2002 Notebook: Weak III
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15 January 2002
Unimaginative Urinals
San Francisco’s Exploratorium is one of those places where the myriad educational installations are supposed to be fun and interactive. If I correctly remember the institution’s propaganda, there’s not a single “Do Not Touch” sign in the entire building. And that’s why I was disappointed soon after arriving at the Exploratorium tonight.

My first stop after entering the building was the UC, or urination chamber. The urinals looked deceptively ordinary, with no hint of any interactive features. It turns out the urinals were, in fact, the exact same urinals installed at bars, office buildings, and other public spaces throughout San Francisco. There wasn’t even one of those clever infrared motion-detection sensors that automatically flushes the urinal when someone walks away.

I left the toilets disappointed. How could curators charged with fostering discovery and innovation overlook the urinals?

16 January 2002
New Advances in Hermitic Technology
I always liked the idea of being a hermit, except that my love of interacting with my friends always ruled out that career option. Until now.

I read that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia approved a petition from Richard Withers to be an honest-to-God (so to speak) hermit according to the laws of the Catholic Church. Now here’s the good part: Brother Withers can email people, but not talk with them.

I think I’d make a great, agnostic hermit. I like the idea of sitting in a cave with cases of Rainier Ale, a roaring fire, and a laptop computer with satellite connections to the Internet. I could walk around unshaven, in my underwear, writing warm letters to people I never see.

(After writing that, it just occurred to me that I’m almost there except for the cave and the fire. And who needs a fire when there’s Rainier Ale at hand?)

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17 January 2002
A Visual Reminder of an Unrealized Work
I find inspiration in the most unusual forms, in the most unlikely places. This afternoon, for example, I saw a piece of canine excrement covered in pieces of Styrofoam packing material. The unusual combination of common wastes reminded me of a piece that’s been on my “to do” list for years.

When I spent a lot of time hiking in England, I was keenly aware of the piles of cow shit that dotted the pastoral trails. I decided that I’d cover the offending cow pies with whipped cream. I figured that would be a good way of alerting other hikers to the familiar countryside perils, and would make an interesting pattern of white specks on the grey landscape.

As with so many of my other ideas, I never made the planned piece. Perhaps I’ll do so in San Francisco, or perhaps not.

18 January 2002
My First—and Probably Last—Movie
I’ve only made one film in my life. When I was in high school, I used my late grandfather’s eight-millimeter movie camera to make a science-fictiony thing about the end of the world, a time when all human beings have mysteriously disappeared. The man at the camera store opened the can of film to see what kind of emulsion I used, thus exposing and destroying my first movie.

My teacher felt sorry for me, and gave me an “A.”

Although I have few regrets in life, I do wish I could go back in time and thank the man at the camera store for saving me from the expense and misery of making films.

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19 January 2002
You Can’t Go Wrong with Model Trains
I went to an opening today, and saw the first piece of the new year worth plagiarizing. The work consisted of three concentric HO train tracks, a model train engine, a piece of chalk, a miniature video camera, and a few other gizmos. As the train went round and round and round, the piece of chalk mounted on an armature created a ring of chalk on the floor. Even though you can’t go wrong with model trains, the piece was in fact quite nice.

I had a brief chat with the artist, Joseph deLappe, but failed to get any contact information. That oversight may come in handy should I ever overcome my sloth and make a similar piece.

20 January 2002
An Uncomfortable Ignorance
Although my life has been generally pleasant in recent months, I have the uncomfortable feeling that I’m overlooking something, something big. For some reason, I keep remembering the great discoveries my father made late in his life. For example, keeping a rag or paper towel on the kitchen floor while preparing food. Whenever you spill something, just kick the rag on top of the dropping. Et voilà!

I have the uneasy sensation that I’m not cognizant of something of equal importance, but I nevertheless can’t imagine what I’m missing.

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21 January 2002
How Not to Eat a Burrito
I ended up in the wrong part of town at a restaurant that served burritos to ignorant Caucasians. I knew the managers were targeting inexperienced diners for three obvious reasons. First, the burritos were ridiculously expensive. Second, the proprietors charged extra for salsa instead of making it freely available!

And then there were the napkins. Every burrito joint everywhere has napkins, for the obvious reason: burritos are extraordinarily succulent. But these napkins were different: they featured an illustrated guide on how to hold and unwrap a burrito!

I feel sorry for the poor gringos who don’t know where to find a great burrito, I really do.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart