The Sound is Forced, the Notes are Few

bt 种子The Sacred Grove, Beloved of the Arts and Muses by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes

bt 种子Me and the muses are having a toxic relationship meltdown during these weeks under quarantine/curfew. Amber A’Lee Frost gave voice to why this relationship has been so fraught in an essay she wrote for Damage

There has of course emerged a predictable cottage industry of self-help articles on how to “be” under quarantine, many of which paint it as an “opportunity.” And they’re not wrong; it is an opportunity—for them to write articles for a bunch of anxious and directionless people who really do want some instruction on how to become your optimal you (while also protecting yourself and others from a potentially deadly disease that is killing people all over the world).

Big tech cannot hide their delight; finally, a truly captive user base! Facebook insists that “We’re never lost if we can find each other,” which might feel grossly insensitive, but only until you see the glee in the Apple ad: “Now, more than ever, we’re inspired by people in every corner of the world finding new ways to share their creativity, ingenuity, humanity and hope.” Totally. We can all just use this time to learn watercolors (while also protecting yourself and others from a potentially deadly disease that is killing people all over the world).

As a urban homesteading/DIY blogger and author I’ve attempted a few of those how to “be” under quarantine hot takes and I’ve even spent part of my time making bad watercolors. I even wrote a post about that later effort (part of a longer post about learning old school architectural drawing) but never hit the publish button because it just didn’t feel right. A large part of that bad feeling comes from the realization that while I’m upping my drawing skills in quarantine, underpaid grocery clerks are risking the Covid to keep my pantry stocked with Cheeze-Its and La Croix.

Ironically, many of the skills I’ve written about and worked on over the years have proven useful in this crapular period. I’m happy to have the bread making, coffee roasting, carpentry and other skills to fall back on. I guess I’ll have to do some negotiations with the muses on how to write about those skills.

At the same time there’s an alternate history universe in which Kelly and I are more lacking in morals and better at the business side of things. In that universe we would have capitalized on the success of our first book to either peddle herbal supplements or start our own cult or some combination of the two. As Cornell West likes to say there’s a bit of a gangster in all of us. So if I start dispensing compost pile advice in white robes it’s probably time to hit the unsubscribe button. If I don’t go that route beware, other grifters are at the door . . .

Saturday Linkages: Juneteenth

Oakland mural by Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong.

A Juneteenth of Joy and Resistance

Joe Lamp’l Rants about Mosquito Spraying Services, and 9 More Things

Here’s All the Free Online Stuff You Get With Your L.A. Library Card

How to Bribe a Los Angeles Lawmaker

Making Jam from Frozen Fruit

Ancient receipts

I’m Not Wearing a Mask

Arizona Public Media: Behind the Mask

A Brief History of Listening In on Police Radios

Behold the Sector

Over the past year I’ve fallen down a traditional furniture design rabbit hole. In the course of this study I discovered a measuring and calculation tool that went out of use until a recent revival: the sector.

Before the 19th century cabinetmakers worked with proportions rather than measurements. When laying out dovetails for a drawer, for instance, rather than using a ruler a traditional cabinetmaker would use a sector and dividers to come up with the spacing. You can figure out this spacing by trial and error but a sector speeds along the process.

To use a sector to divide a line you open the sector up to the length of the line. Then you hold up a divider to the scale etched on the side of the sector to the number you want to divide your original line into. Then you step out the divider on the workplace.

In addition to carpentry the sector was used in navigation, surveying and gunnery. With your handy sector you can also solve multiplication and trigonometry problems. The sector’s invention is attributed to either Galileo Galilei and/or Thomas Hood sometime in the 16th century.

If you’re a teacher or a parent looking for a geometry lesson to do in quarantine Jim Toplin has a free paper sector plan you can download and assemble. I use this paper sector for laying out dovetails. You can also turn a folding ruler into a sector.

With the rising tyranny of inches and feet the sector went out of use in the 19th century. But recently, freaks like me have revived its use and you can buy one for the first time in over a hundred years.

I’ve found thinking in terms of proportions rather than inches revelatory and liberating. And geometry lessons based in practice stick with you much better than those distantly remembered hours of junior high math.

For more information on sectors see The Sector: it’s History, Scales and Uses

Saturday Linkages: Gaslighting the Quarantine Cats

40 percent of Americans have taken “extremely unsafe” measures to sanitize their food and kitchens

3 Reasons Your Chicken May Display Red Legs

Time to Get Blueberries in Your?Freezer?

Strawberry Feijoa Jam

Your wedding’s been cancelled by the coronavirus lockdown? Good

Inside NextDoor’s Karen problem

What It’s Like to Get Doxed for Taking a Bike Ride

Writer Lane Moore condensed my mood in a Tweet,

is anyone else feeling gaslit all the time lately? I’m wearing my mask everywhere I go, I don’t touch it, I don’t pull it down, I go out once every few weeks for supplies only. and then I see folks not wearing masks at all, throwing big house parties, and it makes me feel insane . . .

Pretty much every second during this pandemic I feel like I’m the only one who heard scientists tell us what we needed to do and thought “This sucks, but I’ll do it.” and everyone around me is like “haha you believed that? We’re on vacay But uh people are actually dying so wtf

This moment holds possibilities for change we have never before experienced

Icon Maker: The Spiritual Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky

Lastly, some comic relief

Allegedly Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Not Rat Proof

I set up our CritterCam last night to see who or what was eating all the bird seed. Turns out it was LA’s enterprising city councilmen! Just kidding. It was rats.

This discovery caps off a busy week for urban wildlife in our backyard. A young coyote visited last week and, last night, our indoor cats got in a full on cat fight on either side of a glass door with a visiting outdoor cat.

Our new bird (rat?) feeder has a lever that closes when a heavy animal steps on it. This is supposed to deter squirrels. As you can see from the photos, rats easily hacked their way around this problem by shimmying between the lever and the food. Perhaps I can just weigh down the levers at night but I have confidence our rats will find a workaround. You have to admire their pole dancing abilities and the futility of most human efforts to stop our rodent companions.

I have taken steps elsewhere in the yard to reduce rats. The chicken feed gets locked up at night (the critter cam showed the rats are active between 11pm and 4am) and I try, not always successfully, to keep things neat.

Back in the 90s I worked at a mouse infested TV station. We had a scale model of a set that was being built for a talk show. One of my coworkers had the bright idea to put a camera on the little set and smear it with dabs of peanut butter. Hilarity ensued when we reviewed the tape the next day. Maybe, instead of feeding the birds, I should start an LA Rats Instagram.