Wednesday, August 09, 2006

London Millenium Bridge Pic

Here's my first pic from the trip.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My Computer Finally Arrived!

This is my first post for the trip because I left my computer at home. I have been having an absolute blast on the trip and have learned so much in just a week. I will start posting once I load my photos onto my computer and when I can finally adjust to having a computer. Thanks to my parents and brother for getting it here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Domain Analysis Post

The Domain:
-Corner of 45th NE and 17th (Memorial Way)
The Actors:
-UW Students
---Most likely students presently living in the Greek system or upperclassmen liveouts
---Upperclassmen after who spent a year in the dorms
-Potential Students
-Visitors to the Campus
-Transient U-District Residents
-On the way to and from class
-To socialize with friends and acquaintances from the Nothern "Greek" part adjacent to campus
-To advocate change or promote a certain political group (ex: ASUW elections)
-Longboards and/or Skateboards
Cultural meaning:
Since the "Greek" system is so unique, and everyone seems to have their own agenda, a meeting place like this corner can tell a lot about the intimacy and closeness of the Greek system as a whole. Especially during passing times between classes, this corner becomes a hub for roughly 50 people crossing the street every 2-3 minutes. This promotes random meetings, plans for social functions that evening, increased friendship ties because of more frequent gatherings, and many other socially based results. Depending on the day of the week or the present weather conditions, the effectiveness of the meeting spot changes. In the middle of winter, amidst the near month of rain, there was a lot less social interaction on the corner, compared to Thursday or Friday afternoon of last week (Greek Week) when the weather was hot and sunny and the mood was light and filled with optimism and energy.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

U-District Urban Assignment

So Kathy and I were a little disorganized and therefore did not arrange a very unique spot to do our urban observation assignment. However, our trip up and down University Way (The Ave) helped us prepare for Red-Light District observations. It also served as a good starting point for increasing our understanding of the actions and laws in Seattle. I don't think I've ever walked so slowly and observed so intently when walking up and down The Ave. Of course, the street has some very negative connotations that very commonly are alluded to when the scene is discussed. Here are some of the observations I wrote down:
-Disheveled girl walking with backpack and longboard
-Lots of Banks
-Inexpensive International Restaurants
-Psychadelic Van
-Graffiti (The word Heroin in multiple places)
-Run down facades
-Leftover baby bottle
-Sunday night drinking/cigarrette smoking
-Scary looking long bearded man
-Man walking with bike chain necklace with marijuana leaf medallion
-Man talking to himself wearing a cross necklace
-Street performer with red dyed hair fan standing by
-An Ave regular (named Daryl) peddling for change
-"Red Light" store selling pipes, bongs, hukas, and other "tobacco" devices
-Poster on most stores prohibiting tresspassing and loitering
-Bus stop with large group of people loitering about (in front of Rite Aid)
-Young confused dyed red hair people conversing with Daryl
-College girl taking Daryl aside to offer support
These experiences and simple observations led Kathy and me to believe that often the people loitering on The Ave and the students from the University often have a delicate relationship that relies a great deal on ignoring each other and letting people live their lives their own way.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Zeisel Observation/Environment Chapters

Zeisel's first chapter focuses on the different methods of observation used by researchers. It described the different ways observations could be recorded and the physical traces that are important in good observations. His points seemed to be fairly logical, but his examples were very fitting and original. He laid out each method and then followed it up with a very clear and concise example. His article almost reminded me of an episode of C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigation) on CBS because of the steps observers must take to ensure the validity of their claims. One question that came to mind was that with all of the restrictions and ways a scene can seem "tainted," how does an observer ever really have faith in their claims? It seems like serious observation work in architecture would take a lot of practice before ever being able to efficiently sift through the distractions to find the real answer to a research question.
Chapter 8 focused more on observing environmental behavior. This included parent-child relationships in a public park as well as doctor-nurse, doctor-patient, nurse-patient interactions. It also described the role of a researcher and the effect they have based upon their level of participation and exposure to the environment being studied. I wondered at what point the intrusion by the researcher for the good of the research stops being productive and could actually be considered unethical and overly intrusive. I also liked Zeisel's comment of page 119 that said, "Researchers observing in Harvard Yard will be seen very differently if they carry green bookbags than if they carry leather attache cases." I think this is a very good point, if someone was walking around dressed up like a professor or professional, my actions around that person would be different then if that person was another student. This also reminded me of when our speaker, Prof. Dennis Ryan came into class on Monday. It reminded me of when a principal would listen in on class in high school, and the mood in the room seemed a lot tenser. That isn't to say that was the reaction of the class on Monday, but the entire class no doubt noticed the presence of an outsider. Many of the points in these chapters were very thought provoking and almost all of the examples were easy to say to myself, "I've done that before."

