Cleaning with Condiments

You’ve heard of cleaning with baking soda, cleaning with lemon, even cleaning with toothpaste, but cleaning with condiments? That’s right. Read on!

Ketchup for Copper
Apply the ketchup to a rag and rub onto tarnished copper or brass cookware. Let sit for a minute and then buff clean and rinse. The acidity of the ketchup will help lift and remove tarnish and return pots to their shiny state.

Don’t Hold the Mayo
Sure, the thought of slathering your household wears with mayonnaise may be less-than-appealing, but some people swear by it. Did your tot get a little carried away while coloring? Remove crayon marks from wood furniture by rubbing a dab of mayo on the mark. Let it sit for five minutes and wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Dress Your Home
Oil and vinegar aren’t just for your salad. Mix oil and lemon juice two parts to one and use the solution to give furniture and extra polish. Vinegar can do everything from cleaning your dishwasher to helping to remove wallpaper. Clean the microwave by combining 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup distilled vinegar in a microwave-safe mug or bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and wipe clean. The vinegar helps to lift baked on food and stains.

Digital TRON House to be built

During Milan Design Week next month (April 11-17, 2011), Disney will partner with Corian to recreate the glassy, futuristic set from Disney’s Tron Legacy that captured better reviews from design writers—who were naturally enchanted with production team’s use of midcentury furniture—than the movie itself did from critics. Check out renderings here.

Creative fantastic shoe designs by Kobi Levi


Specializing in footwear design and craftmanship, check out some of the imaginative, creative, and colorful shoe (high heel) designs from Kobi Levi. Kobi looks at his footwear creations as wearable sculpture and approaches each shoe design with a humoristic and unique point of view. He has designed designed industrial footwear in Italy, China, and Brazil, as well as presented design in various exhibitions worldwide, including Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Tokyo, Verona, St.Etienne, and Berlin. He creates all pieces by hand in his studio.

More of his designs can be found here.

Being Out of Work Is Hard, Getting Back to Work Can Be Harder

After two years of unemployment, Rob Smith was sad and scared to return to work. You may be too. Although it’s surprising to hear, psychologists and career experts say Smith is more the norm than the exception.

By Debra Donston-Miller

After nearly two years of unemployment, Rob Smith finally got a job offer. It was with a mixture of joy, relief, sadness and fear that he accepted it.

One recent Sunday night he went to Facebook and updated his status. He wanted to inform friends and family who had followed his two years of unemployment that his ordeal was ending. He also shared some raw emotions.

“Anxious and excited about returning to a full-time job tomorrow for the first time in 23 months … YIKES!!!”

Excitement, joy and relief will be understandable to most of us. But anxiety, sadness and fear?

Yes, Smith, a Boston-area architect, was sad and scared — sad to leave a routine and some projects that had been his life for two years and scared that his technical skills had failed to keep up with advances in the industry.

Surprising as it sounds, Smith’s combination of feelings is not uncommon, say career experts and mental health professionals. After a long period of involuntary unemployment, a person may be fearful that his skills have deteriorated to the point that he will not be able to function in a new position. He may worry so much about losing another job that he self-sabotages. Or he may grieve for a lifestyle he had developed while staying at home with family.

“From an emotional standpoint, your pace has been in the slow lane for a very long time,” said Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist Debra Brown. “If you’re in a job where you’re suddenly put back in the fast lane, you are now challenged to get up to that pace as quickly as you can.”

Settling In
Two years ago, Smith was working at a small, design-oriented firm. He had been at the job for about a year when the impact of the recession forced the company to let him go.

After giving up hope that he would be rehired, Smith started his search for a new job in earnest a few months later. He sent out resumes and leveraged a variety of job sites and other resources. But his outlook darkened after attending a job fair for architects. “The first year I went to a career fair that was overwhelmed with unemployed architects,” he said. “They totally underestimated the number of people who were going to attend. There were lines outside the door, and I left very discouraged. I think at some point I kind of resigned myself to not finding a job. I felt a little hopeless.”

Smith settled into his unemployment and decided he needed to do something that would make him feel positive. “I wanted to do some things that were related to architecture and my home, so I started getting into the home renovation stuff. I really got enjoyment out of it.”

“Unemployment has its dark side,” said Laurence J. Stybel, co-founder of Stybel, Peabody & Associates Inc. and executive in residence at the Sawyer School of Business at Suffolk University in Boston. “But the positive sides of unemployment are the good habits you can develop — getting up when you feel like it, speaking with as few or as many people as you wish, being in control of your schedule, etc.”

