You all understand!

If you haven’t heard of her before, you’re missing out. The absolutely awesome Zombie Song is currently a free download. Get it. Nine times.

One thing you’ll have to understand is that I’m going to make a lot of obscure references to things and then go out of my way to find links that help you understand why I say half the stupid things I do. now if only real life had something like that. That way I could just, you know, call up a youtube video above my head to explain what I’m talking about to someone. Instead of looking like a blithering idiot.

Today in my songwriting class, I performed for the first time since getting home from Chile in front of a group of people. Can I say I was incredibly nervous? Like I-stood-behind-the-piano-so-you-couldn’t-see-my-twitching-leg nervous? I nearly fell over. It was awesome.

The end.

Robots can’t love.

Courtesy of a favorite webcomic of mine, I accidentally discovered some pretty interesting stuff yesterday.

First off is – pretty much someone’s attempt to get a robot to pass the Turing Test, which is essentially a test to determine whether or not a given respondent to the test is human or not. Apparently it’s doing a fairly good job.

Next up is this video… It’s two chat bots talking to each other. Some freaky things to note…

  • Both bots identified the other as a robot
  • The subject of God was addressed
  • One of the robots wanted a body
Anybody else worried about the impending robot apocalypse? Yeah, me neither.
But anyway, it got me thinking. That and the fact that Cleverbot keeps bringing up the subject of love have made me have to explain to a robot why it can’t love.
So here’s why robots can’t love.
Love is a decision. No matter what the songs say, what the media may have you think, love it not some mystical magical force that just sucks people in like some horrifying black hole calamity and ruins lives, relationships, and exterminates the dodo bird.
In order to really be able to make a decision – a moral decision, not a random decision, you have to be free. Robots aren’t free. They’re programmed. They are defined and have their limits. A robot cannot make a moral decision because they aren’t really alive. They’re like some sort of freaky macro-virus-thingy.
Allow me to explain. Right about now Jenny Deenik is going to be so proud that I actually remembered our discussion sophomore year as to what makes something alive, and my little sister is probably going to say, “Hey, we just did that!”
There are seven general characteristics of life.
  • Ability to reproduce. Robots can’t.
  • Response to stimuli. Robots do.
  • Growth. Robots…don’t.
  • Adaptation. Good AI like Cleverbot does adapt, so points there.
  • Metabolism…I suppose you could consider some forms of robotic power like that…but I have yet to see a clear-cut example of robotic metabolism.
  • Organization. Well, robots are organized…but not on a cellular level.
  • Homeostasis, or the regulation of internal environment such as temperature. I don’t think cooling fans and heat sinks qualify for this.
So, in general, robots get a 3-4 out of 7.
The point being that robots can’t love. At least, not yet.
Love is a choice. Love isn’t randomly born and then one day just dies. We choose whether or not to love. We may fight a lot with people who are really close to us, but at the end of the day, we may still choose to love them. We are free to choose, and act based on those choices. It’s the one thing we have, really. Our choices. We can choose love or hate. It’s easy when you get right down to it.
So remember: choose love. Because robots can’t.

Monday Music Map

Well, I promised music updates on Mondays…not sure how long this is going to hold out. I’m a bit too ADD to really stick to that kind of a commitment. But somehow I’ll try.

If you haven’t seen this site, and are looking for new music, check it out. It’s called the Music Map. Put in a band you like and it gives you a map of similar artists that other people listen to. I’m finding several new bands to listen to. Alternately, check out That’s the main site. It lets you put in 3 of your favorite bands and then gives a series of recommendations based on feedback from other users to find new bands for you.

I decided to try breaking the AI used by inputting the same band 3 times, and found out something interesting: unfortunately, selections made are based off only one of the bands you list. Then I got even more bored and decided to find three bands that are entirely unrelated and plug them in. Gandalf (apparently a death metal band – found them on Wikipedia and have never listened to them. Probably never will), Leona Lewis, and The Moldy Peaches. Turns out I didn’t recognize a single band…which wasn’t very useful, especially since I couldn’t tell which of the three they were similar to.

Interestingly enough, turns out that this website also allows you to look for books and movies.

You’ll probably be hearing even less from me now.

I’m not kidding. I may just hole up in the library and find all the new authors is recommends.

See, I was that one kid in middle school who read way too much. To illustrate the point, apparently, my little sister ran into the middle school librarian the other day, and ten years later she still remembers me by name. I don’t think I ever once did anything more than check out books.

So…see you never.


So if you haven’t looked at it, you should totally check out my friend Staci’s blog. Especially if you’re in need of a good laugh. Or a random story that has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Except narwhals.

Truth is

Truth is, some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed. That’s why I love napping.

Anyone reading this should know that I have depression. And I look at it much like Churchill’s black dog.

A lot of the reason I focus so much on so many good things is because it’s what keeps me going when things get bad. And bad they get. There’s days where it follows me to and from class, down the streets, up and down stairs, to breakfast, lunch, dinner, everywhere. It shuts me down and sucks the life out of everything.

It invades everything, from everyday conversations, to my favorite songs, to watching the sun set, doing homework, parties, dances, running, singing, even laughing. Especially laughing.

Truth is I’m an actor. Quite possibly one of the truest statements I’ve ever heard is that sometimes the person who laughs the loudest is covering their own sadness. I am this person. When I don’t feel happy, I put on a smile and tell the world everything is hunky dory. I laugh so hard I cry, just to de-stress and enjoy the moment. I goof around, do stupid things, and say even stupider things, because if I can make people laugh, then I’m at least doing something good.

For the same reason I love giving service. It means I’m useful and needed.

I often feel alone. In fact, probably my biggest fear is being alone. Not by myself. Alone. Understand that there’s a difference.

But I know I’m not. And I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. And so I work my tail off to tell the people going through the nightmares I do that things will be okay. That there’s hope. That there’s a silver lining. That they’re needed and loved. Everyone needs to hear that. Not a single human being on this planet doesn’t need love. And I’m not talking 60’s-style promiscuity “love”. I mean the kind of love that makes the human race truly great. The kind of love that sets aside selfishness and reaches out to help someone in need.

We are not alone in this journey. We may feel it. We may think it. But we don’t have to make that our reality.

We have friends. We have family. We have people who would give their lives for us, and on a daily basis, do, whether or not they even know us. Soldiers, policemen, firefighters. And above and beyond that, we have a Father who knows and loves us, and who is perfect. And who has promised that He will not leave us comfortless.

And so it is that in moments like this, when for absolutely no reason I felt like crying myself to sleep, that feeling is replaced by the hope that tomorrow will be better, and that I can learn to live with this black dog by my side. I’ve done it before.

It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

Press on. Push along.
Like soldiers, march on.

Proper Spanish Pronunciation: Boys Speak in Rhythm

So you know the special section at the end of foreign language dictionaries with the pronunciation guide? One huge lesson that I learned in Chile is that those parts of dictionaries lie. Horribly. So I wrote up my own personal Spanish pronunciation guide that helped me get the pronunciation down.

Spanish Pronunciation: why do I care?

It’s easy to get along doing the bare minimum, speaking Spanish, but doing so with English pronunciation. Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to be taken seriously by anyone who is a native Spanish speaker – which is a large part of the American continent – that’s not going to fly. The following guide, snark, random references, and all, is taken almost directly from my personal study of Spanish pronunciation.

How to pronounce the vowels (and not sound like the gringo you are)

  • a – spoken as in father and ah
  • e – eh? and aim (without the i sound)
  • i – eat, evil! (like Mermaidman says it!)
  • o – oh, zero
  • u – ooh, rude
  • y – see ‘i’
Some important notes: all vowels are pronounced, except for when ‘u’ is in gue, gui, and qui – then the u is silent.

