Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Peak Oil Update

Most of my readers are probably well versed in Peak Oil. I always smile somewhat sadly, when I hear someone call something the defining issue of the time, like campaign finance, growing economic inequality, or even the erosion of individual liberty. Those of us long immersed in the Peak Oil scene, know what is, even if most of us are confused really, as to what to do with such knowledge. Especially as word from the media is trumpeting American energy independence, desperately inflating the next bubble, convincing a public that doesn't really need much convincing that there's no need to worry, despite what is staring us in the face. Anyone otherwise well versed in the language of EROEI - energy return on energy invested, the exponential function, and the difference between conventional drilling and deep water, shale and tar sands extraction, knows full well the whole mess is doomed, and sooner rather than later. Admitting that to oneself is hard enough, though. Communicating it is something different entirely.

Climate scientists have mostly failed in this regard, when it comes to climate change. Just as Peak Oil, the climate science is in, and it's conclusive. Obvious really, only confirming what one should be able to comprehend even without it. But so far, belief has plummeted, in favor of whatever will not blame us for it, or in outright denial of the science. Scientists don't get it, why the public doesn't get it. They just assumed, if we show them the numbers, they will understand. It reminds me of Timothy Leary back in the sixties, assuming everyone would just take LSD and all would be peaceful. Neither anticipated the establishment backlash, nor the people's refusal. Who knew that the climate numbers wouldn't matter to so many, that so many people would believe only what they wanted to hear? Who fully grasped the extent to which Americans would favor an emotional message, a narrative, and the reality of it wouldn't really matter as long as it confirmed one's ideologically driven world view?

There's a great implausibility of ever convincing Americans about any of the science behind Peak Everything, the exponential function, and climate change. You can't really argue for any kind of benefit, when the core of your argument is that everything is about to go to hell. Not any benefit that most Americans can conceive of, who have lost so much sense of any relationship to the Earth. I mean, how really are you going to communicate to someone bitching about economics and the welfare state, and the flaw in subsidizing either the poor or corporations, that the fossil fuel energy consumption of the average American is something like equal to the labor of about 160 slaves, who work without pause, who don't question your authority? In a sense, hardly a one of us truly earns the life we have grown accustomed to. Oh, and by the way, those slaves are about to be re-distributed in a way that is going to reduce the support for most of us. And this is why that is good for you!

People may not want to hear it, but connecting the economy, energy and the ecology of climate change, makes for a powerful narrative, hard to deny. Few are building this narrative better than Nicole Foss, Ilargi and Ashvin over at The Automatic Earth, John Michael Greer, @ The Archdruid-Report, Chris Martenson with his Crash Course*, Sharon Astyk on her farm, the many who contribute to the Post Carbon Institute and their Energy Bulletin, and the Oil Drum. There are myriad others, and it's encouraging to see, wherever some hyper-optimistic speculation about oil supplies appears, there are plenty who appear with literate comments to correct it. Citi-bank would have you believe that you never have to worry about oil ever again. So would the Motley Fool, who would make an unsuspecting one out of you, as if propaganda were somehow worthy as a tool of macro-economic punditry. By god, the Wall Street Journal had more sense, hinting at least, that claiming peak oil as dead is actually dependent on all that fancy technology accounting for a 12 million barrel a day shortfall in domestic supply vs imports, and not bankrupting the economy in the process.

It doesn't look like there is going to be the capital to make it work. The whole argument on technology and capital overcoming any finite limits, depends on some very dubious attitudes: first, denial that world oil supply has been flat since 2005, despite high prices; second, denial that economic growth is stymied by a flat oil supply, and a grossly over-extended economy in which far too much capital is swallowed up by interest payments on debt; third, pretending that throwing more and more capital at energy extraction and preparation isn't taking money from elsewhere in the economy; fourth, ignoring that upward ratcheting demand worldwide is putting severe strains on supply; fifth, denial of the evidence that all that new shale and tar sands play isn't nearly as productive as it has been made out to be by the industry; and sixth, denial that all these new non-conventional oil resources are exceptionally detrimental in every aspect, ecologically.

Meanwhile, just as dubiously, are mainstream environmentalists continuing to parrot the idea that we can all live supported by just as many energy slaves, if we just kick the addiction to oil and switch to renewables, an idea hardly one whit less delusional and detrimental to the future of this country than the idea that fossil fuel energy is unlimited. Any kind of renewable based economy, as we understand renewables, is one that would be considerably less complex. America's suburbs aren't designed for it. Nothing of America's civilization is. Everything we know as modern is entirely dependent on cheap and abundant oil...

