Friday, April 30, 2004

I'm afraid of dogs.

And that's enough about that.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

I'm beginning to understand....

...why the second-to-last therapist I saw told me I had OCD "like" behaviors. I'm wondering if she didn't miss the only chance anyone will ever have to pin me down with a real diagnosis.

Finished.

I finally finished my work for my very last design class. Yeah, I turned it in two days late, but so what? I doubt the instructor has even looked at the last set of drawings I sent her. I made a vow not to complain about this class in public, but sometimes I just can't help myself. Case in point: yesterday I got an envelope from the department in the mail, and I thought, "Finally! I haven't gotten any assignments back all semester, it's about time." Too bad that everything in the envelope was from *last* semester. One was dated August 28, 2003, in fact. I have the lamest instructor ever, I swear.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Channeling Della Street.

It's take a lot of work to be an assistant, I find. Sometimes I think my number one duty at work is to be amenable and agreeable, even at eight o'clock in the morning. Sometimes I also think I should be more ambitious, that I should aspire to be the architect instead of the drafthorse, but really, the only consistent piece of my career development has been my desire to be someone's assistant. When I was in high school, I figured I'd be an administrative assistant. In college, I thought maybe a personal assistant to an author. In graduate school, I decided I'd just as soon be a research assistant as anything else. So, design assistant isn't really too far off the path I've so far tread.

Anyway, I spent 90% of my week trying to figure out how old buildings are put together. Monday and Tuesday were really stressful because Louis wanted me to do a section of the existing storefront, and I no idea what I was supposed to be drawing. It's very difficult to draw something hidden from view behind drywall and a tin ceiling, and even after Louis sketched out what he thought might be holding up the brick facade, I had to take two trips down to the building to puzzle through what he was trying to show me. And I took another trip down the street after I started drawing elevations, because I couldn't envision the coved ceiling by myself. I'm to the point where I know now what I'm supposed to be drawing, but I can't imagine what comes next after I finish the elevations and enlarged floor plans on Monday. I guess that's what the architect is for, he has a greater vision of the project.

I actually look forward to the other 10% of my job, all the odd administrative tasks that need to be done. It gets me away from the computer screen and away from thinking about the design. Louis does all the books, of course, and all the project planning. I'm slightly better at getting paperwork put away than he is, so I find myself scooping stuff off his desk and clipping into folders every now and then. I do a lot of last minute printing and running bluelines, and I do most of the running between our office, the blueprint shop, and the FedEx office. I seem to be doing all the FedEx labeling and transmittal printing. It did occur to us this week that I could sign transmittals my self, but there's something very satisfying about fanning a stack of papers across Louis' desk and telling him to "Sign this, this, and this and here's a pen." It makes me feel immediately useful, and that's not a bad way to feel.

Always goodbye.

That's the problem with life in academic circles. I almost hate to get to know people, as the minute I decide they're interesting and fun, they finish up their programs/positions and move on to another university. Two farewells this week, evening meals wedged into busy schedules before the final departure. A lot of "if you ever get to Texas...Boston...Korea...[insert destination here]" in our lives, and I find it tedious.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Did I mention I'm afraid of heights?

Apparently I didn't mention it to Louis, which is how I found myself on top of a 12-foot ladder in an empty building trying to take field measurements this afternoon. My pulse starts racing about four feet off the ground. Using a tape measure just under a 13'-11" ceiling whilst simultaneously holding a notepad in one hand is almost enough to paralyze me. Just thinking about it turns my stomach.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Not a stellar performance.

