Why I Wish I Was Multilingual

Writing

As an avid fan of Reggaeton I find myself desperately attempting to sing along to the lyrics of ‘Con Altura’ by Rosalia, J Balvin and El Guincho. Singing words in your own head, away from the judgmental eyes of the general public is one thing, but anytime I pluck up the courage to sing along to Spanish songs out loud I become a dribbling, mumbling mess. As a result, I resort to humming or worse, miming. My tail is well and truly between my legs. 😦

 

Not asking for the sympathy vote here but it is a bit embarrassing to say the least. And somewhat frustrating, the beat is good but I don’t have a clue about what they’re talking about! Which I guess is fine with upbeat songs, but can I really get emotional over a slow song if I don’t understand the words? I guess, if the music is good enough then yes, but do you see my point?

 

The annoying thing is, I feel like I keep tiptoeing on the line between committing time to truly learning a second language and having reluctance due to thinking will it really serve me any purpose? I guess with any tough decision I face, I try and weigh up the pros and cons.

 

Am I too old? Will it make me smarter? Do I have the time? Will I be more employable? Should I do it purely because I want to or do I need a  justifiable reason? I have so many questions, too many questions probably.

 

Like Nike says, I should just do it. Sure, 10 hours a week, £400 a month sounds like I should ‘just do it’ if I didn’t have bills to pay or a life to live. Or am I just trying to find excuses to avoid trying to learn a  language incase I’m not good at it?

 

I need to stop overthinking, have you ever wanted to learn another language? Maybe you already speak more than one and was this by choice? Either way, I wish I was you!

Robots Are The New Songwriters – Is This Morally Right?

Writing

Warner Music Group’s newest addition to their ‘artist’ roster is that of an algorithm addict destined to make your newest jam, pretty much an alexa with an insatiable interest in generating sound while simultaneously reading your heart rate and circadian rhythm. Designed with the aim in mind to produce 20 albums this year, each containing frequencies which will help you in an array of areas of your life, from being more productive in work to reducing your anxiety:

It’s called ‘Endel’, it’s a sound app, it’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’.

Am I the only one who feels slightly uncomfortable with this? With the overall concept being that a robot will be making an album which makes us jump for joy in one track before crying ourselves to sleep with another. Not by using genuine experience, or raw emotion but instead through big data compilation and machine learning.

It’s one thing having electronics play a part in the music making process, we all know that wizkid producers with state of the art technology  open the doors to having the capability to produce unearthly sounds, afterall autotune is such a common element of music currently. With image taking precedence over singing talent (but I’ll save that topic for a rainy day). Back to the point. It’s one thing having a human use machines to assist the music making process but if you remove the human completely can we really call music art then? Will it not fall under ‘engineering’ or ‘technology’? And if so, would you find an issue with that?

If a robot is evoking certain emotions in us when we listen to the sound frequencies it generates as a response to data based off of my internal functioning (heart rate, movements, temperature), it makes me question how will it be able to manipulate us emotionally further down the line? As the late Stephen Hawking highlighted that although AI may host beneficial impacts to us humans, the theoretical physicist also raised the point that artificial intelligence may also pose the threat of kickstarting the beginning of the the end of the human race if used incautiously.

I must stress, I’m not against AI, but I am cautious of it’s capability. My curiosity for its role to play in sound is sparked by my love for music. And perhaps, my disdain for it’s potential domination through the music industry stems from my subliminal believe that music is something innately human, it acted as a glue, binding our ancestors together as they danced at rituals and socials, it bonds us together today, whether sharing a feeling for heartbreak or one of pure ecstasy, music seems to be a vector to share what at its core makes us human – emotions. Do I really want to press a button on an app to release a frequency to calm my nerves or do I want to talk to a human face to face and get something off my chest?

 

Enough about my opinions, whether I agree with its motives or not, it sure is interesting, if you want to learn more about Endel, check it out here.

The Psychology of Value – Culture

Writing

Carrying on from yesterday’s post, I noted how this concept of value stems from our childhoods. How we internally form an attachment to particular items we deem as ‘ours’  from a young age.

Yet when comparing this globally, there are certain cultures where regardless of age, this trend does not appear. For example in a study conducted by scientists at Yale University , researchers ran a study on the Hadza people of Northern Tanzania to determine whether the Endowment effect took place within the community or not. When conducted it was found that of the Hadza people who lived closer to the towns or villages which exhibited markets and were therefore exposed to a society where money was exchanged for goods, 25% of them were willing to trade their original gifted item for a new one i.e. trade the lighter they were given for a biscuit or vice versa.

Comparing this to the Hadza people that lived further away from the villages and towns, in a more isolated community, a greater proportion – 53% in the group were more willing to trade. So why is this so? The people in the more ‘isolated’ environment, the hunter-gatherer population, they lived in an egalitarian society and so the movement of goods is much more open and shared more evenly between group members.

Looking at this one example, it can be said that emphasis on the society we grow up in, the environment we grow up in are key factors to how we value the things in our lives.

In relation to this, if we return to the initial point of ‘monetary’ value, socio-economic factors can be linked to certain types of culture, for example gang culture. With this I ask the question:
What does the word ‘value’ mean in an impoverished community?

Peanuts To A Monkey

Writing

They say religion is used to control the masses when really the truth is that it’s money.

We give value to pieces of paper and metal, to invisible numbers forever changing in our online accounts. As humans, as a society, we have given value to something which if you really think about it is valueless. You might as well pick up a leaf next and start paying your taxes with it.

Money – evolved as a means of bartering and trading now as a status of power and segregation of class by wealth. I wonder to myself, what would the world be like if we didn’t have money? Not just you or I, but all of us. With no monetary value placed on materialistic items would capitalistic attitudes and habits of consumerism simply dissipate? Would we instead put value into the relationships we form, into the experiences we have? Would we see people for who they are, not what they have? Or is this Utopian dream merely deemed a damnation, a falsehood which would never truly grow wings?

It saddens me that society decides the value of a person not by their own morals or merits, but  by the numbers in their bank account. I ask myself where did this all start, how did it all begin? And for this we must look at the psychology behind what it means to place value on something.

The psychology behind value – post up tomorrow.

Poem: I Didn’t Believe

Writing

They say the aim is to make others believe in you.

But if I couldn’t believe in myself,

Then there was no way of making either true.

 

For years I would beg, I would plead,

To just let out my potential and abilities.

To let them free to grow and to weave,

Into something that would resemble someone with esteem.

 

Yet, I just couldn’t be proud of the gifts I’d been given.

I’d keep them wrapped up from the world.

They’d become so distant at times, I’d forget that I had them.

At a stage in my life,

I’d be too embarrassed  to admit them.

 

Learning the hard way,

I can safely say.

Be proud of the talents you have, put them on display.

Not because you owe it to the world.

Or because you owe it to the person you will be in the future.

But instead to the person that you are today.

City Life: The Love/Hate Relationship

Writing

Originally from a town of  several thousand you can see why I may feel like a fish out of water here in London. Living in the UK’s capital for 2 years now has taught me alot about other people and alot about myself.

But I’ll save that for another time, here are some reasons why I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the ‘most vegetarian friendly city in the world’ I’ll have you know!

 

Cons:

  1. The Tube Journeys – if you want to develop claustrophobia and a strong affinity for your own personal space then I suggest you take the oh so hectic trip from Kennington to Angel. According to the Londonist, the Northern line was the busiest line in 2016/17 with customers making an eye-watering 294 million journeys that year on this underground line alone. But don’t start thinking you can cartwheel up and down the carriages of any other lines anytime soon, a close second was snatched up by the central line, where any cursed commuter of this line will know the need for an oxygen tank and full-faced mask is real.
  2. Shackled By The Chains – I don’t have anything particularly against our well-known high street chainstores, but there are a specific handful who lurk on literally every corner of this damn city! Is it so wrong to want to see a family-run business with some fresh produce in the city centre instead of yet another mass-producing brand?
  3. The Fresh Smell of Exhaust Fumes – if you didn’t have asthma before getting here, then hold on to those precious memories of gasping without coughing and sighing without wheezing. For that’s all they’ll be, little flashback’s in your mind’s eye as you drag another breathe from your new best friend – the inhaler. If I’m not out of breath in 5 seconds of brisk walking then I’m blowing clumps of soot from my nose. Mum and Dad – London life is great!

