Thursday, January 15, 2009 Redesign - Again ScreenThis time I think we have a winner. The previous version of was heavily based on a what was originally just a placeholder layout. It was confusing to some, and it became a little chaotic for my taste.

The new version states pretty clearly what the site is about - great web design. New links are front and center, and featured site thumbnails are now clickable and slightly smaller to get more in a page view. The massive collection of links that were previously taking up space higher in the page are now at the bottom. They're still easily accessible, but now there's room for news items.

There are still a few tweaks here and there that need to be addressed, but, hopefully, the changes will be for the better. If you have any comments on the new design, feel free to share. Take care, and happy browsing.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Spiritual Circuit

Throughout the course of the year I've been doing a lot of reading and research on past and current technology. All of this study has led me to the conclusion that we are special as individuals, and even more so in groups, teams, and communities. Much more so than most of us realize.

This process really began with the question, "How was the Great Pyramid of Giza built?" This led me to technologies that are modern, mundane, and frankly, hard to believe. I've come across videos demonstrating levitation, inventors and scientists whose discoveries are still taboo. But, this is not a discussion about them. It is a discussion about you and me.

After reading and seeing all of this "stuff", I came to a eureka moment. As a preacher's kid, and an engineer by training, I was always interested in Biblical technology. As interesting as the construction and dimensions of articles like Noah's Ark and the Ark of the Covenant are, there seems to have been one technology that may have been missed, The Spiritual Circuit.

In the New Testament, Jesus is asked what the greatest virtue is. He names four: faith, hope, charity, and love, with love being the greatest of the group. As improbable as it is, it began to seem to me that it was these virtues that may have enabled the physical creation of the pyramids. I propose that faith, hope, charity, and love make up the Spiritual Circuit, with each of these assuming a property that corresponds to a basic electrical circuit.

Chi: The Current
In many religions, philosophies, and martial arts there exists the concept of chi. It is an energy that we all have, and is said to exist in all living things. Before I get too "out there", think of it this way. Chi is what you feel when you do something nice for someone. When you pick up trash that you didn't drop. It is the feeling of contentment that you get when you help someone with no expectation of something in return. When you see your child accomplish something. When your team wins a game. When you hear your favorite song, or when you finish reading a great book. That tangible feeling of energy, inspiration, and possibility is Chi.

For some, attaining and sustaining this energy is a repeatable event. One that gives us not just a good feeling, but the power to do things that many would consider miraculous. Things like dreaming about future events (prognosticating), healing someone with only intent and bare hands, reading minds (telepathy), and moving objects without any apparent physical interaction (telekinesis). So, why can't most of us do any of this? My guess, using the model of the Spiritual Circuit is that we have too much resistance.

Sin: The Resistor
We all have a sense of what we feel to be good and bad actions and behaviors. When we do something that's bad according to our own feelings, we sin. Maybe we throw trash out of a car window, use pirated software, watch porn, say or think something mean about someone, take a hit of that pipe, or cut someone off on the freeway intentionally.

Also, when we do something bad to our bodies, whether we know it's bad or not, we sin against ourselves. This could be in the form of a habit like smoking, eating donuts or hard candy, drinking alcohol, eating meat, or putting chemicals we don't know or understand on or inside our bodies in the form of things like make-up, lotion, fragrance chemicals in soaps, detergent, and cologne, or prescription and non-prescription drugs.

Every time something like this happens, we reduce the current (chi) in our spiritual circuit, and if you're like me, a lot of these things you do on a daily basis. It's no wonder that it would be hard to believe that someone could perform miracles with a constant bombardment of disabling behaviors. But, this brings us to the enabling behaviors of the Spiritual Circuit.

Faith: The Switch
A switch turns on and off the flow of current. Without it, we don't have the ability to turn the circuit on. In this sense, faith is the switch. By Faith, I simply mean having a belief system that allows you to accept that there is a greater energy than you alone that can be tapped into. Belief systems include Christianity, Muslim Religions, Catholicism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or even Satanism. As far as the Spiritual Circuit goes, it really doesn't matter what the rules are, as long as there is a belief that something exists that is greater than the self.

Hope: The Capacitor
In an electrical circuit, a capacitor serves the purpose of storing energy over time for a release over a shorter or longer period of time. Hope is like this in that it behaves like potential energy. The more hope you have, the more you can use it to define, inspire, and motivate what actions you take over time. I'll further define it as believing in something that can happen that you don't rightly believe is probable to happen.

I hope the Oakland Raiders win another Super Bowl, and I'll continue buying their schwag in support of this. I hope that my daughter will grow up and have a career and family that she is happy with, and I'll continue advising her with this goal in mind. Will the Oakland Raiders with the Super Bowl next year? Probably not. Will my daughter live happily ever after? Probably not. There will be enormous roadblocks to overcome in both cases, yet the hope that I have is constantly stored and released at opportune times in ways that I think will make a difference.

Charity: The Ground
A ground in an electrical circuit takes the excess energy so that the circuit doesn't overload. In the Spiritual Circuit, charity serves this purpose. Ideally, whatever excesses we have in resources, energy, or finances should go into helping someone else. When we have excesses, and keep them to ourselves, there are a number of administrative and petty issues that our attention must be focused on. How do we keep someone from taking our excess stuff? Where do we put it for safe keeping? Does my neighbor have more stuff than me? In its worst form, the lack of charity, or being grounded in a community turns into outright greed.

In my own readings on personal finance, every book written that I've come across instills the importance and necessity of giving back something of value. Whether it's "The Richest Man Who Ever Lived" by Steven K. Scott, "The Richest Man In Babylon" by George S. Clason, "Enough" by John C. Bogle, "How to Get Rich" by Felix Dennis, "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill, "The Warren Buffet Way" by Hagstrom, Miller, and Fisher, "How to Master the Art of Selling" by Tom Hopkins, or any other number of books that I can't recall, they all talk about giving a fair value for services, and most talk explicitly about the importance of charity in attaining financial success.

As Jesus stated, though, in the new testament, of all these virtues, the greatest is Love.

Love: The Transistor
A transistor has the ability to amplify and/or redirect a current. It is this ability to amplify chi and direct it that makes love such an important component of the Spiritual Circuit. If you have been in love and have it reciprocated, how does it feel in comparison to not being in love? If you have felt loved by a parent, a friend, or a fan, how does it feel in comparison to not having that feeling? My guess is that it felt better.

Imagine what the adulation a rock star, or professional sports athlete, or movie star must feel when they are performing and they are affecting the lives of millions of people with their art? That is the affect that one person's love for their profession can have. Imagine, again, that you are the fan at great movie, or watching your team win a championship live, or watching your band play your favorite song. You literally love it, and it's igniting and exhilarating.

As a San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area sports fan, I get amped up just thinking about Dwight Clark's "Catch" for the 49ers, or "The Play" by the Cal Bears, or watching Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, or Kenny King running a 70-80 yard play in a Super Bowl for the Raiders. Love is powerful, and it is largely a choice that we, individually, have a great deal of control over. Meaning, that we can
  1. produce this amplified state ourselves

  2. share it with anyone (one-to-one),

  3. use it to influence many other peoples lives (one-to-many), and

  4. receive it from anyone (many-to-one).

I'm cheating a little bit with these examples, because love is only the capacity to care, empathize, and show compassion, as well as direct that caring, empathy, and compassion to the person, group, animal, or object of our choosing. The concert and championship examples were actually examples of a completed Spiritual Circuit.

Let's take the sports analogy. First I believed that NFL football, and specifically, the Oakland Raiders, for example, to be important. I had faith in that system and organization. I then had hope that they could win the Super Bowl. As the season progressed, and as they began to look championship caliber, my hope became greater. The championship caliber state was the product of the team having low resistance, or in other words, not having impediments blocking their ability to play well. This made me commit more time to watching and discussing the Raiders, and spending my money to buy Raider garb. That committment could be described as my charity towards their effort.

After putting in all of this potential hope energy, I began to have a strong affinity for the team. I began to care, and empathize, and show compassion for them, and was able to share that with my brothers, my father, my friends, and with other Raider fans. And they were able to share it with me. In the years that this culminated in a Super Bowl victory, it became one of the most memorable moments of my life. It felt great.

This is one of the ways in which a Spiritual Circuit can create a miracle. I believe that these virtues can also be internalized and refined to a point that can allow individuals to do things that most would not consider possible. We all have examples of people who exhibited these powers: Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha. They are the keystones to today's religions, and they all believed that we individually have a great deal of untapped power. I have a Christian background. As such, Jesus' discussion of virtues is what I'm most familiar with, and time and again he states that the power to heal and create other miracles is within all of us. He considered himself no different than any of his disciples.

Physically speaking, new work on gravitons (a theoretical elementary) particle, and its relationship to what used to be referred to as ether are starting to bubble up. These particles may be affected by geometric shapes on macroscopic and microscopic scales and may be influenced by intent, which would imply a relationship to chi. They also may have relationship to zero point energy (i.e. unlimited energy sources). Music, or specifically, harmonics can also affect Chi (another signal amplifier?). No one can say for sure yet, but maybe Jesus wasn't that far off.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - Virus, Trojan, Annoying

I was in a conference room in Denver traveling on business when my Google search results started sending me to random pages. Bad. Same thing with Yahoo and Very bad.

