Category Archives: Tech Tips

Architecture

Don’t Get People Killed

Everybody likes buildings that don’t collapse. That’s the one thing that absolutely everyone can agree about in architecture. Whether you’re building a land diving platform in Vanuatu, or a scientific research retreat in San Diego, structural integrity is the first priority. This is a long list of the kind of thing that happens when buildings fail.

land diving platform

By Paul Stein from New Jersey, USA (The Tower) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Structural integrity FTW! (Land diving is the ancestor of bungee jumping, and has a good safety record due to smart practices in material choice and design enforced by tradition. Nifty.)

Make Sure the Building Does Its Job

Does the structure do what it was designed to? It’s nice if your building stays up, and looks good, but does it do a good job at what it was designed to do? What if you built an award-winning library, and people found it unpleasant, or even creepy to read in? That’s a problem.

Looks Good

Does your building look good, or at least get across what it’s trying to communicate? Few structures aren’t meant to communicate anything. An example would be a missile silo. The best kind of missile silo is the kind nobody knows is there.

Minuteman Missile Silo Above Ground

This is a Minuteman missile silo doing a very good job of not being noticed.

Missile silo with skylight added.

This is a Minuteman missile silo as a museum feature. With the addition of a skylight, it’s now doing a very good job of being a tourist attraction.

Now THIS is a building meant to communicate something.

Marie Antoinette's cottage

By Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium (Marie-Antoinette’s estate at Versailles, France) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

FANCY. Oh, wait, that’s just the custom-built cottage that Marie Antoinette commissioned for the grounds of the palace at Versailles.

Versailles garden facade.

By Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium (Chateau de Versailles, France) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There we go. That’s the real palace.

“Fancy” doesn’t quite cut it as a description. Oh Dang.

So… What Happens When Communicating Wealth Goes Wrong?

Your house gets featured on McMansionHell, an excellent blog and all-around resource for information on jaw-droppingly ill-advised buildings, and architectural theory. That’s what happens. For an even further exploration of architecture, there’s also Arch Daily Classics like these. If you really want to beef up on architecture, you can always search the library database of subjects by keyword.

subject keyword search

Keyword search by subject. Yes, this will make your life much easier.

Happy researching!

Dive into Podcasts

“A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale.” 

So begins the first episode of the increasingly popular Welcome to Night Vale, where we get a glimpse into a community where all conspiracy theories are real, librarians are monstrous creatures that “SHOULD NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BE APPROACHED,” and angels (which are all named Erika and do not exist) communicate through Old Woman Josie. We are listening in to the public radio show of the little town, headed by Cecil Palmer, our constant companion through all the trying times that you can imagine would occur in such a place.  Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast by Commonplace Books that updates twice a month.

Some of you might be wondering what a podcast is. (I imagine most of you are wondering about that surrealist nonsense in the previous paragraph, but I’m hoping at least one of you focused on the “podcast” part and not the “Erika” part, because this is my segue anyway).

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Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Chill Out!  It’s a matter of life and death.  Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but not much.  A recent study on teen and adult stress found that stress-induced habits are emerging during the teen years.  The physical and emotional ailments that haunt stressed out adults are permeating the lives of teens.  Balancing time demands is one area affecting up to 59% of teens, especially during the school year.

In addition to  juggling home and school responsibilities, many teens are under increasing pressure to test early and often for college entrance.  If you’re past the testing marathon, you’re likely writing essays for entrance requirements and/or scholarships.  For those not on a college path, your stress may be even worse.  The pressure of being told you should have a clear path, when you’re unsure of where you want to go in life, can be even worse than a rigidly mapped course.

Whatever your current botheration (yes that’s really a word), you need to find healthy ways to let off some steam.  A way to vent is always better than molten lava festering inside.  Stress lava can burn you from the inside out or explode without warning.

Parents, teachers and even a librarian or two, may lament the copious amounts of time you spend on electronic devices.  But ironically, the first stress reliever I’m suggesting is to play online.  In search of stress relief tips for teens, I came across an article showcasing 8 quick online tension-tamers.

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