Archive for the ‘Fridge Note’ Category

Money Becomes King

Posted: February 19, 2019 in Fridge Note, it's the humanity, Shovels

A friend on facehell linked this article and I was inspired to expand it tinto a discussion.  Often, when new projects are publicized, people respond with hatred and little realization of the actual aesthetic composition of the project, but just like to complain that it doesn’t look like the idealized small community that they grew up in , the Twilight Zone/ Star Trek Next Generation hologram deck fantasy.

This is a very informative article on how changing construction standards, changing building materials, and changing building codes are having an effect on building form. What it does not say, is that this is something that has happened often in the past, and resulted in similar rapid expansion of certain building types or construction types. It is mentioned in passing, but the popularity of Balloon framing was massively expedited by the Sears company selling home kits, using that method; but balloon framing was found to be inherently dangerous from fire in that the walls provided internal chimneys that allowed fires to rapidly (meaning in bare minutes) expand to engulf the structure (noted that our house is ballon framed, but it does have rudimentary fire stops at the floor levels).

As a designer, I find the similarity in design to have a couple of sources. First, that this is what is acceptable to the market (whether secondary buyers or renters or condo buyers). And frankly, like much infill and mid-rise construction of the last hundred years, can be handsome and fits in well with most neighborhood design. There is nothing wrong with background buildings. Second, many designers of this scale of building are familiar with what they have seen, and find it expedient and successful to go with what has been built before. And I do not think any of those people are to blame for any of that; as a designer, I try to encourage my clients to stretch their images and think about new forms, new approaches, but it sometimes is OK to be straightforward.

Where I disagree with the article is about the way the model code arrangement is oriented. My experiences with the code officials, both at our state level and at the ICC level do, indeed, take their public responsibility very seriously, and they work very hard to respond to changes in the construction environment to protect the public. The expansion of sprinkler requirements over the past several years is one example; the recognition of nw materials is also a constant work in progress.

At the end of the day, where I disagree with the article is the idea that the basic building configuration (1+4 or 1+5) is the problem he dislikes. Designers respond to challenges in different ways. Most of them will respond in ways,(and in consultation with their clients, to be sure) that are conservative and similar to other successful projects.

It takes a rare combination of a designer who is able to see the opportunity, is willing to push the envelope, and a client that is willing to accept it.

 

I have been fortunate to find that combination more than once.

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I did not say in my professional forward-facing discussion, but as a fucking designer, just stop being so fucking unwilling to push the envelope.  And there is nothing wrong with discarding a crappy client that is tacky and insists on shit.

OK, I can say, there are times to play the standard card.  But a good designer can still make shit aesthetic look ….well, acceptable, if not good.  Pay the bills,, it’s OK.

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Yeah, so we have Hell Fuck Eternal Cold Vortex bearing down on us.  I may be unclear on the terminology.  That’s what it feels like when you walk outside – and believe me, what Lucifer the Orange thinks when she goes out to try and squeeze out some frozen pee or some poopsicles is probably unprintable, even on this crappy blog.

And this is on top of the 12 inches of snow we got Sunday-Monday.  WHICH IS on top of the cumulative 10-12 inches that we had from the last couple of snowfucks.

So yeah:

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We stayed home on Monday, both of us “inter tube-communicated” or whatever the kids call it, and traded episodes of shoveling. in between thawing our fingers under the dog.  But even then, we resorted to hiring the roving bands of shovelers that arise during this weather to do the heavy lifting, especially where the snowplows had created White Walls at the end of the drive way (but we had to re-do it anyways, because the plows are FUCKING RELENTLESS).

Even at the end of the day on Monday, you could feel the new COLDFUCK starting to move in.  it got here today, but mostly the city had plowed and shoveled out; although I have sympathy for the people living on smaller streets who struggle with parking rules and being plowed in.

Today got all the way up to 2 fucking degrees F.  It will be 16 below tonight.  Tomorrow will get down to 20 below.  I know the TV idiots like to talk about the windchill, but fuck that.  These are the temperatures at which windchill is near-meaningless; either way, it is dangerous.  Fortunately, of course, there is a neighborhood store less than a block away that sells liquor.

