Jan 31, 2005

A taste of things to come....

Hard weekend. Saturday morning I got up at 6:30 to take a group out to habitat to build, hopefully for one of the last times. I dont have the time to do this anymore. We framed a house from the bare concrete, constructing all the exterior walls and most of the interior walls with 2x4 studs and precut and marked head and foot boards. We suffered through a short bout of hail, some brief and intenense rain, but the weather cleared up enough for us to enjoy the catered lunch. They had a BBQ company bring out cole slaw, baked beans with ham, and shredded beef brisket. Really good stuff. Anyway, spent the rest of the weekend working on my architecture project 1, phase 1. We had to make a structure from a block of stacked cardboard, the final model 4" by 4" by 32". I completely underestimated the amount of time it would take to make this. I had to cut out the 4x32 pieces, mark each one with the lines, make the cuts, then glue them together. I had to do this with 35 pieces. By the numbers -
hours of sleep last night: 4
cost of large paper sheet: 9.5
models: 1
charcoal drawings: 6
process book pages: 0 (didn't matter too much, issue wasn't raised at review)
time of wakening: 0700
time of class: 134o
linear feet of sketchwork: 7
Today the studio instructor reiterated "say goodbye to your friends, you'll see them this summer. If you want to socialize, do it from six pm to midnight on Fridays after studio."
I was unprepared for the review, which made me greatly dismayed. My charcoals weren't shaded with shadows, and I had no pages from the process book. I guess thats the purpose of a first project like this, wake up call. This semester is going to be a fight all the way. On the plus side I got a lot of positive comments about my design.

Jan 29, 2005

Dinner and A Lunacy

Today I worked from 11-5 at the ASU bookstore, my last day there. They were going to have a pizza party for all the rush temp workers today, but they decided to instead combine it with the staff post-rush potluck-fiesta next week, when none of the rush temps will be working. I fully intend to attend with the incentive of free food. Speaking of food, tonight Jen and I went to eat at Cafe Boa on Mill ave, which is actually moving to a more spacious and further location near the end of Mill ave. I actually prefer the small size (its a tiny cafe which can hold maybe 10 inside and perhaps 20 outside on the patio) and its nice to be in the middle of the Mill ave. bustle. Afterwards, we watched Hot Shots, Part Deux, as the DVD was on sale at Borders. What a scream. Jen thought it was really stupid but she laughed a lot too. She can't figure out why a smart guy like me likes such dumb movies. What can I say, I love sight gags and throwaway jokes.
Anyway, better make this a short one. I'm working habitat tomorrow morning till 2, perhaps doing some roofing if I'm lucky. I only hope some people will be coming out to meet us there, as our listserv is down. Our webmaster sent it out to about 200 people, but I dont have my hopes up.

Jan 24, 2005

Brain Bugs

Afraid I left with a bit of a cliffhanger last entry. Breifly: Picked up my new sunglasses from Costco, they have polarized tinting which is nice. My cell phone was ok, just needed a hard reboot to relocate the carrier AT&T signal.
Yesterday, I bought a drafting table on sale. It's a really clever design, so I can fold it up and haul it in the car, but still big enough for my drafting.
Studio has begun, and I really like the instructor. He advised us to drop any unnecessary classes, so that's what I plan to do. I dropped the one class in human geography I was planning on taking a day too late, so now its listed as a withdrawn on my transcript. It really bites, but thats what I get for changing my mind at the last minute and not planning far enough in advance. I doubt it will work against me in light of the rigor of my other classes.
Last night was my first night working past midnight on studio projects. We had to make cardboard walls 2 x 2 x 16 inches and cut out, layer by layer, rooms and pathways. Anyway, they liked what I had done, and the amount of reaserch I did, so its a good first impression on the studio instructor. Our class had 18 people the first day, and 15 now. Still a lot. All we did today for three hours was pin-up and presentations. Ate dinner at Sally's, lasagne and salad, my first complete dinner in awhile. Gave Sara and Gabriel their Christmas presents, which they were thrilled with. Halfway through dinner, I realized that I had not registered for the architecture lecture. I worried all through dinner until I got home and realized there was no architecture lecture this semester. I also realized after I got home that I'd completely spaced out the habitat for humanity meeting, where I was going to talk about builds, and also bottled water sales to benefit Habitat International's Tsuanami rebuilding fund.
Not a great start to the semester. I need to get these kinks worked out.

