Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Minneapolis, the central home of polite people, is burning.

There was an innocent black man, choked to death by a white man he had worked with, by kneeling on his neck, for an alleged fake 20 dollar bell.  Kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes while three other cops looked on, and they ignored the pleas from EMTs to release the man and check his pulse. Now a black man’s life is worth a fake 20 dollar bill, which is actually worth nothing.  This was a straight up execution. Because cops know they are untouchable.

This was mere days after police-associated vigilantes pursued and shot a black man for jogging, in his own neighborhood.

Since then, protests have erupted across the country, which are echoing other protests when black folks have been senselessly slaughtered and murdered by white police, or just random white people with guns deciding they are the law.

When not being strapped, white racists decide to call 911 when black people are just in their presence, being black, knowing that the black person is pretty much going to be arrested if not shot dead.

Henry Louis Gates was arrested on his front porch for being black in his own home. I guarantee he worried for his life.

AND NOW.  A black man has been senselessly and ridiculously executed by a white racist violent militaristic cop, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck.  He fucking knew what he was doing, the three other cops let him do it. It was white racist fucks lynching a black man, because they could.

I have a friend that I worked with here in town, and now is an architect in San Francisco, and is African American.  He posted “Living as a black man in America is fucking exhausting.”  I have no frame of reference for that pain.

And now.

Tonight, my city is experiencing a second night of curfew, and the protests persist.  I’ve got a friend reporting on FB from his bike. There are caravans of armored vehicles, and incessantly circling helicopters.  The common game of ‘gunshots or fireworks?’ seems to be nearly continuous.  Parts of the freeway were shut down yesterday.

Trump is hiding in the Bunker, and tweeting every-more insane incitements to violence.  His white supremacist worshippers are listening, too and showing up at protests to try and turn them violent.  There is some organization to the effort, too; pallets of bricks are showing up before the protests start. The police are reacting as expected: they are waging violent war at the least provocation or no provocation.  The are shooting rubber bullets at the heads of journalists, when they are intended to be target to legs. On more than one occasion, this occupying army has been proudly flashing the ‘white power’ hand sign and giggling like Chucky the murderous psychopath doll.

I change my assessment.  America is burning.

This makes me feel like I need to go listen to Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads album, which led me to Mercy Seat, which led me to Johnny Cash’s cover, which led me to the most perfect cover video of a Nine Inch Nails song (aside-that song is playing on a perpetual loop at the Cash museum in Nashville):

And now – now, the dog needs to go outside to pee, and that’s getting harder for her.  We have started the process to bring in another rescue, because after all these years, the concept of not having a dog is kind of incomprehensible.  So, life goes on.  Somehow.

I am not usually one to echo Imaginary Digital Friend mikey’s glum worldview, but I am having a hard time imagining the way forward out of this.  I can imagine Murder Hornets, tigers roaming the city streets,  and a zombie holocaust, but that’s not one my brain can wrap around.

But life will go on.

Won’t it?

I had forgotten how much I loved that Nick Cave album.  But a word of warning; do NOT listen to it if you are feeling fragile.  It is harrowing.  Over the course of the album, hundreds of people are killed. And after all that bloodshed, they did an all-star cover of “Death Is Not The End” which is normally a song of hope for the afterlife but coming at the end of this travelogue of murder, insanity and depravity, becomes more of a threat:

BRING OUT YOUR DEAD

Posted: May 24, 2020 in Uncategorized

America, the “most advanced country in the world” who is actually, somewhere around 25th when averaged, has such poor management and health care that we are now about 12th in the word for deaths due to the plague.

This is so appalling that even the NY Times has made it a front page issue, posting names of the deceased.  But it has been pointed out that they can’t get there, they can only do about 1000.  The number they need to post is 100,000.

100,000

That’s just Americans.  Worldwide is much larger, but reporting numbers from places like Russia and Chine are not reliable.  Actually, I would say the reporting number from America are not reliable either, so thee numbers are almost certainly a fair bit higher.

100,000

One hundred thousand actual people, with families and children and loved ones (and some of them were children) with families and friends and loved ones who not only were not able to be there at their agonizing last moments, but are now left to mourn them with no contact, no ability to make last contact.

