Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Smiling, Gratitude and More: 11 Awesome and Inspiring TED Talks

This month, I've made a couple of posts about the TED talks I've been watching for a goal on The List:
062. Watch 100 TED/TEDx Talks
After only watching 30 between November 2014 and November 2017, I watched another 29 across two months!

Thanks to YouTube's suggested videos, it's very easy to fall into a TED talk-watching hole. Last time I logged on, I intended to watch 'just one or two' to pass some time.

Eleven videos later, I have this post for you: talks (mostly) on the psychology smiles and gratitude.

Why you should talk to strangers | Aliya Dossa | TEDxTerryTalks
Economics major Aliya Dossa discusses her project, '101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories', in which she aimed to talk to 101 strangers in as many days, and discover their stories. In this talk, she retells some of her experiences with this project, and the things she learnt throughout, and what it reveals about our society.

After watching this, your brain will not be the same | Lara Boyd | TEDxVancouver
A fascinating talk about neuroplasticity, in which Dr Lara Boyd explains how research has shown we can shape our brains how we want, and what it means for the future of neuroscience, medicine and learning.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

It's In Hand

Another hands post, another stupid title. :)

I've been drawing yet more hands, with a focus on drawing hands interacting with different objects.

Things like teacups, little bottles, binoculars, lighters--basically whatever comes to hand (pun intended).

Drawing hands interacting with different objects keeps things a lot more interesting!
My ability to draw from these references definitely waxes and wanes. It's as if having a day or two break from drawing makes my brain and my hands completely forget how to draw!

I am at least around 2/3 of the way through the sketchbook now! Which feels very close to complete, until I consider that means about 50 more pages to go...

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Just For Fun: 8 TED Talks for Insight, Inspiration and Information

Last week, I wrote about some TED talks relating to identity, consciousness and perception. As I mentioned in that post, I've been watching quite a lot of these talks, so today I'd like to share eight more.

I watched these talks Just For Fun, but still gained something from them, whether it was insight, inspiration, or information.

A garden in my apartment | Britta Riley
In this talk, Britta Riley talks about how she and a friend created a system for growing plants in tiny spaces - namely an apartment window - using old plastic bottles. This DIY project grew to become a worldwide research and development project, with people from across the globe using social media to share their own tweaks and improvements on the original plans.

Jae Rhim Lee: My mushroom burial suit
Artist Jae Rhim Lee reveals that our bodies create pollution even after death, and explains how the humble mushroom can be used to eradicate that pollution--all through a simple burial suit.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

A Post About African Geography

...for want of a better title!

One of my goals on The List is to learn all the countries in Africa. (It's goal #33, in case you're wondering.)
My reason for this - asides from my geography education only going as far as Western Europe - is because whenever a geography question comes up on the BBC quiz show, Pointless, it's nearly always Africa-centric, or African countries at least form a large number of the best answers. There were a huge number that I didn't even know existed!

Since I'm almost at the point of saying 'Yes, I've learnt these', I figure it's a good time to blog about what I've been doing to try and learn all the countries and their position within the African continent.
There are 54 countries in total--55 if you include Western Sahara, which is a disputed territory.

The first thing I did was try to memorise a list of the countries. First going around the African coastline, then east to west in rows across the continent.

Forgot a few each time. Hm.

Next was to get a blank map and fill it in using Photoshop (like above!)

Remembered slightly better, but it was cumbersome.

Newest attempt was downloading this app:

And no, this isn't a sponsored post.

World Countries Map Quiz is completely free, no sneaky in-app purchases (unlike the first geography learning app I downloaded, which was swiftly deleted!)

It breaks the continent into five areas, and works with a simple drag-and-drop style, giving you a list of countries and spaces on the map to drag them into.

When you're done, you can check your answers, and it will tick or cross them depending on how you did. The really helpful thing is that if you get something wrong, it shows you the right answer, so you aren't stuck randomly guessing if you got more than a couple wrong!

If you answer everything correctly in a game...



Now you feel smart!

So it's a good app for checking memory of geographical location, especially since the countries on the list are in a different order each time.

I'm not considering this goal completed yet, as when it comes to listing the countries I still manage to forget one or two. Usually Botswana or Tanzania. Which is ridiculous, because they are right there.

But forgetting one or two is better than when I started this goal, and I was forgetting some 15-20 of them.

Just like learning anything else, I'll test myself again in a few weeks, and see how much I've remembered!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Tasty Turkish!

After going to the British Museum on Monday, we stopped for lunch at Tas, an Anatolian Turkish restaurant that sits just along the street from the museum!

