Sunday, June 30, 2013

The White Box Challenge

 A month or so ago, one of my super sweet & talented blog friends ("blog friend" is going to be added to the dictionary soon, I'm sure of it ;) Bryn of Bryn Alexandra of the popular blog Bryn Alexandra Interiors  invited me, along with a few other bloggers, to participate in her joy + revelry "white box challenge."  The idea was that we would all receive a surprise gift in the mail (who doesn't want that?!!) to style in our own way for photos we'd share on our blogs.  Even though we'd all be receiving the same gift, it would be fun to see how differently we all used it.  Our readers would then receive a 10% off coupon code to be used towards any purchases.  Joy + Revelry is a new online store where bloggers have set up "shops" selling carefully curated items in their shops.

Anyway, when my white box challenge gift arrived in the mail, I was surprised to see that it was actually a white box.  Too funny.

I'm using mine on the nightstand to as a little corral for my jewely & the hair bands that seem to accumulate there:



The white box's beautiful lucite lid keeps me from hoarding because I want to be able to clearly see what's inside:  


It's the perfect little modern touch for the rustic dresser we have beside our bed:


And, since I'm the procrastinating blogger, I'm also the last one to post, so I thought it would be fun to share snippets of the other bloggers' white box challenges with you.  (And I didn't peek at these until I was all done, promise!)

I love what Stephanie of A Brooklyn Limestone did.  It's the perfect place for the remotes!!!  (I may have to change uses now ;) ;)...

{To view Stephanie's full post, click here}

I also like Chassity of Look Linger & Love's white box photos.  I love how she's hung her art over the bookshelves with library lights!!! So pretty & fresh:

{To view Chassity's full post, click here}

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our different takes on the same little white box.


What would you do with yours?

To check out Bryn's shop, click here.  She has some really great things you'll love!!!   To see out the actual white box, click here.   Thank you so much to Bryn for including me & congratulations on the new endeavor at joy =+ revelry!!!  And don't forget to use the coupon code for 10% off: BRYN_WHITEBOX_10



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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Internet is Truly Awesome (Leonard Bernstein Mahler edition).

David Denby wrote a nice piece in the New Yorker a little over a year ago about this ten most "perfect" orchestra recordings of all time.  Coming in at Number 5 was Leonard Bernstein's Mahler 7 (the second time through) with the New York Philharmonic. (FWIW, I know seven of his choices, and love them all).

If one looks it up on the NY Phil's website, one finds a link to Lenny's marked up score of the piece, allowing us to see, among other things, directions from the composer he really wanted to make sure got  emphasis.  As such, the internet allows us to see how Leonard Bernstein went about thinking about one of the great, quirky pieces of all time, at any time we wish.

This is truly awesome.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pretty Little Friday

So... you remember my client who loves bright & bold color, right?  Well, we installed her new dressing room yesterday and I just had to share a pic I snapped of her incredible shoe collection.  If you follow me on instagram, you've probably already seen my pics, but for those who don't, here it is:


With the way the room is set up, the shoes now feel like art.  They sparkle from across the room and you immediately want to walk over there and start touching them.  (Especially me!! We wear the same size!!!)  And when I say "shoes" these are not just shoes... These are shoes.  

I fell in love with a few pairs (leopard @ bottom left and black lace heels two over from those)  but was blown away by a pair of pail pink feathered stilettos  (middle right) and I think the feathers would look like pretty little flames going up your ankles.  (In my daydream of wearing them, I'm also capable of walking in them ;)

I didn't even get the boot rows in this picture, which rival the heels in "Oh my, I want these"-ness.

We're now waiting on this beautiful Cole & Son wallpaper to arrive for the walls...


... and I cannot wait!!  I'm off for the day but thank you so much to my sweet client for letting me help put together her dream dressing room.  It's been so much fun!!!

Which pair of shoes is your favorite?



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

Food Reward Friday

This week's lucky "winner"... beer!!



