Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Visual Inspiration: Vulgar display of power outlets

First of all, I really like the coffee shop in which I took these photos.  I like their food and coffee, the decor is great, and the environment overall is great.  It's a fantastic place to people watch, have a great, locally-sourced snack, read or work quietly, or hang out with friends. Below is an art wall towards the back of the coffee shop. I love these laminate panels with exposed fasteners (note to self: find out what these are made of and put them in a future hospital), and I love that the art is the same size as the panels.

Wait, what's that just above...right in those two panels...?

Are you kidding me?!  Are those power outlets??

Yes. Yes, those are poorly-located power outlets. This shop just renovated and did interior repairs due to a water main break, and yet no one fixed this?  No one moved these outlets, even to the middle of a panel where you could replace the stainless steel cover plates with white and kinda-sorta camouflage them?

*sigh* Can I get some Bailey's in my coffee?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The arc of justice is long, but it's wide. MLK Jr.

People, I never thought I'd see the day when I would type or utter the following words.

Gregg is leaving Design Associates.

Yes, Gregg, who was mentioned as being a nuisance and unsupportive to work with when the management consultant visited our office last year. Gregg, the do-nothing manager who is the reason Guy left DA almost six years ago. Gregg's last day will be sometime in early June, or so it has been said by two separate people in our office, and then confirmed by Norman, an associate at DA.  

No word on why.  No word on where he's going.  (The scuttlebutt is that he's going to be a sole practitioner, which makes sense given that I doubt any firm would have him or keep him for more than a few months after they realize how unhelpful he tends to be.)  But after several people complained about him in the management survey, an admin person refused to work with him, and another quit rather than work with him, I think it became clear that it was time for him to go.  He could leave easy, or he could leave hard.  Looks like he chose easy.  No surprise there.

More scuttlebutt and updates to come.  I'm trying to get a deadline handled for next week, and I'm worn slap out.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Calling all architects: What makes a good (or annoying) engineer?

I've been thinking about this for a while, but I'm wondering if my experiences are the same as everyone else's out there.  Hence, I want to poll the archipeeps amongst my tens of readers: what do engineers do that make you want to work with them, and what do they do that makes you run screaming for the door?  What does an engineer (or an engineering firm) do that makes you recommend them or not recommend them to other architects (or to clients who just need MEP work done)?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Visual Inspiration: Your fake brick is showing

I was walking through Cherry Creek recently when I happened upon this alley, onto which fronted the garage access for some very nice condo/townhome units.  When I say nice, I mean  probably not costing less than $700,000 each, two- and three-car garages for each unit, a few blocks from the convenience and bustle of Cherry Creek North.

One of the them appeared to be undergoing some, what?

Let's get a close up of that corner there where the wall and roof meet, shall we?

Jesus, Mary, and Mario Botta help us: that's brick veneer.  It's what we call "lick-and-stick", when a 3/4" or so thick slice of brick is stuck to a grouted surface, the way you might do ceramic tile on a bathroom wall.  The surface now has the look of real, 3"+ thick brick in your wall, but it isn't.  It's a cheap imitation.  Now, to be fair, the lick-and-stick veneer is budget-friendly and also puts less weight (and therefore structural strain) on a building's exterior, and it's not a bad idea if you're doing a brick-looking wall indoors, but don't need the weight and structural heft of a brick, but I still find thin brick veneer to be craptastic.

John Ruskin-ish of me or not, it's dishonest in the most ethical sense.  People have a sense of what brick costs, in that it probably costs more than stucco (and it does), and when they see brick, they have an expectation of how nice, how expensive, and how high-quality the building is upon which they gaze.  Thin brick is the egg tempera mask that an aging Queen Elizabeth I wore in her dotage in an attempt to look young and vibrant.  Thin brick is two pairs of Spanx on your blind date, a borrowed Canali suit on a pizza delivery guy out in a nightclub posing as a playa.  It's a dishonest and inaccurate expression on the cost and craftsmanship of a building.  Someone spent the bare minimum to build it and charged the maximum they could for this cheaptastic building, and they walked off with mad cash.

And the architect, by the way, got none of that mad cash.  The architect was paid for work done, maybe even revamped to be cheaper ("We can't afford brick, so let's use, EIFS! That's perfect!  Come on, stop crying, it'll look fine.").  The architect downed some cheap scotch, finished the drawings, stamped them, and then walked away.  The contractor slapped it together (and also might have been cheated out of the chance to build something really cool, by the way, because contractors do like a challenge now and again), and the developer made a handy profit, selling a thin-brick veneer to unwary yuppies who think they live in a castle when it's really a 2x4 box.  (The developer also probably spent most of the money on finishes inside the building, which means that the owners look at polished granite counters and stainless steel appliances while the rest of the world has to look at a barely-mediocre exterior, which is a disservice to culture and humanity, but that's a rant for a different post.)

