Thursday, May 15, 2008

Park(ing) Day

Awesome! Definitely San Francisco is home of the most creative ideas ever!



This year it will be on September 19. Anyone interested?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Masters

Even when I feel really happy to have the opportunity to study in Japan with a scholarship, Japanese education is based on a very simplistic way of seeing things (at least in public universities) and they divide studies into 理系 (sciences) or 文系 (humanities), and then environmental design somehow stays in between, not really fitting into one or the other, specially a profession like Landscape Architecture. After thinking a lot about this, I have considered that instead of continuing studying LA here in Japan with my scholarship, it would be better for me to study something more scientific so to speak, and then go back to design. Which is why I have almost make up my mind about applying for the Master of Sustainability Sciences in Tokyo University.
Then, as always, I like to dream about the future, so I was just checking out Master programs in Landscape Architecture around the world, (I think I have been doing this since even before I started university :p) and here are some of the options...

CANADA
University of Guelph (I actually applied to the BLA there when I was at high school, but they told me I needed one year of university studies in Colombia since we only study 11 years at uni... but I have always really like this uni for some reason)
University of British Columbia (I love Vancouver, and it looks like an interesting program being under the School of Architecture + LA)

NZ
Lincoln University (Just because I want to go to NZ someday :P plus I find it really interesting how they always have Maori studies over there)

EUROPE
Wageningen University (Netherlands - Just studying in Europe is great reason enough... and it seems to be a very good program)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (I really like the program description, and after working in IKEA my interest in this otherwise cold, up in the north, expensive country grew)
Anhalt University of Applied Sciences (Germany - but I dont need to learn German before, though I would like to!)

UK & USA -> I guess I am still avoiding the USA as a place to study or live, and for some reason I also lost my interest in UK recently... no personal feelings!
I may still consider UC-Berkeley just because there is lots of hippies around. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Green 186+

I just started a new "academic" blog, to post stuff about Landscape Architecture, Ecovillages, Sustainability, and anything I found related to my studies...
That way I will have a small file of info to look at, and it will probably help me keep info organized for my thesis, research, etc...
I am kind of sleepy now, so not being able to think about a better name, just called it green 186+, pretty typical, but hey! green will always be cool!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

IKEA Commercials~



I was just checking out some IKEA commercials, and then I found quite a few funny ones so I thought I'd share the laughs with everyone~

I wonder if people actually can get this one...


It is quite interesting how googleing around I once again realized how closed American society (and I guess here I include Latin America as well, and just leave our dear Canadians and Californians outside) is to LGBT issues and "non-traditional" families... specially compared to Europeans.


Its just like MIKA says about his song "Billy Brown" in this video...

Immigration...

I was planning to assist to the Ecocity World Summit taking place in San Francisco next week, and had already pay the registration, the air-ticket, and even made plans to meet other friends, fellow CSers etc... and was so looking forward to it. But!

The Japanese government for some weird reason only gives out student visas that last 2 years, so every 2 years we have to renovate it (as we all in Japan now), plus it is a visa just to stay in the country, so if we want to go out of Japan, we need to get a reentry permit otherwise we cannot come back in. 2 years ago it took less than 2 weeks to renovate the visa, so I figured out if I applied at the end of March by this time (3 weeks later) I should have already got my new visa, and I would just have to go and get the reentry permit and would be ready to go...

but I missed (yeap it was my fault) the fact that since the school year starts in April most people apply for the renovation in March so its the most busy time of the year. Now, that was ok, since yeap I guess it was my fault, but what really really pissed me off, was the fact that when I called to ask if there was something I could do about it (since in the end this summit is something directly related to my studies), the guy actually just told me in a very ironic way: if you really want to go then you can quit school, get a tourist visa, then get a reentry permit, and when you come back you can apply for a student visa again, but probably that will be too troublesome, right? what the f*ck!? yeah, it sounds like a great idea to quit school just because of your stupid paper work. I wouldn't be so pissed off he had just say, sorry there is nothing you can do. I really had to control myself, keep quiet and breath deeply before saying "wakarimashita, arigatougouzaimashita" instead of "what the %&#%%"&'&%#$(&'&&%#$%*>%%$
#" to him.

