May 31, 2007

Alec's New Pad

I'm completely moved into my studio apartment downtown. It's about a ten minute walk to work from here. The car is still doing great. I'm down to a third of a tank, but I've covered about 550 miles so far, averaging about 50 miles to the gallon. Saori and I have been going on night drives around the city, just cruising, listening to music, and exploring. Its nice, and different, having my own car for once.



New Apartment

May 25, 2007

New Car!






I have a new car!

It's a 2007 Prius, about as green as you can get. Silver with gray interior. Sally picked me up this morning and we went to the credit union for all the paperwork. Then they gave me the key and told me to enjoy. Sally took some photos. All the DMV stuff the credit union took care of, so that was great. My plates will be mailed to me soon, and I've got a temporary plate.

It's incredible. I have my own car. This isn't a bicycle. This isn't mom and dad's old minivan, or as nice as it was, Sally and Jonathan's SUV. I drove it home, took Saori for a quick spin, then drove downtown (on surface streets to break it in, freeways are too fast) where I finished the paperwork on my new studio apartment. Got my keys and the gate clicker. Then I got a call from the glasses place and drove back to Tempe to pick up my new eyeglasses.

Afterwards, I swung back by the apartment and picked up Saori and drove up to Scottsdale for some ice cream. We returned in the afternoon to pick up my roommate Sal and drive him to the airport. He's going to spend the next two weeks in Europe with an old professor of mine, traveling to Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona to study architecture, interior design, and urbanism. Lots of luggage space in the Prius and the back seats fold down nicely to get a lot of space.

To start the car is radically different. I have a smart key which means, when I get within a foot of the door, the car unlocks automatically. As long as I have the fob with me, I don't even have to stick it in the dash. I just push the On button, and the car turns on, throw it into reverse, and then back out, aided by the backup camera monitor. It's really cool. When I park, I just push the park button, and then turn off the car by pushing the on button again. There's a button on the handle of the door which locks the car again after I get out.

Turning radius is great, sensitive brakes, and very easy to drive. Not sure how fast it can accelerrate, but I didn't buy it to race. The guide recommends against fast accelerations and stops anyway until I get it broken in.

May 23, 2007

Welcome to the world, Mr. Perkins!

I've realized the other day that I feel like I'm in a new studio. This one just happens to be getting set up for my next phase of life. I'm working simultaneously on getting a credit card, a car, car insurance, and a new apartment, and playing with projected income and outflows. It's a totally new world for me, as only a person without a shred of credit to his name can attest to. I've gone to several dealerships, come close to signing on a car deal, joined a credit union with $25, and am currently working with their car purchasing agent to get the best deal possible on a car.

I feel a bit like an immigrant: there are new rules, new currencies, lots of beaurocracy and paperwork, and a new language to learn: prepayment penalties, 401k plans, bodily injury liability, FICA, etc etc.

It's a daunting new world, but I'll learn it and it will soon become just the mundane minutia of life. As stressful as buying new cars is now, my first apartment was the same way. Now, I actually enjoy apartment hunting. Finding the best deals, the best floorplans, proximities, etc.
Back to work.

May 17, 2007

the design of my behavior in human behavior and design

It's been very lonely at the apartment lately. Many of my friends have taken off already or are visiting family. My roommate is always at his girlfriend's apartment, and Saori and her mom are on a trip up to Antelope Canyon and the far north of Arizona. Sal just left this afternoon back to Rio Rico, although he'll be back sunday to finish packing up the apartment. He's going on a summer abroad trip through Europe with professor Bernardi, another Argentine professor at ASU with whom I've had a class before.

Speaking of ASU, I got my final grades back from this semester with some good news and some bad. My other classes went great, but my heart was just not in my human behavior and design class. I was still staggered to recieve a C+ in the class, due to the fact I'd missed more than three classes, which meant I lost a full 10 percentage points overall, a stupid oversight on my part. However, I got A's and A- in all my other classes, including studio, which I was very pleased about.

