Inside Out Design

During the summer, it is too hot to want to do much of anything outdoors, which is the perfect time to make your home look beautiful inside. You could take up project like creating a mosaic tile backsplash for your kitchen, or just move some furniture around to get a brand new feel in your home. But, now, as the summer months slip lazily into fall, you can take advantage of any outdoor space that you might have overlooked during the summer.

Outdoor arrangements like this are possible with modern materials.

Outdoor arrangements like this are possible with modern materials.

A lot of people love to grill in the summer and it is a great time to do it! The trouble is, do you really want to eat a hot meal outside when it is 100 degrees and sunny? You don’t have that same trouble when you are in the fall. Grilling in the fall gives you the best of all worlds, it is still warm enough to comfortably be outside but not so hot that you are begging to turn away from the flames. The question is, is your patio or deck or other outdoor space ready for outdoor dining, entertaining, and just general relaxing? Here are a few thing to think about as you get whatever space you have prepared for an autumnal adventure.

Interior design used to be restricted to the interior. This was because many materials simply could not stand up to unpleasant weather. So, unless you were willing to drag your patterned sofa and stained glass installation inside every evening and back out every morning, you just stuck with rod iron furniture or heavily weather-proofed wood. But now, thanks to innovations in fabrics and other materials, many items that used to be indoor only can be taken outside without a care for their wellbeing. This means that you can have the same ultra-modern looking glass coffee table outdoors that you have in your living room. So, shop around for pieces you love and then search for an outdoor friendly version.

Another tip is to spend a little extra on your outdoor furniture. Because it is exposed to the elements, outdoor furniture shows its true value much more quickly than the same quality piece would inside. Fraying, staining, rotting, and even breaking will occur faster outdoors if the piece is not of sufficient quality. Sure, it will be a little more upfront, but it will be worth it as a good piece of outdoor furniture can last for 25 years or more!

Light up the grill, put some logs in the fire pit and relax in your new-found living room outside! The fall is the perfect time for it and nothing is stopping you now from doing it in style!

from Danny Yehia

UN Climate Summit Promises Change

On the surface, it may seem like the UN Climate Summit, put together by the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, did not accomplish a thing. There were no sweeping decisions made, no laws were enacted, no treaties signed. There was not even an official agreement to speak of. But, despite that, the summit left a lot of people in the environmental policy world feeling optimistic about the future of our planet.

Climate change was officially shown to be on the minds of world leaders at the UN Summit.

Climate change was officially shown to be on the minds of world leaders at the UN Summit.

The summit was not much more than 120 world leaders making speeches. One after another, leaders from countries both large and small made four minute speeches about climate change. That was it. There was not even any discussion (until later sessions) allowed. Just one speech followed by the next until all 120 leaders had spoken. Big names like President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli attended the conference and spoke. In many ways, what they had to say was the most interesting and the most influential.

President Obama urged China, currently the world’s greatest producer of greenhouse gas and home to many of the top ten cities with the worst air quality in the world, to show leadership and take a firm stand on policies that would slow the production of greenhouse gases in their nation. Zhang, who has been notoriously slow to step up to the plate on these issues, made a clear statement that China would have data released about, and a date set for, their peak emissions. This is interesting and important because once they have reached their peak, the production will begin to slow. It is impossible to expect China to just suddenly decrease their emissions by 50% or even 10%, it is going to be a process. But, from the looks of it, this process has begun.

In later sessions, business leaders also answered the call to protect the environment. Many big banks and other financial firms pledged to support green, low-carbon investment opportunities to the tune of 200 billion dollars in the coming year. That means that anyone looking to get a share of that huge amount of money will have to follow strict green guidlines throughout their processes. Financial incentives always motivate change and if these institutions live up to their words, and they should, there are 200 billion reasons to start making businesses green.

from Danny Yehia

Carlex Glass Co. Expanding

Guardian Industries Corp. has agreed to the terms set out by Central Glass Co. and ownership of two of Guardian’s subsidiaries, Guardian Automative Products Inc. and Guardian Automotive-E S.A. will transfer soon. This is good news for Carlex Glass Co., itself a subsidiary of Central Glass Co. Carlex will inherit the companies that are being acquired by Central Glass Co. and will be in charge of operations at the two sites.

Interestingly enough, Guardian Automative Products Inc. is located in Michigan and Guardian Automotive-E S.A. is located in Luxembourg so, their respective glass manufacturing plants can be found in Indiana and Luxembourg. This international spread is something that attracted Central Glass Co. and Carlex Glass Co. to the deal. They were interested in expanding their global presence and this acquisition gave them just such an opportunity. Members of the leadership at Carlex implied that the access to new customer bases and improved efficiency for shipping were two factors that made the deal enticing.

The factory floor at the new plants might look something like this.

The factory floor at the new plants might look something like this.

In addition to the perks added by the locations of the acquired facilities, the new plants will allow Carlex Glass Co. to produce a more diverse group of products for aftermarket distribution and for a range of large automotive manufacturers as well. Both sides are looking forward to a smooth and efficient transition of ownership and control. The president of Guardian Automotive, Mike Morrison, said, “Carlex’s agreement to purchase Guardian’s OEM business, coupled with its previous purchase of Zeledyne’s auto glass manufacturing facility in Nashville and aftermarket distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn., is strong evidence of its commitment to the automotive glass business in both OEM and aftermarket. Our people will be joining an established brand with a long-term focus on the automotive glass business.” Clearly the two companies are joining on good terms and do not expect any serious problems.

