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Updated August, 2003

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If A Tree Falls in the Woods and No One is Around, Will There be a Sound

Well, to answer this question, lets first think about why this question would even arise. The truth of the matter is that the human ego is so inflated, that we think the world cannot go on without us, which of course is absurd. You see, it's a very self serving idea behind the question because it elevates the importance of humans. The reason it is so difficult to answer is that someone would have to admit their own insignificance to come to the correct solution, and since people can't seem to come to that conclusion, the only thing left to do is to continue to think about the question.

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How Do I know I'm making the Correct Decision

This One is Pretty Easy. Imagine yourself about to die. You are laying there, thinking about your life. You think back to this day, this decision that you are about to make, and you see how you feel about both of them. Usually the reason it's difficult to make a decision, is because you are facing two alternatives. One is usually self serving, and the other is isn't. Usually, when you put it in this perspective, the confusion of that present moment is not there, and you can see things more clearly.

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How Do I Know My Theories on Life are Sound

Well, this one isn't too difficult either, but it's a difficult one to accept. What you have to do is to think about each theory or philosophy you have. Sometimes it helps to categorize them. Then once you have a number of them, you have to ask yourself, "Are these theories or philosophies self serving?" Some easy quick examples would be the following:

  1. You are rich and believe poor people are stupid and dishonest.

  2. You are poor and believe rich people are stupid and dishonest.
  3. You are a republican, and believe all the democrats are corrupt.
  4. You are a democrat, and believe all the republicans are corrupt.
  5. You are of one religion, and believe all other religions are useless or less significant than yours.
  6. You are white and believe non whites are inferior.
  7. You are non white and believe whites are inferior.

It's really quite easy, the problem is that it may not be too comfortable to really examine one's beliefs. The entire point of this exercise is to examine one's own beliefs. This is not something to apply to other people, only for yourself.

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How Do I Know What To Do With My Life

Find something that is fun to do, and explore it. As you become good at it you will find there is a need somewhere. This is the happiest sort of life. When you find something there is a need for first, the chances are you will just be doing it for money, but the satisfaction may not be there. How do you know this is the correct decision? See How Do I Know I am Making the Correct Decision. A great way to decide on a life decision. If this works, then you may have the opportunity to both make money and do something you love.

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Which Should I Be Seeking, Wisdom or Intelligence?

Well, it depends what you want. They are quite different. Intelligence is the ability to absorb and manipulate facts. Wisdom in it's simplest form is "common sense." So for example, a person that graduates from medical school is intelligent. I think most people would agree with that. But if then that person ate a fatty diet, understanding the consequences, this person might be seen as not exhibiting very much wisdom. Personally, I prefer to make friends with wise people, when I can find them. Usually I see many intelligent people in this world, but I don't often see wise individuals.

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Boy, For a Minute There, I Had This Feeling I Wasn't All That Important....

Actually, I feel this way most of the time, and when I don't, I try and get back to it. You see, it's like this. Suppose I'm sitting down to write a tune, and I belive I'm important. That means that I'm writing this tune for posterity, people have expectations, it's important that I write something that is really great.... of course, then I can't write because I'm distracted by all this minutia. But when I think I'm not important, I'm free to write for the reason that I started writing, because it floats my boat, because it makes me happy, because I'm making sounds that I want to hear, because it excites me. If you have read any of the other things I have written, you probably understand that I believe many problems can come about from thinking one is important, it makes you vulnerable and generally screws up your life. On the other hand, knowing someone likes you and wants to be near you is a little different....

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Now Where Did I Put That...

There is a very easy way to remember where you put something. Rather than put it where you "Think it should go," first think, "Where would be the first place I would look for this," then that is where you put it. This is almost fool proof. Also, if I can't find something, then eventually find it, rather than put it back where it was, I do the same thing again, I say, "Where was the first place I looked," and that is where I put it.

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Why are People Late?

It's a way for people to have control. It's all about power. A person that is late for you all the time, probably isn't late for their boss. They are not late for a doctor's appointment when they are sick. I have never ever figured out how to deal with this, so I tend to avoid people that are late. I spend very little, or better yet, no time with them. It makes me crazy. This also goes for doctors that are late. I tend to leave after 20 minutes, and you know what? If I make another appointment, they are on time. If they continue to be late though, I find another doctor.

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How To WWW Sites From Giving You Cookies

This is very simple, just make your cookies.txt file a read only file.

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The Best Card Game

I learned this from my nephew's wife Emily. It's a game that children play in China. You use a normal deck, but ignore the face cards.

  1. Place four cards face up on a flat surface. If there are any face cards, just flip another on top of it so you have four cards that have numbers in them.

  2. Use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to come up with the number 24. You can only use each card once, and you must use all the cards.
  3. Here is an example. Suppose you have 3, 6, 10 and 9. 6 from 10 is 4, and 3 from 9 is 6.... 6 time 4 is 24.
  4. Another example would be 6, 7, 9 and 8. 7 from 9 is 2, 2 goes into 8 four times, 4 times 6 is 24.
  5. Some of them don't work, so it's hard to be sure, sometimes you think it doesn't work, you sit and look at it for a few minutes anyway, and then the answer jumps up at you. Emily is a terror at the game.
  6. The game can be played alone, or by 2-4 people, in which case, everyone puts out 1-2 cards at the same time to make the four on the table. (so no one can start thinking about the solution first).

