground. We just have to keep blogging, keep twittering, keep communicating, keep sharing ideas.

30 Years ago when I wrote The Wall I was a frightened young man. Well not that young, I was 36 years old.

It took me a long time to get over my fears. Anyway, in the intervening years it has occurred to me that maybe the story of my fear and loss with its concomitant inevitable residue of ridicule, shame and punishment, provides an allegory for broader concerns.: Nationalism, racism, sexism, religion, Whatever! All these issues and ‘isms are driven by the same fears that drove my young life.

This new production of The Wall is an attempt to draw some comparisons, to illuminate our current predicament, and is dedicated to all the innocent lost in the intervening years.

In some quarters, among the chattering classes, there exists a cynical view that human beings as a collective are incapable of developing more ‘humane’ ie, kinder, more generous, more cooperative, more empathetic relationships with one another.

I disagree.

In my view it is too early in our story to leap to such a conclusion, we are after all a very young species.

I believe we have at least a chance to aspire to something better than the dog eat dog ritual slaughter that is our current response to our institutionalized fear of each other.

I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to express my, albeit guarded, optimism, and encourage others to do the same. To quote the great man, ” You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

"In my view.

RELIGION provides A WALL between US and the reality of OUR lives.


There is a WALL between:




It is A WALL of FEAR and GREED

There is enough of everything in THE WORLD for us all to have enough to eat, to be warm and dry and to have a colour TV and a car. WE are taught to FEAR that if WE share what WE have with THEM, WE won’t have anything left for US.

WE also FEAR that THEY may try to take what WE have away from US, so WE spend WAY more than THEY would need to feed, house, clothe, and EDUCATE THEMSELVES, on weapons to prevent THEM from taking what WE have away from US.

There is another WALL between US and the reality of OUR lives.

This WALL is called THE MEDIA. This WALL is a tool that is used to divert US from inconvenient truths.

Perhaps I should stop now, before I alienate anybody."

- Roger Waters, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer

Fantastic read. Easy, short reading. I already gave my copy away for a friend to read. If you want the cliff notes, watch the movie. It's fairly accurate and powerful.

Chris is a young man who grew up in suburbia with a father who expected a lot out of him and never cut him slack in spite of his accomplishments. Chris is a smart, independent guy who successfully graduates from Emory University with top standing and entertains the idea of following his education with law school as his parents have envisaged for him.

He however decides to donate his life savings to a charity and trek his way toward Alaska instead. He takes on a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and essentially sheds his past behind him with nothing but his backpack. His charm, passion and tough work ethic allows him to befriend strangers easily through parts of the US and up toward Canada, where he ultimately dies after reaching Alaska. It's a tragic tale but a very romantic one in that Chris is able to go against his grain and deeply imbibe himself to his passion of exploring nature away from all consumerism. He idealizes writers such as Jack London and Henry David Thoreau. The author does well to paint contrasting views of Chris's actions as a passionate man following his heart to an irresponsible, thankless romantic whose naivety eventually led to his own death and family abandonment.

Chris's deeply rooted convictions are tied back to the revelation that his father abandoned his previous wife to wed his mother. That ill feeling never washed away from Chris and caused the rift with his father. This led him to embrace deep values of integrity, hard work, and simplicity.

I really liked identifying myself with Chris because his insistence on a naive approach to viewing people coupled with an unforgiving attitude to some iniquities.

One bit about the book I didn't appreciate too much was how the author wrote his own survival stories and contrasted them to Chris. Chris is almost a martyr for simple, bold, reckless living whereas Jon simply writes about himself to try to help us identify with Chris's plight. Chris's tale was enough for me. His character is a force to be reckoned with.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Marketing gone too far

Look at these ads for High Fructose Corn Syrup, funded by the Corn Refiners Association. Amazing how they can market something that's killing America through obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and heart disease as something healthy. Let the public's dependence on your HFCS products sell themselves.. don't fool the public into believing it's actually good for them.