Sunday, December 30, 2007

Movies to see and to avoid...

I rented a couple of low budget films in anticipation of a quiet new years holiday that I was going to spend mostly packing.

However, being bored I ended up watching them early...

The first, called "Man From Earth" is sci-fi film written by veteren Star Trek and Twilight zone writer Jerome Bixby. The film had no special affects, no space ships, nothing but 5 scientists sitting around a cabin talking. That being said it was actually really quite good. Described as "Quietly restores dignity to Science Fiction of the mind" is not far off. Some familiar faces in the form of B-list actors all of whom did a fine job.

The second was "Werewolf: The Devil's Hound." I always worry when I see movies with "Title:Explanation" like say ... Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever which was really really bad. How bad? I fell out of love with Lucy Liu. It was that bad.

Sadly, this film actually made Ballistic look good.

One comentator summed it up thusly:

"This film starts out somewhere in Germany...but I'm not sure what part of Germany. Apparently, it's the part where people talk like pirates, because no one had a German accent. There are military-type people; only they're wearing khakis instead of cameo. It's really just one big mess from the get-go...not a good sign. At the first werewolf sighting...which looked more like a man in a Yeti costume...I knew I was in trouble. But I persevered and continued watching.

Then came the part where the fire marshall [sic] was smoking outside the fireworks shop...which is bad humor in itself. And as any good fire marshall [sic] would do, he throws his cigarette into the dumpster. Of course, there is gunpowder in the dumpster...why wouldn't there be? As any good fireworks manufacturer knows, you always throw your leftover gunpowder in the dumpster. Do not waste your money on this garbage. And if you know anyone that thinks this movie is great...slap them HARD!!"

I have to disagree with him, it didn't look like a yeti, it looked like the salt-vampire thing from the classic Star Trek series. I even backed up the film to verify.

Lets also not forget that according to the description on the back:

"In the dead of night, a tanker carries terrifying cargo in its hull - a descendant of the Lycanthrope family is captured by hunters with a diabolical agenda. But when the ship is misdirected, the bloodthirsty creature ends up on America's east cost..."

No, what happened in the film is the shipping company was supposed to deliver fireworks and delivered a werewolf instead. This happens to me all the time. Last week I ordered some books and UPS dropped off a Shoggoth instead.

Apparently saying the shipping company screwed up delivery doesn't make as good copy though...

What I am trying to say, is I have seen some awful films, suffered through some terrible acting and directing in my quest to see every werewolf/vampire/zombie film ever made, and have been lucky enough to find a few gems.

This was not one of them.

This in fact has cast some serious doubt as to my ability to continue on my quest without stronger medication.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rolling the genetic dice.

I saw something today that literally caused me to stop almost gawp like an idiot.

As I wandered into the World Market today I saw a family strolling past, two parents with three children happily chattering away.

The two youngest appeared to be identical twins... both with Progeria Syndrome. It wasn't the appearance of the poor lads, it was my brain reeling with the odds of them both occurring. (My brain said it was 1 in 12 million... says 1 in 8 million with odds of identical twins being 1 in 285.) That means if I remember how to calculate probability... the odds of it occurring are 1 in 2.3 billion. So there is at best 2 other cases of it in the entire world...

I managed to get control, before the dad happened to look over and see me walking into the store. He glanced at his boys glanced at me and gave a sad smile. I returned it. It hurt, and I wish them the best.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bonus Cups picture.

So normally there would be a white sheet as light diffuser. Who actually own white sheets? Frankly I'm much to prone to nosebleeds to even think about it...

Turns out trace paper makes a pretty nice diffuser.

I will have to replace those bulbs, that pink will drive me nuts.

Dear Santa...

I've been a good boy, can I have An official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time?

How do you know I've been a good boy?

Blisters and Chemical burns.

From building this:

Err ... sorry that's actually the lovely teacup from a set some fabulous person sent me for Christmas.

But it was photographed using this:

For about $50, not including the $30 tripod on sale for $10 I have my very own light booth.

Apparently however, GE Reveal bulbs are "Enhanced color spectrum" not natural spectrum lights. If you think the paper is pink in the picture you should have seen it before I color corrected it. (As much as I could.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Solstice Update

I apologize for my lack of posts. I intend not to post anything that is not work or family safe, so I hope it will suffice to say that personal events in my life have taken the wind out of my sails.

Be that as it may...

I got my final grades in for the semester and they were all B, with the exception of a single B-. Since I feel I didn't give the class the time and attention it deserved it is not altogether unexpected. I'm not happy with the grade, but it is not less then I deserved.

In other news, I am moving. I have found a place that is less then 1/2 a block from campus, and three blocks from my favorite coffee shop. It is always good when your favorite (and the cutest) barrista hears the news and blurts out "Oh good, we'll see more of you!" and then promptly blushes.

I will be renting the top to floors of 1930's faux edwardian. It is more expensive then my current rental... but in addition to school+coffee proximity it has large fenced back yard, all utilities are included, and 6 ft long 2.5 foot deep claw-foot bathtub.

One bedroom is effectively the whole attic and is alone up a flight of stairs, so if a suitable human came along a roommate is not out of the question. (Prospects seem dim.)

Did I mention the claw-foot bathtub?

Anyway, I am hoping that by not having to drive the 30 miles round trip to school (and to work... and Kenpo class) the savings in Gas will offset the increased rent.

Speaking of Kenpo, my yellow belt will have to wait, as my next scheduled class falls on Christmas day... and the one after that... New Years. Doomed.

Actually it's good, because I need to practice a bit more. I know all the techniques... but certain ones are cross-wired in my head. Within the set I get similar techniques mixed up with each other... plus with techniques from a different branch of Kenpo I've studied in the past.

Lastly, I've sorta got my sleep schedule readjusted. My initial attempts were foiled by late night phone-calls from Alaska waking me. Calls, that once I was awake enough to answer left me unable to get back to sleep. Several days of taking melatonin and going to bed at the same time have me falling asleep from 11:00-1:00 AM instead of 5:00 AM. Tonight I forgot to take it until I started this post... but already I can feel oblivion creeping is quiet little feet into my brain and dimming my sight.

On that note, happy Solstice, merry Christmas, and joyous Chanukkah.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Doggy Drugs.

Clearly ye dog has been partaking of illicit pharmaceuticals... look how psycadellic her picture is.

Has nothing to do with me trying different camera setting... oh no.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Transhuman Architecture

I was reading some science-fiction novel last night (I now forget what) and I stopped briefly with the sudden thought.

Few writers consider the architectural implications of transhumanisim. Of course, we all know transhumanisim is the concept that our technology is changing so fast that there will be fundamental shifts as to how we define human and what is the nature of humanity. These changes will have profound social, biological, psychological, and religious implications.

For example, if you think tattoos and body piercings are bad... what about gills, gestalt consciousness, or even something as simple as extending the human vision range into the ultra-violet. That simple (relatively speaking) little tweak can play merry hob with how we see everything from warning signs, make-up, traffic light, house paint, etc...

As I was saying, rarely it seems the architectural implications of fundamental nature of humanity changing are addressed in these books. Seemingly everyone still has magic star-trek doors, vaulted ceilings, and cathedral windows.

