Re: Design

1

I've never understood the processes schools use to assign final exam periods. They always seem needlessly complicated and confusing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 1:18 PM
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Tell me about it! And my school keeps the chart on the intranet in a weird folder where you can never find it!


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 5:07 PM
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Tell me about it! And my school keeps the chart on the intranet in a weird folder where you can never find it!


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 5:07 PM
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Sorry bout the double post!


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 5:09 PM
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basic administrative tasks for a group are often pretty complicated both socially and in the demands they place on software (is there a way to say "not Thurday, I'd prefer Tuesday?"). Even well intentioned people who can identify incorrect choices and usually manage to avoid them will have a hard time using MS tools to help a group communicate-- SharePoint anyone?

Computer training for admins is absolutely worthwhile, but just throwing an engineer at someone who is kind of lost is not the best way.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:21 PM
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What's wrong with having the exam be at the regular class time? You already know the students are free then, and it's easy and convenient. No need for a stupid system with boxes and columns. Class meets at 8 am, exam is at 8 am. Done.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:41 PM
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I've wondered 6 too. It would be one thing if there were some requirement that the exams be at a different time, but IME professors often give the final during the last regular class session anyway and don't bother with the exam time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:46 PM
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The usual problem with the plan in 6 is exams that are longer than a normal class meeting. When I was in undergrad, at least, final exams were in three-hour time slots, and were usually made to take at least two hours of that.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:46 PM
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9

Ah, that does make sense. I'm not sure what the benefit is to having exams that last that long, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:48 PM
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10

If you want a cumulative final, 50 minutes just isn't long enough to cover the whole course.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:54 PM
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Fair enough.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:58 PM
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12

It probably varies a lot by discipline too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 6:59 PM
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12: Probably. CS/math exams tended to be longer than a regular course session. Or, for the more esoteric math, they'd be take-home exams, which meant they were your life for an entire weekend.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 7:09 PM
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The few math and physics classes I took scheduled mid-terms outside of class hours - usually at night - so they could be longer than a normal class period.

History classes often did final papers or take home exams instead of midterms, and I started to avoid ones that didn't do exams because I fucking hate writing bullshit papers that invariably take more time than a 2 or 3 hour exam.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 7:37 PM
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Oh my god, Heebie U has the dumbest longstanding internal arguments on this exact point.
Science profs: we want to give 3 hour final exams.
Humanities: we want to have big papers due, but we don't care about a final exam.
Science: we feel undermined if you guys cancel your final exams, because then students come to us and say, "But you're my only final and I want to leave early!"
Me: who gives a fuck? Tell the student whatever you feel like telling the student.
Science:...and so we're gong to have a rule about mandatory final exams.
Humanities: What does that even mean? How do you make a final exam mandatory in every class?
Science: You require attendance, and a rule that no exam given the last week of class can be worth more than 30% of the semester grade.
Everybody: oh great! This discussion has a sensible use of our time. Comity!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 7:57 PM
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Another dumb wrinkle in this is that my graduate school used to reassign classrooms, not just exam time. So everyone was scrambling to find a new room in a new building. The idea was that everyone needed extra space to take exams, or something? But how on earth is all that space available for finals, and not for the semester itself? Why do finals need more space than classroom activities?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 7:59 PM
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It doesn't surprise me at all that the process in 15 is how these decisions get made.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 7:59 PM
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For the record, I do give 3 hour comprehensive final exams, per 10 and 13.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:02 PM
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Why do finals need more space than classroom activities?

We had mandatory Blue Books for exams. They were 18" x 30".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:06 PM
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16: Doesn't apply to American colleges, but we had reassigned classrooms as well in at the pre-tertiary levels in Narnia. Because to prevent cheating there had to be an empty desk between each student, so bigger classrooms were required.


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:19 PM
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Classroom reassignment makes some sense to me; plenty of classrooms were set up for lectures and were relatively weak for doing a lot of writing or spreading out any reference material. A couple of athletic facilities were usually taken over during exam week and filled with widely-spaced large desks.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:24 PM
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22

There's lots of space in McMansions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:27 PM
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23

At my undergraduate university, there was a rule that one couldn't have more than three finals in 24 hours, so the schedule was designed in part to avoid that. Plus, multiple sections of larger courses like chemistry all held the same final at once, so having finals blocks was necessary.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:33 PM
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24

24 hour take-hime finals solve all problems -- no need to schedule rooms, and you can grade fewer finals because many students pass out, give up in despair, or kill themselves.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:39 PM
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25

That would result in grade inflation because you'd have to give As to all their roommates.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:41 PM
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26

Only if you don't count posthumous grades in the averages.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 8:47 PM
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27

To avoid skewing the averages, everyone whose roommate tries to commit suicide but fails gets an F.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 9:06 PM
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20, 21 are true in my experience. Also some massive first-year classes were actually too big for their lecture venues: people standing, sitting in aisles, etc.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 9:10 PM
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One of my least favorite finals memories was coming in on a Saturday, something like three weeks after the end of classes and one week after my previous final, to take an exam in the second-to-last finals slot on the calendar, in a gym where they'd set up a bunch of cheap folding tables.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 9:11 PM
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And the schedule described in OP sounds as if it would be fine if someone taught your scheduler how to tell Excel to export that table as an alphabetical list.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 9:13 PM
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15--it's the exact same process at my school! Except exams are 2 hours long. You don't have to give an exam but you have to meet during the exam time to do something.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 08-13-16 10:13 PM
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When I was a TA they required finals be proctored by random people who were not the TAs because they only wanted supervisors who didn't know the material, so they couldn't inadvertently give some clue to a student who asked as question during the exam.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 1:16 AM
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On housing design- the AirBNB we're staying in now is what I would call "early 21st century Russian oligarch." It's trying to be fancy- sun king decor all over, beams painted metallic gold, seashell-embedded toilet seat, it does have a nice view over the valley- but under the facade of wealth is a bunch of crap that doesn't work. And I think the owner actually is a Russian oligarch which is why I thought of it- the cable box language was set to Russian, the person won't tell us their real name or communicate with us directly, only through the house management service, and a bunch of stuff in the description was quite misleading (only 100 meters to the bus stop! We walked it, actually 750, although 100 might be the vertical distance.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 1:23 AM
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Also a sauna and a tanning bed. But last night the toilets stopped flushing because they're not getting any water and it sounds like something is wrong with the water pump, which I guess is a different source than the potable water since that still works- I have to manually fill the tank every time we want to flush.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 1:28 AM
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35

34: you know who else had terrible problems with Russian tanks?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 2:35 AM
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Actually I will be imagining the owner as Russian oligarch Urpleov from now on. "I cannot understand! Now toilet does not empty. Perhaps is problem with vent? Connected to clothes dryer?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 2:55 AM
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37

35 is making me see Operation Uranus in a whole new light.



Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 3:00 AM
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38

I want to apologize to the blog for 37.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 3:24 AM
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39

I wouldn't mind the humanities not having finals, but it makes me mad that they don't have classes on Friday, and so people don't go to their other classes on Fridays.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 4:30 AM
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McMansions have all that articulation because without it they'd just be barns. Bigger than anyone can sensibly use*, and - for many people - also bigger than psychologically comfortable. I don't really care that much about the design incontinence - all those roof junctions give the carpenters something to do - but the environmental implications are not great.