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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Clients' Master Bath Before & After

In the clients' home I shared with you last week, I also mentioned that we did their master bathroom.  I took some photos of it to show you the "before & after" of the construction.  We're in the process of adding towels & accessories & things to the walls so I'll be sure to share when it's truly finished. The original bathroom was large but my clients weren't loving its functionality (or lack or it) or the materials.  Here's what it looked like before: 



{The tub butted up to the side of the shower, which had a glass surround with a thick chrome frame.}


{My clients didn't need a sitting vanity area but preferred his and hers sinks.  We also saw that there was a big chunk of wasted space in the corner between the counter tops.  My favorite thing about the original bathroom was that the toilet was in its own room & we kept it that way.}

We decided upon a palette of pale blues & creams and worked with our friend Mike Carr of CarrMichael Construction to design the new cabinetry & layout. We settled on timeless fixtures and I was thrilled when our clients said "yes" to painted shiplap walls.

Anyway, here's the bathroom now:


The shiplap walls add so much warmth and texture to the bathroom.  It feels so much more substantial now and has that slight coastal eel that my clients love.  We had them painted the same color as the ceiling.  The pale blue floors are made up of 4x4 tiles which we had laid in a brick pattern.  

I'm a tad obsessed with their new soaking tub:


The polished nickel hardware is just so substantial and pretty in 'real life.'  (I took this photo before we hung the natural woven shades, which add a warm wood element to the room I love...  and more importantly, privacy ;) ;) 

The shower surround is now a frameless glass one (our clients selected clear glass) so it takes up so much less visual space in the room.  It was tough to get a good photo:


When I'd originally presented this design, we were planning in having a percentage of cream 4x4s mixed in with the pale blue ones.  I'd done something similar before & had loved it but when the tiles arrived and were laid out in the bathroom for approval, it just wasn't right because there was too much contrast between the creams & blues.  It looked a crazy person had designed it!! (Which I guess is true ;) ;)  We quickly ordered more blue tiles & of course the project was held up slightly because of it.  I felt really terrible but my clients were very understanding.

For metals, we used a combination of polished nickel & antiqued silver.  I like to mix metals so that rooms have a bit more interest & are a bit more relaxed feeling.  I think rooms with mixed metals just look a bit more effortless & stylish than ones where everything matches perfectly.  


I'm in the process of scheduling photographer (and good friend!!) Helen Norman to come & photograph my clients' home because she will do it so much more justice than I did!! :)  As soon as I have those pics, I'll be sure to share them so you can see the difference. But I hope you enjoyed what you did see!!  Have a great day & stay cool.   (AC broken here = really fun!! ... But honestly makes me feel very fortunate for being able to have AC.)

To view the rest of my clients' home, go here.  



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

Lea - Rue Tiquetonne - Paris

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      Lea - Rue Tiquetonne - Paris

      J'ai rencontré la jolie Lea et ses yeux noisettes rue Tiquetonne. Elle porte une veste Firetrap et un
      pantalon H&M (qui brille). Son petit sac est vintage de Sonia Rykiel. Ses sandales sont des Geox.
      Son parfum est de chez Margiela. Lea est styliste et son rêve le plus grand serait de continuer à
      travailler pour l'agence Mafia où elle fait actuellement un stage. So pire cauchemar serait de perdre
      la vie ne se noyant dans la mer.

      Photos by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris

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Tehani - Etienne Marcel - Paris

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      Tehani - Etienne Marcel - Paris

      J'ai croisé la belle Tehani pour la seconde fois avenue Etienne Marcel. Elle travaille chez Diesel et
      elle est spécialiste femme. Son short et son top sont des Diesel justement. Son manteau est de chez
      H&M, son chapeau est vintage et ses chaussures sont des Asos. Le collant bicolore est un AA.
      La rêve le plus fou de Tehani est de chanter à Bercy devant 30 000 personnes et son pire
      cauchemar est d'être enfermée dans une pièce remplie de papillons. Mais sa préoccupation du
      moment, c'est l'amour qui selon elle est bien compliqué (ça c'est vrai).

