Monday, September 26, 2016

Thoughts on Individual Responsibility

Re-inspecting your own belief system and culture and delving into another's culture outside of one's own.

I recently read the New York Times Article, "An Expert on Chinese Medicine, but No New Age Healer" and am in awe of this German doctors interest, depth and relentless academic pursuit of understanding another culture.
In China, Dr. Unschuld said, “Medicine and politics are similar: You don’t blame others, you blame yourself.” He added, “You ask: ‘What did I do wrong? What made me vulnerable? What can I do against it?’ This is why China has risen.”
Which made me think of Carol Dweck's Growth and Fixed Mindset's theory with the backdrop of the upcoming election.

wo ming zai wo, bu zai tian, my fate lies with me not with heaven. (translated by Dr. Unschuld)
Hillary Clinton has a growth mindset- Moving beyond barriers and stereotypes for achievement, she represents a growth mindset- She is responsible for her own actions based on learning/listening from others/is adaptable to the situation.

ren suan bu ru tian suan, heavenly plans stand above human plans. (translated by Dr. Unschuld)
Donald Trump has a fixed mindset- outside forces are the cause of his fate (fear of others outside of his own, talker/arrogant/pushing his own thoughts on others, not willing to understand, blames others, not adaptable)

And to throw in another odd ball connection, wo ming zai wo, bu zai tian, reminds me of the poem, Invictus, by William Earnest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me, 
      Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
      For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
      I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
      Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
      How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for an iPhone

Image result for blackmail

When I said "I do" in 1999 there was no iPhone. Over the past 5-10 years I see my husband gleam longingly at her. He talks and reacts enthusiastically with her. His body has changed form due to her. His head is positioned to always look at her directly. He rides his bike with her. Cannot leave the house without her. He listens to her as she guides him along. He even looks into her eyes as he's driving! He touches her gently and moves his hands and fingertips all over her body.  Moving up and down and back and forth. BUT I put an end this this. His new iphone7+ was delivered today and I've hidden it never to be found again. Blackmail is heavenly.

Ponderings about my Summer of Love with a Feature Phone

Image result for telepathic 

I'm fed up with the emphasis on user interfaces.  There is no face in interface so why do we use this term? It should be as natural and fluid and pliable and unique as the carbon based life form using it. An extension of the natural state of that particular user.  As I went on a run with my dog, who has now replaced my husband in these discussions, we talked about the exclusivity and narrow mindedness that us humans have. Louie, my dog shared that HCI is discriminatory. CBLFI is the new black. Really. Why can't my shoes realize I'm running and start to record my pace and location. Why do I have to press every hamburger and kebab menu to find the feature that I want? Why can't it just know what I want? And Louie's two cents- "Why can't my location chip message my owner so that they can feed me whenever I am hungry?"  But, being part labrador, that sensor would be going off every 10 seconds.

Most of this conversation has been spurred with my experience over the past summer with a feature phone after my iPhone 6 was lost in China. I lost it twice during the summer and the hotel in Shanghai was kind enough to send it to me in Beijing. I lost it the second time because I was only using it as a camera and not needing it for ALL THOSE LIFE CHANGING pings! What a vacation it has been! I can ignore texts, emails, phone calls and all sorts of invasions on my concentration and focus. Having a feature phone is freeing, liberating and exhilarating! But it was not what I needed for documenting my summer in China and it wasn't helpful in returning emails that may lead me to employment. Now, I wanted something different, unique, intriguing, complex, sexy, no more easy and helpful, hum-drum, run-of-the-mill. So I ditched the iphone and bought a XiaoMi 5. Which leaves me to the beginning of this post. Android does bring me back to the days of excel, lotus 1-2-3, dbase 3 and DOS commands, just tap on the correct dot or dash and hunt and find the feature you want.....while my head collapses into my chest and I need a walking CPAP machine. I want my surround sound, voice and thought activated xterface, that puts me, the user, in control. I want my MTV. Motion, tele-optical and voice, a machine that interacts with me on my terms and in a way I most naturally communicate with other carbon based life forms, you know, like, in the old days, when you met face to face.

Chinese Red 

.......and the more interesting, but not as well known, Chinese (Han) Purple

Image result for chinese purple terracotta warriors

Sherman Williams has a paint color called Chinese Red. Most everyone is familiar with the Chinese Lunar New Year hongbao, otherwise know as the red envelope, and the luck and prosperity associated with it, but have you ever heard of Chinese Blue or Chinese Purple? The Han Purple pigment was created in the Zhou period and is one of the earliest known man-made pigments. It was thought that the pigment traveled via the Silk Road and was originated from the Egyptian Blue. Later, scientists discovered after looking at the chemical make-up, that the pigment was formed with compounds different than that of Egypt.  The pigment dates back as as early as the Western Zhou dynasty (1045-771 BCE) but became became most popular during the Qin and Han Dynasties. (221 BCE to 220 CE). It is thought that the chemical make-up of Chinese Purple, combining sand, copper and barium, was the by-product of Taoist alchemists creating synthetic jade ornaments. The most famous Han purple can been seen on the terracotta warriors built during the Qin dynasty for Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.  In another amazing example of the interconnections between art and science, it was discovered that under extreme cold and a high magnetic field the physical structure enters a new state. If exposed to under 1 degree Kelvin, it propagates only in the 2nd dimension

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Cicadas Chán

Cicadas represented rebirth and immortality in ancient China. Burials with Jade coverings can be traced back to Neolithic cultures, essentially, the last part of the stone age. This Jade Cicada is from the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 225 CE) and was used for burial purposes and placed on the tongue.

Cicada. Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). China. Nephrite. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60J583.

*Travel Tip* Listening to Cicadas at Wuzhen Water Town
*Added Bonus* The New York Times recently posted an  article about the relationship of singing insects in Chinese culture.