Mar 30, 2006

Advice for Travellers

We have our small group orientation meetings this monday for the argentina trip. Prior to this, we are required to read and do some quizzes online about study abroad. As an expat child of the world, I found most of the advice in the information valid, but extremely obvious. Try not to stand out as an American. and Don't hang out at US Military Bases and Consulates. Hello captain obvious. Be wary of strangers offering to carry your bags. Really. It's good blanket advice if you've never left the American heartland, but it was skimming material for me. Watch out for Gypsies and Gypsy children. Especailly if you're a US Ambassador. But then again, even I've been caught by scam artists. Mom was right, if they want you, they'll get you somehow.


Went to classes today, dropped Ben off at the student health and wellness center. He's not doing so well, although appeared a litle better tonight. Jen picked him up two cases of gatorades at Costco the other day, so he's been living off of those. Classes today were hist of arch and structures. Pretty boring day otherwise. Grocery shopping this evening. Picked up some fresh mozzarella. Not as good as the cheese I had in Italy. But still pretty good.

thursday morning

Poor Ben, he's caught something too. His started with a cough a few days ago and its evolved into sneezing and drip. I think its different from mine. He went to student health and they also perscribed some antibiotics for him. Hopefully he'll feel better soon. Personally, I'm feeling better today, soreness is down, lymph node swelling is down, fever is lower, still have a sore throat and drainage and a bit of a headache. I dare to think I'm on the mend. Going to take it easy this morning before going to class at 1:40.

Mar 29, 2006


Today I woke up feeling a lot better. Only had to get up once during the night for more water, and my fever and sweating were down. Called the doc's office and made another appointment for three. Set three different alarms just in case. Took it easy all morning, oatmeal for breakfast, a bottle of gatorade, more tylenol. At three went in to see the doctor. We'll that was my scheduled time- actually saw him at 3:45. I told him my symptoms, he looked me over, told me I had an ulcer on one of my tonsils with lots of drainage. Said he was would diagnose it as Tonsillitis, and perscribed some amoxicillin. The health insurance plan is 10% of the total cost, so I paid $6 for the visit. On my way home I filled the perscription at Walgreens, $1.50 with the insurance card. I felt well enough to come into studio in the last hour of class. The instructor commended the work I'd done and told me not to stress out about our pinup monday. I was touched by how many people asked me how I was feeling. Anyway, 75% of the library staff is in varying degrees of illness, so I said I'd fill in tonight. Since my latin american classes were all cancelled this week, I dont have to be at school until 1:40 tomorrow. Lots of time to rest. But definately take it easy for awhile. My head still hurts, but I'm feeling a lot better generally. Just can't whatever it is get another hold.

Mar 28, 2006

Brain fried

Felt better this afternoon after a round of steam and some cup noodles. Took a nap after lunch and slept until an IM ping woke me up: at 4:45. This is the time I'm supposed to be at the doc's office. I hop in the minivan and run into nasty traffic and road closures, so I get there at 5:10. The door is locked, and theres' no one at the desk. Why I didn't just call them I attribute to the fever. So, I'll have to call them again tomorrow and see if they can schedule me in. From my symptoms, it sounds like the flu- muscle aches, esp in back, tons of drainage, sore throat, severe headache, fever, burning eyes. Not a whole lot of fun. The doc will probably concur with my diagnosis, although I'll leave it up to him, but I just want to make sure its not something more exotic.

Bleh. Temp of 102.0 Probably because I got up from a very warm nap.

New Phone

I dragged myself into the van and down to East Valley Primary Care Physicians which is relatively close by. They didn't accept walk-ins, but I made arrangements to come back at 4:45. They also accepted the insurance card. If they didn't, I had printed a google map of locations of Primary Care physians. I also printed out the location of xingular stores. After I left the doc's office, I drove over to the place and had then cancel my old phone. I changed plans to a comparable xingular plan, as I'd been on AT&T and it was no longer offered. It increased my minutes, was GSM, and was only five dollars more per month. I picked out a nokia stick phone, not as cool as my last one, but a solid phone nonetheless. No camera. Cell was $40. I'm now wired to the wireless again, and my number is the same. Chills and fever last night, with some dry heaves in the early morning.

Mar 27, 2006

Monday night

Still have slight fever of 100.7 F. Inhaled some steam for about fifteen minutes which helped. Picked up some apple juice, sierra mist, and gatorade plus more asprin and cough drops at the store. Really glad I decided to skip work and school today, although I'll take exams in every class over being sick. Hopefully I'll get some better rest tonight and wake up feeling better.

Suki is the most unsympathic cat I've ever seen. She knows I'm sick becasuse she won't lick me, and keeps trying to get me to refill her food dish, which has food in it. There are some cats who would call for an ambulance if I was in serious trouble. Suki is definately not that kind of cat. While I was steaming my head, suki hopped up on the table to investigate. What a cat.

Down with the sickness

Today I'm skipping school and work and calling in sick. Tossed and turned all last night, waking up every hour or so to drink some more water. Strange dreams too. Headache, soreness, nasuea, and this morning, a fever of 101.7 F. Going to take it easy today and get rest and drink lots of water. Grr. I hate being sick. I havn't been sick for a year and then I start coming down with something over two weeks ago. Today's the first day my symptoms have really been acute. Anyway, at least I got some studio work done last night so the teacher can see the progress.

Mar 26, 2006


Friday was a busy day for me despite having no school. I spent the morning working in studio, then called Hondacare to take the van in because the check engine light was on again. Without a phone, I used the library desk phone to arrange to take it in. I took it in around noon and Jeremy (?) took me back in the courtesy shuttle, a van identical to mine. I don't know where they find these guys.

Jeremy (or something like that) was 75 years old, and a retired navy gunner's mate in the Korean war. He grew up in tempe during the 1930's-40's and graduated from Tempe High with Ira Fulton, now the largest donator to ASU, and one of the richest men in Arizona. It was intersesing hearing about how Tempe used to be fifty years ago. The street I live on I always considered to be a bit unusual as it runs unusally close to University dr. and follows some strange kinks before dead-ending into McClintock. Apparently 8th st. used to be the main road, before University was built. It made sense to me- all the old buildings lining the street, apparently the Four Peaks brewery was built in an old dairy building, and the railroad tracks following the road instead of university. Back when old Jeremy attended Arizona State Teachers College, McClintock road was out in the boonies. Really interesting conversation.

Anyway, after a few hours I called back in with a payphone and found it was just the gas cap. Go figure. So Jeremy drove back and picked me up and I drove my van home. Later that evening, I drove down to Tucson to hang out with Cassie and Julie, and ended up going to a party in a hotel event center. It was the most organized college party I've ever seen, and I was patted down at the door by hired security staff. Very wierd. Had a really good time though. Drove back to Tempe saturday afternoon, and made a pass at layiung out my next history of architecture paper.

This morning I got up early to head into studio. Got some work done there, but I'm not moving very quickly. I realized I hadn;t been to the site yet, so I drove out to the park in glendale. My intended site is along the fence line. The weather was gorgeous today again, and the sleepy community park with the big old trees and squaw peak in the distance reminded me of how much I love Arizona. I sat there for about two hours just sitting and sketching, watching a softball practice, a guy throwing an axe into palm trees, and several picnics and birthday parties.
Sally and Jonathan invited me to dinner, and Jonathan made fried leek rings, fried chicken, and rolls. Really good dinner. Great gelato for dessert, apparently from Costco. I'll have to look for it next time I'm there. When I came in, Gabriel greeted me with "Hi Aric!" Sally also let me do an emergency load of clothes while I was over there.

After that I went to studio and worked there until about midnight. I'm not happy with the design I've got, but we're pinning up next monday and I need to move on. I think I'm nearing what I want concetually, but I needed to get a solid floorplan in order to really peg down what I'm dealing with. Got a floorplan, and two sections pegged out. There was practically nobody in studio tonight.

Got some really tragic news the other night too: my cousin Brandon passed away in an apartment fire. He was only about a year or two older than I am. He left two younger brothers and his parents. There's just been so much sadness and death recently, it doensn't seem right or fair. It's horrible and macabre to think about how when I shook his hand at grandpa Perkin's funeral, I'd never see him again. Dad's flying over to Oklahoma to be with his brother. It's just too sad.

Mar 24, 2006

No Phone

Less than stellar morning. Redid my taxes, only incorporating the amount of the scholarship that the school physically gives me. I'm only getting back what I paid in federal withholding, which is $3. But that's a lot better than having to owe over $200. I can't claim EIC because I'm claimed as a dependant, which would have made some difference.

The other thing is I've lost my cell phone. I had it with me at school yesterday at 8 AM. But by 6 PM it was gone. I've checked everywhere I'd been between those times and come up empty handed. I've got the ASU lost and found and the college lost and found. Hopefully it will turn up in due time. In the meanwhile, I'm at a bit of a loss of what to do.

Mar 23, 2006

Studio Monkey

Our studio instructors seems to be in a bit of a role reversal. Usually, our studio teacher is one to micromanage and assign tons of extraneous work, and the studio teacher next door has a reputation for not requiring anything or giving any helpful feedback. Lately, however, our teacher's pretty much let us go to it, and the class next door had to study five steel systems and put togather a half inch scale section- which is huge. All we were required to do was write a paragraph describing the main idea of our project. I typed mine up and handed it in. I got it back, and it was covered with red. Only one line was deleted as being to weak theoretically, and the rest was all grammatical and organizational corrections. He, apparently, is a professional editor! (sarcasm) While I am not Escrito the God of Writing, I can construct a grammatically correct, sensible paragraph. He also made two corrections to things that were obviously correct, and I had to battle with him to show him why they were correct. There are some advantages to growing up with a professional copywriter and editor. Anyway, it became the joke of the class- our instructor was looking more at our grammer and less at our ideas. However, he liked my final revision of my paragraph so much he made me read it out loud to the class.

Anyway, later that day, I had my interview with the travel scholarship people. I left the meeting feeling like I'd probably blown the whole thing, but that was the feeling that other three people felt leaving as well. It probably stemmed from the palpable tension in the air- one of the three committee members was the poor guy's mom ( a fact that nobody mentioned to me, but I should have figured it out anyway). So we'll see, but I'm not learning Japanese in the meanwhile. The only good that came of it was after the meeting all my physiological stress symptoms dissapeared. That morning right after I got up, I had a massive headache at the back of my head- a typical tension headache from stress. I took two asprin which didn't help and gallons of water. I felt crappy the entire morning, and nauseated in the early afternoon. I felt better after I'd eaten some lunch, but didn't feel normal again until after the meeting. Well, normal mixed with doubt and dissapointment in my performance. But what a relief it was over. As I don't have work on wednesday night, I joined some friends from studio for a beer and some mexican canapes across the street, which was exactly what I needed.

The restaurant is interesting as it just opened a few days prior. When I first came to ASU, it was Dos Gringos, the original location, sited there for quite a few years and THE watering hole near campus. Its patio was packed every afternoon and night. It was too sucessful, and because it sold way more booze than food, it was reclassified as a bar, and as it was right across from a church, it had to move. So they moved it to a new alcoholic Disneyland MexiLand place on my street. The neighbor of Dos Gringos, Flip-Flops, another kind of mexican cantina, tore down the fence and asssimilated the other building and patio. They failed after less than a year, and new owners ostensibly separated the bars into Daisy/Dukes, one side catering to women, one side to men. This dragged on for about another year, still not getting much business, and over the break, they changed the whole thing again to Mamacita's. New branding, furnature, menu everything. This is was where we ate. I had the carnitas tacos, just a snack, but they were pretty good.

Hit the sack early last night, so I got a good ten hours of sleep at least. Strange dreams though. People in my dreams kept appearing in my room as I slipped from semiconscious to sleep states.

Mar 20, 2006

Back to school

Ordered Papa John's Pizza last night- good stuff. Kept myself busy until 10 PM when I crashed in bed. Jet lag got me up again at 5 AM, which isn't terrible for the first night back from a place that's 11 hours different. Weather is cool and gray today, with some overcast skies and some sun. This morning I picked up some modeling clay to sculpt out the "crack" idea in studio. But before that, I got my hair cut at Supercuts. It was a quick and dirty trim, which was what I needed- just enought to neaten it up and get it off my neck and ears. I think next time I'll schedule an appointment with either the Carson Insititue or another salon (where student prices are about the same as Supercuts but you get a shampoo and a better cut). Anyway, feels better to have it cut.

Studio was ok. The teacher was concerened that I'm looking at the crack concept too literally, but loved where I'd placed it on the site. I seem to be brilliantly intuitive for the broader concepts, but I really flounder sometimes taking it to the next step. He suggested I keep some of the forms and ideas, but move the project concept towards the edge condition- the pool center in a rift separating the High School from the rest of the park along the current fenced-in boundary. I need to get out to the site in any case, and I think a more proper solution will present itself there.

Began getting drowsy around 4 (not a good sign) so I grabbed a double cappuchino from the cafe. Should have stuck with a single, as the caffine's making me feel less than spectacular right now at work. I really need to get on top of my presentation for wednesday- my major competition already has her powerpoint presentation put togather.

This may work in my favor, as her strong suit is really her exuberant personality and running through a powerpoint show will probably not showcase it. I think I may just have a few slides showing locations and an itenerary, and discuss the rest using note cards as a referance. We've got a 25 minute slot afforded to us, with a 15 minute presentation and 10 minutes for questions. This is pretty comperable to a studio project presentation, so I'm not worried about not having enough material to talk about.

Bleh, still feeling draggy. Jet lag, too much caffine, and a cough. Wish I had another week of vacation.

Mar 19, 2006


Sally, Jonathan, Sara, and Gabriel all met me at Sky Harbor Airport to take me home. So I'm home safe and sound and suki is thrilled.

Mar 18, 2006


Today mom made waffles for breakfast for the whole family. In the afternoon, we went to see the matinee of Guys and Dolls, the final performance. I had to surrender my passport at the entrance and get a "must be escorted at all times" badge inside Taylor's school. He was stellar as usual. Got a few pics and a few segments of digital video.

