Archive for the 'Writing' Category

18
Jun
11

Golden Tweeters: @SheSimmers

I almost wrote my first #140wordsaboutyou entry about @SheSimmers, but didn’t want to seem like too much of a stalker. You see, I’m a huge fan of both her Twitter persona and her astonishingly awesome blog about Thai cuisine, shesimmers.com.

My last reference subject felt a little embarrassed to comment on his entry. I guess that’s okay, I mean when I eventually write one about someone like @conanobrien, I don’t think he will take his nose out of that giant golden punch bowl filled with uncut bolivian cocaine to say “thx.” (And I wouldn’t blame him, really. Lucky punk.)But if anyone else read it and agreed or could illustrate it more, of course they are free to add their own living eugoogly.

As before, I am limiting this to 140 words. This one was brutally difficult to keep it so short.

From the clues I’ve pieced together: Majordomo/executive chef of my imaginary harem (IH) Leela is a Thai-American living in Chicago (where I was actually born). She loves to eat, cook, take mouthwatering pictures of tasty dishes and could probably mesmerize you explaining it all, lift your wallet, and spend all your cash on Chiang Mai pork scratchings (or marron glaces) and cockfight wagers.

I’ve never met her IRL, so in my mind I picture her avatar. (Is her hair really green?) Nevertheless, she appears to be blessed with preternatural kindness and adamantium sharp wit. I think I’d adore her all the same even if she turned out to be a retired chap who used to dabble in virtual lesbianism (The Cooking Game, anyone?) but I’d have to leave her membership status to the IH denizens. “…Alba? Orlean? What say you?”

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21
May
11

Golden Tweeters: Favorite Frenemy, @JustASpur

Note: Golden Tweeters will hopefully be a continuing series about people on Twitter that I either already know or that I met on this intangible plane who I consider my personal all-stars. I have started it for a couple reasons:

1. As much as I appreciate the concept of Follow Friday (or #FF) I don’t think it really leads to huge long term gains in followers. These are people who I would never unfollow, even if they decided not to follow me (crushing my fragile little heart). For them, 140 characters is not nearly enough to express my admiration and appreciation for their friendship/wit/existence/general badassery.

2. Even though I make a living from writing (even creatively, mind you), much of it is of the lucrative yet anonymous commercial variety. You may have seen, read, or even heard my work (or horribly mangled versions), but my name is never attached to it. Sometimes that means I don’t have time to write for me, which is something I should, because I like doing it and wish I could do it more. So it’s a fun little exercise, which I’ll try to keep each entry under 140 words to keep the spirit of brevity alive.

If someone wants to take this idea and do it on their own, go right ahead. I’d like to read about your favorites too, and maybe you could hashtag it #140wordsaboutyou. I hope you enjoy it, and you never know…you might be next!

My Favorite Frenemy: @JustASpur

JustASpur is a devout supporter of the sworn enemies of my adopted favorite (Arsenal!!!), but other than that slight mental retardation, he is the loveliest chap I’ve never met.

We actually “met” at a virtual “party” “hosted” by @simonpegg late one night. Unable to sleep, I got so bored I went to trending topics. I can’t recall the #hashtag of the party anymore and I no longer follow Mr. Pegg (no offense, still rate him), but throwing in my bon mots, I developed a spontaneous comic rapport with this random hilarious dude in Toronto.

His tweet count is intimidating (75,000+, landing him in the virtual penalty box from time to time) but majority are timeline-friendly replies to his many chums.

I’m always honored when I’m listed one of his #FF “Top Blokes,” because he’s definitely one in my book.

17
Nov
10

Reply to Sender

Please read this first, it will only take 90 seconds and you won’t regret it:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/susanorlean/2010/11/dear-reader.html

Then see my follow-up. I don’t usually like to leave comments, but I read this and it opened up a whole line of thought that I used to think about quite a bit, but just took a prodding from a Greatest Living American Writer contender (now wouldn’t that make a fun reality show competition? Fox: add boobs?) to inspire me to add to my Blackberry Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Relief Fund. I could have gone on, but then it would be a superlong comment. And no one likes that.

(Except me, though. I actually love them. I read them all, and the more new thoughts and interaction I can get out of them, the more alive I feel. I even read the spam ones, like the one about “Exciting New Oppurtunities in Sub-Prime Mortgage Funds!!!! And a longer, thicker cock to boot!!!” So don’t hold back. I mean it. I’m a sucker for repartee.)