*I admit that I'd like a bigger house (apartment) than I have but am also aware that beyond a certain size, time is lost just padding around the place in your socks wondering where you left your shoes, and other similar situations.


Posted by: Charlie W | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 4:49 AM
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My childhood home was torn down to put up a McMansion with 9 bedrooms and an elevator. I think they left one interior wall from the original house so they could claim it was a renovation for tax purposes. Assholes.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 5:09 AM
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42

Jammies and I keep musing about finding a bigger house (in a less flood-prone neighborhood). I think we won't - renting a storage unit for two decades is still much cheaper than buying a bigger house - but I do sometimes envy.

Our house is not small - a little under 2000 sq ft, with some mezzanine and attic storage - but it's not exactly big for what we've got going on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 5:53 AM
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43

35 through 37 was great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 5:56 AM
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42: I grew up in a family the same size as your family. Our house was that size also, but we had a simpler life so space wasn't a problem. Either that or having a full basement in addition to the upstairs made a big difference.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:00 AM
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45

That was me again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:01 AM
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46

The full basement thing is the very thing that I lusted after most, in the tony Denver suburbs! So much space!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:04 AM
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47

And closets. I really wish for a luxury closet instead of a totally normal sized one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:05 AM
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42- ours is 1500. We just made the bedrooms really small so they each have their own room. The place we're renting the next six months is actually significantly bigger even though it's right in the middle of the city, ~1900 sq ft.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:07 AM
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49

We used to ride Big Wheels in our basement. It was two big rooms with doors on each end.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:15 AM
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50

In law school exams were as long as the number of hours per week that the course met. So a class that was combining a years worth of material into one semester and met 4 times a week had a 4 hour exam (or was it 5?) Most were 2 or 3.


Posted by: BG | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:21 AM
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48: Just to be a show-off, we do have one more person than you.

Our kids are still all sharing one room, so our communal living area is totally a reasonable size. Eventually their room can be subdivided into two tiny rooms.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:25 AM
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52

How do you get them to sleep?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:28 AM
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53

Drugs.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 6:45 AM
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54

Maybe our house was bigger. Four bedrooms (one captive and used as an office), living room, family room, kitchen, dining room, dinette, laundry room, front entry room, mudroom, and 2.5 bathrooms.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 7:18 AM
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Four different colors of shag carpeting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 7:19 AM
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We've got two big open areas: one with kitchen/adult sitting area/dining room, and the other with kid art table/TV area/laundry machine and dryer/Jammies' desk. Then there are three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Plus a mezzanine and attic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 9:59 AM
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Our place is 1100, but that doesn't include the basement, which is fully finished. Three bedrooms, but in typical midcentury Utah style part of the basement had been carved up into more bedrooms, which are now, after we moved some walls around, an office and a spare bedroom.

Shiv daydreams about moving to a bigger place but I have no interest in being house poor, especially because we could conceivably pay off this place in the next five years, and also all I can see in a bigger house is more surfaces to be covered with Duplo.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 10:38 AM
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58

Duplo is probably a more durable building material than many other options.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 11:02 AM
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59

Hard to insulate, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 11:11 AM
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Just fill the top half with spray-in foam.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 11:15 AM
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especially because we could conceivably pay off this place in the next five years,

Wow! To pay off the bank in the next five years! At the risk of sounding like Dave Ramsey, that's financial freedom. That's worth more than another bedroom or bathroom, or even a luxury closet (like heebie, I sometimes long for one of those spacious walk-in closets that are always being featured on HGTV).

Our place (built in 1927) began as a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom house. At some point (early 90s?), the attic was converted to a bedroom, with ensuite bathroom. As a bedroom, the space is unusually large (except by McMansion standards) but quirky, and not necessarily quirky in a good way. The closets are long but narrow, and with an attic slope. More crawl-in than walk-in, really.

We're currently doing a crazy house remodelling project: gut reno of the kitchen; and building on an addition of family room, main-floor half-bathroom, and mudroom. Also finishing the new basement (under the new family room and new mudroom), but decided against finishing the existing basement (because we figure our storage space doesn't really need drywall and nice flooring).


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 4:37 PM
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62

The McMansions blog is great. Good spot.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-16 11:08 PM
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63

The McMansions blog post seemed... maybe obtuse is the word? I mean, I can totally believe that it aptly summarizes what annoys architects and landscapers about McMansions. But those two industries make up roughly 1 percent of the population. However, McMansions annoy roughly 95 percent of the population. (Not those who own them or people who aspire to, of course.) IMO most people aren't annoyed by McMansions because they don't have the right proportion of masses to voids or don't obey the principle of balance or whatever, they're annoyed because of how the blogger put it in passing in a more recent post: they are proof that "rich people have more money than taste."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 6:10 AM
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64

I don't mind that rich people have more money than taste, I'm just upset that they are expressing bad taste in such banal ways.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 6:17 AM
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65

Gold plate a bird bath, put it in the front lawn, and install a fountain in it, you worthless fucks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 6:20 AM
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66

65: Was that a homage to Tigre?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 6:46 AM
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67

I'm just suggestible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 6:47 AM
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63: I think I disagree slightly. I think a lot of people, even if they don't talk about masses and voids, know that they dislike McMansions in part because McMansions are ugly, though they can't always express why they think they are ugly, and that blog is rather good at explaining what makes us think buildings ugly.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:04 AM
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63 articulates something I couldn't put my finger on. I mean, my own house, from the outside, is sort of terrible architecturally, but it's not annoying like a McMansion.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:04 AM
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I actually erased a paragraph in the OP where I said something like, "A McMansion neighborhood full of recent refugees and people down on their luck who had somehow been gifted the neighborhood would strike us as sweet and charming, so it's clearly our projections of the inhabitants that annoy us."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:06 AM
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71

Though it does do a lot of asserting. Why is the rule of thirds a good rule, for instance?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:07 AM
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72

It's from the aesthetics of trees on the veldt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:09 AM
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Second 68. 71: I think the cog-sci best guess at this point is that we like things obeying classical laws because it's easier for our brains to process them. Hence all the symmetry, similarities.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:11 AM
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Or, 72.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:12 AM
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63: But voids and masses and whatever are what makes them low-taste. We don't complain (or at least, not because of taste) when rich people buy brownstones.

My house is kind of ugly but I want to think it's charming in a weird 1970s way. I was raised in what I call a McMansion, but it didn't have any gaudy masses or what not that the article is using as criteria. It was just a big suburban house, built to a cookie-cutter plan (I've seen identical houses in other developments) with an additional garage built on afterwards. I guess 1980s suburbia wasn't quite as tacky as 2000s suburbia.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:16 AM
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My hangup is often that the trees all get knocked down to build and so there are these giant houses with dinky little shrubs around them and it's just so sad. But my new house has no trees (well, a mulberry sort of stuck in the back fence) and I'll be getting a street tree this fall, so maybe I shouldn't talk.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:17 AM
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77

I hear poplars grow like weeds.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:18 AM
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78

What's a street tree? Like, the city is putting one in along the curb?

