Archive for October, 2012

And I Won’t Even Have To Send Her To College

October 19, 2012


  You’ll recall that some months ago (4/20/12) my little black angel had her way with our computer.  Well, now she’s not so little, wife is away for a spell, and thus the major occupation of my increasingly enfeebled mind is that of her energy management.  No small task.  She’s now an eighty pound bolt of black lightening.

  Raring to go at 5:00 AM every morning, a five or so mile run gets her down to about neutral for a while and it’s fun.  Today for example we crossed paths with a young reporter for a local TV station on a live remote.  She was cute, but for some reason evinced perturbation when Nellie attempted to wrestle the microphone from her grip.  More friendly are the folks at the coffee shop close to home.

  Worried sick about the inside of our house, I race home for lunch hoping to beat her full recharge.  So far the worst has been the demise of a phone book and package from LL Bean.  (Please don’t mention this to wife.)  Outside is another story.  While I’ve been changing clothes sweet Nellie has torn drain tile out of the ground and shake shingles from side of house.

  So, every day at noon I grab a quick bite and then take her for a drive to a hike in the woods and problems of a different sort.  There are more than 100 acres of timber where we go and first couple of times out she disappeared.  It’s deer season and some years ago old friend Sauger was ahead of wife and son in these woods.  They crested a hill to see a deer hunter with bow drawn and aimed at our (then) pup!

  We’ve seen (and chased) a few deer, but had no such incident.  However, several days ago I found myself, uh, bewildered in the Daniel Boone sense of the word.  For a good long while and in the rain.  By the time I made it back to our vehicle I had worked up considerable concern, but Nellie was there and I could tell she’d been concerned too because she ran the multiple tight little circles she does when exuberant. 

  The experience was good for us both, first because an approach to the razor’s edge is always invigorating and second, lesson learned, we now pay attention and pretty much stick together.  And finally, for the opportunity to feel such deep connection.  Like wise wife said (12/2/11): “Every dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart”.   

*Interesting.  Auto correct wanted me to substitute ‘that’ for the ‘who’ in the last sentence.  Take note couch potatoes, there is no heart in your machine.

Less is a bore…

October 5, 2012


  Spent last week in the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania working on a research project.  Found that the investigation of a particular archive is fortunately facilitated by a document called a ‘Finding Aid’ which presents its contents in outline form.  Personal papers, professional papers, drawings, photographs, models, etc.

  The archive of my interest consists of thirty-one cubic feet of boxed files and I estimate that I examined about a third of the material contained therein and look forward to returning to complete this phase of the my endeavor.  It is unbelievably fascinating because of the punctuation of the expected provided by the un-.

  My concentration never waned from open to close due to the nature of the subject (details down the road) as well as that of the professional staff and others with whom I met.  Nonetheless, I did take a break from time to time and often visited other spaces in the Fisher Fine Arts Library.  You see the main reading room above.  Isn’t the fall of the early morning light on the wall wonderful? 

  The brick and terra-cotta building was designed by the acclaimed Philadelphia architect Frank Furness and opened in 1891. Programmatic evolution and misguided modifications took a toll.  However, a six year sixteen million dollar renovation (1986-1991) led by Venturi Scott Brown and Associates gave way to renaissance and rave reviews.

  Indeed, with its singular amalgam of scale, styles, and materials, this building is  Venturi’s seminal Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture made manifest.  “I like complexity and contradiction in architecture… [an] architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern experience… I am for messy vitality over obvious unity…More is not less…Less is a bore.”

  Interestingly, in a footnote sort of way, VSB added a bit of complexity and contradiction to the building through the FF&E (fixtures, furnishings, and equipment) budget.  Look at the non period overstuffed chairs at the bottom of the photo above and close up below.  Footnote on footnote, the chairs remind me of the columns in their Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London…

*Check out  Brother recommended I employ the site to find an apartment for the week.  Worked out well.  Great location, fine accommodations and arrangements.  Facility instructions prohibited tobacco, but marijuana would be ok.  Nice touch.  Informal conversations in the archives with folks of several different nationalities attested to the widespread use of airbnb.  Especially amongst those half my age and younger.