Thursday, June 14, 2012

Potpourri: Big Homes, Advertising, Recycling

I have a backlog of interesting items on various topics that I'm condensing for this post.

Big homes: I was distressed to learn that, in spite of all the favorable press small homes have been receivingespecially the ultra-small "tiny houses,"people are opting for larger new homes. From The Wall Street Journal:

"KB Home says the average square footage of houses currently under contract is 2,079, an increase of 13% from last year. And more KB buyers are picking models that exceed 3,500 square feet...The return to bigger houses—which has taken industry watchers by surprise—indicates that the housing downturn paused, but didn't kill, America's love affair with supersize abodes...A major driver behind the bigger-home trend is record-low interest rates, under 4% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which allow some buyers to move up without necessarily making larger mortgage payments."

Advertising: Soon there will be no escape from advertising. Here's the warning from the LA Times:

"A company called Novo Ad has developed technology that can turn a public bathroom mirror into an electronic display for video advertisements...The mirrors are actually LED screens that have an internal hard disk and "very sophisticated proprietary software," according to a spokesman for the company."

The technology hasn't arrived yet in the U.S., but efforts are being made to find partners and advertisers to get it here as quickly as possible.

Recycling: On a cheerier note, in the Netherlands, recycling has been elevated to a new level of cultural awareness and change. The New York Times reports from Amsterdam about the "Repair Cafe" phenomenon:

"Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend holey clothing and revivify old coffee makers, broken lamps, vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as at least one electric organ, a washing machine and an orange juice press...'The Repair Cafe is an effective way to raise awareness that discarded objects are indeed still of value,' Mr. Joop Atsma [the state secretary for infrastructure and the environment] wrote in an e-mail...Marjanne van der Rhee, a Repair Cafe volunteer who hands out data collection forms and keeps the volunteers fortified with coffee, said: 'Different people come in. With some, you think, maybe they come because they’re poor. Others look well-off, but they are aware of environmental concerns. Some seem a little bit crazy.'"

I like the Repair Cafe idea, but I may be a little bit crazy.