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Some years ago, I had a strange dream. It wasn’t like a normal dream; I was partly conscious, or perhaps fully conscious – it was in the twillight zone between day-dreaming and actual sleep-dreaming.

In that dream, I was in a small mountain village. I wasn’t myself – in that I wasn’t Alex Tee; I was someone else. I looked different, had a different identity, a different history. I was perhaps in my early forties, and was born somewhere far away, in a big city, a major metropolis. For the past few years though, I had been in that mountain village – and the locals, who knew who everyone was, had began to slowly accept me as one of them.

I was running away from something – A refugee from my past. I had the sense that my appearance and subsequent settling down in that village was the culmination of a long, exhausting journey, over many places, over many weeks and months. Yet I had found respite in that village, and had started to rebuild a broken life in that mountain village.

The village was high among the mountains and lay at the foot of a huge mountain. The mountain was so dominating, so assertive, that it appeared as if the village existed entirely by virtue of the mountain. The mountain was physical, the village ephemereal. The shadow that the mountain cast on the village was real and tangible, the motley jumble of brick and concrete dwellings almost metaphysical in existence. The more affluent households had white render on their walls, and the village was characterised by steep slopes and gravel roads, well-used but meticulously kept in good condition by the villagers. It was quite a big and busy village, almost a town. This was in part due to its location as the centre of a clutch of similar villages scattered around the mountains.

I had a skill. The skill was, while not unique, relatively valuable to that village. I offered my services in return for a roof over my head, food, and for something to do to pass the time. It was partly the reason the villagers accepted me – they didn’t know anything about big metropolises, but they understood a skilled craftsman, especially a useful one, and for that reason I quickly became part of the community.

TO BE CONTINUED

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It’s creating time!

I am a terrible procrastinator. I’ve been trying for some time to change that. Among the things I did was to read widely on the internet about time management, yadda yadda efficiency and that sort of thing. Most of it seems completely generic,  unsubstantiated, and in most cases pulled directly from the author’s head on to paper. In a practical manner of speaking, they are worthless. There is the occasional gem or two of useful advice, but for the most part, they seem to be written by self-proclaimed experts and “specialists” capitalising on people’s insecurities.

A particularly well-received author spoke of the importance of scheduling “creative time” for “creating”. I get the feeling that his creative time was spent on thinking up funny advice like this. Can creativity be scheduled so conveniently? When inspiration (or deadlines) strikes, adrenaline courses through you and will tide you over typical physical limits. In the midst of an epiphany, you won’t feel sleepy. Conversely, when you are faced with a writer’s, or equivalent, block, no amount of redbull is going to keep you awake, and no amount of careful scheduling is going to save your sorry ass. I don’t know about that author, but personally I can never get inspiration to strike just when it is time for me to “create” and to wear off just as “creative time” is supposed to end. Perhaps he knows something I don’t, something that I will only know if i pay $99 and join his merry band of followers.

For the record, he’s not wrong – it is entirely possible to just sit down and start drawing, doodling, writing, painting, composing something, but it seems extremely farcical and presumptous to assume that the resulting piece of work is going to be of any quality.

On that tangent, I wonder how many people involved in the arts – (music, literature, design etc) lead highly ordered and organised lives with perfect, sparkling daily schedules.  Or if this has any effect on the quality of their work. I have the impression that for most of the talented individuals, their whole life is one block of “creative time”, 24/7, and everything else is an afterthought. Saying that, I don’t know where architecture fits in all this – most will not admit it is “merely” art, and similarly most will not admit it is “merely” science. Being stuck somewhere in between is the worst place to be, is all I’m saying. It’s as if you have to be all emo and moody a la Beethoven, but as precise and accurate as an engineer. I guess it’s not a surprise that me, at least, fail terribly at being both.

Anyway, to finish up, one is a bestselling author, or so he claims, and I am a struggling student. I know whose advice I’d take.

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Learning by Doing

For everything I wanted to do, and told myself “this is something interesting, to put into practice next time”, I correct and tell myself: there is no next time. There is only now. And Somehow, some way, I have to put it into practice right this moment, if i want to do it, as I will probably never get the chance to do it anymore.

On the other hand though, there is ALWAYS a next time. It all depends on the importance you impart to “this time”. A procrastinator might think the other way, but the more you give for this time, the more chances that there will be a next time.

Enlightenment arrived too late? But, you know, we learn by doing….

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It’s been a month since the last update. I think it’s been quite an interesting month.

Mostly it’s interesting because after a year out, I returned to uni to find things aren’t the same as they have been in 2007/2008. In a touchy and volatile subject like architecture can be, no two schools does things exactly the same way, and the differences between schools can sometimes get rather extreme. The fact that I didn’t do the entire program here, instead coming in halfway through, was interesting because this puts me in a sort of outlier perspective. Also, my penchant for reading just whatever happened to be in front of my eyes, especially during my year out, has lead me to absorb all sorts of recent subjects on architectural discourse.

