Archive for February, 2017

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 28, 2017

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

Our minds can so easily be hijacked.

Really, there are so many ways, avenues, and hooks out there that lead us astray that, when you can stand back and realize it, it’s actually kinda funny.

We have our righteousness buttons.  We have our biases and our views.  We have our pithy sayings.  We have our stories, both personal and those we’ve heard from others.   We have brains that automatically filter things.  We have our identities fighting tooth and nail to survive.  We have the sense that we are the centre of the universe.  We have that inner monologue that often goes for the most cliché write-up it can muster.

And it’s almost always completely unconscious to us.

We’re… really not, at most times, all that great at this.  Hilariously bad at keeping ourselves from being commandeered by some already always decided or automatic thing.  We might as well be sailing with blinders on and a big “hijack me” flag flapping in the breeze.

There’s a reason mindfulness – or being present – is at the heart of nearly all philosophical traditions, and a reason why it’s first practice to put in place.

Mindfulness and ontological inquiry is what gives us the awareness* to see just how eff’n easy and often it is that we get hijacked.

As we start to practice and develop our mindfulness, we get to recognize how much our perception of things shapes our experience of the moment, of who we are, and of how the world is.

Being present gives us the ability to reconnect to the present.

Being present lets us awaken to what’s so, that is, to what’s actually, physically happening in the universe.  It lets in the evidence.

It gives us access to making the best choices.

Through inquiry and being mindful we can avoid our brain being so easily hijacked.

We can see how crazy often it happens.

We can laugh at our foibles.

Gain control.

We can take stock of what’s so.

We can consult with our authentic core.

Listen, see with open eyes and heart, and choose.

And step boldly forward towards a future we truly want.

 

* And the visceral experience that comes with it.  There is a feeling that comes with realizing and recognizing that you’ve just hoodwinked yourself, that your own mind has taken you down some path that is far away from the truth of what’s actually so in reality.  The feeling is, really, quite shocking and disorienting, and maybe even sickening, at least at first.   Then, as you get settled with how silly we humans are, the shock and the uncomfortable feelings pass quickly, you shake your head at yourself with a smile, and you get to work in apologizing, adjusting, creating, and taking action.

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Architecture Monday

February 27, 2017

Here’s a fun house that doesn’t just overlook a nearby pond, but instead straddles it like a bridge.  Somewhat reminiscent of both Tadao Ando’s Church on the Water and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling water, the house is not separate from the landscape, but rather interacts with it and powerfully invites it in.

I’ve always been keen on the idea of crossing a bridge or threshold to get to the house, and here the connection to the water cannot be missed. Not only do you take a bridge to enter, but there’s a clear sight line straight through to frame the pond beyond.  Stock still, the pond is like a mirror, reflecting the lush greenery that surrounds it and the house.

The house itself is a simple structure, with a shed roof that opens upwards and outwards towards the water.  Warm wood and Mondrian-like windows create a very lofty feeling to the space.   Walls are also not completely solid between rooms, with the upper quarter near the roof being framed in glass, and leaving the whole house feel unconstrained and open and airy.

There’s a simplicity to both the layout of the house as well as to its form that I really like.  It’s a bit of a simple cabin, but done with some sophisticated woodwork and artistic elements.  From inside and out, it plays very well against the backdrop of the pond and forest.  Plus… bonus diving board right from your living room!

The Newberg Residence by Cutler Anderson Architects.

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Hopping Wildely Excited!

February 26, 2017

zootopia-2017-oscars

Huge grats to Rich, Byron, Jared, Clark, Josie, Matthias, David, Ginnifer, Jason, Idris, Jenny, Nate, Tommy, JK, Octavia, Alan, and each and every single mammal who worked on the Zootopia team.  Well deserved Oscar win for an absolutely wonderful film.

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Stellar Symphony

February 23, 2017

Though the news from NASA on their discovery of seven, earth-sized exoplanets was exciting… as was the Google Doodle celebrating the discovery… tonight, stepping out to teach and practice, I was witness to a clear sky and a gloriously brilliant Venus with a delightfully and distinctly red Mars hanging out nearby.

Our own planets, still wreathed in beauty.

Wonderful.