I am posting this for two reasons: 1. I am not sure if it will show up on her blog (I picture some beatnik NewYorker.com web admin takes one look at my IP address, assumes I am trying to promote cheap airfare to Phuket, and presses delete so they can continue illegally downloading the new Girl Talk album). 2. So you know where to find Susan’s blog on your own next time (follow her on Twitter at @susanorlean). Anyone who is an aspiring writer or derives real pleasure from artful, string-bead arrangements of 52 different letters (UPPER & lower) should check her out. Fo sho.

Cheers,
Jack

Dammit, I meant to write this first. Though not as brilliantly or milk-out-the-nostrils funny. (My audience thinks Jersey Shore is a documentary. (Kidding, audience.))

For business letters, I see the standard practice is Best Regards. But what is that really? To have or show the utmost respect or concern for someone? That would be nice if it were true, though I would be disingenuous to use it for a virtual stranger on an email.

Can we use Bestest Regards? What if they abbreviate it to Regards? Or even BR? Should I believe you are sending me your “best regards” if you can’t even bother to spell out the herculean number of letters in both words? (Though it seems HBD seems to suffice for telling someone Happy Birthday in this day and age. (Did the use of that phrase reveal my syntactic fogeyness?))

I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought. Too many paragraph symbols without an According to Hoyle emoticon, I guess.

Peace Out Yo,
Jack

17
Aug
10

Deciphering Deepak Chopra

Dr. Deepak Chopra, click to visit his website

Recently, I had an opportunity to conduct a freelance interview with acclaimed holistic medicine practitioner, Dr. Deepak Chopra, on his latest visit to Bangkok.  The interview will appear in Thai in next month’s LIPS Magazine, but I wanted to share it with anyone who is interested.  He is definitely a fascinating man to speak with, and as someone who has always felt meditation would be very useful in my life (if only I had the time, patience, and quiet surroundings to do it regularly) speaking with him gave me encouragement to take baby steps towards enlightenment.

My inner editor has cleaned up the text I submitted to LIPS for translation, because making it easy to read and easy to translate are sometimes incongruous.  This first version is clean copy, if I had to edit it for my own magazine (we focus on luxurious and romantic travel, so even though I have say over what to include, it would not fit with the rest of the content).  The second version is what I emailed for translation into Thai, for anyone who is curious about my writing process, has an appreciation for bridges spanning the nuances of Thai and English language (and syntactic culture) or simply likes to play “spot the differences.”

Deepak Chopra: The Spirit Guide

In the untamed fields of alternative medicine and holistic health treatment, the name Dr. Deepak Chopra stands out as one of the luminaries. Beginning his career as a board-certified endocrinologist, he later shifted his focus to alternative medicine, writing more than 56 books which have been translated into 35 languages (including Thai) and selling more than 20 million copies worldwide. Among the many awards he has garnered, his books Peace Is the Way won the Quill Awards and The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of your Life received the Nautilus Award.

My conversation with him took place at the Peninsula Plaza Hotel, and my first sighting of him was a bit of a shock; I had seen many photos of him with luxuriant hair, but here he was standing before me, hair close-cropped, almost bald.  He did radiate amazing calmness, however. My father, a skeptic who cares nothing of pop culture (and wouldn’t know a Gossip Girl from a Lady Gaga), has even read some of his work.  Dr. Chopra was kind enough to sign his book, recently translated into Thai, Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul, for my father.

While it may be hard for some to grasp some of his advanced conceptual notions of spirituality and the universe, his suggestions pertaining to our day-to-day life and small changes we can make to improve our quality of life made perfect sense.  I felt a sense not so much of a leader using cult of personality on the blindly devoted, but a teacher who lets others follow in his example.

Chopra had been in Thailand for almost two weeks, but had been here to visit many times.  The last occasion was about 5-6 years ago when he was participating in an Ayurvedic course at the famed Chiva-Som Resort in Hua Hin.

On this trip, along with visiting a forest monetary near Ayutthaya, Chopra was actually ordained as a Buddhist monk. For one week, in a remote Chiang Rai temple, his head was shaved (which explained his appearance), he chanted in Pali, and woke before dawn to go on alms rounds to surrounding villages with the other monks.

