Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's all in the translation.

There's this great op-ed piece from the NYT by Michael Cunningham, who wrote "The Hours." It's about having his works translated into other languages and how, no matter what, the meaning changes. Cunningham's happy if the new versions have a nice lilt to them. But he goes on to say that the creative process, in this case writing, is all about translation: From the head to the keyboard to the editor to the reader. In each step the idea itself changes, and then each person who participates along the way experiences something different. So it's really all translation all the time.
I think the same thing can be said of design. The house in your head -- especially for my architect followers (hey Ray! hey Kevin!) -- is not the house built. Ever. Can't be.
And that's not depressing. Just interesting.

Photo: Delta Shelter by Tom Kundig. And, yes, this applies even to Mr. Kundig.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The sauna: past and present

While tappin' my toe and slicin' up my Swedish pancakes last Sunday morning at the Swedish Cultural Center's once-a-month breakfast fest (if you haven't gone, get the hell up early the first Sunday of any month but August and go there, on Dexter. it's like a wedding without the pesky bride and groom. you got round tables, LIVE music, costumes, dancin' and eatin' for $9. And you can be nappin' by noon! costumes!) anyway, i find out about this there:
on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. at the same place, the Swedish Cultural Center, 1920 Dexter Ave. N., they're having a Finn hall. A what?? Gatherings, Finns. You get the picture. And this one features Arnold Alanen, Fullbright fellow and professor emeritus of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin.
He's going to tell us how Finnish immigrants brought their understanding of the environment and cultural resource preservation with them to here. Here's the good part, and I quote: "He will also address the question: Did the sauna change when it came to America?"
Sure, I poke fun. But I think Mr. Alanen will be fascinating. As a Fullbright scholar, he's been declared to be smarter than most of us, maybe even Nobel winners. I'm not sure of the pecking order there.
Mr. Alanen also is the Finlandia Foundation National Lecturer of the Year for 2010. But I don't know who his competition was, so maybe that's not such a big deal. But that Fullbright thing is.

TIDBIT: I had a boyfriend once, between husbands, who showed his affection by remodeling my house. Unannounced. While I was at work. And one day he decided to pay his teen-age daughter to tear out the sauna in the bathroom. Then he rebuilt it on the deck. It looked EXACTLY the same, except for one thing. He took the old dog door, cut the window out of it and inserted it into the sauna so we could look outside while we sweated naked. Only you could never see out the window with all the steam.
Again, I digress. I blame it on and the exuberance of middle age.

photo: stock image of some naked guy in a sauna. if you wanted a naked women write your own blog.

It's a wild life. For sure.

So I know this guy on the inside at Schultz/Miller, contractor to the stars, and we were kvetching about this and that. OK, the economy mostly. Anyway, we were both saying that the jobs now are in remodels, expansion and upkeep. Not so much the megamansion or even a normal new house. But remodeling, expansion and upkeep can still be a big-money job on a big-money house. We're not talking about pulling up the Kohler for a Toto, ya know.
Anyway, I digress. He tells me this:
Schultz/Miller gets a call from one of their big houses on Lake Washington. Right on the lake. Big ol' house made of cedar. Owner says something's eating their house. Schultz/Miller goes right out. Sure enough, a corner of the house is bitten right off.
Not termites. Beavers. One 40-pound beaver to be exact. They had to call animal control and have the offender carted off.
My source says this (and here's our moral): Yeah, that's what happens when you build with cedar on the lake.
So, don't do that!