Jumat, 30 November 2007

0 Air Brain

[Image: Bel-Air by Mathieu Lehanneur].

These air filters, by Mathieu Lehanneur, seem so hilariously inefficient and bizarre to me, but hey – I love the idea. They turn plants into air filtration machines – miniature ecosystems put to work. Somewhere between a terrarium and biotechnology.
The designer himself describes the filter as "a vegetal brain enclosed in an aluminium and Pyrex cranial box." That "brain" then cleans the air in your house for you.

[Image: Bel-Air by Mathieu Lehanneur].

More specifically, Lehanneur's Bel-Air system "is a mini mobile greenhouse" that "continuously inhales" air into an enclosed system of "three natural filters (the plant leaves, its roots, and a humid bath)."
The air is then released again, "purified."
    This patented principal has two advantages: Bel-Air is to the American and Asiatic common filter appliances what Dyson is to regular vacuum cleaners. Here, the noxious particles are captured, and transformed inside the system. No more filters to change, and no more clogs.
Lehanneur was at least partially inspired by NASA's old research into space gardens, wherein living plants were to be installed on spaceships in order to filter, clean, and continually recirculate the exhaled breath of astronauts.
As such, this project reminds me of the oxygen garden from Danny Boyle's film Sunshine.

[Images: The Oxygen Garden from Sunshine, courtesy of DNA Films].

There we see a whole room – full of plants, circular fans, UV lights, and timed irrigation tanks (the Earth in miniature, technologically replaced) – built aboard the film's main spacecraft, forming "a natural, unmechanical way of replenishing [the ship's] oxygen supplies."
All houses should be greenhouses. Imagine going to work in a place like that – in an oxygen garden – bringing the tropics to an exurban office park near you. Creeper vines, and Pyrex-shelled ferns, and huge corridors lined with orange trees – groves and orchards spiraling above you up stairways and halls. The sheer terrestrial weirdness of flowering species.
What is it about plantlife that seems so inherently sci-fi?

(For the Bel-Air's complete press release, see Dezeen).

0 The 9 Best Ways to Get Organized by Year's End

I've found that Winter is an excellent season for revamping the personal organization system. The brisk, cold air reinvigorates me, and for some reason instills a need to brush up on my organization, especially around the house. This could partially be due to the weather, or the fact that the busy holiday season requires that I've got all my ducks in a row, or I won't survive my social calendar.

Here are a few ways to help you get ready for the busy end of the year.
  1. Sweep the Calendar
    If you're like me, you've got miscellaneous things on the calendar that were planned a long time ago in the Summer that never actually happened. Sweep the Winter months and make sure that everything on your calendar is an actual event. Once you've got everything off the calendar that you won't need, go through and add those events that you haven't gotten around to yet. This may be a little tricky finding all the hidden events, but usually for me they're either in my email, on various bits of paper around the house, and elsewhere.

  2. Slim Todo Lists
    For many people, todo lists have become a place to put stuff that you might do, as opposed to things you're going to do. Instead of showing immediate action, the lists are weighed down with extra tasks that you might never do. Dump all of your todo items that you might do into a "Someday/Maybe" file. You'll feel great once you're clear of that extra stuff. It's much easier to get motivated to get things done when your list of things to do has 300 items on it.

  3. Pack Up Summer Clothes
    Closet clutter can be a very ugly thing. Put those clothes that you're sure you won't need this winter into storage. And if you've got clothes that you hardly ever wear any more, dump 'em off at the Salvation Army. Giving away stuff you don't use is still giving.

  4. Optimize Your Garage or Shed
    If you've got a garage or shed that you use for your maintenance equipment, you'll probably want to put up the rakes and other lawn equipment, and start pulling out the sidewalk salts, snow shovels, and other winter weather equipment. (This will vary depending on your location.) If you own any tools, Winter is an especially great time to organize the "shop". While there are probably still some weatherproofing and miscellaneous Winter "handy man" jobs around the house that you could do, the bulk of the outside projects will probably be put on standby until Spring rolls around. Until then, it's an excellent opportunity to put everything in its place.

  5. Declutter Your House
    The holiday season typically encourages people to clutter their house even more than usual with Christmas decorations. However, there's no time like the end of the year to really evaluate what's needed around the house. Try going through every stack of clutter and think carefully about the usefulness of each item. My personal rule of thumb is pretty extreme, but it works pretty well to silence the inner packrat: "When in doubt, throw it out!"

  6. Track Down Your Finances
    While April 15th is a few months away, it doesn't hurt to get your books in order early. Start by tracking down receipts and purchases from the last year early on. You don't have to wait until 10pm on April 14th to file your taxes, you know ;)

  7. Pick One Thing To Change In 2008
    People often try to change waaaay too many things with New Year's Resolutions. But let's be honest here: How often are resolutions actually kept? More often than not a list of resolutions is quickly forgotten after the first month. Why? Because effective change is a slow, steady process. Instead of trying to change a slew of things about your life when the new year rolls around, how about just changing one aspect? Pick one thing to improve on next year, and once you change it move on to another.

  8. Review 2007
    Taking a look back on what you did this year, what you accomplished and what you learned, is one of the best ways to make the most out of the year. Plus it gives motivation to do great things next year.

  9. Toss files
    You've got a drawer or two full of files you don't actually need anymore. Toss them out. Do the same with your computer files.
Written for Dumb Little Man by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev. If you're looking for more tips on organization and personal productivity, feel free to check out LifeDev.net (or the feed).

Kamis, 29 November 2007

0 5 Ways to Stand Out and Get Your Dream Job

For students finishing up their college careers or even business people looking to succeed in their current jobs, no question is more common than, "How do I stand out?". As one of our readers, "John Con", asks,
"What do you wish you did/didn't do in college that would help you succeed today or more precisely- what will make a person stand out?"
As I am constantly being asked this question by other friends just finishing college and even older friends who are looking to improve or change their careers, I want to put my thoughts and experiences thus far out for communal cogitation.

These are not so much the specific actions I believe are best; there is no specific combination of activities that guarantees success. However, this is a set of goals that allow you to stand out and can be achieved through any number of paths.

