Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Prep

I went shopping at Wal Mart today to pick up food stuff and as we turned down a candy aisle, I saw, of all things, boxes of Milk Chocolate "Crosses".

At least the didn't have Jesus depicted so that you can bite the head off like you can with Easter bunnies!

Friday, March 26, 2010

3D Dragons

I needed a movie tonight and a good one. Of all the new ones available, the only movie that got universal good rating was "How to Train Your Dragon". Rotten Tomatoes rated it 96% out of 100! It is animated. It is 3D. It is Good. If you have kids available, take them. If not, go anyway.
Though it is animation there is an Avatar feeling to it. It has good story and good heart. Several well know actors are the voices, but the visuals and the story really bring in a story about a clan of Vikings who battle dragons dragons who harass their lives and village. I can easily recommend this film.

I give it ***1/2 stars out of 5

2010 movie #13

Things important: compared to what?

My daughter, Lindsey, had a due date for her first child of March 25. I started reserving that date and adjusting my schedule to keep the time open. Everyone kept telling me that since this was her first delivery, she would probably be a week late and that I should go on with a normal schedule. So on the 24th I had a full schedule and then we got the call. After my last meeting was over we headed to Fort Worth and we got to the hospital at 11:00pm. At 12:45 bingo! The next morning I made several phone calls and got to spend some great time with Lindsey, Jeremy and my first Grand Daughter, Kinley Grace. Super Cool.

At that moment where we were was the most important place on earth. It has been like that with all the grand kids.

When I was about Forty, the idea of being called a Grandpa made me shutter. That sounded OLD. Now, of all the titles, someone could give me, "PaPa" sounds mighty good.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care and Civil Rights

I have followed the Health Care debate from the time Obama mentioned it during his campaign to the vote last night. First, I was shocked that everyone got mad for doing what he said he would do all along when the majority elected him. And Now, Wow.

Today on my FACEBOOK I have heard: Socialist State, End of the world as we knew it, I'm moving to Australia, etc.

I am reminded of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. LBJ pushed it through after JFK was shot. If FACEBOOK had been around the same statements would have been heard. Oklahoma and the South was ALL DEMOCRAT ALL THE TIME until it was passed and almost over night Oklahoma elected its first Republican Governor, ever. Now all the South and Oklahoma is REPUBLICAN and are against any further inference by big government unless its war. that is good for the economy!

The funny thing is the Civil Rights act was a process that took along time to sort out. I'm sure the same will happen with the Health Care bill.

Shortly after Civil Rights came the Vietnam War which all conservatives supported with the motto: Love or Leave it.

I guess that's what the person going to Australia decided.

Anticipation, the little brother of Hope


Its the thing that keeps people gambling. Its that time between buying that lottery ticket and seeing the results!

It is filling out the brackets in "March Madness" and waiting on our luck.

Its watching the Health Care vote (whether your for it or against it) knowing ahead of time the result, but anticipating............what?

We never loose during anticipation. Many times we don't expect to win any how. It is that little day dream of "What if?"

It is safer than Hope because we don't have as much invested except our time. But- I thought our time was most valuable!

Samuel Johnson once said, "Such is the state of life that none are happy but by anticipation of change: The change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again."

A friend of mine told me today that all is lost because of the Health Care vote.

I tend to agree with Alfred Hitchcock: "There is no terror in the Bang, only in the anticipation of it."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Visiting past projects

Most of us architects can visit the projects that we have created. Most school, church and public projects are easily accessed. When you create a very, very private complex, things are way different. At the beginning of the 90's I was Project Manager for Laureate Hospital in Tulsa. This Center deals with eating disorders, mental illness, and other problems that reach us all. I spent three years of my career on this project. During construction the owner required that I start each day at the project site with a tour of the buildings and meetings with the owner and contractor. By 1980 standards this was a $50,000,000 project. Today it would top $100,000,000!

The owner demanded the best and was willing to pay. Just before the building opened, several of us volunteered to help train the staff by staying in the facility overnight and role playing.

My experiences in this 8 building complex were comparable to getting a doctorate in construction. I have had confidence in every project since. Anything is easy after Laureate.

Today, I got to visit this highly secure place again while visiting a family member. It was a rush. The complex looks as good as day 1. It is a little like visiting an old friend after years apart.
We went to see family and I got to see part of my architectural family at the same time.

The visit made me recall several stories that I will share in coming days.

Ghost Writer

Today, we saw the best new movie so far this year. "Ghost Writer" is the new movie by Roman Polanksi about an ex-British Prime Minister who is writing his Memoirs with the help of a ghost writer. Seems the first writer hired suddenly died, so the new guy (Ewan McGregor) is brought in to help the ex-P.M. (Pierce Brosnan) write the book. The Prime Minister is staying in the U.S. to keep from being brought to trial by the World Court in Europe. Note: The director knows a little about hiding in a country! This is a movie about the world today with a little "Manchurian Candidate" thrown in.
This is a well written, well directed and well acted movie. Supporting Cast includes Tom Wilkinson, Kim Cantral, Timothy Hutton and a bald-headed Jim Belushi.