For dinner, dad made his trademark spagetti, we had bread, wine, cheese, salad, and mom baked her famous hot fudge sunday cake. It was a bittersweet dinner- despite the pleasure of having the four of us enjoying dinner as a family again, I head back to Tempe tomorrow morning, and dad back to Abu Dhabi later in the day. I don't know if I'll see my family again for 9 months. I'd like to see them this summer, but I'm not sure with my internship and buenos aires cutting into the end of summer, if I'll be able to get away. I really hope I can, as not seeing my family for three-fourths of a year is a bleak and depressing thought indeed.

Tomorrow will be a long day. Quite literally as I'll be flying with the earth's rotation. My flight to London leaves at 8:30 AM, which means dad and mom will be up at 5 to take me to the airport. My flight to london is about four hours on Aeroflot, followed by a three hour layover in Heathrow where I need to claim my bags, and recheck them on the British Airways flight back to phoenix, which will be about a ten hour flight. Wish I had a magic carpet.

Anyway, wish me luck for the trip back.

Mar 17, 2006

Nathan Detroit

Got back from Kiev late wednesday night. Thursday morning, mom and I took the metro over to the Russian Armed Forces Museum. The museum had a collection of weapons, uniforms, and exhibits from pre-czarist times through the war in Afghanistan. The Old russian cloaks and uniforms were surprisingly modern, with the slim tailored look and clean lines. Lots of guns and cannons. The musuem was also filled with young russian soldiers in formal military attire- with swords, and shiny black boots up to thier shins. There were also a bunch of older men with jackets literally covered in medals. There was some event going on upstairs, apparently. In the back yard, they had a snow covered collection of planes, tanks, ground vehicles, rocket and missle launchers. They also had a Hind helicopter gunship and a bunch of Migs. Supposedly they also had the wreckage of gary power's U2 spy plane, but I didn't see it anywhere. Must have been in Stealth mode.

That night, mom and I went to see the opening night of Taylor's school play: Guys and Dolls. Taylor had one of the leads as Nathan Detroit. He was fantastic in the role, captivating the audience. Out of the entire cast, he was the most fun to watch, athough the other two lead girls were phenomenal as well. Whitney and the other lead girl were excellent singers, and of the guys, only Taylor had a decent singing voice. It was so strange to see him slip into character and cease to be Taylor. He was really good and you could see how much he loved doing it. After the show, he told me he covered a few times, which means improvization in reacting to lines. I was really impressed.

After the play, we found Tay living it up in the changing room. Mom and I fell behind taylor as his entourage and he shook hand, high fived, and chatted with everyone we passed. We were flattered that a celebrety of his calibur would ride back home to the apartment with us.

Mar 15, 2006

Chillin' in the Ukraine

Day before yesterday I flew down to Kiev with mom. We took a tupelov which was new for me. Not as shabby as I thought it would be- they actually have some improvements over the western airplanes. The seats don't have to float so they can fold up like theater seats and the backs can fold down so people get by more easily. Flight was short, less than two hours.

We met a driver at the airport and drove into Kiev. The hotel Dnipro was ok. Good service downstairs, almost as nice as a motel 6 upstairs. It was really cold, so we went back down and got them to bring up a space heater. We met our tour guide and driver downstairs and took an overview tour of Kiev. Stopped off at a few churches, embankments, etc. Had dinner at the hotel's "Munich Bar," which was surprisingly passable.

The next day I struck out alone early to check out an overlook near the hotel. The tours we took that day were St. Sophia and to the cave monastary. Both of these places were really cool- the exterior of st. Sophia had been completely renovated in the baroque style but the interior remianed in the 11th centruy slavic-byzantine. Amazing frescos and mossaics. The Lavra cave monestary was a sprawling complex only fairly recently returned to the relgious order. (The Communists destroyed hundreds of churches, or converted them into museums of Athiesm and Darwinism.) We ducked down in the caves which were a narrow labrynth of passages lined with mummified remains in glass coffins covered with emroidery. The church took out the electic lighting and everyone shuffled around with candles down there. VERY claustrophobic down there with the people, the low ceiling, narrow passages and smoke. I did buy some holy honey from the monestary's apiary.

For dinner we went back to the hotel and had a lite early dinner. Good mushroom soup. Went to bed early. The next morning, mom and I got up and wandered around the neighborhood. We were actually stopped by the police and had our passports inspected. I half expected to be hit up for bribes, but we're not in Russia, so they just handed them back over.

The other interesting thing was while we were there, the Ukrainans were heading to the polls for parilmentary elections. The recent democracy there has led to a very active and enthusiastic politicizaion. There were flags everywhere of the different parties and supporters marched, and waved banners and flags everywhere we went.

Flew back around noon sitting in the same seats we flew over on. The Kiev airport is working on becoming more modern, with a clean, open, and airy addition to the main terminal. Picked up a dark chocolate Toblerone for snack. Nasty traffic back into town, took us about two hours to get home from the airport.

