April 30, 2008

HnH Journal

Homework and Hoops Journal

1/28

Well today is my first day at HnH since winter break and it seems like an eternity since I have been here. I have to say I have missed it. I started with a new child this semester and I am glad I did since I had never even met my child from last on semester because he never came. My new kid’s name is Sophia. She is a very energetic and fun person and I really feel like I make her time at HnH valuable. When it came time to go do recreation time she wanted to be the people that run the game room and even though I had no idea what to do I figured she did so we did. It was pretty simple and she knew exactly what to do, just unlock the closet and hand out the stuff. We played carpetball the whole time and I was pretty good for my first time. Sophia said I was the best tutor so that made me feel pretty good considering she was the best I saw. When we went back upstairs she didn’t have any homework so we went and read some books. I noticed that I was the only boy on the entire girls side of the room, which was kind of interesting. It was nice to be the calm side of things for once as I looked at the chaos that was going on over on the boys side. All in all a pretty uneventful day, nothing out of the ordinary.

2/11

Today was a pretty hum drum day at HnH. Sophia and I did basically the same thing we did last time. We were the game room attendants and played carpetball. She brought some reading homework to do where she had to read a short story and then draw the events that happened in the story. It was pretty simple but I see the same thing that happens at other tables happening here. Sophia would try to play it off that she didn’t know what the answer was to try to get me to just give her the answers. It took me a little while but I got to the point where I could get her to figure it out by herself without trying to get me to simply do it. I feel like this is the role we are supposed to play here because if we just gave them the answers the children wouldn’t learn.

2/25

I switch off every other week with another tutor so Sophia still can’t remember my name. I wish she would cause it would be nice not to be asked or be called “tutor?. But I guess I can’t really blame her because I am not here every week and I know how hard it is for me to remember names. We went to the game room again and I wish we would go to the gym once in a while. Sophia says she doesn’t like to go to the gym because last time she fell and scraped up her arms so I guess it will be all game room all the time which I don’t necessarily prefer but I’m not here to do what I want. No homework again this time so we did more reading and then finished a story problem packet that she had started with her other tutor. One of the other tutors at our table is also in my MDG group for Arch 1701 so it is nice to see another familiar face.

3/10

This week was swamped for me and I couldn’t go to HnH. I emailed morrie and explained how I had 3 midterms this week and just didn’t have time and he said it was okay but I still felt bad that I couldn’t go especially because I only come every other week but what are you going to do.

4/7

This week the game room was closed because the store was going to be open down there so we stayed in the main room for recreation time. They had this game in the corner of the book area that we played that was a mixture of foosball and marbles. There were these tracks that ran down to the field and you dropped marbles into them to hit the ball into the goal. It was pretty fun and we didn’t lose any marbles, thanks to the guard rope we put on the ground. We still had to search under the couches to find a couple stragglers though. Sophia had a moon journal for homework but we couldn’t really work on it because the moon wasn’t out during the day. She showed me all the details though and I longed for the days when my homework was that simple and fun. Since we couldn’t really do the homework she did bring we decided to get some certificates and worked on some mad libs. This was a little frustrating for me because I had to constantly explain what an adverb, adjective, noun, verb, and pronoun were. I don’t know how elementary teachers do it because to me it seems so simple even though I know they haven’t learned it yet. It must be tough to teach things that seem to not need teaching, things that everyone should know. But when they are young this is when they learn these things so I guess I need to remember my schooldays more and be more patient.

4/21

No homework again today. I begin to wonder if Sophia ever has homework or just has it when she has another tutor. But I won’t complain. Today we played carpet ball for a while and then I decided to mix it up and asked her to play foosball. She seemed to really like the idea and so that is what we did. It was pretty one sided so then I switched to playing with just my goalie and that seemed to even things out a little bit. I find it hard to not play to my full ability because I am a very competitive person but I don’t want to dominate and have her never want to play again. This isn’t really a problem in carpetball because she usually beats me in that no matter how hard I try. When it was homework time we decided to play addition tic-tac-toe. This was put away as soon as we opened it because she didn’t want to touch the plastic spiders that were the pieces so we put it back. We decided to draw pictures instead and she loved the one I drew so I let her keep it. It was pretty simple by my standards but it was nice to draw simple, silly things instead of some serious architecture drawings. Especially because she gives me more compliments on these than my professors give on my other drawings. Today was a little tough on ,y part because I had a pretty nasty sunburn from falling asleep in the sun that day. It was so nice out I couldn’t resist but I guess that will teach me a lesson. Sophia gave me a little guff for being red but I deserved it. Next time I’ll use suntan lotion.

