Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Antidepressants Found in Fish

     A recent study has indicated that fish swimming in the Great Lakes have tested positive for anti-depressants! No wonder they’re called the Great Lakes! So, what causes depression in fish? Do they all know that eventually we’re going to eat them, after preparing them in our very own kitchens (or perhaps in a restaurant)? Bleak future. But, “Bless Us and Splash Us!1”. I say, rather than have them mope around all day let them feel good about themselves while they swim about. Furthermore, think of the savings of eating the doped up fish. You won’t have to shell out your co-pay for your own supply, you can get it for free along with a nice dose of Omega-3.
Which brings us to preparing those scaly things. Although I have been freely giving advice for the past twenty-five years and have designed many award winning kitchens, honestly, I’m not much in the cooking department. To be politically correct, my wife refers to me as domestically challenged. However, even if I am found lacking in the use of a kitchen for it’s primary function, I do know how to design them so that others can. We can thank Pratt Institute and the NKBA for that.
I can think of nothing that would make these poor fish happier than to be prepared in a newly renovated kitchen. Fortunately, there are many qualified kitchen designers in the area who can create a functional, as well as aesthetically pleasing kitchen for both people and fish. Designs which now not only include a cooking area, but an eating area, a meeting area, and a homework area as well.
Most successful kitchen designers charge for their initial work, however their charges and pricing structures vary greatly. I know of companies that charge anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more, for this service. Usually, this sum can be applied towards the purchase of cabinets and I wouldn’t recommend contracting with a firm that did not adhere to that policy. After all, a good design takes a great deal of time, effort and creativity, so why should they give this away for free? Remember you get what you pay for.
An argument could be made that if you don’t like the design and/or estimate you’ve wasted your money. I don’t entirely disagree with this, and that’s why I recommend finding a firm with a minimum initial design fee. This smaller expense certainly does not compensate the designer for all the time he must spend creating your dream kitchen, but it shows a commitment on your part, indicating that you are serious about the project.
Some firms have a staged design fee, which includes a low initial design charge. If after reviewing the design, you wish to pursue the project, they have a secondary fee (sometimes called a retainer) for additional work on the design or releasing the drawings to you. This seems to be an equitable compromise. The designer charges a minimal fee, confident that they will create an exciting design, within the budget that you specify. You get a chance to review the design and see how much the renovation will cost, before laying out a lot of money.
I say let’s leave the Great Lakes as they are. And, although fishing may be fun for some, since I don’t like to touch either fish (or worms) I suggest you buy these medicated wonders at the sea food store. Just be sure to eat a few before the construction begins and everything will seem a lot less stressful.
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1 Gollum (Smeagol), in Tolkien, J.R.R. “The Lord of the Rings”. Allen & Unwin, London 1966.

Paul Bookbinder, m.i.d., c.r., is president of DreamWork Kitchens, Inc. located in Mamaroneck, New York. A Master of Design (Pratt Institute), and E.P.A. Certified Remodeler, he serves on the Advisory Panel of Remodeling Magazine. A member of the National Kitchen & Bath Assoc., he is also a contributor to eZine and Do It Yourself magazine. He can be reached for questions at 914-777-0437 or www.dreamworkkitchens.com.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Are Kitchens Obsolete?

