Monday, August 17, 2009

The Practice of Architecture as Benedictine Monasticism

This afternoon I picked up a phone message from the client for the little drawing I did, per the last post. The fabricators, he says, want to know the deflection and the loading for the new beam that's going in.

Fine, I tell him, I can work that out.

What I didn't mention was, hey, um, this wasn't in the original scope of work. The fabricators were supposed to take care of that themselves, given the info supplied. I finished the drawing I was asked to do, and he's paid me for it. Which is good. But the invoice I handed him last week was already discounted to reflect what he was willing to pay.

So now do I tell my EP that doing these calcs will be extra?

Golly Moses, no. I'm going to revert to the style of my past employers going back to the '70s and '80s and eat the fee to retain the good will.

I have to wonder, had they not beaten it into our heads in architecture school that we'd better not be in it to enrich ourselves and that becoming an architect was equivalent to taking a vow of poverty, chastity,* and obedience; if my early architectural practice role models had had harder heads for business; if I didn't have a neurotic attitude towards money such that I believed and accepted this bs, I'd be a Rich and Successful Architect by now. But back then, Architecture wasn't about making money, it was about Serving the Public and/or Doing Beautiful Design. Good grief, we practically paid the clients for giving us the privilege!

And now the concrete has hardened in the form and it's too bloody late for me to change.
*Well, sorta, but mainly because we'd be too busy cranking out drawings to indulge in any such frivolity.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Graphite Fingers

Congratulate me. I've just nearly-finished my first bit of architecture work in over two years.

"Bit" is the operative word. It is the slightest, the lightest of projects. A whim, a wisp, a trifle. A mere scribble done to edify the fabricators of a new structural beam, that will be installed to replace an existing bearing wall in a local residence. No design, no actual calculations on my part, just documentation of existing conditions with notes on the distance to be spanned by the new support.

Nevertheless, it might prove important for me, since it's for the Executive Presbyter of my presbytery, and if any of our churches need renovation work, it would be nice to be referred.

I did the drawing by hand. Even if my AutoCAD program hadn't expired last December, I wouldn't have used it for this project, since it was a student version and everything you printed out from it bore the scarlet letter of "PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK EDUCATIONAL PRODUCT." In other words, "Naughty, naughty, you've used this relatively-cheap student version for your professional work, instead of paying us for the full version that costs ten times more!" Nope, that'd look bad.

There are free computer drafting programs available on line. But I've already learned AutoCAD and why do I want to confuse myself learning a different one? At least, a different one that nobody uses in any professional office.

So it's drawn in my old pencil-on-vellum style, barring a couple of things on which I need more information from the owners. On things like this, hand-drafting can be faster in some ways.

Still, it'd be nice to have my own full version of AutoCAD, even without 3-D. But at well over $1,000 for an individual license, how can I manage that?

Well, maybe, by way of eBay . . . I'm watching an auction for a full version of AutoCAD LT . . . which ends tomorrow at 12:51 my time . . . which is ten minutes before I'm due at the final planning meeting for the local committee for the North American Festival of Wales that's taking place here in Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend . . . a meeting that's fifty minutes away and that I must attend . . .

Hmm. I guess I'll watch it till I have to leave, throw in a bid if the spirit moves me, and let the results take care of themselves.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My Cut-Rate Grand Tour, Day Thirty-two: Epilogue

Friday, 6 January, 1989 (concluded)
Back in Oxford

I was set down on the Banbury Road a bit before 6:00. Thought I was going to be balked at the last minute, when I stood at the bus stop across from Coverdale*and could not find a break in the traffic. Once across, though, I had no trouble getting in . . .

Yes, yours truly hadn’t even considered that she was supposed to turn in her keys when she left.

My room was used over break; the furniture was rearranged just enough to make the place look uncanny when I walked in. It was too clean, too.

I soon solved that. Mrs. Smythe* [the housekeeper] was in for who knows what reason this evening and let me have the key to the storeroom. I liberated my possessions and by 3:00 AM had put them all back in order. That work included sorting out papers from last term, so the lateness of that hour isn’t as bad as it looks.

I’d intended to do the wash this evening; had it all bagged up and ready, but found I didn’t have enough 20p pieces for the dryer. Which perhaps was a good excuse to go find something to eat and get change at the same time.

I knew Lukas* was coming back today, too, and so when I saw the light under his door I had the temerity to knock.

Well, I don’t know what his problem had been in Switzerland, but he seemed all right again. He invited me in, gave me some tea, and we talked for a half hour or more.

And just as it had in Olten at the train station, his appearance affected me in a most troublesome way. His hair has gotten longer and it looks quite well on him. I shan’t tell him that; else when he gets it cut I’ll be thinking he’s done it to spite me. Tonight, despite the extreme casualness of his dress (he had on some old slacks and a magenta T-shirt), I found him more attractive than he has any business to be, especially considering our differences on liturgical matters.

Though maybe those needn’t have anything to do with one another.

He’d already eaten and around 8:00 I went out. Tried the Lamb & Flag and the Eagle & Child, but the former was too crowded and the latter had stopped serving. Pity. The food people were eating looked quite good.

Ended up at the Fasta Pasta on Little Clarendon and spent entirely too much for a plate of tortellini. Took the half I couldn’t eat home with me and put it in the fridge in the little kitchen. I’ll finish it off sometime this weekend.

And that really is the end. Due to my indolence I don't have any more complete trip diaries, but may have a vignette to share here or there, of Oxford life or various short excursions. We'll see!