Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Little Universe rates Top 3 out of 120 books

Very honored to hear author and book reviewer, Jess Buike, has rated The Little Universe in her top 3 picks out of 120 books read during 2011.
When her original review came out, I thought it represented the novel very well. For those interested in Jess Buike's original review, see it here - http://authorjess.blogspot.com/2011/09/recommended-read-little-universe-by.html
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

How Big is The Universe?


The other day my daughter asked, "How big is the universe?"
Wow, a simple question to ask yet a really tough question to answer. I told her the universe is so enormously huge that it's beyond my comprehension to understand it even though I can describe it in gigantic measures of distance, like light years. It's strange to think of distance as light and its speed of travel, but there's no other way to do it. To try and define the size of the universe in miles would make the numbers so enormous it wouldn't make any more sense than saying it's a gazillion miles across in diameter.
I told my daughter, "Let's start simple." The distance of our solar system from our Sun at the center to the furthest planet (arguably Neptune or Pluto) is roughly 30 AU (astronomical units). Comparatively, Earth is just one AU or about 93 million miles from the sun. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second or 700 million miles per hour. Light takes eight minutes to go from the sun to the Earth and about five hours to reach Pluto.
Now, this is just our solar system which resides in the Milky Way Galaxy. How big is that? The Milky Way Galaxy contains an estimated 300 billion stars (like our sun) inside it and is about 100,000 light years across in diameter. Remember that a light year is not a time but a distance; it's how far light travels in an entire year. So if you made a large flash of light at one end of the Milky Way, that light would travel for 100,000 years before someone on the other side would see it. Even though we're just talking about the size of our Milky Way Galaxy, these kinds of numbers already perplex my brain. YouTube video on right from gohepcat.

But still, this is just the distance for our local galaxy. The universe has an estimated 300 billion galaxies, some similar to our Milky Way and some very different. Recent guesses by top astronomers say the universe is over 100 billion light years across. And yes, trying to understand how light could travel for 100 billion years is beyond the scope of my comprehension. Especially when the universe itself is estimated to be around 14 billion years old since the Big Bang theoretically occurred.
My daughter asked, "If the universe is 14 billion years old, then how can it be 100 billion light years across?"
My answer was, "You're right. That doesn't make any sense to me either. Have some more Cheerios." Smart kid.

What are your thoughts?
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Kickers in the NFL 1966 to 2016-17: Final Prejudice or Rarest Athlete?


Why are there no black kickers in the NFL, a league that's long been dominated by African American players?

This may be the most perplexing sports question of all time. The NFL is in its 51st season of the Super Bowl era with 32 current teams (post updated Sept. 2016).

Since the Super Bowl era began, about 60% of all NFL players have been black. Of the approximately 1,450 team roster spots for kickers during that time, only 14 spots have been held by 5 black kickers.

Incredibly, just 5 black kickers have played since the 1966-67 season. Gene Mingo kicked for the '67 Dolphins and Redskins plus the Steelers for '69-'70. Donald Igweibuike kicked for the Buccaneers '85-'89 and Vikings in '90. Obed Ariri played one season for both the Bucs '84 and Redskins '87. Then there was Cedric Oglesby (Cardinals '01) and most recently Justin Medlock (Chiefs '07 and Panthers '12).

5 kickers with brief careers (except Mingo if you factor in 1960-'66).
This does not include Chad Johnson's preseason extra point in 2009. It also does not include Lonnie Perrin, who did part-time kickoff duty for Denver (1976-'78) and Washington ('79) but did not attempt any known field goals in the NFL (added via comments).

To keep it simple due to over 90 years of NFL history with major civil rights issues for some of that time, look at the phenomena from the beginning of the Super Bowl era until now, or from the 1966-67 season until 2016-17. That means this conversation post-dates Cookie Gilchrist, who primarily played fullback and never kicked field goals or PATs beyond 1962.

Also note that place-kicking and punting are different positions. Though this post is on kicking, the number of black punters in NFL history is almost as bizarre in rarity. ESPN's Scott Ostler said, "Equally few African American punters have secured regular-season NFL jobs -- most notably Greg Coleman and the late Reggie Roby, who between them kicked for seven different NFL teams over 12- and 16-year careers, respectively. (After this quote came out, Marquette King has been punting for the Oakland Raiders.)

This is how the NFL, including both the AFL and NFL from 1966-70 and the NFL since, has expanded from 24 teams to 32:

1966 - 24 teams
1967 - 25 teams
1968 - 26 teams (1970 AFL and NFL merged to NFL)
1976 - 28 teams
1995 - 30 teams
1999 - 31 teams
2002 - 32 teams

The minimum number of kickers needed, assuming just one kicker per team per year, for this 51 year period would be (24)+(25)+(26*8)+(28*19)+(30*4)+(31*3)+(32*14) = 1,450 kickers. This does not mean that many have played, just that there have been 1,450 team roster spots for kickers for those years.

If roughly half all NFL players have been black, one might assume about half, or 725, of the kicking spots would be held by black players. The odds of having so few are astronomical. It's like flipping a coin 1,450 times and having it land on tails only 14 times. The math is mind-boggling. Like quantum physics, it doesn't make sense to anyone who truly understands it.

There once was a day when hardly any QBs were black. Those days are long gone thankfully. Then there were few head coaches but fortunately that's changed too; there were 7 black head coaches in the NFL in 2011 alone. So what gives with the kickers? What can really explain this anomaly?

Here are some arguments I've heard:

1. Black athletes don't want to play kicker. Hey, some athletes want to play the game, period. If they can't make the team at receiver, linebacker or another position, they might try for kicker or punter if they have talent. Some people actually take pride in kicking.

