Friday, December 2, 2011

To BoT Or Not To RoBoT?

Complex, intricate, innovative, and dynamic are a few words often used in the futile attempt to describe the vast horizons of mankind's advancements. These steps forward made by the humanoid species, are not only riddled all throughout history, but are persistently driving onward with every tick of today's clock. In exponential fashion the rate of technologies growth presently is befuddling. For some, this exploding age of technological leaps forward is imperative for upgrading life on Earth, so that it's capable of maintaining the sky-rocketing humanoid population. Others may urge, humans must tone down the broad range of valuable resources expended in developing faster, stronger, smarter, technology, and turn those efforts toward the populace's assertion of the delicate web spanning between the human species and Mother Earth. How fast do we need our computers really? How small do we need our fully loaded, multi-networking phones? To many people, technology has gone far enough to satisfy the needs of the present public, as for others, like addicts they cry out for faster, more RAM, day after day. If a person buys a computer and returns two years later, their mid-range computer will be sitting on the bottom shelf costing half as much and as an obsolete, discontinued model. Is that not fast enough? Who knows, next it will be on the bottom shelf and above it will sit the upgraded,  new, shiny,  model, except this model will feature legs, arms, and it's eerie resemblance of the someone from who sat next to you in math class at your high school.
There is a concrete barricade between the techno-development side and those who stand strongly against it. Also, a few people have scaled this wall of arguments without compromise and try and balance on it's narrow top, seeing both sides, negative and positive. These seem the most sound in debate, for there are undeniable positive attributes of technology in society. Contraire to this there is also negative aspects. Overall, the louder voice seeming to be heard and perpetuating further technology is that it's ultimately argued as being good for people's from the many corners of the globe. Yet, questions that have risen concerning possible negative results of technology's abundant presence, and there are many, point fingers right at, and yet the ball continues rolling and growing in size.
Tracing back through human history and analyzing the many creases within the timeline, the folds that bear reason for their corresponding marks show a pattern of slow then gentle climb up to about a straight up ascent symbolizing man's development of technology and it's exponential growth. Through examination and learning about past and current conditions of mankind as caused by the use of technology, man can take findings from this and pre-meditate future consequences or outcomes of what the current momentum in technology for humans will take all of mankind sometime. Knowledge of these potentialities can help in action to stop the chance of technology going too far before it's too late.
Unfortunately though, concerns involving critical issues yields few results, and the miniscule effort placed forth by humanoids is that of cold molasses slowly creeping forward, it's almost to slow to see, but with a sped up recording you can be reassured of it's progression forward. Furthermore, the cold molasses rolls sluggishly downhill, not up to higher levels, but down. Just as does human efforts in preserving human life in the future on the only planet humans have, poor neglected Earth. It shows that increasing the RAM of laptops, or connectivity and 4G networking takes precedence over fixing barbaric actions committed thus far, and is far greater a priority than preserving the Earth as a safe place for the children of today to thrive in the future, and their children's children, and so on.
Barriers blockading progression to man's preservation are raised by human's ignorance of what has happened as evidence of what will potentially happen. Continued lack of assertion amongst the human species will only be detrimental and inhibit any attempt to stop this group-think quicksand. There have been dramatic events due to man's racing for the newest technology and these innovations damages reverberate still today.
As the first fold reveals the tragic events that played out early August, 1945. Respectfully let no person forget the tragedy when the United States Air Force dropped the first, and only thus far, Atomic Bomb killing countless innocents instantly on Japanese soil. Shamefully the effects are seen in numerous infants and youth still today. Side effects such as leukemia, physical deformation, and more inhumane illness's and ailments rampantly spread throughout their society. Debate over the precise reasoning of president Truman giving the green light on  such a heinous act of war is argued by some. What really matters no matter what the reason was, is that this happened at all. Reminded to me in my History 1700 class, taught by Professor McCleod, The Manhattan Project designed, and built the bomb along with others. Project Manhattan formed due to a technological "race" between the U.S. and Germany, for the United States feared the Nazi's had harnessed and built a bomb utilizing atomic technology. However, the Nazi's had no atomic bombs, technology, and were nowhere near obtaining it. Some refute blaming technology being the cause, and stand placing responsibility on the World War II 's needing to be ended. Sensibly placed against all other standpoints is the notion widely felt that no person, let alone an entire nation should suffer such tragedies, and all in the name of technological races of warring super-powers.
Further evidence of technology and it's effects on society brought forth a topic of evidential and profound realizations of specifically the consequences of this techno-developing age on the youth of today. These youthful human beings are deserving of much more, and let us not forget the eventual leaders of our planet. Posed then is a question in considering the effects on the youth. When you were a child, where did you spend most play-time? Also, Do you notice as many children playing outside, hiking, biking, and hanging from tree limbs like little nutcase monkeys full of energy? Is there as many as what you remember even ten years ago? Many say that kids are safer indoors where watching them is much easier than outdoors. However there has been an increase in health problems of today's youth. Issues such as heart conditions, social disorders, and cases of diabetes has been raising graph lines with frightening numbers. Factors responsible for this are numerous, but there is a direct correlation between the gaming phenomena and the degrading health of the children. Others may challenge this by blaming the numerous other contributing factors, not including gaming on the health problems of youth. They may furthermore present the notion of games increasing mental strength through problem solving scenarios within games. Refuting this by asserting that there are many factors leading to the youths negative health, however one cannot leave gaming out, for there is not physical gain in sitting two to four feet from a screen for hours a day every day and week after week. For problems there is no way to learn reality other than to experience it. Games are designed for unpredictability, but nothing matches the inability to premeditate what reality will bring next and what variables will be contained within in.
There is one issue at hand, and the point is that youth are degrading in health, and losing innate skills that need to be fostered and developed or are lost and these skills have been the soul strength of mankind's success sush as, critical thinking skills or reasoning and logic. Daniel Ramsey, a self-proclaimed expert gamer, plethora of knowledge on robotic issues, and well versed advocate for the use of technology and robots to great extent argues:

