Photo of the Week 2

Photo of the week two and I’m late.  A couple of us went to Klyde Warren a few days ago and decided to shoot in black and white.  My newer Nikon has a monochrome setting, but apparently if you shoot in RAW, all that means is that the preview in the camera is black and white.  Anyway my photo of the week was of my shooting partner, as she was taking her own picture:

 Dallas BW 15.01.11-32-2

I got a handful of nice pictures from the day, so this has actually been good in getting the camera out.

Dallas BW 15.01.11-11Dallas BW 15.01.11-6Dallas BW 15.01.11-10Dallas BW 15.01.11-4Dallas BW 15.01.11-20Dallas BW 15.01.11-25Dallas BW 15.01.11-17Dallas BW 15.01.11-28Dallas BW 15.01.11-22Dallas BW 15.01.11-26

Photo of the Week – Week 1

So this year – call this a resolution or not – I’ve decided to take a photo of the week.  There are a few Facebook groups to do this, and I think I’ll pick one of them for prompts, but this week several of them didn’t have one… So I’ll start this year with the crazy holiday lights of Highland Park Village in Dallas.  I thought it might be a nice way to close out the season.

HPV 15.01.03-8

Update: after post processing a bunch of images over lunch I’ve already replaced this one with another.  Also I did go to Ft. Worth to actually chase a photo of the day, some of those images are posted on Flickr here.

Oh, its Christmas again?

I’ll have to check with The Pope, but I’m pretty sure Christmas falls on the same day every year. And yet, somehow it catches me by surprise.   I was vindicated a little by someone telling me that Thanksgiving was late; therefore the whole magical time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was cut off by an entire week, so that’s something, at least.

However, it seems like every year lately, I have that “oh crap, Christmas is next week” moment. This year I’m flying solo Christmas morning, due to a half planned trip that fell through and, well, a lot of work.

So I had plans. I was going to get a tree and rebuild my Christmas decoration stash, which was lost in a mixup with an ex girlfriend years ago. Oh, such plans they were, and that’s what they stayed. My tree situation, as of Christmas eve, was rather bleak:

This 2014 Christmas Tree is Brought to you by Artimide and a single Gensler Christmas ornament from 2001, supported by first edition Ayn Rand novels.  Take that symbolism to the shrink.

This 2014 Christmas Tree is Brought to you by Artimide and a Gensler Christmas ornament from 2001, supported by first edition Ayn Rand novels. I won’t try to guide you through that symbolism.

I’ll blame the mid December trip to London, but it’s still pretty weak – the tree would have rightly survived through not even a week of being gone. There’s all of the work that I can’t ignore – this year has been a crazy warm-up for what looks like is coming for next – but I’m a little sad I didn’t get a tree (I’m into getting the real ones). Nevertheless, this little last minute setup seems right for this year. And what was intended as a full day of solo reflection has become busy at the last minute, which is a nice surprise.

Merry Christmas.

London, 2014

2014 London-310

This year has turned out a little differently than I had expected, and in mostly good ways. Over the past year I have started to enjoy practicing architecture again, and somehow I have already achieved my stretch goal for top line revenue on the design side of my business for 2015, which will help pave the way for other goals much sooner than I had anticipated.

2014 London-182

I went with clients so this was my first overseas business trip. I also got to enjoy lunch with a colleague from the Dallas office of Gensler, who happened to be there for a project as well.  We did a lot of walking tours, looked at architecture, and I took a lot of photos. I haven’t spent just a ton of time with my camera (Nikon D80) since I bought it – I upgraded to get some good shots of my projects, and that’s really all I have used it for. I have gone on a few outings here and there to try to learn it more, but this time I spent several days taking photographs in different situations and lighting. Looking back at the photos and processing them, I observed that I actually got better with the camera as the trip went on. I still want to take a photography class, but my schedule for the most part is packed.

2014 London-105

Another thing I noticed is that a lot of my shots with this new camera typically look like ass before I process them. I don’t know if it is because I am shooting in RAW or what, but they seemed to look pretty washed out – particularly shots in overcast lighting (yes, I’m setting my white balance… well, now I am). My old D80 seemed to take better snapshots . A little adjustment in Lightroom made everything OK, but before I got to them I thought that I was a lot worse than I guess I actually am. However while I did lot of adjustments in Lightroom, I felt I was cheating. Whatever, it worked – at lest to me it did.

