Episode 15: The Sun is Gone, but I Have a Light

Light.  It is one of those things that we tend to take for granted until it isn’t available, and then, stumbling around in the dark, the value of light becomes all too clear.  Humans have been figuring out better ways to light our homes for hundreds of years, but in the last 200 years lighting technology has truly advanced, and it all started with the creation of the electric light.

This fortnight's show discusses the history and future of the electric light, the world's oldest working light bulb, Lumens, color temperature, and the coolest lighting event that is going to happen in North America this year, the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

Featured in the Show:

The World's Oldest Working Light Bulb

The Centennial Bulb,  Credit:  Centennialbulb.org

The Centennial Bulb,  Credit:  Centennialbulb.org

The total solar eclipse of 2017's path of totality, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.  Credit: Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com

The total solar eclipse of 2017's path of totality, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.  Credit: Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com

Episode 14: Propane and Propane Accessories

It’s summer, and nothing says summer quite like a backyard cookout filled with good friends and grilled food.  In this episode find out about how back yard grilling got its start, why lovers of grilled food should appreciate harbor buoys, and why the charcoal we put in our grills probably isn’t charcoal.  I will also discuss some of the pros and cons of different types of grills, and some vegetarian options for your next cookout.

Episode 13: There's a Storm Coming

The Atlantic Hurricane season started a few days ago, and this year is predicted to be bad, but disasters, whether natural or man made can strike at any time.  In this episode my husband and I discuss the CDC's disaster preparation recommendations, and add a few recommendations of our own.

Emergency Preparation Websites:

A few of the Emergency Preparation Items we recommend (contains affiliate links):

 

 

Episode 12: The War on Bugs

Episode 11: It Really Tied the Room Together.

Do you know how big your living room rug should be, or which rug material is the most stain resistant?  What about how the technique used to construct a rug can impact it's durability?  This week's episode is all about rugs,  and in it I answer these questions and more, to help you make an informed decision when buying your next rug.  

This week's music is by Kai Engel, and can be found at the free music archive:  http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Kai_Engel/

Sources:

Episode 10: Easter Eggs

HYH Episode 10

What do the ice bucket challenge, cavorting with the devil, murder, and a burning effigy of Judas have in common?  Easter!  In this fortnight's episode I am counting down 10 of the world's most unusual Easter traditions.  Some are weird, some are wonderful, and some will leave you asking your self what could they possibly be thinking.

Show Notes:

Here are photos or videos of the traditions mentioned in the show.  

France:  Easter Bells

Sweden:  Easter Witch

Norway:  Murder Mystery

USA:  Egg Knocking

Czech Republic and Slovakia:  Whipping

Poland: Dyngas Day (Wet Monday)

Italy:  The Explosion of the Cart

Greece:

Pot Throwing:

Giant Bonfire:

Rocket War:

Spain:  Easter Procession

(no, they are not associated with the Klan)

Philippians:  Crucification 

Sources:

Episode 9: Smells Like... Teen Spirit?

Episode 8: Wax On, Wax Off

Has the coming of spring left you with an inexplicable urge to clean and organize?  In this episode of Hang Your Hat I will give you some insight on why that might be, and what you should do about it.  I also talk about how not to kill yourself with cleaning supplies, and a couple of the more helpful cleaning hacks I found during my research for the show.

 

Sources:

Episode 7: How's the Kullen Coming Along?

It is time for another Episode of Hang Your Hat and this time I am taking on the Furniture giant Ikea.  In this episode, I dig a bit into the history of the furniture mega store, divulge some of it’s dark secrets, and discuss why, despite it’s failings, I still love the store.  I will also review it’s new and much lauded 2017 PS line, and talk about a recent accolade that we should all be excited about.

Show Notes:

See the Better Shelter in Action:  http://www.bettershelter.org/better-shelter-awarded-beazley-design-of-the-year/

Learn More about How Natural Light Can Reset Your Sleep Cycle:  http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)31522-6

Sources:

Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Hang your Hat:  Ideas that are Close to Home.

This is Episode 7:  How's the Kullen coming along?

Of all the multi national, tax evading, global conglomerates that dominate a single industry and use a mind boggling amount of natural resources to do it, Ikea is my favorite.

In this episode, I dig a bit into the history of the furniture mega store, divulge some of it’s dark secrets, and discuss why, despite it’s failings, I still love the store.  I will also review it’s new and much lauded 2017 PS line, and talk about a recent accolade that we should all be excited about.

Since this episode is full of swedish words and names, and I do not speak Swedish, I want to apologize in advance for my atrocious pronunciation.  Believe it or not, I am trying my best to get it right.

Ikea PS 2017 Review

For the first time since 2014 Ikea has come out with a new PS collection.  21 designers collaborated with Ikea to make 60 new products, ranging from furniture to drink mixes.  According to Ikea this new line was made for the “fiercely independent” who “give convention a wedgie.”  That is actual copy from their website - give convention a wedgie.  I think it is pretty clear that they are targeting millennials, particularly those that are living in transient or shared conditions.  As a result, most of the furniture is small and foldable, and looks pretty unconventional.  

For example the collection has a love seat that is made from two strapped together corner seats constructed from a metal grid covered with 36 pillows.  It looks like metal outdoor furniture covered in an angry pointy cloud.  I think it is safe to say that I am not a fan of this particular piece of furniture, but I can see how it might be really great for people that move a lot.  The fact that it can be separated into two smaller pieces means that it could fit in multiple home layouts, including ones that don’t have enough room for a love seat.  The metal frame is durable enough to survive several moves, and looks like it would be a lot lighter weight than a traditional wood and upolestry love seat, and the fact that it can be broken into pieces makes it easier for a single person to move, and easier to carryupstairs or fit through narrow doorways.  Even though I am not a fan of this piece, it is a really good design for the target audience.

There is also a chair that is covered in a mesh fabric that I am a fan of, it looks fantastic.  The chair has a metal frame and wooden seat with the mesh fabric, that forms the body of the chair stretched over the frame.  The chair is mostly a horse shoe shape, that is a bit squeezed in on the sides for the arm rests.  It also has araised back that sort of flows into the sides.  My overall impression of it, is that it looks like a really comfortable, inexpensive office guest chair.  It also comes in a pretty plum color, or a soft grey.

