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Wonder Wednesday

June 19, 2019

names unheard

spells unwoven

the forest listens

the being calls

Beautiful work by Loika

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Philosophy Tuesday

June 18, 2019

“There’s also the fact that we all imagine ourselves to be somehow immune to the way that the information feed shapes our understanding of the world.  But it is precisely the belief that we are immune to it that makes us so susceptible to it.  It is because we don’t think advertising works on us that it works so well, it is because we think that, you know, propaganda can’t affect the way we vote that propaganda is so effective at changing the way we vote.  We need to think harder about this stuff and not imagine ourselves as being people floating above a sea of information, and instead understand that we are fish swimming in that sea of information.”

“Yeah, the idea that we are at all separate from many of the things that go on in our culture is buck wild.  It’s part of us, we’re part of it, we can’t separate ourselves from it, and just because something happened in a movie doesn’t mean we’re going to be that thing, it’s not like a direct 1:1 relationship, but everything that we do is informed by culture.  We cannot escape that, so we have to be aware of it.”

John and Hank Green

 

(Oh so nicely succinct and well put.  They are, after all, called hidden views and biases for a reason.  Are you human?  If yes, then you have biases.  It isn’t about being good or bad, right or wrong, it’s just something we do.  We create our reality, out of the many fragments that surround us, forget that we did, end up with biases, and then, in the immediacy of our lived experience, not recognize that those realities, views, and biases are acting upon us.  Not to mention emotions and identities, the likes of which we totally pretend we are above and unaffected by.  We get trapped, of a fashion.  And the only way to not be trapped and hooked is to acknowledge that there is a trap, own our humanity, and practice being mindful to notice when the hooks come up.  Then we remain free to see, to be, and to choose.)

 

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Architecture Monday

June 17, 2019

I do like me my little spaces of contemplation, and this one in the Ukraine is a mighty fine example.

Outside, it’s got this quirky little form that is somehow familiar yet also not at the same time.  Square yet also curvy, simple yet with some surprising complexity near the top, and an off-centre entryway that is even more mysterious with the extra roof that hovers inches above the ground.  And covered in shingles that match the trunks of the trees in which it is nestled.

Inside there’s beautiful stuff happening, especially when you look up.  That is one cool oculus, a twist of geometries that elates, further punctuated by some precision lighting.  Simply adorned, the wood interior arcs upwards, bending towards the light.

And that strange ground-hovering double roof turns out to be there to shield a continuous window band, aligned horizontally with your view as you sit peacefully on the floor.

Very nicely done, a space both quiet and exciting.  Good stuff.

Chapel of the Intercession by RdsBrothers

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Wonder Wednesday

June 12, 2019

It’s currently around 400,000 degrees* here.  So this picture of a frozen James Bay, Hudson Bay, and Nunavut is quite refreshing!  And, of course, absolutely lovely… our beautiful blue marble…

Photo by David Saint-Jaques from aboard the ISS!

 

* I’d specify this is in C, but I think at this point it doesn’t matter if it’s C, F, or K…

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Philosophy Tuesday

June 11, 2019

When we interact with someone, we often operate under the unspoken 50/50 rule:  “I’ll do my part, and you do your part.”  Which is also sometimes known as under the name of “It Takes Two To Tango.”

Which is great, right?  I mean, clearly there are (at least) two parties involved, so each should be doing their bit for things to work out.  Except – and you knew this was coming – there’s this thing we do.  Well, a couple of things, but the biggest of them to speak of tonight is the “integrity baseline syndrome.”  Which is fancy name for the effect where we start off in a relationship at 50/50… but then you don’t do/be/handle/etc this thing that I think you should have, so now I’m going to pull back a bit, so we’re at 45/50… which of course means then that you notice I’m not doing/being/handling/etc as much as I should, so you pull back, 45/40, so then I say you’re not efforting enough and pull back to 38/40, and then you… and I… and you… and I… and before you know it we’re both pretty much being 0% responsible for the way the relationship goes.  It’s all eggshells and accusations.

(Of course, not all or even most relationships go that way, but they likely end up with each of us cycling around 25% to 35% or so… which feels fine, normal, and even right because it’s what we’re used to, it’s how relationships always have gone… but it isn’t where it could be.)

The extra kicker about the IBS, which you may have already noticed, is that many of the “you didn’ts” are unspoken by us.  They are never communicated, created, nor checked in on.  So, the transgressions we use to cut our percentage are often involuntary, unexpected, and even unseen.  There’s no explanation for why the other person suddenly seems less invested or active or engaged.  Which both hurts, and then prompts the further pullback, leading to the downward spiral.

The hilarious* thing is that many of these standards and ideals are amazingly arbitrary and trivial.  No, this isn’t about if the person abuses or controls or takes advantage of you, but rather the expectations of what a “person with whom I’m in this kind of relationship with should do” kind of way.  Does it involve gifts?  A certain way they listen to you?  Scheduling?  Activities?  Certain statements they should reiterate with a particular frequency?  There are hundreds of these, and so many of these are deeply individual; we created the expectation of what’s right and proper based on what we saw modelled growing up, both live and in fiction.  We decided it all.

Turns out, the other person may not have decided the same things.  And they have equally weird and specific metrics they’re applying to you!

So here’s the crux:  It’s best to enter into and maintain relationships where each person takes on 100% ownership of how it goes.**  And since you can’t act for another person, it means taking on being 100% responsible for how all of the relationships in your life go.

There’s great joy and power in this.  Extra joy, really, for what’s available in a high-ownership relationship is amazing and so much above what we’re used to as we dabbled around our 25%ness.  And given that forming connections is one of the most meaningful and fulfilling things there are for us human beings, this is super important.

An acquaintance once shared a story about their first Christmas with their, at the time, new boyfriend.  Starting in October they had been going out seeking the most amazing gifts they could think of and discover.  It was great, and they were super excited, hiding the gifts all over their shared place, all ready to surprise come the day of unwrapping.  Until they had a thought.  “Wait, if I’m using all the good hiding spots, where are they hiding their gifts?”  So they, as casually as they could, asked, “Hey, how is your Christmas shopping going?”  “Oh, I don’t buy things.”  And like that, an explosion.  Storming around the house, yelling “you’ve ruined our Christmas,” ready to throw them out, and lots of crying, especially from the boyfriend who wasn’t even sure where this was coming from.

Fortunately, mindfulness was present and so before too long my acquaintance caught then excused themselves for a moment as an interrupt, regained their centre, and returned to conversation.  Through talking, they learned that gift giving just wasn’t part of the boyfriend’s upbringing, both because they never had much money and moreover it wasn’t how they showed love to each other.  It wasn’t part of their world.  “I honestly don’t know how to do it,” he said.  “Would you like to learn?”  A pause to consider.  “Yes. I would.”

That Christmas was wonderful.  And in a delightful “be careful what you wish for” twist to the story, that boyfriend ended up being a MASTER at gift buying, so much so that my acquaintance’s mother prefers the gifts that the boyfriend buys to those from her own child.

100% ownership for how things go.  Disasters avoided, great enlivening relationships available, and the chance for things to be wondrously amazing.

 

* Hilarious in the “man aren’t we humans ever fascinating!” kind of way…

** Again, this is not control; see this post.***

*** Because if it doesn’t go as you’d like it to in order to maintain the relationship, you have the say in how it ends as well, whether it ends or not and whether it ends gracefully or in a train wreck.

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Architecture Monday

June 10, 2019

For less than the price of a small “shack” in my current neck of the woods,* you can buy a designated historical masterpiece by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright.  And once again, thanks to the magic of a real estate listing, we get great photos of the inside of such a usually private work!  Lo, let us feast our eyes upon the Pappas house:

The Pappas residence was one of FLW’s “Usonian” houses.  Usonia was a concept that Wright developed and turned into a manifesto of sort, espousing ideas about housing and living and community planning.  They were squarely intended to be for middle class families, built with materials and methods that were straightforward to manage costs, yet at the same time coupled with a strong design to make them sing.

While the Usonian concept calls for strong integration with the site and nature around it, and many homes were built on sloped or otherwise interesting lots, that isn’t as much on display here at the Pappas house.  But what is fits with many of the moves that FLW brought to his design:  a strong horizontal feel, high clerestory windows to bring in light, breaking down corners and even whole walls through windows and glass doors, and a masterclass in using differing levels and ceiling heights to create a playful and interesting set of interlocking spaces. Material use is also well on point, marrying the mosaic-like solidity of concrete blocks and tile with the warmth and continuity of wood, punctuated by all that glass.

The house for sale even comes with original FLW furniture!

Compared to the monumentality of the Ennis house, this is anything but.  Yet in no way does that diminish the qualities within.  It may not be the strongest of FLW’s Usonian designs, but it’s still darn good.

The Pappas house by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Images and Listing by Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty.

 

* To be fair, some of the shacks (albeit not too many) are Eichler houses, which are quite amazing in their own right.  And I do mean that; I live in an Eichler-inspired home, and it’s fine, but walking into a true Eichler just hits you with how exquisite the space and design is.  Of course, to buy an actual Eichler in this area is going to cost you wayyyyy more than buying a “Like-ler” (as the local planning department has named them) and certainly way more than the Pappas house out in Missouri.

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Wonder Wednesday

June 5, 2019

In a lot of ways, it seems very silly and unassuming.  After all, it’s ‘just’ a series of marble trials.  Yet done with such rigour, seriousness, and with completely earnest commentary played totally straight that it is tough not to get sucked in… and even root for your favourite team/country.  Totally fun to watch, and impressive to think of all the work behind the scenes to set it up and have it be so compelling.  Here’s the first event of this year’s competition to get you started!