Live Music


I love having recordings of live music. In fact, I often prefer live albums to studio albums, for a couple of reasons:

First, the bands generally play their best songs, so live albums tend to double as "best of" albums too. And since most bands DON'T make true concept albums, it's hard for any of the songs to really be "out of place".

Secondly, and more importantly, is the energy. Music is meant to be heard live - that's why we have performances. And there's nothing better than a band getting into, yelling out to the crowd, and enhancing their songs (by extra solos, or nifty intros, or other things of that nature).

So, when I found out that Styx and REO Speedwagon performed together, and released a CD/DVD of it, I just had to listen. And if there's anything better than one band performing live, it's two great rock bands, performing together, at the same time.

Styx & REO Speedwagon performing "Blue Collar Man" (originally by Styx)

Styx & REO Speedwagon performing "Roll With the Changes" (originally by REO Speedwagon)

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I like most of the comics posted on The general nature of them fits right in line with my interests, so it's usually a safe bet that I'll enjoy them.

Today's was an especially nice treat, however (might need to click to enlarge):

I'm always appreciative of a good Hitchhiker's Guide reference.

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A View From Crypto


I was bored last Friday in crypto, and decided I would sketch the corner of the room where the door is. I finished it up during today's lecture.

It's kind of weird, because I started trying to draw it as I saw it from where I was sitting, but ended up doing it more from the vantage point of someone sitting on the roof, looking in. Plus, I'm not an especially good artist, so it's a bit weird at parts.

Oh, and while I did omit some tiny details, to simplify things for myself, this is still a fairly accurate representation of math classrooms here. They really are that dull, and I'm nowhere near talented enough to make them more interesting.

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I probably should be going to bed, but ever since reading Aubrey's post on this topic earlier today, I've had this on my mind. So I'm going to write it up now, and sleep right after.

Basically, I just want to talk about my personal views on religion and everything. I feel that not many people know my exact views, and while it's not something I go around telling everybody, I don't mind sharing to those who ask (or, in this case, decide to keep reading).

I didn't grow up in a very religious household - and by that, I mean that religion didn't play a large part in my childhood.

My dad went to church as a child, and his parents were (and still are, to an extent) involved in the Christian church. I don't honestly know if they were part of a specific denomination of Christianity... I've just always known them to be Christian. I'll be the first to admit that I don't really know a whole lot about it.

I believe my mom was raised, to some extent, in a Catholic home. But I don't recall ever talking to her about it, and I've never known her to go to church. The only memory I have of her interacting with a church in any way was at her mother's funeral proceedings. And some of the things that occurred make me believe that it was a Catholic church, but I don't really know for sure.

Like I said, religion never really played a big role in my growing up. We had a couple bibles in the house, including an illustrated child's bible (which I read, cover to cover, a few times, so I'm somewhat familiar with various religious stories).

So, as you can probably guess, I'm not religious. I don't go to church, I don't pray, and I don't follow many religious traditions (save for observing certain religious holidays, like Christmas and Easter).

I consider myself to be spiritual, however. Now, my reasoning and definition of this are perhaps kind of strange or vague, and people who are a bit more fanatical in their beliefs (or lack of beliefs, as the case may be), might call this a cop-out. But whatever.

I do believe there is some kind of higher power, or at least a higher order, to the world/universe. Life is too complex, too perfect at times, for me to safely say that I believe it all arose out of chance. And sometimes, things happen that don't make any sense - be they "miracles", or smaller things like meeting somebody at a certain time in your life that allows them to make an impact on you (or you on them).

Because of that, I believe there has to be some kind of higher power/order. Now, I don't know what this higher power/order is. It could be an all-knowing, all-powerful God. It could be a collection of gods, each ruling over certain realms (like those in Greek & Roman mythology). It could be a flying spaghetti monster. It could be some advanced alien race that decided to run Earth as an experiment. Or, it could just be something more like a "concept", rather than something analogous to a person/people - say fate or destiny. Or, maybe the atheists have it all right, and we're just ruled completely and totally by the laws of science.

I don't really know. But for me, it doesn't really matter. Because I'm not religious, I don't claim to have, nor desire to have, a personal relationship with this higher power/order. Whatever it is, it is most certainly beyond my conception/understanding.

I draw my sense of morality, my ethics, and those things from my experiences, from my family (so, indirectly from certain religions), from things I read, etc. I try to act like a good person, not to please this higher power, but because I feel it's the right thing to do. And, I feel that if everybody did that, the world would be a much happier place.

Now, I do want to clear one thing up - I am not ANTI-religious. Some of my closest friends are religious, with varying levels of commitment. But I do fear religious fanaticism. I don't like when people let the teachings of their religion interfere with their daily life, to the point where it spills over into MY life. So, for this reason, I am a little wary of religion.

