Xarcady's Profile

Display Name: Xarcady
Member Since: 7/25/10

Latest Comments...

Borage, I agree with you.

We now design houses and offices with little to no regard to how weather affects them--we assume that heat and a/c will be available. No need to position windows for cross ventilation, or provide trees for shade, or put the kitchen across the north end of the house, so the coldest side of the house will benefit from being the warmest room (because of the stove and the heat used for cooking).

But it's only been the past few hundred years that houses as we know them have existed in the Southern US. Prior to that, the native peoples lived there--wearing clothing and living in shelters adapted to the environment over centuries. We've lost that--our culture requires us to live in conflict with nature. We have electric lights to continue our activities during darkness. We have a/c so we don't take siestas during the hottest hours of the day, as they do in warmer climates, we just keep working.

As for living in Florida without a/c--yes, I could probably do that. But I'd be massively miserable. When all the other women in the office are bundled in sweaters because of the a/c, I'm dancing around in a t-shirt, because the office is finally at a decent temperature for me. Just as some people seem to always run cold, I'm always hot. I love winter. Under different circumstances, I could completely see me running the a/c 24/7.

But like you, I've learned to adapt. And I just don't plan on doing very much during the summer months, because I'm uncomfortable enough just sitting still.


No AC? No Problem! Try This Quick Trick to Keep Your Cool
7/28/14 09:41 AM

Another aspect of many minimum wage jobs is the scheduling. Many of these jobs are part-time and either retail or food service of some kind. Even full-time employees have schedules that change weekly. The part-timers not only have schedules that change weekly, but the number of hours they work each week changes, as well.

And what that means is that you never really feel sure about spending money, because you never really know how much money you will be making next week, the week after that or the week after that. This week you might work 25 hours, next week 13 and the following week 10.

So you never feel comfortable about filling up the car's gas tank. That's committing a lot of money to one necessity, possibly at the expense of buying food that week, or aspirin, or paying the electric bill. So you buy gas 10 or 15 dollars at a time. You buy the smaller sizes of things, even though they are not the best buy, but because that allows you to have more money for other expenses in your life.

You save every penny you can from week to week, to help cover those weeks when, through no fault of your own, you will only work 10 hours and only bring home $73 in your paycheck, out of which you need to save money to pay the rent and utilities, plus buy food and gas for the week.

I didn't want to go on food stamps. But when I did, it was such a huge relief to know that every single month, I had $150 to spend on food and nothing but food. No more trying to keep the week's food costs to $20 or less. No more worrying about if I was hungry at night and ate a piece of toast, would I have enough bread for sandwiches to take to work the rest of the week.

With that lump sum of money every month, I had enough to buy the larger, economy sizes of things like rice and beans and lentils. I had enough money to take advantage of good sales and stock up on things. And that allowed me to eat a much more varied and healthy diet.

The actual amount of money I spent on food didn't increase by all that much. But the worry about "Should I buy the 5 pound bag of rice and risk running out of gas this week, or the more expensive 2 pound bag and put another gallon of gas in the car?" stopped. And that allowed me to buy what I needed, when I needed it.


Budget Living: Living On Minimum Wage
7/27/14 08:23 AM

I don't actually have air conditioning at home. I sweat a lot, and use fans a lot. And spend some sleepless nights because I'm just too hot and sweaty to sleep.

But I live in New England. Our hot and sticky days are limited, and we rarely see the 100 degree temperatures of other parts of the country.

I honestly don't think I could survive doing just basic housework in a house in, say, Georgia or Florida, without A/C.

Which is the main reason I live where I do.


No AC? No Problem! Try This Quick Trick to Keep Your Cool
7/26/14 05:15 PM

I think part of the friends disappearing is that people tend to get together and spend money--going out for coffee, going out for a meal, going to the movies, etc. Even most get-togethers at friends' homes involves some sort of pot-luck these days, and you have to bring food, or a bag of chips and/or something to drink. When you are eating oatmeal and peanut butter three meals a day, spending $4 or $5 on a bag of chips could be two day's food budget.

