Tuesday, May 17, 2016

take me out to the ball[park]

i am not a huge sports "guy,"

i'm an architect.

if anyone starts talking about anything relating to any type of sport, i quickly find myself lost and without a clue to what is being said.  except when it comes to baseball stadiums.  i'm infatuated by them and love knowing all i can about them.

like a humble servant seeing the coliseum in ancient rome for the first time, i'm always in awe entering a baseball stadium. it has so much for an architect to appreciate. they're large scale projects which become icons for the city.  not only are they great examples of architecture themselves, but i love how the outfields frame the city or landscape they're in. stadiums also perfectly represent their time.  fenway and wrigley with their industrial feel; angels stadium, dodger stadium and kauffman stadium with their mid-century vibe; the throw back retro-ness of stadiums built in the 90's like camden yards and coors field, to more contemporary parks like petco park in san diego.

interesting and sad fact, there are no major league stadiums representing styles from the 20's, 30's, 40's or 50's as they've all been replaced and kauffman stadium, which opened in 1973, is the sixth oldest stadium!

as large of projects as they are, it's interesting to think they still follow some of the most simple rules of architecture design; site location and orientation, the approach a visitor takes to and into it, compression and expansion, scaling and massing.  although they have similar traits, i also enjoy the fact each park has its own little drama or flair, some feature unique to it.  fenways green monster, the old brick building in the middle of the left field stands at petco park, kauffman's fountains, and many more.  there are a thousand of things i pay attention to at a a ballgame, the least of which is the actual game.

i'm not sure i'll ever get to design a baseball stadium and i'm not sure i'd want to, but i still love knowing about them.  the other week i had a chance to geek out by seeing fenway for the first time, the oldest ballpark still in use. i was ecstatic the entire game looking at all the details and reading plaques! don't worry, i did pay attention enough to watch ortiz bat and i was rooting for them to beat the blue jays.  even though they lost that day the architect in me came away with a win knowing i had finally seen fenway.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

how to [make] friends and [meet] people

in life, there are times you're thrown into social situations where you know absolutely no one.  these situations can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few months.  i recently moved to a completely new part of the country; and besides my fiancee, didn't know a single person.

situations like this can be good for ones soul. it helps you get back to the root of your personality. it's almost like being on a deserted island. no longer do you have the ease of going to your local market to pick up food or open your fridge for a drink, you've got to rely on your instincts to catch your meal. in moving to a new town, the food you have to fight for are new friends. you have to rely on your instincts to meet new people.  skills that may be rusty if you've lived in the same place for a while.  alone in this friendless world you really have to answer the question, "do i have friends because i'm interesting, or am i interesting because of my friends?'

i've spent the last two months asking that question as i've tried to meet people here in portland, and i wanted to share a few tips i've discovered, in case any of you find yourself in the same situation.

my guide to making friends and meeting people

first and foremost

1. don't be creepy

the only people who want to be friends with a creepy guy are other creepy guys.  lots of people fail at this. as a short, stocky, balding and bearded man, i have to work extra hard to not be creepy.  thankfully my wonderful and beautiful fiancee balances me out. however when i'm alone i've learned if you dress nice and iron your shirt it helps a little.  also smile, but not too much....that's creepy. also smell nice. creepy guys smell bad, so spend some money and get a good cologne, not axe body spray.

2. get off your phone

being on your phone usually means your texting or chatting with friends, and you have none, so stay off your phone.  don't play games on your phone either.  no one's going to want to talk to a middle aged man they see playing candy crush...that's creepy. see rule number one.

3. wear one piece of interesting clothing

it gives a stranger something to comment on, such as "nice shoes" or "where did you get that hat?"  I prefer wearing interesting socks, showing just a hint of interesting-ness.  don't overdo it though.  too much interesting clothing can make you look creepy.  rule number one.

4. hang by the trash can

if you're hanging out at a large event and it happens to be catered, everyone has to eventually throw something away.  hanging near, but not too near the trash can, allows people to come to you, creating the possibility of interaction.  the same could be said about hanging near the restroom but....rule number one.

5. carry a moleskin or other type of sketch book

i'm an architect and i've learned that carrying a moleskine makes you look "artsy." it can also show you have a softer, more sentimental side.  however make sure you actually have something drawn or written in it because there's a fine line between "artsy" and rule number one.

6. hit up dive bars

find out where the locals go and drink there.  don't go to tourist traps. the only people that hang out at touristy places are tourists.  it might be easy pickings for interaction but you re not going to meet anyone to have a beer with in three weeks when your down and need to chat.  also, depending on how much of a dive it is, there's a good chance you'll be the least creepy guy in the bar.

