Uncommon for the iPhone

I debated long and hard on whether or not I should do a blog post on a particular product, especially one not architecture related, but quite honestly when it came down to it I couldn’t NOT post about this product.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation, nor do I expect to, for endorsing this product. The views expressed are completely my own and not associated with the Uncommon company.

Ok, that being said, let’s get down to it. About 2 years ago I got my first iPhone. Yes, I was a little late to the game, but I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere. I love my iPhone; I carry it everywhere; I sleep with it; I whisper softly to it at night when no one is watching….I mean, uh…never mind.

So I got my iPhone and was immediately faced with the fact that there are no warranties or replacement policies for one of the most expensive phones I’ve ever purchased as an adult. This led to a frantic search for a totally bad ass case. The obvious choices were the Otterbox type cases, but I didn’t feel like carrying around a plastic BRICK in my pocket, so the search went on.

I randomly stumbled across the Uncommon website and was immediately drawn to the fact that I could either a] order a prefab case with some sweet artwork on it, or I could b] upload my own artwork and have a custom case made. SCORE! πŸ™‚

Anyway, after diddling around for a few more weeks, looking at other cases and reading up on reviews and what not, I said “screw it, I want the funky stuff”, and went back to Uncommon. Holy crap, am I glad I did.

First, the design. It’s awesome. It’s sleek and sexy and much smaller than most other cases out there. But what has really amazed me the last 2 years (yes I’ve had the exact same case for two different iPhones now – 3g and 3gs) is the quality. This case, for lack of a better word, is indestructible. I have a 3yo and a 2yo at home. Nuff said, right? :-\

It’s amazing that it is so damn sturdy. It’s a hard plastic case with nice design – clean round corners and soft edges – with no inner liner. There’s no “shock” absorber or rubber gel inserts or any of that crap. It’s just a plastic case over top of your iPhone. But let me tell you, my iPhone has been dropped, slid, stepped on, bowled across the floor, even THROWN by my wonderful darling little children. And after two years my case has barely any scratches and mostly looks like it did when I pulled it out of the box 2 years ago. That to me is worth way more than the $40 investment I made. Oh yeah, did I mention they were CHEAP?!

If you have an iPhone, GO GET ONE OF THESE!!! πŸ™‚

food, Thanksgiving and food – #LetsBlogOff

image courtesy of google images

Thanksgiving is a purely American Holiday. On Thanksgiving we give thanks for this great nation and the sacrifices and triumphs that have made this nation the most amazing and wonderful in the world. And in so doing we are left to look back on our own lives and to give thanks to what is truly important, what is and should be treasured and what to pass on to the next generation. In keeping with this tradition, the LetsBlogOff team asks us to share a favorite Thanksgiving memory. Like most of us, I hope, my Thanksgiving memories center around two things: Food and Family.

The one memory that always first comes to mind is back many moons ago when I was 8 or 9 and we had the big Thanksgiving dinner at my Chochi Mary’s house (it’s Polish for Aunt – though she was actually my grandmother’s aunt). Our typical family Thanksgiving feast would include all the usual suspects: a big turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, green beans (from the garden), mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, cabbage (otherwise known as sour crout), and two or three kinds of pie. Did I mention we’re a big family? πŸ˜›

This one year in particular we were all crowded around the table and I, not being a big fan of turkey back then, was waiting ever so impatiently for my helping of ham and mustard. This was an especially special Thanksgiving because my grandfather decided to share some of his Grey Poupon with me…and only me. πŸ™‚

And so, my mother gives me my little stack of ham slices with a helping of mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans and cranberry sauce then settles in to eat her own meal as all of the adults are chatting away or whatever. Me…I set in to eating.

It wasn’t very long before I had finished my plate (vegetables and all) and was looking for a second helping of ham. My mother acquiesced and I grabbed a few more slices and another dollop of Grey Poupon.

And a few short minutes later my plate is clean again, and I’m reaching for another stack of ham slices. My mother turns to me, seeing just how much food I’ve put away and surreptitiously denies my request. My grandmother and Chochi both were, as you can imagine, appalled that my mother would deny me food (obviously not knowing that I’ve had two full helpings already), but of course the very forceful matrons of my family won out and I got my third helping of ham…with the understanding that this was my very last helping of food probably for the day.

And, yeah, I piled that shit on my plate and scarfed it down like a champ! Now, after nearly eating my own weight in sliced ham, the rest of the day is pretty much a blur, but what I remember most was just the overwhelming feeling of love and family that was always around that table. There is something so amazingly comforting about a gathering of multiple generations talking, eating, sharing stories. If you could be thankful for nothing else, be thankful for those in your life bound by blood and honor. Remember them, give thanks for them and don’t forget to pass the turkey! πŸ™‚

mid-century modern….container?

