Can We Get Outlets Off The Floor?

A while back, I put in a bunch of safety outlet plates into my home in the interest of baby-proofing, and got to thinking – why on Earth are outlets generally installed less than two inches off the ground? Beyond the baby electrocution issue, you have to bend over to plug in and unplug everything, and aside from floor lamps, I can’t think of anything that benefits from the toe-high location.

Given the opportunity to build or renovate my own home in the future, I’m going to install all of the electrical outlets 1/3 of the way up the wall (standard chair rail height, usually 32-40 inches above the floor), unless someone can give me a reason not to.


  • no baby zapping, and it will keep most cords out of toddlers’ reach
  • no bending over to plug in and unplug; great for people with limited mobility
  • no need for extra long cords when using appliances or charging phones atop a table
  • reduce need to move couches or climb under tables to access the outlets behind
  • no ugly cords dangling below a wall-mounted television
  • extra/open outlets could be used for lighting with a simple plug-in sconce
  • with plugs easier to reach, people are less likely to yank the cord, reducing wear


  • Floor lamps would look funny with dangling cords
  •  Really short people might resent me

That’s really all I can come up with.  Am I missing a good reason to continue putting outlets on the floor? Is it just the risk that people would leave electronics dangling by the cord?

Fall 2013

I haven’t written anything in a while. Just in case anyone’s reading this, here’s the update:

Had a baby. Cute, right? J is amazing and healthy and happy and huge, and he has been an incredible source of joy and inspiration. I bounce all of my design, writing and other creative ideas off  him, he replies by kicking me and chuckling, and the ideas somehow grow stronger through the process. We’re working on our first collaborative piece, a children’s book called Hieronymus the Autonomous Hippopotamus.

Eating with zeal! Like father, like son.

Launched a business. I took those etched glass pieces I posted  last October and started selling them on Etsy. I’ve expanded to a range of glass pieces, hand-made bar tools, and kits to make your own bitters (hot sauce and coffee liqueur kits coming soon). I’m also hoping to sell my laser-cut plywood coffee cup cuffs, but product development has been slow. I’ve got a million other pieces in mind, and not nearly enough time to make them all, so feel free to buy a piece, and put me a few bucks closer to being able to design full time. You can also show support by “liking” us on Facebook!

The Libation Lab Etsy Shop

Giving Tours. For a over a year, I’ve been leading culinary walking tours of different San Francisco neighborhoods with a local company called Edible Excursions, and they’ve asked me to design and lead the new Craft Cocktail Tour, which has been a lot of fun.

My first day on the job as a Cocktail Tour Guide



Redundancies and Contingencies

Too often a colleague or student will attempt to give a presentation and the PowerPoint deck will fail  (for any one of a million reasons). I’ve never had a class of 15 or more students where every presentation ran properly.

I’ve started including in presentation assignments that students should “prepare a slideshow presentation, saved in .ppt format, then export it as a .pdf and a series of .jpg images, all of which should then be emailed to yourself and another classmate (and sometimes me), uploaded to Google Drive, sent to Dropbox (write the download url on your arm in Sharpie), copied onto a flash drive which you keep on your keychain and burned onto a CD-ROM.

I let them know that I won’t be checking to make sure they took all these steps, UNLESS they tell me in class that they can’t give their presentation.

The best part of this system and the way the universe seems to function: if you have your presentation available in several ways, the first attempt will always work. If you show up with only one copy, it’s likely to fail.


Organizational / Financial Life-Hacking


2013 is guaranteed to be the busiest year of my life. There’s already a lot going on, more coming down the pipeline at breakneck speeds, and late last year I started a new business.

The Libation Lab Store is an extension of my cocktail blog, and my insatiable desire to create. I posted a few custom bar accessories I crafted to Facebook, and friends immediately pushed me to start selling, so I ran a test on Etsy and pieces flew off the virtual shelves. I was unprepared for the rush of orders, having launched just before the holiday frenzy and could barely keep up with demand.

Now that I am starting on my taxes, I’m scrambling to find all those crumpled wads of expense receipts scattered all over my home and office. I ordered a document scanner to help eliminate the paper, and then realized that I am probably better off just photographing and organizing all of them with Evernote. Regardless, I will be digitizing in batches, and knowing me, probably not until next January, so I need a reliable solution I can stick with.

