Where Am I?

It’s a question Thom Yorke kept asking the crowd during Radiohead’s visit to Oakland, back in 2012, which started right before going into ‘Kid A’

Upon reflecting on why he kept repeating this throughout the night, I now have a better perspective on that question, especially since I’ve been viewing things in a much different light as I continue to learn and grow.

The idea just came to me. Who cares? Are you really there or is your body just filling a physical space? I have been reading a lot about Kundalini Yoga and how it can truly benefit people in so many ways. I’m working on my 1st chakra right now and even just a few minutes a day, of one or two exercises is already having tremendous results.

I also began thinking about how much I think about and analyze EVERYTHING. I think about doing something, then I fantasize about being good at it, eventually becoming wildly successful. Then I maybe start whatever project I have in mind… at the least, but about 99% of the time these “projects” never see a true ending.

Basically, it doesn’t matter where I am, so long as I am answering to what my soul is craving or asking for. I have no other choice but to listen to my heart. At times it may feel like I am possessed by some other person, doing all of the things I’ve dreamed of doing and becoming very successful with said “thing”. Other times it’s a struggle, every step of the way, because my mind plays tricks on me, I cock-block my own progress or sabotage myself from my own calling or whatever. For me the success is in how these different experiences help me grow and expand out of my shell, no longer afraid to just let it go. It’s about time we all challenge ourselves to step out of our complacent lives, comfort zones, daily rituals or habits that we think are helping us become better people. I too am a victim of my own distracting “solutions” that I think will improve me as a person.

That’s where I am. Where are you?

Kicking My Google Addiction

So, after almost 10 years of being on the Google Gmail service, I finally decided to call it quits. I have many reasons for finally closing my account, but to be honest it really has to do with de-cluttering and refocusing my time on things that matter.

I began contemplating the change when I started seeing more and more ads pop-up in my inbox. Then there were the many changes that were supposed to improve the Gmail experience, but really ended up making things more difficult. Some examples would be, hiding features that you use most or switching the placement of the log out button, forcing you to click on something you did not intend to click on. Many times it related to you giving something up or signing up for some new service like Google+.

One of the more recent changes that happened was the addition of separate tabs to group your emails. I believe one was ‘Promotion’, another was ‘Social’, etc. I didn’t learn until later, that in order for them to “help you organize” and “save time” they needed to comb through each email (subject, from address and content) in order to effectively place your email into the appropriate group. This also makes it possible for them to market ads specific to your interests. This was a little difficult for me to accept as I did not think it was such a good practice for a company to be going through my email in such a way.

Tack onto this, the big news that many of us have known about for years… the NSA PRISM Project and the issues around privacy, naming companies from Google to Apple as being part of their network of internet and tech companies they use to gather online user information without them knowing about it. This is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Once this was out, I knew it was time to start looking for a new way to communicate via email. I was not ready to allow Google to permit the NSA direct access to any and all of their user information at their every whim. I ended up closing my entire Google Account because of this. Since I didn’t take the time to close it our “properly” I also lost all my YouTube account data of 7 years as well. It had many of my favorite videos, artists, documentaries, musicians and even my own music videos from bands I’ve played in, to videos of me playing drums to help spread the word of what I do.

This all happened so quickly and only about two weeks ago, but I have since found a great email service that provides just the basics and protects users privacy the way it’s supposed to be. As for a YouTube replacement, I have been having trouble finding the right video service to upload my music to. The lack of decent choices with a variety of videos to choose from has left me with my hands tied and because of this I tried signing up for another YouTube account. Everything was going great until I started setting up my Channel. That is where I was told I would also get a Google+ account with my Channel set-up. This is something I did not want since learning that Google is also now sharing Google+ account photos with their advertisers and allowing them to user their customers images without their consent.

Since trying to remove Google+ from my YouTube account seemed near impossible since they tie the two together, I deleted that account and opened a new Google account, not a YouTube account. I found a video online that shows you how to open a Google Account, set-up your YouTube channel and go back and remove Google+ after the fact, within the Google Account window, not YouTube. Success!! Well, sort of. Now when I try logging back in with my new account and no Google+ I am unable to until the account undergoes a review process by Google. Verifying with my mobile number no longer works because they say it’s been used too many times. Really?! This all seemed very shady to me, so I decided to try out Vimeo. Upon trying to sign up unsuccessfully, I clicked on their terms and conditions to see if there was something I was missing. When I did this, I received the message “You have been temporarily blocked from Vimeo”. Apparently a ban that will be lifted after an “appropriate” period of time. WTF?

My main reason in writing this is to see if anyone else out there is trying to take their lives back and keep these large internet and tech companies (Apple, Verizon, Google, Facebook) from continuously invading their privacy and collecting information on them bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, all in the name of improving your life and saving you time and having nothing to do with innovation. Just look at things like Google Glass and now the new iPhone with fingerprint scanning technology. Smartphones are meant to capture as much data about their users than they are meant to be functional. I know it’s a scary thought, but it’s something to think about and maybe do a little research on. I find it strange that I can’t just have a Smartphone to use for photos, calling friends and family and texting. All large wireless providers force you to buy a data plan on some level. What for? Tracking.

