Thursday, June 28, 2012


Back in the mid 90s Stephanie and I attended shiatsu massage classes.  Both of us practiced it for a few years.  For me it started when a friend received a gift certificate for a shiatsu massage from her husband.  He worked with the wife of a practicing shiatsu massage therapist.  This therapist eventually turned into one of my mentors.  He talked me into taking classes.  I talked Stephanie into joining me on this strange journey.  This is her side of the story.

In 1994(ish), Kim and I decided that our calling of the day was to be Shiatsu therapists. I’d been working as a programmer / database architect for five years and was in the midst of my second mid-life crisis. I’d left the world of full time employment and was working temporary gigs as a consultant. The pay was insane (almost double what I made as a salaried employee), so I was able to take large chunks of time off to follow the Dead and Phish around the country and take week long Shiatsu workshops with the Ohashiatsu school of oriental massage in Evanston, Illinois.
Shiastu is different from regular, Swedish massage in a number of ways.  Firstly, the client is fully clothed and lies on a mat on the floor. Secondly, instead of trying to work out muscular knots, the goal is to manipulate energy (chi) in the body in the same way as acupuncture, on the same points (tsubos) on the same energy lines (meridians) in order to restore overall balance.  There is an entire philosophy of Eastern medicine which this type of massage follows, which makes the training that much more intensive.
At the beginning of our training, we went to a week-long workshop at Honeycreek, a camp in Wisconsin with cabins and a lake and a mess hall. The experience was magical and transformational, and we were hooked.  There’s nothing better than a shiatsu massage, and a non-stop week of it, even by novices, was heavy-duty.
The main gist of a session is to restore balance by releasing stagnant energy from meridians that are blocked (jitsu) and to increase the energy in meridians that are lacking (kyo). Each meridian relates to different internal organs which relate to various emotional excesses or deficiencies, so restoring balance is considered to be healing to both body and mind.
That week changed my whole energetic configuration. A major block in my yang wood meridian (gall bladder) was coaxed into releasing some of its control – and my overall outlook on life was just different afterward – similar to how I was changed by my first Grateful Dead concert.
I don’t necessarily believe in the whole theoretical model on which the practice of shiatsu is based, but I do agree with the need for models as a way of describing and distinguishing the framework for being. There are many models that were created to define the self  - like chakras, auras, and astrology – but I don’t think they are ‘Real’ because they are immeasurable and subject to individual interpretation.
 I see them as just tools, like a language, to help people get on the same page when discussing the subtleties of existence. It was uncanny, however, that the deep-seated pains and ailments in my body correlated directly with the personality traits of a jitsu wood element with a kyo earth element.
 It would be ridiculous to believe that five elements (water, fire, metal, wood, earth), which were chosen before the periodic table was invented, can define our state of being, just as the alignment of the planets at our birth could never generate a predestined personality - I am a Scorpio and my personality didn't change when when Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf influence on our solar system.
Question:  How many of you really identify with your astrological sign and feel it is an accurate representation of your character?  How many know your moon sign and rising sign - are these accurate as well?   
Sorry - I lost focus...this post is getting long - ask me more about my mid-life crises and my stint as a massage therapist / yoga instructor some time, and you will hear more about my thoughts on Shiatsu.  And ask me about the Echo of Life - remember that?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Negative Thoughts

Today I am wrestling with negative thoughts I am really starting to get on my own nerves. I cannot get anything accomplished today.  So I thought I'd get some advise or insight from Stephanie.  This is what she had to say...

