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Showing posts from September, 2012

The New Normal in Housing

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This was a somewhat confusing week, if you're interested in whether the housing market is recovering, or not. On Tuesday, we heard that "we're at the start of a real housing recovery". On Wednesday, the AP reported that "New U.S. home sales edged down 0.3% in August". And yesterday we read "Pending sales of existing homes falls below mark considered healthy." On the same day, blogger David Dayen ran an informative piece on the housing statistics, although under the rather misleading headline "New Home Sales, Home Price Statistics Continue to Fuel Optimism on Housing." Misleading, because the gist of his article was that the optimism is based on results buoyed by three factors that are sending "false signals" with respect to true demand: a slight increase in the number of people employed since last year, the artificial suppression of supply of due to people not putting their homes on the market, and a speculative bubble in key …

It's That Time of Year Again...

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...at least, here in Central Pennsylvania. I woke up yesterday morning and it was a brisk 62 degrees in the house. Just the right temperature for the onset of The Fever.

For you hunters, that means Buck Fever. But I gave up the hunt years ago once I figured out that I was more likely to succumb to frostbite or a fall from a tree stand, than the deer was to my bullets. So I exchanged the passion of the hunt for the passion of the wood fire.

Yes, this is the time of year that every wood-burner gets the fever to start that first fire. The woodstove and flue have been professionally cleaned, the firewood has been split and stacked...

Ah, nuts. Yes, I had the stove cleaned, but I've been so busy on other projects that I forgot to take down the two or three trees that I had targeted for firewood this year. Too late now. I'm the perfect sucker, uh, customer for the firewood vendors, one of the minions who wait until the worse possible time (peak demand season) to find some firewood t…

Great Designs in Wood (31) - The Water Tower House of London

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Well, I'm not sure what I quite think about this one...but the comments on the bed and breakfast website from folks who have stayed in the house, make it sound great!

Go to the website here, and after viewing the photographs, click on the  "Street View" tab. Pretty neat.

Just goes to show, whatever people want to do, wood will make it better. Don't think the folks who stay here would be as crazy about it if the walls were the original concrete. Couldn't find a reference to what kind of wood is used, but it looks like a pine species from the photos.

From a story on the structure in the London Daily Mail...
Tom Dixon, the acclaimed designer known for his work with the Habitat chain, bought the tower and its surrounding land in 2005 and has been overseeing his vision for a futuristic home ever since.First it was sectioned off into three storeys and clad with timber, then a dozen windows were cut into its walls.
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The levels are connected by spiral stairs. Access from…

Global Warming...and an Alternative Course of Action

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You've noticed it's getting a little hotter each year, and you're buying into the concept of global warming. Here's an excellent explanation of why what you're feeling is in fact a reality, at least with respect to the last few decades.  Dr. James Hansen of NASA demonstrates with the use of a statistical probability curve that in fact, the warming trend we've all noticed is, in fact, not a figment of our selective memory.




And here's a nice visualization of the data that Dr. Hansen is presenting above, that demonstrates the recent shift in the temperature curve really took off in the 1980's.



Now, Dr. Hansen is an interesting fellow. He's been at the forefront of the climate change debate for a long while, has been recognized for "clear communication of climate science in the public arena", and is one of the leading activists seeking to curtail the use of fossil fuels, and coal in particular. He's been criticized by folks on both sides o…

Remembering 9/11, and Looking Forward

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On a day that still hurts so much...good to remember, better yet to look forward with hope for a brighter future.




Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

Only The Bees Know...

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If you haven't heard that our honeybees have been having a hard time of it lately, you aren't paying attention to natural resource issues in the news. But if you've got kids, you might have seen The Bee Movie, starring Jerry Seinfeld...




...and not realized that there really is an issue underneath the humor of the movie. Here in North America it's been called Colony Collapse Disorder, and scientists around the world have been trying to figure out what's wiping out bee colonies all over the planet. So far, everything from global warming to bee mites and pesticides have been blamed, but one gets the sense we really haven't figured out what's going on.

This has pretty important implications for the planet, as everyone in the know (meaning everyone who's seen The Bee Movie) understands that without bees pollinating plants all over earth, we run out of plants pretty quickly, which is not a good thing. But scientists and their Extension counterparts are doing …

Quick Notes for the Weekend

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The Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Association is having their first annual conference on October 2nd and 3rd at the Harrisburg East Holiday Inn. Sounds like a great event from the line-up of speakers they've put together, and interesting tours will be given to those who want to see biomass energy close up. Click here to see all the details...

Received a nice note from Jessica Hickman of the famous Hickman Lumber family in western PA, and she brought her blog site to my attention. She's a natural writer, does a great job explaining lumber-related trivia, and her photography is stunning. Check it out here...

Also had an interesting exchange with Patrick Kennedy of Superior Woodcraft. Here's a shortened version of the exchange...
Patrick: ...I reblogged your information about clearcutting.  This type of information is helpful for our industry.  Many clients feel bad about buying wood cabinets because they are cutting down trees.  When I talk to them about the benefits many feel …

Pennsylvania Clearcut Tour

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Out on the road yesterday, stopped to eat my lunch on the side of the road, and decided to take a walk into an adjacent clearcut. As I rounded a turn just a couple of hundred feet from the road, I literally stumbled onto a pack (gaggle, herd, flock?) of turkeys who did their best to let me know I was not a welcome member of their club. So, I pulled out the smartphone, but of course, they got into the bush before I could figure out which button to push to get the video camera running.

Anyway, I kept the video running and shared some thoughts as I walked through the stand. I've always thought the most misunderstood concept of the environmental movement is that of clearcutting of a forest. I know it looks bad, and it intuitively feels like the wrong thing to do to cut down all the trees over a large area. But folks who own land and have had it clearcut, and foresters who spend a lot of time on the land, understand that the earth's response to a clearcut is with a smorgasbord of …