Admin Note

17 December 2008

This is a boring old admin note to say that I am no longer going to tag Song of the Week entries as such. This is simply because I don’t want these tags to dominate the tag cloud. To view all Song of the Week entries, please use the  Main Subjects menu.

Thanks guys.


On Illness and Virus Protection

14 December 2008

I’ve discovered something: being ill is not fun. I don’t mean this in the obvious sense – but I’ve come to believe that being ill promotes itself. To wit (my new favourite phrase): illness saps the will of the energy to actually do anything; and this in turn lengthens the recovery process. Or at least, prolongs the agony. I am not suggesting we push ourselves into further malady, but that accepting lethargy is no substitute.

But then, it’s a sort-of catch-22, isn’t it? Because the very moment activity of some kind is helpful, my condition leaves me devoid of motivation and creativity. At the moment, all I can think of is comedy: books and TV. I would be very grateful for any other suggestions. I may take a bath to pass the time.

On another, but tenuously related note, I have finally succumbed to (commercially driven?) paranoia and am planning to install one of the many, free virus protection programs. I previously held out because I hate how they ‘hog the system’. I justified the risk by keeping Windows up-to-date and using redundant data storage. And I am perfectly happy to reinstall Windows, or reformat my hard-drive. I guess I no longer convince myself.

So If anyone feels led to recommend a particular brand of software I would be much obliged.

Song of the Week – 05 (Spanish Lady)

4 December 2008

Each week, I’ll bring you a new song to listen to. You may like it, or you may not. Either way, I’d love to for you to post your comments.

This week it’s “Spanish Lady” performed by Celtic Woman. This is a proper Irish folk song dating from 1624!

This post is in part a nod to my housemate who is infatuated with Celtic Woman (although it still is one of my favourites). I especially enjoy the epic feel to this particular performance, created by the addition of a choral element.

Cycling to Work – Day 15ish

2 December 2008

Today’s commute to work was accompanied by snow. Or at least: the slush that goes for snow in the Midlands. Thankfully I didn’t suffer from the slippery surface – I just got splatter all over my face.

Today’s unique cycling experience lead me to think about my progress so far. Somehow for the last 3 weeks or so, I’ve managed to fall out of bed each morning and onto the saddle. The ride in is still sometimes painful and tiring, but less so each week.

Then there’s the weather. I don’t mind the rain much, but it’s pretty darn cold. And I’ve learned to dread headwind. Most of my body warms up quite quickly, but not so the face and hands. I now wear gloves and also a hat under my helmet. I’ve even started to using moisturiser occasionally to counter wind-burn (or whatever it is). I figure if I can hack these next few months, then summer’ll be easy-peasy.

I’ve certainly learned a few tricks that make life easier: pannier bags are great, sponge baths aren’t too bad, and musical accompaniment is essential (not recommended for those who travel mainly in traffic).

All in all it’s not too bad. And when it comes to Friday afternoon and the train ride back, I wish I was cycling.

Song of the Week – 04 (Butterfly Lovers Concerto I)

26 November 2008

Each week, I’ll bring you a new song to listen to. You may like it, or you may not. Either way, I’d love to for you to post your comments.

This week it’s Part I from the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto. I recommend a good pair of headphones for this one.

When the violin soloist first comes on, I can’t help but imagine China’s countryside and villages.

It’s a very interesting peice: a fusion of Chinese folk melodies and Western arrangement; and is an orchestration of an ancient legend. You can find out about it here. I also highly recommend Part II (and subsequent parts).

Did you Know that You are a Philosopher?

23 November 2008

Everybody has a philosophy. You are no exception.

Maybe a better way to put it is that you have a ‘world-view’. A world-view, simply put, is a lens through which you and I view and experience “life, the universe, and everything”. It is unfortunate that many of us do not notice the lens. But it’s there all right.

Not sure? Then consider a little illustration, curtesy of a friend at church.

One day a young boy of six said to his father, “why does the world not fall down?”

To which his father explained in simple terms that the Earth orbits the Sun. He even referred to Newton’s universal law of gravitation (as he was a physics teacher).

The boy – ever inquisitive – then asked, “well, how do you know?”

His father, rubbing his hands and getting into his element, noted that many astronomers have observed this phenomenon in different parts of the sky. And these observations can be used to derive the law.

Beginning to sound like a philosopher or a good physicist, the boy then asked how astronomers could know that gravitation is a universal law?

Impressed now, the father explained that the law is constant throughout known reality (as far as we can tell, and assuming Newtonian physics for now).

Now sounding suspiciously older than six, the boy asked why this is the case. To which the father replied as best he could: he said, “it just is”.

At that point, the boy’s father revealed to his son part of his own world-view. The moment his father said “it just is”, is when we can see one of his father’s most fundamental assumptions.

Now, this simple story may not be realistic, or apply to everyone. But the point remains: we all have fundamental assumptions about reality. And that’s all they are: assumptions. And we can easily discover some of them by allowing ourselves to reach a similar stage where we must simply say, “it just is”.

What is your philosophy, what is your lens? Do you like what you discover? Are you confident in your assumptions? It is important to know what you assume, and why you assume it.

I leave you with a quote by Eric Hoffer:

“What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people’s faces as unfinished as their minds.”

Song of the Week – 03 (FBI)

19 November 2008

Each week, I’ll bring you a new song to listen to. You may like it, or you may not. Either way, I’d love to for you to post your comments.

This week it’s “FBI” by The Shadows

While this recording isn’t amazing, you can get the gist of it. Go here if you want to see a more recent recording (still not great).

I can certainly imagine a car chase to this track – probably somewhere along the flat and dusty fields of central US. Probably during the prohibition.