Contemplating it all is akin to destroying, or over-coming, or transcending the ego. It is truly apocalyptic, whatever you may believe about the prophecies of the time. How much courage does that take, to face it without being forced to by fate? And how easy is it to fall into cynicism, or mockery, as a kind of boundary between myself and the reality of an unraveling world? I've grown weary of commenting in the Huffpost, so many there exercising both cynicism and mockery, and viciousness besides. The idea that we don't really deserve to survive, as a species, is an increasingly prevalent one. Is there any greater ugliness than this, a people convinced of their own inherent shame, as if a world of connection and clarity and love were not their's by right, whatever any authority might say about it? What rights do a people deserve, who have given up on caring and concern? What rights are they going to be given?

What distinguishes the writers and websites listed above, is their choosing life. The have not thrown up their hands, saying, "It will work itself out." They recognize this time as one of unprecedented upheavals, and yet also unlimited possibility, if one is willing to let go of the ideas that are driving the culture toward oblivion. They invest in ideas, and action, about what to do in response to declining energy supplies and economic breakdown; while most of the rest of the country is too busy blaming someone else for whatever problems, without really looking at the core of why things are as they are, and our own part in it. I've been reading a lot about the Illuminati, and end times thinking, in research for a book, and most of what I've found consists in looking for someone to blame, anyone but my self, the more abstract and distant the villain, the better. Consider instead, that no one is at fault for the state of the world, and everyone is. I recommend letting go of the madness, and focusing on whatever you can do to heal, to prepare your core for the troubles ahead. There is a point, when there isn't any more you can read about Peak Oil, Peak Resources, the state of the economy, climate change, epic corruption and denial, that isn't basically redundant. That is something like the beginning of understanding. After that, there is only what I can do, to recover my relationship to the Earth.

* I was cribbing off and parasitizing Chris Martenson's piece on “Dangerous Ideas” for this post. You can find links to the above sites in the Links section, on the left-side column of this blog, though I expect a fair number of my readers are familiar with them all.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

When is the Best Time for Home Buying?

There are times in a year when it is particularly ideal to go into home buying. Aside from the actual time though, the situation of the buyer should also be considered. Timing in terms of what period of the year it is and timing in terms of the financial condition of the buyer are both important.
House Sold
If you are on a fence as to whether it is the right time for you to purchase a house, you may have to consider some or all of the factors enumerated here. Below are some guidelines that may help you decide.

1. Market condition. This is quite obvious, particularly to those who are aware of what is going on in the housing market most of the time. The best time to buy, of course, is when it is a buyer's market. This is a point in time in housing when there are more sellers than buyers. As expected, this favors the buyer since the prices will be lower, more choices are available and their power to negotiate is stronger. Sellers will be forced to compete against their fellow sellers for a limited number of potential buyers, so they will be more willing to lower their prices.

2. Unusual time of the year. Most home buyers get into the market during spring. The weather is ideal for house hunting and this is the time when most sellers unveil their best offerings. However, this is also a time when competition among home buyers is tightest since almost all of them have the same goal in mind. If you have the patience for it, it may be best for you to buy during times when most of your fellow buyers prefer to stay inside their homes. Winter months and the weeks leading to Christmas season are examples of such times. If you shop during these periods, you will have fewer competitors and you may just luck out, especially since sellers who have their properties listed at these times are the most motivated to unload their houses.

3. You have resolved your debt issues. If you are at a period in your life where you have multiple debts to pay for, then you may have to reconsider your plan to purchase a residential property. Paying for a mortgage is a big responsibility, so you need to make sure that you do not have other heavy financial obligations when you decide to buy a house. Pay off 75% or all of your debts first before you go into home buying to avoid being weighed down by too many financial obligations.

4. You are ready to settle down. This does not necessarily mean that you are ready to have a family or to get married, although it could also cover these situations. What this means is that you have really decided that you can stay in one place for long. This is important because you need to live at least five years in a home for it to build a decent equity. So, before going into home buying, make sure that you have really decided that it is the right time for you.

To order your copy of Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE!  

