School: September 2004 Archives


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Well, I think I was just as close to a 5.9 earthquake as I've ever been.

We were in the middle of class and when everybody gasped as the entire Architecture building shook violently, the teacher (who hadn't noticed it because he was pacing) thought we were reacting to his lecture.

This being California, and a computer class, we immediately went and checked USGS's web site and saw that there were just a bunch of big ones and medium ones out in Parkfield (which is on the other side of Paso Robles from us). God, we are such geeks.

Instant Karma


I got all smug about my workload with Charlotte yesterday, and then one of my homework problems for statics totally and completely stumped me and my study partner today. It was stunning. We spent two hours writing and re-writing the same equations and finding ourselves with equations that had no fewer than two unknowns in them no matter what. We finally resolved to try to track the teacher down tomorrow, but I was unable to let it go and have been fiddling with the problem since I got home.

We had our "pin-up" today in studio, where we put out all our recent work and went through a critique. I thought the teacher was remarkably fair and gentle about things, but some of my classmates got all upset about her suggestions for improvements. She critiqued my portfolio first, and had nothing bad to say about it, so maybe that set up some unrealistic expectations. Actually, I would have liked some feedback more than "this is good."

Sometimes I feel like I'm really "getting it" and then I go through a pin-up and I was just totally wrong, but today it was just about right. I felt like the feedback I got on my work was in keeping with the amount of "getting it" I felt. It was very pleasant.

It was very nice to work in a studio with all my tools and things right there at hand. I'm glad Noel helped me take them in this weekend. There are still some things I could use from home, but what I have with me is good.

Now I'm going to go back to work on that statics problem.

No School Work


One thing that people told me over and over about transferring to a professional program in architecture was that I would not have many free weekends. So far, that is not the case. Noel came down through FIVE HOURS of traffic Friday, and we had a nice, relaxed weekend together, and now I'm sitting down to do some physics work and some statics homework which will not take more than a few hours.

On Saturday we went out to breakfast, then drove out to the airport to see if there was a book about planes Noel wanted at the store there. While we were there we looked at prices for flight school for me (relatively reasonable) and talked to an instructor about what the process would be able how much of a time commitment she expects it to be.

The idea is that if Noel buys a cheap commuter plane, I should be able to fly it, too, to make traveling that way safer.

Then we unloaded some things Noel brought for me from his car, and loaded a bunch of art supplies I needed to bring to school into his car, and went by my studio to drop it all off (much nicer than trying to schlep it across campus during the week). The key to the studio also opens the building, which is super nice.

Then we went shopping for a rolling set of drawers, to see what options were available and so forth, so I can have one set of drawers that I move on campus every quarter, which will roll around from place to place instead of having to be dragged. But prices were high and features were low, so maybe a bit more thinking things out is in order. I may decide to build something, but bought drawers have the advantage of having good locksets on them.

In the evening, we went out to eat Tsurugi, which was wonderful. Good, fresh fish, not terribly artfully arranged or as perfect in appearance as at Ebisu, but fresh fresh fresh, which counts for a lot in sushi.

This morning, we drove out to Morro Bay and had breakfast at a dismal little diner called The Coffee Pot, which had uninspired food. Then we drove around a little before we had to get back to my house and get Noel off to the Bay Area, so he could mow the lawn before it got dark.

Next weekend I'll be home, and the weekend after that. I get to see the animals!

Glue is Marvelous

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So I said I would say more about this portfolio project, and now I am putting out, as it were. The assignment was to make a container, at least 11" x 11", to hold and display the work we do this quarter. This container should say something about us, personally.

I was thinking along the lines of a binder, then I thought maybe a box would be nice, but it all came together when I thought of something Noel said to me on Friday when I showed him the tool holder I had worked on instead of painting the Front Bedroom: "You like to make things, don't you?" And I do. Making things was why I wanted to study architecture; making software was not as satisfying, and there was always the peril of one's hard work being wiped out with no trace.

So I decided to make an elaborate multi-layer portfolio, and in the end I decided to make it from printed cotton because seeing printed cotton always makes me think of my mom, who also likes to make things.

I chose four fabrics to keep it simple (but I ended up buying many more because I could not make up my mind). One looks like a wooden floor (the house), another is gold with bees on it (because I like bees and they are a symbol of female power), then there's a dark raspberry that's just mottled (no special symbolism in that), and finally a wasabi green with sushi and chopsticks printed on it (which reminds me of eating sushi with Noel and my favourite story about him overeating and not being able to lie down, and how I was laughing so hard).

There's more to the fabrics, though. The ones visible when the portfolio is closed are drab and brown, though nice enough. They make it look very ordinary:


But then you open it up and the raspberry is visible and it is clear that there is more here than is immediately visible. I feel like that says a lot about me.


As you peel back the layers, the sushi is revealed.


Keep in mind that when this thing is done, it will have papers covering most of the sushi.


These pictures are a bit out of date. I finished assembling the main part of the thing, and now I have to to some embroidery on the corners and sew on the large tortoiseshell button and a ribbon to hold the thing closed. But I'm proud of myself for having finished the major work.

You may wonder how I managed to sew this whole thing so fast, or how I knew to bring my sewing machine. Well, I did not sew it. I used this tape that basically glues the fabric together, which you set with an iron (the first time I ever used the stuff was on my Space Bee costume). So the miracles of modern chemistry came to my rescue. It's neat stuff, but I would never use it for something that I wanted to last 10 years. It's one thing if my portfolio disintegrates in less than a decade; it would be much worse for a quilt to do so.

