Posts Tagged ‘caribbean architect’

A Tale of two WASPs by The Thinking Insomniac

Vernelle Noel, thinking insomniac, writing, non-fiction, Vernelle,

Image Copyright Vernelle Noel

Is the sky really the limit? Your sky, is different from someone else’s sky. No two skies are exactly the same because no two pilots are exactly the same. This is the story of two pilots. For one, the sky was the limit, for the other, the sky was a dream.

Anne Noggle was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1922. After seeing Amelia Earhart at an air show in Chicago, she set the goal for herself to become a pilot. At the age of seventeen, her mother agreed to let her take flying lessons. Four years later at the age of 21, she traveled to Texas to train to become a WASP, one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). WASP was a civilian women’s pilot organization attached to the US Army Air Forces to fly military aircraft during World War II. They had no military standing but trained male pilots in combats missions; transported military aircraft; towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice; simulated strafing missions and transported cargo. After the war and the disbanding of WASP in 1944, Anne became a stunt pilot in an aerial circus at 25, and a crop duster at 26. In 1953, at the age of 31, she applied and became a pilot for the US during the Korean War, retiring as a captain in 1959 at the age of 37. These experiences gave Anne confidence and emboldened her to believe that the sky was the limit – literally and figuratively. She could do anything!

While in the Air Force, Anne was stationed in Paris and visited the Louvre, one of the world’s largest art museums. Like she was inspired to fly after seeing Amelia Earhart, she was inspired to be an artist after visiting the Louvre. In 1966, the former pilot enrolled in the University of New Mexico earning her bachelors in fine arts at the age of 44, then her Master’s degree in art at the age of 47 in 1969. She developed her skills as a photographer, and like she was influenced by Amelia, and the Louvre, she was also influenced by female photographers like Julia Margaret Cameron and Diane Arbus. (Julia Margaret Cameron’s niece would become the mother of one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors – Virginia Woolf). Her photographs displayed femininity and sexual energy, and in 1970 at the age of 48, she had her first one-woman show at a gallery in New Mexico. She then produced her most famous series of photographs of herself in 1975 at the age of 53 (she photographed herself after receiving a facelift). When she was 60, she was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and at the age of 69 the former pilot earned an honorary doctorate from her alma mater.

For Anne, the sky was the limit. She lived several lives – military pilot, stunt pilot, crop duster, artist, professor, and recipient of an honorary doctorate. She was born in 1922, joined WASP at 21, retired from flying at 37, flew a total of 6000 hours, then the former pilot went on to live her life as a famous photographer.

At the beginning of this story, I said this was a tale of two WASPs, one for whom the sky was the limit, for the other, a dream. The other WASP was Mildred Hemmons Carter. Born in 1921 (the year before Anne) she earned her pilot license in 1941 at the age of 20. She too applied to join WASP in 1943 but was asked to withdraw her application. Two women, born the same time, both pilots. One able to join WASP, the other not. Why not? Well, Mildred was black. She was THE ONLY black applicant, and because of her race was rejected. She was also rejected from flying with the Tuskegee Airmen – black military pilots – because she was a woman. She faced the double-edged sword of being black and being a woman. (Her husband was Lt. Colonel Herbert Carter the last surviving Tuskegee Airman from Mississippi). Seventy years after earning her pilot license, at the age of 90, Mildred was recognized retroactively as a WASP, and took her final flight. She flew a total of 150 hours.

Anne and her dreams soared in part because she was able to achieve her first dream, which then empowered her to find and achieve other dreams. Mildred on the other hand was never allowed to achieve her first dream. Her dream was rejected. Mildred’s son, Herbert Carter Jr., said his mother often regretted that she came along a little too early and couldn’t achieve her dream of becoming a WASP. A tale of two WASPs. For Anne, the sky was the limit. For Mildred, the sky was but a dream.

Hello All!

I have been scarce, but only because I have been busy. And I think I am learning… I think I am understanding stuff and I am encouraged and happy about this. I will post for you something I did using the Kinect. Possible uses and applications of the Kinect fascinate me so I wanted to use it. I began by reading and rewriting code for understanding from the book – Making Things See. I started with their exercise on drawing an imaginary cube in space, which would increase in opacity based on increasing the point clouds – as I touch the box.

vernelle noel, programming, kinect, form-making

You can see my video and you can get the code here:


Github –

I then played some more with the code. Here’s a video of my final work. There are things I still need to fix and make modular, but, bit by bit. This was done weeks ago. I am doing data visualization now and will show you all some stuff soon.