 " [ robots in society would allow for] time to do what it is we choose to. The use of robots, and especially ones with A.I. capabilities, would free people up from tedious everyday tasks. Taking the trash out, doing dishes, vacuuming, cooking, they all take away time from people's days. But with free-time, people would think, free-minds could spin new ideas, advancements be made, and all would be smiles" (interview).

His support is that of the notion that technology isn't decreasing critical thinking skills, He's in support according to this quote that problem and critical thinking skills is being improved with the increase in technology in society. He further is in full support of robotic use and A.I., or Artificial Intelligence, use within society. This is the next and actually current step in technology. This notion of using free-time to think, and this would lead to man's progression. All due to robots doing what is needed to free mankinds time up is not boding well. We see what free-time is filled with by many as looking at a screen and playing video games, and this is not only youth but adults as well. This as being a common view is what must be addressed. The critical assertion unto the peoples all over the world must know what is developing this very minute. There is a Serious issue that I've found as being hidden from the public eyes, social robotic integration is real and little knowledge of this issue is spread amongst the common people of the globe.  The scenario we are in right now is not one with simple answers, and to add to the intricacy of this "social robotic" issue no committees, political groups, or organizations have been developed to monitor the fast pace robotic world within our own. Furthermore, those who do think or consider robotic integration have this pretty picture of a robot doing laundry, dishes, or taking the trash out. However, by placing a synthetic replica of the human brain into a cold metal machine and allowing them to walk and talk among humans is a dangerous and unpredictable move. Essentially we would have to assimilate these artificial humans. Furthermore, there's no denying the unpredictability of man, now try and replicate it and see the unpredictability grow exponentially. This would be due to the plasticity of the human mind. The accuracy of replicating the human brain would be next to impossible to rely on as being predictable in any fashion. Many argue that these machines can be controlled, fail-safes can be used to stop any behavioral mal-functions. Yet, with the cognitive capabilities such as humans there can be no guarantee of control. Just like the gift of reasoning and logic in mankind has produced those who utilize and abuse these gifts for evil acts, such as violence, stealing, killing, even bodily violations. The laws of cause and affect would support the notion that robots with human replicated cognition A.I. would be capable of the same evil driven forces on their actions they justify through reasoning and logic in the wrong ways.
Robotic units will soon be as common as vacuum cleaners in American homes, or patrolling police units in urban streets. Furthermore, and most befuddling, is the very thought presented to me in a discussion between me and a fellow intellectual peer, Aspen Stoddard theorized that there is potential for these robots that are thinking, learning, developing like the humans who created them, to become a new species in essence. Aspen's idea threw my mind for a triple loop. These robots with A.I. would not be the same as those generations of robots that came before. They would be gifted the same, or as close to as possible, cognitive ability of the human brain. This synthetic mental installment is what we call A.I., also known in full terms as Artificial Intelligence. In replicating the human brain, and it's distinctly different abilities as compared to other animals, there must be a selection of traits that are found in man, unique to man, and what seperates man from beast. These traits would include reasoning, logic, creativity, and self-expression. The reason for these thinking robots, would be for their ability to self-operate. This would eliminate any need for a human counterpart to be behind the controls of these A.I. robots. To add to this human-like thinking ability, most  of these robots figures from head to toe would be a resemblance of the human figure.