*article from

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Rick Santorum

I was raised an Evangelical Christian by my mother. I gave my life to Christ when I was eight, or I played like I did. I remember the day clearly. I was with my mother at a meeting in the high school gym, held by the Peters brothers, Dan and Steve, semi-famous, or infamous, for burning rock and roll records on the steps of our state capital in 1979, interviewed by no less than Dan Rather and Ted Koppel. Claiming to have found subliminal lyrics by playing rock songs backwards, I remember straining to hear “smoke marijuana” in an otherwise, or really entirely indecipherable jumble of sounds, of Queen's, “Another one bites the dust,” in reverse. When the call went out to be born again, as it does at every Evangelical service everywhere, I bowed my head and repeated all the words, just like I knew my mother wanted me to. She was delighted. So was I, insofar as I had made my mother so happy, who was otherwise a typical Gemini, equal parts holy and holy terror. If Jesus accepted me, I do not know. I like to think he approves of my alienation from the religion in his name, if not necessarily from him. He may not approve of my service to the Goddess, which would be too bad, though I'm not convinced he disapproves. I don't think he was the dominator his followers make him out to be in approval of.

Thus, my interest in the two-term Representative, and two-term Senator from Pennsylvania. Here is a man who makes little attempt to hide what he believes. He is very earnest. That he rose to such an astoundingly high leadership position early in his second term in the Senate, the third-highest ranking, is almost as astonishing as his re-election loss by 18%. It's an open question as to whether Pennsylvanians objected more to his preoccupation with polygamy, man on man, and man on dog sex, or the fact that he was living across the border in Virgina. A lesser man might have given up politics, esp. after being nicknamed after a gross anal profusion (see Google). You don't fuck with the gay guys in a free society. But so anointed a cultural warrior by the media, he aspires to be Emperor. I find it perfectly fitting that a potential future President of the American empire should have such a nickname, except in foreign relations we don't usually use lube.

Most pundits don't take him very seriously. He is viewed equally too far right to be electable, and a liability to Republicans. One might think any man capable of saying, “there has always been inequality and I hope there always will be,” would be embraced by Republicans, but even if you believe it you aren't supposed to say it, and who really thinks a guy who condemns contraceptives could be acceptable to promiscuous America? Not even Fox News knows what to do with him. Of the entirety of Congress, in both houses of which he served, he has the support of zero Senators and three Representatives. And yet he has won as many contests as Romney, and is tied for the lead or leading in polls.

He has won these contests because of people like my mother. I don't know who she supports this time; she just returned from Israel, and seems otherwise preoccupied with the Constitution and the movement to restore the Republic. But she has always participated in local elections, as a volunteer, and she has always voted according to her understanding of the Bible. These days participatory democracy is inconvenient for most of us, preoccupied as we are with making a living, raising children and our televisions and computers and phones. The only people who tend to show up early in the process are the most passionate, and on the Republican side, at the local level, that's more often than not Christians, serving in the name of God, and more particularly Jesus.

The nightmare scenarho for the GOP is Rick Santorum entering the RNC with more delegates than Romney - God forbid Gingrich comes in second, or even first in this crazy process. Romney is Obama's GOP reflection in alabaster, possibly not electable even if the economy tanks. This crowd is probably a nightmare any which way for the GOP, but the worst scenario is having to broker a deal for Romney, a Mormon. It might be preferable to pull someone out of a hat who hasn't run at all. Imagine the fuss Santorum and his Christian supporters would make. I could see that tearing the Republican party in two. Santorum could start his own party, call it INRI (the supposed Latin inscription on the cross meaning Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.)

Thd problem is, Rick Santorum is on firmer ground than pundits think. "This idea that man is here to serve the Earth, as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth.... is a phony ideal. I don't believe that that's what we're here to is here to use the resources and use them wisely, to care for the Earth, to be a steward of the Earth, but we're not here to serve the Earth.

"The Earth is not the objective, Man is the objective....Man should be in charge of the Earth and have dominion over it and should be good stewards of it.”

If stewarding and caring for the Earth is what we have done, I can't bear to imagine what dominion would look like. And, it is for every man and woman to decide for themselves whether they serve the Earth. That aside, his is precisely the message for a people accustomed to the lifestyle of empire, with dominion in their blood, who live as if the lifestyle is a divine right. Emphasizing the objective to be Man and not Human, he is affirming for men who have felt powerless against the perceived rise of women, and an economy that doesn't give a damn, that they are not only of value, but that they should by divine right rule over women, children and the Earth. There are plenty of Christian women who don't disagree with this.

