Sabtu, 31 Desember 2011

0 One drop locks up an ocean


First off, happy new year everyone!!

Today my advertorial will be on a product series that is already super well-loved!! Perhaps you already know what it is from the title?

Hint: It's for skin and will make your skin all bouncy and QQ!!

And since one drop locks up an ocean... It is also super hydrating...

That's right it's HADA LABO!!

Hada Labo arrived in Singapore just last year but it's already super popular... The SHA Hydrating Lotion (that's what we Singaporeans know as toner) is the no. 1 face lotion in Japan!

The star ingredient is their Super Hyaluronic Acid which can retain 12 litres of water with 1g, giving you bouncy awesome skin!

Also love that the Hada Labo skincare philosophy is PERFECT X SIMPLE - all unnecessary additives such as colourants and fragrance are omitted, leaving only the good stuff to ensure maximum effectiveness.

And guess what? I've actually been a Hada Labo user since my Tokyo trip with Cheesie in 2010! She also did an advert for them and I saw Hada Labo in a store and asked her, "Eh, really good not?" She said a resounding YES! and I've been using their moisturizer ever since.

And look at the Hada Labo products I got!! *lucky*

I know they look confusing coz of all the Japanese text, so I wrote out the functions of each one. 

Their stellar product has the words there proudly proclaiming that 1 is sold every 4 seconds in Japan. I'm telling you, this is an amazing statistic because the Japan market for skincare is crazy saturated! Whenever you see a product that says "xx sold every xx second in Japan" JUST GRAB AND BUY! Confirm good one!

The toner has a watery but gel-like texture that really quenches your skin's thirst and won't dry skin like some toners do. No smell either.

One drop locks up an ocean... So LOCK UP ALL THE OCEANS!! Yes I'm aware my picture says "unlock" wtf I got mistaken when I photoshopped it. (And that's a 9gag reference)

Check it out... On the left my sponsored product, on the right my own limited edition Minnie Hada Labo lotion bought in Otaru! YOU JELLY?? I wish Singapore has these pretty things sigh... At least we can still buy boring version Hada Labo. LOL

Their essence is also very popular, winning Women's Weekly and Her World beauty awards in 2011.

Texture is firmer than the lotion... I love this! Once it hits the skin you can feel it being absorbed. And it leaves a velvety texture!

Their Hydrating Milk (moisturizer) is one of my FAVOURITE skincare products. I love how hydrating it really is and it spreads easily and doesn't cause me any pimples like some of the more heavy oil-based moisturizers do. AND AND AND THE BEST THING???????

Please look at the picture. It comes in a squeezable bottle NOT A TUB!! You may think this is a very small thing but I really hate digging moisturizers out from tubs. It's so unhygienic to use your fingers and so troublesome to use a scoop. I love how convenient this is. GOOD JOB ON THE DESIGN!

Here's the milky texture. That small amount is enough for the whole face, believe it or not.

If you don't like the Hydrating Milk Hada Labo also came up with a SHA Hydrating Cream... The cream is light and non-greasy and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. WANT!!

Found another product I love. Their Hydrating Face Wash!! I don't know why and how but a very small dollop lathers sooooo much foam and as promised, not drying! Just clean.

Love my Hada Labo!

Are you thinking of giving Hada Labo a try but you don't wish to part with your money? NO WORRIES PLEASE THEY ARE GIVING IT OUT FREE!!! FOR REAL!!

Click HERE to go to their facebook page and just hit on Like to get a free sample!

Additionally, Hada Labo is giving out 31 days of Rewards this whole month! Just go to their facebook and for every single day for 31 days they will pick a lucky fan to win a daily prize. It could be bags worth $200 or dining vouchers worth $100 or Hada Labo products!!

Hada Labo is sold at Watsons, Guardian, FP, Sasa, Unity and major departmental stores.

Prices range from $13.50 - $34.90

0 Bioluminescent Billboards

[Images: A "living neon sign" made of bioluminescent bacteria; via UC San Diego].

Scientists at UC San Diego have made a bioluminescent bacterial billboard. They call it a "living neon sign composed of millions of bacterial cells that periodically fluoresce in unison like blinking light bulbs." Making it all work "involved attaching a fluorescent protein to the biological clocks of the bacteria, synchronizing the clocks of the thousands of bacteria within a colony, then synchronizing thousands of the blinking bacterial colonies to glow on and off in unison."

These are referred to as biopixels.

Two summers ago, we looked at the idea of a "bioluminescent metropolis," where light-emitting organisms could be used to supplement—or even replace—a city's existing sources of illumination, as if scaling the Newnes Glow Worm Tunnel up to size of a whole city (something that might be useful for places where streetlights are being turned off and even physically removed because paying tax in support of public infrastructure is socialist).

In that post, one of my personal favorites here on the blog, we looked at the work of architect Liam Young, who once proposed the creation of bacterial billboards, squirrel-like living screens that would crawl through and inhabit the city. They would nest in trees like LED ornaments and spring up whenever there's news (or advertisements) to display.

[Image: Bioluminescent billboards by Liam Young].

So could this vision of a bioluminescent metropolis be far off? UC San Diego suggests that their "flashing bacterial signs are not only a visual display of how researchers in the new field of synthetic biology can engineer living cells like machines, but will likely lead to some real-life applications." Surely it would not take much work—even if only as a media stunt—to make a full-scale functioning prototype of a bioluminescent streetlight? Or a bioluminescent bathroom nightlight for your kids?

