Deviations from Standard

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I apologize for the longer than normal gap between posts, but life has been incredibly busy lately.  My wife and I are looking to purchase our first home (yay!) but the hunt is intimidating and arduous.  I’ll do my best to keep posting new content as often as possible during this frenzied time, but please forgive any short lapses!

Anyway, this week I am going to cover a couple related topics that fascinate me to no end.  While they may exist under a variety of pseudonyms, the more widespread and general awareness of the concept can be traced back to this memorable scene of the first iconic Matrix film:

Glitches in the matrix

Happenings that just don’t fit with the standard expectations of reality, and may involve changes or quirks in the world around you that only you notice.  Often times it can be something simple that might be dismissed as coincidence, such as sightings of unrelated individuals dressed exactly alike (several examples appear in this fun list).  Many others are much more personal and profound, though.  This blogger compiles several experiences shared by reddit users in the Glitch community, which is an excellent source for exploring current tales of unsettling alterations in reality.  Here is one such tale that is both amusing and unsettling, shared by reddit user /u/-SheltieMom:

“So I never knew that there was a name for this or indeed that lots of people had experienced odd things. Stoked to have found a Reddit dedicated to this sort of thing.
We moved in to our house in October and the first morning we woke up there, I got up early and made waffles. He had one, I had one, he had his second and I had made my second one and left it to cool for literally 20 seconds while I answered the phone. When I turned around, my plate was there, but my waffle was gone. Vanished. My first thought was that my partner had taken it but he swears he didn’t and I’ve never known him to eat things that weren’t his, or to eat three waffles for that matter. And I don’t think he could have eaten it in the time allowed either. Our dogs were at my parents’ because of the move, so counter surfing was not an answer either. In time I stopped wondering and it just became a joke to ask, “but what happened to the waffle?”
A couple of weeks ago, my partner got up first, made coffee, brought me a cup and we were enjoying a lazy morning. Over an hour later, I wandered off to the kitchen to make eggs and there, on the counter, was a hot waffle.
I feel it prudent to mention now that I am the classic skeptic. My partner is the classic believer. We call each other Mulder and Scully in jest. This is precisely the kind of long con joke he’d play, in the interest of proving that there’s something I’ll believe, even for just a moment, so instead of freaking immediately, my reaction was to march into the bedroom, intending to throw the waffle at him and call him on his prank. Halfway down the hall it hit me: the waffle was still warm as if it had just come out of the maker. He hadn’t left my sight the entire time. There was no way that it would have still been warm. I turned around and looked for the waffle maker, and it was not only under other small appliances, it was cold. It’s ancient and always takes ages to cool off and it was clear it hadn’t made anything that morning. There was no way to make the waffle and no one to make it. How did it get there?
I can’t think of any rational explanation for this.”

Another story by /u/thehotdogmaker highlights yet another dubious topic of discussion which I plan to address in a future post, reincarnation:

So this happened some years ago when my youngest daughter was 3 years old. She was playing in the living room and my wife and I are watching TV. I notice that she is doing something that she is not supposed to so I tell her to stop ( can’t remember now what she was doing) Anyways, she says “Why?” and I give the usual parent response of, ” Because I am your dad and I said so.” She stops doing the thing and goes back to playing, then,a few minutes later she says, “You know you are not my real dad?” So I think she is being cheeky so I ask, “Oh yeah, then who is your real dad?” She looks confused for a sec then says, “I don’t remember his name, but he was my dad before I came here.” At this point I am interested so I get down on the floor. “Okay, before you were here you were in mommy’s tummy.” I say. She giggles and goes and snuggles into her mom. “No, it was before I was in mommy’s tummy, I was waiting to come here with the other people, but before that I lived in a house with my other mommy and daddy, and I had a sister also…but not sissy.” Here she is referring to my older daughter. At this point my wife joins in, she asks, “So where did your other family live?” My wife is looking at me with a confused look. My daughter says, ” We lived in a house in a city, then the fire came and I tried to get out but I couldn’t open the door so the smoke went in me and I went to sleep. That when I went to wait to come here.” She says this completely nonchalantly and goes back to playing. My wife and I just look at each other totally astonished. We tried to get her to say more but she said it was all she remembered. She has no memory of it now, but she has an intense fear fire and smoke. I will never forget that conversation.

We must ask ourselves what could be the reason for these bizarre occurrences that seem to defy the well-defined laws of physics, time, and other seemingly immutable constraints on reality.  One belief that has gained some following is that we are indeed already living inside a sophisticated computer simulation.  This belief resides in the postulation that any civilization, once advanced to a significant enough degree, will employ simulation technology in order to analyze the behaviors of sentient beings in different environments and situations, the purpose of which would be to identify the most beneficial courses of action for the controlling beings.  In other words, before attempting some drastic alteration in societal norms, for example, they might enact the intended changes on a set of virtual consciousnesses and observe the outcome in order to determine the efficacy of the proposed change.  For any of you who have played games in the Sims franchise, you would have a reasonable, albeit rudimentary, understanding of this concept.  The glitches we encounter, then, are explained by the assertion that we currently reside in a simulated world, and the programmers sometimes make a few observable mistakes.  For some not-so-light reading on the subject, I would recommend checking out this paper on the Simulation Argument.

The Many-Worlds Interpretation and the Mandela Effect

The suggestion above regarding our reality may not be easily accepted by many individuals, and rightly so, since it implies that we are nothing more than fabricated, programmed puppets enacting sequences of complex code, unaware of our masters and acting out an existence of little or no meaning.  Let us then explore a different perspective on reality and the reason for these hiccups in continuity: the Many-Worlds Interpretation.

To simplify an extraordinarily complex and oft-confusing theory, the Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) supposes that we, as we exist at this moment, are merely one of an infinite number of “versions” of our reality.  Some interpretations suppose that each and every choice made by every individual, no matter how seemingly insignificant, spawns an entirely new reality based solely on the outcome of that choice.  Hence, some realities may be nearly indistinguishable from another, save for some minute mutation rendered by the thoughtless choice of a random individual.  Since these realities reside so closely together (think of soap bubbles pressed together, an oft used analogy), it is not uncommon for “slips” to occur between worlds, which is where the Mandela Effect comes into play.

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The Mandela Effect, as defined by the reddit community of the same name,  is described as The phenomenon where a group of people discover that a global fact – one they feel they know to be true and have specific personal memories for – has apparently changed in the world around them.“.   The name is derived from the commonly held recollection by a large portion of the population that iconic personality Nelson Mandela had passed away while imprisoned long before his actual death in December 2013.  The realization of this inconsistency between memory and reality began a period of heightened awareness that accentuated numerous other disparities, some of which I identify with personally.  One example that particularly drew my interest is the apparent change in the name of a popular children’s book series that I, along with MANY other people, noticed since this phenomena came to light.

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As a child born in 1986, I have fond and very distinct memories of reading stories about the escapades of the Berenstein Bears.  Yet when you search online, or anywhere else for that matter, for information on this series, it is listed under the name Berenstain Bears.  This isn’t some change made by the publishers along the way, either; it is purported that the name has always existed as the latter incarnation.  While this may seem to be an inconsequential issue to many, it serves as a prime example of the Mandela Effect – a specific personal memory of a global fact that has apparently changed in the world around us.  There are plentiful examples of similar inconsistencies when one is simply willing to look for them, and it begs the question of whether the assumed persistence of our state of reality is really such a reliable supposition.

Whether the Matrix or Multiverse or Mandela Effect is in play here, one is hard pressed to argue that there isn’t indeed something out of the ordinary occurring to many individuals who call this reality home, myself included.  If we concede the possibility of any of these notions, which in all honesty we can’t rightfully ignore, then we open the door to an infinite number of additional theories for the peculiar and wonderful and terrifying happenings in this ontological persistence.  So do me a favor: forget what you see through the peephole, unfasten the deadbolt, and turn the knob to open the door to the magnificent possibilities that await on the other side of unhindered understanding.  You may find the other side just as fascinating and inviting as I have.

Altered States: Really the Devil’s Playground or just the Next Misunderstood Magic?

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Some fascinating new research has emerged recently on a subject that occupies a station of great controversy in my own mind and also in that of many folks who might be reading this.  For the uncertain: “An altered state of consciousness (ASC), also called altered state of mind or mind alteration, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state.”  I hope that tonight I can offer some cogent point-counterpoint comparisons that will at least get you thinking, since I know I can’t stop.

