Things about stuff.Ask
New Project over at Droop Street. More posts to come. (see, I still blog! kinda…)
We’ve finally got ourselves some commission work, and so the days of haphazardly knocking up our own stuff could, at least temporarily, be coming to an end.
The brief was for a pool-side table, to replace on old rusting one. ‘Somewhere to put a book and a gin and tonic’ The dimensions of the previous table and ‘something minimal’ where the only other requests.
The design we’ve come up with utilises our beloved 12mm steel rod, as well as combining a timber top.
Given the table will spend most of its time outside we’ve added holes to (hopefully) drain off any pooling water that could eventually warp the timber. All up, it’s a relatively straight forward design, however experience has proven that the more ‘simple’ the design the less simple it is to construct for some reason…
I finally got around to cleaning up my RSS subscriptions the other day, most of which were added to Google Reader years ago and at some point in the last five years had silently sputtered out without anyone really noticing.
Which got me thinking. I follow something in the order of 300 blog feeds of varying description, however once that myriad of blogs get viewed through a single reader, a few things get lost. For a start, I feel that rather than ‘visit’ blogs, I now have them essentially sent to me, it’s as if the web 1.0 terminology ‘surfing the web’ has been replaced by an activity more akin to ‘sitting in the shallows while the waves wash over you’.
The adage ‘content is king’ gets bandied around a lot, and given that RSS readers have essentially stripped blogs down to just their content, that saying certainly has some weight, yet despite this, various blogging platforms still offer a variety of themes, when in reality most people will see that carefully chosen theme once before hitting ‘follow’ or ‘add’.
Thing is, there’s a lot of blogs that look utterly fantastic at their own URL, but then lose something once their content is processed, stripped down, and shoe-horned into a readers own layout. A blog like I’m Google, a gradually changing stream of images relating back to each other, is a good example of something that doesn’t work through a reader, while image blogs like convoy seem to work better with multiple images side by side on the screen at once, rather that with a single vertical column. That visual saturation is the entire point of blogs like that and is probably the reason the fastidiously curated images on Convoy are crammed into a single post, 120 or so at a time, rather than an unconnected stream of 120 separate posts.
The other downside of all that information being visually laundered on its way to my neat little reader feed is that I barely notice when one or two go missing, or stop showing up. It was only after ‘cleaning up’ my feed that I realised a lot of friends blogs have ground to a halt sometime over the last year.
One theory for this is that ‘Instagram killed the blogger’, Interestingly, ‘Instagram’ just overtook ‘blog’ on google trends. Mind you, according to that chart, ‘blog’ has been in decline since June 2009, which to be fair probably just suggests that by 2009 most people didn’t need to Google it any more. Meanwhile, ‘Pizza’ doesn’t look like it’s falling out of favour anytime soon, if you were wondering.
This blog is no different. I think I’ve managed 4 or 5 posts over the last year, when by comparison, I’ve clocked up something like 300 instagram posts. So I think I’m going to try and give it a bit more attention, but I’m not promising anything.
Experimenting with some folded metal options. Don’t like this design much, but the render came up quite nice, so thought I’d throw it in here.
New project coming together over at Droop.
Dusting off the old chazhuttonsfsm for this one.
I’ve written about Kowloon city before, and before that. But now Arch Daily have posted up a beautifully detailed infographic 3D section by the South China Morning Post to mark the 20th anniversary of its demolition, which is worth checking out in its entirety.
Hey folks, I’ve been slack on posting, but that’s only because there’s some other things in the works. This little guy is one of them.
He’s now got his own blog over here, which I’d love for you to go check out, follow and if you’re so inclined, reblog. - and unlike this blog, it’ll be updated daily! - Cheers.
Right now I’m trying to stay cool in an uninhabited (although thankfully air-conditioned) family apartment. It’s nice little place, five stories up, with a view looking over the park. Used infrequently by my out-of-town extended family, it’s mercifully empty during what feels like one of the hottest nights of the year.
