Sunday, November 6, 2011

RIP Todd, 2003-2011

I am very sad to report that earlier today, Todd lost his battle with a malignant nerve sheath tumor that had been aggressively growing on his left hind leg.

Todd was rescued in January of 2004 as a six-month-old puppy, when he came to live with Paul (his brother) and me.

Todd seemed pretty clearly to have a good percentage of Plott Hound in him, as you can tell by looking at the photos in the link.  Plotts are native to North Carolina, and hardly anyone here in L.A. has heard of them.  When we were in Tennessee last summer, however, he was regularly recognized as a Plott by local folk who knew of the breed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Amazing Gluten-free, High-fat, Semi-paleo Mac & Cheese Recipe

I grew up with Mom's made-from-scratch, baked-in-the-oven Macaroni and Cheese, which was always a favorite in our house. I never even tasted the stuff from the box (that strangely goes by the same name but is almost completely unrelated) until college.

Her basic cookbook, then and now, has always been the 1963 Good Housekeeping Cookbook.

In more recent years, Mom has managed to track down additional copies of that exact same edition...

...and now my sisters and I all have our own.

The recipe presented below was adapted from the "Basic Baked Macaroni and Cheese" recipe from that cookbook. 

Mac + Cheese is one of the things I have missed after going paleo a couple of years ago.  I won't say I never made it again, but I have definitely gotten out of practice, with a recipe that had become something of a specialty. After discovering gluten-free pasta at my local Trader Joe's, I've made it a few times over the past several weeks, and I think I've managed to get my Mac + Cheese Mojo back.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Community Group: SoCal Obejctivists

I just got back from Chicago where I had an awesome weekend courtesy of the Chicago Objectivist Society, at their MINICON.  Over the past year and a half, I've made many good objectivist friends in Atlanta, Denver and now Chicago (among other places). All those cities have vibrant objectivist community clubs, run by and for people with an enthusiasm for Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

Once I realized how much fun was being had by these folks, with their monthly socials, dinner lecture events, and conferences, I started thinking how much fun it would be to start such a group here in the L.A. area.  One would think that with the Ayn Rand Institute right here in our backyard, such a club would be thriving, but there isn't really one. (I guess that would make Irvine the backyard of L.A. Well maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but stay with me.)

Meanwhile, I was going back and forth to Tennessee, and even living there for a while, for a house I designed and helped build. Then the new year rolled around and I thought it was a great time to start up the club.  Then I had a freak accident requiring hand surgery, and all that stuff that completely derailed the first half of the year.  My summer was spent getting caught up, and now I'm finally moving forward again.

Which means:


It also helps that I've become friends with Objectivist sex blogger Jason Stotts over the past several months, and he wants a local club here in SoCal too.  So, without any further ado, we are proud to announce the formation of the SoCal Objectivists.

From the 'About' page on our Google Group:

This announcement list is for Objectivists and others in Southern California seriously interested in Ayn Rand's ideas. It's purpose is to announce our periodic, informal social events, and distribute info about other events of interest, such as Objectivist campus clubs and Ayn Rand Institute Events.

We're planning our first social event for the evening of Saturday, September 17th, probably in the Long Beach area. Meeting locations will alternate monthly between Los Angeles and Inland Empire/Orange County. Our goal is to create simultaneous L.A. and I.E./O.C. chapters under one larger organization.

For now we're running things from the Google Group, but we will have a regular web page up and running soon. You can follow us on Twitter @SoCalOists, or like us on Facebook, or just sign up to get our announcements at our Google Group.  We will also be disseminating information about other local events of interest via the Google Group, such as objectivist campus club events and Ayn Rand Institute events.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Auditorium Building - Additional Images & Tour Info

Since it's less than two weeks until the Big Tour of the Auditorium Building, as well as the Louis-Sullivan's-Birthday-Edition of my talk on Viollet-le-Duc, Sullivan and Wright, and I'm in full-on final prep mode this week. I'm also very excited!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about with this tour, here's the deal: I'm leading a tour of one of the greatest extant works (the Auditorium Building) by the Godfather of Modern Architecture (Louis Sullivan), on Friday, September 2nd, starting at 2 pm.

