800 million solutions

Blessed are the poor for the Devil does not live there.

Four billion people live in poverty on this planet. 800 million of us live in a democratic free world of wealth, prosperity and opportunity. This is how you know if you are one of the 800 million lucky ones out there: 1) you’re reading this at your place of work, 2) your complaints are about gas prices, politics and co-workers, 3) your home is stuffed with too much “stuff”, 4) you always want to buy more “stuff” and 5) You can’t find enough space in your house to put all the “stuff”.

Consumerism consumption has to be where the devil lives.

When history judges our stewardship of our time on this Earth, I fear that they will label our generation; the generation “who did not care where there stuff came from”.

We as Americans look to our politicians, preachers, corporate presidents and pop-stars to bring about change to our world. Civil liberties, free government “for the people by the people”, clean water, air, food and prosperity are endowments that we want for all. When injustice shows itself, we look to our leaders to bring about social fairness.

Our leaders look to the 800 million to be the solution when asked.

For the most part we do want to be the solution when asked, no charity goes unfunded or unattended. The idea of a greener future sits well with us. Recycling, re-use and re-birth has developed into a mainstay within the corporations we work for. Nonetheless, we blindly turn our hearts and minds when it comes to getting “stuff” (Consumerism consumption). We go to giant box stores and buy their products that support sweatshops and slave labor. We eat at restaurants and shop at grocery stores that buy their food from companies that place toxins in food, fish-out oceans and permit animal cruelty, all for profit.

800 million of us acquire the bulk of our “stuff” from the Earth (be it in natural resources or through the labor of others). At the same time 800 million of us do the majority for the world’s charity?

How comfortable are you with your contradictions?

The Devil does not live in the poor - due to the fact that the historic Christian Devil figure is more of “wants” than cinematic evil. The Devil “wants” Jesus to bow down to him, in return Jesus gets the Earth. The Devil “wants” Job to fail and the Devil “wants” to show Adam and Eve that they are separated from God. In Buddhism the Devil figure is called Mara, the one who gets in your way. The Devil lives in the wanting of “stuff”, that is why consumerism consumption is where the Devil has to live. The old phrase “watch out for the devil inside” just got a whole lot scarier…

For more on conscious consumer capitalism
See: Does birth soil equal entitlement?
Democracy Rant
Effort is the only solution
Live Consciously + Think Integrally
Ethics and Economics
Conscious Consumerism
Can the food industry go the way of the music industry?



Current Reading: Capitalism at the Crossroads by Stuart Hart
Current Music: Shine by Daniel Lanois
Mood: Bleary
Sounds: Wind
Smells: Dust
Temperature: 35 degrees drizzle
Thoughts: There are 800 million solutions to the world’s problems, and you are one of them.


Can the food industry go the way of the music industry?

Solutions to our economical struggles, health issues and environmental troubles can be found by sitting down at our kitchen table for dinner and listening to music.

The phrase “think global but act local” seems to be of the utmost importance in today’s world. Next month I will attend an Earth-Day celebration in my neighborhood. Earth-Day is a global event with the awareness of growing a local economy through the means of being environmentally responsible. I will get the opportunity to meet local farmers (find out where local farmers’ markets are). There will be local bands, local food vendors, local artists and I was informed about this event through reading a local blogger. The technology of mini-globalization (blogging) is supporting the growth a new local economy. How cool is that!

It is not current news that eating locally grown foods helps your health, environment, oil consumption and the idea that community matters. Local farmers’ markets are becoming trendy and fun. It’s comparable to social online networking with actual live people, vegetables and expensive coffee.

Can the food industry go the way of the music industry?

With the collapse of the music industry, musicians actually get the chance to earn a living without becoming a product themselves since they are no longer enslaved to the industry. The consumer, in point of fact, stole the music back and has given it to the musician to earn a living. In today’s musical environment you do not have to be a product, sell units or be hand picked by Clive Davis to have your music heard. Playing music has not only become profitable again but a career choice that is worthy of pursuing. You may not become famous or rich but the possibility of supporting your family is there. Musicians have options of actually playing music: performing, teaching, session work, community work and most importantly selling their own work locally and globally without having to give eighty percent back to the industry that gave birth to them. Think globally but act locally.

Consumers killed the industry turning the product back into music. How civilized, music to be music and food should be food.

Will consumers kill the food industry next? Turning boxed, processed, oil-based preservatives back into earth grown food that we can serve at our kitchen tables? I hope so.

I have no naive dreams that conglomerate corporations with fall apart or that capitalism will become conscious anytime soon (You keep going John Mackey). The fullest human potential has never been fixed or definitive, which I guess that means the best is yet to come.