On the virtual reality side one of the few authors to address this was John C. Wright in his stupefingly fascinating/frustrating* Golden Age Series. Wherein the inhabitants of earth relied so heavily of augmented reality that it effectively replaced what was actually there.

Or as Shakespeare said in Hamlet "I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."

If the dream feels, smells, and looks completely real to you how do you determine what is reality...

So the architectural implications of this are what?

Here's thought experiment for you, imagine that you are in a 10' x 10' room and you see an orc guarding a pie... wait sorry forget the orc and pie. (D&D joke, had to do it.)

10 x 10 room, yes? Completely plain, unadorned, walls are institutional beige. If you (or a sufficiently powerful computer) completely control your visual interface, you can choose that room to be red, or blue, or covered in gold leaf...

The lack of windows doesn't bother you because you can put windows wherever you want looking at whatever you want.

None of which has to be built in the real world.

What's that you say? You don't like augmented/virtual reality? Very well.

Me: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
You: Yes, sir.
Me: Are you listening?
You: Yes, I am.
Me: Nano-technology.

Programmable matter. Walls that move on demand; furniture that changes texture, temperature, and color based on your whim; or even evolving houses that reshape themselves based on how your families lifestyle changes over time.

Just a little bit creepy? Let me add one more thought for you.

So I mentioned gills and the like earlier. Lets say there was a actual branch of humanity who, whether temporary or permanently, lived the life fully aquatic. How are their needs going to be different from you or I? What kind of beds, doors, windows, or even general structures are they going to need? Who is designing for the future mer-person?

Why is this relevant? Well all you have to do is look at our recent space program. In the 70's Astronauts in orbit went on a (very) short strike to protest the unlivibility of their conditions. Architects had to be brought in to work on future designs so that they were habitable. The absence of gravity plays merry hob with depth perception and throws many of the conventional design rules out the airlock. (Sorry had to.)

What other new frontiers of humanity will bring challenge to the architect? How will we cope?

(This is already gone on longer then I anticipated... but I just had another idea about cyborg resistant furniture... whee!)

*Okay, frustrating/fascinating. John, on every other damn page, introduced a fascinating concept that could well be spun off into an entire other book, blithely mentioned them in passing and moved ahead with the story. I spent the entire book stopping every other page and going "huh." Spend 10 minutes pondering the implication have to reread the page notice something else interesting and repeat the whole damn process.

Connectivity restored.

Oh and check out the snifty new banner that some brilliantly talented artist in Alaska made for me.

(Thanks dad!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Limited Connectivity.

So while doing research on what processor and memory I might be able to shoehorn into my darling little computer, I discovered new drivers for my network card.

These drivers promised increased speeds, reduced latency, and better diagnostics of network behavior.

They lied like rugs.

Since installing the drivers at 8:00 last night I have had no connectivity on my main machine, and I have spent majority of the last 24 hours doing nothing but trying to fix it.

I even went so far as to drive out and buy a new network card, only to discover my model is not the common SN25P but instead the very rare and poorly documented SN25Pa which has an AMR slot where all the documentation say there should be a PCI slot.


I have one last thing to try, and then it looks like I may have to do a full wipe and reinstall, which makes me very very unhappy.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Word of the week.

neoteny –noun Biology. Pronunciation Key - [nee-ot-n-ee]

1. Also called pedogenesis. the production of offspring by an organism in its larval or juvenile form; the elimination of the adult phase of the life cycle.
2. a slowing of the rate of development with the consequent retention in adulthood of a feature or features that appeared in an earlier phase in the life cycle of ancestral individuals: Example Neoteny in the ostrich has resulted in adult birds sporting the down feathers of nestlings.

I some time feel like my generation has adopted this state wholesale. (Myself included thank you very much... anyway back to playing Guitar Hero.)

Yellowstone Photos Redeux.

Since I figured out how to post links to entire albums, here are what I consider the best of the Yellowstone pictures I took.

Yellowstone oct 2007

Like a bridge over troubled water...

So I don't have pictures of my bridge (which incidentally is only one of three to have survived the testing) because I was holding the bucket during testing of mine instead of taking pictures. However, here are some pictures of the other bridges and our TA gleefully testing some to the point of demise.

Here is link to the entire album:
Arch 121 - bridge

I'll try and remember to take pictures of my bridge tomorrow when there is light.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mostly done with classes

I managed to survive my first Architectural critique relatively unscathed. On Wednesday the first professor to review my design had some good praise on how different mine was from other people's in both it's simplicity and my explanation why it wasn't curvilinear. Everyone else seem to be mating with squids as far as wiggliness went... mine was very straight edged and simple. As explained it there was no design advantage to add curves. I was going for a specific effect and curves wouldn't add to that. They wouldn't have detracted either, but I am not adding anything that does not serve a specific purpose. He gave some great advice on specific lighting and ways I could improve the over all experience for the user interacting with my instillation.

Today I got my professor for the design class. He started the conversation with the following phrase... "You are older then the other students, and seem to take constructive criticism well... so I'm not going to pull any punches."

And he didn't.

He proceeded to grill my in depth about all my design aspects, why I designed things the way I did, what was the meaning being this shape, this angle, this distance, the decision.

He told us several weeks ago he was going to try and stump us and ask us questions we hadn't thought about everything on our design.

He didn't stump me, and I had answer for all his questions.

I think I saw of hint of smile when he was done grilling me.

Mind you he then proceeded to tell me why I was wrong on most everything I said but it was a really instructive deconstruction.

Apparently he and I different definitions on what abstracting a concept means, as mine is relatively shallow interpretation. I considered my installation an abstraction of the mountains surrounding Bozeman, and didn't really consider that essence of the mountains can be shown without triangular shapes.

I have been given a homework assignment of Christmas break to pick any one object and describe a pure abstraction of it. (He is not even my professor next semester but he probably will end being one of mine again someday sooo...)

Poor cinnamon. She's going to get abstracted.

I have single class on Monday, and a final test on Friday and I'm done for a month.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bridge Mark 2

Tis complete at 3:50 AM.

Not quite what I had in mind, and frankly I have no idea how it will do.

Tomorrow will be interesting. Err... today.

Anyway I'm for bed to dream of Irish lasses, bagpipes, "Over the rainbow" played on the Uke*.

Just as soon as I can straighten from this decidedly hunched position...

*(One of the movies I watched while building the model was "Meet Joe Black." one of my favorite love stories. Turns out at the end is a cool little Uke rendition of "Over the rainbow/It's beautiful world.")

Monday, November 26, 2007


So 5 hours into it I have to admit defeat that my cunning plan is not going to work.

The chipboard, although possessing stupidly good shear strength has no compressive strength. Add to that the water is sucks out of the dental plaster and you effectively have a soggy green cardboard noodle. (The plaster is green.) If I get the plaster dry enough so it doesn't waterlog the paper it sets before I can position it, to wet and the paper melts.

Some of the first peices I did 5 hours ago are still soggy...

