Friday, August 31, 2012

Go Team Ghana!

"GO TEAM GHANA!" is a group of "designers, dreamers, moon watchers, doers and vagabonds."  They're former designers from ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", who are "taking our (their) skills and passion for designing with a purpose and spreading it like wild flower over seas. This time all the way to Ghana, West Africa."
Their goal is to build  the "Connor's Creative Art Center" in Ghana, West Africa. Here's a bit I've taken from the website to explain what "Go Team Ghana" is all about & how we can help"
"THE BAD NEWS: Modern day slavery exists.Nearly 7,000 children are being trafficked in the fishing industry of Lake Volta, Ghana. They are sold for the equivalent of $20.
THE GOOD NEWS: People care.
A Touch of LIfe (one of the organizations they're working with) has rescued nearly 100 of the 7,000 children. They have outgrown their facilities, and are building bigger, in order to help more kids.

Connor’s Song, inspired by the creativity and imagination of Connor Deal who passed at the age of 12, is working to bring healing to hurting children. The “Connor’s Creative Art Center” will be built in honor of Connor, and will help restore these children through art therapy and creative healing.

Why ART? Why for these kids?
Glad you asked.

These children are being empowered through the freedom of expression. They are learning, some for the first time, how to be kids and dream big. At one point in their lives, they were sold for the amount we pay for a few cups of coffee.

Please help us show these kids they are worth it!

All funds raised will go towards the following:
1) Fill a shipping container with furniture + supplies for the Art Center
2) Ship the 40' container with the supplies overseas to Ghana
3) Send the Design Team back to Ghana to help bring the Art Center to life

Thank you a million times over for showing your support.
We believe good design can change the world. "

I feel the same way about design & art being able to change the world.  Good "Design" is often thought of as a luxury or something "extra" that some people have...  But I believe it has the power to make people happy & to change their lives.  Our environments affect us in so many ways- they change our moods, our ideas of self-worth, they can encourage or discourage creativity, they can make us feel good or bad.  Giving these kids a place to go that gets them excited about creating things & dreaming is really special & affects them in so many more ways than just encouraging the arts.  I think it's a really special cause & if you have any time and/or want to help, go here:

They are at a little over $13,000 now and need $35,000.  Today's the last day if you have a moment.

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The events of the past few days lead me to think about Herman Melville

From The Confidence Man, Chapter 7:

The stranger was a man of more than winsome aspect. There he stood apart and in repose, and yet, by his mere look, lured the man in gray from his story, much as, by its graciousness of bearing, some full-leaved elm, alone in a meadow, lures the noon sickleman to throw down his sheaves, and come and apply for the alms of its shade.

But, considering that goodness is no such rare thing among men--the world familiarly know the noun; a common one in every language--it was curious that what so signalized the stranger, and made him look like a kind of foreigner, among the crowd (as to some it make him appear more or less unreal in this portraiture), was but the expression of so prevalent a quality. Such goodness seemed his, allied with such fortune, that, so far as his own personal experience could have gone, scarcely could he have known ill, physical or moral; and as for knowing or suspecting the latter in any serious degree (supposing such degree of it to be), by observation or philosophy; for that, probably, his nature, by its opposition, imperfectly qualified, or from it wholly exempted. For the rest, he might have been five and fifty, perhaps sixty, but tall, rosy, between plump and portly, with a primy, palmy air, and for the time and place, not to hint of his years, dressed with a strangely festive finish and elegance. The inner-side of his coat-skirts was of white satin, which might have looked especially inappropriate, had it not seemed less a bit of mere tailoring than something of an emblem, as it were; an involuntary emblem, let us say, that what seemed so good about him was not all outside; no, the fine covering had a still finer lining. Upon one hand he wore a white kid glove, but the other hand, which was ungloved, looked hardly less white. Now, as the Fidèle, like most steamboats, was upon deck a little soot-streaked here and there, especially about the railings, it was marvel how, under such circumstances, these hands retained their spotlessness. But, if you watched them a while, you noticed that they avoided touching anything; you noticed, in short, that a certain negro body-servant, whose hands nature had dyed black, perhaps with the same purpose that millers wear white, this negro servant's hands did most of his master's handling for him; having to do with dirt on his account, but not to his prejudices. But if, with the same undefiledness of consequences to himself, a gentleman could also sin by deputy, how shocking would that be! But it is not permitted to be; and even if it were, no judicious moralist would make proclamation of it.

