Thursday, July 29, 2010

Basement Make-up

Saw too many girls with basement make-up today: did their make-up in really poor lighting and way over applied. Blush is the worse. Just look in some natural light when you come up please!
You're beautiful, and this will also save you money!

Monday, July 26, 2010




Like for three reasons:
- Adopts a broader definition of 'national wealth' beyond GDP
- Overcomes *ignorant* majority rules issue of democracy
- Data / predictive model driven policy enforcement, none of this finger waving!

Still though, somewhat of a shame that money is still seen as the bottom-line mechanism of motivation, and secondly, I don't necessarily agree that policies should be determined solely by the betting market. Didn't we learn something from the market crash? Even the experts can be guilty of jumping on the bandwagon, not predicting a low probability event and totally missing the target.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Um...this guy way one-ups Steve Jobs and Apple launches

Here we are, invited into his NY (assuming?) apartment for a fresh-of-the-boat, sneak peak at Boxee-Box (I'm actually more interested in how he's doing this launch rather than the product haha). Amid the casual side burps, gitty-boy grins and box of wheat-thins, we hear about this new product being 'broadcasted' of course on something he also created. (?!)

And it's totally cool that the box still has some odd wire hanging out. We, the users don't mind. This guy has a ribbon around his head. He's real. No corporate veneer here.

Can we say power to the people?


Dash along dash,

you've had your time in the sun, but really you're quiet slow - look, buffer space required on each side, who has the time for that, and you permit - encourage - non-essential clarifications, thoughts, ramblings, like now. Enter dramatic, pithy replacement:
he's cuter too.

Surprising Eponyms

you don't say:
Fettuccine Alfredo – Alfredo di Lelio, an early-20th-century Italian chef invented the dish for his wife at his Roman restaurant and popularized it among tourists.

Eggs Benedict – at least two main accounts. Lemuel Benedict, a New York stockbroker, claimed to have gone to the Waldorf Hotel for breakfast one day in 1894 while suffering a hangover. He asked for a restorative in the form of toast, bacon, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce on the side.

Oh Henry! – the candy bar introduced by the Williamson Candy Company in Chicago, 1920, was named for a young man who frequented the company store and was often commandeered to do odd jobs with that call. - Haha guessing he didn't get any royalties.

Philippines - Philip II of Spain

Saudi Arabia - Muhammad bin Saud

jovial - Jove / Jupiter, of Roman mythology

ritzy — hotelier Cesar Ritz - a duh!

fallopian tubes - Italian 14th century anatomist and member of the clergy, Gabriele Falloppio, also first known advocate and inventor of condoms
Eponyms, egotistical or charming?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Battle of Kurukshetra

Somewhat related to post below, but mostly just posting because I like the colours and the image style.

A manuscript illustration (18th c.?) of the Battle of Kurukshetra, fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, recorded in the Mahabharata Epic.


Feeling in a transitory place these days. Looked up liminal, and when you think about it, a lot of interesting things take place at the cusp: lunar solstice, rites of passage, midnight on New Year's Day, the few seconds before you awake, Schrödinger's Cat, airports, augmented reality:

Taking this to the edge:
In the Mahabharata, Indra promises not to slay Namuci and Vritra with anything wet or dry, nor in the day or in the night, but instead kills them at dusk with foam.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ode to Trees

Nothing like sitting under the shaded canopy of a gigantic tree on these hot summer days! A perfect little shelter, just for you. And then you look up and see all those wonderful lines and patterns impossible to recreate with any sort of artifice. My love of trees goes way back, when I was taught to hug, and kiss, trees early in life at summer camp. And it's true, they do hug back.

But anyways, what's this post about?!

A recent City of Toronto study evaluated the tree canopy in the city to be $7Bn. Hold up, how is that? Seems like a number of intangible sources of value in trees. The $7Bn amounts to the replacement value - what it would cost to re-plant (and apparently age, by calculating some NPV - also sounds a bit sketch) all the trees in the city. While it's a pretty decent figure, I think it could be much higher considering:
  • The obvious carbon capturing
  • The shade / insulation it provides for homes, reducing energy costs
  • Positive impact on productivity (people's brains are shown to work better / more creatively even from brief exposure to green space)
  • Positive impact on health (more time outside in green space, less stress, less heart-attacks)
  • Preservation of biodiversity
  • Property value bump
  • Others?
Still, think it's a move in the right direction, emphasizing the importance of our city's canopy in a way everyone can relate to.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Psssst, hey you...

...yeah you, over here. Have you been noticing the new (well, sort of new) chum-chummy, anthropomorphic way software companies have been talking to you? You don't know them, but they're one of your oldest friends. No need for formalities of the past. In fact, the formality now is to be informal. Company announcements all seem to require some sort of tongue and cheek, cutesy comment. In the past, this lack of seriousness was most likely interpreted as incompetence and therefore, not to be trusted by users / consumers. Now, the way to establish trust is to sound a bit like a 25 yr old, a smart one, yes, but someone you'd catch a beer with after the game.

