Remove the Waste Items and Keep Your Surroundings Clean

A comfortable place is a dream of everyone. In order to make your place as dreamy as your hope, you need to keep your house clean. But it is difficult when you have waste items in it. The first step is to identify what is the definition of waste. Waste is an undesired or unwanted material. These unwanted items can be accumulated along with the consumptive behavior. Sometimes you feel frustrated and irritated by waste items in your house. People are facing different problems and situation when they are dealing with waste items. Some of them recycle the items and some of them contact an organization or service provider that gives them solution even to their extreme problem. Some website will tell you about reduce, reuse, and recycle. Some website will offer you to call an organization that can help you to overcome your situation.

What do reduce, reuse, and recycle mean?

reduce, reuse, and recycle

Reducing the consumption is the preventive way that will help you the stay away from waste items. When you have bought items and now you are considering throwing it away, look around in your garage, you need to consider which reusable stuff is available there. May be you can turn it into something more useful. When you need to buy something, you need a concept of cycle from the recycle term to consider if the stuff can be recycled or not. Some says that it is the ideal concept of removing waste items problem.

Steps that you need to take are making a list of the stuffs that you have in your house. After you have the list, it will be easier for you to decide which are useful and which waste stuffs are. This is also the best time to redecorate your house and make it more comfortable. With this step, you will also identify the stuffs that can be reused and recycled.

The important thing

When you think that reusing and recycling is hard for you, you may visit a website with a list of environmental organization to help you.

  • The important thing is you need to check the reputation of the organization. The reputation will give you a safe feeling so you can trust your belongings on their hand.
  • The second is the services and rates. You have to check both because different services may cost different price.
  • The third, feedback and review from other customers also need to be checked so you have the idea of how the organization works.

This is also to prevent any problems that might occur. After checking, you can choose the organization with best reputation that can help you with the waste with affordable rate. The payment for the services could be through cash orders, money orders, individual checks, or other methods to make the process easier for the customers. If you are a new customer, you will get a new container from them so you don’t need to worry about the storage issue. Usually, this kind of organizations also gives other services such as lodgings, restaurants, supermarkets, complexes, healing centers, hospitals, and retail locations. You can always check through their website to check what kind of services that they have and choose the most suitable service for you.

The solution

With the solution that available for the waste items above, you can move around your house to do a listing first. Either to reuse, recycle, or relocate, there is no reason for you to keep the waste in your house. Many ideas of items reusing provided by experts and many companies. They will provide the service that you need with the waste items. So, what are you waiting for to remove the waste items and keep your house clean?

 

Five Beautiful and Mind Blowing Ideas to have Amazing Backyards for Your Kids

If you own a house, then you need to be particular about many details. These details include the interior of the house, as well the exterior, garden and the backyard. If you want to have an amazing backyard, then there are plenty of ideas and designs to look into and then any of them of can be implemented to get an amazing backyard, keeping some space for the kids respectively.

Five of the most interesting and beautiful backyard ideas for the children are listed below.

Matchbox car village:

After the movie ‘The Cars’ was launched, the craziness and excitement about cars was revived further amongst the children. The matchbox car village is ideal for those who want create such a space in their backyard where their son or children play with cars, trucks and other vehicles.

Matchbox car village

If you look at the image, you will find a sandy area where a truck or a car can be placed or parked. Three houses are located nearby and the boundary wall is a roadway for the movement of vehicles. One road links the roadway with another road inside. Other buildings are also seen within the design.

Sand boat:

This is another exciting and interesting backyard design for the children.

Sand boat

You can reserve a space behind your house where you can place a wooden wall. Ahead of it you need to place a wooden medium sized boat and fill it with sand. A mast could be placed in between the boat to give a real look. The boat can be painted in any color and the kids can just hop inside in their spare time.

They can carry their toys, a bucket and a ball, and do whatever they feel like doing respectively.

Backyard Beach:

If you want to give a beach-like look to your backyard, then the backyard beach design is meant for you. This design makes use of 7 feet by 7 feet wooden box which has is big enough and will require considerable space in your backyard.

You can build it in the center of the backyard and fill it with sand and spread some grass in between. At one of the corners you can even put a small inflated pool for your little kid, while the elder children can lie beside him. A small chair can also be placed inside this box at one end. The kids can play with a ball here and enjoy their time for sure. A small child can either play with inflated ducks in the pool or enjoy reading a book on the chair. Moreover, a tent can be placed over the box to prevent much glare from the sun.

Mud pie Kitchen with Chalkboards:

This backyard design will require you to build a sandbox and it is a pretty unique idea as well. This design is meant for the girls and they will surely like it than others.

Mud pie Kitchen with Chalkboards

At one end you will need to place two rectangular blackboards over which different sorts of utensils and vessels can be drawn easily. In fact one can be used to draw images and the other can be used to write a menu card for the day. A medium sized table has to be placed in front of the boards where a stove can be kept for cooking. A shelf needs to be placed nearby which would hold all the utensils, cutlery and dishes. Thus, a cooking area in open space is created which is different and the girls can really put up something together.

 Multi-level Plays cape:

This design is inspired by an amusement park theme where the children have fun on the slides and do different activities. What you will need to do is create high level area near the hedgerow and build a wooden or cemented platform on top of it.