His message is primarily moral, which is to say, emotional. Americans have been very well trained by media to respond emotionally, without thinking. And lest we forget, something like half of Americans don't believe in evolution. A people who refuse to deal with the greater implications of what Science has taught us about the world we inhabit, a people ready for one more thrust of imperial rape and pillage, have the perfect candidate in Rick Santorum.

The nightmare scenario for America is the American economy, or its perceived safety, heading south in a bad way in the next six months. If that happens, it will be a horse race between the fire-breather Gingrich and the theocrat dominionist Santorum, not just for the Republican candidacy, but for the Presidency. If Americans are especially afraid, I can see us falling for Santorum and war in Iran, with inflamed visions in the minds of people like my mother, of the apocalypse described in the book of Revelations, (all because of gays and liberals and pot smokers and radical environmentalists and women having sex for pleasure and abortion and dark skinned people,) the continuation and radical expansion of G-dub's “crusade.” Unless Americans have more sense than I think.

I hesitate to speak clearly to my feelings about Christianity. Mostly because I do not want to alienate Christians. Like it or not, they are bedrock in this country. Most of them are good people trying to live peaceful lives. Still, if I have been hard on the presumptions of scientists in recent posts, I have a similar disgust with the Christian refusal to re-evaluate their creation story. Which I consider a betrayal of their humanity, their country and their God. Some have, but most have not. Vhen I think of the trouble ahead for America, I imagine a people inflamed with the violence sanctioned by the Old Testament God (see Jehrico), and their infatuation with firearms. A myriad number of male Americans inflamed by the likes of Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent (working class Americans both Liberals and Conservatives have abandoned as if they do not exist), as if the only cure for America's ills were to eliminate with extreme prejudice, anyone who fails to ascribe to the dictates of those who lust to kill in the name of God. If it comes to that, I hope good Christians rise up to fight the lunatic ones.

I've said before I've thought 2012 might be the year when people are forced to face the reality of impending oil constraints, with potentially massive upheavals. More and more, the attitudes about biblical apocalypse seem a mirror for the attitudes swirling around the 2012 Mayan end of an Age meme. I've begun to hope for a dud of a year. When I look at Santorum, I don't expect it will be.

If this last debate showed anything, it's that he can speak a language besides a purely moral one. That's to his advantage, if he's savvy. You don't rise to the third ranking position in the Senate after your first term by being a putz. Though I'm also well aware, it may not matter who the President is. Things aren't likely to change much that aren't going to change regardless.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Home Remodeling Tips for the Bedroom

A home remodeling project can change the way you see your house and the way you feel when you are inside it. Some people feel the need for a change after a few years of living in the same place. If you are one of them, a change in decoration or an altered appearance of your surroundings may help.
Remodeling a Bedroom
You can start in your bedroom since this is a place where you spend nearly half of the 24 hours of each day. Various remodeling options are discussed here to give your bedroom a new look and a new feel.

1. Mix and match. Playing with colors and designs can be a fun way to spend your days and also a great way to change the look of your bedroom. If its current look leans more towards a traditional style, like everything in their proper places and every color complementing each other, a bolder, more adventurous look may be in order. If the dominant shades are neutral or safe colors, pick out some bold furniture, like a hot pink foot stool or couch and combine it with the neutral-colored sheets. Add velvet accents instead of the traditional linen and cotton to provide a bolder look. The key is to throw in bold colors and accents amid neutral and safe materials.

2. Romantic look. If you feel that there is too much going on in your bedroom, tone it down a little and go for the romantic look. Choose just three soft shades that you will use for the sheets, curtains, cabinets, lamps and accents. A combination of white or cream, light blue or green and skin-tone color lnoks peaceful and quiet. Add romance by putting bed posts and draperies around the bed and soft light to complete the theme.

3. Modern look. This may require a higher budget since you need sleek and modern furniture to give your bedroom a more sophisticated look. Solid colors combined with pricier furniture can give it a contemporary appearance. Put in a huge headboard in solid color and add a shiny, black bedside table. Light browns and blue shades provide a modern look to any room.

4. Play with shapes. Combining rounded lamps with solid, square and rectangle furniture will produce a creative atmosphere. Accessorize with different figurines and table top decors that vary in sizes and shapes to give your room a more adventurous look. You can also use screens or shades instead of curtains to change the look of the room. Warm colors usually go well with this type of design.

