Wednesday, December 27, 2006

[lounge] for the holidays

i hope everyone is enjoying this special time of year. this wonderful week wedged between christmas and the new year. a week where there's nothing better to do then lounge around the house, and draw little holiday illustrations on adobe illustrator.

happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

baby it's [cold] outside.......even in california

last week i took my first vacation since starting this "daily grind" world. the wedding of a friend in san diego, was the perfect excuse to escape the frozen tundra known as the midwest in favor of the sun filled cliffs of so-cal.

i left friday afternoon, and braved the unbearable 67 degree weather all the way to kansas city. after stopping and picking up a friend, parking in the "economy" lot, and catching the bus to the terminal, we made it to the airport with not a moment to spare. we passed through the jet way and were off to celebrate the union of two people in the sun and surf.

after arriving friday night, and spending the evening getting reacquainted with friends, i woke up the next morning to an all to common scene this time of year. a cold, grey, overcast sky with hints of sprinkles. what! it's not suppose to do this! it never rains in southern california! that albert hammond song is filled with lies!

the wedding took place on a beautiful cliff side overlooking the sea, which just happens to be adjacent to the salk institute...architects. the site chosen was possibly, the windiest and coldest point along the coast that day. the guests took their seats, zipped up their coats, and watched the bride in a very elegant, sleeveless, dress walk down the hillside and through the impromptu aisle.

with the weather blowing against our backs reminding us that anything is possible, the ceremony proceeded in a beautiful fashion. a song, sung by the father of the bride to his newly wed daughter, didn't leave a dry eye on the cliff side. looking through scarfs and hats, it wasn't hard to notice that the warmest people that day were the newly declared husband and wife, being filled with that eternal warmth one receives after finding the love of your life.

after the wedding, the next few days were filled with good friends and great conversation. board games, christmas shopping and holiday movies filled the hours as the weather eventually warmed back up. there was even a brief cameo from some friends that traveled afar from l.a.

california will always represent a magical, and mystical place for me. it might be because i know disneyland is there. but it seems throughout history california, has been a place for the promise of a better future, and opportunity, which is only fitting for a wedding. spending a few days in california, celebrating this marriage, got me in the holiday mood. that mood where you enjoy being with friends and family, and together are anxious for the promise that a new year holds.

or it could have just been that decorated evergreen which, oddly enough looked perfectly placed on the beach.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

winter [work]land

well, yet another sign that i need to apply for my aarp membership and start watching the antiques road show on a more regular basis.

last week we had our first snow of the season, and as much as i wanted to run home at lunch and bundle up like ralphie's little brother in "a christmas story" and partake in this freshly fallen treat, i couldn't. instead, i had to sit in front of my desk, in my khakis, staring out the window, watching perfectly good snowball material go to waste on my window sill.

from the time i could walk, up until last year, a snowfall was an excuse. a reason to forget any responsibility and enjoy a little blessing brought on by mother nature herself. a gift to us all saying, "who needs school, go play." but now with this job, comes responsibilities, and deadlines. obstacles between me and the snow.

spending just a few months in this profession, i've quickly realized that i only get paid if i can bill my time to someone with money. therefore, i have to work the majority of the day. however with the snow gently falling outside, and sugar plums dancing in my head, i was pondering ways architects could enjoy the season, while still accumulating somewhat billable hours. here's a few ideas.

- building to-scale snow mock ups of projects in the parking lot.
- louie kahn snowman lookalike contests.
- design competitions will be decided by snowball fights. using your own firm as "base".
- clients must sit on our laps and tell us what they'd like for their buildings.
- year-end bonus will be determined by "freeze-out" competitions.
- all elevations will include christmas lights with corresponding lighting plans to be coordinated with the electrical engineer.
- instead of coffee, we offer clients egg-nog in moose head shaped glasses.
- i dare my co-worker chad to put his tongue on the lamp post outside.

just a few suggestions i'll bring up at the next office meeting. i hope everyone can enjoy the season in their own way.

