Posted by Raul on May 12, 2011
It’s been with me for such a long time. So long that it seems it’s been forever.
At first I didn’t choose what kind of car it’ll be, it just happened to be there when I wanted one, and so it became part of my life. With a happy heart from my part we both started to roam the land together, without knowing what the future would be.
After so many years of trouble and continuous fixing to keep it rolling, it just became the way things are, without much thought about the practicality of that fortuity association, and even more, the logic behind the continuity of such association.
There was no reason to question why remaining the ownership when the absence of practicality was the norm. Maybe becoming accustomed to the same sight everyday; maybe the bothering thoughts of having to start from scratch at rebuilding and upgrading another one. This car runs good enough, even if it’s not what it’s really needed, so why bother with the restoration process in another car that has the desired characteristics.
But then, without the intention of searching or shopping around, after so many years, this other car showed up and presented many of the characteristics that seemed to be the ones originally desired.
Practicality is still absent, I must add and admit, yet the many different characteristics that make the personality of a car, and that are the ones that most appeal to my desires and needs, seem to be there.
It is not about the opportunity to switch cars, but rather the situation that, having appeared from nowhere, call the attention to the forgotten elements that create the deepest bonding that suppose to be the base in everything.
All the forgotten questioning that became buried in the past, to give way to a dull, numb driving of the already driven roads; and even more, defy the acceptance of continuity when the old questioning surface once again.
But then the doubts: What if, after going through the same long process of restoration, the impracticality still shows up in this other car? Wouldn’t that be changing everything just to get back to the same place? Why bother then?
At the other hand: Is it all these doubts because of fear to fall into the same situation after so much work? What if the different characteristics really make a big difference? Why not to give it a try?
Then again; is it proper to fail to the given word of continuity? And does such condition really exist? What about the roads that cannot be traveled because the actual car doesn’t adapt to the requirements of such roads? Should be a renounce to those roads the proper way of behavior? Or just a point of cowardice or social adaptation?
What a confusing situation!
To drive or not to drive! To restore again or maintain forever?
I can’t deny the excitement of just the thoughts of driving that other car in new, different roads; different to the normally traveled for so many years, once the restoration process is completed (if such thing exists!).
Maybe pondering the situation a little longer; maybe forgetting about it completely and just keep going as it has been for so long, to the point of becoming again “the way things are”
The eternal internal battle of logic and reason against feelings and intuition: Which one brings the permanent, or at least longer, state of internal harmony?
Why do we humans love to always create new problems to ourselves?!
Posted by Nacho on April 7, 2011
Today, my good friend Ignacio Jordi is visiting this blog, bringing with him his very interesting thoughts that always makes us think and gives us an opportunity to know more about ourselves. If you haven’t visited Nacho at his blog Zerebria, please take some time and stop by to read his timeless and very educative posts.
Casiotone nostalgia, or the way we learn
Hello everybody, and thank you once again Raul for letting me show up at your wonderful blog; I’m honored of being a guest here in Alien Ghost, for sure one of the friendliest aliens on this side of the galaxy! My article today is about learning. I hope you find it enjoyable.
Some of you may remember it; in my country it got to be sort of a symbol of the 80′s, one of those many objects from that decade which have become a dear memory. The Casiotone PT-1 was not longer than a laptop screen, its keys were so tiny that they were almost square, and it had a very recognizable rhythm that was sort of its anthem (too-kee-too-kee-too-kee-too-too-too-kee-too-kee-too-kee…)
That cute and comic electric keyboard was my first one, the instrument that introduced me, and many people in my generation, to the delights of playing music.
But the Casiotone PT-1 had one more feature, the one I want to focus on: it was monochannelled. In other words, it only allowed you to play one note at a time; no sound appeared when you pressed a second key unless you released the former first.
Now you might say it was a limitation rather than a feature, but try and see it through the eyes of a kid who is approaching for the first time the world of music, of making music. Fascinated, I practiced every catchy tune I could think of, in the mood of someone who disassembles a toy to see what’s inside.
Obviously, you need no more than one hand to play a single note, so I could help myself with the other hand when I had to play something that was fast or tricky, and the result was always gratifying. I used to practice over and over until the notes came perfect. The only variation factor I was allowed was the four different instrument sounds to play with.
I did not know it at the time, but it turned out to be a perfectly natural introduction to music. A succession of single notes, one at a time, is what in musical theory is called a melody. And melody is the skeleton of any musical education, the first thing that humans tried out when they intended to make pretty sounds.
So the limitation imposed by the instrument kindly forced me to train myself in the basics of music; all my attention was focused on the melody, and the quality of sound. There was nothing else to care for.
That way, when, later on, I moved to a new, more potent keyboard, which allowed simultaneous channels (I think they were four), I was ready for the new challenge ahead: simultaneity of notes. Harmony. My next step, then, was fleshing out the melodies I had learned; to my surprise, I discovered that any song allowed a lot of possible ‘dressings’, the choice was not limited to finding a single ‘right one’. My research took me to new stages, to more complex ‘toys’, as I started to try out different chords and series…
Learning is the process of practicing an ability under controlled circumstances. The first surfing lesson is taken on land. The skilled spokesman records himself at home, with no people round, to see how he looks and sounds. The child gets familiar with the bike using small supporting wheels before heading for the challenge of balance on only two…Sometimes I wonder if I would have learned music the way I did if my first keyboard had been one of those high-tech monsters around in our days. I’m no specialist, maybe there are still monochanelled beauties out there, but the mainstream seems to be dominated by keyboards with zillions of instruments and virtually no channel limitation, where pressing the demo button bursts into a Sting song or a Wagner, loud as hell.
