Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Envy Of The World

The house dates from the period when national plumbing technology was the state of the art. In the first floor powder room, formerly a low-tech cold closet, sits an American Standard toilet that originally had a tank mounted close to the ceiling. 

There's a current low-flush toilet on the second floor. The twenties model downstairs is more efficient.

Sleek it is not, but it is a miracle of hydrology and straightforward design. I have fiddled with adding clean rocks to the tank to reduce water consumption. A recent visit from a plumber, the first in my thirty-six years with this fixture, left the mechanism adjusted for minimum consumption on a major flush. I finessed the system further by replacing the heavy tank lid with a simple flap of corrugated poly sign board edged with duct tape. 

For a minor flush, I can tip up the lid and release a cup of water from the tank by lifting the rod attached to the stopper.  -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


In the nineteenth century, mass public education made Everyman a scribe. In the late twentieth,  desktop computing made Everyperson a typographer. It's interesting to noodle around a font selection. In their way, fonts compete like popular songs. Search designer for a given font to gain insight into its back story.

I claim little expertise but enjoy looking at the work of Charles Bigelow and Chris Holmes, whose Lucida family of fonts appears to cover all typographic bases. I am unlikely to need the sophisticated capabilities of Lucida, but I value the preparedness and the designers' experience in calligraphy and hand printing, the ancestors of digital production. Bigelow's Seventies "Scientific American" article about the mathematics of digital type design was the first work in the field.

A brief foray into the history of contemporary font design brought up the wit and sass of the community of letters. -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Olympic Housekeeping

It's not as hard as it sounds. Just as political conventions command time while not requiring much attention, the sports marathon automatically reserves hours, or at least long minutes, that can be devoted to detailing areas of the room where the video monitor is located.

Keep your blood circulating by polishing brass switch plate covers, detailing window lock hardware, washing the insides of glass cupboard doors, editing kitchen inventory, going after the corners of the floor with pointed Q-tips, whatever. Every four years is enough for some tasks. -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Blanket Statement

The day it gets warm (Seattle has several each year) is the day to wash wool blankets. I contemplated a favorite tribal motif blanket from Oregon Rodeo Weavers, compared the price of the thing to the cost of dry cleaning it repeatedly, guessed that Nez Perce grandmothers would not tolerate dye that bleeds, shook the blanket out, and dunked it into a clean bathtub full of lukewarm water and weaving supply no-rinse detergent.

A few minutes later, I lifted the blanket into a dairy crate, drained the tub, did something else for an hour, and tipped the crate onto one corner to speed the last few drips.

I laid the blanket flat and square on clean matting in the attic. Three hours later it was dry. It took less hands' on time than walking to the cleaners, and the result is better, not to mention considerably cheaper. 

While not to everyone's taste, these blankets are the most hard-working and versatile furnishings in the house. Their cotton warp gives them a stiff enough hand to lend them architectural presence, while their first-quality wool weave makes them softly accommodating. I use them to cover benches, beds, and armchairs. I can eat a comfortable breakfast outdoors on a cool morning nestled in one as a warm and windproof robe.

Not people to throw money away, the tribes cut a worn blanket down into a vest or use it to make pillows or upholster furniture. Except for setting a hide on the floor in lieu of a rug, nothing says living in the West like an Oregon Rodeo blanket. -30
More after the jump.