Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Strange Search Engine Terms

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Occasionally I’ll take a look at the search engine terms (what people input into say, a Google search bar) that first-time visitors use to find my site, producing a range of informative to downright confusing views into the intents of readers. These search phrases can be as puzzling as floccinaucinihilipilification photographers or how to have a story for every occasion (I certainly don’t).

Google - I'm Feeling Lucky

Plenty of people looking for cool maps or charts, and travel-related searches are common as well: mind map for london; time value of money chart; garbage manila bay; how to buy standing room tickets on ktxmap of states that florida’s coastline runs through (?). 

And many references to Modernist literature, and the “aesthetics of ___ ” searches abound.

Then there are the accidentally poetic: turn a factory into a home; prison money card; young buddhist let go.

If you have a WordPress blog, you can find these search engine terms – the most recent and the most frequently used – in the Stats area of your blog dashboard.

Written by Crystal Bae

February 8th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Posted in etc.,Internet,oddities

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Flying to Korea

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I leave for Korea this Thursday! My brother and I are taking a trip to South Korea for a few weeks, and my boyfriend will join us for part of the trip as well.

South Korea map via Google MapsOur plan is to go first to Busan by train. We’re spending a little time on Haundae beach, letting the 13-hour time difference catch up with us. Busan is on the southern coast and the urban primacy of Seoul is notable – though Busan is the 2nd-largest metropolitan area, its population is only about a third of Seoul’s population. Over 20% of South Korea’s more than 48 million people resides in Seoul. To contrast, the NYC metro area is home to just over 6% of the USA’s population.

We’ll make a quick stop in Daegu, meet up with a friend of a friend who is teaching there, then head all the way north to Seoul. While in Seoul, we’re going to make a day trip to hike Seoraksan mountain. Korea is known for its gorgeous (and plentiful) mountains, and Koreans love to hike. I’ve heard that Korean is 75% mountain, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. It’s a very social pasttime, often done in groups and followed with plenty of consumption of makkoli (a milky Korean rice wine) afterwards. My grandmother and my mother both used to spend a lot of time hiking with friends when they lived in Korea. Hiking is always fun, and even better in a completely new setting.

Besides hiking, we’ll of course do some sightseeing, museum-hopping, and shopping. We’ll eat tons of delicious Korean food – but probably not any live octopus, unless we gain some foodie fortitude points there. :) When my boyfriend joins us in Korea, we’re staying in a hanok (traditional Korean house) for 2 nights so he can get a feel for old Korean-style living, even amidst the modern bustle of Seoul. It’s his first time in South Korea. My brother and I have been once before – we took a family trip in 2006 to Seoul and Jeju island, but most of our time was spent visiting family, which was exhausting.

On our list of things to do around Seoul:

  • Temples, at least Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces, and more if we have extra time and energy
  • Korean bathhouses/saunas (jjimjilbang)
  • Karaoke, cheap drinking, street food… What combination could be more Korean?
  • Seodaemun Prison
  • Bike along the Han River, maybe a river cruise
  • Noryangjin fish market
  • Performances such as Nanta
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Park, designed by Zaha Hadid

KakaoTalk - Mobile messenger app for Android, iPhone, iPod TouchUseful tip:

KakaoTalk is the best way to keep in touch with people in Korea! My brother turned me onto this a couple days ago. KakaoTalk is an app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android phones that allows you to communicate lightning-fast with one or multiple friends at a time.

It uses your normal data plan or a wifi network if it’s available (and I’m told Seoul even has wifi in its subways).

Add your own suggestions in the comments! My next blog post will be direct from South Korea, the country that clocks probably the fastest Internet speeds in the entire world.

Written by Crystal Bae

June 7th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Everyday Lessons Learned: May 2011, Week 4

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These summary posts of “one thing I learned each day” will be on hiatus during the month of June because I’ll be going on a trip to South Korea, but they’ll resume in July. I’m being realistic about my blogging during that time because I won’t be on a regular schedule in Korea. I’ll try to get online to post to this blog at least a few times, though!

Here’s a day-by-day list of some things I learned the last week of May 2011.

My bike outside the Hirshhorn Museum in 200723: A bicyclist’s rolling stop at a stop sign is known as an Idaho Stop, named for the law passed by Idaho in 1982 that allows cyclists to treat the “Stop” as a “Yield” sign. The law is explained clearly in this animation here: “Get an animated lesson in bikes, stop signs, and the Idaho Stop Law

24: DC has the highest per capita wine consumption in the U.S. Anyone surprised? When I worked at Trader Joe’s, it wasn’t uncommon to have some customers buying a case of wine (12 bottles of wine) or more every couple of weeks.

25: Multiple types of fruit branches can be grafted onto the same tree root stock, allowing one tree to have (for example) branches growing oranges, lemons and limes.

