Mark Frauenfelder on the Colbert Report

I just watched Mark Frauenfelder’s appearance on the Colbert Report and thought it was well worth passing along.  I may be a bit biased, since in my opinion all Colbert Report videos are worth watching, but this was all about DIY.  Mark is editor-in-chief of MAKE Magazine, co-editor of the blog Boing Boing and author of the books Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World and Mad Professor: Concoct Extremely Weird Science Projects.  Want to make your own Useless Machine (featured on the Colbert Report)?  Instructions from the inventor can be found on


We LOVE freecycle.  Here in Seattle, there is a very active community of freecyclers.  It is amazing what random objects you can acquire and find new homes for, from the tiniest knickknack to the largest appliance.  We all save money and prevent useful things from going to the landfill.  It’s fantastic.  If you live in Seattle, have a decent vehicle, and are willing to vigilantly watch your email all day, you could get away with never buying another piece of furniture, appliance, child’s toys, clothes, paint, building supplies, computers/electronics, decorations, books/magazines/videos, dishes, etc. for the rest of your life.  Not only have we kept things from going to the landfill and saved money, but we’ve met some really cool people along the way.

Things we have given:

  • electric range/oven from 1950’s (fully functional but too big for our space)
  • car roof rack towers to car we no longer have
  • plastic toilet lid (came with our new toilet and promptly replaced with nicer one)
  • 12 foot baseboard heater (still in box, age unknown, found in garage when we bought the house)
  • shop vac
  • moving boxes
  • book shelves

Things we have gotten:

  • queen sized nice wooden bed frame + thick futon mattress (several satisfied house guests served thus far)
  • electric oven/range (of modern era, fully functional)
  • bag of several nice pieces of wool fabric
  • set of Ikea drinking glasses
  • footrest
  • moving boxes
  • shelving unit
  • pair of vintage armchairs
  • roll-out tabletop keyboard (musical kind, not computer kind)
  • nice jacket/blazer
  • gardening boots
  • various interior and exterior paints

Other things we have found along the side of the road or next to dumpsters at our old apartment:

  • push lawn mower (spotted with “free” sign on the side of the road not one block from our house 5 minutes after discussing our desire to have one of these as an alternative to the noisy, leaky, gas-guzzler the former owner of our house generously left for us)
  • chest of drawers (a little worse for wear, but we took it anyway because it just happened to match the set we already had)
  • book shelves (later given via freecycle)
  • table (given to friends)
  • chest of drawers (given to friends)
  • chair
  • good quality stereo speakers

Why waste money and resources manufacturing/transporting/selling/buying new things when there are so many perfectly usable things being discarded every day locally?

Well, here we go, my first post to DIYnot.  Rather than focus on what I’ve been up to though, today I’ve decided to focus on what nature is up to.

Yesterday, a wet and gray Seattle day, while walking back home from the bus stop I was just about blown over by a small bit of beauty that was beginning to adorn our admittedly busy street.  Days before, I had subconsciously noticed that the tips of the trees were beginning to turn from brown to green.  “Nice” I thought.  But yesterday, the blossom of a cherry bud stopped me in my tracks.  Wow, those blossoms were cool and pretty to boot!  And out popped my cell phone camera.

But woe is me, I’m not a complete technophile and have not an iPhone or a data plan.  So today, a sunnier day, deceptively warm appearing but actually chilly in the cool breeze, I dusted off the old digital and hit the street.  So here ya go, enjoy.  Maybe next year I’ll know the names of more than holly and cherry!

Future ideas: snowy elk camp tarp shelter, growing vegetable starts indoors, landscaping—going from a blah yard to an awesome one (hopefully), interesting science plots, the p-patch garden, mason bee hive making, from grass to garden, asparagus beds, squirrel fighting!


DIY transportation: car diet

Sweet Juniper Family bicycle - awesome!

Ugh!  I was already annoyed at myself for driving to work almost every day lately.  And then I came across the above, which in turn led me to the blog of an amazing mom in Portland, OR.  If she can run errands with 3 boys under age 8 without a car, toting them on this awesome bike and city buses, then I should be able to transport myself to work without a car.

She even transported a baby, a chicken, some veggies and who knows what else all in one trip!  (Yeah, that’s a chicken in the pet crate.)

We limit our driving somewhat by owning one car between the two of us.  We’ve never had more than one car and it’s always worked just fine.  A few years ago, Matt was driving to work while I took the bus to school.  Occasionally I would ride my bike.  Now Matt buses to school and I drive to work.  I know it doesn’t have to be that way.  I just need to get back in the routine of busing.

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