23 October 2009

100th post: MIT makes Obama smile

Obama holds up a periodic table: he's surely at MIT!

It seems fitting that my 100th blog post features the President of the United States. He came to visit MIT - deemed "the most prestigious university in this part of Cambridge, MA" (after correcting himself) - to promote clean energy research and talk a bit about his vision for becoming energy independent. Although the speech itself was by invitation only, the Institute broadcasted it all over campus in various locations and also made it available online. (Thank you, technology!)

The speech itself was on the shorter side and somewhat general - to the disappointment of some students - but it seemed more like a strategic motivational speech a la Kennedy and the Space Race rather than a hash-out of particular policies. Obama actually did make several analogies between the Space Race, the pioneering age, and today what he deems the "peaceful competition" for clean energy solutions - all evoking that spirit of discovery that he wanted to distill in his listeners.

I do wish that he had been a bit more specific about the initiatives he and Congress have been putting through for research and clean energy support. Some of what he talked about was reminiescent of some things I worked on this past summer, like the Cap and Trade Bill (exciting that policy I gave feedback on is now in writing!). Most of it was pretty vague, so I'm hoping to get more details about how exactly this framework will boost the economy and result in positive steps against climate change and what particular industries can do.

One random observation: he actually referred to the ARRA (aka Recovery Act) as "the Stimulus" - not that I've really been following his rhetoric throughout his presidency, but I just found it interesting, since at this summer's LISC conference on affordable housing, the HUD representative was careful to emphasize that we shouldn't be referring to it as the Stimulus.

But anyways, we'll see how Mr. President chooses to act on his words, but in the meantime, at least we know that MIT can make him smile with a simple periodic table.

Remember for whom you work

"REMEMBER FOR WHOM YOU WORK: Whether you work for a private company, the government, a large corporation, or yourself, the true disciple understands that he or she ultimately is working for God in that place. “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24). "

- Norman Shawchuck
A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God*

True that. Yesterday Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision, came to speak at the Harvard Kennedy School about the changes that need to be made in the American Christian mentality to really be fulfilling our calling in the world. It was quite thought-provoking and insightful, with a good balance of his personal story of how he came to know God and the convicting facts about the issue of poverty and how we can act on that.

Apparently Christians give 2% of 2% of their incomes to world missions and other global issues. That's 6 cents per day, per person. And we wonder why change happens so slowly. I guess it's not just about money, though, but about the heart. As he said it aptly, "You are God's Plan A, and He doesn't have a Plan B" when it comes to changing the world.

Sometimes I'm skeptical of "change the world" speeches, since often they seem to be loaded rhetoric without sharing the means to actually take action. But here, I can see how the choices we make in our career and calling (hopefully the two are tied together) can lead us to be more or less useful in the Kingdom.

As I go into this next week of crazy work...my mind ponders.

* from this morning's Upper Room Daily Reflections newsletter

18 October 2009

birthday but not yet birth date

I stole this photo from my brother and sister (in law)'s blog because it's just too cute. It was Jenny's birthday yesterday and the soon-to-be born nephew's due date was the day before, so now there's a lot of anticipation in the air. When will he arrive? Who will he look like? How chubby will his cheeks be?

But in the meantime while we wait (and why are boy babies always late?), I just showcase the happy parents-to-be, whom I love and miss very much. One of my friends thought I was crazy NOT to be over in London right now to see my nephew being born, and actually that was a sad reminder that my siblings are pretty far away and that I wouldn't be able to witness this momentous occasion for the Lo's. Then again, I guess I'll have to learn to package up love and send it overseas.

Anyways, happy birthday Jenny! I think back in my brother's bachelor years and how I really wondered what sort of woman he'd end up with. And...well, now they've celebrated their 2 year anniversary and will soon be welcoming their first child into the world. I've told this to many people, but I've always thought that an older brother is one of the best siblings to have, and now the family's become even more complete when I got an older sister :] Hopefully I'll end up being as good of a sister to whoever's siblings or family I end up eventually getting introduced to.

13 October 2009

the joy of retreating (long version)

the outdoor chapel . fall's rich foliage

Last weekend's Boston grad retreat to Toah Nipi in Rindge, New Hampshire, gave me great joy. Although I had been somewhat stressed about taking days off from school so close to a deadline, thankfully my review was pushed back to this Friday, and I had peace knowing it was the right thing to do.

I had some people ask me what you do on a retreat. Essentially, it's a time away from daily life - very often out in a somewhat remote and natural setting - to get refocused on God and spend quality time with other people, mostly Christian although it's not really required that you be one to go. (But of course...meeting God is sort of the point, so there's no deception there :P )

Anyways, the week leading up to the retreat I had this great anticipation of things great to come. I had no idea what I was expected - and even now, there are some things unknown - but I was excited for whatever God had in store. We looked at the book of Jonah, which was short enough (4 chapters) yet chock full enough of insights and information to make it an indepth study. Skits made it come alive (I proudly acted as cargo being thrown out of the ship in v. 1:5 haha), and in all we had a lively discussion about its lessons.

It was also the worship band's public "debut":

(Thanks to Linda, our photographer!)

which was Source of Specific Joy #1. A friend who saw this photo on Facebook told me, "I didn't know you were in a band!" Well...I guess I am! Although this isn't really the type to give "concerts" per se (although we welcome your commissions ha)... We started playing back at the beginning of the summer, after finding a need for a worship band at GCF. We've truly come a long way since our beginning sessions (when salvation seemed to be long off... inside joke), but Saturday's praise session and then Sunday morning's went so well that we were incredibly thankful - hence, being full of joy. I've realized more and more how much joy the band gives me - leading worship, hearing ~180 voices become one voice, listening to each other play and being united as a band, etc. These are great - and often ridiculously silly - brothers and sisters to be with :]

Source of Joy #2 (of many):

Not just falling leaves, but being among the trees and witnessing how beautiful a New England autumn can be. I was deprived of hiking this past summer, so it was nice to get up early on Sunday morning and just walk around by myself. There's something just so peaceful about being in nature with enough fresh air to clean your lungs and silence around save for the wind in the leaves. (It also makes me somewhat poetic - nice byproduct.)