Many things are amazing about technology, but I also think there are many things that are frustrating, especially when there is not enough transparency behind what things are being changed “for the better”, while you actually end up losing another piece of yourself to the ubiquitous NSA data cloud. It’s hear folks. It’s time to learn what you can do to protect yourself.

Mother is sick

I am concerned about the survival of our species, but more importantly about the longevity of our host planet. The more time passes, the less easy it is for her to ward off colds (melting glaciers), viruses (toxic injections) and general fatigue (constant fossil resource tapping).

I am saddened when I hear about people who are concerned with a TV show being canceled because “some horses died on the set”. Can you believe this is truly something, someone got pissed off about? It makes me feel deeply empathetic with all that is around me and how the general feeling sometimes ends up being a final giving up because the world knows it is not going to last forever.

People “need” their electronics. They are concerned with what is going on outside of the present moment and sometimes even in their own life. Take today for example, where I saw a mother, father and son eating breakfast at one of my favorite breakfast spots. The mother and father were both on their mobile devices doing whatever they were doing, while the child sat there, although seemingly happy and content, he just sat their smiling while his parents were deep in an email, text or facebook post. I told my wife, if I had a kid, the only thing I would be paying attention to is that child. This is my theory on why our kids today are so disconnected with people, nature and themselves. Not only are parents both working full-time plus, the time they do spend with their children is being trumped by external stimulation. These are things distracting them that are not even real. They are things they see as more important than having a connection with their own flesh and blood. This just one of many things I see that makes me sad.

Although I know the forces against nature are strong and that her illness will likely get worse, I am still optimistic that these kids (millenials) and even some in my generation will strive to make a difference and change the current trajectory we are on. I read an article today in where they talked about the desire for more and more people do be doing more meaningful work in their lives. Taking less money for something that impacts an individual, a community or even your own passionate desire. It’s a great time to be part of something. It’s even better to include others on what it is you are so passionate about. We have been losing to the old ways of living, thinking that we need to with how our parents lived. This is no longer true and it is no longer sustainable. We need to come together for a solution to what is happening before the solution is chosen for us.

Old School Hip-Hop and the Now

I just found this station on iTunes radio tonight. It’s called radio Classic Hip-Hop – The sounds of hip-hop, roots and it’s evolution from the streets of the Bronx in the 70′s to the pre-gangsta rap of the early 90′s.

Do any of you remember “Roxanne’s Revenge” by Roxanne Shante? Damn!! 96 bars of pure dissin’. Battle rhymin’. Man, I remember listening to this when I was kid. All I could ever remember is the little hook at the end “Roxanne’s Revenge” uh boom boom bap… boom boomboom bap… uh uh “Roxanne’s Revenge”. I seriously never knew she busted out that many bars at once. It’s truly inspiring.

That’s the thing about old school hip-hop though. Remember when Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five (“The Message”) would bust rhymes or the old King of Rock (“You Talk Too Much”) album from Run DMC? It was the funniest (still is) to listen to, because they go on and on talking about this guy who “talks too much”. Yet, they go on and on themselves, with these never-ending verses. I love it!! Those guys would just flow for how ever many bars it took to get their ideas out. There was never a set number like you hear in a lot of the mainstream rap music today. True classics. It was almost like they were freestylin’ in the studio about something they just had to get off their chest and it made it to the final mix of the album. Think of those songs like the Newcleus classic “Jam On It”. These days a rap song clocking seven minutes would never last, but back then it did.

I think the reason long verses, long songs, repetitive beats and DJ’s scratching a simple phrase endlessly, worked so well back then was because of the whole hip-hop culture and what was going on around the music. You had poppers and lockers, break-dancers, graffiti artists, block parties… things that begged for the night not to end. I speak a lot of what I know about this from the movie Beat Street and the little bit I got to learn and partake in during the early 80′s growing up in Los Angeles, CA. I was a breaker and loved tagging (with markers not paint) wherever I could. I long for the fun and intimacy the culture brought with it during that time.

For me, the stuff coming out of the west coast underground is kind of bringing it all back. I want to leave you with one of my favorite artists of the last couple years. They call him The Grouch. He dropped this video from his latest album on my birthday. To me that’s a sign about what my life is all about and who I am today. The song has a real message, not like the shit you hear on the mainstream radio. Bringing back the fun and the intelligent content is what it’s all about. Check this out now!!

Halema’uma’u demo for ‘Shine’

So, back in 2003 an old friend of mine who used to live in Tempe, AZ named Tre moved away for a while. He came back to live in Mesa, AZ around April of 2008. While he was away he wrote 12-15 songs on an acoustic guitar, complete with lyrics and solid ideas for bass and drums. He wanted to start a rock band.

Not long after his arrival we formed a band in June of 2008, with me on drums, Ryan Kennedy on keyboards, Jhon Quinitos on bass and Tre on guitar/vocals. Unfortunately in December 2008, Ryan left the band to pursue other opportunities in Missouri with his soon to be wife. We sincerely missed him and his mad music skills and were not sure how we would replace him, but we later decided that finding another musician of his caliber was too difficult and that we should focus on solidifying the foundation of the band as a three-piece and worry about a new member later.

Fast forward a few months and you have the demo video for ‘Shine’, recorded at a little studio in Chandler, AZ on February 14, 2009 by Matthew Townsend.