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2011.01.06 spiritual diary


I’ve been meditating an hour a day for roughly the last 6 months, I think I haven’t missed a day. It has become more and more important to me, and things have been qualitatively changing, although ironically, there are still plenty of days where my mind is totally scattered and all over for the full hour.

The first hour today was normal – some moments of clarity, some thinking and loss of time. I’ve been thinking a decent amount about upping the time each day, so after the normal hour I lay there for a while meditating, probably another 45 minutes. It’s funny how I still go back and forth thinking that is the best use of my time and a waste of it, as if I should be doing something else…

Anyway, about 10 minutes into the next section something was triggered. I still don’t understand it very well, but it’s similar to some other things that have been happening intermittently, and lasted only about 15 seconds (or so it seemed). I wish I had a brainwave monitor on at the time…

I first saw what seemed to be some of these basic proto-shapes in my visual field; it looked kind of like a triangular kaleidoscope, silver triangle at the end with green side walls; of course my brain was making it into some pattern; but as i let those random fluctuations form into something crisper and crisper, it also became clearer and clearer that I was not them, I was purely witnessing from far away. And as has happened before, basically in some near-instant something snapped, and I felt remarkably far away from my visual field, and all of my tactile sensations started to resonate wildly.

I felt myself growing bigger and bigger while at the same time remaining completely bounded [the way the surface of a sphere can maintain both?] and every skin sensor was off the charts, basically the boundary of my body felt as if it was dissolving. But not like I would have normally predicted — more like, the sensations got stronger and stronger almost like when your foot is asleep and it’s waking up how those prickly feelings tend to feel less spatially exact. So, just like that, as these sensations became more and more strong, the boundary became harder and harder to detect. To remember that all of those sensations really are just electrical signals, that the brain puts together into a spatial representation due to its usefulness, is very difficult, but also seems to explain how some of this might happen, as a mental process of getting to the lower and lower perceptual systems to slowly remap the way they function together.

2010.12.31 The Release into Weightlessness


Javier took Danielle and I for a flight in a tiny Sesna three-seater. I’ve never been in such a tiny plane; you can really feel every tilt and roll of the plane body as if its an extension of your own. If you had nerves about this sort of thing you’d probably throw up before taking off. It was a serious blast.

He knows his stuff; there was never any sense of real worry. Once we were stabilized (and after I got to actually fly the plane for a while!), he showed us some of the maneuvers he and this plane could handle. One of the most amazing was entering a stall — a sudden and qualitative shift in the wings ability to generate lift. Typically, a sufficient air speed creates a laminar flow of air over the wing, but in certain conditions (like sufficiently reduced speed), the flow becomes turbulent over the wing, and suddenly the wing generates no lift. You certainly feel it immediately.

But it’s the zero-G dives that make this specifically noteworthy. (more…)

Links at the moment. 2010.12.15 10:44pm


If you’re anything like me you end up with all these unread tabs all the time, and they represent a really interesting cross-section of your life at the moment. Here’s mine right now:

Wikipedia – Thomas Hardy Novels

Wikipedia – A Wrinkle in Time

Wyclef Jean – Gone Till November

Simple Science

Shaheen Sadeghi – The Great Cultural Shift (TED Talk)

Seymour Pappert closing keynote 1994

Inside Teaching

Wikipedia – Language of Thought

“How creativity is blocked by the need for approval”

Fecal Bacteriotherapy — mind blowing!

Brain and Cognitive Science classes list at MIT

Arts for Learning

Netflix – A Touch of Greatness (documentary about teacher Albert Cullum)

Radiolab – Words that Change the World — highly recommended listen.

Robert Sapolsky on The UniqueNess of Humans — totally unbelievable.

Maybe it’s boring? I dunno, I’d be curious to see how other people’s cluster… it would be cool to have a thing in the world that looks for other people who have similar contextual clusters and hooks you up with them, that seems pretty easy to do.. I’d love to randomly meet more people working on cognitive science, perception, consciousness, etc, all the time.

I have been thinking about generally just posting more as my thoughts and experience developed. I’ve been keeping a private journal but I see no reason to keep things to myself; if interested, people will read/write/etc.. if not it’s all good. If I don’t put it out there I can’t get feedback.

Best- Jeff

2010.10.05 Conversacube on display in NYC this weekend


Hi all – My girlfriend Lauren is showing a piece called Conversacube as part of the Conflux Festival. If you are interested, come by and check it out on saturday! Here’s the blurb:

Don’t know the right thing to say? Stumbling over
words? Do away with uncomfortable conversation.
Conversacube is a conversation aid device that will
prompt you what to say and do and guide everyone
toward smooth, comfortable conversation every time.

