Archive for November, 2007

Music personality

Posted on November 11, 2007. Filed under: Music, Spirituality |

Serendipity strikes again. Yesterday’s post was about responding to a meme in which I was to name seven weird or random facts about myself. One of those was the following: “I play several musical instruments, but none of them would be welcome in a standard orchestra or band.” A couple of my generous responders wanted to know what musical instruments they could be?

I was already planning to put up a “light” post for a Sunday, regarding one of those online quizzes many of us take. This quiz is called “What Musical Instrument Should You Play?” Although this is still “post light”, the results of the quiz astounded me for reasons which shall become clear if you care to read further. First, the instruments, in the order I learned them:

Recorder This is a medieval-to-Baroque instrument still very popular today. While used in small chamber groups, it is not used in the modern orchestra.
recorder-pic.jpg

Bagpipes, specifically The Great Highland Bagpipe. I learned this when very young as part of my multicultural upbringing.

bagpipes.jpg

Ocarina Popular in South America, there are versions of this instrument in cultures throughout the world, and it predates written history.

ocarina.jpg

Native American Flute Became interested in this after making my home in the desert of the Southwest of the U.S.

na-flute.jpg

And, finally, my first string instrument since the guitar, the Lyre. I’m in the process of acquiring one of these. The one in the picture is known as “King David’s Lyre”, but variations on this kind of harp go back to ancient Egyptian and Sumerian times. It was popular in ancient Greece, and became associated with Euterpe and Eratō, the muses of the lyre and lyric poetry. Since my blog persona is a Muse, I chose a lyre as my avatar (the symbol or picture that goes with me when I leave comments on blogs). The more I researched the nine Greek muses, and the Celtic Harp, and other kinds of harps, the more I wanted to play the lyre myself.

anlyre.jpg

Then, a few days ago, I came across the quiz. “What’s your instrument?” –Of course I had to take it! I declare I gave honest answers. Imagine my goosebumps when I got these results:
You Should Play the Harp

You are a sensitive soul, with a great admiration for beauty.
You definitely have what it takes to make beautiful music, but most instruments are too harsh for you.

You are subtle, shy, and even a bit spoiled. You’re very picky about most aspects of your life.
It’s just your style to play an eccentric, hard to transport instrument like the harp that few people consider.

Overall, you have the relaxed demeanor of a leisurely upper class person, and your music would reflect that.
Your calm yet soulful harp playing would be sure to help people forget their troubles for a while.

Your dominant personality characteristic: your zen-ness

Your secondary personality characteristic: your quiet independence

What Musical Instrument Should You Play?

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Let’s get personal-just a bit…

Posted on November 10, 2007. Filed under: Culture, Games |

…with those words, my dear blog buddy sulz has tagged me!  I’ve read on other blogs that some of you don’t like to be tagged.  But, this is my first time, so I intend to enjoy it.  For those of you I’ve chosen to tag–I beg forgiveness in advance, and I’m only doing this because I’m scared of sulz (not really 😉 ), and I respect you and what you have to say about yourself.  You of course will choose whether you want to play.  Here are the instructions I was given:

  >Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

  >Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

  >Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

  >Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I want to be clear that I do not consider “weird” to be “bad”, and if I refer to my “tagees” as having some weirdness about them, it’s meant as a compliment.  (Perhaps that should have been a “random fact”).

1. I like to roam around hardware stores and office supply stores.  In fact, I could spend hours in each.

2. I sing in two choruses, but my favorite part is the rehearsals.  I don’t really like to sing in the concerts that much.

3. I do not like fashionable clothes.  I’m attracted first to the color, then the “feel-goodness” of the fabric, then finally the quality, style or tailoring.

4. I love science, learning it, blogging about it, reveling in it–but I think it’s just as faith-based as religion is.

5. I think animals understand language–not the words, but the emotion or vibration they convey.  And I think they can respond telepathically if we let them.

6. I play several musical instruments, but none of them would be welcome in a standard orchestra or band.

7. I used to daydream in school, instead of doing my work, because I was much more entranced with the imagery in my own head than what was coming out of the teacher’s mouth.

Here are the seven souls who shall be blessed with my tags (in alphabetical order): 

1poet4man     can he become even weirder or more random than his blog?

dovelove     brightness and upliftment personified

kristarella     always a fresh perspective

netty gritty     nice and weird in every sense

outofmyhead     like her, and the name of her blog practically demands it

spiritualtravelman     a multi-faceted bloke

willrhodes     his mind meanders…where?

