March 2007 Archives

March 27, 2007

Taking off

February's blues put me so far behind; much of March was spent bemoaning the situation. But as this month draws to a close, I'm happy to say that I've really pushed myself to new limits and have largely accomplished a lot of what I'd left undone.

As a result, I'll reap the benefits. Tomorrow morning I head to New York City, where I'll shoot some stand-ups for a show that I'll be hosting live Thursday at 7pm. The show is called "Let's Talk New York City," and is one of a series that places younger Adventists in an unedited, unscripted discussion with the president of the Adventist world church.

It's a part of a larger plan to connect with the youth of the church, as a majority of the church body is now under the age of 35. There's also a website that allows those who were not fortunate enough to sit in a session to voice their concerns, questions, and criticisms. I'd love to be a part of the discussion, but unfortunately my job is to facilitate.

Friday morning Fru and I are off to holiday in Costa Rica. No, no particular eco-tour in our itinerary; rather, we're going to visit my family and celebrate my birthday (3rd April) as well as my feisty great-grandmother's (7th). It so happens that the week is also "Semana Santa," holy week, so we'll enjoy the country-wide festivities and time off.

I've got other travel lined up, and I'm pretty excited. End of June I'll be attending GIEN at Newbold College in Berkshire, with a possibility of presenting on social networks. You have no idea how happy that makes me; if the travel wasn't enough, being able to present something that fascinates me to others at a convention makes all the vicarious living I've been imagining seem so much more real. I'm happy to start from here, wherever that may be, and work my way up. I only wish I was as adept as these veterans at juggling the costs and keeping the flow of engagements coming.

Late July I've been asked to be a speaker for one of the events in a mission initiative in Bacolod, Philippines. I'm a little apprehensive about this one because I don't have a real feel on who my audience will be. I like to scope out the mindset before presenting, just because my whole passion is built upon communicating in a way that is native to the thought processes of the recipient. l guess I'll have to do some quick assessing once I'm on the ground there.

Finally, I'm seeing if I can manage a way to get Fru and I to the second World Conference on Youth and Community Service, a quinquennial event that will be happening in Taiwan around Christmas. I miss Asia something fierce and would love to check in and check out Taiwan. I know this is a ridiculous amount of travel for the average earthling, and that those who I admire are practically otherworldly in this respect. But I feel that if I can push myself to accomplish the ordinary and mundane tasks, I should reward myself by pushing to accomplish the extraordinary and novel things I'd so much rather be doing.

Foreign Policy: The List: Urban Face-lifts

Foreign Policy: The List: Urban Face-lifts

Everyone knows that Rudy Giuliani transformed the Big Apple from a haven for crime into a place where you can walk the streets after dark. But New York is not the only city to emerge from a dark past. In this List, FP looks at other cities around the world that have risen from the ashes.

March 26, 2007

In Defence of Hipsterdom

pageblank: In Defence of Hipsterdom

And I think this is why hipsterdom is often the pupal stage for artists or people who are interested in art. Hipster clothing and conversations are very standardized, but that's why they are useful: it enables young artists to find each other, and to talk about art in a way that emphasizes community rather than the deeply personal effect it has on most people. This is why hipsters are often obsessed with lists and categories rather than feelings. It's hard to describe why anyone would like Marcel Dzama and burlesque and knitting and neon purple tights and The Decemberists and Russian prison tattooes and R. Kelly, but if two participants in a conversation do like these lists of things, then they can recognize they have similar feelings about the world, however poorly they've expressed that viewpoint directly. Hipsterdom is a shorthand for a varied and shifting view of North American culture.

March 25, 2007

whispered conversation

whispered conversation, originally uploaded by hk2006.

The Return of Dreams

I've been dreaming more vividly lately. I always consider dreams to be a measurement of your brain's activity.

When I was young, I would have unbelievably vivid dreams. I can still remember two of them; one was a recurring nightmare at a pumpkin farm, while the other one was a glorious apparition where I lived in a two-story glass house and eventually turned into an all-powerful, albeit non-flaming, phoenix.

As I pushed further into school, and particularly in that stage where coolness must be exuded, I feel like my dreaming diminished. I often had good dreams, but nothing so exciting; more often than not, I retold my good dreams from before rather than dream up anything new. I think this says a lot about this period of my life.