5. Stripped-down design. If you have a tendency to feel crowded in when there is too much color and too much furnishings around, remove them and go for a more stripped-down look. Do without the many-colored pillows and sheets and choose a neutral color all throughout. White or cream all throughout – from sheets, to curtains to carpets – is enough to give it a simple look. Break the monotony by adding a single bold-colored lamp. Home remodeling can be as simple as changing colors or removing excess furniture and you can always start the change in your bedroom.

For your copy of Remodeling Hell, CLICK HERE!  

*article from

Coming Clean

Coming home last Monday after spending time with my beloved niece and nephew, I read my last post and was taken aback by the anger of it. Where is my joy? I thought. I've been exhorting my friend over at Epiphany Now (the musings of an ex-EMT, who is possibly even more angry than I am), to find his joy. The synchronicities have been piling up, and it seems he has found it. In his last post he talked about the archetype of the fox, and how it pertains to his recent resignation from what he describes as the Matrix, the American Hologram. I failed to mention to him, that among the archetypes I am most accustomed to embodying, or attempting to, are the dragon and the green man. As such, my energies tend sometimes toward the intense, and I temper them liberally with coffee, beer, mead, wine, hard cider*, tobacco and cannabis. Looking back on nearly two years of this blog, I think I've said something to alienate just about everyone in America. I've tried too to temper that with the reminder that we are all divine, and existence is sacred.

I bought this house with my father, in the spring of 2006, or as I like to say, about 12 minutes before the market collapsed. I was living with my sister and my niece at the time, but our relationship had deteriorated, and I wanted a house and some land of my own. I owned my own business remodeling houses, and I knew the market was inflated, but I reasoned that this house, on a lot-and-a-half, near downtown, the freeway, the airport, light rail, lakes and small businesses, would level off and sustain it's price. Though the information was available, I knew nothing of the shenanigans going on within the banks and wall street, the now renowned credit default swaps and securitized bundling of mortgages they knew to be bad.

In 2008, working a doomed job at the headquarters of a Fortune 100, with a small mountain of debt and little cash, I walked away from the house, in love with a woman. I lived with her and her children in a neighboring state for two years, while my father, unwilling to walk away, or sell the house at a loss, sure in his boomer faith in the market, continued to pay the mortgage. In the spring of 2010 I returned to the house and started this blog. I have payed the bills since, while my father has paid the mortgage, and I have attempted to secure employment. It looks now like the house will be for sale April 01, as I have not found employment sufficient to pay the totality.

The house is in rough shape. It is an artifact, really, of an age when heating a house was not such a financial concern. There are 28 single pane windows in this 750 sq ft house. It is entirely 2x4 construction, with vermiculite asbestos insulation. The interior walls are painted with about five layers of lead paint. I revealed and refinished all the old hardwoods, and reconstructed a collapsed ceiling in the sunroom, but the kitchen has no foundation nor heat source of it's own except the sun. The bathroom is partially disassembled. The furnace just turned on, though it didn't at all yesterday.

My intention when I bought the house was to remodel it, maybe tear the kitchen off and put a real one in its place. I can do all that work myself. The resources never arrived, however, and now, the house is realistically $50,000-$100,000 under water. If you count the money my father has spent maintaining the house since 2008, my father stands to lose $100,000-150,000 on this house. As I have less than $4,000, and no real employment, 38 years old, that makes me the rich man's son who could never get his shit together.

I had hoped the national mortgage settlement might mean something for my father, but if that all-out lie of an agreement ever helps anyone but the banks, I will be amazed. Because my father is current on the payments, there is no chance for a reduction on the principle, though we bought the house at a price that this house will never see again. And because we signed a 5-year ARM that matured last spring, we already pay a lower interest payment than the banks would prefer. Hell, if you lost your house through no fault but the bank's “robo-signing” foreclosure documents, this agreement that is not in fact a written agreement may only give you $2000, maybe. Because there is not an actual written agreement, I suspect there never actually will be, or whatever is inked at some later date, probably immediately following the next election on a Friday before Christmas, will be so watered down it will probably end up steering whatever money is taken from the banks back to the banks, and then some. Is there a bath deep enough to drown the banks and the Attorneys General in?

Why is the onus entirely on the homeowner, for what was done to the housing market? The banks help inflate a bubble, and then get to draw interest payments on all those grossly inflated mortgages? Sweet deal. I realize they had to eat all those foreclosures, but they signed them and they got bailout money and zero-interest loans more than sufficient to make up the loss. They are bigger now than they were, remember. We're going to need a bigger bath, to fit the Fed, Fanny, Freddy, and really, the entirety of Congress.