I wish we had trees in our backyard, but the neighborhood on the whole has mature trees. Not the grandest, prettiest trees - Pokey had a monologue recently about how he likes neighborhoods that are in a forest, and I think he was distinguishing tall pretty trees versus scrappy hackberries - but pretty enough.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:23 AM
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The worst neighborhoods for tree preservation aren't the mcmansion neighborhoods but the new cheap-o tracts. Those are just desolate and depressing. I project the inhabitants to be far less annoying, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:25 AM
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The hill behind our house is covered in trees, but, with one or two exceptions, they're only 40 years old.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:26 AM
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Pokey had a monologue recently about how he likes neighborhoods that are in a forest

Totally agree, Pokey!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:30 AM
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78: Yeah, blasting out a square of sidewalk in that space that comes up in dialect surveys but I sure don't call devil's strip or anything else and then putting a tree in it. The city will do the blasting (via jackhammer) and a grant will pay for part of the tree and the girls and I will be part of the citywide planting effort because it's fun.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:31 AM
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I hate our shitty sidewalks which are super narrow and have no curbstrip and can't accommodate the mailboxes which they moved from sensible locations at the bottom of everyone's driveway to the middle of everyone's front curb, thus making it impossible for kids to learn to ride their bikes, and people carrying tubes pop their tubes on the mailboxes or switch to the street to avoid doing so, and now the mail carriers get pissy about people parking in front of the mailboxes. It all makes me irate!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:35 AM
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Our mail comes right up to our house, but we don't really have many people carrying tubes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:37 AM
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How often do people carry tubes?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:38 AM
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86

Oh, wait, you mean inner tubes, don't you.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:38 AM
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87

I was thinking arbitrary cylinders.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:39 AM
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77: It has to be something that will fit under phone/electrical wires, but they have some good options. I'm really looking forward to it and being part of the tree-planting effort these past few years has been rewarding!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:40 AM
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The tubes that the internet flow through?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:46 AM
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90

On the 4th of July, we had company, and we all sat and watched the hilarious parade of super drunk people stumbling around with their tubes. One poor soul spent about ten minutes trying to put his flip flop on while standing up, until he finally sat down to do it, and we all cheered him on (from inside the house). Another guy ran right next to our window to urinate on our neighbor's house, about five feet away.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:47 AM
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91

Expect this to be mentioned next time you say "Heebieville is totally an ok place to live, really!"


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:51 AM
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92

Those aren't drawbacks! It's just...relaxed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:56 AM
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93

Yeah I'm not seeing the downside of 90.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:57 AM
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94

If you're drunk it's really easy to hit the wrong house, especially at such short distances.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 7:59 AM
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The super drunk people stumbling around with tubes are going to walk to the nearest bus stop or hop in a car and drive past your house?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:00 AM
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They're walking back up to the top of the river, either to go down again, or to the parking lot there, where I don't want to think about it anymore.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:01 AM
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71: I think the rule of thirds has something to do with establishing a relationship between the primary subject and the background or secondary subjects. Also, if the subject is centered, the background is fragmented, whereas an offset subject can reveal the background as a gestalt type of thing. I've heard it described as making images more "dynamic". Not sure if I buy that.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:06 AM
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94 but then you just yell "move it, you fucking prick!" while chucking your own beer can at them and it's all part of the charm.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:11 AM
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Eh, I'd admit that 63 was kind of begging the question. (How do I know the owners lack taste? Because the houses are ugly in those pictures. Why are they ugly? Because they had bad ratios and too many secondary passes and stuff.)

Still though, I'd say that the defining trait of a McMansion as most people understand the term isn't ugliness, but being both overly ostentatious and bland. This isn't a McMansion, even though its windows are inconsistent and its secondary mass is nearly as big as the main mass. It was originally an actual mansion that has been renovated a lot and used in different ways since then. This isn't a McMansion, even though there's no symmetry, rhythm, or proportion to it and no two visible parts are alike. It looks more like a spaceship or 3D puzzle than a house, but as a piece of art or a backdrop for a photo, it looks perfectly pretty.

I would call the "26 total voids" house in the McMansions 101 post a McMansion not because it has too many windows, but because it has gray brick walls and a tile roof just like a small quaint cottage, but it's about four times the size of anything that's small and quaint. This is a McMansion, even though it doesn't seriously violate any of the principles in that article. It's a bit weird how there's glass on one side of the door but not the other so it's a little unbalanced, but not too much as far as I can tell. There's clearly one primary and two secondary masses, there are a lot of voids but fewer than some of the "good" mansions in the McMansion 101 post have, there aren't too many different types of windows or columns, the columns holding up the porch/cupola/whatever are in proportion. (If JRoth or someone else wants to say that I missed a ton of problems with that house, fair enough, I'll bow out, IANAExpert.) But I'd still call it a McMansion because no single family could both need and afford a house that big, if they did they wouldn't need it so complicated, and it's not like the compexity serves any design requirements or unique vision, it's just showing off.

The stuff in 90 sounds normal to me. We find it annoying, because it implies worse stuff that we can't see and because it's a reminder that that house is vacant and needs a ton of work, but the drinking itself isn't too annoying. (The peeing, yeah, I'll state an opinion and say don't do it outdoors 5 feet from my house.) But I live in a rowhouse in a city. I imagine dealing with drunk loiterers as one of the costs of living in a city. You have to put up with it without even getting the benefits of city life, whatever they are.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:15 AM
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the "26 total voids" house

You mean heebie's neighbor?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:17 AM
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I may be unusually tolerant of/willing to holler at drunk tubers because of congenital Oklahomism. This is also probably the reason that despite loving dogs I have a very low threshold for "when it's ok to shoot someone else's dog"


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:23 AM
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Nobody yells at me. I haven't had too much to drink.


Posted by: Opinionated Potato | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:25 AM
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Before 96 I thought "popping tubes" must be some kind of drug reference.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:28 AM
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Also I agree with everything in 99. Except for the jab against Heebieville in the last sentence.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:31 AM
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Speaking of grading, how assholish is it to put proofreading written communications more carefully in a performance evaluation? Mainly applied to communications outside the office (i.e. correspondence with the general public). It feels petty for a formal review, but has been mentioned by others.


Posted by: non-university president | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:36 AM
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105 is it something that was raised with the reviewed person outside the context of the review + person was given a chance to improve/appropriate assistance? In that case I think totally non-assholish, and I say this as someone who's never spelled a word right in her life.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:41 AM
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If your job involves communicating with the general public, proofreading is absolutely critical. I'd definitely mention it in a review if someone was consistently bad at it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:42 AM
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Is it assholish to point out that 105 was difficult for me to parse?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:44 AM
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If you don't want to put it in the review another appropriate consequence is shooting their dog.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:44 AM
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Also counterpart to 106 is that if it hasn't been raised directly with the bad proofreader in a lower-stakes setting, yes putting it in a review is a legit dick move.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:47 AM
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100: It took me way too long to figure that joke out.

104: I actually don't remember how urban your neighborhood is - I assumed it was rural-to-suburban (biggish houses, walkable to a river park, but everyone has to drive everywhere else), but the fact that a neighbor's house is 5 feet from yours, per 90, makes me wonder. And I realize people weight the benefits of city life differently; I'm sure some people would be horrified to live where I do. All I'm saying is, sometimes I imagine living somewhere I wouldn't have to put up with that, and it's disillusioning to find out that the grass isn't always greener in the other type of neighborhood. So to speak.

