Archive for June, 2008

June 22

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Maggie gave me a guide to Texas and a book called “The Last Lecture” last week for Father’s day. I recommend “The Last Lecture” as it contains a number of useful ideas for anyone’s life.

I want to remember a few of the points so I’ll make some notes here.

On group dynamics author Pausch recommends the following:
• “Meet People Properly. It all starts with the Introduction. Exchange Contact Information. Make sure you can pronounce everyone’s names.
• Find things you have in common. You can almost always find something in common with another person, and from there, it’s much easier to address issues where you have differences. Sports cut across boundaries of race and wealth. And if nothing else, we all have the weather in common.
• Try for optimal meeting conditions: Make sure no one is hungry, cold, or tired. Meet over a meal if you can; food softens a meeting. That’s why they “do lunch” in Hollywood.
• Let everyone talk: Don’t finish someone’s sentences. And talking louder or faster doesn’t make your idea any better.
• Check egos at the door: When you discuss ideas, label them and write them down. The label should be descriptive of the idea, not the originator; “the bridge story” not “Jane’s story”.
• Praise each other: Find something nice to say, even if it’s a stretch. The worst idea can have silver linings if you look hard enough.
• Phrase Alternatives as questions: Instead of “I think we should do A, instead of B” try “What if we did A instead of B?”

Look for the Best in Everybody

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

If at First You Don’t Succeed…. Try a cliché
• Dance with the one who brung you
• Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity
• Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right
• Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play (don’t focus on the little issues while ignoring the big ones)

Be the first Penguin (the team taking the largest gamble in trying new ideas or technology while failing to achieve their stated goals.)

Send a hand written thank you note.

All you have is what you bring with you

A Bad Apology is Worse than No Apology

Tell the Truth

No Job is Beneath You

Know Where You Are (understand your place in each specific cultural context)

Never Give Up

Be a Communitarian (Rights come with responsibilities)

Make a Decision: Tigger or Eeyore

Don’t obsess over what people think

Don’t complain, just work harder

Treat the disease not the symptom

Dream big

I’m on my Honeymoon … please leave a message
• Time must be explicitly managed, like money
• You can always change your plan, but only if you have one
• Ask yourself: Are you spending your time on the right things?
• Develop a good filing system
• Rethink the telephone

Not All Fairy Tales End Smoothly”

Thanks for this book, Maggie it’s got a lot of good advice in it.

To these I’d add some I use often:
• When in doubt, act
• If you fall on your face you’re moving in the right direction
• Lead, follow, or get out of the way

June 15

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Like a lot of people I’m thinking of my father this quiet morning. Starlene is here, sleeping just inside the door. It’s a perfect blue ridge morning. The air smells sweet, is filled with bird sounds and only the occasional rumble of a car or buzz of a heat pump. Maggie is camping with friends, Erin is waking up in South America this morning.

It seems that for better or worse, we become a mix of our parents. In body and spirit I’m a mix of what my parents were. I’ve got some of the same wrinkles, the same hairline, but unlike, or maybe it’s just my memory building up dad, I get stuck, have a harder time getting off center to act than my memory of dad. Maybe it’s not true completely, there were things dad had a hard time getting back to…the open breaker panel over the dryer… but by the time his accident happened, I don’t think he had much left on the “to do” list. He rebuilt his father’s cabin, added a few sheds of his own, added on to the house with a carpenter named Ted, built and rebuilt the garage, then hired? people to add on a little minnesota to the front of his chicago house. We were mostly moved out by then, I could see he was making the spaces of his life as he liked them… a comfortable chair, a place for fire, bay window, then gardens. Gardens trimmed with rocks we took down from the fireplace at the cabin, gardens raised above the yard, his idea of what mom might like to work in from her wheelchair, which I don’t think ever happened.

