29 September 2007

Uniquely Cincinnati

Seen today on WLWT.com:

City To Bengals: Exhaust Options Before Shooting Pigeons
CINCINNATI -- Paul Brown Stadium officials want permission to shoot down pigeons that are pooping on Bengals fans' heads -- and in their food and beer -- during games.

An animal rights group asked Cincinnati to say no, and the city asked team officials Friday evening to consider other options.

Eric Brown, managing director of the stadium, had sent a letter asking the city to allow stadium employees to kill the birds with an air-powered pellet rifle. No shooting would take place on game days, Brown said.
And the story continues......

My favorite part of the article is a poll about what to do with the pigeons, where one of the answers is "Trap them, send them to Pittsburgh". Ah, the Midwest. I miss it so :o)

PS. Pigeon poop, while funny, is actually not to be messed with. There are over 32 different ways to die from guano. My purse actually got hit with some today, barely missing my head. Best go clean that again, I think.....

28 September 2007

F'in Dash

There are several different bus lines that I take to and from USC in any given week. The easiest, and the cheapest, is the DASH bus service, which runs 6:30 am to 6:30 pm M-F and 10-5 on weekends. The DASH is only $.25, and while this is great, I wonder if this is another example of "you get what you pay for". I think this sign, which I found taped to the official bus sign today, says it all...

26 September 2007

My idea of a good time: going to a lecture about architecture.

One of the challenges an architecture school faces each year is securing enough dazzling personalities to formulate an interesting lecture series. This fall, I think my school did quite well! A couple have already passed, but I'm really looking forward to the rest....

Founding Partner, Olin Partnership, Philadelphia
The City is a Landscape Too
Wednesday, September 5, 6:00 pm

Dean, USC School of Architecture
Principal, MADAspam, Shanghai, PRC
Spectacle Spaces
Wednesday, September 12, 6:00 pm


Principal, Lettuce Office, Los Angeles
Assistant Professor, USC School of Architecture
Design Convergence
Wednesday, October 3, 6:00 pm


Architecture & Globalism
Friday, October 12, 1:00 pm

Jon Adams Jerde, FAIA Visiting Design Professor in Architecture
Dominique Perrault Architecture, Paris, France
Recent Work
Wednesday, October 31, 6:00 pm


Director of Global Foresight & Innovation, Arup, London, UK
[Y]Our Future
Wednesday, November 7, 6:00 pm


Founder/Principal, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, Los Angeles
Operational Strategies
Wednesday, November 14, 6:00 pm


Partners, WORKac, New York
Recent Work
Wednesday, November 28, 6 pm

All events are at the Gin D. Wong, FAIA Conference Center on the USC campus.

Chris Luebkeman should be especially cool....he works for the internationally renowned engineering firm Ove Arup, and his title is Director of Global Foresight & Innovation. I want to grow up and have a fantastic job title like that! But first I must graduate from grad school......

25 September 2007

Sustainable Design Not Within Reach

At first glance, when I saw this electric bike, called Pi, in today's LA Times, I thought, "that's a pretty cool looking electric bike". Then I kept reading....and as it turns out, it's not being sold in bike or scooter shops. It's being sold at Design Within Reach, the "nationwide 65-store chain that offers super-stylish furniture and accessories at supposedly affordable prices" Or, as I like to call it, Design Not Within Reach, because those supposedly affordable prices are often well into the thousands of dollars. (Their clearance sales typically offer items at 75% off, but when they are $3000 to begin with, the sale prices are even too steep!)

Anyway, Pi's got a very not-within-reach price tag of about $7500, which means I won't be giving up my standard pedal bike anytime soon. I have to say, it's a bit frustrating though. I wonder if there will ever be a time when good design, sustainability, and affordability can coexist. It's starting to happen, and there are certainly more affordable electric bikes out there - but let's face it, most scooters even cost less than this. Which is why I'm still looking at scooters!

Here's to hoping that fun stuff like this Pi will some day make sense for the masses.

The Pi

Pi with rider

Pi with $1800 solar-power add on. I like solar power as much as the next person, but come on - this looks silly. And I hope they only use it when parked.

23 September 2007

Architectural Nerd-dom

I'm taking a quick break from homework to post pictures from my weekend. One of my best friends from college came to visit and we "nerded out" on buildings for a full day. Here are some highlights:

Disney Concert Hall, upstairs gardens

human scale! crazy cool wall!

nice plaza

we couldn't decide if this beam actually does anything

21 September 2007

PARK[ing] Day LA

In the spirit of positive, non-violent, and intellectual protest, I present to you some images from USC's contribution to PARK[ing] Day LA. PARK[ing] Day was conceived by REBAR, a San Francisco-based art collective, to
"rethink the way streets are used, call attention to the need for urban parks, and improve the quality of urban human habitat....at least until the meter runs out!"

The first PARK[ing] Day took place in 2005, when some folks from REBAR commandeered a parking spot, laid down some sod and fed the meter all day. In 2006, the group took over Mayor Gavin Newsome's parking spot; by this year, the idea had spread to parking spots all across the country, including major American cities like NYC, Washington DC and Los Angeles, and internationally in such places as London, Berlin, and Barcelona.

Today I volunteered at the two parking spots that the USC School of Architecture set up on campus. Incidentally, USC was the only organization in the city of Los Angeles to have two spots! We had lots of funny looks from passers-by, but everyone had good things to say about the goal. Most people liked the kiddie pool, as well. :o)

spot #1...it's huge!

our sign, which looks oddly 3-dimensional

spot #2....between 2 FlexCars

the team!

19 September 2007

Purpose and repurposing

For my Materials and Methods class, we have two "cube" design projects and one large case study project to do over the course of the semester. The first cube was due this past Monday night, and I chose wood as the single material with which I would work. I decided that I wanted to explore the different varieties of wood that are available to a typical consumer, so I used OSB (oriented strand board), regular plywood, fiberboard, birch-laminated plywood, and FSC*-certified laminated wood planks (*Forest Stewardship Council certified wood). This is also the order in which I used them; my design was an "allusion" to a full 6-sided cube, and I wanted the cube to "evolve" from what I perceived to be the roughest material to what I perceived to be the highest-quality finish material. My design was also very improvisational, and the result was a vertical 3-dimensional contour of woods in different shades and textures.

So I finished the cube and we had our reviews for the whole class, and it was an interesting and active dialogue about working with a range of materials with varying techniques. And then, on a totally different note, I heard yesterday in class that we were supposed to have our desks marked with our name by now, and that we should also have some sort of mailbox on our desk. Clearly my 30-pound 18" wood cube isn't going home on the back of my bike anytime soon, so I thought it would make a fine mailbox. I mean, right?

17 September 2007

A few of my favorite things.....

I love taking pictures. I take them constantly.....to remember an event, to document something wacky, to capture the light, to admire a building. Sometimes it's nice to just lose myself in my pictures for a while.




Hoover Dam

this picture of my cat never gets old

16 September 2007

Musings on Urban Living in Los Angeles, Pt. 2

1. So THAT'S how they get signs on top of buildings....with helicopters. Or at least that's how they do it in Los Angeles. A little scary to see on a Saturday morning!

2. Many cities have races. Many of these races have bands that play along the race route to entertain the runners as they plow ahead. Very few cities, I suspect, can have a race that draws such musical acts as Naughty by Nature or MC Hammer. But LA did, this past weekend, with the Nike RunHit Remix 5-mile race. Here, the Sugarhill Gang plays Rapper's Delight for a bunch of people who really don't care about finishing on time...

3. Today I tried my very first FlexCar. It was simple, and so much fun! I borrowed a Scion xA, one of the sub-compact cars that you often see on the road. I had several people ask me about it, so I got to be a spokesperson as well. I am so easily amused, I think people could tell that I was enjoying myself. Next weekend, shall I try a Hybrid?

4. If I have not already talked about it, I would like to briefly mention how nice everyone out here seems to be. I speak with complete strangers on a daily basis (I'm not even talking about crazy people), and we often exchange introductions. Perhaps it's because I'm downtown and we are the "urban pioneers" of the region, so we need to stick together. Who knows, but it's fun.

5. The Budweiser Clydesdales have been marching up and down my street for the past two days. No, really. They were shooting a commercial. I tried to take a picture but thought I would get yelled at, so I didn't. Those horses, they are pretty good actors though....

14 September 2007

The Future is Here. Actually it's down the street.

I went to an event called Wired NextFest this evening at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone who hasn't been yet, as it runs through Sunday, but it was really cool. I made a beeline for the Future of Green, Design, Transportation, and Communication areas, and I saw some amazing stuff. A few highlights:

This picture is not photoshopped. It is magnetic fluid, dancing in a spiral...

Yes! It's a solar powered car!

As soon as I saw this, all I could think about was *that* episode of South Park....

Totally unreal....a screen that changes images - from day to dusk to night and back - when you touch it. Astounding...

12 September 2007

Help me, Tim Gunn!

This past weekend, I wore one of my favorite Threadless shirts out in public....this is the one that I got when I was living in the "scary" area of downtown Cincinnati:

image courtesy of Threadless.com

Anyway, I was told by a couple of friends that this shirt may not be great to wear when out and about in LA because "it might offend some people". Oh jeez. So apparently some Los Angelinos suffer from a lack of a sense of humor.

However, this is only indicative of a larger problem....my wardrobe is inadequate for my recent shift in climate and lifestyle. I am doing the best I can with the clothes I currently have, but let's face it....I have a serious case of wardrobe malaise. When am I going to wear a blouse again in the forseeable future? Certainly not to class and DEFINITELY not when I'm riding my bike to get someplace.

So here's the breakdown. My current wardrobe:
-is heavy on work coordinates
-consists of thicker material (i.e., heavyweight denim)
-has t-shirts that are unwearable (either inappropriate or unflattering). Also some of my t-shirts are being kept for sentimental reasons and I cannot (yet) bear to part with them.
-has pants that are either unflattering or too big (I've lost weight!)
-has a great shoe collection but most of them are impractical....for example, heels, boots, and wedges are great, but bad for walking or riding my bike.

My desired wardrobe:
-has t-shirts and casual tops suitable for class or work, but comfortable enough for riding
-has casual but structured pants made of cotton and other lightweight materials
-uses layers
-keeps the diversity of my shoe collection but adds more comfortable and walkable footwear, like cute sneakers and walking sandals.

If anyone has any shopping suggestions, either online or in-store, I would greatly appreciate it. I have not the funds to purchase a whole new wardrobe but a few key pieces would help me out a lot! In the meantime, I ordered a few "non-offensive" t-shirts from Threadless to keep me afloat, including this one, which is awesome:

10 September 2007

The Empty "Salad Bowl"

I would like to take a moment to complain. California is frequently referred to as the nation's "salad bowl" for its position as the largest agricultural state in the country. However, I have had bad luck with obtaining food in this city so far. Especially on campus here at USC. I will say that USC's on-campus food options are plenty, and enticing, which makes sense since attending school here is a little like going to a resort with lots of work. Great campus, great food. Right? Well, if they had it! I have lost track of the number of times I have tried to get something to eat and I have been told the place was out of exactly what I wanted. Sometimes, as with fish, I understand if the place runs out of it. It happens. But sometimes, it's just sheer laziness. And the problem is not limited to campus. The other day I went into a coffee shop downtown and ordered a simple breakfast croissant with nutella and bananas. I was told they were out of bananas. With some coaxing, I got them to use mango instead. So, I walked around in the place while I waited for them to make it, and there, hanging from a little stand was....a bunch of bananas. I thought, 'Really? You mean to tell me you are so disenfranchised/careless as a worker that you can't even trouble yourself to cut up a new banana?' I mean, did he not see it? Because it was right in front of his face as he prepared my now mango-and-nutella croissant.

Oh well. Mango costs more than banana anyway. But I am still craving the fish tacos that I didn't get 2 weeks ago! Humph.

PS. To LA's credit, the Domino's Pizza delivery people will deliver nearly anywhere, at any time, and with very little info. They are resourceful! Good to keep in mind next time a place "runs out" of sesame chicken, or salmon, or cheese....

09 September 2007

Panic sets in

I realized today that I hadn't posted on the blog in a while....I almost forgot to post even now, because I have been ridiculously busy the past several days. Between the new job, school projects, and meeting what seems like hundreds of new people (mostly other architects), I am swamped. But I am home for the evening and I am procrastinating on more homework, so it is as good a time as any.

I am starting to panic a little. Not a lot, but there is SO much to be done, in the next 7 days alone, that I'm not sure when I'll find time for it all. I took a break yesterday and spent most of the day at the beach to bid farewell to another friend who is leaving for grad school. It was a completely new experience....the ocean air was refreshing and it's amazing how much time you can waste just soaking in the sun, and then later, trying not to let the fire go out.

Also, I am getting pretty good at riding the bus. However, my preferred method of transportation is still my bike....this seems to be the case for many others at my school as well. It makes me proud to see so many students using bikes (hopefully instead of cars altogether) but I must admit, it's a bit of a pain when I go to lock it up, as you can see....but, since I spent only $4 on all of my transportation this week, I think the locking situation is a small price to pay!

05 September 2007

Final piece of the puzzle....