 

Pros:

  1. Events Galore – the most excitement I’d get back home is from winning the bingo in the local care home down the road, now it’s gigs, festivals, club nights and freebies every night of the week (I wish)! London offers some of the best events in the world and don’t we know it! Whether it’s soaking up the atmosphere at Ronnie Scott’s or celebrating Chinese New Year with thousands of others, you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
  2. A Melting Pot of People – London naturally draws people from all over the world, it’s fascinating to meet people from such a range of cultures and backgrounds. From food to music, language to fashion, you have the luxury of experiencing this richness right on your front doorstep.
  3. Endless Opportunities – If you want to make something of yourself, London is the place to be I feel. With so many companies flocking here, you have as a result an abundance of skilful minds which can collaborate to make great things. Ofcourse you can make anything happen wherever you are if you push hard enough but there’s that added advantage of being able to physically walk in to the office of your dream agency or mentor which may not be accessible in your village in the high hills of the Isle of Arran (I love this place, so scenic).

 

Have you ever been to the London, what do you love or loathe about it?

red flame digital wallpaper Guy Fawkes UK 5th November poem

Poem: 5th November 1605

Writing

The dank presence of gunpowder fills their lungs.

Settling smoke distorts their view.

5th November 1605 – a night like any other.

If only this were really  true.

 

Traders to country, traitors to crown.

The Gunpowder Plot,

Dismembered, put down.

 

Destructive paths each had chosen,

Treasonous, treacherous.

Yet failed to make any  explosion.

 

Remember, remember,

The 5th of November.

A night to celebrate failure.

For to do evil on another man.

Will result in evil brought to the deliverer.

backlit dark light people Halloween 2018 Octoberfancy dress costumes

Why Do We Dress Up Like Kn*bs On Halloween?

Writing

If you read my earlier post, the title above may have sprung to mind. It is a weird concept if we remove ourselves from the festivities for just a second, and instead have a momentary out of body experience.

Envision yourself looking at your badly sewn together costume, your lop-sided devil horns and staining-for-weeks pasty make-up. Who the devil are you suppose to be? You’re certainly not getting into Hell now. Why is it that we make special efforts on this October night in particular to look extra garish?

Well, let me tell you:

Blame the grandparent’s grandparent’s grandparents

That’s right, the geriatrics are the reason pestering brats come knocking on your door demanding your diabetes inducing sweeties. As it turns out that the ancient Indo-European group, who lived 2,000 years ago, called ‘The Celts‘ celebrated the end of their calendar year on 31st October. It marks the end of harvest season and the beginning of Winter. The festival of celebration is named ‘Samhain‘, pronounced ‘sow-in’. It is believed that the festival has Celtic pagan origins.

So how does this relate to your dad dressing up as Batman?

Costumes during Samhain were worn and fires were lit to ward off any ghosts of the dead, which were believed to rise on the 31st October.  In addition to encouraging the foretelling of prophecies by priests and Druids and sacrificial practices to the Celtic deities.

Over time, for example with the invasion of the Romans and influence of Christianity led to a blending of cultural practices on this final October day. Roman’s influenced the ‘bobbing for apples’ by honouring the goddess of fruit and trees – Pomona. Christianity brought ‘All Saints Day’ known as ‘All Hallows day’ a church sanctioned holiday at the time (1000 AD). This took place on November 1st and so 31st October became known as ‘All Hallows Eve’ and eventually ‘Halloween‘.

Why The Term ‘Trick Or Treat?’

At least as far back as the 15th century, among Christians, there had been a custom of sharing soul-cakes at Halloween. People would visit houses and take soul-cakes, either as representatives of the dead, or in return for praying for their souls.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighbourhood and be given ale, food and money.

 

So there you have it, thank the ancestors for all of these spooky shenanigans.

Happy Halloween!

Check out my Celtic visit to Newgrange

Japan Matsuri 30th September 2018 held in Trafalgar square London. Celebrating UK-Japan relations.

