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Invention [Jan. 4th, 2012|08:33 am]
John Taylor
I'm an inventor.

It's a weird thing to say. I'm an inventor. People never seem to know what to make of it when I tell them that. It's a label I'm not always entirely certain of myself. It conjures up a weird image, of crackpot scientists and explosions and social paraiahs with their head in the clouds.

People ask, "Don't you have to own patents to be an inventor?" Or, "don't you have to be published in a magazine somewhere?". Or even condescendingly, "I've never heard of you." or "What have you even invented?" Inventing things is reserved for those with lofty degrees or expensive equipment. What do I know of making something? I'm armed with nothing but a crash course in a smattering of subjects, a workshop of tools and materials, and a propensity for daydreaming. But each project I take on opens new doors to understanding the world, and new ways to make the most of it. Many of the biggest businesses started in garages with people messing around and creating the Next Big Thing. It's a hard road, and it's punctuated with more failures than successes, but it's enough to get noticed now and again.

I call myself an inventor because it's what I am. Invention for me is not a hobby, it's a way of life. This is a part of me that's always been intrinsic to my nature, to pull apart, examine, redesign, and tinker with anything lying about, fitting solutions to problems, and inventing problems just to solve them. It's having your parents cringe when you threaten to make something they own better, and having your friends shake their heads when they see the mess you've created in building your latest project.

When I was younger, I would build for hours with Legos, Robotix, Pipe-works, and Capsela, making wagons and robots and dinosaurs, and rendering them down to parts to build them up again. Once when I was six, I booby-trapped the stash of silver dollars that I kept hidden in my closet, rigging a bat on a pulley system in an effort to keep out thieves. Needless to say, my mother was not happy when she went to hang my clothes. It was that kind of constant need to develop solutions for real or imaginary problems that directed my play time. As I got older, I began to clue into what each idea could be used for, and how others might receive them. Was it worth the effort to make something? Was I doing it for my own amusement or to serve some better purpose? Was the satisfaction of creating it enough to justify the labor and resources it would take to build it?

Success with invention is a spectrum. I'm in the dawning of a time when I have the resources to put behind some of the ideas I've had for years, and I've got the tools now to make the ideas I have a reality on the spot. I've had the good fortune most of the time to find a way to make many of my creations pay for themselves, and it's been sustainable for that reason. Even so, 90% of my projects never get publicized beyond myself and my roommate, and I have abandoned countless projects along the way. It's a hard thing to abandon a project and have to explain to countless people why you're no longer pouring your heart into something you wouldn't shut up about before.

But the spirit was in the creating, of figuring out everything that it would take to make something a reality, even if it never quite made it there. Everything we have around us in the modern world was an idea once, and we enjoy it because someone bothered to make it. And for every gadget or doodad around us, there are a dozen stories of failed innovations that just didn't make it for one reason or another. Right now, I'm slowly beginning to take my works public and building a portfolio of things I've created, from the mundane to the handy to the peculiar. Some of them are marketable, and the success I enjoy from those projects help finance the expeditions into failures, and the confidence gained from a well-received project is the hard currency to fund the next endeavor.

I've always dreamed of making things with my life. And now, I claim it as my title for all the things that I have made already, and as a commitment to all the things that I will create. The best way to predict the future is to invent it...so I'll see you when we get there.
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(no subject) [Apr. 26th, 2011|11:04 am]
John Taylor

"When I was alive, I believed -- as you do -- that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said 'one o'clock' as though I could see it, and 'Monday' as though I could find it on the map; and I let myself be hurried along from minute to minute, day to day, year to year, as though I were actually moving from one place to another. Like everyone else, I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year's Days, and I never went outside until I died, because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through the walls."

-The Last Unicorn
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Paradigms Part I [Feb. 4th, 2010|03:57 am]
John Taylor
[Current Location |Drifting at sea by night]
[music |Josh Radin - Star Mile]

Thomas Kuhn wrote of paradigms in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, popularizing the term and introducing the concept into the mainstream. By attempting to chart the progress of scientific advancement, his studies led him to the development of the concept of the paradigm, the framework of ideas and concepts through which the world can be interpreted. A paradigm is depicted as being the lens through which ideas are formed and interpreted and filtered out. A thing that is both rigid and fluid, advancing, expanding, contracting, and ever-changing. There are cultural paradigms, moral paradigms, paradigms about beauty, about love, about science, about spirituality, about the senses and the human experience, and these exist in the micro and macro levels within the individual human mind and within the greater whole of the culture. Carlos Castaneda has good supplemental material to this core idea of a paradigm - to understand the wisdom and the teachings of Don Juan, he must literally journey outside the realm of things permitted by his beliefs, through a series of experiences beyond the explanation of his framework..

