Finest Worksong

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Fridge Note, Humanity is a virus, Shovels


I have been talking recently with a potential client, who owns a small, scattershot industrial building that is filled with a weird mix of tenants doing a weird mix of businesses, with a nearly incomprehensible of access and exiting that is pretty much not illuminated.

It’s not the first time I have been through the building.

NWS site

But the Owner, much as I like him personally, apparently figures I will be willing to work on the basis of a  couple of hundred bucks.  I AM NOT.

After going back and forth a bit, he keeps asking for me to do something shortsighted and cheap.  Here is my answer:

Andy-

A change of use resets the code to the requirements of the new use.  That is why they asked you for a Change of Use Analysis.  The use as furniture storage and showroom is treated differently in the code, and that’s why there is a need to review the new use in relation to the rest of the building.  Also, not having seen the history of the building, it is entirely possible that the prior use was not properly approved.  Which, of course is not your fault in any way.
You may be able to use that area as storage, although storage of furniture may also be problematic, and use as a showroom will be an entirely different aspect. Without an analysis on my part, I am unable to proffer a professional opinion on that.
I am unsure what you would need me to do, because your stated plans for the space are changing.  The building itself has gone through decades of incremental changes, that seem to have never been adequately assessed for code compliance. Conversion of a portion of the building to residential would STILL require analysis of the entire building for exiting and accessibility.
On a professional level, and with respect to my fiduciary duty to you as a client and the protection of public health and safety, not to mention in order to maintain my professional license and my liability insurance, I have an obligation to not only work on your behalf and in your best interest but to ensure that your building remains safe and occupiable and meets the standards of Milwaukee and State building codes.  In my prior experience, when clients insist on abbreviated scope of services, invariably we find that we have to do more work, most often finding ourselves performing the original scope of services, if not more, caused by trying to short cut things on the front end. The scope of services I have proposed is based on the years of experience I have in doing these kinds of things.  
After years of doing these kinds of projects, I have found that trying to shortcut, especially on the front end design and code elements invariably end up costing the Owner more money, resulting in blaming and bad blood.  
That is why I send out my proposals with an itemized estimate, so a potential client can see how my time would be broken down to various tasks.  When I look at them, I do not see any particular task that is not reasonably apportioned.
It seems to me that we may not be a good fit between client and professional.  I am not willing to provide you with a piecemeal approach to your building plans; invariably, I have found it results in more work that expands outside of the original scope of work.  
I really enjoyed meeting you and I like you on a personal basis during the brief time we met.  I also like your building a lot.  But on a professional level, I think we may not be the best fit.
Best regards and my sincere regrets.
Not sent yet.  Someone tell me that is wrong and ill-advised.
Maybe I shouldn’t watch the Walking Dead while writing these things.
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Last year, we attended a fundraiser for Tammy Baldwin, attended by Elizabeth Warren.  It was at a brewpub, and it was packed.  We didn’t even get close in the line to get our pictures with these two political rockstars before we bailed;  but I bumped into Tony Evers, who was just former School Superintendent at the time and had just announced his candidacy for Governor, aiming at Turdwaffle.  So I shook his hand, and wished him the best of luck.  He smiled, saying “We don’t need luck.  We’re going to win.”  I laughed and congratulated him on his confidence.  But you know what they say – If you come at the king, you’d best not miss.  Tony knew what he was talking about, and didn’t miss.  He’s going to be excellent, and it should be mentioned that Mandela Barnes, his Lt. Gov, is also going to be excellent.

And since I just finished the biography of Scott Miller, Here is his band Game Theory with their take on the post title; they used it as an interstitial noise collage before the classic album Lolita Nation started proper with the song “Not Because You Can”.

 

I went to bed with the Gov race essentially tied, and my wife preceded me with a disgusted “that fucker Cruz won, and it looks like Walker is going to pull his own ass out of the fire again”.  I agreed, and rather than hit the bourbon, I went to bed too.  But I woke up before the alarm, and checking my phone, I found that Milwaukee had coughed up 47,000 additional ballots which put Tony over the top.  Milwaukee hates hates hates Turdwaffle since he was County Exec, and got out of town just before the pitchforks and tar-and-feathers crowd got to him.