(No pictures, unfortunately – I don’t currently have a camera that would be able to capture such a tableau… )

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Wonder Wednesday

February 22, 2017

I adore this Penny Arcade strip because:

It plays on the vagaries of the English language…

It’s amusing how the recent translations of the title settled the hot debate on how many Jedi “The Last Jedi” referred to…

It’s the perfect continuation of these characters’ personalities and how they play off each other…

AND I CANNOT GET OUT OF MY HEAD THE VISION OF A CIRQUE DU SOLEIL PRODUCED JEDI SHOW.

C’mon Cirque!  You’ve already got a permanent show on the Walt Disney World Resort property… you already regularly break the laws of physics in your shows… you know how to do amazing theatrics… there is no way this couldn’t be absolutely incredible.  MAKE. IT. HAPPEN….  (please!)

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 21, 2017

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

Consider for a moment the idea of rules.

Consider that rules are not the great inhibitor,  or a restraint, or an attack on choice.

Consider that we make rules to empower us.

Consider that we make rules to empower us to get that which we want in life.

If you play, or enjoy watching, a sport, then this concept is very clear.

Because a sport is nothing but rules.

The first rule of a sport is often something like “it is more important to have the ball over there than it is to have it over here.”

Then we create rules to limit how you can get the ball over there.

Sometimes very intricate and amazing rules, with paragraphs and sub-paragraphs:

“Added new Rule 6.03(a)(4) regarding a batter who throws his bat and hits the catcher.  Exception now applies to Rules 6.03(a)(3) and 6.06(a)(4). Comment now applies to 6.03(a)(3) and 6.06(a)(4).”

That is one rule from two pages of rule changes made in a single year to a 170 page rule book.

Deliciously intricate.

And we enter 100% voluntarily into them.

Why?  Because it’s fun.

We’ve created a ruleset to empower us to have a great time.

It is, of course, the same with all games, not just sports.

And it is the same within our personal lives and our communities.

Like a rather common rule that says “you can’t just walk up and take someone’s stuff.”

Why did we create that rule?

Because it empowers us to get what we want in life:  The opportunity to focus on things other than combat training, being at ease and not always on guard, security, a life of less stress, one full of ease, where we can be and playful and joyous and waltz around with abandon.

Rules that empower us.

And we even task others to maintain and insist on  those rules.

We create umpires and referees.

We send them out onto the field, or onto the broader scale of our community, or the grand scale of our country, to maintain those rules.

Rules allow us to operate together to strive forwards together.

We can look at our intentions, be fully grounded in what’s actually happening, and create our rules accordingly.

Errata is very possible, if need be.  Even for a league that’s been around for 114 years.

All towards empowerment of who we are, and what we want:

Lives full of health, ease, grace, safety, love, enjoyment, fulfillment, expression, passion, fun, and peace of mind.

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Architecture Monday

February 20, 2017

 

Another project tonight based on the ubiquitous shipping container, but one that is very, very different from the little prefab modules proposed by CubeDepot.  This is also a project that hews more closely to installation art or sculpture, than architecture, though still vital to the built environment, being situated in the very heart of the city of Calgary in a 100-plot community garden and playground that forms the centrepiece of a huge swath of new development.  The need was for a shed to hold the tools and dirt and outdoor furniture for this working garden park.  The result goes well beyond something picked up at the local hardware store.

The base design is wonderfully simple, a radial dispersement* of three shipping containers that make up the shed portion of the project.  The way those containers are enveloped and connected is what makes things begin to sing.  Riffing off the corrugated sides of the shipping container, three more sizes of corrugated metal mesh are inset together, creating this nifty conglomeration of transparent 3D planes that shift and change as the angle of your view changes.  Made of a rich and textured material called CorTen (which rusts without falling apart), there’s a nice mix of refinement and roughness that draws the eye.

The real excitement comes where the three radial arms formed by the containers meet.  Again matching the pattern of the corrugation, a series of hexagonal tubes are interlocked and cut to formed a dome with three arched entryways, creating an overhead trellis that frames the sky above.  Placed near the street, the archways form a type of gateway into the site, a playful portico welcoming you to the gardens and playground beyond.

To that end, it is a bit unfortunate that the “roof” of the shed is completely flat, contradicting both the expressiveness of the dome, the latticework, and the mountains on the horizon.  It is a small smidge, however, on an otherwise lively and clever design for what might have been a generic afterthought.  Nice work.

Also, well done Calgary for creating this community garden and the RiverWalk that connects to it as you develop and densify.

The Crossroads Garden Shed by 5468796 Architecture

 

* Wait, is this not a word?