I think we should write more.

Back in the day when many kept journals and diaries, lives had been turned into words on pages. The days were remembered and the thoughts were neatly woven into sentences. We still had time to write – to write is to think, think and think again.

What I find very sad is that we seem not to put much time into writing. When I come to think of it, the reason lies in the amount of stuff to read I receive every single day. It’s a gazillion times more than what I could even pretend to digest! Just think about how the bookmark bar, yours most probably too, is overflowing. And we spend time reading, filtering and absorbing – but not writing much.

Writing is, for me, something huge. It is a creative process which takes up a long time and energy as a matter of fact. The thoughts are sorted and become neat. Not only that, writing makes sharing of thoughts super easy! Plus the brain would often deny to recall the details from a train of thoughts, and writing provides tremendous help for that. But most important of all is, in my opinion, is that you think over the course of writing.

‘How should I begin? In which order should I put the subtopics? Does this really make sense? Which proof can I offer to make it stronger?’ – all these are questions everyone would often ask themselves during writing. It makes the human brain think hard. It trains you to communicate better in the form of written language.

When I first started to keep log on wordpress, I was startled with a pleasant surprise that a lot of writers are breathing life in their thoughts by turning them into words. Now that is another example of taking advantage od the advanced communication tech! How easy peasy.

I will never dare say that I am a good writer. Though, I believe that whether one is working on some kind of ‘logs’ or not does tell a little something about them – in most cases it means they think much. Lubricated brains. I think they are attractive.

Looking for a Summer in Milan Survival Guide

Earlier today, I was googling the climate in Milan. Even though I needed them as material for a post on a different blog, it was also for my own self. And I was not so secretly hoping that it wouldn’t be as bad as it sounds. 

I fall victim to heat extremely easily, sweat loads and become dehydrated – so I was dearly praying that at least someone would say comforting and reassuring things, that someone like me would be able to survive it both mentally and physically. I need to get stronger! 

Of course, people live everywhere. People get used to whatever is given. (That was strictly speaking a figure of speech.) But you know what I’m saying – maybe drastic change in work and life will come harder on me than I expected. Standing on the same spot for hours, often facing visitors with odd requests can be lethal under certain circumstances. 

Sultriness. Humid. Heat waves.
This family of words… Oh how much I fear them, loathe them. That was almost poetic now, wasn’t it? So I’m looking for a ‘Summer in Milan Survival Guide.’ Or a realistic heads-up for such a job during the hot season. 

Yet another add-up to the existing list of concerns for my volunteer job at the Expo Milano 2015. Will clear them up shortly!

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan 

I’ve once seen a list of recommended books that are hilarious, guaranteed to have us laughing. “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore definitely falls under the hilarious category. Of course, it wasn’t as if I rolled on the floor laughing, but the book promises quite a bit of chuckles! Robin Sloan is talented in making metaphoric connections between random things – the one that left an especially big impression on me being the following line: …the emotive equivalent of 404 PAGE NOT FOUND. You read it, you get it, you laugh.

  

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is written in a nonchalant style, not trying to overwhelm the readers by the impressive traits such as novelty or graveness. This was the part that made me, as a reader, feel comfortable follow the story easily. (I know, of course, that this kind of fictions are perceived by some avid readers as  too easy and too un-challenging, but I find that they play a big role in the bigger society of readers.) 
Besides, the descriptions of places in particular were almost graphic so that I have quite a clear image of the bookstore, the Reading Room and the Con U. Though, honestly, I personally believe that I have seen quite a number of writers with such good writing styles, so I wouldn’t dare say that his is the best I’ve ever read.

The Story – It’s quite mind-blowing. Really original. Characters with well-established personal traits, too. Plus I thought, okay Mr. Writer, I clearly see you love books and what they hold. Books about books and bookstores are mysterious in themselves for some reasons unknown – maybe books just are? Plus a secret society? There’s no argument about the attraction. Particularly the setting about the fictional character Moffat was so intriguing. 
Of course I knew that it was a fictional work from the beginning, yet I couldn’t help going ‘wait a sec, is this..? Does this really..?‘ It sounds like one of those hard-to-believe but believable stories that make it to the national teli. Even though it only provides weak realistic proof! 

