26 October 2010

Dwelling in song and rest

This song, especially the very simple piano intro / interlude and simple lyrics, speaks to a bit of how I've been feeling lately.

(Thanks to one of those mass emails sent to our fellowship email list ... good thing I didn't delete it, or else I wouldn't have discovered Audrey Assad.)

2011 FAST Odyssey

For the FAST class, a group of us made a stop motion animation describing a potential installation we would design and make on the three intake stacks next to Building 18.  They're normally somewhat invisible within the MIT campus, so we decided to design the installation around the idea of calling attention to this industrial infrastructure by making them into mini stages for showcases using air, light, and sound to create space above.  Kelly, myself, and Yushiro each drew part of the animation, while Travis put it all together in Photoshop :

Left : visualization of sound (hitting a drum head corresponds to a puff of smoke in one direction or the other)

Center : play of light and shadow (fog becomes a curtain on which an image can be projected, with people able to play and cast shadows both while outside and inside the circle)

Right : visible air movement (jumping on the vents causes the fog machine to rise and fall, creating a denser atmosphere when closer to the ground or a more translucent one when higher up)

We've been brainstorming various installation ideas, so we'll see what ends up being built for next year's MIT 150.

23 October 2010

Tying together the three strands

Seeing your best friend get married is somehow a more vocal reminder that we're - well - adults now.  For real.  It's not as if I haven't had close friends get married (and indeed, there have been MANY wedding bells since right after college graduation...goodness - in a good way), but somehow it was different this time around.  Jeanette (aka Confetti, or the Chinese lass) and Steve (aka the Hampshire country boy) tied the knot of three strands last weekend, among the gorgeous fall foliage of New England.  It was a delightful day and a half spent helping to prep for the big day, and then witnessing (with the other silly bridesmaids) the joining of two lives into one beautiful union under God.

Now it's time for some photo moments, where my words don't do justice :

Sunrise on the big day!  The bridemaids woke up around 6:30 (or was it 7?), but the dutiful bride woke up at 5:45 sharp and then apologized for making so much noise with the hair dryer... to which we responded, "Um, you're getting married today!  Don't apologize!"

On the way!  This was my first time riding in a stretch SUV, and I must say it was cozy - cozy enough to cozy up to the bride :D

The lovely bouquets made by loving hands.

 Oh, how glad I am that Jeanette married a guy who is equally silly and ridiculous.  At least I don't have to worry that she'll lose her sense of humor - on the contrary, they will likely get sillier as time goes on, and I look forward to that!

No, this photo is not staged.  Yes, Steve looks scary.  No, we are not some sort of mafia family.

Dance party!  Maybe this is what I look like from the vantage point of the tall one.  That puts things into perspective.

Whizzing back to the city...  Oh, the delights of autumn - how quickly they pass, how lovely still.

I had the great honor of delivering the toast for the bride.  Although I had started thinking about it a couple weeks earlier, I hadn't actually written anything down until the day before.  My scrawled notes just didn't seem to do justice to this responsibility, so I resorted to parking myself in the hotel business center and not getting up until I had something adequate to say to someone I've known for 22 years ... and something that I (and Jnet) wouldn't feel embarrassed about when memories of it would be recounted to us for years to come.  After several rewrites, I finally came up with something that somehow began to express elements of our friendship-turned-sisterhood.  There was a point when Jeanette came over during my writing frenzy, and I had to quickly scroll to a blank spot in my Word Doc and look at her with innocent eyes.  Of course she wasn't deceived, but at least I managed to keep this a surprise until the moment of delivery.

I'm not going to recount all of it here, although I will share the end part of the toast, which involved getting half the guests to sing along with me to a doctored version (pun...intended) of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?".  These are the lyrics I printed out and demonstrated for the guests to get them on board with my ridiculous idea :

So… can’t we all feel the love this afternoon?
Can’t we?
- - -
NOTE: SING when you see italics
- - -
We could see what was happening.
And they somehow had a clue!
Jeanette and Steve fell in love, and here’s the bottom line – our group is down by two.
The sweet caress of lab lights… there was magic (not malaria) everywhere!  And with all this romantic atmosphere…  a wedding’s in the aaaaaaairrrrr…
Can you feel the love today?
The peace the noon sun brings
Penacook, for once, in perfect harmony
With all its living things.
Can you feel the love today?
You needn't look too far
A Chinese lass, her Hampshire country boy,
Love is where they are…

[ toast ]

Somehow, the whole celebration would not have been complete nor authentically Jeanette (and Steve) unless a Disney song were sung in public.  (This is just my own thinking, so anyone is allowed to contend with it.)

