Archive for the ‘Fridge Note’ Category

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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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

Well, it’s been a tough year.  I think a telling pointer to how bad it was, is that the year-end “This was the year that was” mail-it-in contractual obligation pieces have been WAY fewer than I ever remember.  It seems nobody wants to dwell on it, other than the Fast-Food toddler playacting as truck driver/ Elected official.

At the holiday gatherings, I had my right wing brothers-in-law ask me how things were going in business, and when I said I was busy, they smirked and said “Trump is being good to you, huh?”  After I said that the economic activity is due to the Black Guy and nothing Big Diaper Boy has done, I expounded by saying that NOT ONLY has Turdwaffle tried to kneecap the larger historic preservation projects in Madison and Milwaukee by capping single-project credits at $500,000.  which seems like a lot, sure, but see this; the current project I am working on, is only medium sized, and the budget is about 7.5 million; the State tax credit is 20%, so it should result in tax credits of 1.5 million.

AND I went on.  I pointed out that in the Rich Guy giveaway fest just passed, the Federal tax credit went back and forth between the House and Senate, and it never seemed to reach a consensus of a real sort.  I imagine they were much more concerned with protecting the underserved inheritance of spoiled shits like the Trumps.  The Federal historic preservation tax credit is also 20% of eligible construction costs.

now, I will point out several things.  First, that an overwhelming majority of Americans support saving older buildings.  And further, that money expended on historic preservation projects (which is not the same as the tax credits offered, as the tax credits are usually recouped within a few years by the increased tax revenue from a newly re-assessed and active building) returns about $1.60 for every dollar expended, which is one of the best returns showed outside of drug deals.  And finally, that Preservation and restoration of historic buildings are usually in neighborhoods that have been on the downs, and that these projects very often result in the renewal of these areas.

So, between Turdwaffle and Comrade Stupidhair, we stood to lose about a third of the development incentives on this project.  On a 7.5 million dollar project, it amounted to 3 million dollars that the developer could use as part of his financial portfolio and tax planning, which, believe me, this guy would appreciate.  And without it, it was not likely to be a viable project.

They kind of shut up about the Trumps at that point, as I was armed for Russian bears.

But here.

On the occasion of the a new year, I am weirdly optimistic.  On the political side, David Clarke got kicked off of Twitter for being an Internet Tough Guy, threatening the “media”.  Turdwaffle has appalling polls.  Trump is making being a Republican not only as popular as being a pedophile, but actually SYNONYMOUS with it.

In addition to the project above, I have two townhouse developments in planning, one private, one LIHTC.  Several smaller projects for repeat clients, and a fun restaurant project.

It is a hazard, I suspect of being an architect.  It is an inherently optimistic occupation, that dwells on building for the future.  But as those of you have followed the Empire, I have been through darker periods, and longer.

But, in any case, I usually resort to this later in the year, when I am trying to find the strength to make it all the way through.  But this year, it strikes me as a statement of purpose, a rallying cry to keep the eyes up and the focus sharp.

my broken house behind me
and good things ahead
a girl named Cathy
wants a little of my time
six cylinders underneath the hood
crashing and kicking
aha!
listen to the engine whine

There will be feasting and dancing indeed. (LOL.  I was going to post this on FaceHell, but figured the terrorist theme would be taken poorly)

 

Lucifer, the Orange Leaky Ass Dog from 2008:

IMG_0047Lucifer, the slightly-less leaky ass dog from more recent days:

IMG_2076.JPG

I guess we need some Hair Club for Dogs around here.  I have sympathy.

Moving Pictures

Posted: June 17, 2017 in Fridge Note, Shovels, Uncategorized

Just a little throwaway post, about nothing much, here.  Filling some time before ramping up for Summerfest, you know.

As an architect, I recognize that we have many traits and idiosyncrasies that point us out for mockery and ridicule, and occasionally lawsuits.  One of the most long standing (and deserved) ones is that we do illustrations of projects that are FAR more flattering than what results after construction.  I remember seeing a series in a book, that showed buildings and spaces filled with happy laughing people, children, pets and ample verdant greenery in a public space, and when complete is was a barren paved parking area with worn late model cars and stained asphalt.

