The Bee’s Knees…

I had an MRI on my knee last week, and based on that it appears that I will require arthroscopic knee surgery. That’s not a major issue, really. At least I don’t think so.

The real problem is that Liz and I are going to Thailand next month. I can either go to Thailand with a bum knee… thus limiting my ability to enjoy the trip. Or I can have surgery this week and go to Thailand with a bum knee… thus limiting my ability to enjoy the trip.

I believe this is somewhere between a Hobson’s choice or a Catch-22. Hmmm… Either way I’m going to Thailand. I don’t care if I’m on crutches or if I have to hire some Thais to carry me around in a Tuk Tuk no matter where I’m going.

Question for Liz… do you mind if I hire a bunch of Thais to carry me around? (It is to laugh… I kid.)

Bad News…

Found out yesterday that my step-mom has lung cancer. It seems her breast cancer has come back with a vengeance, but has now decided to attack her lungs.

She has not been given a good prognosis. In fact, she has been given a year with chemotherapy. It’s possible that she could live longer, but it’s not likely.

My step-mom is a special lady. You see, I find myself putting the qualifier “step” in front of “mom”, but the reality is that she was my mom. I called her mom and though we didn’t always see eye to eye, we eventually accepted each other as family. Strange how bonds can form from the least likely links.

It’s important to note that I didn’t have a “normal” childhood. My father stole me from my mother when I was very young, and so I never had contact with my mother (we eventually reunited when I was 25). My father was and is a merchant seaman. He works on large ships as a marine electrician. What that meant for me was that I basically grew up with whomever was his current wife or whomever he was paying to take care of me at the time.

My current step-mom married my dad when I was 14. (I say current because she is, in fact, my third step-mom and my seventh caretaker.) As you can imagine it was a turbulent time for me. It was made all the more turbulent when my father was forced to move to Brazil because of a legal matter. So at the age of 15 I was without any blood relatives living near me. It was just me, my step-mom, and my step-sister. I lived there until I left for Orlando seven years later. Seems like a lifetime ago.

So my step-mom is dying. She is still cheerful and somehow still slips a few jokes into conversation. Like I said… she’s a special lady. And people wonder where I get my jovial manner. 😉

Now I have to find out how work will accommodate me leaving for an extended period of time if that becomes necessary. I should be able to telecommute from anywhere. There aren’t any technical hurdles that I can’t overcome. It just depends on how much my boss is willing too bend company policy.


I’m think about taking some classes at Crealde School of Art in preparation for the M.Arch programs I will be applying to next year.

By the way… here is a preliminary list of programs I’m thinking about…
If in L.A….
Sci-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture)
Cal Poly- Pomona (not sure how good this program is)

If in NYC…
with a minor possibility of Yale, if I decide to live in Connecticutt

If in Boston…
BAC (Boston Architectural Center… not sure how good this program is)
Harvard (Highly ranked, doubt I’ll get in, but it never hurts to apply)
M.I.T. (see notes on Harvard)
RISD (Rhode Island School of Design… not sure I want to live in Providence)
another minor possibility of Yale

If in D.C.
U of Maryland
Morgan State (not sure how good the program is)
Catholic Univ of America (not sure about this one either)
U of Virginia (this is a bit far away, but I might be able to commute)
Penn (this also a bit far, but I may be able to commute)

Now… if I could just narrow it down to one city… I’d be set. (but what happens if I can’t get in a program in my desired city? who knows!)

Recent House Projects…

Here’s a page of recent projects I’ve done around my
house. Some of them are crappy, some aren’t.

The trash can lamp was made out of a plastic trashcan, special craft paper, and a standard plug-in lamp cord. Idea = me & liz.

The kitchen hutch and pot rack was made of galvanized plumbing pipe and a 5 foot long piece of pine. Idea = mine.

The work table was made of galvanized plumbing pipe and a standard sized hollow core dore. Idea = David Berman (though heavily modified)

The trellis was made using 6 1×4 pine boards and several pieces of lattice of varying lengths and
widths. idea = readymade magazine (though slightly modified)



Workout today was a killer… Legs feel like jello… not the bouncy jello with fruit in it… the runny jello that didn’t quite congeal properly. If you see me walking like I have to take a dump… you know why.


Earliest Memories

I was born July 15 (a summer or two after the hippie’s celebrated their “summer of love” and a year after Neil met the man on the moon) to Ana Luisa H. and Manuel Balbino S. on the north end of an island known worldwide as Manhattan. My parents soon split. My earliest memories don’t include my father at all, but that would change drastically in the coming years.