Japan Matsuri – 2018

Writing

‘Matsuri’ means ‘festival’ in Japanese, and on 30th Septmeber in London’s Trafalgar Square the festivities were well and truly underway. Multiple elements of Japanese culture were highlighted at the event, some of which I will share with you below:

Origami – This visually stunning art form was on display for all to enjoy. The word ‘origami’ comes from the Japanese terms ‘ori’ = ‘folding’ and ‘kami’ = ‘paper’ (Kami was changed to gami due to rendaku). One of the most classic origami models in the culture is of the ‘paper crane/ orizuru ‘. In particular the ‘red-crowned crane’ holds special significance, it is believed that its wings carried souls up to paradise. Other recognisable  figures include the  Kawasaki rose, the cat and the dragonfly.

Japanese Matsuri 2018 - Origami workshop and contest in London Trafalgar Square

As you can see in the picture, a mini origami contest was held, F*ck sake Fuka you’re an origami wizkid – taking just 39 seconds to make……….ur….something!!

Matsuri Art Wall – The 9 metre long canvas stood parallel to The National Art Gallery and in true style was open to  festival-goers to let their creative juices flow. Sketching their own fantastic creations in front of one of the nation’s best art galleries.

Matsuri wall at Matsuri Japan festival celebrating Japan-UK relations. Held in Trafalgar Square - London

FOOOOOOOOD!

Japanese food sellers at the Matsuri event in London

Apologies, there’s no actual photo of real food! Although some names that definiely gae me fod for thought:

a)Takoyaki

b) Kara-age

c) Amazake

d) Okonomiyaki

Do you know what the above are?

a) mini savoury wheat flour balls , usually filled with savoury ingredients: diced octopus, onions, pickled ginger.

b) A Japanese frying style, a popular type is fried chicken

c) Fermented rice drink

d) Japanese savoury pancake a common filling of which is shredded cabbage.

Japanese Calligraphy and Manga Art Workshop

Japanese calligraphy at Matsuri 2018 London

Japanese manga portrait at Japan Matsuri, London

Demonstrations and a change to give it a go yourself – beautiful Kanji  characters were on display during the Japanese calligraphy workshop.

Manga – ‘comics/cartooning’ – the art of drawing Manga was celebrated through personalised portraits.

Japanese Tableware

Some of the most quaint and beautiful tableware has to come from Japan, whether it’s minimalist and clean or exquisitely decorative, all is simply quite stunning.

Japanese Tableware at Japan Matsuri, London 2018

tattoo waves japanese plates

Sweeeeets!

Japanese sweets pocky matcha, chocolate, watermelon

Lemonade popular in Japan - Ramune

Pocky + Ramune = Japanese treat

Pocky – chocolate coated biscuit sticks originally sold in 1966 in Japan. Since then, flavours have certainly became alot more experimental, you can now get: cookies and cream, green tea and coconut to name but a few. Definitely give them a try.

Ramune – meaning ‘lemonade’ a fun drink which involves the owner self-carbonating the liquid. In other words making bubbles magically appear. To open the bottle, a device to push the marble inward is provided. The marble is pushed inside the neck of the bottle where it rattles around while drinking.

The event is annual, I would hihgly recommend going if you’re in London late September next year (or the year after, or the year after or the…….).

5 Extraordinary Jobs That I Never Knew Existed

Writing

If you thought working 9 to 5 was all about number crunching and pencil pushing think again:

  1. Certified Seat Filler

Empty seats at some of the biggest events in TV are an absolute no no so random people may actually be paid to make up the numbers. My question is – how the hell can there be gaps in the audience at these events, surely you’d donate a kidney just to be a row away from Sir Elton John, right?  Anyhow, if you fancy sitting pretty at an awards show near you perhaps check out some companies online where you can register. (See how I didn’t mention any names – noone pays me on here :p )!

  1. Swan Upping

Did you know the Queen exercises her ownership rights on all unmarked swans along parts of the River Thames and its Tributaries. Stocktake of The Crown’s swans is conducted by livery companies – Vintner’s and The Dyers. This practice dates back to the 12th century when swan-meat was deemed a little too precious!

  1. Professional Bed Warmer

You really can’t make this stuff up, supposedly there are hotels (Holiday Inn to be more exact) who hire people donning hygienic sleep suits to jump into your bed and make it all toasty for your arrival. What happened to a good old fashion water bottle? Or have they not heard of electric blankets?

