Tuesday, August 30

recent observations on gear nerdery & utility fetishism

1. Most of your stuff isn't nearly as durable as you want to think it is.

1a. Everything is going to get wet.

1b. Dry bags.

2. I like the headlamp with the red keep-your-night-vision mode.

3. The Casio G-Shock watch is every bit as dorky as you'd think and then some, but it might also be as durable as it claims to be.

4. Rope one isn't carrying is rope one can't use. This generalizes pretty well.

5. It hurts a lot less to throw away a $20 pair of galoshes than a $150 pair of hiking boots.

6. A good rule of thumb is to stop escalating the knife thing one or two notches before it becomes a social liability.

6a. If you could feasibly chop down a mature tree with it and we are not actually standing in the woods, there's a fair chance you've pretty much blown the doors off that one already.

6b. Helle. Benchmade.

7. Serious lasers are kind of scary.

8. Compact binoculars are actually pretty handy. I think I might get some.

9. I don't need more camera shit. I need a more interesting life. (This, too, generalizes well.)

Thursday, August 18

The World of Charles R. Knight and Wikipedia's Charles R. Knight entry.

Wednesday, August 17

Nearly every vegetable suffers under the supermarket regime, but it occurs to me (not for the first time) that it's the most basic and uncomplaining of foodstuffs which have taken the most abuse.

Most everyone is aware that a grocery-store tomato is a sad and pallid beast, alienated both from soil and the possibility of human love. Farm kids, at least, will understand that an ear of sweet corn is meant to be consumed within a few hundred yards of its origin. The lover of strawberries or asparagus is well aware that industry has not yet replicated more than the merest shadow of these delicacies.

And yet — who gives a thought for the humble potato or the simple onion? Mere commodities, these, in the dominant hierarchy of value. A few dollars for a bag.

Thesis: The global network and all of the human minds plugged into it are right on the edge of hosting a nebulous collection of emergent software proto-organisms. There is a kind of insectile humming unspooling itself within the static and foam of all those stochastic protocols and misdirected social impulses. Somewhere in all that fuzzy pattern repetition and retransmission of filtered sensory data. It is the sound of an ecosystem on the edge of existence, a hot mess leaning towards self-organization as humanity (our tattered souls all twitching, addicted, riddled with lolcats and elaborate fictions) edges ever closer to becoming a substrate, a platform.

There will be ghosts in this machine. The way things are going, we might be some of them.

So back to things that grow in dirt. I've really got to wonder how many of the old poor-people foods that seem to have ebbed out of the generic American diet have lost ground because they're just not as good under modern production-at-scale and supermarket distribution. (People still eat turnips, beets, cabbages, and so on — but am I wrong in thinking these things aren't staples unless you're lucky enough to be surrounded by an ethnic or regional cuisine?)

friday, august 12

christ it's late and i'm exhausted
awake for no good reason

the other morning i stepped out my door
and the air was cool, the sky overcast
a few hours ago a sudden wind came across
out of the mountains
there will be other signs but these are enough
the season's coming loose around the edges
you can feel it in your fingertips if
you hold an arm out the window of a moving car
down on pearl street everybody knows the
students are poised, waiting
the bars are quiet; they will shortly be uninhabitable

i write this poem
every year.

wednesday, august 10

one diminishes or becomes greater
in proportion to something
but what?