31 July 2009

No doubts about Doubt

I went to see John Patrick Shanley's Doubt at the American Stage in St. Pete last night. Doubt took Broadway by storm and won the 2005 Tony for Best Play, the Pulitzer for Drama and the Drama Desk Award. I was in New York in 2005 and I couldn't get a ticket to see it. It was frustrating, but what can you do? I knew it would trickle down to the regional theaters eventually. I'm a big booster of our professional theater in St. Pete and I knew that they'd not only do the show, but that they'd do a great job with it. Starting in 2009, Doubt started working its way into regional Equity theaters and my beloved American Stage included it as the last play in its 2008-09 season.

Wow. What a masterpiece. John Patrick Shanley deserves every ounce of praise that's been heaped onto his work. If you live anywhere near an Equity playhouse and they're mounting a production of Doubt, drop what you're doing and go see it.

Well, in a great example of coincidence, the New York Times ran a profile of John Patrick Shanley yesterday and talked to him about his quirky and colorful Manhattan apartment. Gramercy Park never looked so good. I love this man's work and I love his eye. What do you make of some of these rooms?

30 July 2009

Mad Men's coming!

Here's the Dyna Moe version of me reporting for work at Sterling Cooper.

Mad Men returns for its third season on August 16th and on AMC's website, there's an interactive tool that will allow you to Mad Men-ize yourself. Give it a whirl.

I can't remember a TV show that's mesmerized me as much as Mad Men has. If you've never seen it, you have a couple of weeks to catch up on the first two seasons. It's funny, everyone I've introduced the series two has the same reaction. After seeing the first episode, everyone says "Gee, nothing happens. What's the point?" "Keep watching," I tell them. After the second episode they're hooked. The action on Mad Men reveals itself in real time, nothing happens in the typical hour-long time frame of a TV drama. Stories arc over weeks and months and years and they pull me right along. Never has a group of unhappy narcissists (who look incredible by the way) strung me along like this. The sets are perfect and the action's set against the current events of the mid-1960s. The characters are so deliciously self-absorbed that few notice that the world as they know it is about to come crumbling down.

I think though, what I appreciate most about Mad Men is the creators' steadfast refusal to inject any 21st century sensibilities into this period piece. The sexism and racism are blatant and disturbing. The lone gay character is trapped and miserable; he knows that his secret would ruin his career and life if it ever got out. Pregnant women smoke, everybody smokes for that matter. They smoke and they start drinking cocktails before lunch (at work). Their kids play with dry cleaning bags and sneak drinks. Mad men doesn't have a sentimental bone in its body, and in an alarming blast of real-ness, time unfolds without regard to who gets squashed.

It's funny, by themselves none of these characters have any redeeming qualities. I take great care in keeping people like Don and Peter and Roger and the rest of them out of my life. Yet week after week I find myself sympathizing with who ever's the least reprehensible. It's great fun, really.

So go Mad Men-ize yourself and get ready for the return of the gang from Sterling Cooper.

Bloggery housekeeping

Two things. First, I wrote a guest post for the ever delightful Jamie Goldberg yesterday. In case you missed it, here it is. Jamie's blog, Gold Notes is celebrating its one-year anniversary and to mark the occasion, Jamie asked a couple of her favorite bloggers to write a column. It's an honor to be included with such august company, let me tell you. Adrienne and Susan Palmer, Kelly James, Amir Ilin, Joni Webb and little old me. Jamie knows some cool and influential people I'll say that much. I'm still getting used to the idea of being included with this crew of taste makers. Thanks for the opportunity Jamie!

Secondly, I am still looking for some more brave volunteers to write posts here while I'm away on vacation. I have nine days up for grabs and four people have volunteered to write a post. Ideally, I'd like to fill the time that I'm gone and I'd like to see a couple more voices added to the mix. I'm considering August 8th through August 16th to be an open mike night of a sort. You can write about anything you want to, your topic needn't be kitchen, bath or design-related. Got a good story to tell? Tell it here with my blessing.

The only real rules are that you tell an interesting or useful story, don't be inflammatory and respond to any comments your post generates. What could be easier? I don't want to know what you plan to write about in advance. I'm granting author status to any takers and that means you'll write and post your story directly into this blog without my editing it.

