Wednesday, October 19, 2016

[autumn] attire

it's a fact.

i look better in fall clothing.

i love shorts...i enjoy wearing them...i enjoy being comfortable in them when it's hot.

i don't however enjoy being seen in them. (i have weird legs)

that all changes in the fall however.  put me in some jeans, boots, a nice button up, and a light jacket, and you give me a chance to hide my "fat" a little better.  also, there's a good chance the temperature is cool enough that i wont be sweating like i just thought about jogging a quarter mile.

if i have to meet someone, for the first time, i'd prefer it be in the autumn months.  the way i look and dress in the fall is a way better first impression then i could make in shorts and flip flops.  you never want to have someones first impression of you to be,

"whoa, those are some weird legs"

This is why, no matter what the temperature is, as well as general professionalism, i've always worn jeans or slacks to a job interview. i'd much rather the interviewer see me sweat and curious if i had just run a marathon before our meeting, then burn into their brain a vision of my weird legs.

i feel like inland maine and i are very similar.  since moving here, the majority of my exploring has been on the coast.  i haven't traveled "into" maine much.  last sunday is decided to change that with a quick trip around sebago lake.  the trees were at peak foliage and the reflections off the lake were amazing.  i drove completely around the lake and spent two hours in awe.  i'm not sure i would have had the same feeling if i would have seen sebago lake for the first time this summer.

i might have noticed weird "coves" or something.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

the [cape] escape

being new to the area, there are many three hour road trips i could take and not have a clue what i would find.  last weekend my fiancee and i took one of those three hour trips to visit cape code.  we were attending a wedding of a friend but took time on either side of that event to explore the cape.  i could go on and on about how i'm still blown away with the amount of history there is here on the east coast and how looking out at the sea is still an incredible experience for me, but by now you all get it. so for this post i'll just hope the pictures speak for themselves.

side note, this was a trip were i purposely brought my dslr camera which has been absent in my life the past few years.  i absolutely love the instant social gratification the iphone gives you, but in a world filled with camera pics, the warmth and feeling of a better camera is priceless.

i'm curious if anyone else can tell the difference.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

[home] away from [home] away from [home]

there have been places in this world i've traveled to for the first time and for some unknown reason they felt like home.

ouray, colorado
manhattan, kansas
san diego, california
portland, oregan
austin, texas

and now...

boothbay, maine

it's a hard feeling to describe, how someplace can just *feel* like home, but as i look over the cities on my list, i know it has something to do with expectations, first impressions and instant memories.

as a kid growing up in kansas, colorado is a magical place. drive just eight hours and you're in a whole new world.  i couldn't wait to visit ouray, colorado as a kid.  i was told we would be staying in an old hotel in a secluded mountain town and that's exactly what we did. becoming friends with the family who owned the hotel may have helped add to the experience. i was able to explore a place which had been in operation since the 1800's, an amazing adventure to have as a kid and exceeded any expectations my little adolescent brain had.  memories from that trip have stayed with me to this day, including the best peanut butter pie i've ever had. it felt like home.

manhaattan kansas was a different feeling.  i was trying to decide where to go to college and kansas state was not on my list,  i didn't want to visit it and i didn't want to like it.  my expectations were low.  however after spending a day on campus i loved it.  i loved how the limestone buildings bordered the grass filled quad.  the tress filled in their fall foliage put the vision over the top.  in my mind, it felt the way college was suppose to feel, it felt like home.

my whole life i had wanted to visit california. a place where things happened, a place with culture, a place with an ocean.  my expectations were high when i finally visited the state at age 18.  i saw celebrities, i surfed, i saw a shark and i watched the sun set over the pacific ocean. there was just something about california and especially san diego.  it felt alive and youthful. maybe it didn't feel like home as much as i just wanted it to be home; which i eventually did for a little bit years later.

portland and austin were hipster fantasy lands in the mid oughts.  everything in my life i was interested in during that time was pointing me towards these two cities. music, coffee, beer, food trucks, flannel shirts, trucker hats.....these two cities at that time were peaks in the hipster timeline and i was glad i had a chance to visit them when i did.  a home of culture.

boothbay was different.  i had no real expectations, it was just a regular weekend trip.  however upon entering this little village tucked around a small bay, if felt quintessentially maine. lobster boats by the dock and seafood restaurants on the shore.  to add to the experience it was a weekend of their "harbor fest" so everyone was in goods spirits.  in the short time we were there the locals made us feel incredibly welcome. somehow in the middle of all this friendliness i was entered into an oyster chucking contest. a contest that brought more humor to those watching me than anything else.  expectations were exceeded, the first impression was picturesque and the whole weekend was filled with memories and even a few souvenirs.  i was gifted an oyster chucking knife and glove for my effort.

for a few days, i felt a part of a small community.  for a guy who grew up in a town of 2,000 it really did feel like a home...away from home...away from home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

[reel] fashion

i enjoy creativity in all places.  

the other weekend i saw creativity combined in two places foreign to me; fishing and fashion.  i attended the aptly named "fishing' for fashion" event during the boothbay harbor festival. an event requiring designers to use items and materials usually found on boats to create dresses.  among the materials used to create gowns were netting, woven nautical maps and even sea glass!  as an architect who enjoys using local context and materials for inspiration, i found this event incredibly fascinating.  i enjoyed seeing the imagination of the designers to find materials normally used for one specific purpose and envision them in a completely different way.  a quality i not only enjoy in architecture but any creative field.

Monday, August 29, 2016

getting [schooled] again

perfectly placed, this months #architalks found bob borson of "life of an architect" giving us the theme of "back to school" to write about.

as a kid, every year about this time, i only had one thing on my mind.

"what was i going to learn in school this year?"

would it be cursive? multiplication? algebra?  every new year had it's own new challenges, you knew you'd have to encounter. these thoughts continued all the way into architecture school as well.  you were very aware of what years you'd be taking structures, architectural history and professional practice.

then you graduate, and suddenly the subjects you learn about are no longer broken down neatly by subject or years, but rather learned on a need to know basis as you work in a firm.  given enough time, you can become fairly knowledgeable if you stay in the same spot and location.  however sometimes things change.  some people go back to school to further their education, some people go back to school to study something else completely, some people start their own firm, some people change firms and some people decide to move to a different part of the country.  i did the later.  i moved from kansas to maine last spring and at times it has felt like i was going [back to school].

the course list for this new [england] education includes:

-home economics
-foreign language

a book i've become very familiar with this year is the "nfpa 101 - life safety code."  portland maine requires code reviews on projects using both the ibc and nfpa.  over the past few years i had become familiar with the ibc, but this nfpa book was totally new to me.  looking through it the first time it might as well been written in greek.  it was organized differently, the verbiage was strange, it defined building uses differently and a few of the allowances were slightly different than what i was use to in the ibc.

also i find myself using the ibc more in depth than before.  in the mid-west the majority of my projects were on large parcels of land with substancial distances of separation.  currently the majority of the projects i'm working on are in more urban settings.  very rarely did i have to look at the separation distance of my building to determine the percentage of openings i'm allowed or if any of them need to be protected. now i do.

another book i've become more familiar with is "the international existing building code."  being in a much older city here on the east coast, this book has seen a lot more use than earlier in my architecture "education."

working in wichita for the past decade, i knew how the city permitting process worked, i've met most of the people in the permitting process and knew what to expect.  that's all out the window now.  i'm still learning how everything works here in portland.  who to call and when, what zones are where, what forms need to be filled out, how to submit and how to label what you're submitting.  this by far is my most frustrating class this year.

as an architect, i believe you should know the history of the city you live in and when you move to a new city there is a lot of catching up to do.  being on the east coast, naturally portland maine has a longer chronological timeline than wichita did and i've enjoyed hearing about the city from as far back as the 1600's.  knowing the history of the city starts to help you understand the current make up of the city. why certain areas are historic and why people are building where they do.  that's especially true when it comes to all the different neighborhoods found in portland. this class is by far my favorite.

my history "class" and geometry "class" are very closely related. geometry in this case refers to the architectural styles, materials and details, found in the area. learning new styles like "federal" and "colonial revival" not commonly found in the mid-west. studying the proportions of a "triple decker" to better fit into the neighborhood, or what geometries looks better with a shingle-style house.

one class i'm slightly embarrassed to admit i'm learning a lot in is "shop" class, or what you call "wood framed construction."  working mostly on commercial and retail projects i was very familiar with details of metal stud connections, however moving to a state that actually has trees finds me working almost completely with wood.  it's not a huge difference but it has been an education.  as wood framed structures in this city seem to be getting larger i can see me continuing in this class for several years learning how to better detail and fire rate wood structures.

home economics
just like in high school this class is teaching me about the home, or to put it architecturally, residential construction. the majority of my projects are residential, something i've never touched before and something that's taking a bit to get use to.  mostly it's a scaling issue in my head.  after drawing commercial projects for ten years i knew hallway widths, stairway widths, door heights and other variables for commercial projects.  i discovered quickly i was wasting too much valuable residential space on hallways and stairs.  i also enjoy residential being more personal. drawing break rooms for offices the past decade, it didn't matter a whole lot where the refrigerator was in relation to the sink, but in someones own home kitchen, it does.

foreign language
i'll just come out and say it... people talk differently here.  little phrases and terms that have caused a few chuckles and occasionally a little confusion.  just a week here i heard a contractor comment on a project as "wicked cool."  a phrase i knew existed but had never heard naturally in the wild.  i've also discovered in maine a "camp" is not an entire area with several cabins, pools, mess hall and recreation facilities but rather a just a single cabin.  this dramatically changed the scope of work i thought my boss had given me.

and don't even get me started on what it means to go [downeast].

there was always a bit of nervous excitement when you went back to school. that feeling of not exactly knowing what the year would hold, the anxious feeling in your gut that made it difficult to sleep the night before your first day.  as an architect i think it's important to keep the feeling coming back throughout your career. staying in a comfort zone won't move you forward [if that was the case i'd still be in mrs. matsons third grade class] just like in school, always learning something new is what propels you forward.

please take a look at the links below from the other #architalks members to see how they approached the topic of "back to school"

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Back to School!

Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Designing Back to School

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: "Back To School"

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
What Have We Learned? It's Back To School For #ArchiTalks 21

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
good to go back to school

Mark R. LePage - EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Back to School: Marketing for Architects

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
4 Tips As You Go Back To School

Cormac Phalen - Cormac Phalen (@archy_type)
Back to School Again

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#architalks 21 "back to school"

Michael Riscica - Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Let’s Get Back To (Architect) School …or Work.

brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Back to the Cartography Board

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Back to School

Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
#ArchiTalks / 15 Ways to Make the Most of Your Architectural Education

Sharon George - Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
What's better than architecture after school?

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
Back to {Architecture} School

Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Back to School...Suckasssssss

Kyu Young Kim - Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Back to School: Seoul Studio

Jared W. Smith - Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Back to School...

Adam Denais - Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
[ArchiTalks #21] 10 Things Architecture Students Say Going Back to School

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Back to School? It Doesn't Stop there for Architects.

Tim Ung - Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
10 Things I wish I knew about Architecture School

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


it had been five months since my parents dropped me off at the wichita airport to start a new life in maine.  in any normal circumstance, five months isn't that long of a time, but for someone who moved into a new apartment in a new city, started a new job and had to make new friends, it felt like a lifetime ago.  they were a sight for sore eyes.

similar to when they visited me in college, i couldn't wait to show them every new thing i had discovered, luckily for them, unlike college, maine doesn't smell like a dorm room.  the eleven days they were here were a mix of showing them the city i had come to know and wanting them to discover for themselves what a wonderful city portland is.  for totally selfish reasons, i wanted them to "like" the city i was living in to help ease my guilt for moving so far away.  then, somewhere between showing them my favorite neighborhood bar and the "land and sea" tour they took themselves, something i didn't plan happened.  we discovered new parts of the city together, tiny little gems neither of us had seen, several of which have become some of my favorite spots in the city.  

the crazy thing is, heading back to these spots a month after they left, i now have memories of them there.  this new place i moved to doesn't seem as foreign anymore now that i memories of my parents here.  i can envision my mom looking for sea glass on willard beach and i can picture my dad enjoying the patio of the portland lobster company.

memories help make a new and strange place feel like home, and memories with family are some of the best to accumulate.  my parents trip up to visit me, in a weird way, made this city feel more like home.  

they call maine "vacationland" but my parents trip made it feel a little more like [home]land.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

a tale of two [boats]

it was the best of times, it was a test of times
it was a boat of wisdom, it was a boat of foolishness,
it was a journey talking about wine, it was a journey of tangled up line
it was an evening of sails, it was an entire day of scales
it was a touch of class, it was being sick off my ass
we had a sommelier before us, we had captain pete before us
we felt like heavan, i felt like the other way...

in short, both trips were a blast, and i wouldn't change a thing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

there's no place like [gin]

as a kid, with lots of relatives in western kansas, i attended my share of weddings, all of which  incorporated volga german traditions; the wedding march, the singing of the brautlied (bride's song), the flying dutchman and many other polka's.  i enjoyed them because my grandfather loved them and i knew they were part of my heritage.

it took moving 1,800 miles away from my home to realize just why these traditions are so important.

with a touch of homesickness last month, my fiancee suggested that we throw a "june" bucket party. this was a party held by my friends back in kansas every june which included a large cocktail drink known as a gin bucket; a party i was going to miss this year.  however with her suggestion, i was immediately excited!  we invited all our new friends and started planning.  i was meticulous down to every detail, annoying my fiancee with discussions of correct bucket sizes and number of basters.  

the night of the party, all of our new found friends and neighbors came over. they were a little apprehensive about this gin concoction involving drinking communally from a large bucket with turkey basters, however after a few "bastes," everyone was on board.  the night ended up being a wonderful time and all our new friends became better friends that night.

i couldn't have been happier that night. i was like tevye dancing around the streets of anatevk shouting out "tradition!"  somewhere between joking about getting "basted" and eating "walking tacos" out of doritos bags, portland maine started to feel a little bit more like home.

a few days later my fiance and i did a little wedding planning.  still reeling in the happiness of the tradition of june bucket and thinking about our upcoming wedding i began to think about all the volga german traditions i'd like to include.  that's when it hit me.  these weren't just simple songs and dances you did at weddings just for the fun of it; theses were traditions brought over from my ancestors who had left their home.  songs and dances that reminded them of good times with friends and family they were now apart from.  traditions bought over that helped this new world they found themselves in seem a little less scary. familiar tunes and lyrics they could get lost in and feel like they were home again. a little piece of their old life that helped make their new life feel more like home.  these traditions were tiny seeds of a world they once knew that they could plant in a new place.  with time and love those seeds took root and became a whole new tradition, the wedding songs and dances i knew as a kid a hundred years after they were planted.

who knows if my great great grandchildren will be throwing june bucket parties in a hundred years, but there have been requests for a repeat in 2017.