Wonder Wednesday

May 24, 2017

Oh my.  Walt Disney World just rolled out a new evening fireworks show, but much more exciting/impressive to me is the fabulous use of projection mapping on the castle:

Very nicely done.  The story/progression of the show may be a bit weak, but the visuals are killer, and I’m very, very excited for the breadth of the characters appearing.  One of the things I noted in previous visits to a park was how many of their characters and stories didn’t seem to bet represented or be present at all, so it’s great to see many of the “forgotten” stories be given their due.  Especially the Hunchback sequence!  Quite delightful all around.


Philosophy Tuesday

May 23, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Continuing from last week the conversation about money and value… and expanding this week to get interpersonal.  Let’s look at our relationships and at appreciation.

Just like how we get sucked into the detached space of “pure monetary value” and readily lose sight of what something is personally worth to us, we also very much collapse the idea of compensation (ie, money) with displaying appreciation.

Hank Green mentioned this idea in a recent Vlogbrother’s video:  “John, you are aware of my appreciation deficit theory. It’s this idea that I have, that by turning all transactions into something that can be quantified with money, that we have lost the ability to feel as if there is value that can be transferred that isn’t measured?”

Acknowledgement, gratitude, and connectedness… they all get lost in the same morass of the reductive dollar value.

And so, when we pay someone for something, we think that’s all and good.  They did this thing for me – could be a big thing, could be a small thing, could be a pleasant thing, or it could be a terrible stinky hard thing – and we paid them, then that’s well and done.  That is enough.  We paid them, right?  That should show what it’s “value” is to us, right? *

But that’s compensation, a transaction, a payment to make a living to do a task for us.  It is vital part of the economic engine we work within.  And it should not be confused with appreciation.

It gets weirder when there is no explicit money interaction.

When a friend does something for us, its value may not even register for us, since it didn’t have a dollar value attached to it.

Or maybe we do think about it, but since friends don’t charge friends for things, what to do?  Buy them a gift, which is, effectively a payment by another name?  Mark it in a ledger to do a return good deed later on?  Or simply say thanks and move (awkwardly?) on?

Compensation is a quick transaction.  It takes moments to stuff a few bills across the physical space between two bodies.  It’s also impersonal, valuing something only in comparison to arbitrary figures of an autonomous numbering system.

Appreciation requires presence.  It takes time, contact, and connection to cross the personal spaces between two human beings.  It’s intimate.  And it’s about what the true value of something is.  “What is, deep down, truly, this worth to me?”  And if the answer is “a lot”**, then appreciation is letting the other person know.

“I value you.  Thank you for what you do.  Thank you for what you’ve done.  You have made a difference in my life.  Thank you for being part of my life.”


* And the reverse as well.  Our boss gives us a task, and we do it well, and they simply sign our paycheques every week;  is that enough?

** Remembering that people all over and in so many roles are contributors to our lives… as we are to theirs.


Architecture Monday

May 22, 2017

I went and saw a lecture by one of the members of MAD Architects the other week.  Overall I found their work a bit hit or miss.  They seemed to operate at their best when working on more intimate scales and close to the ground.  Which is exactly what their new residential/mixed-use project in LA is.  They didn’t present it at the lecture, but I like it.

The view as you (would – it’s not yet built) approach tells a lot of the story, the podium of vines and succulents and greenery rising above a transparent facade of shops.  From the back, a path wends from the ground up to the top of the verdant podium, atop which perch a cluster of white villas.  Balconies and windows set into the greenery let you know that these houses have, of a fashion, a basement, set deep into the podium. It’s living space all the way up and down.

But it’s the courtyard, hidden at the centre of the project, where the full story unfolds.  There is a gaggle of housing types here, from townhouses to villas to studios to condos, and they all coalesce and interact around this courtyard.  There’s an intricate interplay of forms here that create little niches and pockets of space for balconies and porches.  Each unit has it’s unique identity while in dialogue with the greater whole.  It looks fun and playful.

This isn’t ready to break ground until October, so I won’t be checking it out on my upcoming trip to LA, but in future years, when it’s done, I’ll definitively swing on by.

8600 Wilshire, by MAD Architects


Wonder Wednesday

May 17, 2017

As we travel through the deserts of our life,

it is always good to bring a friend along.


Wonderful picture of hikers among the dunes of Death Valley.  Image by Sapna Reddy.


Philosophy Tuesday

May 16, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

A friend of mine participated in a game a couple of years ago that I really find fascinating.  While on the surface the game seems quite simple, underneath, and why I find it so fascinating, the game ultimately was a meditation on the concept of “value.”

The game itself was straightforward:   Each of the players (something like 40 of them) had to select something they had to offer or give.  It could be something physical, like golf clubs or a blender, it could be something they could do, like massage or kung fu lessons, or it could be something both physical and transitory, like a 2 week stay in a timeshare in Maui.  There were no baselines, limits, or restrictions placed on what they could offer.  They just had to offer it.

From that starting point, the next 90 minutes they were to to walk around, talk with each other, and trade offers until – and this is the important part – they all got something they really wanted.

That was it.

And indeed, by the end of the game, each person had something they thoroughly enjoyed and wanted and were excited to have.

The nifty part of the game wasn’t the acquiring, though.  What was nifty was that through the actions and all those acts of exchange it got the players thinking more and more in terms of personal value.  That is, it had them examine and be aware of what was something worth to them – once again here is the important part – completely separate from the or any dollar amount attached to said thing/item/class/event/location/etc.

It had the players confront the degree to which the “absolute/real” $$ amount that was assigned to something had pervaded their thoughts and their choices.  It had them confront how much of themselves they had shoved out of the picture and how much they were letting the pervasive voices of the economic numbers guide the show.

They had to stop thinking only about “am I ‘getting a good deal’ here?” and instead remind themselves who this ultimately was for… and who it always is for, in the end.  “What’s the value to me?” was the question to begin, and continue, asking.  “Do I want this?”

The more time they spent within that space, the more free they were, the more trades went, and thus the outcome of at the end where they found themselves all beaming with excitement.  It didn’t matter if they had, perhaps, exchanged a high-pricetag item for something that might be considered low-pricetag.  What mattered was that they got something that they, themselves, authentically wanted.

We get all kinds of funny weird when it comes to money.  It’s all so easy to strategize and stalk this competitive field and get sucked into this zero-sum game where we absolutely must come out with the highest number value.  We can all to readily slide into a soulless mindset inside of which we so easily end up short changing ourselves.

But that question “what is this really worth to me?” can be such a switcheroo.*  It frees us to value things for ourselves, and allows us to choose where and how to spend those $$s we’ve worked to get in ways that light us up the most.  Without the filter of the so-called true “price” of something, we get the chance to guide ourselves towards what will give us the best experience and quality of our individual lives.

This can unfold even further… more next week.


* – This is one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the Kickstarter and Patreon models.  There’s no fixed cost… I can think and then pay exactly what something is worth to me rather than paying “what it is sitting there on the shelf.”  It offer the potential for a nice, unexpected, and hidden philosophical twist on our usual commerce model.  “This is a game/art/widget/etc that I reealllllly want to see in the world, I would be happy to pay $1000 to have it come to fruition.”  Not everyone approaches it this way I’m sure, especially with all the backer levels and extra perks for higher investments.  But it’s there, available (perhaps more so with Patreon than Kickstarter), and just allowing different levels of investment, and the more personal connection to the creators, I think begins to crack open the nut of returning our focus to “what is this worth to me.”


Architecture Monday

May 15, 2017

A little classicism for your abode?

If you like, here’s a nice (not-so little) farmhouse that pulls from the classical language to create a lovely building.  No columns or fancy friezes here, but the extra-tall movable shutters create a strong vertical pull that nicely reads column-like without falling into pastiche, and plays well with the horizontal siding that covers the rest of the house.

Rising two stories, those shutters are nifty.  They slide over the windows during the hot months, cutting glare and heat (the latter by a significant amount) while still letting natural light through.  Come winter months, they can perform reverse duty during the nights, helping to keep the heat in.

This lets the house be generous with windows in a place where they can be a liability in both summer and winter, which lets there be glorious views of the intense skies and beautiful foggy mornings.  And sometimes a visitor…

Pretty sweet.  A nice use of the principles of the classical form to create a simple farmhouse that treads lightly on the landscape it welcomes inside.  I like it.

Pennsylvania Farmhouse by Cutler Anderson Architects


Wonder Wednesday

May 10, 2017

I love this Robin Hood poster by Cyclops for the Mondo art gallery show Never Grow Up!  It’s all nighttime and action and swords, and that double reading of the tower top that turns out to be the crown of Prince John is just brilliant…

Fabulous and fun.  Great work by artist Rich Kelly.