Quotes: Our Real Journey in Life Is Interior

Trappist monk Thomas Merton apparently was very concerned with silence and retreat from the world and its opposing force, that of engagement with the world and its ourward pull.

Current Reading Silence

“Our real journey in life is interior. It is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action.”

– Thomas Merton, 1975

Apparently this quote is from a collection of journal entries Merton made in Asia shortly before his accidental death during the trip.

Not being a philosopher or a spiritual person, I couldn’t tell you what I think of “the creative action of love and grace”. However, the conclusion I’m more and more leaning towards is that the most important thing in life is one’s internal growth and what external actions (hopefully positive or beneficial to others) stem out of that.

Merton, Thomas. “Serious Communication”: The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, eds. Naomi Burton, Brother Patrick Hart and James Laughlin, p. 29. New York: New Directions, 1975. Quoted in Brox, Jane. Silence: A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements if Our Lives. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, p. 225.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

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Yet Another Avengers: Endgame Trailer: Special Look

Well, how about that—just after I scheduled my Second Avengers: Endgame trailer post and leaned back, there’s another trailer:

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame | Special Look by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

It seems there are at least two big group missions: from trailer #2 the one that the team wears their pale armor for while epically slowwalking in the hangar (at the Avengers compound, I assume), and from the special look the one where they take the fight to Thanos wearing darker armor. Unless the trailers deliberatly lie, which they might.

Smaller sorties are implied e.g. in the scene where Tony and Steve shake hands and Cap tells Tony he trusts him; it looks like it either might lead to a confrontation or come at the end of one—you can just see emergency vehicle lights flashing in the background. We also see Black Widow and Hawkeye gearing up (seemingly in the quinjet, perhaps over Manhattan), Hawkeye running away from a fire blast in a tunnel, Rocket hanging onto War Machine’s shoulder ready to take anyone on, and Ant-Man jumping at a lever.

IMDB lists Endgame run time at an unprecedented 3 h 2 min. Even if the end credits take the now-usual 10 minutes, that leaves 2 hours and 50 minutes for the storytelling. There’s clearly a lot to go through: apart from numerous fights, flashbacks, and getting people regrouped, some from pretty far away, there’s some training, planning, and contemplating. (So much contemplating!)

For one, I am looking forward to Thor getting to use his honking big axe-mace, and for another, to how Captain Marvel fits into the lineup.

However, one thing absolutely baffles me—I assume there will be at least one stinger, since that seems de rigueur for MCU, but what it (or they) might contain is beyond me. Any guesses?

This post has been edited to correct a typo.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Second Avengers: Endgame Trailer & Tv Spot

In just about three weeks, we in the U.S. get to see Avengers: Endgame, the sequel for Infinity War. And there are new clips!

Here’s the tv spot from SuperBowl Sunday:

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame – Big Game TV Spot by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

The second trailer:

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame – Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

They’re really not revealing much, are they. Clearly many (or all?) of the far-flung protagonists have found their way to Earth, and there’s A Plan(TM) in the works. I do hope they won’t overuse that swelling, epic music with choral vocalizing in the movie. As amazing as it can be, this trailer sure had too much of it.

But: WTH is going on with Tony Stark being plastered up, front, and center in these trailers? Did Robert Downey Jr. make a deal to have an at-minimum performance time in each MCU movie?? Is someone upset not to get their daily RDJ dose???

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Stars in Your Bathroom Floor

Oh my, this is stunning: a DIYed bathroom floor lights up with tiny fiber optics stars!

Instructables Balrd Star Floor
Balrd at Instructables

The secret is to thread the fibers into the grout lines. Apparently, for safety, the light source needs to be outside the bathroom (or, I imagine, whatever the local code calls for) and, of course, you need to start with a bare floor or to demo the existing surface, so it’s not a quick project by any measure. The results are amazing, though.

See the full star floor tutorial by Balrd at Instructables.

Found via Buzzfeed.

In Here is an occasional feature highlighting geeky spaces created by our fellow geeks all over the world.

Traditional Andean Design Finds New Life in Architectural Details

The city of El Alto in Bolivia, high up in the Andes, is the country’s second largest city and right next to the third largest one, La Paz. Something that El Alto beats its richer neighbor in is unique eye candy right on the building facades.

That’s because an architect, Freddy Mamani Silvestre, is slowly working bright colors into El Alto’s red-brick and concrete scenery.

Wikipedia Mamani Cholet1

Information on Silvestre seems scant in English. A member of the indigenous Aymara, he apparently started working on buildings as a bricklayer. There’s a feature on El Alto in The New York Times in 2013 and in The Washington Post in 2014. He’s referred to in a 2014 BBC News article on president Evo Morales. The Architectural Association, Inc., still has their exhibition info Salones de Eventos from 2015 available online. I also found two articles via the German Wikipedia entry for Silvestri: one in The Architectural Review and the other in Quartz, both from 2015. The best bet at the moment might be the 2017 book El Alto by Silvestre and Peter Granser. For Spanish readers there’s more, including the 2014 book La arquitectura de Freddy Mamani Silvestre.

Quartz Mamani Salon Montecarlo

Silvestri draws on traditional shapes and colors in his designs. Some of the detailing reminds me of jugend (I believe the phrase art deco is used in the U.S. instead), but Silvestri’s work is clearly not derivative of it.

Architectural Association Mamani Green Building

If the exteriors seem colorful and detailed, just wait until you see the interiors!

Colossal Mamani Green Interior

Wow! His style has been described as Neo-Andean, new Andean, space-ship architecture or, plainly, kitch. However you may want to describe it, the word colorful will have to be there!

Found via Colossal.

Images: Cholet (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikipedia. Salón Montecarlo by Alfredo Zeballos / The Architecture of Freddy Mamani Silvestre via Quartz. Green exterior via The Architectural Association, Inc. Green interior via Colossal.

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day!

I’m the kind of geek you can (within reason) egg on to doing something by saying most people don’t act in a particular way or do whatever it is you’re describing.

Case in point: our high school math teacher told us that most people won’t ever learn the approximation for pi further than 2 or 4 decimals places. So, I had to go and memorise it to 8 decimal places. I can still remember it: 3.14159265.

Dinner3 Dessert

Don’t ask me why it was so important to me—I can’t remember anymore. I am, however, surprised that I can still produce it without any hesitation whatsoever even though I haven’t used it in decades. (It only works in Finnish, though; clearly there’s some connection with the rhythm and sounds that made it easy for me to memorize.) I wish I was as speedy with my U.S. social security number, for instance. 🙂

P.S. For a full appreciation of my dorkiness, look at the tags for this post. :p

Messing with numbers is messy.

Turning Vinegar and Lobster Shells into Sustainable Bioplastic

Four Master’s students from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, London, UK, have created a bioplastic from chitin combined with vinegar. This sustainable plastic can be manipulated to produce items of varying stiffness, flexibility, thickness, and translucence by adjusting the ratios of the base ingredients.

Instagram Shellworks Variety of Material Properties

Instagram Shellworks Bags Bubblewrap

Apparently, the material can also be turned back into the original bioplastic solution.

Shellworks is Ed Jones, Insiya Jafferjee, Amir Afshar, and Andrew Edwards. Their work is still at prototype stage, but it sounds like there is a potential for increasingly (if not utterly and entirely) recyclable, non-toxic plastic here. Sounds awesome!

Visit the Shellworks website or Instagram for more.

Found via Colossal.

Images: Variety of Material Properties by Shellworks on Instagram. Bags and bubblewrap by Shellworks on Instagram.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Celebrating International Women’s Day with a Captain Marvel Viewing

March 08 is International Women’s Day. Very appropriately, we are celebrating by going to see Captain Marvel!

IMDB Captain Marvel Eyes Horizontal

I’m hoping it’ll be as awesome as the trailers look!

To the people complaining that this version of Marvel is too political and therefore massively off-putting, I have only one thing to say.

(Long post warning.)

Read the whole post.

Quotes: You Can Be Warm and Vulnerable with People You Trust

Some power reading on gender and power, especially at Anglo-American financial companies:

“My Kleiner colleagues said that I sucked the air out of the room, that I ‘wasn’t the warmest person.’ Now [after leaving] I’m told the opposite. I’ve thought a lot about how I was accused of being cold and unlikeable at Kleiner. Looking back, maybe I was. But it wasn’t because I’m a cold person. It was because I needed to have my guard up all the time. You can be warm and vulnerable with people you trust, not with those who you know are trying to keep you down.”

– Ellen Pao

Current Reading Reset

I can attest from personal experience, even if not in the same environment.

Pao, Ellen. Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change. New York: Spegel & Grau, 2017, p. 259.

Image by Eppu Jensen

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.