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My first glimpse of Mt. Fuji

My first glimpse of Mt. Fuji

I’m in Japan this week to decompress (I’ve been very stressed with exhibitions and grant writing lately), first in Tokyo then now en route to Shizuoka to visit some friends. On the bus, I woke up from a map to see Mt. Fuji from the window. Oh my. Nothing quite prepares you to see this. All those ukiyo-e prints were real, you guys!

I’m writing this again in transit, now bound for Kyoto. I love the East Asian countryside.

About a week ago, I picked up a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better than Before, and read it in one sitting in a bookstore. The book talked about our habits and classified people into The Four Tendencies. (I got Questioner. No surprise there!) After reading, I decided to make a list of habits I wanted to pick up or break. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with so many projects lately and decided it was probably time to audit my processes and see how I can be better.

One habit I decided to take up is meditation. It’s difficult for me to do absolutely nothing, so I decided I would meditate by doing 100 deep breaths. Just that—breathing deeply (and counting!). For the past week at around 9 pm, I’ve been doing this for 10-20 minutes,  lying on my back and in the dark. After the meditation I would start another few hours of work before sleeping at 3 am.

On the first day of this habit I had a very strange surprise: a tingling on my head, face, and hands. It was intense enough for me to notice. It’s not painful or anything. I would even say it was pleasant—it’s how I imagined it would feel like if someone sprinkled fairy dust on me. Here are some journal entries that showed how I felt:

April 19, Sunday

I started a 100-breath meditation practice last night. I’m pretty sure I have ASMR. I feel it around the 20-something breath. It’s stronger on the top of my head. I feel it behind my ears, my face (especially lips). and on the collarbone. Later on, I feel it in my hands. 

I realized that stress and hot weather didn’t help.

April 20, Monday

I did 150 breaths, but only felt a bit of the tingling in my hands and face (a little in the chest). Maybe it’s because I slept at past 3 last night and because it’s so hot today (Manila is having a heat wave right now). And because I’m thinking too many things. 

By Day 4, I was panicking that I lost it. It was a stressful day.

April 21, Tuesday

Oh no. I think I lost the power!

By Day 5, I was relieved. 

April 22, Wednesday

I still have the power! My parents installed a new AC so the air was at 23 degrees Celsius. I started feeling it around breath #25. By breath #50, I sat up to see if I could feel it in the back of the head and neck without the interference of a pillow. I definitely felt it at the back of the neck, but not the spine, but then again I did a lot of side kick stretches at the bar in the dojang, so the sides of my back are killing me. 

The tingling actually persists after my meditation practice. Here is a sketch to show where I feel it:

A page from my journal which shows where I feel it—on top of the head, on the face, and back of the hands and fingers.

A page from my journal which shows where I feel it—on top of the head, on the face, and back of the hands and fingers.

When I shift my position, or when I’m exposed to light, the tingling is affected. Breathing controls the flow of the tingling.

Movement and sudden light (someone entered the room) didn’t stop it, but diminished it a bit, and resumed on the next breath. Exhaling / inhaling seem to control the flow of the tingling, especially on the exhale. [Doing] 100 breaths now takes me around 18 minutes. 

It tickles!

And later:

April 23, Wednesday

I can feel when it’s about to happen, like when you know you’re about to sneeze. 

I immediately thought of ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, since it trended online a few weeks ago and there are lots of articles about it. I tried the Youtube videos of whispering and other triggers, but it’s this breathing practice that really does it for me (though I breathe through the nose and throat as in yoga, so perhaps the sound of that helps, too). Science is skeptical about it, but I hope that I can get an MRI to check and see what is going on with me since it looks like I can control it.

All I know for sure is that I feel a tingling when I do lots of deep breaths. It’s like a meteor is about to burst from me. After I meditate, I feel like my to-do list becomes more manageable. I’m more focused and relaxed. As for the ASMR, I’m not sure if that also helps with my focus or if it’s just another consequence of the meditation, but I like visualizing myself as a superhero with a very strange (and perhaps useless) superpower.

As someone who is very interested in perception, discovering this about myself is fascinating. I’m already extremely sensitive to smell and sounds, so this makes me feel like another dimension is opening up for me. In any case, meditating amidst all the stress should be a good habit to pick up.

Next habit on my list: apply hand lotion every day.

Hello, apocalypters! I’m excited to announce that as a culminating event for The Apocalypse Project: Imagined Futures, The Mind Museum is collaborating with Radio Republic to bring you Future Feast, a celebration of human creativity and our hopes for a sustainable future. The event will be on July 26, Saturday, 12PM to 7PM at the Special Exhibition Hall of The Mind Museum.

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With the theme of Redesign, I am working with chefs who are creating new dishes for a Convenience Store of the Future. Radio Republic is bringing in their featured artists for July: Slow Hello, Jireh Calo, and Brisom. There will also be a performance by special guest artist Joey Ayala. This is an event for all ages, so bring in your families and get the kids to play at the Tinker Studio, watch spoken word performances and science shows, dress up in clothes from the Climate Change Closet and have your photos taken at the photo booth, smell the perfumes of The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store, participate in Mission Apocalypse Scavenger Hunt and win an Apocalypse Project Commander Badge, and think of how you can help build a sustainable future by making an Earth Pledge.

Future Feast poster by The Mind Museum, which highlights activities

Future Feast poster by The Mind Museum, which highlights activities

Future Feast poster by Radio Republic, highlighting featured artists, special guest artist, and the chefs

Future Feast poster by Radio Republic, highlighting featured artists, special guest artist, and the chefs

Ticket prices are as follows:

EXPLORE TICKET (All Day Pass to the galleries of TMM, Access to Live Performances, Mission Apocalypse Scavenger Hunt & Climate Change Closet): 500.00 PHP

TASTE TICKET (Access to Live Performances, Future Tastes (6 dishes), and Climate Change Closet): 300.00 PHP

DISCOVER TICKET (Access to Live Performances and Climate Change Closet): 200.00 PHP

TINKER TICKET (Access to Tinker Studio: Make your own Animal Art): 150.00 PHP

You can buy tickets online here. You can also buy your tickets at the museum on the day of the event. No reservations are required.

See you there!

 

It’s been a while since I’ve updated. But that’s because there’s just so much to do and too little time to blog about it. But here’s a photograph of a worm steak by two of the seven chefs I’m collaborating with for another project for The Apocalypse Project. I ate it. I ate it all! It came with weeds and mashed sweet potato.

I’m pescetarian, so this was a gray area (fish eat worms no?), but I call it Designer’s Responsibility, as I like to think of the seven-year-olds I often encounter during my projects and would like to make sure this is ok for mass consumption. Take one for the team, or for humanity.

Worms! Weeds! Waste! Oh la la!

Worms! Weeds! Waste! Oh la la!

It was more of a mental challenge, as I kept thinking of the worms and kept telling myself it was just meat. And then I remembered I’m pescetarian and don’t eat meat. It was incredibly tasty, though, and Chef Erik told me it was 82% protein.

Verdict: Green light! I can’t wait for people to try it. That’s not even the craziest part. Stay tuned here or at http://www.apocalypse.cc for what’s next.

Philippine Airlines Flight No. PR 512 had a strange guest buckled up on Seat No. 73B. My sentimental side insisted on bringing The Bubble prototype for Climate Change Couture. It got through so many things already—a gallery show, a photo shoot, was co-designed by someone on my Apocalypse Squad, and has been the starter for many a conversation that I didn’t care about the bulkiness of it. I was going to drag this $2 piece of plastic across international barriers if it killed me.

And so, we begin.The Bubble got through all the security checks and immigration without problems (as it was transparent and clearly made of plastic) but with lots of curious looks, questions, and chuckles. Even I had to laugh when I realized that, instead of squashing it in the overhead bin, the best way to transport this was to buckle it in the empty seat next to me.
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And hi! I was right next to it, 73C. What do you do with a plastic bubble on an international flight? You take selfies…

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…and of course, wear it. The AC on flights is always too cold for me.

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I had to take it off when I was eating (or not eating, as I can’t eat chicken).

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I can, however, eat ice cream! Why haven’t I flown this airline before?