The only thing that I would have liked to have better was that the unraveling was short and hurried. Had it been a tad bit more slow-tempoed, the reader would have had enough time to ride out each of the surprises.

The Symbols Towards the end of the story, I felt more and more convinced that this whole story symbolises the controversy around the so-called digital revolution.
Corvina being at the conservative end and Kat being at the young and pro-change end, the tension seems to grow ever deeper as Clay engages himself more with the Unbroken Spine. And then, at one point, it looks as if it’s tipped against Corvina, but of course Mautinus was unbreakable. The key hiding in plain sight – while we are blinded by the complexity and often imagine the most complex of the scenarios.

Doesn’t this seem familiar? Books, newspapers, journals and pretty much all of the conventional media being challenged, struggling to find a way to survive and to adapt themselves to the new landscape. Both have their own edges, yet one cannot completely beat the other in every possible way. As a reader, I believe I have the freedom of interpretation – so I would dare say it’s not only about coding and decoding. It’s just going to be this way for all new, high-tech stuff that will come along in the future.

It was a good read, and I’ve already bought the other book by Robin Sloan. I would give 4 stars out of 5, largely for the creativity and originality of the story. ★★★★

Tokyo Days: Day Trip to Yokohama

I would like to share some of the pictures I took during a day trip to Yokohama from early January this year. Yokohama is a perfect destination for a day trip from around Tokyo! It’s good because

1) It has a appallingly beautiful harbour,
2) Doesn’t take long by train from Tokyo,
3) Japanese China town is interesting to visit,
4) Has a great park(Yamashita Park),
5) There are interesting museums(i.e. Ramen, Cup Noodles, Kirin Beer, etc.)

横浜 reads Yokohama – it bears the literal meaning of ‘the neighbouring harbour.’ So it’s quite self-explanatory that Yokohama is located almost right next to Tokyo with a fairly big population of over 3 million. Being a big city as it is, I felt the atmosphere was quite different. A tad bit more calm? Relaxing?

Yokohama was one of the first harbours in Japan to be opened to foreign trade. If you decide for a ferry ride, as I did, you will find the red warehouse buildings close to the water reminding you of western architecture style. As a matter of fact, the entire city holds a faint shadow of what we would usually call western. I skipped the Yamate district, but I’ve heard there is a western residential area – I would love to check it out the next time. Maybe it would be legit to say that Yokohama is less traditionally Japanese with all this and a Chinatown, too.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

All of the photos are taken by me, and in case you want to re-post them somewhere else, please let me know or put a link. Thanks!

Rock Werchter 2012

When was the last gig you’ve all been to? It was already almost three years ago for me – although it was a 4-day-long festival rather than a concert.

 

It was Rock Werchter 2012 in Belgium. Wow, just the sound of it makes it feel like it was ages ago! In my memory, the week is highlighted. First ever camping at a festival sight, so no wonder.

(To be perfectly honest, though, what is left deeply etched is how it smelled, the temperature, and other almost unbearable discomforts. Oh, the joy of witnessing seats in buses and being able to sit in one, practically shouting “seats!” at the top of my lungs.)

Other than the usual ordeal of no shower for 4 days, it was purely magnificent. I’d hardly ever seen so many people packed in such a place with the sole purpose of having fun. And all of them dancing like no one is looking, and singing along, sweating and trembling together. I honestly think there are few other things that can convey such strong and positive feelings – I miss being at concerts! I miss the jumping and screaming. So. Much.

 

The weather was mostly beautiful during the day.(Mostly damp and rainy during the night, but nothing dramatic.) This picture above is taken with an old iPod touch – but look at that blue of the sky! Even though the sun made us get tipsy easier from the beer, it kept breaks pleasant. 

