Selasa, 31 Mei 2011

0 Google Tests a New Mobile Navigation Bar

Some Google users spotted an experimental interface for Google's mobile search site. The horizontal navigation bar now includes icons, just like the vertical desktop bar. While the new interface is less streamlined, it looks more like a Web app and it makes it easier to select a different search service or a Google app.

{ Thanks, Andrew and David. }

Minggu, 29 Mei 2011

0 5 Quietly Powerful Strategies To ‘Press Play’ On Your Dream Life

Do you ever get so caught up in the rush of your crazy-busy-life that you forget to stop and reflect a little? Wait, don’t answer that - I’m going to go ahead and assume yes. I mean let’s be honest here – when was the last time you actively pursued an activity that was:
  • closely related to one of your big dreams,
  • made you feel most alive or most yourself, or
  • just plain old wasn’t part of your busy-list?
If you couldn’t think of the answer to at least one of those right away, it was probably longer than it should be. Assuming, of course, that it is important to you to pursue your dream life. Sometime this decade.

How Often Do You Stop To Sharpen The Saw?
Steven Covey, famed for his teaching on productivity and life-management, talks about taking time out for something he calls sharpening the saw. The saw being you, your skills and talents, and most certainly your goals and dreams. Of course the benefits to such time out from daily life are obvious, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stop and ‘indulge’ in such a past-time, does it?

And when we get to the crux of it, I think that’s the real problem; the concept that taking time out to rebuild or develop our talents and skills – let alone our mind – is an indulgence or something that we’ll make time for once everything else is done.

Well here’s the kicker, and I think it’s important that you know this. You are going to DIE without everything being done. It’s time to get over trying to complete that ever-increasing list of yours and start being more effective with the limited time you to have.

Pressing Play On Your Dream Life

This morning I took some time out to do just that. I managed to tear myself away from my normally frantic ‘never-quite-can-keep-up’ writing schedule to ‘sharpen the saw’, by completing some values, mission and goal exercises in my new planner. Can I just say – I feel amazing for having done this. Calm , in control, and empowered to take on my dream life. And I would very much like to pass some of this positivity on to you! So without further ado, here are 5 quietly powerful strategies you can use to lay the foundation of your dream life and finally ‘press play’ on those big goals.

Step One: Values
Values are the innate guiding principles that you would ideally like to live by. When your life is not in alignment with your values you may feel restless, discontent, guilty, and frustrated. If you’ve never done this before (or not for a long while) I urge you to take some time to consider what your deep inner values are. Why not pull out a nice journal or just start a new file – label it ‘My Dream Life’!

To give you some examples, my values include health, creativity, family, spirituality, courage, gratitude, patience, abundance, and business. Covey suggests attaching a few clarifying statements to each value, i.e. “I take time to reflect daily and be grateful for the things in my life”

Step Two: Roles
Once you’ve determined your values it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider all the different hats you wear in your life. There’s probably at least 4 or 5 key roles that you’re trying to fulfill, and I’ll bet you have goals associated with each of them.

If you don’t take some time to break this stuff down you will likely find yourself moving sideways from one thing to the next and basically ending up going round in circles, rather than truly progressing forward! My roles included writer, wife/mother, athlete, coach, and ‘sharpen the saw’. That’s right – a whole separate role just for the development side of my life! Add some clarifying statements to each of your roles as well; this will help you when it comes time to set goals.

Step Three: The "Be, Do, Have" Exercise

One of my favorite exercises, and one I’ve come back to time and again over the years, is Covey’s ‘be, do and have’ exercise. It’s where you get to really dream about how your life will be when you do start pressing play every day! It’s very simple – all you need to do is fill a half page or so with things you’d like to one day be, another half page with things you’d like to do, and then another with things you’d like to have. For an example, I’d like to be a published author (in a bookstore!), I’d like to have at least 2 more children, and I’d like to spend 3 months out of each year living overseas at some point throughout our lives (do).

Step Four: Reflect

After completing the above exercise you’ll be raring at the bit to start coming up with some exciting goals and strategies to help you achieve all that good stuff. I know I was! Well – don’t do it! At least, not yet. The reality is that it’s in your nature to always want more, and (if you let it) your mind will continue to come up with endless possibilities for your life. This is definitely a good thing, but it can also make life messy and overwhelming as you jump from task to task. Taking time to reflect on what really drives you will give you focus and a sense of calm as you plan your big goals for the months ahead.

Here are some questions I like to ask myself when reflecting:
  • What am I truly passionate about?
  • What gives me a sense of ‘flow’?
  • What are some moments when everything has just seemed right?
  • What makes me feel happy; joyful; more alive?
  • What has the opposite effect?
Step Five: Goal-setting time!
This is my favorite part of the journey – it’s where you get to visualize and then plan the specifics of your dream life. The who, what, when, where, why and how! I love this part because I find words to be incredibly powerful – just writing something down can help you to picture it actually happening, and then when you break it down into small steps all of a sudden something big and scary becomes not only tangible but also achievable. So – setting smart goals is really easy now that you’ve done all the groundwork.

Take a moment to refer back to your values and your roles, and then simply set goals for each value/role! It’s useful to decide on a due date for your goal, and then break it down into small steps. Make them bite sized! For example, if one of my goals is to have a column in a health and fitness magazine, my steps would include brainstorming post ideas, writing drafts, asking for feedback, brainstorming title ideas, researching editor/contact details, and finally submitting an article!

What Next?
Of course you could keep going even beyond these 5 steps. Covey talks about using this stuff as a base to create a mission for your life, but even if you don’t do that you will notice a tremendous sense of empowerment simply by taking time out for yourself. Another next step you could take (and one that is next on my agenda) is to use your goals as a base to planning out your year, month, week and then even your days. Sure, it will take you an extra half hour or so each week, but really – in the midst of that crazy-busy-life of yours could there be any greater feeling than knowing that each busy little moment is one that truly counts toward your dream life? Who knows – you may actually become one of those people who does press play every day!

What else do you do to press play on your life and dreams? I’d love to hear your strategies and tips for making sense in a busy world … and I’d also love to hear from you if you do take time out to follow this 5-point plan!

