Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sugar Time (time travel tales in audiobook format)

Looking for an exciting new audio adventure?

Want to travel to new places and old times?

Have a yen for sabre tooth tigers and cave bear?

Are you just tired of bodies in your freezer?

Sugar Time, written by Joy V. Smith, is an audio time travel adventure featuring a full cast, music and sound effects.


  • Order Sugar Time directly from Hadrosaur
  • Friday, December 29, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "'If you look to your left,' [Colin] said, 'you should be able to see the house.'

    I caught a brief , tantalizing glimpse of crenellated battlements looming above the trees like a lost set from a Frankenstein movie before the car swung around a curve, bringing us into full view of the house.  Built of a creamy-colored stone, the house was what the papers might call 'a stately pile,' a square central section with the usual classical adornments, with a smaller wing sticking out on either side of the central block.  It was a perfectly normal eighteenth-century gentleman's residence, and exactly what one would expect the Purple Gentian to have lived in.  There were no battlements.

    [The battlements were on an ancient keep nearby.]

    ...'So this is the library.'

    ...never had a room so resembled popular preconception.  The walls were panelled in rich, dark wood....  A whimsical iron staircase curved to the balcony, ...  sheer number of books, row upon row....

    Downstairs, where I stood with Colin, the shelves made way for four tall windows, ..., all hung with rich red draperies checked with blue, in the obverse of the red-flecked blue carpet.  On the west wall, the bookshelves surrendered pride of place to a massive fireplace, topped with a carved hood to make Ivanhoe proud, and large enough to roast a serf.

    In short, the library was a Gothic fantasy.

    My face fell.

    'It's not original.'

    'No, ...,' said Colin.  'The entire house was gutted not long before the turn of the century. ...'"

    From The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig 

    Thursday, December 28, 2006

    Designing Kitchen Storage (link)

    "...efficient and ample storage space has become a key issue in most remodeling projects, especially in the kitchen. Providing enough storage in a remodeled kitchen begins with some careful planning, says Daniel Baumann, owner of Design/Build Technology Inc., in Minnetonka, Minn. He has no special formulas for figuring storage needs but does rely on a three-step process as follows:

    1. Perform accurate as-built drawings of the existing kitchen facility.
    2. Take inventory of items now being stored in the kitchen. ...       3. Do a needs-and-wants analysis of the elements [you] would like included in the new kitchen.

    For more: Design Ideas : Kitchens : Getting an Accurate Read on Kitchen Storage : HGTVPro.com

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "Darcy laughed and escorted his aunt and relatives up the stairs.  They entered a room painted in the palest of lemon and edged with a creamy white plaster wainscoting artfully shaped in the form of twining ivy vines and roses.  The hearth's mantel was also faced in the same manner, the sides rising to enclose a magnificent mirror, which caught and reflected the airiness of the room and the delicate chandeliers of gold and crystal.  Designed by the late Lady Ann, the Salon had the happy capacity to project warmth in cold seasons and refreshing coolness in summer and thus was one of the favorite gathering places in the house."

    From Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aidan

    Monday, December 25, 2006

    Living with Ed (HGTV)

    "TV and movie actor Ed Begley, perhaps the greenest man in Tinsel Town, rides his electric car to the Academy Awards and powers his home with the sun and his stationary bike. But Living with Ed and his environmentalist passion isn't always a walk in the park for wife, Rachelle. This first-of-its-kind reality green show chronicles life with an earth-friendly fanatic with humor and heart."

    Watch Living with Ed Sundays 10pm e/p. Catch a sneak peek, Monday, Jan. 1, right after the Rose Parade! 

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "Green Moon Mall stands along Green Moon Road, between old-town Pico Mundo and its modern western neighborhoods.  The huge structure, with walls the color of sand, had been designed to suggest humble adobe construction, as though it were a home built by a family of gigantic Native Americans averaging forty feet in height.

    ...this curious attempt at environmentally harmonious but deeply illogical architecture, ...

    In a corner of the vast parking lot, ... stands Tire World.  Here the architecture is more playful.

    The single-story building supports a tower crowned by a giant globe.  This model of Earth, rotating lazily, seems to represent a world of peace and innocence...

    Like Saturn, this planet sports a ring, not of ice crystals and rocks and dust but of rubber.  Encircling the globe is a tire that both rotates and oscillates."

    From Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    10 best real estate books of 2006 (link)

    1. "Trump-Style Negotiation," by George Ross (John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ), $24.95, 259 pages. This unique book offers insights into Donald J. Trump's big-thinking negotiation style, which leaves the contract details to his trusted adviser, George Ross. Only serious real estate buyers, sellers, real estate agents and investors will study this extremely well-written book that reveals negotiation tactics not found elsewhere, illustrated with many actual examples from Trump acquisitions.

    For more books on the list, visit Bob Bruss' website: Bob Bruss Real Estate Center  (He has five honorable mention books also.)

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Green remodeling (link)

    "The increased cost of heating and cooling America's homes has gotten a lot of press lately, and consumer publications have had plenty of articles about DIY projects to help reduce those costs in individual houses. After all, homes in most climates require space heating, air conditioning or both, and the majority of the fuels we use to heat and cool our homes come from limited resources. The concept of green building is top of mind for many new-home builders, but green remodeling seems to be less common."

    For more: News : Trends : The High-Performance Remodeled House : HGTVPro.com

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    House art you may never see

    In an article on the restoration of the Daniel Angell Tavern in the February issue of Early American Life, the writer mentions the discovery of signatures--probably of the building's original carpenters--and two portraits, drawn in wet plaster, of Native Americans--presumably also done by workmen--on sheathing under plaster upstairs. 

    This reminded me of the artwork and messages done by the workmen at our house on the drywall, which was interesting and fun.  (I'm sorry I didn't photograph it.  There are photos with the tavern restoration article.)

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    13 symbols of Christmas

    In Provence, the gros souper on Christmas Eve usually ends with 13 desserts, a tradition traced back to the 18th century or earlier, which is said to represent Christ and the 12 apostles.  Desserts include figs, raisins, almonds, and walnuts which represent the robe colors of the Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, and Augustinian orders.  The white and dark nougats may represent good and evil.  There are also dates, seasonal fruits, and specialty items that vary from town to town.  The desserts, usually accompanied by vin cuit (a sweet wine), are served at the same time and everyone tastes a little of each.

    From Saveur: Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine (December 2006 issue) 

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Yakitate!! Japan

    Yakitate!!  Japan is a Japanese comic book (food manga), which is now available in English in the US.  Vol. 2 will be released here this month.  (This is from the November issue of Saveur, so the English-language edition should be available now.)  Kazuma Azuma, the hero, wants to be a baker, and the comic includes recipes, along with the action of traditional comics.  There's a sample strip in Saveur, and they're written to be read right to left, top to bottom.  Looks like fun.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Remodeling your bathroom (link)

    "Bathroom remodelers come across them all the time — clients with champagne dreams and jug-wine budgets. Design magazines have given them lots of renovation ideas, but they're shocked when they see just how much all those features add to their project's bottom line."  For more info on how to spend your money wisely: Design Ideas : Bathrooms : Big Ideas for Small Bath Budgets : HGTVPro.com 

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    Tiny kitchen

    In the November 2006 issue of Saveur: Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine, is an article on a couple coping with a really small kitchen: Small Wonder ("This diminutive kitchen has everything a cook could want.") 