The Auditorium Building is now owned by Roosevelt University, and we will be visiting several spaces that are part of Roosevelt that aren't generally available on a walk-in basis to the general public. We will also be seeing some spaces that are viewable on a walk-in basis, as well as visiting the Auditorium Theatre in a private, specially-arranged group tour.  All in all, we will be seeing as complete a picture of the entire building as one can have, and we will see Sullivan's architectural genius on full display.

To kick off the week, I thought I'd post a few additional pictures of the Auditorium Building from my visit there last month.  Let's start off with some of the Roosevelt University portions of the building that are not part of the Auditorium Theatre itself.

Friday, July 29, 2011

John Lautner Tour: Harpel House, 1956

The next house I bring you from last weekend's Lautner Tour is the Harpel House.  Nine years after the Jacobsen House, we can see that structure is clearly a major theme in John Lautner's work. Harpel displays his ongoing interest in developing a fully integrated and expressed structural system, for each project, as an important architectural value.

Harpel is located a few miles west of the Jacobsen House, just down Mulholland and on the opposite side about a block. From the road, there is a long driveway that goes uphill to a level pad where the house sits. You can get a pretty clear picture of the siting of the house from the Google Satellite view:

The Harpel House is the white bar at the lower right.  The octagon to the left is Lautner's famous Chemosphere, aka the Malin House. The small white circle just below the Harpel House is a Futuro which is apparently being restored by the Harpel's owner.

We weren't allowed to photograph inside the house, so I'll give an exterior tour and describe a few things I liked about the inside, using the floor plan for visuals.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Lautner Tour: Jacobsen House, 1947

Last weekend I had the wonderful treat of participating in the special tour of John Lautner-designed homes that was jointly put on by the MAK Center and the John Lautner Foundation.  The whole thing was done in celebration of what would have been Lautner's 100th birthday on July 16th of this year.

I present them here in the reverse of the order in which I saw them on the tour, for a couple of reasons. First, by reversing the order, I will roughly present them in a chronological sequence from earlier career to later, which I think makes sense with this particular group of projects. Second, it makes little sense to lead with Sheats/Goldstein, since everything is pretty much anticlimactic after that.

One more introductory note: the MAK and Lautner folks who organized the tour did a great job, and produced a booklet for the tour with information about the houses. In my blog posts in this series, all the images are my own photographs, with the exception of one or two archival photos from the booklet, and the Lautner drawings which I scanned from the tour booklet.

The Jacobsen is on Multiview Drive, just below Mulholland Drive, overlooking the San Fernando Valley above Studio City and Universal City.  Multiview is a pretty good street for architecture; Schindler's wonderful Kallis House, with its butterfly roof and quirky stone fireplaces, is nearby on the same side of the street.

This is an early-career project for Lautner, dating from 1947.  According to Wikipedia, he had left Frank Lloyd Wright's employment and gone off on his own by that time, although he did not finally obtain his own architecture license until 1952.

So, this house is the work of an unlicensed individual who would have found himself in violation of California law had he have claimed to have been an architect. Ahem. Don't get me started.

The other houses on the tour were better concealed from the road; this house reveals itself pretty directly to you as you walk up the driveway:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Little Pre-tour Lautner Fun at Curbed LA

I had a look at Curbed LA this morning to see if there was anything on there about the Lautner Tour, and I wasn't disappointed!

Curbed rarely disappoints.

Earlier this week they posted a neat little video of appearances by Lautner homes in movies. It's good fun, and they even included the sort-of appearance of the Chemosphere house on the Simpsons. Two houses from the tour are shown here, the Jacobsen and Sheats/Goldstein houses.

They have more info about the houses in the video over at Curbed.

Also don't forget to keep an eye on my live tour update posts, starting in a couple of hours, by following me at:
(pick one)

I may even throw in some good stuff that's not even part of the tour!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Follow my Live Coverage of the John Lautner Home Tour

I'm very excited about the tour I'm participating in tomorrow, of 4 private homes designed by the great modern master John Lautner.

For the benefit of you, my readers (and because its fun!) I'm going to be covering the event with updates and photos throughout the day, through the magic of social media:

Twitter: follow me at for updates with links to photos.
Facebook: friend me at
Tumblr: Check out my new Tumblr blog for photo updates throughout the day at

I'll be posting the same updates to all 3 sites simultaneously, so don't feel like you have to keep track of all 3.

