Thursday, December 31, 2009

inkjet printer


inkjet printer
Originally uploaded by looseid

This is putty colored printer # 2.

This was one of the first tabloid-sized printers of its day. Again, planned obsolescence. Epson stopped making the drivers to support newer OS.

WTF.

Unlike the Apple laser printer, this is a clunky, un-elegant printer, but was still a workhorse. But its time has come to move onto greener pastures, wherever that is for inkjet printers.

laser printer


laser printer
Originally uploaded by looseid

This is putty colored printer #1.

Still functions, but Apple stopped making drivers for it to run on newer systems. Planned obsolescence. This is what infuriates me most about technology. Attention span and maintenance is shorter-lived than the device itself. As a result a perfectly reliable printer is rendered useless.

However, holding onto defunct items never proves to be a smart move. Which is why this had to go.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

motor oil


motor oil
Originally uploaded by looseid

Don't know where these came from but I had been stepping over these 5 quarts of motor oil in the basement for I don't know how long. As a thank you for their service and not wanting to let things go to waste, I brought it to my mechanic as my year-end donation streak continued this week.

They are always so generous with little fix-it's. Most of the time they charge me minimally and occasionally throw in a few things at no charge.

When I picked up my car, they only charged one quart to the bill because they were able to use all of the bottles I brought. They also fixed the two random things that were nagging me for free.

So happy that there are still small family-owned businesses that put good customer relations ahead of making a quick buck.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gibbons at Play, Tianzi Mountain 1985


Gibbons at Play, Tianzi Mountain 1985
Originally uploaded by looseid

Today, I finally picked up this beautiful print from my equally lovely friend Ruth Silverman. She was having a private sale last month and this print caught my eye. Actually, it was in circulation once before, but I wasn't in a place to purchase art, so that was that. Sometimes it takes a second look to see something for the first time.

I love the lilting movement of the gibbons and the Chinese brush painting like shades of grey. Because I was born in the year of the monkey, I feel especially entitled about coveting this piece.

The artist is Don Hong-Oai, and I was able to find out more about him from Elizabeth Avedon's blog. Thank you for letting me stumble into your world, Elizabeth.

As I rid my life of things, floorspace and walls are opening themselves up for new inhabitants.

Today, a single sheet of watercolor paper that weighs barely an ounce moved in and effortlessly filled the vacancy left behind by a couple hundred pounds of donations to Goodwill of yesterday.

A fair exchange, I'd say.

Monday, December 28, 2009

magazines


magazines
Originally uploaded by looseid

Last week my friend Sasha asked me for magazines. I've been giving him periodicals of all categories for years for his collages. He's a surreal artist and I'm happy to be a patron to the arts.

This year end clearance in the basement on Saturday located the mother lode of my stash. This was the mythical box that held so many future clippings from current news, fashion, design, culture, humor, you name it. But with the passage of time, obsolescence is the greatest gift it brought to me. Unlike wine, age did not improve this vintage.

This is another "what were you thinking" pile. And if Sasha can find something of value in this box, I'll be a monkey's uncle.

Happy Chanukah, Sasha!

paper shredder


paper shredder
Originally uploaded by looseid

This appliance has one function, to chew up paper into oblivion so that all confidential, embarrassing, or confidential because it's embarrassing piece of paper will never see the light of day, at least not recognizably so.

This is easily one of my top ten favorites in the house. Or was, until it started to act temperamentally. Last week, I tried to feed it some bank paperwork and it only decided to go in reverse. This is absolutely an unacceptable direction for paper shredding. When you ask one thing from a device and it refuses to oblige, you have to kick it to the curb - cold as that may sound.

Just imagine trying to get somewhere in a car that you can't drive forward, but go only in reverse. What else can I say.

empty packaging


empty packaging
Originally uploaded by looseid

This is a hard one to explain. Well, actually, it's really easy to explain, but hard to justify. I had about a dozen boxes - EMPTY - lying around my basement for god knows how many years. Empty. For years.

