Friday, March 1, 2013

The Bored Child

Photo courtesy Flickr

At this point in winter, I’d be as happy with a tray of cheerful oaties as any toddler. My brother used to make popcorn without a lid when he had cabin fever. He’d eat what stayed in the pot and feed the rest to the birds.

Recently, after a lifetime of seeing the word “foley” on film credits, I searched the term and learned it’s the ten dollar version of sound effects. The engine also brought up the following fun facts: imitate the sound of crunching snow by putting corn starch in a leather pouch. Try this in Florida. Flap bird wings with a pair of gloves. Whoosh through the air with an arrow or thin stick. Generate a controllable creak with an old chair. Place a water soaked rusty hinge against different surfaces to vary your everyday creak. Quarter inch audio tape balled up sounds like grass or brush being walked on. If you want car sounds in the studio, put a car there. I’d just go to the garage. It would be fun to rig a pair of shoes to generate the sounds of walking on surfaces other than the actual one underfoot.

It would also be fun to make a sound collection in lieu of making a batch of cookies. An acquaintance who does voice-overs tells me that she just sets her Pomme laptop on the kitchen counter and gets good results without a recording booth. Meet the super-hero of sound, Gerald McBoing-Boing, on Wikipedia. 
More after the jump.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Scullion

Photo courtesy Flickr

We find it convenient to wash dishes by hand. When the drying rack is full, the state of the dishpan is a telling sign of the state of our arteries. We usually eat nearly vegan meals that are enriched with olive oil. The odd steak or pork chop presents a greasy challenge that makes it clear just how much bad fat we have ingested. Not too much-the blood numbers are alright-but I have to double the amount of detergent it usually takes to get things clean. The dishpan indicator is good feedback.

In a self-indulgent moment a few years ago, I spent far too much money on a snazzy French wire dish rack on legs. It didn’t take long to realize that the rack enlarges the kitchen by adding an extra story to precious counter space. It’s stylishly in period with the room and really does grace the area where the dishes air dry in the most sanitary and efficient manner.

One collection of rectangular glass storage dishes is awkward to wash quickly. I found that the trusty photographer’s equipment dusting brush, a shaving brush on steroids, is as effective at getting those storage dishes clean as its colleague is at dusting the boom box and the floor between the balusters on the stairs.

-30-  More after the jump.

The Grace Of A Space

Photo courtesy Flickr

I’ve been on the Hill long enough to start comprehending architecture as a given quality of enclosed space. I’ve been in more than a few desperately expedient rooms in which furniture blocked the only window and bales of this and that set here and there frustrated the occupant’s motor sequences into madness.

Rarely have I been in a space that does not have at least minimal grace and integrity. Sometimes it takes a while to recognize the virtues of a given building, but it must be that licensing an architect mandates a degree of competence in design.

The in-house geek flooded his work room with a new batch of projects, and he’s spent the day tuning the space so he can clear it out again. This house has never been remodeled, and the room’s natural cross light was blocked by a stack of plastic flap-lid storage bins rising to the middle sash of one window.

Consider the street view when adjusting curtains. Over the decades, I’ve walked past many a dignified window that compromises the street scape with the rear view of a dresser or a partially effective crude curtain. Poverty is an undeniable factor in such arrangements, but too often, I fear, the poverty is visual and kinesthetic rather than financial. Sheets of black and white newsprint adhered with flour paste are preferable to an ugly blanket on a window. Stack excess furniture rather than blocking the view that will relieve stress, save electricity, and permit natural ventilation.

Writers who comment on wardrobe suggest dressing, then removing ornaments and elements bit by bit until a rational, elegant, functional minimum is achieved. I can’t see any reason not to manage a room the same way.

-30-  More after the jump.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Least Ugly Rain Barrel

Oil jar photo courtesy Flickr

I walked past a local mini-park the other day and discovered that some anonymous designer has literally lifted the ordinary rain barrel out of its stodginess. The new park’s garden shed catches rain water in a fifty gallon black and terra cotta colored former olive barrel from Greece. This one is set about two feet off the ground on a steel pipe pedestal, a simple and elegant solution for locating what is usually a clumsy and inconvenient amenity. Somehow, that barrel lost fifty visual pounds on its single galvanized high heel.

I love that the classic Greek vases so honored in museums were working containers. I also love that the models for the artists who produced them were local people from the port city of Piraeus (hope I got this right). With the shift to local food production, perhaps the Seattle art community can bring forth collectible containers of its own. Whatever the case, this town certainly eats a lot of olives.

-30-  More after the jump.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Photo courtesy Flickr
It took a few amazingly bitter, chilly late winter days for me to realize I needed a specialized hat for sitting at the laptop. Mr. Use’s downtown hat shop never fails. It took five minutes to snag a fake spotted cat lid and run the plastic.

I doubt that I will ever wear this hat on the street, except perhaps on Hallowe’en or Mardi Gras, but it’s doing its job. It’s kinda fun to match a hat to a room, and since there’s a significant profit from every degree the thermostat is lowered, the hat should pay for itself in a week.

Insulating mass on the head keeps the working shoulders free of bulky sleeves.

-30-  More after the jump.