Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Aaahhhh! There's nothing like sitting by a warm fireplace on a cool crisp evening, all wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket with some hot cocoa or cider in your mug! Winds howling outside can just stay there; however, part of remaining snuggly warm has to do with eliminating that nasty draft from around the doors and windows due to the fire eating the oxygen in the room and sending it up the chimney.

Fireplaces are usually considered 90-95% inefficient. Suffice it to say, they are one of the worst ways to heat a home; however, sometimes the lure of watching the fire is too much to abstain from. How then, do we make burning wood for heat more efficient?

There are three ways to improve the heating capabilities of fireplaces: design, placement, and fresh air delivery. Additionally, there are a few other options to taking an existant fireplace and making it slightly more efficient that I will mention, but first, let's start with the fireplace itself...

#1 - DESIGN:

Build a better fireplace! Although a masonry stove fireplace is the most efficient due to having a second burn chamber (these are massive, labor intensive to build, and are typically found only in Europe), they can be quite expensive, so to keep in accordance with standard sizes and cost, I recommend a Count Rumford fireplace!

The Count Rumford design is different than a standard fireplace because the design of the firebox and opening is different. This allows the fire to throw more heat into the room via three ways:

1. The firebox is shallower than a standard fireplace, placing the fire closer to the front (nearer to the room).

2. The opening at the top of the fireplace is slightly higher than a standard fireplace, allowing the smoke to crackle and burn off some of the impurities in the smoke, which gives off extra heat.

3. The back of the firebox is angled at the top to reflect more heat into the room.


Put the fireplace inside, not outside of the house!

Most fireplaces are built backwards from what they should be, with the brick chimney on the outside of the house. Bricks provide thermal mass, which warms up and gives off heat... but in a traditional fireplace all that heat from the brick is being lost to the outside! Why would we want to warm up the forest, or our neighbors, when the idea is to warm up ourselves inside our house?

A properly built fireplace will have the chimney not only on an interior wall, but it will have the thermal mass (whether it is brick, stone, etc.) exposed so the heat can transfer to the surrounding room(s), which in turn reduces heating bills, and keeps the home more comfortable.


Bring in fresh air to feed the fire!

Fires consume oxygen to burn, which means it is sucking air to feed it from within the room. The heated air then goes where? Straight up the chimney to the outside! This is one reason why fireplaces are so inefficient; so much hot air is lost to the outside while it is pulling cold air in from the outside.

Instead of letting a fire suck air from around the windows, or a slightly-opened window, underneath doorways, and so on, bring tempered (gently warmed) air in through an earthtube.

An earthtube is a 100-foot long PVC pipe that runs 6 feet deep underground that has an intake and outlet for air. Cold winter air enters the intake, travels through the earthtube and is warmed by the earth's stable temperature underground, and exits the tube near the entrance of the fireplace (usually on the floor near the fireplace opening).

The result is pre-tempered air that feeds the fire instead of pulling cold drafts from around the room, thus making the fireplace more efficient!

The good news is that earthtubes also--and primarily--are used for cooling the house in summer, provided there is at least one earthtube in place per room of the house, but one single earthtube is all that is needed to feed a warm fire, and keep the room(s) in your house more cozy!


There are a few more ways to make a fireplace more efficient, which include adding a fireplace back to reflect heat back into the room, use a damper, put fireplace doors on (to stop excess drafts from exiting up the chimney), and using a blower to force the heat into and around the room.

Another way to make a fireplace more efficient is to put in a woodstove insert. Woodstove-fireplace inserts are more efficient than standard fireplaces and can be fueled by electricity, propane/natural gas, wood, pellets, or coal. They can even have a front door with a window so you can watch the fire as in a traditional fireplace.

Some people choose to eliminate fireplaces and chimneys altogether and install an efficient woodstove in it's place (instead of a woodstove insert). This way the entire firebox is in the room (as opposed to in the wall) and they radiate heat into the room far more readily; additionally, EPA certified wood stoves are 50% more efficient than old style woodstoves.