I am also a fan of the collection’s rocking chair.  It is shaped like half a sphere suspended on rockers.  Firebeard said it looks like one of the wheeled standup chairs the kids had before they could walk, and it kind of does, but I still kind of like it.  It looks like it might be a great place to cuddle up to read a book, or plot an evil scheme - it looks like it might be a good super villain lounger too.

There are a couple of things in the collection that I think are just duds.  The coffee table looks like a short folding TV tray made from metal.  It is at best the size of a side table.  If they had called it a side table, I might have been able to get behind the design, but as a coffee table, it really misses the mark for me.

They also have a USB powered flash light in a cage, that just doesn’t make any sense at all.  I think the idea is that it is a lamp that can be powered by your laptop or a car charger, so you don’t need to be in a house to use it, but it just seems like a flashlight with portability issues.

My absolute favorite from the collection is a 3 in one self watering plant pot set.  It is a 3 piece set that consists of a metal plant stand, an off white water proof outer pot, and an unglazed terra-cotta inner pot.  The metal plant stand cradles the outer pot so that it is suspended above the floor which looks quite nice and keeps your floors from being ruined.  The outer pot acts as a water resivoir.  You fill it up from a hole on the side, and the inner pot slowly sucks up the water keeping the plant moist.  I love this thing.  It is attractive, useful, practical.  After my next trip to Ikea my house will be filled with them.

The collection has a lot of other really great pieces and several not so great pieces, that I plan to cover in detail on the blog.  For now I’m just going to mention a few.  There is a very pretty emerald green knit throw with a wavy texture, some smokey glass vases that would work with a lot of different decorating styles, a room divider that would be great to make a private space for guests when you don’t have a guest bedroom, some travel mugs with a really interesting shape, and a truly bizarre lounging blanket that looks a bit like a quilted vest made for someone 7 or 8 feet tall.

Another quick mention, around the same time that the PS collection came out Ikea also released a bicycle.  It is belt driven rather than chain driven, which according to ikea makes it easier for novicesto work on, and it comes with quick attachment points that make it easy to add on some of their accessories like a pull behind trailer and panners, which are like square bags that fit next to the back wheels.  It also comes with a 25 year warranty.  I am a tiny bit of a bike snob, so I am reserving judgement on this one until I see it in person.  I have doubts that the belt drive will really work that well, especially under a load, but I hope that I am wrong and that this is a good inexpensive transportation option.  

History

Ikea’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, was born in Smaland Sweden in 1926, and seems to have become a business man at the point of exiting the womb.  At 5, he was already buying matches in bulk and selling them to his neighbors at discounted prices, and by 7 he had expanded into other markets - nearby towns selling things like Christmas cards and pencils.

Kampradstarted IKEA in 1943, at the age of 17 using money that his father had given him for doing well in school, despite his dyslexia.  Initially the company sold things like pens, picture frames, and watches at reduced prices, but in 1948 he expanded the line to include furniture produced by local manufactures.

By 1951 IKEA was already producing the IKEA catalogue, much like the Ikea catalogue we know today, and in 1953 the first IKEA furniture showroom was opened.  The showroom was a response to a price war with an Ikea competitor.  Since people could see the quality of the Ikea products in the showroom, buyers could make their furniture choice based on both cost and quality rather than just cost alone.  This proved to be a good move for Ikea, and their sales continued to grow.

Ikea began the move to manufacturing their own flat pack furniturein 1956, after Competitors encouraged furniture suppliers to boycott Ikea.  In my opinion, this is when Ikea as we know it today was really born.  Soon after, in 1958, the first IKEA store, like the Ikea stores we know now was opened in Almhult Sweden.  

The ikea brand really took off from there.  The first IKEA restaurant was opened in 1960, and the first store outside of Sweden was opened in 1963.   Ikea finally reached US markets in 1985.  

Ikea has actually been fairly slow to expand.  They seem to want to get things right the first time, and are willing to slow their expansion to do it.  For example, it took 6 years to open it’s first store in south Korea.  Their strategy seems to work though, when they expand they do it right, selling a mass produced product internationally, while still somehow catering to the needs of the local market.

Now there are more than 318 Ikea stores in more countries than Walmart, and additional expansion into emerging markets like China and India is still very much on the agenda.  

Ikea’s net income has increased 31% in the last 5 year up to$4.5 Billion.  

Why is Ikea so successful?  It’s model is based on volume.  It produces a lot of the same item and sells them in many different markets.  That lets them get lower prices from their suppliers, and in turn charge their customers lower prices.  The more volume the greater that discount becomes, which is why many IKEA favorites have actually become cheaper over the years, despite inflation.

For example, as of 2015 one Billy bookcase was sold every 10 seconds, that kind of volume allowed the company to lower their 2015 price by an average of 1% below the 2014 price.

Is is actually so ubiquitous a product, that Bloomberg has created a Billy bookcase index as an indicator of the fiscal strength of each of the countries they are sold in.  In case you were wondering, in 2015, the latest year I could find, Slovakia was the cheapest, followed by several other European countries that use the Euro.  The price reflected decreasing prices in the Euro zone at that time.  Egypt was the most expensive, reflecting rampant price growth in the country.  

The Ikea has not escaped controversary however.  We probably all rememberthe horsemeat meatball scandal of 2013.  Ikea was of course, not the only company impacted.   After investigation, by the European Union, food adulteration was found to be far more widespreadthan had been previously thought; however, Ikea seemed to become the name that was most closely associated with the scandal.  

Ikea also uses a really absurd amount of natural resources, particularly wood.  All of my sources differed slightly in the amount of wood they said IKEA uses, but most agreed that it was just about 1% of the world’s commercial wood supply every year, and that Ikea is likely, at least in the top 5 of commercial wood consumers in the world.

Critics argue, that given the lifespan of most Ikea products, that using that much wood is a terrible waste of natural resources.  I think that this argument has some validity.  Using that much wood does seem environmentally irresponsible.  However, Ikea is currently attempting to mitigate it’s impact.  As of last year about 40% of the wood they used came from either recycled sources or Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.  Forest Stewardship council certification means that the wood is sourced in an environmentally friendly, socially responsibly and economically viable way.  It is a huge step toward sustainability.  Ikea plans to have at least 50% of the wood it sources to be sustainablethisyear, and 100% of it by 2020.  