Written on 5/29/2011 by Kat Eden. Kat blogs about health, fat loss and motivation over at Body Incredible , and about nutrition, exercise and lifestyle for driven women at Woman Incredible. Kat’s motto is ‘Life is Now. Press Play’. Photo Credit: Annie Roi

Sabtu, 28 Mei 2011

0 Six Ways to Stay Motivated during Hideously Boring Tasks

Motivation can be tough. Even when you want to do something – like exercising regularly, eating right or keeping a journal – it’s easy to find your enthusiasm slackening off.

But motivation gets really tough when the task at hand is downright boring.
I don’t know exactly what your most-dreaded things are, but maybe they look something like this:
  • Repetitive, boring data entry or copy-and-pasting tasks on the computer
  • Housework – laundry, cleaning, cooking, tidying, washing dishes...
  • Sorting and filing papers
  • Delivering leaflets door-to-door
They’re tasks that are repetitive, unchallenging and uncreative. There might be relatively little reward or recognition for completing them. No wonder you put them off, or struggle to focus when you’re tackling them.

The problem is, you can’t simply ditch these tasks. For whatever reason, they need to be done. So here’s how to stay motivated (and sane!) while you’re tackling them:

#1: Remind Yourself WHY
Whatever the task at hand, there’s a why behind it. Sometimes, focusing on the why can help you feel more motivated to do a good job – even though the work itself is boring. Your why might be:
  • An end result that benefits you – e.g. a clean, tidy house that you can relax in
  • An end result that helps someone else – e.g. a happy client
  • Saves you doing more work in the future
  • Doing good in the world – helping charity or a political/religious organization that you support
  • Your paycheck – an important motivator for many of us!
#2: Think How Good You’ll Feel When You’re Done
Chances are, you might have been dreading this tedious task for a while. Maybe you’ve been putting it off for days, weeks or even months. It’s been hanging over you.

Think about how great you’ll feel once you’re done with it. You’ll have it off your mind, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment, and you’ll be able to get on with the rest of your life without dreading this one thing.

The faster you get on with the task, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of having finished. Yes, I know that’s obvious – but we sometimes need to remind ourselves of it.

#3: Work in Short Bursts
You know what happens when you try to concentrate on something for hours on end ... your attention wanders. Perhaps you manage 20 minutes or so, but then you’re onto Twitter, and you click on a link, and you end up reading web comics. Or you flick the television on and get drawn in.

By working in short bursts, you help yourself stay on task. If you spend 15 minutes cleaning the kitchen or 30 minutes entering data, before taking a break, it’s much easier to focus – you know the end is in sight!

#4: Crank the Music
I find that music distracts me from my more intense, creative work – but it’s ideal for boring tasks. You’ll probably want to choose something with a fast tempo and a bit of energy to it – maybe rock music, or whatever works for you.

If you’re not a music fan, or if you’re working in an environment where loud music isn’t appropriate, try audio books. Try LibriVox for classic books, read by volunteers – they’re free.

#5: Use Your Task as a Breather

This might sound odd – but you can actually use those dull tasks as a welcome break in the day. Sure, two hours of cleaning or data entry might drive you nuts, but spending 15 or 20 minutes doing something unchallenging can give you a chance to unwind, in between more intense tasks.

You’ll find that it helps to pay attention to the times of day when you’re most creative – and the times when you’re feeling a definite slump. Use dull tasks to fill your “slump” times, and keep your most important work for your best hours.

#6: Work With a Partner
You might not always have this option, but when you do, it’s often a great way to improve a dull task. Find someone else to work with. That might mean:
  • Doing the housework with your partner or kids
  • Asking a colleague to help you out at work
  • Getting a friend to come over and clear out the garage with you
...and so on. It’s motivating to have someone else along because you’ll be sharing the work (so it’ll get done faster), you’ll have someone to talk to, and you won’t want to slack off because you’ll be letting them down. Of course, you’ll probably need to return the favor in future...

What hideously boring tasks are festering on your to-do list? What could you do to make them a little more bearable?

Written on 5/28/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Photo Credit: Samael Kreutz

Jumat, 27 Mei 2011

0 7 Must Read Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America (USA). A famous polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and money; warships; the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies; and more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.

7 Must-Read Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin:

  1. Waste Not

    "Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of."

    Your time is your life. If you waste your time, you are wasting your life. I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t value their time, and I’ve never met an unsuccessful person who did.

    Don’t let other people waste your time either, why is it when someone wants to “kill an hour,” they want to kill your hour as well? Protect your time, it can never be replaced, it can never be replenished, your time is your life.

  2. Learn

    "Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."

    Benjamin Franklin said, “He that won't be counseled can't be helped.” Always be open to learning. You can learn from anyone, and from any situation. You can learn from the fool as well as the genius. Bruce Lee said, “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

  3. Make Mistakes

    "Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out."

    Success comes from doing things “right,” and doing things right is usually the result of first doing things wrong. You are certain to make mistakes; the path to success is lined with mistakes and failures, just keep moving. Successful people make a lot of mistakes, but they don’t quit, they keep moving until they arrive to their goal.

  4. Energy and Persistence

    "Energy and persistence conquer all things."

    To have energy and persistence you must have passion, there must be an inner vision that drives you to achieve your goal.

    If you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going, then you don’t have the energy or persistence to make any noteworthy progress. You must be driven by a picture that is bigger than your current reality.

  5. Prepare

    "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

    It’s better to not have an opportunity and be prepared, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. Success loves preparation, are you prepared?

    If the perfect opportunity presented itself, would you be ready for it? Spend your days preparing for success, so when your opportunity comes, you will be ready.

  6. Be Diligent
    "Diligence is the mother of good luck."

    Solomon wrote, the diligent shall be made rich. If you want to be lucky, be diligent, the more diligent you are, the luckier you will be. Everyone has the ability to increase their luck seven fold by becoming more diligent.

    Create the habit of being diligent in all you do, and you will be surprised at how lucky you become.

  7. Make an Impression

    "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

    Benjamin Franklin said, “Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.” I hope you’re not dead, I hope you haven’t achieved all that you’re going to achieve; I hope your best days are in front of you. I think they are.
Thank you for reading and be sure to pass this article along.

Written on 5/27/2011 by Mr. Self Development who is a motivational author that offers a practical guide to success and wealth; support him by visiting his blog at or by subscribing to his feed.Photo Credit: perpetualplum

Selasa, 24 Mei 2011

0 Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond

[Image: Photo by Iwan Baan, from No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

Last autumn, I had the pleasure of speaking with architects Michael Maltzan and Jessica Varner for the new book No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond.

