Jan 31, 2006


For our benefit, the school of architecture set up a meeting where they would discuss with us all the requirements and information about our summer internships. They helpfully arranged to have it in late January in order to save us the mental strain of having more than a month to worry about getting internships. Finally, to be politically correct as possible, they adopted a non-western nonlinar chronological approach to schedule it, changing the time and date of the meeting twice in the the 48 hours before the meeting. For those who us who are not absurdists, they helpfully sent out an email two hours before the meeting letting us know that it was today, and not friday.

The astute reader will by now realize, this blogger did not make said meeting. Not to fret! Apparently, the meeting was mainly an amalgamation of personal questions, trivialities, and the like. I borrowed the paperwork from a friend when I came into studio (notified of the meeting by the sign on the door). Nothing too complicated. However- if I want to work in the valley, it means I MUST sign up for the lottery. If I want to work elsewhere, I have to have that all arranged by march 1st. I think I may be in the lottery. I'll have to talk to Rena about it.

In structures, our instructor talked about loads moving through buildings from the walls up to the roof, and reacting against the shear walls. He said at one point "You all can think in 3D, so imagine yourself in the building. Think to yourself 'If I were a load, where would I go?'" Anyway, my favorite quote of the day.

Picked up my aeroflot tickets from London to Moscow today. I felt excited just carrying them. Travel is the joy of my life.

At work tonight I hopped on the internet and looked up unfamiliar architects and buildings and histories in latin america along with our readings for my latn american design class. Finally found the guy Professor Bernardi told me about- Ricardo Castro, a Colombian professor who writes about the connection between Magic-Realism in latin american literature and modern architecture in that area. Apparently the pre-Hispanic culture (Aztecs, Incas, etc) used side entrances, instead of the western entrace along the axis. The person enterng teh building would slide into it, gradually uncovering its secrets and delights as it unfolded. He was of the opinion that a simple monumental structure would get boring with time, while really good architecture was constantly blossoming and revealing itself- architecture which seems surreal, in turn creating an awareness or belief in the magic of the everyday life.

Tip For Mom: This is a good theme in 100 Years Of Solitude, writen (surprise) by another Colombian.


I was biking home tonight thinking about the conservatism of our generation. One might say that our moderate conservatism is a reaction against the radicalism of the baby boomers, but I was suddenly struck by the thought that perhaps the gen-x and gen-y generation are more conservatve because ITS MORE CONVIENANT TO DO SO. We know we're the generation of convienance, cynicism, and instant gratificiation. Why dont we take a stand on issues? Because we're too lazy and socially comfortable. We'd rather play on our xbox 360's instead of protesting outside. The Establishment and the Sytem are our friends and allies. We use them, work within thier frameworks because they are refined, and easy to use. There aren't any more real social upheavals, and the disenfranchiezed in society either don't know or don't care. The internet is really the outlet of our generation's few frustrations. One can wear the mask of anonymenity (and use spellcheck for that matter) and rant and rave in the language of 1s and 0s. Who's still out there, Marching for a Cause? Ten to one, a boomer. We dont want to fight the establishment. They give our lives order, tell where we fit, and what to do. The cynic takes care of the rest. Why no gen x and y outcry over the existance of US secret interrogation camps? or of illegal wiretaps on private citizen's phones? Because we're not surprised by either one. Ok I'll get off my soap box.

Jan 29, 2006

Habitat For Humanity

Today I got up at 6:30 and picked up three other students from ASU. Dex, a regular from last year, a freshman girl, and Aldo, a friend of mine from studio who wanted to learn something from actual construction. Unfortunately, the build we were on was the last day before landscaping and flooring were installed. I spent half the morning nail-gunning trim to doors, and the other half painting. The nail gunning was fun, and although I dislike painting (especially with rollers), its still better than poor dex, who pretty much spent the entire time caulking. There's a lot of everything to do. They didn't provide lunch for us, I think only the second time that's ever happened to me, so we hopped in my van and found a churches chicken. We were all starving after working so hard all morning, we could hardly wait to tear into the fried chicken. We got a big 20 pc meal two big tubs of mashed potatos. I had about half a tub with gravy, three pieces of chicken, and two muffins. It was the best meal I'd had in a long time.

