Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Diary of a DAAP kid: co-op

There is a reason that DAAP is ranked in the top 10 of design schools every year for the last zillion years or so. It is not because of our excellent professors, innovative curriculum, or stellar facilities (am I being sarcastic here? You'll never know.) It is for one reason and one reason only:


The average DAAP graduate in every school except Fine Art will have 18 months of paid experience working at anywhere from 3-6 firms under her belt. So all the other kids at other colleges who struggle to land an unpaid summer internship maybe once or twice before graduation are definitely a step or two behind.

Co-ops get paid a full-time wage and work anywhere from 40-60 hours a week. It's nice because the more experience you get, the more responsibilities you are able to take on as you move forward with different firms.

It's a great system because with quarters, you're only ever in school or at work for 10 weeks. That's just enough time to get bored and antsy. By the time you're ready to stick Prismacolors in your eye sockets, the quarter is over and you're ready to move on to something else. It works quite well for those of us ADD types.

However, in case you haven't heard.... the economy SUCKS. No one is getting loans or spending money... which means that there aren't too many people building buildings (except the government, but that's a whole other blog post...) So exciting opportunities working with firms who build flashy retail stores, amusement parks, hotels and other totally unneccessary but cool buildings are no longer viable employers.

Out of 130 companies that usually take co-ops during the year, only 30 hired students to work during spring quarter. Luckily for me, I waited and am now in the process of attempting to get hired at a firm. I actually have a six month stretch instead of just three months (called "double-sectioning") and unfortunately, trying to get a job for the summer has been just as difficult.

I won't go too much into my personal search, as I am still in the process of finding a job. All I will say is that it's frustrating, to say the least. An architecture firm can't lay off 40% of its workers and then turn around and hire a co-op. This is understandable.

The upside of it all is that hopefully the job situation will get better by the fall, and if not then, DEFINITELY by next June. That's when I graduate, and will be looking for a full time position. On one hand, I sort of wish I was graduating this year... but on the other hand, I'm really glad I'm not graduating into this crazy job climate!

But still, keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fringe Fest Kick-off!

Saturday morning I showed up at the corner of Race and Vine to help promote the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which is starting Tuesday and goes until June 6th.

The Fringe Festival is an opportunity for little-known artists who want to push the envelope to showcase their work. It's 12 days/nights of theater, visual art, film, poetry, dance and even puppets. According to the website, "Our artists push the boundaries of the “norm” and continually experiment with style and content. During the festival local, regional, national and international artists invade downtown Cincinnati for 12 days of artistic celebration in both traditional and non-traditional spaces."

The venues are all located in Over the Rhine, but if you park in the Kroger Garage they are extremely walkable. The best part is that tickets are only $12, which is a total steal for great new shows.

There is a party Tuesday night (tomorrow!) sponsored by CityBeat to officially kick off the festival. The visual arts opening is from 6-8pm at the Art Academy of Cincinnati (with free wine/beer, sweet!). Then the party moves to the Know Theater around 9pm with music by Eclipse, food from Venice on Vince and Mixx Ultralounge, and beer specials from Christian Moerlein. Free food, free drinks, free music, and cool people. You probably couldn't ask for a more fun Tuesday evening.

Taste-ing Cincy

I know, I know. Everyone has (and will) be posting all about Cincinnati's favorite culinary fest. But it was fun! And there's more to my experience than just the food (though I could write JUST about the food)

I went at the very beginning and the very end of this three day food party, and the two experiences were practically polar opposites in every way. Except for that I ate yummy food both times.

Going twice meant I tried a ton of different food. My lineup: sweet potato fries from Behle St. Cafe, chicken cajun pasta from Indigo Cafe, coconut shrimp from Vitor's, sushi from Mixx Ultralounge, cheesecake from Washington Platform (round two:) crab rangoon from Bangkok Bistro, fries and Mt. Carmel beer cheese from Mac's Pizza Pub, lamb kebab and rice from Cafe Istanbul, and baklava from Mythos.

Wow, I sound like a total fat kid. BF helped me eat a lot of it, so give me a break!
Instead of going into a long descriptor of each dish, I give you the Best and the Worst of my Taste of Cincinnati:

Best: Tie between Coconut Shrimp and Crab Rangoon!!

