Archive for the ‘Furnishings and tools’ Category

IIlusory penguins

July 27, 2023

From my regular correspondent Ellen Kaisse yesterday:

I was walking around the grounds of a nearby high school and saw these black and white creatures off in the distance.

(#1) [AMZ:] Are those penguins, advancing upon us?

I knew they had to be football training sleds (see picture below of the closest thing I could find on the web), but they sure looked like penguins. I immediately thought of you. [AMZ: notorious penguin fan that I am]

(#2) [AMZ:] Football training sleds; you charge into them (I have actually done this)

I think if you enlarge the picture [in #1], it will keep looking like penguins, at least up to a certain magnification.

There’s a little lesson in perception here. If, for whatever reason, you are primed to search out certain things in your visual field, you are likely to “see” your target in some of the wrong places, in visuals that merely resemble the thing that so engages your attention. Penguins are one of my totem animals; I live surrounded by images of penguins and simulacra of penguins, and friends keep giving me more; so I’m attuned to penguins in a way that few other people are, and am inclined to unconsciously seek them out. Through long association with me, Ellen Kaisse has picked up some of this inclination. (My daughter and grandchild and various other friends who have been supplying me with penguiniana over the years have similarly gotten attuned to the flightless birds.)

I have written elsewhere on this blog about my perceptual sensitivity to the letter Z, ’cause I’m a Z guy. That occasionally leads me to misidentify symbols that merely resemble Z, or to fix on certain forms of the capital letter S as if they were Zs. For me, Zs lurk everywhere. (I notice spoken /z/ in much the same way, especially in word-initial position.)


The dinner art installation

June 9, 2023

Assembled yesterday morning, on the teak coffee table in the living-room area of my condo, an art installation that doubles as a dinner-table setting. Some of the elements in this composition  are components of both the installation and the dinner setting; some are part of the installation only — or, some would argue, actually constitute a centerpiece for the dining table, in which case the whole thing is a dinner-table setting, but viewed either as artistic display or as dinnerware (think of Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain, but with a lot more parts and with the stuff actually capable of serving its usual function.)

Photos (by Erick Barros):

(#1) View of the installation from the front

(#2) View of the installation from above


Another new thing

June 4, 2023

On order via Amazon — and now, the tracker tells me, three stops from delivery to my house (along with a huge container of Tide free-and-gentle laundry pods, as I approach the end of the previous supply) — a new hand mirror, to replace the old one, with a long chip out of its rim from when a housecleaner dropped it some years ago, but, more significantly, with a thin handle that either had to be gripped (awkwardly) like a bat or held with thumb and forefinger (which, since the mirror itself was heavy, is now difficult for my disabled hands) — oh, it has now arrived, before I could finish this sentence! — I thank Emily Dickinson for my punctuation — and wow! it’s actually lighter than the old one.

But enough of this burbling; you want facts. And a picture. Like this:

With a 6.1″ diameter mirror (the company uses the all-caps TASALON as its name, but references to it often use Tasalon, which I find more congenial)

From Tasalon’s puffery on Amazon, seriously edited down, but still tending towards the manic:

— Unbreakable: Made of high-grade tempered glass, the glass mirror is firmly embedded in the plastic frame using ultrasonic technology, so it won’t break when dropping.

— Anti-slip design: There is a comfortable rubber grip on the handle to protect the mirror from falling off. The handle can be used for hanging on hook for easy shaving, showering and makeup.

— Durable and versatile: The unbreakable mirror is 5 times more durable than most glass mirrors on the market and won’t break when dropped, stepped on, pressed, vibrated.

For me, it’s mostly about the rubber grip, and then the light weight, which Tasalon doesn’t even mention. It has a place right by my desk chair, which is where most of my self-care goes on. (And lots of other stuff; I fold the laundry sitting down in that chair, for example — gotten pretty efficient at it, too. A benefit of practice: skills can be routinized and then performed smoothly without thought about the step-by-step process; and the skills can then then be honed, made more effective and more efficient.)

And now a break to take a walk around the block with my walker, on a beautiful warm day, in the safe interval between whizzes (which will sometimes stretch out a bit over 25 minutes if I am fully engaged in some activity). I’m wearing my PUT YOUR CLITICS IN SECOND POSITION t-shirt, which is what was on the top of the t-shirt pile; given the current political climate, I should probably change to something that’s flagrantly queer (like GAY AS FUCK, in big bold letters), but I’ll be lazy.

(I’m slowly working up to doing a posting for my man Jacques’s death day, today, but that’s hard rowing and right now I’ll just do the tiny tour of the neighborhood he loved so much.)


Two household photos

May 29, 2023

Following up on earlier postings about additions to my domestic environment, which came with mumblings of getting pictures of these things (I have no way to take photos myself any more) — now fulfilled by Erick Barros and his phone.