Earthtubes can also feed tempered air to woodstoves and help with heating efficiency. If you want to learn more about how to make earthtubes please see my article called COOL AND HEAT YOUR HOME WITH EARTHTUBES online at

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Charlotte sat straight up in bed with a gasp, still blinking hard from sleep. Her eyes tried to focus on any object in the dark room almost as hard as her mind worked on wrapping itself around the dream that woke her.

The key, she KNEW, was all in belief. Not as much as what she believed, but in the seemingly magical power of belief itself.

She suddenly grasped that the key to the future was somehow all tied up in her faith--or lack thereof--as to how that future would manifest itself. Her thoughts quickly settled on the famous and upcoming December 12, 2012 "sign" as well as the winter solstice in a mere 9 or so weeks.

Charlotte still didn't quite understand how her mind, her subconscious, the quantum world, and space-time itself could work together like this amazing machine it was, in order to bring the elements of fate into reality.

But was it fate? How much was choice? She thought hard about the matter of things from the past. What were the lessons?

Fate cannot be changed, she realized... yet she still wondered about whether doing a 180 degree turn-around once given a premonition would help alleviate what once seemed like a certain future?

What if we choose a different future, she pondered?

Charlotte remembered the premonition she had of three prophetic signs she KNEW would happen once she decided to go on a trip to Sedona, Arizona, many years before. She prepared for these things to occur, and occur they did. But what if she had turned it around, and decided not to go at all? Would these three happenings even occurred at all? Or would they have manifested anyway in a different location? Or would she have subverted their manifestation altogether?

The test had not been tried. She had, the previous year, been faced with a premonition and not listened, and it happened anyway. She did not turn it around as she felt she could have.

Charlotte's test was still before her. Everything about it mattered, she knew. Everything about her belief in what was coming would mark how the 2012 omen would manifest.

Thoughts turned to her old beliefs of fore yonder, when she had built her faith in Biblical numerology, and how it manifested the meaning of the 666. Not 666 traditionally bound up in religious dogma, but how this energy carried through into her life. How the illusion of the world around her brought it into being at some other level.

This 666 was the date that became the turning point in Charlotte's life, but only because BELIEF had made it so! She knew this to be true. Somehow this belief stuff had become personal.

She had been taught as a child that it was the number of the mark of the beast. The number, not of some anti-Christ person, but of mankind itself. The number stood for the evil sins of humankind outside of some concept of what "God" or all-things-good stood for. She remembered as a teenager she had a tangible FEAR of what might happen on the date 06/06/06.

In fact, it was the beginning of the worst years of Charlotte's life.

Somehow, her belief way back then, growing up in a Christian household, had carried over into her adult life, even though her religious beliefs had changed and altered over time. Her fears manifested a reality where all hell broke loose on 06/06/06.

Charlotte could hardly breathe. She understood the implications. Her life started to fall apart on that day, due to the evils of a single male human being who stood for the epitome of all things ungodly. It flowed over into the feminine, and symbols of lions and birds. It was a day of reckoning.

The visions she had before, became. They manifested without her conscious effort.

What would 12/21/12 entail? Traditionally, the date was not unsimilar to the Y2K (Year 2000) belief system. The world was up in arms about that date, and computers that could not being able to turn over due to a short-sighted programming error. Vast amounts of money, training, and fix-it efforts were made all over the country to solve the issue so that computers would not shut down, including the ones that ran the country's electric power grid.

Many people had expected havoc to reach the masses on midnight of December 31st, 1999, bringing in the Y2K second of despair.

Yet a prophet she knew had told Charlotte that Y2K would be a mere bump in the road, and that the real change in the country would come from how the elections were run. Indeed, Y2K simply vanished into history as "just another day" while the Presidential elections were rigged in Florida, and the older generation screamed with fists in the air, while the younger generation felt to merely go with the flow.

Because of this, the twin towers falling due to terrorism on September 11th, 2001 became the new date for unexpected havoc in America. Years later the country would become aware of secret inner workings and otherwise-impossible happenings surrounding the event. Conspiracy was afoot.