100,000

The Vietnam Memorial Wall is currently showing some 58,000 Americans who died there.  The Vietnam war changed American politics forever. Now, we have A plague that has already killed twice as many -and the predictions are saying we are on the way to more the 200,000 Americans before this gets under control.  Other countries have already said that we are so bad at control, that they refuse entry to anyone from the US.

100,000

Zombies acknowledge that Fucknozzle Trump is not the source of the plague.  But it was happening in December of last year, and he was notified.  He couldn’t be bothered.  He was golfing.

In January he was warned.  He couldn’t be bothered.  Too many words. He was golfing.

In February, there were were alarms from the CDC and the  military.  He cut their budget. He was golfing.

100,000

In 2018, Trump destroyed the agencies created in order to respond to pandemics and the people who could have led the effort.

Now we have 100,000 Americans dead due to negligence.  And Trump is golfing.

 

 

 

When I was in high school, I took many college entry courses in English Lit, 4 1/2 years of math, physics… as well as almost every shop and art class offered. I had no control over what I was interested i, and I was not being adequately supervised. My parents worked, and I never got arrested.

At the time, I was working in the drafting department of a tech equipment company (while I was there, they were working on a machine that could scan a sample and return the percentages of minerals within.  There was much amusement when they scanned a fly)  At the time, our CAD machine occupied an entire goddam room, and had to have a separate cooling system), but everything else was hand drawn.

Hilariously, the obviously ill-equipped High School counselor, when performing the rote pre-graduation review, looked at my transcript and could not figure it out.  He looked at me, and said, “what do you think you should be doing?” to which I replied “I am already white collar, motherfucker, and that’s a good coin for this podunk town” (maybe not in those words.  He shrugged and put the file away.  Thanks, asshole!

However, my father, who succumbed to the anti-college sentiment of a suburb adjacent to a college town, had a chance to go to land grant state school and I think regretted not going, insisted that I go to some kind of post-secondary education.  To which I said (already being a punk) well, then fuck this I am going somewhere else to college, and found a UW school in the middle of nowhere (shut up, you with the ‘aren’t they all’ comments) and enrolled in the engineering curriculum.  That turned out to be a bad fit, but we corrected course and got into pre-architecture and subsequently moved to Milwaukee.

But wait.  That’s not what I’m here to talk about.  I’m here to talk about the draft.  (wait while I refresh my drink)

No, wait, I am here to talk about historic windows.  Wait.  I’ll come in again.

I’m here to talk about drafting standards.  Ok, we’ll go with that.

During that checkered high school history, I took every drafting class offered.  I also took every shop class available, and most of the art classes.  And 4 1/2 years of math.  And 3 years of English and Literature.  (The traverse from one end of the school to the other for these wildly divergent classes sometimes challenged an ability to actually cover the distance in the class break time).  The drafting teacher (who also doubled as my freshman basketball coach) was kind of bemused, teaching a class balanced between art and science and shop, and as that kind of class had many students who were aiming for trade school.  But he discovered I had great skill at hand drafting, and while the rest of the class diligently worked on the current assignments, often struggling, I mostly blistered through them and he had to scramble to give me extra work to keep me busy. At several points, he just told me to not come in for several days until we got to something new. “Take a week off”….

I learned how to handle a pencil to create effective line weights, and what those line weights could mean.  Eventually, in college, I bought some (relatively) expensive graduated ink pens to do those time-consuming presentation drawings.

This is something being lost in the CAD environment.  Colored lines on a screen mean nothing, and do not translate to physical prints of drawing – which we still use, because we need hard copy in the field.  A friend who is in the State plan review area, agrees- he says most plans come in with no line hierarchy control at all.  One of the things I have had to really emphasize employees, especially more recent graduates is that construction drawings are a form of communication, and line weights are the inflections that help to make sense.

in an early preliminary collidge class, I was criticized for using what are derisively called “bubble trees” .  In defiance, I checked out several books on how to identify trees in profile from the library, and most importantly found many illustrations in the endpapers that showed all these various trees.  I  used these to illustrate my next project , and the amount of ink I put on the paper was so much that I had to matte the whole thing with a black border just to make it balance.  One person kept wandering back and forth during my presentation, and insisted that he could see shadows moving in those trees.