But they're back now, and I'd like to think that their intensity is in no small part to the content that I am putting into my subconscious. The new feature, however, is how involved my dreams have become with my conscious thought. in my last dream, not only did I speak Japanese (poorly, over a meal with a grocer in Japan) but I actually mentioned items on my agenda for today in conversation. Talk about reinforcement!

Yes my last dream session was a doozy. I also attended a lovely wedding. Time passed while at the reception, and I watched the couple--newly attired--in a beautifully arranged renewal of vows. One room had been set up and was restricted from guests, looking inside, I saw a replica of their wedding cake sitting on what looked like a table in a cafeteria. My sense told me that this hidden room was reserved for them to remember where they first met/fell in love, and I was struck with emotion as the wave of their memories rushed into my mind. I cried at the sweetness of their love, to the extent that I was nearly drawn from the dream by the realization that I was almost crying into my pillow in the real world.

Yes, this is the same dream where I sat and talked shop with the Japanese grocer over a freshly prepared meal, listened to a band not unlike the roots play inside a passing school bus, and ran to join a rap battle along side an unknown friend and Notorious B.I.G. Yes it was a wild for hours of sleep.

Fru loves to sleep. It is her default action when her choices have all been used. For me, sleeping (and eating for that matter) is not so much an activity as it is a method to keep the activities going. Thankfully I've dreams to keep the sleeping times just as exciting.

March 21, 2007

Confessions of an Empty-Nester

Confessions of an Empty-Nester - Zillow Blog

We now live in the middle of downtown Seattle in a condo (photo below) that’s less than half the size of our last House. Our 3,200 square feet of Texas sprawl has been squeezed down to a cosmopolitan 1,200. We’ve gotten rid of most of our furniture, clothes, and surplus artwork, and all of our meaningless “stuff.” We’ve chucked the lawnmower and garden tools, and pared our dishes down to enough for only four. And best of all -– most gloriously of all -– we’ve sold our three cars!

Our everyday lives have changed in every way imaginable. We don't own a car, so we walk everywhere, including to and from work. We use the bus or ferry if we want to go farther afield. This has had a profound effect on how we interact with people. We realize now that the cocoons of our cars kept us well insulated from the people around us. Our genuine interactions were with family and coworkers, the only people who saw us stripped of the metal that clothed and protected us. Our neighbors, we discovered, were virtually strangers.

Something I've been thinking about a lot and have been referring to as "the culture of space." When you are in close proximity to something you are forced to develop a familiarity with it, to understand it better. As a result of its closeness are encouraged to make it more useful and practical in your life. The muscles that you use to interact with things of this type are kept in good form.

However, when you extricate yourself from something you find undesirable, you are not close to it. You do not learn to deal with it, nor to you find ways to make it practical. The muscles that you use to interact with things of this type eventually atrophy. Succinctly, avoidance reduces our tolerance levels.

So it comes as no surprise that when the modern American hangs out with friends, avoids strangers, goes to the local university, marries early, starts working for a large corporation first, buys a house in the suburbs (and later, moves to outside the suburbs), etc....that we naturally are reducing our ability to deal with diversity and conflict. Not only are we less tolerable of it, but we are also incapable of handling and addressing it.

I love this this writer's phrase "the cocoon of our cars." So very fitting. We drive to and from our destinations in solitude, returning to our big spacious homes where everyone and their preferences can be sectioned off by room. Case in point: formal and informal dining areas.

How can we correct poverty and fight crime; how can we build community and address injustices; who will save our cities and direct their growth if we run to the countrysides, spoiling the unspoilt areas. Have we forgotten that everyone dreams of something better? Are we naive enough to think that those who we have left behind would not rather be where we now are?

It is for this reason that I personally feel that choices like this couple made are socially responsible and holistically preferred. Let's become a people again.

March 20, 2007

urban infrastructure needs 40 trillion in repairs

Lights! Water! Motion!

The world’s urban infrastructure needs a $40 trillion makeover. Here’s how to reinvigorate our electricity, water, and transportation systems by integrating finance, governance, technology, and design.

March 19, 2007

So about the GTD thing.

