Sunday, nightfall.  It’s been a strange week, and the festival the week before took all the weirdos and freaks out of circulation for a fair amount of time, which made my life easier.  because, of course, I was one of those weirdos and freaks.

It’s not as if I can expect that sultry woman with available cash and a questionable task.  I am, after all, an Architect.

But I do have a large bottle of brown goods to keep me company, and a bit of work to keep me occupied.

And I have a large outstanding bill, enough to buy me a new Lexus, from a formerly good client.  So, I will be debating the need to send large, unreasonable people to his place for resolution.  Or opting for more civilized solutions.  Because, the large uncivilized person will be me, when I decide to no longer be polite (to be honest, the client is like 14 inches shorter than me).

Complicating this, as it always will, is that Client is also my Landlord.  We have done bartering of my fees for rent for quite some time, and I am still WAY ahead.  But as I have reported, he is upset with my performance on a prior project; and rather than going the proper route to tap my E&O insurance, he seems to be withholding my fees on other projects.  Notably, the fees are for an unrelated project.


That, of course, is not how this works.

So, I either need to find a smoky hot Noir Babe to deliver my demands to him, a direct phone call, or filing liens on his office, home, Range Rover and perhaps one of his children.

This has required me to terminate my associate, so I am back to solo.  Which is fine;  I am better at this fucking crap that most people I know.   What I am NOT good at is doing it in a larger more corporate environment.

So, it’s time to hit the Office Rum, re-watch a little Breaking Bad, and try to understand how to salvage a damaged professional relationship, or failing that, turn it into a giant flaming devastating holocaust.



last doctor visit, BP was kind of way high.  changed my meds, and I got busy and went out of town, then forgot to get back for a followup, so I did that today.  Much better, but still too high for someone on the high side of half a century, so more adjustment.  Weight was slightly down, so that was good.

Doc listened to my chest, checked feet for swelling, professed himself satisfied.  I like him, but going to the doctor always makes the BP go up.  my old doc referred to it as “White Coat Syndrome” and at least I don’t have it as bad as the Bloggess (read her book.  Sometimes she passes out at the VET…)

 I ascribe it to the chamber of horrors that was the clinic I went to as a kid, named the Quisling Clinic, which was actually the reference used by Elvis, not the fat dead one, in this song:


Nurse asked me to pee in a cup.

I mentioned that I had been reading that before chemistry, doctors, who had noticed that ants liked the sweetness of diabetic pee, that they would diagnose diabetics by tasting their pee for sweetness.  We laughed and agreed that things are much better now, and my!  weren’t we having a lovely time….

Since I had already had my morning pee, I had nothing, not even the couple of drops.  Sorry.  So it was all about the glucose, she resorted to the finger stab, which I am very used to…

The blood test came back quick enough ain’t modern medicine wonderful?  A1C at 5.9. 6 months back, it was at 5.1.  Doc professed pleasure at the control.  I asked if it was possible to go off the insulin injections?  He is OK with it, looking for frequent daily testing to keep an eye on glucose, which is really no problem.  I am kind of chuffed…mikey says ‘dude, you’re cured’ which I do not think I am, but on the way, with some luck…

So I asked the doc and the nurse to approve the refills of my meds, and the new one although I have some insulin I will use up…later in the morning, I got the text from the pharmacy (ain’t technology wonderful?) saying my scrips were ready, so just to make sure everything was there (ain’t getting old wonderful?  Now I don’t have to check if my prescription is ready, but whether ALL of them are ready). and looking over the list, I saw the copays.  yep. a buck….2 bucks…3 bucks… 500 bucks… WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE.  the alternative to insulin was a 500 GODDAM COPAY PER MONTH???!?!!?!?  WTF, doc.  I know my record says I am an architect, but you don’t know what being an architect is worth these days.  So when I went to pick up the meds, I told the pharm (and I have to say I am coming to love the pharms, even the dudes although the women are irrepressibly cute, and I am verging in to ‘Sexy Grandpa’ territory…) that I couldn’t pay that, and I would take the cheap ones and if necessary, cancel the Stupid Big Horse Pills of Golden Leaving.  But he, being a Good Person who is now on the Zombie Apocalypse Shortlist of People Who Get A Pass, spent a little time doing some computer.  Lo and behold, if they gave me twice as many pills at half the dose, and I took them twice a day, the cost was ….TWO GODDAM DOLLARS!!!!!