What I think is really important here is that since IKEA is SO big, and it’s part of the consumer wood market share is SOO huge, that it’s move toward more sustainably harvested wood could actually impact the entire consumer wood market.  No supplier is going to want to miss out on a large portion of the market share, and that may mean a greater move toward sustainable wood production over all.

Ikea also used East German prisoners as slave labor to reduce costs in the late 70’s in early 80’s.  In 2012 the practice came to light after an independent audit by Ernst and Young.  The Ernst and Young report said that while Ikea had had a policy of visiting production facilities to control working processes, access to East German suppliers had been restricted.  In 2012 The company made a public apology for it.  Peter Betzel, the head of Ikea Germany, stated "It is not and never was acceptable to Ikea that it should be selling products made by political prisoners and I would like to express my deepest regret for this to the victims and their families.”  Betzel further stated that the companyhad received tipoffs that it had been using forced labour, but had taken insufficient action against the claims, and that since 2000 it has had had a strict system of checks and balances in place.  The company now does over over 1000 control checks every year.  

Anita Gossler, an east german prisoner that was forced to make goods for other companies stated that "There were many companies involved in this practice," “ they should all be named and shamed. Ikea has put its head above the parapet and admitted its guilt but there are plenty of others who should also be approached for compensation."  She also said that she welcomed Ikea’s announcement that it planned to donate funds to research projects on forced labour in the former GDR.

This accusation about forced German labor came at about the same time that the company was accused of using cuban political prisoners for the same purpose.  It turned out that the cubans had made sample goods for the company, but the company never actually sold goods made by cuban prisoners, and that Ikea was unaware of any involvement of cuban prisoners.  

There have also been allegations that Ingvar Kamprad had Nazi ties.  In 1994 Kamprad’s Nazi ties initially came to light when the letters of Per Engdahl, the leader of the New Swedish Movement, and supporter of Nazi Germany (but not Nazism), came to light.  The letters showed that as a teen Kamprad had given money to and recruited for the organization, and that Kamprad was friends with Engdahl.  Then in 2011, a book by the Swedish journalist Elisabeth Åsbrink showed that Kamprad had been a member of the the fascistgroup, the Swedish Socialist Union (SSS), at the time that he founded Ikea.  There is even some evidence that he recruited for the organization, although it is unclear how official that capacity might have been.  

In 1998 Kamprad made a public apology for his Nazi ties, calling them a part of my life which I bitterly regret, youthful sins, and the biggest mistake of his lifeMost at the time seemed to believe that Kamprad was truly remorseful, and most groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, accepted his apology.

In addition, Asbrink’s 2011 book, “And in Wienerwald the trees remain”, the book that brought further Nazi ties to light, also details Kamprad’s long term friendship with a Jewish refugee that came to work on Kamprad’s family farm and later was a member of the team that launched Ikea.  Perhaps this friendship helped show Kamprad there error of his ways.

Back in 1998, Kamprad stated that The IKEA he created is based on democratic principles and embraces a multicultural society.  I think support for that vision of Ikea was given on January 30, when Ikea came out with a letter in support of their immigrantemployees in the US after the US travel ban restricted movement of people from 7 primarily Muslim countries into the US.

Last, but certainly not least, IKEA is a tax dodger.  Technically, IKEA is a charity.  In 1982, Ingvar Kamprad gave his ownership stake in IKEA to the Stichting Ingka Foundation, which is a dutch charity.  The charity runs IKEA through Ingka Holdings, a subsidiary of the Stiching Ingka Foundation, that operates as a for profit company.  

As of 2006, the charity had an estimated endowment of $36 billion dollars, but it wasn’t very charitable in it’s giving.  The foundation has been giving Sweden’s Lund Institute of Technology 1.7 million Euros a year, which is a lot, but it is very little in comparison to the foundation’s gigantic endowment.

So why the complicated structure?  Since Ikea is owned by a charitable organization, all of it’s profits are tax free.  And guess who is in charge of the Stichting Ingka Foundation, it is a board, headed by Kamprad.  

Ikea, as you probably think of it is actually many companies, and subsidiary companies with an extremelycomplex organizational structure that make it difficult to tell who owns what, and who benefits from the company’s success.  

The result is very little tax being paid on a huge amount of profit, and it appears to be completely legal.

So why, after the horse meat, huge resource usage, forced labor, Nazi affiliations, and tax doging do people still like Ikea?  I think there are two reasons.

For one, Times are tough.  Millienials earn on average 20% less than their parents did at the same age.  Many have to stay at home with their parents to make ends meet, and those that do get out on their owndon’t have a lot of extra money for furniture.  Low cost furniture suppliers, like Ikea, make it possible for a millennial to both move out of their parent’s basement, and have a bed to sleep on in their new place.  That is a powerful motivator to forget a company’s past misdeeds.

The 2nd reason isa little less concrete.  I think that, for the most part, Ikea really do seem to be trying to learn from their mistakes and do better.  Whether that is from an inherent desire to make the world a better place, or because it is good for sales, the end result is that you can feel ok about buying an Ikea product.  While your purchase probably isn’t making the world a better place, it probably isn’t making the world a worse place, and that it not something that you can often say at a similar price point.

On the environmental front, ikea is working toward sustainability.  They have switched to all LEDs, make high efficiency appliances and low water use faucets.  They are working toward completely sustainable wood and cotton.  They have cut out polystyrene and are cutting out palm oil.  They are investing in renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions, increasing efficiency, and reducing waste.  Many of their stores are at least partially solar powered, and they have begun to offer solar panels to consumers in test markets.  Half of the food they serve is from local sources, and most of the fish they serve is sustainably sourced, and they are working toward all of their products coming from renewable, recyclable, or recycled sources in the near future.

