Green Rascal Design

Danielle Laporte wants to know what you suck at. My first reaction is to say I suck at a whole lot of things. But if you asked my husband, he'd probably say I'm awesome at most things. He keeps telling me that, anyway.  But since I've been working on new goals and self-discovery lately, I guess this is a good question to ponder now.

I suck at dealing with technical problems that I don't understand. I've developed a good amount of patience for problems over the years, but when it comes to a new technical problem I get very frustrated. For example, getting this post to work on the tablet has taken me a really long ass time. And why am I writing on a tablet, you ask? I  got a computer virus recently, and am afraid to use my desktop. So now everything takes twice as long, but at least I'm not dealing with the virus and redoing my whole pc. 

I suck at disagreements. I don't like conflict at all. It pisses me off. I have never been able to deliver a comeback when faced with direct personal verbal abuse from others. 

I suck at setting a budget. My husband always wants to know how much money I'll need for the month, and I'm never able to tell him. It's tempting to say I suck with money, but I can really save when it's necessary. My problem is more with making money than saving it and using it wisely. 

I suck at group discussions. I'd much prefer one on one or two on one discussions. Especially when it comes to making decisions about a project or any course of action, I'd like to keep the players to a minimum. When it's a large group and there are those long pauses, I always assume that the discussion is over and we're all in agreement... but we're usually not. People don't appreciate my desire to keep the conversation going, evolving. which brings me to...

I suck at rehashing things. If we talk about something and come to a decision, I like to stick with it. I don't want to dwell on the same issue for hours when there are 5 more that still need to be addressed. And I lose my patience when something gets brought up again after a couple days. My husband can tell you I'm always saying, "we already discussed it!"

and now I'm having a technical problem, so I guess my time is up for the day.
I've been reading a lot of books on the psychology of influence in business lately, on the advice of the Startup Daily guy, Karl. I finished Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer really quickly. I loved it. There are a ton of really good stories in that book, which makes reading go fast even when you're reading it at bedtime. I found myself staying up way later than I should have because it was that good. I started thinking about what ELSE we can do here, or what can architecture inform in the business world.

Now I am reading Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Robert B. Cialdini and others. The chapters are really really short, so it's easy to digest in small bites. Although, there are 50 of them. I never thought about things such as the WAY we're asked to reuse towels at a hotel before. Of course I always prefer to reuse my towels, but apparently there is a trick to getting more compliance from guests.

At the same time, I have been working with some new friends on a networking group idea: the 422 ARCH. I'm beginning to see this thing as a way to think about our service industry differently. For a while now, since seeing those TED talks about tribes, I've had this nagging idea that we're doing things all wrong and how can we help change that. So hopefully this Architecture, Real Estate and Construction happy hour group will be a success!

And related to that, I was at a Trustees Council for Penn Women event on Wednesday. It was not as big as the first one was, but I still met somebody really super interesting. I think it was the first time anybody has ever said to me that they love how architects think. She was really inspiring! This whole time I've been down in the dumps because it seems like the public doesn't know what we do or the value we can bring to everything. Then I meet this incredible woman who isn't an architect but knows what we do and how we see the world and believes these traits to be wonderful! How amazing! I must now go research all the interesting people she mentioned, and find out what Organizational Dynamics is and how I can meet more people in that field because it's rare to feel that good about this vocation these days.

So while I might be doing lots of other things that take me away from my beloved Rascal duties lately, this stuff is always on my mind. I believe we will change the practice of architecture sometime soon. We just have to figure out how!
I love Game. Set. Life. by Ed Tseng. It is a quick read, and makes me feel upbeat whenever I pick it up. Literally, whenever I just pick it up. lol. Anyway, Ed promotes working on your weaknesses a lot.

Back in the day somebody told me I'm not good at details. I then spent years in architecture school slaving over the details so much that I think I'm now a fairly detail-oriented person. If you ask my loved-ones they will probably tell you that I am unbearable when it comes to details in life and work.

That's not to say I like DRAWING details. My mentor has a hard time getting me to draw details for construction documents. They are a pain in the butt, and just not for me. Sure, I'm good at detail-y type stuff now because I practiced SO MUCH. But, in architecture, detail drawings just don't float my boat.

In this other book I read recently called Business DISCoverY, one author promotes the idea of never doing things you aren't good at. He says we shouldn't waste time on tasks that we aren't suited for in "Don't Try to Get a Cow to Fly."

I really identify with this advice because no matter how many detail drawings I have drawn, it just doesn't light me up like other things parts of the business.

So, which school of thought would you agree with? Can there be just one right answer? Is some compromise really the best thing, or just a diluted way of being? I'm really curious because in most cases I go for the compromise, but here it seems like doing either one half-way seems like a waste of time.

