Meditation

Meditation

One butterfly passes by, drifting upon the wind.
Two beautiful wings – colorful things – stir dust up from the sand.
Three ants march forth – rank and filed, of course – with unhatched eggs above.
Four budding blooms and five new-born ‘shrooms have intrigued a hatchling dove.

Six stones in a pile haven’t moved in a while, but they look as though they may fall.
Seven bees buzz around the flowers on the ground, collecting pollen from them all.
Eight minutes of peace is all that I need to calm my stress, and then
Nine minutes past, I see that I have found a small moment of zen.

The Fringes of Reality

Reality coalesces as an amorphous glob of events –
Quite uncertain of its intent to seize a definite form.

Relevance pulls the maleable clump to settle upon a context,
And the fringes – though still reality – lose all sense of veracity.

Where did the truth go?

Without context, a true statement may fall unknown,
For is it not perspective that lends familiarity to the context?

How do we grow to know another without first being present?
But with the knowledge of another, what was once true may prove false.

Nothing is written in stone.

On the dawn of a new day, memory may refute history
As a new reality is ushered in by a newly-forged perspective.

The old reality does not crumble, but slips to the edge,
Allowing a new truth to decimate its predecessor with context.

The fringes of reality fray.

The Lion’s Pride

The Lion’s Pride

There’s a reason that I call my mates my pride.
It’s an honor that we all maintain inside,
Should anyone of us get into fight,
You can bet your ass we all have you in sight.

I will fight for the survival of my mates,
For I can’t tell how cruel tomorrow’s fates
Might be to myself, leaving me misery,
Without a mate to help with my victory.

We tumble as young cubs in the  desert heat,
Training for future dangers that we may meet.
We train together – disregarding genders,
For mothers hunt while dads are our defenders.

 

Wrath of the Blue Dragon

Day One

Harry wasn’t exactly a particularly intelligent pigeon. In fact, one might even say that he was a bit challenged. His buddies were always trying to look out for Harry, but he would frequently slip off to try to find food in some dangerous area. He did this so frequently, in fact, that it wasn’t terribly long before Harry had developed something of a recurring dilemma.

Nearly every morning, as Nina and Frank would fly up to the top ledge of the big, white, limestone structure to rest after breakfast, Harry would fly through the bigger valley between the white structure and the similar-but-smaller, red-square structure to see if he could find even more food. Harry really enjoyed searching for food in the multi-layered caverns and the small valleys where the large, blue collect-all boxes sat. Most importantly, the reflective squares that adorned the various tall, rectangular structures played with Harry’s sense of direction. Too many times, he had flown into one, thinking that he was flying into a cave, but instead found himself crashing into another bird.

One location that seemed to captivate Harry’s interest while searching for food was the multi-layered cavern. It was a beautiful cavern with large, flat caves that opened up as the floor wound upwards and around the central wall. As each layer of the cavern wound around the center, the floor rose higher as well. The outside walls of the cavern were open, with each floor being held aloft by large pillars. It would have been easy enough for Harry to fly into the cavern through these openings, but sometimes he enjoyed flying in from the ground and then soaring his way up through the floors.

Not long after he first searched the multi-layered cavern, he began encountering a frightening beast. At once, Harry knew that the large, box-shaped creature was the dragon who lived within the cavern. At first, Harry was excited that he had discovered a blue dragon, but that excitement was quickly washed away as fear filled its vacancy.

As Harry scoured the floor for any signs of orphaned food, he heard a horrific squelch echoing from the lower layer. He quickly turned his head to spy the origin of the sound, and was at once petrified. Harry’s eyes fixated upon the large, round, black legs of the armored monster. Each of the shoulder and hip joints were well-plated with a reflective, metal plate. As the beast’s squelch echoed through the cavern, its large, glowing, white eyes glared toward Harry as the dragon charged him. Harry stood trembling with debilitating fear as his tiny bird feet seemed to adhere firmly to the concrete below him. He tried to move away from the dragon’s path, but failed to find the will to do so.