Ultimately, I went low-tech and ugly. I glued an envelope to the wall of my office and home office, and every time I get another receipt, I just tuck it into the back. It ain’t pretty, but it works, and it’s glued to the wall, so even I will have a hard time losing it.

Anyone else got any surefire organizational tips to make life better? Feel free to add them to the comments.

Update (2/25/13): I’ve worked out a great system for organizing receipts through Evernote. After trying a few 3rd party apps, I realized that there is no good, free receipts app, and none of the paid apps were worth my money, so I’ve done the following:

1. Set up a notebook stack called  “receipts” with a notebook for each write-off category by year (ie. “Store2012”, and “Tour 2013” to track expenses for my online store and my tour guide job).
2. New receipts get immediately photographed with the Evernote app and added as a new note to the appropriate notebook in this format: $[price] [vendor] [category] [date] (ie. $22.70 USPS shipping 12/6/2012).
3. Create an “inbox” notebook and make it your default notebook. If you only have a second to photograph a receipt, it will wait for you here to later be titled and put it in the right notebook.
4. Set up a filter in GMail, so any email including the word “receipt” is automatically forwarded to my Evernote email address. These will sit in my “inbox” until I can re-title and place them in the right notebooks. This will cause a bit of “spam” in the inbox notebook, but it is easy enough to delete them all.
5. Set a weekly calendar reminder (I use and a half-hour blocked off on my Outlook calendar) to organize inbox receipts.
5. At tax time, it’s as easy as opening up each notebook and adding up the prices in the left column.

An old roommate and I started a list of the items we love, but fear ordering in restaurants, because when they are anything less than perfect, they are perfectly atrocious.

  • Fish Tacos
  • Calamari or Octopus
  • Gnocchi
  • Breakfast Sausage
  • Mojitos
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Pâté
  • Tapioca
  • Cheesesteak
  • Coffee Ice Cream

If we missed any, feel free to post them in the comments.

October 2012

It’s the first of October and I just realized I still haven’t paid my rent.

I also haven’t been writing, here or elsewhere, so i thought I would post an update at least.

My August plan to be a hermit was a success:

  • I quit smoking on the first of August; still going strong.
  • I went to 38 90-minute yoga classes within the month of August.
  • I rarely left the house and spent little money.
Maybe I went too long without spending money, because I strangely stoked about a bunch of new stores opening in SF this month. First off, there is a Target opening two blocks from my office, which is the first in the city, to my knowledge. Most people might find this offensive, but I am thrilled to be able to buy the basics at a reasonable price without taking a BART train to the ‘burbs. The other two are Japanese chains, Muji for design-forward home goods that are unbranded and reasonably priced, and Uniqlo, which seems to be the Japanese equivalent of H&M with a cult following. All of their ads are for $10 jeans in every color of the rainbow.
I think I will go back to being a spendthrift hermit for much of October. I am deep into a number of new projects and really should be putting my energy there.Foremost is a new line of upcycled/upscale drinking accessories, mostly from reclaimed glass that I am designing and etching to make conversation pieces for the home bar. Below is the Drinker’s Dictionary Decanter and the Whiskey On The Rocks decanter and glass combo. I’m working on a number of different bottles, flasks and other curiosities that I will be posting soon, either on Etsy, or my own online shop very soon.

August 2012

Alright, June was a month of experimentation, and July was too busy to focus on myself at all, so August is going to be all about me!

I was inspired by this post on ZenHabits on simplifying your life. Give it a read. NO REALLY, READ IT NOW! IT WILL TAKE YOU TWO MINUTES. I don’t mind waiting.

For the entire month of August:

1. I’m not spending any money. If you want to hang out with me, either you’re coming over and letting me cook you dinner (I warn you, it will probably be healthier than what I have cooked for you in the past. Seriously, I bought a kick-ass juicer) or you’re buying me drinks or a ticket to Outside Lands, to which I will drag my heels and only go kicking and screaming, because…

2. I am going to be a hermit. The last week of July, I’ll be in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. I am spending 8 days in the Big Easy at a liquor industry conference. I will indulge in all manner of debauchery, degradation and delinquency. I will do shameful things and yet I will feel no shame… until I get home. This introvert must endure over a week of events, parties, networking and hotel living, so when I get home, I’m going to need a month of very little, so to prevent lethargy, sloth and the effects of inertia…

3. I’m going to go to yoga every day. By September, I will be able to scratch the back of my head with my toes. I won’t actually do this, but I will take great comfort in knowing that I could if I wanted to. I will be in the best  shape of my life, just in time for the whatever comes after bathing suit season.

