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This article, titled Looking for Madam Tetrachromat, reminded me of an exercise that I went through in an Introduction to Philosophy class that I once took. In that exercise, we had to prove or disprove the philosophy that reality is what our senses tell us it is. Something is only real once we see it, feel it, touch it, etc. I argued that this is bull-poopy. An object is real, whether or not we see it. It exists, therefore it is real. Even if no one on earth ever sees it, it is still real. A rock is always a rock. A green plant is always a green plant.

Then I read the above article. Apparently, there are some women who can see more colors than everyone else on the planet. Instead of having just red, green and blue receptors in the eye, these women have a fourth receptor. To them, the world appears different, because they see colors differently. That green plant may not actually be green; they may see it as a different, lusher, richer color. This plant, this real thing, will look different to them.

This idea has really thrown me, for some reason. It made me realize that what I assume to be real is dependent on what I see, or smell, or touch. Even though I argued against the idea that our reality is what we sense, I have, in a way, been living this philosophy. Never has something I’ve read forced me to re-examine my philosophy as much as this article has.

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There’s a lot of interesting things on the net today! 🙂 Here is a web-based word processor – sorta. It actually seems to be an artists attempt at showing what his ideal word processor would be. I quite like his project, and enjoy the opportunity to write my thoughts on a bunch of different objects, including a receipt and plug paper!

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I find both humor and hope in this article about Microsoft’s appeal. Microsoft has taken an interesting approach to this case: contempt. They are not trying to hide their contempt for Judge Jackson or Jackson’s ruling. They are going after both his Findings of Fact and his Remedy. Interesting strategy. I don’t think it’ll work, but interesting.

I don’t expect Microsoft to be broken up. I fully expect that part of the Remedy to be denied. What I really hope to see, however, is the appeals court to agree that Microsoft needs to release the full set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), or even the source code to Windows itself. Once this information is public, Microsoft will be less able to control the computer industry.

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eBooks are definitely in our future. Everyone who has watched an episode of Star Trek knows this. We are destined to carry books around on paperback-sized book readers. Until these become ubiquitous, however, it is far more likely that we’ll read books on our computers online. A really cool site to try this is Bookface. Here you can browse and read books for free. It’s a nice site, featuring authors who deserve a break. Give it a try today!

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Readers of my weight journal will know that I have sleep apnea. This is something which I have had all of my life, but I just had it diagnosed last year. A thought occurred to me just yesterday: if I had had my sleep apnea corrected while I was in college, would I have a degree in Microbiology right now?

It’s an interesting question. I graduated Salutatorian from high school, and silver cord from junior college. I then went to Colorado State University, where I majored in microbiology. However, not very long into my academic career at CSU, I ran into problems.

My grades for my first semester at CSU were very reasonable. I pulled down a 3.5 GPA for my first semester at the big school. I thought that that was quite an accomplishment. I had had a little bit of trouble in my microbiology class, but I attributed that to problems balancing work and school. I would work from 5:00am – 8:30am, then have class at 9:00am. I found it very hard to stay awake during the microbiology class, and would often doze through parts of the class. Then, come time for the test, I would not remember a key point, and end up with a not-up-to-my-standards score. I ended up just missing a “B” by a couple of points, which pulled my GPA down from a 3.7 or so to the 3.5.

My problems really appeared in the second semester. I started having more problems staying awake during classes. Changing the hours that I worked didn’t really seem to make a difference. I just could not stay awake during class. For some of the classes I took, it didn’t seem to make a difference. I was getting by in Immunology, was cruising in SciFi, understood the basic concepts in Physics II, and thought I had everything down in Shakespeare. Biochemistry was my big problem. For some reason, I just could not grasp the concepts being taught. At the time, it never occurred to me that sleeping through half of a class makes it difficult to keep up with a good course, let alone a challenging course like Biochem.

Then came the big shocker: the Shakespeare midterm. Up until midterms, I thought I was doing fine. I was getting consistent feedback (in the form of tests and papers) from my other classes, and I knew that I was in pretty good shape. But the Shakespeare class did not have any tests or papers or anything: we went over three or four plays, then had a major midterm. I thought that I was sitting pretty good, took the test, and suddenly realized I hadn’t the faintest idea what we had gone over the past 8 weeks. It was a scary feeling. Not even the fact that, out of the 35 students in the Intro to Shakespeare class, 17 others besides me got an F on the midterm was enough to console me. I had failed a class! I had never gotten an “F” on a test before. NEVER! I didn’t know what to do.

So I ended up tanking the rest of the semester in ALL of my classes. I stopped going to class regularly, started drinking more, and started staying out late with friends whenever I could. I basically turned my back completely on school. It wasn’t a very wise decision, but I was only 19 years old at the time. I didn’t know how to deal with that disappointment, with the thought that I had just failed at something.