Almost as quickly as the titan had rushed upon Harry, it had ground steeply to a slow crawl upon reaching striking distance. Harry’s legs and body had begun to shake so violently, that his head wobbled wildly. A small, white dropping plopped down onto the concrete below. The foul beast abruptly let out a fear-striking squawk, and as though consciousness itself were removed in order for his survival instincts to engage, Harry immediately lost sense of his immediate dangers, and found himself flapping his wings violently as he soared quickly through the air so he could to return to the safety of his friends.

Day Two

Frank spent most of the morning teasing Harry about his “dragon” from the previous day. Harry was growing quite frustrated because he couldn’t convince Frank to believe him. Nina could even be heard giggling at him whenever Frank would tease him. She denied it, of course, claiming it was a nervous coo, but Harry knew better.

Frank and Nina flew up to the top ledge of the limestone structure, as they did nearly every morning before. And as he did nearly every morning before, Harry decided to fly off through the valleys on his own in search of more food. Unlike most other mornings, however, he had grown too afraid to fly near the multi-layered cavern.

Trying to keep his mind off of the horrific, blue beast with the low, rumbling growl, Harry found himself flying as randomly as possible through the grid-work valleys. Thinking he had spied a particularly tasty crumb of biscuit near a blue collect-all, Harry swooped down into a short valley and toward a junction into another longer one, where the blue collect-all was resting.

Harry landed firmly upon his needly legs and began to approach the biscuit crumb. Though he couldn’t read, Harry immediately recognized the familiar shape of the barely-distinguishable “rl’s Jr” design blazoned upon the crumpled paper beside the crumb. Harry fixed his eye keenly upon the buttery morsel and took a final hop toward its flavorful aroma. As he inched closer to the inviting bite, a nimble starling made ample use of the opportunity to fly in from behind Harry, and snatch up the abandoned bit before he could get to it.

Harry cooed sternly in dismay at the small, blue-black speck as it disappeared into the rectangular valleys. He looked back toward the blue collect-all, hoping to find a reasonable replacement for his appropriated loot. Flying up to the edge of its open top, Harry peered down into the empty bin, and gave a disappointed coo – which promptly echoed around the empty collect-all, and cooed disappointingly back at Harry. The startled pigeon flew away without taking note of his location or direction.

Once again, landing firmly upon his spindly legs, Harry looked cautiously at his surroundings. He couldn’t shake the familiar vibe he felt. He began to investigate the flat, open cavern, but his eye was immediately captivated by the sight of a discarded doughnut missing a single bite. Without hesitation, he flew toward the open ground of the cavern floor.

The sweet taste of the sugar-glazed confectionery made the aimless adventure worth the loss of the buttery morsel of breakfast biscuit commandeered previously by the thieving starling. Harry pecked eagerly at the sweetened dough-ring, but his delight was alarmingly cut short by the low, familiar growl of the great monster that haunted his dreams the previous night. Harry turned around quickly to take sight of his surroundings. He saw nothing as he stood there, panting. His heart pounded against the inner walls of his chest. He seemed to be safe.

The high-pitched shriek immediately interrupted Harry’s return to his second breakfast as the blue, metal dragon rumbled around the corner. Again it rushed quickly up to Harry, leaving him petrified in his current position beside a freshly-tossed doughnut. The blue beast growled angrily as it approached. Again, as though leaving a calling card to alert any near-by fellow fowl of his fear, Harry left a single, white dropping beside the neglected bakery delight, and flew off toward the familiar limestone structure towering over the shorter, red-square tower next to the multi-layered caverns. He flew to safety as his heart raced faster and faster in his tiny chest.

Day Three

Harry had no question that Nina was teasing him just as much as Frank. The two were practically cooing ridiculing quips back and forth all morning.  Harry had even begun to beg them – either of them – both of them – to fly with him into the multi-layered caverns, but all either would do is try to come up with a more ridiculous joke. Harry flew away cooing something about the blue dragon, and left Nina and Frank to finish scavenging the busy valley for food. Nina darted between two herds of stampeding humans grab a morsel that caught her eye. She spat it out, realizing that it was a discarded cigarette.

