Feb 28, 2006


Another long day (surprise, dear reader). Went into studio early to compile all my info on the history of swimming. I took my mandate of history of swimming broadly, finding articles on Roman baths, the history of the swimming strokes, the swimming events in olympics, and even ranging as far abroad as current issues in pool use programming and the Aquatic Aped Theory in human evolution. The studio is being run like a mini-office, with our studio teacher as the manager. This is ok, except he has a tendancy to assign us a lot of work other studios aren't doing, and to micromanage. He split the class in half- one half covered the program (what goes into a pool complex) and the other half did a site analysis. Wednesday we present and compile our findings into an ultimate class reference. I've got some cut and fill diagrams and a few summaries of the pages I found to contribute. Those diagrams I spent an hour after work working on until 11 PM or so.

We're almost out of food here. I'm going survival grocery shopping tomorrow on a limited budget- I can't afford to have that Buenos Aires check bounce. Plus we do have some good ingrediants for stews.

Sheilds are holding at 87%. At least I've still got my sense of humor.

Studio presentation wednesday, Structures midterm thursday, History paper due in one week. At least I've got it and my prelim research read. A week from this thursday I hop an evening jet for London and Moscow. The travel scholarship guy emailed me back. Said he was looking into reschduling the dates. So we'll still see. Hopefully he'll reschedule after the break instead of before.

It's hard but exciting right now on the cusp of so much to do. I don't think I've been under this much stress since sophomore year. I can see the other side of the hill though, or at least the part of the hill that's not as steep.

Disturbing dream last night- wrote it down on my nova blog.

Feb 26, 2006

Reorganization time

It's time to begin re-structuring my life. In six months I will be living in Buenos Aires, a trip I'll be primarily funding, and critically applying the skills I've learned so far in my career of architecture. Restructuring began last friday, when I reorganized my room and created 30 pounds of stuff to take to Goodwill. The rest of the semester will be a literal and figural slimming down as I reduce my sheer quantity of STUFF.

I wrapped up taxes, fafsa, etc already, and today I sorted and cleaned out my papers. I first takled my filing cabinet, tossing folders of high school english and physiscs homework, then moved on to wipe out my inbox, a milk crate filled to the brim. All of that I sorted, filed, and trashed. I created a yard sized garbage bag of papers and junk- everything from recipts of ATM transactions last week to a beat up street guide to Budapest.

All of this junk I carried out in my giant sack to toss in the dumpster. It was so heavy, I decided to swing it up, and into the dumpster. Mid-swing, the bag seams tore and all 20 pounds of the papers and garbage flew everywhere except in the dumpster. I laughed everything strewn about me, and spent ten minutes cleaning it up, picking up every last piece of paper.

Now onto organizng my finance$.

Feb 24, 2006

The Secret Scholarship

OK, let's see where we are: taxes- done, FAFSA- filed (still needs to be sent to ASU), so looking pretty good there.

After working late cleaning my room last night I got up and finished putting all my junk away. I have a lot of stuff. Way too much stuff. I did generate a sizable goodwill donation of stuff however, so its a start. At 3:30 I went to the IPO study abroad 101 thing, which was mostly filled with freshman. Just an hour long, not too bad. Dropped off ID photos, the two forms I needed, and the check. Got back home, feeling more on track, and then got a monkeywrench in the works in my email inbox.

On top of, or rather, behind, everything else I've been doing lately, I put togather a travel proposal for a travel scholarship of $3000 offered by the local AIA chapter to 3rd years. It took one night at work and a bit of the morning to do, interspacing it with studying for my history of architecture exam that day. I figured if it was offered to only 48 4th year students, at best only a quarter would apply, as it was 5 pages long requiring a budget, timetable, and two short essays, so I submitted mine and forgot about it, because hey, I've always wanted to go to Japan, and you miss 100% of the shots you never take.

Fast forward to today, I'm one of the four finalists. I'm friends with all three other people. We're supposed to present our travel proposal in front of a committee. The winner will be selected based on the presentation, the travel objectives, personality, and enthusiasm. Everything but the enthusiasm I'm pretty well covered on. The complication is that the meeting takes place on March 10th. Elation turns to dread as I flip through my calender. Yup. I'll be in London.