105: If it's a recurring problem with someone in a public-facing job, it's almost definitely worth mentioning. Internal correspondence, or less than one minor typo in fewer than 5 percent of e-mails, probably not worth it.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:48 AM
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Mentioned, but very recently. It's something they just started doing.

108: Put it in my review.


Posted by: non-university president | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:49 AM
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I'm been leaning towards not.


Posted by: non-university president | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:51 AM
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112 If mentioned but not had an opportunity to change yet, I think it's unnecessary & a bit sour to put it in this review cycle as an unvarnished negative; if necessary maybe something like "human x has been receptive to feedback about improving attention to detail and has identified this as an area for improvement in coming year."


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:56 AM
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113 is great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:56 AM
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One consideration, if you want to support this person but they are a known typo-ist, is that gently acknowledging the negatives gives the positive parts of your review more credibility. I think it's good practice to explain to the person that it's going to be in their review and why if you do that.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 8:59 AM
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104: I actually don't remember how urban your neighborhood is - I assumed it was rural-to-suburban (biggish houses, walkable to a river park, but everyone has to drive everywhere else),

Most of the houses in our neighborhood are under 1500 square foot range, I think. Ours was 1200 before we added on. There are a lot of duplexes and some very small houses. I'm not sure the lot size, but proportional to the houses.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 9:01 AM
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114, 116: Thanks. I've written something along the lines of "accepting feedback and improving" already, and it seems like enough for this review period, especially since we talked typos and word choice in person. I haven't written any reviews here so don't have a sense of what's considered "grade inflation" and what's normal. There's a numerical component and I'd hate to give someone a rating that looks positive on paper but everyone interprets as hugely negative. This person's performance has been overall very good.


Posted by: non-university president | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 9:16 AM
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118 honestly you can't go wrong with giving the second-highest rating until you figure out institutional culture in more detail. This sounds flip but is entirely sincere.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 9:21 AM
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I say this as someone who's never spelled a word right in her life.

I can't figure out who wrote these words.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 9:24 AM
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Cretan paradox.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 9:26 AM
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Appearing here in its lesser-known Mycenaean variant.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 10:29 AM
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a McMansion is a house that is big just to be expensive just to keep the riff-raff out of the neighborhood just to keep the composition of the schools homogeneous.

Zoning rules are usually written with minimum house size, not minimum quality specs. So to create minimum mortgage spend requirements, you end up with 6 bedroom houses that are constructed with the same quality standards as a reasonably new condo that costs 1/4th as much. And that is visible as pointless volume. Volume that might look fine if you considered the building as a set of 3 townhouses (eg, this one from the tumbler).


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 1:26 PM
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(If JRoth or someone else wants to say that I missed a ton of problems with that house, fair enough, I'll bow out, IANAExpert.)

OK!

On the last one: there actually is glass on the right side of the front doors, you just can't see it because the pier is in the way. BUT, let's talk about what is wrong with it:

The piers are ridiculously proportioned, and the tiny, undetailed pediment on top is the piƩce de ridiculous. That the pediments doesn't extend from the main roofline/fascia makes it worse. The pavilions on either side are almost, but not quite, symmetrical, which is stupid (either mirror them or make them meaningfully different). And it's not a fluke that you misunderstood the door/glass situation: the relationship between the piers and the entry/glass is wrong, resulting in a view that fails if you're even slightly off-axis.

But here's the larger point: design isn't guesswork. This "arbitrary" rules cited by the blogger are the result of thousands of years of experimentation and reflection, and while not everyone likes the same things, there is general agreement about aesthetics, especially at the abstracted level of proportion and figure/ground. That is, you may hate neocolonial as a style, but still be able to see that Neocolonial House A is better-designed than Neocolonial House B, which your friend the neocolonial lover would agree with.

Now, for the social aspects: it's worth remembering that Gilded Age mansions were often derided as ugly and gaudy and tasteless. But nowadays, people pretty uniformly love them. Why? They're still too big for a sensible family, and they still express immoral wealth. But they were pretty uniformly designed and built by (OK) men who had been trained in timeless rules of proportion etc. McMansions will never become beloved, because virtually all of them are terribly designed. One of the blogger's examples is a 2007 house that is big and ornate and should engender envy, but nobody would scorn it as a McMansion, because it's a really lovely design.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 3:07 PM
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More:

The blogger explicitly excludes Modernist designs because they're not using any of the language of traditional design. It's not that things like proportion and massing don't matter, but they're A. used in a different way, and B. so intentionally disconnected from traditional building that hoi polloi isn't (subconsciously) judging them against the better-done designs of the past.

That is: traditional design, including McMansions, is part of a 3000-y.o., er, tradition that we're all familiar with in our bones*. When they get it wrong, we recognize that wrongness because A. it really is wrong, and B. we have enough context that the flaws are apparent even if you don't think about it much.

By contrast, Modernism has its own set of rules that are derived, in part, from the same human preferences as traditional design, but proceed differently. I'm certain that, if you took 5 Modernist designs of varying merit, you'd find hoi polloi and experts ordering them similarly, if not identically (that is, everyone would put Fallingwater at one end, your town's best 1950s architect in the middle, and some hack who only knows what he sees in Dwell magazine at the other end). However, there isn't enough familiarity with Modern design (especially residential) for people to have strong intuitions about it. When a Classical column is half the diameter it should be, we've all seen enough examples, IRL and on pizzeria placemats, to spot that immediately; but when a simple square, steel column on a Modern house should have been 6" but is instead 4", you need a certain eye to identify that as a flaw.

*worth noting here that, before WW2, even the humblest construction was informed by this tradition; you didn't need to be raised surrounded by fine architecture to have an intuitive feel for it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 3:16 PM
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To risk a ban:

If somebody screws up mac & cheese, you don't need a lot of culinary training to complain, because you know what it "should be", even though mac & cheese isn't only one thing. Sometimes it might just be a general dissatisfaction because the noodles were gummy and the cheese was bland or like melted mozzarella instead of a cheese sauce or whatever. Other times, there's just a shitty cook (maybe he knows burgers but not casseroles) who royally fucks it up with 1 tsp. of salt in each bite, and you don't need to know what mac & cheese is supposed to be to understand that this is bad.

Modernist design is like, well, Modernist cuisine, where you can't fall back on familiarity to judge, but you can say that every dish is heavy on bitter flavors, or there's 10X too much salt, or whatever. But there's enough de gustibus that you may simply have different tastes from the cook.

But McMansions aren't trying to break the rules or push the envelope or whatever. They're resolutely in the traditionalist vein, just done very, very, very badly.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 3:24 PM
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Which leads to the question of, Why have they proliferated if everyone inherently is repulsed by them?

I don't know if the answer is capitalism or neoliberalism, but it's definitely one of them.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 3:25 PM
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OK, but seriously, my answer is this:

1. Post-WW2 home construction broke our connection to traditional forms. This happened for a variety of reasons, but if you compare, say, a neocolonial house built in 1935 with one from 1955, the former looks better in all sorts of ways: better-proportioned windows, nicer wood moldings, and...

