Tag Archives: Music

Cut by a Mandolin

woman-playing-a-mandolinThe mandolin is a string instrument in the lute family. Lutes (and thus mandolins) have 4 courses or pairs of strings.  Each pair is identical but inevitably generating slightly different frequency to add a tremelo or richness to the tone as compared to only a 4 string equivalent.  Each pair tuned in perfect fifths and plucked with a plectrum. Mandolins evolved in the 1700s in Italy and descended from the mandore which was seen in the 1500s — probably used in King Henry VIII court (remember, I am watching the Tudors). For your entertainment, here is a link to a mandolin performance of a piece by J.S.Bach’s (1685-1750).

Yesterday at my clinic, a patient came in complaining that she cut her finger on a mandolin. Fascinated, I wondered how she could have possibly plucked her mandolin to hard as to cut herself?  But she had, when I walk into the suturing room, I found that she had avulsed the tip of her finger and it was bleeding profusely. After I stopped the bleeding with some foam, I then asked her if she was plucking her mandolin with her fingers because I figured that a pick (a plectrum) would have protected her.  She said she was using a large potato!

“What?”, I said, “Why a potato?”

She replied, “Yeah, I was making dinner.”

I said, “You were using your mandolin to make dinner!”

She said “Yes, I use it all the time to cut things.” It took another minute or so to realize that this was the mandolin she was using.  I laughed!

This misunderstanding illustrates how we can hear only what our mind is steeped in. I am watching the Tudors where I have been thinking about medieval musical instruments — but she was talking about a potato slicer.

Question to Readers:  Is it just me? Please tell me that you had never heard of the food slicer called “a mandolin”!


Filed under Linquistics

Person-Belief Dynamics

Many years ago I learned an interesting principle of communication theory. The principle describes a dynamic exchange between view of other and view of beliefs.  It states that if you agree with a belief that another person considers to be good (“G”), then that person will think more highly of you but then think less of “G”.  Likewise, if a person respects you but you support a belief that they think is bad (“B) then they will both lose some respect for you and their opinion of “B” will improve.  In other words, there is a trade-off.  If the words are confusing, perhaps my diagram above will help (click to enlarge). Most people understand how our opinion of others change, but many don’t understand how our own beliefs change.

As way of example:  after reading my post on circumcision (n=91), this is how readers’ views changed toward both me and the issue:

Readers View of Circumcision

  • 3% yes, a lot
  • 23% yes, a little
  • 74% no, not at all

Reader’s View of Me

  • 20 % thought a lot less of me
  • 14 % felt a little less of me
  • 50 % had no change in opinion
  • 16 % had their opinion of me improve

Part of the purpose of my circumcision post was to illustrate this person-belief dynamic.  I was trying to stir-up meta-conversations more than I cared about circumcision.

Questions to readers:

  • This principle is reflexive and probably on some levels almost impossible to escape.  Changes happen that you are not even aware of and may deny.  Do you agree?
  • Can you give us a fun illustration of this principle in your life?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion