Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Finally bought a new watch, in anticipation of traveling to Europe in the Spring (forget it!). I haven’t used my calculator keyboard on my old Casio for a while so I opted for just the basic Casio, but importantly, has two time modes. Also a stopwatch, alarm. Also important, is the fact it is waterproof to 50 meters (150 feet?). That’s important for me when I fall into the ten foot deep locks on the canal boat we rent. Amazingly, the watch only cost $23, with a Ten Year Battery. Last year my old watch band broke & it cost me $25 to replace it (the band) as they don’t sell them anymore at Long’s. I’m absolutely amazed that stores still sell any watches at all, with everyone using iphones (except me). I’ll never understand why all the expensive watches ($5,000 !!) Still are analog. Must be a nostalgia thing.

I recently got my contractor license out of limbo (Limbo is a place you go between Heaven & Purgatory). I had to get my original license in 1965 when no builders would bid on my “Clamshell” house in South Laguna. My company, “Master Builders” was a faster way for me to loose money than just doing architecture. Anyway, I had it on inactive status for the last few years but now, since there isn’t much design work, I am building a house for my friend, Sher in Santa Rosa. Talk about “This Old House”. This 400 SF house was built in 1880 for a large family. But now we are adding 1400 SF so that one or two people can be comfortable. With my expert organizational skills we are on budget & on schedule, after we finally plodded thru the frustrating seven month long battle with the local Hysterical Cultural Board, who are the smallest collection of No Nothings in Santa Rosa. In cases like this, it is much cheaper to tear down the entire structure & rebuild it with new materials. But NO!, these materials, (which are not much older than me, by the way), are sacred to these history huggers. So we are taking it apart piece by piece and putting in new stuff (like foundations). Although old styles are not exactly my bag, it is fun to build places like this. After all, my whole life has been changing a piece of crap into a silk purse. See my front renovation of the Jack London Saloon in Glen Ellen, or my Atelier One Art Studios here in Graton, or.... (I don’t have enough time to list them all). Sher is taking a stop motion video of the process which will be fun to watch.

I just finished “A Brief History of the Human Race’ for the 2nd time & I must share an item with my illustrious readers. This book is fairly small but is intensely interesting. One of the cultures that kind of let civilization slide by them were the Australian Aborigines. They were still living as hunter-gatherers just like the early folks of Europe about 15,000 years ago. Anyway, one might wonder how they kept track of not marrying a relative (Like some of the British Royals!) Wouldn’t you?
Well, here’s how one tribe did it. The Aranda Tribe had two numbers ‘one & ‘two’. From that they would use a form of binary arithmetic to count further, like ‘two & one’ (three) ‘two & two’ was four. After that it was ‘many’. To prevent inbreeding, groups were divided into different ‘Totems’, named for a plant or something. Each tribe had two totems(or moietys, as they called them), Say they called them 0 and 1. one had to marry out of your moiety, assigning the children to the moiety of the father . Seemed simple enough. But, no, they went on to divide each moiety into two sections. These sections had names. But each moiety was divided further into sections 00 and 01, moiety 1 into 10 and 11. Reformulated, the marriage rule now required that a person in a given section of one moiety marry into a corresponding section of the other:

In other words, 00 into 10, 01 into 11, and vice versa. A child was placed in the same moiety as the father, but in the other section of it. For example, if the father was in section 00, the child was in section 01. It actually went on to subdivide into a third digit, but my brain just went on overload. There is one final nicety about all these rules. Other tribes had different systems, and believe it or not, they had a way to figure it all out. Goddamn primitive savages!
Just imagine, when we find bones & shards of ancient people, we have no idea that tthey could have such a complex life style.

This is a fun documentary adventure into a deliciously cutthroat Meilleur Ouvier de France, the legendary French pastry competition, to capture the fascinating account of what it takes to be the best patissier. It also shows you how different we are from the French, as their president Sarkosy is involved in the awards. Can you imagine Obama doing that?

Dieter Rams, an Industrial Designer for Braun & others, made a list of the
10 commandments of Design.
Good design is; innovative
makes a product useful
Is aesthetic
makes a product understandable
thorough, down to last detail
environmentally friendly
as little design as possible

I would like to add: Simplicity is the mark of the Master Craftsman.
Also: Form is a result of function (Except in current Starchitect projects).