Friday, 27 February 2009

Las Vegas and Architects, back to the drawing board.


Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Las Vegas, (the one in Nevada with the casinos just in case there is more than one), which was much fun.

The time that wasn't spent on gambling, drinking and going on extended road trips to the Grand Canyon involved taking in the place and as a result the architecture.

The architecture is certainly one of the most striking aspects of Las Vegas, (if you ignore the gambling). I think that some of the discussions between architects and prospective hotel owners must have been quite surreal.

An example (allegedly), about Luxor, a hotel in Vegas which coincidentally share's it name with a historic city in Egypt. The city that houses the Valley of The Kings and other great historical attractions from antiquity; antiquity being an umbrella term for really old stuff.

This is a transcript from a telephone conference between architect and developer during the creation of the Luxor hotel, arc for architect, dev for developer. Clearly, an understanding of scale has not been established between the developer, who lives near Vegas and the architect, who has never seen Vegas. This happened in the early stages of the "build".

dev: So hi, glad you are on board with this project, I have heard great things about your previous work on the Millennium Dome.

arc: (sound of spluttering)... (pause for breath) Why thank you for having us on board. Obviously our reputation precedes us.

dev: Indeed, so, what we are looking for is a design for a hotel that captures the essence of Egypt but at the same time accommodates the base line requirements, as in maximising the gaming floor.

arc: Egypt is quite a big place, with a lot of cultural influences, what sort of size did you have in mind?

dev: Oh, I have a significant amount of space/money and I want to capture all of Egypt's cultural influences... I want a pyramid and a sphinx, oh and a big laser.
arc: OK... so we want a hotel, with a gaming area that is in keeping with the feel of Luxor and it should involve a pyramid, a sphinx and a laser.

dev: Yup, that'll do for now, send me some plans.

Some days pass...

And then another phone call.

dev: I've had a little time to look over the plans and there are a few problems.
arc: Oh really?
dev: Yes firstly the size, it isn't big enough for a start. I think if you take the existing dimensions and add another nought to all the numbers that should cover it.
arc: OK...
dev: The laser, apparently you will able to see this for miles around?
arc: On a clear night certainly.
dev: How about Space?
arc: I'm sorry?
dev: Space, will you be able to see it from Space, this is very important.
arc: Is the astronaut market that important to you?
dev: Not exactly, but it is important, it looks good for the investors.
arc: OK, we'll look into it.
dev: The accommodation is a little obvious as well.
arc: Obvious?
dev: Indeed, floor after floor of accommodation just stacked above the base level, like any other building really. I was thinking the accommodation should hug the sides of the pyramid, that would make a statement.
arc: There would be certain challenges in doing that, elevators for instance.
dev: In what way?
arc: They would have to go sideways as well as up.
dev: Is that a problem?
arc: It's not exactly the conventional way lifts work.
dev: Oh I'd never noticed. Just get it done. Oh and one last thing, the artists impression of the sphinx with the missing nose, what is that all about.
arc: It's a scale recreation of the original at Giza.
dev: Really, you'd think they'd fix that. Get her a nose job, nobody wants to see that.
arc: (sigh) OK, consider it done.
This may all sound a little over the top, but that is exactly what Las Vegas is. The most outrageous monument to excess, and then some more.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A little something about fish…

I mentioned in my first post that this blog was not going to be a eulogy to the ecstasies of pet ownership. Didn't take long did it?
I guess it is right to get the boring stuff out of the way…
I have a tank for tropical fish about " " long and " " wide and about " " deep. It holds some water.
This is not censorship, I just don't want to bore you with the details. Imagine if they censored the dimensions of fishtanks…
It has some fish in it, some are Guppies and some are Minnows and some are Mollies with a couple of Shrimps and a Pleco thrown in. Basically, some pretty fish in a tank.
All was well. All was in fact very relaxing, I was starting to get the whole staring at a fish tank and just enjoying their moving about. This was, overall, quite a pleasant experience. It does become a little worrying if you have been sat staring at something without moving for an hour that isn't the television. Even more worrying if you realise you have been drooling for most of this time without realising, (this story, incidentally was related to me by a "friend").
Things were going swimmingly (sorry), until the Angel fish were introduced.
Just in case you are reading this and are unsure of the breed, Angel fish are the pretty tropical fish that look a little like swept back arrow heads from the side, as per the illustration top left. Face to face they are a little less pretty, insubstantial in fact. A little like a fish which has been through a printing press, flat. This is not meant to be a tropical fish seminar, but it help's to be able to visualise.
A few things about Angel fish:
  • Apparently Angel is a little misleading
  • They can be a "little" territorial
  • They may nip the fins of fish with bright tails (which narrows it down to about 95% of our tank)
  • They have to be added to a tank last because, well I don't know to be honest, but it's true apparently.
I found all of the above very interesting but wanted them anyway, well they are v pretty. A little bit like being presented a blank white four walled room with a red button along with a little sign underneath saying "Do not press the red button". You know you shouldn't but…
At this point I am sounding a little uncaring of the welfare of the existing fish community, which is not true. In the event of accidents or disasters there is a backup tank available for quarantining badly behaving or baby fish. It is round. We call it Guantanamo Bowl. So in the event of something bad happening there was a contingency plan, oh and I kept the receipt.
So the day of introduction came, after purchasing the Angel fish. If you have not been party to the fish purchasing process before transporting fish to your home is no different than winning a goldfish at a funfair. Water, clear plastic bag and carry it home.
And the point of all this? Well, the two hours spent staring, and certainly not drooling, at the tank after the introduction of the Angel fish were certainly not relaxing. There is something about them. The other fish seem carefree, swimming about, no sign of any great purpose apart from marking out time until the next meal. Not Angel fish, they float like butterflies, they sting like bees (sorry, got distracted for a moment).
It is like observing the most dangerous of assassins walk into your local bar for a beer. Crowds will part without knowing why, space will appear at the bar even though people have been waiting for hours to be served. The assassin, of course, filling the vacuum, will be served immediately. The barperson will forget to collect the money.
Angel fish, like the assassin, have charisma, they exude something dangerous, unexpected and exciting. Annoyingly, they do it without trying.
This being said, so far they have been no trouble at all. I like their style and envy their stage prescence (which granted does go a little flat when viewed face on) and continue to hope that Guantanamo Bowl remains empty.

First Post

I'm new to this, this blogging thing. I don't want to sound like I am some like I am some forty-something who is trying to get a hand on some new technology because it either
  • sounds cool.
  • I feel I should be doing it because everyone else in the office is doing it.
Because neither of the above is true. Also, I am not quite forty. I have struggled for some time just deciding what to say in this opening foray. This is all a little intimidating, like writing a diary that everyone (potentially) reads. I guess it becomes easier as you go along.
It seems a lot of blogs have a purpose, a message, a meaning.
Well, mine doesn't, yet…
It is not meant to be political, (but it might become so). It does not have an axe to grind, (currently). It is not just an online diary for everyone to see, (however it may be some of the time). It is not designed as a eulogy to the ecstasies of pet ownership, (although fish and cats may come up from time to time). Nor is it an examination of the psychology of blogging or the blogger, (interesting that I feel better for doing this though).
In summary this is a blog about nothing in particular for the moment (and maybe always, no promises). May not help you, but for some reason, after the initial struggle to get to here, it helped me.