When asked of his impression of Thailand and Thai people, Chopra said he found people here “are generally happier, extremely polite, exceptionally friendly, and enormously generous.”  With much genuine feeling about Thailand, he added, “It is a beautiful culture.”  When asked if his ordination as a Buddhist monk was the highlight of this trip to Thailand, he said it was most definitely, and to be frank, it was the highlight of his trip anywhere.

Chopra started his foray in alternative medicine with Ayurvedic traditions, but has since expanded his field of knowledge to many other cultures, such as that of Native American Indians, holistic health movements all over the world, as well as Buddhism, which he describes as “possessing a very strong base for understanding human consciousness and how it relates to our physiology, and gives keys to self-regulating our healing systems.”  According to Chopra, Buddhism gives us the essential basis to understanding how the body can be affected by emotions, creativity, and what Buddhism calls the “divine attitudes:  loving-kindness-happiness.”  And it is not just our physical well-being; the benefits [of following Buddhist tenets] go towards our social, environmental, financial, and career well-beings, as he states they are all connected.

With regards to how holistic medicine can complement traditional medicine, Chopra explained that traditional medicine is very useful for acute situations.  “If you catch pneumonia, you need to take antibiotics.  If you break your leg very badly, you might have to go to an orthopedic surgeon.  But when you look at chronic problems like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, genetic diseases, or addiction, holistic treatment is much better.  But people need both [traditional and holistic medicine].”

For tips on what a layman could do right away to improve their overall health, Chopra immediately answered with “Vipassana meditation, regular exercise, good amount of sleep, and proper diet.”  Chopra also mentioned that Thai food is some of the very best in the world when it comes to healthy eating.  “You find a variety of flavors and colors, and research shows that the more rich a food is in flavors and colors, the more phytochemicals it contains.  These are chemicals that are derived from the energy of the sun, and are important for healing,” said Chopra.  It sounds so simple these important keys to health are summarized: diet, exercise, sleep, and Vipassana meditation.

When it comes to meditation, many people are interested in it but find it difficult to achieve the results they expect and find it frustrating that they cannot silence their ever-present inner dialogue.  I asked Chopra to give me an important early practice on the road to proper meditation.  He answered:

You should start with trying to simply be mindful of just one thing every day. For example, you may tell yourself, “Today, I will be mindful of sensations in my body.” or “Today, I will be mindful of my breath.” On another day, be mindful of speech, and another day, be mindful of movement.  If we just do this little bit every day, we will start to experience stillness.

“It will not happen like this,” he said as he snapped his fingers, “But you will feel better anyway.  You will not be so reactive.”

Chopra stated that the best part of Vipassana meditation is that, “It has an immediate effect on calming you down, not as likely to get angry and lose your temper or feel anxious.  That is a great bonus right away.  Stillness of the mind and enlightenment? That comes much later.”

As far as physical benefits that come with meditation, the immediate ones are: lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, and less likelihood of insomnia and anxiety.  According to Chopra, the long term benefits—strengthening the immune system and slowing down aging—are amazing. “There are about 15 biological indicators for aging, including blood pressure, bone density, body temperature regulation, and cholesterol level, all of them are affected positively by meditation.”

His grounding is in Ayurvedic medicine, which is based on meditation, specific diets for certain body types, mind-body techniques based on understanding of consciousness to regulate the body, and awareness of the five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing) along with the heart.  It is very natural, basically a way to activate and self-regulate your body “if you were not conditioned by society.”

One of the processes that Chopra deals with using holistic medicine is slowing the effects of aging.  Some would say these are radical notions that he preaches; I was curious as to his viewpoints regarding growing old and how we can have some measure of self control over the aging process.  Chopra again mentioned the fifteen biological markers, which include hormone levels, and said they can be slowed (or even reversed), by approximately 15 years following a shift in lifestyle.  He says the shift does not have to be dramatic; it includes the tips he mentioned: meditation, good sleep, exercise, and also good relationships. As an extension of that, he claims you can work on your perception of time, and of what he calls “the subtle self, or astrobody.”  This is a little more esoteric, and while he does teach these concepts, following the four tips he already mentioned would influence not only the biological markers of aging, but also the expression of some 300 genes which have influence on maladies like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and inflammation.

