Studying For PcM, PjM and CE

A short blurb about why it’s taking me so long to get through one 2-hour class and why it’s important that it does.

[2.5 hours] Young Architects Academy: Contracts B101 – part one, watch video.

What I need to step in and say here is that “watch video” is very insufficient terminology for what actually takes place. Watching the video entails watching a brief (1-2 sentence) piece of the video, pausing the video to take notes, pulling up the contract file and reading the full text referred to in the video, sometimes re-watching the brief segment of the video, and then finally moving on to the next 1-2 sentence segment.

The idea of studying for the ARE is that, if you do it well, the process of studying will help you to become a better architect. Rushing through the material won’t satisfy that goal. Sure you might pass a test here or there, but you won’t really understand the material and how it’s used to enhance the practice of architecture.

My goal is to become a better architect. The B101 – part one video is over 2 hours long. At this point I’ve spent more than double that time with it and am only at the beginning of article 3, out of 13. That’s to be expected and should be planned for. If something takes less time, great, but if not, you’ll be prepared. My next task is going to be to take the notes I’ve taken so far and create flashcards of the material.

When I’ve created flashcards, I use them whenever possible and that time might not appear in this list. If I’m in line at the grocery store I can get through quite a few cards. If I’m waiting at the doctors office, I can maybe get through another stack. I use Quizlet, so they are always accessible through the app on my phone.

Hours added today: 2.5 PcM

Total PcM, PjM, CE Study Time: 10 hours

Total PPD, PDD Study Time: 0 hours

Total PA Study Time: 0 hours

General Study Time: 3.5 hours

Total ARE Study Time (overall): 13.5 hours

Total Weeks into Studying: 5

(new weeks added on Sundays)

Studying For PcM, PjM and CE

[2 hours] Young Architects Academy: Contracts B101 – part one, watch video

[30 minutes] Trello: Adding NCARB information about PcM from the ARE handbook to Trello cards

Hours added today: 2.5 hours PcM

Total PcM, PjM, CE Study Time: 7.5 hours

Total PPD, PDD Study Time: 0 hours

Total PA Study Time: 0 hours

General Study Time: 3.5 hours

Total ARE Study Time (overall): 11 hours

Total Weeks into Studying: 5

(new weeks added on Sundays)

Back at it – Planning to Study

With so much to study for the ARE, planning is a big and continual part of the process.

Today I has a zoom meeting with the Emerging Professionals Coordinator from my local AIA chapter and we discussed my plans for a chapter study group. We had a productive 40-minute meeting.

He will sending out inquiries over the next week to see if anyone is interested in participating and I will be working on organizing a Trello board for the study group and getting the outline prepped for out first exam… at least the beginning of it. With so much to study, planning is a big and continual part of the process. At least I finally feel like I’m moving forward again. Tomorrow I’ll hit the contracts class for at least 2 hours.

Hours added today: 2 General

Total PcM, PjM, CE Study Time: 5 hours

Total PPD, PDD Study Time: 0 hours

Total PA Study Time: 0 hours

General Study Time: 3.5 hours

Total ARE Study Time (overall): 8.5 hours

8/5/19 – 9/8/19 – Unplanned Days Off

Unplanned days off can be a very dangerous thing when studying for the ARE. I’m going to have to readjust my test taking schedule because of these!

Unplanned days off can be a dangerous thing. I’m definitely going to have to readjust my exam taking schedule after this, but that simply can’t be helped.

We decided to buy a house and take a long road trip. Well, I didn’t exactly decide, but it’s been decided. Oh, and I have also been asked to prepare exhibits of my artwork for 2 local galleries. I’ve been working my butt off all month, but haven’t made any additional progress towards studying for the ARE.

The Emerging Professionals Coordinator from my local AIA chapter did finally return my email right before our road trip about starting up a virtual ARE study group within our local chapter. I had the idea to start and coordinate one several months ago, but it looks like we’ll progress with it over zoom tomorrow. Where did the summer go?!?!

Hours added today: None

Total PcM, PjM, CE Study Time: 5 hours

Total PPD, PDD Study Time: 0 hours

Total PA Study Time: 0 hours

General Study Time: 1.5 hours

Total ARE Study Time (overall): 6.5 hours

2019 Road Trip – Day 9: Cleveland

Today we poked around the Cleveland, Ohio area before driving the last leg of our trip home. Ohio’s only National Park is really something to be seen!