Coconut Shrimp with Peach Reduction ( I think... ) - totally delish, as long as you like the coconut texture ( which I do! )

Crab Rangoon - Good mixture of crab and cream cheese, interestingly shaped in a thin wonton wrapper that wasn't too bready. The sauce definitely made the dish - not that red sugary crap you get at China Buffet.

Worst: Cincinnati Roll from Mixx UltraLounge

And when I say worst, I mean "most ill-suited for a hot street fair." I went against my better judgement and got the roll. This roll was deep fried tempura style, so there wasn't much danger of spoiled seafood, but it was just not the right thing for 90 degree heat. I will have to go and get sushi from the actual restaurant in order to truly pass judgement on it. But next time... no sushi at Taste.

The first day was hot, muggy and crowded. I hawked fliers and programs for nearly four hours, and totally feel sympathy for anyone who does that for a living. The second day was cooler and way more chilled out. The crowd had thinned out, and it was easier to navigate. The best part of the evening was sitting on Fountain Square watching people from completely different backgrounds and life stages boogey down to Leroy and the E-Funk band. That was so, SO awesome. It gave me a renewed sense of hope for this city. It could happen here...

Just a Cincy Weekend

I've been really busy on the weekends this quarter, and so this weekend was the first weekend where I was a)in town and b)not completely booked the entire time. I still managed to get in some fun between the homework.

Friday night - Red's Game!

One of my friends found this "deal" for the Red's game - 8 seats for $80 (+online shipping charges) AND a free pizza from LaRosa's! Sweet, right? Here's the catch(es):

1 - You can't bring the pizza in the stadium (no open containers, including pizza boxes) This means stuffing your face with pizza right outside the gate. Super attractive.

2 - Nosebleed seats. We were three rows from the top. It was a great view, but my vertigo definitely kicked in a little bit. I've been super spoiled with great seats every time I've gone to see the Reds.

However, it was a great game, AND a surprise (to me) to see the AWESOME fireworks show after the game. Definitely didn't see that one coming. It was about 20 minutes long, and pretty freakin' sweet.

Saturday night - Arnold's!

My roomie Steph and I went to Arnold's with my friends Hinal and Koral on Saturday evening. They are exchange students from India, and we thought Arnold's would be a fun place to go since it's the oldest bar and town and has a great vegetarian spread.

We were not disappointed! The food was great, we got to sit in the courtyard, and we had a blast.

Koral and Hinal

Then we went to Devou Park in Kentucky to get a good view of the city. It's pretty blurry, but I was able to get a picture of the Red's Screen FROM KENTUCKY.

Check back tomorrow for my picks for Best and Worst Tastes of Cincinnati.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Diary of a DAAP kid: fun on the cheap

Ack! Has it really been an entire week since I posted? Hmph. School is starting to catch up with me, but no worries: I've only got three weeks left to go. Oh dear. I've only got three weeks left to go...

Once I start co-op in the middle of June I will be able to post a lot more. I've committed to keeping this blog for at least six months. So, anyway...

I like to go out and do things. I like seeing shows, going to the opera or ballet, seeing exhibits at museums... "culture", if you will. However, as a college student on a currently non-existant income, I really don't have the money to shell out for $20-$50 tickets every week. The two things I've utilized in doing fun things in Cincy for free:

- Enjoy the Arts

- Keeping my eyes and ears open.

Even if you're no longer a student, Enjoy the Arts is a sweet friggin' deal if there ever was one. $25 a year (student price) gets you a packet full of free tickets and major discounts to 40 venues and events in Cincinnati - from a 2-person pass to the Cincinnati Pops to a free dance class at Ballet Theatre Midwest.

They also send you an email every week with all the events going on in the area by their sponsors. I've been a member since my freshman year of college, and have experienced a lot of neat events because of this organization.