And, I'll freely admit it here... my biggest prejudice is against people who identify as religious. I don't dislike them, but as soon as somebody feels it's necessary to tell me that they're religious, or to try sharing their views/beliefs, I get really edgy. It's different if I know somebody, and through talking with them, have a discussion about religion. Reading Aubrey's post doesn't change my opinion of her. But if she'd shared that in some other context, where it made less sense (i.e. pretty much anything other than a deep, open conversation about each peoples' beliefs), it probably would've been a red flag to me. This would've been especially true if it had happened when we were just getting to know each other.

But I feel it's also important to mention that I'm equally wary of people who are vocally anti-religious. It bothers me just as much to see a table on BruinWalk with the words "Religion is for the weak" as it does to see people with one that says "Come learn how God is your savior". Regardless of your beliefs (or lack thereof), I feel that they should be kept more personal, and only shared in the appropriate context.

I had other thoughts on this, including a cool metaphor involving a roller coaster (not the shitty "life is like a roller coaster" one though... mine is actually somewhat clever), and more of an explanation of what shaped some of my morals & stuff, but I don't feel like writing it right now. Maybe I'll do a follow-up sometime soon.

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KOS Music


Over Winter break, while all of my friends and I were back home, we got together pretty often to just "jam" on instruments. It's a great way to pass time, and just have fun.

I realized that I could plug my Rock Band microphone into my computer, fire up Audacity (a free audio recording program), and actually record these "jam sessions". Now, the quality isn't very good at all, since it was literally just one microphone sitting in the middle of the room, trying to pick up some combination of guitars, bass guitars, and drums.

But, all things considered, it worked pretty well. My favorite thing about it though was that we set up some extra pieces of a drum set we had to make a second, "half-drum" kit. It had a snare, hi-hat, crash cymbal, ride/crash cymbal, and a couple toms. But I'd sit on that, and alternate between simple beats and simple fills, while my more talented friends played the full set, and it ended up sounding pretty cool.

I uploaded all the stuff we recorded, which you can find here and here. But some of my favorites are embedded below:

Simple Jam 1:

(I'm the only drummer in this, on the half-kit)

Drum Jam:

(I'm on the half-kit, my friend Zach on the full kit)

Dude, These Strings Are Pieces of Shit!

(I'm on the half-kit, my friend Dan on the full kit, and my friend Andrew on guitar)

Space Jam:

(I'm on the half-kit, and it's either Zach or Andrew on guitar. The other was playing the full kit)

War Drums:

(Zach on the full kit, Dan on the half-kit, and I think Andrew on guitar. I didn't play on this one)

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Letter From God to Man


There have been a few things lately that have me thinking about religion and whatnot, so I'll probably write a piece on my views/beliefs/etc. sometime soon.

But in the meantime, I offer you this video:

The song is Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip's "Letter From God to Man", and I think it's really good, both purely in terms of music, and also in the message.

The lyrics are hard to follow at parts, so here they are for you to read before/during/after hearing the song:

Hey There, how, how's it going?
Long time no see.
I know I haven't been around much lately
But…it didn't seem like you wanted me to be
The last time I sent down a message you nailed it to the cross
So I figured I'd just leave you to it, let you be your own boss

But I've been keeping an eye on you, I have, and it's amazing how you've grown.
With your technological advances and the problems you've overthrown,
And all the beautiful art you've created with such grace and such finesse,
But I admit there are a few things I'm afraid have impressed me less.

So I'm writing to apologize for all the horrors committed in my name,
Although that was never what I intended, I feel I should take my share of the blame.
All the good I tried to do was corrupted when all the religion got into full swing,
What I thought were quite clear messages were taken to unusual extremes.
My teachings taken out of context to meet the agendas of others,
Interpretations taken to many different ways and hidden meanings discovered

Religion became a tool, for the weak to control the strong
With all these new morals and ethics, survival of the fittest was gone
No longer could the biggest man simply take whatever he needed
'cause damnation was the price if certain rules were not heeded

Some of the deeds committed in my name just made me wonder were I went wrong.
Back at the start when I created this, the foundation seemed so strong.
See all the elements were already here, long before I began, I just kind of put it all together
I didn’t really think out a long-term plan.