1. Be a Whole Person
This isn't just the usual tip Career Services hands out as you fill in the last few lines of your resume, it is an integral part of any interview. If you spend every spare minute working and studying rather than pursuing your other passions you will quickly run out of material for situational interviews. In fact, a number of the recruiters I have talked to actually frown on a straight 4.0 students to the point of being especially critical of those with above a 3.8. Don't take this as an excuse to not study but, when you're faced with a choice between taking part in a student organization or a committee and studying to make sure you get a straight 4.0, go with the depth of experience that external activities can provide.

2. Be Passionate
Notice it says "be passionate" not "show passion" or "feign excitement". Those around you can quickly detect whether you are truly passionate about the organization you are working for or the position you are interviewing for. Once you are in a given role you need that passion even more to spread to those around you for motivation and to demonstrate commitment to your manager (without even trying because you believe in what you're doing).

3. Be a Leader
Everyone talks about "leadership", there are even majors and innumerable development courses for it but, it doesn't have to be that complicated. Find something you are passionate about and learn what it takes to lead by interacting with people who have similar beliefs. Gather the thoughts, opinions and goals of the group, combine them with your vision and help the group achieve them by planning a strategy with them, not for them. Your passion to lead change, in any group whether political, academic, athletic or otherwise, is directly translatable to leading in the constantly changing corporate environment.

4. Be Reflective and Relative
Every single business out there is looking for improvement and advancement. This forward-looking progress is often the result of reflecting on the current process and interpreting it for improvement. As Revans states, "Lasting behavioral change is more likely to follow the reinterpretation of past experiences than the acquisition of fresh knowledge". Take the time to reflect on what you have done, how you can improve it, and how it relates to other areas or people in your life.

5. Be Externally Aware
Having a basic knowledge of what is going in your industry and the business world in general can help not just in your interview but throughout your career as you encounter problems. Many innovations are merely the result of an externally cognizant manager applying a new technology or process in a way never considered before. Without external awareness, you will be less able to make these new adaptations and cross-applications. Get out there, read news, keep a finger on the pulse of the blogosphere for different perspectives that never make it to the mainstream and finally, read books, it's the only way to get your head out of the whirlwind of up-to-the-minute daily news.

Written for Dumb Little Man by Brandon who blogs with 4 other young professionals about "Work, Life and the pursuit of happiness"at NewlyCorporate.com.

0 How to Get Where you Want to Go

You could fill a small library with books about goal setting. It seems like every major self help program, writer, website, etc. all have an emphasis on goal setting. Don’t get me wrong, it is very important. But odds are you already know how to do it. You do it all the time, every time you get in the car!

Take a few moments to examine how you get to any place you want to go. This is the basic formula for goal setting.
  1. Where are you now?
    Even the very best maps, directions, or plans are useless if you have no idea where you are now. How can you possibly decide where you want to go if you don’t first realize you aren’t there now? How can you know which way to turn, what actions to take?

    It seems obvious, but this is the first major realization people must have before they can goal set. They have to realize there is a difference between where they want to be and where they are now. Many people choose to go through life without realizing the difference between where they are and someplace they would like to go, so they never goal set.

  2. Where do you want to go?
    Clearly define where it is that you want to go. Get the address! You have to be specific or you cannot make a plan for how to get there. At the same time you need to make sure it is a realistic destination. If you have one tank of gas and little other resources, a cross-country trip is probably not attainable.
    Goals must be specific and they must be measurable. You must be able to know exactly when you get there; otherwise it is just wishful thinking. Goals must also be achievable (challenging, but achievable). If you do not believe you can achieve it, you will not take the necessary actions.

  3. Ask for directions
    If you are going someplace new, it is always a good idea to get directions from someone who has been there before. They may know shortcuts, pitfalls to avoid, or other tips and tricks for getting there. This is a great way to avoid traffic!

    It is conventional wisdom that we learn from our mistakes. That is true enough but it is better to learn from other peoples’ mistakes. Find a mentor, someone who has done what you want to do and model them. Learn to think like they think, to act like they act…and you will achieve the results they achieved. If you do it right, you’ll get better results even faster than they did because you will avoid the mistakes they made.

  4. Make your plan
    Make your final decisions on how you are going to get there. What highway will you take? Where do you need to turn? If it is a big trip, you’ll want to break it down into smaller pieces. This is just setting up your directions, knowing which roads you will take, which way to turn when you get to some pre-defined turning point (a smaller goal).

    Sit down and write out what actions you need to take to get where you want to go. Start with the big steps and then go back through and flesh out details. If you want to change careers, you may need to go back to school…to go back to school you will need to pick a school, apply for financial aid, register for classes, buy books, etc.

  5. Take action
    Turn the key! You won’t get anywhere unless you actually take actions to get yourself there.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Will Rogers. He said that “even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there”. You have to take the first small step, then the next, then the next. Focus on the next step in the line; don’t let yourself get caught up in stuff far away on the horizon.

  6. Track your progress
    If you make a wrong turn, but you never check your map…what will happen? You will end up somewhere totally different from where you wanted to go. Odds are it will be an unpleasant place. You must frequently look for landmarks, check your map, and make sure that you are going the right way.

    Goals should have landmarks, too. You should plan in small victories so that you know you are on the right track. In our above school example, getting your acceptance letter from the school of your choice is a great landmark. So is getting your financial aid award letter, and so is getting your books. Take joy in these small victories, and reward yourself.

  7. Adjust as needed
    If you do make a wrong turn, backtrack to the last known “good” spot, and get back on the map. If need be, stop and ask directions. Don’t let yourself get used to where you ended up and decide it is good enough!

    We all make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up. Back up and try again or call your mentor and talk things over with them. Most people fail to reach their goals because they get halfway there, hit a setback, and just decide this is good enough.

There you have it; you have known how to do it all along. You just didn’t realize it. So go out and make your goals a reality!

has worked with sales, management, and not-for-profit for companies, helping their staff set goals, increase productivity, and meet goals, and manage their human resources. He is the owner of E-Motivate.com, and a frequent contributor to several websites.

0 Could You Survive a Major Disaster?

For many humans today, but certainly not all, life is quite cushy. The average life expectancy in the world today is 67.2 years. In the United States it is 78.2, 79.4 in the United Kingdom, and a world high of 82.6 in Japan. Compare this with the Ancient Greeks who lived an average of 18 years, the Puritans life expectancy of 33 years, and the average American life expectancy in 1900 was 49.2 years. There is still a lot of suffering and hardship in the world, but compared to our ancestors of only 100 years ago and beyond, life is very good.