They are also working toward social justice.  48% of their managers are women.  They are enforcing a conduct for their suppliers that enforces things like good working conditions, and recently they have begun employing Syrian refugees that have had difficulty finding jobs.  In addition, the Stichting Ingka Foundation - Ikea’s non profit parent company, has committed to providing additional support to communities negatively impacted by climate change, and providing clean drinking water. 

However, I think their most important contribution to social justice recently is the Better Shelter,  A flat pack home for refugees that won the prestigious 2016 Beasley Design of the year award. 

The better shelter is a lightweight rigid polymer structure that can be set up by a team of 4 in a matter of hours.  They sleep 5, are far more durable and weather proof than a tent, and havea solar panel on the roof that provides enough energy to power a light, or charge a cell phone.

In other words, it is a tenable living situation for refugees, that provides a modicum of security and a sense of home.

Follow up from Episode 6

Before I go, I have a quick update from Episode 6:  Sweet dreams are made of these.  On February 2, just a few days after the episode aired, a new study came out in the journal current biology, called Circadian Entrainment to the Natural Light-Dark Cycle across Seasons and the Weekend.  The study focused how exposure to natural light, as opposed to the electrical light we are exposed to all of the time impacts the body clock.  Exposure to electrical light delays the body clock, so we go to bed late and wake up late.  They wanted to find out if exposure to natural light would reset the biological clock so that a person would go to sleep around sunset and wake up around sunrise.  So they sent study participants camping.  The participants were exposed ONLY to natural light, no flash lights, no phones, nothing.  They found that the natural light DID reset the biological clock.  The participants went to bed earlier and woke up earlier.  It even helped prevent cases of the Monday’s.  So if you are in need of a biological clock reset, it may be a good time to go camping, or failing that, at least spending a bit more time outdoors and away from screens.

If you want to learn more I will link to the study in the show notes.

Outro

Thank You for listening, I hope you enjoyed the Show.  If you did, please rate the show or leave a review on I tunes.  Due to travel obligations, I will be back in three weeks rather than the typical 2 weeks.   If you would like to get in touch in the meantime please send me an email at hangyourhatpodcast@gmail.com.  You can also visit the website hangyourhatpodcast.com.

The Hang your Hat podcast is a production of gerwerkencrafts.com.  That is G-E-R-W-E-R-K-E-N crafts (all one word) .comYou can visit gerwerken crafts for diy, home décor, crafts, tutorials and more.

 

Episode 6: Sweet Dreams are Made of These

30% of american adults do not get enough sleep, and the consequences of too little sleep include impaired brain activity, cognitive dysfunction, moodiness, depression, increased incidence of accidents cold and flu, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, weight gain, hallucinations, memory problems, and accidental death.  So today’s show is dedicated to making our homes great places to get a good night’s sleep, from the perfect lighting, to the most relaxing paint color and best scents to induce sleep.  I will also talk about some of the best and worst sleep gadgets available on the net.

 

Sleep Gadgets:

As promised, here are links to all of the sleep gadgets mentioned in the sleep gadget portion of the show.

 Sources:

Show Transcript:

Welcome to Hang your Hat:  Ideas that are Close to Home.This is Episode 6:  Sweet Dreams are made of these, And who am I to disagree?

30% of american adults do not get enough sleep, and the consequences of too little sleep include impaired brain activity, cognitive dysfunction, moodiness, depression, increased incidence of accidents cold and flu, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, weight gain, hallucinations, memory problems, and accidental death.  So today’s show is dedicated to making our homes great places to get a good night’s sleep, from the perfect lighting, to the most relaxing paint color and best scents to induce sleep.  I will also talk about some of the best and worst sleep gadgets available on the net.

Your bedroom is for sleep, and romance.  It is not the ideal place for watching TV, doing laundry, or answering email.  Or in the words ofDr. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “I say the bed is for two things that begin with the letter S, and struggling and suffering are not among them.”

The reason that we should not do other things in our bedrooms is that it teaches our minds to associate the bedroom with things other than sleep.  When the mental association between the bedroom and sleep is strong, the bedroom itself can become a strong sleep trigger. 

The first step toward making your bedroom more conducive to sleep is clearing out all the clutter, and This is not just me and my aversion to clutter talking.  According to the Alaska sleep clinic, all of the stuff we have in our rooms, wether we are using them or not, are potential distractions that weaken the bond between the bedroom and sleep.  The treadmill in the corner will make you think about working out, or how you are not working out.  The computer may make you anxious about work, and good TV programing can keep you engaged long after the TV has been turned off.   

2nd:  Ditch the Electronics

The TV and other electronics, like lap tops, phones, and iPads,  are not just bad because they keep you engaged long after bedtime, they also emit a blue light that that can interrupt normal sleep patterns.

The part of the brain that controls the biological clock is the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus which are a group of cells in the hypothalamus.  These cells are sensitive to light, and respond to light and dark signals.  When the body is only exposed to natural light, sleep patterns are set by the daily cycle of light and dark. When it starts getting dark outside the hypothalamus sends signals to the body to start producing sleep hormones, like melatonin, and to reduce the body’s temperature in preparation for sleep.  When it gets light outside in the morning the body is triggered to warm up and produce waking hormones like cortisol.

Artificial light disturbs this pattern.  According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, it can suppress melatonin productions by around 85%.  Night time light also unnaturally elevates cortisol levels at night, which disrupts sleep and creates problems with body-fat levels, insulin resistance, inflammation, and disrupts the neuroregulation of appetite.

The blue light produced by electronics and LEDs is even worse than the artificial light produced by incandescent bulbs.

According to Harvard Medical School, Blue light boosts attention, reaction times and mood - great during the day, but a problem at night.   Blue light also suppresses melatonin production more than any other type of light, probably because humans are extremely sensitive to the very short wavelengths of blue light.

Dr. Robert Oexman, of the Sleep to Live Institute suggests that to get better sleep, exposure to blue light should be avoided 30 to 60 minutes prior to bedtime.  If the idea of not using your phone for 30 minutes to an hour before bed doesn’t appeal to you, check to see if it has a night time setting.  The night time setting on phones reduces the amount of blue light the phone emits, making it slightly better for your sleep routine.  You should also lower the light levels in your home and bedroom as much as possible prior to bed to help your body kick start it’s melatonin production.  