Total, this pile uncollapsed must have taken up at least 6 cubic ft of space in my precious abode. What idiocy. Empty boxes, for years. It's fine to keep boxes for one calendar year after you purchase something for insurance, but c'mon. This is worse than having a deadbeat roommate around the house.

This is all being recycled tonight. It's perfect. The entire neighborhood is going to think that I hit the jackpot this Christmas with electronics, computers, kitchen appliances, entertainment systems, speakers and electronic keyboard. Meanwhile, I received absolutely zero gifts this year, exactly what I had asked from Santa.

rags


rags
Originally uploaded by looseid

Rags, by definition have the status of "trash" written into their destiny, but I managed to find amongst all of the rags I own, the rags of the rags.

I wanted to give these fabric remnants a last chance at being useful so I kept them around, but alas, we're at the end of the road. None of these are big enough to be useful, clean enough to wipe other objects clean, or square enough to fold and organize.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

software books


software books
Originally uploaded by looseid

In what alternate universe did I think that I would create my own website, script my own XHTML, or produce animation using After Effects, Flash or Director. To be more specific, through the use of these thick, unwieldy, manuals?

Certainly not this one.

Everything I ever needed to learn about software I stumbled upon by accident or took a class with a live instructor. I may have picked up very few tips or tricks over the years through the printed word. When you're in search of an answer and pressed for time, flipping through hundreds of pages may be the most discouraging prospect.

Among this mountain of manuals were manuals that I didn't even purchase myself. A friend who worked in education thoughtfully gave them to me thinking that I may find use for them in my pursuit of digital proficiency. I never cracked the binding on any of them.

Look at these pages. I don't have to convince anybody that these are "good as new" were it not for the outdated content. This pile is about as useful to me as a gym membership. Paying for something doesn't make me a content developer or an athlete. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that I will have to continually learn as I uncover similarly neglected relics.

I boxed all of these books up today and taped it shut. I will drop them off at the Goodwill, but not certain that it will be of any help to anyone.

My hot air balloon is 35.2 lbs. lighter this Winter Solstice weekend.

doggie diaper


doggie diaper
Originally uploaded by looseid

If wearing adult diapers can't put you in an early grave, I don't know what else in this world could. This was probably the straw that broke my Bibi's back this summer.

After years of regal and poised disposition, to be outfitted with possibly the most humiliating accoutrement in a living being's history, necessary or not, homo sapien or otherwise, thrust Bibi deep into helplessness and self-loathing from which she never recovered. I can safely say that I have not and I wasn't even wearing them.

I tried a single pair on Bibi the weekend she had a bout of non-stop shooting diarrhea. This is not something I would wish upon anybody (both cause and effect). First and foremost, it's so counter-intuitive to try to contain leakage by wearing a diaper that actually has a hole around the orifice in question to accommodate the tail. And even if it were contained, which it failed magnificently to do, why would that be a good sensation, carrying around liquified waste pressed up against you.

After one round I realized that this is only useful if incontinence of the first kind were an issue, not the second. Further still, at the cost of utter indignation.

I put them aside that day, never to consider them an option for my aging companion.

As I cleaned out the broom closet today I came across the nearly full package of X-large diapers with this clueless beagle with a maniacal grin pushing the product. There is no way that such an expression would appear across any of god's creature's face, while sporting a pair of paper bloomers, but without the help of Photoshop.

I will donate the remaining 11 counts reluctantly to my veterinarian's office this weekend and hope that it will help somebody with an ailing animal - although I'd just as soon let things flow au naturel and buy stock in disinfectant and paper towels.

My apologies too all dogs that must suffer the consequence of man's idea of cleanliness at the expense of your dignity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

unisex scent


cannabis santal
Originally uploaded by looseid

I bought this scent last year for my birthday. I wasn't looking for it, but when our paths crossed, I was immediately taken by it. It's very tricky, looking for the perfect scent. It's not unlike looking for love. You could really fall for something hard, but after the initial crush, you start to see it slowly changing. And before you know it, it's not the scent you fell for and you begin to see less and less of each other.

And then one day, long after you were connected at the hip, you catch a whiff of it on somebody else. The hardest blow is when you realize that it smells better on that person than it ever did on you. That is the official break up. It now belongs to someone else.

That's essentially what happened to me and Cannabis. I smelled it on Thomas. When I asked him what he was wearing, he said Cannabis Santal. And since it's a unisex scent, it shouldn't have doubly shocked me that my love was two-timing me with a very good friend of the opposite sex. I mean, isn't it bad enough that a girl can lose a boyfriend to a rival girl, but when all bets are off and he walks off with another man...how can you compete? Of all the gin joints in all the towns and all of the scents in the world of which I'm sure there are thousands and thousands...

This was the aromatic equivalent of showing up at a ball wearing the same exact gown as another guest and it looking devastatingly stunning on her and you're simply late to the party.

For a year I've harbored resentment about that betrayal and stopped wearing it out of spite. I mean, we were in an open relationship, so there were no rules broken, per se, but hearts were bruised nonetheless. However, today, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, I extended Thomas the nearly full bottle as an olive branch, wished them a long happy life together, conceded defeat and walk away quietly.

I have picked myself up, dusted myself off and dabbed a new scent on my pulse points to start all over again.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

mini-me


persimmon
Originally uploaded by looseid

Phil brought back a plethora of confection from his first visit to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago.

It's persimmon season right now. And I was immediately drawn to this little ditty. She (?) was glistening and her mellow squat shape was perfection. I had the actual fruit at my desk so I placed them next to each other and I couldn't believe the absolute color match.

Tis such a sweet season.


new violet Hunters


I may be the happiest one about today's torrential downpour.

on the go


This is my first mobile post.

See Bootsie run through the wet trail wearing her silver ski vest.

She always gives me a little lift (while staying warm and dry).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

rising dough


rising
Originally uploaded by looseid

My anticipation lifts as the dough rises. And when the dough fails to rise, I am utterly deflated.

This simple yellow mound, through heat and time, transforms itself into a dark and handsome loaf with crisp corners and a glossy cap. So powerless when first formed, yet so sturdy when matured. With its confident texture and generous aroma, it charms everybody within range to come hither.

Baking is chemistry, but not an exact science.
You knead to feel.
And you need to fail over and over.
And then one day, you get it, and then you're hooked.

Soft, creamy, resilient, pale, pungent, moist, airy, thick, slow, warm, spongy and promising.

These are a few of the reasons why I bake bread.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

semi-precious metals


semi-precious metals
Originally uploaded by looseid

For over a month now, I've stopped wearing these two items. These were two items I rarely took off for years. I've had the watch since 2000 and the earings, 2003 or 4. But due to unexpected circumstances, they now have come off indefinitely.

The earring came off when my colleague pointed out that one was missing from my ear. For obvious reasons, I took the remaining mate off of my ear immediately, as it was no longer 1985. I bought these silver hoops at Urban Mercantile. I loved them because these little hoops went with everything I wore. I was sad for a moment, but I've gotten better at not mourning the loss of objects.

The diver's watch came off when I realized I could no longer tell what time it was with absolute certainty. I adored this watch, but somehow, I began to notice that the hour hand was misaligned. It was always half an hour ahead of the minute hand. So, when the minute hand was at 12, instead of the hour hand sitting squarely on the number of that hour, let's say, 8, to specify 8:00, it was already halfway to the 9, as if it were 8:30. It would have been correct if the minute hand was at 6, but it wasn't, it was on 12. If I've sufficiently confused you, then I've done my job. This is how disorienting it was to tell time. As a result when people asked for the time I would appear slightly slow or high, which was enough of a reason to not wear a watch altogether.

Days later, I felt a bit disoriented without my metal objects that were once so dear and near to me. But soon thereafter, I noticed that I felt lighter. This watch is no wallflower. I've always worn big, heavy, men's diving watches, not because I'm a diver, nor for any gender issues, but simply because it's easier to tell the time with a bigger face. And I'm really lazy, so I cannot wear a non-waterproof watch that I'll need to remember to take off and put back on when I shower. But not having that hunk of metal on my wrist was a new sensation.

This metal-free mode I'm currently embracing reminds me of my friend, Sasha. He does not like any metal on his person. For that reason, he doesn't wear a wristwatch, nor does he carry umbrellas in the rain. He carries a pocket watch and wears a hat. This then makes me think of Dali's Persistence of Memory, as Sasha is a surrealist artist. It all comes together in my wee brain during the wee hours.


The same week this all came off of me, I noticed that Bootsie was no longer making her clinky sounds as she trotted through the house. Upon close examination, all of her metal tags, her name, rabies and microchip ID tag were missing from her collar. Only the metal rings that once held them remained. It was interesting timing that she, too, was shedding metal.

Even further investigation revealed a small gap where the looped ring used to overlap but was now gone. As it turned out, over the many years of running and scratching, the sharp edge of her tags had filed down the ring to nothingness and all the tags had slipped out from that gap. I found all three lying on the bed where she was seen writhing around earlier. It was a methodical and beautiful escape, like Andy Dufresne digging his way out of prison with a cafeteria teaspoon.* [film inspiration: Shawshank Redemption]

As always I digress. My point was, I thought that I would be lost in time without a watch or an alarm clock, but for some strange reason, I've been functioning on time and my body has been waking up naturally at 5:37. Why, I have no idea, but I haven't overslept yet - as I finish this post before 7am.

Good day.

*For those who haven't seen the aforementioned film, sorry for the spoiler, but then again, why haven't you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

essential oils


personal scents
Originally uploaded by looseid

Two little bottles of personalized essential oils. I received them as part of a lovely Christmas gift from friends a few years ago. They made me my very own scents at a local store, each bottle named after me.

Kana* is a blend of caramel and green fig. It's a rich, full, sweet scent that has a spicy aftertaste. A fall-winter flavor.

Takahashi* is a blend of grass and green tea. It's a young, light and refreshing scent, in contrast to the first. That's a more spring-summer flav.

*The characters and events depicted in these essential oils are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

I was touched that they gave me such a personal gift. I liked it more that it was custom-made. There are way too many obligatory and pat gifts being exchanged in this world and not enough thought. Because my mind automatically pictures the moment where the giver conceives the unique gift, I genuinely delight at the thought of somebody mixing vials of potions in a lab, over snatching something up off of a store shelf.

My friends informed me that the store has the formula archived under these names and that I can return to them and get more made should I run out. It reminded me of when I used to ask my dad to "buy me a star in the Galaxy." You too, could have a star named after you. The silly ad always appeared in comic books or puzzle magazines, preying on the romance that kids had with the night sky. Who needs stars, I now have a scent named after me, like Mitsouko, Chloe and Coco.

Well, as you can see, plain as day, these two bottles are still completely full, even after four years. This is not to say that I don't wear scents, because I do. Nor do I dislike these particular scents, because I do. But scents are extremely personal. To me the most personal, actually. And if it's not just right, the relationship won't last, or even start. You would no more marry somebody that doesn't have the right chemistry with you.

Scents can differ from batch to batch, day to day, season to season. It changes with your body temperature and how much moisture there is in the atmosphere. I've worn the same cologne on two separate days to find two completely different primary notes. Hell, I sampled a new scent last week that changed no less than three times throughout a single day. I've purchased cheap and expensive bottles alike, only to realize that they just weren't me, even if you like it at the store.

I've been grappling with how to use them up without discarding them or the sentiment by which the gift accompanied.  Then, an idea came to me. I normally light a candle when I draw a bath, but I had already used up the one I had. Come to think of it, that candle was also fig-scented and a gift from another friend that same Christmas. Must've been a good year for figs.

