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Halloo! When I found out I could go to med school with a Humanities degree with an Ethnomusicology emphasis, I almost peed myself. Here's to me holding it in.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I updated my blog intent and added my proposal - give them a look-see!

Also, I have created a group on Facebook to help with funding the project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/175150352605860/.

Thanks for all the support!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Turns out I forgot to do a post today. It's strange that we have a post due on the most momentous day of the semester, but c'est la vie.

We turned in our proposals today. That means that once I turn in a revised IRB form, per the IRB's wonderful and concise instructions, I am done with the major stuff. We have a joke final, which is often the case in these classes, and a marathon planning session left. I think that's pretty much it.

Lori and I are psyched to pick up our rad ISP backpacks, get our last shot, and get the heck out of here. I am so done with academia for a while, and so is my wife. Sure, we'll be checking in with the program and doing assignments from time to time, but the assignments seem well-designed and purposeful (not to mention fun), and we only have to talk to the interwebs  every two weeks or so. I look forward to an experience that will not be more real than what I am doing now (life is real whether or not it seems that way and regardless of whether or not you like the reality you're in), but will rather be real in a different way. It will be a step outside the usual paradigm of homework, paid work, trips to Smith's for groceries, and all these darn white people. In my Grandpa Hilton's vernacular "somethin' different" is the highest praise available ("aggravatin'" is the harshest derision available), and this will certainly be "somethin' different." It will probably be aggravatin' from time to time as well, but from what I can see from here it will be aggravatin' in a different way than I am used to experiencing, and that excites me as well.

I'll put my project proposal, all bajillion pages of it, on this blog shortly. If any of you are incredibly bored, give it a read.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tibet, Tibet

I just finished Patrick French's wonderful, "hopeless, hopeful," book, Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land. I'm still reeling.

I read the last 50 pages today (I prefer reading books in large chunks, as opposed to small bites - I lose my place in the ethos of a book if I split things too finely). The end of Tibet, Tibet is depressing on a national level but hopeful on a personal level - the strength and general goodness of the Tibetan people is reaffirmed at the same time a hopeless prognosis for Tibet's nationhood is given, unless the entire Chinese regime changes drastically.

French was able to review some documents in Dharamsala in an effort to come to a better understanding of the actual Tibetan death toll since the beginning of Chinese rule. As he realized that the "official" number (1.2 million) is built on straw-frame statistics, he wondered if he should keep his findings to himself. He then said:

"But I knew, after everything I had seen in Tibet, that truth was more important than continuing to back the cause in its present form. More realism was needed, not less, when it came to Tibet. It was a land that had suffered for to long from the well-intentioned projections of visiting foreigners."

It seems that his sad prognosis is driven from a true sense of compassion and altruism towards the Tibetan people, one that recognizes the faults and problems of the people while still cherishing them as human beings. I still believe in "the mind's Tibet," "a lasting romantic vision... of a lost land, a place of dreams, a place to feel at home," (French 300) but in the same way I still believe in the American dream and the Zion yet to come. America is screwed up, and so is the Church, and so is Tibet, but there is strength and goodness and meaning in all of these places.* The places are symbolic, but the people are real, and it's worth loving and fighting for both.

The project I am doing in Bylakuppe is apolitical, as far as parties and policies are concerned. The negotiation of culture through art is, however, part of what I believe to be a much more lasting and meaningful form of politics. As I have said before, it is indicative that the Dalai Lama set up the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala before he set down plans for the rebuilding of Tibet's most sacred monasteries. You can kill the Tibetans in Tibet with some ease - even a tulku goes down with a gunshot - but the Tibet that lives in Tibetans, as romanticized as it may be, is much tougher to kill. If Tibet ever becomes its own place again, it will be due more to cultural heritage preservation and innovation than mere political posturing.

* The Church as "place" is an interesting idea, and deserves further exploration. Any takers?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Looking Ahead

It's best to live in the moment, but living peacefully in the moment usually involves at least a little bit of planning for the future. It's a peace of mind thing, yeah? I'm going to update y'all on where I'm going and what I'm doing after this field study (i.e. Fall semester), and in the process I might figure out a little more of what I actually want from the next 8 months or so.


