musical identity

Note: This has been laying in the drafts forever! I just found out I wrote this after AP Music Theory exam and I decided to edit and post it. 🙂

 

I am never really good at music theory despite years of training in piano and taking AP Music Theory when I was a junior (APMT was the hell for me), and I believe music should not have so many rules or labels (classical, romantic, impressionism, post-modernism etc). People always say do not label person based on their identities (gay, agnostic, transgender, Jewish, Asian…) and never say something like ‘that is so gay’ or ‘you must get straight As because all Asians are smart’ (lol).  That is the same with music.

Music is ‘the universal language of mankind’ (Henry Wadsworth Langfellow) and studies found that music have a similar effect on people from completely different cultural backgrounds. A piece of good  musical composition should have the power that people ‘fall in love with it instantly’ despite the who the composer is or what genre it falls into.

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Random: labor supply decision of NYC cabdriver

So, 2 weeks ago, I had a formative assignment for my Labor Economics course. It was an essay question on critically assessing Camerer et.al. (1997)’s controversial paper: Labor Supply of New York City Cabdrivers: One Day at a Time. A little background information: In the paper, Camerer et.al. tried to find an answer to the  ‘simple question’: do people work more when the wage is higher? They use cabdrivers as objectives to find out labor supply decision of economic agents. Clearly cabdrivers face high wage periods and low wage periods due to demand shocks (e.g. the wage is higher when it is heavily snowing) and in their paper, they concluded that cabdrivers tend to work for fewer hours per shift (note, a shift is 12 hours and cabdrivers can choose the length they plan to work in a shift) when the wage is higher.

This is indeed interesting as it seems rational that people choose to work more when wage is higher. I was curious how non-economists view this conclusion. So I sent texts to 3 people. The text goes on like this:

Studies found out that cabdrivers work for fewer hours when wage rate is higher as oppose to common belief that they work for longer hours. What do you think is the possible explanation of that finding.

I sent that text to 3 people that have zero previous economics coursework. My dad (studied computer science in college) told me he absolutely had no idea why. My best friend (a senior nuclear engineering major) said something like this

The wage rate is higher because there are fewer cabdrivers working. If more cabdrivers are working, then the wage will fall down. It is not because drivers work less in high wage periods. Instead, it is the fact that fewer drivers are working that cause the wage to increase. Clearly, your statement has serious logic fallacies.

My mom (studied linguistics for college and grad school) said maybe because people have expectations on what they are going to earn  so they will stop working if they reach their expectations and simply have some fun as money does not equal to happiness. Sounds reasonable right? And in fact, this is exactly what Camerer et.al. proposed in that paper.

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3 years later.

Life is crazy and you never know what’s gonna happen. My last post was in 2011, 3 years ago.  Today I just realized I used to blog (yep, I gave up after maybe 5 posts). As was changing my “about me” section in my profile, I realized how much I changed in the past years. Anyway, I know nobody actually sees my blog, but I will just talk about what happened in the past 3 years.

I graduated from high school (yayy) and went to Shandong University in Jinan, China. I somehow ended studying economics although my passion was pharmaceutics or biology (looking back now, it might be a wise choice for me). After 2 years of boring college life (Economics is really not fun at all), I came to Durhan University in northeastern England via a dual degree exchange program between my college in China and Durham.

I made some really good friends, got my first real job (as a waitress) , did some travelling, read some amazing books, got involved in some drama, went to a different country… Anyway, lots of stuff happened and they changed me, a lot.

Talking about England, all I wanna say is, I miss the Florida sunshine 😦 I hate the gloomy sky here!

What I am excited about at the moment is the xmas break! I plan to go to London and visit the museums! Can’t wait!

Until next time,

<3, Xinyu

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Travelling Differently-Paulo Coelho

I realized very early on that, for me, travelling was the best way of learning. I still have a pilgrim soul, and I thought that I would pass on some of the lessons I have learned, in the hopes that they might prove useful to other pilgrims like me.