I threw togather a quick decision flow diagram. First I shot an email over to the person who runs the whole thing asking if it would be possible to meet the comittee earlier. No excuse offered, just simple question. I then called up STA travel who booked the thing and asked if I could move my flight to london up a day. No deal, its a non-exchangable, non-changable, non-smoking flight. I even went to the BA website and tried there, but they said my itenary was set in stone. I havn;t tried calling BA yet, but I bet I know their answer.

If they can meet me earlier, I'll do it, if not, I'll apologize and tell them they need to select another student's proposal. If I would be able to change my flight, its a trade off between seeing my friend in London, and a 1 in 4 chance of landing the scholarship. And it would mean a lot more hassle and paperwork.

My proposal, by the way, was to spend 3 weeks in Japan, exploring the idea that the ideals of modernism were present in ancient Japanese architecture. I had fun planning the trip at any rate. If they won't see me earilier, then I'll make that trip someday, just not right now. I am truly spoiled and blessed with the opportunites to travel and see the world as it is, so I won't be too devistated. Part of me also wants to let someone else take the adventure. We'll see.

erg almost six and I've still done nothing towards my paper due the 7th! Its friday night, so you know what that means: homework!

Feb 23, 2006

Working the plan...

Doing better in Structures. Today we had a pop quiz in class. Yes, this is the second day in a row of pop quizzes. I did much better this time, getting the right answer at the last minute. The problem was simple, identify the maximum amount of weight per foot on a beam, but figuring out the process of coming up with the right answer was tricky. I also had trouble converting between kips and pounds and feet and inches, when they are combined in units like kips per square foot, pound-feet, etc. Once I'd nailed the process, and figured out my units, the problem took literally three five minutes. I got the right answer! So hopefully this balances out my horrendous last pop quiz.

Lets see. Still not getting much sleep. Had macaroni and cheese for dinner last night and lunch today. I cant think of anything more rubbery than left over mac and cheese. Finished my taxes yesterday, and almost done with the FAFSA, so that is on track, just need to make sure that I get my proof of scholarship over to the IPO people whenver it gets back to ASU. March 1st is coming... oh and a week from today we have a midterm in structures. March 7th we have a big paper due on the workds of Palladio and Sinan the architect- you over in the Heroic Fatherland may know him as the architect of the Suleyman mosque.

So- more work for tonight- researching the history of pools for studio, and reading my history text on palladio and sinan so I have some vauge idea of context and understanding them. I've got a pot pie from home waiting in the freezer here, and nothing but time on my hands. Time to get cracking.

Feb 21, 2006


The trip to Boulder was awesome, but now I'm completely overwhelmed. In studio yesterday we were assigned some drafting for wednesday, I spent the evening studying for the exam. Went to bed at midnight and up again at 8 for more last minute cramming. The exam was ok. I probably got a high B or low A. I'm not thrilled with my essay and I missed the dates on one the slides depicting a Spanish conquerer's map of Tenochtitlan in Mexico. Spent the break after that working on structures homework until I realized I was completely lost with only half an hour to go. I borrowed a friend's homework and copied it down. He doesn't grade homework anyway, just looks to make sure an effort was made. It was more important to me to see how it was done anyway. In structures, we had a pop quiz, which I completely bombed, getting only part of three right. I can't tell you how much I hate this feeling of being totally overwhelmed and lost. I wanted to leave class. These next seven days will have manifold consequences and benefits for the rest of the year, but its a struggle to do everything, even with a clear and broken down set of tasks at specific times. Such high drama. I'll do what I can and I'll make it.

Feb 19, 2006

Saturday was a really busy day. Due to the extreme cold, Chase's power supplier had rolling blackouts, so the power was out all morning. We caught the bus to downtown Denver, a ride which took about an hour. We walked around LoDo (an area of upscale lofts) and then found a really cool bookstore. We then walked around to the exhibition center where two elderly women at the information desk gave us coupons and recommended a diner. We walked around for awhile, hunting down the elusive diner. Sam's3 was a really cool, jam packed diner. Had chicken fried steak with gravy, eggs, french toast and coffee.

