Aug 30, 2005

Procrastination: I'll tell you about it later.

My 'terrible tuesdays' aren't as bad as I had feared. In architecture history we learned about cave paintings and stonehenge. Our reading homework is one chapter of the textbook a class, begining with chapter one. My finding purpose class was really interesting. The professor who teaches it studied art and design, but eventually became and still is, a practicing therapist. Today we talked about effective time management skills and it really started to ring a bell for me. He talked about time as a space, an area of hour blocks, with 168 blocks in a week. Many "technical errors" we make when planning I found myself I make.

Tasks don't have a home -you don't set aside a specific time or occation to get the task done
Tasks are overly complex -needs to be broken down into simpler steps
Clean up my workspace -ordered, structured work areas translate to better efficiancy

He also talked about obsticles to good time management, various ways to prioritize your tasks, and about procrastination as a major impediment to good time management. He described procrastination as having two causes: 20% of the time you dont want to do it, but 80% of the time its caused from a fear of failure, a major fear of perfectionists. In a hall of design and architecture students, this really struck a strong chord. Ways to combat it were to just to start doing something, anything to get over that initial intertia, and giving it a home in your time/space.

What I found particularly interesting was his point on creativity and structured time. He said that structing your time actually increases your creative potential, as long as you set aside time for dreaming, zoning out, brainstorming etc. I'm not sure, but I'm willing to give it a try.

There was an interesting bit about prioritzing tasks, and how people who categorized the tasks 1-3 in importance always got the 3 tasks done, but seemed to finish the 1 tasks, even though they had very high personal priority. To combat this, he recommended something he does every day, which is to write down the three most important, vital things to get done that day in the morning, and to check back and see how you're doing 4-6 times a day. I think this is a great idea. I'm going to get my whiteboard and make a three line chart.

One last thing he talked about was the system of evaluating how he did for the day using the plus/delta system. It really reminded me of dad, when he talked about plus/deltas for road trips and other things. I miss them, they'd really enjoy this 118 degree weather back in chilly (for an arizonan) weather back in Moscow.

Anyway, today on my work, I flipped through a book on prision design and fallout shelters in the 1950s-onward.

Aug 28, 2005

Pictures from the first week of school

Washing clothes at the laundromat, our pink paper tower in History of Architecture, and my desk in the studio of the architecture building.

Aug 26, 2005

first week in review

Tuesday and thursday, I went to the history of architecture lecture at 10:40, my earliest class of the week. It's taught by this thirtyish bookish guy who lookes exactly like an architectural historian. He's got brylcreamed hair with a huge side part, round glasses, and a high nasal voice. He is however, very energetic and almost manic about the subject, describing how we'd "go across the sweeping expanse of asia to see the great wall, the forbidden city, and japan" like a radio announcer talking about a grand prize vacation. Jen's also taking the class to get more of a taste of architecture. Thursday we were given an in class assignment to build a tower out of six sheets of pink paper that had to be 44 inches tall (4 sheets high). It also had to withstand a "wind test" of a sheet of paper waved in front of it. Jen and I teamed up with another archtiecture student and we built a really nice looking tower with a triangular cross section.

After that, I went to my structures class. This is interesting as its taught by a professional contractor. The downside is that he was alerted he'd be teachign the class less than a month ago, and he's never taught before. It's good because he knows so much from the real world, and how the architect-contractor relationship works, but he doesnt know what we dont know, so we have to stop him constantly to slow him down and explain terms like "kips" etc. Lots of cool engeneering stuff.

After structures comes Finding Purpose, a class that is both required in upper division, and came recommended from a friend who'd already taken it. Basically, its a class about finding your personal direction, exploring alternitives in life and your career, managing time, etc. We're taking the Myers-Briggs test next week, and apparently we also go over things like interviews, and other real-work stuff. There's virtually no homework, just a journal after each class, and the final project is a 5 page autobiography. A nice, relaxing class.

The last class of the day is Human Factors, a class on designing ergonomically and humanistically with anthropometrics. Not a whole lot of fun at this point, but we'll see how it goes.

