Jan 16 2014

Cookie-Cutter Tiny Houses

You know it’s a first world problem when your efforts to curb consumption are co-opted by copycats:

Are tiny houses becoming too “cookie-cutter”?

That’s the fear of Phoenix Vo-Dinh, a tiny-house renter who fears the rise of “miniature McMansions.” And she knows from McMansions: Before her current home, she lived in a Maryland house 10 times its size. The Maryland house had four bedrooms and four bathrooms in its 3,500 square feet, with seven entry doors.

Vo-Dinh now lives with her 24-year-old son, Christopher Lollar, in what she calls a “witch’s cottage” in Portland, Oregon. Its interior walls are papered over with Trader Joe’s grocery bags and pinto bean and flour sacks (coated in linseed oil); the exterior makes use of a local pizzeria’s tomato-sauce cans; and flowerboxes are made from discarded stove hoods turned upside down and poked with drainage holes.


 “In Maryland,” she says, “the size of the house — it was too big! It was a big house with no hiding places in it! It was the weirdest thing. I didn’t know that would happen.

“And this is huge. This is 364 square feet.”

No hiding places. Now that makes me wonder about Ms. Vo-Dinh. And everybody else who thinks tiny houses are the “it” thing. Didn’t they have playhouses or the imagination to create one from blankets and a table when they were children? And just where does she think she’s going to hide from her son in that tiny, though chic and fashionable space?

And what the hell is her son thinking? Perhaps… “Well, Mom is a bit nutty, but she still controls the purse strings. And the apron strings.”

Apr 21 2012

Breasts, Testicles, Prostates, Men, Women, Pain, Politics

OK, I didn’t have a good title for this post. That one got copied right into the tags field. Trolling for traffic? You betcha.

One of the bad things following the passage of Obamacare and Sarah Palin’s invocation of “death panels” is that now it’s considered necessary by some (certainly not all) conservatives and libertarians to automatically assume that any research finding that might also reduce costs is automatically some variant of “rationing” or on the slippery slope to a “death panel”.

To wit – this one by Althouse, linked last week by Instapundit following a link to Dr. Helen’s rather innocuous post on rates of prostate screenings.

No matter how I look at it, I can’t see the relationship between the rates of prostate screening, pain research, pap smears, expense, fairness, and the Buffett-rule that Glenn Reynolds apparently finds obvious. So now I’m wondering about him falling for or into mere drama where anything can be taken to be “rationing”. Or a precursor of a “death panel”.

Is stretching an idea, meme, partisan point, etc., to the breaking point the same as jumping the shark? If not, it should be!

Jun 15 2010

Are You Afraid Of Snakes?

Tag: fearDonna B. @ 5:38 pm

I am.

I am horribly, terribly, irrationally frightened when confronted with a snake whether it’s in a photograph, video, or… horror of horrors, in person.

Fear of snakes is called ophidiphobia.  Intellectually I know my fear is irrational. Emotionally is a whole different ball of whacks. It’s all too real.

What I want to do is write a humorous, perhaps silly post, about this. But I can’t. Although I know some of my latest antics relating to the fear of snakes are funny, ultimately I’m not finding much to laugh at.

Last Thursday morning, I was taking trash out and and preparing to take the can to the street for pickup. Our back storm door (opening from the laundry room) doesn’t fit well and sometimes doesn’t latch on its own. When I opened it to come back inside, I saw what I first thought was a green bungee cord. I figured I’d knocked it off a shelf with the bag of trash I’d just carried out.

But, as I started to bend down to pick it up, it moved. In my panic, I tried to shut the storm door, catching 5 or 6 inches of the tail of the snake. It rattled and I panicked more. I ran to the front door and into the kitchen screaming “There’s a snake in the house” to wake my husband up.

By the time he gets to the laundry room, the snake is nowhere in sight. He moves the washer and dryer and various other junk stored there. All this time, I’m standing in the middle of the kitchen, constantly checking all around me watching out for a snake and afraid to move.

“There is no safe place now” is the thought that kept running through my mind. I’ve lived here for 20 years and have sort of learned to deal with the fact that there are snakes around. Some are poisonous, such as copperheads. A neighbor spent some time in the hospital after being bitten. But the snakes have always been outside. I could always escape to the house and be safe.

I don’t know how long it took me to run from the back of the house and into the kitchen, but I know that during that time the snake could have traveled into almost any room in the house. Not that it would have, but could have. It really is silly to say that the snake was as afraid of me as I was of it because I don’t think a snake has the ability to be irrational.

It’s been five days now. We hired a wildlife removal professional who put a snake trap in the laundry room with no result. That’s good news. The snake is probably not in the house. He probably escaped back outdoors the same way he got in via the ill-fitting storm door. The bad news is that I don’t know for sure.

The other good news is that from my description he identified the snake as most likely a king snake. Not venomous and not aggressive. I also learned that most snakes have rattlers and that green snakes are not venomous. This is knowledge that the rational part of my brain likes. The irrational part could not care less.

I haven’t yet mustered the courage to go into the laundry room, but I’m mostly OK in the rest of the house. Mostly. I put on my shoes before going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and I turn on the light to inspect the shoes first.

I am still easily startled, reacting much more severely to the slightest unexpected noise or touch than I normally would. That stress is probably not good for me. (My heart rate was still above 100 hours after I first saw the snake.) Add to that a hyper vigilance of my surroundings. Consider that the mere act of having to pay extra attention when walking down a street involves a cognitive tradeoff . Now even in my home, I’m paying attention to every step I take. Though my doc called in a prescription for klonopin, I’m still on edge.

This too shall pass, but not nearly soon enough to suit me.