You need to read less and think more!

This blog is about getting stoked and getting worthwhile things done. There is a sea of useless information bombarding you, and this is a desert island where you beach your boat and build a hut. There are also some clever little construction tricks to be presented.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to really get free.

The good prophet Henry Rollins once said "It feels pretty good to know without a doubt, that I am what I am without a doubt".  I bet it does.  This is a break from the "making consturction errors remarkable" series to explore the driving force behind our work and virtually all work.

All work is done for one of six reasons:  Habit, Hunger, Boredom, a need for Significance, Love, or Inspiration, and probably in that order or liklihood.  The first four of those will spur nearly anyone into action.  What is worth discussing is aligning Love and Inspiration with those so there is no friction within. 

The question one must ask themselves is what they would do, if knowing what they know now they had to start all over.  I really think human beings start off like the bulbs of flowers, all looking similiarly dark and crude, until they grow into the various flowers they were meant to be.  Though instead of water, air, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil, human beings need their basic physical and psycologocal needs met to have the confidence to be the weird flower they were meant to be.  I say "weird flower" because to your cohort of bulbs, any flower you grow to be will be "weird".  Continuing with the flower metaphor, the rocks and soil you will need to push through are habit and peer group. 

Habits are incredibly hard to change at first.  Doubtful?   Try fasting tomorrow if you have never done it.  What is inspiring is the knowledge that they get easier with time.  In fact, nearly every hard thing gets easier, and most easy things were once hard.  Persist.  You may do so for no reason than for the sake of persistence itself, or you may find your true calling and cling to that.  Either way, persist.

Peer group can be a tough thing to overcome, too.  Your friends want the best for you, so long as it doesn't threaten their self esteem.  If you already have big-thinking friends, than little you do will threaten them.  Most of us end up alienating a few if we grow though.  It hurts, but not as much as a regrettable life. 

Sooner or later though, it would be a good idea to find that true calling to pull you through.  It will probably be weird.  Mine was to make shiny pieces of concrete, and create jobs for others to do the same.  That's admittedly weird.  But lining up with the unique voice within you is one of the sweetest things I've known.  I can't recommend finding that highly enough.  One practical way to find that is to practice breathing deeply and sitting completely still for an hour at a time.  If you try it, and it's not really remarkable, please let me know.  I've never heard that before. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Making Construction Errors Remarkable - episode 3 (really a prelude to 4)

I love good architecture and design for the same reasons that I like concrete flooring.  It's efficient, timeless, minimal, elegant and it tickles my sense of aesthetic.  What's fun about being at element7concrete is that we get referred to and referred by people that "get it".  Architect Rick Burleson is one of those guys.  We met through The Loftis Home built by Dauphine Homes, and from outset I knew by the hand-drawn renderings and use of repurposed materials this was going to be special.  What nobody knew was how the live oak tree would riddle the slab with leaf prints out of season or how the stamped concrete would be bombarded with hail a few hours after placement.  Nobody knew how these mishaps would become great serendipity, either.  We'll make that another story, though.
The picture below was from another project of his.  He had a cool design of wood inlaid in stained concrete, but with proportions opposite of what you would expect.  It was a remodel and the wood would finish out around 3/4", and according to the Minnick's builder and his decorative concrete guy, that just wasn't possible.  Not possible?!  Some things are harder to do out of concrete than others, but precious little is not possible.   Rick recommended meeting me to discuss it, and though it was a small project more than an hour away, I really like the design.  Finally, after a few more exhibitions of questionable competence, the owners asked me if I knew a builder I would recommend in their area.  Cody Schmidt from Sierra Builders took over and the project sailed to completion.  The photo below shows the small field of concrete installed to wood.  The larger field received a simple scoring design and the same green and dark walnut acid stain. 

Today I found myself on another project being built by Cody Schmidt and designed by Rick Burleson in the hills outside of Wimberly, TX.  Thankfully, the homeowners chose a clear paste wax after the floor had been wet sanded, chemically etched, and treated with an amazing penetrating stain blocker.  The honest highlighting of the material fits the home extremely well.  I love the way the house fits the hillside, is orientated to the sun and common winds, and draws you out into the strikingly rugged landscape.  I also love the way the sand in the concrete was occasionally exposed by the chemical etching and the nuances from the finishing happen to match the rock of the home better than and stain or pigment know to man.  I only wish I had the language to describe the rhythm of the spaces and the rightness of the proportions.  I know I am gushing a bit here, but the point is there is just nothing like good design.  It brings out the best in the workmen on site, and next week I will show how we used the badly "honeycombed" steps to make the best part of the floor.