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What At Least One Teacher Thinks About School

Teaching (and being a student) is a taste of mild imprisonment. You are told exactly where to go (point A to point B) for every minute of the day. You are told when to go to the bathroom (if you are a kid, as needed, as a teacher, NEVER), and when to eat. You may not speak unless given permission. You may not show anger. You may not laugh. You must do everything that you are told. You may not go outside. You may not LOOK outside. You may dress THIS way, you may not dress THAT way. Never question a teacher....of course, I don't run a ship that's very much like this....but due to the fact that this particular boat (my school) is carrying 260 passengers, with very few walls, the rules have to be followed to a great extent, so that all can hear and learn. Sigh. I WANT to go outside and PLAY!

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What is the Difference Between Wisdom and Intelligence

Intelligence is knowing that smoking is bad for your health. Wisdom is not smoking.

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If you have a problem and you have two solutions, which should you take?

Well, most often you can select both of them. We always seem to want to have to make a choice between things. Many times utilize both solutions, and you will be better off.

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How Do I See "Who People Really Are."

This is simple, but most people don't want the real information. All you have to do is to watch what people do, not what they say. In fact, for learning about them, ignore what they say and watch what they do. It's that simple. What they do is what they are really about. Anyone can say anything at all, it's simple.

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The Secret of Boredom

This one is really simple if you think about it. When I am bored, it's me, it's not the world. The world is a very fascinating place. There are so many things that are interesting. I can amuse myself when I write a tune, but there are an infinite number of interesting things to explore. Read a book, find a cool tune to learn, find a pen pal, go to the museum, play the Best Card Game, talk to someone, go for a walk and look around. It's a fascinating planet we live on, and when it appears boring, the world doesn't change, we have changed. So if you are bored, remember, it's not the place you are, it's who you are at that moment.

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How To Be Happy

Appreciate what you have. Everything is relative, but too often things that are very valuable are overlooked. Are you are seeking something that will make you happy, peace of mind perhaps? Or are you seeking an object, like a new guitar. Here is the trick, if you get what you seek and you are not happy, then start looking for peace of mind, because no matter how may guitars you have, no matter how much money you have, you will not be happy. You need perspective. If you look at others and want what they have, but when you have it, you still aren't happy for more than a day or two..... just give up on this method. Find another way to be happy. Appreciate what you have.

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The Best Exercise

For me, it's Yoga. I'm not speaking of the meditation now, just the physical exercise. It's really many ways to stretch. I have done many things for exercise over my life. I used to ride bicycles, one year I clocked 10,000 miles, much of it in the mountains. It was good, but the feeling just can't compare to the way I feel when I am doing yoga. I feel flexible and loose. I have never injured myself, and I can do it in a half hour in my studio. When I think of people that are older, stiff comes to mind, the inability to bend. Yoga keeps you flexible and feeling great.... just my opinion of course.

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Shortwave Radio

There is so much available to people these days. Cable TV (don't have it, nor do I even watch television or videos). The Internet is good, but I really use that for communications and letting people know about my music. I use Netscape 4, with Java turned off and only an audio plugin. Movies are ok, but they don't appeal to me. Playing is great, but sometimes when I am working on music, or doing communications, I like something to distract me a bit. I don't find games interesting.... but what I do like is shortwave radio. You can hear the world... news from other countries, music, points of view, science features.... We are really in a bit of a shell no matter what country we are in. It is so refreshing to tune into stations from other countries. The BBC is one of the best. They have a strong signal that covers the world in many languages. It's really just incredible. But there is also RCI (Radio Canada International), Deutsche Welle (Germany), Radio Netherlands, Radio Switzerland, VOA (Voice of America), Radio Austria, Bulgaria, Iran, Cuba, Ecuador, Sweden, Australia, China, Japan, and just about any country you can think of. The BBC comes in clearly in the NE US on 9515 from about 7:30 to 11:00 Eastern time, and in the evening on 6175 and 5955... that would be from about 5:00 to 12:00 PM. VOA is at 15580 from 1:00 to 5:00 PM in the northeast. There is so much that is interesting to learn about in the world.

You can find a radio relatively inexpensively, but it's better to get something decent. Sangean makes a nice selection of radios. They are sold by the CCrane Co., Universal Radio and Communications Electronics has a great buy on the ATS-909. C Crane has sales, and also very good deals on returned items, which also have a full warranty. The Sangean brands are also sold by Radio Shack under their own name. When Radio Shack has a sale, the price is quite good. Other radios are available from Grundig, Kenwood, Icom, Japan Radio Co and the US made top rated Drake R-8 . Some of the more expensive table top models can run to over $1000, but they have incredible reception. If you travel, it's hard to beat the compact Sangean ATS-909. It's small and powerful and with a portable antenna, you can pick up so many stations. The Sangean ATS-818 is also a very good deal and a radio with very good reception, but it's a bit larger. It would be very good as a home or office radio. These stations also get excellent AM and FM reception.