That year, each and every person who wanted was given a cloth bag for collecting cups. Believe me, it was a HUGE fun to collect them and get free drink coupons! I think I paid for probably 20% of all drinks I consumed over the festival period – meaning that I picked up hundreds of used cups. It’s pretty clever, right? And very useful for poor exchange students like me and my friends.(Some random guys ran up to us and snatched our cup bags, too. Guess they were bloody desperate for some beer.)

On the train back to A’dam, I thought, ‘this is going to be the last festival camping I would ever have.‘ I’ll have to reconsider that – my body itches for some more of it.

Fun experience: Helping Out at Electronics Manufacturing Korea 2015

You need to do a job, and you haven’t been informed about it, not in the least. How well do you think you can carry it out? 

My answer to this question 3 days ago would’ve been a stern ‘not good,’ or at least ‘uncertain but highly doubtful.’ I think I would be capable of managing it after those three days of being an assistant at an electronics and manufacturing exhibition.

 

Electronics Manufacturing Korea 2015 took place in Seoul from April 1st to 3rd.  To be honest, I still don’t have a clue what the other participants were exhibiting. There was a countless number of very high-tech looking machines! To my ignorant mind, though, they were nothing but unrecognisable. I have to admit I was a tiny bit awe-stricken by the fact that there are people who can carry full conversations on those boxes.

Aaaand, the job given to me was to assist exhibition staff at one of the booths! The initial idea was that I give a hand prepping promo materials and answer simple questions. 

   

Unlike how we expected it to be, however, things got almost out of control and I was literally forced to provide pseudo-satisfying answers to questions. Not being prepared beforehand, I had no other options but to learn bits from what was said. The questions I couldn’t quite answer needed to be handled anyway. 

  

It was an electronics and manufacturing exhibition – and the last science class I had was in 10th grade!(It was not even computer sciences, duh) So the most challenging questions for me were those where visitors asked technical questions. And surprisingly listening close and paying attention to the answers other staff gave was of huge help! Thanks to this, I can now say that I know a thing or two about it. 

All in all, I learned new stuff!

   a) how to act in case of difficult questions

   b) very, very basic knowledge about printed circuit board components

   c) how to teach myself about a specific thing in a short period of time with limited material

I’m tremendously happy that I could be of help, let alone the aforementioned personal achievements. Even though my feet suffered awfully much from long hours standing. I’d think of it as a prep for the next 6 months in Milan. 

Film Review: Haute Cuisine(2012)

I consider myself lucky for being able to live where people have super easy access to the cinema. It’s a mere 10 minute walk from home, resulting in impromptu visits at early hours of the day. Tuesday was such a day, and I watched <Haute Cuisine> at 9 o’clock in the morning.

It is pretty uncommon that foreign films other than those from the US, Canada and the UK make it to the screens here. That is one of the reasons I wanted to give it a shot, and another is that it’s related to food. Food is good! Haute Cuisine is even better! And yet another reason is that it’s running in the cinemas here long after its original release date, which was in 2012. It must have been particularly asked, or it wouldn’t be around in March 2015, now would it?

<Haute Cuisine> was anything but blockbuster, hardcore, overly emotional or full of unexpected twists and turns. Quite the contrary, in fact. The film was as if Hortense Laborie was calmly reciting her time back in the Palais de l’Élysée – providing a sense of sitting at a comfortable story time around the fireplace at night. And a tad bit like a story that grandpas and grandmas would tell their grandchildren, a tale of which they are not so secretly proud.

The cinemas are not exactly flowing with films that revolve around the kitchen, so it was impossible for me not to think of <Chef>. Whereas <Chef> was invigorating, a little clamorous and overall elated, <Haute Cuisine> was calm and filled with murmurs and quiet dialogues instead of shouts. Albeit this, it didn’t become boring and I was glad about it.

