One Truth For All
We were on conte crayons for the last few weeks in studio, and I find it hard to find good subjects for conte crayon, which really wants you to draw things with lots of texture and not lots of fiddly bits. I draw the fiddly bits best.
So I spent a few afternoons wandering around campus finding decent buildings to draw. I think they came out pretty nicely, overall. I was playing with negative and positive a bit in some of them, but I don't know if you'd be able to tell where without standing in front of the building in question.
Performing Arts Center
Lightwell in the Parking Structure (my favourite of this batch)
I went in to talk to the graduate business school about the Architectural Management Track program this week, and the short summary is that I left the meeting deeply dissatisfied with the answers I got to my very specific questions about the level of actual architectural content in the program.
But that's not what I have been thinking about from that conversation. Instead, I keep thinking about a comment the associate dean made to me about "double counting": he alleges that credits received for one degree should not be used to count for credit for another. That doing so is, in fact, unethical. I think he's wrong, and I think the way that he is wrong is what is wrong with business education today.
A university basically has two goals in giving you a degree: to ensure that you are equipped with a well-rounded, generalist education in matters that will be important to you in unforeseen ways after you graduate, and to give you an in-depth technical education in your major and/or minor.
Society has a third, less noble goal in asking for college degrees: they want to see that you can sit in a seat and obey orders for long enough to get the credit necessary to graduate. That you are willing to go through the motions and give in to the rituals to get the paper. There is a value to this. I have seen it as a manager and coworker.
So if we take an example of a student who has gotten a bachelor's degree from one institution and applies for a second bachelor's at another, it is entirely in keeping with the goals of the second education institution to review the generalist education received at the first institution and decide that that goal has already been met. Similarly, it is often possible to get college credit for experience, by demonstrating competence in the field.
The associate dean suggested that those students should be required to take the same number of credits to get the second degree as the students who started as freshmen at the second institution. But does that really serve any of the goals mentioned here? If I had to take as many credits as other students, what purpose does that serve? I've already demonstrated my knowledge in generalist subjects to the satisfaction of the university. I've shown society that I am willing to sit in a seat and get my degree once, at a much more challenging academic institution, in fact.
For the second bachelors, I have to take at least 50 credits in residence. In order to keep from going insane, I need to take at least 16 credits a quarter, so I'm taking a lot more than that. Instead of taking random general education classes on new subjects (he was generous enough to suggest that second bachelors students could take general education classes in other subjects), I'm doing two minors, giving me a more technical education this time around, but then again, a technical education is what I'm here for. If I wanted to, I could go part-time and not do the two minors, and it would still take me as long to graduate because the studio program is lockstepped, anyway. If I were in a more flexible program, I could graduate faster, with the same basic requirements as first-bachelors students have met when they graduate. I think that serves the needs of the institution better than a random second general education.
Some business schools, the diploma mills places that just churn out MBAs regardless of the quality of the education they confer with the degree, think that doing the time gets you the paper. They don't look at the larger picture and the goals of the organization or or society as a whole. They just set up a bunch of arbitrary rules and make you go through them in order to get the degree. So the people they attract are inflexible and rules-oriented, and turn into pointy-haired bosses who crush all the creativity out of their employees. They basically only look at the butt-in-seat-time goal, which is one that shouldn't even be primary for them, and lose sight of the other goals of an educational instutition. That kind of education is worse than none at all, in my mind.
Then you have the good business schools. They look at a student's experience and try to build on it. They are able to tailor their program to expand on knowledge and give some in-depth knowledge in areas where the student can use it. They provide the generalist classes, they provide the in-depth knowledge, and they also give a certain amount of butt-in-seat time. All the goals are met, and the student gets a really high-quality education that doesn't teach them to be inflexible: it shows them that being goal-oriented gets good results.
At any rate, after my conversation with the associate dean, I decided Cal Poly's business school doesn't seem to have much to offer me. They're more interested in spitting students out as fast as possible than in giving in-depth education or interesting electives, and the main benefit the associate dean could come up with for me was that his program is cheaper than most. I don't think making the argument that a program is cheap to somebody who has a degree from Smith makes much sense, but in California they don't know what Smith is so I'll cut him some slack. I'd rather go to a school that has shown serious interest in developing my skills into something really great, and pay more. So hey, when I graduate in December next year, I will be done, and can go home!
My neighbors in SLO just bought a used hot tub. I know this because they spent an hour earlier this evening painfully hauling it into their back yard, discovering it was too wide to fit through the fence and had to be lifted over, trying to get it to lie down in a space where it would exactly fit only when horizontal, that sort of thing. They had four or five friends over there helping them out, and it still took them an hour to move a hot tub twenty feet.
Then there was a minor hose mishap when they began to fill it.
All in all, it is very reassuring to hear other people making total asses of themselves on home improvement projects. (The neighbors on the other side have been building a retaining wall since December, which is also calming, but they're a fraternity and let's not even talk about whatever they do to their backyard so not even weeds will grow there.)
I try not to anthropomorphize, but sometimes it is hard to avoid.
Last night, around 10:30, I was puttering around getting ready to go to bed, thinking about doing some homework that I'd planned to do this morning, when there was a knock on the door.
It was Noel, the dogs, and a large bag of See's chocolates.
All evening I'd been calling him and would hear that he was in the car, and first he said he was running errands (OK, whatever), then he said he was going to go to In-n-Out for a burger, but as we talked it seemed to be taking a long time, even though there's one right over by the airport, not 20 minutes away, AND I could tell from the freeway noise that he was not in traffic. He insisted he was going to that one, but I suspected him of going to one further away having forgotten that that one had been put in. I figured he just wanted to get out of the house.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when he showed up at the door. I definitely was not expecting that. So nice to see him and the doggies.
