15 things not said aloud regarding doing projects around the house by Evan Troxel

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I will now list the things that are well known about doing projects around the house but are not said aloud.

  1. You will do projects around the house to learn what you’ll never do again.
  2. You will have to measure it more than once.  
  3. You will have to cut it more than once.  
  4. Everything looks easier on YouTube.  
  5. The things you are trying to join together perfectly: they are not square. 
  6. Nothing is square.  
  7. Everything is heavy.  
  8. You probably have too many tools.  
  9. You obviously need more tools.
  10. Who is going to clean up that mess? You are.  
  11. If it doesn’t fit, force it.  
  12. If you can jump it, you can caulk it.  
  13. All the things should be aligned. Why won’t all the damn things be aligned? See number 6.  
  14. The things that are the most difficult to do are the things no one will notice.  
  15. The thing you tried really hard to do and were content with even though it wasn’t perfect is the thing everyone will notice. 

✱ Scandinavian Exploration by Evan Troxel

Last year my wife and I went on an amazing trip to Scandinavia. We were afforded this opportunity because I won a travel fellowship competition called Xref that’s awarded annually by HMC Architects where I work.  

Recently I gave the following presentation of my epic trip to my colleagues. I told the story and accompanied it with ~500 slides of original photos and videos that I’m very proud of.

It’s a long presentation, but I think you’ll like it. Grab some popcorn and settle in.  

Google Maps locations by area:

✱ Archispeak Featured on ArchDaily – One of the 7 Best Podcasts for Architects by Evan Troxel

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I'm pretty thrilled about Archispeak being named one of ArchDaily's best architecture podcasts in the post "The 7 Best Podcasts Hosted by Architects, for Architects". As always, we're in great company.

Brandon Hubbard of The Architect's Guide was the author of that post, and his site is worth checking out if you're looking for a job in the profession. 

✱ iPhone X: Why "The Notch" Exists by Evan Troxel

For all the complaints I've heard about "the notch" at the top of the iPhone X screen, I have a thought about why it exists. And yes, there are many ways my premise could have been handled, no doubt. But I think it was an intentional design decision. It's there to let you know where the "top" of the device is. It's otherwise a perfectly symmetrical design from the front. How else to you let your customers know how to orient the device when it's a perfectly smooth slab of glass? Like I said, I'm sure there are other ways but this one makes sense in this context.

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We all know where our current iPhone bottom is based on the location of the home button. When you take that button away, users still need to know where the microphones and speakers are, otherwise there would be tons of complaints about not being able to discern the correct way to hold the phone (cue: "You're holding it wrong."). So now, instead of telling us visually where the bottom is, they're telling us visually where the top is.

Just look at the AppleTV Siri Remote complaints for a case study. There have been so many complaints of the remote being symmetrical visually.

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✱ Landon Matthew Troxel by Evan Troxel

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Landon
Matthew
Troxel

 

August 31, 2017

Today is a good day. While my brother has been an uncle for 15 years already, I'm now one myself. Landon Matthew Troxel was born at 3:37am August 31, 2017. The family is doing great.

Landon, this part's for you: you have some great parents who love you very much, and your extended family can't wait to meet you. You're on a rock that's speeding 'round a star at 67,000 miles per hour. The chances of you being here are 400 trillion to one, but now that you are, we all consider ourselves the lucky ones. Welcome to the planet. 

✱ FLW 150 by Evan Troxel

Frank Lloyd Wright would be 150 years old today, and thinking of him immediately took me back to my childhood. At around 8 or 9 years old, I replicated his floor plans on grid paper of my own. I would beg my parents to buy me plan books or find books in the library because they were utterly fascinating, and I remember specifically drawing the Robie house (seen below) and being in awe of the kinds of plans he designed mainly because it didn't look anything like the houses I had lived in. I only thought of them as 'plans' at that time... I didn't even know they were real buildings! But then at one point I remember seeing pictures of the Wingspread house (in the slideshow below) for the first time thinking that it couldn't be real. How could that be a house?