9 meant "judgment" and 11 was a "lack" or "disorder and judgement" according to those who believe in patterns found within the Bible. For her, however, 11 had always been a positive number, as well as any repeating number (11:11, 2:22, 3:33, etc.). To her, seeing the 11's meant everything was in perfect order, and was ready for the next thing to occur. Perhaps it meant that everything was going to happen as it was meant to happen, whether positive or negative, and that the process was already happening live. Was it stoppable?

Charlotte knew that the United States and the American Dream would not last forever. Everything had become run by corporations, and she had long been waiting for the day when war would come, and the country would fall apart... yet so far it had not happened in her lifetime. Nor did she want it to. Even nearby countries such as Canada were affected--as unintended consequences--by the 9/11 events. It had affected immigration, and other areas of peoples' lives around the glove.

So what was going to happen soon on 12/12/12 or even 12/21/12?

Charlotte's personal numbers including 1's, 2's, 3's, and 7's. It was all tied up in her life. She had seen the repeating 11's since childhood. Well before the more positive and supposed New Age 11:11 gateway had been "opened." She always felt that the movement was mostly due to peoples' imagination since it had already been part of her reality, outside of their attempts to work it up and raise energy where it had already been raised without effort.

Also, she had seen the 12's (divine government) and 21's (exceeding sinfulness of sin, although to her it had a positive meaning). 3's meant "completion" and 7's meant more "complete completion." 17 meant "victory." So many numbers with so many meanings.

She had already passed her 40th year, which Biblically meant her days of trial and testing were over, and the beginning of the rest of her life was in effect. Her future was supposed to be bright!

Would an awakening occur on December 12th? Would the "end of the world" really happen on December 21st? Images of fate and personal choice suddenly dropped into her lap again as possibilities and consequences that her beliefs in these things would bring about.

Earthquake? Famine? World War III? Citizens being arrested and detained without trial or arraignment due to the Patriot Act? Prison camps on U.S. soil? Nuclear disaster? Mega-tsunamis? Impossible physical pole flips of the earth, or just a magnetic flip?

Or would 12/21/12 just be another day, with a fictitious Zombie Apocalypse joke running amok the following morning, as an affront to when the "end of the world" believers?

It begged the question... would Charlotte, herself, be standing amongst the believers FOR or AGAINST the solstice Mayan prophecies fears? Even the Mayans' descendants did not teach or believe the ethnocentric American BS that was being falsely taught by unsuspecting and gullible believers in this day and age.

So what *would* happen, she questioned?

Was her time up? Would her book be published in time? Would her personal world end? Or would it just be her own world, like if she were arrested and imprisoned and detained indefinitely for some hidden or unknown worry from some belief system she had abandoned years before? Her mind went wild with possibilities.

Or would the number 5 (grace) that was encompassing her life now proceed into her future and bring about the rest of her life in a positive way?

Belief was key, she understood.

Belief was key for everyone, she knew. The dream that awoke her had told her so.

Would everyone else's beliefs strike up a future that was out of her hands? Or would each person's belief system indicate what their own reality would wind up manifesting, independent of the other, or in some kind of shared reality within different groups and a variety of outcomes?

Was Schrodinger's cat in the box going to be alive or dead?

For her, she only knew that the 12's and 21's of December would somehow affect her life. It was foreordained, she figured because it was tied into her personal numbers. Would one be positive, and the other negative? Would they both be positive, or both negative?

What had *really* happened on 11/11/11 as many flowed through that day? To some amazing things happened, while to others it was merely another day of no significance. Nothing negative had been forewarned, to her knowledge. But this upcoming winter solstice was another matter, indeed.

Charlotte realized she needed to define her beliefs regarding the matter, and ELIMINATE ALL FEAR regarding these dates, lest they manifest before her eyes. Was it already too late? Had her prior belief system set into motion a reality that would bring itself into fruition despite her choices now?

Is it too late to dissolve a former belief and create a new one?

It is never too late, she realized. It is never too late. Was this merely hopeful, or was she in denial?

12/12 and 12/21 would just be another day in the passage of time. Nothing significant would happen.

Or would it?

Belief is everything... and everyone's subconscious quantum "vote" counts toward the end of the world, or whether the end of one thing is the beginning of another, or whether it is "just another day."

Belief is everything...

