12.Apr.2014 Goods & Services: {Indicate type, e.g., electric, flat, steam} irons


Irons; Flat Irons; Electric Irons; Steam Irons:  Nested concepts.  One: Irons are devices that use heat to mold a fabric into a certain shape.  Two: Flat irons are irons heated by an external source (e.g. a stove) and are used to press fabric.  Three: Electric irons are similar to flat irons, but instead of being heated by an external source, heat is generated by electricity.  Four: Steam irons are electric irons that emit steam from the iron surface.

Flat Irons (Disambiguation):  Some use the term “flat iron” to also refer to an implement for straightening hair.  DR nomenclature recommendation: refer to flat irons for hair as straightening irons.

Smoothing Versus Wrinkling: Most sources agree that the wrinkle is the sworn enemy of the iron. This enmity is unwarranted. Some irons actually create wrinkles. See the goffering iron. Goffering irons were used to form the frills on Elizabethan ruffs.  Also known as the Italian iron. Also known as the tally iron. See also waffle irons (creating wrinkles in heated batter).

Early Streamlined Designs:   During the early 1930s, sleek, streamlined designs started to seep into the marketplace.  An ad for one of the earliest (if not earliest?) streamlined models (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright collaborator Alfonso Iannelli) states,  ”‘Beautiful utility has universal appeal.  People desire that which is useful and pleasing.’ AND, the very utilitarian electric iron proves it.  It sheds its Cinderalla garb…takes a beauty treatment…and steps out to win housewives and sales.”

Flatwork Ironers: Industrial ironers.  ”If you need to solve problems with washing and drying of big amount of towels, blankets, bathrobes and mops, you are at the right address.”

Iron Drop Testers:  ”[T]o check the mechanical strength of electric irons by repeated drop.”  For a demonstration see.


06.Mar.2014 #SochiProblems as Glitch

Dover_elevator_passenger_controls_(3_floors)-1One remarkable thing about #SochiProblems was the extent that it focused on goods and services and the built environment.  Recall that many of the pictures that ran rampant were of toilets, curtain rods, coat racks.  Showers and elevator buttons were there too.  It was almost like when Gum, Soda, Popcorn, and Candy all go to the lobby in Let’s All Go to the Lobby, except this parade featured flooded corridors, trashed hotel rooms, and manhole covers.

The failures and accidents spotlighted by #SochiProblems were, in a sense, glitches.  Visual artist and theorist Rosa Menkman refers to glitches as an, “(actual and/or simulated) break from an expected or conventional flow of information or meaning within (digital) communication systems that results in a perceived accident or error.”  Glitch Moment(um) at 9.  Menkman is a thoughtful and eloquent interrogator of glitches in the context of art and culture.

In the context of #SochiProblems, two side-by-side toilets are an actual break from the expected flow.  This break results in a perceived accident or error — albeit not in a digital communication system.  We expect that side-by-side toilets should be separated by some sort of divider that affords users with at least the appearance of privacy.   A hallway full of coat racks is an actual break from expected flow because coat racks are typically solitary creatures.  And so on.

The presence of a #SochiProblem is just the starting point.  Menkman  urges us to, “[u]se the glitch as an exoskeleton of progress.”  Glitch Studies Manifesto.  And “[r]ather than creating the illusion of a transparent, well-working interface to information, the glitch captures the machine revealing itself.”  Glitch Moment(um) at 30. In other words, that an elevator has two “up” buttons leads us to ask questions about elevators and buttons.  What other arrangements are possible?  One large button?  Five buttons — two buttons that control direction, and three that control other aspects of the elevator, like lighting, temperature, or sound?

In any event, a rigorous understanding of glitches is an important tool for truly understanding goods and services or the built environment.  And this presents an interesting example of a glitch outside of the strictly technological context.


19.Feb.2014 Gave Blood — Drew Smith

Rajidae_swmimmingSkateboarding is as a tight a culture as exists.  The obligatory nod when skaters pass one another on the street, the instant recognition of a tail tapping the concrete, or the clack of the wheels rolling over the serrations of sidewalk is in every major metropolitan area worldwide.  The world itself is transformed into a playground as seemingly mundane stairs, rails, ledges, and embankments hold potential energy and become the canvases of kinetic street art.  It’s a culture oft overlooked by the average observer mistakenly viewed as a world of slackers and deviants. But, skateboarding is the art of the city; a modern interpretation of urbanity in its purist form.  It shuns those who don’t belong and elevates those that do.

As a skater in the late 90s I gravitated to the companies that represented both me and the culture at large.  From shoes to board makers, these companies were owned by skaters and acted as a beacon of counterculture.  If one crossed over into the mainstream and forgot its roots, it was cast out (Airwalk, Element, Simple, etc).  There was little acceptance of anything perceived to be outside the circle.  Enter Nike (the most mainstream shoe brand of all).  After a 7 year hiatus from skateboarding it was surprising to find Nike had not only penetrated but now dominates the skate shoe industry.  The company had been trying, and failing, for years to break in, but virtually no self-respecting skater would have been caught dead skating a pair of Nikes.  What had changed?  How had a company not connected to skateboarding broken into the inner sanctum and started giving sermons?  After talking with shop owners, professional skaters, clothing brand owners and friends it was clear Nike’s strategy was calculated and genius.

Read more ›

09.Feb.2014 Handbook: Industrial Parks; see also Mythologies

The mythologies of wine have been well-studied.  Barthes observed that “wine supports a varied mythology which does not trouble about contradictions.”   And while well varied and potentially contradicting, the myths in which wine are steeped are decidedly pastoral.  It “is the sap of the sun and the earth.”  So much so that wine channels the earth almost directly with the concept of terroir.  Literally, land.

On the other hand, the mythologies of the industrial park have been less well studied, although possibly just as varied and contradicting.  If wine is “the sap of the sun and the earth,” industrial parks are the sap of plastic orthodonture wholesale and auto glass repair.  They exist almost with the sole purpose to thwart sun and earth.  This deserves intense additional study.

Yet, despite (and perhaps, due to) the blunt opposition of connotations, a colony of wine tasting rooms thrives in several industrial parks just north of Seattle in Woodinville WA.  They are wildly successful.

See the following for evidence:

IMG_4688   IMG_4693 IMG_4695 IMG_4724 IMG_4714   












30.Jan.2014 Updates

photo-20Print DR Vol. 11 editions are here!  If I promised you one a really long time ago, they will be departing for their destinations shortly.  If I have not (and you want one), let me know.

Starting to get excited about Vol. 12.  More likely than not, it will be titled…big drumroll please…SIGNS.  If you are interested in contributing, send SASE to Takery (dairyriver [at] gmail.com).

Speaking of signs, consider the following: “He who moves about the city, e.g. the user of the city (what we all are), is a kind of reader who, following his obligations and his movements, appropriates fragments of the utterance in order to actualize them in secret.”  Roland Barthes, Semiology and the Urban.





24.Jan.2014 Mac Funny by Marc Carver

As I sit in Macdonald’s
for the third time this week
I notice an old Indian woman
looking at me.
She has no food
and all she does is look over at me
then begin to laugh.
I look a few times to make sure
she is looking at me.
She is
There was a time when it would of upset me.
Not any more.

14.Jan.2014 G&S: {Indicate type of testers, e.g., voltage, amperage, telephone lines, continuity} testers.

Voltage TesterTesters versus meters: Testers and meters are not synonymous.  A tester determines presence or absence, while a meter determines quantity.  Thus, a voltage tester determines whether electric voltage is present in a circuit; a voltmeter quantifies how much.  Note then, that all voltmeters are testers, but not all voltage testers are voltmeters.

Voltage testers: Voltage testers include a sensible component to signal the presence of voltage.  In it’s simplest form, light (in fact, all electric lights are voltage testers on some level).  Many voltage testers also indicate voltage through sound.

Voltage tester mods:  After extensive searching, could only find one voltage tester hack.  Looking forward to the voltage tester that signals the presence of voltage through smell.  That is, a smell tester.  On the other hand, severe reservations about taste testers.

Taste testers:  Not to be confused with food tasters.  Web overflowing with advice on how to become a taste tester.  Compare the National Food Lab’s requirements: (1) liking to “eat food and drink beverages,” (2) liking to be “paid for your opinions,” and (3) living near Livermore, CA.

Testing and monitoring:  The following illustrates a mystery.  Two electricians were asked to: (1) test a circuit for voltage, and then (2) monitor the circuit for a ten minute period.  The first electrician has a digital watch that was found at the bottom of a cereal box, the second has an extremely sensitive timer.  The first electrician tests the circuit — the voltage tester beeps for a moment — and then he (or she) monitors the current for ten minutes.  The second electrician looks at his (or her) timer and protests!  ”The first time you weren’t testing the circuit — you were monitoring it!”

Water “testers”:  AKA dowsing rods.  See also the universal antenna.

Testing the testers:  UL-610610-1 specifies safety requirements for “equipment which by electrical means tests, measures, indicates or records one or more electrical or non-electrical quantities.”



06.Jan.2014 2014 and beyond


Wow, so DR really ended 2013 on a high note.  Not only did we put the finishing touches on Volume 11, we got a legit rep from the Atlantic Cities.  We are incredibly honored and excited by this post.

But with Volume 11 in the can, we look expectantly toward Volume 12.  We are now officially accepting submissions.  It will likely be related to the built environment (or in DR parlance, related to New Pioneering).  Deadline for submissions is April 1st.  Get in touch!  (dairyriver [at] gmail.com)

Related to New Pioneers, we’re also revisiting the Handbook for New Pioneers.  For those who are not familiar with the Handbook, we envision it to be a reference for identifying streetlights and classifying outlet malls, among many other things.  Collaborators wanted.

In the meantime, check back regularly for Goods & Services entries.  Next one up is: “{Indicate type of testers, e.g., voltage, amperage, telephone lines, continuity} testers.”  Probably will be posted next weekend.

Happy New Year!

16.Dec.2013 Volume 11 is here!

DRVol11Cover-1I’m very excited to announce that DR Volume 11 (SOUNDS) is now done!  Read it here or download here.  In a DR first, we’re actually uploading the print version first — I’ll add the electronic version (all linked and stuff) over the next couple of days.  THANKS go out to all of the contributors: Tammy T. Stone, Steve Wright, Matt Diamond, Marc Carver, Buzz Stein, and Zachary Scott Hamilton.  

And as I noted before, this issue was meant to coordinate with the second television episode from the Wizzerds of Rhyme, TONE.





09.Dec.2013 Update

Why hello.

Volume 11:  SOUNDS.  This is themed to correspond with related content from the Wizzerds.  Their premiere is tonight, I’m lagging just a bit.  If everything goes according to plan it’ll be done by next weekend.  Submissions include articles about a 1962 Paul Anka documentary, a deep analysis of sampling, foghorns, dubbing, some poems, some artwork, and a song.  SOUNDS is such an amazing topic that we could devote every DR issue to sounds and not run out.  Ever.

But note the following.

And also the following.

Further, after Volume 11 comes out, we’ll be back doing Goods & Services again.  Helmets was surprisingly stale.  Next one up:  {Indicate type of testers, e.g., voltage, amperage, telephone lines, continuity} testers.


Official Taxonomy