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December 30, 2004

Books for Sale

Somehow, I managed to convince myself that I don't need to hold on to every terrible book I've read, just in case I might be tempted to buy it again. So I made up five large boxes of books and went over to Pegasus Books in Berkeley to sell them. I've sold books to bookstores before, and this was a primo selection, including a lot of good copies of standbys.

They bought half a box of them.

You'd think I'd be angry because of that, but they bought half a box of them for considerably more trade credit than I was expecting for all of them.

How odd. Well, we'll try taking the rest down to Book Buyers in Mountain View, which is where I usually sell books. A bit of a drive for book selling or buying, but more likely to lead to those books being out of the house and fresh, exciting new books being in the house.

# Posted by ayse on 12/30/04 at 7:34 PM

December 29, 2004

Last Days of a Year

This is the time of the year when people get all nostalgic and stuff about what happened in the last year. A bunch of people I know have posted "what I thought of this year" posts, and it seemed like a good idea, so I jumped on the bandwagon.


FIrst of all, I had a pretty good year. I changed from community college to a professional architecture program, and I love my school and my classes, and I feel like I'm really learning and retaining (which is more important than learning, I think). I didn't get a perfect 4.0 this quarter (a mere B+ in engineering), but I'm feeling very good about my performance and my abilities. Next quarter I begin my construction management courses, and probably next year I will be allowed to begin taking graduate level classes.

I have a great life, with a dear sweet lovely husband who is supportive of everything I'm doing, and who helps me when I need it, both by giving me a hand and by letting me work it out on my own. When I had a paper route as a kid, one of my customers once told me that the first year of marriage sets the tone for the whole thing. I was like 12 or something, so it wasn't as if that meant anything at the time, but now I can only hope. Being married per se has not made much of a difference, but my relationship with Noel has completely changed my life, for the better.

Noel's college friend John moved in with us this summer, and having him around has been great. While there have been the natural adjustments to living with another person (John eats more than any human being I have ever met, so our food storage needs have increased quite a bit), the animals love him and he takes good care of them. He often covers for us when animal care is needed, which makes my being away at school much easier on Noel.

I have a dangerous, ruinously expensive hobby in the house, but I have a great time with it in between painful and frustrating reconstruction experiences. Half the time I'm only guessing what I need to do, but it seems to turn out OK in the end. In the next few days I'll finish the end of the year wrap-up on Casa Decrepit and you can see how much work we've done in the first year of the Ten Year Plan.

I have other, also expensive hobbies in ceramics (which I have not been doing much work on) and photography. I enjoy them, and fortunately they are the sort of thing you can set down and not do much with for a while and all that happens is that you forget what that mysterious, unmarked button on the camera does (answer: eject film).

I have returned to knitting after several years of not doing it because of my allergy to sheep, and it is loads of fun, especially now that I can sit around and make fun of newbie knitters behind their backs. All the cool new yarns make for some very interesting options, and I'm excited about some of my planned projects. I may even knit myself another sweater.

Despite all the goodness of this year, I feel sometimes as if this were the beginning of the Apocalypse, with the end of democracy and the checks and balances system in America, uncontrolled religious war in the Middle East, the Sox taking the pennant (not that I'm complaining about that), the tsunami with unbelievable death tolls. I don't know. It all seems so awful and painful that most of the time I shut it out. I thought the World Trade Center collapse was bad, but this last year has taught me that that was nothing, a blip. Things can get much worse.

Some people close to me have had a hideous year. It really tempers my joy when those close to me are going through divorce, miscarriage, the death of a baby, the death of a parent (or two), the loss of jobs or other major monetary setbacks, or the aftermath of a house fire. Here's to a better 2005. Here's to finding the joy in a bad time. Happy New Year.

# Posted by ayse on 12/29/04 at 4:18 PM

December 26, 2004

Wheeze and Gasp

If I sit still for long, it's quite possible to forget that I have 50 percent of my optimal lung capacity. But then I get all stupid and do things like decide to rearrange all my architecture books and move a bookcase, and the lungs remind me that that is not allowed.