2014 London-268

Some more pictures from the trip can be seen here on my Flickr feed.


Dallas not sleeping during a snowstorm - 2001-ish

Dallas not sleeping during a snowstorm – 2001-ish

Overtime has always been kind of a hot topic in the architecture world.  Over my (erch) 17 year career, I have worked three places that paid overtime – two big firms, which just paid straight time; and one which paid time and a half.  That latter one ended up folding.  I did, however, buy my first road bike, a 1999 Cannondale R300, exclusively with overtime money.

It seems from my personal experience that most firms call all of their employees “decision makers,” and therefore pay them a salary.  That is all.  There is some consensus that an employee should be paid overtime as an intern, meaning that once you are registered, you are no longer eligible (however supposedly one would be paid more).

So this article in Entrepreneur Magazine caught my eye this morning.  It talked about how a new move in Washington would force more people to be paid overtime.  This, according to Entrepreneur, would stifle new entrepreneurs, and would in effect make employers restrict employee’s hours.  So, that employee who wants to put forth the extra effort won’t be allowed to… which not only stifles upward mobility, but also innovation.

Because everything stifles innovation.

Anyway, the first thought I had was: wow, this could have serious ramifications on our industry!  On my old bosses, on startups, on me!  Oh no!  And if everyone got paid time and a half as an intern, who on earth would want to become a registered architect?  The marketplace already shows that there is, if any, a negligible bump in compensation once someone becomes a registered architect.  This would, in fact, keep people from progressing in their careers!

Then, I started to think about my experience.  The architecture industry in particular has always reveled in working a ridiculous amount of hours.  It is a badge of honor.  From reading The Fountainhead to overnighters in studio to the workplace, putting in the hours has been what was most important.  I worked for a group who particularly pushed such a mantra: if you’re not here working at 8:00 PM and later every night, you are not working hard enough.

That is where I worked when I decided to start going back to school (they had known this when I signed on).  I had tons of papers to write, and I had definite cutoffs on some days when I had to go to class.  Class was at 6:00PM which means (gasp) I had to leave AT FIVE O’CLOCK.

I still had to get my stuff done.  I was at a (then) startup company, and had already worked many nights into the 2:00AM range.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  There are only 24 hours in each day that we all have, and I had made the commitment to myself that I was going to get a degree.

So something quite odd happened.  After only 6 months or so of this (leaving on time, having to seriously cut back my hours, etc.), I was approached by a partner.  He took me aside and said: “we’ve all been noticing you’ve been stepping it up lately.”  I suppose I had been.  I was figuring out how to do my work much more efficiently because I literally did not have the time to do it, and I was actually getting better in the process.  I was actually making an impression by forcing myself to work less hours.

I hate the cliché work smarter not harder, but there is some truth in it to me: its not the number of hours you put into a job, but simply what your output is.  Sometimes we all have to work late.  However, I like to say that if someone can’t get their work done within a reasonable amount of hours in the day, it is because of either:

  • Poor individual time management (who is writing a blog post at 9:40 this morning?  Yes I will be working late today)
  • Poor management (how long sir, have you been sitting on this, until you finally gave it to me to do?); or
  • unreasonable expectations by a client, or some other outside uncontrollable force.

Everybody makes mistakes, that’s OK and normal, and sometimes you have to work late.  But it shouldn’t be a badge of honor and it should most certainly not be a business model.  If the real response to this new legislation really is to cut back hours, I would challenge business owners and overzealous employees to get more out of the time you have.  And those who want to work long hours to excel?  Do it on your own time if you think it is THAT important.  Hours can be important, especially when starting out – because there are things that will take a young person four hours to do that a senior person can do in twenty minutes (in theory, that is why senior people get paid more.  In theory).  I see that as an investment in yourself, but the rest of your life also needs some time!  For instance, at my last “real job,” I was working alone on the weekends in the office – because I chose to go to the gym in the middle of the day, cutting down my usable hours in the week.  I feel like no one can keep someone from working; however, I don’t think sheer hours of work is what should get you ahead – it is the quality and quantity of your output.