I got a job today. I got it through the Federal work-study program, which means that the government provides the funds to pay me, and I work for the money at a participating organization. Well, USC is certainly participating since there were loads of work-study jobs on campus, and I was fortunate enough to land one of them. It will be primarily clerical and office work, but it's in a new office with lots of great people, so it should mesh well with my studies.

So, now my schedule is set! Between work and class time, I will be a very busy building scientist this semester. Good thing I have help.....

my cat brushing up on statically indeterminate forces

04 September 2007

My Happy Place

Today I discovered a glorious place on campus, the bookstore. At first glance, it seemed like a miniature Borders on the first floor and a team shop on the second, but then I found the third floor. The third floor of the USC bookstore is awesome. It's like a college bookstore and a Walgreen's combined, and on crack. I got the books that I needed and then simply wandered around, ogling books that I didn't need but wanted, office supplies, electronics, art supplies, even videotapes. There is actually an entire shelf devoted entirely to antiquated filming technology, including stacks of blank VHS tapes, presumably for the film school kids. It was a smorgasboard of learning supplies, and my eyes were feasting.

On the way back down, I stopped in the "school spirit" section to see if there was anything acceptable. I am certainly not the best dressed person on campus but I at least try to match when I walk out the door in the morning. Well, I gotta say....there's just not a whole lot you can do with burgundy and gold - er, sorry, "Cardinal" and gold:

Even the hat section was uninspired, which was a real downer since I love hats. Still, I have school spirit, so I will try to make it work.

As soon I get past the ugly font in our logo.

03 September 2007

Why America is doomed

I came home this afternoon to discover my roommate watching a show on VH1 entitled "Rock of Love". This show is another of the "train-wreck-watching" reality genre where people are pitted against each other, challenges ensue, and at the end of each show, someone goes home. In this case, the participants are pierced, tattoed, bleached, and often body-modified women who are living in a house together and trying to win the attentions of Bret Michaels. Bret Michaels, the former lead singer of Poison, the band best known for the sensitive '80s anthem, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn". Yes, THAT Bret Michaels.

I admittedly got sucked into watching this show for a distressing amount of time, and I have to say, the more I saw, the more I was amazed. It was really mortifying. A couple of the girls seem like they could be really cool people, but a couple of them were downright crazy. And the crazy ones always end up sticking around because guess what....it's television. And with producers making decisions about real people's lives based on the notion that the crazy ones will keep people watching, ergo, they will yield more ratings....well, if you'll permit me to take a broader perspective here, it just occurred to me that 'no wonder we have global warming and poverty and a broken health care system in the United States'.

Perhaps people would care about New Orleans more if we had a reality TV show about some of the residents struggling to rebuild their lives down there. To make the producers happy, they could throw in random clips of Bret Michaels overusing the word "sexy"....you know, for ratings and such.

(What's even scarier is realizing that I now live in the same city as the people who come up with these shows.....)

02 September 2007

Hot Hot HOT

The expected high today in Los Angeles hovered around 100 degrees in many parts of the city, which prompted me to say "forget it"....I had Advanced Structures homework to do, so I should stay inside anyway. I had thought about taking a walk but the notion of sucking in super-heated polluted air didn't thrill my already irritated sinuses.

A quick note about my area of study....my major is "Building Science", which are two words that people don't often use together. Many in the architecture field assume that when you go back to get your Master's degree in architecture, you will be studying theory and precedents, and have associated design studios. Well, my classmates and instructors in the Building Science department are all certainly interested in designing good buildings, and while we appreciate the theory and concepts behind these buildings, we are actually interested in learning how they work. And in my case, learning how to make them work....better. We are a little bit like that 3M commercial...."We don't make your buildings work, we make them work better". Or something like that.

Anyway, this afternoon I set about doing my assignment, which involved picking a building and diagramming its structural elements with illustration. For this task, I needed to use AutoCAD, a Windows application, and Illustrator, a program I have on my Mac. I opened Windows through my Parallels virtual desktop and put it on my second LCD screen, and with my Mac desktop on the original screen, it resulted in this scenario, which I like to call "sweet computer harmony":

This got me so excited that I needed to take a break and surf the internet. (I probably would have done this anyway, excited or not.) I decided to investigate Apple's upcoming release of OS X - Leopard, and let me just say, this operating system looks HOT. I mean, have a look at the link yourself. Is it not amazing? I think it will be to Mac users what Windows Vista was to PC users, except Leopard will work. Kidding! Sort of.

Anyway, I suppose blogging counts as procrastination as well, so I should get back to it then. Stay cool!