This blog is a big part of who I am and I take it pretty seriously. With that said though, letting go of my blog for a couple of days is a good exercise for me. So whattya say? If you're a new blogger and you'd like to drive some traffic your way this is a prime opportunity. If you're not a blogger but have always wanted to give it a whirl, now's your chance. If you just need to get something off your chest in public, go for it. If you're interested in sharing the spotlight, just drop me a line.

** Added later: If you're interested but at a loss for a topic, I have a ton of story ideas in varying stages of development and they range from interviews that need to be conducted, artists and people to profile and new products to consider and review. I will pass along any of that stuff gladly if you want to take a stab at being part of the New Media.

29 July 2009

Meet the Frigidaire Flair

This is the focal point of a kitchen I'm about to start renovating.

It's a Frigidaire Flair and unfortunately, the ovens no longer work. Its owners decided to renovate their kitchen based in a large part on their frustration over not being able to find replacements parts and a service guy willing to work on it. *edited to add: the ovens DO work, it's just the springs in the doors are spent and won't stay in the upright position on their own.

It's unfortunate because the thing's in pristine condition. The owners are planning to sell it so if anybody out there's both handy and feeling nostalgic let me know, I think I can hook you up.

The Frigidaire Flair was introduced in 1962 when Frigidaire was a subsidiary of General Motors. The electric burners roll in and out of the appliance on a surface that functions like a drawer. When they're not in use, they just slide out of view. The double ovens (one's a full-size and the other's a Dutch oven) sit right at counter height. The oven doors lift up instead of swinging out. Aside from its unconventional looks, the design of the Flair makes a whole lot of sense and I can imagine that cooking on one is comfortable and efficient.

This is an ad from 1962. Frigidaire promised the Flair was The happiest thing that ever happened to cooking... OR YOU!

In an interesting side not, the Frigidaire Flair was the range in Samantha's kitchen in the TV show Bewitched. Here's a very proud Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha showing of her Frigidaire Flair.

Here's another set photo of actual food being prepared on it. Check out the open tray base to the right of the appliance in this shot.

This shot from the same set shows the oven door flipped up. Pretty slick!

What a cool appliance. I never see actual cool stuff when I'm looking over a room to be renovated and most vintage appliances I see are filthy and broken. This Flair on the other hand is in pristine shape. It's been loved and used by a woman who raised a family with food prepared every day on that range. Cooking appliances made today tend not to last for 40 years. But by the same token, people don't take care of appliances they way they once did either. So which do you think came first? Short-lived appliances or people unwilling to maintain the appliances they already have? Hmmmmm.

28 July 2009

The Fabric on Demand sample arrived and it's fantastic

On 3 July, I wrote a profile of an Internet start up called Fabric on Demand. Fabric on Demand prints small runs of user-designed fabrics affordably. After that post appeared, I started a lively e-mail correspondence with Rysa Pitner from Fabric on Demand. During the course of these exchanges, Rysa offered to run a sample yard of any design I wanted to submit to them via their website.

To keep this a group exercise, I put out a request for designs from my readers the following day. I knew that I wanted something brightly colored and on a white background because I wanted to see how this process worked clearly. The ever delightful and energetic Kelly James from Design Ties sent me some illustrations she had from a previous project that sounded like what I was looking for. In fact, they were perfect.

Kelly's design consisted of four pool balls, and based on her description I asked me to send me what she had. So Kelly sent me her medium-resolution .png files. Here they are.

I submitted the files to Fabric on Demand through their website. I asked Rysa to put them together into an half brick repeated pattern, though that's something I could have done myself. Fabric on Demand's website is extremely easy to use and that I didn't do a complete layout is no reflection on their site. Rather, it's a reflection on my being in a hurry. With that said, Fabric on Demand has an art department that's ready and willing to help anybody with the technical side of on demand fabric printing. There's nothing intimidating about this process. Use the website and if you run into a snag, they are standing by to help.

Within a day, Rysa sent me a hi-res proof and then an idea of how the pattern would look spread out over a yard of finished material.


Sample yard

I was impressed at this point and when I forwarded the proofs to Kelly, she got so excited she ordered a couple of yards for herself. She's planning to do something fantastical I'm sure, so be sure to follow Kelly's blog over the next couple of weeks to see what she does with her Kelly James original fabric.

About a week after I OK'd the proof, my sample arrived and here it is.

I am impressed mightily by how well all of this came together and the fabric sample Rysa sent me is perfect. I had these pool balls float because I wanted to see how crisp the edges would be once they were printed onto fabric. The whole print job is far cleaner than I was expecting. Further, the colors are richly saturated without making it feel like there's a ton of ink weighing anything down or stiffening things up. This fabric sample moves and handles as if it were an unadorned and unprinted woven sample. There's no real bleed though to the back either.

How they manage the level of color saturation they do while maintaining such sharp edges and minimal bleed through defies my ability to figure out how they do it. I'm stumped. All that matters though is that it looks fantastic. Fabric on Demand is really onto something here and if you've ever thought about taking a stab at fabric design I can't encourage you to do so strongly enough. Contact Fabric on Demand today!

27 July 2009

Touch this faucet!

Delta's using a new touch feature on some of their new kitchen faucets. This feature is what Delta calls Touch2O™ technology and it's pretty slick. Here's a demo video from Delta that shows how it works. I'll explain how it works in a bit.

So what's going on here is that the faucet and handle have an incredibly faint electrical current running though them. The current's supplied by a battery pack that's installed below the faucet. The power level is so low that it's imperceptible and since it's coming from a battery pack and not household current, it is physically impossible to get a shock from this system. Please make a note of that.

The lynch pin of this low-level current system is a solenoid valve in the base of the faucet. You can see the solenoid in section B of the illustration below. It's the box the water supply line runs through. A solenoid valve is essentially an electronic switch, and in this case it works like a master switch. When someone turns on the faucet, the solenoid comes to life in a manner of speaking. With the water turned on from the source and the temperature set, all you need to do to is touch the faucet spout or handle and the water will turn off. Touch it again and the water turns back on. Since this is a battery-operated system, the batteries will need to be changed periodically. Delta took this into account and integrated an indicator into the faucet. At the bottom of the fixture, there's a small LED light that shines blue when the system's activated. When the batteries start to go low, that blue LED will flash red.

There's also an automatic, four-minute cut off built into this system. If the water's left running for four minutes with no activity, it will turn itself off. A further cool feature of this technology is that it never takes over the manual operation of the faucet. At any point, someone can turn on and off the faucet conventionally, at the lever.

The whole point of this kind of switching technology is to be able to avoid touching a faucet handle with the dreaded "chicken hands." It's a perfectly valid concern by the way, "chicken hands" are an obvious source of cross contamination woes. Anybody who's suffered a bout of salmonella poisoning will tell you that practicing sensible hygiene around food is a very good thing indeed. Touch2O™ makes it easy to be smart and sensible and congratulations to Delta are in order. You can read more about Delta's new products on their website.

Finally, someone asked me on Friday if one of these faucets can be turned on accidentally by a meandering cat. The answer's an unequivocal no and a better question is why do you allow your cat climb around on your kitchen counters? Now the answer's a no because a human being has to turn on the faucet's handle from the get go. Unless you have a cat that can turn on a faucet manually, you're fine. Well, you're fine so far as the cat turning on the faucet goes. Clamoring cats bring with them a whole raft of other cross contamination woes, but I guess that's part of the joy of cat ownership. Right?

26 July 2009

Hey! The ice cream (or gelato) in a bag thing works!

I just whipped up a batch of licorice gelato using the method I picked up from The Consumerist and wrote about last week. Spurred on by Kelly's rollicking success with vanilla ice cream last weekend, I adapted the recipe to make gelato in the best flavor there is --licorizia.