What the actual fuck, dudes?  how does a double in dose result in an increase in price of 25,000%?!?!!?  Sweet living fuck-the-vampires, that is ridiculous.  Dammit, if I used that logic, my billing rate would  be 30,000 dollars an hour.  So, thank you to the CVS Pharmacist who did the right thing and helped me out.

instant I am still excited to be off the insulin spike.  I still have other issues, and the content refrain from every doctor is ‘…for the rest of your life” which includes the ominous threat that if I don’t, the life will not either…but yeah.

Now, I just have to deal with the formerly reliable client who is now deciding to stop paying me since January.  But that is another story, and since I lived through another Father’s Day, rest assured it will show up here….

Oh wait.  I should remark.  In the past couple of weeks, Wife Sublime asked me if I wanted anything for Father’s Day.  I responded by saying, truthfully, “Not spending it in the hospital”  And I guarantee you that is something you want as well.  It is especially hard, because Wife Sublime’s father died on Father’s day as well.  It makes it hard for her.  I would have done it on a different day if I could have….

So on Father’s Day this year, my wife and son took me to lunch at Pizza Man, a local standard and longtime favorite, and we had bloody marys and great food and sat on the balcony in the sun and my, we had a wonderful time.  And Wife Sublime and Young Zombie gave me an iPad Pro (with Apple Pencil!).



M. Ward has not played in Milwaukee since 2008.  Since then, we had much discussion on the bloggerhood, especially when Pinko of the California (at the time) Punkos turned me onto this song:


Man I love that song.  Which I find especially lovely because of it’s unusual structure, recursive lyrics, and extended coda.

So when we saw that he would be playing at the gorgeous and fine Pabst Theatre, I got tickets of course I did.

There were two very fine opening bands, a poppish group featuring Jenny Lewis called Nice as Fuck, who wandered down the aisle to their stage in front of the stage to the JEM! theme song, and they performed a great song called “Put Your Guns Away” and the crowd responded enthusiastically, in this post-Orlando week.

Because, boys did we need to have some music.  Last Sunday, after reading the news, we went to Locust Street Days to see The Mosleys and the Whiskeybelles, local awesome musics.  It was a good tonic, but reading the way the NRA, the Republicans, and Donald Trump responded took more.  I mean, after the retching.

I am not sure about the actual name of the second band.  The Pabst listing is:  “Erika Forster from Au Revoir Simone & The Like’s Tennessee Thomas” but I think the band has an actual name, although I did not catch it.  But Ms. Forster alternated between very quiet introspective folk songs, country ballads, and full-on guitar squall freakout worthy of Sonic Youth.  Sometimes in a single goddam song…talk about being  right the hell in my wheelhouse…

So.  Given those songs up above, and especially, M. Ward’s new album More Rain, I was not sure about what the show would sound like.  I thought it might be a very quiet, folky, jazzy night and tell me if you wouldn’t think the same thing.

But M.Ward hit the stage with an instrumental, that got very noisy halfway through. He had Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows, the Minus Five, Robyn Hitchcock and REM on bass. I missed the name of the second guitarist, but Ward’s Gibson was front and center and really loud.

He played a lot of really great songs, a couple of covers, a Monsters of Folk tune, and that Chinese Translation song up above….and they were all a fuck of a lot louder than on those albums, which I now consider to be overproduced.  And the instrumental outdo on that song got WAY longer and WAY louder than  on the album , and it made this zombie happy…

M. Ward is a very under-rated guitarist, not the least for being able to tell when to lay back.  But in the live venue, he doesn’t do that, mostly.  Also, I love his songwriting, because it borrows from rock and R&B from everywhere, and puts it together in unconventional ways, with no choruses, or refrains that occur in weird places.  Again, right in my wheelhouse.