I had been kind of keeping my plans open, but at this point, I doubt I will go into my office this week.  Maybe on Sunday to see how much our delivery guys delivered.

Because yeah.  USPS are suspending deliveries for most of the week.  All the schools are closed, including UW-M.  Most City and State offices have told people not to come in.  Most offices are closed, and if I had employees right now, I would tell them to stay the fuck in bed with their spouses and pets.

But, you know, we have lived through this kind of shit before.  That’s why we have brandy.  In fact, most of us save these up to tell our kids and grandkids about the Blizzard of 78 or whatever.  we may be stupid to live here, but we ain’t weak.

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[ANGRY FONT]

But here comes Cheeto Mussolini, the Bone Spur Hero, to misspelling use our Weather Emergency to flog his infantile understanding of weather.  Saying, of course, in the most ridiculously smarmy insulting way that Global Climate Change must be proven wrong by cold weather.  Of course, his tiny thumbs fucked it up and we now must all refer to it as “Global Waming”  all other references will be memory holed immediately.

Deadpool is VERY aggravated at the maligning of Wham!

AS IF he ever has had to endure harsh weather.  As if he has ever shoveled snow.  As if he has ever had the snot freeze in his nose.  As if he even gives a shit other than to ‘own the libs’ and to provide fan service to his moron base.

Of course, no end of mostly intelligent people responded on Twitler and FaceHeil to say why he is wrong, and some went at length to talk about the actual reasons why climate change causes these extreme weather events.  I look at the people who try this with a kind of sad disdain.  I mean, I know what they are trying to do, and I recognize that the spreading of knowledge like this is a good thing, but I really hope they don’t actually expect to reach the rational levels of the Orang’Hai.  Let along the Prime Oran-Orc.  I mean, it’s not as if they read, or as in A Fish Called Wanda “Yes, they do (read) they just don’t understand it”.  Or refuse to understand it, and turn back to their comforting lies from Fox, Breitbart, and Limbaugh.

As the estimable driftglass has said, these are the reprogrammable meatballs that have been bred for the last 40 fucking years to act like flying monkeys attacking whatever targets are identified by the God-fearing Rightwing Leaders and Kings and Rulers and Daddies.

But speaking as a zombie who has to live in this current manifestation of the ravages of global climate change (and shout out especially to the West Coast folk who got burnt up -ostensibly because you don’t fucking rake) this kind of condescending and politically oriented shitlord, can I just say:

 

A while back, I had a bigger office with a few employees, and there was one guy besides me who like Tom Waits.

 

It’s not Friday, but Fuck You, Donny.  When you are put into the cold, cold ground, I will post the perfectly appropriate Elvis Costello song, and yes, I will tramp that fucking dirt down.

OK, out of curiosity, I have watched the competing FYRE Festival documentaries. I was peripherally aware about the failure of this, but holy fucking shit, the complete cluelessness of a rich white guy who is able to convince people to send him money, it was like a new millennia version of a religious huckster. Oh wait, it was a more like a social media version of modern religious huckster.  Oh wait, it was like Trump decided to do a hipster music festival.
 
But seriously, what the hell did people think? Here in Milwaukee, we are home to the largest music festival in the world, over eleven days, serving more or less 100,000 people every day. When the festival ends, every year, they take a couple of weeks off and then start planning the next festival (in reality, I am pretty sure they start planning the next one during the current festival.  And since they are constantly rebuilding and improving the actual physical portions of the site every year, I figure they start planning well in advance of a year). And that is at a location that not only has dedicated facilities (including toilets!) but also the built in ability of an urban area to absorb the needed hotel rooms, traffic, parking and transit.
 
And not to mention that the festival grounds support various ethnic festivals, pretty much every weekend for the entire summer. And they all come together well, mainly because they are planned for most of a year in advance, and are based on expectation of infrastructure and support in place.
 