Jan 20, 2005

Silent Cell

This morning I worked again from 7:30 AM to noon. Not as crowded as tuesday, surprisingly. Perhaps the worst is past. At any rate, my Planning class was a complete waste of time. The TA's discussed what they wanted to see in the papers we will turn in, despite them posting it online. In the grammar section, they talked about sentance fragments and how to put them togather using a comma. The sentance "fragments" were "I hate my roomate." and "Because she is messy." Lose the "before," and both "fragments" are complete sentances. Its going to be a real high quality class. The instructor is korean, so I guess I can overlook it, but his TAs are both 'mer'can.
This afternoon I tried to get the people at ATT to talk to me, but as my cell phone is under dad's account, they refused to tell me anything. I can understand this, but it means that I've been dead in the airwaves for nearly three days now.
There's a really interesting website called thefacebook.com which is a directory of college students all over the world. You register on it, and then you can search for people in your college, people with similar interests, majors, clubs, etc. Then you can do a global search. In this way I found an old friend from Singapore and an old friend from Beijing. I was searching by High School Graduation, and the students coming from ISB and SAS now go to schools that read like a Ivy Leauge litany. Anyway, people with more money and coming from a better school.
Went to an exec habitat meeting late tonight. I recomended we sell bottled water on the campus mall to raise money for the habitat international tsunami reconstruction fund. We'll do that a little later this semsester while public empathy is still high (though God knows there will be continuous need for years at least). Now I am tired and I have to work 8-1 tomorrow. At least I have no friday classes.

"So It Begins"

The result of the bike story: I returned the bike parts last night for a full refund. To get the right-sized wheels, I'd end up spending at least $160. I decided to make do with my other bike, the street bike, since 1) I'm living in theft-prone Tempe and I dont want to sink more money into a bike which may be stolen in the next few years. 2) I'm not sure its worth it, as the bike is 9 years old, bought in Singapore. 3) Two bikes is a little redundant. I'm storing the frame as taylor may want a bike when he goes to college in a few years, and because it still belongs to my dad. So I got the racing bike back in top shape with a new front tire for twelve dollars.
Began class today at 8:40 AM with another droning semester of Papa Smurf, who introduced our new project: revamping a cemetary. Afterwards, went to our architectural construction class with Prof. Hoffman. He's highly recommended by Uncle David, but he formerly taught the class to third year students in the program, so I think he's dumbed it down a bit too much. Fittingly, the course is extremely structured.
After a long break of a few hours over my lunch time, I took the street bike in to the Schwinn stop for the tire work and ate a sandwich at Jack in the box.
Studio is going to be especially challenging this semeseter. There's 18 students, a completely full class, which means one on one time in desk crit is going to be in short supply. The instructor is Indian, recently licenced and working on starting his own firm. He seems much more seasoned, knowlegeable, and practical than the last studio instructor. He's also going to be much more demanding, and even though its going to mean more work and less sleep, I appreciate it since my work needs to be at its best before I turn in the portfolio. Our first assignment is three cardboard models, three printed comptuer drawings, and assorted processwork. It's going to be a hard semester. I think I may really appreciate my fiction class. Seth made the comment as we were leaving "So it begins." It gave me the feeling that by the end, many would be left dying in the mud.
I came home and crawled into bed. At about seven, Jen and I biked to the fitness building to this really old used gym. It looks like a 20 year old high school gym. Lots of girls, about a dozen or so more girls than guys. Almost all the guys were like me, with their girlfriends. There were a few unattached guys, but not many. We leanrned the basic Merenge first, then the basic salsa step. We're supposed to practice it everywhere to make it possible without thinking. I for one really need the practice. Despite what many may think, my grace is completely lost when there is a rythm or step to follow. One upshot of the overabundance of girls is that the girls cycle in and out, while the guys get constant practicce. As we have the hardest work to do, and generally lack the dancing skills, we need it. This class is really going to challenge me. At least it only meets once a week.