That's one of the things I love about working with habitat, lunch is always the best meal of the week, when you've been working hard out in the sun, you're tired and starving, and there's plenty of food out on the site. I don't know why it tastes so good, it just does. Mom would say everything tastes better outside. I was also happily surprised when dad called at the end of the lunch break from Houston. We talked for a bit, he's got as nice weather as I have, which is a small consolation for traveling halfway around the world. It's too bad his travels never take him through Phoenix. At least I'll get to see him over spring break.

Anyway, we worked long- until 2 PM. When we told the site leader that we were going, he was shocked to find out we were architecture students. He never expected to see someone with such a rigorous program out on the builds. Aldo, who'd never done this before, had a blast. We talked about geting the rest of the studio out for when they begin framing the next house. Its too bad is over in Glendale.

Another thing I like about habitat is the shower afterwards. It's like you've never really been clean before it, and you lose about a pound of dirt, paint, and sawdust from your skin and hair.

Anyway, after I got cleaned up, I went with Nickee and a few friends to see Nanny McPhee, a rather bizzare kids movie, very much like if a tranquil Tim Burton did Mary Poppins. After the movie, I went into studio at around 7 PM where I worked until about midnight on my second model. Subway for dinner. And that's my saturday night!


This morning I got up and picked up some basswood I need for my project. Unfortunately they were sold out of the standard scaled lumber so I had to buy double my width and cut it myself. After Ace Hardware, I drove up to see the canal site where we would be building our projects. It's an old part of town, with huge ancient trees planted by early settlers in the area still there. The canal water is an interesting shade of green, and rather full, so that the water level is only 2 feet from the level of the road atop the embankment. I took a lot of picutres and several minutes of video with my comments on the site. Right nearby on the canal is a tiny hydroelectric plant which spans the canal and powers about a hundred homes. This plant was cheerfully remodeled to make it more interesting for visitors, and it has some cool and interestng things- although apart from actually showing us the generators and turbines, there's really not much more they can do to add interest. The rest of the day I spent in studio, pounding out one of the two models I need to have done for monday. I left studio around 9 and spent an hour at home reading/skimming our structures reading on snow, wind, and seismic loads. Tomorrow I have to get up at 6:3o for habitat. It's good for the soul.

Jan 26, 2006

The Origin of Exposure C

Today in structures we talked about wind load in designing buildings. Wind load is essentially how much the wind pushes against a building. It is defined in the UBC (universal building code) in a complex equation based on five wind variables. The newer code, the IBC (international building code) has an even more bizzare way of calculating the wind load. Anyway, one of the variables in the calculation is based on the exposure of the site, ranked A-D. A apparently no longer exists, as it's never used in the real world. In magical A land, the structure is surrounded by massive towers on every side so no wind can get through at all. B is a standard urban setting, and D is out by the shoreline, where its really windy. The highter the exposure rating, the more stringent the code and the stronger the building has to be.

Urban Phoenix is inexplicably designated class C exposure, which is equivilant to the open plain with no buildings around. When our structures teacher inquired as to why this was, the planners told him ( I am not making this up) it was becasue what if all the other buildings around the building fell down.

Anyway, thought that was kind of funny. Got a busy weekend lined up.

Lecture with Eames

Whew, what a week its been so far.

Not having the van has been a bit of a hardship- nothing too major, but I'm glad I have it back. I picked it up from the body place yesterday. The door looks it came right out of the factory. I threw my bike in the back and drove it home. The manufacturer's "Maintenance Required" light finally went out. I think it gave up on me. I'm still going to take it in to have the "check engine" light taken care of. I'm glad I've got my scholarship check and my paycheck- after paying the deductable, I'll need them to cover rent.