What I find absolutely inconceivable is that so many of the people involved, many of whom may have been admittedly very young and many of whom had no experience in planning or construction; at the same time there were others who were older and more experienced and had experience in how much effort it takes to do this kind of thing.
The Hulu version presents him as a con artist.  As a professional, I will not say I have not been burned by con artists.  But I will say that I could see early on that their plans did not make sense; I recognize that the normal thinking is that architects do no know anything about spending money, but the reality is that we have to run businesses like anyone else, and within a few years of working on many different ways of completing projects, it becomes apparent that it takes money.  It takes investment.  It takes time and it takes FUCKING EFFORT.
I often say that I have seen projects die for all kinds of reasons.  And a not uncommon one, is that the primary mover on the development team is either a scammer or he is completely clueless.
It was a minor example, but recently I was contacted by a building owner (through a reference). I actually was familiar with the building through a public improvement effort guided by the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the building is a small mess.  The owner said the inspectors told them they needed an architect, and I explained, patiently, that what they were trying to do required the entire building to be reviewed for current codes (which include Existing Building Codes, which can be complex).  When I sent him an estimate, he started to try to cut me down, piecemeal it, and otherwise dismiss the value of my fees.  After a couple of responses, I refused to be drawn; it was obvious he was going to dispute my bills at every step and that he wanted me to try to help him shortcut around building codes.  I have seen it before.  I cut him the fuck off.
What I wonder is why nobody else did that to this shithead?  I mean, he seems like a douchebro at best, how was it that no one saw that?
I do not pretend to some ability to magically find the real impulses behind various folks I deal with.  But I will say that after one bad example, I need see no further reason to work with them, and I have extended that to say to new clients “my insurer requires that I receive (and without saying, having the check clear) a retainer that is based on the scope, extent, and urgency of the services”  Because, you know it, your emergency based on your ignorance or idiocy does not allow me to ignore my current clients (or this current video game) unless you pay accordingly.
So how did all these people just give this guy some inconceivable amount of money, and the people working on it continue to work, when there is no amount of planning being done?  IN fact, the one guy who said the original island selected had NPO CHANCE of supporting the proposed number of attendees, and he said the only way they could support that number needed mooring a boat off shore.  Asshole said, ‘we are not doing the boat, and your services are no longer needed”.
Seriously, at that point, every professional on the project should have walked.
And the original island used to be owned by a drug lord, which was abandoned when he got arrested.  The contract for the island stipulated that the ownership of the island would not be mentioned, but the first marketing efforts prominently displayed his name.  Which voided the contract, leaving them scrambling to find another island.  With like 6 months to go.  I mean, fuck?
But I do not want to spoil too much, if you are interested.  Check them out, one on Hulu and one on Netflix.  You will be amazed at the blindness allowed by models and drugs.  Or maybe not.
OK, maybe I am just a fucking old guy, but what makes me wonder is the ability for people to ignore all the fucking warning signs.  This guy made his mark by creating a credit card that added fees to your existing credit card, for the privilege of having a credit card made out of metal.  The only surprise is this was not Trump-branded, except the Trump family doesn’t have that level of inventiveness.
Fuck.  I tried like hell to just be good at what I do.  When I started my first firm/partnership, with a woman and a Latino, we discussed whether we wanted to approach it as some kind of minority firm, but the rules said it had to be EITHER a woman, or a racial minority; and when we appealed, they just looked confused.  What did we think, forming a firm with one of each?  And none of us wanted to commit to 51% to one or the other, so the whole thing turned shitty and I bailed.  I named the damn firm, too.
So yeah, good at what I do.  I think I am.  Have won some awards.  More importantly, I have done projects that have had positive changes to local neighborhoods, and real families.
But I never cheat, I never scam, I never inflate my fees, I never blow smoke up anyone’s ass.  When I walk into a project, I always start a discussion about the difficulties and the hurdles we will see. When something goes wrong, i let the client know as soon as I can, so we can start working toward solutions.  In the case of serious changes to my fees, I do not bill until the situation is resolved.

OK, now I know why I am not rich.

Shudder released a new series of Joe Bob Briggs “The Last Drive In” movies, for the Turkey Armageddon Holiday, called Dinners of Death.  Did i watch?  Did I bogroll.

During the final movie, he went on an extended diatribe about seeing movies in a group setting (which is perfectly applicable to any group activity) in which he talks about how much more fulfilling it is to take part in a shared experience, even on a streaming service, where he insists that they limit the ability to download for a certain amount of time.  But to Joe Bob, it is the importance of the shared experience.  Which, if you have EVER spent any time reading this pathetic blog, you know I feel strongly about music performances.

And recently, we had just that kind of shared movie/comedy/improv experience when the new and old stars of MST3K brought a 30th anniversary live riffing performance to the beautiful Riverside Theater (a few days after Zombie Friend Scott saw it in LA).  E basically sat an watched a crappy movie. but it was relieved by snarky comments throughout and a few breaks where the people on stage did some stage humor.  A Canadian movie called the Brain, which features the evil scientist from Re-Animator, as an…wait for it…Evil Scientist.

As I said at the time, the experience of sharing it with a couple thousand like minded geeks was tremendous.  We laughed hard, so hard.  There was a guy right in front of us with an actual screen used Crow.  They made Packer jokes.  Joel revealed that he had Cheesehead heritage.  And my!  Didn’t we have a lovely time!

Spoiler alerts.  SODIUM!

Also, MY GOD!  IT’S FULL OF STAIRS!  Ok, it is two particular stairs.

Also, BANG!  Bang!  Bang!

The Mst3K folks just released THE GAUNTLET. a 6-episode binge-oriented series that I have resisted doing a full run through.  Joe Bob’s Dinners With Death has filled in the gap in a wonderful way.

I think this show was particularly a wonderful presentation, with one very mild political joke from the stage, but we are fucking relieved to have punched Scott Walker’s stupid bald spot on top of his stupid, stupid brain, into some Fox News/ Koch sinecures that pay for Tonette’s diet pills.  The audience was awesome, hilarious, and relieved.

Anyway, I am just killing time until the Mike McCarthy again screws up his play calling making Aaron Rodgers that much closer to achieving the “Best Quarterback Ever that was destroyed by his head coach” award.  But for what it’s worth, they have activated Whitewater Superstar Jake Kumerow…..

 

 

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.

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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.

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…..

OK< so here we go again.  Some of you, that go all Book of Face, already know that the zombie here had another episode of re-animation.  This, then is my storification of that, my attempt to wrap my soft noggin around the simultaneous notions of mortality and that I am fucking tough to kill.

So, in the middle of the first month of Donald Trump’s second year of trying to kill all of us, we had some snowfall.  I went out to shovel, and got winded easy, but figured, what the hell, I’d take it easy and did it in a couple of goes.  And the next day, we had a little more snow, and when I went out to shovel, I got winded a bit easier.  So again, I took it in a couple of goes and still got the job done.  But with the flu going around, I thought maybe I was getting some lung crud and went to bed early, figuring I was coming down with something.

Oh yes I was.  But it wasn’t a virus, oh no. By the next day, I couldn’t stand for any length of time, and walking across the house required sitting down for a rest.  Even zombies know this is not a good thing….

It starts as what is known as a DVT, Deep Vein Thrombosis, which starts in the deep veins of your legs.  Clots form, then those little fuckers decide to go walkabout.  These decided to camp out in my pulmonary arteries, which are the ones that take oxygenated blood from the old air sacks to the heart and then to the rest of the body. Since these were now clogged up, the old heart was working hard to get air oxygen everywhere, and the upshot was that I was breathing hard and got dizzy really easy. Well, having had my heart try to abdicate in the past, it was time to make the trip again; since Wife Sublime was on a work gig, I made the obvious call:  Uber.  Quicker and cheaper than an ambulance, and I knew I was going to the ER anyway.

So, once again, I walked into the ER under my own power.  After a brief listen to my laboring heart, they put me into an ER room, and the huge numbers of medical professionals took over. They quickly determined that it was not another heart attack, and rolled me into the CT room.  After the scan, no shit, it took a bare 2 minutes before a doctor came back, saying I had a pulmonary embolism.

PULMONARY EMBOLISM.

Fuck me, that is some scary words.