Last night, Sal and a friend of his took me to Four Peaks to watch the Suns play the Spurs. I've really not been following the western conference at all, but I had an idea that the suns were playing particulary well this year. It was a quarter final game, and very intense, and Four Peaks was absolutely packed to standing room only. It was fun, the bar was very much into the game, and so it was a big disappointment when the Suns lost by two points, something like 76-78.

May 16, 2007

Hunting and Gathering

Well, I think I've attended the last of the graduation parties.
Yesterday I went to breakfast at Harlow's with Saori and her mom, and then we drove up to the top of south mountain to get a view of the city. In the afternoon, I started working on getting a car. I drove to the Scott Toyota on McDowell to no avail. I spent twenty minutes, inside and out, trying to get someone to talk to me. A dozen employees, some with other potential customers, walked right by me, and though I tried to get their attention, glossed over me. It's embarrassing. Do I have to get on desk, or drive over one of them for a little service? As I recall, Scott Toyota gave Mom and I a really sleazy impression when we went car shopping there a few years back. I seemed to recall them trying to give us a price nearly a third higher than the other Toyota dealers in the valley. Anyway, there are other dealerships, so I'm heading there next.

This morning I went and visited a few apartments downtown. None of them are very nice, but they're decently clean, and very well located. The one I'll probably go with is a studio that runs $470 a month with utilities included. It's about three miles from work, so I'll be able to bike pretty easily. There was a nicer one with lots of greenery closer to work, but all they have are more expensive one bedrooms. I'll look at my planned budget again and see.

I scrounged up my old blog entries I'd published on my old website, and on Xanga while I was still on that, before I switched over to Blogspot.com. I took all the entries I had between September of 2003 and May of 2007, reformatted the text to look the same, and printed it all out and had it wirebound. The resulting book is about an inch thick, with every page filled, double sided. I titled it Four Years at Arizona State University and Abroad. I wanted a hardcopy record from my time at ASU.

May 14, 2007

Reflections on four years

When I started college at ASU, it was my silver metal. I had had vauge notions of going to an Ivy League school, but of course, when you only apply to one of them, odds are against you. As I began freshman year, I promised myself that I would get as good an education as Rice students if I worked as hard as they did (or what I imagined they did). Two years later, I was happy to be at ASU.

ASU made me consider the parts of my life that I’d long neglected, or considered insignificant in relation to school. For me, it taught me that education is not just what teachers tell you, but also what happens outside of class, working on my own, discovering how to enjoy myself, spending time with friends, filling out my life. ASU really mellowed me out, allowed me to take a step back and look at the larger picture. Sometimes, for me, watching a spectaular sunset is important than getting to class on time. I’ve learned to forgive myself sometimes.

I think that if I’d gone to Rice straight from high school, I would have missed the bigger picture. I used to think of education as its own end, higher than anything else. I would have done well there, firmly entrenched in academia, but would I have been happier? I don’t think so. If I went there now, knowing what I know, I think I would be able to get more out of it.

I think I’ve mostly fulfilled my promise to myself. An architecture degree is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I got through the first year on my high school academia honors mindset, the second year on the challenge of acceptance to upper division, the third year on the pure love of architecture, and the fourth year on attempting to understand the relation of architecture to larger issues.

Before I started the program, I was warned by my aunt who also happens to be an architect. She told me, truthfully, that it’s a very hard road to go, and you spend a lot of time with a small group of people, and that unless you love it, its not worth it. Good advice. I decided to go for architecture anyway. Freshman year, I was in a special program where I lived in a dorm with about 20 other architecture students in my class, and we had special acess to professors, shared studio space with the class a year ahead of ours, and dedicated facilities close to the architecture building. Interestingly, only two of the original 20 graduated this year in the architecture program: Molly, and me.

Some of my friends have been dissapointed with where we ultimately ended up, but I think ASU did a decent job of getting us to a certain point. No, I can’t immediately hop into the field as a project architect, but I can design a building, I have some knowledge of all the systems and parts that go into a project, and a good foundation of design. I’ve also picked up a half dozen computer programs for designing, drafting, and rendering which I could turn around and use by themselves.

