What Was Saved

Yesterday, I re-posted an entry about a book called “The Burning House: What Would You Take?” by Foster Huntington:

Your house is burning. You have to get out fast. Suddenly you are forced to prioritize, editing down a lifetime of possessions to a mere handful. Now you must decide: Of all the things you own, what is most important to you?

  • The practical? Your laptop, your smartphone, what you need to keep working and stay in touch?
  • The valuable? Your money, your jewelry, the limited edition signed poster in the living room?
  • The sentimental? The watch your late grandfather gave you, the diary you kept as a teenager?
What you choose to bring with you speaks volumes about who you are and what you believe in—your interests, your background, your view of life.With contributions from all over the world, The Burning House is an eye-opening pictorial meditation on materialism; an in-depth, intensely personal interview contained in a single question; a revealing window into the human heart.I put forth a challenge to everyone to try and do it themselves, grab everything you think you would grab when your place is burning down and photograph it.
I recreated that night tonight and grabbed all the stuff below.

Clockwise from upper left: my great-grandmother’s small wooden box sitting on my grandfather’s wooden box, an old whale vertebrae, two Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera with sonar focus, reading glasses, passport, MacBook Pro, red scorpion paper weight, photo booth picture of Rick and me drinking beers, external hard drive, iPhone, wallets, two white ceramic artichokes made by Rick, small metal frame and art made by artist and friend David Hamlin.

I guess I am going to put all that stuff in the wooden boxes?  To be honest, the whale vertebrae and ceramic artichokes were already sitting on the table and I found the Polaroid cameras when I was searching for my passport.  I know that if I had a bag and five minutes, I would probably not stop until that bag was full and the time had run out.  I mean, how could I forget external rechargeable speakers, iPod, and more books that I could even count.  Then, there is that pair of elephants my sister gave me and that elf head cookie jar I bought at the junk store in Navy Yard City.

I made a photo slide show of items I would try to save from the lake house if it was burning, here it is (naturally, I used a LOMO filter on all of them):

Rick created his own collection of things he would save from a fire, between the two of us, the only thing we would be prepared for is international travel if our place burned down.  Here are his:

Dogs, Pia and Bear, passport, assorted love letters, photo album, Gucci sunglasses, running shoes, and ceramic artichoke (made by Rick).

I am not sure how he managed to get the dogs to sit still on the table.

The Burning House: What People Would Take If The House Was on Fire

I found this article last night and fell in love with the idea for a photo challenge:  Give yourself five minutes and a bag.  Rush through your place and collect everything you think you want to have, knowing that everything else will be lost/burned/destroyed.  What would you grab and why?  Make it quirky.  Make it unique.  Make it meaningful.  Take a photo, include a short description of what and why you chose each thing, and email it to me here at spa@waldina.com.  I will post mine and any others I get.

A pictorial meditation on how we construct our identity through objects and material possessions.

If your house suddenly caught on fire, what would you grab as you fled out the door? That’s precisely the question Foster Huntington asked himself, so he gathered the belongings he himself would take and photographed them, then asked a few friends to do the same. Then, on May 10 of 2011, he launched The Burning House with 10 such photographs. Within a few hours, he got his first submission from a complete stranger. Within a few days, he was making headlines. But he soon realized the self-selection implicit to the project engendered a certain psychographic homogeneity in the responses he was receiving and, driven to make people of various walks of life feel included, he decided to seek out more diverse submissions himself.

So, for five months, he drove thousands of miles up and down the West Coast and around the Rockies, in search for people “other than typical blog readers,” in an effort to expand the project generationally, geographically, and socioeconomically. Using Richard Avedon’s In the American West as inspiration, he set out to find those rare specimens who “had never heard of Tumblr, had never seen an iPad” — in other words, the kinds of people with whom he would’ve never crossed paths had he stayed in Manhattan. The results — rich, surprising, refreshingly human, from people separated by 80 years and spanning six continents — are now gathered in The Burning House: What Would You Take? (public library), based on the Tumblr of the same name and a fine addition to this running list of blog-turned-book success stories.

Huntington writes in the introduction:

Today, developed countries are consuming more than ever before. This culture of consumption is often fueled by people’s desire to define themselves by the possessions they amass. The Burning House: What Would You Take? takes a different approach to personal definition. By removing easily replaceable objects and instead focusing on things unique to them, people are able to capture their personalities in a photograph.

