Archive for the ‘ Favorite Posts ’ Category

Smartphones

Several times a day, as I am walking to or from classes and activities, I face a difficult decision. My dorm is approximately a fifteen minute walk from central grounds, where most of my classes are, so taking a bus is often a good choice. But because the buses come only every fifteen minutes, it makes more sense to walk if a bus won’t be coming for five to seven minutes. For this reason, unless a bus is pulling up to the stop as I run out the door, I tend to walk. Sometimes though, I am disappointed to see a bus fly by me in the direction I am headed about two or three minutes after I opt to go by foot. There is a very simple solution to this annoyance (not a problem because my legs work just fine) though: an excellent little smartphone program that tells users where buses are on their routes and how long they would be waiting at stop X. One little problem with said solution: it doesn’t help people who don’t have a smartphone, like myself.

Every single time one of those buses passes me after choosing to walk, especially if I’m late, a part of me wishes I owned a smartphone. After all, it would be pretty helpful. I would have any easier time deciding whether to wait for a bus, saving me a lot of time and frustration. I would always have a Bible in my pocket, rather than having to carry around a printed copy. Whenever I had a little piece of information I wanted to look up, like how many horns were needed for Mahler 1 (it came up in our orchestra horn section last Wednesday), that information would be right at my fingertips. Speaking of music, there are a number of really good metronome and tuner apps that I could download and would use regularly. And I haven’t even gone into the options as far as hand-held entertainment yet. But despite all this, I have never really wanted a smartphone. I mean, yes, it would certainly be useful sometimes, but do I really need it? No.

After getting passed by yet another bus earlier today (the 18th), I thought of another reason why I am glad I do not own a smartphone. A phone is meant to be a means of communication, but the smartphone takes it to a whole new level. Not only can smartphones call and text people (at least, I’m pretty sure they can still do that…) like my “dumbphone,” but they have a plethora of other ways to keep in touch with people: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, even e-mail. This is one huge draw for many people, but it is actually a drawback for me. I don’t want to be constantly connected to all of my common modes of communication.

My current phone does all that I want it to: call and text specific people that I have given my number to, and vice versa. Most, if not all, of my contact list are family and close friends (who I will talk to and text) or people I may need to get a hold of, for one reason or another. I use e-mail and Facebook a lot, but in very different contexts. While I have my e-mail open most of the time my computer is open, I use it for academic and activity related things. Facebook I normally leave closed unless I am actively chatting with someone or am waiting for someone, but it is my broader social outlet. I am glad that I can control when I use both of these, and that they are not attached to my phone.

Call me crazy, but I am happy without a smartphone, and don’t intend to get one anytime soon. That’s all for tonight.

Music Major

Over the past two weeks I have been recording some excerpts and solo work to audition for the National Youth Orchestra. After my most recent recording session, which I thought went horribly, my teacher told me that I could easily be a music performance major if I wanted to be. That was good to hear, but even as a complement, it made a part of me sad.

I would love to be a professional musician. I love to play music, and in some ways playing second or third horn for a professional symphony orchestra like the CSO or BSO would be the greatest job in the world. Being a music major would be the next step towards a goal like that.

In high school, I would have never given myself a shot at being a music major. With Districts and All-States festivals, as well as playing with youth orchestras at a well-renowned local conservatory, I considered myself to be a pretty good horn player, but there were always several better than I was. Comparing myself with those players, some of which planning to be music majors, I could not imagine being “good enough” to be a music major. After all, only the best musicians get into the top conservatories and music schools, and I wasn’t the best. But even as a first-year at a college with more horn players than I have ever known before (though All-States comes close), I am already one of the best. There are a few really good fourth years who are better than I am, but besides them…

So I guess I’m seeing, for the first time, how I could be a music major if I wanted to be one. At the same time, though, I don’t think I could. I love music. I love playing music. I would love to play music for a living. But I also love science and constantly learning new things about how our universe works, and I’m not sure how I could give that up.

