Proof that Architects are not Boring

Bob Borson —  May 22, 2014 — 16 Comments

Architects are not boring people … they are many things but from where I’m sitting, boring isn’t one of their character traits.

definition of the word boring

When  filling out the registration form on my Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition, I asked everyone to share with me certain things – like their name, where they are from, what they are currently doing, etc – these were mandatory fields to fill in. At the discretion of the individual, I had a space that was titled “Surprise me with something”. Here is the instruction and example I provided for that form:

“This is a box for you to use – should you choose – to write anything you want. It’s completely voluntary but there are bonus points at stake here!”

Even at 45 years old, I think with a little practice I could run a 4 minute mile. BOOM

That was my fact … and let me admit that there is no possible way that I could run a 4 minute mile unless I was on a bicycle and even then … questionable. I thought it would be interesting to collect and share some of the “Surprise me with Something” Entries from the registrations. Some are actually surprising, some are impressive, and some are sort of weird … but none are boring.


  • A few months ago I won a tater tot eating competition. My prize was unlimited tots for a whole year!   I haven’t been back to redeem any since the competition…
  • I flew a plane but I’m still terrified of bicycles.
  • Took three years “off” during the Great Recession to be a full-time Firefighter, saving lives and running into burning buildings!  Being an Architect helped, for sure!  Gotta “know your box”.
  • I got stabbed twice in 2010. – I have a pet Magpie, Turkey, Duck, Pig, and some others… – My family grows record setting giant pumpkins. – I’ve eaten McDonalds in over 20 countries.
  • I’m an architecture student, I really like growing pumpkins too. I don’t really like eating pumpkin though. Pumpkin soup is nice
  • I like to cook – mostly because I like to eat.  I like to hike half-dome at night and watch the sunrise at the summit.  Favorite beer: IPA
  • It is physically impossible for a pig to look up in the sky.
  • Although I know how to swim my biggest fear is still dying in water – either drowning or crashing into it.
  • I was arrested when I was 11. My mother was not happy. I have always loved going where I should not be going and seeing spaces most don’t take the chance to see. Trespassing is closely tied to my curiosity.
  • I won a Dos Equis competition in November of 2012 and was awarded with free travel and lodging for a weekend in New York City (a full hour away…) where my girlfriend and I went to the Masquerade Ball at the Grand Masonic Lodge and met the most interesting man in the world. True Story: he does not have an accent and is in fact just a normal guy named Johnathan who lives in Vermont.
  • I have a tattoo of my city on the upper half of my right arm, it’s really, really cool.
  • I count planes. Instead of steps. I’ve been doing this since I was at least six, probably longer. I can’t stop, I still do it. I didn’t understand, when I was a child, why you wouldn’t acknowledge the surface that you are standing on. My grandmother’s house had 33 planes.
  • I love gardening though and I sing to my plants on a regular basis.
  • I’m a washed-up poetess who peaked at age 12 and subsequently lost the ability to rhyme even two words. This is the first time I’ve acknowledged this fact!
  • I delivered my son at home on our bed.  This was not planned.  We were supposed to go to a birthing in and be with our midwife, instead I delivered him at home, on the coldest day of the year with the midwife on the phone. Intense.
  • In the middle of my most recent Krav Maga test, I had my nose broken with an elbow.  While it did not stop me from finishing (and passing it my test) it marks the first time in my almost 40 year life span that I have broken my nose. All this despite a lifetime of adventure and combat sports.
  • I don’t take myself too seriously. I don’t regret things. I will try anything once. I don’t particularly like brussel sprouts
  • I won a turkey bowling championship!
  • At age 9, I found a fossil bat. I couldn’t keep it, but the owner of the quarry sold it for $25k. Also, I like potatoes. Mashed, boiled, baked, etc.
  • My last design competition involved cake. Cakitecture. We built the Sydney Opera House – entirely out of cake and icing. It was beautiful, and delicious.
  • It is my life-long goal to tour the world in a metal band. I grew up listening to the typical bands that your mother would not approve of, and of course nobody in high school understood why I loved it.
  • The first job in SF was helping build mini golf holes for a steampunk bar/indoor golf/restaurant being built in an old mortuary.
  • I was an European champion in both javelin, and 100 meters and 4×100 m relay in High School.
  • At both camps I was at, they held an annual push-up competition for the counselors. Everyone does push-ups continuously at the same pace until only one person is left. I’ve never lost.
  • I learnt how to ride a unicycle before bicycle at age 6 (in Japan where I grew up). I can lick my nose and my elbow (at the same time!)
  • I suppressed a fire that was engulfing my neighbors house until the fire dept. could get there.  I never told him it was me who saved his house.
  • Can I surprise you telling you about the recession in Italy? I can’t find a job as an architect even though I graduated on time, with full grades, I did an internship at Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Paris, I studied in Madrid, I had an internship at MBKB Design in Chicago, I speak 4 languages, I can use a lot of software….. Maybe I’ll start to study Mandarin language – maybe that could give me a position.
  • I don’t have a single pair of pajamas that aren’t covered in stripes.
  • In the 8th grade I got my name on the wall of a bar with 14 other people for eating 10 of their hottest hot wings.
  • I rode an ostrich once…
  • While camping at age 11 I drove my uncle’s truck back from a day of fishing since he lost his glasses and could not see a thing!
  • I just recently bought some turntables, after years of wanting to become a DJ. I have no clue how to use them, but my goal is to learn over the summer.
  • I love cutting trees and chopping wood, but I also respect the trees and what they do for us.
  • I do not eat cereal with milk. Not now. Not ever.
  • My favorite thing to eat is a Russian biscuit that tastes like curtain rings (sushki).
  • At 27 years of age, I have spent time in a religious seminary, served in the combat engineering corps, completed a B.Des.Arch, M.Arch and worked in Jerusalem, Sydney and now Beijing.
  • French champion of flip jump in underpants!
  • When I was five years old I had an imaginary friend: a penguin named Penguin.  To this day, at the age of thirty-two, I still sleep with a stuffed penguin (his name is Seymore).
  • One of my hobbies is spinning fire and I’ve only caught myself on fire once, which is pretty good, considering.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this years Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition and thank you for not being boring – I am happy to consider us all as part of the same club.