2. Garages fucked up suburban architecture. They're almost impossible to integrate well into a 2000 sq ft house, but they were an undeniable status symbol. So you had decades in which people, for sound social reasons, preferred ugly-ass houses because the status of a 2- (and later 3- and 4-) car garage outweighed anything. This further "broke" our aesthetic judgment.

3. Postwar suburban design randomly mashed together elements of traditional and Modern design in a way that sometimes worked, but mostly created bad design. However, this design was new, and associated with good things, and so it got established. Unlike fashion, which cycles every couple decades, and in which the clothing itself doesn't (much) outlast its period of stylishness, houses--even shitty suburban ones--last 30+ years. So, while a postwar suburb may grow unfashionable and less desirable, the houses are still there, screwing up our aesthetic sense (imagine 20-30% of adult men wearing leisure suits through the 2000s; they'd warp the general sense of what's OK to wear. Or cargo shorts).

4. McMansion style developed gradually; I recall a NorCal friend in school circa 1993 telling me about how the latest thing out there was houses with gable-upon-gable, pointless (and expensive) roof ridges 4" apart. At the time, it was laughable, and less than 10 years later it was ubiquitous nationwide. It's basically a boiling frog situation.

It's a cohesive story in my mind; I'm not sure I've spelled it out clearly enough.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 3:38 PM
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Oh, and 123 is pretty much right on every front.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-15-16 3:39 PM
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Bletchley Park, by the way, is quite a good example of a McMansion avant la lettre: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bletchley_Park#/media/File:Bletchley_Park_-_Draco2008.jpg


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:03 AM
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That looks like one house with wings transplanted from two others. Wartime exigency, or just bad taste?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 6:41 AM
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128 is interesting. A lot of Roc architecture is weird. Essentially all of it is postwar concrete boxes, but they always have detailing like I've seen nowhere else, even in pictures.
Like the roof will have a big fake arch and fanlight on the roof above the main entrance.
Then there's a whole school I've called faux-Disney. Again concrete box, but the details I can only explain as trying to make the thing lok more like a Disney castle. Random pointy roofs and cupolas and stuff.
The brand new stuff is all cookie-cutter tower blocks, but with a lot of traditional detailing and stone veneers and stuff. They're individually quite handsome, but they're all the same. I've seen the a handful of designs dozens of times.
I'll post pictures to the pool if someone tells me how.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 6:54 AM
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You have to believe in yourself. That's all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 6:56 AM
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If 123 is true, the solution is clear: more follies.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 6:56 AM
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They're almost impossible to integrate well into a 2000 sq ft house, but they were an undeniable status symbol. So you had decades in which people, for sound social reasons, preferred ugly-ass houses because the status of a 2- (and later 3- and 4-) car garage outweighed anything

I suppose they are a status symbol, but garages are actually very useful especially if you live in a place with a cold climate. This is coming from a homeowner that doesn't even have a driveway.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 6:59 AM
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We have a garage. It's pretty nice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:01 AM
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I have not has a garage as an adult. A few of the houses I looked at had garages that weren't attached, which would be nice in terms of having a place to lock myself away surrounded by books and yarn but useless for keeping bags of groceries out of the rain. This was a debate Lee and I had in looking for houses (she cared about keeping her car cute) which I won and then won again by breaking up with her and moving again.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:04 AM
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Many people on our street have no off-street parking. I'm too old to have to fight for a parking spot with graduate students and elderly Russians.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:05 AM
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I have no off-street parking either, but there's enough space between our house and the next to keep a street hockey goal, which is sufficient for my needs.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:07 AM
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That looks like one house with wings transplanted from two others. Wartime exigency, or just bad taste?

The mansion at B.P. was built in the late 19th century, I think; it was only taken over by SIS in 1938. So we can't blame either war. Just bad taste.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:08 AM
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All you really need is love and a street hockey goal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:10 AM
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And a lot of people aren't too sure about the "love" thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:12 AM
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I'm sort of lusting after this house.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:13 AM
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140: It is, to be fair, less ugly than the wartime buildings around it.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:14 AM
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The house has some funny voids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:14 AM
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144: that's debatable. The Huts are just huts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bletchley_Park#/media/File:Hut-1.jpg

They aren't really beautiful or ugly. The Mansion, on the other hand, has so much wrong with it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:19 AM
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All I can think of is that cleaning those windows will be lethal. On the plus side, no painting. And I guess you have expendable labor coming up for the windows.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:26 AM
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124-128 are great JRoth.

123: The part that annoys me, when I'm looking at a design, are the rooms that are oversized without an idea for how to use the extra space. Like 6 to 8' wide hallways labeled galleries running along the front of the house. Or a 30'x40' "living room"... where the furniture layout shows basically the same furniture that floats in a 16'x20' living room, but randomly arranged.

That's where it seems like the architect just ran away with the idea of "big"... but didn't actually have a plan for those over sized rooms.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:33 AM
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Do other people clean windows regularly? I think on our first house, I cleaned them all when we were trying to sell. On this house, I've only ever cleaned the one right by the dining table.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:43 AM
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I think standards outside the Dust Bowl are higher.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:49 AM
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My windows here are frosted, and in any case only have a view of other people's windows, so washing isn't a thing. Another win for high-density urbanism.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 7:51 AM
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The part that annoys me, when I'm looking at a design, are the rooms that are oversized without an idea for how to use the extra space

If in doubt, storage, surely.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 8:03 AM
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152: or billiards table, or immense polar-projection world map.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 8:05 AM
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My new windows are double-hung (we've had this discussion before, right?) and I can turn them inward perpendicular to their normal alignment to wash them from the inside. I certainly haven't done this, but I could.

I may someday ATM how to deal with being in a shotgun-setup house and looking for private space. Having my own room across the somewhat treacherous stairs (though they've all three now proved an ability to navigate it in the middle of the night) is fantastic, but if they ever want separate rooms we'll have to find a way to not have them walking through each other's rooms but still able to get to the bathroom that's attached to the middle room of the three. Or I'll just be a tyrant and make them live with it, which is the easiest and most likely outcome.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 8:06 AM
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153. I recently had occasion to visit a beautiful late 20s Arts and Crafts house which was large but perfectly balanced, but defaced by a 3 car garage as per 128.2. However the owners or their predecessor had had the presence of mind to use the dead space at the back of said garage to install a full sized billiards table, which made the best of it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 8:23 AM
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Not sure whether to heartily endorse 153.last or run screaming since my current work involves selecting dozens of the like for very long galleries.

Also now that I have a driver's license here I'm very annoyed that someone is parked in my designated spot. Even though I haven't bought or rented a car yet.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 8:59 AM
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Garages fucked up suburban architecture. They're almost impossible to integrate well into a 2000 sq ft house

Are there any examples of this being done well? I see some houses with ramps down to a basement garage which looks, well, not as bad, though you still have a big ramp in your front garden.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:00 AM
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Those basement garages always worry me because you've got a ramp for water to run into your basement.

