Thursday, January 31, 2008

Toilet Hacks 2: The Return

Hello and Good Morning!

Just to start things off, I want to say thank you to whoever is reading this.
Thank you for taking the time to read my zany little blog. I hope you enjoy it.

That said, I think a lot about the toilet.

I work in an office in Chelsea, and me and my fellow co-workers all share this one bathroom. Since I try to drink lots of water (hydrate before you dehydrate), I end up using the bathroom several times a day. I'd say, roughly four times during the course of a work day.

Let's do some math:

Four toilet flushes @ 1.6 gallons per flush = 6.4 gallons of clean water, (now mixed with my "contributions") down into the sewer system.

Just to put this number in perspective, the average African gets by on guess how many gallons of water a day?


So, before I've factored in showers and hand washing and assorted other water uses throughout the day, I'm already using more than six times the amount an African would use in a day, (and they'd probably use it for drinking.)

My point is that every little action can promote a positive reaction.

So here are two very simple things you can do to help minimize the amount of clean water you use.

1.) Don't flush pee alone. It makes pee sad to be flushed down by itself. Admittedly, in an office setting, this may prove to be counter to what your co-workers find acceptable. Fair enough, do it at home.

If you pee three times for every flush, (and if you are hydrated enough, your pee shouldn't smell or look that bad.) you've saved 3.2 gallons of water. Nearly an Arrowhead bottle. Good stuff.

And number 2.) (Ha!) Hack your toilet!

Do it like this:

Firstly, you'll need a specially constructed, non-deliquescing, adamantine, water displacement device, (or, n.d.a.w.d.d.)

If you can't find one of those, a brick will work just fine.

Like this:

Give 'ol Mr. Brick a good scrub to remove particulates, and then...

Open your toilet tank. Just take the top off. Simple.

Position your brick above the toilet tank. (Important note! Do not let go! Porcelain is easily chipped.)

Insert brick into toilet tank. Not the bowl! The tank. Don't worry, tank water is clean. (In fact, in case of zombie attack, a nice commercial building with lots of toilets can provide fresh water for a little while. Really, in case of zombie attack, you should leave the cities and heavily populated areas, favoring mountain peaks and glaciers. I digress...)

Now that the brick is in the tank, position it so that it does not interfere with the movement of your float arm. (That's the little rod with the plastic bulb on the end.)
In this photo, the brick is a little too far to the right. I scooted it over to the left so the float wouldn't hit it.

Pop the lid back on. (Just like when you took it off, but in reverse.)

And don't forget to do this!:

You've not really touched anything supernasty, but better safe than stomach bug.

And you're done! The brick will displace volume that would have otherwise been occupied by clean water, so your toilet will use less each time it refills.

Here's the staggering thing:

Doing this simple thing will save you approximately 11,000 gallons of water a year.

That's the size of a pretty good sized swimming pool. You now have 11,000 gallons of clean water that instead of having peed or pooped in, you could use to, say, fill up a swimming pool.

Or, really do the planet a favor and buy a composting toilet.

Love to all,

-Clean Hands McGirk

p.s. I just tried it out, and things are working beautifully!

Remember, if you aren't having fun, you might not be doing it right!

Make Your Own Laptop Case!

It is very easy to make a great many wonderful things with all the wonderful stuff we New Yorkers toss in the trash.

For instance, the laptop case.

I used to carry my laptop around in a plain canvas bag, but then I dropped it outside the Chateau Marmont, and it's never been the same.

If only I had constructed one of these little beauties!

Like this case, from the good people at

Instructions on

Or this one...

Instructions on

Or this one, from

Instructions from

With some reclaimed materials and half an hour, you can spare your precious laptop the indignity of being dashed to the ground, and there dented.

Take that, gravity!

Metronomy: "Radio Ladio"

This put a big, fat, Thursday smile on my face.

Love to all,


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Do you have questions?

Would you like to know stuff? is your site, gooseberries!

Peace is Sexy

(I drew this image. If you like it and want to use it, please do. Want a hi-res? email me:

Hello all!

I think the anti-war movement is forgetting a very important marketing tool, namely, peace is sexy as hell.

Know why?

Because when things are peaceful, people have time to feel sexy, and to be sexy.

To love and be loved.
To find one another, to fall in love, to make babies, to raise them with love.
These wonderful things are very difficult when the people around you are fighting and dying.

As I walk around my hood in Brooklyn, I see fliers posted up for an anti-racism march.

I can't help but think: "Why anti-racism?"

Why not pro-tolerance?
Why not pro-togetherness?

And why call it a march?
Why not just say: We're having a party for peace.

You can't scream in someones face to remind them how important peace is. But you can laugh, and sing, and be in love, and hear music, and check out your fellow man, who are there to check you out too.

Every "march" or "protest" I've ever been to has been like a big party.

You're there to see everyone else and you're there to have a good time. The last thing you'd want is for things to get violent.

If it's peace you want, it's peaceful you must be.

So as you go through your day, don't forget to party for peace, love for peace, feel sexy for peace, laugh for peace, and pray for peace.

Love to all,


The Red Green Show: Perpetual Motion Machine

This is great.

Oooohh! They gots lots of them! Right here: Red & Green

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Earth Without Humans


Zenn Car

All electric, under 15,000, quiet and lovely.

Here's the site: Zenn Electric Cars

Hot Water Powered Solar Water Pump

Very exciting! Especially for places where sunlight is abundant and water is scarce. Places like, uhhh, most of earth's surface.

It pumps water on the upstroke, and generates power on the downstroke.

I think Parliament Funkadelic sang something about this years ago...

On Perfection: Tampopo

It was almost ten years ago that I first came across Juzo Itami's transcendent Tampopo.
Since that time, I've probably watched it once a month, if not double that.


Because it may just be the perfect film.

Ostensibly a conventional story about a drifter who ambles into town and helps the local widow achieve a better life for herself and son, while protecting her from local bad guys; this incredible film is so much more than that.

It's nothing less than a meditation on perfection.

What is perfection? That's entirely arguable. Tampopo humbly posits that perfection is the ultimate union of form, function, and effort.

In this case, the local widow, the Tampopo of the title, has inherited her deceased husband's noodle shop, and is struggling to keep it afloat. When Goro, the driver/cowboy, and his partner stop in one rainy night for noodles, they find Tampopo serving mediocre ramen, her son getting beaten up, and surly toughs infesting the bar. Dire straights.

I don't want to spoil anything, but Goro is wise in the ways of many things, including noodles, and he agrees to tutor Tampopo in the art of making a great bowl of ramen.

Research is done, a crack team is assembled, and the search for the perfect bowl of noodles is off and running.

If you like food movies, or Japanese comedies, or meditations on what is best in life, or adventures, or romance, then you'll love Tampopo.

Tampopo on amazon.

Tampopo at wikipedia.

Wonderful Tampopo review from Hal Hinson of the Washinton Post.

Juzo Itami at

Daily Inspiration: Biomimicry

Good Morning All,

If you watch one thing today, watch this:

Love to all,


Monday, January 28, 2008

50 Years of Lego!

"The LEGO brick turns 50 at exactly 1:58 p.m. today, January 28, 2008. This timeline shows these 50 years of building frenzy by happy kids and kids-at-heart, all the milestones from the LEGOLAND themed sets to TECHNIC and MINDSTORMS NXT, as well as all kinds of weird curiosities about the most famous stud-and-tube couple system in the world.

It all first started in 1947, when LEGO bought their first plastic injection machine. The brick was not invented then but took final form in 1958, when the shape of the stud-and-tube brick was patented. Since then, LEGO sets have been going through dozens of iterations, from the younger version, DUPLO, to the most sophisticated LEGO TECHNIC and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sets, going through all the different themes of LEGOLAND and, of course, the most successful line of all times according to LEGO, LEGO Star Wars."

I remember as a kid having a big wooden box that my grandfather built, filled entirely with Legos. Whenever we decided to play with them, my brother and I would dump the entire box onto the floor and then quickly struggle to find the wings from the spaceship set.

All we really built were spaceships, because as any kid knows, a wingless spaceship is entirely useless. (This was before I understood that space is a vacuum. So George Lucas was completely wrong and Darren Aronofsky completely correct.)

(Maybe, George... Probably not. There's really nothing futuristic about war.)

(Definitely, Darren. Peace, now that's futuristic.)

Sorry to digress. (I just looooooooved The Fountain.)

Happy 50th birthday, Lego!

Water Cube: Beijing '08

Just look at this little beauty!

This is the Water Cube, being built in Beijing right now for the '08 Olympics.