Okay, so the second thing I mentioned on 'how to do things for cheap/free' seems pretty intuitive, but really, it's not. There are always fliers for concerts, events, and of course housing plastered on top of each other around DAAP and the rest of campus (as well as coffee shops and random telephone poles around the city)

I feel like sometimes the sheer amount of information coming in makes it hard for us to notice little details. Little details are something I'm into, and so I notice the fliers. And then, I do cool things.

Facebook and Twitter also help me keep up with things that are going on...
Speaking of,the Cincinnati Innovates competition is kicking off at Fountain Square today at 4:30. Even if you don't make it out, you can still vote for my bins here:

Vote for my bins on Cincy Innovates!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Diary of a DAAP kid: Let's do the Time Warp again.


It is now the 7th week of the quarter, which means school is starting to kick into high gear. Classes are piling on the work, and the ever infamous studio (a six hour class that is the main focus of the quarter) rears its ugly head and demands all the work for the class be finished the week before finals week.

From here on out, time seems to move in a different way for those of us in DAAP. The days get shorter, the hours get longer. It's a weird phenomenon, and I think it is mostly attributed to spending so much time actually inside the building.

It's just a jump, to the left... or not.

It is very easy to lose track of the time once working inside DAAP- especially inside the computer labs. They are dark, windowless rooms, usually only lit by the glow of the computer screens. Last quarter I spent 36 hours in a 48 hour time period in one of these rooms, working to finish some drawings for my final project. Up in the studio rooms, there are windows and you can see the sun sinking behind Deaconess in the distance as you work into the night.

This is not a complaint, however. There is something wonderful about working at a big wooden desk late at night, head down, headphones on - and if you're me, singing along to whatever musical happens to be playing on the iPod at the time. Somewhere between the hours of 11pm and 4am, time stands still and work gets finished.

Even better is when there are several people working in studio at once. Then the atmosphere changes from meditating in solitude to more of a social event. In the interior design studios I've participated in, my friends and I play music, order takeout, and help each other with problems we might be wrestling with, be it space planning, material selection, or using a computer program. Don't get me wrong, we get our work done, but we also have a lot of fun and make memories along the way.

These late nights don't happen every single night. As I've progressed through the program, they've become fewer and farther between. I think that starting out I had to learn to adapt not only to college life but also the complexities of learning and working in a rigorous program. Now I've figured out that it's possible to get work done without staying up all night, every night to do so.

Of course, that will probably change when I start working on senior project next winter. But until then, I am appreciating both the time I spend working in DAAP... and the time I spend outside of it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First Sale

I am officially in business! Sold my first bin to Michelle as a Mother's Day present. I am making another one for her to keep. Check it out:

The Target bags are a really effective pattern and design. Do you have any other ideas of bags you'd like to see?

I went home for Mother's Day with the BF and my mom, sister and boyfriend all helped make a bin for my grandma. Grandpa made me wooden molds for my project, so this was sort of a thank you gift as well as showing my family how the process works - they've heard about it enough!

The really cool thing was that Grandma and Grandpa had given me some bags - two of them were from a meat market that closed sometime last year. I used the two bags on the sides of the small bin, and now Grandma and Grandpa have a memory in their bag of a place where they used to shop.

School is starting to pick up - only 4 weeks left, and I am still without a co-op job - but hopefully after the quarter is over I can really get to work on making more bins!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Lorax gives an Update

Quick update on the grass lot situation - it appears that the property owners are attempting to take action on the illegal grass parking:

Not that people are paying attention to it, but still. In theory, it helps. At least they're doing SOMETHING.

I made pizza yesterday - 90% of the ingredients were from Aldi's. I'm a foodie-wannabe: I can't spend as much money as I'd like to on food, but having a boyfriend with a 'real' job helps...

Are you coming to the Pecha Kucha tonight? It would be a great way to kick off your Friday night, since it's over at 8.30. Order your tickets ($10) here.

afterwards you could catch the end of the Bike Art Show at Park+Vine, the pizza buffet at Venice on Vine, or head to Courtyard Cafe for drinks and discussion with the rest of us... then you can get the rest of your Friday night started!

BF is taking me to Indianapolis for a birthday mini-getaway weekend. I'll tell you all about it on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Diary of a DAAP kid: groceries

Hey all! Sorry I've been behind on the posts - school is starting to catch up and get in the way of the rest of my life (don't you hate when that happens?), but I'm here now.

