Although Elaine and I are planning to sell our “state park-like” setting in the woods and move back to the Big City – wherever that is – we have also considered staying out here in the woods and wait for [whatever] here.  Along the way, we have been adding lots of small “tweaks” to the home to make it more enjoyable as the years roll by…

Here are a few things we’ve found really enjoyable and most don’t cost that much money…

Lever Door Knobs:  This is one I picked up from my sister.  She, in turn, had found out about it from friends with carpal tunnel.  Thing is, regardless of your wrists,, lever door knobs everywhere are really nice.

Take, for example, when UPS drops off a package at the house and I need to carry it over to the shop.  With the lever knob, just a slightly higher lift and then set a corner of the box on the door and press forward.  Try doing that with a knob!

Alexa devices everywhere:  Yeah, lots of worries about AI and loss of privacy, but if you think there’s much privacy left in the world to preserve, you are seriously deluded, my friend.  To be sure, there are trade-offs.

If you’re willing to have Alexa scanning your speech all the time for the “wake word” what you can put are an amazing number of features.  Some of the most-used here?

  • Every room on the property can make phone calls to summon police or emergency medical.
  • Also, the same (tied in to your cell number) technology means we can call people we want to talk to by simply saying “Alexa, call so-and-so…”
  • Then there is the intercom function.  Say Elaine has an odd pop-up on her computer and I’m in the office in the other building.  “Alexa, drop in on Office” and my unit comes to life.  We chat, the problem solved and neither one of us had to go anywhere.
  • The Intercom function also allows you to use a Kindle and be a thousand miles away and eavesdrop on any device in your own home.  Most enlightening!
  • Then there are light controls.  We can turn off either building, all buildings, and so forth.
  • In addition you can turn on specific pieces of equipment.  “Alexa turn on studio” fires up all the equipment in the home studio equipment rack along with all the amplifiers, equalizers and so forth.  The lighting is called “Paramount” in honor of Adam Beilenson and Mike Kern’s Paramount Recording Group in Los Angeles who were helpful to me when I was in the recording engineer school business in Burbank & Anaheim (back in the day).  There is just a certain “vibe” to a studio that is hard to put into words…  In my office, I can turn on to “warm up” tube type radios (to settle down their drift) by saying “Alexa, turn on ham radios…”

If you are seriously paranoid, or plotting to overthrow the duly elected government, then Alexa  may not be for you.  We don’t know if that includes half the democrats, or not.

Ease of Groceries:  This is another one of those easy to solve, but few people put the mental effort into it up front.  The problem is stairs and age.  Right now, we park the car under the screen porch which means every bit of stuff from the store comes up 14-stairs and through two doors.

We are penciling out a couple of ways to reduce the effort here.  One option would be to set up the recording studio door (3 steps) which would reduce effort.  But, then we’d be tracking through the house…

Another option would be to come up the 7-steps up onto the front deck.  Either way, we’d move the car back under the screen porch.  Unless… we put in a new garage and turn the current car-park into a passively cooled summer ”
cool room” and back-fill with dirt around a couple of new concrete walls…  (See how this leads to a lot of decisions?)

The other idea (Elaine’s) was to set up a big dumb-waiter (besides moi) to carry things up.  We flipped around YouTube and are still enthralled with the idea of a garage door opener, stood up vertically in a new addition to the building, which could handle a hundred and fifty pounds of groceries in one run up.

We’re still thinking about that one.

Chair…in the Bathroom?  Yeah…one of the nicest features of the master bath here is we have room for a comfortable chair.  Not a lounger, but something like a kitchen chair.

When we were young (under 70) things like the flexible hose shower head and a chair to sit in to dry between your toes didn’t natter a whit.  But now?  There’s a lot to be said for an actual sitting chair in a bathroom and most designs we have seen in “homes designed by others” don’t think this kind of thing through worth a damn.

Same thing with those “designer” rain-emulating shower heads.  Sure, they look all pretty and such.  But, with the flexible shower head, you can dial up “fire hose” pressure and blast dirt out of all kinds of places quickly and with almost no work.

Been out working in the yard?  Fire hose under the fingernails.  Next?  With that designer-looking crap, there are times I’d be  10-minutes getting the nails clean even with a nail brush.

Walk-in Shower:  This is another one we “got right” when we did the house over.  The master bath shower is about 3-1/2 by 4-1/2 – so lots of room.  There’s also a shower in the gym/guest room (a bit smaller, but not a tiny one) and that makes all kinds of sense when aging.

With anti-skid mats and such, the risk of falls is reduced and the statistics on people dying of falls as they get older is surprising. One of the problems in looking for a new place to live is that that many new homes default to tubs in each bathroom (listing, family appeal and all) but showers suit us better.  We’ve always wondered about “floating around in wastewater” and how do you get ALL the soap off and so forth…

Deck and Shoe Testing:  Hadn’t mentioned it before but a few weeks back in the rain, I was coming out of the house, headed for the office with a full head of steam on, and I turned too quickly and out went my feet from under me.

Turned out it was the combination of Sketchers tennis shoes, which are damn comfortable and a thin layer of water on the deck that made things almost icy-like to walk on.  Same problem on wet tile at the bank…like ice-skating.

So, I will likely pick up a pair of TopSiders or other non-skid while wet boat shoes.  Not as comfortable for walking, but a damn-sight safer on slippery decks afloat, and turns out, ashore.

Solar LED Motion-Lights Everywhere:  They only cost about $10-bucks each, so every stairway has at least one (and as many as five) motion-sensing solar powered lights.

Downside:  The cats playing outside at night turn them on (as do the coons and possums) but better to see what you’re doing when you go out.

These are just a few things to noodle on while you go about your life.  Most people don’t have the “Let’s find a problem to solve” outlook that we do.  But, that’s because we focus on living a non-distracted life.

Some day, try to turn off all your inputs (phone, tablet, TVs…) and just go about life maybe reading a book.  Make notes on anything in your life that could use “optimizing.”

Then, once you have a list, set about solving each and every one of them.  Individually, it’s not a big deal, but over the long-haul you’ll be taking better care of yourself.  Not only will you become more “efficient” but also safety risks and conveniences will be increase and that all boils down to the thing that really kills people:

Stress levels.

Write when you chill out,

The World’s “Wasted People”
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