Classes are going fine- except for our studi0. While our studio teacher's intentions are good, its just more hand-holding - with a grade attached. Yesterday, he called us togather and told us to stop what we were working on and do a project for monday. He said he was happy with the efforts of about 1/3rd of us. Yay team. He said that we were focusing way too much on the structural problem of the bridge, and not focusing on the phenomenological aspects (light/shadow, rythm, balance, proportion, rhyme, poetry, harmony, peace, romance, blah blah blah). While I agree that many people in our studio have been focusing mostly on the structural problems, I think that the best way to change the direction people are working to just tell us that we're to focus more on the experiantial properties, and not to worry so much about structure.

Our studio was assigned a project to create two basswood models at 1/2" scale of 20' sections of our model. Then we are to photograph them in ways which highlights the aspects we are trying to convey, and explore the possibilities and opportunites it presents us. We're supposed to focus on everything except the primary structural system (i.e. how the bridge makes the span). This idea is fine unless you want to include the spanning structure as part of the poetry of the project. While I agree that this is a good way to go about thinking about what you want the project to feel like, to make it mandatory and graded I think is a waste of time. None of the other studios will do this project. On the other hand, this will generate more processwork for our final, and the level of craft combined with the basswood (expensive!) should create some sexy models.

Looking over what I'd just written, I realized that few other college students would think about basswood miniatures when hearing the words "sexy model."

Last night, I went to the first spring architecture lecture. I specifically requested that I not work wednesday nights so I would be able to attend these. Last night's lecture was on Charles and Ray Eames, presented by their grandson, Eames Demetrios.

When I got there, the massive lecture hall was packed. I found a few friends from my old studio and we all sat down on the floor in front of the stage. We actually had a great view from the peanut gallery, although the two hours on the ground did nothing for our rears.

The lecture was very interesting. The Eames had a wide range of interests, and were always looking at the serious side of fun. They made about 100 short films, most well known being "powers of ten" which showed an aerial shot of picnicers, then zoomed out to view the entire universe, then zoomed back in to see an atom. They are best known for thier furnature, and probably least known for thier design of the gate seating at Sky Harbor airport. The metal and black seats which have been there since before I've been flying, I've never thought twice about. I'll have to take another look when I head out ot Colorado next month.

Speaking of travel, I'm happy to have finalized my plans for spring break- London, Moscow, and Kiev! STA travel took about ten minutes to arrange everything for me, and they did it cheaper than I would have been able to.

Constant reader, I apologize for this lengthy entry. It's been a busy week.

Jan 21, 2006

a most curious incident

Today in my room, I suddenly and without warning found myself exempt from the law of gravity. I confess I was confounded, but as such an unprecented incident would cause disbelief in the most innocent person, I resolved, forthwith, to capture evidence of the evening's bizzare events. I managed to float over to the camera and snap a picture, but I found to my great dismay that as I did not touch the ground I could not comport myself in my usual custom.

I floated over to the kitchen, knocking my head against my door lintel on the way. My feline, Suki was most distratught and preturbed at my hovering figure and fled into her new kitty condo.
In the kitchen, I investigated the flourescent light fixture. I was amazed, when, picking up a box of breakfast cereal left out, that the cardboard container began to float with me as well! As fantastic as these claims are, I present the most scrutinizing viewer with undeniable photographic evidence.

However, I soon tired of my airporne composure, and spent a rather banal and unenlightening hour reading Newton's Principa Mathematica while hovering over the living room until, with as much warning as its onset, I violently found myself in the thrall of gravity and landed hard upon the carpeted floor.

concerning bridges

Friday I built a scale model of a simple truss bridge and today I made a computer model of another similiar one. I want to have a huge overhang not only for the shade, but because it will let the crazy wavy reflections from water project onto a surface.

Also today I did some laundry. When I got back, the lady next door gave me a cat condo for suki, as the cat had moved on with the woman who used to live next door. We're still not sure what happened to her. With all the ambulences coming so frequently and the nurses daily, she probably moved into an care facility. Anyway, I brushed out all the old cat fur and sprayed it down with fabreeze. We'll see if Suki takes a liking to it.