In some of the previous articles where I cataloged the points presented at Bible Study,  I referenced a general aspect of Christian beliefs that considers altered states of consciousness to be dangerous and something to be avoided at all costs.  Typically, the reason for avoidance is the fact that the participant is willingly leaving themselves open to various types or influence or attack, namely on the spiritual, in some cases demonic level.  Often opponents of the practice will reference hypnosis as an example, where a person relinquishes their will to another individual entirely, without knowing what might be asked of them or to what humiliation they might be subjected.  There are significant factors regarding hypnosis, however, that are contrary to popularly held impressions of the act.  I personally feel that while it isn’t something to be taken lightly or played with, there is a place for hypnosis in a controlled, professional environment, for the purpose of uncovering repressed memories and the like.

So what is the emerging research that has prompted my exposition on this matter?  Imagine, if you will, the implications of being able to “untangle” your brain via the act of removing previously established neuronal connections, essentially returning your brain to the hyper-receptive state that you enjoyed as a newborn.  Doesn’t that sound interesting?  Sounds like it could be used for a myriad of options, like the following:

  • Perhaps learning multiple languages, something that is simple for a child’s brain to adopt, but adults vainly struggle with because their brains have already assigned all the appropriate language pathways in the brain and associated them with familiar sensations.
  • How about being able to think more creatively, having a more uninhibited imagination, or just being able to connect the hypothetical dots more easily?
  • Here’s a tough one: how about being able to once again see or sense something as an adult that you had once seen as a child, but had successfully convinced yourself of its fantastical nature?

Would these shake your perceptions a bit?  I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest, but perhaps a good shaking is exactly what our perceptions need.  By the way, the drug in this case is lysergic acid diethylamide, otherwise known as LSD or acid.  Yep, acid, the big bad wolf of hallucinogens, when its effects are observed and measured scientifically, can actually demonstrate profoundly positive effects.  As stated by Dr Carhart-Harris here: “Normally our brain consists of independent networks that perform separate specialized functions, such as vision, movement and hearing – as well as more complex things like attention. However, under LSD the separateness of these networks breaks down and instead you see a more integrated or unified brain.”  This is one of the major reasons why experimenters with hallucinogens cite a profound connectedness with the world/universe as a major component of their experiences.  Existence as a whole is so incredibly complex and intimidating that our brains have evolved (or been designed) in such a way that they adapt to only the more important and often used types of stimuli.  Rewiring, then, can offer incredible new opportunities in cognition, creativity, and open-mindedness at the expense of some very brief confusion.  Even micro-doses of LSD have been shown to dramatically increase creativity in professionals by intensifying the connection between the visual cortex and other parts of the brain, essentially making the brain more agile and flexible.

LSD isn’t the only method of achieving these types of altered states, however.  There are of course other chemicals, such as psilocybin (found in “magic” mushrooms), MDMA (ecstasy), and DMT (dimethyltryptamine), a naturally occurring compound found in the human body that is theorized to play an important role in thought processing, dreaming and near-death experiences, as well as meditation and out-of-body experiences.  Altered states of consciousness can also be brought about by physiological factors, such as extreme lack of food or sleep, or even chronic conditions that effect mental state, such as epilepsy.  Lastly, dreaming is regularly considered an altered state of consciousness, and lucid states are often linked with subsequent experiences of astral projection (personal experiences here abound, I will expand another time).

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My question then, spurred not only by this but myriad other concerns as well, becomes this: if altered states can occur so readily, either via naturally occurring chemicals or regular physical changes or simple dreaming, why is the assumption of negativity so prevalent?

I want you to stop, just for a single minute, and consider just how little you and I know about everything.  By everything I mean EVERYTHING.  Be honest with yourself about it, this is important.

It wasn’t that long ago that we had no idea what wifi or even electricity was, and just a short stint before that society was burning witches for damn near everything they didn’t understand.  So as smart as we may feel in this enlightened age, this may just be another example of us thinking we now know everything when really we’ve only reached the next step on an endless upward climb.  Perhaps our assumptions about the unknown these days are yet another representation of Arthur C. Clarke’s most poignant words: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

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Here’s a unicorn.  Could be magic, could be a robot, who knows.

