Wednesday, July 22, 2009

second thoughts

In a burst of creative thought over the last few days I scoured the pages of my architectural books and magazines (in several languages) as well as the Internet looking for anything that would help me put together a second generation house for my family, as that possibility has been simmering in the back of my mind since returning from our last vacation recently. It started with a trestle-frame addition to stick-frame building, progressed to a long building with a floorplan reminiscent of a mobile home or ATCO structure, and later incorporated a "ryokan" and numerous storage and space saving ideas. At this point it seemed over engineered and I rejected it all, asking myself "Did I lose sight of what's important?" (Double meaning fully implied, as I had been neglecting other responsibilities in pursuit of an ideal house design.) I took the contrary position, feeling that a trestle-frame, like a geodesic dome, should not be a house, as its form is not plastic enough and too rigid. I looked at the other-beauty of rammed earth. Then I reviewed photographs of real trestle-frame buildings, and loved this one of a barn. In America, there was a vogue about a decade ago of restoring old American timber frame barns and converting the interiors into houses. The cathedral ceilings and exposed ancient timbers created a warm (insert adjective evoking fondness of aged things) ambiance that afficionados of the type loved. They didn't substantially change anything about the barn's dimensions. I can learn a lesson from this comparison, as I won't change the dimensions or proportions of this Norwegian barn. I will simply fit the modern American lifestyle within its timbers.

Update: I'd like to build alcove beds, as used in roykstova (traditional Faroese houses), into the sides of a trestle frame shed of about these dimensions.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Birthday: an existential occasion

As I recently passed the anniversary of my birth, I reflected on the current “state of my body”. I also thought about Stephen Covey and existentialism, because of that chapter title of his, “begin with the end in mind”. I want to take better care of my body, beginning with eating and sleeping. Eating staples like grains, legumes, tubers, and healthy food combinations. (Recently I had a great meal, baked salmon marinated in soy sauce and rice wine, with an unusual coleslaw side composed of kohlrabi, radishes, carrots, napa cabbage, and cilantro, in a primarily vinegar dressing. I ate more of the slaw than the salmon! Delicioso!) In a period of two months I want to update my professional counseling certification, construct a log trestle frame building, and progress in my correspondence class. In a year I want to have some conversational Japanese skills, a four year degree from the university, and apply to teach English in Japan. Eventually I might like to build a house in Homer (or Hokkaido?), that incorporates Norwegian log trestle frame construction in at least one wing of the house, and live near the ocean teaching one language or the other in either country. Commuting to work and back by electric bike would be a bonus. And if I learn a second language, perhaps learning to play a musical instrument like the guitar wouldn't be too far a stretch. My life right now is great, but how much more could it still be? Right now, this is a partial vision of one end I have in mind, and the elusive elements of which it is composed that have yet to fall into position.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Brave New World

Probably the best way to get inside the head of another person is to expose yourself to the products of their self expression - stuff like literature, art, and music. This is very effective. Transhumanists might make the following prediction however, that what the Internet has been to personal computing, a computer brain interface allowing technologically enabled telepathy (group mind) would be to the human mind and individual perspective. Very interesting implications can be drawn from such a possibility, but I will stick with literature, art, and music for the time being when I want to see the world through another person's eyes.