Sunday, May 1, 2016

学习刷漆

这两天趁着老婆孩子不在家,把熏黑了的红砖壁炉漆了一下。在这里把研究和实践的心得总结一下,方便自己以后翻阅,也供有这方面需求但跟我一样是新手的朋友们参考。
本文内容包括:

  • 漆的选择
  • 准备工作
  • 刷漆
  • 加分项:做旧
  • 收尾

不说废话,先上前后对比图:



  • 漆的选择

漆按照光泽(sheen)的不同,分为Flat,Eggshell,Satin,Semigloss,gloss好几种。光泽不仅关系美观,更关系耐水性和耐磨性。Flat paint基本不反光,因此有掩盖住表面凹凸的效果,不过不能洗也不经磨。semigloss反光性好,如果有凹凸不平的地方会非常明显,不过它方便水洗,非常耐磨。因此适用于需要频繁接触的地方,比如小孩经常活动的房间。Eggshell和Satin则介于两者之间。gloss非常亮泽,一般不用来刷墙,而是用于漆橱柜,门,窗檐(window trim)等。
对于我要漆的壁炉,我选了两种漆。炉壁因为接触较少,表面也比较粗糙,选了Satin。而壁炉前的台子比较光滑而且还要放东西,所以选择了semigloss。
选择漆的颜色也很重要,不过我不懂美学自然没什么好建议的。有一点,如果你不是全部重漆而是修补一小块地方,你要选跟原来颜色一致的(不是废话么)。要颜色一致的可没那么简单,光白色就有上百种。店里面一般都有涂在纸上的样品,可以拿一些回家对比。更好的办法是撕一小块下来拿到店里让他们帮忙匹配。
至于漆的环保性,则可以考虑选择Zero VOC,即没有易挥发有机物的。甲醛也是一种VOC,Zero VOC也意味着Zero甲醛。至于怎么得出Zero的,美国环保署有相关的检测标准。可以肯定的是,Zero不代表绝对一点都没有。

  • 准备工作

清洁表面;用masking paper和胶带将边缘互相接触的物品表面保护起来。

  • 刷漆

刷漆的工具概括起来就一句话:大块的平坦表面用滚筒(roller),边缘和缝隙用刷子(brush)。roller又包含两个部分,架子(roller frame)和覆盖物(roller cover)。frame本身有不同的尺寸,我因为需要漆的面积小,一个mini roller就搞定了。cover上的绒毛(nap)厚薄不一,粗糙的表面要用厚的(例如3/4英寸以上),细腻的表面则用短的(例如3/8英寸)。买brush的时候也要看好所适用的漆和表面。
有些表面附着漆的能力比较差,直接刷以后很容易掉。这时候先要刷一层primer,这个过程叫做prime。不过现在很多漆是self prime的,可以略过这一步。
刷漆有一些小技巧,比如说,每次从你要刷漆区域靠中间的地方开始,然后再来回漆,把中间厚厚的漆向周围刷匀。刷过的地方不要过一会看着不舒服又过来补一刀,否则表面会变的跟鸡皮疙瘩一样难看。要学习更多技巧,请自行YouTube之。
那要是有不满意的地方怎么办呢?刷漆一般不止刷一遍,而是若干遍。等漆稍微干了之后(不同的漆不一样,我用的漆要等1个小时),再漆一遍,这时候就可以把不喜欢的地方修补过来。
中途休息或者等待漆干的时候,要把滚筒和刷子浸在漆里防止变干。整个漆盘(paint tray,装漆的托盘)最好用锡箔缝起来。刷子使用过程中漆不要浸得太深,否则刷毛根部不好清理影响以后使用。

  • 加分项:做旧

做旧好像是现在很流行的装修方式。如何达到像下图一样,每块砖中间有点暗淡发黄的感觉呢?

是不是比这样不加处理的更有feel一些?

方法很简单,就是把关于sheen的知识活学活用——旧了不就是被磨了之后反光性不好了吗?在缝隙和砖的边缘漆一道反光性更好的漆(semigloss),一对比效果就出来了!
其实,这个效果完全是意外。最后漆完炉台semigloss还剩一些,我就把它涂到缝隙里去了,没想到就产生了这样的效果;)

  • 收尾

清洗工具是最痛苦的一个环节,需要浸泡,清洗多遍还要注意不要弄脏其它的地方。没用完的漆重新盖好,用锤子将盖子边缘敲紧。

最后总结一下。如果是偶尔为之的话,刷漆还是蛮有意思的事情的,既培养耐心,又锻炼身体。最后刷出想要的效果的话,心里还是会暗爽一下的。

附工具清单:

  • 清理表面:砂纸,wipe,vacuum
  • 保护周围环境:masking paper,painter's tape
  • 刷漆:mini roller frame (4''),brush (2''),paint tray,roller cover(3/4'' nap)
  • 其它:手套,锤子

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Nice People I Have Met Here


As a newcomer in California, I have received lots of help from neighbours, colleagues, and most of the times, strangers. These friendly and warm-hearted people have made my life here much easier.

