Chris has been watching math videos (huh?!), so I tuned in for a few, including this video introducing differential equations. They’re really easy to watch, follow, and learn from, and the instructor is an absolute delight. It’s impressive to see lessons that are considered ‘upper level’ math presented with such ease and in such manageable chunks. I am sad that my last math class was 8 years ago; these mini-lessons are just enough to fill that void for awhile longer!
Even if you’re not a math person, there are videos for you! The Khan Academy is an online-based nonprofit with a mission to make quality education available to everyone. They have nearly 4,000 videos on topics from biology, to animation, to finance, to history. I love the mission and the execution; two thumbs up. Now go learn about differential equations!
Meet Dabbler. Brilliant idea. It’s a no brainer to sign up for this latest Brooklyn Brainery venture; for only $2/month, you get a new hobby every month without leaving your home. I have no doubt that each month will have just the right amount of digestible and awesome information, which will consist of “several billion notes, book recommendations, background, how-to’s, a million and one links for further study, and anything else we think you’d find half-useful.”
Taking Time to Process: Why it’s important, why we don’t have it, and how to do it anyway.
Maybe part of it is being busy or the pace of life, but I feel like I can’t often fully enjoy or otherwise appreciate the aftermath of an experience. But, I wouldn’t say that the explanation is “on to the next!” It can take a week, a month, a year, or more sometimes to really enjoy an experience on all of the possible levels, and to discover learnings and share insights at all. For instance, GO Brooklyn was this weekend, and they already want me to nominate artists! I saw 23 (fabulous!) artists just in my small 8 block radius in Prospect Heights; to vote for 3 of them ‘correctly’ would really require more thought than I can give right now. I need to sit with the images, sculptures, and evolutions that I saw and let their intent and evoked emotions percolate. There’s not enough time to process the experience.
We need processing time. Whether it’s for responding to an email from a college buddy or seeing a museum exhibit or a death of a loved one or entering into a relationship, thinking through each of these before, during, and after is essential. Without processing, our initial, involuntary gut feeling or reaction is all we have. Sure, snap judgement is fun sometimes, but being wrong or missing out or ignoring something very cool is sure to happen more often than when we get past that initial thought.
We don’t have processing time because it’s indeterminate. There are no specific time parameters (that is, we can’t budget exactly 1 hour each), but time is of course required for any amount of thought. And everything eats away at our time; we live in a society of sensory overload, where even something like skimming the morning NY Times headlines or going to Starbucks for a coffee are distracting. Rare is the day that all thoughts and attention can be focused on one thing, and that can become stressful. (That’s part of what certain forms of meditation seek to conquer.) Processing happens intermittently and best when unplanned, so that’s why we don’t necessarily have that time budgeted.
We have to process, even if it’s a little bit forced. Have a place to write reactions or notions about experiences, and go back to it periodically. Add to them, change them, connect them to other notes about other experiences. (For me, this blog and notes in my phone are my processing hubs.) Find a buddy who either shares a given experience with you or who has participated in a similar experience, and have a conversation about it. (Bonus if you don’t always agree on everything!) Keep a calendar with experiences both planned and unplanned and look over it at the end of each month. See what’s still resonant. Let your mind wander sometimes and see where it goes; does it link back to a recent experience?
This post is me processing a thought process about the cool stuff I think I’ve been up to without knowing how cool they actually are.
This is such an awesome and simple toolkit for how to break down walls with neighbors and enjoy in a delightful BBQ together. This (well-shot) video breaks down the concept:
The website has more information including a template invitation, delicious recipes, and tips.
Even though it looks very suburb-y (read: yard-based), it’s city adaptable, too. Grill in the park or do a traveling dinner through an apartment building!
I posted about this last year, and I’m posting this as a reminder again. In a conversation with my mom yesterday, she said 15 people from Lake of Isles golf course were sent to the hospital after being struck by lightning this week. It happens. Be safe. Read more about how.
Really fun(ny) and surprisingly informative educational tool on how to be fashionable with a scarf.
It’s my newest class at the Brooklyn Brainery, so sign up before it sells out and share liberally! Stay tuned for more useful classes to come soon, too. And, feel free to request a class that you’d like me to teach; I’m all ears.
Inspired by the rain outside and the severe ankle jab I received on the subway from a golf umbrella this morning, I present to you my tips for proper umbrella use.
- Hold the umbrella upright and tightly. The handle should be fairly perpendicular to the ground and centered on your body. This achieves maximum dryness for you and minimum water runoff onto other people. Of course, you may need to adjust for wind, but try to maintain a smart posture.
