In iterations 15 ( https://jefferysaddoris.com/newsletter/ ) asks a question about favorite tools. And it made me think a bit because I’m pretty utilitarian. Coincidentally I had just been chatting with my coworkers about my Wacom tablet, an intuos3 that I bought at the suggestion of a graphic designer friend who thought it might help my wrist pain in grad school. Since that time I’ve been the lone soul who who has used the product in an architecture environment and it puzzles me. Its just as fast as a mouse and I’ve very rarely ever had wrist pain (and never when its not pure CD production deadline). And its still working perfectly after 12, 13 years of daily use. Hard not to put something like that at the top of the list.
At home, I’d like to say my old Nikon D40, but sadly I think its been trumped by my iphone 6s. The sheer convenience of a cell phone has always made for a high bar, and there is a world of difference between this camera and the one that was on my previous iphone 5c. The 5c’s low light was worse than my D40, but the 6s is much much better. So the only thing the 6s doesn’t do is BOKEH! And god, the bokeh on a nice shot on the Nikon 105 f/2.5 is glorious.
Away from computer technology, I have my flair pens, just your good old PaperMate Flair(TM) pens with a small felt tip. I never have problems with any ball bearing mechanism and I’ve never felt the need for a fine tip. In fact in my world, a strong bold line that’s easy to scan and send is far more useful than the ability to scratch out fine details. And these things seem fairly indestructible, the only thing that kills them is a misplaced cap or just running out of ink.
I’m certain if I keep baking one of my tools, maybe the dough knife with a wood handle, or one of the porcelain coated cast iron pots, or maybe the towels and stainless steel bowls I use for proofing the dough may rise to the point of significance. But for now I’ll just leave them as honorable mentions.
On Boardgamegeek I got into a conversation about toy safety standards and ended up doing some digging around. Since I end up digging up random regs and technical standards at work, this is pretty familiar process for me.
The question that got me searching was the anecdote that the game Flash Point was rated “12+” because the publisher did not want to pay for the additional costs for toys for 10 year olds. So I started with googling “toy safety for 10 year olds testing” which led to some dross but the following two interesting website:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toy_safety#Appropriate_age (as to be expected, wiki has their fingers everywhere)
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Toy-Safety/ (as a rule always go to the federal government website)
For those not familiar with safety standards, typically, the technical standards are written by private organizations. Then the government will enact a law that references that technical standard. So in this case, the currently adopted standard is the ASTM F963-11 (the “-11” signifies that its the 2011 edition that was adopted, which makes sense since the most recent law was passed in 2012…as an aside, the Fair Housing Act adopted the ANSI A117.1-1986 handicapped codes and have never updated the regs to reference a more recent one, most current being 2009).
http://www.astm.org/Standards/F963.htm Not a bad index and summary on that page
However the problem is that the American Society of Testing and Materials owns the copyright over their technical standards – so you gotta pay to see the actual contents. So, sometimes the next best thing is to find summaries of the standard (again via google) though now that I know the regulatory agency, I know where to focus.
That said, sometimes industry powerpoints are also good starting points because of the fact that any good powerpoint contains a miniscule amount of content, so its a very quick read.
http://www.toyassociation.org/App_Themes/tia/pdfs/safety/TF13Seminar/Kaufman.pdf (from this presentation it seems that the different age levels is about chemical composition which would explain the increasing cost as you go down in age, NB this is pure conjecture)
But going back to the CSPC, it turns out that there was a very good summary page of how things are tested at the bottom of one of the pages. (such a high when you find something like this buried on a website!)
http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/109675/testtoys.pdf (Not the actual regulation, but a really comprehensive document for how to test those toys and for different ages. Pictures included!)
Now, we still haven’t gotten to the actual document at this point. So the next step is to go to one of my favorite places on the internet – Archive.org.And here’s a gratuitous plug for public.resource.org who was were important in fighting the copyright holders and obtaining the right upload scans safety regulations (because you can’t get governments to adopt a code, but then prevent the public from freely accessing said codes). So in my world, even though the International Code Council owns the copyright to the International Building Code 2012, a scanned PDF is available for download due to the efforts of public.resource.org (which I think actually buys a paper copy and then scans the paper copy).
Unfortunately, unlike Building Codes which are widely adopted and thus end up being needed by more people and thus available online, a search of Archive.org doesn’t turn up any copies of ASTM F963-11 So I fell back to digging around with different search terms in the Archive.org search bar and “toy safety” came up with this super cool little gem.
https://archive.org/details/ERIC_ED152405 “Voluntary Product Standard PS 72-76: Toy Safety.” First sentence of the synopsis: “The purpose of this voluntary product standard is to establish nationally recognized safety requirements and test methods for toys intended for use by children in age groups through 14 years.” And if you look at the little two digit numbers…yup the publish date is January 1977!
