B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Crap that I feel like revealing about my life

Let’s Extol the Art of Clutter

without comments

Smelling the new Shelves
These shelves are overflowing now, btw…

Let us pause a moment to extol the art of clutter. And it isn’t even a Slate Pitch!

Dominique Browning writes:

Entire companies are being built on the backs of a neurosis that makes us believe that the process of shedding is complicated to the point of paralyzing.

It is all pointless and misguided, and it is time to liberate ourselves from the propaganda of divestment.

I would like to submit an entirely different agenda, one that is built on love, cherishing and timelessness. One that acknowledges that in living, we accumulate. We admire. We desire. We love. We collect. We display.

And over the course of a lifetime, we forage, root and rummage around in our stuff, because that is part of what it means to be human. We treasure.

Why on earth would we get rid of our wonderful things?

It is time to celebrate the gentle art of clutter. We live, and we pick up things along the way: the detritus of adventure; the vessels of mealtimes; the books and music of a life of the mind; the pleasures of our daily romps through the senses.

(click here to continue reading Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter – NYTimes.com.)

If you’ve ever been in my house, you’ll know that I have things everywhere: piles of books, magazines, newspapers, stacks of compact discs and DVDs, artwork in process of being hung, not to mention the more permanent items already displayed, plus cat toys, file folders for the projects de jure, notebooks full of scribbles and diagrams, shelves of vitamins and herbs, bottles of wine and spirits, both empty and partially full, electronic flotsam and jetsam, and all the little snippets and objects of a life lived. Some might consider it clutter, but we’re ok with it, mostly. We vacuum, dust, and clean at least once a week, so it isn’t that it is dirty and disgusting in here, just not spartan. We are not minimalists, we are maximalists. Sorry, Leo! I love you, cuz, but I’m on the other side of the spectrum… 

“Oh, You wanted to *work* at your desk?”

When fashion icons like Iris Apfel agree with me, I’m even more ok with not following the de-clutter trend. 

Similarly, people seem to be obsessed with decluttering their homes these days, but you’re known for keeping your house filled with all sorts of treasures. Why? I love clutter. I think being totally minimal shows a lack of history and soul, and I find it sort of pitiful. I think it’s wonderful to have stuff and live with memories and things you enjoy.

(click here to continue reading Iris Apfel Doesn’t Do Normcore – NYTimes.com.)

That is not to say I don’t need to throw out things, and in fact, I do get rid of things on a semi-regular basis. I rarely save magazines after I’ve finished reading them, (digital excerpts an exception of course, as anyone who is on my email list can attest) I donate clothes to Goodwill or elsewhere whenever I stop wearing them. I don’t have problem discarding objects just because I once used them, I only keep a small portion of talismans of my history. I’m only saying I don’t need your advice on what I should keep. And my house will never look like a yoga studio, sleek, spartan and empty.


Onward Thru The Fog! Oat Willie's
Onward Thru The Fog! Oat Willie’s

There is a reason we talk about nesting. Next time you are out walking, take a close look at a nest.

Nests are full of twigs, bits of fluff, string, moss and bark. Stuff birds take home, and fit to a shape that accommodates their lives.

Some birds even press their warm bodies against their stuff as they are making their nests, molding them to the shape of their breasts, so that they feel like … home.

A home that is uniquely theirs, and uniquely beloved.

(click here to continue reading Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter – NYTimes.com.)


Written by Seth Anderson

June 3rd, 2015 at 9:39 am

Cars Down Memory Lane

without comments

Stereo Sanctity
Stereo Sanctity

Funny how memory works.1 A song by The Cars came on the iTunes shuffler, and I remembered the first time I heard that band when I was 13 or 14, traveling with my uncle Phil up to Frostpocket. We stopped in Atlanta because there was some Amnesty International exhibit on the death penalty and/or the Cambodian Killing Fields (as far as I can remember). We stayed with my aunt Megan, and her boyfriend at the time, Mark (whose last name I forget)2 for three days, one of those I was alone in their apartment, looking at their records, and found the Cars album, put it on the turntable…

Looking at the cover,  I’m pretty sure it was the album, Panorama. 

Greg Prato writes:

For their third album, 1980’s Panorama, the Cars decided to challenge their fans with an album unlike its predecessors. Whereas The Cars and Candy-O were both comprised of instantly catchy and distinctly tuneful songs, Panorama was much darker and not as obvious — an attempt at breaking away from the expected winning formula

(click here to continue reading Panorama – The Cars | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic.)

The Cars - Panorama

The Cars – Panorama

 I’m not even sure I liked the album at the time – I don’t recall purchasing it when I got home, not until much, much later when I became a musical pack rat.