Three Days Off

Three days off and not much accomplished.  I spent the better part of the last three days waiting on other people to tell me what to do.  One, my wife, whose wishes I must respect.  Two, customer service attendants at Ikea, whose lack of interest in me I must accept (If I whish to purchase a new kitchen table and chairs and I do).  Third, my own self-righteous mindset that I must tolerate.  Too hard to explain, just trust me I can be a wrench of person when I am bored.

Good things from these past three days.  Downloaded the new Stuart Davis CD, “Something Simple”, definitely four stars. Caught baseball with my nephew, that was a lot of fun.

I had an epiphany of an idea while catching baseball.  Conversation while catching baseball could solve the entire world’s problems.  If you want to understand somebody else’s point of view catch baseball with that person.  Stay with me here: imagine watching the next presidential debate between Hillary and Obama, all the while they are catching ball and discussing the future of our country.  People cannot lie when catching baseball.  Not sure if truth-telling applies to all ball tossing or just baseball.  You can definitely lie when kicking a soccer ball or shooting a puck, never trust a hockey player especially if that hockey player is from Australia.

Broke out all the new camera gear.  I had a box full of new equipment sitting in our office for the last two weeks.  Just opened it this past Saturday.   Not sure if that’s a good thing or not that new equipment no longer gets me excited?  I feel more like I am keeping up with the “Digital Jones” than actually buying equipment that will improve the quality of my work.

“Digital Jones”, isn’t that a Stuart Davis song? 



Current Reading: Deep Economy by Bill Mckibben (****)
Current Music: Everyone Is Here By The Finn Brothers
Mood: Happy, awake,
Sounds: Paper rustling
Smells: Pizza
Temperature: 38 degrees
Thoughts: What is worse - organized religion or a religion with out an organization? Pray for Tibet…


On Book(shelf)

To go with yesterday post “On Books” notice the holly trinity on far left, two year old daughter stuff on the right and digital canvas center…


On Books

22 degrees going up to 55 degrees with bright and sunny skies in Pittsburgh today, very odd time of the year. It’s the twin-season time of year with all the glory of spring plus all the bitter cold of winter. Experiencing weather in Pittsburgh is only trumped by the unfamiliarity of the sun. A bright sunny morning in Pittsburgh equals traffic, sun-blind driving accidents and daydreaming drivers in awe of seeing the sun. My driving-daydream was about my love of books (& sometimes my fear of books, they know more than me – well most of them).

My love of books started in my first semester of my junior year in college. Two things happened to me in that semester that would cultivate my love and, sometimes, addiction to books. First, I got glasses, and second I met Dr. Mistro, my philosophy professor in college.

Until that point in my life reading hurt my eyes but nobody believed me. I would take my yearly eye exam in school and get 20/20 vision on the testing but nonetheless every time I would start to read my eyes would soon hurt and my mind would wonder. (Eye fatigue) Finally some eye doctor believed me or wanted to make a sell, and I got my first pair of reading glasses. The written word came to life (pain free) and changed my life.

Second thing that happened was having Dr. Mistro as my philosophy professor. He was one of “those” teachers that you hear about who changed a life. His teachings and subjects opened up a new world to me, a world with a passion for learning that had previously been missing in my life.

For the greater part of my life I was lacking zeal for most everything except playing guitar. In high school I always felt that I was labeled a dreaming, lazy, unmotivated type of person; for the most part the labels fit. I can remember my teachers referring to me as “that guitar playing kid”. At least I was lucky enough to have one passion in my life. True to labeling I was lazy, bored, unmotivated and uninterested in academics until Dr. Mistro’s Philosophy class.

Philosophers were daydreamers that history took seriously. That worked for me. From Aristotle to Nietzsche, they all made sense to me. I understood their thoughts and words. Algebra was nothing more than Egyptian hieroglyphics, but the existentialism and postmodernism of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” was like that first breath of air that saves you from drowning.

The love of books spearheaded itself when Dr. Mistro said to me “I do not trust people who do not read”. Not much for curbside prophecy, but it spoke to me. Continued growth in life is what it preordained in me. Do not trust people who no longer continue to grow. That phrase gave birth to an enthusiasm for reading that has never stopped budding inside of me. Additionally it fit perfectly with my approach to guitar playing. Six strings, a piece of wood and endless mystery. A love for wisdom with continued growth in music, books, art and life would never leave me.

Dr. Mistro gave me passion, more importantly he gave me conviction that my interests were worth pursuing. Dr. Mistro gave me conversation; he was interested in my thoughts and my term papers. We would discuss my interest in existentialism and postmodernism. He would actually come see my band play on the college campus, and we would discuss song lyrics that I had written influenced by his teaching. He fostered an academic relationship that made me feel like a peer.

Lastly he introduced me to a photography professor; he thought I might take a curiosity in the subject.