I started this post in colorado yesterday afternoon. I had a 7 AM flight back to phoenix, so I had to get up at 4 this morning. I'm at work now, until 10 PM. I have a history exam, structures homework, and a travel scholarship proposal all due tomorrow. Needless to say, I'm very stressed out and irritable. This is really unfortunate because I some really good news today and I wanted to enjoy it. They accepted all 26 students into the semester abroad program. I'm going to Buenos Aires in the fall of 2006. The only caveat is that they decided that the college is no longer to cover the program fees for the undergrads, as the graduate students have much higher fees. This adds $1500 to the total cost of the trip, which is a considerable chunk of change. This is on top of the $350 for the International Program Office registration fee, the $200 visa fee, and the $1200 a round trip ticket is going to cost. The good news is that I can still pay the asu tuition stuff with my scholarship money.

Ok, now I feel a little better. Time to get cracking. One step at a time.... one step at a time....

Boulder is cooler than Telluride

By a lot. While it was 8 degrees fahrenheit here in Boulder, it was in the 30's over in Telluride.
Took my final class on thursday and biked home to pick up the super shuttle to the airport for my 8:30 PM flight. The flight was full, and delayed 30 minutes- so I called Chase to let him know what was up. The flight was a little over an hour long. When I arrived in Denver, Chase told me about how to get to Boulder, as the bus to the airpot had just completely drove by him without stopping. It was pretty simple, as I've traveled all around europe how to figure out what bus to take. The bus ride was over an hour long out to Boulder. I arrived at the stop with all the snow on the ground around 12:30 AM where Chase was waiting. Short walk to his house from there.

He lives in an amazing house, with hardwood floors, a wooden porch, a gas jet fireplace which is started by a switch on the wall. The huge basement is outfitted with a DLP projector they picked up on ebay for $500, and so they use an entire wall as a12' long screen for watching tv and movies. Unfortuantely, they didnt have any furnature down there, as the fourth roomate had just moved out and taken her stuff for unknown reasons. I was able to sleep in her old room on a matress, so no cold sofas for me. The kitchen is large and decked out with current brushed stainless steel dishwasher, microwave, electric stove, etc. Marble countertops. The rooms are all on the second floor. Chase has the biggest room, with an en-suite bath. He keeps everything in the house immaculately clean and organized. It is the antithesis of my lamentable housekeeping style.

The two other guys he lives with are partners in his company, and they actually have an office downstairs. He's making real progress with the business, working with an accountant, an intern web developer, 25 adventure sports companies, and having the account cards made in India. He's getting pretty close to lauching the whole thing- all he needs is a coder for setting up the database and money transactions.

Anyway, yesterday we did Boulder, touring campus, and downtown Boulder. Boulder is pushed right up against the rockies, with an amazing mountain ridge called the Flatirons just at the foothills of the Rockies. The campus is all done in this Tuscan style-y with concrete columns and red flagstone cladding. All the buildings are done this way. It feels much more like a sterotypical eastern university than ASU. But as an architecture major, I am glad we have the variety of styles, eras, and materials on our campus. There's a lot more green space at CU Boulder too. Under all the snow, it was very picturesque.

I'm freezing over here. Chase warned me that it was the coldest its ever been in Boulder, but I still forgot to bring my hiking boots and long underwear. I did bring a sweater and my Moscow down parka, which has kept me pretty warm.

CU reminds me bit of ASU, except the student union reminds me of a ski lodge. After we left the school, we walked around pearl street, which is a combination of Mill Avenue and Scottsdale Fashion Square. Some interesting, upscale shops. Stopped in and had a bite of sushi for snack at a place called Hapa, a playful sushi restaurant. The menu features a transformer on the cover, and the special rolls are given sexually suggestive names. Chase and I split the Multiple Orgasm roll, and the Shiso Honi roll ( I didnt get it until I said it out loud). It was really pretty cheap for sushi and absolutely delicious. They really push the envelope in terms of new forms and preparations of sushi.

We grabbed some tea over at a local tea store and Chase met up with up with a potential coder for his programming needs. The guy seemed pretty on the level and had done the kind of thing Chase wanted before. It still strikes me funny that Chase and Co. now have an intern and will soon have a coder a few years older than they are working for them.

