2.29.2012

Nice old wringer

So, as I mentioned in my wax tablet post, I'm a fan of those old school things that probably seem outdated and unnecessarily complicated in this day and age.

Something about laundry... is that I hate it. Despite the amazing and convenient breakthroughs in laundry doing that supposedly make it quick and painless, I just hate it. It's the biggest task to me! Oddly though, when you make it harder and more involved, I don't seem to mind it. I don't know what the logic is, but washing my clothes by hand in a bucket with a plunger-style agitator feels kinda satisfying. Like, tossing in a few items and plunging a few minutes feels relaxing. Using a machine just feels like a huge production. Trust me when I say that I know that sounds backwards. Take home message: I don't know why, but I like hand washing clothes.

I don't like wringing them though. By hand it's really tiring and they never get very dry. So I had plans to get a wringer of my own when my dad heard me talking about washing by hand and brought in his old gran's wringer to show me. So I insisted it now belonged to me cause I'm rude like that.



I didn't get much of a shot of it first because I was just eager to jump right in and clean it up. You can see the line between where the roller is white and where it's the color it was when he gave it to me.


After a really gross pre-lim washing in which I tried to not imagine what kind of 80 year old filth was on this thing...




...he gave me the idea to just go take it apart and use those intense steel brushes on a drill to buff up the parts.



And after a crash course - which it turns out I didn't really need because I've used a drill plenty and it's not any more complicated than running the bristles over the parts - I took over.



It's pretty damn amazing, the difference it was making.


Only, as it turns out, there are quite a few parts and that shit was going to take a long time. Especially when some of them needed a steel brush and elbow grease. x...x


My dirt says hello.


This shit is gross. I should have worn gloves. Admittedly, the idea of just shelling out the 170$ for a new one is kind of sounding like a not altogether terrible idea, but after the dust and surface rust is removed, this will probably be a lot sturdier and more quality than current models. x....x



And now, after cleaning it all up, I'll need to construct some kind of a stand with no construction skills. GO ME.

All this freaking work just so I can spend more time and work harder on washing clothes : D But what can I say? It's actually sort of relaxing. And hand washing really does help things last longer... I suppose that can be my excuse. And, I suppose, by restoring and repairing the antique, rather than buying new, it's a handy dandy opportunity to learn some new stuff like using steel brushes, taking things apart and putting them together, and doing some minor construction. So that's not all bad!

Anyway, I'm still just wringing by hand at the moment, but I'll post a pic when I get it all going : D Because you care about my laundry. But it's my blog, so there.

2.28.2012

YAHOO!















I've recovered all 64,000+ words! Of course, not in digital format. It's in physical form so I'll need to retype about 10,000 words of it, but I'd much rather retype a few words than have nothing!




I even have a new writing corner with a comfy, squishy chair and my own lamp. CLASSEH. Now to make it through re-reading the manuscript, making some tweaks, and then continuing on!

2.23.2012

Garbage Box Hack of Junk Drawer Magic

On a recent post I reviewed a speaker I got, just in case anyone was ever searching the web for a review of it. The package had a ton of boxes. Flora was 'fixing' one with tools when I was packing up and it gave me the idea to make it a little more interactive and keep it instead of recycling it.




Of course, I also could have just left well enough alone and let her have her imagination, but the chance to screw around with junk made me excited. ;...; And I need joy in my life too.



First thing I noticed was that the silver box that had the gendered/heteronormative pictures on it reminded me of little app icons so if I cut that part out and put it on the black box, maybe it could be a pretend iPod.


But I wanted it to be something she could 'fix' and repair primarily, so I cut open the back of the box I intended to use and looped in a bunch of rubber band 'wires' and chains of paperclips, threaded beads made of cut up bubble tea straw, and a variety of junk I found in my parents' junk drawer. I figured she could get in there and untangle, cut, restring, or otherwise mess with the contents with her tools and fingers.



After filling it up with "electronic guts", I spotted one of those old battery candles with the fake flame pulled off and missing. It's a perfectly good LED, so I figured I'd cut a hole in the front of the box and mount the candle inside.


The next thing I found was a small keychain LED video screen that was begging to be stuck in.


The threaded loops and 'guts' were taped down just to keep them from twisting around and showing out from behind the "app icon" cutout I was going to use. But that meant I couldn't fit the screen above the "apps" anymore.


So I made the LCD screen have a flip up window in front of it and scooted over the "apps" as much as I could, putting the LED in the corner. I cut a slit in the top and added a hair pin...


... and a mock plug from rubber bands and a wall safety plug I found hidden in the back of the drawer under some old post-its.


This thing was basically starting to look like a wild technology ... thing. And I was thinking... man, I should make this thing again, but build a really cool custom box and get some actual wiring and.... and... then I decided I needed to just stop and give it to my kid already. She was starting to tug at my arm and ask for it.




First she "repaired" it. I couldn't get any pictures of her stabbing it with screw drivers because she was blurring : D



Then she held it up, looked in the LCD screen box and told me she was taking my picture. Apparently it's a camera. That's cool. I could see it being a camera.




I cut a hole in the top for a camera viewthingy and she spun it around and stopped blinding herself with the LCD screen.

If it's really a camera, I should really spin the design around and put the LCD in the back for a live view mode and pop a little twist on macro lens from my camera kit onto the front in place of the "apps" and yada yada... but she's a kid. And kids don't care. And as long as she's playing with it and fixing it, I could have a Trogdor arm coming out the side and it'd be fine. Maybe when she "fixes" the box to death with her hammer, I'll rebuild it EVEN COOLER.




Anywho... when it -does- break, everything in it can be repurposed, returned to the junk drawer, or composted. It's a no junk toy! What fun. :3 I love toys.

Review:: ThinkGeek's Aluminum Sound Tube MP3 Speaker

I like reviews. I don't think I buy a single thing without reading extensive reviews on it. Sometimes, when products lack reviews on retail sites, you can find something on a blog somewhere in the bowels of the internet. I've relied on random bloggers more than once for purchase advice.

So on that vein, the following item, found at Think Geek, was lacking in reviews and information besides "we at ThinkGeek like this item we want you to buy!" and so I thought I'd do my part for the review... uh... ness. Of... the internet. SO! Here we go!




I recently bought a speaker for my mp3 player. I've never purchased a speaker before so I had no idea what would be considered a good price or good performance. All I knew was my method of strapping my iPod under my bra strap while driving in the car in hopes of hearing a few notes here and there wasn't a really satisfying way to listen to music and that speakers are supposed to help with that kind of problem. Go fig.

Because I had a gift card to Think Geek, that meant that's where I was going to go shopping for my speaker. While scoping their choices, they stated that their Aluminum Sound Tube Speaker was even louder than their X-mini Capsule Speakers. Both were comparable in price (I got the Aluminum Tube on clearance for 29.99$ USD) and both claimed to have impressive sound for a small size, but I liked the Tube's optional accessories. More on those later.






Le box.






Le interior boxes. ...if that kind of thing matters to you.












Box one has the "sport" strap, which allows you to wear the speaker on your body. It only has a pocket for the tube, not for your mp3 player you're connecting it to, which might be kind of a bummer, except the tube is technically also an mp3 player in its own right so it isn't technically necessary to have an attached mp3 player that you'd need a pocket for at all times. More on that later.

The second piece is a bicycle handle attachment. It attaches with a velcro strap, so I'm not sure that it might not slip around without some kind of strip of something to create a little grip.

All that aside, though, really? A bike attachment? Who does that? I don't really know what kind of asshole feels they need to pedal down the street blasting music nobody else cares about. Of course, I say that, but now that I -have- a bike adapter I'm sure I'll be that asshole at least once or twice. Maybe I could get really cruel and pedal around blasting Twilight: the audio book. ...You know, if I felt like being hated by sane people.

Anyway, both pieces are of an average-not impressive, not horrific-quality.


(Here's a shot of wearing options, via the manual paper.)



Box 2 is what you actually care about, I'm sure. The tube itself is not light and tinny, but neither is it a brick. It feels substantial.

The cord has dual hookups- one that can plug into an mp3 player as well as a USB so you can use them to augment your laptop speakers. They claim you can plug this into almost any device, so long as the plugs are compatible. The third adapter on the cord is to go into the wall charger.

The memory stick looking dealie there is actually a micro SD card adapter for a computer. The system comes with a 2gig card that you can put your own music on so it will function as a stand-alone mp3 player as well.



(As a bonus, the visuals on Box 2 remind us that people doing activities are man figures unless there's cooking or pushing strollers involved. Then they're women. Also, couples on walks must be heterosexual. ...AT EVERY TURN YOU MUST BE TOLD WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE NORMAL AND EXPECTED OF YOUR GENDER OR SEXUALITY. Even your mp3 box is going to enforce this shit. Get with the program, people.)



The tube has very few buttons, but they work by either touching them once for one function, or holding them down for another.


(You should probably be able to zoom this picture if you click on it. And if you're the sort of person who really wants to read instructions instead of just jab things wildly until it does what you want.)


Flip open the silicone-y kinda flap for micro SD and charge port.


(Teeny! : D SPARKLE!)


(Here's a shot of the specs, if anyone is curious.)



Size wise, it's about yea big. Not that you really know how big my hand is. I mean, my hand could be basically any size. How would you know? I guess you could say it's about as bit around as a tube of toothpaste, but obviously not as long.... Never mind. Just read the specs above.



