Jun 30, 2006

More Insanity

Listening to NPR on the way home, the newscaster asked a reporter to describe the polls in Kuwait, where women are being allowed to vote for the first time. Aloud, I said "It's really hot!" After a moment of silence, the reporter said "well, it's really, really hot." Made me laugh anyway. I'll be heading down there in about two weeks. Two weeks. Scary. Still so much to get done.

Today after work I went to Scottsdale to listen to Eddie Jones and three of his clients present thier views on the work his office did for them. There were maybe ten people in the audience, two of which were Aldo and Ivonik, friends of mine, and one of which was a studio professor from ASU. A shame, but a really cool lecture. Even though the auditorium was pretty empty, Mr. Jones still launched into his talk with zeal and enthusiasm. He is, by far, the most charismatic architect I've ever seen. He reminds me a bit of George Lucas, a little overweight, with a salt and pepper beard and hair. Dressed very casually. It's very easy to see why he is one of the most architects in Phoenix, landing projects even when his competition has had more experiance with the types of projects they're competing for. Unsurprisingly, his easy manner and charisma gets him a lot of private residences for extremely rich clients, and he delivers. His work is good, and this may sound elitist, but I think the high society clients pick him because he can deliver a really "architectural" house which looks very avant garde. He's very approachable and we three talked with him for about ten minutes after the presentation.

Aldo, Ivanik, and I all work at very different firms. Aldo works at custom home builder up in scottsdale, which really does more site adapted spanish mission stucco style work and floorplans, while also being the builder and developer. At the other end of the spectrum is Ivanik, who works at a very small firm doing very high design work. I'm at the medium corporate architecture office, which puts a heavier emphasis on design, but still does a ton of institutional projects for the airport, and several universities. Anyway, after the lecture, we went to Applebees for happy hour.

Yesterday, I decided to try a different route from work. I drove south, intending to reach university or broadway and take it over from the city center, but I saw the mountains and kept driving south until I reached the desert foothills of south mountain. I threw on a tee shirt I had in the back, rolled up my work pants, clipped on a liter of water and set off on a little trail leading up. I hiked for about half and hour, following little trails. One brought me up to a high clearing on top of a hill, and on a massive rock, I found a bunch of old indian petroglyphs. From the vantage point, I could see tons of trails back in the mountains. I'm still not fully comprehending the fact that I won't be back for at least six months.

Jun 25, 2006

Interesting weekend

Friday, after work, I drove down to Tucson for Whitney's welcome home party. Saw quite a few old friends down there and made a few new ones. The party was really fun, at a big house someone was housesitting, not many people, close friends only. The house belonged to this 50-60 year old single woman who was apparently some kind of desert hippie. Most of the furnature and acessories looked straight out of CostPlus World Market and she had tibetan prayer flags strewn everywhere. Interesting choice of colors and major furnature pieces were "rustic missionary" style. So a funky place to have a party. The theme was Pink Panther, but all I got were blank looks when I mentioned Peter Sellers. Everyone just wore pink and there was lots of pink food and drinks. It was really a lot of fun.

Drove back home Saturday afternoon. Today, I went out and played two sets of tennis with Aldo. Niether one of us had played in a few years, but we picked up quickly. Aldo destroyed me, taking the first set 6-1 and the second 6-3. I just made so many mistakes, really defeating myself. It was good to get out and get some exercise, even if it was in the heat.

Dinner with the Walkers tonight. Really good chicken with zucchini. Did some laundry over there, and Johnathan gave me one the big D-cell maglites, sicne he just got one that was a good two feet long from his company. Sarah and Gabriel thoughly enjoyed running around trying to evade the "prison lights" we were shining on them. Good timing on the maglite too as the power was out when I got back home. They got it back on after about another half an hour.

I lit some candles when the power was out and found myself thinking about when I was little, I would feverantly wish for blackouts, because dad couldn't sleep without air conditioning, and so we got to go to a hotel, which was a like a vacation adventure for me back then. I really wanted to call him tonight because it's morning over there, but I feel really stupid because can't find the sheet where I wrote all their numbers down.

