(no subject)

Something about this house is really compelling to me. It's more something that appeals to my 80s (or maybe even 70s) self than something I find interesting in my current thoughts about architecture and design. Still, something about it is compelling.


Canada Family Trip

(This is an incomplete draft that was lost.)

We had our more-or-less annual pilgrimage to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula at the end of June, and came back to the States on Canada Day (July 1, if you were going to look it up). That turned out to be a mistake, but otherwise, it was a great trip. We went to several of our usual haunts in Tobermory and around the area. We hiked a little bit of the Bruce Trail and went out to Flowerpot Island. And we did all of this with my inlaws along on the trip.

T on the rock at Flowerpot Island

Since madgallica's parents were along we had to convoy in two vehicles. But that meant that we could shift kids around, and that stopped a lot of the squabbling and poking at each other. Also, they brought along their two kayaks, and, in addition to the other things, we also did a couple days of kayaking out in the harbor by the cottage. N went out by himself, and T went out as a passenger with grandpa.

Summer Reading

Recent reads include Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock and Cory Doctorow's Makers. And, right now, I'm reading Guy Gavriel Kay's latest, Under Heaven (which, I also heard, was on someone's summer reading list on NPR last week).

Compared to the Hugo winning Spin, Wilson's Julian Comstock was somewhat disappointing, but then, so was Axis, the sequel to Spin. For me, where Julian Comstock broke down was in its casting of the 22nd Century as a mirror of the 19th. Maybe it started out as an 'alternate history' novel, where America expanded from equator to pole and coast to coast. There were some mentions of the past technologies and an awareness of the Secular Ancients, but the technology and the setting for Julian Comstock were far too close to the 19th century. History may repeat itself, but not with such fidelity and discarding all the developments that came later.

Other reviews have been more positive, and I didn't dislike it; it's just that Julian Comstock didn't connect with me as much as Spin did.

Makers was really enjoyable. It wasn't quite as galvanizing as Little Brother, which really grabbed me, and almost made me want to go back and be 14 all over again. But Makers has some interesting things to say about the culture of making things. And, just below the surface, Doctorow seems to imagine a world where enormous Cornell box amusement rides are a pinnacle of civilization.

There's a fundamental belief in Disney that Cory has always had that, I have to admit, just doesn't connect with me. I've been to both the Florida and the California Disney attractions (though years and years ago), but what I remember most was how much I liked all the streams and running water through the landscape. The rides were overhyped and underwhelming. Maybe it's because my parents weren't inclined to indulge us with merchandise, but I just don't get excited about Disney. The Mouse always seemed lame and stupid, compared to interesting cartoon characters like the Warner Brothers' crew. And now, with all the copyfights, I'm even less a fan of the rodent king.

So, for me, the Ride that Doctorow envisions in Makers never connects. The magic of the Ride remains suggested and hinted, but never directly explained. That's appropriate, since explaining it would kill it. But it seems to presuppose a vein of experience that I don't share.

One of the characters had this pronouncement, which caught my attention, as you might imagine: "I don't find much attractive about human settlement, though. If it needs to be there, it should just be invisible as possible. We fundamentally live in ugly boxes, and efforts to make them pretty never do anything for me except call attention to how ugly they are. I kinda wish that everything was built to disappear as much as possible so we could concentrate on the loveliness of the world." -- pp 296-7

Lemming Retention

A set of Twitter posts from Chairman Bruce:

- 9-11, Enron, Iraq, Katrina, mortgage crisis, bailout, euro crisis, climate crisis, oil spill -- we're led by liars and sleepwalkers

- Every major event that hits us is a fake, a fraud, a provocation, a panic or an organized denial -- never anything we foresaw or averted

- We're way past the point of rationally managing events and into a business and politics of "lemming retention"

- *And I'm not even angry -- I'm saving my temper for the endless, ugly, Soviet-style ordeal of watching the Gulf Coast drown in tar

Random Stuff & Updates

I'm being more intermittent with LJ, so I've probably missed a few things. I was trying to go back through recent stuff, and couldn't get past the last 100 friends posts. Stuff here is a collection of odds & ends I haven't posted elsewhere. I'd like to find some kind of aggregator that shared my different posts all in one common location.

Right now, the best aggregator of my output is probably Twitter (@cornellbox). Posts for EcoGeek, Inhabitat, and Greenovation often get noted there when they are posted. I also try to tweet when the EcoGeek Newsletter gets sent out. Posts to my own blog (which include a fair number of reposts of those articles), get automatically posted on Twitter by WordPress (as well as to Facebook, at least for now - I'm also looking forward to a FB-killer, either Diaspora or something else).

There is also a site with a whole bunch of other apps and options I've been checking out, but haven't really had the time to explore enough to make a switch yet. Just realized that I have some new options now that I'm doing much of my daily computing under Ubuntu.

Other stuff:

Paolo Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl*) really likes Howard Tayler's (Schlock Mercenary) boots.

* link is to Paolo's website, but it's down right now as I post this.

I'm amused by ATT's mailing campaign to try to get us to sign up for services with them. We got an envelope that was printed in what was supposed to look like a handwritten font addressed to "Valued Michigan Resident" (presumably some ad-toad's concatenation of Valued Customer (except we aren't customers) and Michigan Resident). Inside was a one page flyer that was printed to look like a 2nd or 3rd generation photocopy, instead of like a cleanly printed ad, simple black and white page which was "marked up" in blue ink to look like someone had made a copy of something and sent it to us. It's laughably bizarre to me. Maybe it works for them.

We're under siege with cottonwood fluff. Our neighbor has a huge cottonwood tree, and so it's all over our yard right now. When there's enough of it on the ground, it can be a source of pyro-amusement, though. Another neighbor showed us that you can put a lighter to a patch of it, and it burns off quickly, with a flame front that travels like a line of gunpowder in a cartoon. On the other hand, it will set fire to a broom that is sitting in its midst (not that I would have firsthand knowledge of this).

Our in-sink garbage disposer hasn't been working for nearly the last year. I finally got around to taking it out of the sink yesterday. More importantly, I put in new drain basket and piping to make it a simple, disposerless sink. We keep a compost pile in our side yard, and are pretty good about keeping much of the junk out of our sink, although we have had periodic drain problems. (I think that a lot of that dates back to before we owned the house; our problems have been less frequent over the past few years.)

Cornell boxes

I cannot go without remarking on seeing these recently on Dezeen.

"German brand Tecta have put into production a series of storage boxes on sticks originally designed by the late British architect Alison Smithson in 1988."

I don't really care for the "on-a-stick" bit, but I think these do capture a bit of the spirit of Joseph Cornell (and the use of bird images in populating the samples for photography is absolutely crucial, as well.

Several more images at the site if you want to look through.

The new US military “Cyberspace Officer” badge

Look what fell out of the "Captain Tomorrow" Crackerjack box:

from Beyond the Beyond

It's got a certain amount of retro-cool, which I have to admit I really like aesthetically. But at the same time, I find it laughable (though, like Chairman Bruce, I too fear the day when "I might well meet some husky kid in uniform wearing one of these, and there would be no doubt that he could kick my ass.")

I like what J P Barlow said: "We have the wrong model for computer security. We need to be emulating biological immune strategies not military defense."