OK – as far as negative thoughts go – it requires diligent work to abolish them, but it isn’t really that hard (as long as you are properly medicated - ** we can discuss the long-term effects of cannabis / hallucinogen usage later **). 
Every time you have a thought that isn’t positive, reprimand yourself like a parent would.  "Stand up straight, stop slouching, get your elbows off the table, get your hair out of your plate, look both ways, ..." The need to remind yourself never stops, but it does become less frequent. And eventually negative thoughts take you by surprise, because days or weeks have gone by without having one.
Every negative thought decreases your personal power and, when shared, can function as a psychic energy vacuum - causing the person listening to either try to make it all better, or to join you in your mental cesspool and feed your negativity, or to just tune you out (which is lonely for both of you).  I don't know of many people who can field the negativity of others like a skilled diplomat.
Until my first mushroom cap, I was hard and cynical - negative about everything - very righteous and condescending and intolerant. But after that night, I decided to unload the baggage that was weighing down my soul. The unloading process was unpredictable, sometimes slow - sometimes instantaneous, as was my ability to isolate and accept ownership of the baggage in the first place. 
My ability to wrestle down most of my negative thoughts is a fairly recent development - maybe only within the last few years.  When I first started to scold myself - maybe that's the wrong analogy - it's more like using the reins and your heels to keep a stubborn horse in line.  When I first started self-correcting, I'd sometimes have the same negative thought a hundred times in a day, and every time I would say 'Stop it, shut up already, you're annoying me, I thought I told you to shut up, ...'. 
It became funny after a while - 'wow, you're up to that again? what made you start saying that?' It became easy to isolate the event that triggered the flair up. But then, some new negative thought would enter into the picture under my radar - festering unnoticed until it ruptured into my attention.
I stuck with it, and the negative chatter eventually lost its hold. But in writing this, I am wondering if I need to take inventory of my thoughts to catch any evil lurkers that I may be missing....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Carlos Castaneda Part 1

I have read nearly all of Carlos's books and Steph has read them all a few times.  I've asked her to talk about their impact on her life.

How the Carlos Castanedas books affected my life (Part I – An Overview)

When I was 19, the summer before my Junior year of college, I went to Maui with my parents and came across the books ‘The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey’ by Taisha Abelar and ‘The Handbook for Higher Consciousness’ by Ken Keyes, Jr. After the trip, back at my parents’ house, I found Carlos Castanedas’s first book – ‘Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way ofKnowledge’ on my mom’s bookshelf. An interesting coincidence since I’d finished the book of his disciple, Taisha (she went by many other names I came to find out), a few days earlier on the plane.
The book interested me because its study of power plants (I was quite enamored with cannabis at the time), but I don’t think I was aware of the connection between Carlos and Taisha at the time. Carlos’s book was disappointingly dry and read like the doctoral dissertation in anthropology that it began as (or actually was – I’m not sure). The entire second half of the book listed research references and was even drier than the first half, in which he recounted his encounters with a Yaqui Indian sorcerer (Nagual) named Don Juan Matus. But, the concepts described in the book resonated in me deeply and plucked a cord of awareness that had been resting quietly, only virtually present, waiting for its opportunity to oscillate into existence.
A few months later, after an awkward break-up and a jarring motorcycle accident, I moved into the boarding house with you (Kimberly Jane Bennett), and my unraveling began. Let’s circle back to the details of that year in later questions – k?
Throughout my twenties, I proceeded to read all of the Carlos Castanedas books which were written as a layered tapestry of different teachings by his Toltec teachers, Don Juan and Don Genero, and the related ‘magical happenings’ that occurred. Carlos remembered these encounters with his naguals (masters of existential sorcery) as disjointed waves of perception that occurred over the same period of time, and he recounted his experiences in varying levels of detail in each subsequent book.
I am going to discuss these different teachings and levels of understanding in installments (most likely not consecutive). A summary of the basic concepts is listed below, all of which need to be performed in order to SEE and DREAM, which form the realm of the 2nd ATTENTION.
Losing Self Importance – The process of unraveling the ego – a necessary transformation to release the energy which binds us to our dense existence as a physical, socialized being with needs and expectations.
Controlled Folly – Performing an action with the utmost tenacity and intent in achieving a beneficial outcome, but not caring whether or not you are ultimately successful. Like play acting your life as an expert actor, with full knowledge that you are just a character.
Not Doing – Choosing to perform an action in a manner that is not consistent with your character. Or to do anything that is out of the ordinary in order to expand the boundaries of your established personality.
Erasing Personal History – The act of loosening your connection with elements of the past that served to define the filters of perception through which you view reality. It is the act of rebirth – the becoming of a new self with no prior baggage to define your identity.
Recapitulation – The process of cataloging the events of your past that you remember as “defining moments” in the development of your filters of perception, and then recounting them, in exhaustive detail, while performing specific movements and breathing techniques in order to release the strength of their lingering impact.
Petty Tyrants – They are psychic vampires - those people in your life that try your patience or attempt to dominate you by stealing your personal power.  These people should be viewed as gifts from the universe, opportunities to exercise your will and overcome their psychic vacuum.
Moving the Assemblage Point – Shifting your awareness away from the usual filters though which you view reality.
Power Plants – Plants (such as cannabis) which move the assemblage point without having to perform the exercises listed above – they should be used sparingly – only to shock you into realizing that it is possible to view your existence in different (less restrictive) ways.
Affirmations from the Universe – Signs from the universe begin to appear when your energy levels have reached the level necessary to notice these affirmations.  They are not messages, just cosmic inside jokes, similar to somebody saying ‘testify’ after you’ve said something particularly profound.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tell Us About Your First Dead Show