So looks like I will be going with my backup plan of a building suspension bridge instead of an arch bridge. Problem is for my suspended members the 176 1/8 thin paper strips are to thin to drill. I have an idea of cannibalizing the plastic moving totes that have broken as members. However, it being 10:30 at night I suspect my neighbors would frown on me using saw and dremel.

It will have to wait until tomorrow, but I think it will actually go faster then the arch bridge, as it is not unlike building a suit of scale armor...

Bridges burning the midnight oil....

So the TA for our Arch 121 class is going in for surgery so instead of all the bridges being due next Wednesday they are due this Wednesday.

It would have been nice to know this over the weekend so I would have done more the finalize my design, I would have actually built it.

Tomorrow I have client driving all the way from Idaho so that I can rebuild his laptop while he shops for Christmas so that leaves tonight and tomorrow night to build.


Oh and our paper deadline is moved up so I have to write a 4 page paper on arch bridges in that time too...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A new holiday tradition...

I have lined up for this weekend of solitude:

3 Vampire Movies
2 Zombie Movies
1 Sci-Fi Movies
0 Movies with any redeeming qualities so far as I can tell.

I'm excited.

Monday, November 19, 2007


So after starting work on my final project for arch151 Friday at 4:00 PM I am finally done with all the drafting and rebuilding of my dog-eaten model at 6:49 AM on Monday.

I did pause for sleep for about 7 hours on Friday night, but I haven't slept since sometime yesterday.

So I should get about 4.5 hours sleep before class at this point. Unfortunately it looks like I may have to go into work after class or at least do an onsite visit, fortunately at the airport so when I'm done I can go home and whimper.

I suspect I have a 5 page paper on bridges due Wednesday.

Either that or my bridge is supposed to be built by then.

Ah well I'll burn that bridge when I come to it. (Hah!)




Friday, November 16, 2007

Something to Ponder...

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Phasellus consectetuer, eros sit amet scelerisque rhoncus, nisl nibh ornare felis, sed iaculis massa dolor sit amet tellus. Mauris id elit. Vestibulum dui ligula, ullamcorper vehicula, dapibus quis, ultrices et, sem. Curabitur commodo, enim et sagittis lobortis, elit quam pellentesque lacus, in nonummy dui leo pellentesque lorem. Vestibulum non elit. Cras eu massa. Nunc gravida lacus. Sed a lectus a ipsum luctus venenatis. Etiam euismod fringilla ante. Duis tincidunt leo ut urna. Proin commodo tempus felis. Mauris blandit pede sed orci. Aliquam eleifend metus sit amet tortor.

Sed sit amet nunc. Pellentesque ut arcu. Ut nisl magna, ultrices sit amet, blandit eget, aliquet ac, odio. Donec vitae lectus sed turpis fermentum nonummy. Nulla pellentesque ante tincidunt purus. Maecenas sagittis, leo et facilisis ornare, nulla est fringilla erat, id vulputate eros lacus non neque. Vestibulum sodales ante. Vivamus id nisl et elit consequat dictum. Proin eget nisl. Nulla urna diam, facilisis id, varius at, viverra sed, ante. Integer mauris metus, laoreet at, pulvinar nec, dictum sed, magna.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

World's Weirdest mac and Cheese

So tonight I had a hankering for mac and cheese, and since I had all the makings I decided to do so.

I made two fatal flaws.

First, I have two different infused olive oils in nigh identical bottles. One is a orange infused, which works particularly well with sweet teriyaki dishes and the like. The other is black pepper infused which is spicy.

I meant to use the pepper. I didn't.

The second mistake is that I have two containers of soy milk in my fridge. Vanilla I use on my morning oatmeal and plain I use for everything else.

I meant to use the plain. I didn't.

I didn't even know what I had done till I tasted it for salt level.

The end result was a dish that dish that can only be best described as Orange Dreamcicle Mac & Cheese.

It's actually not bad. It's not sweet at all and I think without the hint of vanilla it would actually be quite good, as the orange pairs with the cheddar much better then I expected.

Umm... yeah... that's all I have to say about that.

Wishlist madness

So I noticed my Amazon wishlist was getting huge and trying to find a specific item I had stuffed there to buy later proved to be an painful task.

So I started splitting it into sections for my ease and also because that's the kind of person I am.

Of potential interest to you... if you feel so kind as to want to buy me a book, is the Art and Architecture book list. (Be sure to sort by priority not date added.)

If anyone want in particularly to buy me all the Ching books or the Graphic Standards (at $250) I would love you for a long time.

There is a joke in the Arch department that between the 8 or so professor they can only afford one copy of the Graphic standards and Arch151 prof can't answer any questions about drafting because it's not his turn to have the book.

Doomed and Dinner

Whilst getting signatures for my other spring classes I wandered into the art building to see if I could sign up for a metal-smithing class. Like the architecture classes, there are fixed number of seats and you need faculty permission to sign up for the classes.

Upon speaking to the admin-assistant for the department I discovered the beginning metal-smithing class was full. When I attempted to retreat gracefully she snagged a passing man in apron, told him that I was trying to sign up for the beginning class and I apparently had some metal-smithing classes in the past.

He began to grill me in earnest, asking me pointed questions about what I could and could not do. I tried to answer honestly, admitting to only having basic skills in everything except mokume-gane.

He grunted, turned back to the admin, and said "Put him in the advanced class."
He then looked me in the eye and said "It's been a while since we have had an architecture student in our class, they frequently turned out to be our best students."

Then he walked away.

Confused I turned to the admin, and seeing my the look on my she simply said... "That was the professor."

Sooo, I am signed up for a 5 credit advanced metal-smithing class, and quick perusal of the gallery shows that I will have to bust my butt to even come close to the level of skill displayed.


Since I arrived down here I have been eating a lot of Costco salmon and brown rice. About every other meal has been salmon. But it's cheap, it's good, it good for me and Costco is convenient. Last night I made salmon tacos, and while munching on the leftovers this morning I went digging through Grandpa's cookbooks looking for a salmon chowder recipe. I didn't find one, but I did find a salmon taco recipe that was nigh identical to the delectable dish I was currently munching on.

Great minds think alike.

Anyone got any salmon chowder recipes they want o share? I have about 4lbs of salmon, and bunch of fingerling potatoes that look cute.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anyone want a dog?

So my darling mutt apparently has a taste for Balsa wood.

Unfortunately for me, she demonstrated this by chewing on my UNGRADED model that took me 20 hours to make.

I might be able to salvage the base shaving off 3 hours of work left to be redone.

I am not a happy camper.

I am the exact opposite of a happy camper.

This on top of about 4 hours of drafting homework I was working on when my boss called me into help deal with a crises. One of the big clients has lost their server, but we've got the data backed up on our old test server, and we need to point all their machines temporarily at our server so they can remotely access the network.

Oh... and they neglected to give me any admin passwords so for every single machine I am touching I have to blow away the password before I can log in and redirect.


Friday, November 9, 2007

The Language of Colour - Or Brits sure spell funny...

The latest MSU Gypsy scholar is world renowned Architect Tom Porter.