This gentleman, therefore, there is reason to affirm, was one who, like the Hebrew governor, knew how to keep his hands clean, and who never in his life happened to be run suddenly against by hurrying house-painter, or sweep; in a word, one whose very good luck it was to be a very good man.
I should note that my mother, a retired English Professor and Melville mavin, led me to read this, Melville's last, novel, many years ago.  My understanding is that it is not widely read, but it should be.


Instagram Room Reveals & Closing on Our New House!!

I was recently introduced to Instagram & am crazy about it!!!  For those of you who don't know what it is, it's an app that you can use on your phone where you take pictures with your phone and then upload them into instagram.  People "follow" you and you "follow" others to share the photos. 

I've been posting a bunch of photos on instagram, which has been so much fun...  I try to take pics whenever I come across something that's interesting or pretty to me, and lately I've been taking photos of some of our clients' projects on installation days as they come together & the room is revelaed picture by picture...  (I will usually save the full "after" for later though! :)

To follow me on instagram, go here or go to instagram and find me (I'm @LaurenLiess)  (Or check to the right sidebar of this blog and click on the little instagram icon (which is the little camera logo)& you should be able to see pics.)

{Our client's living room, midstage}

Also, we're closing on our new house today & we're sooooooo excited!!!!   We love love LOVE the house and I can't believe how quickly the time's flow by!!  Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly for us today.  We're so thankful to the homeowners for letting us buy their home!!  I'll keep you posted!!

{our future living room!!! }

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does Calorie Restriction Extend Lifespan in Mammals?

Until about two years ago, the story went something like this: calorie restriction extends lifespan in yeast, worms, flies, and rodents.  Lifespan extension by calorie restriction appears to be biologically universal, therefore it's probably only a matter of time until it's demonstrated in humans as well.  More than 20 years ago, independent teams of researchers set out to demonstrate the phenomenon in macaque monkeys, a primate model closer to humans than any lifespan model previously tested.

Recent findings have caused me to seriously question this narrative.  One of the first challenges was the finding that genetically wild mice (as opposed to inbred laboratory strains) do not live longer when their calorie intake is restricted, despite showing hormonal changes associated with longevity in other strains, although the restricted animals do develop less cancer (1).  One of the biggest blows came in 2009, when researchers published the results of a study that analyzed the effect of calorie restriction on lifespan in 41 different strains of mice, both male and female (2).  They found that calorie restriction extends lifespan in a subset of strains, but actually shortens lifespan in an even larger subset.  Below is a graph of the effect of calorie restriction on lifespan in the 41 strains.  Positive numbers indicate that calorie restriction extended life, while negative numbers indicate that it shortened life:

Read more »

Chris Christie yearns to be run by the Medicis

Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Chapeau Cloche Girl - Fashion Week - Paris

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      I took these pics at Marigny Theater before Ulyana Sergeenko show.
      Photos by Easy Fashion Fred hebergeur imagehebergeur image

Miss Elisa Nalin - Fashion Week - Paris

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      Miss Elisa Nalin - Fashion Week - Paris
      Photos by Easy Fashion Fred hebergeur imagehebergeur image

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Verbal and Yoon - FW - Paris

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      In September 2004, Verbal married his college sweetheart, fellow Korean Japanese Yoon.
      Together they started jewelry label Ambush, with the initial aim of custom-making jewelry 
      for Verbal. They have since produced several lines of jewelry ...
      Photos by Easy Fashion Fred

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Monday, August 27, 2012

My Little Lovey Guys...

