the answer, my friend…

TLC pano 011921 sm

This as you may know from previous posts is one of the new buildings that have been popping up on campus the past few years that I can’t help but draw as they grow. This is the Teaching and Learning Complex, or TLC, next to the Silo which is away to the left there. Behind that tree. On the day I drew this, the wind was blowing hard, blowing off some of the coverings on the building. It was also the last day of the Trump presidency, speaking of wind blowing hard. I’ve been waiting to use that one, I thought of it when I was drawing. I drew most of this fairly quickly for a panorama, it was the afternoon and I was working on campus, and had to drop something off at the international department, which these days of hardly anyone being on campus means some coordination and passing off of a brown inter-office envelope at an outside location. It makes me feel like a secret agent or something. Anyway I got that out of the way earlier than expected so I had a bit of time before my weekly COVID test, a requirement for those who do come to work on campus (and I come in once or twice a week) (I am bored of working from home and miss the office, which has fewer snack distractions or cats begging me to turn on the taps at the sink). I coloured it in later, the blowing hard wind not really the place for the watercolour set. We have had much harder blowing wind since, there was a big storm that rumbled across northern California last week taking down so many trees here in Davis, it was a scary, noisy night.

Changing the subject completely, a few months ago the legendary presenter of the game-show Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek, passed away and his final show was broadcast recently. The show is now continuing with a new host, Ken Jennings, a well-known former Jeopardy champion who for all the will in the world is not a game-show host. I think technically he is a ‘guest host’, but it got me thinking about all the game shows I used to like years ago in Britain, and so my wife and I discussed those game shows we had when we were kids, her ones being over here in the US and mine being very much anything with Bruce Forsyth. There were many that crossed the Atlantic (the most recent one being British game show The Chase which we had seen on previous visits back home, but just started here, also with Ken Jennings and two other Jeopardy champs as the ‘chasers’, including my son’s favourite James Holzhauer). At this point in the story I should start listing all of them, your Price Is Rights, your Generation Games, but I can’t really remember them all (I’d have been useless on the Generation Game), and then this becomes another blog post about ‘member this? ‘Member that? ‘Member when we had TV and everyone watched TV, etc. I’m not sure why I’m bringing it up in fact, and I think this is a topic for a longer post that I already would advise against reading. But game shows do add a lot to the language, in certain catchphrases and sayings that filter in to the common consciousness, a bit like how sporting terms crop up in conversation without you knowing the origins. For example we all say things like “that came out of left field”, which is a baseball term (nothing to do with the musician who did that track with John Lydon in the 90s). Or we will say “they had a good innings” when someone dies, more from cricket than baseball. Or we might say someone is “out for the count” which is from either boxing or vampire slaying, both popular sports you don’t see on regular TV any more (I think vampire slaying is still available on “pray per view” channels). I do often find myself using phrases from old games shows that I realize might not have been as popular over here. For example I was at the supermarket buying fruit, and I says to the fruitmonger, “you don’t get nothing for a pear…” and they didn’t respond “…not in this game!” In meetings at work, if someone says I have made good points, I always respond with “and what do points make? Prizes!” while rubbing my chin, while everyone stares and blinks. I was at the card shop, and I was buying some birthday cards and I said “dollies, do your dealing” and the look I got, well, let’s just say it wasn’t “nice to see you, to see you nice”. Basically growing up my whole vocabulary was shaped by Bruce Forsyth. I want to point out that I never say any of those things in public in America because I’m not insane, but it does remind me that I grew up with tv game show hosts being proper tv game show hosts. So farewell Alex Trebek, I hope that a worthy full-time successor comes along at some point (although not necessarily with lots of outdated eighties-era catchphrases).