26: Storing your music in the cloud is just better. Hello, Google Music beta invite.

More exciting news: DC’s Capital Bikeshare program is currently largest in the nation with over 1,000 bikes and over 100 stations around the city. NYC’s got a program slated for spring of 2012 – and their bikeshare calls for 10,000 bicycles, which is about as many bikes as Paris’s Velib’ system had when it first launched in 2007 (Velib’ now has double that: more than 20,000 bikes! lots of sharing!). Obviously, DC is a fraction of the size of NYC or Paris, but it’s still got a promising amount of Bikeshare station coverage already. And stats show that the Velib’ program managed to reduce traffic in Paris by 5% in the first year! (Source)

27: Identical twins, although they share nearly identical DNA (they have variations in their copy numbers), have different fingerprints because fingerprinting is a part of one’s phenotype, the observable expression of a gene, which differs based on environmental characteristics in the uterus during development.

28: The doctor in the sci-fi television show Doctor Who has changed several times throughout the show’s long-running history. The modern Doctor Who show is a reiteration of the 1963-1989 series. It’s a great show, and the episodes can be so different from one another that it’s hard to believe it’s the same TV show.

I admit I wasn’t interested in it at first… the episode “The Beast Below” was the turning point for me. Now I really like it.

29: The Washington metropolitan area has the 2nd-largest concentration of Mormons outside of Utah. It’s estimated that the Mormon population in this area is 50,000 to 60,000, with most living in Northern Virginia. (Source)

30: Seersucker is a light cotton fabric that is appropriate to wear in the spring and summer, traditionally between Memorial Day and Labor Day. DC’s Dandies and Quaintrelles (the same group that organizes the Tweed Ride) is organizing a Seersucker Social this Saturday, June 4th.

31: Tired all day. I’ll just post a recipe from tonight’s dinner: Chickpea Marinara over Couscous. Tasty, simple, vegetarian.

Written by Crystal Bae

May 31st, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Everyday Lessons Learned: April 2011, Week 2

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09: Seed bombing is about spreading seeds in inaccessible or otherwise unreachable areas through a variety of methods, which you can read more about here. Employ at your own discretion. :)

10: Followed continuing politics in the Ivory Coast. Laurent Gbagbo, who was president of the Ivory Coast for a decade and democratically voted out of power in a November 2010 election against opponent Alassane Ouattara, was holed up in a bunker and refused to step aside, causing forces on either side to resort to bloodshed… with severe consequences to citizens in these areas, as there were many civilian casualties from the bombing, the rapes, and the village-burning.

11: Did my taxes. Not too much else other than work and taxes.

12: The Rashomon effect describes the situation in which a group of people come together but the individuals leave with different perceptions of what has passed (which are, in a sense, all “true”). In Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon, several versions of an afternoon’s events are recounted as they were experienced by these individual subjectivities – yet reality can, and often is, broken up into single truths that can’t quite be repaired into a coherent whole.

13: Certain cities – including LA, DC, Sausolito (California), and SLC – have implemented some combination of low-power sensor systems in the road or special ‘smart’ meters which can communicate which parking spots are open, take NFC payments, alert traffic police about violations, or even help drivers find where there’s open parking using smartphone apps. One example of a company who runs this kind of technology is Streetline.

DC Metro - Dupont Circle

14: DC’s Metrorail system opened for operation on March 27, 1976. Then, it consisted of 5 stops along the Red line: Farragut North, Metro Center, Judiciary Square, Union Station, and Rhode Island Ave. The planning stage for the Metro started much earlier, however – in the 1950s. Construction began in 1969. See an animated history of DC’s Metro system on Greater Greater Washingtonhttp://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/9831/happy-birthday-metro/ It’s come quite a long way!

15: camelCase uses median capitals to join multiple words together, and although it feels a little outmoded, it’s still very much alive. Example include: iPhone, WordPress, PayPal.

History of gender-specific colors in America, or why baby girls are expected to be dressed in pink and boys in blue: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html (Not what you might expect!)

16: Crocodiles have some of the most sophisticated hearts in the animal kingdom, four-chambered hearts well adapted for their survival. For example, there’s a valve in the heart that blocks off the pulmonary system (which pumps blood to the lungs, the system they don’t need operating underwater) as the croc dives into the water, allowing them to be more active for longer periods of time in the water as their energy is better spent on systemic circulation of blood. There’s a pretty cool documentary by National Geographic called ‘Ultimate Crocodile’ which goes into a lot of the specifics of crocodilian anatomy.

