fixed it

Comrade Trump tweeted this in his morning rant:

The tweet needed work.

If Democrats Republicans want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of the very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen president, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have he has made Israel the American people feel abandoned by the U.S. president and his Republican enablers.

There. Fixed it.

Advertisements

in which i buy a hat

I needed a new cap. Wait…first let me say this: I’m not a hat guy. Some folks can wear a hat; some folks just can’t. Some folks look like dorks whenever they wind up beneath a hat. I am one of those folks. Except baseball caps. Anybody can wear a ball cap. Even me.

Right. So I needed a new cap. And I decided…wait. Maybe need is an exaggeration. I actually had two ball caps. A nice one bought at the ball park, with the logo of the local minor league team (Iowa Cubs). It’s a good cap, moderately expensive, but when I bought it I had long hair. I’ve cut my hair since then; now the cap doesn’t fit. A stiff wind will swipe it right off my head.

The other cap is what I call my ‘Commie Coke hat’. It’s moderately cheap grey cap, adjustable, has a Co-cola logo with a red star on the front. I mostly wear it when I’m in the woods. Or doing some sort of manual labor. Which means it’s pretty beat-up and stained. Not something you’d want to wear in public.

Co-cola Commie cap.

As I was saying, I needed a new cap. The problem was finding one with a logo I could tolerate. I tend to logo-resistant. I wouldn’t wear that Co-cola cap if it didn’t have the red Commie star (which I assume wasn’t intentional, but still). I mentioned my logo problem to a friend, who gave me the following advice:

Go look on Etsy, you putz.

So I looked on Etsy (which, if you don’t already know, is an online marketplace). There are easily a gazillion ball caps on Etsy. A mind-numbing selection. An overwhelming number of choices and options which left me…well, overwhelmed. I was about to exit the site when I noticed a seller who’d let you put your own lettering on a cap. That had potential. Plus the cap looked fairly nice. Plus it only cost like US$15.

Then I saw it was a seller in South Korea. How could somebody in Korea customize a cap and mail it to the US for about twenty bucks (including shipping)? The answer, of course, is because the Korean seller doesn’t have to fuss about with inconvenient stuff like a livable minimum wage for their employees, a safe working environment, worker health care costs, reasonable working hours, or child labor laws.

So fuck that, right? There was absolutely no way I could ethically buy a cap made under those conditions. Here’s a confession: my ethics can get a tad elastic when my curiosity is engaged. And I was curious. If I ordered that cap, how long it would take for the order to be delivered? Would the product be what I actually ordered? Could a $15 cap made by oppressed workers in Korea be anything but shoddy?

So what the hell, I ordered one. I ordered a specific color, with ITMFA (Impeach the Motherfucker Already)  on the front in a specific font.

You guys, it arrived in ten days. It’s a better quality cap than my Co-cola commie cap. It’s the color I ordered. And while the lettering isn’t perfectly centered, it’s still pretty good and it’s in the font I ordered. In fact, the entire experience was so good that it’s discouraging.

I’m mostly a writer, which means I’m relatively poor. I come from a working class family, which means I feel solidarity with working folks. I can understand why poor folks would opt to buy a quality product from the Asian market for a bargain price instead of a quality product from a US source for a higher price. I think it’s still ethically wrong, but understandable. In the long run, this hurts the poor and working class — but let’s face it; the poor and working class can’t always afford to think about the long run. They’ve got bills to pay now.

So here I am, a relatively poor American wearing a cap made by significantly poorer and much more oppressed Korean workers. Here I am, wearing a hat calling for the impeachment of a man who not only endorses but enthusiastically utilizes the oppression of foreign workers for his own personal profit.

I like the hat. I like the message. I sort of regret buying it. I hate that I don’t regret it more. I deeply regret that global conditions exist that allow one group of workers to be exploited like this, and that allow other workers to justify exploiting less fortunate workers. We can say it’s a dog-eat-dog world, but it’s mainly that way because the rich are starving the dogs. I regret that I contributed to starving the dogs.

If YOU want an ITMFA cap, don’t do what I did. Instead, if you can afford it, kick out the extra coin and buy one made here in the US. In fact, I encourage you to kick out the extra coin and buy a ball cap from a source who’ll use the profits to support worthy causes. A source like, say, the ITMFA Store.

pointless, sort of stupid, dorky = fun

My brother and I started geocaching last April and let me just start by saying flat out that geocaching is pointless and sort of stupid. But like a lot of pointless and sort of stupid things, it’s also fun.

Okay, so some a lot most of you are probably saying, “Greg, old sock, just what the hell is geocaching?” First, stop calling me ‘old sock’. Second, geocaching is…well, it’s described as an ‘outdoor recreational activity’. Which makes it sound incredibly dorky. (Also, when I said geocaching is pointless and sort of stupid, I should have included dorky, because let’s face it — it’s also fairly dorky.) Basically geocaching involves using a GPS-enabled device to locate a container hidden somewhere in the world.

Yeah, there’s a geocache hidden here.

That’s basically it. You may be wondering why you’d want to use GPS to locate a hidden container, especially if it’s pointless, sort of stupid, and dorky. That’s a perfectly valid question. It has a lot of answers, most of which can be boiled down to what I said earlier: it’s fun to find hidden things. Think of it like a treasure hunt. Only without the treasure. Oh, some cache containers include trinkets or toys or other swag, but most don’t — and really, nobody goes geocaching with the idea of finding anything more valuable than the fun of finding it.

There’s one under this bridge.

So how does it work? You download an app, of course. That’s how everything is done these days. The app shows you the general location of caches and gives you some idea of what to look for — the approximate size of the container (most range in size from an ammo box to a teensy tube no larger than the tip of your finger), the difficulty of the terrain (on a scale of 1-5), the difficulty of finding it (again, 1-5), and maybe a hint. Maybe. The app will usually get you to within 10-15 feet of the cache. Then all you have to do is find it.

Yeah, one hidden here too.

It sounds easy. Sometimes it is. Like the one we found yesterday. The map showed us where it was at. All we had to do was park in the lot of some electrical company, hike a third of a mile over a field to a pair of boulders, nose around a bit, and there it was: a dark metal tube on the ground. Easy peasy lemon breezy.

1) Find it on a map.

2) hike to the location.

3) Find the damned thing. It’s right there in the middle of the photo. Honest.

But sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes the cache is disguised. Sometimes it’s a false electrical plate on an air conditioning unit. Sometimes it’s a hollow chunk of dead wood in the crook of an old tree. Sometimes it’s in an old bird’s nest or in a magnetic box painted the exact same color as the metal girder to which it’s attached. Sometimes it’s a tiny container inside a hole drilled into a bolt screwed into an old section of railroad track.

Seriously.

The thing is, you never know. The cache might be out in the open or it might be cleverly disguised. You let the app get you close, then you just start looking. The only thing you expect to find in a cache is a logbook — which is often just a rolled up piece of paper. You sign the log, date it, put it back in the cache, put the cache back where you found it, and…well, that’s it. That’s the whole enchilada. Oh, except for this: don’t let anybody see you doing it.

Folks not involved in geocaching are referred to as ‘muggles’ — and yeah, the term was snitched from Harry Potter. As in the PotterVerse you’re not supposed to let muggles see you engaged in that thing you’re doing. Partly because muggles will, out of innocent curiosity or malevolent intent, fuck with a cache. They might take it, move it, destroy it, throw it away. Or worse — they might all the police.

And one hidden here behind a flood control barrier, though we never found it.

And who could blame them? If you see somebody sidle up to a light pole in your supermarket parking lot, lift the cover of the base, and remove or insert an object of some sort, you’d probably be suspicious. A couple of guys skulking around the flood control barriers looks dodgy as fuck. They could be hiding drugs or planting an IED or cheerfully murdering homeless folks. So you’d be forgiven for calling the police.

Seriously. It’s happened. In Wetherby, England a waitress saw a man behaving suspiciously outside the restaurant.

He appeared to have a small plastic box in his hand and after fiddling with the container he bent down and hid it under a flower box standing on the pavement. He then walked off, talking to somebody on his phone.

