Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Asheville Green Plumbing--Are they just after your hard earned green?

I've been hearing bad things about Asheville Green Plumbing. I talked to a friend that has a solar system, well, on demand heater, and other environmentally friendly devices. As you can imagine, he has a lot of plumbing needs.

The other day his pressure switch went out on the well and he decided to call Asheville Green Plumbing in order to support Green thinking and businesses. "This was a bad mistake,"he said, "the green they are talking about is the green in your wallet, they are anything but a green company."

What was the problem? "They came in and told me I needed an oddball part and would have to replace it--that involved him driving around his oversized gas guzzling van for an hour and a half. Returning he cut out my valve and replaced it with a new one, then put in a new T for the pressure switch. To my astonishment, he charged me 2hours 45min for labor and $100 for parts. Over $320 for what should have been a simple 1 hour job."

I thought about what he said and asked, "Well if it was an oddball part, maybe that wasn't such a bad deal."

"Riggght," he said, "The next day I drove to Lowe's and found the exact value they replaced for $35.00, for $15.97. Worse, I found a 1/4 plug that could have been inserted in my old valve without replacing it for $0.88. I bought the plug and returned back to my house in my small car in less than 1/2 hour. As I had demanded he give me the old valve, I screwed the 1/4 inch plug into the threaded tap where the old pressure switch used to be and solved the problem for less than a dollar, with a part they should have had on their truck! Calling Asheville Green Plumbers to complain was even more painful, I was informed 'we treat our customers very well.' Thinking back on the call, maybe he really said 'we cheat our customers very well'--that certainly would be more accurate."

I don't have any experience with Asheville Green Plumbing, but if you have had experiences, good or bad with them, please leave a comment!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Buying the Right Furnishings for your Home

Walking into a nicely decorated home is like meeting a well-coiffed person. Everything is in place, each room is carefully arranged, and the furnishings seem to accent rather than overshadow the home's design.

Quality furniture should bring out your home's best features. But attractive furnishings don't happen by accident. A homeowner or apartment dweller must take time to shop for just the right arrangement of pieces in an effective period style that will suit both the home and its occupants. A single person or a young couple just starting out may not have the luxury of buying matching pieces. They may pick and choose what they need from yard sales or second-hand stores. But those with steadier incomes and discretionary funds to spend may wish to purchase roomfuls of furniture that create an ambience that is soothing and aesthetically appealing.

When you are ready to shop for fine furniture, you may want to first browse newspaper ads or online websites to get an idea of what's available. With numerous styles like Mediterranean or early American to choose from, you will want to match the furniture design to your home for a coordinating effect. Contemporary furniture in a Victorian home is not perhaps the blend you want. Shop for a variety of pieces and suits that fit your home's theme or style. Compare wood grains and hues as well as fabric styles and types in finding the best fit for your living room or bedroom.

Another thing to keep in mind is functionality. Will a white sofa in the family room hold up against three kids and a Dalmatian? You may want to find another piece of the same style in a different color and a sturdy fabric. Find out if you can vacuum or hand-clean certain pieces of furniture, or if they must be dry-cleaned periodically. Either of these cleaning methods can entail cost or time that must be budgeted.

Don't forget to consider auxiliary pieces, like end tables, coffee tables, lamps, and so on. These should work well with the prevailing theme and furniture design to create a cohesive theme, not a jarring one. You also will want to choose appropriate d├ęcor, such as framed artwork or corner sculptures, to complement your furniture arrangements. A Ming vase might look slightly out of place in a rustic log cabin but an oriental rug may be the perfect match.

Remember to include furnishings for your porch and patio, as your budget permits. While these are less important than household furniture, they also help to create an impression about your property, and they provide comfort and respite from daily chores and hassles. Shop for comfort and appearance, as you would for other types of furnishings. Even family portraits can be framed in the same type of oak wood that comprises your china cabinet or kitchen cupboards.

Have fun decorating your living space, and don't hesitate to ask for help from one of Townhouse Galleries sales associates. They also can offer custom help through their in-house interior design services.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Twin Rivers Media Festival Early Bird Deadline ends today--save 45% in fees!

TopFloorStudios.com, MapPartners.com and AshevilleCourtyard.com present the 16th annual Twin Rivers Media Festival May 24 - 26, 2010 at the Courtyard Gallery in the Historic Downtown Courtyard with International Restaurants in Asheville, NC

SAVE OVER 45% IN FEES by submitting by the end of the day, Feb 26th.