- Do not text and hold an umbrella. Do not drink coffee and hold an umbrella. Do not hail a cab with your umbrella. Just use your umbrella to stay dry.
- Close the umbrella before walking inside or down into the subway. If you don’t, you block the door and make it more difficult for others to pass. To close your umbrella properly, pull off to the side of the sidewalk (out of the way) and close as expediently as possible. Do not shake it out. Tie up your umbrella with whatever closure is attached to it or a rubber band if necessary. If you have a bag in which to place your umbrella, do so, and people will think you’re classy.
- Avoid sudden movements. When you stop short or wheel around suddenly, several things happen: water flies, people get spoked, and you anger people (especially those without umbrellas). You already have this luxury of staying dry, so make a point to not indulge in this luxury at the expense of someone else.
- Be conscious of the space your umbrella takes up. Open, leave enough space between you and others, even if it means slowing your pace to let others coexist comfortably. Closed, your new walking stick or swing-around-item can still very much get in the way, so hold it steady and pointed, again, downward so that it is perpendicular to the floor. If it is dripping and must drip on someone, deal with it dripping on you rather than letting the stranger next to you suffer. It was your choice to use an umbrella; this is one of the consequences.
- Rain or no rain, do not walk on the sidewalk next to your entire group. In the rain, be especially conscious not to walk next to more than one person maximum, because it is even harder for people to pass. Plus, there are often puddles that everyone tries to avoid, and if your group is spanning the entire sidewalk, nobody can appropriately handle that obstacle.
- If it is incredibly windy and rainy, forgo the umbrella. Get a little wet. Or, stay inside. Too many people fight with their umbrellas, and as a result, foot traffic blockages and flying umbrella parts are ubiquitous. This is an unpopular opinion, but the correct one, I think.
- A broken umbrella has no place in a city. It is sharp and dangerous. Dispose of it immediately and buy a new one which thankfully, you can do easily in a city.
- If you do realize that you’ve committed an umbrella sin, and it’s possible to apologize to the person(s) impacted, do so.
- Etiquette begins from the moment of purchase. Do not buy an umbrella that is bigger than you. It’s fine to pick between tall ones or the tiny collapsible ones (preferable), but it should be the right size for one and only one body. No golf umbrellas, or anything even close. Sharing an umbrella makes both people wet anyway, so if chivalry is important to you, carry two umbrellas or just give yours up. Also, try to get an umbrella that looks somewhat stable. It doesn’t have to be top of line, because you’ll leave it somewhere on accident still, but it shouldn’t break in the first 15 minutes of use either.
- Drop the attitude. It’s never positive to walk by people who are grumpy anyway, but if you have an umbrella and you’re angry, your umbrella shows it. It droops, it assaults, it gets all bent of shape. You forget the rules and don’t even apologize when you’ve made a mistake and bothered a fellow pedestrian. Not good. Figure out a way to enjoy the rain, at least temporarily, and move on.
Think I missed something? Leave your tips as a comment.
Interview with Liz Haag, Lipstick Reader
I met Liz Haag through the improv comedy world, and now know her to be a woman of many talents, including lipstick reading. I interviewed her about this unique skill to learn more:
Jen Bokoff: I’ve heard of lip reading (tough enough!), but how does one become a lipstick reader?
Liz Haag: It’s a good question. When I was just out of college and studying acting, I got a job hand painting temporary tattoos and henna tattoos at parties, like kids at Bar Mitzvahs and stuff. It was a great job. I loved to draw, got to go to fun events, and meet interesting people every weekend. My boss told me that she liked me and would hire me more if I could learn to do the psychic stuff, like lipstick reading, palm reading, and hand writing analysis. So, I learned. I studied a bit on my own, and they trained me some more. It turned out I had a real knack and intuition for lipstick reading that really caught on with clients.
JB: What are some traits or circumstances you can discover about a person through their lipstick?
LH: Lipstick Reading is derived from the ancient art of Chinese Face Reading. The lips only tell part of the story but it tends to be a juicy part. That’s why it’s so great for parties.
JB: At the risk of exposing myself too much, I put my lipstick print on paper (see left). I tried multiple times to “get it right”, and realized that each try looks very different. Do you have a suggested technique for getting the perfect print?
LH: People usually want to “kiss” the page. But I usually tell them not to pucker. Actually, it helps if they stay still and I blot the paper on their lips for them. And don’t worry about exposing too much. I always keep it light. No one wants bad news at a bachelorette party.