Frank, who was always ready to give a good ribbing, made certain to let Nina know he had noticed her misfortune. Nina, an equally good sport about delivering some friendly snark, retaliated appropriately and leaped vigorously into the air. Frank had been too busy cooing maniacally at his comrade to see her take flight. Upon realization of his solitude, he quickly scanned the valley, and noticed his AWOL companion lighting gently upon the top rim of a cylindrical collect-all.

Upon discovering little more than some discarded biscuits and day-old refuse, Nina and Frank decided that it was time to rest upon the ledge and watch the activity in the valley below. As they had done nearly every morning prior, the mocking mates perched themselves atop their ledge and exchanged condescending coos about the movements of the herds of people below. It had been a fairly normal morning, until Frank realized that Harry hadn’t returned from exploring the other valleys.

Concerned about their placated pigeon pal, the two bully-buddy birds dove from their perch and descended into the valleys toward the multi-layered caverns. Nina led the flight into a short, narrow valley that ran between the caverns and the red-square structure. As she entered the narrow valley, she noticed a large, blue collect-all sitting along the outside wall of the multi-layered caverns. She swooped down toward the bin, and perched elegantly upon its upper rim.

Frank, having joined Nina atop the blue bin, hopped his way to the far side of the collect-all, and began scanning the area for Harry. Nina cooed out into the valley with concern, her heart rate slowly began to increase. She cooed again, listening as the tenor rumble echoed through the multi-layered cavern. Both she and Frank turned their attention toward the layered openings. Frank, whose eye had caught a glimpse of a discarded doughnut, jumped from the ledge of the blue bin, and glided delicately down to the lower cavern floor.

Nina, who touched down less gracefully than Frank, hopped over to the tossed torus. Frank cooed conspicuously at the single white dropping next to the doughnut, and then spied a ledge at the center of the cavern, where he might see up to the next level. Without warning, Frank took flight toward the inner wall, and cooed back invitingly to Nina. Nina pecked a pieces of the stale sweet bread, and then thrust her light-as-air body toward her fowl friend. Upon landing bedside Frank, she spat the crunchy crumb to the ground.

Frank and Nina sat perched inside the opening between the two levels of the cavern. Nina cooed solemnly as she watched the side of the blue, armored beast slam against its own body with a horrific burst of sound. The beast roared as it moved away from Harry’s lifeless carcass. Frank watched in horror as a plume of smoke bellowed out of the underside of the dragon, and rolled out from behind it, lifting into the air, and then dissipating. The dragon, apparently sufficiently satisfied with its kill, disappeared into the upper levels of the cavern, leaving Nina and Frank to mourn the loss of their friend.

Self-Educated College Graduates?

From Dehli, India, Dr. Sugata Mitra has been studying the concepts of minimally-invasive education for over 10 years.  In 1999, Dr. Mitra formed the “Hole-in-the-Wall” experiment.  Afterward, he began designing Self-Organized Learning Environments, which are currently used in a pilot study program through Newcastle University where he has recently taken on the role of Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education in the Communication and Language Sciences department.  So what could the results of this study determine?  What could the results mean for the U.S. economy?

In 1999, Dr. Mitra began the Hole-in-the-Wall experiment in Delhi (for details, see the Hole-in-the-Wall project on YouTube.com).  After several experiments, Dr. Mitra began to form multiple hypotheses based upon the data he learned.  The most interesting to him was about how children have a natural interest in learning.  After further studies, Dr. Mitra came to the realization that there is relatively little restriction on the capacity for a child to learn without adult direction.  Today, Dr. Mitra is operating under a grant from Newcastle University in London, UK to further study this concept using Self-Organized Learning Environments.

Within these S.O.L.E. clusters are 3 computers arranged in a 3-point center of a circle.  Enclosing this circle are three glass walls, forming 3 learning chambers, each separated from the other two by a glass wall.  These environments are currently in use to support over 300,000 students in poor areas throughout India and South Africa.  This study has shown an equal, if not higher, capacity for the children to learn without direct supervision by a teacher.