But, then, of course, the inevitable escape from domestication, when invasive bioluminescent organisms, from genetically-modified kudzu and street weeds to super-bright worms and bacterial mats, conquer the city.

(Via Wired UK).

0 Ice Island Infrastructure

[Image: "From Seismic Arrays on Drifting Ice Floes: Experiences From Four Deployments in the Arctic Ocean" by C. Läderach and V. Schlindwein, from Seismological Research Letters].

In a paper published back in the July/August 2011 issue of Seismological Research Letters, authors C. Läderach and V. Schlindwein from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research discuss the benefits of tracking deepsea earthquakes using "seismic stations mounted on drifting ice floes." Indeed, they write, because of the lack of fixed ground points, "mounting conventional land seismometers on drifting sea ice is the only way to acquire seismic data in the Arctic Ocean."

In other words, they want to turn drifting fragments of Arctic sea ice into floating research stations, mapping earthquakes at sea.

[Images: "From Seismic Arrays on Drifting Ice Floes: Experiences From Four Deployments in the Arctic Ocean" by C. Läderach and V. Schlindwein, from Seismological Research Letters].

The authors have already seen considerable success with this method. In a short passage detailing how these systems are physically installed, we read that the seismic arrays "are deployed and recovered by helicopters operating from icebreaking vessels." However, "the time for station installation is very limited," due to weather and rough seas.
Station installation requires two people and a helping hand from the helicopter pilot, and takes about 30 minutes with the data loggers being programmed before the deployment flight. The limited time does not allow waiting for the sensor to equalize. Therefore, we only check the sensor response and locking of the GPS position before leaving the station.
While the authors compare this, briefly, to using buoys—indicating that their method is not all that different from other free-floating oceanographic instrumentation systems—the transformation of icebergs into scientifically useful platforms is a compelling example of how a natural phenomenon can become infrastructure with even the smallest addition of equipment. The iceberg has literally been instrumentalized: a temporary archipelago, too short-lived to appear on maps, turned into a scientific instrument.

In this context, it's worth revisiting the story of Drift Station Bravo, one of many inhabited icebergs in the Cold War era that had its own postal system, complete with historically unique stamp cancellations. [Image: Drift Station Bravo postage cancellation mark, via Polar Philately].

As explained on the website Polar Philately, Colonel Joseph O. Fletcher, commander of an Air Force weather squadron stationed in the Arctic, discovered "a large tabular iceberg... that had broken off the Arctic ice shelf... [and] gone adrift." This ice island was soon "codenamed T-1, taken from its original radar designation as a target." Future "ice islands" were codenamed T-2 and T-3.
On March 19, 1952, the U.S. Air Force led by Colonel Fletcher and some scientists landed on this ice island [T-3] in a C-47 aircraft, setting up a weather observation station. Fletcher established a research station that was manned at this big ice sheet for roughly the next 25 years, despite a grim quote given by the head of the Alaska Air Command at the time, a General Old, who was quoted in a Life magazine article of the time as saying "I don't see how any man can live on this thing."
It's worth repeating that Fletcher's team operated this weather station on a repurposed ice floe for 25 years.
Fletcher's Ice Island, and the research station that was located on it, rotated in circles in the Arctic Ocean, floating aimlessly along in the Arctic currents in a clockwise direction. The station was inhabited mainly by scientists along with a few military crewmen and was resupplied during its existence primarily by military planes operating from Barrow, Alaska.
The island—later renamed "Drift Station Bravo"—was inhabited long enough that it actually got its own postal network.

[Image: Letters postmarked from Drift Station Bravo, via Polar Philately].

From Polar Philately:
During the period of active habitation, T-3 covers [postage stamps] were serviced, each stamped with a variety of hand-stamped cachets and markings, dated, and often marked with a manuscript notation of the geographic position of the drifting station on that particular day of ops. The T-3/Bravo covers were often cancelled at Barrow or at a USAF base in Alaska, and then placed in the mailstream.
In other words, envelopes would be stamped with the latitude and longitude of the iceberg at the moment of a letter's departure.

[Images: Postal marking and a letter from Drift Station Bravo, via Polar Philately].

The story takes on clear geopolitical dimensions when we remember that Drift Station Bravo and its ilk—such as Drift Station Alpha, about which you can watch an entire documentary film—were created in direct response to the Soviet Union's own ice island program. The Soviets "already operated six drifting ice camps of this kind," we read in the documentary transcript, downloadable as a 27kb PDF, but, "owing to the particular strategic importance and sensitivity of the Arctic Basin, little information from these early Soviet stations had reached the West."

The transcript goes on to explain how the U.S managed to architecturally colonize these mobile platforms. Military civilization on the ice established itself as follows:
...a ski-equipped C-47 landed on the ice and deployed the first team of workers. It included an Air Force Major as camp commander and several soldiers with technical skills who had volunteered for 6 months duty on the ice, plus four of the typical tough and versatile Alaskan construction workers.

Modular buildings, called Jamesway huts, camp supplies, fuels, two small World War II Studebaker tractors, called Weasel, and a small bulldozer, were dropped by parachutes.
The story expands rapidly from here. In an article originally published in the September-October 1966 issue of Air University Review, we read that competitive Soviet drift stations apparently discovered a "second magnetic north pole... located near 80° N and 178° W, with magnetic medians extending across the Arctic Ocean," and that sulfuric gas fumes from a badly timed undersea volcanic eruption killed at least one unlucky crew member. A particularly eye-popping detail comes when we read that these researchers deliberately generated earthquakes in the iceberg they lived on: "we generated tiny earthquakes in the ice. The propagation of the compressional waves generated in this way are used to study the elastic properties of the ice."

