Monday, October 31, 2005

Paint swatches

It's hard making a color choice for the inside and the outside of your house.  I had to repaint the kitchen (that color just didn't work with the countertops), but I caught the trim color in the Great Hall before they'd gone all the way down the hall from the front door to the back door.  (That Polo green on the doors really hit you between the eyes.) Now there's Glidden's Peel & Stick paint samples; the 4x6 inch paper swatches stick to any surface and peel off .  Sixty options are grouped into six palettes of 10 shades each; the cost is $3.00 per palette.  (I came across this in the November issue of Home.)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Design My Room (link)

  • Use your own room photo or select from dozens of inspiring room designs.
  • Point & click to change floors, ceilings, walls and cabinetry colors to best fit your new room design.
  • Create a shopping list to take to the store.
  • E-mail your ideas to friends and family.
  • Available on CD-ROM or by download (60MB). Download time approximately 10 minutes on cable/DSL/LAN. Download is not recommended for dial-up users.
  • Link: Armstrong's Design My Room

    Design a Room (link)

    Design your own room with our inspiring room scenes (from Armstrong).

    Choose from among dozens of room scenes to envision products in room settings.
    Point & click to change floor, ceilings, walls, and cabinetry colors to best fit your new room design: Design a Room

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Sugar Time

    Sugar Time is an audiobook comprised of three related short stories: "Sugar Time," "Flight Test," and "Return to Neander."  It's a time travel adventure featuring a full cast, music and sound effects.  Maxwell Sweet along with two professors have been conducting secret experiments in an old Victorian mansion outside Galveston, Texas. However, the two professors have vanished and Maxwell Sweet has fallen ill. Now, it's up to Sweet's tough-as-nails niece to find out what happened to the project - a working time machine...

    Sugar Time is available from Project Pulp , and it will be available at the Hadrosaur Productions table at TusCon the weekend of November 18.

    (Note, a fourth "Sugar Time" tale entitled "Flashback" was published in print form in issue 16 of Hadrosaur Tales, also available from Project Pulp .)


    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Building a Cool House...Table of Contents

    Table of Contents  

    1. Introduction
    2. Preparation
         Searching for the Right Location
         Finding a House Plan
         Choosing a Builder
         Getting Financing
    3. The Building Process (Diary excerpts)
         Siting it (setbacks, etc.)
         Scraping, footers, foundation, slab, walls, framing, roof
    4. The Building Begins

    5. Finishing
        Punch list (for the builder)
    6. Making Choices
    7. Remodelling Your New Home

    You can buy Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pockebook from: Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Tropical Storm Beta

    WTNT31 KNHC 271138
    8 AM EDT THU OCT 27 2005


    (Thanks again, LGD)

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Choosing a "green" Christmas tree

    The November/December issue of Natural Home & Garden has an interesting look at whether an artificial or a real Christmas tree is better for the environment.  The columnist checked out the fake trees and discovered that the fake ones are PVC ("No on vinyl, and that's final.") AND that lead is apparently used to stabilize certain PVC products.   So now you have to decide between trees grown with pesticides and herbicides or organic; family operations vs. companies; buying and planting, which isn't always practical; etc.  There is a molded polyethylene tree, but it's short and expensive.  As for me, I prefer the smell of a fresh Christmas tree, which nowadays, is harder to find...


    Wilma's leaving Florida as a category 2!  It had strengthened and arrived as a 3.  It's clearing up here now, but further south they're still getting pounded.  We had minor damage (branches & plants) and got over 5" of rain, which we needed, but there's no standing water.  The holding ponds and swamps near us are way up though.  We didn't lose power; though some places did locally, and the crews were out last night restoring it!  Of course, there were a lot more power outages, flooding, and storm damage in south Florida.  And here, after Wilma left, a cold front arrived, which gave us more wind (pressure gradient difference); and we'll be in the low 50s (lows) for a few days. 

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    Here she comes!

    We're beginning to see rain, water spouts, and tornadoes.  No winds yet (probably not till after midnight), but we've put the light outside chairs, garbage can, etc. away and laid the heavier stuff down.  We're doing wash to be caught up in case we lose power, and then we'll fill the sinks, bathtub, washing machine, buckets, pans, ...  Gotta bag more ice.  Wilma should make landfall about 8 AM as a category 2, I believe, and leave as a 1.  It should be way south of us...

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    Another Wilma update

    Wilma is now a category 2 and is still wreaking havoc in the Yucatan.  It might speed up and hit Florida Monday morning.  Hotels are going crazy here inland as people keep changing reservations...  We should get more rain and possibly winds from 45 to 75 mph in central Florida.  And now we have Tropical Storm Alpha!  This sets a record for most hurricanes in a season.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Wilma update

    Wilma is still a category 4, but is supposed to weaken and cross Florida Monday perhaps.  The arrival time keeps getting postponed...   We have lots of evacuees in the area.  There were two people at the grocery store today from Ft. Myers.  One left early and made it here in two hours.  The other left later, and it took him five hours.

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Cthulhu & Kitty cartoon caption poll

    I've enjoyed the Cthulhu & Kitty cartoons.  I've never come up with a caption though.  Here's the link so you can enjoy the cartoon and caption nominees and vote for your favorite:

    Book signing

    I'll be signing copies of my book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, at Authors in the Park at Ybor City (Tampa, Florida) Saturday, November 5.  This will be in conjunction with a new event--Knit Out and Crochet Too!  There are other vendors there also and things for children to do.  If you can't make it there, the book is available online at Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Wilma update

    The Wednesday evening forecast said that Wilma might not even come near us, though the Weather Forecast track hadn't changed yet; the late night forecast said that Wilma had slowed down and was now a category 4, but it was back on the track headed for Florida.  The noon forecast had it wobbling and still slow and showing a clear patch that wasn't the eye, and the weathermen had no idea what that meant.  Of the 45 computer models, eight were headed for central Florida, while the majority were crossing southern Florida (Naples hasn't been hit by a hurricane since Donna in 1960, btw).  One sphagetti strand is still looping back across the Yucatan and heading back into the Caribbean and possibly into Cuba.  They are expecting it to become a 5 again, but it will exit Florida as a !.  VIPER, VORTEX, and all the other cutting edge programs are disagreeing right now.  In the past, sometimes VIPER was right and the Weather Service wasn't and vice versa.  It's still too early to tell, but schools are cancelling classes; some games have been rescheduled from Friday night to tonight, and people are stocking up and evacuating.

    A friend (thanks, LGD!) sent me a storm track blog with pictures and graphs; it's really neat, and here's the link: StormTrack - When God decides to flush the toilet, you need answers   

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Hurricane Wilma

    Wilma is now a category 5.  (Wow!  That was fast!)  The cone of uncertainty covers most of the peninsula, though it'll probably be south of us, but you can't tell this early.  This year is tied for most hurricanes--12; the last time was 1969.  And this is the lowest pressure ever.  It's predicted to come across the state as a 3.  (Whoa!  I was hoping for a 2 or 1.)

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    Septic system

    I came across a septic sytem, Hoot Aerobic Treatment Unit.  The ad says that the product eliminates the mound and increases lot density.  You get: low maintenance, mound reduction, sub-surface drip, water recycle, requires less space, easy installation, environmentally friendly, lowers floor height, reduces set-back, larger homes on smaller lots.

    Anyone know anything about this system?  I wonder if it requires more frequent pumping out.

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Tropical Storm Wilma

    Wilma is scheduled to become a hurricane in the Gulf about Wednesday.  It's too early to tell where it's going to make landfall.  The cone of uncertainty is big.

    The latest update (computer models) shows Wilma going north (it's going south now) and curving towards the east coast of Florida later in the week.

    Sunday, October 16, 2005


    Tropical Depression 24 still hasn't made a decision; the computer models vary.  If it becomes a named storm, it will be Wilma, and then we're out of names.  (What happened to TD23?!)

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Favorite sci-fi movie

    My favorite sci-fi movie is Andromeda Strain.  Runners-up include Star Wars, Aliens, Serenity, ...  My choice for coolest character is Ellen Ripley; first runner-up is Newt.  And I'm still gnashing my teeth because we didn't get to see Newt grow up to be a really cool heroine!

    Here's a link to a Serenity review: Serenity - Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

    Saving money while building a house

    Here's another book with money-saving advice:

    Blueprint Affordable: How to Build a Beautiful House without Breaking the Bank

    Author Michelle Kodis includes an amazing list of helpful information, guidelines, and tips to follow throughout the planning and building process such as: keep a simple floor plan; opt for off-the-shelf stock sizes, which cost less than their customized counterparts; choose locally available materials; study your building site's climate and weather patterns, and focus on an architectural plan that shields the home from the elements; omit a basement where possible-you'll save thousands on excavation costs; do your own research and purchase your own lighting fixtures, paint, carpet, and appliances instead of hiring an outside consultant to do so.

