Necessary

NECESSARY

I think I’ll write a poem that speaks epic truth, tonight
It doesn’t matter if you tend to lean left or lean right
Politics aren’t helping us, the gap is greater in-between
We need to stop fixating on whose King or who is Queen

We need to shift the focus to what matters, that’s for real
We need to stop the spinning and start breaking culture’s wheel
Martin wasn’t joking when he wrote that brilliant line
The story’s great, sure, but a grander message lies behind

Nothing’s stronger than a thread that’s woven one and all
But if you try to weave it on your own you’ll sadly fall
History has proven this, it’s not news to anyone
The ink in this here pen I wield weighs more than your big gun

Every life we live is shaped by minds that can run free
And if we came together just imagine what could be
Forgiveness, empathy, this is what we need
And we ever grasp these things our whole planet will be freed

Fire doesn’t put out fire, its ego you should bury
Someone had to say it, right? These words are necessary.

The Tour

Psst, hey you! Come here, my friend

To you, my hand, I shall extend

Don’t be shy, come quietly

This is for you, just follow me

 

A tour this is, with me, your guide

So let us gently step inside

Now take a seat, get strapped right in

Prepare the mind to twirl and spin

 

First stop, its here, a bright red light

We look around, no soul in sight

And so we drive, but wait! Just stop

A ticket written from this cop?

 

“You ran a red light.” So, my friend?

There was no one around the bend

What purpose do you serve, you see?

Protect and serve, for my safety?

 

Then why, dear sir, must you oppress?

I looked each way, both right and left

‘Twas obvious, no danger here

And so I went, but still you’re here?

 

Truth is, my friend, that light you see

Is simply there for trafficking

A ticket now is petty, no?

Written only ‘cause “I told you so”

 

But hey,  you there, let’s move along

Let’s not get caught up in this “wrong”

The point of using it, you see

Was to make you sit and think

 

So come on now, next stop ‘n still

Is at my cousin’s funer-ill

But don’t feel bad, no please don’t cry

He had it coming, stupid guy

 

Just look around, observe and see

All these tears and cries we grieve

Tell me, is your faith in God?

‘Cause if it is, he’s just a bod

 

That’s right, he’s nothing now, down here

So wipe and dry that tumbling tear

If believe, you truly do

You’d be happy for the news!

 

He’s up there in your heaven, right?

And as you lay down, every night

You tell yourself “we’ll meet again”

But will you really, my old friend?

 

Okay let’s pause, and take a break

I know it’s hard to be awake

This tour is tough, it’s hard for me

To drive folks through reality

 

The truth is harsh, it doesn’t care

What color, skin, or crown you wear

These words offend you? Sacrilege?

Buy “ignorance is bliss” package

 

This tour, I say. it must go on

And money man, it pays the bondS

So let’s move on to our stop three

And talk about our friend, money

 

Here we have, right in our hands

The instrument, that rules our lands

Every single thing you do

Is to make more, more accrue

 

More and more until its thought

We can afford the life we want

Well what if way back, way back when

‘Fore money was invented, friend

 

They’d thought of something else, instead

Like I build houses, you bake bread

Existence without currency

I know its weird, this tour with me

 

Its in a world, where things are not

The status quo, these thing’s we’re thought

Hey, you know, I’m just your guide

That’s how it is, just let it slide

 

Pretend its normal, this new world

Cause every curl we have uncurled

Is hard to think of, yeah that’s right

Because you’ve learned one way, alright?

 

Conditioning, please don’t feel bad

But when you wake up, don’t be mad

These things we’ve taught you to believe

Are all an act, a just reprieve

 

Created rules, and laws you see

To contain the thought that’s free

But now my friends, you have a guide

I need support, this scheduled ride

 

We must end it, I decree

And bring back our humanity

There is a game, you know it’s true

And trust me, world, I need you

Make it Count

Every single second

Each and every single day

Is a blessing given to us

For us to use and play

 

Life is but a moment

A brief wrinkle in time

A canvas to be colored

In or outside of the line

 

You see, its not a rigid path

Through which all are meant to tread

There is no right or wrong, here

No matter what the others said

 

Do the things you want to

Don’t hold back anything

Take the chance you’re given

And step into the ring

 

Make the most of this life

Do it while you can

So fast it will speed by you

The clock, its spinning hand

 

Dance like no one’s watching

Sing without concern

Do the things you’ve dreamed of

Forget how much you earn

Love with every fiber

Care without regret

Smile ever wider

And don’t ever forget

 

That no one knows what happens

When at last we lay to rest

So do everything you can, here

And make your life the best

Pyramid

Pain

It fills my veins

Evades the remedies

Reaches all my extremities

A life of love so temporary, I allude

I opt instead for darkness, and solitude

Pen and pad are all I want, they’re all I need

Though I try to hide the pain, each day I grieve

Search for calm and peace of mind, a still reprieve

It will not matter now or then, the things that I achieve

The only thing that matters is creation, look and see what I did

Read and read and keep on reading, at the end you’ll see – my Pyramid

No I Say

You want an album? No I say

Cause I don’t rap, not any day

I just write, my words they say

Enough for you and me today

 

I get it, all these things I write

They make sense when you read at night

This world is filled with hate and fright

And reading lends a small respite

 

But when will this all change, I ask

Cause fixing this is my one task

I know I’m not the only one

Who wants to rise and get it done

 

I guess I’ll have to wait and see

And keep on writing, fervently

To change the world, its hard you see

No gun I need, just poetry

Without You

So long they’ve waited, wandering

Watching, waiting, listening

For the next one, pondering

Ever are they wondering

 

The wait is over, never more

Alas, the knock is at the door

Get up and answer, I implore

You’ve found your long, and lost Lenore

 

The time has come, turn back the clock

The stories all the stores would stock

Are coming back, my hands have brought

The classics that, you all forgot

 

The world has changed, but don’t begin

To think that things, are different

The written word, it always lives

So do your worst, this world of sin

 

Continue thinking you’re the one

That changes things, well where I’m from

You cannot find, with just a thumb

Happiness, not even some

 

Your things, your brands, your money, see

Don’t mean a fucking thing to me

So take your watches, take your things

And show me happiness it brings

 

If you can say, to that above

Your life is full, its filled with love

Then friend, I’ll be real and true

This world is better, without you

Tough Love

When you’re bored, don’t bitch at me

Just shut your trap and write, you dweeb

Don’t pout and whine and stare and blink

Just grab that pen and think and think

 

Come up with something folks will read

And sell it so your dog can feed

Don’t waste your time excusing the

Stops to productivity

 

Its not that hard, just look at me

This poem right here took two or three

Minutes to type, unless you need

To count the time I took to pee
Cause then its four, technically

But hey who’s counting? My point, you see

Is writing can come easily

If only you just sit…and think

Sincere

Hold on.

Wait.

What did you say?

Did I hear that right,

Or should you say it again?

I could have sworn

You’d minced up your word

Cause surely I didn’t

Just hear what I heard

Let me say something

Don’t twist this, today

I say what I mean

And I mean what I say

So if you are speaking

To me, or to them

You stand by those words

‘Cause I’ll remind you, my friend

So next you request

One to lend you an ear

Consider your words

And make them sincere.

Unsung Heroes: Our Black Brothers & Sisters

In the midst of another era of racial and socioeconomic tension, America finds itself yet again divided. Its still to be decided as to how things will play out, but if one thing is for certain, its this: things must change. Folks are going to have to start getting along, or these violent riots and protests are going to rip our nation apart.

There is something lingering, however, that I think needs to be addressed. In my discussions with people on all sides of these issues, I’ve noticed that there is a certain degree of doubt as to how much our society and culture has truly benefited from the contributions of black Americans (and other minorities). While most people I speak to don’t come from the standpoint of looking down on minorities, many do seem to neglect certain contributions they have made, whether intentionally or not.