So about the GTD thing.

I initially wasn't interested in Getting Things Done simply because I'm never interested in things that everyone raves about and tells me I should do. I'm pretty sure I know what my faults are as far as organization is concerned: I procrastinate and I'm lazy. I'm also an idealist, which never helps. Reading a book did not seem to me to be the logical solution to that conundrum.

I did, however, want to know enough to reject the idea intellectually, so I borrowed the book from a friend (who had not finished it; typical) and started reading. The first chapters were unbelievably interesting, so I decided I'd follow the trend and do this GTD thing.

Note: I always feel like I'm cursing when I write GTD. ha. (In japanese emoticons, I'm actually sorta banging my head on the floor!)

I also was able to get David Allen's Getting Things Done Fast presentation in Audio format with the workbooks. So I figured I'd listen to it and be done with it even faster. Well, if there's one thing that this system will do, it will take off those rose-colored glasses and tell you the real deal; I'm still nowhere near finished with the book or audiobook, and it shows.

Case in point: When I came to Leftsider today, I noted it was about time for a new photo. I thought that I might be able to put a link or two more, but after that, I'd like to put a picture before anything else significant--like this piece. I noted a typo and logged in to correct it, at which point a realized that there was a comment that had not been attended to (about GTD, coincidentally) . After addressing both issues, I got started on procuring the links for this post and decided to flesh out my ideas to ascertain which links I'd actually need. Upon writing, I realized (at this point, basically) that I was supposed to be putting an image before any prominent pieces. I went to Flickr, to see what I could add. Unfortunately, there was an indication that someone had commented on my photos. I checked out what was new. A friend had left a half dozen messages--he had actually told me last week that he had, so I responded to them. On the last one, I wanted to reference a Korean phrase I recently learned (when someone used it in reference to me in my Cyworld Hompage), but I couldn't remember it for certain. So, off to Cyworld I go to reference the spelling of this word. Upon login, I note that a few people had left comments in my guestbook. I, naturally, respond to them quickly; I recall that I've not talked to them on their pages for quite sometime, so I'm just about off to do that before I remember that there are still quite a few pics I haven't put in my Cyworld photo album. So instead I attach my phone to the computer and download the pics that have been waiting for release. It is while I'm sitting watching the files download that I remember: CRAP! I was getting a photo for Leftsider! Let me go do that now....wait...d'oh! I've a flickr page open waiting for a korean phrase I also forgot about....and on and on the cycle goes.

Can you see why I need GTD? ^-^;

If my own situation wasn't reason enough, Adam Greenfield got me all wrapped up in the idea of the working GTD system (what he calls the "optimal stack")...which is where I could spend the rest of my life work if given the opportunity. Kangmi's comments (on Leftsider; above) were the sobering reality that, despite all my efforts, I really wasn't getting anything done at all. Thankfully, someone who has fared a little better is extending some well-needed support.

All said, I'm committed now to GTD. If I can't finish the book, I may as well give up on ever hoping to accomplishing the actual details. I conned Fru into listening to the first CD, and now she is interested as well. I think it'd be nice to get it done together. I'm also encouraging my office team to do the GTD thing as well; that way they'll at least understand what I'm trying to do.

Got any other suggestions for making this silly thing work? Let a brother know.


between, originally uploaded by hk2006.

March 18, 2007

Job hopping: How much is too much?

Job hopping: How much is too much? サ Brazen Careerist

Between the ages of 20 and 30, most people have more than 8 jobs. This is a positive thing for a number of reasons. First of all, Daniel Gilbert, psychologist at Harvard, says that we really don't know what we'll like until we try it. So having a lot of jobs when you start your adult life is a good way to figure out what to do with your adult life.

March 16, 2007


Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This has to be THE revelation of 2007 thus far. I have never seen anything like it and the sheer inane brilliance of it all is mesmerizing. I keep shaking my head.

Because this is such a phenomenal find, I must give credit where it is due: one of my regular sources for great linkage, Torrez.

