Nov 24, 2012

Thanksgiving

I was surfing the net at home, thinking about getting started cleaning before my brother Tay arrived in a few hours, when my phone buzzed: "I am 30 minutes away".

I leapt from my chair and turned into a frenzy of cleaning, whirlwinding everything in sight to less visible homes, frantically scrubbing down the bathroom and trying to clean all the hair off the toilet.

We went to studio for a few hours that day after Tay got in and went out for Pho at the place on Olive with the canned music. Afterwards, we went out for some beers at Chestnut Urban brewery, and finished the night at Beale on Broadway, where we got seats at the front just as Kim Massie was about to get started. It was a really good set. She killed it with an amazing rendition of "At Last" although her version of "Come Together" was also really interesting. She nodded to us after the song and made some comment about familiarity with the Beatles. "Somebody raised you right." Damn straight, although I feel really bad for the people who aren't familiar with the Beatles. As usual, we were the youngest faces in the crowd. It's kind of depressing to think that this is the end of jazz and blues. Maybe everyone in my generation is just waiting until they get older and their musical tastes change. Or its a particular scene which is so gray that they're just avoiding it.

Wednesday, we worked a half day, and then Tay and I hit the mall for some browsing pre-black friday. We were both in agreement that there was really nothing we would want, even at half-off. We then went out to search for a theater showing Lincoln. This movie, which was released to critical acclaim, and, more importantly, is sitting at number three in the box office, was unavailable in the city or any of the inner-ring suburbs. We had to drive out to Plaza Frontenac which is in the heart of the richest community in St. Louis. A classmate described it as "Disgusting". It's actually so bad, we were laughing about it the entire time. All the stores in the area are made up with white picket fences, bell towers, plantation shutters. It's like someone was attempting to theme the neighborhood as a massive plantation.

Lincoln was really good. Amazingly compelling for a two-and-a-half hour picture about the attempt to pass some legislation in Congress.

Thursday we got up late and cooked and messed around for the early part of the day. I made ham, Tay made his famous mashed potatoes, and Saori whipped up some flan with vanilla sauce. We went over to Lauren and Sarah Kott's house, along with twenty classmates or so. When we arrived, the guys were all parked in front of the TV, while the girls were buzzing around the kitchen. The spread was fantastic. Every thanksgiving dish you can imagine or desire. We ate, we drank, we talked, we watched football.

Around ten, we left and took Vivian with us to see Life of Pi. Good movie. Absolutely beautiful. Not as good as the book, and if you want my opinion, still a little heavy handed. But still, an excellent adaptation of an incredibly difficult movie to adapt. It was nearly impossible to tell the CG tiger from the real animal.

Friday, we got up early and went to Wal-Mart. To heckle the people who waited in line.

No we didn't. We slept in and had a really slow, sleepy day. We went into studio for a few hours and then Tay bought us a BBQ dinner from Pappy's so we got to feast again at home. We were falling into a meat coma, so we watched some SouthPark, and then we left Tay to nap while we worked a few hours more in studio. I threw in the towel early and came back to pick up Tay and we went out again to see Skyfall. It was my second time to see it, and while its very watchable, I could have skipped all the scenes at the house.

Today, we got up late again, and Saori took us out to brunch at Winslow's home. Tay packed up, and hit the road, and we went back to studio. It was great to see him, but it's really a shame we're so busy with school. I think he had a contingency of staying an extra day, but wasn't really looking forward to spending it working in the studio. I'm really happy that he came out and I'm lucky to have a brother like him.

And so, back to studio.

Nov 22, 2012

Confession time: I used to think that I was a self-made man. That where I was in life, my educational attainment, my achievements, were mainly attributable to my own hard work.

This is, of course, nonsense.

I have been lucky to count myself the architect of my life. But what life would I have without the teachers who taught me the principals of design, the investors who invested in me, the state which endowed me with power to carry out my vision, the surveyors who marked the solid ground and quicksand, and the builders who laid the foundations and brought their expertise to bear?

I remain eternally in debt and gratitude to family, friends, teachers, and countrymen who enabled my life to be filled with strength, utility, and delight.

Nov 17, 2012

12:51

Getting fried with studio. It's twelve fifty one in the morning sunday. I pretty much do nothing but sit at this desk in studio when I'm not at home, sleeping.

Transportation logistics rules my life- what time does Saori get up? how long will it take her to get ready to go? Should I take the car now and come back or walk or take the bus or the metro? How late do I want to work tonight? Will I escape the climbing gym? What time do I need to come home and feed suki? How late is Saori working at studio tonight? When is the last bus?

