Friday, April 16, 2010

A Week of Transit

For one week I documented my transportation around the city to see how far I traveled and by what mode of transit I travel most often. This does not necessarily reflect a typical week, but for the seven days of April 4-10 I wrote down my destinations and used Google Maps to estimate my distance, and this is what I got. I went out at least once a day, but never more than twice, as I was able to combine multiple destinations into single trips. This documentation only reflects my getting from one place to another, and not the walking around that I do once I get there. Sarah came along with me for most of these trips, but this is meant to follow the urban navigations of one city dweller.

On Sunday, we rode the bus to church 3.3 miles, and walked 0.7 miles getting to and from the bus stops. Our church is located on the other side of the river near the Rose Quarter and Convention Center. Afterwards, a friend gave us a ride home in his car, 4.0 miles. People seem troubled to see us walking to the bus stop, so rides are offered fairly often after church.

Monday I worked my very infrequent part-time job, where I am helping a friend build a house. I got to the site 7.3 miles away, riding with my friend in his car. In the afternoon, I took the MAX (light rail) home, 5.0 miles, and walked 0.5 miles to and from the stations. Luckily, the house we are building is just a few blocks from a MAX station.

The next day, Tuesday, I made one walking trip in which I stopped at three stores. The total loop was 1.8 miles, stopping at Trader Joe's, Ace Hardware, and Fred Meyer; all in the Northwest Neighborhood. We usually get groceries a few times a week so that the bags can be easily carried. We get groceries from Trader Joe's and Fred Meyer fairly equally, and occasionally we shop at Food Front Coop (further away, see Friday) and Zupan's Market (more expensive, and not this week).

Wednesday I went out to the church to help paint the outside of the building. I rode the MAX 2.4 miles, and walked 1.3 miles to and from the stations. Note that the mileage is different than our trip to church on Sunday, as the bus and the MAX take different routes and drop us off different distances from our destination. On the way home, I took the MAX 2.0 miles, stopped at Fred Meyer for some groceries, and walked 1.3 miles before returning home.

On Thursday we didn't have anywhere to go, but Sarah and I took a short walk up the hill to Washington Park. The total trip was 1.0 mile.

Friday was another multi-stop walking trip, again to the Northwest Neighborhood. I stopped at the bank, Food Front Coop, and Trader Joe's. Returning home, I had walked 2.5 miles. Later I walked downtown to Powell's books to browse, and stopped at the mall and a few downtown stores around the mall. I bought a new belt and Sarah bought a scarf. This is the first trip of the week to use three forms of transportation. 1.2 miles on the MAX, 0.5 miles on the Portland Streetcar, and 1.3 miles walking.

Lastly, on Saturday I made a trip to Fred Meyer, for a round trip total of 1.0 mile walking.

For the week I traveled a total of 36.9 miles. By far, the most frequent mode of transportation was walking (9 trips), followed by riding the MAX (4 trips). Since our new apartment is close to a MAX stop and our previous apartment was close to a Streetcar stop, it is interesting to see a switch in usage between these two. In general, I would expect to take more than one bus ride a week but this is just how it happened, and we usually do not rely on rides with friends, though they come along when least expected and are helpful. We would have taken the MAX or a bus for these trips. Most interestingly I didn't drive myself at all, and I notice we haven't rented a zipcar for about a month.

11.0 miles Walking (9 trips)
3.3 miles on Bus (1 trip)
10.8 miles on MAX (4 trips)
0.5 miles on Streetcar (1 trip)
11.3 miles riding with a friend (2 trips)
0 miles Driving

36.9 miles Total Transportation

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Apartment Photos

Our new apartment is a 1930's townhouse made of brick and stucco with about twenty units facing two small courtyards. Located just south of Burnside Street, we are very close to downtown and the Northwest Neighborhood where we previously lived, and just a couple of blocks away from the entrance to Washington Park, which is just up the hill. Above are our crooked stairs leading from the living room to the bedrooms.

The neighborhood is a mix of taller apartment towers like the one to the right and two-storey townhouse style buildings like ours. You enter at the center and at the back the building opens up to a courtyard.

