22 May '17  — Bedazzled, atmospherically under water

Real monsters, originally completed in 1769

The Grotto Hall in the Neues Palais is the most calming ball room I've ever come across. Who cares if you don't know how to dance? Just chill out in a corner.

Getting to the palace is like crossing a desert. There's barely any shade on the paths surrounding. I walked in a bit sweaty and was immediately cooled the instant I entered the ballroom.

I was wondering what it'd be like to attend a ball here

The walls are lined with quartz and sea shells of all shapes and sizes. It feels as if you're in an actual grotto. I'm skeptical of the powers crystals hold, but in the midst of so many, you can feel the power of being enveloped in natural stone.

The room has over 24,000 shells, semi-precious stones, and fossils. These shells reminded me of butterflies.

From the images, the color palette doesn't seem as classy as other ballrooms, but when you're standing in the room, you can't help but focus on individual details. It's hard to see everything at once.


Beauty and the Beast

22 May '17  — A tale that's hopefully not as old as time

A real-life beauty and the beast experience at Potsdam

I've seen the 1991 Disney version hundreds of times and I've always dreamed of being gifted an enormous library. Watching this year's remake, I saw the story in a new light.

Why did the beast have to wait for a female to break the spell? He could have won the heart of her dad. The spell was that he had to love and earn love in return. There are many types of love outside of romantic hetero love. There were plenty of people within the castle to love.

And what was the enchantress doing just waiting to catch the prince? He was raised by an awful dad--how could she expect him to know better?

One thing they made clear was that the servants deserved to suffer because they let the prince/beast get away with being vain and selfish. It's everyone's fault. The servants let their boss live out a cruel existence. That idea is way too progressive for today. 'Taking responsibility for what is going on as a collective? No, it's always the guy at the top.'

Why was the village happier at the end when royalty was restored?

Who wrote this and what are they trying to say?

"the story of Beauty and the Beast was meant for girls who would likely have their marriages arranged. Beauty is traded by her impoverished father for safety and material wealth, and sent to live with a terrifying stranger. De Beaumont’s story emphasizes the nobility in Beauty’s act of self-sacrifice, while bracing readers, Tatar explains, 'for an alliance that required effacing their own desires and submitting to the will of a monster.'" - 'The Dark Morality of Fairy-Tale Animal Brides, the Atlantic

WOW. Persuading girls they were noble in submitting to a random dude.

The original version was written in 1740 by the French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.


Veg Balls

21 May '17  — An unexpected cooking session

What my balls are made of

I was in bed watching youtube when I came across a video on veggie meatballs.

I've never considered making veggie meatballs. But after the video, I jumped out of bed to make them. Not only did I have most of the ingredients, the recipe was extremely easy. It seemed more easy to make than to decide where to go out and eat.

Also, I've never made anything meatball shaped so I was excited to try.

I was missing one ingredient, parmesan, so I put in extra breadcrumbs and placed a piece of fresh mozzarella in the center of each ball.

There are so many recipes online, it's overwhelming. I find myself cooking when I come across a new recipe that's easy. I'm more than likely to try it if I already have the ingredients.

Am I lazy? Grocery shopping makes me extremely tired. I have a hard time cooking and grocery shopping in the same day. I don't know how moms do it.

The veg-balls came out oozing. My husband thought they were incredible.

I thought the balls were delicious but I think they could've been better. I'll try making them with parmesan next time. Maybe a video on making them in the future.


Breaking Bill Habits

20 May '17  — Unlearning fiscal responsibility

Maybe there will be a day when money grows on trees

In high school, I was taught to delay breaking bills to curb spending. 'Once you break a $20 bill, you're more likely to spend it than if you had the large bill.'

On an exam, we were asked what denomination to take our cash out as a fiscally responsible person. The answer was the largest bill available. It had to be true--it was on an exam.

So instead of spending money, I spent a lot of time. Once I went to the drugstore to pick up dish soap. While I was in line to pay, I realized I only had a 20. Instead of getting soap, I went back to the aisle, placed it on the shelf and went home. Being fiscally responsible, I was determined to wait until I'd the bill broken up.

Which meant I only spent 20's when I needed to make a purchase of $15 or greater. Only then could I buy my soap.

When I got home I realized I couldn't live another day without washing the dishes. I thought I could find a way to make do without soap.