A broad definition of a paradigm would be the scope of ideas permitted by a particular set of assumptions. The formal and analyzed definition is:

    * what is to be observed and scrutinized
    * the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject
    * how these questions are to be structured
    * how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted

As a third-party example, let's use the writing on Castaneda. In his tutelage under Don Juan, a "Yaqui man of power", Carlos Castaneda encounters ideas that are so far-fetched that he cannot even comprehend them, cannot fit them into his mindset. As part of the effects of a ritual hallucinogenic, Don Juan speaks of being an animal, and Castaneda's initial reactions are to dismiss the idea as being foolish, impossible, that his mentor is suffering delusions because of the influence of the psychoactive properties of the plants they're using. He repeatedly asks if in the recurring visions anyone else would have seen him as an animal, or on other occasions when the visions he experienced turned him into a crow, he asks whether or not he was flying - from within the context of his question, no, he was not flying. An "objective" observer would unlikely have seen the physical body of Carlos Castaneda moving through the air. But from within the boundaries of a *different* way of thinking, the world-view permits shape-changing and flying in a way that is extraordinarily real but not in a way that is a total fiction based only in wishful thinking. 

What then is a paradigm? It can't truly be touched except through exploration of phenomena outside the currently accepted definition (be it personal or on a societal level) and then the options are either to bend the paradigm to accommodate the idea and to give some form of explanation to it based on existing evidence, or to revisit the existing structure to see if the entire framework needs revising, or to ignore the idea altogether (from which results many strange behaviors in an effort to block out the challenge to the supposed concreteness of the paradigm).  As a framework of ideas, the existence of a paradigm is usually only made known by bearing load of some kind or by calling attention to its particular shape or function. It is both the smaller circle of themes and ideas and is also the conglomerate measure of all possible merging and combination of all permissible ideas. It is a very difficult thing to recognize something as being outside of all possible understanding.   

The first interpretation of the view of a paradigm outside of our own is that of primitivity, a foolish assumption at best. Humans are remarkably complex beings, capable of such subtlety and nuance of spirit and nature that there is very little about a developed human that can be considered simplistic. White men ventured into the world and discovered the savage cultures around the world, engaged in the practice of whatever traditions their frameworks permitted, and thought them primitive for their dissimilarities. The Western approach to the world since the development of the Scientific Method has produced a framework capable of making use of the properties of nature, in a way that was materialistically very productive and reiterative in the sense that each new discovery could trigger new discoveries, and the paradigm then formed the world into something that could be understood in its entirety. Whether or not this is the case is something it is unlikely we will ever "know" for certain. Does objectivity exist? Does subjectivity exist? These are deep philosophical questions that ruffle the feathers of many cultures. The right or wrong behind the questions is less important for now than simply recognizing the nature of the framework through its assumptions and its projections.

It is not objectivity that I would speak to, but subjectivity.

What is a thought? Where does it stem from and how does it shape the way we experience the world? With this notion of a paradigm, one assumes that thoughts must be ranked and filed in a certain hierarchy, that one thought becomes the assumption from which other thoughts become possible. We create very foundational thoughts about the nature of the world and we build our sense of self upon these assumptions, which are sometimes decided upon very arbitrarily.