What emerges is part Material World, part Things, part wholly singular lens on the human condition, bridging the practical and the sentimental in a way that bespeaks our constant see-saw between rationality and intuition.

Name: Miguel Age: 36 Location: Porto Occupation: Bike shop owner List: The picture you gave me and the leather box we found together. Mom and dads old camera and mom and dads old leather bag. The shoes I can’t live without. Your smell #1 and your smell #2. The notebook where I draw while you laugh. My iPod to listen to beautiful tunes while thinking in our next home.

Name: Brody Age: 6 Location: New Hampshire Occupation: A kid List: Wedgehead Garfeild cup Lego helicopter Bumblebee Transformer Chip yellow belt piggybank wallet weaving (not pictured) Lego Camera used to take photo

Name: Kate Molins Age: 26 Location: London, UK Occupation: Clapper / Loader List: Buster Kitten – 2 yr old cat My mum’s ashes Photo album / scrap book iPhone Grandmother’s watch Dad’s watch My watch – 16th birthday present from my mum Macbook Passport 8mm Camera – 24th birthday present from all my friends Dad’s “I Love Tits” Mug – in small print, “from the British Ornithological Society” Limited edition GONZO, Hunter S. Thompson photo book – 21st birthday present from my mum Lemmy, Buster Kitten’s brother My uncle’s old Leica CL Diary & notebook of VALUABLE ideas & info from the past year Portable hard drive with millions of photos and other important things

Name: Joshua Lee Bacon Age: 20 Location: Boone, Iowa Occupation: Student List: Favorite pants. Favorite underwear. iPhone. Box full of all my prints and negatives. Buffalo box full of treasures and special snapshots. Passport. Chinese cigars. Some cash. Photo of my grandparents. Photo of a friend. Field notes and pens. Vivitar and telephoto lens. I would want to take more records, but the first one I would grab would be this Envy Corps 7 inch. Some old letters. Wallet.

Name: Brenda Bell Age: 60 Location: Pinetop, Arizona White Mountains (wild fire country May/June) Occupation: Homemaker List: My dog, Baby Val and treats for him My husband Larry and treats for him Peanut butter and crackers, peanuts, candy and gum Bumblebee Transformer A spork (spoon/fork) Hand warmers Wool hat Lots of money (small dimensions) and change Emergency first aid kit and zip lock bags Matches

Name: Kristi Dahlstrom Age: 27 Location: Germany Occupation: Literature Teacher List: Great Aunt’s Violin (& Bow) US Passport Photograph of Siblings 2 Letters Journal New American Standard Bible Rilke’s Book of Hours T.S. Elliot Collected Poems MacBook Pro Black Flipflops

Name: Luca Age: 42 Location: Edinburgh, Scotland Occupation: Pricing analyst List: My collected writings My Field Notes still to be used My current notebook the Midori Travellers Notebook On Writing by Stephen King From Hell by Alan Moore Important photographs The stove moka I had for the past 10 years (because nothing looks as bad after a proper coffee) The belt my dad had when he was in the army The beret I had when I was in the army Fountain pen and pencil, with my favourite brown ink My grandad’s petrol lighter Opinel knife Bookbinding tools Reading glasses and sunglasses iPhone 4S (used to take the picture)

Name: Alejandro Sosa Age: 36 Location: Venezuela Occupation: Technology consultant List: Everything is recoverable, except my daughter

And in case you were wondering, here’s what I would take:

  1. Wallet (recycled newspaper and plastic bag, from HOLSTEE)
  2. 1935 edition of Ulysses with sketches by Henri Matisse and 22-karat gold accents (Sure, the hefty tome would weigh me down — but I decided against the replaceable iPad and pair of giant Canon cameras in its favor.)
  3. Glasses
  4. Passport
  5. MacBook Air
  6. Phrenology bike helmet hand-painted by artist Danielle Baskin
  7. Makerbot-printed space invader, a gift from a dear friend
  8. Two-finger yellow LEGO ring from C+
  9. iPhone
  10. 1993 edition of Gertrude Stein’s 1938 children’s book, The World Is Round
  11. Owl necklace from the 1950s, found in a middle-of-nowhere California vintage shop en route back from TED
  12. 1 TB external hard drive with all my personal data, 15 years of photos, 100GB of music, and just about every piece of digital content I’ve ever owned (Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1 TB USB 3.0/2.0, for the record)
  13. Original drawing of Paula Scher, one of my big design heroes, by my friend and illustrator extraordinaire Wendy MacNaughton. It reads: “Impossible happens.”
  14. My Vibrams

Stick Figure Confidential – High Voltage

This stick figure model is very famous in Mexico and gets a lot of work.  The work conditions in Mexico can be more dangerous than other places, but it also can be a lot of fun.  Here is his story:

Este modelo figura de palo es muy famoso en México y recibe una gran cantidad de trabajo. Los requisitos de trabajo en México puede ser más peligroso que en otros lugares, el propósito es aussi puede ser un montón de diversión. Esta es su historia:

stick voltage

“Always when I work with ‘DANGER,’ it can be pretty exciting.  They say that the electricity was going to be added later in photoshop, but when I showed up, it was clear that I was going to be working with a live bolt of electricity.  His name is Pablo, we have worked together before on an underground cable sign gig and he is the most laid back electricity I have ever met.  The shoot was really quick.  We slowly moved closer to each other until the photographer told us to stop and that was the shot.”

Siempre cuando trabajo con “peligro” que puede ser muy emocionante. Dicen Que electricidad les iba a añadir más tarde en Photoshop, el objetivo cuando llegué, estaba claro que iba a estar trabajando con un perno en vivo de la electricidad. Su nombre es Pablo, hemos trabajado juntos antes de un año bajo tierra signo concierto cable y es el más relajado que he puesto la electricidad. El rodaje fue muy rápido. Lentamente se acercó a otra hasta que el fotógrafo nos dijo que parar y ese fue el tiro.

Stick Figure Model Confidential – Fire

This is the first in what I hope is  a series of photos and text that I create about the torturous life of a stick figure model.


“You may notice that I look thinner in this shot that I normally do.  When I showed up at the go-see, they said that I was perfect for the job, but needed to drop a few lbs so the focus would not be on me.  I ate steamed iceberg lettuce for a week.

The shoot was exhausting.  I must have had to walk down those stairs several hundred times and then back up to walk down them again.  Oh, and they didn’t mention that real fire was going to be used.  Real fire!  It was so hot and they had to keep drying me off because I was dripping in sweat.

I like the end results of the shoot and think that my work here will save lives.  That’s what it is all about, isn’t it?”

Paco will not be joining us this evening.

Try as I might, he would not go through the door into the cold rainy night.

**This is my submission to this morning’s suggestion of embedding Instagram photos into the blog via url instead of saving them and posting them as regular photos.  It does seem to save time and is pretty cool.**

**There was a better photo yesterday of Dino (Paco’s brother) hiding in the window that I will add the same tag to so you can see it.  I could have a whole blog just for their antics.**

Has Anyone Seen Dino?

I think that Dino was looking for sunshine yesterday and found it by standing in the window.  Neighbors walking by took photos of him, standing still, enjoying the warmth.

Support Marriage Equality

In (less than) 50 days, 4 states will vote on marriage equality.

With enough of us talking about marriage, sharing, tweeting and donating – we can drive people out to vote on November 6 and deliver marriage equality in 3 states while fighting off a total ban in another.

We can make history by winning marriage equality ballot initiatives in Maine, Maryland and Washington State. In Minnesota the fight is a different one – we’ll be stopping a total ban on same-sex marriage.

Grab any of the photos below and Share/Post/Blog/Tweet/Like/Pin/Text/Email.  Then re-Share/re-Post/re-Blog/re-Like/re-Pin/re-Text/re-Email.  Put them anywhere and everywhere you can.

Get involved with Mainers United for Marriage, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Minnesotans United for All Families and Washington United for Marriage.

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Anti-gay and anti-human rights organizations in our country are mobilizing – putting vast sums of money and resources into all four states to defeat us. In the past, despite great polls – we have lost ballot initiatives. Our opposition is organized and well-funded. But we have what they don’t – we’re fighting for love, not against it.