April 3, 2008

Some rough, very rough, ideas

I had to do these on paint because my other software wasn't working so these are a little rough but the ideas are still the same.
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Just a simple cover, almost like a cover for a report to the UN. Clean but not really that eye catching.
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This is more to the idea of taking a large image and writing over it, not very original but effective.

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This one isn't really a mockup so much as an idea. I want to use the collage technique that people use to make pictures out of larger pictures and create one of the UN logo. Then just write on it like a normal image. I'm sure it would take a very long time but I think the outcome would be very cool.

March 13, 2008

This server sucks!!!!

Has anyone else had problems with this site, this is the third time I've had to put this up. Whatever.

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The things I noticed when looking at these magazines that Ozayr recommended for us is that good design is not noticed as much as bad design. If I disliked a particular format or layout I knew it right away, whereas I would not notice a good design until I had past it. A good design will balance elements so that the all the elements of the page blend together where they are no longer individual elements but become seamless. This is something I looked for in any page.

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I also recognized the power of images. The cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words is a blinding truth especially in the case of poverty. You can read all the facts and numbers you want but no words are as moving as a picture.

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Black and white is of particular interest to me. I find that a image in black and white appears darker and more intense than one in color.

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March 4, 2008

A better blog idea

The built environment is a range of systems that is designed to treat us, not as individuals, but as pieces of the herd. This is because large scale diversity and individuality in certain areas of life causes chaos. Many of these frameworks are put into place for maximum efficiency or for maximum economy.

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The grid system we use for streets and land division. This is a framework we use to organize our world. This has been the way humans have thought for hundreds of years, in a linear fashion. If I am at 23rd ave and 8th street and I want to go to 27th ave and 5th street I am forced to go up 4 blocks and over 3. I can choose how many turns I want to make but I am forced to travel in the grid. This seems normal for me. I am not shocked that I am forced to behave in such a manner of feel oppressed by this structure that is imposed on me. It has always been this way while I’ve been alive and I fell it will continue to be the same. It is this theory that I have about the built environment. It neither supports nor detracts from who we are but is merely one part of who we are. We behave this way because we are forced to by our environment. We drive on the roads the way we are told because this is how we were taught to drive. The opposition between man and nature is why we use the grid to organize our land, we need to control it.

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We stop at the stoplight on red, go on green, and speed up like hell on yellow cause that extra 2 minutes we would spend at the light is too much for us to handle. The built environment in which we live makes us who we are. I grew up in the suburbs and saw nothing wrong with the massive expanses of lawns and row after row of single family homes that made up my environment growing up. This was normal to me and didn’t made me think that this is helping me as a person nor did it make me think it is restricting who I want to be.

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I now live in the city as a student and the city is now my environment. As a creature of my environment I use the bus system and drive when needed and have learned the nuances of the one way street. After turning into headlights a couple times I learned to look for which way the street is supposed to go and to follow this sign. I don’t think that forcing me to travel one way instead of the other has changed my soul and made me a different person, it is merely a change of my behavior. Man is a product of his environment and shall behave in the way that his environment dictates.

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If A made B and B made C then didn’t A have the ultimate responsibility in making C. We are not so much shaped by our built environment as much as shaped by the ideals of those who created our built environment. William Penn and Thomas Holme are to thank for the grid system our cities are often based on in America. Thomas Jefferson is to thank for our land grid system. Mayor Dorrilus Morrinson is to thank for the start of the public transit system in Minneapolis. It is the people that shaped the systems that in turn shape us that are responsible for our behavior.
For those who think the built environment changes them I tell them to change their environment. If they think our urban sprawl is ruining the environment and causing unneeded dilution of our living density (which I happen to agree with) then they should change it (which I hope to do). The interesting thing about our environment in this age is that our environment no longer has ultimate control over us, we now have ultimate control over our environment. Problem – too many cars, too little space on the roads, Solution – better options for public transit and closer proximity to jobs. Its is that simple. If the environment is changing you in what you see as a negative way then change the environment much in the same way those who created our current environment changed it to fit their ideals. We have that power. This brings me back to the term that man is a product of his environment. This is true but now another age has dawned where environment is a product of man. We determine how we are affected by our surroundings and have the power to change them. Ozayr asked us to explore through image and text how the built environment affects who you are. I ask him to pose another prompt that is to explore through image and text how who you are affects the built environment. This I believe is the better prompt to how frameworks, clockworks and phenomena because in the case of the built environment, we are the creators of these things and even though they help to shape our world, we shape them.

