Saturday Linkages: New Root Simple Compound?

Just in case you’re in the market for a very strange Goldfield Nevada property complete with pipe organ

If you do buy that compound you’ll want to watch this movie filmed, partly, in Goldfield

Yes, there’s a subreddit dedicated to power washing

How to Tap Less on Your Phone (but Get More Done)

A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air

Sandor Katz and Wagner

This evening you’ve I’ve got two free events ready to stream into your living room:

Dan Barber and Sandor Katz in conversation tonight, Dec 2, 2020 07:30 PM EST

Join Dan Barber, Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill @ Stone Barns, in conversation with Sandor Katz, author of the new book, “Fermentation as Metaphor,” as they discuss all things fermented.

During this exciting event, bestselling authors and food rockstars Katz and Barber will discuss connections between microbial communities and aspects of human culture: politics, religion, social and cultural movements, art, music, sexuality, identity, and even our individual thoughts and feelings.

Click here to register.

I’ve blogged about it before, but the Metropolitan Opera is replaying a spectacular staging of Wagner’s Parsifal. Let me sum up Wagner: hours of glacially slow exposition building to moments where your third eye opens and you find yourself in a full on mystical experience. Parsifal is Wagner’s most transcendent work. Here’s directions on how to access the opera and what else is on. They play one free opera every day for a 23 hour period.

I Built a Set of Gerritt Rietveld Crate Chairs and So Can You

Dutch avant-garde architect Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) was a hands-on furniture designer and builder. He invented Ikea before Ikea did.

His proto-Ikea crate wood set (1934) was sold finished, as a kit and as plans—truly democratic furniture that even a kid could build with a modest amount of tools and dimensional lumber from the big box store.

I made a set of Rietveld’s crate chairs and a crate table for our backyard. The crate chair is a nod to the Morris chair. It’s low slung, kind of like a beach chair (there’s also a taller version). While simple, the chair’s design shows an architect’s appreciation of how planes intersect and how to make those connections visually interesting. I’ve built reproductions of furniture designed both by architects and furniture makers. While I was building the chair I could tell that it was the product of someone who appreciated both good design and the practical details of furniture construction. It’s also more comfortable than it looks and the original had cushions which I might also make.

Associated with the DeStil movement, Rietveld’s furniture work ranges from the practical to the sculptural. He’s probably best known for the red/black chair.

Some of Rietveld’s furniture work is meant to be seen more than used. This chair was originally part of a Jeweler’s shop in The Hague but might also make an eye catching hallway chair.

If you’d like to make your own crate chairs or any of Rietveld’s other furniture, there’s a terrific bilingual Dutch/English how to book, How to Construct Rietveld Furniture/Rietveld Meubels om zelf te maken with complete plans for most of his furniture designs. The crate furniture, consisting of chairs, tables, desks and a bookshelf, can be made with a few hand tools. The rest of the projects in this book would require a table saw and varying levels of skill. The book contains measured drawings for all the projects and tips on how Rietveld did the joinery as well as colors and finishes. If I had a modernist house or office I’d go crazy and make everything in this book.

Pro tip: learn even a modest amount of carpentry skills and you can have furniture by famous designers in your house for the price of the materials.

Saturday Linkages: Squirrels, Dry Winter, Workbenches

I Twitter thread on what it’s like to work on Black Friday in the U.S.

Very dry weather across California through mid-December

Make Christmas Ornaments With Toilet Paper Rolls

A disaster water filter kit

Free e-book on building your own workbench

Happy Cranksgiving

What air travel looks like as of the publishing of this blog post on Wednesday at 5pm PST.

Thanksgiving? Current mood is Cranksgiving, that feeling when you type out three angry blog posts, think better of it and fail to push the publish button. So rather than that one belabored and cranky post I offer up a few fragments longer than an aphorism but just short for a proper rant. Here we go:

It’s Never Time for Brunch
We seem trapped, in this country, between two heads of the same neoliberal hydra. One party that denies the reality of the pandemic and another party that demands that people stay home (which, to be clear, we need to do) but offers no help to those who can’t work. We need to pay people to stay home. It’s not fair to bail out wall street but kick workers and small businesses to the curb.

Covid Denial
Why do people deny the reality of Covid? Because, counter-intuitively, it’s rational to do so. If your organizing principle in life is the pursuit of personal happiness, which is what we were all brought up with, then it makes no sense to change your lifestyle to prevent the spread of the virus . Most of us are unlikely to get coronovirus and if we do odds are we’ll recover (though, I have to say I sure don’t want to take the risk–I’m just trying to imagine why some people don’t seem to care). The problem with this kind of selfish thinking is that if I get coronovirus I’m also likely to spread it to other people who will then, possibly, bring it into the household of a multi-generational family, a nursing home, a hospital or a prison where it will grow exponentially and kill a lot of people. But unless I’m a health care worker, odds are those deaths will be out of my sight. Another problem is that if I do behave well and take precautions I’ll never see that my actions had an effect. Since Covid denialism is ideological and baked into our culture, I don’t think we should blame individuals for espousing it. Rather we need to focus our energy on changing the systems that promote toxic individualism. Let’s tell stories about solidarity instead. Not me us, in other words.

Stats, stats, stats and more stats
I never studied statistics. Most people never studied statistics. This is probably why there are so many statistical errors in the media. If I’m spotting them it must drive the mathematically inclined insane. Most of us seem to be especially bad at appreciating exponential growth in something like, say, a communicable disease.

Junk Science
This pandemic is also a reminder that, as research has shown, at least half of all science studies are junk. Unfortunately the press has a bad tendency to uncritically report on junk science. The crappy New York Times repeated a easily discredited study this week that purported to show that masks don’t make a difference. The very basic problem with this study is that the virus is spreading in households where people don’t wear masks, which this study failed to account for. We have better editorial standards here at Root Simple than they do at the Grey Lady and we’re pretty sloppy. Makes you wonder what else they’re getting wrong . . .

Good Science
A study in India shows how Covid is spreading: children and young adults are bringing the virus into multi-generation households. So, unfortunately, it looks like putting kids in school right now isn’t a great idea. Most schools in this country closed for the 1918 flu epidemic so this isn’t a new situation.

Covid Theater
I was perusing our local health department’s new closing guidelines and came to the conclusion that they are just making stuff up on the fly. Some things are open and some closed and it’s obvious that the decisions aren’t based on any research since their probably isn’t any. When you see a multi page list of directions for “model airplane facilities” you know they are winging it. Again, the solution is simple. In a surge like we’re having right now, close everything except what we need to survive and pay everyone to stay home until we can get the numbers down. Do this periodically until we get vaccinated.

Let’s Cancel Thanksgiving Permanently
Capitalism, as Mark Fisher often noted, is great at causing anxiety and then selling solutions. Think of the way women are made to feel body anxiety and then sold beauty products and plastic surgery. The same applies to the holidays. Make people anxious and then offer a Butterball hotline. How about we skip this particular holiday permanently? Who’s in (or out) on the cancel Thanksgiving idea? At least this year, a pandemic seems like the perfect excuse not to fly somewhere to eat dried out turkey.

My New Hustle
I was joking with a friend about writing a book called “Rhetoric for Families: how to have an argument at the dinner table.” Talk about creating an anxiety and selling a solution! Who wants this book?

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing or not doing, Root Simple wishes you a happy holiday season. Please stay safe. If you’re bored check out this flight tracking website and be thankful you’re not traveling.