Archive for May 31, 2008

Three Men and Manhole Covers

Three menI can almost guarantee these three men are NOT talking about “postmodernism” but the wizened old man looks like he has plenty to say to the other two men. Daily this older gentleman sits below our fifth floor balcony as if he lives in one of those three manholes.  I often think of our fellow Fulbright friend from Ukraine, Lon K., who has his own story to tell about manholes.  He was in western Ukraine and errantly walked on an unstable manhole cover and fell in, he bruised his shin badly.  The Ukrainians who accompanied him weren’t too sympathetic and exclaimed, “Don’t you know that nursery rhyme to NEVER step on a manhole?”  No, we don’t grow up with advice like that because back in the U.S. we TRUST our manhole covers to be solidly in place.   I’ll have to ask my Kazakhstani teaching colleagues about this nursery rhyme that apparently all Soviet children grew up knowing.

I have Lon K. to thank about his views on postmodernism from an architect’s point of view.  He learned early on that blueprints just HAVE to work in order to build a structure of integrity.  You can’t have whimsical angles go off in different directions without proper support.  Architects create designs with all beams and joints to be solidly in place as we expect them to be so a building won’t collapse and kill people.  I’m still thinking of all the sad families in China who lost loved ones in the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.

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