Posts Tagged ‘vanquished’

Market Ready

Čtvrtek, Červen 28th, 2012

Our two children share a bedroom, and it looks cramped. What can we do to make the room appear larger?

It’s important to make your space feel as generous as possible before opening your home to potential buyers — particularly if your sleeping quarters, or those of your children, appear cramped and uncomfortable.

“When you’re selling your apartment, you’re selling someone else’s vision to them,” said Fanny Montalvo, a managing director at A. C. Lawrence & Company real estate in New York. If a room is already stuffed full of furniture and other belongings, “it doesn’t allow them the opportunity to imagine what they could do to it.”

And when you’re considering the design of a child’s room, remember that some buyers may have other intentions for the space. “You’re looking to attract every buyer, not just someone who has children,” Ms. Montalvo said. “When a couple or single person is looking to buy the space, they’re looking at that room as a den or guest room.”

One solution, she suggested, is installing a pair of Murphy beds: “When the beds are folded up, it really is a den.”

Murphy bed units also offer the opportunity to add built-in wardrobes, drawers and shelving, she noted, which would create more storage space for toys and clothing.

A set of bunk beds is another excellent option, said Cortney Novogratz, a New York designer with seven children who is a host of the HGTV show “Home by Novogratz” with her husband, Robert. “You can put it against a wall, and have two kids sleep there,” she said. “What kid doesn’t like bunk beds? They’re a great way to go.”

Most bunk beds will fit in rooms with ceiling heights as low as eight feet, she said (but maybe “put the younger child on top,” she added).

A work surface is also a good idea. “Kids always need an area to create, but it doesn’t have to be very big and it doesn’t have to be very deep,” she said. She recommended the Besta Burs desk from Ikea, which is less than 16 inches deep, but long enough to provide space for two children.

Pair the desk with stools, she said, “because they can easily be tucked underneath, which creates more floor space.” Similarly, she suggested removing any floor lamps from the room and using only desk lamps and ceiling-mounted light fixtures: “Any time you can create more room on the floor, it gives the kids not only space to wrestle and hang out, but also makes the room seem bigger.”

Using these strategies, she said, she and her husband were able to create a comfortable space for a client’s triplets in a small bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen.

But the most effective intervention, she noted, is probably the least expensive: clear out clutter.

“With children, we go to birthday parties and come back with all these goodie bags, and before you know it, you have so much stuff,” she said. “Donate toys and clothes, and give things away. Even if you just spend an afternoon making bags, you’ll be surprised how much stuff your kids have accumulated.”

Startup Says Toshiba Will Help Propel New Lighting Approach

Pátek, Květen 11th, 2012

Many companies are trying to transform lighting using technology from the world of semiconductors. Bridgelux, a startup with an unusual approach to that quest, on Thursday is disclosing it is getting help from a big player in chips–Toshiba.

The big Japanese company has not only taken an equity stake in Bridgelux but has also allocated manufacturing capacity to make the startup’s products.

Bridgelux, of Livermore, Calif., is among many that see devices called light emitting diodes, or LEDs, as a much more energy-efficient way to illuminate homes and commercial buildings. The difference comes from choices in key materials used in making LEDs.

Most companies fabricate LED chips by laying down a material called gallium nitride on wafers of sapphire or silicon carbide. Another startup, called Soraa, announced a departure from conventional strategy by also using gallium nitride as the foundation, or substrate, for its LEDs.

Bridgelux, by contrast, has opted to fabricate LEDs on the same sort of inexpensive silicon wafers used to make conventional chips. Though some experts have questioned the feasibility of the approach, Bridgelux has argued that the cost improvements possible are worth the risk.

The evidence that the bet will pay off will become apparent as a result of the Toshiba alliance, predicts Bill Watkins, Bridgelux’s chief executive.
Toshiba, of course, is the second-largest maker of flash memory chips and has a long history of high-volume manufacturing. Its facilities and expertise should help the quest to drive down LED costs, Bridgelux believes.

There are no official details about product pricing yet. But Steve Lester, Bridgelux’s chief technology officer, estimates that an LED bulb that now costs $30 at retail can be driven down to the range of $5–the kind of price level that is likely to make LEDs seem affordable to many more people who now buy incandescent of fluorescent bulbs.

Watkins won’t provide any numbers about Toshiba’s bet on the effort, but he is not shy about suggesting it is substantial.

“This is the biggest R&D investment in LEDs ever,” he said. “This is going to change the game.”

ProBike aims to be a ‘next level’ bike shop

Úterý, Listopad 29th, 2011

Tucson’s newest bike shop, ProBike Tucson, has opened its doors and though it isn’t completely finished, its owners say their shop is taking it to the “next level.”

ProBike Tucson partner, Chris Gould said it’s all about the presentation. “Think Apple store or jewelry store,” he said.

The shop, which was opened by Gould and partner Karl Schindler features bikes spotlighted in their own display cases with high quality lights.

Gould, who worked as a bicycle sales representative for several manufacturers, said he traveled to hundreds of stores and wanted to recreate some of the best shops he’d seen.

“The physical appearance of our store is quite different,” Gould said. “As a consumer we are hoping your shopping experience is going to be a little bit better. A lot of bike shops tend to be cluttered with stuff so the the presentation component is lacking.”

ProBike Tucson, which is located at 6540 E. Tanque Verde Rd. in a building which used to house a dry cleaners, is just a mile down the road from Miles Ahead Cyclery and Sabino Cycles.

Gould said they didn’t plan on opening the shop in that location, but two other locations fell through. They had even signed a lease at one location before the building went into foreclosure.