      Photo by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris

Georgio - Rue Montorgueil - Paris

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      Georgio - Rue Montorgueil - Paris

      C'est la coiffure de Georgio qui a attiré mon regard au premier abord (coupe "Pompadour" si je ne
      me trompe pas). Georgio est organisateur de soirée et son rêve le plus grand serait de faire des
      shootings de Mode comme mannequin. Côté look, Georgio est habillé en H&M, sauf pour les
      chaussures qui sont des Van's. Son parfum est "Rive Gauche" de YSL. Il est inutile de chercher son
      sac plein de poils partout. C'est une création unique de sa maman !

      Photos by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

John Roberts is supposed to be a smart man.

But he makes a specious argument.  He says that because in the presence of Voting Rights Acts, there is no disparity in voter turn-out, there is no need for a Voting Rights Act.  Huh?

Andrea - le Marais - Paris



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      Andrea - le Marais - Paris

      J'ai croisé la jolie Andrea dans le Marais où elle vendeuse de sex toys (voilà c'est dit) et elle est aussi
      musicienne. Elle porte des Converse, un short H&M, un débardeur Zara et une chemise achetée à
      Londres en friperie. Elle a aussi un sac militaire acheté en Inde. Son parfum préféré est "Bois
      d'Argent" de Dior. Dans la vie, son rêve est de pouvoir voyager partout et tout le temps et son pire
      cauchemar serait de plus pouvoir jouer de la musique.

      Photos by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris
     .
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Alexia - Rue Tiquetonne - Paris

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      Alexia - Rue Tiquetonne - Paris

      J'ai croisé la belle Alexia rue Tiquetonne devant chez Kiliwatch. Je sais peu de choses sur elle. Elle
      travaille comme chef de rang dans un restaurant de Saint-Germain des Prés. Ce jour-là, elle portait
      un chapeau appartenant à son ami. À mon sens Alexia représente assez bien la parisienne dans sa
      version décontractée.

      Photo by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris

Eric - place Vendôme - Paris

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      Eric - Senior Editor P1.CN
  
      J'ai croisé Eric à plusieurs reprises lors de la semaine de la Mode à Paris. Je sais qu'il est public
      relations pour des actrices chinoises, quand elles viennent à Paris. J'ai bien aimé son pull avec des
      petits lapins marrants.

      Photos by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris 

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Landsat 8 data explained


If you are new to satellite imagery, or not familiar yet with the capabilities of recently launched Landsat 8 satellite, a post by Charlie Loyd on mapbox.com blog explains in plain English how the data can be used. It’s a great read, illustrated with examples of what you get when you mix and match various “data streams” (ie. bands = colours, although not necessarily visible to human eye, represented by a specific frequency along the electromagnetic spectrum).

The 30 m resolution of Landsat 8 imagery (15m for black and white version) does not allow “peaking over the fence to your neighbour’s backyard” but it is a great source of timely information for all sorts of environmental analysis (eg. crop monitoring, determination of land characteristics)  and is very helpful in monitoring geographic extents of natural disasters (like floods or bushfires).

[Bands 7-5-1 combination revealing bushfire burn scar - bottom left ]

Landsat 8 data is available for download via:

Three cheers for John Cassidy


Hurray for John Cassidy in being gutsy enough to write clearly about the Edward Snowden situation, as well as the broad and gutless media acquiescence to the "government line," few questions asked. First, some balance from an interview in the Australian media with Thomas Drake, another former NSA employee charged with espionage (felony charges were ultimately dropped):
INTERVIEWER: Not everybody thinks Edward Snowden did the right thing. I presume you do…

DRAKE: I consider Edward Snowden as a whistle-blower. I know some have called him a hero, some have called him a traitor. I focus on what he disclosed. I don’t focus on him as a person. He had a belief that what he was exposed to—U.S. actions in secret—were violating human rights and privacy on a very, very large scale, far beyond anything that had been admitted to date by the government. In the public interest, he made that available.

