25 October 2010

Cause. And Effect.

1.  Work with line.
2.  Work with 10x10 unit.
3.  Build up line to suggest depth.
4.  Build up line to suggest curves.
5.  Work solely with straight lines.
6.  Work with line quantities in multiples of 40.
7.  Use a geometric series based on 2 to create the basis for density gradients.
8.  Locate all elements on center to one another.
9.  Lay out grid based on 10x10 module.
10.  All elements to be either parallel or normal to one another.  No tangents.
11. All elements, combinations, and notation to be located on center at vertices within the grid.
12.  Locate all notation within the grid.
13.  No scaling; all 2 components to be smaller than 1 components but with internal lines still proportional to whole.
14.  Only one turn is allowed in each path from component to combination.

Decisions that needed to have been incorporated:
1.  Use line quantities in multiples of 50.
2.  Determine notation size based on 10x10 unit.
3.  Determine ratio of 2 components to 1 components (1:2?).
4.  Use rational organization between 1s and 2s; same relationship between A-A', B-B', C-C'.
5.  Create congruent logic on the placement of all notations.
6.  Refine the grid to another 1 or 2 degrees.
7.  Use grid to build depth within the drawing.
8.  Make each path from component to combination unique.
9. Create opaque field around each component/combination so that lines do not reach actual centers.  (Or, not?)

The result:

after_thought as common noun: Galatea is her name

Oh, after_thought.  You and I struggled, and I don't think either of us won; but the good thing is, neither of us lost, either. 

Here's what happened.

What started as an innocent exercise in lasercutting got entirely out of hand. 

I started with two small (4"x8") sheets of basswood and cut small rhomboids out of them.  No particular pattern; just a smattering of tiny diamonds.  I was instantly fascinated by how the extensive but small-seeming removal made the basswood behave differently; it became more flexible, acting more like fabric or paper than wood.

In further testing different patterns and densities, I discovered that layering them produced hypnotic effects.  It became a compelling activity simply to sit and move them back and forth in front of one another.  Two identical diamond fields began to produce new patterns; they reshaped the world behind them; I had know know more.

Further tests into material (limited, due to machinic constraints, to acrylic and chipboard) yielded the knowledge that patterns got lost in the clear material, even when sanded or painted; the chipboard, however, was a gold mine.  I dropped the basswood and did my best to go all the way with chipboard: back to the densities, over a dozen colors, trying to find a logic behind the sizes of the apertures.  I dropped the rhomboid (though it would have been nice to keep it) and moved to a circle; it was the cleanest script I could find for raster images, and since I have not yet learned to script myself, it was an acceptable substitute.

Words do not describe the ongoing fascination I had in your early stages.  Those dots!  Those hypnotic, sensual, decadent fields of just-barely-differentiated circles!  I'm going back to that, Galatea, and the smaller scale that made them so captivating.  Come with me, my lovely.  Show me how to draw you out.

27 September 2010

No Edward Tufte, But Not Bad

I worked really hard on the graphics above and, while I feel like they're fairly clear, and visually somewhat interesting, they're still lacking punch.  In thinking about what that could be, I could have layered in more information (what?), which in turn would have allowed me to layer line weights (how?), which would have both allowed for and necessitated a closer reading of the graphs.  As they are, they're interesting and maybe a little funny, and hopefully I'll do the next ones better.

Gentle Reader: any suggestions?

22 September 2010

Working Speed

I would like to increase mine.

The last project for studio was a video.  We filmed, filmed, filmed; got into the editing software a little bit so we could put together a draft or two; filmed, filmed, filmed, filmed some more; and then the last evening sat down to the video and audio editing.  I'm pretty happy with the final product; but since we really only took one solid thwack at editing, I wish we'd stopped iterating a couple of days before (okay, I REALLY wish this, but process is not entirely under your control when working in groups), or rather, gone through fewer iterations during the creation process and more during the editing process.

roadrunner chick. obviously.
This is true across the board.  This happened with every project last year, and now this.  I'd like to just stop earlier, but I never have material that I'm happy with until the balls-to-the-wall end; so I'd like to work faster and start editing sooner so that I have a final product that is more carefully crafted than that to which I've accustomed myself.  I have a few colleagues who are very good at this.  I'm not quite sure how to emulate them, but I will be trying.

