Discover more from Culture & curiosity
#79 Vending machines
It used to be that a few times a year, I’d be invited to a vending machine conference. The reason is I once gave a talk at the Smithsonian about vending machines. In some way, the algorithms portrayed me as an expert to conference organizers in China. All expenses paid five-star hotel, fantastic chance to meet other industry buffs. In a parallel universe, I accepted at least one and went all George Clooney on the conference dance floor.
COVID is hurting the vending machine industry, and the invitations have dried up.
The invites reminded me there’s a world out there. There are many worlds out there. In one of them, you and I have met at a vending machine conference, and we stayed in touch because I was struck by how you gamed your machines to give out random perks.
(We did this in university, a disaster, people that spend their last euro on a coke don’t want a t-shirt, they want that drink. I would have told you after your talk. Then you’d have said that, duh, that’s why you give them the perk and a coin so they can buy another drink. You’d have doubted my vending machine credentials.)
Of course, these worlds are now much closer — a mere YouTube search away. Instead of having to go to a conference hotel in a second or third-tier city and find the right meeting room for the panels and exhibition and party (and don’t end up in the parallel conference on applied cryptopolyglotics), tap tap tap, and you’re in a private tour with the world’s leading influencer.
That way, I finally learned to understand NFTs and why they’ve always felt wrong to me. I’ve learned a ton about defunct amusement parks. And because I’m human, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in luxury yachts.
I’m sixteen years on Twitter, I’ve never gone viral. Yet this week, I had a good tweet, thanks to Anna, who had been kind enough to share an amazing job opportunity. In another world, I’d have kept this for me 😊
I finished reading Richards Powers’s The Overstory this week. Fiction, but non-fictional enough for my tastes. As I have no frame of reference for fiction other than a few classics, I cannot judge the book, but I enjoyed it. It brings together a range of stories of people whose lives have been influenced by their relationship to trees. It builds on (and possibly interprets) what we learned about trees over the past decades. They are social, conscious beings that humans have a hard time understanding.
The book is also about activism and responsibility. My favorite part, which could have been a novel in itself, or a long short story, is when two people end up on top of a hundreds of feet tall sequoia to protect it from harvesting. Their intended few-days stay turns into almost a year when their replacements cannot get to them. A wonderful setting for what I think is called character development, although Powers seems to have judged that differently.
I wouldn’t mind living in nature, incredible nature, more and longer. Unfortunately, the oaks and alder in my garden need a few more human lifetimes before they can support me, but I found an alternative.
My favorite store had a new range of perfumes on display. Lingua Planta is a range of botanical perfumes inspired by the intelligence of plants.
“Founder Merle Bergers experienced the the inter-connectedness of plants and trees, insects and bigger animals firsthand by growing up in a small forest in the east of the Netherlands. During her studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven she grew more and more fascinated by the possible reality of plant communication.”
With names like attract, repel, and defend, the scents’ messages are pretty obvious. J and I especially liked Henosis, which smelled like a forest fire or an excellent peaty-smokey whisky. I missed the smell of rain in summer or the scent of well-being after a forest walk. I’m sure they’ll be around soon, and until that time, I’m just going to have to get them in a real forest.
If you’ve stuck with me all the way here, may I thank you with a fantastic website I discovered while the world was watching planes descend on Heathrow? Somehow, they’ve mapped global winds (and more) in a slick animation, definitely worth an hour of your time.
I’ll leave you to it; thanks for reading this week. My weekly audience is still growing, which I appreciate a lot. Thanks! Have a wonderful day,