Multi-level Plays cape

The platform will have two open ends; one for the typical slide and the other for the grassy patch way. At the rear end, there can be an entrance for the platform and children can climb it on the steps. Thus, there will be two ways of enjoyment. One is the slide which cannot be missed and the other is patch way which can be used to place different kinds of stuff by the kids.

What is Hot Tub Cinema

If you love watching TV shows and you love relaxing in a hot tub, perhaps you have heard or watched one of the episodes of American Dad animated series. On that episode, Stan was exhausted from all of his CIA tasks and then his friend suggested him to get himself a hot tub. If you are as exhausted as Stan from your daily routine, it is time to consider getting yourself a hot tub too.

What is the first thing that crosses your mind when you heard about buying a hot tub? You may be one of the people who think that buying a hot tub will cost a lot, take a lot of time and energy to install, and take a lot of space in your house. Those are true for conventional hot tub. In this modern day, you can get a hot tub without having to get through those problems. Blow up inflatable hot tub does not cost a lot, does not take a lot of time and energy, and does not take a lot of space.

This new generation of hot tub has become popular among hot tub fans. Because it is inflatable, it does not take a lot of space to store. You just have to deflate after usage and put it back in a corner of your house or under your bed, When you get a conventional hot tub, there are a lot of work to do such as getting it inside your house, installing it, and let alone the plumbing work. But with this blow up inflatable hot tub, you just need to unpack it, put it where you want it to be, inflate it, and pour some water in. It is called blow up hot tub but it doesn’t mean that you have to literally blow air into it. Just pump the air in, whether it uses electrical pump or manual pump.

Hot tub cinema events

Being so fast and easy to install, blow up inflatable hot tub is even used for commercial purpose. In London, New York, and Ibiza, you may find some hot tub cinema events. It is an invention designed for youngster to hang out and enjoy their time together. It is not just about relaxing in the hot tub, but also watching great movies, singing along to your favorite songs, dancing, and drinking. All packed in one amazing spot with unforgettable view. There are not just two, but up to 20 hot tubs available for you. Imagine how handful it would have been for the event organizer if they used conventional hot tubs!

Just like a club or a café

Just like a club or a café, you can come to this hot tub cinema event by yourself, with your loved one, or with your friends. Due to its popularity and limited seat, you have to book for the entrance ticket first. Each hot tub can have around six people in it. So, if you come alone, you have to share a tub with everyone else. This could be a great opportunity to make new friends and bond instantly. Or if you like your tight group, you can come with five of your friends and book one hot tub just for you.

hot tub cinema bubbles

Holding a drink while relaxing in a hot tub could be messy. What if you want to get another drink? What if you are finished with this one? Wouldn’t it be disturbing to keep getting in and out of tub? No need to worry, each tub has its own waiter service.

The best ideas to spend your time

Hot tub cinema with blow up inflatable hot tub has been proven to be one of the best ideas to spend your time and create unforgettable moments. If you have a deep pocket, you can book the whole venue to yourself for your private party.

hot tub cinema party

Should I Use HEPA Air Purifiers in My House

Should I Use HEPA Air Purifiers in My House?

Air purifiers have in recent times come under scrutiny making a lot of people wonder if they actually have any benefits and in fact, they do get the job done. This has more so been the case with the HEPA filters owing to the fact that they are more highly priced and at the same time claim to be the best air purifier for smoke. That is why a lot of people usually enquire if it is okay for them to be using the HEPA air purifiers and if they can deliver. In a bid to cool off the heat, it is important to look at HEPA air filters and if they are really ideal for smoke removal.

What are HEPA filters?

best air purifier for smoke

What makes the HEPA air purifiers different from any other machine out there that is tasked with the job of cleaning the air that we breathe is the filtration system and the technology that is used? Here are some quick facts that you can use to make sure that you understand HEPA filters better.

  • HEPA is an acronym that stands for High efficiency Particulate Air filters.
  • They were designed to save scientists working on an atomic bomb and would intercept 99% of particles that were as small as 0. 3 microns large.
  • The work of getting the targeted pollutant to stick to their fibers.
  • Devices that use this system of filtration are typically mute and efficient.
  • Some HEPA filters are Washable.

The benefits of HEPA air purifiers

the best air purifier for smoke

Now that you understand a bit more about the HEPA filters and why they are definitely bound to work, knowing some of the benefits that you are bound to enjoy from this type of filters that is also touted as the best air purifier for smoke.

  • The first is that most of the air purifiers that use the HEPA system are usually very quiet. That means that they make for an ideal machine to be used in the home regardless of the time of day ensuring better, and high quality air round the clock.
  • They are also very efficient in the work that they do, and it is estimated that they are able to capture 99.99% of pollutants in the air that are not less than 0.3 microns in size.
  • HEPA filters are the only types of filters that are known to be able to filter smoke, as well as its odor hence their popularity.

Aside from the fact that buying an HEPA air purifier has quite a number of advantages, there are also benefits that the user is able to enjoy.