None of that excuses me, for my failures, which go well beyond my inability to pay this mortgage. Had I really wanted to, of course, I'm sure I could have found employment sufficient to pay my bills. But something else has been happening to me since I first walked away from the credit financed life I was leading up to 2008. I have been studying economics, the market, the mythology of progress, the story of our culture, and I find myself alienated almost entirely from it. To be a cog in a machine that is remorselessly devouring the Earth, is no longer a thing I can be. To participate actively in policies that are clearly leading humanity toward economic and ecological oblivion, is no longer a thing I can tolerate for myself. To sleepwalk in the faith of salvation from the outside is no longer a thing I can do.

Though I had dreamed of taking this house off the grid, I've dreamt mostly of late of tearing it down and building a passive solar, straw bail house, or one entirely out of hemp. What is the likelihood my city government would allow me to build such a house? Really, if I want to grow hemp, to turn it into a house, where in America do I get to demonstrate that?

I may have failed this house and my father, but I turned this yard into a garden. I might plant fruit trees yet, just to continue what I started, what I would do if I were keeping it. Then leave it up to the universe to decide - if I am not to keep it, then whom? It would make me happy to transfer stewardship to someone who could, and do to the house what I have not been able to do. That's a rare one, I expect. More likely is the developer who returns the yard to sod, tears down the house and builds an inefficient 3000 sq ft stick-frame rectangle. And all the neighborhood can rejoice for the increase in relative property values.

I think I might even leave my country for awhile. Decouple myself as much as possible, from the system that sustains us. A decade ago, looking ahead to 30, I spent half a year in the Boundary Water Wilderness and Quetico Provincial park, on a solo canoe tour. Looking ahead to forty, I'm grateful for what this house has been for me. It has been a kind of energetic cradle, along with the yard, nurturing me on my path of healing. It was in the fall of 2006, in this house, that I reached the nadir of my adult life, when I could no longer fathom going on living as I had been. I put myself on a path of healing, and I could not have fathomed how much things would change, for me, for all of us. I've come to a similar nadir now, but this time it's not so much about me, as about my species. Its clear to me now that on the trajectory we are on, unless there is some inconceivable shift, we are going to turn this planet into a wasteland. And I think we could see that, either the shift or the wasteland, before my niece and nephew are old.

I'm sometimes at a loss, as to whether or not I have healed, whether or not the path I put myself on has been healing for me. In many ways, I'm not that much less estranged or alienated or isolated, than I was in 2006. I'm much closer to my sister, and my niece and nephew are like an anchor, holding me steady. I'm much more clear than I was, about what this life is about. Otherwise I'm mostly alone. The house across the street was built in the 1880's, and the streets plotted, to entice the people to settle the wilderness. I might as well be in a wilderness, for all the connection I have to my neighbors, for how distant are my friends. I thrive on solitude, but the distance between me and any kind of community isn't healthy. I've written two books, I'm writing a third, I've been maintaining this blog, but sometimes I despair, that the way I tell the story of my life is of any kind of value. Lately, I've despaired, that if I am to be the measure of my world view, then no one should be recommended to view the world as I do, that I should walk away from books and writing and let the world fall to ruin, which it is sure to do whether I write or not.

I named this blog Off the Grid in Minneapolis, because I meant it as a kind of venue for me to describe living without utilities, and the process of taking the house off the grid. Instead, it has been more a vehicle for my lifting of the veil, for the process of my disillusionment with the mainstream view of the world. It has been an exploration of ideas, an act of articulating and clarifying. I haven't always been right, and at times I may have been near delusional, but I have ever tried to be honest.

So what is this post? I may very well be homeless by the summer solstice. In which case, the premise for this blog will be at an end. I'm ready to move on. Waking up each morning to a 45-50 degree house has been rude, and it takes a long time to gather my head. I will continue to write. Where this blog will go from here, I cannot say. I have never known where I would go with this blog, week to week. Nothing about that is likely to change. Basically, if I am going to take such strong positions on the topics I do, there needs to be a regular reality check. If you are going to read my writing, you should know what I am. I'm still working that out.

I love my country. I love what America was meant to be. But more these days, I think of myself as a biological entity, in a biosphere that is increasingly degraded, by the exponential growth of a species that is not yet awake to its role on the planet, and may never be. I have no hope whatever that American Empire can be sustained, and I am wary of a people who do not know any other way.