    Actually, I don't think so, but they live in an apartment in Manhattan, which they remodelled.  They use frosted glass cabinets to add depth; and Plexiglass covers part of a remaining wall to suggest greater space.  They have only the basic small appliances, including a blender and a half size food processor.  Cutting boards on the stove give them more counter room, and they prepare ingredients on a large table in the living room.  They have a narrow fridge, so they buy fresh produce daily, and they buy ingredients that come in small packages.  They cook in shifts in the 24" Verona oven, and for large parties, they serve hors d'ouevres and simple snacks, though they cook full dinners for small groups.

    It sounds as if they do more entertaining in their little space than I do in my big kitchen (which I'm grateful for)!

     

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Building a Cool House... is hot!

    Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is now #5 on this Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Noble.com Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    It was Reviewer's Choice in the February 2005 Small Press Bookwatch (Midwest Book Review): MBR: Small Press Bookwatch, February 2005

    Here's the review:

    In Building A Cool House For Hot Times Without Scorching The Pocketbook, author Joy Smith draws upon her on-site personal experience with the building process involved in constructing her own home. This slender, 61-page book reveals what she learned about the thousands of decisions that must be made in order to build within a budget as illustrated by diary excepts, photos, and more. A chronological compendium of events and practical advice from planning, to "punch list", Building A Cool House For Hot Times Without Scorching The Pocketbook will prove an invaluable read for anyone contemplating building (or remodeling) their own home.

     

    Building a better nail (link)

    Dr. Nail vs. the Monster

    By Tom Clynes

    In 1995 a Clemson University graduate student named Ed Sutt took off for a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Caribbean. ...  Hurricane Marilyn had just torn through St. Thomas, and Sutt was part of a team examining how and why 80 percent of the island’s homes and businesses had collapsed in the storm’s 95mph winds. 

    ...  As Sutt moved through the wreckage of roofless and toppled-over houses, he was struck by the sense that much of the destruction could have been avoided. “In house after house,” he says, “I noticed that it wasn’t the wood that had failed—it was the nails that held the wood together.”

    Link: PopSci's Best of What's New 2006

    Saturday, December 9, 2006

    Black is the new holiday color

    Yep, we're talking about Christmas.  "Black is so holiday," says a designer in No Bah Humbug Here (by Helena Oliviero/Cox News Service), an article in today's real estate section.  "From Atlanta's Phipps Plaza to Target, ... [it] is making a splashy debut this season."  You can buy an artificial white tree and spray paint it black; and you can put gold, silver, or clear ornaments on it.  And there are black ribbons, black and silver ornaments, and even penguin shaped ornaments.  The black Christmas tree's trendy roots go back to last year in England...  Remember that this is a fad; next year it might be purple.

    Friday, December 8, 2006

    Tile style

    Another interesting article (a product guide) in the January issue of Log Home Living is Tile Revolution; it has a chart with illustrations and descriptions, including pros and cons of tile choices.  There are more options available now, such as Edge Precision Tiles, which has a pre-attached backerboard.  There's a roll-out underlayment mat and the tiles interlock so you don't need spacers.  The grout comes in a spray can that has a nozzle sized to match the gap between the tiles.  There are better looking and easier choices now.  And as the article says, ("...Vinyl is no longer a dirty word.)"   

    Wednesday, December 6, 2006

    Remodeling for resale

    Washington/December 1, 2006/PRNewswire/ — The resale value of many remodeling projects has not kept pace with the costs of those projects, according to realtors and remodelers who recently participated in Remodeling magazine's 2006 "Cost vs. Value Report."

    Results of the report, summarized in the December 2006 issue of REALTOR Magazine, show that prices for most remodeling projects continue to increase, though their resale value has decreased. This trend reflects a return to a more balanced real estate market in many areas of the country.

    For more: News : Trends : Resale Value of Remodeling Projects Dips in Shifting Markets : HGTVPro.com

    From HGTVPro e-newsletter

    Tuesday, December 5, 2006

    Concrete decorative techniques

    Not-So-Gray-Matter is the title of an article in the January 2007 Log Home Living magazine.  Techniques such as stamping and staining have made concrete more popular as flooring, countertops (now available as precast pieces), fireplace surrounds, and, of course, patios, driveways, etc.  Jim Peterson of Concrete Network.com "estimates that using stamped concrete over ... brick and stone can save you a good half to two-thirds of the cost."  And acid-etch staining and concrete engraving can perk up your old concrete walk.

    Monday, December 4, 2006

    Beyond stainless steel

    Appliance colors are shifting from silver and sterile to a warmer look.  Jenn-Air has a variety of products, including refrigerators, wall ovens, cooktops, range hoods, and dishwashers, available in the new oiled-bronze finish.  For more info, visit www.jenn-air.com

    (I still like the new silver look--not stainless steel.)

     

    Friday, December 1, 2006

    Adapt-A-Home

    There's a new free booklet from AARP: Home Modification: Your Key to Comfort, Safety, and Independent Living.
     

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    Cool ideas for your bathroom

    Before you start a bathroom renovation, make sure you check out the latest from HGTV's I Want That! Baths.

    From HGTV e-newsletter

    I see that if you really want to be on the cutting edge, you have to get a diamond-encrusted basin...  Link: I Want That! Baths : Home & Garden Television

     

     

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    More loft apartments upcoming

    The Buffalo Artists Lofts on Main Street in Buffalo, NY is one of the 2007 HGTV Restore America projects.  Formerly a commercial building, it'll be converted into an open floor plan consisting of 36 residential units.  (I presume there are walls between the units.)  For more info on Restore America:  Restore America 2005-2006 : Home & Garden Television

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Fluorescent lights (link)

    I know it is recommended that incandescent lights be turned off whenever they are not needed. But what about fluorescent lights?
      http://enewsletter.housemaster.com/11_2006.html

    From: The HouseMaster eNewsletter

     

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

     "It was as bad as the worst of the reports.  It was worse!  Secure behind the Glant's defenses, the sight of a few thousand hostile cruisers wouldn't have caused him a qualm--
     
    But this!
     
    There were a few small war vessels among them--none over six hundred feet long.  But, so far as one could tell from their seared, beam-blasted exteriors, most of them had been freighters of every possible size, type, and description.  There was a sprinkling of dainty, badly slashed yachts and other personal space craft.  No wonder they'd been mistaken for the murdered cold hulks of the centuries...!
     
    But..., mixed up with that stream was stuff that simply didn't belong in space--it should have been gliding ...over the surface of some planetary sea!
     
    Some... had wings!  [And there was] ... a house.  ... Near the end of the van, a torpedo-shaped blackened thing...  [And then]
     
    A slender, three-hundred-foot space yacht flashed headlong into a cluster of the Glant's grapnels and freezers and stopped dead. ...
     
    The Great Squid of space had caught itself a shining minnow.  ..."
     
    From The Truth About Cushgar in Agent of Vega by James H. Schmitz  

    Tropics update

    Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook

    AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER HAS FORMED OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA
    JUST NORTH OF THE COAST OF PANAMA. SOME SLOW DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS
    POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO AS IT REMAINS NEARLY STATIONARY.

    ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL STORM FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED THROUGH SATURDAY. $$
    FORECASTER BEVEN
    ===

    (Thanks, Lloyd)

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "There was no sign that the Perilous Gard was 'old' or even a 'castle,'  ...  The walls were paneled in polished oak, finer even than the Princess Elizabeth's own bedchamber at Hatfield, and one wall was hung with a great tapestry showing ladies dressed in green, ...   The plaster ceiling was exquisitely molded in an intricate strap-work design.  The lattice windows flashed and sparkled with coats of arms painted on the glass.  There were blue velvet cushions on both window seats; the long mirror that hung on the wall beside the bed was framed in gold... 
     