It’s been warm all week. Our little share-house terrace did a good job of keeping out the heat for a couple of days, but after five days over 31°C the heat has finally crept in and now the same thermodynamic attributes that initially kept the heat out, are studiously keeping it in. So I left. Grabbed a bag, threw some stuff in, jumped on my bike and rode across the city to the well kept, conservative end of town like some refugee from the edgy hipster neighbourhood who’s just decided he’s not edgy enough for another sleepless night drenched in sweat.
Now, standing on the balcony, looking over the park at 12:45am, it’s actually quite nice. The traffic died down a while ago, leaving nothing but the occasional taxi shooting past, its tyres against the road strangely audible well before its engine, contrasting against the collective drone of a far busier road out of sight on the other side of the block.
It’s still very warm, but there’s a slight breeze which is taking the thickness out of the heat. It’s the kind of soft, consistent breeze that makes everyone’s hair look cinematically excellent. I’m just wearing shorts, with no shirt or socks, which is perfect. Once I go back inside I’m just going to sleep like that on a bed with no sheets. It’s weird sleeping like that. There’s no physical reference for the body to grab onto, and so I’ll tend to sleep on my side with my hand sandwiched between my knees, creating my own little tensile arrangement of limbs that for some reason I find comforting.
But before I do that I want to get my fill of moody balcony staring. I quite like standing up here semi-dressed while watching the unsuspecting scene below. There’s a shitty nightclub around the corner which provides no end of entertainment in the form of teetering high-heeled shrieks of drama stumbling down the wide empty road in the early hours of the morning. The same early hours that I like to stand up here, like I’m the fucking Batman, silently surveying the city with a vague sense of ownership and entitlement that I really don’t deserve.
The sound of a cycling crash turns my stomach. The snapping of metal, the thud of meat slamming into bitumen, or the crunch of carbon coming apart, and often a tearing noise somewhere in there, possibly tyres, but most likely lycra, followed by flesh.
This audible representation of another person’s pain often triggers a sympathetic, sharp intake of breath from other cyclists, all too familiar with how those sounds feel. Because if crashing is anything, it’s memorable.
The speed is always surprising, or rather, the quick absence of it. It’s incredible how quickly a human body can go from traveling at 50kph, to laying stationary and bloody in a gutter, only a couple of meters from where the touch of wheels, or that stray rock, or that unseen pothole began the unstoppable process that culminated in that orchestra of destruction. If it weren’t for the pain of hitting the road, one must surely feel a good amount of G-forces as their body decelerates into that gutter, revealing it’s venerability by having it’s skin torn off, or it’s collar bones broken, or it’s teeth knocked out, or all of the above.
Like all moments of fast-paced, adrenalin producing panic, time slows down, or the mind speeds up, and the staggeringly quick mental calculations that pour through it have already discovered what the next 1.5 seconds have in store. From there, it’s simply a case of minimizing the potential damage. Whole conversations with a friend telling you to hold onto the bars all the way down, because breaking collar bones is preferable to wrists are replayed in your mind, suddenly you realise you’ve clipped out, which always happens more easily than you’d think, and then comes the impact, at which point time resumes it’s normal, comparatively fast pace while you mentally file through all those hideous sounds that each carry a yet to be discovered price tag of money or pain. And then, silence.
There’s a moment here, laying in the gutter, where everything is okay. The pain of your injuries are yet to register, yet the realization that you’re alive has. It’s beautiful: You saw time slow down, you fought your bike, you panicked, your mind did amazing things and now it’s over. A 1.5 second rush that felt like an eternity and it’s over, and you survived, and provided you don’t check, you’re essentially uninjured, and so your adrenalin affected logic tells you to relax.
