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Just a thought:

You know how chemicals claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria? Well there’s always that 0.1% that was adapted enough to survive and it will reproduce more well-equipped offspring which is why antibiotics are being produced at very high “strengths” to combat this “smarter” bacteria.

Well, when criminals go to jail and come out after a short amount of time, they, in a sense, can help others figure-out how to be sneakier and more cunning than in the past. Also, Think about this: criminal investigation shows not only are a good way to show viewers an inaccurate depiction of the investigation process but also a cornucopia of checklists of details criminals should mind to get away with harmful acts.

Yes medicine/technology is getting more advanced but so are pathogens/criminals.

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So I’m reading a ton of literature this Summer and on the pre-bedtime list are the fables by Aesop. I did some research after seeing the pronouns “she” and “her” applied to the hare in “The Tortoise and the Hare”. Indeed Reverend George Townsend (1867)  translated Aesop’s fables this way and I suppose the world wasn’t ready for the female hare. Danbury’s interpretation of the story is that the Hare was not foolish but realized it was a dumb race and of course all of the spectators attributed a huge success to this slow tortoise who really did not “win”. My further interpretation is that girl knew what she was doing and the world was just ignorant.

The Dirty Hand (Kenneth)

As a foreword I live in Richmond, Virginia as a VCU student. Everyday we see homeless people all over the city and it really is such a sad sight for me. I’m thankful for what I have and don’t take anything for granted. I wish more people had that in common with me.

I met a homeless man today after hanging out with some friends and picking up a package from the post office. He was sitting outside on the stoop of some sort of building near the street I lived on. As I was walking past him I noticed there was something different about him than the other homeless and hungry people in Richmond; he wasn’t begging or drinking a beer to hide the pain. It looked to me as if he was just a man who needed a break. The man had curly, whitening hair with surprisingly nice eyes. So, I sat down next to him and asked him if he minded me asking some questions about him. I wanted to know what it was like to be homeless… how it happened to him. What was his life like and what he has to do now just to survive. He told me a lot of stories about his experiences in Richmond and what the city was like a long time ago.

To make it short, this was a man who had come out of the Navy at the age of 20, enrolled in a community college in Richmond, finished up his trade there, became a painter (for the slumlords who often over-price housing in the VCU vicinity), settled down and got married and had a kid, lost jobs left and right by the betrayal of these landlords leaving him without a family or a home at this point.

What I admire about this guy is that he hasn’t given up. He hasn’t reduced himself to begging and throwing away the only thing he really had left which was dignity and pride. He stays in a shelter home and does the chores that are required of him. He still looks for jobs and doesn’t really want to rely on anyone else to take care of him. He’s not a bad person at all from what I gathered. He just needs a break; a break I feel like I would have given him had I the resources.

After talking he stood up and I stood up as we were about to separate back two our completely different paths, he extended his arm for a hand-shake and although I felt deep empathy for this guy and felt terribly for him, the first thing that came to my mind was “His hand is probably dirty and I don’t know if I should touch it.” But, I shook his hand anyway. I have soap at home. This guy doesn’t own anything. How dare I even question getting my hand dirty when this man has been dirty for months and months.

Why do we, as the spoiled and often stuck-up college students, take so much for granted and look down upon others who have probably once in their life been in much higher positions than we have or possibly may ever reach? Are we still playing that game we played at the age of 6 involving a make-believe disease called cooties or something? Is it so difficult to extend a hand or even our ears to someone who has no one to talk to? someone who has no money, no home, no companionship? I think the least we could do is say “Hi” which can’t hurt. So what if we make eye-contact and they ask us for money….? Just say “no, sorry,” or “I don’t have any, I wish I could.” There are some of those homeless people who are not bad and they deserve more than nothing. I wish life was fair.

I walk away from the situation thinking that any of us could be reduced to living on the streets and should NEVER take anything for granted. If you’re religious, you damn-well better be thanking your maker that you were chosen to have what you have. If you are not religious, you better be feeling pretty lucky. Horrible things DO happen and leave some of the best people stranded in a sea of apathy. Today I realized how GOOD I have it and how I better cherish it before I lose it.

So, my friend Keyara and I are having a battle on creativity in writing. We are comparing and contrasting two absolutely random items you would never have thought to compare or contrast. My challenge from her is my big toe and a tree! It’s ON!

My big toe and a typical tree have a lot in common. They both have a tough exterior (the toe nail and the tree bark). They offer protection for the whole of the item. A lot of times, toes can get nasty parasites that cause them to get brown or yellow. Trees also have parasites like mistletoe which can cause harm to the organism. Trees and toes can both respond to stimuli but in different ways. Trees respond with different types of trophisms which affect the growth of the organism.

