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.



    A thermostat that knows when you’re away (review of Verdant V8-BB-7S with occupancy sensor)
    March 16, 2009, 10:22 am by bottleman. Filed under: diy, energy, kids, making a difference, reviews.

    Resources used by housing and transportation dwarf those associated by other parts of our “lifestyle.” (Click here for geeky background data.) If you want to be green in deed as well as attitude, you’ve got to take on the way you get around, and the energy used by your house.

    In the house, technology can obviate the impulse to nobly suffer to save energy (remember President Carter in his sweater?). Probably the first thing I installed in my family’s house when I moved in was a programmable thermostat.  It saves energy by lowering the thermostat when I’m not likely to be home or wanting heat, and raise it when I know I want it to come on. No more running across a freezing floor at 5:30 AM to turn the heat on.

    Now comes a thermostat that takes this idea one step further …more



    An even tinier house
    December 31, 2008, 4:00 pm by bottleman. Filed under: design, diy, kids.

    Updated, expanded room in this post.



    Suck it in
    November 17, 2008, 10:12 pm by bottleman. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds, photography, shout-outs.

    Photo (and title) by Jess Dolan.



    Amazing dog photographs
    November 10, 2008, 11:03 pm by bottleman. Filed under: best environmental books, invasive species.

    It’s human nature to personify dogs, to relate to them like they’re people.  They have so many qualities we’d like to see more often.  Their joy is unfettered.  They have a positively inhuman alertness, protectiveness, and devotion (except possibly when the thief has brought steak tartar).  All for pennies a day! We forget they’re a different species, with their own expressions and rituals when they’re not playing Zelig.

    Photographer Michael Crouser is doing something remarkable in his new book, Dog Run.  He’s showing us dogs being dogs when they’re not paying attention to humans.  It’s a glimpse into an utterly alien world — beautiful, scary, strange.

    (Of course I am a little biased since Michael took the photographs for a book about knitting I co-wrote — check this pretty-as-heck shot out.  Anyway the guy is versatile, and — do I even have to say it? — both our books are so obviously perfect Christmas gifts :)



    Romance Texas style
    November 4, 2008, 8:34 am by bottleman. Filed under: holidays.

    Photo by Eden & James.  Don’t forget to vote!



    Cheap fix for overheating LCD TV — a USB powered fan
    November 2, 2008, 3:51 pm by bottleman. Filed under: diy.

    I’ve never been one to agree that thrift — as in trying to live “simpler” and “cheaper” on a purely personal basis — is much of a solution to global environmental challenges.*** Still, nothing motivates me to get thrifty more than planned obsolescence.

    It just offends my cheapo scion-of-a-depression-era-farmgirl-and-WASP-engineer sensibilities when perfectly good, or even quite nice, product designs are made of crappy materials and/or nonrepairable parts.  Many products seem designed to fail precisely 1 day after the warranty expires — take the nonreplaceable Apple iPod battery as the most famous example.

    My LCD HDTV seemed to be on a similar plan — failing for an obvious reason, just a few weeks after the warrranty expired.  Damned if I was going to be a victim and go out and buy another one.  Here’s how I fixed it. …more



    Making a DIY balance bike for $5
    October 13, 2008, 12:25 am by bottleman. Filed under: diy, kids, transportation.

    There’s been a little trend brewing in the world of kids’ bikes: skipping the training wheels and getting the kid to ride a “balance bike” or “runbike” instead.  It’s a pedal- and chain-free kids bike with a low seat so the feet can comfortably touch the ground.  Here are pictures of two: a fancy one for $315, and a functionally similar one I made recently for $5.

    diy balance bike and tester

    Here’s why I made the second balance bike, and how: …more



    Fatal exception 0E
    October 11, 2008, 12:24 am by bottleman. Filed under: software.

    I thought I had gotten over pitying Windows users (I’m bigger than that now), but then I read “How I learned to stop worrying and tolerate Vista.”  It is the saddest piece of tech journalism I have ever read.

    photo illustration by unknown blogger — original post has been lost

    The author, Stephen Williams, has been so worn down by experience that he has no positive expectations of Windows anymore, but no willingness to try alternatives either.  He projects a kind of bovine acceptance …more



    Again, sometimes words add nothing
    September 27, 2008, 11:31 pm by bottleman. Filed under: invasive species, off-topic, politics.

    Palin and Couric by the UN — from CBS News

    The American tradition of fine political rhetoric has an eloquent new starlet.  For the full artistic effect, watch all three segments: one, two, three.

    [UPDATE! The starlet’s performance was so spectacular that the writers of this comedy sketch decided they couldn’t do any better by way of satire: they just quoted her verbatim.]