Here we find ourselves in the 21st century and cars are driving by themselves, refrigerators are ordering food automatically on the interweb, and most shocking of all, Millennials have become the largest buyers of new homes! You could have fooled me. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZthGh758pYY ).
And, as we move inexorably into the future, technology is progressing faster than ever before in the history of mankind. A perfect example of this is Virtual Reality. It has made tremendous advances in just how real the virtual word that is created tricks us into thinking it is the actual world. (Read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, written all the way back in 1992, for a glimpse of the future). My nephew works for Microsoft in the virtual reality department and he let me try out the latest hardware/software. In one program I felt I was at the top of Mount Everest and another at the bottom of the ocean, picking up clams. I really thought I was there!
So how does this directly impact our future, or more specifically, mine? The days of the modern kitchen are drawing to a close. Ever since Eve, with Adams help, messed up in the garden, they had to start preparing food for their family by themselves. Hence the need for a functioning kitchen. But picture Adam or Eve putting on their VR (Virtual Reality) headsets and dialing into any restaurant they had a yearning for. Open the virtual menu, tell the avatar (fake [virtual] person) waiter what they would like, and pay with a Bitcoin!
A few minutes later a driverless car would pull up to their home with their virtual dinner (probably just some mush) and a robot would ring the doorbell. They would certainly think it was by far the best meal they ever had. Virtual Reality 1; Kitchen 0.
Fortunately, it's not as bleak as it sounds. Although we're all aging in place as you read this, we're not quite there yet (even though I am using Word 2003 on a Virtual Windows XP program, residing somewhere inside my Windows 10 computer). Fortunately we still need kitchens and we'll always need bathrooms (I think). Our best bet is to try to slowly adapt to the new technology. Talk to Siri and Alexa which are good ways to begin and you'll still be able to sit in your kitchen to eat, do homework, have coffee and read the newspaper (while they still exist).
I figure kitchens as we know them will be around for at least another twenty or thirty years, so if you are thinking about remodeling don't wait until they are obsolete. Remodel now so you can enjoy it for many years to come. And, if you want to get a jump on things, fall is the best time to start planing and getting projects moving.
Hurricanes, nuclear threats and global warming may come and go, but for now nothing makes you feel better than a new or remodeled kitchen or bathroom. Even if you have to pay the deposit in Bitcoins!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

And the Walls Come Tumbling Down


     While your name might not be Joshua, and you may not be living in Jericho, when major construction starts on a kitchen or bathroom renovation, you may feel that you are in the middle of a battle zone. The dust, the noise, the destruction, and the construction are all inherent in such a process, and even if you know what to expect, it can be nerve racking.
      Although nothing takes forever, once this process begins, it does seem like it will take at least that long. And, even though no one can predict exactly how long a project will take, there are some basic guidelines as to what you should expect when doing a major renovation, and what you can do prior to, and during that time, to minimize your anxiety. 
      The first step is to pack everything in your existing kitchen into boxes. If you label the boxes you’ll be able to find things as you need them, and it will be easier to restock the new kitchen when the job is done. At this point, feel free to discard anything that you haven’t used in the past five years. 
      If you can go to the Caribbean while the job is in progress, make arrangements now. Otherwise, you’ll need to create a temporary food preparation area. Find a suitable space, (usually the dining room), not too far from a sink, if possible. Have the refrigerator, coffee maker and toaster moved to this location. If the refrigerator won’t fit in the same room, move it as close as possible. If you don’t already have a microwave oven, this is the time to buy one because it will be indispensable for preparing foods and hot beverages. Purchase disposable plates, glasses and plastic utensils.
      Before any of the workmen pick up a hammer, make sure that the work area has been isolated in plastic sheeting and that heavy drop cloths are put on the floor. It’s best if there is a separate entry into the work area from the outside, but if this isn’t possible there are special “plastic doorways” that can be installed to minimize the infusion of dust into the rest of the house. (Even with the plastic, some dust is inevitable).
      It’s a good idea to set up a prearranged meeting schedule with your General Contractor (GC), prior to the start of the renovation. For example, every Monday morning at whatever time is convenient. And never hesitate to vocalize any concerns that you may have, at any time.
      The big day arrives when the demolition begins. This is what you’ve been waiting for. Dirt, noise, vibration, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, etc., etc. Second thoughts begin to creep into your head, but it’s too late . . . your committed. Now is the time to be strong, don’t let desperation set in, because pretty soon your dream kitchen will be completed. The workmen will be gone and you’ll be left with everything that you had hoped for.
      During the procedure you shouldn’t go into the kitchen while the men are working because it’s not safe; a wall could fall on your head. But, it’s never a bad idea to peak once in awhile, after they’ve gone for the day. The old adage, never show a homeowner a half finished job has some validity, because it’s the finishing touches and moldings, which go on last, that create the ultimate effect. But you may discover something that is being done that was not what you contracted for. 
      After the kitchen is done its time to make up a list of anything that you feel needs attention. Review it with your GC. Minor touch-ups can usually be done right away but if something has to be ordered from a manufacturer remember it can take several weeks.
       Although your project may have seemed like it has taken forever, if you consider that you will enjoy the efforts of your suffering for the next 20-30 years, its not really so bad.