Despite the proximity to the other locations — one of which is owned by Gould’s brother — he said it could help the consumer.

“The auto mall is the example that comes to mind,” Gould said.

Because there are three shops, all which have different brands and equipment, Gould said people could go to each of the shops easily and buy whatever product they like the best.

ProBike Tucson is focusing on road, mountain, tri and urban commuter bikes and their bikes will start at about $1,000 and go up.

“We are not going to be at the bottom, bottom,” Gould said. “We want to be able to offer product to entry level enthusiasts who want to spend a little more than a very basic bike.”

They will only sell 29er mountain bikes.

Gould said they hope to be a place where cyclists can hang out.

“We want to try to be more of a destination where you can come by and not necessarily feel like you need to buy something,” he said. “We are going to have an espresso bar and an outdoor patio where if you just feel like stopping by and hanging out, that is totally fine.”

Tim Carolan, who used to work at Arizona Cyclist has come on board to help run the shop and has a fitting space inside the location.

Pro Bike Tucson will sell BMC, Scott, Focus, Ridley and Pinarello bikes.

Gould said they are still putting the finishing touches on the shop, but are open for business. Check them out online on their Facebook page.

A Family of Italian Twins That Took a Different Approach

Pondělí, Říjen 31st, 2011

The pride is felt in Italy, of course, not America, and the company, which sold its first bikes in 1921, does not date back nearly as far as Harley-Davidson. But like Harley, it has a rich history, and its current array of models seems to promise a competitive future for this niche brand.

A winner on the racetrack from its earliest days, with a string of world championships and memorable machines, including outrageously complex V-8 grand prix bikes in the 1950s, Moto Guzzi has, like Ducati, MV Agusta and other Italian brands, a devoted following. More than 20,000 fans arrived in the brand’s hometown, Mandello del Lario, for its 90th anniversary celebration last month.

And like other Italian makes, it has changed hands a number of times, rarely a precursor of product integrity. Moto Guzzi’s fortunes in the United States have had highs and lows, the company struggling at times as its bikes were overshadowed by the features and technology of Japan’s makers. Worldwide, the company is projected to sell fewer than 6,000 motorcycles in 2011.

But nine decades after its founding, Moto Guzzi is part of Piaggio, the conglomerate that also makes Vespa scooters and Aprilia motorcycles. Though Guzzi is small, the Piaggio parentage has given it the ability to develop a diverse line of bikes in the touring, naked and custom cruiser categories — and even a lithe sports entry.

What ties the models together is a common architecture of 90-degree V-twin engines with a literal twist: the cylinders jut left and right, with the crankshaft in line with the bike’s frame rather than across it. This makes it logical and simple to engineer a shaft-drive system, a brand hallmark that Guzzi’s current models use.

This engine layout solves other problems, too, making cooling somewhat simpler (a Harley-type V-twin, with cylinders placed fore and aft, typically runs hotter on the rear cylinder). But it also brings challenges, including a characteristic torque reaction, felt when the engine is revved, that wants to rotate the bike to the right. A rider soon acclimates, but a new owner would find it disconcerting.

The latest of Moto Guzzi’s big twins use a four-valve-per-cylinder design that the company has been spreading to a wider selection of models. For instance, the Norge GT 8V, a large-scale touring machine with a deep sporting streak, now carries the Quattrovalvole engine in 102-horsepower form.

The Norge feels lighter than its 567 pounds, agile in traffic and easy to manage in stop-and-go situations. The thrill of riding it is in shooting through the gears with the engine pegged around 5,000 r.p.m. (At a stoplight, though, figuring out which gear the transmission is in can be tricky; finding neutral is easy, but the indicator light doesn’t always come on.)

The seat is very comfortable, meaning you could easily cruise for hours. It feels quite capable, though it doesn’t have the set-it-and-forget-it feel of stately ocean liners like the Honda Gold Wing or BMW’s touring flagships.

Bashing the European Union in the United States

Úterý, Září 27th, 2011

Since the recession, bashing the European Union has become a sport for U.S. commentators. Just skim the most recent headlines, and one is led to believe that the old continent is on the brink of economic, political and social collapse. The truth is that very few commentators really seem to grasp the revolutionary character of the European Union — revolutionary because it successfully spreads the premises of the American Revolution, which Abraham Lincoln summarized in the Gettysburg address as “government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” The European Union’s promotion of a free market economy and democracy is one of the most underreported success stories in the U.S. media.

Enlargement of the European Union is perhaps the only time in history that sovereign nations have voluntarily submitted to conditions that usually only the vanquished, after a long, drawn-out conflict, would accept — adaptation of alien legislation ranging from new penal codes to energy intensive light bulbs, the relinquishing of key economic competencies, such as trade and monetary policy, and a common currency and tariff reductions.

The well-known Copenhagen criteria, the rules that define whether a country is eligible to join the European Union set forth by the European Council in June 1993, are criteria the U.S. founding fathers would have delighted in: stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities; rule of law; the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces, i.e. the establishment of a free market economy; and a very strict adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.

Certainly, there have been various setbacks. For example, French President Charles de Gaulle used France’s veto and rejected British membership to the European Economic Community (as it was called in 1971) fearing the influence of the United States.

The French also opposed the membership of Greece, Spain and Portugal, countries that just emerged from dictatorships in the 1970s, because of the fear that they were not ready for democracy and the free market but eventually gave in, with the former acceding in 1981, the latter two in 1986. Today, Austria vehemently opposes Turkish membership. Romania and Bulgaria, countries that joined in 2007, still have a long way to go in protecting minorities and upholding the rule of law.