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New Uplifting Adventure Games, Part deux

Posted on November 8, 2007. Filed under: Games, Musings |

Moral dilemmas ensue today! Yesterday I posted about a wonderful diverting and refreshing Adventure Game, Frasse and the Peas of Kejick. I said then that the hero of the game is a little blue man. In my game of the day, today, one of the first fellows you see is a big tall green guy named Lord Horrible! Game developers must like to play with colors!

I will get back to my other topics after this today–particularly as few in my immediate blogging vicinity share my obsession with computer adventure games. sigh. 😦

But, I simply must talk about Chivalry is *not* Dead, for a variety of reasons. The game was just released last month, and many of us have been waiting eagerly! I’ll admit right off the bat that one of the first acts the gamer is required to perform is to stab a guy! Yikes! Violence! I’m committed to posting only (primarily) about non-violent games here, so why am I talking about this one?

I won’t give away the plot(s), I promise, but the stabbing situation comes up very early. If there is a way to avoid killing the castle guard, I haven’t found it. I went back eight times and used every dialog and action choice there was. If you find another way, please let me know!

However things get better once the guard is dispatched…or do they? Well, this is the fascination of Chivalry, and why to play it. Every step along the way is fraught with moral choices. There are good guys (gals), bad gals (guys) and ambiguously awful–or nice, folks, depending on how they are approached. One reason I’m playing and talking about this game is because it’s from developer Deirdra Kiai, and I am a fan of her games, as well as her writing. She maintains a blog (even though some of her friends think that’s not cool 🙂 ) where she discusses the social implications of gaming, as well as other topics of interest. I’ve loved her previous games, (all of which are available for instant no-charge download at her site, and which I’ve discussed here).

So, I will just play any game she produces (even if I do have to stab this guy, eeek). I admit my morals are shifty and ambiguous, which is a perfect state for playing Chivalry. What is good? evil? right? wrong? To what lengths shall we go in order to achieve our objective?

The game has a “branching” story line, with several different endings, depending on the choice of dialog and action you make at different points in the story. I would recommend that you play the game through once, just making whatever choices seem the best at the time. Then, if you’re interested in further moral exploration, save the game whenever the location changes and explore all the choice points from each. I did this to see if I could get though the whole thing without choosing anything nasty or deceptive (well, except for that unfortunate stabbing-the-guard thing…). I’m not telling, but I did find some of the branches startling and refreshing.

Graphically, the locations are simple, clear and colorful. They advance the story without detracting from it. The music is catchy and appropriate, although doesn’t outshine the great scores in Ms Kiai’s previous two major games. There is a musical “event” that takes place that I love…’nuff said.

To conclude, I applaud Ms. Kiai for innovation in exploring socially conscious gaming, and causing the gamer to think about choices we make daily, long after the game is over. I have felt like the main character, at times–even been called names similar to his by “the other kids”. (I’ll leave you to discover his name yourself). And I have worked for Lord Horrible in the past, or someone I would have been pleased to plaster that epithet upon at the time. So, is there right, ultimately, or wrong? Or simply the best we can do at the time?

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New Uplifting Adventure Games, Part one

Posted on November 7, 2007. Filed under: Games, Musings |

I haven’t posted about games for a while, since of all the computer games out there, I only enjoy (relatively) non-violent adventure games. There is a smaller market for those than many other kinds, although there are some for children through “mature” teens. You know, the ones rated “E” for everyone. A lot of these are quite good, and a “mature” adult such as myself can get a lot of enjoyment, and sometimes life-changing philosophy from them. After having said all that, I’m about to write my thoughts on two games containing blue and green-tinted cartoon characters! The following game can be downloaded at no charge from the developer’s web site. Excellent value, to be sure.

I enjoyed my time with Frasse and the Peas of Kejick. This game has been out for a year or two, and I downloaded it quite a while ago. I have to admit; I avoided playing it for a while because one review I read said that the main characters changed in unseemly ways in the last portion of the game, and that they were “forced” to commit “violent” acts! Oh no! Not my kind of game, I thought. I should have paid attention to the fact that this was only one review–many others loved this game. And, I’m chagrined I sort of violated my own violence policy by giving more credence to the “negative” than the “positive”. Yet another lesson: watch out for that kind of social programming. I knew I would play this game eventually, though. From what I’d read about him, I respected the intentions of the developer, Rikard Peterson. Other reviews were good, and the main character, Frasse, is just adorable.