    Kate rose..., and pushing back the lattice of the nearest window, leaned out to see if she could get any idea of the shape of the house. 
     
    ...She was looking down into a paved courtyard surrounded on three sides by high gray battlemented walls and towers.  ..."
     
    From The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

    Builder Confidence Improves (link)

    Washington/November 16, 2006/—Suggesting stabilizing conditions in the nation's single-family housing market, home builder confidence in November edged up for the second consecutive month, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), released today. The HMI gained two points from the previous month to stand at 33.  

    More at link: News : Economic Indicators : Builder Confidence Improves Again in November : HGTVPro.com

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Happy Thanksgiving from me and some of my favorite characters:

    Lori and Chiing in Pretty Pink Planet (WomanScapes); Juul and Skyseeker in Seedlings (Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer); Tinsel, Shane, and Blindy in Cold New Planet (Tales from the Big Black); Mara and Sakura the Barbarian in The Princess Quest (Kings of the Night II); Rex in Old Rex (The Ghost in the Gazebo); and Tawny and Sanford in Taking Tawny Home (Story Station).

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Make changes before building

    Make your changes on paper. Change orders after construction has started costs you more money. (Actually, we learned this from Dream House and other home shows.) We did make some changes in a bathroom, but that was because someone changed her mind. And we caught the kitchen window in time--on paper.

    Make decisions about upgrades early. I'm sorry we didn't spring for the new doorbell and have the builder's electricians install it. We'll do the sound box some day. Retro fixes are expensive, but sometimes you have to wait. Think about it. Something to pay more for is noise insulation. It's really important between a bathroom and bedroom. Sometimes what you want is cheaper than what the builder was planning to install. We went for the faux marble windowsills instead of wood in my mother's house. I never want to paint or repair rotting wood again.

    A big and necessary expense nowadays is wiring for computers, phones, cable, a speaker in every room, an alarm system, possibly even a smart house. What about a central vaccuum cleaner? Do you need one? This, along with style and an elegant facade; an impressive entryway; Corian, granite, or marble counters; high end appliances; a fireplace; a swimming pool; an exercise/game/home theatre room; a bathroom for every bedroom; an outdoor jacuzzi; high and fancy ceilings; skylights; etc. is where you think hard about priorities. Some people build a smaller home so that they can spend more on quality. Your decision, but be sure you have enough storage.

    From: Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook (#6 on this Barnes & Noble list): Barnes & Noble.com Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Tips for building your house

    There's a helpful article in the 2007 Annual Buyer's Directory of Log Homes Illustrated: Build Better: Ten Tips to Smooth the Construction of Your Log Home.  The tips include record keeping (get everything in writing and keep a journal), opting out of lighting and landscaping packages, staying organized, resisting small upgrades (they add up), and visiting the building site as often as possible (every evening if you can).  Good advice, though I have to say that we skipped a number of small upgrades and ended up spending more money because we retrofitted some things later.  We'd have saved money by buying then and having it installed by the builder rather than paying for some things (lights, doorbell, etc.) twice and having the replacements installed later.  And visiting the house and catching mistakes (theirs and yours) in time is smart.  We made a couple bad paint color choices and had to make changes, and we caught them laying the wrong tile in two rooms.  They had reversed the colors; fortunately the closet didn't matter.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Mold in bathroom discussion (link)

    We used "mold resistant" paint in our master bath but now mold is starting to accumulate on the ceiling and walls around our shower.....  (From HGTVPro.com newsletter)

    Cleaning Mold on Blueboard - Topic Powered by eve community

    Wednesday, November 8, 2006

    Anthologies

    Here's a link for current and upcoming anthologies my stories are in: Untitled Document 

    Cold New Planet will be in Tales from the Big Black and Crystal Quest will be in Magistria: Shards of the Goddess.  Crystal Quest is the sequel to Seedlings, which is in Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer.  Princess Quest is in Kings of the Night II.

    Pretty Pink Planet is in WomanScapes: Amazon.com: WomanScapes: Books: EJ McFall, Editor  ; it's the story described "as endangered life forms trying to coexist with hordes of invading tourists"  That's not quite right, but it's fairly close. 

    Tuesday, November 7, 2006

    A recent interview:

     
    Joy V. Smith has been writing since she was a kid; her stories have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies, including The Ghost in the Gazebo, Scoundrels and Rascals, Kings of the Night II, Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer, and WomanScapes, a charity anthology; her SF has also been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time (time travel tales). Her recent non-fiction includes her book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, an interview with Lyn McConchie, and articles on writing.
    Upcoming are stories in Magistria: Shards of the Goddess and Tales from the Big Black; her novelette, Hidebound, will be an ebook (pretty soon, she hopes).

    1.How much time and energy do you spend researching for your book?

    JVS: Often I do my research after I've started a story and discover what I need to know. For my short story, Carnies (genetic engineering of carnivorous plants), I used my sister's carnivorous plant books. For my house book, I kept an ongoing diary as the house was built, and I collected a folder full of notes and stacks of house books and magazines. I was so happy to get them out of my closet when I was finished!

    2.What makes your book stand out from the rest?


    JVS: Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook includes diary excerpts, which give the reader an idea of what to expect; anecdotes from a number of people, including the construction crew; house plan and photos; and things I learned, including mistakes to avoid, and advice that covers a lot of territory. The book was Reviewer's Choice on the Midwest Book Review (February 2005) and is on this Barnes & Noble top ten category list: Barnes & Noble.com Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals Barnes & Noble.com Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    3. What do you like most about being a writer?

    JVS: Sleeping late. Really. I'm not a morning person, plus I save a lot of money by not having to commute to work, and my dog, Xena, can sleep under my desk. And, of course, I love sharing the stories and characters I create. When someone says, I love Chiing (an alien in Pretty Pink Planet in WomanScapes), I am happy.

    4. What was the road to getting published like for you?

    JVS: I was first published (an article) in college, and I wrote a little over the years and was published now and then, but when I was finally able to focus on writing, then I had to wonder--Will I ever make a good living at this?! I'm still wondering, but I am getting published. Sometimes I also wonder how I wrote all that I have.

    5. What are you working on now?


    JVS: I have at least two sequels I should be working on; I am focusing on Velvet of Swords, a short story which was published a long time ago. I want to make that into a novel.

    6. How difficult are deadlines?

    They make me work; I appreciate them.

    7. Where have you promoted your work i.e. bookstores, websites, etc. where can we purchase your work?

    JVS: I've done book signings at festivals, given talks to local writing groups, and donated my house book to home shows as a door prize. I have a website and a blog, and I send my publication updates to writing zines and bloggers I know, and I send out a lot of press releases; I have a file with live e-mail addresses of local newspapers. When I see an opportunity, I grab it.

    You can purchase my house book on amazon, the Barnes & Noble website, and a plethora of websites who've picked it up, possibly because of the title.

    8. Who has influenced your writing the most?

    JVS: Andre Norton and James H. Schmitz, two of my favorite science fiction writers. They wrote exciting stories with heroines and heroes that I cared about.

    9. Where is your favorite writing place and why are you inspired there?


    JVS: I've "written" while making lunch, and I once wrote a poem for a story at an estate auction, but when I'm stuck I usually lie on the futon on the back porch and think.


    10. What would you like to say to aspiring writers?


    JVS: Persevering is important; and I'd also suggest reading books you enjoy--like the ones you want to write--and read a few writing books. They can inspire and teach you things, such as what works for one writer may not work for you. Don't look for a formula! Come up with a new twist.


    Finis

    Sunday, November 5, 2006

    Study shows Americans conserve more, spend less (link)

     

    Rising Costs Force Change in Habits for Americans

    Study shows that energy costs are causing consumers to conserve more, spend less.

    Or not...

    "What's encouraging about this year's results is that 77 percent of those surveyed understand that the best solution for our energy problems is a combination of increasing efficiency and reducing consumption," ... "However, when it comes to buying energy-conserving products and services, there's still a disconnect between what consumers say and what they do."

    Link: News : Trends : Rising Costs Force Change in Habits for Americans : HGTVPro.com

     

    Thursday, November 2, 2006

    Home buying book review

    Suzanne Whang's Guide to Happy Home Buying (House Hunters) (Paperback)

    This is a useful book--essential if you've never bought a house before. It covers the basics, including dealing with real estate agents, and there are a lot of stories about other people's experiences, which I always find interesting and helpful. I enjoyed Ms. Whang's adventures in home browsing and buying also. And there's a real estate glossary, illustrations and descriptions of home styles, with a couple chapters on home maintenance and decorating at the end, plus an index and an appendix with forms, letters, and applications.

    amazon link: Amazon.com: Suzanne Whang's Guide to Happy Home Buying (House Hunters): Books: Suzanne Whang,Bruce W. Cook

    Wednesday, November 1, 2006

    Christmas decorations

    The December issue of Country Living has some fun articles on decorating for Christmas, including a Christmas tree with cookie moons and stars, mini Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, stamped cookie ornaments, and other clever and colorful ideas, though the white Christmas stockings against a white background was pretty.  I especially liked the ideas in the article about decorating with pinecones, such as giving a gift of pinecones painted gold and silver in an egg carton (perfect for storing them) and using a big pinecone in a small urn to look like a topiary. 

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    Decorating with Nate Berkus: Choose a Room (link)

    Tour Nate's Virtual Home
    Unlock the decorator in you and find your personal style. From the bedroom to the bathroom, Nate Berkus gives you his rules to help you get inspired to transform your own home!

    Take a virtual tour; you can click on a Floors, Rooms, Basement and Outdoors.  Link: Decorating with Nate Berkus: Choose a Room

    (From Oprah's e-mail newsletter)

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "Anscombe Manor was a fourteenth-century manor house that had come down through the ensuing centuries collecting architectural souvenirs along the way--two stone-clad wings ending in a pair of mis-matched towers; odd stretches of crenellated wall; a priest's hole in the master bedroom; an internal staircase leading to a bricked-in doorway beyond which there was nothing but air, and a curiously deep subcellar that had, according to local legend, once been used as a dungeon.  The house's south wing hid the graceful nineteenth-century stable block from view."

    From Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    Writing interview

    I discuss writing, marketing, and my work in an interview by Kaycee Conners at http://www.writingspace.blogspot.com/ 

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Home improvement study (link)

    60% of Boomers Staying Put for Next Five Years

    ... the study gathered data from more than 30,000 consumers from the baby boom generation and older to gain insight into the housing preferences and home improvement needs among this audience, which includes more than 125 million Americans.  ...

    Key home improvement findings for consumers 50 and older include the following:

    • Sixty percent expect to live in their current residence during the next five years.
    • Almost two-thirds (65 percent) plan to remodel or improve their homes.
    • Forty-two percent of all home improvement projects will be done by outside contractors.
    • More than three-fourths (77 percent) believe how their home looks is an important part of who they are.
    • A huge majority (73 percent) say the kitchen is the most important room for them.

    For more on the study and a list of simple changes for easier living: News : Trends : 60% of Boomers Staying Put for Next Five Years : HGTVPro.com

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Bigger may be better, but is it safer? (Link)

    FURNITURE HAZARD
    The trend is big: big TVs, big furniture; but with a big size comes a big weight and a potential safety hazard that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially with little ones around.  Link:  HouseMaster eNewsletter

    Septic tank safety after floods (link)

    SEPTICS AFTER FLOOD
    The water may have receded, however the drains may not be ready to flow again. Here are some tips to avoid post-flood septic problems.  Link: HouseMaster eNewsletter

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Bathroom furniture (link)

    Discover the beauty of bathroom furniture, including versatile, customizable console tables.  Link: KOHLER: Furniture: Bathroom

    Architecture of the Imagination

     
    "'You'd better come in and have a cup of tea,' said Granny Weatherwax.
     
    You'd barely know that anyone lived in the cottage.  There were two chairs by the fire, one of them a rocking chair, and by the table were two chairs that didn't rock but did wobble because of the uneven stone floor.  There was a dresser, and a rag rug in front of the huge hearth.  A broomstick leaned against the wall in one corner, next to something mysterious and pointy, under a cloth.  There was a very narrow and dark flight of stairs.  And that was it.  There was nothing shiny, nothing new, and nothing unnecessary."
     
    From Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Halloween warning for your house (link)

    Jack-o'-Lanterns Keep Plumbers Busy
    Pumpkin guts spark an increase in plumbing rescue operations.

    Every Halloween, plumbers repair garbage disposers and kitchen drains clogged with sticky pumpkin pulp and seeds.  [And don't flush them down the toilet either.]  Link: News : Trends : Jack-o'-lanterns Keep Plumbers Busy : HGTVPro.com

    September Housing Starts Rise, Permits Fall (link)

    Washington/ October 18, 2006/—Nationwide housing starts in September regained the ground they lost in a steep decline the previous month, but issuance of building permits—a key indicator of future building activity—continued on a downward trend, according to numbers released by the U.S. Census Department today.  

    For more: News : Economic Indicators : September Housing Starts Rise, Permits Fall : HGTVPro.com

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Architecture of the Imagination

    "An arched opening ended the passage.  Through the arch poured a blaze of dancing white lunimance.   Jirel paused, ...  The room before her was filled with the baffling glitter and shimmer and mirage of reflecting surfaces so bewilderingly that she could not tell which was real and which mirror, and which dancing light.  The brilliance dazzled in her face and dimmed into twilight and blazed again as the mirrors shifted.  ...
    The whole place was a chaos of blaze and confusion.  She could not know if the room were small or large, a cavern or a palace hall.  Queer reflections danced through the dazzle of it.  ...
    Then she saw Jarisme in her violet robe watching her from a hundred identical golden couches reflected upon a hundred surfaces.  ...
    When the music ceased, all the flashing dazzle suddenly stilled.  ...the chaos resolved itself into shining order, the hundred Jarismes merging into one sleepy-eyed woman lounging on her golden couch in a vast crystal-walled chamber shaped like the semicircular half of a great, round, domed room.  Behind the couch a veil of violet mist hung like a curtain shutting off what would have formed the other half of the circular room."
     
