Weekend Linkages: A Week of COVID Jail

Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni, The temptation of Saint Anthony, a detail of the polyptych with Coronation of the Virgin and Saints, Los Angeles, The Getty Museum.

COVID update: I feel totally fine. Not too bad a case. Should be out of jail by Tuesday.

Rent-a-sister: Coaxing Japan’s hikikomori men out of their bedrooms

Totally wired: why are so many young people addicted to video games?

In this satirical city builder, your goal is to convert walkable cities into parking lots and use propaganda to convince everyone it’s what they want

Facebook’s AI Spam Isn’t the ‘Dead Internet’: It’s the Zombie Internet

Staying Positive

I had ambitions plans this week to do blogging and house repairs but I managed to catch the COVID that’s ripping around Los Angeles this summer. It’s round two for me. So far I’m just tired and, while I’ve had much worse colds, I don’t feel like doing much except doom scrolling and watching stuff on Kanopy. Luckily, Kelly seems to have escaped infection by a well timed trip to see her brother. I’ll be back in a week, I hope.

Little Library Walks

Screenshot of Little Free Library App

I think I’ve invented a new and unadventurous fitness routine: walking between Little Free Libraries. Whether I’m walking the dog here in Los Angeles, looking after a relative in San Francisco, or pet sitting in Pomona I like to punctuate my urban dérives with visits to these little cast-off book sites.

To navigate, I have a Little Free Library mobile app on my phone. With the app you can check in and note if you left or took a book. There’s also a web based version. The app and map have only the Little Free Libraries that someone has decided to list, so you can, of course, find many more unofficial libraries out in the wild.

I seldom take a book and usually regret when I do. You can often guess why a book no longer “sparked joy” in the owner’s life and ended up in a Little Free Library. Case in point: Aziz Ansari’s book of dating advice. But I have, occasionally, found some really interesting books such as a catalog of the works of the artist Gordon Matta-Clark and a guide to Los Angeles’ dive bars.

I also had an odd coincidence recently with a book I found in a Little Library on a walk up Geary Boulevard, San Francisco’s most boring street. Back in the 90s, when I was in music grad school, I took up fooling around with circuit boards. I often leafed through a copy I had of a strange book, 21st-century Electronic Projects for a New Age that, at some point, I Marie Kondoed back to the universe. The book contains plans for ESP testers, UFO detectors, biorhythm devices and Kirlian photography machines. I’ve long regretted getting rid of this book even though it’s unlikely I’ll ever build any of these ridiculous gadgets.

After looking through it again I realized why I got rid of it. For now I’m holding on to it, but I may go through another cycle of purging, regretting purging and circulating between Little Libraries in hope of finding it again. At least I’ll get some exercise.

Pomona Dispatch: A Great Cloud of Bees

I’m just back from a month in Pomona pet sitting for friends and I thought I’d do a series of short posts about what I was up to during my sojourn.

Probably the most exciting moment was witnessing a cloud of miner bees on one of my walks. There are, apparently, over 1,500 different kinds of miner bees so I’m not sure which species I was witnessing. They are a solitary insect that only emerges once a year for a brief period. Look closely at the video and you can see the little holes where they live.

In fact, I thought I was seeing honeybees but the way they were flying around in a large cloud without settling down didn’t look like normal honeybee behavior. Eventually the very nice homeowners drove up and explained to me what I was witnessing.

They even have a metal sign on their lawn to explain that miner bees are non-aggressive and the brief period when they appear. Nice to see native bees getting some love.