This week, I worked 14 hours at the library, although I'm still getting the hang of closing it all down. Last night, Jen and I went to the double feature at the drive in. In the sweltering heat, we watched The 40 year old virgin and The Wedding Crashers. I was surprised about how much I actaully enjoyed both of them. Today, friday, I had no classes. Sweet. I just worked in studio for about six hours on my project.

Aug 22, 2005

Salt River Tubing and First Day of School

I spent the last day of summer doing the ultimate college break/arizona thing: I went tubing on the Salt River. I drove out with a bunch of friends from the architecture/design house (a minivan comes in handy) and one other car. There were about 10 of us, and we stopped for lunch at a Sonic on the edge of the city and for a second cooler. We drove out to the meeting point where we rented our inner tubes and hopped on a blazing hot bus for a five minute drive out to the beaching site.
It was a scorching day into 108 when we started around 1 in the arfternoon. More experianced people brought sheets they laid on the innertube as a kind of seat. We lashed the coolers to another inner tube and as a huge group, floated gently down the river. The river was mostly filled with 20-30 year olds, and most were holding cans of beer. It's a very relaxing way to meander your way, enjoying the view, working on the tan, and occationally soaking yourself to keep cool. At one point of the river, there was a small ledge that people jumped off, which seemed like a particualrly bad idea considering that the people who were doing it had had a lot to drink.
It was fun though, and we'd occationally hit "rapids" where the water level was so low, you had to raise yourself up on the tube to avoid scraping bottom. We cruised for about three hours, and waded out at the exit spot.
Also there was a young woman with her group who was nearly unconscious and vomiting, either through the effects of heat, dehydration, and booze, or more likely, all three. One of our guys ran over and helped load her onto the bus. We passed an ambulance with lights blaring on the drive back once we got back into our cars.
Today I had studio at 1:15 PM. Predictably, a bunch of people including me, showed up at 12:30. We knew when class started, we were just eager to get going. We were finally let inside and I grabbed a desk a row away from the windows so I got more natural light. It's so cool to finally get a desk. Its a status symbol, a reward for our hard work. We've earned these desks. There are 13 people in my studio, a couple people I know pretty well.
Our studio instructor is Thomas Hartman, apparently the coordinator for our entire class. He's tall, lean, and balding with glasses, looks very much the bookish professor sans a bowtie. He's reserved, but it seems like he's going to be a mild teacher, which is a double edged sword. On the one hand, he'll let you "get away" with more, but on the other, he's probably going to be less critical of your designs. He seems like a good guy though, and he knows what he's doing.
We sat around our big middle table and talked for awhile about the studio before we headed down as a class for the lecture introducuing the project.
There are to be three projects this semseter. The first one is a rectangular box 10' x 12' x 16' as a human habitation. Half of its walls have to be concrete, half framed with wood and clad with transparent material. The final project is to be at 1'=1" scale. Thats' the whole project.
The purpose of the project is experimentation with materials, aestetics, and tectonics (how a building is put togather and how that relates to the larger structure). He wants us to build big, becasue that will force us to look very materially at how a roof meets a wall, or how framed structures join the concrete. It's a fast project, barely three weeks. We actually only have 30 classes before the end of the semester.
Today (right now, actually) I've started work at the library. I'm working M, T, W from 5-10 pm. It's really quiet and I've been familiarizing myself with proceedures, browsing books, and taking a look around. There's a lot of stuff here, a phenomenal resource. This library job can only help me to familiarize myself with it.

Aug 20, 2005

My Run-In with the Law

It was one of my typical wild friday nights. Jen and I'd were driving back in the minivan after watching the 9 oclock feature of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" at Arizona Mills. The police quadruple thier presence late friday and saturday nights around ASU. One of them turned on thier lights and pulled me over. Thank heaven I'd remembered to reregister the car, so I had all the paperwork on hand for the police officer. I'd been driving with my headlights off. I hadn't noticed since the dashboard lights were on. He took my licence and registration back to his car, returned it, and let me go without a ticket and didn't even give me a warning. He probably felt bad for me, a poor student in his parents minivan, nicely dressed, just back from a kid's movie with his date. There were much bigger fish to fry.

The movie was really good, except they did some stuff with Wonka's childhood which was a little strained and completely departed from the book. It was a really intersting contrast to the original movie, much darker.