Perfection in the Process

The Gaia hypothesis states that the earth is a self-regulating physiological system. Simply put, “The Earth is alive creating and re-creating itself”. Stephen Jay Gould writes “There is no progress in evolution – we are not marching towards some greater thing”.

Sometimes the universe gives you what you need. Today the universe gave me a bit of optimism. I just watched Jill Bolte Taylor (TED Talk) titled: My Stoke of Insight (I highly recommend). Then followed that up with a new book about optimism titled: What Are You Optimistic About? by John Brockman.

“Perfection in the process” is my mantra of choice; no ending point is needed for the trip to have value.


The writers' strike save my life

Sunday night, 10 pm, opened a bottle of wine, turned on FX network to watch “Dirt”. This show makes me laugh on many different levels. First, I love the idea of art imitating life. Second, how easy it must be for the writers of this show, and third, that the Cox-Arquette’s are making money off the very thing that they grumble about. How great is that?? Serendipity + irony + old tabloid headlines = a hit show.

TV watching at my house has evolved into old-world-thinking. We only turn on the TV when we actually want to watch something. Be entertained. It is no longer an appliance that fills the empty space in our life.

The writers’ strike saved my life. Due to the fact that we loathe reality/game show TV; there was nothing left for us to do but actually turn the TV off in disgust. What came next was something that has only been seen on old black and white TV shows. We had conversation, turned on music, and worked on other activities, spent quality family time, truly “The Twilight Zone” style of living. Friends and family laughed at us, nevertheless we persevered. The TV is only turned on when we actually wanted to watch something. How civilized.

If you think I am bragging…well I am.

P.S. None of the above applies during football season…


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D70s
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 70 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/6 EV



Check it out here


Current Reading: The Third Culture by John Brockman
Current Music: Canon by Ani Difranco
Mood: Groggy
Sounds: Printer
Smells: Coffee and dust (not a good combination of smells)
Temperature: 32 degrees with light snow
Thoughts: Sleep is good…..very good



I object to objectivism philosophy

I have been trying to read the Rand novel, “The Fountainhead”. Throughout reading the book all I could think about is how much I object to the influence this book had on American capitalism. All while enjoying the story, Rand can develop characters like no other. Typically I am ok with a writer placing their academic ideas into the form of a novel. I compare it to a “get out of jail card free”; all the academic intentions without having to quote any sources. In this case, my pre-exposure to Rand’s philosophy will not let me enjoy the work.

To add insult to injury, I have a firm belief in separating the work from the person. Hence, you can be a bad husband and a good president (Clinton), or you can be a good husband (Bush) and a bad president. The work should stand on its own, separate from the person. This is a good place to inject a creation (vs.) (&) included evolution rant, but I won’t.

Apologetically, I had to put the Rand novel down. I could not keep my attention on the writing. My thoughts just kept glazing towards the influence of the work.

Sorry, Howard Roark, I think I would have liked you… Although I think Roark would have agreed to my objection.



Bill from IOC turned me on to Stuff White People Like…. Funny, I am soooooo white… Additionally Metro Dad is a fun read for all the Fathers out there.


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D70s
Exposure: 0.769 sec (10/13)
Aperture: f/29
Focal Length: 70 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0 EV


What happen to me?

“I divorced myself from any stake in the human adventure or the American adventure.”
- George Carlin

Sadly, I am starting to agree with George Carlin’s statement. I sense that I am becoming a doomsayer-type of person. Currently I fear global warming, toxins in my food, the U.S. economy, healthcare costs, oil costs/dependency, George Bush’s evil empire, the FDA and medicine that creates greater disease.

Things that don’t scare me: Surviving 2012, Armageddon - the second coming of Jesus, killer bees or mass plague.

People consider me the “positive one”. It’s true I see the brighter side in everything and everybody; most people find my optimistic outlook on life nauseating.

What are you afraid of?????


Ani Difranco Sound Check

Sunday afternoon my wife and I were privileged to be invited to the Ani Difranco Soundcheck Party, courtesy of our local independent radio station WYEP. Thank you WYEP. You make supporting local radio a pleasure.

Difranco’s songs are authentic, sincere and sung with a poet’s heart. The both of us, and about fourteen other lucky people, were treated to six Difranco songs. Three of the songs have not yet been released (genuine indulgence, thank you). Ani is a fan of using alternative tuning for her guitars, hence why six songs for soundcheck.

Difranco has a pure laugh that could be heard between songs throughout the rehearsal. Smiles, dancing feet and exuberant energy is what she brought to the stage even during soundcheck.

After soundcheck Difranco did a quick meet and greet with us. Just long enough to say ‘hi’ and for us to get a glimpse of that friendly and open face.

PS-For all you Pittsburgh readers out there, the concert was held at Carnegie Library of Homestead. Great sound acoustics, large enough to attract major artists but not too big to get lost.

P.S.S. Photo not taken by me: Photo courtesy of Google images