Category Archives: construction

DIY Concrete Outdoor Coffee Table

Sourced from:

What happens when you fall in love with the perfect outdoor coffee table, only to discover it’s sold out? You make your own! Here are the details on my DIY concrete outdoor cofee table.

back porch with DIY outdoor sofa, a DIY coffee table, and two lounge chairs

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I cannot believe how far our backyard has come in the last few months, y’all. I was honestly pretty nervous when you decided that I should tackle our back porch this summer because it felt like such a daunting task, but I am so (so!) glad we did. This space has become one of my very favorite places to be, and I can’t wait to wrap the last few projects up and call this space finished!

If you haven’t been following along with this summer makeover, here’s everything you may have missed:

Today I’m sharing the (gorgeous) DIY outdoor coffee table we built, and then there’s just one more big project to share before the official reveal (NEXT WEEK, Y’ALL!).

This coffee table has been on my mind since the very beginning of this entire renovation. It started when I was shopping for furniture for the porch and I found the Palmera Faux Concrete Coffee Table from World Market (no longer available, but see the other stuff in the line here). It was everything I wanted for this space, and y’all agreed when I put it to a vote over on Instagram.

Of course, it wasn’t until after this coffee table won the vote by a landslide that I discovered that it was out of stock. And, once I contacted World Market I was told they weren’t sure when (or if) it would be brought back.


close up of DIY feather finish outdoor coffee table
concrete coffee table with text overlay - "diy outdoor concrete coffee table"

Thankfully, the design is pretty simple and I felt confident that Corey and I could re-create the same basic look – and probably for a lot less money! This project was incredibly cheap, since we were able to use some scraps from our outdoor sofa for the legs. Even if you need to purchase the wood, the materials for this entire build should set you back no more than $100 or so – and you know I love saving money!

Ready to learn how to make your own?! Let’s do it!

DIY Concrete outdoor cofee table

tools + Materials Needed:

STep One: Build the Legs

For the legs, we used pretty much the exact same process that we used on our outdoor sofa. We loved the invisible joints created by Rockler’s Beadlock Pro and it was the perfect tool to use again for this project. However, you could also use pocket holes or even just extra long screws (like these) if you don’t mind the visible hardware.

Each leg is made up of two 14″ pieces with one 13″ piece in the middle. We put them together using the loose tenon joints but, again, if you aren’t comfortable with those joints or don’t have the jig, I’d recommend just using extra long lag screws and wood glue.

Just like with the couch, I recommend sanding the wood for the legs (starting with 80-grit and working up to 320-grit) before assembling them!

man assembling legs for an outdoor coffee table

Step TWo: Assemble the top Frame

Once the legs are built and dried, you’re ready to assemble the top of the table. We wanted a concrete look without the weight of an actual concrete slab, so we built a wood top and covered it with Henry Feather Finish. I’ve seen people use this stuff on countertops dozens of times over the years, and I’ve always wanted to try it so this was the perfect opportunity!

To build the top, we started by making a 29″X44″ rectangle frame using 2X4s. We ended up deciding it was too thick, and we cut down the excess, so I’d actually recommend just starting with 2X2s to make your life easier! We used wood glue and screws to assemble this part of the table.

man assembling a table top

Once the outside is built, you’ll add your supports for the legs. We just cut two 2×4’s to fit inside the rectangle, then placed them 5″ in from either side – they’re attached with wood glue and screws, just like the rest of the top!

Then, we set everything up really quickly to see how we liked it – and, of course, this is when we noticed that the top was much too thick! Corey just ran it through the table saw to cut it down, but I’d recommend starting with 2X2’s for the outside pieces – that’s about what we cut it down to.

frame for diy outdoor coffee table

To attach the legs to the top, simply apply wood glue to the tops of the legs and then drill the top into the legs from the top of the supports.

Step three: attach plywood to top

Next, we wrapped the entire frame with some 1/4″ plywood. You should have five pieces, cut to the specific measurements listed above (though, I recommend that you double-check the measurements on your specific table before cutting, just in case you made any small mistake along the way that would cause it to be a slightly different size!).

Attach the large piece of plywood to the top using wood glue and nails (we use this power nailer), and then attach the side pieces on the sides of the frame with the same method. After you’ve attached all of the plywood, you should use some wood filler to fill in any gaps, cracks, or nail holes!

It should look something like this when you’re all done!

base of DIY outdoor concrete cofeee table

Step Three: finish the legs

Now the bones of the table are finished and it’s time to make it look pretty! I chose to stain the legs using Varathane’s Dark Walnut stain, but you could also paint them if you prefer. My original plan was to actually paint them black, but I didn’t have any exterior paint on hand so I decided to use something I did have instead.

Once you’ve stained the legs, be sure to apply spar urethane to protect them from the elements outside. It typically requires several coats with sanding in-between, so don’t rush this step!

Step Four: Apply Feather Finish to top

Now you’re ready for the fun (and slightly terrifying) part: applying the feather finish to the top!

