28 May 2008

I love design but I probably should have gone to law school

So for the past couple of days I've been drooling over the news that Apple filed a patent to infuse their products with thin film of solar cells. If this is true and if we start to see Solar MacBooks in the near future.....well, I will probably achieve complete zen. (Nevermind that I have a perfectly functional MacBook Pro with a pretty new screen.....oh by the way, Apple can't recycle their own products yet, did you know that?)

Image courtesy of www.inhabitat.com, obviously

And this news is all fine and good, but the reality is that items like this are rarely within my price range. Has an architect or another designer ever told you about how little we make? No? Then you probably don't know one, because let me just clarify: the amount of money that an architect makes is quite often woefully inadequate in comparison to how much schooling we have to go through to achieve licensure in our profession. To get a law degree, you need about 7 years of school and then you study for a few months, and you take the Bar Exam, and then you get to start charging people an eye-popping hourly rate. To get an MBA, you need about 6 years of school and then, oh I don't know, go to Wall Street and start making piles of money. To get an MD, you need what, 8 years of school? Isn't some of that residency? I don't know how doctors work or how much they make because I freak out about blood and can't really pay attention to them for long, but I still think it's more than architects. Who, by the way, need at least 5-6 years of school (7 at the rate we're going), 3 years of internships, and after July, we need to take 7 exams to become licensed. (It used to be 9 but they "scaled back").

Don't get me wrong: I love what I do. I like living simply and I love the economy of IKEA as much as the next person. But it is awfully frustrating to realize that my hours of toil and research and careful planning to keep that roof from falling on your head are worth only a fraction of what a lawyer's time processing some paperwork is - according to the market, anyway. How did it get to be this way? Granted, designing a building takes a heck of a lot longer than defending or prosecuting a case, in many instances, but are we, as architects, too reliable? Are our practices and techniques too open for mimicry? Should we all start screwing up some buildings so we'll be paid at least on par with what entry-level attorneys make? Is desperation the path to earning a living wage?

I don't know where all of this came from. I guess now that I'm out of school I have plenty of time to think about these things. :o)

23 May 2008

New Blog!

This idea has been stewing in my head for a long time and now that school is out, I decided to take the plunge. Yesterday I launched a new blog, called Living In Los Angeles Without A Car (LILAWAC for short), which is, uh, what I do currently. I would like for this blog to be a resource for anyone in the Los Angeles region who is interested in alternative forms of transportation, since the cost of owning and fueling a car certainly isn't going down anytime soon. I will be speaking from experience, obviously, but I am also looking for contributors to share posting duties, probably once a week or so. If you know anyone else who lives in Los Angeles who doesn't own a car, or is bike- or bus- or train-friendly (and savvy), please pass this on. Also if you are interested in contributing yourself, I would certainly appreciate your help, so let me know! Thanks :o)

22 May 2008

Nails on a Chalkboard

I got my computer back yesterday and just in time.....I should have made this post a long time ago.

In July of last year, I wrote a blog post about how I had just seen Barack Obama in Cincinnati, and how he had inspired me. In February of this year, I wrote another, very measured and careful blog post about why I was supporting Obama over Hillary Clinton.

In the 3 months since I wrote that last post, many things have happened in the Democratic primary process which have disgusted, disarmed, disappointed, and downright depressed me. Almost all of them have been perpetrated by Hillary Clinton and her campaign surrogates. I have sat by and watched, in disbelief, as Bill Clinton has insulted the African-Americans of this country; as Hillary has lied about avoiding sniper fire on a tarmac in Bosnia; and as the Clinton campaign has gone against its previous stance and urged for the inclusion of the Michigan and Florida primary delegates (despite the fact that Clinton advisor Harold Ickes voted for them to be excluded last year). These are stand-out events amid the daily sludge that her campaign has generated as she has gone from presumed candidate to a trite and sad version of the Senator that I thought we all knew. Gone are the days where we can be proud to say that we had a great woman running for president; we've entered a time where I can't listen to her or read anything she says without feeling embarrassed.

But what was really the last straw for me, and what led me to write this post, was recently finding out that Hillary compared the situation with the Michigan and Florida delegates to the recent fraudulent elections in Zimbabwe. ZIMBABWE. Which is to insinuate that the heinous dictator of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, who "refused to abide by the will of the people" as she put it, is in some way akin to Obama, who apparently is trying to keep the voters of Florida and Michigan down. Or something. Even if you don't draw that comparison from what she says, the situation is clear - Hillary Clinton is unhinged and will say or do anything it takes to take the nomination, and if that means stealing it, then so be it.