2. Kickers don't get any respect. Historically kickers have been smaller or less athletic than other players, though it's ridiculous not to respect the kicker. It's how the game starts and often how it ends. Every team wants a strong kicker for the option of long field goals. The job has major pressure and importance in the biggest games. If kickers still don't get respect, then there is something wrong with the mindset of NFL players, fans and coaches. And even yet, how would a lack of respect separate the races for a job?

3. Kickers don't make good money in the NFL. This used to be truer decades ago than it is today. In comparison to how much the other positions made on average, yes, kickers often made less. To a lot of people, a median average salary of over a million dollars is perceived as "good money." Sebastian Janikowski signed a 4 year, $15 million contract with the Raiders. Stephen Gostkowski signed with the Patriots for even more at $17 million. Even way back in 1967 the average kicker pay was $9,700 (about half that of the other positions) which was still decent money for a part-time job.


4. Most of the kickers played soccer first. Blacks don't play soccer. Again, this used to be truer decades ago but isn't true anymore. Approx. 22% of the MLS is black. Many stars on the US Men's National team are or have been African Americans, including Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Gyasi Zardes and others. Additionally, many kickers come from foreign countries, where soccer is king and played by millions of black kids. Donald Igwebuke and Obed Ariri came from Nigeria, but why haven't others? African nations are full of soccer players as well as Brazil, Columbia, England, France, Germany and more. Why haven't more of these kids come to the NFL or been recruited?

5. Kickers aren't seen as that important. This is similar to the respect thing but goes even deeper and is even more ridiculous. Kickers make up the bulk of the all-time leading scorers. The top 34 leading scorers in NFL history played as place kickers. The highest scoring non-kicker of all time is Jerry Rice at #35 with 1,256 points. After Rice, Emmitt Smith is #50 as the second highest non-kicker with 1,052 points. Sounds like a pretty important position if the way to win the game is to score more points than the opponent.



It's not my intention to offend anyone; it just seems to be the biggest anomaly in sports. Whether this has to do with a deep, hidden and perhaps subconscious agenda to keep kickers white by players and coaches, then that's a strange possibility. Sounds bizarre but not the worst theory on why this has happened.

This trend is probably about to end, especially with more black kids playing soccer and higher salaries and respect for kickers. There's no reason we can't have more. The kids out there certainly can do it.

What do you think? Leave a comment.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Recent Reviews for The Little Universe

The Little Universe by Jason Matthews
Some recent reviews have come in from review bloggers, authors and readers for The Little Universe.

"Not only is the plot based on a brilliant and original concept, it is well crafted, tightly paced and beautifully written"- Charlotte Abel, author of Enchantment.

"This was quite an inventive story. I don't know how realistic the science was (don't worry, the author kept it very simple), but it made for a marvelous story." - Jim Chambers, Red Adept Reviews

"So different from most other science fiction - this book goes beyond the norm and looks at important Mind/body/Spirit issues in a science fiction setting. Folks wanting the normal kind of shoot-em up with rayguns SF (basically a cowboy yarn in a futuristic setting) will be disappointed. This book has SOMETHING TO SAY. It is not a religious rant. But it does deal with spiritual issues." - Tui Allen, author of Ripple.

"One intriguing aspect of the story is the ability of the scientists to monitor anything in their entire universe, to 'zoom in' on individuals on any planet anywhere." - David Rubenstein, http://www.wonderful-music.com

"The Little Universe is one of those rare books, light enough on the surface to be a fun summer read, but deep enough to keep you thinking about it long after you've turned the last page. The story is absolutely fascinating, one of my new favorite science fiction books." - PT Cruiser, top 50 Amazon Reviewer.

"The story is a blend of science, romance, and spirituality - unlike many books of this nature, it was never 'preachy' or condescending... A surprising twist toward the end! I found myself thinking a lot about the book after I finished it." - ForeverAloe, Amazon reader

"I hate giving spoilers, so I will just say that there is a fun "stunner" three-quarters of the way through the book that will shock you - I usually can tell what will happen ahead of time, but this book actually surprised me!" - Jess Buike, author and review blogger

"Inter-weaved with the scientific are the spiritual, metaphysical queries of life as well: What is consciousness? Can it transcend matter, distance, and time? Is there a higher evolutionary position we are all destined to arrive at--individually and collectively? Is life intended to be more? These are some of the questions underlying the themes of this unique work." - G.F. Smith, author of SUBJECTED: Eye of God (book 1), Parallax (book 2) and the Predicate (book 3)
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Thursday, October 06, 2011

NFL Players Life Expectancy Might Be Longer Than Experts Say

(updated Sept. 2014)
There appears to be exaggeration that NFL players have a life expectancy of around 55 years, a full 21 years sooner than the average US man. The reports are alarming to say the least, and possibly misleading when you look at life spans of players from recent decades: men who played with less protective gear, less concern for head injuries and fewer rules dedicated to player's safety.

Extreme events have brought the issue center stage. Was obesity a factor in the death of 27 year old, 355 lb Korey Stringer, an offensive lineman for the Vikings who died following a heat stroke during summer practices? Or what about Hall of Famer Reggie White, who was just 43 and died of cardiac arrhythmia? Those tragedies and others got people's attention. Many articles make startling claims that life expectancy for NFL players is around 51 to 58. If you dig at all, quotes such as these are readily available:

"...men who play five or more years in the NFL have a life expectancy of 55... For linemen, perhaps due to their size, the life expectancy is 52." -http://www.nowpublic.com/sports/average-lifespan-football-player-52

"...a violent sport characterized by startling low life-expectancy rates, depending on playing position, of 53 to 59." -http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/New-NFL-goal-A-longer-life-1272886.php

"While U.S. life expectancy is 77.6 years, recent studies suggest the average for NFL players is 55, 52 for linemen." -http://www.sptimes.com/2006/01/29/Sports/A_huge_problem.shtml

The CFL Players Association reported this: 

"The average life expectancy for all pro football players, including all positions and backgrounds, is 55 years. Several insurance carriers say it is 51 years.”

