Rabu, 30 April 2008

0 The Architecture of Ascent

In what would merely have been an article about camping equipment in almost any other situation, revamped Italian architecture magazine Abitare recently took a fascinating look at portable mountain climbing shelters.

[Image: From an article by Jonathan Olivares, in Abitare; view much larger!].

Viewed architecturally, these examples of high-tech camping gear – capable of housing small groups of people on the vertical sides of cliffs, as if bolted into the sky – begin to look like something dreamed up by Archigram: nomadic, modular, and easy to assemble even in wildly non-urban circumstances. This is tactical gear for the spatial expansion of private leisure.
There are about a million implications here – including, at the very least, the question of whether or not architects should be involved in designing tents for North Face or for REI. If Zaha Hadid can design desk lamps and Frank Gehry, jewelry – and Michael Graves, teapots – then why can't, say, Jean Nouvel design a new series of outdoor recreational equipment, including tents, portaledges, platforms, and hammocks?
In fact, Jonathan Olivares, the author of the piece, describes the invention of the portaledge as follows: "Drawing from hammocks, cots, tents and sail construction, a generation of climber-designers invented a new typology: the portaledge." As such, the portaledge already has a fascinating design genealogy – one that includes the B.A.T. tent, the LURP, so-called "Cliff Dwellings" equipment, and tube-framed, waterproof tepees – but get some architects involved with this and see what happens.
Unless, of course, this is yet another case where architects have fallen behind the other design fields, too obsessed with accurately quoting Gilles Deleuze to notice that the world has been revolutionized. All sorts of amazing new tools, techniques, materials, shapes, and spaces were being framed and even mass-manufactured out there, for decades, but architects were all cooped up, underlining things for each other in the library.

[Image: Another spread from Abitare, an article by Jonathan Olivares; view larger!].

In any case, I suppose one could say that this tent, below, the Dyad 22 by North Face, looks vaguely like some sort of microlight architectural folly designed by Neil Denari for the beaches of Southern California –

[Image: The Dyad 22 by North Face].

– and these tents, the Domes 5 and 8, also by North Face, look like, say, Buckminster Fuller in collaboration with Shigeru Ban. Or: if Buckminster Fuller and Shigeru Ban came together to franchise the design of London's Serpentine Pavilion one summer, perhaps this is what they would make.
Leading to the question: are tents an example of franchise architecture?

[Image: The Dome 5 and Dome 8 by North Face].

So why aren't architects involved, as far as I'm aware, in the portable, modular architecture market known as high-end camping gear?
You ascend to the top of Mt. Everest... sleeping in a tent by Greg Lynn. Your sleeping bag is by OMA. Your best friend is comfortably slumbering beside you in a tent designed by LOT-EK.

[Images: Two spreads from Abitare; view larger: top and bottom].

But Abitare's article also implies something like the opposite of what I've written above: in other words, if high-tech camping gear used for vertical mountain ascents is actually a form of architectural technology, and thus worthy of being covered and critiqued by architecture magazines, then architects themselves should find more uses for such gear in their designs.
Rather than design camping gear, then, they should design with camping gear, filling private homes and office high-rises with unexpected tent-like rooms and rapidly deployed nylon conference facilities. You carry your boardroom around in your briefcase, installing it up on the roof when summer allows.
Or, perhaps, you construct a 21-story bare steel frame somewhere on an empty lot in New York City. It has no walls or floors; it is just a vast and abstract grid of I-beams, welded throughout with anchorage points. Using portaledges and tents, the inhabitants of this empty frame, like people from a fever dream by Yona Friedman or Constant, come in and colonize the structure, installing themselves at odd angles with carabiners and clips, bungee cords and tactical ropes, paying rent only on the spatial volume that the resulting structures occupy. $10 per cubic foot.
The grid – the structure – is taken care of. Architecture becomes nothing but the process of designing better tents. Flexible interiors. Sewn space.
So is high-tech 21st century camping gear exactly what the 1960s architectural avant-garde had been looking for? The portaledge as vertical utopia.

[Image: Spatial City by Yona Friedman: "The framework was to be erected first, and the residences conceived and built by the inhabitants inserted into the voids of the structure." Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art].

To a certain extent, though, this reminds me of my experience just last week as a judge for the Design Village 2008: Mission to Mars competition, photographs of which can be found here. With some obvious exceptions, that contest gave us the tent as avant-garde – and even extra-planetary – architecture. In one case, it was the tent as full-fledged micronation, flirting with new definitions of political sovereignty.
Perhaps 2009 will be the year tent design explodes across architecture schools, worldwide.
Given zero insurance liability, then, could you arrange for a new, annual architecture competition, sponsored by REI, the point of which is to ascend Yosemite's Half Dome or El Capitan using only home-made, microlight portaledge technology? If you fall, you lose. You have to make it to the top within seven days – and you have to stay there for another three.
Then you have to make it back down.

[Image: From Abitare; view larger].

All these instant cities of tents and portaledges, moving up and down mountainsides around the world, like Walking Cities, the urban condition gone nomadic – the new, vertical suburb, till now so architecturally underexplored.

(Original articles curated by Anniina Koivu. With huge thanks to Fabrizio Gallanti from Abitare for emailing me the page spreads!)

0 Realizing Success Through Empowerment

Written on 4/30/2008 by David B. Bohl, the author of Slow Down Fast.

So many times when things go badly in our lives we find ourselves wondering how we ended up in such a bad situation, or who is to blame. These are self-defeating mindsets that limit our ability to recover, or to succeed.

Instead of developing a defeatist attitude when something goes awry, try to adjust to a mindset that allows you to empower yourself. Empowerment, in turn, leads to greater success. It allows you to learn from your mistakes, be thankful for your accomplishments, and move on.

The next time you find yourself in a mess and wondering how or why you got there, try looking at some of the more positive aspects of your particular situation.
  • Realize What You Have Learned: They say every dark cloud has a silver lining and part of becoming empowered means learning to find the good in every situation. Ask yourself what you have learned from your individual situation which in turn will prevent you from making the same mistakes in the future.

    Ask yourself how you allowed the situation to unfold the way it did. Examine all angles to determine how you might have contributed to the outcome.

    Also take a look at the positive aspects of what has happened. In some ways you may have benefited from what otherwise appears to be a bad situation. You may have gained invaluable knowledge or experience, found an inner strength you did not know you had, or forged new relationships in the process. Always take the time to look for the good in everything you do.

  • Determine Where You Want to Go: Ask yourself what your goals are. Where do you want to be? What do you want to achieve? Before you can take action, you must know where you want to go. Decide on both long and short term goals, and develop a plan for reaching them.

    In your planning, decide which things are worthy of your attention, and which things are only detractors from you reaching your goals. This allows you to focus on those positive behaviors or actions that bring you closer to success, and allow you to filter out those things that slow you down or prevent you from achieving your goals.

    Also determine what you need to change in order to succeed. You may need to develop new habits, form new relationships, or let go of destructive relationships. In addition to deciding upon the changes you need to make, you need to ask yourself if you are ready to change. You may have an overriding goal in mind, but you may not yet be mentally ready to achieve that goal. Examine your feelings to determine if you have any insecurities or fears relating to your success that may be hindering you.

