28 September 2010

Visualizing the City

Some highlights, pre-social networking site placement (that ubiquitous platform for all knowledge...):

  My '08-ers are all grown up!  (And I can still do self-takes.)

Favorite funny couple responded well to my prompt to look happy ... and made me laugh, haha.

IV-ers and friends reunite from across the country for Christine + Jonathan's happy day.

The Talaminis get a raucous send off outside of the romantic Wien Hall.  (Oh, Columbia...)

A lovely fern on my Stumptown macchiato and buttery croissant bid me a NYC farewell.

26 September 2010

NYC-style remembrances

 NYC love remains, even to the end.
More photos to come, once I download them to my computer.

Every time I visit NYC, I remember just how much I miss the City.  Of course, I'm happy to be in Boston and know for certain that it's the place where I'm meant to be right now, but excursions down the coast are always like mini homecomings of sorts.  This time around, the reminders came in various forms:
  • The end is the beginning
    Celebrating Christine and Jonathan's wedding together with old friends made for a splendid reason for being in the City even for one short day.  They were one of those couples who seem like they've been together forever (well since college, which almost seems like ages ago...), and witnessing their happy day was an end to their wait but also the beginning of a new adventure, probably one that will feature pandas and piano serenades in addition to their faith in God.

    As an aside, I like how the pastor shared using Colossians 3:12-14 rather than 1 Corinthians 13: maybe it's bad to suggest that weddings are cliche, but the latter is so typically quoted that it was refreshing to meditate on a different part of scripture in relation to marriage.
    (In self defense, 1 C. 13 is still very poignant and true, but it's also not a monopoly.)
  • Old faces never age
    ... literally and figuratively.  My friends - even the non-Asian ones - somehow have the Peter Pan gene and look the same.  Their ridiculous dance moves are also the same...  but it was awesome to have a reunion with people I haven't seen for a while.  Some of the news revealed was surprising ("What, you're engaged?!"), while other conversations were more of a confirmation of news procured in other ways ("Are you J's fiance?  I saw your picture on Facebook, and no I'm not a stalker." - I confess this was me...)  Chilling out on a rooftop after the wedding festivities, challenging our brains at Contact and Categories (thanks to Steph's expansive pool of group games), and squashing roaches with paper bag-encased feet made for a great end to the night.
  • The vault lives on
    Although I didn't have time to make my way over to the Cooper Hewitt, the vault installation (Vault201) still lives in the 2nd floor exhibition space and will be there until January!  Check out freelancer Logan Ward's article in the Smithsonian Magazine for more.  Our names aren't in the article, but you'll find them on the wall placard in the museum.
  • Driving in the City is a video game
    ...especially after years of not driving in Manhattan.  Nothing like weaving taxi drivers and nonexistent lane lines to wake you up at midnight.
  • It's delicious
    A late night grilled cheese from HamDel (or Hammie's - take your pick of monikers).  A macchiato, croissant, and pretzel sandwich from Stumptown.  Boston, I'm determined to find simple ways in which you can compete.

... but back to the realities of Boston, school, and new life developments.  More updates soon.

13 September 2010

Hong Kong revisited

I left Hong Kong on August 6th, and realized I will be returning there - if only virtually - this semester through the [HALT] studio (Highly Accelerated Life Test), with critics Shih-Fu Peng and Roisin Heneghan of henegan.peng architects.  They were interviewed recently in Fast Company magazine regarding their winning of the Grand Museum of Egypt project.  I found it amusing (and a bit touching) to hear that the secret behind their collaboration is marriage, which is what happens with many partners of architecture firms, either before they form their companies or afterwards.  Divorce also happens, but I suppose a shared passion can be a great bond for creative work.

(Thanks to Otto for sharing the video with me and making me remember my hyperactive city of the summer.)

11 September 2010

"No, this is not a PhD..."

There are 2 phrases I've had to repeat an innumerable number of times since being back in Cambridge:

"No, I'm not a freshman but a graduate student - your Graduate Resident Tutor."

"No, this is not a PhD..."

Oh, the realities of the 3.5 year MArch reality.  Things are not what they seem!  I had confirmation for the second phrase, from my dear friend and former suitemate Vidya, who in astonishment after hearing I still had a year and a half exclaimed:

oh jeez
this is seriously the longest masters program ever
you guys deserve a PhD

(P.S. I apologize for quoting you without asking for permission, but hey - this Gchat conversation was technically on the record.)

I actually did consider those last three words, the idea of "deserving" a PhD.  What actually goes into a doctorate as opposed to a masters?  What this hilarious blog post shared by a couple friends (thanks to Marcus and Clarence) suggests is that it's about specialization, diving deeply into an area and gaining specific expertise through research.  This simplified definition would then not actually apply to what I'm doing now.  Sure, I'm around for a length of time that seems like a short PhD, but considering the number of requirements that fills the MArch trajectory, I'm only now finding breathing room to begin asking the question, what is it that I'm really interested in investigating?  And now with a year and a half, with only the last semester fully devoted to thesis, it's hard to imagine being able to explore any topic in depth.

