Chitinous

Chitinous

Mandelbulb 3D, Un-Retouched

I was finishing up on Series 5 of Primeval when I went about creating this. Pretty interesting how something’s changed with my reinstallation of Windows on the deskside and now able to create *and* watch various videos. And not a tenth of the temperature problems I’ve had in the past.

Once again this is more the sort of thing that I experimented on colour, while finalizing the shapes. I also finally got the hang of how to better control over-stepping and normalizing. Took me long enough, eh?

Bucket Lists? I don’t need a bucket list…

Entry 09/20/2014 03:21:18 AM – Mentat 737

Oh yes, I continue to do the old man thing; I passed out on my bed with Moe happily hogging more than his fair share at a modest 9 o’clock and now six hours later, I’m up and unable to sleep. Oh sure, I know I’ll be able to sleep another couple of hours, but until I do I found myself thinking about something that I’ve thought about responding to… Here, let me set it up.

When I had a moment of not having to assist my mother with her housework (something she was rather proud of finally being able to do on her own since the stitches in her ankle came out and she’s able to put some weight on her ankle), I had the opportunity to watching my YouTube Subscriptions. One in particular — Mr. Louis Cole (FunforLouis) — had been reprising about one of the top items on his bucket list (Swimming with a Whale Shark) and asking his followers and subscribers what some of the items on their Bucket Lists were.

I found myself amused by it.

As a child, I had a rare form of Hypoglycemia (which was later identified and my name ended up in some medical journal because of it) and though the doctors were able stabilize it, until I was 7 my life was pretty much treated I could die at any time. So because of that, my family — namely my maternal grandparents but aunts and uncles as well — would pack me up with them and go traveling in the trailer where ever they happened to be going. Well that and let’s face it, compared to my younger brother I was an absolute angel.

I got to see things few of my peers would in their lives. The Montreal Expo of 1967, Six Gun City and riding the stage coach there, the Polar Caves and spelunking. Being on the campgrounds in Montreal and listening to these couple of Hippies singing Puff the Magic Dragon for hours (seemed it was the only song in English they knew).

Woodstock… Yes, that Woodstock.

From my paternal side of the family: living on the Cape (Cape Cod) during the summers when I was in elementary school on the campgrounds in East Dennis. From there I saw all the touristy and non-touristy things the Cape had to offer. Deep Sea Fishing, wandering the shores of a beach where the Navy and National Guard used the wrecks and hulks beached there for target practice. (To an 8 year old, that would definitely rank up there as completely awesome seeing various boats completely shelled to hell and back.)

Being there at the docks after hearing a local man (on my uncle’s CB Radio) having successfully caught a 400 pound tuna saw the boat he was on coming into the bay listing horribly to the side as it wasn’t big enough to bring the tuna onto the boat — so they had it strapped to the side. Standing there on the dock as the proud fisherman and seeing it five times my size as they hauled it up on its hind fin. I even remember the man that caught it allowing me — the only 10 year old there to see it — to come up and touch it as I was intensely curious what it would feel like. I think I remember he even offered to give my family some of the tuna steaks from his catch to my family (saying that he couldn’t possibly have them all) because of my bravery and passion for fishing that I showed. My uncle turning him down politely because that’s what my family would do when offered such generosity.

Getting a piece of my art made in Elementary School shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (in New York City) and winning third place for it.

My trip to both sides of Niagara Falls (US and Canadian side) when I graduated from Elementary School with my maternal grandparents. Heh, I still remember my grandmother saying for hours when we left my hometown, “I know I forgot something… I know I forgot something…” and when we stopped for supper she remembered: the box of matches needed to start the propane stove. And during our slow trek through Upper State New York all the places we stopped along the way — like tourists typically do.

Making an instructions book in my senior year (last year of high school) art class on the preparations (and requirements) for making an artists’ portfolio that as I understand is still used by schools in Canada to this day. (It was also in the US, but it was phased out for a more modern book for students to use sometime in the 90s. Though it’s still in many school libraries to be taken out).

And while not necessarily on any bucket list but instead is more bragging rights, but until I changed my name — my family name (Newlander) is still sitting on a Lunar Landing Module base on the moon.