1. Avoid museums. This might seem to be absurd advice, but let’s just think about it a little. If you are in a foreign city, isn’t it far more interesting to go in search of the present than the past? It’s just that people feel obliged to go to museums because they learned as children that travelling was about seeking out that kind of culture. Obviously, museums are important, but they require time and objectivity—you need to know what you want to see there, otherwise you will leave with a sense of having seen a few really fundamental things, but can’t remember what they were.

2. Hang out in bars. Bars are the places where life in the city reveals itself, not in museums. By bars I don’t mean discotheques, but the places where ordinary people go, have a drink, ponder on the weather, and are always ready for a chat. Buy a newspaper and enjoy the ebb and flow of people. If someone strikes a conversation, however silly, join in: you cannot judge the beauty of a particular path just by looking at the gate.

3. Be open. The best tour guide is someone who lives in the place, knows everything about it, is proud of his or her city, but does not work for any agency. Go out into the street, choose the person you want to talk to, and ask them something (Where is the cathedral? Where is the post office?). If nothing comes of it, try someone else—I guarantee that by the end of the day you will have found yourself an excellent companion.

4. Try to travel alone or—if you are married—with your spouse. It will be harder work, no one will be there taking care of you, but only in this way can you truly leave your own country behind. Travelling with a group is a way of being in a foreign country while speaking your mother tongue, doing whatever the leader of the flock tells you to do, and taking more interest in group gossip than in the place you are visiting.

5. Don’t compare. Don’t compare anything—prices, standards of hygiene, quality of life, means of transport, nothing! You are not travelling in order to prove that you have a better life than other people. Your aim is to find out how other people live, what they can teach you, how they deal with reality and with the extraordinary.

6. Understand that everyone understands you. Even if you don’t speak the language, don’t be afraid. I’ve been in lots of places where I could not communicate with words at all, and I always found support, guidance, useful advice, and even girlfriends. Some people think that if they travel alone, they will set off down the street and be lost forever. Just make sure you have the hotel card in your pocket and—if the worst comes to the worst—flag down a taxi and show the card to the driver.

7. Don’t buy too much. Spend your money on things you won’t need to carry: tickets to a good play, restaurants, trips. Nowadays, with the global economy and the internet, you can buy anything you want without having to pay excess baggage.

8. Don’t try to see the world in a month. It is far better to stay in a city for four or five days than to visit five cities in a week. A city is like a capricious woman: she takes time to be seduced and to reveal herself completely.

9. A journey is an adventure. Henry Miller used to say that it is far more important to discover a church that no one else has ever heard of than to go to Rome and feel obliged to visit the Sistine Chapel with two hundred thousand other tourists bellowing in your ear. By all means go to the Sistine Chapel, but wander the streets too, explore alleyways, experience the freedom of looking for something—quite what you don’t know, but which, if you find it, will, you can be sure, change your life.