I give it ***1/2 stars.

2010 movie #12

Cabin Fever on the first day of Spring

Its the first day of Spring and it has been snowing all day. We went out and bought food, came home and built a fire, and put on some great music. Ah, time to watch the day unfold.

That lasted about two hours. We took off for Tulsa where Carol visited her sister in the hospital, we saw a movie and then went to the Car Show. So much for Cabin Fever!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bounty Hunter

I needed escape from the week and went to an early movie to see "Bounty Hunter". Fun movie, not very deep, but I didn't want deep.

I give it **stars.

2010 movie #12

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Media Interviews

Believe it or not, I have been interviewed many times by newspapers, TV news & sports, and radio. All the interviews were about projects that I designed or managed. Some have been great like an almost full page story in the Tulsa World about OSU's Gallagher-Iba Arena. Some have been bad like an argument with the County Clerk on the front page of the Newspaper that went for several days. I have been attacked by the newspaper and I have been praised by the paper (The same paper). And when attacked I have caused the paper in retract their story.

This week was my time in the "box again". I was interviewed by the newspaper about the design of the "Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame". The interview took 1-1/2 hours and they used about 10 minutes of it. Then yesterday, a Tulsa TV station came down and interviewed me on camera for what seemed liked 10 minutes and they used about 20 seconds. This, I have learned, is standard. Get a lot and use what makes the story.

I have also learned that you are always on. Don't think that just because they stop the formal interview, they haven't stopped the interview. Channel 2 in Tulsa came to my office for an interview about the OSU project that I mentioned. They had the camera going while I showed the drawings and talked about the project and then the guy laid down his microphone and started small talk. We talked and talked. That night on the 10 0'clock news the clip ran as expected and then the sportscaster says, "and the architect also promised to keep the fans involved" and broke to a clip of me saying that "we wanted the fans close enough to the court that they could pull the hair on the player's legs as they ran by." (small talk) The mic is always on! Sound bytes!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In the Zone, The Green Zone

I went to see the "Green Zone" tonight. It is Matt Damon's new movie by the director that does the Bourne Movies. The action is much like Bourne: fast paced and with hand held cameras. Of course the subject matter is a little bit unsettling because Matt plays an Army Warrant Officer sent to Iraq just after "Shock and Awe" to find and secure the WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction). But he can't find any and smells a rat.

OK, lets stop right there. If you are fans of people named Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld you are not interested in this movie at all. I shouldn't give this away but Matt didn't find any WMD.

If you like Bourne Movies and voted for Obama, you'll like this. If you voted for McCain, remember its just FICTION.

I give it **1/2 stars. Good popcorn movie.

2010 Movie #11

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Warning Tom and Jerry ahead

Recently the grandsons were at the house and we decided to go to Wally World and buy a movie. We searched in vain for new editions of "Clone Wars" and the boys settled a "Tom and Jerry" DVD. (The same cartoons that I watched at their age "before the feature at the movies".) I put it in the player and the first thing to appear on the screen is this warning:

"The cartoons that you are about to see are products of their time. They contain ethnic and racial prejudices that were common in American society. The depictions were wrong then. They are wrong now. They do not represent Warner Brothers view of today's society. These are shown in their original form. To do otherwise would deny that prejudice existed."

I may be crazy but that statement says to me: "We don't like this stuff, but hey you bought it and this is what you get warts and all. Don't blame us!"

Maybe they could have renamed it: "Uncle Tom and Jerry Springer"

Monday, March 8, 2010

There must be Bozos on this Bus

I went to a public hearing tonight for one of our projects to get "citizen" input. I had to be there at 5:00pm so that interested parties could ask questions of me and to see how the project might affect them. The Hearing with the Council started at 6:00pm. One one came the first hour, but they made up for it at 6!

I had previously told the council that Federal requirements was requiring us to reconsider the amount of work that the budget would allow. Well, well, It seems that one part of the "pubic" thought that I was just trying to get out of work. I responded that I will do anything the City asks, but I also have a responsibility to meet the budget. The next "Public" stated that I was just a negative person and if I had a better attitude then we could get this done. Then she lashed out at the council for a problem she had three years ago and that she had to battle the city and throw a "cuss fit" (her words) to get her way. (I guess that is a positive attitude!) By the way she told her story twice and it NEVER made sense. Here is a quick recap: She is promised a building permit on Friday to cover a project to fix her store's bad roof. She shows up Friday and the permit was not ready. It rained Saturday and the roof leak ruined her computers. If she had received the permit on Friday, there would be no damage. (instant construction I guess)

Well they stopped picking on me and turned there attention elsewhere. Mr. 'You are Lazy' went after the mayor and one council-person accusing them with lying, being stupid, and being against their city. He also recounted several projects where they did not follow his advice, etc. etc. After an hour and 45 minutes of this constructive input, I realized that the public was getting exactly what they came for: "a pound of flesh".

You know, if I wanted my input to be heard and implemented, I don't think I would begin by belittling a town council in Public!