Maybe I would have learned just the same, but I would have had to figure out the ‘chunks’, the limitations by myself. So my conclusions are: 1) learning is one of those fields in which less is more, and 2) when trying to help someone learn, removing options is not imposing a handicap; it is being considerate.
Can you think of other examples of learning under controlled circumstances? Do you impose yourself limitations to help you learn something? Ever had a Casiotone PT-1?
Nacho Jordi is a psychologist and translator who lives in Madrid (Spain). He is the author of the Zerebria blog, where he offers tips and hints for personal development and conscious living, besides all kind of contemporary musings.
Posted by Raul on December 2, 2010
Having money to pay for all the stuff we need seems to be the perfect solution for a simplified and easy life, yet money can become a problem, even if is in small amounts.
What I see (and it has happened to me) is the lost of ingenuity to solve even simple, everyday problems. We tend to just use money for everything (plastic…kicking the purchase to the future) and forget how to use our creativity. I know because when in my country in South America, due to a lack of money, I used to take apart every mechanical device that supposed to be disposable, and fix it with ingenuity and lots of work.
For some time, while in the States, I used the normal procedure of throwing away and buying a new one. Soon I discovered I was loosing my capability of thinking, analyzing, and even the fun of fixing something that suppose to be “not fixable” (breaking the system ), and instead having the stress of requiring more and more money.
Let me give you an example:
Some time ago I had a problem with the alternator in my van. It stopped charging, and for a vehicle with everything electric, and using it for night delivery, it just couldn’t be driven without it. So I checked the cost in an auto part store and got shocked: More than 300 dollars for a rebuilt one! I just couldn’t afford it at that moment.
So decided to go back to the “ingenuity solution system” and took the alternator apart to find out what the exact problem was. It happened to be the carbon brushes that wore out beyond the minimum size. So searched in my tool box and found a couple of old, used carbon brushes from another vehicle, which were bigger in size. I sand them down to the approximate size required, then installed them in the alternator and returned it to the vehicle.
It worked like a charm! It’s been more than 25,000 miles since then and it is still working without a problem. Total cost: Zero! Time: Approximately twice that it’ll take just exchanging the old alternator for a new one (four hours).
There are many things we can do, not only to save money, but to keep “oiled” our creativity, and avoid becoming more and more dependant on money to solve everyday problems.
It is really nice to just buy and replace, especially when there’s new, with more features to enjoy, but the problem is we are giving up our thinking capabilities in the process, and after a while, we might find ourselves unable to find solutions to bigger, life-size problems, becoming people highly trained in using the latest device, yet desperate for more money to sustain our way of life, and having at the same time a sense of loss that we cannot explain (so many in search of minimalism, self awareness, inner balance, and so on).
“Sometimes having money can destroy a good, working brain”
Ahh…the pleasures of not being rich!
Posted by Raul on September 20, 2010
There have been many inventions throughout time that we can classify as very important or useful in our lives, many creations that have helped us in achieving things or simplify our everyday tasks.
One of my personal favorites is the bicycle!
Even though I wasn’t an “all the time” rider, I did have my share of bicycles in my younger years in the past Millennium (yeah, I’m that old!) and I can remember brief images of happiness while pedaling around the block and trying things with my trusted bicycle of the moment.
It is my opinion there is no other transportation device that allows us to enjoy and experience the surroundings while traveling better than a bicycle. We can feel the breeze and the wind; we can hear every sound around and smell every scent that happens to be in the area we are going through.
About twenty five years ago I read in a newspaper the news about a man who wanted to travel and see the world, so he said goodbye to his girlfriend and took his bicycle to travel almost all around the planet, which took him twenty years! When he finished his trip he went back to find his girlfriend was still waiting for him, so they got married
At one hand, talk about waiting for a loved one! But at the other, what an experience it must have been! All the sights, all the feelings, all the memories…I would love to do something like that, but I’m not that crazy! (No, I won’t do it)
Such a simple machine that works as an “energy multiplier”
With the same energy used for walking five miles we can travel fifteen miles, thanks to the bicycle. We also can transport more packages than we could when just holding them in our hands.
I’m not talking here about the “green” aspect of a bicycle, which is very important nowadays indeed, but if you consider that a bicycle doesn’t need fuel, oil, heavy maintenance, registration, insurance, etc, there are so many elements, expenses and work we can save ourselves from when riding a bicycle instead of a car, or even a motorcycle or a scooter.
So for these reasons a bicycle represents freedom to move and explore, without having to carry too many tools or spare parts and without being dependant on finding supplies and fuel on the road.
“The bicycle will rule in apocalyptic times!” (Just kidding)
But maybe is mostly a thing for older generations.
My son is not a bicycle rider; he is just not interested and rather prefers to ride the bus when going back and forth to college, so he can relax and listen to history podcasts in his ipod. I think is a great thing though, so he is using the transportation time in a way of acquiring more knowledge…a practical way to use time.
But for the older generations the bicycle was more about enjoying the moment than using it wisely, I must admit (at least in my case)
So when I have the time and some energy left, I like to jump over my bicycle and have a short trip around in the area where I live, just to revive those memories of a child pedaling with energy against the wind; having a reddish face with the heat and a big smile that reflected a being enjoying the surroundings, the views, the breeze and the sights; enjoying the moment, the now, in this amazing planet we have.
Posted by Raul on July 22, 2010
The invention of the wheel against the invention of the tax declaration procedures
Simplicity please! Simplicity is the key for a better life!