Archive for July, 2018

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 31, 2018

We often think and call certain things “normal.”

When, in reality, it may be more fruitful to express them as “eternal.”

Because “normal” is more of an intellectual expression.

In our everyday, day to day, moment by moment experience of life however, most “normal” things to us don’t feel normal, no, instead they carry behind them the weight of the unchanging universe.*

It’s what’s right.  Proper.  Expected.  True.

Sitting down over a cup of tea, waxing deep, we can say “well, it’s just what I grew up with,” or “it’s what we’re used to,” or “it’s just how it is right are now,” or “that’s what they know.”

But “normal” doesn’t dig deep enough to give access to wisdom.

Especially when we’re in the thick of things.  “Normal” doesn’t open window into mindfulness and thus the awareness to realize our limited view(s) in that moment.

“Normal” can, perhaps counterintuitively, cloud insight.

There is so much “normal” out there that feels so right and like it’s that has ever been that we can miss all our assumptions and very much miss the constraints we’re living and operating under.

What is the economy, what we shop for, how we produce things, what does work mean, what’s a “good life” or “successful life,” what opportunities should you pursue, how to treat people around you, what’s proper to wear, how much attention (or not) should be applied towards community, things we like, want, need, what does love mean and entail, what’s precious (or not)…

Most days (and months and years and maybe lifetimes) we likely pay no thought to any of these whatsoever.  Why would we?  They’re eternal.

Yet…?

Nothing is inherent.  Much is inherited.

Speaking therefore of “eternal” is much more accurate, and thus powerful, way of interacting with all those background views we have inherited and assumed and lived in for so long.  It directly calls forth the dichotomy between our experience and the intellectual understanding that nothing is intrinsic and that much is created.**  And by rendering the division sharply, it allows us to take fuller control and responsibility of our views.

We get to examine what’s so, call upon our authentic selves, do some true thinking, and bring forth new possibilities that will guide us forward and upward.

 

* Hilarious, of course, given that the one thing constant in the universe is that it is quite in motion and flux…

** And, indeed, going to another country and culture shows us how differently things can be interpreted and created.

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Architecture Monday

July 30, 2018

There’s something magical about the mirror pool of water.  That almost-perfect reflection, yet delicately stirred by the wind, the heightening of colour and of form, a mirror that seems to look deep within places beyond.  The placid mountain lake is perhaps the pinnacle (no pun intended, I swear…) of the form, majesty reflected onto majesty.

If the reflecting pool is the architectural equivalent of the pond, then courtyards featuring reflecting pools is their mountaintop equal.  Which is why this health centre in China goes all out, organizing itself around a myriad of courtyards, each unique, and almost all featuring pools and ponds.  With quartz white walls, sculpted trees, rich wood accents, and most certainly helped by the soft light filtering in from morning fog, the result is full of ethereal beauty and tranquility.

Love it.  This I call a space of healing.

Weihai Hospital of TCM by GLA

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Gaming Thursday: A BattleTech Proposal

July 26, 2018

With the new (Kickstarted!) turn-based BattleTech computer game out, I’ve been a) playing it a tonne (and enjoying it immensely) and b) thinking back on all the tabletop BattleTech I’ve played over the years.  Which has also been a tonne.  To this day I can rattle out many weapon stats from memory.  And I fondly remember one summer laying down all the maps we owned on the floor (some of which were different scales, so we had to do this crazy linear conversion when we crossed over) in a friend’s basement for an epic battle between a crazy number of units.  Took all summer.

The game itself is mostly functional* and models well enough the particular flavour of reality its going for.  Stompy bot action, you’ve got it.  There is, however, one major niggle that I noticed even back during those epic summers, and that became even more glaring to me the few times I’ve been able to play the past couple of years.  And that is this:  the math.  Or, more precisely, the dice math.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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Wonder Wednesday

July 25, 2018

The Nagano Olympics opening ceremony finale.  A wonder because:

1 – It’s Beethoven’s 9th symphony 4th movement ‘Ode to Joy’.  That alone would render it wondrous.

2 – But it’s also being performed live from six locations across five continents.  The technical wizardry to pull this off was quite the feat, taking the orchestra and main choral from Japan and beaming it to the other five continents then taking the return stream, leading to six different feeds that, thanks to transmission delays, are all totally out of sync with each other, so that they then put it all back together and properly in time (constantly adjusting to prevent drift) and then piping it into the stadium.

