Weatherizing and a Fabric Question Wednesday, Jun 24 2009 

Is this Kelly's fabric?

24 June 2009

Phase III of Energy Efficiency Program.

Well, we’ve been “weatherized” and now all we can do is wait and see if the electric bills get lower!

So, here’s the story on this, as I understand it.

In an ongoing attempt to be more energy efficient, the state of Texas has adopted plans and put programs in place, some of which can directly benefit savvy homeowners.  The flyer we initially received called it “a government mandated Energy Conservation Program.”

 In March 2000, the Utility Commission adopted the Energy Efficiency Rule 25.181 and Senate Bill Number 7, to promote energy efficiency. ( I looked these up, by the way, and Rule 25.181 seems to be so-named because it is 181 pages long!)

In 2001, The Residential and Small Commercial Standard Offer Program was developed for energy services to provide energy-efficiency services “to achieve cost-effective reduction in peak summer and winter months.”  It is designed to help conserve energy and at the same time promote awareness of the different things you can do to a home to make it more energy efficient.

Initially, these services were paid for via a special fee added to our electric bills.  Since then (I’m unclear on exactly when the change occurred) that has been revamped a bit, and instead of an extra fee being charged, the cost of this program was rolled into our cost per kilowat hour.  So, on the average, we all pay about 92 cents a month toward this program.  As a result, 90 percent of customers pay $0 to receive the benefits of the program.

The program is geared toward homes that are 100 percent electric.  Those with gas and electric may be eligible for some of the aspects of the program, at a higher cost.  But, even so, it might be worth looking into.

The idea is that a family living in a little house like ours (less than 1400 square feet) should not be paying higher electric bills than those in much larger, but newer, more efficient homes.  So, there’s a laundry list of potential small home repairs that smart hvac and insulation professionals are willing to do at no cost to the consumer, because they can bill to this program and get paid.  I’m not sure what the connection is, but the Encore Energy folks seem to be behind the money on this.

In our case, we received a yellow flyer on our front door from Brandon, of AAA Efficiency.  He is a small businessman serving the entire metroplex, and it is he himself who came to our house today.  It was his brother-in-law who came on Monday to do our initial assessment. Brandon’s number is 817.401.1132.  Times are tough for everyone, and if we can get our electric bill to be more affordable, and put money into the pocket of a local small businessman, I’m all for it!

Our guys do not do windows, so in that regard, we know we are still less than energy efficient—we still have the original aluminum frame, single pane windows that all builders used to cut corners in the seventies.  But, today’s weatherization process involved a rather lengthy process of sealing off air intake returns, and hvac vents, insulating the indoor unit itself (although we didn’t require that work on our unit that’s only five or six years old), sealing off under-sink outer wall where plumbing enters the house, and pressurizing the house to be sure nothing is missed.  I also got the friendly, forehead-thumping reminder that the fireplace flue should be closed when not in use.  (insert eye rolling, here.  I cannot believe I had forgotten that.) And, all this today was at no charge to us.

So, there you have it.  If you live in an all-electric home built pre 1990 or so, I’d say you should give this guy a call, or look into who else in your area might be a a part of this program.   And hopefully, we’ll all save a few pennies on our future electric bills.  I’ll try to remember to report back on this with the next bill we receive.

I’d love to hear if anyone else out there has already participated in this, or chooses to, having read about it here on the KRUMB.

My photo today is of a piece of fabric currently in residence in my workshop.  Pretty, but I don’t think it’s mine!  Kelly, is this yours?


New Insulation! Wednesday, Jun 24 2009 

New Insulation!

23 June 2009

Phase II of Energy Efficiency Program.

We got new insulation blown into our attic for the whopping big price of $68.74.

Yep.  That’s the amount I wrote the check for today.  And it would have been completely free if it hadn’t been for the six inches of existing insulation laid over the vaulted ceiling of our living room.  The rest of the house only had a pathetic two inches or so of insulation.  And that qualified us nicely for the energy efficiency program.

I spent my day working in my workshop, despite the early afternoon segment of time when the door had to be open!  Whew!  I guess it’s good practice for my summertime living arrangements!

The insulation truck and two workers arrived around 11:30—about an hour early.  They backed the truck up into the driveway, and proceeded to unload what looked like a giant vaccuum hose.  And, in a way, I guess that’s what it was.  They dragged it in through the front of the garage, and up the attic steps.  Once they got it all set up, it seemed to suck insulation stuff out of a hopper in the back of the truck, pull it through that hose, and then, somehow on the other end, blow it out into our attic! 

I ventured up the attic steps at one point, but I couldn’t see a thing.  So, I just raised the flash, pointed my camera into the darkness and clicked!  This is the shot I got.  It doesn’t look like much, but, I can see the difference between the old pinkish insulation, and the new greyish stuff . 

I’m not sure whether or not to believe the $800 approximate quote I got from the guy on the phone the other day, regarding what this would have cost us without this efficiency program.  But, even if that’s double  or triple the actual going rate, I figure $68.74 was a deal!

No Frills for a quick dinner and some trivia (at which we did not do very well tonight) with Brett and Jill.   Oh well.  Better luck next time.


Hand Warmer Tuesday, Dec 9 2008 

Hand Warmer

9 December 2008

In this case, when I write the words “hand warmer,” I’m not referring to mittens or heat packs, or pockets . . . I’m not referring to anything for warming my hands, at all.  Instead, I’m talking about my hand acting as a warmer for this beautiful little Texas Spiny Lizard that has taken up residence in my workshop.

I first spotted her a couple of weeks or more ago, scurrying between bolts of fabric when I moved one.  Once after that, just last week, and now again today; she (assuming there’s only one) gets around!  We have quite the community of these lovely little creatures around our home, and we love it.  The pesty ant population is certainly less than it used to be!  The lizard population has grown in the last ten years or so, since before that, our indoor/outdoor cats kept them from multiplying!  But, it’s not too often that one gets indoors, and when it happens I usually catch them and put them outside. 

But, it was cold here today—it actually was sleeting at about the time I first corralled this one into a large Rubbermaid tub.   I simply didn’t have the heart to put her outside.  So, I gave her water and fabric to burrow into, and I hope it’s warm enough tomorrow to let her out, ’cause I really don’t want to have to go buy live cricket-food!

So, here’s my quandry:  I’ve kept a lizard as a pet, and I really don’t want to do it again, at this time.  So, my other two options are:  1. Put her outside where I would think she’d be behind the eight ball in terms of burrowing in for the winter.  If I do that, am I condemning her to freeze to death?    I can’t find any evidence in my research that these creatures hibernate . . . would she survive?  Or 2. Let her go free inside my garage workshop where it’s certainly warmer, but not “warm,” and worry about her not getting enough food to live.  I’d hate to move a bolt of fabric and find her dead of starvation someday.  I mean, how many bugs can there really be in my workshop?  I don’t deal with bugs out there, that I know of—can there be that many that I don’t know about?

I’d love to hear the opinions of our readers on this question.  What would you do?  Okay . . . if you were me, and you really like lizards, what would you do? 😉 

And, by the way, I’m pretty sure she is a “she”—I did some research and came up with the fact that the male of this species has blue markings on the belly, and my little lizard does not have those markings.  Hence, I believe her to be a “her.”

I’ll be watching for your comments, replies, and suggestions! 


“I cannot live without books.” —Thomas Jefferson Thursday, Oct 23 2008 

"I cannot live without books." --Thomas Jefferson

22 October 2008

Inspired in the wee hours of the morning, to snap a picture of part of one wall of our “library,”  I’m afraid it’s not a great photo.  Those who have visited our home, know that we subscribe to the theory put forth by Roman philosopher Cicero, that “a room without books, is like a body without a soul.”  This room, and every other room in our house, certainly has a lot of “soul.”  Books fill every shelf, and the knickknacks that sit in front of the books do their own part to tell the story of who we are, as well.