The most common brand of feather finish I’ve seen used for this kind of project is Ardex Feather Finish, but I didn’t wait to wait for it to be shipped so I just grabbed the Henry brand Feather Finish in store. I think they’re pretty comparable, so either should be fine.

To apply your feather finish to the table top, start by mixing it up (mine had a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part powder) in small batches. I just mixed mine in one of these little pails (with a liner) and I found that it was just the right size. If I tried to get too much going at once, it started to harden towards the end of the batch – and this stuff is much easier to work with when it’s on the looser side! Think of the texture you’re shooting for as a loose cake frosting – it should be super easy to spread but thick enough that it won’t just slide off the edges of the table when you apply it vertically.

I applied three layers of feather finish (though, I probably could have gotten away with just two). The first two layers really just need to provide coverage – don’t stress too much about making them smooth! I used both an angled trowel and a wide putty knife to apply the concrete and I found that the best strategy was to get the concrete on the table and mostly spread out with the trowel, then switch to the putty knife to really spread it out and smooth it as much as possible.

After each layer dries, grab some 80-grit sandpaper and your orbital sander and go to town – you’re looking to just smooth out the rough edges and the ridges in the table. You aren’t shooting for perfection with these first two layers!

hand applying concrete feather finish to a table top
concrete table top with two layers applied

On the final layer, I worked much slower when applying the concrete and I really tried to focus on minimizing any lines in the finish. This is the layer everyone will see, and it’s the one you’ll be sanding to perfection, so really take your time with it!

Once it has dried fully, you’re ready for the final sanding process. I started with 80-grit sandpaper, then slowly stair-stepped my way all the way up to 320 (meaning, I sanded the entire thing with 80-grit, then 100-grit, then 120-grit, etc.). It takes a long time to get it fully sanded, but the buttery smooth texture is worth it.

finished concrete table top

Step Five: Seal the table top

After I finished the table top, it was time to seal it. Thankfully, since this is just a coffee table and not concrete counters (which is where I see this product used most often), I didn’t need to worry about a food-safe sealer! I used this wet look sealer and it was a breeze to apply!

I applied three thin coats using a regular old paintbrush. It’s very thin, so be careful not to allow it to pool at all as it’s drying. Each coat needs to dry for about an hour before applying the next one, and I found that it stayed really smooth and I didn’t need to sand in-between coats at all.

hand with a paintbrush applying concrete sealer

Once it’s fully dry, you’re good to go!

I am so, so happy with how this little faux concrete table turned out and I honestly can’t wait to tackle another project using feather finish concrete! It was so much fun, and the finished look is truly, absolutely beautiful.

back porch with DIY concrete coffee table
close up of DIY concrete coffee table
back porch with DIY concrete coffee table

With this project complete, we’ve only got one big project left back here before we’re ready to accessorize and call this back porch complete!

Be on the lookout for the final project later this week, and the full reveal is coming next week!

What do you think I should use the feather finish on next? An indoor dining table? Nightstands? I kind of want to cover everything with it!

The post DIY Concrete Outdoor Coffee Table appeared first on Love & Renovations.

Comments Off on DIY Concrete Outdoor Coffee Table

Comparing two genome binnings quickly with sourmash

Sourced from:

tl;dr? Compare and cluster two collections of 1000+ metagenome-assembled genomes in a few minutes with sourmash!

A week ago, someone e-mailed me with an interesting question: how can we compare two collections of genome bins with sourmash?

Why would you want to do this? Well, there’s lots of reasons! The main
one that caught my attention is comparing genomes extracted from
metagenomes via two different binning procedures – that’s where I
started almost two years ago,
with two sets of bins extracted from the Tara ocean data. You
might also want to merge bins that were similar to produce a
(hopefully) more complete bin, or you could intersect bins that were
similar to produce a consensus bin that might be higher quality, or
you could identify bins that were in one collection and not in the
other, to round out your collection.

I’m assuming this is done by lots of workflows – I note, for example,
that the metaWRAP workflow
includes a ‘bin refinement’ step that must do something like this.

I (ahem) haven’t really read up on what others do, because I was mostly
interested in hacking something together myself. So here goes :).

How do you compare two collections of bins??

There are a few different strategies. My previous attempts were —

In both cases, my conclusions ended with “wow, there are some real differences
here” but I never dug deeply into what was going on in detail.

This time, though, I had a bit more experience under my belt and I
realized that a fairly simple thing to do would be to cluster all of
the bins together while tracking the origin of each bin, and then
deconvolving the clusters so that you could dig into each cluster at
arbitrary detail.

The basic strategy

  1. Load in two lists of sourmash signatures.

  2. Compare them all.

  3. Perform some kind of clustering on the all-by-all comparison.

  4. Output clusters.

Conveniently, I had already implemented the key bits in a Jupyter
notebook about a year ago
so it was ready to go! I turned it into a command-line script called
and tested it out; on data where I knew the answer, it performed fine, grouping
identical bins together and grouping or splitting strain variants depending
on the cut point for the dendrogram.