Frasse is a short blue puffball of a fellow. He has hands, feet, lots of blue fur, a few facial features, a ready smile, and a relentlessly optimistic attitude. He finds a flyer advertising a reward for finding the “Peas of Kejick”–whatever they are–and returning them to the King. That’s enough for Frasse. He’s off. While Frasse might not be the brightest tribble in the grain bin, and his conversational and interpersonal skills leave a little to be desired, he is strong, he can climb, he is determined and friendly. Besides, his lack of social skills are more than made up for by his friend, Gurra, the other major character here. Gurra is vaguely reptilian, very intelligent, can speak well and relate to people, has powerful feet-but no arms! Once Frasse gets him out of a tight spot Gurra agrees to join him on the adventure, and the two seek information, inventory objects, and transportation. As you can surmise, they sometimes must work together to solve the dilemmas in which they find themselves.

I’ll admit I didn’t get all the way through the game without a {little} reference to a walkthrough. The puzzles are well thought out, and for the most part relate to the story very well. Some of the more obscure left me scratching my head. It’s always a balance of too easy/too hard with these things, and I think Mr. Peterson strikes just the right balance. The characters are great. I liked the humanoids. They were all a little strange, but that’s comfortable for me. There were also a variety of talking animals and mythological beings in a nice mix. There are links to some reviews posted at Frasse’s website which talk about the gameplay in detail. I’ll just say I found the interface easy and innovative.

Contrary to the warning from that one review, I didn’t find any part of the game particularly violent. Young children could enjoy it without trauma, as long as Mom and Dad explain a bit about the end, and how acting in self-defense is sometimes necessary. The imagery and graphics were splendid. I’m not a techie, so I won’t go into lots of details, but this was developed using the Sludge game engine, and I like the look of all their games. The developer’s artwork and colors are top-notch. I really got a sense of the characters and their environments. I particularly enjoyed my time in the cave, although I spent a lot of time in there…and I mean a lot. The synthesized music is upbeat, and fits the environments. I would suggest, if you play, that you try to either talk to or eat everything and everyone you come across, using both character’s mouths. (You are permitted to either eat or talk, depending upon the story at that point). There are some hilarious moments to be had this way. And that brings me to the story, always my favorite part of adventure games. On one level, Frasse is sort of an ordinary adventure quest with many familiar game elements. On the other, it’s wacky and offbeat in some entertaining and surprising ways. Play it. And don’t believe any of the reviews, including this one!

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I’m out of my Comfort Zone here…

Posted on November 4, 2007. Filed under: Culture, Spirituality |

Is this a cultural thing?–I’d really like to know. In my particular culture, people are constantly admonished to “get out of your comfort zone.” “Push past your boundaries,” we’re told. And I like this one: “Exceed your limits.” –um, wouldn’t that be contrary to the definition of “limits”? Sometimes it’s put this way: “Don’t let your limitations hold you back.” –so, now I’m supposed to assume I “have” limitations imposed from outside, therefore seemingly unchangeable, but once I acknowledge this, I must refuse to accept their power.

I’m a little confused. I won’t address all these phrases, much, but the first one keeps coming up in literature of the “self-help psychology” variety–at least that which I read. So, I must ask, “Why”? Why should I leave my comfort zone? It’s called that for a reason, isn’t it? It’s…let me see if I can dredge up the word for this “zone”…ah, yes, its comfortable! Isn’t that a clue right there? Why would I want to get out of such a zone as that? The reason I think it may be partly a cultural question is because of the Puritan ethic still prevalent in my culture. Anything too comfortable or fun is looked upon suspiciously as not holy, necessary or true. “Work hard! Put your nose to the grindstone!” Ouch!

I typed the words “comfort zone” into a search engine to find out why I should “stretch” such zone. I’m given the following “reasons”:

...stretch your comfort zone and expand your opportunities. Shake off your inhibitions and move forward with life! The “reason” here, is, apparently to “move forward with life”. My comment: Is there any way not to move forward? And how, exactly, am I supposed to “shake off my limitations”?