While in target the other day, I actually ran across some smart lights designed to automatically adjust the light throughout the day to the ideal conditions to promote sleep.  They were called, C by GE and they were very expensive at almost $40 for 2 bulbs.  They are pretty cool through - in the morning the produce bright blue light, and in the evening they switch to dimmer more yellow light, and for the rest of the day they produce light that is somewhere in between.  The blue morning light suppresses melatonin and increases cortisol production which will help wake you up, and the yellow evening light should allow natural melatonin production to occur - which will help you sleep.

I have since found these made by several other manufactures, and was shocked to find that the GE ones were actually pretty cheap in comparison to many of the others.  As extravagant as these light bulbs seem I considering taking the plunge and getting a couple for my own bedroom.  If I do,  I will give a follow up and let you know how they work.

Now that we know that light exposure near bed time is a bad thing, it should be no surprise to find that any light in your bedroom can negatively affect sleep.  

Even when your eyes are closed, a light signal can reach the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.  One of the best things you can do to improve your sleep is to eliminate all sources of light from the room.  That includes lamps, night lights, light up cell phone notifications, alarm clocks, and the red lights on TVs that stay on even when the TV is off.  Even if you can’t remove these things from the room - you can cover up the light sources so that that don’t affect your sleep.  

Light from the outside also counts.  If you have a street light pouring into your bedroom at night, invest in some black out curtains, or, black out curtain liners.  Good black out curtains should be able to completely block light coming in from the outside.

Now that we have eliminated the light, it is time to eliminate the sound.

Sounds that cause arousal during sleep affect your sleep cycle, even if they don’t wake you up.  Night time noise has also been correlated with cardiovascular disease based on the research review “Effects of Environmental Noise on Sleep”  published in the journal Noise and Health - although further research is needed to see if a causal relationship exists.  

The amount that sound effects sleep differs quite a bit from person to person, some people are more sensitive to noise than others.  Children and the elderly are affected more strongly than people of other ages, and people are more likely to have their sleep disturbed by sounds during stage 2, non rem sleep, and during any other sleep stage. People can also get used to background noise, like a busy road, if they are exposed to it for long enough, and Once people are habituated to noises they don’t affect sleep as badly.

The sounds themselves can make a difference too.  The study Auditory Processing across the Sleep-Wake Cycle in the journal Neuron found that Mom’s are super sensitive to baby noises, and that people more sensitive to their name than random beep noises while they sleep.

The worst however, is abrupt changes in noise, like a sudden loud bang or honking horn that rises above the level of general background noise.

One way to drown out environmental noises is to use a sound machine that produces white noise.  It creates a low level background sound that makes abrupt environmental noises less noticeable.  You can even use things like fans or air conditioners as white noise machines while they are running.

You can also set up your room in ways that limit the impact of noise, by doing things like Keeping beds away from noisy walls whenever possible, and decorating with Soft surfaces like carpets and drapes which deaden sounds better than hard surfaces like wood or metal.  Trees and bushes planted outside the bedroom can also reduce exterior noises.   If you are in the market for new windows double pane ones block sound better than single pane windows, but even just making sure that your current windows are sealed properly can help.  and if all else fails, use earplugs.

My son and I both fall asleep best when listeningto something that is a little boring and monotone, or very familiar when going to bed.  His favorite is the Gardener’s Question Time Podcast, and I generally listen to audio books that I have already listed to several times.  For me, it keeps my mind occupied enough to not think about things like work, but is dull enough that it doesn’t keep me awake.  

Now Temperature,

I am from Florida, were winter is a week long, and fall and spring last an additional 2 weeks each.  The rest of the time is summer.  When the temperatures are high, but the humidity is higher.  Where the air is so full of water, that it feels like drowning when you breath, and when you sweat, you can’t be sure if the water came from inside you, or it condensed when the air touched your skin - either way it is completely useless because sweat doesn’t evaporate during a Florida Summer.

Every summer we worship at the alter of the Air conditioning gods.  We hide in our climate controlled boxes, and only when absolutely necessary do we brave the outside long enough to scurry from one climate controlled box to another - lest we be struck down by the horrible light of the day star.

Worst, I have recently discovered that there is another reason to dislike the miserably hot summer, it messes with my sleep.

When you go to sleep, the temperature that your body tries to maintain drops a bit.  This drop in temperature induces sleep, but if the ambient temperature in the room is too hot or too cold, then the body struggles to achieve the new nighttime ideal temperature.  If the temperature is uncomfortably hot or cold it will be harder to go to sleep and you will be more likely to wake up.  

How comfortable The temperature of the room is especially affects the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.  

It turns out that the ideal temperature range for sleeping is 65 to 72 degrees fahrenhite (about 18 to 22 degrees celsius) for most people.  Although there are some differences in what is comfortable from one person to the next.  The important thing is keeping the temperature of the room comfortable.

Yet even here in the affluent United States, there is no way that I would actually cool my house to 65 to 72 degrees to sleep.  For one, my utility bill would astronomically high, for two, my air conditioner would turn into a giant block of ice in the attempt, and last, as an environmentalist, the idea of using enough energy to cool my house by as as much as 30 degrees below the outside temperature leaves me a bit appalled.  

What is a frugal environmentalist or person without air conditioning to do?  Fans!  Ceiling fans, box fans, fans on a night stand.  All will help, are inexpensive when compared with an air conditioner, and use a fraction of the energy.

Keep in mind that Fans will not significantly change the temperature of the room, but the movement of the air will assist in the evaporation of sweat, which makes the body’s natural cooling system actually work in a humid climate. 

You might also want to change out your pillow if you have a memory foam one.  As nice as memory foam pillows are - the material they are made from traps heat - so they are not ideal if you are sleeping in a room that is a bit too warm.

Now, If you are having trouble getting to sleep smell might be the key to getting to sleep quickly.  Lavender, reduces anxiety and agitation, decreases heart rate, and relaxes the body.  It has even been used to treat insomnia.  In stress tests people who smelled vanilla had more stable heart rates and lower blood pressure than people that had not smelled anything.  And people that smelled jasmine had more restful sleep, moved less during sleep, and had better sleep quality than those that didn’t smell jasmine.  Smelling roses during deep sleep has been shown to improve memory.  Chamomile, Bergamot, and Sandalwood are also generally thought to be good sleep aids.  Oil diffusers, or oil diffusing humidifiers are good ways spread scent around the room, and they are generally not too expensive.  On a side note, all of the studies that I read on scent and sleep used Essential Oils rather than lab produced scents, so if you want to get the sleep benefits of smell, try the essential oil version of the scent.

If you wake up after a good night sleep and feel like you were hit by a truck sometime during the night, it might be time for a new mattress.  I’m not going to go into mattresses too much, because I could literally do an entire podcast about mattresses, and I probably will at some point.  But here are a few high level tips.  Most mattresses are designed to last only 10 years, after that they begin to wear and become less supportive.  Buying a new mattress is not cheap, but considering the amount of time people spend in bed, it isn’t worth it in the long run to cheap out.  You can expect to spend at least $1000 for a decent queen size mattress.  And while you can occasionally find decent mattress for less,  chances are if you are paying less you are getting a lower quality mattress.  There are actually quite a few mattress review websites online, where owners of the mattresses review them for comfort, durability and the like, so you can get a better idea of what you are buying before you shell out.

The kind of mattress you should get is based on personal preference.  If you go with a foam mattress remember that memory foam retains heat.  Latex foam is cooler, so it is probably a better choice for hot climates.

Finally, the color of your bedroom can affect your sleep.  The hotel booking website, travel lodge, studied 2000 British families and found that people who slept in blue rooms got the most sleep.

The blue room sleepers got an average of 7 hours 52 minutes of sleep.  Yellow was second best at 7 hours 40 minutes, but green, silver, and orange followed closely behind. 

The absolute worst color bedroom for sleep was purple, with an average of only 5 hours 56 minutes.  Brown and grey rooms were the 2nd and 3rd worst.

The reasons the researches thought that the blue room scored the highest was that blue is associated with calmness and helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate, while purple is associated with creativity, so it might keep your mind working even after lights out.  But the researchers were not able to do more than speculate about when the color of the room affected sleep the way it did.  

I feel like there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered here, but I ’m still going to be heeding this information when I go to pick out paint colors for my bedroom.

While doing research for today’s show I ran across a lot of sleep gadgets, some of which were truly innovative and some of which were truly weird.  I decided to share a few of the gadgets I found, and let you decide which is which.  

1st, Sheex - thats S-H-E-E-X.  Sheex are sheets that are made from moisture wicking fabric that is similar to athletic apparel.  They help to keep you cool and dry when the temperature in your room is hotter than is ideal.  They are currently $179 for a queen set including pillow cases on Amazon.

#2:  The Sleep Number 360 smart bed.  Sleep number’s latest bed seems like it does just about everything but make itself.  It can automatically warm the foot of the bed at bedtime, automatically adjusts to optimize comfort if you change position while sleeping, and will automatically raise your partner’s head when they start snoring.  It also has integrated sleep tracking technology, and will communicate with other smart technology like nest and fitbit.  It will also remind you to go to bed, and turn on under bed lighting if you get up in the middle of the night, and there is an app for it.  The Sleep number 360 is not available yet, but the company says it will be similar in price to their existing beds.

#3The Philips Wake up light with colored sunrise simulation

The wake up light is basically an alarm clock, but it doesn’t just use sound to wake you up.  It simulates the sunrise to wake you up gradually with natural light, as well as playing either soothing sounds or FM radio.  It also does the reverse to put you to sleep, by slowly dimming the light and turning down the sound.  It is currently available on Amazon for $134.

#4Under Armor TB12 Tom Brady Recovery Sleepwear.  Quarterback Tom Brady worked with Under Armor to develop PJs that help your body recover from exercise or injury while you are sleeping.  There is a“soft bioceramic print” on the inside of the PJs that reflects the body’s own heat, which, according to Under Armor, helps your body recover faster and promotes better sleep.  They are currently for sale on the Under Armor Website for $100 per piece.

#5 The Power Siesta.  The power siesta is a piece of cardboard, that folds out into a stable box type shape, that is designed to let you sleep on top of your tray table on a plane.  You fold it out, place it on your tray table, lay on top of it, and then, if the Power Siesta’s Kick starter page is any indication, you immediately fall asleep.  The power siesta has been funded on kick starter, and you can currently pre order one for only $17.

#6 Acoustic Sheep Sleep Phones.  This is a headband with speakers built in that you can plug into your phone to play music while you sleep.  They also have wireless versions.  The idea is that the sound from the headphones will drown out other sounds that would otherwise wake you up, like noisy neighbors or crying babies, but your partner won’t have to listen to your music while they sleep.  It is currently selling for $38.95 on Amazon.

And Last, #7, The Ostrich Pillow.  The Ostrich pillow is a travel pillow that looks like a squishy full face helmet in the shape of a bulbous alien head.  It is worn over the head, and is almost completely enclosed except for asmall hole for your mouth and nose so that you do not suffocate.  It also has what looks like the ports on a incubator coming out of either side of it that you can put your hands in.  If you like near complete sensory deprivation while sleeping in public places, you can pick one up on Amazon for only $11.28.

Thank You for listening, I hope you enjoyed the Show.  If you did, please rate the show or leave a review on I tunes.  I will be back in two weeks with the next episode.  If you would like to get in touch in the meantime please send me an email at hangyourhatpodcast@gmail.com.  You can also visit the website hangyourhatpodcast.com.

The Hang your Hat podcast is a production of gerwerkencrafts.com.  That is G-E-R-W-E-R-K-E-N crafts (all one word) .comYou can visit gerwerken crafts for diy, home décor, crafts, tutorials and more.

Note:  This post Contains Affiliate Links.  All opinions are my own.

Episode 5: Won't you be my Neighbor

In this episode I will be discussing the Fair housing act in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, as well as the 2017 Pinterest home trends, and the new best friend of parents with young children, the Octopus Watch.