I made the sun an appropriate distance and laid the stars across the sky
So you could navigate the globe or simply watch the sun rise
I covered the earth with plants and fruits,
Some for sustenance and some for beauty
I made the sun shine and the clouds rain so their maintenance wasn't your duty
I tried to give each creature its own attributes without making them enveloped
I gave you all you all your own space to grow and in your own way space to develop

I didn't know such development would cause rifts and jealousy
Cause you to war against each other and leave marks on this planet indelibly
You see, I wasn't really the creater, I was just the curator of nature
I want to get something straight with homosexuals right now: I don’t hate ya
I was a simple being that happened to be the first to wield such powers
I just laid the ground, it was You that built the towers

It was You that invented bombs, and the fear that comes with them
And it was You that invented money, and the corrupt economic systems
You invented terms like just-war and terms like friendly fire
And it was You that didn't know when to stop digging deeper, when to stop building higher
It was You that exhausted the resources I carefully laid out on this earth,
And it was You that even saw these problems coming but accredited them little worth
It was You that used my teachings for your own personal gain
And it was You that committed such tragedies, even though they were in my name

So I apologize for any mistakes I made, and when my words misconstrued
But this apology's to mother nature, 'cause I created YOU

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Valentine's Day


This is a weird day, overall. The holiday, I mean; my actual day was fairly normal, as far as weekends go. To some extent, I just don't get it.

I don't get why people in relationships make it out to be SUCH a big deal. Why do you need one special day, determined by SOCIETY, to tell you that you should express your love for one another? If you love somebody, you should be showing that all the time. And if there's any day you "should" give MORE weight to in terms of showing it, it should be something special to YOU (your anniversary, for example).

And for those who aren't in relationships? Who whine and refer to it as "Single Awareness Day"... just get over it. There's nothing different between the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th of February. Except maybe the ease of getting a table if you go out to eat. But really, sitting around moping? That's just dumb. The fact that everybody else makes such a big deal about their relationship on that day shouldn't bother you. If you're lonely, then go hang out with a friend/family member. Take your younger sibling out to dinner. Or maybe go with a group of friends, and just have fun. Don't worry about the couples - you just enjoy yourself. Don't even worry about what day it is.

Or, you can take Aubrey's advice. That works too.

Now, just to clarify a few things... I understand that there are certain times when my above advice definitely won't work. Maybe you were in a relationship that JUST ended. In that case, yeah, the stigma attached to this day will probably make it pretty rough on you. That's understandable.

Or, if you're in a relationship, the stigma will inevitably compel you to try doing something special for that special someone. And I'm not saying you should just ignore the day. When I'm in a relationship, I try to do something to acknowledge it. But I just think it's silly to put SO much emphasis on this one day.

But then again, I spent most of my day sitting on my ass, doing nothing. So what do I really know?

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New Blog Title


I decided I wanted to give this an actual, proper title, rather than just displaying my name in huge letters at the top of the page. Though, to be honest, my narcissistic side did appreciate that...

I knew the title would probably be somewhat math related, but I know there's so much more to who I am than just that, so I was having trouble coming up with something I liked. I finally settled on the theme of "adding up" experiences, and came up with the title you now see.

I like it because I feel it uses a math theme (an infinite sum), but encompasses much more - namely, all of my thoughts and experiences. I don't write exclusively (or, to be honest, even that often) about math things, so I like the wider variety implied. And, in a slight deviation from the rigid nature of math, I settled for using "A Sum" rather than "The Sum" - after all, who's to say that somebody else with these same experiences and thoughts is necessarily going to be JUST like me?**

See, I like to think I have some literary capabilities too... =)

Oh yeah, I'd be remiss to mention on of the suggestions Aubrey gave me for a new title... Revenge of the Corn.

**Actually, that's a great philosophical question, but I'm not going to get into it here. I guess another way of looking at it would be to claim that the sum of experiences isn't necessarily commutative... But there I go being 'mathy' again!**

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Addressing a Common Comment



I might write some more and add to this later, but for now? Rock on.

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An Interesting Quote


I was stumbling around the internet today, and came across a list of quotes. I greatly enjoy looking over them, because there are some very wise and poignant ones out there. Plus, you never know when you'll find one that relates so well to your mood.

But the quote I found today was interesting more in that it was a question and it's answer. Only I got the question wrong (according to the quote). So, here's Abraham Lincoln's quote:

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Now, wait, stop, and think about it for a moment. Now, read on, and see if you get the same answer:

Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

I'm sure most people are probably wondering how the hell I got this wrong. But I read it all at once, and my immediate thought, before getting to the second part of the quote, was that there were 5 legs.

See, if you define a tail as a leg, then it's a leg. That's true by definition. So for the sake of this situation, the answer is 5.

Another way to look at it would be to ask somebody how many legs a dog has, to which they'll (hopefully) respond 4. You then tell them to also consider the tail as a leg. They should then say 5.

I'm not really trying to argue one way or another on this; I just think it's interesting to look at it this way.

The truth is, there's no reason to define the tail as a leg; that's a nonsensical definition.

So I guess I'll leave this random thought with a Latin phrase I really like:

quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur

Or, in English:

What is asserted without reason may be denied without reason

There is no reason to call a tail as a leg, so nobody needs any reason to refute that claim.

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