[Image: Photo by Iwan Baan, from No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

That conversation was then included in the book itself, alongside conversations about the city with such artists, architects, and writers as Catherine Opie, Matthew Coolidge, Mirko Zardini, Edward Soja, Charles Jencks, Qingyun Ma, Sarah Whiting, James Flanigan, and Charles Waldheim. It will surprise no one to read that my interview is the least interesting of the bunch, but it's an honor even to have been invited to sit down as a blogger amidst that line-up.

[Image: Photo by Iwan Baan, from No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

Overall, the book represents a series of interesting decisions: it doesn't document Michael Maltzan's work—though, with several recently completed, high-profile projects, including Playa Vista Park, Maltzan could easily could have spent the book's 200+ pages discussing nothing but his own productions (in fact, Maltzan's buildings are absent from the publication).

Instead, the book instead features newly commissioned photographs of greater Los Angeles by the ubiquitous Iwan Baan; further, Michael's and Jessica's introductory texts are not about the firm's recent buildings but are about those buildings' urban context. It is about the conditions in which those buildings are spatially possible.

[Image: Photo by Iwan Baan, from No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

In many ways, then, the book is astonishingly extroverted. It's a book by an architecture office about the city it works in, not a book documenting that firm's work; and, as such, it serves as an impressive attempt to understand and analyze the city through themed conversations with other people, in a continuous stream of partially overlapping dialogues, instead of through ex tempore essayistic reflections by the architects or dry academic essays.

[Image: Photo by Iwan Baan, from No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

Iwan Baan's photos also capture the incredible diversity of spatial formats that exist in Los Angeles—including camouflaged oil rigs on residential hillsides—and the range of anthropological subtypes that support them, down to fully-clothed toy dogs and their terrycloth-clad owners.

[Image: Photo by Iwan Baan, from No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

In an excerpt from Maltzan's introduction to the book published today over at Places, Maltzan writes that the city's "relentless growth has never paused long enough to coalesce into a stable identity."
Los Angeles and the surrounding regions have grown steadily since the founding of the original pueblo, but the period immediately after World War II defined the current super-region. During this time, the economy accelerated, and Los Angeles became a national and international force. Today, innovation and development define the metropolis as the region multiplies exponentially, moment by moment, changing into an unprecedented and complex expansive field. The region continues to defy available techniques and terms in modernism's dictionary of the city.
This latter point is a major subtheme in the interviews that follow: exactly what is it that makes Los Angeles a city, not simply a "large congregation of architecture," in Ole Bouman's words. As Bouman warns, "If you don’t distinguish between those two—if you think that applying urban form is the same as building a city, or even creating urban culture—then you make a very big mistake. First of all, I think it’s necessary for architectural criticism, in that sense, to find the right words for these very complicated processes, to distinguish between two processes or forms that, at first sight, appear the same, but that are, in reality, very different."

At the end of his introductory notes, Maltzan remarks that "we have reached a point where past vocabularies of the city and of urbanism are no longer adequate, and at this moment, the very word city no longer applies" to a place like Los Angeles.

"Perhaps it is not a city," he suggests. Perhaps something at least temporarily indescribable has occurred here.

[Image: Photo by Iwan Baan, from No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

You can read Maltzan's essay in full over at Places; or I'd encourage you to pick up a copy of the book as a way of encouraging this kind of discursive engagement with the city—what Varner describes in her introduction as a set of outward-looking, nested narratives "which then fold back onto themselves" from conversation to conversation, and will only continue to develop "as the city advances forward."

[Image: From No More Play: Conversations on Urban Speculation in Los Angeles and Beyond edited by Jessica Varner].

The book also comes with a small fold-out poster, one side of which you can see here.

(Earlier on BLDGBLOG: Agitation, Power, Space: An Interview with Ole Bouman).

0 No More Offline Gmail in Google Chrome

Chrome 12, the upcoming version of Google's browser which is likely to be released today, removes a useful feature: the built-in Gears plugin. While most Google services dropped support for Gears and removed offline access, Gears is still being used in Gmail. Google no longer maintains Gears, which is now legacy software, and focuses on implementing offline support using HTML5.

But why remove Gears support without implementing the features using HTML5 first? Google says that you'll only need to wait for a few weeks or you can still older versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer and mail client such as Thunderbird or Outlook.

"The new Gmail Offline capability is targeted for delivery as a Chrome browser web app this summer. As we move the Gmail Offline capability to a Chrome web app, we will deprecate the Google Gears-based Gmail Offline. This coincides with the version 12 release of the Google Chrome browser which no longer supports Gears. As a result, Google Gears-based Gmail Offline will no longer work with the Chrome browser as of Tuesday May 24, 2011. Google Gears-based Gmail Offline will continue to work in Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla Firefox 3.6," explains Google.

It's not the best thing to do after convincing users to switch to Chrome and use Web apps, but it's just a temporary issue. If the HTML5 offline Gmail wasn't ready to be released, removing Gears from Chrome could have been delayed.

{ via François }

0 Google Tests Extended Flight OneBox

Google started to test a more advanced OneBox for flight-related searches. Right now, when you search for [flights from London to Barcelona] Google links to services like Expedia, Orbitz or Kayak. The OneBox is useful, but it doesn't show a list of flights.

After acquiring ITA Software, Google has access to a lot more information about flights and no longer have to send users to services like Expedia. Google can even provide information when you enter a vague query like [flights to Barcelona].

Here's the experimental flight OneBox, as spotted by Richard from SEO Gadget:

When you click "expand all non-stop routes to Barcelona", Google shows a very long list of cities. It's probably the biggest and most overwhelming Google OneBox. Maybe a drop-down would've been more useful.

After selecting one of the cities, Google sends you to a new search results page that shows a long list of flights.

It's nice to have all this information at your fingertips, but it's too overwhelming and these kinds of details aren't suited for an OneBox. Richard also noticed that "you get to data, with no call to action. I think this means most folks would be forced to repeat their search again on a flight provider."

Hopefully, Google will launch a Flight Search service that will also include the brilliant visualizations developed by ITA Software and the OneBox will just be a gateway to the new service.

Update: The feature is now available to everyone. "With the close of our ITA acquisition last month, we're eager to begin developing new flight search tools to make it easier for you to plan a trip. While this flight schedule feature does not currently use ITA's search technology, this is just a small step towards making richer travel information easier to find, and we hope to make finding flights online feel so easy, it'll feel like... well, a vacation," explains Google.

