Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Very Superstitious...

A while back, December 1st, to be precise, I walked into my local Prometric testing site at 7:22am with passport in hand, ready to take my second architectural exam. It was Programming, Planning and Practice and I was terrified. The breadth of knowledge needed to take this exam was so vast, not even the Hubble Telescope could spot it all.

After checking in I waited in their giant lobby thinking to myself that it is so huge and under-utilized, as I always have thought. I waited patiently for my turn to go the back and watched people come in. One after the other, it was as if almost every test taker had been there before. The nice gentleman checking everyone in said "back again, I see" to at least 5 people in the 10 minutes I was sitting there. Test taking at Prometric started to feel like a culture that only frequent test takers can take part in. People checked in, put their stuff away, sat down (as far away from anyone else as possible) and stared off into space trying to recall as much information as possible. Well, everyone except for a young man doing yoga within 2 feet of me and a girl who, from what I gathered, was about to take the GRE and was so nervous I started getting nervous for her.

I found myself wanting to ask the other test-takers "what are you in for?"  but to my surprise and delight, the man doing yoga, wearing what I think was a kaftan jumpsuit, French-rolled at the bottom, asked me! It got everyone talking, and sure enough, everyone but the GRE gal had been there before for exam after exam after exam. I felt comforted by this and the realization that I might fail this test melted away.

Not too long after that  conversation ended it was my turn to get the metal detector wand waved around my body and all of my pockets pulled inside out. It was the same squirrely man as last time. After I passed that test I sat down in the well-worn office chair ready to get my finger prints and picture taken and then assigned a computer. It was the same woman as last time! And she was wearing the exact same blazer and head band!! It was at the moment that I realized that I, too, was wearing the EXACT same outfit that I had worn to take the previous exam that I passed. Whoa! (no idea why I remember stuff like this, but I do...). I immediately got superstitious. I said to myself, if I pass this I will wear my owl shirt from Target, jeans, boots and maroon sweater the next time, no question. I will have the same snack at my scheduled break and I will go to Starbucks afterwards and order a grande nonfat latte, as I have done before and will definitely do this time. But what if the "wand guy" isn't there and what if "head band girl" isn't wearing her headband, will I fail? My mind COULD and WILL go a little too far, but for now my newly found rituals are working because I passed that exam!

Boy, that felt good! I later learned that the first two exams I took and passed have the lowest pass rates. Smooth sailing from now on, I suppose...yeah right. I know what's coming and how tough it's going to be. Up next: Site Planning and Design.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goodbye 2834

Today is the last day in this office. I have sat in this desk for almost 3 years and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic as I use it for the last time. In such a short amount of time I have seen the office transform at least 3 times to accommodate our growth. We are packed like sardines, even more so now that there are moving totes everywhere you step.

Tomorrow the movers come and transport our working "home" across the street. It's a light and airy space that will hopefully be almost done when we get there on Monday morning. We will have more work spaces, more conference rooms, more opportunity to interact with each other and we will have less storage. Gasp! I've told myself that I could adapt. In fact, my goal was to only pack two totes...That didn't work out so well. I forgot to put a bunch of specs in the central file before they were moved and now I have an entire tote of specs. Ick. That put me at 3 totes. Then I learned that my phone had to be in a tote. That got me to 4, which I have had no problem filling up.

When packing one often finds curious things. A while back I posted some items that Brad had found at his desk that dated back to 1997. I didn't find anything too old since I haven't been here that long, but I did find a number of "presents" from the local mouse that has been having a good time eating my snacks.

The first person I saw this morning was Riley, she's our receptionist and all-around Renaissance woman. I asked if she was ready and she kinda laughed, but it was a scared laugh... After Riley packed her house to move last week she started packing the office; not a small task by any stretch of the imagination. Packing is the name of the game today all around the office. I really need to be working on specifications, but everyone around me is purging and packing making it difficult to concentrate. Having all of the items removed from my tackable-surfaced cubicle it's making it difficult to see things as I have, I mean, physically difficult. My periphery used to be mostly white, now it's more gray.

People talk about how great it's going to be to have a nice view out of the building (and it will be), I tell them "I look at Gary everyday; that's my view and that's my view at the new office". It's nice to know that view won't change. Gary will still be right in front of me. I hope he doesn't get confused when he sees me gazing his direction looking at the window that will also be in my view...sorry if I creep you out, Gary.
Photo: L Seiberling
"Before the Move"
I don't have a before picture handy, but my desk today looks pretty much like it did the day I started here; a computer, a coffee mug and a couple sheets of paper. It makes me wonder how I'll settle into my new space. Having nice things often keeps people from cluttering and ruining them...so I know it will not ever look like this. (I promise, Carrie, it won't).

