Monday, June 18, 2018

The Mind Works In Different Ways

Bought Lapham's Quarterly's Winter 2018 issue themed 'States of Mind'. Contributors and essays talk about the mind and the brain. They're discussed in tandem and separately as a thing of science, and also a thing of the art and of course, philosophy.

The topics are wide-ranging, and different in nature. The science is always fun, and we usually roll eyes at articles of the mind since that's super subjective. It's how I always roll eyes at quotes by Carl Jung, or some of his writings. Of course Carl Jung came up in this issue.

In Damion Searls's essay 'The Difficult Task of the Future', he picks an angle which explores Carl Jung's correspondence and fierce debates with psychiatrist Hans Schmid-Guisan on the topic of introvert and extrovert personality types. This is Carl Jung's bid to find psychological types, resulting in a summary known as the Myers-Briggs test.

The introvert’s need to find hidden meanings behind the actions of others—which drove Schmid crazy during his correspondence with Jung—undergirds the entire project of Psychological Types, of course: Jung is doing what introverts do. And yet he manages a delicate dance around his own limitations. Even as he attempts a kind of Olympian insight into all the different types, he again and again admits his own partiality, saying straight-out that Freud is as right in his way as Jung is in his, and that the desire for a totalized view, which leads to a theory like Jung’s, is a fact of Jung’s own psychology—that it was almost impossible for Jung to recognize the existence of types other than his own, that it took years, and that he presents them inadequately in his book.

Anyway, within the issue is a little map of some of the untranslatable words in the world's languages created by Haisam Hussein. I like this one quite a bit. It's fun to see some of these words. There're many words I come across in my usual translation work that I struggle to find equivalents in the other language. Well, there're many which we've already adopted through social media trends, say, the familiar fika, hygge, ikigai, and lagom.

In this map, there are 22 words in total, here're some of my picks,

7. HANISA, a Yamana verb prefix, to do something haphazardly. hoping but hardly expecting to accomplish the desired aim. (We would have done this many times for different reasons.)

9. TORSCHLUSSPANIK, a German noun, a sense of alarm or anxiety caused by the suspicion that life's opportunities are passing one by. (Would we feel this at age 25, 30, 35 and 40?)

13. YOIN, as a Japanese noun, that describes the lingering memory of an experience that continues to reverberate.

14. SHEN3MEI3 PÍLÁO, as a Chinese verb, illustrating that to see so much beauty that one tires of it. (This one tickles me because it's written in hanyu pinyin- 审美疲劳.)

22. JALANYPA-MULYU-MULYU, a Warlpiri noun referring to the rapid, repeated poking of the tongue in and out of the mouth, typically in anger. (Besides having to google to learn about Warlpiri as a language, people and culture, this totally cracked me up. I mean, imagine it, pronounce it. Ha!) 

Kept this image in a larger resolution. Hope you can read it if you save it!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Leica Women In Photography :: Silvia S. Hagge

Organized by Leica Singapore under their year-long series titled ‘Leica Women in Photography’, tonight’s mini-lecture celebrated Argentine photographer Silvia S. Hagge. She has been based in Singapore for two decades, and still views photography with such passion. She took a break in between to dabble in multi-media and ceramics, eventually returning to photography.

Silvia Hagge spoke about her journey in photography through the decades, and her penchant for black and white street photography, sharing with us her photos and her unique eye in capturing street scenes focusing on humans, and often finding angles from ground up. While she might have had used a point and shoot to begin with, as most of us did, she now enjoys using a Leica M (Typ 240). She shoots exclusively with a 35mm.

I grinned when she said that in a day of which she might have done 100 shots, she would only probably be pleased with one, or two. In a trip, she might only be really pleased with five or six shots, at the most. I totally get that. The 'money shot', is only that one or two shots out of hundreds of them. I enjoyed her travel tales and how she gets her inspiration, and how she decides what her strengths are, and how she sees photography as a practice. It's a matter of getting out there to shoot, just practicing till one gets better at it. Walking the streets to find a shot, no matter in which city or which country, is also a matter of focusing and not let everything else distract you.