As an adult after the car accident and being diagnosed with epilepsy (grand mal seizures until I was 27), the doctors would typically give me the typical diagnosis of “…2 years to live…”, which makes you do anything on a bucket list pronto.

Living in Key West. (And in the 80s that was a Gay Man’s to-do because it was a status symbol of being out — though something a 50-something not a 20-something would do).

Learning how to scuba dive (and later swimming with Manatees and Dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico).

Which later lead me to swimming with a Whale on the east coast, and Sea Otters on the west coast.

Jumping out of a plane (yes, sky diving).

Running a safe house for gay and lesbian youth out of my own mouse-infested warehouse apartment (yes it was that huge).

Throwing a beach party in the dead of winter with a summer dress requirement and complete with the floors being covered with several hundred pounds of beach sand along and beach accessories that included a volleyball net.

Hot Air Balloon racing in New England. Yes, racing. It’s like watching pretty, colorful snails racing several hundred feet up in the sky combined with herding cats because the balloons have to rely on the direction of the wind which does what it wants more than a petulant 10 year old.

Won a $500 pot (err., what most other people call prize), playing cow-pat bingo in Vermont. And for my family — that’s like winning PowerBall or MegaMillions given our luck.

Landing a job on an Army Base (CHAMPUS) in Bavaria (yes, in Germany) and then being able to travel a lot of Europe doing things both as a tourist and as a native on holiday.

Took a trip on Route 66 (as inspired by the Depeche Mode song). Oh and it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Well that and waking up with a rattlesnake under the truck when I was taking a break on Route 66 was rather nerve jarring.

Play softball with celebrities… I didn’t know this would’ve qualified as a Bucket List item until after I did it. I worked a convention in Boston at the time, and ended up being asked — to fill the team — so I played softball with some of the actors from the cast of Babylon 5 at the time.

Like being at Mardis Gras and Southern Decadence in the same year.

Was there the first year the Boston Pride Parade when it looked like the Norse Snake where the head of the parade met the tail as it marched into the park.

Oh and made it a point to be the last into the park that day. Everyone wants to be first, but last billed is more memorable.

Was one of the first 100 during Rhode Island’s first gay pride parade. And watching an acquaintance of mine during the pre-pride preparations say, “Oh I don’t know if I’m going to go.. I don’t want to make such a scene… I’m out, but not that out…” Only to watch her the day of the parade at the front, leading everyone up the street holding up a sign for RI Pride like a ring-girl announcing the next round in boxing. Made local news too, which we ribbed her about for months.

I was invited to an underground rave and an awesome house party within six hours of landing in Atlanta The kind of parties that you can only be invited to and will never be held under that name or that theme again.

Got to see massive amounts of the USA. Sure it was a job, and sure it was exhausting after doing it 18 months, but not only did I see places like Chicago, Austin, and Denver, but I also saw places like Butte, Redmond, Council Bluffs, and Cheyenne. It gave me insights into regional and parochial perspectives I had never had before and gave me a more refined world view that I still have today.

To fall head over heels, truly, madly deeply in love. And I didn’t do that once, but instead did that three times. They were all meteoric and while I think the first might have lasted, it had been cut short. The other two had a beginning, a middle and an end because something that burns that brightly will never last long. The first man that did that taught me loyalty, the second taught me faith, and the third taught me understanding.

And I can keep going.

The thing is now that I’ve made it to middle age and (now) to my half-century mark, while I didn’t actually think the words when Mr. Cole talked about it and asked his followers to tell him some of their bucket list items… I felt the “how quaint…” feelings of it while amused by someone 30-something asking kids still in junior and senior high (secondary) school what they want to do before they die…

I woke up this morning and thought how does a man that has lived life both as an observer and as someone tits-deep playing the game to its hilt create another Bucket List?

The answer is, I can’t really.

I don’t want to either.

That doesn’t mean that I’m going to lie down and die any time in the near future either. For as the quote that I used to stop myself from being an introvert into more of an extrovert:

Confine yourself to observing and you always miss the point of your own life. The object can be stated this way: Live the best life you can. Life is a game whose rules you learn if you leap into it and play it to the hilt. Otherwise, you are caught off balance, continually surprised by the shifting play. Non-players often whine and complain that luck always passes them by. They refuse to see that they can create some of their own luck.