  • For people that suffer from a great deal of allergies, one of the benefits that HEPA air purifiers have to offer them is the fact that they remove the allergens from their allowing them to enjoy not cleaner air but at the same time, they are able to get reprieve from their allergies.
  • Because the purifier does a good job of removing the dust from the air, this can greatly reduce other chores in the home that include frequent cleaning since it is this same dust that is usually suspended in the air that later settles on the tables and the countertops. Because of its high efficiency more dust is caught up which translates to less cleaning.
  • Even though it is estimated that an air purifier that has a permanent HEPA filter may cost the user more, in the long run they are able to save more because the filters are more durable, and they do not have to invest in the replacements.

Why HEPA air purifiers can be ideal for your home?

Most people don’t want to invest in something that will only bring more agony into their home. And most people must ask if it is safe to use these air purifiers in the house especially considering what vacuum cleaners do. However, there are a few factors that make the HEPA air purifiers an ideal addition for your home and more so to be used.

  • Unlike vacuum cleaners, they don’t let the dust back into the air. Instead, they ensure the dust and any other particles are trap inside. This is how they are able to achieve their functions.
  • The HEPA Filters are very silent that makes them even more user-friendly even in the home regardless of the time or place. Furthermore, they are better used indoors.

Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home

Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home

Perhaps it would be ideal to start with mentioning that contrary to public opinion, there is actually a difference between air cleaners and air purifiers. With that said, air cleaners are tasked with cleaning the air in your home by ridding it of any dust, skin flakes and even pet hairs. However, there are a number of things that are very vital worth knowing about air cleaners and your home. The reason as to why these are important is because it will allow the air cleaner to work better, and you will be able to enjoy some of the benefits that come with such services.

Air Purifier remove dust from air

Making the right purchase

It all starts with being able to buy the right air cleaner. This is because, if you buy something that does not suit your needs, no matter how well you get the placement and any other vital information; the appliance will not be able to meet the standards that you have set. Some of the things that you should consider when making the purchase should include;

  • Cost- as much as you would like something that is top of the line, you want an air cleaner that is within your budget. Furthermore, there is a variety of other costs that are involved that include installation and maintenance, and this should also be considered.
  • The type of filtration- when considering this, there are a variety of things that you should have in mind. The first is what you want the air cleaner to deal with. While at this, it may be vital for you to have in mind that the air cleaners are not able to deal with odors and hence you might want to look to the air purifiers for that.
  • Noise level- well, no one really wants that much noise but then again the location of the air cleaner should be highly considered when considering the noise level.

Placement

Best Air Purifier for dust

Once you have bought your air cleaner, the next challenge, which you face, is the best spot for you to place in your home. For the portable air cleaners, you should not have much of a problem because these can be used in almost any part that is dry in your home. However, in the event that you don’t have the portable type, there are a variety of things that you should consider picking up the best place where you can place this.

  • Concentration of allergens- one of the best factors that you can consider is opting to put the air cleaner where there is the highest concentration of allergens, this way, you are able to make the most impact as these allergens are the ones that move across the house.
  • Where you spend most of the time- if you are staying alone, then you need to consider the part of the house that you spend most of your time in. This way, you guarantee yourself that you breathe in clean air for the better part of your day.

Capacity

The next thing that you need to consider is the capacity of the air cleaner. This is in most cases compared to the size of the room. To get the most benefits and to allow the air cleaner have a bigger impact, and then you need to make sure you set it up for success. For this there is a variety of functions that you can look at.

  • Performance- the first thing that you ought to look at is the performance of the appliance. This way you are able to know how much air is filtered at any given time. In actual sense, the more filtration, the better.
  • Filter- even though this is not very vital, it is still important since the filter type works in a different way as well as different efficiency. This is why it is vital to consider if the air cleaner is using HEPA or carbon filters.

Maintenance

Once you have been able to buy the right fit, have it in the right place and make sure it has the right placing, the only thing remaining to your home guide to air cleaners is proper maintenance to make sure that the air cleaner is able to stay at tip top condition.

  • The first thing that you ought to do is make sure that you regularly clean out the filters, this way you are able to free them from any debris and they are able to function better.
  • Dusting once in a while may also be quite essential.

Keep in mind that understanding the functioning of your air cleaner is going to be very vital for you to be able maintain it. It will ensure that you don’t panic and call technicians for potentially small things that you could easily fix yourself.

How to repair small appliances

How to repair small appliances

Many appliances around our houses especially those that help us do the normal but frequent activities in our houses are very helpful to anyone and it’s always a big blow to the home’s operation once they are damaged. A minor or major destruction to these appliances’ technical parts always lead to failure in their operating mechanism and efficiency. The most obvious thing to do would be to look for a technician to do the repair for you. But sometimes the damage may be to severe that the cost of repairing such an appliance surpasses the price of the said item, in this case, the thing to do would be to replace the item. But did you know you can easily fix some of these gadgets yourself without having to incur unnecessary costs?

How to repair small applicances

What to consider before repairing small appliances

Some of the common small appliances in our homes require electricity to function and therefore they need to be handled properly. However, before you decide what to do with your damaged gadget, there are a few things to keep in mind some of which are listed below;

  • Check if the impaired appliance has a warranty and make sure to check for the validity period. If it comes within the manufacturer’s warranty period, then you could take it back for repair or replacement.
  • If the damaged gadget is electrical, then you need to make sure it’s unplugged from the power source to avoid electrical shocks in case you decide to solve the problem yourself. Most electrical appliances are very sensitive and require technical knowledge to handle them.
  • Last but not least, you at least need to make sure you understand how the gadget functions. This will give you a heads-up of where to start in case you decide to tackle the problem yourself. If you don’t have a clue, then consulting a technician is your best bet.