The Tumblr blog is going to be a bit of an experiment for me. Thus far, I'm thinking of it this way: Creatures of Prometheus is going to remain my primary blogging outlet for more thoughtful analysis, carefully written essays, photo essays, and the like; whereas I'll use the Tumblr blog for briefly captioned mobile uploads and live-tweeting (live tumbling?) or live-blogging of events that will benefit from lots of photography.

I also plan to take my trusty Nikon D-90 on the tour and get lots of 'good' photos of the houses too, and write up separate blog posts for each one, as I described the other day. One thing that throws a little wrench into this plan is that they have forbidden any photography at the Harpel House. Perhaps they will allow some exterior photography there. In any event, I can bring my sketchbook.

I got my ticket and wrist band in the mail today,

and my itinerary is as follows:

11:20 am- 12:00 pm Sheats/Goldstein House
12:05 pm - 12:45 pm Schwimmer House
1:35 pm - 2:05 pm Harpel House
2:15 pm - 2:45 pm Jacobsen House

Also, the Schindler House on Kings Road will be open all day, with free admission for tour-goers, so I'll likely stop by there after the tour, on my way home. That should be a great way to decompress, collect my thoughts, and contemplate the events of the day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Touring Louis Sullivan's Auditorium Building at COS MiniCon

In the period of a few years between 1887 and 1889, a 30-year-old Louis Sullivan, aided by his 18-year-old assistant Frank Lloyd Wright, conceived and built the Auditorium Building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway in Chicago.  The building is a tour-de-force of Sullivan's genius, and is generally considered to be among his greatest works.  I'm thrilled to be presenting a special tour of the building as part of the Chicago Objectivist Society's MiniCon, this coming Labor Day weekend.

The Theatre was (and is) renowned for its acoustical perfection, among other technical innovations that amazed theater goers when the building was new. It was the first building to employ a system of central air conditioning, the first to be lit exclusively with incandescent light bulbs, and and it is often cited as the first mixed use building, as it contained not only the Auditorium Theatre, but also a hotel and rental office space.

When most people (of those who are aware of it) think of the Auditorium Building, I would venture to guess that their minds typically go straight to the Theatre, and rightly so.  The Theatre itself is the crown jewel of the building, after all. But, there is a lot more to the Auditorium Building than just the famous Auditorium Theatre.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Forget the Tea Party, I Want to Start the Lemonade Party

It's a horrifying development that one of the themes of the Summer of 2011 is the ongoing war being waged by local municipalities all across the US against kids and their lemonade stands. It's a regular occurrence to see outraged links to these news stories in my twitter and facebook feeds.

Over at Josh Blackman's Blog, he has a nice little post about a recent NPR opinion piece on the topic, which I recommend you check out. He starts out:
When NPR has an opinion piece in favor of the right to earn an honest living–let the kids have lemonade stands!–you know the statists went too far.
The NPR piece itself neatly captures the essence of the issue in its opening line:
If lemonade stands are symbols of the American dream, and if lemonade stands are under attack in the United States, then the American dream is under attack.
To be more specific, the lemonade stand issue represents the American dream under a 3-pronged attack by statists at all levels of government:
  1. The ongoing erosion of Property Rights. A person has the right to use & dispose of his property as he sees fit, provided he does not violate the rights of others in so doing. If a person wants to invite others onto his front lawn for the purpose of selling them lemonade, its his right. For the police to show up, and prevent this harmless activity from taking place, is pure thuggery. The police officers who enforce these laws should be ashamed of themselves, and don't give me any of that 'he's just doing his job' crap.

    Let me say it again in a bigger font:

    The police officers who enforce these laws should be ashamed of themselves.

  2. Denial of the Right to Contract. Parties have an absolute right to voluntarily enter into mutually beneficial agreements of their own choosing. If I have lemonade to sell, and you're a willing buyer, there is no proper role for government in initiating force against us to prevent the sale. Of course, you have the right to ask me all kinds of questions about the quality of my product, and even sue me in court if I misrepresent what I'm selling you. But, as long as the transaction is purely voluntary, the initiation of force by any outside party, government or otherwise, to prevent it, is immoral. Ayn Rand identified this concept as:

    The Trader Principle.