I mixed some cream and milk and set it on simmer until it frothed slightly. Then I took and egg yolk and a tablespoon of sugar and whipped it in a bowl. Once whipped, I poured the warmed milk and cream into the bowl and whisked everything it until it combined. Then it was back into the saucepan over medium heat. I stirred it as it heated up and started to gel. Once sufficiently gelled, I removed it from the heat and popped it into the fridge for a couple of hours to chill. Once chilled, I poured my now gelled egg, sugar, cream and milk combo into a quart sized zip lock bag. I added two teaspoons of licorice extract I brought back from Rome. Then I filled a gallon sized zip lock half way with ice and then added six tablespoons of rock salt to the ice. I set the smaller bag inside of the larger bag, zipped it up then commenced to shaking for the required five minutes.

I didn't believe it would work. However, after five minutes I stopped shaking and removed the smaller bag. I couldn't help but notice that it was noticeably larger than it was when the whole shaking thing started. I rinsed off the top of the bag and squeezed my plastic bag gelato into a bowl and tucked in.

The lights grew dim and I could hear the sound of a distant, lone mandolin. The taste of that gelato transported me to the Piazza Della Rotonda. I could hear the water spashing in the fountain and before me blazed the blue neon sign of the best gelateria in Rome. Ahhhh.

Then I opened my eyes and cleaned up the mess left behind from making gelato in a plastic bag.

This 'n that 'n bric 'n brac 'n things

The title of this post is a borrowed line shouted by the incomparable Jennifer Saunders as her character Edina Monsoon in the funniest sit-com ever, Absolutely Fabulous. Ab Fab has its own channel on YouTube if you'd like a refresher on all things Patsy and Edina.

Anyhow, in my meanderings through the Internet every day, I come across all kinds of things that I think are funny or interesting. Most of them have nothing to do with my niche and the ones that do wouldn't make good posts for whatever reason.

So let me empty out my bookmarks on this fine Sunday morning. Here goes.

OK, this video swept across the wide expanse of the web last week and on the off chance that you missed it, the is the wedding video that has everybody talking.


At the beginning of summer, the great City of New York opened a new park and with it came a whole new definition of what a park is.

The High Line was a freight railway that ran on an elevated bed from the Meatpacking District to Hell's Kitchen on the West Side. It was built in the early 1900s and was officially de-activated in the 1980s. It was never torn down and was allowed to turn into an elevated grassland that was blocked off from the rest of the city. Fast forward about 20 years and it's now been cleaned up, replanted and turned into the world's first elevated, linear park. The High Line park has its own website and it tells the history and future of this great new resource for the people of New York. It's also one more thing to love about the de facto capital of the world.


Gary: Landlord of the Flies, is a blog written by a man named Gabe. Gabe is embroiled in a security deposit dispute with his landlord Gary. Gary's not the brightest of men, but he is one profane, racist homophobe. Because Gary has proved himself to be beyond reason, Gabe started a blog to document the carryings-on of his landlord Gary.

Gabe's posts have to be read to be believed. His blog is filled with obscenity laden voicemails and all other manner of ridiculousness exhibited by Gary. Read it and be grateful for your living arrangements.


The girls at the Mogg Blog are where I turn when I need a design-related laugh. To wit:

Only the Mogg Blogg... And thank God for them.


If you're looking for some timeless housekeeping and grocery tips, this is for you.


Florida has an introduced iguana problem to go with its introduced python problem and its introduced water monitor problem. Not to mention its walking catfish problem, Brazilian Pepper problem or any other problem out of the thousands of problems caused by the wanton importation and release of non-native, invasive species.

Something else Florida has in great supply is men and women who are quick to exploit an opportunity to make a buck. Floridians' resourcefulness and general willingness to discard what's expected is one of the many reasons I love living here. Along those lines, a quick thinker in nearby Sarasota has stumbled upon what could be a goldmine. With it comes a bad pun I'm powerless not to use. I'm calling this video from the St. Petersburg Times, "Iguana eat an iguana."


Finally, the Paint Quality Institute has an enormous amount of information on it on topics that range from the essentials of color theory to what are the hot paint colors right now. It is well worth reading and smart people will bookmark it for later reference.

25 July 2009

At the risk of being indelicate, I need to gush about a product I just discovered

As I mention all the time, I've been going to an isolated island in The Bahamas for the last couple of years, and I'm headed back there in a couple of weeks.

I'm fortunate in many ways, and one of them is my great friend JD. JD's who got me hooked on Cat Island in the first place and I owe my recently acquired love of flying to him too.

This is JD's plane. It's a single prop, four-seater. It's stable and powerful and handles like a sedan. It's a great plane and one of my life's great joys is to buzz around in it. This is also the plane we fly to Cat Island.

We fly directly from here and it's a two-and-a-half to three hour flight. Here's where the indelicacy comes in. Either I have the most efficient kidneys on the planet or I have a bladder the size of a peanut. Or both. Four-seater airplanes don't come equipped with heads and when the urge strikes and I'm 10,000 feet above the open Atlantic, I have no option but to hold it until we land. Few things unsettle me more than a full bladder and no way to relieve it. Before too long, water bottles and travel mugs start to look like viable means of alleviation.

We've been back often enough that Mr. Gilbert, the kind soul who works in the immigration trailer at the airfield in Cat Island, knows to let me rush past him to get to the bathroom before he stamps my passport.

Anyhow, when JD and I flew over there a month ago, we were equipped with a new tool that I lack enough superlatives to describe. It's called the Travel John and here's a video that describes how it works.

Oh how they work and thank God for it. After one use I became their biggest fan. These things are fantastic and I can now say without hesitation that I will never set foot on a small plane without a supply of Travel Johns again.

Where the Sweet Olive Grows

My former next door neighbor Brandon moved to New Orleans a year-and-a-half ago. In leaving, he managed to leave both my neighborhood and my life noticeably impoverished. The man can cook like no one I've ever met and if that weren't enough, inside of him lurks a the best story teller I've ever known. The man can spin a yarn out of thin air while whipping up a batch of Hoppin' John so good it will bring tears to your eyes. In New Orleans he's found a home to say the least. If nothing else, New Orleans is a city where fine cookery and fine story telling are still held in high esteem and he fits right in.

In Brandon's mind and in his words, a mundane task like grocery shopping becomes an epic story of the triumph over hardship. A cab ride through Faubourg Tremé becomes a myth to rival those of the Ancient Greeks. Two days without air conditioning in the stifling heat of a Louisiana July becomes an opportunity to share a recipe for the wild bananas that grow in the Delta.

I've been begging him for years to please write down his stories and at long last he's started a blog. I get lost in his posts, really. Brandon's a gifted, natural writer of rare talent and New Orleans is a richer place with him there.

And now, thanks to his blog Where the Sweet Olive Grows, the world can be a richer place at the same time. Give him a read if you're looking for a chance to daydream about city that exists on the fringes of myth to begin with.

24 July 2009

See what Delta can do

In January of '09 a couple of people started a conversation in my comments section about pull out sprayers. In the course of that exchange, the great Laurie Burke from Kitchen Design Notes brought up Delta's new MagnaTite™ docking system for pull outs. That little pearl of wisdom led to my post on 16 January, MagnaTite Docking from Delta. I pride myself on being up on the latest and greatest innovations in my industry, but I have to say that the MagnaTite™ system caught me by surprise.

I dug around a bit and as I was writing that original post everything I read and learned led me to the conclusion that Delta was really onto something. I was impressed then and I remain impressed now. It's a great idea and I can't believe no one's ever thought of this before. Kudos to Delta for being the first.

One of Delta's models, the Pilar, is a particularly well-designed faucet and it features the MagnaTite™ system. The Pilar also features Delta's Touch2O™ technology, and that's another triumph for Delta. I'll write more about Delta's Touch2O™ on Monday.

For now though, the Pilar is all I want to write about. I'm really struck by this faucet. I mean, look at it. It's really beautiful and elegant. Ordinarily, I'm all about Kohler if I'm in this price point, but the Pilar is making me re-think that single handedly

Clearly, I'm not alone in this appreciation of Delta's Pilar. In the last month and a half, Delta has won two industry awards for it and the Pilar deserves every accolade it gets.

The first is an MVP from Building Products Magazine. Delta's MVP was one of 21 products honored across eight categories relating to home construction and renovation. The second award is a 2009 Stevie® in the “New Product or Service of the Year – Manufacturing” category at the 7th annual American Business Awardssm, held in June 22. These awards add two more voices who have joined the chorus of praise for the Pilar. Keep it up Delta, keep up the good work.