She called the police, the police called the Army, the Army sent in the bomb squad with a robot to conduct a controlled explosion. There have been at least five geocaching bomb scares in the last few years. So yeah, when geocaching in urban/suburban you need to be somewhat discreet.

Okay, this is part of the reason we go geocaching.

But here’s the thing. It’s pointless, sort of stupid, dorky, and sometimes suspicious, but geocaching is fun. The brother and I used to get together and sort of lackadaisically noodle around the countryside, stopping at some point for food and beer. Geocaching allows us to lackadaisically noodle around the countryside, stopping at some point for food and beer, only now with a pointless and sort of stupid dorky purpose. We’ve only found about 40 caches, but we discovered a great BBQ place in the small town of Slater that serves a kick-ass modified Cuban sandwich and serves local craft beers. And a place in the small town of Norwalk that serves kick-ass egg rolls and serves local craft beers. And a place in the small town of Carlisle that serves a kick-ass mac & cheese made with some sort of spicy sausage and serves local craft beers.

Okay, maybe geocaching isn’t entirely pointless.

 

knuckles hits fifty

A couple days ago I posted the 50th photograph in the Knuckles Steals the World project — which isn’t really called that. In fact, isn’t really called anything at all, but I felt a momentary need to give the project a title, and that’s what immediately came to mind. As a reminder, this explains the origins of the untitled project.

GSV #22

Fifty seems like it ought to be some sort of project milestone. Milestone is, I suppose, a weirdly appropriate term, given the project is sorta kinda grounded in imaginary travel. Because it’s a sort of milestone — and because it’s a Monday and I don’t feel like doing the stuff I ought to be doing — I thought I’d piss away part of the morning nattering on about the project.

GSV #25

It’s been amusing and interesting and fun (in a very quiet way). I’ve yanked images of windmills in the Netherlands, chickens in a Turkish yard, a woman hanging laundry in some remote Brazilian village, people doing yoga in an Utrecht alleyway, a ruined castle in Andalusia, a small sunlit farmhouse in rural America, an abandoned car in Belgium — all ordinary moment and mundane scenes snatched from Google Street View (as mediated by Geoguessr) and extracted from context. I’m about six months into the project, and it’s still holding my attention.

GSV #34

I’ve actually had a few interesting conversations sparked by the project, mostly about the process and practice of appropriation. One friend, who is also engaged in an appropriation project, said he’d almost abandoned photography. “[I]t got to the point where everything looks like stuff I’ve seen before, and that was in 2005. Curation is the new photography.”

I don’t entirely agree with that last line, but he’s got a point. The unanticipated problem with the notion of the democratic camera is that once we hit the intersection of Everything Can Be Photographed and Ubiquitous Cheap-ass Automated Digital Imagery, it’s only a matter of time before almost everything HAS been photographed.

GSV #38

As I noted when I began this gig, Google Street View has amassed imagery of over ten million miles in 83 countries.

“In that ten million miles, there are bound to be a LOT of things worth looking at. So if you are stupidly persistent and pathologically curious and live a moderately well-regulated disorganized life that allows you to piss away a few hours now and then in an endeavor that has no real value except your own amusement, there’s a decent chance you’ll get to see some of those things.”

GSV #46

I have seen some of those things. That’s where the curation kicks in. Rummaging through all those miles of unedited images and finding a few things that are, at least in my opinion, worth looking at. And of course, because I’m me and I tend to overthink all the unimportant stuff, I’m struck by the fact that ‘curation‘ comes from the same Latin root as ‘cure‘ and originally referred to the act of attending, managing, or restoring health. Art curators attend to the health of the art world — or at least are supposed to. I’m not going to pretend that this project is attending to the health of photography, but it most certainly attends to the health of my interest in photography — so there’s that.

GSV #50

Anyway, here we are at fifty images, deliberately and semi-thoughtfully culled from who knows how many possible GSV images in the world. It’s a ridiculous and pointlessly complicated project. I don’t know how much longer this project will last. I don’t have any end point in mind. But the sheer immensity and randomness of it continues to hold my interest, so I expect it will go on for a bit.

NOTE: If you’re interested, all the equally pointless Knuckles projects — GSV, My Feet Double Exposed, Things on a Table — can be found here.