When you have to say "no" to just about every invitation, people gradually stop inviting you. And I was surprised at the number of people not willing to do free or relatively inexpensive things, like movies at the library or free local concerts, when I tried inviting friends to things. Or they'd agree to the free concert, but want to go out for drinks afterwards, or a meal beforehand, and I simply could not afford to do those things.


Budget Living: Living On Minimum Wage
7/26/14 07:47 AM

I don't think most people would buy a place based on the specific fridge in the kitchen. But they might think twice about buying a place that has no space for a full-size fridge--if they want a regular fridge, they would have to remodel the kitchen to fit it in. For some, that would be a deal-breaker.


What's Better in Small Kitchen: More Cabinets or Full-Size Fridge? Good Questions
7/26/14 07:38 AM

The reality is that many in the US simply can't walk home from work past stores that sell fresh food. We (the general we) haven't designed our communities for that. We've designed them for car usage, mostly.

When I lived in Boston and walked to work, I stopped by the grocery store several times a week, because it was on my way home. Now that I drive to and from work, food shopping means battling traffic, finding a parking space in a crowded lot, and battling crowds of people in a huge store that always makes me feel as though I've run a marathon by the time I leave.

I'd love to mimic the European way of food shopping, but there would need to be a lot of changes before that could happen.


What's Better in Small Kitchen: More Cabinets or Full-Size Fridge? Good Questions
7/25/14 11:22 AM

Love the concept. Love the idea of not being chained to a desk all day.

However, this presupposes that all employees are fit enough to stand all day, sit on very hard surfaces, use stairs without handrails, heck, use stairs, and lean/recline/stand without pain for 8 or more hours a day.

Reality is a little bit different.


Is a Giant Rock the Office Furniture of the Future? Design News
7/25/14 11:16 AM

At one point I was working two part-time jobs, one at minimum wage and one at $8/hr, usually 40-50 hours a week.

I qualified for the maximum benefit for food stamps and fuel assistance for heat.

I saved for six months to get the cheapest possible new tires on my car, and prayed that the car kept running. I did not buy new clothes for two years, except for new socks, as they wore out quickly because my jobs kept me on my feet over 40 hours a week. New shoes, although I needed them, were not affordable.

The library was my entertainment center--no Netflix, no buying new books. No eating out. No convenience foods. If I didn't absolutely need it, I simply didn't buy it. I never went into stores, except the ones I worked in, because I didn't want to be tempted by stuff.

I celebrated getting a real, full-time job with benefits by using a bit of my first paycheck to buy new underwear and getting a pizza delivered.


Budget Living: Living On Minimum Wage
7/25/14 10:35 AM

Well, he admits one of the key things they do is to stay "as inert as possible." And I agree--if you can stay relatively still and keep fans going, you will be lots cooler than if you are moving around.

But how many of us have lives where we can just sit in front of a fan all day long?

I admire his commitment to avoid air conditioning, and I think he has a point about the environmental impact. But the reality of life today does not let most of us live his lifestyle.

And unfortunately, many modern buildings, both commercial and residential, are built with the assumption of air conditioning. They, and their occupants, would not fare well without the A/C.


No AC? No Problem! Try This Quick Trick to Keep Your Cool
7/25/14 08:12 AM

For me, it is about function. I have dealt with a studio kitchen with an under the counter fridge, and I found the stooping to see into the darn thing was an issue. The not being able to see to the back of the shelves was an issue. Retrieving things from the back of the shelves was an issue. When I broke my leg and couldn't easily bend over, it was a huge issue.

If you are short, an under the counter fridge might work. But my dream fridge is a freezer on the bottom fridge, with most of the fresh food at eye level and easy to get at.


What's Better in Small Kitchen: More Cabinets or Full-Size Fridge? Good Questions
7/24/14 10:34 AM

I've tried the suggestion in this post several times, in three different apartments, in bedrooms with two windows, recording the temperatures on a digital thermometer.