This brings us back to C. Läderach and V. Schlindwein, whose paper in Seismological Research Letters examines the problem of "icequakes," or seismic activity internal to the ice floe on which their equipment rests, thus interfering with accurate measurements. They even mention at least one occurrence of a so-called "bearquake," when a curious polar bear came by to nudge the seismometer and see what was really going on. The authors refer to these events as "special signals."

In any case, will this floating seismic network adrift in the waters of the Arctic also receive its own stamps and postal cancellations? Presumably not, but it would nonetheless be interesting to examine the becoming-infrastructure of these ice floes in a larger geographic context.

0 We Can Move It For You Wholesale

[Images: Moving Fort Moore High School in Los Angeles, 1886; photos courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust/C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries].

In 1886, Los Angeles moved the Fort Moore High School. "A contractor who claimed he could accomplish the task hoisted the building onto scaffolding and, using rollers, horses, and human labor, slowly moved the schoolhouse toward its new location," KCET explains. "After work was underway, the contractor decided that the task was impossible after all. The building remained where his crew left it"—unfortunately, not marooned on the stilts seen here, like some steampunk Walking City, but on its new ground-level site blocks away. Once lowered back to earth, it was "repurposed as a schoolhouse for younger students while a new, grander high school was built atop Fort Moore Hill."

It's as if, in a dreamtime state before any of us can remember, buildings once moved around Los Angeles, nomadic titans settling down only with the end of prehistory. Perhaps they will wake up and walk again, criss-crossing valleys, crawling over hills, rearranging roadways around themselves.

Eventually, most of Fort Moore Hill itself was physically removed from the city. "In 1949, construction crews transported away most of the hill by the truckload," we read, turning it into one of the "lost hills of downtown Los Angeles." If only the hill had disappeared, however, leaving all the buildings built upon it stranded on wooden scaffolds in the sunlight, a tablecloth trick in architectural form.

0 Predictions for Google's 2012

Last year's predictions weren't that great (the predictions for 2010 were better), but predicting the future is an addictive game, so I'll try again. Here are my predictions for 2012:

1. Oflline Google stores that will sell Chromebooks, Android phones, Google TV boxes, Google-branded shirts and more.

2. Google Music will become a subscription service.

3. Google will focus on improving the quality of Android apps. It will offer better tools for creating consistent user interfaces, it will review some of the new apps and applications will be able to request additional permissions after they've been installed.

4. Google Games - a new service for multiplayer games that will combine the best games for Chrome, Android and Google+, while syncing your data, ranking users and allowing you to challenge your friends.

5. A new music editing online service that will only work in Chrome (and probably other Chrome-only services).

6. ARM Chromebooks (notebooks and tablets) and ARM Google TV boxes will be cheaper and more successful.

7. Google+ will have at least 300 million users at the end of 2012 and will incorporate many existing Google apps. Google will aggressively promote the service and will even integrate it with Chrome.

8. Google Instant Answers - an improved OneBox that will offer some of the detailed answers that are available in Wolfram Alpha.

9. A virtual assistant for Android that will be more powerful than Siri and it will also be available in the desktop Google interface as an upgrade for voice search. Google will get better at supporting natural language queries.

10. Google's navigation menu will be customizable and the notification box will support new services.

11. The first Google-branded Motorola phones and tablets.

12. Google search results personalized based on information from your calendar, Google+ posts, the apps you install etc.

13. Google Doodle Creator - a service that lets you create a doodle and share it with your friends.

14. Image Search will be able to analyze images and recognize multiple objects and people.

15. Chrome Web Store apps and extensions for Android.

16. YouTube's HTML5 player will become the default player.

17. YouTube's new TV-like channels will combine some of the best videos that are available.

18. The largest fine in Google's history.

19. Blog commenting service powered by Google+.

20. Google+ Answers service replaces Aardvark.

21. An online Chrome dashboard will let you access your data (bookmarks, passwords, apps) even when you don't use Chrome.

22. Better Google Docs for tablets, Google Drive - a new name for the Google Docs list, apps for syncing files and more free storage.

Jumat, 30 Desember 2011

0 7 Secrets to Making This Year the Best Year Ever

It’s the time of year when goals are made and abandoned a few weeks later. Will you be one of them, or will you set goals that have the power to change your life?

Not achieving what you set out to do means you’ll yet again fail to move toward the life you desire, which leads to nothing but regret. Inertia can be difficult to overcome, but something you may overlook is the influence from friends, parents, and society in general.

Often what you believe you want is not what you want at all. The trick lies in setting meaningful objectives.

It doesn’t matter whether you set goals or not, as long as you’re doing something that makes you come alive.
  1. Stay Here and Now
    Before you decide what you want to do, stay present here and now. Forget about the past and the future. Let any and all thoughts pass. Don’t give them meaning, and don’t add to them.

    It is from this blank, calm state that you can begin to look at what has gone well last year, and what hasn’t.

  2. Eliminate
    The big mistake people make is they think more is better, but that isn’t always the case. The more things you do, the less time you have. You want to make sure that every single thing in your life is something you’ve consciously chosen.

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things that distract you from what you really want to do, because you’re afraid.

