9.07.2013

PB&J Smoothie


Peanut Butter Smoothie:

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
blend it all up you doofus

Blackberry Jam Smoothie:

  • 1 cup frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • other 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
see above

Pour into hipster Ball jars. Serves two, or one if you grab them both and run into the bathroom and lock the door real fast. You're welcome Pinterest.

Made by Autumn. Concept by Jeremiah.

5.20.2013

Concrete Stool - Mostly a Failure

This was one of the cheaper and more frustrating projects. Autumn forwarded me these instructions, and the project looked simple enough.

The challenges all rose from the concrete. I couldn't get the first stool out of the bucket and had to hammer on the bucket until the cement started to crumble. I added about an inch too much to the second stool, so that it was top-heavy and convinced me it would tip over and crush someone's foot

One of the failure stools in the back right.
Taking the advice from another HomeMade Modern howto, I cut a bucket down to allow the stool legs to spread out further for more stability. This, however, made it harder to pull straight up out of the bucket and increased the likelihood of the dowel becoming a lever that would pry up a bit of concrete.

Since I was just pouring a little concrete out of the bag each time and not using it all at once, each stool has a slightly different ratio of gravel to cement. I tried to sand the edges of some of the voids near the sides or tops of the stools to prevent clothing from snagging on it, but this is just a Sisyphean task of sanding, having it crumble a little, exposing more cement edges, and then sanding again.

The concept is sound, but for it to be actually useful I need to invest in countertop-grade concrete and figure out a method of removing the stool from the bucket easily and safely.

5.17.2013

Speaker Monobox


Last Christmas I decided to do this project as a Secret Santa gift for a friend.

It was my first real soldering project and gave me an excuse to by a soldering iron station and feel like a hacker and/or terrorist as I assembled the capacitors, resistors and chips onto a breadboard.

It was another learning process, and the most challenging step was mounting the speaker since the front, which used to be the cigar box lid, was of the tongue and grove slide in variety, meaning I had to slide one hand in a half-inch gap to tighten bolts, cutting my hand on the solder in the process. And then a wire was loose, so I had to take it all apart, find the problem, and try again.

The end product has an Etsy-like charm, and audio quality was surprisingly decent, considering it's mono and not stereo.

I've made a stereo version since, and the process went much faster and easier. So even with the the cost of materials and time, the experience, and the reception by the Santee, definitely made it worth it.

4.21.2013

Suggested Reading: 3:AM Magazine



By Richard Marshall. ‘Clov: There are so many terrible things now. Hamm: No, no, there are not so many now.’ (‘Endgame’).

via Pocket http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/reloading-becketts-philosophical-libraries-2-the-nietzschean-hedonist/

4.19.2013

Eat Sign

Last summer, Autumn really wanted an "Eat" sign for our kitchen, specifically this $30 one from Etsy:

Looking around, I found a few signs in the same font from various stores, including a red one on Amazon for the same price at half the size and made of metal. I hate spending money and have scrap wood, so I made her one myself.

I made the outline in Illustrator, printed it out in parts on multiple sheets and lightly glued it to the wood. The Black & Decker jigsaw I have has an interesting feature where the blade comes out of the thing every thirty seconds, so cutting was time consuming. The real challenge was the 'a'-hole (heh) and the top notch on the 'E', but I just drilled and then Dremelled those out. I used glossy black paint and didn't waiting long enough between coats, but the thing is high enough on the wall that you can't really tell.

The only other thing that annoys me is the fact that the letters are ever so slightly out of line, so the sign sits a little crooked on top of the window, but the italics and position help hide that as well.

Autumn loved the sign, I was able to make it the perfect size for the space, and I got some basic practice using the jigsaw. We haven't taken it down since I put it up last June, so it's inoffensive enough to stay. However, the time, annoyance with mediocre tools, and the $10 little thing of paint I had to buy probably put me behind. I'm glad I did it, but if I had to do it over again I'd just buy the thing.