and it’s never gonna be the same

Walker Hall UC Davis (nearly ready...) Still working from home, but coming to campus a couple of times a week at least to do stuff in the department, although the lack of people on campus really is depressing, the start of Fall quarter is usually about the buzz and energy of everyone being around, but there’s none of that this year, with most people working from home and most students taking their classes remotely. This is the Zoom Generation. What a year. Nobody really knows when this will end, but end it must, and construction goes on for when we are all back. I wonder what impact the pandemic will have on future architecture? I’d be interested to follow developments in the next few years with global pandemics in mind now that is a thing. In the meantime here are some sketches I did in the middle of September on the UC Davis campus of some of the ongoing construction projects. Above, Walker Hall, which is nearly ready. You can see all my other Walker Hall sketches at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157678149480548. This will be the new Graduate Center, and I attended a virtual walkthrough last week which was really exciting. Last time I was in the building was two years ago when I was invited to sketch inside during reconstruction, I was able to explore the space and try not to fall through holes in the floor, and I got my photo of me sketching with the hard-hat which was what I really wanted. It’ll be great to see Walker Hall finally open.chemistry building uc davis (lots of work still) Here is the ongoing construction project at the Chemistry Building, that started at the end of 2019. This part of it anyway, the other parts of the huge building have been undergoing work for a few years already. You can see the sky was sorta blue on these days, the AQI was still high, but the smoky skies were intermittent. Not so on the day I drew the sketch below, when skies were dull and brownish/orange from smoke. I wasn’t outside for long, but I ate a sandwich at the Silo and stood outside to draw the view of the new Teaching and Learning Complex rising over the skyline. Building work keeps on going. silo smoky sky

Some might say we will find a better day

teaching learning complex sept 2020

When was my last post? I don’t remember. I know I can look it up by just looking at my last post, but even as I read the date I forget what it says. Time is an irrelevance. It’s October now, isn’t it? What month is that, eight? Ten? Are months important any more? When you look at months, they do beg the question: what the hell is that about? This one has 30 days, this one has 31, then comes February and it’s like, wait no, just 28 for you, except every now and then it’s 29, I mean what the bloody hell? What is an hour?How many in a day, 24? Right let’s divide the hour into 24, no actually 60, I mean when you actually look at it all, it really does make you wonder WTactualF? Days in a week? 7 FOR SOME REASON. What is a week? I mean we know what a year is. We can understand years. Days too, to an extent, although the actual day bit depends on the time of year and where you are on the planet. But years, we get years, we can’t do anything about years. The French Revolutionaries tried changing all the months to more sensible time frames, with funny names like Breezy, Wheezy and Sneezy (those weren’t the real names, that’s what the British called them mockingly, because our old fashioned months made so much more sense). Years we understand. Except that there are only two thousand and twenty of them apart from all the thousands that went before. Don’t get me started on the boring people that insisted on the millennium not being the millennium because there was no year zero, and I was like well what the hell are we supposed to do with all these fireworks?? Besides I personally count years from 1BC. Years though, I do understand years, and a week ago or so (I think, time is an irrelevance) I celebrated fifteen years living in the U.S.

Fifteen years! Fifteen times around the Sun, and what a bloody hot sun it has been, especially lately, here in California. It’s October, and we’ve still been having 100 degree weather. Fires have still been giving us choking air. As a socially-distanced-soccer coach I constantly check the AQI to see whether the Sky Gods will permit us to kick the ball around for a bit while trying to stay six feet apart, and still be heard trying to explain rules of complicated drills under my mask. The game is the best teacher. Recently we got out of town for the weekend, driving down to Monterey across a California we could barely even see, the smoke was so thick, and even in Monterey the smoke mixed with the fog. I did do some drawing, I will post them another day. The pandemic is going on and on and on, with no normality in sight, I don’t need to tell you that. Cinemas are closing, films aren’t coming out. The things we love are on pause, or going away, and time is hard to measure. But I’ve been living in America for fifteen years, and that’s a thing for me to think about. I’ve generally measured time in sketchbook pages, though this has been much harder this year because I am so far behind all the other years. The sketch at the top of this post shows little relevance to the theme of this thought bubble, but it shows time passing, a new building, the Teaching and Learning Complex, the TLC, which meant something different in a different time. It’s an optimistic building, in these strange and unusual and unprecedented times, when so much teaching is happening through the exhausting little rectangles that give us all headaches. I like drawing buildings on campus in their various stages of transition, it’s real time, really passing. It can’t always be measured but it’s time you can hold on to, and keep, and never get back.

