Beetle & Byte

Color, Texture, and Layers

These days, I spend most of my leisure time either seeking inspiration or planning decor for my new home. I’m drawn to designs that mix pattern, color, light, and texture. One such design is the Maison de la Luz hotel in New Orleans by Studio Shamshiri. It’s visually rich and decadent and yet somehow manages to remain approachable. While I doubt I’ll get anywhere near this bold of a statement, I do look forward to incorporating touches of approachable fun and visual richness.

A Year of New Beginnings

And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been. 

Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet and Novelist

Imposter Syndrome

She explained that many people, but especially women, feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made. Despite being high achievers, even experts in their fields, women can’t seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they are found out for who they really are- impostors with limited skills or abilities.

Sheryl Sundberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

700-Year-Old French Paper Mill

The beautiful paper that is made at the Richard de Bas Mill has been used by Picasso, Chagall, and Dalí not to mention it was originally used to print the French Constitution. To this day, the owner and staff make every sheet of paper by hand with many of the original presses and tools, which can take upwards of a month for a single sheet.

Of the many things to admire, I especially like imagining heading outside the mill to the garden where they hand pick flowers for their pressed flower paper.


I’m not gonna lie, I think my plants deserve a little serenade and I may just have to get them this reissued album!

Plantasia is an album recorded especially for plants by Mort Garson on a Moog synthesizer.

Subtitled “warm earth music for plants…and the people that love them,” it was full of bucolic, charming, stoner-friendly, decidedly unscientific tunes enacted on the new-fangled device called the Moog. Plants date back to the dawn of time, but apparently, they loved the Moog, never mind that the synthesizer had been on the market for just a few years. Most of all, the plants loved the ditties made by composer Mort Garson.

Sacred Bones Records

Fortunately, for those plant-obsessed among us who find ourselves short a record player, we can download the album too.

Built in Plate Warmer

Late 19th century Victorian radiator with a built in warming oven which was usually used to keep plates warm before serving food on them.

I love catching glimpses of ingenuity from throughout history. While I can reason why we abandoned this particular concept, as appealing as it may be, I often wonder why some others went by the wayside. Perhaps, just like in fashion, they’re just waiting for someone to take inspiration from them once again.

Claude Shannon

I’m embarrassed to confess that after more than twelve years in the technology industry and with a Masters degree for Science in Information, I have only just learned of Claude Shannon.

In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a “bit” and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics.

I hope to have a chance to catch this documentary if it ever makes its way to the Pacific Northwest or to streaming video. In the meantime, we can all learn more about Shannon the The Bit Player website.

via Kottke

Keepers, Collectors, and Hoarders

Pen collection of Betty Schwartz and Alexander Wilensky. Photo by Alexander Wilensky.

From the New York Times archives, I stumbled upon an article celebrating and revealing the culture of collecting. The article was in response to an exhibit called The Keeper that was hosted at the New Museum in 2016. By some measure of good fortune, I was able to visit the exhibit at the time and I still think of it to this day.

There’s no mystery as to why the exhibit resonated so strongly with me. I’m a collector and I come from a lineage of collectors. I’ve had many collections throughout my life, starting in childhood with the toys you get in fast food kids meals, troll dolls, antique dolls from around the world, swanky swigs, and much more. My family gave gifts around our respective collections, which were often animal themed. For my grandmother it changed frequently and included chickens, railroad paraphernalia, anthropomorphized vegetables, and so many others I can’t recall. In addition to a collector she was also an antique dealer. This made it easy to accumulate and also to purge. She was always about the pursuit more than about the objects and so she could relinquish them more easily.

For my mother, I don’t think she was ever particularly sentimental around her collections. I suspect she collected because everyone else did and because it gave her daughter something easy to gift. That said, she easily amassed supplies related to whatever craft she was invested in at the time including yarns and beads.

At present moment, my largest collection is ornaments. I have at least 2,000 and within that I have subcollections of insects, animals, and pop culture. For all those ornaments, I probably have—at most—one Santa Claus and maybe one snowman. I have also amassed a lifetime of ephemera. Everything from notes passed in class during middle school to employee name tags to movie stubs and travel postcards. There are also the real photo postcards I collect of people and their pets throughout history. Of all the things I accumulate, my 200 or so plants are the ones that encroach on my living space the most, but then, that’s the point.

While everyone has different objects they collect as well as different reasons for collecting, for me they’ve both evolved over time. In the beginning, I was modeling my family’s behavior and it gave me a sense of belonging. At other times it was an extension of identity. At times, it was an outlet for stress, anxiety, or depression. These days, it’s mostly about appreciating craftsmanship, beauty, and what makes me happy. I don’t hold onto things as a completionist anymore. I hold onto them because I enjoy them and because I enjoy the pursuit of finding them.

A Week of Links


Edible whiskey capsules. I’m at a loss for words.

A Porg™ Pie Bird.

Banksy’s new “homewares store.”

Dozens of videos chronicling the lives of chipmunks in the wilderness of Canada. I dare you not to get sucked in.

Stunning hanging planters.

A stationery store straight out of a fairytale.

If the Joker laughed like Pee Wee Herman.

I may need to join the ladies at Cup of Jo in lathering my skin with this nourishing cream for dry weather.