P.S. Posted this and then realized someone might want to see the abovementioned movie.  Here, in all its world debut glory, is "Corpus Ex Machina".

14 September 2010

Studio smiley face

I probably should have posted this before the mind dump, although in retrospect this is probably even more appropriate.  I wanted to take a moment to register a new approach to the coming year of studio; namely, studio smiley face.  When I was updating my calendar for the coming academic semester and adding in my courses, I filled in the studio block and the mere mention of the word and time slot made my chest heavy, my heart race, my breath erratic.  But - I love architecture!  I love what I'm learning!  I don't want the phenomenon of studio, which has in the past baffled and frustrated me beyond measure, to be this sysiphean effort.

With that in mind, I started crafting an attitude towards studio that more closely approximates my natural inclinations.  I am excited; I am looking forward to the chance to challenge myself and lead myself into uncharted, maybe even scary, waters, remembering that we learn little from our successes and everything from our failures; I am remembering to be grateful for these next two years when my only responsibilities are to explore and learn.

With this kind of foundation, how could the "studio" entry be just that?  So, it isn't.  It is now "Studio! :)"; or, in everyday parlance, studio smiley face.

In closing is an image I ran across a few weeks ago that really seems to drive my feeling towards the studio beast home.

Post-studio mind dump

artists to know:
Robert Wilson and his VOOM portraits (Brad Pitt)
Jenny Holzer and her textual installations

Yves Klein and his over-the-top use of an eponymous blue
Matthew Barney and his...I have no idea how to describe them.

"Reasons For Knocking At An Empty House" - it's a book title, also simply an elegant thought.

definition of disable:
1. To deprive of legal right, qualification, or capacity;
2. To make incapable or ineffective; especially: to deprive of physical, moral, or intellectual strength.

etymology of video:
From Latin video "I see", first person singular present indicative of videre "to see".

interestingly, infrastructure and nymphostructure sound very similar.

05 August 2010


I have to admit, I remember reading about follies in school and being dismissive of them.  How decadent!  How unnecessarily indulgent!  How foolish!  I stumbled across this, however, and I find myself totally delighted by it.  It's well-designed; the materials are simple and integral; and, in my opinion, the object itself is attractive.  Hooray for this bit of indulgently decadent bit of unnecessity!


14 July 2010

I, Pencil: My Family Tree

as told to Leonard E. Reed.
I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.*
Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do.
You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."
I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.
Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.
Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there's some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Innumerable Antecedents

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.
My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!
The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.
Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill's power!
Don't overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation.
Once in the pencil factory—$4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine—each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop—a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this "wood-clinched" sandwich.
My "lead" itself—it contains no lead at all—is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth—and the harbor pilots.
The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow—animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions—as from a sausage grinder-cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats.
My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involve the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!
Observe the labeling. That's a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black?
My bit of metal—the ferrule—is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.
Then there's my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as "the plug," the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called "factice" is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape-seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment which gives "the plug" its color is cadmium sulfide.

No One Knows

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?
Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn't a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field—paraffin being a by-product of petroleum.
Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

No Master Mind

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.
It has been said that "only God can make a tree." Why do we agree with this? Isn't it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!
I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies—millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.
The above is what I meant when writing, "If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing." For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand—that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.
Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn't know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation's mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental "master-minding."

Testimony Galore

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it's all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person's home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one's range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard—halfway around the world—for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!
The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited.Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.
* My official name is "Mongol 482." My many ingredients are assembled, fabricated, and finished by Eberhard Faber Pencil Company.

