26 March 2009

Spring Break, meh

I know I've been quiet lately. I had Spring Break last week, which was actually rather boring and full of thesis paperwork. This week things picked up again, with the TEDx USC conference at USC on Monday, and then a breakfast that I had with CNN on Tuesday. I also just found out that I've been nominated by my peers to give a 5-minute speech at our graduation ceremony in May, which is very nice but a little nerve-wracking! I'm sure I'll figure out what to say.... I think it will probably include trying to be upbeat about our current financial situation and the gloomy job outlook that many architecture grads face this year. :o(

Still, it's hard not to think about the month I had last March, which started off with observing wildlife at a frat party, continued with a trip up the coast and a giant pillowfight, and ended with a glorious trip to Hawaii. Such are the realities of our economic situation...I'm hoarding what tiny amount of savings I've got so that I have a contingency plan after graduation if I can't find a job. Meaning, trips aren't in the cards for me right now (except for the girls' weekend in Seattle at the end of April that's been planned since last summer!)...

Next week the fun continues as I upload my final thesis draft and move into the final phases of planning a major event on campus with some of my cohorts. Plus some other surprises that I'll keep to myself for the time being...

Until then, please excuse my general lack of excitement, as I've got to stay focused right now. If anything really interesting happens, you'll be the first to know :o)

14 March 2009

500 people on bikes.

Ok, so it may have been 300 or 400, who really knows. But it's a helluva great way to spend a Friday night. Observe my hasty iPhone action shot:

Last night I went on my very first Friday night "Critical Mass"-type Midnight Ridazz ride. (I'm not entirely sure what qualifies a ride as Critical Mass but I guess the original rides had more shenanigans than the current night-time rides.) I've never been on one before and it was AWESOME. There were so many of us, all with our little lights blinking, and we basically took over a mile-long swath of road wherever we went. Some motorists were unhappy - especially when we did the unprecedented "double u-turn" in the span of one block - but for the most part, people were amused. The LAPD was awesome too; they didn't bother us at all and one officer even high-fived us as we went by! Lots of people took pictures and some residents came out on their balconies to watch us pass. Which, let me be clear, took a very long time. It was like watching a marathon; the leaders would go by, but then you had to be patient, because we just kept coming for the next 10 minutes or so. It was amazing.

And everyone in the group was cool too. Which was great since I didn't know anyone! (Seriously. I did meet a few nice people though.) We tended to run red lights a lot but frankly if each sub-group stopped at red lights then we would have blocked traffic even more, so there was always someone in the group to block the cars and make sure we passed safely. We also rode at a very-reasonable 10 mph average pace, and everyone was constantly calling out "rough road!" or "left turn!" There were guys with sound systems on their bikes, there were people on BMXs, people on beach cruisers, and people on road, hybrid, mountain and fixed-gear bikes as well. And then there was my favorite, the tall bikes:

This picture is obviously not from our ride, it's just an example, but every time one of the guys on the tall bikes went cruising past me on the road I started giggling uncontrollably. I don't know why I found it so funny, I guess it was just indicative of my joy in the event.

All in all, we rode almost 17 miles around Downtown LA and by USC and Exposition Park. Literally I cannot think of a better way to spend a Friday night, than cruising around with hundreds of other bikers, snarling a bit of traffic, listening to music, waving to pedestrians, and just enjoying the ride. I highly recommend it! :o)

12 March 2009

Viewing the world through Shamrock-colored glasses

Cross posted with my Archinect School Blog....

Sooooo.... I GAVE MY FINAL THESIS PRESENTATION YESTERDAY! Yes, that's right, final of the whole year! I still have to finish the document, which is due on April 1, but that's in good shape and I basically just have to make some revisions and finish the formatting.

(Note: I didn't get a chance to take pictures, unfortunately, as we were in a dark cave and frankly I was preoccupied anyway. Since I know you like pictures so much, I will therefore intersperse my post with some photos from St. Patrick's Day from years past to get you excited for the BEST DAY OF THE YEAR next week!)

St. Patrick's Day Parade 2008 in Downtown LA = kilts!!!

The presentation went well. I am pleased with the amount of work that I did and glad that I got some results in time for my presentation, and the response to my project was almost entirely positive. And, although I've given this presentation in some form three times already, I was actually nervous. I got dry mouth! That hasn't happened since undergrad. I think it's because this was the final final and I was all dressed up, and everyone was there and this was it, you know? No more. But I pushed through, and later my friends said they couldn't even tell. Awesome!

Random Irish Bunny with Hat

Also the general consensus is that this is such a good idea that I need to continue with it, and now I just need to figure out how. Of course, this might be easy if I can't find a job (sidebar: I need a job. I am available to work after May 15. I can do a lot of stuff, really. Please email me!) but that's not necessarily the scenario I am hoping for.

Watching the Young Dubliners on Pershing Square through Shamrock colored glasses

In addition to getting my presentation over with, I also started a new seminar with Leo Marmol from Marmol Radziner Architects/Prefab. And, as you might guess, the seminar is about prefab. Also, it is awesome. I am passionate about the idea of prefab to begin with but to be taught by one of the industry leaders, who himself is passionate about the subject, is a serious bonus. And we get to do a small design project of our own by sketching on paper in class. No computers! I think Leo must think I'm a lunatic because as I explained to him in class, in Building Science we do a lot more studying of buildings than designing of them, so I have a lot of "pent up design" in me and the ideas are flowing for this already.

Green bagel

On that note, St. Patrick's Day is on Tuesday, March 17, and I'm excited. What's that you say? Tuesday's a bad day to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Just remember, it's always a good day for a Guinness :o)

Does the green dye in Chicago's river remind anyone else of Guinness flowing into the glass? No?

04 March 2009

Words, beautiful words

I rediscovered Wordle this evening and I got a little carried away but you would be missing out if I didn't share. I heard about Wordle a few months ago and didn't think anything of it, but tonight, on a whim, I decided to go. How fun! Essentially what Wordle does is it takes a bunch of words from any RSS or blog stream and it makes them into a "word cloud" which bumps up the size of the word based on how often it appears. I input the WonderSphere first and it apparently only looks at one whole page of posts, because the words it recognized as "most used" are not typical words around here:

Then of course, after I was hooked, I decided to try it with my new blog at the GreenDesignCollective. With Wordle you can change the shape, font, colors, and orientation of the word cloud, and I loved it when this cloud came up with the word "homes" at the left side of the arrowhead point:

Clearly at this point I had to find something else to Wordle. I went back to my dormant blog over at LILAWAC to see the word cloud it would yield. Voila! I especially thought this one was cool since I used a font called "Expressway Free"...

Anyway, if you love fonts and wasting time as much as I do, I encourage you to take your favorite blog and Wordle it. (Liz, I'm looking at you :o)

01 March 2009

New Month, New Look!

Fresh off the heels of my long walk yesterday, I felt energized enough to come home and do a little remodeling on the Wondersphere. Those of you who see this only on your Google Reader or what not may want to visit the blog itself so you can see what I've done to the look of it. Frankly I was just getting tired of the old look, and I needed some CSS practice. So here we are. Feel free to tell me what you think of it in the comments, I know some of you would anyway :o)