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我的美国之行

相信没有几个人知道塔拉哈希(TALLAHASSEE)这个美国小城的名字,虽然贵为佛罗里达的州府,其名气可比迈阿密差多了。不过热播剧《lost》(迷失)中提到了这座美丽的小城后,塔拉哈希的名气大了些,但是还是有很多美国人拼不出这个词。塔拉哈希源于当地印第安语言,意思是七座小山的城市。这座城市地处丘陵,坐在车上,前方永远有一座山坡。塔拉哈希也是一座建在森林里的城市,路两旁永远都是茂密的森林,而且树上常常有一种叫Spanish moss的寄生植物,看起来像长了胡子,有一种童话世界的感觉。我,去年八月,因为母亲应聘为佛罗里达州立大学的访问教授,来到了这座小城,开始了一年的在美国的生活。
James S. Rickards高中和IB 项目
我在美国上的学校叫James S. Rickards High School,这座学校是为了纪念James S. Rickards先生而建的。Rickards先生是一位佛罗里达州的教育家,因为他的努力,印第安人能够进入普通的公立学校读书。这个学校整体水平并不高,但是幸运地拥有世界著名的IB 项目(international baccalaureate program),因此吸引了很多聪明学生。IB是一个总部在英国的国际组织,目的是向全世界的高中提供大学课程。和美国加拿大的AP(advanced placement)课程并列。开始,我以为进入IB program会很难,没想到,去注册的那天,负责人Dr. Newman却说对于外国人什么要求也不需要,真的让我感到很吃惊。
数学面试
选课时,Dr. Newman还把两位不同的微积分课程老师请过来,让我比较。一个老师是个严肃的矮个子,另一个是一位可爱的大个子。他们似乎不是在面试我,而是让我挑选他们,不停地展示自己授课的内容,方式以及他们的人格魅力。我最终选则了那个和蔼可亲的大个子Mr. Kiser,他高兴的差点跳起来,并且还借给了我他的计算器。而那个严肃的矮个子老师面无表情地走开了,好像有点失望。至于其它的课,因为可选择的课太多了(课程涵盖方方面面,许多课国内的高中都没有),我稀里糊涂地选了IB 法语,IB化学, AP美国历史,AP音乐理论和AP英语。上了课我才知道,这是多么crazy的举动!这么多AP和IB课程可让人吃不消。尤其是美国历史,对于美国人来说也很恐怖。
上学
终于等到了开学的那天,说不清是紧张来是期待。学校对我来说简直是一个迷宫,每节下课,我都找不到下节课的教室,只能在走廊之间徘徊。有时,会有很友好的学生会主动帮助我,有时只能问别人,所以基本上每节课都迟到,老师貌似有些不满。见到了所有的老师,他们性格各异。法语老师来自波多黎各,却说着流利的英语和法语(据说他会8种语言),化学老师看起来很严厉,美国历史和音乐理论竟然是一个老师,知识渊博,拥有博士学位,他的身高,据我估计,有2米!英语老师是一位长着红头发蓝眼睛的美女。第一天中午,还有一件很有趣的事:我走在学校,有一个男孩叫住我,问我有没有一个姐姐,因为在他以前的学校里,有一个长得和我一模一样的女孩!他说他也是新来的,从德州来的。学校里的课很难,讲得也很快,最恐怖的是,有些课演讲很多,对于我这样一个有公众演讲恐惧症的人来说,简直是灾难。不过,当真的上台演讲时,事情也没那么可怕。说实话,我也不知道我是怎么survive(活过来)的(是的,可以用survive这词来形容)老师不像国内的那样,他们根本不讲习题,只讲理论和概念。不过每一个老师有很热爱自己的职业,热爱自己的学生,而且对待每个学生都很平等,不会因为考试考得不好或者作业没完成而发脾气,作业没写完或考试即使没考好,老师也同样认为你已经尽力了,不会因为成绩而生气。
Aiko Baker
Aiko是我在校车上认识的女孩,Aiko这个名字源于日语,译为爱子,但她确实是100%的美国人。她打扮一副叛逆青少年的样子,嘴唇上戴着一个环,衣着总是有一种夸张的不搭配的感觉,不过她的性格可一点也不叛逆,反而很友善很幽默。她的成长经历十分丰富(甚至有些“传奇”),出生在田纳西州的一个旅游小镇Gatlinburg,从小家里搬到伊利诺伊州,在芝加哥的不同郊区长大,她说她住过中产阶级郊区,富有高档的郊区和比较低档的郊区,还住过芝加哥市区,结识了各种社会阶层的人,然后又搬到伊利诺伊州一个大学城Normal,随后家里搬到了Tallahassee,今年夏天,她家又搬到了田纳西州纳什维尔的一个郊区,明年要以交换学生身份去德国。她很有艺术气质,唱歌唱得极好(这点很羡慕她),和朋友组建了乡村音乐乐队,在学校乐队吹小号,还很擅长画画,梦想是当珠宝设计师,而且要到欧洲学习和发展,因为她不喜欢美国。阿伊卡最大的特点是她的思想古怪,总是对事物发表非同寻常的见解,比如她说会说3种语言的是欧洲人,说会说2种语言的人是美国第一代或第二代移民,会说一种语言的是美国人。还有她说吸血鬼就是普通人,他们内心有一种吸血的欲望,比如她就是其中之一。她有时故意说话前言不搭后语,还反问别人“你听懂了吗”,当你回答否定,她就会说其实我也不知道我在说什么!