Yes… Live the best life you can.

Or as another one of my favorite quotes taken slightly out of context, “…And while Cinderella and her Prince did live happily ever after. The point, gentleman: is that they lived.

It’s not (and never should be) really about bucket lists. It’s not about checking something off on a list that you want to do before you die.

It’s about living… For in living, we don’t always appreciate the little things in life that happen along with those bucket list items….

Like seeing Lunar Moths congregating in your back yard and mating in the moonlight.

Or being beaned (hit in the head) by a member the biggest moth species in the United States (it looks like the Atlas Moth in color and wing shape, but can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head Hercules Moth or some such) while watching a total lunar eclipse as it turns blood red.

Being a second (back-up) for a childbirth because the husband was away on an Oil Rig and would never make it in time (and for a Gay Man was quite the surprise in more ways than I can shake a stick at. Blue! Enough said).

Being stuck in traffic and in an act of boredom blow up balloons throwing them out the window, and watching people behind laughing and try to collect them and passing them backwards to others frustrated by the traffic jam.

Like being there for a friend comforting them as they died.

Throwing a lingerie party for drag queens as an act of defiance for the nosy neighbors. The expressions were flawless ad the neighbors tried to work out how women came into the party in the evening, yet men left it in the early morning.

Finding out that my journals (blog) and the trials I was going through helped someone realize that the problems they’re going through aren’t as bad as they thought they were and helped pick them up and continue on.

Or having a friend comment that my silence being such a presence during a meeting, challenged him in ways he never knew possible.

Riding my bicycle at 2 in the morning and watching the deer on some rural road, stopping and staring while a flock of turkeys ran in the opposite direction as I’m cackling like a madman (while listening to a podcast) riding downhill at breakneck speeds.

Being complimented on my laugh and asked by several members of an improv troupe if I would sit in on their shows more often as someone to prompt the audience to laugh more.

Or dancing with a date at a movie in the park that prompted people to dance along and turn a quiet movie into an awesome and camp audience participation event. And back more than thirty years ago, not a noise was made that it was two men dancing together.

And of course, there’s so much more there too…

My point is: if you treat everything you do, see, experience as part of a bucket list… As something wonderful, unique appreciated and cherished… perhaps you won’t actually need to plan one as the amazement, strangeness and uniqueness of life happens around you minute to minute.

Until the next time.

Moving Forward

09/19/2014 4 comments

Entry 09/18/2014 03:51:47 PM – Mentat 735

How we face death is at least as important as how we face life…” – James T. Kirk; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I’m doing the old man thing once again… Fell asleep reading Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Series at about 8 o’clock and then ended up waking up at 4 AM. Sure it’s uninterrupted sleep. Sure the autumnal catch-up time from the 6 hours of sleep a night I typically do during the summer, but it’s not quite the sort of sleep I regiment myself do as a Daywalker. It’s just too… one-off. I’m sure it’ll continue for a while longer; hopefully toward the end I’ll be able to better control it.

The fun (read: challenge) though was the energy that I tapped into both when I began falling asleep and again an hour after I woke up. You see, Mr. James Radcliffe had posted a positively inspiring Part I of a 2-part series on gratitude and death. One that inspired so many different thoughts and feelings and even a perspective on how much work can be behind the simplicity we often take for granted. It created the kind of thoughtforms, the kind of feelings that invoked interest, curiosity, intrigue and the sort of mental energy toward inspiration tapped into the imagination. I had been looking forward to Part II with anticipation, and based on what I saw on his personal comments when he split up the elements he was trying to cram together it should have sped Part II out relatively quickly. That is to say within a couple of days… Maybe a week tops…

One week passed.

Two weeks passed.

During the beginning of the third week, I send him a tweet reminding him of the time passed since Part I and hoped that his “secret love” (a cello he had recently acquired) hadn’t distracted him.

