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The College of Office Technology
The College of Office Technology
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a quickr pickr post

Floods and Mites

99 in the Shade

3:30 am – massive water leak in our house, specifically, in our coat closet (suit jackets, winter coats, some of which may be ruined, some just need drying). Turned out to be several leaks from a main air conditioning duct (looks poorly sealed). No solution yet (could be a blocked drain, or other causes), but since sleep was intermittent, our day’s labors will be too.

Itch Mite

As a bonus, D was bitten twice by the soon-to-infamous oak leaf gall mite, Pyemotes herfsi (or similar), over the weekend, leaving two large welts on her lower back, red, and itchy.

Mite Bite


“We don’t have positive identification on the type of mite that it is. We do know that it is a mite,” said Kitty Loewy, spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Scientists haven’t been able to catch one yet—they are incredibly small—but the belief that mites have invaded Illinois is based on the telltale rash that develops after the bites.

Experts say the suspected mite probably is new to the area, joining a rogues’ gallery of gnawing, invasive bugs that include the Asian tiger mosquito and the Asian ladybird beetle, all recent and probably permanent residents thanks to an increasingly interconnected world of shipping and transportation.

Still, investigators seemed to be narrowing in on an invasive variety of itch mite from Europe—the oak leaf gall mite, Pyemotes herfsi—a close relative of the straw itch mite. It feeds on midge larvae in oak trees, but happily falls onto unsuspecting people passing by when it runs out of food. It can blow in the wind and land far away. On people, it probes and chews and causes powerfully itchy reactions to a potent toxin in its saliva.

and if this is what it is like to be an entomologist, no thanks!

For the last three years, scientists in Kansas and Nebraska have studied its life cycle and behavior, said James A. Kalisch, an entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

It seems to emerge and thrive from late summer until early winter. The mite uses a powerful neurotoxin in its saliva to paralyze and kill soft-skinned critters as large as caterpillars. To humans, the bites aren’t toxic, but they are devilishly itchy—something Kalisch discovered after dabbing some mites into the damp crook of his arm to see what would happen.

Within 24 hours, he said, it grew itchy, then slightly painful, as if bruised. He got a mild fever and a tinge of headache. The worst of it took four days to develop and more than a week to blow over.

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Drill Bit Building

Not too sure if this proposed Big Screw building will ever even be built, but certainly is an unusual structure. Seems like it might unbalance the skyline, but the other proposal was for two bulky mid-rise buildings without much style. So, in a binary world, I’d choose the funky over the prosaic. If this were a binary decision, which I don’t think it is.

In Chicago, Plans for a High-Rise Raise Interest and Post-9/11 Security Concerns – New York Times:
In a city known for its skyscrapers, in an era when tall buildings have become targets, can the skyline handle one more that stretches the limit? In Chicago, it seems, the answer may be yes – if the architect is a “starchitect” like Santiago Calatrava.
…Living in the Calatrava tower would not come cheap, by Chicago standards. Mr. Carley said he expected one-bedroom units to sell initially for at least $600,000, with full-floor units of some 7,200-square-feet topping out at $5 million.

The twisting design, which was recently tested in a wind tunnel in Canada, would disperse Chicago’s gusting winds, Mr. Carley said. And Mr. Calatrava designed the interior so that posts and columns would be toward the structure’s center, to allow balconies on some floors and maximize the floor-to-ceiling views.

and the Tribune:

A far less well known developer, Chicago’s Christopher Carley, will unveil his proposal Wednesday for a slender, 115-story tower with a steel spire that could soar higher than 2,000 feet.

Designed by superstar Spanish-born architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, the skyscraper would rise next to Lake Shore Drive and near the entrance to Navy Pier. Its tapering glass facade would ripple like folds of drapery.

For Carley, the chairman of Fordham Co., the planned hotel and condo tower would be taller than the combined height of his last three previous projects: two towers of roughly 50 stories and an eight-story structure.

Financing for his latest project has not yet been arranged, and will largely depend on achieving prices rarely seen in a downtown market. “Is this going to get done?” Carley said. “It’ll be market-driven.”

But the ambitious proposal, to be called Fordham Spire, would dramatically shift the focus of Chicago’s skyline, and it likely faces community opposition and the challenge of obtaining financing in what some are calling an overheated real estate market.

The Tribune revealed in May that Carley was working with Calatrava–the architect of the bird-like Milwaukee Art Museum addition, the Athens Olympics sports complex and the planned transportation center at Ground Zero–to design a tower on at least one of two sites along the west side of Lake Shore Drive and the north bank of the Chicago River.

Under Carley’s plan, those sites would be combined into a single 2.2-acre parcel at 346 E. North Water St. The area is now an unruly patch, filled with overgrown grass, gravel, trees and a construction trailer.

From it would sprout a tower utterly different from the boxy forms found elsewhere on the Chicago skyline: A skyscraper with gently curving, concave outer walls attached to a massive reinforced concrete core.

Each floor would rotate a little more than 2 degrees from the one below. The floors would turn 270 degrees around the core as they rise, making the building appear to twist.
Carley and Calatrava noted that the skyscraper’s thin profile–it would have just 920,000 total square feet, compared with 4.5 million for Sears Tower–would make it a benign, not overbearing, presence along the city’s lakefront.

That is far better, they maintain, than two towers of roughly 50 and 35 stories, which current zoning allows. Towers of that size would be far more bulky and cast greater shadows, the developer and architect argue.

“The tower is without any doubt tall, but it is not big. It is very slender. It is extremely slender,” Calatrava said.

also Eric Zorn weighs in:

Our other major skyscrapers – the Hancock Center, the Sears Tower, the Aon Center and even the upcoming Trump Tower (see the Trib’s Trump Cam for progress) — have a sturdy quality that fits nicely with our town’s nickname, “The City of the Big Shoulders.”
Now what are we supposed to be? “The City of the Big Screw”?

Michael Jordan shaved head look

I’m watching a classic 1988 Bulls vs. Pistons game (first aired on April 3, 1988) on NBA-TV, and I figured out why Jordan shaved his head the following summer. In this game, Jordan still has his normal hair, but is rapidly thinning in front. Somewhere buried on the Bulls bench (and playing a few minutes in 1st Q/2nd Q) is a center Granville Waiters, who had an advanced state of male pattern baldness, as much as Bozo the Clown in fact.

I’m sure a young Jordan, razzing Waiters one day in practice suddenly realized that he might be next, and decided to shave his remaining hair off to avoid the embarrassment. Perfectly logical.

update, rewound the TiVo, and Waiters definitely was the guy that started the trend. See this photo. Nuff said…

Granville Waiters

Granville Waiters as a Rocket

Jordan’s Hair Trigger, as it were. Ahem