Jan 20, 2006

Market Share

Just a quick post. I thought I had reached a interesting milestone. If you google the words alec perkins, my blog is the number one site, with two more about me in the first six listed. This, no doubt, is due to the relative rarity of my full name, and the fact that the credits for "Cats&Dogs" lists Perkins Alec in reverse order. Still, it does indicate that more people are linking to my site. My viewing stats are still low from my long break, and I can't touch mom's blog in that area either. Anyway, time for breakfast and then off to studio.

The Music Addenendum

Between classes I went over to the music library to browse thier selections. They have a massive CD collection, although I would say is 95 percent classical and opera. They do have some more interesting CDs mixed in there, and with my ASU ID, I was able to check out as many as I wanted.
Let me step back a bit. The majority of ASU students aren't even aware that there is a music library. I knew it existed, and it still took me a while of hunting to find it. For those people who do searches for the ASU MUSIC LIBRARY and find my blog, its located on the third floor of the music hall which looks like a wedding cake. The signage is terrible.

Anyway, I picked up a few CDs my collection was lacking:

Jesse Cook's Free Fall
The best of John Lee Hooker
Beatles Let it Be
Beatles Abbey Road
Beatles Hard Day's Night
Tosca with Pavarati
Madame Butterfly with Pavarati
Turendot with Pavarati
and Pure Disco, a compilation of the most enduring hits of the 70's.

I popped that in our stero and blasted YMCA and Funkytown while I made fish for dinner after getting off of work. Right now I'm just enjoying the variety of music. I really confused the heck out of the librarian who checked all the music out to me.

Jan 19, 2006

Long day

My latin american design class nearly doubled in size. It's a bit intimidating with five or six graduate students in the class, and all the architecture students in higher levels of the program. Half the class is also interior design students. We looked at a lot of slides today, mostly concerning the Arab presence in Spain. One might wonder what that has to do with Latin American design. However, before Spain was ever unified as a kingdom, before it could develop a national identity, it was under the ocupation of the Moors (Muslims) for more than 400 years. Thus, the slow reconquering of the iberian peninsula took place, until the main Catholic Kings of the territories won from the Moors united and pushed the Moors all the way to their final stronghold, the Alhambra in Grenada. They left a cultural legacy which became integral with the Spanish national identity. One has only to look at the alhambra's use of tile, interior courtyards, water features, arcades, and bioclimatic architecture to see mainstays in what became "spanish" architecture. When the Spaniards came to the new world, they brought that Christian-Moorish fusion with them, where over time it combined with African slave influences and indiginous culture to become an entirely new and modern culture.

Interesting reading in that class. Makes me want to re-read 100 Years of Solitdude and Bless Me, Ultima. I need to go back and finish the Motorcycle Diaries of Che.

History of architecture: II The Empire Strikes Back was pretty boring, as we reviewed the last time period we covered in the class last semester. As we don't have any new students in the class, and he confessed it wouldn't be necessary to know for our final, I considered it a waste of time. Structures was also more review. I was a bit confused at first, but quickly remembed how to calculate sheer and moment in beams.

I've been using my ipod a lot on the bike from home to school and between classes. Between our history class and structures, we have a two-hour break. I spent mine toying with bits of wood thinking about bridges. One way to solve a problem in architecture is to ask the right question. I started by asking "what makes a bridge fun?" and proceeded from there.

Anyway, after finishing Heavy Words Lightly Thrown, a book on the origin of nursery rhymes, I became intrigued with the british use of rhyming slang. For instance, in the movie Ocean's 11, the black british "technology" guy said "we're in a load of barney. Barney Rubble. Trouble." Explaining his slang to the Americans. It is clear to me now that half of the dialogue in the movie Snatch is rhyming slang. Apparently is a very underclass type of slang, Cockney and used mostly in London. It has also worked its way into the American lexicon of slang, although as Americans we have no idea what we're actually rhyming, nor are we aware of rhyming.