Many people believe that college kids sustain themselves solely on Red Bull, Captain Crunch, and Ramen Noodles. This may be true for freshmen (and engineering majors)but we the Hipsters over at DAAP cannot settle for such a banal existence (though the amount of takeout ordered in studio increases as project week rolls around)

But when it's not project week, we like to cook and eat well. Fresh produce, things made from scratch, even occasionally organic. My friends and I try and get together once a week for a "Sunday Dinner" - everyone brings a dish and hilarity and good eating ensue.

Eating well is great, but alas, I am on a college budget. Where do I turn to get the best deals on food? (The answer is not Meijer. Sorry.)

*drum roll please...* ALbrecht DIscount!!!!!!

Wait, you've never heard of it? Sure you have:

Yes, Aldi's. The mecca of discount grocery stores. Back in the day, it was a little shady - aka only go there to buy potatoes and junk food - but now it is a great store with the best prices and really quality food.

I got this photo off Flickr The three bags on the left are from a chain of "mainstream" grocery markets called Sun Fresh: total cost = $105. The three bags on the right are from ALDI: $45. Granted, they were different types of groceries, but sill. The savings is that consistent.

I go to Aldi's for their "Fit and Active" line - 100 cal packs, unsalted peanuts, all the healthy food you want to get but don't want to pay the extra money for, their dairy, frozen food - especially shrimp and fish -, canned food, boxed food, baking staples... do I have to go on? I am picky about some things - orange juice, for example, so I usually make more than one trip on my grocery excursions, but the bulk of my shopping is done at Aldi's.

I grew up with my (upper-middle class-ish) family going to Aldi's simply for the savings. It's familiar to me, but that's not why I love it.

So, how do they manage to make the food so cheap, but not scrimp on the quality? Several things:

1. They only hire the minimum amount of people to get the job done. No cart boys, no midnight stackers. However, these employees are paid above minimum wage with health benefits. Good deal.

2. The carts are corralled and connected together just outside the front of the store. In order to use one, you have to put a quarter in a slot near the handle. The quarter releases your cart. When you are done with the cart, you go back up and connect your cart to the rest of the group, and it releases your quarter. This prevents carts from being stolen and left all over the place.

3. There's only one brand. No competition for shelf space, no need for excess. There's one kind of maple syrup, one kind of ketchup, one kind of flour, etc, etc. There are different flavors of yogurts and salad dressing, for example - but only one brand. There's no marketing campaigns, and no circulars at your door every week... because the prices don't change. Why advertise when it's always on sale?

4. The store is laid out very economically. The product is stacked on top of each other in their original shipping boxes - no need for shelving, and it's an interesting effect:

5. You have to pay for your bags. This is not only economical, but ecological. You can get bags at Aldis, but you have to pay for them - .10 for paper, .25 for plastic, I think. OR you can bring your own reuse able bags - they sell these as well, only twice as big as the ones from other stores - or just use the cardboard boxes that the food comes in to put your cans and boxes in. You also bag your own groceries. At checkout, you put all your stuff on the conveyor belt, then bring the cart to the end of the stand. The checker scans your food then puts it back in the cart. Then you go over to a bagging area - a really long counter - and bag your own groceries. I like this because I am particular with what food stays together. Baggers at other places either pack the food wrong (hello, squished fruit) or severely underbag.

On top of all of that, Aldi's also gets some national brands at a discounted price -**CORRECTION (thank you, Anonymous) - ALDI's are supplied through ALDI's own system of distribution centers. ALDI will buy directly from the manufacturer / producer, if they get a good deal (e.g. if Captain Crunch wants to clear inventory because they want to change the design of the box). So they don't buy overstock from Krogers, but rather from Captain Crunch directly. They also have "special purchases" - random seasonal items that are non-grocery - this week is bags of Cypress Mulch for $2.29, "Garden for the Cause" pink gardening set for $14.99, and more.