  • Give Something Back: Take a moment to take stock of the successes you have had so far, then consciously be grateful for them. This will lighten your spirit and give you strength and motivation. By realizing we have things in our lives that are worthy of thanks, it helps keep us from becoming mired down in self pity. Be thankful and be happy for the gifts you have.

    Next, ask what you can give to others. Even if it does not directly correlate to your goal, the act of giving is greatly empowering. Whether you offer a helping hand to someone in need, offer guidance to someone in the office, help an overburdened colleague with an assignment, donate to the needy, or befriend someone who is feeling lonely, the act of giving has its own rewards that will lift your spirits and renew your energy.
By taking definite actions that foster a positive mindset, you can overcome adversities that stand between you and your goals. It is far too easy to become discouraged by setbacks and become a victim of fate rather than an active participant in your life. When circumstances deal you a blow, do not sit back and ask, “Why me?” Instead, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What next?” A slight shift in attitude can keep your motivation and spirits high, and lead you down that road to success.


0 Save Cash and Earth: Start a Garden

Written on 4/30/2008 by Shelly DeVous.

Listen to Al Gore and you believe our earth in is a perilous position and we all must work to reduce our carbon footprint. But is there anything one person can do to really have an effect on climate conditions?

Michael Pollen’s recent New York Times article asks, “Why bother?” Pollen doesn’t just pose the question, he also provides an answer; plant a garden:
The idea is to find one thing to do in your life that doesn’t involve spending or voting, that may or may not virally rock the world but is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards.
It’s an admirable suggestion and a timely one, but his answer assumes two prerequisites:
  1. A commitment to ecology
  2. An ability to garden
Gardening does not require a commitment to ecology. However, when viewed as an answer to declining climate conditions, a heightened commitment to saving the earth may provide the necessary motivation to fulfill the second requirement; how to garden.

Pollen suggests gardening fulfills both prerequisites:
But there are sweeter reasons to plant that garden, to bother. At least in this one corner of your yard and life, you will have begun to heal the split between what you think and what you do, to commingle your identities as consumer and producer and citizen.
We don’t have to march in “Save The Earth” rallies, or install sun panels on our roof to show we are committed to the environment. Gardening will coalesce our own thoughts and actions; what we believe and what we do will be in harmony.

Pollen suggests other benefits as well:
  1. Grow the proverbial “free lunch.” (Cheap food)
  2. CO2-free endeavor
  3. Great exercise
  4. Engages mind and body
  5. Reason to be outdoors, away from the computer (as soon as you finish reading this)
  6. Reengage with neighbors (if only to borrow tools!)
Reap fresh air and sunlight, exercise my mind and body, save the earth and have free food? OK, I’m a gardener. Now what?

Gardening is a worthy pursuit, but to progress from seedling to harvest requires knowledge. If you have never grown a vegetable garden, you will have to learn how.

My father-in-law, an avid and prolific gardener, always advised planting vegetables on Mother’s Day. By the first week of May, serious concern of frost has passed, the earth is warm, daylight growing, and nights still relatively cool; Mother’s Day is the ideal time to begin planting.

Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Now is the time to seriously consider Pollen’s suggestion. Are you ready to start planting and do your part to save the earth?

Vegetable gardening is not difficult, but it does require knowledge. Planning will increase the rewards of harvest. The internet provides a wealth of information on vegetable gardening. Begin with these:
Vegetable gardening is its own reward, if nothing more than you gain the satisfaction of growing your own food. Pollen offers one more reason to pursue this worthwhile effort and this may be the best reason:
The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.
That’s a good reason to bother.


Selasa, 29 April 2008

0 10 Commandments for Dropping 10 Pounds & 10 Years

Written on 4/29/2008 by Jodie Clements, of Yadaspeak.com.

Eight years ago I was a junk food addict. The delivery drivers from Papa John's and the Chinese food joint could have found their way to my house blindfolded. You could say that I ordered takeout with such frequency that my dialing finger practically started to evolve into the shape of a phone key.

I was sloppy, blotchy and bulging out of my jeans. I was constantly either tired or wired and you could have literally played 'connect the dots' with a crayon on my face; I had a ton of zits.

Today I am slimmer than I have ever been, healthier than I have ever been and, although I am 36, I often get 'carded' when going into bars as I am taken for over TEN YEARS younger. I also no longer have acne. It's true, every word.

I don't diet. I don't count calories and rarely go hungry. In fact, my cholesterol numbers could win me awards. Oh, and I have been this way consistently since I made the change - eight years ago. Annoying? I know.

The thing is - it's so easy, its laughable. In addition to some form of simple exercise regimen, these ten daily habits worked into your routine can provide you with optimum health, beautiful skin and a trim waistline. It's not a diet; I didn’t read it anywhere. It's really just common sense that no one seems to follow.

1. White is Not Right: Having a love affair with white bread, white potatoes and white rice? Kiss them goodbye. Although you were taught otherwise, breads and cereals made from white flour are not good for you. White flour simply breaks down into sugar. Not only is too much sugar bad for you, you ultimately crash as quickly as you peak and therefore you are hungry again in no time! Guess what. You eat more and more until you fall asleep. In the morning, you wake up and have a muffin and start the process all over again.

Avoid 'enriched flour' products. Always stick to brown products: whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes and brown rice, etc. It's better for you, will keep you satisfied longer and - you won't have that 'puffy' look in your face (ladies, you know what I mean).

2. Green Tea - Youth in a Glass: Apart from being exceptionally tasty - drinking green tea could be likened to drinking from the fountain of youth. It's probably the best thing you can do for your body on a regular basis. It is jam packed with antioxidants and is known to fight cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, infections and strengthen immune function. Try to drink around 3-5 cups a day, add a twist of lemon for extra zing.

3. Go Nutty for Nuts: Remember I said it's not a diet? Stop worrying about nuts being fattening; forget calories. Scientific evidence suggests (but does not prove) that eating a handful of nuts daily will give you less probability of heart disease. Nuts are rich in fiber, and antioxidants and high in Omega 3 (the good fats shown to lower LDL cholesterol). Personally, I have a handful of walnuts, almonds, pecans and 2 Brazil nuts each morning, with my coffee. (Yes, I do drink coffee).

4. Get Smiley with Omega 3: I mentioned it briefly above. You can get Omega 3 from nuts, various vegetables and most importantly fish such as herring, mackerel, sturgeon, and anchovies. You can also take them in supplement form. What will it do for you? Well, where do I start? It’s a natural anti-inflammatory for preventing arthritis, prostatitis and cystitis, for starters. It boosts your brain function and your intelligence; improving memory, recall, reasoning and focus. It's recommended highly for children too. It wards against depression and generally raises your mood and if that wasn't enough, it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and reduces the chance of blood clots. Last but not least, it also reduces the chances of breast, colon and prostrate cancer. All in all, daily intake of omega three should raise your life expectancy significantly and make you feel happy, pappy and much less wacky, which can't be bad.

5. Avocado is your Best Friend: You are probably thinking right now, this whole list is full of fat (!!). It is - but it's GOOD FAT. And, if eaten in proportion, it won't make you fat; that's a promise. I eat half an avocado every day. Avocado is considered the world's healthiest fruit, because of its nutrient contents such as vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C and copper. Health benefits include lowered chance of heart disease, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer's disease; keeping you young, fit and fabulous. Need I say more?