After a bit more walking around, we got too cold and went back home where we made a vauge stir fry from everything in the freezer and watched the simpsons downstairs on the big screen wall. The only problem with the projector is that the bulb is going, and to buy a new bulb would cost as much as they originally bought the whole unit.

More on the today's trip to Denver later.

Feb 16, 2006

What's new, Buenos Aires

Mom made mention in her latest blog about my upcoming move to Buenos Aires. As in all international travel, it ain't a done deal yet, although I'm going to work my hardest to make sure it goes through.

I saw a poster announcing a meeting a few days ago, and yesterday attended a little presentation on the trip. I would be spending five months in Buenos Aires, taking two theory classes and an architecture studio, as well as exploring the region. The program is set up and taught by ASU professors, so I would neither be in a public university nor have to become fluent in spanish (although I might take a refresher course during the summer). Everyone at the meeting seemed pretty excited. There were eleven third year students (including me) and about fifteen graduate students. As the grad students take precedence over us, there would be room for only five fourth years. However, after seeing the relatively large interest from us, the teacher said he was going to talk to the program people so we'll see.

He had us send him an email with our GPA, class, name and other contact info, as well as a statement of intent right after the meeting. He also requested a mini-portfolio of work by friday. As I will be up in snowy Colorado tomorrow, I had to make mine last night and have to give it to him today before I leave.

The first of march is a big day for me. It's the priority (not final) deadline for filing the FAFSA (so I keep my scholarship), the deadline for my internship decision and paperwork, and the deadline for the application to the study abroad program. I'll find out if I made it in the study abroad thing in early march I believe.

Buenos Aires! What a trip that would be! The Paris of South America!

Feb 14, 2006

Loads of Laundry

This morning, my basket stacked double high with clothes, I went to the coinless laundromat with a significant portion of my wardrobe. I filled four washers to the max (the advantage over a single washer/dryer- I can wash my clothes all at once), and dried them in three industrial dryers. Doing laundry is always such a surreal experiance. The coinless laundry is in a predominantly poor Mexican strip, anchored by a Food City where I go for fresh tamales and tortillas. If I were so inclined, I might also buy whole sugar cane, prickly pear, and fried pig skins. The laundromat is a mix of Mexicans, various ethnic college students, and assorted strangers. Today I saw a dignified elderly couple and a person dressed all in tan from hiking boots to a floppy sun hat of indeterminable gender.

Nothing too exciting in classes today. In structures, we're finally putting everything togather and learning how to design beams backwards and forwards, so we can calcuate the max load on a set beam, or the minimum size of a beam for a set load.

I've discoverd the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, a modern author from the 1930's onward. His short stories are extremely rich and layered, in an almost baroque or gothic feeling, but never becoming loose or unnecessary. He deals a lot with language and semiotics, and his stories all can be considered a mixture of horror, surreal, allegory, and science fiction. He frequently writes about books, reveiews of nonexistant books etc. Intense and bizzare reading. Good stuff.

Feb 13, 2006

New blog site

Dear and Constant Reader,

I've created a new blog for the bits of prose and poetry which may come to me. This is an experiment, so I guarenttee neither regularity, sense, or even interest. I really do enjoy writing, and so this is much more for me than you. However, most of what I write will be fragmentary and incomplete, acting only as a sketch pad for developing story and character ideas. So I will make no further mention of it in my regular blog other than to point out that one may access it by the link I've added on the side. If you like certain ideas or see potential in them, please leave an inspirational comment. As always, constant reader, be you immediate family or a person who happened to get my blog while searching for "tadao ando sketchup earth", I appreciate your readership and comments.

Righteous indignation (?)

Today we had our project reviews for the bridge. To my dismay, we had a rather informal review in our studio classroom. It's really a shame considering the mess of a working studio. You spend weeks of work and preparation, fine tuning your design and building your models, having things printed nicely and mounted, and then you present on your tables covered with scratches and over floors filthy with sawdust and paper. We all dress nicely too, I busted out the nice shirts with slacks and a belt. People take special care with their hair. It's like working for two days to create a full gourmet meal with all the elaborite garnishes and presentation, then eating in the kitchen off the kitchen counters. I want an event.