We started our last day on the road with a great complimentary breakfast at our hotel. The Residence Inn by Marriot in Mentor, OH was a fantastic place to stay and we would have liked to spend more time there.


Our first excursion in the Cleveland area was to visit Ohio’s only National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is about a 30 minute drive south of the city. This National Park offers free admission, so it was right in our budget. We only wanted to spend a couple hours there, so we headed to the Boston Store Visitors Center to ask what we absolutely shouldn’t miss. I recommend doing this first because there are 125 miles of trails and you could easily spend a week or two seeing it all. Our guide told us to focus our energy on the Ledges trail and it was the perfect morning hike for us.

First we went to see the Ledges Overlook. The rock formations were beautiful and the view over the Ohio countryside was fantastic.

Next we doubled back through the parking lot and headed down the trail towards the Ice Box Cave. The cave itself was closed to protect the bats, but the trail took us through an amazing labyrinth of moss covered rock formations that glowed like the Emerald City in Oz when the sun hit them just right. This was an easy hike, but does have quite a few stairs at the end, so be prepared. My knees managed to hold up ok.


By the time we found our way back to the parking lot, we were ready for lunch. In the Cleveland area, one of the coolest places to go for lunch is the West Side Market. We had a great time walking around the market and picking up small bites from various vendors for lunch. I stuck to a Parisian themed lunch of savory crepe and macaroons and enjoyed every bite. We took our epicurean treasures outside to an area of tables across the street. Note that you can park in the market parking lot free for 90 minutes, but after that it is $1/hour. Our market adventure cost us $1 + food.

We left the market stuffed and satisfied and started making our was home. We made a quick stop in Angola, IN for dinner at Applebees along the way, but otherwise drove straight through. It was getting late in the day and we wanted to get home before midnight. We arrived home at 9:30 and were unpacked and in bed by 10:30 after a thoroughly enjoyable vacation.

Our final stats for the 2019 Road Trip:

  • Elapsed time: 9 days, 8 nights
  • States visited: 6 (Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania)
  • Major Cities visited: 2 (Cleveland, Buffalo, Salem, Boston, New York, Allentown, Pittsburgh)
  • Miles driven: 2,590
  • Steps taken: 85,536 (I had good step days and then days we were mostly in the car where I only got around 4,000. The overall average was 9,504 steps/day… not bad.)
  • Attractions/Sites visited: over 20+
  • National Park Sites Visited: 7
  • State Parks Sites Visited: 5
  • Hard Rock Shot Glasses added to collection: 4 (Boston, Connecticut, Bronx NYC, Pittsburgh – we also visited Niagara Falls HRC but we already have a glass from there)
  • Budget: $2200 ($2199.47 actually spent)


2019 Road Trip – Day 8: Shawnee State Park, Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh, Cleveland

A long day on the road after very little sleep was challenging, But stops to get out in nature, eat good food, and see cool sights helped me through it.

After a somewhat difficult night for me with very little sleep, I was not really looking forward to a full day in the car. Fortunately there was a Starbucks nearby and I felt at least mildly human after a little coffee.  The plan was to get to Cleveland by way of Pittsburgh. Since we didn’t make it all the way to Hershey last night, we had a little more than an hour of extra drive time today.


Our fist stop of the day was Shawnee State Park. The park boasts lots of areas for picnicking, canoeing, and general running around, but this was a leg stretch stop, so we didn’t have time for all that. We walked up the hill, spent time looking at the lake, and generally admired the view before the smells of everyone grilling made us realize we were desperately wanting lunch.

Fortunately we had passed a cute place a couple miles back and decided to give it a try. img_1808Turns out Jean Bonnet Tavern was a charming historic tavern and had amazing food. It is also a bed & breakfast, for anyone who might be looking for that sort of thing in the Bedford, PA area. Read a full review of our dining experience.

The drive through Pennsylvania is beautiful. You are almost always driving around the curve of a hill… that is, when you aren’t driving through a tunnel under a mountain. Driving through the gentle rolling hills started to make me sleepy after a while. Fortunately, we were almost to Pittsburgh when it got to that point and made it safely to our next stop.


Our last leg stretch of the day was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh. I say “in”, but it actually sits outside the city center and has a great view of the city across the river. We stopped long enough for me to have a couple caffeinated sodas, since my morning coffee completely wore off on those Pennsylvania hills. It was just the boost I needed to make it through that last stretch and safely into Cleveland for the night.

After we checked in at the Residence Inn by Mariott in Mentor (NE of Cleveland), we checked Google for local restaurant options and noticed there were some seafood restaurants “on the water”. We decided to check them out and ended up getting one more fantastic east-coast-style seafood dinner before we headed home. Check out my review of Brennan’s Fish House.






2019 Road Trip – Day 7: Hard Rock Cafés in Connecticut & the Bronx

Today definitely didn’t go as planned, but sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches and make it through until the end.

Today I had planned a jam-packed day full of intense driving and Hard Rock Café stops. We needed to be out of the hotel at precisely 7am to stick to the schedule. Instead we sauntered out of the hotel at a very leisurely 8:30… yikes! The reason for my demanding schedule will be clear later in this post. For now, just know that we started very late, so my schedule was shot to heck from the beginning.


Because my fiancé collects Hard Rock Café shot glasses, we decided to take the long way home from Boston and pick up a few new additions to his collection along the way. Instead of heading west, we headed south, into Connecticut. Our first stop of the day was quite a surprise. The Foxwoods Hard Rock Café is inside a hotel/casino/shopping complex that is absolutely mind-boggling. When the directions said we were only 5 minutes away, it still looked like we were in the middle of nowhere, with one lone building poking up above the trees. Turns out, that building is the tower hotel part of a huge complex that houses 4 full-size casinos, restaurants, hotels, and an entire shopping center. The Hard Rock was somewhere around the middle. It made for a good leg stretch and fortunately we parked by the Starbucks… yay!


Our next stop was the Hard Rock Café in the Bronx on the north side of New York City. Unbeknownst to me, the Hard Rock is attached to Yankee Stadium. That would have been excellent information to have ahead of time (thanks Goggle!), because we arrived about an hour before the start of a Yankees game and the entire area was insanely crowded! My fiancé is not a fan of either big cities or crowds, so our day was starting to turn sour pretty fast. We were able to find short-term metered parking about a block from the stadium. Because the Hard Rock was so busy, I waited outside while he went in to get his collectible. They were completely sold out of shot glasses and he came out disappointed and annoyed at having to deal with the crowds. We ate a quick lunch at an overpriced Subway with no bathroom (stick with me, this is important later) and got on the road as fast as possible.

We drove between Manhattan and the Hudson towards our next stop, the Hard Rock Café in Times Square as the clock started to tick down to around 4pm… on a Friday… the Friday before Labor Day weekend…. in New York City! Some of you might have already discerned where this is going, but for those who haven’t, I’ll continue.

New York City Traffic
Photo: Flickr / dogseat.

In addition to big cities and crowds, my fiancé really hates traffic, even if he isn’t the one driving. When we took the turn left to head into the city towards Times Square, you would have thought he was going to die. I’ve driven in Chicago a lot, so I wasn’t really phased by the New York City traffic, but he was about jumping out of his skin. The tall buildings, the insane traffic, the noise, the smells… it was all just too much for him and although we were within 2 blocks of the Hard Rock, he insisted we get out of the city and continue on our way immediately.

Despite the fact that we were both somewhat desperately in need of a bathroom, we decided to play bodily function roulette. I got in the mess of cars heading into the Lincoln Tunnel and we very slowly escaped New York City by way of New Jersey. We inched along for what seemed like an eternity and the traffic didn’t ease up for a good 2 hours. By then we were happy to be free, and our bodies had abandon all hope of a bathroom, so we continued on until we finally stopped to eat at a Texas Roadhouse outside Allentown, PA. According to my plan, we were supposed to make it to Hershey, PA that night (about another hour drive), but it was all too much for my fiancé and we ended up finding a nearby hotel, the Parkview Inn, and calling it a day.

Had we left on time (an hour and a half earlier), we would have missed the Yankees crowd in the Bronx and rolled into Times Square around 2:30pm. While it may have still been busy, it is Manhattan after all, the entire day probably wouldn’t have been as much of a trigger for my fiancé. I was a bit disappointed that we abandon hope only 2 blocks from our goal, but I am careful to pick my battles and this was one I’m happy to have avoided.