life stories

the center of the universe is the brain

Archive for the month “May, 2009”


Very few things geek me out more than rearranging a room. I’ve had the same office for about four years now and rearranged things at least once a year. This past year I got rid of most of the furniture. I use a bookshelf for my computer desk. This arrangement was devised to lessen the number of surfaces where things (paper) could  pile up. That idea has failed miserably because there’s still the floor.

Now I’m in the process of hiring an assistant who will share this space. Presumably most people prefer working from a desk rather than a shelf so the search for office furniture began. Thankfully, we have an amazing Purchasing Manager, Frances Mesa. I gave her an idea of what I was looking for an she found the perfect solution. Then I had to measure and draw to make sure it fit. My rough sketches can be so rough that they are indecipherable by anyone other than myself.

[aside: My husband just shouted, “Heh, he’s a Pisces.” I know whom he’s talking about but this outburst has me distracted and confused because astrology is not in his repertoire.]

That’s when my search for simple floor layout software began. The strangest part of this effort was that not a single homepage of the companies that popped up in the search mentioned what operating system they were compatible with. I assumed the default would be Mac OS X. I was wrong.

After looking at several offers of free downloads which were just sales teasers, I tried the room arranger on BHG’s site. First of all, the site is a cluttered mess. Second of all, when I finally found the room arranger amid the clutter, it was so basic as to render it useless.

At long last, I came upon Floor Planner. Free for one layout and so easy to use but complete I considered upgrading. I quickly set up my office and moved furniture in all directions. Stacked desks one on top of the other. Included a pet bed and mud by the door. I haven’t messed up my assistant’s desk yet.

The space is close as any space fills up quickly once you start putting furniture in it. But here’s the best plan so far:


Floor Planner proved to be a good choice for my purpose. However, the annual fee and a few quirks in the program caused me to chose to the basic free plan. I’d still recommend it if you have a simple project.

The problems I ran into with Floor Planner include:

  • Entryway door disappeared several times
  • Upon saving, the entryway door rotated 180°
  • Layers are arranged by order of placement
  • Image export did not work
  • Embed code did not work

None of these issues was insurmountable. Reading the forums, it’s possible some of these issues are resolved in the paid version of the program. If price were a single payment, I would probably sign up even with these unresolved issues. However, an annual fee of $27.50 is not a value for my personal use. Floor Planner is also available in Professional and Enterprise editions.

Floor Planner was simple and fun to use. For my purpose, the free personal edition worked fine and I will probably use it for other rooms in my life whenever it is time to rearrange things.


Indoor Person’s Garden

For many years, until I moved into a sunless basement apartmen, I raised a variety of houseplants. Many of them were unusual and fascinating. But the cheap apartment won over a hobby I hadn’t really thought about; it was simply something I did.

Then I had a sunny apartment and a few plants but a kitty came to live with me who preferred that the plants be dead. He won.

Still I didn’t give much thought to this hobby. I’ve never been a gardener per se. I hate bugs and I hate being hot. Indoor plants on the other hand, add so much to a space – a softness and sense of nurturing – without the bugs and many times without the heat.

But there are kitties to be reckoned with. My first cat, Arcadio, past away last fall so one might expect my home to be rather jungle-like by now. No, kitties rule and Ophelia joined us in February. She immediately started chewing on the lucky bamboo.

Today is the first day I’ve ever really dedicated any thought to my passion for plants. It was as I filled four planters with various annuals that it hit me how good it feels to place the roots in the soil; make sure they have enough space and water. Can’t do much about the sun.

They add so much more to my home than the investment I put into them in terms of money and effort. All summer long, they’ll bloom and smile regardless of what sort of day I’ve had. It’s a neutral hobby. I don’t have to DO anything beyond fill and pour the watering can. I don’t have to rely on steady hands or patience, having the right materials on hand or waiting for the right weather.

One thing is for certain, I won’t forget this joy or ever again take it for granted. And never again will I live in a sunless basement apartment.


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