And in one of the most delightful bits of schadenfreude ever, Walker and his craven Lege had passed a restriction on recounts, only allowing them in the state when the difference is less than 1%.  How much was Tony ahead?  1.2%!!!

Sad to say, Ironstache could not pull it out in Paul Ryan’s old district, which was disappointing but given the demographics, was a long pull anyways.  Randy will be back.

Also, disappointing that Beto did not take down that simpering asshole Cruz.  But let’s remember, he was never even supposed to get into striking distance!  However, as I said, if you come at the King, you’d best not miss…. but Beto gives a memorable speech to his supporters:

If foot-in-mouth Biden can be a VP, Beto who drops an f-bomb is certainly qualified.  Just saying.

But the real deal is that the Democrats made a historic wave, against all the structural advantages the Republicans and the small-population states have, and against all the ridiculous gerrymandering that has been going on for decades.  Democrats have to outperform Shitheads by at least 7 points to just break even.  In the Senate, the Democrats out performed the Crapweasels by something like 12 points (for some reason I can’t find the actual numbers right now THE INTERNET IS BORKEN!) and still lost seats…

So the Democrats have taken decisive control of the House.  More than the supposed Tea Party wave, but we expect the calls for civility and reaching across the aisle to start before this weekend.  But fuck that:  Nancy, use that hammer!  Maxine, start beating on banks.   In any case, Trump now has to face a check on what he thinks is unrestrained power, and he will not react well; he already is melting down and taking too many of his medications.  I would not be surprised if seeing Jim Acosta on his blessed Glass Teat inspires a full-fledged stroke or heart attack.

But here’s the thing.  For two years, us liberals have been reeling and feeling like we have lost everything we have worked for, and suffering from more than a little depression and PTSD.  And yes, we have lost things; but I came of age with Reagan, and had to live through TWO fucking Bushes.  We lost a lot over many years.  And we can survive, and we can be better; remember when there were no such things as same-sex marriages?  And there are people you know, right now, who can remember when women could not access safe abortions.  The Shitweasels never stop trying to spread their hatred and authoritarianism.

We can’t, stop, either.

 

We All Die Young

Posted: October 8, 2018 in Fridge Note, Uncategorized

OK, this is weird and I am not certain.

There is a local neighborhood that I worked hard to design new residential and commercial design.  I became friends with the director of the district, and had much respect for him.  He died a little while ago.

I have talked about my participation in planning efforts in the past, and I worked on several projects in the area.  And some of them moved forward, in various forms, without me.  Whatever, you know.

But there are two really cool projects being opened up this week, and I have received invitations from several participants.

But here’s the thing(s).  one of the architects on the projects was my former partner.  And one of the developers on the project are ones that I have worked with much in the past.  And one of the architects is one that I worked with on a prior project, and another one whose principals I know from college….

But I called one of the developers the other day, and he was amazingly forthcoming in how he felt that those architects were unsatisfactory.  In fact, he said they had to discharge the firm that my former partner now heads up (and since I am a bitter zombie, I will  mention that she still uses the name I came up with) and that the other firm, whose principals I know from college, were difficult to work with.  It was weird for me to hear these comments, because that is not how I know these people, even though our other history is different.  I was politically silent and thanked him for his compliments he made toward me.

So here is where I am unclear and unable to make a firm decision.  I have been invited, by two different participants in the projects, to the grand opening on Tuesday.  (they threaten attendance by Scott Walker, but since this is Bronzeville, a predominantly African-American neighborhood, I think we are safe in figuring that he will not feel safe enough to show.)

These are projects I helped to move forward through participation in the amazing charrette efforts, not to mention my prior projects in the neighborhood, that were spearheaded by Welford, who became a good friend.

So, what I am struggling with, is do I show up?  Is that the best approach? I have no doubt that I can treat my former partners and colleagues in appropriate ways.  but Should I care?

Well, after writing this out, I recognize that being an adult and being able to leave all kinds of shit behind, also in recognition of the (un-prompted) badmouthing of my former colleagues and otherwise respected professionals, is that being there, and being gracious and professional, is going to be a best approach.

But this is my blog, so I get to work out my issues right here…..

That quote, of course, is from the estimable Big Bad Bald Bastard, Fellow hardcore libtard and martial artist, in the long-ago time when we all bloggered.

Wife Sublime likes to travel, and coordinates with the basic school schedule; before, because of Young Zombie and now because she is working on here second Master’s degree.  YZ has shambled off on his own,  which frees us up to go places with better food and wider range of experiences.  but this fall, we went to…of all places… Nashville.  I KNOW!  And we did a day trip to Huntsville.  I KNOW!

So what I learned about Nashville is that this is, essentially, where the music industry discovered how to be an industry, based on the radio broadcasts of country music and what became the Grand Ole Opry.  This is where the pattern of sucking talent in, churning it in, making them play the songs selected by the labels, and doing it over and over again, became the pattern.  Sun Records; Sam Phillips took in people like Elvis, Cash, Roy Orbison and figured out where there talents were best focused;  This became what is known as A&R.  Then these folk went to Nashville and cranked out hits on an assembly line at RCA Studio B.

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Yeah, that’s me at Elvis’ favorite Steinway in the studio.  I used to be able to play a ninth interval cuz HUGE hands, but I broke my little finger shoveling snow and now I suck.

 

But here’s the thing.  There have been so many people for so long, coming to Nashville, and not just for country music, that this is a place that revolves around music, that exists for and because of music.  Jimi Hendrix said that he learned how to really play guitar in Nashville, and the Musician’s Hall of Fame had video of him playing in a standard R&B band, but you could see him starting to play.

We spent over two hours in the Cash Museum, which is small, but man how many times can you watch him sing Hurt?  Well, for me, I can always watch Johnny sing Hurt.  Trent Reznor admits that that is no longer his song.  I got a t-shirt which I will likely wear to bed until it falls apart, and a magnetic “Million Dollar Quartet” bottle opener on our fridge.

We have visited many places, and even New Orleans and Ireland did not have the high music content that we did in Nashville.  One of my sisters-in-law said she was surprised to hear country music at the party, and the thing is; much of  the music I love is at least country-adjacent, if not proper country.  Listen to Robbie Fulks and tell me that’s not country, and we have tickets for him later in fall.

We went to the country Music Hall Of Fame, of course.  Also the Musicians Hall of Fame, which is WAY less country oriented.  And a fair number of the service people we met, they were in punk or noise or other kind of bands. Everyone we met, they were musicians….

Based on recommendations of our friends, we went to a place called the Station Inn.  It is noted as the local musicians’ place to see other musicians, and once was a hangout for Bob Monroe.  We saw Jon Byrd, and he admitted that he learned everything he knew about playing guitar and writing songs in Nashville;  because there is no choice and the competition is fierce and stupendous.  And, of course, he was one of the best shows I have ever paid 12 bucks for.

Because we know history is history, we knew we needed to see a show at the Ryman Auditorium, the original location of the Grand Ole Opry (you go see a show at the overdone theme park version, there is a circle of contrast wood that was stolen from the Ryman when they figured it was going to be torn down).  Our choice was fish, as Rollins once said, so we went to see Lucero with Langhorne Slim opening up.  It was good and for my part, I felt the resonance of the structure with the spirits of the past.  They rocked kind of hard, and I felt the ghosts resonate with us….

 

But look at this; we had bunches of music in various forms, and while most were country, not all of them were.  And being a music fed zombie, I took them all; in the museums, I saw guitars that were worn and played and part of the continuum.  They all still vibrated with the energy of their players, fuck me if they didn’t.  walking through the Musicians Hall of Fame was thick with remembrance….