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           If A.I. were to become fully integrated with robots also being integrated into society the human race would then face a new issue other than interspecies communication and interaction problems, this would be an issue between humans and personified machines, androids, rogues, or at the base robots. Although the use of robots is making leaps and bounds in astonishing forms throughout society across the globe. We have yet to develop A.I. Although there are some basic rudimentary A.I. programs being developed none of these even come close to the capacity retained within the humanoid brain. Dendrites, touched dendrites, touched dendrites, and wham, a connection. After researching deeper i discovered that there are already scientific attempts being made to identify what characteristics will dictate a robot as being a robot as compared to a living human being. This study that was performed  was called, "The New Ontological Category Hypothesis In Human Robot Interaction.” The scientist introduced a control group of children to a personified robot and then asked if they could tell or to what degree they thought he was alive. Most, roughly eighty-five percent, new he wasn't alive, but when he was locked away in a closet against his (the robots) will, they sympathized for him, some even cried upon seeing and hearing the robot resist. These children built a moral or emotional connection to him while knowing he was not living as others live and breathe (web). There is something eerie about a personified structure that can talk, learn, and walk like humans. This study was to design a structure of attributes needed to classify robots as their own species or classification rather.
Many problems come to mind while pondering and researching this topic of robotic units being implemented into human civilizations worldwide.  However, the one that propels the imperative necessity to assert all humans in all parts of the planet, is the notion of artificial intelligence, or A.I..  As defined in The Oxford New Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, "artificial intelligence is the application of computers to areas normally regarded as requiring human intelligence" The question then is, how appropriate is it to mimic the complexity of the human brain, for the purpose of installing  human cognition into a synthetic being? What kind of consequences could arise or result from A.I.? Where would our human species sit on the hierarchal ladder of dominant species? Would we be surpassed by these ultimately intelligent machines?
When approaching fellow humanoids on this notion for my survey I received many responses like, "are you serious?, Your kidding right?, or even, "You're just a crazy kook! Did you know that, a kook!"  I did also hear a lot of, "I had no idea, This is really going on isn't it?", or, " I never really thought about it but....." These reactions on the topic was further evident of how it is shadowed, cloaked, or hidden from the general public (survey).  The issue of socially integrated robotic units is real, and will at some point or another play a role in most, if not all, peoples lives. More importantly the notion of A.I., or Artificial Intelligence, could mark the beginning of the end for our race. A.I. is far from a beneficial upgrade in robots so humans can achieve even a higher level of convenience in their lives. Most people recognize the notion of A.I. as one that has robots doing their dishes, grocery shopping for them, and taking their kids to the pool for them; However, the dark side of A.I. lingers close by and goes unnoticed, it's not drawn out enough in the consideration of many people while they ponder the idea of having thinking, reasoning, artificially intellectual counterparts as robots in our society. This very ignorance of seeing and weighing both sides of an issue could lead our planet and the inhabitance of the Human race down a dead end road. Extinction, enslavement, loss of planetary control, destruction of our planet, or Earth's ability to sustain a incubating environment for life to prosper, and all out planetary mutiny are some of the big scares that could potentially be rendered through the use and implementation of A.I.
Now the discussion of Militaristic use of technology is as pertinent as ever
Popular Science Magazine signals current use and future use of robots by asserting In one year in Iraq, the U.S. military commissioned a startling 20,000 robots, both remote controlled and independent units. Within the next fifteen years our military leaders and government officials wish to have about one-third of it's land units as unmanned units. These plans are the begginings of what someday will be a fully independently operating robotic army. A robotic airplane, tank, hummer, foot-soldier, boat, submarine, unmanned army. Army officials are well aware of the potential dangers of having self-operating machines walking around with machine guns and bazookas, and military authorities are concerned with losing control of these units. Basically, they are afraid of not being able to override the independent nature of the robotic units if the get out of control in behavior and endanger human lives(print). Notions of robotic armies are feared by many, and until rules and guidelines are set for the worlds nations to follow, it seems foolish to build then deploy robotic units into combat.


    The same Popular Science article further depicts this chilling account as was taken from the words of military personnel. Earlier this year a self operated blackhawk helicopter took off from a base in Maryland. It was running an experimental and hypothetical mission that was planned to stay within a short distance of the base. Take-off went well and everything was fluidly moving as according to plans, when with complete random and befuddling  action, the helicopter made a direct contradictory move. Going in the most contrary direction the helicopter started off on it's own mission with it's own prerogative. What was it's prerogative? Officials say they were incapable of  determining the reasons for this and probably never will, but one thing is for sure, it wasn't moving in the desired manner according to it's programmed mission command. Instead this helicopter, which wasn't actually armed but thought it was fully armed, made an almost straight line for the nations capital. Scared, and caught completely off guard the officials watching this as it happened called out a squadron of jet-fighters to eliminate the helicopter if it traveled within a threatening distance of the capital. Just as the helicopter reached within a mile from the White House the team in charge of the helicopter gained control again and turned the unpredictable robotic chopper around and brought it back to base. This incidence was a serious scare for the military. It raised some very important questions that needed answering. Like, how did it act out so quickly and unexpectedly? Why did it seem to immedialty act with a knowledge and determination of what it wanted to do? Where did this ability come from to perform against what it was programmed to do? Why was it so defended against overriding and remote control from the military team? Lastly but not least, why was the chopper headed straight for the White House, and what would have happened if it were actually full armed. These military leaders speaking on this mysterious choppers action were very reassuring that they keep close control and abort plans at attention, yet the incident showed the vulnerability of humans in relying on these machines predictability. Reading about this event scared me beyond belief, and it's just the beginning of this robot versus human debacle.
Yes, undeniably robots can lend a long list of benefits in our lives. Positive effects like remote controlled robotic units being operated by surgeons for surgery. It would be assuring to know just before you go under the knife in an operation, that the hand holding the knife won't be shaking like a person's might, and knows when there's an error in the surgeons move so it corrects for many human mistakes  Another benefit could be aiding elderly members of society, and more astonishingly, robots could even be used as "hypothetical crash test dummies," states Randy Mathisen, he then describes what is difficult to deny as sensible use for robots, using robotic units for scenarios potentially encountered by law enforcement or military personal and being able to utilize lifelike variables like live ammunition, the accuracy of the results could go up with no loss of life and greater knowledge of how to handle those situations. Another benefit is presented by Popular Science Magazine asserting to public readers, "militaristic actions that otherwise would use a number of enlisted soldiers can be carried out with extreme precision by remote controlled robotic air units, ground units, and seafaring units,  both examples resulting in next to flawless results of mission execution with little to no loss of friendly life."(61)  But aside from these examples, as well as numerous others that supports the use of robots and A.I., an opposing view points out that handing over the ability to dictate and justify actions to a synthetic mind is far to unpredictable, and it could potentially cause the downfall of mankind or life as we know it. An additional excerpt from the same article was made by Noel Sharkely, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield in England:

"We are surprisingly far along in this radical reordering of the military's ranks[replacing soldiers with robotic units], yet neither the U.S. nor any other country has fashioned anything like a robot doctrine or even a clear policy on military machines. As quickly as
countries build these systems, they want to deploy them"(61).

Mankind as a species is notably unique in that humans have the characteristic of reasoning, logic, self-consciousness, and free-thinking. So why would we decide to demean that sweet cognitive ability to think and reason , finite and only  for humans, and place it within a robot?  Simply for the convenience of lessening our own demands of everyday life is not enough of a reason to risk our existence for.  Beyond this, the idea that there would be excessive control over such robot units for anything to ever get out of control is a mere gamble of placing faith in the hands of those building and monitoring these robotic units. However, if the gamble is lost then, so too life would be lost.
Robots walking amongst us, thinking like us, talking like us, laughing, jumping, yelling like us. Not a good idea or is it? What benefits could be obtained are undeniable, however we must leave these machines with heads and electronic brains to handle and be used for functional tasks. Not in a manner to replace humanoids. What good is our uniqueness compared to other species if we do not use it as much and rely on machines rather than ourselves. How unique would we be if we gave our unique cognitive traits away to a metal, wired, rigid machine?   Potentially the notion of hard work done by robots could be what sources even lazier individuals

Austen, Ben. "The Terminator Scenario." Popular Science. Jan. 2011: 58-66. Print

Aylett, Ruth. Robots: Bringing Intelligent Machines To Life? Barron’s Educational Series. 2002. Print. 