Recognize the difference between life span and expectancy. Life span is how long people actually lived based on numbers after death. Life expectancy is how long experts think people will live, an estimate based on data and opinions. My research suggests the experts are exaggerating and raising concern for the general good of focusing on better health and a safer game (e.g. less obesity and not leading with the helmet). But shouldn't known life spans of NFL players over recent decades be taken into account when predicting life expectancy? Certainly that data must relate to today's predictions.

Football is a dangerous sport with pressures to continually be bigger, stronger and faster. Players push their bodies to the limits to make the grade at practice and in games. Many ex-players suffer from a range of ailments including concussions, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, knee/back/hip problems, neck and spinal cord issues, memory loss, dementia and other things. This report makes no intention of down-playing the physical and even emotional risks of football, especially in the NFL. I also recognize that players are larger and (often) more obese today than a few decades ago. This report only serves to offer some balance to several studies that may have exaggerated how low the life expectancy is for NFL players.

Let's factor in results of known life span with predicted life expectancy. For this study, examine the rosters from Super Bowl winners, the most battle-tested NFL players. In a random pick of three teams that represent a cross-section of America, look at the 1971 Dallas Cowboys, the 1981 San Francisco 49ers and the 1986 New York Giants. Look for a sign from these players' life spans, and presumably life expectancies, to see if today's dark picture shows up as evidence that was brewing in the past.

The 1971-72 Dallas Cowboys were champions of Super Bowl VI. Some of the famous players then and now include Roger Staubach, Calvin Hill, Dan Reeves, Mike Ditka, Bob Lilly and Charlie Waters. Of the 45 players on the roster, here are some interesting facts:
  • 4 have died, 41 are still alive. (91% are living as of Sept. 2014)
  • Average age of the 4 deceased players is 56.
  • Average age of those living, 70. 
  • Positions of deceased: Receiver, Defensive End, Linebacker, Kicker.
  • The players had a 16 year age range. Those alive are 64 to 80.
  • Average life span if every living player suddenly died today would be 69.
  • Average life span if average living player lives 10 more years would be 78.
  • Average life span for US men is 76.
  • Average weight of '71 starting Cowboys offensive line, 253 lbs. For 2014, 318 lbs (gain of 26%).
  • Average height of '71 starting offensive line, 6'4". 2014, 6'4".
The 1981-82 San Francisco 49ers were champions of Super Bowl XVI. Some of the famous players then and now include Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Freddie Solomon, Keena Turner and Ronnie Lott. Of the 45 players on the roster (not including the reserves), here are some interesting facts:
  • 3 have died, 42 are still alive. (93% are living as of Sept. 2014)
  • Average age of the 3 deceased players is 53.
  • Average age of those living, 58. 
  • Positions of deceased: Receiver, Running Back, Offensive Guard. 
  • The players had a 12 year age range. Those alive are 54 to 66.
  • Average life span if every living player suddenly died today would be 58.
  • Average life span if average living player lives about 20 more years would be 78.
  • Average life span for US men is 76.
  • Average weight of '81 49ers starting offensive line, 261 lbs. For 2014, 315 lbs (gain of 21%).
  • Average height of '81 starting offensive line, 6'4". 2014, 6'5".
The 1986-7 New York Giants were champions of Super Bowl XXI. Some of the famous players then and now include Phil Simms, Joe Morris, Mark Bavaro, Lawrence Taylor, Pepper Johnson and Jim Burt. Of the 47 players on the roster (not counting the 5 punter-kickers), here are some interesting facts:
  • 1 has died, 46 are still alive. (98% are living as of Sept. 2014)
  • Position of deceased: Receiver.
  • The players have a 13 year age range of 48 to 61.
  • Average current age is 53.
  • Average weight of '86 Giants starting offensive line, 270 lbs. For 2014, 308 lbs (gain of 14%).
  • Average height of '86 starting offensive line, 6'4". 2014, 6'4".
Players from the recent past appear to have a close to normal life expectancy. Since height has stayed the same over the years, the thing responsible for recent concern is the increase in weight. Remember, some of that gain must be muscle while much appears to be fat. Since we know offensive linemen are the group with the most concern--I see no need to discuss many other positions, especially the speed positions like wide-receiver and secondary (other than to say I can't believe a wide-receiver or secondary player in the NFL is expected on average to only live to 58). If offensive linemen of 2014 are approximately 14-26% heavier than the men of the 70's and 80's, perhaps a quarter of that extra weight is muscle. It's a rough estimate, but perhaps the linemen today are about 10-20% fatter than they were 15 years ago and about 10% more muscular.

If players are roughly 10-20% fatter, are they really predicted to miss about 20 years of life? What about the prospects of losing weight, like Mark Schlereth, an offensive lineman from 1989 to 2000 for three Super Bowl Champions (twice with Broncos, once with Redskins)? Schlereth played around 287 lbs but now weighs 230 lbs at age 48. He looks fantastic, like he'll be alive far beyond 10 or 20 years from now.

It appears the main way to fulfill the 55 year life expectancy, is to not lose any weight after retirement and even to add more, which men commonly do as they age. This is an opinionated scenario, especially in a time with ever increased public awareness and scrutiny for good health habits. Perhaps this is my main beef with the recent studies, the perceived assumption that bad habits will remain and good health habits won't come into play.