The speaker is in the side opposite the controls.



Now, upon my scanning over the new item, I see this GLARING ugly sticker on the side. Wow. And of course it's that kind that won't peel off. Ever.


SO I TAKE MIGHTY BUNNY REVENGE ON IT and the Made In sticker is no more. I crave some sparkly glitter stuff to put on there. (I will go nuts in my art studio with this thing in short order. Bunnies are just the beginning!)



SOUND::


It seems to have a lot of range in the low end. Like it has plenty of variety of quiets, most probably not very usable unless you're listening to songs or sounds for sleep.

It was at about 3/4 volume before I felt like it was very realistic listening volume. Turning it all the way up quickly jumped the sound up to something pretty substantial for something the size it is. Most importantly to me, it didn't rattle or sound like I was breaking the thing to have it on full blast either.

The sound quality was fairly rich. I think the depth of bass tones was more than I expected from a small tube. Is it the same as a set of massive speakers? No. But have I heard shittier sound quality? Oh god, yes. Listening to this wasn't bad at all. I didn't feel like I was missing out on the intricacies of the music because of poor speaker quality- you know... the way my iPod normally sounds with its own speakers.



I brought out my laptop, which is an MSI somethingorother with Dynaudio. The speakers are pretty decent. It beats the pants off any laptop I've ever personally experienced. It gets way louder and stays way clearer than even my desktop computer's speakers so I figured I'd compare the two.


Putting them both on at the same time, putting them each on full blast, neither the laptop nor the speaker drowned the other out. The speaker held its own. But that didn't exactly tell me how it'd work in real life use so I figured I'd try it in the car, which is really what I want it to be capable of performing in.



CAR TEST::

I wanted a really beast car to try it in so I got in my dad's nasty, dirty, evil 1995 Ford Explorer.

It was raining heavily and I took the car onto a gravel road and drove as fast as I felt was safe to try to get as noisy an interior as I could, but the speaker performed. And, being a person of a bra-wearing persuasion, I also tried tucking it under the strap the way I used to do with my iPod alone and it was even more fabulous. I conclude you could likely even take this thing in an old VW and enjoy your music.

COUCH TEST::

The sound was pretty good in the kitchen with it sitting on the stone counter tops. I worried it might vibrate and rattle against a hard surface, but nada. In the car, there was too much additional noise to pick up on the subtleties of sound quality other than to understand I was hearing the song the way it was generally meant to be heard. But sitting on the couch, where I figured it wouldn't be a problem, I actually felt like the sound was less clear.

Not to say that it was terrible, but it's like the softness of the couch absorbed some of the sound and made the quality a little unnatural. I think it sounds more pure when you have the speaker laying on a hard surface- or better yet- when it's hanging or dangling by its cord somehow.

PARTY/VS. TELEVISION TEST::

Purely volume wise, the speaker can compete with a television and could let people conversing in a room have background music. When I have the speaker on the table in front of me, or on the couch next to me, I don't enjoy it at full volume. It's just too loud. That is probably good news for someone wondering if they could have a room full of people able to hear something from this speaker.

Now, whether or not it'd be -enjoyable- as background music at a party, I'm not sure. I think a big part of whether or not you'll be able to use the speaker for background music while other activities are going on will have to do with the quality of the mp3 or sound file you have. Lower quality songs definitely suffer more coming out of the tube than high quality ones. Some of it is just going to be personal taste though- as, for example, I can't stand even slightly tinny sounding music going on if there's other stuff happening at the same time. It feels like two things struggling for attention rather than a seamless joining of conversation and soft music. But maybe not everyone is that sensitive.

Lowering the volume slightly improves sound quality somewhat, but then you risk it not being quite loud enough to fill a room. So... volumewise, it's capable of filling a room with activities going on in it. For the best quality though, I'd assume a more substantial, plug in, mp3 player dock with full speakers would be a better choice for entertaining with music.



All the accessories, minus the tube, fit in the plastic box with the help of a rubber band to keep it popping open. That helps cut down on packaging waste. I also made a toy camera from the other box pieces to reduce the garbage and recycling produced by the item's packaging. See it here.


Take home message::

This tube speaker seems like it'll be great for personal use. It has the added benefit of the equipment that'll help you hook it up to yourself or your ride so you can be out and about. It's great for the stand-alone mp3 option too. The sound is a HELL of a lot better than may be coming out of your mp3 player's existing speaker and you don't have to fuss with ear phones to feel like your ears are really being filled when you use it.

There are minor changes in quality when it's resting on soft surfaces, versus hard or hanging free, but not enough that it would deter me from recommending it for personal use.