  3. Attack on individuals' Right to Earn a Living.  Ever heard of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Ever thought about what that really means, in a practical, nuts-and-bolts way? I think most people hear this well-worn phrase and picture, in a very lofty and abstract way, that America was founded as the place where you could follow your dream and do whatever you want to with your life. This is certainly true, but try thinking about it in a more concrete way. How about: A person has a moral right to earn an honest living by the means of his own choosing.

    How about one more time, with feeling:

    A person has a moral right to earn an honest living by the means of his own choosing.

    Of course, this concept has been completely turned on its ear these days. The slew of regulations, at multiple levels of government, that act as barriers to entry for new businesses don't just prevent new businesses from opening. They kill peoples' dreams. They prevent people from earning an honest living by the means of their own choosing. If you think that those regulations are actually necessary to prevent people from harming each other, I would refer you to point #2 above. The vast majority of regulation today is simple denial of the Right to Contract in the interest of furthering some political ends. I think that formulation deserves a Big Font, too.

    The vast majority of regulation today is simple denial of the Right to Contract, in the interest of furthering some political ends.
I think that today, the most critically abused aspects of Individual Rights are these three. The War on Lemonade Stands is a horrific encapsulation of what goes on every day, at all scales, when government oversteps its proper role of protecting our rights, and instead becomes the violator of our rights.

Although the Tea Party movement had its origins in a reaction to government abuses not unlike those described above, I and many others fear it will be (or has been?) co-opted by the Religious Right and their anti-Individual-Rights social agenda. Of course, the only real way to combat government intrusion is a robust, moral defense of Individual Rights, which the Tea Party has yet to embrace, and which is largely antithetical to any mainstream political thinking today.

I say forget the Tea Party, let's start the Lemonade Party! And while most appeals to take action 'for the children' make me retch, this is one I could actually get behind and advocate for.

Do it for the children!


Update: 7/20/11

It looks like it's on! Turns out that Judy over at Consent of the Governed wrote this piece with much the same sentiment, and suggested August 20 as Lemonade for Freedom Day. Robert Fernandes has created a website called and facebook event page, and word is getting out. This is great!

Please help spread the word!

Mid-year Accomplishments for 2011

It's good to stop what you're doing periodically and review the positive accomplishments in your life.

A couple of months ago I posted on how I was finally feeling back to my old self after a period of months of unforeseen setbacks and troubles.  Well, as it turns out, it wasn't as easy as just 'snapping out of it' and going back to my previously robust self.  There have continued to be good days and bad days.  But, overall, I've managed to gain and/or keep the upper hand for the most part, and the stock chart of my life has, in fact, continued in a generally bullish trend.

Now that the year is slightly over half over, and lest anyone (I'm mainly talking about myself here) think the first 6 months of 2011 were a wash, I want to stop, take a timeout, and acknowledge some of my actual positive accomplishments from the first half of the year.

(This is the part where I get all fidgety in my seat and want to go to the kitchen for a snack or bottle of water or something.  Maybe I should go let the dogs out to run around in the front yard.  In fact, maybe the plants on the front porch need watering while I'm out there.  And while I'm at it, the tomato plants on along the driveway need some attention too.  See?  I could just go on all day like this.)

Where was I?  Oh, that's right.  My actual positive accomplishments from the first half of the year.

Let's see.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Celebrating John Lautner's 100th Birthday

Periodically, I sit down and avail myself of the Googles and Wikipedia to find birthdays of great architects and designers I admire.  I add them to my calendar, with the intent to blog my own little celebrations of them as they roll around throughout the year.

If you have any suggestions for me to add to the list, please feel free to chime in, in the comments.

There haven't been any for a few weeks now (of the ones I've added to my list thus far). Today we have a big one to celebrate.  Today marks the Centennial of John Lautner's birth.

Lautner was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's more illustrious proteges, and has a special place in my personal Pantheon. Lautner wasn't just another good architect.  He was an incredible visionary and innovator.

Rather than go on at length about Lautner's career, as the Wikipedia article linked above does, I'm keeping it short today, but don't worry, there's much more to come.

