The Green Countertop Dilemma

first_imgDuring a recent visit to Eco6Design in Half Moon Bay, California, I was drooling over all the fabulous “eco” options for countertops. Serious eye candy! Vetrazzo, Fireclay Tile, Stone Age, IceStone, Fuez. I was itching to go home, rip out my pale-avocado-tile-with-black-grout counters and start afresh. After all, at 30-plus years old, they’re beyond dated, they’re scratched and chipped, and the grout is so eroded that we have a well-developed riparian system when we sluice down the counters after cooking.And then, in the quiet of the next morning, before other humans in my household had awoken, my mind drifted back and stalled on the issue that has long frustrated me about countertops; to wit, no matter what they’re made of, they’re inherently non-green inasmuch as they are custom, adhered in place, and worse – they fasten cabinets to walls at the backsplash.Just How Ungreen Are Countertops?Stewart Brand, in his deservedly famous book How Buildings Learn, points out that the materials in a building that are least enduring – whether due to wear, changing technology, or changing fashion – should be most accessible and easy to swap out for new. It follows then that those items also should be those in which we invest the least: money, energy, and resources.With rare exceptions, countertops score horribly on all counts:1. They are appallingly expensive. I came home with a price chart for these wonderful counter options, and the low end is around $30/sq.ft. So new counters for my midsize kitchen would cost upwards of $500 — not including the labor to remove the old and install the new. Call it $1,500. Ouch! Not this year …2. The embodied energy of countertops is typically very high. Most counter materials contain cement, are fired at high temperatures, contain a high percentage of synthetic materials, and/or may travel long distances (probably by truck) to get to their final destination. Obviously, the trade-off is durability. Brand’s admonishments notwithstanding, nobody wants flimsy, cheesy countertops that start to look battered within months. Even so, it’s hard to justify an astronomically high energy investment in materials that are highly subject to the vagaries of fashion and taste – all the more so for a speculative builder, whose choice may be rejected by a buyer and promptly replaced.3. The investment may be disproportionate to the countertop’s longevity. Countertops may not require a lot of raw material in their manufacture, but their high cost is at least a partial reflection of all the resources — materials, labor, and energy — that go into making them.What to Do?Sad to say that, despite pondering this conundrum repeatedly, I have yet to come up with a truly great answer. The ideal solution would be modular (or resizable) rather than unitary, would be installed without glue or grout, and would decouple the horizontal counter surface from the backsplash. This would mean that, however great the investment, it would be readily reusable when removed for whatever reason.Relatively large stone or ceramic tiles (12×12 or 12×24) might work but would require a clever (nonadhering) installation/deinstallation method, which I have yet to encounter. Even so, there would still be seams between tiles to deal with: Hard to imagine a seam sealer that would work well in service but also remove easily when the time came.I suspect the best option is butcher block (FSC or reclaimed, of course), in good-size chunks, installed with screws from below for easy disassembly. Somewhat surprisingly, studies have shown that wooden cutting boards have good antimicrobial properties as well as providing a good work surface, hence their popularity in restaurant kitchens. Restaurant kitchens also provide a clue to a good second option: stainless steel. It’s not modular, but it can be cut easily to any desired length.SinksAnother countertop challenge is the sink cutout, which is problematic from a couple of perspectives: It’s not compatible with modular materials; plus you pay for – and then typically throw away – the material in the cutout area. If I were going to do over my kitchen this year, I would swap out the charmingly vintage avocado undermount sink (which along with the surrounding countertop are the only vestiges of the prior owner’s tasteful 1970s décor – the matching appliances having died welcomed deaths over the past decade) for a sink with integral backsplash and apron. These allow the countertops to butt up against them, eliminating the sink cutout. Hurrah! Problem solved. Well, mostly …The BacksplashI mentioned separating the backsplash from the countertop. Hmmm, another challenge. The reason for not having them separate is to avoid making a path for water to travel from the counter into the wall. In my ideal world, building new, what would I do about that?A. Use non-paper-faced drywall in walls abutting countertops, whether in baths or in kitchens.B. Develop a flashing detail for the joint where the counter intersects the backsplash.C. Assemble the backsplash on an underlayment – off the wall – instead of installing it directly to the wall. Then attach the assembly to the wall in such a way that it could be later removed (probably in sections).That all sounds perfectly reasonable (don’t you think?), but I haven’t actually attempted it. I’m betting there are some readers out there who may have some creative solutions to this dilemma, and I’d love to see them. Please write in!last_img read more

