Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Even more


If the Republican National Committee can get their mail out and can't, then that could influence elections, and could affect your life even if you're an Iraqi peasant goat farmer who hasn't updated his blog in weeks.

Friday, May 18, 2007

More quotable

I often hear: “Concrete, brick, and stone are better for storing heat energy.”

They do store energy — but only *specific* energy, which means that as energy is put into the stone, brick, or concrete, the materials get hotter. While wood stores some specific energy, it also stores latent energy, which means the temperature is constant while the wood resins, lignins and cellulose goes through a phase-change. Luckily, that temperature is around 70 degrees F. In a house, you want the temperature to be constant.


Thursday, May 17, 2007



"Basically the iPhone is a 1996 Ford Taurus — that car in which all design problems, from logo to windscreen, were solved with an Illustrator-stretched oval."

-Thomas de Monchaux

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

But it is a real disaster!

Just some random thoughts after my team, who will not by named in my words, has come to a crashing, stuttering conclusion to the season. Others have made a case for which ways the hopes come falling down:

Copied from the Sabres board a couple of days ago:

There are four distinct kinds of sports induced torture.

1) Years of incompetence spelled by brief rays of mediocrity.
2) Consistently good teams that never win the big one.
3) Elite teams that are defeated because of injury or external factors.
4) The pinnacle of sports torture, the heartbreaking moment.

Type 1 Torture: Buffalo Bills 1970-1979. In 1971, the Bills became the first and, as of now, only team in NFL history to bat for the Triple Crown of sucking. They finished with the worst overall record, allowed the most points against, and scored the least amount of points for. Unprecedented. They also lost every game in the 1970’s to their biggest rival, the Miami Dolphins. They had seven seasons with 9 or more losses and they only played 14 game seasons until 1977. The face of the franchise was OJ Simpson.

Buffalo Bills 2000-2006. It’s almost impossible to miss the playoffs seven years in a row in the modern NFL, but the Bills managed to accomplish the feat. Just to rub a little salt in the wounds of all Buffalonians, the Bills won 6 straight games in 2004 to set up a chance to beat the Steelers with the playoffs on the line. The Steelers were 14-1 and were resting all their starters. Brian St. Pierre plays the second half. Seriously. The Bills lost.

Buffalo Sabres 2001-2004. The Sabres have been fairly mediocre throughout their history, but this was a special era. The owner, John Rigas, got arrested for looting his company, the team went bankrupt, and they finished last in the division three straight years. Good times.

Type 2 Torture: Buffalo Bills 1990-1993. There obviously has never been a better example of Type 2 Torture than the Bills. Losing four straight Super Bowls is inconceivable. I’m still trying to convince myself it didn’t happen.

Type 3 Torture: 1970 Final Four. Buffalo Native Bob Lanier leads the tiny upstate NY college St. Bonaventure to the Final Four where they are the heavy favorites to meet UCLA in the championship game. Lanier’s ACL gets snapped by his future Detroit Piston teammate Chris Ford in a freak accident and St. Bonaventure gets upset by Jacksonville.

2000 NHL Playoffs. John LeClair scores a pivotal goal through a hole in the side of the net and somehow is allowed to stand. Would the Sabres have gone back to the Cup Finals? Probably not, but it still felt like we were getting cheated. Again.

2006 NHL Playoffs. After rolling over Ottawa, the most talented team in the East, in five games it was looking like Buffalo might finally win a championship. Somewhat predictably, fate intervened and four of the Sabres top five defensemen went down with injuries which was just enough for Carolina, the eventual Cup winners, to come from behind in the third period of game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Type 4 Torture: Type 4 Torture is where Buffalo really runs away with it.

Super Bowl XXV. Wide Right. The Bills lose the Super Bowl that they’re heavily favored to win after Scott Norwood misses the game winning field goal. We all know the story; I don’t really want to talk about it.

1998-1999 Stanley Cup Finals. No Goal. Brett Hull scores in triple overtime with his skate in the crease. Dozens of identical goals had been waived off all year yet the NHL backed the ruling despite the fact that it was never even reviewed. I guess it wasn’t important.

1999-2000 NFL Playoffs. The Music City Miracle. It probably wasn’t even a forward lateral, but to lose a playoff game on a gimmick special teams play with 16 seconds left is simply gut wrenching. Rob Johnson, yes that Rob Johnson, lead the Bills on the go ahead scoring drive. Shouldn’t that be enough?