Top Underground Transit Systems in the World

Here's how to knock of Kim

1948: Here's How To Knock-Off Kim

One of the foremost scholars on North Korea, Andrei Lankov, recently addressed Condoleeza Rice on How To Topple Kim Jong il in the March-April edition of Foreign Policy. While the article is available for subscribers only, here are the recommendations that the St. Petersburg native made to Madame Secretary:

March 15, 2007

Showdown at South Central Farm

The Next American City

At first, the site attracted only a handful of gardeners. But after a formal dedication ceremony, a number of farmers, including Latino immigrants who had initially hesitant, began to establish plots. From the mid-1990s until 2006, the South Central Farm, as gardeners came to call it, evolved into a striking landscape. Eventually as many as 350 Latino gardeners (or campesinos) participated in growing such crops as corn, beans, and nopales cactus, and herbs like jimsonweed and cilantro. They grew guava and other fruits. “The plants sown only intensified the otherworldliness of the place,” reporter Emily Green said of the garden in a 2004 Los Angeles Times magazine story. Latino New Urbanist James Rojas characterized the farm as a mini “pueblo” for its community activities. Land that was otherwise surrounded by warehouses, truck traffic, and the Alameda rail lines, was completely transformed.

As an urban place, the farm also turned into a safe haven - drug-free, gang-free, and graffiti-free. Reconstructing a kind of urban plaza and green space familiar to Latino immigrants, the garden facilitated social networks and was a gathering spot for families. On any given day, it attracted as many people as could be found in some city parks. The campesinos also established traditions like the Garden Day L.A. celebration, where food and plant vendors, musicians, and folklorica dancers gathered for a day-long fair.

Sad Ending. :(

The man holding me down?

Yesterday I skipped work to catch up on some languishing studies, mostly Japanese. I woke up, called in, went back to bed, got up again, locked myself in an empty room (Fru was also working from home so I didn't want to be distracted) and studied in earnest for 5-6 hours.

To be honest, it felt really good. Doing nothing but learning is not as boring as one might assume. And when I crawled out of that room I felt accomplished, a little closer to current as far as school goes.

Most notably, I felt a clarity that my mind had been without for a while. An empty head is really a great thing (thinking about David Allen's concept). And it showed; before the day was done I had two really significant epiphanies and a couple fascinating conversations during my class that evening.

Driving home I wondered if it was coincidence that the one day I don't deal with office issues is the day that all my ideas bubble over to the surface. Could it be that my work is cooling my jets? Or, to its defense, am I not approaching work in a way that it can fuel my thinking?

Lots of things to think about. Unfortunately I'll have to schedule that think time in as the office is back with a vengance. :)

come on baby let's go downtown

come on baby let's go downtown, originally uploaded by Janesdead.

March 14, 2007

Geared to Grow


Research had shown that there were more than 160 million Americans currently not riding bikes—an enormous potential market. Why weren’t they cycling? And how could they be persuaded to get back in the saddle? The surprising answers inspired Shimano to design a new bicycle and try to shape the future of the bicycle industry.

Really cool research. Be sure to also check out the resulting site,, to see the bikes!

March 13, 2007

make your house as the earth itself

Arkinetia - Artículos - Nolaster – España | Casa OS - Loredo, Cantabria (Fotos: Jan Bitter y José Hevia)

Another fantastic architectural rendering that is just my style--and written about in spanish. Be sure to scroll down to see all the pictures and drawings.

March 12, 2007

A Glimpse and a Hook

Rands In Repose: A Glimpse and a Hook

The terrifying reality regarding your resume is that for all the many hours you put into fine-tuning, you've got 30 seconds to make an impression on me. Maybe less.

This is a fantastically straightforward piece that answers a lot of questions that I'm looking at right now. No further clues are needed for that, right? :)

March 11, 2007

Crisis Looms in Market for Mortgages

Crisis Looms in Market for Mortgages - New York Times

This article is mildly interesting, especially if you are interested in property right now. The real reason I give it some note here is because of this absolute atrocity of an analogy here:

Like worms that surface after a torrential rain, revelations that emerge when an asset bubble bursts are often unattractive, involving dubious industry practices and even fraud. In the coming weeks, some mortgage market participants predict, investors will learn not only how lax real estate lending standards became, but also how hard to value these opaque securities are and how easy their values are to prop up

I don't know how that passed the editors. It should be added to my list of other analogy favorites.

