Sunday, July 27, 2008

Always thinking of my peeps

In my ongoing efforts to maintain a modicum of respect amongst my friends the fashionistas, I offer up the following link.

That is all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Put the water down and no one will get hurt

Here's another cycle of three, gang, and it involves the mother of all chemical bonds: H-2-O.

Item the First: we did some recreational plumbing and created quite a display here at Meanwhile Manor. We call our installation "Water on a Perch."

Check back for a very detailed—i.e., possible boring—post on the creation of said plumbing contraption. The purpose of this project was to collect rainwater for the garden and flowers. The barrels are all connected and there is a hose attached that goes off to the veggie beds. We worked on it the entire 4th of July weekend. The date stands out because it hasn't rained since and all these barrels sit empty. I believe Poseidon must be giggling his gills off. We hustled to get all the pipes connected and checked for leaks for what? For three solid weeks of nothing but sun. Remind me of this whining when I'm sobbing about being soggy during the winter.

Items that overlap the First: I'm reading Bottlemania, a pleasant little tome about the privatization of water. If you think the battles over oil are a little extreme, just wait a smidge longer for the water wars, gang. Humans can't live without water. So why do we allow corporations to own it? I can own this piece of land but, Mr. Nestlé, what happens when your well over there sucks our common aquifer dry? Do I have any recourse? How far underground does the law reach? Is it actually "my" water in the aquifer that you have stolen/borrowed/slapped a label on and sold? What are the surrounding towns going to do when the public water tower is dry and you have all the water sitting in little plastic bottles, available for over twenty times the price?

I'm eagerly waiting for my barrels to fill while I ponder the moral tangle that is the right to not be thirsty. I'm feeling all righteous with my bad ol' self. I'm waiting for a drizzle in which I can do a happy dance. I'm calculating just what it is I will be collecting: the Monolith garage is about 30x30 feet and one inch of rain results in 561 gallons of water coming off that roof. Gee, if I only had a barrel to store it in. Well, I now have five barrels and see the system increasing to 12 barrels for reasons of symmetry and volume.
The T then brought this article to my attention and therein lies the rub.

Item the Third: Washington state has an "archaic" law that is poorly defined and may result in my next posting coming from the Big House, thanks to my barrels. From the state Dept. of Ecology site:

  • (link) The waters of Washington State collectively belong to the public and cannot be owned by any one individual or group. Instead, individuals or groups may be granted rights to use them. A water right is a legal authorization to use a predefined quantity of public water for a designated purpose. This purpose must qualify as a beneficial use. Beneficial use involves the application of a reasonable quantity of water to a non-wasteful use, such as irrigation, domestic water supply, or power generation, to name a few. An average household uses about 300 gallons of water per day.
  • (link) Washington State, like most of the rest of the western United States follows the Prior Appropriation Doctrine, the major tenet being first in time, first in right. State law defines water resources as “all water above, upon, or beneath the surface of the earth, located within the state.” RCW 43.27A.020. Rainwater is therefore legally considered a water resource of the State.
Where things really get fuzzy is when you ask "how much water can I collect to stay off the radar of The Man?" At what point do I go from doing a resourceful thing that is within my rights because it is beneficial to committing a crime because the water belongs to the state? Is it the addition of the sixth barrel that will bring the authorities? Granted, the measurement may be different for me here just east of the Hoh Rainforest than it is for the farmers in central Washington where the land is irrigable only because of the Columbia River. I see now the difficulty in writing a single state law when the state is split like Sybil.

Well, I'm off to check the forecast. Other link(s) for your perusal:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Looking a little parched

Here's an update for all you foliage fans out there. I checked in on the car tuft and it's looking a little dry. It's taking a lot of will-power on my part to not water the little fella' but I want to see how far it can get on its own. I did notice a few weeks back—during the rainy season—the tuft had begun to seed. Now I'm wondering if it is going to survive July. In an effort to not directly assist or interfere with tuft's survival, I have begun looking for parking spots that in the shade or in the path of lawn sprinklers. You know, accidental watering. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My, that plant is green

Our little garden plot is FINALLY a success! After three years of planting seeds and starter plants only to watch them shrivel up and die, we are at long last eating veggies we have grown ourselves! Woo-and-Hoo, baby!

So what did we do different this year as compared to other years? Well, for starters, I have it through my thick head at long last that my own level of thirst is in no way related to the need of the plants for water. Just because I am lounging on my stoop enjoying the cooling of the sun and listening to the twittering of the birds in all comfort and ease, I should not project this feeling of calm and peace onto the plants who may very well be gasping for water. So, tips #1 and #2 and #3 for all you aspirant farmers out there: Water, water and then water some more.