Battery life seems great. Although I can't speak for durability or lastability yet, so far I am not at all displeased.

YAY REVIEW.



CLICK HERE FOR THE BOX HACK : D

2.22.2012

New Leaf Cottage floorplan + The Training Wheel Cabin

So, back on this post, I mentioned that I'm looking to build a cob cottage. I know exactly what my cottage looks like in my mind. I swear, I could walk through it. As such, I've even already named it the New Leaf Cottage.




The main house ranks at between 195 and 205 square feet. It's really too hard to judge perfectly when there are curves involved. Also because it's only on paper. : D It's comprised of the 'master' bedroom- which is more like a gnome cupboard- a sitting area, kitchen with flip up dining, pantry, full bath, and a second bedroom in a loft.



The second house, which contains the art and writing studio and the gaming den with a study area comes in at gently under 200 square feet. It will have a substantial outdoor patio space.


The main bedroom's cupboard and closet design with bed area enclosed behind a cupboard.

Seating area, looking into the kitchen with a space saving staircase and half ladder to the loft.

The flip-up dining table has storage within the cabinet for chairs. The pantry will have floor to ceiling shelving built into the cob.

 The bath will be more ornamental with shaped cubbies and relief work. I'm splurging on a claw foot slipper tub! There will be no plumbed sink, using instead a wash basin style area and we'll be using a Separett composting toilet. All bath water will be diverted to a local grey water system that will feed our ornamental plants. I'm hoping by then I won't be killing plants, anyway.

 The loft will be relatively sizable, compared to the rest of the house, having plenty of room for toy playing for the kid.

 On the lower ceiling end of the loft, there will be a sculpted bench and shelving area for book reading with a hidden cabinet in the wall.

The second house den area has a sculpted couch with plenty of shelving and windows arranged just so to allow for gaming without terrible glare. (And yes, one can be a water-saving hippy wanna-be and still make use of a gaming room : D)

 Large shelving next to the door will store toys on the lower half and school supplies for supplemental home-learning activities on the top. The arch looks into my studio, which I only didn't draw because it'd be a mess of shelving to hold all of my supply tubs.

Yes, I have even thought out the layout in such detail that I even know where our built-in shoe storage will be. To the right of the den door, under the window! YAY!



This is our location! I know my bio says my dream is a tiny house in Victoria, B.C., but like I'm going to turn up an opportunity for free building land close to family and modern conveniences??

In my mind, there will be bees in the far, back right corner, the houses in the open area, maybe some bamboo as a view blocker for the house across the service road, and then I'll tear up as much grass as I can and start planting functional food gardens. My partner and I want 2 sheep, rabbits to feed a worm composter setup, and ducks for fertilization and pest control. There are already chickens in the yard.


But... in the mean time...

...we have to have somewhere as a base of operation to live in while we collect building supplies and wait for appropriate building weather. Enter The Training Wheel Cabin, a.k.a. an abandoned, tiny ass shed that needs some help. (Note the pile of windows! : D I also just got my hands on a box and a half of hardwood snap together flooring and a box of large tiles fo FREE : D )

This is it. Structurally it's alright, but it's pretty damn grim. Still, I think a little work will go a long way and I could definitely use the practice in planning, locating, and building before I jump into a whole house.


... The windows are cracked and need replacing.


... The door has seen better days.


... The "carpeting" needs to go.


... There are even tiny remnant wasp nests in the vent slats.



It's a real piece of work. XD





The floor under the felt-like carpeting is sturdy, though.


The un-insulated walls only have two bad water spots, as pictured, but it's fairly superficial, which isn't bad considering the structure is at least 35 years old without much upkeep to speak of. In my limited experience, it shouldn't be a problem. Though if it is, I suppose we'll have to start looking for a different base of operations.


I'm thinking some recycled denim insulation, a few coats of natural/eco paint, and we can put up with it for a few months. We'll probably install a loft bed (like a bunk bed without a bottom bunk) and place it over our adult bed for Flora. We'll be using furniture we already own to fill out the inside. They're all white painted woods, so I'm thinking the color palate will be white, baby blue, and grey.


We'll be knocking down the old grapes, which used to be a gazebo before the vines destroyed all the lattice so it had to be replaced last minute with steel piping. XD We'll roll the shed over on pipes into position, settling it between...


Flora's playhouse...


and the little fishpond. n...n




OBLIGATORY CAT PICTURE.



I'm almost ready to start repairing the shed. The owners just have some things in it they're holding for family friends that are in the process of moving from England to a new house they bought on Camano Island. Once they take their belongings, I'll finish clearing it out, start stripping, repairing, then installing the grey water system, toilet, and then finish the interior. No idea for an actual timeline but... Oh well. We'll see how it goes.