The e-mail invitation we go had the following to say "Mr. Porter is the author of 18 books including four books on environmental colour, and the best-selling series Manual of Graphic Techniques. One part of his series, entitled The Colour Eye, was telecast by the BBC in 1991. This television series was comprised of six documentaries exploring the psychology of colour - colour in architecture, interior design, fashion design, package design, and fine art."

So here is what I took away from the lecture:

1) The British apparently don't like being Called Gypsy *anything* they think it's shabby.
2) The man is absolutely stark raving brilliant.
3)We live in a transitional period where pigment is not the cutting-edge zeitgeist, but transformational surfaces/textures whether they be phase-change paints or informational displays are the new hotness.
4) Chromo-phobia in buildings is a relatively new phenomenon Sin = color = bad has only existed since the Inquisition.
5)Even being aware of the effects of color does not make you immune to effects. Case to point: they did a study on the effect of cup color on perceived taste of the coffee. Even the people who were aware that the same coffee was in all the cups showed tendency to report distinctions depending on cup color.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Don't you miss those days when you had something to be nostalgic about?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When kenpo attacks...

A short post whilst my bath runs.

My Kenpo class got changed from Saturday 8:00am to Tuesday 8:0pm. A change I am very very grateful for.

Tonight we didn't work on forms, since my thumbs are mostly healed we did bag and target work.

The last 20 minutes was spent with the instructor chasing me around with a large padded stick while I tried to block with arms that had been punching for 40 minutes. It was more fun then it sounds like. I apparently also surprised him because a feint that worked with 90% of the population doesn't work with me. I apparently block it the way I SHOULD instead of how most people DO. (Spinning back fist = get you head out of the way and deflect if needed... not hunch your shoulders and try to force block it)

The instructor had some praise for me as I left. "Your form is solid, and you don't have any bad habits to unlearn. You are going to do great as you get more in shape."

He also said that I will probably be ready for to (re)test for yellow belt by next week if I keep my practice up. The techniques are slightly different, but the fundamental principles are the same.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

For love of Apples...

My bosses wife... who is also my boss... I think... umm anyway today as a thank you she brought me 5 lbs of apples off their apple tree and 2 gallons of cider squeezed fresh that morning.

I'm not sure what I did to deserve this, but holy smokes are the apples and cider good! The apples are tennis ball sized, crunchy and incredibly sweet. And I've never had cider that fresh and it's the pure essence of those incredible apples.

It makes the previous cider I've had seem fake and bland.

I've already drank 1/2 a gallon of it...

Gonna make some apple cupcakes tomorrow methinks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Alaskan Vampires and Assignments from hell.

Since the last 4 years have been a bust for trick-or-treaters for me and I didn't want to be stuck (again) with pounds of chocolate I took a page out of the Wiita playbook and made myself scarce for the evening.

However, because I did want to acknowledge my favorite day somehow (having to work and therefore unable to dress up) I and the dog went to see the film "30 Days of Night."

In case you are unfamiliar with the graphic novel, the premise is that during the 30 days without sun Barrow is cut off by and over-run with vampires.

I generally have low expectation for movies set in Alaska. Correction I have REALLY low expectations for movies set in Alaska, but hey vampires + Alaska... I will give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Things they did Right:

Movie Barrow didn't look like real Barrow, but it did look a reasonable amount like ye small isolated Alaskan town. Though frankly... it was cleaner then a lot of them.

Not to much exposition. See Distant Ship... see Man stumbling from distant ship. Message clear. Thank you for not giving us a 12 minute explanation of what was going on. I appreciate when directors don't treat me like an idiot.

North Slope Borough on the emergency vehicle... not North Slope County (which I have seen in some movie.)

Things that surprised me:

Josh Harnett didn't suck. He wasn't great... but I would even go so far as to say he did pretty good. I didn't like him in Pearl Harbor... so yeah....

The people reacted realistically and in human fashion. Some froze when frightened, some freaked out, and when someone did something really stupid it was for understandable reason (trying to save a family member or child...etc)

The vampires were not seductive or alluring. They were like the offspring of a shark and human. Visually and kinesthetically creepy, primeval and scary. They were NOT human, and that came across very well.

Oh... and the quisling... creepiest supporting character ever. EVER. Played by Ben foster. Who it turns out played Angel in the last X-man movie. (I didn't even recognize him.)

Things they did Wrong:
North Slope Police... not Barrow Sheriff. But, that was probably done for liability reasons. Likewise I suspect the "Alaska Fire Marshall" patch one of the characters wore. (With no State of Alaska patch visible.)

The trucks were all clean. In some cases immaculate. Riiiight.


So my latest Arch 121 assignment is ummm... yeah. This isn't isn't my Design class this is my weird Modern Architecture lecture class + design recitation thing.

We have to build a bridge 16" long and no less then 4" wide the entire length. It has to be able to support a 5 gallon bucket filled with 6" of water. I would guess that's about 10 lbs of weight but I will get bucket this weekend and find out.

Here's the kicker.

It can only be made out recycled or scavenged material.
It cannot contain any metal.
No piece of material can be longer then 6 inches, nor can any piece of material be thicker then 1/8".
No glue or melting strategies to form monolithic connections.


Anyway I have a plan. (Two plans actually.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My dog is weird,

So I went to get kleenex to blow my nose and found this...

So you think she's trying to tell me the apartment is too hot?

Group Model Shot

What can I say. There it is in all it's glory.

They were taking some better pictures when I left for the night... but I figured feeding the dog was more important then preety pictures.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cranky, day Two and Three. The GEEKS Revenge!

Okay, sadly not.

Saturday I worked 10-4, and then went to Romney. The same two people from yesterday were there, and no-one else showed up. We worked until about 8:30 and then knocked off for the night.

Sunday, we three agreed to meet at two, and when we got there it was decided the Steve sounded the most pissed off on the phone so it was his job to call people. His side of the dialogue would have done Machiavelli proud for being menacing without overtly threatening. Every one he actually reached on the phone showed up to help within 20 minutes. One of the people who showed up we sent home. He was actually sicker then Morgan and I. Also, he'd done the bulk of the building construction the first day while everyone else was arguing what type of board to use.

With enough people, and the with the damn contour lines finally getting easier (I figured out a faster and more accurate way of making them) it only took us 7 hours to complete it.

I'll try and post some pictures of it tomorrow I think I'm going to have to go andzzzz......... *drool*

Friday, October 26, 2007


So our group project is due Monday. 2 of the 16 people have to work tonight, everyone else was supposed to show up at 5:30 to work on the project.

Besides me... there were 2.

After the three of us worked for 6 hours straight we are 1/4 of the way complete with the topography. On the buildings maybe 1/2 complete.

I had the shrubbery done before we even started today.

I have 8:00 am class tomorrow, followed by work. I don't know how long I'll be working, but I hope by the time I get off work people have come in and made serious progress or I will be pissed.

Friday Work Session

Per request, here are some pictures of what we are working on today in class... and will be working on again in about 30 minutes when the other class gets out.

This one is annotated for you enjoyment. My TA was playing with camera and by some chance I got caught in the frame. You tell which desk belongs to the geek can't you?

My teammates... pondering building benches.

Closeup of the model interior, before contour lines are added.