But, the underlying problem is that the city rests too much of its non-sports energy on sports. We don't just use sports to amuse ourselves, it is widespread vicarious fandom. We are the team, the team is us. The world doesn't really get it, but there are analogies in other sports - the world cup is a game of national pride. Football teams like the packers are owned by the fans even, and canada feels like the game of hockey owes them. Well, Buffalo has its teams, and the void of a championship, with many, many, close calls, has cemented the region as that of underachievers. Why is this?

Well, the two teams that we have are easy to identify with, as close to 100% of the population keeps tabs on them daily. For such a large metro area, this is unusual, and even though there are larger cities and markets, the region of WNY can sell out games for years at a time. We were always blessed with great leadership for the teams, and the flirtation with greatness is pretty consistent. Of course, that is the primary way to sell tickets. Be good but not great, and do it consistently.

I could quote statistics, but I won't. From the post above, though, you can see how we have been so close, and the heartbreak has been so intense. Many sports fans are bitter, hardened, and jaded. Actually, this is a good quality. Can you imagine anything worse than finishing second for 40 years?

And it translates to other areas of our lives. The city's economy, social scene, tourism, identity, education, and even newspapers are all good, but nothing is great. Could it be that we are so used to finishing second in life, that we accept it, and expect it?

I don't know what the answer is. I would be able to tell you if just one win, ONE time for us to say that we are the best at something, could change our collective outlook on life, but it's not going to be put to the test this year. It is disappointing, because a place like Ottawa needs no boost, no special treatment to be energized again. The fans are true fans, for sure, but a win is not going to be the difference in anyone's career, or life choices. That is what the media, and anyone who says that it is just sports is missing.

And that is the frustrating part. Losing a hockey game means, quite literally, more in the life of every hometown fan for us than it would for any other team. It is real pain, the world needs to know.

When it all came apart:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Great website

So there is this great couple that's getting married, and they have a website! Go check it out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Dear Diary,

I've changed a lot in the last two years, and my priorities are a little more centered, I would say. So, I had to tell someone, and I am deeply truly sorry to have purchased the latest Modest Mouse album. I know, I went to RIAA radar and everything. But it just happened. And it was on sale, so they got maybe, what, a dollar at most from my purchase, but it is still vile, disgusting, and wrong. They've done more wrong to MY life in this country, affecting MY rights, to allow it to happen. Just look at this.

Anyway, I didn't know what to do, the artist didn't make it available anywhere online, except iTunes, which is wrong in its own way. And I didn't ask them to sign on with the major label they did, but the worst part: I listen differently now to what they say. It's like there is some filter over the music. It's RIAA music now, and quite different.

So, these things become more and more important to me, and many others, and I'm not as involved in advertisting as I was. In fact, I don't typically see ANY local ads through radio, tv, or newspaper in a day, and it is a surprise when I catch the random auto dealer ad on radio, or a local community paper or something. With this demographic that I'm in (25-30 male), I should be getting BOMBARDED. So, the only way for the big companies to reach out to a responsible twenty something these days is to take over a band, a brand, a store that I previously thought was "mine". Well, ok, but it might be the beginning of the end.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's worth writing about, sure...

Who the f*** decided that sentences on the Internet shall no longer be formatted with two spaces after a period?!

This is a signature from slashdot. But it is true, and I'll tell you all the little things that this statement means to me. It's more than meets the eye.

Yes, the internet is powerful, everywhere, tempting, all encompassing, and defining. What happens on the internet, whether it be 1337 speak, punctuation, or humor (itsatrap!) tends to latch on to us, because it represents the most democratic medium - everyone's voice is there, and the conscience tends to fall toward the center of the bell curve of the participants, hence, society.

The lack of a second space after the period may be the future, and, like the comment says, it might be just one guy who decided when writing html standards. That is the power, and social leveller of the web.

Any english teacher will tell you that the language is constantly evolving. Merriam webster doesn't decide what new words are available. And, the increasing rate of change of things like this on the web are really telling. Who would have thought?

Friday, March 16, 2007

lottery followup

So, two people picked the numbers correctly in that huge mega millions jackpot. I, myself, bought a ticket for the most picked numbers. I also tried one for the least picked. My source was the official database, from They had 1019 draws over 6 years available to me, so I put together a quick chart. The distribution was as follows:

Image Hosted by

For those interested, here is the
chart for the "mega" ball.

So, 5,22,32,42,47, and I used the megaball of 3. I had to pick one to leave out, and that was 17.

For the least picked numbers, I used (discarding the numbers above 51 inserted in the past year to lower odds for all of us.

2,19,33,34,41, and 51

Well, the actual picks were

Mega Ball = 20

So, I matched one number, which wins nothing.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lottery mentality

To sum it up: I don't want to win the lottery.

