May 4, 2008

MDG Presentation Analysis

The first presentation that I watched was on environmental sustainability. The group presented their research in the areas of people's thoughts and ideas on sustainability, ways in which individuals can make a change for the better, and general facts on current hazards to our environment. Their proposal for everyone to be able to make an impact was exact in its methods and also plausible. I thought that their webpage was a great method of communicating the message they were conveying. They had an interactive medium that is able to reach a lot of people and help spread their proposal. The website was easily navigable and had a lot of useful information on how to increase your own environmental sustainablility. I also thought that their booklet to explain the goals of their website was a good idea. The booklet had a very legible design schema and was easy to follow. I liked the concept of the pages going from black to white to portray a movement from being completely unsustainable and going to being totally sustainable. Their presentation was clear and they made good use of the presentation mixed with their website.

The second group that I watched present focused on creating a partnership for global development. They were very interested in the idea of using a bottom-up model to implement change in the development of many countries. They felt that in order for there to be lasting change, there must first be a recognition of the basic needs of the people by their government. This means that the government must first care about its people before the people can experience lasting improvement. One way they felt that this could be done is through microfinancing. Microfinancing is the distributing of small amounts of money to people or small organizations in order for the people to start a business. I like this concept. This way, corrupt governments in developing countries are not able to take the money for themselves. Even if only 1 out of every 10 businesses started was successful, that's better than no businesses being successful because the government was not willing to fund them in the first place. Also, the money lost on the failing businesses would be minimal compared to the money that would be wasted by trusting it to the corrupt governments. This group also went into the design of various technologies for developing countries. One of the technologies being used is a laptop that costs only $100. It is very durable so that the people won't ruin it, and it is completely wireless. It is important for developing countries to have technology in order to be able to function in an ever advancing technical world. The group had very concise data and a deep study of various areas in which these methods have worked. They were convincing in their conclusion on the issue and had good evidence to back the reasoning for their research. Overall, their presentation was also very well done.

April 26, 2008

Volunteering: Week 7

This is my last week of volunteering. Today everyone started out using the internet. They were learning how to recognize the same information within different style documents. For example, there were several different employment forms, and all of them required you to give the same information, but it was laid out differently from page to page. They then all worked on their typing skills, either using a typing program, or typing stories in Microsoft word. Everyone seems to be needing less and less help as they type. Overall, this program has been great. It has helped me to become better at communicating with others that do not speak the same language. It has also shown me the importance of being able to type, and given me a different perspective on something I have always taken for granted. I am glad I was able to participate in this program.

April 12, 2008

Volunteering: Week 6

We worked a lot today on grammar and spelling. All of the people seem to be getting better with their English. We had them all write stories about what they did as a child. Many of them lived on farms and liked to play various sports. After they were done writing down what they did as children, we then had them type it. After they finished typing, they then all worked on individual activities. One woman worked on basic typing and finger position. Another man, Abullahi, worked on another story about the government in his home country. The rest worked on using the internet. Overall, the people in this program are getting the hang of how to use computers and the english language.

April 5, 2008

Volunteering: Week 5

Today there were nearly half as many people as normal. We let the women that came work on whatever they felt necessary. One woman worked on navagating the internet and using her e-mail. Another woman worked on reading and writing in english. A third woman worked on creating a resume for a new job. The advisor and I walked around as ususal and helped the women with what they needed help on. I feel that they are progressing well with their ability to read, write, type, and function on the computer. Two of the women also took a test on the english language. They seemed to be doing rather well. Overall, this class period was rather successful.

April 2, 2008

Cover Pages and WTF?