Memory #1… Watching my uncle Hansel (yes, his name is really Hansel) blow bubbles from his saliva as he slept on a high backed cushioned chair.

Memory #2… Playing with my sisters on a sculpture in a nearby park.

Memory #3… Walking with my sisters to get lunch, though I’m not sure why weren’t just eating at home

Memory #4… Bathing with my sister, Bertha (yes, her name is really Bertha) and seeing that she was not anatomically the same as me, I tucked my member between my legs and ran out to greet my mother with a “Mami look, I’m just like Bertha!”

Memory #5… Going with my mom to the bus station to pick up my sister Zaida (yes, her name really is Zaida) for summer break from private school.

Memory #6… Climbing into the refrigerator to get something… what I don’t remember

Memory #7… Riding the subway to go to the public pool for the day.

Memory #8… Going to schools (day cares?) with my mother as she asked questions

Memory #9… My last memory of my time in Manhattan was actually of leaving Manhattan… I remember getting on the plane to go to another island… Hispaniola

Entering the 21st Century…

OK… I’ve entered the modern age. I bought a DVD player. You shouldn’t be shocked by this, though. I bought my first CD Player a decade after they were on the market.

It’s kind of weird. I stay abreast of the latest technology, but I rarely seem to actually buy it. I’m not sure why this is. I mean sure there are monetary considerations. I guess I waste money in other more creative ways. Ways which I have yet to fathom. 😉

Now that I have a DVD player… Anyone care to recommend some must have / must see DVDs?


Crazy Neighbors…

My neighbor across the street never, ever parks in his driveway. Neither does his wife. Instead, they park on the street. By the way, my neighbor drives a huge work van. His wife drives a some sort of American sedan.

In the month that I’ve been living at the new place I have never seen my neighbors even pull into the driveway to turn around. Every morning I leave before he leaves. I have yet to see him leave before me.

Why am I telling you this…? don’t worry… I’ll fill you in.

It was raining last night, and I arrived home before Liz. I usually park on the street, but there was no nearby place to park on the street so I pulled into my driveway. Liz pulled in behind me when she got home. Our driveway barely fits both cars… with one car blocking the sidewalk. Oh well… no big deal.

This morning Liz and I went to workout. We took her car because it was the one at the end of the driveway. We got back home around 7:45. Since I usually leave before Liz we pulled my car out and parked in front of the neighbors house across the street. Unfortunately, his van takes up most of the space there and the tail end of my car partially blocked his driveway.

At any rate, I start my usually pre-work routine of cereal eating, e-mail checking, and showering. While in the shower, Liz informs me that the neighbor called the landlords to tell them that he was going to have my car towed. The neighbor was very angered that I would park in front of his driveway.

Well I got dressed and set out for work and the inevitable confrontation with the neighbor…

A craggy faced, salt and pepper bearded gentlemen in shorts and a t-shirt carrying gardening equipment says to me… “Never do that again!”. I explain that the parking arrangement was temporary… it certainly wasn’t something I planned to do regularly. At which point he decided to raise the stakes, “This is my house. I live here. You just rent. You can’t park in front of people’s driveways!”

He continued with… “You’re costing me money! I have to move my trailer out to go to work.” Mind you, I have never seen the trailer nor have I ever seen the man leave before me. I soldiered on with, “You’ve never used your driveway before. Let’s calm down.”

I tried to diffuse the situation, but he continued ranting at me, “If you ever do it again, I won’t even call… I’ll just have you towed.” I was really tempted to go at it with the guy. I have to admit that I very nearly lost it at this point, but no… I continued with my line of thinking that it was only temporary and that I had never once seen him leave before me. That one, unfortunately, seemed to really get his goat. He responded with, “I’ve been living here for 18 years. Have you? You just rent! How the hell would you know what I do?”

That’s when he turned around and started walking away. I waved, smiled, and said “Have a wonderful day.” I had to think calming thoughts on the way to work or I would have road raged myself into a fire hydrant.

As you can see the old guy most likely didn’t need to use his driveway this morning. He was just upset over a couple of things…

1. He’s very protective of his property and by extension the airspace in front of his driveway.

2. He doesn’t like the fact that new people… renters, in fact… have moved in across the street.

…while I’m sure there are other reasons for him being angry, I don’t necessarily wish to delve into the mind of someone that is teetering on the brink of sanity.

OK… now that you’ve heard the story… what’s your response. Did I act completely inappropriately by blocking his driveway for about 45 minutes this morning? Now that there is this animosity with my neighbor, how should I deal with future encounters with him? What would you do in my situation? If you are the type of person that retaliates, how would you do so?