As his unemployment stretched on, Smith continued to submit resumes, but he became less and less motivated to do so as the economic and jobless news grew from bad to worse. And then it got better.

New job postings, and the end of unemployment benefits in sight, lit a fire under Smith. But instead of just starting off his routine where he had left off, he ramped up his job search a notch — or three. “During that last leg of unemployment, I was feeling like, ugh, I have to send out these resumes,” he said. “But then once I got into looking at firms, I’d actually get very interested in it and spend six hours looking at things and writing very focused cover letters. It made me feel better about myself professionally. And that eventually led to three or four interviews, and eventually to the job I have now.”

Stay Current
While he was excited and relieved about the offer, Smith began to feel anxious.

For one thing, he said, in the last two years, architectural firms have started using a building information management system called REVIT. Smith hadn’t used the program in his last job, and he was worried that his technical skills were lacking.

“I think I did have a lot of anxieties about things like remembering code, the terminology, things like that,” he said. “But it does come right back to you. I might have to do a little more research here and there or look at something a little further to get to the next level. I was very anxious about it before, and I feel good that I didn’t lose as much of my mental faculties as I thought when it comes to architecture.”

Psychologist Brown and other experts say that reading industry trade publications and taking classes during a prolonged period of unemployment will help job seekers stay current in their technical skills and the practices of their profession. This will help mitigate gaps in employees’ work histories, letting potential employers see that they have made the effort to stay abreast, and will lead to an easier re-entry into the workforce once an offer is made. Volunteering, in your industry or within your area of expertise in another industry, is another way to ease the transition back into full-time employment.

While out of work, Smith, for example, obtained accreditation in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), an architecture certification growing in demand as home builders seek “green-building” designs. He also volunteered at the information desk at the Build Boston conference. Smith said the former added “a valued credential to my resume” and the latter the bonus of membership in the Boston Society of Architects and a first year as an associate member of the American Institute of Architects. Smith said he wouldn’t have been able to afford the memberships on his own.

Diving In
Workforce transition requires care and planning much like the actual job search process, said Tony Deblauwe, founder of HR4Change, an information and services resource for individual and business productivity. “If you’ve been out of work for a long period of time, there are a few ways to ease back into the workforce effectively,” he said. “First, don’t try to do everything. Like most new jobs, there is a breaking-in period for both you and the company — usually 90 days.”

That’s not to say that you should go into your new position with anything but your best foot forward, just that you should take it one step at a time.

“You want to develop a steady pace of solid starting performance, networking and understanding the new business,” said Deblauwe. “The urge may be to dive right in and do everything at once because you are so happy to be working again, but it could backfire because you may miss something that hurts your future success.”

It might also help to remember that work is “partially a building up of learned habits that are effortlessly unlearned once you retire or are unemployed…” said Stybel of Stybel, Peabody & Associates. “When the behaviors once again become habits, you won’t think about it anymore. You will just do it.”

Once Burned, Always Shy
While there are many things people can do to ease more gracefully back into a “9-to-5” existence, nothing can take away the pain that goes along with the punch in the stomach of unexpected unemployment. There is often that fear that “it” will happen again.

In fact, people who return to the workforce after a long stretch of unemployment also often feel what Brown called “anticipatory anxiety.” Once you’ve had [an involuntary job loss] happen to you, you have this anticipatory anxiety that it might happen again, and that might take some time to shake.” If left unchecked, this anxiety could lead to self-sabotage, she said.

Awareness can go a long way toward avoiding this type of behavior, say experts, as will acknowledgement of the difficulty that goes along with such a drastic change — no matter how welcome. “When you’ve been out of work that long,” said Brown, “it’s going to be hard to get back in.”

Debra Donston-Miller covers work-life issues and difficult job-search situations for TheLadders.
Career Advice from TheLadders

XKCD Radiation Dose Chart

Internationally recognized symbol.

Image via Wikipedia

With the nuclear reactor incident in Fukashima, Japan making headlines world-wide, do you know exactly how much radiation is bad?

Randall Munroe of XKCD created what is probably the most informative chart about the different doses of radiation you get from various activities of life, from sleeping next to someone to flying over the USA to getting a chest X-ray and more.

Check out the chart here.

How Nuclear Power Plants Work

Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing wrote an excellent piece on how nuclear power plants work. With the devestation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the Japan nuclear power plan situation, this is a great read to get up to speed on the basics of a nuclear power plant.