It was also cool meeting people from other schools and bumping into some old faces I hadn't expected to see there. Good times overall, and I'm hoping the lessons learned will stay with me through the stress of the semester. I still have to sort out some things, though - that sense of anticipation hasn't really left me, so I wonder what's left to come... I guess I'll find out soon enough?

10 October 2009

How big is home sweet home?

I've been interested in small architecture for a while now, but never came across this example before. This is a 96 SF house designed and built by Jay Shafer in Sebastopol, CA, when he was fed up with the excessive space of his then-apartment. He's able to cart it around via flatbed truck and bring it to idyllic places like the middle of this orchard.

There's something satisfyingly simple about this house. I came across it when actually researching the smallest buildable footprint (for a studio project), and this extreme living by being essentialist intrigues me. Would I be able to design it? Or live in it? My current dorm room is more than double the footprint of that place. Now it seems...gargantuan.

One disadvantage? He says he can't have big parties.

09 October 2009

is it really fall?

So I'm leaving for the Fall Boston Grad Retreat tomorrow morning, and it was suggested that I check out the weather report for Rindge, New Hampshire. Good thing I did! It's going to be BELOW freezing tomorrow night. ??? It's barely mid-October! This is New England for you...

I've heard that cold nights are good for fall foliage. At least that's a plus. And maybe there will be hot chocolate.

In any rate, I'm looking forward to getting away from the city for a bit and refocusing, among a seemingly-record number of participants this time around. We'll see what God does in this short day and a half.

07 October 2009

Future Craft : Dissecting the time ticker

For our next Future Craft assignment, we had to dissect a product (either physically or virtually) and then make a source map of the materials used to make it. The ideas is that, through the method of mapping, we'll gain an increased awareness of the footprint carried by things as they move from factory to household. I chose to dissect an old clock radio that's been in my house forever, but just recently started to cough and sputter. See the map's details below. For more detailed information about the process, click the photo above.

This project made me consider how things are actually made and where they come from...so in that sense, I suppose it was a successful one. Awareness is the first step in action, although with complex supply chains already in place, it's hard to see how one might reform them or make products that are truly "local" if you need something only manufactured or found in, say, Russia.

04 October 2009

what's your signature?

I recently changed my profile picture to the above photo of shoes. These aren't just any shoes, but my red Saucony's that I happened to get in Center City (Philly) for $12 on a fortunate spur-of-the-moment lunch shopping stint with Ruth, one of my fun-loving coworkers at RMJM. (Sorry - very long descriptor.) I really like them and would even say that I "heart" them. Their predecessors were also a pair of Saucony's of the same style, but blue. Those met their demise on the shores of Assateague Island, after being worn out, soaked, and caked with mosquito-infested mud post-camping.

Moment of silence.

Although I don't often get attached to physical things like this, it makes me wondering if everyone has a "signature" item that would be instantly recognizable by anyone remotely associated with that person. For instance, my friend Reem's would be bright green - simply the color applied to any piece of clothing. (This color also infiltrates her studio presentation boards as being "so Reem.") On another scale of fame, even Le Corbusier (architect) had round spectacles that were consistently part of his persona and now would even be said to be Yung Ho's signature as well (our department's chair).

What would your signature item be? And if all our "signatures" were put on display somewhere, would someone identify it as yours?

03 October 2009

Architecture : permanent or fleeting?

APPARATI EFFIMERI Tetragram for Enlargment from Apparati Effimeri on Vimeo.

In response to my ideas about pixelation and gradual fragmentation for the next part of my studio project (to explain that more fully at a later time), my TA pointed me to this amazing video by Apparati Effimeri of a full-scale facade projection on an ancient castle.

I've never seen anything by this Italian interactive media firm before, but this one video left me wowed: these surreal and intricate effects were accomplished with just light and shadow (and crazy 3-dimensional digital skills as well). Not only does this project broach questions like, "how did these people do this?", but also questions about the permanence of buildings and the nature of effect and atmospherics. If you ever wondered what it would be like to deconstruct a seemingly-solid edifice...well, this is the place to see it.

In my opinion, architecture nowadays seems to be built more for the next 50 years rather than the next 100-500+ years. How has our scope of time diminished so drastically? Part of me feels that, in our more consumeristic culture, we're beginning to prefer transience and change over longevity as a matter of taste rather than any other staying power. However, the buildings and structures that society seems to constantly stand in awe of are works of antiquity: the Parthenon, the Pantheon, the Great Wall, etc. Reconciling the two is a matter of cultural preservation and economics, but also of defining what we value as a collective. The masses speak, whether modernist architects like it or not.

01 October 2009

DIY trifle revamped

how to make a fast and friendly fresh fruit trifle - More DIY How To Projects

I had already posted about this recipe before, but I decided to revive it and make it into an Instructable for my Future Craft class. Check out the cool illustrations above - thanks, Photoshop! See the rest of the story at my Crafting the Future blog.

HOME : planet earth, with a human spin

Sung sent me a link to this documentary called "Home," which reminds me very much of the awesome Planet Earth, except its aim is not simply to show the stunning natural beauty of our planet, but to talk about the human impact on the Earth and the urgencies of climate change - a popular topic, but tackled in a slightly different way. The wide angle and high-res filming make it hard to stop watching (hence...the timing of this post).

Now I'm in the mood to watch Planet Earth - anybody have it?