My car, my coalmine
May 4th, 2012
I have unintentionally discovered a new way to test my comfort level with what I am consuming. In three separate events, aggressive olfactory triggers suggest that what I am putting into my car (and my home and my life) may be more toxic than I realize.
#1 the guest bed I went to IKEA a few months ago to get a SOLSTA sofa bed. An employee helped me get that giant box into my Honda Element but my 8 year-old, Max, and I could not get it out of the car and into the house, so it stayed in my vehicle. For a week. And my car smelled horrific. Like I had left a to-go container of MDF-laced dinner in there. I began to have serious reservations about putting that piece of funky smelling furniture in my home and inviting my guests to sleep on it.
#2 the luggage I hosted some friends from out of town for the weekend. When they picked me up in my car so I could take them to the airport, I was startled by the olfactory assault of marijuana; a smell that apparently infiltrated their luggage while sitting in my home for a weekend. Thanks to California Proposition 215, marijuana is legal in our state for those who have a prescription and, it turns out, my downstairs neighbors are card-carrying members of a medical marijuana clinic. I hadn’t noticed that scent in my home and then I got a whiff of suitcases that had sat in my car for less than 10 minutes. Thanks to my vehicle, I became aware of what my son and I had been unassumingly consuming. It’s worth noting that since I brought this to my neighbor’s attention they have taken to smoking outside and using an air filter.
#3 the bike I got Max a new bicycle. He’s still learning to ride so it spends most of its time parked in our garage. When we loaded up the car for a road trip to Napa last weekend, I decided to bring the bike. About 30 minutes into the journey, Max started complaining of a headache and we both became aware of the stench of rubbery bicycle toxicity emanating from the back of the car. No matter how many windows we rolled down we could find no relief. The odor was completely overwhelming. When I found a park and finally pulled that bike out of the car he refused to ride it. It’s now back in the garage and I am wondering if Max will ever want to ride it.
Sadly, the car still reeks of bicycle and the garage has become yet another coalmine where the canary of my consumption fights for breath.
Low footprint Halloween
October 29th, 2006
We went to a Halloween costume party yesterday. The invite urged/threatened us to create a costume with an emphasis on recycling, so we put together silly costumes that made use of materials we had around the house. We used a bit of tape and a bit of thread, but it was all stuff that was unused or eventually going into the garbage (as much of it did, today).
Chain taken from an old conference badge. Badge is the reflector from the Ikea “LOCK” light fixture for the headgear, UPC code from empty box of Kong treats.
Found chain with binder rings and shower ring as holster, battery pack with expired batteries and a storage box from wall-mounting hardware.
Guns made from old bathroom faucet valve stems and closet hooks. One screwed right into the other easily.
We took apart an IKEA “Lock” light fixture, and inverted it and stitched it to a baseball cap (with the cap’s button poking through the base’s hole of the same size), then taped the socket upside on top, with the wire connectors as deely-bopper-style endings for the wires.
And the result? Pretty silly!
I’m in the Boston Globe!
November 4th, 2005
I’m featured in The Boston Globe (registration required) in an article about the cultural impact of IKEA.
Its prices are just one way IKEA is altering how America decorates
By Linda Matchan, Globe Staff | November 3, 2005
STOUGHTON — When the Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA opened its first US store 20 years ago, the country wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.
”An anomaly to furniture retailing,” concluded HFD, a furniture trade publication, in an article called ”The IKEA impact.”
”IKEA’s main strength is that it is selling hype,” one furniture manufacturer commented suspiciously.
Fast forward two decades, and it’s hard to imagine a home furnishings company that’s had more impact on design and home furnishings retailing than the anomaly called IKEA, which, as it turns out, has sold a whole lot more than just hype. Last year, IKEA’s cash registers rang up more than$2 billion worth of products, among them such signature IKEA items as an $80 Po?ng armchair; a $40 Billy bookcase; a $200 Klippan sofa; and the all-time IKEA bestseller, Glimma tea lights, $3 for a bag of 100. (Not to mention 371,041,280 Swedish meatballs, according to an IKEA bulletin dispatched Oct. 26.)
”To me it’s an amazing emotional experience when I walk through IKEA and see how much stuff I can get for under $10 — and these are all things I already own,” says Steve Portigal, founder of Portigal Consulting, a California firm specializing in research, design, and business strategy.
”And yet I find myself thinking, ‘This is a cool watering can,’ and then fighting the urge to buy seconds and thirds. The low barrier to purchasing things, and the ease with which you can buy more of something you already have, doesn’t make me feel very good,” he says.
August 16th, 2005
A newly repainted house in Montara. Frighteningly bright. What were they thinking? Looks like we’ve got our own IKEA here on the coast now.
Update: turns out the homeowners are fans of UC Berkeley sports teams