Archive for the ‘Fridge Note’ Category

It’s a Holiday Tradition at the Empire!  The Piano Story.  And, since the country started holiday drinking early, we have a new Un-President who is eager to get that nuculer war under way, so here’s a jolly little ditty:

In a more generous and Christmas-ey note, Milwaukee musician and Empire fave Trapper Schoepp got his piano this year.

Merry XMess

THE FIRST LAUGH
Recently, someone pointed me towards an online humor carnival. I didn’t throw anything into it, but it made me think about funny moments.

And one of the funniest moments I’ve ever seen personally was such a minor slapsticky moment, it didn’t seem worth it. It was a time when my girlfriend at the time walked full into a glass door. Did you ever see a Star Trek Blooper where Shatner charges into one of those Enterprise doors, expecting the stage hands to pull them aside in time for him to lunge through, and they don’t? Shatner makes a thwock sound and bounces back five or six feet. This was exactly like that except funnier, and I fell over laughing helplessly.

Well, for some reason that girlfriend didn’t immediately drop me as an inconsiderate buffoon; several years later after getting married, graduating, getting a job and finding a real apartment, it was a good time to show how much she meant to me; it was time to find The Perfect Christmas Gift.

THE SET-UP
My wife constantly lamented her family’s inability to afford a piano as a child. As a good husband, one only has to mention something 3 or 4 hundred times before I clue into it, so I struck upon the inspired idea of giving her a piano for Christmas. A Piano!

….uuhhh, how does one go about procuring a piano?

Let’s start with the Yellow Pages! (pre-internet, kidsos, keep up here.) Ahh. A place right downtown called the Piano Gallery. Good place to start. Could I BE a bigger idiot? It was a friggin’ GALLERY. With Pianos, beautiful, gorgeous pianos of spectacular finish and epic, gorgeous tone; pianos that could make you weep. Both kinds: Grand and Baby Grand. Reconditioned, starting at eight thousand dollars. Whoops! Maybe this idea won’t be going anywhere after all. Let’s look at calendars.

Well, after puttering around a couple of mall-style stores that seemed to specialize in automated piano-like organs with automatic beats aimed at little old ladies to jazz up rhumba night at the retirement home, I resorted to the For Sale ads. (These are like an analog version of Craig’s List for you kidsos. newspapers used to have them. Ask your grandfather what a newspaper was.) Finally I found an upright for sale right in the sweet spot of my price range. Oddly enough, when I came to look at it, the address was…a waterbed store? Weirder and weirder. I went in and asked for Mark, who was apparently the manager.

He took me back to the loading dock, and I asked… “Why are you selling it ? And… why in a waterbed store?” Mark replied that he had moved to town recently, their condo did not have room, and so it had to go.

The piano was an upright made in Chicago by Camp & Company around 1914; the wood had warm golden finish that was soft and deep. There were some carved and applied wood details, that were more of a crude craftsman style; they imparted an unassuming , almost home built character. The ivory on the keys was yellowed, but smooth, evidence of its age and the thousands of fingers that had played it. As an architect, I am always sensitive to the way built items age and acquire historic patina; the instrument appealed to me on an aesthetic level.

He asked me if I wanted to play it, and I replied that it would be a gift for my wife, that I didn’t really know how to play and knew little of pianos. So he sat on the railing of the loading dock and pounded out some boogie-woogie, and a little christmas music. Although the instrument was maybe a bit out of tune, it had a lively, ebullient sound. (Later I found that through dumb luck, we had acquired an instrument that was well built with a nearly-intact soundboard and a serviceable action). It was obvious that he loved the instrument, it sounded passable to my tin ears, and I said it was a deal.

THE ROUND-UP
Now here’s where things get intricate, and I maybe tried to be too tricksy. I wanted to deliver it on Christmas eve, which was a Saturday this year. Mark said he would be able to work with that on two conditions: First, it would have to be in the morning, because he would have to open the store to get it; and second, that I pay him in cash, because he and his family were leaving for a Holiday trip that day. This seemed workable to me; how vainly optimistic one can be!

I arranged for a couple of friends, Mike, Rory and Jack to help me out, and spent several days congratulating myself on achieving the Perfect Gift. I was just counting chickens, friends and guinea pigs, when the eggs were alligator.