With Galveston ever on my mind, I shudder to think at what it would be like to lose all one’s belongings to a horrific flood.  The businesswoman in me, thinks, my goodness . . . the fabric!  The book and antique and art collector in me simply weeps.

This one below, is not my photo, but here is an odd view of familiar places and things:

I expect those chairs will have new cushions the next time we see them—assuming they are salvageable.

Sometimes “knowing” a thing, and “seeing” a thing are two totally different realities.  We “know” things are bad in Galveston.  We “know” there was nine feet of water on the Strand for most of three days.  We “know” there is still no power there, no phones, few enough signs of life that it’s been labeled a ghost town.  But, it’s actually rather incomprehensible, don’t you think? 

As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Can we all please stop and observe a moment of silence for one of our favourite little antique stores?

Can a small, independent business actually recover from this?  Some will.  Many will not.

I also found a very disturbing photo of a huge pile of hopelessly damaged books. A pile bigger than a car.  I’m not pasting in the link.   I thought about sharing it, but the carnage is too shocking and too horrible.  In fact, more than all the damaged buildings, and salt-deadened trees, and empty piers, this photo made me cry.  It’s a guess, but I’d imagine based on it’s presence in the photographer’s Flickr stream between pictures of the Tremont and the Strand Theatre, that it might be the pile of debris from Midsummer Books—the little bookstore across from the Tremont.  Following that hunch, I located this fellow WordPress blogger’s entry:

I am so sad.


Dials at Nightime Saturday, Sep 20 2008 

17 September 2008
I left work a bit early today feeling a wee bit puny. I went home and slept for a while until a pre-established dinner party came a calling. My wife woke me up, and off we went to meet friends at No Frills Grill. By this time I was feeling well & truly poorly so I didn’t really participate in the drinking, the eating or the conversing. But, I did play Buzztime Trivia (how could I not?).  After I’d had as much as I could take – I really was feeling lousy – MB brought me home. Upon arrival, I realized that I’d wasted the day away without a photo. So, here’s a photo of the A/C dials in my car which unfortunately were set to Max On even on a September evening.
A/C Dials at Night
It’s one of the things…possibly the only thing…I would change about living in this state. It’s always bloody hot (to me…others will argue that 87 degrees Farenheit at nearly 10pm on a mid-September evening is just fine)!

~KR (Written on 20 September 2008 )

West Ham United demolish Newcastle Football Club
Final score 3 – 1

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 1 sec (1)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Joe and the Polka Dotted Umbrella Thursday, Sep 18 2008 

13 September 2008
Not knowing what Ike was going to do, we waited until the very last moment to decide & purchase our tickets for Grapefest. We go every year, and every year we enjoy it. This year, it was a different style of enjoyment than previous outings. Ike had scared off most everyone, and of the 700 tickets available for the "People’s Choice" tasting, only 151 were sold. It was practically deserted. Of course, this didn’t bode well for the vendors, and in fact, most vendors didn’t even bother to show for this rainy, windy Saturday. I’m hoping the previous Thursday & Friday nights and Sunday were better for everyone. But, of course, we are perfectly capable of making our own fun, and we did.
This is my friend, Joe, proving that with imagination and a who-cares attitude anything is possible. Even fun at a mostly empty wine festival during a hurricane.