卡洛琳奶奶(Granny Carolyn)
我的卡洛琳奶奶(是我认识的一位退休老人)是最最热心,最最乐于助人,最最让人快乐的人,她虽然六十多了,但是内心还象一个年轻人。开着一辆豪华轿车,并且还象年轻人一样炫耀自己的汽车和自己的车技。她热爱冒险,去过美国除了阿拉斯加和夏威夷以外的每个州,去过欧洲,喜欢刺激的运动,比如滑水,滑雪。她也经常邀请我去她家,教我烹饪各种不同国家的特色饮食,渐渐地,我也爱上了烹饪。她和她的丈夫接待过来自世界各地的20多个交换学生,把他们当做自己的孩子,至今还和他们保持联系,他们中的许多人后还来到美国拜访她。我真的很幸运,能够认识这样一位奶奶。
美国最古老的城市
你们知道美国最古老的城市是哪儿吗?答案是佛罗里达州的圣奥古斯汀(St. Augustine)。它比美国的年龄还要大。这座城市建于1565年,当时那里是西班牙的殖民地,因此这座城市保留了浓郁的西班牙风情,建筑多为红色(这在佛罗里达南部的城市中很常见),许多建筑古迹至今保留完好。城中有Flagler College,是一座艺术类的大学,这座大学历史不长,但是它的建筑可是建于1888年,是著名建筑师Flagler设计的,有100多年历史。当时是一座高档酒店。圣奥古斯汀城外的海边有Castillo de San Marcos城堡,城堡建于1672年,是为了抵御英国人的海上攻击而建,是美国最古老的城堡之一。来到这座城市,会感到时空一下子倒流了几百年,让你感到来到了几百年前美洲大陆。
新泽西
今年六月,我结课后来到新泽西州的普林斯顿小城,我妈妈有一个朋友住在那儿,这里就是著名的普林斯顿大学所在地。普林斯顿大学给我的第一印象就是和青春活泼的佛罗里达州立大学不同,普林斯顿到处是古老的建筑,充满了浓郁的学术气息,建筑上泛着青苔,爬满常春藤,感到有些压抑,好像每一块石头都有一段历史。普林斯顿大学是美国诺贝尔奖得主最多的大学,著名物理学家爱因斯坦流亡到美国后普林斯顿大学给了一个任教职位(今天该校物理学院以他的名字命名)。电影《美丽心灵》里天才的纳什早年住过的宿舍和当年一样,还在继续使用。全美甚至是全世界最聪明最成功的学生匆匆走过,说不定他们中的某些人会成为诺贝尔奖获得者。朋友带我来到小城中心的一个不起眼的冰激凌店,抬头一看墙上的照片,竟然看到一张爱因斯坦吃着冰激凌的照片,原来这家冰激凌店看着不起眼,可它历史悠久,并且据说爱因斯坦很喜欢这里!!!!
我的故事还有很多很多,有快乐,有困难,有惊喜。这次美国之行给我的最大的感受是,不管事情听起来有多么困难,靠自己的努力,一切都能解决。还有一点就是,引用甘地说过的一句话:What ever you do in your life will be insignificant, the most important thing is that you do it. 无论什么事情,只要你尽力了,努力去做,不管结果怎么样,别人就会欣赏你。

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Criminals?

It’s so pathetic that, some teachers (not particular one), treat their students like criminals. C’mon, why can’t everyone trust each other???? Is that so hard to do??????? I mean, no one mean to copy homework from others, or cheat in exams.It’s just not most teachers are being understanding? If we turned in our homework, why questioning whether we have done it by ourselves or copying others?

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