    Instead of letting distractions take over your life, look at what you can stop doing. Pick just one thing right now. Keep it simple, and then eliminate it from your life. It could be something small, such as a magazine subscription, or something bigger, like fast food.

  3. Discriminate
    You have to be vigilant about what you let into your life. Learn to say no and learn to respect your own time. You don’t always have to say yes to friends and family. First, think about what you want to do. Otherwise you’ll end up living someone else’s life.

    If you complain about not having enough time, you probably need to get clearer about what you want from life. And by clear, I mean really, really clear. Focus on ONE main thing at a time.

  4. Goals
    Next, set one big goal for the year. And by goal, I don’t necessarily mean regular goal setting. Set a direction for where you want to go.

    I simply use the concept of goals to get a point across. Goal-setting is just a process that gets you results. What matters are the results; many get stuck on the process, but the process doesn’t matter.

    Use whatever feels good, and take action. Start now.

  5. Focus (on Your Next Step)
    When you have one big goal, it’s time to look at what your next step is. What can you do right now to move closer to that goal?

    Keep the next step as tiny as possible. It could be brainstorming ideas and action steps. Whatever it is, start now. Yes, you can put it off, but if you do that, you’re putting off your life. If you make it a habit, you’ll end up living a mediocre life.

    Do you really want that?

    Living an extraordinary life takes effort, at least at first, which is why most people turn it down.

  6. Momentum
    When you focus on taking one step at a time, you build momentum. You take one step, then the next, and then the next. It eliminates overwhelm, because you don’t have to try and predict the future.

    Know where you’re going, and keep taking the next step. Let the rest take care of itself.

  7. The Most Important Secret
    Last, but not least, remember to focus on what matters to you. Forget about what others think you should or shouldn’t do. This is your life, and you are the one who has to live it.

    If someone thinks you have to do something that you don’t want, forget about them. If they try to push you to do it, eliminate them from your life. I know, easier said than done!

    There’s no one you have to put up with, and nothing you have to do, except follow what feels right for you. Always remember that, because that is what will help you create results that matter and make this year the best one of your life.
Written on 12/30/2011 by Henri Junttila. Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud, where he shares his personal tips on how you can live the life you know you deserve. When you feel ready to take action, get his free course: How to Find Your Passion (And Build a Business Around It).Photo Credit: lednichenkoolga

Kamis, 29 Desember 2011

0 Living your dream

Hello from Dallas, Texas!

I actually brought the photos taken during Napbas over here to edit so that I can blog something out while I'm on my annual trip to America to visit Mike's family but... I know you are sick of hearing this... My neck and right arm is hurting me more than ever. :(

I did acupotomy (it's like acupuncture but sorta different, google it) with Cheesie in KL because she had the same pains as me and swore it worked for her. The doctor was very confident that she could cure my pains and I expressed my doubts, saying "It has been hurting for a long time now."

She asked how long and I said erm... like 4 months? She scoffed and said she just cured someone who has been in pain for 40 years. On a side note I wonder why anyone who is in pain for 40 years would even be aware that he is in pain. I mean, after such a long time won't you just forget how being NORMAL feels like?

Anyway yes so after the acupotomy the pain in my neck went away but my arm still hurts a little when using the computer. Now the pain in the neck is back again wtf so I'm not gonna aggravate it by photoshopping pictures. When I get back to Singapore I'm gonna do that acupotomy thing again in KL and pray it works :(

So I'm just gonna blog something without posting (much) pictures!

First I'd like to talk a little more about the previous post about the angry Aussie bloggers. I cannot believe how nice I was to that crazy woman. You'd think that after my explanations she'd calm the fuck down but instead she got even more self-righteous and pompous. Talk about a giant stick in the ass!

And then she picked out the two most childish comments that my readers wrote for her and blogged it out, acting like she got bullied, conveniently, oh so conveniently, adding that she was sexually assaulted (by more than one person oh dear lord!), had a miscarriage, is medically unfit and obese blahitty blah blah.

HOW IS THAT RELEVANT? What, so you had tragic experiences means you can act like a fucking cunt?

I had an ex schoolmate who was really unpopular. She then told everyone she had leukemia and was expected to live for only 2 more years and she kept fainting during P.E. lessons. The teachers would scold anyone who is mean to her because they felt so sorry for a teenager with terminal cancer. BITCH IS STILL ALIVE TILL TODAY, 12 YEARS LATER. Well played!

Anyway at first this Melissa was all like OH EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION and when she had a tidal wave of hatred she shut off comments and deleted all comments that mentioned me (unless it's negative of course). Whatever. Your words don't mean shit when you keep flipping them around. You know roti prata, Melissa? You flip more than that can?

When Australian's hear "Best" they assume it relates to content. Apparently, it's different in Asia.

Redundant apostrophe FYI.

Can anyone give me an explanation of her above quote that is NOT deemed to be racist? What? It's Opposite Day in Asia and Best means Worst here? She's so annoying! I hope a wombat attacks her stupid face.


Also I'd like to say a LOUDDDD thank you to everyone who defended me. I read the comments on her blog (which became exceedingly dry and boring once she stopped talking about me *yawn*) and some are so touching I actually teared wtf. I LOVE YOU ALL!

So back to the main topic of this blog entry.

2 days ago I was randomly surfing through TV channels and saw something titled "Jeff Dunham" so I stopped at that, thinking I'd enjoy watching his comedy show.

As it turns out it is not his show but a documentary of his life.

In case you still don't know who he is, he is a famous ventriloquist and he is very funny!

He got really famous when one of his acts with Achmed the Dead Terrorist got viral on youtube and is STILL one of the top viewed videos ever.

You done watching the video? Welcome back.

As I was saying, Jeff Dunham's documentary. My interest wandered off so I just left the TV on but later on I heard the host talking about Jeff's childhood. And I was shocked to learn that he started being a ventriloquist at age 8!!

8! Can you imagine that? Being a ventriloquist was all he ever wanted to do (and only 'job' he did) and he knew what he wanted since he was so freaking young.

I guess I somehow always thought he started doing this in his mid twenties and immediately got recognised?

He is now 49 and he used all 41 years of his life to hone his skills till he is now arguably the most famous ventriloquist in the world.

I guess I was so shocked because he is quite a good looking dude and honestly ventriloquy, before Jeff Dunham imho, has always been an uncool thing with a crazy creepiness to it, sorta like clowns I guess, but even scarier!

(Digressing, did anyone else watch the movie Dead Silence? That shit was fucking scary! Done by the creators of Saw, with a good twist but scary.)

So back to Jeff. I just didn't believe that any *normal* person would take ventriloquy up as a hobby. He doesn't seem socially awkward afterall, what would his friends think when they go to his room and see that instead of toy cars and balls it has an array of creepy puppets?

His parents actually bought him his first puppet and ever since then he has been collecting them. His documentary had footage of his collection of vintage puppets, it freaked me out, they were so ugly :X

When he was 12 he started attending the ventriloquy conventions out of state in Kentucky when he is from Dallas, Texas (where I am now, coincidentally!). I mean isn't that some hard work for a 12 year old boy? When I was 12 what was I doing? Wondering if the handsome boy in class liked me back. And there this dude was, competing with the pros after taking a plane. WTF.

Ever since he was a teenager he worked as a ventriloquist but never enjoyed real success from it (although he was earning a living) all the way until 2005.

That's almost 30 years of chasing his dream and never giving up, because he was a man who knew what he wanted! How could he even believe that a ventriloquist could become part of pop culture? It has never been done before; it is so antiquated. The mere idea of this a few years ago was laughable.

I'm so amazed by this story because so many things could have happened and he wouldn't have been the Jeff Dunham he is today.

At age 8 his parents might have never gave him a puppet, deciding on perhaps an air rifle instead.

At age 12 he could have been called a faggot by male classmates and given up.

At age 25 he might have thought "If I'm not famous by now I'd never be, I guess I'm just not good enough" and decided to not aim for fame anymore, just be content with performing for birthday parties. His wife might have thrown his dolls away. I would NOT stay in a house with creepy puppets!

Of course, not everyone who persists in pursuing their dreams will succeed. Besides perseverance and hard work you also need talent (which Jeff had) and luck. But without believing in yourself, all the talent and luck will bring you nowhere.

Well unless you are a supermodel scouted in a mall but I mean talents that cannot be seen unless you perform them ie being an inventor or singer or whatever.

Don't you guys hear stories like this and wonder what your life would be like if you had known what you wanted since a young age and chased all your life after your dream?

Jeff said that ventriloquy is a learned skill, just like juggling, and anyone who has a voice can do it. I wonder if this is true.

I also often wonder how my life would be like today if I didn't start my blog. Or perhaps if I started a few years later when it is more difficult to get noticed. Or if I chose to shut it down when the hate mail became too much.

I mean it's not like I knew it was my calling or anything, I just discovered I liked it and people seemed to think I do it well. And I was very lucky because I discovered it at age 18, which allowed me years to develop my skills.

Not like I'm Jeff Dunham or anything close, but similar to him, that one day in my life, like the day he received his puppet, I started my blog and it changed my entire life.

And what a great life it is!

This 2012, I hope everyone reading this blog will persevere in living their dreams no matter how impossible and tough it may seem, and may you make your mark in the world! 

To those of you with no big dreams, may you either find your calling or just be happy and contented with all the small little things in life. :)


p/s: Melissa leaves the most vomit-worthy comment, click on comments to read.

Rabu, 28 Desember 2011

0 Trying to Improve Your Willpower is a HUGE Mistake - Here's What to Do Instead

When we're failing to reach our goals, we often blame a lack of willpower:

I've gotta try harder.

If only I could stay focused.

I need to be more determined.

I have to be self-disciplined.

The problem is, willpower alone won't get you far. You know that, really; you've seen the times in your own life when you tried to be determined and self-disciplined ... but when you still failed to reach your goal.

Maybe you tried to lose weight – but ended up scoffing junk food every evening.

Maybe you wanted to save money – but you couldn't resist that shiny new laptop.

Maybe you were going to take up exercise – but you just couldn't manage to get up early enough to hit the gym before work.

Every time, you probably blamed yourself. You felt lazy or stupid for not managing to stick to your plans. Perhaps you looked at friends or colleagues who were succeeding in similar goals – and you felt sure that they had some huge reserves of willpower which you lacked.

You felt like you just weren't cut out for success.

The truth is, willpower is hugely over-rated. We don't generally achieve things by gritting our teeth and struggling on manfully.

Why Willpower Doesn't Work
There are plenty of times when you've used willpower successfully. Maybe you:
  • Resisted the lure of that chocolate cookie
  • Made that difficult phone call
  • Tidied up a messy room
  • Said "no thanks" to a third glass of wine
...and so on.

