Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Grook for Today

Piet Hein is famous for his Grooks. Here is a timeless grook pertinent to me these days.

T. T. T.

Put up in a place
where it's easy to see
the cryptic admonishment
T. T. T.

When you feel how depressingly
slowly you climb,
it's well to remember that
Things Take Time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

China Pictures and Great Pop

I want to write more about China, but in the meantime, I put a Picasaweb album together with about a dozen select China pictures for your enjoyment.
Magnificent China

As a bonus, I want to share a link to David Brin's essay on Tolkien: Enemy of Progress. Tolkien's seminal work, Lord of the Rings, is one of my favorite books of all time. I hold The Enlightenment to be the foundation of modern progress, freedom and prosperity. Thus, I enjoyed Brin's juxtaposition of the two. Plus, having your most cherished works and authors subjected to sage critique is a healthy excercise.

In general, there is a lot of Great Pop out there. A lot of junk, but many gems as well. I have found that I enjoy blogging, so when I am not traveling, I will point to more good stuff. I created a "Great Pop" tag for that purpose. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chinese College Quiz

Every year, about ten million Chinese students compete for about five million college placements. A critical factor is the Chinese SAT, the main difference being that it lasts for two days.

The Chinese students call it Gaokao. Take a look at some of the open-ended essay questions. How would you do? Bear in mind that these questions are always tailored to the education the students go through in their schools, but it is still interesting to ponder.

Pictured is Tree, a Chinese student I met and became friends with on the way back from Japan to Shanghai. I hope he did well in his tests this year.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Japanese Water Zen

Water is important to Japanese designs. In their version of Feng Shui, it's best to have some kind of water running through a setting. Thus, you'll see little brooks and ponds in unexpected places.

The little canal on the right, which I noticed in a historical neighbourhood in Takayama, could be mistaken for a gutter, but water will flow through it at all times.

Though I'm no Feng Shui nut, I do find the presence of water both aesthetic and soothing.

This stream in Kyoto had steps so you could literally walk across -- or through, depending on your perspective -- the stream.

Pond designed as part of the restoration of Osaka Castle.