Kahn, Peter H., Aimee L. Richtert, Heather E. Gary, et al. “The New Ontological Category Hypothesis In Human Robot Interaction.” July 11, 2003: 159-160. Web. Oct. 23,2011

Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. Penguin Group.2010. Print.

Mathisen, Randy. “High School History Teacher.” Phone Interview. Oct. 12, 2011.

Mathisen, Spencer. “Planetary Mutiny, But Not By The Living.” Survey. Oct.14-20, 2011.

Parcella, Rena. “Could Robots Takeover The World?” Popular Science. 

Daniel, Ramsey, “Self-Educated Robotic and Computer Specialist.” Phone Interview. Oct. 14, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

B-Bop Down With Robot

    Wow, I was mistaken. I fell for the fallacious habit of generalization, after my survey circulated throughout as many examination of the gathered data I realized realizing it shames me. I had this stamp idea of who it was that made-up this countries citizenship. My results brought  me to a new level of thinking, the kind of thinking that i feel is needed more everyday.
    First, I discovered and was surprised that far greater number of people are more open to the notion of technology arousing problems within our communities than I had expected. However, location played a strikingly strong role in this very question. More liberal areas generally were slightly to extremely afraid of our next move. The next move is simple, we're going to start seeing ROBOTS in our midst. They'll be bopping across the cross walks, zipping down the path. I am afraid, robots amongst us? Where does that put us? Participants of my survey seemed to be mixed. Admittedly and often said in support of the little shiny R-Bots is that they got it all handled. Already, a robot walks through the produce section helping an elderly lady in need. This moment I'm typing, little shiny guy could be doing my laundry, dishes, and vacuuming all at one time. Yes, in support of the little evil tin cans with batteries, they can multitask, like the talking vacuum thing on the Jetsons, they could help. Up till we throw A.I. in the mix. That will be the end of man-kinds unique ability to reason. They will learn with Artificial Intelligence. Develop faster, retain more information, and need no resources hardly.
 There's many theories, ideas, and opinions on this subject and to see both the good and bad paints a nice level playing field for the Bots. So beware the Robot could be right behind you

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Virtual kidnapping of youth

What has happened to our youth? While cruising my two-wheeled, leg-driven self-propelled transportational device, AKA Bicycle, around I grow increasingly perplexed by the mystery of where the children have gone. Have you seen any lately? While occasional kids can be tracked down running through the hills, fewer are sighted out and about as each day passes. No good old "stick-ball games" bein' played, that's baseball for ya youngens, or wild-lookin,wolf-raised, mountain-goat-rock-hoppin, Indiana-Jonesin , little-beboppin kids jettin along the hillsides posing as Rambo.
    My proposed answer to this mystery, is that the exponential increase of gaming systems has resulted in todays youth planting themselves two or so feet from the television screen to play video games, rather than spending their play-time among the trees and infinite realm of nature. Furthermore, the ever growing cases of health problems, specifically diabetes and obesity, that recently has began plauging our younger humans is directly related  to the immense increase of stationary hours spent gaming, instead of running, jumping, ducking, and climbing, causing healthy heart beats they could potentially be thumping, if their choice was to play outside in the crisp, fresh air.
Beginning my investigation, a number of interviews was imperative in my collection of data. My first interviewee was chosen not because of documented credentials, but for his deep and passionate involvement in gaming in his own life. Daniel Ramsey is an extremely intelligent man, with consistent above- average academic test-scores, and a high level of literacy, or being very well read, he seemed an appropriate person for a look of the gaming world.
Starting off, Mr. Ramsey claimed there is a high level of intelligence required in a number of games. His  belief is that scenarios presented to an individual playing certain games demanded a lot of, critical thinking to complete the quest, or task that the gamer faced. I found this an interesting concept and was intrigued, so I dug deeper. I found that cognitive demands in games can be found easily, but how would a person experienced in dealing with these virtual problems be able to cope with the testing trials of reality. Mr. Ramsey supported his standpoint by explaining that repetition of these virtual situations led to an instinctive reaction in the gamers real life problems.
Mr. Ramsey presented some excellent insight into the benefits that could be gained from gaming; However, I still had serious problems related to the gaming implementation into our youths lives, specifically social and health issues.

