30 April 2008


I would like to share with you a phenomenon that I have only recently become aware of. That is, the apparent disintegration of my handwriting as a result of using the computer so frequently. I discovered it when I was trying to write evaluations at the conclusion of one of my classes.....these are pieces of paper with a few questions that encourage us to evaluate our professors and give suggestions on how to improve the class. This meant that I had to write sentences, and as I struggled to write a couple of comments on the sheets of paper, I realized that I had lost the natural syncopation that I used to have when writing by hand. I was able to write something eventually but it was, as some might say, a "hot mess."

And as it turns out, I'm not alone....several of my classmates experienced the same phenomenon. In most of my classes, many of us typed our notes into the computer because frankly it was faster but when it came time to write down more than just our name, it was a challenge.

What a strange byproduct of the computer age! I spent a long time trying to develop a handwriting that was compatible with my profession (if you've ever seen an architect's handwriting you know what I'm talking about), so this is a little disconcerting. Should I go back to practicing my letters on lined paper? Maybe I should write out all of my blog posts by hand before typing them in?!? THAT would be an exercise in patience....

28 April 2008

Automatic flush toilets are a waste of water.

Oh come on. You know what I'm talking about. Raise your hand if you've been in some airport or city building and you tried to use the toilet and the darned thing started flushing at a really inopportune time.

Of course the device that isn't a waste of water is the automatic sensor on the faucets that turns them on when your hands are in front of them and off when you're gone. So naturally you can imagine my frustration when I go into restrooms that have automatic flush toilets and traditional manual faucets. Um, no....it should be reversed! Everyone who's ever specified a toilet or faucet in a public building, please take note!

26 April 2008

Bobbleheads: valuable collector's item or contributor to the waste stream?

I went to my first Dodgers game last night since moving to Los Angeles (happy birthday Ian!), and lo and behold, it was Joe Torre Bobblehead night. I have been at least a mildly-engaged baseball fan since I was a young girl - growing up in Cincinnati will do that to you - so I have attended my fair share of baseball games in my life. Many of these were "Bobblehead" nights, and as a result, I started a small Bobblehead collection of my own. But as I arrived home from the game last night, I looked at my new Joe Torre Bobblehead (as seen below) and I said, "Joe, what do I do with you?"

OK, not really, because I don't talk to Bobbleheads, especially not ones who used to manage the Yankees (gag), but it's a relevant question. I have maybe 10 or 12 of these things sitting in my closet, and what do I do with them? I don't have them on display, as my roommate would probably kill me; our apartment decor is somewhere along the lines of "IKEA-shabby-chic", and sports memorabilia doesn't really fit into this picture. Should I sell them?* Give them away to friends on holidays? Throw a tea party, perhaps? (It would be a really funny tea party since most of my Bobblehead characters aren't even with their depicted teams anymore.) The reality is that I am at the point where I'm starting to think I have too much "stuff" and owning these Bobbleheads isn't really making me feel any better. But how do you recycle a Bobblehead? I think most of them are wood so that's not easy.....

Anyway, I like taking polls so I'm starting another one on the right: What should I do with my Bobblehead collection? Please vote!

*These questions do not apply to my UC Bearcat or Pete Rose Bobbleheads, which I will never give away. Also, this post is dedicated to the memory of my Ken Griffey Jr. Bobblehead, which perished in an unfortunate dusting accident several years ago.

image courtesy of some guy on Craigslist who is already trying to sell Joe

20 April 2008

The Art of Being Tardy

I'm procrastinating on a paper that I'm supposed to be writing, and so I feel that it is an appropriate time to tell you about a phenomenon that I have dubbed "Los Angeles Time".

To put it simply, I think that Los Angelenos have elevated being late to an art. Not only are people late here....people are extraordinarily late. Flagrantly late. Blatantly late. "5 minutes before the end of a 2-hour class" late. I've never seen anything like it. It's amazing, and it can almost always be blamed on the traffic. In fact, if I had a car, I think I could get away with a heck of a lot, and blame it on the traffic. But I digress....

Back to the tardy people. Perhaps the late thing offended me at first because I grew up in the Midwest and worked on the East Coast, where people really value promptness and an industrious approach to work. Which is not to say that people on the West Coast don't work hard.....it's just that their hard work will probably show up a little (or a lot) later than expected.