It was at the New World Music Theatre, Tinley Park, IL – Brent’s 2nd to last show.
Transformational is the best word to describe it. I saw the light and was converted to a faithful follower of the Church of the Dead. It was a magical day that stripped away many layers of deep seated angst and cynicism, rendering me as free and unencumbered as a child.
I’m sure the mushroom cap helped me to accept the reckless abandon that overtook me, but without the Dead’s special brand of music and community, I wouldn’t have had the cathartic experience that evolved my soul. I was forever changed.
A chapter in Scarlet Begonias (Qualia Spectarum) goes into more detail about my experience that night, but is told as if it were a memory of Rajesh Weinstein, the physicist who is attempting to isolate the International Prototype Kilogram’s missing mass.  Here is the snippet which tells of my Dead re-birth:
“So where’d you get the pen from?” Driscol whispered, not intending for his question to sever their communion with the Ouisa.
Rajesh resumed his search for the pen and returned the vial of Ouisa to its protective pouch without either of them realizing that, without even having to uncap the most recent incarnation of Mannie’s potent elixir, the is-ness had entered orbit around the vibrating pinnacle of the Noumenon.
 “No, I got it at that Grateful Dead show in Las Vegas the weekend when we met,” Rajesh said into his pack. “I don’t know why we got off on the wrong foot back then, but I’m glad you decided to stop hating me.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about all that,” Driscol paused mid-apology, and the eerie quiet of the stairwell seemed to tug at his mid-section. “I didn’t think you were going to the show. You said you weren’t into the Dead.”
“I wasn’t back then. I don’t think I could’ve recognized a single song of theirs besides Trucking and Casey Jones,” Rajesh said. “I had no intention of going when I went back to the roulette table in the morning to see how close you guys were to becoming hundred-aires.”
“I think we left a little before sunrise,” Driscol said. “Mannie decided to call it quits when I passed out under the table.”
 “The same croupier was working when I looked for you after breakfast,” Rajesh said. “He was surprised that Mannie’s scheme had worked better than he’d expected. But after we talked awhile, we both agreed that, even if Mannie’s idea was viable, he would have to play all day, every day for a month to make any headway on turning his winnings into anything substantial.”
“So how’d you get a ticket to the show?” Driscol asked, practically banging his head into Rajesh’s to aid in the search. “They sold out right after they went on sale.”
“Mannie gave the croupier a ticket to the show as a tip, probably when you were passed out,” Rajesh nudged him away. “But he couldn’t go and knew I was looking for you guys, so he asked me if I wanted to buy it. I said yes because I wanted to find out for myself why the Dead was able to draw hippies from all over the country to come see them play.”
“I can’t believe you actually went,” Driscol said. “Did you go alone?”
“I didn’t want to. I tried to find you and Mannie again in the casino when my conference ended to ask if I could tag along, but the lobby was a madhouse,” Rajesh said. “I didn’t decide to go until the last minute. The Dead-heads in the lobby were so excited, and then all of a sudden I was in a cab and the doorman was closing the door. I don’t even remember getting in it.”
“Well? What did you think?” Driscol asked. “Did you like it?”
“I loved it from the minute I climbed out of the cab,” Rajesh said. “It was like I was entering a whole other world I never knew existed. Going to that show was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I felt so at one with everything. It was like I wasn’t completely alive until that night.”
“That’s how everyone feels after their first time, except for the asshole intruders who tuck their shirts in too tight,” Driscol said, but realized his unintentional dig too late. “Oh shit, please tell me you didn’t have your shirt tucked in.”
“I did,” Rajesh said before Driscol seized the chance to bombard him with friendly insults, “But I didn’t leave that way, so don’t give me any grief about it.”
“So what got you to pull your shirt out of your pants?” Driscol asked, restraining himself from offending Rajesh the way he would have if he’d been with Mannie. “Were you getting it on in the back of a VW microbus with some hot hippy-chick?”