Yep, but I do put down the dollar here and there, it's a simple little thing that I can do to enrich my mind. There isn't any chance that anything will come of it - but it keeps you dreaming. Over the last year I have spent maybe $12 on tickets for the bigger lotteries, the multi-state, multi-hundred-million ones, and some for the smaller.

So, why? Well, it forces me to think long term. What would I do with money? What would I do if I didn't have to work? What if there was something I could do about it? And it helps you click things together, piece by piece. I know that I'm not going to win, and I don't give even a second thought to it when I don't. Sure it would be nice to match 2 or 3 numbers and win a few thousand bucks. THAT would help me.

But, $370 million just isn't a great thing if it were to happen to me. At that point, everything is different. Your friends go away, your family would use you. Well, not mine, but you get the point. You enter the place where security is an everyday issue for you, kidnapping is a possibility, and depending on your age, you can't take it with you anyway, so it really just becomes a legacy. You need to avoid lawsuits, driving, shopping, you better keep your sidewalk shoveled.

But, since I'm not running for president, I don't want the money. But playing the lottery makes me aware of the more likely things that could happen to me, like starting a successful company, or inventing something useful to the world. That's the thing, I need to be aware of all of these options, and that's what I'm buying for my dollar. So leave me alone.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reposting my words...

Ok, so I wrote this response on a forum, and it sums up my mindset at the moment. Word-for-word, here ya go:

jbplaster wrote:

i do believe it is the domain of the aia to work toward bolstering architects' fees. how this is handled, i don't know, but the situation is bad and it's not getting better.

The problem, like you mentioned, is that we are really at the whim of the market, and we don't have the organization. Real estate agents have that capitalized logo, and they are incredibly careful to always refer to each other as "Realtors", or whatever it is. They are, basically, a de facto union. Now, maybe they are also headed on the path toward antitrust issues, but I do know that the US Justice department came down on the AIA as recently as 1990 for price fixing, and that long ago, architect rates in the US were set by a table. I don't have the exact info, but you could say that when we lost that advantage, it was the beginning of the end in this country. We need every advantage we can get, because when it comes right down to it, architecture is a luxury 90% of the time. And please think about it before you respond angrily. Are we closer to art/design/functionality than we are to economics/ profitability/sustainbility? The best architects I know use metrics like cost per dorm bed interchangably with terms like "sense of place". The architects I see who can't make payroll usually spend their time waving their arms and describing that one project they saw in duomo in 1984. They would also hate to look over a project estimate spreadsheet. That's boring to them.

Business is not easy, nor fair, and like someone else mentioned on this thread, money flows only when it is forced to. If you can make it essential for a client to hire an architect, then you will be paid what you deserve. Bringing it back to this thread, engineers are legally required for much of the work they do, doctors have a protected monopoly and revenue stream (HMO premiums) and are required to do even the smallest services ("oh, it's just a small operation, you don't need a licence for that"), and lawyers are trained to create their own work through litigation and preemptive "legal strategy". Bonuses are also given to lawyers based on the additional time they earn for their firm, they are being paid for being inefficient! Could you imagine if an architect went around offering contractual advice for companies in case of architectural services needed in the future? That's the position I want.

I don't know, but there are thousands of new architectural graduates every year, and the number of projects is not increasing. The excess supply has led to the alarming trend: you start with a discipleship that we have been brainwashed into doing after education. You know, that model shop internship for Gehry or Meier or Pritzker Associates you took for no pay. Now you are 25 and have no savings, no actual experience in construction, no hours accumulated toward IDP, but great contacts! So you take a starter salary position at a corporate firm ($28k with benefits), stay there a while and boom, you're thirty and making $39,000 trying to live in a large city because you just can't stand the suburbs. Meanwhile, your engineer buddies from college took their entry level hits after college, have ten years of experience, licence in hand and on track for associate at the firm, have moved up the pay scale, got a house in a subdivsion with a kid or two, and absolutely love their minivans. I don't know if they have demand problems, but your typical engineer is much more traditional in terms of making money and real-world situations, and NO engineer that I know would turn down a job because the buildings were boring, or some other ideological reason.

I know that I personally was out of tune with the dynamics of the demand for our services, especially when I picked this path at age 17, but I'm not going to let that deter me. I see what is necessary for our clients, and if that is checking every line item for them, then that's what we try to get them. If that isn't what we called architecture a few years ago, then I will adapt. If I need to get a business degree or move my office to the construction site, then I'll go. I don't have the energy or enthusiasum for the profession as a whole to try to change it or wait for the NCARB or whoever to get their act together.