Okay, now perform the imagination test again, yet this time consider these things when you do:

  • Perhaps chemicals are a naturally occurring way for us to reacquire the cognitive abilities we once had, and utilizing them might enable us to attain levels of spiritual connection that we have long since lost
  • Maybe abilities such as lucid dreaming, astral projection, remote viewing, and other such frowned-upon things are simply a next step in the evolution of our mental abilities.  Even in the Bible we were promised gifts such as dreams, visions, discernment, etc.; couldn’t these be something of God that we simply don’t fully understand yet?

Biblical scriptures give us incredible wisdom and numerous answers to our everyday quandaries.  Most Christians need to admit, though, that there are questions arising these days to which the Bible may not have exact answers, only guidelines.  As long as I continue to observe this marked divide between spirituality according to Biblical scripture and the scientific understanding of our universe and its quirks, I will continue to pursue evolving answers with my God and understanding of the new tools that might be at our disposal.

In other words, JARED SMASH! 😉

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Bugging Out on a Budget, part 2

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I am happy to report that I was able to fit in making another episode of Bugging Out on a Budget this past week before I lost my voice completely.  Let me explain… unfortunately what was a relatively minor cold earlier in the week has now blossomed into full-blown bronchitis and I can’t sleep due to the coughing. 😦  So I have opted to put my bleary-eyed time to good use by getting this posted, before I attempt to catch some winks again.  Please enjoy the next round of demonstrations and discussions for my most recently purchased products, and absolutely leave me more feedback!  I am still just getting this thing off the ground and doing the best with what I have, and your advice and input can go a long way in helping me provide even more quality content.  For example, I did obtain and utilize a tripod for recording this time, so my poor wife didn’t have to try to remain motionless for another 15 minute video (bless her heart for being willing to do the first one!).

In this video, I have also addressed some questions and suggestions I’ve received from viewers, and will continue to do so as appropriate.  One viewer from the Bugout community on reddit mentioned that the bag I chose to purchase, shown in my previous video, has some issues with comfort and usability.  I won’t be able to fully comment on these concerns until I’ve had a chance to take the bag on a decent excursion, but for now I can at least demonstrate what the bag looks like full, and how it fits on my body.

Here is the bag fully stocked with all the essentials I’ve shown in my videos.  It handled everything with some room to spare, and it was easy to organize things by frequency and urgency of use.  I helped maintain a solid flat surface on the side that rests on my back by first inserting my folded shelter tarp into the bag pressed against the very back, and then packing in other items around it to keep it in place.  Since this bag doesn’t have a frame, arranging your contents like this can help provide some added comfort.

Overall I am happy with the feel of this pack, but as I said I will need to put it through some rigorous endurance testing to be able to fully judge its efficacy.  The weight feels pretty evenly distributed, with no noticeable pressure points or areas of discomfort.  The adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist straps provide a high degree of customization to the fit of this pack.  I am a sturdy 6’0″ and just shy of 200 pound man, though, so I can only assess its comfort and portability according to my standards. 😉  I thoroughly hope that it turns out to be a great bag, since that wonderful $30 price point is just so darn hard to turn down.

Thanks again for reading and watching, and I hope you’ll keep coming by to see what I’m SMASHING next!  🙂

Taking Care of Yourself – Food and Exercise

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It’s been hard to think of how I want to start this one, because much of it seems like it would pretty straightforward to many people.  I realized, however, that their might be specific tips I can share that have worked for me, even if they are from other sources (which I will recognize if they are), to help you in being healthy as a form of preparedness.

One of the first things that I learned several years ago is to learn how to cook for myself.  Not only will having this skill save you an immense amount of money (trust me, it adds up) on fast food and such every week, but you can find yourself eating more nutritious things, and you can impress your significant other with your new-found culinary prowess (it works, again I speak from experience).  Learning how to cook in a comfortable setting can also give you insight into details that will be of critical importance in survival settings, such as how to properly cook different kinds of meat to a safe temperature (in case you didn’t know, it’s here).  These details can mean life or death in, well, life or death situations.  …Stupid easy phrase that doesn’t have a simple, comparable replacement… 😛

For the time being, until SHTF (S…tuff Hits The Fan, for the uninitiated), there are things we can do to make our lives easier and incorporate a more healthy diet without significant effort.  Today I’m going to show you my recipe for a week’s worth of breakfasts that is healthy, tasty, and saves a great deal of time by getting everything prepped on Sunday night.  Once you get in the habit of doing something like this, is becomes easier and easier, and you see just how much benefit it has in your day to day life.  Do like me, throw on a pair of headphones, and watch your favorite shows while you cook!  I have kept up with SO many shows just by incorporating my headphones and tablet into my routine of responsibilities. 🙂

In the following pictures, I will be using these ingredients: olive oil, diced garlic, whole grain white rice, bell peppers (different colors), organic white mushrooms, sweet onion, shredded cheese, a large egg (white or brown), seasonings to taste.  No more than a total of $15 for the entire week, much cheaper and healthier than fast food breakfast or even cereal every day.