Anyway, I'm still feeling like crap. I do my inhalers as prescribed and I try to rest as prescribed, but it is not easy. I have finished all the knitting I had yarn for, and tonight Noel took me to Barnes and Noble, but none of the books appealed (I really don't need any form of Simple Knits). So I think tomorrow I will visit Imagiknit while we're in the city feeding a friend's cat, and maybe they will have some interesting yarn that will inspire me and keep me occupied while I rest and rest and rest.

# Posted by ayse on 12/26/04 at 10:25 PM

December 21, 2004

Holy Cow

I can't stop coughing. If I talk to anybody for more than a few minutes, I go off on a coughing fit. I feel dizzy and weird. Unfortunately, I'm out of albuterol, and that lovely codeine cough syrup that was so nice expired a long time ago. So I must attempt to see my charming new doctor tomorrow. Fortunately, I have reason to believe he will be at work this week.

Like everybody else, I hate traveling at Christmastime, but this is not a preferred alternative, frankly.

# Posted by ayse on 12/21/04 at 9:56 PM

December 15, 2004

Her Main Man

Ana has decided John is her new favourite, and his desk is her favourite place to lie during the day (he locks her out of his room at night, or she'd sleep with him).

ana in the sunlight

# Posted by ayse on 12/15/04 at 10:36 PM

December 13, 2004

Doggie in the Grass: Alas!

I took some photos of Rosie playing with her chew hoof in the yard this afternoon, trying to be a very good dog while the heating guys insisted upon tempting her with saws and drills and kneeling on the floor (OBVIOUSLY to play with the dog).


Slinking around in the grass...

Chewing on the hoof...



She has her dignity...


Rosie the gangsta lab...


# Posted by ayse on 12/13/04 at 7:04 PM

December 12, 2004


We had a little dinner party yesterday, one of those dinner parties that keeps getting smaller and smaller because some of the hosts are not coordinated about inviting people, and some of the guests had other commitments or illness crop up.


We had a small, simple meal: mixed greens salad with (gasp!) store Italian dressing, seaweed soup, crab and mushroom tortellini, then some nice cheeses with apple tart.

I made the tortellini: mostly crab (it's crab season here and I found some lovely crab meat at the Ferry Market) but some with chantarelle mushrooms because I wasn't sure whether one of our guests was vegetarian or not. The mushroom ones were a bit anaemic; I filled them out with ricotta, but I really should have made them solid mushroom to contrast with the crab. The crab ones were absolutely awesome. There's nothing like good, fresh ingredients.

The pasta part of the tortellini was a bit thick. Somewhere along the line my pasta machine disappeared, so when I make pasta now it's by hand, and I was being a bit clumsy with the rolling pin when I was cooking (or rather, impatient). So it tasted great (like fresh pasta ought to) but was a bit thick, as I said.

The crust on the tart was amazing. It was the cream cheese crust from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible and yeah, it was excellent. Perfectly buttery flavoured, perfect texture, amazing. And super-easy to make. I recommend.

So, nice small dinner party, a chance to experiment with some recipes, and a reason to get the two parlours in usable shape slightly earlier than the usual open house hysterics, due to begin early this coming week.

# Posted by ayse on 12/12/04 at 1:37 PM

December 6, 2004

What Architecture Has in Common with Science

Notebooks. We keep notebooks. OK, architects' notebooks don't have to withstand solvent spills, but they do have to stand up to Coke or glue. Which is why I am saving this link to lab notebook information here.

Some quotes:

Not everyone sets out with the goal of patenting a process or contraption, but you might stumble onto something important and in such an event you must have a notebook that supports your claims. If you have not kept up a proper laboratory notebook, other researchers and their patent lawyers will beat you to the Patent Office and to the bank.
Some researchers insist on reserving the left-hand page for "cryptic notes to self, and quick calculations", and the right-hand page for "real" entries. Do not do this. This strategy undermines the more important goal of keeping a notebook that is truly dechipherable by others. If you have made "calculations and notes to self" without proper narrative explanation and justification, you, too, will probably find the left-hand page unusable after several months have elapsed.

Good stuff.

# Posted by ayse on 12/06/04 at 7:05 PM

December 4, 2004

Many Models

Yesterday was the last day of classes, and at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design that means one thing: crits!

I have some photos from third and fourth year crits, plus photos from my own studio: my classmates and my work. So read on.