10 July 2010

An unexpected delight

I stumbled across the following website in the pursuit of who knows what kind of research.  It's a jewel!


24 June 2010

To you

In thinking about my successes of the past year I would have to say that most of them rested on the people around me.  Rather than try describe it, I'm going to write a few thank-you notes to anonymous recipients.  Those for whom they are intended, you may or may not recognize yourselves; you thought you were just doing your thing, but to me, you were heroes.

To the motivational speaker: your generosity of spirit and encouragement were constant and genuine.  I was astonished that someone with so much talent and such an unflagging work ethic could be so quick to find value in the efforts of others.  I took your friendship as a high compliment and any insights you had on your work very seriously, and hope to emulate you more and more closely as I grow in my self and in my work.

To the machine: you made me laugh, you irritated the shit out of me, you answered a boatload of questions and you were even right most of the time.  With you I experienced my first blackout, my first drive in snow (not even close to the same month, Mom, don't worry), my first three sleepless nights in a row, and a bunch of other stuff that was a lot less unpleasant than it should have been.  As fun as you are, you were also a bedrock.  When I had to come to you for help, you were steadfast and unquestioning; you offered whatever I needed for as long as I needed it, and it turned out that that - just the offer - was exactly what I needed.  You provided that, and I will always be grateful.

To the artist: you are learning to have confidence in your beautiful spirit and I am so glad.  No one could deserve it more.  For me, you were an escape, a way to enjoy a few minutes in my life at a very confusing time, a beacon of friendship in days and months awash with uncertainty.  You are unique in my life in that you continue to surprise and impress me with unexpected strength and perceptiveness, and remind me in countless ways that though I may feel a thousand years old sometimes, I have so much more to experience of the world.  Thank you for the beauty and friendship you bring to my life.  You enhance it so much more than you will ever know.

To the stargazer: for all that you are, for all that you've said, for all that you've done.  Thank you for everything.  You define the bigness of that word.

To the friend I lost: The best parts of me are the ones that you influenced.  Thanks for sharing yourself with me in the time that you had.  I will always miss you, and I will always love you.

Albert Einstein said, "If I have seen farther than others, it's because I stood on the shoulders of giants."  I dedicate with earnest gratitude my efforts of the coming year to you.  I will work harder; I will be more confident; I will have more faith.  I will do these things, but if I kick ass it will be because you've been a part of it.

To you.

25 May 2010

Reminder to self

Correspondence: Farewell

Gentle Library,
It has been almost a month now since I bid you adieu.  I sort of left you hanging with the last letter; I was so caught up in addressing all of the questions it inspired that I didn't have time to talk with you about it!  At this point, I'd just like to conclude our relationship by musing on our correspondence, and then this chapter can be closed in both our lives.

I'd like to begin by acknowledging how very helpful that correspondence was.  It helped me to distill all of the things I was thinking about into concrete ideas.  The mere act of coalescing the mental miasma into something coherent began to suggest direction by the time the words flowed onto the screen.  This was helpful in managing how overwhelming the process seemed and kept the work moving forward.

One aspect that I think has yet to be resolved is how to balance the proportion between analysis and action.  This writing, Gentle Library, it does take time!  It's difficult to still oneself and one's mind - all right, dear Library, it is difficult for me to still myself and my mind - I feel like it is not productive action if it does not involve frenetic activity.  But that isn't right, and I know it.  Henry Ford (have I already told you this?) has said that for every moment of action there must be an hour of thought.  I think the spirit of that is right but that it could be tweaked: that for every hour of action, there must be a moment of thought.  That is why the proportion is perplexing to me; once I begin to think about something, I get carried away, and I lose sense of how much time it will take to explore any particular idea, let alone design and develop them with any degree of success.  Oh, well; one more aspect of the process to understand so that I may exploit it to greatest effectiveness.

Interesting thought: what if our correspondence had not been me to you, but you to me?  Intriguing.  Perhaps next project...