Picture From: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/06/22/gutting-voting-rights-act-supreme-court-looking-fair-housing-act/

Picture From: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/06/22/gutting-voting-rights-act-supreme-court-looking-fair-housing-act/

Show Notes:

Link to Pinterest 100 for 2017

This Week's Fun Find:  The Octopus Watch

Show Transcript:

Note:  I may not be able to include show transcripts for every episode due to time constraints, but I will try to do so whenever I am able to accommodate the hearing impaired, and those who prefer reading over listening.

Welcome to hang your hat.  Ideas that are close to home.  This is episode 5:  Wont you be my neighbor. 

In this fortnight’s episode I will be giving my opinion on the 2017 Pinterest Trend Report, and in Honor of Martin Luther King Juniorday, I will discuss the passing of the fair housing act, the last big piece of legislation from the civil rights era.  Last, I have a new fun find that everyone with young kids or difficulty managing time should consider buying.

The 2017 Pinterest trend report is out.  Some of the trends I expected, some surprised but delighted me, and some I truly hope they are wrong about.  Lets take a look at the 2017 trends.

Pinterest posted trends from many areas of interest in their100 for 2017 group of pins - I will link to them all in the show notes, but I am only going to cover their 10 home decor released trends.  

First - Indoor Vines.  I think this may be as opposed to other indoor plants, like the Fiddle Leaf Fig, that have been popular in recent years.  I love indoor plants of any kind, including vines, so I was pretty happy to see this trend.  If you are looking to get on the band wagon, a great indoor vine that even works in low light areas is pothos.  My personal favorite is the Neon variety (that is it’s actual name).  It has solid, bright green leaves that start out a bright, almost yellow green, then darken slightly to a still vibrant medium green.  I think it looks far more playful than the dark green or variated varieties that are more common.

Next trend, Navy is the New Black for Home Decor .  I Honestly thought this was a 2016 trend because I have been seeing so much navy used in home decor lately, but I am glad that the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping.   I especially like navy cabinetry.  I have seen it used a lot lately on lower kitchen cabinets with white uppers, which looks great.   The darker lower cabinetry really ground the kitchen, and it doesn’t seem quite as airy as a totally white kitchen, and the navy is a little softer than black, so it doesn’t feel like a starkcontrast with white.

Wood Tile was the next trend.  Wood tile is tile that has been colored and textured to look like wood, and if you haven’t seen it lately, it is actually pretty convincing.  Some of the high end wood tile seems just like wood until you touch it - and then it is far too cold.  I love wood tile for flooring.  In humid areas, like Florida, where I live, it is a really ideal flooring option, because, unlike wood or laminate, it is not damaged when is gets wet.  I was really surprised when I saw the pinterest example of this trend however.  It showed reclaimed wood look tile on a fire place surround, where brick would normally be.  Using reclaimed wood on vertical surfaces felt old a year ago, and using wood look tile rather than reclaimed wood does not freshen up the trend - it makes it worse.  At least reclaimed wood doesn’t have the environmental impact of a newly produced good, but wood tile doesn’t have that going for it.   In my opinion - wood look tile should stay on the floor.

Thank you Fixer Upper for trend #4 - Farmhouse is the new shabby chic.  I love the show fixer upper, they have done some seriously beautiful transformations, and I love the light airy colors mixed with reclaimed cozy decor.  While farmhouse isn’t my favorite decorating style, I can defiantly appreciate it, and I will be glad to see more of it in the coming year.

The next trend was actually the 2016 Oxford English dictionary’s word of the year HOO-gah - spelled Hygee.  HOO-gah is a danish concept that roughly translates to cozy contentment.  You usually see it used to describe scenes with wooly blankets, warm fires, and big cups of coffee.  I like all of the examples of HOO-gah I have seen, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it, but according to the BBC, pinterest may be behind the times.  The new it word is le-gam spelled lagom.  It is a swedish word that translates to just enough or just right.  So look forward to moderation in 2017.

The next trend was Marble Wallpaper.  I don’t like anything about this trend.  First I am not a fan of faux finishes.  Unless they are really well done they usually look cheap.  Second, wall paper is the bane of my existence.  It is expensive, it doesn’t age well, and it is a giant pain in the butt when it needs to be removed.  If you participate in this trend, please, please, please use removable wallpaper.  You will be glad you did in 2018 when marble wallpaper is no longer in fashion.

With small houses becoming more and more popular, I think the next trend, Acrylic Decor, it just going to get more popular throughout 2017.  Since Acrylic is see through, it doesn’t have the same visual weight as opaque furniture, so it appears to take up less space in a room.  This is ideal in small homes that can easily appear overcrowded even with minimal furniture.  My favorite piece of acrylic furniture is a sleek and modern dining room chair.  I think they look especially nice when juxtaposed with a rustic or reclaimed table.

In 2016 gold hardware was all the rage, now Copper is the new gold.  I love both of these hardware finishes, and I am really there are more options for hardware finishes than ever before.  The hardware finish that I am watching for in 2017 is something that is being called silver.  It is mixture of gold and silver, and it looks really unusual and beautiful.  I started seeing it near the end of 2016, and I think we are going to see a lot more of it in 2017.

Heated Floors were the next trend.  As a resident of Florida these were not on my radar at all, but I did a little research on them, and I am now a believer.  Most heated floors use radiant heat.  Radiant heat is more efficient than baseboard heaters, and is usually more efficient than forced air heating (because there is no heat loss through duct work), and unlike forced air systems they don’t kick up allergens.  I am not sure about the costs of radiant heat vs other heating systems, but if the costs are comparable, radiant heat seems like the way to go. 

Ok, last trend for 2017.  This one threw me for a loop, because I don’t understand how this is a trend - so directly from the pinterest 100 for 2017 list:  New Night stands and Tapestries give bedrooms a mini facelift.  I guess the trend is using nightstands and tapestries to update a room, but I don’t know when that has ever not been the case.  Maybe we will see more interesting and inventive nightstands in 2017, which would be welcome. 

Let me know what you think about the 2017 pinterest trends.  You can email me at hangyourhatpodcast.com.

(Recording from LBJ's 1968 Speech on the passing of the Fair Housing Act)

That was Lendon B Johnson, and it was April, 1968.  The Fair Housing Act, the last big Civil Rights Era piece of legislation had just been passed into law,  only a week after the assassination of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.   