Rajesh played along and raised his eyebrows with suspenseful promise, but continued on with the disappointingly less titillating explanation of his fashion transformation.
“When the concert began, everyone around me stood up and started dancing like lunatics,” Rajesh said. “I felt so out of place at first just sitting there so I stood up, but I still felt like I was from outer space.”
“That’s because you are,” Driscol said, and all of the posters surrounding them seemed to contract in unified agreement.
Driscol looked at Rajesh to see if he’d experienced the strange telepathy also. Rajesh widened his eyes in silent confirmation, and they waited through an eventless moment of alert silence before Rajesh continued to recount the long-winded details of the untucking.
“The girl next to me stopped dancing and held her hand out to me like she wanted to shake my hand. It was so weird and out of the blue, I couldn’t imagine why she’d be doing that, but I shook it because I didn’t know what else to do.” Rajesh’s eyes darted around the surreal stairwell in anticipation of another telepathic episode. “Then she leaned over and asked me if I was all right and wanted to know why I was just standing still. She told me to loosen up and dance, but I didn’t want to dance. Everybody else looked like their bodies were supposed to move all wiggly like that, but all I could think about was how idiotic I’d look if I tried it.”
“But that’s the whole point.” Driscol’s emphatic response generated a jarring reverberation between the walls so he continued with a softer tone. “Nobody’s judging anybody at a Dead show. You’re supposed to look goofy. It should be a requirement to get in. You should’ve seen Suzi and Eve do one of their jimble dances.”
“I just felt like an outsider who didn’t belong,” Rajesh said. “But I wanted to dance. Everyone who was dancing seemed so happy. I wanted to be one of the happy people too, but my body wouldn’t let me.”
“I can’t be at a show and not dance,” Driscol said and noticed how uncomfortable he felt sitting stooped over on the hard stairs. He stood up and placed his hands on the stairs above him, sticking his behind out to form a partial downward-dog. The stretch released a flood of lurid images featuring Suzi striking a series of provocative yoga poses.
“My body starts to dance before the music even starts,” Driscol continued and leaned deeper into the stretch. “Sometimes I’ll even catch myself dancing when I’m not at a show, like somewhere in public where it would look pretty strange, especially since I look kind of strange already.”
He finished his stretch and picked up his guitar case. “So, did that dancing girl get you to loosen up?”
“She told me to take my shoes and socks off,” Rajesh said and followed Driscol down the stairs.
“My God, you were wearing socks?” Driscol stopped on the stairs in disbelief, turning to Rajesh to see if he was kidding.
“Don’t worry, I took them off,” Rajesh said. “She sprayed my feet with her spray bottle because it was still so hot outside. The water smelled like lavender and something else. I don’t know what it was, but it made me happy. It reminded me of the flowers growing behind my house in India, but spicier.”
“What happened after she moistened your naked feet?” Driscol nudged Rajesh as they walked past the deserted bar toward the stage. “Was she cute?”
“She was a big Mamma Cass looking hippy about forty-ish I guess, long hair, very earthy looking,” Rajesh recalled. “She was acting so silly that it made me laugh. She stood right in front of me and danced until I felt more stupid just standing there watching her than I would have if I’d just let myself dance, so I did, and it was amazing.”
“Rotund and middle-aged. Nice combo,” Driscol joked, “How amazing was it? Did she give you her room number?”
Rajesh took a second to think. “You know, it’s weird. Now that you mention it, she actually could have.”
“How could you not know?” Driscol asked. “Did she or didn’t she?”
“She asked if she could see my ticket stub,” Rajesh said, “and she handed it back to me along with the pen she wrote on it with. But a bunch of people knocked into me and I almost dropped them, and I didn’t want to stop dancing, so I just shoved them in my pocket without reading what she’d written. She hugged me real hard right before the song ended and then just danced away into the crowd.”