By now, I'm sure you've seen this new TV spot from Delta introducing their Touch2O™ technology. Tune in Monday and I'll explain what it is, how it works and why it's so cool. Oh and by the way, that's a Pilar in action in this ad.

23 July 2009

Oh Decorno, I covet your vacation

Speaking of vacations, the Lady Elaine, who writes the terrifically funny blog Decorno is a week into a three-week trip to Italy. She's filing the occasional dispatch and her offering from this morning sums up everything I love about Italy. Elaine's currently in one of the five villages that make up The Cinque Terre where she's rented an apartment.
I leave for 6 days and you guys let Henry Louis Gates, Jr get arrested at his OWN HOUSE? Seriously, guys. WTF?

Because I am paying like 80 billion euros a minute to be on this computer, I could only skim the details, but jesus h christ.

Anyway - that makes me angry just thinking about it, so I need to move on. Let's talk about me.

I was supposed to go to Lucca today, but the woman who rents her apartment to me, Louisa, shook her head disapprovingly at me and said in mostly Italian with enough hand gestures and serious looks for me to translate exactly what she meant to say, which was approximately, "Oh, but it's molto caldo (so hot!). The Lucca people, they come here now, to the sea. Too hot in Lucca. You go in May." And like the 3 nights before, I humbly ask if I can stay again and she smiles broadly as I produce my euros and she says, "Ah, si, va bene." And that is how Louisa gets me.

Louisa is living high on the hog now. MY HOG, I may add. The day I arrived tough winds blew apart a few of her potted plants. The next day she came to my (her) white-washed apartment and showed me a new cactus she bought to replace one of the old. She was beaming. And then the next night I saw her walking with her old friend, going to dinner. To dinner! With my fat euros in her pocket. And then yesterday she warned me that today she would be gone mezzo giorno and that she was getting her throat checked. After a long mutual mime-attempt at understanding one another, we managed to act out that she has lesions on her throat and would be heading to La Spezia to have it checked out. She would be getting "exams" and doing "exclusions" (ruling things out, I think she meant). Look at her. Flush with American money, she's splurging on exploratory surgery. The nerve.

Every time she comes to see me, she looks out the window with me, at the tower, and the pink and yellow and pastel green buildings with the laundry fluttering underneath windows and she beams, saying to me, "It's special here," like she needs to make sure that I understand just how great it is to be here, in this town, in this house.

I do.
If you've never spent any time soaking up the wit and wisdom of Decorno, waste no more time and head over there. The woman sets the standard.

Vacation time's coming and I need some guest bloggers

I am going on vacation in a couple of weeks. A proper, week-long vacation where I'll be completely unplugged and unreachable by any body's who's not within shouting distance. I cannot wait. In the meantime, I have a weeks' worth of slots open for guest posts. Anybody interested in taking this baby for a test drive?

I'd like for a post to appear every day that I'm gone, but no single guest blogger needs to write any more than he or she wants to. This is all casual and low-key, all I ask is that you stay on topic more or less, steer clear of religion and politics and not be too obvious if you're plugging a commercial interest. Usable, interesting and amusing are the key words here.

If you're interested, drop me a note and let me know which days you're interested in covering. I don't even want to know what you want to write about, just when. The days I'll be gone are from the eighth through the 16th of August. C'mon, you can do this!

Please don't try this at home

So yesterday I went onto Apartment Therapy for the first time in a while. That website drives me crazy with their endless fawning and insipid use of the second person plural when they mean to use the singular. Read a couple of entries on that site and you'll know what I mean. "We think that our bunny rabbit's smart!" "We think that orange throw pillows can be a neutral in the right room!" "We feel guilty for using a Swiffer!" "We paid $125 a piece for embossed photo albums and this weekend we're getting organized!" Argh! Enough already.

Anyhow, just as a blind pig can find an acorn from time to time, sometimes Apartment Therapy can uncover something useful. It's rare, but it does happen. More often than not though, I stumble upon something that reminds me why I don't frequent that site.

Yesterday however, they were fawning over some one's foolish idea and I have to speak on it. To wit:
Another one for the "worth the effort" DIY files... Cathy and her husband wanted a chlorine-free pool big enough for the whole family to splash around in during the hot Santa Rosa summer. Hoping for something more attractive than a big vinyl tub, they finally decided on a galvanized steel stock tank. All it took was some clever DIY plumbing, and for about $500 they were living the good life. Learn how they did it after the jump...

The stock tank pool is eight feet in diameter and about two feet deep. Cathy's husband used plumber's putty and some gaskets to pipe in a pool filter and pump. After using the pool for about a month, so far they haven't had to add any chemicals to keep the water clean. All it takes is some regular swipes with a pool net, and of course regular changing of the filter, which collects algae and other miscellaneous debris. Cathy says the pump keeps the water moving enough to discourage mosquitoes, too.
This is an idea so dangerously naive I have a hard time believing it. I don't doubt that the use of a pool filter is keeping that water clear. But the problem with pools is not the stuff you can see, the actual danger from pools is the stuff you can't see. The very same things that chlorinated water kills.

These people are no doubt motivated by an attempt to keep their kids safe, but what they've done instead is provide them with a steaming bowl of E. coli soup. The contaminated water in that pool represents a far larger threat than the minuscule amount of chlorine used to keep pool water safe. You cannot recirculate water people swim in without sterilizing it. If you have an ill-informed problem with chlorine then for the love of God put in an ozone or UV filter.

That harmless-looking backyard pool is an Amoebiasis, Cryptosporidiosis or Giardiasis outbreak waiting to happen. If not that rogue's gallery of water borne diseases, how about the staphylococcus aureus I can guarantee you is already in that water? People will get sick from swimming in this pool. It's not a matter of maybe either, it's a matter of when.

I'm all for taking a look at the way I live my life and for rooting out things that do more harm than good. However, chlorinated water is not one of them. The safe water supplies those of us in the developed world enjoy and take for granted are one of humanity's crowning achievements. Imagine, I can drink from the tap in my kitchen and not get cholera. That verges on the miraculous frankly.

The headlines were screaming this week about the amazing and unprecedented increase in the number of people in the US and the rest of the developed world who are living past 100. That did not happen because those centenarians swam in unchlorinated pools. In fact, it happened precisely because they swam in chlorinated pools.

Human beings' increased life spans and the fact that we're healthier today than we were a hundred years ago is due to advances in public health. Period. Do not throw the baby out with the bath water, no pun intended. Please do not swim in untreated swimming pools or hot tubs. You will get sick. Chlorine is your friend folks, really.

22 July 2009

Damn! Amazon just bought Zappos

I'm going to believe that this is somehow a good thing until I'm proved wrong. I will. Really.

More modern baths

I'm turning into the busy designer guy all of the sudden. Believe me when I tell you that this is a most welcome development. I don't want to put a hex on anything I have going on now, but I'm coming out of the worst two quarters of my career. Go figure, I did the least amount of business I can remember but the business I did do was the best I've ever produced. There's a lesson there somewhere and some day, not today, I'll go back and figure out what that lesson is.

But in the meantime, I have a lot of work to do. Woo hoo!

I presented another lavatory design as part of a much larger project the other day and I like the direction it's headed in. This is yet another modern design for a small-ish powder room. There's a separate water closet so the primary part of the room is a rectangle that's only three feet wide and six-and-a-half feet deep. Since it's a powder room there's no real need to store anything in there so I want to keep it as open as I can.

Here's the actual lavatory I'm specifying. It's the Block from LaCava. This lavatory will hang on the wall directly with a mirror right above it. I'm looking for an oval mirror about 30" wide and 18" tall. Anybody have a source? I've drawn the shape I want, now I just need to find one.

The wall behind the lavatory will be covered from floor to ceiling with either this glass mosaic,

or this one. Both patterns are from Mirage Glass Tiles in New York.

I know I want a translucent glass tile because I want to make this powder room feel larger than it is. Between the seriously pared down lavatory and the translucent glass on the wall, this room's going to feel like it's ten feet deep instead of six-and-a-half. The floors are going to be wide plank, clear maple. Again, my goal here is to be expansive and light while staying true to a contemporary aesthetic. I say I'm well on my way. Boy oh boy is it good to be busy.