the first part

IMG_6993

Here’s my little rolling cart, finished. It will roll under a work-desk to provide the drawer and cabinet. I still have a little adjusting to do on one of the hinges, and it’s not the color scheme I’d originally intended, but it’s still super cute and rolls sweet and easy.

brain+art

Screen Shot dance

“Using brain-imaging and other tools of neuroscience, the new field of neuroaesthetics is probing the relationship between art and the brain.”

Here’s a link to a Washington Post article entitled, “THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON ART.” (It seems to be a re-print from 2017.) It’s a little hard to read (I just hate the format it uses–but it does have some really neat action graphix, so it’s a trade-off, I guess), but it’s very interesting and supports my intuition that art is part of our animal experience. Give it a read!

Surveillance Capitalism

boots upright

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog entry about the internet re-writing my grandfather’s life history (and mine!) and how corrosive that process is to our lives, HERE. Today, on the radio program, Democracy Now, author Shoshana Zuboff discussed this very problem, the subject of her book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. She suggests that ‘surveillance capitalists’ are ‘poaching’ our lives to sell the information and that corrupts our agency and our fulfillment as human animals.

I can’t disagree; I’ll be looking for that book.

 

cold frame success!

Here is our tiny winter garden! We’ve been enjoying the arugula for the last couple of weeks. We have been somewhat surprised at this growth after the serious cold and snow we had over the last month or so…But, nature finds a way! And, hardy arugula is our favorite salad green!

inflatables

green exercise ball, mdf mold, woodshop

A shot from the woodworking classroom–my classmate was looking for a tight inner mold for his veneer and, after trying some inner tubes, tried this fitness ball, inflated with the air hose. I have no idea where the ball came from–did he just have one around?

bright pink inner tube with cellophane, plywood supportplaster donut

These are images of a similar use of inflatables from a collaborative art effort during grad school (The Happiness Detail). The inner tube was pretty effective, but it took all three of us to manage it at every step…huge and heavy.

Walk On!

old shoes, filled with dirt and growing greens

As noted earlier on this blog, I am interested in transit issues, in particular, city bus routes; I am also very interested in promoting walking, not just as exercise, but as a way to learn one’s community, to get to school/work/stores and to use your one and only animal body! (rarrr!) 

I came across this article, Our Bodies Are Made for Walking, by an Utne reader contributor on its website. I agree and from that article, I found an interesting organization, America Walks, that promotes and helps build healthier communities by helping make them more walkable. This issue will be one I pursue more actively in 2019.

the footsteps of history and our newly invented lives…

I looked up my father online to find out who is using his decades-old research, done long before the world wide web existed for civilian use. I found lots of people referencing his works, and lots of listings for his publications,* but I also found information about my grandfather, a rancher, land owner and saddle and boot maker in Texas in the early 20th.

I met Granddad only a few times—we lived on the other side of the country—and knew very little about him, mostly that he’d owned land and horses, made some money on the stock market during the Depression and refused to pay for my father’s graduate education (when his WWII GI Bill ran out, I assume). Another thing I knew about him was that he had been a saddle and boot maker for cowboys in the region of Central Texas where he lived. I have handled and cleaned the saddle he made for my dad, worn the tooled belt he’d made for one of my brothers before I was born and now own the boots he made my grandmother to match the saddle (long gone) he’d made her for her 40th birthday. They’re a bit narrow for my feet, but I’m built like she was and can walk in them without discomfort.

Granddad had been the kind of person who’d rejected his first check when the government instituted the Social Security system (they never sent a second one); I was interested in seeing what the Internet could have to say about him.

What I found at first surprised me, then really pissed me off; the interwebs told me that he was not, in fact, a saddle maker or boot maker, rather, his only connection to saddles was, they said, working for a large ranch.

WTF? Nawp, that’s not right, I thought.

I took another look at my pictures of that saddle, inspected that belt, tried on those lovely boots and dug up the charming picture of my grandmother wearing them while sitting in her custom-made saddle. I thought about all the leather-working tools that we got from their garage when my grandmother died, the sturdy sewing machine, the specialized needles, the stamping tools—this was not a hobby, this is how he made the money he used to build a life.

What the nuts, Internet?

This is the crux of the issue: The commerce of the Internet has rewritten my family history. For a fee of $60, a website posing as antiques research re-wrote my granddad’s life. Using half-assed, paltry and easy research, this site told their curious customers that he did NOT make saddles and that the initials on the saddles were NOT his, but someone else’s, someone who also worked for that large ranch. Then, the website helpfully tells their customers when and where my father died.    (what? why?)

The customers were not satisfied, and no surprise; the site’s superficial, glib and inaccurate response is not worth the dial-up. This is one of the despicable things the current “connected” age is doing; by purporting to have all the answers, internet ‘authorities’ gather arbitrary info and present it for purchase as consumable reality.   This is deeply wrong and corrosive to our lives as individuals and as historians of our own experience.

This issue is too weird and important to just let go.

*Note: There are uses online of my father’s work (invaluable research that cataloged aspects of cultures that have rapidly changed, or even disappeared) in the last several decades that his estate was not conferred with about. Companies are using his work, without permission, to make money from scholarly material that is otherwise available to students and scholars, free.  This is another thing that makes me furious. My father did that work to contribute to historical knowledge, not to help make a packet for slimy igmos online.  gah.