Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Birth of an Idea

It was during Christmas of 2008, and I was living in Santa Cruz in what is known as the Apple Orchard Community. I had about $40 to my name, no job, no insurance, and the license on my van was about to expire. I was sleeping in my van, in freezing weather, with no heat, and an outdoor bathroom. Everyone had left to be with relatives, so I was alone. I had a lot to think about. I spent most of last year living in an Ashram in Houston, but felt compelled to come back to California after some disheartening experiences in Texas. I am a Krsna devotee, commonly known as a Hare Krsna, though not associated with ISKON. Even without the headshaving and sheet wearing, it's not a popular thing being a devotee. Few people understand, and I am used to being subject to contemptuous attitudes. Anyway I bring up all this just to help you understand that I have surrendered my life to my guru (Srila Narayana Maharaja, www.purebhakti.com) and although I am a pathetic fallen soul I am trying to serve The Lord as best I can. In this mood I was reflecting on the fact that I was in California with friends, rather than my guru's ashram in Texas. Though I could not see how, I prayed that I could still serve Krsna.
I found a spot where I could get WiFi from one of the neighbors. The Apple Orchard sits on 8 acres, and I never even figured out which of the neighbors on the other side of the woods had the signal, but I was just on the edge of the reception area. Nevertheless it was phenomenal that I could surf the internet and do research without going to town. I pulled up a picture of my father on my computer and just sat back and looked at him for a while, he died in 1984, and it felt nice to spend a little time remembering him and his presence in my life.
When I was in my 20's I spent a Christmas broke and alone, eating Top-Ramen. I ended up writing an incredibly upbeat song that I saw as the present that was given to me at that time. This time it wasn't a song, it was The Idea.
The Idea had to: have the ablity to change the way people live (for the better); be low-tech enough that not only could I develop it, but people in third world countries would be able to build it; be affordable; and be environmentally friendly.
My father invented a tool used to survey oil well holes. His tool used gyroscopes, accellerometers and magnetometers to very accurately determine the hole position. Thanks to things like iPhones and various game devices, digital accelerometers are pretty ubiquitous these days. Accellerometers don't just measure acceleration, they can measure tilt with respect to gravity. How could an accelerometer be used for The Idea? Bingo!

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