Mar 12, 2006

Recovery day

Yesterday we'd talked about heading out to the Russian tourist market, but I took a look at the swirling snow outside, and decided to take the day easy instead of traveling 30 minutes by train and marching around in the cold. Besides, I'm sick with a cold, and have basically been going nonstop since last tuesday. So mom made us waffles for breakfast, we watched some movies, and I chilled out and took a nap.

Today we're flying to Kiev. I'm up a little early with jet lag, 6 am, but I did get a four hour nap yesterday so I'm slowly catching up on my sleep deficit. Time to do some last minute research on Kiev. And tea. Definately some tea.

Mar 11, 2006

24 hours in Britian

I'm currently drinking tea to ease my throat as the snow continues to come down outside in my parent's apartment in moscow. Mom's making Taylor and me waffles. My British excursion was fun and frenetic. My decision to meet Whitney at her college in Norwich was a bad idea in terms of the amount of time and money it took to get there, but it was a really unique slice of life that I would have missed just doing the tourist thing in London for a day.

I arrived in London Heathrow at about noon. I took the train from the airport to Paddington station of Paddington Bear fame. Amazing space of curved ironwork and glass. Gave me some ideas for my pool, although it was way too gothic in form. Took the tube a few stations over to London Liverpool Station, another gigantic rail node, and then hopped a regional train to Norwich. Two hours later, I arrived at the station and then hopped on one of the double decker busses out to the university. I got there around 6 and met Whitney out at the bus stop. She's living in a dorm with a bunch of other British students on campus. Each person has their own cell, with a coed communal bathroom and tiny kitchen which was crammed with students, dishes, and appliances. It reminded me of my dorm days, and though I miss the constant social interaction, I enjoy having a similiarly sized kitchen just shared with one other person and not 20.

I grabbed a shower, Whit made us some pasta and we played some cards with her friends. Afterwards, we all got dressed up and headed down to the student union. The drinking age of 18 translates to significat differences in the british student union. For instance, it contains two separate bars and a large dance floor/club with its own bar. We hit the bar first and then went up to the club around 11. British college students at least at this place, dressed a lot more sophisticated and had a more sophisticated bar than most places around Tempe. I was impressed.

They had two decent young DJs spinning a techno/synthpop mix for the first hour and then they brought in a professional DJ who did a lot more hand mixes. Pretty hardstyle techno. The show was sold out so the dance floor soon became a mosh pit. We left around 1 as it was just too overpowering and intense, all of us now partially deaf.

Back at the dorms, we watched part of a movie and I crashed on the floor. As wiped as I was, I was still struggling with jet lag and my cold (not helped by the partying) and so I didn't sleep comfortably or very much. At 7 AM I got myself and Whitney up and she walked me out to the bus stop. At the bus stop, we met one of whits friends from the dorm, a guy we'd gone dancing with. He was even more surprised to see us. He hadn't slept all night, with the usual dorm drama going on after the party, so figured he'd make a surprise visit back home in Ipswich.

I said goodbye to Whitney, and the two of us hopped on the bus and went to the train station. I was really lucky he was there because the bus didn't go directly to where it picked me up and I might have missed it. At the train station, I didn't see the train to London on the departures schedule. Jamie, Whit's friend, talked to the information people and learned they were doing work on a section of track. I was really glad that I decided to leave early. So we hopped a train to Diss, and then took a 'coach' to Ipswich. Jamie left me there, off to spend some time with his parents, and I boarded the train to London. It was interesting talking to him, finding the cultural differences of another college student.

In London, I was dismayed to find the direct route to Paddington station was closed, so I had to figure out an alternative route. Not too much of a problem. At Paddington, I picked up some fresh organic orange juice and some pastries for breakfast. Man, I've missed European food. Caught a train back to the Airport. Heathrow has a really obnoxious layout which feels more like a piping system than anything else. Narrow, twisitng labrynthine corridors, holding tanks for passengers, and way too little daylighting. The way the airport is laid out, passengers have to wait in a cramped mall setting with all kinds of stores blaring music and video and sounds. They only show the right gate 30 mins before scheduled departure.

Flight to Moscow was good and short, about four hours. The flight was uncrowded and quiet on the saturday night. Made into Moscow airport and through immigration and customs with no problems. Met mom right outside with her white fur coat and huge fur hat. With no traffic, the ride home was quick. I grabbed a quick shower and went right to bed.

Mar 10, 2006

safe in Norwich

Just a quickie- made it safe to Whitney's dorm in Norwich. I'll be heading out to Moscow tomorrow. If I'd planned this better, I would just have met her in London instead of taking the 2 hour train out to Norwich. Anyway, just FYI Alec's ok tonight.

Mar 9, 2006


We'll I'll be heading out to dinner with Sally before the flight soon, so I'll make this a quick post. I've got all the tickets (expedia tickets to Kiev included, mom). I think I've got everything, so I'm going to log off. I'll try to post when I get to Norwich. Wish me luck!