Saturday, October 9
3-4pm Union Park
4-6pm Yaffa Cafe, 97 St. Marks Place
(follow @conversacube for location updates!)

Make every conversation a comfortable one!

Make every conversation a comfortable one!

I will update this site…


… one day! I came back recently from a 10-day Vipassana retreat which was an amazing experience, but one that has kept me generally speaking less and trying to be more. I received a nice letter from someone with a Nisargadatta site, so figured I’d send the link to anyone interested:

Hope all are well. To leave you with my favorite Nisargadatta quote: “When I see I am nothing, that is wisdom. When I see I am everything, that is love. Between these two, my life flows.”

2010.02.16 spiritual diary


Just had a great weekend with Lauren in town. Wanted to get a few things out that have been happening.

I’m seeing presence more ubiquitously through my experiences. I notice many times a day now where I notice that I’m noticing, where I become aware. It usually lasts for half a second before a thought takes over and fills that void, but it’s a major shift nonetheless. It has made external factors have much less of an ability to affect me in ways I don’t want them to.

I’m noticing my dreams have become more vivid and more memorable upon waking. For the last three days I have awoken with almost complete memory of the dream. I only remember the one from this morning now though, of course:

- This morning I read a tiny bit of ‘I Am That’ by Nisargadatta Maharaj, after dropping Lauren at the airport, and then went back to bed for two hours. I had a vivid dream of going into a small town in India, living there, searching for Nisargadatta, not finding him but staying in a very small town in India and finding peace there. For some reason I remember fixing the sink in the apartment in which I was staying, and seeing a bunch of fruit stands with tons of bananas.

Lastly, I keep noticing that when I get into a higher state of clarity during meditation, this small white or black spot seems to appear in my vision. It doesn’t resolve itself into anything, and if I actively try to think about it it disappears readily, but if I just allow my field of vision to be present with the breath, it seems to evolve.

Brad Mehldau in Boston Sanders Theatre


Just got back from seeing Brad Mehldau in Sanders Theatre in Boston.

I am looking outside a cave, waiting for the next predator to come about, feeling the anxiety of a kill 10,000 years ago from our ancestors; only to realize that he’s covering a neil young song.

I am listening to variations on a theme by Brahms, only to wake up to the fact that the themes are on Nirvana.

This man knows how to enter the moment.

New Gloobic Music Video! Here the Nothing


We just finished a timelapse dance/music video
called Here the Nothing.

What does that mean, you ask?

It is the first in a series of studies
in sound and movement.

Eric & Jeff
AKA gloobic

pale blue dot

Seen from 4 billion miles away; this tiny speck of light, this pale blue dot, is our planet Earth

Seen from 4 billion miles away; this tiny speck of light seen in the middle of the right band, this pale blue dot, is our planet Earth

in case you haven’t ever read this, or seen it. From Carl Sagan:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

We miss you Carl.

a lighter bulb


About five years ago, I made a sculture called ‘light bulb’ – a wirelessly powered, levitating lightbulb. Check the video for details.

When Gill Pratt came onto Time Warp for us to study electromagnetic induction, an assistant friend of his came by, Adam who works at DEKA. He told me in an offhand comment, ‘you made the lightbulb, right? Oh cool, we made one of those at DEKA for Dean Kamen as a birthday gift.’ Whaa?

So, after communicating back and forth for quite some time about being able to see it, I was able to visit DEKA and check it out; what I saw blew my mind. About 12 of these extremely talented designers and engineers had spent several months building one of these things. The scale is pretty magnificent, as shown below. It’s basically the same concept as mine, but with the added resources they built a custom [no straight edges!] wood frame, better wireless power transmission efficiency [a brighter bulb], and even a cleaner and more stable levitating bulb. Some pictures linked – ridiculous right?

Ridiculous, right?

Ridiculous, right?

I am currently in talks with them about continuing development on this project – the goal is still [as it has been for quite some time] to release an open-source kit-able version of this project. People will be able to buy a built version, or an unbuilt version, to learn more about how it works – there are some real engineering challenges however [many parts, high complexity, some high voltages that you need to know what you’re doing with, etc] – so it’s slow going. So for now, here’s this!

I want to thank all the folks at DEKA for the honor of having a piece made like this [not that it’s for me!] – and here’s to hoping that in the spirit of learning and giving to others we can figure out a way to get these things into the public.

The amazing engineers and designers at DEKA who worked on this.

The amazing engineers and designers at DEKA who worked on this.