How to cope with slow walkers

I came across this ingenius idea on youtube and immediately felt compelled to share it amongst you blog readers.  It’s in Japanese, but he experiments with a bicycle bell to see if people will step aside after you ring it.  Not the escalator and food isle scenes.  We’re preconditioned to make way for bicyclists so why NOT!?! One note worth mentioning though.  This is in Asia, where people are extremely considerate.  I’m not saying that the same results wouldn’t be found in the states, but you’re sure to get more double takes than what you see here.  If only I had this idea when I was hurrying to classes in college…  Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJwb_wEaW2M

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The Dharma Way

So it’s been 11 months and 15 days in LA and I’ve officially become rooted in this land of dreams where everybody breaths in the wonderful air of “possibilities” (all-be-it slightly polluted).  After working 4 different jobs, I’ve finally found one that’s stable enough to support my extension classes at UCLA and entertainment endeavors.  The majority of people here are very welcoming and encouraging, and the diversity is also uplifting.  The sense of human dignity and decency is strong, which makes me smile in  light of the fact that Seattle is a tough act to follow.  I’m learning to accept that I’ve already won, and anything else that comes along is added cherries on top of my already delicious, multiculturally infused cake.  Life is good and the next year should bring many additional momentous achievements and connections.  Thanks for reading this long-awaited update.  Now that I’m settled in, I will continue to write more consistantly.  It is free therapy after all. 🙂

My Observations of Darwin in the Modern World

Phillip Longman in Foreign Policy said that visiting Seattle and Salt Lake City will give you a glimpse of the nation’s future.  Seattle is a city of highly educated progressives, “with 45 percent more dogs than children.”  Salt Lake on the other hand has “19 percent more kids than dogs.”  It’s a striking pattern, found throughout the U.S. and Europe-and it will have profound implications for what kind of societies we’ll leave for our ancestors.  Fertility is now highly correlated to political and religious beliefs.  The more progressive and secular you are, the less likely you are to have a big family; the more conservative and religious you are, the larger your family is likely to be.  In religious Utah, for example, the birth rate is 92 children for every 1,000 women, the highest in the nation.  By contrast, highly progressive Vermont-the first state to embrace gay unions-has the country’s lowest fertility rate, just 51 children per 1,000 women.  “Among states that voted for President Bush in 2004, the average fertility rate is 12 percent higher than the rate of states for Sen. John Kerry.”  Almost 20 percent of Amercian women who came of age in the countercultural 1960’s and ’70s are approaching the end of their fertility cycles without reproducing, meaning that millions of progressive feminists are bequething “no generational legacy.”  Whether you like the implications of these numbers or not, the trend is clear: We’re headed for “a far more conservative future, one in which patriarchy and other traditional values make a comback, if only by default.”

More people are choosing to live in close quarters with people outside their family while stepping into their newfound, ambitious careers.  The idea of living without a partner is more popularized as the American proclivity to stay occupied through recreational pursuits reigns supreme over settling down and starting a family.  It seems that donating your hard earned funds to charity and adopting later in life (even as a single individual) is increasingly favorable to rearing one’s own children.  Both are a means to happiness, but with every form of leisure activity being usurped by Apple’s compressed devices, life “alone” really isn’t so lonely.  It’s just more independant and perhaps productive.  Darwin’s theories surrounding reproductive strategies are spliced down the center here.  An individual lifestyle is still a very fit one, albeit without screaming children running around and a spouse to lecture about the way the coffee tastes.  Personally, I’m unsure which I prefer.  As alarming as it may seem to religious baby poppers though, the trend isn’t so bad.  It actually keeps people more in tune to the importance of being earnest not just with others, but with themselves.

The Violin Lady

So, after much toil and years of rummaging through memories and programmes, I FINALLY found the Austrian violinist responsible for me playing the violin.  Her name is Karen-Regina Florey.  I was a wee little lad at the slight age of 6 when my Dad took me to see her play at a concert in Bangkok, Thailand that was sponsored by the Chintakarn Music Institute.  She played various pieces including Mozart’s Sonata in E minor, Telemann’s Fantasy No. 1 in G minor, Dvorak’s Sonatina in G major, Schubert, Reger and a Brahms sonata.  I remember feeling like I was on some miracle escapist drug for the whole concert as that was the first time I was exposed to some serious music.  Experiences like that are priceless and I’m SO greatful for having had several of them throughout my life.  It was similar to imagining for the first time and swimming for the first time.  Anyways, I’m just sharing my elation in having found the Austrian lady who opened my eyes and, most importantly, my ears, to the world and architecture behind classical music and beyond.  Thanks Karen. 🙂  Here’s a YouTube clip of her playing with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.  I’m not sure what composition it is, but she sounds amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hb4wm3TruY

The Mind’s Eye

So, I just finished yet another riveting nonfiction book by Oliver Sachs entitled “The Mind’s Eye.”  It’s organized in a way that keeps your focus on each chapter’s case study, while branching out to other various case studies that are relavent to the chapter’s topic.  Everything in the book is about the brain’s plasticity and it’s incredible knack for coping with blindness, vision impairments such as color blindness, and stereoscopy, and even aphasia.  For those unfamiliar with Oliver Sachs, He’s like the Noam Chompsky of all things BRAIN.  Each chapter is richly detailed and annotated to help the reader make associations between the current patient Dr. Sachs is refering to, and other similar case findings.  He himself is a scotoma (eye cancer) survivor and thankfully lived to tell us all about the scientific, yet artfully experiential observations he mind en-route to full recovery.  Please read ANY of his books.  If they’re at all like “The Mind’s Eye,” they’re journilistically sound AND scientifically understandable.  Just imagine: you have been blind since the age of 2 and presumably have zero recollection of what a giraff looks like, yet at the age of 10 you are able to activate the imagery centers of the brain that people with eyesight activate on a daily basis, especially when asked to draw a giraff.  Better yet, your drawing is better than most people who CAN see.  How is this possible?  Read the book and find out.  It’s amazing.  Also, if you’re into this stuff, look into Ione Fine’s work in Sensory Perception research as well.  She was one of my professors at UW and is currently working in the network of amazing researchers who try to help blind people actually see.  Yeah, if you had to read that last sentence a couple times, it’s right.  They’re working on having blind people experience vision in the same way you and I can (as you’re reading this, I can rightfully assume you aren’t blind). Pick up, don’t put it down and no, he’s not paying me to write this.  I’m just a HUGE fan. 🙂