Obviously, the way to integrate a garage into a 2,000 square foot house is to put it in the back and have it accessed via an alley.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:03 AM
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157 Didn't Romney have a car elevator? Maybe he was just overly concerned with being tasteful.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:03 AM
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158.2: That's how it is in my sister's house in Oak Park, Illinois.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:06 AM
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I really liked Oak Park. I did a tour. We looked at Frank Lloyd Wright houses and older ones (that I liked better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:06 AM
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156: I was thinking of putting it on the floor. Or on an enormous Bond-villain-type round table.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:08 AM
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Just want to note that I really appreciate JRoth's comments here.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:08 AM
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Those basement garages always worry me because you've got a ramp for water to run into your basement.

I think water's going to get into your basement anyway. It's not Daleks.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:12 AM
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I don't think you're picturing what I'm thinking of. You usually have a yard that slopes away from the house so that rain goes off to the side. If you dig that out and input in a driveway, the water will drain toward the house.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:14 AM
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When did bolt-on garages start being a thing? In the good old days, when you climbed the ladder of success you left your town and country cars parked out in front of your fancy address.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:26 AM
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JRoth's posts were great.

Our house is a bit larger than 2k sq ft and we have the basement ramp down to the garage. Thankfully we're almost at the top of the watershed, but we did have flooding during a big storm where assorted tree crud gummed up our drains. No real damage as I got to it quickly but a bit scary.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:31 AM
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I suppose they are a status symbol, but garages are actually very useful especially if you live in a place with a cold climate. This is coming from a homeowner that doesn't even have a driveway.

Oh, of course, but I was just explaining how, instead of people wanting this useful but ugly thing hidden (or minimized), they accepted it as basically a feature, not a flaw.

It's unquestionably more expensive to build a house with a hidden/tasteful garage, so homebuilders would instead play up the value of the garage, turning a vice into a virtue.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 11:44 AM
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Garages fucked up suburban architecture. They're almost impossible to integrate well into a 2000 sq ft house...
Lies!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 11:52 AM
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And now that I've caught up, thanks everybody. I should edit that all into a post on my business FB page.

It is absolutely the case that alley-accessed garages are the only good solution, not only architecturally but also urbanistically (no driveways interrupting the sidewalk, less traffic on main streets, etc) Semi-detached is nice there, because you get a semi-enclosed indoor/outdoor space between garage and house (lots of ways to do this).

If you have to access from the front, then it's a given that the yard is blemished by a driveway, but if the drive leads to the side of the house, with a side- or rear-entry to the garage, the architecture really isn't affected. However, garages have grown (in the '50s, 20x20 was considered standard; now 24x24 is basically the minimum, and people like to have another 4-8' in front of the cars for storage and such), such that, if you put one on the side of the house as a sort of pavilion*, it's so big that it's hard to balance, and it reads pretty readily as what it is.

*picture a large, central mass of 2 stories with a smaller pavilion on either side; one is the garage, the other is a den or enclosed patio or something. If the proportions are right, it can be lovely.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 11:52 AM
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169 is wonderful.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 12:10 PM
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169 is wonderful, and I suspect that if everybody used that solution, people would drive less than they do now. . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 12:42 PM
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170: but the problem with those is you end up basically duplicating the street on the back side of the house. A front 'street' that is basically never used except for pokemoning that looks nice b/c no garages, and a back alley system that is the functional street. Which is expensive and greatly reduces density.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 1:12 PM
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The back alleys I've seen are so narrow nobody takes them for more than half a block. The street is still the street and the back alley is a shared driveway. Possibly less paving than if each house had a separate driveway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 1:22 PM
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There was a definite divide on the old street between people who parked at the back and were more friendly with people on the other side of the alley (so house number the next street over) and people who parked on the street and were more friendly with across-the-street neighbors. Familiarity breeds something or other.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 1:37 PM
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This is a typical Pittsburgh back alley in look, although it's somewhat unusual in that it intersects another alley. It's not going to replace the street.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 1:59 PM
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176 proves yet again that Pittsburgh and Cincinnati hate each other because they're exactly the same! The nice thing about having an alley was that you could keep your garbage cans right there on the alley side of the fence rather than now I have to roll mine a couple meters to the edge of the sidewalk. Also that wires could all run on the alley side, making things look nice in front. But the girl from the family behind us now walked her puppy over to say hello yesterday, and that will be fine too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 2:02 PM
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It's not going to replace the street.

Looks like someone hasn't watched My Winnipeg


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 2:06 PM
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173. Roughly all of Chicago, Saint Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland is built with alleys, even the parts with houses. Alleys for this block's cars and all garbage trucks, streets for longer distances and pedestrians.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 2:20 PM
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Also that wires could all run on the alley side, making things look nice in front.

Yes.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 2:25 PM
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The wires should go under the ground so that the lights don't go out ever time a thunderstorm rolls by or freezing rain hits.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 2:29 PM
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Much (most?) of LA is built with alleys. My particular alleyway was fenced up by the city decades ago and is a kind of DMZ-style nature preserve for weeds, but many are functional and great.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:11 PM
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Why don't you find a lawyer and get them to unfence it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:14 PM
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I dunno, it still has the powerlines and such in it and I'm hoping it will someday provide shelter for a cat-eating coyote, so I kinda like it how it is.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:18 PM
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Can you walk back there, but just not drive it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:24 PM
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Yeah, though some parts are best walked through with machete. I have a little door in my back fence to get into it and the power and sewer guys can open the city fence, but you can't drive it.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:27 PM
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Any walk is better with Machete.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:27 PM
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Vaguely on topic: I get email from a Dwell gift subscription and yeah, I'll click through on "A Weapons Factory in Budapest Becomes a Home". Unusually fabulous. Indoor pool.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:32 PM
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The pool looked kind of small.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:37 PM
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By far the best thing about being Hungarian is getting to name your kid "Attila" without it being weird.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:43 PM
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OT: I just got a plausible answer from the code I've been working on without success for three days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:45 PM
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I'll click through on "A Weapons Factory in Budapest Becomes a Home". Unusually fabulous. Indoor pool.

Slightly more information ("The top floor pool was made possible because of a concrete fire water tank that was found in the attic and converted into a pool.") at this link.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 3:54 PM
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It's a small pool, but a very big tank for whiskey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:03 PM
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It's def big enough to drown rival designers as the last stage in the four-storey tour.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:11 PM
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182: Older regions of Fresno (like mine) also had alleys and power easements. They're now frequently fenced off at the ends; garbage collection and garages run through the front. My yard is larger, as the fence between my yard and the electric company easement was removed at some point, so (for casual purposes), the easement is just part of my back yard now.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:14 PM
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You can do that in a bucket if you're quick enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:14 PM
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There's a head in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:19 PM
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Sure, but it would be tiresome to do them in one by one with a bucket, and in a factory.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:24 PM
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OT but Moby you're Nebraskan right? can you tell me whether Omaha World-Herald headlines are normally so trenchant?


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:26 PM
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Artisanally hand drowned.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:29 PM
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199: No, they are not. That's pretty great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 4:30 PM
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199 pwnd


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 5:15 PM
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!!! Great Plains Facebook moves fast. Also, that staff writer is a hero.


Posted by: Clytaemnestra Stabby | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 5:20 PM
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I missed that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 5:40 PM
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The fries are the best part of the salad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 5:56 PM
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191: That's always a great feeling, isn't it?