You do have to run it on collections of already-computed signatures;
an example command line for is: --first podar-ref/?.fa.sig --second podar-ref/*.fa.sig -k 31

This version outputs a dendrogram showing the clustering, as well as a
spreadsheet containing the cluster assignments.

Speeding it up

The problem is, it’s kind of slow for big data sets where you have to do millions of comparisons!

Since comparing N signatures against N signatures is inherently an N**2
problem, any work we can put into filtering out signatures at the front
end of the analysis will be paid back in serious coin.

So, I added two optimizations.

First, you can now pass in a --threshold argument that specifies, in
basepairs, roughly how many bp need to be shared by a signature from
the first list with any of the signatures in the second list. If this
threshold isn’t met, the signature from the first list is dropped. Then
do the same for each signature in the second list with respect to the first

Second, you can now downsample the signatures by specifying a
--scaled parameter. (Read more about this here.) The logic here is that if you’re comparing
genomes, you probably don’t really need to look at a high resolution to
get a rough estimate of what’s going on. This optimization speeds up every
comparison done.

Together, this made it straightforward to apply this stuff to scads of

More/better output

Last but not least, I updated the script to output clusters, and provide summary output too!

An example!

Here is an annotated example of the complete workflow – this is done on the reference genome data set from Shakya et al., 2013, which we updated in Awad et al., 2017. This genome collection contains 64 genomes, some of which are strain variants of each other.

Briefly, after computing signatures,
calculates an all-by-all comparison for the two input collections, that results in a matrix like this (not currently output by —

comparison matrix

The dendrogram is then cut at some given phenetic distance – in this case I chose 1.8, based on
visual inspection of this next dendrogram:

dendrogram annotated with distances

The script then outputs a cluster details CSV file that lists all of the clusters and their members. (The clustered signatures themselves are also provided, along with singletons.)

And, finally, all of this activity is logged and summarized in the results output:

total clusters: 60
num 1:1 pairs: 56
num singletons in first: 0
num singletons in second: 0
num multi-sig clusters w/only first: 0
num multi-sig clusters w/only second: 0
num multi-sig clusters mixed: 4

The full set of commands is listed in this Snakefile, and commands to repeat it are in the appendix below.

Playing with real data

Since both the Tully et al. and the Delmont et al. papers have been
published now, I first re-downloaded the published data and calculated
all the signatures for the 3500 or so genomes — see the instructions
and Snakefile in

Once downloaded, computing the signatures takes about 15 minutes, using
snakemake -j 16.

Then, I ran the cocluster script from like so:

./2017-sourmash-cluster/ --threshold=50000 -k 31 
    --first ../data/tara/tara-tully/*.sig 
    --second ../data/tara/tara-delmont/NON_REDUNDANT_MAGs/*.sig 
    --prefix=tara.coclust --cut-point=1.0

This took about 2 minutes to run on my HPC cluster, and produced the
following output with a cut point of 1.0 (which is pretty liberal).

total clusters: 2838
num 1:1 pairs: 331
num singletons in first: 1886
num singletons in second: 443
num multi-sig clusters w/only first: 42
num multi-sig clusters w/only second: 4
num multi-sig clusters mixed: 132

When I re-run it with a more stringent cut-point of 0.1, I get:

% ./2017-sourmash-cluster/ --threshold=50000 -k 31 
    --first ../data/tara/tara-tully/*.sig 
    --second ../data/tara/tara-delmont/NON_REDUNDANT_MAGs/*.sig 
    --prefix=tara.coclust --cut-point=0.1
total clusters: 3520
num 1:1 pairs: 43
num singletons in first: 2557
num singletons in second: 906
num multi-sig clusters w/only first: 6
num multi-sig clusters w/only second: 0
num multi-sig clusters mixed: 8

Basically this means that:

  • when doing stringent clustering, there are 3520 different clusters;
  • 43 of the clusters provide a 1-1 match between bins from the Delmont and Tully studies;
  • 2557 of the Tully signatures don’t cluster with anything else;
  • 906 of the Delmont signatures don’t cluster with anything else;
  • there are 6 clusters that contain more than one Tully signature, and no Delmont signatures
  • there are 0 clusters that contain more than one Delmont signatures, and no Tully signatures;
  • 8 of the clusters have more than two signatures and contain at least
    one Tully and at least one Delmont signature.

I’ll dig into some of these results in a separate blog post!


Appendix: repeating the podar analysis

This workflow will take about 1 minute to run, once the software is installed.

To repeat the analysis of 64 genomes above (see output), do the following.

# create a new conda environment w/python 3.7
conda create -y -c bioconda -p /tmp/podar-coclust 
    python=3.7.3 sourmash snakemake

# activate conda environment
conda activate /tmp/podar-coclust

# grab the cocluster script and podar workflow
git clone
cd 2017-sourmash-cluster/podar-coclust

# clean out the existing files & run!
snakemake clean
snakemake -j 4 -p all

This last step will download the necessary files, compute the signatures, and run

Comments Off on Comparing two genome binnings quickly with sourmash

kitchen reno part 1

Sourced from:

What I’m looking at right now. You should see the other side of the living room!

