Philosophy Tuesday

Sometimes there just is no answer

for all our want to influence or control

all we know or think we know

they don’t make a lick of difference

all we do or try to do

they don’t make the rules

things are not in our paws

there’s only the big die roll in the sky

and so we grieve

or at least pre-grieve

waiting and wondering

keeping vigil

from near or afar


self-recriminations at the ready

thousands of what ifs and if onlys

laid out in front of us for analysis

not helping, but not avoidable

distracting us from the outcome

distracting us from the game

of being with

the sadness

the memories

the unknown

letting it flow through us

letting it honour the one

the departed

or the not yet departed

the space of limbo

the uncomfortable space of limbo

the hellish space of limbo

getting ready

as if we could ever be truly ready

for that which comes

reprieve (for now) or finality

we don’t know when the die will be rolled

so we breathe

and wait

Architecture Monday

Here’s a nifty video!  With just a few simple tweaks, the familiar skyline of Hong Kong is turned into something new:

This is really great, I like it when little shifts really play with my perception and open up a whole new experience, it helps me to understand space better.  Plus it’s a fun way to get to know more about a city.

And, wonderfully, it’s beautiful to look at in its own right.  Enjoy!

Philosophy Tuesday

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

“We are not rational creatures.  We are rationalizing creatures.”

There was a great segment on This American Life a couple of weeks back that was wonderful for illustrating just how funny (and, to look at it in certain ways, insane) our choice making processes can be.  How easily they are hijacked by things hidden in the background, things that are hidden deep within our context.  And so, also showing how powerful our context can be.

This is the story about how, even with all the knowledge in the world, and even with personal, demonstrable, reproducible, success, Wilt Chamberlain refused to shoot his free throws on the basketball court underhanded.  That is, shoot them “granny style.”

The very name given to it gives a hint of why there are less than a handful of players who shoot that way in the league.   Even though those who shoot granny style shoot their free throws incredibly well, remarkably better than any other players.

Wilt Chamberlain tried it for a season, and went from being a 40% to a 60%+ thrower, in very short order.  Those who shoot underhanded all the time range up in the 80s-95s.

But Wilt doesn’t stick with it.  He goes back to the ‘regular’ throwing style, and his percentage drops significantly, and opposing players go back to fouling him as a tactic, since a free throw was the most certain way to ensure he would fail to make a basket.

I love this story as a reminder that, really, knowledge often makes no difference.  Especially this being a sport, where there are statisticians and analysts and you can see clear, measurable results, from a different technique.  There is no missing bit of information, here, it’s all known and on display.

But the choice is the “non-rational” one.  They’re choosing to hurt the team by costing them points.

Our views and our contexts shape so much of not only what we see, but also what choices we make and what actions we take*, on a fundamental level.  So very often hidden from us.  They didn’t interview Wilt (or Shaq, for that matter, who also never shot underhand even though he was invited to) to ask why he switched back.  To hear what his reasoning was.  But I wager what he would have answered would have had a great rationalization that “made sense” to him.

Things usually make sense to us.  We have our reasons.  We can build reasons for just about anything.  We can argue for our reasons.  And we will even defend, with fury, those rationales.  Even if they’re not the authentic reasons and rationales.  We can hide those reasons that don’t sound so great when viewed in a straight way, viewed in that “well, when you put it that way…” sort of way.

I think we often forget, or ignore, that our emotions, our feelings, our views, our contexts, our worlds, do not have an impact – a very large impact – on our choices.  We live in the scientific age of enlightenment, where we are educated and don’t let that mushy stuff get in the way.  Or, of course, that’s our story.  The unfortunate thing is that if we are unaware, or ignore, that other side of things, the non rational/logic side, we cede a lot of control.   And we shortchange ourselves from winning the playoffs, whatever that “playoffs” may be in our life.

This is another of those not good or bad, right or wrong, smart or dumb things.  It’s a human thing.  We have our emotions and socials and constructs just as much as we have our logical and figure-out side.  It’s what makes our lives so rich and wonderful.  The more we be present to and incorporate the “all of us”, the more we can create and fulfill on the possibilities we so amply want.


* Not to mention it shapes our very experience of the moment

Architecture Monday

Tonight we head to Singapore to see a house designed by Aamer Architects.

There’s some nice juxtapositions going on here that I really enjoy.  Most strikingly is the way the concrete shell – which delightfully takes on the basic form of a cartoon image of a house – is sliced away to be replaced by the delicate and warmly coloured wood screen.  The house itself then slides on behind the screen, opening up to light, views, and breeze.  The asymmetry of the house is also enticing, making for a dynamic composition that draws the eye.  By using the space under the pitched roof, there are three levels to the house while looking more like two.   And that triangular skylight embedded in the concrete shell.

click for project info

Inside the effect’s even more grand.  The screens, the framed views, sometimes concrete, sometimes not, all reads.  It’s very expressive, the rooms feel alive.  And there are so many nifty little touches – like the bookshelves being like screens in the window, a rock garden off the master bedroom, or a glassed-in planter that terminates a built in desk that itself forms a railing to the living room… all with lots of light and taking advantage of the local climate.

There are a few places that feel a bit disjointed and unresolved, but overall I really like the basic idea and how it’s been done.  It’s a clear and simple concept used to generate nice space.