And so there you have it it, we spent no end of time in country music bullshit one thing or another.  Including  RCA Studio B, which was instrumental in making artists…. but even with that , the musicians in the city still work their asses off to get to one or the other levels.  Everyone in this goddam city plays or sings, and they all are working to be better or get another opening or chance….

And that, fellows and guinea pigs, is what I always say and shout out to you on an unrelenting basis.  There is an unrelenting amount of music being produced by amazing bands at any different directions you ever have seen.

At the end of the day, and tomorrow too.  There is a place for music.

But I bleed music.  And I discovered that there is a City that, while they may not bleed music when cut, they certainly ooze  music when squeezed.

And damnitall, and against all odds, I felt at home there……..

 

 

Weirdness abounds.

I designed buildings for a suburban development several years, ago, 8 family condominiums in a squiggly road suburban silliness, but still I did what I could to make them better than the average.

And then 2008 happened, so the developer let the sites lay fallow.  And since then, he (and I ) have moved on to larger, different  projects that do not depend so much on the largesse of bankers, and the remaining sites have been allowed to be sold off to people on a piecemeal basis.  And since I am the Architect of Record and the official holder of Copyright, some of them contact me….

This is not a difficult thing, but neither is it straightforward.  The original permits, which included all the buildings in the development, were obtained in 2004.  And admittedly, we used previous plans as a starting point, but we altered them to include basements and changed the elevation to make them look  a fuck of a lot better.

These were developed as condominiums, intended for young singles and couples and being relatively inexpensive and fitting into the suburban sprawl.  And the Bush Debacle killed them all off.

So I have been contacted by a developer who wants to take a couple of these on, and I wish him the best.  He is going to develop them as rentals, until he can sell them, WTF.  So I am engaged to update the plans and obtain new State approvals.

Here’s the thing. in the intervening 14 years (!) we have adopted a couple of iterations of new building codes.   As I am going through those old, old plans, we had designed a couple of different elevations and a couple of color schemes.

And today I was trying to update the plans for sections and plans, particularly roof plans.

And I discovered the roof plans as recorded were not accurate.  And the drawing essentials, like elevation references, were not properly referenced, as well as all kinds of goofy computer drawing weirdness.

This is the thing that CAD is supposed to allow us to avoid.

I recognize that the setup of these drawings was done before the modern drafting systems.  But they were still confused and not simple.

So I spent a few hours making the roof plans make sense, and correspond to the elevations we have.

I have no anger toward the architects who helped me draw these up in the first place.  The probably did not understand the the way CAD could be referenced and layered, and not the way drafting actually made input to drawings. And the Software we use, has changed-a lot!- over the intervening time. And it is hardly not inconceivable  that I was spending my time on some other issues and did not review it in the amount of detail it should have been….

Which is always the aspect i have struggled with.  I am way more concerned with the specifics and details of the construction and specifics of the buildings I design.  And frankly, I spend WAY more time on design issues than I should on a day to day basis, especially on these smaller scale projects.  I have always been very hands on, until I am not, and then I trust people who are maybe not ready for it.  I never claimed to be the best project manager, all  I am is the best project manager I can be.

So I have been spending a fair number of hours, straightening these drawings and making them conform to the standards that I now use.  I will not, of course, bill the clients for these;  hardly their responsibility.  But it makes me way aware of the importance of seeing the abilities of the CAD software we use, and how to be aware of how to use it on a daily basis as well as use it on our older documents.

It is simultaneously annoying in the extreme and amusing to work through these issues.  And it informs me in a visceral way with how I will interact as a supervisor in the future.

If I ever do again.

 

One of the most difficult bargains we, as human persons, ever make is when we take small fuzzbuckets into our lives for care and comfort.  Knowing that their span of days is much less than ours; it is at one strike both lovely and amazingly blind to the eventual end, when a beloved friend has to go on to the find their place in the heart of the sun.

In our own damn house, we have been entitled to share and enjoy the companionship of three cats, one guinea pig, and one Big Hairy Dog, and this does not count my own personal track record with dogs, cats, and guinea pigs.  Not to mention the current roster of two cats and one Big Orange dog.

And whenever any one of them leaves us, we still feel the pangs of loss and sorrow.

I have been disdainful about the Orange, leaky-ass dog, but after the Event (I guess I may have to start referring to it as different timelines, like the New Star Trek universe.  Initial Timeline, Mekons timeline, how does that work?)  We were walking buddies.  I made her walk more briskly, as that was what my Watch said I needed, when she wanted to do sniffing and peeing….

And man;  I have to salute her ability to control her bladder and dispense it in small bits on all the best doggy places in the neighborhood.  I wish.

The New Timeline Event, where brisk walks are not the issue and I came out of the hospital with foot issues, I still like to take the Aging Buddy Walks.  But she gets tired, usually before  I do, and I am considerate to let her sniff and pee and take her time.

Because she starts to limp noticeably pretty early on a walk, and if we go too far she limps for a while after.  In fact, she is having problems with the stairs.

And here’s the thing.

Lucy and I were never the best of friends in the early days.  It was when I coined the “Lucy, the orange, leaky-assed dog” moniker, when she would sit on the couch and fart at me.

But when we both suddenly realized we were old, we came to terms.  Walking is a pack activity, and we did it.  For our own reasons, but there’s nothing wrong with that, you know?

And so tonight, I watched Lucy limp to her sleeping pad in the kitchen and not going upstairs because that entails a bunch of stairs, and it became plain that this is not going to be going on much longer.  And I remember back when our previous love, Mieshka, woke up in the morning with no ability to control her back half, and we knew there was no alternative but to schedule the Final Trip.  I carried her out to the yard for any pee or poop, and then carried her into the car and into the vet’s

Lucy’s nose has gone just as white as my own damn hair.  And our joints are similarly stiff, and we both need to walk more.  After a rough beginning in our relationship, we are suddenly congruent….

But here’s the thing.

 

When walking by her in the Kitchen, on my way to get a new drink, I recognize that she is struggling.  She limps from visits to the dog park or from long walks, but dammit she insists on these activities, because DOG.

But I know she is fading.

And the thing is, after all this weird history, I can now see that this is going to hit.  Hard.  HARD. Orange and I have been through so much in the past few years, and I now recognize she supported me during the heart attack and the Pulmonary Embolism, looking up to me and being so loving and willing to go for a walk at any given moment.

But the clock is ticking on that, and that is part of the fucking contract we enter into with fuzzbuckets when we take them into our lives and our hearts.

And this goddam stupid orange asshole has become part of our hearts, yeh, part of my stupid heart, and I know that when she can no longer be a big farting part of the world, I will carry her to whatever destinations, even if I am crying while I do so.

So here’s some before and after for the Beloved Orange:

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Dammit, You big stupid orange dog, I love you.

Escape Route

Posted: June 18, 2018 in Body Count, Humanity is a virus, Shovels

It’s been a kind of rough time for creative types.  In recent weeks, we’ve seen some high profile instances of Nope-ing out.  While I have no particular connection to Kate spade, the loss of Scott Hutchison and Anthony Bourdain both hit me kind of hard.

Hutchison is the singer and songwriter for Frightened Rabbit, an amazing band.  Of course, Bourdain was a famous chef and raconteur and an actually worthwhile reality TV host, who has spent the last decades of his life traveling the world.

These are not the first nor will they be the last of people I respect that depart this festering sphere.  But, neither is it inappropriate for me to respect their passing; seriously, people who make their mark on the world and indeed even if they don’t they still deserve being marked when we send them off in a pod into the great unknown….

Scott Hutchison, I will respect by listening to his music at length and mourning what he will never write and sing for us, but that will be a personal thing.  His singing and music is a personal taste and I love it, but I have no idea if you do or not.  But, you know, you are here through the internet so you can find it and decide for yourself, and I love the idea that you might be hiring it for the first time. Use headphones.

