Feb 9-26: Sleep, STEM, Spinach, Snowboarding

2/9-2/17 (but posted on 2/26): This past week included a great degree of reminiscing as I was flung across the country, returning for the third annual TEDxUNC conference. Coming back to UNC offers some of the most bittersweet and strange collection of emotions. Sitting on one of my flights back to San Francisco (really waiting for the time when Delta has a direct flight out of SFO to RDU, but until then…), I began wondering if anywhere would ever bring me the same amount of unrelenting joy and emotion as Chapel Hill does. I certainly hope so, but know that it won’t be an easy feat. Similarly, I hope that at some point I am with the same wonderful community of people that Chapel Hill offered, and continues to offer, to me. We always say that the people, these fellow Tar Heels, are what make this school so incredible. These people are the ones who your memories about college are based on. So it got me thinking…if I remove my friends from the equation and visit UNC, knowing absolutely no one, will I still feel the same attraction towards this school? It’s tough to know that some day returning to Chapel Hill may be met with unfamiliar faces and fleeting memories of time spent in the Pit, on Fetzer field, in the Campus Y, and in Hinton James with people I love. But until then…

 This week’s collections of musings

Articles…If you read nothing else this week, read this

The Globally Minded 

  • This German town is building life around sleep – Though mainly a vacation town, we get a glimpse at what life would be like if we not only prioritized sleep in our personal lives but also collectively. As someone who pushed sleep aside in favor of the old “you’ll sleep when you’re dead” adage, I have to say that I am now realizing the ever-importance of sleep.
  • A look into communities in uncanny spaces. More than anything, this just shows the economic disparity that persists not only around the world but also in some of our local neighborhoods. That being said, the degree to which people in these photos use their surroundings to survive and create community is remarkable.
  • The Importance of Cities – Not that we ever doubted the economic power of cities but in 31 states, 1-2 cities alone bring in more GDP than the rest of the state. While this article says we should not back down on cities and instead wholeheartedly support them, I think we need to look at supporting other smaller metropolitan areas. 
  • What happens when the torch is out and Olympic villages close their doors? Unfortunately this far too much.

STEAM(y) things – yes, that’s science, tech, engineering, art, and math

  • Questlove on How to Find Music You’ll Fall in Love With: Beyonce’s albums aside, when was mp_questlove8_largethe last time you listened to an album from top to bottom? As Questlove mentions here, the advent of the internet has opened up music exploration like never before. But it’s a double edged sword. We seldom have to dig through albums and EPs to find that song we heard on the radio, because well, most of us don’t even listen to new music on the radio any more. (Personally, I cannot remember the last time I listened to a radio station and came across a new song) Back to the original point, we hear a song, we Shazam it, we find its name, and we download it. That whole process can take less than a minute and most times, we only download that one song. Is this a good thing? Thinking back to some of my absolute favorite albums (and not just songs), I’m immediately brought back to those that my parents shared with me growing up: Cat Steven’s “On the Road to Find Out,” Tracy Chapman’s “Tracy Chapman”, Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” What does the next era of music exploration hold for us if this one is so focused on singles? Does the impetus fall on the musician to create an album of 12 songs that can all be listened to as singles or does it fall on the listener to explore an EP in completion, taking into account how the songs work together as a true collection? 
  • Music Education for Creativity, Not a Tool for Test Scores: I fear the day that music and the arts will be traded for an entirely STEM focused curriculum for all. That being said, there are many students and schools who thrive with STEM alone. The question is: how do we create academic experiences that cater to the individual yet work for the masses? 
  • As someone who loved band classes and foreign language classes equally, I’m not surprised that neurologically speaking, playing improvisational jazz music triggers the same part of the brain as learning languages, which is AWESOME. 

Tech on tech on tech

  • Two interesting Google investments of the past weeks, one in online education and the other around online security (imagine logging into…)….Which brings us to the formal announcement of Google Capital,  a venture arm that invests in mid-stage companies. 
  • 14 very awesome tech startups coming out of Africa
  • Wearables for the fashion forward – We may be over our head with the number of Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 2.21.46 PMwearables available on the market, all touting tostrengthen our quantified self. However, very few of these offer the attraction to wear consistently in a fashion forward way nor do any offer the ability to be a safety blanket (think ‘I’ve fallen & I can’t get up’ meets a younger crowd). Cuff looks to solve these two issues though does not incorporate the same active/sleep perks that the Jawbone UP and Fitband, among others, provide. I look forward to a fully integrated, fashionable band. 
  • Things that are Cheaper than WhatsApp – With the $19B acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook being the top tech news piece this week, many are questioning if $19B was a bit too much. Opinions aside, this tumblr jokes at the steep price, aggregating some other things that cost less than the acquisition such as 25 Indian space missions to Mars. 