On another hand, they have worlds in between them for contrast. My big toe is attached to a whole organism where as the strong mighty tree stands up on it’s own and is its own organism. Most big toes are only different in terms of size, shape, and color where as trees can be so many different varieties of species and classifications. Although the skin on toes can get “ashy,” they don’t normally grow foliage nor flowers or fruit. One last thing is that there is a nervous system that operates in my toe which allows it to send signals to me to respond to stimuli or make it motile. Trees and toes can both respond to stimuli but in different ways. Trees respond with different types of trophisms which affect the growth of the organism.

Trees and big toes are completely different objects in normal, every-day thought. However, there are some similarities in structure and the roles of certain parts which aid in survival. It’s certainly not impossible to relate randomly selected objects. When you get to the building blocks of matter, everything in this universe was created from the same source. Tree man

Azalea Bonzai (Azalea indicum)

I have a slight passion for bonzai trees. I recently purchased three beauties from a Walmart at a discounted price when doing some back-to-school shopping. I like them because they are actually trees that don’t need huge areas for roots to grow and they are so accurate in scale to the hardwoods you see outdoors. Some bonzai flower. Some bear fruit. Some have beauteous foliage and some don’t bare any leaves at all. They are beautiful regardless.

My favorite of the bonzai is the Azalea bonzai. It is a beautiful flower with many shades and is beautifully symmetrical. It adds so much color and can easily steal focus from it’s surroundings. Flowers normally are dainty and show signs of fairness and meekness, but this flowering plant is not a weakling at all. With it’s low center-of-gravity and it’s hardwood trunk, it tells its distant relatives that it is not a pushover. This plant is here to stay.

Here’s a list of things that I would like to have accomplished by the end of the Summer. This is to keep my mind active at all times.

1) Wake up each morning with an exercise from “Caffeine for the Creative Mind” to spark my creativity:

This book has 250 exercises that spark the imagination (most helpful, however, for graphic artists) for anyone feeling a creativity block. I believe that as we get older, we should learn to view the world again as we did when we were younger. It really is much bigger when your imagination is constantly adding things.

2) Practice Instruments

1. Clarinet
* Demnitz Tonguing
* Kell Staccato Studies #s 1-5, 7-10, 12, 13
* Scales (Major and Melodic Minor)
* Baermann Method (Scales, Arpeggios, Broken Chords)
* Rose Studies
* Uhl Studies
* Solo Literature
2. Flute (full range scales and extending range past C7)

3) Personal Summer Reading List

1. Language, Truth, and Logic-Alfred Jules Ayer- pp. 153
This book defines, explains, and argues for the verification principle of logical positivism, sometimes referred to as the “criterion of significance” or “criterion of meaning”. It explains how the principle of verifiability may be applied to the problems of philosophy.

2. Uncle Tungsten– Oliver Sacks- pp. 318
The book is named for Sacks’ Uncle Dave, who owned a business named Tungstalite, which made incandescent lightbulbs with a tungsten filament, who Oliver nicknamed Uncle Tungsten. Uncle Tungsten was fascinated with tungsten and believed it was the metal of the future. The book also talks about many other things that happened to Sacks, such as the many whippings at Braefield school, the burning down of the Crystal Palace, his interest in amateur chemistry, and his short-lived obsession with coloring his own black and white photographs using dangerous chemicals. It is also an extremely readable primer in the history and science of chemistry.

3. Awakenings– Oliver Sacks- pp. 386
is the remarkable account of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen in a decades-long sleep, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, “awakening” effect. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of these individuals, the stories of their lives, and the extraordinary transformations they underwent with treatment. This book, which W. H. Auden called “a masterpiece,” is a passionate exploration of the most general questions of health, disease, suffering, care, and the human condition.

4. The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat– Oliver Sacks- pp. 243
The book comprises 24 essays split into 4 sections which each deal with a particular aspect of brain function such as deficits and excesses in the first two sections (with particular emphasis on the right hemisphere of the brain) while the third and fourth describe phenomenological manifestations with reference to spontaneous reminiscences, altered perceptions, and extraordinary qualities of mind found in “retardates”.