Because we live in this golden age of relative ease, we worry about things our ancestors never did such as eating too much, not getting enough exercise, and the ultimate "getting things done" system. These everyday concerns distract us from thinking about and preparing for possible disasters. Now, large disasters don't happen that frequently, but when they do, they usually arrive without warning and often serve up a devastating blow. So the question is: Are you and your family prepared to survive if disaster strikes?

Below you will find links to articles on different types of disasters and how to survive them. The goal of this article is not to worry you about large events that can't be controlled, but rather to offer resources that can help you be somewhat prepared should disaster strike.

Survival Guides and Information:

Tsunami Survival by USGS.gov
Wikihow Tsunami Survival Guide

If you have any disaster or emergency preparedness resources you'd like to share, please leave a comment! Thanks!

Written for Dumb Little Man by K. Stone, author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. Popular articles are 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Financial Life and Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?

0 The IceCube and the Earth's Core

Will an astronomical machine buried in the ice of Antarctica someday reveal what the Earth's core really looks like?

[Image: The IceCube's surface workings, Antarctica; via New Scientist].

Last week, New Scientist reported that a neutrino detector called IceCube, once constructed, might just do exactly that.
Because the Earth rotates, we read, distant neutrino sources – such as black holes – will be blocked at certain predictable moments by the Earth's core; piecing together all these temporary blindspots, we can then infer the shape of the core itself.
It's an absence that generates absences elsewhere.

[Image: A schematic diagram of the IceCube].

The "machine" itself, meanwhile, is actually quite extraordinary: incredibly, it will "fill a cubic kilometre of ice" – and yet it's really a buried network of connected glass balls.
According to The Daily Galaxy, building the IceCube is less an act of construction than a kind of archaeology in reverse; the process will consist of entombing "glass-globed sensors the size of basketballs on 1-mile-long strings, 60 sensors per string, in 80 deep holes beneath the polar surface."
This will then allow scientists to develop, that same writer says, a "library of the universe" – something that would make even Borges proud.
So I'm left thinking of at least two things:
    1) In John Carpenter's 1983 remake of The Thing, a team of Norwegian researchers finds something buried in the ice of Antarctica; it turns out to be a spaceship... which, according to a later group of American scientists, must have been there for more than 100,000 years.
    It's frozen solid, and older than writing.
    But what if, down there in the ice someday, we find something not unlike the IceCube – only we didn't put it there, some vast and buried machine with no identifiable purpose, origin, or design?
    Or perhaps next year some lone helicopter pilot will go flying around, scanning the ice with radar, only to discover that what appears to be a geological formation is actually a machine, some ancient, hulking technology indistinguishable from bedrock... Or a machine made entirely from ice, still detecting the remnants of galaxies.
    Perhaps even telescopes dream.
[Image: A glimpse of the Transantarctic Range].
    2) I was joking with a friend the other day that Americans are always stumbling upon the face of Christ in unexpected places, and then ending up on CNN. They find Christ on a pancake, or on a piece of burned toast, or on an Eggo waffle (these sightings often involve breakfast foods), or even in the bark of a tree – and the people who discover these faces never once seem to think that what they're suggesting is sacreligious: God has sent unto you his only son... disguised as a croissant.
    But what if, after all the numbers are crunched and the maps are made, we find that the core of the Earth looks like the face of Jesus? What then? Nevadan entrepreneurs will suggest that we rescue it, digging it up with diamond drills, polishing it and storing it in a church somewhere.
    Imagine the core of the planet on display behind stained glass inside a cathedral near Paris, or down in an old consecrated basement in central Rome. Under armed guard. Why is there not more holy geology?
    Someone breaks in, using C4, a pair of infrared goggles, and a lot of rope, and they try to steal the center of the planet...
For more on the IceCube and Antarctic science in general give this article in The Economist a quick read – then check out NOVA's round-up of weird detectors.
Then, if you're looking for a good book on Antarctica itself, consider picking up a copy of Terra Antarctica: Looking into the Emptiest Continent by William L. Fox (a book previously mentioned on BLDGBLOG here).

Rabu, 28 November 2007

0 How to Spot Myths or Old Wives Tales from a Distance

An old wives tale is a politically incorrect term for a myth, disguised as wisdom. It has the sound of wisdom and the popular appeal of a good yarn, but it is not quite true.

Old Wives Tales are often found in trashy print magazines, in water cooler gossip, in conversations with well meaning friends and even amongst popular online life hacks. Old wives tales have been passing from person to person since way before the idea of "Viral ideas" went viral. They are popular, easy to remember, easy to pass on and they have the intriguing scent of insider knowledge. How can we tell the difference between an old wives tale and good, solid advice?

Here are 9 questions that you can use, to help you spot an Old Wives Tale from a distance:
  1. Is it likely that anyone would know this information? Think carefully about the details. Is it likely, or even possible, that information like this is known by anyone? There are some things that nobody knows yet.
    "The bloggers of today will be the blind people of 2020"
    Doesn't this sound factual and authoritative? The problem is that these sorts of messages are only predictions and guesses. To present them as facts is a mistake. But they do play on our fears don't they?

  2. Is there any way to test or verify it?
    "A mother should not leave the house for the first 90 days after giving birth. Otherwise she will be weak for the rest of her days".
    If this is true, where is the proof? It is an impossible theory to prove because it isn't specific enough to test. This is where Old Wives Tales gain popularity. While they are impossible to prove, they can sometimes be difficult to disprove.

  3. Is the source reliable? Who is telling you this information? Are they likely to know the truth about the subject? More importantly, if they are just passing on information, is their source reliable. A classic old wives tale will start with the phrase, "They say that...”. This is an attempt to sound authoritative without the onerous task of actually being authoritative.

    When someone tells you "They say that 60% of businesses fail in their first year and 95% of online businesses don't make it past 6 months" your alarm bells should start to ring. Who are They? Why don't they have a name? Can I contact them or refer to their research to see if their claim is correct?

  4. Does it match with reality? Sometimes there are opportunities for us to test Old Wives Tales in the real world. This happens when we can compare the claim with what we observe for ourselves.
    "If you let a baby cry itself to sleep, it will develop separation anxiety"
    Look at a few cases of children that have been allowed to cry themselves to sleep and see how they have developed. If you see examples that have grown up into well adjusted children, then you know the Old Wives Tale isn't as water tight as it sounds. A dozen cases cannot conclusively prove an old wives tale correct, but just one or two might disprove it.