But anyway, shit happens. And in the end, now I have more time to finish some work that was driving me crazy, can see my friend Flavia more before she goes back, see other friends, and go the CSing gathering in Chigasaki next weekend, as well as the earth day events this weekend here in Tokyo and probably meet people I haven't met for a while, so well, I just want to forget about it anyhow.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Summer is here...


...here in IKEA. :p

Today I finished my induction training at IKEA which lasted for two days and a half, most of the time just sitting watching powerpoint presentations about IKEA's history, way, structure, different departments, safety & security and so on. Sitting watching the screen was pretty tiring, but it was quite interesting as well, touring the whole store, getting to understand how it all works, and having the chance to meet lots of people (we had the training together with people from different departments, different stores (there will be 3 new stores in Japan this year), and both part and full time workers).

I had already worked for about 2 weeks (5 times) before the training, so it helped me understand much better what I had learned from my coworkers during those days, and specially it gave me a much clearer idea of what the IKEA way and culture is. Which I have to say I really really like.

When I started working I spent lots of time googling about IKEA, because I wanted to be sure I was not working for somekind of Swedish Walmart (sorry but I am sure I am not the only one that have ever consider IKEA like that... just look at that huge building! and those prices), but I was happy not to find anything bad, and to realize low prices do not mean less worker benefits, environmental destruction and so on.

In fact, they seem to be trying to improve constantly in a lots of ways, and after working there for a few days I am sure that at least the IKEA stores are a great place to work. Specially here in Japan! Until now I had all but considered even the idea of working here in Japan (the whole image of the "japanese salary-man" was enough for me) or even at big company anywhere, and I just wanted to work part time in IKEA because I like their products and its not so far from my place, but working there for just a few days has really open my eyes to new possibilities and opportunities, which I will have to think about more...

Monday, March 10, 2008

四年生

I am at my university studio now and I was just speaking with a friend who is entering the same lab as I will be entering, and it seems to be that we will be pretty much free until May... I was expecting my last year at uni to be pretty free but having heard so much about how some Japanese teachers make you be at the lab even when there is nothing to do I didnt really know what to expect. Now on the other hand not hearing anything at all about what we are supposed to do next year (starting in April) is making me a little bit confused...

Anyway, I am pretty much sure about what I want to research for my thesis, so I guess I just need to talk directly to my teacher about it, and then just do all the research and study by my own, on my own timing, which is just the way I like to do it :) Then I have to see if I can actually do a thesis project about Leticia (a city in the Colombian Amazon), which I would really love to do, but being Colombia so far it may be difficult to find all the necessary information and so on. On the other hand, I am really looking forward for the Ecocity World Summit in San Francisco at the end of April, where I am sure I will learn lots of things, meet wonderful people, and be even more motivated to do my research and project, and who knows if I find some idea that attracts me even more.

Being free then also means that I will have free time to play around, meet friends, and then of course work because otherwise I cannot play around so much :p (oh! and I cant forget to study for the master's entry test... :s haha)

So, today I started one part-time job at a community design office in Tokyo, which means doing all the hand work and computer work left, but its actually a really good way of seeing how such a company works and I actually like cutting stuff and working with photoshop and illustrator (otherwise I wouldnt be able to study design I guess :p) so its all good~
Plus today I also went for a job interview at IKEA, and so if all goes well I will be working at IKEA as well, playing around with nice furniture and stuff~ (<= that's my idea about work haha)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Moving Down

This weekend I am moving out, or well, in fact, I am just moving downstairs to another room in the same building. So before everyone asks me why I move out to the same place, I thought I'd write about it.