It's sobering to think just how limited we might be in our ways of thinking because our individual paradigms do an excellent job of filtering out interpretations that are genuinely alternative to our normal ones. The unexplainable phenomena gets rationalized, ignored, obfuscated, buried, and otherwise accounted for in a way that it does not occur to us that we are missing something outside our lens. Sometimes we can also come to a *very* valid interpretation about something that someone else might be able to draw completely different conclusions about, solely because of the difference in framework. The existence of one does not negate the other, nor does it necessarily imply that one be more *right*. Functionally, both interpretations are the products of their paradigms and might account for all of the variables reasonably well enough that any rational person could draw the same conclusions. How then do we measure the rightness or wrongness on two legitimate interpretations of the same data set, or the "usefulness" of the interpretations (or of the data)? Here is where the notion of a paradigm becomes tricky and even more abstract, because we have already incorporated ideas about ranking or organizing data into our paradigm. That structure might include many tools for looking at a situation - utilitarianism, objectivism, ideas about morality or about religion, habits, upbringing, etc. The tools are varied, but they are still pieces of the greater whole and broad though the scope may be, it can still ultimately only account for things in a certain way and the limit is to what is known. One must perpetually experience the world in a very reactionary way rather than truly make up the interpretation on the fly and from nothing. 

A paradigm is not just the sum of our ideas and beliefs, but the extent and potential and *capacity* for new ideas. It grows as we grow, but its very nature is to create a membrane through which the unknown can be filtered into the known.


My paradigm right now is growing to encompass the notion that I can see something and be completely unaware of its significance, that the very framework that makes the observation possible might also be a part of the same framework that destroys the actual thing in the creation of its abstraction. I've opened myself up to vastly greater confusion and I begin to doubt the interpretations of the things I experience and observe. Does that mean those interpretations are wrong? No! But they are often only particularly correct within the context of the framework I am operating under. Lately, if I ask a a question of someone, I then reflect on the nature and the phrasing and the intent of that question, to understand what sort of person I must be to frame things in just such a way. The level of detail here is extraordinary, and it has to pass through all kinds of stages of tinkering to get a useful answer out of it. By closely monitoring my communication and by stepping back to the bigger picture, I develop a better feel for what my own paradigm is and how it shapes my interactions with people. And with this awareness comes an increasing sensation of being very alien even to myself. 

This leads me to a very peculiar notion that our paradigms are unique to ourselves. They may take similar shapes to the paradigms of others, but they are unique. There is no objective paradigm we are working from, no master template. It is a combination of luck, planning, willpower, communication, effort, evolution, coincidence, and an infinite number of other factors that result in one paradigm being similar to another. Not just that we would both wear rose-colored glasses, but that we would each independently come up with lenses made of different materials that just so happened to have the same property that they more or less filter the world with a rose-ish kind of hue, and that we could understand the similar property, despite the difference in the substance actually shaping the lens.  

I do not understand how ideas transfer. I thought I did once, and exploration of it has led me to this current research into paradigms. My starting assumption right now is that people are isolated bubbles that are inherently unlinked to each other. Through communication and expenditure of will and effort, some small bridge is formed or a connection is made, and there is enough common ground found that the information can move from one person to another. Ideas are spread because many paradigms are more or less compatible with each other and can relate enough to each other to get the point across. If we both look with evolutionarily similar eyes and brains at the same horizon, we could probably come to a common conjecture that the sky is blue. We are willing to interpret the data in the same way, and in this case, we are *able* to interpret the data in the same way. This happens so naturally with a shared culture that we never even notice the process, and there is a certain tangibility that we are able to work with that we couldn't imagine it to be any other way. And that is one of the hearts of the problem - we cannot *imagine* it to be any other way. The sky is blue because we *know* it to be true. It could not possibly be any other way. 

With enough shared culture, a paradigm is commonly enough accepted that people can easily relate to each other and understand (or even predict) the ideas of another person.  Progress on a social and scientific level occurs as the fringe of a paradigm is explored and pushed, as though the weight of the rim of this wheel is the same force that keeps the wheel in motion. As individuals, we evolve and mature to embrace new ideas and discoveries and to incorporate them into our fluid sense of self. New avenues of communicating with other people open up and our paradigm expands to have just a little more common ground with someone else. But the deeper one explores the psyche of another person, the more evident it becomes that the person is fundamentally a radically different person. The shared culture is only one layer, the things to relate to are another layer, the greater contextual meaning is another, the nuance of a person's reaction is another, and deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole it goes. If one probes deeply enough, eventually there is a foundational assumption that becomes a barrier, and one seemingly rather arbitrarily assigned. It is a very foreign place and one very alien in nature. With as much difficulty as we have understanding our own inner workings, understanding what makes another person tick is an extremely tricky process.