  5. Is the Premise, the logic and the conclusion sound? What fact or theory is the Old Wives Tale based on? If the starting point is flawed then there is no point in believing the end point. Is the reasoning that joins the premise to the conclusion correct? Is the final conclusion a defensible result of the reasoning? Remember that any of these 3 components can be sound without the whole idea being correct.

  6. Is it overly simplified? Old Wives Tales are often just a watered down view of reality. Through many iterations and being passed from person to person, the inconvenient irregularity of real world truth has been neatened and abbreviated until it is scarcely useful.

    For example if someone tells you that you can form a new habit in 30 days, are they likely to be correct? It sounds believable, and it is definitely popular, but is it always true? In the real world, you have to take into account many other factors. It is more than just turning over a page on your calendar. The 30 days to a new habit is a classic Old Wives Tale because it includes a certain amount of truth but it has been packaged into a popular, but useless generalization.

  7. Does it account for context? One message may be true in one context, but it may be completely false in another. The worst Old Wives Tales have no reference to context. An unwary listener can try and apply an idea to the wrong context and end up with terrible results.

  8. Is it simply an opinion passed along as fact? Notice the difference between these 2 sentences.
    "I think that starting a corporate blog is the best way to market your business"
    "Without a corporate blog your marketing plan will be useless"
    Which is opinion and which claims to be fact? It is no surprise which one will get passed along as an Old Wives Tale. We have to be careful to distinguish between opinions and facts.

  9. Most importantly does it work and even more importantly, is it useful? There is no point in clinging to an Old Wives Tale if it isn't valuable. If it doesn't work or it isn't any use, then forget it. Leave it behind and continue your search.
Old Wives Tales are just one source of misinformation, but I believe that they are one of the most prevalent and dangerous. Practice spotting them from a distance and you will be able to avoid falling for their false wisdom.

Written for Dumb Little Man by Tom O'Leary. Tom is the author of LifeGoalAction, a site designed to help people make the most of their finest asset…their life.

0 Kill your TV Addiction

I don't watch a lot of TV. The Office, 24, Cubs/Bears games, and I that's about it. Don't get me wrong, I don't particularly think watching TV is detrimental to your life like some would have you believe. However, I do think that punching in for 5 hours per night is a little excessive.

If you are hooked on the tube and want to make some changes to your evening productivity levels in 2008, Ririan has a good primer to get your wheels turning.
"Nearly every household (99 percent in USA) has at least one TV and most have more. We spend hundreds of dollars per person for cable and satellite TV each year and watch the equivalent of about 70 days of television (more if you’re over 65)..."
His recent post includes 14 different ideas for you to consider. Is this even an issue anymore or is everyone sitting in front of YouTube or Dumb Little Man instead?

Getting Unplugged: How to Break the TV Habit at The Ririan Project

Selasa, 27 November 2007

0 Why Do You Give Gift Cards?

Maybe I am a little off here but I sort of agree with this statement:
"Here’s an idea. Let’s trade perfectly good money, and exchange it for something that serves the same purpose but has an expiration date, loses value over time, and can only be used at one store! Gift cards are the worst possible present you could give someone as a gift!"
In his article at American Consumer News, Matthew Paulson goes into the reasons we're all giving gift cards as well as the message it's sending to the recipient. You are either admitting that you have no creativity in your body or worse:
"When you buy someone a gift card, you are sending them a message that you know how to manage their money better than they are, and should be able to decide which store they spend the money you give them at."
So, here is the question. Do you give gift cards? If so, is it simply because it's more convenient for you? Don't feel bad, that is my reasoning. Perhaps I will begin thinking twice.

Gift Cards are the Worst Possible Present to Buy Someone This Christmas at American Consumer News

0 FoodTube: Video Cooking Tutorials and Recipes

FootTubeI am all about home cooking. The hours often expire before I have a chance to really prepare a "meal", but nevertheless, cooking is fun to me and I wish I had more time to do it.

This is why I was pretty excited to see a new site emerge. The site FoodTube is what you'd think. It's a YouTube clone but it's twist is that it's all about cooking new dishes and experimenting with recipes. In fact, some of the tutorials are actually embedded from YouTube or from other cooking sites. Add the user submitted tutorials and you have a pretty comprehensive resource.

I can see this becoming a pretty large destination for wannabe cooks or for those simply wanting to eat a little healthier by cooking at home.


0 Algae Power

[Image: Algae balloon communities in Iceland by the Philadelphia-based 202 Collaborative].

A few years ago I audited a course about Archigram at the University of Pennsylvania, just something to do on a Wednesday morning before I went to work – but one of the things that indirectly came out of that experience was BLDGBLOG. It's interesting to note, then, that one of the other people in that class now writes Brand Avenue; another's work was featured here on BLDGBLOG last year; and, this morning, another course attendee emailed to point out a proposal that he's helped assemble and conceptualize, about hydrogen-powered urban design in Iceland.

[Image: Algae balloons and the houses they serve, by the 202 Collaborative].

That project, originally intended for a design competition, imagines carefully engineered algae ponds and balloons of hydrogen gas fueling the Icelandic city of the future.
It's Icelandic New Energy (INE).

[Image: An Icelandic hydrogen economy, outlined by the 202 Collaborative; view larger].

As the designers note:
    It has long been known that algae produce small amounts of hydrogen as a byproduct of photosynthesis. In 1999, researchers in Berkeley observed that algae alternate between hydrogen production and normal photosynthesis depending on the chemical environment. Depriving algae of oxygen and sulfur, the researchers greatly increased the hydrogen production and triggered the algae to produce hydrogen for an extended period of time. Another research group also discovered that algae will sustain simultaneous production of hydrogen and oxygen from water by illuminating the algae and depriving it of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Researchers estimate that a small pond (1.5 acre or 10 meter diameter) will produce enough hydrogen on a weekly basis to fuel 12 cars.
Of course, a part of me wonders if this whole thing would be easier to solve if we just got rid of those 12 cars – but I understand that that wasn't the point of this design exercise.

[Image: 202 Collaborative].

However, referring to things beyond the scope of this project, a part of me does find it a bit depressing that we'll go to all these lengths – we'll totally redesign the industrial base of society – only to jump back into our Escalades and drive out to buy organic cotton Christmas mittens at the local Baby Gap.
It seems like an awfully long distance to go to get nowhere, in other words. After all of this, we'll do the exact same things, outshopping one another on greengoods.com and parking our solar-powered sustainable sports cars somewhere in that sprawling tangle of garages and freeways that we never disassembled out back.
Everything will be recycled, yet everything will be the same.
We'll watch internet sitcoms and judge each other's social value by the hemp dresses that our girlfriends wear.
In any case, that's a pet peeve of mine that deals with things well outside of the project featured here.

[Image: A broader view of the plan by the 202 Collaborative; view much larger].

These renderings are gorgeous, meanwhile, and they lead me to wonder what Archigram would be doing today, if they had grown up designing in a world powered by alternative fuels. What strange new worlds of hydrogen balloons and algae ponds extending off past the urban horizon might we then see?
Crops harvested from the roofs of brick tenements in north Philly. Steel frameworks of solar concentration arrays visible in the cracks between buildings as we step over bio-boulevards and water filtration systems on our way to work.
Vast harddrives made entirely from milled crystal move glass elevators floor by floor through the environment ministry, carrying cloned medicinal plant samples up to their examination chambers...
All narratives of the future are fair game when you're talking about architectural design.
Anywho, although their site is still under construction, be sure to stop by the homepage of the 202 Collaborative.

(Thanks, Patrick!)

0 Three Communication Tips that Will Take You to the Top

Business bookshelves are groaning under the weight of how-to books on leadership, communication, management, emotional intelligence and giving feedback.

As I work with organizations across the spectrum and watch who gets promoted and who gets passed over, I’ve noticed just a handful of core assets that are consistently sought out and rewarded.
  • Magic Asset #1: Forget giving feedback. Get good at receiving it.
    There is so much focus on how to give feedback. Surprisingly, there is little discussion of how to receive it. Yet it’s those who actively seek and respond well to feedback who tend to move up in organizations.

    The people around you have all kinds of thoughts about what you do well, and what you really need to improve upon. Though they’ll talk to others about you at the slightest provocation, they’re not likely to tell it to you. In fact, you may be the last to know about the little tic that’s driving others nuts or holding you back.

    If you can have a sense of humor and a genuine curiosity about what you may need to work on, you can get free career advice and coaching from people who have a wealth of experience both with you and how you impact others. You don’t have to follow all their advice, but others will admire your self-confidence and notice your improvements, which will also earn you respect.

  • Magic Asset #2: Take responsibility for your mistakes – early and often.
    Fearing blame or simply embarrassment, we often hide our mistakes or oversights. Didn’t call the client back? Claim you’ve been playing “phone tag.” Forgot to ship the materials on time? Get them out and silently hope for the best. Right?

    Wrong. Lying or trying to hide information about your missteps risks your most valuable asset – your reputation and people’s willingness to trust you. Better to own up to mistakes quickly, and fix them, demonstrating that you’re accountable and reliable and eager to learn.

  • Magic Asset #3: Bring your feelings to work (seriously).
    In an attempt to be “professional,” most of us strive to stay calm, rational and task oriented. We pretend we don’t have feelings while at work.

    But, of course, everyone has emotional reactions as we sit in meetings, read our email, and respond to the latest crises. Ironically, an attempt to hide or stifle those feelings is exactly what leads us to act in ways that are deemed “inappropriate” or “unprofessional.” Sarcasm, nastiness, petty sniping, yelling, crying, spamming – all these are the outward manifestations of anxiety, frustration, fear, guilt, hurt or helplessness leaking out while we’re trying to hold them in.

    It’s better to name your feelings – calmly and thoughtfully – than to let them drive you to being emotional. “I’m frustrated this is taking so long,” “I’m confused about why we keep going in circles,” or “I’m impatient because I’ve got a deadline looming – can I call you back?” All these are better and more competent than simply acting frustrated, impatient or confused.

    Nobody promotes that guy.
Written for Dumb Little Man by Sheila Heen, a communication expert. She has been featured on Oprah, been on CNBC's Power Lunch, is the co-author of best selling "Difficult Conversations" and is a Harvard Law School lecturer. To read more of Sheila’s tips for effective communication, visit Have The Talk America where Sheila is a primary contributor.

Senin, 26 November 2007

0 Study in Mass

[Image: Boutique Monaco by Mass Studies; view larger].

I've mentioned architect Minsuk Cho, of Mass Studies, on BLDGBLOG before: he designed the so-called "ring dome" for the Storefront for Art and Architecture's Z-A event last month in New York City, and he collaborated with Jeffrey Inaba's SCI-FI studio to propose an "urban district above the water" in Seoul.
I'd say that Mass Studies is hard to beat for sheer spatial interest and originality; witness their Torque House, Pixel House, or Cheongam Media Headquarters, for instance – let alone the famously freaky Seoul Commune 2026.

[Images: Three rendered views of the building's lobby and ground level exterior].

Or take a look at the Boutique Monaco, pictured here.
The Monaco is "a high-density, massive building for residential/office/commercial/cultural activities to be located in the heart of the Seoul metropolitan life, the area around Gangnam station."

[Images: Day and night renders of the project's exterior, complete with punctuated vertical bays of greenery and residential terracing; view both the top and bottom images larger].

As Mass Studies explains:
    Unlike the existing high-rises where one is segregated from the outside world as soon as he [or she] leaves the ground floor, Boutique Monaco will be a building where at each level will be a vertical open space accessible from different spots in the floor. The exterior, designed in an orthogonal pattern in the interest of efficiency in space allocation, is intended to strike a balanced harmony with the surrounding box-type high-rises.
Further: "In the plan for Boutique Monaco, around 172 units are created in 49 different types and sizes and interconnected as if in an enormous puzzle. At the same time, different types of internal/external, private/public areas are to be installed."
You can see some of the building's floorplans here.

[Image: A kind of rooftop park and bioscape, complete with what appears to be a helipad].

The project can be seen in renderings, drawings, and diagrams on the Mass Studies website – but also now in photographs.
The building is under construction even as this post is being written, and it should be open for inhabitation by late summer 2008.

[Image: The Boutique Monaco under construction; view larger].

Meanwhile, I don't mean to uncritically promote the actions of a property developer in Seoul; nor do I wish to suggest that because this building has a few trees growing out of it that it's "green."
But I do have to say that I like 1) the project's use of materials (the wood cladding inside the vegetated nooks is especially brilliant), 2) the punctuated bays themselves, which break up the facade in a really great way and add a spatially and experientially inspired dimension to the project, and 3) the diagonal bracing, however ornamental and non-structural it may be, of the podium. We may be seeing more and more of these sorts of structural weavings – but that's because they're cool.

