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Beyond Pandora

Beyond simple curiosity, this is Thinking Too Much. If you're interested in philosophy and/or wild theories, you've come to the right place.

Location: Australia

Paddling somewhere between a mad scientist and an organisational artist. Indecisive, inconsistent and often incoherent.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Passing the Missing Baton

Challenged by Casyn, I took it upon myself to write a list of ten things I haven't done - my own personal rules being that I couldn't use something s/he had (like going overseas). It truly is difficult to list things you haven't experienced (without going into too much detail - e.g., "I haven't juggled hats while riding a Ferris Wheel" or "I haven't read the appendix of Robert Jordan's fifth 'Wheel of Time' book").
Here is what I came up with:

I have never played ice hockey
I have never been publicly humiliated (by someone else) - which is excellent
I have never broken a bone
I have never seen Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - and a hundred other movies my friends loved.
I have never read The Da Vinci Code - though I own and plan to read Angels and Demons
I've never thrown a party
I've never taken recreational drugs, or been around people taking recreational drugs.
I've never seen a real squirrel - only those on TV, in pictures, or stuffed!
I've never eaten crab (as far as I know)
I've never been awake for 48 hours.

And lastly (it's a good one, even though it makes 11):
I've never been for a ride in a hot air balloon. (but I'd love to!)

I hadn't actually realised that I'd never thrown a party before. Makes me sad. :( And makes me want to throw a party :D

Hmm, so who is up for the challenge? Violet? Ben?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sound, Light and Fury (a rant)

I'm annoyed.
Why am I annoyed?
Partly because I only just realised Tru Calling is on at 11:30 tonight, not 10:00. I started struggling to stay awake at about 7.
Mostly I'm annoyed because I haven't succeeded in making sound into colour.

See, I was always fascinated by the idea that someone could create a computer program that would convert music into a visual spectacular ('Visualisations' on things like Media Player don't count - colour, for instance, has nothing to do with the kind of music playing).
I've always wondered what qualities of music/sound I would match with which qualities of light. What would blue sound like? What colour is jazz?
This fascination was reawakened by physics lectures this year, in which we were taught as an aside the mathematical reasoning behind harmony and dissonance. Also that light and sound are both waves.
Anyhow, after much agonising I decided that silence is black, an increase in volume gives an increase in colour intensity, and that all notes played at once results in gray. (White would mean all notes are played at once, and loudly).
Which leaves colour to correspond with pitch. Running up or down a keyboard would result in a rainbow. But how to tell which pitch should correspond with which hue? If the colour spectrum runs from red to violet, should low notes be red or violet?
I went to check out the scientific measurements of colour and pitch, and wound up finding more than I realised - though less than I hoped.

Sound Facts: The range of pitch perception is from about 20Hz to 20,000Hz (cycles per second - how often the sound wave repeats itself within a second). The A note above middle C is standard at 440Hz. Any pitch transposed an octave higher has double the frequency; an octave lower has half. Pleasant-sounding harmonies will be in reasonable ratios - the frequencies of a major chord are in the ratio 4:5:6.

Then I came across a rather alarming fact: Modern musical instruments do not use these ratios. As it turns out, if you tuned an instrument to use the correct ratios for the key of C major, music played in any other key would be distorted - musicians used to have to re-tune their instruments for every new song. Modern instruments approximate the values for all pitches (other than the constant A) so that no matter what key you play in, the intervals will be the same. BUT NOT HARMONIC! I am absolutely shocked to realise that I cannot play a major chord on a piano, despite my years of playing. I may never have actually HEARD a true major chord!
My world has been pulled out from under me... wow!

In a daze, I went to check out light, and my theory (that I could equate light and sound because both are waves) was promptly picked apart. The range of visible light is roughly from 400nm (nano-metres) for violet to 700nm for red. This is a measure of wavelength - the physical distance between two peaks in a wave. (A nanometre, by the way, is a thousandth of a thousandth of a thousandth of a metre. If you take an ordinary metric ruler and look at the space between one millimetre mark and the next, and then divide that space into a million equal parts, you would have one nanometre.)
What this proved to me is that light is not some kind of hyper-fast sound, so there was not going to be any scientific way to say that Middle C is fuschia-coloured (Go figure). It would be like saying that one second is equal to one metre.
Which, of course, doesn't mean I can't say that it is (physics seems to be based on equating unrelated things)- it just means I can't prove it.
So sure, a second is a metre, two seconds are worth four pence and Mozart composed in green.

But while we're at it, what is green anyway? I know I've had many an argument over fluro pens or post-it notes - they're either yellow or green. Usually green, but people like to argue with me. Colourblind people might tell you the grass is red - and for them, maybe it is. Where is the benchmark? How did people originally decide what was red and what orange?
Perhaps we could take the primary colours of light as benchmarks - RGB. Most people would agree that the three colours that dot their computer monitors are different. But who decided on those three colours for monitors anyway? Were there calculations made, to pick three that were evenly spaced in the spectrum, so as to blend well? Do you realise that the colours displayed on your monitor aren't complete? Every colour shown on the monitor has to be made by combining different amounts of those three colours - that's why you can get so many shades of lime in Paint but can't get a decent orange. Natural light is made from many different colours, not just red green and blue.