And as far as job security goes, being a scientist is definitely the logical choice. After undergraduate or graduate school for performance, actually getting to a top orchestra, as I would want to be in, would be really hard. Though I could probably make some money in lesser orchestras, getting to a “dream job” would rest on my playing for just a few minutes in auditions, which I absolutely hate. This is why being a musician is so risky. There are only a couple dozen orchestras in the United States that you can really make a living by being in, and life in anything below those is pretty hard.

Life is hard. As we go through it, we never fully see the big picture, so we can’t tell exactly where our choices take us. Only God where I would end up as a music major just out of college. I could be in the CSO a couple of years down the road, or I could be barely getting by playing whatever performance opportunities came my way. For now, I think I’ll keep on my track towards a degree in chemistry or physics, but I pray that I will continue to have chances to play music for the rest of my life. I’m not sure what I would do without them.

I Love You

In the craziness that was last week and my grandparent’s visit over the weekend, I haven’t been able to make many posts for several days now. This week, I hope to be making some more regularly, even though it isn’t the least busy. Anyway, this is going to be a short post, but it’s one that I’ve been wanting to make for some time now.

So, for the longest time, I refused to say the words “I love you” to anyone. It wasn’t anything about the words in particular, I don’t think. I still used the word love in many other contexts, like, for example “I love music,” a very true but also very different sentence. It also wasn’t that I didn’t love anyone; it would be very hard not to love my family, who loves me so much. But for some reason, I simply stopped telling them. After a time, much like singing and dancing (which I had a similar “problem,” if you will, with), the idea of saying “I love you” to anyone just seemed like it would be really awkward. And so, I didn’t. My family probably went through a year or two without my ever telling them that I loved them.

As I was thinking about it a couple of weeks ago, though, I realized that there was no good reason why I shouldn’t tell people that I loved them. For one thing, things are only as awkward as you make them, so if I thought saying “I love you” would be awkward, then it would be. More importantly, if I didn’t tell them, how would they know? Especially here at college, where my only contact with my family are weekly phone calls and video chats, it is often hard to explicitly show someone that you love them, I think. So last week, I just decided to stop not saying “I love you.” It will take some getting used to to get back into the habit of saying it, but I think it is an important habit to get into.

Well, I feel like this is really poorly written, but I need to head to bed, so it’s going to stay as is. And even though I’ve already told you sometime in the past week, I love you mom and dad. And T. And C. And so on…

On a related note:

Chi Alpha Reflections: Finding Jonathans

Tonight’s Chi Alpha message is kind of hard to explain because it was meant to be taken and thought about personally, as something we could do in our own lives rather than something we could share. The speaker talked about David and Jonathan’s friendship, especially for the five or so chapters that Saul is set on killing David. (1 Samuel 18 through 23, and a of couple incidents later on) The speaker explained a little more of the historical significance of some of Jonathan’s actions, as well as the fact the Jonathan recognized that David would take his inheritance, yet remained a great friend.

Finally, he told us that we should find one or two friends that can be “Jonathans” for us. Rather than just being “fun” people, they should be the type of friend that shares our faith, strengthening and supporting one another no matter the circumstance and not expecting anything in return. This reminded me a lot of a verse from Proverbs: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27: 17) If we have good friend that we agree with on terms of faith, our friendship will automatically be that much deeper, and as a result our faith can become stronger as well. The speaker also quoted Eugene Peterson in saying that “Friendship [with friends like Jonathan] is as important as prayer or fasting.” That’s pretty important.

It also made me think a little bit. I don’t feel like I have a Jonathan yet. I have really good friends from high school, and am developing what I hope will be good relationships here at college, but faith is not something that many of those friends and I share. I am sure that, in time, I will find some good friends of faith, but thinking about it makes me excited (and a little bit nervous) about who those people will be. I want to know who they are now, because really deep friendships with shared faith (with people who are my age) are something I have not had for some time, maybe ever, and I feel like that’s something I’m missing out on. So until I know who my Jonathan(s) is/are, I keep telling myself to have patience and keep my eyes open. I’m also telling myself I should go to bed, because it is two hours after I wanted to be in bed originally, so I’ll do that too.