This is all wonderful for the education of children.  The idea is most likely a nightmare for those in the education careers.  The truth is that if this type of system were implemented successfully, the quality of teachers stands to increase since only the best teachers should be employed.  But before I get ahead of myself, let’s focus on the only truth in this story: This is still just a study.  The efficiency of this type of education has already been proven.  In order to take advantage of this system and ensure our participation in the future as a leading country, the US will need to create a similar structure in the near future.

The education rate for high school graduates in India is currently around 50%.  India accounts for roughly 16% of the world’s population.  The rate of 4-year college graduates from India currently rests around 20% of high school graduates, or only 10% of their population.  Many of these people are in competition with the US for jobs.  If these self-organized systems were distributed more broadly, India’s high school education rate would stand to increase as high as 80-90%.  This would be enough to start significant economic growth, allowing for the rate of college graduates to rise to around 25-35%.  This is 25-35% of all high school graduates, which means around 30% of the population of India would have a degree equal to or above a Bachelor’s degree.  The economy would continue to increase, allowing the secondary and post-secondary education rates to rise.  The result could potentially mean that as many as 25-30% of the entire Indian population could be in competition with the US for jobs.  When a country’s economy is this high, many jobs that do not require a presence within a particular ecological environment are moved into that country.  This could mean that a considerable portion of US jobs could be moved to India without the need for work visas.

If the US expects to be able to maintain a strong presence as a major player in the future world, we must make equal efforts to improve the quality of our education quickly.

What’s In a Friend?

After watching a YouTube clip of the Reverend T. D. Jakes talk about the three fundamental personality types with which a person cooperates in a life time, I decided to go find more information about this.  While this post isn’t one of a religious theme, the message given by Reverend Jakes was as much scientifically interesting as it was religiously.  According to Reverend Jakes, a person will encounter and cooperate with three basic personality types, which he described as Confidants, Constituents, and Comrades.

A Confidant is a person to whom you can tell any piece of information without fear of damaging the relationship.  In general terms of friendship, it is from this personality type that we find our best friends.  These are the people who you know you can trust with any secret.  These are the people who you may only get a chance to see a few times each year, but somehow you never seem to grow apart.  In terms of romance, this personality type is where the rare person finds their soul mate.

A Constituent is a person who believes in the same things you believe in.  A person in this category may not believe in everything you believe in, but largely, you share the same beliefs.  These people make good friends.  In most cases, it is from this type of personality that we settle for a life mate.  I use the word settle, not because I believe that people genuinely make a conscious decision to settle for less than they may otherwise find, but because, in most cases, people aren’t lucky enough to find or recognize that rare Confidant who is the best possible match for them.  A few coworkers might fall into this classification of personality.

A Comrade is someone who will fight beside you or work with you to achieve a common goal or solve a common problem.  Once that task has been completed, these people will typically leave your side.  These people almost never make acceptable mates and only nominally better friends.  In many respects, many coworkers probably fall into this category.

According to sociology, there are generally five attributes we use to make friends: Proximity, Association, Similarity, Reciprocal Liking, and Physical Attractiveness.  Because proximity is rather obvious and fundamental, I will not be addressing this attribute.  Because physical attractiveness suggests a shallow personality, I will also be omitting this attribute.

When someone shares some generic problem with you, the two of you share an association.  You may work together with this person toward solving that problem.  When that problem has been solved, you are no longer associated, and may therefore part ways without any serious emotional damage.  These people are your Comrades.

When someone shares several common problems with you, only a handful of common interests, but you both have personalities that the other likes, you have a reciprocal liking.  These people make good general friends, but aren’t commonly close friends.

When someone shares an interest with you, the two of you are both associated and similar in that interest.  Because an interest is typically more grounded than a problem might be, you may call upon these people more frequently than someone with whom you only share a common problem.  These people are your Constituents.  It is from this group that your close friends are chosen.

The Confidants spoken about by Reverend Jakes are more difficult to identify through psychological means, but I believe Jakes gave the best method for determining who these people are.  “When you step into a room and give good news,” he said, “stop being happy for a moment and take note of everyone else’s reactions.  If no one is happy for you, shut your mouth, turn around, and walk out of the room, because they aren’t your confidants.”  According to Jakes, a confidant will cry with you when you cry.  A confidant will laugh with you with you laugh.  And a confidant will always be there when you need them.  A confidant will love you unconditionally.  It is from this group that you make your best friends and soul mates.