Regardless, thank you for your participation; for listening, for offering suggestions, for taking part in this first experiment.  Let's make each other a promise: next time, let's get down and a little dirtier in our letters, okay?  I'll get naughty if you will.


your architect

23 May 2010

Loyola University New Orleans 2010 Unified Commencement Keynote Speech

by Drew Brees

Thank you.

What an honor it is to be here.  Thank you to Father Wildes, distinguished faculty, esteemed trustees, and guests, and of course the 2010 graduating class here at  Loyola University.  I'll be honest; I was a little nervous about using "distinguished" and "esteemed" in the same sentence, because I thought it would come out "extinguished", and that is not the description I wanted to use.  Certainly you are all distinguished and esteemed, and it is an honor to be here.

You know, we have a lot in common.  Most of us came to New Orleans around the same time, the spring or summer of 2006, when that was not the most popular thing to do.  For me, I felt like coming to New Orleans was a calling; and for you, there must have been something drawing you here as well, a much stronger force that we can't necessarily describe other than we know that we belonged here.  And now, four years later, we can reflect back and say that we were a part of something special.  Certainly the work is not done yet, but we were a part of something special.  We've all watched the city not just come back, but come back stronger than ever.  And we have seen the people come back with more passion and determination than before.  And we've all been part of the SuperBowl championship.  (Definitely couldn't leave that one out.)  No matter where you're from or where you go from here, keep New Orleans close to your heart, and remember what you were a part of, and know that we are now all linked together forever.

As I look out at the young men and women graduates of Loyola University, class of 2010, I am so excited for you all.  What you are about to experience will be eye-opening, certainly rewarding, challenging at times.  You know. they say that experience is what you gain when you don't get what you want.  I can promise you that over the next few years you will gain experience; you will not always get what you want; you will face adversity.  But know that the sky is the limit as to what you all can accomplish.  There are some of you that will be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers, artists, teachers, coaches, entrepreneurs, inventors, and maybe one of you will even own an NFL franchise someday.  I know another Loyola University member who does, that's Mr. Tom Benson.

But I can tell you this.  Your best years are yet to come.  But that does not mean it's going to be easy.  In fact I can guarantee you that you will face adversity along the way; and for most of you, it will be the toughest thing you've ever had to face in your life.  But I'll also tell you that every successful person you meet or talk to will say that it was because of that adversity that they were given the opportunity to reach new heights that they never thought possible.  For me, it was my shoulder injury back in 2005.  December 31st, 2005.  I was playing for the San Diego Chargers.  I dislocated my right shoulder going into a season, or an off-season in which I did not have a contract.  I did not have a job.  And when you have that kind of injury at the quarterback position, there's not that many people that come calling or knocking.  So at the time, I thought, this is probably the worst thing that could have ever happened to me.  But now, I look back at it four years later, and I say, it was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me, because it brought me to New Orleans.  There are many others that have faced that adversity and that have been in those similar circumstances or situations.  I'll give you a few examples.

Steve Jobs.  You might know him; CEO of Apple.  He was adopted as a young baby.  He went to college and dropped out after his first year.  He ended up then inventing, or starting, Apple along with a partner of his when he was 20 years old in his basement.  But then, by age 30, he was fired from his position as CEO when he had a falling out with his partner and with the Board at Apple.  For the next few years, there was some soul-searching for him, but in the end he ended up starting another company - you might have heard of it: Pixar Animation - which ended up getting bought out by Disney for almost $8 billion; and then another company that Apple ended up buying a few years later for 500 million.  Then he was right back where he was years before, 20 years before, as the CEO of Apple; and there he is today, doing some absolutely remarkable things.  But what he would say, and what I've heard him say, is that it was that adversity that he faced when he was kicked to the curb, so to speak, from the company that he founded where he really gained strength and yet more motivation to go forth and do remarkable things, things that he would not have been able to accomplish had he not gone through what he went through at age 30.