    Budget-mindedness and beauty don't live on opposite sides of the architectural block, as the ten houses in Blueprint Affordable strikingly demonstrate. As exceptional as they are in their design, these houses all share one key attribute: from the very beginning, before their owners' dreams were transformed into exciting realities, everything from the floor plan to building materials and finishes was driven by limited financial resources.

    People who bought this book...

    I enjoy looking at lists of books on the Barnes & Noble and amazon websites--you know, the lists of other books that people bought who bought the book you're considering.  Here's the list of books on the B&N webpage for Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook:

    People who bought this book also bought:

    Not So Big Solutions For Your Home Sarah SusankaThe House You Build: Making Real-World Choices to Get the Home You Want Duo Dickinson, Peter Chapman (Editor), Ken Gutmaker (Photographer)Tuscan and Andalusian Reflections Aram BassenianCottage, Cabin and Vacation Home Plans Sunset Staff (Editor), Editors of Sunset Books (Editor)Homes Filled with Natural Light: 223 Sunny Home Plans for All Regions Home Planners, LLC, Inc. Home Planners, Inc Staff Home Planners (Editor)


    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Backyard Habitat TV show

    NWF teamed up with Animal Planet to create a television series called BACKYARD HABITAT. This series was inspired by NWF's Backyard Wildlife Habitat™ program.  Link: Backyard Habitat TV show on Animal Planet 

    Here's the link to my Backyard Habitat: Backyard Wildlife Habitat

    Recycling CDs & DVDs (link)

    Each year, millions of boxes of software CDs go to landfills and incinerators, and people throw away millions more CDs and DVDs; all of them can be recycled or reused  Link: Green Consumer - National Wildlife Magazine

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Book review of house book

    A chronological compendium of events and practical advice , February 5, 2005
    Reviewer: Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) - See all my reviews  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.

    Available from: Books: Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Cracker houses

    Our house was adapted from the old Cracker house style (built for the climate).  Here's an interesting article from the local paper on Cracker houses: Cracker Houses Are Reminders of Life Before Air Conditioning |

    As architect Dwight Holmes said, I am intrigued by the way that older homes in Florida responded to the environment, while the later ones seem to show no awareness of it at all."

    Sunday, October 9, 2005

    Hurricane Vince

    Hurricane Vince is apparently going from the African coast to Portugal.  I wonder if that's ever happened before.  I thought all those waves headed for the US.  Anyway, there's nothing else happening at the moment, and we have one name left--Wilma.  (Thanks, oino, for the heads up.)  Btw, I learned that apparently (in recorded history), this has never happened before.

    Saturday, October 8, 2005

    Favorite joke categories: Dog, child's quote, & pun

    Dog: If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?

    Child's quote: We do not raise silk worms in the United States, because we get our silk from rayon. He is a larger worm and gives more silk.

    Pun: It was one week before finals at the University of California at Berkeley, and everyone in my Comparative Religions class was frantic because of all the complex words and ideas we needed to know. The professor had just finished reviewing an Eastern concept he identified as Taoist, when a frazzled student protested, "But you said that was a Buddhist belief!" The professor looked up with a smirk and said, "I'm afraid not. You see that was Zen. This is Tao."


    Friday, October 7, 2005

    Serenity poll & trivia questions

    I see my point count has gone up on the Serenity website; it looks like they've accepted all three of my submissions.  Yes!  (See my Favorite Sites listing for the Serenity link.)

    Thud by Terry Pratchett

    I really enjoyed Thud and am looking forward to rereading it.  (I've lent it to someone who really likes it too and was tempted to take off from work to finish it.)  I also read Where's My Cow?, which I suspect Pratchett wrote after inventing it for Sam Vimes to read to his son in Thud.  I loved how Vimes sometimes made it home by the skin of his teeth to read it on time...  I enjoyed Where's My Cow? also; it's illustrated and is more of a children's book, but grownups will like it too! 


    Thursday, October 6, 2005

    Fun game (link)

    Egg Drop   (I swear some day I'm going to make it all the way through without dropping any eggs.)

    Wednesday, October 5, 2005

    Tammy and new wave update

    Tammy took off to the north like a rocket, made landfall, and is raining in Georgia.  There's another wave, which broke off from Stan, and is headed in our direction; and there's an upper level low in the Gulf, which used to be connected to the tropical wave that became Tammy...  Weather is certainly unpredictable.  Oh, there's another wave off Africa. 