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What's Up in the World?
So apparently it’s now dangerous to be alone in the room with 10 third graders, at least in Georgia. Those kids are insane. Plotting to harm or kill their teacher with a knife, just because she scolded one of them for standing on a chair. What is happening to our country? If I were to have gotten scolded as a third grader for standing on my chair, all the kids would have thought it was funny, and so then I would have too. I got in trouble for a lot worse in third grade, but my friends and I never set up a plan involving duct tape, a paper weight, a sponge, and a steak knife to kill the teacher. Who was the leader of their plan anyway, MacGyver, because that is a very random set of murder weapons. And what were these kids going to do with the body afterwards? If this is what we can expect from the next generation, though, we need to think seriously about what we are filling their minds with. How would the idea of torture or murder get into the heads of third graders? My only logical explanation would be the media, but who am I? These kids are facing some serious charges too. What I think needs to be done to them is send them to Iraq. They need to put these ten children in the interrogation room with whoever is being interrogated. Give these kids some tweezers, a hula hoop, some play-doh, a scuba mask, a can of Sprite, and some PEZ dispensers, and they’ll have the person telling you everything you wanted to know and more in no time. But seriously, what is wrong with these kids. I think the moral of the story is that if you are ever in the presence of several third graders and suddenly feel the urge to yell at one of them for standing on a chair, just walk away. It’s your life at stake.

March 29, 2008

Volunteering: Week 4

Today everyone worked on different things that they felt appropriate to work on for the time period. They all did activities that helped each of them get better in the areas of typing that they most want to work on. Two of them wrote small paragraphs and got better at their grammar and sentence structure. A few worked on basic typing and computer skills, such as finger placement on the keyboard or using the mouse. One woman even worked on learning how to use e-mail. I walked around while they were all here and helped them with whatever they needed help with. I showed them how to spell words, different grammar rules, and how to send an e-mail. The participants of this typing class seem to show great progress in the past few weeks. They are learning fast.

March 12, 2008

May the Force be with you! (when designing anything ever)

With so many different ways that this project could be taken, one may feel overwhelmed, but I am optimistic. I feel that this research project is a good way to explore just how different we can make a research project from any other one we’ve ever done. Basically every research paper up to this point has been all about getting enough sources and enough pages and then throwing it all into MLA format and calling it a day. With this project, however, it is all about how we choose to design it, and thank God there is no “MLA for Design?. However, there are some basic trends that are followed in design that help to keep things consistent and visually appealing. These do’s and don’ts are more like fashion do’s and don’ts, though, and are simply strongly recommended, but not required. For example, the rule of never wearing a brown belt with black shoes is like telling a graphic designer to not put navy or dark blue text on a black background; they both just hurt the eyes. In order to receive a better understanding of the do’s and don’ts, we must then turn to outside sources for professional guidance. The top design publications and websites are at the top for a reason. They all seem to have certain aspects of their layout and design that match one another. First and foremost, they all seem to leave a lot of white space. This makes the rest of the layout look very clean and well organized. They all also use a lot of bright colors and different sized images, which are strategically placed to capture our attention. They do all, however, vary in the type of font they use for their magazines or websites.

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The Graphis website, for example, uses large images and small text in order to draw the observer to the display of the designed images. They are pretty consistent throughout their layout of all of their pictures.

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Design is Kinky is a weblog that uses a different strategy. They both use a lot of white space, but Design is Kinky uses about the same amount of text as they do images. They do not have a huge heading for their blog, and instead draw the attention to the actual entries themselves. This is a clever aspect.

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CMYK Magazine has a very appealing layout for its table of contents. They use a smaller text, but part of the text is bolded. The part that is bolded pertains to the images that are placed on the page. Each image has small caption that refers it back to a part of the table of contents. There is also a variation in the size of images. Three of them are the exact same, while there is another that is very large and so stands out more.

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The magazine I.D. Magazine seems to keep the basic layout of their cover the same, although it does vary from week to week. Some magazines keep it completely the same every week. I.D. has made a choice to vary their layout slightly every week, while still maintaining the basic design. This is clever because it brings a sense of originality to every issue, and yet it still clearly conveys their logo and identity.

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This last magazine is an interesting one. I think they messed up on their title, though. The magazine is called Design Edge Canada, but what I think they meant is Ozayr Quarterly. This magazine also appears to be clean with their layout and also use both white space and flashy colors to organize their magazine.

This is a video of a convention for graphic designers. It is called Design City. It hosts over 1,000 graphic designers and lasts for three days. It attracts thousands of people from all over. I don’t know what would make me a bigger nerd: if I attended Design City or Trek Expo (huge Star Trek convention). This isn’t meant to bash nerds, since I am one, and I would definitely attend both, but it would still be nerdy.

