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.