But in that high school class, at one point the instructor, I think desperate to find more things for me to do, and maybe looking to present a challenge, had me do large-scale (3″) details of windows and doors.  I fucking loved it.  But I suddenly had a crash course in how windows were built and installed.  It was, frankly, one of the most instructive and informative single episodes in my pre-professional life.

Here is what it looks like when I use those skills on a contemporary project.  And unlike those projects in high school and collidge, this is for-real and for construction, and since they are part of applying for historic tax credits, real value in actual Ameros (if you are interested, those details are now approved by the National Park Service):

X8.2-window comparison round top

Because, for the most part, most windows are based upon hundreds of years of figuring out how to make windows that work pretty well.  In recent years, window technology has gotten vastly better, but the basics that were well established when my house was built in 1904 are still valid.

Amusingly, although I went into college as an engineer but left as a baby architect, when my younger brother who was still in high school told my old drafting instructor that I was going into architecture, the guy said “well of course”.

So here I am 4 fucking decades later, working on an historic building and during investigation, we discovered that a fair amount of the original ground floor windows still exist and they weren’t destroyed and are in good shape because they were covered up at some point which protected them, which will allow for restoration.  Of course, those concealments were unnecessarily destructive, as it far too common. Out initial submission to the NPS showed new windows in these locations, but considering the condition of the existing windows, my recommendation is now restoration, with new thermal panes added to the interior for modern energy expectations.

And here I am, preparing a change to our original NPS approval, showing that we will be preserving the original windows and doors where our original application indicated new construction (since it was all concealed and we had no idea what was underneath), and I am doing details of the existing and since I did those old detail assignments in high school, I know how these windows were built.

IMG_3342

Look at what they did to that masonry detailing. fucking vandals, it would not surprise me if it was done by the Trump family. Also love the GE marketing.

Look at the damage, done so they could put really ugly aggregate panels over everything.  I do not forgive.

Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 1.31.15 AM

Mind you, this is what the masonry looked like when before those savages attacked it with chisels and hammers.

 

But I dearly love reusing buildings and historic buildings. And doing this does  makes me happy.

Happy.

My Hometown

Posted: April 7, 2020 in Fridge Note, Shovels, Uncategorized

I have never made much secret of my love for my home state of Wisconsin, and my adopted hometown of Milwaukee.  mikey often mocks me as the ultimate booster, but I feel the state is an overlooked gem (and to be honest, I think I kind of prefer it that way).

I grew up outside of Madison, I went to state land-grant colleges to achieve a relatively affordable Master’s degree, I married a Wisconsin farm girl (who wanted nothing more than to never have to work on a farm again).  Young Zombie graduated from a widely respected Milwaukee engineering school.

The state is amazingly gorgeous.  It stretches from Lake Michigan, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, to the Mississippi River, and up to Lake Superior, the deepest freshwater lake in the world.  Amazing forests, tremendous nature preserves, and absolutely lovely rolling prairies.

Plus we had Bob LaFollette (shut up about Tailgunner Joe).

Milwaukee sports the Harley Davidson Museum, a world class zoo, only excelled by the San Diego Wild Animal Park; a Riverwalk that exceeds San Antonio because theirs was built around a drainage trench, but the Milwaukee River is a real, functional river.  We led the way in the idea that freeways are not the solution and actually tore one down, resulting in a boon in development.  We are the most diverse area in the state, although we admittedly are still struggling with segregation.  We have, at the same time, the best and worst schools in the state.  White people from the suburbs are still frightened to come here.

We have fucking Summerfest.

But the Republicans not only hate all that, they are trying to destroy it.  They hate the liberal blue areas, they despise the areas with minorities.    They would like to kill us all.

They appealed to the Supreme Court the Governor’s recent order to expand mail and drive up voting for the primary and to extend it for a few weeks, because the lack of people willing to expose themselves as poll workers was pretty much non-existent.  Because it was a request from a fucking GOP group, the SCOTUS did an emergency ruling saying NO!  NO DEMOCRACY FOR YOU!.