JB: Interesting! Can you give me a teaser about what we can learn about me from my lipstick?
LH: Let’s see. First of all, right off the bat it’s clear you’re talkative. This is usually one of the first things I can tell about a person based on their lips. It also says you’re a bit sensitive, but can be tough too. You’re very excitable, you like to try new things, and have a need to express yourself. How’d I do? [Editor’s Note: WOW! Yes. That’s me!]
JB: What is one of the more memorable lipsticks you’ve read?
LH: There was a woman whose reading said she was intuitive and very giving. She dragged her husband over to have me tell him, so she could prove he was wrong about an argument they had earlier that day. It was a little intense.
Liz is available for hire for parties through her company Bash Party Entertainment for lipreading and other event services. Start off the process with a complementary consultation today. I honestly can’t think of a more uniquely fun twist to a party!
Skills: Win at Rock-paper-scissors
According to Graham Walker, coauthor of The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide, here’s how to win:
1. Play paper first. Rookies tend to lead with rock, so paper is the safest opener. If you win, claim victory; if not, start the next throw right away, because of course it’s two out of three.
2. Exploit copycats. Casual players often switch to the object that just beat them. You can encourage them to do this by shouting, “Paper wins!” when you defeat their rock. Then throw scissors on the next round.
3. Watch for doubles. People rarely throw the same hand three times in a row; if they play scissors twice, your next move is paper. Also, keep up the pace so they have less time to think and instead fall into patterns.
(via the monthly LifeLabs email)
Interview with Shelly Huang: DIY Bride
When a friend requested that I pick up subway maps, for his friend who is soon to be married, I was intrigued. I love anything with a DIY touch, and Shelly Huang’s idea for her wedding makes me smile. I talked with her to learn more:
Jen Bokoff: Your idea of making 1000 paper cranes out of NYC Subway maps for wedding decorations is amazing. Where did it come from?
Shelly Huang: Our wedding theme is “Rustic City Love”, combining natural rustic elements that represents our laid-back style with our love for NYC, the wonderful city we fell in love in and now call home. The idea of 1000 paper cranes is a Japanese tradition that grants the bride & groom 1000 years of happiness, much like the cranes who mate for life and are said to live for 1000 years. I’ve always been deeply moved by this tradition and wanted to incorporate it into my wedding but for the longest time, I couldn’t find the linkage to the “city” part of the theme. Then one day I was riding the F train when I noticed a group of Japanese tourists intently studying a subway map. That’s when it hit me - I would combine my wishes for my marriage along with my love for NYC in these subway map cranes!
JB: Are you going to make all 1000 cranes, or will you have help? And will they all look the same?
SH: Many of our family and friends have already offered to help collect maps and fold cranes! I’m so excited because it would be such a dream to be married under a canopy of cranes embodying the blessings and wishes of all your loved ones! We’re going to hold a paper crane folding party at one point with white wine and funny wedding movies. We’ll probably have to give people tutorials, but I’m not really interested in getting “perfect-looking” cranes so much as cranes folded with love.
JB: What will you do with all of the cranes after the wedding?
SH: That’s a good question! I really hadn’t thought that far, but maybe I’ll pass on the blessings and wishes to another bride. Or maybe the MTA might be interested in getting their subway maps back and would like to display these in the MTA museum! I guess I’ll cross that bridge after the wedding.
JB: Being a crafty bride is wonderfully ambitious! Do you regularly delve into creative projects?
SH: Both my mother and grandmother were very crafty ladies. My grandma custom designed outfits for my barbies and my mother used to make me funky outfits with matching scrunchies and because of them, I’ve inherited a penchant for tinkering with DIY projects here and there. I’ve made many Halloween outfits, and I recently created a “will you be my bridesmaid” project with a hollowed out secret book filled with photos, color inspiration from paint chips, and paper dolls with the bridesmaids’ names on them.
JB: A little birdie told me you need some help. What can New Yorkers do to help see your wedding dream come to fruition?
SH: Well, my fiance told me to ask for donations so we can see our (not-so-cheap) NYC wedding come to fruition! But seriously, I think it would be amazing if people wanted to contribute to the cause of collecting subway maps, or even if you want to fold your wishes into subway map cranes and send them over! Also, if any crafty brides want to bounce off ideas, I’m always excited to make new friends!
If you live in the NYC area and can help contribute maps, or if you want to connect with Shelly, shoot her an email. Shelly will marry Brian Blitz on June 22, 2013 at The Foundry in Long Island City.