Between Facebook, moving from Chicago, and the U.S. National Design Policy Initiative stuff, I have seriously neglected my blog. This week I am prepping for a meeting with the Dept. of Commerce next week. So give me a few more weeks and I promise to be more diligent as I prepare my American Farewell Tour.

Groundedness: Lack of in Chicago

One of the things that was most remarkable about my experience in Santa Fe was how relaxed I was. I mean I worked really hard on writing the book, misc. essays, tenure papers, letters of recommendations, conducting research while there, but I just did not feel as stressed as I do now back in Chicago.

The difference I think has to do with the groundedness of Santa Fe because of its earthiness and human scale of things. Jerry and I walk to the Chicago River, mirroring our walks to the Santa Fe River. During this walk, we pass by large industrial buildings, sidewalks and parking lots overgrown with weeds (the Queen Anne's lace is in bloom) and broken glass bottles, freeway overpasses, the train tracks, and there is not a patch of earth on the river walk.

When we did the Emergency and Evacuation Design project at UIC, we talked about natural and man-made elements. For earth/dirt, the man-made equivalents were glass, concrete, and steel. I am realizing that glass, concrete, and steel do not have the same grounding forces as earth/dirt.

So I will have to practice doubly hard my Tai Chi to ground myself. Now all the Taoist meditations about needing to get out of the city seems more true.

Happy Valentine's Day_9 forms of love

I once read somewhere a long time ago, (but currently found on the dataguru website) that Beverly Fehr conducted a study in which she described how there are 9 forms of love:

  1. Friendship
  2. Platonic
  3. Affection
  4. Romantic
  5. Passionate
  6. Committed
  7. Infatuation
  8. Puppy
  9. Sexual

So as you celebrate love today, figure out which form of love you are celebrating. Or which mixture of loves you are celebrating. Today, (this can change tomorrow), I'd go for a heady "love mix" of 50% affection, 20% friendship,  20% committed, and 10% Passionate love these days. Leave me digital valentines of your "love mix" for the day.

New Year Resolutions

I like the term resolution because it connotes a self-awareness of imperfections and the discipline to address them. Of course, I make resolutions all year long. But, New Year's resolutions seem to have a stronger resolve because you feel as though you can forgive your past shortcomings and start fresh.

One of my shortcomings that I keep pressing up against is my accelerated sense of timing. So my New Year's resolutions are all about activities and experiences that will acclimate me to a slower life pace:

  1. Invest more time in face to face and telephonic communications. I realized how impatient and frustrated I had become with face to face and telephone conversations with people because they take more time than an email. That probably is not a healthy attitude.
  2. Cook my own breakfasts and dinner and eat them at the table. I've started to do this already a bit and find that I am more relaxed throughout the day and evening when I do that.
  3. Double the amount of time I give myself to do something.  In Tai Chi, there is a saying that you have to go slow in order to go fast. I really need to go slower.
  4. Take a real vacation for one week in which I cannot bring my laptop computer.

I think the rest will all fall into place if I firmly commit myself to these activities.

10,000 page views

Today, I hit 10,000 lifetime page views. Minor milestone since starting the blog a little over a year ago. It's not Google, but for me its more than I expected. Tee. hee.

It probably means there is need for a refresh. I'm wanting to add links to other blogs that I admire.

Happy 4th of July!

From second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


The Diet Plate

This morning, I came across this story about the Diet Plate in the BBC. Here is the link to the actual website of the company.

Invented by former housewife, Kay Illingworth, it had a hard time getting manufactured. Note: she positions herself as an inventor not a designer -- a fascinating distinction. What I find interesting is the simplicity of the solution to weight management by embedding it in common everyday objects for eating.

So many diet plans are disruptive. Taking out the scales to weigh food, a calculator to count calories, ordering special meals to be delivered, eating only certain foods on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. They do not follow the everyday pattern of people’s lives. The Diet Plate is seamless in that you fix your plate and just make sure that the food fits within the space. I don’t know what they do with the height factor.

I wonder what other examples of health related products are there that are not disruptive but help within the process of your normal activiities.

MoMA and Richard Serra

Went to the MoMA yesterday to see his 40 year retrospective. I love the kineasthetic and aural experiences of his sculptures. There was another women going around singing "boop boop" to hear the acoustic resonance of the structures. What I love was the sense of dizziness I get from walking around the concave scultures. There is something hardwired about straight lines that makes you dizzy when there are not any.

I saw some really amazing work which reminded me of how much I love art and how much I am learning about design.

The Comic exhibition was so cool. I instantly recognized the work of Julie Mehretu's with its multple levels of drawing and painting. I kept trying to get closer and closer, then back away.

One thing that you don't realize by looking at pictures in books is the scale of the artwork. I have a loft and most of it could not fit on my walls. So first you have to have the walls for art, then the art itself.

It was an amazing day, feel of beauty and introspection. I had no appointments with people so I was free to wander on my own time. I like that feeling.

Conversion for Humanity

Over the last couple of days, I have read newspaper accounts in the BBC news of the Dalit Hindus converting in mass to Buddhism, or the Roma in Bulgaria to Pentecostalism. In each case, it is about using an “outside” system to wedge against an internal system of oppression.

By becoming Buddhist, the Dalit “untouchables” set themselves up to become more equal human beings. The article is a bit misleading in terms of describing thousands who attended and only hundreds who actually converted, but it is an interesting phenomemon.

By becoming Pentecostal, the Roma get access to schools and money to build their communities. These conversions thus are less about religion and more about finding a more equitable path through life.

This often happened in colonial times where the first converts to Christianity were the social outcasts and marginal citizens of society. Actually, it continues today with the rise of Pentecostalism in Africa.