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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adventures in Air Conditioning Part 2.

Such is the life of a home owner.  Next to owning a boat, I cannot think of another consumer item into which vast quantities of cash flow, besides your home.  Many of these costs, while yielding a tangible benefit, are of little comfort--such as a new roof is necessary, but you don't really think about it.  Or a new water heater, or fridge, etc.  Some appliances are a necessary part of life, and none more so than the central air conditioning in your Texas house.  You'll understand this most acutely, when your A/C croaks in late July...ask me how I know.  Remember a year or so ago, when we when through the process of replacing the compressor motor?

Yeah, the A/C died again last Friday night.  Lucky for us, it was cool Friday night, and Saturday afternoon the A/C man came and worked on the system.  It ran like a charm Saturday night, but by noon Sunday, the core of the 17yr old issue, a valve, was sticking again.  To try to fix the valve and replace the inside coil which has a leak, would be like pouring good money after bad, since the outside part of the system is 17 yrs old too, except for the motor we replaced about a year ago.  It would likely fail in another year or so, and have to be replaced with a unit incompatible (different coolant gas) than our current one.  So we'd still have to replace an almost new coil etc.
This part is actually still working...
Unlike the weekend, this week is starting off hot and humid.  Humidity is running 94% this morning, and the high will be 96*F with the rest of the week being much the same.  We broke down Sunday night with an emergency run to Big Box Mart and bought a small window A/C unit for the master bedroom, so that DH and I could sleep.   The kids have had to suffer in their rooms however.  But today should bring them some relief.  Our A/C man is bringing over a pair of loaner window units, which we will put in the kids' rooms.  That way even the dogs can have some A/C at night.  It was so hot in the rest of the house last night that I insisted that old dog Cody sleep in our room, under the bed.  It was the only place he would lie quietly without constant panting.
Pant, pant, pant!
The A/C won't be replaced until Friday.  That was the soonest the install crew could come do the work.  I think it's gonna be a long week!  Once done though, it will be most welcome, since this weekend is forecast for 100*F on Saturday.  Ahhh, welcome to Texas in July!  The new system should lower our electric bills, as it is far more efficient than the old unit.  The .gov has an efficiency scale, dubbed SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), consumers can use to compare systems.  Our old one, best as I can tell from the web, rates around a 10. The scale tops out around 23, and higher is better.  The new unit is a SEER 16.  It will take a few years to offset the not-inconsequential cost of the new unit, but it should occur eventually.  And thanks to the Dave Ramsey plan, we don't need to sweat the cost (pun intended).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

50 years = 50 miles + 7 more for being late

Yesterday was the 30th annual Tour de Paris Texas, an amazingly well organized bicycle ride. Both DH and I have done it in the past and enjoyed ourselves, but we had never done it together. Since we ride at fairly different paces, there's only one good way for us to ever ride together comfortably--Serenity!

Yes, we rode our tandem on TdP. I was wanting to push our distance a little on the tandem, as we have plans for an 80 miler later in the fall, and so far our longest ride had been 41-42 miles. Plus, having turned the big Five-O back in December, I needed to fulfill a goal of riding 50 miles, one for every year I've been on this blue dirtball. Unfortunately the distance splits were either quite a bit shorter than our 41 mile high, or a fair bit longer than it.

What to do? What to do? We thought about riding the 60k distance, and then going a few miles down a longer route, turning around and riding back to the finish. This was the answer we chose, though not the one we actually did. At the SAG stop where the routes split, we headed off down the 90k route, planning on reversing course at 25.5 miles on the GPS. The road had other ideas though. Those first few miles were trending downhill...which meant a return ride all uphill. Not our favorite option on a tandem. On a downhill, gravity is your best friend on the tandem, but uphill? Not so much! As we hit that imaginary turnaround point, we both reached the same conclusion--better the unknown road ahead, than the long uphill behind us.

It occurred to me that the 90k route was over 50 miles, and I could hit my goal, plus a mile for every month I was late in meeting the goal. I watched the GPS tick the mileage up, until I saw this--

The Tour de Paris as usual, was very well supported, with 3 area bike shops providing mechanical and roving support, lots of volunteers manning the SAGs, a good selection of foods at the SAGs (even pickles and pickle juice for DH!), excellent route marking and law enforcement support to man the major intersections for safe traffic control. A lot of other rides could learn a lot from the good folks who put on the Tour de Paris.

It was a great way to reach a personal goal. We were both tired by the end of the ride, and the post-ride hamburger was most welcome. Plus, how often do you get to see the Eiffel Tower... in Texas?

Here's a look at our Strava data.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Color, texture, and light

These were taken yesterday, on a glorious rainy, chilly day in North Texas.