Our unit looks out onto this courtyard in the back which contains a small fountain with singing birds and little squirrels. The morning light shines through the trees into the bedroom and living room. Olive spends many hours sitting on the wide window sill, looking at the critters outside and the other cats in the windows next door.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stacks of Diapers

Paul and I have been thinking a lot about one of the less pleasant aspects of having a new baby...all the diapers! And the stuff in them! Yuck. Not really looking forward to changing a bazillion diapers each day.

The two basic options are disposable and reusable diapers, and since we care about the amount of garbage we produce and want to waste as little as possible, we've decided reusable diapers are the way to go. The added benefit is that no matter which kind of cloth diapers one chooses, they're cheaper overall!

The most simple and least expensive cloth diaper is the prefold.

They used to come in one size, but some business genius figured out they could make more money if they sell different sizes for different ages. While one doesn't really need a smaller prefold for a newborn, I have no experience with cloth diapering, so I can't say they wouldn't be helpful. Maybe they would be awesome? These ones above are unbleached, which is a great option for people like us who want to avoid chemicals on our baby's skin and don't want to contribute to the environmental impact of bleach.

If we use prefolds, we'll also need diaper covers (also called wraps) so our baby doesn't drag its soggy bum all over the floor. Or our friends' floors. Or our friends' arms. Ew.

There are many different kinds of covers out there that are fitted and/or adjustable, and most are made of some kind of plastic. Again, we don't want to contribute to the amount of plastic that will outlive us by thousands of years in the landfills, so we think a more environmentally-friendly moisture barrier would be best. We prefer PUL (polyurethane laminate) that's free of PVC, phthalates, lead, and latex. Not all PUL is created equal! Covers made of polyester are also just plastic, which we want to avoid. As my 5th grade science project proved, plastic melts, and as we all know, it doesn't biodegrade. (Which reminds me, have you seen this?)

Here are a few different wraps made by companies that we like. Aren't they so cute?!

Thirsties Duo Wrap
This cover is awesome because only 2 different sizes are needed to cover the baby from birth to potty training. Some brands have 4-7 sizes, which means an investment every few pounds.

Bumkins Diaper Cover
These ones come in many fun prints!

gPants Diaper Covers
These ones work with prefolds as well as with the inserts they sell on their website. One nice feature of gPants is the snap-in nylon liner inside which allows for easy cleaning.

Another option, which may be better at night and after summer is over, is a wool soaker, which I can knit!

Paul says I have too much yarn anyway, so I might as well knit something practical for the baby. Wool is naturally water-resistant, but once it starts soaking, it can hold a LOT of liquid. Wool is breathable, natural, renewable, and I can dye it myself (because I do it all the time). I have lots of superwash wool, too, which means I can knit machine-washable soakers! Correction: superwash wool cannot be lanolized and used as a soaker. :( All the ones I've seen online are bland colors and pricey. Boo to that! Yay to handknits!

One of the cool things about the prefold + cover diapering method is that we'd only have to wash the prefolds, and switch out the wraps between changings so they can air out. Unless there's a "blowout" (another experience we're not looking forward to) we'd only need a handful of covers at any one time.

Another reusable diaper method is an all-in-one cloth diaper, which is as simple as a regular disposable, except you wash and reuse it. These are better than pocket diapers because you don't have to stuff it with an insert, and you just wash the whole thing. We think it would be nice to have some of these on hand for occasional use such as trips, or when someone else might be changing the baby.

SposoEasy All-In-One Diapers
These ones are all-cotton, and supposedly don't leak!

bumGenius One-Size All-In-One
This seems like the ultimate awesome of diapers. It's fully adjustable so one size fits all, it's all-in-one with the option of adding layers, and it's organic!

Now that we've done our research, we feel more prepared for diapering though we're still intimidated by the whole process of changing and washing diapers. Maybe someday our child will appreciate all this.

**UPDATE: We've gotten some feedback from a few friends who are cloth diapering their new babies. It seems that all the various adjustable diaper covers they've used don't work well for newborns--there's room around the skinny legs and they just don't fit well. So we're planning on getting the special extra-small size covers for the first couple of months until the baby's big enough for the duos (adjustable).

Also, I heard from a girlfriend who bought gDiapers secondhand that the waterproofing wears off after 5 months, so her secondhand purchase didn't help her out much! Also, those covers didn't leave room for the healing umbilical cord.