{ Thanks, Richard. }

Senin, 23 Mei 2011

0 Landscape Futures Super-Trip

I'm heading off soon on a road trip with Nicola Twilley, from Edible Geography, to visit some incredible sites (and sights) around the desert southwest, visiting places where architecture, astronomy, and the planetary sciences, to varying degrees, overlap.

[Image: The Very Large Array].

This will be an amazing trip! Our stops include the "world’s largest collection of optical telescopes," including the great hypotenuse of the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, outside Tucson; the Very Large Array in west-central New Mexico; the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona, aka the "lunar greenhouse," where "researchers are demonstrating that plants from Earth could be grown without soil on the moon or Mars, setting the table for astronauts who would find potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables awaiting their arrival"; the surreal encrustations of the Salton Sea, a site that, in the words of Kim Stringfellow, "provides an excellent example of the the growing overlap of humanmade and natural environments, and as such highlights the complex issues facing the management of ecosystems today"; the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, with its automated scanning systems used for "robotic searches for variable stars and exoplanets" in the night sky, and its gamma-ray reflectors and "blazar lightcurves" flashing nearby; the Grand Canyon; Red Rocks, outside Sedona; the hermetic interiorities of Biosphere 2; White Sands National Monument and the Trinity Site marker, with its so-called bomb glass; the giant aircraft "boneyard" at the Pima Air & Space Museum; and, last but not least, the unbelievably fascinating Lunar Laser-ranging Experiment at Apache Point, New Mexico, where they shoot lasers at prismatic retroreflectors on the moon, testing theories of gravitation, arriving there by way of the nearby Dunn Solar Telescope.

[Image: The "Electric Aurora," from Specimens of Unnatural History, by Liam Young].

The ulterior motive behind the trip—a kind of text-based, desert variation on Christian Houge's study of instrumentation complexes in the Arctic—is to finish up my curator's essay for the forthcoming Landscape Futures book.

That book documents a forthcoming exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art called Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions, featuring work by David Benjamin & Soo-in Yang (The Living), Mark Smout & Laura Allen (Smout Allen), David Gissen, Mason White & Lola Sheppard (Lateral Office), Chris Woebken, and Liam Young.

Finally, Nicola and I will fall out of the car in a state of semi-delirium in La Jolla, California, where I'll be presenting at a 2-day symposium on Designing Geopolitics, "an interdisciplinary symposium on computational jurisdictions, emergent governance, public ecologies," organized by Benjamin Bratton, Daniel Rehn, and Tara Zepel.

That will be free and open to the public, for anyone in the San Diego area who might want to stop by, and it will also be streamed online in its entirety; the full schedule is available at the Designing Geopolitics site.

(Earlier on BLDGBLOG: Landscape Futures Super-Workshop, Landscape Futures Super-Dialogue, and Landscape Futures Super-Media).

0 Music Album Filtering in Google Video

Google started to learn more about music. After improving the Web search results for music videos by adding metadata, Google added the same enhancements to Google Video. Now you can even find a list of popular albums when you search for an artist. Select one of the albums and you'll restrict the results to the songs from the album. The nice thing is that Google's algorithms make sure that the results are diverse and songs aren't repeated too often.

Minggu, 22 Mei 2011

0 How to get dramatic bottom lashes

Without even sticking on falsies!!

Did a video tutorial.

Have fun watching!!!

Here's the before:

Super demure wtf

And here's the after:

Crazy huge eyes in 4 easy steps!! 

Which look do you prefer?

0 Seven Ways to De-Stress Instantly

Imagine it’s Monday morning. Over the weekend, you had a major argument with your partner (and you’re both still sulking), your alarm clock fails to go off, you try to get your usual breakfast only to find that the cereal box is empty and the milk’s gone sour, and then the car won’t start. By the time you get to work, you’re already feeling frazzled – and then your boss dumps an “urgent” project on your desk. You know you’ve got a backlog of emails to deal with from last week and you can feel your stress levels and blood pressure going through the roof.

Now, it’d be nice if you could de-stress by following some of the great advice you’ve no doubt already heard. You know, take a long bath, have an afternoon off, enjoy a long weekend’s vacation, go for an hour-long jog, etc. Unfortunately, you can only afford five minutes. Can you de-stress in five minutes? Yes, you can; just try one of these.
  1. Go For A Quick Walk
    Even if you can only spare five minutes, go for a walk (it might just be to the water cooler and back). The aim here is to get yourself away from the immediate source of stress and to calm down. A few minutes to gather your thoughts is all you need to get some perspective.

  2. Read Some Fiction
    If I’m seriously worked up, upset or stressed, one of the best things I can do is to grab a book. Fiction is ideal (especially anything funny or uplifting). Reading fiction takes you out of the here-and-now and into a different world. You can forget everything that’s troubling you, for just ten minutes, as you concentrate on the story.

  3. Meditate or Pray
    Often, the best thing we can do to instantly de-stress is to simply stop. Many life coaches and stress advisors recommend meditation: there’s no mystery to it, just sit and try to clear your mind of thoughts (perhaps concentrating on a calming image or a word or phrase, if that helps you). I also like to pray – if this suits your religious/spiritual persuasions, it can be a very powerful way to get outside of your own head and call on a higher power for some much-needed help!

  4. Watch A Funny Video
    I don’t know about you, but I just can’t stay stressed out when I’m laughing. (It’s like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time...) If you have a favorite YouTube clip, or if LolCats make you giggle, then give yourself five minutes to indulge. You’ll find that you return to your work – or whatever the source of the stress is – feeling much better equipped to handle it.

  5. Make A Herbal Tea
    If you’re feeling uber-stressed, caffeine isn’t going to help. A warm, soothing mug of herbal tea might, though. The act of making yourself a drink can be calming: it gets you away from your desk, and it gives you a chance to concentrate on something physical. You’ll probably also feel a psychological boost from doing something positive and nurturing for yourself.

  6. Punch A Pillow
    Depending on where you are when you’re feeling stressed, and on your personality, throwing a few punches at a pillow might help. Think of the stress leaving you through your fist with every punch. (If you’re in the office, please don’t be tempted to use a co-worker as a substitute pillow ... even if said co-worker has caused your stress.)