I have been living here for already almost 2 years, I just knew this was the place I wanted to live in when I enter the room and saw the high roof and the window up there that made the room look much more open and clear. Plus the fact that it had a loft (I used to sleep in lofts all the time when I was living in Bucaramanga, and even in Bogota I used to sleep in the upper bed of the bunk bed I used to share with my big brother) and it cost only ¥37000 a month made me choose this place even when it wasn't so close to university (its still only 15 minutes by bike, but of all my classmates who go to university walking or by bike, I am the one who lives the farthest).

Anyway, this semester has been really stressful, with the design studio project, and being so busy working in it, staying at university all night, and so on, my room was getting really messy all the time, and I was getting tired of coming back from uni late at night (or early in the morning should I say). So I just felt like I needed to move out, to just refresh and start again. Its what Japanese call 「気分転換」, or something like starting a new life. Most Japanese will probably just buy a new cellphone when they want to start a new life, but that wouldn't work for me (in fact I have already lose my cellphone twice...), so I just decided I would move out.

First I was looking at rooms near my uni and Matsudo station, and I found one that I thought I liked (those guys at the Agency know how to convince you!), so I fill out the form to reserve the room, and canceled by contract in the room I was (am) living. But after a weekend with more time to think about it, I just realized how much I like this place, and specially how used I am to this neighborhood...

The two indian restaurants with nice and good priced Dal and Vegetable Curry and friendly staff, the small natural bakery that uses 国産小麦 (flour produced in Japan) , its delicious bread (they even have Vegetable Curry Bread!) and where they already know I am vegan and always tell me if a new bread has milk or egg in it, the 2 八百屋 (vegetable stores) where I can buy cheap vegetables and fruits and smile with the 元気 old ladies shouting around, the 手打ちそば restaurant in a very nice traditional house (which I have only been twice to, but I just like to see it on my way back), the nice bar in the corner of the station with the surfing boards and the palm in the entrance (which I have never been to, but I always say I have to go to when someone visits me), the big nice park 25 minutes walking from here where I used to go whenever I had a free day (now I am becoming Japanese and I carry a schedule with me all the time, so not so many free days lately) and so on...

So I just felt really 懐かしい about it, and I figured out it was better just to stay in the same room. But when I went to talk with the agency, they told me they had already rent it to someone else from March... So I asked if they had another room available in the same building, and that's how and why I am moving down. And even the price goes down (well just ¥1000) but that's good. And well the high roof also goes down, but since this room is in one of the corners
I get a really nice window on one of the side walls. So all in all I am happy with the moving out (or down)!

Come and visit me sometime soon~ :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Un poco de Gandhi para Colombia

Bueno en estos dias he estado leyendo "The Essential Gandhi. An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas", y hubo un capitulo ("Gandhi's road to jail") que de alguna manera me hizo pensar en la situacion actual de Colombia.
Si, claro que Colombia es un pais ya "independizado", pero definitivamente no es libre, al igual que muchos paises (por no decir casi todos).
Pero no dire mas, y por ahora los invito a leer y sacar sus propias conclusiones...

*****

"...For me patriotism is the same as humanity. I am patriotic because I am human and humane. It is not exclusive."

"...If India makes violence her creed and I have survived I would not care to live in India. She will cease to evoke any pride in me..."
"...If I can have nothing to do with the organized violence of the Government I can have less to do with the unorganized violence of the people"
(y aqui tengo que decir que la violencia empieza por los pensamientos, sigue con las palabras y en ultimas se convierte en accion)

"Firstly, we must acquire greater mastery over ourselves and secure and atmosphere of perfect calm, peace and good will."
"Secondly, we must still further cleanse our hearts, and we Hindus and Moslems must cease to suspect one another's motives."
"Thirdly, we Hindus must call no one unclean or mean or inferior to ourselves."

"Parties may fall and parties may rise; if we are to attain freedom our deep convictions must remain unaffected by such passing changes."
"...We must not resort to social boycott of our opponents"
"The rule of majority, when it becomes coercive is as intolerable as that of a bureaucratic minority."

"Our motto must ever be conversion by gentle persuasion and a constant appeal to the head and heart."

