Sunday, May 17, 2009

May Real Estate & Green Newsletter!!

Hello Friends!

Well, let’s talk about Real Estate first. The Spring has picked up nicely. The market is not recovered from the last few years of trouble but buyers are able to get mortgages at good rates and sellers with homes in good condition are able to attract lookers. Both sides need to be patient right now as underwriters are reviewing everything and there’s no way to hurry their process. Also, remember that buyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready. I can help you get to that point. I see so many houses were the owners either aren’t trying or can’t afford to make the necessary changes. Those are not the homes that attract buyers.

As a safely issue, if you have a home built in the 70’s or early 80’s go find your Electric Panel and check to see if it has the words “Federal Pacific” on the outside or the word STAB-LOC on the inside. Do this right now and then come back and read the rest. Okay. These boxes are a known fire hazard and I always recommend that a buyer have the seller change them before buying the house. But if you own a home now, you need to get a new panel box asap. The first sign you have of trouble is a house fire. Please don’t ignore this. It’s very important. If you need help, I can come by and help you identify your panel.

The Solar Water Heater gets installed either this week or next depending on weather. There are credits from Oncor and from the US Government for green improvements to your home and with those incentives the water heater is a great long term investment. We have 4 vendors give us bids. We’re getting two flat-panel solar collectors and an 80 gallon tank. There will be an electric element just in case we got a week without sun but we’re betting that won’t happen much.

The water tanks are full and we have some new barrels to install and expand our retention. We currently have 810 of water stored but we have 300 more gallons of new tanks we need to hook up.

As far as electrical usage, the dryer hasn’t been used significantly in two months. I’ve been putting the laundry on the line and we’ve learned a lot. We’ve had to stop using Cheer & Tide because they make the fabric wrinkle more because they leave a residue in the cloth. Cloth pins break but can be fixed. And nothing smells better than clothes dried on a line.

Warren’s Garden is producing like crazy. We have carrots and onions coming in. Both are very sweet. We’ll probably drop some of the onions in pickle juice and let them soak awhile. The strawberries have stopped producing but the tomatoes are climbing up the cages. If we have a temperate summer like we seem to be, the tomatoes should be producing for awhile. Up at Warren’s Farm in Denton he has potatoes coming in. The squash and cucumbers are growing too. His onions got rained out. (see pictures below).

Hope all is well with each of you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you or those you know either in Real Estate or Green changes in your life. I’m always available to help. Have a great and safe MEMORIAL DAY!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Large ice shelf expected to break from Antarctica

(CNN) -- A large ice shelf is "imminently" close to breaking away from part of the Antarctic Peninsula, scientists said Friday.

Scientists are investigating whether the ice breakup is caused by global climate change.

Satellite images released by the European Space Agency on Friday show new cracks in the Wilkins Ice Shelf where it connects to Charcot Island, a piece of land considered part of the peninsula.

The cracks are quickly expanding, the ESA said.

Scientists are investigating the causes for the breakups and whether it is linked to global climate change.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf -- a large mass of floating ice -- would still be connected to Latady Island, which is also part of the peninsula, and Alexander Island, which is not, said professor David Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey.

The ice shelf experienced a great amount of changes last year, the ESA said.

In February 2008, the shelf dropped 164 square miles (425 square kilometers) of ice. In May it lost a 62-square-mile chunk.

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That meant the "bridge" of ice connecting Wilkins to the islands was just 984 yards wide at its narrowest location, the ESA said.

Further rifts developed in October and November, said Angelika Humbert of the Institute of Geophysics at Germany's Muenster University.

"During the last year the ice shelf has lost about 1800 square kilometers (694 square miles), or about 14 percent of its size," Humbert said.

Antarctica's ice sheet was formed over thousands of years by accumulated and compacted snow. Along the coast, the ice gradually floats on the sea, forming massive ledges known as ice shelves, the ESA says.

Several of these ice shelves, including seven in the past 20 years, have retreated and disintegrated.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf had been stable for most of the past century before it began retreating in the 1990s.

"It had been there almost unchanged since the first expeditions which mapped it back in the 1930s, so it had a very long period of real stability, and it's only in the last decade that it's started to retreat," Vaughan said.

Wilkins is the size of the state of Connecticut, or about half the area of Scotland. It is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened.

If the ice shelf breaks away from the peninsula, it will not cause a rise in sea level because it is already floating, scientists say. Some plants and animals may have to adapt to the collapse.

The Antarctic Peninsula is the piece of the continent that stretches toward South America.