I presented my bridge second, and out of the first half of the students to be critiqued, mine was the judged to be the most complete and resolved of the bridge designs. They liked the design and the how I had translated from the ground to the height of the bridge. I used my mentor's advice to talk slower and conscientiously adopted a confident stance, looking my reviewers in the eyes. The only thing I need to work on more is lose the"I tried to..." and other passive voice prefixes in talking about what I DID. About half the class just had pretty identical bridges, just two trusses with a floor and a roof between them. It seemed to me like the other studios had a lot more variety and daring.

I've also got this parionid feeling about the studios. My entire studio from last semester, minus me and three other students, moved into the studio down the hall. They told us at the begining of the year that they were going to place us in studios to get a even mix of GPA's, genders, and ethnicities. I think they did that pretty well. What's disconcernting to me is that they said they did the same thing this semester. As a good three quarters of the studio stayed togather, I cannot but suspect that they kept studios togather because, hey, there's already a great mix of GPA's, genders, and races from thier first placing. As gender and race dont change much, was I separated because my GPA changed and threw the mix out of balance? Or am I just being parinoid over the whole B+ in studio?

On that point, I ran down my studio instructor in the hall who promised me he hadn't forgotten me and that we would meet sometime soon. I hate the situation he's put me in. I'm not going to make him a friend by pushing for the grade change from a B+ to an A- or whatever. He really is an intelligent guy and a great studio instructor, and has been with the faculty for a long time. His recommendation would be very highly regarded. On the other hand, this B+ is like a thorn in my foot, dragging down my GPA, especailly as it's a five credit hour course. It's also insulting to me, as either my craftwork, design skills, or work ethic is subpar. I'm not a perfectionist: if I felt like I'd really deserved a B+ I'd be perfectly fine with the grade, like the B I got in structures. I'm not happy about getting a B in that class, but I feel it was a fair grade. This B+ in studio just doesn't sit right with me.

Anyway. Project 1 is over and we're going to spend the rest of the semester designing an aquatic center for a national competition. First prize is quite a lot of money.

Feb 10, 2006

bridge pics

Here are some pictures from my bridge. I was shooting my model laying on the concrete, and I looked up at the bikes and the bridge connecting the architecture buildings, and took the other picture. The bouganvilla I just added for color and contrast. Click the pictures for larger views.


Long day. Started working at 7:30 AM. Latin American Design. Talked to Dr. Morton about what to see and do in Kiev and borrowed his travel book. History of architecture. More studio work. Took quiz we've been dreading in structures, got all of the answers right. Worked in library from 6-10. Back to studio. Got home 2 AM. Model 80% done. Time to sleep. Long day.

Feb 8, 2006

Making the cut

Monday morning, I drove down to Harbor Freght tools and picked up a micro circular saw. The choppers and cutters that other people have with a fixed blade on a lever arm cost about $25, so I got a great deal with my $30 power tool. The sawblade is 2 inches in diameter, which makes it perfect for cutting the scale basswood I'm using, and it comes with a positionable jig for getting angled cuts. The walls of my bridge are clad with a 3"x3" post spaced 3" o.c. As my bridge is over 60' long, this is a lot of posts. I was able to measure and mark one peice of basswood, tape it to 8 others, and run it through the saw, saving me about 80% of time and energy. Another good thing about it is the fact that the lenths, since they're being cut at the same time, are exactly the same length. When my studio instructor saw it, he was so impressed, he went out and bought one.

Anyway, fun new tool for the week.

The bridge is coming along ok. I'm done with the truss structure and I've started laying the deck and side pieces. The project is due monday, so its going to be a crunch weekend. For the first time, we're going to present boards instead of pinning up drawings. This means the restrictions and requiremets have changed to whatever we feel is necessary to showcase the project, a move which also brings us closer to what is actually done in the field.

For some reason, my library supervisor thought I was mad at him the other day. He kept asking me if I was mad at him, and asked me if I'd tell him if I was mad at him. No clue where that came from. Anyway, occationally the library bought pizzas for the day crew, and the night people would get stuck with leftovers, which is great anyway, but he felt compelled to let us get us pizza too to show that he was not being partial just to the day shift workers. He gave us $20 to split between Molly and I.