The Active Body and Mind

  • Pressure Makes Medal Sweeter – As an avid snowboarder since the young age of 4, I’ve followed the likes of Terje Håkonsen, Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark, & Lindsey Jacobellis, always dreaming that some day I’d throw my fear away in exchange for trying the more daring moves on the halfpipe or terrain parks. Well, that day never really came, as a couple of concussions in high school on the soccer field, only increased my fear exponentially. I still quiver with excitement watching the snowboarding events at the XGames and Olympics. Combine those feelings with my innate desire to learn about people and their stories brings me to fall in love with this piece as it gives a wonderful look into the Olympic life of Kelly Clark, a personal favorite. Despite the glory that we see atop the medal stand, the course to get there – even after arriving in Sochi – is hardly an easy one. Kelly discusses the tribulations and difficulties without second thought and with the upmost honesty.
  • The World of the Instafamous – More than anything, this just goes to show how sucked into social media and the instant gratification of likes, followers, and +1’s we are at all ages as well as how it is so easily to “live” perfect lives online.  

Who Run the World?

  • More Women finding themselves in top ranks – Not much that is overly surprising here, minus the fact that according to the study, it takes women on average one less year to reach top positions than men.  Not to say that most men still currently occupy most top positions…Perhaps women are getting to such positions faster because they are worried about balancing family and career in years to come. Or perhaps women who are likable have found how to capitalize on such faster than men. 
  • And now that we’re on the topic of women in the workforce….Why leaning in is killing us. While hating on Sheryl Sandberg and her “lean in” mantra, Rosa Brooks go into depth as to why she believes that leaning in is ruining women, relationships, and family culture. Brooks discussing how we should rid ourselves of Sandberg’s idea and instead recline, stating a number of reasons why her life spiraled out of control. However, I believe Brooks‘ thesis  falls short because she forgets that “leaning in” does not equate to having it all, instead it begs women to stand up for themselves, prioritize their time, and not forget the importance of work/life balance. 
    • Leaning in doesn’t mean spending 100 hours at work/week, nor does it mean forgetting to lean out –  When we learn to prioritize our time at work and at home, we begin to realize that a whole lot can get accomplished in 30 minutes, nevertheless 8 hours/day. In doing so, we are able to crank out work that matters and is important and instead disregard, or at least put on the back burner, that which is not.  In the same vein, women who are able to make the most of their “work” time are able to then turn off their phones and log out of email, when they are in “personal or family mode.” Ultimately, it’s having the personal power to prioritize the present.   
    • The strongest part of “Lean In” rests in women taking control of their words, posture, and presence. Far too often – both at UNC and work now – I see young women hesitating to make their opinions known. Perhaps this is partly due to a little introversion, but on the whole there seems to be worry that their opinions are wrong, or at least not as correct as everyone else’s. Recognizing this, managers and professors alike may need to begin to support women in the workforce by asking more pointed questions.
    • Work/Life balance – There’s nothing I could write that would ever compare to this to get my point across. First Round Capital KILLS IT with this article, which undoubtedly is one of the most useful things I have read in a very long time. 
  • Attention all single girls seeking boyfriends & husbands: apparently you should have spent your college days finding a suitor. If you’ve already graduated, well it’s too late. You’re about to be single for the rest of your lives as the Wall St. Journal says. 

Remember these things

  • This is the first time I actually read a good chunk of a Reddit AMA. And I am so happy I did. “I am a single guy who quit his job and spent the last year crossing the country, interviewing over 100 of America’s most amazing couples about what it’s like to be in love AMA!”

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 2.26.06 PM

  • How to be a good story teller – simple and very useful tips to remember, because “storytelling beats other forms of communication, hands down”
  • Say Sorry More…but actually mean it.
  • Finding your Best Friend – Just a reminder for us to ensure that the people we date/marry are our best friends and not just “drinking partners”

Randomings

  • Grand St – a new site designed to be your catch all for awesome new hardware 
  • Fellow Tar Heels have seen the wdydwyd photos around campus for years. Started by the Y Co-President of 1990, Tony Deifell, the series has become a worldwide meme and phenomenon with corporations, organizations, movements (Burning Man, etc.), and more. This talk with the Banana Republic executive team is my favorite look into the project in a hands on way, from the eyes of the founder himself.
  • Why should junk food get all the glory? Boldhouse takes a remarkable look at #foodporn through the lens of the most talked about food on social media.  Graphically stunning – and unfortunate at the same time. I suppose I’ve always just been the weird kid whose favorite foods are artichokes, eggplant, kale, & spinach.
  • This live Q&A segment happened on Thursday, 2/20 with Charles Best (Donors Choose), Alexis Ohanian (reddit co-founder), and Tim Ferris (startup advisor/author) is sure to knock your socks off. Three incredible men whose companies have reinvented and re-imagined how society interacts. 

Tunes of the week:

Quotes

  • “You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing. You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying. You should read the book you find in your grandparents’ house that’s inscribed ‘To Ray, all my love, Christmas 1949.’ You should read books mentioned in other books.” – Janet Potter
  • “Sellout . . . I’m not crazy about that word. We’re all entrepreneurs. To me, I don’t care if you own a furniture store or whatever—the best sign you can put up is SOLD OUT.” — Bill Withers

Photo credits:

  • Questlove – Pari Dukovic, Wired
  • Wearable Image – Cuff.io
  • Skeleton Image from Show Your Work – Austin Kleon