For the vast majority of people, nuclear power is a black box technology. Radioactive stuff goes in. Electricity (and nuclear waste) comes out. Somewhere in there, we’re aware that explosions and meltdowns can happen. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that set of information is enough to get by on. But, then, an emergency like this happens and, suddenly, keeping up-to-date on the news feels like you’ve walked in on the middle of a movie. Nobody pauses to catch you up on all the stuff you missed.

As I write this, it’s still not clear how bad, or how big, the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant will be. I don’t know enough to speculate on that. I’m not sure anyone does. But I can give you a clearer picture of what’s inside the black box. That way, whatever happens at Fukushima, you’ll understand why it’s happening, and what it means.


Saturn fly-by video

Created from thousands of high-resolution photographs taken by the Cassini orbiter, there is no 3D CGI involved in this video. There’s a black and white version first, followed by a full-frame, full-color video beginning around the 1:00 mark.

For more, check out

Permanent anti-fog coating discovered

Researchers from Quebec City‘s Université Laval have developed what they claim is the world’s first permanent anti-fog coating. Just one application is said to work indefinitely on eyeglasses, windshields, camera lenses, or any other transparent glass or plastic surface. So very soon you may not need to worry about your glasses, prescription or otherwise, fogging up.

Take a Better Picture – 8 Tips

What guarantees a great photo these days? We asked style and photography mavens to share their tips for taking a picture that will get results. Below are eight of their suggestions.

1. Do your do. “Get your hair cut at least a few days before the shoot if you need it to ‘settle in’ before it looks its best,” suggests Jay Groccia, principal photographer at OnSite Studios in Boylston, MA.

2. Be bold. Gretta Monahan, style expert on Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style and the Rachael Ray Show, says wearing bright colors is key. “It makes your complexion look healthier and gives you a more youthful, spirited glow. With a bright color, you’ll certainly pop on the page.” Avoid wearing all white; it makes you look pale and pasty.

3. Mind your makeup. “A tiny hint of bronzer always helps to warm up the face,” says celebrity makeup artist Mally Roncal, whose clients include Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez. “Use eyeliner on your top lid, and define your eyebrows. Avoid wearing lipstick that’s too dark — you can’t go wrong with a pink lip gloss, which makes lips look fuller and healthier.” Browse Local Singles at on Yahoo!

4. Strike a pose. “Looking directly into the camera makes for a very boring looking photo and makes the nose appear very large,” asserts Chris Paxman, a photographer based in Mesa, AZ. “Try pointing your chin ever so slightly to the left or right, and look back to the camera with your eyes only.”

5. Watch your back(ground). “Too much going on in the background increases the chances of getting lost in the portrait or looking like you have strange lines emerging from your body,” cautions Tarah Cranford, a photographer in San Francisco. Stand in front of a wall that contrasts well with what you’re wearing, or hang a solid-colored towel or sheet behind you. Or find backgrounds with interesting but subtle textures like garage doors, columns or wallpapered walls.

6. Get comfortable. “You want your photo to convey that you are warm and inviting,” says Nicole Braun, owner and chief photographer of Wink in New York City. “So have a light and happy conversation and your body language will fall right in line. Another way to relax is by watching a TV show or movie that you know makes you laugh and smile. Listening to a song that puts you in a positive and happy place is great, too.”

7. See the light. Cold or harsh lighting is seriously unflattering. Natural light is the best, according to Richard Brown, a photographer in Seattle. “Try to use a good window light. If you take the head shots outside, avoid pure sunlight on your face. Use anything from a white sheet to a white wall to reflect and add fill light to your face.”

8. Forget the flash. “Never use flash, especially when shooting yourself in the mirror,” says Roman Gabriel, who’s photographed the Dandy Warhols and James Brown, among others. “Full-frontal, nondiffused flash is the most unflattering image you can take of yourself. It creates red-eye, overexposes skin tones and highlights flaws. If you must use the flash, try placing a small piece of tracing paper just over the front of the flash to soften up the light, giving the photo a pleasing, slightly airbrushed appeal.”

Finally, have plenty of photos taken of you in different locations, clothes and poses, and in varying light. “Let’s cancel out the myth that some people always take a good picture while others don’t,” Monahan says. “Even celebrities and models take hundreds of pictures during a shoot. If you don’t like the first few shots, don’t settle. Keep going until you feel comfortable and relaxed. That will be the best photo of the bunch.”

By Margot Carmichael Lester
Margot Carmichael Lester’s photography has appeared in TravelAge West, the Carrboro Citizen and DialTone.