  1. I posted a version of this rumination to Facebook already, sorry if you follow me there and this is a duplicate []
  2. Mark Benson I’ve been told []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 23rd, 2014 at 7:37 am

Posted in Music,Personal

Tagged with ,

zor zor it’s my birthday

with 2 comments

zor zor it's my birthday

Graffiti, Lincoln Park somewhere near Fullerton.

I’m old enough that I don’t want presents from people, unless they are genuine surprises, I find it much better to buy my own presents. I’m torn between purchasing myself a NAS drive to replace a Drobo that I don’t really like, or a quality, direct-drive USB-enabled vinyl turntable. I also considered getting a zoom lens, but I wouldn’t use it that often, so it’s lower on my list.

I’ve heard good things about Synology, such as this machine or similar:

and this Audio-Technica turntable looks pretty nice:

My quick thought is that the NAS drive is a more practical purchase – I do need a better storage device for backups; the turntable would mean I’d have to have space for some vinyl records in an already bursting-to-the-gills office.

Hmmm. What do you think?

Written by Seth Anderson

April 7th, 2014 at 11:14 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , , ,

Sursum Vestri Culus – a rough sketch of the flag for Upper Yurtistan

with one comment

Sursum Vestri Culus – a rough sketch of the flag for Upper Yurtistan

The flag colors:

Upper Yurtistan

courtesy of the Minister of Color and Rhetoric

and the treaty establishing its boundaries:

Treaty of The Expansion of Upper Yurtistan

Treaty of The Expansion of Upper Yurtistan
Honoria with Her Adobe Bag
Honoria, Minister of Color and Rhetoric
Minister of Design and The Future, Blue
Minister of Design and The Future, Blue

Yurtistan Yellow
Yurtistan Yellow

Upper Yurtistan
Upper Yurtistan


Update, added the whole SMS discussion of the proper phrase. You know, for posterity.

sursum vestri culus 1 2013-08-21 08.57.50

sursum vestri culus 2 2013-08-21 08.57.55

sursum vestri culus 3- 2013-08-21 08.58.01


sursum vestri culus 4-2013-08-21 08.58.09


Written by Seth Anderson

February 21st, 2014 at 11:47 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , ,

I’ll Be Out of Touch for a Bit

without comments

Whether I'm Right Or Wrong
Whether I’m Right Or Wrong

Just in case you are trying to reach me in the next couple weeks – I’ll probably be unable to respond to you as I’ll be out in the boonies of central Ontario. Frostpocket, if you’ve heard mention of it. Near Mikisew Provincial Park if you haven’t. 




Frostpocket (click to embiggen)

Here’s a Google satellite Map of the area. There isn’t electricity, running water, nor an indoor toilet to be found on these 100 acres of mostly undeveloped land, so I’ll be a bit out of my comfort zone. I have a solar shower, if it is sunny enough to warm up, I may be able to take a shower every day or three. My dad and uncle have already arrived up there a couple days ago, presumedly smoothing over some of the roughest patches, but I won’t know the true status until I arrive. No matter, it will be fun to (almost) escape civilization for a brief moment. 

I should be back, fully connected to the grid in about ten days if all goes well.

If you need to contact me more urgently, try the usual channels. In our hyper-connected world, even South River might have a WiFi enabled coffee shop! Or not. If you are waiting for me to make a move on Words With Friends, you might have to wait, AT&T’s international data plan is a real ripoff…

FP back porch
Frostpocket back porch, circa 1994

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Seth Anderson

August 29th, 2013 at 6:58 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with ,

Frostpocket Maple Syrup Shack

without comments

Sugar Maple
Sugar Maple

Reading this article in the NYT recently, made me think…

Forty years ago, Mr. Morse would snowshoe into the forest with his father to collect sap from galvanized buckets and load them onto a tractor. The farm has not changed much since then, but the winters have. So has the maple syrup ritual itself.

Scientists say the tapping season — the narrow window of freezing nights and daytime temperatures over 40 degrees needed to convert starch to sugar and get sap flowing — is on average five days shorter than it was 50 years ago. But technology developed over the past decade and improved in recent years offers maple farmers like Mr. Morse a way to offset the effects of climate change with high-tech tactics that are far from natural.

Today, five miles of pressurized blue tubing spider webs down the hillside at Morse Farm, pulling sap from thousands of trees and spitting it into tubs like an immense, inverse IV machine. Modern vacuum pumps are powerful enough to suck the air out of a stainless steel dairy tank and implode it, and they help producers pull in twice as much sap as before.

(click here to continue reading Maple Syrup Takes Turn Toward Technology – NYTimes.com.)

Forty years ago? That would be in the 1970s, and as it happened, I witnessed first hand such production at my family’s 100 acre spread called Frostpocket. I put out a call for some photos of it, and so far, have received three.

Frostpocket Maple Syrup Shack
Frostpocket Maple Syrup Shack, originally uploaded by swanksalot. [scanned from a print, and slightly retouched in Photoshop]

The site of the Frostpocket Maple Sugar shack (photo taken a few years after we moved away)

As part of our family history, partially excerpted from:

In the spring of 1974 George tapped a few maple trees around his house and made five gallons of maple syrup. His evaporator was an old-fashioned flat steel pan that had been given to him by Wilfred. The next year George surveyed the hillside between Randy’s house site and south of the log cabin and found places for 288 taps. That spring he had the help of Greg Sperry and Bie Engelen, who had wintered over in the cabin, and of Colleen, who was pregnant with Katie.

George placed the old flat pan outdoors near his house and carried the sap to the pan in the old fashioned way, in buckets. The first run of sap was on April 7 followed by runs on April 15 and 16, April 20 and 21 and on April 22 and 23. Colleen pulled a muscle while carrying buckets of sap through the deep snow and her doctor ordered her to stop. She devoted her time to curing and smoking last year’s hams and starting tomato plants for the garden while George and Bie continued working in the bush until the weather turned warm and the sap stopped running. George made 25 gallons of syrup that year, much of which was amber or dark. George sold some of the syrup and used the rest at home as a sweetener. In the fall of 1975 a shed was built in the flats below the log cabin and the evaporator pan moved there. A large quantity of standing dead balsam fir trees were cut from the edges of the clearing and stacked near the shed for use as firewood the following spring.

Frostpocket Maple Syrup - Washing the hoses
Frostpocket Maple Syrup – Washing the hoses [scanned from a print, modestly tweaked in Photoshop]

Per my dad: “homemade tubing washer, taken about 1978.”

The eroded granite hills of the Eagle Lake Uplands are an ideal environment for the rock or sugar maple and the sugar maple is the dominant tree on the stony hilltops of Machar Township. The first generation of pioneers placed a high value on maple sugar and brought sugaring off equipment with them when they settled the township in the 1880s. By the 1970s there were half dozen maple syrup producers in the Uplands community.

Frostpocket Maple Syrup - remnants
Frostpocket Maple Syrup – remnants [scanned from a photo print, and slightly tweaked in Photoshop]

The boiler where we made maple syrup, after about ten years of neglect.

For the 1977 sugar season, George designed a system of dump stations to reduce the effort needed to collect the sap. Gathering the sap from the sap buckets and hauling it to the evaporator is the most laborious part of making maple syrup. At least once a day when the sap is running, every bucket has to be emptied and the sap delivered to the evaporator and boiled to syrup as quickly as possible. On a warm day any delay might result in a finished product that is “dark”.

George Shovelling Snow - Frostpocket
George Shovelling Snow – Frostpocket

If the sap is left in the buckets overnight and the temperature stays warm throughout the night the sap may begin to ferment and will spoil. The spoiled sap can still be boiled into syrup but is will be very dark, have an after taste and be difficult or impossible to sell. Furthermore the spoiled sap will contaminate the buckets, tubing and storage tanks making any syrup produced thereafter more likely to be dark.

Most modern sugar bushes use a system of tubes that moves the sap directly from each tap to the evaporator house without the use of buckets. In January or February 1977 George and Philip set up 22 dump stations connected by black plastic PVC tubing to one of two storage tanks. One storage tank was mounted next to the evaporator in the sugarhouse. The other was a transfer tank located in a low spot between the log cabin and George’s house.

The men used a gas-driven gear pump to move the sap from the transfer tank to the storage tank in the sugarhouse. The sap was collected from the buckets hanging from each tap in the usual way but instead of carrying the sap to the evaporator, it was carried to the nearest dump station. From the dump station the sap flowed by gravity through the tubing to one of the storage tanks. Whenever the storage tank was partially full, George would build a fire under the evaporator and began to boil the sap into syrup. As the level in the evaporator dropped he would open a valve to move sap from the storage tank into the evaporator.

The old flat evaporator made syrup in batches. When all of the syrup in the pan was ready, George poured the finished syrup into retail containers and then sealed the cans. In 1977 he purchased a more modern evaporator that had partitions built into it. The sap continuously entered at one end of the pan and moved slowly to the other end where it was taken off as syrup.

George always made the syrup while Philip and Debbie emptied the sap buckets and carried the sap to the dump stations. When the storage tank was near empty the sap in the transfer tank was pumped over to the storage tank and George continued to make syrup until both tanks were empty. After a good run the evaporator was kept boiling until late into the night.

and to quote myselffrom 2010:

Maple syrup season was always my favorite time of year as a kid: spring meant snow was beginning to melt, plus there was lot of opportunity to play in mud as I walked the mile home from where the school bus dropped me off. I didn’t participate much in the actual maple harvesting process, but it does have an evocative smell which I can still recall after all these intervening years.

Written by swanksalot

April 6th, 2013 at 9:14 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , ,