brucine (broo'-seen), 1) n. Pharm., Chem. a bitter, poisonous alkaloid, C23H26N2O4, obtained from the nux vomica tree; 2) n. Bruce Bortin's 'low-impact' weblog

Sunday, January 31, 2010


BARTface1, originally uploaded by dumbeast.


Haunches, originally uploaded by dumbeast.


Thin Blue Line

Thin Blue Line, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Wrought-iron fence at night

Shiny Bldg

Shiny Bldg, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Xmas Heap

Xmas Heap, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Hill Castle Apart Hot

Hill Castle Apart Hot, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Ideal Cleaners

Ideal Cleaners, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

One Day

One Day, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

deal leaners

deal leaners, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Night in Oakland

Night in Oakland, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Night in Oakland

Night in Oakland, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Night in Oakland

Night in Oakland, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Photosketch1, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Something like this. More sketches here.

Great Ad Placement!

Great Ad Placement!, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

I'm not sure I'd want my Public Service Ad to be placed here. Directly beneath the anus. Thanks a pantload, Google!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Partially Gelled Chicken Stock

After cooling overnight, the fat has set on the surface, and the stock underneath it has gelled a little bit. When you torque the bowl, the liquid flows for a bit, slows, stops and reverses semi-elastically. I like that motion.

Music is excerpted from "A Rainbow in Curved Air" by Terry Riley. With a couple chickens added.

Training with Remote Feed

On Wednesday, I experienced my first formal telepresence situation, at a hearing at SF MORDOR. A silver domed triangular plastic speakerphone apparatus sat on a table with a black microphone bent over it . At the other end of this connection was a vocational expert who contributed nothing to the hearing beyond her identity, followed by her mute spectral presence.

Later that afternoon, I attended a training at a high powered law firm with a full-on two-way video link to a branch office somewhere in the Southbay.

I don't believe that the mediated, telecomm aspect of either event was the major factor making it so excruciatingly soul-quenching.

Heavy Weather

Heavy Weather, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Distortion Window

One of the windows on a big dumb office building near where I work is wonky, and reflects that. Here's five different shots of it from slightly different positions on the ground.

Draft Dodger

Draft Dodger, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

ca. 1971

My sister asked me to set down the story of my experience with the draft during the late 60's & early 70's...

Vietnam: I started looking into conscientious objector status probably around my freshman year in HHS (67-68). It seemed simple enough. Just convince the local draft board (Port Washington in this case) that you're opposed to war & killing in any form, and that it's a deeply held (not necessarily religious, but if you were a Quaker, it wouldn't hurt) conviction that's non-circumstantial.
"But suppose that there's a Vietcong and he's about to kill your mother! You'd kill him, right?"
"What about a Jap, then?"
"Still nope"
"Useless hippie scum. Okay, you're I-O."
I-O was the Selective Service System's classification for conscientious objectors:
"Conscientious objector to all military service. A registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces is based upon moral, ethical or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war."
It corresponds to I-A for the kids who had to go, IV-F for medical deferments, or II-S, the deferment for students which was getting discontinued right around my 18th birthday.

The application process involved turning in a form, and then an essay. I quoted Thoreau, Martin Luther King & Ghandi as influences. There were also letters of support from civic leaders. Mr Scott from Homestead wouldn't write me one. I think Mr Randall & Mr Chesney did.

Rabbi Brickman wrote me a nice one, but in talking to him about the Six Day War, I did my final break with Judaism.

What about that thou shalt not kill business, huh, Rabbi?

Well, if you understood Hebrew, Bruce, you'd realize that what the Lord told Moses wasn't "Thou shalt not kill", it was more like "thou shalt not kill unnecessarily." What would you do if an Arab was about to kill your mother?

Then you have to appear before the Local Board. I think I remember driving up to PW and letting the geezers on the board look me over. I had to re-iterate what I'd written down for them, and then pass their fiendishly clever word-games. They approved me, I got a bottle of Ripple wine from somewhere, went down to the beach at Virmond Park and celebrated.

On the home front, there had been a few problems. This was hard on Mom & Dad--when I first brought it up, they really felt that it was wrong. If some guys had to go, then everybody should have to go. Mort wondered what it would do to his standing in the community. Eventually, I was able to win them over to my side, and get their support. At a certain point in the process, though, I decided that I'd had it with trying to justify myself to the Armed Services, and maybe I should head to Canada or something. This didn't go over well. One night, Mort burst into my room.

You'd better decide what you're going to do about this, Bruce. Suddenly! All this indecision is killing your mother!
Hard times for mothers.

My draft physical took place my first year at Madison. I took the Badger Bus into Milwaukee, because that's where I was registered. Big building downtown. A cohort of maybe 70 guys being processed that day, standing around in our jockey shorts, except for one black guy who didn't have any underwear and had to hold his hands over his crotch. The draft physical brought some things home to me. I knew I was safe, as I already had the I-O in my pocket. But looking around, I realized that the war was about to get extremely real for the rest of those guys real soon. This was one of my first inklings of the enormous privilege I'd grown up with.

Didn't keep me from acting like an asshole, though. Making jokes about the soldiers running the physical, questioning authority. There was a written exam, asking about drug allergies, childhood diseases, medications, that sort of thing. For medications, I wrote that I occasionally took marijuana & LSD, but only for medicinal purposes, ha ha.

After the hearing test, a soldier took me aside and told me that the Lieutenant would like to have a word with me. I met with him in a small fluorescent office. He had my file. Explained to me that even though this was kind of a lark for me, he'd appreciate it if I kept my mirth a little better contained, as it was kind of serious for everybody else there.

When an army doctor with a stethoscope came down the line listening to everybody's heart & lungs, I told him about my heart murmur. He made a notation, and sent me to a specialist's office for further testing. So I got to walk over to the Wells Building, and meet the cardiologist who the SSS had contracted with. Mischa Lustock. He's looking over my EEG, turns to me, sez, "You're Mort's son, right?" I walked out of his office with a IV-F medical deferment, on top of my I-O conscientious objector status. This meant that I wouldn't have to spend the next 2 years doing community service, i.e. helping the homeless or working in a hospital.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Tim on Telegraph

Tim on Telegraph, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

So cosmopolitan.

Fox Oakland

Fox Oakland, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Last Tuesday. Meeting with Tim, Mary & Cathy.

Rethinking an Afterthought

Rethinking an Afterthought, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

This piece has been wrong for about 20 years now. Never should have done that paint thing. It was better being just lead & glass.

I fixed it today. More photos here.

Rethinking an Afterthought

The paint was cheap white latex with some black iron oxide, plus sand for texture.

Rethinking an Afterthought

Here's the piece with the paint removed.

Rethinking an Afterthought

Crochet Hook Bolero

I got some copper wire to crochet into a blowmold for the next time I get a chance to blow glass. The stiffness of the copper wire suggested that I needed a much bigger crochet hook than any of the standard-sized ones that I have. But that drumstick looks just about right...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More 4D Intrusions


and here

and here

and here, rotated 90 degrees

and finally, the raw footage; what the above were made out of:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Four Dimensional Life Form Invades 3-Space

Intrusion manifested in mens lavatory, HAP.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Design Sketches

Design Sketches, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

La. Hey, look, today's a palindrome!

Battuto Detail

Baututo Detail, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

This cutting technique is called Battuto. If I can believe Warren Warren. Seems like he'd know.

Acorn Squash & Vessle

Squash & Vessle, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

2009 & 1975, respectively

Acorn Squash Blowmold project

Acorn Squash Blowmold project, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Date with Lynne-Rachel to make the mold on Mon Jan 18 at 10:00. These photos & videos are investigations of symmetry & undercut issues.

Investment: From what I remember from college, what I did was a

  • 1 part mortar (see below) : 2 parts casting plaster (by volume) dry-mixed
  • hand-sift mix into water, not too thick to pour easily (little island in middle of bucket)
  • allow to wet for about 3 minutes, then mix just until uniform
  • pour over bottom half of release-coated squash stuck upside down in the bottom of a bucket with wax
  • agitate for a minute to free bubbles
Upon setting (overnight)
  • plonk out of bucket
  • If squash doesn't want to come out, take it home & bake at 350 for an hour. Now it's nice & mushy.
  • Remove squash from mold. Serve with brown sugar & butter
  • Heating mold helps drive out uncombined water, too.
Quikrete Data Sheet Briefly:
Composition and materials:
QUIKRETE® Mortar (Masonry) Mix consists of a uniformly blended mixture of fine sand, and type N masonry cement.

UPC Uruguay

UPC Uruguay, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

I like what they've done to the barcode.
Nirea appears to be agribiz:
UPC Uruguay Detail

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Afgfhan Bits

Afgfhan Bits, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

~ 11 square feet so far. I'm getting kind of tired of making Grampy Rectangles.

Green Bell

Green Bell, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

I like the shape.


Batman, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Poster at Gyro King,_Turkey


Baden, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Therapy Companion Basketball from Kathleen.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Photocopy, originally uploaded by dumbeast.


! PF13 Selection Options ! PF11 Skip Appts
! PF14 Patient Menu


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Babs in Mexico

Babs in Mexico (7), originally uploaded by dumbeast.

My mom took a cruise to Mexico in April, 1996. A few more photos here.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Andreas pets Rupert

Andreas pets Rupert, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

I'm not sure that's the hen's name, but it was something like that. At Prieto Studios, Oakland

Vince's Gets a Facelift

Vince's Gets a Facelift, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

12th St & Peralta, Oakland

Smith Barney Map

Smith Barney Map, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

Neil Menzies' office
1606 Stoneridge Mall Rd
Pleasanton, CA 94588

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Douche Dancers at Beats Antique Show

At The Independent on Divisadero, 1/2/10.

Before the headliners came on, there were two opening acts--Evan Fraser started. Good loopy stuff. This video was recorded during Lynx and Janover's set.

Some enthusiastic dancers came and used up a bunch of personal space right near us. It was a scene, man. I don't even recognize what this scene is. "West Coast Circus" doesn't tell me anything. What is the philosophical foundation? What's the theoretical framework? Seemed kinda Balkan, kinda Semitic, what, Turkish/Romish? Oh well, everybody seemed to be having a good time. We were there mostly to skew the age demographic, and were glad to do it.

Beats Antique were excellent, but we had to leave really early in their set, because of the BART pumpkin problem.

Jay Leno

Jay Leno, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

I don't find him funny, but he's certainly something.

Fizzy Water

Fizzy Water, originally uploaded by dumbeast.

I love fizzy water. This is club soda in a tumbler made by Esteban Prieto

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