5. This is Your Brain on Music– Daniel J. Levitin-pp. 276
Describes the components of music, such as timbre, rhythm, pitch, and harmony and ties them to neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, cognitive psychology, and evolution, while also making these topics accessible to nonexpert readers by avoiding the use of scientific jargon. One particular focus of the book is on cognitive models of categorization and expectation, and how music exploits these cognitive processes. The book challenges Steven Pinker’s “auditory cheesecake” assertion that music was an incidental by-product of evolution, arguing instead that music served as an indicator of cognitive, emotional and physical health, and was evolutionarily advantageous as a force that led to social bonding and increased fitness, citing the arguments of Charles Darwin, Geoffrey Miller and others.

6. Synaptic Self– Joseph LeDoux-pp. 324
Research on the brain, one of the few genuine frontiers remaining in science, continues to fascinate us, as it offers a glimpse into the deepest foundations of humanity. But in spite of great progress in understanding specific mental functions, like perception, memory, and emotion, little has been learned about how the self – the essence of who a person is, both in his or her own mind and in the eyes of others – relates to the brain.

7. Tchaikovsky: Letters to His Family– Himself- pp. 556
The great Russian composer Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was a compulsive letter writer. The 681 pieces contained in this volume offer unique and intimate insights into the composer’s life, ranging from two months before his 21st birthday in 1861 to six weeks before his death.

In vivid, informative detail Tchaikovsky discusses both his own music and that of his contemporaries, as well as European literature and art and, in a long missive, his reactions to the New World. Part of these letters’ fascination is the light that they throw on the social and political climate in which Tchaikovsky lived. He has much to say about patriotism, censorship, the conditions of the peasantry, the place of the Orthodox Church, and attitudes toward foreign countries. This is the definitive work on Tchaikovsky

8. The Diaries of Tchaikovsky -pp. 336

9. Wisdom:from Philosophy to Neuroscience– Stephen S. Hall-pp. 278
A compelling investigation into one of our most coveted and cherished ideals, and the efforts of modern science to penetrate the mysterious nature of this timeless virtue.We all recognize wisdom, but defining it is more elusive. In this fascinating journey from philosophy to science, Stephen S. Hall gives us a dramatic history of wisdom, from its sudden emergence in four different locations (Greece, China, Israel, and India) in the fifth century B.C. to its modern manifestations in education, politics, and the workplace. We learn how wisdom became the provenance of philosophy and religion through its embodiment in individuals such as Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus; how it has consistently been a catalyst for social change; and how revelatory work in the last fifty years by psychologists, economists, and neuroscientists has begun to shed light on the biology of cognitive traits long associated with wisdom—and, in doing so, begun to suggest how we might cultivate it.Hall explores the neural mechanisms for wise decision making; the conflict between the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain; the development of compassion, humility, and empathy; the effect of adversity and the impact of early-life stress on the development of wisdom; and how we can learn to optimize our future choices and future selves.Hall’s bracing exploration of the science of wisdom allows us to see this ancient virtue with fresh eyes, yet also makes clear that despite modern science’s most powerful efforts, wisdom continues to elude easy understanding.

10. The Fine Art of Repetition: Essays in the Philosophy of Music– Peter Kivy- pp. 373
Peter Kivy is the author of many books on the history of art and, in particular, the aesthetics of music. This collection of essays spans a period of some thirty years and focuses on a richly diverse set of issues: the biological origins of music, the role of music in the liberal education, the nature of the musical work and its performance, the aesthetics of opera, the emotions of music, and the very nature of music itself. Some of these subjects are viewed as part of the history of ideas, others as current problems in the philosophy of art. A particular feature of the volume is that Kivy avoids the use of musical notation so that no technical knowledge at all is required to appreciate his work. The essays will prove enjoyable and insightful not just to professionals in the philosophy of art and musicologists, or to musicians themselves, but also to any motivated general reader with a deep interest in music.

11. The Evolution of Childhood– Melvin Konner- pp. 753
The study of our evolution starts with one simple truth: human beings take an extraordinarily long time to grow up. What does this extended period of dependency have to do with human brain growth and social interactions? And why is play a sign of cognitive complexity, and a spur for cultural evolution? As Konner explores these questions, and topics ranging from bipedal walking to incest taboos, he firmly lays the foundations of psychology in biology.

12. A History of Western Philosophy– Berthrand Russell- pp.836
A conspectus of Western philosophy from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the early 20th century. Although criticised for its over-generalization and its omissions, particularly from the post-Cartesian period, it was a popular and commercial success, and has remained in print from its first publication. When Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, the book was cited as one of those that won him the award. The book provided Russell with financial security for the last part of his life.

Death: It’s Not Anything Bad to Worry
About

It’s such a touchy topic but it’s so simple to conquer. So I’ll do that part for you… WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE (someday)!!! I’m going to do it and you’re going to do it. But there are two different ways to approach it. You can do nothing with the life you are endowed with or you can enjoy your life by making it the best it can be until death (and maybe even after death).