So, yesterday I made my first real mistake at work. Louis was completely cool about it because it was mostly understandable, but the end result was: I lost all the work I did for Eddie Bauer on Monday afternoon. We opened the file to make one small change before overnighting one last set of construction documents to the corporate office, and realized none of the changes I had made earlier were there. It took us a long time--and a 3 a.m. revelation on my part--to realize what happened, and I don't feel too bad about it now that I understand how it happened, but I was a little stressed yesterday afternoon trying to redo all the work. Not just re-do the work, but plot the drawings, run them to the blueprint shop for copies, print out transmittals and Fed Ex forms, pick up the copies, and get four sets in the Fed Ex box before 5:00. Since it was after 1:00 when we realized I had lost the work from Monday, it was a tough task. I wasn't sure I was going to make it, especially since I didn't even leave for the blueprint shop until 4:15, but the guy at Roseberry's was very cool and instantly went to work running me 9 sets of bluelines. So I thank him very much.

This afternoon I made the world's most boring document, a door inventory for the children's museum. We're applying for a grant to make the renovated building handicapped accessible, and as part of it, we have to send in an inventory of every existing door, with description, date and a photograph. So, I photographed 45 boring white doors today, which is such a waste of time, since only two of the existing doors will exist in the new building. I guess they want to make sure we aren't tearing out something historic, but you'd think we could write a general note covering them all, saying, "There are 45 c. 1985 residential grade hollow-core doors in poor condition here. We're not keeping them." Anyway, tomorrow I get to write the documentation in narrative form, plus respond to a whole bunch of other grant-proposal kind of things. Something new, but not necessarily something exciting.

The street outside the office is covered with blossom petals, blown by a warm spring wind from nearby cherry trees.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Sweet smell of ammonia.

The blueprint shop that does the majority of our copying is ventilated. Our office is not. So, when you need to make a set of bluelines, you just have to suck it up...the ammonia, that is. At least it lets you know you're alive.

An absolutely unhelpful description of the process.

Not enough hours in the day.

Today I worked nine and a half hours. That doesn't really sound like much, but once I added the commute on top of it, it *was* much. There's just not enough time to get everything done. Five hours of the day were taken up meeting with the exhibit designers who will be doing the design for the children's museum one which we're working. Children's museums are kind of funny things, they're like the institutional form of playdates: make an appointment for your kids to be creative.

A whole lotta people came over from the Cincinnati Museum Center to spend some time in the space and mark up exhibit locations and things like that. The CMC has some great exhibits (although I have to admit I pretty much raced through the children's section, since I have none of my own), and I think the designers will do a good job with our museum. It was really pretty interesting, watching these people do something I know absolutely nothing about. I did participate here and there (pretty vocal on my terrarium views), but mostly it was a learning experience.

So, that was most of my day, and the rest was spent running around getting blueprints made and plan review forms signed and things Fed-Ex'ed all over the country. Now I'm so tired I'm not even sure I can stay awake to try one of these peanut butter toffee cookies Catherine just started making. I might just go to bed right now.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Thank god for Chinese food.

Otherwise I might have had to cook dinner tonight, since I was stupid enough to volunteer to do it.

Spent a good chunk of the early evening trying to figure out a way to visit our families this summer. I haven't seen my parents in over a year now, so we've really got to do it soon. My tax refund is marked for airfare, and we'll worry about the rest of the expenses later.

One thing we'd like to be able to do is take an extra day between visiting Catherine's parents and visiting mine and spend the night in Goldendale, WA. And no, I'm not crazy. It's just that there's an observatory in Goldendale, and I've never been there. It has public programs Wed-Sun in the summer, and I think we might be able to fit it in, both financially and temporally. That would be really, really cool. We both want to do it so much we actually got into an argument about it tonight because we were both thinking we couldn't do it and were disappointed and grouchy.

Some day when we've got all the time and money in the world, we're going to run around the country visiting cool astronomy sites (this was Catherine's idea, I swear). I would really like to tour the Very Large Array, and it would be cool to go to places like Kitt Peak. And apparently there's a growing B&B industry, with places like this that cater to astronomy folk. If only we were millionaires.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Ten thousand errands.


  • Go to bank, deposit pay check, have power of attorney for the insurance company notarized.
  • Go to Goodwill, search unsuccessfully for a jacket. Vow to lose the 30 pounds I've gained since August.
  • Go to Comfort Solutions, be amazed at the price of a futon.
  • Get a cup of coffee.
  • Go out to Ellettsville to Cedar Bluffs. Talk to the people about frost dates and top soil. Buy an onion set.
  • Go to futon store in town. Be amazed at how inexpensive a basic black steel frame can be. Arrange to purchase one.
  • Go to library, check out some books on CD and a VHS copy of Super Bridge.
  • Go to Vance Music, talk to Bobby about starting drum lessons again at the end of next month.
  • Go to candy store, get some candy for Easter.
  • Call my parents, put their mind at ease about your employement status. Talk hockey with the mom for 25 minutes.
  • Give my neighbors chocolate bunnies and a pastry brush as a bribe.
  • Return to futon store. Stuff a frame and futon into our amazingly capacious sedan.
  • Return home, call in that bribe from your neighbors. Watch them help my partner get the new futon into the living room.
  • Work on secret project for an hour.
  • Check my e-mail.
  • Make a list in my journal.
  • Spend the rest of the evening watching Perry Mason re-runs.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Of interest only to me.

The only thing to write about these days is work, I suppose, but I don't think most people would find a discussion on demising walls in retail spaces very interesting, so there's no point in typing it out. Today I finished the Reebok redemise and the Eddie Bauer demise/interiors, and now I can move onto other things. Hopefully Monday our attention will be returned fully to the children's museum project, but there are a few other little projects hovering just outside our peripheral vision.

Anyway. I apparently have a good work ethic for this type of work, in that I tend to sit in front of the computer and point and click and point and click until the whole design is finished. At least my boss thinks I'm doing a good job. I was kind of wondering, at one point this week he really seemed to be saying that I needed to be working more quickly, but I guess he's over that. I feel like I got an incredible amount of work done in five days, but I could be wrong, I'm not sure what his expectations really are.

Other than that, I'm spending a whole lot of time not thinking. Focus for 8-9 hours of work, semi-focus for the commute, out of focus at all other times. This is probably how most people go through life, taking care of the work day and letting the rest go, to be taken care of by someone else who cares a little bit more about the world.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Small relief.

Today completes my fourth week at work, and my boss has decided to keep me. To wit, he just gave me a 30% raise, which is exactly what I needed to cover my student loans when they kick in next month. So, still no disposable income involved, but at least I can pay back some of the money I owe.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Oh my.

For the person who hit my web page during a Google search on "How to choose a dissertation topic": If you're trying to figure that out using a search engine, you're in deep, deep trouble. Sorry.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

So cool.

World Myths & Legends in Art.

The other day, I was having dinner w/another art historian, Henry, and we got to talking about Pre-Raphaelite painting. I mentioned that there was one painting that I really wanted to see, but of course I couldn't remember anything about it. I saw a slide of it once in an art history class 13 or 14 years ago, and all I really remembered was that it was of a family, and the children were playing w/toy animals on the father's lap, and the animals were supposed to be symbolic of the nations involved in some war or other. Was it a Balkan war? I couldn't quite remember. Henry posited it that it was probably the Crimean War, which sounded just right to me, so we started digging through all the art books on the shelves trying to find this painting because he had never seen it.

No luck. I forgot about it for a bit, but just now spent some time looking for it on the internet. After a few false starts, I finally found it, and not only that, I found the coolest web site describing it. The site has a photo of the painting w/rollover features. Point the mouse at the appropriate part of the painting (not the smaller image at the top of the page, but the larger one a little down on the right) and a detail pops to the foreground. It is an excellent use of scripting language, it really is.

So, I give you Sir John Everett Millais's Peace Concluded, one of only a handful of Pre-Raphaelite paintings I'd walk across the street to look at.

Fresh air.

I took my first post-surgery walk today, just around the nature trail at Thomson Park, maybe a mile altogether. It's astonishing how difficult it was, and I can see it's going to be awhile before I'll be really healthy again. Still, it was nice to get out in the spring weather and at least stretch my legs a bit.

Friday, April 02, 2004