Am completely knackered, so not going to bore with all the details just yet, but let me update you in numbers and pictures…
Number of days without a kitchen: 8
Number of sandwiches eaten: 42
Number of arms incredibly sore from sanding and painting three times in one day: 2 (they would be mine)
Number of hiccups so far: 6
Most number of trips to the hardware store in one day: 6
Number of cabinets in place: 5
Number of cabinets to still be put into place: 10
Number of taps working: 0
Number of appliances working: 0
Number of holes in the wrong place the electician cut into the wall that was already sanded and painted? 2
Number of flies killed because the doors were open all day every day: 723. Wait. 724
Number of times we’ve fallen onto our butts because the floor is so damn slippery from all the swept up sawdust? Me: 2; Steve: 1; Z: 4
Number of days before my dad can come back and finish putting the kitchen in: 12 🙁
Number of hours before we can get water and power on in the kitchen: oh god please let it be no more than 15!

Day 1: Looking better already!

The mouse’s house (left) and grass growing inside the wall!!

Several floorboards had to be replaced. We nearly had this gaping hole overnight, but luckily the new floor was put in on time.

Day 2: Electrical and plumbing work

Day 5: new walls in and plastered and lights installed

Day 6: dad and his little helper putting together the cabinets. Funnily enough, that plastic hammer worked: teh nails actually went in!

Day 7: Pantry done. The other cabinets on that wall are not flush with the wall yet. Dad needs to come back and put the benchtop on. Am hoping the electrician can connect the oven and cooktop tomorrow. I’m tired of sandwiches and takeaway!

My temporary benchtop!! These are the offcuts from the other side’s bench and the cut out from the sink hole!

And just because I don’t have enough things in my life to keep me busy (!) I signed up to Twitter last week and actually spent longer than two minutes on it tonight working it out. I think I’ve got it. Here is where I’ll be sending all those little quirks, annoyances or snippets of news too minor or time-consuming to blog about. And much excitement is the fact I can SMS the updates and they’ll appear magically on my Twitter profile. How genius. Not sure how long I’ll follow this fad (am really good at losing interest in things – Facebook? I only get on to look at friends photos now!), but for now, you can follow me at

Dreaming of our little one.

Sourced from:

Jennifer Fauset of Fauset Photography has put together an auction for her sister who has been trying for years to have a baby. She recently found out that IVF is her best option and to help a little with the enormous financial burden, Sew Obsessed has donated some items to auction away for a fraction of the retail price.   Here are pics of the goods. click over to their Facebook Page to start the bidding (bidding ends Oct. 8). 
Moda’s Lilly and Will Bundle and Cupcake pincushion 

Lot of: Mini Iron, straight pins, fabric circle cutter, fabric markers, measuring tape and Heather Bailey’s smarty girl book bag pattern.
I also donated a couple paper party crowns. Use them for a Bridal or Baby shower, or save it and use  year after year for Birthday dinners. (One size fits Baby  – Adult)   Ahh yes, and what’s more… The shipping is FREE!  

There are tons of vendors involved, so check it out. It’s  Great way to score some good deals and, of course,  help someone fulfill their dream of becoming a Mother.

Comments Off on Dreaming of our little one.

Kitchen Extension: Creating the Ultimate Kitchen Diner

Sourced from:

Including a kitchen expansion or knocking through? If you are looking to create an open-plan, sociable space but can not decide what to do, read our guide
The article Kitchen Extension: Making the Best Kitchen Diner appeared first on Homebuilding & Renovating.

Comments Off on Kitchen Extension: Creating the Ultimate Kitchen Diner

5 Outdoor Entertaining Tips That Will Have Your Summer Party Going All Night Long

Sourced from:

With the long weekend coming up and the kids all out of school in just a few days, we are ready to jump into summer. The weather here in Toronto hasn’t been the greatest (can we have a week with no rain, please?) but that makes me all the more eager to embrace summer and everything it has to offer.

One thing I am looking forward to is entertaining outdoors. We’re hosting a 50th anniversary party for my parents later this summer and it’s time to get our backyard into tip top shape. Summer parties can present unique challenges so it’s worthwhile to put some thought into how to keep your guests comfortable, especially as the festivities extend from day into night. Here are 5 outdoor entertaining tips to ensure a great time is had by all at your next summer party.

outdoor backyard dining, summer entertaining tips, philips hue outdoor bollard and spotlights

outdoor backyard dining, summer entertaining tips, philips hue outdoor bollard and spotlights

1. Create An Outdoor Dining Room

Moving the party outdoors can be as easy as taking your food out to the patio. But to really set the scene for a memorable summer party, consider creating an outdoor dining room. Treat your patio or deck as you would your finest interior space and outfit it with furnishings and accessories that are inviting and comfortable.