The fair housing act made illegal:

  • The Refusal to sell or rent a home to any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin. 
  • Create different terms or conditions for the sale or rental of a home that discriminated based on race, color, religion, or national origin.
  • Advertising the sale or rental of a home in a way that discriminated based on race, color, religion,  or national origin.
  • And keeping someone from enjoying their home by threatening, or intimidating them based on discriminatory reasons or retaliating against a person or organization that promotes fair housing.  

In short, it tried to let people live where they wanted, and enjoy where they lived no matter the color of their skin, their religion, or where they came from.

The fair housing act had been intended to be a follow up to the civil rights act, which had been passed in 1964, but it had been delayed due to contentious debate in the Senate.  It passed the Senate in early April 1968, thanks to the hard work of Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen (who defeated a southern filibuster), and Senator Edward Brooke, who was the first African American elected to the senate by popular vote.  During the senate hearings, Brooke, had shared the story of his own struggle to buy a home he wanted after returning from WW2.

The senate voted to approve the Fair Housing act on April 4, the same day that Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.

The Act then passed to Congress.  President Lyndon Johnson used the civil unrest following Martin Luther King Jr’s death, to pressure congress into passing the Fair Housing Act.  King had been associated with he act from the beginning, and Johnson argued that the passing of the act would be a fitting tribute to the great man.  

Congress passed the act on April 10th, just 6 days after King’s death.  President Johnson signed the act into law the next day, on the 11th.

Since then the fair housing act has been expanded to protect people from discrimination based on sex, disability, and familial status (or the presence of children in the household).  It’s enforcement has also been strengthened.

However, Despite the fact that housing discrimination is now illegal, many neighborhoods in america are still segregated.   And the reasons for the segregation are not always clear.  

One possibility is the wage gap between minorities and whites.  Due to reduced buying power minorities are often concentrated in low income areas.  Minorities that are able to buy in higher income, mostly white, areas often do.  

Self segregation is also a possibility however.  Some minorities chose to live in racially segregated areas.  This is especially true of new immigrants, in places like china towns, who may want to live among people that share their culture or language.  There is also some evidence that African Americans self segregate, but the reasons are less clear.  It could be that primarily white neighborhoods seem less friendly to African Americansthan primarily minority neighborhoods.  It certainly does seem like that might be the case - since whites also self segregate by moving out of neighborhoods when they start to become more racially diverse.  That doesn’t sound like a welcoming attitude to me.

Still, with all of that being said, racial diversity in housing has improved.  We have come a long way from the days of bus boycotts, and forced integration in schools.  As the world becomes more insular, when countries close their doors to refugees, and the disabled are publicly mocked by politations, when random airport screenings are not random, and when the freedom of movement for certain religious groups is threatened, take a moment tothink about all of the progress we have made, and don’t let that progress be lost.  Love your neighbors, whether at home, at work, or even on the bus, appreciate diversity, and remember the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

To end on a lighter note, I have a new fun find, the Octopus watch.  The octopus watch is a smart watch designed for kids, but I think it would be good for anyone that has difficulty with time management and likes fun icons.  It, of course tells time, with icons or a digital or analogue readout, and it is also a scheduler.  When it is time for kids to do things, like feed the dog or brush their teeth, it pops up a little reminder icon.  I think this is great for kids that are still learning tell time, but also like to know what and when things are going in.  I think it helps them feel a bit more in control of the situation, which is really important for some kids.  It also keeps parents from having to constantly remind kids to do things they already know they should be doing, but may not realize it is the correct time to do it.

All of the reactions to this product that I have read so far seem either very positive or very negative.  Some parents, particularly the parents of developmentally disabled kids, really seem to love the Octopus watch, and think it would benefit their kids.  Other’s really seem to hate it.  Many people thought that the watch would take over the parenting of a child.  I’ll admit, this didn’t make sense to me, it is not as if the watch could teach the kids how to do the tasks it is reminding them to do.

I have two kids, if you read the blog, you will know them as the boy and the girl.  The girl has never been bothered by plans or schedules changing on her - she is, as they say, down for whatever.  The boy, on the other hand thrives on routine.  He really likes to know what the plan is and hates deviation from it.

I don’t think this watch would have benefited the girl very much, but the boy would have LOVED this when he was younger.  I think that Knowing that his day was mapped out, and that he would be reminded to do what he was supposed to do when he was supposed to do it wouldwould have relieved a lot of anxiety for him.

The Octopus Watch is currently available for pre order on indiegogo, and costs $69.  They expect it to ship out May 2017.

Thank You for listening, I hope you enjoyed the Show.  If you did, please rate the show or leave a review on I tunes.  I will be back in two weeks with the next episode.  If you would like to get in touch in the meantime please send me an email at hangyourhatpodcast@gmail.com.  You can also visit the website hangyourhatpodcast.com.

The Hang your Hat podcast is a production of gerwerkencrafts.com.  That is G-E-R-W-E-R-K-E-N crafts (all one word) .comYou can visit gerwerken crafts for diy, home décor, crafts, tutorials and more.

Episode 4: One Resolution to Rule them All

Learn how decluttering can make you happier and healthier, save time and money, and even help you loose weight.

Show Notes:

Here are the two books mentioned in the podcast the discuss the clutter weight relationship.

My Favorite Decluttering System:

Note:  This post contains Affiliate Links.  All opinions are my own.

Episode 2: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It's that time of year again.  Get ready for the holiday season with Hang Your Hat.  In this episode I discuss the History of Christmas Cards, and Addresses, a couple of fun finds for the holiday season, and I have a special guest on to talk with me about consumable clutter free gifts that are perfect for everyone on your Christmas list.

Show Notes:

The article referenced in the Christmas Card segment (The Female World of Cards and Holidays: Women, Families, and the Work of Kinship, by Micaela di Leonardo) can be found here.

Episode 1: Thanksgiving

In this - the first full episode of the New Hang Your Hat Podcast - I will be discussing;

  • Early Colonial American Homes,
  • The Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner,
  • The Thanksgiving TV Dinner Connection,
  • Playing host to people with special diets, and
  • The Timing of Shopping During the Holiday Season

If you enjoy the episode please leave a review on iTunes.