Aug 19, 2005

Art (walks) and Architecture (meetings)

Yesterday, I got up early and went to my upper division architecture meeting. I was surprised to see so many people there, until I realized they combined our class with that of the upper division landscape planning for this meeting. From here on in, its just going to be us and they're going to do thier own thing. The meeting was about two hours long, half of it was a welcome lecture by the new director, Petrucci. Right now the college is going through a transitional phase. Instead of the College of Architecture and Enviornmental Design, the college was renamed College of Design. Each section got thier own department head and we have a new director at each post.
Our new director had an interesting story about how he switched to architecture in college.
When he was going to Tulane, his dorm was separated out by floor by major, with architecture students on the top floor. One day, he was surprised to see a student standing stark naked out on the ledge screaming that it was judgement day. The director assumed he was just a religious fanatic (although all the architecture students in the audience knew what he was talking about). The poor guy jumped.
Intrigued by what was going on, he went upstairs and looked around the rooms and studios. The model making, and drawing that was going on put the hook in him, and he quit his premed studies. He ended up getting his BArch from Tulane and two masters from Harvard, the second in urban planning.

The second part was logistical stuff and stuff concerning international travel, internships, etc. We were assigned to our studios, but I'd never heard of any of the professors teaching them. Monday is the first day of classes, and that's when we get to pick desks. Hopefully, we'll avoid the mad petty rush which characterized the interior design girls.

That night, I went with Jen and her parents to the downtown Scottsdale art walk. It's still outrageously overpriced, and the only decently priced artwork is "gliche" or printed by a large format printer on canvas. I did see a gallery that had some russian stuff in it like the ones I saw at the Tetrakov in Moscow. They had a nice one of the Nodichevy convent covered in snow. When the gallery owner asked me why I liked it, they didn't belive that I'd actually been there. Afterwards, we all got ice cream at the Sugar Bowl.

Aug 17, 2005

Alec, the Librarian

All the freshmen are moving in, and you can see them everywhere with thier parents: On campus, moving into dorms, at Target, and at Safeway. It's funny and touching to watch them, parents sending thier kids away, trying to give them all the last minute advice about college, like they were never going to see them again, and buying all kinds of useless junk for thier dorm rooms. Target is really on the ball this season with a full kitchen boxed set for forty dollars, including pots, pans, knife block, cooking utensils, collanders, and salt and pepper shakers.

I bought some storage bins for my winter clothes and misc stuff. Yesterday, I hit TJ Maxx and picked up a few new button up shirts. IZOD, Perry Ellis, and a brand I'd never heard of. Jen looked at birds and bird cages, and we went around to Petco, PetsMart, and Birdworld. Birdworld is a huge store with tons of birds and cages including a macaw, a few parrots, a toucan, and a bunch of other birds. Jen bought a cage and a baby hand-fed parakeet and named it Lola. It's a pretty bird, and seems stock-still scarred of its new surroundings. Sugar, Jen's parent's dog, don't help to relax it. It'll just take some time.

Today, I went in to interview for the position at the ASU architecture library. The supervisor is a very interesting guy. He always dresses immaculately in a black suit, and has a very sunken weathered face, with long black hair. Add a top hat and he'd make a very somber undertaker.
He's nice enough though, and he really didn't ask me any questions. He took Molly's recommendation of me very seriously. I filled in a few forms, and he showed me around the library. I got the job.
The job is ideal. I am to work at the desk, shelve books, and occationally work on special library projects like cataloging special collections. It looks like I'm going to be working about 15 hours a week, most of that time I'll probably spend studying at the desk, which is fine with him.

Two days ago, my birthday/upper division enterance present arrived via UPS. Dad picked out a docking station for my laptop and a new monitor. The docking station is cool since all I have to do is stick my in my laptop, and it automatically connects to my USB lines, monitor cables, and LAN internet cables.
The monitor is amazing. It's a 19 inch screen, brilliant bright colors, and I can move my mouse from one screen to the other, allowing me to see multilple open windows at once. Really cool.

