the overview effect

When astronauts leave Earth, there is a well documented phenomenon that occurs. The Overview Effect. The Overview Effect is a cognitive shift: a sudden change in awareness reported by astronauts, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of Earth in space, which is immediately […]

digital sonder

In Tokyo there is a cafe up on Roppongi Hills — Tully’s Coffee — parallel to a busy elevated highway with patio chairs facing the street. Countless nameless faces walk by. I used to love sitting there. It provided ample opportunity for people watching. I’d sit and wonder what their lives are like: What items […]

keepers of the fire

I learned a beautiful phrase today: keepers of the fire. This is what the Potawatomi tribe call themselves. In fact, the word “Potawatomi” means “keepers of the fire.” Historically, they were one of three tribes that formed the Council of Three Fires meant to uphold peace. (1) Ojibwe: Older Brother, “Keepers of Faith” (2) Odawa: […]

what we think when we think about thinking

The subject of thinking continues to fascinate me. Recently, a group of us from diverse backgrounds and countries came together to discuss. Together in a panel conversation with an engineer, doctor to be, software developer, physicist, and yours truly, we talked about what we think about when we think about thinking. Specifically, around problem solving. […]

anatomy of a word: 忍

The Chinese character 忍 is often translated as ‘to endure.’ Like other cross language translations however, it does not cover the full scope of the word. Nor does it capture the deeper aspects of this beautiful language I’ve grown up with, and am only now beginning to realize its poetry. ‘To endure’ feels like an […]

the cutting room floor

As I navigate the 250 word count of an atomic essay (and failing miserably despite my best efforts), I’ve been thinking a lot about the cutting room floor and the stories we leave behind. For example, in Ali Wong’s standup Baby Cobra, she talks about a pregnancy that ends in miscarriage. The audience is quiet […]

anatomy of a word: 仁

When I was in high school, my father participated in a work leadership retreat. During the trip, it came up that my father had a daughter. The facilitator asked my father to write down one word, one wish my father wanted for me. For some additional context, my family and I were living in China […]

understand fear to have courage

“When I was a little kid, I was really scared of the dark. But then I came to understand, dark just means the absence of photons in the visible wavelength — 400 to 700 nanometers. Then I thought, well, it’s really silly to be afraid of a lack of photons. Then I wasn’t afraid of […]

anatomy of a language

Language is a beautiful thing. I’ve been learning about the language of indigenous culture, plants and the Earth through the book ‘ Braiding Sweetgrass.’ Reading about these new and foreign languages got me thinking more about the languages I’ve grown up with, English and Chinese. For example, take the English word for astronomy. Astronomy in […]

three influences that shaped my life

How do you simplify an existence down to three main aspects? Even throughout today, I’ve encountered numerous things that have left me changed from this morning. After all, like Alice in Wonderland says: “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” There’s no guarantee that these will be permanent, there […]

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