When finished, it will house all swimming and diving events.

China is really taking green-construction seriously, and this gem of a building only helps cement that reputation.

"(BEIJING, Dec. 26) -- The National Aquatics Center, or the "Water Cube," fully represents the concept of "Green Olympics," in terms of architecture, outside layer engineering, environmental protection in the areas of material, energy and water resources as well as the indoor environmental quality, according to a BOCOG official.

The project is featured by the reasonable and efficient application of clean energies, said Yu Xiaoxuan, deputy director of the Venue and Environment Department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).

The "Water Cube" absorbs solar radiation and reduces thermal loss, guarantees the incoming of most of the sunlight which serves as the thermal source of swimming pool water, Yu said in a recent interview with the press.

The maximum use of natural ventilation and lighting features the environmental design of the project's outside surface, to ensure temperature and humidity control in different sections of the swimming pool and provision of comfortable indoor environment for athletes and spectators, Yu added.

He said the architects skillfully took water use into consideration, ensuring the maximum and efficient utilization and recycle of water and protection of its quality and environment. The advanced water treatment system enables the water quality to meet the national standard and the rigid standards of International Amateur Swimming Federation (FINA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Yu, guided by the concept of sustainable development, constructors choose innovative energy-saving materials and products to reduce inside and outside pollution.

The realization of "green Olympics" in the "Water Cube" project set a good example for other Olympic venues and the construction of Beijing's urban projects, Yu believed.

The project uses the state-of-the-art ETFE material which is light but very strong. The blue bubbles outside the National Aquatics Center comprise over 3,000 air cushions, which look like an entirety but actually they are relatively independent from each other, providing convenience for replacement of individual cushions when needed.

The swimming pool is 13 meters deep, which can reduce the interference of water temperature variation, according to project manager Sun Hongzhuang. The temperature of swimming pool is projected to be kept at 28 degrees Celsius, the best suitable for swimmers, Sun said.

During the Olympic Games, the venue can sit 17,000 spectators. "We've made lots of personalized treatment to let the spectators at every corner to see athletes' performance," said Sun."

Wowee, the present is starting to feel a lot like the future.

Does that make sense? A rapidly developing country getting stringent about environmental impact and its citizenry working alongside to pick up the slack? Must be the future. Things that great can't happen today.

Or can they?!

Go China!

Here's the site for the Water Cube.

16 Year Old Builds Working Wooden Bike


Marco Facciola built an entire bike out of wood, chain and all, in his spare time.
I reserve the following word for special occasions: Flabbergasting!

Go Marco!

The best part in the article is how he talks about only having one cheap set of drill bits and how he had to use them both carefully and sparingly, only removing a bit of wood at a time, then backing off and rubbing a bit of soap onto the bit, which both cooled and lubricated it.

Marco, you smart. And thrifty.

What an inspiration.

Marco Facciola on

The Baloo Trick

This here is my dog, Baloo. Argued by many to be one of the greatest chihuahua/fruit bat mutts EVER.

Yes, he's a great dog for a number of reasons, but the one I want to talk about today is his special walkies trick.

You see, Baloo can poop on command.

It has taken many moons to teach him this, but teach him I did, and it makes me really happy on cold, windy days.

Here's how I did it:

Okay, if you've got a dog, then undoubtedly when they "go" outside, you praise and encourage them. Perfect. If you already do this, then step one is basically complete.

Step two: Linking.

So, doggy goes poop, you say "good doggy," doggy is happy knowing he's done well.
Now we simply link that behavior and praise with another stimulus.

What stimulus to use?

Well, every time I walk Baloo, I carry with me spare plastic bags.
These will provide the stimulus.

From now on, when you walk your dog, as soon as they begin "spinning" i.e. they're moments away from "letting loose", quickly get out the plastic bag and begin crinkling it between your hands. It will make a rustling noise.

As your dog starts "pooping", continue crinkling the bag and saying "Good boy, good girl! So smart! Pooping outside like a genius dog!"

Consistency is the key here.

Accompany their "movements" with bag crinkling and praise, and watch as your dog begins to link the sound of the crinkling bag with the good feeling that accompanies getting praised AND "dropping kids off at the pool".

Now on days when I don't really want to be outside, I walk Baloo to an appropriate spot, crinkle up a bag, and blammy! Boom goes the "dynamite."