Cheers,

Bob AIA signature

  • Bamgbopa Folarin

    i love to cook too, well, unlike you Bob, i cook just because i enjoy trying out recipes….and weird enough they always taste, good even if i cant name what i just cooked up. love to dance, i could be so hyper in the club ,all i need is a can of coca cola. lol
    i love acting too

  • http://vitaltechnical.com/ Vital Technical

    Ok k, you are not a boring architect!lol.

  • AlmostJane

    The responses you received were so much fun to read. Every year during our university division’s Christmas party [held after the kids take off for home] we ask a “The Question” during the coffee and dessert potion of the afternoon. It’s different each year but all those in attendance must answer [though we stay away from anything that could become inappropriate or controversial]. Some of the more recent have been “Describe each of your parents in just one word…” “What’s your favorite non-musical sound?” “Have you ever saved someone’s life?” “Name a figure from history you’d like to meet…” Etc etc. Just two years ago the question was “Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us…” It was the most popular question ever – everyone loved it – and we got a lot of the same type of responses that you got on your form. Afterward everyone was talking about how it made us realize that everyone has a lot more to them than we would ever had guessed. And that EVERYONE was worth knowing.

  • Mark

    I can be very boring–but, I also own 5/8″ and 7/8″ shipwright’s augers.

    • Kerry Hogue

      also known as a Gimlet Bit. I have one as well, but not sure of the size off hand. Cool old tools.

      • Mark

        Point of fact, these are not really gimlets, as they are “long leade” (17″ on the 5/8; 22″ on the 7/8) meant for powered drill motors rather than a hand brace, or with a cross-handle.

        Both are legacy of my boat-building days. Built almost two boats–3/4 of one; and 7/8 of another. Was offerred good money for both, and took same.

  • Kerry Hogue

    thanks for sharing. those are interesting and cool. For the record, and contrary to rumors, I have only spent one night in jail……

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      uh-huh … you mean only one night that made it into your permanent record.

  • http://www.swaindetailanddesign.com/ Cheryl

    Each is awesome in their very own special way. Thank you for sharing!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      they are a bit all over the place aren’t they? Makes me rethink my position that architects don’t have real hobbies.

  • Courtney Price

    you had me (laughing) at Dos Equis…

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      that Dos Equis story was hilarious – I have a story about that one that I’ll share with you next time we talk, hard to “tell” it in writing.

  • Cheers

    looks like.. ‘hot’ celebrity tho. Bob Borson everyone #chickmagnet ?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      that was back in “thug face” days … 1990 I believe

  • Cheers

    Post a selfie of your tattoo sir Bob :) haha

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I don’t have any tattoo’s – my body is free of ink. Never could think of anything that I liked enough that I would want on my body forever