Just one of the many banks of shrubbery that I am in charge of.

4 line Composition... the model

So here is my final model from the 4 line assignment. I wont go into the details of the rules I use to compose it, but everything is built to specific purpose. It's hard to see from this angle but most the elements sweep towards the center space.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arch 151 Classroom

Please note the helpful arrows telling you where everything is.

Oh... and the only heat source is not the cardboard box, it is a tiny little heater in the corner that sounds like a sick chinchilla. You can't see it because of the box.

Sick and tired. Oh and some school and job stuff too.

I addition to having limited use of both my thumbs, I appear to be be having intermittent head cold issues. I'm not sneezing, and not coughing much but I have a sore throat and I randomly feel like me head is stuffed with wool.

This of course is being aggravated by the fact that my air-bed has leak. I thought I had tracked down and patched said leak but apparently I either didn't patch it well enough (unpossible) or I missed one... which given the acreage of the bed is not out of the realm of possibility. The bed is not normal air-mattress height, but is in fact effectively two mattresses. This increases the square footage to be searched for leaks by like 32 times. Really.

I have apparently slowed down the leaks with my patching that I can almost go 8 hours before the bed tries to swallow me whole.

Oddly enough I keep having dreams about sinking in quicksand... no wonder I'm tired.


The design project is full swing. It is both a group and individual assignment. The group portion, which we are exploring now is that each TA section of the class has to build a 1/4 scale model of the walkway area between Cheever (architecture) and Howard (music) halls. By my calculations the scale model will be slightly smaller then my car. But, I don't actually care because in the course dividing up tasks people noticed that 1) I have nice digital camera and 2) my scale figures are badass. All those years of miniature painting have paid off.
I was assigned the task of photo-documenting the building for reference (took less then an hour) and creating the 20 little wee men and women populating the scale model. I have 18 of them done allready and they aren't due for another week and a half. I further volunteered to "help" make the various shrubbery and trees since the guy it was assigned to shows up 1 in 4 classes.

After our scale model is coplete, individually we have to design an art instillation only using 3 8'x 20' sheets of 1 inch steel and 4 6'x6'x 6" peices of wood. We then are going to build scale models of them that will fit in our bigger scale models.

Finally will will draw plan, elevation, and section drawing of our instillation.


Today was my first day at Computer Troubleshooters of Bozeman. My new boss handed me a 600mhz iBook laptop with a dead hard-drive chuckled evilly and then left.

I wept.

You have to COMPLETELY dissemble EVERYTHING to get to the hard-drive. If I ever meet the designer of the laptop I will run him over with my car. Twice.

For those of you who aren't quite sure the implications of this... imagine trying to disassemble the worlds most complex wooden puzzle, with screw the size of seed beads and the screw holes are hidden inside of recesses you can only reach with a set of chop sticks.

This was slightly worse.

Other then that it was fine.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New assignment for Design

I don't know what it is, but the prof has dropped some tantalizing hints.

1) It will take us the entire remaining 5 weeks to accomplish
2) We will probably spend the first week arguing in groups. (which means it will be a group project)
3) We will apply what we have learned making models (so presumably a group model?)
4) Monday we are to show up with sketch-pad and raincoat in case it rains.

As a couple of dear friends said... "You'd think pants and pencils would be on the things to bring list."

Friday, October 19, 2007


So as I was finishing final assembly of my model I realized that I had made everything on the left 2 inches to long.

So I have to trim three major section without breaking anything... after being at this for the last 7 hours...


*Edit* Spelling bad at 1:00 am, but apparently better at 2:30 because I caught it later

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You may call me "lefty"

Cause I just cut the tip of my left thumb off.

Fortunately I only barely got to the meaty bits, so it was mostly skin.

I also managed not to bleed on my pristine final model.

1) holding your arm above your head for this long hurts worse then the cut.
2) sharp exacto blades hurt less then dull.
3) typing right-hand only is hard. When Ido type one-handed it's normally with my left...


I think the bleeding has stopped so time for bandages.

Compositional Epiphany

So as I trudged in the rain across campus an unexpected thing happened.

I stopped seeing the buildings. No longer did I see the big brick Reid Hall, instead I saw a pleasing composition of balanced repetitive elements subtly contrasting with it's asymmetrical wing.

Johnson hall also fell into pleasing suggestionof vertical elements outlining it's strong upward movement.

Montana Hall stayed a big victorian monster.

The revelation actually shocked me for a minute and I sat there getting soaked consciously shifting between seeing the buildings and seeing the composition of the buildings in the abstract.

It didn't work for all of them, but it was pleasing, weird , and unsettling all at once.

No altogether like suddenly being able to "see" music.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Studying, building, punching and growling

So it was time for our second Arch 121 test. 121 is the weird Architectural history/design class that I'm taking. The lecture portion covers modern buildings of importance from 1890-today. The recitation portion (taught by a TA) covers various design techniques and history.
I'm doing well on the recitation part, with B or B+ on all my assignments thus far. The lecture part... I enjoy but while taking the last test I suffered a brain freeze and forgot the location of darn near every building. As that was nearly 1/4 of the total points for the test... well I got a C, and not high C at that.

However, we had our second test today and I think I aced it. The only thing I think I got wrong is one of the architects is named Hans Sch______ and I forgot the last part of his last name. I scribbled something in there. I don't know if it was right, but I'm hoping it's close enough that I get credit.

Other then that I got every question on the test right, knew who built it, where, important facts about it and was able to draw it.

Feeling pretty happy about it.


The other 2/3 of my weekend I didn't spend studying I spent build study models for Arch 151. It was about 16 hours of work for the two big ones and maybe 4 for the smaller. We have to have a finished, craft-perfect model ready by Friday. (We actually get next weekend off!) I have some changes I want to make to my design so I need to generate another study model tonight and then harass my instructor with it tomorrow. Wednesday is a in class work day and we are expected to 1) have started our final model 2) bring it to class to work on.


Some of you may be aware that over the course of the years I have studied a couple different martial arts. The one I keep returning to because of my love for it, the fit it's philosophy it has with my own, and it's sheer practicality is Kenpo.

On Friday I discovered a small Kenpo school that offers one-on-one instruction in a relaxed atmosphere. My first class was Saturday (at 8:00 AM!) and I had a blast. Even for being as out of shape and out of practice as I am it started coming back pretty quick. However the 15 minutes of quick punch drills reminded me that I need to spend more time working on my cardio.

I've got a bonus session on Thursday night, but unless he has a student drop looks like Saturday 8:00 am is my time.


After Kenpo I went looking to see if any of the sporting good stores had punching bags. (One had a single abused display model.)

However, when I pulled up to the Sportsman's Warehouse Cinnamon noticed the Bronze Elk out front and started growling at it. She growled at it as I left the car. She was still growling at it when I came back to the car, and she growled at it as we drove away.

I guess she doesn't like bronze, because she didn't growl at any of the elk in Yellowstone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

4 Line Study. (Part 2)

So I took the 4 line study from before (earlier post) and turned it into 20 x 20" light/dark mass study. I also turned it into a 5 x 5" 3D model.

This weekend I have to produce another 5 x5" model and two 10 x 10" models of the same study, but different then the one I have done.

That model took me 12 hours to complete...

I don't think I get to sleep this weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Yellowstone Teaser pictures.

Wednesday at Casa de Nelson.

This is a typical scene... midnight-ish at in my apartment.

You can see the dog has barely contained her enthusiasm.

If you are good, I may post additional pictures of my setup.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Design research...

So for my Arch 121 class we have reached the point of the "Modern" era.

We are dealing people like Kadinsky, Rochenko, and Rietvald.

Designers who "reject the sensual curves and their subjective associations"

Ummm... yeah.

Big colored blocks.

A quick informal poll revealed that no-one in the class likes it. I actually caused a little micro gripe-session that lasted until the TA arrived to hold class.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Further Line Studies

Have I mentioned that I hate hate hate Crow-quill pens... oh yes I do...

*Edited for misspelling. Good catch by the Pateresfamilias. (Who spends to much time spell checking my blog.)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rethinking japense...

So I have been toying with getting a Minor in Japanese studies whilst I complete my Arch degree.

I may be rethinking this.

Because of Kanji.

Kanji caused my brain to shut down.

Japanese have three writing systems. Hirigana is used for writing out Japanese words. Katakana is generally used to spell out foreign words and names. Both of them have distinct character alphabets but each letter represents a specific phonetic sound.

Kanji is different. Kanji is symbolic alphabet (like hieroglyphics) who's individual meaning changes depending on where it is relationship to other words. A kanji may have many different meanings and different pronunciations depending on the context. This context is dependent on it's position, how it is combined with other kanji, and whether it comes before or after other hiragana or katakana characters.

So for example one kanji can be read as both see/sei (in Gakusee) or as u (in Umareru) or as nama (in Nama biiru.)

Oh and that is all dependent on whether or not is in an on-reading (Chinese) or kun-reading (Japanese) mode. If the word is expressing Japanese concepts or words then you use kun-reading, otherwise you use on-reading.


If the word is part of a compound noun with another kanji then you always use the on-reading, and when the kanji is used as an adjective stem or verb stem then you use the the kun-reading.

Confused yet?

Well they sorta help you out by putting the appropriate hirigana or katakana pronunciation in little letters above the kanji. So in order for you have any hope of pronounceing it right you have to know the two other alphabets.

*Edit* Oh and lest I forget a single Sentance may contain ALL of these forms. I'll scan an example later.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Line Study Final

Before I go into to much detail let me say unequivocally I hate Crow-quill pens. They blotch, they drip, they break, they stutter and I have spent lots and lots of time with them over the past two weeks.

This is a 15 x 20" study of composition using nothing more then lines. It is a linear-datum composition with a skewed horizontal language.

Things I like about it. The proportions turned out well and in the initial studies leading up to it I had the diagonal a solid black line, and in the final I changed it to the same horizontal language as the rest, which ties it together.

Things I don't like. Some of the earlier studies I drew the lines with ruler and they were razor sharp. This was booth good and bad. I like the more organic feel, but I have less control over the damn pen then I would like so the lines are rougher because of incompetence not design.

Oh... and see that big heavy block right below the light block? That was not on purpose. That was the thrice-damned pen leaking ink which got wicked under my trace paper. I added that block to cover the huge blob of misshapen ink.

Everyone in my critique group loved it as contrast to the light block...

But we're done with it and I can throw my Crow-quill pen out the window...


What's that?

Our next assignment uses WHAT?

*mutter grumble swear*

Excuse me, I'll be outside looking for my pen.

*Edit apparently my random character used in the place of swearing genereted some HTML code that caused the paragraph to replicate. Who know I was so talented?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Not a Caffinator Anymore

It became abruptly obvious after getting back my tests from the last two weeks that the time I've spent working has had a detrimental effect both on my sleep and the time available for study.

It doesn't help when you specifically say, can work three days a week, with at least a day between work so I can get homework done... And not Tuesday or Thursday nights.

Which means I can work M,W,Fri and one day on the weekend for not more then three total in a week.

The last two week schedule had me working M,W, F, Sa, Su, M, W, Sa, Sun.

That is more then three each week. 5 Last week and 4 this week.

They were also mix of opening and closing shifts, and in the case of this Sunday I got up at 8 am, studied until ~2:30pm, worked from 3:00pm - 11:00p, studied for a morning test from 11:30-4:00am went to open at 5:30-9:00, Class till 4:00, worked from 5-10:30.

In between 4-5 I went to the main office and gave my notice. I'm finishing up the week but that's it.

I open Wed, Close Saturday, Mid-shift Sunday and then I am done.

I've been up since 8:00 am yesterday. I'm going to go get 8 hours of sleep before getting up to study for my Japanese quiz tomorrow.

Final Fingerprint

So here it is. The award winning, earth-shaking final fingerprint composition.

Aren't you just blown away by it?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Weekly update. Nihongo blues, More learning experiences and Lines o' doom

This week both dragged and went fast. I had my first migraine in almost two months on the same day that the ISP folks finally saw fit to repair my intarweb. (If you bumped the cable the connection crashed. The cable ran past where Cinnamon likes to sleep...) 6 hours of drilling and rerunning the entire cable run from the box to my apartment...
This week I had a pre-calc test on that I walking out of it I felt I did better then I expected initially to do. However, I apparently bombed my Japanese test I thought I had done well on.

There will be of course great Nihongo time spent this weekend.
I am typing this particular post waiting for another one of those great learning opportunities to occur. There is a 4 day workshop on Architecture + 3d Fabrication technology this weekend (which I almost talked my way into into in spite of it being for 3-5 year students.)

The presenter is doing an all-school presentation on it in umm .... 15 minutes or so.

*Edit... the three presenters all just showed up and setup a row of Mac Power-books o the stage looks very avant-guarde. It's also funny because the Arch-IT staff just spent 15 minutes getting a Vista PC that kept puking running on the projector and now it's being kicked to the curb.

In Design class we have have (thankfully) moved past the fingerprints are are doing line studies. Doing a meaningful composition with nothing more then a pen, straight lines that have to be only parallel or perpendicular, and line density is damn hard.

But it's not a fingerprint so I'm happy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Picturesss my Preciousss...

I remembered I toook a picture of a Work-in-progress shot of the assignment of doom that swallowed my entire labor day weekend.

This was one of six 10"x15" studies which were narrowed down to two finalist.

One of those was then blown up to 20"x30" meticulously finished and turned in for a final grade. (I'll get picture of that one when I get it back.)

Welcome the the Blog.

A big warm welcome to the Members of the ISER list server.

Got any questions? Click on the "X comments" link and leave a comment. I'll try to answer them.

Friday, September 14, 2007

On Recovering, things you don't want to hear, lectures, and sore feet.

So I'm still sick. Daily doses of dayquil and nyquil have rendered me semi-functional through the week, but I could definitely tell when the dayquil was wearing off... My nose would start to clog, I'd start coughing, the hands would shake, I'd develop a violent twitch until I could get my next sweet sweet dose.

I don't remember the nights I took nyquil. That will be what I say in court too.

