It may not be officially winter yet, but it's just around the corner. Lest we get complacent with the warmer weather, this Southerner on the move gives Tommy and the rest of you New England folk a reason to double-check your Winter Preparedness List.
Hank: I'm moving from the South to the Northeast for work. I know you're a Boston guy, so I'm curious to know what I need to be prepared for in terms of the Winter. Maybe give me the top 3 things I should be thinking about in terms of surviving a New England winter.
Tommy: Welcome to New England!
1) Four wheel drive. I used to get around without it until it snowed like crazy or got really icy, then you were stuck. Now I have a truck and I wouldn't do it any other way. At least have front wheel drive. But personally I find that having four wheel drive is a must. And if you don't have a reliable car, make sure you've packed extra clothing in the car in case it breaks down.
2) Long underwear. I go with Carhartt. Maybe it's because I'm used to wearing it as a kid. I've been caught outdoors without it before and let me tell you, it's not worth it. Sometimes when you first go outside it may seem warm, but cold weather creeps up on you. Inside 15 minutes, you're going to feel it.
3) Warm jacket. Again, I may go with Carhartt, although some people don't think they're the prettiest. A lot depends on what you're doing. If you're going to be outside for an extended period of time, you'll want a heavier jacket. And make sure you're layered. I always have turtlenecks.
Besides that, you'll definitely want good boots and socks. And lastly, be prepared for it to get dark after 4PM. That's going to be an adjustment!
It's the Holidays! It's the time for eggnog, caroling, presents and sappy movies starring Jimmy Stewart! It's also the time for tragic falls from ladders, house fires and accidental ingestions.
Want to keep this Holiday joyful and mishap-free? Follow these important tips, courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Fire Protection Association:
Place trees away from heat sources. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, property losses from Christmas tree fires are up around $19 million. So keep the tree a safe distance from stoves, fireplaces, vents and radiators.
Buy Fire Resistant fake trees. It's great that you want to be more environmentally-friendly and buy a fake tree. Just be sure the tag reads "Fire Resistant."
Keep the Tree kid-safe. This means using unbreakable, inedible, un-sharp decorations. Dispose of tree trimmings immediately.
Use Caution with Candles. Never leave the home with candles burning. Never go to bed with the candles burning. Place candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface, out of reach of kids and pets. Make sure the candles are place well-away from anything that can catch fire.
Light with Safety. Lights can pose a few different hazards. To ensure that the lights you intend to use are safe, look for lighting sets test by the UL or a similar laboratory. Check all lights for damaged sockets, compromised wires or loose connections. Throw out any damaged sets. The same goes for extension cords. Be sure that lights used outdoors are certified for outdoor use. And most importantly, use caution when climbing ladders to hang up lights.
We have to scratch our heads a little at their Corner Window slide, though. Maybe we're not looking at the same houses that they are, but this seems like a smaller movement and not so much a full-blown trend. We agree that they're cool and they add to a room's brightness and sense of space. And surely more homeowners would like to have one (or three). But prominence on wish lists does not a trend make.
As far as passive homes go, well, there's still a lot of questions as to how the next four years are going to go, housing-wise. There may have been a demand for green building before the bubble burst, but it has yet to reach those heights again. With that said, energy efficiency is sort of walking the line between trend and the norm. We'd love to see it more the latter, of course, and a little help with rebates and incentives goes a long way.
Have you incorporated any of these trends into your home?
A huge flock of huge turkeys just paraded again through my yard. Perhaps to impress upon our too human emotions that they were here first. They are big creatures. And smart. And adaptable. They have evolved and survive in our human urban-ecosystem despite their forest genes.
The first Thanksgiving was to give thanks for those settlers that survived. Disease and hunger were rampant. The Indians brought food (and then were wiped out by white folks' diseases). Visiting their recreated Plymouth Plantation today makes stark the contrast between how we live today (houses, electricity, medicine, food) and how they lived.
In olden times, the myths of winter were scary. Weird opinions that sought to explain the changing of the seasons, starvation, wild animals, diseases, floods, hurricanes, death. They've been replaced by even sillier modern myths like Harry Potter, and a teen-aged vampire. I read fairy tales when I was young.
The Junco birds are back so I know that winter has arrived. They are Mother Nature's calendar. It's time to light the wood stove and wait for the coming of spring and return of the planting season.