Probably the first example of software anthropomorphism I can think was Google's:
I'm feeling lucky.
Whoa. This search engine has a personality, they're getting into my psyche, and we are sharing a nice little secret, that yes, now that you mention it, I am feeling shamelessly lucky. Even though I probably shouldn't. But ssshhh..we're old friends here, so it's okay, no one has to know.

Anthropomorphism has evolved since into cutesy humor. It's not too showy, just enough to establish that, yep, we're pals:
Trendly is a product of Smallthought Systems, makers of Dabble DB. It used to be called Dshbrd, but nobody knew how to pronounce that.
And now we're seeing this style permeate even the acquisition announcement:
You may have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet lately. It’s not that we’ve been on vacation; rather we can finally announce today that our company, Smallthought Systems, has been acquired. We're joining forces with our friends at Twitter.
There are many other, better examples. I'm not so tech savvy. But, personally, I like this trend and I'm hoping it grows into a larger movement IRL: down with suits and those damn itchy nylons!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Contained intoxication?

Stendhal on the balancing act of intoxication and restraint in love:
The whole art of loving seems to me, in a nutshell, to consist in saying precisely what the degree of intoxication requires at any given moment.
And as Belknap interprets:
If the lover is truly in love, he will be bursting to ask, bursting to tell, bursting to know and to make known. But he must always be patient, always willing to bide his time, to keep his sweet sentiments and his ardent gestures to himself until the time for them arrives. And though the beloved may waver in her affection, the lover cannot let his faith be shaken. The love affair as a whole contains moments of distance and moments of closeness; the lover must always adapt, stay ready, and roll with the punches.
I'll excuse the exclusive use of the masculine third person...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I am Human

enjoying an ice cream on a hot (at least for Edmonton) summer's day. love the contrast between her and the ad behind.

New camera!

Got a new camera from a dear friend and absolutely superb photographer (The Big Durian). Ecstatic about it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer time and the living is easy...

our neighbours are in Germany - someone has to eat these!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh yeah, show me those outer ankle bones

May not look like much, but this was a scandalous work of art back in the day (1330 BC)

- a wife the same size and colouring (not paler) as her husband
- inside AND outside of feet shown (a direct disobedience of the strictly religious style that reigned in Egypt for 3000 yrs prior)
- the loose, unkingly posture of Tutankhamun (belly-out!), affectionate, PDAing wife and racy eye-gazing between the lovers (somewhat difficult to see in this replica)

Gender equality, heresy, and PDA. Way ahead of their time!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Dark Side of NYC

Sorry to get all angry Adbusters up in here, but this ad, on Varick and Spring, straight-up annoys me:

What a terrible tagline to promote a terrible business operation that predicates off a terrible lifestyle!

The shop-obsessive culture in the city is a shame, but things like hand-painted pianos scattered through-out public city parks more than make up for the umpteen American Apparels.

Dogmatic follow-up

Tyler Cowen on a quota for dogmatism.
Tyler, you're kidding right? But, because it's fun to play along, my innocuous absurd views are: the importance of 8hrs of uninterrupted sleep (timer resets with bathroom wake-ups), sleeping with your head-toe facing West-East, a daily dose of almonds and perhaps not so innocuous, biases against religion (except if you have an addiction or are overcoming a terribly traumatic experience).

What are your absurd views? We all have them!

Info as an upper, entrenched views and excuses for dogmatism

Being away from internet access over the past week (oddly enough, while staying at my cousin's West SoHo apartment that appears to be outfitted with everything except a reliable wireless connection and a can-opener), I found myself really craving unfettered browsing time and almost a bit depressed that I couldn't connect! It's not so much that I need to know what's going on in the world – I have never been someone to follow the comings and goings of everyday news – it's more that my brain seems to get-off from learning new things, which I'm sure yours does too. Without some random facts to learn (which are often actually quite useless and pose minimal relevancy to my life), I was feeling a bit empty, and while I wouldn't categorize any of it as withdrawal symptoms, I was definitely yearning for an info hit – a digital stimulant!

So, what's the neural reward system for information? When we learn something new what positive jolt of dopamine or seretonin is being transmitted in our brains? Where and why? The post-hoc evolutionary argument is a simple one – learning (to be bipedal, hunt, communicate, etc) is the key to survival, and it obviously makes evolutionary sense to 'reward' new information. But, what's not intuitive to me is why some information seemingly produces this hit (i.e., is 'interesting' to us), while other information is not. Obviously, experience shapes our perspectives and wiring, and apparently, we tend to favour information that supports, rather than challenges, our existing heuristics. So perhaps, evolutionarily, an 'all-eggs-in-one-basket' strategy was selected for over a diversification strategy? Better to keep learning and invest in one area, even if it may not pay off, than to spread your learning across a range of areas? This still rings true to some extent today, society rewards expertise. But I'd think that the evolutionary cost of diversification has definitely declined with the advent of the internet. So, perhaps diversification of learning and viewpoints will be selected for over the next 'very long period of time'! The open and well-rounded minds will prevail?

