I went back to Alameda this weekend, and I felt completely removed from everybody I saw. It's as if the travel puts a layer of emotional distance between me and people who live there.
October 2004 Archives
... Without all the pesky farmers, and what the heck, without the market part, too.
On Thursday nights, there's a farmer's market in San Luis Obispo. This is actually referred to as "world famous," even though in ten years as a foodie in the Bay Area I never heard about it. The thing about this market is that it's more of a street fair than a real farmer's market: half the stalls are political, a third are restaurants selling prepared food, and a very small number actually sell produce. What produce they do sell is mostly apples (well, it is the season) with the occasional avocado or persimmon.
This evening I went down there determined to find something green to cook next week. I saw a stand of avocados, and was encouraged by their good looks, so I attempted to buy one.
"Can I give you a dollar for this?" (The sign said "Hass: $1 each" -- I wasn't bargaining or anything.)
"In fifteen minutes."
"No, seriously, can't I just pay for it now?"
"No, we don't start selling for fifteen minutes."
"I'm not going to be here then."
"We don't start selling for fifteen minutes."
So he missed out on one sale, and any possible future sales from me. I don't get why he was so busy that he could not sell me a single avocado for a single dollar for which I did not need change. It's a market, right? Every time that sort of thing happens -- when a small-time merchant refuses to take my money except on their own terms and at their own convenience -- I grow less and less concerned about the plight of the small-farm operation. Obviously, if things are so good that they can turn away business, then they don't need any farm subsidies, or special zoning protection.
Anyway, another loser market day for me. There's another market on Saturday mornings which is more likely to have real farmers and real market behaviour, but I'm going to be out of town the next couple Saturdays. Maybe I should just go to Berkeley's farmer's market. I may have to deal with Berkeley people to do it, but at least the produce is worthwhile.
That what broke The Curse was Massachusetts taking a sudden, jerking step towards brotherly love and Christian tolerance by allowing gay marriage. Clearly, God was happy that we had one decent moment as a people, and gave us A Sign.
I mean, does anybody honestly think that Jesus would damn somebody for loving? And if so, have they read their Bible lately? Maybe it's living here in the Bible Belt of California that's getting to me, but I find these perverters of Christianity sickening. Anti-love, pro-killing. How on earth can somebody live like that and call himself a Christian?
We did more watercolours and drawing in studio today, which was stressful and painful because I was feeling kind of out of it and had to work hard to stay upright on the stool. I had almost skipped out of school altogether after physics, where I was so out of it that I almost passed out.
I came home and had some dinner, but I can't say as how that helped much. I must be anaemic right now, or I'm coming down with the evil cold everybody else has had, but I won't allow that to happen. Iron pills are easy enough to come by. A week of rest is not.
Anyway, I won't torture you all with the hideous paintings I did in class today. They were horrible. My trees kept coming out like evil bright green blobs of ugliness. Maybe that wooziness was getting to me.
I came home as soon as we finished up and have been doing engineering homework since then. I've plowed through most of it, only to get stumped by one 3D strut problem that seems to have one too many unknowns. I know I'm missing some hint in the question, so I figured I'd check the Sox's score (there IS a God!) and browse the web a bit, only I managed to kink my back up so badly in studio that it hurts to surf the web. Dammit.
As of this afternoon, I'm officially a Construction Management minor, as well as an ARCH major. This involved more running around than I care to go into, but when I did eventually get the right paperwork to the right person, it was a matter of a frank discussion about getting into classes (hard; CM is an impacted program; there are techniques for getting into classes, but it needs persistence) and timing for the nine required classes, then a signature filed in the office.
Construction Management is managing the construction phase of a project, making a budget, bidding it, setting up a timeline, making sure everybody shows up when they're supposed to and does what the plans say. It's what contractors do. It's what architects SHOULD do, but chose not to in favour of being artists, heaven knows why. Here's the result: Construction Management majors get recruited out of college with lots of bribery and competition over them for the many open positions. Architecture majors have to fight 200 other applicants tooth and claw for one low-paying design job that they hunted for a year to find. I'd do a double major but I can't quite swing that and the Master's program in the fourth and fifth years.