The Wisconsin Republican legislature is dominated by shit weasels elected in viciously gerrymandered districts, protected by insidious math.  Robin Vos is an evil motherfuckers, and I may just resurrect an old gif just for that fucker:

Go Fuck Yourself Also Too

Tomorrow’s election, which is now completely fucked up electorally due to Republicans on the Supreme Court, has a critical judicial election (Kelly is a fucking Trumpidiot, if you want to know) is going to tell us how much of an Alabama Wisconsin is going to be.

As I said, I am not embarrassed by the love I have for Wisconsin.  I have visited a lot of other states, and some fair amount of other countries (hello Ireland!)  But this one does it for me, and I include the snow.  the silence of new snowfall is a very special sound.

And I sincerely love Milwaukee.  The first American city to build  a Calatrava structure, seriously?  We even beat New York!

But the things that Republicans and the Koch Brothers have been doing to this state are criminal.  The racist portions of the state have to be beaten with sock full of marbles.

Meanwhile, here’s a story.  Apparently, one Bob Zimmermann, while on a bus trip, writer a song about traveling into Wisconsin, but never finished it.  Milwaukee musician Trapper Schhoepp got his handle on the lyrics, wrote a few wraparounds, threw some chords on there, and when it made it’s way to Dylan’s attention, Bob said “let’s share the songwriting credits”  the first time ever.

this video features cameos by the Mayor, Russ Feingold, Tammy Baldwin and so many more, and all in respect to that Dylan video.  Plus, Trapper’s dog!

 

Wisconsin will live through the struggle friends

Heard about houston? Heard about detroit?
Heard about pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter,
To last a couple of days
But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no
Headphones, ain’t got no records to play

I called one of my brothers today.  We don’t talk that often, so he asked what was the occasion, I said, just the standard Pandemic Check In.  He works retail, so he still goes in daily; they have gloves and tend toward no-contact delivery or car window service as much as possible.  My SIL is a hairdresser, and she has had to close her salon by order of the governor; although I am sure she does in-home for anyone who is OK with that.

We have an elderly widow a couple of houses up from us, she makes it a point to walk up to our corner and back every day.  I’ve made it a point to walk out and ask how she’s doing (from 10 feet away).  She has a grandson living downstairs from her, so she’s got someone keeping her stocked.

I got my meds updated to 90 days.  Also got a gift card for our mail carrier (enclosed in a beautiful Chihuly at Biltmore card because I am ARTSY).

Wife Sublime and I are both working full-time from home, and we’re very fortunate to be able to do so.  Had a brief panic episode early on, when the internet service went down for half an hour.  I have had most of my current files in cloud storage, and older stuff on my HD.  We haven’t gotten on each other’s nerves as yet; no more than usual.

That is not the case for a neighbor up the street.  The other day, we had police descend on our corner in force:  at least six cars, 3 vans, two unmarked.  The streets were blocked off, including our driveway.  Cops were lurking around the corners and inside of nearby buildings, hands on their guns and always close to cover.  They dispersed through the backyards and from the other end of the block.  As Imaginary Digital Friend mikey said, it looked like a Hill Street Blues episode, and friends and capybaras, it did at that.

Some of the police did not have hands on their pistols.  Those would be the ones carrying rifles.  

Another friend said the police log simply said “suspect with a gun” because you don’t have that kind of force arrayed when there isn’t.  Later, we learned that he was threatening to shoot his wife although it is not clear whether it was a hostage situation.  My wife said she heard a gunshot, but I missed it. In any case, we weren’t all that surprised; social isolation and a frayed relationship; and someone who might have responded to the pandemic by getting a gun or another one; it was kind of inevitable.  Again, quoting mikey (who sometimes has the soul of a poet): “Nowhere to go, death lurking outside, violence and hatred in your ‘safe’ place.”