February 28, 2008

Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better. - Robert Camus

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I believe that this is a perfect example of why I want to be freed from the constraints of architecture school. Even a program that’s main purpose is to create individuality and foster creativity in each different student will still create norms in all of them. This is not always a bad thing, such as creating architects who are environmentally responsible with their designs. However this still breeds similarities in all of them. This is why each school of architecture tends to produce a certain type of architect. For a modern architect, pick a graduate from IIT, the school of Mies van der Rohe. For a architect like Frank Loyd Wright, pick a graduate from Taliesin. Regardless of steps taken to prevent this, all architects will pick up similar traits to those who went to school with them as well as traits of those who train them. This is an unavoidable problem in the current state of architectural education.

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The world I imagine is one where I can be an individual and simply create. No rules. No people saying that the engineering isn’t possible or cost effective. No head designers saying that this is wrong and I should design more like them. All these things constrain my creativity and I am forced to conform to what certain people believe is good and beautiful. I must conform in order to graduate and to move on to where I am finally able to live in the world I imagine where I might someday become my own boss where I make the rules.

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But I fear that by then I will have been shaped too much. I will have become the exact thing that I have tried to escape throughout my own education. Now I will impose my own rules on others and will tell them to be more like me and to design more like me and that mine is the right way and theirs is wrong. I will have forgotten my own struggles and become the overbearing teacher or the stubborn lead designer. Things will come full circle and the student will become the teacher, and the whole process will begin again. Some will rise above this circle and truly create something new and exciting and beautiful. I hope that this world I imagine will become my reality soon enough before it is too late for me and I forget what my true creative self is like. Before I become just another graduate from the U of M architecture school.

February 20, 2008

Another Blog, another Mr. Roger's Quote

My Hometown – Bruce Springsteen

I believe that I had a great childhood and grew up in a wonderful environment. Many children growing up in poverty and without education are not able to grow up in a healthy environment.

Mmm mmm mmm mmm – Crash Test Dummies

This song’s lyrics are pretty depressing if you actually listen. Makes me think of how people always see poverty in third world countries and say that someone should do something but just go on with their daily lives. They see without really seeing.

100 Years – Five for Fighting

Life is short and should be cherished, especially if you’re Bambi.

Time is Running Out – Muse

These problems keep getting worse and worse and if something isn’t done then they will become beyond repair. Time really is running out.

I Hope – Dixie Chicks

Talks about hope for a better tomorrow. Pretty self explanatory.

Fell On Black Days – Soundgarden

Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life
Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life
Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile
Sunspots have faded
And now I’m doing time
Cause I fell on black days

International Players Anthem

Just for Fun

Quotes

“I don’t want to help people, I just want to design crap.? – Girl in class that shall remain nameless.
Makes me strive to be better than this and always want to design with the good of man in mind.

Kyle- If you're rich you can do whatever you want.
Laura- No, you couldn't go to Jupiter.
Proof that money can’t buy happiness or a trip to Jupiter, yet.

“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied...but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.? ~John Berger
Poverty can be stopped with the right actions. It is our choices and lack of action which prevent the eradication of poverty.

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This is one of those pictures that make people turn away because it is too painful to look at. Just because we look away doesn't mean it isn't there. In the same way, just because poverty isn't all around us in our daily lives doesn't mean it isn't affecting people every day.

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Makes me think of how much we value material things when one third of the world would be happy with half of what we have.

February 14, 2008

Making it rain, every week on schedule.

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Become an advocate for something. Okay, that seems easy I thought to myself as I left class last week. However as I began to think about it this subject became more difficult. What do I care about? How do I want to make the world better? Do I want to make the world better? Do I even think there is anything wrong with the world? My life has been pretty much isolated from any struggles or hardships that I would find a cause in. I grew up in the middle class, went to an average school, got good grades and got into college. I don't have any connection with many of the causes one would align themselves with. Poverty, world hunger, Aids, drugs, homelessness, all are things I believe should end but I find no calling to change these things. Without passion to end these things I won't make a dent in the outcome. How am I supposed to help these people when I am not invested in the outcome and have never been affected by the things themselves. I began to think what types of hardship I have witnessed that I could relate to and then it hit me, the Education Gap.