INTERVIEWER: What do you say to the argument, advanced by those with the opposite viewpoint to you, especially in the U.S. Congress and the White House, that Edward Snowden is a traitor who made a narcissistic decision that he personally had a right to decide what public information should be in the public domain?

DRAKE: That’s a government meme, a government cover—that’s a government story. The government is desperate to not deal with the actual exposures, the content of the disclosures. Because they do reveal a vast, systemic, institutionalized, industrial-scale Leviathan surveillance state that has clearly gone far beyond the original mandate to deal with terrorism—far beyond.
As far as I’m concerned, that about covers it. I wish Snowden had followed Drake’s example and remained on U.S. soil to fight the charges against him. But I can’t condemn him for seeking refuge in a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States. If he’d stayed here, he would almost certainly be in custody, with every prospect of staying in a cell until 2043 or later. The Obama Administration doesn’t want him to come home and contribute to the national-security-versus-liberty debate that the President says is necessary. It wants to lock him up for a long time.
 Cassidy goes on to examine some of the cultural reasons leading almost all US news figures to pretty much toe the government line and to heap slander on Snowden. It's not pretty:
Snowden took classified documents from his employer, which surely broke the law. But his real crime was confirming that the intelligence agencies, despite their strenuous public denials, have been accumulating vast amounts of personal data from the American public. The puzzle is why so many media commentators continue to toe the official line. About the best explanation I’ve seen came from Josh Marshall, the founder of T.P.M., who has been one of Snowden’s critics. In a post that followed the first wave of stories, Marshall wrote, “At the end of the day, for all its faults, the U.S. military is the armed force of a political community I identify with and a government I support. I’m not a bystander to it. I’m implicated in what it does and I feel I have a responsibility and a right to a say, albeit just a minuscule one, in what it does.”

I suspect that many Washington journalists, especially the types who go on Sunday talk shows, feel the way Marshall does, but perhaps don’t have his level of self-awareness. It’s not just a matter of defending the Obama Administration, although there’s probably a bit of that. It’s something deeper, which has to do with attitudes toward authority. Proud of their craft and good at what they do, successful journalists like to think of themselves as fiercely independent. But, at the same time, they are part of the media and political establishment that stands accused of ignoring, or failing to pick up on, an intelligence outrage that’s been going on for years. It’s not surprising that some of them share Marshall’s view of Snowden as “some young guy I’ve never heard of before who espouses a political philosophy I don’t agree with and is now seeking refuge abroad for breaking the law.”

Mea culpa. Having spent almost eighteen years at The New Yorker, I’m arguably just as much a part of the media establishment as David Gregory and his guests. In this case, though, I’m with Snowden—not only for the reasons that Drake enumerated but also because of an old-fashioned and maybe naïve inkling that journalists are meant to stick up for the underdog and irritate the powerful. On its side, the Obama Administration has the courts, the intelligence services, Congress, the diplomatic service, much of the media, and most of the American public. Snowden’s got Greenwald, a woman from Wikileaks, and a dodgy travel document from Ecuador. Which side are you on?

Monday, June 24, 2013

We're Really Moving In!!!

My eyes will barely open right now (honestly, the left one's kind of twitchy this morning too!)  but I am SO HAPPY because this weekend we got to truly unpack and move into our house!!!