But the thing about Bourdain.  Wife Sublime has a tendency to only listen to reality TV and news and such, which is kind of annoying when it is Fareed Zakaria.  So I tune it out, and have never really watched Bourdain’s show.  Although I saw a clip of his lunch with Iggy Pop and was completely charmed by two old, grizzled survivors of punk and drug lifestyles sharing a healthy meal.

So, after Bourdain pulled the eject lever, I found that 8 seasons of “Parts Unknown” (excellent title) were on netflix, although they threatened that they were not long to last, so I’ve been bingeing them…and they are lovely and wonderful and so full of life.

What we find is a person who has a raging curiosity and love of people and every permutation of their foods, being given free rein to go where he wants and do what he wants.  He walks down streets without fear, and eats food from street side grills, usually never even worried about what he is eating before putting it in his mouth, and invariably saying “Oh, that’s good”.  I am a fan of meat of most times, and I love chicken livers and marrow, but I still kind of winced when he busted a grilled rabbit head open to eat the ‘chiclet-sized’ brain, and then considering that ‘next year, I am making these for Easter’ which made me laugh my zombie ass off.

During the course of what I saw, he spent as much time on the reality of the places he visited for people, races and economies as he did for food.  He went to Iran, and the people were so hopeful for improved relations with America, which now seems so distressingly unachievable.

Everywhere he went, he used his love of every cuisine every and every food of any kind, to reach out and create connections to people of all kinds.  And it was fucking CHARMING.  I recognize, of course, that this was TV, and we do not see the whole of reality, but this is Bourdain’s show, and he writes and produces.  He says, more than once, that food is the thing that connects people across races, languages, and political lines.

He was a handsome guy who made it look easy.  When he sat down for a bowl of noodles with President Obama in Vietnam (yes really) he said “I think every American should have a passport” I felt proud to have one.  When I saw him in places I have visited, I said “Damn!  I wish I had been there!”

Sidebar.  We are visiting Nashville in the fall, and he has a Nashville episode.  while I doubt we will get a Tattoo at a house party with the Singer of Dead Weather/ Jack White, we have some new ideas….

But here’s what I want to say.

Scott Hutchison wrote some wrenchingly, tragically personal lyrics and had his band play them.  yes, they are moving and amazing.

And Bourdain insisted on being the sole writer for his show.  And there are times where he does a monologue over video of himself, walking by himself, through various cities.  He often talks about his discomfort with crowds, and his hatred of carnivals.  and in one (now painful)  episode of Buenos Aires, he talks about how easy it is for him to slip into depression based on nothing more than a bad hamburger.

And this is what I really want to talk about.

I have mentioned a couple of times, we have a nephew who was adopted by our brother/sister in law, who was amazingly smart and limited by the really small community he grew up in – in a bigger community he could have found a geek/brain community, but there he couldn’t.  We thought about offering the opportunity for Mike to live with us for a summer or a semester in Milwaukee, where he could take classes at one college or another, or just live in different environment, but regrettably, it never happened.  And after a terrible descending spiral of damage and hatred and finding no way out, he wound up in the back yard of his parent’s house, blowing his brains out.

But in the cases of Scott Hutchison and Anthony Bourdain, it has been the kind of thing were we see that there are, yes there are, signs.  So many of Frightened Rabbit’s songs are distressing.  And so many of Bourdain’s shows involve video of him walking, solo, down weird alleys.  And most heartbreakingly, during a visit to Buenos Aires (where everyone, basically, goes to a psychotherapist) he went to a therapist (also went to a meat grilling joint later) where he talked about how he has the best job in the world, but he also is able to be launched into a several day episode of depression by having a shitty airport hamburger.  It was reminiscent of the members of Joy Division, who admitted after Ian Curtis killed himself, that they never really paid attention to his lyrics.

The thing is, both of these guys launched themselves into the heart of the sun when they were in desperately lonely situations, but in both cases, they had really put up as many fucking alarm flags as you might have wanted.

And somehow, with all those people watching and being part of their production; nobody was listening.