We can never get this time back. People grow, live and stop, things happen and stop happening, we adapt, and it’s hard, it’s bloody hard but it was hard before, now we have an excuse, that’s what I think some days. This week I’ve been seeing videos online celebrating the 25th anniversary of Oasis’s second album, “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” which was always one of my favourite records. I remember the day it came out, I had been having the most illustrated year of my life. Illustrated? I suppose that’s the word, I was 19 and felt like I was grabbing the world by the horns a bit. That was the year I took off and went to Denmark to pick strawberries all summer. Listening to music on my crappy tape player, and what music it was, 1995 was a great year, optimistic. By the time October rolled around this album came out and I went and got the CD from Our Price in High Barnet, where I was at college, and I got home and immediately recorded it onto a cassette, so I could listen to it on the tube. I was going down to Stratford if I remember rightly, I was going on a date with a girl from Prague I’d met a few days before. I just remember getting to Stratford tube station, and I was so engrossed in the album I didn’t want to turn it off, so I just walked about Stratford until the very last bits of Champagne Supernova had finished, walking through a subway, volume turned right up on my headphones. Then I met the girl from Prague and apologized for being late, saying there was a delay on the Central Line or something, which sounded plausible. I remember it was a nice autumn evening, we went to a pub and played pool, but I just couldn’t wait to get back on the tube to Burnt Oak and listen to it again. That was all twenty-five years ago? That blows me away. And then again, it doesn’t. The last fifteen years probably surprise me more. The decade between where and who I was in September 2005, moving to America, and October 1995, listening to that album for the first time, makes me really wonder about what years really are – that was definitely longer than the fifteen years that have flown by since. I’ve fit a massive, massive amount in, and I still am, but the thirties and forties are so different from the twenties. Back in the old days, an album was as long as the amount of space on two sides of a 12 inch piece of vinyl. Then it was as long as you could put on a CD without getting bored. Now it’s arbitrary, what is an album? Endless playlists, pick and choose, random selection, the ceremony vanished a long time ago. But each song carries a piece of history with it, some memories that only you can carry, that album carries a lot of mine. Time is irrelevant, but absolutely precious, utterly priceless. We will never forget this year, none of us, a massive shared experience which will be different for everyone, but don’t look back in anger, I heard you say.

TLC

Silo and Teaching Learning Complex (under construction...)
There’s a new building on campus. I might not have been on campus much the past few months, while working from home, but I cycled in recently a couple of times to see what’s going on – not a lot – but this new building is going up next to the Silo. It will be the “Teaching and Learning Complex”, or “TLC”. Unsurprisingly this isn’t on the Med Centre because staff there wear scrubs and the TLC don’t want no scrubs. Right, obligatory TLC joke out of the way. It’s always fun having a bit of construction to draw, because you know it’s something new and interesting that will look different next time. Also it is something new in a familiar location. This was a parking lot. The one above, I drew on the way into the office one lunchtime, but the one below was done last Friday after being in all day and finishing early, but by that time of the afternoon, about 4pm, it’s getting way too hot. I stood in the shade, but I walked home afterwards very much in the sun and I wish I’d brought my bike, but oh no, gotta get my steps in, gotta walk. I have been running a lot lately, slowly building up my speed and instances, very slowly but every bit of progress counts. I ran my first four mile run on Sunday, felt a great accomplishment afterwards, and took a rest from the running today. I have to run early in the morning, but too dry and hot later on. Davis in the summertime.
Teaching Learning Complex UCD July 2020