Start with a quality outdoor table and chairs. Chairs with armrests and cushioned seats allow your guests to dine outside and linger in comfort. To add softness underfoot, and to make it easier for chairs to slide in and out on uneven or rough surfaces, place an outdoor rug beneath the table.

outdoor backyard dining, summer entertaining tips, philips hue outdoor bollard and spotlights

If your space is large, create zones throughout your outdoor area, designating spots for dining and for lounging. Consider adding partitions or outdoor screens to bring a sense of privacy and to further define each room. In our backyard, I’ve used Philips Hue Calla Outdoor Bollards around the perimeter of our stone patio. The lights visually separate the dining area from the grass and make the patio seem more grand and special.

outdoor backyard dining, summer entertaining tips, begonia in planter, orange summer flowers

2. Decorate With Nature

Summer is a wonderful time to decorate with plants, indoors and outdoors. Though your outdoor dining space might already be surrounded by grass and trees, bringing additional natural elements into your decor can enhance the summertime feel. Here, I’ve used vibrant florals and leafy ferns to decorate the dining area. Their beautiful textures, gorgeous colours, and fresh scents make this outdoor scene come alive.

summer table setting, outdoor dining decor, outdoor summer decor, oranges in bowls, wooden lanterns on table

You don’t have to limit yourself to flowers or plants. Branches cut from the garden and simply placed in a vase can be a dramatic centrepiece, or use rocks, shells and driftwood to create a coastal inspired tableau. I’ve used the natural hues of the wooden lanterns and woven chargers to bring warmth to my table setting.

summer table setting, outdoor dining decor, outdoor summer decor, oranges in bowls, wooden lanterns on table

3. Add Vibrant Colour

Nothing complements the greens of summer better than bright, bold hues. Opt for outdoor tableware or table linens in happy patterns and vibrant colours. A brightly decorated table puts everyone in a party mood. I love a good party theme and outdoor entertaining is a perfect excuse to be creative and have fun with your decor. Think a spicy Mexican fiesta, an ocean blue Mediterranean banquet or Miami pastel brights. Use colourful accessories like hanging lanterns, outdoor pillows, or garden decor to add personality.

philips hue calla bollard, outdoor rug, outdoor entertaining, summer party tips

4. Use Lighting To Enhance The Mood

Outdoor lighting can play an important role in enhancing the mood of your party. As the sun begins to set, lighting can keep the energy high and the food and drinks visible. Smart outdoor lighting provides enhanced versatility, ensuring you can provide the right backdrop for any occasion.

Previously, I installed Philips Hue Lily Outdoor Spotlights in the backyard. They provide great accent lighting, up light the trees beautifully, and provide added security. With the addition of Calla Bollards, I now have a lighting system fit for entertaining.

Using the Philips Hue app, I’m able to control the lights separately or in tandem. Smart lighting is wonderful because you can adjust the ambiance to any occasion: a big party, an intimate dinner or a moment of relaxation on a late summer night. By adapting the colour and level of the light, you create the right setting to fully enjoy any moment outside.

philips hue calla bollard, outdoor rug, outdoor entertaining, summer party tips

5. Keep Guests Comfortable

Unlike an indoor party, the environment will have a huge impact on the success of your summer party. There’s two basic things every outdoor party guest wants: to be neither too hot nor too cold, and to keep the bugs away! The first goal is easily achieved by keeping the drinks cooler well stocked and having amenities available. Stock a small tray with sunblock, hand wipes, and stow a basket of throws and blankets nearby for guests to use at their convenience.

outdoor pillows and throws in basket, outdoor rug, outdoor entertaining, summer party tips

Keeping bugs away is a bit trickier. Citronella candles, insect-deterring lanterns, and natural repellants like lavender or peppermint oil can help to keep mosquitos at bay. You can also pre-treat the party zone with repellant sprays. But if all else fails, move the party inside for after dinner drinks.

outdoor pillows and throws in basket, outdoor rug, outdoor entertaining, summer party tips

Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner on the patio or barbecues every weekend, summer entertaining can be a breeze. Follow these easy outdoor entertaining tips and your next summer party is sure to keep going all night long.

Disclosure: This conversation is sponsored by Philips Hue. All words, photos, and opinions are my own.

Comments Off on 5 Outdoor Entertaining Tips That Will Have Your Summer Party Going All Night Long

Some questions and thoughts on journal peer review.

Sourced from:

Can I use comments from other people’s prior reviews when reviewing a submission to a new journal?

I just had the dispiriting experience of receiving a paper to review from Journal B, that was unchanged from a prior submission to Journal A. The “dispiriting” part of the experience was that the paper was completely unchanged, despite a host of minor and major comments on the paper from all three reviewers for Journal A.

I ended up writing that I was disappointed that the authors had not seen fit to confront the bigger issues in any way, much less correct even the smallest and easiest errors; and then pasted in my previous review. What I wanted to do was paste in the expert reviews from the other two reviewers for Journal A, but I didn’t feel like that was OK.

(If I get the paper back with some revisions, I’ll reevaluate it in light of the Journal A reviews, too.)

