QotD: It’s Like Riding A Bike

Who taught you how to ride a bike?

It's less a matter of learning and more a matter of when I first got the hang of it. My parents both taught me in the usual way. My red-white-and-blue bike, bought when I was 4, came from Sears. It ran out of oil and sounded like a complaining cello, making the thing harder to ride than anything in a hefty spinning class.

The day I finally could do it without training wheels, though, must have been Easter when I was 5 (that would've been 1977). I only know this because the Wizard of Oz was on TV, which they played annually on Easter. After watching it, one of my parents (I forget who) ran alongside me and then let go. Off I went. I recall even riding around my St. Paul block.

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QotD: Counting Sheep

What do you do to ensure you get a good night's sleep?
Submitted by Jacob’s Ladder.

Curl up with Enrique.

Wear one of the eyeshades that I got from the few Virgin Atlantic flights I took in 2000 for work where I flew Upper Class. When light begins to come through the windows, cover my eyes.

Use earplugs if somewhere loud or unfamiliar.

Take an Ativan before bed.

If none of that works, getting up and reading the dullest books I can imagine (Vest Pocket CEO did the trick in the past) puts me back to sleep.

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QotD: Beam Me Up

If you could make a magic wish for a futuristic gadget or high-tech innovation, what would your item do? 
Submitted by Red Pen.

Ironic that this question came the day of my Smart Materials class, taught by the terrific Michelle Addington— I even mentioned the Vox QOTD there. We were asked to bring to class examples of the following in an immersion exercise:

1. an example of a smart material or product used in a ubiquitous “architectural” setting

2. an example that illustrates your own image of an” intelligent” environment

3. a material or product that intrigues or delights you regardless of its application

Very cool to see what people brought in… for me, my #1 was Cedric Price's Generator, the subject of my thesis, and Not So White Walls by Interaction-Ivrea student Dario Buzzini. I didn't need to bring that one up, though, because the professor did! Very cool to see work I know so well in a totally different context.

For the ideal intelligent environment, I brought in a picture of the Sensorama to indicate what I don't think is intelligent — it's not an environment you peer into and experience, but rather should be all around you. I likened it to a really good kitchen. Maybe it doesn't look different at all; it just feels better. Like cashmere. Only not on your pots and pans.

Speaking of which, for #3, I brought in a ball of yarn that my stepsister Darci gave me (and I haven't fully knit up). It's fuzzy and forest green, immensely soft. It's the wonder of acrylic, not the stuff from the 60s and 70s, but a whole industry of fantastic acrylic available now. I also tossed out a hat I made not of acrylic but of cashmerino (it is what it sounds like): an intense Turkish pattern in light blue and chocolate brown with three corners. I'd love to find ways to knit or weave smart materials into something more than just a surface application. And I'm very keen to see Sheila Kennedy's textile pieces that do this.

I'm very excited about this class. Since my thesis is about responsiveness in architecture at an earlier moment in time, I'm keen for current examples. Moreover, one of my goals in keeping a foot in interaction design and another in architecture is to bridge fields in a personal manner, to work in both fields. This will be a way to do so.


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QotD: Call The Fashion Police

You must have been a fashion victim at least once in your life. What hideous blunder did you commit? 
Submitted by Tina

I'm sure I've been a part of many — the 3 1/2 inch high flattop in high school, the knickers (no, not panties: knee-high pants) from fourth grade. But the most recent one was when I was working at home. It gets drafty in this loft apartment. I put on my favorite multicolored stripy tights I got with Maggie in Munich a few years back, a denim skirt and a bright, multicolored Oililly sweater.

Enrique came home, took one look at me and burst out laughing. I tried to argue that the same orange, green and purple in the tights was also in the sweater. He said I looked ridiculous. At least I didn't make it out of the house.

These days, my biggest fashion blunder is that my clothes don't fit. Thank you, grad school, for giving me what I used to call consulting ass. Except when I had consulting ass, I could afford to buy more clothes! Grad students can't. I look forward to fitting into my jeans again. I can't buy another pair and I don't think that I should wear those stripy tights and sweater to class…

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QotD: It Was Kismet

How did you meet your current, or most recent, significant other?

The day we met, May 1, 2005, right before I got on the plane

I'm certain I was in love with Enrique by about 2 p.m. the day we met, if not earlier.

Enrique and I met three months before we started at Yale. We're in the same program, same class: there are only five students in our class. The head of our program had told each of us that we had a lot in common. She introduced us via email and she wasn't kidding.

He was amazing: he's been a punk bassist, a maritime attorney, a Hollywood agent. He worked for Ben Stiller. He has an urban planning master's. He was living in LA and I was in San Francisco before we moved to New Haven.

We started emailing and every email anticipated what I was going to say. After about 10 days of this, I realized that my flight to Amsterdam was passing through LA. I asked if he wanted to meet up, he told me that he'd love to. On May 1, 2005, he picked me up from the airport and we spent a gorgeous, sunny Sunday together. We had brunch, we wandered Silverlake, we drove around listening to a mix CD he made me (with the amazing cover of "What A Fool Believes" played on toy instruments). At 5, he dropped me off at the airport. I kissed him twice on the cheek but we didn't otherwise kiss goodbye.

When I got to my seat on the plane, he called me. We both sputtered. "That was awesome!" 17 days (and copious emails, calls and instant messages) later, I passed back through LA and stayed with him. We were in different places from May till early August. It all worked out, though, when we got to New Haven. We'd agreed to not tell people but that didn't last long.

We live, work, and study together. He never gets boring. He's the best person I've ever met.

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QotD: What A Waste

What's something you bought, knowing it was a total waste of money?

My last car, a brand new silver 2001 VW GTI with a V6 engine. I didn't have a car at the time, but I didn't really need a new car either. I'd priced it out and had researched it for a few months, but then one afternoon, I decided to go buy it. It made me late for Marc Rettig's class (for which I was the TA) because it takes longer to do financing and paperwork. I sold the car in May 2003 because I wasn't living in the US and it didn't make sense to bring it to Italy. I haven't owned a car since, though I had a long-term lease in Italy and share a  by-no-means-new Ford with Enrique, I think it's a Taurus.

Sometimes I miss the GTI. It was so much fun to drive, so zippy, so responsive. But I've never liked car payments, strange as that might sound, and there is no need for a fancy car in New Haven. Plus, I really, really like my bicycle. It's my preferred mode of transportation. Ultimately, I don't miss having a car at all–just that car, sometimes.

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