My next five rules are not about food, but habits. Here goes:

6. Reverse your Meals: Most people don't eat breakfast, have a sandwich for lunch and gorge on a big dinner. This my friends is waistline suicide. Its been said a million times before, but eating a big breakfast, a smaller lunch and a tiny dinner will do WONDERS for your jean size. Also, try not to eat after 9pm. Can you possibly imagine the joy of going to bed on a stomach that is not bloated or having to concentrate on digesting that rack of lamb you just ate? For one, you will sleep better and secondly, you'll wake up with a healthy appetite. Can you remember the last time you were really hungry? It's a wonderful feeling.

7. The 80/20 Rule: Eat healthy 80 percent of the time - the other 20 percent - eat whatever the hell you like (but not after 9pm). The whole point of eating well for the long term (your whole life) is knowing that you can also have whatever you want sometimes and that yes, a little bit of what you fancy really does do you good. So - how about eating healthy Monday to Friday and saving the fun for the weekend? Works for me.

8. Visualize Yourself as Perfect: I believe in the power of the subconscious mind. Think of yourself as a sophisticated machine. If you only put the best possible ingredients into that machine body, it will work flawlessly. Concentrate on this image and enjoy the knowledge that you are running at your optimum. It's exciting. It will also inspire you to keep at it, daily.

9. Exfoliate your Skin: Getting a facial scrub and using it twice a week can take YEARS off your face, really. Removing all that dead skin hanging around, you'll be stunned. Dark patches, grey areas… scrub it away for a fresh face you won't recognize. Try it and see. Men, you too. Ladies, try sleeping with coconut oil on your face at night. Put it on half an hour before you go to bed so that it sinks in. It won't give you zits and it will make your skin look AMAZING. You can buy it in any health food store.

10. Love Yourself - with a Passion: This is so corny, but it's really at the core of everything. Being happy with who you are, embracing life with a smile, getting excited about the little things can take YEARS off of you. It shows in your face. Love your life, love your spouse, appreciate everything you have. Wake up and get excited to be alive. If you can't do it naturally, fake it until you make it - You will make it. Look at the faces of people around you. Find two people of the same age with drastically different approaches to life. Chances are, the one with the brighter outlook looks years younger. Try it and see.

So, those are my tips for looking great, feeling great and being great.

It works. Simple as that.

- Jodie

0 4 Signs That Your Hyperconsumerism is Ruining Your Life

Written on 4/29/2008 by Alex Shalman, creator of the Practical Personal Development blog.

As a society, our lack of owning up and taking responsibility is causing some very significant downfalls which will not be sustainable long term. Our 'I want it yesterday' way of life is based on one fundamental principle - 'I want more, now'.
It's a huge loop that consists of want more, work more, spend more - rinse, repeat. We're actually trapped, very much like rodents in a wheel, running hard without getting anywhere.

The reality, at least the one many people avoid believing, is that we all have the ability to stop the endless cycle. Like most things, you just need to apply yourself to a solid plan versus waiting for someone else to swoop in and put a band-aid on your financial or mental injuries; it's not going to happen.

Let's discuss a handful of ways that we can solve our carelessness, overconsumption problems, and downright laziness. Given time, choosing and focusing on one of these will turn your life around. Are you up for the challenge or are you content with the constant dilemmas you face?

  1. We eat too much. The food industry is one that is trillions of dollars strong. We all have to eat, right? From high end to fast food restaurants, our society is not lacking for a place to eat. The problem? High quantity mixed with low quality puts nutritionally poor food into our stomachs.

    Solution: Become educated in proper nutrition. Use your hard earned money to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and eat a plant-based whole foods diet. When you calculate the fact that you'll live a healthier and happier life you will be doing yourself a great service.

  2. We spend too much boosting pride. Insecurity is very prevalent in this society. It took me a long time to realize that I was trained to be insecure from childhood. Perhaps it's not a problem limited to this day and age, but speaking from personal experience alone, it's a huge problem now. In order to keep up with our peers we want to buy more, have more, and obtain more items that do little less than boost our pride. This mentality will inevitably take you down a path of credit card debt and deep anxiety.

    Solution: Gain insight into why we take certain actions and become more self-confident and aware. Simplify your possessions and keep the minimum for a comfortable life. While 'comfortable life' has a different meaning to everyone, the key is that it's YOUR comfort that takes the lead, not the comfort of a peer that just bought a new iPhone. This reduction in spending will free up time, allowing us to work less, and spend more time with our families.

  3. We watch too much. Too much television, reality shows and game shows means we're watching other peoples lives instead of living our own adventures. This causes us to envy others and become sedentary. Why go climb a mountain when watching it on TV is just as good?

    Go outside and begin enjoying the simple pleasures in life that don't have to cost an arm and a leg. Appreciate being outside, walking through your local park, and laughing with friends. Build genuine relationships with significant people, not the people we see on TV.

  4. We Are Too Complex. Multi-tasking work and family, to-do lists spanning multiple pages, and thinking about B while doing A are all things that add up to more complex but less fulfilling lives. We're selling everything we have to be able to live 'as if'. As if we were happy, satisfied, or even content, when none of these things are actually true.

    Solution: Simplify our lives. Get rid of clutter, get rid of all the extra baggage in terms of stuff and emotional traumas that we choose to carry around. Leave just the essentials. Live in the present. Simplify, work less, enjoy more.
There are loads of other ruts people are stuck in. Take 15 minutes to list all the ways your life would be better if it was simpler. List some in the comments below - maybe it'll help the next reader realize their reality.


Senin, 28 April 2008

0 Space as a Symphony of Turning Off Sounds

In David Toop's classic book Ocean of Sound – something I cite repeatedly here on BLDGBLOG – we read about a musical performance that, by accident of circumstance, became a process of turning off all sources of noise within a building.

[Image: Felix Hess assembles similar sound machines, next to a photo of an unrelated concert hall].

For an installation of fifty specially made "sound creatures" – little interactive robots "inspired by the communication eco-system of frog choruses," Toop writes – experimental musician Felix Hess insisted that there be no "extraneous sounds" in the concert hall. Hess's miniature sound performance required absolute silence, or else the machines would not function.
Toop then quotes a lengthy description of the creatures' set-up:
    We had imagined that the foyer, on an afternoon when nothing was being held there, was extremely tranquil, but not even one of them began to call out in response to any of the others. So first we turned off the air conditioner in the room, and then we turned off the one on the second floor. Then we turned off the refrigerator and the electric cooking equipment in the adjoining cafe, the power of the multi-vision in the foyer, and the power of the vending machine in a space about ten metres away. One by one we took away these continual noises, which together created a kind of drone there... Hess was very interested in this and said things like, "From now on maybe I should do a performance of turning off sounds."
It's amazing to think, of course, that anything could pick up, and even respond to, sounds that subtle; but it's also quite incredible to imagine one's own acoustic awareness of architecture as a process of subtraction.
You could even turn it into a game:
    1) You are sitting on a stage, wearing a blind-fold.
    2) Every electrical device in the building around you is on.
    3) Suddenly, you detect a slight difference, a vague change in sonic pressure somewhere, as if an extremely distant mosquito has been swatted – a spot of silence, as it were, has appeared in the room.
    4) "Toaster, fourth floor!" you call out – and you're right. Someone turned off the toaster.
    5) You win a trip to France.
In any case, it's easy to imagine Hess and his assistants finding this process much more difficult than they'd imagined. At one point in the afternoon, then, with only hours to go before the doors open, they have to step across the street and turn off the appliances in a nearby high-rise – and then next door, to a block of flats, and then down the road to the neighborhood hospital. Still nothing.
Gradually they go on to turn off the entire world, street by street, city by city, in an ever-expanding ring of total silence.
The world becomes a sonic sculpture from which sources of background sound are constantly removed.
Finally, twenty-five years from now, as the very last radio is unplugged in a distant house in Tanzania, the "sound creatures" sitting with Felix Hess on stage begin singing.

