Friday, August 22, 2008

Buy from Brian (goodbye Chi)

I'm coming up on the one year anniversary of zero day and I'm having a sale. As Rob Walker would say, I'm "unconsuming." There are many reasons why—less than a year after losing everything involuntarily—I am voluntarily getting rid of more stuff. If you've noticed the lack of posts recently, it's because I have reached a new place in my consumer mentality that has afforded me much more control over what I buy. Don't get me wrong, there are still loads of things I want to buy, but I've been learning to enjoy the things I already have—instead of hording a giant collection of stuff that I never have the time to enjoy.

One thing I've learned in the past year is that I value experiences much more than any material possessions I could ever acquire. I would rather travel to new cities, enjoy dinner with friends, and spend time outdoors. None of which really require a home with an attic, basement, and garage filled to the ceiling with junk.

So to follow through on this life lived for experiences instead of a collection of material things, I am downsizing significantly again—this time on purpose. In a week, I'll be hopping on a train headed east and then catching a plane to Africa. When I return, I will be moving to NYC to finally call that great city home (at least until I can no longer ignore my desire to return to SF). I'm looking forward to living someplace—for the first time since college—where I will actually know some people. I will be reconnecting with some great friends and fellow designers who have already been enjoying "the center of the universe."

All of my furniture is for sale on craigslist, and half of it has sold or is spoken for. But everything else I own is up for sale too, if the price is right. I will also be selling things at a fundraiser yard sale (for my trip to Africa) this Saturday in Chicago.

This is my mulligan on the past year. I want to leave Chicago with as little as I arrived with and head to Africa, where I can do my part in helping those who never had anything to begin with. Thanks to everyone who has followed this over the past year, I plan to continue writing and evaluating what I buy, but I am considering new directions. Since I hope to buy much less in the near future—aside from the gear I will be buying for my trip—things may get boring around here.

Also, jobs in NYC...?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The world without me (almost)*

Title: The World Without Us
Author: Alan Weisman
Publisher: Picador
Date Published: 2007
Printed: USA
ISBN: 978-0-312-42790-0
List: $15.00
Paid: $15.00

Date 08/4/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: This book has been on my "must read" list since it first came out. I almost bought it at the airport during my last trip, but it was still in hardcover and I didn't want to lug it around. However, on my most recent trip—with a delayed flight and nothing to read—I was happy to see it had been released in paperback. This book is a fictional look at how the world would recover if one day every human being on Earth vanished. As sci-fi as it sounds, it sets the stage for a very researched view of how nature would take back urban landscapes and how quickly everything we have built would crumble without our constant upkeep. The lessons in ecology as well as the physics of nature are incredibly inciteful and they create a fascinating new perspective on the "permanence" of our great cities and all our monumental accomplishments.

I also really love this book's cover, the simplicity is brilliant.

*There were a few moments tonight, during our second attempt at landing in Chicago's stormy weather, where I thought this would be the last thing I ever bought. While we were only a few hundred feet from the ground—and approching fast—the plane suddenly dropped like a rock, making the passengers experience a few seconds of weightlessness before the plane shot straight up into the air. The pilot informed us that he didn't think a third attempt was wise and we would divert to St. Louis and wait the storm out there. Good call chief!

Friday, August 1, 2008

*Unbelievable III* (a wrench in things)

This morning when I was trying to catch my flight back east I had a little altercation with the TSA—sadly not my first—and almost missed my flight. I want to let everyone know—who like myself, hasn't read and memorized the list of all 347 prohibited items on the TSA website—that any tool over 7 inches in length is not allowed in your carry-on. Even if it's just barely over 7 inches. Even if it's less dangerous than a 6.99 inch screw driver, which happens to be allowed.

The TSA are robots, trained to respond to all situations in a scripted manor without any use of judgement, common sense, or rationalization. After speaking with three different agents(one who was a supervisor) and being informed three times of all of my options (none of which were viable), I told them to just keep the wrench so I could catch my flight. They promptly stopped me and asked, "Sir, are you voluntarily surrendering the item?" No, I'm not. You guys are confiscating it. I don't want to give it to you. It's mine. It's not dangerous. I need it to put my bike together when I arrive at my destination. There is nothing voluntary about this situation.

What do you do with these "surrendered" items anyway? Is it thrown in the garbage and sent to a landfill? Does it get auctioned off? Do you guys grab some beers at the end of the day and divvy up all your loot? Is it donated to a charitable organization? Or do you blow it up to make sure it wasn't a bomb? Inquiring minds must know.

I ask all of these questions because I'm sure that the confiscation of my possession is not a rare occurrence and people who are in a hurry are constantly "surrendering" their items, never to be seen again. But this forces the victim to purchase a new item just to replace a perfectly good one that the victim already owned. This really aggravates me. I even asked if they could place it in the Lost and Found so I could retrieve it on my way home (like my lost keys a few months ago). But I was told they "couldn't be responsible for doing that." It's great to know that we have irresponsible people protecting our airports. Heaven forbid something occurs that a script has not been written for, we will all be doomed at the hands of the almighty TSA.