Goodbye 2834, hello 2839!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A funny thing happened on the way back from Prometric...

I took my first Architect Registration Exam last Monday; it was Construction Documents and Services. I studied everything I could get my hands on and practiced vignettes until my eyes hurt. Naturally, when I left the testing facility I ran through a few questions in my head I wanted to check the answer to when I got back to the office.

While I was driving away from Prometric I remembered that part way through my exam I found my self singing a Maroon 5 song in my head. I wondered how that could have possibly happened as I'm really not a Maroon 5 fan... then I thought: I hope that means I was relaxed and feeling good about the test.

Then I realized I had forgotten the questions I wanted to look up! Probably just as well. I decided that no matter what happened it was good that I got one over with. I feel confident in how to study and how to approach future exams now.

What was on the exam, you interns might wonder? You'll have to see for yourself. But I can tell you that it was largely unexpected. 

How did I do, you're also wondering? Well...I honestly didn't think I passed. I ended the multiple choice portion feeling OK about half of the questions and I felt the I nailed the vignette, even though I finished with about 53 seconds left on the clock. Whatever happened in that Prometric room is in the past now because I PASSED!!! The rolling clock has begun and I'm confident in moving forward. Might just knock them all out in the next year. We'll see.

I didn't share the first test journey with anyone except a few coworkers and my husband, but now that I've gotten the first one out of the way let's start documenting the battle. Stay tuned for PPP this Fall! Feels good to be 1/7th of an Architect :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Across the street we go!

Oh, hey there! It's been a while, but it's for good reason.
I've had the privilege over the last several months to work on our new office (among other things)! This project has been a long time coming as we have been bursting at the seams ever since I started working here.
After looking at location after location the boss settled on a property across the street. Once a dingy cube farm, it will now be a bright and shiny architectural Mecca! It's a simple building that our firm actually designed a number of years ago. We are adding curtain wall, enlarging the windows and putting in some great finishes to make it a great place to work and grow. 
The design, management and production team worked countless hours to make it happen (I almost pulled an all-nighter) and I'm happy to say it's under construction as I type. The windows are in, the walls are framed, the concrete is polished and it's really coming together! 
Here's where you'll find us on November 24th!

Image: Shive-Hattery


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Say What?

I realized this morning that ever since I entered the professional architecture realm I say things differently.

Instead of cinder blocks, it's CMU; I point out if wood should be firetreated; some statements are vague, leaving the real decision making to the person I am talking to; I always comment if things are code compliant or not; I am constantly pointing out sub-par detailing to my husband while we are out and about; and I say the word "typical" in normal conversation. Luckily the latter isn't in note form with a statment, then a pause, then "typical", but it comes up pretty often.

Nothing really mind-blowing about this. I just think it's funny how our professions can alter the way we speak. I'm thinking that Lawyers would be really hard to understand...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dreams CAN come true...

Did you guess what became of those 2000+ cans? If you guessed Olaf, you were right!

The movie Frozen is taking the world by (snow) storm, so several of our Shive-Hattery CANstructors created Olaf in the place of his dreams...the beach. He seems to be blissfully unaware that he would melt in that situation...

He was kept cool in a mall in Eastern Iowa for a couple weeks offering laughter, oohs and aahs to children (and adults) of all ages and eventually full bellies for those in need.

To fundraise for that kind of weight in canned food takes a good prize. We could buy tickets to be placed in jars featuring the project managers and office management team smiling faces. Why? you might ask. So their workspace could become a work of art for a day.

At the last 5 minutes of the fundraiser a surprise donation was made crowning Eric as the lucky "winner"! The approach to his desk didn't leave much to the imagination :)

Our team won the People's Choice Award and Best Meal! Way to go team!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

What CAN it be?!

CAN you see it?!!
A couple of our offices pair together each year to compete in CANstruction. We had a thrilling couple of week fundraising to raise enough money to build this mystery form and donate the food to HACAP. Everyone was excited to hear that the goal was more than doubled between the two offices!
In our office the money was raised in a back and forth, nail-biter battle of raffle tickets deposited into jars and matching of donations, resulting in an unexpected twist at the end. What was the "prize", you ask? 
A favorite project manager's work station gets "decorated" by another favorite project manager. Stay tuned for those pictures....
If you can't seem to make out what the dedicated builders below are constructing you'll have to wait until next week! 
It sure looks like they're having fun ;)