Chopra explains that while genes may be fixed, their expression is not, so one can turn on the good genes and turn off the bad ones.  “When you are stressed, it turns on the bad genes and turns off the good ones,” he said.  It sounds a little bit like science fiction, I think of the Frank Herbert classic novel “Dune” (the David Lynch film starring Kyle Maclachlan and singer Sting as his nemesis).  In the far-future universe of this series of books, computers have been outlawed when they become self-aware, and there are characters called Bene Gesserit, witches who can control their own body chemistry with their mind, getting rid of poisons, making themselves fertile for pregnancy, even speaking to their past lives whose memories live in their genes.

When I mention this to Chopra, asking if something like that is achievable for humans, he says that he believes such human advancements are possible, but does not accept as true that computers have the capacity to develop self-awareness, achieve a sense of purpose, nor true imagination.  “Computers are based on algorithms which are precise mathematical formulas.  True imagination is based on discontinuity which is attached to the consciousness,” said Chopra.

On the other hand, Chopra has worked with some very imaginative scientists who believe that in a few years there will be nanorobots the size of molecules (which can be controlled with something like a BlackBerry) that will be able to clean up arteries if cholesterol is too high, turn on neurotransmitters in the brain to improve mood in the depressed.  He said, “In ten to fifteen years, there may be desktop computers that can clone cells for any kind of food you want.  So if you want a medium rare steak, you can just program it into the computer and enjoy eating one without killing an animal.”

I wonder, with technology advancing at such a rapid pace, whether human spirituality is able to keep up.  Chopra says it is not, and when technology outpaces the evolution of our collective consciousness, we have “modern capacities combined with primitive habits, and that is a very dangerous situation.”  These same technologies in the wrong hands could be used to destabilize a nuclear power plant or hijack all the planes in the sky, so technology can become very diabolical if we don’t mature spiritually at the same time.

Chopra acknowledges that, “You cannot stop the evolution of technology, so it is even more important than ever that we focus on spiritual evolution.  These same technologies that can destroy can also be used to create global communities.”  Currently, one of Chopra’s projects is one such globally interconnected community called wellworld.org, which has as its slogan: “Change yourself, change the world” and is accessible from his website deepakchopra.com.  Chopra’s intention is to create online global communities for financial, career, social, community, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Deepak Chopra also has a twitter account, @deepakchopra (which has been silent during his ordainment as a monk). Having started only recently, he has become an avid user, with over 250,000 followers, growing at almost 1,000 new followers per day, indicating great interest in what he has to say.  Unlike most celebrities who seem to take pride in following only a handful of other people, usually celebrities like themselves or friends and family (or nobody at all), he is very interested in what others have to say, following over 4,000 other accounts himself.  If he sees something insightful posted on Twitter he will follow that account, no matter where they come from.

When asked how he addressed skeptics and critics, Chopra says he “just leaves them alone.”  He used to try to oppose and debate them, but does not anymore.  He points to a fascinating scientific study which showed that, “If you have you people with opposing worldviews, say one who is totally materialistic and atheist versus someone who is very spiritual and consciousness-based, and you give them the exact same information, they both go back more reinforced in their own worldview.”  His indifference to naysayers resembles a very Buddhist approach (that has not seemed to hurt his growing following at all).

The big question is then posed to Chopra:  what does he feel is the purpose of life?  He answers, “It begins with the expansion of consciousness, of happiness, and using the human nervous system to further the evolution of the universe.  We are the only beings who are self-aware, and it is becoming apparent that the universe itself is becoming self-aware through us.  This is a major responsibility.”

And death?  “It is the most creative process a human being can experience.  What he means by that is that it is an incubation period before the next leap of creativity…in the direction of enlightenment,” said Chopra.

I know it sounds corny, but speaking to Dr. Deepak Chopra for merely a half hour was truly an enlightening experience.  I felt privileged to have that short time, but felt like I learned things that could affect a lifetime.  It is no wonder that people flock to him to help them find personal meaning in the lives they live, and the ends which are inevitable for all us…an end that is yet another beginning.