The problem is, willpower is a limited resource. You can't stick to a diet by sheer willpower, day after day after day. And you've probably noticed that on days when you've been trying really hard to be patient or to stick with a tough task, you're more likely to crack and fail in a difference area.

So, if you try to improve your willpower – forcing yourself to rely on it, or even putting yourself in situations where you'll be tested – then you're just setting yourself up to fail.

What Works Instead
We're all creatures of habit. We tend to take the easiest route, or the one which seems most attractive – we need to apply our willpower to do anything else. Our daily environment (home, work, etc) makes far more of a difference than most of us realize. For instance, if you've got a vending machine at work, you're probably going to end up buying more snacks than you otherwise would.

Instead of fighting against your habits and environment, get them to work with you!

That means doing these sorts of things:
  • Keep those tempting candy bars out of your house. If they're sitting within easy reach, chances are, you'll grab one without even thinking. But if you have to go to the store every time you want candy, your natural laziness will usually stop you…

  • Make it hard to access distractions on your computer. Do you always end up playing flash games or checking Facebook when you should be working? Then block those websites. If you want to stop checking email first thing, then don't let the program load up as soon as your computer is switched on.

  • Work exercise into your day. Instead of trying to get up at 5am, or drag yourself out in the evening, how about going for a brisk walk during your lunch break?

  • Hide the TV remote so that you don't switch the television on as soon as you get home from work.

  • Build a habit. If you're trying to establish something new in your life – like reading for 30 minutes every day – then find a consistent time and place for it. Once something becomes just another part of your routine, it's easy to keep it up.

  • Chase goals that excite you. Of course, however awesome your goal, it's not going to inspire you every minute of every day – but it's much easier to achieve something which you want than something which you just feel you should do.
Has willpower ever worked for you? If it has, let us know about it! And if not, what went wrong – could changing your habits and your environment help, instead?

Written on 12/28/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali is a writer of fiction and non-fiction and a writing coach. She blogs about writing on her site,, and has a free ebook "How to Find Time For Your Writing" available when you join her writing newsletter here.Photo Credit: locusolus

Sabtu, 24 Desember 2011

0 Return of the Brick Swarm

A short video has been released documenting the brick swarm project mentioned here last month, in which Swiss architects Gramazio & Kohler deploy semi-autonomous flying robots to assemble a structure of foam bricks. However, it's as if the architects underestimate the interest of their own work, fast-forwarding through the bulk of the assembly process as if no one would want to watch such a thing (or perhaps their robots were less graceful than originally hoped). Either way, check out the results, embedded above.

(Thanks to phenrydelphia for the tip!)

Jumat, 23 Desember 2011

0 Speleological Superparks

[Image: Downtown Reno on a Saturday night with people queuing up to climb the BaseCamp wall; photo by BLDGBLOG].

As part of an overall strategy to rebrand itself not as a city of gambling and slot machines—not another Las Vegas—but as more of a gateway to outdoor sports and adventure tourism—a kind of second Boulder or new Moab—Reno, Nevada, now houses the world's largest climbing wall, called BaseCamp, attached to the side of an old hotel.

[Image: The wall; photo by BLDGBLOG].

BaseCamp is "a 164-foot climbing wall, 40 feet taller than the previous world’s highest in the Netherlands," according to DPM Climbing. "The bouldering area will also be world-class with 2900 square feet of overhanging bouldering surface."

You can see a few pictures of those artificial boulders over at DPM.

[Image: The wall; photo by BLDGBLOG].

Fascinatingly, though, the same company who designed and manufactured this installation—a firm called Entre Prises—also makes artificial caves.

One such cave, in particular, created for and donated to the British Caving Association, is currently being used "to promote caving at shows and events around the country. It is now housed in its own convenient trailer and is available for use by Member Clubs and organizations."

[Image: The British Caving Association's artificial cave, designed by Entre Prises; photo by David Cooke].

These replicant geological forms are modular, easily assembled, and come in indoor and outdoor varieties. Indoor artificial caves, we read, "are usually made from polyester resin and glass fibre as spraying concrete indoors is often not very practicable. Indoor caves provide the experience of caving without some of the discomforts of natural or outdoor caves: the air temperature can be relatively easily controlled, in most cases specialist clothing is not required [and] the passage walls are not very thick so more cave passage can be designed to go into a small area."

Further, maintaining the exclamation point from the original text: "The modular nature of the Speleo System makes it possible to create any cave type and can be modified in minutes by simply unbolting and rotating a section! This means you can have hundreds of possible caving challenges and configurations for the price of one."

It would be interesting to live in a city, at least for a few weeks, ruled by an insane urban zoning board who require all new buildings—both residential and commercial—to include elaborate artificial caves. Not elevator shafts or emergency fire exits or public playgrounds: huge fake caves torquing around and coiling through the metropolis. Caves that can be joined across property lines; caves that snake underneath and around buildings; caves that arch across corporate business lobbies in fern-like sprays of connected chambers. Plug-in caves that tour the city in the back of delivery trucks, waiting to be bolted onto existing networks elsewhere. From Instant City to Instant Cave. Elevator-car caves that arrive on your floor when you need them. Caves on hovercrafts and helicopters, detached from the very earth they attempt to represent.