THE HOOK
Saturday Morning, Christmas Eve. My wife got up and needed to do some last minute shopping; how perfect! I could barely keep from laughing and telling all in glee as I kissed her goodbye. My helpers were due to be here by 10 AM, so I had to get to U-Haul to get a truck. I have no compunction about mentioning the company here; you will soon see why.

The U-Haul store was a bit busy, but they had assured me they had a truck when I called. They certainly did: a nineteen foot delivery truck. NINETEEN feet. For a single piano. Of course, the advertised $19.95 rate was not available for this truck. The small truck with the $19.95 banner parked right next to this one? Not serviced; not available. Oh well, small concern, considering the cost of the gift. Gimme the keys. Took the truck home, to wait for my helpers.

9:30.

10:00

10:30

10:45. By now, i started calling them. Rory? no answer. Jack? No Answer. Mike? Finally an answer! Hoarsely, “I don’t think I’m gonna be able to make it….” Rory? Still no answer. Jack calls back. Jack! He wasn’t going to be able to make it either, unless we could be sure he’d be done by 2 PM. Oh, no problem! Come on over! Okay, fine, after you’ve had some coffee. I didn’t tell you to go drinking last night.

So, Jack and I -just half of the movers I had anticipated as necessary – finally got back into the truck by about quarter after eleven, and got on the road.

THE TALE
Hah. Fooled you. It wasn’t that easy, of course. The truck wouldn’t start. Not a dead battery; it was a gap in the flywheel. For you non-gearheads, this meant that the starter would just spin away without turning the engine at all. I looked at Jack; he looked at me. Ummm. After fooling around for ten minutes, Jack had a brainstorm – he disengaged the gear shift, which moved the flywheel – just enough – that the starter caught and the engine started.    Wooo! Here we go. Down the highway, back behind the waterbed store and back up to the loading dock, killing the truck and running in to meet Mark, who was very impatient by now.

Now go back and read that last sentence again, and see if you can catch our mistake. Let the adventure begin.

I went in and paid Mark, and while Jack and I were securing the piano, Mark closed the door and hit the road. Jack and I laughed to see the piano – just an upright – sitting in that cavernous truck, roped to the side.  We could have fit a whole CAR in there and never touched the piano.

Back to the cab, ready to go. As you may have guessed, the starter was whiffing again. We tried the gearshift trick, but this time were not so lucky, it didn’t help. The truck was in a loading dock depression, so we couldn’t push it . Now Jack and I looked at each other and had little in the way of ideas. You know, keep in mind that at this time cell phones were bigger than bricks and cost thousands of dollars.

Settle in now, this is getting interesting.

Hey, there’s a phone by the gas station across the street. (station closed, of course). But who to call? I can’t call my wife, besides the awful giveaway, she’s not home. Try calling U-Haul? They’re no longer open. Isn’t there an emergency number? If I ran U-Haul, it would be plastered all over the inside of the cab. After half an hour of searching, we finally find it, in the small print of the Operations Manual. So I give it a call.

And get an operator. In Arizona. Who wonders whether it’s cold in Wisconsin. Ha-ha, yes, and we’ve got snow. And I’m standing outside in an open phone booth, trying to get help for the broken-ass truck that I rented from a Local U-hauler. Ha-ha, yes it’s not a good day for it, is it? Enough with the levity, let’s start discussing how you’re going to help me. You what? You need to call the local 24 hour service, who will get back to me? Fuck me sideways with a christmas tree, did I mention I am standing outside an open phone booth? By a highway? Oh, yes, please do try and get him to call as quickly as possible.

I run back to the truck to tell Jack that I got somebody, but now I need to wait for a return call.

And run back across the road to wait. It starts to snow.

UNDER-SERVED
While I’m waiting, Jack comes over to give his sister a call. It is now after 1 PM, and he’s got to get on the road somehow. After he calls, we notice a bar across the highway that appears to be open. Hey, just the thing! A nice hot drink, some brandy certainly, maybe a snack… we can call Arizona Lady back and give her the bar’s number. This works! We dodge the traffic to get across and tumble through the door, savoring the warmth and the welcoming smells of a tavern … aaaaahhhh.

“Hey, gents! Can we do something quick for ya? We’re closing down.”

Gaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh…… A quick explanation, and no, we can’t hang around even if they’re closed, whattaya, nuts? Gotta get home to the family!! So – it’s back to the phone booth. And the snow.

BYPASS ON THE BYPASS
Now, this is the place where the Universe looks down and… decides to fuck with me. I mean more. As I stand and wait for someone, somewhere to dial this phone on an icy intersection in the deepening wintery gloom, there’s little to do but watch the cars go by. Lights change, cars go one way; the lights change again and they go the other. A fair amount of last minute shopping traffic, actually. The phone is close enough to the street to be able to see drivers clearly. Once in a while, one looks over at me; maybe one out of four looks at me in puzzlement, obviously wondering what in hell is possessing me to stand there. But most of them are just driving past, much more intent on finishing their shopping and getting the hell home. And as I am watching the cars, I see one at the next light that looks an awful lot like ours. At the time, we had a last-year-model Fiero, you see, and there were not that many of them on the streets. Kind of unusual. This one matched ours. I couldn’t make out the license plate, though, and as it swept around the corner, of course I saw quite clearly: my wife. In our Fiero. Driving blithely right past me. Stranded at an abandoned gas station, with her gift stranded in a truck across the street.

The impulse to try and wave her down came, but the car was gone before any frozen limbs could be cracked into action. She was one of the drivers who paid no attention, of course. If someone had driven by with an open window at that moment, they might have been able to hear a few cracked, desperate laughs through the wind and snow.

OVER THE WIRE
After some indefinable amount of time passed, the phone rang. It was Arizona Lady.

Well, things were going great down in Arizona. She had located the service company up in Milwaukee, and left a message for their driver….

“Hold on. Left a message?”

“Yes sir.”

“Your truck has left me stranded by a highway in the Wisconsin winter, and you left a message?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I know it may not seem terribly urgent down there in Arizona, but did it ever occur to you that I am sitting here with a defunct piece of shit truck, freezing while I’m waiting for help, and that maybe it could use a bit more effort than leaving a message?”

“Sir, I have done what I can. Why don’t you run the truck heater?”

“IF I COULD START THE TRUCK TO RUN THE HEATER, WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.”

“I AM sorry sir.”

“…yea, me too. Just….do what you can, OK? It’s not Arizona up here.”

The tow truck driver would be calling me at the pay phone number after he checked his messages; he would let me know when he was ready to come and get me. Thankfully and against all expectation, the driver called me within a few minutes, and after getting the location, let me know that it would likely be about 45 minutes, because he had another job to take care of first. Busy season, ya know. I agreed; next time I would plan my breakdown emergency better and schedule ahead.

Jack’s sister showed up soon with their car packed for their own holiday trip, full of clothes, gifts, and their two large dogs. Although cramped, we all piled into the front seat grateful for the warmth; the truck cab had gotten down to air temperature by now and we were chilled. Jack, his sister and I shared passed around…. well a little bit of holiday cheer, I guess you could call it; by the time they left for their own holiday gathering, most of my despair had been blunted, for a short time at least. It was three PM, and the sky was leaden gray, although the snow had mostly stopped.

I walked across the road once again to use that cursed open phone to call home and leave a message.

“Hi, it’s me. I….well, I’m having quite a day. I will probably be home in an hour or two. Nothing’s wrong, really; I’m OK. It’s just….well, I’ll explain when I get home. Don’t worry.”

Then, I settled into the cab alone to try and stay warm and wait for the tow driver, hoping this wouldn’t be too long.

THE HOOK-UP
I was a little surprised when I saw the tow truck pull into the parking lot. I had forgotten that U-Haul had given me the 19 footer. The tow truck was a 6 wheel monstrosity with dual booms, as large as a semi truck cab. It was about 4:30, and it had gotten fully dark by now. I stepped out and Chris introduced himself. He asked me what was wrong with the truck, and then spent some time looking it over. After a few minutes, I asked if I could sit in the cab of the tow, because I had been out here in the cold for hours.

“Oh, sure! Go ahead! Why didn’t you run the heater?”

Grrmmph.

THE SHOVE-OFF
Chris came back and said that the truck was in pretty bad shape. No news to me, of course, but I was just thankful to be warming up. Now, he started to explain to me that he was on a 24 hour call cycle from the Milwaukee Police department, and that all weekend he would be on call to clear accident sites for them. I was concentrating on getting warm, and didn’t really register what he was saying, until something like this came out:

“…so I would have to leave you and your truck and take care of it…”

“…wait, what?”

“Well, if the police call with a tow request, I’ll have to dump you and your truck and take care of their needs first. I just want to be clear about that before I start towing you.”

“Um. What’s the alternative?”

“I could try calling one of the other towing services for you, but I don’t know anybody else on call this weekend. It’s a holiday, you know.”

