Lac Leman and Chateau de Chillon

The nice thing about being in Geneva for almost a week was that we had time for a couple of side trips. We took the train to Lausanne, and from there a boat to the east end of the lake, where we stopped for a tour of Chateau de Chillon, a beautiful castle set right on the water, commanding the trade routes to and from Italy.

The ferries are beautiful paddle steamers, with the most amazing engines, exposed to the view of passengers in the heart of the boat. We were able to buy a single ticket that gave us access to all the trains and ferries, so it was easy to combine the two.

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Porto Party

We loved Porto. After three short days in Lisbon, walking a lot, the smaller scale of Porto was a relief. Both places were very interesting, but Porto was characterized by incredibly friendly people, affordable prices, and a vibrancy that was very compelling. At the same time, Porto was run down in places, with a lot of empty and derelict buildings, and apparently quite a lot of people living with not very much.

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To the Top of Mont Blanc

I would visit Europe more than once a year, if time allowed. There’s so much to see – nature, history, cities, countryside, food, shopping, architecture, music, art.

This year we went to Geneva for a week, and took a day to visit Chamonix and Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Europe. Chamonix is a great ski resort; however in summer it fills with tourists (like us) who swarm to the top of the mountain to see the view. As it was also our only day in France, we took the opportunity to eat at a friendly little restaurant just outside the town, recommended by Tripadvisor, and a great find.

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Upscale co-working space in San Francisco

I had the chance to see the Canopy co-working space in the Financial District today – very smart and not a typical office interior. An extensive barista-served coffee bar is right by the entry, along with large open workspaces, and a mix of smaller private offices of varying sizes. Phone rooms, meeting rooms, a pink break room and an outdoor area with black turf complete the space. Yves Behar was involved in the design.

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A Trip to Rhode Island

I haven’t spent much time on the East Coast, and was therefore very grateful for the opportunity to visit Spectrum Lighting, just north of Rhode Island. In addition to learning about a modern lighting company, and how products are designed and built, I had the chance to walk and moped around the town, which is a mix of sailing and water-based activities, with beautiful early colonial houses, and gorgeous countryside. The combination of rolling hills, historical architecture, and the ever-present water made for some beautiful views.

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More hi-fi – a remote controlled preamp

Building and learning about electronics remains one of my favorite pastimes. When I can connect it to music, so much the better.

I’m building a new preamp – this one with a microcontroller and a pile of digital hardware to provide remote control and switching. The best place for this kind of project is www.diyaudio.com – a huge set of forums for people involved in building their own equipment. I’ve been involved in the forum for almost ten years, building speakers and amplifiers.

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How anyone can benefit from religion

This is a great talk from Alain de Botton. It reflects an idea I’ve struggled with for many years: how to make use of and participate in the great religious ideas without subscribing to all the doctrinal mumbo-jumbo.

He insightfully shows the many virtues of religious practice, and suggests that rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we should be learning from the best practices of religion: ritual, symbolism, organization, mutual support and more.

Gensler!

The environment is not great for finding a job, and I was pretty nervous after I graduated. But happily I found a home at Gensler in San Francisco. This is an amazing place, with a mix of architecture, urban planning, interiors, branding, strategy, graphics and more. An incredibly talented group of people, and an enlightened culture that embraces collaboration and social interaction as well as the more traditional forms of work.

I’m working on a large urban project in San Francisco, which has given me the chance to develop my Revit skills for master planning, and do a lot of the basic tasks in architecture: massing, site planning, diagramming, yield calculations, precedent studies, model making and more.

Prior to that I worked on a large project in Bangalore: concept design for a multi-use office park. Rhino, AutoCAD, and a lot of presentation development. Also working out issues around security, circulation, and site organization, and office building core and lobby design.

I’m very grateful to Gensler for the opportunity. It’s not easy, but the rate of learning is high, and the people are great.