Mar 8, 2006

Little Things

I got up at 8 AM tuesday morning, and I've not had a drop of sleep since. Last night after I left work at 10, I biked home, printed some google maps off and grabbed dinner and my laptop. Drove back to studio, getting there around midnight. Around 1, a bunch of friends of mine went out for coffee and I had a triple shot of some expresso vanilla drink. Wired for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of my time re configuring a building the reviewers didn't even like. I made a scaled model of the first model where it peels back the ground, but it lost something in the scale, so I kept my first model I'd made and used that. The third design was aggravating as I struggled between sketchup and my notebook all night. Around six I gave up and went to watch the sun rise on A mountan (really, Tempe Butte). I ran there as it was growing light very quickly and I didn;t want to miss it. I was winded badly at the top, and I'm sure the stress, a sleepless night, and all that caffinee wearing off didn't help. At any rate, the sunrise had a few phenomenal moments when I realized this beautiful sight was an everyday occurance. I think I was also the first person the sun's rays touched in the valley, high up on the hill. At least I'd like to think so. Anyway, looking around I got the idea of a swimming facility from a a mud crack on where the light rail was being built. When you add water to dirt, and stick it in the arizona sun, what happens? the earth cracks in different directions, right? I picked up a chunck of warped dried mud with all its cracks and the swimming facility formed in my mind. One of the more interestng things you develop as an architect is how to visualize in 3d. I could see it in my mind, a tiny crack which is a pathway threading its way through the park, leading deeper and wider itno the the gorund where it joins a secondary crack, a huge gash, contianing three pools off of alignment, with support spaces, locker rooms, etc in the sides of the "crack". Lots of glass, lots of steel. From a concept standpoint, it was paydirt. I just had no idea how to show it. I brought the chunck of dirt back with me for further inspiration. I ended up cutting a rough shape of the two intersecting cracks in cardboard and lining it with a sheet of tin foil to be the walls. The foil I taped down to the cardboard with masking tape. It looked like something a kindergartener would do. I was going to get some brown spraypaint to coat that sucker, but I was out and I figured it was too early in the physical layout process to pin down exaclty what I wanted where I wanted it anyway. I set it aside and went home, whipping out two mini-posters on my other two designs as I'd reached my critical moment. ( we were supposed to have three designs total). Got those done, showered, changed, and biked back to school.

My studio has 16 people. Each person took an average of 30 minutes for the presentation, the thinking of the reviewers, questions, clarifications, musings, and prononcements. I was the last person to go. When there were three of us left, with half an hour left in the period, we pooled our change to see which one of us could present our 3 ideas most quickly. Up unti that point people would ramble on for upwards of fifteen minutes at the start. It drives me crazy, give us the basic concept idea and shut up. If we have questions, we'll ask. We dont need to hear you go through all the different spaces or what you did. The stake of the pot was 56 cents, but a friend gave us a nickel so the jackpot was 60 cents, enough for a coke. A caveat of the deal was that I had to present all three projects instead of just the two, since they also had three projects.

First guy presents his stuff in 3:18. Nice work. Second guy beats him by a minute. This is presenting the main idea of three differnet schemes for the same project. I grab my tin foil clad "project 3" and give my short presentation. My cardboard-tin foil monster is an embarrassment next to the scaled and rendered other projects I did. After a few comments are made about the disparity of the project 3s (we all did them last) they get more interested in the cardboard and tin foil. They think its an intriuging idea. The pavillion idea they tell me will lead me to a satisfactory, but boring end. They like the peeling earth back idea a lot too, but something about the mud crack pool really grabs them. They told me that the last two ideas were really competition worthy, which made me fell good as they hadn;t told anyone else that.

The reviewers, by the way, were two young architects from DWL. I'd met them before at Jeremey's office. Just an aside.

And man, I'm wiped. Tonight I need to pack for three countries, and write a proposal for a paper which I'll have to present tomorrow in Latin American design. I also need to get my haircut and put a stop on the mail. Those two I can take care of tomorrow. Maybe figure out my propsal tomrrow too. Maybe tonight. Definatey need to do laundry again tonight. At least the laundromat doesn't close until midnight. Some good Mexican food down there too.

I hope the sniffles I have is just that plus the lack of sleep. Usually I associate illness with feeling crappy- and I don't feel crappy. Unless I am sick and I've just gotten used to feeling crappy that I don't even notice. Now there's a happy thought. Sorry this post is a bit disjointed and loopy, just need a good night's sleep. Happy they liked my stuff though.

Mar 7, 2006

Waves licking my chin...

Finished the final revision of my paper this morning before class. Got our first exam back. I got a 90% so I am pretty happy with that. This afternoon I spent working on a model. In structures we got our midterms back. The average grade in the class was a 53%. No curve will be applied. I was lucky to get a 80%. I get the impression that the median grade was closer to 40%. The teacher is unapologetic. He seems to think the problem is on our end. To be fair, the problems are doable, but you have to know the process cold and either be really lucky or really perceptive in order to get them done. Better than a third of the class will be getting danger of failure notices this midterm. So, I survive. Tonight I will work late (read early) to finish the models for tomorrows presenation. I have one scheme at a wrong scale almost completed. One of my orignal schemes was rejected out of hand, and the other needs major revisions. This is just at the basic design phase. We're not even talking actual modelmaking yet. But I've got until 1:15 PM tomorrow to do it.