July 22nd, 1990
1.Box of Rain
2.Feel Like a Stranger
4.Beat It on Down the Line
5.West L.A. Fadeaway
6.When I Paint My Masterpiece
7.Far From Me
8.Tennessee Jed
9.Hell in a Bucket

10.Samson and Delilah
11.Hey Pocky Way
12.Estimated Prophet
13.Eyes of the World
15.The Wheel
16.Gimme Some Lovin' - (The Spencer Davis Group cover)
17.Stella Blue
18.Throwing Stones
19.Turn On Your Love Light
20.Knockin' On Heaven's Door
(Bob Dylan cover)

Friday, June 15, 2012

If I Had a Million Dollars

I asked Steph what she'd do with a million dollars.  I'd build a tree fort in our yard.  But this is what she'd do...

I’m not sure what I’d do with $1,000,000.  It’s not really all that much now a days.  Probably I’d be boring and pay off my debts, move into a smaller place, and then invest the money conservatively.

If I didn’t have a house or car payment, then the 5% interest on a million per year ($50,000) would be nice. If I could write and sell books, and Greg could sell music – we could be semi-retired.  It would be fun.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lucid Dreaming Part 2

I began my last post by saying that I’d only had limited success in lucid dreaming. I say that because I was never able to become ‘lucid’ enough in my dreams to control them. Or maybe I did control them, but   just couldn’t remember doing it the next morning. I’m not quite sure how to measure my level of success.
An interesting byproduct of my obsession to become lucid was that I developed a rich dreaming landscape. I can connect many disparate dreams together in this Dreamscape. And if I focus on one dream setting while I’m awake, I can easily remember all of the other dreams that somehow connect to it. Sometimes dreams that I hardly remember come rushing in to connect with another as if adding a piece to a never-ending puzzle.
I’m pretty sure that when I’m dreaming (just about to dream or coming out a dream???), I can tell if the dream that I’m having fits into any of the dream neighborhoods that have evolved already.  And sometimes a new dream can connect two dream settings that were never connected before.
It’s hard to know how much I’m aware of while dreaming, and how much of it gels into consciousness in the few seconds after I wake, before opening my eyes.
Another interesting byproduct of my obsession is a recurring dreaming object / portal. In the year that was recording my dreams every morning, oddly constructed toilets and bathrooms started to appear in my dreams with increasing frequency. I saw these outlandish commodes so often that I stopped using the Nova Dreamer and I silently stated my intention to recognize them as a dream signal every night before falling asleep.
And again, I have trouble gauging my level of success in recognizing them while actually dreaming since, when I wake up, I only remember that the toilets connect different dreams together, not how or if I consciously chose to…I never actually went into one of these malformed toilets, it was more that their presence ushered in a new dream, and I could remember that fact.
My dreamscape is not nearly as vivid as it was in the 1990’s.  I believe that it takes active tending, like a garden, to keep it thriving. It also requires that you sleep more than six hours per day.  I used to do my best dreaming after the 8 hour mark.  Now, it’s rare when I sleep that long. But writing this has made me curious – I’m going to buy a notebook and try recording a few dreams. Stay tuned…