For instance, the epithet "tart" is actually a degraded term from the British Cockney "Jam Tart" which is rhyming slang for "Sweetheart." Facinating stuff, I know. Ok, time to shelve some books.

Jan 18, 2006

The Studio Deal

Had a leisurly breakfast before heading off to class at 12:45 in the afternoon. I was surprised to find myself in the same studio room as before. It breaks down like this: there are 48 students in the program split into three rooms. They told us that we were separated and placed into our studios to get a wide varieties of GPA, gender, race, etc. All I know is that they moved about 3/4 of each class to a new studio and gave them a one teacher, while the other quarter was left behind and joined by a new 3/4 from another studio and given another teacher.

Myself I'm in the same room, one desk over from where I worked last semester. It's not a bad room, its the only one with a couch and easy chair. We got the shaft on the studio teacher though. It was downhill after Professer Hartman anyway. Out of the two studio teachers we could have had, I got the "worse" one.

Our studio is five hours long. He wants to know where you are for the entire time span, and he wants you working that entire time. The other think is that he's the guy who loves work. His class last semester spent a ton of overtime working on numerous study models, regardless to whether or not they really needed them. I've got the hunch he likes being a slave driver to get us used to doing repetative iterative work like we will at our future jobs. For example. We got our first project today. Part of the project packet is a diagram at 1/8" scale. For monday he wanted us to draw it at 1/4" scale. Why? No clue. He also wanted a study model. It's going to be a very long semester.

Our first project looks like fun, though. We have to design a pedestrian bridge to span a 60' canal in Phoenix. It's supposed to be made out of wood beams and planks, no cladding material (like glass, plywood, steel, masonry) allowed. We're to incorporate our knowlege of wooden structures to make sure that its stucturally feasable and sound. It goes without saying that it should be poetic, elegent, and creative. It's also due in four weeks, a pretty rapid timeline.

Tonight I went out to eat with Nickee at Oreganos, a really pretty good, cheap Italian place near ASU. She's been doing well, has a house with two roomies near campus. She's taking nursing now at a community college, and still working for Trader Joes, although she's been looking for work in the medical community. I saw Jason while I was there, and told him my parents had asked about him. His hair is still short, and he works on motorcycles.

Enough for now. Time for bed.

Jan 17, 2006

First Day of School

I dropped the van off at the body shop this morning and biked to my first class at noon.

Latin American Design
This class is taught by Jose Bernardi, an Argentinian professor and architect. I was pleasantly surprised when he introduced himself to us individually before class. He's been preparing to do this class for the past three years and really excited about it. I think from now on I'm going to stick with classes with teachers who are really passionate about their subjects. They just end up being much better. Anyway, this class looks really facinating as it deals with understanding Latin American identity and influences along their history of design and architecture.

History of Architecture II ...Back to the History
A continuation from last semester's history of architecture, a fairly intense introduction to world architecture since 1200 AD up into modernity. We are fortunate have our professor reprise his role as orator, facilitator, and romaphile, although he lost about half of the students who are not architecture majors.

Structures II: The Engineering Strikes Back
Also reprising his role as Darth Contractor, we will be taught more stuctural engineering, focusing on wood construction, with more complex beam structures and collumns. Our textbook for this class, focusing on wood construction engineering, is more than two inches thick. The bookstore on campus sells it for $90, but I picked up an almost new copy online for $50.

Now I'm just working in the library, shelving books listening to my iPod, doing my readings for the Latin American Design class. There is one patron in the entire library. At least I get to work with Molly, a friend of mine from studio. Tomorrow comes studio.

Jan 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Jr. Day- No school

Every Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I read one of his speeches or letters. Today I read "Letter from Birmingham Jail," a lengthy bit of corrospondance he wrote to the leaders of his church who had publicly condemned his actions in the nonviolent protests in the city. In the response he said "More basically I am in Birmingham because injustace is here....Injustice anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere." It's an inspiring peice of writing.

He's a link to the full text of the letter.

