i know what we’ll be munching on late at night this summer when my ATL friends come to visit: Han Solo in chocolat-ite.
having completed my last paper for an incomplete class from last semester, i am now officially done with all coursework for my Master of Architecture with Specialization in Sustainable Design from the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. phew, that’s a lot of words. I’M FINALLY DONE!!!! HOORAY!!!!! GRADUATION THIS SATURDAY!!!
iChat works w/ .mac, AIM, and jabber. Gmail chat works though the jabber network. no other networks are supported. i really like the iChat interface, but the ability to video conference still does not work across networks. that means if i want to video conference w/ AIM, i need an AIM client; same for Yahoo and MSN. Skype is also obviously standalone. it would be so nice if i could do video chats w/ a Yahoo buddy while using AIM through iChat. in fact, it would first just be nice to be able to chat w/ a Yahoo buddy through iChat. there are other clients that provide multi-network accessibility, such as the wonderful Adium. there are also websites that provide the same service right w/in the browser, such as Meebo. but none of them allow of video yet. so as it stands, video remains a cool feature but rarely used.
to fix that, it would be great if Apple would configure iChat such that people could write plugins to allow connection to other networks and additional features. maybe it is configured in such a way and nobody’s stepped up for all i know (knowing the Mac community, i doubt that’s the case). Google Talk is open network – anybody can connect to their network assuming they use the same protocol. so add a Google Talk module to iChat – in fact, considering the strengthening Apple/Google alliance, i’d be surprised if such connectivity did not appear pretty soon. anyway, the ultimate point of this rant is to open iChat to all the chatting networks and to develop inter-network video connectivity.
the only remaining schoolwork i have is 2 papers. one is close to finished, the other should only take a few hours. i have put this off long enough b/c i really don’t want to write the papers, but it’s required, so time to wipe it clean. graduation, here i come!
i have this thing well designed products. it’s not just that they look sexy, although that contributes to their appeal. it’s that they work really well. oftentimes a really sexy looking product has had the same care put into its physical form as to its user interface and user experience. additionally, such a product usually costs more than its competitors. by that logic, a well-designed lovely looking product tends to be more expensive. a few examples could be just about anything produced by apple (mac, ipod, forthcoming iphone), high-end furniture and architecture, books, foods, cars. this equation (good looks + good UI = better but more expensive) can be used for mostly anything. there are occassional exceptions to the rule, such as IKEA (although their products are not always the highest quality) and yellow tail wines (great label and bottle design, good wine, cheap). but generally this equation rings true. for this reason i tend to save my money to buy the more expensive and better product because not only is it prettier to look at, but also easier to use and more reliable.
this brings me to the point of this post. i’m having an affair with a dyson vacuum cleaner. all juvenile jokes aside, this is the most amazing piece of household cleaning equipment i’ve ever seen. first of all, it’s concept is brilliant – do away with the filters and bags b/c those require replacement and degrade performance. instead, separate the dirt from the air through extremely high powered suction. simultaneously clean the air with a HEPA filter so that your air is cleaner coming out than it was going in. combine that with a beautiful housing with ease of use (swivel heads) and you have an amazing design product.
now, i don’t have a dyson – not yet. at the moment i’m using a shitty $30 cordless vacuum i bought from target to essentially suck dog hair off the floor. it does that job ok, but there is plenty of stuff left on the floor that i only pick up by either sweeping or mopping. also, this vacuum is pretty much useful solely for wood floors. it surface cleans the rugs, but you know there’s stuff down there that doesn’t want to come out. in fact, just the other day i rolled up on rug to find a fine layer of dirt beneath it – dirt that had worked through the woven rug and hadn’t been sucked up by the vacuum. i’ve decided that when we move into our new house, i will buy a dyson vacuum. not just for me and my allergies, but for the baby. yes, that’s the trump card to end all trump cards. i need to keep a cleaner house and maintain better indoor air quality for the baby, and the only way to do that, obviously, is with a dyson. 🙂
so it’s been about 5 weeks or so since we stopped using paper towels in my house. it has not been difficult at all! we bought a few more dish towels for cleaning, as well as cloth napkins for eating. i’ve also donated a few old t-shirts to the rag pile. it took a few days of reminding cindy not to use paper towels, but very quickly we moved on to our new routine. the only time we broke down was when our dog peed in the kitchen (his first accident in 6 years). aside from that, the roll of paper towels has sat untouched for 5 weeks. it’s pretty cool to see how much less you use when you make the effort.
taking a cue from my recent posts about banning plastic grocery bags, our next step is…not using plastic grocery bags! i’m going to pick up some reusable totes – we also have a humongous reusable plastic bag that we bought from ikea for $0.50 (it’s too big, though, so we’ll only fill it halfway). we’ll use our reusable bags for our weekly grocery shopping trips and save on the nuisance of disposable plastic bags – they’re petroleum products, they take roughly 1000 yrs to break down in a landfill, and more often than not they’re seen littering parks, streets, and waterways. we’ve never thrown away our plastic grocery bags after shopping, either – we typically use them for carrying lunch. we’ll continue to use them for that purpose or put a bunch of them out w/ the plastic recycling.
[UPDATE:] i talked w/ Cindy last night about our ‘milestone’, and she replied that looking back, she didn’t think we ever used paper towels all that often. i reminded her about how often we used to switch out paper towel rolls – probably once a week or so (using the paper towels to clean, as napkins, as covers for food in the microwave…). now we are practically paper towel free. had the dog not had an accident the other day, we’d still be on the same paper towel roll for over 5 weeks. it’s a matter of perception, and it just goes to show how easy it is to do without the things you think are necessary when there are perfectly viable alternatives.
as i mentioned in my last post on the topic, it’s only a matter of time before other cities jump on the plastic bag banning bandwagon now that San Francisco has become the first US city to do so. a few weeks ago, Austin City Council announced that they are starting a 60 day study period before deciding whether or not to ban plastic grocery bags. i hope they do so – plastic bags are petroleum products; are typically single use; usually end up either in landfills or littering streets, parks, and rivers/lakes/oceans.
i’ve read comments online by people stating that using paper is just as bad as using plastic b/c of the energy required to recycle. perhaps not just as bad, but it’s true that paper is not the answer – reusable bags are. if everyone would simply bring their own reusable canvas or plastic bags to and from the grocery store, this would all be moot. it’s not like it’s so difficult – they fold up really easily and can be left in your car trunk when not in use. our local HEB grocery has already responded to the anticipated ban by selling reusable canvas bags at the checkout line and touting their environmental benefits. it would be nice if they’d drop the price from $3.50 to something like $2.00 considering that the bags aren’t that large, but it’s still good to see them actively promoting better behavior.