  7. Take Slow, Deep Breaths
    When we get stressed, we tend to breath more quickly, taking shallow breaths. Concentrate on your breathing (you might want to do this in conjunction with meditation or prayer). Imagine breathing from your stomach, not your chest. Take slow, deep, fulfilling breaths. Calming your body down physically in this way is likely to have a knock-on effect on your frazzled mental state.
Do you find yourself getting overly worked up on a regular basis? What are your instant fixes for when you’re feeling stressed?

Written by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (ali) or check out her website at Aliventures. Republished 5/22/2011.
Photo Credit: stuartpilbrow

Sabtu, 21 Mei 2011

0 Google Business Profiles?

The source code of the Google Profiles page includes a broken link that has a revealing anchor text: "business profiles". The link sends you to a page that doesn't exist:, but this feature could add Google Profiles to Google Apps and allow users to create multiple profile pages.

Another interesting thing is that Google has a new subdomain:, which redirects to Google Profiles. There's already a Web page about the +1 button, so it's not clear why Google has a new address for Google +1. Maybe profiles will be a feature of Google +1.

{ Thanks, Florian. }

0 How Google Docs Killed GDrive

"In The Plex", Steven Levy's recently launched book about Google, has an interesting story about GDrive, an online storage service developed by Google. People first found about GDrive from a leaked Google document, back in 2006. GDrive (or Platypus) turned out to be a service used by Google employees that offered many impressive features: syncing files, viewing files on the Web, shared spaces for collaborating on a document, offline access, local IO speeds. But Google wanted to launch GDrive for everyone.

At the time [2008], Google was about to launch a project it had been developing for more than a year, a free cloud-based storage service called GDrive. But Sundar [Pichai] had concluded that it was an artifact of the style of computing that Google was about to usher out the door. He went to Bradley Horowitz, the executive in charge of the project, and said, "I don't think we need GDrive anymore." Horowitz asked why not. "Files are so 1990," said Pichai. "I don't think we need files anymore."

Horowitz was stunned. "Not need files anymore?"

"Think about it," said Pichai. "You just want to get information into the cloud. When people use our Google Docs, there are no more files. You just start editing in the cloud, and there's never a file."

When Pichai first proposed this concept to Google's top executives at a GPS—no files!—the reaction was, he says, "skeptical." [Linus] Upson had another characterization: "It was a withering assault." But eventually they won people over by a logical argument—that it could be done, that it was the cloudlike thing to do, that it was the Google thing to do. That was the end of GDrive: shuttered as a relic of antiquated thinking even before Google released it. The engineers working on it went to the Chrome team.

In 2009, Google Docs started to store PDF files and one year later you could store any type of file in Google Docs. The service still doesn't offer a way to sync files. Even if GDrive was never released, Google Docs inherits most of its features. The main difference is that you no longer have to worry about file formats because you can open and edit documents in Google Docs.

{ Thanks, Kristian. }

0 More Features in Google Maps for Mobile Browsers

One of the most underrated Google mobile Web apps is Google Maps. Most smartphones and tablets have a native app for Google Maps, so a mobile Web app doesn't seem necessary. Unfortunately, native apps aren't always updated frequently and there are many missing features. Google does a good job at updating Google Maps for Android, but Apple's Maps app for iOS rarely includes new Google Maps features.

That's probably one of the reasons why the Google Maps mobile site was updated to include most of the features from the desktop site. Another reason is that Google wants to offer "a consistent Google Maps experience wherever you use it."

The updated Google Maps mobile site has features like local business search, Google Places, driving directions, layers, My Maps, starred locations, search suggestions. If you can't find biking directions or information about businesses in the Maps app for the iPhone, you can go to in your mobile browser and use these features.

Just like the mobile YouTube site, "Google Maps for mobile browsers is platform independent - you will always get a consistent experience and the latest features without needing to install any updates, no matter what phone you use."

I've tried the updated mobile interface on an iPhone 3GS, a Nexus One and an iPad 2. While all the new features are great, the site is still too slow and unresponsive to be useful. Until Google solves performance issues and mobile browsers become more powerful, people will still use the native app.

0 Google's Black Navigation Bar

For some reason, the navigation bar displayed at the top of Google's "connected accounts" page is special. The bar has a black background and grey links. Hopefully, this is just a bug and not a redesigned navigation bar.

The "connected accounts" page lets you add accounts from services like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Yelp and use them to personalize search results. This way, you can include your accounts from other social sites without adding them to your Google Profile.

{ Thanks, Herin. }

Jumat, 20 Mei 2011

0 Google Image Search in SSL

Probably the most important missing feature in Google SSL Search was image search. Now this feature is available, but there's a drawback: the page that shows a bigger image preview doesn't use SSL.

Google's encrypted flavor supports most of the features of the regular Google site. The left side of the navigation bar is still missing, you can't use Google Instant and the Wonder Wheel, but hopefully these features will be added in the near future.

Google Chrome has recently implemented a feature called SSL False Start which "reduces the latency of a SSL handshake by 30%". SSL sites load slower and one of the reasons is that SSL handshakes are more CPU intensive, use more network round-trips and more packets.

0 Google eBooks Integrates with Google Dictionary, Google Translate and Google Search

Google's eBook Reader for the Web added a contextual menu that lets you define, translate and search for a selected word or text. "To select text in a Google eBook within the Web Reader, double-click or highlight it with your mouse and a pop-up menu opens with the following options: Define, Translate, Search Book, Search Google and Search Wikipedia," explains the Google Books blog.

Definitions are obtained from Google Dictionary, while translation is powered by Google Translate. If you click "Search Book", Google shows a list of all the instances in which the selected text appears in the book.

These features aren't available yet in the Google Books apps for Android and iPhone.

0 How to Turn Your Dream Into a Plan In Five Simple Steps

I’m sure you have plenty of dreams for your life. They might bubble away at the back of your mind. They might loom in your thoughts all day. They might even keep you awake at night.

Dreams can be powerful, encouraging and even a bit scary. A dream alone, though, isn’t going to get you far.

What you need is a plan.

And if that sounds too boring, think of it this way: if you want to actually have that dream, a plan is the map that gets you there.

Here are five steps for turning that vague dream into a concrete plan:

Step #1: Write Down Your Dream

How many of your dreams have you actually written down?

Perhaps the idea of committing your dreams to writing is a little frightening. Don’t resist doing it. The act of putting something into words on paper (or in a computer document) suggests that you’re committing to it – and this can be very powerful in helping you eventually achieve that dream.