Mind.

Blown.

💥

 Animated floor plan of the Robie house

Animated floor plan of the Robie house

It's amazing to me what a man with such an incredible vision and creativity could do with a pencil.

I've had the opportunity to visit a few FLW buildings—the Hollyhock house in Hollywood, the Ennis house in Hollywood, the Gammage theater at ASU, and Taliesn West in Scottsdale. I've always loved my experiences in them and obviously I have a lot more to see. He designed over 500 built works.

So here's to Frank. His architecture was a piece of what inspired me to become an architect, and his architecture will continue to inspire us for at least another 150 years. What a legacy.

✱ Joshua Tree Climbing – May 2017 by Evan Troxel

A few different trips to Joshua Tree National Park are part of this video compilation of mostly time lapse footage. 

Take a second to subscribe to my YouTube channel. It's my goal to make more of these short films, and by subscribing you'll be the first to know when I post the next one!

My gear:

Camera - http://amzn.to/2qS2DXG
Lens - http://amzn.to/2qQMTGz
Tripod - http://amzn.to/2qRT9vE
GoPro - http://amzn.to/2qQT4um
GoPro tripod - http://amzn.to/2rwefm7
Microphone - http://amzn.to/2qfCAYB
Get this windscreen - http://amzn.to/2rM6LbK

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/etroxel
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/etroxel

✱ Joshua Tree Bouldering! by Evan Troxel

It was a gorgeous, windy day of bouldering in Joshua Tree National Park during the Spring bloom where I had the opportunity to intentionally slow down, enjoy my surroundings, and tear the skin off my finger tips!

Take a second to subscribe to my YouTube channel. It's my goal to make more of these short films, and by subscribing you'll be the first to know when I post the next one!

My gear:

Camera - http://amzn.to/2qS2DXG
Lens - http://amzn.to/2qQMTGz
Tripod - http://amzn.to/2qRT9vE
GoPro - http://amzn.to/2qQT4um
GoPro tripod - http://amzn.to/2rwefm7
Microphone - http://amzn.to/2qfCAYB
Get this windscreen - http://amzn.to/2rM6LbK

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/etroxel
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/etroxel

 

✱ How Do You Do? by Evan Troxel

By far, the question I get asked the most is, “How do you do so much?” Another version I hear a lot is, “I don’t know how you do everything you do.” I get the same question/comment weekly if not more often. I’m going to put some thoughts on the page here so I can point people to this blog so they can read about it if they want to. Hopefully you’ll get something out of this too.  

In a nutshell, I do a lot. I don’t take time off too often. I’m nearly maxed-out on PTO. But when I do, I make it count. I don’t watch much TV. I don’t like to sit still. I love making things. I want to do even more. I sleep seven hours a night (I only say this because I won’t sacrifice sleep—I need to stay healthy so I can do more). I like to record podcasts. I haven’t decided if I’ll write another book. I recently made an online course to teach others a 3d program. I’m designing (and am going to build) a custom camping trailer from scratch. I’m a licensed architect. I mentor people. I lead. I’m on many teams. I want to be outdoors more. I like to exercise. I love rock climbing. I miss making music. I want to travel and see things. I want to have experiences. I want to be inspired. I want to be with my family. 

I think about two words quite often: freedom and impact.

I like making goals. Part of the reason I like making goals for myself is that I enjoy progress. I try to go through the goal setting exercise once a quarter. Some goals are short burns, and some are long term. 

I also like autonomy. Autonomy serves me well. I don’t like having to move at someone else’s speed limit (and this doesn’t always mean I like to move faster). Autonomy gives me the freedom to do more with my life than most people are comfortable taking on. It also allows for me to do meaningful work, to me at least. 

The word ‘freedom’ immediately came to me earlier this year when Mark LePage asked the EntreArchitect Facebook group to "Pick one word that defines your focus for 2017.” There were lots of great words added in the thread that day and for many days after that. I wrote ‘freedom' that day because it meant autonomy among other subtleties. 