In light of all of this, it's heartwarming to be reminded of how God has perfectly crafted the marriage relationship (and ministry) from imperfect people (whom He is making perfect).  And with that thought, I bid thee good night, and also hope that J+S are thoroughly enjoying their honeymoon and escape from reality (and internet access... fingers crossed).

20 October 2010

A place to rest one's head -

- only.

When looking up examples of capsule hotels, which is a Japanese idiosyncrasy and result of ultra optimization of space, I came across this one called Nine Hours - named for the time it takes for you to sleep and get ready.  Although it looks more like a wall of ovens (or worse, a wall of graves) rather than a wall of beds, what caught my eye was actually the list of rules on their website, which are as follows:

9h may refuse the conclusion of the contract in any of the following cases.
  • When 9h is fully booked and no sleeping pods are available.
  • When 9h is unable to provide accommodation due to natural calamities,
    malfunction of the facilities or other unavoidable causes.
  • Services beyond those provided are requested.
  • When the Guest seeking accommodation is deemed liable to act in violation of public morals,
    or conduct their selves in a disorderly manner.
  • When it is obviously acknowledged that the Guest is an infectious case.
  • When the Guest is heavily-intoxicated. This applies even after Check-in.
  • When the Guest speaks or acts in a manner that is deemed an annoyance to other guests.
  • When the Guest seeking accommodation is a member of, or involved with, gang organizations,
    crime syndicates or any antisocial groups.
  • When the Guest speaks or acts in a manner that is deemed an annoyance to other guests.
  • If 9h terminates the contract when the circumstances come under any of the above mentioned articles,
    9h will not charge the Guest for any of the services in future during the contractual period which he/she has not received.
Hilarious.... and somewhat disturbing at the same time.  The website says explicitly that the floors and elevators are separated by gender as well.  This makes me wonder what type of person uses these sorts of hotels - not simply business people on the go?  Does the architecture encourage the kinds of behavior of the guests, or the other way around?  Does morality fit into the picture?

In any rate, I don't think this is exactly what Kisho Kurokawa, architect of the Nakagin Capsule Tower, had intended when he built the first of capsule hotels in the 1970s, more under the premise of accommodating change and recyclability within architecture as part of the Metabolist movement.

    13 October 2010

    Faith among fall foliage

    Once upon a time last year, we debuted the GCF worship band :

     After a year and a circuitous path taken ...

    ... and perhaps another circuitous route taken this year as well ...

    ... the worship band shuffled around, gained some new faces and retired other ones, developed diversity across schools, and adopted version 2 in this year's grad retreat back at Toah Nipi :

    Lesson?  Great is God's faithfulness!  I will snatch a verse shared by one of the other band members, that encapsulates the joint effort well:
    For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
    1 Corinthians 12:12

    11 of us, (literally and figuratively) under the leadership of the man friend, were enabled by a common Spirit to find time and practice together, harmonize and blend, listen for each other's melodious (and occasionally discordant) sounds, rehearse 3 worship sets, and even simply get along as brothers and sisters.  I was personally thankful for the opportunity to experience God's joy through worship with such gifted musicians, and amazed at the limitless grace given even when our practice time was short or when logistics didn't coast out as planned.  It was also humbling to have to surrender: surrender my role as worship leader to those equally or likely more competent, surrender the need to be needed, surrender perfection...  among other things.

    But in return, the gifts given far outweighed and surpassed any prior expectations.  :]

    Outside of worship, the retreat was satisfying - not physically restful, but a good time spent gaining insights into the woman at the well, canoeing on the cool water while singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs, hiking in literal loops and circles to Massachusetts and back (and getting minimally whipped in the face with stray branches), laughing hysterically at absurdities during a rowdy game of Psychiatrist, and eating delicious foods made by willing hands ...

    ... which are are among my favorite things :
    good fellowship, good food, good praise+worship, all in the great outdoors of Creation (with ample crunchy leaves underfoot!).

    11 October 2010

    Guastavino as a first word

    St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University houses an example of Guastavino's work

    I thought that getting tenure meant that professors get to take a breather, but not my structures professor, John O.  Instead, he's been teaching his kids to say "Guastavino" almost before they could say "dada," and now has published a book on the thin brick vault master who inspired some of our own vaults.  Although I'm not sure how much brick laying I'll be doing in the near future, it's still cool to read a feature about his own research outside of teaching and how it has influenced my own education.

    It also makes me ask myself a question I've begun to ponder in the last few months: what is it that will be my own research focus (or, dare I say research obsession)?  In some ways, the MArch degree doesn't really prepare you to give a good answer until our very last year (or half year) of thesis, although research through design methods is hopefully what we'll leave with - or at least, what I'm determined to leave with.

    07 October 2010

    Story time

    On reading aloud :

    This, or something like it, is what happens when you get caught up in a book. You hear it in your head, and it takes over your waking existence a little, so you can’t wait to be done with whatever you’re doing and immerse yourself in the pages again. ...

    Listening is how we begin our acquaintance with books, as our parents read them to us, and listening may be how we phase out of books as well; it’s easier, hypnotic almost, and allows you to do something else at the same time: drive, jog or attend to your e-mail. ...

    Our reading and listening imaginations do much the same thing. Reading in bed, riding the subway with the iPod plugged in, driving the car and feeding CDs into the dashboard slot, we’re not transported from this life to another, exactly, but to a sort of halfway realm. We’re partly in East Egg, or wherever, and partly still in that cluttered mental office, where the phone rings — literally sometimes. We look out the window and see, oops, that we’ve just missed our subway stop or, worse, that a state trooper has just pulled alongside and he has his lights flashing.

    from Charles McGrath's NYTimes review of "Gatz," based on The Great Gatsby

    It's been a long time since someone has read a novel aloud to me, although it's a commonplace activity when it comes to church or Bible study and we read collectively read Scripture.  Somehow it's different, though, to have actual "story time."  Jim Dale, who narrates all of the Harry Potter books, is a superb example of a great reader, voices and all.  There's part nostalgia mixed in with theatrics and immersion - and yes, even some laziness of the brain, as McGrath mentions in his article.

    Someone reading aloud does carry a different weight than reading on your own, although I would argue that it's not just about your own ability to concentrate on what's being said, but has equal parts to do with your building relationship with that particular book and your relationship with the narrator.  I don't ever recall my parents reading to me, but when I've read to children or attended public readings by authors, there's a sense of intangible connection between the words you speak, your voice, and the ear that listens.

    Hm, I wouldn't mind a bedtime story now and again.

    05 October 2010

    These are the days

    What a way to wake up in the middle of a long studio night-day:

    02 October 2010

    MIT 150 : Celebrating...what?

    The bustle in the connection between the Infinite and the extension
    The buzz is starting on campus and events are being readied for MIT's 150th birthday celebration.  Although this number doesn't seem very large, in comparison to some other gray-haired alma maters, but looking at what the Institute has become on a global scale and the people and work that has been produced in that time...  all I can say is that I'm proud to be fortunate enough to have been at Columbia to celebrate its 250th, and now at MIT to celebrate this sesquicentennial* milestone.

    The calendar is full of events, highlighting the faculty and student body's research work, performances, innovations, social capital, among a vast spectrum of topics.  This semester, I'm actually taking the FAST class - Festival of Arts, Science, and Technology - that centers around designing installations to showcase the creative arts as extensions of the Infinite Corridor.  My professor, Tod Machover, known for his musical compositions with a techno-bent, has been introducing us to a slew of faculty like Evan Ziporyn (Music) and Marty + Erik Demaine (Visual Arts and Computer Science) who are doing some amazing (and occasionally obscure) work.  It all sounds incredibly exciting...

    ... but there's a hole in this narrative.  The topics covered range from the above mentioned to econ/finance to music to cancer research to neuroscience to explorations of the natural world and women in science, which are all great points of discussion ...

    ... but what about that intangible facet of campus life, that of the spiritual?  Does faith have a place at MIT?  Or, perhaps more pointedly, does MIT have a soul?**  I ask this not simply because I'm a Christian, but because I've seen how vibrant a faith culture there is here on campus.  This missing link seems glaringly obvious, but has apparently slipped through the cracks in favor of the more "obvious" topics of celebration.

    Just a thought, but where do we stand - not just in the Infinite Corridor but in infinity?

    - - -

    * Not my word usage, but MIT's
    ** Also not mine, but from Chris of The Veritas Forum