30 October 2010

Where Is This

Can anyone guess where this building with guy doing a squat-thrust is?

Hint: It is in the second best neighborhood in the City...

OK, I guess that was too hard. This is the Cincinnati Bell Building (ca: 1924) at the Northwest Corner of Hamilton and Westmoreland in Northside.

[where: 4331 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, 45223]

Ultimate Squash Picture


27 October 2010

RFK on Gross National Happiness

....we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

-Robert F. Kennedy Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968

Lawsuit Against LEED

Henry Gifford, owner of Gifford Fuel Saving has filed a lawsuit against the USGBC. I think many professionals who have dealt with LEED Certification for buildings would agree with the general arguments of the case:

...The suit alleges that USGBC’s claim that it verifies efficient design and construction is “false and intended to mislead the consumer and monopolize the market for energy-efficient building design.”

... the NBI study makes the case that LEED buildings are, on average, 25%–30% more efficient than the national average, Gifford published his own analysis in 2008 concluding that LEED buildings are, on average, 29% less efficient. ..

... Gifford is respected in energy efficiency circles for his technical knowledge. He told EBN that he has lost out because owners are fixated on earning LEED points, and he doesn’t participate: “Unless you’re a LEED AP you're not going to get work.” That’s unfair, he claims, because while USGBC says that its product saves energy, it doesn’t. Gifford says that his services actually save energy, and he’s prepared to prove it by sharing energy bills from buildings he has worked on.

... “the green label gives the designer, the developer, the contractor and the owner the right to hold a press conference staying that their building is energy-efficient, while the LEED system guarantees anonymity” when it comes to reporting actual energy use.

... he's hoping to make the green building movement more honest so that it’s not embarrassed down the road.

Henry Gifford's personal website

26 October 2010

Starchitects Waste Taxpayer Money (again)

Here is an article about some not-so-surprising issues with Eisenman's Aronoff Center at the University of Cincinnati, DAAP, a project that was overpriced, undersized and ugly when it was completed 14 years ago. It must now be repaired at a cost of $6 million. And to make matters worse, they felt they had to go on bended knee to ask Eisenman for his permission on the proposed solution. The solution to a crappy looking dryvit building with cheap ass drywall interiors.

When I was in school at UC, they were interviewing architects for this job. They invited several very famous architects to give lectures and show their work. Eisenman was by far the least qualified. He had no portfolio, except some unlivable houses built in the 70s. It was totally irresponsible of UC to spend taxpayer money on this charlatan. But we taxpayers continue to pay for their mistake:

... the building, an icon of architecture's "deconstructionist" movement, is deconstructing itself—literally coming apart at the seams because moisture has penetrated the "exterior insulating finishing system," as it's called, that makes up much of the angled facade. Now its dull, weather-stained wall panels are peeling away from windows and rooflines, and boils and rot mar the edges of some walls in busy locations. Attempts to correct the moisture problem by adding weep holes to drain away water didn't help. Nor did students, some of whom took to tossing rocks at the walls to see if the rocks would stick.

..."Our new buildings may not behave like our old buildings, where we wait a hundred years and then fix the brick," she says. "I'm not sure how long zinc will hang around."

UPDATE: New article in the Enquirer says the repairs will cost $20 million!!

Here is a photo of the great architect:

25 October 2010

Smitty's to Reopen

Until last month, there was a Dollar store in this corner storefront. I saw guys working in there and asked them and they said it was going to be the new Smitty's Menswear store: 

[where: 1501 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

24 October 2010

20 October 2010

Halloween Options for Downtowners

When I was a kid Halloween was a second rate holiday consisting of a few hours of fun on the last day of October. Today there are whole stores dedicated to costumes and decorations and tons of events for kids. In a way I don't like it, but since trick-or-treating door to door in Over the Rhine is not really a fun time, I do appreciate that there are plenty of other options for our children in the next 10 days. The events we are choosing from include the Zoo's Hallzooween, the Cub Scouts' Spook-a-ree, and Halloween Nights at Parky's Farm. Instead of going to a farm to pick a pumpkin, this year, I think we are just going to Findlay Market. What other events are there?

NOTE: posting will continue to be very light for the next couple weeks as I work through a busy schedule.

19 October 2010

Happy Worst Day Ever

A new play, Happy Worst Day Ever, by Arlelen Hutton, winner of the 2010 Macy's New Play Prize will be performed at Emanuel Community Center Gym, Oct 30th, 3pm.

Recommended for grades 3 to 6 and completely free!

A Description:
A world premiere play written for the Cincinnati Playhouse in Park by the noted playwright of Last Train to Nibroc: Happy Worst Day Ever is the story of a birthday party that doesn't happen, an unexpected upset on a favorite TV talent show, and an unlikely friendship with the most popular girl in the fourth grade and the nerdiest boy in school, who have more in common than they imagined.

"Had Arlene Hutton been around during Broadway's Golden Age, her finely wrought plays might rank with those of William Inge or Horton Foote. Among postmodern dramatists, Hutton stands apart, relying on traditional techniques in an era where such values grow ever rarer."