Jan 18, 2005

Off to a Bad Start

I woke up early this morning, at seven AM, left ten minutes before work, and made the unpleasant discovery that during the night, both of my bike wheels had been stolen. This was dad's mountain track bike, not the gary fisher. Oddly, the criminal left the gel pad seat. So, began the day by walking to work, where it developed into an absolute madhouse. The new set up is horrible, no one knos where to go or where to stand in line. We had one area with 4 people in line, and another area with 40. It's like no thought at all was given to how people would move throughout the floor to the registers. It's irritating. Worked 4.5 greueling hours, a Cashierbot 200o. Right after I got off, I hustled over to my first class, intro to urban planning and development. The school is packed, and worse, there's no parking which means people are driving around like crazies. Urban planning looks pretty easy, taught by an elderly Korean immigrant who admonished the class to never mix grass with drink. He's really trying to connect with the class, to show he's "one of us," to what end we shall soon see. At least he has a good grading system. Four papers, each one only 1-2 pages long. Attendance is important too, but its not going to be a problem I dont think considering it's time. After class I walked home and drove the bike to Tempe Bicycle. I told them I wasn;t sure what size wheels I needed, but that I needed new wheels, inner tubes, tires, gear stack, and I also picked up some new pedals, as my old ones had been torn apart. Total price came to $130. I opted to put it togather myself and save some time. After I had assembled the rear wheel, I put it on the bike and realized that it was too small. It was a 26" wheel, and I guess I need a 27" since the brakes were grasping near the top of the tire and there was a huge distance between the back of the fork and the top of the tire. So, later tonight, when the traffic clears, I'll take it back and get it straightened out. Kind of a downer day. At least here, when you're robbed, they dont pretend that they're doing you a service, like in Russia.

Jan 15, 2005

Iced Teens, Life Aquatic, and Costco Dim Sum

Friday night, Jen and I went ice skating at the Alltel Ice Den. It was TRL, teen request live, so we got a lot of blink 182 soundalikes and some eminem. It was of course packed with screaming young teens. I really felt old when I considered that Taylor would have felt old in this crowd. Afterwards, we went to the Harkins 101, and waited to see Life Aquatic. In the meanwhile, we went to Borders and I picked up a Calvin and Hobbes book I was missing from my collection, deeply discounted. In later reading it, I realized that I particulary enjoyed calvin and hobbes because it was about a character who refused to see the world as everyone else saw it, who demanded excitement and extremity in the face of mediocrity and the mundane. I liked Life Aquatic, but I thought Owen Wilson did a better job than Bill Murray. It was cute, and reasonably lighthearted. I chuckled throughout the movie. Mom would like this one I bet.
Today I drove out to Costco with Jen (her dad got her a card) and ordered a pair of sunglasses from thier optical department. Should get in within 7-10 days. As it was lunch time, we strolled around sampling all the samples, which actually does a pretty good job of filling one up. After picking up some pepper jack cheese and some frozen burritos on sale, we headed home.
Found a snowbird who seemed pretty interested in the Mustang, but he hadn;t called back to arrange a time to come out and see it. I'll wait till monday to call him back. It would be nice to get at least one car out of my hair before school starts. Remember to read MLK's "Letter From Birmingham Jail" or the "I have a dream" speech on MLK day. Ben comes home tomorrow.