We got a regular pizza, a 2 liter bottle of pepsi, cheese bread, and cinnamon dessert sticks. It was amazing. The pay is nothing to shout about, but you have to love the benefits this job provides.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, mostly in the latin american writers. I read the Cuban Alejo Carpentier's novel The Harp and the Hand, a fictional account from the view of Columbus "discovering" America. (This intruiging hypothesis claimed that Columbus had heard of the new world through the vikings trips there, and then made up the short route to Asia in order to solicit funding. The book also made Columbus a lover of the queen Isabella.) I also started to read some short stories of George Luis Borges (Argentinian), very bizzare but intricately layered surreal stories. I also re-read Che Guevara's The Motorcycle Diaries a few weeks ago.

The weather here has been warm and sunny. It's past sunset here, and its still in the high 70's. It's going to be a infernal summer, but right now it's absolutely beautiful. I've broken out my sandals.

Feb 6, 2006

More Bridges

I think I've figured out my bridge design. Here's a picture of it (hopefully this website will let me post it). Click for the larger view.

I've also been following, with great dismay, the news from Syria and Palestine. Both Danish Embassies have been torched by rioting crowds, and police have fired shots, killing one demonstrator in attempts to bring the mob under control. Danes have been advised to leave the country if possible, and Danish products are taken from shelves while the Danish flag is burned outside.

What could cause such widespread anger and meyhem? A cartoon.

It's surprising to me how potent the graphic medium is, even when compared with literature. When Salmon Rushie published the Satanic Verses, there was a price put on his head, but the American embassies weren't stormed and burned. The Chinese protested outside of the US embassy while I was in Beijing, after the US accidently bombed one of their embassies, killing several Chinese diplomats, but those demonstrations were controlled, even passive, compared with the ones going on in the middle east. (My scout master at the time, trapped in the embassay as he was, was still able to send a guy out for pizza).

Took saturday off to lounge, worked in studio all day today.

Feb 4, 2006


I want to go to Argentina.

I've been reading about its architecture and history for my latin american design class. It sometimes refers to itself as a "european country in the wrong continent." After winning its independance from Spain the 1810s, (which left a strong hispanic heritage), the Argentines adopted the french enlightment, importing broad tree lined boulevards, baroque french style, and ecclectic european architecture. The modernism of the 1930s and 40's in Europe was also developed in Argentina. Buenos Aires is a huge port city, and cultural capital. Most of the population of Argentina were european immigrants from Italy and Spain. It just looks like an amazing place. In the latest CondeNast Traveller magazine I got today, they had a feature on the wild lake regions on the argentine interior, which was described as an unpopulated american west with the alps. Looks amazing.

Bridge is coming along. I think I've got the final design pegged. May need to tweak it a bit more. I'm still not happy with the transition of the stairs to the body of the bridge. Here's something I did in SketchUp.

Feb 2, 2006

Glory and the Long Road Home

Busy day yesterday- picked up some more basswood at ACE in the morning before going into studio. In class I drafted a new cross section I'd been thinking about, and built a 2" long section of that bridge. Turned out very cool. In fact, when I was talking about it with our studio instructor, he liked it so much he called everyone in the studio over to take a look. He pointed out how well the program requirements were taken care of in the most minimal way possible, while still having a kind of powerful poetry. Only, there were a few minor details that were problems- the main one being that my timber truss that the walking surface rests on was 4', and it needs to be 6' deep to make the span. This not only throws the proportions off for the rest of the bridge, but it also gives me a bigger headache at the ends, where I have to somehow bring people up 6' in 5' of ground space.

After studio, I began biking home. On the last couple of bike trips, I'd noticed a vibration coming from the back tire. Meant to take a look at it. Got really strong coming to studio and I realized that the tire was hitting the inside of the fork because it was out of alignment. I didn't have the tools to fix it at school, so I tried to ride it home. I hit a bump, the entire wheel came way out of alignment, with one of the axles trying to leave the fork, jamming the tire against the fork, and bringing it to a shuddering halt. I tried to kick it back into position, but gave up when it was futile. So I carried and dragged the stupid thing the mile or so back home.

Later that evening, I went over a friend's house for a dinner party with a bunch of friends from studio. They had turkey burgers and vegitarian chili. It was actually pretty good, and it was fun hanging out and socializing.

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...