Scrap Exchange Update

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Editor’s Note

This doesn’t actually have anything to do with this blog, except for the Support The Scrap Exchange logo in the sidebar, but it’s what I’ve been doing, so I’ll give the update. For those who are not from this area and/or have not heard me talk about The Scrap Exchange, I’ll say that The Scrap Exchange is a nonprofit creative reuse center that collects unwanted materials and makes them available at low cost to the community for reuse. I’m on the board and spend a lot of time there.


The last two weeks have been too crazy to even try to describe, but I think we’re through the worst of it. We moved, then moved, then moved again, finally settling most of the massive volume of stuff that was in our store at 923 Franklin St, which is a huge building behind Golden Belt, where we hope to be for many, many years.

We’ll be open for business beginning Saturday, June 4, regular store hours (Sat 10 to 5, Sun 12 to 5, MTWF 11 to 5, Thu 11 to 6). Also on Saturday there is a benefit concert at the Casbah (next to Brightleaf) with a bunch of bands and other fun stuff going on.

We love our new space, and we have a lot more room to work with than we did at Liberty Warehouse, but our rent just tripled, and we’re taking a huge hit with disruption from all the moving, so we need to hustle.

We finished getting things out of 539 Foster today and then I ate and took a nap and when I woke up I was thinking about one of my favorite stories from the Arabian Nights.

The story is called “Ali the Persian” and it’s just a little throwaway piece that isn’t typically found in the published abridged versions of the book, you generally have to look for it in the large multi-volume sets.

It’s about a man who left Baghdad on a trip with his possessions in a small leather bag. He stopped in a nearby city and while he was in the market, the bag was stolen by a “rascally Kurd” who claimed that the bag was his. They agree to take the case to a judge (Kazi) and abide by the judgment.

So the judge asks whose bag it is and the Kurd says that it’s his

Verily, this bag is my bag and all that is in it is my swag. It was lost from me and I found it with this man mine enemy.

The judge says okay, if it’s your bag, tell me what’s in it.

The Kurd says

There were in my bag two silver styles for eye-powder and antimony for the eyes and a kerchief for the hands, wherein I had laid two gilt cups and two candlesticks. Moreover it contained two tents and two platters and two spoons and a cushion and two leather rugs and two ewers and a brass tray and two basins and a cooking-pot and two water-jars and a ladle and a sacking-needle and a she-cat and two bitches and a wooden trencher and two sacks and two saddles and a gown and two fur pelisses and a cow and two calves and a she-goat and two sheep and an ewe and two lambs and two green pavilions and a camel and two she-camels and a lioness and two lions and a she-bear and two jackals and a mattrass and two sofas and an upper chamber and two saloons and a portico and two sitting-rooms and a kitchen with two doors and a company of Kurds who will bear witness that the bag is my bag.

Then the judge asks Ali the Persian, the original owner, to tell him what was in it.

Verily there was naught in this my wallet, save a little ruined tenement and another without a door and a dog-house and a boys’ school and youths playing dice and tents and tent-ropes and the cities of Bassorah and Baghdad and the palace of Shaddad bin Ad and an ironsmith’s forge and a fishing-net and cudgels and pickets and girls and boys and a thousand pimps who will testify that the bag is my bag.

The Kurd hears Ali the Persian’s words and weeps and wails.

O my lord the Kazi, this my bag is known and what is in it is a matter of renown; for in this bag there be castles and citadels and cranes and beasts of prey and men playing chess and draughts. Furthermore, in this my bag is a brood-mare and two colts and a stallion and two blood-steeds and two long lances; and it containeth eke a lion and two hares and a city and two villages and a whore and two sharking panders and an hermaphrodite and two gallows-birds and a blind man and two wights with good sight and a limping cripple and two lameters and a Christian ecclesiastic and two deacons and a patriarch and two monks and a Kazi and two assessors, who will be evidence that the bag is my bag.

So the judge asks Ali to reply

Being filled with rage, I came forward and said, “Allah keep our lord the Kazi! I had in this my wallet a coat of mail and a broadsword and armouries and a thousand fighting arms and a sheep-fold with its pasturage and a thousand barking dogs and gardens and vines and flowers and sweet smelling herbs and figs and apples and statues and pictures and flagons and goblets and fair-faced slave-girls and singing-women and marriage-feasts and tumult and clamour and great tracts of land and brothers of success, which were robbers, and a company of daybreak-raiders with swords and spears and bows and arrows and true friends and dear ones and intimates and comrades and men imprisoned for punishment and cup-companions and a drum and flutes and flags and banners and boys and girls and brides (in all their wedding bravery), and singing girls and five Abyssinian women and three Hindi maidens and four damsels of Al-Medinah and s score of Greek girls and eighty Kurdish dames and seventy Georgian ladies and Tigris and Euphrates and a fowling net and a flint and steel and many-columned Iram and a thousand rogues and pimps and horse-courses and stables and mosques and baths and a builder and a carpenter and a plank and a nail and a black slave with his flageolet and a captain and a caravan-leader and towns and cities and an hundred thousand dinars and Cufa and Anbar and twenty chests full of stuffs and twenty store-houses for victual and Gaza and Askalon and from Damietta to Al-Sawan; and the palace of Kisra Anushirwan and the kingdom of Solomon and from Wadi Nu’uman to the land of Khorasan and Balkh and Ispahan and from India to the Sudan. Therein also (may Allah prolong the life of our lord the Kazi!) are doublets and cloths and a thousand sharp razors to shave off the Kazi’s beard, except he fear my resentment and adjudge the bag to be my bag.

The judge was completely baffled by all of this and told them that they were both a couple of jokers.

I see ye twain be none other than pestilent fellows, atheistical villains who make sport of Kazis and magistrates and stand not in fear of reproach. Never did tongue tell nor ear hear aught more extraordinary than that which we pretend. By Allah, from China to Shajarat Umm Ghaylan, nor from Fars to Sudan nor from Waki Nu’uman to Korasan, was ever heard the like of what ye avouch or credited the like of what ye affirm. Say fellows, be this bag a bottomless sea or the Day of Resurrection that shall gather together the just and unjust?

Then he had them open the bag: “…so I opened it and behold, there was in it bread and a lemon and cheese and olives.”

I’m not sure why I like this story so much, but I think it’s really funny. And the description of what Ali the Persian and the Kurd claimed to be in the bag is what it feels like we moved over the past two weeks. Though maybe without the she-goats and the singing girls. But the little ruined tenement and another without a door were definitely in there.

Still here…

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I just remembered that I had this thing called a blog where I was supposed to write stuff.

It’s been a crazy ten days.

Here’s link to a video that talks about Day 4.

Days 5 through 10 were just as exciting. On Thursday (Day 6), Greenfire told us we had to be out of our 8000 sq ft retail space that we’d been in for ten years by Monday. Have you ever had to move in two days without having packed anything? I don’t recommend it. Especially if you are an organization that collects materials for a living.

But we did it, thanks to a lot, a lot, a lot of help. I think we had more than 200 people show up to help us get everything out. It was pretty amazing.

There will probably be a new video soon, but it’s moving too fast to keep up with.

Hope all is well with everyone out there.

Not Pioneer Woman

Monday, May 9, 2011

One of the articles I read about blogging before I started blogging talked about things to avoid and said don’t apologize for not blogging. So I’m not going to apologize for not blogging, and I remain hopeful that I can get back in a groove.

I was reading the New Yorker yesterday and there was an article about Pioneer Woman and her media empire. I had heard of Pioneer Woman, though I actually thought it was something different — I thought it was an actual person who lived a life without a lot of modern conveniences. Like that PBS series.

That is not what it is.

I almost got sucked into looking at it last night but managed to escape and start working on what I was supposed to be working on, but I did look at it today and checked out the cooking section and the main thing I have to say is holy cow that’s a lot of pictures for one recipe. Wow.

Also, um, it seems kind of tedious.

And repetitive.

And not that interesting.

With lots of things that are on a line by themselves.

People like this?

I also looked at Pioneer Woman Sux, which was referenced in the New Yorker article and that’s much more to my taste. I love that the “About” paragraph has a picture of Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman, not the author of Pioneer Woman Sux) and says “Oh, and sometimes I like to post drunk.” I also love that there is a post called “Well slap my ass and call me Judy.” Though those both may be part of the parody and I just haven’t read Pioneer Woman enough to get it.

The Marlboro Woman is pretty rockin too, as is Pie Near Woman.

So basically I’ll just skip the real thing and go straight to the parodies.

But when I read the New Yorker article yesterday, I felt a small pang of missed opportunity. Every time I read about people making a million dollars from their blog I feel like I totally blew my chance at fame and fortune and blogging stardom by not cashing in on my People magazine/Good Morning America/Rachael Ray/Inside Edition whirlwind. Never mind that blogging fame and fortune involves (a) selling advertising, which goes against my values (b) partnering with large corporations to sell things while pretending you’re not, which should go against everyone’s values but apparently does not, and (c) extensively chronicling your day-to-day personal life, which I not only find disconcerting and generally creepy but would also require me to make things up, as my day-to-day life is not nearly interesting enough to sustain any kind of ongoing narrative. (Today I tried to figure out how to run a payroll in Quickbooks! And the taxes didn’t calculate the way they were supposed to! So I called tech support and was on the phone for two hours!

All the Photoshop in the world couldn’t turn that into something anyone wanted to look at.)

It also apparently requires photogenic children, a husband who is a millionaire, having no problem posting recipes you got from somewhere else that you claim to have made up yourself and then selling a cookbook of without referencing the original source, and an army of public relations professionals to maintain your site and manage your book deals and tv shows.

I guess blogging fame and fortune is just going to have to wait.

At least until I finish getting the Quickbooks payroll set up.

But in an effort to make it up to you, I’ll give you a recipe that is not related to anything in this post, and that I did not make up myself.

This recipe is from my favorite Marion Cunningham cookbook The Supper Book. They’re a little bit like brownies, especially if you undercook them. Sadly I do not have even one picture of them, much less step-by-step documentation, because I was making them to eat, not for the blog.

I’m a long, long way from Pioneer Woman.

Thank god.

In the words of Marion Cunningham, “These little chocolate domes, crackled on top, are crisp outside and slightly chewy inside. These are nice, rich cookies after a supper salad.”

They’re really good, and they are in fact quite photogenic, so if I make them again, I’ll try to remember to get some pix.

Black and White Chocolate Cookies

3 ounces (3 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Put the chocolate in a pan over barely simmering water until it has melted. Remove from the heat.

Put the sugar, butter, chocolate, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and stir to blend. Add the eggs and mix briskly until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Don’t grease the cookie sheets.

Sift the confectioners’ sugar onto a large piece of waxed paper. Shape the cookie dough into rounded teaspoon-size balls and roll them in the confectioners’ sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the top of the cookies feels almost firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the cookie sheets. Cool on racks.