Today in studio we did a series of exercises in landscape drawing. We used watercolours and these soluble graphite pencils. So now I'm very good at drawing desert landscapes, which might be useful if I ever had to work as a renderer in Arizona. I can't even tell you how unlikely it is that I will move somewhere hot and dry, where the politics is conservative and the cheese is unnaturally orange, and do a job that involves drawing all day.
Anyway, I thought I'd show you some of those drawings, on account of how you're a captive audience and all. I will leave out the wash exercises, because frankly they were pretty boring, being mostly designed to explain wash techniques to a bunch of students who mostly had never done any before.
I took a nap this afternoon, which has kind of derailed my normal sleeping schedule (usually, I try to be getting into bed at least by 10:30), but it felt really good. I lost a lot of sleep over the last couple of weeks due to the stress of the previous household coming all to pieces and then moving suddenly. So I figured now was a good time to talk about it.
This is a bit long, so I put it behind a cut.
(Apologies to anybody who gets this song stuck in their head.)
Calpoly has a bell tower that has Winchester chimes. I grew up in a town with a bell tower, so I'm partial to them. But I don't think Calpoly has concerts on theirs, like Cornell did.
It's pissing down rain today all along the California coast, so I got soaking wet at school, dashing from building to building across campus. But it's warm, so getting wet wasn't all that bad.
Today I'm thankful for the rain, appropriately enough.
So here's my new apartment in San Luis Obispo. It's quite nice inside, largish for a studio, with a full bathroom and a decent kitchen. I have a dinky little under-counter fridge, but that will just make me eat better, because I can't buy frozen food.
We had breakfast at IHOP on Saturday, while I was reading my new lease over before signing it and faxing it over. When we came out, Rosie was sitting in the driver's seat. That's her thing.
Somewhat out of order, this is the model I worked on on Friday night while Noel sat on a conference call for a network outage at work. We went to my studio at school to do that, because there's good network coverage there and there would be something for me to do, too. Just about when Noel finished his call, I finished my model (apart from the painting, which I did Monday morning). Good timing.
I was going to write a gripey, amusing little post today about the speed limits in San Luis Obispo, but I realized that what I want to write about, really, is everything I have to be thankful for. This is my week for giving thanks, after all the horrors of last week, which I will write about later.
If you have my address in San Luis Obispo, don't send me anything there. I'm moving this weekend. Mail me for the new address.
I confess that I have always played fast and loose with gauge in knitting, and I now admit that if I am to crochet lace, I have to stop that misbehaviour.
Here's what I've been working on lately:
They look kinda funny, don't they? That's because I've been using the thread I bought, plus a crochet hook I had, rather than following the directions. I guess that's not such a great idea. I mean, the one on the left was supposed to be able to fit twelve of those leaf thingies, and I barely squeezed in eight.
Actually, the one on the right appears to be mostly fine; I kinda psyched myself out reading the pattern, which was written in French, and tore half the thing out then started to work on it again before getting frustrated with trying to translate and decode at the same time, plus there's all this garbage about what a single crochet or double crochet actually is, which is crazy.
Anyway, I'm going to get the proper hook and thread and try that first one again. If I were feeling really energetic, I would just get a bunch of new hooks and see how it came out, but I've got to build a model by Friday afternoon, so it's not going to happen.
I'm trying very hard not to get all irrational and political here, mainly because I find preachy blogs boring, but dudes, you have got to check out this op-ed in the New York Times:
Mr. Bush's statements, on the other hand, are fundamentally dishonest. He is insisting that black is white, and that failure is success. Journalists who play it safe by spending equal time exposing his lies and parsing Mr. Kerry's choice of words are betraying their readers.
This is so much more refreshing than their lapdog routine of the last four years. I guess that Jayson Blair thing combined with the massive idiocy of believing Chalabi was a credible source has caused some changes over there, and not a moment too soon.
Jacques Derrida just died at 74. I didn't realize he was so young when I had to suffer through studying his work. But even for all the pain and irritation he gave me, I would not have wished pancreatic cancer on him.
Chronic irritable bowel syndrome, on the other hand: that I wished on him.
I just bought a new backpack. I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but believe me, when you compare it to doing force calculations, it kinda grows on you.
Also, I've been making some stuff this quarter, and if you follow this link, you can see some of my schoolwork.
Here's where I've gotten on the lace doily I've been practising with. It's not exactly what the pattern said to do, but what the pattern said to do made no sense, so I made some of it up. Well, it looks like the picture in the book.