IMG_3424

Our last concert was March 5; They Might Be Giants at the Pabst Theater.  the weekend of the 14th, we were scheduled for a trip to Costa Rica for 9 days, and I was nervous but Wife Sublime was so eager for the trip I said I would be OK with it.  However, the tour company canceled all their tours two days before we were due to leave.  Since then, we have been self-isolating and sheltering-in-place like motherfuckers.  My concert buddy and I have tix for Tame Impala on May 30, no word yet.  We also have tickets for Roger Waters in August; no idea.  Summerfest has been postponed and rescheduled for three consecutive weekends in September.  Roll the fucking bones on that one.

Fortunately, our (Democratic) governor was not being an idiot and closed down all non-essential businesses (as noted above, including hairdressers) and being not-a-further-idiot, also declared liquor stores to be essential businesses.  Wisconsin, you know?  But liquor stores are reporting quite a brisk business with the populace staying home with little to do except to self-medicate (and threaten their wife with a gun, of course) and when I am honest, my consumption has gone up.

Wife Sublime is self-comforting by incessantly watching news shows about the pandemic, she even resorts to watching the lying press conferences by Lord Dampnut.  And also reading about other pandemics and epidemics and researching local statistics, then producing analysis charts for Facebook.  She’s an engineer and IT professional and that’s what she does.  She feels uncomfortable when she feels like she has no control, and right now, there is no control to be had.  The best there is is analysis.  FWIW, we’ve been married for a long time, and I understand.  I put in my headphones and watch horror movies.

As I said to friend, “I am watching horror movies to avoid horror reality”.  But man, you bottom out on quality horror movies really fucking fast.  I also burned through Netflix’ comedy specials in like two days.  In the meantime, I am still working on projects, that I had fallen behind on although believe me it’s hard to be productive under wartime conditions.  See:  this blog post.  When I should be working on fire separation details (but at least I got those elevator shop submittals pushed out into the motherfucking mojo wire).

(ahh, you see.  There you go.  wandered off to make a new cocktail and lost my train of thought.)

But of course the difficult thing is the social isolation and the incessant dread and paranoia.  During the day, I hear Wife Sublime on video conferencing with people around the world, and they always talk about how things are where they are.  I usually have to argue with insurance shit weasels about why they won’t give me new CPAP equipment. Oh, sure, sometimes I talk to contractors and such, but since all of them are working at home, that’s almost all email too.  It does all make everything a bit more distancing.

And then, a few days ago, I went to bed and couldn’t sleep and then found myself curling into the tightest ball I could and sobbing uncontrollably.  All the fear, tension, stress and paranoia came spilling out all at once into my arms and belly and sheets.  It came as a bit of a surprise and certainly relief.

Certainly everyone is feeling the same kinds of things, and I hope they don’t respond like my neighbor up the block.  I would also say, if you have guns GET RID OF THEM or at least secure them.  When I was at my bleakest, I often thought about buying a gun and I didn’t but if I had had one available, this might be a very different blog.

Meanwhile, I appreciate all the half-dozen readers I have and all the other readers I have ever had and hope you are all well and things are going well and that  you are coping well.  I have love for you all I send zombie love out to you.

zombie-2

Afterimage

Posted: January 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

Rush wrote the song for their loss of their compatriot, whoever it may be.

I have never concealed my love for Rush.  They were one of my first all-encompassing concerts, when laser shows were still allowed, on the Permanent Waves tour.  I took my date to see the Moving Pictures tour, and it twisted her brain enough to actually agree to marry me.  On a subsequent tour, she wore the Signals shirt for years.  We went to see the reunion Vapor Trails tour, and they had fire explosions – and a string section that had to endure them – that we could feel in our not-so-bad seats.  And the year after that, we took our son who got bored and went on his phone but then after that admitted it was a fine fine show.

I have had mild disagreements with members of the Bloggerhood on this.  But hardly significant….

I have never loved drummers, nor drum solos (exception Erik the drummer for Die Kreuzen).  Always felt they were a simplistic way to allow the rest of the band to take a break and do more do drugs.

But I have always said that Neil Peart’s drum solos never bore me like almost every other drum solos.

It’s not just the amount of hardware he is able to use.  But he is also a very gifted rhythmic artist, and he uses that to be musical and venture into the jazz realm.  If you ever watch and listen to his solos, he is as inventive a percussionist as you might imagine.  He is/was sublime.  He spent his entire life making his skill better, including studying under Buddy Rich’s teacher to understand how the movement is part of the rhythm.

