Art School: Semester 3, Week 6

Downstairs, my wife is practising vibrato on her violin. I may need to move again. To Siberia.

Oh, wait. She’s stopped. Apparently it was only a short burst while working out the design of a chin rest cloth. OK. So moving to Siberia is temporarily delayed.

And now a word from our sponsor: This week in review is brought to you by crazy people with way too much to do. When you think you’re busy, think again!

Alrighty then, this week the first bit of business isn’t really mine. Instead it’s from California.

Many of my readers know I used to teach stone carving with my friend, Sue, before moving to the GWN. Some of you will know that the class’s history is a bit complicated, involving moving from the original host organization (because they couldn’t pay for an external studio anymore) to a new school that had space. This past week saw that second host school decide that the stone carving class (and a few other studio classes) were no longer welcome. As a result, the stone carving class is going to have to find a new home. Again. I can’t fully address their motives, but it’s happened.

As of now there is an entire stone carving class — instructor, students, equipment — looking for a new home in the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area. They need a space that lets them meet once a week — ideally on Tuesday nights — and that doesn’t mind dust or noise. And it can’t cost too much. An existing arts teaching organization would be ideal, but I am sure Sue and her students will consider any and all options. If you know of such a place, please contact me directly and I’ll put you in touch with Sue. The last time this happened the class was without a home for more than a year. It would be great if a new home could be found more quickly this time.

This is a serious plea. If you know of anything, or have even a possible contact, please get in touch. I have a contact form you can use if you don’t have any other options. Thank you!

In other non-school stuff this past week… oh, wait. There hasn’t been much of that. It was a really busy week, as you’ll see in a bit.

But, it seems I didn’t really properly mention the end of the water supply line replacement in the last post, except in passing. So, here you go:

That picture is taken in the crawlspace of our rental house. The white pipe is the new PEX line coming into the house. They drilled through the foundation (on the lower right), installed a new shut off valve, a new PVR (Pressure Valve Regulator, I think, it’s the browny/yellowy bell shaped thing thing in the middle left), a new hose bib outside (which is the white line after the PVR that doubles back, and they had to muck with the electrical grounding as well, since so many old houses like this one ground everything to the water pipes. (Plastic, however, is not exactly a great conductor of electricity, so they attached a big copper wire to the remaining copper pipes and ran it outside. What happened out there, I didn’t see.)

The end result outside isn’t all that interesting. They cut through the driveway, dug a trench, put down the pipe, put the dirt back, and asphalt patch too. It’s done, and there is no longer the constant noise of water leaking in the living room. It’s good.

I have to admit the presence of the PVR is odd to me. None of the houses I’ve owned or worked on have had one as far as I know. I’m not at all clear on why that is. Maybe the local water company here runs their lines at higher pressures than typical US water companies do, so it needs to be regulated down? Or maybe in the US the PVR is installed in the water company portion of the system? Regardless, I’ve not seen one of those in use in the US, but both houses we’ve rented up here have them. Go figure.

We also had rain last week. Real rain. And that means that the roof patch got tested and it seemed to hold. No water in the crawlspace. So that’s a good thing. But nothing is quite that simple, right? Here’s what I noted after the rains:

Yup. That downspout is just sitting there. No clue how it was supposed to stay put, and it moved mid storm. The eagle eyed among you will note there is no downspout anywhere on the lower gutter. The far end (as seen in the picture) sticks out something like a meter from the house and it’s actually uncapped, so the water simply falls down onto the top of an old bird bath on the ground below. It’s effective, if a bit odd.

I need to figure out how to get that bit of downspout back into place, though. I have some ideas.

Also note the flat roof. I hate those. Never again in anything I own will there be a flat roof. (Well, I shouldn’t really say “never”. I should instead state that I have a very strong preference for avoiding them.)

And in the immediately past week, the household noted both birthday and an anniversary in passing, but given everything else going on those were sort of “yup, that’s today” events. Celebrations were basically nonexistent.

And that’s because of, well… read on…


Friday — yesterday, as I write this — was the due date for the first paper in my English class. Being me, I actually wrote the first draft last week, and then waited a while before editing it, in the hopes that would let me see my errors. It wasn’t a long paper (about 800 words in the end, not counting title and works cited), nor was it particularly complex. But it’s an English paper. That means there is an obligation to get the language right. And for me that means lots of editing passes, tweaking, reorganizing, rephrasing, and so on. It takes time. And every editing pass is also another opportunity to add errors, in addition to taking them out. That seems to happen a lot.

In related news, a conversation with my English instructor surprised me. It turns out he is following these posts. (Hi, Alex!) I told him I wrote these back at the beginning of his class because I wanted him to have a chance to understand a bit more about me. I didn’t figure he’d keep reading them, but he does. And remember last week’s post, where I complained about the textbook (again) and the nature of the writing the class requires (again)? Yeah. He’s been following along. So far I have no indication that this will put my grade at risk, but… :)

Anyway, I spent a lot of time spent editing the paper over the past several days, and submitted it on Friday morning.

There is an old saying about writing that goes something like this: “You’re never actually done with a novel. You just give up.” (I’m sure that isn’t the exact quote, but it’s the gist of it. If anyone knows the original quote, please share it with me. I couldn’t find it with some quick searches.) I mention that because the same sentiment applies to almost any writing I do. I can edit forever, if I so choose, and at some point I just have to decide that I am done and give up on the process. Or at least let someone else read it and point out all the awful gaffes I can no longer see. Friday morning was that point. Apologies for all the awfulness that remains within my paper, Alex. And in these posts, too. (Ahem. That sentence fragment is a deliberate choice on my part! :)

But Alex’s presence here is a good thing in another way. It’s time once again for an important reminder: if you read these posts and discover a typo (or worse), you are honour bound to notify me of it. That has always been the case, but now that we know my English instructor is reading these, you not only need to tell me about my goofs, but do so quickly, so I can fix them before he sees them. I — and my English grade — thank you! (Hyperbole, Alex. Hyperbole!)

Anyway, English was a fair chunk of work, but it was nothing in the last week compared with…


Let’s start at the end:

Those are the presentation boards for my group’s project. We’re presenting them to a few representatives from the city of Vancouver this coming Monday morning. We’ve done everything we can to simplify and minimize the presentation, and I honestly think we did a pretty professional job. It’s quite nice.

As I’ve said here before, our project proposes to enhance an access ramp to the only park on the shore of the harbour in East Vancouver. Right now that ramp is a concrete horror (note the satellite picture above “2008” in the board on the left). We propose adding trees, shade cloth, more benches, and (eventually, if money can be found) a lot more.

The group I’m in was fantastic. Everyone contributed in a major way, and the end results really show that. Here’s a close up of the models for phase 1 and 2. Ideas from all of us are present in them:

What you can guess at is the amount of time in this project. The class meets twice a week for four hours each time. We spent just about all week getting the end result together. We were in the design room or the maker space every day, revising, building, planning, etc. Every group member really worked hard, and the end result is pretty impressive.

As I mentioned before, there is real money available (not a lot in city terms, just $40,000) to build one of the four projects the class is proposing. The important thing, however — particularly for the younger people in the class that haven’t worked anything other than retail and/or restaurant jobs — is the experience of pulling something like this together, for an actual client, with an actual deadline. School is artificial in a number of ways. That’s great — because we learn from failure — but it doesn’t really prepare you for some aspects of real life. This class did that. It has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I don’t know if my fellow students realize how lucky they all are to have been through this, and even though only one project will get the green light, every one of them has gained a lot of important knowledge here. I am refreshed by it as well, and I’m an old hand at projects with real deadlines and people waiting for them. This was, in short, a really, really good class.

But — and it is important to acknowledge this — it did consume just about all of the last week. All but the bits spent editing an English paper and peripherally noting important life events back at home.


  • I have only one new link for you this week, and it’s a technical one, so many of you will probably skip it. But it is interesting to hear a bit of high level stuff from Intel about how they are working on quantum computing.
  • And here’s the usual index of art school posts and other things here on Medium.


I’ve got nothing this week. There were no ships in the harbour with interesting patterns on their prows, and just about every other minute was spent at school. But I can share this:

I love the crossed front paws

That’s Cruzer, sleeping behind my chair, right now. I am definitely his boy, and when I am home you can pretty much assume he is nearby. Given I’ve been away at lot more than usual this past week, he’s a bit clingier than normal at the moment.

And In Conclusion…

You’ve all done very well! Particularly my fellow Design Special Projects Students. Thank you!

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store