And it probably has something to do with the time zones too. A lot of people have asked me, "is it hard being 3 hours behind everything?" Well, no, not at all. Mainly because everyone here thinks "everything" is here. I suppose if you've grown up knowing that you start your day after about 95% of the world's population, you get used to not caring when things get done. "Well I'm going to be later than everyone else anyway, so who cares?" I'm just speculating.

So, in conclusion, I've got to get back to writing this paper so I can hand it in on time....but if I didn't, would anyone care? Probably not. But I'm too industrious to test that theory!

16 April 2008

To go or not to go, that is the question.

When I started this blog not quite a year ago, it was with the hope that I could bring a new perspective to friends, family, and even passers-by from the information superhighway that is the internet. Now I'm wondering if you could help me out a bit, because I'm stumped.

I have an opportunity, through my school, to go to Beijing, China for a month, from the first week in June to the first week in July. For the better part of this year, I have been enthusiastic about going, but upon closer inspection, I am now not so sure that it is the best idea for me. Below I am listing some pros and cons of the trip....have a look at my list, and then, using the poll on the right, please vote. (Yes, that's right, I'm asking you to vote on my life. I like to ask other people's opinions, OK?)

Pros of going to Beijing for a month:
  • Trip is organized; I would be going with a group
  • I have a set place to stay for the whole month
  • There will be field trips in and around Beijing, which include the Great Wall
  • We will be taking a 4-credit hour course, which means a lighter load for my final year in grad school
  • The coursework is interesting and we'd be interacting with students from Columbia and a Chinese university
  • The 2 other classmates going really want me to go
  • I've never been to Asia, and this is a great way to start
Cons of going to Beijing for a month:
  • This trip isn't sponsored, i.e., the majority of the financial burden (including plane ticket, room and board, food, and half tuition for the course) would be placed upon me, and I am already in debt
  • Would not provide the opportunity to visit Shanghai, Hong Kong, or other places, and traveling to these other places is more appealing to me than staying in Beijing
  • If I didn't go, I would have the extra month to earn money and begin work on my thesis early
  • I don't need the credits....I was already planning on taking the extra 4 credits in another course next year anyway
  • The majority of the planning for the trip is my responsibility, and I don't have the time or the interest in planning for it
  • Beijing isn't going anywhere; I could plan a trip with friends for another time and see the things I really want to see without spending money on a course
  • I am exhausted and need a break from school
  • My cat might forget who I am....

Poll closes at 3 pm on Friday.

15 April 2008

The Big One

Get ready California! Suddenly everyone is talking about yesterday's announcement that the state has a 99.7 percent chance of experiencing a magnitude 6.7 quake or larger in the next 30 years. "It basically guarantees it's going to happen," said Ned Field, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena. The announcement was made at USC at the same time as a press conference in San Francisco, and if you keep reading the article, you'll notice that - surprise! - we have a 50% chance of being struck by a magnitude 7.5 quake, which would be nearly 30 times stronger than the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Better find something to hold onto!

Despite the fact that this information is probably scaring my friends and family quite a bit, I find the whole thing fascinating. I've always enjoyed the earth sciences, and I still vividly remember learning about plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquakes in grade school. Did everyone else enjoy making that papier mache volcano in 4th grade as much as I did? I can't recall the name of some of my teachers but I sure remember how much fun it was to pour the vinegar on top of that baking soda.

By all means, please, if you have suggestions about what we should do in our 4th floor apartment* to prepare for "The Big One" that is coming ANY DAY NOW (in the next 30 years), let me know via email or just post them here. In the mean time, I will be playing with the Emergency Survival Kits that we just got at work....these things have freeze-dried food rations! And expandable heat blankets! In the event of an earthquake, all I need to do is grab this, throw the wonderMac and my cat in my Timbuk2, and I'll be ready to go....

My camera phone isn't great but it gets the job done....here is the awesome Emergency Kit

*Also, if anyone has any suggestions for a name for our 4th floor apartment, let me know as well. We are having a hard time finding one.

12 April 2008

Musings on Urban Living in Los Angeles, Pt. 4

1. Seeing that Mexicans turned the hilarious road sign that depicts an immigrant family running across a highway into a bumper sticker = awesome.

2. Watching movies - more than one even - on the side of a high rise apartment building on a random Thursday night = awesome.