Four summers ago, I had my first job scooping ice cream for retirees in an antiques market. I think I was paid somewhere in the range of six dollars an hour. Now, I’m taking a salaried position at one of the most prolific architecture firms in the valley.

Outside of school, I have been astounded by all that I have done in the last four years, including backpacking through Europe, tropical island vacations, a semester abroad in South America which is the highlight of my life so far, music, a vastly expanded social and dating life compared to high school, and too many other travels and adventures to mention. It’s been good.

May 13, 2007

Saturday

Friday night, I went to another late graduation party after I dropped my grandmothers off at their hotel. The parties have been pretty low key, but I know the people there, I enjoy myself, and its a nice change from when I graduated high school, when the only graduation party I attended or was invited to was my own.

Saturday morning, I picked up my grandmothers and we drove to the Phoenix Art Museum where we joined the hordes of people going to see the Rembrandt and Dutch Painters exhibition. The museum has had a major remodeling since I was last there, and I really liked what they had done with the entry. The exhibit was good, about a dozen Rembrandt's, two or three really great pieces in my opinion. Before we went in, we stopped by the Museum Cafe to grab some lunch.

The cafe is called Arcadia Farms, and the organization is terrible. When you walk in, you are immediately asked how many people in your group, and given a wait time. The problem is that they don't tell you that you only need to wait if you want table service with the restaurant menu. Immediately behind the server, there is a long display case and bar with food and drinks which could be easily mistaken for a buffet. If you order from this deli bar, then you can't sit down inside, but must eat outside. Fortunately grandma Perkins got a sandwich from the main menu, while grandma Case and I got deli sandwiches, so even though we got evil-eyed, we still were not asked to leave.

After the exhibition, I took them by my workplace which was a few doors down from there. They seemed to like it, and took my photo in the lobby beside the company logo. Afterwards, I took them to the airport and dropped them off for their flight back to Oklahoma City. I'm really glad they came.

Later that afternoon, a friend of mine from studio invited me to his graduation party, so I got directions and took off for that. His party was at his mother's housing complex community center way up in northwest Gilbert. Most of his extended family lives in town, so everybody was there, and it really felt like a family reunion with all different ages, and kids running around everywhere. It was a fun party too. Saw my old studio instructor who also once worked where I do, but now has his own firm.

That evening, I went to a last party of graduate students and ran into a bunch of older students I knew from the dorms, so it was good to catch up with them.

May 11, 2007

Graduation Convocation

Today I had to get up even earlier and bike down to Gammage to get ready for Convocation. They had us arrive at 8, but didn't lead us out until 9, so we mingled in the cramped backstage area. This involves the entire college of design, including everyone from Interiors, to Planning, to Landscape, Design Studies, building administration et al, so it was pretty packed. Saori and her mom spent an hour and a half putting her special kimono on, one that traditionally she is supposed to wear only twice in her life- graduation from college, and then for the photos afterwards. Looked great, but very warm.

Convocation went smoothly, they announced me as "Alex Perkins" when I handed them the card with "Alexander Perkins," but they completely butchered Saori's name, mis-reading it as "Sandy" ah well. We got our degree holders and walked across the stage. Pretty quick ceremony. Finished in less than an hour and a half.

After the ceremony, Sally, Jonathan, and the family took us to Oreganos where we had an early lunch feast. Afterwards, my grandmothers and I lounged by the pool at the hotel, reading, talking, and enjoying the cool water. I was stung by a wasp, which was a little painful. I was concerned I might be allergic to wasp stings since I'd never been stung before, but the swelling and redness disappeared within an hour. Around 5 o'clock, grandma Case made a comment about cocktail hour, so I decided to take them to Four Peaks brewery, where we enjoyed a pitcher of beer. They were excited to have the "complete college experience."

Anyway, photos: click on the Webshots link to see the full sized photos.