Written by Crystal Bae

April 17th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Everyday Lessons Learned: March 2011, Week 3

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You learn something new everyday. This continues, deep into month three. How long does it take to get into the rhythm of doing something every single day? Does it take the full year? I’m enjoying myself and remembering more, at least. :)

15: The George Mason University Economics department is very active online. I’m not an economist or anywhere close to it, but it’s always neat to find academics involved in online communities. Many George Mason econ professors are actively blogging:

16: Involuntary muscle spasms are known as myoclonic jerks, and those that specifically occur as you’re falling asleep (when you spasm as you drift off, like you’re falling through) are known as hypnic jerks. Thanks to my first source for answering medical curiosity questions, my friend Bre.

17: Sous-vide is a French cooking technique in which food is placed in an plastic bag and all the air is sucked out of the bag before the food is submerged into a circulating water bath and cooked at a precise, controlled temperature. A steak cooked “medium rare” with this technique would be cooked to exactly 131 degrees Fahrenheit using water at that temperature – the steak would be put in as long as needed to make the temperature rise to 131 degrees. The coining of the term “molecular gastronomy” is often credited to the Hungarian-British physicist Nicholas Kurti, who posed this question in 1969: “Is it not quite amazing that today we know more about the temperature distribution in the atmosphere of the planet Venus than that in the center of our soufflé?” (Source: The New Yorker. If you’re still curious, here’s more reading on modernist cuisine.)

18: Really, you learn what you want to learn, although a lot of your learning is environmental. You can call it “osmosis” if you want, but really it’s keeping an ear open all the time. I’ve learned exactly where animal rennet (in cheesemaking) comes from – animal rennet (which will be marked as either “rennet” or simply “enzymes”) is harvested from the stomachs of slaughtered veal calves. There are other sources of rennet, though. If you are conscious not to support the veal industry, you should also be making sure any cheese you might buy is made with vegetarian rennet.

19: MRSA infections are actually a type of staph infection. Somewhat of an a-ha moment when we realized this. The MRSA you feared in high school locker rooms or shared dorm showers is called, in full, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. And that’s “a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.”

20: Ludacris has been to Florida Ave Grill. Along with a whole bunch of other musicians, actors, and famous or somewhat famous folks. They serve delicious pancakes.

21: The All Souls Exam is known as the “Hardest Exam Ever“. Take a look at some of the prompts. (For example: What are the deprivations of affluence?)

Often described as the hardest exam in the world, the test is given over two days in September to recent graduates of Oxford, with winners receiving an Examination Fellowship of seven years. Applicants take four examinations of three hours each, and in the two general subject tests must answer three questions from a list. No more than three fellowships are awarded in any year, and in some years none are given.

Written by Crystal Bae

March 22nd, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Everyday Lessons Learned: February 2011, Week 2

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08: Tribeca = Triangle below Canal Street. It’s the name of a neighborhood in NYC. I know that a bunch of the NYC neighborhoods have names that follow this portmanteau / (nick-) naming convention: SoHo, NoHo… but didn’t realize Tribeca was one too. And if you didn’t know, DC’s got a couple as well. Not as many as NYC though. Foggy Bottom becomes FoBo, Adams Morgan is AdMo, the neighborhood north of Mass Ave is NoMa, and I’ve even heard people call Columbia Heights “CoHi”.

09: Read an interesting piece in Design Observer on the New Orleans corner store. Different uses: “the New Orleans corner restaurant has always been, in more ways than one, an extension of the kitchen. New Orleanians did and do eat out much more frequently than the average American…” as well as different takes on space: “The break in floor height serves, simply and effectively, to distinguish the public from the private, without having to put space between them: a basic principle of New Orleans urbanism.”

10: Probably the basics of computer science, but learned the difference between string and boolean values.

11: Woah, so a friend tells me there’s a country called Transnistria, a small sliver of a state nestled between Moldova and Ukraine. This discussion came about from the idea that maybe it’d be a better setting for the film Hostel

12: Learned to cook an excellent eggplant rollatini. Eggplant and ricotta in the happiest, most fulfilling form they can imagine.

13: Discovered Cyprien Gaillard. See yesterday’s related post.

14: And because I’m been wrapped up cooking Valentine’s Day dinner tonight, for today’s “thing I learned” I’ll point you to this animated version of Stephen Pinker’s explanation of speech acts and intent. If you find it interesting, go on and read Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature – I read it a few years ago and found it worthwhile.

Written by Crystal Bae

February 14th, 2011 at 11:05 pm

University course blogs

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Skip this post if you believe school = boring.

Student: ideal occupation?
I am going to miss on-campus academic life when I graduate this May. Can’t deny that. Intense classroom discussion, lectures by experts in their field, free access to scholarly databases – what’s not to like? I haven’t had as many all-nighters in the library as many of my GWU peers, though the ones I’ve had were memorable for the coffee and snack breaks, run-ins with friends and classmates at 3am, watching the sun both rise and set over the span of a single research session… Plus, mad props to those small-sized literature classes I’ve had over the years, and my recent geography professors who have really inspired a focus in GIS.
And who knows, I may be back to school within a couple years to pursue graduate studies. Haha, OK, maybe it’s still a bit early to write a tearful goodbye to undergrad life.