They told me they were going to inject some very dangerous chemicals into my body to melt those little ambulatory fuckers, and that I could get them into an arm IV, or into a jugular IV.  The difference being the jugular would be able to deliver the chemicals more directly at the clots causing the problem, while the arm IV increased the potential for problematic internal bleeding.  I said, Doctor Vampire, please go ahead and spike me in the jugular vein.

YES, I SAID THEY INSERTED IV SHEATHS INTO MY JUGULAR VEIN.  

But the extremely dangerous chemicals did their jobs, and within 12 hours, my lungs were doing the job again, they terminated the chemicals after 20 hours, and within a day, my heart and lungs were providing more than enough oxygen into my system.

Ok, here’s the horror show.  Since the drugs involved make it very possible for bleeding to happen, it is very common to have a urinary catheter installed, to monitor the bladder output.  In the ER, a technician attempted catheterization, and botched it resulting in blood.  Now, I am only a patient, but I figured blood spattering from the penis is not a desirable outcome.  So he aborted; after I screamed at him in pain.    And, since I was on extremely powerful blood thinning agents, for the next day or so, my groin turned into a slasher movie special effect, bleeding all over fuck at random times.  O, and as a bonus, urination was AAAAARGH PAIN PAIN PAIN needles in the dick.  And although the underlying situation was life threatening, this was the part that was painful.  In a mordantly amusing factor, all the medical professionals that ever walked into my room, for like two days, asked me if I was still having chest pains; I never had chest plains.  Please talk to me about my pissing pains.

It took about two weeks all told, before the doctor in charge was able to let me go.  He was slow-walking my process, without telling me, and the blood threshold we needed was subsequently not being met.  When he finally admitted that he was doing that, I was pissed.  Still am; I respect his opinion on that, but to not let me know that he was doing so and why was, to me, bullshit.  When I forced him to let me go, and my normal doctor took over medications, we hit the blood level that is considered therapeutic in a couple of days.

But there are a couple of things I’d like to mention.  First of all, the ER staff are fucking heroes.  And two of them tracked me down in the ICU after I left their care, just to see how I was doing.  That impressed the fuck out of me.  Those are some amazing people.  Second of all;  The doctor in charge of my case during the stay, did not communicate effectively at any level, and did not involve me in his decisions on my treatment.  At one point, I had to snap at him “I am not a fucking idiot”.  It’s not just that he treated me as if I couldn’t participate in the decisions about my treatment, but that he made them without my involvement.

 

Well, since the nastiness is over, here’s some humor.  With the Uber, I got to the ER sometime after 3 in the afternoon, and after some testing, the ER staff asked me if there was someone they should call.  I knew WS was on a work gig, so when I got the chance with my phone, I called and left her a message, knowing she would get back to me or the hospital.  But for the next few hours, the staff kept asking me for her phone number, and they left a series of messages.  You see, WS has two phones, a personal and a work phone and on this particular day, she only had her work phone.  So, after they ensconced me into an ICU room, I texted her with “I am in room xxxx”, figuring she had my VM.  But she didn’t look at her phone until she was going to bed, and saw a bunch of messages.  But she saw the text first, which was just weird.  So eventually, late at night, she called me and asked if she should come in, but not really at that point.  I said that for the most part, the medical team didn’t seem to need her input…

But, at the end of the day, I find a funny aspect to this.  Many people touching base on FaceHell and others, keep asking me if I have been getting exercise, if I’ve been taking my meds,  what other things I’ve been doing wrong.  But here; the doctors have said that I have not had the typical issues that result in these DVTs.  What people want to hear, is that there is someone at fault, there is something that was not or was done that made for this occurrence.  Friends try and couch it in terms of concern, but what they really want to know, is that they are making themselves safe and that whatever health issues you have just had will never apply to them.  They are Safe, because they Act Properly.  But here’s the thing; sometimes bad things will happen and there is no fault.

Sometimes I feel like Fletcher Christian
twisting off the serpents head
for the mutiny I’ll shoot the big one
hot and hungry, far from home

Through the sun and sea my skin is peeling
but it don’t make the pictures fade
those shapes and symbols, I know their meaning
the shameless riches of another world

If I return they’re sure to hang me
so I guess I’ll have to stay
and if I should croak out in the darkness
No-one will know I got away