Q: Bill - What's new in roofing technology? Can you fill me in on some greener alternatives?
A: There is a company out of Santa Ana, CA called ArmorLite that has developed a new lightweight roofing material. A press release outlining their new technology can be found here. Their big claim to fame appears to be a drastic weight reduction. Their material weighs 70 pounds per 100 sq ft, whereas normal material weighs 600 pounds per 100 sq ft.
For "greener alternatives" I have two suggestions. First up is an organic roof, described in detail at GreenRoofs. As near as I can tell this involves planting grass, shrubs and other organic matter on your roof. With a sloped roof I'm not sure how this works, but the people on the site are pretty dedicated so maybe they've got ideas for you. Second would be to place solar panels over your existing roof. Yes, I know this isn't exactly new roofing technology, since I don't think that you can buy a roof that is made exclusively of solar panels. But someday that might be possible so you might as well get ahead of the curve.
Q: Jeff - Will this winter be a bitch?
A: Longtime "Ask Mitssob" devotees know that my history of prognostication is poor at best. But I'll take a crack at this one. If this summer has been any indication of temperatures then I think that this winter will feature some bone-chilling cold. I think that we will break record cold temperatures across much of the country, especially in the northern plains and midwestern states. As far as storms and chaos and such I'm not as certain. But cold? Definitely. Does that make it a "bitch"? That depends on your definition of "bitch". Personally I like the cold, so the prospect of a colder-than-average winter doesn't strike me as that unpleasant.
Q: Rob - if you were to buy a bus what kind of a bus would you get
A: I think I would buy one of those buses that hotels use as shuttles to and from airports. I know that's more of a "van" than a "bus", but I stand by my answer. I know that I would be uncomfortable driving a big bus, either a school bus or a large passenger bus. The shuttle bus is typically built on a commercial van's powertrain, and thus I think I'd be better driving it.
I'm not exactly sure WHY I would get a bus. I've had a romantic notion of buying a conversion van for many years. Maybe an old shuttle-bus would be a good platform to use for me to build my own. I'll have to think about that.
Q: Bill - Sticking with the green theme...so we have a ton of waste paper here at work. Instead of throwing it out, I am hording it to try to find something more creative than recycling to do with it. Ideas?
A: Partly this is going to depend on the quantity of paper, what kind of paper it is, etc. I'll assume that you're talking about normal white paper with a mix of black-and-white and color printing on it. Below are my quick, off-the-cuff ideas for your dilemma.
- One word: fire. In fact, I'm a little surprised that you even had to ask me about this given your status as an out-of-the-closet pyromaniac. The problem with burning this much paper comes down to efficiency. It's hard to take a stack of paper and just burn it. There are two solutions to this problem. First, you could crumple the pages up. That's very time consuming and not very much fun. Second, you could use a newspaper log roller to create more dense "logs" of paper that would burn hotter and be more suitable for a fireplace.
- Cheap insulation: This would be VERY cheap insulation. Plus, as with the bonfire idea, you'd have to crumple up the paper first, and that's definitely not worth the effort.
- Recycle it yourself: This article from eHow outlines how to create pulp from used paper and create your own new fresh paper. Another article from Bright Hub can be found here. This idea might appeal to Lisa given her calligraphy business. She could create her own custom paper for her clients. Just a thought.
Q: Matt - Charcoal or propane? I already know where I stand on this.
A: I prefer propane. I know that charcoal gives you more of an authentic grill taste and smell, but I personally prefer the convenience of propane. It lights instantly, you have a greater degree of control of the cooking surface, and it turns off just as easily as it lights. I recently purchased my first propane grill and have been very satisfied with it so far.
So where do you stand on this question? I'd be interested to hear responses from the "Ask Mitssob" community at large. I know it can be a heated (HA) topic of discussion, so have at it!
Q: vanessa - What will be the biggest story of the summer of 2009?
A: Let me start by sharing something with those of you new to "Ask Mitssob": I will occasionally answer questions according to the wording of the question rather than its intended meaning. I do this deliberately, both to try and promote clarity in the world at large and also to tick off the people who ask me questions. I thought about doing this for your question but instead I'll provide answers based on my two readings of the question. I'm not exactly sure which you meant, so I'll cover both angles. You're welcome.
Interpretation 1: "Looking back, what will have been the biggest story of the summer of 2009?"
Answer 1: The death of Michael Jackson. It's been the subject of so much discussion (Is he really dead? What did his doctor know and when did he know it?), so much media time (hundreds and hundreds of hours by Larry King and Geraldo Rivera alone), and so much random speculation (Will he emerge from his coffin during the funeral and re-enact Thriller?) that I think it's the clear winner.
The only thing that comes close in my opinion is the ongoing national debate about health care/insurance reform. President Obama had an original deadline of the first week of August for Congress to pass a health care/insurance reform bill. That deadline has come and gone, and Congress has gone home on recess to the spectacle of townhall meetings with hundreds of their constituents. It's a big national story, and one that will continue into the fall. Is it bigger than Michael Jackson's death? I don't think so, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.
Question 2: "Looking forward, what will be the biggest story of the summer of 2009 that hasn't happened yet?"
Answer 2: Unfortunately the only thing that could top the Michael Jackson fiasco would involve death and destruction on some significant scale. We've already had the deaths of Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcitt, and Walter "Uncle Walt" Cronkite. In my opinion there really isn't another public figure death that could top those unless a major current political figure kicks the bucket (and for the record I am NOT endorsing, condoning, or hoping for that to happen).
I think the only thing that could possibly happen to be a bigger story than the aforementioned Jackson Death Saga would be a natural disaster in or a terrorist attack on the continental United States. Again, I am not wishing or hoping for this to happen. I'm just saying that those would have to potential to dethrone the King of Pop's death for top story of the summer of 2009.
Q: Brett - Are people asking questions because they want hard hitting answers, or because they feel bad for you?
A: I am under no illusions here: people feel bad for me. And they really shouldn't. I'm doing just fine, thanks.
Oh, and the only way you're going to get "hard hitting answers" is if I come over to your house and answer your question in person and then punch you. [Ed - And even then it won't be hard hitting. I hang my head in shame at your insult.]
Q: Jesse - are puppies immune to bullets?
A: Immune to bullets? If by "immune" you mean that they won't die if they ingest a bullet then maybe. I've never known a puppy to eat a bullet and so I don't know what would happy if it did. It would probably just pass it as though it were any other lump of metal. Getting to the probable meaning of your question, I'm reasonably sure that puppies encased in kevlar are impervious to gunfire. Unfortunately a naked puppy is no more immune to bullets than you or I are. Sorry.
Oh, by the way, I know I shouldn't even have to say this, but for the love of God, do NOT try and test this out IN ANY WAY! It will not go well for you. You've been warned.
Q: Jarsh - Will you tell us the next time you go see Mrs. Skanotto?
A: Sure thing. In fact I'll do it right now. The next appearance by mrs. skannotto will be at the Montage Live Music Hall on September 11. This will be Gordo's last performance behind the microphone, so come on out and give him a great last show!
Q: Karyn Graves - How much does a Cake Boss cake cost?
A: The Cake Boss is actually a man named Buddy Valastro. He is the master baker at Carlo's City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ. Carlos Bakery itself provides the answer here. Basically the cost is between $8 and $18 per person depending on the complexity of the cake. Sadly they do not ship their cakes, which means that if you want one you're going to have to go to New Jersey to collect it. And who would want to go there?