Skeptics of my rational will immediately point out the time-lines involved, that even at the high school level today many players tip the 300 lb mark. In the 70's and 80's, NFL players over 300 lbs were rare. Today, nearly every NFL offensive lineman is over 300 lbs, many NFL defensive linemen are as well, and so are some high school players. This creates a longer time-line of obesity along with a more difficult job of losing the weight later; all of which are tougher on the heart and vital body organs.

Another example of a recently retired lineman with many eyes watching is Tony Siragusa (pictured right), who played 12 seasons as a defensive lineman and is now 47. His weight when he played was notoriously around 350 lbs. I haven't found stats on his weight since, but he appears not to have lost as much as Schlereth. Siragusa may likely become a poster boy for this entire issue. We'll wish him the best on that.

Nate Newton is another player who comes to mind. It's reported Newton weighed as much as 400 pounds before "vertical gastrectomy" was performed to surgically remove weight. He's currently around 220 lbs at age 52, and probably increased his odds at living to be 76 by a huge amount. This brings another question into the mix; how might modern medicine and procedures of the future affect weight loss? What if nutritionists develop fat-eating enzymes that can go through our bodies eating excessive fat and leaving us far healthier in a matter of weeks or months? Sounds like science fiction, but it might not be too far away with modern medical breakthroughs.

Clearly it's the rise in obesity rates, especially with linemen, that have the experts concerned. I believe they're painting a darker picture than what reality likely is, thinking it's in the best interest of people to take a hard look at a dangerous trend in football. If their dire predictions are true, then we should see players from the 80's dying off in bunches very soon, men in their late 50's and 60's who weren't much thinner than today's players and had fewer rules for physical safety.

Other questions that we're not getting to--what about athletes like basketball stars, Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis, people in perfect shape who died in the prime of their careers from heart related issues? What about sumo wrestlers in Japan who reportedly live to be mid-sixties with even higher rates of obesity than offensive linemen and are encouraged to drink heavily to gain all that weight? And perhaps most importantly, what about all the health benefits of playing football, which include a lifetime of consistent exercise, stretching and increased attention (now more than ever) for taking care of the body? Might those benefits balance some of the risks?

We recently saw the passing of famous football greats, Deacon Jones (74), Alex Karass (77) and Pat Summerall (82). These legends had an average of 78 years between them. Not bad for men who played without as much protective gear, concern for head injuries or refs and rules dedicated to player's safety.

Admittedly, I'm just someone willing to do basic research to satisfy a personal curiosity. NFL football players may live abnormal lives, but recent decades have shown they live fairly normal life spans as a whole. Do many of them have complications from years of playing a physically demanding and punishing sport? Of course. Do many of them, especially linemen, show an abnormal increase in weight gain over the past decades that is a health concern? Of course, that's also true. But that's not the only point of this article. The point is this: it seems hard to quantify that NFL players have a life expectancy of just 51 to 58, with linemen being around 52. That appears to be a gross exaggeration not supported by recent decades, even if it's for a good cause.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book That Thing! Review of The Little Universe

Book that Thing! is a review blog hosted by Saskia Kanstinger, who just did my book the honor of a thorough review. Here it is below, or you may visit Book that Thing! to keep up to date with the latest reviews there.

The Little Universe by Jason Matthews
Jason Matthews - The Little Universe
This copy was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. (Available at all major retailers as a paperback and ebook.) 
Kindle Edition, published June 16th, 2011