195: "power easement" sounds like a newer and sexier term for "adverse possession."


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 6:22 PM
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"That's odd. He usually calls the family cat a 'punk ass bitch.'"


Posted by: puzzled plains grandma | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:05 PM
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Great Plains Facebook moves fast.

Well, it is very flat. Not a lot of obstacles.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:12 PM
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206.2: or a newer and at most equally sexy term for "power bottom".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:13 PM
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It's not going to replace the street.

The street finds its own replacements for things.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 9:22 PM
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206: actually it sounds like lawyer slang for taking a particularly satisfying shit. "Sorry, I had All Bran and three cups of coffee for breakfast. I really need a power easement."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-17-16 11:15 PM
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There's a business with a big sign called "Power Liens" near my office. I was hoping it was a gym for lawyers, but it turns out it's a business that finds doctors willing to provide favorable (i.e., horrible injury caused by an accident) diagnoses for plaintiffs involved in lawsuits, in return for a lien on the settlement amount. America - where justice is served.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 12:19 AM
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But 176 is the size (give or take 2 feet and removal of some overgrown brush) that street should be in the first place, assuming this isn't a larger arterial/boulevard. I like it but look at the front

it is a giant 4 lane (2 driving, 2 parking, plus sidewalks and devil strip) road that take up as much space as the actual houses. So now you have a properly-sized street in addition to an oversized street. All to get four+ parking spots per house.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 6:44 AM
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But 176 is the size (give or take 2 feet and removal of some overgrown brush) that street should be in the first place, assuming this isn't a larger arterial/boulevard. I like it but look at the front

it is a giant 4 lane (2 driving, 2 parking, plus sidewalks and devil strip) road that take up as much space as the actual houses. So now you have a properly-sized street in addition to an oversized street. All to get four+ parking spots per house.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 6:44 AM
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You can't remove the overgrown brush. That's your heart.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 6:46 AM
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I don't know how you can measure on width on google maps, but I can assure you that alley is not wide enough to serve as a street (even a no parking one) in any place I have ever lived. And Burchfield isn't an arterial, but it was a street laid out to be a bit on the grander side of things. Most of the other streets around the area aren't that wide or have the houses so far back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 6:50 AM
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215 may be the chest tattoo I need to get so I can fit in around here.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:03 AM
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Does everybody here have tattoos? Every summer I somehow many to be shocked when I see just how everyone has tattoos.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:08 AM
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216: You can right click to pull up the distance tool. Not sure if I trust it for distances less than 100 feet, though.

213: A 30ft-wide road with on street parking isn't an arterial. With no on-street parking, and a lot of other improvements, sure. And it definitely doesn't take up as much room as the houses (45ft-ish deep) or their lots. (It's weird to me to count devil strips + sidewalks as part of the road. Those are pedestrian amenities.)

You're not North American, right?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:12 AM
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Cars get freeways, pedestrians get demonic grass.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:14 AM
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In my regional dialect we call them "where the devil beats his wife."


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:15 AM
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That's the native word for WalMart.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:16 AM
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218: No, I'm just complaining again about dating options. Which I shouldn't, because I have two dates in the next week, one of whom almost certainly doesn't have a huge chest tattoo. Plus I shouldn't be dating anyway until I get everything moved from the old house to the new one but it's too late now.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:20 AM
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Shorter 223: I am old.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:21 AM
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You're only as old as the woman with the chest tattoo you date.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:22 AM
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She's the one who's older than I am, so that works.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:25 AM
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I was going to say you're only as old as the tattoo, but that might have made her a pedophile.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:28 AM
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Most of DC has alleys like in 176/179 too. Probably not the really nice or really terrible neighborhoods, but everything in between.

173
you end up basically duplicating the street on the back side of the house. A front 'street' that is basically never used except for pokemoning that looks nice b/c no garages, and a back alley system that is the functional street. Which is expensive and greatly reduces density.

Eh, reduces density compared to what? If you removed the alleys but left everything else the same, people would still want cars - bus routes exist here but aren't great and not everyone can arrange their lives around not having a car the way I have - but now they wouldn't have any place to park them. That would suck.

My house specifically is kind of weird. Most houses on my block have a backyard, access to an alley you can drive through, and a garage or at least a parking space in between. Mine, however, doesn't. We're close enough to the end of the block that houses on the street at a right angle to us are in the way of what would be our backyard. We have access to an alley, but it's barely big enough to walk through, not drivable like the ones we're talking about.

People use the front street anyway, even those with drivable alleys. It is for parking if you don't have a garage (like us or the apartment residents, among other people), and most people seem to find it less convenient to get through their whole porch stairs and backyard if they just want to walk out of their house. (Can't speak from personal experience but I know at least three people with them well enough to know that they use the front doors plenty.) Also, the front porch is definitely shadier on north-facing houses and I think it might even be shadier on a few south-facing houses, considering trees. Finally, I like my neighborhood, but it's just bad enough that I might hesitate to use the back alley alone at night.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:28 AM
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Does everybody here have tattoos?

If by "here" you mean here where I am, yes. Everybody but me and my daughters, one of whom asked me yesterday at what age she could get one without parental consent.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:28 AM
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I'm younger than any of you and have no tattoos, chest, large, small, or otherwise. Apropos nothing, I find it most gratifying that you American motherfuckers are eating China's lunch at the Olympics. Still more gratifying, it's late enough for me to start drinking Cointreau.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:31 AM
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Too orangey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:32 AM
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I'm not sure which is weirder, not having a chest or drinking straight Cointreau.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:34 AM
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It just goes drops directly from your mouth to your stomach.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:37 AM
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I'm not drinking it straight, assholes.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:37 AM
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You could have clarified.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:39 AM
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From your mouth to your stomach to your asshole.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:39 AM
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Last night I took the older girls out to dinner at a hipstery place around the corner from us to celebrate their first day of school. They were subtly checking out the tattoos and piercings and Mara said that all the teachers at her art camp had nose rings like mine but "You don't even do art. What DO you do?" Which is pretty rich coming from a girl who's been asking to get her nose pierced since age 3, but so it goes.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:41 AM
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You all are just jealous because you have to go to work now and can't drink Cointreau at all, even if your chest is missing.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:42 AM
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From the mouth, stomach, and asshole of babes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:43 AM
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Wisdom from a shared mouth, much less asshole, might be confusing.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:48 AM
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Human caterpillar wisdom.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:50 AM
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I mean centipede.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:51 AM
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TBH I'm not sure where MC is, but I hope it's WA or somewhere in the same time zone, because otherwise it's too early to drink liqueurs or time to stop and get some kip.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:52 AM
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I'm sure caterpillar wisdom is more pleasing once metamorphosed.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:52 AM
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243: Escaped China.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:53 AM
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Or \PRC for short.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:54 AM
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Same time zone.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 7:59 AM
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"WA" isn't Washington (state)?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:00 AM
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Western Australia.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:03 AM
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Western Australia? Yes, I guess. I can never remember where the fuck Australia is. Also I don't know what 'kip' means. If it means 'kippers' I wouldn't say no.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:05 AM
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I thought 'kip' meant to take a nap.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:08 AM
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In British English it means to take a nap; in Irish English it's a pub.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:11 AM
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I think I learned it from reading Harry Potter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:12 AM
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Much potential for confusion there.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:13 AM
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I thought it was when you cheat at pullups.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:32 AM
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Smoke Mossy a kipper--he'll be back for breakfast.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:41 AM
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The woman with all the tattoos actually suggested we do our first-meeting date by going to cheap night at the (relatively speaking) arthouse movie place, but then adding that she needs to warn me she talks through movies. I'm not sure if this is a trial-by-fire thing that lets her screen people out or what, but we found something else we can do instead that means I won't definitely be mortified to death. Knowing this has already made me like her less and not being keen on her tattoo style is also a problem. How on earth do people manage all of this?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:51 AM
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I hear making false robbery reports to the Brazilian police helps.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 8:53 AM
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...adding that she needs to warn me she talks through movies.