    From C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry (Jirel Meets Magic)

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    House book excerpt

    Resources: Print

    Along with our non-stop house browsing, we read a lot of books, magazines, and pamphlets. Books included Classic Cracker: Florida's Wood-Frame Vernacular Architecture; Basic Masonry Illustrated; The Home Owner's Diary: What Was Done and When We Did It; Your Home: Buying, Selling, Building, Remodelling; Norm Abram's New House; The Impecunious House Restorer (how to buy, restore, etc.); How to Find Your Ideal Country Home: Ruralize Your Dreams; and various house plan books. Magazines included New Home: Planner and Buyer's Guide; Kitchen and Bath Custom Planner, Fine Home Building, Old House Interiors, Home Products Guide, Kitchens & Baths (Woman's Day), Home Plan Ideas, Build It! Ultra, Building Ideas for Your Home (Better Homes & Gardens), and a lot more. (Go to the library and bookstores.) Pamphlets included Cooling Your Home Naturally, Efficient Air Conditioning, Sunspace Basics. (from the Department of Energy)

    Resources: Online

    HGTV: http://hgtv.com

    Home Ideas: http://www.homeideas.com

    Hometime: http://www.hometime.com

    Kitchens & Baths: http://www.kitchen-bath.com

    Living Home: http://www.livinghome.com

    Wood Floors: http://www.woodfloors.org

    From Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook: Barnes & Noble.com - Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook, by Joy V. Smith, Paperback

     

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    The ABCs of Green Building (link)

    Green Building

    "Green building isn't only about hard-to-find recycled materials.  We debunk this and other myths so you can build sustainable, energy-efficient homes...   Learn about saving time, money, and resources for your company and your customers by using environmentally friendly and energy-efficient building practices."  Link: Green Building: From the Basement to the Roof : HGTVPro.com

    Hurricanes: Prep & Recovery (link)

    Hurricanes: Prep & Recovery
    Get the latest on rebuilding efforts and learn how to prepare your site for storms.  Link: Hurricanes: Preparedness and Recovery : HGTVPro.com

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Hidden rooms

    I recently read an interesting article, Concealed Rooms (by Matthew Summers-Sparks of the New York Times), in the local real estate section.  They're becoming popular, and they're usually built more for the mystery and cool factor than safety; they're often hidden behind bookcases and even fireplaces.  There are companies specializing in the doors, including Niche Doors, Hide A Door, and Secret Doorways; and a pair of hidden doors were recently installed on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    My latest writing articles

    I have two articles, Selling an Audiobook and Selling a Cool Book About the House that Joy Built, in the October issue of The Electronic Write Stuff: North Florida Writers

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Historic paint colors for your home

    The November issue of Country Living shows historic home colors from Benjamin Moore's Historic Colors line (page 149).  These "reflect not only the natural pigments colonists worked with, but also how colors were perceived in earlier times: by candlelight; through small or heavily draped windows; browned by fire smoke and age."  In other words, dark and dull, which I don't think was the colonist's goal.

    Sunday, October 8, 2006

    At home on the set

    The October issue of Home has an interesting article, with photos, about the homes of TV and film characters, including The Cosby Show, Falcon Crest, Frasier, Seinfield, Friends, and Will and Grace.  I thought most of them were too cluttered, but they probably wanted to fill them with personality.

    The end piece in this issue is a quiz: Guess when these rooms ran in the magazine.  You have to choose a year--from four listed--for each of the four rooms.  (The answers are on their website.)  It's hard to tell...

    Thursday, October 5, 2006

    Ideas as Art (my latest article)

    The Idea Boutique lets authors share how they come up with ideas for their stories.  My latest contribution (see archives for my earlier pieces) is about the sentient plants in my stories, Seedlings and Crystal Quest, in the Magistria anthologies.  And it includes a  cartoon with sentient plants that was created at a recent SF convention; I really enjoyed watching the artists come up with those fun ideas.     Link: The Idea Boutique

    Sunday, October 1, 2006

    Concrete-log homes

    They're building concrete-log homes now.  I read about them in the November 2006 issue of Log Homes Illustrated.  (Check out the editorial.)  The logs in the photo of the home are formed from concrete to look like 16 inch hand-hewn logs with chinking.  (I've always preferred hand-hewn logs to round logs.)

    Another article, New Dimension: Logs Add Natural Character to Not-So-Log Homes, has lots of photos illustrating log-accent homes.  You don't have to build a log home to get log-home flavor.

    There's an interesting article, Breaking with Tradition, in that issue that tells you not to be limited by what you think is traditional in a log home--or any home.  "...much of what we think as traditional, even necessary, items in creating a living space are, in fact, cast in our minds rather than in stone."

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Bathroom ideas (link)

    "Begin your bathroom beautifying project with our collection of decorating and remodeling ideas, interactive features and online videos."  Link: Around the House: Bathrooms : Home & Garden Television

    Tropical Storm Isaac

    Update (9-30-06): It's now Hurricane Isaac (category 1). 

    Update (9-29-06): It's east of Bermuda and may reach Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

    Well, this one snuck up on me.  Last I heard there were two waves--or one wave and one low--and they weren't doing much.  I don't even know if this was TD 8 or 9.  Hmm.  Maybe 9.  Its path should be similar to Gordon's and Helene's.

    CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE AND A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED ABOUT 975 MILES EAST-NORTHEAST OF THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS HAVE BECOME A LITTLE BETTER ORGANIZED TONIGHT. ATMOSPHERIC
    CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME A LITTLE MORE FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT AND A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.

    (Thanks for the updates, Lloyd!)

     

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Home ideas

    The October issue of Country Home has an interesting article, The 'Just Right' House, about a couple who built three homes before building their "forever house."  All of them were on Martha's Vineyard--which must be really built up now.  She chose soapstone counters for their matte finish; she "didn't want anything too hard or shiny like granite."  And she used linoleum flooring (it's soft underfoot); she also used peg racks in the mudroom.  
     
    The Shopgirl column in Country Home has interesting ideas and products.  This month's column includes a Formica laminate product that has "the luxe look of vertically striated wood (a HOT trend in Italy's hippest homes) ..."  And Designer Series windows with between-the-glass nature patterns; Fossil Leaf is pretty, but a little cluttered.
     
    Another article, Getting Personal, is an interview with actors Kerry Washington and David Moscow, focusing on their eco-conscious home, a small West Hollywood bungalow.  (For more background and photos on them, you can visit the countryhome.com website.)  The article includes a list of where to find organic cotton sheets, towels, and bedding; the catalogs include Gaiam, VivaTerra [I've mentioned these two in earlier posts.], and Anna Sova.   

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    TS Isaac?

    It's certainly been quiet this season; now we have another possibility:

    SHOWER ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH A LARGE TROPICAL WAVE AND A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED 760 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS HAS CHANGED LITTLE IN ORGANIZATION THIS EVENING. HOWEVER...SOME GRADUAL
    DEVELOPMENT THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS AS IT MOVES TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR NORTHWEST AT 10 TO 15 MPH. ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL STORM FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED THROUGH SATURDAY. $$ FORECASTER BEVEN/MAINELLI

    Here's this year's list of names:

    Alberto Beryl Chris Debby Ernesto
    Florence Gordon Helene Isaac Joyce
    Kirk Leslie Michael Nadine Oscar
    Patty Rafael Sandy Tony Valerie
    William

    (Thanks, Lloyd, for the updates)

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Kitchen countertop choices (link)

    Choosing Kitchen Countertops

    Scott Gibson summarizes pros and cons of a variety of materials used for kitchen countertops, from wood butcher block and concrete to tile, solid surface, and stainless steel.

    This link takes you to another link that takes you to a PDF file (8 pp): Fine Homebuilding : HGTVPro.com     (Hmm.  I see that the first link--at the top of this post--takes you straight to the PDF file.)

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    So...You Want to Build a House (new book)

    So...You Want to Build a House
    J.M. Gore & William Null
    McGraw-Hill: 2006
    $19.95
     
    J.M. Gore is a realtor & William Null a builder, and together they have written a very helpful book.  From the introduction--where you learn the importance of gathering information to make decisions, staying in your budget, and avoiding delays--to the comprehensive workbook (plenty of room for schedules, materials, subcontractors, etc.) and index, this is a useful book; and it also includes samples of the various forms you'll work with. The authors cover the basics of surveys, soil testing, easements, architects, house plans/blueprints, construction loans, liens, hard & soft costs, the importance of  the value of houses in your neighborhood, resale and upgrades values, etc.; and they list and discuss the things that add to your construction cost: roof pitch, gables, plumbing and wiring, ceilings, fixtures, cabinetry, flooring, and change orders!    
     