So freedom was my word… for about 3 months. I've now changed it. Don’t get me wrong, freedom hasn’t been banished. It’s still there, but it’s not the priority. It’s now periphery. Hopefully it’ll be an outcome of my new word: impact.

Why did I change my word? Because I want to make a difference. Freedom was selfish. Freedom was for me. Impact is for others. Impact is my why. Why do I do what I do? To make an impact. To help others. To make a difference. To push the boundaries. To color outside the lines. To make progress. To allow for change. For better.

In case you’re wondering, I’m no different than anyone else. You could choose to do anything I do. You might be able to do it better. You just have to decide if it’s worth doing. What's important? What’s your priority?

If I could ask you to do three things, they would be:

  1. Care more about something. Talk about it. Share it.
  2. Do more. More, more, more. This often means doing less of something else. Take inventory and make tough decisions on what you can cut. Make a Now page about your priorities for a little accountability.
  3. Start. If you start, you’ll make an impact. This is what the world needs, even if it only affects one person.

✱ Inside the Firm Podcast by Evan Troxel

I was recently asked to answer a couple of questions for a new podcast called Inside The Firm about working within the profession of architecture. The questions come from Alex Gore and Lance Cayko of the prestigious firm F9 Productions in Longmont, Colorado. Here are their questions:

1. What is the worst advice you have ever gotten in your career?

2. What is the best advice you have ever gotten in your career? 

Listen in to hear my answers, and be sure to listen to their other episodes. I'm enjoying what the guys at F9 are doing. And they came out with a new episode every Friday, so subscribe!

You can find all their episodes on Soundcloud and iTunes.

✱ FormZ Fundamentals Video Course Preview by Evan Troxel

Next week I'm launching a new video course on the Method website. I've been working on it for the last 3 months and am happy it's almost here!

Leading up to the launch, I'll be previewing a small video section of the course each day. Each video will be about 5 minutes long, so I have socially engineered them to be the perfect distraction.

I won't post the updates here on this site each day, so be sure to check it out and then go back each day to see a new section of the course as they are revealed. Of course you can follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook as well if that's your thing.

Click here to start the preview

✱ Granman by Evan Troxel

Today has been emotional. My dad called me this morning to tell me that my grandfather—his father—is gone. He was 96, and he was the last of my grandparents to grace our presence. As I tearily sit here and reminisce my experiences with him, I am left most moved by his life of exploration and unstoppable desire for learning about and figuring out one of the most beautiful places in the world: Death Valley. He had something I don't: singular focus. His passion was for the geology of Death Valley. 

His gift to our family was showing us that we were explorers and that we went out to enjoy and study the planet we live on. He gave us a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective of what one of the most extreme places on earth was like to try to fully understand, and he spent most of his life out there trying to figure it out.

I'm sure the geologic community will miss him. He's arguably the most "famous" family member I've had. Throughout my life, more people than I can count on my hands (including professors in college, other architects, and strangers) have asked me if I'm related to him, just by connecting our last names. It was because he was a well-regarded geologist who spent the better part of his life searching for answers on plate tectonics in Death Valley of all places. I always thought that was cool. Somehow, before there was an internet, he had important things to say about it and his words spread. You can see his books on his life's work at Amazon

Here are some of my memories connected to him:

