November 27, 2003

real rhapsody in blue

A quirky phenomenon that scientists once dismissed could help explain
the creativity of the human brain

By Anne Underwood

Dec. 1 issue — As a child, Julian Asher had a theory about the
symphony concerts he attended with his parents. “I thought they turned
down the lights so you could see the colors better,” he says,
describing the “Fantasia”-like scenes that danced before his eyes.
Asher wasn’t hallucinating. He’s a synesthete—a rare person for whom
one type of sensory input (such as hearing music) evokes an additional
one (such as seeing colors). In Asher’s ever-shifting vision, violins
appear as a rich burgundy, pianos a deep royal purple and cellos “the
mellow gold of liquid honey.”

IT WASN’T UNTIL Asher began studying neuroscience at Harvard
six years ago that he learned there was a name for this
phenomenon—synesthesia, from the Greek roots syn (together) and
aesthesis (perception). Almost any two senses can be combined. Sights
can have sounds, sounds can have tastes and, more commonly,
black-and-white numbers and letters can appear colored. For Patricia
Lynne Duffy, author of “Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens,” five plus
two equals green: her color for seven. Sound crazy? For most of the
last century, scientists dismissed synesthesia as the product of
overactive imaginations. But in recent years they’ve done an abrupt
about-face, not only using modern technology to show that it’s real but
also studying it for clues to the brain’s creativity. “Synesthesia is
not a mere curiosity,” says retired neurologist Richard Cytowic, who
helped spur the current interest. “It’s a window into an enormous
expanse of the mind.”
Scientists have devised ingenious tests to prove that
synesthetes didn’t simply invent their unusual associations. In a 2001
study, Dr. V. S. Ramachandran and Edward Hubbard of the University of
California, San Diego, showed volunteers a display of black-and-white
digital 2s hidden among 5s (illustration). Most people took several
seconds to find all the 2s. To synesthetes, they popped out immediately
in contrasting colors. “This proves that it’s a real perceptual
phenomenon,” says Ramachandran. Brain scans are confirming the
findings. At a Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans two
weeks ago, Colin Blakemore and Megan Steven of Oxford University showed
that a key color-processing region of the brain really is being
activated in one synesthete who says he sees colors when he hears
certain words. “What makes this interesting is that he’s been blind for
10 years,” says Steven.
Why do people develop synesthesia? The truth is that no one
knows. But scientists at Rockefeller and Cambridge universities are
hunting for genes that may help unravel the mystery. Synesthetes may
have unusually dense connections between sensory regions of the brain
(the most common forms of synesthesia involve adjacent brain areas)—or
perhaps their brains activate connections that are usually inhibited.
Similar connections must exist in most of us. How else can we explain
the temporary synesthesia that people experience on hallucinogenic
drugs like LSD? “People don’t suddenly grow new neural connections in
half an hour,” says Peter Grossenbacher, head of the Consciousness
Laboratory at Naropa University in Boulder, Colo.
The implications are dramatic. It is possible that most of us
not only have these connections but use them regularly, although at
such a low level that we don’t realize it consciously. After all, we
describe subzero weather as “bitter” cold, while a taste like cheddar
cheese may be “sharp” and a color like hot pink “loud.” “Maybe
metaphor, abstract thought and synesthesia all have a similar neural
basis,” says Ramachandran. Clearly, synesthesia is related to
creativity. A new survey by Grossenbacher found that out of 84
synesthetes, 26 were professional artists, writers or musicians, and
44, serious amateurs. “Synesthesia for them is part and parcel of what
ends up being a more expressive life,” he says.
For artist Carol Steen, who paints the music she sees, it’s
also answered more prosaic questions, like: which type of recording
produces richer sound—CD or vinyl? “Vinyl,” she says. “The colors are
more beautiful, as if someone gave them an extra shine.” End of
debate—the eyes have it.

Posted by hill at 10:59 AM | Comments (7)

November 25, 2003

a little bit of james witcomb riley

One naked star has waded through
The purple shadows of the night,
And faltering as falls the dew
It drips its misty light.

Posted by hill at 05:03 PM | Comments (1)

November 24, 2003

if we want to live an abundant life...

john 7:37-39

37 on the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

38 whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"

39 now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

1. manifest a desire that is fierce.

a burning thirst
a gnawing hunger
daily searching

for what?


2. maintain a devotion that is full.

deny self,
let God work.

dying daily.

absolute devotion.

less of self,
more of God.

be ye holy, for I am holy.

holiness is not the path to God--
God is the path to holiness.