The process of repairing small appliances (DIY guide)

How-an-air-purifier-works-2

What you need

  • Repair manual- this will enable you to handle your gadget’s fault with precision and achieve the best results you require. A repair manual will give you the details of any appliance you wish to repair. Manuals are always given by the manufacturer; however if your gadget does not have one, you could purchase from a related store or download such manuals online
  • Schematics- some appliances will have schematics, therefore, this need not scare you. A repair manual as mentioned could also have schematics to any gadget that you need to repair.
  • Tools- you will need tools such as a screw-driver to help you unscrew closed gadgets so that you can get access to the spoiled areas. It’s advisable to use magnet screw-drivers to avoid dropping and losing the screws.

The Steps

  • You need to key out the manufacturer, the make, and the model of the appliance you want to repair.
  • Check thoroughly through the paperwork of the gadget to identify if there are any troubleshooting details. This is important in figuring out the malfunctioning part of your appliance.
  • This is the right time to go for your repair manual. If your gadget has this then continue with the repair process, if not, then you could visit the manufacturer’s website and download the manuals which are always in PDF format and are very easy to read and interpret.
  • Read the repair manual carefully and make sure you have a clear grasp of what is required. If, for one reason or another, you do not understand you could try referring to the schematics for answers; otherwise post your questions in the forum box and get a clear understanding of what you need.
  • Get the essential safety forethoughts for your given situation e.g. working with refrigerants in the case of a room air conditioner or EPA for regulating how you can repair appliances that are capable of emitting toxins to the environment? This is both very helpful for you and your entire home and neighborhood.
  • You could also attend a class for further instructions and knowledge of how to repair small home appliances. Local community forums are helpful; otherwise you can always visit online education forums.

To avoid unnecessary repairs and damages always follow the user manuals that accompanied your gadget and get the best out of your items. Maintenance of your appliances is also very crucial in avoiding such costly damages.

The Redbook love every room in your home makeover

 

“We want more warmth and a little pizzazz.” That’s what Jackie and Bill

Bartnick told the REDBOOK homemakeover team about their New Jersey ranch home. What that meant

to us: less clutter, more color, better flow, smarter use of every space, and stylish details that take each

room from just fine to fabulous. Turn the page to see how the Bartnicks got it all–and how you can

too.

Meet the Bartnicks

Jackie, 37, and Bill, 38, have a full house: two active kids–Kira, 6, and

Bryan, 3–plus Jackie’s mother and grandmother, who are bunking with them for a short time. Bill works

fulltime as a telecommunications product manager in New Jersey. Jackie works three days a week in

New York City as a bank officer, and she often uses the office in their living room to work from

home.

MAKE YOUR SPACE work for you

MAXIMIZE EVERY VALUABLE INCH OF PREP SPACE–AND CLEAN UP THE

KITCHEN WITH AN EASY, MODERN LOOK.

the kitchen

BEFORE: The dark cabinets and far-from-fabulous vinyl floor are crying out

for a makeover. But those are just the details! It’s the big island, low-hanging microwave, and in-the-way

refrigerator that make kitchen tasks harder than they need to be.

AFTER: The refrigerator and pantry swapped places, and we exchanged the

island for a more compact unit. The kitchen looks light, clean, and bright in a mellow yellow shade that

contrast beautifully with the new hardwood floor.

WHAT’S WRONG HERE:

Out-of-style cabinets: The wood finish and ornate hardware on the

cabinets are outdated and don’t fit the Bartnicks’ more modern style.

Wrong lighting: This brass chandelier feels too formal

and glitzy for a casual kitchen. And when the Bartnicks add a leaf to extend their kitchen table for

entertaining, there isn’t enough light spread out along the ends.

Awkward refrigerator: “Whenever anyone sat at the

island, I’d bump into them while trying to get in and out of the refrigerator,” says Jackie.

untitled

Oversize island: The island takes up valuable real estate

in a small space–only one person can squeeze around two of its sides, the fridge door opens into it, and

when Jackie and Bill sit there to eat, there’s nowhere for their knees to go!

Old oven: The gas double-oven that carne with their

house looks like a big black hole in the cabinets–and, more important, it doesn’t cook efficiently.

Two-tone table and chairs: Two wood tones plus

patterned seat cushions make the kitchen set look cobbled-together and busy.

Drab vinyl floor: Unlike a diamond, a floor is not meant

to last a lifetime. This ho-hum vinyl floor is dingy after years of use.

Too-small kids’ table set: Kira is too big for the chairs; Bryan is outgrowing

the Winnie the Pooh theme.

WHAT WE DID:

Floor: Lowe’s tipped us off about a new kind of flooring

made by Bruce. It’s a hardwood floor without the hard installation–the pieces of red oak click together

and are a cinch to install, even on top of plywood, which is what was under the vinyl floor.

To buy: Bruce Hardwood Naturally Simple in Gunstock,

model ABC6601, $3.98 per square foot; Lowe’s. Total cost for the kitchen floor: $1,280.

