Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Secret

First off, a few facts that are not my secret, and are fairly public knowledge about me.
  • I still live with my parents.
  • In December of 2010, we moved to a new house that is much nicer than any we have ever lived in before.
  • My Dad is very proud of this house, but he is also the type of person who is very serious about keeping nice things nice, and wouldn't take well to, say, a sizable hole in the wall of his nice new house (purely hypothetically speaking, of course.)
And now, here is the secret:

That is the wall below my desk in my bedroom. A while back I accidentally made that hole in the wall. Now, I don't know the first thing about how to fix things like this, so I have to tell my dad eventually, or it will never be fixed. However, he's not going to be very happy about it, and I'm not in a big hurry to have to deal with it, so I've chosen the latter or those two options. Now it's been a fairly long time, and that hole is still there. I haven't even told a single person (outside of this blog entry and the forthcoming class discussion) about it yet. I've covered it with some cardboard, and I barely even remember it. I know that eventually I'll have to deal with it, but for now I'm making the real mature move of just ignoring it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fear Assignment

Part 1

Step 1: Examine

As I thought about fear and what it meant to me, I couldn't really identify any specific fears of mine. This is not to say that I don't have any fear, though, as this is far from the case. It's just that I don't think I have many specific fears (like spiders, or heights, or anything like that), at least that I could identify. What I realized, however, was that I felt fear most when I was worried about things that were highly unlikely. For example, right about the time of this assignment, I had a somewhat large situation come up with another class. I knew rationally that this situation would almost certainly resolve itself just fine, but I was really concerned about it. That feeling of fear at that time really let me observe my own fear, and identify that it mostly seems to happen even when I know nothing will likely happen.

Step 2: Experiment

For my experiment, I chose to show a video that I had seen a long time ago. The video attempts to startle the viewers, and I thought this was a good metaphor for what I think of fear. The video tries to instill a very brief moment of fear, even though the viewers never rationally think that anything is going to happen. Furthermore, many of the "subjects" in my experiment were likely expecting the startling moment, thus making it lose its effectiveness. However, I expected that several of them would still be startled. This added another metaphorical layer, as it again showed fear happening when there was no rational concern.

Step 3: Hypothesis

As I discussed in my previous entry, I suspected that some of the subjects would be startled, and others would completely see it coming and not be affected at all.

Steps 4-6: Experiment/Reaction/Analysis

I conducted this experiment in class. One of my expected outcomes definitely happened, as at least one person had already seen the video and knew exactly what to expect. With the lights out, I couldn't tell for sure if anyone was legitimately startled, so unfortunately I don't really know how that half of the hypothesis worked out. I expected a little more noticeable reaction, and I failed to account for my inability to judge people's reactions with the lights out. Still, I am largely content with the results, as I think the experiment was fairly successful in its metaphorical goals.

Step 7: Proposed Changes

If I could change any variables in the experiment I would primarily make sure I could observe the reactions better. Perhaps I could record them. I also would perform the experiment in an environment where less people would expect it (as opposed to a room full of people specifically discussing fear). This way some people would likely see it coming, but a greater percentage might not.

Part 2

There were two presentations that most connected with me. The first was the person (I can't remember his name) who talked about asking "What's the worst that can happen?" This connected with me because of its inherent similarities to the conclusions I had drawn, specifically about fear being in a situation where there is little to no rational reason for concern. This affected my project by forcing me to think about the contrasts between his ideas and my own. He spoke of the idea as a way of sort of overcoming fear, and it made me see more strongly the disconnect in my project between rational thought and the existence of fear.

The other project that connect with me was Daniel MacLean's. It showed something so different from mine in that it showed a very specific fear, where I couldn't really come up with any. However, it largely dealt with the same idea as mine, the idea of fear without rational concern. Also, Daniel briefly discussed some of the  religious/spiritual aspects of his fear, which also resonated with me. Like Daniel, I would call myself a Christian, and the in-class discussion about the relationship between his faith and fear made me think about any possible connections between my own fears and my personal religious beliefs. I am still thinking about this, and although I haven't reached any solid conclusions, it definitely seems like a very worthwhile idea to think about.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Has Stuck Sideways

There are a lot of things I remember about the class so far, but here are three that jump out to me off the top of my head:

Discussing daydreaming. I daydream all the time, but I think this is the first time that I've been forced to really think critically about it, or had it addressed in a serious way. It was really interesting.

Getting something new out of a music theory class I took more than two years ago. As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, the discussion of the definition of music and John Cage was almost identical to one from my Music Theory I class I took at the beginning of my sophomore year. However, having this same conversation in the context of how it relates to all of creativity instead of just music was very significant, as it made me look at those things I already thought (about music and such) from a different perspective.

Being told to relax. I know, on a purely objective level, that I should not overwork myself, and that I should take breaks and do things that I like once in a while. However, this has always been hard for me. I have a tendency to be quick enough to "waste time" when I feel like I have plenty of time, but as soon as there's any kind of deadline or need on me, I can't make myself do or even think about much of anything else. I'm in my eighth and final semester of college right now, and I think every semester so far has ended with me overstressing and overworking to the point where I have gotten sick (and I rarely get sick at all). And I know that I could and should take a little time to relax at some point during times like that, but I rarely do. Being told that in class really stood out to me, even though it only reinforced something I already knew.