Tomorrow is wednesday. I can work on my project in the morning, present in the afternoon, and in the evening I can do laundry and figure out a presentation on a paper topic in Latin American desgin that I have to do Thursday. I'll find time to pack somewhere between tomorrow afternoon and when Sally takes me to the airport Thursday. I've figured out the route and trains etc to get to Norwich England but I still need to print out a map.

Run, Alec, Run.

Mar 5, 2006

Sunday with the Walkers

Worked more on my history paper today. Went over to Sally and Jonathan's for dinner. Sally made an delicious roast chicken which was really moist and tender, mashed potatos and broccoli. We had cinnamon rolls for dessert and Sarah and Gabriel made me brownies to take home. Good stuff. I brought over the tape of Taylor and Me back in 1991, when I was about six or seven and taylor was two. She thought we were adorable. If I can find the time (and if I get the check in the mail), I'll convert the tape to DVD and bring it with me to moscow. If not, I'll give it to the family when I see them this summer. Unfortuantely, Sally burned her arm really badly against the baking pan, so that put her arm out of comission for the evening so I helped where I could.

Some very talented second year architecture student put together a website for the college of design students. Apparently he was frustrated with the completey useless and innavegable school page. The site is really a large forum with different categories. It can be seen here, at and should be a good clearinghouse of information.

Today I realized that I havn't seen any of the movies up for Best Picture, Best Actor, or Best Actress at the Academy Awards. I've not been to the movies in awhile.

An unexciting saturday- optional reading

Pretty straightforward day- went grocery shopping with ben this morning and we made fun of all the usesless and absurd products. Picked up a bag of suki food and kittly litter. It was a beautiful day today. A bunch of college students had a party with margaritas out by the pool. I worked some more on my history paper and came up with a third pool design. Tomorrow I'll pound out some models and make some more site adjustments.

Bleh. That was terrible.

Thursday I listened to a really interesting leture on Andean native culture over in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Boliva, etc. The lecturer talked about an interesting point concernig stylization in thier art and crafts. In contrast to the Judeo-Christian mythology which stems from a Platonic system of thought, that things on earth are imperfect and flawed representations of perfect ideas on the heavenly plane, the indians believe that the spiritual world is contained WITHIN the everyday. The owl is an owl, but it is also a concealed goddess of the night on a lower plane.

What happens is that after awhile, the earth and the gods wear down, and can no longer keep order and things get confused. The spirit world intrudes, the gods forget who they are and become monsters, and consume the world. In fact, there were a bunch of native movents a little while back like Ghostdance, and in Ecuador there was a big panic becasue someone reported a talking land snail- talking animals is a sure sign of the return of the old magic days.

Anyway, more fodder for my paper in latin american design. I'd like to write a book either from the vantage point of a talking snail, or the guy who finds it.

Mar 4, 2006


Thank you, Jeffery Cook, a recently deceased professor who taugt architecture history at ASU. I found a bound course packet he assembled and edited in the 1960s at the huge book sale for $3. In it, he incuded a preface to Andrea Palladio's Four Books on Architecture, and a brief discussion of the text. He raised a key point, a keystone in the floating argument I needed to create a thesis for comparing Palladio to Sinan, the Ottoman architect. I live for moments like these. The chocolate covered expresso beans I had a little earlier are playing that role too, great caffinee buzz past midnight, the downtempo trip-hop of Massive Attack flowing from my speakers.

Today I picked up a bunch of dad's stuff from his office, the opposite end of town. Inside he had some familiar statues and some very dated pictures of me, taylor, and mom. Taylor was still a good foot shorter than I was, for instance. I stopped and bought some very cheap necessites (great deals on batman and Ice Age cereal for a dollar) plus bread and PB for sandwhiches. Also picked up my shoes which I'd forgotten at the pubic pool in Scottsdale.

Did some designing for my pool project in sketchup, very general rough 3d models. With extended edges, and simple line transparency, it looks like a rough sketch on the screen. Maybe I'll post some images later.

From the tone of my posts, one may get the impression that I'm overstressed and unhappy. While there are crunch times and crises in my college life, in general, I'm satisfied with my lifestyle. My work seems vital and relevant to me, I'm extremely optimistic about my future in college and in my career, and designing is the coolest thing. I do admit I am frequently stressed, don't get any excercise other than biking 2 miles a day to and from school, and probably don't eat enough. However, I've not been seriously ill for at least two years (knock on wood). I can't remember the last time I was bedridden. I've managed to keep my head above the water so far. My only "social life" is online. I could make more time for it, date and socialize more, but its just not what I want. I'm tired of waiting for my next step of development, and I think all of this is slowing me down and holding me back, especially since I'm too quick to submerge my will in friends and the fluff of socializing. For this reason, I need an extended period to throw myself into my work, in order to more fully define myself. Bring on the crucible.