I've had many conversations where I can be looking at the same situation as another person but wherein the conclusions drawn and the supporting data used between us are very different. Both interpretations can make perfect sense, but sometimes the context of the framework of the other person is so completely foreign that I literally cannot understand it, and vice versa. The more complex and the more intricate my ideas become, the greater the distance becomes for being understood by someone else, because my ideas are so completely tied to this unique paradigm I have. I work within a fairly broad framework, integrating many seemingly unrelated fields and piecing something together from it so that I have a wide range of things to relate to (on a surface level at least). But even with such a productive paradigm, it truly is a struggle quite often to genuinely know why someone feels the way they do or to see the world through their eyes. 

One might think that simply enlarging one's own paradigm is enough, but it isn't - it simply forms a broader personal paradigm, expands the circle a little wider to encompass a few new things. Our paradigms evolve with us, but it is very rare that we will abandon one altogether rapidly. It is an incremental progression from one into the next, as new ideas are introduced that our old perspective cannot account for, or as we encounter ideas that conflict with or are more efficient than our existing notions. Our capacity for ideas is bound to our imaginations, and our imaginations are constrained by what our view of the world permits us to conceive of. 
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Know For What You Work [Jan. 25th, 2010|12:14 am]
John Taylor
[mood |Perpetual molasses]
[music |Duncan Sheik - Barely Breathing]

 Rearden heard Bertram Scudder, outside the group, say to a girl who made some sound of indignation, "Don't let him disturb you. You know, money is the root of all evil – and he's the typical product of money."

      Rearden did not think that Francisco could have heard it, but he saw Francisco turning to them with a gravely courteous smile.

      "So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Aconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

      "When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor – your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

      "Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions – and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

      "But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made – before it can be looted or mooched – made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.

      "To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss – the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery – that you must offer them values, not wounds – that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade – with reason, not force, as their final arbiter – it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability – and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?

      "But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality – the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

      "Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

      "Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth – the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve that mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

      "Money is your means of survival. The verdict which you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

      "Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

      "Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money – and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.

      "Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

      "Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another – their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

      "But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride, or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich – will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt – and of his life, as he deserves.

      "Then you will see the rise of the double standard – the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money – the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law – men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims – then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

      "Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

      "Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it becomes, marked: 'Account overdrawn.'

      "When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.

      "You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood – money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves – slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers – as industrialists.

      "To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money – and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being – the self-made man – the American industrialist.

      "If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose – because it contains all the others – the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money'. No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity – to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted, or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

      "Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide – as, I think, he will.

      "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns – or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out."

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(no subject) [Jan. 5th, 2010|05:33 pm]
John Taylor
I pictured you in the sun wondering what went wrong
And falling down on your knees asking for sympathy
And being caught in between all you wish for and all you seen
And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you

I know I would apologize if I could see your eyes
'Cause when you showed me myself, you know, I became someone else
But I was caught in between all you wish for and all you need
I pictured you fast asleep
A nightmare comes
You can't keep awake

May God's love be with you
May God's love be with you
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(no subject) [Dec. 24th, 2009|11:07 pm]
John Taylor
01. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Experienced people in a new way, did a long scuba diving trip, applied for Peace Corps, swam with dolphins, and had many new adventures.

02. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Yes, and yes.

03. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No one close to me, but I did know someone who did.

04. Did anyone close to you die?
None this year, thank goodness.

05. What countries did you visit?
Mexico, and almost Niger.

06. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Patience, compassion, and understanding.

07. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 29, for self-evident reasons.

08. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Forgiving some of the things and people that hurt me.

09. What was your biggest failure?
Not forgiving the rest. And lacking in compassion and sympathy.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing life-threatening.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
An iPod, some incredible new books, and a new car.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Deanna, for staying so on on the ball and in touch with her emotions and sense of honesty and self-worth in the face of so much crisis.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The people who betrayed their friendships.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Delicious, delicious food, into a trip that never happened, into some gadgets,

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The people I met, the new hobbies I cultivated, the garden I made, my summer camp.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Counting Crows - Accidentally in Love

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
Much happier, much wiser, much more able to communicate with others, more realistic in the pursuit of my dreams, better able to care for myself and look after my well-being.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Frisbee golfing and scuba diving. And traveling, of course.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Idling and wasting time. There was a lot of that.