{A pic of a part of the boys' section in the new library...  I doubt it will stay looking like this for long although right now I've been a bit of a psycho about it:  "Ok, Christian, you've finished with a little golden book.  See the books with the golden spines?  They all go here."  Poor child. }


The guys finished our bookcases in the upstairs loft this Saturday and we stayed up all night to unload all of our books.  (The shelves are packed but for the most part, everything fits with a little bit of room to grow our library.)  Buried in our garage amongst the books were the boys toys, things for our kitchen, clothes and tons of other random things we'd been missing.  Here's the fallout:

{Don't worry Mom, it's not going to the landfill}

Our books have never been so organized (My husband- a former English teacher- broke our books down into American lit, English lit, world, etc. and I had fun taking stock of all of my herb books, junky fiction and and design books.   The boys have their own - super-accessible- section and even Louie has baskets for his board books at the very bottom.   I had a little room to fit in some of my favorite natural things that we've collected over the years like a huge crystal geode we found at my favorite antique store, shells & coral we've collected on vacations, feathers, cool pieces of wood, etc.  Everything is right where we need it and it feels so good!!!)

We're at the point now where we're emptying out the garage and will be pulling the car in today!!!  ... And I'm staring at an island full of random stuff that I don't know what to do with but that I'm not sure I can get rid of.    That last pile takes the longest but I'm leaning towards getting rid of most of it just so we can breath again.  

This is so freeing.

Have a great Monday & I'll be back with more pics!



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

The Genetics of Obesity, Part I

Choosing the Right Parents: the Best Way to Stay Lean?

In 1990, Dr. Claude Bouchard and colleagues published a simple but fascinating study demonstrating the importance of genetics in body fatness (1).  They took advantage of one of the most useful tools in human genetics: identical twins.  This is what happens when a single fertilized egg generates two embryos in utero and two genetically identical humans are born from the same womb.   By comparing identical twins to other people who are not genetically identical (e.g., non-identical twins), we can quantify the impact of genes vs. environment on individual characteristics (2).

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Are models that assume linear utility useful?

I just saw a paper on how the desire of households to match with particular houses could explain housing market dynamics--in particular why house prices are more volatile than incomes.

Performing such an exercise is very difficult, and requires simplifying assumptions.  One of the most important simplifying assumptions in the paper is that utility is linear--that people value their last unit of consumption just as much as their first.  This assumption is clearly wrong--we know that marginal utility diminishes in consumption.  Yet the assumption was necessary to make the model tractable.

So do we know more about the world because of the model or not?  I really don't know.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The War on Reality



If you're at all disturbed (I am) by the various recent revelations over massive data trolling by government agencies, you should read this article in the NYT by Peter Ludlow. It looks at the vast and largely invisible ecology of private security and intelligence firms that are not only gathering information on ordinary people, but actively creating and spreading disinformation (otherwise known as "lies") to discredit opponents of their corporate clients. They're information mercenaries who are essentially shaping reality as we see it -- and not with benign motives, you can be sure. Ludlow:
To get some perspective on the manipulative role that private intelligence agencies play in our society, it is worth examining information that has been revealed by some significant hacks in the past few years of previously secret data.

Important insight into the world these companies came from a 2010 hack by a group best known as LulzSec  (at the time the group was called Internet Feds), which targeted the private intelligence firm HBGary Federal.  That hack yielded 75,000 e-mails.  It revealed, for example, that Bank of America approached the Department of Justice over concerns about information that WikiLeaks had about it.  The Department of Justice in turn referred Bank of America to the lobbying firm Hunton and Willliams, which in turn connected the bank with a group of information security firms collectively known as Team Themis.

Team Themis (a group that included HBGary and the private intelligence and security firms Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and Endgame Systems) was effectively brought in to find a way to undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks and the journalist Glenn Greenwald (who recently broke the story of Edward Snowden’s leak of the N.S.A.’s Prism program),  because of Greenwald’s support for WikiLeaks. Specifically, the plan called for actions to “sabotage or discredit the opposing organization” including a plan to submit fake documents and then call out the error. As for Greenwald, it was argued that he would cave “if pushed” because he would “choose professional preservation over cause.” That evidently wasn’t the case.

Team Themis also developed a proposal for the Chamber of Commerce to undermine the credibility of one of its critics, a group called Chamber Watch. The proposal called for first creating a “false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,” giving it to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then subsequently exposing the document as a fake to “prove that U.S. Chamber Watch cannot be trusted with information and/or tell the truth.” (A photocopy of the proposal can be found here.)