When I did this it was carnival back home (Feb 16 & 17th). While everyone was in the sun having fun, I had to pretend I was there. Here I am manipulating the vertices of my shape while I move to Machel Montano’s – Like Ah Boss.


Github –





Here’s my work from yesterday.


Bouncing Ball

Here’s the code –


Nested Loop

Code –


Nested Loop – Random  function used for color


Nested Loop

Code –

In class yesterday we touched on functions and creating parametric objects with processing. This is no joke, describing a design (shape/ object) for a computer is pretty intense. You have to tell it EVERYTHING!

See the code for the parametized columns below –

vern7 vern6 vern5 vern4 vern3 vern2 vern1

I have been reflecting on why I feel so confused. Give me a pen, tell me to design something, and I can describe what I want and what I imagine. Give me a computer, and tell me to design something with code and my creativity goes out the window. Why is this? I am thinking aloud here… I think maybe it’s because I don’t know the vocabulary, the language that I have to work it. It’s like someone telling me to write a sentence in German. If I do not know what English words translate into, I will not be able to. If I do not know the ways to use those German words, I will also be lost. So.. I think I need to spend some time learning the “vocabulary” of Processing.

Ideally I want to be able to imagine something I want to do, then using the vocabulary, function, and methods of Processing, get it done. Currently, that is not happening. So tonight, I will spend some time learning some “vocabulary”, i.e. methods in Processing. The structure I will always be working on, and the way to write these things. Pseudocode maybe? No joke, this is taking a lot of time.


Sketch #1

So these are my sketches for tonight (Jan 26th). I am trying to understand and play with repetition using “for loops.” In Sketch #1, I did little lines of code using a “for loop” to repeat them.


Sketch #2

In this sketch I played with colors and another layer of lines


Sketch #3

In this sketch I changed the second layer of lines to ellipses().


Sketch #4


Sketch #5

In sketches #4 and #5 I was exploring nested loops, or a two-dimensional matrix (don’t quote me on this). I remember wrestling with these nested loops while doing Rhinoscript. I think this is the same here. A “for loop” in the x-direction and a “for loop” in the y-direction. For this two-dimensional matrix, a rectangle is drawn and filled. The fill () function is written as:

 fill((x+y) * 1.4);

Frankly I don’t quite understand how this works. I will try to find this out. It seems to be taking the color as numbers from the for loop and using the multiplier of 1.4, this changes the color value. Fill () takes a number value and I guess this is altering the number value in this way. Interesting.


Sketch #5

In Sketch #5, I tried to play with interaction with the mouse. Nothing impressive happened. I used a snippet from the code last night. So I was able to move the tip of the triangle, but nothing cool really happened, apart from the interaction of course. So! Here’s to my second night of processing Processing().

My friend Marc shared this super cool link of the super-cool, trippy stuff his friend does. See here –


The image above is my sketches of what I want to draw. Instead of dwelling in the fog of my mind, I was encouraged by Daniel to draw what I want to “sketch” using Processing. It’s just like my research… making the implicit, explicit. These are sketches and images of the codes that I wrote tonight. Step by step… incremental development.


Sketch #1

This sketch (#1) was pretty easy. Apart from the mistakes I made with the locations of the endpoints of my lines, it was an easy start.


Sketch #2

Also an easy start.


Sketch #3

I did a different sketch (static) before doing this one. I then played around with the “mouseX ()” and “mouseY ()” functions so the shapes created were dynamic and it was interactive – i.e via the mouse. Below are more shapes/ designs created with the same sketch. I wrote a few lines of code at the end of my draw code that would export the design generated by pressing the space bar.


Sketch #4


Sketch #5


Sketch #6

This was also a doable exercise. The main things I learned here was the order in which to write the fill commands so they fill the particular shape I wanted. I also learned the quad() function and used it for drawing my diamond shapes since the rect() function would not do it, at least based on my level of Processing knowledge right now. This felt good. 🙂


So one of my desires, my intellectual goals (since 2011) has always been to become proficient in Programming. I peered into the world of programming during my first semester at MIT. Before that, programming was an unknown world, “something computer people did.” My eyes were opened then to the power, beauty, and immense frustration of programming. In my first semester, I started doing “Programming Sketches” with one of THE BEST TEACHERS out there, who was still a Ph.D. Candidate at that time, Juhong Park. I started the course and spent several nights frustrated, becoming angry and sometimes weeping over writing code. I just could not get it! I remember one time my friend and brother Ki saw me in 9-250. There I was not understanding programming, cursing myself and almost in tears over how difficult this foreign thing was. Ki would comfort and reassure me that it was not something, “I could just get” if I never did it before. This was one of the main things I think I had (and still have to remind myself). I thought I would “get it” within a week or a few days, and it was not happening. I could not believe I was not getting it.

After a few weeks I dropped the course because I got into “How To Make Almost Anything” (HTMAA) which was higher on my priority list at that time. HTMAA also had programming, but I was able to get by, get help from my friends and TA’s and just try. But still, it never sank in. In Spring 2012 I took Leah Buechley‘s “New Textiles” course. There was some programming (Arduino and Processing) and I was able to get by. I wrote tiny codes that worked, nothing too intense. In Summer 2012 while working in Singapore I tried to teach myself programming (Rhinoscript and Python). I tried and tried. I think I understood somethings conceptually, but still – not really getting it. In Fall 2012 I took Java in the CompSci Dept at MIT. Great professor, awesome TA’s, somethings I understood. Still – not getting it the way I should, or the way I think I should. I was in every single recitation there was!! LOL. And still…not getting it.


By Spring 2013 I was focusing on my thesis and thought that for my sanity I would give programming a break and focus on what I was really good at. This was a wise decision, since instead of constantly feeling like crap, I excelled at doing what I was REALLY good at! Programming will just have to wait. After my graduation I moved back to Singapore in August 2013 to teach Design Computation courses to Architecture students. WHAT THE WHAT?!!!! Yes. Before the semester actually started we of course had to prepare. I would be involved in teaching Programming with Grasshopper and C#. I prepared and studied C# with the days and things made sense. I wasn’t a pro, but things made sense. The professor I taught with (Sawako Kaijima) knew her stuff inside and out. She too shared her struggles, persistence and victory stories with me about her journey through the difficult programming landscape. She reminded me to never give up! That semester was great and again, I made it through. I think my ability to understand the difficulty of grasping programming concepts allowed me to help the students even more. I would share examples with them, create tutorials in the form of cartoons that might help them understand certain concepts. I was the bridge between the genius (Sawako) and the new-comers (students).

In the Spring 2014 semester there was some programming in the course I taught, but more so visual programming with Grasshopper. Again, we made it through. During that semester I did Python Programming with Code Academy AND I sat in in my friend’s (Hyowon Lee) class. He was taught an introductory programming class to Information Systems students. These things really helped. I was trying to eat, sleep and dream code.

Well now in my Spring 2015 semester here at Penn State I am trying it yet again. I am taking Algorithmic Tectonics with Daniel Cardoso Llach. We are using Processing as our platform. I am hoping to lick this challenge of mine, grasping the abstractness of code. Wish me the best this time! I am at this minute in the library. I came to work on my programming assignment and while figuring out how best to work on it, I decided that I would do 3 things. (1) I will share my story for hope that it encourages someone – being patient with yourself is a good thing. (2) I will try to write at least one snippet of code everyday. Juhong made us do this in his class. This was THE foundation of his class… writing code daily. (3) I will document everyday how and what I feel while learning code. I will also post the results of those codes on Thinking Insomniac. It might keep me accountable. So, here’s to me trying to beat this programming monster. If you need a buddy to do the same with, feel free to join me.

The images above are outputs from code that I was trying to understand, make changes to and rewrite tonight. Looking forward to many more..


truth and its relevance

 Truth – what is said – is literal.

Design worlds are not solely literal but metaphorical, created, based on our perception, our experiences and more.

For non-verbal (what is said) versions of expression, truth is irrelevant (Goodman).

Have a great day!
Thinking Insomniac

Creative Commons License This work by Vernelle Noel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.



Have a great day!


Hi All!!

So last week after some encouragement from my cousin (Clayton) and friend (Bob), I decided to work on a personal project I wanted to for some time, but never had the time. Thank you Google and for helping me with Dreamweaver! I built and designed my website featuring my artwork, my architecture sketches. Here it is –

I have been working on it non-stop since Tuesday (they don’t call me an Insomniac for nothing!). I am happy to now tell you all that it is at a stage that I can share it with you. It is still a work in progress, BUT things are working. I still have many, many more sketches to upload, but things are up and running.

I wanted to push all I can as I begin my PhD in Architecture this Fall at Penn State University… in case I forgot to mention it to you all. In a few days my priority will be my work (PhD research and study), so I wanted to give this all I can with the remaining hours I had. I am happy and excited for it all! I am particularly excited about my Sketchsperiments! Check them out!

Thanks again for all your encouragement and kind words! Oh I love the interweb – 😉

Vernelle Noel a.k.a Thinking Insomniac


 My friend took me to Veni Mangé in Port of Spain, Trinidad last week for lunch. Here was my experience. Sign paying homage to Allyson Hennessy above.

“Veni Mangé came into existence in December 1980. The name Veni Mangé is French Patois for ‘Come & Eat’ Now located on the popular Ariapita Avenue, the restaurant is housed in old Colonial home, clay colored with demerara windows, local art, tropical plants, colorful décor and overhead ceiling fans. It epitomises Caribbean ambiance. Veni Mangé is run by sisters, Allyson Hennessy (deceased – pictured above), a Cordon Bleu Chef and sister, Roses Hezekiah.” – from Veni Mange website.

We were warmly greeted by Roses (I think it was Roses) who was the epitome of the Caribbean woman, beautiful, warm, felt like family, and a beautiful smile. She escorted us to our seats, asking us where we preferred and opening the windows for us to enjoy the breeze.


 Coconut Bake

Before placing your order you are greeted by beautiful and delicious coconut bake! This is a Trinbagonian past-time. It was and still is one of the most comforting things for me to eat when I come home to Trinidad. My grandmother’s coconut bake was unforgettable. In addition to the bake looking so inviting, I loved the checkered towel it was placed in. Oh so homey!


I ordered grilled shrimp in chadon bene sauce (chadon bene is a family to cilantro) and my friend ordered the West Indian stewed beef with dumplings. Our entrees were served with (pictured above) bhagi rice (from top left), potato salad and fried plantains, vegetables (which was really pak choi) and red beans. Oh it was a feast!!!!!!!!!!! It looked and smelled sooooooooooo good! But the pièce de résistance was about to arrive..


Close up of the bhagi rice


Potato salad and fried plantains


Stewed red beans


Pak choi

Now for the entrees…


Stewed beef with dumplings. Five-finger a.k.a star fruit a.k.a carambola for decoration.


Another view with some watercress too.


This was my baby, my darling, just looking at this and my mouth is watering again…grilled shrimp in chadon bene sauce


Now, if memory serves me right the menu said “grilled shrimp.” I didn’t taste the grill on the shrimp, BUT the shrimps was one of the most delicious tasting shrimps I have ever had! It tasted like a chadon bene ceviche or a shrimp chow! BEST THING EVER!!


Another view! I ate my sides and left the majority of my shrimp for last.


We left room for dessert. I had the rum trifle and my friend had the prune dessert with custard (I can’t remember the name).


Inside the run trifle


A closer view of inside the rum trifle.


The prune dessert


Inside the prune dessert

 The desserts were great! If I were Veni Mangé however I would place the trifle in a clear glass or bowl. The beauty of a trifle lies not just in its taste, but also in its layers. Glass dish – yes. I would also put a lighter layer of custard atop. The entire thing was a little too sweet and I felt the custard overwhelmed the delicious fruits and cake below a bit. I would do the same for the prune dessert. They were both great however. Now for the decor…


The brightly colored furniture, windows, ceiling fans, demerara windows, colorful artwork depicting Caribbean life and Caribbean people. The seat covers are reminiscent of  the dresses worn by bélé dancers in the Caribbean.


Brightly colored furniture and jalousie windows (with louvers).


The artwork and plants…


A close up of the painted table top and beautiful tile


More of the interior





 White painted ceiling, demerara windows, wooden floor and furniture at the bar


A wall of famous Trinidadians


Demerara windows


View of Veni Mangé from the outside


Exterior sign

I thank Rose and the young lady who waited on my friend and I. This was fantastic! The food was some of the best I have ever tasted. The service was PERFECT! I felt comfortable, they kept asking us if everything was alright and if we wanted anything else. I am a sucker for fantastic service and they gave it to us, all with that beautiful Caribbean smile and warmth.

  1. Food – GREAT
  2. Service – GREAT
  3. Ambiance – GREAT

Here’s a ink to the restaurant –

Have a great one!

Thinking Insomniac.