For now, I have a physiological excuse as to why I'm not that into SciFi.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Spent a lot of time in airports recently - a few thoughts:

There should really be an opportunity to donate all of your foreign change right at the gate to prevent that futile squandering on silly key chains or extremely overpriced chocolate (guilty). I would expect that every passenger has the equivalent of at least 50 cents in change - likely more in most cases - 747s accommodate roughly 500 passengers, so looking at a $250 minimum for just one flight. According to an "Aircraft Movements" statistics source, Heathrow, for example averages around 650 departures a day. Assume 75% are International and 50% are jumbo jets (thank you for humoring my guestimation here). So looking at $60K a day! I like my foreign change bowl at home, but really the sentimental value isn't worth it!

I used to scoff at all those anxious travelers that herd the gate to board as soon as possible, but today I realized, that because of their mentality, I can continue reading my book, wait until the crowd has subsided and board in a leisurely manner at the last possible instant - a strategy that wouldn't work if everyone chose it. So thank you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Zen and the art of balloonıng

just a little gas and a massive piece of fabric
already getting our money's worth

I think I want to do this every day...

up, up and away!

fairytail morning; my flyer thought I had nice legs (yeah skorts! all gain, no pain), so he kept turning the balloon for my viewing pleasure, and much to the pleasure of the honeymoon couple situated beside me. :)

making use of every crevasse

love valley

Sunrise balloon ride over Cappadocia - absolutely stunning and the best way to feel the undulations of the fairy chimmneys as you drift to and fro. If you ever find yourself in these lands, do NOT cheap out! Go on the balloon ride, you'll get your money's worth within the first 2 mins.

Apparently Cappadocia is one of the best places to fly balloons in the world, attracting flyers from all over. My flyer was from Spain, a second generation balloon flyer. He's been flying since he was 8, and has flown all over the world taking photos ( - has some really cool shots of horse shadows from above). He told me that nothing makes him happier than 'swimming in the sky, so why do anything else?' Wise words. So, amid the spectacular sun, clouds and sky, with 30 other balloons, each with passengers expressing that rare, child-like glee, it really sunk in for me - doing something you love, wholeheartedly, without reservation, will pay off. Zen and the art of ballooning.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Current Favorite Song:

Beatles - 'Revolution 1.' A classic yes, but deserves re-discovering. Highly recommend listening to while people watching / sitting amidst a busy park /marketplace or even better, while on a road trip. The slightly offbeat tempo, array of instruments (esp. the tuba) and gently lethargic vocals definitely act like some sort of stimulant for the brain. Ipod, street corner / park bench, enjoy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sailing the Aegean Sea, Wooden Boats and Fickle Sky

Sorry for the sea and sky photo overload - I couldn't get over the changing sky. Not sure why exactly, but the combination of wooden sail boats, never-ending coastal mountains, flirtatious sky and Turkish tea made me feel like I was traveling back in time while at sea. Perfect backdrop for the opening of a murder mystery novel.

East vs. West

Turkey is typically described as the junction where East meets West. Geographically, this is obviously true, bordering the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea, religiously as well, with Christians, Muslims and 'non-believers' living in unison. But here's a list of more trivial East / West distinctions that I've observed thus far:

Chai Wallahs - Asia
Orderly line-ups - Europe
Muted, dark clothing - Europe
Incessant walk-by marriage proposals (to tourists) - Asia
Progressive environmental measures (high prevalence of compact fluorescent lamps, dual flush toilets and solar panels on roof tops even in the poorer villages) - Europe
And somewhat contradictory...garbage burning by the side of the highway - Asia
Male affection (non-sexual) - Asia
Wine and cheese culture - Europe
Direct eye-contact (socially acceptable starring) - Asia
Human labour deployed for every odd job around - Asia

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I love how people round up or round down to the nearest lira / euro here. Doesn't matter if it's in favour of the buyer or customer, convenience and sensibility always wins. Why can't we be so similarly rational in NA?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Santorini Sojourn

Hippie colony by the beach in a land far from Istanbul...
This doesn't do it justice.

best described as 'ahhhhhh' :)

White-washed churches everywhere you look.
Santorini from the air

(More reflections on Istanbul later).
Now on the flip-side in sunny, salty Santorini. Incredibly picturesque place - dramatic lava cliffs, meditteranean blue-green sea, black, white and red sand beaches, and of course, the quintessential blue and white-washed houses built into the moutainside. Overall impressions: too touristy (and... I'm talking the cruise ship breed), but bliss if you can manage to find a reclusive beach spot. Terrible wine (didn't Greeks invent wine?), wonderful people, incredible cheese. Albanian immigrants everywhere. 1:5 ratio of churches to houses, 30:1 (feels like) ratio of churches to schools, 40:1 (feels like) ratio of churches to libraries. Translation: if you're born here you're likely destined to serve the cruise-ship tourist. Actually kind of sad when you think about it! But no denying the beauty of this place. Absolutely stunning.

