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.