I actually haven't done much on it in days, because I can't figure out how to crochet while driving, drawing, or doing three dimensional force calculations on beams. Same thing with playing the mandolin, which I also find frustrating and enjoyable in the same way.
Changing to crochet thread helped a lot, which has led me to toss out the ball of Lion Microspun, as delightful as it is for a synthetic. I didn't get enough to knit anything with it, and I'm clearly never going to be able to crochet with it worth a damn.
I've been considering buying a pattern book, actually, which is a step in the mainstream direction for me. The things in it are very simple, but they use some of the funky new yarns in interesting ways, including one shawl that I've been puzzling over. It's clearly a very simple design, but three yarns are twisted together and apart to make a texture that is amazing in the photograph. That's the sort of thing I can see needing a pattern to do. I also saw some books with charts of various crochet (and knit) stitches, and thought those looked interesting, but I'm trying not to spend huge amounts of money right now as I just spent something like $1,000 on textbooks and supplies. No kidding. Anyway.
I've had a lot of homework (but not, oddly, very hard homework, with the exception of that engineering problem which turned out to be quite easy once we knew the trick), but this evening I was sitting on my bed doing some of it and getting ready to go out again for the Habitat for Humanity meeting, when my bad sleeping schedule for this week caught up with me abruptly, and I basically keeled over.
I slept for two hours, and woke up feeling predictably groggy and out of it, some of which has been healed by having some dinner (I missed breakfast this morning because I had a hard time getting up and was running late). Unfortunately, I missed the meeting, though of course I can just drop them e-mail and ask if when the next one is and when work days are. I figure all the knowledge of drywall and so forth that I've gotten over the last couple years should come in pretty handy, and maybe I can learn some other skills, too. On somebody else's house.
We did lettering today in studio, and then several Golden Mean exercises (yawn). Next time, we're going to work on model-building skills and go over the process of bubble diagramming. We did have one interesting discussion today, when the kids were giving the teacher shit about the lettering and drawing exercises (and when it was clear that most of them had not done the work). She asked us what we wanted to do as architects, and predictably most people raised their hand at "designer." "You know how many designers there are in the typical firm? If you want that job, you better be prepared to compete for it."
I want to be a programmer/project manager, personally. I guess I'm not going to have to compete tooth and claw for that job, if my studio is anything to go by.
Now back to my regularly scheduled homework exercises.
I spent the weekend in Alameda, which was absolutely marvelous. For one thing, there's so much more to do there. On Saturday John and I spent the afternoon painting his bedroom. We did the final glaze coat of red over the yellow, and now the room is a very saturated orangy colour, which is pretty much what John wanted in the room. It'll look better when the room is full of stuff, too.
In the evening, Noel and I went to dinner at Chris and George's house, where Noel got to play their incredibly quiet clavichord, an instrument so quiet that they can play it at three in the morning without fearing waking their neighbors, which is pretty good since the neighbors can hear the harpsichord, and I've always thought of that as a "considerate neighbor" kind of instrument. I'm so glad we don't share any walls with our neighbors, because sometimes we are up until two knocking things down and moving furniture around or whatever, and it would really put a crimp in our destructive lifestyle to have to be considerate of people who want to sleep at night.
On Sunday, Charlotte and Elaine came over for brunchy thing and hanging out, which was very nice indeed. It's so wonderful to talk to people who have more to talk about than what they've seen on TV.
Simon was all scabby and gross, so when I left to go back to school (I had to meet with my statics lab partner to build and calculate loads for a mobile), Noel took him to the vet (verdict: allergic to fleas, which were apparently acquired on the sojourn under the neighbor's house; treatment: flea drops all around). It was hard to leave to go back to school. I love getting to study architecture in more depth, and I'm really enjoying my classes, but I wish I could do it while living at home. On the other hand, I'm getting a much better and more valuable education here than I could get at either of the local architecture schools.
I went from the car to my studio and worked there until after eight, then headed back to my room and set up the TV my landlady is storing in my room, thinking there might be something decent on (nope). I'm super tired today for whatever reason, so I'm going to get to sleep earlier than I was last week (when I was going to bed after midnight most nights, ugh). I'm going to have a busy week this week, so I need to be careful to stay well rested.