This summer, the John Lautner Foundation is holding a whole series of events to celebrate, including a tour next weekend of private Lautner homes in the L.A. area.  I bought my ticket this morning, and couldn't be more excited.  The tour is a little pricey at $100 but worth every penny, IMO.  You can get yours here.  Join me for the tour!  I'll have my camera with me and expect to take lots, and lots, and lots of pictures.

I plan to do a separate post for each house on the tour.  The tour includes (links are to Google image searches for each house) the Harpel House (1956), Jacobsen House (1956), Schwimmer House (1982) and Sheats/Goldstein House (1963/1989).

Stay tuned!  And raise a glass to the genius of John Lautner today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lou Kahn + Some Thoughts on Drawing

Architecture.  Making buildings.  Hopefully, with enough effort, the building will be worthwhile in the end. I'll stand there and admire it, and hopefully get to take a few photos of it, before turning it over to the owner. Maybe I will get to return and visit from time to time. Sometimes projects are far away, and you may not get the opportunity to go back, ever.

When you look at a particular building, all you can see is the finished product. There are no semi-erased lines on the floor showing where the walls would have been, before the architect revised the plans. Architecture is a process that leads to a product. To the viewing public, there is only the product. But to the architect, it is all about the process, and once the process is complete, the architect moves on.

One of the things I enjoy most about teaching drawing to young architects is that the process of creating architecture is fundamentally based on drawing. It's what we do. Novelists write, painters paint, architects draw.

Drawing is the primary means by which we communicate our ideas. When the students pin up their final designs for critique at the end of the semester, I think it's important to point out the examples of students who have design concepts that are beyond their ability to depict via their drawings. This gives me the opportunity to give one of my favorite mini-lectures: That your ideas are only as good as your ability to communicate them. It doesn't matter, in the end, how brilliant your ideas are, or how brilliant you think they are. If you can't communicate them with the world in an intelligible way, you fail. 

We also draw to study the world around us. This type of investigative drawing is similar to, but distinct from, design drawing. There is an exhibition running through July 1 at Lori Brookstein Fine Art, in New York, of some drawings by the great architect Lou Kahn.  The drawings on exhibit are sketches from his travels, of the 'investigative' type.  They strike me as being much more about the process of investigation and discovery, than about having anything to do with making a picture to be framed and hung on a gallery wall. The gallery has the exhibit available online; I encourage you to click through the link and check it out. Better yet, go see it for yourself if you can.

I think if more people saw drawing as a process of investigation and discovery, and less about trying to make a particularly nice looking picture (and by whose standard, anyway?) you would see more people out and about with their sketch pads and pencils in hand.  Drawing is a language of communication -- whether you are projecting your own fantasies to show others, or privately exploring the world around you. Each of us has a unique, individual voice, which can only be discovered by taking pencil or pen in hand and doing the work.

Imagine how the world opens up to an adult who is illiterate and then learns to read and write. I would argue that there is a similar expansion of one's life available to the person who is willing to make the effort to discover his own visual voice, and learn to use it to express himself.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer of Bikes, 2011

Among the things I'm most excited about right now is my Summer Bike Project.

Years ago, I built a bike, when I was in architecture school.  It was for a summer object making class, and it was the first time I made anything substantive out of steel.  They picked my bike for the postcard advertising the exhibition. (I hasten to point out whenever I show it that I did not design the postcard itself, just the bike.)

Here are some closeup details.  I was especially happy with how the chain-drive steering turned out.

The steering wheel:

The seat itself came from a kid's trike:

We did a lot of scavenging that summer.  Most of the bearings and other components were cut off of junk bikes we found or bought cheap from thrift stores.

For my bike(s) this summer, I have found some good resources online for bearings and other components, and I don't plan on doing any bike-part-scavenging.  The website I'm looking at the most, as I work through my designs, is  They seem to have just about everything in the way of bike parts, and lots of helpful diagrams.  I'll also hit up some local bike shops once I'm closer to starting, and see what they have in stock for components.  It's always good to have relationships with helpful local experts when you have technical questions about a project.  Also, returning/exchanging parts that don't turn out to be quite the right thing is waaaay easier when you're dealing locally.

