By now, you've probably heard all about a rather large and unruly gal named Irene, who after a quick but destructive jaunt through the Caribbean, is slowly but surely making her way into the Northeastern U.S., just in time to ruin everyone's end-of-summer weekend barbecues. Boo. Minor inconveniences aside, Hurricane Irene is a storm of "historic" proportions and should be taken seriously. So, please, if you're in Irene's path — she certainly has an ample one at 290 miles — take proper care and be optimistic ...  but also get the hell out if need be. 

Getting the hell out is exactly what I did earlier this evening since I live in the very low-lying waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook in Brooklyn, one of New York City's mandatory evacuation zones. I'm not riding this one out. I spent most of my afternoon duct taping giant "Xs" on all seven of my windows (question: does this actually do any good?), stuffing random odds and ends into plastic storage bins, and moving furniture into the center of the living room in my fourth-floor walk-up before throwing a tarp over it (pre-tarp photo above). I also spent 40 minutes in line waiting to check out at Fairway, my local supermarket. Imagine the day before Thanksgiving times 10 (but with a shortage of bottled water and more panic). 

Until its safe to return to my own home, I'll be camping out a friend's apartment elsewhere in Brooklyn where in addition to the requisite items — batteries, bottled water, flashlights, non-perishables, first aid kit, etc. — there's enough arts and crafts projects, carb-heavy treats (photo evidence pictured below), and tawdry V.C. Andrews paperbacks recently procured from eBay to keep us occupied for a few days. Plus, we've got enough candles to light up St. Patrick's Cathedral for at least a week. And on the topic of candles, another friend of mine just emailed to report that she was "apparently the last person to think to buy candles so my apt will smell of a mix of vanilla cupcake, melon, and Christmas morning!" Ha. 

I'll (hopefully) be back in action — from my own home or from elsewhere — come Monday. Until then, stay safe and (don't forget about the pets, especially those pugs) if and when big, bad Ms. I marches through your neighborhood. And as always, I'm leaving you with a few items for your weekend reading pleasure ... provided that you have electricity. And please, feel free to share any hurricane-proofing tips, tropical cyclone-related gripes, or supermarket horror stories in the comments section. Over and out. 

The New York Times talks shop with Mike Wolfe, the salvage-happy co-star of "American Pickers" (not to be confused with the potential horror movie, "Picker Sisters" on Lifetime). According to the NYT, Wolfe is a "fast-talking and persistent" Iowan who "can sniff out a unique or valuable antiques like a bloodhound." 

The Daily Mail helps to remind the world that actor, humanitarian, and architecture enthusiast Brad Pitt is selling his Malibu compound for $13.75 million. Features include bamboo flooring, renovation work by "environmentally conscious designer" Christopher R. Sorensen, and beach access.

ScienceDaily examines new findings that claim the delightful, springtime meadow-scented air wafting through your household laundry vents (courtesy fragranced dryer sheets and liquid detergent) isn't all so good for you as it contains "hazardous chemicals." Another reason to be wary of fragrances, folks.  

Gizmodo recommends "7 Tools to Assemble the Ultimate Dorm Room" all of which are super cool (and help to "make your place less of a condemned rat's nest") but a bit out of reach for most college students that aren't looking to sacrifice a semester's meal plan for a $2,000 portable bar.

Jetson Green takes a gander at a new book and a slew of new home plans (they can be all yours for $49) from Jay Shafer's fabulous Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

The Los Angeles Times pays a visit to the North Hollywood Community Garden, a beautiful neighborhood plot where "farm poop is garden gold," for the 44th (!) installment of the most excellent L.A. at Home column, Community Gardens Dispatch. 

The Hairpin blesses us with another edition of "Ask a Clean Person," this one on how to tackle move-in and move-out rental apartment cleaning even if the apartment's previous tenant was "slaving away on a Master’s thesis in taxidermy and artisanal Limburger production."

Designboom admires Brit designer Tom Back's "Thrive Hive," a wood and woven stray beehive prototype that "uses traditional hive weaving techniques with a structural framework which makes it possible to provide a habitat that is both suitable for the bees and the beekeeper." 

EcoHome rounds up "7 Innovative Insulation Materials" including Foamglas, vacuum insulation panels, and good-old natural wool. 

And in other natural disaster related news ... Inhabitat wonders "How Vulnerable are New York City's Skyscrapers to Hurricanes?" The short answer? "It's complicated." (With Irene taking over the media, it seems like that this week's small but startling tremor in Virginia was ages ago, right?)

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.