“I’ve been made aware. I’m gonna take the chance. Just one thing; if you get another call, can I ride with you, rather than sitting in that broken-ass truck?”

“Well…I’m not supposed to. But maybe…. OK, but just stay in the truck when we do, OK?”

“Fine. Great. Let’s go.”

So Chris turned up the heater for me, and went back to disconnect the drive shaft and get the truck hoisted. He came back into the tow cab to fill out some paperwork, and then he got back out to check the connections.  And then he put the hoist back down, because guess what? Yes, he got a call from the MPD. And off we went to an accident site.

HOOKED
It was a pretty minor fender bender, all things considered, right outside of a gas station. I sat in the cab and watch Chris and the cops work, and looked into the convenience store to see a clerk waiting on people for gas, beer, and cigarettes. When Chris got back in, he mentioned that the car was probably drivable, but the driver was DUI, so he had to tow it to the impound lot. Now warm, I could even muster a bit of humor; “Someone who’s having a worse Christmas Eve than I am.” I said. I asked Chris if he’d mind if I stepped out to use the pay phone and call home. This time my wife was home. Now, will it be possible to not let the secret out?

“Hi. I’m still having a bit of , umm, delay . Adventure. But there’s progress and I should be home in a little while.”

“…ohhh-kaaaaay…”

“Ummm, is Tom home upstairs?”

“…yea, I think so.”

“Could you ask him if he might be around a little later? I might need some help.”

“…ohhhh-kaaaaay….what kind of help?”

“just – umm,  help moving something. OK?”

“….ohhh-kaaaaay…”

Chris had gotten the car hooked up and we were off to the impound lot. Which is not the holiday destination you’d expect it to be.

It was after 7 by the time we got back to ‘my’ truck. Chris just had to hoist it at this point, though, and were on the road relatively quickly. I almost cried….no, I did cry. A little bit. After all this time, to actually be making some progress, some distance, in the direction I wanted to go….it was too much.

After about ten minutes of travel, the radio squawked. I looked up, startled, Chris looked at me and answered – another MPD call. Chris was apologetic, but duty called first and we dropped the crippled truck in a closed mall’s parking lot. It looked abandoned, sitting alone in the middle of the paving under a single light, no other vehicle around it. I worried, briefly, about someone burglarizing it. But what would they do with a piano? As we turned the corner, I wasn’t sure I cared.

THE BIG ROLL
This accident was a good deal less significant than the previous, and Chris just had to clear the street. Another tow truck was coming for the vehicle. So amazingly enough, we were back on the road toward my abandoned truck within half an hour or so. It was 8:30.

Again, Chris hoisted the U-Haul truck, and we turned out onto the highway. Chris was conciliatory at this point, and he vowed that if he received another call, he would make sure he dropped me off before answering it. I wasn’t terribly concerned at this point; I was warm.

He didn’t get another call, though, and just after 9 PM on Christmas Eve, we pulled up in front of our duplex. Turns out I didn’t need Tom from upstairs to help us move the piano. Chris was a large guy, and being sympathetic to the effort it took for me to get this far, helped me unload the piano and get it in our apartment.

My wife, of course, loved the piano and still does; it took several drinks to tell the story and still is a holiday favorite.  But I always find myself thinking to what it must have looked like to my wife, keeping a watch for me to come home through our front windows.  Eventually, the tow truck turned the corner, with it’s full array of running and flashing lights, and the lights of the U-Haul truck also lit up.  I have no idea what this 40-plus feet of contraption looked like, coming to a stop in front of our apartment.  Normally, it would be the results of some large, appalling accident.  But for this one year, at least, it looked like Christmas.
Epilogue:  THE STING
Chris helped me move the instrument into our apartment, and I insisted on tipping him all the cash I had left. He had performed above and beyond the call of duty. He asked whether I wanted him to drop the truck.“I never want to lay eyes on that vehicle again. If I see it out there tomorrow morning, I’ll probably set it on fire; so you could leave it at the U-Haul store, their repair lot, or push it into the lake, makes no difference to me.” He said he’d drop it at their repair lot.On the first business day after the holiday, I received a phone call from my favorite truck rental company.“Sir, we have you on record as renting a truck from us two days ago.””Uh-huh.”“Sir, we need to know where the truck is.”

Oh, let’s close the curtain on that scene; and you can just fill in the blanks for the rest of THAT conversation.

