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Archive for March, 2014

Surfaces and Areas Explained

YOU are the creative one when it comes to designing your home and the décor within it. So it is you that you have to rely on to do it in such a way that you and others find it desirable and that what you do stands the test of time.

The area you decorate or the piece of furniture you choose to refinish must be done correctly in order to have achieved your highest expectations. Where it creates a lasting impression for all who see it. And that it is a comforting place to be.

There is nothing to be gained by a poorly thought out plan which results in your living room being painted a color you really don’t like or in the furnishings you have chosen for your décor. Common sense is all that is actually needed. Although it doesn’t hurt to know a little about the surfaces and specific areas themselves.

As far as I am concerned – concerning a modern home, there are only two trains of thought when it comes to finishing any one surface or space. They are Traditional and Contemporary.

Within each discipline there is a wide variety of surface types.  The field narrows when we consider the type of area or space. An example: A double-wide manufactured home has a bathroom. So does a thirty-room mansion – in fact many more than one. The style of design and décor would be different.

The use of traditional finishes is rooted in the history of family empires of the past, where they ruled vast kingdoms. The great Austrian Hapsburg empire comes to mind.  Those rulers, because of their notoriety, great wealth and influence, amassed  a multitude of possessions. They acquired lands further than they could see. Many would say that would require both an immense arrogance and wisdom to realize that dream. In any sense they demanded the best for what the times had to offer. The best in materials and in men.

As to material, they purchased the finest in stone, wood and even glass. The men chosen to do the work were highly paid. They were highly specialized and skillful craftsmen. They provided specially-designed decorative finishes to simulate and enhance the building and the decorating process. If you’ve ever seen the interior of an estate palace, you know exactly what I mean.

The contemporary finishing realm, relating to surfaces and area, can be considered a great deal more creative. At least when it comes to the use of color. It’s been much more highly expressive, since the 1960′s.

Presently, as with traditional, there is an endless variety of masonry products and woods from which to choose. In addition, there is also an array of metals, plastics and simulated wood products available for home design and décor today.

What, then, are we concerned about when it relates to the modern

In the non-traditional style, an office could be designed with floor-to-ceiling paneled walls, with beveled and multi-stepped base boards and crown moldings. They would be finished in a moderately dark, wood-tone stain and varnish application. With traditional, the room might be finished in approximately the same way. However, there would be the added element of extensive ornamental wood carving and molding designs.

When speaking of surfaces, you have to ask: What is the craftsperson/artisan trying to achieve? Considerations include knowing the use of color, texture, brightness, reflectance, and transparence to convey interior and exterior design schemes in a visual perspective.

Is it to your liking or taste? Like many things, it is an individual choice. The goal, of course – once the area to be decorated is selected – is to know this: What will be the purpose of the space? What is its intended use?

I am in no way pretending to be an interior designer or decorator. They know the field with a precision I have yet to master. I am speaking from the painter’s or applicator’ view point.

Within your chosen area, there are specific variables, which either allow or constrict you to create specific schemes of decor. These parameters will stipulate what you can actually do, They include the following: size of room, natural light source,  number of entry ways and windows, and traffic flow/flow path of visitors or guests.  As these issues are noted, the context of the room can be decided.

For our purposes, let’s use a living room which is a common example. Generally a living room, which is designed universally as a place for social gathering, has an overall dimension which covers the entire walking space of the room. Large furnishings would be placed against the walls. An assortment of upholstered chairs might be arranged in a way that would enhance face-to-face personal contact.  Then facets such as lighting, paintings, photographs, brisk-a-brack and even antiques would be displayed according to personal choice.

The types of surfaces, and methods of finishing them, are just as numerous as the types of spaces which are decorated. In a living room project which I had finished, the owner was seeking a tropical design motif. To work out the fine points, he had employed an interior designer.

In my role, I designed and painted two murals on each side of the room, and above a  dropped ceiling crown. Since it was tropical, the painting and decorating work consisted of the simulation of tropical leaved and flowering plants – along with palm type trees.

When the project was completed, there was a wall-to-wall jungle cat fur designed carpet, with live large-leafed palm trees placed at specific positions along the walls. The furnishings, a number of upholstered chairs and lounges, were designed and upholstered in simulated African animal patterns. The end result left? One felt as if he were in the middle of a wild tropical jungle. The final furnishing was an imported 8-foot long table top, made from a Banyan Tree. It was a sight to see.

Remember: Your inspiration and creativity are the doorway to a beautifully appealing home or business environment. And don’t forget, it can be a surface or an area that can serve to instill pride in wherever you live!