  1. Panda Cuddler

Cuteness overload! This would melt even the coldest of hearts! Aimed to actually help the little bundles of fur adjust to life minus humans and hence give them a chance to habituate to life in the wilderness, this role plays a vital part in the rehabilitation of Pandas into their natural environment.

  1. Professional Mourner

So, I thought I’d end on a high note here, obviously. This is infact a paying job. Originating in Egyptian, Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures, the role is to help comfort and entertain the grieving family. The paid mourner may be asked to deliver a eulogy or  lament for the passing of the individual. Thus, their attendance holds a high level of significance for the families and not just as a means  to nick the last few remaining cucumber sandwiches at the wake.

Have any of the above made you want to give up the day job then?

Alternative London #1

Writing

Leake Street, Waterloo/ Lambeth

This quirky creepy tunnel encloses all kinds of goodies under it’s archways. From the hard to miss graffiti to the more tucked away eateries offering all kind of delicacies. Such as Banh Bao Brothers , Rat Bar and Draughts.

And let’s not forget to mention The Vaults! If you don’t know of it, your life has been boring af! Bit harsh, if you haven’t heard of it, definitely check them out if you’re into interactive theatre and altogether electric eccentricity.

The Vaults at Leake Street Arches, Waterloo, London.. Graffiti on the exterior, interactive theatre experience inside.

And now, onto the graffiti!

Here are some of my favourite pieces within the 300 metre long tunnel, I think art constantly gets replaced with new art so I think it;s good to get a snapshot of time of the art of the moment:

Graffiti, street art, London, Banksy, Waterloo, Lambeth, tunnel , City

Wide shot of the tunnel, sorry for the car!

Celebrity spotting! Anthony Hopkins and Tilda Swinton.

Mind blowing artwork exhibited within the archways at The Rat Bar.

A rodent twist on the masterpiece - The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci at The Rat Bar, London.

A rodent twist on the masterpiece – The Mona Lisa by Leonardi Da Vinci at Rat Bar, London.

Model, Posing on the stairwell of an exit/entrance to Leake St, Waterloo, London. City Street Art UK

You Know I had to do it, Nike call me!

Word 'Boyish' and alien image visible. Boyish Graffiti in Leake St, London. City street art.

Disturbingly Beautiful.

Graffiti of Pac-Man, Leake St, Waterloo, London

“Computer games don’t affect kids. If Pac-Man affected us as kids we would all be messing about in darkened places munching………”

We Are All Mad / Follow Your Heart

The wonderful pieces above  are just the tip of the iceberg, I’d highly recommend paying the archways a visit if you come to London. It really is a feast for the eyes.

Photographs taken by @claudiarosemoore

Poem: A Human

Writing

A Human

A subatomic bunch of laughter and woes,

From our nose down to our toes,

We either grimace or glow.

Why are we here on this planet of blue sea and earth?

Does it own us?

Or do we own the world?

Brief is the time we get to embrace it.

You blink your eye,

and it’s gone, you’ve missed it.

Decades of memories have gone, they’ve passed.

All that’s now left,

a subatomic mass within grass.

 

How morbid am I?! Although it’s true, life is so precious because it’s so short. So as Horace so eloquently put it ‘carpe diem’!

 

 

Celtic Cavemen

Writing

Newgrange, Co. Meath, Rep. of Ireland

The Emerald Isle has its fair share of busy cities and pretty coastlines so why not go and visit a big-ass dome in the middle of a field instead? Or atleast, that’s the logic of my two wonderful parents. Well, it’s safe to say Mother (and Father) knows best and here’s why:

This folks, is Newgrange:

IMG_1093

Yes, I know, I wanna join the big conga line into the pit of darkness too, but before we join all the fun let’s do a little bit of scouting out of the area, shall we?

IMG_1095

You can see a significantly smaller dome in the adjacent field. Just beyond this meanders the River Boyne.

