Monday, March 7, 2011

Dutch-American Relations

It feels good to have showered. At this past weekends' festival a drunk man upended danced into my full glass of beer, which spilled all over me. Luckily, Jan had predicted that this would happen, and thus had equipped me with an old corduroy coat to wear. Mm. I'm going to have to wash these jeans though. Yes, I am wearing pants. I never expected life to be so hard.

Or easy, sometimes. I had to stay home from work today to wait for a very important package to arrive. It is a delicate electronic device known as an electroencephalograph. With it, I will be able to detect the patterns in brain waves that correspond to entertaining different mental states. Muhuhahaha! I think this might be the musical instrument of the future. Or at least the harmonica for the hand-brain coordination emphysemic (I'm speaking of course of those unfortunate aspiring musicians who have flippers for hands, metaphorically speaking). Brain oscillations can be translated by computer from electromagnetic waves into sound waves, and thus the deliberate manipulation of ones own brain waves by conscious will could be used to create a theremin-like device. I estimate it will take me only 10 hours of training, spread over two weeks, to train my brain to be able to modulate pitch and volume. Changing the timbre of the instrument would also be another useful control. Multiple simultaneous notes might be beyond the range of this technology. The real question is, once we take the stage, what do we do with our hands? Tambourine? I can see the newspaper advertisements now for the Phillips Theremin. The Encephalotron! The Brainophone! I seem to be full of get rich quick schemes these days.

So just before I got doused, I was having this conversation with a random Dutch guy, and it went like this: Him: "Statements that are generally applicable are more useful to think because they apply to more situations." Me: "Circularity is circular." I've been living in The Netherlands for five months now, and I have yet to feel fully culturally acclimated. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that almost every Dutch person speaks almost perfect English. But when I'm a crowd of people and everyone in it is speaking a language I don't yet understand I feel somewhat out of place. Many expat conversations involve complaining about Dutch culture, which I think is just poor assimilation + sour grapes. It would be interesting to do a study of the implicit attitudes of foreigners here who learn or do not learn Dutch. Uh oh, I fear I've bullshitted my way into a corner.



daniela said...

Hey Webb, nice entry. Is that your own private EEG machine you got, did I understand right ? Besides it being a super-cool toy, isn't that also terribly expensive ? Have fun, I can't wait to hear brain-rock (neurock ?)


webb said...

Haha yeah well it was the cheapest one available :)

finchycocoa said...

I think homesickness is normal when you are in another country. I also love that Beachhouse song. It gets stuck in my head.