Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Cost of Luxury: Intro

We decided to do something different this year for Christmas.  This year, we decided to put the Christmas tree downstairs in the rec room, rather than rearrange the living room.

This meant finally rearranging the rec room, which is something I'd been putting off for months.  Keeping the post-holiday season in mind, we moved Astrid's play area to the south end of the room, creating a more open space for her with room to run around, while building a cozy space at the north end for reading and relaxing.

I had to unload my bookshelf, full of old issues of Dwell, Azure, Wallpaper*, and Metropolis, in order to move it.  Once everything had been moved to its intended spot, I sat back in my inexpensive Ikea rocking chair with a cup of hot chocolate, and cracked open an old issue of Wallpaper*.  Suddenly, an idea formed and was posted to Facebook:

Thinking about it further, I thought it would go well with the Cost of Luxury series I'm writing, and would add another dimension by showing depreciation, and possibly waste... two of my pet peeves.

Looks like I have more research ahead of me!

On another note, in the spirit of the holiday season, we here at State of Grace would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and all the best in the coming year.

Join us towards the end of the week for a look ahead at Dove Grace Design in 2018.

-Shaun, Jillian, Astrid, and Czarina

Friday, December 15, 2017

History Deletes Itself!

You may have noticed a change or two 'round these parts, specifically in the list of articles on this blog.

Notice yet?  Look a tad smaller..?

That's because I deleted all the old articles I'd brought over from my other blog, Conceit and Sociopathy, when I closed it a while back.  Rather than lose all my old work (such as it was), I moved it here as this blog was my focus.

Now that our home life has settled down, I'm finding more time for projects and writing again.  I've missed it, I really have.  I actually feel like writing and designing again, as opposed to going through the motions, and have enough material to sustain both blogs for a while.

My writing, creative works, and design-related stuff will be posted here.  My personal stuff will be found at C&S.

Currently, I'm working on a series of posts (on the other blog) about life experience and turning 45.  That will remain my focus for the next few weeks, but in my off-time, I'm working on a piece on luxury goods and high-end design from the middle-class perspective.  I hope to have that done by the end of the year, assuming I can keep my nose out of this month's Wallpaper, Azure, Dwell, and Metropolis...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Designs on Design

Its official, I've resurrected my Dove Grace Design project.

It's languished for several years now, put on hold because of marriage, parenthood, work, home renos, moving, more renos, etc.  However, now that Jill, Astrid, and I are all settled in (and subsequently getting back to my old self), I can concentrate on my interests again.

Dove Grace was an alias/persona I developed in the early 2000s to counter Conceited Jerk, my main online persona (still in use here and rarely here).  Where Conceited Jerk was angry, cynical, and drunk, Dove was positive, polite, graceful, and a happy drunk.  CJ wanted Winnipeg to change, to modernize, to improve, but Dove loved Winnipeg how it was.

Toward the end of the last decade, after a number of lifestyle changes and with a different outlook on life, I decided I needed to focus on different things.  Having embraced the DIY/Repurposement ethic and Right to Repair movement, I thought I'd try my hand at design.  A few drawings in ImageFX on my Amiga later, Dove Grace Design was born.

A domain was purchased, the website built, and a couple of projects made it past the "scribbles on a napkin" stage and into a QCAD drawing.

Then... things happened (both good and otherwise) and everything was put on hold.  No prototypes were built.  No work was done.  The domain expired, and I didn't bother to renew it.

Now that everything is back to normal, I'm getting back into it.  Part (most) of my lab is now studio space, I have the best open source tools in my digital workspace, and my first project is to design the most vital tool I'll need: a wet bar!

All my projects will be housed here for the time being.

Now, let's get to work...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Theory and praxis, theory and praxis...

I was recently reminded that when you need advice, there is no substitute for experience.

We've enjoyed warmer than normal temperatures in Winnipeg this past week, which reminded me that spring is (theoretically) only a few weeks away, which reminded me of the unrealistic plans I have for my backyard, which reminded me that I had no plans, only not-so-well-thought-out ideas.  Which is typical for me.  I kinda make it up as I go.

With dreams of sunny patios, flowers, and Hell-spawned mosquitos, I mentally put pen-to-paper and started drawing up a plan.  Having now a vague idea of what I wanted to do, I mentioned the ideas to Jill, who humored me.  Steps one and two done, step three: research!

Astrid was busy drawing Teletubbies on my tablet (I hope the crayon washes off), so I dug out my laptop and DDGed my topic.  My search brought up pages upon pages of Pinterest links, so to the world's virtual corkboard I went.

I spent a little over an hour going through the various pins related to my search and, while I came away with a few good ideas, I was left with no sense of how to implement them.  Either there's an expectation that I know what I'm doing, or people are fond of pinning things that look pretty without context.  Likely both...

Realizing I was left to my own devices, I went back to my search engine of choice and, after weeding out the Pinterest links and promoted ads, gleaned a little relevant information  (did you know it was Obama's fault that my potted plants died?  I didn't know his reach extended into Canada!).

I spent a little time on related internet forums and, judging from the posts, I'd say they were first cousins (rimshot).  Having gleaned little more information, I figured if I was going to have to deal with trolls, the unmedicated, and undiagnosed, I may as well go to their birthplace.

I went to the Usenet.  Ever experience the Usenet?  It's the uncentralized, international, unmoderated, unhinged grandfather of the Comments Section.  Think about that for a bit.

The Usenet was my last resort.  It was my last line of defense against getting off the couch and (horror!) actually talking to people in the physical realm.  If I'm going there for advice, I must be desperate!

Seriously though, apart from the lunatics, the only people still on the Usenet are us diehards.  So, I tried my luck and checked out a certain newsgroup in the rec. hierarchy.  To my delight, it was an active group with little spam, so I posted a couple of questions.  Within a couple of hours, I had my answer.  I'm currently having a pleasant exchange with a fellow diehard, who has offered a lot of practical advice.  Most of which I'll use!

Lucky break?  You bet.  The Usenet is mostly crap these days, but it's nice to know it can still be useful.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Following Preview has been rated "G" for Generic Crap

With Autumn rapidly approaching and the weather soon to turn colder, I'm turning my attention back to blogging.  After all, I'm at my most creative in the fall!

I've also dusted off the liquor cabinet, and am hoping to start my dipsomaniacal experimentation again.  A good drink helps me to think!

With that in mind, I've posted the first two entries of a thirteen part series over at Conceit  and Sociopathy.  Called Ten Famous People: A Bucket List, it's a top ten list of famous people with whom I'd like to drink, with four (now five) Honourable Mentions.  It'll run daily until Tuesday, September 27th, when I post the epilogue.  Check it out if you're remotely curious about my choice in drinking partners.

As for State of Grace, I have two spiritual sequels to Unauthorized Butter in the works.  While not dealing with the so-called Internet of Things this time, both stories will be equally dystopian in tone and presented in that same Did This Really Happen? style I seem to have developed.

Lastly, there may be a return to urbanism and design on this blog!  I'm not really committed to any sort of urbanist content... but there's enough going on in Winnipeg right now that a little commentary from a cynical-but-respectful malcontent might help balance things out.

As for design... I have a couple of home improvement projects that have moved from the Scribbles on looseleaf stage to the Shit, I could really do this! stage, and are now in the Fired up QCAD and laid out a plan stage.  Watch for more details after Spring Thaw.

Anyway, I have work to do...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cycle of Insecurity

Don't I feel like a jerk...

I did something today that I don't normally do.  I gave in to an outdated social bias and really lost out.

After a hectic, trying morning at work, I hit up the two closest thrift shops during my lunch break.  The first one yielded a beautiful vintage Underwood typewriter, fully functional and in excellent shape... unfortunately, there was no price tag, and none of the nearby staff could give me an idea of what it cost.  Rather than wait around for the one person who could help me, I left the typewriter there and headed for the next shop.

The second shop yielded a couple of possibilities, a Videophone of recent vintage, and a portable AM/FM radio which could also tune Weatheradio and CB stations, too.

I passed up the Videophone when, upon looking it up on Google, found it didn't have VOIP capabilities.  I passed up the radio when I noticed the battery compartment was badly corroded, and I didn't want another repair project.

I was getting ready to leave when a large, elderly lady walked in front of me, forcing me to take a detour down the Aisle of Discarded Consumer Goods.  Sandwiched between a decrepit microwave cart and several tattered suitcases, I spotted a bicycle tire.

It looked to be a 27" wheel, which is the same size as my road bike, so I figured I'd give it a look.  Moving aside decades-old Samsonites and well-travelled canvas carry-on bags, I was pleasantly surprised to find the bike wheel was attached to an old road bike!

There were no badges on the bike, and any decals it may once have sported had long since worn off.  It was in decent shape for its age (mid-70s-ish), but could have used a new freewheel and chainset.  New cables would help, too... all of which could be had inexpensively.  The bike was about my size, too!

Expecting an exorbitant price tag, I was floored when I saw the price: $9.99!  I grabbed the bike and started wheeling it to the checkout.  I'd barely freed the bike when my heart sank...

It was a women's bike.

I hurriedly put it back where I found it and left.

As I drove off, I started making all sorts of excuses as to why I didn't buy it.  Too much work, could've bought it for the missus but Jillian's not interested in cycling, I already have three bikes, no room in the SUV...

It's still bothering me.  I mean, is it really that weird for a guy to ride a women's bike?  Were women's bikes really women's bikes?!  In a world where we accept pretty much everything for fear of being branded an intolerant bigot, would anyone even say anything?

Isn't a bike just a bike?  Wasn't I being a little insecure?

As it turns out, yes.  And I feel foolish.

Unfortunately, by the time I returned to the store, someone else bought the bike.  It's really too bad, it looked like it would have been a decent ride and, as a few guys mentioned in the forum post I linked above, I wouldn't have to worry about damaging my "junk"... which is fine by me.

(note that I'm not a participant in that particular thread.  I go by the name Vaclav on bikeforums)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fuel the Furnace, Fuel My Fire (Part One)

Astrid woke up early this morning, and while she watched Teletubbies, I got caught up on my social media feeds.

Once I filtered out all the crap pertaining to the US Presidential candidates (which constituted 99% of my feeds), I was left with few items of interest.

This led (againnnn...) to thoughts of rounding up all the pundits and rabble-rousers, and putting them in a pit to battle to the death for my amusement.  A nice thought, to be sure...

I daydreamed happily about this for a few minutes, until Astrid snapped me out of it.  Her show had ended, so she brought me the remote.  After hitting "repeat" so she could watch the Teletubbies' Christening Episode (!) for the umpteenth time, I went back to my social media feeds.

I follow a number of cycling, sport, and mens' health related accounts on social media.  Every so often, one will post an article with recipes for one's post-ride or post-workout replenishment.

Lately, there seems (my observation) to be a trend toward quick 'n easy recipes that can be thrown together in mere minutes.  While some of these recipes sound good, I'm a bit bothered by a trend within this trend: that there's no presence of forethought.

After a four-hour ride on a trail that kicked your ass, the last thing you want is to spend an hour in the kitchen preparing a meal over a hot stove.  Here's a quick recipe that can be thrown together in a few minutes, in a single pot, using things growing in your backyard that even the rabbits won't touch...

While a bit of an exaggeration, it seemed that each recipe was prefaced by some form of the preceeding paragraph.  This bothered me on a couple of levels.  I mean, sure, after a four-hour ride that kicked my ass (or, as I discovered later, damaged groin muscles), the last thing I'd want would be to slave over a hot stove.

You know you're going on a ride beforehand.  You know you're going to be beat when you get home.  You know you're not going to want to cook, and if you're trying to maintain a healthy body and live a healthy lifestyle, you're not going to want to resort to nuking a couple of Pizza Pops.

No, you plan ahead.

If you can spend time planning a ride, run, etc, you can prepare a meal ahead of time.  If you can spend an hour getting your equipment ready, checking your bike, etc, you can chop a couple of tomatoes or onions.

Seriously, prepare a meal beforehand and heat it up when you get home.  If you want it to be fresh, prepare the ingredients beforehand and cook it when you get home.  If you want it to be ready to eat when you return, buy a fucking slow cooker and let it cook while you're out having fun & getting your ass kicked.

It's not hard.

To be continued.