Wednesday, January 23, 2008

babysitting fun

today i babysat my cousin's son. despite being two, he was not terrible. in fact, he was pleasant. that is, until he started grooving to my daft punk but refused to dance with me. hope you enjoy his alternative dance partner suggestion, shown in the video below:

also, while babysitting i constructed some situations which amused me to no end. below you'll see alien vs predator :)

and here's alien vs predator requiem:

aimee mann: "different"

i love how she says "different" at 0:50ish in this song. listen below.

sends chills through me. sounds and scents! i promise a post on that very topic soon. i was smelling my forearm and realized i had so much to say about *that*

boston trip soundtrack

i cannot sleep on planes. so i took this time to go through my ipod, which i hadn't done in quite a while. i compiled a list of songs that reflect my mood and musical taste (that's right, i love prince). i wanted to share this playlist with people, and this desire eventually landed me on this site which reviewed blog playlist embedding.

the author recommended imeem, which i used. it was still not easy! this could be way easier. but perhaps "they" don't want people making these playlists? anyway, listen to some of it below while it's available.

oh, and i put in the sitting meditation track i followed while on the plane. it's long but nice to follow if you have time. i don't expect many people will listen to that!

Link to standalone player

Saturday, January 19, 2008

raja, my beautiful black cat

lately, a number of people have been surprised that i have a cat, raja. now, i keep a picture of him in my bag, have him on my thoughts often, but i guess i don't really talk much about him.

so, i wanted to rectify that, at least a little, by featuring him here. isn't he cute?

then i found this video of raja getting angry at me. the anger is very very rare, i assure you! the most disturbing thing in this video, in my mind, is my disembodied, bony hand. am i really that death-like?

wouldn't you hiss at such a hand?

despite his hiss, he loves guests and would be happy to have you over for tea and treats.

postsecret interview online

as promised, here's the link to my full interview with frank warren.

you can find the "secrets" issue this is part of here.

one fun article is:

Tampons and Taboos
Hsiao-Yun Chu

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

quotes from "my name is red" by orhan pamuk

i could not describe red any better:
"My dear master, explain red to somebody who has never known red."

"If we touched it with the tip of a finger, it would feel like something between iron and copper. If we took it into our palm, it would burn. if we tasted it, it would be full-bodied, like salted meat. If we took it between our lips, it would fill our mouths. If we smelled it, it'd have the scent of a horse. If it were a flower, it would smell like a daisy, not a red rose."

here's a description of a picture a character stumbles upon while examining a book:
"the capture and hanging of a decitful shepherd dog who presents a sheep from his flock to the she-wolf he mates with each night"

on seeing, memory and painting:
"To know is to remember that you've seen. To see is to know without remembering. Thus, painting is remembering the blackness."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

my interview with postsecret founder frank warren

i think many of you have seen postsecret, a site where people send anonymous postcards to an artist revealing deep secrets and he posts them online. i had a chance to interview the site "curator" frank warren recently for ambidextrous, the stanford design magazine. i'll post a link to the online content of the issue (the theme is "secrets") when it becomes available.

but my interview is available now in pdf format. here's a quote to entice you:

omar: Can some abstract secrets just not be doctored onto a postcard?

frank: I think that the postcard format creates limitations but also wonderful opportunities… A postcard is usually six inches by four inches. It’s a very finite amount of space to express your secret on. Because of that, you can’t waste any words. Each word has to really pull something out of your heart that exposes what you’re trying to share. I really think, in every case, each one of those postcards in its own way is incomplete. It’s imperfect. Because of that, it allows you, the viewer, to draw upon your own experiences, values, hopes, desires, and fears to interpret the secret you’re reading in a way that makes sense to you—to complete the story in a way that doesn’t just show you something more about somebody you haven’t met on the planet, but can also invite you, the viewer, to discover something new in yourself by projecting on somebody else’s postcard … (pdf)

i'm going to write more about the topic of form and content in another post. my ideas have been percolating. stay tuned!

Friday, January 11, 2008

plastic bags: why so bad?

after reading that australia plans to phase out plastic bags by the end of 2008, and a multitude of other anti-plastic bag initiatives (like here in san francisco), i decided to do some research: why are plastic bags so bad?

the answers didn't completely surprise me. the main problem with plastic bags is likely the negative impacts if they are disposed of incorrectly (essentially a human behavioral failing) -- and that might be surprising to you!

ok, so we want to analyze the life cycle of plastic bags. let's compare plastic bags to paper bags, which is often what people do. here are a few things to consider:

  • energy to create, and environmental impact of creation: plastic wins. plastic bags are a derivative of the oil refining process, whereas paper bags are made of trees, and sometimes from forests that are not sustainably harvested
  • transportation energy: comparing the bags by carrying capacity, it'd take about 7 trucks of paper bags to transport the equivalent of 1 truck of plastic bags: plastic wins
  • disposal: this is the kicker
    • effects on natural environment: plastic bags, if not disposed of properly, can harm wildlife when ingested. paper bags don't have this problem
    • effects on built environment: plastic bags can clog drains and have caused floods in numerous places. you, like me, likely see the plastic bags swirling around everywhere as a blight on our environment
    • garbage dumps: plastic might win here. from what i've read, neither paper bags nor plastic bags do much decomposing in land fills, and since plastic bags are quite compressible, they actually don't take up that much space. BUT, a lot more plastic bags end up at the landfill than paper.. which leads to:
  • recycling: generally people are far more likely to recycle paper bags than plastic bags. the plastic bag disposal programs are typically cumbersome (isn't it annoying to take that plastic bag back to the store!) and hence not utilized by individuals
in fact, on this recycling point i want to show you a figure from a relatively old study that, while the numbers may not be right, does a good job of conveying the importance of recycling in deciding if plastic bags beat paper:

Table 1 - Choice table. Determines bag preference at varying recycling rates. Either was used when the difference between energy efficiencies are inconsequential. (from Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment: Paper vs Plastic Bags)

now, we should also note that governments and stores banning plastic bags aren't in love with paper, but instead are also trying to get out the message that paper vs plastic is a false dichotomy:
- what about reduction: using neither, instead using your own bag
- what about reuse of paper and plastic bags?
- what about alternatives: biodegradable plastics?

my overall conclusion is that we wouldn't be very concerned about plastic bags if people properly dealt with them. that's why i think biodegradable plastic and programs that make it easier to recycle plastic bags are important (like new york is doing). you could just ban them, but then you have to think about what is filling the void. of course, getting people to use their own cloth bag would be fantastic -- but causing that kind of behavior change, namely getting people to have the cloth bag around right when they need it, is likely quite difficult.

here are the resources (they are few, sorry only have so much time!) i examined:

Google Queries:

[what's wrong with plastic bags]
[environmental impact plastic bags]

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Cooking in Toronto

while in toronto, i decided that i needed to become a better cook of indian food. so i enlisted my dad and mom to show me the ropes. i prepared three dishes: chick peas, lentils (soft), and mixed rice. it was quite an ordeal! but i learned a lot by trying to keep track of my dad's intuitive movements, and the choice of spices. i'll post recipes one of these days, but i just wanted to post some pictures up here as well.

here are all the spices that we used:

the wine was stricly consumed to keep me sane during the process:

glamor shot with me and the food:

another one

and here are the happy people eating the good food: