Saturday Tweets: Big and Trainy

Save the Foot! Save Lost Words!

A neighbor has stepped up, so to speak, with a petition to save our neighborhood’s iconic Happy Foot Sad Foot sign.

The Sunset Foot Clinic on Sunset and Benton Way is moving, and the iconic rotating Happy Foot Sad Foot sign is currently slated to come down at the end of August when the clinic moves.

The sign was installed in 1985 and has become a Southern California icon. One of the last signs grandfathered to rotate in Los Angeles, locals claim that it can tell the future – or at least whether the observer is going to have a good (Happy Foot) or bad (Sad Foot) day, depending on which side they see first.

Featured in several novels and multiple songs and videos, as well inspiring the HaFoSaFo nickname of its surrounding area, the Happy Foot Sad Foot sign is a Silver Lake original, and a Los Angeles cultural resource to be preserved.

In the 1990s, the LA Department of Cultural Affairs saved, landmarked and restored many signs across Los Angeles. Landmarking now falls under the jurisdiction of the Cultural Heritage Commission via the Office of Historic Resources within the LA Planning Department.

We ask that:

(1)  Council District 13 and the Cultural Heritage Commission support designating the sign an Historic Cultural Monument to preserve it in place; and

(2)  the owners of the site incorporate the current sign into their plans for a new restaurant on site.

Please sign to help keep the Happy Foot Sad Foot sign prognosticating for all Angelenos – current and future – and may all your days be Happy Foot!

Put your best foot forward and sign the petition here.

Lost Words
Reader fjorlief inhaga left a link to a Brain Pickings blog post on the Oxford children’s dictionary’s ham-fisted decision to replace words such as fern, willow, and starling with modern abominations such as broadband and cut and paste. Brain Pickings notes a response by author Robert MacFarlane’s and children’s book illustrator Jackie Morris that resulted in an elegant “wild dictionary” called The Lost Words: A Spell Book (public library). And, thanks to Brain Pickings, I now know how to link to books via your local public library.

We All Have Our Triggers

C.F.A. Voysey, Birds of Many Climes.

Periodically, I take a news break and I’m long overdue for another one. At least for a month I need to heed the wisdom of that other periodic newspaper faster Henry David Thoreau and get my head out of the New York Times in order “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.”

Thoreau came to mind after spending way too much time this weekend reading the complete list of all the folks in Jeffrey Epstein’s leaked black book. One positive aspect of that list is that it’s a convenient roster of all the folks that, unlike Epstein, I’d least like to be stranded on an island with. It turns out that Epstein’s buddies include the new atheist gang and their promoter along with pseudo-intellectual publishing phenomenons such as Steven Pinker and Jared Diamond and, as a topping to the crap sundae, a rogues gallery of war criminals and serial rapists.

While I was getting triggered reading Epstein’s list Kelly called from another room with her own triggering incident. She read a paragraph from the introduction of a book she highly recommends, Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks. Macfarlane notes,

The same year I first saw the Peat Glossary [a list of the hundreds of Gaelic terms for the moorland], a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words introduced to the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voicemail.

Add to this outrage the news, in today’s New York Times, that executives at Amazon are unaware that vegetables and fruits have seasons,

The former head of a major produce company said Amazon told him it wanted to sell marquee fresh items at low prices every day. The executive said he had to explain that certain products, like berries or lettuce, may be available all year thanks to global supply chains, but that they cost more in the off-season. Forcing flat, low prices would put too much risk on growers.

Amazon executives, the person said, were caught off guard by the response. It didn’t seem as if they had fully appreciated how seasonality made predictable pricing far harder than selling cereal or paper towels.

This doesn’t end well.

Saturday Tweets: Return of the Oakland Monster

Seat Weaving for Fun and Profit

I finished the last step of that quirky C.F.A. Voysey chair this week: fiber rush weaving. Even if you never build a chair from scratch, mastering seat weaving opens up a whole world of thrift store furniture rescue. I remember seeing a nice ladderback chair in a San Diego thrift store last year in great shape but in need of a new seat. Learn to weave your own seat and you could easily encircle your dining room table with a nice set of inexpensive, second-hand chairs. Seat weaving ain’t rocket science and it’s a whole lot more useful than sending idiots to mars.

Traditionally, this type of woven seat was made with cordage harvested from water plants. Beginning in the early 20th century, in the U.S., most rush seats were made from a rush substitute called fiber rush which is made out of spun paper, the same paper used for grocery bags. This is what I used since it’s cheaper, lasts longer and is easier to work with. Fiber rush comes in a light and dark color. I used the light color. It also comes in thicknesses between 1/8″ and 3/8″. I used the 3/16″ thickness to match the type on the original chair. I ordered it from Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply for $9.75 for a two pound coil, which is just about enough for one chair. I ordered two, 2-pound rolls since I correctly anticipated making some mistakes the first time and I’m planning on making more of these chairs.

I found a helpful seat weaving tutorial on YouTube by Ed Hammond a.k.a. Peerless Rattan. Hammond has sixteen videos on how to weave and cane a variety of chairs. Please note that in addition to ladderback chairs there’s a lot of mid-century Scandinavian chairs that have a slightly different kind of woven seat. Learning to weave Scando chairs will lead you to the “profit” promise in this blog headline as you help supply all the Silver Lake Shamans with refurbished mid-century thrones from which to enjoy a $15 juice while Instagraming their house plants.

Most chairs narrow at the back and you have to account for that when weaving the seat. Hammond shows this first step at the beginning of the video. My chair is square which allowed me to skip this first step. It’s also woven on a frame that fits into the seat. This is convenient in that I was able to weave the seat from the comfort of the vise of my work bench. But I don’t think a ladderback chair would be much more difficult–you just have to straddle it as you weave and remember to peek at the back periodically to make sure you’re not making any mistakes.

Sloppy first attempt on left and improved second try on right.

I’ll send you to Hammond’s oddly soothing video for the details of how to weave the chair. It’s easier to show than to describe in words but I’ll add a few lessons learned. Most importantly, take your time and make sure that each strand is tight and straight as you weave the chair. It’s not a race. Stop frequently to tap the cords straight with a hammer and wooden wedge. If you make a mistake, go back and fix it before proceeding. You can clamp off the cord with a spring clamp in order to take a break or straighten out the lines.

There’s apparently some disagreement over the need to pre-moisten the fiber rush in the chair weaving community but I found wetting the cord with a spray bottle made it easier to bend over the frame. Towards the end of the weaving process you fill the voids under the fiber rush with pieces of corrugated cardboard, being careful to put the writing side down.

When complete, I gave the fiber two coats of shellac in case someone spills a beverage. I’m also hoping that I didn’t spend many hours making an elaborate cat scratcher but so far there’s been no feline interest.

Let me also note that this skill is basketry adjacent. Learn seat weaving or basketry and you’ve got a witty, skill boasting riposte to those who suggest you “learn to code.”