First, the new photo gallery “Street Life”. Then, the new equipment in the kitchen: wheat straw bowls, mugs, and cups to add to the plates from an earlier order.


The right angle knife

May 28, 2023

That’s the right-angle knife ‘the knife with a 90º angle (between handle and blade)’, not the right angle-knife ‘the correct knife with an angle’; hyphens can be your friends.

But right angle knife is what the ABLE-T company (more on them to come) calls one of its “affordable adaptive tools” that help to afford independent living to people with disabilities. Like me.

My right angle knife was a gift yesterday from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky; I field-tested it at dinner last night for slicing celery, and it’s truly wonderful. (I had simply abandoned slicing and chopping celery and carrots — I eat a lot of celery and carrots — because it had become too difficult and painful for my sad afflicted hands.)

[Linguist’s note: I don’t often get a chance to use transitive afford (to) ‘provide or supply (an opportunity or facility)’  (NOAD) — with an oblique object marked  by the preposition to — so it was a pleasure to deploy it above.]

The actual object:

(#1) I know this just looks preposterous, but you need to see it in use


Equipment days

May 25, 2023

From my 5/24 posting “More wheat-straw-ware”:

In my 5/20 posting “More new things”, I reported on replacing some thin, cheap, and ugly plastic plates, plates that I had just endured for years, with wheat straw dinner plates — 4 deep plates and 6 flat plates — which are sturdyunbreakable, lightweight, microwave-safe, and attractive (in a variety of muted colors [5/25: some would say these pastel colors are faggy, and I say bring ’em on]).

So pleased was I with these with these that on 5/22 I ordered 5 small plates and an assortment of bowls: 6 huge ones, 8 cereal bowls, and 5 small bowls. These arrived yesterday, 5/23 [photos from the makers below]

… [then] went for 8 13.5-oz mugs with handles … and 4 15-oz. cups with handles, which I hope can serve in place of tall glasses. [more photos below]

These are arriving today. Also arriving today: 2 OXO Good Grips dish brushes, to replace an old and dying — not to mention overharsh for wheat-straw-ware — dish brush.

And while I’m on the topic of household furnishings, I’ll throw in a photo of a hospital male urinal, since 3 of these are significant features of my household: my worktable urinal Otto (named for the big O of his mouth) and the two bedroom urinals, the OvalTwins, Ono and Ona (oval because their mouths got squinched into an oval, rather than round shape; they’re twins because they’re hard to tell apart, though careful inspection will show which one is Ono).


More wheat-straw-ware

May 24, 2023

In my 5/20 posting “More new things”, I reported on replacing some thin, cheap, and ugly plastic plates, plates that I had just endured for years, with wheat straw dinner plates — 4 deep plates and 6 flat plates — which are sturdy, unbreakable, lightweight, microwave-safe, and attractive (in a variety of muted colors).

So pleased was I with these with these that on 5/22 I ordered 5 small plates and an assortment of bowls: 6 huge ones, 8 cereal bowls, and 5 small bowls. These arrived yesterday, 5/23, and required me to reduce 7 cardboard boxes to small pieces that will go into the recycling bin. For this I used my trusty box cutter, which I have become quite adept at wielding; I am now a skilled down-breaker of cardboard boxes.

Yesterday, I managed to return all the old (heavy and eminently breakable) bowls to their original places in my kitchen cabinets — a task that, now that I am 5′7″ rather than my original 5′10″, and disabled, required stretching to painful limits and handling the bowls with great care. But I did it, without breaking any bowls or parts of my body. The new bowls are nothing like the old ones in style, but they’re charming in their own way, plus easy to use.

That left drinking vessels: glasses, mugs, and cups. These are all regrettably heavy, but the cups and mugs have handles; the glasses were carefully selected to have flared rims; ordinary straight-sided glasses are hell for me to use, since I have to grasp and hold them using thumb and forefinger, whose muscles barely work for me, and then painfully, but a lip gives me some support.

I knew ahead of time that plastic glasses, including the wheat straw composites, are almost all straight-sided. Nobody does flared rims, apparently, but there are companies that make fairly tall glasses with handles — one that offers good-looking 17-oz. glasses with handles, but they wouldn’t arrive until mid-July; they weren’t so damn wonderful that I’d wait six weeks for delivery, so I crossed them off my shopping list. Went for 8 13.5-oz mugs with handles (I use mugs for lots of things, including as small urinal-substitutes — I need to have urinals to hand all over the place, and there’s no reason they all have to look like medical equipment), and 4 15-oz. cups with handles, which I hope can serve in place of tall glasses.

Everything arrives tomorrow or Friday. I see more cardboard break-down in my future. Meanwhile, I’m washing glasses, cups, and mugs, and putting them back on the shelves they came from. Hard work for me, but there’s something especially satisfying about washing glassware in hot soapy water, rinsing it, and then drying it with a dishcloth so that it gleams. Maybe I was a dishwasher in a diner in a previous life.


Street Life

May 21, 2023

A just-installed photo gallery on the wall above the desk in the study of my condo. An addition to the visual density of the place, providing enjoyment for me, but also intended to absorb and please friends and visitors (I am a deeply sociable person, and I like to entertain, in several senses.)

About Street Life. A display of six sex-tinged (but not actually X-rated) photos of men on the street (from Samson McGee, who maintains a gigantic library of malesex photos for sale), each with a fortune from a fortune cookie. I have given them titles and ordered them below in a kind of natural progression; here with the fortunes:

— Soon Paid Off: street hustler, iconic and tough; All of your hard work will soon be paid off.

— Performance over Speed: street hustler, not at all toughened up yet; People forget how fast you did a job — but they remember how well you did it.

— Time Not Money: two sailors, possibly cruising, maybe even hustling; A friend asks only for your time and not money.

— Offer Affection and a Sea-going Hard-On: two sailors strolling, one with a hard-on; Love is being offered to you, be affectionate in return!

— Offer Affection and an Unbuttoned Hard-On: two guys talking on the street, one with a hard-on and his fly open; [once again] Love is being offered to you, be affectionate in return!

— Fish Sticks and Moose Knuckles: two guys talking on the street  in front of a shop selling fish sticks (one sporting a tremendous moose-knuckle); Every wise man started out by asking many questions.

Once again, I would like to give you a photo of the display, but I have to wait until I can get someone to take a picture for me.

The visual density of my environment. First there are the books — in the big main room, the study, and the bedroom. Mostly a deeply random collection of things saved from the dispersal of my 40,000-volume professional library, though there are some coherent subcollections. But possibly worth scanning: I doubt that there’s anyone else in the world with this collection of titles, so you might find some surprises.

Then on almost every remaining horizontal surface, collections of objects — remarkable, pretty, funny, sexy, artfully made, full of affectionate associations. Gay symbols, penguins, mammoths, phallic symbols. In the heavily X-rated bedroom, representations of dicks, simulacra of dicks, creatures with bodyparts in the shape of dicks, and so on.

And on almost every available vertical surface, artworks, cartoons, collages, Zwicky images, postcards (men, animals, food, whatever), and photographs, both family photographs  and hot guys. In the heavily X-rated bedroom, a huge assortment of my XXX-rated homoerotic comic collages.

Much here to amuse the eye and engage the mind. Come visit sometime.



More new things

May 20, 2023

My previous “New Things” posting (on 5/11) was about replacing household furnishings that were difficult, painful, or actively dangerous for me to use with more suitable items. As it happens, the replacements were well-designed aesthetically as well as functionally.

This morning, noting Target ads for melamine plates for picnic use — it’s the season — the colors of which offended her, my daughter Elizabeth was moved to suggest to me that I might think about replacing the thin apple-green plastic plates I’d been using, whose virtues were that they were super-lightweight (crucial for my seriously disabled hands), durable,  microwave safe, and really cheap (they’re still available: Preserve® Plateware, in #5 plastic, recyclable too). Alas, cheap in both senses: inexpensive and of inferior quality. And I hate the color.

In my kitchen cabinets I have a full set of handsome stoneware plates and dishes that Jacques and I bought for everyday use, plus a full set of elegant china for when we had guests, but now it’s all way too heavy for me to handle, and far too breakable. I can deal with a bowl, because I can hook a thumb and forefinger on the rim and then carry it safely, but plates are out of my range.

Now Elizabeth had planted in my mind the idea of replacing the cheap greenies with something better — not melamine, because it doesn’t microwave safely — but something more aesthetically pleasing, and maybe even on sale, since it’s the picnic season.


New Things

May 11, 2023

A report on  a project to replace household furnishings that are difficult, painful, or actually dangerous for me to use. With three recent advances:

— in my bedroom, a rolling utility cart serving as two laundry baskets (one for hot-water wash, one for cold-water wash; I do all the laundry myself)

— in my bathroom, a free-standing towel rack with a shelf for a bathroom wastebasket (and with poles for my towel and wash cloth and for a guest towel and wash cloth)

— in my bathroom, a scale designed for the feeble elderly (like me)

I found these objects on-line (details below, with pictures from the makers), and when they were delivered, I had my crack caregiver army (Erick Barros and Stephanie Gray, representing Bay Area Geriatric Care) to unpack them, assemble them, and dispose of the packing materials. And then (since I no longer have a way to take photographs — a separate sad story), Stephanie took photographs of the new things in their context, for me to show you.