Olio
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Olio: October 11, 2021

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

Today is National Coming Out Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day (with President Joe Biden the first president to officially proclaim it so). Those are great holidays to have as part of my birthday.

I’ve had a number of small ideas for blog posts over the past couple of weeks and rather than write each one out separately, I thought I’d share a bunch in one of my Olio posts. Here’s what’s been on my mind lately.

What I’ve Been Reading

“How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell. A philosophically deep book that has quite a number of ideas that I will have to mull over for a while. One concept that spoke to me was Odell’s take on how individuals are expected to “brand” themselves online, just like organizations. We are supposed to be absolutely consistent in how we present ourselves over time. (pg. 162-163) But that’s not human nature. We have complex identities and boiling them down to one online is ridiculous when you think about it. It’s why I have resisted focusing my personal blog on one topic, though I have certainly tried at times. It’s too confining and doesn’t express all of me. My blog probably won’t ever become super popular because it isn’t focused, but that’s fine. I’m actually doing a pretty good job of resisting the attention economy by operating it the way I want.

Book: "How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy" by Jenny Odell.
Book: “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell.

“Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt. This work of fiction about a 14 year-old girl’s relationship with her beloved uncle absolutely ripped my heart out. Many times throughout, I wept for these characters as though they were real people. This is a brilliant novel. I love the title, too.

Book: "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" by Carol Rifka Brunt.
Book: “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt.

What I’ve Been Watching & Listening To

The New Romantics (Documentary BBC) on YouTube. This was a fascinating look into the music scene that gave rise to Duran Duran, one of my favorite bands. I did not realize how localized the New Romantics movement was in England, with the boys from Birmingham (Duran Duran) being seen as provincial because they weren’t from London. The movement started in London as a way for those who weren’t punks or Teddy boys to avoid those who were. They would start violent altercations with anyone who wore makeup or was inspired by David Bowie, as the New Romantics were. I’m fascinated with how certain music movements are tied to specific areas, a reaction to their environments.

How NFTs are building the internet of the future (TED Talk). Hubby and I were talking about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) recently, wondering what the point of them was. These are digital assets, like photos or memes, that are assigned a place within blockchain as proof of ownership. If that sounds like complete gobbledygook, welcome to the club. However, according to this TED Talk, what NFTs do is provide a method for digital intellectual property to provide monetary value or assets for the creator or whoever owns the NFT for digital creations. Other forms of intellectual property (copyrights, patents, trademarks) aren’t quite up to the task of doing this for solely digital assets.

Things Past That I’ve Been Thinking About

Solar-powered calculators. I remember what a big deal solar-powered calculators were when they first were available for purchase. It was like magic to have the sun powering your calculator. They were expensive, too. But now they are considered nothing special and they’re cheap.

I still think they are pretty magical.

Casio SL-300SV Two Way Power calculator with solar power, photo by Mary Warner, September 21, 2021.
Casio SL-300SV Two Way Power calculator with solar power, photo by Mary Warner, September 21, 2021.

Metal coffee cans. My husband recently mentioned using a metal coffee can as a heater in deer stands. One puts a roll of toilet paper into the metal coffee can, pours rubbing alcohol on it, and lights it on fire to produce heat.

That got me to thinking about how often we used metal coffee cans in the “old days,” the “old days” being when you could still buy a can of coffee in a metal tin rather than plastic. Not only could they be used as a deer stand heater, they were the default container for the winter survival kit we Minnesotans would keep in our cars. Part of the kit was candles and matches and if you were stranded and needed water, you could put snow in the coffee can and melt it using the lit candles. Metal coffee cans were also popular for storing items in a garage or home shop.

Other than the plastic lid, they were also recyclable, although we didn’t have the same sorts of recycling programs at the time metal coffee cans were so ubiquitous. Actually, reusing them for other purposes was our form of recycling.

Metal coffee cans have quietly slipped our of our world for the most part. I miss them.

Thoughtful comments welcome.