Archive for August, 2018

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Wonder Wednesday

August 29, 2018

Ah!  Check these out, a fun exercise by this artist to create spaceship designs from objects lying around…

What a fun idea, and a great way to get some practice.  And some fine looking ship designs to boot!

Art by Eric Geusz (lots more nifty to see at his portfolio)

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 28, 2018

One of the activities the Black Rock Kwoon often hosted was a push hands* meetup organized by the Dread Pirate Lee.  It was a great time to meet fellow practitioners and to get to push against a wide variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds, lineages, and experience levels.

One year, mid-way through, I began to develop a sense of something.  Taking it on as an inquiry for the rest of the meetup, I began to formulate a principle/theory I quickly coined as the Tai Chi Push Hands Skill Differential Exponential Experience Factor (or TCPHSDEEF for short**):

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 1 level of skill, to me it will feel like you have 1 level of skill.

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 1.1 level of skill, to me it will feel like you have 1.25 level of skill.

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 1.5 level of skill, to me it will feel like you have 3 level of skill.

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 3 level of skill, to me it will feel like you are a god.

As the skill differential grows, the one with the greater skill gains the multi-whammy ability to be more relaxed, have less openings, sense the other’s movements and openings with greater clarity, and has the techniques to be able to engage those openings, AND those techniques will have greater subtlety, compounding the lesser sensitivity on the other side to respond before flump!  You’re off balance.

The upshot of it was this: when I pushed against those at higher skill levels than me, it almost always felt like I was light years behind (both physically in the movements/responses but also metaphorically), being tossed this way and that.  On the other side of the skill coin, however, it mattered little what my partner would send my way, even if I was unfamiliar with the technique.  I could remain centered and able to redirect with seeming ease.  I felt very much in control.

While the idea of the compounding nature of skill, and the abilities that it grants us, was important enough, it was the experience, the feeling, that came with that really struck me (and stuck with me).

Especially as this, as they so often do, ranges far beyond just implications for the martial arts.

No matter what skill we may aim to develop, whether it be tennis or skiing, drawing or cooking, working or playing, listening, giving, caring, or even in the realm of profound skills such as being peaceful, generous, passionate, expressed, loving… for any of those skills it means that the high level of ability is actually closer than we might think.

For one, that compounding nature works in our favour.  But more importantly, it further means that things that may seem out of reach are not really that out of reach.  We need not accuse ourselves of lacking talent, or fall into “I can never…”, or relegate ourselves to the dustbins along the margins.

It is nigh-well inevitable that we compare ourselves with others and their skill level(s), but any vast gulf that seems to scream at us that we (still) suck is illusionary and, in actuality, an overly dramatic scream.

We may see someone, interact with someone, be with someone, and come away with the feeling that they so own that skill that it must be ingrained, and I must have an equally ingrained difficulty with it.  And yet that feeling is just the Skill Differential Exponential Experience Factor (SDEEF for short…?) at play.

Thus, we can let that feeling be the feeling, and continue to play.  For that is what great push hands is, play.  You play, you teach, you learn, and ultimately grow, enjoying the moment now and enjoying the fruits and fulfillment that comes with the ever-deepening skill.

 

* Push Hands is a practice from Tai Chi to develop the basic concepts of sensitivity, following, emptying, redirecting, and effortless pushing, beginning with simple drills where one partner pushes while the other receives and empties, followed by a switch in roles, continually back and forth.

** Well, OK, not really for short…

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Architecture Monday

August 27, 2018

Alright, this turned out very cool.  It’s a community sauna (yes, sauna!), designed and built very much from the community.  Sitting atop an existing pier structure in the rapidly changing and former industrial harbor of Gothenburg, the project brought together architects and local volunteers to create something new using as much recycled materials as possible sourced from its industrial surroundings.

Which turned out to be a very cool generator for form (and function).  Ya got what ya got, be it corrugated metal, bits of wood at certain lengths, tonnes of excess bottles, and who knows, those stairs might well have been a cast-off find as well.  With that you play, and play, and play some more, and before you know it, you’ve got something visually engaging and a series of spaces that are perfect for the sauna experience.

Check out the glow from those bottle windows, or the sinuous wood womb that is the sauna proper.  Or even the walkway leading to and from it all, looking like a natural dry riverbed from the odd bits of wood and random bits of stone tiling.

To go to this sauna is a trip, a playful one, that not only engages the community but truly comes from and can be owned by the community.  Perched out on the already interesting structure of the pier, it’s rough and tumble cladding speaks to the old while its sculptural nature enlivens all that is around it.  Best of all, that crazy form permeates to create a sweet experience within.  Good stuff.

The Svettekörka by Raumlabor.

 

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Wonder Wednesday

August 22, 2018

This is truly something remarkable:  art, made from nothing but rice plants.  No dies or trickery here, these are honest to earth productive rice fields that serve as canvases to be transformed each year into giant illustrations.

Even more remarkable, the images are distorted (through anamorphic projection) to be properly viewed from the tops of nearby hills and buildings.

Seen from space!