In light of this, I have decided to put together a list of some great people of color who, throughout our history, have impacted us all in a positive way. Some you may not have heard of, and some you may know quite dearly. The point is to illustrate how important we ALL are in our human quest to create a loving, inclusive society. There is no shortage of white characters who have received recognition, we all know that. So hopefully, by highlighting some of the others, the folks who still seem to foster the “white supremacy” opinion will take a harder look at the reality of this world we share. We’re all trying, people. Love each other – it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

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Many people don’t know this, but GWC, a freed slave turned brilliant scientist, was a monumental influence on Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace, a farmer from Iowa, used GWC’s ideas to enormously boost corn production during World War II, filling increasing needs of our exploding economy.

BASS REEVES

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Bass was the first black US deputy Marshall West of the Mississippi. He basically destroyed outlaws and was an overall bad-ass, for want of a better term. He caught all the bad guys, and even killed 14 people in self defense. Keepin’ all them white folk safe!

BUFFALO SOLDIERS

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The Buffalo Soldiers was a term used for many regiments of black American soldiers who fought in many wars, originating in the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the US Army in 1866. The term came from Native Americans, who thought their hair resembled that of Buffalo hair. They contributed to many great American victories, and served valiantly for their country. The term was used loosely by some to describe all black soldiers, but the history here is important to know. Many of our victories would never have been possible without the brave efforts of what many referred to as the “Negros Cavalry”.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

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Many have probably heard of these fellas, as there is now a big Hollywood movie about them. These guys were the first African American Air Unit in WWII, and went on many selfless missions to fight the good fight. Lot of great sub stories in these guys ranks, too. Check em out!

JOHN ALBERT BURR

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Anyone know a guy who owns a landscaping company? I sure do. Lots. And they can all thank Mr. John Albert Burr for pretty much inventing modern lawn mowing and paving the way for profits! That’s right, you’re looking at the man who invented the rotary lawn mowing blade – U.S. patent #624,749.

PERCY JULIAN

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Percy Julian was one of the most important scientists of the 20th century, making great discoveries in the fields of healthcare, with a focus on synthetic compounds. His work far exceeds my intellectual prowess, but folks should know that many of the compounds we enjoy today in the field of medicine were made possible by him.

ELIJAH MCCOY

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Elijah McCoy was an inventor. A thinker. An innovator. Throughout his life, he made trains more efficient,  improved oil rigs, and even honed steam engines. He was a brilliant man, capable of some of the most efficient thought from an engineering perspective. He even invented a movable ironing board to help make ironing-on-the-go easier. You’re welcome, ladies.

LEWIS LATIMER

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Lewis Latimer was paramount in further perfecting the light bulb. He led efforts installing electric plants in cities such as Philadelphia and Montreal. Without him, the incandescent bulb might not be what it is today. Thanks Lewis!

ROSA PARKS

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Rosa needs no introduction. The only thing I want to say here is that I bet she made the best neighbor EVER. You know, the one who’s always making sure the kids are behaving and aren’t doing anything stupid? Making sure they all got their homework done and came in before dinner time. I imagine that’s how Rosa was. A sweet, nice, lady who stood up (or in this case sat down) for what’s right. We need more of her.

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Now, I could go on and on and on and on with this, but this is the point, in case anyone’s missed it. All of these people did things for the greater good, not for one side or the other. They never berated other people, they just uplifted folks. That’s the direction we need to be moving, everyone. Forward. Up. Not backwards, or down.

A good question to ask yourself if you’re considering making a move in this game of life: what direction will this push people in?

The Tiki Torches: 1

“‘Ay Carl!”

“Wut?”

“Ya think this in’ll work?”

Strolling along the calamitous alleyways of the local Wal-Smart, Carl and Joe have a bit of difficulty deciding what torches to carry to their Klan march.

Plop

“There!” Joe shouts, proudly placing his newly acquired bug-deterrent torch in the basket, ready to check out.

“Now just you wait a tick,” Carl says, squinting his eyes as he pans the strangely smelling torch up and down. “I think we can do better’n that. That one ain’t gonna light much ‘a nothin!”

“Hell, you’re prolly right, Carl.” Joe says, scratching his head. “Well, shit on me and call me a skidmark, what’re we gonna do now?!”