In addition, the group proposed creating a “fake insider persona” to infiltrate Chamber Watch.  They would “create two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second.” The hack also revealed evidence that Team Themis was developing a “persona management” system — a program, developed at the specific request of the United States Air Force, that allowed one user to control multiple online identities (“sock puppets”) for commenting in social media spaces, thus giving the appearance of grass roots support.  The contract was eventually awarded to another private intelligence firm.

This may sound like nothing so much as a “Matrix”-like fantasy, but it is distinctly real, and resembles in some ways the employment of “Psyops” (psychological operations), which as most students of recent American history know, have been part of the nation’s military strategy for decades. The military’s “Unconventional Warfare Training Manual” defines Psyops as “planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.” In other words, it is sometimes more effective to deceive a population into a false reality than it is to impose its will with force or conventional weapons.  Of course this could also apply to one’s own population if you chose to view it as an “enemy” whose “motives, reasoning, and behavior” needed to be controlled.

Psyops need not be conducted by nation states; they can be undertaken by anyone with the capabilities and the incentive to conduct them, and in the case of private intelligence contractors, there are both incentives (billions of dollars in contracts) and capabilities.

Several months after the hack of HBGary, a Chicago area activist and hacker named Jeremy Hammond successfully hacked into another private intelligence firm — Strategic Forcasting Inc., or Stratfor), and released approximately five million e-mails. This hack provided a remarkable insight into how the private security and intelligence companies view themselves vis a vis government security agencies like the C.I.A. In a 2004 e-mail to Stratfor employees, the firm’s founder and chairman George Friedman was downright dismissive of the C.I.A.’s capabilities relative to their own:  “Everyone in Langley [the C.I.A.] knows that we do things they have never been able to do with a small fraction of their resources. They have always asked how we did it. We can now show them and maybe they can learn.”

The Stratfor e-mails provided us just one more narrow glimpse into the world of the private security firms, but the view was frightening.  The leaked e-mails revealed surveillance activities to monitor protestors in Occupy Austin as well as Occupy’s relation to the environmental group Deep Green Resistance.  Staffers discussed how one of their own men went undercover (“U/C”) and inquired about an Occupy Austin General Assembly meeting to gain insight into how the group operates.\

Stratfor was also involved in monitoring activists who were seeking reparations for victims of a chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India, including a group called Bophal Medical Appeal. But the targets also included The Yes Men, a satirical group that had humiliated Dow Chemical with a fake news conference announcing reparations for the victims.  Stratfor regularly copied several Dow officers on the minutia of activities by the two members of the Yes Men.One intriguing e-mail revealed that the Coca-Cola company was asking Stratfor for intelligence on PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) with Stratfor vice president for Intelligence claiming that “The F.B.I. has a classified investigation on PETA operatives. I’ll see what I can uncover.” From this one could get the impression that the F.B.I. was in effect working as a private detective Stratfor and its corporate clients.

Stratfor also had a broad-ranging public relations campaign.  The e-mails revealed numerous media companies on its payroll. While one motivation for the partnerships was presumably to have sources of intelligence, Stratfor worked hard to have soap boxes from which to project its interests. In one 2007 e-mail, it seemed that Stratfor was close to securing a regular show on NPR: “[the producer] agreed that she wants to not just get George or Stratfor on one time on NPR but help us figure the right way to have a relationship between ‘Morning Edition’ and Stratfor.”

On May 28 Jeremy Hammond pled guilty to the Stratfor hack, noting that even if he could successfully defend himself against the charges he was facing, the Department of Justice promised him that he would face the same charges in eight different districts and he would be shipped to all of them in turn.  He would become a defendant for life.  He had no choice but to plea to a deal in which he may be sentenced to 10 years in prison.  But even as he made the plea he issued a statement, saying “I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.”  (In a video interview conducted by Glenn Greenwald with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong this week, Snowden expressed a similar ethical stance regarding his actions.)

