Friday, October 22, 2004

Completely off-topic

I finished Christmas shopping today

I can't talk about what I got my sister or David, since they both read this blog. But Mom and Dad have nifty things coming: alpaca sweater, horned lizard jewelry, many fine pieces of duck-shaped things for the bathroom. We have a long-running duck joke in our family, and I've used that to best advantage.

What did you say?

David made the comment yesterday that if the funding comes through for his B & B (he wants to buy one south of here, in a touristy area known for its wine) he'll get me a MINI for Christmas. Not likely, but I can dream.

Extremely touching

One of the nurse techs at work told us how he proposed to his wife. She was flying to LA, at the other end of the state, and he had the gate attendant wipe all the flight information off one of the boards and replace it with the words, "Maria, will you marry me?" The gate attendant then announced the proposal over the airport intercom, and everybody around them applauded. Cynical me got a tear in her eye over that one.

Straw what?

I've recently developed a fascination with straw-bale construction. It's termite- and rodent-proof, earthquake- and tornado-proof, damned near fireproof, and cheap cheap cheap to build. A per-square-foot cost of $10 is about all I'll probably be able to afford, ever, and most existing houses are far too big for me. I'm looking at two bedrooms, two baths, and right at 1,000 square feet. Preferably passively-solar-heated, with in-floor hot water heating in the bathrooms (I found I loved that in Denmark) and solar panels on the roof. I don't want to go totally off-grid or sell back energy to the utility folks, but it would be nice to have a system that would make things cheaper, as well as act as a backup.

The neatest thing about straw-bale construction is, for me, the "truth window". That's a little bit of un-plastered wall you leave in the interior part of the house, covered with glass, to show the structure of the house.

They say that hemp bale construction is even better than straw in terms of insulation (straw has an R-50 value on its own), but I hear that hemp dulls chainsaw blades, is a bitch to work with, and is hard to pierce with the rebar that allows it to be load-bearing. Plus, you can't get it anywhere but Canada.

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