Cabinets: If your budget doesn’t permit new cabinets,

then painting them is a great way to freshen their look. An even easier instant update: Switch out the

hardware! To buy: American Tradition Belle Grove Buff paint in semigloss finish, 3006-10B, $23 per

gallon. [Great Buy] Satin nickel cabinet knobs, model 64296, $1.57 each; Lowe’s. We added 40 knobs to

replace the Bartnicks’ outdated handles, but the total cost for this dramatic change was only

$62.80!

Countertop: Lowe’s scrapped the scratched white

laminate countertop and replaced it with seamless, stain-resistant, easy-to-clean (no grout, no sink lip,

no seam gaps) Corian. And no more bruised kneecaps with the Corian overhang on the new island. To

buy: Corian solid surfacing in Sahara, 51544, starting at $55 per square foot (price includes installation);

Lowe’s. Total cost for both countertops: $5,289.

WHAT WE DID:

untitled

Island: Lowe’s carpenter made a new island for the

Bartnicks’ unique space. We painted the island the same color as the cabinets–so it looks like a polished,

built-in component instead of an awkward add-on. (This custom island cost $4,150, but you can special-

order an island at Lowe’s for as little as $500.)

Stools: The dark wood and curved seats of these stools

tie in with the Asian-style furniture in the dining room. But the stools still mesh with the kitchen’s

country look. [Great Buy] Saddle-seat stool, $40 for 24″ high stool; Linens ‘n Things, Int.com.

Kitchen table and chairs: Bill and Jackie were hesitant

when we first suggested painting their table and chairs, but now they love the way the color works with

the rest of the room. “When the yellow table and chairs were placed in the kitchen, it was a noticeable

wow,” says Jackie. To buy: American Tradition Sunglow, 3003-2B in semigloss finish, $23 a gallon;

Lowe’s. For tables, add a polyurethane sealant on top.

Lights: Two small fixtures offer more flexibility than one

big light, plus the pair adds symmetry to this space. These pendants emit a soft glow–and there are no

harsh, exposed lightbulbs in sight when you’re sitting at the table. [Great Buy] Royce Lighting brushed

steel mini-schoolhouse pendants, 153658, $30; Lowe’s.

Refrigerator. Once the refrigerator was moved into the old

pantry area, there was a deep, awkward, unfinished space above it. The solution: The Lowe’s carpenter

built in two simple shelves painted the same color as the walls: American Tradition Sawyer White in

semigloss, 7002-16, $23 per gallon; Lowe’s. The new side-by-side refrigerator matches the other

stainless appliances–and it’s energy efficient. To buy: Whirlpool Gold Energy Star refrigerator in

stainless, $1,397; Lowe’s. [Great buy] The Bartnicks’ favorite feature is the ice maker, which adds only

$30 to $50 to the cost. Backsplash: Varying tones of the add dimension. To buy: 4″ Chiaro marble tiles,

95137, $6 each; Lowe’s.

Design for everyone in the future

 

BOOKS

  • Adil, Janeen R. Accessible Gardening for People with Physical Disabilities: A Guide to Methods, Tools, andPlants. Idyll Arbor. 1994. 300p. illus, index. ISBN 978-0-933149-56-4. pap. $16.95.

This guide to “barrier free gardening” by an avid gardener and mother of a child with spina bifida

includes tips on tools, emphasizes container gardening and raised beds, and features 100 black-and-

white photos and drawings. Unique to this resource is its chapter on how to make gardens accessible to

children with disabilities.

  • Barrier Free Environments Inc. Staff. The Accessible Housing Design File.Wiley. 1991. 213p. illus, index. ISBN 978-0-471-28436-9. pap. $95.

For remodelers working with contractors and architects, this book contains very detailed specifications

and diagrams to be used in conjunction with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

regulations. Both exteriors and interiors are addressed, and the instructions for building or modifying

entrances, ramps, doorways, kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms are clear and jargon-free. Includes

over 300 detailed illustrations.

  • Davies, Thomas D. & others. Accessible Home Design: Architectural Solutions for theWheelchair User. Paralyzed Veterans of America. 2006. 148p. illus, index. ISBN 978-0-929819-18-1. pap.

    $28.

One of the few guides available that discusses in any detail installing an elevator in a residence, this is

also a good all-around sourcebook on universal design, addressing the usual entranceway, kitchen, and

bathroom issues as well as outdoor spaces and garden paths.

Fairview Health Services. The Accessible Home: Easy Ways To Improve the Safety, Practicality, and Value

of Your Home. Fairview Pr. 2003. 32p. ISBN 978-1-57749-142-2. pap. $4.95.

Cowritten by two occupational therapists specializing an accessibility issues, this brief saddle-stitched

booklet is basically a checklist of things to consider–and there are so many–when buying or remodeling

for accessibility. A good place to start for those who are uncertain of their needs.

Herwig, Oliver. Universal Design: Solutions for a Barrier-Free Living. Birkhauser Basel. 2008. 208p. tr.

from German by L. Bruce. illus. ISBN 978-3-7643-6718-1. $69.95.

Written to German standards rather than ADA, this volume, which is available through Baker &

Taylor, gives an overview on general universal design concepts, but products for everyday living are the

text’s mainstay, and only one chapter is devoted specifically to home design. Since there are currently

few books on this important topic, this is an optional purchase for larger and academic libraries

supporting design programs.