Aug 14, 2005

Sunday morning

The apartment is gradually falling back into order and cleanliness. I finished cleaning my room and bathroom, the common areas and kitchen are clean, and the only thing out of place are Ian's boxes of stuff. The weather is settling down into just being really hot and a little less humid, although it looks like we've got thundershowers coming later today.
Yesterday, I went to Sara's 5th birthday party at Sally's house. It was good to see them again, and Gabriel is talking up a storm. Sara is still a princess, and recieved a profusion of pink presents; barbies, princess dress up clothes, learning games, and acessories for her new bike. Everyone was really impressed with the Russian doll the family sent. Sally told me about the a new Chino that opened up near Gilbert, so we'll have to go there sometime soon.
Jen came back last night too, so I made her a spaghetti dinner and funfetti cake. Her condo looks really good, very modern with a bit of 1960's retro to it. She got a small barbeque grill and an outdoor umbrella, so they're going to have a really nice backyard/courtyard.
I'm surprised how much jet lag is staying with me. I keep waking up in the early morning and falling back asleep. The last two mornings, I've gotten up at six, and this morning I got up at 8. On to order books online!

Aug 11, 2005

Back in the ol' Inferno

Got home safe and sound last night around 2:00 AM. Flight from Moscow was full, and lasted at least three weeks. When I landed at JFK, it felt good being back in the best country in the world. After spending three months in Europe, I am blown away by how convienant everything is here. When I got my bags, they made announcements about a travel desk. Everything is clearly marked and people are happy to help you solve your problems.
At the AmericaWest ticket counter, a few people who joined the obviously one line looked befuddled and confused because it was a line that served BOTH the ticket counter and e-ticket check in. These people need to travel more.
America is so convienant, you can buy an electronic device that keeps your coffee hot on your commute from the seat of your airplane. Airline personell keep you updated and tell you patiently where to go and how long you'll have to wait.
Speaking of waiting, my flight to Las Vegas was delayed by an hour. Half of it, off the plane, half on while they did another mechanic check. Everyone with connecting flights in Vegas missed them, but I got to stay on the plane and continue on to Phoenix. My good luck continues.
All my bags arrived, and there was a super shuttle waiting right outside the terminal.
Phoenix is miserable. Not hot, for phoenix, its only 87 right now, but with really high humidity from all the rain they've been getting. It feels like Oklahoma, but with a higher-watt sun.
Got to sleep around 3 and woke up again around 6. Cleaned my bathroom, and started working on cleaning everything else. I left my room in a disaster. Time for a Stalinist purge.
Suki was happy to see me, and I've not seen any sulky behavior at all. She seemed happy and healthy, except her mats have spread all up her back, so I'll need to take her to a groomer I think. I need to figure out a way to transport her.
Ian is still here, in Ben's room. From the depth of suki hair on the floor, I'd have to say he's not vaccumed once in three months, so I did that this morning and changed the mail address back here.

Aug 3, 2005

Venice Pictures

Venice was a bit of a dissapointment: while it's very picturesque, there's not a whole lot to do besides tour the Doges Palace. It's hot, humid, and full of tourists. One good thing is there are no cars in venice, as there are only pedestrian paths. A negative consequence of this is that everything is really expensive. We did stay at one of the nicer hostels we've vistited, although I was kept awake at night by the mosquitos.

Aug 2, 2005

Florence pictures

Florence was cool, the home of the Renaissance. The pictures are of palazzo vecchio, the florence rooftops, and the bridges over the river.. The last picutre was from Cinque Terre, a city we did as a day trip from Florence.

Aug 1, 2005

Positano picutres

Positano is a small seaside town in southern Italy near Naples. It was one of my favorite places on this trip. The images are of both sides of the town, a cafe where we had our first dinner in town, and the last image is Pompei, the complete Roman city which was buried and preserved by the cataclysmic eruption of mt. vesuvius, seen lurking in the background.

Rome pictures

Click on the smaller pictures to see the larger ones.
From the top: me as a statue at the roman forum, hadrians villa, St. Peters, villa d'este, trevi fountain, St. Marks square, a basillican interior, St. Marks collanade, and the colluseum.

Medium is the message

I moved the blog again. I deleted the Tumblr account and moved everything to, a more writing-centric website.