    Having written a book myself about building a house, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, I was impressed by their book; they cover what you need to know, and they also point out that each house and property is unique, plus they've included examples of problems that homeowners have had to deal with.  I learned a lot, including pitfalls I missed, fortunately.  I'm keeping this book for building my next house.

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Remodeling market (link)

    Remodeling Market Adjusts to Housing Slump
    In a housing downturn, remodeling is holding its own.

    Here's a wrap-up of today's realities about remodeling, as well as the national and regional markets:

    Link: News : Economic Indicators : Remodeling Market Adjusts to Housing Slump : HGTVPro.com

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of Earth

    In the October/November issue of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine is a novelette by Michael Flynn--Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of Earth, which uses some posts from the AOL SF Authors:Michael Flynn folder, including mine (Pagadan and Velvet).  (There were a lot of great posts that didn't get used.  Mr. Flynn asked for input for the story a couple of years ago, as I recall, and a number of us had fun contributing posts imitating the kind of carrying on that you see on boards.)  It's a great story with an interesting premise told from different points of view.
     
    There's also a palindromic poem "Forward and Backward Belief" by Vincent Miskell in that issue.
     
    AND you can get the issue from Fictionwise: "Table of Contents"
     
    AND you can join the discussion in the AOL: SF Authors: Michael Flynn folder.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Hurricane Preparedness (link)

    Hurricane Preparedness: Best Practices Around the World
    Storm experts meet in New Orleans one year after Katrina.

    As horrified as Americans were by Hurricane Katrina, storm and disaster experts around the world must have been more aghast at the complete lack of preparation and the equally ineffectual reaction when catastrophe struck the wealthiest nation in the world.  

     Link: News : Hurricanes & Tornadoes : Hurricane Preparedness: Best Practices Around the World : HGTVPro.com

    Tropical Storm Helene

    Update (9-23-06): Helene's a category 1 now and is headed for Ireland.

    Update (9-22-06): Helene may reach England.

    Update (9-17-06): Helene is now a category 3 hurricane.

    Update (9-15-06): Helene should become a hurricane soon; it's strengthening and becoming more organized.

    TD8 is now TS Helene and might make it to a category 2 hurricane.  Here's an earlier report:

    A STRONG TROPICAL WAVE NEAR THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA IS MOVING WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH. THIS SYSTEM HAS SOME POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT MOVES OVER THE FAR EASTERN TROPICAL ATLANTIC.

    (Thanks, Lloyd!)

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Robot maids

    The March 2006 issue of Popular Science has a report on Where's My Cool Stuff?  It includes an update on robot maids.  We'd like Rosie (from The Jetsons), but we've only got Roomba.  The article does list what else is available: ZMP's Nuvo, White Box's 914 PC-BOT, and Honda's ASIMO.  ASIMO seems to be the most useful; the others are mostly for entertainment, though Nuvo is also a baby monitor and security device.  Upcoming may be an automated housekeeper using RFID (radio frequency identification) to talk to inanimate objects.  (There's an amusing conversation between the robot and a beverage bottle.)  Other topics include scramjets, videophones, carplanes, and rocket belts.     

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Viva Terra (catalog)

    Viva Terra carries "Exceptional artisan goods inspired by nature's purity and grace.  Designed with care to tread lightly on the planet."  It has beautiful home accessories made of wood, stone, fabric, and glass.  I've never bought anything from this catalog, but their goods look serene and soothing.  Link: VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

    (Viva Terra is mentioned in a list of green catalogs in the October issue of Country Home.)

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Tropical Storm Gordon

    Update (9-23-06): From a friend in England: We did have some pretty serious rain this last week thanks to Gordon.  Local flooding that lasted a day or so was as bad as it got.

    Update (9-22-06): Gordon reached Europe.  I believe that doesn't happen very often.

    Update (9-13-06): Gordon is now a hurricane; and Florence is pretty much out of the picture.  Both Gordon and Helene will probably only become category 2s.

    Update (9-12-06): TD7 is now TS Gordon, and Helene may be upcoming; it's predicted to follow Florence and Gordon's paths.

    Update: Well, TD7 isn't a tropical storm yet, but Florence is a hurricane.

    Tropical Depression #7 should become Tropical Storm Gordon this morning.  It's expected to follow Florence's path.  Here's an earlier report:

    A SMALL AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED ABOUT 550 MILES EAST-NORTHEAST OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS IS MOVING WESTWARD AT ABOUT 10 MPH. SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS BECOME MORE CONCENTRATED NEAR THE CIRCULATION CENTER AND A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM TONIGHT OR TOMORROW. ELSEWHERE...

    (Thanks, Lloyd!)

     

    Making choices (house book excerpt)

    There are all kinds of ways to save money, but you have to make choices... Location is one of your first choices. We could have bought a cheaper property, but this one was so perfect--for us. Your choice may be based on a good or more prestigious neighborhood, closeness to good schools, stores, etc., a quick and easy commute to work, noise from nearby roads, a tranquil spot in the country with room for a horse or llama or two. Check out the neighborhood at different times of the week and the day. On a smaller property, you'll have to consider setbacks and easements. Think about views and the nearness of neighbors.

    A way to save money on house plans, as mentioned earlier, is to buy stock plans. Find out how many you need. One expert says you may need eight to ten sets. Blueprints or vellum? Talk to your builder about that as soon as possible. What you need depends on where you build. Your house plan will depend on the size and placement of your lot. And watch out for holding ponds. In a development not far from us is a home next to a holding pond--not uncommon now, but the driveway is way too close to it. Erosion has already started, and the driveway may be undermined.

    From Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook.  Available from    Amazon.com: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook: Books: Joy V. Smith   ,    Barnes & Noble.com - Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook, by Joy V. Smith, Paperback  , ...

     

    Friday, September 8, 2006

    External facade types for your home (link)

    From: House Building Newsletter - September Edition

    Link: External Facades For New Homes

     

    Thursday, September 7, 2006

    Minority homeownership (link)

    NAACP, NAHB Release Joint Housing Report
    The two groups push for affordable housing and homeownership education and call for tough penalties for predatory lenders. 

    Link: News : Trends : NAACP, NAHB Release Joint Housing Report : HGTVPro.com

    Tuesday, September 5, 2006

    Tropical Storm Florence

    Update (9-6-06): Shear from a trough is keeping it from getting better organized, but it's still predicted to become a category 2, though models are showing it going north sooner.  At the moment it's headed for Bermuda.  Later update: It may become a category 3.

    TD6 is now a tropical storm.  It's expected to become a category 2 hurricane; the models have it moving WNW, but they think it should curve away from us eventually.    Here's an earlier report:

    THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL DEPRESSION SIX...LOCATED ABOUT 1235 MILES EAST OF THE LESSER ANTILLES. A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE... ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE... IS MOVING WESTWARD NEAR 10 MPH A FEW HUNDRED MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ARE STILL SHOWING SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION WITHIN A LARGE CIRCULATION AND THERE IS SOME POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.

    (Thanks, Lloyd!)