I think the behavior of the authors is very questionable, too, and I hope they rethink this strategy. If your paper is desk-rejected by a hoity-toity journal without review, that’s one thing; if reviewers put in hours of effort and give you detailed comments, you goshdarn well should put in an hour or two of your own time before resubmitting.

Why don’t all journals always send all the reviews to all reviewers?

David Koslicki visited my lab yesterday, and I was reminded of the mash and MetaPalette situation from a few years back. Briefly:

I was a reviewer on both the mash paper (Ondov et al. (2016)) and the MetaPalette paper (Koslicki and Falush (2016)) and in my final review of MetaPalette I mentioned the mash paper enthusiastically. (Both were already up on biorxiv.)

At some point later on I sent David an e-mail to follow up on some suggestions I’d had, and we realized that he’d never received the text from my review of MetaPalette. He later told me that he thought that receiving my comments would have accelerated his research by a few months, by pointing him at a new area.

So why didn’t mSystems send him the review text?!

(There are plenty of journals that are guilty of this.
Nature Biotech is one that I’ve noted in the past.)

Isn’t it irresponsible not to make some portion of the reviews public when the paper is published?

Peer reviews often provide important context that can help people understand why the paper is important and interesting. It’s fine and dandy to say that that should all be in the final paper, but that’s a hard task and often papers are space constrained (…for some reason).

I think journals should make reviews public along with the article.

The biggest argument against this is that it might take some work by someone to properly adjust reviews for fixes from earlier versions. A short term fix might be to have a box for “this is the part of the review that I would like to make public if this paper is accepted”.

Why don’t journals behave as if reviews belong to the reviewer?

I no longer review for PNAS, because they started including a provision that I couldn’t make any part of my review available in any form, even anonymously. I can understand that they don’t want reputation laundering (e.g. my previous behavior in posting reviews, which boosts my own reputation while also being a sign of my own privilege), but I see little harm in allowing it to be posted anonymously.

Journals sure are proprietary about work they didn’t pay for. That’s a bigger theme here, I guess 🙂

There is no conclusion other than that peer review seems really broken.

Anyway. Those are my ranty off the cuff comments for today.


Comments Off on Some questions and thoughts on journal peer review.

Lead with LEDs, even without LEED

Sourced from:

At Columbia Construction in North Reading, Massachusetts supporting our clients’ goals in building energy-efficient green buildings is a priority. In fact, several years ago, we established an Energy Division tasked specifically with finding ways for clients to generate renewable solar PV energy, and reduce energy use and operational costs.

While building energy codes continue to raise the floor on minimum performance, the high-performance heights reached by projects pursuing LEED, Zero Net Energy, and other 3rd party verifiable rating and certifications systems demonstrate that a motivated client and team can exceed expectations and end-user benefits.

But our commitment to sustainability goes beyond user benefits. As part of Columbia Construction’s own sustainability evolution, we want to better understand how we can operate more responsibly and sustainably across all projects, during the building process itself.

Lower energy consumption & greenhouse gases
Upon research and reflection, we realized that a big opportunity for construction companies to reduce energy consumption is in temporary lighting during construction. Temporary construction lighting is required on every project, it typically runs 24/7 for safety and security, and unlike the finished lighting, it’s not specified by the client and designers. Temporary lighting during construction is within the control of the construction companies.

We noticed lighting design in our finished projects trending toward all LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) and away from Incandescent, Halogen, and Fluorescent lighting. LEDs allow for more control on the quality of the light and can more easily be selected at specific color temperatures (from yellowish to white to blueish) and also specific brightness measured in lumens (from Latin, literally ‘light’; think illuminate).

In addition to all this added control on lighting quality, LEDs use significantly less energy to produce equivalent light levels. LEDs can save up to 85% on energy compared to Incandescent and 50% when compared to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). No longer should we be thinking about brightness in terms of watts. Watts is actually a measurement of power, a proxy for brightness in incandescent lighting. Now, using the more accurate measure of lumens, we can think about brightness directly in terms of brightness.

Since our electrical grids are still mostly powered with fossil fuels, lowering energy consumption reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions, which is necessary if we are going to be part of a sustainable future.

Human health & safety
The transition from incandescent lighting to fluorescent was an important step in energy efficiency — but also in terms of human health. Mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization. The EPA has clarified that less mercury is released into the environment when using CFLs when compared to incandescent lighting.

Power plants burning coal release mercury, so using less energy with a CFL also reduces power plant mercury emissions. Unfortunately, the actual CFL bulbs do contain small amounts of mercury (about 4-5 milligrams). This means that broken CFLs are a potential health hazard and must be disposed of properly and not thrown in the trash. This means that the healthiest solution is energy efficient LED bulbs that last longer and don’t have mercury in them.

Also, LEDs lose less energy to heat and therefore operate at lower temperatures and are less likely to burn workers, melt plastic that comes into contact with them, or start a fire. LEDs are the most durable lighting option with no filaments, and bulbs that are available without glass housing. LEDs can also be produced without the glass housing typical in other forms of lighting. Eliminating the glass housing reduces the risk of cuts from broken glass.

LED cost
Initially, the higher cost of LEDs limited their adoption, but over the years purchase prices have come way down. US DOE Life-Cycle Assessment research shows that LED lighting improves the quality of lighting, saves energy, and reduces negative environmental impacts when compared to other common lighting options. Life-Cycle Assessment considers not only use, but also manufacturing, transport and disposal at the end of useful life of the product.

At Columbia, we’ve surveyed our electricians and received feedback that supports what we we’re seeing on our job sites. LED bulb cost has come down to the point where cost no longer makes them a ‘non-starter’. The LED bulbs are more expensive to purchase initially, but their longer bulb life and better durability translates to less labor cost to replace broken or burnt out bulbs.

Despite this, many projects had not fully converted to LED and typically still used a mix of incandescent, halogen, CFLs, and LED. We recognized an opportunity to initiate a company-wide policy to reduce the biggest negative environmental impacts from lighting, GHGs related to energy consumption.

The new normal
As of January 2019 at Columbia Construction, all new projects are required to use energy-efficient LED Temporary Construction Lighting on the build site (correct?) to reduce energy use, improve employee safety, and support sustainability in the environment through reducing GHGs and mercury emissions from energy consumption. It’s a simple fix with big benefits.

We’ll continue to review our operations and identify opportunities that are within our control. We can do the right thing for ourselves, our workers and the environment, and be leaders towards sustainable construction practices. In this, we earnestly hope that others in our industry will join us.


Conor McGuire, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, is the Director of Sustainability at Columbia Construction Company (

Comments Off on Lead with LEDs, even without LEED

これから聴きはじめれば間違いなし洋楽ロック5選 2019

Sourced from:

最近の洋楽のバンドが聴かれなさすぎる。是非聴き始めてほしい洋楽ロックバンド5選 Part1はこちら















twenty one pilots

twenty one pilots – Stressed Out

 ラップ+ロックはメタル系しかいなくなったと書いた直後に紹介するのもアレだけど、こちらも最近では珍しい非メタル系のラップロックバンド。ワンオクとかパニック・アット・ザ・ディスコ、フォール・アウト・ボーイなどが所属するエモ界の重鎮レーベルFueled by ramenの変わり種、といった感じの立ち位置。売れまくってるのでもう変わり種でもなくなった感じはするけど。




Pale Waves

Pale Waves – Television Romance


 10世代の代表格的なバンドthe 1975も所属しているレーベル、Dirty Hitの4人組。見た目と音楽のギャップが凄い。ちなみにあの格好はThe Cureが元ネタっぽい。因みに音楽も結構The Cure。やっぱりルーツがしっかりしてるバンドは強いなと思う。

 レーベルメイトが売れすぎているせいで、どこで紹介されててもthe 1975~というくだりがあるし、僕も紹介にthe 1975と書いてしまったけど、1975フォロワーみたいな聴き方ではもったいないくらいくらいカッコいい。



Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still


 サマソニでライブを見たが、最後まで一言も喋らなかったり、メンバーに一切照明を当てなかったり、ずっと後ろで意味不明な動画を流し続けたり、音楽は結構ハードな感じだったりと、Feel it stillだけ聴いて見に来た客をおちょくってるかのようなライブ、というか完全におちょくっていて最高だった。





Temples – Shelter Song


 2014年に出した1stの出来がとても良かったんだけど、こういうタイプのバンドって音楽の志が高すぎて2枚目からはポップさがほとんど無くなってとっつき辛いのが出たりすることが多くて。Kula shakerとかさ。Templesもそういう風になるんじゃないかと心配してたんだけど、大丈夫でした。2ndもそこそこにポップで初めての人にもちゃんと勧められる出来。







Copyright © 2019 BASEMENT-TIMES All Rights Reserved.

Comments Off on これから聴きはじめれば間違いなし洋楽ロック5選 2019

Our Crate & Barrel Sofa Slipcover {A Comfort Works Review}

Sourced from:

This post has been a few months in the making, and I’m so excited to share our review of our new Comfort Works slipcover for our Crate & Barrel Lounge II Sofa!

Close up of Crate & Barrel sofa with Comfort Works slipcover

Oh boy, I’m really excited to share today’s post with you! I have so much to say about couches today (riveting topic, I know), and I’m also sharing the reveal of a little living room refresh we’ve been working on over the last few weeks!

You may not know this, but one of the most popular topics ever here on the blog is couches. Hundreds of people find me each month through my review of our IKEA KARLSTAD sofa along with my review of our current Crate & Barrel Lounge II Petite sofa. I totally get it – a new sofa can be a big investment, and I personally always try to find a blogger who has reviewed furniture before I click that “order” button.

So, I feel like it’s only right that when there’s an update, I give it to you – unfiltered and honest.