Caught the last bus last night. I was the only passenger. The bus driver was chatty, talked about schizophrenia, conversations with God, Mitt Romney. Told me this joke:
 A man struggles to the top of a mountain with a duffel bag. He sees Satan there, and says "Satan, I have followed your commands. In this bag are the severed heads of my entire family." Satan pulls off its mask and says "Got you Steve! It's me, Pete, your neighbor!" Steve laughs and says, "Wow, Pete, you had me totally fooled!"
Struggling to get airline tickets for this winter. Frontier Airlines wouldn't accept the reservation we tried to make.

Also, need to find a cat-sitter.

And a job.

Nov 11, 2012

Technical Review

The last two weeks were very busy with studio gaining in intensity. Despite my best efforts to not be in studio all the time as I had been in some early semesters, I'm spending way too much time there. I'm with both the early morning crowd and the late night crowd. My average sleep times are decreasing. I'm trying hard to average 6 hours a night, but that dropped a lot in the days leading to the technical review.

Technical review is the third of the five main milestones of degree project. Concept review is about concept, design review is about the design response, technical review concerns buildability, technical details, systems and structure. Then there is an informal final review where there will be a go/no go call for the fifth review, the big degree project review.

Technical review was yesterday. I pinned up my work to be reviewed by Derek, my old studio professor from the New Orleans studio, who is probably the most qualified person in the school to be my critic based on his work on the Mississippi river and infrastructure. I also got Elena, a Spanish architect visiting professor who is very knd and brings a different perspective.

I've noticed that over the semesters, I've gotten less afraid of reviews and juries. I'm more nervous, but its less about the quality of my work and more about whether I'll be successful communicating it. I need to practice my project pitch.

The review went pretty well despite the fact that my building is this bizarre accumulation of tubes and water, and I got some good feedback both in terms of documentation, design, and deployment of the work. It's a hard project to talk about because it's equal parts land/water art and machine, as it is architecture. It's going to be pretty cool though. I'm pretty happy with the overall direction the project is going, I just need to settle into the idea that it's not a building. 

Election day

Tuesday, I got up early and walked to the nearby elementary school to cast my ballot. I'd changed my voter registration to Missouri, pretty much just to vote in this election. Plus who knows I might end up staying here. Had to wait in line for 40 minutes, which was apparently much shorter than it was earlier in the day. It's kind of a warm fuzzy feeling to see all my neighbors and local residents come together and vote. And I was also impressed with the poll workers/volunteers who really worked hard to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to vote.

What really killed me though was the people who were showing up to vote who (A) didn't know where their polling place was, and (B) had no clue about identification they needed to bring. I guess I'm just more type A about reading directions.

That night, no one in studio could focus and with all of our wide-screen monitors, the studio turned into an election night party, with people huddling around screens, comparing websites, calling states and running different scenarios. I relaxed a lot when it became clear that Obama was very likely to win, and immensely relieved when the election was called that night.

Mitt's platform: let's cut spending on helping Americans so we can increase spending on killing foreigners. Dear Republican Party leadership: while I realize you all grew up in the 1950s, we don't live in that world anymore. I know all you really want is cheap gas for your beamer and minorities and women to stay minorities, but it's going to be pretty hard to drive to your yacht clubs when they're under ten fucking feet of water.

Subtle Costumes

For the annual art/architecture graduate school party this year (theme: Werewolf Bar Mitzhah) I dressed up as one of our hipster professors, and Saori went as a glittery Zaha Hadid with dramatic eye makeup and a mole.

For Silvino and Adam's party a week later, I went as a flooded New Yorker, and Saori cut her bangs and came as a young Yayoi Kusama. She dressed in a black 60's style outfit and wandered around, sticking red dots on people. I got called out a few times for the insensitivity of my costume, so I got wise and stopped trying to explain it early on. "I'm a hipster" was the stock response. It did kind of bother me- I wouldn't go to a costume party dressed as the Holocaust, or a terrorist attack or even Hurricane Katrina. I suppose I'm reacting to the one city that should have been prepared for this and simply wasn't. It's just kind of grating to see everything unfolded via Instagram and Twitter, long lines at the gas pump and apple store, a massive hipster pity party. Anyway, I should probably work on my empathy.

At any rate, the party was fantastic- 70 people showed up, most of whom we knew, and there was much alcohol and dancing and no police were called. It did kind of kill the following morning however, as I now have a hangover tolerance of about four beers per night.

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...