[Image: Bracing at the base of the Boutique Monaco; view larger].

For other projects by Mass Studies, check out their archives.

0 Boost Your WiFi Signal for $1

If you have a wireless internet connection at home and your signal fades, this video is for you. I am quite positive there are other ways of doing this but for under $1, this is worth a try. I would however recommend rolling the cans' edges or doing something to cover the sharp edges. A papercut-type wound from an aluminum can is pretty darn painful!

Also, I can foresee the need for you to play with with the aim of the cans a little until you reach the maximum signal in the area you are trying to cater to.

You may also want so strongly consider taking steps to secure your wireless network to keep the nosy neighbors off your network! Thanks Jordan - good idea.


I think I've suddenly lost my ability to bloggggggggggg!!!

I don't have anything interesting happening to me recently that doesn't involve the privacy of other people (which means I can't blog about it), and my life has settled into a flat boring plateau of comfort.

OKOK I know...

I shall blog about my (closer) girlfriends!!

Here's their birthdays:


Kaykay: March 11th

Eileen: March 8th


Qing qing: April 2nd

Shuyin: April 19th

Huifen: April 23rd

Gillian: April something (it's not stated on her facebook -_-)


June: June 1st

Rosalyn: June 20th

Wanyi: June 21st

Eekean: June 21st

FUNNY HOR?! It appears I can like my girls to be either from the star signs Pisces, Aries, Taurus or Gemini!

Of course I have other female friends who didn't fall in these signs but I guess I'm not that close to them as those mentioned here.

My female friends are all mostly born in the first half of the year, and almost all my closer guy friends are born in the second half (with the exception of maybe Ming)...

I wonder if the astrology horoscope shit works, or maybe it's just a coincidence? Do people who have their birthdays close to each other tend to have similar traits?

Do your friends have birthdays all close to each other?

Food for thought.

Speaking of food, I'm now fucking fat! I'm like 45kg, which is a 2 or 3 kg disparity from my usual of 42/43, and I'm telling you that 45kg is fucking fat for my height!!


I saw Shuyin yesterday and she is DAMN skinny lor! I can see her ribcage all! She went to Shanghai and thought she'd binge there so she asked the doctor for appetite suppressant pills, and in the end she didn't binge in Shanghai so she now looks like a chopstick lor...

I told Mike my intentions to go get those pills too, and to my surprise he told me he also has those pills and he got them for his first trip to Singapore when he was super scared that I would think he is fat!

So just now, I ate a pill, and kuku bird! It doesn't work lor!

According to both Shuyin and Mike, the pills are supposed to:

- Increase your heartbeat rates (coz metabolism increases)

- Give you insommia (very unfortunate side-effect)

- Obviously make you not crave for food

Not only did I fall asleep on my bed 2 hours later (took a short nap) with an indifferently beating heart, I woke up to raving hunger pangs (at 2 am when I ate a full dinner at 8pm) and ate 8 egg tofus and 4 deep-fried spring rolls (which I cleverly ta bao-ed from Kelvin's bdae catering).


I'm super upset lor!

Am I destined to use photoshop to lose weight for the rest of my life??

At that rate of eating no wonder fat...


I know what else I can blog about!

I shall blog about typical reader comments which pissed me off recently...

I'm not quoting them word for word but these are the essential meanings to what they said:

1) You can lie about staying in a condo but I know you are not! Your room's layout is exactly the same as mine, and I stay in a HDB flat! And your princess room is so small, it can't be a condo.


Excuse me, but why would I lie about staying in a dumbass condo? It's just a two-room condo in the very end of Singapore - it's not bloody Beverly Hills, so the puny bit of prestige is not even worth my effort to lie.

I've openly told everybody before that I used to stay in a 3-room flat in Teban Gardens, the armpit of Singapore, so why would I have a change of character and decide to lie about my lodgings?

It really pisses me off when people accuse me of things due to their own stupid ridiculous presumptions. Pisses me off even more when other stupid people believe these stupid people!

I'm sorry that your room is the size of my Princess Room, but I'd like to inform you that the "Princess Room" is only one-half of the rather large master bedroom...

Ok this is going nowhere.

2) I can't believe we are paying you but you are still not blogging after so long!


You mean like giving me MONEY?


When did you ever pay me ANY money at all?

All you did was to read this site due to your own boredom/kpo-ness, and I DON'T OWE YOU ANY-FUCKING-THING.

If you don't like my tardiness in blogging, just fuck off, will ya?

I hope you get herpes.

3) Mike hasn't left you yet?

Nope... If he ever does I'll be sure to write about it, so you all can gloat and be marginally happier than what you usually are... because your own life is so miserable and sad. Sucks to be you, huh?

4) You (and Qihua) totally look like prostitutes blah blah blah.

Oh wow, you are SUCH AN INSULT GENIUS! I said I was mistaken for a hooker, and therefore, the insult you should say is that I do look like a hooker!

*roll eyes* Oh my, I am so hurt!

I don't care if you think I look like a hooker.

Girls would say that because they are incapable of dressing up like Qihua and I did, or even if they did, it would look shitty coz they are butt-plug ugly.

Guys would say that because they know that hooker-resembling or not, girls like Qihua and I would never fuck them, and it makes them bitter to see self-confident, vain girls.

That's why I always say, ugly people with self-esteem issues are the most annoying.

5) You are so ugly next to Qihua. You are so fat and fake and she is so pretty and natural.

When I told Qihua about this comment, she laughed and said she'd like to tell you guys that she has on eyelash extensions, hair extensions and of course make-up, so what's there to be so "natural" about?

I think it is very ludicrous that these unknown netizens have the nerve and audacity to comment on famous people's looks, because you are probably a sad, timid low-life in real life who would never even dare to speak to me.

Am I right? Would you tell me in my face that I am ugly, and not have me not have the immediate ready retort that you are hideous yourself?

I also don't care that you think Qihua is prettier than me, which she is... and there is nothing much I can do about that, unless I splash some concentrated acid on her face, which I won't because if she turns ugly she'd stop being so vain and I'd like her less.

What's your point in making an obvious comment like that? Are you trying to hurt me? Ruin friendships, perhaps?

It won't work, coz I only care that Mike thinks I'm hot and that I think I'm hot, so those two are satisfied and thus, nothing else really matters! :)

I understand the pleasure of insulting me though, because let's face it, if tomorrow Britney Spears has a blog too, I'd love to insult her and know that I am important enough to make someone as famous as Britney feel hurt.

Me, insignificant Wendy, managed to evoke emotions in the famous Britney Spears!

Complimenting someone is uncool and probably won't get you any attention; insults on the other hand might get you a reaction and not only seems outspoken and brave, but also sort of praises yourself at the same time (ie saying someone is stupid is also saying you are cleverer than that person)!

Insults are the no-brainer choice.

Whatever, dudes.


Some photos I edited sorta for facebook.

Kaykay and I dressed up as Fafi!!

You won't believe how vain we are lor... We were du lan that we missed Halloween (and a chance to dress up), so one day, I just decided to jio Qihua to come over and take photos and she did... bringing with her an entourage of wigs, socks, and even a box of candy canes and a purple puff for what she called "props".

Lookit! My crazily thick eyelash extensions that have lasted for more than 2 weeks now! Never drop at all!! Call Carragheen at 68849924 if you wanna do too. There are different types of lashes (from $62 to $130) so if you want mine make sure you let them know you want Xiaxue's lashes.

Matchy matchy socks we bought in HK

I'm not including Kaykay's individual shots coz I want more attention on me, thanks! (at least I admit it lor...)

Random shots:

With Mike... in the second pic he took me out for fine(ish) dining! Which is very uncharacteristic of him... I love you bb!!

With my smelly bff

Me, photoshopped to death

Please don't ask me where I bought my colour contacts hor! You'd be horrified (and rather impressed) to know that I DID NOT WEAR CONTACTS AT ALL.

The light brown colour is purely done by photoshop. :D

Li hai or not! Just goes to show you can't trust any photo online at all!

0 5 Simple Steps to Power Up Your Productivity

Do you ever get frustrated with your level of productivity? I know that I do. Whenever I feel a slowdown happening I employ this productivity technique and it has never failed me. On average, I would estimate that I get at least a 3-fold boost in productivity every time I use it.

Here's how you can boost your productivity too!

1. Energy Check. Make sure that you're not exhausted. If your productivity is suffering because you have an uncontrollable urge to sleep, then I suggest you click here to find out how to take a nap at work. Do this first and then come back to the remaining steps once you've refreshed your energy. You could also refresh your energy with a quick 5-10 minute brisk walk, jumping jacks, or power stretching at your desk.

2. Timer. Get a timer of some sort even if it is an analog kitchen timer. If you work on the computer here is an online timer and here is a timer that you can download. If you work on the go, then you could use a digital watch countdown timer or your cell phone timer.

3. Plan Your Day. This step is crucial considering the amount of distractions we all encounter everyday, and it's not that hard. Just take 5-10 minutes to brainstorm your day. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center of the page. Create your blueprint for the day on one side of the center line. Label one side "To-Do" and the other side "Done." Write out the things you want to do today. Prioritize them and then set realistic time frames for their completion. Be sure to schedule in buffer and transition time. Schedule the most important tasks first. And leave time at the end of the day for processing your inbox and capture notebook.

4. 30 Minute Productivity Parcels. OK, here's the real juice of this technique. Set your timer to go off every 30 minutes. When it goes off, get up from what you are doing and take your blueprint for the day and your capture notebook with you. Go somewhere else. Take 3 minutes to review what you've accomplished in the last 30 minutes. Write down the main things you've done in the "Done" column and review where you need to be according to your daily plan. You might even want to take a moment to do a quick stretch while you're up. When you go back to your work, adjust your focus accordingly or just continue to crank if you are already in line with your blueprint for the day.

5. Distractions and Unplanned Interruptions. Running your day according to a plan is all well and good, but each of us know that every day presents roadblocks to completing our plans. Here's how to handle them:
Distractions: As you come up with ideas that you want to take action on or remember later, write them in your capture notebook/device that you should carry with you at all times. Leave time at the end of each day to either process or assign what you've captured to a task list, project list, or a reference file.
Interruptions: Anytime you are interrupted, take a split second to determine how you should handle it. Place these questions next to your usual workspace to help remember them:
  • Is this interruption more important than what I am doing right now?
  • Should I:
    • Do it?
    • Delegate it?
    • Defer it?
    • Delete it?
Usually an interruption involves a person approaching you or calling you. Have some standard responses ready.
  • "I'll be finished with this task in X minutes. May I get back to you then?" (If it is your boss, you may want to throw in a line about how your current task is aligned with your team's number one goal.)
  • "I'm unable to speak with you about that right now as I have a deadline on my current task at hand. May I get back to you at time X when I can give you my undivided attention?"
  • "Those requests are now being handled by X. Would you like their number or an introduction? Person A is a good contact there."
  • "I'm sorry to say that I can't help you with that request right now. I can help steer you in the right direction at my next break."
That's it. You can start right now! Let us know how it works for you and your comments!

Written for Dumb Little Man by K. Stone, author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. Popular articles are Lose Belly Fat - Is It Really Possible? and Quantum Leap: What’s Your Next Big Thing?

0 If you Die, Is Your Money Mapped?

If I died tomorrow I can honestly say that my wife would have a hard time navigating through the spider web of bank accounts, insurance policies, and 401k plans that I'd leave behind. No, it's not because they are worth a lot, it's because I don't have a map telling her where everything is located.

I am very unorganized with after-death planning and there really is no excuse for it. It's time to make a change.

An article on Bankrate states:

"The biggest single mistake is avoiding the subject altogether. There are a couple of reasons that people do that. For one, it's not fun and I can't make it fun. Secondly it's procrastination, (caused by) fear of thinking about your own mortality," says Clifford.

I know I can't be alone in this and I am already convinced that it's time for me to create a plan. If you need convincing, here are 8 mistakes from Bankrate. Clicking on a link will take you to their site for an explanation.
  1. Stay ignorant about the process
  2. Be clueless about the role of wills
  3. Put your kid's name on the deed
  4. Dawdle indefinitely
  5. Don't trust trusts
  6. Leave messy financial records
  7. Give your ex-spouse a parting gift
  8. Let others figure out what you want
So if you don't have any strategy outlined for your assets, what's the reason? I am committing to having everything in place by the end of this year. I obviously don't like the thought of my death but it's time to face the music and get this one done.

Minggu, 25 November 2007

0 Architecture by Accident

[Image: This post was originally published last winter in Blend, translated into Dutch].

Last winter The New York Times reported on a surprising growth industry in the United States: the physical relocation of old houses.
This is the somewhat surreal activity of transporting entire, intact buildings from one place to another, often over more than one hundred miles.
A single-family home, for instance, will be "jacked up" – like a car with a flat tire – so that "long steel beams" can be inserted between the house and its foundations. Very slowly, the house is then disconnected from the surface of the earth and loaded onto the back of a lorry.
If you think that sounds easy, however, bear in mind that some houses "have to be broken into two or more pieces" during this process and the roofs must often be removed. Removing the roofs streamlines the structures for highway transport, allowing them "to pass under power lines, bridges and trees" as they make their way to a new location. After all, as one whole house relocation client jokes: "The last thing you want is to show up one morning and find they’ve lopped off a room during the night."

[Image: Photo by Stewart Cairns for The New York Times].

Transporting an intact house along the American interstate highway system can take several days. Worse, it can "cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars." One such relocation job was so complex, the article explains, that it "required the bulldozing of a temporary access road," and that was simply to remove the structure from its original plot of land.
But, even then, the troubles aren’t over.
After a house has been installed on its new foundation, it might need to be re-assembled – and this means "putting the house back together from thousands of pieces" while carefully following page after page of engineering notes, photographs, drawings, and detailed architectural plans so that you don’t put anything back in the wrong place.

[Image: Photo by James Edward Bates for The New York Times].

My first thought when I read this was of all those dinosaur skeletons now standing silently in museums around the world. What if someone, somewhere, got something wrong? What if they used the wrong skull on the wrong spine – or they attached the wrong leg, the wrong jawbone – and so the whole bodily form needs to put together again, perhaps with pieces from other dinosaurs in other museums far away?
Because what if your house gets moved three hundred miles but the bedroom is inadvertently attached to the wrong floor? Or two entire houses get mixed up along the way – what strange new architectural styles might result?
These are more than rhetorical questions.
Just last week, for instance, Christopher Hawthorne wrote a short article for the L.A. Times about a single family house that literally crashed onto the side of a freeway in Los Angeles.

[Image: Photo-illustration by Aaron Goodman for the L.A. Times].

Soon known as the Freeway House, "the single-story structure had been on its way from Santa Monica to Santa Clarita a few weeks ago, riding atop a trailer, when it smashed into an overpass and came to rest on the shoulder of the 101 in the Cahuenga Pass."
It then just sat there.
For 10 days.

[Image: Photo by John Fuentes, found via the L.A. Times].

It was an uncannily accurate, if entirely unintentional, comment on life in today's Los Angeles: a house stranded on the side of a freeway, with no context or human history in sight.
But what, I might ask, would have happened if the Freeway House had not crashed into a bridge but into another tractor trailer, carrying another house, and those two structures had then merged – even if only temporarily, in mid-air, a kind of post-deconstructive act of architecture lasting mere milliseconds in a cloud of debris above the L.A. freeway system – and then a third building, and a fourth...?
Soon architecture schools are teaching their students as much about car crashes as they are about CAD.
In this context, perhaps the crash could be a future strategy for architectural design: load the Taj Mahal, the Vatican, something by Mies, and an entire American suburb onto three dozen lorries, then crash them all together on a remote German autobahn. Photograph the results.
J.G. Ballard would be proud.
In any case, the whole-house relocation industry would have it so much easier if residential structures were built to move in the first place. The internal structure of a building could incorporate wheels, pulleys, gears, and other machine parts, thus allowing the house to be reconfigured, even geographically relocated. A building could simply attach itself to the local railroad tracks and slip away…
You report your house missing – but Interpol soon finds it: its windows have been smashed and it's covered in graffiti, and it's sitting next to a road outside Thessaloniki.
It misses you.

[Image: Corb v2.0 by Andrew Maynard].

With these thoughts in mind, then, I got an email from Australian architect Andrew Maynard announcing a new project that he and his office had just finished putting together.
Maynard’s Corb v2.0 is a speculative housing complex that serves to update Le Corbusier’s old idea of the house as “a machine for living in” – and Maynard takes that statement to its logical extreme.
He proposes permanently incorporating a cargo container-stacking machine into a new residential suburb. The machine would thus rearrange all the houses on a near-continual basis.

[Images: Two views of Corb v2.0 by Andrew Maynard].

If a family doesn’t like where their home is located, they simply wait another day: “Yesterday this was a penthouse apartment on the other end of the complex,” Maynard explains. “Today the family has returned to find it on the ground floor.”
You can move up, down, left, right – even turn 180º around and face the other direction. You see sunset instead of sunrise, or a forest instead of a lake.

[Images: Three more views of Corb v2.0 by Andrew Maynard].

As Maynard describes it, this gigantic, crane-like stacking machine would smoothly glide back and forth over lines of “movable housing modules.” Residents could wake up to find themselves elsewhere, perhaps closer to the parking lot; neighbors would always have new neighbors.
This way, “everyone gets a penthouse as often as they get a ground level apartment” – which has the effect of “transforming traditional real estate valuations.”

[Image: Corb v2.0 by Andrew Maynard].

Taking this yet further, though, I'd suggest that we need more than isolated clusters of container-homes, each connected to one stacking machine. We need thousands of these things, aligned in continuous routes like train tracks, connecting neighborhoods, cities, countries, and continents. A house in the U.S. soon shows up in Mexico; a house in Utrecht moves to Sri Lanka. Immigration laws are rewritten, with complex architectural sub-rules. Customs officials the world over are required to take summer classes at SCI-Arc. Criminal homeowners shift back and forth across the International Date Line, avoiding taxes – while astronauts look down at great crowds of houses: whole cities migrating in a web across the earth.
Every once in a while, though, kicking off new schools of architectural thought and theory, there is a Great Accident. Architects stop reading Paul Virilio to concentrate on derailing entire cities...

(For more Andrew Maynard on BLDGBLOG see Unhinged and treeborne. For more posts that originally appeared in Blend, meanwhile, don't miss Fossil Rivers, The Weather Emperors, Urban Knot Theory, Abstract Geology, Wreck-diving London, and The Helicopter Archipelago).
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