What defines a loser? Jon Gruber wonders if it’s him. He’s an unmarried carpenter without a car. Do I even need to mention he’s over 30? Maybe meeting Webster Adams is a blessing, for the astronomer gives Jon a new outlook on life. He’s a brilliant inventor trying to create a universe in miniature form. Against all odds the experiment works and a journey of wonder and discovery begins. Who created our universe? Does God exist? Just like the little universe and all the questions that arise, Webster’s daughter Whitney intrigues, yet confuses Jon from the get go. He finds himself not sure of anything except the need to see this through.
Ever had a hard time writing a review? I’m raising my hand. Just saying! The Little Universe isn’t something I would’ve picked up on my own. In fact, I probably would’ve steered clear of it for no apparent reason (other than not being able to put it into a category). However, the author offered me a review copy. I had a slot open and thought it’d be a great idea to try something a little – make that a lot – different. Something I’ve never read before. This particular phrase is used often, but I mean it. I have never read a book like this. Let’s find out if that turned out to be a good thing, shall we?! A quote that came to mind: “Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.” (Mike Ditka)
There’s absolutely nothing I can criticize when it comes to the writing. Matthews knows his craft. Dare I say better than most? It’s true. The writing was superb. I loved the subtle changes that occurred whenever the situation warranted it. Thus depending on the circumstances the writing took on a slightly different tone. For example Webster’s journal entries or Jon in his work environment versus Jon after hours. Taking the plot’s complexity into consideration it definitely acted as a safety network. A story that had me pondering various issues; a story that raised so many questions - it simply couldn’t have worked had the writing been sloppy.
The character I connected with the most was Jim. Now, this might sound strange, for Jim’s a computer. Sorry, Jim! I know you don’t like being called a computer. In my opinion he was the one constant throughout the book. Jim was aware that his free will was only free within his confines. One could argue it shouldn’t be called a free will after all, but I won’t get into this now. My point is that he stayed true to himself. He used every opportunity to learn and every loophole that allowed him to break through the confines of his habitat. Of course, this wasn’t always possible. He wished for dreams to come true just as a human being would. Funny enough, I was annoyed by pretty much all of them at one point except by Jim. Don’t get me wrong, the others had their allure as well. I focused on the outcome of their experiment. Not as a whole, instead I was especially interested in what it would mean for each person involved.
No doubt about it, the plot was character driven. Then again, the recreation of the Big Bang can only be labeled point of reference. The character development was hugely dependent on the experiment. The little universe affected not only Jon, but also Webster, his daughter Whitney and their two colleagues in ways I found both fascinating and dangerous. Jon and Webster couldn’t have been more different. That’s probably why Webster had no problem letting Jon in on his secret. A very interesting dynamic. I loved it! Similar to the intelligent life they discovered. While Whitney realized the importance of other aspects of these people’s everyday lives, Webster and the colleagues almost exclusively limited themselves to their technological progress. Two different views made for a beneficial tension.
Science fiction with a splash of philosophy. Shaken not stirred!
I’m not religious. I don’t believe in God. However, I’m more than open to the possibility that there’s something out there I could believe in. For the time being I’m the sole master of my universe. Okay, maybe not the sole master. Society’s moral code and all. I obviously didn’t raise myself either. Hey mom and dad! I don’t know if the author intended to send a specific message – an answer to the most pressing question carrying the plot. Does God exist? If he should wish for my answer to be yes after reading the book I’m sorry to disappoint. To me, the beauty of the story was the lack of a convincing answer. Fear not! There was an aspect of the story I agree with a hundred percent. Money makes the world (the little universe that is) go round. Behind all this - the philosophical elements, the religious undertone, the imagination running wild - stood one big whopper of a condition: The economic interests. No funds, no story to tell. Kudos to the author for realizing that!
What didn’t work for me?
More emphasis should’ve been put on the fact that progress of any kind has a healthy pace that was discarded by the success of Webster’s experiment.
The ending, too, rubbed me the wrong way. I found the state and place of mind Webster ended up in absolutely unacceptable. It sent the wrong message, for it was not something to be happy about. Sometimes a wish simply shouldn’t be fulfilled. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean one should do it. Also, I would’ve bought into a connection between Whitney and Jon if it hadn’t been for the random involvement with another female character. I know what the author wanted to achieve with the conflict (Jon’s confusion). It didn’t work. This resulted in the main plot line being dragged along, rather than staying the main focus. For about a hundred pages or so I was waiting for something essential to happen. Unfortunately the drought lasted too long for comfort. I wanted to skip the pages. It felt like Matthews wandered from the path for the same reason Webster did what he did. Simply because he could, not because it was the right thing to do. A mind-boggling read that lost its center for a time. Where there’s a storm, there must be an eye of the storm. Despite its flaws, you should give this book a shot. I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. 3 stars to The Little Universe by Jason Matthews!


Beware of Spoilers!
A few of my favorite quotes for those of you who are interested:
° “It was my first conversation with a computer, and I felt a little awkward about what to say.”
° “If I can create a universe…then what does it say about who created ours?”
° “The more he studied the universe, the more complex it remained. He realized he was just one person on a little planet drifting in a cosmic ocean without a guide.”
° “Religion is a mythical history used by primitive people to explain the world and heavens…”
° “I needed a reality check from the lab…”
° “You are the creator and the creation. You are the director and the actor and the play.”

Thank you, Saskia. Your review was thoughtful and thorough!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Extreme Skiing and Psychedelic Mushrooms: The Art of Chasing Fear

There's a new and free short story ebook called Extreme Skiing and Psychedelic Mushrooms: The Art of Chasing Fear. It's based on a true story from my life with one or two dramatic licenses added, almost entirely based on actual events from a day in 1992 that etched itself in memory due to many factors.
This is a short story of 8,522 words and involves co-workers/friends at a ski area pushing their limits. It also involves fear of the known and unknown, and attempting to get past fear whether it's a physical boundary, a sexual desire or a complex psychological entity.
Like the title indicates, there are psychedelic mushrooms involved with extreme skiing in the backcountry, so if that sounds like something you might enjoy, please check it out.
It's freely available at Smashwords in every ebook format - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91204 and also at Scribd - http://www.scribd.com/doc/66073604/Extreme-Skiing-and-Psychedelic-Mushrooms-The-Art-of-Chasing-Fear as a pdf file.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Edgar Cayce's Psychic Teachings Missing Link to New Age Novel

Back in 2000-2005 when writing The Little Universe, I knew the most incredible discovery of the science project (the universe generator) would be from planet Theta and its people. The Thetans were to be a source of profound knowledge, so deep that they'd be able to answer any question imaginable. At the time, this concept was pretty overwhelming for a young author who didn't want to presume knowledge about life's biggest questions. Fortunately, that's when I stumbled into the readings of Edgar Cayce and found spiritual lessons much in line with the doctrines of the greatest teachers in history and even beyond (in my opinion). Those readings became the perfect voice for The Grandmother and other Thetans mentioned in the story, which enabled me to finish the novel.
If you're not familiar with Edgar Cayce, he's arguably the most famous recorded psychic in history with over 14,000 documented readings. He was born in rural Kentucky and lived from 1877-1945. He's been called "the sleeping prophet" and without any schooling past the 6th grade, he had his greatest success helping others with medical/physical ailments as well as spiritual lessons. You might find this YouTube video of him fascinating. There's loads more on him at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.).

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Jana Matthews Runs Around Lake Tahoe

Jana Matthews runs around Lake Tahoe
My lovely wife, Jana Matthews, just ran around Lake Tahoe. That's right, all the way around, and it's a big lake if you haven't heard. 72 miles around the perimeter, not an easy run. Okay, so it was more of a very brisk walk than actually running, but it's still pretty impressive if you ask me, not some walk in the park that any joker could do. It took her many days, enduring all kinds of weather conditions like sunny, party cloudy, mostly cloudy and partly sunny. As you can see many people began the journey. (They're represented by all the masses of humanity on the left of the picture.)

Jana Matthews pink cutout



But very few made it the entire way. Approximately four and there were also a couple that turned around and went back, but they're not pictured for showing off. Weather could have played a factor for those that couldn't rise to the challenge, not to mention the vastness of what 72 miles really means. Oh sure, it's easy to say, "I think I'll go walk around Lake Tahoe," but it's another thing to actually do it. It's like starting a New Year's Day resolution and being pretty good about it for, like the first few days, and then just going back to those old, lazy routines. But not Jana; she's got determination and follow-through.
Jana Matthews pink cutout



Just in case you think I'm fibbing, here's a close-up of Jana at the finish line where California meets Nevada and people like to gamble away their hard-earned money. She's the pink one on top. Yeah, the picture's a little fuzzy, but that's really her. I know what you're probably thinking, how could you be married to a little piece of paper? But I don't see it that way. I love her for who she is inside, and that's a very special being who just happened to walk around Lake Tahoe. Go girl!




Jana Matthews




Hah, had you going there for a minute. She's really real. And I'm a lucky guy, not some schmuck married to a little piece of pink paper. Besides, paper cut-outs can't really walk around Lake Tahoe anyway. But Jana can-a.

Nice going, babe. I love you.






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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Author Jess Buike Reviews The Little Universe

Very pleased to see this recent review of The Little Universe by author and reviewer, Jess Buike. Just my opinion, but she really nailed it. This review can also be seen as her website, http://authorjess.blogspot.com/.

 

The Little Universe
Author Jess Buike's rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though touted as a "spiritual novel," this book really can appeal to all people interested in existentialism, evolution, creationism, sci-fi, science, and more!

Imagine being able to create a self-contained universe in a room, and being able to monitor how it evolves and changes throughout millions of years while you are only experiencing days - that is the intriguing concept behind this book. Would you want to learn more about spirituality? Or scientific advancement? Or human nature? Evolution? Something else?

All those views are held by the various scientists and staff working on this large project. As a reader, you are drawn in and asked to examine your own beliefs about life and what true advancement as a race really looks like.

The characters are remarkably developed, and feel like they could be someone in your own life. The situation is made more believable by the in-depth use of scientific explanations - but they are all written in everyday language so that you don't have to be a scientist to understand what is happening.

I hate giving spoilers, so I will just say that there is a fun "stunner" three-quarters of the way through the book that will shock you - I usually can tell what will happen ahead of time, but this book actually surprised me!

Overall, this is beautifully written and well worth the read.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Last day to Enter The Little Universe Goodreads Giveaway

Today is the final day to enter The Little Universe giveaway at Goodreads. As an author trying this for the first time, it's already been an interesting experience. We'll see what happens in the near future after ten winners receive free paperback copies. Will they read it? Will they write an Amazon review or one at B & N or Smashwords? That's sort of the expected yet unspoken agreement (if they like it) posted in the guidelines at Goodreads. (Maybe they'll also receive a tactful reminder letter with their author-signed copies.)

On the first day that the books posted, approximately 100 people entered to win. Since then it got sidelined on the website by being several pages in, no longer on the recently listed page and far from the ending soon page. Perhaps today it will see a bump in number of new entries. Here's what it looks like at Goodreads:

The Little Universe front cover by Jason MatthewsThe Little Universe
by Jason Matthews (Goodreads Author)
What if you could create a universe…more

Enter to win 

Giveaway dates: Aug 09-Aug 23, 2011
10 copies available, 502 people requesting
Countries available: US
Closed to entries in: 13 hours 8 mins 45 secs (clock counts down on their site)

The exposure alone is encouraging, currently over five hundred people have at least checked it out. If half of the people who win free copies actually leave a review or recommend the book to others, that will be a major success for my $100 investment to buy and mail ten books within the United States. Perhaps half is an optimistic number, we'll see.
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Monday, August 08, 2011

Love this 1970's Anti-Marijuana Commercial

Remember in the 80's when first lady, Nancy Reagan, used to recommend we Just Say No Thanks to drugs? It was pretty wise and effective advice that has clearly slowed the growth of recreational drug use in America. As a precursor to that, this 70's video (was it really made in the 70's?) accomplished just as much to curb the future leaders of this great nation from experimenting with marijuana, and thus ruining their lives forever.
This video is 4:21 long, but I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be 4:20. Enjoy.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pineal Gland and DMT, Spirit Molecule in Jim's Life

The Pineal Gland, also called the third eye, is about the size of a pea and exists near the very center of the human brain. Due to its central brain location directly behind the eyes, one may safely assume it's a highly important gland. The pineal regulates many complex chemicals including melatonin, serotonin and DMT (dimethyltryptamine), which is a neuro-chemical that modern science still knows very little about. Ancient cultures such as the Egyptians refer to the pineal as the spirit gland and Rene Descartes called in the seat of the soul. Today many refer to the drug DMT as the spirit molecule, reporting life-changing hallucinations under its effects.
These concepts captured my interest when writing Jim's Life, a novel based on a teenage boy who has a traumatic injury that forever alters his natural production of DMT to elevated levels that allow him to see what others can't: the auras and chakras of the human body.
The YouTube video below was uploaded by astralwalk and is a nice introduction to these concepts.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Meditating on Chakras for Personal Growth, Awareness and Healing of the Human Light Field

In the west it's hard to talk with most people about chakras without sounding like a new age freak. But really, this kind of belief is anything but new age. Hopefully the science of understanding chakras and meditation will help western people accept the human light field within themselves and open up a whole new level of conscious appreciation for auras and chakras.
This is a nice video to get familiar with the chakras.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Technology Gadget, 3-D Printing, Amazing Video Stranger Than Fiction

Truth really can be stranger than fiction. Every once in a while a friend will share something online that is so unbelievably amazing, it's got to be shared with others. New technology gadgets are coming out everyday like this 3-D printer. What happens in this video is just as fantastic and incredible as some of the things that happen in my novels, The Little Universe and Jim's Life.
In this video, a 3-dimensional copy gets made of any object small enough to fit into this machine. Even if it has moving parts, like the crescent wrench in the example, a physical replica that actually works will get reproduced before your eyes.
Imagine if you could show this to a person from a hundred years ago; they would probably conclude it was magical in either a good or bad way. It really makes me wonder if replicating a living thing (like a person) could be possible a hundred years from now or less.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Kryon, Channeling the Angel in Sacramento

Kryon the angel? Have you heard of Kryon of Magnetic Service? I hadn't but my wife, Jana, had and was visiting the website just the other day for the first time, http://www.kryon.com/. (The magnetic service part has to do with the Earth's magnetic poles, field and grid, but I'm not going to talk too much about that here.)

Kryon the angel of Magnetic Forces in Sacramento California
On Friday afternoon, Jana came into my office and asked, "Want to drive to Sacramento tomorrow morning to hear Kryon?" When she explained it all including her surprise to find out the event was scheduled for the next day, I found it a nice "coincidence" since we live about 100 miles from Sacramento and had no plans for Saturday. We found out later the medium for Kryon, Lee Carroll, speaks not only all across the states but all over the world. Strangely, it seemed like perfect timing.

Yes, it all came about rather suddenly, but since I'm usually a fan of these things (if they resonate with me positively) and always wanting to learn more about the human experience, soul development, the future prognosis, etc, I decided to go with her.

Jason Matthews, Lee Carroll and Jana Matthews
The next day, July 2 at the Hilton in Sacramento, we met Lee Carroll, a fascinating man who has been "channeling" for Kryon, a loving angelic entity, since 1989. Lee is the author of 15 books including the Indigo Children series. He's extremely down-to-earth and scientific in his approach, not at all what some people might describe as "fruit-loopy" or "wind-chimey" even though the subjects of angels and channeling are something many people find hard to believe and treat with understandable skepticism. (Note; if you research people set on debunking Lee and Kryon, you will find some.)

Jewelry for sale at Kyron in Sacramento
In a small conference room with about 100 others, many first-timers and some repeat visitors, we listened to primarily Lee and (at times) Kryon discuss happenings within the world of past, present and future, as well as within the DNA of our own bodies. This was not at all "hokey" nor a big sales pitch, although we did pay for the 5 hours of lecture and there were some books/jewelry available for sale. Also please note that it was not appropriate or possible for me to take notes during the meditations, so the quotes I give below for Kryon are only from my memory and not to be taken as verbatim or necessarily as accurate.

What we did hear from both Lee and Kryon were in-depth discussions of what they call "core truths" including subjects like Quantum physics, Einstein and the concept of time as a dimension, past lives, Gaia, ancestral energies, reincarnation, world religions, 2012 and much more. It was all well presented and thoroughly engrossing. I could have listened for much longer and felt the same degree of belief in these "paranormal" matters as I would for a reading from a psychic like Edgar Cayce. Though the field is always ripe for charlatans, that doesn't mean the "real deal" can't be found. I left believing very much that Lee Carroll is the "real deal."

During the lecture Lee also discussed at great length the author, Gregg Braden and his book Fractal Time: The Secret of 2012 and a New World Age. In fact, he discussed Gregg and this book more than any other subject for the entire day. This was also another interesting "coincidence" for me as that book just so happens to be the book I've been reading for the past week and have almost finished. (Of course I believe there are no "coincidences" like this in life, so it really made me focus in on the lessons of the day.)

Most of the time was spent with Lee discussing these things as himself, as Lee, a warm, witty, cosmopolitan, educated and humorous lecturer. Other times, a introductory short period of about 20 minutes and later a lengthy period of about 45 minutes, were spent with Lee channeling the voice of Kryon, the angel. I have to admit, the time spent listening to Kryon was truly inspiring to say the least. As a writer, I've developed a fairly keen sense for redundancy and poor word choice. Kryon spoke at great length (up to 45 minutes) in such clear and concise phrasing while delivering substantial information, and yet Kryon never had an awkward pause or stumble nor did I ever find the need to edit one single word. To the disbelievers, the speech itself would have been an amazing feat had it been memorized and performed by an actor. If it was a hoax, then Lee Carroll can teach Marlon Brando a few things about acting. Not only was Kryon's diction the best I've ever heard during a continuous monologue but I felt absolutely riveted in my chair, participating in the meditation as if magnetic forces held me there in a pleasant way. Normally, sitting in one spot meditating for that long would be extremely difficult for me, but this was quite enjoyable and could have continued for even longer. I'll speak more on the final 45 minutes below.

Much of Lee's personal discussion was about the anticipated date of Dec. 21, 2012, a date that some people believe marks the end of the Mayan Calendar and perhaps the end of the world. Fortunately for us, Lee argues (and Kryon does too) that this is merely a time of astronomical alignment that has to do with the precession of the equinoxes. That's a fancy term for the Earth's rotational axis slowly changing, making a cone shape over a period of approx. 26,000 years. Ancient cultures recognized that the sunrise on the spring solstice would happen with the same star constellation in the night sky for approx 2,150 years before the rotating axis of Earth would change the backdrop to the proceeding sign of the zodiac. Each of the 12 zodiac signs are represented during a "Great Age" of 26,000 years. We are currently in the final stages of the Age of Pisces (which began just before the coming of Jesus) and entering the Age of Aquarius. However, ancient cultures didn't typically identify the end of one Great Age and the beginning of the next on an exact date, like Dec. 21, 2012.