Well, whatever the case is, I'm glad I went to that one BNI happy hour in Malvern, and won that book - Business DISCoverY - as a door prize. Winning a door prize is always a good thing.
I have just finished the 2 latest issues of Metropolis Magazine by reading a little bit each night at bedtime. For April I started losing my patience with the way they break up stories. Many stories are cut off after the bulk of the text, and there ends up being about half a page of nearly each story at the back of the magazine. (ok maybe only half of the stories) Flipping back and forth in the dark while you're trying to fall asleep, with a clip on light in the way, is not the way I prefer to read my magazines. So I just gave up and moved on to the next story each time they cut one off. This works okay for me because I have a good memory for things I'm currently reading. Anywhoo, last night was the night I reached the ends of all these stories, and it was really strange running them all together in a way the editors weren't intending. I actually liked it quite a lot.

First there was the last page of "A Return To The Hand," about the resurgence of making physical objects, continued from page 102. Then there was half a page of "The Case for Looking Beyond Style," a case for New Urbanism, continued from page 79. Following closely was a third of a page of "The Kamikaze Mission," on deconstructivism, continued from page 84. Then there was slightly less than a page of "The Digital Playground Erupts," about blobism, continued from page 96. Next was half a page of "The Dream that Refused to Die," about prefab housing, continued from page 94 and half a page of "POMO Returns (or Maybe it Never Left)," a discussion of post modernism continued from page 73.

The effect of having all these ideas rapidly combined in a reading at bedtime, only made possible by my accursed memory, was like a surreal recent architectural history class packed into half an hour. It was also striking because of my personal exposure to some of these movements back in the day. Many young architects might also find this to be the case if they participate in this exercise.

The making of physical objects is something that we here are finding more and more desirable lately because of our wish to reduce our own carbon footprints, save money and live/work in a place that feels like our own. New Urbanism holds a dear place in my heart because at my first internship I was urged to read the monthly Congress for the New Urbanism's publication, and we worked on some developments that, while not necessarily "new urban," followed the New Urbanism's principles fairly closely. I always thought of it as a good movement despite some of its shortcomings. Alternatively, blobism is something that I found myself dealing with in graduate school. The first semester was ALL about the blob, and I was tossed into a sea of computer design programs and left to sink or swim, basically. This had the effect of strengthening my set of values with respect to the New Urbanism and struggling to defend myself against criticisms that were completely new to someone coming from the land of drawing by hand. And then the readings pushed me back again to when I was in undergrad designing in a pre-fab manner for projects involving the movement of palletized goods, the systemization and storage of books in libraries, and neighborhoods of immigrant housing.

I had a hard time sleeping last night.



When hubs and I went to the Grid Philadelphia magazine release party for their March issue (which contains my story on page 30), we met the subject of their cover story about Fracking in the Delaware River Basin, Iris Marie Bloom. Since then I have been receiving daily emails about the fight against unusual natural gas drilling practices. Here is part of today's email:
DRBC just granted a 30 day extension to their March 16th public comment deadline.  That's terribly short, considering the outrageous violations of environment and health going on.  But it's great to know we've had an influence:  New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Army Corps of Engineers ALL voted for the extension and only Pennsylvania voted against it.  The more progressive Commissioners proposed 45 days (thanks to your voices!) but New Jersey opposed that and cut it to 30 days.

A second New York Times article confronts industry denial head-on, confirms the shocking PA policy that allows gas drilling waste to be used as brine to tamp down dust on roads and de-ice roads; and as salt to de-ice roads.  That means it goes straight into streams, rivers, aquifers, estuaries, our drinking water.  This second NYT article confirms that toxic radioactive waste is classified as "residual" not "hazardous" due to a dangerous exemption.  And it shows the rampant disregard for public health which results from the revolving door between government and industry, especially in Pennsylvania.


ACTION A = CALL GOVERNOR CORBETT!  His phone number is 717-787-2500.

When [Iris] called Weds. afternoon, his office said they were getting plenty of calls from "the other side." If you can speak for an organization, please do.  Please demand he vote to maintain the moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River watershed! Other demands: remove the exemption that allows hazardous gas drilling waste to be treated as "residual" waste; extend the moratorium statewide; stop selling our state forests and parks. Be kind to whoever answers the phone, but don't mince words either.

ACTION B = CALL / WRITE PRESIDENT OBAMA:   His number is (202) 546-1111.

ACTION C = Don't feel like talking to any government officials right now?  Fine, just hit this link from Clean Water Action:  

In a few seconds you can write your U.S. Rep. and Senator to DEFEND the Environmental Protection Agency against right-wing attacks at this crucial time.  We need the EPA fully funded and strong.  They are just beginning to step up to regulate the gas industry a bit more aggressively and their ability to curb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions must be expanded, not curtailed.  E-actions like this are something Clean Water Action is great at, so please do it, thanks!


Thank you for sharing. I send out emails about this stuff, but that gets old for the recipients, and I feel weird about it. I've already commented on the document several times and written to my senators, etc. Anyway, pass on the word. If you drink water or eat food grown in the Delaware Valley area, your health depends on it.



No, not computer code... I'm in the midst of reading volume 1 of the International Building Code (and commentary). It's super awesome. And by awesome I mean boring. It effectively puts me to sleep every night after only 2 or 3 pages.