This brings to mind the work of Carsten Höller, implying a project someday in which the Turbine Hall in London's Tate Modern could be transformed into the world's largest artificial cave system, or perhaps even a future speleo-superpark in a place like Dubai, where literally acres of tunnels sprawl across the landscape, inside and outside, aboveground and below ground, in unpredictably claustrophobic rearrangeable prefab whorls.

The "outdoor" varieties, meanwhile, are actually able "to be buried within a hillside"; however, they "must be able to withstand the bearing pressure of any overlying material, eg. soil or snow. This is usually addressed by making the caving structures in sprayed concrete that has been specifically engineered to withstand the loads. Alternatively the cave passages can be constructed in polyester resin and glass fibre but then they have to be within a structural 'box' if soil pressure is to be applied."

In any case, here are some of the cave modules offered by Entre Prises, a kind of cave catalog called the Speleo System—though it's worth noting, as well, that "To add interest within passages and chambers, cave paintings and fossils can be added. This allows for user interest to be maintained, creating an educational experience."

[Image: The Speleo System by Entre Prises].

As it happens, Entre Prises is also in the field of ice architecture. That is, they design and build large, artificially maintained ice-climbing walls.

These "artificial ice climbing structures... support natural ice where the air temperature is below freezing point." However, "permanent indoor structures," given "a temperature controlled environment," can also be created. These are described as "self generating real ice structures that utilize a liquid nitrogen refrigeration system."

[Images: An artificial ice structure by Entre Prises for the Winter X Games].

Amongst many things, what interests me here is the idea that niche sports enthusiasts—specifically cavers and climbers—have discovered and, perhaps more importantly, financially support a unique type of architecture and the construction techniques required for assembling it that, in an everyday urban context, would appear quite eccentric, if not even avant-garde.

Replicant geological formations in the form of modular, aboveground caves and artificially frozen concrete towers only make architectural and financial sense when coupled with the needs of particular recreational activities. These recreational activities are more like spatial incubators, both inspiring and demanding new, historically unexpected architectural forms.

So we might say that, while architects are busy trying to reimagine traditional building typologies and architectural programs—such as the Library, the Opera House, the Airport, the Private House—these sorts of formally original, though sometimes aesthetically kitsch, designs that we are examining here come not from an architecture firm at all, or from a particular school or department, but from a recreational sports firm pioneering brand new spatial environments.

As such, it would be fascinating to see Entre Prises lead a one-off design studio somewhere, making artificial caves a respectable design typology for students to admit they're interested in, while simultaneously pushing sports designers to see their work in more architectural terms and prodding architects to see niche athletes as something of an overlooked future clientele.

Kamis, 22 Desember 2011

0 YouTube's Snow Effects

If you liked Google's "let it snow" Easter egg, YouTube has some special effects for you. YouTube's player has a new button for snow, the progress bar includes a snowflake, while the search results page for queries like [snow] or [Christmas] use a simplified snow animation.

{ Thanks, Sterling, Venkat and Cookie Lee. }

0 Brooklyn Vent

[Image: Disguised infrastructure; photo by BLDGBLOG].

In the novel Foucault's Pendulum, two characters discuss a house that is not what it appears to be. People "walk by" this certain house in Paris, we read, "and they don't know the truth. That the house is a fake. It's a facade, an enclosure with no room, no interior. It is really a chimney, a ventilation flue that serves to release the vapors of the regional Métro. And once you know this you feel you are standing at the mouth of the underworld..."

[Image: The door to the underworld; photo by BLDGBLOG].

Two days ago, Nicola Twilley and I went on an early evening expedition over to visit the house at 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, with its blacked out windows and unresponsive front door.

This "house" is actually "the world's only Greek Revival subway ventilator" and disguised emergency exit.

[Image: Disguised infrastructure; photo by BLDGBLOG].

According to a blog called the Willowtown Association, "the ventilator was a private brownstone dating from 1847. The substation was built in 1908 in conjunction with the start of subway service to Brooklyn. As reported in the BKLYN magazine article, the building's 'cavernous interior once housed a battery of electrical devices that converted alternating current to the 600-volt direct current needed to power the IRT.'"

[Image: A view through the front door of 58 Joralemon Street; photo by BLDGBLOG].

It is New York's more interesting version of 23/24 Leinster Gardens in London. As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote last year, "the exit disguised as a brownstone leads to a grimy-lit set of metal stairs that ascend past utility boxes and ventilation shafts into a windowless room with a door. If you opened the door, you would find yourself on a stoop, which is just part of the façade."

[Image: Photo by BLDGBLOG].

You'll notice on Google Maps that the 4/5 subway line passes directly beneath the house, which brings to mind an old post here on BLDGBLOG in which we looked at the possibility that repurposed subway cars could be used someday as extra, rentable basement space—that is, "temporary basements in the form of repurposed subway cars," with the effect that "each private residence thus becomes something like a subway station, with direct access, behind a locked door, to the subterranean infrastructure of the city far below."
Then, for a substantial fee—as much as $15,000 a month—you can rent a radically redesigned subway car, complete with closets, shelves, and in-floor storage cubes. The whole thing is parked beneath your house and braked in place; it has electricity and climate control, perhaps even WiFi. You can store summer clothes, golf equipment, tool boxes, children's toys, and winter ski gear.
When you no longer need it, or can't pay your bills, you simply take everything out of it and the subway car is returned to the local depot.
A veritable labyrinth of moving rooms soon takes shape beneath the city.
Perhaps Joralemon Street is where this unlikely business model could be first tried out...