So you decide.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012


Christof Kors picked up his oversized coffee mug and sipped it. He enjoyed the sun shining on him as he peered out at his garden through the dining room window. Mmmmm... the dab of sugar, and milky creamer made his coffee that much more silky and delicious. "All good things come to everyone, no matter who they are," he muttered loudly enough for his dog, Jackson, to hear. But he felt disappointment at the same time. He was not a man of Godly faith, but felt that there could be some kind of satisfaction--as others who are more religious feel--if only he could believe.

Sipping his coffee in silence, and staring blankly at flowers in bloom, he thought deeply for some time on the meaning of life, and the things he wanted and needed, and what that means in the big picture. In the littler picture, he knew he wanted a bicycle.

It was at that very moment that a lightbulb went on in his head, and he looked upwards, threw his hands up at the ceiling, and shouted, "Hallelujah!" Perhaps there was yet hope for a faithless-man-of-faith such as he...

"Jackson, I got it! I know how God works..." His voice was strong. Jackson's ears perked up and his black face turned towards Christof with sweet dark-brown eyes that showed nothing but adoration for his human.

"If everyone is praying and asking for stuff, I figure, what does it hurt to elbow my way to the front of the line and start asking too? Does God really have time to stop and check my credentials? It would seem, by how much and many times I have been blessed in my life, he doesn't fret one minute on a background check before he starts handing out the gifts!"

Suddenly, he felt that good things were to come to even a religious-less man such as Christof Kors! Yay!

It was as if he heard Jackson's response in his head... most people would think of 'good things' being gifts from God, such as love, the gift of friendship, or even wealth and health. Christof wondered if Jackson's thoughts were his own; but being a man of obvious elegant taste and humor, he continued his rant aloud, as if it mattered to the dog.

"Oh my gosh... um no. No dear, no... THAT is not how God works, see? Let me explain by showing you an example!"

He jumped up from his chair. "Let's go for a walk, dear boy!"

Jackson wagged his long black tail as the leash was attached to his collar, eagerly following Christof out the front door and down the street.

Christof took Jackson several blocks away before stopping at the nearby park. He scanned the horizon for anything that would prove his point on how God works. Not just how God works for everyone, mind you, but especially for the pseudo-Christians he knew when he was but a boy growing up in Any-Midwest-Town in the Bible Belt state. Especially the ones who were church-going Christians by Sunday, and lived like sinners the rest of the week. My kind of people, thought he.

Christof was looking for a bicycle.

He would have been inclined to kneel down and pray for God to give him this new bicycle, but his epiphane prohibited him from doing so. He knew how God works, by God!

In a matter of moments, three boys rounded the corner all on their bicycles. Christof watched as their wheels left the sidewalk, rolled across the grass past him, and were dumped by a tree as the boys ran to the nearby playground.

Christof walked with Jackson to the three bikes underneath the oak tree. "A blessing indeed!"

None of the boys noticed Christof sitting upon the blue bicycle, riding away, with Jackson running alongside him.

Upon returning home Christof pulled the bike into the mud room and parked it by the coat rack against the wall. He unleashed Jackson, and they both returned to the giant mug of half-gone and now-cold coffee.

Christof took a sip, and sighed loudly and contentedly when he saw Jackson looking at him wide-eyed, almost expectantly. What was Jackson thinking? Suddenly Christof noticed feelings of guilt creeping into his soul... but Christof knew better... he knew how God really works! "What have I done you ask, dear boy? I've stolen a child's bike, and was even offered three whole choices! I chose the blue, over the red or yellow one, of course!" Without hesitation, he then bowed his head, and prayed aloud. "Please forgive me, God. I will return the bike at once, but if you want me to keep it please make it obvious." With that, he took Jackson and the bike back to the park, but the boys and the other two bicycles were already gone. He knew he would probably never see those boys again. "See, I told you, my dear boy!" Christof returned home. He realized that the bike was now his, indeed. He also knew that God had surely forgiven him for his misdeed, because he had asked. Jackson's big brown eyes peered up as his human as if to say, "So how does God work exactly?" "Jackson, my dear, here's how God works... I wanted a bike, so I set out to ask God for one. All prepped for prayer, I realized, that is not how God works! I Would never get a bicycle that way; so, I went out and stole one... and then asked God for forgiveness!" Christof chuckled as he took another sip of coffee. He admired his beautiful flowers in his garden outside of the dining room window. "You see, dear one, it is not possible to receive the Lord's forgiveness if you don't make some sin!"