I am on section 414.2.4 out of 3412.9.1 (I believe) sections. At this point I think I'll stop reading every word and just start skimming or something. Yes, I admit to giving up! This is very unusual for me - giving up. But if you had to lug the IBC around, you'd come to the same conclusion and probably sooner than I have.

The benefit of lugging the code around, though, is that everyone who sees it becomes curious about it because of its noticeable size. So I guess if I were out for attention that would work nicely. And the IBC does have something else going for it. The cover is an eye-catching purple!

This takes up all my reading time, which is why I have not posted any readings in several months. Commenting on the code and commentary seemed a bit redundant. But if any of my non-architecty friends would like to quiz me on building use and occupancy and special detailed requirements of those uses and occupancies, please be my guest!

I am soooooooo looking forward to the much slimmer International Mechanical Code, International Plumbing Code and the National Electrical Code. Woo!
We are up to 2 hens laying eggs now. Sugar never stopped laying over the winter, but the other three have had a long break. Then, for an early Valentine's Day present on Saturday, I received a nice little green egg from Cinnamon. Now she is up to laying every other day! Hopefully Pepper will lay an egg soon. She stopped before all the others, and lately has been extra needy so I think the chances are good.

It's really nice to have the fluffs want attention again. When there was snow on the ground they were crabby and didn't want anything to do with us. Now it seems like all they want to do is get picked up and held. Hopefully I can get a picture sometime because it's pretty funny looking when I have 4 chickens all trying to take a nap on my lap.

I took half of the plastic down from their cage because it was falling off in the wind anyway. It's nice to be able to see the other side of the yard now!

Oh, and this is big news for me: I have a short article about our first year and a half of chicken-keeping published in the March issue of Grid magazine! It is under Dispatch, on page 30. I'm really excited about it! The article is titled "Living With the Birds," and they created a cute piece of clip art to go with it.

We even got to go to the release party the magazine had last week. (Which reminds me that I could write about the food at the restaurant we were at because it was awesome.) It was crowded there, so we didn't really meet a lot of people. But we did get to talk to one lovely young lady from a restaurant which I have yet to try. (Which also reminds me to get in touch with her about applying to PennDesign's landscape program) And we also talked to Iris Bloom, from the cover story about protecting our water from fracking. I have yet to read the whole magazine, but it's good to be this busy I guess.

Anyway, check out Grid Philly! It's a great read when it comes to living sustainably in the city. The March issue is available in print now, and will be on their website soon I think.

So many things to do! And little brown birdies are singing in the trees too. Yes, I think spring is creeping in. It's great! Gotta run. I think I hear the "I laid an egg" song. (sometime I'll try to get a video to post too!)



I recently met an activist named Iris Bloom. She is on the cover of the March issue of Grid Philadelphia, and she is "leading the charge against environmentally irresponsible drilling." (story by Jacob Lambert)

After talking to Iris for a minute, my hubby explained what he knew of the fracking thing to me. It's some scary stuff. I remember hearing about it on the news, but never really thought much of it until we met Iris. Then it dawned on me that my hubby drinks tons of tap water, and it would be bad if that water were to become so toxic that you could light it on fire.

So I got an email from Iris with a link to a link to a link where we could leave a comment for the committee who will be deciding our water's fate after March 16th. You see, there is a moratorium against fracking (drilling for natural gas) in the Delaware River Basin right now. They will soon vote on possibly lifting that ban. The Delaware Basin provides water to 15 million people in Philly, Trenton, and New York City and surrounding areas. There should be tons of angry people complaining about this.

Here is a link to the page where you can download the [extremely boring] document describing the issue and other things. That same page has a button you can click to leave a comment on it. The more people leave comments asking the committee to keep the moratorium on natural gas drilling, the better. If you live in the Delaware Valley, I hope you go tell them to protect your water.


busy busy


In case you've ever wondered what a molting chicken looks like, here is Nutmeg.
I attended the first Princeton LEEEP event last night. (I hope I got enough Es.) It was as good as the regular Princeton Regional Chamber business after business events. The only difference was that the average age of the attendees was a bit younger. And there was a lot of pop at the beverage table. Anyway, I got a copy of the schedule they put together for the year, and hopefully I'll have a chance to go to more of their events.

I did a small amount of graphic work this week, and continue to work on drawings for my mentor. I'm very glad that somebody is doing well at the moment!

Yet another Friday is upon me, and where did the time go? Oh yeah, shoveling. weeeee! And I've been reading code books a lot since the new year. Right now I'm engrossed in the International Building Code and Commentary, volume 1.

Oh, and I have a small amount of basil and mint growing on the windowsill in the kitchen, and we have mites all over them. So it's time to go spray neem oil all over and hope for the best. mmm tasty.

That's my super linky post for the week. Have a good weekend.

random sharing


This blog article about Potential Futures for Design Practice has been sitting open in my firefox since yesterday... BLDG BLOG featured it some days ago, and while I was attempting to cull through my backlog of reading something about it piqued my interest. This merits saving and sharing with students at some point, and I figured I'd also post a link here for anybody like myself, who has been living under a rock during the holidays. Enjoy.