Last night, Ben came back to the apartment. He called up some friends of his and people I knew back from the dorms and we just decided to drive somewhere. It was a little past midnight when we set out in Ian's car, and we picked the beeline highway and started driving. Ben was the acting DJ in the front seat, and I was crammed in the back with two other friends. It was peaceful, almost meditative, driving through the high desert and mountains with the cloudy skies illuminated by the bright full moon. We drove all the way to Payson where we stopped at a gas station for snacks. There was snow on the ground up there. We turned around and drove back, getting back to Phoenix a little after 3 AM. It was very surreal.

Today I bought an iron and an ironing board from Target, and picked up some notebooks for school tomorrow.

Jan 13, 2006

The Night-Time Knocker

There is going to be some serious heck to pay in the apartment above mine. Last night, I was awakened by someone knocking at thier door around four in the morning. This knocking grew from a few polite knocks to a volley of hammering. The first mystery was, if you were concerned about waking your neighbors, why space it out and gently escalate the knocks over a long period of time? After about half an hour of knocking (there's NO ONE there or they're all passed out drunk) she gave up and fell instantly back to sleep. In the morning when I got up at about 9:30, there was an extremely miserable looking shoeless young woman sitting on the curb. I'll bet that night won't make her top ten. I lent her my phone so she could make a call before I went to work.

Work was predicably boring for the most part. I inventoried, catalogued, and began processing on all the damaged books we had behind us on the damaged shelf. The one supervisor is back after about two months in the hospital and recuperating at home from illness. He's as skeletal and talkative as ever. Always wears a black suit to work.

One of the other guys I work with who has been working there awhile got a promotion. He's now classified as "part-time staff" in charge of the periodicals. The only difference I see is he's wearing slacks and a button up shirt, and he gets to work on one of the computers in the back so library patrons can't interrupt his surfing guitar websites.

Later in the day, my history of architecture professor came in, and we talked a bit about the architecture history/theory cirriculum, which was interesting. Despite the fact that his last final exam was the hardest test any one of my friends had taken in years, he thought it was straightforward and easy. He also made a question involving a joke concerning "the parthenon" in Rome.

Anyway, picked up some chicken and biscuits at Safeway and had those for dinner. Should be good for a few more meals. Tomorrow, I'm heading out for more habitat work. At least they're having us meet down there at 8:30 instead of earlier.

Jan 12, 2006

Trainer Jet with Stand


Last night, I read Survivor, the book Ben got me for Christmas. I was surprised to read that this was the same guy who wrote the book Fight Club. It's got the same gritty, bizzare, desperate feel, the same absurdist attitude. It opens with a hijacker planning his own airplane crash after letting all the passengers and crew off, with him talking to the black box to explain how he got there. Interesting and fun read. I couldn't put it down until I'd finishd it five hours later.

I read this morning about a stampede that killed 345 muslims during the Hajj pilgrimage. This seems to happen almost every year. There's a certain part of the Hajj where they throw stones at three low walls representing the devil. For some historical reason, its located a a bridge. The thousands of thousands of pilgrms are crammed up there and trapped. What caused this deadly stampede? Some luggage fell of the back of a truck and some people tripped. I can understand the sacred symbolism of location and site, but why not open it up a bit? the bridge is over a major road. Just reroute the road. The bridge is almost sadistic as people just as frequently topple over the edge as become trampled. Sad, sad, sad.

Suki seems to be more needy than usual. I don't know if that's because she's on a diet and trying to win my good graces, or what. It's impossible to do anything without her jumping up next to me, or trying to sit in my lap.

Jan 10, 2006

Under the Tucson Sun

Had a busy last few days. Monday morning, I found someone had listed a bike for $35 in the student classifieds. I can afford to have that stolen once a semester. I called the guy up and walked over to take a look. It's a women's Fuji mountan bike, with grip shifters. The back tire was shot, but it was in working condition and the guy threw in a shackle U lock, aparently the only things which foil theives. I biked to a local bike shop and pickd up a stock tire. I've got the whole rear wheel disassembled, and I still need to pick up an inner tube for it, after I accidently punctured the existing one trying to get the tire on.