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I went to Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park, MN. This is a diverse school to say the least. The so called "minorities" are not the minority and the school is about evenly split between whites, blacks, and those of the Asian persuasion. I believe this made me a well rounded individual and helped me prepare for the real world because reality is not a private school full of white rich kids. When I graduated I went off to college and when I came to the U, a university in the middle of a metropolitan area that reflects my high school greatly, I was surprised to see that the demographics were not reflected in kind. Why? Lack of financial aid? Doubtful, with all the organizations giving out money to make college affordable for those who weren't traditionally admitted this is not a valid reason, at least not a large enough reason. Lack of education? I went to the same public high school available to all. Even a little lower than most. Yet I got into school. But why is only one of my black friends in school with me while I can not count on both hands and both feet the number of white friends who go to school here from my high school. I've found that the answer to this question has more to do with society's perception of who goes to college than the reality of who meets the standards.

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The Rosenthal/Jacobsen study determined that success in the classroom is largely based on the expectations of the authority figures. The original Pygmalion study involved giving teachers false information about the learning potential of certain students in grades one through six in a San Francisco elementary school. Teachers were told that these students had been tested and found to be on the brink of a period of rapid intellectual growth; in reality, the students had been selected at random. At the end of the experimental period, some of the targeted students--and particularly those in grades one and two--exhibited performance on IQ tests which was superior to the scores of other students of similar ability and superior to what would have been expected of the target students with no intervention. These results led the researchers to claim that the inflated expectations teachers held for the target students (and, presumably, the teacher behaviors that accompanied those high expectations) actually CAUSED the students to experience accelerated intellectual growth. Translate this to my experience in high school and I see now why there is a shortage of minorities in college. At my graduation ceremony many people celebrated like it was a miracle to graduate from high school. This should not be seen as an accomplishment but a requirement. It should be expected to graduate and move on to college. With higher expectations by teachers, parents, and other authority figures, there will be a large increase in success across the board in public high schools. The expectations for me from my parents, administrators, and teachers were always get good grades and go to college. I saw this as the norm so it was not a big deal to accomplish. But the expectations were not the same for every person in my high school. This is something that needs to change. Graduation should not be seen as a miracle but as something every student should be able to do. Educational equality will only happen if the expectations are equal.

February 3, 2008

The Flow of the City

Andy Goldsworthy's art is about the flow of energy and transformation in nature. These ideas of energy flow are true for our cities as well. People are a fluid substance. We behave like water and move through our environments in masses, flowing from one area to the next. Our environment has been designed for us and just as water flows where it is most natural, people move through their environment as it has been designed for them to move.
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Just as water flows to the lowest point along the riverbed, people flow among the streets and highways that have been designed into our environment. Modern cities are behave like organisms. People are the blood that flows through this organism and the streets and highways act as the circulatory system. They allow the survival of the city and without them the city would die. We flow through the city to our jobs, our hobbies, our homes, and to our social lives.
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Just as an organism changes and evolves, the city changes and evolves as well. However in the case of the city the evolution happens much faster. While changes to an animal might take hundreds if not thousands of years, a city can become completely different over the course of a few decades. As technology changes our environment must change with it. Before the invention of cars our cities were smaller and had less specialized zoning. Residential and commercial space was mixed for highest convenience. But as cars became popular our cities changed. Roads became wider and paved. Zoning became more specialized and residential and commercial space began to separate as traveling throughout the city became easier. Our cities grew in size and suburbs began to develop. This changed the way energy and people moved and lived in our cities.
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Time has affected the flow of our space much like the way time changes the route of a river. Nothing remains constant and our environment is always changing. Our environment is not independent of us. Just as Andrew worked with the stone on the beach and he talked of as the time working with the material grew so did his understanding of it as well as his aspirations of what his sculpture could be. His mental picture of what the work could be grew and evolved. In this way as we better understand our environment our design must grow and change to better reflect our knowledge. This type of thinking promotes "green" architecture and sustainability. Andrew Goldsworthy's experience resulted in a better work than he had started out making and with the same attitude towards our own environment, our cities can become better than what we had dreamed when they began and can continue to become better and evolve as our understanding grows.