Thoughtful Acts, With An Appropriately Snarky Attitude

Sunday March 15, 16.29.56

Neighborly offerings. Fruit fresh from the tree is often found out and about in Los Angeles.

Some observations of peculiar social practices found from last Saturday’s head-clearing perambulation. There was this, first as I approached from this tree from the eastward.
People lucky enough to have fruit trees often have more than they and the resident squirrels can consume themselves. Offering some up to passersby is indeed a thoughtful act. Often, the fruit looks like fruit properly should; not the curated spheres you find in the supermarket. The wonderful Fallen Fruit Collective does their urban incursions based on a proliferation of fruit trees that overhang the public/private property borders around various cities. I understand they got their start here in Los Angeles — Silverlake is what I’m told.

Sunday March 15, 16.29.21

Bags for those forgetful dog walkers, and pointed advice in the form of a veiled threat to the more reluctant who engage in the converse Thoughtless Act of not picking up their dog’s poo.

On the verso of the same tree, a thoughtful offering of a different sort — advice and some supplies related to picking up after your dog does its business. My front yard has been bombed. A family remedy: liberal application of powdered red chili pepper in the grass. The challenge is in re-applying after the dew and sprinklers have dissolved the previous applique. It appears to work mostly through learned behavior. Dogs habitually deposit in the same spot, sniffing for the previous target. When they get a stinging whiff the first time, they remember to just avoid that locale and move along.
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Thoughtful Acts

This came up in the studio..errr…I think it was a studio BBQ. Mr Newman pondered – what about thoughtful acts?

A sign of a restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, painted backwards so motorists’ passing along on the parallel street would see it in their rear view mirror.

Thursday February 12, 15:21:20

A lost scarf thoughtfully tied to secure it from blowing away in the wind, and up high enough in a tree so that it could be seen from a distance. Toledo, Spain

The inside-the-design-world joke was a curtsey toward Jane Fulton Suri’s Thoughtful Acts, a fun little compendium of mostly observations-as-images meant to reflect upon the “thoughtless acts” people do — “those intuitive ways we adapt, exploit, and react to things in our environment; things we do without really thinking.”

Thoughtless Act? Or Thoughtful Improvisation? Taxi driver arranges his bluetooth ear piece and his phone within reach in San Francisco, California

Thursday February 12, 08:38:49

A smart vest, lost late into the boozy night before, more than likely. Picked up and hung on a sort of street baluster to be found, hopefully, by its rightful owner in Madrid, Spain

Thoughtless acts happen as a matter of course, unconscious in some instances, or done without deep consideration. It might be tying the string to a tea bag around the handle of your mug to keep the string and tag from falling into the hot water. Or turning the claw of a hammer into an improvised door jamb. That sort of thing.

For the fun of it, and to think through curious observations — what might a thoughtful act be? One that does favor to other people? That shows the heart and humanity of a social microcosm? I dunno. Perhaps something that shows deliberation and ingenuity with a raw sense of simplicity and just-get-it-done-edness.

Why do I blog this? Observations turned to conclusions and insights. How do you make sense of anonymous acts of generosity and consideration? Or simple indicators that suggest that design is always a conversation with things getting redone with purpose.

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Practice Observed: Secure Improvisations


Improvisation enacted to overcome a secured door that is probably the most often used in the studio, sitting near to the kitchen and coffee machines (and the sadly defunct espresso machine..) A stapler used to keep a door open helps one poor sould evades the secure RFID lock. Likely, their secure card was left on their desk or some such and the stapler provides them a momentary work-around to returning to their desk, retrieving the card and then getting back to the necessary business of fueling up on the morning caffeine.

Why do I blog this? Observing small but actions, especially around improvisation. I am curious about the way objects become practice-based activations and serve as beacons and indications of evolving materials and materialized social practices. All this and the entanglements within the many layers (morning rituals, security, barriers, identification, access, RFID, office supplies, etc.) and the entanglements amongst humans and non-human hybrids.

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Flat Tires and Thoughtless Acts

Do flat tires make the unlocked bicycle in the top photo less likely to be stolen? Does the fact that the owner of the bicycle in the bottom photo locked their bike make it more likely to be stripped nearly bare for its handlebars, rear tire and transmission, seat, brake cables, brake clampy-things-that-clamp-the-front-rims-to-stop-the-bike? And then, having created a rough-shod atmosphere of general decline and environment of come-what-may, does the bicycle locking post become more suited as an improvised, “thoughtless acts” style trash recepticle, seeing as it has not fulfilled its job of deterring theft and mitigating destruction?

Just asking.
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Thoughtless Acts — Improvised Holsters

Shuttling around San Francisco in a cab, I found this intriguing set of improvised holders for a mobile phone and a bluetooth headset. California just began enforcing a law requiring that drivers use a hands-free device when they take a call while in the car. Anecdotally, we’ve seen many people continue to hold the handset to their ear while driving, and the debates continue in cocktail party conversations about whether this law makes sense. Which is more important, the physical interface between one’s driving hands and the steering wheel? Or the interface between your brain and the oftentimes cerebrally taxing levels of concentration required to watch out for, or anticipate, janky manuevers and surprises introduced by drivers/bikers/bicyclists/pedestrians/pets/bouncing balls?
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