(I don't actually remember, but I did wake up in some funky positions that to the best of my knowledge I have never slept in before.)

Today was my first full day without any drugs, and although I'm still a little sick I don't feel like I'm missing half my brain.

Apparently it helps my test taking. My first pre-calc quiz I got 62% with the class average being 66%, the second one (which I don't remember taking) I got 82% with the class average being 68%.

I plan on drinking dayquil before every quiz.


Things you don't want to hear from your design professor as he looks at your final proposal for the major assignment you've been working on for a month.

"If you turn it exactly as you have it now you will get a B-, if you make the changes your TA suggested... I would have to give you a D."

For the record, I did not storm out of the building and hunt down my TA to visit gross bodily harm on him.

I did spend nearly an hour with my professor one-on-one in his office working to improve the design. It means instead of a relatively easy final step I will have to do some shuffling of elements around... It will probably double the time it takes for me to complete the final.

(I may have also ghosted through the halls unsuccessfully looking to visit gross bodily harm on my TA... but I won't admit it.)


So one of the fabulous advantages of going to a school like MSU is the visiting scholars they have and the on campus events. For example the AIA (American Institue of Architects) is the big professional organization for Architects, and the student chapter organizes events, visiting scholars, continuing ed and the like.

For example, there is a senior class called the Gypsy scholar class where approximately every two weeks a different notable architect teaches for a two week stint. SAIA got the current visiting scholar to give a presentation at 5:30 today on the importance of details.

So at the end of class our design professor asked how many of us had heard about it, with 1/10 of the class raising their hands. (I hadn't)

He then asked who was going. Maybe 5 people in a class of 60 raised their hands.

"This man is tremendously brilliant archtect and you ALL can learn a lot from him. I strongly recommend you go."

He then asked again who was now going. 12 people in a class of 60 raised their hands.

I went.

I was the only one from my class there. In fact out of the ~600 total students in the complete architecture school probably only 30 were in attendance.

He was utterly brilliant. More specifically, he blended international style with American vernacular in a balanced fashion that I have never seen accomplished before. He does a lot of remodels in the D.C. area and the historical districts have strict rules, so over the last 40 years of practice he's had to learn how to meld the two.

I'm probably the most jazzed up I've been about architecture in months.


I started my new job. Like everything else in life it seems to be a mix of bad news and good news.

Good News: Good coffee, there is very little technique-wise I have to learn. Everyone I've met or got to work with on my first day has been great.

Bad News: You get 3 free drip coffee or iced tea, Everything else you get 20% off. Considering that the actual cost of latte is like $.35 and the bulk of the cost is either capital costs or labor... I think that is pretty chincy.

Also... During my interview when I asked about pay I was told "Our barristas pay ranges from x to x+$3" depending on experience.

I am making X-$1.50 until my 90 day probationary period is up, at which point I "should" see a significant pay raise. I was also told that for employees demonstrating exceptional "Wow Factor" can have their probational period cut short.

But to put it in perspective. Right now I make almost as much in a 5 hour shift as I used to make an hour.

My monthly salary is only slightly higher then what I normally have spent on coffee in a month.

Needless to say I have mixed feelings about that.

Oh yeah... sore feet. No ergo mats for the barristas. Weird. 5 hours on hard floor is not something my feetsies are used to.

Daily Goal: Soak My feet
Weekly Goal: Re-read the pre-calc chapter I don't remember, 8am gym time, and not to cry like a little girl.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Welcome Disctraction, Head cold of death... and I think I'm turning Japanse

So I splurged $33 on a ticket to go see Weird Al Yankovik at the Bozeman fairground. Good news, it wasn't outdoor so we didn't get rained on. Bad news, it was in essentially a big metal shed and therefore the acoustic were terrible.

The show was a hoot, he played all my favorites and it was both gratifying and sad to see so many geeks in attendance. Gratifying to know that there are so many out there, sad because I didn't know any of them.

Good Points: Young Amish Girl Cosplayers dancing.
Bad Points: Elephantine Male Amish Cosplayers Dancing

Head Cold. All this week I've been having weird night-time drainage that had me waking up with a sore throut. It attacked me full force last night and this turned into a full-on head-cold. Couldn't hear at all out of my right ear, nose stuffed, voice a croak, and general achy. I took some dayquil, which was apparently enough to tip me back over the edge, I fell asleep in my chair while reviewing my Japanese for my first class and slept until almost noon. I feel better, but still not up to snuff.

Speaking of Japanese, I did so much review of it this weekend, I had trouble responding to e-mails in English.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Locking horns with a professor (but in good way)

This happened last week, but it just now occurred to me to post it. (something someone said about it being okay if I posted positive happenings on my blog too...)

Our first design assignment (before the fingerprint one I'm working on now) was apparently a struggle for most of the students.

The professor at the end of class told us to take a 20x20" piece of bristol board and make a composition of what "design" is. He then informed us that neither he nor any of the TAs would answer any questions about the assignment and chased us out the class.

It was clear from overheard conversation that the other students had no clue what to do, but I had already planned out what I wanted to do.

Rather then attempt to demonstrate my (at this point) poor illustration skills I wanted to share examples of design. Since the professor didn't specify good design, or even human design I figured I had a lot of options. So I gathered up photos of things like ferns, the eiffel tower, spider webs, pyramids at giza, the Anchorage Performing Arts Center (my example of BAD design), mokume gane, the Golden mean (Heidi's idea and a great one) and many others. I then stuck a picture of sunflower in the middle and had the rest of them spiraling outward in pattern reminiscent of the of the middle of a sunflower.

Next class came and we all pinned ours up on the walls. Mine was one of two that was photographs, the rest were hand drawn (some good... some awful.)

We then circled the room looking at each others, when after about 5 minutes the prof came to mine, ripped it off the wall and went striding to the chalkboard where he pinned it up.

"Who's is this?" he exclaimed angerily.
I raised my hand.
"Can you identify all of these photographs on the board"
"All except two, I don't remember who designed the log cabin and I'm not positive if the Basillica was St. John's in Prague or if I'm getting it mixed up with another."

Then the grilling began..

"What's this... and this... and this... and this..." as he ran me through every photo on the board.
Finally the last one he pointed too I answered "Seattle Public Library designed by Joshua Prince-Ramus."
"Wrong!" shouted one of the TAs.
"The library was designed by Koohaas." said the prof grimly.
"I believe that you will find that Joshua Prince-Ramus was the principle architect on the project before he left Koolhaas NY to start his own firm."
"Are you certain? Willing to bet a passing grade on this assignment on it?"
"I am." (This happens to to be only one of the three pictures I was 100% certain on."
"Very well, if you are right you get a passing grade, and the loser buys coffee."

He then addressed the class... "What I was trying to demonstrate, is that if you include a picture of another person's work on your assignment you damn well better know who made it, and why it's important. Which Mr. Nelson will now tell us something important about the Seattle Public library."

Fortunately for me, about a week ago I re-watched Joshua Ramus TED talk on the design of the library so I was able to talk about hyper-rationalism design and the continuous spiral stacks and other cool features of the library.

The professor brought me coffee the next class.

(The two other pictures I knew a lot about was James Binnion's Mokume-gane teapot and Nadir Khalili's fired clay dome at the cal-earth institute.)

Saturday, September 1, 2007


7.5 hours later I am ready to start the actual work part of my homework.

Thoughts about the program...

It is clear from this weekends design assignment that there are assumptions that are made about the students.

The first is that they have the freedom to spend late nights on evenings and weekends in the design labs. This assumes that they don't have spouses, children, or (in my case) a dog with her legs crossed bouncing up and down with impatience.

Example. We are doing light-dark studies studying how to control space through positive and negative space. We do this by printing our 3 of our fingerprints, blowing them up to 5x7" and identifying 2 interesting areas on each print, cutting those out and blowing all 6 of them up to 10x15" at Kinkos. We are then to transfer all 6 onto bristol board using a light table. The 6 bristol boards are then to be inked with gouche. One final one will be chosen and blown up to 20x30" on illustration board.

There is only one light table in our lab, and 6 in the main Architecture building. Lets assume no-one else in the entire 5 years needs to use the light table. There are 60 students in each section and are at least three sections (I think there are actually 4). That means there are 1080 fingerprints being transferred to bristol board this weekend.

Best case scenario... It took me an hour each to do the 5x7" transfer originally so if it takes twice as long to to do one 4 times as large... there are 2160 hours of light table time needed, which works out to 308 hours of time needed per table... and only 72 hours of time in the three day weekend.

I went and bought a $30 light table from Michaels.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hail and well met!

By popular demand of friends and family, I have created this blog which will hopefully chronicle my adventures in education.

What you will find:
What I am working on
School Life
Life in Bozeman/Belgrade
Fun in Job-land
Dog updates

What you will NOT find:
My dating life (or lack thereof)
Emotional Crises (unless they deal directly with School)
Anything not safe to share immediately with public.

Those I will limit to my friends-only LJ. If you think you should be privy to it, drop me a line.

Oh, and some of those who are on my LJ list may see some double-posts as I populate relevant bits.

Questions? Comments? Cash Donations?

Leave me a message.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Being a faux goth is hard...

(Today's stranger-familiar weirdness was Anj making me coffee at a local shop... even had the same mannerisms... creepy.)

So my father will be pleased that my life-long decision to wear mostly black has bit me most firmly in the ass.

It's 85 and sunny, tomorrow is supposed to my 92 and Friday 92.

But at least I don't look like and abrcombie&snitch clone. I swear that I have seen more khaki in the last week then I have in the 5 years previous. I also appear to be the only adult male on the planet who doesn't wear baseball caps. There are 15 guys I can see from where I'm sitting, 13 are wearing hats and the other 2 have their hats on the table.

Although I did see a catholic school girl skirt+ emily tee + tattoos disappear into the are building. Sadly far to soon for me to get close and thank her for being a breath of cool air.

I have pair of grey shorts, and lots o' black shirts. I think tonight I'm going to have to find black sandals and more black shorts. (In theory a pair of black sandals came down with me... the reality is I have found one)

Where does a melting geek shop anyway?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A quick post... (okay not so quick... I had time...)

I'll start with the weirdest thing. I'm surrounded by complete strangers. It has been a long time since I sat somewhere and didn't see someone I knew from class, work, or the coffee shop. I'm writing this in the commons and looking over a sea of strange faces. I don't even recognize any of them from my classes. Not that I have had a chance to really meet anyone other then the people of my Japanese class. (Where class introductions and re-introductions happen every single class.) Although there is at least one other architecture student who shares my same schedule, and is in 3 of my 4 classes. He's the only other person (besides myself) I've seen wearing black pants on campus. Sadly he seems a bit stand-offish, and we didn't end up getting assigned to the same design team in my studio class.

What makes this particularly weird is the almost recognition of people in the face of strangers. I see people and for a second my brain thinks it's someone I know and my heart leaps into my throat, but every time it's wrong. Often it's people from my distant past. I've seen Caroline, Thea, Spott, Heather, Richard, Michael just in the last two days. It's unnerving and a little sad.

Onto the mundane...
Sunday it hit 94 degrees, yesterday it was 'only' 87, and today it's in the mid 70's. Even then stomping around campus with a sack of books is hard work. But being as I am in pseudo-desert it gets damn cold at night. There was frost on my car at 6 am. So you have to start the night with all the windows open, and then around 2 am get up and close them all. I'm still melting during the day. I would ditch the long pants if I could

Classes started yesterday and on Mondays I have 4 classes back-to-back with only 10
minute breaks (when the professor released us on time)I had to haul all my stuff
with me. My back is killing me. The classes themselves are fine; my Japanese
professor is excited about teaching, the design theory is huge, the studio class is intimidating, and the pre-calc class will be time consuming. The only crappy thing is my
financial aid is all screwed up so I'm paying for things out of my emergency fund
which has me freaked out. ( I just had to drop $250 on art supplies and
calculator...after $600 in text books... and I haven't even gone grocery shopping
yet and I have to pay rent in three days..) Only a timely loan from my father allowed me to pay tuition and buy my starter books.

Tuesdays I have a three hour break between classes, which I spent trying to untangle ye' student loans. That and getting done all the things I would have done if I had attended orientation instead of driving down the AlCan. (Like getting an ID, learning where to mail things from, etc...)

Lets see, my apartment looks like ass from the outside, but it is clean and spacious inside. It's probably 2.5 times the size of my old one. Add to that all the stuff I left behind or got rid of and I'm kinda rattling around in it. It's a four-plex and my neighbors consist of a single dad + 12 year old son, a Mexican family that has at least mom, dad and teenage daughter with and unknown number of additional family members. Yesterday there were 10 of them out there washing their cars. I don't know how many of them actually live there...
(They also appear to wash at least one car every day...) However, the real prize is the group of pot-smokers living underneath me. There are (so far as I can tell) at least three of them and a dog (really friendly boxer with a stupid spiked collar.) Oh and drum set. Whoever was playing the drums was pretty good. Fortunately they didn't play long, nor to late in the evening.
However, they apparently tie their dog up to the tree in the front yard (a major no-no according to the rental agent) and never clean up the dog crap.


Lets not forget my rather strategic mistake of getting an apartment west of the railroad tracks and north of the airport. Actually, the 4 insane Yorkies in the house behind me wake me more often.

I also have potentially two jobs lined up. There is an opening for a part-time tech at Office Depot or I can get job as delivery driver for McKenzie River Pizza. It's their equivalent to Moose's Tooth... and it's damn good. There is a branch about 2 blocks from my house and the general manager is a TA in one of my classes. She'd be willing to hire me starting Thursday if I want. The pay is actually better then I'd make working as a tech on campus + tips. (Oh and major
discount of food.)

The drive down was fine except for father spoiling my dog. I neither got to go fishing nor stop at the Laird hot springs. We drove past them just as they were closing. We had some... heated ... discussions where our viewpoints diverge politically and the car was little tense following that but otherwise it was fine.

I think I've rambled enough... I just saw another heartache from the past and I think I'm going to retreat to the less crowded environs of the math building and reduce the weirdness.