Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Part of That Mentality.

I've gotten almost all my music imported onto my now not so new macbook. I was being lazy. My goal is to get it all in there, back it all up, then sell off all my CDs. I want to be serious about living a greener life and winter is such a tough time to keep this all in perspective. It's so cold, all I can do to keep my sanity is to take long hot showers and use my space heater to warm up my room. So, to keep my thoughts on conservation I'm pushing to rid myself of all my plastic music.

This one is a difficult move to make. For anyone who's a music lover, there is something so wonderful ... so ... holy about having a physical disc in your hands. There's almost a cult sort of obsession around owning physical copies of music and I certainly have been a part of that mentality in the past.

But, honestly. Take a moment to really think about a CD and all the plastic and paper that goes into it. I don't even have a decent stereo in which to listen to my music on, so I end up importing it into iTunes and never using the disc again. It sits there, taking up space and ends up being a waste of money. I could have saved $3-$5 by downloading it on iTunes.

Selling CDs and buying others used is a great way to recycle. I appreciate that process and I will keep shopping used discs. The change will be when I can't find what I'm looking for used, I'll get it from iTunes instead of ordering a copy from Amazon.

It's going to be tough. I'll not feel complete, but it's just a better decision for the long haul. It really is. I truly believe this will help make a difference. Especially if we can start a movement and get artists into it, selling digital downloads instead of CDs.

*crickets*

I know. That'll never happen. Until then, I will do what I can to make a difference and hope that people see it and are inspired to make a sacrifice as big as this one.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Before You Know It.

Well, ladies and gentlemen ... I did get a bike. Finally! A friend had seen a teeny tiny road bike on 24" wheels at the bike collective he volunteers at, so he grabbed it and stopped by my place with it. Turns out it's a perfect fit.

I'm a little afraid of it, HAHA! Just because it's winter and I know I'll need to get on it at some point to give it a test drive, see what parts aren't working and fix them.

The reason I have some trepidation is, I've always ridden a children's bike. First, the handlebars were upright. Second, the seat was always low enough to sit on while you were stopped. With adult bikes, the seat is much higher. You have to hop off the seat when you stop.

Between hopping on and off the seat and having my handlebars be so low AND have snow and ice all over the ground ... I'm a tad nervous about riding.

But, I know it's going to be really great anyway. I'll get use to it and I'll be a riding fiend before I know it.

My NEXT project ... search the internet for fixed wheels in 24". So far ... it's a total no go. But, maybe I'll get lucky, eh?

Let's hope so.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Things are going slowly for my bike. I've given up on a road bike. I honestly don't think I'll ever find a 16" road bike. I could have one made for me, but it would be super expensive. Maybe some day. for now, it's a child's 24" cruiser or a 24" BMX.

Until then, here is something that keeps me going:


MACAFRAMA Trailer from MACAFRAMA on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I've Got Work to Do.

So, in light of recent events involving my inability to find a decent bicycle (I do have a lead on a "small road bike" at the local bike collective), I've decided my life will be a life of building bicycles from scratch.

YES.

From scratch.

Someone hand me a blow torch, I've got work to do.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Home Is Where The Heart Is

This is a little late, but better late than never, right? So, a whole week into the new year, I'll take a step back to christmas and the ornaments I made from shrink plastic for my family. We decided not to give gifts this year, due to the poor economy AND because our family of six grown to a whopping fifteen! It gets expensive trying to buy gifts for that many people! We all bought gifts for the little ones and since I had signed a pledge to buy handmade gifts this year, I decided to go ahead and take it to the next level by using up the shrink plastic I had left over and make the rest of the family ornaments. And not just any old ornaments. A homage to Wisconsin and the places we all have spread out to and made our homes in: Madison, Milwaukee and Kenosha. My brother just married Keely, who's from Illinois, so I had to make an extra state for theirs, but luckily it was just illinois and was easy to piece together.

So, here is exactly what I did!

Step One:
Once you draw on shrink plastic, it's hard erase your marks, so you want to make a template or pattern to trace. Since shrink plastic shrinks to 1/3 it's original size, you want to make sure your template is big enough to shrink. I didn't get any measurements for my templates, sorry. It never crossed my mind! I did, however, use up almost an entire sheet of plastic from the RoseArt shrink plastic kit. I put the state of Wisconsin towards the top and there was just enough room to fit the heart.




Step 2:
Once you've got your pattern all drawn out (I started with pencil, then re-traced it with marker, so it was easier to see.), but put your shrink plastic sheet down shiny side DOWN. You need to draw on the rough side and ONLY WITH PENCIL. No markers or crayons on this one. Carefully trace your image working hard not to smear the lead all around. It smears really easily. As a lefty I always fail big time on that.



Step 3:
Carefully cut your image out. My initial vision for these ornaments was that I would use a razor pen to cut them out perfectly, but shrink plastic tears easily and is hard to cut. I had to abandon my original plan in favor of just slowly cutting away at it with regular scissors until i most of the surrounding plastic was gone. I couldn't get a perfect cut, but considering all the times I nearly cut a finger off with the razor, I was happy. Then, using the razor, cut holes into the images. Wisconsin gets two: one at the top to hang it with, one at the bottom to tie the heart on. The heart gets the one while the Illinois gets two as well. Then you color everything. I colored the states first, Wisconsin was sky blue, Illinois grass green, the hearts read. From there you re-trace the outline of the states and heart, making sure the border has a nice dark, defined edge. Then you color in the hearts and write "HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS" in the actual heart.




Step 4:
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, i'm going to go out on a limb and say it needs to be an OVEN oven, not a toaster oven. My toaster oven, when heated to 350 degrees on the bake setting, didn't get hot at all. I could put my hands in the oven and touch all the metal and not get burned. I tried several different settings, positions and temperatures and got the same results: a)nothing at all, or b) everything curled up and got all melty. SO, maybe my toaster oven is just cheap and an asshole, but I'm going to say it was just the nature of it being a toaster oven. USE A REAL OVEN. As soon as that oven is pre-heated to 350, put your cut outs on a non-greased cookie sheet and put THAT into the oven for THREE MINUTES!!! No more is needed, they'll shrink in that short time. Take them out, they look cute and little, but let them cool!


Step 5:
Whip out your ribbon and tie those lil fuckers together! I used ribbon that had wire ... not such a great idea. I just thought the iridescent glitter went better with the sky blue and grass green colors better than traditional christmas colors. In hindsight, regular ribbon sans a wire would have been much better.


Step 6:
TAH-DAH!

this one is without Illinois ...

... and WITH Illinois


So, there are my ornaments. Between cutting my fingers to hell, then the first ones burning up in the toaster oven they sort of drove me crazy ... and took forever. I was a little bashful when giving them since they look like a 4-yr-old made them, because I'm not so good with my hands. But, everyone loved them and I personally just really love Wisconsin and my family. It made me happy to make them for everyone.

We'll have to see what I think up for next year, huh? Hopefully they look a little nicer!