IMG_1068

The River Boyne

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comfy

mound.JPG

The highest point of Newgrange’s ridge is around 61m above sea level. This naturally high terrain would have made it a prominent part of the landscape to its dwellers. Earliest evidence of human activity (farming tools) is sometime before 4000BC.

stone wall.JPG

For heaven’s sake, although I studied geology, don’t ask me what the stone was. I think it’s a mixture of slate, quartz, blood sweat and tears. So basically a conglomerate! Oh, I must mention, the exterior as in the picture is not 100% reflective of the true structure when first built, it is instead an interpretation. As with the passing of time I’m sure you can imagine it wasn’t looking it’s best, so this late face lift was somewhat a blessing to Ireland’s tourism piggybank.

Moving on swiftly, the theoretical reasoning for the Neolithic construction was to act as a passage tomb for sunlight. Specifically in alignment with the Winter Solstice (Dec 21st). It is believed that its function was deliberate, thereby pre-dating the astronomically oriented structure of Stonehenge by approx 500 – 600 years.

So cavemen built this mound and passageway combo for some teeny weeny little light beam to shine into their peepers come Christmas Eve? Well, kind of.

tri spiral.JPG

Tri-Spiralled entrance stone.

Celtic legend mentions the significance of the ‘three-leaf spiral’ or the tri-spiral, and nowhere is this more exemplified than at Newgrange. Here you can see sets of Tri-spirals which hold as many answers as they do questions, on both exterior and interior rockforms of the lithic structure. The tourguide suggested several potentially plausible theories to explain these carvings on the main stone of the passageway entrance, suggested explanations included religion –  each prominent spiral may have represented: The Father, The son and The Holy Spirit respectively, other suggestions inferred that the passageway  entrance stone’s use was as some sort of megalithic map.

Which reminds me, I briefly mentioned earlier, in addition to Newgrange, other more modestly sized domed passageways can be found peppering the neighbouring fertile fields of the River Boyne floodplains. It’s believed that they served a similar purpose. You can see that there are several sets of tri-spirals in the image above (perhaps representing the three domes) and what looks like a wave motion (River Boyne) engraved at the bottom of the entrance stone. This may have acted as a guide to the local people of the time?

A more nonchalant reasoning may have pointed to the engravements being solely for decorative purposes. Holding the tomb in such high prestige, perhaps, as you would decorate your home as an expression of pride, so to may the people of this land approx. 3,200BC.

Leading on from the mysteries of the entrance tombstone, the passageway and subsequent chambers of the sleeping mound  bared even more secrets than what could be imagined.

Linking back to the significance of the sunlight, it is believed that when the passageway was initially constructed, the beam of sunlight during those Winter solstice’s would have penetrated to the back of the recess and indirectly illuminated a three-leaf spiral engravement on the internal wall. An example of the carving shape below:

spiral.JPG

If we think back to how creation of the structure would have occurred  we may begin to understand the reasoning for such intelligent design.

sun diagram

Prof. Tom Ray the School of Cosmic Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (inhales deeply after that)  confirmed the need for such stringent accuracy of the build to produce the desired illuminated effect. He infers that had the passageway been a few metres longer, sunlight wouldn’t have entered the chamber. If the two roof-box slabs forged a gap just 20cm lower the beam wouldn’t have been effective. They’re putting our engineers to shame, Elon Musk eat your heart out!

What would the chambers have been used to for?

-Rituals: With the average age of death at the time being just 26 years old for females and 29 years old for males. Heck, I would’ve taken a bit of wacky backy and sang kumbaya round the nearest tree too! In all seriousness, the relationship between sunlight and spiritualism has stood the test of time. You can see why, sunlight is important for life, it’s important for growth. Therefore the power and prestige of the sun must’ve been paramount.

In addition to potential sun worship, especially during times of natural light shortages, evidence points towards the ritualistic custom of ‘Trepanation’ being praised within Newgrange – the removal of a disc of bone from the skull of a living person to allow ‘evil spirits’ to leave the body. In some findings, as reconstructed in the picture, it was determined that the ‘patient’ survived due to the fact that the bone actually began to grow back. I’ll never complain of a headache again!

skull.JPG

Other theories suggest that Newgrange was used as a place to practice religion. In some ways acting as our  religious buildings of today would.

Shrouded in mystery and unanswered questions makes this unforgettable site a gem of the Emerald Isle in my eyes.

As for what I saw inside the passageway, well, maybe I’ll keep that a secret. Go visit!

**Check out extra pictures on Instagram