7. talk to the bartender

in the digital world we live in bartenders are the cities own personified wikipedia page. they know about everyone and everything going on in town which is basically everything you don't know. don't worry about asking for suggestions on what to do, hey've already summed you up and will steer you in the right direction.  little tip, ask them where they drink. bartenders always drink at cooler places than where they work.  chances are they'll tell you about a cooler bar than the applebees you're currently drinking at.

8. new in town

if you do actually meet someone and strike up a conversation, as as quickly as possible, tell them you're new in town.  people love telling you where they think is cool, what stores to go to, where to eat and other places to hang out.  also if they're picking up any scent of creepy, telling them you are new in town gives you a bit of a bye,  they'll just assume the place you came from was creepy.

9.  buy a round

if you happen to meet someone or a group of someones, don't be afraid to buy a round. buying a round is a quick way for someone to like you...or at the very least, keep talking to you. however i would suggest only buying one round.  you don't want to look too much like the guy trying to get everyone drunk.  rule number one.
10. don't connect socially...just yet
as hard as it is, after you've talked with someone and hit it off, don't ask if they're on instagram or twitter.  it reeks of desperation and could potentially scare off a new friend.  what until you hang out with them for a second or third time.   besides, do you really want to know what some stranger you met one night thought of his street tacos next week when it pops up on you feed? the answer is no.  also, don't take a "selfie" with anyone you've known for less than 6 hours.  that's just creepy, and by now we should all know rule number one.
i'll let you know how it goes....

Thursday, March 24, 2016

switching a syrup [sap]

here in maine, they love their maple syrup; and when i say love... i mean they LOVE it.  it's on the same level as bbq in kansas city, deep dish pizza in chicago or bacon...well...wherever men are found. it's serious business here in the northeast. being a mid-westerner raised on "log cabin" maple syrup all my life, i couldn't comprehend the obsession over this coveted condiment.

side note: i've heard if they catch you buying "log cabin" at the grocery store in maine, they take you out back and beat you with a stick.

the other day i read an article in the local paper on maple syrup etiquette, discussing the fact you should always be sure your guests receive the "good stuff" and how restaurants will actually charge you if you'd like more than the given amount.  naturally this piqued my interest and i had to check this syrup situation out.  as luck would have it, a few farms were going to have an early "maple weekend" on saturday; which is a whole day of celebrating this sugary sap! the next day, my fiancee and i drove an hour outside of portland to hilltop boilers to see what all the fuss was about.

i'll be honest i was overwhelmed. it was a syrup sensory overload.  within seconds we had been given samples of maple fudge as well as ice cream with hot maple syrup on it!  inhaling the treats we took a tour of the "sugar house," where i discovered it took 40 gallons of liquid sap to get one gallon of pure maine maple syrup. at the end of the tour they had maple whoopee pie samples; two glorious new england traditions in one amazing treat.

i ended up leaving the farm with three different bottles of maple syrup and a maple whoopie pie the size of my face.  i had been seduced by the smooth sweetness of this sappy siren known as pure maine maple syrup.  if that whole experience hadn't been enough to do me in, the next day we made pancakes.  i'd like to say i used the syrup sparingly, but the truth is, i was basically doing maple syrup shots with a pancake glass.

well done maine, i get it now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

i [hate] goodbyes

i wrote my last blog post a week before i left wichita for maine...and things got a little crazy.....

the post was shared, retweeted and forwarded on to so many people i lost track.  i say "lost track" because it was well above the 35 people who normally read my blog; mostly friends and family.  thank you to everyone who shared my post or commented.  as a person leaving his hometown for a city he's never set foot in before, it meant a lot.  after 10 years of writing about my adventures in wichita, i had written the most personal post ever...and it must of hit a nerve.  i can't thank you enough if you were one of those who took time to read it.

the post was shared so much i heard from old high school teachers, college professors, business owners, city officials....my dentist...and several strangers whose only connection was wichita. the post eventually came across the paths of two people, who let me say goodbye to wichita in ways i could have never imagined and i'd like to thank them.

first of all, carrie rangers, a reporter for the wichita eagle.  not only did she chat with me and write a wonderful article, she also made short video of me talking about how great wichita is.  if it looks as though i'm getting misty eyed in the video, it's only because i had just finished chopping onions. thank you carrie for the wonderful article and video. you can see her work here.

next, i'd like to thank tony and alt 107.3 who let me guest dj the sunday night before i left.  not only did he let me play some of my favorite songs on my favorite wichita station, we also reminisced about wichita in 30-45 second segments.  tony might also go down as the last friend i made in wichita before i left.  a great guy doing his best to promote this wonderful town. 

below was my playlist for the night:

alabama shakes - don't wanna fight
cake - love you madly
the white stripes - seven nation army
the black keys - your touch
the la's - there she goes
beck - loser
leon bridges - better man
pixies - here comes your man
nirvana - smells like teen spirit
counting crows - mr. jones

both of them gave me an incredibly large platform to say goodbye to my hometown, which is a gift i won't ever forget.