The most it lowered the temperature in my bedroom was 2 degrees F.

Changing the window fan to blow air into the room lowers the temperature by 6-12 degrees.

Admittedly, these trials were not under laboratory controlled conditions. However, the results have always been the same, whenever I have set the window fan to "exhaust" rather than "intake."

I don't know where this idea started or under what conditions it actually works. But I keep hearing it over and over, but it has never really worked for me.


No AC? No Problem! Try This Quick Trick to Keep Your Cool
7/23/14 08:45 PM

The risk is that this storage will end up looking like clutter. I'd take the time to work this out so that the top of the dresser can provide some storage while still looking nice.

My dresser top has the following: a lamp, three framed photos, an old tea cup to hold spare change, a small silver tray to hold my watch and jewelery that I've taken off but am too lazy to put back where it belongs, a small jewelery box, an even smaller jewelery box that just hold my 5 favorite pairs of earrings, and a candle stick.

So there is storage for some things used every day--jewelery, watch, spare change--and some decorative things as well. Plus the lamp and candle stick, which are necessary to light the room and for power outages, which happen far too often here.

You could also use this space to store a row or two of books.

Attractive storage baskets could hide a multitude of things, but run the risk of becoming clutter magnets unless you are careful about what goes in them.

Plants are another option.

I'd take a good look around at what you need to store that will fit in that space and then work out an attractive solution.


How To Get the Most Storage Out of Dresser-Top Space? Good Questions
7/23/14 08:24 PM

There's a difference between unavoidable noise and controlable noise.

Most people realize that there is not much you can do with a crying baby, other than try the usual remedies. Sometimes babies just cry. Usually the parents are just as anxious as the neighbors to get the crying to stop. That's unavoidable noise.

But running, yelling, dropping toys, rolling cars across a wood floor, running, jumping, toppling towers of blocks, running--all these are avoidable. Or at least should last only as long as it takes the adult in charge to stop the noise.

I have a lot of tolerance for noise that really can't be controlled--some barking dogs, crying babies and toddlers. But noise that can be controlled and isn't? That's what I'll be complaining about.


Noisy Kids? How To Keep The Peace With Your Next-Door Neighbors
7/23/14 08:14 PM

Morning lunch making? I make my lunch, be it salad or sandwich, the night before. Put the packed lunch bag in the frig. All that's left to do in the morning is pull an ice pack out of the freezer and put it in the lunch bag and go.


5 Tips for Making a Week's Worth of Salads on Sunday Tips from The Kitchn
7/23/14 07:59 PM

Once I was just chatting with a new neighbor and she mentioned how inexpensive the rent in our building was--that's why she'd moved there. Puzzled, because my rent was reasonable but not what I'd consider inexpensive, I asked her how much she was paying.

She was paying $150 *less* for her two-bedroom than I was paying for my one-bedroom. I'd been living there for 3 years.

I got my renewal notice a few months later, and the amount was a $50 increase over my current rent. I'd already found a new place, so I informed the management that I would not be renewing the lease. When they asked why, I told them the truth--I felt I had been used. All the newer tenants were getting much lower rents, and I'd been giving an increase? They offered a lower rent at that point, but there was nothing that would keep me in that apartment after that.

Did they seriously not think that tenants might talk to each other?


Would You (Could You?!?) Talk About Your Rent with Your Neighbors? Renter's Solutions
7/19/14 11:45 AM

Where will the Murphy bed go? Because there doesn't seem to be any room for it. Or will it replace the loveseat?

And one nit-pick. That tv is far too high up on the wall for comfortable viewing. If it has to go in that spot, it needs to be lower, or viewers will have stiff necks from looking up at the screen.


A 200 Square Foot Micro Studio With Style Professional Project
7/13/14 06:22 PM

Short term, can you reconfigure the bookcase so that it is a rectangle or square and you don't have those two vertical bits beside the tv? That would help with the impression that you are crowding everything into the space between the doors.