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming was at one time a very important fascination for Stephanie and me.  She did a lot of work trying to achieve it.  Here are her thoughts on lucid dreaming.

Since reading the Carlos Castaneda series of books in the early 1990s, I’ve had bouts of obsessive interest in Lucid Dreaming, but was only able to achieve limited success. I went so far as to purchase a Nova Dreamer, a mask-like device that you wear when you sleep that detects rapid eye movement and issues a series of flashes and beeps to bring you to the brink of waking. The signals can be remembered as becoming part of your dreams after waking, but the challenge is to recognize the signals as “signals” while dreaming in order to trigger lucidity.
I kept a dream journal and a pencil under my pillow for about a year and recorded my dreams the second I woke up, with my eyes still closed, to try and write during the tail end of my dreams, before the details disappeared into thin air.
I wore a watch that beeped every hour, reminding me to look at my hands and ask myself if I was dreaming. I was training myself to ask without the prompt, so that maybe I would ask myself while dreaming, and answer yes, and then realize – wholly shit, I AM dreaming.
I did find my hands (about a handful of times J ) but the effort required to hold them up and look at them was like trying to multiply two three digit numbers in your head. The next step was to pay attention to the details of my dreams long enough to spot a portal to take me to the next dream, and pay attention to the details of that dream.
The funny thing was that I was able to the paying attention to dream details fairly easily - without looking at my hands first. It wasn’t until much later that I decided to forget the whole finding my hands thing, because I was wasting time trying to do it.
I heard somewhere that Mike Gordon from Phish could lucid dream, so I wrote him a letter to ask if he had any tips.  He wrote me back and told me to buy this specific book.  I did, but I don’t have it anymore, and I can’t remember the name or the author (she was a girl), or why (or even if) the book was good.
The fact that all of that is true, is a pretty good indication that it was a pivotal book, because lucid dreaming is tricky like that. It’s a fun mystery – a wild goose chase whose details always seem to go missing – and then reveal themselves in the strangest of places…
The answer to this question will have to be a multi-parter – more to follow later

Friday, June 8, 2012

What's Up with the Next Book?

I've been working like crazy to promote Scarlet Begonias - it's official publish date was 4/20/2012.  Marketing isn't my style though, so I think I'm going to outsource the task to professionals.
The new book will be a semi-sequel.  I'm going to keep many of the concepts from Scarlet Begonias, but the plot and all of the characters will be different, at least in the beginning of the book, I haven't decided yet.