lastly i'd like to thank my friends and family.  you all are the crazy cast of characters that made wichita so hard to leave and who i'm missing as i write this post.  i was lucky enough to surround myself with wonderfully talented people who all want to make wichita a great place, and that's what i'm missing most....

well....that and the chicken fried steak-n-eggs at the beacon.  holy cow! i had no idea a good chicken fried steak would be so hard to find here on the east coast!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

dear wichita [i hate you]

during the past few weeks i've had a chance to look at wichita from a different perspective; the view seen from someone leaving.  from this vantage point, strong feelings toward wichita start to fade into the distance and it's easier to notice things to dislike.  with wichita being the 49th largest city in the nation, i thought i'd share 49 things i hate about this city.

i hate the "keeper of the plains" and the wichita symbolism it's iconic form holds.

i hate all the new additions to the river walk and how pleasantly it connects the urban environment to a natural path that flows through the heart of the city.

i hate that damn troll along the river walk and seeing the look on peoples faces when you show them its secret location.

i hate the wichita flickr photo group for introducing me to some of wichita's best portrait takers.

i hate the coasters bicycle club and how they decorate the streets and sidewalks of wichita's with the faded color of their vintage bikes. i also hate how they were one of the first groups in town to take me in and show me how great this city is.

i hate sunday mornings at the beacon.

i hate that in the past few years wichita's culinary scene has taken off with amazing new restaurants featuring local fare.

i hate all the north broadway restaurants.

i hate 'public at the brickyard' and the amazing people that own it and how it's a gathering place for my friends which was eventually the reason why i met my fiancee.

i hate wednesday night trivia at barlycorns.

i hate that because of hard work, effort and determination,  riverfest is morphing, changing and growing into an even more fantastic party for the city.

i hate that the arena is two blocks from my apartment.

i hate the tallgrass film festival and the huge cultural event it's become and all the wonderful people who organize it.

i really hate the chili cook-off and how it keeps gaining in popularity.

i hate that for the past 10 years i've had an apartment in old town allowing me to walk to work everyday, rain or shine, making our town feel just that more urban.

i hate the hard working people at the chamber of commerce and downtown development corporation who are helping wichita's city core be what it should be.

i hate the wichita flag because and how well its designed and how its becoming a symbol of city pride.

i hate the the donut whole and tanya's soup kitchen and how they completely changed that little area of town.

i hate that we have a river flowing through our city that only wichitans pronounce correctly.

i hate that time wichita state went to the final four and our whole town was bursting with pride.  i hate how for a few weeks everyone in town was happy and in a small way felt connected to each other.

i hate final fridays and all the art and artists its introduced me to.

i hate commerce street.

i hate our zoo.

i hate the wichita art museum and it's color parties and it's art chatters.

i hate the kansas aviation museum and how it's so uniquely wichita.

i really hate morts, especially on mondays during the summer, on the patio, with all the wonderful memories made there and how one of my proudest wichita moments was getting my picture on the wall.

i hate that we have, arguably some of the best, movie theaters in the country.

i hate the whole east wichita vs west wichita issue and how it's goofy things like that, that give a city "flavor."

i hate botanica, in all seasons but especially during december when it transforms into  "illuminations."

i hate the downtown library building in all it's raw brutalist glory.

i hate douglas avenue and how our town couldn't ask for a more perfect "main street."

i hate the season ticket package for music theatre of wichita allowing me to see fantastic performances each and every summer.

i hate the downtown ymca and working out in a beautiful piece of architecture.

i hate seeing people in this town work so hard to make their own "scenes" better, such as comedy, music, art, architecture and beer.

i hate that neighborhoods in this city are starting to really develop their own local feel.

i hate delano and every wonderful store, bar or restaurant there.

i hate st. paddys day in delano.

i hate the food trucks and how you can't go to any event now without them being there serving up amazing food.

i hate disc golf at oak park.

i hate sunsets in riverside park.

i hate our beautiful new airport and how wichita finally got an entry to the city it deserved.

i hate seeing any concert at the cotillion.

i hate every single thing that goes on, or is shown, at the orpheum as well as the building itself.

i hate all the local coffee shops and how they create gathering spots within the city.

i hate the rise in craft breweries around town creating their own nighttime nodes for people to meet and interact all the while enjoying something local in their glass.

i hate any person i've met who's gives a damn about this city and volunteers their time to make this community a better place.

i hate that my family lives here.

i hate friday evenings at lucky's.

i hate that the group of people i'm lucky enough to call my friends love this city and how much they all care about making wichita a better place by actually getting off the couch and doing shit, as well as supporting any shit any other people might have going on.

why do i hate all these things?

because each and every single one of them make it incredibly difficult to leave this city.

i love you wichita and i'm going to miss you terribly.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

it's ok, i have a [pen]

this months #architalks found bob borson of "life of an architect" giving us the theme of [tool] to write about and discuss.