March 8, 2008

Volunteering: Week 3

Today was seemingly successful. We helped teach the residents how to type sentences and use the period and shift keys propperly. They were able to use the tab key to start their paragraphs and also knew to use two sapces between sentences. Some of the residents had no clue how to do some of these functions, while others seemed to know exactly what was going on. There was also a woman to day who needed help correcting her paper for school. She would make basic mistakes, and when I pointed the out, she knew exactly how to fix them. She then learned how to print a paper. The rest of the time, the residents worked on their basic typing form: keeping their hands on home row, using the right fingers on the right keys, and using punctuation. Overall, this week went very well. The residents seem to be showing some progress in their typing ability.

March 5, 2008

Top 10 Ways for Better Abs (just kidding... just trying to be a hit on Google) REAL TITLE: The College Life

My surroundings have changed a lot this year. They are different from anything that I have ever experienced before in my life. I was used to the same type of routine and structure to my days all the way up through senior year in high school. This year, however, has been a lot different. I don’t have to go to class nearly as early, the school day is spread out, and not every day is the same thing. It’s great! However, this different clockwork of cyclical repetition takes some time to get used to. It actually takes about a month before you realize that everything does have a pattern and cycle to it. As I go about my daily routine, I notice that I am part of a larger network or people who are all doing the same thing as I am: going to class, going home, going to work, or possibly going to study. We are related and interconnected in a framework that is established by the layout of the campus itself. It controls how we flow and move from one place to another. The buildings also work in a similar way. They help to direct this massive flow of traffic and keep it as orderly and functional as possible. They create a framework that helps us as college students be able to receive an education while making navigation of the campus as easy and effortless as possible. At the University of Minnesota I have experienced a conflict with the climate that I have not had to deal with as much as this before. There are certain areas of the campus that do not help to deal with this issue. One major example is the wind tunnel that is created under Boynton Hospital. It produces very strong winds that make the cold even worse, as if -10 degrees isn’t bad enough. However, there are measures at Minnesota that deal with the issue of climate. The best example is the tunnel system. It helps to provide a method of walking from major parts of the campus without having to experience the harsh conditions of the weather. Within this large framework of organization there are specific things that help to make the university experience better. There are monuments, beautiful carvings, landmark buildings and structures, and controlled elements of nature such as trees and flowers. There are also more functional things around the campus like stairs, directional signs, and even strategically placed maps. There also things like giant columns and buildings, large grassy knolls, and bike racks everywhere. These things all make this place feel more like a university. All of the things mentioned mixed with the framework that is created by the layout of the campus, and the clockwork that is established by the flow, network, and schedule of the people all work together to create the phenomena that is “college?. There is a certain feeling that is felt when on a campus of any large university that can only characterized as phenomenon. To observe how this machine known as a “university? works is something spectacular. It may not seem to be that great to us as students, since we are a member of this function, but sometimes one has to remove themselves from the phenomenon in order to appreciate it for what it really is. When gazed upon from the view of an outside observer, the function of a university it truly a phenomenon. Who cares though anyway? We’re just here to get done what we need to get done and then leave to the next thing. This is what it seems like people feel about college for the most part. I say we all need to step back for a moment and just enjoy what we are a part of. College has had a great affect on my life, and I am enjoying the positive experience so far. We’ll see if I’m still so optimistic when it comes time for architectural studio.

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March 1, 2008

Volunteering: Week 2

Today was another successful day of volunteering. We had a different group of women today for the typing class, so we went over the same things as last week. We went over things like using the tab key, spacebar, backspace, caps lock, and shift keys. The women seemed to catch on rather quickly as to how to use the shift key. They had some trouble understanding the tab key and the caps lock key. They also do not quite understand the idea of 'clicking and dragging', but they'll catch on. Overall, thought, the different drills for typing went well. They understood the instructions and, with minimal help, were able to complete the various drills. The drills involved skills like clicking between letters with the mouse and then deleting certain letters, or putting spaces between numbers and letters. Although the class still does not quite grasp some of the concepts, they are catching on to typing with seemingly good progress.

