Poking my head above ground

April 6th, 2004 § Two comments § permalink

I’m still here. I’m just busy. Spring break was a few weeks ago. I spent most of it drawing large maps. Last weekend, I saw the Mark Lombardi show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; last night, I went to the Oakland A’s season opener. Now I am wrestling with TurboTax; eating fearsome quantities of trail mix; doing my laundry; and studying, studying, always studying.

See through walls

March 23rd, 2004 § Four comments § permalink

Light-transmitting concrete. “A wall made of ‘LitraCon’ allegedly has the strength of traditional concrete but thanks to an embedded array of glass fibers can display a view of the outside world, such as the silhouette of a tree, for example.”

The inferno of the living

March 20th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

From Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino:

[Khan] said: “It is all useless, if the last landing place can only be the infernal city, and it is there that, in ever-narrowing circles, the current is drawing us.”

And Polo said: “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

Specks of delight

March 20th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

Tiny chairs made out of the corks, cages, and foil from champagne bottles.

Train music

March 19th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

In Tokyo, each subway station and train line plays its own charming little tune to signal that a train is boarding. (The link is to a RealAudio file.)

Thin Cities 4

March 15th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

From Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, which I have been reading just a few pages at a time:

The city of Sophronia is made up of two half-cities. In one there is the great roller coaster with its steep humps, the carousel with its chain spokes, the Ferris wheel of spinning cages, the death-ride with crouching motorcyclists, the big top with the clump of trapezes hanging in the middle. The other half-city is of stone and marble and cement, with the bank, the factories, the palaces, the slaughterhouse, the school, and all the rest. One of the half-cities is permanent, the other is temporary, and when the period of its sojourn is over, they uproot it, dismantle it, and take it off, transplanting it to the vacant lots of another half-city.

And so every year the day comes when the workmen remove the marble pediments, lower the stone walls, the cement pylons, take down the Ministry, the monument, the docks, the petroleum refinery, the hospital, load them onto trailers, to follow from stand to stand their annual itinerary. Here remains the half-Sophronia of the shooting-galleries and the carousels, the shout suspended from the cart of the headlong roller coaster, and it begins to count the months, the days it must wait before the caravan returns and a complete life can begin again.

Not quite random

March 14th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

I’ve been listening to all of my music on shuffle lately, which is unusual for me—usually I pick an album that suits my mood and listen to it straight through. Certain songs come up on shuffle way more often than they should in a random distribution. Here’s what my iPod thinks I need to hear more than anything else:

If there’s a hidden theme, I have no idea what it is.

Like piles of spaghetti

March 13th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

Subway systems of the world, presented at the same scale.

A dirty shame

March 13th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

Robert F. Kennedy’s long, angry, brilliant indictment of the Bush Administration’s environmental policies is worth reading, even for those of us who already knew enough about the policies to be outraged:

Generations of Americans will pay the Republican campaign debt to the energy industry with global instability, depleted national coffers and increased vulnerability to price shocks in the oil market.

They will also pay with reduced prosperity and quality of life at home. Pollution from power plants and traffic smog will continue to skyrocket. Carbon-dioxide emissions will aggravate global warming. Acid rain from Midwestern coal plants has already sterilized half the lakes in the Adirondacks and destroyed the forest cover in the high peaks of the Appalachian range up into Canada. The administration’s attacks on science and the law have put something even greater at risk. Americans need to recognize that we are facing not just a threat to our environment but to our values, and to our democracy.

The way things are

March 7th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

I went to the Oakland Museum of California this afternoon and saw an exhibition of work by David Ireland. His art is very, very Zen. Many of his pieces include what he calls dumbballs, which are round concrete spheres about the size of bocce balls. He makes each dumbball by taking a lump of concrete and tossing it back and forth between his hands for twelve hours or so. I probably saw at least six months’ worth of his life in the form of dumbballs. This concept fascinates me immensely.