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.
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.
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
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.
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 morethanplannedobsolescence.
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 nonreplaceableApple 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
There’s been a little trendbrewing 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.
Here’s why I made the second balance bike, and how: …more
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