All About Expressing Yourself

CocktailsI am coming back to this space as something was inspiring me tonight.  In the next few days, Google is having its Google Cloud Conference in San Francisco.  Tonight, Google held a Diversity and Inclusion event called Women in Tech Social at the Palace Hotel.  I love the fact that Google has embraced women in its senior management: Diane Greene, founder of VM Ware, is Google Cloud’s CEO while Fei Fei Li, another woman, is the Chief Scientist for Machine Learning/AI.  In the conference, Google has 10 events in diversity and inclusion.  At the bar tonight, attendees were asked to express themselves by creating their own cocktails.

According to research, in the U.S., women are paid around 80% of the wages of men even though 50% of the undergraduates and graduates are women.  For women in tech, companies offer between 4% to 45% less pay to women for the same job.  Women did ask for a lower pay 66% of the time.  In industries such as VCs and hedge funds, less than 5% are women at the Partners or Chief Investment Officers level.  Still, in the U.S., women are controlling 51% of the total wealth.  Globally, women’s economic clout and wealth are rising definitively.

So, a toast to the rising strength of women with a self-made, self-expressed cocktail – non-alcoholic drink filled with wonderful herbs and gorgeous edible flowers.

The Beauty of Ikebana lies in its Philosophy

I spent a wonderful afternoon learning about Ikebana (the Japanese art of arranging flowers) at the Asian Arts Museum last Saturday with the President of the Wafu School of Ikebana in the California chapter, Fusako Hoyrup Sensei.

The word Ikebana means “live flowers in a container”; it allows us to enjoy indoors the charm and beauty of landscapes, the seashore, or lakeside.  The practice dates back to the 6th or 7th century in Japan as simple offerings on Buddhist altars but has now become an art form in everyday’s life.  There are now about 3,000+ schools of Ikebana in Japan.

The Wafu School, founded in the early 20th century, emphasizes complete harmony among the flowers, vases, and the environment.  Wafu style brings out the “natural beauty”, respecting the flowers and plants in their natural state.

The fundamental way of arranging the flowers is to create a trigonal pyramid (or more accurately an inverted, oblique trigonal pyramid.)  The lengths of the 3 main stems are different and can be simplified as long, medium (2/3 of long), and short (1/3 of long).  The length of the long can be determined by the height of the container + the width (at its widest) of the container.  Then, you can add complementary or supplementary stems as necessary.

Ikebana principles
Courtesy of the Wafu School of Ikebana

I love learning that these flowers and plants harmonize each other as well as with the artist and the environment.  You would know which flowers to buy or use because flowers talk to you.  Arrange the flowers and plants facing toward the sunlight because this is the natural way how plants grow!  This way gives the arrangement more depth and natural beauty.

So here is the result of my very first Ikebana lesson – ta da!

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This is a Moribana (flat) arrangement of the upright pattern, using 7 major steps in a basin

Could you guess that the focal point of this arrangement is the 2 lowest-placed tiger lilies? Can you sense that the flowers are coming toward you?

Thanks to Sensei Fusako Hoyrup, I have learned some simple but very important lessons of life as well – bond with nature and appreciate it anywhere.  Here is a lovely arrangement by the master, herself.

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Magnificent arrangement by Fusako Hoyrup. She also used some of the smaller stems to create the second arrangement, isn’t it cute and lovely?

 

3 Museums Worth Visiting in San Francisco (amongst many others)

Recently I have received invitations to exhibitions in museums, and one of which, despite my having lived over 20 years in San Francisco, I have never known its existence!

Here is a little tour:

Tian Tian is a comic character created by international artist Danny Yung originally from Hong Kong. In Chinese, the phrase “Tian Tian Xiang Shang”means working hard daily to achieve your goals. His Blank Boy Canvas collection is a cross cultural collaboration to create an individual approach of art on a blank canvas and was exhibited in the nostalgic Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in the San Francisco Chinatown (this was my new discovery) and many other metropolitan cities.Tian Tian

  
Another favourite San Francisco museum of mine is the Asian Art Museum located near the City Hall. Recently it has been exhibiting the beautiful lacquerware of historical Korea, a country that uses beautiful sea shells for many of their artworks. 

  The recently expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is another flagship museum here showcasing many American artists’ works; with their highly interactive self-guided tour, you can hear and see the artwork coming alive.

   

Gallery

Pretty to your heart and eyes

A fellow blogger Nia (photographofnia.com) shared a delightful painting of this Denmark artist, Iwona Lifsches, and I immediately fell in love with her work. Now I have her painting in my home screen in my big and nice iPhone 6 plus.

Her paintings are the melting pot of naive art, bright colours, idiosyncratic scale, child-like perspective, daily experience and emotions, wry humor, love, and affection for her countryside. You can find more of her work here.

Isn’t it a cheerful way to start your week?

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Merry Christmas – Images from Hong Kong

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!  Enjoy the spirit of Christmas from Hong Kong!

Paris in Hong Kong!  Lovely decorations in the Landmark Building, Hong Kong
Paris in Hong Kong! Lovely decorations in the Landmark Building, Hong Kong
Parisian Cafe - looks real?
Parisian Cafe – looks cute?
Church I was baptized - The Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral
Church where I was baptized – The Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral
Crib at the HK Catholic Cathedral
Crib at the HK Catholic Cathedral
Nice decorations at the Elements Mall
Nice decorations at the Elements Mall
Swarovski decoration at the HK International Airport!
Swarovski decoration at the HK International Airport!
People love to take photo with this welcoming tree at the HK Airport!
People love to take photo with this welcoming tree at the HK Airport!
My Dream Cottage - at the HK Regal Airport Hotel
My Dream Cottage – at the HK Regal Airport Hotel
Graffiti - local flavour
Graffiti – local flavour
A Hong Kong Government initiative to turn a previous policemen living quarters into a new art scene for local artists and cafes - called PMQ!
A Hong Kong Government initiative to turn a previous policemen living quarters into a new art scene for local artists and cafes – called PMQ!
Hong Kong's latest attraction - Ferris Wheel near the Central Financial District
Hong Kong’s latest attraction – Ferris Wheel near the Central Financial District (courtesy of timetable.com)

Turning the Corners

As I walked to my breakfast meeting at Union Square (downtown shopping district) via the financial district during one beautiful morning in San Francisco, I began to take notice of the different colours, architecture, and shapes of the buildings around me. What a mishmash of colours and styles. The camera in the phone is one of the best mobile ideas. You can’t help but notice more beauty (and carry them always with you) with the help of the lenses.  Walking also makes you to slow down and notice things.

The corners of these buildings fascinate me. They are not the end but an invitation for the passerby to notice their beauties!

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