I stumbled onto a few great class blogs recently and for the first time, I’m taking notice of the value of following university course blogs for continuing my studies. Graduating from student status doesn’t mean I have to completely leave the academic scene. It’s free, though you don’t always have access to all the external resources that are provided in class by the professor. (Purchasing course textbooks is optional, of course.) And some classes use the blog as an added discussion channel between students and the professor, not just a drop-box for assignments, meaning you can at least get a taste of the questions that arise. If you have a lot of time, you can try to keep pace with the class homework and readings.

Though you’re missing out on a bulk of the content, there are a fair number of these blogs that supplement course readings with useful online articles and other web references. It’s useful in that way that reading a newspaper exposes you to the information you’re not necessarily seeking, the outside contexts and contrasts that expand your understanding. And yes, the Internet is full of  so-called “experts” but if you want to learn, give credit to those who have experience teaching and years of background in a subject area. I’m starting a new section of my RSS reader for these kinds of blogs.

Finding them can be as simple as a running a search on WordPress or Google. Here are a couple geography examples that look active:

Written by Crystal Bae

February 21st, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Snow More Puns, Please

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When I think I’ve heard it all, more of these pop up. Collecting names for this winter’s recent snow storms:

  • snowmageddon: Used by President Obama, declared the winner by The Lousy Linguist blog… probably my fave as well. I mean, I think this is the first snow storm I’ve heard of that has its own t-shirts. What.]
  • snowpocalypse
  • snOMG
  • snowverkill / snoverkill
  • Snowtorious B.I.G.: I think this one finds its source in the Twitter cloud.
  • snomgasm: Very hard for me to pronounce. Trying too hard.
  • #snowdiculous: We Love DC’s declared Twitter hashtag for the past week’s total snowage.
  • “Snow freakin’ way!”: A common exclamation when one awakes and sees DC transformed into a wintry wonderland.
  • snowlapse: A time-lapse video of the snow storm. Will it catch on?

Am I missing any?

Also, don’t miss “10 Rules for Blizzard Living” – this’ll cheer you up if you’re stuck inside a too-small apartment with your roommates for another two days.

Written by Crystal Bae

February 9th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

New NatGeo website

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Earlier this month, National Geographic launched the layout of their new, more interactive website. It has city- and country- specific travel guides, as well as some games, quizzes, and larger photos (possibly taking a cue from the popular photojournalist microsites that feature big photos, like All Eyes and The Big Picture). It’s cool that NatGeo recognizes what web format offers for expanding the realm of print media. There are still a few sticky bits – the photo albums don’t always start up correctly, I’ve gotten some redirects to previous pages, and not all sections made the leap to the new format smoothly. Though as all things online, it’ll be a work in progress.

After some browsing, I got curious about what their travel guide to DC included. I was hoping for inspiration for when I’m showing visitors around. The photo sections are pretty, but predictably focus on the National Mall and its environs. Only one picture ventures as far into DC life as Dupont Circle. DC Must-Dos are pretty much the same. Nothing wrong with that, but it’d be cool to have an area where readers could chime in with their own suggestions. These pages don’t allow for comments, unfortunately.

I did learn a few things about our city, though. On the Washington DC Cultural Tips page, I learned the definition of a new word…

Wonk: A person obsessed with details and procedures of a topic; a thorough student of a field. Most often used in D.C. in the context of policy a policy wonk.

Written by Crystal Bae

January 31st, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Reading Bits, thoughts by Sam Anderson

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Extended observations on the state of our reading, by Sam Anderson:

“Bolaño’s relationship to narrative grew organically out of his many years as a poet, but it resonates nicely with our new habits of web-inflected incremental reading. We are increasingly fluent in (to quote 2666) “images with no handhold, images freighted with all the orphanhood in the world, fragments, fragments.”

Read more: Sam Anderson on When the Meganovel Shrank – The 00’s Issue — New York Magazine

This also reminds me that I intend to read some Bolaño this year. His books have been personally recommended enough times now for me to act. Persistence is key with a memory like mine, heh. Martin Amis is another author that has been suggested to me multiple times, so I’ll make time to read more of his work soon. My first read of the year, however, will be the short novels in Kenzaburō Ōe’s Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness (another recommendation from a friend).

End of 2009 reads were Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, David Benioff’s City of Thieves, and J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K. All three are quick, compelling reads.

I’d say 2009 was a good year for my blog – the first complete year of blogging, and I kept with it fairly well. I found that writing a blog is easy: it’s all about showing up. And I am sure that 2010 brings glad tidings. Bonne année, с новым годом, 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Written by Crystal Bae

January 1st, 2010 at 2:15 pm