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The morning started with a kiss between Alexandra and Aaron. It was their typical virtual kiss while on video with each other on their laptop computers. Most days this was their routine, only seeing each other in person once or twice a month or so. They seemed content about their long distance relationship… until one day…

“Why won’t you come see me?” Alexandra asked.

“You know I am not able to cross the border due to all the Homeland Security rules now,” Aaron replied.

Alexandra was deeply saddened by this; she wanted him to share her life with her, her friends, her family, and to travel to places together. Aaron noted her great disappointment, and feared she would give up on him… after all, it had been a year since they started dating, and she had done 100% of the travel to come see him in order for their relationship to work. He figured it was only a matter of time before she gave up entirely.

The stupidity of the American government made him angry. Why did they extort him like that? Why did he ever try to cross to see Alexandra? Suddenly he became irate at the whole thing. “I don’t really care if I ever step foot in the U.S. again! I should have never tried to come down to see you. This would have never happened if I had just stayed here instead of coming to see you.”

Alexandra was taken aback. He had never blamed her before for something that was completely out of her control. She chose to say goodbye and hang up on their video session and let him cool off. But it just got worse.

For two days he stayed distant, and sent messages only to say things like how much happier he was to be single, and that he didn’t have to deal with girlfriend ‘stuff.’ Aaron said bluntly on phone text: “My friend thinks that, romantically, you are a waste of my time, and I am starting to think the same thing.” Alexandra wondered if he would even let her come see him, as they had planned for, the following weekend. She moped and fretted and felt a mess emotionally.

Alexandra wondered why Aaron or his friend would think that she was a “waste of time” when it did not even make any sense? They had a good relationship, she thought. She felt confused and lost, yet she knew right away that Aaron was hurting and lashing out. She told her friend, “I think Aaron was projecting his own fears onto me… that he was afraid I would think I am ‘wasting my time’ with him since he can’t come visit me, and so is trying to make me the bad guy so it will be easier to break up with me before I have a chance to break up with him. The man somehow has no idea that although I’m saddened that he can’t come, I’m also otherwise content with our relationship and circumstances. I’m willing to continue to go to him indefinitely. I love him deeply.” On the afternoon of the second day Alexandra texted Aaron on her phone and told him that very thing, calling him on the carpet for his rude behavior.

She had hit the nail on the head. Aaron responded favorably, and later started up a conversation as if nothing had happened between them. “There’s a comforter on sale that you might want to get, since you said you need a new one—at a really great price!” She was amazed by the turnaround.

He sounded normal, she thought, but she was afraid to read too much into it. “Will you take me to that store when I come?” She cringed, hoping that he wouldn’t disallow her to visit him after he had tried to make it so easy—even pushing—for her to leave. She noted that he never did break up with her, and only made insinuations.

“Absolutely, but it will cost you!”

“Uh oh, what will it cost me?” she recognized his sarcastic style and hoped he would say what she thought he would say next…

“At least one kiss.” Aaron meant it.

Alexandra beamed, and said simply, “I will allow it.”

Later, they got back on their video chat and she asked why he had acted like that (even though she knew), and he said, “I was testing you. If you were going to leave, I wanted you to feel free to do so.”

“Did you want me to leave?”

“No honey.”

“Did you want to leave?”

“No sweetie, I didn’t.” Aaron smiled and felt happy that she didn’t abandon him.

“Don’t ever scare me like that again… that was miserable for me!” she demanded.

“Yes dear…” Aaron submitted.

Both of them settled back down into their normal routine of sharing, on video, how their day went, and how happy they were to be together, even though it was still a long distance relationship. They lied down in their independent beds and faced each other on their laptops, as if no space or time separated them at all.

Before they knew it, it was late at night. Just as they started to fall asleep, their evening ended with a kiss…

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