Thursday, August 30, 2007

Energy saving tips

The October 2007 issue of Consumer Reports has an article on saving money in energy costs.  Among the usual--Add insulation, reset your thermostat and hot water heater, and change your lights--is a new one to me.  When you keep your house cooler, you can use a portable heater in just one room for supplemental heating.  However an open floor plan can make sealing off one room almost impossible.  (Be sure to read the article on space heaters for more information on temperature control--get a heater with a thermostat--and safety.)
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) will save you money, BUT they contain mercury.  You have to recycle them, AND you must be careful not to break them.  The magazine has a sidebar on what to do if you break one.  First, open the windows and leave the room for at least 15 minutes.  Then clean it up carefully.  (The sidebar has instructions.  Hopefully they're online somewhere.)
Consumer Reports also has interesting articles on credit cards, sweeteners, vaccuums (it's really hard changing the bag on one vaccuum!), cars, and the new cordless phones.  I have to get one of those!  There's a good piece on cleaning stainless steel refrigerators (watch out for mustard!) and a warning about a popular product for men.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Selling your house tips (links)

Using technology to get your house noticed (from Tech Talk): When shopping for a home in a new city, one of the hardest things for me is remembering the houses I've been in....  Link:

Landscaping upgrades: (from Dig This) We've heard it a million times, but upgrading the home's front landscaping does make a difference....  Link:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More green-building tips

The Fall 2007 issue of Custom Wood Homes has an article on 10 Tips for Building Green, including research--check out U.S. Green Building council website: , design, buying locally, and smart lighting.  Btw, I saw in today's paper that California plans to ban incandescent lights...

There's also an article, Organic Architecture, in that issue.  Organic architecture started in Chile about a decade ago; it should involve not only the shape of the home, but organic materials. the site, and energy-saving elements.

I came across a Golden Eagle (log home builder) ad in that issue too, which focused on a construction project blog: Dirt to Done, which I had to check out.  Here's the website: Log Homes Network  Look for the Dirt to Done link; and there's a free workbook offer on the website.



Friday, August 24, 2007

Selecting a site (link)

Blog Cabin: Checklist for Selecting a Property

In this first installment of DIY's Blog Cabin host Amy Devers reviews the background of how decisions were made, ...

Look at the website for the list: HOME BUILDING : Log Cabins : Blog Cabin: Checklist for Selecting a Property : DIY Network

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Building green study (link)

New York/August 21, 2007/PRNewswire/ — Key players in real estate and construction misjudge the costs and benefits of "green" buildings, creating a major barrier to more energy efficiency in the building sector, a new study by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development reports.   ...

The study also found that fewer than one in seven industry respondents have participated directly in a green building project. Involvement ranges from a high of 45 percent in Germany to just 5 percent in India.   ...

For more: News : Trends : Study: Green Costs Much Lower Than Believed :


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Publication news

Review of Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?
Written by Joy V. Smith
Illustrated by Andrea Gradidge
Ages 3-6
How does Kandy Kitty make a friend when no one wants to play with her?  It's not easy being a playful little kitten but Kandy doesn't realize she plays too rough for the other animals.
Finally one of the animals speaks up and tells Kandy why they won't play with her.  Then Kandy has an idea!  She asks the other animals what they want to play.  Now Kandy has many friends.
This book is a good concept for all young children to learn.  Easy to read with a loveable main character, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? will capture the imagination of the very young.  Bright, bold illustrations bring the story to life and make this an appealing e-book.

This review of an earlier edition of the story ran in Wee Ones Children's Magazine (e-zine).  Buy the book here: Publish America - Publishing Writers' and Authors' Manuscripts ; it's also available on Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?: Books: Joy, V. Smith,Andrea Gradidge

Artist's bio: Andrea Gradidge was originally from the UK and now resides in British Columbia, Canada. She has illustrated various chapbooks and e-zines and also Joy V. Smith's story, "Sammy's Beautiful Tail".

My Oasis 20 (literary SF convention) report is now online at: The Other*Worlds*Cafe: The Cafe: Resources: Conventions: Reports

I was interviewed on the phone by Barbara Mahler of the Marshfield News-Herald (my home town paper) recently.  I'm not sure when that will be published, but I look forward to seeing it.  Thank you, Barbara!