The help I got for my driving is the funniest. Though I had a driver license in China, I had never driven on road before I came here. There were twice when I failed to start my car and I thought the car was broken. I had to find someone hereby to help. They solved my problem gladly, and both of them turned out to be my silly mistake. There was another time when we parked our car on a slope, but we were unable to pull it out later. A young man helped pull our car out, without hesitation.

There are warm-hearted people everywhere. But I am impressed by the fact that people here are so willing to help a stranger, and that their help is often far beyond my expectation.

The first story that came to my mind was when I went to a culture & language training center for English level test. After I finished my test and was about to leave, I met one of their English teachers. We greeted each other and shook hands. He then told me, "American people prefer a strong handshake. When you shake your hands, shake firmly." He demonstrated to me what a firm handshake felt like, and we practised several times until I could make a "proper" handshake. This is a very impressive experience for me, and since then, I never forget to give people a firm handshake.

The second story was about my "shadow interview" experience. In my company, in order to be able to conduct an interview, we first need to be a "shadow interviewer" for several times. During the shadowing, we sit aside, watch the experienced interviewer conducting the interview, and learn from it.
Above is some background. So, I was the shadow interviewer of one of my colleagues that day. After the interview, he told me that we could discuss about the interview later. As the recruitment process finished, I reached out to him for review over the interview. I didn't expect much from the conversation. But he gave me not only details on what he expected from a good candidate and how he rated the interviewee,  but also lots of useful tips. For example, how he decided the boundary between a good candidate and a bad candidate, how he controlled the timing through communication. We spent about half an hour on the conversation, but I am sure the knowledge and experience I gained from the conversation will help and inspire me through my tech career.

I have been here for almost one year, and I am so grateful for all the help I received in this year. Deep in my mind, I always believe that being kind and warm-hearted to each other is the default state of human relationship, and the experiences here reinforces my believe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

美国报税初体验


前几天打开网银的时候,发现一个月前提交的退税已经通过,打到银行账户里了。当时激动了一小会——不是因为白花花的银子,而是因为整个报税过程都是靠我自己查资料,读文档,请教别人完成的,没有用报税软件,更没有找CPA。退税成功,算是对我学习成果的肯定吧!

报税本身并不难。政府提供的报税文档非常的全面、严谨、精确,填表格的时候,就像执行程序一样,按照机器指令一步步走下去就行了。这个程序还是经过充分测试的程序,基本不会遇到文档没有覆盖到的情况。可以说,只要读得懂高中水平的英文,会加减乘除就能够自己完成报税了。

麻烦的地方在于文档很多。填写主表(如1040,1040NR等)之前,你先得读很长的文档,大概确定你可以填哪种表,以什么状态(单身,已婚分开报税,已婚联合报税,等等)报税,哪一种对你比较划算。对于第一年来美国的人,选择太多,这是比较繁琐的事情。

每个报税的主表都有一个很长的文档与之对应。一项一项往下走,每一项你都可以在文档里找到相应的指南(instructions)。有的项又需要填写附表,附表又有相应的文档。有的项,例如州税减免项(deduction),你可以选择根据所得税减免(income tax),也可以选择根据消费税减免(sales tax)。如果你想要最优化,还得尝试两种情况取较优者。

可见,整个报税过程就是繁重的读文档工作。正因为复杂,所以才有各种付费的报税软件,个人报税的CPA应运而生。政府也有部门免费提供报税帮助,但不知道效率,效果如何。

话又说回来,考虑到社会阶层的多样性,为了保证收入公平分配,还要引导消费,这种复杂性可能是很难避免的。

国内的个税基本是按照收入来源分类征收的,工薪,个体经营所得采用分级税率,而股息,红利,“偶然所得”,则是固定比例(20%),按次收税。这种方式好处是简单,容易从源头扣税,无需个人介入。坏处是,两个人年收入一样,但是收入来源不一样,最后应交税收是不一样的。比如,当工资收入到达一定水平后,税收比例已经远远超过了20%。这时候只有工资收入的人,交的税要比还有固定比例税率收入的人高出很多。