It's very simple really, but it can make life that much easier. Especially for us city folk, where time is at a premium and the weather can be brutal.

I hope this tip helps. If it does, do be so good as to tell me all about it:

Pets are great, adopt one today.

All my love and happy Monday!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stop Walk

So which is it? Stop, or walk?
No trick photography used. None needed.
New York sometimes is trick photography in itself.
This is in Brooklyn, on Fulton.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Save Water: Hack Your Toilet!

From Treehugger:

This is brilliant!

Why didn't I think of this?

Just one of the many solutions for reducing impact, a little bit every day.

I'm doing this at work and when I get home.


I Heart: Stomach

The next rational thing.

I Heart: Heart

This just popped into my head.
Anyone seen it anywhere else?
It's tough to have an original thought these days.


Just found this great blog: Streetsblog.

Their motto is: "Covering the New York City streets renaissance."

Amen to that!

We're gonna get in touch with these cats! They speakin' our language.

Just look at this wonderful piece they've got up about ways to improve streets for pedestrians:

(click HERE to watch the piece in action!)

Air Trees

Via inhabitat:

"Ecoboulevard is shaped around recycled gasworks, allowing the project to grow from repurposed industrial materials. The “air trees” share the service of pavilion, what the designers call a “social revitalizing” space. These centers have, by way of the rooting vegetation, a cooling effect on the urban environment. The open structures can also facilitate social gatherings that require electricity - each “air tree” is equipped with solar photovoltaic to meet on-site energy needs.

The architects have gone beyond the obvious benefits of reusing materials and have considered a growing urban landscape. When the plants are established, the remains of industry can be disassembled and removed, leaving behind a flourishing greenway. This aspect, what the AR Award jury referred to as “the idea that a temporary structure could make a long-term proposition about the way a city streetscape might adapt in the context of ever-hotter urban environments,” is one of the most impressive facets of the project. On its top pick this year, AR calls the Ecoboulevard “an urban intervention as delightful as it is functional.”

We need these here in NYC.

So, just to recap: They're made out of recyclables, provide clean air, electricity, a place for people to congregate, and look cool as the dickens.

Double tasty.

ReUse: Cardboard Tubes

(via Planetgreen)

"You don't need elaborate seed-starting biodomes or habitat-destroying peat pellets to get your greens to sprout. Here are a few methods that are both easy and—if you'd pardon the pun—dirt cheap.

1. Mini yogurt cups: Perhaps you or someone you know has a yogurt addiction. Wash and save the single-serving-size cups, poke a hole in the bottom-center of each container, and fill with seed-starter mix or a sterile all-purpose potting soil.

After sowing the seeds, I like to cover each container with a piece of perforated plastic (cut from newspaper and magazine baggies, then punched all over with a needle), held down by a rubber band, to maintain the moisture and humidity that promotes seedling growth.

2. Egg cartons: Used egg cartons are perfect for raising seedlings, when you use them to prop up halved eggshells you've saved. Poke a small hole at the bottom of each eggshell and then fill them with soil and seeds. I'm also a fan of stuffing egg shells with Earth Plugs, which are made of composted bark fiber and are inoculated with natural rooting hormones, and then popping a few seeds in the hole of each plug.

If you're using a plastic egg carton, shutting the lid results in your own homemade mini-greenhouse. Cardboard-carton "pots", on the other hand, are splendid because they can be transplanted straight into the ground—the cardboard fibers will eventually decompose in the soil, allowing the roots to poke through.

3. Toilet roll: You Grow Girl has easy-to-follow instructions on making a wee seed-starter pot out of a toilet roll. A few strategic snips with a pair of scissors and some folding are all it takes. You still have plenty of time to start your hoarding.

4. Newspaper: A little origami magic turns a single sheet of newspaper into a seed-starter pot that you can later plant whole into your garden in late spring or early summer. No glue, no muss, and very little fuss, this is the perfect indoors activity to keep your hands busy as you're dreaming of warmer weather.

Difficulty level: Easy"

Easy, fun, and good for your fellow man.

Thank you, Planetgreen!

Project Optimism

(via swissmiss)

Project Optimism Site

Positivity is so hot right now.



Thursday, January 24, 2008

NY Street Snaps: Follow-Up

One day later...

Smashed. Very beautiful. 26th & 11th. South side of the street.