Anyway, I finally found the oils' correct chemistry. I mixed a couple of drops of Kana into the unscented bath salts I keep by the bathtub. And as Madge used to say, "you're soaking in it."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

produce station


produce station 2
Originally uploaded by looseid

I was walking around the Alameda Flea Market with Mishan and Nealan today looking for nothing in particular. As the pilot of Project Hot Air Balloon, I'm very aware that this is a dicey activity in which to engage myself. There's no room in my life for other people's junk when I'm still negotiating through my own. But it was more of a social event - catch up with friends, people-watch, observe buying/selling techniques, gain perspective about what junk/treasure is in our culture and general social anthropology.

Nealan was looking to furnish her new abode. Mishan was there to help because she has a good eye; plus, she very much enjoys the food stands. I, on the other hand, need nothing, as I have two or more of everything. So the cop inside my tiny brain was flagging me on, "Nothing to see here. Keep moving." Additionally, I implored Mishan to "not let me buy anything."

Mishan is particularly advanced in keeping only what she needs in her life and moving things out as soon as they become superfluous. She's always refining and redefining her life that way. As a result, she can pick up and join whatever adventure calls. In fact, last month, she landed a coveted floor seat at the Kodak Theater for the CNN Heroes Tribute. This was an A-list event and without any trickery or sorcery, she attended. This is an example of one of the many opportunities she invites into her life as a result of, I believe, living with a light load and is open to possibilities. I hope to be closer to that stage someday.

I was non-committally browsing for a vessel for my weekly farmer's market bounty and/or a kitchen island, because of the produce clutter that was happening back home on all counter surfaces. But the fact that I was only going to pay cash for new purchases precluded any of the potential purchases popping into view because I only had sixty bucks on me. The decent islands that were available were hundreds and some even close to a thousand dollars.

I was picking up and flirting with all kinds of wire baskets, bowls and at one point, even a wooden trough (!) This was essentially a log with a wide channel routed out by what looked like King Kong's nails. Rough, unfinished, crude, but during my flash of frozen delirium I really liked it. I could also picture tiny piglets lapping up water from it. I knew I had zero counter real estate and no piglets, I stepped away from all temptation. I've gotten better over the years that I won't buy anything unless it screams out at me. I was not feeling any jolt of "I must have that" today.

Anyway, safe to say, the only thing I picked up after walking around in the freezing cold for 4 hours was lunch, hot chocolate and a sense of urgency to figure out a solution with what I already owned.

This hanging basket was something I've had in my basement for years. It's very typical of me to run around the world seven times over in search of something right under my nose.

I'm very happy to report that I got rid of my produce clutter and uncovered more counter space, which pretty much was a kitchen island this whole time. Let's just call a spade a spade, even if it's buried under a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables.


Before


After

My idiocy is a constant source of amazement. And if it weren't happening to me, perhaps amusement. But honestly, I'm not amused.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

whoopie pies


whoopie pies
Originally uploaded by looseid

Doesn't this look like an army of smiles marching towards you?

My house is so cold in the winter, I dream up something to bake every weekend to keep the house warm. This Saturday on the menu was Whoopie Pies.

I never really had one until two years ago when I came face to face with one at Sweetie Pies, a bakery in Sonoma. They are famous for their Cabernet Pie during Cabernet grape season.

My very first bite was heavenly. It tastes just the way it looks. Soft chocolate pillows sandwiching a fluffy marshmallow cream center. You don't need teeth to eat these things, really.

Ever since then, I've looked for them in bakery windows and cake stands, but to no avail. Yet it never occurred to me that I could make them myself, until a friend suggested it.

I actually spotted a Whoopie Pie mix last week, of all places, in Crate & Barrel, but it just didn't scream out at me. I knew I could do better.

Well, I did. These little chocolate smiles were extraordinary. I offloaded this entire platter at a Hoiday party I went to later on in the evening. I am proud to say, I warmed up the house, spread the cheer and only had one* for myself!

Thanks, once again, to a gorgeous recipe from the now eternal Gourmet magazine.

*The single Whoopie Pie I had really knocked me out cold. I was in a powerful sugar coma for a few hours. Please consume in moderation and don't operate heavy machinery, i.e. eat only a fraction of the suggested single serving.