The consonants: make yourself understood

  • b – normally pronounced just as in English. However, when it’s between vowels, it’s like the English ‘v’ except that instead of using of using one lip, both are used. The pronunciation rules for b and v are the same.
  • c – before a,o, and u, it’s a hard sound like English ‘k’, and before ‘e’ and ‘i’ it’s soft, like in cent.
  • d – in English, you normally place your tongue on the ridge behind your your upper teeth to make this sound, without touching the teeth. For Spanish, place the tip of your tongue to the back of your teeth to make the first sound d makes in Spanish. When d is between vowels or at the end of a word, pronounce it like the th in thy.
  • f – Same as in English
  • g – normal pronunciation before a, o, and u, a hard pronunciation as in God. Before e and i, soft, just like the Spanish j.
  • h – makes no sound in Spanish.
  • j – You know how your Spanish teacher told you it’s pronounced like h in English? Well that’s a lie. It’s not. Put your tongue in the position to make a g or k sound in English. Now breathe out and let air escape between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. That rasping sound you hear is the Spanish j.
  • k – almost never used in Spanish unless borrowed from another word like kilogramo or kilometro.
  • l – Similar to English. Instead of touching the front part of the tongue to the roof of your mouth, touch just the tip of your tongue.
  • ll – unless you’re in Argentina, this is just like the English y.
  • m – as in English
  • n – as in English
  • p – as in English, but less forced. Put your hand a few inches from your mouth and feel how the air hits it. Spanish has a softer p sound.
  • q – almost always paired with a u, the qu pair is pronounced as an English k.
  • r – NOT LIKE ENGLISH! The tongue taps the place where an English speaker makes the t or d sound.
  • rr – This sound doesn’t exist in English, which is probably why it’s so hard to pronounce. I honestly thought I would never be able to pronounce it, but with patience and time I now can. Trill the regular r, imitating a car engine or machine gun.
  • s – same as in English.
  • t – not like English. See first pronunciation of d for tongue placement.
  • v – see rules for b.
  • w – this really doesn’t exist in English, except in slang. Used just as in English.
  • x – just like in English, but pay attention. Some words spelled with s pronounce it as an s. In Mexico, it’s often pronounced as a j. I haven’t found a hard-cut rule on pronunciation.
  • y – typically, just like i in Spanish. In some placements it’s like the English j – conyuge, Yarenya
  • z – pronounced as a soft c.
So that’s about it! I’ll try to post updates on here from time to time with other tricks and tidbits on languages and such. In the meantime, this site is an incredible resource from a fellow native English-speaker who’s developed fluency in several different languages. I love his blog.

Manic Monday

It’s mad music Monday! Why? Because I just decided it is. Mondays I’m going to post about music. Just for the alliteration.
For me, music isn’t about money. If it was, the band would actually be going somewhere. Music is about two things, really
  1. Having fun and destressing.
  2. Uplifting and inspiring.

For me, if it doesn’t do both of those, it really isn’t music. I’ll let you guess what that means about my musical preferences.

So since I came back, I’ve kind of been blown away by the huge changes in technology since I came out to college again. I remember around the time I left that the robot guitar had just come out a few months earlier. Now we’re dealing with this jazz – acoustic electric cymbals. Holy. Guacamole (which, by the way, is totally delicious).
It’s secretly my dream to retire from the world, live on a private island, and spend my time making acoustic guitars and playing private concerts. My love of music is half of the reason I decided to declare electrical engineering for my major – I love making things, and making musical things combines the best of both worlds. Pretty much, I just love working with my hands, if you can’t tell.
The only problem I have now is how to get power to said remote island. That, and the whole private concert idea kind of defeats the purpose of having the private island.
So I’ll just stick to being obsessed with new music and my life-long dream of performing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

A story behind every one

So I was looking over old files on my laptop, and came across this list, which consists entirely of daily lessons learned a few years back in the summer of ’08. This was around the time I had my nasty jaw surgery. Just so y’all are aware.

