Things have not been easy lately. My cancer-ridden aunt, the one I visited this past summer, passed away several weeks ago, on October 16th. Despite knowing it was bound to happen sooner or later, I still found it difficult to cope with. She was barely 50, never smoked, never drank; she taught her piano students with great passion, and was all around a great person - strong willed, but with good heart and intentions. I felt obligated to attend the funeral: my brother and I always enjoyed being around her in my childhood, and she also had great affinity for the two of us (especially for me it seems, because of her having taken care of me so much when I was still a little kid). I debated for days whether to request a leave of absence for several days to fly to Taiwan to attend the ceremony. In the end, the decision was to miss the funeral and mourn and pay respect in other ways. Wherever my aunt is now, I hope she understands.
Whether it's partially related to this sad event or not, I've been feeling like I'm just a bit out of control these days. I'm not usually a sarcastic kind of person (well, except when with my brother), but on a few occasions lately I've caught my thoughts taking on a rather biting spin. Are years of defiant living by my idealistic ways finally catching up to me? I can't be thankful enough for having crossed paths with a person who seems to live by similar ways and understand the value in my thinking. Amazing what difference the presence of a kindred spirit makes...
In the rare really free time that I have, I stumbled today upon two interesting tidbits of information today. One was a facebook group invitation sent to me by my brother about saving my favorite animal, the dolphins, which included a link to an article with some very interesting and impressive results of studies about them - like a young dolphin calf imitating a cloud of cigarette smoke by releasing milk from its mother into the water! An action like that requires so many layers of intelligence and understanding - observing the smoke cloud, understanding that it was produced by the smoker by blowing something out; understanding the idea that releasing one fluid into another fluid of different color could produce a similar visual effect; making the connection that milk from its mother fits the criteria; going against natural instinct and deliberately using the milk for the purpose of imitating the smoke effect rather than feeding. And, not to forget, the curiosity to be interested in trying to imitate the smoke cloud to begin with. I don't know - I'm just completely amazed by this. And now that I think about it, could you think of a human baby coming up with this kind of line of reasoning? I can't. (Though granted, I don't know what the timeline of development for dolphins is...I suppose it's possible that that calf was the equivalent of a human kid at age 10 and they still feed from their mom's milk at that age.)
The other interesting bit was a google video of a talk given by Hans Rosling, professor at Sweden's world-renowned Karolinska Institute, on the subject of global health and the world's misconception of it. It's a great talk overall, with very interesting facts, awesome presentation, and some incredibly funny bits ("I have proven that Swedish top students know statistically significantly less about the world than the Chimpanzee. [...] I did also a study of the professors of the Karolinksa Institute - which hands out the Nobel prize in medicine - and they are on par with the Chimpanzee."). The video can be found here. Highly recommended!