December 7th, 2002


Why I love language...

I remember doing this experiment in high school where we held a patterned card with a solid circle of white in front of our face, so many degrees up and away from ourselves, and then the white spot disappeared. Our eyes have a blind spot where some muscle attaches to the eye, but the brain interpolates that hole for us. Because it expected a pattern to be there, that's what we saw.

I've been reading these short fairy tales in German and I'm reminded yet again why I love foreign languages, and it all comes back to how amazing the human brain is.

I find it incredible how easy it is to read a story even when a large number of the words are unfamiliar. And when you don't think about it and read at a natural pace, skipping over stuff you don't know, it makes even more sense.

It's like when I listen to German hip-hop that Judith posts.... these artists are just spitting out word after word, but key words and phrases stand out... words I only learned once months or years ago suddenly stand out from the others and make total sense. The unknown words in-between are interpolated... and even if there are multiple possibilities that make sense, the brain hangs onto all of them until the ambiguity is later resolved and one makes the most sense.

In the end, I generally get the gist of the story/song, even if I can't remember what parts made sense and what didn't.

When I recall conversations I had with Judith's friend Tony in Dresden, I realize another reason I love language... Tony's English was as poor as my German so when we talked, it was always switching back and forth between languages. When I think of our conversations today, I remember the topics and who said what (heh, the conversations were all pretty simple), but I can't remember what language we were talking in.

You know, I've probably posted this all before, at least in bits and pieces. But you're the sucker for reading this far, and I didn't even embolden key words for Eli. (hehe... can I use the word "embolden" in that context? the dictionary says "to give boldness or courage to". :P)

Use Linux, damnit.

Mowed my lawn... the grass was kinda frozen so it was a bit tough with my push mower.

My dad just called and said his hard-drive crashed. He lost "less than a month's worth of pictures" along with other stuff. Pisses me off.... he's always bitching about stupid problems that having a Linux box in the house could easily fix:

He wants to rip CDs without paying for programs or having stupid ads popping up (like in RealJukebox). Okay, use cdparanoia.

He doesn't want to lose data (obviously). Okay, setup software RAID and export it with Samba.

Hell, I can't think of other examples at the moment, but him needing Linux seems to come up whenever he complains about computer stuff.

And it's not unreasonable for me to "force" it on him, either. He knows Unix, after all. Shit, he's the one that taught it to me originally. And it's not like he doesn't have a bunch of spare computers or the money to buy a new machine, especially since computers are so dirt-cheap nowadays.