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I’ve been recently helping to clean out the house where I grew up in New York, in order to prepare it for selling.  Amongst thousands of yard sale and junk items, I rescued several childhood belongings that I wasn’t quite ready to part with permanently, including:

Most this stuff is in amazing condition because I’ve always taken care of my things.  Apart from the Legos and the recording of my high school band, most of it will eventually find its way up onto eBay once I’ve had a chance to go through it and clean off the 20+ years of dust and grime.

In addition to the stuff above, I found a few other items, which didn’t belong to me originally, that I felt compelled to save from the yard sale or dumpster:

In the house, there are still plenty of artworks by my grandfather, Gaston Sudaka, that I’m hoping to preserve.  There are also hundreds of family photos and videos that I’d love to convert to digital format, so that I can share them all with the rest of the family.

It’s been an amazing and overwhelming experiencing going through 35 years of family accumulation. But if I’ve learned one thing it’s that it’d be much easier to do it a little every year than it is to wait half a lifetime to unburden yourself of unneeded items. It’s way easier to enjoy all of what you have when you don’t have so much stuff. Less is more.

In spite of the fact that I had to give a big presentation first thing in the morning and that we got to Brooklyn several hours later than intended, yesterday turned out to be a huge success!

We got to Factory Fresh for ROA’s amazing solo show and took some sweet pictures with the new rig.

Then, with only minutes to spare, we sped over to the Brooklynite Gallery to catch the Dolk and M-City show, Eurotrash right before it closed for the day. Met some cool folks at the gallery and chatted a bit about street art, Banksy, Brainwash and all the work getting overwritten this week.

At this point it was too late to make it to the Blind Spot Lab as we had intended, so we headed over to see Faile & Bast’s Deluxx Fluxx Arcade instead. Grabbed some dinner with good friends, then back to the Arcade for another look.

From there we did a drive-by of the Brainwash show, which looks a bit ridiculous, and headed back to Westchester to crash.

Today, back at it again with Lichtenstein’s Still Lifes, Mr. Brainwash: Icons, Shepard Fairey: May Day and the Great Outdoors are the Woodward Gallery.

New Banksy in Central Square

Originally uploaded by Lukwam

Banksy’s in Boston!

Originally uploaded by Lukwam

25 Essex Street.

We drove down to Hartford yesterday to join family and friends of Gregory’s in remembering and celebrating his life. I’m so glad that we went! It felt really good to be there in that house with all these people who loved him.

Chris, Gabe and Patty were there. We showed up too late to see Becky.

I got the opportunity to tell Greg’s mother Eleanor all about how I came to knew Greg and what he meant to me and to others who knew him. A couple of months before he died, at the California Pizza Kitchen, Greg and I discussed a position at the Broad that I was hoping he would take. Eleanor told me how excited he was to start working again and how he thought this job would be the perfect thing for him. It made me so happy to know that in his final months, Greg was jazzed about the idea of us working closely together and getting to rekindle our friendship. I think we would have had a blast!

On the drive back we passed a bus that was completely engulfed in flames. The police and fire trucks arrived just as we were driving past the bus. It didn’t look like anyone was hurt. Bailey made a little video with my phone.

We’re heading back down to Hartford this afternoon for the memorial service.

A dear friend of mine, Gregory Blake, a.k.a. Snooze, died yesterday at the age of 37. He endured a long battle with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (see also: 1, 2), which left him weak and uncomfortable just about all of the time.

On April 14th, 2005, after years of waiting, Gregory finally got himself a new lung! It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was tough going there for a while. But he was strong. He kept pushing on. A year ago today, this is what he posted in his blog:

Hot Damn – Just now I made it up the stairs from the first to the second floor without using my cane. I never thought I’d be so excited by stairs. The lung is working great still, every bit of exercise makes me feel a bit stronger. My next goal is to be able to walk around the block by the end of the month.

and just six months later:

It’s the little things – Earlier today I paused midstep as I was jogging up the stairs and thought “Holy Fuck, I just jogged up the stairs. Cool!

The following April, right around his one year (re)birthday, Greg posted about how he was going to be going back into the hospital for surgery to fix his acid reflux issues.

I’m actually not that nervous about it. Maybe having surgery as major as a transplant makes one a little jaded.

Then, on May 18th, he went in for the stomach surgery. His system had trouble adjusting after the surgery. They had to put him on an ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxegenation) machine to oxygenate his blood for him. Things were touch and go for a couple of weeks, but he wasn’t able to pull through. He passed away on the afternoon of May 5th. It is a sad, sad day for people who knew him. Greg will be dearly missed.

See also:

A couple of months ago I started to get an influx of comment and trackback spam from our friends at the online casinos, penis enlargement medicine makers and pornography peddlers. So, rather than putting the effort into developing my own custom spam prevention system, I decided to try out WordPress.

I’ve started with a generic WordPress installation and haven’t bothered to integrate any of the features of the previous site immediately. I’m going to play with this a bit and expand as becomes appropriate. Bear with me.

Nine weeks ago, we picked up the most beautiful old stray from a shelter in Rhode Island. We named her Rosie after The Riveter.

Rosie the dog

She was most likely part pit bull terrier and part boxer. We fell in love with her immediately. She was so happy just being around people and hanging out. However, she recently started to feel sick. We took her to the vet last week and they ran some tests but didn’t find much. They put her on some medication but she quickly got worse. On Saturday, we took her to the emergency room and they kept her for the night. After performing a biopsy they found carcinoma. They gave us some options, but none of them were very promising. We went to visit her last night but she had gotten worse. So, today we went back and visited her one last time and then had her put to sleep.

This is really very sad. I mean, it’s only been nine weeks, but we had already gotten so close. I had meant to post about her so many times but I never quite got around to it. I can’t believe this is the first post I am making about her. She was so likable and she had so many hilarious mannerisms. For example, she loved to sleep laying on her back with her legs spread and her tongue sticking out. When you’d ask her if she wanted to go for a walk, she’d tilt her head to the side as if to ask “Seriously!?” and then spring up with all the enthusiasm the old girl could muster. Once you’d get her outside, she’d smell everything! I think smelling things might have been her favorite thing. That and napping. Anyway, she was great and in spite of the fact that she didn’t necessarily get along so well with other dogs or cats, she was the sweetest thing to every human she met. And they all loved her.

Vieve has also written a little something about Rosie on her Dogster page. We will both miss her very much. RIP Rosie.

Four years ago today, in what I imagine was a rather poorly attended ceremony, the street hockey rink across the street from my office was dedicated to one Jimmy Johnson. It is called the Jimmy Johnson Street Hockey Memorial Rink. A large sign on the fence states:

“The Jimmy Johnson street hockey rink, dedicated to the love & spirit of his passion for the game. June 24th, 2000.”

I’ve read this sign hundreds of times and it always seemed a bit weird to me. I don’t know the man personally, but after reading his sign I started thinking about what might have been alternate dedications they came up with before settling on this one:

  • Jimmy Johnson, whose passion for street hockey contained aspects of both love and spirit, is to whom this court is dedicated.
  • Jimmy Johnson was passionate about street hockey, so much so that you could say his passion was loving and spirited, as we have in this dedication.
  • …dedicated to the passion & love of his spirit…
  • Take one large scoop of passion for street hockey and a spoonful each of love and spirit and what do you get? Jimmy Johnson, that’s what.
  • If you look up “passion” in the book of street hockey, then you find the subheading “love & spirit”, there you will see a picture of Jimmy Johnson.
  • To say that Jimmy Johnson was passionate about street hockey doesn’t quite get the full message across, unless you also mention the love & spirit of said passion, of which there was an amount worthy of this rink dedication.
  • …dedicated to the spirit & passion of his love…
  • If loving, spirited passion for street hockey is what you want, look no further than Jimmy Johnson. If straight-up passion is your thing, look elsewhere.

I happen to be an avid puzzle collector. I enjoy many different kinds of puzzles — jigsaws, crosswords, cryptic crosswords, logic puzzles, riddles and pretty much any other kind you can think of. However, I have always had a particular affinity for mechanical puzzles, my favorite being the disentaglement puzzle.

The basic idea of these “detachy” puzzles is that you have to figure out how to take them apart. When you’ve finished with that, you have to figure out how to put them back together. It can be surprisingly difficult to compete the second task even once you’ve already completed the first. The real key is figuring out how the puzzle “works.” That means knowing how the different pieces interact with one another and “why” they come apart. After some 20+ years of doing these things, I have gotten my approach down to science.

What makes up the most significant portion of my collection are Tavern Puzzles, forged metal puzzles handcrafted by a Long Island blacksmith named Dennis Sucilsky. I have nearly a dozen of them, handsomely displayed on a large steel carousel in my office at home. Most of them involve removing a ring or shuttle from the rest of the puzzle. They all seem most impossible at first, but can all be overcome eventually and without having to use any force.

Just about every year, they release a new puzzle of some sort. This year, the offering is called Odd Ball.

odd ball

I think it’s a pretty neat-looking puzzle. The goal is to remove the ring. Though I found it entertaining for about half an hour, once I solved it I realized that I also found it rather disappointing. Not that it wasn’t a sufficient challenge for a difficult puzzle. I’ve solved some of them in under five minutes. What failed to satisfy me was the fact that it is the exact same puzzle as Tinkers Bell.

tinkers bell

By “the same” I mean to say that they have the same functional parts. The directions to remove them are basically the same. Perhaps it’s a bit more obvious if I change Odd Ball’s orientation:

odd ball rotated

For all intents and purposes, these two puzzles are the same and Tinkers Bell is only an intermediate puzzle. I hope that instead of regurgitating old ideas, their next design will be as innovative as the annoyingly named Freedom’s Ring. “Innovative” because I haven’t actually been able to solve it yet, in spite of how similar it looks to the other two. Or, if I did solve it then I may have broken the “no force” rule. Either way, I haven’t been able to reproduce it so it doesn’t count. I feel like I’m getting my $16 worth on that one.

Tucker-Jones House, Inc should keep on their toes. Uncles Puzzles has a similar yet unique line of puzzles to choose from. That’s what we puzzle geeks want!







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