—-

And the raw text submitted for translation:

Deepak Chopra: Spirit Guide

Among devotees of alternative medicine and holistic health treatment, the name Dr. Deepak Chopra stands out as one of the brightest. He began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to alternative medicine.  Deepak has written more than 56 books  which have been translated into 35 languages including Thai and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. His book, Peace Is the Way won the Quill Awards and The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of your Life received the Nautilus Award.

I met him at Peninsula Plaza Hotel, and first seeing him was a bit of a shock, I had seen photos but here he was close-cropped almost bald.  But he radiated amazing calmness. My father, a skeptic who cares nothing of pop culture and wouldn’t know a Gossip Girl from a Lady Gaga, has even read some of his work.  Dr. Deepak was kind enough to sign his book, Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul, recently translated into Thai for my father.

While it may be hard for some to grasp some of his advanced conceptual notions of spirituality and the universe, the things he says about our day-to-day life and small things we can do to improve our quality of life made perfect sense.  I felt the sense not so much of a cult, , but a teacher who lets others follow in his example.

He was visiting Thailand for two weeks, but has been here many times.  The last time was about 5-6 years ago at the famed Chiva-Som Resort in Hua Hin, where he was participating in an Ayurvedic course.

While here this time, he visited a forest monetary near Ayutthaya.  And for one week in a remote Chiang Rai temple, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk, shaving his head (which explained his appearance), chanting in Pali, and going on alms rounds at the break of dawn.

When asked his impression of Thailand and Thai people, Deepak said he finds people here are generally happier, extremely polite, exceptionally friendly, and enormously generous.  He said with much genuine feeling about Thailand, “It is a beautiful culture.”  When asked if his ordination as a Buddhist monk was the highlight of his trip to Thailand this time, he said most definitely, and, really, the highlight of his trip anywhere, that is how much of a special experience he found it.

Deepak started with Ayurvedic traditions, but then expanded his field of knowledge to many other cultures, such as that of American Indians, holistic health movements all over the world, and also Buddhism, which he describes as possessing a very strong base for understanding human consciousness and how it relates to our physiology, and gives keys to self-regulating our healing systems.  Buddhism gives us the essential basis to understanding how the body can be affected by emotions, creativity, and what Buddhism calls the “divine attitudes,” loving-kindness-happiness.  And it is not just our physical well-being.  The benefits go towards our social, environmental, financial, and career well-beings, as he states they are all connected.

With regards to how holistic medicine can complement or go with traditional medicine, Deepak says that traditional medicine is very useful for acute (or more severe) situations.  If you catch pneumonia, you take antibiotics.  If you break your leg very badly, you go to an orthopedic surgeon.  But when you look at chronic problems like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, genetic diseases, or addiction, holistic treatment is much better.  But people need both (traditional and holistic medicine).

For tips on what every person can do right away to improve their overall health, Deepak immediately answered with Vipassana meditation, regular exercise, good amount of sleep, and proper diet.  But Deepak mentioned that Thai food is some of the very best in the world when it comes to healthy eating.  You find a variety of flavors and colors, and research shows that the more rich a food is in flavors and colors, the more phytochemicals it contains.  These are chemicals that are derived from the energy of the sun, and are important for healing.  It sounds so simple when we sums up these important keys to health: diet, exercise, sleep, and Vipassana.

When it comes to meditation, many people are interested in it but find it difficult to achieve the results they expect and cannot silence the constant inner voice.  I asked Deepak what is an important early practice on the road to proper meditation.  He said we should start with trying to be mindful of just one thing every day.  For example, you may tell yourself, “today I will be mindful of sensations in my body” or “today I will be mindful of my breath.”  On another day, be mindful of speech, and another day, be mindful of movement.  If we just do this little bit every day, we will start to experience stillness.  “It will not happen like this,” as he snapped his fingers, “but you will feel better anyway.  You will not be so reactive.”

Deepak stated that the best part of Vipassana meditation is that it has an immediate effect on calming you down, not as likely to get angry and lose your temper or feel anxious.  That is a great bonus right away.  Stillness of the mind and enlightenment will come later.

As far as physical benefits that come with meditation, the immediate ones are lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, less likelihood of insomnia and anxiety.  The long term benefits are amazing, according to Deepak.  Strengthening the immune system and slowing down aging.  There are about 15 biological indicators for aging, including blood pressure, bone density, body temperature regulation, and cholesterol level, all of them are affected positively by meditation.