In my favorite podcast, On Taking Pictures (#192) there was a question about getting into “modern art” on otp192 and I thought I’d jump in with my own thoughts since I had an interesting struggle with art a few years ago.Movie Passengers (2016)
Even though I was never really big into art per se as a kid, I went to college majoring in architecture and slipped into a heavy emphasis on the visual arts, but I think a lot of it was just on the joy of making stuff in an an intense studio environment. But I did also enjoy going to the SF-Moma on a semi regular basis.
In grad school (again in architecture) I had some more theory shoved into my brain and I had also become much more cynical seeing the art industrial complex merely as an outgrowth of conspicuous consumption by the rich and powerful. Between this cynicism and the additional theory which put TOO much context in my art viewing experience … I went blank. I completely lost the ability to appreciate art. Pretty much any kind of art. It was total information overload.
The big, big turning point for me was in a video arts class I had with a quirky teacher. We ended up not meshing very well in the end, but early in the class there was a moment for which I will be forever grateful for. During a class discussion I talked about how I had gotten to the point of just not giving a shit about art. I must have mentioned that I like making art, but I find all that BS surrounding high art just uninspiring to the point of boring meaninglessness. And he responded “Ahh, but don’t you realize the viewing art is also creative experience?”
And something clicked. Not that day…but a couple months later. I was in an art museum (primarily to check out the building by Renzo Piano) and started looking at a Rothko (one of the two colors abstracts with brown on top and white below). And I decided “fuck it, I’m going to enjoy looking at this piece…even if I look at it in a way that I think would have made Rothko puke”. so I stared…and at the edge between the two colors, where the brush strokes had a bit of their own definition, I started to see an arctic landscape with an overcast sky and an igloo in the distant horizon.
And I was delighted! It was juicy to revel in such a transgressive pictorialist viewing of the work of such a prominent Ab Ex painter. For years I had looked at art as the outgrowth of various external forces…as case studies for my own current project…as a commentary of society…as a polemic within the critical dialogue of the period…but this time I just enjoyed the art for what it brought out of me. It was the first time in forever I actually just enjoyed art.
All that education was great, it put everything in context, it helped me understand the theoretical value and significance of a lot of these pieces that I had been plopped in front of. But really, this wacky moment was what brought me back into truly appreciating art –realizing that once the artist released the work, they were out of the picture. And with me standing there, I (not the artist, not the zeitgeist, not the art historian) had the right to take this image and take it wherever the fuck it needed to go. The viewing of art is my creative experience and I had the right (responsibility?) to make the most of this moment.
Since I got back into the hobby, I decided to take baby photos I had previously posted on Facebook and repost them here. While doing this exercise, I also took a chance to review and tweak the photos. The funny thing is that almost all those photos are blurry. They looked ok when I posted them on Facebook, but now that I’m looking at them on my big monitor in Photoshop…Wow they are soft!
Along with being a first time parent I was also in the middle of a remodel and changing jobs. I was so shell shocked I wasn’t even really using my DSLR then. And that’s a 10 year old D40. So I wasn’t rocking any sophisticated gear. These are “pure” baby photos – taken indoors on an ipad.
Of course, I’d prefer that these photos be sharp. But I’d trade my sharp photos of other subjects for these killer blurry moments. And that really does hit the heart of the matter, photographs are the result of many tradeoffs. I traded the chance for a better low light SLR for the financial secuirty of extra savings. I traded the better lens and larger sensor of my D40 for the convenience of an ipad. I traded high ISOs and noise for a better shutter speed. And often I traded a sharp photo taken at the same time for a more soft photo that better caught the moment. As I’ve been reading about photography these past couple months, its become clear to me that everything is a trade. You really don’t get anything for free.
I hang out a lot on the Boardgamegeek.com forums. An interesting situation came up which made me think about expertise and authority in relationship to mistakes.
I recently had a forum conversation with a member that I used to hold in high regard. He was a very distinctive personality but I always deferred to his opinion on games. In this situation he came in and dropped an authoritative line with little explanation. When questioned, he threw off a couple trite cryptic responses. When directly challenged, he went silent.
I get the sense he wants to be respected for his ability to analyze games at their core. But in this case the best move for him would have been to just admit he made a mistake and explain how the mistake came about. We are all human, mistakes and misunderstandings happen. Even though we want to be right all the the time, we all know that just isn’t going to happen, especially in the free flowing and often confusing conversational environment that exists on the forums.
While its not easy to admit you made a mistake, the paradox is that such a moment is the perfect opportunity to cement your authority as expert. Obviously, you must be right most of the time to be considered an expert, but that’s the easy stuff. The rare moments of error are the times when you can prove you are truly secure in your expertise. This is when you prove your desire to always get the right answer over being “always right.” This is when respect is earned.
But instead, I now see this guy in a new light. I’ve always assumed his distinctive personality was a consequence of his logical approach to games, but now I wonder if its there to mask some insecurity, trying to preemptively keep people from challenging him. The internet lets you be whoever you want to be because the means of interaction are so constrained. Unfortunately we all know this, so missteps are given more weight by those around you. You can hide for only so long, who you are will leak out by your actions and inactions. You can try to maintain a facade, but we’ll wonder what’s behind the that edifice.
It seems that our house hunt has been a balancing act of Price, House (lot and building), and Neighborhood (schools, etc).
Its hard enough to get 2 out of 3, but seemingly impossible to get all three. This conundrum seems to be common, as an architect the saying is price, quality, speed. And for my health care management friends its affordability, quality, accessibility.
Well not much and yet a lot has changed. I’d say that Badger’s passing was certainly the most momentous thing that happened at the end of 2012, but really that might not be true. Because right before the year closed out the heater in our apartment in 1407 Missouri died, but only after burning out and spewing toxic plastic fumes into the place. The maintenance team was unable to fix it and ownership was unwilling to do the right thing and just replace the damn system. So we got let out of our lease.
The lease would have ended in May, so most likely we would have considered moving back to Las Vegas then, but everything got pushed up. And so by the end of January we had quit our jobs and on Valentines Day 2013, we were on the road. We had a lovely, lovely meal sitting on the parking lot of Bucees between Houston and San Antonio (this gas stop did not have any benches to eat at, so I mean literally sitting on the parking lot pavement). Aside from a blown tire in Houston and another in Phoenix, we had a safe and relatively uneventful trip landing in Las Vegas a few days later.
And not a month later I got a job with Craig Palacios. Which was also quite a series of fortunate events. I had been hooked up with an interview in Downtown Las Vegas because of a contractor in Vegas and while in Downtown I wandered around. One of my now coworkers dug my vibe, gave me their contact, maybe dropped a good word for me (though never having met me before) and my period of unemployment lasted a total of 39 days.
Like most rescue buns, his early history is long lost to memories of another household, who most likely bought him as a cute little baby bunny without realizing he would quickly become a big white rabbit with a strong personality. They then dumped him at a local shelter, who couldn’t get him adopted and when a spot opened up at the House Rabbit Society, he was brought in at the eleventh hour before being euthanized. He got his name there, the vet named him Badger due to his long sharp face and his propensity to nip people without warning. I originally adopted him to be a third wheel with another pair of rabbits. It looked promising at first; they all seemed to put up with each other in their initial meeting. But in actuality the pair was in shock from being driven to the shelter and being introduced to a new rabbit, and once they realized this was supposed to be a permanent arrangement, they made it very clear it was not acceptable. Even though Badger was almost as big as the other two combined, they fought him tooth and nail for a month before we finally gave up. Badger still has a little scar on his nose, nothing obvious, but if you looked closely, you would have seen a slight part in his fur.
So he was consigned to live for his first four years as a single bunny. Even after I broke up with my own partner and the pair moved back to California, Badger still had the occasional rabbit visitor in his house from friends in grad school. He never seemed that interested in their company, and though he was always the biggest bunny, he still managed lose the couple fights he managed to get into. I don’t think he ever had that deep fire, that true anger that made him proficient at actually fighting. He appreciated attention, but he never craved it. He enjoyed company, but to a point. He had a quick temper, you could pet him for a while, but once he had enough he would nip your hand without warning and hop away. As long as he had his water, pellets, greens, and hay, I think he was reasonably happy. Really, he loved his food. I remember the time he broke into a bag of tortilla chips and it took a year before he stopped pestering me whenever sat down to each something crunchy. And there was the time he knocked over a trashcan and tried out some rotisserie chicken! A nice middle class existence for a big white bunny.
Life intervened as I was wrapping up my master’s thesis. My girlfriend’s coworker found a lovely little harlequin bunny at Herman Park on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, this coworker was also the owner of a few snakes, so having a precocious rabbit riling up the big reptiles was not a good sustainable situation. With this prompt, I realized it was time to push Badger into having a friend and so Peppercorn ended up in our apartment. It took a few months before we could start bonding the pair – she had to grow up, get spayed, and drain out her hormones – and even with the long wait it wasn’t love at first sight, I think Badger was a bit too comfortable being by himself. But some after some persistent effort by Jing, he warmed up to this annoying little one who would eat all his food and hog the attention of the humans around them. And hump him. And demand grooming while rarely reciprocating. Their love only knew two boundaries. Whenever Badger thought she was getting too much human attention he would hop over and nip her in the butt so he could have his time in the spotlight until he got bored, nipped the human, and hopped away. And given a chance she would eat all his food; Badger was the heartiest eater I knew until we met this ferocious devourer; though with any unfamiliar fruits and greens, Peppercorn would let Badger try it out a couple times before she’d jump in herself.