So as a result of my delirious bid to convert sound to colour, I now can't play the piano in tune, and don't know what colour my socks are. I also realised I can't trust my computer, so I've got myself another stupid idea - that I should re-design computer monitors so that they make sense.


And now it's just about time for Tru.

(This is why/how I don't get bored.)

Friday, May 06, 2005


My brother is in Japan as of March, having taken a position there as an English teacher after finishing his degree (in IT, with honours in business) here.

He was on messenger for the first time last night, but there wasn't much interchange - he seemed to be exhausted and finding it difficult to concentrate. Kept telling me how amazingly comfortable the chair in the internet cafe booth was. (Apparently they have their own cubicle/room type set ups, with TV, playstation, alcohol...) He was bummed cause he couldn't download the music he'd burned to DVD into his new iPod. He doesn't have a computer at home either...

Anyway, not much of what was going on was filtered through, other than that the teaching job isn't terribly difficult - just tiring.

Tonight his Japanese friend/ex-girlfriend came online, and I got more out of her than I did out of bro. Photos, for instance. The cherry-blossom trees are very beautiful, and I now have them as my background picture. There's also an amazing carving in wood of a dragon at sea, it seems like. Some people's talent and dedication are just astounding.

It's strange to see my brother in suits so often (!)

But the overwhelming impression I'm getting is of how lonely it must be. Of course this impression is assisted by the fact that my brother is alone in most photos (and his girl/friend is taking the pictures). But she assures me that it's not just me. Apparently bro is going through a big 'something' at the moment. She's not sure whether to put it down to homesickness, and he's not one to just out with it. Whatever it is, I think it's very much an internal thing. Perhaps like me, he's struggling with who he is and what he's doing with his life - and he's not really in a place where he can distract himself with other pursuits - everything is unknown.

"i think its not about whether there is people around him or not"
"i think its difference between what/how he used to have/be and what/how he has/is now"

...He really liked the movie 'Lost in Translation'. He showed it to the family a while ago, and kept picking on my small criticisms - I liked the movie, but he didn't seem to accept that. Anyway, I keep recalling the almost-desolate feeling of the two English-speaking characters in bright, bustling Japan.
I hope bro's doing okay.

Kodoku - Loneliness

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


I may be starting to get myself some actual TV programs to add to my schedule!
In addition to watching Desperate Housewives every week, I've been trying to catch all of Lost, but before tonight that had been about it for me and the other box.
But tonight I got a heads-up and went to check out Super Nanny USA on Nine at 6:30. It was interesting to see Nanny in action (and amusing to hear the much-hyped word 'unasseptable'). It's heartwarming stuff, and I could claim it was useful reality TV if I actually had any kids. Plus it's a prelude to Desperate Housewives on Seven at 7:30... :)

Every now and then I watch Crossing Jordan afterwards (often because the ad break is mysteriously removed between the end of one program and the start of the next), but now I've realised that a show I've been meaning to watch is on in that time slot - Enough Rope with Andrew Denton.

I like dear Andy. He's small and funny and actually asks interesting questions of his guests.
Tonight Andrew interviewed Pat Rafter, and I discovered that not all sportspeople are boring! It was interesting to hear how Patty's family helped support his career and that tennis was getting boring before he retired, that he blessed the Pope (!), and that he's been doing a lot of serious philosophising lately.

Contrast Pat's deep stoicism with... um... Augusten Burroughs, author, who remains cheerfully optimistic despite growing up in incredibly eccentric circumstances. His mother was a manic-depressive dramatic wannabe-poet, his father an emotionless alcoholic scholar. Then his mum decides she isn't cut out to be one, and so Burroughs ends up being taken in by a psychiatrist, his children, and some of his patients. He described his childhood as having 'no rules'. As a late teenager he found out he was gay when he became involved with a 33-year old who lived in the barn "like a pet". He took a career in advertising and drinking, and what stopped him from submitting to death was his untried dream of writing. So he tried, and it worked. "Sellevision", "Running With Scissors", "Dry", and the latest, "Magical Thinking".

But this was supposed to be about TV, not about books, so I must mention the ad I saw for 'Celebrity Circus' beginning next Sunday at 6:30, which in my opinion is much more appealing than 'Dancing with the Stars'.

So maybe I should get me some TV dinners to go with that microwave. :)

Monday, May 02, 2005


Check out what my sister is doing an assignment on (be warned, not for the faint of heart):

The Cost of Learning

The first semester of Microelectronic Engineering at Griffith was NOT worth $2996. The Maths class was revision from start to finish, we're still doing very basic formulas for Electrical Circuits, the 'Generic Skills' class is kinda a joke, and I'm sure I could pull everything I learned in Physics straight from a textbook.
Okay, so the semester isn't over yet, but I just saw the accounts and it's not great for someone who isn't even sure they're in the right course. $2996 is what I live on for four months - and with my expensive lifestyle :b ...
Now I don't feel like going out today. Maybe next week, once I have some more money...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Is it?

It's a physical activity.
It's a social activity.
It's a fun activity.
It can be painful.
Some types of people like to watch.

(No wonder guys are typically obsessed with it)