Another example, Ellen DeGeneres.  We all know Ellen; she grew up right down the road.  She used to go to Saints games at halftime at the old Tulane Stadium.  I've heard Ellen talk about the moment when she came out and announced that she was gay.  At that point she was having a pretty sex - successful career.  (A little slip.)  She was having a pretty successful career.  And then once she announced that, she - for three years she was out of work.  People would not give her the opportunities that they had before.  To her, that was the toughest thing she ever had to go through; but in the end, she was being true to herself.  She then received a small opportunity, to perhaps host her own TV show, her own talk show.  I think we all know how that's gone.  She is perhaps one of the most, if not the most, successful talk show host in history.  Certainly by being a New Orleanian we love her to death, we know what she's meant to this community; not only to our community, but to the country and to the world, she is a source of inspiration, and somebody who would sit here and tell you that had she not gone through what she went through during those three years, that she would not be where she is today.  So once again, the lesson being that adversity is an opportunity.  Adversity will make you stronger.  Adversity will mold you into the person that you're meant to be.

You all probably remember the onside kick in the SuperBowl, right?  How could we forget that?  I'll tell you the story behind that.  You know, we had two weeks to prepare for the SuperBowl.  I remember Sean Payton came in to the meeting at the beginning of that two-week preparation for the SuperBowl and said, "We have an onside kick that we're putting in the plan, and it's not a matter of if we are going to run it, it's when we are going to run it.  It's gonna happen."  And sure enough, it did.  And it worked.  ...Thank God.  So the lesson there: it's not a matter of if you will face adversity in your life, but when.  So when adversity knocks on your door, seize it as an opportunity, for that adversity is being put in your life for a reason.  It is God's way of providing you with the strength and the tools to face future challenges and to mold you into the person that He meant for you to be.  In the end, it is this adversity that will allow you to accomplish things in life that you originally thought were reserved only for your dreams.

My second piece of advice to you is this.  Find what you love to do, and then figure out a way to get paid for it.  Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?   Find what you love to do, and then figure out a way to get paid for it.  Some of you out there think you know exactly what you want to do, and then there's others that probably have no idea.  And I can tell you this: that's okay.  Because in a year from now, those that think they know exactly what they want to do, they might not have any idea at that point; and those that don't know what to do, you might have found your passion by then.  But my point is, be patient, and don't settle.  The only way to do great work is to love what you do; and, as with every matter of the heart, you will know when you find it.

My third piece of advice is to approach every opportunity with an attitude of gratitude and a mindset that, whatever you encounter, you will leave it better than when you arrive.  We have all been part of that here in New Orleans; but why stop here?  In everything you do in life, leave your mark.  Leave your mark.  Be a great steward of the community, and to society and to whatever business you are involved; and understand that part of your purpose in life is to leave whatever you touch better than when you found it.  So leave your mark, and leave it better than when you found it.

Number four.  Life goes fast.  I was sitting in your seats ten years ago.  Now, it's hard to think that that was ten years ago, because it feels like it was yesterday.  I guess my point there is, don't forget to enjoy the moment and reflect back on the journey from time to time.  For me, standing on that podium after we won the SuperBowl was a moment - one of the defining moments of my life.  What made it even more special was the fact that I was holding my son; and the reflection on everything that we had been through - as a city, as a team - to get to that point.  And as we watched the confetti coming down and "World Champions" come across the JumboTron and looking out at the Who Dat Nation just going crazy, beads flying everywhere, we recognized what a journey that had been and how special that was.  There's no city, no organization, no group of people that deserve it more.  I promise you that.

But the journey's not over.  We want another one.

Also: don't forget to enjoy the little things in life.  Sometimes you get going so fast.  I feel like the last three months have been like that for me.  But don't forget to enjoy the little things in life.  Watching a sunset with the one that you love, taking a walk in Audubon Park, sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch watching the streetcars go by, throwing the ball with your child out in the front yard: you work too hard not to enjoy those little things.  So enjoy the little things.