Awesome stuff.

Here’s a great bonus video:

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 21, 2018

Well how about that.  This post marks the 200th* Philosophy Tuesday post.  In some ways, I am amazed that this is still going strong, and yet at the same time I’m also not so amazed.  As with any practice, the pathway to knowing one’s self leads forever towards the horizon.  I’m still breathing, and so my journey cannot be done.  New lands and new roads remain to be traveled and explored.

Sometimes these posts have been easy to write.  What’s right there for me is right there, and the way to expression is quick.  Boom.  Done.  Post!  Gloriously speedy, especially in the midst of a full life.  Other times… not so much.  The impetus and entry points might be clear, but in writing things down I realize I need to take myself to task.  Take myself, my notions, my defaults, my automatics, all of those and more, take them all on and think, collide, muse, discover, and ultimately (hopefully) grow my understanding and insight.**  It’s not always fun while in the middle of that slog, but it’s always rewarding at the end, presenting new possibilities in and for life.

And to the end that they show up here in this Tuesday tradition, I hope they bring new possibilities in and for your lives as well.

It’s humbling, in so many ways, to look back and see the vast distances journeyed and to recognize the transformations made along the way.  It never seems that there is much distance left to cover and yet, it gets covered.  Felling like I’ve got a good handle on things is a ruse; my world(s) keep opening further and further.  This perspective helps pull apart the (often collapsed) notions of confidence vs conceit, or pride vs arrogance.

Do I “know” a lot?  Yes.  Can I do a lot with that?  Yes.  Effectively?  Heck yes!  Do I really know?  Well, no…  and that’s cool.  Here’s where I am.  Cool.  What’s next?  Cool.  Let’s learn.

Though I no longer preface each post with it, I continue to write from a place and intention of sparking thinking and examining.  I continue to write from the idea that we are all whole and complete and full of unseen capacity, and that we equally, often, have barriers between us and our experience of our wholeness and our capacities.  I continue to live from the stand that we are all, at our core, deeply related and connected in our grand desires.

We are of the same human spirit, and the more we can brush away that which restrains us, the more we can soar.

I thank each and every one of you for reading, for engaging, for commenting, for sharing, and for being willing to take yourself on and for your commitment to seek out new possibilities for yourself and for those around you.  A big virtual hug to you all.

 

* As with the “2 year” marker this is 200 posts give or take, not counting weeks off and weeks with titles other than strictly “Philosophy Tuesday,” nor does it take into account weeks with additional philosophy posts…

** And if I am fortunate, wisdom as well.

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Architecture Monday

August 20, 2018

Let’s fly back to the future tonight.  To 1962.  To a building that looks very much like it’s going to take flight.  One that both ushered in a new era of air travel and has lost no power in its experience so many decades later.

Soaring, sinuous, sensual concrete that soars, emerging from the ground and arcing seamlessly into forms that very much evoke outstretched wings.  This is the greatest magic of the building, these curving forms that never cease and make for an enclosure that blurs the distinction between floor, wall, and ceiling, punctuated by ribbons of skylights that, coupled with the ginormous windows, belie any weighty feel of the concrete it is made of.  Lofty is an apt term, and walking in it pulls you forward, urging exploration and hinting at the adventure to come.

How each form blends into each other is the second magic.  A railing becomes a column column becomes a seat becomes a check in desk becomes a sign.  Natch, there’s something enticing of the classic 60’s décor and aesthetics, but this is a building that transcends simple nostalgia.  The design is expertly handled; all those merging lines and curves could have very easily become a right and confusing mess of visual clutter.

But let’s not totally discount that great furniture and décor.  Purpose built to fit in, the red upholstery contrasts strikingly with the white marble inlays in the concrete.  We’d call it retro-future now, and it’s still great.

Definitively a classic, one of the great designs of the world.  Fortunately, it has avoided the fate of closure and is in the midst of being reinvented as a hotel, due to open next year.  When next I’m in NYC, I’ve got to visit.

The TWA Flight Center/Terminal, by Eero Saarinen.

(Of interesting additional note: this was also the first air terminal to incorporate many of what we’d consider just par for the course these days — jetways, public address system, electric schedule board, even baggage carousels…)

 

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Coaster Thursday

August 16, 2018

New coaster announced for Canada’s Wonderland for 2019… and it’s pretty darn good looking dive coaster:

A few superlatives there, including tallest and fastest dive coaster, but beyond that it’s seems to have a nice swooping layout that includes a gaggle inversions.  I think it’s nifty how the coaster intersects with (the great!) Vortex; that and the water should make for a memorable first drop — well, even more memorable given the 90 degree incline with stare-down time!  Alas, like most of the coasters at Wonderland, it’s a short one.

Looking at the off-ride view, though, are… some of those inversions taller than the mountain?  Egads!  As I noted before, back in the early days (and my younger years) that mountain seemed TOWERING, it still feels so strange to me to have it now being lorded over by several of the coasters.

Overall this is looking like a good add.  It’s still been years since I’ve visited the park, so this is another good push for me to try and get out there again!