Even better, when you write something down, you’re forced to think it through. That vague dream of “have lots of money” has to become something firmer – perhaps “make $100,000/year” or “have $200,000 in the bank”.

Step #2: Brainstorm Some Possibilities
Whatever your dream, there’s more than one way to reach it. For instance, if you want to make lots of money, you could:
  • Change careers to something more lucrative
  • Work harder in your current job to get a promotion
  • Go back to college and study for a degree
  • Start up your own business as an entrepreneur
  • Save up money and put it into a high-interest account
  • Marry someone rich
  • Buy a winning lottery ticket
There are lots of possibilities (and I hope you can see that some of those ones are a bit more realistic than others!) When you’re brainstorming, include all the ideas that come to mind – even ones which seem silly or impractical. You might find that a “stupid” idea leads you on to a really good one.

Step #3: Pick One Clear Goal

Once you’ve figured out some possibilities, come up with one clear goal. You might decide, for instance, that your goal is to change to a particular career which will give you a $80,000/year paycheck.

Look for a goal which is perhaps challenging, but achievable. There’s no point in picking a goal which you’re convinced you can’t really manage – that’s just going to put you back in the world of dreams, where you constantly think about a better future without taking any action towards getting there.

Step #4: Give Yourself a Deadline

It’s much easier to hit your goals when you’re working towards a deadline.

Again, you want to be realistic here – but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself a little. If you’ve got a really big goal, you might want to look two – five years ahead. With smaller goals, you can probably achieve them within a year.

With the example of changing career, you might decide that three years is a realistic timeframe. It’s often helpful to tie your deadline to a particular event – perhaps your 40th birthday or Christmas 2014.

Step #5: Write Down the Steps to Get You There

And now we’re onto the plan itself. This is where you really get into the nitty-gritty and start turning that dream into something real.

With big goals, it’s often helpful to work backwards. So:
  • What are the job requirements of that new career?
  • How can you achieve them (e.g. take night classes)?
  • Are there any pre-requisites for that (e.g. you need some money to pay for the classes)?
  • How can you do that?
You should be able to get to a clear step which lets you move forwards from where you are, such as “save $20/week for six months”.

If you have any steps which you don’t know how to complete, try breaking them down further. Figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve your dream – and you’ve got a plan which really can change your life.

So – what’s your dream? And what’s the first step on your plan? Let us know in the comments.

Written on 5/20/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Photo Credit: Drew Coffman

0 7 Google Features Only Available in Google Chrome

Google Chrome is at the forefront of the new technologies and Google services are the first to use them. Here are some examples of features only available in Google Chrome:

1. Native printing in Google Docs. You no longer have to download PDF files and use Adobe Reader or a similar PDF reader to print documents. Google implemented a W3C working draft from 2006.

2. Uploading folders in Google Docs. While you can install a Java applet in other browsers to upload folders, Chrome is the only browser that supports this feature natively.

3. Voice Input in Google Translate. The latest Chrome version supports the HTML Speech API, which provides speech recognition and input to web pages. The first Google service that supports this feature is Google Translate, but it's also tested for Google Web Search. Instead of typing your query or the text you want to translate, you can speak into your computer's microphone.

4 & 5. Desktop notifications in Gmail and Google Calendar. It's a really useful feature that replaces the annoying pop-up notification in Google Calendar and shows an unobtrusive notification when you receive a new message.

6. Open PDF attachments in Gmail using the built-in PDF reader, instead of Google Docs Viewer. It's not clear why Google doesn't detect Adobe Reader's plug-in to use a more full-featured PDF reader.

7. Drag and drop Gmail attachments to your desktop. Instead of clicking the "download" link, you can drag the file icon to your desktop.

Kamis, 19 Mei 2011

0 Underground

1) London Topological
The Escapist is a film that offers little in the way of plot or characterization, but it often excels at setting. It tells the story of a London prison break, an architectural premise that first springs to mind in the film's protagonist—played by Brian Cox—after a process of what we might call spatial hermeneutics.

He notices, for instance, that, when the dryers in the prison laundry slow to the end of their cycle, a slight whistling sound can still be heard in the background—because the ventilation shafts that draw excess heat from the machines are connected to... to what, he's not exactly sure. But it's a clear indication that there is an outside world beyond the prison's walls.

[Images: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

Later, he notes a dripping water pipe—and, thus, by implication, the outside infrastructure it's connected to.

Of course, this is the nature of all prison break stories: you watch the structures around you for weaknesses, then you maneuver your way through built space against the grain that's been laid out for you. It is plan/counterplan, section/antisection.

[Image: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

In a shot that is admittedly somewhat contrived, given its anomalous appearance in the film, this is made explicit: we see the prison break in a cutaway, the set becoming a diagram of itself as they squirm further into the underground spaces outside their erstwhile jail.

Which brings us to the single most interesting, overriding spatial fact of the film: the prison, we're led to believe, is so nestled into the infrastructure of London, so radically adjacent to the city, that poking holes through the walls and air ducts leads directly to the basements of that annihilatingly grey metropolis.

In fact, it doesn't give much away to point out that their escape, when it actually occurs, is by way of perforations: they knock small holes in walls and floors, peel up floor grates, unscrew locks, and open otherwise unintended connections amongst disparate rooms and corridors, sites never meant to be joined. And then they leave the prison underground.

[Image: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

They are in London, after all, where every building is like a heart transplant, hooked up and sutured to the secret pipes of the city. Every building is sewn and grafted to the networks surrounding it, like architectural conjoined twins who remain unaware of one another until somebody starts digging.

[Images: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

We watch the escapists pass from sewers to underground rivers to the actual Underground itself, whose train-infested tunnels they encounter first by walking down the monumental staircase of an abandoned station—more Macchu Picchu than, say, Charles Holden

[Images: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

—stumbling through dust, abandoned WWII gas masks, and old sweaters, trying to locate themselves by way of an obsolete map.

[Image: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

And so they advance by the light of flames through arches and steel doors—

[Images: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

—until other, more threatening lights find them, instead.

[Images: From The Escapist directed by Rupert Wyatt, courtesy of IFC Films].

2) Hollow Earth
After watching the movie I was reminded of a class called "Underground," taught nine years ago by the late professor Paul Hirst at the London Consortium. The Consortium describes itself as "a unique collaboration between the Architectural Association, Birkbeck College, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Science Museum and TATE."