That is, assuming the regulatory approvals and traditional closing conditions are met. That is not anticipated to be an issue but it is worth noting that the deal has not officially be approved.

from Danny Yehia

PCB Degrading Bacteria Found

PCBs are one of the most dangerous chemicals man has ever created and, to make matters worse, they are almost impossible to destroy. PCB is short for polychlorinated biphenyls, a compound made of chlorine and biphenyl that was used as coolant fluid in many electrical products in the past. Thankfully, we have improved our electrical equipment and, after seeing the negative effects they had on people and the environment, no longer use these terrible compounds to help run everyday appliances. This is a huge positive step for man and the environment. The only trouble is, what happens with the PCBs that we already released?

PCBs like the one shown in the diagram above are nearly invincible pollutants.

PCBs like the one shown in the diagram above are nearly invincible pollutants.

The answer is, these PCBs, thanks to their incredibly hearty nature, continue to pollute streams, rivers, bays and wetlands across the globe. They have been proven, in a variety of studies, to cause cancer and a range of other harmful effects in animals. Human trials are obviously more difficult to undertake but based on studies of humans exposed there is evidence that PCBs cause similar if not identical problems for us. For many years, despite knowledge of the dangers of these chemicals, nothing could be done besides scooping massive quantities of water and dirt from the bottom of a body of water and dumping the contaminated detritus in a landfill. This was inefficient and did damage to the environment in its own ways. But finally, an answer might be coming!

Scientists at the National University of Singapore have found three strains of bacteria (all belonging to a genus known as Dehalococcoides) which can eat away at PCBs and render them more inert. The engineers and scientists found these bacteria but did not stop there, they also went on to innovate ways of nurturing and collecting these bacteria on a grand scale so they could be used effectively to degrade the PCBs in a particular body of water.

It will still be a time before these new bacteria are optimized and made ready to help depollute areas affected by PCBs but it is a comfort to know that one day, we might be able to undo the damage we have done to the environment.

from Danny Yehia

How to Install a Mosaic Tile Backsplash

We spend a lot of time in our kitchens. It is not only where we prepare meals, it is also where we snack, have our morning coffee, and even just have a relaxing chat with a friend. So why don’t we spend some time making it look great?

Here is your kitchen before adding a tile backsplash. Dull and uninspiring...

Here is your kitchen before adding a tile backsplash. Dull and uninspiring…

The simple answer for some people is because it is too hard. They don’t know how to make a kitchen that looks outdated leap into the current century. Well, don’t be discouraged anymore! A simple update that will make any kitchen look terrific is adding a glass tile backsplash. And it is easy to do!

Step One: Find your backsplash

Most hardware stores have tons of options to choose from so take stock of the current color scheme of your kitchen and find something that you think would fit well. The multi-color options that provide a subtle pattern are especially attractive.

Step Two: Prep your wall

To really make the backsplash look seamless, you will need to remove appliances and install a temporary ledger. Make sure to use a level to keep everything straight.

Choose a focal point, usually at the center of your oven/range, and mark it with a piece of tape. This will serve as the starting point for the adhesion of your backsplash.

Next, line up the tiles on the wall in order to identify where you will need to make your cuts. Follow the age-old adage, “measure twice and cut once” to avoid unnecessary cuts. You can always press the tiles slightly together or stretch them slightly to make the tiles fit more snugly in your desired section.

Step Three: Apply the Thinset

Mix thinset in a easy to hold container and, beginning at the center point, spread the thinset across the surface you will tile. Try to use the edge of your trowel to achieve a thickness of about ¼ in. The thicker you go, the more there will be to press through the spaces in the tiles; the thinner your thinset layer, the more risk there is that the tiles will not set.

Step Four: Placing Your Tiles

Place your tile sheets into the thinset layer and lightly press them to ensure a strong bond. You can also use a flat hard-cover book or a piece of wood placed flat over the tiles and hit it lightly with a hammer in order to get the tiles to adhere completely.

Step Five: The Grand Finale

Danny Yehia walks you through how to apply a mosaic tile backsplash in your kitchen.

And here is your finished kitchen. Gorgeous! The mosaic tile backsplash truly brings it to life.

Peel the paper off the tiles by first wetting the paper and then peeling carefully from one of the corners. The tiles could be a little dirty so take a wet cloth and gently clean them. Then, apply your grout and wait for everything to set. Replace any appliances you removed and step back and admire your beautiful new kitchen!


from Danny Yehia

Now Is the Time to Act on Climate Change

Danny Yehia:

Give this a quick read – The Huffington Post always has some great posts on the environment.

Originally posted on Emilio Cogliani:

Climate change has been one of my top priorities since the day I took office in 2007. I said then that if we care about our legacy for succeeding generations, this is the time for decisive global action. I have been pleased to see climate change rise on the political agenda and in the consciousness of people worldwide. But I remain alarmed that governments and businesses have still failed to act at the pace and scale needed.

Time is running out. The more we delay, the more we will pay. Climate change is accelerating and human activities are the principal cause, as documented in a series of authoritative scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The effects are already widespread, costly and consequential — to agriculture, water resources, human health, and ecosystems on land and in the oceans. Climate change poses sweeping risks for economic stability and the…

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from Danny Yehia

Plant-Based Pause No 35: Why Living Plant-Based is Better for the Planet

Danny Yehia:

I’ve met a lot of people that do these plant-based diets. The more I get to know about it, the more I realize that it might be something we should all look into. Maybe not live entirely this way, but leaning more and more toward a plant-based diet could benefit all of us.

Originally posted on Sasieology:

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Pollution is a symbol of design failure.’ – William McDonough


So far in these plant-based pauses I’ve talked a lot about how eating plant-based is better for your personal health, but did you also know that ditching the animal products is also much…

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from Danny Yehia