"There is not yet in India that truthful and non-violent atmosphere which and which alone can justify mass disobedience, which can be described as civil which means gentle, truthful, humble, knowing, willful yet loving yet never criminal and hateful"

"Non-violent attainment of self-government presupposes a non-violent control over the violent elements in the country."

"Our capacity for Swaraj (Self-Rule) will be proved by our ability to conduct our activities in spite of the withdrawal even of the originator of the current program"

"It would be a thousand times better for us to be ruled by a military dictator than to have the dictatorship concealed under sham councils and assemblies. (...) There is no such thing as slow freedom. Freedom is like a birth. Till we are fully free we are slaves."

*****

Y ahora si lo digo...
que triste ver como un pais ha terminado por caer en la misma violencia que tanto quiere rechazar, y ha sido polarizado tanto que ni siquiera nos podemos unir por una causa tan simple y noble como lo es la libertad, la paz y la no-violencia, sin estar hablando mal unos de otros.
Lamentablemente Colombia y la mayoria de los Colombianos no estamos listos para pedir y exigir paz.
Y mucho menos si seguimos insistiendo en juzgar a un sector sin mirar y aceptar nuestros propios errores.


"Peace.
It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble,
or hard work. It means to be in
the midst of those things and still
be calm in your heart."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why not 9?

"ARTICLE 9.
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
(2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."



The "Global Article 9 Conference" will be held in Tokyo, Japan, in May 2008. This conference will bring together the voices of the world supporting the existence and principle of Article 9. It will bring together Nobel Peace Laureates, intellectuals, cultural figures and NGO activists, and provide a forum to discuss what the citizens of the world can do to realize the principle of Article 9, through promoting disarmament, demilitarization and a culture of peace. It will aspire to create an international movement for realization of "peace without force." The holding of such a conference will be a concrete step in materializing the aim confirmed at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in 1999; "Every Parliament should adopt a resolution prohibiting their government from going to war, like the Japanese article number nine. "The endorsement of Article 9 in the World Peace Forum's final statement, "Vancouver Appeal for Peace 2006: Make Peace" has also greatly encouraged our campaign, supporting our ambition to stage a large scale international conference revolving around Article 9.

If you haven't, VOICE YOUR SUPPORT for Article 9!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Avaaz.org - Stop the Clash of Civilizations

2008... will it actually bring some change?

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you had a great time during the holydays, had a good rest, and are ready for enjoying and making the best of this new year.

This year brings with a really big hope for change for the world because we cant deny the influence the USA president has over so many issues: the environment, economy, human rights, security, terrorism, culture clashes, and so on...

I was quite happy to hear Obama won the Iowa caucus, and is probably winning the NH primary, most probably becoming the nominate for the democratic party, and hopefully president, since well he seems to be able to bring some change to the USA government.
But then I came accross this video of the New Hampshire debate, where the first question is about.... you guess... war, terrorism, Osama bin Laden, and military action.
I dont care how hypothetical the situation is, or how certain your intelligence service is about Osama bin Laden's hide-away. STOP talking about the possibility of yet another military invasion by the USA government on a foreign country!!!
I mean how bad is the hunger for war in the USA politics (or economy/corporartions to make it more clear), that they seem not to be able to stop thinking about military action for one second!?!?
Do they really think that if they kill Osama bin Laden the terrorist threats to the USA will finish? Really, why cant these people get it?

I really thought (and still think) Obama becoming president would be a whole much better than another republican, or for that matter, better than Hillary (and probably Edwards -dont really know much about him). But I guess none of them would really bring the deep changes that the whole world needs and is looking for in the USA government.

And it seems to be that the only candidate out there that actually makes some sense, Dennis Kucinich with his "Strength Through Peace" message, is simply unelectable for the press (and corporate America). But really, I am sure I am not the only one who would love to see one-day an environmentalist, pacifist and, on top of that, vegan person leading a country (specially the USA), am I? Is that so "hippie" to even accept that its definitely better than people who would start yet another invasion just for fear?