Friday, August 14, 2009

The Not So Big House - Sarah Susanka

I borrowed this older edition from the local library, which I visited for the first time the other day. Even if I'm not an architect and have no experience at all with construction, building houses, or designing houses, I really liked this book and found it to be very informative and interesting.

We moved into our home last year. The home we bought is a typical colonial style home from a reputable builder. The house is built from a pre-made design, built exactly like our neighbor's and my neighbor's neighbor, ad infinitum . I know what the inside of the house right across the street, and at the end of the street, and on the house at the end of the block looks like.

Certain features of our home, I thought, were useless. Having lived in Japan, I liked smaller areas which utilized space well. Less walking ;p Here, we have a formal living and dining room area, which I thought were useless and considered converting into a library. It's still pretty empty right now, no shelves, no books. But we did put a piano where the formal living room is supposed to be, and that's about it.

It was interesting because Sarah Susanka wrote the same exact thing. There were some things I learned about homes in the U.S. First, formal living and dining areas had been left over from the traditional Victorian ethic. I completely agree with her. I think homes should be just the right size for a person's needs, to cut down on energy costs, too, and allow a better quality of life. I have seen homes with 10 different places to sit. What for?

Second, I learned that colonial type houses were cheaper to build. No wonder our house was so cut and dried! The more corners on the exterior, the higher the cost. It's interesting that a "not so big house" will cost just as much as a McMansion box! And no wonder more people would buy the McMansion. Who can really afford the luxury of having something so creatively and distinctively designed and customized? It's really a shame. I know I wish I could have a home like that, but I'm not creative enough to fix up our boring home to look like "me".

There are other interesting thoughts to ponder from her book. How we need both public and private spaces in our homes, how some couples fight because their homes have no privacy. It was all very enlightening.

I would recommend this book for anyone who loves homes, whether or not they are up for buying a new home, designing their own home, or just trying to figure out what their style is (like me), since I don't even know where to start from! This points out things that you only vaguely knew, but couldn't verbalize. You read it and nod and nod and agree, and realize that all this time, she says what you already knew in your heart to be true.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

O.A.R. @ Merriweather Post!

August 7, 2009. HS and my other friends went to Merriweather Post in Columbia, MD to watch the O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) "This Town" concert. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of people there that night. We got V.I.P. seats, with backstage passes. Our seats were so good, in fact (first row on the platform), that we were able to watch the whole concert sitting down, even though everyone else in front were all standing up and dancing! I danced my seat. That's for shyer, more inhibited people who can just sway a little and bounce their heads up and down with the music.

The music sounds even better live than on CD. I particularly liked the drums interlude during "Lay Down," where Chris, Jerry, and Mike went at it for at least 3 minutes. Jerry is really impressive. He was, at different times, playing the saxophone (it has become one of my favorite instruments!), the drums, and the guitar, as needed. Richard sometimes switched from the keyboard to his guitar. The fans favorite, of course, was "Crazy Game of Poker," which everyone recognized immediately. Everyone jumped up and danced wildly. You can't help it, especially at the fast, almost country inspired part of the music. It wasn't just my head bobbing then. My shoulders would sway back and forth a bit, too. What an achievement!

The O.A.R. guys are a bunch of cool guys on stage. They wear ordinary jeans and t-shirts. They walk around casually, without any fancy blocking or choreography that reminiscent of the Mickey Mouse Club. They're relaxed, they don't try too hard. The only thing that comes out from them is their music. Their talent is what draws the crowd's attention, not looks, not choreography, not the set.

Supposedly, O.A.R. is one of the oldest bands in the industry. They've been together since 1996. I haven't seen many concerts, but I do know that when it comes to bands, only the lead singer becomes popular. For example: Tony Hadley and Spandau Ballet; Sting and the Police...the list can go on and on. For O.A.R., though, each member has their own time in the spotlight. Richard gets his own guitar solo, Chris gets his own drums highlight. Benj with his base guitar and Jerry with his saxophone, all have their own time airtime. I think that's what I like best about them. They share!

So in summary, I would say, these guys are so down to earth, they seem just like your buddies. It just turns out that they're really talented musicians...and they rock!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore

I won "A Hint of Wicked" by Jennifer Haymore, from Gaby317's blog site "Starting Fresh" and tried reading it. Thank God it was something I won and not something I bought because I don't think I can go through the entire thing. I guess I'm just not so interested in themes involving one woman being in love with two men I am also no longer interested in reading soft porn with no plot. Then again, maybe I'm being unfair because I only read until the second chapter, but that is all I can stand right now. Thank you, Gaby317, and thank you Hatchett Books, for giving me the chance to read this. This is going on my paperbackswap books. I'm sure other people will find it more interesting than I did.