To all my imaginary digital friends, acquaintances, visitors and general pains in the asses, enjoy your own holidays, love your friends and family, and I hope someone brought you YOUR piano.

 

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…

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.

Upland Stories

Posted: April 16, 2016 in Fridge Note, Shovels, Wa fuckin Ha

Not much to say, although much happens..

 

But my office window sills have many motorcycles, and many zombies.  But I may need to make room for these fuckers:

 

IMG_2646

This is the story of my time machine invention.
It’s not perfect, cuz I’m not that bright.
We walk our days with the best of intentions,
But when I screw things up, I wanna go back and make ‘em right.
Yeah, I’m a believer in mind over matter.
And I’ve made my mind up to travel in time.
Restart the days, and I’ll do it so much better.
I waste so much time a worryin’ I forgot to live my life.

I’m not going anywhere ‘til I’m back to where it was we were before.
I don’t need anything except always needing just a little more.
I run in circles so I can kick me in the pants.
There’s a reason God is doG backwards: we must chase the tail.

The truth is my invention refuses to go backwards.
A tiny glitch I’m sure to figure out.
But I can ride on the moment slowly time travelling forwards
So the next destination is always right now. (All aboard!)

I’ve finally solved the puzzle of my time machine invention.
You see, in the future, this present is the past, so
If you give this moment your fullest attention
We’ll just keep going forwards with no need for going back.

Warning, FWIW.  And like anyone would notice, as I often go away for a week or more. I am trying to do better.

But we are going away for a week or so, to another location.  San Antonio, if you must know. Home of the former Bloggerhood who ran Republic Of Dogs, and hosted an AG before he foisted her off on me, and we both ran away screaming….

Anyway, I reached out to him on FaceHell, but he is off the Hell for the duration of the election (must have a shitload of rightwing contacts) so I haven’t heard back.  Or maybe he was just so traumatized by the Zombie that he hates me now, whatever….

Anyways, anyone have any knowledge of San Antonio?  Good places/restaurants, entertaining or scary people, places to buy drugs?  Remembrances?  Places Ozzy Osbourne has peed?  Let me know.

So, we will be riding this Time Machine Invention just a little farther forward.  We will be back, I am pretty sure….

 

Two recent posts by other people who work harder at this blogging thing than I do.

Scott Lemieux does a long form breakdown of why voting for your perfect windmill-tilting candidate, or not voting at all, is a fool’s game.  I know, I know, it’s LGM and they tolerate people like Denverite and me.  I used to like them before they fucking SOLD OUT, man…

John Cole, a famously right wing asshole who changed his mind and became a decent kind of guy, talking about the real, pragmatic and eyes-open reasons he has become willing to support Hillary in the primary.  Spoiler:  It involved RESEARCH!!!

Unlike Cole, I have not made up my mind yet.  I still agree with the Professional Left, that in the general, I will be voting for the same person that Bernie Sanders votes for.  However, notwithstanding this, I am still tending to vote primary for Sanders if he sticks it out till Wisconsin. (NO SLEEP TIL FOND DU LAC!!!) because I think he has helped pull the entire party to the left, my comfort zone, and the more support he gets now will make him even more effective in the Senate and in the Democratic Party.  Both completely worthwhile achievements….

But he has a couple of great points.  One is that Bernie is a bit old, and seems to be aging on the campaign trail, while Hillary seems to be getting energized.  The second, even more salient, is that Clinton has not only survived all of the insane vitriol the rightstaffel has thrown at her, but she has learned from the previous run, discarded the wastes of space like Mark Penn, and surrounded herself with knife-fighters and dirty brawlers.  Which will be necessary whether the opponent is Trump or Cruz.  And finally, is that by all evidence, she is held in massive respect by everyone she has worked with in the Congress, in the Administration, and overseas.  And that is going to be a crucial thing considering the level of obstruction that will be thrown into the next Democratic President’s path.

Fucking shit.  After my entire voting life, I am happy to see the Democrats seem to FINALLY, FUCKING FINALLY, getting the hang of the kind of crotch-kicking, eye-gouging, hair pulling fights that are politics.

I have said it before; I like Bernie lots, and like I said before I am likely vote for him in the primary; but I also love him where he is, making common cause with Elizabeth Warren and (hopefully) Russ Feingold.