Then I saw the tweet of his studio time about a day or two later and realized that in my experience with the artistic; Mr. Radcliffe would be tied up anywhere from three days to three weeks working on the passion that drives him: his music.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always adored, respected and appreciated most artistic types. They are well known to be the most impulsive of the energy types in humanity that I have witnessed. Following their passions the artistic type can work on something for weeks to produce music, poetry, art-work and subsequently thoughts that can culminate Harmony through Conflict to produce sublime beauty. However, the issue I have is that I intimately understand through my own personal experience is the fluidity of the human mind: changing thoughts, changing perspective, changing mood, etc. That even I could not possibly maintain the mental discipline over the course of several more weeks the thoughts and feelings I had at the end of reading Part I while I wait in anticipation to an opinion and a perspective from someone else for the next part. Even the delicacy of the energies I might preserve is going to change because of events and meditations that happen with me from the day to day and the week to week.

And so last night, I started the necessary meditations to respond to Mr. Radcliffe’s un-submitted Part II based on the energy I have been holding close in anticipation in my own online blog without waiting any longer.

This morning, I continued to work with the energy and knowing I had family obligations of schlepping over to my mother’s house to watch her monster child (her spoiled absolutely rotten Chocolate Labrador) while she was at the Orthopedic Doctor’s, I set up Eärendil (my laptop), started chugging my iced coffee and headed over Mr. Radcliffe’s WordPress page and do a quick re-read of Part I to set my mind and passions in motion.

That’s when I saw that Mr. Radcliffe had finally posted Part II.

Having read Part II, I found myself keenly disappointed. Not exclusively because of the content of the second part — which covered the subject of death and facing it instead of shying away from it — but also because I found the thoughtforms that I had been slowly building up falling apart and crumbling right before my (mental) eyes. I hadn’t remotely expected him to be talking about death quite as intensely as he did talking about life in Part I. I maintained the energy for the original inspiration as long as I could, posted the changed comment and wandered off trying desperately to hold on to the original inspirations and mental side notes that I started with last night.

Spending time caring for my mother over the course of the next few hours, I was snarkier than normal. While she did her usual of raising protest and eventually being equally sarcastic as defense and retribution, nothing she could do was going to assuage the direction of my thoughts and emotions. It was going to take me retreating to my apartment and with some attention from my cat, I focused on a meditation to reset.

Reset is precisely what I did, opening up my mind and my imagination to comprehending the universe around me as I laid there listening to the sounds in the neighborhood.

The first thing that struck me after I came out of my afternoon meditation was that it was necessary for Mr. Radcliffe to focus on death and getting people to overcome their fear(s) of it. I often forget that I am part of one of the rarer groups of humanity that has faced death (in my case by Car Accident and DOA) and came out on the other side not only facing the fear of it, but understanding that death isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s simply the end of the cycle that every living being starts when we’re born into this world. And that near-death experience has lead me to both my personal enlightenment as well as my embracing its inevitability in my own life. While I had hoped that Mr. Radcliffe would have continued his train of thoughts into the more positive, as I sat with Moe on my stomach, purring to his heart’s content it dawned on me, that perhaps it’s not Mr. Radcliffe’s obligation to continue the creation of those thoughts — but may in fact be mine –as reader and follower of his blog.

Mr. Radcliffe was quite correct when he stated that once you face your death… the ennui created when running away from your fears about death and dying makes regret (and that horrible grey area of entropy) unable to grow. But the question that it raises was left unasked other than in the hearts and minds of his readers & followers. That question was left unanswered by Mr. Radcliffe as he brought the readers face to face with the shock of one’s own mortality… it’s something that I have often answered of all that have asked it in my direction during my wanderings on Planet Earth…

What do you fill that space with?

What can one do to bring joy into one’s own life?

The first thing that I remind everyone that I speak with is to always safeguard against fear returning. All people fall into habits… get lazy… Follow the path of least resistance and when they return to those habits, fear comes back. For me, I happen to use the Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear as part of a daily ritual:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Once the fear is faced (and perhaps even obliterated temporarily from the consciousness) however you choose to remove or embrace that fear, then it’s time to find a purpose and remind oneself of that purpose routinely.