Nevermind that the polling numbers in Ohio and Florida, which show Hillary beating McCain but Obama losing to him, are being skewed by Hillary supporters who are so vindictive that they are claiming that they will vote for McCain if Hillary does not get the nomination. If, as Andrew Romano puts it eloquently in his article for Newsweek, you factor in even a small portion of those people who find their way back to voting for a Democrat in November, Obama will win both states. None of this seems to matter to the Clintons, who have shown how utterly unprincipled they are with their crusade to include the delegates from Michigan and Florida, after they voted to exclude them, and even when Obama's name was not on the ballot in Michigan.

And let's talk about Hillary's claim that the race has been infused with sexism (to her disadvantage) but not racism. Let's definitely talk about the fact that she's a woman, because if this is the way that our first viable female candidate for president is going to conduct herself, then I doubt we will have another viable female candidate any time soon. What of future elections....will people say, "oh she's a great candidate, but remember when Hillary went bat-shit crazy in 2008?" As a woman, I could not be more ashamed that she is representing us in this way, and I could not be more distraught that she is potentially damaging future female candidates' chances.

At this point the nomination is almost a done deal for Obama, but I fear for the weeks ahead, because we will finally see how low the Clintons are willing to stoop in their desperate attempt at power-grabbing. I used to think about Bill Clinton's presidency fondly but I can't even do that anymore without cringing - the Clinton legacy is now tarnished by their own petty and petulant actions when they simply were out-run - and it makes me really, really sad. Like Evan Handler writes in his blog, I would like to imagine a graceful exit by Senator Clinton where she uses her stature as a public figure to point out the historic nature of this year's campaign. I would like to imagine it, but instead, all I hear in my head are nails on a chalkboard.


Epilogue: Friday, May 23, 2008. In maddening desperation, Hillary Clinton says the following:
"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it."
.....which, for all intents and purposes, means that Obama could be assassinated at any moment, which could mean her path to the nomination. I think Bob Cesca makes a good case for her as the worst person in the world at this point.

PS. I love Keith Olbermann!

17 May 2008

Computer Limbo

So let me elaborate a little on the sad event that I mentioned in my last post, re: computer accident.  I was in the midst of my very last project, which was a doozy, and I was getting ready to go into school for a meeting I had to attend.  I was packing up my stuff when my computer slipped out of my "nice" computer bag, and took a small tumble to the floor.  This is not the first time this has happened, and I was especially not concerned this time because the computer had its new pretty pink plastic case on.  But when I opened it up to check on it, the screen was totally busted.  There was no apparent physical damage, but there was nothing on the screen, except for some really crazy looking pixels.

I don't know how to describe what I felt next.  I skipped that "sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach" feeling and went straight to the "indignant annoyance" phase, after which I quickly went into panic mode.  Basically as I sat there looking at my blank and obviously distressed computer screen, I said to myself, "are you kidding me? I mean, seriously?  NOW?"  Lucky for me (EXTREMELY lucky....I cannot stress how lucky this was), I have an external monitor and was able to boot up with it on and see that nothing had happened to my hard drive and that everything was still there.  And all of my work was backed up anyway, but still....I had a busted screen.

Long story short, after finishing my last major project on my external monitor and new USB keyboard, I had to take my "WonderMac" in for repair.  It's now in the shop and in good hands, but I'm a little lost without it.  I'm writing this from my (very continuously generous) roommate's computer, and as soon as I get my own back, I'm going to launch a NEW blog, which I'm very excited about.  So stay tuned and enjoy my limbo....I'm going to go watch some movies!

12 May 2008

A weight has been lifted....

I finished up school last week, in a mad flurry of presentations, paper writing, caffeine, and one very unfortunate computer accident (which is now being repaired).  It was difficult at best, and the reason that this is my first blog post in more than a week.  But it feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, and once I get the chance to decompress a bit more, I'll do a wrap up of all of my classes and the direction that these have given me with regards to future work.

Speaking of being a bit lighter on my feet.....I am currently in Chicago covering the GRAVITY FREE interdisciplinary design conference on behalf of Archinect, with whom I am closely affiliated, and the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, for whom I am a Student Advisory Board member.  I am blogging live from the conference on Archinect, which you can view here, and I'll be writing some things after I get back as well.   So check it out!  And I'll see you soon...