I disagreed with Obama during his campaigns.  I disagreed with every single candidate I have ever voted for (except maybe Jimmy Carter, but that was because I was probably poorly informed).  I will disagree with Hillary, and I will disagree with Bernie.  But here’s the thing; look at how Obama has traversed leftward during his tenure, and he has dragged the Democratic Party with him.  He has done it because of pressure from below, Occupy and BLM and people like us.  He has also done it because he no longer has any fucks to give.

 

In contrast to a former friend who always wanted to say ‘voting for the lesser evil is still voting for evil’ and is now going all in for Sanders, ignoring the times he has voted for evil in particular with regards to guns (and we have had a couple of gun killings/massacres in the midwest, s have all of you.  Because daily gun killings are the way we work in America) I will quote another friend by saying, not voting, or voting for a vanity candidate, means you are voting for the MORE evil candidate and how does THAT make sense?.

I have always been politically activated.  I antagonized some of my fellow members in architecture studio by posting political cartoons in my workspace. I watched the 1984 returns with a friend, getting HEROICALLY drunk and scrawling increasingly incoherent responses in a notebook.  Here at home, we watched the 2008 returns together (and remember Young Zombie was attending a minority-majority Milwaukee Public School) and when Obama did his acceptance speech, I wept, yes I did.

I love that the left side of this race has been respectful and substantive.  While the right side has been consumed with insults and dick measuring.

Of course, the American populace is inherently at least 40% knee-jerk insane bigots and authoritarians, so anyone nominated in the ReaganDome process will have a spitting chance of winning, emphasis on the spitting.

So, to sum up:

IGNORE THAT CORPORATE SHILL DEBBIE WASSERMANN SCHMALTZ AND KICK THE FUCKERS IN THEIR SHRIVELED GONADS,  AND TAKE A CHAINSAW TO THE MONSTERS THE REPUBLICANS WILL BE PUSHING OUT OF THEIR CIRCUS CLOWN CAR PROCESS.

 

 

Recently, doing some discussion late night with folks on FaceHell about houses and designing houses and how architects actually design houses.  It was late at night on both sides, but I expressed a bitter side of it…

 

I have often said that I am conflicted, sometimes.  I bill a bit less than most attorneys, but I still kind of figure that when I spend time on your behalf, that I should be recompensed.

But what is weird, is here.  Many many people figure that if I work on their behalf and they never go forward with the project, they really don’t owe me anything.  Which is never part of whatever agreement we have (admittedly, I am perfectly willing to spend some amount of time for clients that I have an ongoing relationship with, but that is based on already cashing some checks,even if they are on other projects.  Good credit, you see….)

I have done work for impoverished areas to improve the housing stock, and I have also done multi-million dollar penthouses in the factory district.  I have one client for whom I have done his residence three times….and he is a third generation person who used his parents to help him become a big time developer; he is mostly Republican, although his parents are die-hard Democrats.  But here’s the difference; He has learned, through working for his parents, the value of being a decent developer and he is one of the most respectable people I have ever met in this debased business.

In fact, here was a recent conversation I had with him:

“blah blah blah “

(Side conversation) ” have a good weekend pam”

You’re letting Pam have the afternoon off? (this was like 2 PM on a Friday)\

Shit, on a Friday I am pretty much the only person here.  I am the best boss ever

You don’t have to tell me.  I have had some pretty crappy clients….

His parents are also lovely people, who I have done work for.  They are first-person contacts with the Obamas (so I am 2 degrees, right).  I started working for his father’s company when I was in college, and managed a 24 unit building (a block from where I live now) and later, designing a new office down the hall from my office in a rehab building (they resided in their previous office for like 27 years!) and then designing their offices later when they moved to a a rehab building in the Third Ward.  I have to say that there is no better feeling than when someone keeps coming back to you as a professional….

But I digress.  I came here to talk about the draft.  Wait.  Let me back up.  I was here to talk about Shithead fuckhead people who stiff people who gave them credit.

Like Turdwaffle. Yes, he will eventually find a way for his captive Legislature to turn that back to us in Wisconsin; in fact, they might find a way to make Milwaukee bear the brunt, if not taking it out of the hide of the UW or, in the end, public schools.  So many victims!

Like I said, I am conflicted.  As an architect, my clientele tends toward the wealthy, because who the fuck else can spend and extra 5-8 percent on their construction cost for a turtleneck-wearing motherfucker?  Or more, if that motherfucker has already designed houses for all your parent’s friends? (I don’t wear turtlenecks)

Myself, I have designed several extra-million dollar house projects.  So how am I to feel about those?  When they happened, I sucked up to rich fuckers as as necessary, and cashed those goddam checks, you know I did.

