Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Beach Fossils, NUMTOTs & Human Flow

Weekly Update 2018-01: The number eighteen is a lucky one in Judaism, and so this year shall be for me. Listening to Beach Fossils, gathering public opinion on transit systems around the world, and the impact of the humanizing story of refugees in Ai Weiwei's Human Flow.

Music: Beach Fossils
Some albums are so important, but take a long time to break through to me on a deeper level. Beach Fossils' 2013 LP Clash the Truth is one of those albums. Synths and guitar licks reminiscent of 80s new wave mix with a dash of atmospheric lo-fi to create something that sounds really authentic, both modern and vintage at the same time.

Literally every song on this album gets stuck in my head, and especially so the more I listen. Check it out below:

I had a nice quiet holiday season, so I was able to get a lot of things done:
  • renewed my domain
  • cleaned everything in the bathroom
  • cooked a bunch of crazy things
    • lasagna
    • potato-crust meat pie
    • pesto baked chicken
    • chocolate chip cookies
  • organized the liquor and board games shelf (it's a fun area)
  • got a facial
  • visited the AGO
  • put new music on my phone from iTunes (yep, there's some music that isn't on Spotify - who knew?!)
I also made a multi-day schedule for the Toronto Design Offsite Festival coming up in a couple of weeks. I love all the window displays along Queen Street, and Gladstone Hotel's annual Come Up To My Room festival which happens in conjunction with TODO. I am especially excited for a bunch of new things opening up on Geary Avenue which I bike by to get to drumming practice.

I have spent the past two days knee-deep in Sketch tutorials since I can't deny that it's the industry standard now. I had a good working knowledge of the program, but there are so many ways to improve your workflow (especially with all the open-source plugins that people make to solve common problems). There's no better way to become a power user than by starting with Pablo Stanley's Sketch Together series, which I highly recommend. Not only is he a fabulous teacher, he is very entertaining and includes lots of project files you can download to follow along. And it's all free!

I also did something I have been meaning to do for a long time: I bought a goat. No, not for me. I believe in the importance of charity but moreso in donating my time/services/items than money, since you never really know where it's going to go. For that reason, I have always been a big fan of Plan International and their charitable programs that provide livestock for families. The addition of a goat or a few chickens will help a family to nourish themselves and thrive in a much more permanent way than the same value in donated goods.

A man named Christopher Richardson actually created a documentary that sources the goat he purchased through charitable means, watch the trailer below:

So yes, I bought a goat as well as a rooster and three hens, in the hopes that two families will be able to thrive off this gift. Now if only I had space in my apartment for some chickens.

If you want to look into it, check out Plan International Canada.

I've learned a ton of Sketch stuff this week, so I'd like to write a blog post about everything to really solidify my learnings (and share them with you, dear reader)! Other than that, my broader goals for this year are to remember to sit up straight and have good posture while working at my desk, and practice reading other people's emotions a little better than I do now.

Random Thought:
One other change I made this holiday was to become more involved in different cultures and social scenes that I hadn't previously known about. I joined some new Facebook groups that give me lots of joy when I absent-mindedly check my phone:

1) Awful recipes: recipes for disaster
I don't know if the colon means there are other awful recipe groups, but this one never fails to amaze me. People mostly post about disgusting food they inexplicably like, or delicious food they inexplicably dislike (let the anger comments ensue), so I thought I would post about one of the weird foods from Portland that I love.

Peanut butter satay and smoked raspberry jam poutine from Potato Champion in Portland.
Mostly well-received with a few haters.

2) New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens (or NUMTOTs for short)
Similar to Young Urbanists League but on a global scale, this group has no shortage of love for trains, urban transit systems and all things that make people move.

All the shameful times people have taken Ubers.
This was a particularly inspired post for the first day of 2018.

I honestly love to read the unfiltered opinions (of largely varying quality) of all the topics surrounding transit systems all over the world, and find it interesting to note that many citizens of other cities hold their transit systems in the same low regard as Torontonians do the TTC.

Inspiration: Ai Weiwei's Human Flow
I saw a very inspirational film at Hot Docs a couple of weeks ago: Ai Weiwei's new film about the influx of refugees over the past few years. So many people have been displaced from their homes this decade by various factors including war, famine, politics, drought and natural disasters just to name a few.

Ai Weiwei discusses Human Flow.

These people's misfortunes are usually a matter of circumstance, which is to say that their misfortunes could have happened to anyone, including you or me. These people come from all over, but are largely universally overlooked by the rest of the world. They are sometimes grossly mistreated, forgotten or simply ignored. The way the film displays their plights, many of them just want basic human understanding and respect.

It really tore at my heart strings to think about these people and the way they are largely helpless. They have been given no resources or help to begin their lives anew, but they are very strong and somehow continue on, hoping that they will be able to find a home someday.

I urge you to see this movie; it will change your perspective on global aid. There is a particularly touching scene in which Ai Weiwei symbolically exchanges his passport with that of a refugee in a camp, exclaiming that he respects the man's passport, and he respects him.

After seeing all the wonderful designs and innovations at the Exposition for Design, Innovation & Technology and this movie as well, I am proud to know that Toronto does its part to help these people, but I know we could be doing more.

After all, respect and compassion both cost literally nothing and go such a long way.

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