20. How will you be spending/did you spend Christmas?
With family in Georgia, seeing cousins and grandparents.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Heroes and Rome.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. Can't say that's not true on their side though.

26. What was the best book you read?
Kushiel's Legacy, Eat Pray Love, Atlas Shrugged, and the works of Carlos Castaneda.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Folk and bluegrass music and learning how to play the guitar better.

28. What did you want and get?
A place to grow living things, people to enhance and enrich my life and expand my horizons, and curry. Lots and lots of curry.

29. What did you want and not get?
To finish The Glass Bead Game, Awareness in a few areas. Forgiveness. And to walk away from several bad habits.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Avatar, The Dark Knight, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, and Paranormal Activity.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Turned 23, and celebrated with friends.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If camp had lasted 12 weeks, or if I'd done a few weeks in another state.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
No more Hawaiian shirts. Clothes more suitable for the weather, and markedly more casual.

34. What kept you sane?
Knowing I'd been through pretty much everything before and survived it.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Emma Stone, to replace the long-standing Lindsay Lohan crush I'd had.

35[2]. What was your favorite video game of the year?
Heroes of Newerth. DotA, but better!

36. Who has made the most cameos in your dreams this year?
I don't rightfully recall.

37. Whom did you miss?
Salem, Matt Shell, Jyoti, and the friendships I'd cultivated but have grown apart from since.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Hands down, Deanna, and after that the crew of iD Tech. Tyler and Matt as well.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
23 is really quite a young age after all. The future lies ahead, but it will be a long road ahead getting there. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: 
And all our sins come back to haunt us in the end, to hang around, and tap us on the shoulder...

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(no subject) [Dec. 23rd, 2009|09:58 am]
John Taylor
It's better this way. Sometimes not saying anything's the only way to really help a situation.
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(no subject) [Sep. 30th, 2009|08:35 pm]
John Taylor
[music |The Lonely Island - I'm On A Boat]

Time to launch back into my writing with reckless abandon. The last few months have seen some very rapid development and change in my life and in my perception of the world, so I'll start with the basic framework of the last six months.

I'm working in Longmont at my job as an IT administrator in the long hours of the night, a job which has impacted my life profoundly in a number of ways; chief among them being my social life and also my understanding of large-scale business and has proven a font of new ideas. I don't believe I'll be able to bring many of them to fruition while working here, but it's been a great way to learn some of the things I needed to know and to rebuild my finances.

I worked again at my summer camp in Denver teaching Robotics, Programming, 3D Animation and Modeling, and Video Game Creation. I had a wonderful time, albeit one absolutely packed in virtually every single minute of the summer. I ended up losing twelve pounds and revitalizing my entrepreneurial spirit by being around so much productivity and out of the sedentary tendencies of my regular job. It was intense six-week dash to the first week of August though.

I'm making plans to visit a close friend of mine in Niger at the start of 2010 and looking to stay overseas for anywhere from 30-60 days, depending on finances. I'll be traveling all over the western part of the continent, hopefully getting to see the full spectrum of barren Saharan desert to dense rainforest. Should these plans fall through though, then I'm setting my sights for Argentina instead; Niger's something of a chore to get into and there's a good chance I'll be denied entry.

I took a nine day trip to Cozumel and spent the better part of a week building a killer tan, scuba-diving daily, and making out with dolphins (see Facebook for details). I did 15 dives in several different categories, qualifying me for certifications in advanced open water diving and cave diving. I am currently figuring out ways to convince friends to go with me on a diving trip next year, with the logistics nightmare of convincing sluggish unself-motivating people to get certified and book travel arrangements. But if you wish to be a part of the action, let me know! Scuba diving has rapidly become a very fun hobby for me and I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep up with it.

Colorado saw a number of visits from illustrious personages in the last few months, foremost among them my friends Phil and Damian. Phil has lived for the last year in Japan teaching English and has found a new home for himself there, and Damian is making waves as a biochemist in Davis, CA. It was great to see both of them, although too short. Visitations to their abodes are in order next time.

My readings and studies lately have sent my thinking in new directions recently, directions which will be addressed in the posts to follow this one. I haven't been as diligent in my reading as I would have liked, but I did put a few new titles under my belt, and was recommended a number of other good books to follow up with.

I'm currently getting back into project-mode and endeavoring to tackle a few new subjects that I've always wanted to. Tomorrow I'm taking a welding class, I'm doing some preliminary work with programming for cellphones, developing skills in a machine shop, increasing Spanish fluency, song-writing and improving on my guitar skills, and plotting a few business ventures for the next year.

And tomorrow marks the start of Haunted House season! Woo =)!
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(no subject) [Aug. 25th, 2009|07:28 pm]
John Taylor
Off to Africa, off to Africa! But where shall I go? I'm currently planning a trip out to that far-off continent in January to visit a friend in the African bush and get some hands-on experience for the Peace Corps lifestyle at its most poverty-stricken levels. This will be a most interesting time getting away from everyone and everything familiar and having nothing but my own wits to keep me out of trouble. It's been awhile since I've traveled abroad and certainly for not this kind of duration - I'm planning to be gone between 45-60 days!

Budgeting is an issue, but I'm aiming to have enough for about $40 per day on top of lodging and transportation costs. Since a significant portion of the trip will be spent in a village without much opportunity to spend money, this further increases the flexibility of my budget. Simply getting to Niger is the biggest bulk of the cost; a ticket runs about $1,500 round trip. Souvenir acquisition is going to be limited by my desire to haul things around with me, but I have no doubt I'll find some interesting relics along the way that will be worth the added weight and mass.

I've recently acquired a Lonely Planet guide book to all of Africa. Reading through it has me really excited to see all of the wonders. Having been to Kenya and Egypt, I've already gotten to experience the desert heat, the colossal monuments, and the vast herds of all manner of wild animals. However, where I'm going boasts those things (so repeats are in order!) as well as rainforests the likes of which most people have never before seen in their lives. So far I'm interested in taking another safari, doing a camel caravan through the Sahara, a river tour of the Niger river, visiting Timbuktu in Mali, visiting the voodoo markets, finding fossil and gem dealers, trying all of the local foods, possibly scuba-diving, seeing the throne made of human skulls (remnant of the slave trade empire), doing a hot air balloon ride, going to the game and wildlife preserves, doing a rainforest tour, the sky's the limit.

I'll be starting out in Niger, flying in to Niamey and staying there for several weeks in a small village of some 600 people southeast of the capital. After my visit there, I'll have all of Africa available for visiting - the full list being Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and Western Sahara.  The bolded countries are the ones slightly more accessible from my location without flying in to another hub on the continent; I could travel by bus or car for the most part between them. The prospect of visiting the southern tip of continent does intrigue me though, so a flight between hubs won't be ruled out.

Advice welcome! Suggestions encouraged! For those of you who have been there or want to go there, what would you do?

To Do List:

Apply for visas
Travel vaccinations
Packing list
Travel itinerary
Get regional maps
More systema
Find a good knife, water bottle filter, and mosquito netting

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(no subject) [Aug. 24th, 2009|11:28 pm]
John Taylor
Why my Firefox was running at 1gb of used memory:

Wikipedia Entries:
  New World Order
  Military-Industrial Complex
  Public choice theory
  Idea-expression divide
  Work for hire
  Manchineel tree
  Age of Discovery
  Nikolai Dante
  Laws of warfare
  Battle of Cannae
  Francis Drake
  DT Suzuki
  RICO Act
  Electronic Component
  Energy Storage
  Anti-ballistic missile
  Happiness economics
  Private investigator
  Instant camera
  Stop and Identify Statutes
  Baruch Spinoza
  Eastern Question
  Revolutions of 1848
  World War I
  Crimean War
  Ottoman Empire
  Current Source
  Heinrich Schliemann

Random Web Sites:
  Economic Price Theory
  Arduino processor
  ARM Assembly Language
  Recycling plants in Longmont
  How to weld aluminum
  How electro-magnets work
  Deep-cycle batteries
  Microcontroller power supply schematics
  Student traveling - making money abroad
  Lonely Planet - Benin
  Rockhounding Mt. Antero
  Meteorite Hunting in New Mexico
  News Article: How America's homeless stay wired
  Physics of Walking
  How A Car Transmission Works
  Bipedal Mathematics Algorithms
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