Video Tutorial: Customize the Premiere Pro Timeline

first_imgPanel Menu and Timeline Display SettingsThere are two areas in the timeline panel where you can do some significant customization: The panel menu and the timeline display settings menu. The majority of your customization options can be found in the latter. To open the timeline display settings menu, click on the small wrench icon in the upper left hand side of the timeline panel.Video and Audio Clip Display OptionsShow Video ThumbnailsVideo thumbnails provide you a reference frame on each individual clip.Show Video KeyframesYou can display keyframe information straight on your video clips. If you aren’t doing any keyframing or animating properties, it can be beneficial to remove this display. Show Video NamesYou may or may not want video names to display on your clips. I prefer to leave them on with the audio name displays turned off.Show Audio WaveformOnce you remove this display, you’ll notice how much space audio waveforms take up in the timeline — and just how quickly you can become lost without them.Show Audio KeyframesJust as with video keyframes, you can display audio keyframe information on your audio clips.Show Audio NamesTurning off audio name information can help to declutter your timeline. I personally find myself using only video names and turning off audio names.Clip Markers, Duplicate Frame Markers, Through Edits and FX BadgesShow Clip MarkersClip markers are a useful tool. If you use them heavily, but want to focus on something else, you can quickly turn them off.Show Duplicate Frame MarkersDuplicate frame markers are useful and help keep you alert to any clips or frames being displayed more than once in your timeline.Show Through EditsThrough edits also help keep you aware of any possible unnecessary edits on a clip. A through edit is an edit where no frames are missing within a clip.Show FX BadgesFX badges are extremely useful. They have three different display modes: gray means nothing is going on with your clip, yellow means you have keyframes on a property somewhere, and purple means you have an actual effect on your clip.Trimming, Tracks, Headers and the Panel MenuComposite Preview During TrimComposite preview during a trim simply shows you a composite of both the frame being trimmed and the frame of the adjacent clip on the timeline. Turn this off to see a full-screen preview of only the frame being trimmed.Minimize All TracksA new feature of the recent update to Premiere, the minimize all tracks feature is one of my favorites. I edit on a 15″ Macbook Pro laptop, and screen real estate is in high demand.Customize Video and Audio HeadersIn the timeline display settings menu you can customize your video and audio headers to your heart’s content. You even have a button editor palette to explore.The Panel MenuIn addition to the timeline display settings menu, the panel menu offers up several additional features, including adjusting video thumbnails, customizing audio waveform displays, adding a work area bar, time units, removing time ruler numbers, and creating a custom start time for your sequence timecode.ConclusionCheck out our final timeline to see just how much you can customize the look of your sequence. I suggest you look around inside both the panel menu and timeline display settings menu to figure out which display options are best for you!What does your Premiere Pro timeline look? Show us your work in the comments below! The Premiere Pro timeline panel is where you’ll spend most of your time when editing video, so why not learn how to make it perfect for you? This video tutorial demonstrates how to customize the Premiere Pro timeline.Customizing your Premiere Pro timeline can help you more comfortably navigate your project, and, in turn, streamline your workflow. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to customize various display options of your timeline in Adobe Premiere Pro. Let’s start with a very busy and cluttered timeline, and step by step we’ll slowly take away display options until we’re left with a very minimal look. Doing this will help you see the extent to which you can customize. Let’s get started.last_img read more

Games all set for a gala opening on Sunday

first_imgAn illuminated view of Commonwealth Games village near the Akshardham Temple, in New Delhi. PTIAbout 7,000 men, women and children will dish out a show of India’s cultural heritage in a gala Commonwealth Games opening ceremony with the icing on the cake being Maestro A R Rahman’s performance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday.With most of the tickets already sold out, the two-hour ceremony, scheduled from 7 p m, will start with President Pratibha Patil and Britain’s Prince Charles expected to declare the Games open in front of a packed stadium of 65,000 capacity on Sunday.The 619-member strong Indian contingent will be led by Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra who will carry the Indian flag during the ceremony.Delhi sports new look for CWG | CWG: IAF to provide security | Delhi welcomes Queen’s batonEven as tennis sensation Sania Mirza will not be part of the Indian march-past as the Hyederabadi ace has preferred to rest, badminton star Saina Nehwal, Beijing Olympic Games bronze medalist boxer Vijender Kumar and wrestler Sushil Kumar will be among the six who will carry the baton during the formal part of the pageant.There will be seven segments — including Rhythm of India, Swagatam, Tree of Knowledge, Yoga, Great Indian Journey and Oscar winner composer A.R. Rahman’s rendition of the CWG anthem ‘Jiyo Utho Badho Jeeto’ — in the nearly three-hour ceremony.The guest panel will include International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennel, New Zealand Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, Monaco’s Prince Albert II and Presidents Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives and Marcus Stephen of Nauru.advertisementHosts India are aiming to break into the traditional rivalry of champions Australia and England who have been fighting it out for top two slots in the past.The Aussies, who have topped the gold and total medal tallies at the past five Games and are expected to once again be confirmed as the number one nation, have sent their largest ever team to an off-shore multi-discipline sports event in a bid to continue their reign in Delhi.Although the country’s high-water mark of 221 medals (84 gold, 69 silver and 68 bronze) at the 2006 Melbourne Games is unlikely to be surpassed in India, team officials expect another gold rush.Australia’s record gold medal haul came at the 1994 Victoria Games in Canada with 87.With inputs from PTIlast_img read more