Stay tuned for a further dig into the gaming worlds good and bad affects of our youth.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Empty-Gaze Full-Minded Place

                                                      Part One: Empty-Gaze Full-Minded Place
Do you know that you can be in two places concurrently? It’s true, there’s a place, secret, private, infinite place that’s within the minds of mankind. This is my favorite of all places. While in the physical world, my body resides, my mind can then zoom to another place of free thought. Do you know of this place that is yours alone? Have you ever been “here” but not really “here”? Or been asked, “Hello, Earth to … anybody home?” You were probably in your place. The beauty of my place is how free I feel, my mind victoriously races, possibilities are endless, and my soul is liberated while there. To title it, I’ll call it my empty-gaze, full-minded place. Do you get where your place is yet? As a fort is to a playing child, this free state of mind is to all persons individually. In this place anything goes, all barriers of reality crumble, no hindrances can ambush you. While in my empty-gaze full-minded place my trains of thoughts chug down limitless, twisting tracks. I grab inspired thoughts tightly with extended dendritic arms to drag them back into reality. Finite reality hurts me, my heart throbs and my brain aches; However, I can drift into my mental real, escaping into my empty-gaze and full-minded place. Where’s your place of freedom from reality?

                                                    Part Two:Problems with Answers
But lurking demonic thieves hidden in shadows, wait to steal the free-thinking of aging youth, and replace it with rigid, socially conformed ways of thinking. The lost cognitive drifting, and out-of-the-box thinking is what needs to be changed. We must protect the cognitive place that’s unique in the minds of all mankind. Socially, there are degrading terms that have been attached to this mental vacation like detached, distant, aloof, cut-off, or spaced. These terms show how unacceptable this way of escaping reality, even for a moment, is in our world today. To help protect our cognitive, unique places we must visit them. Don’t allow the heavily laden arm of social pressure tighten it’s grip on who you are, and we are what’s in our mind. Exemplify your place, be individualistic, think freely, stare into empty space occasionally, let your mind wander and share what you find. Do these things and you and your place will prosper. Don’t do this and you’ll develop robotic tendencies, programmed in ways of thinking, dressing, talking, following fads, or seeking the next rung of the social hierarchal ladder. Don’t be a robot and slap the hand of social pressure away, escape reality once in a while and be inside you, follow your mind.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mother Earth.... Who?

It was good to be home again. I hadn’t seen my home or my parents for almost four years. Like I had never left, I was jolted awake my first morning back by my dad’s relentless, out of tune, attempt at singing. His bellowing voice was beyond welcoming, actually it was downright torture. Springing from bed like a drunkin ninja and stumbling out of my old room I staggered past my pops and yelped, “Going for a run, hour or so!,” Hopping desperately toward the back door, I slid on my new trail running shoes and was off. Outside, oh I love it, I feel light and free. I’m further awakened with every breath of fresh air as I warmed my legs up with a steady cadence. I knew just where to go, the canyon. Three falls canyon is what most Hurricane, Utah residents call it, Gould’s Wash for those over seventy, but for me and my motley crew, we simply called it the canyon. Picking up my pace I closed in on my re-union with the memory bearing gouge in Earths Crust, ah the canyon. As I reached the cul-de-sac where the synthetic, man-made world ended and the wondrous world of nature began, I halt. No, my legs never stop. Like the drumming bunny commercial, they keep going and going, but stop? Where’s the trail? What used to be a bustling dirt highway for pumping legs of kids, teens, and rarely seen adults, was now an overgrown, snake-like cut in the overgrowth. It was obvious that the trail was either forgotten by it’s youthful travelers, or most the kids had disappeared. Just then a song echoed between my ears. It was Peter, Paul, and Mary singing, “Where have all the children gone?….” With my arms spread wide, face skyward, I sang along while swaying back and forth jostling the trees alive while I let it go, “Where have all the children gone?”

