April 2005 Archives

Biology is Destiny


I guess I should have known something like this would happen when I started designing a building based on hands and bones and tendons. Somehow, my design for our latest project has morphed into a bony structure with chunky, knuckle-like bits, lacing over a twisty, organic staircase in the shape of a uterus and ovaries.

Maybe there is something to the theory that all good artists are insane.

Silly Dances


This weekend one of the things we did was that Noel went all around San Francisco bouncing up and down like a fool, wearing bells and flipping hankies at five other men. Some friends and I met up with him in Union Square at the end of the day, and we all went out to dinner. But not before we were subjected to an hour of this.

The Toilet is Not Playing by the Rules


My apartment in San Luis Obispo is student housing, which means it's an illegal studio tacked onto a regular bungalow and rented out at rates which are ridiculously unaffordable if you have to work in a rural town like this. Being an illegally constructed apartment, it has certain benefits (it is invisible from the street) and certain drawbacks (no separate utilities from the main house, which is also rented out). One of those drawbacks is that the plumbing is nowhere near code.

So the rules are this: every few weeks, the toilet gets plugged up, and I spend a day or less thinking I can just add water to the bowl regularly and clear the clog. It teases me by making weird gurgling noises, but eventually I break down and plunge it, whereupon it clears immediately and with very little effort.

It got kind of funny on Friday, and I didn't deal with it. So when I got back tonight, I gave in and just plunged it right away, because I'd been driving for hours and required its services. And it hasn't unplugged. I plunged it with all my might, harder than I plunged it the day I had to climb on the roof with the help of the girls up front and dislodge something from the vent. And it is draining, but only very slowly. All is not lost -- I have a studio only five minutes away from here with an adequate toilet -- but it's awfully inconvenient to have to go to school to use the bathroom.

If it will not plunge clear tomorrow morning, I will be calling a plumber. I hope that this is something like a $50 service call, rather than something that requires fixing the fact that the plumbing lacks adequate slope to prevent plugs like this, which would probably entail ripping the crap out of the kitchen floor and leaving me without a bathroom at all. But with any luck, the toilet will recover its senses and start gurgling any moment now, indicating its willingness to give in.

Excursions and Buttache


My butt hurts. It hurts because I have spent the last several days standing in studio, working on a model. It hurts because I stood for ten hours yesterday, one of those outside in the cold talking on the phone about the foundation (stress, stress), then got in the car and drove home for four hours without stopping. I told Noel my butt hurt (while he was driving around the Marin Headlands last night trying to find a bunch of Morris dancers and not succeeding), and he said, "Why does your butt hurt? You've been standing all day." As if the only way your butt could hurt is if you sat on it.

Also, my knees ache, and I have a pop in my shoulder. Whine whine whine. You'd hardly think I was under 40.

So today I am lying down for the morning. In the afternoon, I will get my aching butt out of bed and drive into San Francisco, where I will first go to a yarn shop and possibly spend next quarter's tuition on yarn (don't worry; I pay in-state tuition), then meet up with some friends and go watch Noel make an ass of himself in celebration of his cultural heritage. Watching people dress up in silly clothes and hop around with bells on makes me very happy that my cultural heritage is less publicly goofy.

Tomorrow we meet with our contractor in the morning, then I have to drive back to school. We're almost halfway through the quarter, and this one seems to be going faster than the other three. I'm enjoying school, but really looking forward to living at home all summer. Unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes are great, and have saved us a lot of heartache, but they are not the same thing as being able to have stupid conversations in person.

Fuss and Bother


I've been spending a lot of time working on house issues lately, having taken over as project manager from Noel. This means that when I'm not in classes -- and sometimes during the lulls in studio -- I'm out on the walkway, talking about contracts and materials and costs with our contractor. What it all comes down to is that $104,000 is more than a little bit more than $55,000, a simple fact that it has been taking our contractor two weeks to understand fully, as awful as the prospect is for all of us. It's much worse for him, of course. We get a new basement out of the deal, after all.