Holmes-Siedle, James. Barrier-Free Design: A Manual for Building Designers and Managers. Architectural

Pr. 1996. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 978-0-7506-1636-2. pap. $85.95.

Aimed at architects and building managers, this volume by an industrial psychologist and design

consultant is geared more toward the construction and revamping of commercial buildings and college

dorms than single-family homes. The chapter on ramp construction, however, is extensive and includes

plans, diagrams, and black-and-white photographs that can be used in home ramp design.

  •  Jordan, Wendy A. Universal Design for the Home: Great-Looking, Great-Living Design for AllAges, Abilities, and Circumstances. Quarry: Quayside. 2008. 208p. illus. ISBN 978-1-59253-381-7. pap.

    $24.99.

Jordan, senior contributing editor of Professional Remodeling magazine, replaces the institutional-

looking UD ideas of the past with stylish, smart new projects. Her well-organized, well-written manual

combines floor plans, specifications, color photos, and recommended products. There is also a focus on

outdoor spaces such as patios, decks, and pathways, not often found in other UD titles. (LJ 1/08)

  • Peters, Rick. Remodeling for Easy Access Living. Hearst: Sterling. 2006. (Popular MechanicsMoney Smart Makeovers). 192p. illus, index. ISBN 978-1-58816-465-0. $19.95.

This valuable remodeling manual is organized into three sections–planning, real-life examples, and

detailed instructions for specific projects. The color photos, specifications, and detailed diagrams are

invaluable. Projects include a list of needed tools and estimate the cost of materials. Out of print, but a

new edition, entitled Practical Improvements for Older Homeowners (ISBN 978-1-58816-776-7. $19.95),

will be out in April 2009.

Riley, Charles A., II. High-Access Home: Design and Decoration for Barrier-Free Living. Rizzoli Universe

Promotional Bks. 2003. 160p. photogs. ISBN 978-0-7893-1025-5. $14.98.

“High-access” can also mean high end as this brief title displays the elegant side of universal design.

Lavish color photographs show how accessibility can be not only functional but also beautiful. Aesthetics

and interior design are the main focus.

CD-ROMS & VIDEOS

ADA Technical Assistance CD-ROM. order online at www.ada.gov or call the ADA Information Line: 800-

514-0301; 800-514-0383TTY. Free.

A complete collection of the Justice Department’s ADA materials, including department regulations,

architectural design standards, and technical publications.

Building & Remodeling for Accessibility. color. 30 min. Hometime Video, www.

hometime.com/store. 1997. VHS $14.95.

The hosts of the longtime PBS home improvement show Hometime highlight how to build a wheelchair-

accessible ramp; remodel a kitchen and bathroom for greater accessibility; and demonstrate other

products designed for accessibility. Unfortunately, not yet available on DVD.

WEB SITES

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

ANSI helps to certify the safety of products and ensure safety standards in the United States. Its

regulations (like ANSI Standard A117.1-2003, which applies to accessible and usable buildings) can play

an important role in L/D construction and remodeling.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA design standards and updated regulations can be found here as well as in a Q&A section and

links to ADA publications.

BJ Industries; bjindustries.com

A site for purchasing mechanisms to elevate kitchen/bathroom/shampoo sinkscooktops, counters, including cabinetry, for residential and care

facility use.

Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (University at Buffalo)

The Idea Center of Buffalo is dedicated to improving environments and products through the

incorporation of UD principles. The web site includes finks to an email newsletter, electronic lists,

various research reports, an interactive exhibit, and Bright Idea Gallery of UD products.

The Center for Universal Design (CUD) 

Founded by Ronald Mace, the “father of UD,” CUD promotes UD and accessible design in housing,

commercial and public facilities, outdoor environments, and products. Its site includes links to the latest

UD news and CUD publications and multimedia products, e.g., Principles of Universal Design; Curbless

Showers: An Installation Guide; and Accessible Home Modifications Slide Show on DVD and Script.

Fair Housing Accessibility First 

An initiative to promote compliance with the 1988 Fair Housing Act’s Accessibility Guidelines for new

multifamily housing units. Site has FAQs, common violations/key legal issues, and extensive related

links. The full guidelines, including updates, can be found at http://hudguidelines.notlong.com.

Fleetwood Homes 

A leading producer of manufactured housing also makes UD units geared to aging in place.

National Association of Home Builders Research Center www.nahbrc.org

This housing research organization’s annual online Directory of Accessible Building Products lists

primarily bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances by national producers; a print copy is available from

the NAHBRC at minimal shipping cost.

Shared Solutions America 

As an AARP consultant, this nonprofit is dedicated to showing how to apply the principals of universal

and accessible design to existing and new housing. Its site includes interactive tours of universal design

homes, UD solutions to meet specific needs, checklists of residential UD features, and assistive products

for aging in place.

Universal Design Alliance

Aiming to create awareness and expand public knowledge of UD, this nonprofit lists UD distance

education programs, promotes the Easy Living Home concept, and provides links to useful articles and

other relevant web sites.

For a complete schedule, go to www.libraryjournal.com. Publishers wishing to submit titles (new and/or

backlist) should contact Wilda Williams four to six months in advance of issue dates listed above (646-

746-6472; Email: WWilliams@reedb snail mail: Library Journal, 360 Park Avenue S., New York, NY

10010).