Jan 13, 2005

Zoo, then Zombie

I took Jen to the zoo today, as she'd never been. Its been awhile since I'd been back there, and they expanded on thier arizona wildlife section. It was actually kind of impressive. They have a new monkey exhibit where you go in and can walk around with squirrel monkeys in thier enclosure. It reminded me of Singapore where we came across a small grove of trees in the middle of the path filled with darting Tamarins, the tiny golden monkeys. We also stopped to see the Oranguatn feeding, one of the more interesting things to do at the zoo.
After we got back, I went to work at the bookstore. It's surprisingly dead, still, even though all the dorms are opening back up these last few days. They stuck a few of us in the back storeroom, where I spent a mind-bendingly dull hour slapping price stickers on tiny flip pads. I got a nasty headache a little while later. After work I went directly to a AIAS Freedom by Design meeting. It is a commitee which does small projects for people with disabilities in order to improve thier general mobility. We had six architecture students there, an architect, and a contractor. The architect recommended that we take the project as serious as possible in order to learn how projects are solved in the real world. He outlined the general way projects run, from a listing of the clients needs all the way through to shop drawings. We spent a long time discussing building code, both Tempe's building code and ANSI's code which deals with disabilites. My headache worsened and I left early, though towards the end of meeting. It began at work as a back of the head headache, then became a kind of sinus-migrane singing a duet of misery. I felt nearly nauseus. When I got home, I popped a headache pill, drank some water, took a hot bath, then fell asleep on the couch for about an hour and a half. My headache is mostly gone, but I can still feel the back of the head headache still there, quietly pounding and waiting for the pain medicine to break down. Hopefully It'll be gone by morning, as I'm working from 10:30 to 5 tomorrow. Long day.

Ikea and Creme Brulee

Today I went to Ikea. With the three printers I now own, one inkjet/copier/fax, one laserjet, and one large scale inkject, I needed some kind of shelving unit. Ikea it was. After getting only slightly lost with Jen, we found the big blue building. I could not believe how cheap the prices were for the furnature until I realized that I was dealing with aluminum tubing and hollow laminate. I ended buying a large four-shelved rack which looks great with my desk, another Ikea product. It was relatively inexpensive at 50 bucks. Assembled, here is a picture of it with all my printers and stuff on it. http://www.deviantart.com/view/14074837/ Jen bought a glass coffee table on wheels. On the way home I picked up my Amazon.com package including the Lord of the Rings, and Hot Fuss, the new disc from The Killers, one of the new 80's electronic bands. Worked from 3-7 this evening at the bookstore. Biked home and made my first attempt at Creme Brulee. It might have turned out better if the oven had heated up, but for some reason, the oven refused to get above a certain temperature. So it semihardened even as it sat in the hot oven. When I figured out what was going on, I cooked it again. When it seemed set, I chilled it for an hour, then used the torch. I heated it from too far away for too long, so even though I got the nice crispness of the carmelized (not burned) sugar, the custard was heated. The consistany was way off, and taste was off too. Hopefully, next try will be met with more sucesss.

Jan 11, 2005

The Appliance Gap

Got back to phoenix fine last thursday. Even though I took two tiny jet flights with one tight connection, my bags made it fine. The only thing that broke was one jar of apple butter, which was rather upsetting. At least it broke on the bottom of the bag, and only soiled a few articles of clothing. I saw some friends friday night and we walked around Mill Avenue. The next few days I spent sitting around watching movies and cleaning. I picked up my new huge printer, and it does an amazing job at printing digital photos, although it does tend to suck up the ink. When I got back home, I aried everything out. Suki had overturned my giant model with the weed trees so it was all over the floor. I bet Aunt Brenda and Uncle David thought I lived in "disaster area" as dad used to call it. Monday morning, still not hearing anything from the bookstore, I went in to talk to them to ask if I could work. They handed me my schedule and put me on register right there. I got 7 and a half hours of work yesterday. I figure I'll probably end up with about $350 before taxes for all the work I do at the bookstore. This week I work every weekday except friday from 3-7 pm. It was really slow yesterday. I spent the last hour balacing loose change on end.
Later that night, Jen came home. She had an obscene amount of baggage that I helped take up. Her car was completely filled to the top with bags, boxes, and appliances. Her unilateral kitchen actions have increased the appliance race with her new breadmaker and cuisineart/blender. My kitchen is suffering from an appliance gap, even with my new torch and wire cheese cutter.
More errands to run and calls to make today.

Medium is the message

I moved the blog again. I deleted the Tumblr account and moved everything to Medium.com, a more writing-centric website. medium.com/@wende...