Thursday, May 24, 2018

Brick, Mortar, and Blood

One Billion British Pounds Sterling.

That's what the new BBC Broadcasting building cost in 2011.



...and 2 years later?

.... over 500 jobs gone.

.... and 6 years later?

....  1000 more layoffs.

.... but..... we have a pretty new building. Why does Shelley spring to mind , I wonder?

I took a tour yesterday. A building addition is being planned and the cost will be $1,000,000.  When I asked if there would also be new security- of the human analog variety- to check ID and verify each person and parcel- the answer was "No." Adding another employee cost too much.

$1,000,000 for brick and mortar- no problem.
$50,000 for one job- nope.

Now I don't know how many of you have been in buildings without checkpoints- where only digital surveillance is used. I often wonder if anyone is watching the video feed.  I wonder how easy it is to cut the feed- or steal the feed. I wonder who is watching. I wonder where the blind spots are. I've seen demonstrations of facial recognition (think talking to Siri with a head cold) and demonstrations of mind-reading (scary as all hell). I think of all that and I'm swinging more and more to the view that , yep, AI will replace humans. We already value AI and tech more than "us".

We value what we build more than the people who build.

That isn't anything new. The Great Wall, the Pyramids, Borobudur, Angkor Watt...  there is a legacy which reaches beyond the builders in these... and yet... and yet... when I see handprints of Anasazi mud brick ... when I see the paint pots left on the floors of Pompeii ... when I see the snapline in an Egyptian Architect's tomb... when I can run my hand over ancient hewn wood and sense the strokes of the adze... those lives may have been nasty brutish and short but there is something of the builders left behind ... some breath... some sweat... some self.... It's why there is a weaver's path in a Navajo rug to let the life of the weaver escape on the path of the thread.



Isn't that really the source of our fascination? We don't fear the Great Ozymandias but we sense the hands which carved the stone and the minds which shaped the metal.


So why do we value the work
more than the worker?

The obvious answer is that the work doesn't talk back except with the voices in our own wee little minds.... which brings me back to AI. What happens when the building does talk back and we disagree?

Groasis Update 2018

Here's the Spring 2018 Groasis update:

Chokecherry planted in 2013-2014. As you can see there is a lot of difference between plants. Some are still small at about 3 inches still inside the waterboxx and others are growing past the wire cage.






I had to take two pictures of the "star" which is over 2' Choke Cherries are supposed to be a "fast grower" well... around here survival is considered "fast growth"
 







Yes that is a Black Widow Spider egg sac you see... 
the spiders really like living inside the opening for the plants. 




This is a little "shooter" growing out from the bottom of  waterboxx.




Here's the link to earlier posts:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

It ain't the skiing.... letter to the editor

"In Aspen you either have 3 jobs or 3 homes."

It’s not a skiing economy. It’s not an outdoor sports economy or an arts economy or a conference economy. It’s not about the skis, the bikes, the kayaks, the concerts or the think tanks.




Follow the money and you will find the answer.

It’s a real estate economy. (Follow "What's the Big Deal?")

Aspen real estate is an investment which is AAA with a phenomenal rate of return when flipped. The dividends are parties and networking.




Ask yourself what sustains the real estate economy ? Then ask yourself if that’s what you want.

Real Estate prices stay high as long as demand is higher than supply. There are other factors but that’s the economic foundation. All of our restrictions, our labyrinthian  permitting, our challenging terrain, our civic divisiveness, our remoteness,  - those all increase costs, increase the project timeline, and thus limit supply.


The same factors increase the divide between classes, the 3 jobs class vs the 3 homes class

The same factors decrease the amount of land for wilderness and wildlife- after all even an uninhabited monster home is an invasion displacing species of native plants and animals encouraging scavengers who are used to living off our trash and on our well watered lawns.

When did the real estate economy take off? In my opinion the rocket launch was  in the 70’s. Condos encouraging non-residential ownership combined with limited growth ordinances, and  height restrictions all combined to squeeze the supply. 



Square footage prices alone are not what has made Aspen what it is today. Add to this Affordable Housing which helped keep wages artificially low (The entry level wages I received in the 70’s would translate into $55 per hour today.) and the J1 visa (multilingual *and* cheaper be still my beating heart).


Viola!  Ever increasing real estate prices and stagnant low wages. … and you wonder why the 1% of the 1% wants a slice of Aspen? It ain’t skiing.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

just another day in America- letter to the editor


Can it surprise anyone that when the president says he could stand in the middle of 5th avenue and shoot someone and still get elected that the mass shootings are considered “inevitable”? I certainly agree that both cases are mental health issues but I don’t see any forward motion on mental health care in either case.

Leaving government, politicians and the NRA out of it what can we as individuals do to make this type of mass murder less of the fabric of America?  Can we leave this part of our culture behind? Those of us who have spent time in more volatile environments might be able to flex our survival strategies. I don’t mean “duck and cover” I mean a very un-American thing. Pay attention. It really is that simple. Pay attention to the abandoned backpack. Pay attention to the long heavy coat on a summer’s day. Pay attention to the demeanor of the people around you. Don’t be afraid to talk to our local law enforcement officers- they are imminently approachable. We are a service industry town and basic training in recognizing and evaluating threats should be part of every service worker’s orientation.





Or- we could take the same attitude we do with deer and buffalo and celebrate each thinning of the herd as necessary culling to insure the health of our manifest destiny. We haven’t had a good old fashioned genocide since the Indian Wars.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

TACAW 5000 sq ft of plaster in 5 days

There are very few Scenic jobs in my little corner of Colorado but sometimes things come full circle.

Dick Carter is a fabulous artist, art director and (may I be so bold to say) friend. He's a long time denizen of the Roaring Fork Valley who does what a lot of us do- call this home and hop to LA or NYC to keep that career thing breathing.

I got a call from him in April about TACAW. "The Arts Campus at Willits" was opening a space called "The Temporary" as a transitional performance space while the Arts Campus is under... well... let's call it governmental "review".  The bottom line being- for pities sake lets just get something up, running and on the boards.


Dick wanted to take the retail rental space and turn it into a place with some history. You know- where you'd go to imbibe some Fringe theatre- listen to some jazz or a Mozart string quartet. Transform the hot tub showroom into a place with soul. He gave me photos of distressed plaster walls



and chandeliers hanging in empty rooms. 



I immediately got a stupid grin on my face and said "Ushuaia!" My trip to Argentina just found a place to land and there is nothing which says old plaster wall like the walls in Ushuaia.




Thank you Joyce Kubalak for developing the fantastic rust technique we used on Man of La Mancha  - use gray instead of orange and go for it.


.... a few samples later.....






5000 square feet of distressed plaster wall in 5 days with 3 Scenics and a short list of supplies
Day 1. Mix the paint and set up the work space.


Day 2 first full day on site. The base color a deep base gloss has already been rolled on by the Paint Contractor (thank you Monty) which leaves Allan Trumpler, Pat Dailey and me to start laying on the first "plaster" breakup.  This is all about avoiding repeat patterns and playing matte against gloss. The initial layin is fairly quick it's the fine tuning which takes time.


Skip to Day 5: Really everything else is more of the same- warm up the "wainscot" lay in some water staining- drips- darker at the top - age spray at the bottom- add some vintage rust to all the new electrical conduit and the fuse box.