美国个税则不管收入来源,按照年总收入报税。这样就没有了来源不同个税不同的问题。随之而来的问题就是,该扣多少税无法在你获得收入的时候确定。联邦政府会预扣款(tax withholding),个人完成报税之后再多退少补。因为是个人自己报税,这就要求多少有一些个税的知识。另外,每个人的收入来源很难、因此也不可能去逐一核查,所以报多少税,多少依赖于个人的自觉,也依赖于美国的信用体系在背后的支撑。

美国个税另外一个很大的不同点是收多少税是跟你的家庭情况,消费方式相关的。举几个例子:(1),已婚人士可以先选择夫妻联合报税,以家庭为单位计算总收入,相应的免税额度就会提高,各个阶梯税率的起点也会提高;(2),每多一个dependent(例如孩子),免税额度就会增加3900刀;(3),如果低收入者选择参加养老计划,会根据参保金额给予很大的税收优惠。等等。

前段时间读到国内的新闻,提到中国也将逐步实现从分类税制向综合税制的转变。相信这是经济社会体制深入改革的必然趋势吧。

Sunday, July 27, 2014

San Jose Public Library

I have been to San Jose Public Library's Alviso Branch Library many times. The library is located at a quiet place at the north end of North 1st Street. You can simply walk in and read any book you like. And if you want to borrow books home, you can get a library card immediately with a photo ID. It is a small library and most of its books are for children and teenagers, but it turns out that the teen books are just the right level for me - neither too difficult nor too easy.

Alviso Branch is just one of the more than 20 branches of San Jose Public Library. It is great to have many branches since parents can easily find a close one for their children. Today (Jul. 26), for the first time, I visited the main library - King Library.
The library has eight floors

and lots of books and computers.

Besides books and computers, there are group study rooms available which you can reserve for free.
Beethoven Center is at the 5th floor.
Lots of his manuscripts and advertisement for his show.
These panios are from beethoven's era. They have different keyboard from today's piano.
Everyday, lots of events are on-going in the library. Many of them are offered by volunteers, and you can get the list of them from their website. As an interesting example, there is a mini-concert on Tuesday demonstrating the differences between classic pianos and mordern pianos.
I wish someday in China, even in medium and small cities, there will be public libraries avaliable, with lots of people learning from the library, and contributing to the library.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Biking in Bay Area

One of the cool things to do in Bay Area is biking. The nice weather and bicycle-friendly road system make it a wonderful sport here.

Many roads here have designated bike lanes. Beyond that, there are lots of bike trails, which only bicycles and pedestrians are allowed to enter.

The first time I rode on a bike trail, I was surprised by how professional it is. Not only has it yellow lines to mark opposing sides of the trail, but it also has solid and dotted yellow lines, lots of signs, just as roads for vehicles!
In fact, just as driving a vehicle, there are detailed rules for biking too, including hand signals, special rules for biking at night, etc.

Even with nice weather and bicycle-friendly road system, biking could be boring if the trails are around tall buildings, or crowded communities. Fortunately, that is not true here. Lots of trails are along rivers, coasts, around and inside parks. So there are lots of scenic views you can see.

Just as an example, the Bay Trail is one of my favourite trails. I took these photos last weekend with my old iPhone 4 when biking.

My plan right now is to ride every weekend, and to visit as many trails as I can!




Sunday, June 22, 2014

California, here I am!

Hi California,

It has been 10 months since I came to your place from China. So far, I enjoy almost everything you offer here - nice weather, less pressure, friendly & warmhearted people, and awesome workplace! The new things I am experiencing everyday make me feel energetic!

I know, from your eyes, I am fresh and odd. I can't greet people in a natural way. I don't understand many jokes while other people are laughing. My English is good only for work occasions.

But you are tolerant enough to accept an odd one. You are so open-minded, so multicultural since the day you were born. That is the key to your charm, and I love the way you are.

As to me, I am learning, I am experiencing, I am thinking, I am practicing - not to change myself, but to better know myself, to better understand people around me, to build a better world for everyone of us. I use this blog to share what I have learned, what I have experienced, what I have thought about, what I have practiced, with you. And I know, you would love to read it.

I am not sure how long I will stay here with you. But I am pretty sure, the days I am here with you will be one of the most important parts of my life, and this blog, will witness my love story with you.
17 Mile Drive