Minkey Business

"Over the cage floor the horizons come."

Category: Off the Cuff

Let’s cut the funds for beauty

California is blooming. It’s spring after a series of winter storms that pulled us out of drought, and there are flowers everywhere. In gardens, riverbeds, the desert, on the mountains, on freeway embankments. Plants that looked dead when we moved into our house two months ago, now look like bouquets. For an all-too-short two weeks, […]

The Wild West in the attic

One recent weekend, I donned some old clothes, pulled on a headlamp and dust mask, and went reverse spelunking in the attic. I was attempting to run Ethernet cable from the router to my audio system, keeping as much of it hidden as possible. My wife came up the ladder, and stuck her head into […]

Technological nostalgia as healing

Remember this trick from the early days of the cell phone? You call a friend on his landline, and chat with him about plans for the day. As you’re talking, his doorbell rings, and he excuses himself to answer it. He opens the front door, and it’s you. There’s astonishment and laughter all round, and […]

Growing up in motels

“Gentle giant” is the best way to describe my new friend. Let’s call him Jim. He is brutally strong, but quiet and shy. He has a distracted, slightly dazed manner, that makes it a surprise when he is usually a step ahead of what you’re asking. Jim has two children. His son, 15, is autistic. […]

Remembering ‘The Selfish Giant’

The television was on in the living room of a comfortable home on a recent rainy day in Southern California. As we walked in, the woman of the house looked at the images of the Trump family live at the Presidential inauguration. “Finally, a first family we can look up to,” she said. I was […]

The second real-estate market

When you buy a house in the US, the public record is changed, and this is a trigger for a whole industry in your mailbox. Some letters are helpful (offering discounts at local supermarkets), and some are outright scams. There’s a company in California called Local Records Office, that sends business solicitations to new home […]

Is this the right floor?

When I was very young, my parents were given an ornate chess set in which each piece was a miniature of a famous sculpture. I remember the kings were Michelangelo’s David, and the rooks were Rodin’s The Thinker. I thought it magnificent. I couldn’t understand why it made my parents giggle, and say how awful […]

A stupid way to use a smartphone

It’s hard to be surprised by phones any more. They do so much. And yet, the other day, I was treated to an impressive use of the smartphone I’d never seen before. I was talking to an industry rep, and asked him whether Method A was better than Method B. The rep said A was […]

A rudimentary game of chess

We walk the dog in the morning in small natural area near our home called the Santa Anita Wash. To get to it, we go through a narrow underpass. This little concrete channel is a scene for a rudimentary game of chess that plays out nearly every day across the city of Los Angeles. Every […]

Democracy is coming to the USA

This is my first cuff since the US election, so let’s talk about Canada. Well okay, let’s talk about a Canadian, a famous one we lost on November 7. Leonard Cohen was 82 when he died in his sleep after a fall in the night. His last album ‘You Want It Darker’ had been released […]