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Have a great day. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Special Thanks to Good Samaritan Hotel/Motel General Managers – and Staffs!

Kissimmee, Florida – In January and February of 2014, The Osceola News-Gazette published a series of articles about the “homeless problem” in Osceola County, Florida. The Op-Ed piece here was submitted to the editor for publication in “YOUR VIEW.” The cover letter, shorter in length, made it on page 5 of the Saturday, March 15 edition. The submission/blog that follows here did not. It’s being posted here, because “Good Samaritan” hotel general managers and their staffs live around the world. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks to the help of a caring group of hotel and motel general managers (GMs), and staffs, along U. S. 192 in Osceola County, countless numbers of homeless families – many with young children – have been sheltered, fed, clothed, and protected since the economic downturn started in 2007.

During the last seven years, these Good Samaritans have lent helping hands with humility, respect, discretion, and tact. They have supported their ‘homeless residents” in the ways they could, to help them in efforts to survive and to get their lives back on track.

The GMs and staffs have offered homeless individuals and families a place to call “home,” at least temporarily. They’ve provided affordable housing – single or double room, or two-room suite – with essential utilities (electric, water, sewer, phone). They’ve included basic accommodations such as beds and cots, showers and tubs, air conditioner and heating systems, refrigerators with small freezers, and microwaves.

They’ve offered a solid roof, walls, and floors to protect these struggling individuals and families from dangerous rains and lightening, extreme heat and humidity, and brutal cold. A place where they felt safe and secure. A place, and persons, that they could trust to protect them THEN, while seeking more suitable temporary and permanent housing. A place where their children, under parental supervision, could roam, play and explore the world outside of their cramped, temporary habitats. A place where these individuals and families could leave their few remaining possessions, while they looked for work, or tried to hold onto the jobs they did have.

Many times, I saw signs, and heard about, ways that the general manager of our hotel was extending a helping hand to our “homeless residents.”  Far beyond the ordinary and the expected. Sometimes to the dismay of officials with the property management company.

The GM did what he could do to help them “make do” – stretch whatever income and savings they did have. For example, he extended their room rental agreements at little or no extra charge. He reduced their room or suite rates, whenever possible. Knowing him, it’s likely that he let some homeless families stay free.

At least for short periods of time. He arranged for or approved little acts of kindness, that only the staff member(s) involved knew about. At certain holiday times, such as Christmas, he saw that all of the homeless children found small bags of special treats at their doors. Consistently, he showed the same high level of respect for these “homeless residents,” as he did toward our regular hotel guests. And, he encouraged, even supported, his staff members to do the same.

Over a course of six years, and since, I’ve heard some impressive, heart-warming stories about hotel and motel general managers and staffs along U. S. 192. (Elsewhere, too.) Examples of appropriate acts of what I call “humanitarianism for the homeless.”

One GM arranged, when possible, for left-over food and meals from the food court and main kitchen to be boxed, then delivered to his homeless families’ rooms. He had small bags of groceries and packages of snack foods (chips, crackers, cookies, candy, gum) left at their doors. Containers of milk and juice appeared miraculously at their doors, or inside room refrigerators. Extra blankets were put on beds and cots as the temperatures dropped outside.

In the fall, a GM recruited staff to help fill smaller backpacks with activity items, boxes of juice, and packages of snack foods and nutrition bars for homeless children, too young to attend school. The GM’s staff at another hotel donated ingredients, then baked and boxed dozens of Christmas cookies for each “homeless family” staying there.

One GM and staff scouted around for the clothing sizes of all of their “homeless residents”  (children-to-adult), and saw that each got a nice warm winter jacket.

During the last few months, different government agencies and non-profit organizations have reported the number of homeless families that have been living in Osceola hotels and motels. Their representatives and spokespersons have reported on the impact of these “homeless residents” on the leisure and hospitality business economy in the county. Yes, a major challenge!

They’ve reported the rate of unemployment. They’ve estimated the number of jobs added in the county. They’ve estimated the number of entry-level jobs available, and their pay scales. They’ve cited the average household earnings, where only one person worked full-time. And, they’ve explained the huge disparity between household gross earnings, and essential cost-of-living expenses. (A prevailing problem in most areas, worldwide.)

What these entities and their spokespersons have not done, to my knowledge, is acknowledge the tremendous service provided, during these very tough economic times, by many GMs and their staffs at hotels and motels along U. S. 192.  Nor have they offered any commendations, public or private, to these special Good Samaritans – “Humanitarians for the Homeless” (my term).

Last December, while at the St. Cloud library, a man approached me. “Do you recognize me?” he asked. He said that his family of four had stayed at my hotel on West U. S. 192. And, he gave me this little update. . .

“Thanks for making our homeless situation bearable,” he said. “We never would have made it, were it not for the people at your hotel. The general manager on down. Everyone treated us with dignity and kindness. By the way, my wife and I both have full-time jobs now. We rent a house here, and were able to finance half on a newer used car. Tell your GM and everyone there a big thanks.”

The Osceola News-Gazette’s series, particularly the February 13 article, “Homeless on 192” and “Our View” editorial, “One homeless child. . .” struck a chord. They reminded me of something that a “homeless resident” at the hotel explained in 2012. . .

“ ‘Homeless people want to feel that they deserve to have a home like everyone else. And, staying at the hotel serves that need. It’s not a house, but it’s a home. . . for now.’ ”

Food for thought: The hospitality and tourism industry, in Florida, is on the upswing. To help it along, some hoteliers are accepting only advance credit-card bookings. No walk-in credit card or cash reservations. Who might that keep out?  The distance traveler, who shows up unshaven, and wearing a faded shirt and torn jeans? The couple who pays with cash versus credit card (plastic or mobile app)? The individual or family that appears to be homeless, but isn’t? The individual or families that appear to be homeless, and are?

Robert Hajtovik * * * * * * * * * * * * Thanks for visiting.

A Painter’s View of Mold and Mildew: Part 1

Under normal conditions, most of us would not expect mold and mildew to interfere with a painting job. Instead, we might find sanding to do, maybe a few nicks in the wall to spackle, and possibly some dust to remove.

For a painter, surface preparation is always an essential part of a quality paint job. Still, on inspection, the presence of mold indicates that painting will have to be postponed, until the area is cleansed properly.

The presence of bacterial growth, especially in a room of one’s home, would make most people cringe, and walk away. However, if one views it in a safe way, then cleaning it will be of little trouble.

For certain, I recommend wearing snuggly-fitting long rubber gloves, a paper hazard suit, eye goggles, and an organic vapor respirator. Especially, when there is quite a bit to remove. By the way, you do not want any of the solution and/or vapors to seep into any part of your body.

As far as products go, bleach appears to be the most effective, affordable, and readily available product. When it comes to using a healthy and safe product, bleach is not the choice by far. Get online/on the internet, and you will find a variety of organic and non-volatile mold and mildew removal products that can be mixed with water.

As I found out the hard way, cleaning mold, when using a respirator, is ineffective sometimes. If you are going to be doing a lot of mold and mildew removal with bleach, your best bet is to use a fresh-air supply respirator system. This will ensure that bleach will not get in your eyes and/or in your lungs.

My preferred method of mold and mildew removal is to use a garden sprayer to apply a chemical solution to the affected surfaces. When the mold is very heavy, I recommend spraying two applications, with about a five-minute interval between the applications.

As this is done, a towel or sponge can be used to wipe the areas where the mold is releasing at a slower rate. As this is taking place, it is then a good idea to have a fan on to circulate the air in the room. After the mildew has disappeared, it will take some time for the odor to dissipate. So, be patient.

During the time that you are cleaning mildew, watch for the physical symptoms that the mildew and/or especially the chemical (bleach) solution is affecting you. Look for watering and/or burning eyes, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, and skin rashes. Mentally, you may notice disorientation, lack of focus, and confusion. If you notice any of these, and/or any other unusual, symptoms, get out of the environment. Be safe and be careful.

As far as products are concerned, there are many available options. Yet, only very few have the effectiveness of bleach, without the toxicity.

The first, Moldstat, is a concentrated peroxide-based cleaner, and it is very effective. Next, Molderizer is an organic remover, sold in five-gallon containers, and is also concentrated. The last, Vital-Oxide, is a antimicrobial and disinfectant. This product contains chlorine dioxide, which is said to have little odor.

Of the three, I prefer Moldstat. You can make up to twenty-one gallons of solution per package of concentrate. That makes it extremely cost-effective.

As you may know, painting is secondary to removing mold or mildew from an infected area. Yet, once this is completed, you may need to repair the surface of the wall, or even cut out sections of drywall that were severely affected, and replace the drywall.

When it’s okay to paint, get out your primer and/or finish. Brush where you need to brush – eg. corners, tight spots, around window and door frames. Then, roll the paint on to bring your walls back to life.