2008 lessons

1. It is, in fact, possible to cry so hard you laugh so hard you cry.
2. When told to be patient, be patient. Don’t whine about how it’s hard.
3. Good things take time.
4. Dancing is an effective cure for particularly severe cases of feeling blue.
5. Be grateful for pain. It means you’re alive. It means you can feel.
6. Don’t ask for more than you’re given.
7. There is in fact such a thing as too much rain.
8. When feeling particularly bad, cookies your little sister just made and pulled out of the oven taste incredible and set you back in a better, if not altogether good, mood.
9. Be grateful for everything. You don’t know what might be gone tomorrow.
10. Family is everything.
11. It is okay to laugh when things seem at their worst. It helps.
12. Taking a walk is a particularly good idea when at a loss for what to do, but particularly bad when done in sandals.
13. Friends have a habit of knowing what you need to do to cheer up a lot better than you do.
14. Do everything in your power to never go on a liquid diet, even if you wind up in a retirement home.
15. Miracles happen every day if you just slow down and take a look at what’s happening.
16. Take life as it comes to you. Doing anything else is just plain stupid.
17. Don’t ask for an answer you know isn’t coming any time soon.
18. Sometimes you have to leap before you look, and trust that things will work out when there is no way of knowing anything will.
19. Prayer works.
20. It is possible to become best friends in less than five days.
21. When one chapter closes, there’s always another one right around the corner.
22, Doors don’t always lock after closing.
23. Sing. And don’t stop.
24. Often, we don’t know the effect we have on others’ lives.
25. Girls will never not be confusing beyong all imagining.
26. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but above all else, live right now.
27. It is okay to be completely terrified, so long as you go on in spite of it.
28. Communication=good.
29. There are no such thing as coincidences. Everything happens for a reason.
30. Don’t try making up for lost time.
31. Mistakes are necessary, even when doing what’s right. Especially when.
32. Why worry about what you can’t change?
33. The stoics were right: you can control your thoughts, actions, and reactions. Beyond that, it’s out of your hands.
34. God’s way is a whole lot better than yours.
35. No matter  what you eat, if it’s the first solid thing you’ve had in nearly a month, it will make you cry.
36. Sometimes you just need to spend all day playing video games with your friends.
37. A sandwich made with Adam’s Love Substitute is not nearly as good as a sandwich made with the real thing.
38. Morphine really messes with your head.
40. Actually, just don’t be stupid.
41. It is possible for perfect strangers to completely understand each other’s lives.
42. Life is what you make of it. Choose happiness.
43. Letting go is often easier than trying to hold on.
44. Timing is just as important as everything else.
45. Say goodbye when you have to. Even if it means not seeing a friend for the next three years.
46. A world full of good intentions never fixed anything. You have to do something, and you’d darn well better do it right.
47. There will never be enough music in the world.
48. Sometimes it’s okay to make a complete fool of yourself in front of hundreds of people.
49. LTG, CTR, and don’t microwave hamsters, gerbils or other rodents. Cats are right out.
50. Great things happen in our lives to show us God knows and cares about us.
51. It’s important to understand why.
52. If you’re not asking questions, you’re not getting answers either.
53. Sometimes it takes three years to understand. When you finally do, don’t be surprised to find yourself laughing at a streetlight at ten PM on a Friday night in the middle of nowhere.
54. It is faith that makes us strong.
55. Sometimes inspiration comes in the form of a singing frog, a video game, or maybe even ice cream.
56. Sometimes, goodbye’s the only way.
57. Death is just the next great adventure, and heaven is one big group hug/dance party.
58. Don’t risk what you don’t want to lose. Don’t even think about it. Gambling is stupid for a reason.
59. When you’re afraid of the future, imagine it’s an adventure, and you’re a pirate. Problems are a lot less intimidating when you’re a pirate.
60. There are fates worse than death.
61. Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood.
62. Sometimes your parents are actually right! Who’da thunk?
63. It is possible to learn a lesson from anything in life, even baby food jars.
64. Wisdom comes from experience. Not from fortune cookies.
65. Be meek.
66. Be patient.