Hirst pitched his class as an exploration of spatial metaphors: "Underground is also a metaphor for the unconscious," Hirst wrote, "a symbolic site for hidden and uncontrollable psychic forces. This cultural, psychic and metaphorical legacy affects our relation to apparently utilitarian underground structures and activities, such as cellars, graves, mines, tunnels and tubes."

These "cellars, graves, mines, tunnels and tubes" become less real locations, in other words, than narrative symbols, deployed by storytellers not for their spatial utility—not because the story has to go underground—but for their interpretive flexibility.

3) Underground Berlin
This comes at the same time that Princeton Architectural Press has reissued Lebbeus Woods's OneFiveFour, a book originally published in 1989 (and, because of the book's subject matter, it's worth noting that 1989 was the year the Berlin Wall was dismantled).

[Image: From "Underground Berlin" by Lebbeus Woods, taken from the recently republished OneFiveFour].

In that book, Woods both describes and draws a series of projects set in what we might call a speculative sister-city of Berlin. Called "Centricity," it is a metropolis populated with titanic physical devices: "oscilloscopes, refractors, seismometers, interferometers, and other, as yet unknown instruments, measuring light, movement, force, change. Tools for extending perceptivity to all scales of nature are built spontaneously, playfully, experimentally, continuously modified in home laboratories, in laboratories that are homes."

[Image: From "Underground Berlin" by Lebbeus Woods].

Woods then brings us to his own version of Berlin: what he calls "Underground Berlin," implying, in the process, that there was not just an East Berlin and a West Berlin but an Upper and a Lower fragmentation of the metropolis. (Here, I'm reminded of a sewage worker quoted in the recent book Divided Cities: referring to his work in Nicosia, Cyprus, where he maintains a subterranean network in which "all the sewage from both sides of the city is treated," the man jokes that "the city is divided above ground but unified below.")

Underground Berlin, Woods explains, "is a city beneath a city. It is organized as a secret community of resistance to the occupying political powers above and follows existing U-Bahn subway lines."

At this point, the book takes on a kind of terrestrial mysticism. We read, for instance, that there is "something below even more compelling and powerful, something generating effects more powerful than all those from above, more powerful and immediate than history, than culture, than political conflict: the intricate fabric of forces active within the planetary mass of the Earth itself."

These are "geomechanical forces," Woods says, and they "issue from deep within the earth—gravitational, electromagnetic, and seismic forces that come to shape the forms and relationships comprising life in the underground city itself."

[Image: From "Underground Berlin" by Lebbeus Woods].

The city itself is a device, we learn, built to register and respond to the planet's unseen geomechanical shifts. "From the subtly vibrating planetary mass of earth come seismic forces that move the inverted towers and bridges in equally subtle vibrations," Woods explains. "Like musical instruments, they vibrate and shift in diverse frequencies, in resonance with the earth and also with one another."

The buildings are, in effect, "kinetic instruments that measure the earth's inner dynamics," scientific instruments built on an inhabitable scale:
The structures absorb a portion of the mechanical energies and electromagnetic energies received from the earth to realign themselves with the subsurface geometry of rock strata and faults in order to stay tuned with energies flowing along geological lines.
And this extends all the way down to individual pieces of furniture: "each object—chair, table, cloth, examining apparatus, structure—is an instrument."

As a result, the city is a geomechanical orchestra, resistant to mere plan and section, requiring documentation in sound and narrative, as well as image; its "continuous civic space is a great diaphragm resonating with the dissonant or consonant 'music' of the entire network."

[Image: The city as telluric gyroscope; from "Underground Berlin" by Lebbeus Woods].

Briefly, I'll mention that my own first visit to Berlin, in the winter of 1998, was during a period when Potsdamer Platz was still under construction and the massive foundation pits that temporarily defined that part of the city were left wide open to the elements.

Walking through Potsdamer Platz—an historically symbolic center for the city and a former dead zone during the era of the Wall—thus became an amazingly post-terrestrial experience, in the specific sense that you left the surface of the earth behind in order to stroll, instead, across massively cantilevered platforms that served to extend the local roads—which thus weren't really roads but bridges—across the width and breadth of those titanic excavations. You could actually look down, over protective fencing on the edges either side of the sidewalk, into the rebar-filled emptiness you were striding over, feeling the platforms—that seemed as thin as eggshells—vibrate with the passing thunder of trucks and buses.

Further, those voids were filled to not inconsiderable depth with both rain and groundwater, which meant that there were many days during which construction personnel were actually scuba-diving inside the planet—inside the city, inside divided urban history—performing underwater construction in the partially submerged foundations of "Underground Berlin." As if, beneath the city, we would discover not a beach but the oceanic.

The evacuated core of the city thus began to feel more like some massive new installation by Anselm Kiefer—a kind of inverted Mount Meru—a physical realization of what should have been metaphors: cosmic floods, historical evisceration, and the architectural rebirth of an urban species.

4) Mine/Countermine
This idea—that, within the ground itself, a unified political resistance takes shape—brings to mind a pamphlet I read last fall, after a series of interesting conversations with my research assistant at USC, Jonathan Rennie. One day, Jon and I got onto the subject of underground warfare—I no longer remember why—and we stumbled upon Siege Mines and Underground Warfare by Kenneth Wiggins, part of the commendable Shire Archaeology series of pamphlets.

[Image: Scanned from Siege Mines and Underground Warfare by Kenneth Wiggins].

Wiggins's text is short—less than 60 pages—and worth the read. "Siege warfare, the attack and defense of fortified places, has been a feature of human conflict since the dawn of history," he begins. However, "the work of direct approach," as Wiggins calls it, as if mis-citing Hamlet ("By indirections, find directions in," we might say), is often not the best way to achieve victory. The alternative?

Go underground.

[Image: Illustration by Chevalier Follard (1727); scanned from Siege Mines and Underground Warfare by Kenneth Wiggins].

"Every wall has a foundation," Wiggins writes, "and, if that foundation is removed by undermining or 'sapping,' the wall itself will sink, split, shatter or collapse, depending on how the work is carried out. Digging was an alternative way of opening up the defenses of a fortified site to make possible a frontal assault, and this method did not rely on an array of large and expensive wall-breaking artillery." The "undermining of walls" by so-called "underwallers" was thus a military tactic. An anti-architecture. Excavation as weapon.