For me this was set before I joined the Army (that was when I was 19)… As I sit here and think about it further, if I recall as correctly as I can (the time between my graduation from high school and sometime shortly after the car accident is a hazy blur), was set sometime around the time I was finishing up high school when I worked out a philosophical dilemma when my friend asked me as a challenge, “how are you planning on changing the world?”

My answer was “… I will change the world, one person at a time..”

I worked then– and continue to work now — on the concept that if one person is changed, be it given a bright spot in their life, given advice to make a tough decision a little bit easier, made happy, given peace and solace against personal pain and suffering, give them laughter, a happy day, something for being thankful for, paying something forward, educated to a different perspective… even so much as simply listening to that person talk about something that’s been on their minds — then that person has been changed for the better — even for a moment — and the decisions made by that person forward from that moment should also change, and in changing — the world as I understand it has been changed. It is different than it was the minutes before.

Sure, it’s a Sisyphean undertaking. Changing 7 billion people one at a time will take longer than any of our individual lives. And until my epiphany when I was 25, it certainly felt futile at times. But in that moment of my epiphany — 25th of June, 1989 — I realized, I’m not the only one trying to change the world. There are others, even if I don’t readily see them around me. Even if it’s not exactly the same way I’m attempting. Ultimately though, they are also changing the world.

Fast forward 25 years and through all the karma that I have been working through, all the struggles I have endured. The gains.. The losses. The joys and the sorrows… I have learned one thing above all… The only way to know how strong (you truly are) is to keep testing your limits. This is positively necessary in any goal you choose for yourself. Be it raising a family, be it being in love (and/or) monogamous to one special one. Be it helping others one at a time or thousands at a time. Be it as a member in your circle of friends, within your neighborhood, your community, your town or city, or even as a loner. For whatever you choose to do — do it. And keep testing to see if you can do more — even in that one choice you choose.

When in doubt, also remember what the Dalai Lama once said, “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.” That includes harming yourself. Push your limits yes, but never harm yourself by exceeding those limits foolishly.

I fear I’m beginning to ramble and get myself caught up in all the nuances of all the things I’ve learned in assisting in my want to change the world, so I will leave you with this.

Whatever you choose to do with your life…

  • Be it breaking old habits through activism and civil disobedience.
  • Be it through love and understanding and imparting wisdom to all those who will listen.
  • Be it as the analyst that enacts the ability to subtlely change things in wisdom by word and deed.
  • Be it as the artist (like Mr. Radcliffe) in bringing inspiration through the clashes of harmony and discord to create the sublime and a change in perspective.
  • Be it as the scientist.
  • Be it as the faithful to an ideal.
  • Be it as the magician that can make reality out of thoughts in the imagination.
  • Be it as any combination of these archetypes and more unlisted and seen through experience.

…Embrace it and — most importantly – live it!!!

Until the next time.

A Couch Potato’s Review of Godzilla (2014)

A Couch Potato’s Review of Godzilla (2014)

I know that it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and written a review on anything, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been watching the good, the bad, the ugly, the awful and the truly toxic Hollywood (and various independent productions) have to offer. No, it just meant that I haven’t had the want, the desire, the panache or the gumption to critique them publicly. There’s been a couple of movies and even a book that I tore into in my journal, I decided as a sort of “return” I was going to sit and give a go with the American Re-Remake of a B-Movie Japanese Cult classic. While I might not go into the blow-by-blow details of the movie as I used to, there will be some spoilers based on the scenes that I had issues with.

The long and the short of it is that American Directors and Producers just don’t quite get it. They came close in this movie – certainly infinitely closer than the abortion of a Roland Emmerich film at the turn of the century. The problem is that there’s too much cultural differences between Japan and America that makes it near to impossible for Americans to truly get it. That and of course, Americans suffer a really bad problem with what I like to call the “wouldn’t it be cool, if…” Syndrome in trying to one up everything that they want to touch. This movie is of course no exception to that syndrome as this movie tried to also pile in way too healthy heapings of American Heroism (otherwise known as Individual Heroism), a Love story, and the usual hippy like fervor against all things military.

So I’ll admit that I didn’t actually buy this DVD. I decided on taking advantage of The Pirate Bay with the exclusive intent that if this movie was good enough, I’d actually spend the money on getting it from my local Wal*Mart or cheapskate store that sells them when they reach bargain bin. The first thing I noticed of course – besides the glowing praise of a good DVD rip – as the anger (and disgust) form leechers from around the world that Americans were once again trying their hand at a Japanese Monster Movie once again. One of the most comical comments I read was the one that said, “Bryan Cranston’s in it, and any movie that has Bryan Cranston in it can’t be bad…” The response to that was, “[Cranston] dies within 15 minutes of the film, and after that it blows chunks…”

I chuckled at it while I picked up the magnet for it and while watching it, realized it wasn’t entirely true. Cranston’s character was pronounced dead at 42 minutes into it.

Sure there were some names in this film after Cranston dies – the scientist played by Ken Watanabe, the Navy Admiral played by David Strathairn – but on the whole, it was a film of mostly unknown and untried actors. So far, that’s about right given that Sony (then Toho) Studios but I think the true reason was because anyone that remembers the names that worked in the Emmerich Abomination™ (Reno, Savant and Broderick) would run away from the thought of doing a remake for the sake of their careers and unborn children. Or as an agent would tell the actor they represent, “Take my advice and if anyone asks why you didn’t audition for the role, tell them… you weren’t available…”

Unlike the Emmerich Abomination™, it was decided to have two different monsters in this film: Godzilla and a male (and female) MUTO (Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organism). Americans missed the mark here, but this is because of a cultural difference more than anything else. The Japanese love giving everything a label or a name that stands out. Mothra, Gyaos, Gamera, Hedora and on and on and on. Americans love their acronyms. So instead of giving it a name – usually done by the scientist – they gave it an acronym clearly indicating that they’re not going to last.

One of the points American Producers and Director seem to have finally clued into was that Godzilla wasn’t actually the villain. Barring the original 1954 release that was more a warning of the hubris of man that caused a creature to make the potential extinction of mankind – like they did in the Emmerich Abortion™ – Godzilla was there mucking up the US Navy and San Francisco to get at the MUTO to “restore balance” to the planet. While this message was more than a bit heavy-handed – something only Americans seem to love to do – at least the scale, fire-breathing monster didn’t go all hating on the silly Homosapiens that often were in its path.

Another thing that seemed to have been missed is how the scientist was pretty much ignored by the military. While it’s not entirely surprising given that a majority of Hollywood’s producers, directors and productions houses absolutely abhor the military (by making them appear as tank-brained, war mongers) at least it seemed that the military was out for the common good of the people. While this might come close to what I remember of the military in the tons of monster movies I’ve been watching since I was a child, it still gets a mark against it as Americans don’t seem to entirely understand how the military still deferred to the scientists that had been studying the monster(s). Then again this is definitely a cultural difference that doesn’t translate well to American Individualism.

I find myself torn on the level of panic and the amount of focus TPTB had on the “little people” in this film. What I mean is the hero’s medical wife, his son and the people that were being evacuated from the epicenter of monster destruction. This also includes the Golden Gate Bridge and Levi’s Stadium (or was it supposed to be AT&T Park? I don’t know and frankly I didn’t care to stick around to check it in the credits) where the survivors collected in the aftermath. While I understand the importance of showing panicking humans when it comes to a rampaging set of monsters destroying the town you’re living in, there seemed to have way too much focus on the twanging of the good old heart-strings of family reunions. While it has always existed in the monster movies I’ve watched, at the same time it seemed too focus on the individualism of the panicked instead of simply using them to show the orderly evacuation of the affected people from the epicenter.

And finally, the TPTB missed the “magic” of Godzilla. While they did a good job trying to show how unstoppable Godzilla was, they seemed to have spent too much time trying to establish the reality of an atomic mutated, unstoppable, fire-breathing monster from the prehistoric past, they missed the point that Godzilla was never really… well, real. Making him real was too surreal. And in doing that it ruined any magic we might have remembered of Godzilla from our childhood.

Bottom Line: While my vitriol went down as the movie progressed, I couldn’t shake the feeling that while this was a better attempt at an Americanized version of the Japanese icon, Americans still aren’t quite getting it because of a combination of cultural differences and what I’ve seen of my generation trying to make what they grew up with… well grow up with them. They miss the biggest point in that some things don’t need to be matured: and this was one of them. It’s worth a one-watch, but “owning” it? No, it’s really not worth it.

