The best environmental blogs: Sp through Zz, or the terrible secret of Worldchanging Treehugger
November 30, 2006, 11:52 am by bottleman. Filed under: best environmental blogs, reviews.

This was the week that reviewing environmental blogs finally got me down. So much of the same same same, and weirdly enough, it was all so UP! Everything was positive. Groovy. Smooth like butta. I decided it was time to be critical, or at least questioning, of a few of the most popular environmental blogs, Treehugger and Worldchanging.

Before I start throwing down, I have to give props to the sites that kept me awake and interested — those unexpected blossoms — as I struggled through the fields of same old same.

photo by flickr user BPC, used under Creative Commons, see

Most appreciated, schizophrenic, and heroic in its own way was tangledwing — a blog whose mysterious auteur provides, in each post, both a sweet professional high-resolution image (often sized for use as computer wallpaper) and a link to an environmental news story or two.

It’s a combination that’s bizarre at first but really grows on you. …more

My tiny house project: an extra foot makes a difference
November 29, 2006, 4:46 pm by bottleman. Filed under: design, my tiny house project, tiny houses.

I’ve often noticed that very small differences in dimensions can make a big difference in personal comfort. For example, any sink will feel uncomfortable to use without that little 10 or 15 centimeter kickspace at the bottom of the sink cabinet. Any obstruction to the eye or body can translate into a claustrophobic feeling, no matter how big the room.

The flip side of this is that if such obstructions can be reduced, even a small space can feel generous. If I may modestly offer my own office setup (not part of my tiny house project, though there is more about that later in this post) as an example:

picture of my office
This photo (taken from the building’s hall through the door) shows nearly the entire place, which is maybe 7 by 11 feet, except for the cot that occasionally occupies the unseen wall to the right.

Sure, to function as an office it could be smaller but my point is this is a relatively small space that feels roomy. I think it is partly because I’ve designed the desk (it’s a piece of birch plywood with a routered edge) in a shape that allows both the eye and the body to move unobstructed into the middle of the room. Once there, the shape encourages the eye to travel out the window.

I was feeling proud of this little design when I saw how a real pro architect had done a similar thing in our garage-to-granny-house conversion. …more

Thanksgiving toast (after two football games and four glasses of wine)
November 22, 2006, 5:12 pm by bottleman. Filed under: fall, holidays, invasive species.

You know what, dog? You are far more than an opportunistic commensalist to me.

You are ALL RIGHT, you know what I mean? You’re like, the ONLY holiday guest who gets JUST HOW FUNNY that story about the stupid squirrel is.

image of local dog laughing heartily

I promise to give you the whole turkey pan and take you camping again, as soon as we wake up from this trypto.. trypto.. STUFF.

Happy Thanksgiving!
(back with something of substance after the holiday)

My tiny house project: construction begins
November 17, 2006, 11:20 pm by bottleman. Filed under: my tiny house project, tiny houses.

One of the most basic ways of reducing your ecological footprint is to make your housing reasonably sized. So when I decided to convert my 280-sf detached garage to a “granny flat,” I thought my progressive and environmentally-minded city wouldn’t mind a bit. Well, I was wrong.

Nonetheless, I’m happy to announce that construction has begun, and I’ve got trash-filled pictures to prove it. First, ponder the dream: a vision of the way it’s supposed to look. Now, check out today’s reality:

front elevation photo of garage 2006-11-16

There’s clearly a lot of work to do. And in case you don’t believe the house is small, check out the relative scale of the dumpster to the right… we could almost put the whole house in it! (and perhaps we should?) …more

Macro attack
November 15, 2006, 5:06 pm by Jess. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds.

Benthic macroinvertebrates. They’re not actually that big. Not big enough to star in a horror movie (Attack of the Bottom-Dwelling Gargantuan Spineless Things?). But they’re visible to the naked eye, which is convenient for us. These aquatic creatures can tell us a lot about water quality. Some, when faced with pollution, gurgle, “Bring it on!” while others expire at the slightest dip in dissolved oxygen.

Recently I got to go out and scrounge up some of these critters. I and some other stream enthusiasts set up a complex mouse-trap-like mechanism, involving tubes, baubles, pulleys, bait, and suction, in the stream, then retreated while our prey ensnared themselves.

Really, we just plopped a net in the current and violently raked and scrubbed the creekbed to free the clinging critters into our net. The we emptied the net into a bucket and proceeded to sort the bugs in ice cube trays, examine them with nifty Transformer-like field microscopes, and identify them.

In a good stream, you’ll find biological diversity. The Big Three to look for are stonefly, mayfly, and caddisfly nymphs. If you have a variety of these guys, your stream has not yet died. Another important thing: these insects are a main food source for little salmon.

So, what did we find…?


Bottleworld 30th post extravaganza
November 11, 2006, 4:57 pm by bottleman. Filed under: bottleworld.

I guess Jess and I partied just a little too hard after the Dem’s big victories on Tuesday night, because I’m still feeling under the weather. What is the saying? “wine and liquor, never sicker”? “liquor and beer, in the clear”? “wine and coke, such a dope”? Whatever it is, I got it wrong.

photo by flickr user alexandralee, thanks! licensed under creative commons. see

Give us a few days to get up off the floor and return to finish off our battle of the environmental blogs. In the meantime, enjoy these fine posts from our hoary past: #1, and #2. Cheers!

I love those goofy b*st*rds: HUMANS!!
November 5, 2006, 4:04 am by bottleman. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds, photography.

In environmental circles, people tend to get a bad rap. And by “people,” I don’t just mean Republicans. I mean everybody. Homo sapiens. Us!

photo by flickr user mwlguide, licensed under creative commons. see

Lovable, damnable, hapless us. That train wreck of a species that shows up at your door and you don’t know what to do with. They look so sorry standing there in the rain, but you know if you let them inside before long your TV will be gone and your drawers rifled.

Won’t somebody come to our defense? Sing our song? Love the sinner, hate the sin?

Today I’m gonna try, with some help from the vast pool of artists at Flickr. …more

The best environmental blogs: the golden quarter
November 1, 2006, 2:59 am by Jess. Filed under: best environmental blogs, reviews.

We worry about pennies costing more than they’re worth, but at least we are not burdened by golden quarters. (But then, I guess, the quarters would cease being quarters and become a store of value. I’ll leave this for the economics blogs I reviewed this week.) The reason I say ‘golden quarter’ is that my sojourn into blogs monikered Id – Sl was truly inspiring, so I think this section of the alphabet must be enchanted.

Inspiration; thank you flickr member kandyjaxx