I meant to drop all of my classes. I really did. But somehow I just never got around to it. Come finals week, I knew that I had two choices, and they’d both lead to flunking: 1) take the tests and try to salvage something out of the mess I had gotten myself into, or 2) blow the whole thing off, move back to Trinidad, and forget school. I decided to study, and take my chances. All in all, it didn’t make any difference. The rooms or times (or both) for both the Shakespeare and Physics finals had been changed; I missed them completely. I couldn’t bring myself to step into the room for the Biochem final. I did take the SciFi final, because I was pretty sure I would pass it. And I did. I ended up with a C in that class, even though I had missed approximately 33% of the class meetings. For every other class on my schedule that semester, I received an F.

I’ve always blamed the drinking and the going out with friends as the things which caused my educational disaster at CSU. But now that I think about it, I am not so sure that this is true. I’ve been selectively remembering what happened there, I think. Because I have been remembering the drinking and partying as happening before the academic problems. But the more I reflect, the more I work my memory on this, the more I am certain that the academic problems happened first.

So that leads me back to my original point. If I had had treatment for my sleep apnea, would things have been different? I realize now that the answer is: Absolutely! The Intro to Microbiology course is the main reason I think this. For my first semester, I did well in all of my classes, except for Micro. I could not stay awake during this class, and that led directly to me getting a “C” instead of a “B” or an “A”. If I had been getting full nights of sleep, I would’ve been able to do much better in Micro. But the big differences would’ve been in the second semester.

By the second semester, my sleep problems were really mounting up. I also had most of my classes later in the day; the sleep deprivation from the apnea would always kick in later in the day. By lunch time, I was starting to get sleepy. By 2:00 in the afternoon, I was asleep, no matter where I was. There was no way that I could stay awake in the classes I was taking. And that spelled disaster.

I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I think I am a somewhat-intelligent man. I have never had a real problem with schoolwork, as long as I could actually study and absorb information in class. Because I was mostly-asleep through these classes, I didn’t have the chance to absorb any information. I basically had to try to teach myself this subject matter. Teaching one’s self Intro to Sociology is pretty easy: teaching one’s self Biochemistry or Physics II is not easy (or at least not easy for me).

Being able to stay awake would’ve made a huge difference. I would’ve been able to stay ontrack with the subjects I was studying. It wouldn’t have been easy, but I am sure that I would’ve been able to earn a degree in Micro.

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I had an absolutely bizzare and chilling nightmare the other night. It was enough to wake me up out of a solid, deep sleep. It started out as my normal tornado dream. I am in a mountain town somewhere (probably my hometown of Trinidad, CO, but I don’t know for sure), and suddenly, from out of nowhere, a tornado is coming directly towards me. In my dream, me and my fiancee went running into a cinderblock house and hid under two seperate beds.

This is where the dream changed from the normal to the bizzare. As we were waiting for the tornado to actually hit the house, I realized that there was a baby on top of the bed. I looked up, and the baby started talking to me! There was something about the look of the baby that was creepy, but I didn’t know what it was. (The fact that a five-month old baby was talking didn’t seem to phase me, though.) I asked the baby how he got to be on the bed, and he started talking about his mom taking him out of his crib, carrying him around, and then slamming his head into a table, breaking his neck! I suddenly realized that the baby was dead, and I was talking to a ghost!

I then finally saw what was creeping me out about the baby. The baby had a hypodermic need sticking through his eye. In my dream, both me and my fiancee started screaming! And that’s when the nightmare ended.

It may not sound like much, but it scared the HELL out of me!

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Very interesting…. I just watched Stigmata last night, where I first heard about The Gospel of Thomas. I tend not to keep up with happenings in the religious realm, and had not heard of it.

After doing a little research on the web, and reading various translations of what the Gospel of Thomas contained, I don’t understand the controversy. It seems very plausible that Jesus could’ve said the things that Thomas (or whoever wrote this Gospel) attributed to Jesus. Nothing is a huge departure from what the four accepted gospels attribute to Jesus.

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One of the most touching songs that I’ve ever heard is by Christian country artist Gary Chapman (the former Mr. Amy Grant). The song’s title is “Sweet Jesus”. Though it can be construed as a Christian song, it is really more the tragic story of a bridge that collapsed during a flood. A man in his 80s saw this happen, and dived into the river to see if he could help anyone. He came across a mother struggling to save her baby. He took the baby and swam for the shore. The mother drowned, the old man made the shore but died not long afterwards.

The lyrics are touching and almost heartbreaking. Describing the old man, Chapman (who wrote the song) sings, “He took the child/then he was swimming/like he was 20/he made shoreline/and then he died.” As the man that the baby boy became, Chapman sings “I miss my mother and that brave old man/though I didn’t know them/They are the soul in the man I am…”

It is an incredible song that most of the public hasn’t heard. But you should hear this song. Follow this link to buy Chapman’s Into the Light CD, or do a search for the song on Napster.