The evolution of 3 dimensional CAD has been helpful on this, but it can also be as big a culprit.  I have seen many illustrations that feature either ridiculously multi-ethnic crowds or faceless white ghost people.  Ghost trees too.  Improbably clean vehicles, and brand-new buses and trains.

But some of you may recall this project, that started out like this a couple of years ago:

4021 shorewood block design

So that project has worked its way to completion, with only one serious snafu (on a project of this scope, 96 apartments, with associated parking and retail space.  Here was a rendering of the project that was presented to obtain approval from the Architectural Review Board:

IMG_2448

And, here is a photo of the final product:

P08_GC_MetroMarket_Final_View_4F_Small

LOL!  Of course, I put those in reverse order, the illustration is on the bottom.

The biggest fudge on the illustration is that main facade in it is north facing, so the sun position was massaged to provide better shading to show the third dimension.  Also, you can see that as much as I tried to get him to adjust the color balance, he missed accuracy on the material colors.  Although frankly, the rendering is closer to the way human eyesight actually interprets the colors.

Incidentally, the project won a Business Journal Real Estate Award.

Some of you may remember, that in between sporadic posting, drunken benders, and arguing incessantly with mikey, I occasionally perform professional architectural services.  One of which is doing a facade inspection on buildings five stories or greater, which almost always involved boom lifts or swing stages, and these efforts often result in amusing anecdotes involving petrifying fear of heights. HA!  HA!  Fear is funny, says the Firesign Theatre….

Well, I haven’t had to do that in a while; I decided that my Fear Billing Rate is equal to my highest billing rate, and on top of equipment rental that makes my fees to do these things fall at the higher end of the spectrum.  Don’t miss it, although I never minded cashing the checks.

So anyways, one of my current engagements is to provide professional consultation for a wall failure on a 6th floor penthouse addition to an older building, where the original contractor is out of business and the track of culpability is not able to be established, yet the wall needs to be repaired and rebuilt.  We’ve tracked the cause of the failure, and as we disassemble the walls, the internal evidence supports our hypothesis, so the repairs we are specifying are appropriate.

And last week, I was called to the site to review some conditions that exhibit a bit more deterioration than we’ve seen, and the contractor wanted to get my review.  The residents of the penthouse floor were not available to obtain access through their units, so we had no choice but to use the boom lift to access the sixth floor, roughly 70 feet above street level.  I geared up in a harness, explained to the Operator that I was not a fan of aerial work, and up we went….

As we rode the bucket, we chatted.  Operator told me that the building developer was pretty tense going up, I told about having a boom trip the overbalance breaker once, and as we went higher and higher, I was glancing out at the roads, and to the East the Summerfest grounds; and I became aware that my hands were not white-knuckling the railing. 

When we got to the sixth floor, I clambered out of the bucket onto the roof, and we spent the rest of our time walking back and forth along the roof, looking at the exposed structure and level of deterioration, and discussing various potential remedies.  Climbed back into the bucket, and rode down….

When we landed, and I unbuckled my harness, I reflected on what just happened.

Every prior time I was doing aerial work, my fear of heights triggered, and I was terribly uncomfortable.  Sometimes, just walking out onto an elevated balcony (one I had designed!) was enough, and there was a full height railing.  Glass walkways could trigger it.

Best I can figure, is that after The Event a couple of years ago, I now have a different frame of reference for existential Fear.

Riding a bucket to 70 feet or so, while wearing safety gear and with a trained operator pales in comparison to sitting in an Emergency Room with a half dozen medical professionals trying to keep me alive while it becomes more and more difficult to breathe.

I guess there’s no moral to this, unless it’s that you can cure acrophobia by having a heart attack, which seems like kind of a stretch if not a kind of unadvised attempt at a cure.