4.18.2013

Suggested Reading: The Tiger Oil Memos



From the offices of the now-defunct but at one time Houston-based Tiger Oil Company come a total of 22 enormously entertaining memos, all sent by, or on behalf of, the firm's incredibly amusing, painfully tactless, and seemingly constantly angry CEO — Edward "Tiger Mike" Davis — to his staff.

via Pocket http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/08/tiger-oil-memos.html

Suggested Reading: The Saudi Marathon Man



A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed.

via Pocket http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/the-saudi-marathon-man.html

4.17.2013

Suggested Reading: The Hangman's Tale: Archaeologists Dig into Historyof Execution



For years, few were interested in unearthing what lay beneath old gallows and scaffolds. But, in Germany, growing interest in "execution site archaeology" is throwing much light on how the executed died and the executors lived.

via Pocket http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/germany-sees-rising-interest-in-execution-site-archaeology-a-893747.html

Suggested Reading: The Martian Chroniclers



There once were two planets, new to the galaxy and inexperienced in life. Like fraternal twins, they were born at the same time, about four and a half billion years ago, and took roughly the same shape.

via Pocket http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/04/22/130422fa_fact_bilger

Suggested Reading: Don't Believe the Hype—House Tyrell Is Richer ThanHouse Lannister



As you watch members of House Lannister and House Tyrell scheme for control over King’s Landing here’s something to keep in mind. The Westeroi conventional wisdom that that the Lannisters are the richest house in the Seven Kingdoms is dead wrong.

via Pocket http://mobile.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/04/17/goldbugs_in_westeros_house_tyrell_is_richer_than_house_lannister.html?original_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.slate.com%2Fauthors.matthew_yglesias.html

4.12.2013

Suggested Reading: Magic trick transforms conservatives into liberals

When US presidential candidate Mitt Romney said last year that he was not even going to try to reach 47% of the US electorate, and that he would focus on the 5–10% thought to be floating voters, he was articulating a commonly held opinion: that most voters are locked in to their ideological part

via Pocket http://www.nature.com/news/magic-trick-transforms-conservatives-into-liberals-1.12778

4.11.2013

Review: Satchel & Page Austin Messenger Bag


Features:

  • 20 oz. waxed canvas
  • 138 Polyester thread
  • YKK Zippers
  • 420D Nylon interior
  • separate neoprene padded compartment (fits a 15” laptop and smaller)

Dimensions:

height 11", width 16", depth 5"

Review:

Satchel & Page handmakes all of their bags in Austin, Texas using high-quality materials. Each purchase is shipped free domestically with a handwritten "thank you" note that is incidental but helps reinforce the "made especially for you" philosophy. The waxed canvas feels rugged, looks and ages well, and gives the bag a unique look. The shoulder strap is of the same hardy material. The bag is very roomy and easily fits a laptop, an iPad in a Portenzo case, and whatever other items you neurotically feel the need to bring everywhere, just in case. The materials make the bag slightly heavy even empty, and the it can feel rough when rubbing against your back (even through clothing) unless you adjust the strap correctly, but that is just tradeoff for the durabilty of the waxed canvas. The bag looks great and is a unique alternative to the Chrome and Timbuk2 bags seen on every other urbanite walking down the street.

I was unable to find any pictures of the interior before purchasing, but the inside pockets are well laid out and constructed. The "laptop" compartment features a leather strap with a magnet closure, stylish, but unnecessary in practice. The nylon fabric goes nicely with the slate color scheme I purchased, and I can guess the other options (oak and tan) are similarly well coordinated.
The front closure is a single metal fastener passed through a simple slit and hole cut in the leather, attractive in its simplicity, but it frustratingly comes undone constantly. The top flap is long and heavy enough to keep itself closed, but I would have preferred something more secure.
Front closure
The bottom, which appeared stiff in the store photo, is actually fairly flexible leather with metal feet, the latter another confusing choice of form over function since—without a rigid structure—they don’t protecting the bottom from coming in contact with the floor and just offer a chance to scratch hardwood or tile.
Bottom stiffness: store image(left) vs reality
My main concern is the top flap does not always adequately cover the main opening (depending on the shape and weight of the contents), negating the waterproofing benefits of waxed canvas. You can somewhat tuck the sides in before folding the flap down, but, again, the store photo misleadingly showed two protective flaps that would help keep rain out (visible in the "bottom stiffness" image above).
Flap gap

Conclusion: 80 out of 100

Stylish, durable and with more than enough capacity, the Austin Messenger is hampered by a poorly designed front flap which doesn't stay closed or adequately keep out the rain. Minor issues like the weight (which is an inescapable result of the rugged materials) and some baffling design choices are mostly inconsequential. If you want a great looking bag you won't see a dozen other people carrying, and are willing to either risk some rain getting in or own a waterproof laptop sleeve, I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you plan on carrying your bag for long distances or durations in inclement weather, you may want to go with a more mainstream all-weather bag.