Anyway, I found out that school starts for the Tucson people at Uof Arizona this wednesday, so I left Tempe around 2 PM. It's a pretty quick drive, and I drove straight through to the San Xavier mission as Cassie works until 10 PM at night. San Xavier is the best maintained Franciscan mission in the Southwest. I got there around four, just as the light was begining to get really nice with the sun going down, and I hung around there for awhile, sketching, taking pictures, reading, and grabbing some indian fry bread from a sole vendor under a cactus spine veranda. The smoke you can see in the one picture comes from the woman extinguishing the cooking fire.

After sunset, I drove back into town and spent a few hours at Bookmans before finding some dinner and driving out to Cassie's apartment. We spent a few hours talking and hanging out with Kevin, Cassie's boyfriend and a friend of mine from school.

This morning, we went to IHOP for a late breakfast. After I left Cassie's I went to the Pima Air and Space Museum. This is a really cool air and space museum, the biggest I've ever seen, and reportedly the biggest privately funded collection in the world. Walking around amid all the planes out there in the dirt is very surreal, almost out of a movie. Most of the tourists there chose to pay five and take the tram which drives you around the place. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of these tourists looked like they flew these planes at one time, or were married to someone who had.

A few highlights: an SR-71 blackbird WITH an accomapning drone, which looks like one blackbird engine with its own swept wings, the "Superguppy" transport used by NASA to carry rocket componants, a few Air Force One planes including one used by Kennedy and the one the Tehran captives were returned in, an Iraqi fighter jet, and the ceremonial swords the Japanese handed over during the signing of the surrender on the USS Missouri. I ended my visit with a ride on the motion simulator which simulated flying a bunch of old planes. Major cheese-fest, but still kind of corny fun. Drove back and stopped off at Dairy Queen halfway between Tucson and Phoenix. School starts in a week.

Jan 8, 2006

Beyond napster and dictionary,com

In the last few years I've found myself becoming more interested in electronic music. While I initially disdained it as a bunch of throbbing backbeat techno, there's really a wide variety of electonic music from funky acid jazz to slow hypnotic trip-hop and trance. But everyone has differnet tastes. Its the exploration which is the important thing.

Forget napster, and swapping files online. While iTunes is good for what you hear on the radio, the freshest sound is available free online. These websites are places where bands can upload thier music to be streamed or downloaded. It's also a place where they can attract a fan base and post announcements of concerts. What I like to do is go to the charts to see what's most popular and what's moving up the ranks. One can browse by all types and subtypes of music. Predicably, most of the music is pretty cutting edge, lots of industrial, electronic, rock, rap, and reggae. Still, you never know what you're going to hear.





The site I've used the most is soundlift.com, although there's a band called Tallyhall which has a "wonky rock" sound and website at www.tallyhall.com . They're actually a band of college students with colored ties and a gorilla costume. I like thier "Banana man" song the best.

The other interesting thing I've found online is wikipedia.org. While I wouldn't cite it as a source for a doctorate thesis, it's got almost everything one can thing of in exhuastive detail limited only by the energies of the people who read it or have interest in it. It's the only encyclopedia I've found which can keep up with new slang and trends.

What do these two have in common? wiki.

Clubbing with Barkley

What a night. Chase and I grabbed a bite to eat at the Indian food restaurant near my apartment. We then drove out The Phoenician because I'd never been there before, and we figured, hey why not? Walked around there, right into a corporate event: Celebrity Look-Alike Ball. I saw Joliet Jake, the Stapler guy from Office Space, and Napoleon Dynamite. We tried to get into the bar at Mary-Elanes, but they didn't allow Chase to go in with jeans. It's just as well, as I'm sure drinks there would have been comparible to the ones at Monte Carlo. We stopped to admire the pool and the main entry, then pressed on.

Next stop was James Hotel in Old Town Scottsdale, a trendy boutique hotel which opened only a few years ago. We stopped at the j bar there and stayed awhile. It was really packed. The decor at night is really cool. They had some really interesting lighting effects.

