Saturday, June 25, 2016


When joy wanted to see Pisa I rebelled and wanted to know why I should want to see another architect’s failure but was voted down and we eventually visited it about 3 times. I was appalled when I first glimpsed the lean of it but was intrigued by the efforts to stop it from falling over and crushing a few dozen pilgrims on and around the tower.
Begun in 1173 , it initially leaned to the North,  it was finished in 1292, by then it was leaning South. By 1350 it was out of plumb by 1.4 METERS.  But by 1993 it was 5.4 METERS. That’s about 15 feet for you Americans (U.S. anyway).
  By 1990, the Italians formed The Consorzio Progetto Torre di Pisa to straighten it a bit. They hired M. Jarnolkiwski, Pofessor of Engineering at Turin University to run the show.  They shook loose 30 million Euros to work on it for Eleven years. They used basically three combined systems; 1) Wrap the tower at the waist and tie it back over another building to a giant tripod tower that held the cables with a huge lead weight to hold it (the tower)  up, 2) They drilled diagonal holes under the North side and extract the soil ( it’s really just clay-sand) to create voids. 3) To assist this, they loaded a huge  pile of lead ingots (750 tons) on the north edge, as well as some deep wells to extract some of the water lying around. They have some future plans to drill down some cables to set anchors into the deep sand.
  Anyway, after all this work was done it pulled the tower back 2.6 mm . That’s about one inch!  But they have hopes it will move back another inch in the near future.  One interesting fact about all this is no one wants the tower to be vertical, as they sell 4 million tickets a year now to walk up to the top where Galileo was dropping stuff off for his experiments.  See some phots I’ve been able to take thru the construction fence.
With all the brau Hau about the tower, the old cathedral hasn’t gotten much press but it has a wonderful old timber roof inside and a very notable wedge of stone in the sides to straighten it up to finish the roof. 
Drilling Under

Lead weights

1.       Archaic;  a crusty, ill tempered ,  churlish old man
2.       Modern;  anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

I’m still trying to understand our political system but it may be beyond my understanding forever. However, here are a few tid-bits to chew on when considering to take part in this system. Most call it a Democracy but it is supposed to be a Republic.  The difference is who is supposed to represent you, I think.
AMERICA , USA  (Researched thanks to Jon Stewarts’ ‘America’)
There’s a lot of noise regarding the next election in about a year, so let’s take a look at our mysterious Political System;
The House has two chambers, called  Congress   (Bi-cameral, which means two rooms)
House of Representatives    
   “Lower House” (The Rif-Raf)   Based on population , I think about one rep per 30,000 citizens, men, women, kids, blacks)  Re-elected usually every two years.
Senate  or  Upper House  , 2 reps per State,  get re-elected every  six years.
Since the Lobbyists actually run this country, let’s see where the money comes from.
Lobbyists   $$ in 2004 (In Millions!)
Greenpeace                 2 million
NRA guns                    4
NAACP                         ?
Labor Unions               90!
Merck/Lilly                  26!! (Drugs!)
Christians                    ?( May be irrelevant as all Republicans are rabid Christians)
Planned Parents          2.6
Hollywood                   37
AARP                           102!
Legal ABA                    112!! Wow

ELECTORIAL COLLEGE Does anyone really understand how this works?  I keep trying to make sense of it, but just don’t get it.
435 reps? Based on population? Plus   100 Senators?  For instance, California has about 55 Electorial College people. Who are they? Who picks them?  Sometimes they elect a Prez over the Popular Voters. (Like Bush?).
You probably know by now that whenever we rent an apartment in Europe or U.S. I have to send the Owner a DEFICIENCY LIST, or all the things I believe was wrong with the place. Joy thinks this is stupid but please read the definition of Curmudgeon above.
It goes like this;
First off a map of the drop off/office   + map of parking access + plan of towers. We couldn't 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. stop, unload at 1200 first? From garage take the tenant elevator, not public one. etc.
blinds          table too high           deck door needs new rollers       toilet paper, move to front
toaster is broken on right side

PORTLANDIA , Apartment deficiency list for Portland .
How about a few clothes hangers 6 would be fine
BR lamp switch off ,
kitchen microwave 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", chairs same.24" Use normal heights for both. 30" table, 18" chairs.
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 several items;  Visit my son, Zaidi, a builder in Eugene, OR, 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. Third; to visit Western Wood Structures, who will be fabrication a 72'  dome for a project in Wisconsin, ISHA or The Institute for the Study  of Human Awareness. Fourth; I forgot.
  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' Tacoma Dome, the recently finished Cathedral of Christ the Light 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.


Vsrex Dome Structure

If any of you go to Italy you will encounter the mysterious names of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. This is merely an enlarged version of the Hatfields and the McCoys., as they have been fighting since the 12th century.  Let me clarify it for you. The Guelphs (I still don’t know how to pronounce it) who generally came from wealthy mercantile families, supported the Pope, while the Ghibellines (I still don’t know how to pronounce it) where wealth was based on large agricultural estates. Florence was basically Ghibelline, while Siena was Guelph. They managed to keep the wars going into the 13 & 14th centuries. Must have been good for business. You will find peculiar crenelations on some castles but you can tell that they were Ghibellines if they used the “Swallow tail” type instead of the regular up and down type.