A low-power HTPC running Boxee on linux 64 bit (and XP, sigh, brickbats to Netflix)
March 9, 2010, 1:22 pm by bottleman. Filed under: diy, reviews, software.

Last month I finally got sick of cleaning peanut butter off DVD’s. Between me and the 4.5 year old, there probably was a whole jar of the stuff inside the dvd player, and a corresponding amount of skipping. We’d turned to online streaming services like Hulu, which sat on remote servers and were invulnerable to the mess, but they tied up my laptop every time the kid wanted to watch Finding Nemo, or Super Structures.  Also, I didn’t enjoy the vibe that was building up, where there was no separation between the machine I use for work and the one I use for vegging out.

It was finally time to realize a scheme I’d been mulling for a while: making a tiny little home theater PC (HTPC) that would allow my household to go diskless.  Here’s how I did it and how it’s working — which is great, even if some providers of content and software seem determined to keep users stuck in the past.

I got a little Acer Aspire Revo R1600 computer.  …more



Beyond the kitchen triangle: saving work in the kitchen with some simple hacks
December 10, 2009, 3:28 pm by bottleman. Filed under: design, diy, simple living.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with kitchen efficiency.  Not green efficiency, but efficiency in terms of work. I would prefer to spend my time enjoying food, not preparing it or cleaning up.  Why does my mother-in-law’s kitchen seem like such a breeze to work in while my own kitchen felt so awkward?  And how can I save work without spending $20K-$100K on a major renovation?

I embarked on my own amateur analysis of kitchen flow and modded my kitchen to match.  My work began with this kitchen work flow diagram:

I’m not much of a graphic artist, but it succinctly shows why it can be so hard to do work efficiently in the kitchen: …more



The Real Oregon
September 4, 2009, 8:18 pm by bottleman. Filed under: photography.

Photo by egazelle of a volunteer at the recent Hood To Coast event.  You’ve got a lot that’s good about Oregon in this picture: someone who is not being paid, and yet is completely at ease standing in a burned over clearcut, in the mist, by a cone, with a backpack and a bullhorn — which they are not afraid to use.  :)



You must hear this
August 6, 2009, 9:42 am by bottleman. Filed under: films, inspiration, off-topic.

Ulrich Schnauss is my new hero.  And he goes really well with “spirited away”.  Just listen.



Most unlikely Justice League ever?
August 3, 2009, 8:45 pm by bottleman. Filed under: invasive species, kids, off-topic.

The Goat Justice League advocates and educates on behalf of urban goats, who can be pets and milk producers (or wanderers).  In contrast, the goat above was actually more of a professional, part of a weeding crew cleaning out a construction site in Seattle, according to the photog.  Thanks Courtney!



1000 miles on the Xtracycle
July 30, 2009, 11:49 am by bottleman. Filed under: simple living, transportation.

My family got its Xtracycle about a year ago, and I figure we’ve gone at least a thousand miles on it by now (the bike computer fritzed around mile 500, in December).  Everything I wrote about it in my review last year seems more true than ever: the cargo bike is simply the most meaningful single piece of “green” technology I’ve used.

We don’t need a private car anymore (we still use carsharing a few days a month to go out of town and on special errands), so we don’t have the impulse to do stupid life-sucking errands like you do when you own a car (my personal weaknesses:  going to the hardware store to buy 1 bolt, or to Burgerville for a monster snack). It’s so much more relaxing when you don’t do that stuff.

But still, we need to carry stuff, right? Here are a few things we’ve carried:

  • an army’s worth of groceries
  • a frat party’s worth of beer
  • a case of wine from TJ’s
  • a kid and his TWO bikes, while talking easily the whole way
  • adults as passengers — this is surprisingly romantic and hilarious
  • two 60-pound bags of concrete
  • and oodles more, as other riders can tell you.

Some days we’re competing for the bike; we almost need two.  This bike has actually made our life better.  Wow!



A new project: counting all the species in my yard
July 21, 2009, 4:40 pm by bottleman. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds.

Yup, I’m going to find and identify and write about them all, great AND small. The first one is a willowy beauty:

Read all about it at myspecies.wordpress.com .



I love those goofy b*st*rds: Ed Wood and Bela Legosi
June 18, 2009, 10:12 am by bottleman. Filed under: alien zoology, love those goofy b*st*rds.

You rarely see top-bottom split screens used in movies, but this scene makes me wonder why not.  Bela Legosi lords over a stock shot of city streets, in the classic transvestite liberation film, Glen or Glenda.  The world-weariness could apply to Solomon himself — if he had a morphine problem, anyway.



There are two kinds of music…
June 17, 2009, 8:11 am by bottleman. Filed under: alien zoology, explosions.

“… good and bad. I like both.” — Duke Ellington, apocryphal



A cube with a view
May 26, 2009, 10:36 pm by bottleman. Filed under: shout-outs, thank-you's.

It’s funny how you can get used to the most extraordinary things, taking the amazing for granted until someone threatens to take them away.

Twenty-ton airplanes fly, and we don’t blink an eye.  Lettuce seeds buried in the ground, angled every which way, somehow, amazingly, detect gravity to send their shoots straight up to the sky every time, and then we complain they’re not big enough to eat yet.  Mothers love us no matter what, and you know how we treat them.

And then there’s Cubespace.

Cubespace is a shared workspace so perfectly functional and Portlandesque I’ve rarely thought about how extraordinary it is.   The idea is “coworking“: an efficient yet social workspace arrangement for serious freelancers, a step up from working at the cafe.

I suppose someone could set up a collection of desks and phones and printers anywhere and call it coworking, but Cubespace’s proprietors Eva and David have truly generated a positive and comfortable atmosphere.  They know what a freelancer needs: reasonably priced office space, a tireless, fully automatic espresso machine (complimentary for paying customers), a quiet room for when you need to focus, and, for when you need a sugar rush, free Capn Crunch.  No wonder I feel at home there.

Now Cubespace is threatened with eviction.  I won’t bang the drum too loudly here, because David and Eva are negotiating with their landlord currently, and David has summarized the plot succintly here.  But I am encouraged that the news led to a flash flood of direct support, including a fundraising site that’s collected about $5000 in just a few days.  I won’t take Cubespace for granted any longer — nor the twenty-ton airplanes, nor the gravity-detecting lettuce shoots, nor the long-suffering moms. Well, maybe just one mom…

Update: June 2009.  Cubespace is closing, but it’s hard to say that it failed.  Have a good summer, guys.



Thank you Rebecca Gates
May 23, 2009, 12:22 pm by bottleman. Filed under: inspiration, off-topic, shout-outs.

15 years too late, I fall in love with this song. (Sound doesn’t start until about 24 seconds in.)

Some new stuff from the artist here and here.



An attic playroom
March 27, 2009, 9:36 am by bottleman. Filed under: design, diy, kids.

I refit this end of the attic in my 1922 house as a play area for my son.  I wanted this attic to continue to feel like an attic, even though I was finishing it off.  So I did the walls and ceiling in tongue & groove beadboard, a material which was also used when the house was built.  It has new fireproofing and insulation underneath.  Other features inlcude: marmoleum sheet scraps for flooring, with soft padding underneath; an antique star-mullioned window to suggest a sunset; a Velux roof window for emergency egress; low-temperature LED light fixtures; a verdant-brand thermostat with an occupancy sensor, controlling a “hydronic” baseboard heater; and a tent-sized nap bay.

    More pics on flickr.