Strain

Strain

Mandelbulb 3D, Un-Retouched

This was just one of these type of pieces that no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get the color gradients that I wanted. And I wanted something between subtle and vibrant. Fortunately for it, I decided on taking a look at it fullscreen and realized that there was just the right sort of subtlety to save it from being deleted.

Cheesy inspirational music was involved during it’s creation: Erasure – Chains of Love.

Bits and Bobs

Bits and Bobs

Mandelbulb 3D, Un-Retouched

Originally going to be called: Jetsam, it reminded me more of what happens when Legos explode out of their container.  (yes, I’m that graceful)

No matter the perspective or the tour through the 3D Preview Window, this one’s a hot mess of bits and pieces everywhere.

Inspired by Project DMM – Radiance

On Friendship (in the Digital Age)

08/31/2014 Comments off

Kahlil Gibran started On Friendship: Your friend is your needs answered.

He didn’t start with wants or desires, he started with needs.

To me, needs has always inferred that it surpasses creature comforts and narcissistic desires. It’s a quality that infers “like it or not, this is what is — and was — required for you”. Sure, sometimes those needs are precisely the sort of thing we like and love having; be it a feed to the ego, a moment where someone recognizes your accomplishments and sometimes even the kind of moments where you can laugh for hours and feel like minutes have just passed by. But at other times, such needs can also leave you uncomfortable, embarrassed, and even miffed/angry/impatient. Something said that break down the bloat of the ego, a scolding for one’s own wrong-doings and even having a deep, dark secret revealed when it shouldn’t have been (so quickly). Whatever it is your friend gives you — it is precisely given and positively required — yes — at the right place, and of course the right time.

He also goes on with the next vital element of friendship: Trust. Now trust is something I understand in spades as it is one of the elements in my life that I have been working on and refining from the blind trust I often gave as a child, to the tentative and often guarded trust I give in mid-life. Trust is about certainty of someone’s actions, the faith that a person will act both according to their nature along with the respect that comes with one’s own boundaries. It’s the confidence that comes with a glint of pride that comes with understanding the person that you label as friend will be able to both enhance and enrich the better qualities in self (as well as themselves) as well as expand the boundaries of understanding in both ourselves and the world around us.

Trust is the vital element of two of the most important relationships in our lives: friends and partner. For without trust, neither of these relationships will last that long.

Kahlil Gibran begins finishing up by saying something that has left a deep impact in me since I first read it in Junior High School: For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.

That has always left a deep impact on me. First as odd in the way that he had used those words (and mostly because hours to kill has always been so alien to me), but later on in full understanding of what he was implying. A friend is never someone that you should just pass the time with. Fill a need for a moment between one event in one’s life and the next. And most importantly, pass the time with when one is bored. A friend is someone that you spend time with because you like their company both the facets of their personality as well as their flaws. For their wit as well as their candor. Put quite simply for their presence. For the very qualities that bring out the best in oneself as well as draw attention to those very qualities in ourselves we refuse to want to look at. Not to just pass the time, but to also walk along the path from cradle to grave and help us see more than just what’s on our path but theirs as well.

So as succinctly as I’m capable of producing, this draws the basic (and not so basic) framework of friend — and most importantly — what I label as friend.

Where I’m going with this? Well, here it is…

Recently I’ve seen one friend of mine remind people in her friends list post the correct way of behaving in any of the posts that she’s sharing. In a nutshell telling them to “behave or else be removed…” I have another friend ignoring advice because they are “comfortable with what they know” and not realizing the level of their depression far exceeds the boundaries of the causes. And finally I have one friend that deleted a post because it (my posting) wasn’t “positive enough…” to what he shared and said it was deleted because, “he was tired… and didn’t want to respond to it…”

And I ask this question: Is this friendship? Is this truly how you treat your friends and how you want your friends treat you?