Here's my class schedule. It takes up the largest chunk of my time and thought, which is sometimes wonderful and sometimes tedious. It looks pretty good:

I've got the second semester of O-Chem (though if the O-Chem I'm in right now goes badly enough I might just retake it to make sure I've got the concepts down. If I had known the field studies class would function more like a 5-credit class than a 3-credit class, I would have waited to take O-Chem. 15 credits of classes that actually take the time the credits imply is hard enough, but when two of my 3-credit classes should be 5-credit classes, it feels like I'm taking 19. No sleep tonight... :) C'est la vie!). I'll be doing the post-field writing class and putting together a polished something, just to prove I didn't waste my time in India. Humanities 202 will be cool (I love modern art [so shoot me]), Hindi is always great, and Gamelan is a blast. It seems like not a lot, but there are definitely 15 credits up on that picture.

What else do I want to do with my time? Fifteen credits is too boring by itself.

I need to get a job, for one thing. I would love to work part-time on campus, preferably as a TA (if the field studies program wasn't being kaiboshed I would apply to be a facilitator). Lori is going to be working as full time as possible and taking an online class or two so we can recover from how expensive this whole thing has been and save up for tuition, kids, and maybe even a little nest egg.


I have an idea for a nonprofit organization that does crowd-sourced scholarships. I'm working out the kinks right now, and thinking through what features I want to incorporate, so I'll let you know more when I know more. I also don't want to reveal too much... But y'all will like it. It'll be the new Jumpstarter for college kids.

Blaine, did you know there's a huge picture of your face on the interwebs? Now you do.
My acoustics guru, Dr. A, with family.
The fro is now gone, but the spirit remains.
Above are some of the wonderful people involved in BYU's Acoustics Research Group, and one of the freaking coolest rooms at BYU - the large anechoic chamber. The floor is just a wire mesh, so you feel like you're walking on the moon and like you're in Tron all at the same time.
I love Acoustics Research Group, and they love me back, so I hope I can find enough interesting things to do to stay involved with them. The ASA conference this last fall was too fun for words (but I bet you one of these guys could make an equation that gets pretty close). I would like to give service there too - they gave tours and demonstrations to something like 4000 kids this semester, and even a dummy Humanities major can help with those.


I need to start shadowing doctors, pronto. Med schools like applicants to have something around 200 shadowing hours. I would love to find a reproductive endocrinologist to follow around for the rest of college. I know there are a few in the area - in LDS culture, having kids is kind of important, and it's devastating to couples when the usual method doesn't work. Utah is a great place to work in fertility medicine. I've also always had a desire to work with hospice patients, so maybe I'll find a place that takes volunteers and start getting some meaningful patient contact hours (I hate how clinical that sounds...).


As far as fun extracurriculars that probably won't look that good on a transcript but would be fun anyway (what is the deal with being "serious" all the time? Who wants that?), I would love to get more involved with Leading Edge magazine and Quark, BYU's resident clubs for sci-fi and fantasy geeks. There is also a great folk ensemble performing club that does a lot of interesting things (below is one of the groups in the club, an Irish folk band). I would probably be touring with them this summer if I was going to be in the country.

I'm in a band right now too, and we have a great time playing little shows here and there. Here's our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/This-Years-Fall-Fashion/178862797008. There are a few videos if you're interested.

So, there you go. That's something like 8-9 extracurriculars and 15 credits. The hard part is figuring out where I should allocate my time to find that magic balance between career and educational progression and personal fulfillment. I'm glad I have a wonderful wife who puts up with all her husband's craziness, what you might even call dilettante-ness (I don't really know what I'm doing in any of the things I do). Life is fun as long as you live most of it for others, non? My wife is teaching me that, and I hope the way I prioritize my time in the years and months to come reflects the life of a person who has learned well the lesson of compassion and that good ol' 13th Article of Faith.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Acho Danny

The trailer above is for the movie Namgyal: Shey Kyi Jinpa, a documentary made by musician Acho Danny to document one of the most important figures in 20th Century Tibetan music. I heard about Acho Danny a while ago, but was reminded of him today in my world music class and decided to find out more.

Here's a video of him and a few other musicians doing some traditional Tibetan songs.

It's interesting that the music of his that is online is very much in a traditional style. Some of the songs from his CD, "My Dranyen," work in a very interesting fusion framework. Here's the cover of the CD - it's a great example of intertext, and captures the refugee spirit.

It might be fun to get in touch with Acho Danny and see what his take on the whole thing is. I also want to pick his brain a bit about dranyen - the more I hear it the more I want to learn how to play it. 

This last video was found while I was searching for the other ones in this post. This dude is pretty cool, and brings up some points I would love to explore one day regarding musical expression in modern Tibet.