These are the aspects that I'm going to carry over:
     The Dreamscape - Overlapping dimensions of simultaneous perception.
     The Noumenon - The nexis of omnicience at the center of the dreamscape.
     The Qualia Spectarum - The map which specifies perceptual coordinates within the Dreamscape.
     The Ouisa - An elixir for accelerated evolution.
     The Denjee - a device, similar to a set of acoustic mirrors which harnesses the infinitesimal drifting mass of the International Prototype Kilogram and focuses it into itself (like an orobourus) transforming it into infinite energy.  This focused energy doesn’t travel with a velocity (d/t) which approaches the speed of light, but instead, it vibrates and activates a specific coordinate on the evolution dream-map.  The coordinate represents a super-dimensional fold woven into the phase-cancelled, negatively-curved music of space-time.  The Denjee uses focused infinite energy to vibrate an imaginary frequency, deeply nestled within the phase-cancelled luminosity-time continuum, which tempers (or tunes) the universal music, birthing new perceptual overtones.  These new evolutionary overtones are transits into the specified perceptual dream-map coordinate.
     The Helping Friendly Book - A book of rules for unraveling the ego - a prerequisite for entering the dreamscape.
The plot will be a conspiracy-theory to hide the unpredictable nature of the Ouisa which has been hijacked by the Inter-dimensional Bureau of Weights and Measures.  Prime number patterns, pressurized vacuums (I'm still researching this concept), dark matter and Lorentz butterflies will play key roles in the story which will further explore the limitations of measurement.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I asked Steph what unique characteristics / quirks make her who she is.

Trivial Pursuit Question:
In what year was the 200,000,000 baby born in the United States.
Answer: 1967
It was me (and 4 others born at the same time). I had a full page spread in the December 1967 issue of Life magazine.

Physical quirks:
I have a strong aversion to metal. I can’t stand the smell and the sound it makes when it touches other metal. It makes me cringe, and my teeth hurt.  ME TOO!!!

I was a cigarette smoker for 20 years.  Now I’m not and can’t imagine ever liking it. It is an evil addiction.

I don’t like the smell of laundry detergent, fabric softener or flowery perfumes.  ME TOO!!!

Some part of my body is always in pain. I like to imagine what someone else would do if they hopped in my body for a minute. Would they be like “wholly shit, I’d freak out if my back felt like this all of the time”?

I have a hard time finding shoes and clothes that feel good.

I am controlling
I hate conflict
I am rational
I’m OK being wrong as long as the other person is right beyond a shadow of a doubt
I have a shitty memory

Who am I like?
If I were a Star Trek character, I’d be half Vulcan and half Betazoid.

More than 50 people have told me that I look like Darlene from the Rosanne show.

I want to figure it all out:
I want to discover the overlooked dimension that unifies relativity and quantum physics. I haven’t taken a physics class in over 20 years. You should ask me a question sometime about the things I want to know.

I want to figure out the pattern of the primes. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with complex numbers (ai + b), trigonometry and harmonic overtones.

I wonder if the pressure of a vacuum is variable.

I don’t get organized religion:
Why do Christians join the army? Would Jesus fight for freedom or would he go offer bread and wine to the unenlightened.

Why do sports teams have a group prayer before a big game?  Doesn’t it become a battle of faith, not skill then? Is it possible to pray harder than the other team?

What the heck do Jewish people believe? I can’t ever get a straight answer.  you being raised Jewish?

I was once in a Castaneda stalking group (kind of like a religion). I had a squabble with its leader, became disillusioned, and quit. I later found out that he was paying Cleargreen, Inc. to tell him what to say to the group.

I hated the religious part of yoga and had a hard time chanting to Hindu deities. But I sang Bach’s b-minor mass and Mozart’s Requiem in college and didn’t have a problem with it. Weird.

I am a certified yoga instructor. I trained at an ashram in India for four weeks.

I am two classes away from being a certified Shiatsu practitioner.
I have a rank of 1409 on (but I believe that 1200 is probably more accurate).

Monday, June 4, 2012

When You Grow Up?

Today's question for Stephanie is: What do you want to be when you grow up?  This is what she had to say on that one.