3. drink in faith

take God at his word.
put head knowledge of God
heart knowledge.

put practice of words
practice in our lives.

if we do these things, there will be an outward flow of God.
we will become fountains of God's truth.

i chalenge you.

become a fountain of God full-to-overflowing with his goodness.

Posted by hill at 02:48 PM | Comments (1)

November 16, 2003

who is master of my life?

tonight the message was on matthew 4 and the part that stirred my heart was toward the end of the message.

matthew 4:18-22

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

and they immediately went to the Lord. he made the example that if he walked up to someone in the congregation and asked them to leave their jobs, their home and their family to go into the Lord's work, at BEST we would say, let me pray about it. but what did peter, james and john do? they left immediately.

what stands in the way of immediately serving Christ? is it our possetions? is it our lives? is it our jobs? our health? money? school? relationships?

what is important here? what is the ONLY thing that will last? the kingdom of God. that is it. the only thing that is and ever will be eternal.

so why do we hold so tightly to our earthly posessions? why do we keep our fist wrapped tightly around material and earthly things?

because we have lost sight of what is important. we have lost our glimpse of the kingdom God is preparing for us.

i pray that the Lord opens my hands and my heart to his leading.

Posted by hill at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2003

the art is lost

this entry relates to ubertati's entry good christians

so what do we as christians do when someone comes to us crying out with need?

there is one thing that we miss. one thing that is so small, that we think it won't help.

we can listen. sometimes the trite sayings "i'm praying for you (and lets face it, how many times do we say it and not actually do it?)" or "its in the Lord's hands" or "its all for the best" don't hold up. because it isn't genuine.

would it hurt you to go to a friend you know is struggling with something and instead of preaching and pointing fingers just sit. listen with your heart and mind.

sometimes that is all the encouragement we need. the Lord can heal thru the most seemingly small ways.

Posted by hill at 08:49 PM | Comments (3)

November 05, 2003

battle of the mind...

i don't really get it, but here is an entertaining way to get derrogatory monkey names for you and all your friends...

is a
Chip-Eating Mini Monkey

...with a Battle Rating of 0.7

To see if your Food-Eating Battle Monkey can
defeat hillary, enter your name:

Posted by hill at 01:33 AM | Comments (1)

November 04, 2003

a blonde moment...

i am in macbeth. i am a witch (non-speaking lest you get too exited for me!). i get lots of flack for that by the way. my boyfriend tells people (who don't know that i have an ACTING role as a witch) "yeah, my girlfriend is a witch! no really, she is!" and then he tells them.

back to the point. my blonde moment. i spend the time i am not on stage in the green room or the actor's waiting room per-say. tonight i was messing with my wallet and this guy asked to see it. in my wallet is my i.d. card and my liscense. everyone knows that any kind of liscense picture is bad. i think that cindy crawford has a bad liscense picture. i say that mainly to justify my bad picture.....

this is the part i forget. i don't remember grabbing it out of his hands, but he says i did. so i got it back supposedly. about half an hour later rehersal ended for me. so i left and went to the snack shoppe to get some light refreshment before traveling home.

i reach into my bag to get my wallet to buy a jones soda (which has really cool pictures and if anyone buys those things, will you keep the labels and send them to me?????) and it was gone!

****gasp**** (horror music begins to play in the background....small children begin to cry...satcloth and ashes are brought out...)

so what does hillary do? she goes back to rodehaver and tells all the rodehaver rats (aka stage guys, who are really nice by the way. they are not rats. they really need to overcome that reputation) that she had lost her wallet and could they help her look for it? there were about four guys looking all over (opening curtains, lifting up props, looking thru the cracks in the floor, looking in the green room etc. you get the idea. general pandemonium was caused in the process of looking for my wallet.)

about a half an hour later i finally leave my numbers and email for the guys to contact me if they find it and leave practically in tears.

then i decide to look one more time in my bag.

bingo. you guessed it. there it was. right toward the top. boy-oh-boy did i feel dumb. dumber than dumb. i felt flat out blonde. so i called stage to tell them not to worry and that i found it. i felt really blonde telling them it had been in my bag the whole time.

so welcome to my world, and there you have it. hillary's moment of glory.

Posted by hill at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

pardon my mess...

i am messing with color right now. it will be done probably this weekend, so bear with me here. i am just testing which colors i enjoy and which ones i retch at the sight of. =)

Posted by hill at 03:49 PM | Comments (1)

November 03, 2003

any info on css?

i would like to poll the audience on what your thoughts on css is. do you know about it? what is it? is it better than what we have? how in the world do i use it?

my next question is has anyone found a site that tells you the different colors for the site i could use?

now that i have asked twenty questions, we will see if i get twenty answers. =)

Posted by hill at 01:50 PM | Comments (9)