3 – But the real piece de resistance is what’s happening within the stadium.  Not the dancers, but in the audience.  Because look at the crowd.  Standing.  And signing along.  In German.  That’s a love of music right there, and 100% perfect for the spirit of something like the Olympics.

Wonderful.

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 24, 2018

Lately I’ve been thinking about the notion of the “path of least resistance” and how it applies to the ontological and philosophical realms.

There’s a lot there.

The path of least resistance is the one that takes the least effort; in physics, objects or particles or waves will naturally seek out and thus flow in that direction.  It doesn’t require choice or impetus or even an impulse or starting energy.  Quite the contrary, create that path, and it takes energy to stop that flow.*

And so, when we look at our (individually and, more importantly/profoundly, as a group) actions, it gives us another lens through which to examine and discover insights.

Especially when we need to come at it “backwards”, that is, looking at the results, looking at what’s so, and tracing backwards to see the pathways that led us/them/it/things there.

Because on the individual level, sometimes we can easily get caught up in trying to find some personal localized issue or barrier/fault, one that can easily short-circuit into self-upset, recrimination and frustration.

Because on the group level, sometimes we can all to easily get caught up in pinning some personal, localized, issue or fault that almost certainly will short-circuit into blame, righteous mockery, and feelings of haughty separation.  (All non-productive.)

When really, it isn’t so localized, and it isn’t so personal.  Even when it’s just us.

It’s all about systems.

What’s the system, what’s the story, what’s the context, what’s the personal/societal view that’s at play here?  What’s the system (almost literally) pulling for?

If we see a behaviour out in our world that we find odd, or harmful, and yet seems predominant, what is the system that is at play?

If we find ourselves not completing something, or moreover, not acting in the way we want to, what’s the system at play?

If the outcome always seems to end up the same, what is, or are, the system(s) at play?

If things are not going the way we’d like them to, what are the systems at play?

We can almost count on our collective laziness to point the way, both to the outcome, but also, in sleuth mode, back to the system itself.

On a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, we can watch out for where our calculating self automatically chooses that least resistance path.  We can be mindful of the choices that lay ahead of us, and choose, even though it may be more difficult, or take longer, or be more uncomfortable, but still choose those paths and actions that will fill our soul with fulfillment and satisfaction and be a true self-expression of our central self and who we want to be.

On a greater level, we can see those easy paths as they are baked into the systems we breathe every day, and begin to have the conversations and take the actions that shift the channel, adding resistance (which sometimes can even be simply by spending the energy to disrupt that easy path through speaking up or questioning or aiding another or voting or learning more or…) to the usual and pushing the flow until the new path is dug deeper and in turn opens up as the new, easy, path of least resistance.

Which is the really great thing about this.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with the path of least resistance; quite the contrary, it can be our ally, in the same way we’ve harnessed it for computer chips and our other innovative gadgets.

Once we’ve consciously laid down the productive path of least resistance, then we get to laugh uproariously for it becomes downright easy (and still automatic) to ply those productive ways, flowing effortlessly and towards living life as we truly want to.

 

* Natch, I’m likely glossing over a thousand nuances and specificities when it comes to this description and there are likely dozens of exceptions, but I think it still holds true enough here, and those exceptions also likewise likely apply in the ontological realm as well…

 

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Architecture Monday

July 23, 2018

Everything is an opportunity.  I am forever in love with that notion, that everything is an opportunity for design.  Take the needs, survey what’s there, and play around a bunch!  In the end, you might end up with something very beautiful.

Which leads us tonight to this barn on a farm in Chile.  Splitting apart like a zipper, it encompasses all manners of workhorse functions: toolhouse, machinery shed, dining room for farm hands, and a stable for all those horses.  And the playing is plenty evident, beginning with an expressive wood structure that provides shelter as well as forming a sculptural envelope that’s a joy to be in.  The water trough doubles as a lovely reflecting pool and demarks the edge of the site.  And that unzippering not only allows for the necessary circulation, but also frames views of the surrounding fields and mountain sides.  It’s all there, working together; the utilitarian backed up by solid structure that itself leads the eye towards beauty both near and beyond.

I love it.  A building that takes its very rugged requirements and fulfills them in a way that honours the land, honours its workers, and honours the soul of us all. Good stuff.  El Galeno Horse Stables and Warehouse by Peñafiel & Valdivieso Arquitectos.

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Wonder Wednesday

July 18, 2018

Leap!

Artwork by the amazing Loika