Jun 22, 2006

On Poetry and Autobahns

I'm still having strange dreams, but I think I'm ignoring them better now. Last night I dreampt about Taylor and a trip I went on to see him. Cable is a lovely mental anesthetic. If Karl Marx were alive, he would have said that television is the opiate of the masses. I watched a tv show yesterday about the autobahn. They made a big deal about the fact that it actually has fewer fatalities than american highways, but only made passing mention of the superior german cars, the mandatory individual driving training for a licecnce, the 18 year old minimum for a licence, and the fact that a driver's licence is $1,500 over there. See: here I am, writing in a blog about what I'm watching on TV.

Today we had another "happy hour" at work, where we stopped work an hour early and went downstairs for snacks and beer and looked over a lot of the old work that DWL did in the valley, including a slideshow from 20 years back. DWL's been working in the valley since the 1950's. The renderings they had, careful line drawings in ink, renderings in markers, we don't learn anymore. The chinese would say that we've lost the qi in the computer renderings. In that way, I think we're really missing out. Sure, give me some thousand dollar software with the latest light rendering engines and radiosity controls. It may be hyper-acurate, down to the color bouncing off of a colored wall onto perfectly rendered water, but it's still lacking that human touch. We're not taught drawing skills in school anymore, but really, it takes too much time. We're specializing in design, and the aestethic side of the profession is suffering, which is probably why we're seeing the rise of the interior designer.

Picked up some fresh mozzarella and tomatos for dinner with a fresh loaf of garlic bread. The cheese was good, but all my knives were dull and mostly smashed the tomatos. Mom got the tickets to Dubai, so I'm going there and then to Argentina. If you throw in the Maldives as a side trip, I'll set foot on four continents within the span of three weeks. It's hard to get more global than that.

Jun 21, 2006

blah blah blah

Sunday I went for a 1o mile hike in the Superstitions. It was a really endurance-testing hike, but it was definately worth it. At least my sunburn is now fading. Monday I worked late until 8 PM finalizing the presentation for the ASU police station. Hey, I get paid overtime so its definately worth the extra hours. The meeting was at the ASU foundation center at 9, so I got to sleep in until 8, which was really nice. The presentation was in one of the main conferance rooms. The room had what I took to be a giant flatscreen monitor, and then was amazed to see that it was actually a touchscreen. The tech who loaded our powerpoint presentation just tapped the screen in a direct interface.

The presentation went well- we had only 45 mins for the talk including comments and questions. The ASU board people seemed to like it, showing concern primarily with the ability of the police on the third floor to see into people's backyards. Those few houses behind the station will never see house parties again.

Afterwards I went to set up my ticket to Abu Dhabi, so it worked out perfectly.
Tuesday made some corrections to the ASU police model and then started work on the condos again, this time working on modeling the scottsdale stadium from scratch. Finished that today, and started working on modeling the other houses around the condos site. Drove down there this morning and took pictures of the area.

Jun 16, 2006

Football vs Futbol

Watching the World Cup with Aldo made me acutely aware of the reasons why the average American has no idea that the world cup is even going on. In fact, The Onion had a hilarious satire about it, writing about how devistated the US was for thier loss, including rioting in the streets, businesses still closed three days after the game, and all the national monuments draped in black bunting.

For the uninitiated, the World Cup is a soccer (Futbol) tournament elayed every four years by the top 40 teams, more or less, from around the world. The US has been in the World Cup only in the last few times. In contrast to the World Series, this is truly a global event on the scale of the Olympics, with the notable exception of the far east, which is a whole other story.

Anyway, just comparing it to American football highlighted our differences from the rest of the world. Futball is amorphous, almost organic, constantly shifting, with as few interruptions as possible. If there's a fault by one of the players, they take possession of the ball and keep on playing in a blink of an eye. I get confused watching it because I'm still trying to keep track of which team has the ball. In contrast, Football is about precision, regulation, and operating within a rigid and meticuous framework. After every burst of running, passing, or kicking, the teams regroup, fall into cordinated positions, the system resets, and after everything is equal, the game resumes. We are a nation which lives by order, rules, and in a hierarchy of systems.