I've also been working on a new project in studio, for a ritual space, but right now it's in the messy, inchoate state with no photos. I do, however, now know that the staircase between the two wings of the engineering building has stairs that are in no way code-legal, and which vary in size from 5 1/2" rise to 6 1/2" rise, and from 11" run to 12 1/2" run. That's some substantial variation.

And I knit a penguin, which I sewed up all wrong and then destroyed while trying to un-sew it to fix the problem. It's a good thing I wasn't just made pope, because there's no way I could do that infallible thing. Oh, right, or the male thing, because we all know only boys can talk to God mano-a-mano.

Drawing Room


So we had our models of our room for drawing due last week, and we presented them to the class on Friday and Monday. I didn't have the digital camera down with me, but my teacher took photos and gave them to me, so you can all see them. (Well, actually, he took the photos for grading and his teaching portfolio, but the side effect of that is that you get nice photos instead of crappy cameraphone ones.)



Just before last quarter finished, I found a neat little bag at the dollar store. So I bought two. One to use as a bag (the perfect size to carry a smallish knitting project, or use as a purse now that it'd getting too hot to wear a coat all the time), and one to take apart and analyse. So this evening I settled in with the seam ripper and my monkey brain, and took the thing apart.

School Roundup


Ah, so the quarter, how is it going? Quite well, thanks for asking. Not that you did, of course, but I have my little fantasies.

Um, EW


Penetrating the Secrecy


There's lots of talk right now about the security measures being taken to conceal the proceedings at the papal conclave. Which is fine -- those proceedings should be secret. What I don't understand is why anybody would care to listen in. We're not going to be able to change the outcome. It's not as if they're not going to tell us all who the new pope is. And it's not as if the information they will exchange there -- about the new pope's views on women, birth control, Asian politics, or whatever -- is particularly hidden from us. A decent investigative reporter can uncover plenty of dirt on his own without resorting to technology.

Not to mention that the whole thing is likely to be incredibly boring. I mean, it's the Catholic Church. It's not some reality TV show where a lady might walk out naked or something. These are 60-ish celibates, debating who gets to lead a church that has increasingly alienated its followers by trying to force them to stay in the middle ages. We all decided these guys were irrelevant years ago, especially you Protestants. So what gives with the insatiable papal curiosity?

Ranting About Talent


There's an ad playing on the radio now that sort of offhandedly presumes that great musicians and artists are born that way. I can't think of any better way to devalue the years of work and study that goes into developing real skill and experience in a field than to insist that the practitioner was born that way. As if the talent were no more than luck, and the reason the rest of us don't have it is not that we didn't work as hard, but that we somehow drew the short stick in the gene pool.

Only in California


I had one of those only in California moments the other day. Joy, one of the girls in the front of the house, and I were in the back yard talking about when the oranges would be ready to be eaten, plus the pruning I had done on the persimmon. She gestured to a plant growing out of the old weedy bed near my door and said, "What is that?"

The After-Effects of the Cold War


I keep thinking this guy has the US and Soviet flags flying at his house.

Back to the Plaster


You can never quite get away from plaster in architecture, can you? In studio we've been working on a quick, two-week "warm-up" project. It's kind of complicated, but bear with me and you'll see how fun it really has been.



Noel called me earlier to make sure I'd gotten home safely in the rain. Of course, it was POURING there, but it was just fine -- sunny and bright -- my whole drive down to SLO, so I had no idea what he was talking about except in the abstract sense (having heard the weather report on the radio).

Rosie came down with me again to give Noel a vacation from dog mornings and her more chances to try to sniff the entire beach. We took our time getting here (we stopped at Fry's to try to find some weensy clamps for model building), then we had a little walk, ate dinner, and did engineering homework (Rosie's a real champ at stress calculations). I was sitting down at the computer to check out the lecture notes for history when the heavens fell on the apartment. Hey, wow, is it raining. And that domed skylight in the bathroom is like a drum, isn't it? Now I see why he was concerned.

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