The problem went away for a few days, but crept back up. I think it opened a door for some other stuff too, because my Firefox bookmarks got wiped out, and the background of the text for my desktop icons started to change. Danger. Danger!

So, now I had to do something. Our IT department wasn't much help, and I couldn't search anywhere. Then I realized that clicking the links in the search results didn't work, but the search engines mentioned earlier print the URL for cutting and pasting.

"Not a big deal", I thought. "I'll just see what McAfee has for this." The Trojan writers though about that though. Like my Google results, was blocked.

I found this forum post at that saved me. Apparently, the Trojan blocks the installation and update of Antivirus software and the like. In a nutshell, here are the instructions that are provided there:

  1. Go to Start > Control Panel(This Computer) > System.

  2. Click the Hardware tab and click on Device Manager.

  3. Select View from the menu, then select Show Hidden Devices.

  4. Scroll down to Non-plug and Play Drivers and click the plus icon to expand the items.

  5. Look for TDSSserv.sys, right click it, then select Disable

    Note: If you select Uninstall, it will install itself again when you reboot the system so Don't!.

  6. Restart your PC

  7. Now you can install the software to kill it. Download, install, and run "MalwareBytes". You can get it from The filename will be mbam-setup.exe.

That should do it. Follow the MalwareBytes instructions and you should be home free. Now I can get back to redesigning, home of the world's best looking websites (shameless plug).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama Victory Speech

A November to remember. I guess Lewis Hamilton's F1 driver's championship victory was just the appetizer. Happy birthday to me.

Obama Victory Speech - Clip 1

Obama Victory Speech - Clip 2

Obama Victory Speech - Clip 3

McCain Concession Speech - Clip 1

McCain Concession Speech - Clip 2

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lewis Hamilton Wins F1 Driver's Championship

I first began following racing in the 80's. I used to read car mags like Road and Track, Car and Driver, and Motor Trend as if they were a lifeline. They were to some degree because it took my mind off of the everyday drama that was school.

I had my favorite F1 drivers. Alain Prost. Ayrton Senna. Even Nigel Mansell, although he always looked kinda mean. To this day I can still feel what it was like to be in the car with them when I used to read descriptions of the driving prowess that these champions had.

As great as they were, there was one man that never won a championship who I'd get a glimpse of from time to time, scattered through the year in magazine articles. His name was Willy T. Ribbs. He was my hero. He was an underdog. He never seemed to be able to get sponsorship or a good car, although he was bubbling over with driving talent. And, he was impossibly fast on road courses throughout the US.

And so it is with Lewis Hamilton. Unlike with Willy, though, Lewis has had an inside lane on the Formula 1, with ties to the McLaren-Mercedes team early on in his young racing career. But, like Willy, he's fast. Really fast. And that's all that should really matter in racing.

I understand that in Brazil and Spain there have been decidedly racist sentiments in the crowd and online. The problem with that type of an attitude is that mean spirits and vulgarity doesn't make you slower, especially if you have a good ride. Sorry haters. To have Hamilton win the World Championship on the second to the last lap of the last race of the season must sting a little.

German language clip of the last lap.

My hat is off to Mr. Hamilton, now the youngest driver to ever win the Formula 1 Championship. He will be a hero to many regardless of the color his skin, or theirs. And he is mostly definitely a hero to me.

Cheers Lewis!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kali Spear Seminar

A couple of weekends ago we focused on spear techniques in Kali seminar with Tuhan Joseph Arriola. At the seminar we recorded some weapon sparring. It's mostly no contact, but you always have to be careful when weapons are involved.

Tuhan posted some footage from the session on YouTube. Below is a video of me sparring with one of the Guros. Staff against butterfly swords gives me a pretty big advantage, so I was able to showboat a little. I lost my grip a few times, which shows how much more practice I need.

Thanks for posting Tuhan.

Monday, September 08, 2008

People Are Irrational. Life is Unpredictable.

Last Wednesday if someone would have told me that morning that I’d be dropping a 54” Big Screen (not a flat screen, but a big screen) TV twenty feet from a loft’s upper level to it’s lower level … in free fall, I would have bet my Corvette that it wouldn’t happen. But it did, and the TV was demolished.

While I’m writing this from the 11th floor of an office building in San Francisco, there are window washers outside my window … right now. Kooky, huh?