The new designs I'm working on have a pretty clear relationship to my original bike: I'm keeping the smaller rear wheel and chain-drive steering concepts for now (although for one of the bikes I'm sketching, I'm attempting to simplify things by using conventional steering.)  Things are still developing, but I should have some pics to show in the next few days.

Also, I'm in talks with a couple of friends in an attempt to persuade them to make bikes along with me, and then put together some kind of exhibition at the end of the summer.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday Night OList Happy Hour: Projects, Planning, and Productiveness

It's been a while since I've blogged about an OList Happy Hour topic.

Being in a big planning push this week to get a start on my summer projects, it got me wondering what the other OList folk have planned, project-wise, for their summers.

This line of thinking then had me wondering what others were doing to plan out and organize their work.  At the moment, I'm in the process of charting out the coming months, setting milestones, and conducting research. I'm determined to get as much as I can out of the long days and nice weather.

What projects are you planning for the coming months?  Can you think of actions you could take to give your productiveness a boost?  Join us for Happy Hour tonight and let's discuss!

Happy Hour Mechanics:

Happy Hour takes place in the OList Chatroom, every Tuesday night, from 9-10 p.m. Eastern and 6-7 p.m. Pacific.

Point your browser to  You will be asked for a login and password - check your OList email for these.

You will see the chat window that looks like this:

On the right is the list of users participating; on the left is the chat itself.  At the bottom, you have the option of logging in through your facebook account, or as a guest.  If you log in through facebook, it will pull your profile picture into the list next to your name, which is a nice feature.

For general information on the OLists Socials, check out the OList Events page here.

Your hosts for the OList Socials are @DianaHsieh@laforgetm (aka William Green) and myself, @Earl3d

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Welding Projects

This week is our finals week at school, which means Summer is finally upon me!  I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time in the shop this summer, and have been excitedly prioritizing my welding projects.

The list* looks something like this, thus far:

1. Finish the glider I started last summer.  It was well underway when the Tennessee House completely took over my life for pretty much the rest of the year.

2. Handrail for my cousin Ed's stairs.  He asked me to put something together for him a while ago.  This will be relatively simple and quick once I have my shop back up and running.

3. Rack for my dumbbell set.  Another easy, utilitarian project.  It's good to have a few simple things to work on in between, and along with, the complicated ones.

4. New bicycle.  Yes!   A new bike for summer.  I'm already sketching and researching parts for this, and getting very very excited about it.  Watch for a whole post on this topic.

5. Experiment with making metal bowls on my lathe.  If this sounds complicated and weird, well...  I saw a video online ages ago where someone had put a metal plate on their lathe and was using their welder to build up metal bowls.  Think of a potter with a wheel, only instead of starting with a lump of clay, you start with a flat metal plate and build up the thickness as it spins.  This will be extremely experimental, and I'm not sure how it will go.  I've been wanting to try it for a long time.

In addition to these, I have one special commission already in the works, and am talking to a potential new client this Friday about some welding she needs done.

It's going to be a busy, fun summer!

*Subject to change, of course!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Strange Architectural Dream #541

Last night I dreamt I was touring around in, and investigating, a small Gothic cathedral.  In the dream, I was disappointed to discover, upon careful examination from all angles, that it was not Notre Dame de Paris.

The cathedral portion of the dream was depicted entirely in sepia tones.

Also, there were hot tubs and bad guys involved at some point.

That's all I can remember.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright on What's My Line

As we continue our celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright's birthday:  Here is a clip of Wright that I found on YouTube.  Wright appeared on the game show What's My Line on June 3, 1956.

It's a little long but very fun to watch.  I love how he signs his name on the chalkboard at the beginning.


Happy Birthday Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright was born today in 1867.

Wright's design philosophy was heavily influenced by his association with Louis Sullivan, as well as the writings of the French architect Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.  These two originated the idea that architecture must be grounded in, and exemplary of, the highest and best aspects of the technology and culture out of which it arises.  

Viollet-le-Duc came first; Sullivan further developed his ideas, originating the well-known formulation, "Form Follows Function".  Without their fundamental guiding principles, Wright might have been a talented designer, but would not likely have reached the heights he did in his career.  I describe the philosophical link shared by these three giants in the talk I gave recently at ATLOSCON, and which I will give again at the Chicago Objectivist Society's conference this coming Labor Day weekend.

As a celebration of his fabulous contribution to my very Top Value, I offer a few snaps of my visit to one of his greatest achievements, Fallingwater.  The house was completed in the late 1930s, while Wright was in his late 60s.  When most people would be at retirement age, Wright was in his prime.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Night Blooming Cactopodes!

I'm quite pleased about the fact that just earlier today I was writing about last year's spectacular crocosmia bloom; and then, this evening, I went outside and saw the first blossoms of the summer on one of my giant night-blooming cactopodes in the front yard!


Each blossom opens at dusk, blooms for only one night, and then withers as the sun rises.  They generally produce enough blossoms to go night by night for most of the summer, well into late August.  When properly pollinated, they produce bright red fruit, somewhere in size between a golf and a tennis ball.

Witness: fruit from a previous year.

As I stood there admiring the cool evening ambiance and lovely scenery of my garden, my neighbor Mercedes appeared at her front gate and we chatted.  Well, we sort of chatted.  Our conversations are generally along the lines of making benevolent statements to one another and smiling a lot.  Her English is about equivalent to my Spanish.  She is the matriarch of their household, which includes everything from a relatively small, cute baby (her granddaughter), to a handsome Marine (her son) who is now attending the Police Academy.  On more than one occasion, she has shown up at my doorstep, smiling, with a plate full of carne asada or chile rellenos for me. 

I picked a flower and gave it to her, and then there was one left.

Crocosmia Part I

Last year the crocosmia in my front yard bloomed and bloomed and bloomed.  They were gorgeous.  This year we had a lot of rain, which beat them down, and they just didn't look as good.

Fortunately, however, last year I got great pictures.  Somehow they never made it onto the blog.  Today we'll look at some of those.  I'm planning to follow up with a couple more posts on crocosmia, because they're my favorite flower, and I like to talk (and write) about things that merit that distinction.

So, without further ado, here's a quick tour around my little front yard.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Amusing UK Signage Graphics Part III: Danger!

Today we close our series of Amusing UK Signage Graphics with Part III: Danger!  All of these were taken by me during my trip to the UK in the Fall of 2009.

There's something oddly specific to me about this. 

This reminds me a bit of the ones we have on jetways
that warn you of the tripping hazard.
The image of the guy tripping and flying through the air
always makes me chuckle.  Of course,
I probably won't be laughing when it's me
that falls on his ass, but still.
(Actually I might laugh at myself in such a circumstance.)

Danger of Death! 

Enter these premises and God himself may very well strike you down!
Consider yourself warned. 
This one was my favorite. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Pantheon, Rome

Another great building that I could write a whole extensive field trip post about, and may yet do someday, is The Pantheon in Rome.  It has such a rich history, and is one of my favorite buildings.

For today, I'm just posting a single, composite picture of the interior of the Pantheon.  I took this on my last trip to Italy, in 2004.

Click to embiggen, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Amusing UK Signage Graphics Part II: Fashions

Today I present Part II of my series of Amusing UK Signage Graphics, from my trip to the UK in late 2009. Our topic for today is Fashion. Sort of.

Part II has fewer pictures but I'm fond of them nonetheless.

Bowler Hats Required Here!

Don't forget your fashionable footwear.

OK, so it's really a safety helmet. 
But what a smart looking helmet it is!

That's it for today's installment.  Part III is a little longer, and includes my favorite one out of the whole series.  

Look for it on Friday!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Amusing UK Signage Graphics Part I: Moving About

A couple of years ago, whilst in the UK, I encountered a number of don't-go-here, stop-or-you'll-get-hurt, type of signs that I found particularly charming.  The style of these graphics is amusing to me simply because they just somehow seem so, well, polite compared to their US counterparts.  In other cases, they seem to just have a sense of style that indicates someone, somewhere, put that little extra effort into making them look just so.

I just now realized I have too many of them to blow on one blog post, so this will be the first of 3 in a series.  Here we go!

I love how she holds his hand. 

You may encounter flamboyant personages
as they sashay about the vicinity.

Take your flamboyant personage elsewhere
if you intend to sashay about.
(Notice how the pose of the figure is
identical, save for the arm.)


One could almost read this as "No Stopping!"

Do you notice this sort of thing when you travel, or is it just me?