Perhaps it is time for us humans to grow up and out of the old mythology and fairy tales. Scientific information is illuminating our physical world as never before. Neurological science is explaining the cellular activity in the human brain. And this is changing our understanding of why we believe what we think we know. It's also changing our understanding of some long held beliefs.
Some serious thoughts: What is fact and what is opinion? More important, what is science and what is passion. For example, Darwinism versus Creationism is an old dichotomy that has been dragging along for more than an century.
Today, with information coming in tweets and blogs plus plagiarized books and articles, plus passionate opinions, it's hard to know what's fact, and what's hot air. A lot of people have an idea and spout off, but often really don't know anything about the subject. First they make up their minds, then get "the facts" on line. But they only look at information to support themselves, never both sides.
I, for one, enjoy the arrival of the Junco at the bird feeder. In his bones, he can tell how fast the temperature is dropping in Canada, and he remembers that food is available in my garden. He can't read the scientific Growing Degree Days temperature charts as I can. But he will feel the warmth when its time to fly north again. And often be wrong.
That is the difference between understanding the world by feelings or by scientific information. Human society is still learning when it comes to myths versus knowledge. And Thanksgiving is a good time to recall the myths and black fears of the Pilgrims and try to move from their log houses to the modern world. And be give thanks for what a better life we enjoy today.
Ruth S. Foster is a landscape consultant and arborist. More gardening information can be found on her website: www.mothersgarden.net.
The economy may have been the main election issue, but neither candidate delved too deeply into their plans for housing in America. Now that we know our president for the next four years, what can we expect for the housing market?
Forbes published an article recently that sought to answer this question. Among the related topics tackled, the article hit upon these points as they related to Obama and his direction:
Refinancing. In the previous term, Obama and his administration took steps to make it easier to refinance at the current rates. Expect more of the same.
Mortgage Regulations New mortgage standards are expected in January 2013, per the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The new standards will impose legal and financial hurdles upon lenders who attempt to issue mortgages judged to be greater than a borrower can repay.
No end to mortgage interest deduction. At least not for middle-income taxpayers. Obama appears okay with cutting it for the wealthy, but has reasons to keep it in place for the average household.
Read the whole article here. How will your housing situation be affected over the next four years?
Although the East Coast is not completely out of the harm's way, response teams have been pouring in to help victim's of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy.
Preliminary death tolls are as high as 33 and the commercial and residential damages will take weeks to add up.
Every little bit that fellow citizens can do to help will also add up. Here are a few ways you can make an instant and lasting impact on the response and recovery efforts following the storm's devastation:
Statistics tell use that tens of thousands of table saw accidents occur every year in the U.S. While these facts weren't enough for California to pass a law requiring all newly manufactured table saws to include special (but costly) safety equipment, it still should be enough to give any aspiring woodworker or DIYer pause, especially when in the market for a new table saw.
Currently there is one stand-out table saw safety product on the market called Saw Stop. This device brings the saw to a sudden halt when the blade comes into contact with human flesh. (Watch the video of a guy who actually tests the technology out on his own hand. Crazy.) Is it worth the money? One user asks Tommy for his opinion.
Amos from Maine: I want to get a table saw but my significant other is pushing me to get one with Saw Stop. The problem is, that costs more money than I'm willing to spend. Are there other technologies like Saw Stop that do the same thing that are cheaper? Aren't most of the amputations that happen on table saws preventable just through safer practices and more attentiveness? I'm basically trying to find out if I REALLY need to spend the money on this safety device.
Tommy: They call them accidents for a reason.
I always thought that good working habits would always save me from cutting myself. But about 5 years ago I was cutting a small piece of wood and basically lost my attention. I ran my thumb across the table saw blade. I had a cut down the length of it. Basically I filleted my finger. I needed twenty stitches.
I cut myself on a Sunday and got a Saw Stop on a Monday. And to me, knowing I won't have to go through that pain and suffering and damage to my hand is worth a million times what the Saw Stop costs.
Now I know that it's basically the only technology available right now, but I also know other companies are coming out with them. I'm not familiar with them at this time. I also know they're working on similar safety devices for other tools in the shop. And when they do, I'll get those, too.
So, take that as you will. I'm not here to endorse a product, but now you know my story and you know what I think.