He came back a couple of times for encores, and every one of the bands acknowledged the beauty of the historic venue they were playing, and the crowd was super enthusiastic for all of them.  It was a great end to week following a tragedy, and I think the artists believed it and did what they could, which is often just what we need and it is what we kind of need from our artists.  And, in some ways, it was just what we needed.   And My!  Didn’t we have a wonderful time!

Pretty good warmup for Summerfest….

Also, thank you Pinko Punko for turning me on to him…..

Madness To The Method

Posted: June 16, 2016 in Fridge Note, Wa fuckin Ha

This is a bit weird.

I haven’t done an OPC (what I call an Opinion of Probable Cost…as the architect, I have little control of the actual cost of construction, and so for Plausible Deniability, E&O insurance people like it when we call it an opinion.  Can’t be sued for an opinion!)  in some time.

Most of our recent projects have involved a contractor as part of the design team, or clients who self-perform a lot of their construction, so there has not been any real need…

I learned much of the OPC while working for a Nazi Architect Who Is Not Albert Speer, even if he Likes the Speer work, whose partner would do an extensive, line by line analysis of costs.  So when I went solo, I adopted some of those ideas, but since I am not a fucking Luddite, I used it with a custom spreadsheet and use of relatively expensive annual cost compendiums.  But the thing is that when you use these, you need to fill in a lot of blanks with supposition.

This is often useful when the clients need to talk to banks about financing the project. It is also useful when you need to disabuse the client of the idea that they will build their project for 8 bucks per SF…

But in the course of actually finding a way to build something (a path that is as difficult as a Hobbit going through Mirkwood)  It is a very effective way to demonstrate the cost of many many small elements, into a largish budget.

I have been involved with several projects, where the clients really object to the final cost, but then respond by removing a few doors and a window or two, and then congratulate themselves by adding a hot tub.  This process allows me to show them where the hell the money went…

It is very easy for clients to say “There’s no way that it will take $120 per SF to build this, but when you break it all the way down, and they see that there are very few single items that are breaking the bank (Also, are you going to object to structural framing?), they have no way of saying that somehow every number will be magically reduced.  [As an aside,it frustrates me that some other architects will regularly design projects that clock in at $300 per SF; the time we had that kind of commission, we pulled out all the stops and never got over $180.]

OPCs counteract this in a couple of ways; first, a good understanding of how many building systems interact, and second ability to interpret very loose preliminary drawings in a way that represents actual construction.  Finally, in a representation of the actual costs of various aspects of construction…

I tagged into this estimate effort due to a reference from the people who organized those Charrettes I have had so much fun at. Being fucking good at what you do is noticed, even if it doesn’t result in immediate follow through. But I met with the Director of the organization, and we had a few acquaintances in common, and so they want to do an addition to one of their buildings.

It continues my work within Milwaukee’s African American community, work that I am inordinately proud of for the extent and the quality.  And yes, my amazing congresswoman Gwen Moore has been at our grand openings, and I have been stable star-struck because she is FUCKING AWESOME

Dunno if this will go further.  May be that when they see the actual costs, they will freak out –  I imagine that at this point, people have been blowing smoke up their ass.  But I am doing my best to tell them what their project is likely to cost, and they have no way to proceed if they don’t have that at this point.

But, and I have little defense for this, but dammit I am kind of enjoying this.  It speaks to my fundamental brokenness, I think…

Live Through This

Posted: June 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

So, this happened.


Some of you may remember the past couple of years, when I was designing a six-story, 92 unit apartment building in the first-ring Milwaukee suburb, facing much work with the Planning Department, the Design Review Board, and the public input.  We got it through, because I am Magic Zombie Designer and Awesome Public Face, with beard and Good Hair.

However, my current little micro-office, regardless of the advantages of CAD and such, (maybe once we were in the realm of doing the whole project, back in the glory days when we had NINE, count ’em fucking NINE people) nowadays it is out of our reach, if not our grasp.  So the developers engaged what is called an Architect of Record, who is responsible for the construction documents, code issues and permitting and construction administration and suchlike.  And hey!  I have always been a design-oriented architect; I am happy to let someone else do the heavy lifting (although I love doing detail work – Mies Van der Rohe had it right, even if he sucked at it)….and we have done that kind of arrangement successful in the past, so let’s go.