I was eager to try some of the food available, as it would count towards another goal on The List (also, I was hungry!)
043. Try foods of 5 different countries

Upon being seated, we were given bread with some kind of oil/youghurt/dill dip (tasty!) and olives (not so tasty).
Since we were short on time, we opted for some plates of meze to share:

Left to right (if I get this right having looked at their menu online): Mücver (courgette and goat's cheese fritters), Börek (filo pastry with feta and spinach), Icli Köfte (lamb and walnut kofte) and Zetinyagli bakla (broad beans).

Though it wasn't cheap, it was tasty and filling, and a nice treat for a day out!

I know that Turkey has a really diverse range of traditional food beyond meze, and Tas certainly had a lot of choices on their menu, but this was a nice way to sample what the cuisine has to offer!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Mind = Blown: 10 TED talks on Identity, Consciousness and Perception

A few months have passed since I last blogged about the TED and TEDx talks that I've been watching for a goal (062. Watch 100 TED/TEDx talks).
Nevertheless, I've still been watching them! In fact, since November, I've doubled the number of talks I'd watched in the past three years!

This post covers a number of mind-blowing talks, on the subject of identity, consciousness, and perception

Electrical experiments with plants that count and communicate | Greg Gage
A talk by neuroscientist Greg Gage, who uses scientific equipment to hook up a venus fly trap and a mimosa plant, to demonstrate how - through electrical signals - these plants count and transmit information. Interesting, but also fun!

Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth
Another talk by another neuroscientist! Anil Seth explains how we are all 'hallucinating' our conscious experience, and that when we all agree on the hallucination, it's called 'reality'. Sounds bizarre and is a little mind-boggling, but in a way makes a crazy amount of sense.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

British Museum

Yesterday I trawled up to London to go to the British Museum with Ann, my awesome manager (and history buff). I'd been thinking of going to the museum but wasn't keen on going there alone, so was grateful when Ann jumped in and offered to come along--thank you!

We looked mostly at Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian artefacts, though briefly breezed through Assyria too!

Of course, it's impossible to go to the British Museum without seeing the Rosetta Stone (if you can see past the crowds around it). This was brought to the museum in 1802 and became key to deciphering hieroglyphs!

Another piece that is impossible to miss is this fragment of a statue of Ramesses II, which came from his Ramesseum (mortuary temple). It really dominates the room--you can't not see it if you're walking through.

I took around 270 photos altogether, so whittling it down to a few for this blog post was difficult. Even then, this has ended up a bit image-heavy, so here's a handy dandy read more...

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Hands Up!

Since my last post about my hands-drawing goal, I have drawn a lot of hands.

Once again, Line of Action has proven useful for getting a lot of poses sketched out, with a time constraint that forced me to work quickly, rather than get hung up on one tiny detail.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Scones, Stoolball and Soggy Socks: a Trip to Steyning

Alright, so the 'soggy socks' part is an exaggeration (I wore boots) but when I went to explore Steyning with a friend last Saturday, it was a pretty soggy day!

Steyning (pronounced 'stenning') is a sussex town with a ton of old architecture and a lot of cute little shops, both on the main street and in Cobblestone Walk, which hosts a number of 'sheds' where independent traders sell their wares.

It even has its own museum! I would have made a separate post about the museum, as it counts towards a goal on The List, but no photography was allowed inside, which wouldn't make for a very visually interesting blogpost.
I did, however, see the Steyning man, a vamping horn, and have memories of school PE lessons dredged up by the presence of a stoolball post! (And if you want to know more about those things, you'll have to go to the museum).

After exploring in the prevailing drizzle, we took shelter in Cobblestone Tea House, a really quaint little cafe, and obviously a very popular one because it was still packed after lunch time!

Of course, cream tea was on the menu, so it was cream tea that I had! A fine way to round off a trip (and a pretty good way to finish off a blog post).

Thursday, 11 January 2018

How Handy

The first goal I wrote on The List was:
001. Fill a sketchbook with artwork/studies of only one subject
In a moment of absolute madness, I decided the subject would be hands.

Because I'm rubbish at drawing hands.

I've been working on this goal since towards the end of 2014, though I didn't initially get much further than a few half-hearted scribbles, and the picture above!

Though I've posted some other hand drawings, until now I haven't shared any more, so here's my progress so far...

Wanting to avoid spending hours at the computer to draw from on-screen references, I cut hands from magazines instead. Some of the results turned out pretty good, and mostly I switched between pencil and biro.

But I got bored of that, and decided to draw from on-screen references again, using some different materials (in the above instance, oil pastels, and below, pastel pencils).

Finding reference pictures online was starting to become a little annoying, as I couldn't always think of poses to search for.

But my problem was soon solved...