His basis is Ayurvedic medicine, which is based on meditation, specific diets for certain body types, mind-body techniques based on understanding of consciousness to regulate the body, and awareness of the five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing) along with the heart.  It is very natural, basically a way to activate and self-regulate your body if you were not conditioned by society.

One of the processes that Deepak deal with in holistic medicine is slowing the effects of aging.  Some would say these are radical notions that he preaches, I was curious as to what he had to say about aging and how we can have some measure of self control over aging.  Deepak mentioned the 15 biological markers again, which include hormone levels, and said they can be slowed or even reversed, by about 15 years thanks to a shift in lifestyle.  He says the shift does not have to be dramatic, it includes the tips he mentioned: meditation, good sleep, exercise, and also good relationships. If you want to extend that, then you can work on your perception of time, and what he calls the subtle self, or astrobody.  This is a little more esoteric, and does teach these concepts, but the simple tips he already mentioned, he claims that within 4 months, they influence not only the biological markers of aging, they affect the expression of some 300 genes which have influence on things like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and inflammation.

Deepak explains that while genes may be fixed, their expression is not, so you can turn on the good genes and turn off the bad ones.  When you are stressed, it turns on the bad genes and turns off the good ones.  It sounds a little bit like science fiction, I think of the Frank Herbert classic novel “Dune” (the one David Lynch made with Kyle Maclachlan as the “phra ek” and the singer Sting as a bad guy).  In the far-future universe of this series of books, computers have been outlawed when they become self-aware, and there are characters called Bene Gesserit [sounds like Benny Jessy-rit] that are witches who can control their own body chemistry with their mind, getting rid of poisons, making themselves fertile for pregnancy, even speaking to their past lives whose memories live in their genes.

When I mention this to Deepak, asking if something like that is achievable for humans, he says believes such human advancements are possible, but does not believe computers have the capacity to develop self-awareness and achieve a sense of purpose and true imagination.  Computers are based on algorithms which are precise mathematical formulas.  True imagination is based on discontinuity which is attached to the consciousness.

On the other hand, Deepak has worked with some very imaginative scientists who believe that in a few years there will be nanorobots the size of molecules that you can control with something like your BlackBerry that will be able to clean up your arteries if cholesterol is too high, or if you are depressed they will turn on neurotransmitters in your brain to improve your mood.  In ten to fifteen years, there may be desktop computers that can clone cells for any kind of food you want.  So if you want a medium rare steak, you can just program it into the computer and enjoy eating one without killing an animal.

I wonder if with technology advancing at such a rapid pace, whether human spirituality is able to keep up.  Deepak says it is not, and when technology outpaces the evolution of our consciousness, we have modern capacities combined with primitive habits, and that is a very dangerous situation.  These same technologies in the wrong hands can be used to make a nuclear power plant leak, or hijack all the planes in the sky, so technology can become very diabolical if we don’t, at the same time mature spiritually.

Deepak acknowledges that you cannot stop the evolution of technology, so it is even more important than ever that we focus on spiritual evolution.  These same technologies that can destroy can also be used to create global communities.  Right now one of Deepak’s projects is one such globally interconnected community called wellworld.org, which has its slogan: “Change yourself, change the world” and can be also accessed from his website deepakchopra.com.  He is creating online global communities for financial, career, social, community, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Deepak also has a twitter account, @deepakchopra, which has been silent while he was ordained as a monk. Having started only recently, he has become an avid user, with over 250,000 followers, growing at almost 1,000 people per day, showing there is a lot of interest in what he has to say.  Unlike most celebrities who seem to take pride in following a handful of other people, usually celebrities like themselves or friends and family, he is very interested in what others have to say, following over 4,000 other accounts himself, if he sees something insightful posted on Twitter he will follow that account, no matter where they come from.

When asked how he addresses skeptics and critics, Deepak says he just leaves them alone.  He used to try to oppose and debate them, but does not anymore.  He points to a fascinating scientific study which showed that if you have you people with opposing worldviews, say one who is totally materialistic and atheist versus someone who is very spiritual and consciousness-based, and you give them the exact same information, they both go back more reinforced in their own worldview.  It is a very Buddhist approach that has not seemed to hurt his growing following at all.