I love my Leicas—the M, T and Q are all meant for different purposes. Often, the M is taken out when I'm on my own in whichever city, wandering the streets to frame shots. I rarely take the M out to socials... Hahahaha. Socials are done by the T or the Q. Photography is still a hobby for me. I'm kinda serious about it, but it's also something very private. I certainly do not share many shots with friends and not even with my partner. Tonight's talk was nice. Lovely to hear Silvia Hagge's voice and listen to her inspirations and what drives her to shoot the way she does. I don't attend all of Leica's events, but when time permits, I try to attend talks and masterclasses by photographers whose works I admire.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Martha Argerich in Concert

As wonderful a pianist as Martha Argerich is, I’m not a fangirl. I didn't even block out the calendar for her concerts or think about buying tickets. But the girlfriend graciously extended the tickets to me when she had to fly out for a last-minute work trip and couldn’t make it to both concerts in Singapore, so I shouldn’t waste the tickets. After all, why pass up the chance to see and hear a superbly talented pianist? The much loved Argentine classical pianist just turned 77 years old last week, and no longer performs solo recitals, preferring to shy away from press coverage.

The first concert saw Martha Argerich and long-time collaborator, fellow Argentine conductor-pianist Darío Alejandro Ntaca in a double piano recital. The program was a standard Schubert, Mozart and Brahms, flawlessly executed. However, I very much preferred their two other choices since I like those composers’ style- the night’s quiet opening piece, Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, L.86 which has been transcribed for two pianos, and of course, Rachmaninov’s fierce and fast Suite No. 2 Op. 17. Loved the two easy and short encore pieces, which were Debussy’s En Bateau and Rachmaninov’s Waltz.

The second concert saw Martha Argerich with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), conducted by Darío Alejandro Ntaca. I was just so happy that she began the evening with a wonderful rendition of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26. It was the only piece I was looking forward to hear tonight. At least I had that to hold on to. The rest of the night saw safe and popular (and boring to me) pieces in Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453. For her encore pieces, she played Scarlatti's Sonata in D minor, K.141 and Debussy's La soirée dans Grenade from Estampes.

The girlfriend had fantastic seats for both nights, putting me in the stalls smack on the left of the concert hall where Martha Argerich sat. Those fingers were magical. Imagine the talent and decades of hard work that went into creating the pianist today, overcoming personal battles and cancer. She has not lost that touch. Even though I'm still not a huge fan, watching a great performer live on stage is always a treat. It was wondrous to have seen Martha Argerich play, twice.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tanzanite For Its Blues

While the MIL wouldn't abandon her diamonds, I might have convinced her to give tanzanite some love. She came back with a pouch-ful of tanzanite from her recent trip to Africa. Earrings, rings and bracelets. Very nice. Nowhere better than to buy tanzanite from its source. She bought the pieces from a reputable jeweler in the country, and had it examined again when she got back home. All properly certified. It's quite refreshing to see her wear another glittering gem besides precious stones like diamonds and rubies.

My jewelry are strictly functional, and restricted by skin allergies to weight and material. It's just a bonus if the jewelry lines are kept clean, non-floral and nothing dramatic. They can be boring, I don't mind. I lean towards tanzanite in the hues of bluish-violet and blue. Tanzanite is named as such for these specific hues on the color spectrum. It's formed from from zoisite, which also occurs naturally in brown, gray, green, pink, yellow and of course violet (the purple hues). It's a semi-precious stone that's apparently going to be mined out. Ermmm. Well....

I appreciated the MIL's gift of those simple tanzanite earrings that are of the loveliest hue of deep purple-blue. It's not a color match with my current favorite tanzanite ring, which I can't seem to stop wearing. Doesn't matter! While I don't need to wear matching jewelry of the same design or even of the same shade, it's nice to have similar hues, so I'm happy to have this option.  Blue is probably the one color I wear if I'm not in varying shades of black, white or gray. Oof! The shades of blue that lean towards cobalt and aquamarine. Never teal.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Picking Out Fun Wallets

Shopping was a fun and fairly efficient way to spend a little more time after catching up with W over lunch. We were supposed to get a birthday gift for dear G, whom we would be seeing the following week. We hadn't had any inspiration about what sort of gift we should get. Usually we'd get two gifts, but we hadn't even settled on one. Hahahah.