The lack of nature’s gifts and powers being explored, learned, loved, used, and respected, by our youth has become a rising epidemic. Upcoming generations are going to fill the seats of our current leaders, and what they learn today, in their youth, will echo as the deciding factors in which today’s youth runs our nation in our near future. Often, in our current times, elders lack the attitude of impressing the importance of our natural world upon the youth; Furthermore, the youth don’t receive enough encouragement to go outside, and experience nature’s humbling gifts while playing. However, I feel as though society can win this crucial, but overlooked, battle with and for our youths future and our own. One household at a time we can instill the awareness, joy, and benefits of nature into our youth’s minds. Commonly it is thought our youth are safer indoors than out; however, typically and directly related to the physical inactivity of this idea of it being safer for our youth inside, are life-threatening health risks. Health risks such as diabetes, heart issues, obesity, and a multitude of other life-taking threats are increasing in our youth, many of which have not been found in individuals at such young ages untill the last decade or so. Sure, the food industry can be part to blame, but that along with an inactive lifestyles of today, creates a devastating recipe for the young lives at hand. Furthermore, some might argue that playing in the outdoors has many associated health hazards, but trading a broken arm or collar bone for heart disease is an easy trade to make. Not only is health an issue, but spending an inordinate amount of time inside creates a dependency for our children, they have little need to adapt, or develop self-reliance that the outdoor playground can deliver. Nature offers a playground that fosters physical exercise, mental awareness, and the growth of imagination and creativity. Personally, the scales tip in favor of the youth playing outside, rather than sitting inside. Indoor activities temper detachment from social settings as well. Directly linked to the increase of indoors being used for play, is the advancement and rapid growth of the gaming industry. The numbers are staggering and continue climbing upwards in mind-boggling fashion. From the number of households with gaming systems to the number of hours played on average per child, it’s an obvious problem. It’s one thing to have a gaming system, I’m not condemning them, but to not put restrictions on the youth and allow them to have free reign of how much time they blast away with a gaming paddle in their hands is not the proper way to foster a brighter future for the youth, ourselves and the planet we call home, planet Earth. A large portion of these games that our youth are glued to are said to be entertaining. Entertaining? A likely story, many games promote unimaginable scenarios, typically be allowed to even watch on a movie. Hours can be spent by youth sitting in front of a television while relying on an electronic current that’s running through wires and circuit boards contained within a plastic box letting it be creative for them. This is a serious problem for these indoor-playing youth, eliminating imagination, real-world problem solving, independent thought, and most of all, their development of critical thinking skills at an early age. Moreover, this brain consuming entertainment steals the opportunity of experiencing nature from youth who innocently fall victim to these mind binding traps of technology, and builds a barrier between the kids and nature. They grow up lacking the priceless days of wind, tree-climbing, hiking, and the infinite adventures like climbing Everest or fighting evil villains on top of sky-scrapers, inches away from falling to the concrete streets, which was conjured up by their free-minds.

The answer? Encourage and participate actively in developing respect and awareness of what nature has to offer. Act as a guide for the youth, and when they’re ready, cut them loose. Take them on hikes, to the lake, even better, take them camping. Showing not only what they can get personally from the necessary world of nature, but also that nature is to be respected. We are nature, just merely another animal meandering around on earth, and to be honest, the human species is has been getting and increasingly is getting out of control. We must pass the imperative knowledge of where we live, planet Earth, and the fact that we share this spinning rock with countless other species. If our youth forgetscausing the downfall of other parts of Earths delicate house of cards, then it will be the end of our existence.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tricycle, Psych, It's a Bike!