0 Which comes first, the Success or the Happiness?

Written on 4/28/2008 by Shilpan Patel of Success Soul.

We've heard the classic expression, "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Chickens hatch from the eggs, but eggs are laid by the chickens, arousing endless debate over each side of the arguments.

I've come up with an equally controversial expression to perturb your mind, "which comes first, the success or the happiness?" Before you jump the ropes, I wanted to warn you that arguments could be made to prove which gives rise to the other. Success comes from within, knowing the true worth of our human potential.

I have several profound reasons to prove that happiness leads to the success.
  1. Positivity is the mother of success: We all know that positivity leads to attitude and unwavering faith to achieve success. In the history of the human race, no negative person has ever climbed the peaks of success; happiness is a virtue of positivity. Without happiness, positivity dies a horrible death.

  2. It's all in my head: Success begins with self-affirmation. It's that staunch belief that when I love what I do, success has to come. When the mood is positive, we give rise to our self-esteem leading to relentless pursuit of success.

  3. I succeed when others succeed: It is a known fact that success comes to those who invest in other people's success. Being happy is a prerequisite to have a pro-social attitude leading to generosity with time and money.

  4. I'm happy, so I am healthy: Happiness tends to instill positivity towards life goals including a healthy mind and healthy relationships. With the virtue of healthy mind, body and soul, I now am focused to achieve success.

  5. Be confident: I've noticed that staying under sun energizes my mood and willingness to pursue my goals. Similarly, with happiness, I get an abundance of confidence in my skills and in my resilience towards temporary failures to achieve success.

  6. Constancy of purpose: Success comes to those who have a definite purpose. Their relentless efforts towards definite purpose come from happiness within to affirm that victory is the only acceptable outcome.

  7. Success holds no limits: Happiness leads to creative vision that seeks achievement without limits. My success is limited only to the limits I impose on my thoughts. With happiness, I take my self-esteem to unseen heights to achieve success beyond my wildest expectations.

  8. In the moment: Enjoying every moment with focus of mind, body and soul leads to happiness that shows in the activity that we engage in. I tend to be at my best when my mind is neither engaged in the past failures nor in the future fantasies. I am giving all I have to the task at hand with unbound happiness. I am destined to arrive at success.
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) Preeminent leader of Indian nationalism.
Our profound view towards success and happiness shapes our destiny. You may focus solely on success and sacrifice happiness with the belief that happiness will follow success. That may prove to be wrong; sharing laughter with family, helping others, being personable and establishing social relations are all forms of happiness, essential to the health of you success.

You may have arguments from the other side of the fence. If so, I'd love to hear why you think success gives rise to happiness?


0 Beating Procrastination is Easy – Once You Get Moving

Written on 4/28/2008 by David B. Bohl, the author of Slow Down Fast.

One of the biggest difficulties for most people to overcome is procrastination. We all have things we dread doing, and it is so much easier to come up with excuses not to do those things, or find other more pressing things to take care of, all as a means of avoidance. Then we look at all the time that has been wasted putting off the dreaded task, only to find that it is still sitting there, staring us squarely in the face. Not only did we lose precious time trying to ignore the unpleasant task, but it has since grown even more ominous.

An important aspect of any self improvement program is learning to overcome the fine art of procrastination. Some people are able to casually avoid an unpleasant or difficult chore, while others go to extreme lengths devising outlandish mechanisms for escaping their responsibilities. In many cases, the effort spent avoiding the task far exceeds the amount of effort required to complete it.

As you progress along your path towards self improvement, keep the following things in mind.
  • Unfinished Business Causes Stress: No matter how steadfastly you try to ignore those unpleasant responsibilities, the fact is they are not going to go away without your attention. One of the goals of any effort towards achieving self improvement is the ability to reduce stress – but until you learn to overcome your procrastination, any unfinished business will add stress to your life.

    Undone tasks will lurk in the back of your mind, causing you to feel guilt and frustration. You will be ill at ease until you finally get around to completing any unfinished business you may have. As unpleasant as it may be, you need to dig in and make sure you address each and every responsibility and task in your life. Failure to do so will undermine any effort you make at achieving relaxation and fulfillment.

  • Make the Most Difficult Tasks Your Priority: One of the best ways to get past your mental roadblocks regarding certain tasks is to move them to the top of your priority list and focus all of your energy on them. Make them your first accomplishments of the day, the week, or the month. Once you dive in and finish them, you can clear them off of your calendar, take a deep breath, and go about the rest of your business with a clear mind and a light heart.

    By tackling the hardest things first, you complete them with and energetic body and a refreshed attitude, giving you the greatest chances of achieving success. You will feel a sense of great accomplishment, and somehow the rest of your chores will not seem so difficult.

  • Just Do It: The easiest way to beat procrastination once and for all is to commit to just getting it done. Choose a starting point and dig in with both hands. If it helps, break your major tasks into smaller parts, creating a succession of smaller tasks that lead to the fulfillment of one major task. Breaking it down into smaller parts is a great mind trick that fools you into thinking you are completing something much easier than the original project appeared to be.

    Once you know where you are going to start, then get moving. They say to have to walk before you can run, so just take it slowly and accomplish one step at a time. As you complete each step, take a moment to acknowledge your progress, then continue on. Do not allow yourself to become sidetracked, which is really just another avoidance mechanism. Commit to keeping yourself on task until the entire project is complete.
You will find that once you finally decide to just get to work, you will make progress towards completion of the project more rapidly than you initially believed. As you begin to see your project moving towards completion, you will likely feel momentum building in your favor, giving you the energy to continue. You may even feel it building, causing you to become invigorated by your own success, making you strive that much harder towards reaching your final goal.

Procrastination can be difficult for everyone, and we all have things that cause us to struggle. In the long run, though, it is so much easier to just get moving and let our successes give us the motivation to continue, than it is to wallow in our failures. Movement creates a positive energy that will lead you down the path towards achieving your dreams.


Minggu, 27 April 2008


I'm officially 24 today yet I shall still insist on writing birthday as bdae!!!

I remember starting to blog sometime around my 19th birthday, so I've been fucking blogging for 5 years man!!

I'm a lao blogger!

Kelvin and Qingqing chose to fly over to Europe yesterday, but not before treating me (and the lucky sods who happen to be around) to dinner first!!

Then Benny treated for drinks afterwards (and the same lucky sods who happen to be around).

Eekean came over all the way to Loyang, on the pretense of wishing me a happy birthday, but in fact stole a whole lot of my dvds and gave me a packet of dubious Indian snacks in exchange. It tastes like Little India on a Sunday.

Actually she wanted to treat me to a Japanese buffet for lunch but I couldn't wake up in time!!

Serious progress with Ek's mom though!! I always thought she didn't really like me coz I was a chao ah lian in school last time (during sec school days la, when Ek was my impressionable classmate), but she bought me mangoes and two packets of nasi lemak!!

