Friday, August 1, 2014

Edible Transportation


Photo courtesy Flickr


I knew that horses and sled dogs are, alas, stores of emergency rations and that naturally tanned leather is a snack of last resort. I had not considered that inorganic transportation might be consumed as well. Recently Elvis’ Rolls was offered for sale. In a triumph of investigative journalism, the network reported that his mother’s chickens had pecked at the original paint. 

The story reminded me of something I heard during the exterior vinyl period of Detroit design. An acquaintance grumbled that he had parked a tattered luxury sedan with opera windows by a rural fence, gotten out to chat with a friend, and turned to find the resident horse happily munching his rooftop.

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More after the jump.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

City Mouse


Photo courtesy Flickr

I made noises to a farm friend about inviting rabbit owners to graze their charges in my fenced orchard of dwarf trees. He reminded me of danger from overhead. Missing the point, I replied that local crows and Scouts will probably keep the drones under control. A few seconds after hitting the Send button I remembered the eagles that confine a miniature rural poodle as closely as if he lived downtown. Growing up in an aerospace city trained me to live under a different sky than Adam’s, but the risk of eagle predation in Seattle is reason to rejoice. 

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Little Giant


That's a Pulaski in the guy's hand. Hot shots photo courtesy Flickr

Recent forest fire coverage showed crews clearing narrow breaks with the McCleod combination hoe and rake. Following a tip, an exploratory tour of a field science mail order catalogue convinced me that a McCleod might be just the thing to keep the front bank in order. The planting is designed to mimic a Western Washington roadside. Sharpened, the McCleod made such short work of grooming the bank that I no longer need to use it.

The catalogue, Ben’s Grassy Area, listed other tempting products, like a long-handled flapper for stomping out brush fires, no doubt useful in offices, and a utility desk with adjustable legs for standing or seated work (substitute plastic bed risers with any table). I see the catalogue’s screaming yellow fireproof shirts on news reports of burns and wish I could work one into my wardrobe.

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More after the jump.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Off To The Race



When you start to drive the July children nuts, consider a classic old school Seattle toy: a homemade wooden hydroplane meant to be dragged behind a bike or trike in anticipation of the big race the first Sunday in August. That date is historically the one least likely to put spectators at risk of hypothermia. Clip a playing card onto the spokes of a wheel to simulate engine noise.

It’s trivial to cobble a model of an old-school hydro out of a scrap of one by four softwood plank. Use mounting tape to attach a right triangle of tail cut from the same stock. Add a screw eye at the prow to secure a string painter. Keep the model bottom-heavy for stability. Mason’s line is ideal for towing, although both it and the spring clothes pin that is card securement of choice are obsolete technology now. Scrounging is half the fun.

The simplest and crudest hydros are the best, because they’ll kick around on the course. The world of toy safety may be aware of risks of which I am ignorant. Use good sense and keep an eye on the proceedings. On the third, the kids can refresh their racing scenarios between heats while the grown-ups graze on an all-day barbecue.

Teach the little ones to grumble at Detroit, the unlimited mother ship, and to take pride in the race being (still?) the world’s single largest spectator sporting event. Explain that Boeing’s Ted Jones transformed a motor boat into an aeroplane with damp wing and propeller tips and that it is foolish to enter Lake Washington for several weeks after the race but thrilling to do so when the old boats are running. Tell them ahead of time how Tex Johnson proved that a 707 can do a slow roll. Let them know that Bill Boeing’s personal pilot and hydro driver Mira Slovak hijacked a Czech airliner and fled the Soviet Bloc knowing only the English words for“cherry pie and coffee”, all he ate for several weeks after arriving in the west. Especially teach the little ones English designer David Pye’s underlying assumption that nostalgia is always lying in wait for us.

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More after the jump.