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First, after heating a bit of olive oil and diced garlic in the pan, dice and saute a whole onion, 2-3 medium bell peppers, and a 16 ounce package of organic sliced mushrooms with a few splashes of low sodium soy sauce and worchestershire sauce.  These amounts can be altered according to your taste, and you can even substitute different vegetables as you like, provided they mix and saute well with the others.  Be creative!  This is the healthiest part of the mix, though, so try to keep it in the veggie spectrum. 🙂

At the same time, cook a large batch of rice.  Rice cookers are awesome and you should invest in one NOW.  It’s ridiculously cheaper to own a rice cooker and buy rice in bulk than to buy any of those minute rice bags or anything.  Once the batch is cooked, fill several containers with roughly 1/2 cup of rice each, and prepare for the rest (I like Chinese food containers because they are sorta free and hold a good amount for a single meal).

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Top the rice with the veggie stir fry you made earlier, as shown below:

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Now you can see that I have five breakfasts prepared for the week ahead.  In addition, I supplement each dish with a couple extras: one large egg (which I crack open on top and heat in the microwave at work to cook the egg), a container of shredded cheese (I freakin’ love cheese, and in moderation it’s really not bad for you), and a to-go container of Sriracha (I put it on EVERYTHING, so breakfast is no exception.  Yes, that is a keychain Sriracha bottle, I have a problem).

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These small supplement containers are convenient because most of the time they can just be refilled each day without the need for extensive cleaning.  Keep an eye on them, though; wouldn’t want to contract a food-borne illness because yesterday’s egg had accidentally cracked open and wasn’t cleaned.

Now I have breakfast figured out for every day of the week ahead of me, and that saves immense amounts of time in the morning, just as preparing everything else the night before does (read: lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, etc.).  Practicing habits that require forethought like this are great ways to manage your awareness and preparedness.

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Another factor of survival that has become apparent during my study is the importance of staying in decent physical shape.  Even though my main job entails working at a computer, as a Christian I have striven to maintain reliable physical performance in order to aid those around me.  All the preparation in the world isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t fight off or outrun your threat, though.  Sure, you might have five safes full of guns, but what happens when you can’t immediately get to one and you are faced with a physical struggle to survive?  You need to prepare yourself on all fronts.

Basic cardio is a must, and makes the top of the list in regards to preparation.  As much as you might like to put your time into pumping up your muscles and looking intimidating, that’s about as much good as it will be for you in a life or death scenario.  The better option is to focus on activities that require lengthy periods of physical exertion, such as running in particular.  I know running isn’t many people’s favorite physical activity, but it’s one of the core things to practice.  There may come a time where the only thing you can rely upon is your own body, and you want to make sure that it is a vehicle that can sustain you for whatever journey you face.  Big muscles, while periodically useful, aren’t necessarily going to help you survive every one of these situations.  I used to do P90X routines for my workouts, but I focused too much on the muscle-building portions, while shrugging off the cardio, plyometrics, and other such workouts on a regular basis.  I built a decent muscle base over time, but realized when I tried to go for a run that I had hardly any endurance for long-distance cardio activities.  This is a dangerous position to be in, and I immediately changed my focus to the exercises that are most important for survival.  A raider or zombie isn’t going to care how ripped you are, but how fast and agile you are might just make a real difference!

In closing, do whatever it takes to get some serious cardio routines going.  Not everybody likes running (I understand, but it grows on you), so start with cycling, rowing, or something else that suits your fancy if you must.  Just be sure to test yourself regularly to ensure that you are up to the challenge of the strange things that might come your way.  Personally, I will be participating in the Rugged Manic race in May, which is a 5k obstacle course.  In addition to being heaps of fun, these things can be a great way to gauge how equipped you are able to handle some extreme activity.  Give it a shot if you are unsure, and it may just be a wake-up call for your life!