I didn't have problems spending $100 on a pair of shoes. The bills didn't need to be broken up.

There was even 'research' done on this topic after I was taught this 'truth'.

I found it in Time magazine in 2009, several years after it was taught:

"the researchers gave 89 undergraduate business-school students from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Maryland a dollar. They told the students they could keep the money or use it to buy candy. About half the students were given a dollar bill, while the other half were given four quarters. Only 26% of the students who got the bill spent the money, while 63% of the students given quarters bought some candy. However, once they decided to spend, the students with the paper made bigger purchases."

The title of the article is "Want to Save Money? Carry Around $100 Bills". The research confirmed the opposite. You spend more if you carried only large bills. Click bait started way earlier than I thought and Time magazine is less credible than I thought.

In the same article, they listed another example of how the headline wasn't true, through a study done in China.

"among those in both groups who used their cash, the small-bill half spent an average of 56.76 yuan, while the large-bill half spent 67.67 yuan." In whatever currency, 67.67 is a greater number than 56.76.

Chinese women who received larger bills spent more similar to students who received larger bills.

Who gets to determine ideas are facts? I'm surprised how often headlines refute the articles they correspond to.


What Do You Do When You're a Deliveroo?

19 May '17  — The next hit series

If I could pitch a tv show it'd be 'What do Deliveroos Do?'.

Deliveroo is a company that delivers food from local restaurants. They have a legion of bike deliverers who frequent the city during meal times and often gather around restaurant areas.

They wear bright green jackets and carry a large green delivery box. With the logo on their backs, I've started to think of them as 'deliveroos'. Like kangaroos they're a species. They happen to deliver food.

When the service was introduced, I was sitting at a park. On the next bench, was a deliveroo resting between jobs. Soon after, another deliveroo joined. They introduced each other and talked about what they did--one was a musician and another a student.

I started seeing this more and more. Clusters of people dressed in green, socializing, eating together on street corners near bikes.

Yesterday, I saw a deliveroo run lines with a friend. It sounded like it was for a play and the deliveroo critiqued his friend's performance. Most often, I come across deliveroos while they're circling the neighborhood on their bikes, not knowing what to do as they kill time. Whether they're waiting for the food to be ready or on the next job, it's a dilemma: what do you do when you're a deliveroo?

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Watermelon Lips

18 May '17  — Summery

Today's pattern is a bit crazy. I wanted to make an almond shape, like plump lips and ended up with a color scheme that's like watermelons you'd find in cartoons.

I didn't intend for the green border to be so narrow. I'm still figuring how patterns work.

The tiles look better randomly placed with a less vibrant pink.


Why My Neighbors Annoy Me

18 May '17  — Several years before it's crystal clear

Shoebox living

After four years, I finally figured out why my neighbors bother me.

Within the past years, I've moved to different apartments. However, each time, I'd get annoyed with my neighbors.

I always held the belief that you see yourself wherever you go.

How is it possible, that wherever I went I had annoying neighbors? Piecing things together I realized, it's me. There's something I'm carrying, some lens I look through that ensures a negative experience.

The apartment I live in now, when I first moved in, everything was fine. I knew in those early days that there'll be a day when I'd get start getting annoyed. After settling in, I found myself focusing my attention on annoyances.

Our upstairs neighbor stomps on the floor, our neighbor across plays the piano at 3 am, a neighbor on the side likes to talk so loud with their windows open and our neighbors below smoke cigarettes whenever our windows are open.

How is my internal world related to the external?

My sister came to visit me. She never writes or contacts me and I only found out she was visiting when I randomly checked my gmail, which I hardly use.

We have similar interests so it's difficult to watch her go through life events I've gone through. She's 4 years younger and my memory of being at her age is so fresh. I want so badly to get her to understand things that I didn't get.

One of the things I saw similar to my past was her style of liberalism. While my sister supports legalizing marijuana and hallucinogenic drugs, she was restricting my mom from taking photos. My mom takes way too many photos, but she's free to take photos. In a free world, people should be able to do as they please.

Going along with contemporary liberal thought, my sister told my mom it is 'more meaningful' to experience life in the present, not behind the lens. 'You should like this because it is right.' Only certain things should be enjoyed. This hypocritical view of the world was one that I had.

This was just one critical view I honed in on. But after a few days, I realized, she has a lot of good that I don't have. I don't focus on her good because I'm so focused on seeing what I understand.