For more information, contact Gail Moe, Community Programming, 241-2563, ext. 32

14 October 2010

Big House Equals Junk Storage

"Closets? They're nothing but unsanitary boxes! And as for your storage, there's no reason for people to hold on to so much junk!" -Frank Lloyd Wright (quote from the 1940s, when the average house size was under 1,000 square feet and long before we started importing tons of plastic crap from China.)

I admit that storage is a problem in apartment living. At our home, we especially have a hard time finding a place for my tools and my wife's gardening stuff. And I'm never sure where to keep the charcoal. She would love a potter shed and me a wood shop, but instead we have a gardening bucket and tool boxes... stored on shelves. It is a bit inconvenient, but it works.

Sometimes I wish for a basement, but then I visit a relative's house and see the basement full like this:

Do we need to save all this stuff? I've seen whole basements full of just holiday decorations! How much holiday decorations do you need? In my opinion is it just best to get rid of all this junk. Give old furniture and clothes to people who need it now. Get rid of the dusty books and magazines. Yes, someone in your family may someday need those toddler clothes. But is it really worth hording this stuff in your closets and basements for sometimes decades, when you may never even use it? We received lots of hand-me-down clothes from relatives for our kids, and the best thing to do after a year of wear is to hand them down again to the someone else.

A 2008 related Citykin post: Smaller Homes = Happier Homes

13 October 2010

Paints - Ghost Sign

This building now houses Legal Aide offices. I wonder what hardware store was once here. Aufdemkampe?

[Where: 215-217 East Ninth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

At Least You're Not an Oyster

“Let us rejoice and bless God that we are neither Oysters, Hogs, or Dray-Horses; and not stand repining that He has not made us Angels; lest we be found unworthy of that share of Happiness He has thought fit to allow us.”
- Benjamin Franklin

12 October 2010

The Old Washington Park

Late on a weekday evening I hear drunks singing, bottles breaking, an intermittent crazed scream and loud voices bragging and cursing. People have moved the park benches from the pathways of Washington Park into the grass to create living rooms of a sort amongst the brown grass and cracked clay soil of this unusually hot and dry October. In these gathering spots, and along the perimeter, there is a late night party every day. Every day, till long past midnight.

Since Bang's closed it is now at least a 2 block walk to buy junk food or liquor. Some entrepreneurial women have running an black market pony keg out of their SUV every day for the past month, selling pop and snacks, all the while smoking pot and dancing. Their patrons leave litter everywhere and the rat population is exploding.

When walking back here from a trip downtown, it is shocking at the depravity, the litter and even the plain darkness of the streets around the park. It is the last throes of the old park. The maintenance man still comes every day to sweep up and empty all the cans, but it seems like a token gesture of upkeep. No one is maintaining the grass, re-arranging the benches or locking the toilets at night. No one is really policing the place either. It feels like everyone is just gave up and is letting things go. Why try to improve a place that is scheduled to be completely under construction next month? Let the people throw one last month-long drunk party in the park, ...then close it up.

Thankfully it has not been violent. The atmosphere is mostly jovial.

I hear that the Drop Inn Center has become more restrictive on who they admit, and in a month or so it will be cold and rainy, and heavy machinery will take over much of the park. Then what? Some people drive here for the party, so I assume there is an apartment of some kind at the other parking space. But others here are at the bottom, with absolutely nothing to their name. When the weather gets colder, yes I will selfishly appreciate the quiet. But will my peace come at the painful cost of some of these poor souls? Come December the only warm these guys may have will be in their memories. Memories of this unusually hot October, when they sang and drank until late into the night.

11 October 2010

Moving People vs Moving Cars NYC

"Once you realize that you can use your street to imporve the quality of life, the economic health of your city...I thin that's a transformative moment..." _ Janette Sadik Kahn, Commissioner of NYC DOT

After 3 year of implementing this plan, traffic fatalities are down 20%

10 October 2010

Tinkering School

Tinkering School founder, Gever Tulley has a new book: Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do). It got a modest mention in the NY Times. I especially like the one dangerous thing: Take appliances apart. I plan on doing this with my son at the next opportunity.

05 October 2010

Kid Summer Journal

I think we gave our kids a great summer. And what better gift can you give a kid? Here is some amusing quotes from our son's first page of his summer journal:
First Day of summer break.
On the first day of summer break, when I was dreaming that all the furniture could move and the piano and the nail clippers could talk, and they were messing our house up some, and my sister was fighting some pillows that could move and place mats were flying everywhere. What do you think I did? I woke up.

Then I went in my mom's room and told her about the dream, and then we had fun because we were at the garden and we were working there and then we got all wet with the hose, and we picked some spinach. Then we ate the spinach with peaches and butterfly noodles and I ate mine all up.

Second Day of summer break
On the second day of summer break I cleaned the house a little and the house next door, and it does not look nice in there but I almost finished a room then we ate lunch. Then we went to a park and I met a new friend. Mom bought popsicles and then we went to Graeters and mom bought us some ice cream. Then we went home and watched a movie and then we ate dinner that we picked at our garden. ... and we eat strawberries with chocolate on them and we walked over and we ate crackers and we went to one more place to eat lemon sorbet, and then we went home with a visitor
Not sure if he really had that much sweet stuff on the second day, but I wouldn't doubt it. They are so spoiled.