“You hold it right there.” Carl says, matter-of-factly. I’mma fetch us a torch the resta the boys’ll be talkin ’bout for weeks.”

Exiting the aisle of bugly torch sticks, Carl takes several minutes before returning. Joe, meanwhile, stands next the Wal-Smart buggy, picking his nose, rolling boogers between his fingers.

“Ha!”

Suddenly, Carl jumps into the aisle again, a brand new torch in hand. It seems he has given up the bug repellent torch for a new one. A brilliant, highly flammable….tiki torch.

“This one’s gonna light up the night like you ain’t never seen!” Carl shouts to Joe, beaming at his new possession.

“Awwww boy, that thing sure is gonna make a lotta light!” Joe chirps, flinging his booger behind him so Carl doesn’t see it.

“Come on now. Let’s check out and join the resta the boys!”

For Better or Worse (Ch 5)

“Hidey hidey hoooo!!”

Happily skipping over to the habitat on her table,  the little girl in the bedroom is gleaming over the new cut she’s gotten for her fur.

“Do you like my new bangs, teenie weenies?” She excitedly asks her pets. “I know you can’t understand me, but I bet you do! They’re very pretty. Just like you guys!”

Looking to a small group of less-than-healthy-looking creatures coddled in the far rear of the dome, she grimaces.

“Well, like most of you guys, at least.” She says, rolling her head to the side as she snootily brushes her hair back. “Anyway, you’re gonna love the new toy Daddy got for you all!”

Opening the tank, the girl lifts a box and pulls out a large digital screen which depicts moving images of other small creatures that look just like her pets. The creatures displayed appear to be acting out their own little lives, similar to the ones in the terrarium. Finding a cozy spot to set it in the terrarium, she places the big screen down as the tiny inhabitants flock over in front of it, seemingly enamored as they watch the images.

“I knew you’d like it!” The girl excitedly coos, closing the lid. “No idea why, though. After all, those fake teeny weenies aren’t doing anything that you aren’t already doing yourselves! Why don’t you just watch each other, sillies?”

Happily scooting back to observe the new environment she’s created, the little girl spends the rest of her evening quietly watching them enjoy their new square of moving images.

 

Pushing Boundaries: My Day at iCube

Let’s be honest – we all have a nerdy side to us.

Whether it’s experiencing a new Star Wars movie at an IMAX theater or wreaking havoc in the latest GTA game, we all enjoy an occasional escape into the newest tech. This is all well and good, considering we live in an age where technology dictates the quality of huge portions of our day to day lives. In such a rapidly advancing industry, there’s always something new right around the corner to satiate our appetites for the cutting edge.

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to get a full on peek at several ground-breaking technologies that are being worked on by the brilliant minds at iCube – a fast growing technology firm located on the campus of TN Technological University (Cookeville, TN).


When you first enter iCube, you are greeted by one of their core philosophies: IMAGINE

iCube, a firm with hardly a year of operation under its belt, has already garnered a plethora of multi million dollar projects. They’ve contracted with private and public entities, their work ranging from hospitals to municipalities.

A friend of mine, Mack Lunn, is a project manager for the institution and was kind enough to give me an in depth look at some of the projects they’re working on. Read about my experience below.


The Oculus Rift – a gateway to another world

My introductory “lesson” was to familiarize myself with one of the primary outlets they work with – virtual reality. Not long after I arrived, Mack had me strapped in and ready to delve into (for me) completely uncharted territories. Once I was positioned correctly, he tuned me into a few of the on board programs that ship with the oculus by default. They were rudimentary apps developed (I imagine) for that very purpose – familiarization. I stepped into the shoes of a virtual line cook, taking orders and cooking digital food. I protected my castle as it was besieged by hundreds of little e-barbarians. I warped into the future and defended myself from dozens of laser shooting drones, moving about in my small space to dodge their fiery attacks. Needless to say, it was freakin’ awesome.