So, we shepherded the design through the whole design approval process, working with the developers in unit mix and numbers and making the building happy-making for as many people involved in the project:


And I got to the end of my involvement, with some design-level details of balconies and windows and such like.

…over the course of the project, I discovered that I had a significant disconnect with the Architect of Record; he was used to much more straightforward projects, he was not nearly as experienced in the use of the International Building Code, he is very excitable and reactionary, and he apparently thinks I am incompetent…

[ADDITIONAL SIDEBAR]  It should also be noted that in the current environment; especially in older communities, design requirements ask for windows to be set back from face of wall.  However, contractors like the ease of installation of what is called flange windows, which are basically flush with the exterior.  To generalize, in urban areas, people expect deeper window recesses which require direct set windows; in suburban areas, they don’t care so much and flange-set windows are OK.  To be even clearer, I am an architect who is experienced in and comfortable working within more urban areas; the Architect of Record is very experienced in suburban work.

I had expected to be able to review the Construction Documents when they were ready, and I expressed to the developers and the AoR that I would be happy to review for compliance with the design requirements whenever they wanted, progress, final, whatever.  At the Grand Opening of the first phase of the project, I directly asked him for a copy.

I never got any of them…

I distributed all of the plans, diagrams and details we had developed in the course of design and approval.  Our CAD plans indicated the extra-deep walls necessary to make the reveals work.  I have much experience with a wide variety of construction conditions in the cases of existing buildings and I had some time with a colleague with extensive experience in analyzing building failures.  Frankly, I know how the fuck to make unusual details work…

Sigh.  Last Friday, I got an email from one of my best clients, a very severe email.  It tasked me and the AoR to address a very serious issue, and that he expected us to step up, fix the problem, and after that, we would talk about liability exposure and claims.  Which is a perfectly acceptable response.  It’s a fucking 9 million dollar project….

So, (and I wonder if Robert didn’t plan it this way, then I remember how good he has been in all previous work, and I know it was not that), but the Long Weekend was me spending much time thinking about my response and unsuccessfully trying to sleep.  On Tuesday we met to resolve the issue.

Oh yeah.  The issue.  As I said, Window recesses.  Modern construction with a brick veneer usually results in a 3″ reveal.  Older communities want to see a reveal of greater than 4″.  As I also said, suburbs usually get flush windows, because this makes this super-easy for carpenters.

The details and the construction in place indicate window recesses MUCH less than I had detailed and that were approved. Fuck it all.

Don’t know where the disconnect happened.  At this point, don’t care.  What we need to do is correct it.  Following through and placing blame?  Later.  But it is likely to hit my E&O insurance.  Which has a 5 grand deductible, so the fact that another architect disrespected me to the point of ignoring everything I ever gave him….

I got the email on Friday before the holiday.  So I got really drunk on Friday night, went to see the Pirates of Penzance on Saturday and got a bit drunk on Sunday.  Monday was crappy, because I couldn’t sleep.

I have had colleagues who work at other firms tell me that the have annual claims on their liability insurance.  That doesn’t bother me, i am here to tell you that we allfuck up.

What I will tell you is that in the 20 years or so I have been practicing on my own, I have had ONE claim on my liability insurance.  Also, I have a $5000 deductible.

So yeah.  I am in the midst of a construction debacle that is weird and maybe-avoidable and may destroy the relationship I have with one of my best and favorite clients.

So, I am having a fucking goddam drink. And maybe another fucking drink after that.  Fuck you blood sugar, fuck you blood pressure.  Fuck you Architect of Record who thinks I am incompetent, and who ignores everything I ever forwarded.

Dammit, I think I would have been much better served by keeping that 57 Les Paul and joining a Milwaukee punk band rather than selling it in order to stay in college….


In The City

Posted: June 2, 2016 in Uncategorized


Four weeks from tonight, I will be Home.

Summerfest opens it’s gates again, and if I have another cardiologist try to keep from making Opening Day, they are going to need WAY more than two of them to keep me out.  Opening Day even looks pretty good, even if Joan Jett and Weird Al are playing at the same time.

