Danny on AIA Los Angeles

Recently, the American Institute of Architects decided to create a section on their website where they could profile AIA Associate members.

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Silence & Solitude

  Last week I spent 24 hours in silence and solitude at a monastery called St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, CA.  I was without phone, internet, TV and radio for the duration.  I did have an MP3 player that I used sparingly to help me relax at times.  The reasons for doing it were two fold: 1. I’ve always wondered what it’s like and whether I would go crazy and 2.  Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, suggests the ideas of sabbath and meditation to rest and to find meaning.

The idea is to separate from daily distractions and stresses as well as getting comfortable with our deeper selves.  This involves learning to accept and even to embrace the discomfort of silence.  Surprisingly and thankfully, I did not drive myself mad.  In fact, I highly recommend that everyone should try it.

I was able to attain an inner peace.  I also found that I am less distracted and more able to focus on the present.  While the problems I faced still existed, my perspective and my response to them had changed for the better.  Granted, one doesn’t have to drive 2 hours to do this but one must schedule it and make effort to spend time apart from the daily distractions.

Here are some photos of St. Andrew's Abbey grounds:


Here are some photos of a guest room with attached bathroom:  simple and clean.


Spring is in the Air

Its time for a little spring cleaning so we freshened up the website. Tell us what you think!


Star of the Week [Sidebar]

Every week my son's class highlights a student as "Star of the Week" and each student will introduce his/her hobbies and interests to the class.  This year the teacher asked the parents to bring or present something to the class about their son or daughter so that the kids can get to know their fellow classmates better from the parents' perspective.  When we first learned of this, we groaned and wondered why do we have to do this.  After some procrastination, we decided to follow what we always tell our kids:  Do Your Best.  Luckily, the pecha kucha exercise from our Whole New Mind series gave us a direction and we are pleased with the result.  We hope you agree.  


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There is Hope for the Artistically Challenged [Sidebar]

This is part of the Whole New Mind and Right Brain series In Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, Symphony is one of the six essential senses one should develop.  Much of the industrial and information age required a person to focus, analyze and specialize in order to succeed.  However, Mr. Pink believes that as white collar jobs like analysts and programmers are shipped overseas or replaced by software that there is a premium on the opposite aptitude:  Symphony – "putting pieces together, seeing the big picture, crossing boundaries, and combining disparate pieces into a new whole."

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Drawing is listed in the book as one of the best ways to understand and develop the aptitude of Symphony because drawing, like Symphony, is about relationships.  To learn to draw, Mr. Pink enrolled in the class: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  This method was pioneered by Betty Edwards, who also authored a book of the same name.

Because I’ve always been horrible at drawing, I thought Symphony would be out of my reach.  I purchased the book, Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain, 4 months ago and have been slowly working on the prescribed exercises. To my surprise, my drawings have noticeably improved using this method and I’m not even halfway through the book yet.

One of the exercises prescribed is to draw something upside down because it will force the left side of the brain (analytical) to disassociate and allow the right side of the brain to take over.  I was positively shocked with the result.

Therefore, those of you who also thought that drawing is a skill you will never learn (like I did), there is hope.  If you don’t believe me, then see what I have accomplished in my spare time over the last four months.  If I can do it, then anyone can.

Initial Self Portrait

Initial Self Portrait

Initial Self Portrait (Feb 2012). Before doing any of the drawing exercises

Upside Down Drawing: Igor Stravinsky by Pablo Picasso

Upside Down Drawing: Igor Stravinsky by Pablo Picasso

Upside Down Drawing: Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Igor Stravinsky, 1920.

120429 Upside Down German Horse & Rider

120429 Upside Down German Horse & Rider

Upside Down Drawing: Unknown artist. German horse and rider, 16th Century

120618 Self Portrait 2

120618 Self Portrait 2

2nd Self-Portrait (June 2012).  After 5 Chapters of the book (12 Chapters in total)

120620 Self Portraits side-by-side

120620 Self Portraits side-by-side