Since I overbought on the fabric front, I may use some of the other fabrics to make little folders for projects that fit inside the portfolio.

Cut and Paste


I had my first long studio today. Five hours, from one until six. For the first two hours we went to see a photography exhibit my professor has up on campus, which was very interesting. A technical/architectural way of looking at light in Italy.

Anyway, here's a picture my new home away from my home away from home:


And my desk space:


We worked on some very basic cutting and pasting composition exercises today. This teacher is very classical in her approach, which is interesting and sort of a relief after the High Design of my last few design studios. I was working decently fast, so I felt able to take my time and do a job that was one step up from what I usually do. My gluing came out really nice.

I had a revelation in physics today, as I was trying to understand why we were getting a whole hour of lecture (well, screaming) on the concept of pressure being force divided by area. It was related to the fact that my statics teacher had spent an hour explaining vector addition and then said he'd go into more detail next time. The revelation was: Hey! My classmates are one or two years out of high school! They actually don't know this stuff! This is NEWS to them!

So maybe physics will not be my hardest class.

Now I'm going to go make some dinner and settle in with some nice comfortable engineering textbooks.

One of the Herd


A longish post composed over a couple days, talking about school and the new house and animals and impossible art projects, as usual.

What's In Your Bag?

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I was browsing around, eating lunch and reading the news, when I came across this little gem. It seems that the average British woman is carrying A purse with a total value of over $1,000.

I thought that seemed a bit high, but then I considered the impact of a couple gadgets like a camera phone and a Palm, and I realized how quickly the total could grow. So I stopped for a moment to consider what I carry in the student version of a purse: my backpack.

Lesse, we have the laptop, which is about $2,500. Software: $2,000. iPod: $300. 40GB of songs on iPod: $sheesh. Graphing calculator: $100. Drawing tools: $100. Textbooks: $400. Phone: $300.

That's over $4,000, not including notebooks and pens and other assorted crap I might be carrying. I can't even say that it'd be an unusual day for me to be carrying all that, because that's pretty much what I've got to pack onto campus with me every day this year.

Well, at least now you know who to rob.

Niggling Little Details


I've run out of plaster, so finishing the Front Bedroom plastering has to wait until tomorrow, when the hardware store is open and I feel like it (no, I won't shop at Home Depot in order to save some money and time; we have a nice hardware store close to home that has helpful staff and where I'm never treated like a criminal, and I am willing to pay some in cash and convenience for that).

Instead I've been doing a bunch of little things to get ready for school: buying a docking station for the laptop, so I can drop it onto my desk when I get home and use my customary keyboard and mouse, buying a carrying case for the iPod so I don't ruin it, buying a new handlebar and some baskets for my bike so I can use it for commuting (I think also some fatter tires are in order, but that can wait until John gets back from heliskiing and can advise me), sorting through desk items, installing more software (Adobe Creative Suite today), deciding which pieces of furniture need buying (so far: bed, bookcase, some sheets for the bed).

I had a little spate of buying new music last week, so I should have plenty of interesting things to listen to while working.

I'm moderately ticked off that the room I rented in San Luis Obispo ended up being smaller than advertised (more like 10' x 12' than 14' x 14' as originally claimed) but since I don't plan to spend a huge amount of time in there, it doesn't matter all that much. I do wish there were not a bunch of somebody else's stuff stored in my closet, but that can be Dealt With Later. I'm accomodating because I have roommates who won't rely on me to get them alcohol, and because I don't have to buy anything for the kitchen or the rest of the house; the stuff's all there. Also the place is close to campus and decently close to downtown, which is a nice bonus.

Everything else is going swimmingly, though: I have my classes and schedule squared away, books are ordered for classes that require them, I've covered my drawing board with vinyl board cover, I've got the information I need about where to be when on Monday next week, I've got my parking permit and attached it to its approved hanger (purchased for 50c from the cashier yesterday), I have almost everything ready to load into a rented van and move down there next weekend.

From here it's all filling in the details. Some people tell you that's the hardest part, but really, the hardest part is getting the underlying structure there to detail.

Scheduling Glee


Usually, when I talk about my schedule, it is with angst and much suffering, but today, it is with great happiness.

That is because yesterday, the Architecture department sent me e-mail telling me they were opening some slots in a class I needed, and today I was able to register for it. So my schedule is over at 6pm on the latest days, instead of 9pm as it might have done. This is a good thing because it starts at 8am every day, and I simply cannot handle more schedules like last spring (7am to 9pm).

Also, I was able to pre-reserve my textbooks online with a discount for doing so, so they will be ready for me to pick up the weekend before classes start (big bonus, because crowded bookstores are no fun). And the laptop is pretty much ready to go, as soon as Noel gives me the disk so I can install the fake Windows shell on it (so I can install AutoCAD). Last night Noel suggested I buy a docking station for it, which doesn't seem like a bad idea at all.

With my schedule set and the computer in line, I just have to arrange for moving down to SLO (renting a minivan seems to be the way to go). I'm going down to SLO this weekend for Old Fogies orientation -- one day of stuff rather than a week of seminars on things like how not to drink yourself to death and how to budget for studying time. Noel's coming with me (yay!) and we'll bring my drafting table and the sewing table (which will be my regular desk) with us. Should be interesting to meet my new roommates, as the room has been arranged entirely by phone.

Rosie is going to spend the weekend at the doggie daycare place, probably playing until she nearly explodes. I was soft of hoping to bring her with us, but what with her anxiety in the car and the new living situation, I think it's best if she stays home this time.

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This page is a archive of entries in the School category from September 2004.

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