Archive for February, 2005

my neighbor is such a freak!

February 27, 2005 Leave a comment

my neighbor is such a freak! he doesn’t live in his house, he just comes to visit once a month. he usually arrives late at night w/ his 2 dogs, when its dark outside. over the next 24 hours, he messes around in his house and backyard, but who knows what he does. the house is in disrepair and the lawns are overgrown. he pushes a manual hand powered lawnmower for a bit, but doesn’t really cut grass. he collects some sticks and puts them in a pile in the middle of the yard. his dogs bark at anything and everything. he walks around his yard at night w/ a flashlight. then the next day, as soon as he arrives he drives off for another several weeks.

Categories: WTF?

Landscape Ecology: "disturbances may even be requi…

February 27, 2005 Leave a comment

Landscape Ecology:
“disturbances may even be required for the maintenance of community structure and ecosystem function” (Turner, p.157)
“disturbance has been increasingly recognized by ecologists as a natural process and source of heterogeneity within ecological communities” (Turner, p. 157)
“nonequilibrial view of the natural world” (Turner, p. 157)

landscapes can provide a line of progress for disturbance events. elevation and sun exposure (both of which contribute to species differentiation and concentration), proximity to human density, moisture, and natural landscape characteristics (such as ridges, streams/rivers, cliffs) can affect the disturbance just as the disturbance can affect the biota living in the landscape. hurricane winds tend to be strong horizontally oriented winds, and so are greatly effected by the presence of hills. winds from the southeast will therefore have a huge impact on southeast and northwest facing slopes. southwest and northeast facing slopes, however, will be less effected. mid-western landscapes, though, suffer from different types of wind storms – gusts of wind that drop suddenly from up above, regardless of direction. landscape will have no affect on these types of winds, and patches will be affected regardless of their locations within the landscape.

“spatial homogeneity often enhances the spread of a disturbance” (turner, p.165); single crop agriculture is more susceptible to decimation by pests, live oak in austin is being killed off by oak wilt – the UT campus master plan encourages plantings of a variety of trees to avoid a mass tree death on campus.

Categories: architecture, school

eating with all 5 senses

February 27, 2005 Leave a comment

i perused an article the other day that talked about why french women aren’t fat. the only thing i remember is that french women eat w/ ‘all five senses’. while that’s quite a sweeping generalization for the slimness of the french female, it stuck in my mind. it came back to me this morning as i was eating breakfast while reading an article for school. i suddenly realized that in america, eating has become an almost background activity, something to fill a void. it’s not that i eat when there’s nothing else to do – it’s that i must always find something else to do while i eat.

back when i lived at home w/ my family, it was unheard of to watch tv while we ate. now that i live alone, it’s a different story. there’s nobody to talk to at dinner, and it’s really the only time i have to relax, maybe catch an episode of law & order. but it’s a curse! now if i’m not watching tv while i eat, i have to read. and while it may seem that reading is better than watching tv, they’re both bad activities to partake of whilst eating (ye olde english). why? b/c they take attention away from the act of eating – eating becomes a background activity to reading or watching tv. you don’t taste, smell, see, feel the food w/ the same intensity as you would if that book was closed. there’s no acknowledgement of the role that food plays in our lives (only on an individual basis – family gatherings and religious/secular holidays all glorify food, but those happen infrequently when compared to the amount of times a year we put food in our mouths). this doesn’t mean that we should all pray in thanks for the food we ingest – although it is a very small step to see that progression, and it becomes easy to understand why such prayers and practices developed. it just means that perhaps if we actually focus on the food while we eat, savor its taste and texture, then perhaps we’d appreciate the food just a little bit more – more than as a means to an end.