The first semester went at rather breakneck pace, but in the short break in between the first and second semester I had time to sift through these very blurry recollections and mental images to sort of organise my position, in architectural debate, in relation to the one my school held. It can get rather hard to reconcile opinions sometimes and to do things you are not used to / don’t like.

Also, as mentioned in the first paragraph, most of my working methods were still very 2007. Of course have to update to 2010 la, such as upgrading to Windows 7! ( I like it). Also, I’m now starting to enjoy working on my laptop more than on my desktop; probably because my laptop has Windows 7 AND is faster!

Lastly, in 2007 several schools rejected my application to enter at 3rd year, citing their reason as being that they have their own specific curriculum designed over 5 years and having someone enter in the last undergrad year was just too confusing on the student (who might have been educated in a vastly different way) and on their curriculum. Most of them offered me a place in second year,. I have to say they might be right. Looking back, I have to ask myself if the year I saved was worth it. In any event, it does say a few things about my current school.

P.S. – another reason for a forced hiatus was because I stopped reading anything on the blogosphere for some time (about a month) and subsequently lost the desire to update. Starting to catch up with RSS feeds also sort of motivated me to write a quick post. Not to mention the therapeautic effect of expressing some thoughts and clearing the mind a little to have space for uni work.

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Ok, the previous post was borne out of a period of “heightened emotion” and melodrama. I won’t fault anyone for ignoring the last bit ;)

It is generally understood, and accepted, that every action has a reaction, has a consequence, or leads to other actions, et cetera. The point is that everything that happens around us constantly reflects some other thing that happened in the past, or will be reflected by something in the future. It is all a giant internconnected mass of actions. With all these actions and reactions and consequences going on, it’s a miracle that anybody gets anything done at all.

What miracle can that be? Might it be that this boils down on our control of actions? Now that I’ve said it, it might seem startlingly obvious, warranting at the very least a good smack to the forehead. Yet I strongly suspect many of us go about our hummingbee lives without consciously putting that into practice, though all of us practice it daily reflexively. Tightly controlling our actions lead to limiting/creating the reactions they cause, and the conseqeuences we have to face, as well as  the joy we might experience. Life is making a decision after another decision after another decision; realising the simple fact that our actions will control the changes in our life will make making decisions easier.

Of course, controlling our actions is easier said than done. Thus the role of discipline comes in. By definition, a disciplined person has greater control over their actions, leading towards a greater control of their lives and a greater chance of realising their ambitions and dreams. Successful people often cite discipline as a key factor,  as well as hard work. Hard work is basically a disciplined, conscious choice of choosing to work as opposed to play. So, let me take a short cut in my rationalising (save time) and skip to my point: a disciplined, tightly regulated control of our actions permeates every aspect of successful life.

Success means different things to different people and at this point I would emphasize that my use of successful life is by no means specific and can be applied to any number of your favourite definitions.

What’s the point of all this rambling, and what is it doing on this blog, I hear you ask. Well suffice to say 2010 started with a bang – of highly undesirable and unlucky events; perhaps as a reaction to the high point that was 2008 and 2009, quite easily the two most interesting years of my life so far. I’m going to take this very bad start as an auspicious indicator though – with such a start, 2010 can only get better. ;)

Disclaimer: I am an architecture student and don’t know about the secrets of success. Flora will probably shoot my theory down in a minute.

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It is rare for me to leave my blog un-updated for such a long period of time, unless if I am busy with uni, away traveling or I don’t have internet access.  I have had friends over for some days now, and have been on some day trips, but internet access is with me all the time, literally, so it isn’t that. Plus it is holidays.

Rather, as I slip into a new decade, I find that this blog grows less relevant to me day by day. It’s not that I am no longer interested in writing, blogging, or sharing my opinions or ocasionally posting my photos; In fact, it is the exact opposite.

Anyway, this is merely a filler post as I work on possibly the most relevant post ever on this blog. As I have more urgent priorities (sadly) than that, it might not appear fully just right now, which is a bit of a shame because I think when I finally get a chance to finish it I will have lost the spirit of most of what I so desperately wanted to share.

Happy new year All~

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Questions

I love books. I buy books all the time. I buy far more books than I can read. At any given time there’s lotsa books lying around that I’ve not gotten around to reading yet.

I love bookstores too.

But like others I’ve stopped buying books from bookstores, preferring to buy almost all my books online.

And now, Borders is the first to fall victim to this trend. If you live near a Borders (who doesn’t?), it’s time to go searching for bargains.

Borders displaced the independent bookseller. Amazon.com (or .co.uk) displaced Borders. What next?

When all the bookstores go, will books be next?

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