Graduation 2007

May 10, 2007

Commencement


Today I had my degree officially conferred upon me at the ASU convocation, along with about 3200 other graduates who showed up (about half of the total student population graduating). My grandmothers took a shuttle from their hotel to the arena where it took place, and in keeping with my typical M.O., I took the city bus. Luckily a short distance. In honor of my grandparents visiting from Oklahoma, and in deference to the official State Neckwear, I wore a bolo tie which belonged to my grandfather Case. I also rummaged up an old silver bracelet mom gave me when I was about ten. Commencement was good. It was pretty snappy, nobody talked for very long, I'd never heard of the commencement speaker, but apparently he was a key figure in sequencing the human genome. He talked for a short bit about duty. Then they recognized the people who graduated with honors, so I got to stand up when they called for all those with Summa Cum Laude. Then they had all the colleges stand up individually, and after presenting all of us to President Crow, he officially conferred the degrees, and we all cheered. And that was about it. I had a lot of fun watching the various costumed people come in. I recall I went to commencement as a freshman to start college almost as a lark, just to see what it was. Same old robes.

After the ceremony, I met up with Sally and my grandmothers and we took some photos outside. Somewhere in there I lost my regular glasses, so now I'm wearing my temporary ones. Later that afternoon, we went back and my grandmothers hunted around where we were while I idled on the side of the road. I would have parked but unbelievably they seemed to be having ceremonies the entire afternoon so the traffic was terrible.

I took them to Fashion Square in Scottsdale for a bit this afternoon, where we got a bite to eat at the Kona Grill, (and I got grandma Loretta to try a bit of my sushi), and I replaced a battery in my watch. They didn't find anything, but enjoyed looking and getting outraged at the luxury prices of everything.

This evening, a friend of mine had an extra ticket to the college of architecture/landscape party so I was able to bring both my grandparents as dates. It was nice, all the faculty were there, free drinks, some food, really good desserts, all at the Stone House at the Phoenix Zoo. Hung out there for a bit and met Saori's mom who was also in town for the occasion. My grandparents got free bouquets in vases as the party wound down.

Tomorrow is the more intimate ceremony with just the college of design graduates. Should be fun.

May 9, 2007

Las Abuelas

Monday night I turned in my sketchbook for my sketching class. I had finished 250 pages out of 400, which is at least 50 pages more than most people's books. I was sad to let it go, actually having grown fond of it while I worked on it. I'll get it back in about a month. After we turned it in, Saori and her roommate, me, my roommate all got Italian food to go and we had a picnic in the park by Tempe Town Lake.

Well, I took my last final yesterday afternoon. It took me all of 30 minutes to finish the short, multiple choice test. We'll see how I did. With that, I was done with ASU. No more classes, no more finals, no more submissions, no more paperwork. That evening, Sally picked me up and took me to a very nice celebratory dinner at Z-Tejas, and stuffed me with great food and berry cobbler. Afterwards, I went back to her house and she lent me her extremely nice SUV to shuttle my grandparents around.

My grandmothers flew in this morning from Oklahoma City, and I met them at the airport. They were thrilled to see me and extremely impressed with the car. They were shocked that I had friends who were so generous. I took them to their hotel near campus and waited for them to unpack before we went to a light lunch at Dilly's Deli. I dropped them at the hotel and went back to the college to hear the last two minutes of a meeting for all the graduates concerning the proceedure for friday's convocation ceremony. It was all online anyway.

Interestingly, I ran into my ex-girlfriend Jen in the hall, the first time I've seen her all year. She got a job at Gensler, a place she's always wanted to work, and it will be a great position for her. She'll be taking a year off too after she graduates.

After the meeting, I ran some errands, printed some ceremony stuff out, and finally went back to the hotel to pick up my grandparents. I showed them the apartment and my fat cat, and then we walked along Mill Ave. For dinner, we went to Macayo's and had big margaritas. It was fun, although I wish I had my whole family here.