Given the scope and content of what Hammond’s hacks exposed, his supporters agree that what he did was right. In their view, the private intelligence industry is effectively engaged in Psyops against the American public., engaging in “planned operations to convey selected information to [us] to influence [our] emotions, motives, objective reasoning and, ultimately, [our] behavior”? Or as the philosopher might put it, they are engaged in epistemic warfare.

Food Reward Friday

This week's lucky "winner"... low-carb gluten-free bacon chocolate mocha ice cream cake!!


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Thursday, June 20, 2013

If in 1987 you bought the average house in the average place...


…you have about broken even relative to the consumer price index. The Case-Shiller National Index for March 1987 was 62.03; for March 2013, it was 136.70.  The Consumer Price Index in March 1987 was 112.7; in March 2013 it was 232.77.  So the Case-Shiller Index has risen by  120.4 percent in 26 years; the CPI has risen by 106.5 percent.  So in inflation adjusted terms, the average house in the average place has risen by 13 percent over the past 26 years, or a little less than half of one percent per year.
[At the suggestion of Austin Kelly, I looked to see what would happen if I used the unit-weighted FHFA index instead of the value-weighted Case-Shiller index.  I found that based on FHFA, real house prices rose by 11 percent since 1991 (the first year for which data are available), or a little less than .5 percent per year.  So even though the index is different, the result is the same.]
Reposted from Forbes.

Our Clients' Home: Before & After

This past winter, we began working with new clients, a retired couple who was in the process of moving and downsizing.   They heard about us from their daughter, who read my blog (Thank you soooo much Allison!!) and we started out by visiting their old home to take stock of their furnishings and to help them decide what they should keep and what they should give away.  We then visited their new home, which is in the perfect location and still has lots of room for their children and grandchildren to come & visit all the time.   Here's a quick tour of the house before my clients moved in:


{The Living Room, which is in the front of the house}


{The Dining Room, which is open to the Living Room}

{The Kitchen, which is just past the more formal areas - the living & dining rooms- in the back section of the house}

{The view of the Hearth Room from the kitchen}


{The Master Bathroom}

{The Master Bathroom}

The house had everything my clients needed, but they were really hoping to make it special.  They didn't love the kitchen & master bath and wanted their home a comfortable, fresh, relaxed vibe.  Almost everything in the furniture plan was new to my clients, and in the areas we redid, we kept only a few things that were important to them, including their family dining table.  They have a beach house and though they didn't really want to go "Coastal" with this house, they wanted their home to have a bit of the relaxed, effortless feel of a beach house without it feeling completely like one.  We brought in a few natural coastal things and mixed elements like pinch pleated curtains and wing chairs with sisal, seagrass and slipcovers to get just the right amount of casualness & formality, beach & town.  We made sure that there were lots of comfortable places for them to hang, read, eat and entertain family.

Anyway, I'm sure you're ready for pics.... so here's the living room before:


And here it is now:

We layered together natural tones and textures with blue & yellow accents to create a neutral backdrop with   bright colors used sparingly.  My clients wanted color but we decided it was best to bring in in through the furnishings & fabrics rather than on the walls.  (I often do color this way for a light & airy feeling in a home.)

I was beyond thrilled when my clients gave me the "ok" on the John Robshaw fabric for the sofa's slipcover!!!


I've dreamed about this sofa I love it so much.  It's just got such a relaxed cool look to it.  We used my "Fern Star" linen in yellow for the curtains (made by Paul David Design) and they're so soft & cheerful in there!!

The dining room is open to the living room and we went with a simple unframed oil painting for the wall:


We selected glass lamps to flank the sofa so that they would intrude less than typical opaque lamps would have and make the rooms feel more open to each other.  We used a small pair of slipper chairs in front of the window so that it would be easy to see past them.  Clients often get nervous when we put furniture in front of  windows, but even though it worried them a little, our clients trusted us & let the slipper chairs stay in the plan.  


