Saturday Linkages on Sunday

How it started/How it’s going

Smart Cities and Finance

‘Not that good’: Montreal restaurant’s brutally honest menu pulls in the customers

LA’s New Falafel Stand Is a One-Man Masterpiece That Hails From Iraq

An anthropologist analyzes the Q Shaman

This might be the most toxic workplace ever

Some tips from the Recomendo Newsletter (Subscribe here): Educational resources that are likely free from your public library’s website: Lydia.com and The Great Courses (you can also watch the Great Courses if you have an Amazon Prime subscription)

Quarantine viewing suggestions: The Set-Up (1949) and the series Silicon Valley

Relics From the Age of Repair

Kelly went through some of my mom’s sewing notions this week and discovered a few relics from a pre-fast fashion era when people used to repair, rather than throw out, their clothes.

For instance, when you bought a box of White King Granulated Soap you got a set of sewing needles.

My mom saved a lot of these needles. On a side note can we please bring back this period’s handsome graphic design?

She also saved these hosiery mending kits that look like match boxes.

Inside was a needle and threads plus some match-like sticks that you moistened and applied to stop a run.

My mom was tall and had to shop for clothes and shoes in specialty shops.

When you bought something at the now defunct Over Five-Seven Shop you got this gimmicky miniature clothes line.

Let’s Pedal Together in this New Year

“The end of history is the nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” – Mark Fisher

The older I get the less I tend to observe any New Years rituals. The boundaries between years seem more about human concerns than any effect of the sun’s course in the heavens. As proof I offer 2021, which kicked off with some crazy 2020 vibes. I’ll defer the hot takes on yesterday to people smarter than myself. Let’s just say I spent way too much time doomscrolling (coupscrolling?) over the past 24 hours.

When I finally went downstairs to the woodshop around 3 pm yesterday and turned on my makeshift mp3 player, the random shuffle served up weirdo Morrissey’s song “Spent the day in bed” which has the chorus, “Stop watching the news, because the news contrives to frighten you.” As if yesterday wasn’t frightening enough, we got news this morning that a close relative has tested positive for COVID.

In the past week my great desire was to get back to my urban homesteading/appropriate technology lane. A journalist called me on Tuesday to interview me for an article on urban homesteading in a pandemic. She asked me what I thought of as the most important activity in the homesteading tool basket. I said that it’s not growing vegetables or canning things it’s getting to know your neighbors and forming communities of mutual support.

I am very thankful that our neighbor Jennie, several years ago, started a monthly neighborhood happy hour. When we can all safely gather together again I strongly suggest you consider starting a regular neighborhood gathering as well. Drop an invite in your neighbor’s mailboxes and throw a potluck. Not everyone will come but, hopefully, enough will to form a network. Focus on just having a good time. Don’t worry about organizing something formal. Just hang out and have fun. If you live in an apartment get everyone in the building together. If you don’t feel like hosting all the time have the gathering rotate.

Post-pandemic we transitioned our happy hour to a once every other week Zoom meeting and an email and text thread. On the email thread a neighbor a block over said that it really means a lot to him to know that he has neighbors who care and support each other. I completely agree. We’re not just neighbors, we’re friends and I take great comfort when I go asleep at night knowing that I’m surrounded by people who know and care about each other.

Post pandemic we aren’t going to return to the old normal. I’m hoping that the new normal will be that we wake up from the nightmare of separation and work together. That work begins over cocktails and food by simply enjoying each other’s company.

In the meantime let’s all stay safe. The next few months will likely be challenging.