Monday, November 27, 2006


well thanksgiving has come and gone. having a few days to reflect, and digest, it occurs to me, that my thanksgiving this year, was very similar to the original thanksgiving held by the pilgrims.

try to follow my ramblings for one moment if you will.

now, i don't want to go into a great amount of detail the story of the pilgrims. for one, the vast amount of my recent history classes, were on architecture. if we want to discuss the architectural stylings of the early americans we can, but that's not what this is about. secondly we all know the basic story. the pilgrims gathered to give thanks for the harvest, and for surviving in a new and strange land. they were thankful for their friends and family, their faith, and their new neighbors, the native american's.

this mirrors my situation. i've entered a new and strange land; the working world. rules and habits that applied in college, no longer apply in this territory. apparently most of the working world gets up before noon, and instead being docked a letter grade for turning a project in late, the threat now is being fired. also, i'm living in a unfamiliar and dangerous place...downtown wichita....i grew up in the suburbs, o.k. and like the pilgrims, i've become acquainted with the foreign cultures and personalities of my neighbors, manly my floral designing neighbor greg. for the past few months, i've had to rely on the knowledge of my co-workers to gain experience to help me survive this new world.

as you can see, the similarities are near identical.

truly though, it can be very humbling to take a look back at your life over the course of a year, and be truly thankful for it. i hope everyone out there can.

now i just need to get some of those great buckle shoes the pilgrims had...i hear they're coming back in fashion.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


a week ago, my firm participated in the wichita food bank [canstruction] project at the city arts building. after tossing out the idea to build frank lloyd wrights guggenheim, or the pyramids we eventually decided on a rocket. over the next month we collectively spend about 43 minutes designing it, which meant we drew the cans in cad. we ordered a very rough estimate of the amount of cans we'd need, and showed up to build. any ideas or plans on how to build it were quickly abandoned as the build began. through some creative use of chip board and a lot of sticks of hot glue, or sculpture was finished.

as pleased as we were about the shape we had somehow manage to create or guilt ran high. we were under the impression that the cans we used went directly to the kansas food bank. being that our rocket consisted of lesuer peas, sardines in mustard sauce, and hormel chili, we felt that we weren't making the best contribution to those in need. but we soon learned that dillons had an agreement with the food bank to take back the cans used in the contest, and contribute a healthier variety.

Monday, October 30, 2006

[outside] work

this past weekend, i was able to volunteer with "habitat for humanity". not only did i feel this would be a great project to volunteer with, but it would also give me the chance to step away from the multitude of colored lines on the computer screen and see actual construction. this was the third of four weekends help was needed. arriving at the house, i was amazed at the level of completion. i quickly wondered what could be left to do. upon entering, i soon realized we would be "mudding" the drywall. now i don't know much about house construction, but i do know one area of construction you should have professionally done is the mudding. as i was handed my trowel and pan, i asked if they were sure they wanted me doing this, but seeing that none of the other volunteers had any experience, i was equally qualified. i climbed the ladder, and started "mudding" the ceiling. looking at my progress my only thoughts were for the unlucky volunteers that would be sanding my efforts in a few days. i finished with my half of the ceiling and stepped of the ladder ten pounds heavier, due to the plaster i had covered myself in. i started on the walls. they were easier, but in no way did that mean i did them any better. corners........don't want to even talk about them. finally i found my ninch, nail holes, so that's what i stuck with for the remainder of the day. i have a whole new respect for that 5/8 line i draw on cad.also this weekend, i set up my new drafting table, a recent purchase at an auction. i had been looking for a drafting table for a while. if khakis kill creativity, there's something about that tilted surface that fuels it, and i wanted one. i heard of an auction that had advertised a drafting table so i went to check it out. i strolled through the various items, and finally found the table next to the shotgun shells. i stood my ground and waited for the auctioneer to make his way over. when he finally came, he quickly grouped it in with a work bench, and two saw horses. wanting the drafting table i realized i'd ave to prepare myself to receive all the items. the bidding started. i bid, not hearing any other shouts, i thought that table was surely mine. then from the back in the shadows, another hand raised. the crowds drew silent and parted. it was just me and the "other guy". it was time for a showdown. just like"high noon" only instead of guns we had our auction numbers. it was time to see who wanted this table more. a tumble weed blew past us. it was on. i bid, he bid, the price went up, i bid, he bid, the price went up. i wanted this table. i bid, he bid, the price went higher. i bid, he bid, the price went higher, i bid, he stopped. the auctioneer shouted sold, the smoked cleared, and i was left standing with the drafting table, work bench, and two saw horses, for the final price of 16 dollars. as my adrenalin slowed from this high stakes game of chicken i soon realized that i was the owner of more then i wanted. however i was quickly offered two dollars for the saw horses, and sold the work bench for six. the events of the last couple of weekends however made me start to wonder about my profession. here i am, on the weekends, not needing to work, but finding myself mudding drywall, and bidding on drafting tables. why? why don't i leave that at the office? is architecture one of those professions that doesn't stop at five on friday? are other jobs like that? i have many friends in this profession fixing up and redesigning their houses? while others build furniture, or design greeting cards. is this just part of the job? it just made me wonder...

did i enter architecture because i was like this, or am i like this, because i entered architecture?