Well, Peppercorn lost her food taster on Saturday. Over this last month he quickly declined due to arthritis, e. cunniculi, cancer, and infections. It was just a matter of time. He had lost almost half his weight and the use of his hind legs. After he began to have trouble sitting up with his front legs, I made plans to to take him in this week, but his body decided a little earlier. A couple days before he passed, I gave them some cilantro but when she threatened to inhale the whole bunch at high speed, I put her back in the cage so he could eat in peace. For the first time ever, Badger stopped eating until I let her back out to join him. I always fed them separately and he never waited for her before. I think he knew he did not have many meals left, and he wanted to share it with his lady – even if she would eat most of it. On Saturday morning he ate with gusto, but by the afternoon his appetite disappeared, and in the evening he was no longer with us. I have never been through something as heart wrenching as watching my Badger travel the passage out from the living. He no longer had the energy to sit up, and his body was convulsing as he went through his death throes. In our years together, he never spoke a word until he moaned in pain that night. Then he quieted down, his mouth opened, and life departed from his body. We were fortunate to all be sitting around him, me, Jing, and Peppercorn, but that final journey was one Badger had to take alone.
He now rests in my friends’ backyard. Even though they had a young newborn at home, my friends graciously stayed up late so Peppercorn could have her vigil with Badger. So late on Saturday night, we took him out of their cage, wrapped him up, went to our friend’s house, dug a small grave, and buried his body. But really the hardest part for us was coming home. For the first time in five years, Peppercorn was sitting by herself, and it tore our hearts out. Jing used to always ask me who I thought was was the cutest bunny ever. And I’d reply, Badger by way of seniority. Well Peppercorn’s got seniority now. And she doesn’t have a competitor for food either. Its just her world now, she no longer has to worry about the unfairness of life as Badger was fed unlimited pellets while she got only an eighth of a cup.
I never viewed myself as a sappy guy and so I always thought I had a distant relationship with the buns: I would feed them and in return they would provide entertainment by just being rabbits, doing their thing (destroying stuff) around the house. But when I came home to a quiet house, when I realized I couldn’t say “stay out of trouble kiddos” in the plural, I realized I had invested in him way more than I had previously imagined. As with most relationships, enduring strength is built on the small accretion of daily life, and every day I had given him a little bit of myself. Every time we let them out the cage and he’d just plop himself under the coffee table. Every time I chased Peppercorn away so he could eat in peace. Every time we sat together for a short moment. Every time I fed him, and he acted like he had never seen food before. Every time, every little act, every day I deposited a little bit of my heart into him. So when he finally passed away, it felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I had no idea how much he meant to me – I thought I just liked the guy cause he was soft and silly and entertaining. But no, I cared for him because he had soaked up so much of me in him. As pet owners, I think we like to map our own traits on those who we’ve chosen to spend our lives with. But of the four bunnies I’ve had the privilege of living with, I think I felt the most kinship with Badger. He was a big lug, a bit silly, loved food and sitting around, would display occasional bouts of joy, got lucky with a nice lady, and had a bad temper that would manifest itself unpredictably. He was my big boy and every day we shared more than just food and water.
I would have loved to keep him a little longer, and maybe there would have been some drugs that would have kept him going. But really I can’t complain, his health was stellar his whole life until the ravages of time suddenly made itself known this past month. And honestly, if he was quietly suffering, I’m happy he didn’t have to wait another week before traveling to the great beyond. As I washed down his litter box one last time (truly, god is with us in the most mundane of tasks!), I realized the interconnectedness of this world; whatever life force that left him Saturday night is now free to do what it needs to do for someone else. Even though the body is in the ground, I could sense Badger all around me, as surely as he will always be a big white bunny hopping through my memories.
Like most rescue buns, its a bit hard to pin down his true age, I’d guess its been ten years and I was very blessed to have been there for nine of them.
Well there are a bunch of other things going down right now. And so I’ve realized that this blog run, while a good experiment, needs to go on pause. I’ll pick it back up when things slow down a little, but between my double saber and straight sword learning kick and a hectic schedule at work, I think this blog will need to be jettisoned for a little.
One thing I’ve learned over the past few years, other than that I pick up and drop hobbies pretty quickly, is that time is always tight and its best to be careful how you budget it. Unfortunately this blog gets to wait till later….