My heart’s pumping with fury. Pounding, my legs thrust down, musclesl contracting, and then they smoothly roll back up, retracting. My hamstrings throb with a burning sensation as they continue on in fluid motion, contracting then retracting. Booming and swelling with each breath, my lungs reach out demanding the precious air, so they can deliver it to my coursing blood, and from there it’s carried on to fuel my striving muscles. Up is how I carry my head. Like a bubble my neck blew, it’s about to pop with the pressure. Fighting, struggling, and determined, I spin the wheels of my bicycle uphill against the unseen, but definitely felt, force of gravity. What a beautiful machine, the bicycle.
Bicycles are composed of a frame, two wheels, handlebars for steering, and a saddle, or seat. Let’s not forget the little guys, components, or more simply put, the small, chrome, moving-part-thingy’s. Components shimmer shift the gears from easier to harder, and brake, stopping both the bike and it’s passenger, the rider. Components are a seemingly endless world in the cycling industry, with many performance levels ranging from heavy, durable, and economical in cost, on up to the lightest, smoothest, and heart-stopping priced components.
Ever since metal tubing, rubber, and wheels were united to create the wondrous bicycle, cycling has exploded in all ways. Playing a large role in both our societies health and recreational activity; furthermore, it can be found almost everywhere on the world map. The industry is inflating exponentially with the countless empty wallets of people who wandered into bike shops across the globe. Cycling is exhilarating, challenging, fun, healthy and thrusts a persons confidence into the weightless clouds, and those are just a few reasons for the addictiveness of riding a bicycle. With lower weights, smiles, and the re-connection with the child inside of people, cycling continues to grow.
Working as a lifestyle consultant, or salesman, in bike shops for about three years, I encountered a vast horizon of folks with different needs or desires in a bike. The cycling community is vast; from pro to novice racers, road to mountain bikers, or those who ride both, life-stylists, recreational riders, and people trying to lose weight, just to name a few groups. Recreational riders can be seen rolling around town as they spin down bike paths and streets just kickin’ back on their cruise; meanwhile, mountain-bike racers zip up and down mountains in a mere day, and the skinny-tire road racers jet alongside cars and swiftly dive through turns at blood rushing angles and speeds. Life-stylists have no license, they buy no gas, for anywhere they go they’re rolling their bike. It’s as if their bike becomes like an organ, or an appendage, that’s necessary in maintaining their heartbeat. They live to fight their ongoing battle against the four-wheeled-motorized-monsters, or vehicles, they bump shoulders with on the streets. Also, there’s the “coffee shop cyclist” as I call them, these posers ride a whole three blocks to drink coffee, and hoping they get noticed as hard-core riders who rode hours through the hills and sun on their bikes.
Cycling changes the lives of people all over the planet. From obsessive racers to grinning cruisers the sport is captivating and loved by many. Health is benefited, smiles are worn, and life improves with the spinning wheels and twisting handlebars of riding bikes. The invention of the bicycle made cyclists, and cyclists have drawn in demands for a vast array of different bikes. Each style of bike having it’s own community of those who ride it. From a riders smile of victory, to frowns from a loss, and tears of a turn gone wrong, cycling pulls emotions out of those who fall in love with the sport.
Curious? Look into the beauty of the machine known to us as a bicycle. Stroll, drive, take a bus, or hitchhike if you need to, however you have to get to the nearest bike shop, do it. Trust me, and the countless other people who have placed cycling into their lives, or even their soul, you won’t regret it. At your bike shop, ride a few bikes, find a solid salesman, even better, a life-style consultant and ask questions. Give cycling a chance and I’m sure you’ll discover an entire world beyond the one you know now. This world revolves around a simple machine, the bicycle.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jumping Souls and Running minds: For They are Free to BE

        With no creative sparks volting through my entangled dendritic highways, I'm  a lost human who sits, stares, and I begin to lose track of who I think I am personally. I' start to feel trapped and with no release there's no saying what might happen. I finally drag my limp body to a door, turn the knob, and boom. An explosion in my bain goes off everytime I walk into my art studio. The studio has this power over me I'll let it's power pull me as I slip into my detached zone. As though I'm not even here on this very planet I start to dig into myself and pull every bit of me out that I can ending in art, doing so in my distanced councious level, and with the real world beyond the door. In end the product of this is not the external product, my art peices, but a greater personal awareness of me, who I am, or what makes me I.
All this is possible by me knowing and being in my favorite place, my art studio. This is a place of free thinking and true self-expression, here I can break away from the shackles of comformity and drab everyday life. I receive a certain state of mind that enables me to turn myself inside out and find myself. My studios environment frees my mind and soul, and brings them together. For me there's not a single place on  earth that can match my studio's awsome power.

       The list of benefits that can be found in having such a place is neverending. Fostering personal growth, discovery, and self-expression are at the base of my list for my studios deliverences to me and would seem to base most others. Also, probably the most important of all is the euphoric feeling of snipping the cord between yourself and the real world, leaving all of its pressures outside where they can't reach you and influence or direct behavior contrary to how you would trully act. These pressures of the common, or real, world grow more intense and damaging with every generation of humans that continue to overrun the planet. Pressures that would take a lifetime to list for example, status, wealth, and exceptance are actually not that hard to combat. Through having a place to dissapear too, using it to further your own self-image through self-reflection, and doing this often to keep up with our own changing selves, we can as a society aspire higher. So I ask you where's your studio?