EARLY BIRD DEADLINE February 26, 2010 (postmarked)
Regular Deadline March 31, 2010 (postmarked)
Late Deadline April 30, 2010 (postmarked)
Last Deadline May 14, 2010 (postmarked)

Entry categories: Feature, Short, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Experimental, Silent Film, Horror, Animation, Music Video, Soundtrack, Audio Art, Screenwriting

The Twin Rivers Media Festival is open to filmmakers, writers and sound artists working in ALL GENRES, SUBJECTS AND FORMATS.



Paper Entry Form

Articles about our Festival

Carlos Steward
Festival Director
Twin Rivers Media Festival

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tips for Keeping Your Baby Safe by using Organic Products

If you are a new parent you will quickly learn that newborn babies spend approximately 75% of their early days sleeping. This makes it extremely important to choose the correct mattress for the baby crib. The most important accessory you will need for an infant child is a durable, comfortable and environmentally safe crib mattresses. Babies are exposed to dozens of harmful chemicals even before being born, and in their first year they are exposed to PDDE's and phthalates from basic products designed for them, like bottles, clothing, toys and mattresses. Unfortunately many modern mattresses include artificial dyes, potentially hazardous chemicals and allergenic materials that can irritate a baby's skin and cause discomfort and restless sleep. Vinyl/PVC foam and polyurethane foam are two common materials in many crib mattresses that over time can begin to leak potentially harmful chemicals. To provide high quality comfort with eco-friendly materials give serious consideration to outfitting cribs with 100% organic mattresses.

What about these other baby products? The most common baby products that can be laden with chemicals are mattresses, clothing, drinking items, and toys. These often contain materials like plastic and cloth, which may contain a combination of PVC, phthalates, and fire-retardant chemicals, lurking in these seemingly innocuous baby items. Trying to understand the tags is confusing so often the most effective route is the natural or organic one. Organic baby mattresses and clothing, for example, are made with organic cotton or latex, without PVC, a plastic commonly softened with phthalates. Baby toys and utensils, are also manufactured by natural and organic baby product stores, and these are also often made from, organic cotton, unfinished wood, and natural dyes.

Several manufacturers produce outstanding organic crib mattresses, changing pads, sheets and waterproof covers, bottles, toys and other natural products for the home. One of the most trusted names in baby mattresses is the Savvy Rest Organic Crib Mattress. This is a latex mattress that offers benefits over conventional mattresses while your baby will enjoy superior comfort. All natural latex is non-toxic and 100% free of chemical additives. Latex is also naturally resistant to dust-mite infestation.

Parents choose organic Savvy Rest crib mattresses for several reasons. In addition to being durable and comfortable these mattresses, changing pads and sheets are certified 100% organic meaning no chemicals, dyes or allergenic materials are used in the manufacturing process. This is very important to many families who demand comfort and eco-friendly products for their young ones. The "green" movement is important by providing high quality organic crib mattresses and other baby products will give your baby a head start on living harmoniously with the world around him.

One excellent source for researching and buying environmentally friendly natural products for your baby is NestOrganics's online store. There you can find mattresses, clothing, toys and drinking vessels for your baby. As a benefit you will find organic mattresses and home items for yourself as well!

Tips for Marketing your Independent Film

So you shot your film, spent more months than you care to remember in the editing process and now you are ready to debut the final product. What do you do now to get your labor or love, out to audiences and hopefully to win awards for your efforts?

Here are the key things that matter for your future in to the world of independent film.

1. Alternative Cinemas

Independent films are being screened in many different kinds of venues in a trend which may sweep the world. Digital screens allow art galleries, bars, pizza houses and other non-traditional cinemas to show alternative content.

What does that mean for independent shorts, features and documentaries? Look for these non-traditional outlets and perhaps your film will end up being screened in a pub, with drinks, networking and distribution contacts.

2. Self Distribution

It used to be that self-distribution meant getting your beat up car with a bunch of fly posters, and hitting the road. Sometimes you might have an advance person leaflet the city, and when you arrived, you would do some local radio, screen your film at a local venue, collect the box office (minus the venue's share) sell T-shirts, posters, CD's, collect a few dollars and tank up the van and hit the road again.
It's all changing thanks to social networking websites, new digital opportunities, and the advantages offered by internet distribution.

3. Social Networking

If you don't have a Twitter, Plurk, and Facebook account, get them going now. Find friends with similar interests and professional in the film fields. Don’t hesitate to use social media as your way forward in terms of news, advertising and blatant self promotion.

4. Low Budget Filmmaking
Movies on the web don't need to be the same resolution as movies in cinemas. You can shoot films using lower priced cameras, or even an ultra cheap FLIP camera. Just make sure to save the film in it’s highest resolution so you can make a high quality DVD later.

Meanwhile submit your film to YouTube, Kewego, Motionbox, Truveo and others to promote your film with a trailer. Paramount Studios thinks that Low Budget has a huge future and has launched a low budget division. This is good news for independent filmmakers as more and more outlets become available.

5. Use Internet Optimization Techniques

One of the most important tool filmmakers have in marketing to a niche audience, on the internet, is the understanding and use of key word phrases, and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The bad news is that SEO is a really time consuming excercise. The good news is that if you are good at it, or become adept at it, you will be able to promote your film on the first pages of Google and other search engines - and sell your film or your film idea.

Develop a blog, podcast or video cast and engage your audience with ideas and controversy. Join in the dialogues of other people’s blogs and forums and become an expert in your field, developing a following for your own efforts.

6. Promote at Film Festivals

Film distributors are increasingly using film festival screenings to promote new releases of films. Using the social nature of festivals to promote contacts, and by eventually getting into the larger festivals, independent filmmakers and distributors can leverage their marketing budgets to the maximum.

For filmmakers seeking distribution, starting the buzz about your film at film festivals is the best place to begin. It's the most direct and easiest way to attract distribution for a beginning filmmaker. There are now hundreds of smaller festivals to get your start in the circuit. A good strategy is to win at one of the smaller festivals so that your film gains credibility and has a better chance of being selected at a larger festival.

A great place to start your quest into the festival world is a festival like the Twin Rivers Media Festival, that accepts, short films and feature films in all genre, as well as scripts and audio projects. This festival is in it’s 16th year and likes the feature and award the works of previously unknown filmmakers. Once you get an award there you are listing in the IMDB database and you are on your way to film fame!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stop Paying Taxes this Year, War Taxes now Exceed 50% of the Tax Load

The IRS has been ridiculed, feared and despised by virtually everyone for over a half century of its existence and for good reason; the code is illogical, inconsistent and incomprehensible to practically everyone including our own Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner.

Geithner testified to the Senate confirmation hearings, that he used TurboTax to prepare his own return and that the tax errors are his own responsibility. The problem with TurboTax seems to stem from self employment issues of the tax code. The Washington Post quoted a tax expert who said that TurboTax has not been programmed to handle self-employment taxes when the user identifies himself as being employed.

Over nine of Obama’s top appointees had tax problems ranging from speaking fees, self employment issues and illegal house employees. But the problem for Obama and the IRS is becoming much bigger.

For one, is there even a law that requires taxpayers to file and pay taxes? It appears that there is no such law. Sure, the IRS as volumes of codes and regulations, but is there a law that requires US citizens to pay taxes on their income? No.

Recently the government has lost critical cases on tax law with Whitey Harrell and Tom Cryer winning their right to not file or pay taxes at all. Further, former IRS agents Joe Banister and Sherry Peel Jackson resigned after not being able to find a law that requires citizens to pay taxes.

Most of the tax controversies arise over the fact that the US government is lying to its citizens about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and organized torture and illegal detaining of so called terrorists. Currently over 54% of all taxes paid by US citizens are going to the war, military efforts and mostly to corporations that are benefiting from the war by creating ridiculously expensive tools, contractors, and equipment for the military.

These government lies result in a “Taxation without Representation” issue as even our corrupt lawmakers are lied to about the reasons to go to war and the cover-up of torture techniques used in secret and non-secret prison facilities around the world. No reasonable American citizen or their representatives would have voted to use tax dollars to buy water boards and professional torturers to create false confessions from detainees in secret prisons.

There is a remedy. Don’t pay taxes this year. If enough people refuse to pay for the illegal programs by our Federal Government, these programs will fail. Tax dollars should be used for the infrastructure of our highways, education initiatives, science and space explorations and other programs that are beyond the reach of individuals and state governments.

For more information about how to resist taxes this year, go to http://www.nwtrcc.org/deathandtaxes.htm For a minimal fee you can purchase there new video that contains 28 interviews with tax resisters that explain their motivations and reasons for resisting taxes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Asheville's Jesse Barry makes it to Hollywood on American Idol

Photo by Cynthia Potter after painting Jesse's face at the Courtyard Gallery, Downtown Asheville, 9 Walnut St. Subscribe to True Home Podcast here.

It's official: Jesse Barry of Asheville, NC has at least made it to Hollywood on American Idol.
Check out this link of contestants that make it to Hollywood!

AND check out this youtube link of Jesse performing at the Int'l Blues Challenge in Memphis TN. last year with her band Skinny Legs and All.

Congratulations Jesse!