Categories: food, health, life

spiritual space..synagogue… color evokes respons…

February 14, 2005 Leave a comment

spiritual space..synagogue…
color evokes responses of spirituality and emotion that verge on primal. looking at beautiful multi-colored tallis’, or the rainbowed light filtered through a stain-glass window can get me lost in a plane of transcendence. color can sometimes be enough to provoke tears.

color can be intricate to spirituality, but should it be the focus of a spiritual space? should light? light seems to be the vogue of spritual space nowadays, and for good reason. but it seems that the types of spaces created by light and shadow are more solitary; and if they are inhabited by many people, the individual response is not communal. color and light are things to marvel at – the way the light casts shadows, the way it falls off in intensity, the way it picks up texture, the way it moves through the day. light is ever-changing and will constantly steal attention.

a synagogue, though, is a space of communal prayer. jewish services promote socialization, glances and gestures between congregants, focus on the cantor and bimah and ark and rabbi. the service is solitary in its recitation, as all congregants chant at their own pace and in their own tone – the culmination of this multitude gushes intensity. a series of cars revving their engines before a race. while the prayer is meditative and inwardly focused, the result is outwardly focused as the congregation becomes the sum of its parts. a perfect harmony is never sought; the purpose is to keep attention within and amongst the congregants – the community is what elevates the spirituality.

if the architecture is too incredible, it draws attention away from the service and detracts from the purpose of prayer. if any one object that is not the ark or bimah is given focus, then attention is drawn towards analysis and mesmerization and not prayer. the building design should be beautiful enough to elicit remarks, but not so incredible as to divert attention during the service.

should light and color be minimized?

Categories: architecture, school

simply put, Rousseau believed:

February 13, 2005 Leave a comment

simply put, Rousseau believed that man was a purely good beast; when left to his own primal devices, man would seek the outcome that was both most beneficial to his position, and least disruptive overall. he treated pre-societal man as the ideal creature – good-natured and calm, unlikely to do harm to other creatures except in self-defense. he posited that as society slowly developed – almost inevitably – man was required by circumstances to develop characteristics that, although they ensured his survival in this new society, ultimately led to a depraved, capricious, selfish, and wanton man.

it follows that the outcome and the cause of human debasement – cities – should be abandoned in order to lead humankind back to a state of perfection in harmony with nature. cities cause human suffering, nature was indirectly responsible for happiness. humans should leave cities and commune with nature.

however, i question the reasoning that Rousseau was a father of garden cities. my reading indicated that man abdicate all association with civilization and again become a ‘forest-dweller’. was he merely suggesting that a greater contact w/ nature was the only requirement for a healthier, happier life? that appears to be how his writing was understood by some.
le Doux (1736-1806), as a Utopian architect, designed a number of projects resembling country communes. though his plans were specific in their design, they were not designed around factories as were many later designs. he proposed garden communities purely for the sake of providing better housing to the classes and professions typically denied such benefits. there was no paternalistic tendency, no design was ever constructed; this was design for the sake of human betterment.

the projects that actually were built, tended to be built around factories. they were plans for the betterment of factory workers, who lived in unhealthy inner-city conditions. by moving the factory and homes outside of the polluted city, their designers hoped to socialize the lower classes and also to reap the benefits of increased productivity. while there is no denying the altruistic overtones of social reform that these projects possessed, it seems that the ultimate success of such projects did lie with their abilities to produce profit.

james silk buckingham designed another hypothetical community named Victoria. housing and manufacturing were placed in layers of concentric squares about a central clock tower, with the more polluting industries placed in the peripheral squares. a green belt was to surround the town, and the houses were to contain flush toilets and be of generous size. better living conditions equates with better social interaction and ultimately higher profits. the only sofical reformation he appears to have proposed include naming streets such as Justice, Unity, Peace, Concord, Fortitude, Charity, Hope, and Faith. osmosis…merely surrounding workers in an atmosphere of good will and moral virtue were supposed to raise their standing.

a series of towns were actually built along these lines, although the built communities tended to include education facilities for both children and adults. social engineering could not be accomplished merely by altering physical conditions:- education, required for children but optional for adults, was instituted.