[Image: Calculating subterranean attack-trigonometry; scanned from Siege Mines and Underground Warfare by Kenneth Wiggins].

After all, "even the strongest wall was vulnerable to unseen attack from miners burrowing somewhere deep in the earth."
The specialists in this area were those men who made a living from mines in which metal ores or other minerals were excavated via shafts and tunnels for commercial purposes, often at depths far below the surface. Miners had expertise in the digging and shoring of tunnels that other civilians could not match, and it is a feature of siege warfare through the ages that the undermining of defenses was invariably attempted by men who were already miners by trade.
But this then, of course, worked both ways: you could tunnel outward from your own citadel in order to literally undermine your attackers—through what Wiggins calls "destructive subsidence"—in order to intercept their tunnels midway.

This was countermining.

[Image: Scanned from Siege Mines and Underground Warfare by Kenneth Wiggins].

When two tunnels met in the mud, rock, and darkness, the ensuing events "could be remarkable" for their brutality, Wiggins writes, "frequently resulting in hand-to-hand combat when opposing tunnels broke into each other, and the outcome of a particular siege could be determined by events played out far below the surface."

But how would you know that miners are approaching—and, even if you did know, how would you determine exactly where they might be?

At Caen, France, for instance, in 1417, the defenders "used vibrations on bowls of water"—like something out of Jurassic Park—"to help detect the English mines." There was also a "prefabricated countermine system" designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger; it "included lower chambers (pozzi), from which galleries could be extended as required." And there was a "mine-detection device," designed by Gabriele Tadidi da Martinengo for the defenders of Rhodes, "consisting of a stressed parchment diaphragm on to which small bells were mounted, which tinkled in response to any subterranean vibration." (Indeed, the Turks apparently had "an 'addiction' to great feats of mining," a contemporary military observer claims.) Much later, during World War I, there was something called the "geophone," a subterranean "listening device" for in-earth acoustic surveillance of approaching miners.

Finally, though, the only foolproof way to protect your castle or city from miners was to surround it with a moat: "water provided the only absolute guarantee of protection from mining," Wiggins points out.

[Image: From Mémoires d'Artillerie by Pierre Surirey de Saint-Rémy (1702); scanned from Siege Mines and Underground Warfare by Kenneth Wiggins].

In any case, I could go on and on with anecdotes—such as the fact that "men with civilian mining experience in the London Underground scheme" were put to work during WWI digging offensive mines along the battle front—but it's best simply to go read Wiggins's book.

5) The Tunnels of Cu Chi
Last week, at Julia Lupton's Design Fictions event, hosted down at UC-Irvine, I was asked during the Q&A if learning about all things underground—from sinkholes to WWII bunkers—can inspire a kind of terrestrial paranoia: fear that, any second now, the surface of the earth might collapse beneath our feet, revealing a world for which we have no real maps nor guiding concepts.

While, on one level, I would actually say that that's exactly why the underground is interesting—and that, speaking only for myself, this existential precariousness should evoke exhilaration, not fear—the actual answer I gave was to tell the story of the tunnels of Cu Chi.

[Images: A camouflaged door in the earth swings open; photos by Kevyn, via Wikipedia].

This is another story that benefits from being told over the course of an entire book, but I will give you the short version. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. constructed a forward-operating base in the jungle, in an area called Cu Chi.

Unfortunately for them, they built the base on top of an extensive network of underground tunnels through which the North Vietnamese Army would run munitions and humanitarian supplies; in which entire subterranean hospitals (one soldier had his punctured intestines repaired using "nylon threads taken from enemy parachutes") and complexly ventilated dormitories were maintained; and out of which attacks on U.S. troops were organized with near impunity. Rigged with booby traps—including hand grenades and boxes full of scorpions—and constructed on multiple underground levels, separated by camouflaged trapdoors, these linked complexes stretched for whole kilometers at a time.

[Image: The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold and John Penycate].

As Tom Mangold and John Penycate explain in their often riveting book The Tunnels of Cu Chi: A Harrowing Account of America's "Tunnel Rats" in the Underground Battlefields of Vietnam:
The underground tunnels of Cu Chi were the most complex part of a network that—at the height of the Vietnam War in the mid sixties—stretched from the gates of Saigon to the border with Cambodia (today, Ho Chi Minh City and Kampuchea). There were hundreds of kilometers of tunnels connecting villages, districts, and even provinces. They held living areas, storage depots, ordnance factories, hospitals, headquarters, and almost every other facility that was necessary to the pursuit of the war by South Vietnam's Communists and that could be accommodated below ground.
"In the end," a former major in the North Vietnamese Army explains, "there were main communications tunnels, secret tunnels, false tunnels. The more the Americans tried to drive us away from our land, the more we burrowed into it."

The authors memorably refer to this subterranean battleground as "the theater of the earth."

The so-called "tunnel warfare" that ensued is the subject of Mangold's and Penycate's book, including the variously weaponized devices and contraptions used by U.S. troops to discover, map, and (unsuccessfully) eliminate these tunnels.

For instance, there was something called the "mighty mite": U.S. troops "used a specially adapted commercial air blower called the 'mighty mite' to blow smoke down the tunnels, and then watched carefully to see where the smoke came out of the ground so that they could begin a rough plot of where the tunnels spread." The U.S. then developed an ineffective Tunnel Exploration Kit; TELACS, a "Tunnel Explorer, Locator and Communications System"; something rather ominously referred to as "the Tunnel Weapon"; extreme earth-moving equipment refitted with steel blades so massive they "could splinter trees of up to three feet in diameter"; an "earthquake bomb"; and an entire inter-military training initiative called the Tunnels, Mines, and Booby-Traps School (oh, to see a speculative collaboration between that School and the Bartlett!).

Of course, this aggressive ingenuity worked both ways; one particularly interesting example of Vietnamese tunnel construction involved a hollowed-out tree whose trunk led directly down into the tunnel networks below, like some sort of botanical chimney. A sniper could thus take shots from the leafy, topmost branches of a tree, only then to disappear, sliding down a climbing rope, into the theater of the earth below.

Through camouflage, the landscape itself became both bewildering shield and offensive weapon.

In any case, with all of the cases cited here, going underground means entering a space of unexpected affiliation: a crosswise architecture of circuits and countertopology.
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