I've finally gotten around to posting several albums on Facebook, some of which you may actually be interested in...
One in particular I'd like to draw your attention to is the Luray Caverns album. I Cantori toured this cave while on a concert tour a few weeks back, and the place is just amazing!
Facebook album for those who prefer social networking with pictures.
Shutterfly album for viewing larger, higher quality photos (use a fullscreen slideshow for the best experience).

Hope you enjoy! and if you're ever in northern VA, I recommend visiting these caverns, they're really quite amazing!


No shoes

Today was no shoes day at Southern; an incentive to raise awareness that many children around the world do not have shoes. Now, this is obviously a problem for many people - poor children in colder climates, children who must walk in hazardous areas where they can cut their feet or become infected, etc. You all know that part of it.

However, I want to focus on the flip side of the issue - the fact that it is actually healthier for your feet to walk barefoot!

You may not be aware, but "...the skin on the soles of your feet resists abrasions and blistering, and going barefoot is beneficial to the musculoskeletal structure of your feet and ankles. Kicking off your shoes can help prevent a host of foot injuries: bunions, heel spurs, and bone deformities, among others. Shoes act like casts, holding the bones of the foot so rigid that they can't move fluidly." Wearing shoes actually causes your feet to lose the ability to support themselves! [source]

Furthermore, running barefoot is also better for you! When you run with shoes on, you are encouraged by the extensive padding in your shoes to land with a jolt on your heel, after all, you can get a longer stride out of it, and it's easier. As you can imagine, this isn't good for your body - all that jolting will eventually cause repetitive stress injuries and other problems. Here is a great article, much more recent than that first page, about the benefits and methods of running barefoot.

So, who is better off, the person in Africa, who has no shoes, runs all day on bare feet, and is, on average, much healthier than us, or the person in the U.S. with a plush lifestyle which allows his body to atrophy and degenerate to the point where if he had to go without a car, or a bike, or pavement, or perhaps shoes, would likely injure himself in at least one of many possible ways?

Perhaps we should be lobbying to clean up the places that are dangerous to walk barefoot, instead of putting the bandage of shoes on the problem. My opinion is, the more "necessities" we impose on people of developing nations, the more they become like Americans. Is that really what is best for them? How about we clean up the mess that our commercialism has made, instead?

What do you think? Lets here your opinion! :)


Mathematicians Stunned when Computer Reaches Final Digit of Pi!!!

A team of Japanese researchers at a leading national university have upended the entire scientific world when it unexpectedly calculated the value of pi to 1.3511 trillion places, which is apparently the final digit in this number previously thought to be infinite.
"We don't understand," said visibly panicked project team member Makoto Kudo. "We were just trying to set a new world record for most digits calculated. We had no idea it would run out. Honestly!"
Researchers at Tokyo University, led by Professor Yasumasa Kanada, calculated the value for pi with a Hitachi supercomputer for over 500 hours in March. They were seeking to break their own world record. The Hitachi supercomputer is capable of 2 trillion calculations per second.
"We just wanted to get to 1.5 trillion places," said Kudo. "We intended no harm."
Pi is a number expressing the ratio of the circumference of a perfect circle to its diameter. As there are no perfect circles or spheres in nature (since matter is composed of atoms and is therefore not smooth) the continued extension of pi has long been seen as a harmless exercise of computer power. However, its symbolic value to the scientific world is profound.
"Probably no symbol in mathematics has evoked as much mystery, romanticism, misconception, and human interest as the number pi," said David Blatner, author of The Joy of Pi. "It is the ultimate limitless vista serving as inspiration to mathematicians the world over. With our world so rudely circumscribed, how are we to continue? What point is there in going on if even pi has a limit?"
Kanada's team has volunteered to continue building on pi by generating random numbers, but the mathematical community seems to feel it wouldn't be the same. Some refuse to accept the findings, although Kanada's team has run the calculation three times.
"We thoroughly condemn the slanderous allegation that pi has a limit," said Rolf Umbridge of the Ancient and Honorable Society of Pi Watchers. "We are so incensed by the very notion that we hereby officially censure the University of Tokyo. Dr. Kanada, you are dead to me, sir!"
Most, however, do not blame Kanada or his team, acknowledging that someone would have discovered that pi is finite sooner or later.
"Pi showed me the power of numbers," said UCLA graduate student in mathematics Alan Prentiss wistfully. "It was that episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk exorcizes the evil energy entity from the ship's computer by commanding the computer to calculate the value of pi, which used up all the computer's memory. I was just a kid, but I thought - wow, math can be used to fight evil. But now I realize that was just a fantasy, a sham: the computer would have finished the job, and the Enterprise would have been lost. It's profoundly disillusioning."

This is absolutely crazy...I can't even fathom all the repercussions this will have to science!