Hitting your VR tour guide with a clipboard is exactly as much fun as it sounds

After realizing I was having entirely too much fun with the default video games that all Oculus devices ship with, Mack’s next step was to show me one of the actual projects that iCube is working on. The first thing he showed me was perhaps the most relevant in terms of scope and benefit to society, which I’ll get to shortly.

In the grand scheme of things, the virtual reality arena is in its infant stages. The technology is finally available on a wide basis, and firms are just now beginning to apply it to all sorts of different industries in a practical manner. In iCubes case, they are currently working on a program with hospitals that will benefit diabetic patients. Here’s how:


The coolest $500K ride I’ve ever been on

Apparently doctors have experienced significant difficulty with getting diabetic patients to follow nutritional and health guidelines, leading to negative results. This is a big problem in the medical field, and one that I’m sure anyone in the medical industry can attest to. So, seeing the problem, there was a behavioral psychologist who one day said “Hey, why don’t we show people what’s happening in their bodies if they ignore our instructions? Maybe then they’ll get it and start eating right.”

This is where iCube comes in. The hospital basically tells them “We have this problem. We want to show people what’s going on in their bodies, and we want them to be able to experience it as if they were inside themselves. People are more likely to respond well and follow directions if they can actually see what’s happening to them.”

iCubes response? “Say no more.”


We come in peace. Take me to your leader

Cue the visbox, the thing you just saw in the photo above. This was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in quite a long time. I got to strap on some goofy looking glasses that made me feel like I had alien antennaes and then took a holographic ride into clogged arteries, walked around inside a human heart, and was apart of a group of red blood cells straight chillin’ in someone’s veins. Needless to say the visbox experience was, as the bards would put it, “totes amaze balls”. And to cap it all, the best part is that these programs are having a positive impact on people’s health, furthering the humanitarian mission of iCube.

The next thing I got to do was tour the development studio. This was great because I’ve always wondered how things go from being an idea in someone’s head into a real program that you can fiddle around with. So Mack took me into what I can only call the Main Event Room, because it looked like that’s where most of the work was getting done. It reminded me of the pictures I’ve seen of Bethesda Studios, Bioware, and the like. Lots of figureines, loads of dual monitor setups, and some super-bad computers.


And now, the main event!

Here I was again strapped into an Oculus, only this time I was sitting in a chair. I got to play around with a project that the firm is developing for the Tennessee Aquarium, virtually snorkeling through a river as I watched contamination levels rise and fall, noting the impact it had on the aquatic ecosystem. The program they ran for me here was one that illustrated how important environmental factors are in regard to marine life.

Finally, one of the last things Mack walked me through was the world of 3D printing. Now I’m sure you’ve all heard of this, but actually seeing and fiddling around with the stuff is so much cooler than watching it online or on TV. Truthfully, I’m still somewhat floored by the fact that human beings have figured out how to literally print objects, but I digress. I doubt that’s something I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around.


3D Printed T-Rex. Rawr!

The stuff starts out as just a simple thin line of plastic, almost like a thick spool of fishing line. Moments later you might have yourself a dragon for your desk, or perhaps a tyrannosaurus if you prefer the Dino route. In any case, the 3D printing process is one of the coolest concepts I can think of in our recent history. And there’s no telling how it’s going to impact different industries. There was one story I was told where a paleontologist used to dig up dinosaur bones and make casts of the incomplete parts, selling the skeletons to museums and collectors for about $30K. His casts costed about 20/25K to produce at the end of the day, so he saw a somewhat healthy profit, right?

Well, when the 3D printers heard about this, they offered to scan the pieces bit by bit and simply print them out of their material, ultimately resulting in an absurd decrease in production costs (down to like, $500/$750). And these pieces were even more durable than the ones created before! How’s that for efficiency? This was a mere glimpse at how the world is going to be changing due to technological advances.


A 3D printed dino who’s name I can’t pronounce 

There were several other things I got to toy with during my time at iCube, but for brevity I’ll stop here. It really was one of the coolest days I’ve had in quite awhile, and I must give a very loud shout out to my friend Mack Lunn for giving me the tour. Thanks man!

The future is now.