Wednesday, January 16
Driven to abject despair by lack of music and decent, unread fiction*, I found myself in Cambridge trying to find a good book to tide me over for a day or two. Waterstones had a special sale promotion on, bringing their prices right down to be equal with Amazon.co.uk, but unfortunately the only books that I even considered getting were The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (I had a flick through this in Borders, and it seemed like a good laugh).
[*That's not to say that I don't have any decent unread fiction. I do, apparently; I've got two fiction books given to me as birthday presents that I haven't read since they look quite imposing]
I ended up buying Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder; I've already read it before but didn't really understand it at the time. It's basically a 400 page primer to the history of philosophy written as a novel. It's not fiction, but it'll do.
To be completely honest, it's probably a good thing that I don't have any decent fiction, since it's allowed me to read a good chunk of my textbook on Cognitive Neuroscience. Unlike similar textbooks on genetics or molecular biology, this textbook is necessarily more wordy and interesting. In the past couple of days I've been blazing through it, due to a serendipitous convergence of my not having anything to do, and my brain being in an unusually receptive state to new information. Such occurrences are not to be taken lightly, I've found, since otherwise I miss a great opportunity to learn lots of stuff in a very short amount of time.
Tuesday, January 15
It's interesting listening to how people speak. I was strolling around Cambridge city centre yesterday afternoon, just trying to kill time, when I found myself following a group of people whose conversation I'd picked up in mid-sentence. The interesting thing was that I'd started listening in the middle of a word, and despite the fact that I later found out they were speaking in English, it sounded like a completely foreign language until my brain had enough information to process what was going on.
When listening, it's easy to think that English or indeed pretty much every language consists of words and pauses of silence in between words. Yet when you listen to a foreign language, generally they sound like incomprehensible streams of sound without pauses. What the brain does is parse the sound into packages, based on grammar and context and so on (lip-reading almost certainly plays a role here as well) and so the experience you have is of discrete words.
Anyway, it was a profitable afternoon out since I discovered that Konami have released Dancing Stage Euromix Platinum for the Playstation, which I'll be buying fairly soon; I also picked up a twisted ficus plant for my room - not only do they brighten up rooms but they also soak up toxins in the air, notably free radicals.
Just spent a few minutes lounging around in a friend's room listening to French rap, which was amusing.