Friday, August 15, 2014

Furniture Improv


Photo courtesy Flickr

Before air conditioning, families in the Old South would set up beds in the entry hall when the weather was unbearable. It’s a good feeling to get draft working for one. The recent hot spell left me longing for a cot on the ground floor and short of energy to move furniture.

Modular dimensions are gratifying. 24” x 72” paid off. I put together a super-luxury memory foam-topped hiking pad, a rectangular synthetic sleeping bag in a surprisingly good green, and one panel of display industry epoxy-coated welded wire grid. Bag spread open on dining table, grid on bag, pad on grid, zip shut, set on four legally acquired industrial quality sixteen quart dairy crates taped together in pairs. I could have crashed on the floor, but it’s squalid in a Western room. 

Each of the elements of the sleeping set up works year round in other contexts. 

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More after the jump.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Charging Yoga


Funky but effective. Many early Capitol Hill houses looked like this one.
Note left wall patch of former chimney opening. Photo courtesy Flickr

An unprecedented summer failure of the neighborhood electrical supply left me grateful to have a cell phone and pad that were nearly fully charged. Someone involved in a recent televised disaster mention how important it is to keep devices at the ready.

The power was out for six hours, long enough for me to appreciate the reserve of AA batteries that I can recharge with hiker’s folding solar panels, wall juice, or a hand-ground generator. The in-house geek is now eager to scout the Great Big Hiking Co-op’s collection of thermo-electric wood stoves and solar boom boxes.

Options are good.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Relief Is In Sight, Apparently


Still glowing after all these years. Will clean up "good". Photo courtesy Flickr.

I read a respectable design critique somewhere claiming that mid-twentith century manufacture of “cheapjack electrical fittings” was the beginning of the end for righteous industrial production. I’m not the person to evaluate the comment, but it stayed with me.

Incandescent light bulbs with carbon filaments make energy sense in this 1890 house, because they’re part of the heating system. The bulbs are good value on line. Last week I placed what has become an annual order. Archaic lighting seems to be a growth area. I was happy to find a confusing proliferation of choices, thread-covered vintage cord, and best of all, solid brass sockets.

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More after the jump.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Buy The Size That Fits


Photo courtesy Flickr

It’s been a while since I read the kind of magazine that advises about housekeeping. The rhetoric of the Earth Shoe generation consistently recommended buying Large Economy everything. I used earnestly to exhort old ladies to shop at The Great Big Discount Warehouse and then listen incomprehendingly to their preference for picking things up in the neighborhood.

Business writer Timothy Ferris discusses earning dollars and spending a cheaper currency. The big picture wisdom of the practice is not something I can evaluate, but the idea makes sense of the avalanche of cheap imported housekeeping amenities. Dollars or whatever, it makes sense for me to buy small containers of many staples that I routinely used to repackage at home. 

Toothpaste is a simple (though not repackaged) example. I had a small crisis of conscience the first time I realized that a traveler’s tube is easier and faster to store and handle. The cost per unit is higher, and, alas, the packaging does not recycle. I save so much time and attention using the small size that I can be greener than green in other areas. The same is true for the white vinegar I use in the kitchen. The pint container recycles, and I don’t have to waste time and stress fine motor skills transferring stock from a gallon jug or mixing dangerously concentrated glacial acetic acid.

Much of the burden of green living has shifted onto the shoulders of the housekeeper just as the demands on time have grown greater. Employment outside the home, after school child enrichment activities, and ballooning commutes leave little to spare for such luxuries as uninterrupted periods of thought. I work at home in an empty nest and still resent the time it takes to wash solid waste (come on) and pick produce stickers off fruit. Couldn’t those things be designed to compost and look cool enough to collect, like the old crate labels?

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More after the jump.