Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Como Espresso
Castellani Breakfast



We are not amateur travelers. But recently we have been renting apartments in lieu of hotels.  I have been to Paris about 20 times (a week at a time).  We carry a small amount of gear as we know some places don't accommodate such in the kitchen.  But there are some basics that are required for us travelers. We need a table (with lighting) to do our daily planning. The coffee maker will always be a different kind, sometimes not even an espresso maker. The following notes are merely to give you what we call “Feed-back” to help the next traveler, we hope.
FIRENZI- This kitchen was really surreal, One plug for all, had to keep the coffee pot in hall on a chair. Largest cabinet had most utensils stored in it, but you had to access them by lifting up top, ergo, nothing can be stored on the counter. We did take out the flatware & leave it on next little counter. Had micro-wave but it was 4" short of the plug. But a wonderful outdoor deck was way down the hall at other end of unit. (We dried laundry out there on a portable rack.) There were no screens for the mosquitos on doors (probably a Europe thing).  but really swell windows had shutters, insulation, inside shutter + a pull down screen.  Sink had dry rack above but behind doors. Lighting? One small bulb on ceiling, one on stove didn't work. There was only one bath for us five but the lock was broken.
 GARDA – Very Moderne house. Kitchen: Didn’t have much light. Great DeLonghi Espresso maker.!  Dishes kept in Living Room, we cleared a shelf above work area for glasses & cups , at least. Good DW & oven . we used DW to dry dishes from sink. Had a bar thingie with shelves under, at least. Dining room table  handily located.  Frig was  over by the stairs, faced in wrong direction & door but they had it turned so the back wouldn’t show at stair. Jeez!  Not much enough plugs , had to keep rotating them for appliances (all 3). Wi-Fi went out but owner did fix it in a few hours. Fantastic swimming pool next to the beach.
  LYON – Lets not even discuss the fact that the apartment was on the 4th floor, when we had asked for ground floor units. (One 85 year old, one woman with sprained ankle, one with recent operation on ankle) . Lamp out @ hood stove.  Closets are in Living Room, not very handy.  No bidet! What?  But I thought we were in France!  Flush light @ fireplace ceiling  is  out.   Glass table – legs! Glass table legs are a menace. First off, our person with sprained ankle stubbed her toe on it. Poor choice!  Kitchen wall  light needs baffle, I had to tape up a paper one .  Fix drywall hole  @ hall heater.  Entry lock fix is a mess. Looks like someone was breaking in.  Change small tank Water heater for an on-demand unit. Much more efficient & unlimited hot water.   Mark the light switches , I usually put yellow stickys on all of them..
  PARIS --  Fix THE coffee pot! This same pot was broken since last year. Useable but hard to do and just a drip maker. Mark light switches. (See above).  Sconce @ ext. wall out? Worked once.  How to turn on cooktop light? & fan?  How to Open Micro Oven? Very hard & dangerous for my old hands .!  Fix patio table, edges have broken off, Pretty tacky.   Upper bath faucet loose. Show drain plugged with hair, had to clean it out, ugh.  I believe the wicker chair leg still has a nail scratching the 100 year old wood flooring from last year.   Kitchen faucet loose, needs both hands to work.
First off, give us a map of the drop off/office   + map of parking access + plan of towers. We couldn't even  find the concierge first off. When he  gave us keys, he didn't say the lock to the tower lobby was the chip, blue, that you just pass over sensor. Isn't with the unit key. Parking was  confused as we didn't know where to park for the NW tower. Lots of  one way streets in Seattle. stop, unload at office first? From garage take the tenant elevator, not public one. etc.  some vertical blinds are broken. Dining table is too high by about 2”.  Deck door needs new rollers, Herculian task to operate. Toilet paper, move to front of cabinet where one could reach it. Toaster is broken on right side

How about a few clothes hangers?  6 would be fine for 5 people.  BR lamp switch off or not working,  Kitchen microwave hood light nonfunctional .  Blinds too heavy to operate. No chair on deck.   Disposal is missing rubber baffles. toilet seat is loose. Location of toilet paper holder is very hard to use. How about on wall next to door in front of toilet?
Dining table is too high, 36", high chairs same.24" Use normal heights for both and get a new “Decorator”.And by the way, a carpet under a dining table is a nuisance.
GOOD POINTS  -  The wood & steel LR tables of rough wood are great design.

My VACATION  this year was based on four items;(1). Visit my son, Zaidi, a builder in Eugene, (2) Visit the scene of the crime; my Alma Mater, The University of Washington in Seattle, where I graduated from Architectural School 65 years ago. I wanted to verify that they had received two of my publications;; 'HILLSIDE HOMES & THE EDUCATION OF AN ARCHITECT;'. I had never been able to get thru to a person or on a website to verify this.(3)Visit Western Wood Structures, who will be fabricating a 72'  dome for a project of mine  in Wisconsin, (ISHA or The Institute for the development of Human Awareness).(4) I forgot.
My four books

  Meeting the owner, Steve, and the structural Engineer Paul for the first time as we have been conversing for over a year by e-mail, I toured their facility which was pretty impressive as they have erected some very incredible works such as the 500' diameter Tacoma Dome, the recently finished Cathedral in Oakland and other projects around the world (China, etc.). Once they get a job , they source out the materials; Timber & Glu-Lam beams from various fabricators, Steel suppliers who make up the very complex connectors for the domes & such, then cut, drill all members using some unusual equipment, such as a drill press that drills beams from two side at once, assuring a straight bolt hole. Large bandsaw that is on wheels in order to move around really big members too large to move around.  Plus a heavy duty forklift that picks up material from the side (the first I've seen) in order to move long timbers around. Once all is cut, drilled it all gets trucked to the site along with a Foreman & crew to assemble the structure.  Their VARAX Dome stands for Variable Angle . This dome is structurally made of moment  frames instead of axial connections like a Fuller Dome, thereby making it much stronger when loaded un-symmetrically (like snow or wind).  I was assured that while there are 12 sides to the base, only 6 sides need to be shear panels, and an occasional  double door in these would be no problem.     Once  Paul has done the structural calculations, the fabrication should take about 8 weeks, then allow a week for truck delivery to Wisconsin.

Similar Dome