Why Religion?

(can't crop image on the road! but love the birds in this one)

Being amid a very conspicuously religious culture - call to prayer over loud speaker, men finding a solitary moment to run through their prayer beads in very public places (subway cars, spice markets, busy intersections), women staying true to their head-scarves while sporting channel shoes - all these prominent committments to religion have begged the question why religion? An overly ambitious question, and not one that I would attempt to answer, but I've always dismissed religion as a crutch people rely on when they can't find proper answers / comfort in the present, religion and the notion of an after-life as a security blanket for those unhappy with the limitations of existence. But, while I remain an 'atheist' (a very commonly used term here, btw) and obviously disagree with the bountiful political conflicts that have resulted from extreme religious views, I very much appreciate the pause for prayer that permeates Istanbul or more accurately, the daily routine of individual long as that prayer remains a choice and those who choose not to aren't chastised!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

World Cup!

Quantum stadium? LV trophy case? South Africa is stepping it up (if you consider an LV trophy case a move in the right direction...)

I'll be following my friend's coverage here:

Dundas Football Club

He managed to score a press-pass, so should be good.
Check it out!

I'm rooting for Brazil - I know the favorite - but can't NOT cheer for Kaka.

Diamond in the dust bunny rough

Literally found this behind my bed (amid a scary colony of dust bunnies!), while packing up my apartment. Couldn't be more apropo...

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies with us"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More on Spontaneous Beauty...

A follow-up to an earlier post - I love this poem by Frost on spontaneous beauty and the returns on paying attention:

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Girl Talk

Tips to Living in the Here-and-Now:

A bit of a serious post after a long hiatus:

Through-out my life, I've been someone who is guilty of delaying my 'happiness', waiting and expecting the future to look better than the now. Obviously, it's a dangerous habit and one that leads to less satisfaction overall. Going through a difficult break-up right now, I've begun to be much more disciplined (and that's really what it is, discipline) about enjoying this moment, right here, right now.

Here are a few tips I've been using - hope you find them useful:

1. Start a project that you truly care about
- Make the goal substantial enough that it cannot be completed easily.
- The project could be outside of work or related to work - but make sure you are deeply passionate about it.
- The project does not have to be yours alone, but ensure that you have complete control over the outcome of your efforts.

2. Go on walks and take photos
- Photography forces one to appreciate our current surroundings and become more immersed in the world around us.
- It will always pay off. This world is incredibly beautiful. If you are paying close attention, the spontaneous interaction of people / nature will inevitably come together to produce something that speaks to you. A gift that keeps giving!
(Just yesterday, while not-so-shamelessly wallowing in a park, I noticed a young girl, pig-tail cuteness and all swinging side-by-side her toy doll. The mom was happily playing along, pushing both the girl and her doll in their separate swings. It was adorable. Beautiful moments all around us!)

3. Ask questions
A derivative of the above, pay close attention during conversations and force yourself to ask questions. Try not to let the mind wander to mental to-do-lists or 'judgment-loops'.
- Really try to get something out of each conversation

4. Spend less time talking on your cell...
Talking on the phone too much can really pull you away from enjoying the world around you.

5. ...but more time tweeting, if you are so inclined
- Although I'm not a tweetonian as of yet, I see it as a good vehicle to express / share your appreciation for the moment (that said, I think some level of filtering is also a good idea...documenting every step and smile can become a bit too much, and lead to another dependency!)

6. Dissociate your current self, from your past and future
- This is a zen practice and may sound a bit hokey depending on what state you are in. I don't believe it's necessary at all times, only when you truly need to move on from something, or are facing an overwhelming future.
- Ideally, you could just shut-off all past memories, and worries about the future during this time; however, since that's not always possible, here's a trick (that still requires hard work, but helps):
Instead of missing a past loved one and indulging in those melancholic memories, let the feeling pass and 'objectify' it as simply a thought you are having. "I am having the thought of missing X"; this works to separate yourself from your past - it's still a battle, but this has helped me.

7. Do!
Avoid time-sinking activities, empty sit-com watching, face/tweet creeping. Go outside, make plans, adopt a new hobby or return to an old-favorite. Don't wait to try something new. Do it now.

All, easier said than done, but hope some of this resonates with you.

Okay, I'm going to go outside now! Enjoy.