3. Finding out that not only do people in Chinatown care about politics, but they are supporting my candidate = awesome.

4. The view from Disney Hall of downtown LA = awesome.

5. Disney Hall = awesome. (Say what you want about Frank Gehry, but there's something really spectacular about consistent design excellence in a single building, so thoroughly applied that even the coffee bar looks like a million bucks)

6. The lack of bus stops in this city = not awesome. On sunny warm days like today, it's unfortunate to see scenes like this, where everyone needs to take shelter from the sun under a building's canopy because the bus stop is simply a sign on a post. Surely we can do better than this?

09 April 2008

I've been a bad blogger

Wow I've been quiet lately, haven't I? The truth is that this blog is a one-woman operation - as are many blogs - and when I get busy, it gets put on the back burner. The good news is that I have some things cooking (I'm running with this "stove" analogy) that I am really excited about, and when I get more information about everything, I will certainly share it with you.

In the meantime, here's an update on my coursework, complete with pictures, for those of you who are easily distracted.

Urban Landscape Case Studies: Incidentally, that class ended mid-semester and now I'm in a second-half-of-the-semester course focusing on Criticality & Practice taught by Scott Johnson. I really like this class. For my Master's degree, I was intent on getting an education in whole building design, but I forgot how much fun it is to just talk about and look at architecture, which is basically what we're doing in this class. We need more talking though. Actually I think we need more arguing. Even more fun!

History of American Architecture and Urbanism: We've just gotten to the point in the history of American Architecture where we start to talk about skyscrapers. This is the good stuff! One of the buildings we covered is the Reliance Building in Chicago by Daniel Burnham....this guy was way ahead of his time. This is a skyscraper that was built in 1895, with an open floor plan and a facade consisting mostly of large windows....and it's still in use! It was converted to a hotel about 20 years ago. Think about the last hotel you stayed at and if it will be around in another 100 years. I'm thinking that Hampton Inn down the street isn't really built for longevity.

Daniel Burnham's Reliance Building.....image courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Advanced Topics in Environmental Controls: We had midterms in this class last week. I studied the energy consumption of Ray Kappe's Z6 House in Santa Monica by simulating it in six different energy modeling programs, and most of the results were consistent with the notion that it is a very efficient house. Which is good since it's LEED Platinum.

A picture of the Z6 House that I took while stalking it in Santa Monica recently

Architectural Photography: In the time since I discussed this class last, I took some great pictures of the CalTrans building, gave a slide show on it, and then learned how to use a giant 4x5 camera that is better for photographing architecture. And make no mistake....this camera is expensive, complicated, and intimidating. I am working with a group now for the final project and we're taking pictures of a lovely modern Presbyterian Church in Pasadena that was built in 1975. Below I've included one of my favorite pictures from the CalTrans presentation, and a point-and-shoot photo from the church (our fancy-pants photos are still being processed).

CalTrans at dusk

Pasadena Presbyterian Church, built in 1975

04 April 2008

Google owns me

I decided that I deserved a few days' break from blogging, after the month that I just had, thus the hiatus. In that time I thought to myself, "hmmmm, self, what will I write about next? There's so much to say....." And I have finally decided to write about something that you probably already know about, which is how awesome Google is and how it basically runs my life. Case in point, this blog is hosted by Blogger.com, which is owned by Google; my primary email address, and thus my primary form of communication with people, is Gmail, which is run by Google; my main calendar (ahem, actually 3 of them) are through my Gmail account, and this sends me alerts every time I'm supposed to do something (which is about 10 times a day); my RSS feed is through Google Reader; and Google does my dishes too! Just kidding but I think they are headed in that direction. The Google Dishwasher 1000!

To top it all off, Google is funny, environmentally sensitive, and desirable. Google is your best friend, your boyfriend and you. Not only you, but who you wish you were. And not only your boyfriend, but the quarterback and the valedictorian, rolled up into one tall, dark, and handsome package. Google is going to make me a mixtape as soon as I get done with this post. And then Google will probably buy Muxtape, if it doesn't own it already.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this except to say that I am both enamoured with and frightened of Google, all at the same time. I will now leave you with some images that Google gave me when I searched for "wonder sphere." Ciao for now.

image courtesy of gallery.wolfram.com....pretty fancy, eh

image courtesy of theshoegoddess.net....I guess that heel is pretty wonder-ful

image courtesy of www.damninteresting.com....and I'd agree, it's pretty damn interesting