Wow, that’s a hard one!  I used to always think that the perfect life was just around the bend – if I just lived on a commune with hippies, then I’d be happy – if I didn’t have to work a 9-5 job, then I’d be happy – if I was a rock star, then I’d be happy – if I could just find my hands and reach Carlos Castaneda’s second attention, then I’d be happy  - if I could just run a recording studio out of my house, then I’d be happy – if I could teach yoga and be a shiatsu therapist, then I’d be happy – If I could just unravel my ego, then…
It seemed that whenever I moved in the direction of “around the bend”, the bend moved. So I learned to move toward these imagined bends of nirvana with a full understanding that they would always morph into another bend long before I could reach the original turn. I also realized that the distortion of each bend was directionally proportionate to the velocity of my approach.
So I’ve developed a side-winding method of movement, venturing ahead in a zig-zagging pattern so as to not disturb the fickle destinations which ensnare my attention. Whenever possible, I try to employ a personalized version of Don Juan and Don Genero’s “Controlled Folly” – To act with the utmost purpose during every action, but never caring about the ultimate outcome.
This change in perception has served me well in many aspects of my life, but I’m unwilling to apply the esoteric paradigm to my personal relationships. I imagine this type of detachment to feel like the way food tasted when I was on the Atkins Diet. (I don’t think this analogy will make sense unless you’ve experienced the sensation of cutting out ALL carbohydrates and only eaten fats and proteins for three months straight).
So, you ask – What do I want to be when I grow up?  And to that I reply, it doesn’t really matter as long as I have predilections and pursue them with both tenacity and whimsy, never at the expense of my personal relationships.   

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Social Media

Tell us about your online marketing and use of social media.

I am marketing challenged. If it wasn’t for Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, and the web in general, I have no idea how I would promote my book. I’d be forced to send hundreds of query letters and synopses to literary agents in hopes of getting signed.
That’s how I promoted my first book (for children), ‘Being Is Good’. I received 60 rejection letters before an agent (Parenting Press) showed interest. In my query letter, I made the mistake of mentioning the next ten books that I intended to write as part of a series. They were interested! (but in the entire series), and asked me to send them the first three books. Looking back, I can’t figure out why I never wrote the next two and contacted them again. Maybe I will now…
Anyway, I hated sending those letters, and hated the rejection mail even more. It takes one tough cookie to not be affected by sixty letters of disinterest. If I can’t pull of the marketing of Scarlet Begonias by myself, I’ll be forced to go that route again.  Except now the task has been made simple as pi by  They have the contact info for every agent in every genre and what kind of submissions they are looking for. You can make a custom list of agents, and keep notes, and track status, and even send your queries right from the site – it’s a dream come true…if that was my dream.
My dream is for the book to gain momentum by word of mouth.  If it is compelling enough, and high profile people give it good reviews, then interest will grow like some recursive virus, and the book will sell itself.  That is my dream.
So, who are these high profile people?  How do I get my book in their hands? How many friends do I need on Facebook before I dazzle one of them? Where should I advertise and how much should I spend? (I’m currently advertising on – top billing shared in rotation with nine other ads) The site averages 25,000 hits per month, so if 10% of those see my ad, then I’m reaching 2500/month.  If 9 of those 2500 (about 0.4 %) buy my book on Amazon, then I’ll be breaking even.  If they buy from my website,, then I’ll break even at 5 sales.
But, I created my site myself and it looks pretty rinky-dink.  Brian Markovitz (from has offered to re-vamp it for me, but the prospect is overwhelming to me. I’m not sure why.
I’ve been trying to get as many friends and page likes as possible on Facebook, but I don’t think I’m approaching it in the best way.  I need direction.  Should I make a group? Should my book be a page, how do I get my personal profile and book page in sync? How do I get my 300 friends to like my book page? If they like it, does that increase my chances that they will buy it?
Some people post like posting fools on Facebook. Is that what I need to do? Or should I be replying to other peoples’ posts on their pages? My admin page tells me how many people I am reaching and the percentage of virility each of my posts has. But I have to be operating as ‘Scarlet Begonias’ when I post, or else it doesn’t count.
I want two buttons on my facebook page. One to go to my scifisteph site and one to go to Amazon.  How do you do that? 
And I have no idea how to use twitter – at all!  Somebody please explain why it is better than Facebook.
Any and all marketing advice is welcome – please post on