Everyday Objects Ahoy!

Ten Uniquely Everyday Objects:

10. Plastic Army Men

09. Wine

08. Steering Wheel

07. Hammer

06. Bicycle

05. Lantern

04. Deck of Cards

03. Map

02. Pen

01. Fire



Walking into my apartment, I hear the click click click of greased-up bike gears. My roommate, Pete, lives for and probably on bicycles. I have seen him take a trashed frame from the gutters of Albany that he discovered on one of his two-wheeled journeys and magically transforms it into three hundred dollars from Craigslist. His obsession has consumed the dinning room. I’ve grown strangely comfortable having a bowl of Fruit Loops in the cluttered company of a few Serottas, a couple Bianchi, and an Schwinn. As much love as Pete has for bicycles, I haven’t sat on the stiff, butt-aching, seat of a bicycle since I had reached puberty. I couldn’t even say if I could ride one anymore; however, I’ve heard its not something your likely to forget, but I probably have.

An interesting fact about bicycles is that the longest tandem bicycle is 92 feet long. Its creators, Dutch engineering students and likely mad scientists Teigi Meier and Jan Bart Brink set the world record in 2009 by riding, “100 meters unaided” (http://www.cyclelicio.us/2010/92-foot-long-tandem-sets-new-world-record/). When they were rewarded with the honor, Meier may have said, “I hope you have a big trunk because I’m putting my bike in it” (40-Year-Old Virgin).

Book: The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles: Craftsmanship, Elegance, and Function




After my first few years of college, I nearly had to stop drinking all together. Alcohol had grown stale and the thought of the dry taste folded my stomach over like origami. Then I tried a glass of Pinot Noir while at dinner with my folks one night. Since then, I have joined my parents a couple nights a week for a drink or two or three at their favorite bars in downtown Saratoga. They are somewhat retired and the company they keep are all in their sixties, seventies, and yes, even eighties. It certainly makes for some interesting and partly philosophical conversations. However, I usually have my last glass of Chardonnay at about seven or eight o’clock, as my parents have recently adopted an early bedtime. Wine, as strange as it sounds, has vastly improved my relationship with my mother and stepfather.

Recently, I stumbled on an article about 168 bottles of Champagne in the sunken wreckage of a schooner that are nearly 200 years old. The divers took a sip before shipping it to wine sommelier, Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan, “despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was freshness to the wine” (http://io9.com/5695539/worlds-oldest-wine-and-beer-finally-gets-drunk-after-200-years). I wonder what Miles Raymond (played by Paul Giamatti in the film Sideways) would say about it?

Book: The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil



Playing Cards:

The last hand I played with Alex Carsky-Bush was a King High Flush. He had four Nine’s and before I knew it, all my chips were between his arms and being clumsily dragged to his corner of the table. I put out my last cigarette, vowing to quite, smothered a slice of pizza into my mouth, and headed for the road. Two years later, Alex broke into a CVS, stealing a legion of anonymous pills, only to be found a frozen corpse by a woman walking her dog in the nearby park. Playing cards hold the fond memories of my old friend but they also foreshadowed his death. Alex kept track of every hand he ever played and every cent he won or lost on them. He was addicted to gambling and the addiction evolved dangerously.

One question I have always asked myself is, why does the Ace of Spades look so different compared to the other 51 cards? According to Andrew J. Speirs (http://andrewjspeirs.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/10-interesting-facts-about-a-standard-deck-of-playing-cards/), French bureaucrats came up with the lovely scheme to tax only the Ace of Spades, due to the popularity of playing cards. But playing cards nowadays are most famously used for playing the game of poker. Poker has become so popular that every Tuesday night on ESPN they bring their hungry audiences poker tournaments, most famously the World Series of Poker. So now, instead of getting a few friends together and playing poker, you can watch other people play the game on television.

Book: The Power of Playing Cards: An Ancient System for Understanding Yourself, Your Destiny, and Your Relationships


Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Everyday Objects Ahoy!

  1. MFulwiler

    Great job on this first blog post! You’ve got a terrific list of common objects and the three you’ve chosen would all take you in interesting directions. I was struck by the way you threaded your personal association with the object into your writing–in many ways, each is kind of an oblique reference (to your roommate, to your friend, to your mother and stepfather). Great cultural references. If I had to chose, the bicycle and the Ace of Spades seem especially rich and full of material (historical, cultural, physical). I look forward to seeing where you decide to investigate!


  2. Ryan I loved reading all about the objects you choose especially the wine and the playing cards. I was totally not expecting someone to pick wine! I’m not much of a drinker but I do like to drink wine every so often with my friends and chat. I think that is is really a wonderful thing that it has helped to increase a closer relationship with your mother and step father. I think to have such great connections to all of your objects is going to make is difficult to pick just one! which one do you have in mind so far? I also find it to be VERY interesting that the ace of spades were going to be the only card that was going to be taxed, that’s pretty crazy knowing there are 51 other cards. I really enjoyed reading your blog!


  3. Ryan,

    I loved your blog about the wine. Wine is also very social for me, and I love the connection you made through something as simple as wine. Loved the trailer you put up to, that movie is amazing and a great parallel to your wine blog. Glad you shared


  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog! I loved the taxi driver one, and I see them all the time too seeing as how i live in albany as well but I never really stopped to think about what they go through on a day to day basis and how many people they come in contact to. It could possibly be a dangerous jobs in some situations. I would love to know the history about taxi drivers and how the ones in New York City are different than the ones in a smaller city such as Albany. Although I see them everyday, I never really got the chance to actually ride in one, and as many times that i’ve been in the city I still have yet to ride in one. I’m jealous that you thought of this subculture and I bet your draft is going to be a good one!

  5. I loved reading your blog, they’re always so interesting and fun to read. I wish I thought of legalizing marijuana! personally I can’t wait either. I also enjoyed reading the texting while driving one because ALOT of people do it including me sometimes and it’s so dangerous. A well known dad at my old high school died due to a boy texting and driving and hit him head on. It’s a serious issue to bring up. I can’t wait to hear your essay on either one of your three problems! good luck:)

    • Ryan

      Thank you very much! I’m sorry to hear about that dad who passed away and I hope the boy was at least okay. Unfortunately, I understand how hard it can be to resist and sometimes I even find myself doing it every so often and then I yell at myself for being a hypocrite. Every so often, I’ll see a cop on the Northway watching the road for texters instead of speeders (because if they were looking for speeders I’d have written about speeding tickets as a local problem). Legalizing Marijuana has been an issue for such a long time, I fear I may not have anything new to add to the argument. I’m still deciding on which one to write about and your suggestions and comments will be very helpful! Thanks again!

"A prudent question is one-half of wisdom" - Sir Francis Bacon

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