~KR (Written on 17 September 2008 )

Listening to:
Relight My Fire (UK Radio Version) by Lulu & Take That
from The Best Party…Ever!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.02 sec (1/50)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode

Old Bricks Wednesday, Sep 17 2008 

Old Bricks

17 September 2008

This photo is of the side of our house in Arlington.  The bricks look old and worn, but not nearly so abused as most of the bricks in Galveston, Texas.  We continue to send our healing thoughts and prayers to folks in the Houston/Galveston area as they attempt to get their lives back on track after Hurricane Ike.  The Daily KRuMB continues to see an elevated number of hits each day, due to our Google ranking on searches about Ike and Galveston.   I thought it might be a good idea to include the text from the Houston Chronicle article that Starr found a couple of days ago.  This remains the most recent news we have about our beloved island and its Historical Landmarks.  What follows is quoted: 

Some 7,000 documented historic buildings are located on Galveston, an island that served as a gateway to Texas in the state’s early days. Of those, it is estimated as many as 1,500 of the structures sustained serious damage during Hurricane Ike.

An early assessment by the Galveston Historical Foundation shows the following conditions at historic sites.

U.S. CUSTOM HOUSE: Built in 1861, this structure serves as the headquarters for the Galveston Historical Foundation. It was flooded by as much as 8 feet of water, which damaged files, archives and equipment. An upstairs door is damaged. Roof damage, if any, is unknown.

 ASHTON VILLA: This 1859 Italianate mansion lost two to three windows on its second floor and had up to 18 inches of flooding that likely caused extensive first-floor furniture damage.

 BISHOP’S PALACE: This home, also known as the 1889 Gresham House, is the most visited historic building in Galveston. It appears to have sustained little damage, as was the case in the catastrophic 1900 hurricane. The home had as much as 3 feet of flooding on its bottom floor, which is slightly below ground level and is used for a ticket counter and offices. That floor is under renovation to become a visitors center.

 THE ELISSA: The famous 1877 tall ship, restored in 1982 by the foundation, lost several sails but otherwise seemed to ride out the hurricane well. The vessel is attached to the shore through large steel pipes driven into the harbor bottom.

TEXAS SEAPORT MUSEUM AT PIER 22: This is Elissa’s home berth. It suffered damage to the brick and wooden pier, with a suspected total loss to the wooden workshops used for maintenance of the ship. The museum itself, in the 1990 Jones Building, suffered little damage.

 THE SANTA MARIA: This 1937 restored wooden shrimp boat fared well in her slip near the Texas Seaport Museum with only minor damage.

 MICHEL B. MENARD HOUSE: Built in 1838, the city’s oldest residential house sustained little visible damage.

SAMUEL MAY WILLIAMS HOUSE: Constructed in 1839 and one of the oldest residential houses on the island, it appeared to sustain little damage.

 GARTEN VEREIN: An 1880 German dancing pavilion in Kempner Park managed by the foundation, Garten Verein appears to be undamaged.

 ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH BUILDING: The state’s oldest German Catholic church building, the wooden St. Joseph’s building was built in 1859. It closed as a church in 1968. The building lost one window but otherwise appears undamaged.

 HISTORICAL FOUNDATION WAREHOUSE: This warehouse on Mechanic Street was inundated with at least 10 feet of water and sustained extensive damage. Much of its contents was destroyed, including equipment used during Dickens on the Strand, the popular holiday festival.

 GALVESTON COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM: Housed in the 1921 City National Bank Building, the museum is a joint project of the historical foundation and the Galveston County Commissioners Court. A floodwater line can be seen below the entrance to the first floor. Unless there is roof damage, the building is believed to be unharmed.

 Source: Galveston Historical Foundation.

End quote.

As you can see, the condition of the Tremont House Hotel, and the fate of the 2008 Dickens on the Strand Festival remain unknown.  


Addendum:  News Update on Historic Galveston.  Special thanks to Donna who found this:

Frank Billingsley of Houston’s Channel 2, hosts a Walking Tour of Galveston Island, including visits to many of our well-loved landmarks.  It takes about thirty minutes to view the whole thing, but it’s well worth the time.  One small segment includes a quick interview with a representative from the Tremont who seems very positive about getting things back up and running—but no time frame is given.  He said the hotel damage is pretty much limited to the ground floor and a few windows.  One restaurant owner indicated his repairs and rebuilding would take “months.”  Of course, there isn’t much going on yet, in the way of clean-up and repair, because there is no power and no water.  Fisherman’s Wharf (our Saturday night dinner spot for many years), Rudy and Paco’s (our new favourite restaurant on the island), Willy G’s (our Sunday night dinner spot), and many, many other places we know well, all have extensive water and mud damage.  Furniture is tossed about like matchsticks.  Walls are already molding in the humidity, and first floors will probably need to be gutted completely.  Fisherman’s Wharf’s harborside deck seems to be completely destroyed (remember the spot where Clay stood to take our photo on the Elissa a few years ago?).   High water marks on the Strand are at about nine feet; on Post Office at about six feet, and on Broadway at about three feet.  Pretty much every retailer, every business for that matter,  in the area will have lost nearly everything they didn’t move to a spot higher than that.  The property damage is mind-boggling.  And, at this point, at least until services are restored, and work crews can begin, there’s no telling how long the recovery efforts will take.  So, still no certainty about Dickens on the Strand.  And, if there is a festival, where people will eat, shop, sleep, etc.

We’ll keep our Daily KruMB readers as updated as we are on all this.

Crunchy Tuesday, Sep 9 2008 

6 September 2008
The front yard after an exceptionally crunchy summer.
The Front Yard
There has been no measurable precipitation at my house since mid-July, and that was perhaps a quarter of an inch in a 10 minute period.
Dry, dusty, hot & crunchy are the words that come to mind.

~KR (Written on 8 September 2008 )

Listening to:
Shake It by Ian Matthews
from Super Hits of the Seventies

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.02 sec (1/50)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 10 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode

Happy Anniversary & a Longhorn Saturday, Aug 9 2008 

5 August 2008
Happy Anniversary, baby!
13 sensationally marvelous years.
Because of the hours I’ve been working lately, and the vagaries & uncertainties of non-rev travel, I did not plan anything overtly special for our anniversary figuring that if she did indeed get home from afar that just being together would be enough. Turns out I was right. 🙂
With only one car at home, she took me to work this morning and picked me up when the day was done. We immediately headed into downtown Ft. Worth knowing that we could find a variety of things to do in Sundance Square. We did. First, though, as we walked around the area, I saw this topiary longhorn. Just seeing it rattled a branch in the far-flung tree of my memory and I took it’s photo for comparison:
Topiary Longhorn
Back in January, I was in downtown Ft. Worth with a vendor from out of town, and he marvelled at the sight of the topiary wrapped in burlap to protect against the angry elements of a Texas "winter." Being from Denver, CO, I’m guessing topiary longhorns are a rarity.
Anyway, from this bush beast, we descended on a bar we didn’t know was there, Durty Murphy’s. Nice place even if it is a smoker’s haven and the decoration-only bartender has NO clue how to build a proper Guinness. One pint of Guinness, part of a Zon (from Boulevard Brewing) and a shot of Forty Creek (complements of the Republic Liquors representative) later, we departed and headed for food. We settled on Cabo Grande where the wee wife discovered fish tacos. She really liked them. After that, it was back home to a relaxing evening in the house with the wife & dogs. Nothing special turned into very special. It was a lovely day and the best 13th wedding Anniversary I have ever had.

~KR (Written on 8 August 2008 )

Listening to:
Oh What a Lovely War by Brother
from The Terrain Around Here is Far Too Dangerous

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Darts at Rob’s Sunday, Aug 3 2008 

29 July 2008
When O’Dwyer’s shut down, my primary motivation in finding a new watering hole, was darts & Guinness. I found the Darts at Rob’s, my regular, based on this sign painted on an exterior window.
Painted Dart Sign
But, oddly, I’ve never tossed a single dart in the joint. My game is pool, now, and I’m happy with that.

~KR (Written on 3 August 2008 )

Listening to:
Warm Wet Circles by Marillion
from Clutching at Straws

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 10 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode

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