They had to leave really early this morning to get back home to meet various engineers and inspectors for the final review on the foundation, but just a little while to see each other and have him re-light the pilot light on my stove that keeps going out and to listen to the dogs snoring again was very very sweet.
Happy Valentine's Day, sweetie. May I always have you to perform death-defying feats of wonderment for me.
Noel fixed my scanning problem (Image Capture only wants to work in one specific directory, forcing me to leave all my applications in a big jumbly pile instead of nicely sorted out by usage). So I've been scanning my weekly drawings. I've had a bit of a week this week so I didn't do two drawings (I'll do four for next week), but to make up for that I had a backlog of unscanned drawings.
A couple of weeks ago we did our last pencil drawings. I did two drawings of buildings on campus. This one is an office building beyond the stadium. It's an older building, in the fake-Mission style that is so popular in this area.
Here's the clock tower -- a somewhat pathetic little tower compared to the ones I'm used to back East, or even the campanile at Berkeley -- again in the fake Mission style. I used to like that style, but seeing it pasted all over everything regardless of scale or appropriateness has really cured me of that.
Then we switched to conte crayon. I hate conte crayon. It's terribly messy, it doesn't want to let me draw the way I like to draw (very tight, not very loose), and it smudges all over the place. Then, as it happened, we had this incredible foggy day, and on days like that the light is just like conte crayon drawings.
My conte crayon method is kind of more meticulous than you are supposed to be. I sketch the outlines lightly in pencil then trace and fill in with the conte crayon. That's because I always work out my sketches in pencil first. It helps me get the proportions right and not worry about making a huge evil mess with the crayon that cannot be erased.
Here's the central courtyard of the library, from the fifth (top) floor. If you knew this scene, you would know that there is a big mountain in the background usually. In the fog, it was completely invisible.
This is the grand staircase in the library. This view is basically 45 degrees to the right of the last drawing, but I think the view changes really dramatically when you look that way because of the staircase. It was really foggy at the bottom, but I did a very poor job of capturing that.
Four more conte crayon drawings, and then we're supposed to go to charcoal (which I also dislike, but not as much as I dislike conte crayon).
We all like piccies of the dogs on the beach.
Rosie found a tennis ball and she and I spent most of the time playing catch. Here she is waiting for me to kick it for her (she prefers a kicked ball to a thrown ball). Check out the surf behind her.
It was a really beautiful day: warm and sunny on the beach as opposed to the usual kind of foggy. The surf was high, and the tide was coming in, so there was a lot of running around and splashing in the water then suddenly being overtaken by a huge wave. Good fun for dogs.
The AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) club from Cal Poly went on a field trip on Saturday to Hearst Castle. It's a nice trip: if you like guided tours and a few tidbits of historical trivia, it's a nice way to spend an afternoon. A little pricey, of course, but just don't make the mistake of planning to eat at the visitor's center and you'll do OK.
I took a lot of pictures, but most of those were note-taking pictures rather than artistically arranged photographs. So I give you a brief selection from our tour (we took Tour 2, which is Hearst's private apartments, the two libraries, and the kitchen; I didn't choose the tour, but that was the tour I happened to be most interested in).
Here's the view from the second floor over the court where guests arrived. A nice view out over the hills to the ocean.
I was very impressed not only with the age of the plantings (which are, of course, from the time when the house was under construction and occupied), but by the way they have been carefully tended over the years. You really cannot get a structure like in this camellia overnight; it takes years and years of good pruning and care.
I was very interested in the kitchen, because of course Julia Morgan (the architect who designed the castle) is known for her horrible, non-functional kitchens. There are definitely problems with the design, including the undersized grease trap and a space layout that seems to give no thought to how kitchens function.
But I liked this tool rack, and the use of wall lighting for tasks gave me a good idea for lighting our own kitchen; these wall lights were over every surface where work would be performed, and some provided a more general light.
In the area of the kitchen with the sinks (you can see the undersized grease trap under the sink there), there was another tool rack, open shelving, and a very utilitarian stainless steel backsplash. It's interesting how this would be very stylish and modern in a kitchen these days.
A startlingly large mixer, considering the bowl capacity (that's a half-gallon pitcher there on the counter next to it).
I think it would be interesting to go back during the months when they do Tour 4 (gardens and Casa del Mar); Hearst Castle is definitely not my personal style, but seeing how Morgan approached historical pastiche is interesting. Also, the proportions of the rooms and the mix of spaces are very interesting.
On Friday I finished the Flower Petal shawl. Those points were fun, a nice dessert after the long hard slog through the last several rows.
Here's a terrible photo, with a medicine bottle for scale. I need to wash it (not in the least because it got all furry by being on the floor) and block it, but I will wait until the apartment is dogless to do that.
I started the points on the Flower Petal Shawl last night. It was a relief to finally start them because at the end the row length was 300 stitches. I don't usually knit things that are that wide, and my brain was not happy with the prospects.
The points go much faster than a row was, so I got four more done today, for a total of six so far (I may do one or two more tonight; I'd really like to be done with the shawl already). I only totally messed one up, and then I was able to salvage it.
I took some pictures tonight, but they look like hell, because the lighting in my apartment is terrible. I'll have to lay the shawl out tomorrow at school and try some pictures of it there, so the light will be better.
My favourite part is where the pattern emerges from the neck.
But right now I'm terribly fond of the points, because each one is a sign that I am almost done. Six down, six more to go!