*I'm fond of hard cider, in small amounts. Too much cider I find stupefying, literally. I've wondered at times, if the reason for the apple as the forbidden fruit wasn't the exasperation of the ancient Israelites, at the stupefying effect hard cider had on the community (if it has that effect on others besides me, and they had access to it.) It was surely a cause for prohibition in America. The most common alcoholic beverage in America, in the last half of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, was hard apple cider. It's no easy thing to follow the path of empire if the men of the aspiring empire are perpetually stupefied. Anyway, I'm going to be pulling back a bit from intoxicants for awhile, and focus again on healing. Because I can't heal the world but by first healing myself. And this Earth is very much in need of healing.

(BTW, I'm mulling a post on Rick Santorum, based on his statement that the Earth doesn't matter - this week)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

12 Most Refreshing Remodeling Tips

12 Most Refreshing Remodeling Tips
During the holiday season, homeowners are confronting aspects of their property more closely, as a result of entertaining friends and family. Being guests themselves, at open houses and small gatherings, those same homeowners are taking mental notes about what improvements or changes they might choose for their own homes.
Here is a listing of a dozen recent remodeling tips for upcoming projects:

1. Continuity

Start from your main entry and see your home as do guests. If you own an older home, previous owners may have added their own “touch” with a different floor, a new color scheme in one room and over time, the continuity was lost. Just be sure to take into account how your home looks from different eyes.

2. Put in some color

There have been many periods where minimalism was very appealing. If you happen to have a home with an abundance of contrasting black and white walls, flooring and ceiling patterns, spend some time imagining warmer colors and the effect, aesthetically and emotionally, such a change might offer.

3. Storage

Whether you’re updating your home for your own pleasure or investing as a means of boosting value, increasing and improving your storage capacity, especially in the kitchen, bedrooms and garage, may add practical utility that will be appreciated.

4. Combine wants with needs

Like any project, you have constraints of financing, time and scope. To prevent your remodeling plans from growing in unhelpful directions, control the scope of your project by first listing those needs your house might have and then build the want list around those needs.

5. Bathroom

There’s a consensus among real estate professionals that remodeling the kitchen and any bathroom will yield the best returns; there’s also an agreement that, of the two, bathrooms are less expensive. Bathrooms get plenty of wear and tear, so remodeling and old one or adding another may combine both wants and needs.

6. Refinish Bathtub

If you have an older home and it contains an iron bathtub, even one in rough shape, don’t replace it – refinish it. Reputable companies that provide this service can take an old tub and resurface it until it looks like new.

7. Countertops

Think of replacing a countertop as a simple, relatively inexpensive way of updating a kitchen or bathroom. For serious cooks who plan on sticking around in the same house for some years, marble countertops with slate tiled (not stainless steel) backsplashes are a classic looks with a modern touch, though more costly.

8. Patio

Don’t think of increasing your living space as an exclusively indoor affair. If you entertain, or if you simply enjoy the outdoors, adding a patio can provide that extra living space that will get plenty of use. Adding to the functionality of homes are outdoor kitchens of various scopes and styles to accommodate climates and lifestyles.

9. Patio doors

Your parent’s generation had patio doors that added to the openness of a room, but also added to heating costs. With leaps in thermal properties, widening your access area to the patio with glass doors no longer mean inefficiencies in maintaining your indoor climate.

10. Radiant Heat

Radiant heat is one way to control the amount of energy you use based upon real-time needs. From accommodating individual preferences to keeping patios floors comfortable and snow free, radiant heat has advantages worth considering.

11. Retirement 

If you see yourself remaining in a home into retirement, consider both the convenience and financial savings of building in easy access/easy mobility features intn your remodeling plans.

12. Consult an architect

If your plans involve additions of rooms, removal walls or major changes to the outline of your home, invest the money to consult with an architect. Together, you can head off potential problems that can lead to an unsatisfying result or expensive rework. Like any profession, not all architects are alike, so engage in some thorough due diligence in researching architects far beyond the helpful recommendations of friends and colleagues.
No remodeling project has ever come and gone without periods of trepidation and frustration. Your project will be no different, either. When those inevitable moments come, picture yourself as the host of next holiday season’s open house and imagine the compliments you’ll hear, including your own.

To order your copy of Remodeling Hell, please ! 

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