Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Time to Play Ball!

For me, growing up in Iowa with summer baseball, watching movies like The Natural, Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, Major League, and the original Bad News Bears with Walter Matthau... and, periodically heading to various major league ballparks around the midwest when I wasn't actually playing it or watching it at the local level... the start of baseball season was the beginning of spring and the signal that the summer days were imminent.  Today is that day, and the dog days of summer are not far ahead.

While I was not, and am not now, the baseball player I dreamed of becoming, it is nice to live in a cycle that is paralleled by the baseball season.  It seems that the landscape season in Minnesota largely follows the same path and routine as that of a professional ball player.  There are the winter days off, taking some time off but continuing to sharpen the skills and study the game.  The spring training begins with some design work and taking training programs that the MNLA or other associations and vendors put on in January, February, and March.  Then, the season arrives at the first burst of spring-like weather, when it seems the snow is behind us and the more temperate weather is here to stay.  The time spent outdoors in the field starts to increase week by week.  Then, the season takes speed and is a fury of going place to place to place, with lots of travel and lots of time logged into the computer doing CAD drawings and making correspondence.  Hopefully, by the latter part of the season, the rewards are coming in with a good base of business and success that can get you through the month of October and early November.  And, hopefully, by the time that the decline in the cold darkness of winter dormancy arrives, when it is time to retreat indoors, there is a level of satisfaction and reward with how the season had ended.  This happens just as the major league baseball champions are crowned.  Finally, it is time to relax and reflect, and gradually plan out the strategies of the next season.  And, ultimately, the cycle begins all over again.

The big difference, of course, is that I do not get paid anything like a professional ball player.  Not just in terms of money, but also in terms of salary versus performance-based income.  If only players could get paid based on the number of wins they have, or RBIs, or put-outs, or pitching victories they attain.  Or, better yet, if only I could get paid a guranteed salary whether or not I produce it, and can be paid handsomely for endorsements.  Then, we'd really be talking parallel.

One of the programs that I love playing with and can use effectively is Google SketchUp.  It is a pretty versatile software which allows mockups of certain ideas, as well as more thorough studies of spaces and structures, with a level of illustration that is effective for putting clients into their design . It is something that is not for every client or every project, but when used and blended with other conventional design techniques, it can be very useful and helpful.  It can bring out the masochist in you, and can be about as addictive as getting immersed in a video game and trying to get to that next level.  But it allows clients to really see and preview aspects of their design.

Here are some examples of how I use SketchUp, which are additional to the models of a project shown in previous posts.

Here are the seats that I will be sitting in at Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins, this summer.  This model was created by "makikalem" on SketchUp.  Just when I think that I am being a masochist, I see models like this, or the Eiffel Tower, and realize that maybe I am not alone in my SketchUp addiction.

First Game Seats:

Second Game Seats:

The Concourse:

The Ballpark from above:

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