We all love Mid-Century Modern homes don’t we? Those sleek lines, low sloping roof profiles, deep overhangs and exposed jutting roof girders. Ah, just sit back and bask in the glow of the modern-ness (shut up, it’s totally a word).

image courtesy of stardustmoderndesign.com

Looking back to the modern style of residential architecture (I can’t believe we have to “look back”…but whatever) there is a beautiful simplicity to their designs yet such complexity in style, material, color and above all experience. The mid-century modern style saw a departure from the segregated and compartmentalized arrangement of previous vernacular designs and offered a new way of living that was more appropriate and more flexible for the nuclear family. Spaces are designed to be open and free flowing. The connection to the outside (even if it is the backyard) is encouraged.

So I say, why can’t we bring it back in a new modern mid-century style by using shipping containers? That’s right baby!

plan sketch - n.t.s. - 2br/2bth - 960 sf

Above is just the first sketch of a home I’m designing that couples the design sensibilities of mid century modern design with container architecture. Thoughts, comments, critiques, ridicules are all welcome. Give it your best shot – I dare you! πŸ™‚

Model images coming soon.

you want to build my house out of WHAT?!

title slide - Pecha Kucha 16 @intuitionale

On Tuesday, November 8th, I gave a small presentation at Pecha Kucha 16 in Jacksonville on Container homes. For those of you not familiar with this very fun and exciting presentation style, check out the official Pecha Kucha website and check out the Pecha Kucha Jax Facebook page as well.

Essentially it’s a 20×20 format – you’ve got 20 slides and 20 seconds to talk about each slide. This adds up to about a 6 1/2 minute presentation on whatever topic you choose. Then a brief Q&A period at the end and now get your ass off the stage and let the next contestant get to work! Below are some slides from my presentation.

container construction illustration

illustration of housing square footage growth in one generation

containers = high quality single family homes

While I focused on the “cargotecture” aspect of housing, this presentation was really part of a larger discussion that I’ve been having on this blog for quite some time about more responsible and more compact living.

As political, economic and social pressures continue to mount in our every day lives, it is becoming increasingly apparent to many that “the way things are done” kinda sucks and are looking for higher quality, higher efficiency and smaller living arrangements. It’s as if Minimalism has become the new American Dream. Good bye McMansion, hello streamlined modular container home. πŸ™‚

“you grows up an you grows up” – #LetsBlogOff

Vince Vaughn is famously quoted as screaming “u grows up and u grows up and u grows up!” in Swingers. Here’s a little video action for you:

So, in this weeks LetsBlogOff we’re asked “what did you want to be when you grew up?” And…well, quite frankly at one time or another (as I imagine is true for many people) I wanted to be just about everything under the sun. Here’s a small list, a taste, a teaser if you will:

Math Teacher
Motorcycle Cop
Marine Corp Sniper
Evil Canival (Stunt Man for those who don’t know)
Pro Wrestler (FYI – I’m 5′-8″ and 165 lbs…..yeah)
and…… Architect.

That’s right, even at a young age I wanted to be an Architect. Even though I didn’t even understand what one was until I was in my teens. But I don’t think this is really at the heart of the question. The notion of “want” in the question is completely misleading. It leads us down a path of childlike innocence and wonder to ponder “what do I want to spend my life doing” rather than looking at our life as it is and asking “is this where I want to be and where do I go from here?” This is a more practical road to travel down, in my opinion. And so, here we go.

Looking back at my “10 year plan” from high school, which was about 13 years ago now, I am actually exactly where I thought I would be. Perhaps this means I’m not much of a dreamer or my goals were too practical, but there it is. I’m married, I have some awesome kids and I am a practicing architect (unlicenced). So, when I apply the question “what do I want to spend my life doing and where do I go from here”, I actually get a sense of satisfaction.

Because I genuinely LOVE what I do. Now, that is not to say that my life is all milk and honey and dandelions. I, like many, have financial issues and family issues and professional issues, etc etc. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy where I am or less satisfied with the path I’m currently on. The reason for that is because “architecture”, or “architect”, is not merely something that I “do”. I AM an Architect. Call it DNA, call it Destiny, call it a calling, whatever. If I were not an Architect, or if I were not practicing architecture in some capacity you can bet your ass I’d be on a ledge somewhere staring at “the great beyond”.

Instead of wondering “what do I want to be” when grown, I have grown into who I was always meant to be. There were small choices along the way that got me here, but “choice” isn’t really a factor when you consider that there is nothing else I would rather dedicate my life to than the profession, the art, the science, the passion of architecture.

So, where are you in your journey? Are you where you were always meant to be or are you facing a crossroads of “where do I go from here”? Either way you’ve only got one life to live. Make it a good one.