My last piece of advice is, don't forget why you were put on this Earth.  Mayor Landrieu mentioned it earlier.  We were all put on this Earth to serve others.  Sometimes, the more successful that you get, people tend to forget that.  It becomes more about how they can serve you as opposed to how you can serve others.  So don't forget, no matter how successful you become - which you all will - to serve others.  As you all sit here on Graduation Day, I believe everyone can agree that we have all been blessed with some great opportunities in our lives.  Be appreciative and respectful of those opportunities, and never take them for granted.  And with that mindset, just think about being able to give back what has been given to you.  Take the time to make a difference in the life of somebody less fortunate.  It's amazing that the more generous you are and the more you choose to serve others, the happier you will be.

And now, for the words you've been waiting for: In Closing - I'd like to leave you with a quote.  (Oh, we're going to finish strong.  Don't worry.  We don't know any other way, so here we go.)

In closing, I want to leave you with a quote.  I could have chosen many profound quotes from Presidents, CEOs, philosophers; but I am choosing one from my grandfather.  He's 85 years old; he still lives on a ranch, herding cows, in East Texas.  His name is Ray Akins.  And a quote I heard all the time from him when I was growing up was this: "According to my grandpaw, there are three types of people in this world.  There are those that make it happen.  There are those that watch it happen.  And then there are those that wake up one day and say, 'What the heck happened?'  So which one are you?" is what he would tell me.

So I leave you today by first saying, Congratulations to the 2010 graduating class of Loyola University.

And now: let's go make it happen.

(link to the live version)

02 May 2010

Quotes about perfection

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.
 ~ Harriet Baker

Certain flaws are necessary for the whole.  
 ~ Goethe

Nothing that is complete breathes.
 ~ Antonio Porchia

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.
 ~ John Henry Newman

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.
 ~ Leonard Cohen

To escape criticism - do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
 ~ Elbert Hubbard

Only in grammar can you be more than perfect.
 ~ William Safire

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
 ~ Henry van Dyke

Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands.  But like the seafaring man on the desert of wateres, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.
 ~ Carl Schurz

Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect.
 ~ Chinese proverb

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.
 ~ Confucius
 (although I am not sure if I buy this.)

When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target.
 ~ George Fisher

Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence.
 ~ Rosalynn Carter

There are no perfect men in this world, only perfect intentions.
 ~ Pen Densham

The imperfections of a man, his frailties, his faults, are just as important as his virtues.  You can't separate them.  They're wedded.
 ~ Henry Miller

The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four.  Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye.
 ~ Winston Churchill

They say that nobody is perfect.  Then they tell you practice makes perfect.  I wish they'd make up their minds.
 ~ Wilt Chamberlain

Always live up to your standards - by lowering them, if necessary.
 ~ Mignon McLaughlin

He who hath not a dram of folly in his mixture hath pounds of much worse matter in his composition.
 ~ Charles Lamb

Even the best needles are not sharp at both ends.
 ~ Chinese proverb

The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light.
 ~ Matthew Arnold

Unless I accept my faults I will most certainly doubt my virtues.
 ~ Hugh Prather

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
 ~ Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.
 ~ Salvador Dali

I cling to my imperfection, as the very essence of my being.
 ~ Anatole France

Living up to ideals is like doing everyday work with your Sunday clothes on.
 ~ Ed Howe
 (I don't really understand this, but I'm looking forward to thinking about it.)

Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness.  We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways.
 ~ Samuel McChord Crothers

--courtesy of quotegarden.com

29 March 2010

Correspondence: Cosmo edition

Dear Library, 
Can we talk?  Let's talk.  About your clothes, and your complexion; your general appearance, gentle Library, must be addressed.  We are not being superficial; we are simply considering the entirety of your impact.

Let's talk about your skin first; your complexion is thus far unclear.  

What sort of palette do we have?  Let's think.  There's the naturals - stone, wood, limestone (which would be locally quarried, what could be earth-friendlier?).  There's the industrials - metal, glass, concrete.  And there's the synthetics - laminates, plastics, alloys.  All right.  I think we can go ahead and discard this last, at least for your skin; we'll return to it later if we decide to accessorize.  That leaves naturals and industrials.  Considering that the place is urban and modern, considering that this is an up-and-coming funky neighborhood, I think we should also discard strictly naturals.  We can incorporate them; maybe even prominently.  But not exclusively.  Okay, we're making good progress!  Keep thinking.  That leaves a combination of naturals and industrials, or strictly industrials.  I think we should go with the combination.  Although too much natural material leaves a place feeling rustic - absolutely not our intent, gentle Library, I know! - there is also the homey and comforting feelings it evokes when used in appropriate scales and proportions.  So let's keep these in mind.

There is more to discuss on that front, gentle Library, but let us leave this aside for a bit and let it simmer on the back burner, so to speak, as we discuss something else: just how dressed do we want you to be?  This is an issue of how much light to let in; how much visibility to allow, in and out; where to reveal and where to protect.  Oh, dear, gentle Library... I feel a diagram coming on.  All right.  Next step: to make a diagram of the parts of the program that need light and those that must eschew it, and possibly some sense of the gradation between.  It's possible that the sorts of programs in each particular area may then begin to suggest their own coverings.

You've done well, dear Library.  I'll complete this task - it's like a Cosmo quiz, for buildings - and come back to you with more questions soon.  

your architect

27 March 2010

The beginning of the correspondence

Dear Library,
I have been thinking about you a lot lately. The sort of thoughts that seem to swirl without coalescing in a particular direction if I don't talk about them, and that would take a LOT of talking, and it's hard to find ears with that much time. So I have decided to write to you, gentle Library, as a means of working some of these ideas out in a productive manner. ...hopefully the men in white jackets don't find these letters.

I am currently away from my sketchbook (and waiting for the first baseball game of the season to start) so my head is not as in the game at the moment as it could be. I will start by asking you two questions:
How do we make you civic but not institutional? As a corollary to that, I guess I need to decide just how welcoming I want to make you. Hmm. Welcoming, yes, but not a home away from home. How much of that is space and how much of that is materiality? Oops, that's an extra question.
Also: how do we make you public without being monumental? You're rather big right now - through no fault of your own, and you might even stay that way - but that's not the kind of experience we're trying to create for your visitors. Or is it, you tricky thing? Sometimes I think your intentions regarding your future differ from mine. I hope that we can compromise without a battle of the wills, gentle Library.

Okay. You ruminate. I'm going to cheer for the Diamond Wolverines - that doesn't ring nearly as well as the Diamond Dawgs; sometimes I miss Georgia in funny ways - and I'll get back to you in a little while on your thoughts.

your architect

24 March 2010

I give

Okay, Anya, I give.  You were right.

Problem:  Astronomical anxiety about not being prepared enough to present research and project development thus far to cohort and colleagues.

My proposed solution: presenting to a small group.

Anya's solution: bump up the presentation date by three days with 90 minutes' notice.

     1.  No time to question decisions; all presentation decisions were made and executed with little development between the two.  
     2.  No time to create new material.
     3.  Completely unrealistic expectations led to overload of anxiety fuse: tripped the breaker.
     4.  Frustration with lack of ability to prepare adequately* (*in my opinion) => it felt pointless to be invested in a 'final' product in which I had little confidence; divorced opinion about work from opinion about self.

     1.  There was only minor appreciable compromise of production quality.
     2.  No half-assed elements were present in presentation.
     3.  Short-circuit of anxiety fuse led to an unexpected serenity when presenting.  I felt like I was clear, concise, and comprehensive; the high value and relevance of the critics' feedback seems to reflect my perception.
     4.  I hate Anya for being so very right about changing the date on me.  Also I love her.

Moving forward:
     How can I short-circuit the anxiety fuse to begin with?  It never drives productivity, efficiency, or creativity in ways that are actually helpful.
     How can I better balance my time between big moves - design, presentation, layout - and fine-tuning?  I suspect I need an objective standard up against which I can hold up my work.  Does such a thing exist?  Can I create it?
     Never forget: I could always bag architecture school in favor of being a waitress instead.  Although after this project, I don't think I want waitress to be my backup career choice any more: I want to be a librarian.  Or a rocket scientist.  You know, something less stressful.

18 March 2010

You just can't make this stuff up

Some of the results from a Google search for universal signs and symbols.   I did not find what I sought, unfortunately; but some of these almost made up for it.

13 March 2010

why mehitabel jumped

well boss i saw
mehitabel the cat the other day
and she was looking a little
thin and haggard
with a limp in
the hind leg on the starboard
side old feline animal i said
how is tricks still in the
ring archy she said and still a
lady in spite of h dash double l
always jolly archy she said in
spite of hard luck
toujours gai is the word
archy toujours gai how did you
get the game leg mehitabel i asked her
alas she said it is due
to the treachery of
one of these social swells who
is sure one bad actor he was a
fussed up cat with a
bell around his neck on a
ribbon and the look about him of
a person that is currycombed and
manicured from teeth to
tail every day i met him
down by the east river
front when i was scouting
about for a little piece of fish since
the high cost of living has
become so self conscious archy
it would surprise you
how close they
watch their fish nowadays
but what the h dash double l archy
it is the cheerful heart that
wins i am never cast down for long
kid says this gilded
feline to me you look hungry i
am all of that i says to him i
have a vacuum in my midst
that is bigger than i am i
could eat the fish that ate
jonah kid he says you have
seen better days i can
tell that from looking at you thanks
i said what you say is at
least half true i have never
seen any worse ones and so
archy one word led to
another until that sleek villain
practically abducted me
and i went with him
on board a houseboat of which
he was the pampered mascot
such evidence of pomp and wealth archy
were there that you would not
believe them if i told of them to
you poor cockroach that you
are but these things were nothing to me
for i am a reincarnation of cleopatra
as i told you long ago you mean
her soul transmigrated to a cat s
body i said it is
all one archy said she have it your own
way reincarnation or transmigration
is the same to me the point is
i used to be a queen in
egypt and will likely be one again
this place was furnished swelly percy i
said the furniture is
fine and i could eat some of it if
i was a saw mill but
where is the honest to g dash d food
the eats percy what i crave is
some cuisine for my stomach let us
trifle with an open ice box
for a space if one can be
persuaded to divulge the scheme of its
interior decoration follow me
said this percy thing and led
me to a cabin in which stood a table upon
which stood viands i
have heard of tables groaning archy
but this one did not it
was too satisfied it purred with
contentment in an instant i had eaten a
cold salmon who seemed to be
toastmaster of the occasion and a
whole scuttleful of chef dovers what
you mean is hors douvres mehitabel i
told her what i mean is grub said she
when in walked a person whom
i should judge to be either a butler
or the admiral of that fleet or maybe
both this percy creature who had led me
to it was on the table eating with me
what do you think he did what
would any gentleman friend with a
spark of chivalry do what but stand by
a lady this percy does nothing of the
kind archy he immediately attacks me do
you get me archy he acts as if i
was a stray cat he did not
know and he was protecting his
loving masters food from my onslaughts
i do not doubt he got praise and had
another blue ribbon for his heroism as
for me i got the boot and as i went
overboard they hit me on the limb with
a bottle or an anchor or something
nautical and hard that archy is why i
limp but toujours gai archy what
the h dash double l i am always
merry and always ladylike mine archy has
been a romantic life and i will
tell you some more of my adventures
ere long well au revoir i suppose i
will have to go and start a pogrom
against some poor innocent little
mouse just the same i think
that mehitabel s unsheltered life sometimes
makes her a little sad
By Don Marquis in archy and mehitabel, 1927.