Monday, October 16, 2006

[wisdom] from [wilco]

the decemberists may be great story tellers, but wilco seems to fill it's songs with a truth that only years of experiencing life can fill.

thinking back to days and nights spent in studio, it's hard not to have a wilco song playing softly in the background while a panorama of pencils and paper fill my mind. why do i enjoy their music so much? maybe it's the truth i hear in their lyrics, or the way the sound helps convey the feeling behind the words. maybe it's the perfect balance of both, or maybe it's because i wish my own words were as poetic.

i'm not sure i would have enjoyed wilco in highschool. college has a way of forcing one through pain, hurt, sorrow, fear and doubt, with the college of architecture planning and design, handing out higher and stronger doses of them all. however, all those feelings, eventually find a way to their antonyms; relief, happiness, confidence, certainy, and trust. these feelings and the journey from one to the other are expressed in the words of a wilco song.

as a band they are constantly experimenting with their own songs. going to a concert one hears versions unable to buy or download. this might annoy some people, but i find it fascinating. jeff tweedy, once said, after you've created something, and have it the way you like it, take a step back, and deconstruct it. doing this, not only will you find the essentials, but you might just find a more interesting way of building it back up.

i'd like to think that this idea not only applies to alt-country music, but in most of life's situations.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

late nights with the [crane wife]

i've been a little stressed lately.

i have my first big deadline due friday, a permit set. having never put an entire [actual] [real-life] permit set together before, the pressure is slowly building because i have no concept of time for this undertaking. in school, by the end of four years i could closely gauge the time required to finish a project. now, it's a shot in the dark.

however the tension was loosened slightly tuesday, as the decemberists came out with their new album, "the crane wife". knowing that i would be spending a few late nights in the office this week, i purchased my copy, and quickly had it playing at my desk.

i keep the volume at a reasonable level during office hours, but as soon as everyone is out the door, the volume goes from 2 to 11. there's something about working late into the night, with the music playing, that is sweetly reminiscent of studio. i don't know if it's genetics or years of habit, but i feel more productive at night. it could also be that when i head into the office at night, i'm able to ditch the khakis for the jeans. i'm starting to believe that khakis kill creativity. at any length, i feel in my element at night, and even with the stack of "red lines" i have to get through, it's a little easier with the decemberists coming through the speakers.

so i guess i'll crank up "o valencia!" and bust out some window details.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

[downtown] initiation

i was just getting settled into the life of an [urbanite], well at least as much as wichita will allow. i enjoy my morning coffee and walking to work with my murse [man-purse] across my chest.

i try to use my truck as little as possible, however, every once in awhile, i'll need to run an errand that is beyond walking distance. so tonight, needing to run such an errand, i approached my truck, where it had been parked since sunday. i noticed a little more busted glass on my seat then i usually like to see. yup, my truck had been broken into. i went through the natural colombo sequence, assessing anything stolen, looking for clues, or any other hints that might lead to a suspect. to my surprise nothing was stolen, not even the radio. actually the most expensive thing i keep in my car is the spare change in the ashtray. i'm hoping that the thief, after spending a few seconds ripping at my dash and radio, realized that it wasn't really worth the effort and left, leaving just a mess of wires and glass behind. i naturally reported it to the police, where as they asked if anything of value had been stolen, i wanted to say [some creedence tapes] but held myself back. she then asked when it had happened. i responded sometime between the hours of sunday night, and wednesday night. to which she said, "you leave your car parked downtown for three nights!" i wanted to get on my soapbox and inform her that it had been parked that long because i walk to work, and actually how everyone should walk more, however, i decided to just to finish the report.
what is it about your first year on your own, that requires your car get broken into? i've known several people that have had this happen months out of college. it's almost like there's some sort of sticker on our car we don't know about. [i'm on my own now, please break in!]

i'm not really upset, life will always throw you curves, it's how you handle it that's important. i'm grateful that it's only an inconvenience. i will, however, have to buy a new window, and i'm now convinced that i should probably shell out the extra bucks to park in the garage.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

[away] from the desk

like every other city, wichita is trying to revive it's downtown. this week, our firm took a little [field trip] to visit a few of the buildings that make it up. i was so excited for this little adventure, i almost packed a sack lunch with a dr. pepper wrapped in foil.

i relish any chance to leave the office. i understand the majority of our work does have to take place in the confines of an office, but it's great to get out. i believe that most of my friends, who are also architects, would agree, that we got into this profession because we love buildings. we are fascinated at the space one can create by constructing a few walls, and on site you become immersed in it. most of the buildings in the downtown area are now just empty shells, only hinting at their former glory, but somehow they still hold inspiration. downtown will never get back to the feel and energy it had 50 years ago, our lifestyles, with our cable television and drive thru's, will never allow that to happen, but it is great to see these former temples of retail and business find new life.going along with the theme of this post, i set up my answering machine at work. i've been starting to get my own calls, and thought that if by some miracle i happen to be away from my desk, i'd like to give the caller the option of voice mail. sure enough the next day i had my first message. it wasn't anything too important, in fact i've been noticing that i seem to talk with people at the same level on the corporate ladder as me, only in different fields, as i've been conversing with the [cad monkey] over at an engineering firm. i know that soon, i'll loath that little blinking light, but for now, if you need me i'll be at extension 208.

Monday, September 11, 2006

former [intern architect] about to become the masters champion

september and october are the best months to be in kansas. those few precious weeks that you can be outdoors without being at the mercy of the heat or bitter cold, and how better to spend those weeks then golfing.everyone in my office loves golf, and today was the annual aia golf tournament. in an office of six people this of course means the office shuts down, and we play golf. being the "new guy" they were anxious to see if they had some new talent waiting to surprise the other firms with. however my years on the junior varsity team did not pay off. i would have had better luck playing blindfolded with a shovel. our saving grace however was the general contractor we recruited for our team, keeping us from coming in last. however the day wasn't a total bust.

there is a reason golf is compared to life so much. as mentioned, i had a terrible round. all day i was hitting the water, sandtraps, and once, the refreshment cart. however on one particular par three, i landed the ball seven feet from the pin, giving me one of the best shots in my life, making all the other disappointing shots disappear. just as in life, years of trial, error and frustration, seem to disappear the moment everything comes together giving you that "perfect shot". and then your boss reminds you of the refreshment cart.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

and a [year] goes by

it's been a year since katrina hit the gulf coast, and there's something about that benchmark that causes us to look back and reflect. i didn't personally live through that disaster, and i can't begin to imagine what it was like to have everything you own, lost and your life swept away. i did, however have the privilege to meet a man that did. i say privilege, because it was an honor to meet and work for ronald lewis. ronalds positivity and optimism were unbelievable after hearing what he had been through.

i've written before about my experience in the lower ninth, but i wanted to include an up-date on the project. earlier this month, the team of students and volunteers i worked with completed rebuilding mr. lewis's house and construction of a new museum. if you follow this link you'll find the npr page on new orleans. if you scroll down you'll find a box titled "24 hours-a day in the life of new orleans". they've put together a great slide show, featuring mr. lewis, also, i've included a few pictures taken by my friend jason during the grand opening. this experience will always serve as a reminder to me. when faced with unimaginable tragedies and seemingly hopeless circumstances, it's amazing at what faith, prayer, determination, and the support of friends and family really have.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

night of [voodoo]

so last thursday, instead of going to the "lava lounge" for sinatra night, i went to the derby to check out "big bad voodoo daddy" with mike and trent.

alright, so as much as i've always wanted to utter those lines, that's not exactly what happened. i was however able to check out "big bad voodoo daddy" at the sedgwick county zoo, as part of their summer concert series. now the zoo isn't exactly the hollywood icon the "derby" is, but i'll take what i can get.

the concert was not the low-key, lounge scene i had envisioned in my head, there were too many strollers and blankets for that, but the band sounded great live. although the place was packed with hundreds of those foldable lawn chairs, there was a space right in front of the stage reserved for swing dancers, which were easy to spot in the crowd. thinking of myself as an amateur swing dancer and not wanting to pass up the chance to dance in front of one of the icons of swing music, i gave it a shot. i threw myself into the mix of zoot suits and saddle shoes, and tried my best. i thought i was doing fine, until an eighty year old couple whirled by me and informed me to "move it or loose it."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

[home] is where.........

tonight, my childhood home belongs to a stranger.

my family has moved out and someone else has moved in. i haven't really thought about it much, because of all the other transitions going on in my life, but now, tonight, knowing that i would now be a stranger in the yard i mowed for 17 years, i find myself missing it.

the intern-architect in me, completely understands. people move. they move companies, they move residences, it's what keeps us in business. but the eight year old in me is having a hard time. the truth is, i haven't spent a lot of time there recently, having lived various places, but it was always home. a place i knew was always there, waiting for me, just the way i left it.

it was the only home i had ever known. i went from the hospital to that house. my view of this world began on the corner of foxbrier and main. starting slow. not being allowed to leave the yard at first, and then finally given permission to cross the street to check the mail. when i got my first set of [bike] wheels, i ruled the neighborhood, and could even go to the quick-trip to get a pop. even in highschool, i kept within the city limits, always returning to that house at night. when college came, i found myself spending less and less time there. but it was always home.

what ifind myself missing the most though, is mowing. i loved it. it was never a chore to me. i'd put on my headphones, zone out, and think about life, while still keeping straight lines in the yard. when i first started mowing i would listen to "tiffany" and "rick astley" with my red kool-aid tape player with belt clip. through the years i moved up to a "walkman" then a "discman". the last time i mowed, i had "the decemberists" and "clap your hands say yeah" playing over my ipod.

the reason i loved mowing so much, is the time it gave me to think. for two hours no one would bother me. it was suburban meditation. that yard isn't just filled with the mulch from grass clippings, it is scattered with several years of my thoughts. little ponderings like "do you really get a free tootsie pop, if you get an indian and a star on the wrapper", to those life long thoughts about relationships and career decisions, that never seem to end.

home, will always be with my family, no matter where we are, but that house on north main was the setting of my childhood. housing memories, experiences, adventures, trying circumstances, and life lessons.

well i better end this post before it sounds too much like a "wonder years" episode. but i do believe i'll play a little joe cocker tonight.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

the [domestic] life

i'm finding myself increasingly more domesticated every day, and not by choice, by necessity.

i remember at school weekdays and weekends blurred together with the only real difference being there were a few days where you'd leave studio to go to a different class. now there is a clear definition between the two. the weekends are now the time for me to do what i want to do, all day long. but even that statement has some exceptions. my whole day today felt like it was spent getting ready for the coming week. there were groceries to buy. clothes to wash, dry and iron. [on a side note, ironing was non-existent at college. i think i ironed five times in seven years of college. it is now however, taking up way to much time] then there's the daily cleaning. living by yourself, you come face to face to how dirty or clean you are. there are no longer any roommates to place the blame on.

i know it's all just part of growing up, but this change from t-shirts and jeans, to slacks and collars, was a bit fast. to be honest, though, the eye opening event that brought all this to light, was buying a swiffer today........and being excited about it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

finding [signs]

i enjoy "chains of events". those little cause and effect links that give our crazy lives some structure. one of those links happened last week.

as mentioned in the previous post, i took a trip to kansas city, what was not mentioned was the fact that while i was driving, i, somehow, won a radio contest. the question the dj posed was "what lyrics are next in this neil young song, "...that keep me searching for a heart of gold, and i'm............what?" well, knowing the answer, and being bored, i called. sure enough i was the tenth caller, and had the correct answer, leaving me the new owner a two cd set of "boston's greatest hits, i was like christmas.

last week i would have assumed this is where the story ends, however..........

i had to go claim my prize at the radio station. after "google mapping" the directions, i found that not only would i have to head down a road i had never been on before, but it was for a longer distance then i thought two boston cd's were worth. i however decided to go. i ended my friday early, and ventured down this new road. while taking note of all the new buildings, i couldn't help noticing the signs in front of them. before i knew it i was driving down a road with a "plethora" of vintage signs. i was now more focused on the signs then i was on my "prize." i did eventually make it to the station. as i claimed my disks at the reception desk, i rummaged through my "man purse" to check to see if i had brought my camera. finding out i had, i got in my truck, and headed back home, taking pictures of every sign i could find. to bring this experience full circle, i opened one of the cd's and blasted "more then a feeling" over my speakers.

the disk was on it's last track by the time i snapped my final shot. the journey left me with some great pictures and a friendly conversation delivery guy from "kim huongs oriental restaurant". needless to say, i feel my real prize was discovering a few more roadside gems in the greater wichita area, and not so much the boston.