Saturday Linkages: On hold

The best/worst house ever via Crappy Cheapo Architecture

Wealth and incarceration shown to scale

Green health: a tree-filled street can positively influence depression, study finds

Standstill Traffic May Be the Only Thing Keeping Crash Deaths From Skyrocketing

Return of the conversation pit?

The weird world of Bruce Goff

This is why Venice is the most beautiful city in the world – A series of 40 facades of Venice

More good urbanism this time in Malta

Bluetooth-Connected Rotary Payphone

A Pandemic Anniversary

Final scene of Tout Va Bien.

I suspect I’m not alone in reflecting back on the year anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic. I’ve been looking at the photos on my phone from February and March of 2020 and even went so far as to dig through credit card records to see where I ate out for the last time (Taix, at it turns out).

In February 2020 I was knocking on doors for Bernie and the last large public gathering I attended was the Bernie/Public Enemy rally on March 2nd. Alas, that brighter future that seemed possible was not to be, but I kept phone banking until the bitter end of the campaign. The triumph of business-as-usual combined with the untimely death of Michael Brooks were a source of considerable melancholy in the last half of 2020.

In mid-March the church secretary and I, on very short notice, helped put the Episcopal Cathedral’s services online when we could no longer meet in person.

In late spring through the summer of 2020 the one thing keeping me sane and occupied was rehabbing Kelly’s office shed. I redid the floor and ceiling and built a desk, bookcase and cabinets. Once we found out that Kelly had to go in for another round of risky open heart surgery, the remodeled shed gave her something to look forward to and something for me to work on.

While I was working on the shed, Slavoj Žižek’s managed to put out two books on the Pandemic that I read and enjoyed over the summer. Two observations from these  books stick with me. First, that we should remember that there are places in the world (such as Syria and Yemen) where things are so bad that COVID-19 is just a minor annoyance. Another point is that we need international solidarity, cooperation and mobilization to face crises like pandemics and climate change.

A lack of solidarity triggers, in me, moments of old testament prophet rage and foot stomping around the house. As Adam Curtis put it, we’re all just squealing individualist little piggies and that individualism isn’t working out well. I’ve lost the big-tent-homesteading ethos that led me to tolerate those who still cling to me-first ideology such as preppers, social media CEOs, corporate politicians of both parties, COVID denying wellness influencers and the local evangelical mega-church that decided to keep meeting during the worst of the pandemic.

At the same time I recognize that I was raised in the same culture and am susceptible to the same narcissism. I’m a squealing piggy with a blog after all. But let’s remember that this crisis has fallen disproportionately on poor and vulnerable people. We can’t forget the structures that perpetuated inequality and worsened the pandemic. Over 500,000 people needlessly went to an early grave in the U.S. and many of the people that cared for them are scarred for life while I sat comfortably at home.

I’ve also thought a lot about what works and what doesn’t during a crisis. A Buddhist friend taught me to observe my thoughts and emotions and that trick has been extraordinarily useful. Most of the time I noticed low level anxiety and fatigue caused by the constant risk management we all had to do. Sometimes I had COVID dreams and outburst of hypochondria. Observing these feelings helped to not get attached to them and kept them from spiraling out of control. I also came to the conclusion that it’s perfectly okay not to be productive all the time and recognize that the muses can be fickle in a crisis. Looking back I actually did a lot of construction work and beekeeping just not writing and podcasting.

I’m incredibly grateful to be financially secure, to have a roof over my head and to be fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, I’ve also eaten a lot of junk food and haven’t exercised like I used to. I took my first trip to the market in almost a year yesterday and am feeling optimistic and less anxious. But like Žižek, I hope that we don’t go back to the old normal but work towards a better, new normal.

What was the last year like for you?

Saturday Linkages: Brutal Homes and Gardens

Is This “Open-Concept Bathroom” a Dream or a Nightmare?

We Spoke to the New Yorker Who Found a Whole Apartment Behind Her Bathroom Mirror

Weirdest Zillow listing of the week

Meet the Couple Who Bought the Brutalist Bachelor Pad You Saw on Twitter

US saw sharp increase in crash deaths in 2020 despite fewer drivers on roads

Simple Drawing (Or Painting) Exercises You Can Do Every Day

The Best Drawing Tutorials for Architects on YouTube

Twitch Star Quits GTA RP After In-Game Jobs Become Too Much Like Real Jobs

David Graeber: After the Pandemic, We Can’t Go Back to Sleep

Online Beekeeping Talk for Pasadena Grows

Hey all I’m doing an Zoom talk on beekeeping this Saturday March 6th at 10:30 AM PST. It’s freeeeeeeeeee and you can sign up here. I’m going to review basic honey bee biology and then get into the techniques of “Backwards” a.k.a. “natural,” a.k.a. “no-treatment” beekeeping, a.k.a. “bee-having” as the trolls call it. Hope to see some of you this Saturday!

Saturday Linkages: That Hauntological Feeling

Sprawl made Los Angeles’ pandemic problem worse, not better

Exploring the Abandoned Spaces of the Internet

Fry’s Electronics is shutting its doors for good

What would it be like to live in an abandoned mall? Donate to my Patreon and we’ll move here

If you like mannequins you’ll love this real estate listing

Vertical Farming Does Not Save Space

Despite cool and occasionally unsettled conditions in NorCal, unusually dry conditions to persist into March

A heartbreaking but important reminder of the cost of this epidemic