Original poetry
Transcendental painting

Absolute Image: The Structure of Consciousness in Visual Form  •  •  A continuing series of paintings by Dr. Lawrence Sheaff in acrylic on canvas 36 inches square. The artist aspires not only to create beautiful art but also to echo the cosmic order in everyone’s awareness.

Harri Aalto: Observations of Reality  •  •  Harri pioneered water jet technology for cutting natural stone, which enables his company, Aalto Design, to produce intricately detailed floor designs.

Harri also has had many very interesting experiences of consciousness, starting at age five, when he began to see a "sphere of consciousness" around his body. Most people with experiences such as these keep them to themselves, but Harri has been expressing his experiences openly for some time.

About 30 years ago, I began to hear the hum of existence as layers of knowledge. I could see the divine heavens; I started experiencing the relationships that rendered everything one unified wholeness of multiplicity. And ultimately how, even daily life, far from being the football field of turbulent change, is nothing but the greatest expression of divine-to-Absolute-self-awareness. And yet here we all are, essentially no different from each other. Nothing much changes. My experience is that all this is true for everybody. The “sphere of consciousness” around me as a child, is still there, but has expanded to include all the different layers of my awareness.

Jason Padgett  •  •  In 2002, Jason Padgett was a pretty average guy, working in a futon store and mostly interested in working out and partying. Then he was brutally mugged by attackers who repeatedly kicked his head. Strangely, he not only survived but found he had acquired the unique skill of being able to visualize a deep geometric structure in everything he sees. Previously uninterested in math and unskilled in drawing, he began to draw very detailed geometric objects by hand, connecting each one to some phenomenon. The number pi, for instance, he draws as a circle which is actually composed of a large number of straight lines.

Transcendental images

Budhabrot  •  •  A revisualization of the Mandelbrot Set using a technique invented by Melinda Green. The Mandelbrot set is one of the best known of a class of mathematical structures known as fractals.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney (1901–1966) probably would not have liked to be called a saint. Bob Thomas, in his biography Walt Disney: An American Original, recounted a meeting at which someone from outside his organization was heaping huge amounts of praise on Disney. Walt looked increasingly uncomfortable. One of his close associates, sensing Walt’s discomfort, finally said, “Well, Walt, I guess there’s only one thing left for you to do, and that’s walk on water.” Walt was relieved and said, “I’ve already tried that, and it doesn’t work.”

But who else other than a saint could have:

  • Given us films that many treasure as children and can also bring a tear to adult eyes.
  • Not become bitter when he was cheated out of the ownership of his first major character, but simply went on to develop something far more successful. The first character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He conceived Mickey Mouse on his way back from the meeting at which he found out he had lost Oswald.
  • Invented the idea of a theme park, because he thought that children deserved something better than amusement parks.
  • Conceived and planned an ideal community—EPCOT, a full fledged city which was in the planning stages when he died and was never built. See below.
  • Always insisted on high standards of quality, even though it frequently threatened to bankrupt his company. Pinocchio, for instance, lost over a million dollars when it was first released. It would be years before it made money.

Although his company had many financial difficulties, it also had remarkable successes. After he lost Oswald, he became adamant about maintaining control over his creations. When he had problems with film distributors, he created his own film distribution company. Even though his creations became household names in the late 1920’s, he kept the company private until well into the 1950’s. Only then did he reluctantly go public. About this time, the company borrowed heavily from the ABC network—yet this same company, decades after his death, had grown to the point where it could buy out ABC.

Walt Disney site for adults, including a wide range of biographical material

The real EPCOT  •

This story makes me wonder how different the history of America might have been if Walt Disney had lived another 10 years.

In the last year of his life, 1966, Walt spent much of his time planning what he hoped would be the centerpiece of Disney World in Florida: a planned community of 20,000 people that would develop new techniques of city planning and construction. Walt said he was doing this because he thought that there was “nothing more important than finding solutions to the problems of our cities.” He believed that the need was to build a new city from scratch, rather than fixing the problems of existing cities.

He called his proposed city EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow). It was never built. The theme park called Epcot at Disney World includes only a miniscule portion of Walt’s plans and bears almost no resemblance to Walt’s vision of a community where people would live and work, not just visit.

Walt explains his plans in some detail in a 1966 video. This video seems to have been a pitch to other companies to work with Disney as partners in developing EPCOT, since Walt thought that EPCOT was too big for Disney alone.