I don’t want to blow my own horn, but I am  fucking good architect, who has had many design awards. But that’s not even the point; the idea is that I do some great works, both outside and inside.

And should I not be paid for that?

I understand, that when it comes to the work I have done for the NFP corporations in the distressed areas of the city.  But When I have done the same work for other cities?  Damn.

After many years, I am fucking great at several aspects:  Code work.  Existing buildings.  design.  GREAT design.  coordination with all the other assholes.

What I suck at?  getting money from dickwads.

 

I have seen Bob Mould several times, solo and with a band (and I found myself wondering how weak it had to be to be a keyboard player in Bob Mould’s band?)

I loved Husker Du, as one of the MPLS triumvirate, Huskers, Soul Asylum and the Replacements.  And I saw almost none of them at their peaks, except for Soul Asylum in a 300 person club on the Hang Time tour and were they superb? Also, the Replacements on a show where Westerberg was too drunk to stand up for an encore…You tell me…

But on to other issues. As some of you know, I had The Event last June, and survived.  But seriously, once you are already a zombie, what the fuck, you know?  But the imperatives of medical professionals became a thing (and the support of Wife Sublime’s corporate health care, thank you love) and we discovered that I am also a diabetic, Fuck My Life you know…

So, for the last several months, I have been working to make some of these things better.  I have been exercising more, and eating less.  Eating better and being good about my meds.  Stopped pretending I would live forever…

A couple of months ago., I met with my cardiologist…

When I was in the ICU, they did an electrocardiogram of my traitor heart.  For those of you who haven’t had this experience, most hearts pump in a 50-55% range.  When they did mine after the heart attack, it was 25%.  This was in the realm where I would have to steal Dick Cheney’s heart to avoid arrhythmia.  I was fitted for a crazy chest device that would shock my heart into behavior….But after a couple of extra days in the IC, the Dual Cardiologists on my case said that my heart performance had improved to 35% which was out of the danger range…

Here’s the thing.  Your own dam heart only works like 50% effective.  Because it pumps one side, and then lets the backside come in.  It makes sense, you know?  I had TWO GODDAM cardiologists coming in to check on my, and I started to love the health care that Wife Sublime’s company posts….

So I came in and met with Mr. Straight Edge, who once chided me when I confessed to eating a brat at a party.  BP was not great, weight was not as low as it should be.  Lungs and heart sounded OK. Took a bunch of blood.

He had a tech do a new echocardiogram.  She pushed a device into my chest until it hurt, then had a tech come in and put in an intravenous, so they could put colors into my body that made them more visible.  Then she continued to push the hurtful thing into my chest.

And after a short amount of time, they all left and told me to clean up.  It was like being at a whorehouse.

But eventually, I met with Doctor Straitedge Cardio, and he told me that my heart had recovered normal operation.  He was please, and so was I…He fucked with me on my weight, and told me to stope eating fatty foods and meats, but otherwise, it was a good discussion…

And when the blood came back the worst of it was that for some weird reason I was weirdly low on Vitamin D.  But my cholesterol was good, and my A1C was 5.1….

FIVE POINT FUCKING ONE.  I know that my glucose has been in the zone almost every time I’ve tested it, But the first time I got bloodwork it said 6.4 was the goal.  On this one, it said 5.7 was the goal.  GODDAMIT GIVE ME A SINGLE GOAL and I will work at it…

Last time I met the primary, he said he was good for 6 months or so.  This is not six months.  But he does, of course, have access to the most recent bloodwork.  Cardio guy said that the biggest problem was a low Vitamin D.  IN wisconsin.  Where there’s little daylight in winters….

So anyway, Mr. Primary wants to see me.  So, what do we think?  Is it a recognition of my change in A1C?  Is it a chiding over my lack of losing weight?  Is it a challenge to the whole zombie thing?  Probably a hassle about not drinking so much…

I kind of hope that he is going to adjust my meds.  I would really like to not be injecting insulin any more.  Dr. Mikey says that I am cured, but I am not so sure but if I could transition to pills rather than spikes, I would be fucking thrilled.  I often stick them in my thigh because it hurts less than the gut…

Went to the gym today.  Worked up a sweat, listened to Maron’s podcast.  Felt good, got sweaty.  gonna do it tomorrow.  And the day after, and the day after, and the day after….