Sunday, April 30, 2006


This whole idea has me a bit confused, but I'm going to work my way through the confusion. So the most important part of each question is that it must be direct and with a specific target audience. Since Kathy and I have chosen a broad topic, I thought that three questions for both verifiable and non-verifiable would be appropriate. Let it be noted that the topic and questions are still being tossed around and portions may be cut out by the time we reach Amsterdam. Now for the meat and potatoes:
-Does the act of prostitution warrant punishment by law or should it be considered a realistic profession?
-Are marijuana smokers more prone to smoking in a legal setting?
-What percentage of crimes in Seattle and Amsterdam can be related to the treatment of prostitutes? (committing them or being the recipient of the crime)
-Is prostitution really the world's oldest profession? (I read this one on an pro-Prostitution website)
-If there isn't a law prohibiting marijuana from being sold in Amsterdam, should it be considered a crime, or a bad thing?
-Are prostitutes considered less of a person because their work is selling their body for sex?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Amsterdam Stories

Living In the Red-Light District
by Maarten't Hart

I chose this story first since I thought it sounded the most applicable to my topic. It was a short story about the life of the writer, who followed the advice of William Faulkner and lived in the Red-Light District. He highlighted two bizarre circumstances with his prostitute neighbors well. The first story went explain a meeting he had with a prostitute who called him into her room. Rather than offering up sex, she knew he was a close neighbor and simply wanted to rent out his attic. He left somewhat shell-shocked from her comment about putting up with her profession since she could make a lot by using "soap suds" to squeeze more money out of her customers. The second story told of another prostitute that invited him in for coffee since she had just seen the author on the news. She objected to the interview she'd seen where a feminist had ripped him in a very rude and selfish way. The prostitute seemed to be willing to talk and listen before offering up her services to make him feel better. She insisted on him going home to find more money. She even offered to reject all future customers for the night to wait for him. The author then went home and got his checkbook, but upon return, found the curtains closed. His final line expressed his relief in avoiding the situation by saying "[an] almost sublime feeling of relief came over me, and I virtually danced back to my house"(107). This article inspired me about our topic since the author introduced a trip through the Red-Light District in a way that made it seem like a fascinating place to do research.
Rambling Around Centraal Station
By Geert Mak

I chose this story by Geert Mak since we've read his work before and I was interested in reading about the Centraal Station part of Amsterdam. Mak's story followed around a homeless man on the streets of Amsterdam. He talked of seeing Moroccan boys being picked up at the station and the excessive hard drug use that dominates the Station's phone booths around midnight. He proceeded to talk about how the poorest people can survive in Amsterdam by picking up the garbage from the street markets and from the leftover food from bakeries. The order with which the street people organized themselves based upon presentability seemed so sad and depressing. I thought the most peculiar story that Mak presented referred to the absolute best meal to get for free. This came in the last paragraph of the story, and he said the best food came from a minister who forced the homeless to attend a church service which his daughter performed on the organ before serving a three course meal. It sounded so hard to believe that people could feel so judgmental and abusive of a generous man, just in an attempt to consume a good meal.
Flesh and Blood
By Bas Heijne

This essay was creepy and confusing to say the least. It was written from the point of view of a man visiting his parents who just rented a new apartment. The author then describes how nice and new everything is in the apartment and how un-Amsterdamlike everything seems. The rooms were spacious and there was ample marble everywhere. From the presence of a garbage disposal to a very sophisticated bathroom, there was nothing left unnoticed. For many pages this description went on until the author chimed in that, "It takes a faggot to think up something like that" (147). This quote completely changed the tone of the story from amazement to sarcasm and cynicism. The author then proceeded to describe an awful dream he had while trying to sleep in this apartment that he despised. He then went on to describe a gay sex scene with the previous renter of the apartment and two boys who took his life in the bathtub. The whole scene was a little too out of the ordinary and weird for me. This was my least favorite story by far, since it was really confusing and not at all what I was expecting.