    "Green" standards


    Nationally, the Department of Agriculture is responsible for certifying organic foods. The USDA Organic seal can be found on foods containing at least 95% organic ingredients. Organic crops are defined as being produced without the use of conventional pesticides, fertilizers with synthetic ingredients, sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Organic animal products are produced without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. This production method is generally acknowledged as more sustainable, and helps to enhance the environment as a whole by enriching the soil and cutting down on the harmful runoff of pesticides and fertilizers. An added benefit is keeping excess hormones and pesticides out of our bodies. The cost of organics varies due to produce seasonality (organic produce is only available when naturally ripe) and exotic nature (the harder it is to grow something organically, the higher the price). To learn more visit Source: The United States Department of Agriculture

    FSC Certification

    To receive a certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, companies and landowners selling forest products such as timber must practice sustainable forestry management. Independent certification organizations ensure that the companies receiving FSC certification use the forest for environmental and social benefit, as well as in an economically viable manner. Around the world, there are 131 million acres of FSC certified forestland, and retailers throughout the United States carry both building supplies and paper products with FSC certification. For a list of all products and companies with FSC certification visit Source: Forest Stewardship Council

    From The Nature Conservancy e-mail

    Fantasy anthologies

    I have stories in the following anthologies:

    Magistria II: Shards of the Goddess: Magistria II  (upcoming)

    Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer: MAGISTRIA: REALM OF THE SORCERER by G. W. Thomas (Book) in Books > Fiction & Literature > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Epic Fa...

    Kings of the Night II: KINGS OF THE NIGHT II by G. W. Thomas (Book) in Books > Fiction & Literature > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Epic Fantasy


    Tropical Storm Tammy

    That upper level low/wave did develop into a tropical storm.  It looks like it's going north.  This is the 19th named storm, tying us for 19 named storms (the last #19 was Tanya in 1995).  There were 21 storms in years before they started naming them about 50 years ago.

    Monday, October 3, 2005

    My house book is #6 on Barnes & Noble list

    List link: Barnes & Books - Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

    6.  Book Cover Building a Cool House for Hot Times Without Scorching the Pocketbook

    Building with concrete block

    I came across an article on building with concrete block in a September/October 1998 issue of Coastal Living.  It's a good choice for building because it's econmical, and there is a wide range of choices on the esterior: paint, stucco, brick veneer, and almost any siding material.  Inside you can paint, stucco, drywall, panel, or leave the block unfinished.  (I think, though, that earlier homes were more likely to be unfinished inside; today they're usually insulated.  I lived in a concrete block home with unfinished walls; the wallpaper and paint in one bedroom peeled a lot; and during a wet period, the paint on one interior wall really bubbled.) Concrete block also evens out temperature flucuations, making the house easier to heat and cool.  I like it too because I believe it's safer in hurricanes.

    Furniture glossary (link)

    There's a furniture glossary on the House Beautiful website: House Beautiful: Furniture Glossary

    Preventing heat buildup (link)


    Prevent Heat Buildup
    I am going to construct a house in Florida. I'm from the northeast where winter heat loss is the main idea....  Link: prevent heat buildup - Topic Powered by Groupee Community



    In the November issue of Country Home, they say that this season's trends are: 1) Bold graphic damask fabrics. 2)  Worn gold & bronze finishes. 3) Natural woods--dark & light. 4) Caning. 5) Televisions taking center stage. 6) The return of small scale. 7) The color chocolate brown. 8) Dressmaker details on upholstery & pillows.

    Harmony (organic catalog)

    I got another Harmony catalog recently.  I am so happy to see some colored linens in it; they're muted, but I like that look.  They have clothes lines and racks too, along with cleaning products and house and garden items.  The website is:


    Stormscaping (book)

    Charles Reynolds, the local garden columnist, recommended Stormscaping by Pamela Crawford (Color Garden, Inc.) in a recent column; it's full of colorful photos--including storm damage photos, and it sounds helpful and interesting. 

    Tropical Storm Stan

    Well, the closest tropical wave did become Stan after all, and the other wave fizzled.  Stan has crossed the Yucatan Peninsular into the Bay of Campeche and is heading for Mexico again.  Here we have an upper level low off the east coast heading for us, and it should at least give us some rain, which we need.  They're watching it in case it develops into a tropical wave.