Sunday, February 24, 2013

Median Bike Paths

I did my first test run of my bike to work route. I am waiting for the time change before I start bike commuting because it just seems safer to bike when it is still light outside until I am familiar with the route.

The best part of my route is that the majority of the ride is on a median bike path. I have become convinced that median bike paths are perhaps the best way to integrate bikes/pedestrians/cars into a single right of way.

Bike path looking west in a wide portion, pedestrian path is to the left (hard to see because of the shade)

This particular median bike path is really wide in areas and is almost a park in itself. It has a meandering pedestrian path, an asphalt two-way bike lane, benches, trash cans, grassy areas, and landscaping.  Street traffic is on either side and there are no median breaks except at major street intersections. The intersections have crosswalks and seem much safer than traditional intersections for bicyclists and pedestrians because you are out in the open and cars aren't trying to turn right in front of you when the light changes.

Bike path looking east in a narrow portion, pedestrian path on the right

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Asbestos and Lead

Our apartments have these fun signs posted everywhere:

It really doesn't bother me because most of us have lived, worked, and been educated in buildings containing asbestos and lead our entire lives. I find some of California's warning labels ridiculous. If you live in an old building, just don't make it a habit of eating or pulverizing and inhaling the walls and insulation and you'll be fine.

A fun story related to that was that back in 3rd or 4th grade I watched a PBS show on asbestos mining, its uses through history, and the subsequent discovery of its health problems. This was right around the time of the 1989 ban of asbestos followed by the 1991 overturning that allows asbestos in certain products to this day. I went to school and told all my friends that based on the age of our school building it contained asbestos insulation and we were all breathing cancer causing particulates into our young lungs (or something along those lines - details evade me). What I do remember clear as day was my best friend Angie and I going around for weeks and one of us would look at the other and say "asbestos" and we would both hold our breath as long as we could. Oh, the carefree days of childhood. ;-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Vintage" Medicine Cabinet

Our apartment building was constructed in 1969. Some features have clearly been updated, but others appear quite dated. One item that is definitely old is the steel Permabilt recessed medicine cabinet. I have never been a fan of medicine cabinets, but seeing as we have limited space, I would like to make use of the storage space.

The bottom is rusty and all the shelves are missing. I am planning to scrub, paint, and find shelves. I think I want to give the inside some color. I am not painting the apartment walls because I don't have a feel for how badly the apartment management would freak out. I really like color, but in a small space, the white walls may be best anyway. Considering the sad state of the thing, anything I do will be an upgrade.

Ironically enough some people seem to have an affinity for these old cabinets. They buy them, lovingly restore them, and cut holes in their perfectly good walls to install them. I don't get that. They call them "vintage".

I'll post photos of the finished product (hopefully showing its sad state will be a motivator to get it finished).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Reading Nook

One of my ideas for our small apartment was to create a reading nook for the bedroom area so that if one of us wanted to read or study somewhat separate from the other, we could.

I made the wall cushions out of 2'x2' plywood boards from Home Depot. I wanted them to be slightly larger, but we don't have power tools anymore and I didn't feel like going through the trouble to buy a larger piece and get it custom cut. I laid doubled up quilt batting on top of the boards and covered it with a thick fabric that I stapled to the back. They are attached to the wall via a wire and heavy duty picture hangers. They are fairly comfortable, but lack lower back support.

The highlight of the project for me was the LED color changing lights from IKEA. They were mounted to the underside of the invisible hardware shelf. The color can be changed manually through the entire spectrum via a wheel, or you can set the colors to cycle automatically (reading nook rave?).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Our Apartment

Here is my sketch of our apartment:

I made the sketch in Visio to aid in our furniture purchasing. While it is a studio apartment, the separation of the sleeping area by the design and the use of a floor to ceiling curtain that can close it off from the living area  makes it seem like a one bedroom. I left the balcony off of this drawing, but it runs the entire length of that back wall where the sliding door is.

My husband and I agree that this is the favorite place we've ever lived. It is also the smallest. It is easy to clean, has everything we need, and is very quiet 95% of the time (I don't count birds and the constant thrum of traffic as noise).

I don't have any photos of the whole apartment yet. I have a few more major tasks to tackle before I say it is "done" (chiefly replacing the partition curtain with a different fabric and replacing the vertical patio blinds with a real cloth curtain).

And then of course there are the awesome views from the balcony (also can be seen from the living room and bedroom).