If you choose to do nothing special with your life, that’s okay. No one cares. If you want to be a nothing until you die, the world won’t miss you and once you’re gone it won’t matter to you or anyone else. That’s pretty much all I have to say to the few of you who are so pressed on DEATH that you cannot focus on the world in your LIFE.

Now I’m talking to those of you who want to actually have a place in the world while you’re alive and possibly after. You’ve already embraced the fact that you’re going to die. (Congrats, now you have years ahead of you to make your life worth dying for!) It doesn’t take a large amount of money or education to make the value of your life skyrocket. The measure of a man’s success is not in units of currency or numbers of college degrees. Remember, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE. You can’t take all of your expensive items with you to the dirt. (I mean you can, but they’ll just get dirty and never be useful for anyone ever again)

It’s actually not a quantitative matter at all. It’s a qualitative matter. This means that nothing you can count matters, be it the time you spent on earth, the amount of money you earned, the amount of people you dated… none of that. If you have ever made a goal to do something for someone else and acted upon your goal, you have done enough to say that you’re a valued individual. A successful person is someone who will be remembered fondly after they’ve come and gone from the face of this planet.

Synaesthesia (wikipedia it )

1) Grapheme-color / Personification

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXY & Z
123456789

This is a layout of the different colors of each letter or number I see. It doesn’t change. However certain words have their own colors such as the word “rock” just being gray. Also, each letter and number has it’s own gender and personality. Example: 7 is a cynical girl with dark medium-length hair and 9 is a spoiled preppy chick with blonde hair.

2) Mirror Touch

This condition is a little less self-explanatory. Synaesthetes with mirror-touch synaesthesia feel sensations when they see someone else be touched or hit. This is why I physically cannot hit people in sensitive spots. If I struck someone in the nose, I would feel a sensation of pain very briefly in my own nose. When I was a kid I remember a fight I was involved in (that I unproudly won) where I beat the other kid in his head but I cried to mommy because I knew how much it hurt the other guy even though he was trying to hurt me. I’m a very empathetical person because of this form. I’m also a hypochondriac. :-p

3) Sound -Touch Synaesthesia

I used to find it strange that I feel things when I hear certain sounds. I ALWAYS get an excruciating tooth-ache in my bottom tooth when I hear metal screeching or when I even think about it. (No my teeth aren’t grinding together).

Synaesthesia is a very broad subject of people whose senses seem to interfere with other senses. Google or Bing for some information on Synaesthetes because I simply can’t list every different condition. Some cases involve people with perfect pitch who see colors for every sound or pitch. Other cases involve people who might feel a prickly sensation in the hand when they taste chocolate. I have a friend who smells cheese when he hears the name of his uncle.

*Check it out on youtube

Indecisive

So, I believe it’s official that I am the most indecisive person I know. Here’s a perfect example: it took me over an hour of google searching and bing searching to figure out what I wanted to have as my blog background image. This is very normal for me but it’s really starting to affect my life.

Degree Program(s): I’m an ex-trombonist who plays multiple instruments pretty well. I finally managed to switch over to clarinet by re-auditioning at VCU. I thought I FINALLY made up my mind about something. Well…, I’m double-majoring in music education and psychology with the pre-med concentration. Music ED because I will have lots of back-up in music and pre-med because I don’t know if I want to go to grad school or med school. (Apparently there IS a difference between Neurology and Neuroscience). I really like studying the brain, which is partly what makes me like education.

Shopping: I have spent so much money on jeans (money that I barely had) and other items simply because I couldn’t make up my mind on what I wanted. “Oh no… what if I want jeans with holes on some days but on other days I just want regular bootcut jeans….” My shopping strategy has always been “If I can’t pick one, I’ll pick BOTH.”

Selling things: Well, I haven’t really sold anything yet because everything I’ve always come up with some sort of reason to keep everything I own. I wanted to sell my trombone, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking “Maybe ONE day I’ll want to play it again and I spent so much time with it I can’t simply just sell it.”

When people say “it’s up to you” to me: THE WORST THING TO EVER SAY TO ME… Number 1) I’m wondering what would be nice for BOTH of us, and Number 2) I can’t decide what I would want to do MYSELF

But I’d have to say that the degree program section is the part that’s troubling me the most. I’m never going to be successful unless I either PICK ONE… or figure out a way to be successful combining BOTH which would be one plan. We all have to have a focus in our lives. No one wants to look at a photo where the background is just as clear as the foreground.