So, yes, thin-brick veneer on a building--any building--irritates me because it's dishonest to so many people: the architect, the homeowners, and the public.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

App-etite for distraction, part 2

So I posted a while back about my new smartphone app friend called Lose It!, which I employed in my pursuit of being in better shape. I thought that for grins, I'd see if I could get from 122, my usual weight, down to 119. Being 119 most of the time would make my clothes fit well and give me a little room to have a big meal now and again and not have to loosen my belt. (And before anybody gets smart-assy about being 122 in the first place, remember that I'm only 5'-0", so every pound on me looks like 2 or 3 on someone who's 5'-4" or taller.) So, I set the Lose It! app for a goal weight of 119 and a goal of losing 1/2 lb every week. It said I could reasonably reach my goal in six weeks.

I did it in three.

Three weeks after I started, I hit 118.4 lbs. Hooray! I celebrated momentarily and went on my way, enjoying food and life and making sure that I was staying within my calorie budget each day. The next week, I weighed 117.4 lbs. Hunh? It was another week before Queen Dumbass realized that she forgot to reset the Lose It! app to maintain weight, not to keep losing 1/2 lbs/week. Derp! I reset it to maintain, oh what the hell, 117 lbs. It added 250 calories to my day, which thrilled me. I recall shouting to Guy, "Yeah, muthafucka, I'mma have some cookies!" I stayed within my new budget and kept on enjoying food and life.

The next week, I weighed 116 lbs.

The next week, I weighed 115.4 lbs.


So I took a rest week where I did yoga instead of cardio and weights for two days, and I went to 117.2.  Good news, right? Then I went back to my usual workouts, and I recently weighed 114.6.

Whaaat? I haven't weighed that since...high school?  Junior high, even?

So now I'm left to contend with two possibilities: one, I've turned my mostly-harmless efforts to get healthy into a fun little eating disorder; or two, I had been doing the same workout and eating the same way for so long that this was the jump start I needed for my metabolism. On the one hand, when I see at the end of the day that I have calories left to burn, sometimes I'm not hungry. Other times, I'm not sure I want to eat food that's high in sugar and fat just so I can use up my budget for the day. But there's also a part of me that just wants the gold star every day--not to go over my calorie budget.

As usual, I met up with longtime friend Vinnie, erstwhile antiques dealer and psychologist, and explained my predicament.  (No one understands the psychophysiological seesaw that is fitness and body obsession like a gay man with 30+ years of experience as a therapist.)  When I was finished, Vinnie just shrugged.  "Look," he replied. "The good news is that if you're not really craving sugar or fat or salt at the end of the day, then you've likely trained your body not to want it. There's been research that shows that you can train your body not to want and crave sugar and fat all the time, the way that we do in modern life.  If you're feeding yourself well and healthy, and your stomach isn't growling by the end of the day, then it sounds like you've just gotten yourself used to eating healthy, Pix."

"And your workouts seem decent enough," he continued."You're not doing more than an hour a day, right? So most of your day is being spent living, not being an exercise bulimic.  When it gets unhealthy, you'll know.  I've known you for ten years, and you know when to stop a bad behavior."

Fair enough. I know that tracking what I eat makes me conscious of how healthy or unhealthy my recipes are, but I also have to stay a good judge of what actually works.  I recently slimmed down my turkey enchiladas to the point that they just weren't filling anymore.  They tasted okay, but there just wasn't enough food to fill me up. So I'm still tinkering with that recipe (among others), and I'm experimenting with lunch.  The week I went to 114.6, I ate lunch at a restaurant three times, and only once was a salad (the other two were a burger and a chicken sammitch with avocado--NOM).  And a few nights ago when Guy got back into town, we had Ghirardelli brownies and frozen yogurt for dessert. Also interesting to me is that I don't crave alcohol the way I used to.  There was a time in January and February when I was working a lot, and every night I'd have a little glass of wine.  But no more, not even after having a day from hell--no real interest in having a sip. It makes having a glass at the occasional nice dinner feel great, like a real reward, instead of just a coping mechanism or a quasi-reward, the way people with spending problems will buy stuff constantly and say "I work hard so I deserve this".  It feels good.  I feel good.  And when it stops working, I'll stop.