Mar 2, 2006

Structures Midterm

Just finished with my structures midterm. It was surpringly straightforward, as long as one remembered all the steps to take. The teacher didn't help, although he tried to give us clarifying remarks on the test questions, although most of what it did was illuminte vital peices that people had missed, and thus set a lot of people back a long way. It was basically everything he'd showed us how to do, but just a lot of steps and each sequential step relied back on what you got for the original step, and most of the problems were actaully several problems as you had to figure out (for instance) the reaction of an unnamed girder coming into the girder you were trying to figure out because it was going to contribute a point load. The last three problems took me about ten minutes, and the first three took more than an hour. Anyway, no I can focus on all the studio junk our professor wants us to do (more research ) on top of the models he wants for wednesday. Oh, that and the paper I have due tuesday.


Felt really run down yesterday.
The day began badly. I had planned to meet my mentor in downtown phoenix before 8:30 in the morning, but I set my alarm for 6:30 AM I think. I'd been up late the night before, and so I staggered over to the clock and realized it was too early. I thought I reprogrammed it to wake me up an hour later, but I learned never to trust my brain before 7 AM. I awoke and the first thing I noticed was how light the room was. I felt pretty rested- must have been a full 90 minute sleep cycle. I look at the clock. 8:10. So I throw my nice clothes on, grab my stuff, and hit the road. Traffic is bad, but not terrible, so I end up 15 minutes late. My mentor doesn't seem to mind. We talk about the pool project and he gives me general advice and some ideas.

In studio, today we present our findings on the site analysis. It's informal, but I've taken the responsibility of priniting my cut and fill analysis on two 20"x20" sheets, the standard size our instructor decided on. This is a large format print. I've learned from the last project that the cheapest place to get large stuff printed is at the college of design print shop upstairs. There's still two hours until class, and I only need black and white.

The problem is its run by students, apparently from the road development poeple. I can barely get them to talk to me. They yawn and tell me it will be three hours, minimum, before they can do it. They have three projects to print ahead of mine. Physical printing takes maybe two minutes. I stake out other print shops around campus- no one can handle 20x20 in less than a few days. I go back to the upstairs print shop. They wont even talk to me. My friend Aldo is there, getting something printed. I asked him how he managed to get them to do it. He said he had to wait in the tiny room for over an hour, aggrivated, I go back down to studio and try to get our classroom plotter working. It could print what I need. After spending half an hour working with three people to install the paper, it prints my work in very fine, light red. Completely unreadable from more than a foot away. Completely out of time, I print it out on 8.5 x 11 and call it done.

Inexplicably, a full college meeting is called that morning. The only notification we recieve is our history of architecture professor mentions it among a lot of other stuff. That and our studio teacher lets us know fifteen minutes in advance.

I can't tell you how aggrivating it is to attend a college which is all about the communication of ideas, yet communicates nothing to its students. They pulled the same stunt with the internship meeting! If they want me somewhere, send me a email (more than an hour in advance) or put up some posters or announcements!

The only gratificiation I felt was when I realized they called it because the entire college faculty is stressed out over the accredation. The accredation team comes this weekend and will stay a few days. They had us post student work all over the place. At the meeting, they hastily explained the college's plans for a glorious and groundbreaking future (just in case someone asks) and that if the accredation pulls you aside to ask questions about the college, you should be honest, but don't make it into a "bitch session" (thier words).

I'm no idiot, and I hope none else is going to say or do anything in front of the accredation team that would devalue the college from which they get thier degree.

Anyway, felt stressed and listless all day- no patience at all. Its the lack of sleep, food, and the stuff I need to get done. For next wednesday, we need to have three models of possible designs for our pool complexes. The day before that, I have my history paper due, which I still havn't started writing. Thursday I've got to give a ten minute presentation on how my latin american design paper is coming. I need to spend some serious time focusing and narrowing my topic down to something managable. Today is my structures midterm. Not looking forward to it, although I think I'll do ok.

Did get some good news though. They're moving the travel scholarship presentation meeting to the wednesday after I get back from Europe. This will give me a little bit of time to prepare something and practice while I'm over there.

As I was in serious need of decompression after studio, I went swimming with Nickee at a public pool. She does swimming as a regular workout and I wanted to experiance a public pool firsthand for my architecture project. It wasn't a bad design. You could see the pool right when you walked in, and while the locker rooms reeked of chlorine, they were nicely tiled and had high ceilings and bounced lighting. Swimming, followed by a hot shower, felt great.

but back to study.

Medium is the message

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