And what I understand are the things I'm most critical of in myself. The annoyances are just reflections.

I found out why my neighbors bother me.

I have stomped on the floor knowing that people below will be annoyed. I have talked loud knowing it might bother others. I have played music late at night understanding it'll wake others. I've blown smoke in other people's faces.

It's not that the people who are currently doing so are aware. It's that they project a version of me that I haven't forgiven. I remember the self-centered inconsideration, feeling entitled, getting my way at others' expense. I project these negative feelings on my sister and my neighbors. What's annoying is the belief that they're getting their way at my expense, similar to what I had done to others.

I thought about all this last night with the window open. I could hear the neighbors talk, but as I started understanding how my self loathing was proportionate to the annoyance, I became less and less annoyed.

I'm the one annoying myself. I can stop any time.


Green Tile Pattern

17 May '17  — Remaking an old tile

I've been admiring a black and white pattern from Exquisite Surfaces, a tile company online. I liked it so much that I drew it out in green.

The top arrangement is a simple grid pattern but below, I offset the pattern and it looks 'fatter'. It's amazing how the same shape can be perceived so differently based on arrangement.


Female Cab Drivers

17 May '17  — A demand that has not been met

On my walk today, I spotted a cab squeezing into a narrow lane. I looked at the driver and it was a blond woman with a pixie haircut.

The moment reminded me of the one time I hopped into a cab and found the driver to be a woman. I was startled.

There aren't programs helping women become drivers as much as there are programs getting women into computer programming.

I was figuring out how my mom should get to the airport yesterday. She refused to take a cab. She didn't want to get into a car and be alone with a random guy.

My mom would've taken a cab if the taxi were driven by a woman. Instead, we lugged her luggage onto the subway. We had no other option.

I live in a neighborhood with a lot of immigrant taxi drivers. All of them are male. During their off time, they hang out at cafes, some smoke hookah, but all are in places with no females. From the surface, the profession seems male dominated.

Driving is a skill that many women have. Perhaps there's less women who naturally find themselves interested in computer programming, but there's far more women who eventually learn to drive. Why can't they have fair representation in a skill that they already possess?

Especially when other women would feel more comfortable with female drivers.

After understanding why my mom didn't want to take a cab, I was reminded of the 'female cars' on the Tokyo subway. My brother went on a trip to Japan a couple months ago and he photographed two train cars that were designated for women. It was a safe place, especially during rush hour, when the train gets packed and inappropriate 'rubbing' happens.

Why aren't there 'female' spaces in taxis? Taxis are suppose to be more upscale than public transportation.

I don't know how these topics fit with women's rights. Although I'd love to have more female friendly options, the presence of such offerings potentially reconfirms how we're docile and prone to being victims.



16 May '17  — Sublime offline

I wandered into Un Autre VooDoo yesterday. It's a small boutique on a street with heavy traffic.

The storefronts on Hasenheide are set back. It's not a place to window shop or do any sort of leisure shopping but I heard about Un Autre VooDoo on an email newsletter introducing it as a destination for local design.

One of my favorite designer, Antoniya Ivanova had a rack inside. Years ago, I asked Antoniya about her raincoats at her stand in Mauer Park. At the time she had discontinued making them but a new version was available at the boutique. It was a beautiful translucent blue in breathable waterproof fabric.

You never know with 'local designers'. While a few standout, most are not more attractive than what's cheaply available.

But I found myself browsing through more racks until I came across a designer where I wanted every piece. That hardly happens, even at Liberty's/Bergdorf's/Selfridges. There were several padded jackets, oversized and soft that felt so luxurious because of the weight and natural texture.

Ïmaima is a label that makes womenswear from all natural fabrics, handwoven and embroidered in Jaipur India. I couldn't get enough so I took a copy of the lookbook to go through later.

At home, I flipped through the lookbook and was disappointed. Nothing in the images represented anything I found inspiring about the clothing. If I had seen the lookbook first, I wouldn't have been interested at all.

But the pieces are some of the most beautiful clothing I've come across. Especially the embroidered and oversized Zayn Jacket.

Images have a hard time describing the texture, the weight, and the materials. That's always been the case, but I hadn't seen such a stark contrast between reality and imagery. It's usually the other way around, where things look better than they actually are.