What might make the end of this age more special than most (in the Mayan's eyes) is that our solar system, sun and planet will have moved to an alignment with the equator of the Milky Way Galaxy, an event that won't happen again for another 26,000 years. (Author's note; perhaps that's a good time for a chapter break when you're in the business of publishing a universal calender as seen from Earth. Did the Mayans have more calendars after the one that ends in 2012? Perhaps, but they might have figured they had plenty of time to get it printed.)

Lee points out, "The 2012 alignment did not end the Mayan Calendar. More likely, it was merely the last calendar they had published. For whatever reasons, the Mayans died out or disappeared, but they did not preach an end times date."

Lee also says, "It will take 36 years for the sun to go through this period (we're 17 years into it now, halfway at 2012), although the entire precession of the equinoxes is a 26,000 year period. It marks a time for the highest potential consciousness that humanity has ever seen."

What is happenning on our planet today in 2011? Some people focus on the problems: war, economy, wacky weather, political issues at home and abroad. But what about the good signs and the future possibilities? Kryon says, "DNA is the new frontier, and when humans learn how to work with their own DNA programing, amazing things will become possible."

What is time? Einstein says time is relative to speed, and that time is the 4th dimension. Does time repeat? Are the fractal wave patterns an indicator of time repeating? "Time is in a circle so what happens in the future always affects the past," Kryon says. "People need to learn how to step out of 3D to really learn how to meditate, pray and co-create."

Global warming? Kryon says, "There is a mass weather shifting, which affects agriculture and water changes. It's all about water and the water cycle. Silly humans did not cause global warming; it's a cycle that comes and goes. Now we're in the beginning of a cooling cycle, the beginning of an ice age. First it gets warmer then it gets cooler. This is a generational change; this will take a long time to play out. Earth is now in the beginning of an Ice Age, and it's all about the water." (Author's note; if it's all about the water then isn't it "coincidental" that we're entering the Age of Aquarius, the water bearer?)

Is humanity evolving? Kryon says, "We are always changing as it's a dynamic, energetic, spiritual world. Look for examples of people finding unity instead of warring with each other. The European Union and the currency, the Euro, is one such example. The fall of the Soviet Union is another."

Kryon's prediction for the Middle East, "Egypt is going through a revolution without a leader. When everybody can talk to everybody there can be no more conspiracies." (Author's note; sounds like social networking, Facebook, etc.) "Peace in the Middle East potentially comes from Iran, which will re-establish its greatness from a revolution that starts with the young people. Parts of Iran might be bombed before this happens. Peace in Middle East will be brokered by an Islamic country."

Back to the comment, "DNA is the new frontier. It's more than you think." We know that quantum is the study of small things, and biological molecules are enormous compared to an individual atom. But LIGHT is especially intriguing. Quantum Benevolence, the name of a premise recently talked about, is a description of quantum state behavior, bizarre and seemingly impossible wave particle duality as light is BOTH wave and particle depending on the conditions of the experiment (Heisenberg uncertainty principal). Matter can be in two places at the same time in quantum realities (double-slit light experiment). Can light be a part of healing? Kryon says, "You are part of both sides of the veil. Therefore you are never really alone and always with the Creator which you are a part of. Quantum healing knows no boundaries of any kind; it can be instantaneous over enormous distances."

Other things Kryon touched on but I won't even attempt to remember with quotes:
-Our Akashic records are in our DNA. Everything we've done or thought, life lessons, stem-cell blueprints, etc. Aging happens due to DNA not being fully active, or without cells that repeat the pristine original DNA form. Instead, with aging, it just keeps dividing from what it has. Ageless living is possible.
-We need to learn to ask the DNA strands to use the original cellular structure and slowly activate it to original information to stop aging. Spontaneous remission reproduces the original DNA and cellular blueprints. Kryon says the biblical characters who allegedly lived for hundreds of years, really did.

During the final 45 minute meditation, it felt like my hands, palms upward, were holding hands with other angels and LOCKED in place. This is hard to describe, but afterwards I also felt slightly drunk from the experience. Kryon's main message was that some of us in the audience have accepted our roles as LIGHT BEARERS, and others have not. For those who haven't, this is fine. There is no expectation from God or angels to perform work. For those of us who do accept our roles as LIGHT BEARERS, we need to remind ourselves to provide light. That means by lighting ourselves, not by being evangelical. For nobody wants (or needs) to be told how to act or behave in a Godly manner. It is within us already. The best thing a lightbearer can do is illuminate herself/himself. Shine brightly and let the world see it. Love everyone, regardless of what they are doing. If they are committing crimes, war, abuse, love them anyway. Don't love what they do, but love who they are and forgive them, for they have a difficult road just like everyone does.

This felt exactly like the Christ message to me if I'm reading between the lines of the gospels correctly; love yourself and your neighbor as yourself. Forgive everything, judge not. The human experience is difficult for all of us. As humans, we make mistakes. Does God really condemn us? Of course not. So for us to act Godly, we must learn to forgive and give grace as God does to EVERYONE.

What are some of the things Kryon told me that really felt like "core truths?" That God is within us, and the person who can find God anywhere is certainly blessed (as communication with spirit can happen easily outside of church). That concepts of Heaven and Hell are very much made up by humans and can be likened to children's stories (I really enjoyed that one!).

Remember the Higher-self, the God-within that is our constant guide. Follow the Higher-self, and all will be just fine during December of 2012 and beyond.

What are your thoughts or comments?
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