Friday, July 19, 2013


Walking makes it easy to enjoy detail:)
More after the jump.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Keeping It Together

Photo courtesy Flickr

On July 9, I described an experimental paper handling system. One week in, it seems to be the key to the mint: this morning I thrashed my way through an urgent pile of paper and card-slips in three minutes flat. Organizing that amount and kind of paper not long ago would have taken me an afternoon.

-30-  More after the jump.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bag More

Photo courtesy Flickr

Living the mobile life on foot has produced a complex accumulation of side bags. The core unit holds a survival kit, bus money, my face, small electronics, and the odd ID card. The tote holds a small graphics studio. Copying the Navy Seals, I store each kit in a zippered nylon unit so that I can easily “build my pack” for a given occasion. 

The current practice of carrying more than one purse is colorful, interesting, flexible, and very practical.

I can't resist adding a story that network reporter Rita Braver told about ten years ago. She was waiting for a DC stoplight with her massive leather tote at her side. A homeless woman came up to her and said, "I know a place where you can stay tonight."

-30-  More after the jump.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In The Bag

Photo courtesy Flickr

I first became dimly aware of the art of the handbag during the “dress for success” period of the Seventies. Until then, and for much of the time since, my idea of a purse was a wallet slim enough to tuck into the pocket of my jeans.

At the dawn of my realization that there are people to whom a purse is a major signal, as in that rock and roll song, I window-shopped Coach bags and concluded that it was stupid for me to carry around a three-figure accessory that would be easy to snatch. At the time, that would have been a dim practice.

In the years since, I converted to pedestrian and found that a pocket wallet combined with an under-seat sized rolling backpack is a dynamite combination for foot-powered errands. The rig doesn’t impress anyone, as far as I can tell. To that combination, I add a slash-proof travel purse from the Great Big Hiking Co-op. My skater checked it out a while ago and commented, “I guess they’d have to knock you down, now.” He’s probably right, but it’s relaxing to carry something that I can confidently sling behind my shoulder. The travel purse is as stylish and dashing as carefully configured walking shoes.

I’d been planning to bus to the nearest Original Import Chain to pick up a loud and proud East Indian shopping tote fabricated out of re-purposed rice (or something) bags. That’s still a good idea, I think, but a recent visit to the Seattle Art Museum showing of “Future Fashion” from Japan trumped plastic.

From time to time in the blog I make noises about the significance of light weight, high tech, and small space as factors in design. The combination has a way of revolutionizing an application: Sony’s original Walkman tape recorder unchained music lovers from their living room stereo. I own a dumb phone, but a smart one seems like another good example.

My companion at SAM treated me to a pleated polyester tote bag woven in blue violet crossed by red violet. It self-folds into a narrow strip and cost a ridiculous amount of money for a shopping tote. It’s ridiculously cheap for a killer bag that can also be folded into a hat and is featherweight, high tech, and compact. I could clip it to dowager glasses holders and wear it as a necklace.

Ines de la Fressange cracked the handbag code: the right one makes an outfit look good. My first tour of the street with the new shopper got rave reviews. 


More after the jump.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Art Of The Pour Flush

Photo courtesy Flickr

While the upstairs toilet is a new pressurized model that does not lend itself to a convenient gray-water flush, the vintage model off the kitchen is an ace. It’s been off line for a couple of decades when I was using the room for other things, but the old toilet is back in action, and it’s impressive how well it performs.

Originally, there was a classic wall-mounted tank high above the stool, but it was replaced with a lower version sometime around 1930. The tank holds ten gallons. Early on, I wrapped a brick in aluminum foil (to control crumbs) and set it in the reservoir. Adding rocks until the flush failed and then backing off a rock or two established a system that flushed with the same amount of water as the high-tech version upstairs: one and a half gallons.

It turns out that the device flushes adequately with even less water. I set a vintage bucket in the sink and collect hand-washing water. With the right aim and velocity (front and center, paying attention) I can pour-flush waste with less than a quart of water.

-30-  More after the jump.