Our last stop was the Valley Ho, which had just reopened its doors after a massive renovation a few weeks ago. Valet service only, packed with people, and we passed basketball legend Charles Barkley once inside. Very happening place. Chase and I got a drink and talked for awile. He's taking his business is a slightly new direction, setting up a reservation service like expedia except for adventure sports. To write the software for this database, Chase (who is my age) has hired on two student interns from the advanced computing program at Boulder. He's paying them, and the school is letting him give the students credit. He still needs a slogan though. Any suggestions? Anyway, we stayed at the bar until about midnight, and then Chase dropped me off back home.

Jan 7, 2006

Busy days

I think I've sucessfully driven away all my regular readers with my hiatus. I've just not felt like blogging lately. Needed to get the last entry out of the way.

Yesterday, I got up at 4 AM after a restless night of sleep on a couch two inches too short to let me lay flat out. As we drove to the airport in the dark, I was reminded of our flight from Oklahoma. I said goodbye to my family and helped them with the sixteen tons of luggage, then I drove back to my apartment and slept from six AM to 11.

Later, I went to the scottsdale library and paid my fine. On the way back I dropped off my old unwanted clothes at Goodwill and picked up a casual blazer. They're all size small, which is great for me. I got a Botany 500 sport coat, charcoal and 100% wool. Paid six dollars for it. Also got a basket for all my remotes.

Last night, I met Whitney, Emily, and Janelle for dinner at Pizzaria Uno on Mill avenue. We all used to have english togather in HS. Whitney is going to England for a semester, and I went along with them to watch Janelle get an "industrial" which is a bar through two parts of the ear.
We came back here and watched a movie and talked for awhile.

This morning I got up at 6:45 AM and drove all the way out to Glendale to work for Habitat for Humanity. I was assigned to do lot clean up along with two other guys. They had a big flatbed truck and they squeezed us all in there. The driver was an electrician for Habitat who loved sports and had the kind of sunburned, weatherbeaten face one gets from a lifetime in the sun. The guy jammed on my left was a young hispanic, with his first daughter on the way who does autocad work at a small architecture firm which does custom homes in North Scottsdale. They guy smashed agianst the door was a man from Burundi with a family of eight. He was putting in his "sweat equity" required by habitat to get a house. He proudly pointed out the foundations of his house as we drove by.

We spent the morning clearing a huge lot. Earlier crews had bagged garbage and debris in black plastic bags, so one load was just the bags. The next three loads were several trees which had been taken down and cut up, along with an unbeleivle amount of leaves, bark, and other building garbage. It took us about four hours to clear the site. We got gloves, but I scratched my arms up and got a few smacks in the face by flying branches.

I don't really consider it a sucessful work day without a little blood, anyway. It's a good feeling, boots, paint-stained jeans, old tee shirt, dust covering everyting, outside, using your muscles. Papa Johns Pizza for lunch provided for free.

I got a call from Tumi that my luggage was ready to be picked up out on the site, so I decided to just take camelback over as I was on that latitude anyway. I drove over and marched through the luxury mall with my filthy, sweatstained clothes and baseball cap, shaking lose dust with every step. I wonder what they thought, when I went into Tumi, paid my money and picked up the suitcase.

Anyway, the best thing about Habitat is the shower you take afterwards. I grabbed a snack and watched The Last Samurai for the rest of the afternoon. Tonight, Chase and I are hitting town.

Jan 4, 2006

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The Good:
I'm spending time with my family.
Tay and I hung around Mill and spent the night watching SouthPark.
I've got time off to relax and do nothing.
Mom in clothes shopping overdrive = new wardrobe
My amazing new ipod nano.

The Bad:
My family leaves Thursday.
Suki is overweight.
The bike my extremly generous friends lent to me was stolen (second one this season).
I'm giving up on biking to class, as there is no apparent way to prevent its theft.

The Ugly:
I lost my grandfather to lung disease.
My girlfriend and I broke up.

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...