The smallest one is growing big waaaaaaay too quickly.  If I can get some time, I'll take some pictures of his nurery before we say goodbye to it next week.  I really love it in there & I don't know how but we've somehow managed to keep it clean & organized these past few months, which has made it such relaxing space to hang.  (It could be that all of the laundry is in the mound in our bedroom?? ;)

The past couple of weeks have been sort of the-calm-before-the-storm part of the moving process, and so we've been trying to take advantage of it...

{Dave, reading with the boys}

{me, snuggling with the baby}
We're trying really hard to remind ourselves that it's these momemts that are still the most important, even in the midst of all of the house deadlines, paperwork & packing.  I don't want to rush any of this goodness away.  We'll forget the messy jumble of moving memories but these are the ones I want more of.   

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

A California Renaissance?

Here is the preliminary job growth rate by state from July 2011-July 2012, according to the BLS.  States are those for which there was a statistically significant change in employment from July to July.

Note that California outperformed Texas.

Miss Karoline - FW - Paris

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     Miss Karoline Bjornelykke - FW - Paris
     Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Miss Ekaterina Mukhina - FW - Paris

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     Ekaterina Mukhina - FW - Paris
     Photos by Easy Fashion Fred hebergeur image

You know my name serie ? FW - Paris

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    Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Miss Anna dello Russo - FW - Paris

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     Anna dello Russo - FW - Paris
    "I don't want to be cool. I want to be Fashion !"
     Photos by Easy Fashion Fred

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Miss Colorful Barbara - Grand-Palais - Paris

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      Colorful Barbara - Grand-Palais - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Miss Julia - Bercy - Paris

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      Julia - Bercy - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Vincent - Bercy - paris

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     Vincent - Bercy - paris
      Photo by Easy fashion Fred

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Orwell's six rules on writing.

From Politics and the English Language:

(1) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. 

(2) Never use a long word where a short one will do. 

(3) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. 

(4) Never use the passive where you can use the active. 

(5) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. 

(6) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

The problem with the capital gains tax

Tax policy can be frustrating.  A major reason that Mitt Romney pays a lower effective tax rate than many working stiffs is that most of his income comes in the form of capital gains, which is taxed at a preferential rate (the top marginal ordinary income tax rate is 35 percent, while the long term capital gains rate is 15 percent).  It may therefore seem that the easy way to implement a "Buffet rule" would be to match the capital gains rate to the ordinary income tax rate.

There are three policy dilemmas here, along with a practical problem.

The first policy dilemma is that some capital gains are nominal--they don't reflect changes in purchasing power.  We recognize this problem in other places in the tax code--for example, we adjust tax brackets for inflation every year.  The problem could be solved using indexing--we could tax real capital gains at the ordinary income tax rate.

The second dilemma is perhaps more controversial.  In a Solow-Swan world of economic growth, more savings produce a larger and newer capital stock, both of which are key to growth (Barro and Sala-i-Martin have a lucid description).  If they are correct (and the consensus is that they are), then policies that encourage both savings and flexibility are good policies.  To some extent we do this with our retirement tax policies: so long as savings remain in a retirement fund, their returns go untaxed, even when securities within the fund are bought and sold.  With respect to capital gains policy, this implies that we should discourage the consumption of realizations of gains, but should encourage investment flexibility.  In other words, if someone sells her winners in order to buy a Jaguar, she should be taxed, but if she sells winners in order to reinvest somewhere else, she should not.

The second dilemma creates a third dilemma--the investor who makes smart decisions accumulates considerable wealth, which could lead to disproportionate political power.  Capital gains preferences accelerate this phenomenon.  This is particularly vexing.