I’m trying to be more conscious about what I eat every day. And I regard food sovereignty a very serious theme that should be discussed more often and more openly. So I couldn’t but wholeheartedly agree with the idea that there has to be a philosophy to our diet, to the way we cook. I personally would give 4 out of 5 to <Haute Cuisine>. ★★★★

Dan Brown’s “Inferno” – Transhumanism and Growth

Several months ago, there was this great post about our laziness when it comes to reading on my WordPress front page. For some reason I couldn’t find a ‘like’ button or something so I just let it be – I didn’t know I’d regret doing so because I want to provide a link to that post. Simply put, it was questioning us whether we are really that lazy to read books that are challenging. One of my resolutions for 2015 being to read more non-fiction books, I deeply agreed to the argument.

But turns out that I was indeed lazy enough to skip difficult and challenging books! My read list this year so far is solely comprised of fictions. But it’s easy, and it’s more difficult to stop reading and go back to whatever I was doing in real life for a job. Especially when you are reading in a foreign language.

My latest entry on my read list is Dan Brown’s “Inferno.”

Mystery and thriller books are probably the most easy to approach. They keep you desiring for more, being engaged in the plot and doing some guesswork here and there. Besides, those based on historical facts like Dan Brown’s even make you feel as if you are being enlightened about a certain period of time in the history! Just like you are watching an interesting educational documentary film at school instead of listening to a lecture. In fact, I came to know a whole lot better about Dante Alighieri reading Inferno. What an interesting life you led, Signor Alighieri.

Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but compare Inferno to The Name of the Rose. (Even though I believe that they do not belong to the same rank to be honest.) One clue leads to another and yet another, placing all the puzzles in place and catching the readers by surprise. Inferno had those turns and twists, and quite a number of them, too. But whereas The Name of the Rose overwhelmed me with so much information with which I was in no way acquainted that I couldn’t possibly read from cover to cover without the help of footnotes, Inferno ‘taught’ me. I think this is one of the points where I thought, I don’t think I like this book that much. Maybe Robert Langdon is a professor for a reason.

The plot mostly taking place in Firenze(I prefer how the Italians call the city to Florence), it might pass as a tourist information book. I am sure that I’m not the only one who felt distracted.. But honestly, the city is beautiful and attractive.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 4.27.34 PMIf I type the word ‘transhumanism,’ the editor automatically draws a red line. The concept is not too old; and by no means mainstream. It’s a very scary thought, for it aims to transform the human race into a more intellectual and physically desirable one with the help of available technologies. I’ve personally been thinking that the technology of today must be way more advanced that is known to the public. It’s just they are too scared to announce it for the fear of it being used against the common good. Of course I agree that the transhumanist changes can be interpreted as ethically wrong. But this novel made me look at it from a different perspective; does what we believe to be the common good really benefit us?

I’ve been considering studying international development cooperation. Since junior high, I was under the impression that we are all responsible for what’s happening on the Earth, and the Earth includes the less developed parts. Enhancing the quality of life, inspiring them to keep developing so the inequality would become smaller and smaller. But the last few years made me think albeit discretely, that maybe we’ve come too far. The air quality is so bad that I can’t run outside for the fear of catching some kind of disease. So maybe assisting less developed countries’ development may not be the better choice.

So I was a tad bit inclined to conform to this transhumanist thought. But not entirely. The work of WHO as described in the book and transhumanism stand exactly opposite each other. The answer does not definitely have to be somewhere in between those two.

Has it never occurred to you that it’s paradoxical to worry about the ever increasing population on the Earth and the decreasing population in a country at the same time? Sometimes we worry about too many people and other times we worry about too few. I haven’t reached the conclusion yet, but I believe that an amendment has to be made about our conventional idea about the development.

The main reason why individual countries are worried about decreasing number of population is because less people means less work force, thus leading to less ‘growth.’ Growth in this context is not physical, of course. It’s economic growth that worries people. Why does economic growth have to be the utmost raison d’être? Is it only achievable via traditional means?

I do not believe that what Dan Brown intended to do was to lead people to consider transhumanism as a viable alternative. Maybe there is no intended hidden message in the book at all! But I came to ponder upon the concept of growth and development assistance. And it was a good read all in all, albeit the traits of a textbook and a travel guidebook. I would give 3.5 out of 5 stars. ★★★☆