She must have somehow known I was kind enough to buy her daughter a 70% of a Nintendo DS lite on her last birthday (the generousity was to make up for 11 years of knowing Ek and never giving her any presents)!!

Mike's mom remembered my bdae too!!

My Momo, whom I was feeling a tad jealous and resentful towards because she bought my cousin a birthday cake (and did not buy any for me for the last n years - her excuse is that I never want to spend my birthday with her), msn-ed me to say she also ordered a cake for me!! I hope this is true.

Mike is bringing me out for expensive dinner tomorrow!

I put "It's my bdae but nobody cares" on my msn nick at around 1am (a tad anxious, but it was for my mother's benefit), so a few people also grudgingly messaged me to tell me happy birthday.

Even my eBay seller, whom I bought the Juicy Couture sidekick from, finally responded to my email and said he is shipping out the phone today!!!


This baby takes USD $70 to unlock, but hey, all a price to pay for a phone that definitely nobody in Singapore has...

Mike sponsored the $500 phone and additionally blurted out he bought me a rainbow maker!!

Everybody does love!!

Right now I'm going into the living room to watch GTO on dvd, and maybe cook some instant noodles. MAN! I CRAVE FOR MAGGI GORENG!!!

Yes! GTO!!


Awesomeness. This day is awesome.

Random note 1: Juicy Couture is opening in Singapore soonish. About time too! I'll source out the PR company, and try to get them to sponsor me stuff!! Honestly man, Juicy! You can't get a bigger fan than me!! If you search "Juicy Couture Singapore" on google, my link actually pops up 4th. How mad is that?

Random note 2: Combination of Cellnique (who also sponsored me a shitload of products recently!!), Kawaii Tokyo and Cherlyn's facial is making my skin GLOW!! I have freaking pink cheeks naturally can!!

Random note 3: USD keeps dropping and SGD keeps shooting up like an obscene penis!! I greedily and impatiently await the day when USD and SGD goes dollar to dollar, then I'll have a wild time at Forever21.com and victoriassecret.com. WHOOPIE!!

Jumat, 25 April 2008

0 The Friday Finale

Several years ago I made a vow to stop working on the weekends. This was done for two main reasons: to clear out my brain from the previous week and spend totally uninterrupted time my family.

It's gone well but I feel guilty every weekend because I am fairly certain that many of you are looking for new stuff to read - regardless of my little vow.

Therefore, in hopes of satisfying two of the passions in my life, I am starting the Friday Finale. Yes, the name is very, very lame but I was at a loss for something better; suggestions are welcome.

These Friday afternoon posts will contain interesting or fun articles that I happened upon over the last week along with a bit of commentary. For the most part, the articles I reference will pertain to the theme of this blog so don't expect anything too crazy. Nevertheless, they will will be timely and something most of you should enjoy.

So, there is your explanation. Here are the goods for this week. Feel free to discuss in the comments.

Found from Around the Web:
At this time last year on DLM:
That's it. Have a great weekend everyone. Spend time with those you care about, stay out of trouble and get outside even if it's raining!


0 Experience Required: 8 Ways to Get Experience for that Job Listing

Written on 4/25/2008 by Stefanie Hutson, of the Vat19 Blog.

For the new job seeker or prospective career-changer, the idea of getting hired in a new field can be daunting.

You’re looking for a job listing like this:

Exciting company seeks enthusiastic entry-level employee. Competitive salary, great benefits, will train.

…but what you’ll find is probably more like this:

Established company has an opening in the ABC department. Prefer 1-2 years of experience, must have references.

Maybe you skipped the college internship thing, maybe you never found an opportunity that worked for you, or maybe you’re just having a mid-life career crisis and you want something new. Regardless of the reasoning, you find yourself without relevant experience and without the ability to get it – or so you think.

Luckily, the information age has rendered the “no experience” excuse almost completely irrelevant. Consider these unconventional ways to get experience in a variety of fields. Even if your dream career isn’t covered here, this should be enough to get your brain moving in the right direction.

Non-Profit Work:
Use sites like VolunteerMatch.com and Idealist.org to locate relevant opportunities. Many of the postings you’ll see are “virtual jobs”, meaning they don’t require you to live in any specific location. Because volunteer work doesn’t pay, the expectations (in terms of both time and experience levels) are generally lower than for a similar paid position.
  • Relevant Fields: Almost any. You could find yourself doing a copywriting project for a charity halfway across the country, shuttling cancer patients to and from medical appointments (psychology, anyone?), or soliciting donations for a local non-profit event.
  • The Pros: Great for networking, experience, and resumes. You'll also feel great about yourself. Schedules are typically pretty flexible.
  • The Cons: No money.
Freelance Job Sites:
Sites like Guru, Elance, and Rent-a-Coder can be great places to bid on projects that range from extremely simple 1-day assignments to long-term, expert-level jobs. If you have a skill to offer, you should definitely look around to see if anyone’s posting projects that might be able to use your talents.

Since these sites use feedback systems to rate service providers, you’ll probably have to create some of your own work samples and offer low bids to get started. Once you get some positive feedback though, you’ll find that you can earn a nice side income from your efforts.
  • Relevant Fields: Computer programming, graphic design, marketing, writing, sales, and administrative duties, among others.
  • The Pros: Learn to work independently, build a network of references, and get a wide variety of experience. Oh, and it pays.
  • The Cons: It can be tough to get your first assignment, and some sites require a paid membership before you can bid on projects.
Get Certified:
In some fields, additional certifications can help you stand out from less driven applicants. If you want to break into big time commercial real estate, it can’t hurt to get started on your real estate license and use it to work part-time while you’re finishing off a business degree. If you see yourself working for a corporation that’s related to sports or nutrition, you could become a certified personal trainer and help out at your local YMCA.
  • Relevant Fields: Psychology, Sports & Fitness, Real Estate, Information Technology, Finance & Insurance, New Age fields, Safety, Food Services, Hospitality, and many others. Visit your library to consult the Certification and Accreditation Programs Directory for more fields and relevant details.
  • The Pros: Demonstrates your commitment to a field, great learning experience. Many can be completed online.
  • The Cons: It can be costly.
Examine Your Hobbies:
If you’re fairly serious about your dream career, there’s a very good chance that you have a hobby that’s at least loosely related. Figure out what that is and find a way to spin it.

Be creative here. You may think your World of Warcraft addiction is useless, but if you’re leading groups of people in battle or conquering the virtual business world by trading fake currencies and goods, you’re developing important skills. I speak from experience on this one, as I had a 100% success rate when I included Everquest activity on my own résumé.
  • Relevant Fields: Obviously, an eager future fireman can’t go around creating and putting out fires as a hobby, so there are some limits to this technique. However, any field that could have some form of video, text, graphic, or other physical output is a good candidate.
  • The Pros: It’s fun.
  • The Cons: You probably won’t get paid.
Become an Apprentice:
Depending on your field of interest, you’ll probably find that there are plenty of unadvertised employers that would love to have a little extra help at no charge to them. You may even be able to arrange a flexible schedule that works with your existing career. You’ll never know unless you ask, and the worst they can do is say no.
  • Relevant Fields: Almost any, though you may have the best luck with independent business owners and freelance workers. You could answer phones for a doctor’s office, wash dishes for a baker, help a freelance writer proofread long assignments, or even help a magician with equipment and setup tasks.
  • The Pros: You get the opportunity to make a friend in the industry while getting relevant experience.
  • The Cons: No pay, and some people may intentionally try to hold you back because they’re threatened at the thought of helping a future competitor.
Traditional Freelance Writing:
Even if writing isn’t your ultimate career goal, it could be a great way to get your foot in the door. Start off by contacting trade publications in your chosen field offering to provide something simple, like short briefs or profiles on companies in the industry. You may need to come up with a few unpublished samples to prove you can hack it, but most trade publications are eager to work with new talent.
  • Relevant Fields: Any field that has its own magazine. Sites like Tradepub.com and WritersMarket.com (nominal subscription fee)
  • The Pros: Flexible schedule, can pay well, prestige factor.
  • The Cons: Can be competitive, depending on the field in question.
Start a Business:
Guess what? Life doesn’t wait for you to deal with whatever’s holding you back. While you may have legitimate issues or career requirements to deal with, there’s no reason you can’t start your own related business in the meantime.
  • Relevant Fields: Although you can’t just open up your own plastic surgery business, you can create your own advertising circular, catering service, or independent sales business. The best fields will be those that have no mandatory certifications and require little start-up capital.
  • The Pros: You get to be your own boss, get some experience, and potentially create a profitable business. You may even love it so much that you abandon your previous goals.
  • The Cons: It can be tough to deal with having a boss later on. If you choose a capital-intensive business, the potential to lose money is fairly large.
Believe it or not, there’s more to eBay than bidding on vintage concert t-shirts and selling old junk. If you do it as more than a hobby, though, you’ll find yourself learning an awful lot.

You’ll have to find a product source, figure out how to market yourself, take photos, handle customers, and maybe do a bit of web design, too. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in any of the above, but it certainly gives you a good opportunity to show off if you are.
  • Relevant Fields: Marketing (especially Internet marketing), Copywriting, Photography, Customer Service, Sales, Web Design (you can apply custom designs to your eBay store), Purchasing, and just about any consumer product category imaginable.
  • The Pros: Extremely flexible scheduling and time commitment, can be very profitable.
  • The Cons: Standing in line at the post office, dealing with problems, running a one-man show. You’re not likely to make a lot of contacts unless you get to know your suppliers.
So are you ready to boost your experience and move in the direction you really want? What's holding you back?


Kamis, 24 April 2008

0 Game/Space: An Interview with Daniel Dociu

[Image: Daniel Dociu. View larger! This and all images below are Guild Wars content and materials, and are trademarks and/or copyrights of ArenaNet, Inc. and/or NCsoft Corporation, and are used with permission; all rights reserved].

Seattle-based concept artist Daniel Dociu is Chief Art Director for ArenaNet, the North American wing of NCSoft, an online game developer with headquarters in Seoul. Most notably, Dociu heads up the production of game environments for Guild Wars – to which GameSpot gave 9.2 out of 10, specifically citing the game's "gorgeous graphics" and its "richly detailed and shockingly gigantic" world.
Dociu has previously worked with Electronic Arts; he has an M.A. in industrial design; and he won both Gold and Silver medals for Concept Art at this year's Spectrum awards.
To date, BLDGBLOG has spoken with novelists, film editors, musicians, architects, photographers, historians, and urban theorists, among others, to see how architecture and the built environment have been used, understood, or completely reimagined from within those disciplines – but coverage of game design is something in which this site has fallen woefully short.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

So when I first saw Daniel Dociu's work I decided to get in touch with him, and to ask him some questions about architecture, landscape design, and the creation of detailed online environments for games.
For instance, are there specific architects, historical eras, or urban designers who have inspired Dociu's work? What about vice versa: could Dociu's own beautifully rendered take on the built environment, however fantastical it might be, have something to teach today's architecture schools? How does the game design process differ from – or perhaps resemble – that of producing "real" cities and buildings?
Of course, there are many types of games, and many types of game environments. The present interview focuses quite clearly on fantasy – and it does so not from the perspective of game play or of programming but from the visual perspective of architectural design.
After all, if Dociu's buildings and landscapes are spaces that tens of thousands of people have experienced – far more than will ever experience whatever new home is featured in starchitects' renderings cut and pasted from blog to blog this week – then surely they, too, should be subject to architectural discussion?

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

Further, at what point in the design process do architects themselves begin to consider action and narrative development – and would games be a viable way for them to explore the social use of their own later spaces?
What would a game environment designed by Rem Koolhaas, or Zaha Hadid, or FAT really look like – and could video games be an interesting next step for professional architectural portfolios? You want to see someone's buildings – but you don't look at a book, or at a PDF, or at a Flickr set of JPGs: you instead enter an entire game world, stocked only with spaces those architects have created.
Richard Rogers is hired to design Grand Theft Auto: South London.
Of course, these questions go far beyond the scope of this interview – but such a discussion would be well worth having.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

What appears below is an edited transcript of a conversation I had with Daniel Dociu about his work, and about the architecture of game design.

• • •

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

BLDGBLOG: First, I'd love to hear where you look for inspiration or ideas when you sit down to work on a project. Do you look at different eras of architecture, or at specific buildings, or books, or paintings – even other video games?

Daniel Dociu: Anything but video games! [laughs] I don't want to copy anybody else.

Architecture has always made a strong impression on me – though I can't think of one particular style or era or architect where I would say: "This is it. This is the one and only influence that I'll let seep into my work." Rather, I just sort of store in my memory everything that has ever made an impression on me, and I let it simmer there and blend with everything else. Eventually some things will resurface and come back, depending on the particular assignment I'm working on.

But I look back all the way to the dawn of mankind: to ruins, and Greek architecture, and Mycenean architecture, all the way up to the architecture of the Crusades, and castles in North Africa, and the Romanesque and Gothic and Baroque and Rococo – even to neo-Classical and art deco and Bauhaus and Modernist. I mean, there are bits and pieces here and there that make a strong impression on me, and I blend them – but that's the beauty of games. You don't have to be stylistically pure, or even coherent. You can afford a certain eclecticism to your work. It's a more forgiving medium. I can blend elements from the Potala Palace in Tibet with, say, La Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí's cathedral. I really take a lot of liberties with whatever I can use, wherever I can find it.

[Images: Daniel Dociu; view larger: top, middle, and bottom].

BLDGBLOG: Of course, if you were an architecture student and you started to design buildings that looked like Gothic cathedrals crossed with the Bauhaus, everybody outside of architecture school might love it, but inside your studio –

Dociu: You'd be crucified! [laughs]

[Image: Daniel Dociu; larger!].

BLDGBLOG: No one would take you seriously. It'd be considered unimaginative – even kitsch.

Dociu: Absolutely. That's probably why I chose to work in this field. There's just so much creative freedom. I mean, sure, you do compromise and you do tailor your ideas, and the scope of your design, to the needs of the product – but, still, there's a lot of room to push.

[Images: Daniel Dociu; view larger: top and bottom].

BLDGBLOG: So how much description are you actually given? When someone comes to you and says, "I need a mine, or a mountain, or a medieval city" – how much detail do they really give before you have to start designing?

Dociu: That's about the amount of information I get.

Game designers lay things out according to approximate locations – this tribe goes here, this tribe goes there, we need a village here, we need an extra reason for a conflict along this line, or a natural barrier here, whether it's a river or a mountain, or we need an artificial barrier or a bridge. That's pretty much the level at which I prefer for them to give me input, and I take it from there. Most of my work recently has been focusing around environments and unique spaces that fulfill whatever the game play requires – providing a memorable background for that experience.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

BLDGBLOG: So somebody just says, "we need a castle," and you go design it?

Dociu: Usually I don't put pen to paper, figuratively speaking, until I have an idea. I don't believe in just doodling and hoping for things to happen. More often than not, I think about a sentiment or an emotion that I'm trying to capture with an environment – and then I go back in my mind through images or places that have made a strong impression on me, and I see if anything resonates. I then start doing research along those lines. Only once did I have a pretty strong formal solution – an actual design or spatial relationship, an architectural arrangement of the elements – before that emotion crystallized.

But do I want something to be awe-inspiring, daunting, unnerving? That's what I work on first – to have that sentiment clarify itself. I don't start just playing with shapes to see what might result. Most of my work is pretty simple, so clarity and simplicity is important to me; my ideas aren't very sophisticated, as far as requiring complex technical solutions. They're pretty simple. I try to achieve emotional impact through rather simple means.

[Images: Daniel Dociu; view larger: one, two, three, four, five, and six].

BLDGBLOG: Do you ever find that you've designed something where the architecture itself sort of has its own logic – but the logic of the game calls for something else? So you have to design against your own sense of the design for the sake of game play?

Dociu: Oh, absolutely – more often than not.

To make an environment work for a game, you have to redesign your work – and I do sometimes feel bad about the missed opportunities. These may not be ideas that would necessarily make great architecture in real life, but these ideas often take a more uncompromising form – a more pure form – before you have to change them. When these environments need to be adapted to the game, they lose some of that impact.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

BLDGBLOG: I'd love to focus on a few specific images now, to hear what went into them – both conceptually and technically. For instance, the image I'm looking at here is called Skybridge. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

Dociu: Sure. The request there was for a tribe that's been trying to isolate itself from the conflict, and the tensions, and the political unrest of the world around it. So they find this canyon in the mountains – and I was picturing the mountains kind of like the Andes: really steep and shard-like. They pick one of these canyons and they build a structure that's floating above the valley below – to physically remove themselves from the world. That was the premise.

I wanted a structure that looked light and airy, as if it's trying to float, and I chose the shapes you see for their wing-like quality. Everything is very thin, supported by a rather minimalist structure of cables. It's supposed to be the habitat for an entire tribe that chooses to detach themselves from society, as much as they can.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

BLDGBLOG: You've designed a lot of structures in the sky, like airborne utopias – for instance, the Floating Mosque and the Floating Temple. Was there a similar concept behind those images?

Dociu: Well, yes and no. The reasons behind those examples were quite different. First, floating mosques were my attempt to deal with what is a rather obnoxious cliché in games – which is floating castles. Every game has a floating castle. You know, I really hate that!

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

BLDGBLOG: [laughs] So these are actually your way of dealing with a game design cliché?

Dociu: I was trying to find a somewhat elegant and satisfying solution to an uninteresting request.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

BLDGBLOG: And what about Pagodas?

Dociu: The story there was that this was a city for the elite. It was built in a pool of water and it was surrounded by desert. Water is in really high demand in this world, but these guys are kind of controlling the water supply. The real estate on these rock formations is limited, though, so they were forced to build vertically and use every inch of rock to anchor their structures. So it's about people over-building, and about clinging onto resources, and about greed.

That doesn't touch on the game in its entirety – but that's the story behind the image.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

BLDGBLOG: Finally, what about the Petrified Tree?

Dociu: That was part of another chapter in our game. We thought that there should be some kind of cataclysm – or an event, a curse – that turns the oceans into jade and the forests into stone. We had nomads traveling the jade sea in these big contraptions, like machines.

So the petrified forest was a gigantic forest that got turned into stone, and the people who were happily inhabiting that forest had to find ways to carve dwellings into the trees: different ways of shaping the natural stone formations and giving them some kind of functionality – arches, bridges, dwellings, and so on and so forth. It was a blend of organic and manmade structures.

At that particular point in time, quite a few of my pieces were the result of my fascination with the Walled City of Kowloon. I was really sad to see that demolished, and this was kind of my desperate attempt to hold onto it! I was incorporating that sensibility into a lot of my pieces, knowing it was going to be gone for good.

[Images: Daniel Dociu; view larger: top and bottom].

• • •

Thanks again to Daniel Dociu for taking the time to have this conversation. Meanwhile, many, many more images are available on his website – and in this Flickr set.

[Image: Daniel Dociu; view larger!].

(Daniel Dociu's work originally spotted on io9).

0 7 Foolish Excuses You Need to Stop Using

Written on 4/24/2008 by Alan Johnson, author of The Online Business Handbook.

Does it seem that somebody else is always responsible for your failures? Are you ever at fault? Well, guess what. Foolish excuses, pointing fingers and living in denial are temporary band-aids that will eventually come undone and cause you nothing but heartache. If you are one of the people living in denial, stop pretending to be above failure. Take a one week excursion into reality and see how quickly your brain and conscience clear of stress and guilt.

If you choose to make the trip, here are 7 of the most dangerous excuses you need to stop using. NOW!
  1. I'm Way Too Busy; the Family Will Understand!
    My friend, your family needs you and not only your paycheck! Fast forward 20 years and think about this for a second - do you really think that your children will ever say, "I'm glad mom/dad got that raise 10 years ago instead of watching me at football practice or helping me with my homework." Of course not!

  2. I Would be More Successful if My Job Weren't as Boring.
    It's not your employer's fault now, is it? Did anyone force you to make that choice? Of course not! Assume responsibility and don't be afraid to take action if you are convinced that you can change things for the better.

  3. My Team Is Holding Me Back.
    Then why not do something about it? Why not help them become better at what they're doing so that all of you can reap the rewards later on? You do realize that constantly being on the lookout for excuses isn't going to cut it, do you?

  4. My Boss Makes Bad Decisions.
    Yes, but he/she has the right to make any decisions he sees fit since, in the end, it's his or her money or reputation on the line. If you want things to change, start being your own boss, nobody is stopping you.

  5. I Don't Have Time to Stay in Shape.
    But will you have time to spend in the hospital? If that is not the case then I would recommend taking at least a few minutes each day moving your body, strenuously. Investing time now prevents years of misery later in life!

  6. Cigarettes Are Bad for Me, But I Have a Stressful Life.
    And what, are cigarettes all of a sudden the cure? This is a foolish excuse and nothing more, it's all in your mind. If you want to give up smoking, you can give up smoking, stressful lifestyle or not.

  7. Taking Risks Would Have Been Foolish.
    Guess what: if you are serious about being successful, taking calculated risks every now and then is simply a must. Yes, there are foolish risks which should be avoided but, in the end, you simply have to take your share of calculated risks at a certain point.
Living in denial is not an option and rest assured knowing that hiding behind foolish excuses will get you nowhere. Are you about to let something like that happen or are you ready to take action?

Best wishes,

Alan Johnson

0 I wanna be Kawaii!!!


Women supposedly start to age at 25 (and some more kiasu people say, 24).