The presence of mold and/or mildew is a certainty, as long as the conditions for its existence are met. And, at certain times of the year with temperature change, and higher humidity, the mold and mildew are going to grow.

Important footnote: It is prudent to use all protective gear that is provided, or available. Every time that you must expose yourself to mold and mildew.

By the way, there are many employees who, as part of their jobs, are exposed to mold and mildew, and a bleach product to clean it. Especially, in prolonged hot and humid environmental conditions.Often, they are not properly equipped, through safety precautions, which can protect their health in the long run.

Bottom line: Mold and mildew must be handled – remediated – before any painting or finishing can be done.

Thanks for stopping by. And, stay safe!

Bob the Painter

Both Experienced Engineers: Right Men for the Job

During my “hotel painter” career, I’ve had the good fortune to work under two very knowledgeable, highly-skilled directors of engineering. Men who thought clearly, problem-solved promptly and effectively, and managed their teams professionally.

“T” leaned toward the corporate-delegative management style. “B” represented the hands-on, we-can-do-it-ourselves management style.

Here’s my capsule view of what made each man the right person for the job. . .

“T” took a pro-active, organized approach. He managed the engineering department, and met the engineering operations and maintenance needs of every system and department, based on a well-conceived plan. Aimed at maximizing positive results.

He anticipated, then addressed predictive, preventive and emergency situations and problems. He assessed, planned, scheduled, and executed every project according to strict time, budget and manpower parameters. And, he applied a projectile for minimizing the potential for avoidable, repeat shut-downs and break-downs of facilities, systems, equipment, machinery, etc.

Strategically, he delegated responsibility for completion of any given project to whichever group – internal or external – that could provide the best, most cost-containing results.

Actively, he maintained a huge network, across trade and industry lines. One that enabled him to access whatever resources he and his department needed to handle any challenge.

He ran a tight ship. He expected close adherence to company policies, departmental procedures, time and budget limits, and job requirements.

From each person on the team, “T” expected loyalty, courtesy, honesty, and accountability. And, he returned the same in kind. He kept everyone in the loop. Also, he kept his team members informed of managerial and company changes, decisions and activities. Especially, those that affected them, and their – our – engineering department.

He promoted teamwork, and maximized the chance for individual and team success. He invited suggestions and input. He encouraged open dialogue. And, in all areas, he stressed manpower, resource, environmental, and cost conservation.

“B” took a more basic approach, which allowed ample room for flexibility, thinking-on-his-feet, and a very quick response. He was a master at troubleshooting and problem-solving.

He knew, instinctively, how to operate the hotel’s engineering department, and every engineering operating and maintenance system on the property, on a bone-dry budget. With “0” time allotment. He was a master at recycling: parts, supplies, and equipment. He was a master at “making due” with what he had.

He knew what management expected, and with what they’d be satisfied. He knew what guests wanted and needed, and what they would not accept.

He knew what every man under him was capable of doing. He pushed each one to his limit: physically, intellectually, creatively, etc. He let each man do his job. He knew what each needed to do it. And, he tried to see that those needs were supplied.

He required high energy, immense flexibility, loyalty, a common sense approach, and a total commitment. He expected, and got, total teamwork and complete cooperation from every man.That included assisting him, sometimes on very short notice, to handle whatever emergency situation arose. That included switching tasks or projects without notice.

One thing, in particular, won “B” high marks from his men. He led by example, never asking any worker to do what he was not willing to do himself. Dig a WI-FI trench; work five hours on a 100 plus degree, sun-exposed rooftop to replace a kitchen fan system; spray toxic bed bug chemical treatments. He was totally unafraid to get in the trenches with his men. Literally!

Recently, a relative asked if I’d work again under either man when given the chance. “Yes,” I answered. Good bosses deserve that kind of a following. And, good employees deserve those kinds of good bosses, too.

Clearly, both “T” and “B” earned my utmost respect, loyalty and cooperation. Each man stretched my skills and abilities. Each challenged my stamina and endurance. Each supported my strong work ethic; high production-and-detail-oriented style; project scheduling and prioritizing system; and, need for new opportunities, new ways to serve. And, each defended my value to the department.

Both treated me as a craftsman, and an important contributor to the organization. Both  taught me about running an engineering department under very tight budget, time, inventory, and manpower constraints. Both taught me how to help keep a hotel’s engineering operations and maintenance systems running, moving, humming, clicking, and breathing as efficiently and effectively as possible.

And, both showed me, by example, how to still walk out smiling, at the end of the day!

Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your day, and everyone with whom you come in contact.

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