In Futbal, you can expect anyone to score a gol, and the players roles are not really fixed at all-save that of the goalie. In Football, there are players who block, players who throw, and players who run. Their roles are much more defined. Its part of a deeper cultural rift as well- our national sports are those which highlight the individual-we talk about the star quarterbacks like south americans talk about the entire Brazilian team. The Europeans and the South Americans communicate by touch, looks, body language, and the team is much more whole and organic. Today I saw the Mexican goalie giving a "calm down" sign to his team, and they listen to him and respect him, Aldo was explaining that he really acts as the heart of the team.

In Football, the players communicate in huddles; meetings where assignments are doled out to individual players. We pride ourselves on our individualism. Our other national pastime is also extremely organized, and evey player gets a single turn at bat and to run on his own. We're a much more analytical nation. The games on TV show every angle of a play, reconstructed, replayed, picked apart by the commentary, and much of what is great about American football is that so much of it is the strategy, the tension between plays, almost like a game of chess on a big field. Plays are analyzed, drawn on the screen, and scrutinized. The line of scrimmage is digitally highlighted. You never ever see that with Futbol.

Personally, I'm torn between them. It's not uncommon to watch Futbol games where no one ever scores, and it gets really boring because the game looks the same no matter the part its at. Football drags on and on with all of its interruptions and stops. If a ref calls a foul in Football, and its not clear what happened, the coaches and players will stop and argue with the ref. They'll stop play and let the refs look at the tapes. Americans get really agitated if they think something is not FAIR.

In Futbol, the ref's word is law. There's no looking at tapes, no arguing. So many times, I've seen on the TV faults make that the ref's don't catch, or players that take a dive after bumping into another player so they get a penalty shot. Other times, players are really hurt by the opposite team and the ref doesn't see it, so they get up and go on or off the field. It's NOT FAIR, truth be told, and frustrating to me as an American. Especially as the crowds began to chant "Asshole!" when someone is taking too long to get up or get off. At my high school football games, if someone on the team got hurt (even with all of our padding, helmets, etc.) everyone hushed and both sides of the team took a knee until the player heroically staggered off the field to applause.

It's interesting. To me anyway.

While we're on the subject, I worked late at work today, up until three PM instead of the usual 11:30 AM. We're finishing up the presentation. Talked to the project architect over lunch and he thinks that the result of fewer architects being licenced coupled with a demand which is soaring, that in the near future, there's never been a better time to be an architect. This has a few implications, he explained. 1) We're going to be better paid and better recognized. 2) As our fees increase, we'll work higher level jobs for bigger clients. 3) Subarchitects and developers will move in even more and dominate the fast food places, strip malls, etc, things which really only require slight modifications to a general standardized plan. 4) when the economy does eventually cycle back into the toilet, we'll really be in trouble because the niche for desinging Taco Bells has already been filled.

Sounds like a fun ride anyway.

Jun 15, 2006

The Commuter

Today I tried something new. The Phoenix metro bus service also offers an Express service. From several city centers to downtown, which is excellent. Tempe, unfortuantely, isn't one of them. However, the last stop on the Mesa Express before it hops on the freeway is about a mile and a half from my apartment. So I biked out this morning, locked my bike up near the bus stop, and waited about five minutes.

The driver told me that this was an express bus that went straight downtown. I'm surprised he felt compelled- I was dresssed like everyone else on the bus, collared shirts, slacks, nice shoes. It was an amazing contrast between the regular red line. People were predominantly white, many of them were reading (I never see people reading on the regular bus), and one guy was WORKING ON A LAPTOP. It was also silent as the tomb. It made me crack a smile as we all stared straight ahead, not speaking at all to one another. On the regular busses, there's always conversations going on, between random strangers, between groups of kids, and the infernal "we are approaching fifth street---with connections to---- line-- forty---seven" kicks on every few minutes.

Not that I'm complaining, I caught the express at 6:50 AM, it dropped me in front of the central library at 7:10, and I walked the rest of the way to work, another fifteen minutes up central. Next time, I'll bring my bike because these busses have the thing on the front you can load your bike on, and that will speed thing up even more.