  • The story of him getting his USGS-issued station wagon stuck in Death Valley for 3 weeks in the middle of nowhere. His tires punched through the crust of the dry lake and he found out after it was too late that the chicken wire mesh used to get the tires out of those kinds of situations had been cut into small, tidy little squares and rendered completely useless. He dug out the underneath of the car and lived in his shady makeshift cave until someone finally found him three weeks later.
  • When the geology students of Sonoma State university had serendipitously found a wooly mammoth tooth while eating lunch in DV during a field trip. We were out there visiting him right after that happened. As a kid, I got to see them unearthing the entire skeleton from the ground. It's now on display in the Shoshone Museum, near where it was found.
  • Searching with Granman for trilobite fossils at the road cut, going up into the ash hills looking for fire opals, scavenging the ground for quartz crystals, and finding the Lockheed SR-71 crash site looking for bits and pieces of titanium, carbon and asbestos. 
  • Crawling through dark, tight tunnels carved by water through the ash hills. He always had a new adventure for us when we visited.
  • Going deep into the gypsum mines near China Ranch, long before they were fenced off and closed to passers-by.
  • Driving his old 1974 orange and white FJ55 Landcruiser on backroads and trails that not many people have seen to destination mostly unknown like Chloride Cliffs and other remote places. That truck was first my dad's, then my grandfathers, and then mine. I miss it.
  • Spending Christmas with my family at an old iron mine. We were in DV in the cold of winter and my parents, brother and I slept in the heated bathroom building while my grandparents were in their small travel trailer. When we got there, they were skinning a burro. Feral burros were still in the area from miners generations ago. I remember not liking the meat LOL. One day we hiked out into the hills and somehow and found a small pine tree, cut it down, dragged it back to our camp and decorated it with junk we found laying around the mine site. We placed ornaments of crushed beer cans, rusty metal parts, and barbed wire onto the tree. Best. Tree. Ever.
  • Being introduced to the ritual of going to the Tecopa Hot Springs—a set of natural hot baths that people in the area use for healing and relaxation. 
  • My grandfather was a consummate collector of mostly junk, and I loved it even though I was enlisted several times to help clean it out. I will always remember digging through his stuff looking for treasures that I knew he would part with if I asked. I've never seen so many golf clubs outside of an actual golf store.
  • He owned the first Macintosh I'd ever seen. It was the coolest computer ever (I was probably 12), and he was using it to write his books and draw diagrams before most people knew what to do with computers.

Goodbye Granman. I regret not spending more time with you.

✱ Subtitled by Evan Troxel

In 2014 I had the opportunity to collaborate on a design project that was something out of the ordinary, and I recently went looking to see if I could find it online. Youtube to the rescue! 

Working with my friend and colleague Mark Schoeman, we were given full leeway to design and produce English subtitles for a short film where the actors speak French. You might think that there's no design opportunities in subtitles; they're pretty boring, right? But we came up with what I like to think is a creative approach. Our subtitles really add to the film, help tell the story in a more intimate way, and set it apart. If you have the chance to see it, it's a beautiful film that's worth your time.

Anyway I just thought it would be fun to put this up on my blog. It was interesting work, especially for a couple of architects, and at the same time difficult (working in another language, and the sheer amount of subtitle work that had to be done). In the end we had to do it twice—once in English for the North American release and then again in French for the release in France. 

The film went on the festival circuit and won five awards. You can learn more on its IMDB page.

Here's the trailer that gives a glimpse of the story and what we did:

Universal Language

✱ On the Other End of the Microphone by Evan Troxel

I've been sharing on a couple of other podcasts lately. 

First, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Enoch Sears who is an architect and the publisher and founder of the Business of Architecture website and podcast. We talked about the Archispeak podcast, ARE Hacks, and lots of other fun stuff. It comes in two parts, and you can listen to them or view them here:

Part 1 - Behind the Scenes of the Archispeak Podcast: Intervew with Evan Troxel
Part 2 - Passing the Architect Registration Exam: ARE Hacks with Evan Troxel

I was also interviewed on the Entrepreneur Architect podcast by Mark LePage where I discussed my origin story, my projects, my day job, and my book. This one was a lot of fun. Mark asks great questions. 

We got into some things my book reveals in a candid conversation:

It’s very easy to schedule a test and show up to take it, but the hard part is to prepare: diet, nutrition, how to deal with distractions, learning to study, choosing to study with others or without, how to study around your family, etc. It’s less about hacking the ARE and more hacking your life.

Listen to episode 135 of the EntreArchitect Podcast here.