This class has been VERY different from any other class I've taken. Perhaps the biggest difference has been the assignments. I can't think of any other class where the assignments basically boil down to "do something."

I hope that this class can continue to have more significant moments for me like the ones I've mentioned above. These are where it really seems like the class is having an impact that will actually stick with me, and I want more of that.

Fear Hypothesis

(If by chance you read this before and are now seeing that it says something different, it is because I tweaked my hypothesis and experiment and wanted this post to reflect that.)

I hypothesize that my experiment will have mixed reactions. For some participants, it will be startling and cause them to jump. For others, it will have little effect. Either or both of these outcomes are part of the intended results of the experiment, and hopefully both will occur.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Unexpected Improv

For this assignment, I wanted to do something that sort of expressed or was related to the meaning and purpose of my totem, but obviously wasn't using it for it's intended purpose. Since my totem was a guitar pick, I obviously couldn't play a guitar or anything similar with it for this assignment. But when I thought about what a guitar pick actually is and what it does, I decided that I wanted to use it to play some sort of music. After some experimentation, I landed on playing a glockenspiel (a percussion instrument usually played with mallets, similar to a xylophone) with the pick. I "plucked" the bars on the glockenspiel that would normally be struck, and the result was a slightly different tone to the instrument.

Here is a video of me playing it:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Class Reflection 2/27/11

The thing that jumped out to me most about today's class wasn't necessarily something about the class itself. I found the discussion about the definition of music very interesting, and since I am a musician, that should come as no surprise. However, what was most interesting to me was that I found it just as interesting when we had almost the same conversation (right down to the use of, and debate about the value of, John Cage's ""4'33") in Music Theory I, which I took my freshman year. This is not a bad thing, though. I found that conversation interesting then, and I gained plenty of insight from it, but because of the context in which it was being presented I was only looking at it in terms of music. Now, having the same conversation in a totally different class, I can look at it as it relates to a much broader field of topics.

Also, today's class reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite musicians, Tom Waits. He does a lot of the sort of found sounds and unorthodox uses of things in his music. He said,
"Everything is a potential instrument, it depends on how you use it. I remember I was doing Swordfishtrombones and somebody took a stool -- a metal stool -- and started dragging it across the studio floor to move it out of the way. And I said, "That's really thrilling. Do that again and abundantly and carefully and repeatedly, please." It sounded like bus brakes on a big city bus. So I like things that fall outside of the spectrum of what we consider traditional instruments and acceptable sound. I love all that." (source)

Monday, February 20, 2012


First off, here are my "What if..." questions. For these, I tried to more or less completely turn off my mind's filter, and just write the first thing that came into my mind. As a result, some of these are better or more unique than others.

1. What if tigers could fly?
2. What if tigers were really good at chess?
3. What if tigers were great musicians?
4. What if tigers were sentient?
5. What if tigers had their own society?
6. What if humans evolved from tigers?
7. What if tigers evolved from humans?
8. What if tigers are actually aliens?
9. What if there are no such thing as tigers, and they’re just a mass hallucination?
10. What if some people were tigers in disguise?
11. What if some tigers were people in disguise?
12. What some people were tigers in disguise, who were in turn people in disguise?
13. What if tigers made great pets?
14. What if tiger sharks were actual tiger-shark hybrids?
15. What if tiger the tiger society (from no. 5) had a civil war?
16. What if in this tiger civil war, there was a tiger Abraham Lincoln?
17. What if tigers were robots?
18. What if tigers kept other animals in their own zoos?
19. What if dead tigers came back as zombies?
20. What if tigers teamed up with apes to cause the apocalypse?
21. What if tigers made their own TV shows?
22. What if tigers could use computers?
23. What if tigers were super intelligent, but incapable of understanding art?
24. What if people ate tigers like they do other animals?
25. What if tigers were common as pets?
26. What if tigers had their own pets?
27. What if all fake tigers (toys, pictures, etc.) were actually alive and real tigers?
28. What if there was a super hero tiger?
29. What if every family had one member who was a tiger?
30. What if a tiger was elected President?
31. What it tigers had awesome beards?
32. What if tigers built the pyramids?
33. What if every tiger alive is actually one tiger who can make duplicates of him/herself?
34. What if tigers could play awesome guitar solos, but were otherwise no different than usual.
35. What if the earth was made of tigers?
36. What if tigers were behind every conspiracy theory ever?
37. What if every sports team named for tigers was made up of actual tigers?
38. What if Mac OS X Tiger was an actual tiger?
39. What if a tiger sued Apple over the use of its likeness in Apple’s OS.
40. What if tigers could only be found in Ohio?
41. What if a tiger got a job as a banker?
42. What if the band Tigers on Trains was made up of actual tigers?
43. What if Hollywood remade all Nicholas Cage movies, replacing Cage with a tiger?
44. What if the president had to fight a tiger to be inaugurated?
45. What if a tiger was named king of Pennsylvania?
46. What if tigers could transform into cars?
47. What if tigers could regrow their limbs like lizards?
48. What if a tiger endorsed a political candidate?
49. What if tigers could do someone’s homework for them for a fee?
50. What if tigers were functional alcoholics?

Secondly, here is what I made based around the idea of a tiger. Since this assignment it is due on Presidents' Day, and it's related to one of my questions, I figured the only reasonable thing I could do was create an image of some presidents fighting a tiger.

This image was created by compositing parts of several images I found online. The sources are as follows: