Month: April 2009

Speaking of Grey Matter…

The brain is an amazing thing. How is it that we can hold thoughts in our heads? Where are memories stored? How is it that intelligence and thought can be processed by some flesh, some chemicals and some electrical charges? Why is that we don’t remember everything? How does our brain select memories to keep for us? Why is it that some people’s brains work differently? Can such variation really exist in a thing that requires such immense complexity to work the way it does?

So many questions… even if I don’t have them, I know the answers are out there somewhere.

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Music Science.

This post contains some language that may confuse those unfamiliar with
music theory and/or physics, but I'll try to make it easy to follow.

The science behind music has always fascinated me. It’s very intriguing that certain frequencies, say, a middle F (349.23 Hz) and a middle A (440.00 Hz) can be played together to produce a pleasurable reaction from somewhere in the human brain. I find it amazing that certain combinations of these frequencies, with the unique timbre of various instruments all played together, can create an entity, a song, that can be memorized, or improvised with.

Some people’s brains react differently to different frequencies. Many talented musicians have an innate or well-trained understanding of these frequencies, either playing songs by ear or reading sheet music and playing the songs that way. Also, some combinations of frequencies are irritating to one brain, while pleasing to others. This accounts for differing tastes in music.

Another interesting thing is the establishment of the song itself. There are often specific formulas used, by making notes in certain orders, or even adding percussive instrumentation, that denote the “mood” of a song, or any number of other concepts. There is a formula when it comes to music like the blues and reggae, the familiarity often comforting to those who have found the frequency manipulation of these songs to be pleasurable. Other groups of musicians are intent on breaking genre, and make their appeal not to comfort but spontaneity and unpredictability.

The moral of the story is that music is amazing, a gift from the proverbial gods, and I love it. You should love it, too.

The Ocean.

The ocean is beautiful. I’ve never visited it, being about as landlocked in North America as you can get, but I’d love to live somewhere near it some day.

In this picture you can see the sparkling blue water, gorgeous rocky cliffs, and misty mountains. I’ll bet some people who spend their entire lives around this kind of beauty take it for granted, but it truly is lovely.

Click the image to embiggen it in a new window.

Life and Death, and All In Between.

For all the infinite potential we possess, for all the countless ways we could spend the time we have on this planet, a vast majority of us spend it preparing for the future.

We do not live in the present. Everything is just a placeholder for ‘real life’. We are always waiting for things to truly begin at some point in the future. We are always depending on the future to return to us what we have invested in it, sacrificed for – our lives and our happiness.

In school, we work for years toward the last examination of our skills, even then called a ‘test’. A test for what? When does the real thing come?

Next we go to college for even more preparation. All our time and our money is dedicating to furthering our education, but not for the benefit of the now. We do it so our futures may be brighter.

Next, finally out of school and into the workforce, our debts are already deep but our hopes are high. Our futures are bright. That’s what counts, isn’t it?

For years – many more than we endured during school – we work, and we work, and we work, and we work. We start families and help them prepare to eventually reach our level, and God willing, surpass it. We want more for our children than we had. We want them to be better prepared.

In the twilight of our lives, should we make it that far, we have reached the end of working. All the years of preparation and work have been for this. Finally we are able to take a break and reap what we have sown. And still we do not live in the present. No, instead we live in the past – the past we spent thinking about this moment, this future.

Make no mistake, we enjoyed the present and made the most of it, but always our thoughts and hopes rested with tomorrow. When tomorrow came, we dismissed it as the present and continued waiting. Continued working toward the future. Now the future we had awaited for decades has arrived.

And now, only at the end of our years do we realize that all that time spent preparing for the future – all those years spent working and waiting to get ours, all those decades spent passing time until we could finally reach our goals….

That was our life. We have lived it already. It is gone.

Did you spend your time wisely, or were you counting on tomorrow to bring you happiness? Are you still? On your deathbed, as your curtain closes and you bow off the stage, will you be satisfied with the climax of your play? Or will it all have been a buildup to a finish that never came?

I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is, if you died tomorrow, would your last day on earth have been a waste?

I wish I could draw.

I’m a terrible artist, and I’ll be the first to admit it. I always have cool ideas for drawings but when I try to put them to paper (or canvas) I just embarrass myself. I think I’ll stick to music for self-expression for now… though I hope to get a camera soon. I’ve had cool ideas for photographs, and with them I don’t have to create the image, just capture it.

My Failure.

I really sucked at doing that. I avoided it altogether the first day or two, then I eventually found myself sitting down at the keyboard, almost out of reflex. Worse yet, I didn’t really care when I failed at this.

I’m thinking it’s because my computer is right here in my room and there’s not much to do around here. I think I’ll have to get some camping supplies and try again, where there is much less chance of failure – outside.

My Challenge.

Starting tomorrow, or midnight, I will not use a computer for a total of seven days. One week, no internet, no downloading, no music, nothing.

I talk a big game about wanting to be a monk or a hippie or whatever, but I realized I’m a slave to la computadora, and so it’s come to this. If I can’t make one week without using a computer, then what chance do I have of making it for months, or even years? I like to think my will is stronger than that.

Tonight, I surf to my heart’s content. But no more until the stroke of midnight on the 8th, bringing me into the 9th and finishing out my week of internet abstinence. Wish me luck, folks.