I don't usually get all my produce there, because I will grant you that it can be a bit spotty. But if I'm there on the right day I'll get mushrooms, bell peppers, even pineapple sometimes. I actually am sharing a fruit and vegetable bin from Farm Fresh Delivery with my roomie for this month. I'll let you know how it goes.

So... shop at Aldi's. It's not scary, it's not trashy, and you'll save a ton of money. A brand new one opened in December off Ridge Road - right next to the Home Decor Emporium, across from McDonald's (coming off of 71, go past the intersection where you turn to go to Bigg's/Lowe's, and it will be on the left)

Yay food!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Poseidon: an Upside-Down Musical!

I have a confession to make. I have never seen that classic film, The Poseidon Adventure (1972). That's right. I said it. I just... had to get it off my chest. Because I saw this great musical last night, and it was a total spoof of The Poseidon Adventure (TPA), and I knew there were jokes that I was just not getting.

Not unlike the "newbie" who is introduced to the film by her friends the "Poseidonites", I HAVE seen Dirty Dancing at least 8 times. And I saw the 2005 remake *gasp*. But that's not the point.

The point is, even if you haven't seen the original film, you will still enjoy this campy, over the top musical that celebrates its silliness from the opening scrim drop to the final bow.

Poseidon is a regional premiere, having only ever been produced in Chicago prior to the Falcon's opening of the show. The Falcon and I have a little bit of history (I was in a show this past December), so I was amazed to see how versatile the little (and I do mean little) black box stage truly is. In the last six months, the stage has been transformed from a 1940s recording studio, to that famous castle in Denmark, and is now a luxury cruise liner, circa 1972.

The good ship Poseidon's passengers and BIGGEST FANS EVAH bring an astounding amount of energy to the performance. It's really essential to the show - if one performer doesn't believe in what they are presenting, the audience won't play along either. However, you won't be disappointed - every single cast member brings 150% to their role. From incessant giggles to sex jokes, hand claps and a full 4 minutes of rolling around on the stage as the ship was tipping over (eliciting some much-deserved applause)... all I'm saying is the cast is going to sleep WELL at night during this run, with how much they put into their performance.

I watched the trailer of The Poseidon Adventure this morning on youtube, and I can say that they stayed very true to the original cast. Granted, the characters are larger than life, but that's the point. There's the ditzy lounge singer (Michelle Shaffer) who falls for the Bachelor Haberdasher (Earl Lehkamp). There's the cop (David L. Radtke) and his ex-hooker wife (Marypat Carletti). Don't forget the adorable Jewish couple (Ron Burrage and Joe Stollenwerk) who just want to get to Israel and see their grandson (with Joe playing Mrs. Rosen - an obviously Harvey Fierstein-esque role - what a stellar voice!! A mensch til the end!) Then the feisty Susan (Lauren Bailey) who desperately wants to shack it up with the Radical Reverend Scott (John Langley) , and her little brother, Robin (Donnie McGovern). Oh, Robin. He serves as one part sexually confused man-child, one part annoying little brother, and one part tour guide - he knows the whole ship, thanks to his "friend" Charlie the 3rd Engineer (who is lurking somewhere in the audience. You have been warned.)

Other memorable characters include a hobbly waiter (Sean Mize), an unsteady captain (Greg Underwood), and of course the entire group of Poseidonites (Burgess Byrd, DeAndre Smith, Chuck Knippen, Nicole Sandford) in all their rabid fan glory. Other roles include Mary Ann Smith as an "Indian" lady and Robin Baker as the Doctor.

With songs like "SHUT UP!" "Just Panties" and "In the Water, I'm a Very Skinny Lady" you know you're in for a good time. Some of the singers were a touch quiet, but that was honestly my only complaint. Loved the story, the choreography, costumes, and energy. Basically, I'm saying that you should check it out.

Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical is presented by the Falcon Theatre and directed by Dan Doerger. The show runs May 1, 2; May 8,9; May 15,16 (basically, the first three weekends in May.) It starts at 8pm at the Monmouth Theatre- 636 Monmouth Street; Newport, Kentucky.

One of the best things about the Falcon is that you can make reservations online. Check it out!:

Always remember: Wear sensible shoes to your dinner cruise, and Keep on Climbing!