Anyway, work is work. Picked up a dog at 7-11 and some chips for lunch. Still working on the ASU police presentation, but its all coming togather.

Going home, I'm too late to catch the outbound express, so I settle for the ol' bad line, straight, long, long, long shot back home. I actually get off early and take a different, smaller bus to get a stop right by the apartment. It's all free on my ASU bus pass. On the regualar bus in contrast to the more white collar class of the Express, I sat next to an absolutely appalling smelling couple with carts, and across from a man with an obvious mental disabilitiy who kept giggling and making faces at nobody in particular.

Picked up my bike in the minivan after I got home. Still there. Not thrilled to leave it out there on scottsdale road for so long, but if it was taken, $35 down the drain.

Also took another step towards the levittown house with the prefab family. I went in with Aldo to get the expanded cable, which is about a hundred channels including CNN, Nickelodeon, and a bunch of other stuff. With the $1o reduction in our internet bill for signing up for cable, we'll pay $40 a month each for high speed internet and cable TV, instead of just $25 each for the internet.

Jun 12, 2006

quickie

All my love to a family in transition.

Life goes on normally here, not too much to report. Saw Cars this weekend with Emily and Janelle. I'm finding myself making excuses to drive myself to work more often (but not tomorrow) and begining to think about how much caffffiifinfnnennneneeeeee and sugar I'm getting. I should start walking or something in the evenings when I get off of work.

Work is progressing smoothly. I'm still working on the ASU police project and juggling that with some other tasks. Last thursday I spent about two hours folding drawings for archiving. Today I sat through a painfully boring luncheon on the company's insurance changes and financial planners (I was just there for the free lunch, I dont get either one). If I'm ever as enthusiastic or bubbly as the presenters today even when talking about life insurance (or more acurately, death insurance) I'll have no problems at all presenting to clients.

I got a haircut over the weekend- an inch off all around. Very nice for the heat, but not so great in the looks department. I think I now resemble barney rubble sans the cowlick thing. In desparation I slicked it back with some gel. Reminded me of dad. One guy at the office actually confused me for a different person.

And things roll along. I'm working on my spanish with Aldo and filling out paperwork for the argentine visa. Need to get that done soon. My potential van buyer also touched base today- should hear back more on that shortly.

I'm excited about working- I love the weekends, but I've got a job which is challenging, interesting, somewhat suited to my abilities. I'm glad I work there. I look forward to it far more than the commute, either coming or going.

Been reading too- read a great book called The Alchemist which I found so easy to read and compelling enough to finish in five hours. I also picked up The Riverrun Trilogy, a book I've not read since at least junior high. I remember reading it on the boat to Singapore, coming back from that island off the coast of Malaysia. That was a cool trip. Wish they had islands like that around here.

Jun 3, 2006

video blog

Mas o menos

Last week was more of the same. Took the bus wednesday and my car for the next two days. On days that I ride the bus, I only have 4 hours of free time- and that includes the time to eat and get ready and the morning. I'm still working on the ASU police station in sketchUp. Have to finish the model next week for presentation. My boss doesnt' think we're going to be able to sell the condos I designed to the client- the rise in the costs of insurance that the firm has would have to be matched by the client and he doesn't think that's going to happen. Especially in light of the fact that the clients are trying to go as cheap as possible. So thats a bit dissapointing, but we'll see what's transpired monday.

Last night Aldo and I hit dos gringos and four peaks. Such a contrast. Dos is a real college dive and relishes its tacky, flip flops atmosphere with over the top christmas lights, cartoony mexican archcitecture, etc. When I think of ASU personified as a bar, I think of Dos. Huge student clientelle, mostly skewing younger, and everyone with tans and two $2 coronas. Equally crowded, and equally old establishment, Four Peaks is a definate step up. A little more pricy, everyone dresses a little better, looks a little older, and the handmade beer is amazing.

I've been having strange dreams last three nights. Can't remember specifics really, but the tone and setting seem to be the same, which makes me think they're all part of the same story. I'll see if I can remember tonight.

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...