    Monday, September 4, 2006

    Oriental rug rescue in New Orleans

    Hundreds of Priceless Oriental Rugs Rescued From Hurricane Flood Damage

    Steve Roberts, owner of Luv-A-Rug, a Victoria, B.C., based area rug cleaning company, never imagined being directly involved with any rescue efforts in New Orleans. But a telephone call from Jackson, Mississippi changed all that.

    "I was an exhibitor at a Carpet Cleaning Trade Show in Las Vegas when I got a frantic call from George Bell, who owns a rug cleaning company in Mississippi," remembers Roberts. "He desperately needed one of my new 'RugBadgers' that I recently unveiled to the industry, so after the show, I flew down and personally delivered one to him."

    When Roberts arrived in Jackson, George Bell lamented to him how he and all his best people were so busy restoring flood-damaged rugs from New Orleans that he didn't have anyone else that could go back down and pick up other rugs that needed to be saved. "There are thousands of rugs rotting away down there that still can be saved," explained Bell.

    Roberts immediately volunteered to go and help rescue these rugs. Even with all the TV coverage, Roberts was not prepared for the devastation he witnessed. "Trees, roofs and even buildings were all blown down. I needed to use a GPS to figure out where I was because there weren’t any street signs left standing," Roberts remarked.

    It was while driving through the older upscale district of Metairie that Steve Roberts saw all the front yards piled high with the damaged contents of the houses. "Anything left in the homes during the flood was ruined," Roberts said. "People were dragging out furniture, TVs, kitchen cabinets, washers, dryers, electronics, you name it, it was out there."

    Even with all this clean-up going on, people would notice the area rug cleaning van that Roberts was driving and they would chase him down to get him to look at their rugs. "People were so happy to hear their rugs could be saved," recalls Roberts.

    Whenever Roberts drove by a house with a rug on a garbage pile, he would stop and ask the owners about it. Many people said, "Oh, you can't save it," but Roberts would reply, "You know what, if it's a good rug, it's worth taking a look at." He was often surprised at what was thrown away. "People would go to the heap, pull the rug out of the pile and I would discover it was a $20,000 Isfahan, or a $10,000Tabriz, or even a $40,000 Beshir rug, all completely restorable!"

    According to Roberts, the only salvageable personal item many people had in their flooded home was their oriental rug. Often it was a family heirloom. “In one trip alone, I was able to save over 80 waterlogged rugs that were covered in filth, slime and unimaginable stink,” said Roberts. “Good-quality handmade rugs are extremely resilient and can be easily restored because their dyes will not run, nor will they fall apart like many glued synthetic rugs even under severe conditions like what happened in New Orleans.”

    Press release:

    For Further Information contact:
    Steve Roberts
    Phone: 250-883-0938
    Email

    Saturday, September 2, 2006

    Publication news

    Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook was on the Barnes & Noble's new house book best seller list when it came out, and is now # 7 on this Barnes & Noble list: Barnes & Noble.com: Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals
     
    Upcoming in The Electronic Write Stuff: Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System:
     
    OCTOBER ISSUE:  Articles by Joy V. Smith, Amelia Book Island Festival
     
    And I have another article upcoming in The Idea Boutique (October 1):The Idea Boutique  (Check the archives for earlier articles.)
     
    Crystal Quest will be in Magistria: Shards of the Goddess.  Magistria is a shared fantasy world. A playground for writers, it has produced three books so far, two anthologies of short stories and now a novel by Jack Mackenzie. Morebooks are planned with a RPG for D20 players.  Visit Magistria, Realm of the Sorcerer
     
    Now out--in ebook and paperback--is WomanScapes, a Short Story Anthology, edited by EJ McFall.
     
    WomanScapes is a collection of alternative visions written by women, about women. The tales take place on distant planets, once upon a bygone age, in the realm of mythic creatures, and in seemingly ordinary backyards....  Link: Short Story Anthology to Benefit Humanitarian Aid   It's available as a paperback on amazon.com

    Friday, September 1, 2006

    Saving energy

    There's a helpful article, Current Affair: My Life as a Watt Farmer, about saving energy--and living off the grid--in the October issue of Log Homes Illustrated.  The sidebar that gives you the power consumption of appliances is enlightening--and hair raising.  (Hmm.  Maybe I can use that static electricity.)  I knew that computers and clothes dryers--though he uses a propane dryer--use a lot of power, but it's interesting that a laser jet printer uses more power than an inkjet printer.  I see ice makers use more energy too.  The article's author is Rex Ewing, who wrote Got Sun?  Go Solar and Power with Nature.

    Thursday, August 31, 2006

    Katrina: One Year Later (links)

    Katrina: One Year Later
    On the hurricane's anniversary, much of the work has yet to begin.

    August 4: The Damage
      Katrina's Damage: A Tale of Two Disasters
      Damaged Goods: A Breakdown of the Devastation
      Video

    August 11: The Clean-Up
      Fighting Off Vultures in Hurricane Katrina's Wake
      Nothing's Normal in Rebuilding New Orleans

    August 18: Being There
      The State of New Orleans: Still Holding Its Breath
      The State of New Orleans: 1984 All Over Again
      Video

    August 25: Far-Reaching Effect
      Katrina Wreaks Havoc on Contractors' Future
      Storms Stir Up Concerns about Codes

    (From HGTVPro.com)

     

    A little history about building

    There's an interesting article, Building a Balloon with Sticks and Nails, in the October issue of Early American Life.  The first such building may have been a Catholic church in Chicago in 1833; the church needed to be built before winter, and the old way would take too long.  Scoffers said that the first big wind would blow it away like a balloon.  The article says, "Balloon construction is the first truly American contribution to building design." 

    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    Tropical Storm Ernesto

    Update (8-31): Ernesto left without giving us much rain, though some areas got a lot.  It strengthened over water and is moving northeast.  (And another wave came off the coast of Africa, though a weatherman said that when the Pacific is more active, it's usually quieter in the Atlantic.)

    Update: Ernesto is now a tropical depression, and we haven't gotten much rain, but it's still south of us.  There's no longer a tropical storm watch here, but there is a flood watch.

    Ernesto is heading in our direction, but its track has shifted farther east.  We're  expecting some wind and rain tonight and tomorrow; they're predicting 2-4" for us.  At least one rain band has rotated through, but it missed us.  Most of the rain is still way south.  Our county is under an inland tropical storm warning, and our schools will be closed.  Schools on the west coast are open, and no shelters are open there, but everyone's watching it.  Hurricanes are shifty little devils.  Here's an earlier report:

    ERNESTO...LOCATED ABOUT 170 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF KEY WEST FLORIDA AND
    ABOUT 180 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF MIAMI FLORIDA.

    A WESTWARD-MOVING TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED ABOUT 700 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF
    THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...OF THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO
    BE SLOW TO OCCUR.

    (Thanks, Lloyd!)

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    Katrina rebuilding (link)

    Lots of little problems add up to one big quagmire.

    NAHB representatives attending the Mississippi Recovery Expo in Biloxi earlier this month were reminded afresh of the seemingly insurmountable challenges confronting home builders and home owners working to rebuild after last year's hurricanes.  ...

    Link: News : Hurricanes & Tornadoes : Katrina Rebuilding Proceeds By Fits and Starts : HGTVPro.com

    From HGTVPro e-newsletter (Article reprinted with permission from Nation's Buidling News)

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    High tech wiring (discussion link)

    Network Centric
    I am still seeing houses built with basic phone and video. When >50% of US households are connected to the Internet, builders still don't....