As is often the case, not all of the furnishings arrived as planned yesterday  (so sad!!) and when the dining room sideboard came in, it has been painted the wrong color so we had to send it back to be exchanged, which is why it looks a little empty...  But I think you can still get the idea of where the room's going:

{ignore the tags still attached to the chairs please ;) ;)

Here's a close-up of my clients' parquet table:


To freshen it up, we mixed it with ticking chairs at the heads of the table and black ladder backs for side chairs.

Here's the kitchen before my clients moved in...


...And here it is now:


We worked with our good friend Mike Carr of CarrMichael Construction to have everything done in the house, including the reworking of the kitchen.  We kept all of the cabinetry and reworked it slightly before having it painted.  We had the two-tiered island  leveled out to a counter-height surface, something I almost always have done in kitchens because not only does it look simpler & prettier, it becomes so much more usable.  We liked the island's cabinetry and were lucky that the guys were able to salvage the panels and make them shorter so they could fit at the new height.  We added lighting, new countertops and a new refrigerator that was counter-depth so it didn't intrude into the walkway.


The countertops look very similar to soapstone but are actually a leathered granite called "Virginia Mist."  I'd never seen slabs like them before and had had my eye on them since last September (when I started my own countertop search) so I was so happy that they'd work for my clients' kitchen!!  The counters are a very deep solid black with a few heavy white veins, which we had placed prominently on the island to fit around the existing cooktop:


The kitchen has an eating area and we created a built-in desk & wall of cabinetry for for paying bills, using the computer and keeping the house in order.  The kitchen is also open to a small hearth room, which is where the TV is...


The back steps you see here lead to a guest suite.  Here's a close-up of the kitchen dining area & work station:


It's hard to see from the photo but the base of the table is a green-gray-blue milk paint, just a bit paler than the kitchen cabinets.  We had the table built by The Lorimer Workshop, who never cease to create the perfect pieces for our projects!  The back of the work station was painted with chalkboard paint & my client had the brilliant idea to do magnetic paint underneath the chalkboard paint, so now they can used it to hang things on too!!  We mounted the sconces right over it.

For the hearth room, we went with four cozy wing chairs.  We had the back of the chairs done in a simple plaid and the fronts in an oatmeal-colored linen.  Because the room is so small, I thought curtains that blended in with the walls would be best.  We had them hung at the ceiling and mounted natural woven roman shades at the ceiling too, to make the room feel taller.  The blue & white dhurrie wanted to jump in my car yesterday it was so pretty...  But I resisted...


We hung a massive John Muir Tree print on the open wall in the hearth room to create another focal point.  It's truly, MASSIVE.  My clients thought on it a while because but decided to go for it and again, it's another one of those things I probably did a little happy dance for when I got the OK.  ;) ;)  We placed an unobtrusive rolling bar cart in front of it that could be used as both a side table & for book storage.


There is something so incredibly inviting about an arrangement of four chairs in front of a fireplace.  The chairs just seem to call to you and you just want to snuggle in & put your feet up.

We had the powder room papered & added sconces and it was totally transformed from the bright red room it used to be:



I hope you've enjoyed what you've seen of the house so far but I've got to run for the day.  (I don't do this to tantalize- I promise- but I'm the type who only works on a blog post once and post it as it comes.  hahaha which is why you see so many spelling errors & typos!! No proofreading over here.  I've always told myself that one day I'd go through the entire blog & fix all of the errors but I think I've been lying to myself so that I can hit "publish.")  Anyway, I'll be back with the before & after of the master bedroom later!!  Thank you so much to our incredibly kind and trusting clients, who welcomed us into their home.  (And to their daughter who read this blog & made it all happen!! ;) ;)  Getting to know you all has been wonderful and we can't thank you enough!!

Have a great day!!



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