May 6, 2007

Wrapping up

Last Wednesday was the closest thing to our sketching final, which was basically an installation piece somewhere in the architecture building. I chose a display case on the third floor and used the glass to reflect sketches I'd done so it looked as though the sketch and the viewer were floating in space. It was a neat trick and the reviewers loved it. You can't underestimate the value of that little trick, the bit of dazzle. How can they see with sequins in thier eyes? Anyway, the only thing left for that class is the sketchbook which I'm supposed to fill. Our instructor tells us that its about "quality" but also that he wants us to fill the sketchbook. What it will really come down to is a balance, and he'll compare sketchbooks, probably weighting a person who did a bunch of mediocre drawings the same as one who did half as many drawings at twice the quality. I'm actually in really good shape, as I think I've got halfway decent drawings and already over 200 drawings done.

Friday night, Saori and I went to the Senior Graphic Design show at PURL downtown. Saori actually spent a year in the graphic program before switching over, so she knew a lot of those people. Overall it was very impressive, interesting work.

In studio, my professor asked me to put my project up in the gallery downstairs for Design Excellence. Design Excellence is a little competition held by the college of architecture and landscape architecture, where three projects are selected from each studio and then an outside panel of visitors comes to review it and award a winner and a runner up from each year. I had my group's Buenos Aires project put up (probably because it was one of the most finished), but this is the first time I've ever been selected personally for nomination. The reason this time: graphic appeal. My boards have some sexy images. The other two nominees from my class have okay projects but really well done boards, boards that make mine look really bad by comparison. I already am 99% sure I am not going to win (my project is just not that coherant and they always get people from different fields to judge), so it is a bit of a hassle. But I'll take it anyway. I realized at the graduation dinner that I've become extremely jaded about competitions and awards. Theres a great bit of advice I got from one studio instructor that the best project always gets second or third place: the winner is something everyone can agree on. I am also looking more now at who is doing the awarding, and why, and typically, it is very pointed.

Got my final grades from Systems: didn't do as well on the final as I'd thought, so I ended up with a B+. Not terrible, but not great either. At this point I'm predicting an A- to an A in studio, a A to B+ in Human Behavior, and probably an A in sketching, although the teacher is a bit hard to read sometimes.

Last night, we went to my old History of Architecture professor's house for dinner. Actually, it was a reunion dinner for those students who went with him to Rome for summer study program (like Saori), but she got special permission to bring me. It was an interesting dinner, it was a very interesting group of people who went on the trip. We arrived early to help prepare everything. I brought fresh tomatoes and imported mozzarella, and Saori baked a creme custard. At his apartment we made delicious mushroom and italian sausage risotto with all kinds of appetizers and desserts.

Right now I'm over at Saori's place working on my sketchbook. I'm took a break since the Mexican families behind her apartment were having a huge party and blasting thier corrida (mariachi music) at volume level 11. Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, anyhow.

Interesting Fact for the day: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independance, but marks a key victory against the French.

May 4, 2007

Uploading:

Uploaded some of the sketches and mixed media drawings I've done for my sketching class. I'm really glad I took it.



sketchbook

And here's a little movie of my final project for architecture:

Cards and Dinner with the Dean

After taking it easy for the last few days I felt well enough wednesday morning to go into work. I worked a long shift building a model the entire time, which was actually pretty fun, although I felt kind of stupid when people asked me what I working on. "I'm building a fire station" I told them, feeling like I needed to be holding crayons or something. When I was about to leave, someone also dropped off a big box of business cards with my name on them. I am now officially "Alec Perkins, Job Captain." So is this where I drop the Alexander? What does Job Captain actually mean anyway? I was jazzed to get them regardless. My first official business card.

I went back to school to kill an hour and then went to the dinner for the graduates hosted by the dean. It was a simple outdoor buffet, but the food was really good and they had an open bar as well. I received a glass "College of Design 2007" paperweight as well. Dr. Morton joined our table, more towards the back, and we all talked, ate, and drank, while the various alumni groups made virtually inaudible speeches.

Today, I spent at home studying and enjoying the weather. I have an open note systems final, and the hardest thing about it is not falling asleep. I'm currently trying to get more familiar with direct expansion cooling systems. I'm afraid most of the test will cover various HVAC parts and systems. Wish me luck tomorrow!

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...