    Networkcentric - Topic Powered by eve community  (From HGTVPro e-newsletter)

    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    Investors Return to Haunt Florida Builders (link)

    Builders in Florida who grew accustomed during the industry's recent boom times to selling out their developments even before a shovel went into the ground are noticing a stark shift in the marketplace and could find themselves in trouble if they don't take steps to manage investors who are nearing closing day with neither the intention nor the means to close on those sales.  ...

    Link: News : Business News : Investors Coming Back to Haunt Florida Builders : HGTVPro.com

    From HGTVPro e-newsletter (Reprinted from NAHB Nation's Building News,
    August 21, 2006 issue)

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Tips for making small bathrooms bigger (link)

    Find more space in your small bath—without remodeling.

    Kohler: Planning Tips: Found Space: 8 Tips for Small Bathrooms: Bathroom: Articles

    (From Kohler e-newsletter)

    Tropical Storm Ernesto

    Ernesto update (8-28): After shifting east, Ernesto's projected track is shifting back west.  (The overview of the shifting spaghetti strands look like a crazed spider.)  It's being torn up over Cuba, so it's still iffy, but we may have squalls here Wednesday afternoon.  We have an inland tropical storm watch in our county. 

    Ernesto update (8-27): Ernesto became a hurricane briefly, but is now a tropical storm again.  It weakened going over the island mountains, and that should happen again when it hits Cuba.  It looks like it's going to cross over Florida and move up the east coast unless it fizzles completely.  Very iffy.

    Ernesto update (8-26): Ernesto's track is moving east, and it's predicted to become a category 3 hurricane.

    TD5 is now TS Ernesto and is heading towards the Gulf; it may become a category 1 hurricane.  Here's an earlier report:

    Atlantic SPECIAL TROPICAL DISTURBANCE STATEMENT

    000 WONT41 KNHC 241920 DSAAT SPECIAL TROPICAL DISTURBANCE STATEMENT...CORRECTED NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL 315 PM EDT THU AUG 24 2006 CORRECTED FOR DATE IN HEADER REPORTS FROM AN AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE PLANE INDICATE THAT THE TROPICAL WAVE MOVING WESTWARD THROUGH THE WINDWARD ISLANDS HAS DEVELOPED A CLOSED WIND CIRCULATION...AND ADVISORIES ON EITHER A TROPICAL DEPRESSION OR TROPICAL STORM WILL BE INITIATED AT 5 PM AST. MAXIMUM WINDS AT THIS TIME APPEAR TO BE JUST BELOW TROPICAL STORM STRENGTH...BUT IT IS POSSIBLE THAT STRONGER WINDS MAY BE OBSERVED PRIOR TO ADVISORY TIME. $$ FORECASTER 

    Posted on: Thu, Aug 24 2006 5:56 PM

    (Thanks, Lloyd!)

     

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Home buying study (link)

    Americans Buy More Houses Than Their Parents Did
    Members of each generation buy more houses in the course of their lifetimes.

    Parsippany, N.J./August 21. 2006/PRNewswire/—A new study commissioned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. has found that Americans earning at least $75,000 are buying more houses than their parents at a comparable age, with each generation outpacing the home purchase trends of the previous generation. According to the Coldwell Banker 2006 Homeownership in America Study, 66 percent of survey respondents aged 61 and up have owned between two and five homes. Already, 66 percent of baby boomers (aged 42 to 60) have owned between two and five homes.

    For more (including why people move and what they want): News : Trends : Americans Buying More Houses Than Previous Generations : HGTVPro.com

    Katrina survivors in Houston (link)

    It Makes a Village
    Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, and with help from Oprah's Angel Network, Katrina survivors are putting down roots in Houston.

    Link: It Makes a Village: Hurricane Victims Move In to New Homes

    (From Oprah's e-newsletter)

     

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Tropical Storm Debby

    We finally have another tropical storm, though it's headed--more or less--for Bermuda.  I see there may be another tropical wave forming closer to us.

    Here's an earlier report on Debby:

    Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook

    000 ABNT20 KNHC 212102 TWOAT TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL 530 PM EDT MON AUG 21 2006 FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO... THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON NEWLY FORMED TROPICAL DEPRESSION FOUR...LOCATED OVER THE FAR EASTERN TROPICAL ATLANTIC OCEAN ABOUT 250 MILES SOUTHEAST OF THE SOUTHERNMOST CAPE VERDE ISLANDS.

    (Thanks, Lloyd)

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Decorating ideas

    In the September issue of Country Home is an article, Nature, Nurture, about designer  David Benrud's decorating ideas.  "Unlike the dark, shaggy, heavily-patterned 1970s, the new ... look is gleaming raw woods, feel-good fabrics..., spare but organic accessories, and lots of light." 

    "Thank rising fuel costs and sinking autumn mercury for offering good reasons to snuggle with luxurious cashmere cable throws.  'The tactile experience of these fibers is worth the splurge,' Benrud says."  A number of lovely photos enhance this article--and others--and showcase accessories from the great outdoors. 

    I also enjoyed the article on Sweet Grass Ranch.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Behind the Bathroom Door

    From The American Standard eNewsletter:

    Get your copy of Behind the Bathroom Door, a new 20-page bathroom reading booklet from American Standard. It features everything from trendy bathroom ideas, to fun facts about Americans' bathroom habits, to a bathroom history timeline. And don't miss the foreward by Carter Oosterhouse of TLC's Trading Spaces. It's a great read if you're behind the bathroom door. And if you're not.

    > Order your copy of Behind the Bathroom Door.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Life After Katrina


    This emotional special focuses on the residents of three neighborhoods—Lakeview and Gentilly in New Orleans and 2nd Street in Gulfport, Miss.—as they pick up the pieces of their homes and their lives during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    It premieres on HGTV August 21 at 9pm ET and repeats August 22 at 1am, August 27 at 11pm, and August 28 at 3:30am.

    Learn more about the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on its sister sites:

    HGTVPro.com
    Katrina: One Year Later

    FINE LIVING
    Musician Chris Isaak's reflections on New Orleans and its recovery..

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Remodeling

    I recently read the August issue of House Beautiful Home Remodeling.  There were articles on some lovely remodeled homes, landscaping, and making your kitchen remodel green, plus a profile of Lee Snijders, interior designer and the new host of Design on a Dime (HGTV).  The Ask the Expert column included new flooring products.  Oh, the new in-color is orange.  It was interesting seeing what's available in orange.  And if you get the magazine, be sure to read This Land is MY (WET) LAND at the end of the magazine (Closing Thoughts).  I sympathized with his landscaping dilemma, not that I have that much rain (He lives in Washington.), especially when he talked about hardscape.  "Next will be the hardscaping, including ...patios..., plus stone paths to and fro.  (I hope I can afford to pave the fro.)"  I know what you mean! 

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Government coverup (book excerpt)

    "*It's amazing how good governments are, given their track record in almost every other field, at hushing up things like alien encounters.

    One reason may be that the aliens themselves are too embarrassed to talk about it.

    It's not known why most of the space-going races of the universe want to undertake rummaging in Earthling underwear as a prelude to formal contact.  But representatives of several hundred races have taken to hanging out, unsuspected by one another, in rural corners of the planet, and as a result of this keep on abducting other would-be abductees.  Some have been in fact abducted while waiting to carry out an abduction on a couple of other aliens trying to abduct the aliens, who as a result of misunderstood instructions, trying to form cattle into circles and mutilate crops.

    The planet Earth is now banned to all alien races until they can compare notes and find out how many, if any, real humans they have actually got.  It is gloomily suspected that there is only one--who is big, hairy, and has very large feet.  ..."

    From: Hogfather by Terry Pratchett*

    *Always read his footnotes.  They are funny.