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books on the improbability of life and the illogical things that even the smartest people succumb to. Much of that seeming irrationality can be attributed to our unconscious thought having a huge effect on our actions. Additionally, our conscious thought is affected greatly by how we want to be perceived by society. Both of these massive forces, in many cases, are barely visible to us as individuals, so when we react because of them, our actions can be a complete mystery to even our closest friends and family.

Let’s imagine you are an expert in something, but no one knows who you are. How much more difficult would you expect it to be for your peers to accept a breakthrough from you as opposed to someone who is well recognized in the field? You may think consciously that you’d be willing to accept the idea, but if Leroy Jackson from East Oakland initiates a bid to change the distance of pro basketball’s 3-point line, it’s not the same as if it were initiated by Michael Jordan.

It has been argued that the act of recognizing, and attributing values based on recognition, is largely a subconscious process. If that’s the case, then it may just be our natural state to not give a lot of value to ideas from unrecognized people. That’s a big obstacle to overcome, especially if your audience doesn’t even realize it’s happening. Add to this, the fact that we’re usually looking to our left and to our right to see if what our peers think BEFORE we make our own decision, and it becomes really hard to convince anyone to buy into a new idea.

But then life is random. Unpredictable. Things happen to us regularly that are totally unexpected. Fifteen years ago, when I was sleeping on the floor of my brothers’ apartment, I wouldn’t have bet on my having my own home and dream car. Ten years ago it would have been impossible for me to predict that I’d be married to a top bellydancer. Five years ago, following achilles surgery, I would not have put any money on my learning how to do handstands and back handsprings at the halfway point of my life expectancy.

But it all happened.

My own way of making sense of life’s unpredictability and in dealing with the apparent irrationality of people is my growing belief in destiny. I’m not a mathematician, but I think fate can be proven mathematically. What really convinced me of this are the cracks in my car’s windshield.

A year or so ago my car’s windshield was struck by a rock or something and that turned into a small crack. Later on, another rock struck the windshield and another small crack appeared. Over the next few weeks as the cracks began to grow due to the temperature changes from morning to night, then it hit me. These two cracks will eventually meet … but they don’t know it yet. The study of crack propagation is called tribology. There are equations that define how long it will take a crack to grow, and in which direction.

To me, those cracks in my windshield were like people born with a shared destiny. Let’s say a prodigy in the US, and one in Brazil both have physical and mental inclinations towards the same sport, field of science, or other skill or profession. If they continue to progress towards excellence in their shared area it isn’t too hard to believe that at some point they will at least become aware of one another. Like, say, two Olympic athletes, or two physicists.

Someone watching the progress of both of these prodigies from a higher vantage point in their area of expertise might see they’re eventual meeting as a real possibility very early on. But, at that early stage, the American and the Brazilian would still be clueless. Like those cracks.

So, even though our actions are driven in part by preset rules in our DNA, and by our desire to be accepted by our social and/or professional groups (even you rebels and anarchists who are hanging out and dressing like other rebels and anarchists), there are a lot of surprises out there waiting. And, they’re coming faster because of online social networking.

Sites like Digg, Youtube, Delicious, and Facebook make it possible for people like our Brazilian and American prodigies to meet and share ideas, videos, etc., both directly and indirectly. I’ve learned a lot about martial arts by watching Capoeira players in Israel, street fights in New York, and cage MMA matches in the UK on YouTube. And, the latest world news is at your fingertips with sites like Digg Labs’ I Spy application.

The book Groundswell does an excellent job of quantifying the business potential of these applications, and in predicting group behavior based on “technographic” prefernces. But, like any book really can’t predict how valid these models will be in 5 years. 5 years ago Youtube, Delicious, Twitter, and Facebook didn’t even exist. Will they be displaced by some other upstart or will they stick around like Ebay and Amazon?

Will Google still be a corporate behemoth, or will they become an official government entity? After all, Google is in the process of doing what the US Government intended to do by inventing the internet in the first place, aggregating public and personal information and making it easily accessible (… to them).

I consider myself a rational person, but I’ve encountered so many situations where intelligent people have willingly chosen to make irrational decisions that my perception of logical thought is tarnished. I’m almost to the point where I depend on the unpredictable to happen in order to accomplish anything impactful in personal and professional relationships. It seems like that’s the only time that most people can break out of their subconscious paradigms long enough to actually listen.

In fact, it’s starting to seem to me that manufacturing unexpected events might be the most reliable way to get someone’s attention. Who is to say that the unpredictable events that occur in our lives haven’t been manufactured by someone with a wider vantage point? Maybe it was time for the 54 inch big screen to go to TV heaven.

Can I get a Amen?

If you’re interested in gut feelings, unconscious thinking, irrational behavior, or social dynamics, some of the books listed below might interest you.

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Josh Bernoff

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell