2024-06-28 4 min read

Scope Creep, 2024-06-28.

Scope Creep, 2024-06-28.
Woman in front of open refrigerator filled with food. Theodor Horydczak, via the Library of Congress.

Ah, Scope Creep! Let's get right into it.

Scope of Work is supported by our awesome Members, and through support from:

Autodesk Fusion 360


  • The Scope of Work Members' Reading Group is starting Nicola Twilley's Frostbite this week, with our first discussion planned for Thursday 2024-07-11. Join us, and learn about all of the refrigeration-related stuff that Nicola and I weren't able to cover in our recent restaurant supply store trip!
  • This (Imperial) machine screw & bolt cutter looks nice. I like plier-style, electrician’s bolt cutters like these as well, but applying force with your grip alone feels foolish for larger bolts. If anyone’s aware of a nice metric bolt cutter, I’d love to hear of it.
  • I’m looking for an engineer to help design a rainwater sequestration system for my home in Brooklyn, New York City. I have been writing about this project, the need for which has bubbled up from my basement sink’s drain once or twice a year for more than three years, for paid subscribers (Member, Supporter, and Executive) of this newsletter. Writing about this project has been fun, and I think it’ll be thought provoking and rewarding (for me at least) to work on, but I need a second set of eyes to think through the conditions under which my basement floods and how to efficiently and reliably avoid additional flooding in the future. Anyway: If you are (or know) an engineer, and you (or they) know a thing or two about Cultec chambers, give me a holler.
  • A British English skip is roughly the same as an American English dumpster, except apparently that skips are picked up and trucked away, whereas dumpsters are emptied into a special garbage truck and then put back down. I have always used dumpster interchangeably, though I do anticipate needing to remove soil and debris from my property soon and will be curious to confirm this usage with refuse-hauling professionals when I do.
  • Sua sponte means “of their own accord.” It is often used in a legal context, specifically in regard to actions taken by a judge that were not prompted by a request or motion from the parties. The phrase sua sponte is the root of the word spontaneous, and the sponte part might be related to our word spin.
  • From Matthew Yglesias, a (paywalled) modern history of congestion pricing. Yglesias describes how since the Bush era, transit projects have been evaluated on whether or not they reduced road congestion — which they often do not. He then argues that we should create separate funding streams for road and mass transit projects: Road funding should come from fees on vehicle miles traveled and congestion pricing, with additional taxes for negative externalities associated with driving (e.g. CO2; potentially also PM2.5?). Then mass transit projects should get their own funding stream, and they should be evaluated based on ridership — not the way that they might or might not affect road traffic.

    Related: Assuming NYC does not implement congestion pricing, the state will be missing out on something like a hundred thousand jobs.

On Monday I promised that I'd be sharing the honorable mentions from Il Campionatio Mondiale di Umari, of which the judges awarded three. The first, in the open text category, was from Danny Scheyer and is titled High Wire Act:

Last July I read a book about the Great Depression. In it they described a carnival tent, kept at arm's length from the others, where men would gather at night. And they would peer through a gauzy curtain to watch a woman lie on a fainting couch and await the coming dawn. The men could not make out her face, or even if she was truly beautiful, but it did not matter: with just a silhouette, they were satisfied. When I read this anecdote, I remember laughing. "Surely," I thought, "We have greater pleasures now."

Every day I walk past a construction site hidden behind tall green barriers marked "POST NO BILLS". Today I heard a crow's caw and, looking upward, found a man dangling from a long, thick rope. His form was hidden behind thick debris netting, bright blue with thin stripes of hazard orange. He was a darkened shape, nothing more, with the notable exception of a neon yellow safety harness and a silver finishing trowel. When I saw him, I must admit, I was transfixed. I stood there for far longer than socially acceptable, head craned high, watching his tool bob in and out of the light as he smoothed heavy slicks of mortar. I too was satisfied.

On the more poetic side, the judges also gave an honorable mention to Liturgy for Pouring Day by Kristina Kaminskas:

Here the trucks arrive,
striped tanks spinning,
and spill their mix into
waiting forms. Hail, trucks!
You happy messengers!
Let us declare the great
mystery: This concrete,
born of cement, aggregate,
and water—
slumped and tested—
soon-to-be vibrated—
will form a foundation,
even as it is not yet cured,
upon which a tower will
rise. Now, in reverent voices,
let us recite stories of the
Hoover Dam and drink
our cooled coffee as the
beautiful procession
marches on.

Lastly, an honorable mention was awarded to Siddharth Yadav for the following sketch:

Siddharth Yadav's honorably mentioned sketch.

Thanks as always to Scope of Work’s Members and Supporters for making this newsletter possible. Thanks also to Mathias and Mike for helping source links this week.

Love, Spencer

Spencer Wright
Spencer Wright
Spencer Wright is the (mostly accidental) founder of Scope of Work, which he started writing (as The Prepared) in 2013. Today he serves as its editor-in-chief and chief dilettante.
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