Except you can’t. Because you’re on a road, and you’re acutely aware that there’s a Commodore you passed a few blocks back that should be following you around that blind corner any second. So you jump up, you grab your bike, and using it almost as a walking frame, you sidle over to the medium strip and dump it on the grass as the guy in the Commodore rolls past, slightly surprised, but predictably unconcerned.
And it’s while watching him drive into the distance that the pain begins. There’s a stinging down your leg, where you’ve grazed off a good swathe of skin and you notice that the tailwind that had originally propelled you to that speed now feels a lot colder and meaner without that delicate layer of protection.
Appreciation for the body’s largest organ aside, you’re also now aware that you can’t move your arm much, and during some investigating, move it in such a way that sends a bolt of pain straight through your body and weirdly into your guts. You drop to the ground, and the only comfortable position seems to be to hold your elbow close to your ribs, and push it slightly up. And then, countless images of pro-cyclists holding the same involuntary position come to mind and confirm to you that yes, your collar bone is probably busted.
Wrists seem okay though, you happily think to yourself.
Friends double back, or strangers assist, there’s the amateur medical and then mechanical speculations, the obligatory inspection of your reassuringly destroyed helmet, someone organizes a lift, and as you head to hospital you realise far too late that half your arse has been on show the whole time.
And then a few weeks later, in a sling and now with a bit of gut that those free Sunday mornings have brought on, you find yourself watching a crit-race, or some track racing, and a right in front of you a touch of wheels brings about that same cacophony of someone else’s pain, and as you sharply suck in that concerned, involuntary breath through clenched teeth, you realise you can actually feel it.
I’m sure there’s a psychological term for it, but I’m currently feeling what could be (clumsily) described as an inside-out version of ‘Stockholm syndrome’ feeling towards New York at the moment. A few months ago, my understanding of New York was a rough estimate of where the five boroughs lay, the fact there was a massive rectangular park in the middle of one of them, there was some impressive large bridges and that quite a few buildings I was very familiar with resided somewhere amongst it all.
Having finally been there, my understanding of the place is now exponentially better, although, true to an exponential curve - my understanding is still probably miniscule when compared to that of a local, or even a year-long resident (and, for the record: whatever constitutes an NYC local is a question for a whole new post)
So I’m now armed with a relatively intimate understanding of certain streets, and what’s on them, and who’s walking down them, and where they lead, and where they are in relation to each other (which above 14th, isn’t really that impressive a feat). A basic knowledge, sure, but one that I’ve discovered is immensely powerful when I come across literate or a film that mentions specific NYC locations. Previously, to me it was just ‘somewhere in New York’ and now when I read those locations, I know exactly where, and what kind of neighborhood that is (or was, pre-gentrification) and that knowledge adds a whole extra layer to whatever story I’m reading. And it’s not just reading, I now look at the Satorialist, not out of habit, but because I’m wondering where on 16th st that blurry background behind that seemingly-oblivious-but-totally-aware person is.
Yet, it’s the post-Sandy images of New York (not that you need a link) that have been appearing over the last few days that have made this giddy game of ‘I’ve-been-there!’ feel less like an adult game of Where’s Wally and more like I’m identifying bodies in a morgue. (I know that’s not the most sensitive metaphor given the death toll, but it’s true)
There’s streets that I walked down, now waist deep in water. The unstopping subway, which I caught everywhere, is no longer running. The cafe I drank copious amounts of average coffee at is out of power, and the excellent barista I chatted to there is presumably missing a shift or two. And what about that cool little water-side shack I took a photo of when I rode through Red Hook? I have no idea…
And suddenly, I can’t disagree more with anyone who looks at the paper and says something like ‘Wouldn’t want to be in New York right now’.
The overwhelming feeling is that the small snapshot I got of the city, the one that I can refer to at any mention of the place, has just changed. I always knew that was going to happen, I just didn’t know it would change so quickly and violently. And now, I’ve got what I’m describing as ‘inside-out Stockholm Syndrome’ - where the spectators outside the hostage drama wish they were the hostages.