There really shouldn’t be a difference between who we call friends in real life and who we call friends online. We homo sapiens often forget this when we go online and into social websites because of our wants to having as many people from all over the world reach out to us to feed us against our loneliness. We desire to have the vanity in us fed by thinking of these “friends” as a big number that defines and refines our popularity. And I’ve seen in my wanderings, sometimes — just sometimes — we want positive and negative discourse between everyone on our friends list to reinforce our want to reinforcing our sense of “sensibility”.

Such big social websites like Google+, Deviant Art and especially Facebook definitely bring out the worse possible parts of our ego and our vanity (and I’m only naming the ones that I’m part of, as I know of so many others that I’ve been a part of and since left) in that not only can we make friends with people out of our past, but also people with people we have passing fancies with. A Band? A DJ? Characters on a show? Actors? YouTubers? Artists? A product that you eat and/or drink? Like and things about them will show up in your feeds & timeline. Follow and you’ll get that and sometimes more. It quickly takes what we look forward to reading into the ADD/ADHD Paradise akin to the motto: “…Instantaneous gratification takes too long…

It’s because of this vicious cycle (for lack of better words) we often forget what it is to actually have friends. We take advantage of what it is to be friends with someone. Sometimes we even treat friends as though they’re just strangers that we merely tolerate.

Is this what friendship has been boiled down both online and off?

The optimist in me thinks not — we have made friends that we truly love, cherish, adore and respect. We look forward to what they say when they say it: regardless of it being a deluge of a million different comments bordering anywhere between the pedantic or the common or just one or two that are well placed smarmy and creative. The realist in me sees isn’t quite so… positive. It sees this as a trend happening more and more; from young and old alike. And the pessimist? Well my pessimism sees it’s high time to call attention to bad trend and break the thoughtform that has been created.

If you have to tell your friends to behave or you’ll delete them from your friends list. If you have to draw boundaries and ignore your friends because they make you uncomfortable. If you have to delete their comments because you didn’t like what they had to say. They’re not really friends. You don’t really know them. You didn’t take the time to get to know them for better or for worse. You don’t show them respect (and they don’t show you the same) and you keep them on for vanity’s sake.

What’s the point of saying you have 500 friends online if you don’t really look forward to what anything (and everything) 490 of them have to say in your time to live?

Why do we have to chastise friends in a public setting online, when we do so in private away from the crowds in a public setting in real life? Is ignoring them when they say something that makes us uncomfortable yet saying you “love them” really love? We cannot take back what’s said in real life, as there’s no rewind buttons (or even a pause button), why do we think we should do the same online when we edit and/or delete a friends’ post?

This is a dichotomy in its worst form and it needs to stop. It’s been created from a schism talked about in public (news and various shows since the popularity of the Internet in mid 1990s about the toxicity of people online) and continues to grow because of the path resistance in maintaining a habit is easier than breaking it.

It’s a habit that needs to be broken.

How do you break it? Well, let’s start with part of my personal anthem as sung by the Flirtations. As they sing in the chorus:

You can live by yourself… You can gather friends around… You can choose one special one… And the only measure of your words and your deeds… Will be the love you leave behind when you’re gone.

Remember what Gibran said in The Prophet On Friendship and even On Reason and Passion.

And finally this might come off as harsh, but the realist in us all knows this to be truth. If you have them around just for the sake of it. If You have them around because they’re a number and not a person. If you have them around to feed the vanity of popularity and having the adulation of like-minded followers. If you have them around only for the fair weather (or the foul as some folk come together as friends for massive whingefests). Perhaps it’s time to move on (unfriend/unfollow/whatever they call it on the site du jour).

After all, we do this offline (e.g., in real life) all the time. We make acquaintances, that become friends that become best friends… Or we have a difference, a tiff, a rift that causes us to break a friendship. We even drift away and apart because life leads us one way and them in another.

We shouldn’t hoard these “friends” online… Like a number. Like a merit badge. Like sheep to become a herd.

That fact is at the time of this posting, in the three examples of friends that I used as example, I’ve removed one of these three already. The second will be soon (admittedly I’m making sure I’m not acting in anger or hurt, but in love and understanding). And the third? I know that friend will do the right thing like they always do and will remove the chaff from the kernel; I just need to bide my time until sanity and compassion reign. And contrary to some of my history — I am a patient man.

Until the next time…

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