Learning how to share all over again…

Share all the tools!
Share all the tools!

One of my goals for owning my first home is to keep it free of stuff. This includes the garage. Unfortunately, the garage is already filling up with things. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, living spaces seem to follow the same rules. However, Heather and I found a remedy for our unnecessary accumulation: The NE Seattle Tool Library!

I didn’t know what a tool library was until my wife enlightened me. It’s a common place where people donate tools for public use. Not just hammers and hand saws, but power tools and plumbing supplies and electrical equipment. A whole garage full of crafty goodness, plus a bike repair station and in house large equipment woodworking area. All for a yearly membership fee of $20!

It's like a free hardware store!
It’s like a free hardware store!

It’s based off of the premise of shared resources. Home improvement equipment can cost on the upwards of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the amount of space tools take up gathering dust when not being used. Let’s be honest, unless you’re a hard core manly-man who lives and breathes Home Depot, you might pull out a cordless drill twice a year to do an odd project. Or an emergency comes up and you run down to Ace Hardware for $400 worth of supplies that you may never use again. Very inefficient and wasteful!

Work on your bike at the bike station.
Work on your bike at the bike station.
Shelves of crafty items!
Plenty to choose from at the tool library…

If the community comes together and pools its resources, suddenly you have a plethora of equipment that can be checked out and returned with a common storage space. No more cluttered garage and unused items. Beyond just things to use, there are instruction classes and an information library. Everything you need to repair your sink, sand your deck, or build that brand new arcade cabinet you always wanted! Everyone wins!

This is a big push towards a shared resource economy. Another similar idea (and one that may be implemented at the tool library) is time banking, where people make agreements to share skills. A doctor trades 1 hour of medical service to a family for 1 hour of childcare. A plumber trades 1 hour of plumbing service to a carpenter for 1 hour of carpentry. The importance isn’t on profit but connection.

Ridesharing, couchsurfing, and community gardening are all ways that people across the U.S. are coming together to form closer, more sustainable relationships. It’s an extension of the commons… a public space that is a resource for the whole community and is taken care of by the whole community. A reverse on the trend of resource hoarding; taking as much as you can as fast as you can before someone else can take it.

Come visit the NE Tool Library today!

Heather and I recognize that we have more space than any two people really need. In order to be responsible stewards for this space, we’ve decided to make our space productive. By converting our yard into a growing area, we can produce food not only for ourselves but friends and neighbors. We are constantly on the lookout for ways to be more sustainable and sharing oriented in our new home ownership!

If any of this sounds awesome, look around to see if there are groups and organizations nearby engaging in resource sharing. If not, start one! All it takes is a few people deciding to share with each other to get the idea off the ground.

Seattle, stop complaining.

the sun
the sun… bringer of life or malevolent god?

Today it hit 90 degrees in Seattle. The weather prognosticators say the next two days will be the hottest of the year. Tomorrow is supposed to be 95. For Seattle, these are apocalyptic temperatures. 90 degrees is something nobody in Seattle thinks about until it happens. Then all local hardware stores sell out of their fans, portable air conditioners, and ice makers.

I can only laugh.

I grew up in the 125 degree Las Vegas heat; today was a nice spring day. Yes, I grew up with air conditioning. That’s beside the point. My ability to take heat is a matter of regional pride. I remember driving auto parts around the city one summer with no air conditioning in my car. Sweat would evaporate before it could run down my face. Remember, it’s a DRY heat.

no joke. we do this in the summer where i come from.

It’s a real consideration. Humidity in Puget Sound hovers between 40%-70%. 90 degrees feels a little more… insane oppressive. Nowhere near the hellish breathable air of a southern summer, with 100 degree temps and 100% humidity. I have felt such things. I will pass down these memories to my grandchildren, scaring them into good behavior. I will tell them if they don’t behave, they will be taken to the mythical land of Mississippi, where people go in the summer to be punished for their sins.

It’s not far from the truth. Right?

Anyways, I found myself sweating in my office today. No A/C, no fans. Just me, computers, a server, an open window, and no air movement. I got up for a moment and found that my clothing had bonded into a single garment held together by bodily fluids. Ew. I find our ability to sweat to be a design flaw. It is supposed to cool us down. It fails. (much like histamines–they’re supposed to protect our body from foreign toxins; all they do is make me miserable and drug companies richer.)

I digress. It’s uncomfortably warm. All of Seattle is complaining about it. I refuse. I’ve paid my dues at the altar of the sun god. I’ve survived heat that could kill a person. (truth–I almost had a Couch Surfer die because she didn’t follow my suggestions for dealing with a Vegas summer) Seattle, you need to get over your 2 days of 90 degree temps. If the rest of the U.S. hears you, you’re gonna get jumped in the parking lot. True story.

I can ferment that!

Oh no, whatever should I choose?

I used to think I knew beer, until I moved to Seattle. It was quickly proved that I knew nothing. Tasting the  Northwest craft brewing scene was like walking into that exclusive nightclub that you only ever heard about. A new world filled with fermented beverages that could only come from dusty tomes excavated from long dead civilizations. You drink from the cup and become a believer; yes, it is a religious experience.

Some of you may be thinking: “I don’t like beer.”

As my friend Chris likes to say. “Nay! You just haven’t tried the RIGHT beer.”

Over the last year, I have been introduced to home brewing through an extended family member. I only wish I had experienced it earlier. I used to think that brewing involved complicated chemistry skills, like alchemists of old who could turn lead into gold. Only a select few knew the secrets of unlocking inebriation from inert matter, and they held the status of demigods.

Looks harder than it really is.

However, I found out that fermentation is actually a very easy process. Enough sugar and bacteria and you can ferment just about anything. Organic matter is just waiting to be turned into alcohol. Apples? Easy. Cabbage? No problem. Cats? It’s in the bag. But just because you CAN ferment something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. In fact, it does take a certain amount of skill to make alcohol taste good.

Or at least, the right equipment and ingredients. Take beer. You have your grains (which produces malt; sugar for your yeast to eat).  You have your hops, which provide an amount of flavoring and act as a preservative. You have your water (clean water = clean brew). Finally, you have yeast (creates the alcohol; provides majority of flavor and texture). Put them together in the right way, and you get beer!

But it doesn’t stop there. Craft brewing is like tricking out your car; small personal touches that take the basic model and turn it into something amazing and unique. In the last year, I have tasted amazing heavenly brews that I never knew were possible. I have had a chocolate stout that tasted like a malted milkshake. I have had porter with the character and flavor of bourbon and caramel. I have had ale that tasted like lemonade and pilsners that were like refreshing iced green tea.

This beer tastes like fermented unicorns!

So if you think you don’t like beer, think again. Put down that Rolling Rock. Throw away that Coors Light. Jump onto the internet and check out breweries like Dogfish Head, Stone, Rogue, and New Belgium. You will not be disappointed!

If you want a list and ratings of beer that I have experienced over the last year jump over to Untappd, a fun social networking plugin that is a must for beer lovers (and aspiring beer lovers).