Smart Car + Smart Phone = Smart Errands

The hose I borrowed temporarily had such a rubbery taste that Raffi wouldn't drink the water. Getting a drinking quality hose was a priority today, so I decided to try out Portland's newest public-private transportation option. Car2Go is a car rental program utilizing a collection of blue and white Smart cars that are perpetually scattered across the city by one-way trips. Here's how it worked for me:

  • I became a member a couple weeks ago during the trial period while the memberships were free. Yay!  I downloaded the app for my android phone.
  • I woke up this morning and decided to see where the closest car was. (I hadn't even gotten out of bed at this point. Thank you smart phone!)
  • I made breakfast, tended to my chicken, put on my shoes, grabbed my bag and my shopping list, and walked the eight blocks to the closest Car2Go.
  • I held my membership card over the little panel on the windshield and the car unlocked.
  • I hopped in, answered a few questions about the vehicle's condition, set my destination on the GPS, and headed out.
  • When I got there, I selected the "Stopover" option so that I could extend my reservation while I was in the store and the car would still be there when I returned.
  • When I was done I parked the car, answered a few more questions, held my membership card over the panel at the windshield, and went about my day.

My downfall was this: I didn't make sure the store had everything I needed before setting out. Since Car2Go charges by the minute, my first trip ended up being a total waste of time and money. I've decided that Car2Go is a great option for spur of the moment trips since you don't have to make a reservation like you do with ZipCar and Getaround. You also don't have to return the car to the place you found it, which can save lots of time and hassle. But it's worthwhile to use your smart phone prior to hopping into that smart car to make sure that your errand isn't a wild goose chase.

I was after a drinking quality hose and a hose splitter for my water supply and coconut coir for my compost toilet. I'd already been to a couple little garden shops in search of coconut coir blocks and they didn't have them. I'd purchased coconut coir at a big yucky corporate hardware store in the past so I decided to go ahead and go there since they'd have everything I needed. They didn't. I shouldn't have been surprised since I don't think I've ever left that place satisfied! Nevertheless, I had another good reason to support my local hardware store, which I knew carried the recycled rubber drinking quality hoses. Unfortunately, they didn't open for another hour and I didn't want to pay for the car that whole time. So I parked it on my street and finished my reservation. (Couldn't resist pulling the car into my driveway first though for a photo.) Fortunately, no one else got the bright idea to use that particular car so the car was waiting for me an hour later. I was able to get the hose and splitter from my local hardware store and be home again in no time.

I imagine I'll still use my bike for most of my trips, even errands that involve some hauling. But it's nice to know that Car2Go is a convenient option for opportunistic auto-ing.

Known By the State of California

The garden hose I'd hooked up burst earlier this week so I decided it was time to hunt for a drinking quality hose. One of the scary things about hoses is that so many of them have a disclaimer that says "warning: contains a chemical known by the state of California to cause cancer." That's the sort of thing that's worth avoiding, so I called around and found that a local hardware store carried drinking quality hoses that are also made from recycled materials. Bingo!

Trouble was, when I stopped by on Wednesday they didn't have them in the right length. So I went back today and picked up the hose they'd ordered in for me. I packed it into my backpack and headed home on the bus. I got it hooked up this evening and it does reach, but only barely.

My host and I have talked about digging a trench to run the water and electricity underground, but for now above ground seems fine. She has decided she might want a drinking quality hose, too, so she'll probably pick one up this weekend and we'll put the two together which will allow us to snake it from the back spigot which can be dedicated for the tiny house. If we get around to the trench later these two hoses can be used in the garden.
So it's taken two full weeks for me to get all the utilities running just right because I've been busy with school and a weekend out of town, but I think if I'd been a little better prepared it would have been a cinch.

Tiny Home Improvement

Classes started on Monday so I've been busy the past few days, but today I didn't have classes so my host and her friend helped me with a couple of little house projects.

First, I understand that they don't sell 12 gauge green extension cords because they don't want you to run over them with the lawn mower, but I think they should make them anyhow and figure some of us do know what we're doing. My host ended up coming up with a great solution when she picked up a bright yellow extension cord and a can of green spray paint. We think it will blend in with the grass really nicely!
Another project was adding flat rungs to the ladder Brittany had built. She did a great job creating a safe ladder: the angle is nice and it hooks over a little lip at the bottom edge of the loft so that it won't slip out from under you. But it had round rungs which are a little uncomfortable for my feet and impossible for my cat Raffi to use. He's pretty savvy with ladders, but the round rungs were unmanageable, so I decided to add flat rungs to make it more workable for both of us. The result is a Raffi-approved ladder that will allow both of us to climb up to the sleeping loft safely and easily.

A friend also helped me set up a greywater system for the tiny house. We got some corrugated pipe with holes and some without at our local hardware store. Then we ran the non-perforated pipe from the drainage pipe underneath the house across the path and connected it up with the perforated pipe which we placed in a ditch where my host has been planning to plant bushes. I'll have to be really careful about not letting anything down the drain, but this system should work well because every time I run water from my kitchen sink it will water the plants!
Now that I have some place for water to go I have hooked up a garden hose so I'll have running water! I may replace it with a drinking quality hose soon, but this will do for now. Even on backpacking trips I've had pretty good access to water so I don't think I've ever appreciated running water as much as I have today!
I really enjoyed using candles the past few days so I have to remind myself I can still have an evening by candlelight whenever I want. It is awfully nice to have electricity! Now I can charge my laptop and cell phone, use the task lighting, and microwave leftovers.
I bought water and electric meters, too, so that I can see how much energy and water I'm using. I've always been pretty stingy with my water and electricity use (former housemates will vouch for that!), but I think living in the tiny house will give me an even better understanding of my resource consumption. They haven't arrived in the mail yet, but I'm eager to try them out.