Grand Designs on Netflix

Currently I’m geeking out on Grand Designs on Netflix. It evokes latent feelings of getting your hands dirty, sometimes literally, on designing your own space. As the synopsis suggests, “Host Kevin McCloud presents people who take self-building houses to a new level, following every step of their ambitious plans from beginning to end.” I may be late to the Grand Designs party and am partly disappointed that there are only two seasons on Netflix, I’m savoring every episode. I’m beginning to appreciate the United Kingdom countryside that’s reminiscent of Enid Blyton books from my childhood.

As any architect or even urban planner knows, the outcome is the easiest part but at the same time, the process is just as joyful and in fact more interesting. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Yosemite National Park

My family and I spent 4 wonderful days in Yosemite National Park in mid-July. Marred initially by a wildfire that filled the park with a smoky haze for the first couple of days, it cleared quickly revealing us the great natural beauty of the valley. We had a lovely time hiking several of its trails feasting our eyes on the wonderful vistas and being astounded by the sheer granite mountains and the deep valleys.

It also renewed my faith in the power of conservation of our natural resources and wilderness. National Parks are one of the best ideas that have come from America and I hope the powers to be continue to add to this promise. Continue reading “Yosemite National Park”

Maximizing Mental Agility

One of the advantages of working for a Tier 1 public university in the U.S. is the access to excellent (and inexpensive) professional development opportunities. I’ve been attending seminars offered by the Human Dimensions of Organizations program at UT Austin (I do four of the one-day seminars and I get a certificate. But even as stand-alone programs, they’re excellent.) I’m usually skeptical of any self-help seminars or talks but these are led by UT faculty from the Department of Cognitive Psychology and all material is backed by solid field-tested academic research. As an aside, check out the Two Guys on Your Head podcast on our local NPR station led by one of the HDO professors; its a fun and educational seven-minutes every week.)

Anyway, this post is mostly for my reference in transcribing and collating my handwritten (apparently handwritten notes are better for memory retention than ones taken on your laptop (I knew it!).) Behaviorally, since you can’t write as fast as the presenter talks, you try to summarize in your head first and write next whereas on your laptop, you’re basically transcribing)) notes from the latest seminar I attended, Maximizing Mental Agility led by Dr. Art Markman. So this may be long but here goes:

Continue reading “Maximizing Mental Agility”