In any case, Nicola and I walked over to see the house for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the disguised-entrance-to-the-underworld is undoubtedly one of the coolest building programs imaginable, and would make an amazing premise for an intensive design studio; but also because the surface vent structures through which underground currents of air are controlled have always fascinated me.

These vents appear throughout New York City, as it happens—although Joralemon, I believe, is the only fake house—serving as surface articulations of the larger buried networks to which they are connected.

[Image: Two views of the tunnel vent on Governors Island; photos by BLDGBLOG].

The Battery Tunnel has a particularly noticeable vent, pictured above, and the Holland Tunnel also vents out near my place of work.

[Image: Holland Tunnel exhaust tower; photo via].

As historian David Gissen writes in his excellent book Subnature: Architecture's Other Environments, New York's ventilation control structures are "strange buildings" that have "collapsed" the difference between architecture and civil engineering:
The Holland Tunnel spanned an enormous 8,500 feet. At each end, engineers designed ten-story ventilation towers that would push air through tunnels above the cars, drawing the vehicle exhaust upward, where it would be blown back through the tops of the towers and over industrial areas of the city. The exhaust towers provided a strange new building type in the city—a looming blank tower that oscillated between a work of engineering and architecture.
As further described in this PDF, for instance, Holland Tunnel has a total of four ventilation structures: "The four ventilation buildings (two in New Jersey and two in New York) house a total of 84 fans, of which 42 are blower units, and 42 are exhaust units. They are capable, at full speed, of completely changing the tunnel air every 90 seconds."

[Image: The Holland Tunnel Land Ventilation Building, courtesy of Wikipedia].

Several years ago a friend of ours remarked that she didn't like staying in hotels near Columbus Circle here in New York because that's the neighborhood, she said, where all the subways vent to—a statement that appears to be nothing more than an urban legend, but that nonetheless sparked off a long-term interest for me in finding where the underground weather systems of New York City are vented to the outside. Imagine an entire city district dedicated to nothing but ventilating the underworld!

[Image: The house on Joralemon Street; photo by BLDGBLOG].

This is a topic I will no doubt return to at some point soon—but, for now, if you want to see a disguised entrance to the 4/5 line, walk down Joralemon Street toward the river and keep your eyes peeled soon after the street turns to cobblestones.

(The house on Joralemon Street first discovered via Curbed).

0 Drone Tax

[Image: An otherwise unrelated image of the unmanned Draganflyer X8 system, courtesy of Draganfly].

A post on sUAS News—a blog tracking the "small unmanned aviation system industry"—we read about the possibility of drone aircraft being used to enforce residential property tax.

Citing a recent court ruling in Arkansas that "has approved the use of aerial imagery to collect data on property sizes," and making reference to the already-controversial state deployment of aerial surveillance tools, sUAS suggests that drones could someday be used to manage a near-realtime catalog of local property expansions, transfers, and other tax-relevant land alterations.

Whether enforcing local building codes—keeping an eye, for instance, on illegally built structures such as the so-called Achill Henge in Ireland—or reconciling on-the-ground property lines with their administrative representations back in the city land archives, how soon will drones become a state tool for regional landscape management?

[Images: Might semi-autonomous systems such as this someday track residential property lines? Images courtesy of Draganfly].

"Imagine your local planning officer having access to your back garden at a moment's notice!" sUAS writes with alarm. "With the pullback from Iraq and other spots under way, this scenario is much easier to imagine. Perhaps it's already happening."

(Thanks to Ruth Lyons for the Achill Henge link).

0 A 7-Mile Rainbow for Kim Jong-il

[Image: Assembling the 7-mile rainbow one ring at a time, by Ben Masterton-Smith].

Ben Masterton-Smith, recipient of the inaugural RIBA Norman Foster Traveling Scholarship in 2007, visited North Korea for a period of architectural and spatial research. One of the many outcomes of that trip was Ben's diploma project, part of which proposed a farcical realization of a 7-mile rainbow reportedly seen on the occasion of Kim Jong-il's birth.

[Image: Assembling the rainbow; images by Ben Masterton-Smith].

Truckloads of vinyl are delivered to the capital city; teams of "volunteers" pump vast amounts of air into the unfolding structures—the imperial inflatable as architectural type; and, lo, the titanic pink and purple form ascends to its nostalgic place in the public firmament, assembled ring by ring across the sky.

[Image: The glorious 7-mile rainbow takes form].

While I have cherry-picked only one aspect of Ben's overall North Korean research project, and thus this might seem like a bit of a one-note flute, I have to say that the absurdly over-the-top scale of the proposal actually seems spot-on for an architectural critique of Kim Jong-il's surreal stage-managing of North Korean life.

In many ways, this spatial realization of the state's own ridiculous mythology serves as a sadly necessary—because totally delirious—over-compensation for the otherwise monumentally vacuous cityscapes of North Korean urbanism, as if the grotesque political spectacle of a pink rainbow soaring seven miles over the city might retroactively justify that city's empty stagecraft.

[Images: Rainbow diagrams by Ben Masterton-Smith].

In the annals of dictatorial natural history—where, apparently, "even nature is mourning" the death of Kim Jong-il—the tongue-in-cheek architectural manifestation of an otherwise impossible worldly phenomena acts not as celebration but as spatial parody. It is sarcasm, we might say, given architectural form.

[Image: The rainbow under construction; image by Ben Masterton-Smith].

In any case, a few more images from the project are available on Ben's Flickr page.
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