Wrestle wrestle...  Architecture in practice doesn't value PhDs as much as academia, and I'm not sure if I'm necessarily cut out for the long haul of research divorced from working on the ground with real issues.  (This is where I probably have a more engineering than scientist mindset... although I still revolt against the engineer label.)  To be honest, though, I actually do really enjoy research, but only that which resides outside of labs and in people's lives.  (And that which involves travel, haha.)

To stay in academics or to go?  I'm hoping for a sign.

07 September 2010

[HK 40] : Shake shake shake...

This retroactive post is in honor of a certain Miss L, who has a certain penchant for Mr. McD that we make fun of.  She would very much enjoy this HK-based snack (photos of which I found while rummaging through my summer archive), which even made me crave fast food - mmm crispy deliciousness.

1. Look at the bag and savor the flavor party in store.  (Sadly enough, shake shake fries aren't to be found in the States.)

2. Read the instructions.  It's a complicated process.

3. Defy the instructions.  Based on insider information (aka Liana), it's best to add the seasoning first.  Seaweed was definitely my favorite.

4. After pouring in the seasoning, dump freshly made fries into bag.

5. (not pictured for obvious reasons) Shake...shake...shake!

6. Take a look to make sure the seasoning has been distributed evenly across all well-greased surfaces.

7. Enjoy.

- - -

I had wanted to use similar graphics like in step #2 for the shaved ice socials, but didn't have enough time to do so.  Perhaps by Thursday...

06 September 2010

3 years and counting

3 years sounds like a long time to spend with one person, but it boggled my mind recently to realize that my brother and sister in law recently celebrated their 3rd year wedding anniversary.  So short and yet so long - now, which one is it?

No, they don't have 2 kids: that's Jenny's niece.  All photos snagged from their blog.

In that time, they ...
... moved to England and back, finished the Operation World manuscript, acted in pageants for an all-girls grammar school as one of the few young male teachers, become part of a thriving church community, met our "long lost" cousins in England, devotedly kept up a blog of their adventures, started to spell words in the British manner but not speak in the English way, had Isaac (my nephew), entertained a slew of visiting family and friends (including the Lo fam), visited the States with a barely-3 month old baby in tow, and now are starting another life journey in the Midwest and PhD land... among too many other things to name.

 And we went to the zoo, where Isaac exercised his grip of iron on his dad's hair.
I also became a fob for the day.

What else happens in 3 years?

In the measure of my own life, I ...
... finished my first job at an architecture firm, completed 2 years of grad school, pulled the most all nighters in my life, built a couple brick vaults, jetsetted abroad for work/study (and play) purposes (England, El Salvador, Spain, Japan, China, Thailand), was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, celebrated countless weddings/engagements/babies of friends and family, became part of a thriving grad Christian fellowship, started playing the flute again, honed my "bless you" reputation...  among others.

Is it useful to list such accomplishments?  If to boast, perhaps not, although as a reflection and a reminder to be thankful, likely so.  It also reminds me of how blessed I've been by what God's done in my brother and Jenny's lives.

One thing I've learned from their marriage is the fact that you're not simply becoming the wife/husband for another person, but you're also going to be the sister/brother to that person's siblings, daughter/son to their parents, a friend to their friends, etc.  Scary thought, eh?  (Good thing I like meeting new people...phew.)  I think I've mentioned this before, but I say again that it's been great having the gift of an older sister after my bro married Jenny, and I just hope that I can be as good of a sister to future Mr.'s siblings as well... if/when that becomes a relevant statement.

Until then, my next foreseeable milestone is graduation in a deceptively long but actually short 1.5 years.  What will happen in that time, I'm not sure, but at least there's a sense of great expectancy for both myself and God's work at MIT.

05 September 2010

The ladies of the "house"

I'm already having slightly dismal thoughts about my ability to upkeep this blog during the semester, but let's not disappoint ahead of ourselves.  The last 2 weeks of being back at school have been filled with multiple responsibilities that come with being a graduate resident tutor for undergrad ladies, one of them being the making of door tags :

I must say that I'm quite proud of them, although they did take quite a bit more time than I had anticipated to make.  (If only I had taken advantage of someone's laser cutter privileges, these 49 tags would have zipped by...alas.)  To be honest, though, it gave me quite a bit of joy to hand cut and glue these babies - as a gesture of love and care for my residents, even though I haven't met them or have only known them for a short amount of time.  (I mean this in the most honest and non-sentimental way possible.)

To use pre-existing materials and not have to print anything or buy extra supplies, I had rummaged through my architectural supplies and ended up cutting up some pieces of old museum board and gluing on strips of color/texture, which were sliced from old magazine ads and photos.  (If you look closely, you'll be able to tell.)  Then I wrote their names in charcoal, although didn't remember to buy any spray fix, so they can still smudge if touched.

The girls were sweet, with some of them leaving me messages on my whiteboard or coming by to convey their appreciation.  One of them, who doesn't even live on my floor, asked if she could have one as well.  Ah, the ultimate complement :]  I realized it's small labors like these that make a difference, little steps towards creating a sense of home.

Next task: brainstorming a good first meeting sweet delight.