But what do I know? I'm just a negative slacker!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Keeping up with the Nora Joneses

We went to see Nora Jones in concert last time. She is one of the finest vocalist in the world. The band was a tight group who played to perfection and her back-up singer was superb. It was a great night except for the neighbors.

Let me paint the scene. There was one couple between us and the aisle form McAlester. They like their beer! In front of us was another couple who not only like their beer but they liked to talk LOUD. There were two ladies between them and the aisle. LARGE ladies! So the beer couples needed to go out a lot (for more beer and more bathrooms) The couple in front kept talking until one of the ladies said, "This is a concert. SHUT UP!" That worked. Later the guy from McAlester leaned over to me and asked, "Hey, where is a good place to eat in Muskogee?" I gave him a suggestion. He started to ask another question and I gave him another suggestion and he shut up. The couple in front got up to leave again, but when they returned the ladies told them that they would have to wait until after the song was finished. They returned with the usher who tried to get them to get up but was told to wait until the song was finished. (Long song) The usher went after security, but by the time he guard arrived the song was over and the couple was allowed to sit. The security guy realized that they were bigger than him and left. The couple did not move again!

I continue to be amazed at the money people will spend to come to a great concert and not even pay attention or act different than they would in their living room!

FYI: Nora sings a great and humorous song about her dog. It is called, "Man of the Hour."

Brooklyn's Not So Finest

I thought I wanted to see a good cop movie tonight, so I went to see "Brooklyn's Finest" since it starred Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Wesley Snipes. They are great as actors, but my problem was that there was no redeeming value in this version of Brooklyn. Only Don Cheadle's character was a little noble. The rest, whether Police or Bad Guy, where worthless or so damaged that you can not care about their fate. There is no hero in this movie. If you want 2 hours of tense life where you are just there to see the mess at the end, here's your movie. If you love the F word or the MF word, you're in heaven. This movie is drugs, death, sex in a filthy way.

I will admit that I should have walked out, but like a car wreck I stayed to watch.

After the movie I went to the restroom and over heard two black guys (dressed like gang bangers). One guy said, "That was too tactical, I think I need a love story or something!"

I give it *star because I survived it.

2010 Movie #10 (Don't even rent it.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

crazy love and object lessons

This week I have been reading a book , "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It is a book that talks about the real love that should exist between God and me. It is a hard book and eye opening. To go along with the book, he has a web site (crazy love) that has a short video to watch before reading each chapter. It is a GREAT book.
Anyhow, last night I was reading chapter 4 about lukewarm Christians (Actually struggling to read is a better term). He discribes how we don't choose to open our eyes to the opportunities to reach out to others. I am saying to myself that I'm not made that way, that this is hard, etc. etc.
Every Friday morning my friend and minister, Nathan Irwin, and I have breakfast at a little diner called "Anna's" where they discuss the book of "Genesis" and anything else on our minds. We usually meet for about and hour and a half. Today, we finished and Nathan left for an appointment and I went to pay. On the way out a lady setting close to the door stops me and asks, "Where do you go to church?" I tell her and she says, "Two weeks ago I was in here and watched you and the other guy having a Bible study right out in the open with everyone around. I was blessed by just watching." Then she said, "I came back today because I wanted to watch you two study." She said again that it was a blessing. I invited her to our church and she just smiled.
Walking to my truck I just said, "Ok, LORD I got the message."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cartoon Fix

Afghanistan reading

I am in a week of driving to job sites and today was a two hour trip to South Coffeeville. As is my habit I am listening to a book on CD in my truck as I cruise. Currently I have Greg Mortenson's new book, "Stones into Schools" (promoting books, not bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan). His first book, "Three Cups of Tea" is in its 159th week on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Yes, it is that good. The new book picks up where the first book ends and tells the story of his work building schools for girls during the wars of this region. He was in Afghanistan when the events of 9-11 took place. This story continues to cast a spell over me, because most of us have no clue about countries that live in endless wars and have been dominated by groups like the Taliban that takes all freedom, joy, and basic human rights from women. I also read "the Kite Runner" and "Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. These are also excellent reads of fiction based the truth. Mr. Hosseini wrote the forward to "Stones to Schools" which incidentally is raw non-fiction.

So I'm riding around listening to this book and I get the idea to head to Bartlesville for the noon game of the Lone Star Basketball Tournament. Northeastern State Men's team was playing and I have followed them all season (My job site was only 20 miles away and the boss said ok!) Anyhow I settled in to the game and at half time took a stretch and started talking to the guys setting close. Now it gets interesting. One of the gentlemen is Col. James Whilhite, USA, Retired. He has just finished a new book titled, "We Answered the Call: Building the Crown Jewel of Afghanistan". How crazy is that?

He and I talked about his book and experiences. He and his NATO partners established a four year university in Afghanistan! He was working the higher education side while Greg Mortenson was building primary schools. He lectures at West Point and is just starting a book signing tour. I mentioned the book I was reading and he said that he was meeting with Greg in about three weeks.

My journey is indeed unusual. The chances of going to a ball game and meeting a player in the stories that I am reading. It is wild.

I will report on his book when I get it and the one I am reading when I finish. I can report though that NSU won today and so did I!