Finding a Dream Job (Part 5)

Some colleges provide classes concerned with the creation and maintenance of portfolios.  Information technology courses encourage the use of a portfolios.  Whether you work with computer software code, web pages, digital photography, digital art, or anything else that can be represented visually, aurally, or textually, a portfolio can help boost your job search.

Whenever an architect is considered to design a building, the clients review the architect’s portfolio to get an idea of his previous work.  The portfolio may not contain everything that has been designed by the architect, only a manageable set of examples that showcase the abilities of the architect.  Naturally, the portfolio usually contains the set of examples that also showcases the best work of the architect, as well.

When my dad made his living by building fireplace mantles and staircases, he carried around a small flip-album with photos of some of the more intricately designed work.  As time went on, this flip-album became instrumental as a promotional piece.  People might have wanted a simple, painted mantle with some shadow-box work, but after reviewing the flip-album, they might choose an intricate, stained mantle with flutes and dentil detail.

Websites may be seen as a form of interactive portfolio.  Suppose you were wanting to find a career in journalism.  With no experience in the field, a blog would be an ideal platform for your portfolio.  While you might not get paid for your articles, it provides you with practice and amateur experience.  A blog would also make an acceptable portfolio platform for authors, technical writers, and various other scientific careers in which technical and scientific notes are found useful by peers.

There are dozens of photography templates for websites floating around.  A simple Flash or Silverlight slide show would be a wonderful portfolio.  If digital art is also an interest, then a slide show of photos that have been processed through Photoshop or Gimp might make a nice addition.  You might categorize your photos by occasion, setting, or technique.  If you are looking to get into photo journalism, you might consider a blog format where you write a short article concerning your subject and then add the applicable photos.

Portfolios are useful tools when trying to move into a career field.  The most beneficial portfolios will be those that can showcase your talent, skill level, and creativity (if applicable).  Remember that anything that you can demonstrate visually (i.e. photographs, digital art, paintings, video blog, etc), aurally (i.e. audio blogs, music, etc), or textually (i.e. articles, prose, poetry, etc) may be showcased in a portfolio.  While preparing for an interview, be sure you have a hard-copy format of your portfolio.  For textual entries, this simply means that you print your work.  For aural entries, you might consider using an iPod with a small set of external speakers.  Pictures can easily be printed, but for video elements, a smart phone or PED that has video capability might be sufficient.

If you have audio or video elements in your portfolio, do not hijack the interview and demo your entire portfolio without asking first. Interviews are designed to be driven from one side.  Your job in an interview is to answer questions and find opportunities to throw pieces of information out whenever you can.  If a piece of information is interesting enough, the interviewer(s) will ask for more details.  Your portfolio will be most useful as a support mechanism.  When the interviewer asks a question that relates to a visual element within your portfolio, you may use that element as a demonstration.  This will be more helpful than an elaborate vocal description.  If the interviewer asks about the content of your portfolio or invites you to share any additional information – this usually comes at the end of the interview – then you may explain that you have video or audio elements in your portfolio and ask if they are interested in and have enough time to consider a short demonstration – try to keep your audio and video segments to under 1 minute each, if possible.

Creating a portfolio is an ongoing process.  As you build your portfolio with samples of your work, you will eventually need to maintain it.  You may want to rotate old, lower-quality works out of the portfolio to make room for newer, higher-quality works.  When you maintain your portfolio on a website, you might want to consider reviewing your older works periodically and re-evaluate the usefulness of that work.  As you sort through and remove works from your portfolio, remember that a portfolio is one place where quantity matters more than quality.  To put that statement into perspective, when creating a portfolio, your first focus should be upon quantity of content.  Once your quantity has risen to a manageable level, you may replace works with those of higher quality without worrying about sacrificing quantity.

For more information regarding portfolios, you may perform a quick search on the Internet or check out eHow’s article related to architecture portfolio ideas.