Walt starts speaking about EPCOT at 9:10 in this video. In Walt’s plan, EPCOT would have a circular layout, with 4 concentric zones: hotels and shopping in the center, high rise apartments around that, then parks and schools, and finally low rise family units. Cars would be allowed, but the main transportation would be monorail and "people mover". Everyone would have to be employed, and everyone would rent. The company would control the development of the city. The main purpose of the city would have been to develop and test new materials and systems for urban areas.

At 6:55 in the video, Walt outlines his plans for Disney World as a whole. It looks unfamiliar now, since only the area around the Magic Kingdom was built as Walt envisioned. After Walt’s death, Disney management shelved his plans for EPCOT, the industrial park, and the airport.

Can tuppence buy a townhouse?

In the Disney movie Mary Poppins, an approximately 8-year-old Michael Banks reluctantly invests tuppence in his father’s bank. “Tuppence” means two pence, or in American terms, two cents. In the sequel Mary Poppins Returns, set 25 years later, the Banks children are still living in the same house but have mortgaged it and seem unable to pay off the mortgage. Mr. Wilkins, the corrupt chairman of the bank, is trying to foreclose on the mortgage and repossess the house.

In the film’s climax, the bank’s ex-chairman, Mr. Dawes, unexpectedly breaks into a conversation between Wilkins and the Bankses to tell them that the tuppence that Michael invested 25 years previously, after being properly invested in the bank but seemingly forgotten by the Bankses, was now able to pay off the mortgage.

My thought on hearing this was to wonder just how realistic the mathematics of this plot point was. Could two cents really grow to pay off a mortgage in 25 years?

The short answer seems to be: Only if the bank made some truly remarkable investments and paid its depositors some truly remarkable interest. And had no minimum deposit requirements. And was doing its accounting in very small increments of a penny.

A longer answer would be a dive into the wonders of compound interest, in which a sum of money is invested and the proceeds of the investment are periodically added back into the original investment and the larger amount is reinvested. Usually, for savings accounts, compound interest is paid at a fixed rate and compounded (reinvested) several times a year. The formula for this type of compound interest is:

$$ B = P \left( 1 + \frac{r}{n} \right) ^ {nt} $$

 \(B\) = current balance
 \(P\) = initial investment
 \(r\) = annual interest rate
 \(n\) = number of times per year interest is compounded
 \(t\) = number of years since initial investment

Another wrinkle in this calculation is the old currency system then in use in Britain. In this system, then and now, the main currency unit was a pound, but at that time, a pound was divided into 20 shillings, and a shilling was divided into 12 pence, so a penny was \(\frac1{240}\) of a pound.

If the bank gave 10% interest on its deposits and compounded quarterly, then the balance after 25 years would be:

$$ B = \frac{2}{240} \left( 1 + \frac{0.10}{4} \right) ^ {4 \cdot 25} = 0.0984 = \frac{1}{20} + \frac{11.6}{240} $$

The ending balance would be just shy of 2 shillings—hardly enough to cover a mortgage.

If, however, the bank had offered 60% interest, then the balance would be

$$ B = \frac{2}{240} \left( 1 + \frac{0.60}{4} \right) ^ {4 \cdot 25} = 9785.9454 = 9785 + \frac{18}{20} + \frac{10.9}{240} $$

which is almost 10,000 pounds, which might have been able to cover a mortgage for a townhouse in London in 1935.

Such an interest rate would be a fantastic bargain, but it is still fascinating to see that increasing the interest rate by of a factor of 6 would lead to an increase in the ending balance by a factor of nearly 100,000. Such is the power of compound interest, and of exponential functions generally.

Disney World and Hurricanes  •  How Walt Disney World in Florida fared during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017. Short version: remarkably little damage, especially compared to the damage immediately outside of its borders. They do their part preparing for hurricanes, but something else seems to be involved too.

Glass instruments

Here are some videos of music being played on instruments made of glass. The first instrument is the glass harp, a set of goblets of various sizes and filled with various amounts of water, arranged in a keyboard like layout. The second instrument is the glass armonica (no “h”), a spindle with various sizes of glass rings that was invented by Benjamin Franklin. The third instrument is a crystal harp, a sort of glockenspiel with crystal tubes.