Of Roof Racks and Manifestos

It occurred to me recently, brain baking in this epic July heat, that I have never explained the title of this blog. In a way, it is a rather abstract name; in another way, it is exactly precise. It is illustrated by a roof rack I just built to haul lumber with my trusty '98 Corolla.

The first half, Object, has value in its noun and verb forms.

ob·ject n.
1. Something perceptible by one or more of the senses, especially by vision or touch; a material thing.
2. A focus of attention, feeling, thought, or action: an object of contempt.
3. The purpose, aim, or goal of a specific action or effort: the object of the game.
4. Philosophy Something intelligible or perceptible by the mind.

As a noun, first and foremost, I am in the business of objects. Secondarily, I am in the business of teaching and thinking about objects, though I have not achieved any sort of General Theory that might yet unify my aesthetic ideas.

ob·ject·edob·ject·ingob·jects  v.
1. To present a dissenting or opposing argument; raise an objection: objected to the testimony of the witness.
2. To be averse to or express disapproval of something: objects to modern materialism.

As a verb, Object brings my aims into focus. Simply, I object.

I object to disposability. I object to shoddiness. I object to carelessness. I object to overconsumption. I object to greed. I object to pollution: physical, visual, cultural.

Tighten up.


Air Conditioning

It has been an unusually hot summer in the U.S. this year, breaking temperature records from Chicago to Denver. The heat exacerbated already terrible firestorms in Colorado, and led to a so-called "super derecho" line of storms that swept from the Midwest through to the Atlantic in the first week of July. A derecho is a powerful windstorm, accompanied by lightning and rain, fueled by hot air and ripples in the jet stream. Derechos can often give rise to tornadoes. Fortunately, this year, few funnel clouds were reported but 90 mph winds knocked down trees and power lines, leaving an estimated 2.7 million folks without power.

Without power, people can't run their air conditioning. Without air conditioning, the elderly, people with respiratory ailments, and those suffering from heart disease are at risk of dying from hyperthermia.  

The air conditioning-heat wave phenomena is a bit like a snake eating its tail, however. 5% of the nation's electricity is used to run A/C, producing 100 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, leading to, well, global warming. Despite conservative counterattacks, it has become accepted science that a warming planet leads to longer, more severe weather events across the globe.

Aww, little Will is growing up. His first air conditioner!


A Museum of Early American Tools

Walking, like I do, has its avantages. The other week, on Belmont, I stumbled into a box of free books and picked up a battered copy of Eric Sloane's A Museum of Early American Tools.

I knew Sloane from some of his other books, which my parents had in the house growing up. Museum was originally released in 1962, by the venerable Funk and Wagnall's, a reference publisher that also made illustrated children's encyclopedias that I remember from the elementary school library.

My edition.