Lisa Felix, MLIS, is Manager of the Bittersweet Branch of the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library, IN.

She has a personal interest in universal design and handicapped accessibility issues. Her husband, Jim,

has muscular dystrophy

 

 

The digital SLR cameras and image-processing software

Tips and Pointers

Moonset

For those wishing to try this technique, it is very helpful to use some sort of inter-valometer or timing circuit to automate the exposure times and intervals so you can leave the camera and not have to attend to each exposure.

It’s also important to keep pauses between exposures to a minimum (pauses will mean gaps in your star trails). With the Nikon D1x fitted with a 14-millimeter f/2.8 Nikkor lens, we were able to start the next exposure within about 1 to 2 seconds of the previous image–any longer than this and we would see a noticeable gap between exposures, even with such a short-focus lens (see page 130). Most of our experiments were done centered on the equatorial region of the sky; the exposure gaps, however, were minimized when we shot circumpolar star fields.

Digital cameras differ in their ability to take long exposures, but detector noise is an issue with all digital cameras once exposures go beyond a second or two. To overcome this, some cameras have an automatic “noise-reduction” option, which might help, but could be unreliable depending upon the exposure time. For star-trail exposures I suggest disabling any of the camera’s built-in noise-reduction features and taking a dark frame. It’s a good idea to take a dark frame at the start and end of each session since the noise characteristics of a CCD or CMOS chip can change with temperature.

"Celestial Mooring"

Use flash-memory or microdrive cards with the largest capacity that you can afford. Some cameras will allow you to switch cards while an exposure is being taken (but not while it is saving an image, of course) so you can keep a sequence going without missing a frame to change cards.

Experiment with different exposure times, white-balance and ISO settings, lens f/stops, and so forth. Each camera’s silicon detector is different, so plan on doing some preliminary tests first to find the best combination.

When you’re taking images, it’s always best to capture them in a noncompressed format such as TIFF. Make sure that the dark frames used have the same image format.

If you have a portable power supply, use it. Digital cameras require a lot of power when you’re using the bulb (time-exposure) setting, and, as the ambient temperature drops, the camera battery’s performance will also suffer.

Autofocus digital SLRs might have trouble focusing at infinity, so set the focus manually. If you use a manual-focus camera, notice where its infinity setting is located, as it’s often just inside the lens’s focus stop. Do some tests first to find the best focus.

With our setup, we obtained optimal results with 45- to 60-second exposures, but we also obtained good results with exposures up to 2 minutes long. Our 60-second shots recorded stars down to about 7th magnitude.

Image Processing

M45 (#4)

Once you have obtained all your exposures, transfer them to a computer with image-processing software. I use Photoshop 7.0 on a Macintosh G4 running under OS X, but I suspect other programs would work. The following instructions will be for Photoshop users:

  1. Open the first image of your sequence and save it under a new name that you want to use for the final star-trail image.
  2. Open the next image in your sequence. Use the Select > All command and copy this image (Edit > Copy).
  3. Paste the copied image onto the first image–this is the beginning of the “stacking” process. You can now close the image that was copied to avoid confusion since you’re now done with that image.
  4. Open the Layers palette (Window > Show Layers) and select the new layer created in the previous step.
  5. Click on the Blend Mode menu in the Layers palette and select the Lighten mode. You should now see both images merged together as one.
  6. Repeat steps 2 to 5 until you’re done with all images. You will probably want to flatten (under the Layer menu bar) your star-trail images periodically to save on disk space and memory in your computer. When you flatten an image all of your existing layers are merged into one and the file size becomes much smaller.
  7. Once you’ve stacked and flattened all your images into a single one, you need to subtract the dark frame. To do this simply open the dark-frame image, click on Select > All, then copy the dark frame and paste it onto the star-trail image. At this point the image will go dark, so make sure that the new dark-frame layer is selected. Go to the Blend Mode menu again in the Layers palette and select the Difference mode. Now most of the noise on your image should be minimized, and you can flatten the image again and make final adjustments to it. Save the final image and you’re done!

Steps 2 to 6 can be tedious if you have a lot of images to stack. Photoshop has a very nice automation feature that can make processes like these much easier and quicker, so check your manual for detailed instructions on how to use it.

Exposure Gaps

High Sierra Via Lactea

Depending on your camera’s resolution, lens, and sky location, if you look closely you might notice small gaps between your stacked images. The reason for this is that at the end of each exposure, the pixels that are being exposed are not (on average) getting the full duration of exposure. Then, when the next exposure begins, these same pixels are still not getting the full exposure. Since the Lighten blending mode is not additive, when you stack the images the brightest single pixel is selected in the stack and, on average, at each gap it’s only 50 percent as bright as the adjacent area.

Shooting at less than full resolution (by binning, or combining, the pixels) will often cause the gaps to close up. Also, if you shoot the polar regions (or use a very short lens), the problem is not as evident since the overlap is so great.

If you find the gaps unacceptable, there are several Photoshop techniques that you can use to correct them. The technique I’ve found to be most effective is to simply duplicate the completed star-trail image, copy and paste it onto the original with Lighten mode, and shift and/or rotate it slightly to fill in the gaps. However, for viewing on a computer screen and for making small to medium prints, these tiny gaps should not be objectionable or, in most cases, even noticeable.

