Monday, February 20, 2006

The Miracle of Wood

Game over. Yesterday, through some act of fate I stumbled upon the website for Herrlicht. It appears they make wooden eyeglass frames and wooden bicycles (yep, bicycles). The frames appear to be light and durable, made of either cherry or maple and available in black(!). Admittedly, a couple of models look like safety goggles. Either way, they are all wood. As in, no metal...pins or nose piece or anything. All. Wood. Not that cheap and long-lasting petroplastic stuff. Wood. Mr. Herrlicht himself kindly responded to my query on U.S. retailers, and hopes to have these handmade frames in a shop in Washington sometime this summer. I'll keep everyone posted, but I hope to have the first pair *evil grin*.

As you know I love all things wood, so on my weekly trip to the local Franklin's Brewery to pick up a box of Abita microbrew (help Maryland and New Orleans businesses, ya'll), I stopped by Well's Woodworking to tell the guys there about Herrlicht. These folks are professional woodworkers of the highest order, and seemed quite enamored so that must mean something. The name "woodworkers" might even be a misnomer; "wood magicians" seems more apropos. (And yes they're working on a nice set of custom bamboo cabinets for a mansion in Mclean, Virginia. That's why they rock. I love bamboo, it's so grasserific.) Check out this set from AlterEco (courtesy; high-end and ecologically intelligent. This past summer, seems that most of the homes in the Solar Decathlon featured either bamboo or wheatboard cabinets. Swank.

{UPDATE}: 02.22.06 - Andreas wrote back today with a price estimate (oh, Andreas is Mr. Licht, for those of you commoners who can't name him as one of your many friends-via-email-only, as I can). They retail for about €1000, so at today's exchange rate that's about $1,191.18 USD. Not cheap, but not out of the realm of possibility either, especially for hand-crafted pieces of art that also allow you to see. He's not sure the price points will be the same but they're working on it. I have a list of retailers in California, if you're interested.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Back to the State of the Union....

My favorite doomsayer J.H. Kunstler had a nice piece on Monday referencing the perceived failings of the latest State of the Union address. One bit that stuck out for me relates to trains:

I hate to keep harping on this, but Mr. Bush could have announced a major effort to restore the American railroad system. It would have been a major political coup. It would have a huge impact on our oil use. The public would benefit from it tremendously. And it would have put thousands of people to work on something really meaningful. Unlike trips to Mars and experiments in cold fusion, railroads are something we already know how to do, and the tracks are lying out there waiting to be fixed. But the reigning delusions of Hollywood and Las Vegas prevent us from thinking realistically about these things. We're only into wishing for grand slam home runs and five-hundred-million-dollar lottery jackpots. Anything less than that makes us feel like losers.

Unfortunately, I don't think many Americans are into the whole mass transit thing anymore. That may be been the classy way to travel circa 1959, but a train sure isn't a Hummer H2 (which, by-the-way, is what I believe to be the most absurd use of automotive ingenuity known to man). Mass or public transit, as the neocons like to call it, goes against every individualistic fiber in our star-spangled bodies.

Kunstler's right on the flipside; train freight is the best and most efficient way to get products and people around (excluding ships on intrastate waterways and canals). The reality is, long-haul trucking and personal vehicles are the current trend and will probably remain popular as long as fuel is cheap and readily available. And to think, "we" are all hoping for ethanol, biodiesel, and hybrids to save the day. Useful tools in the quiver of post-petroleum technologies for sure, but the key problem remains reducing demand and recognizing there are indeed limits to growth, determining alternative definitions of success in our society, and not returning to the days of low wage-earning train porters (perhaps this time replaced by Latino immigrants or offshored to Indian telemarketers?).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

I turn __ on Monday the 6th. Yes, the same day as Bob Marley and Ronald Reagan (who I sometimes confuse with John "The Duke" Wayne, but that's another story for those remembering 1986). My personality profile at work says I'm a procrastinator. Funny how these things tend to be true. As such, all of my friends in the physical and cyber realms are invited to a celebration this Saturday the 4th. Yes, today is Thursday, but when else would a procrastinating Aquarius put out a party invite? We'll be at a secret location in the U Street corridor. I'm hungry and lazy and don't feel like sending out a mass email so if I know who you are and you know who I am, drop a line so you can be put on the list. See you in the city....