So, I have dusted off the cobwebs at the Summerfestblog, cleaned the filters, filled the tank and put in a new stereo system.  So content is coming out….

As usual, that means posting will be light over here (Yeah, I know, like it isn’t already. Shut up, fish) and will try to keep up over there.  Although I will have my pocket computer, the signal there is iffy (being by a Big-Ass Lake, there are only towers from one side, and they are all being hit by about a hundred thousand people).

AND I have a professional crisis developing, so I may be preoccupied.  But, you know whatever…So anyway, stop by often, see if I’ve stayed out of jail and sobered up enough to post, make some comments, we will have a lovely time…

Because it is Summerfest.  And I am Alive.

And I will be Home.

Wrote this in FaceHell.  It was going to be short, but once I started going, ….well, you know.  I kind of liked it.  Space 1999 fanfic will be forthcoming..

Trump is a buffoon. Seriously, he is claiming Clinton is unqualified? The woman is a respected Lawyer, has lived in the withering spotlight of the White House, been a Senator and a Secretary of State and is admired worldwide. When Obama was the candidate, the knock was he wasn’t experienced enough. Where is there a candidate that has more experience and qualifications than Clinton?

Certainly not Trump. Trump used a 1 million dollar loan from his Dad to BOOTSTRAP his way into leading more failed businesses than any of us will ever run. His short-lived Trump University is currently the subject of a fraud lawsuit but the students that he ripped off for millions of dollars. The only thing he has ever been successful at is being on TV, although if you have a flexible definition of ‘successful’, then his constant ability to discard wives when they get older for new models, then OK.

It has been said that given his inheritance, if he had done NOTHING, and lived on the interest, he would have MORE money now. So he is a net negative money manager. To relate to the people who actually do work, if you make 10 bucks an hour, and at the end of the year, you needed to tap you savings for 5 grand, you would never be lauded as an economic genius.

And, news for Republican friends: Trump’s not the ideologue you want. His beliefs involve one thing: how impressive he is, with big hands and big penis, and wife who is willing to do a soft-porn photo shoot on the grand piano that he can certainly not play. His hair is not ridiculous. And the fact that he has never recognized that calls into question his sanity.

I do, however have some concerns. In recent years, the Presidential debates have not been show to make any difference, with some notable exceptions (Please proceed, Governor). And the Trumpeters have been notably resistant to any kind of logic or reason based arguments.

And I have no doubt that in real debates, where the questions are not about who is the biggest penis on stage (admittedly, Drumpf wins this one) but even if they involve actual real world issues, it has been demonstrated that the American public has Short Attention Span Theater for anything smacking of actual content.

Hillary has been attacked but these jackals for 25 years. She has weathered it all with grace and tact, but has still sunk in, shown by the negatives she has. The onslaught of Drudge attacks has convinced a signifiant number of Americans that she is lying about SOMETHING, although they never have any actual lies in hand, or transgressions; but they still scream PRISON PRISON and after 30 years of that, it seeps into the populace. The ratfuckers know how this works.

However, on the other stump, Hillary has been on the receiving end of this shit for decades. She was once derided for not baking enough cookies! (to her detriment, she responded with a cookie recipe. The best response would have been “I am the goddam first lady, not only do I not have time to bake cookies, but the lack of respect is appalling)

Could go on, but let’s talk about the cigar in the pie. Hillary’s husband had some kind of sex with an intern, and maybe other women besides. And is this supposed to be treated as a fucking anomaly in DC? Power and money attract sex. FFS, all of the people who made their bones on impeaching Clinton: Delay, Gingrich… have had their own fucking sex problems. GODDAM IT Dennis Hastert was molesting teenage boys. FUCKING MOLESTING TeeNAGE BOYS. And STILL Delay tries to defend that horrid monster.

So I understand how it works. I have been in a long-term relationship, and I know how this goes. You have troubles/ you find a way to work through them. You compromise. You find some way to allow you to move forward.

The thing the Republicans would like you to believe is that when shit happens, then you work through the problems and try to save your marriage. Unless, of course you are a Democrat in which case you need to divorce the philanderer if he is a Democrat an we can reap some kind of advantage from it.