The big question is posed to Deepak:  what does he feel is the purpose of life?  He says it begins with the expansion of consciousness, of happiness, and using the human nervous system to further the evolution of the universe.  We are the only beings who are self-aware, and it is becoming apparent that the universe itself is becoming self-aware through us.  This is a major responsibility.

And death?  It is the most creative process a human being can experience.  What he means by that is that it is an incubation period before the next leap of creativity in the direction of enlightenment.

It sounds “nahm nao” but speaking to Dr. Deepak Chopra for only a half hour is truly an enlightening experience.  I was privileged to have only a half hour with him, but felt like I learned things that could affect a lifetime.  It is no wonder that people flock to him to help them find personal meaning in the life they live and the end which is inevitable for all us…and end that is another beginning.

28
Jul
10

Recycled? It was barely consumed!

I hope this images is not copyrighted

Yes, I took this photo. From the sample pictures folder on my computer. Why so judgemental. It's a nice sunrise.

Is it plagiarism if you borrow from yourself?  If you are not John Fogerty, I think not.  This is a little something I posted on Facebook a while back when people actually logged onto Facebook from desktops computers and did more than say Happy Birthday, updated statuses, look at photos, and grow virtual rutabaga.  Since only one person read it, I think it is fair for me to post it again here.  I can’t very well sue myself;  I can’t afford to win or lose.

This post on the now-untrendy Facebook Notes was inspired by this blog post Here.  Perhaps I should have tagged more people than just my wife.  She didn’t read it, understandably she was very busy carrying My Three Spawn inside her distended belly.  The guy who read it was a guy (and clicked Like) worked for me at the time and I was grateful for the lonesome brown-nose.

So here it is, updated with links! And formatting!  Otherwise, it is basically the same thing I wrote many (well, 13 or 14) moons ago*.

Please, feel free to come up with your own, just replace the non-bold parts and let me know in the comment section below.  As The Wolf once said, Pretty please. With sugar on top.

A 40 Questions Meme- Where I Bare My Soul (and Bottom) to You

1. My uncle once: killed vampires for a living. Now he owns a comic book shop and doesn’t tolerate loitering.

2. Never in my life: have I knowingly sold crack cocaine to an undercover cop.

3.When I was five: I told the undercover cop I swore thought it was rock sugar.

4. High School was: not like in the movies. No unstoppable mask-wearing killer, no webcam broadcasts of a boy violating pastry, and no werewolves on the basketball team.

5. I will never forget: that time I made out with one of the Olsen twins. I can’t recall which one, though.

6. I once met: this ten year old kid last year claiming to be my son. Embarrassingly, I told him that was just impossible.

7. There’s this girl I know who: has X-ray vision. I always tell her how cold it is when she starts snickering.

8. Once, at a bar: I beat Stephen Hawking at darts. What a sore loser.

9. By noon, I’m usually: in the gym, finishing up a punishing seven-hour workout with 1,000 reverse gravity sit ups before heading to McDonald’s for a double Big Mac, supersize french fries, chocolate milkshake, and a large Coke Zero.

10. Last night: I faced down yet another pretender to my breakdancing crown at the Electric Boogaloo.

11. If only I had: one arm, I would still be the best banjo player in Southeast Asia.

12. Next time I go to church: I will save some communion wine for others, even though they were rude to me for not being a Christian and for not putting my cell phone on Silent.

13. Terry Schiavo: rest in peace.

14. What worries me most: is that my children will someday find out I’m not the strongest, smartest, most handsome man in the universe, and that I’ve never actually been off Earth technically. Those tales of intergalactic space travel? Daddy made it all up.

15. When I turn my head left, I see: my lovely wife, sleeping peacefully next to me.

16. When I turn my head right, I see: Megan Fox, hunched over the table, doing another line of coke. Geez girl, put some clothes on!!!

17. You know I’m lying when: I tell you those pleated acid wash jeans look fucking awesome on you.

18. What I miss most about the eighties: is driving around town drunk, yelling profanities at the elderly and little children, while blasting Hall and Oates on the radio.

19. If I was a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: Jason Bourne in drag.

20. By this time next year: my penis will be longer and thicker than ever, according to this very promising email.

21. A better name for me would be: Rock Harder. That way people could call me Rock, Rockman Lover, Rockity-Rock, Rocknrolla, or just Mr. Harder.