Now for the practical problem--the statutory capital gains rate can be considerably different from the effective rate (my approach here follows the argument in Dave Geltner and Norm Miller's Textbook, Chapter 11).  Consider an investment that pays no dividends that grows in value at 10 percent per year in a world with a statutory capital gains rate of 20 percent.  Suppose the investor holds that investment for ten years, and then sells it.  To put some numbers on it, a $100 investment will grow to $259.37 in value.  The capital gains taxes will be $159.37*.2=$31.87, so the net to the investor after capital gains taxes with be $227.50.  The internal rate of return on the investment drops from 10 percent before tax to 8.6 percent after tax.  Consequently, the effective tax rate is not 20 percent, but 14 percent.

If we stretch out the investment horizon to 20 years, the effective rate drops to 10.3 percent; if we reduce it to 1 year, the effective rate matches the statutory rate of 20 percent.  The point is that regardless of the capital gains rate, investors have considerable discretion at determining their effective rate.  So it is almost certain that a behavioral response to a higher capital gains rate would be longer periods of time between realizations, hence lowering the effective rate.  When it comes to figuring out tax policy, nothing is easy.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Miss Kaja - Bercy - Paris

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      Kaja Sokola - Model - Bercy - Paris
      Dress by Franckie Morello
      Hat and Sunnies vintage
      Bag by Prada
      Sandals from Flea market
      Photos by Easy Fashion Fred

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Big Boys don't cry - FW - Paris

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      Big Boys don't cry - FW - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Paint in Black - FW - Paris

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      Paint in Black - FW - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Miss Joanna - FW - Paris

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      Joanna - FW - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Miss Laurence Ferrari - FW - Paris

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     Laurence Ferrari -French TV Newscaster - FW - Paris
     Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Miss Anya Ziourova - FW - Paris

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      Anya Ziourova - FW - Paris
      Fashion Director of Tatler
      Photos by Easy fashion Fred
        Other portraits here and here and here

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Summer Classics at Easter Compton 2012

Summer Classics was held over the weekend of the11th and  12th of August at Easter Compton. Another local show meant a short drive in Frank to the venue and a weekend with the family. I managed to get some sketching in too. The event had a huge range of vehicles of many different types, which made a refreshing change to a lot of show and shine events, giving a relaxed and informal atmosphere where anyone was welcome to show their vehicle, whatever it may be. For more information on the Summer Classics Show please visit the Website:

1953 Kaiser Manhattan

(digitally painted ink sketch)

This Kaiser is a rare car indeed, and the restoration is of a very high standard. It's seeing big American cars like this that get me thinking, maybe we need a bigger family car.

I first saw this car at the Gloucestershire Steam Rally where the weather meant I only got as far as a pencil sketch. I was very happy to see this car again and took the opportunity to ink the sketch whilst I had the opportunity. 

Chrysler Roadster

(digitally painted ink sketch)

1965 Mercedes UniMOG

(digitally painted ink sketch)

UniMOG stands for Universal Motor Gerat (great is german for Motor). This is a very versatile machine as it is 4 wheel drive and functions like a tractor where various equipment can be attached to the front and rear of the vehicle. The gearing is very low and the current owner said they can haul up to 40 tons! This machine was originally owned by Cardiff International Airport as a purpose built snow blower. It is now undergoing a rolling restoration whilst working on a small holding. THe current owner was very excited about all the bits of kit he could strap on to it. You can pretty much run any piece of equipment that uses a 3 point linkage system.


 1954 Corvette Stingray

 Dodge Convertible

 Rowena checks out a Chevy step side with a great patina

 6 Wheel Drive Military Truck

 1950 Studebaker Champion 2 Door

This car is believed to be the only one in the country and only 51 remain of the 9,362 that were built. The car was bought by the current owners as a 50th birthday present. They travelled to the USA to pick it up. After some "well needed maintenance" they toured the Southern States covering 5000 miles.

 1953 Paramount Sports

Approximately 80 of these were built, 8 of these are known to exist and only 3 are on the road. BOught in 1975 this example was restored and put back on the road in 1988, and used ever since.

last but not least...
Frank sported his show and shine guise over the weekend (a layer of linseed oil to keep the elements at bay).