Robert Owen renovated New Lanark, a community developed by his father-in-law to house his cotton spinning mill’s workers. when Owen took over in 1799, the community was in a sad state, characterized by drunkeness, low productivity, idleness, theft. through a program lasting roughly 20 years, Owen nurtured the towns inhabitants through a process of kind treatment and education, reforming the workers and increasing productivity. he jumpstarted the concept of socialism, inspired Eigels (who co-authored A Communist Manifesto w/ Marx some 20-odd years later), instituted a number of cooperatives in England, and led a failed attempt to build a new Utopian community in New Harmony, Indiana, USA.

Sir Titus Salt created Saltaire (play on both his name and the emotions it evokes of healthy sea air) between 1848-1863. High quality housing separated from the manufacturing mill. Saltaire offered living spaces of various sizes, rented by the workers according to their needs. A variety of architectural styles were incorporated to break the monotony and instill a sense of age. Communal baths, churches, schools, an infirmary, and several other buildings were designed for the betterment of the public good.

Bournville, built by the Cadbury Brothers (i do believe we are speaking of cadbury chocolate), created a self-supporting industrial town. decent living quarters were provided for all factory workers, not just those employed in the Cadbury factory. indeed, only 40% of the accomodations were rented by Cadbury workers. Open space was a major concern, w/ all houses spaced at least 20 ft apart on road frontages – the Public Health Act of 1875 required an space on two sides of a house. Houses and roads were built along existing features, giving the village a natural, rolling look to it. The suburban cul-de-sac and crescent appear to have been developed here.

Port Sunlight, built by the Lever brothers of heavenly soap fame, had a more socialist bent to it than did Bournville. profits were put back into improved housing conditions; unlike Bournville, Port Sunlight designed its own landscapes. Homes were extremely English looking – , and all homes were given small gardens.

Categories: architecture, school

every religion and every point of view is correct….

February 8, 2005 2 comments

every religion and every point of view is correct. reality is a matter of personal beliefs, formed by upbringing and all events perceived.

religion is personal, even when imposed by higher authority (not god). one is not better than the other, and within one relgion, one sect or version is not better. i’ve struggled over this break in the past b/c i don’t care much one way or the other about religion. whatever you worship is fine, and i don’t have much personal preference. but when push comes to shove, i get almost scentimental for orthodox jewish services b/c its what i grew up w/. i say that other versions of judaism are fine w/ me, but i prefer to worhsip in orthodox services – even though i am not observant. i now don’t think its necessarily b/c its what i grew up w/, though that obviously hugely influenced me, but moreso b/c i feel that there is a communal spirit of agreement at work. everyone in that service has a relatively similar view on religion, is schooled extensively in it, and feels strongly about it, and this is apparent in their worship.

maybe my predilection towards orthodox judaism is strong b/c i haven’t seen another version of judaism pray w/ as much fervor, dedication, or education as does orthodox judaism. i can relate moreso to a devout catholic service than i can to a reform service – not b/c reform is a stripped down version of religion (b/c, again, it’s all personal) but b/c the service seems to lack warmth, spirit, and conviction. i personally like to feel the gutteral reverberations of a group of men singing from their depths – women singing don’t affect me the same way. perhaps this is CEREBRAL.

this connects to another feeling of higher power and connection – it doesn’t come in the precision tuning of single focus, but in the imperfect singularities that form a greater whole. a group of men singing the same song and tune, but at their own relative paces and tonal abilities forms an extremely strong web of song thats impenetrable. it’s like a mob, a rabble – nothing can get through it, and you can feel it well up to a high degree of power. a choir may be something to marvel at – it’s something that you can listen to and admire, but an orthodox service is something that swallows you and makes you a part of it. single computer = choir. network of computers = orthodox. and if it lacks conviction, it doesn’t produce the same effect, and full circle i don’t respect it enough to worship there (again, even though i don’t worship to a god or through prayer, if a do take part in a service, i want to be among people who are strong in their belief and their religion – my personal connection to something greater, if i even feel that i have one, is entirely undefined and not practiced through reading words from a book).

Categories: life, misc., philosophy, religion