Is there a large forested area like the NJ Pine Barrens not too far from you where you can bury a body in a shallow grave?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 9:01 AM
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she needs to warn me she talks through movies

"Well, please don't do that."

I mean, this is not an uncontrollable thing. It's not some tragic neurological condition. It is entirely within her power not to do it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 9:27 AM
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To be didactic:

Alleys are (here) pretty uniformly 20' right of way (ROW). That's wide enough for two passing cars, but not for two lanes of traffic, especially since they typically have fences & plantings right on the property lines. That is, a street that was 20' curb to curb but also had sidewalks (with or without Satan's preferred pubic hair style) would enable slow two-way traffic, but alleys are effectively narrower than even that. When you add in trash cans and, in our alley for instance, lamp posts mounted within the ROW, it's literally impossible for them to serve as proper streets.

Lots in our city (and these are pretty typical North American dimensions) tend to be 80-120' deep, with 80' uncommon. Residential streets have ROWs between 40' and 50', unless they're in older areas where they may be 30', most likely one way. The ROW includes the sidewalk and (according to my Chicagoan dad) "boulevard", so a 40' street will mean (say) 10' of sidewalk and 30' of cartway, which gets you parking on one side and two 11' driving lanes, which is a suitable design for ~25 mph traffic.

So a cross-section of a unit of city might be 11' driving lane, 8' parking lane, 6' of publicly-owned/privately-maintained sidewalk, 100' of garden/house/yard, then 10' of alley access. That's 29' of primarily vehicular space (but only 11' dedicated to travel, as opposed to storage and access) against 106' of pedestrian/plant/living space. It's one on-street parking space per ~18 l.f. of frontage, with typical lot widths ranging between 17' and 50'.

Probably worth noting that this was laid out this way prior to the rise of the automobile. I know that major commercial streets were designed around the turning radius of a two-horse delivery wagon.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 9:48 AM
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Why would you deliver horses in a wagon?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 9:50 AM
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260 is a good point, but isn't that where you get into not going into a relationship to change people? My response was to run away forever, but I backed it down to meeting to chat, possibly including "Why on earth would you talk during movies?" and maybe it will come out that I misunderstood her and she doesn't do that at theaters and was warning me just in some long-term sense or something. I did manage to be slow enough to respond to someone I know socially (also a single mom) that she stopped chatting with me, which is also the outcome I wanted. So maybe I am getting better at this!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 9:50 AM
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I thought 'kip' meant to take a nap.

I thought it had something to do with herring.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 9:53 AM
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I thought it had to do with conning someone.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 10:01 AM
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257
How on earth do people manage all of this?

As for the movie thing, if you two hit it off otherwise, then you might just not want to go to movies together.

In general, the way I've prevented this in the past is to date people I already knew socially. Friends, then more than friends. (The n is very low for each of those, but when has statistical significance ever stopped us?) This way I've already weeded out deal-breakers like that, or at least I'm prepared for them. Are any of the other mothers on the PTA exchanging longing glances with you?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 10:07 AM
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If there were other mothers on the PTA, I wouldn't have had to have been the stupid president for all these years.

But no, there are no obvious real-life connections to draw on at the moment. And I'm still ambivalent enough about dating etc. that I might as well waste that on strangers or friends-of-friends. (Tinder's facebook-connection feature means I know both of them are the latter, and in the tattoo case made the difference between my looking at her okcupid profile for a year and now actually chatting with her.)

Really, none of this is an emergency. I'm a little ashamed Tinder has worked out as well as it has, because this probably isn't what I should be doing with my life when I need to spend all my non-work time moving. But I can't do that after the girls are asleep and might as well talk to people on the internet I might meet in person rather than just talk to people on the internet here.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 10:12 AM
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JRoth, how much of the design annoyances of McMansions is caused by changes in building technology? I'm often annoyed by putting "heavy" over "light", where I put those in scare quotes because it's actually stucco-over-nominal-2x4s at every level. But when that's making references to stone, or brick, or even post-and-beam construction, it looks weird to unsettling.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 2:06 PM
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My own completely unsupported and ignorance-based theory is that it has something to do with computer-aided design. I just can't see architects sitting down and drawing McMansions, but somehow fiddling with them on a computer screen makes more sense. Let's inflate this pointless circular tower 6x and then drop-and-click 15 more gables onto the screen! Why not!


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 2:15 PM
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Having worked on the framing crew for a couple of them, I can say that kind of crap really makes for more work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 2:18 PM
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The builders will figure out the hard parts!

(An actual architect designed my mothers' house. The staircase still went through a volume that was also assigned another purpose. The construction workers were not surprised and turned it into a decent closet.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 2:19 PM
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pre-pwned. oof.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-18-16 2:19 PM
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268 is not wrong. Misusing bearing masonry is incredibly expensive and difficult; misusing veneer masonry* is mildly expensive and fairly easy; misusing FauxStone styrofoam masonry is almost literally effortless.

It starts with a mild misuse: you've got a stone veneer portico, and you put stone in the gable because it kind of makes sense (as below, so above). Eventually it becomes an "accent", not an attempt to tell a coherent design/construction story. Finally, it becomes purely a decorative item, used with no more thought than a different color. You see houses that are all siding below the roofline, and then dormers with "stone", because somebody thought that would make it "pop".

And it really has poisoned the public mind. I had a client (who's trying to stiff me $1k!) whose tastes are obviously informed by the myriad McMansions near his house, and it was nearly impossible to produce something not completely shameful, because he and his wife are literally just picturing bits and pieces of houses they've liked, plus an overall look that is shitty. I mean, it could have been much, much worse, but it's not good.

*which is often not insubstantial: about as deep as a brick


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-19-16 11:25 AM
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269: I'd like to blame CAD as well, and the timing pretty much works, but I don't know if it's really correct. Certainly drawing this garbage by hand with unskilled* labor would be difficult. Arguably it also enables 268/273.2, since applying a stone texture to random bits of the facade is cost-free in a way that drawing it by hand isn't.

*draftsmen aren't literally unskilled, but they don't need any spatial, construction, or aesthetic knowledge to do they jobs. A HS student can hand-draw a 1960s-style suburban house after a couple weeks' training; the same can't be said of McMansions, I don't think


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-19-16 11:29 AM
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Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-19-16 11:38 AM
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We have a very old CAD program.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-19-16 11:40 AM
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