For poetry lovers, here are two chapbooks:

Ancient Skies by oino sakai, illustrated by andrea gradidge {Sam's Dot Publishing}
Ancient Skies is oino sakai's collection of scifaiku, tanka, SFonnets, joined scifaiku, stellarenga, kanshi, and haibun...
Link: THE GENRE MALL...your source for the small press world

Scifaistew, by Teri Santitoro; it's a collection of scifaiku and tanka and haibun by Teri Santitoro, editor of Scifaikuest.  Link:



Monday, August 20, 2007

Historical homes and cultures

There's a great article on saving old houses and materials, Greening the Rolling Hills, in the October 2007 issue of Early American Life.  A couple built their Virginia home utilizing three old log cabins; they also recycled old chimney bricks from burned-out log cabins, old windows, doors, wooden panels, a staircase from a burned-out house, patio cobblestones from a factory parking lot, granite steps, etc.  They used the bricks for the kitchen and sunroom floors; a fireplace lintel is an old curbstone from south Boston.  It's a fascinating story with lovely photos.
I also enjoyed the articles on heirloom seeds and the beautiful old home a couple discovered while house hunting, but possibly the most interesting article was on the old community of Sonnenberg in Ohio, settled by Swiss Mennonites.  Their artifacts and homes are similar to the Pennsylvania Deutsch (Germans), but intriguingly different, as was their culture and religion; even their furniture and wooden shoes are different.  The historical background is very interesting.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hurricane Dean

Dean is now a category 4 hurricane and expected to become a category 5 tomorrow.  Intensifying rapidly and headed for Mexico and/or Texas after going through the Carribean.  Galveston, Texas is getting ready to evacuate if they need to. 


(Thanks for the bulletin, Lloyd)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tropical Storm Erin

Well, TS Erin (formerly TD #5) has come and gone, but I thought I should mention her.  She left a lot of rain in Texas, and Dean is possibly heading for Texas also.

Green (eco-friendly) flooring

The September 2007 issue of Home has an article on eco-flooring, which looks at adobe, certified wood, cork, linoleum, and bamboo flooring and lists their pros and cons.  Bamboo is mostly shipped from the Far East and linoleum often comes from Europe, so you have to think about shipping costs.  Oh, oh.  Demand is beginning to outstrip the supply for cork; and it's shipped from the western Mediterranean.  Bamboo and adobe aren't good for wet and humid climates.  Bamboo isn't good for very dry conditions either.  You really have to think about your choices.    

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tropical Storm Dean

Tropical Depression #4 is now Tropical Storm Dean.  (TD#5 is in the Gulf, heading west.)  Dean is heading west/northwest and is several days away, and the spaghetti strands are mostly pointing west.  It's too early to tell where it's going, but it's predicted to become a category 3 hurricane Sunday.  Here's an earlier report:


(Thanks, Lloyd)




Saturday, August 11, 2007

Publication news

I should be reading the final edit (I think) of my story, Crystal Quest, soon.  It'll be in the shared world anthology, Magistria: Shards of the Goddess.  (Crystal Quest is the sequel to Seedlings, which appeared in Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer.)

For those interested in non-fiction, a friend's article, Generation Spaceships, is in the latest issue of Darker Matter: Darker Matter - Generation Spaceships by I. E. Lester  He's also reviewed a few SF books in that issue.  I plan to read Starship Summer, at least.



Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Home defects (link)

The Weekly Realty Update from Bob Bruss's  August 08, 2007 Newsletter lists some defects to watch out for when buying a house, including poor location, easements, and more.  He also looks at builder's warranties and professional home inspectors. 

Link: Bob Bruss Real Estate Center

Monday, August 6, 2007

Green building

The September 2007 South Region issue of Log Home Living focuses on green building, and there is interesting furniture recycled from old wood, including barn siding, fence posts, pickle barrels, and teak homes from Indonesia.

There's also a good article on building a home while not on site.  Get the builder to take digital photos, among other things.  Good communication is even more important... 

In The Green Scene, Kenya McCullum points out how important siting your house in relation to the sun is.  (Our house is perfectly sited, btw, with the front and back porches protecting us from the rising and setting sun.)  Also, use sustainable materials and keep the waste down, and think about your landscaping--placement and plant choices.  Think about maintenance and energy saving appliances too.

Another article looks at green paints and stains.  Choose a product with low VOC (volatile organic compounds). 




Thursday, August 2, 2007

Publication news

 I have a new book out for children, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me? *

Why doesn’t anyone want to play with Kallie Kitten? Why do they jump into the pond or hide?  Will this frisky kitten learn how to play with the other animals?
I'll be signing my children's book and some of my other books, including Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, at Authors in the Park at the Ybor City Saturday Market in Tampa Saturday, September 8, 2007.
*The colors are brighter than that; I don't know why the left hand bottom corner looks so muddy.