An Update on our Crate & Barrel sofa

We got our Crate & Barrel Lounge II Petite sofa in the “Taft” fabric (the color is Steel) about 18 months ago. We absolutely love the lines and the style, it’s incredibly comfortable, and it looks beautiful in our living room. I wrote a quick post about the sofa right after we received it, and I gave it rave reviews.

We still truly do love our sofa. BUT.

living room before - gray Crate & Barrel sofa with a doberman laying on it

We also have a bit of a unique situation because we have a lovable but incredibly strange Doberman who lives approximately 70% of her life ON OUR SOFA.

I could probably write an entire book on this one strange little animal alone, but the gist of it is that she’s got some personality, ahem, quirks that lead her to be afraid to enter about half of our (already tiny) house. She only ever goes into the living room, our bedroom, and outside. She sleeps on our sofa all night long, and spends a good chunk of the day hanging out on it as well.

So, any sofa we purchase has to be able to handle a lot.

The fabric we got for our Crate & Barrel sofa isn’t really one of their more pet-friendly fabrics. We just went with the standard option, and we learned after a few months that when a giant dog spends hours upon hours sleeping on it every day it’s going to start looking pretty rough pretty quick.

It looked fine from far off. And even up close, it wasn’t bad. But, the fabric had started to noticeably pill, and because of the thick weave it really held on to the dog smell quite a bit. I washed the covers regularly, but every evening when I fell into the sofa after the kids went to bed I was often hit with a big ol’ whiff of dog.

Not. Pleasant.

I was feeling really frustrated and worried that this sofa just wasn’t going to work out for us, and then Comfort Works reached out. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re kind of famous for making gorgeous slipcovers for IKEA sofas. They’ve been around for years (and I actually almost purchased on a few years back for our KARLSTAD!), and they’ve recently started branching out into making slipcovers for other brands – like Crate & Barrel. They wanted to send us a slipcover to try out and we, of course, immediately jumped on the opportunity.

Close shot of a living room sofa with a Comfort Works slipcover on it and colorful throw pillows

Comfort works slipcover review

So, let’s chat about the process of getting a Comfort Works slipcover, and then I’ll tell you my thoughts after living with it for a couple of months.

The first step in getting your new slipcover is to send over some photos of your sofa and choose your fabric. Then, Comfort Works will guide you through getting the measurements for your sofa. They have templates already made for all of the different sofas they offer and know the measurements it should be, but since they want to ensure a perfect fit they have you measure as well. It’s a really easy process and is detailed and clear. Once you’ve measured your sofa and they’ve triple-checked everything, they’ll get to making it and you should receive it in just a couple of weeks. You can see more about the process (and the Crate & Barrel sofa slipcovers they offer) right here.

Once the slipcover arrived, it was incredibly easy to put on our sofa. I did it by myself in less than an hour! You just have to add some velcro strips (that they send along!) to the bottom of the sofa for the new slipcover to cling to, and it just slips right over the existing fabric.

living room with a blue sofa, landscape art, and black sconces

We went with the Kino fabric in Navy, and I’m so, so in love with it. It’s one of their most durable fabrics, and while it’s actually rated pretty low on their “comfort” scale, we find it really soft and comfortable to sit on. It seems a lot less likely to pill than our old fabric, and it’s been on our sofa for a couple of months now and still looks brand new.

The best part? It doesn’t seem to hold on to smells at all, and I haven’t had to spray it down with air freshener or wash it at all in the couple of months we’ve had it. I just vacuum it every couple of days to get rid of the dirt and crumbs, and we’re good to go. Of course, I’ll eventually have to wash the covers, but that’s the best part – most of their fabrics are machine washable! You may remember me saying that I washed my Crate & Barrel couch covers, but I technically wasn’t supposed to. They held up just fine but I always feel better about washing covers that actually say they’re machine-washable. And, since there’s a slipcover on the frame of the sofa and not just the cushions, I can also pull that off and toss it in the washer if I need to – that’s impossible with most sofas!

close up of Crate & Barrel Lounge II petite sofa with a Comfort Works slipcover next to a black side table
living room with a blue sofa, leather ottoman, and floating open shelving

Beyond the durability, it really is just absolutely beautiful. I love the rich color, and it (of course) prompted a little refresh throughout the living room. We grabbed a new rug, hung some new art, and did some re-accessorizing. Oh, and we hung those adorable (under $50!) sconces above the couch, which don’t really give off a ton of light but make me smile every time I see them.

You win some, you lose some.

I still have a few changes I want to make in here, but this room is finally starting to feel much more us. It feel brighter and a little cheerier, and it feels CLEAN, which really, is all I ever want.

After living with the slipcover on our sofa for a couple of months now, I can officially say that I highly recommend you check out Comfort Works if you’ve got a sofa that could use a new look. They’re making slipcovers for several different retailers now (including West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel!) and the process is really simple. It’s so nice to get a totally new look without shelling out the cash for a whole new sofa!


The post Our Crate & Barrel Sofa Slipcover A Comfort Works Review appeared first on Love & Renovations.

Comments Off on Our Crate & Barrel Sofa Slipcover {A Comfort Works Review}