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Kind Words

Inner BeautyWords contain powerful magic.

When someone says, “You look great today,” you immediately get an emotional lift.

As our emotions go, so goes our interpretation of the world we live in. Our DNA gets a boost and our immune system as well. It is a simple Norman Vincent Peale power-of-positive-thinking-style positivism – and I think it goes farther than that.

I was once interviewed on Majid Ali’s radio show on WBAI. It was a really informative health broadcast, which unfortunately is no longer on the air. When at the end of the broadcast, I was asked to say something of personal value to the listening audience, without thinking I said,

“Be careful what you say to yourself.  Someone may be listening.”

“Out of the mouths of babes,” as they say.

Try standing in front of the mirror upon rising; take a good look in your eyes, hold the gaze and say, “You look great today!” Powerful medicine.

If we don’t support our own inner beauty who will?

And, if you feel like it, spread those words around your family, friends, even random acquaintances. A little goes a long way!



The Whole Earth Catalogue

The Whole Earth CatalogueWay back “when” … before Amazon, Kindle, Wikipedia, Google … there were libraries and bookstores. We actually read books that you could hold in your hands. We did not need a Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which paper burns) to remind us of how sacred the printed word is. When we needed information we delved into the great mysteries of paper, ink, and fused bindings.

Though I didn’t know it yet, I was destined to be a tool guy. But wow, as Tom Petty said: “The future is wide open.”

I recall picking up the Whole Earth Catalogue for the first time. It was full of incredible information about tools and techniques … and gazillion back-to-the-land strategies, all bound up in a really big book.

The cover had the striking photo of Gaia taken from outer space. The image immediately and magically connected me to a future where global awareness and wholesome hard work could somehow make the world better. Stuart Brand was the big mind behind the book and J. Baldwin was the tool reviewer. The builders, weavers, potters, herbalists, teachers, creative thinkers – the whole package – was a call to action.

Get your hands on one of these great testaments to ingenuity … no doubt, you can find it on Amazon.

Check out this video of Lloyd Kahn, the Shelter editor of the catalog and the originator of the dome (which he later decided was “a bad idea”). He talks about the traditional handmade home, organic gardening, and balanced living.


Breathable House Wraps

During the early 80’s, standard construction practice was to seal buildings to “save” energy. We installed 4-mil polyethylene to the inner framing creating ultra tight spaces. We soon learned that making buildings too tight without some sort of positive ventilation (such as an exhaust fan) to “off-gas” the by-products of daily life might well be a health hazard. We also learned that sealing with plastic and foam and caulk still allowed some vapor penetration into the walls establishing micro-bursts of moisture against the insulation and sheathing. I soon stopped the plastic layer and went to the careful installation of maximum R-value insulation. The house could breathe again.

One of the great things to come out of this exploratory period was “building wrap” (think GoreTex) which lets moisture out yet keeps the rain from getting in.

The first and most-used brand is Tyvek. Other products (with a lot more texture for safety when using ladders) have since been developed. Local lumber yards have versions of building wrap with their logos imprinted upon them. The non-Tyvek wraps are cheaper and work just as well.

Breathable house wraps are a key factor in a healthy home especially when a newly built plywood-encased structure is still off-gassing toxic chemistry. Floor finishes, paints, grouts, sealers create a real stew of chemicals that we want out of our houses.

I say, let your house breathe.


Information sources

Chinese truth symbolGetting accurate information in an age of extraordinary bias in the news world empowers us.

At the local lumberyard one day, upstairs in the Builder Support Room, I initiated a wide-ranging conversation on health, politics, and the general state of the world. JT, one of the road sales reps made an interesting comment, “I watch Fox News because then I know what I hear is not true.” Cool viewpoint!

I recommend two places where journalistic/informational programming does ring true. is a not-for-profit progressive, somewhat open forum with editorial input and is a powerful Internet resource. The journalists inform the readers on a very wide range of subjects. The big networks or advertisers do not control the opinions. Enough said. was started by the pre-eminent Climatologist Bill McKibbon to promote what he and many others believe to be the facts around climate change and what we can do about it. Check out the title: The End of Nature. Tough truth from a straight shooter.

A word about ideas. In my humble opinion, ideas have a life of their own. What you know and support in your mind attracts other ideas and information of a like sort, and repels the opposite. This evokes the adage:

Garbage in, garbage out.


Fastap Screws

FastapThese are amazingly versatile fasteners. What makes Fastap stand out in the screw universe is the self drilling tip design that opens the screw path long enough for the screw to follow with relatively little effort. The quality of the steel used is higher grade as well, meaning that the head is far less likely to snap off during installation.

During my years as a middle and high school set designer, I used thousands of Fastap screws to build sets of which pieces needed to be disassembled quickly after shows were finished. If we had used common coarse thread drywall screws, many of the heads would have been stripped and certainly many would have snapped. We used the Fastap for multiple shows saving time and money as well.

Beware of imitators! Only premium hardware, home centers and lumber yards sell this line. The cheap Big Box stores do not sell Fastap products and the self tapping designs which they offer do not compare with the Fastap tip.

In refined finish carpentry work, the head automatically countersinks for ease of use and preparation for painting or staining. Quality, efficiency, strength, GO FASTAP!

The only caveat is expense. These are a little pricey, but trust me, well worth the cost.


Cali Bamboo

Bamboo plantsI have used bamboo over the years for many applications: fences, waincot, floors, the bagua for my daughter’s wedding, flutes, etc.

Bamboo is flexible, durable, weather and insect resistant; and most importantly, renewable and sustainable.

A bamboo plantation harvests new crops on a rotating basis and anyone that has grown or seen a bamboo grove growing knows how quickly it spreads and self-maintains, needing little or no pest control and fertilization.

Cali Bamboo is a California based company I have worked with numerous times. Their products represent the full gamut of bamboo application. They definitely deliver as promised. We have used their flooring in both contemporary and traditional applications. It is elegant.

And this company is a member of 1% For The Planet – an alliance of businesses committed to leveraging their resources to create a healthier planet. Members recognize their responsibility to and dependence on a healthy environment and donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. The alliance allows businesses to join together and make a larger impact through synergy.


Pilot Gel Pens

In our digital age, writing by hand is becoming a lost art. I write all of my work with a Pilot G-2 Pro – either red gel on white computer paper, or red gel on yellow lined pads.

Since I write left-handed, I need very quick drying ink and these Pilot Gels deliver. They are also really smooth and consistent. The cartridges are ballpoint style and hold up to my heavy-handed style as well.

A note about handwriting … When we express ourselves through a handwritten message, we deliver a very personal symbolic signal. Since handwriting is absolutely individual in style, there is no doubt who is writing, and who is communicating the feelings that are expressed.

Write a note to someone you love and care about. Say, “I’m thinking about you.” and see how that feels!

Pilot Pens are cartridge replacement systems so you can use the housings for years. They also market pens made from recycled bottles and other post-market recycled materials.

More to come … come back again!