Homesick?

One month ago this morning, I got on a plane and came to college. It is the longest I have ever been away from home. Even the exchange trip I went on to Germany the summer before my senior year of high school was only three and a half weeks, and I’m in my fifth week here. Wow. Thinking about that though, I began thinking about what “home” means to me. I haven’t felt homesick, at least the way I thought I may, at all in the past four or so weeks. I am very comfortable here. I like my single room (with air conditioning!), my suitemates and I are all pretty quiet, the food here is pretty good, I’m learning my way around pretty well and I’m beginning to figure out my weekly schedule works and feels. There are tons of options and opportunities as far as my faith is concerned, with several churches, Chi Alpha meetings and core group, band Bible study, and several other things I don’t have time to do. My classes are all going well, and while they are thankfully more difficult than high school classes were, they aren’t overwhelming. I love the marching band and orchestra, both for the music and dedication as well as for the great people I’m becoming friends with. I don’t have many, if any, complaints, barring the face that I’m not getting as much sleep as I’d like (which is my fault). It feels like home, and I’m already beginning to call it that.

But, as I’ve heard time and time again, “home is where the heart is.” I may not miss my physical home, school, musical ensembles, etc., but I am really missing my family and friends. I miss hearing, first-hand, what my brother and sister are up to in school, soccer and band. I miss family dinners and being limited to having pizza once a week instead of having it always available in the nearest dining hall. I miss being able to spend time with them on weekends, watching Pysch or Doctor Who with them and beating them all at Mario Kart. Because I don’t drink, there aren’t a ton of options for things to do on non-school nights. Especially after football games, I wish there was an easily-accessible group of people that I could do things with, like my family. I miss all of my friends from school: N, G, D, E, B, B, E, P, the list goes on and on. I miss spending time with them in class, playing with them in band, orchestra and other groups, and just spending hours talking about random things or playing games. I miss having impromptu movie nights or spontaneous trips to get ice cream or frozen yogurt.

So, am I homesick? I can’t really tell. I should probably stop writing about it though. It would be pretty ironic if I self-induced myself into being homesick by writing about not being homesick. But if you read this, family and friends, just know (if you haven’t figured it out already), that I miss you a lot, and I can’t wait to see you again.

By What Mechanism?

Sometime in the past few days, one of my chemistry professors or my chemistry book made a really interesting comparison that I hadn’t thought of before, but was really interesting. I don’t remember the quote exactly, but it was something along the lines of “In the humanities, ‘why?’ means ‘for what reason?’ But in science, ‘why?’ means ‘by what mechanism?'” Going along with that, I remember learning about things like electron orbitals in middle and high school, and having lots of “why?” questions. We would be shown a picture of a p, d, or f orbital, and my response (or the way I envision it) would be “Cool, but why?” And the only answers I would get would be reasons, of a sort: “Because that’s the way it is.” My scientific mind was never truly satisfied, and I always wanted to find out what was really going on.

Well, I’m finally having some of those questions answered. Yesterday in chem lecture we discussed wave properties of matter and electrons, standing waves in one-, two- and three-dimensional space and how standing electron waves can have nodes and that produces electron orbitals, which is so cool! Continuing on with using the Schrödinger equation to describe probabilities of finding an electron at a given point in space described by radial and angular values, I began thinking back to those questions in middle school, and realizing why my teachers didn’t have answers for them. It would be kind of hard (if not impossible) to explain to a bunch of average middle- or high-schoolers how solid matter can also be a wave and form standing vibrations that correspond to certain potential energy levels, which can all be explained by an incredibly complex equation with solutions that have variables in them and named after a guy they’d probably never heard of.

Yes, that’s supposed to sound confusing, and it is. I still have only the slightest understanding of how it all works, but that’s exactly why I’m here at college. I want to know “why? By what mechanism?” and I’m loving discovering those answers.