...move forward, through awkwardness, discomfort and anxiety until such feelings subside. And when that happens, a new experience is achieved. Here, the reason is “so a new experience will be achieved”. Again, every moment is new, is it not? I might say that living in a cave, and eating the same meal day after day might not bring on new experiences. But, first of all, not many of us are willing to do that. Also, even if we did, we’re bound to notice a new bug or something, and have a new experience observing it. Finally, it’s widely reported that people who spend a great deal of time alone, meditating, or even just “being” often have profound spiritual awakenings. That would be something new.

…get off your butt and try something outside your comfort zone… Well ,this is not a reason, but just a restatement of what I’m told to do. It assumes I’m on my butt in the first place, and even if so (it’s a nice place to be sometimes), why is that unacceptable?

My thoughts include the notion that the term “comfort zone” is often misused in the popular media. I think what the psychology folks really mean here is “habit” or “inertia” or “rut”. If we were feeling oppressed by any of these, we would not be comfortable, would we? It is at the moment when our comfort zone begins to feel uncomfortable that we look for ways to feel better. Some teachers then advise us to get in touch with our fear, “and do it anyway!” Pardon me, but I think this is terrible advice. Unless one is extremely pressed for time, i.e. a charging tiger is rapidly coming towards one, I think it’s a much better idea to look at the fear, and release it, therefore making room for our true desires to come forth.

In thinking through these ideas, I was startled to discover myself challenging the assumptions of a cherished self-help and new thought mantra: “If you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results”. Put a slightly less complimentary way, I’ve also heard: “Insanity is doing the same things expecting different results”. Well, yes…on the surface. But these sayings assume what needs to be done is to go out there and “DO” something different–whether it’s scary or not, or uncomfortable or not, or many other things…or not. I keep learning and feeling that it matters so much less what we “do”, than what we think and feel. It’s at that level that any change we are wanting takes place. If we trust that, the action follows naturally.

My advice to myself, and anyone else who wants to take it, is: “Be as comfortable as possible! Do whatever it takes to revel in comfort!” Contrary to what the title of this post might suggest, I’m not out of my comfort zone in writing it.

Get it the Zone! The Comfort Zone! Woo-hoo!

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Water, water, everywhere…

Posted on November 1, 2007. Filed under: Musings, Science |

What if we, very easily from home, could participate in cleaning up currently contaminated water sources?  That’s the intention behind the latest “Intention Experiment” from science journalist Lynne McTaggart and friends.  This post had been wandering around my mind for a few days when I came across this article today.  In the US, we are seeing more and more news stories about regions running out of water, and the stories seem frightening–this southern town is O-U-T out!  The apparent water crisis is affecting many areas worldwide.

I’m not a person who believes in pointing at the news, and exclaiming and worrying about it, though.  As one of my wise teachers says, “It’s best not to focus on problems if you don’t intend to do anything about them.”

One thing I can do is bring my awareness to research and information that is intriguing or has potential.  I’ve always been fascinated with desalination, as we have plenty of ocean water to go around.  It is not safe or helpful to drink salt water, as it causes the body to excrete more water than it retains, so taking the salt from ocean water seems like a good option.  Until recently, this was prohibitively expensive, but this may change soon.

I discovered a wonderful blog all about water issues in various regions, and applaud the author for research and reporting.  I’ve already learned a lot there.

There are many causes and issues.  Air and water are primary substances for us carbon-based life entities.  I remember actually paying attention in school when I learned that our bodies are mostly water, and so is our planet.  I seem to be concerned about this.  Is there something I’m willing to do–some action I’m willing to take?  Yes. This is it.  The water intention experiment will take place on November 30 of this year.  Based on some previous research on how intention can possibly change the molecular structure of water (see the popular Emoto studies, for instance), it will use instrumentation to measure changes in the structure of water after certain experimental routines have been engaged in by participants.  The project is open to all, but one must be registered and agree to follow the procedures given.

This project may or may not be your cup of tea (or desalinated water)!  It is not for everyone, and participants must at least be able to suspend disbelief about “thoughts” affecting “things” for the duration of the experiment.  I’m not sure how I feel about it myself, but the parameters do fit my belief system, and I’m familiar with and respect Lynne McTaggart’s work, so I’m willing to give it a try.  It’s something I can do; I think it will be fun to participate; and if it gets results could be transformative for humankind.

If you are drawn to do this too, or want further information, go here.

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