Out n the Dexter Lawn, there was a setup from a third year studio. They had to use a four foot cube, all white, and make something that seemed more undefined than I'm sure it really was, from talking to the students. Bear in mind that just about everybody is operating on five hours of sleep this week, so nobody was really coherent.

3rd year setup

I took a bunch of photos of models for reference, and this is one of them. I liked how the roof curved and was angular at the same time.

3rd year model

Then I went down to the fourth year crit in the gallery, and oh, wow. I've got to figure out how to build models like these. The project was a rebuilding of a block in an Italian neighborhood, to make a community center.

4th year model (1)

4th year model (2)

OK, so here are some photos from my own studio. Our project was called "A Gallery of Desert Spaces" and had to fit into a 75' cube at 1/4" scale (that's an 18 3/4" cube, for your reference) and touch all planes of the cube. Some of the work was really stunning, so I've taken pictures of my favourites.

This guy Katsunori is clearly too advanced to be in this studio. What you can't see in this picture is that the model comes apart like a puzzle. It was stunning.

katsu's model

Eric has been building models for a while. He did a really good job on his textures and finishes, especially the copper roofs.

eric's model

I have some other pictures of this model, but this is my favourite. Look at those stairs! So perfect.

larisa's staircase

Now on to my own model. We had to make a desk setup that included the watercolours we did as research and preparation for this model. I taped mine roughly on a board to make them look like notes pinned up at a desk. Some people liked that and some people thought it looked unfinished.

my desk setup

This is the model alone. The bottom is a lobby area, the frosted glass hides the gallery itself.

my model: exterior

A closer photo of the lobby. The floor is made of a mosaic of pictures of the desert, blown up and turned into textures. That went over REALLY well. A lot better than I expected. People thought it was the most successful part of the model. Until they saw the next view.

my model: lobby

The centerpiece of my design was a room called "The Vastness of the Valley." It's a 75'x75' room with a tilted floor and ceiling, to make it look larger, and just the columns running through it. I lined up the columns and made them decrease in size to enhance the effect. My teacher loved it, and people who peeked in thought it worked really well.

my model: through the peekhole

After the crit, I walked home (because the bus schedule is mysteriously different on Fridays) and forced myself to stay awake until a reasonable hour. Very tiring, but I feel good about being done. Now I only have physics, engineering, and environmental design finals.

# Posted by ayse on 12/04/04 at 8:49 AM

December 1, 2004

Cut Glue Paint

I'm in a frenzy of model-building this week, for our crit on Friday (arch school speak: a crit is when you set up your work all nice-like and everybody piles on and gives you what-for about it. This is actually desireable because most of the time the feedback you get comes from the teacher or your friends, so on this one day you get to hear a lot of other responses to your work and learn from them. Or have your heart broken if you're a fragile flower).

I designed this building with a curved floor, and that curved floor has been giving me headaches all week, but tonight I had a revelation: I can just fudge it and not have it be perfect, because it's better to be done than not done. Also, the fussing was getting stupid. So tomorrow morning I will glue my columns in place, make my fudged floors and ramps, and figure out my weird wall problem, and with any luck I will be mostly done. I have only one class tomorrow so I can work all day on the project, with one sidetrack to turn in a paper for another class.

If I can get All Done tomorrow, I can relax on Friday and just clean my workspace, maybe colour in my lettering work or sit in the warm spot in the library (most of the library is bizarrely chilly) and knit on the baby romper I'm working on.

In other news, my car has engine problems right now, caused by the idiot mechanics in Alameda (who I was trying out and will never go to again -- first they tried to double-charge me for a timing belt change and then they installed it incorrectly and caused all kinds of damage), so I've been getting around on foot and by bus, which adds a certain slowness to the day. Tonight I had to go to the art store downtown, and afterwards I decided to forgo waiting for the bus in the freezing cold and walk home. Then Rosie and I went for a walk, so I had about an hour of solid walking. It felt good. I recommend walking briskly in chilly weather. You don't get overheated, and you get decent exercise.

So I've been appreciating the challenge of being carlese, but I have to say that as soon as I get my car back I will give up on the 10 mph bus to school.

# Posted by ayse on 12/01/04 at 9:01 PM