✱ Make 2017 Your Year to Become an Architect by Evan Troxel

My book, ARE Hacks, is all about choosing yourself: you have to decide to get your license for you; to make yourself more valuable; to finish what you started; to make our profession better in the future. Within the chapters of the book I give practical strategies, advice, tips and tricks, resource recommendations, and what to expect throughout the process of sitting for the exams. I talk about the psychological affects of passing and failing, and it includes the consolation of knowing what you're going through. Like I say in the book, passing the ARE is the hardest thing I've done, and I want to help you however I can to ensure your success.

Our profession needs you! 2017 is right around the corner and you might be thinking about making a resolution. Or you might be avoiding it like I did for so long.

I know... I was there not so long ago

  • I know you are sick of hearing the persistent voice in the back of your mind that keeps telling you to get your license.
  • I know you are pissed-off that you can’t legally call yourself an architect yet. You keep dreaming up new titles that don’t get you in trouble with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) or the state you work in, yet honor your talents and hard work because you’re not a “real” architect.
  • I know that you aren’t even sure you want to officially join the profession of architecture and become a liable professional. It’s so screwed-up, right?
  • I know that you say you’re going to start but you keep putting it off. But I also know you want to be done with it more than ever. Why else would you keep putting “GET LICENSED” in your best all-caps architectural lettering on your New Year’s Resolutions? Year after year, it’s the returning goal that is quickly forgotten.
  • I know that life gets in the way. I know you don’t have time. I also know you want to move on and elevate your career.
  • I know it’s difficult. It certainly was for me.
  • I know you’re this close to starting. Next week, probably. Yet next week never comes, does it?

Why now?

It’s a huge commitment, no doubt. It’s a task that requires the kind of perseverance you might not know that you have. But with the launch of ARE 5.0 by NCARB just a few weeks ago, there has never been a better time to become licensed, especially if you've already been authorized to test for version 4. You have the unprecedented opportunity to take just five tests instead of the six in ARE 5 or the seven tests that ARE 4 demands. You read that correctly, and NCARB outlines the process on their website. Because of the way exam content has been mapped to bridge between the coexisting versions of the exam for the next year and a half (until June 30, 2018), candidates can use this 3+2 strategy that takes advantage of the transition like never before. This means you can take fewer tests. After that final date, all candidates will be automatically transitioned into ARE 5. 

And while my book is not about what to study to pass all those tests, it is about how to make the space in your busy life to accomplish your goal of passing the ARE. It's not easy. We all have commitments and lots of excuses. I've been through all of it—the good and the bad—and have laid out an effective plan you can use so you don't have to figure it all out by yourself.

With the end of 2016 quickly approaching, it's a time of reflection and planning for what you'll conquer next year. I hope you'll take the next few weeks and do some introspection about getting your license and ultimately decide to become an architect in 2017. Make it your year. Allow me help get you motivated and give you the tools and the plan that you need to succeed. That is the reason I wrote ARE Hacks, and I know it will help you achieve your goals. 

Find out if ARE Hacks is for you. Read the reviews here and sign up for the email newsletter to get a free chapter by entering your name and email on that page.

Onward!

ARE Hacks live: Save the date – Nov 10th at AIA Orange County by Evan Troxel

My first talk since publishing ARE Hacks is happening in Southern California on November 10, 2016 at the AIA Orange County office from 7pm – 9pm. I'll be talking tips, tricks, strategies, and hacks so you can conquer the Architect Registration Exam and help make our profession better. 

Head over the the AIAOC website to register for the event. I'll bring a few copies of the book if you want to buy one. I'll even sign it if you'd like!

✱ Why I made a paper version of my book by Evan Troxel

I originally didn't plan on writing a paper version of my book, but I ended up doing it. I started with the idea that I wanted my book to embody the spirit of how I studied for the Architect Registration Exam myself, meaning, whenever possible. I wanted the reader to have the ability to bring up my book at any moment of the day, and the only way to do that was to get it on their device that is already in their purse or pocket.

But I love real books. I love them for many reasons, and I was reminded of a lot of them when I read CJ Chilvers' blog post this morning about the reasons to buy paper books. Take two minutes to read the list and remind yourself why paper books are so important. I love reasons number 3, 9 and 13.