My unintended summer vacation, and my need to be a smart ass

For the past couple months I’ve taken a break from parts of my weekly routine to spend more quality time with my son before my wife and I ship him off to the harsh world of preschool. (Harsh for my son, who is a self-proclaimed crazy guy who doesn’t like to share, not harsh for my wife and me.) I’ve discovered two things when hanging out with my son, who I love dearly: 1) Hanging out with a four-year old is like being sober and hanging out with a drunk person, and 2) my opportunity to be myself (i.e. a smart ass) has diminished at the same rate as my son’s knack to assimilate my words into his vocabulary.

I’m sitting here writing as my son sits on my lap watching toy train videos on YouTube (probably the absolute best reason to have two monitors plugged into a desktop computer), and as I’m watching various Autodesk programs downloading for some upcoming teaching gigs I’ve attained I came across this article about a nearly 14,000 square foot glass house (it’s a very short article).

In short – the house is big, it has a lot of glass, and it’s pretentious. The glass house has been done before, so the design didn’t move me at all. But, like with all the other glass houses done before (see Mies, Johnson, Eichler, Neutra), there are the typical quotes from the designers of these styles of homes:

“I have complete privacy”

Yes, you do. As long as anyone within a hundred yards of the home is legally blind. The sense of privacy is an illusion based on seclusion, and that seclusion is based on no crazy neighbor setting up a blind in the trees and checking you out through his high-powered binoculars.

“It allows you to be one with nature inside the house.”

This one is also an illusion. You can see nature from inside your house, and the expansiveness of glass minimizes the framed views that are created by the position and size of a window. But you’re still sitting inside a conditioned space artificially modified to accommodate your desired level of comfort. Saying that nature is inside your glass house is like walking by a large aquarium and telling people “I swam with all of the fish.” The experience may have given you the illusion of being with the fish, but at no time were you ever in danger of being bitten by the shark in the exhibit.

The glass house – an aquarium for people.


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