22. I have a hard time understanding: people from England, with their “jolly good” this and “bully for you” that. Learn to sprechen ze American, will ya?

23. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: run for class president, buy votes, then rob the school blind.

24. You know I like you if: I build a shrine to you in my bedroom, filled with pictures taken when you weren’t looking, your name scrawled everywhere in my blood, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police playing on constant repeat.

25. If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be: Ed McMahon, for reminding me that I could already be a millionaire.

26. Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferraro: a bunch of egotistical blowhards who would make for quite a poker game.

27. Take my advice, never: run from your problems. It looks suspicious, so just walk away casually.

28. My ideal breakfast is: a bottle of 1995 Dom Perignon mixed with Minute Maid Orange Juice, served with organic eggs benedict made with real English muffin, served on the naked body of a mute Japanese schoolgirl with attractive teeth.

29. A song I love, but do not own is: Happy Birthday to You. I sing it every time we have a dinner out. Everyone knows the words, and sometimes you get free dinner!

30. If you visit my hometown, I suggest: you wear Kevlar. It’s a tough neighborhood, but it made me the classy warrior I am today.

31. Tulips, character flaws, microchips, & track stars: are, coincidentally, the four main exports of my hometown.

32. Why won’t people: stop screaming when they wake up handcuffed to the bed? They are padded cuffs.

33. If you spend the night at my house: don’t ask me what the big feather hanging over my bed is for.

34. I’d stop my wedding for: a Klondike bar. I did, actually.  Almost got divorced on the spot.  Until she had a taste, then she understood.

35. The world could do without: all that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Factories, stop your burning! People, less breathing! Cows, quit all that farting!!!

36. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: lick its butthole. That’s just gross. And way too kinky.

37. My favorite blonde is: my Mom.

38: Paper clips are more useful than: paper itself, according to FDR’s inaugural speech.

39. If I do anything well, it’s: fill out surveys, standardized tests, and these Apple Bottom jeans.

40. And by the way: if you read this entire list, that’s 15 minutes you aren’t getting back, you slow-ass reader you.

*When I read this again for the first time in ages, I actually laughed myself.  Not to pat myself on the back, but I just forgot it.  It might be the funniest thing I ever wrote (except for this of course) and I wonder if it was a high water mark that I will never approach.  And if that is true, then…geez, I must really suck.

24
Sep
09

Dan Brown’s Lost Syntax

 

O.U.Red.1.2.?

O.U.Red.1.2.?

At first I had a nice chuckle at this column, tearing into Dan Brown for crafting some awkward sentences.  

The Da Vinci Code, opening sentence: Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.

Angels and Demons, opening sentence: Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.

Deception Point, opening sentences: Death, in this forsaken place, could come in countless forms. Geologist Charles Brophy had endured the savage splendor of this terrain for years, and yet nothing could prepare him for a fate as barbarous and unnatural as the one about to befall him.

Professor Pullum: “Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence”.

 It does come off a little bit harsh and pedantic (especially the number one reason mocking Brown because Da Vinci was not Leonardo’s real last name…well duh, that’s how everyone knows him).  If you are a literary snob, it is not like you need any more evidence of why Dan Brown is a shitty writer.  He is no Thomas Pynchon, where literary critics breathlessly analyze every sentence to decipher layers of meaning, and he is also not as gifted as John Updike was with prose, but there is no doubt Brown knows how to spin a yarn.  Find me anyone who sells 80 million books, and you will find a sizable population of haters.  Thankfully, the internet allows them to share their mutual abhorrence, anonymously and vehemently.

 What I always say is hey, at least people are reading.  So maybe people won’t jump straight from Brown’s latest bestseller Lost Symbols (or Twilight or Harry Potter) into Ulysses.  But (hopefully) it might turn into a habit, maybe a copy of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto.  Then maybe Blink or Watchmen.  Eventually they are flying through Hemingway and Vonnegut and the Brontë sisters, before tackling weighty tomes like Infinite Jest and Three Kingdoms.  Hopefully.

 Now if you insist on hating an author, I offer you Tom Clancy.  I admit to having read some of his books (Red Storm Rising and The Hunt for Red October were quite entertaining) but as it became more evident how he held Asians in such low regard, I say: “Go to hell, Tom Clancy.  And take your half-billion dollar empire with you.”