I worked with dad for a week or two every summer for about ten years I think. Leaving my family at the start of summer, always a hard choice, but I thought there might not be many more chances. We’d work side by side from about six in the morning till about four, a standard construction day, but not interact much more than to talk about how we were going to build or what materials we might build that part of the cabin with. About the only insight we’d have into each other’s personality was when we’d drop something on our foot or hit some part of our hand with a hammer, everybody expresses anger/pain differently, but it was in the moments just after that you’d see into a person…how easily (or not) a person accepted help…whether they would carry on or use the pain to stop work…whether they would blame the tool, the wood, someone else or themselves for the errant hammer strike (never volunteer to hold the nail for someone else) in owning up or in passing the buck, you could learn something about the injured party.

So when I get angry, its just because of something I did…I don’t encounter injustice that often, it seems when I do, the learning I have to do about the processes surrounding the next steps in legal procedure prevent the anger, or repress it? So it’s harder to learn from the aftermath than it is when you see someone hit their thumb with a hammer.

Not very clear but there is real insight in the above I think.

I’m also thinking back to having become a father. Remembering the promises made (and mostly kept) when a birth was going badly. Fatherhood, like motherhood I’d guess is intimidating. You get a lot of time to make the transition, but it still seems like one day you’re not a father, the next day you are. It’s intimidating, overwhelming, and the greatest thing all at the same time. You get to know what it feels like to be proud, really proud of your children. Something you can’t really understand until it happens. I look at Erin and Maggies grandfather and see that it’s “once a father, always a father” father for life. But the role changes from provider protector to teacher coach to….? I’m not sure of my role at this point. But I’m always proud, and a happy recipient of calls and visits.

Time to walk Starlene.

June 13

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Yesterday was ITRF day, always a favorite. The testing report of the innotek zone exclusion device went over well, but was not really the critical evaluation needed for the proposal. I ordered the next technology to evaluate, one with an accelerometer and short range transmitter. Have to figure out how to test it, would like to get displacement data as well as acceleration but won’t know what it’s capable until it arrives next week.

Maggie’s in this weekend, we met for lunch at souvlaki, almost good enough to get her to over to the dark side (non-vegetarian), but not quite. She brought Starlene in with her so I have company tonight. Erin called from Buenos Aires, it sounds like they found a beautiful apartment to live in while they study. Always a lift to hear from Erin and Maggie they are good people doing interesting things.

Jay brought by the flow-jet fabricated pannier brackets today, beautiful and unbelievably light. Got another podcast done today, will work to get all the recordings translated to aiff format before changing operating systems in July. The book on 1870’s cast iron prefabrication came in…from Israel! It looks like a good foundation for the Fall conference paper, I’ll have to cross check what was available in Paris when Lyman Bridges visited there in 1870….

Good review with Steve today, he came up with the thought of a plate-on-points instead of a slab on joists, perfect for Ian’s effort to formulate a floor for his distorted tetrahedral wall structure.

Got the photo file out today for Bishop Favrao, it will be my third published photo credit…!

The likelyhood of the move is settling in, hope to get to talk with the Deans on monday.


Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I thought I might try to use this blog to track what I do or don’t each day. Here’s the first day so far.

Walked to the office, got to read a bit more of Riegl’s “Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts”…best sentence: “If man, to satisfy his obscure desire for a lucid visualization of the invisible powers that either threatened or protected him, wished to reproduce those powers in bodily form, he could only do so by means of organic constructions.” I think Sullivan bought into this idea.

At the office, I graphed the test data from the zone exclusion device I tested yesterday, not pretty graphs…couldn’t find a radial graphing tool so I made one up. Walked to lunch reading Levinas’s book “Discovering Existence with Husserl” hard to follow in a noisy restaurant so worked on the 16-8 house layout.

Back at the office, I looked up sources of data for truck/worker fatalities, and wrote up the report, moved it to indesign to bring in the graphs and photos from the test and sent it out to the team.

I’m partially watching the WWDC Keynote address, the new iphone looks pretty great, and has a simple programming environment to boot!

Well, back to podcasting now, will try to finish up dewatering and shoring today to post to the site.

Got to review the lecture on construction for Frank’s studio, may be my last lecture at VT…

Thanks to laethyn

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Thanks to for explaining my podcast problem and suggesting a solution!
The podcast links are working so I can go back into production.