Why Smart Cops Do Dumb Things

Wired News: Why Smart Cops Do Dumb Things

If someone left a backpack full of explosives in a crowded movie theater, or detonated a truck bomb in the middle of a tunnel, no one would demand to know why the police hadn't noticed it beforehand. But if a weird device with blinking lights and wires turned out to be a bomb -- what every movie bomb looks like -- there would be inquiries and demands for resignations. It took the police two weeks to notice the Mooninite blinkies, but once they did, they overreacted because their jobs were at stake.

This is Cover Your Ass security, and unfortunately it's very common.

Half of Korean Women Have Had Cosmetic Surgery

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Eight out of 10 Korean women over the age of 18 feel they need cosmetic surgery, and one out of two has undergone cosmetic surgery at least once, a survey has found.

We would joke casually about the dangers of having kids in Korea. If your kid turned out horribly ugly or completely different from you, you can blame it on you wife's plastic surgery. Chances are, you have no idea what she really looks like.

I've heard horror stories about women being afraid to show their new husbands their faces without makeup, so this statistic (especially if it includes the eyelid modification) doesn't surprise me at all.

March 9, 2007

Japan's phone charms

Japan's Hottest Cell Phone Straps

In Japan, dressing up a cell phone is almost as important as having one. The cell-phone strap is an indispensable accessory that lets a person express individuality without flaunting it, and often tells a little story about Japanese culture and history. Here are examples of some of the most playful.


DSCF45952, originally uploaded by mwkw.

March 8, 2007

a slice of the traditional

spring: grandfather clock

I'd love to have this in my living room....*swoon*

The Myth of Superstar Cities - The Myth of 'Superstar Cities'

Over the past 15 years, it has been opportunistic newcomers — Houston, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, Riverside — that have created the most new jobs and gained the most net domestic migration. In contrast there has been virtually negligible long-term net growth in jobs or positive domestic migration to places like New York, Los Angeles, Boston or the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sounds like something I've been thinking. Obviously, it's supported more credibly than my meanderings. Still, I wish there was a way to recognize the potential of an upstart city so that you could cash in early and take advantage. Of course, if there was, I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one cashing in; perhaps that's why I can't get a hold of that algorithm. :)

March 7, 2007

The Design Disease

Noisy Decent Graphics: The Design Disease

It seems to me that if you're a designer, a proper designer not someone who learnt Photoshop in between phone calls, then design runs through your veins like Pantone 7418. But more than that, it's there in every aspect of life. You can't stop looking at things through your designer eyes. Everything you do is clouded by this thing that lives inside you.

Now, this is no bad thing. But I'm becoming fascinated by how this thing takes hold of us all and I'd like to share it with you lovely people.

Great post. I passed this along to my graphic design friends and the all were singing its praises. I think it is vitally important to be consumed by at least one passion; have one thing that makes you swoon in bliss or nearly die from its loss or misappropriation. Most people look for that in love, but brilliant people find it in their work.

March 4, 2007

22 ways to reduce computer eye strain

infographic music videos

Neat music video by a band called The Longcut that... (

It is indeed a neat little video, but I thought mildy contrived. I definitely echoed the video's commenters in that it immediately put me in mind of the Royksopp video I had seen years before. While the Longcut video does tell a more specific story, the Royksopp one stays truer to the term infographics (and I personally think is more catchy).

Who says information graphics can't be fun?

March 3, 2007

Radar Love

Switched On: Radar love - Engadget

Well it looks like the Zune has something going for it..... :)

Daegu in 1954

The Marmot's Hole サ (Absolutely MUST SEE) Color photos of Daegu, 1954

If you've looked through the pictures we took while we were in Daegu, you'll have a slight understanding of how shocked I was to see these pictures of just 50 years ago. The speed of development in Northeast Asia after the world war is simply staggering. People who lived in those pictures are very much still alive today--something that would be unfathomable in the states. Just wow.

March 2, 2007


ohayo!, originally uploaded by oisoyboy.

Best places for expats in Japan

Top place for foreigners to live »«– What Japan Thinks

According to the Center for Multicultural Information and Assistance and reported on in the Kobe Shimbun, the easiest places in Japan for foreigners to live in were the prefectures Kanagawa and Hyogo (my home), and the cities of Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Osaka .

The power of praise

Mind Hacks: The power of praise

Children who were praised for their effort were more likely to choose a harder test when given a choice, were less likely to become disheartened when given a test they were guaranteed to fail, and when finally given the original tests again, their marks improved.

In contrast, the children praised for their intelligence tended to choose an easier test if asked, were distressed by failure, and actually had worse marks after re-taking the original tests.

Wow this is really interesting. I really wonder about this for personal reasons. I guess it would be difficult to determine whether this could be adjusted/reversed after childhood. Hmm.

5 laptops under $1000

Five Value Laptops for Under $1000 Bucks - Guides by Digital Trends

Value laptops don’t always have to mean you end up with a hunk of junk and a blinking cursor staring back at you. Great notebook computers exist out there for under $1,000, having become more and more of a reality as prices on components like processors, RAM and hard drives continue to fall. While not all computers in this price range will have Windows Vista installed on them, some are ready to update when you are. And if you aren’t in a hurry to upgrade, you can find some great deals on Windows XP laptops.

Black America sailing off course

Leaders See a Black America Sailing Off Course -

They spoke of a black America adrift. Black males are more common in prisons than on college campuses, they said. Black children, meanwhile, are increasingly born into single-parent homes.

"A lot of us have lost the dignity that our community has shown from Jamestown to now," Sharpton said.

Others pointed to a lack of personal responsibility among blacks who, they said, are waiting for leaders to make changes.

"I didn't have to wait for people to tell me it was my time to run for governor -- it was my time," Wilder said, encouraging other blacks to take similar personal initiative. "We can't stop here."

Can't remember the last time I said I agreed with Al Sharpton. But yeah.

One heckuva design wrapup

MoCo Loco: Meta MoCo This Week

Haven't linked to any design recently, and this wrap-up had so many interesting items that I couldn't pick which one to show. That's a good week! :)

Forgive me for giving you links that are nearly a month old, but that's just about how far back I am in my reader. I have all intention to make significant progress in this matter over the weekend, when I catch up on the other things that are behind (largely because of my recent energyless depression), like schoolwork and side projects.

No sleep till Brooklyn for me!

The internet is the social network

O'Reilly Radar > Social Network Fatigue and the Missing Web 2.0 Address Book

What really needs to be done is not just to connect the various social networks that do exist in internet network-of-networks style, but also to social-network enable our real social network apps: our IM, our email, our phone. Where, I keep asking vendors, is the Web 2.0 address book?

Sakura Dreamgirl

Sakura Dreamgirl, originally uploaded by Captainvideo.

Genius Tablet

Genius Tablet Gear Taps Notes and Design - Computing News - Digital Trends

The G-Note 7100 is a handwriting recognition tablet which, unlike most competing products, doesn't require any special paper. Users can slide any old A4 or letter pad onto the tablet and begin writing freehand notes in either portrait or landscape orientation, and the tablet digitizes the input, processes the handwriting, and lets users offload the stored text to their PC later on.

It's good to see that there are people who refuse to give up on a fusion of digital and analog i/o. Especially since so much can be lost when we abandon one practice for another, I see this as a benefit for all--and at a price that isn't unreasonable.

grocery boxes

PingMag - The Tokyo-based magazine about “Design and Making Things”

Nearly every day you go the green grocer’s – but did you ever take a closer look at the superb designed boxes the groceries are offered in? The fruits and veggies in Japan surely look pretty similar to that of any other country, but its packaging certainly doesn’t! PingMag went shopping and presents you a quick photo scrapbook of the eye-catching cardboard boxes you can discover around town.

March 1, 2007

the soulless help

On helping others:

leftsider: for every 500 questions I answer for you

leftsider: I get about 300 smart remarks

GermanBoy: You want a cookie?

leftsider: 100 thanks

leftsider: and 0 tangible things in return

leftsider: no favors offered

leftsider: or anything

GermanBoy: Yeah I think if we take that route you are already maxed out for the next 5,000,000 questions

leftsider: so I don't feel any guilt about making you wait for answer #501

GermanBoy: you don't feel guilt because you don't have a soul

leftsider: yeah that too