4. I’m gonna get shit done. When I return to the city, my department will have moved from a shared, open space to private offices, which is going to be a–may–zing for me and my ADD. I already get more done than everyone else, but I’ve been so much less productive through this past year in the bullpen. I’m going to redesign, finish all of the half-written articles saved in the “draft” folder of this site and on Libation Lab, build out my portfolio site, purge my worldly possessions, take more photos, create the wood-block prints that have been back-burnered too long, and more!


Bonus: Here’s a picture I took of a fish and a new recipe I’ve been working on– it’s not pretty enough to be photographed, but it tastes great on crackers, buttered toast or as a sandwich spread.

Chicken Liver Pâté

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 medium shallot, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound chicken livers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 anchovy or sun-dried tomato, fine dice
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons cream

1. Cut fat and connective tissue from the livers.
2. Brown 1 tablespoon butter in a large pan over medium heat . Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Add the livers, spaced out, so they brown well.
3. Season with salt and pepper and flip livers once the first side browns, about 2 minutes. Once the second side has browned add garlic, capers, thyme, and anchovy or tomato and sauté another minute.
4. Remove from heat and add brandy. Raise heat to high and boil down brandy to the consistency of syrup, 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool.
5. Add remaining butter and cream and blend with an immersion blender, or just in a blender. Chill before serving.

The Plan for June 2012

A friend recently mentioned that every month, he tries to develop a new, positive habit and engages in some sort of month-long life-hacking experiment.

I’m intrigued, so starting with the Month of June, I’ll do the same.

Experiment: Only eat half of what is on my plate when dining out.
Reason: I overeat, and portion control is my biggest issue.

Habit: Lay out my clothes at night for the next day (ideally on Sunday for the entire week ahead).
Reason: I’m worthless when I first wake up, and what should be a 30-second decision on what to wear can last ten minutes when I am not fully awake. It’s not that I am finicky or particularly concerned for style, it’s just that I can’t process decision-making of any kind when I first wake up.

Note: I’m getting back into TechShop in June as well, and I’d like to prototype a new storage concept that came to me a while back: a single clothes hangar that holds everything you are going to wear on a given day, rather than laying out three hangars with the shirt, pants and jacket, and then pulling out socks, underwear, undershirt, and a belt, not to mention the occasional sweater, tie, scarf, hat, etc., everything could go onto these hangars on laundry day, and I wouldn’t have to think about what to wear for a couple weeks; just grab the next hanger.

It’s enough to make me want to switch to a wardrobe of just mechanic’s coveralls. In fact, if/when I start a cult or hire interns, that’s going to be dress code.

Radicchio Caesar

My last trip to Portland, OR was another culinary delight, and one favorite was the selection of salads at Nostrana and her sister restaurant, Oven and Shaker. The Dinosaur Kale salad at O&S was superb, but the Nostrana Salad, on offer at both restaurants, was absolutely killer. It was just a very rich radicchio Caesar, but it’s unforgettable. Here’s my best shot at an homage.

Radicchio Caesar

Note: all three components can be prepared a day in advance and combined (step 4) just before serving.

1 large head of Radicchio
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or less)
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
3 cups focaccia, cut to 1″ cubes
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1. Slice the Radicchio and soak for 2 hours in ice water (it crisps the leaves and leeches out the bitterness).
2. In a mason jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, combine vinegar, wine, mayo, yolk, garlic, anchovy, and sugar. Shake vigorously until emulsified, season with salt and pepper and shake again before serving.
3. Preheat oven to 400F. Toast bread on a baking sheet on the center rack until golden on all sides, 6-8 minutes. While toasting, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the rosemary and sage and saute until the herbs are fragrant, about 2 minutes. In a large bowl, pour the butter mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Store in an airtight container at room temperature if preparing ahead.
4. Toss radicchio with dressing, grate a generous amount of cheese into the salad and top with croutons.