He had a hard life, with the death of his daughter and then his wife in short order and most people, including his bandmates, figured that was the end of the band, and not one single person blamed him if that was the way.  But…

He took the Australian ‘walkabout’ tradition, and fired up his motorcycle and rode until he felt like things were better.  He rode over almost every place he could visit by road on this hemisphere.  This was chronicled in the book “Ghost Rider”  And that was one of the most powerful songs when Rush returned to the stage.

Neil Peart died this week, and like most musicians, he shouldn’t have.  But that is what we have, and we have no choice but to give him a respectful ‘go on, and meet your ghosts and people’….

But the band are a band of brothers who have loved each other for all these years, and that is so fucking special:

 

One of my favorite bands, one that I have seen more times than I deserved and not as many time as I wanted, and now that one of them has departed, I need to mourn.  Legendary, indeed.

 

Made very famous by REM’s use of it in one of their great, great,  songs from Monster – an album that I waited in line at midnight to buy as soon as possible-  But also not noted is that one of my other favorite bands, Game Theory, used it in the proper phrasing “Kenneth, What’s the frequency?”

It was a slight amazing bit of sound and intro to one of the best of the albums from the 80s, and one of the best bands I had ever seen.  Saw them in a dive on the south side of Milwaukee, in the middle of winter, which seemed to shock the women in the band, because they wore completely inappropriate skimpy tops.

I saw Dan Rather interview the Two Mikes from REM the other night, and of course the phrase came up.  They had a clip of Dan Rather trying to sing the song during a sound check which was not amusing, it was painful.

So, let’s talk about the frequency of eye lengths.

Do you guys remember being in grade school?  Do you remember being asked to read the text on film strips?

Well, it was Second grade, I was seven, you know?  And when the teacher was going through the class asking for students to read the film strip, and got to me, I was not able to respond.  Not because I couldn’t read, but because I couldn’t SEE. After she spent a little time trying to help me because she thought I couldn’t read, she eventually understood it was an eyeball thing….How would I know?  My eyes were what I had, and what I could see was the way things were.  Had no idea I should be seeing better, because I had no comparison.

So after my teacher stopped embarrassing me, she told my parents that it was time to get an eye test.  And after that, I got some glasses for the first time in my life.  And I saw things I had never seen before.  IN fact, when I had glasses, I was weirded out by the depth perceptions.  It made walking weird, at best for a short tome of acclimatization, until i got used to the way everything seemed a bit….closer.

I have worn glasses since then.  Or contacts. For a few years, as a kid, I needed new glasses pretty much every year, because my eyes kept going south. I much prefer contacts, but it is hard because I have a weird diagonal astigmatism.  I haven’t seen my eye doctor in some time, And I need new contacts and new glasses.

I had my glasses fall apart tonight, one of the lenses fell right the hell out, and I was forced to use a bent paper clip to put them back together.  Believe me, as a guy who has worn glasses for WAY more than half my life, I have worked out any number of ways to do emergency and field repair.

And it was curious, in that I was forced to use my backup last version glasses, and that those glasses seem to serve better than the ones that lost the screw.

See now here.  As a diabetic, I am supposed to expect my eyes to go weird and degrade.  Which, I guess, is not going to be any weirder than any year before; my eyes have degraded all  my life.

Since I have been wearing glasses all my life, and my prescription is weird and changing and I have the diabetic multiplier, I have long been sensitive to the quality of the eye care I seek out, and I have a very clear preference for a for-real Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist versus an optician, and when providing lenses, I have never had a satisfactory experience from the mall shops or places like Mall-Wart.  Fortunately, one of my neighbors is an Optometrist, and a good one; and in a fine example of work going both ways, I designed his new office on the south side:

IMG_0012

What we found is that my right eye has decided to make a run for it, getting much worse over the past couple of years.  So I need new contacts, and we’ll be trying a couple of different treatment options, and my existing frames get new lenses.  There doesn’t seem to be any other degradation of my eyeballs, so other than just getting older and worser,  we seem to be in good shape.