The other thing we did different this year was add our own compost to the soil mix. We started the garden box three years ago with a bag of compost, a bag of (something else I cannot remember now) and many purchased bags of soil/dirt/potting mixture. We needed to haul in all the dirt-type stuff because our entire 50'x150' city plot is nothing but backfill from the foundation hole. My little joke yesterday about mowing the lawn in my barefeet? Ain't gonna happen, folks—at least not until the high priest teaches me how to walk across burning coals with no shoes on. Now that I think about it, it is probably a good thing I use a non-electric sheep to mow the lawn. If I was running something with an engine, I might very well be flinging projectiles from my lawn through the neighbors' windows. A lush carpet my yard is not. Where was I? Oh yes! Our compost.

Our compost is a lush rich mix of all the veggies from years past that were lovingly selected, purchased, transported to our home only to be abandoned in the veggie drawer to rot. In addition to these former plants, the major ingredient in our compost comes from our morning mugs: coffee grounds and tea leaves. A little mental math tells us that it is too early in the morning for me to try to compute anything so let's go with the round figure of tons of coffee and tea sitting in the compost bin. We have some happy, happy worms in that bin. They only have to crawl over to the next deposit of kitchen refugees and they get a jolt of chemical glee that keeps 'em gnawing and digesting and excreting with a sparkle in their eye ... eyes? ... do worms have optical organs?

Anyway, I believe that the main reason our veggie patch is doing so well this year is because the plants are caffeinated from the compost!! The broccoli is HUGE—and it hums! The spring peas are multitudinous—and I swear the buds wink at me when I walk by. That unknown root plant is monstrous—I'm afraid to pick it. Could it have limbs? The lettuce plant is trying to keep up with the broccoli but I fear the broccoli have formed a gang and beat up on the lettuce when my back is turned. Actually, we were so caught off guard by successful plants that we crammed things in a little too tightly when planting. Honestly, I didn't know broccoli could get that big so I think we planted more in the box than we should have. Thus, I now have guilt over setting up the lettuce to be the runt of the garden. sigh

I'm off to water the veggie patch and admire the results thus far and keep my fingers and toes out of the reach of the broccoli gang.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I've been updated

Thank you, St Steve, for releasing the new gadgets in July when I am not teaching classes full-time and can devote all my hours to scrolling and pinching and downloading and playing and ... and ... forgetting to eat and giving up bathing and ignoring the litterboxes. For two years in a row, July has been a lost month.

What a good time to be alive.

Some of you may have noticed the addition of a Twitter link on this page (it's at the left, see it?). I started Twittering in a feeble attempt to fend off the junkie twitching I was going through leading up to July 11th, Day of iUpdate. Now I'm not sure what to do with Twitter. I read somewhere that tweets fill the moments between blog posts. I'm wondering if you really want to know that I'm picking grass out from between my toes because I tried to mow the lawn barefooted. I find myself hesitating to tweet because of an information overload at the readers' end. How much is too much?

I am interpreting my hesitation as a sign of my age—my actual age, not the age I live in. Younger pups behind me are all about the tweets and the umpteen other forms of filling in every silent moment when they are supposedly alone with themselves. I wonder if they hesitate to post anything or worry about approaching inanity. I wonder how they define inanity.

I follow two tweeters (I'm not even sure if that is the correct title) who I think creatively use Twitter and avoid inanity and overload. One is sockamillion, who is linked in my sidebar. The post that sucked me in was "A plastic bag! Quick! Everyone this way before it gets us all!" If you've never seen a cat inadvertently back out of a bag with handles via a different route than it went in, then you have no idea what you're missing and a certain edge to sockamillion's fear is dulled. sockamillion is by no means overload (one a day) and is definitely funny (I've got to get into the basement. RIGHT. NOW.) The tweeter has a balance of funny and just enough. Another Tweet I follow is posted by a woman who posts only in haiku. I appreciate the challenge in that.

But what could I possibly tweet about that is valuable in some way—and I'm open to very broad interpretations here. My hesitation and nervousness regarding inanity has brought my blogging to a halt as well. Why say anything? (Is it possible the narcissist in me has low self-esteem?) Who cares? Well, with 3,000+ hits on this page in three years either one very, very, very obsessive individual checks in on my ramblings or a few dedicated souls or many, many, many random clickers.

So I'm off to ponder more about where my definition of "too much" falls. And—of course—to check up on the latest batch of iPhone Applications.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Chronotopic Anamorphosis from Marginalia Project on Vimeo.

This is very cool. Be sure to watch the third segment (after that, the screen is black.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New Adventure

We have started down the path of our home remodel. It is both exciting and terrifying. Exciting because the end will be glorious—I only hope to live long enough to fully enjoy it (more on that in a moment). It is terrifying because the scope of the work we want to do is, uh, massive.