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About four hours later, The Bubble made it! Welcome to the Republic of the Philippines, where climate change hits quite hard and The Apocalypse Project just got transplanted to.

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They say that what you do on New Year’s Eve will be what you will do for the year. If doing crazy experiments like these is my fate, then please oh please bring it on.

(Pulau Ubin, Singapore)—My final natural excursion in Singapore was a trip to Chek Jewa wetlands in Pulau Ubin, an island northeast of the country and according to people, the second most famous island off of Singapore next to Sentosa, the latter of which I confess I have never been to because of the excess of crowds and commercialization.

Pulau Ubin is as wild as it can get here in the police state. There are insects here I have never seen before:

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I decided to walk all the way to Chek Jawa, an eastern spot on the island that is preserved due to the large amount of biodiversity. I slightly regret that choice—an 8-km bike ride would have been easier than going about it on foot. But I think about my Seoul43 project, and I suppose this far from the hardest thing I’ll ever do. And so I began to walk, and along the way, I came across quirky homes, such as this one with a battered statue of Cookie Monster:

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There were some abandoned houses as well, looking peaceful and gloomy amidst the dense forests:

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Signs warned me of wild animals, such as monkeys and, oh dear, wild boars. There was a little army of monkeys who were following me and some other hikers, having learned to associate people with food. I warily walked past them on the trees. After I passed, they appeared on the trail. I was only able to get this quick blurred shot before I fled.

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Upon reaching Chek Jewa, I saw this lovely coastal forest.

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I also saw these beautiful mangroves, as well as organisms that live near it, such as crabs, sea grass, etc. I groaned at the sight of a discarded plastic bottle, and gave the stink eye to two men smoking nearby.

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Walking back, I passed by a cluster of nipa trees. There was an observation dock you can climb the top of, allowing you to see the tops of the trees and beyond. I felt like a flea finally seeing what lay beyond the realm of a dog:

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And so was my final expedition in the Lion City. Thanks, Singapore! The past four and a half months were oh so very lovely. You kicked my ass, just as I hoped you would. Salut!

The Holiday Hackathon is an exploration/discovery project of me spending my last couple of weeks in Singapore. I just finished an art/science residency, and I’m hoping that asking questions and going to new places will help me figure out that next step/project. 

 

The Holiday Hackathon is an excellent excuse to do all the touristy things in Singapore I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Today was a trip to Jurong Bird Park, Asia’s largest aviary.

I had a great afternoon surrounded by beautiful birds and three iguanas sunning themselves. I learned new things—a group of pelicans is a squadron, ostrich only have two toes, scarlet ibises get their color from the carotene in their diet, etc.

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I love penguins, but I do wonder about animals kept in climates obviously not meant for them. This isn’t the first time; in Seoul’s Children’s Zoo, I saw a polar bear and a camel. But if their original habitats are disappearing, is it justifiable that they’re here, fed and watered at least? People who may never get a chance to go to polar regions only have places like these to go to. And maybe it would inspire some kids to be conservationists. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I just hope these animals are happy.

Penguins. In the tropics. Hmm.

Penguins. In the tropics. Hmm.

I loved seeing birds I didn’t know existed, such as a cassowary, which is a descendant from the dinosaurs. (Or as I like to call it, a rainbow turkey.) This one was a bit shy. Or perhaps because it was a really hot afternoon and needed the shade.

My first cassowary!

My first cassowary!

Another bird I had no idea existed. Here is a rare shoebill from Sudan. There was only a fence between it and me. It did not look happy to see me. Or did it?

A rare shoebill.

A rare shoebill.

And for the heck of it, I tracked my trail around the park when I was: A. In the tram, and B. Walking.

Happy Trails. (L) Track made by riding the tram. (R) Track made by walking.

Happy Trails. (L) Track made by riding the tram. (R) Track made by walking.

Obviously, the latter made me look at more things, but by how much? The tram ride was about 15 minutes and walking and mindful looking took me about two hours, walking more than twice the distance the tram covered. The experience designer in me is taking notes.

The Holiday Hackathon is an exploration/discovery project of me spending my last couple of weeks in Singapore. I just finished an art/science residency, and I’m hoping that asking questions and going to new places will help me figure out that next step/project. 

 

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