Long term, I'd look for something to hold the tv that has some closed storage and a back, to hide some of the stuff and the wires.

As for over the tv, I'd avoid artwork, as that could compete with what's on the tv screen when it is on.

I'd go for something like a long, horizontal piece of wrought iron scrollwork, or the aforementioned branch or grasses. Something that will fill the space, but not with a lot of color to distract your eye. A nicely carved piece of wood--check on Ebay. Or check out wood molding appliques at a hardware store. Or consider painting a ceiling rosette (or whatever those things on the ceiling around the chain for a chandelier are called). Texture, and shadow play from the window light, but not a lot of color.


Ideas for Blank Wall Above TV? Good Questions
7/3/14 07:28 AM

My parents made a game out of removing the moving stickers. Whichever kid pulled the most off got a prize!

Now I realize they were getting us to do one of the moving-in chores, but back then, it was fun!


How Do I Leave My Heritage Home For a Cookie Cutter Duplex? Good Questions
7/3/14 06:53 AM

I would check the regulations very carefully before changing out any fixtures. It's possible you might be able to do that, but you would have to save the old ones and put them back before you leave.

Same for painting. You might be able to paint, but most likely you will need to return the walls to their original color before you leave. And you might not get much notice about your next move--we moved with three weeks notice once.

And they will inspect the house before you leave. You will need to return everything to the state it was when you moved in before inspection.

This is not to discourage you about military housing. But changing things out tends to happen little by little. You might have a month or less to change them all back, and you will be cleaning and decluttering and packing during that month as well.

If you go this route, make one or two changes that will make the most impact for you and that will be easy to undo when you move.


How Do I Leave My Heritage Home For a Cookie Cutter Duplex? Good Questions
7/2/14 10:35 AM

My father was in the military.

In Germany, we lived in a commandeered Field Marshall's house, with a two-story foyer and grand sweeping staircase, a conservatory with a fountain, and two bedrooms. In South Korea, we lived in a cinderblock ranch style house, with vinyl tile floors, a fireplace and rat poison containers on the exterior walls.

Then there was the 1810 historic house in Philadelphia, with parquet wood floors, a sunroom, 5 bathrooms, a fireplace in the master bedroom, window seats on all the windows, 2 sets of French doors leading from the living room to the front porch, a butler's pantry and an dry pantry. And a push button in each room to call the (non-existent) servants. Yes, military housing on an Army base.

Hang on, you are in for a wild ride! And it is going to be fun. Every house you live in will have some great points, some good points and some not-so-good points. There will be a great view, or a nice park across the street, or the best kitchen you've ever had. And then there will be the useless, 6-inch deep linen closet, the room that never gets warm in the winter and vile colored tile in the bathroom.

I will tell you this. Over in Korea, in the 1960s, you couldn't bring your own furniture. You put it in storage and use the QuarterMaster-supplied furniture--sofa, chairs, dining table, beds, desks. So not only did everyone live in a cookie-cutter house with the same basic floor plan, but all the main furniture pieces were more or less identical. There was some difference in the color of the upholstery fabric, but that was it.

And yet, every single living room looked different. The way the furniture was arranged. The art on the walls. The side tables purchased locally. The objects collected as the family had traveled around the US and the world.

Get your family into your new home. Use the furniture you have that fits. Buy one or two new pieces to really make this new house work for you. One of the good things about most military housing is that it *is* pretty bland and "cookie-cutter." By not having a pronounced style for the house, the house can take on the style of the family living in it.

What I've learned from moving about so much as a child is that anyplace can be home, if your family is there. And you will end up with a great deal of knowledge as to exactly what you want in your house when you get out of the service and settle down. (My mother's reaction to military housing, once Dad retired, was a three-story, 1870's Victorian with a ton of character, a leaking roof and questionable heating.)


How Do I Leave My Heritage Home For a Cookie Cutter Duplex? Good Questions
7/2/14 09:25 AM