It's disgusting! Suddenly, all around me, people my age are beginning to use words like "skincare" and "anti-aging", not to mention start discussing brands as well as ways and means to keep on looking 24 for as long as possible!!

Before this year, all I ever did for my skin was to wash it with Biore Men's facial cleanser (something I've been using since my teens, which I started because a number of ex-boyfriends used it and I liked the smell) and maybe occasionally slap some Cellnique on.

However, as wrinkles start to appear and pimple scars don't go away that fast anymore, I realised that's not really enough. Isn't it scary?

Besides, all my girlfriends are starting to do all sort of assorted things to their skin before they sleep: Cleanse, exfoliate, tone, serum, moisturize... wake up moisturise as well as put sunscreen... Go for facials... Squeeze blackheads... ETC!!!


BUT!!! The problem is, there are SO MANY BRANDS ALL AROUND! Some people swear by certain brands, but it is near impossible to try everything and find the right stuff for you, isn't it?

Luckily for me, I get sponsored stuff!! :D

Now, you're possibly angrily shouting now, "How is that relevant to me?! You stupid hao lian bitch...!"

It is relevant because I try stuff out for you and tell if you it's good what!! HMPF!

So anyway, the brand in the spotlight today is called Kawaii Tokyo, a line of facial products all the way from Tokyo, Japan!

Personally, I have more faith in products that are made in Asian countries as I feel that they are more suited for Asian skin types.

I was very happy when I saw the packaging for Kawaii's products because the theme they are using seems to be all Princessy!! Their mascot, a girl called Ms Moe Kawai, has flying hair, long eyelashes and wears a tiara! My type of girl :D

These are the products they sent to me:

I love the packaging they came in but I already threw away some of the boxes.

I heart Japanese products because some much efforts is
always put into the aethestics and quality!

Even comes with a totally Kawaii mirror! :D


The whole Kawaii range seems to have a common theme, which is something they call "Brighten-up".

Brightening is also sometimes called whitening, although, from what I know, whitening is a misconception. Products which claim to whiten actually get rid of dead skin etc and bring out a glow in our skin, making it brighter, healthier, and less dull!

It's very important to have "bright" skin, otherwise you'll just walk around looking like a corpse.

Every other female in the world seem to want to have fairer skin though, except for me, coz I like to look tan! Not the dull sort of tan --- like glowy Victoria's Secret models sort of tan!

I wonder if the "whitening" elements of Kawaii worked on me though, coz I noticed that although I got equally tan on the face and body in Langkawi, my face is now like much fairer than my body. -_- Maybe you can give their products a try if you want to get fair.

Prior to writing this, I already saw some magazines (Female, I think) review Kawaii's products, and it seems like the star product is Kawaii's sunscreen.

However, as I don't really go out in the day often (except when I go tanning), I can't say I have really experienced the effectiveness of their sunscreen... More about the sunscreen later.

The product I really like is the Brighten-up Wash Champagne Holiday!!

I am going to cam-whore with my favourite facial wash for a bit. By a bit, I mean... A lot.

(Just cut my fringe coz I got bored of my hair)

Let me think:
How many poses can one come up with with a tube of facial wash?

A lot apparently!

Ahem. As you can see I really like it. Hahaha!!!

Kawaii's facial wash comes in Champagne Holiday as well as Nature Break.

I like Champagne Holiday more coz it smells (to me la...) like roses (which I am very partial to) and it leaves a very nice lingering scent even after washing off! I have a xiang face!

Nature break is nice too! I'm having difficulty describing a smell but it just gives a very refreshing feeling while washing, and brings to mind... woods and cleanliness? Like you can almost feel birds chirruping around you as you wash your face. Hahaha!

The texture of the thick creamy wash has a pearly tint to it, and it's very rich and foamy so using just a small amount is enough!

After washing, my face doesn't feel overtly dry, and seems to become softer to the touch.


A dollop on fingers




Have you ever seen someone so gleefully washing their face before?

I know la! I'm supposed to use make-up remover on my make-up first, but this is purely for photography purposes!

Their other products:

Brighten-up Wrinkle Solution - for the delicate eye area!

Yes, I know I'm supposed to put it on my eye area not my cheek.

Squirted a little out for you guys to see the texture.

Wrinkles around the eyes!!! So have to put eye cream before going to bed.

It also reduces puffy eyes as well as dark eye rings.

Kawaii's eye creams come in Daily Defense as well as Overnight Repair.

Daily Defence is specially for reducing photoaged wrinkles in the eye area, and Overnight Repair is for reducing puffy eyebags... like I get after overnight mahjong!

The eye creams are non-sticky, smooth, and contains whitening elements too. I like that it's non-sticky, which I generally find rare in eye creams. How the hell can you sleep with sticky stuff on your face?!

As any vain enough girl can tell you, harmful UV rays are the main culprit that causes aging to happen. As such, UV protection is very important!

Brighten-up UV blocker DAYTIME RESCUE
- SPF 28/PA++

This contains:

  • Brightening: Vitamin C derivatives
  • Natural Moisturizing Factor: Wild Thyme extract
  • Anti-aging: Star fruit, Bilberry, Shell Ginger extracts
  • Astringent: Prune extract
  • Anti-inflammation: Licorice extract

A little squirt on the face

Non-sticky and water resistant

Undetectable once blended in

Daytime Rescue is more for daily usage, but if you are going swimming or doing any outdoor sports that lets you face the strong sun for a long time, the Sun Survivor should be a better choice.

Brighten-up UV Blocker SUN SURVIVOR- SPF 50/PA++

This contains:

  • Brightening: Vitamin C Derivatives, Alpha Arbutin
  • Anti-aging: Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3
  • Natural Moisturising Factor: Olive Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid
  • Astringent: Witch Hazel Extract
  • Anti-inflammation: Platinum Nano-Colloid, Licorice Extract

Remember to always reapply after perspiring!

Last but not least, Kawaii gave me Brighten-up Gels!

All-in-One Step Skincare

Comes in two scents!

I like Citrus Paradise coz it smells (not too strongly) like mandarin oranges. :D

What is this? Believe it or not, it's like a magic gel that combines toner, moisturiser, firming essense, brightening essense, as well as make-up base!

Before you diss off products that are 5-in-1, I'd have to say that this actually works pretty well! It kept my face from being dry and my complexion dewy (I was given the products to try for 3 weeks) and I noticed that my face got less oily too!

This contains:

  • Vitamin C Deriatives + Vitamin E
  • Hyaluronic Acid (moisturizing component to invigorate collagen activity)
  • Marine Collagen (for dewiness and resilience)
  • Olive Squalane (channels oxygen to skin)

It is also alcohol and animal-based ingredient free!

I know! My hands are so wrinkly under the Macro glare of my camera!

After being spread out, the gel feels very pleasantly cold on my skin. It also sort of seeps into the skin pretty fast too, so that after a while, the effect is that the gel is not sticky and very smooth!

It's also not oily and feels watery.


Interested?? Wanna give it a try? Maybe you can get Kawaii products for free! Click here to go get Kawaii's special promotion for my readers, and you are one easy step away from a chance to win a Kawaii product!!

For more information, please check out Kawaii's website here. :)

p/s: Yes I have strawberry nails! Not watermelon! And I painted it myself!! :D

p/p/s: I do have very hairy arms! I don't think it's ugly and I cannot be bothered about those stupid hairs, so stop the multitude of similar comments about my arm hairs!
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