It wasn't my intention to step into Kate Spade to find said birthday gift, but W likes Kate Spade and has a few fun pieces from the brand. She's also saddened by Kate Spade's passing. She thought it would be wonderful for us to get an item from there as this range would be the last of the designer's work, or at least designs she had approved of. Okaaaay.

The birthday girl likes whimsical items, and with enough blacks for work, her off-duty clothes are generally colorful and happy. Many items were on a 40% - 50% discount. Yay! Found something for her, of course. Chose a fun color, but safe enough wallet. The coin compartment is really small. Oh well. Just reduce usage of coins. Go cashless. Hahahahaha. Luckily for us, G loves our pick! It's definitely be something she would use.

It was only much later when we were cruising along in the car, having a casual chat and giggles when we realized that G would not have minded the ONE design we didn't think she would like. We showed her the photo. We were like.... 'it's so not you!' And she said, 'I do like it quite a bit!' It was hilarious. Whaaaat? Since when do you like uhhh crabs? And red, and stripes? Then our eyes widened. Oops. We FORGOT that she's a Cancerian. 🤦🏻‍♀️😂

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tacos & Margaritas

Went for to D and J's for dinner. We contributed store-bought chips, and home-boiled-and-blended hummus. They whipped up our all-time comfort food in the form of tacos. 🌮 Wooooot. The hosts went shopping at the Mexican grocer's (where all of us shop at because only they bring in the ingredients we need) and cooked up a storm. Tortilla, carnitas, along with the usual refried beans, tomato salsa, corn, onions and guac. Mmmm. I couldn't stop nibbling on the corn through the night. The pulled pork was slow-braised for hours in the oven, ensuring that it turned out flavorful and tender. Qué sabroso es este carnitas!

Dessert was a homebaked classic tres leche cake. I took one bite, and shared it out. Cannot! Too sweet! I would have preferred it to come topped with sour fruits. People with a sweet tooth would like it though. This cake is soaked in three kinds of milk- evaporated, condensed and heavy cream.

Brought over a friendly bottle of Highland in the form of a Deanston 18y.o bourbon cask finish. Everyone was like, "Oh this will be good with dessert, I'll just have a nip." I had no idea how much a nip is, but the entire bottle was finished! LOL. And it wasn't by the man and I! Hahaha. I was merrily chugging margaritas. Glad the friends liked it!

It was a hilarious night of conversation which ended with us re-living Eurovision through the years. Including the one with Canadian Celine Dion singing and winning for Switzerland in 1998 with 'Ne partez pas sans mo', and Finnish metal band Lordi winning 2006 in Athens with 'Hard Rock Hallelujah'. There was even Johnny Logan winning the second time for Ireland in 1997 with 'Hold Me Now'. Oh yes, we went there. Not going to link to the videos. I'll spare you that. 😂

Monday, June 11, 2018

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

I'm not a fan of shows about food or dessert if it's just reality television competition style, or describing recipes. I'm more interested in shows about food as a docu-film style. I've come to thoroughly enjoy Anthony Bourdain's shows. In fact, his shows and his comments probably exerted a fair amount of influences on my early attitudes towards food. My first fine dining experience on my own as a rather young imp was at the now-closed Les Halles in Manhattan, New York City. Then I began to explore and later on moved away from ‘fine-dining’ on pristine tablecloths in opulent restaurants, and welcome foods and cuisines that are just as fine eaten anywhere.

Anthony Bourdain's first television series began at about the same time I was interested in food as more than a form of sustenance for hunger. There were Food Network's 'A Cook's Tour' (2002-2003), The Travel Channel's 'No Reservations' (2005-2012) and 'The Layover' (2011-2013), and his current 'Parts Unknown' (2013-2018) on CNN. The Washington Post and many other publications have described him as a 'culinary adventurer'. They're spot on about that. His shows held that exciting edge that other sugary-coated shows don't. He was a storyteller, and he was a dreamer, curious about cuisines and respectful of cultures. I like his take on Seattle in S10EP7 of ‘Parts Unknown’.

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

There's the celebrity, and there's always a personal side to any reasonably successful person whose job is to be somewhat talented and famous. Over the years, I've come to like Anthony Bourdain's public image, comments, and many of the opinions and causes he stood for. In this world of celebrity chefs and stardom, I appreciate the humility and the seemingly genuine emotions he had chosen to show us. For the lack of a better description, he was very relatable. Well, I also appreciate his taste in music and comics. His last few tweets were about the mix Michael Ruffino adapted and made specially for the episode Hong Kong titled 'Rising Sun Blues'.

I feel a deep twinge of sadness at Anthony Bourdain's untimely death. His choice took away the continued sharing of this immense talent with the world. It's such a shame. He didn't even wait for his 62nd birthday to pass. I can't even begin imagine the immense inner turmoil and pain he was dealing with. Yet he lived, boldly, loved fiercely, and had generously shared many wonderful foods and experiences with the world. He is missed. A photo from an episode in Season 8 of 'Parts Unknown' about Vietnam will always remain with me, and no one could describe that photo in a tweet better than Barack Obama did.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Lobsters & a 37th Birthday!

Hopped in to Pince & Pints again for trusty lobsters for dear V's birthday dinner. It was meant to be a surprise dinner. Her partner organized it and gathered the few of us to dinner. So sweet lah! I don't seem to be very good at keeping surprises like this a secret. I kept avoiding texting V too much, just in case I texted the wrong chat window. HAHAHAH. The other chat window was active with planning for this dinner. M got gifts, and G got a gigantic bunch of flowers.

I tried to squirm my way out of a birthday dinner with V, even suggesting that if she was to be taken out on a romantic date, then that wouldn't include me! Hahahah. She pooh-poohed it and said we would be all have having dinner together on this date. DOHHHHH. Okaaaay, no more surprises there already lah. But she mustn't know about the others. Hurhurhurhur. On the evening itself, I was a tad busy collecting cake for her and all that, so I didn't even text her my usual, "See you later! On my way to Pince & Pints!" She must have been wondering why the heck is this imp so silent?! 😂

Marked V's 37th with a table full of friends, laughter and love, and celebrated her, this wonderful girl and great friend to us. Happy that I got some lovely photos of the group at dinner, and contributed towards some fun memories for the girlfriend.

With each passing year, we shift priorities and re-evaluate goals versus values. May you live your life with intent as you make these shifts to live a life with renewed purpose (on your terms). Happy Birthday, V! You are very much loved!

Friday, June 08, 2018

Reformer HIIT

The gym printed class descriptions into a brochure.

The gym re-branded its reformer classes from Starter, Classical, Flex and Athletic into Refomer Beginner, Intermediate and HIIT. Nothing mentioned about scheduling Classical classes for now, but as with gyms, schedules fluctuate according to demand. I was really curious about the HIIT style (High-intensity interval training), of which Australian pilates studios do very well, as do a number in the US. These are styles that pilates studios don't seem to do here. Merrily went for the first few sessions of Reformer HIIT.

I do hope that people taking the class would understand what scooping truly is in order to work the core properly and use it to aid them. Even at my fitness level, I can still get DOMS from a supposedly ‘easy’ 45-minute reformer session when I focus on scooping and activating my glutes to isolate whichever muscle groups I’m working on. Many days, speed gives me an extra calorie burn. On other days, by deliberately doing slow reps, the muscles work doubly hard instead.

The gym’s Reformer HIIT class utilizes sandbells and power reels. Tabata-style sets. Yay. One could definitely increase the heart rate and work up a sweat doing squats and lunges with those accessories. Along with fairly inventive planks on and off the reformer, you get a great workout. This class is not for newbies or people recovering from injuries and nursing continuous medically-untreated pain.

I enjoyed HIIT elements at reformer classes in Brisbane, Australia, mostly because I was on vacation and didn’t have time to do other forms of cardio. I was happy that reformer classes sorted that out. While I’m glad that gym's group classes do them now, I haven’t decided if I like Reformer HIIT as a regular class. The cardio and weights portions within are what I get from other classes at the gym, say LES MILLS GRIT™Strength. I still favor the traditional elements of pilates and its movement in group reformer classes.

I recognize that the gym simply wants to give its members more options, especially when everyone’s stretched for time and can’t ideally squeeze in different workouts weekly. If for any reason I miss out on my usual weights and cardio classes, then going to a Reformer HIIT class would be better than not attending any classes at all.