February 27, 2008

You can take our time, you can take our social lives, but you’ll never take our Freedom! ...(Yes I am talking to the inanimate structure that is architecture school)

I have always been fascinated with the power of words. What we say and the way we say it has an impact on how people respond, behave, and even live. This seems to be an obvious statement. If nobody were to say anything, then we would have nothing to respond to, behave in respect to, or live for. But to play devil’s advocate, they are only words, and communication with one another is much more than simply verbal. This is why there seems to be a fine line between what people say and how they say it; and the effect it has on the surrounding society. I feel that if people were to make a conscious effort to extract 3-4 negative comments or pessimistic statements from their day, they would feel better, and the people that didn’t hear those discouraging words would also be better off. If I were released from the constraints that are posed by the seemingly endless architecture school, I would use my time to help write humorous, or positive, or insightful messages, songs, speeches, or poetry. I may not be the best person to deliver a positive influence via methods of song or speech, but I would be able to write the positive words for a far more charismatic candidate. Of these different types of media, the one that would be most appealing to me would be music. I would love to be able to write song lyrics for someone able to communicate that message in an equally creative interpretation of musical composition. This use of a powerful form to express a powerful message seems to be the most effective way to spread a message throughout the world. It would bridge the gap between what you say and how you say it, since it would have both a positive message with the most universal means of communication: music. In order to incorporate my fascination of architecture with my fascination of music and its message, I would help with the design of music venues. This could range from outdoor locales to closed concert halls. The love of music is so prevalent everywhere that there is constant need for new or revamped music venues. These two creative forms of art come together in these places. I feel that if I were able to communicate an influencing message to people through the lyrics in a song, I will have felt that I have accomplished something. It would be one the most selfless opportunities, since nobody would know that I wrote those lyrics to the song that makes them happy when they are sad; it just makes them happy when they’re sad. To be able to help give people the motivation to keep going, or to know that they do matter, or even just to make their day a little better would be enough. If I were to design a music venue and then be able to hear music, which I wrote the lyrics to; resonate through the building and resonate in the souls of anyone listening; it would be the ultimate moment of harmony between me and my environment.

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Elton John in concert

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Rolling Stones in concert


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Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert

Volunteering: Week 1

This was my first week of volunteering. I am familiar with the building at Skyline now, so it isn't a big adjustment for me. I think that I am going to enjoy what I am doing this semester better than last semester. It will be better than dealing with 3-4 year olds, although some of them were really enjoyable and funny. This week the residents and I, along with the help of the instructor, worked on learning the backspace key. Teaching to use the keyboard and a computer may take some time and patience, especially since most of the participants don't own a computer themselves. It will take a while before they catch on, but when they get it, they will be a lot better off. This is a skill that is completely necessary in these days. We worked on backspace, spacebar, and tab today. It was productive. They also learned how to use the cursor and the mouse a little better.

February 19, 2008

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

"Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man." - Stuart Udall

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"The difference between animals and humans is that animals change themselves for the environment, but humans change the environment for themselves." - Ayn Rand

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"By the end of this century we will be living in a low carbon economy. We have no choice. Our current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable; our carbon emissions are throwing the climate out of balance." - UK Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks (2006)

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"Don't throw anything away. There is no 'away'." - Royal Dutch Shell advert (2007)

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"When you warn people about the dangers of climate change, they call you a saint. When you explain what needs to be done to stop it, they call you a communist." - George Monbiot

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Playlist of Songs Dealing with Sustainability
"Big Yellow Taxi"- Counting Crows
"If Everyone Cared" -Nickleback
"So Much Trouble in the World" -Bob Marley
"Changes" -Tupac
"Something's Gotta Give" -John Butler Trio
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" -Green Day
Captain Planet Theme Song

February 12, 2008

Bridging the Gap: Tomorrow's Solutions for Today's Problems

Suicide is a major problem in the country, and is an issue that can be dealt with in the Twin Cities area. As the future of architecture, it is our responsibility to be educated on the issues that affect the communities in which we work. We must know that there is a prevalence of certain issues, and that we as architects must strive to find a solution to these problems in order to better our communities. We have been given the gift of higher education and the talent to be able to design, so we should use these gifts and talents and give back to the area in which we live. The Twin Cities had a population of approximately 3 million people in 2005. The rate of suicide for teens 15-24 years old and for adults over 65 in the state of Minnesota in the same year was approximately 10.7 people per 100,000 people. This means that in the year 2005, 321 people in the Twin Cities area committed suicide. That is nearly one person every day of the year committing suicide, and that’s just in the Twin Cities. This seems like a major problem to me, and as an architect, I feel that one way to help this problem is to increase the presence of suicide clinics. First of all, when one thinks of a suicide clinic, many negative connotations come to mind, especially for people who are suicidal and need the clinics. This means that the clinics should be given a different name; one with an implication that they are for suicidal treatment, but don’t give a negative undertone. This may make people who are suicidal more open to attend their local clinic. They could be given a name like ‘Lifeline Center’ or ‘Center for Lifelong Help’. Secondly, a suicide clinic needs to be a welcoming place for those who are going to attend. This means that it must appeal to the two largest groups that are involved in suicide: teens and seniors. The space that is designed for the clinics must first of all be a welcoming one. This could mean that there is a greeter at the door and a very comfortable waiting room. It also means that there must be something that appeals to both the young and the old, which would most likely be television. Various mediums like this set up an inviting atmosphere that make the space seem more appealing to people. There should also be staff members that are around just to talk to the people that come in, since one of the main reasons for suicide is neglect and loneliness. This video best shows why this is important.

As shown above, many people, whether by abuse or peer influence, are forced into a life of loneliness. This can lead to depression and possible suicide. With an availability of clinics in the Twin Cities, the battle against suicide would have a chance at success in helping those who are hurting. The clinics that would be designed around the Twin Cities area could also have a staff at hand that could help with a variety of issues related to suicide. One main area of focus could be teen pregnancy. Since many teens that have had an abortion, or are considering an abortion, have also considered suicide, there could be a team of trained professionals that could help deal with both issues. These clinics may also have a direct connection with medical professionals so that they are readily able to receive medication for those in need. This way, if teens are struggling with thoughts of either suicide or abortion, as well as senior citizens struggling with suicide, they will have a place in their community that they know cares about them and what they are dealing with. The architect of such a clinic could collaborate with the leaders of other suicide and abortion clinics and find out what works the best for these types of buildings in order to create the most efficient system. Bringing all of these professions together is the best way to design a beneficial clinic. I feel that this is a problem that can be helped just by a few simple changes in the way our community deals with the issue. Suicide is one of the worst scenarios to ever have to face, but if ever you were placed in a position where it seemed to be the only solution, wouldn’t you want to have a place where people cared about you?

February 6, 2008

Shapeshifting

Andy Goldsworthy, a renowned nature artist, deals with concepts in art that are very related to the characteristics of a city, even though many people would consider his work to be the exact opposite of what a city stands for. One of the main things that people recognize right away when they enter a city is the vibrant atmosphere and the energy that is related to it. This feeling can be seen all throughout any large city, from the people, to the traffic, and especially in the buildings. The buildings are usually so massive and beautiful that it can be a very humbling experience to be standing next to them. Goldsworthy’s work has a similar humbling effect, except he is usually the only one around to be humbled by it. He said that when he makes a work of art, such as the rock tear drop, he gives it as a gift to nature and lets it make more of it than he ever could. Also, like Goldsworthy’s work, a city has a particular flow and pace that it moves at. The way the people fulfill their daily routines, the traffic making its ins and outs and the movement of all kinds of information are continually flowing in a city. The city could almost be studied as an organism, but in these ways it is also much like a river. Much of the focus of Andy Goldsworthy’s work has to do with water and the way it flows. One example that comes to mind is the string of leaves that was released into the water and left at the mercy of the flow of the river. Finally, the transformation of a city is like the type of transformation that Goldsworthy is interested in nature. In a city transformation is a regular occurrence. Old buildings are torn down and new ones replace them, old streets crack and crumble and are either repaved or condemned, and people leave or die while others take their place. One major cyclic process in a city is the cycle of a company. A small business is started, it grows to an intermediate business, then to a corporate conglomerate, and all of the sudden goes bankrupt. This is much like the cycle of transformation that Goldsworthy explained while creating the red waterfall. He found the red rocks in a solid state; he would crush them into powder; then release the powder into the stream to become one with the water, and eventually the powder would settle at the bottom and restart the process of solidification. Overall, Andy Goldsworthy’s concepts are extremely applicable to the characteristics of a city.