I’d be interested to hear from readers who might come up with a more clever (and more elegant) solution on how to minimize exposure gaps.

The temple (Wat Khao Dee Salak)

I also discovered in my tests that if you take the images (and the dark frame) without using the camera’s “sharpening” feature, the dark frame subtracts out much cleaner. If you use sharpening you will notice an annoying black ring around bright pixels that goes away when you turn off sharpening. However, if you don’t use internal sharpening in the camera, you might find it necessary to do it with Photoshop (under Filter) once the final image is stacked and flattened.

Our experiments were all done with a fairly high-end Nikon digital SLR camera, but I suspect that most other professional digital SLRs could be made to work as well. Overall, I’ve been impressed with the power of digital photography, achieving results that I had previously thought were possible only with film. While our technique does require fairly good equipment and significantly more effort in the processing stage, the results are nothing short of spectacular, and I look forward to seeing what others can accomplish using this technique.

Capturing star trails with a digital camera

Today’s digital SLR cameras and image-processing software are breathing new life into an old film-based technique.

My first attempt on Astrophotography on a Viking burial ground.

LIKE MANY AMATEUR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHERS who grew up using photographic film, I’ve been a bit reluctant to embrace the virtues of CCD imaging as a complete replacement for film. Sure, thermoelectrically cooled CCD cameras on telescopes play an important role at all levels of astronomy, but I’ve stubbornly (perhaps even a bit irrationally) held to the belief that some images can be obtained only by using good old-fashioned photographic emulsions.

One realm where I thought film would always reign supreme is in capturing star trails (S&T: November 2003, page 132). One might ask why anyone would even consider taking something as simple and straightforward as star trails and adding the cost and complexity of digital photography to the mix. As I have recently discovered, however, it’s definitely worth the effort. The results presented in this article demonstrate the advantages of recording star trails digitally and show how this new realm of possibilities can breathe new life and creativity into your tired old star-trail photos.

Fading Luminance

Although I have to admit that working for Gemini Observatory with telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Cerro Pachon in Chile gives me regular access to nearly perfect skies as backdrops, the technique described here can be adapted to urban sites as well. In fact, the improvements are even more dramatic in situations where light pollution or bright moonlight would prohibit shooting long-exposure star trails with film.

A Serendipitous Discovery

It all began one chilly night in early 2003 at the Gemini North Telescope, where two other astrophotographers and I were enjoying an evening of digital imaging. Our main purpose was to set up our Nikon D1x digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera and to experiment with the possibility of creating a time-lapse movie of stars passing over Gemini’s dome from a sequence of 1-minute stills. Armed with an electronic timer, a portable power supply, cold-weather gear, and lots of hot chocolate, we began shooting images.

As often seems to happen when one experiments with new ideas and equipment, serendipity provided us with an opportunity to learn something new. In this case, the microdrive card that we were using could hold only 1 gigabyte of data. (A microdrive card is a miniature hard-disk drive that fits into the camera’s memory-card slot.) Every hour or so we bundled up and left the comfort of the observatory’s warm control room to stumble around in the darkness to replace the card. With time on our hands between downloading the cards’ contents, we experimented with the images we had obtained.

Nocturnal Illumination ...Explored...

First we opened the individual images with Adobe Photoshop software and created an automated routine to subtract (remove) the electronic noise generated by the camera’s CCD detector using a dark frame. (A dark frame is an image of the same exposure duration and camera settings as the desired image, only with the camera lens covered.) This is done with Photoshop’s Difference blending mode, with the dark frame in one layer and the desired image in another. Each of these processed images was then flattened (combined) and saved and archived as a separate file on a CD.

After verifying that our image sequence would make a nice time-lapse movie, we began experimenting with a “stack” of images in Photoshop to see what other interesting things we could do. Inspiration struck one of our team members, Kevin Jones, when he began playing with the different blending-mode options used to combine the image layers. It turns out that the Lighten mode takes the selected image layer (the foreground) and compares its pixel values (in each color channel) with the underlying layer. If the foreground’s pixel values are the same as (or less than) the underlying layer, it leaves the resulting pixels unchanged. However, if the foreground’s values are higher (brighter), the Lighten mode uses the higher value of the two pixels in the composite. On the surface, this might not sound very profound, but the effect is that the sky brightness never increases beyond that present in the brightest single image. Meanwhile, the star images themselves continue to build up as the stars drift across the camera’s field.

A Thousand Suns Wouldn't Shine as Bright

The more images you add to the stack, the longer the resulting star trails. Since the sky brightness stays at a constant low level, the visual depth and contrast of a digital star-trail shot is more dramatic compared to a traditional long-exposure film photograph. (In the latter, the sky brightness accumulates during the entire exposure, reducing contrast between the stars and the background sky; see page 131.)

Another advantage of the digital technique is that any foreground object that is illuminated will not become overexposed, as it would in a long-duration film exposure. This is especially important when you are attempting star trails with well lit foregrounds or under bright moonlight. Light pollution is also suppressed, allowing for dramatic star trails in relatively well lit areas that would otherwise quickly saturate film.