Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TNS#67: BurningMan09 Travelogue

TheNextStep show #67 was taped on 10/14/09, the FIFTH annual Burning Man Travelogue show, this year featuring guests and longtime burners Anne Gelhaus and Lisa Doyle. The show was done MST3K-style as per tradition... (and, just saw the notice that MST3K Vol.XVI (4-dvd set) was released today.) This year I had lots of slides but no video so I included a retrospective look at my photos from BurningMan '96 and '97, in the good old days before the perimeter fence, when there was still a shooting range!
Then we looked thru Lisa's extensive set of slides and short clips, which can be found here: picasaweb.google.com/lisaanndoyle/BM2009# -- many featuring the HotD Hair of the Dog band and camp. Lisa and Anne both are or have been members of HotD as well as various other mutating musical entities! dmomusic.com/hotd
Since Lisa's media was already all on Picasa I decided to play them live during the taping of the show -- risky in case it should hang up. That aspect went well altho I ran into difficulty getting to the full-screen control on Picasa once the video adapter was installed (which cuts off part of the screen)... annoying!
Many fine photos of this year's Temple were viewed, as well as the very creative base of the MAN, which for the first time this year was set up to allow people to write their poems, epigrams, memorials etc on the myriad laser-cut plywood pieces that made up the structure. I think the tradition of having a Temple where everyone can offer up their sorrows or challenges from the past year, and then have them released thru fire, is one of the most valuable parts of Burning Man now. Thank you again David Best! (David was architect of the Temple that first year (2002?) and for many years after... taking a break the past two years...) The other high point of Burning Man 09 for me was coming across the NeverWas Haul steampunk Victorian house on wheels out on the playa, when it was stranded waiting for some repair -- so we got to spend some Quality Time onboard, listening to Kimrick Smythe the principal creator of it telling stories about how it came to be. What a treat! Another epic year on the playa...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TNS#66: The Journeybook: Tales of Altered States

TheNextStep show #66 was taped 9/9/09 and featured two co-authors of The Journeybook, Tim Parish and Graham St. John. I met them along with co-author Rak Razam at their author event at Sera Phi in SF recently and think they've done a great job with the book, check it out! The book is divided into two halves, one a history of altered states and the other a collection of contemporary accounts. The two dozen contributing writers are mostly Australian but the book is definitely global in scope and the included art is beautiful. Graham is also author of Technomad: Global Raving Countercultures; his site is www.edgecentral.com. Rak is also author of Aya: a Shamanic Odyssey.
From their site thejourneybook.com:
The Journeybook is an essential map of hyperspace for the contemporary psychonaut and the uninitiated alike. Travel through time and space and partake of mushrooms at Harvard, hemp in Nimbin, DMT in the Amazon and anti-depressents in the suburbs of the West, to name but a few of the experiences which await you. Dance at Dionysian festivals, meet alchemists in the laboratories of Switzerland, trippers in the corporate highrises of Brisvegas, and journey to the edge of the universe within our anthology's pages... The Journeybook is a collection of tales of altered states, essays, history and is a manifesto for psychedelic culture in the 21st century. It covers the modern usage of sacramental plants and offers insights into traditional and contemporary shamanism, as well as analysis of the current state of global psychedelic culture and its place in a sustainable future. The Journeybook is an essential handbook for those interested in the subject of consciousness, spirituality and understanding the rich pharmacopia of thought that exists beyond the confines of mainstream cosmology.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

TNS#65: Journeying Into Wholeness

TheNextStep show #65 was taped 8/13/09 and featured a discussion with Deborah Dooley, Ph.D, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Menlo Park, CA. From the description of her book Journeying Into Wholeness on her site deborahdooley.com:

"Each person will live through many changes requiring many new skill sets. These skills are not obvious or tangible. Unfortunately, they are seldom mentored in our culture or institutions. When new skill sets are required, and they are not learned, stress and negative emotional states result."
Deborah's work focuses on supporting individuals understanding their own development and integrating these new skills sets. Her book, Journeying into Wholeness, explains the developmental stages of growth and the required skills. The work provides a map to understand where you are in your development and what type of skills will currently support you.
Actually the show was originally going to be about recent developments in biofeedback since Deborah's very interested in that area in her therapy work. Since she wasn't quite ready to do a show specifically on that topic we mostly talked about her "five phases of consciousness" model for personal growth (chart on p.83 of her book): Foreign World, Social World, Confused World, Created World, and Unified World. Which in turn had me looking up Leary 8-fold model of consciousness for comparison... Well the two don't really compare in any useful way but I did appreciate Deborah's view of personality growth and recommend her excellent book!
Published by Delphi Press, available thru deborahdooley.com.

Friday, June 19, 2009

TNS#64: Memoirs of a Blind Biker

TheNextStep show #64 was taped 5/11/09 and was an interview with Russell Targ discussing his new book of memoirs: Do You See What I See?: Memoirs of a Blind Biker.
As Russell put it, the theme of the book might be best described as 'Questioning Reality', as it covers lots of material from Huxley's Perennial Philosophy, quantum physics and nonlocality, advaita non-dualism and dzogchen buddhism. Russell was a laser physicist from NY who came to CA and got involved with psi phenomena and started the Remote Viewing project with Hal Puthoff at SRI in the early 70's, which was quite successful for many years. The memoir goes into lots of detail about remote viewing but also integrates his extensive interests in philosophy and spirituality, which I especially enjoyed. Here is a selection of quotes from the book that I liked, from my notes for the show:
"Questioning reality: the essential first step in the evolution of consciousness"
"The first principle is that consciousness is the fundamental building block of the universe – which is more like great thought than great machine."
"Nothing is actually happening in our world except for the meaning we give it. We give all the meaning there is, to everything we experience."
"Our awareness is limitless in space and time – therefore WE are limitless."
"The Perennial Philosophy: the purpose or meaning of our lives is to become one with universal non-local consciousness."
"The essence of the teaching is that there IS no self – it’s all just a story."

I find Russell's work especially valuable because he's incorporating his psi phenomena research into a framework of quantum physics that offers at least the beginning of an understanding as to how psi phenomena can occur, namely non-locality. As a final comment I also really liked his metaphor that remote viewing is like the image of the moon appearing in calm water -- it was always there but the water (i.e. the mind) has to be calm for it to be visible.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

TNS#63: What I Wish I Knew at 20

The Next Step show #63 was taped 4/9/09 and featured Tina Seelig, Ph.D., talking about her new book What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World. Her book is filled with anecdotes and covers many themes, among them how to have a healthy disregard for the impossible, how to recover from failure, and how most problems are remarkable opportunities in disguise. It was a complete delight to talk with Tina for an hour! "Real life is the ultimate open book exam." ...Info on her Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders program at Stanford can be found at etl.stanford.edu.

Tina Seelig, Ph.D. is the Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program where she is responsible for strategic planning, operations, and outreach efforts of STVP. In addition, Tina is the Director of the Stanford Entrepreneurship Network and the co-Director of the Mayfield Fellows Program. Tina's latest book, What I wish I knew when I was 20, provides insights on life, leadership, and the little things that make a big difference in an entrepreneurial setting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

TNS#62: Albert Hofmann Retrospective

The Next Step show #62 was taped 3/12/09 -- a retrospective look at the life and work of Albert Hofmann, who passed away a year ago at the age of 102 -- with Robert Forte and Paul Daley. Robert is a religious historian, psychedelic scholar and editor of Entheogens and the Future of Religion and Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In. Paul is an environmental scientist and photographer who I met at the World Psychedelic Forum in 2006, and he brought clips from a rare audio interview he'd conducted with Albert Hofmann in 1977 as well as many photos of Albert at the WPF in 2006. More recently Paul's been instrumental in helping Sasha Shulgin get his laboratory up and functional again after a dormant period. The REAL star of the show however was all the great footage from Connie Littlefield's film Hofmann's Potion, lots of great clips of Albert, Stan Grof, Ralph Metzner, Myron Stolaroff, Humphry Osmond, Aldous Huxley, Ram Dass and others. Thanks Connie! Thanks Albert... Bodhi Svaha!

From Wikipedia: Albert Hofmann (January 11, 1906 – April 29, 2008) was a Swiss scientist best known for having been the first to synthesize, ingest and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann authored more than 100 scientific articles and wrote a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child. He was the first to isolate the psychoactive substance in mushrooms, psilocybin. On January 11, 2006, Hofmann became a centenarian, and the occasion of his 100th birthday was the focus of an international symposium on LSD (The World Psychedelic Forum in Basel; psychedelic.info).

Saturday, February 28, 2009

TNS#61: The Global Warming Diet

The Next Step #61 was taped 2/12/09 and featured local author Laura Stec and her colleague Dr. Samia McCully for a show looking at the intersection of nutrition, environment and health. Laura’s new book is Cool Cuisine, described below, and Dr. McCully is a naturopath – her website is www.wellnessarchitecture.com. What I especially liked about Laura's book was all the information about the carbon cycle and the carbon equivalent impact of our dietary choices.

Cool Cuisine - Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming is a new book by San Francisco Bay Area chef Laura Stec with Dr. Eugene Cordero, Ph.D, San Jose State Professor of Meteorology. It addresses why global warming could be the best thing to happen to the culinary world in a long time, and reports on innovative science, business, and savory solutions to the Global Warming Diet. Cool Cuisine tells a story of really interesting people doing really inspiring things, and how you can too.. The reader embarks on a exploration that feeds mind and mouth with art, science, pleasure, culinary tips and recipes on how to cook a globally cool cuisine. (www.globalwarmingdiet.org)

A few more notes from the book: takes about 500 gals oil/yr to produce our 'machine-cuisine' diets... we emit about as much CO2 eating as we do by driving... our fertilizer-based food system contributes almost 20% of U.S. CO2 emissions... takes 17M barrels/oil to make the 30G plastic water bottles used in the US/year... Recipe for one gal/gas: 200k lb plants (100 tons), buried 1 mile deep for 1M years(!)... nearly half of all food harvested in the US/yr goes to waste... we use 380G plastic bags/yr, which take 12G barrels/oil to produce... one cheeseburger takes about 10 lb in CO2 equiv to produce... Great book, thanks Laura!