Note: This is the sixteenth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response… this month’s theme: “New Year, New _____”. - See more at: http://l-2-design.com/new-year-new-goals/#sthash.SgfXtKnr.dpuf
Note: This is the sixteenth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response… this month’s theme: “New Year, New _____”. - See more at: http://l-2-design.com/new-year-new-goals/#sthash.SgfXtKnr.dpuf
Note: This is the sixteenth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response… this month’s theme: “New Year, New _____”. - See more at: http://l-2-design.com/new-year-new-goals/#sthash.SgfXtKnr.dpuf

during my college internship, i received some advice i’ve never forgotten.

“always be the one with the pen”

the principal of the firm told me this one day before entering a meeting. 

“watch and see who’s holding the pen, that’s who’s in charge.”

i kept this in mind as i attended meetings that summer and sure enough, whoever was holding the pen, was the person leading the meeting.

the pen is a powerful tool.

as architects, the pen is naturally is a very powerful tool.  it’s still the quickest way for us to communicate to someone else the ideas in our head.  there’s also a very old-school romanticism when it comes to architects and pens you can’t replicate with a computer.  watching someone wield a pen and in just a few moments convey an idea is an amazing event to witness.  whether it’s a small connection detail or a full colored rendering, the pen has an amazingly simplistic power that can't be replicated.

however the way to use the pen as a [tool] that i’d like to discuss doesn’t even require the cap to come off.  during meetings the pen almost acts as a little “talking stick.”  whoever holds the pen is usually the person conveying ideas.  maybe it’s because it gives you just that [little something extra] to emphasis you point. or it could be because at any second you can take the cap off and modify a plan, site, section or elevation with just a mark; a very powerful action when you think about it.

when you keep this function of the pen in mind during meetings you’ll start to see a hidden level of language develop.  sometimes there’s a [pen pass] and therefore a change of meeting leadership.  i’ve seen some one talk with a pen, sit it down, then someone else will pick up the very same pen and start talking. 

sometimes there’s a [pen giving] where the person with the pen asks a question, and literally hands the pen over to someone new to get their thoughts or opinions. 

other times there's a [pen change]  if the meeting goes from discussing new and fresh ideas ideas the pen sometimes changes from black to red.  this also signifies a change in meeting tone.

most of the time meetings are just the [pen pointer] type, where everyone speaks when it’s their turn and has their own pen to emphasize their own point.  oddly enough the more pens in a meeting the more chaotic it gets.

this can sometimes lead to [dueling pens] a situation where two people seem to be leading the meeting, or arguing, each with pen in hand, going nowhere fast.  

 also sadly enough i’ve been in meetings where there has been a [no pen] situation, and not surprisingly a total lack of meeting direction.  thankfully most of these meeting will find someone saying, “let me get a pen,” and the meeting seems to take shape.  

over the years i’ve noticed the most successful and productive meetings have occurred when there is one pen that everyone collectively uses.  a symbol of it being their time to talk or give ideas.

a little tiny talking stick; a very powerful tool.

i’ve tried this [the leader is the one with the pen] logic in other meetings, but have had very little successes.  my mechanic still charged me the same and didn’t seem to care i could draw my car and my fiancee’ thought it was odd i took a pen into bed bath and beyond to pick out curtains.

however when it comes to design meetings [always be the one with the pen]

p.s. pictured above is the pilot bravo, my favorite [talking stick]

please take a look at the links below from the other #architalks members to see how other architects approached the topic of [tool]

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
3 Tools to Get Our Clients Engaged and Involved

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Best Tool In Your Toolbox

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The Tools That Help Make #AREsketches

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
tools #architalks

Jes Stafford - MODwelling (@modarchitect)
One Essential Tool

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Architools - Mind Over Matter

Rosa Sheng - Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
10 Power Tools to Kickstart Equitable Practice

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 17 "Tool"

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Tools of an Architect #Architalks 17

Amy Kalar - ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #17: Three Tools for Change

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Can we talk?

Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Why An Architect's Voice Is Their Most Important Tool

Brinn Miracle - Architangent (@simplybrinn)
Synergy: The Value of Architects

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Tools for Learning

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
Something Old and Something New

Greg Croft - Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)

Jeffrey A Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Helpful tools found within an Architecture blog

Aaron Bowman - Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Sharpen Your Tools

Kyu Young Kim - Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Super Tool

Jared W. Smith - Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Construction: An Architect's Learning Tool

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
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