A great introduction to shortwave is the book "Passport to World Band Radio" which is available from the C Crane company. One other nice feature of C. Crane is that they pay postage. The also have a great catalog of radios, antennas and other great products. You can get a copy on-line, or by calling 1 800 522-8863.

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The Secret of Great Conversation

You might think the secret is to listen, but it's not. Great conversation is easy to listen to if it's interesting. It might be hard to guess what would be interesting to another person, but without this secret, you have little chance of figuring it out, so I will give you the secret right up front. Don't tell people things that they already know. If someone says to you... "I know" or "You told me that." I would pay attention. When you tell people things that they know, they stop listening. When they stop listening, it's hard to get their attention back. Also, it's easy to tell someone what they know, you don't even have to think about it. That is part of the problem, great conversation takes thought.

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There are Muggles Everywhere

If you have ever performed music laced with magic (not muggle music) when people have the option of listening or talking, you know what I mean already..... uh... oh, If you don't know what "Muggles" are, you have to read the Harry Potter books. You can find them in any book store. They are cleverly disguised as children's books, but I warn you;, if you read one, you will read them all. So let's bet back to what I'm talking about. If you perform music in a concert situation, you never know who is listening, because usually everyone applauds, even for the most ridiculous tunes. You could moan into your guitar (or whatever instrument you have) and hit it with a lamp, and if you looked properly attired and serious enough (there are many documented concerts and absurd tunes out there to show what I'm talking about) people will applaud. We learned about this when we were young, it's called the "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome. But play in a restaurant, party or reception, and you find out a lot about the people that are there. I would say that muggles are in the vast majority. You can play the most beautiful magical tune in the world , and it falls on deaf ears if there are only Muggles in the room. Rare that you find a Wizard at such a function, but if you do you will know immediately. They are not speaking. They will he listening, and no doubt, surprised that there are Wizards there playing magical music. They might wink, but it would be subtle. They might just tell you how much they enjoyed the music, but that is not the secret, the secret is that they are listening. I have spent my life seeking and writing things that I believe contain magic. Tunes that are addictive and beautiful, tunes you can't stop playing. I have found them by other composers also, and I never have enough of them. If you are a wizard, you know that there is an additional ingredient in music that is often missed. It's Magic. The tune has to be laced with magic, that is what makes a person keep coming back to the tune. That is why it's so hard to write rules that tell someone how to do it. Anyway, if you are someone that has had this experience, we just want you to know that you are not alone.

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There is really nothing quite like the feeling of speeding along on a smooth road or bike path. I rode a lot years ago, and then I got sick and it wasn't fun anymore. I recently discovered I could ride again, my energy and stamina and breathing are back. I was shocked at how much I liked it. Then I remembered how much fun it was. Now I use the bike paths. We have some amazing paths around here in upstate NY. The paths follow the river. There are trees and greenery everywhere and it's quite. I see bunnies and deer. I have been gong out every day. I end up passing a lot of people on my bike. This is a function of the bicycles they are riding more than anything else. One huge factor is the weight of the wheels. This is weight that you are moving forward, but you are also spinning that weight. Sometimes 4 times for every turn of the pedals. At that point, I figure that weight is at least four times more important than the weight of the rider or the bike. When I first started riding a good bike, there was no such thing as a mountain bike. Now there are everywhere, and there are also "comfort bikes." These things can't seem to get out of their own way, but people seem to like riding them, and I enjoy passing them. I have been doing rides of up to about 60 miles. I was very surprised at how quickly I got back in shape. The photo below is of the path along the Mohawk river in NY State.

I prefer the classic ten speed of the seventies. The new racing bikes I find ugly and the paint jobs are too bright for me. I could go on and on about this, but it's not really important. It's not really about the bike, it's about the ride. Go find a bike, and go for a ride. You will discover something else magical in the world.

If you would like to see a map of the bike trail, click here If anyone would like to trade bicycle path photos, let me know. I would love to see some photos of bike paths in other states or countrys. You can contact me at Allan

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The Ultimate Computer Game

My nephew and his wife play a lot of computer games. I have only played them a few times, so I'm no expert. I just know that little twinge you get when you want to play it again. Reminds me of something... Oh well, today I was listening to the radio and there was a new game they were talking about. The problem with computer games is that people get good at them and then they get bored... Oh, I remember what it reminded me of. That twinge when I want to play a tune again. Music is really the ultimate computer game. It's more complex, more fun, more challenging, and after a time, instead of being able to sit down and play a game, you can play an instrument. I have been playing for 36 years, I'm still not bored. Ahem, that may have more to do with me than music, but I think not. It's so interesting. There is so much music, centuries of it, and if you ever get bored, you can write your own. Music is certainly more complex than mousing around, or the joystick or whatever. That is not what makes it great of course. But it may have something to do with the frustrating that people experience when they are trying to learn. It just takes a while, but the rewards are certainly great. What a feeling to be able to sit down and play, to have your fingers dance over the fingerboard and make beautiful sounds.

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All writings and images copyright © 1997 Allan Alexander