Step One was to call in a designer to help us determine which items on our wish list are feasible and which are fantasy. To his credit, designer one whom we will call George, did not laugh at my wish list item of a firepole from the upstairs bedroom to the fridge. In fact, he claim to have integrated one in a previous proposal which was ultimately rejected by the client. Score one point for George. While reviewing our wish list—which is a huge poster-size post-it note hanging in the living room, btw—he asked what we meant by "babyproof the house." I told him that item could be disregarded since none have gotten in yet. (Actually, it was added by a visiting friend who didn't seem to think our random piles of straightpins were safe for her young 'un.)

We knew the remodel fell into the category of massive undertaking when George said he was "ethically bound to tell you it would be cheaper to raze the house and build new rather than try to retrofit" our wish list.

This is where the question of my mortality comes in to play. The T and I do not see ourselves taking out a loan to pay for this all at once. Rather, we have a pile of cash now and we will use it as best we can to pay various tradespeople like carpenters, electricians and plumbers to do major things like take out a bearing wall, rewire the house and possibly move a toilet or two. Then we will jump in with our own tools and do as much as we can while our cash reserves build up again. Taking this approach, it may cost us more to then call the electrician to come back and rewire another section of the house rather than doing all the wiring all at once. But to do all the wiring may mean having all the walls open at once and I don't see us able to live in the space during the remodel.

When we sat down with designer two, whom we will call Brien, he asked us up front what kind of money we wanted to spend on this project. He asked this while scanning the previously mentioned poster of ideas. We said we had 20 years to spend on the project since we're not going anywhere. I'm not sure how he took this. Either we're adventurous or completely insane. It was tough to tell what his eyes were saying.

Both designers are off pondering what they can do with this space. Stay tuned for when the results start rolling in.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Time to eat out

The following is an excerpt from a recipe I will decidedly NOT be
trying out:
Preheat oven to 500-degrees.
And then what? Fire up the nuclear reactor to make the molten dip?
Maybe Martha or Emeril has an oven appropriate for this superheated
dish but I do not. In fact, I knew my oven was on the list of future
upgrades when cheese from a pizza melted over the tray and landed on
the heating element. I knew this happened because the resulting smoke
came through the burners on the stove top. Insulated it is not. I
wonder how close to 500-degrees the interior could get, seeing as this
oven has a vent feature not listed in the manual.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The view in the looking glass

A few bytes ago, I was listening to The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein. This book is still with me as I wander through my gadget happy home. He wrote this in 1957 and the story involves--I won't give anything away--time travel, both forwards and backwards. Before the main character figures out how to time travel, we hear about his life as an engineer who loves to create gizmos to make daily tasks chores no more. For example, the one that makes his company a success is a window washing robot.

Throughout the story, we hear of his other ideas for gadgets that will help women (!) by relieving the burden of domestic engineering. There is the robot that will vacuum independently and return to its hut for recharging after its daily rounds, during which it has carefully and tactfully avoided rooms where humans are socializing. I would like to take this time to reflect on Heinlein's ability to predict the Roomba while my own scurries away after bouncing off my foot and puttering away to suck up the paw posse's daily hair droppings. Since the main character spends a good deal of time drawing his plans for future inventions, he ponders about how this arduous task of putting pencil to paper can be eased. Heinlein also foresaw CAD systems (and, by default, the downfall of superb penmanship amongst designers and architects).

The one gadget of the era when Heinlein lived which does not get upgraded in the future he writes about is the electric typewriter. My lack of history knowledge harms my understanding here. Was the electric typewriter such a huge advancement that it cannot be seen past? Living now, I can see the progression from typewriter to electric typewriter to the use of a keyboard to blog. OK, I admit that progression is sketchy at best and even now the keyboard is being left behind for sketchpads and other interfaces with which to communicate with a personal computer. The steps from typewriter to computer is not obvious. In the story, the next step is a verbal interface; the dictation turned to type by the electric typewriter that is spoken to.

My question is this: was the electric typewriter such a breakthrough that even Heinlein was blinded to further evolution in the niche it filled? Sputnik hadn't yet beeped at the time of publication so the focus on technology and education geared toward cranking out engineers and scientists hadn't bloomed. Computing and computers may still have seemed like alchemy and magic icons to John and Jane Doe even though computers helped end WWII when used to break codes (only one use of computers, I know). But even when the main character is day-dreaming about his utopian home managed by a myriad of robots, an electric typewriter is mentioned. I found it fascinating as I was listening to the book and am very curious about the writer's context as he was writing the book.

I guess I'm off to the library for some tome entitled: Life in the Fantastic '50s: It was So Much More than a Beaver and his Mother's Pearls!