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Monday, July 28, 2014

Hotter than a dead chupacabra!

Yesterday I decided to go out for a longish ride.  It was hot.  Somewhere around 98*-103*F by the time I was done four and a half hours later.  I managed 56 miles on the recumbent, and was comfortable, though I think DH has given me his curse of cramping.  I had minor issues with the right leg on and off during the ride, though the worst of it was at the very end just before the final climb.  I'm not a cramper by nature, and I was pushing water and electrolytes all day.  Fortunately, some minor stretching seemed to control it.

The route was over known territory, and took me past a lovely ranch with some very unique cattle on it.  These are not Texas Longhorns, but appear instead to be Ankole-Watusi African cattle.

Their horns are even more impressive when they are nearer to the fence.  I saw them up close, once last year when riding the same road. 

This time the cattle were hanging out in the shade.  As I forgot my good camera, I had to make due with the one on the phone.  I had been hoping to get pictures of these cattle.  I only wish they were closer to the fenceline, so you could have enjoyed them more.

You may be curious as to the title of this post.  It happened just up the road a ways from the cattle.  There, on the side of the road less traveled, was a pile of bones.  I saw first, the ribcage and sternum.  I stopped to investigate, thinking it might be the ever-elusive deer.  It was not.

It was instead, a dead chupacabra!  Yes!  That mythical Southern/South of the Border creature!  Dead...Right There!  (Ok, so not really, and I DO know what creature it really is, but bear with me.)

I took the picture below and sent it off to DH's phone.  When I got home, I showed it to the Monkeys, all of whom love to watch the doofus Monster-of-the-Week shows on cable.  I told them chupacabras were real, and that I now had proof!  I had seen the remains with my own eyes, and would share it with them. Hehehe...

  They looked, and guessed all sorts of various and sundry critters, but have yet to get it right.  Can you tell what it is?  Post your guesses in the comments if you like.  The answer will be below the picture.

Answer:  It's a dead goat!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weekend Update: Aaaaahhh!

After yesterday, I thought I would post an update on things.  Of course, the old A/C chose the hottest week of the year so far (still below 100*F but not by much!) to croak.  It figures.  Of course, the install crew had other jobs lined up, and we got onto the schedule for Friday (yesterday).  With the addition of the two loaner Idylis 10K BTU  portable A/C units, plus the little window unit we purchased, the bedrooms were comfortable at least.

Old outside unit.
At last, after a week of not cooking (lots of Cold Plate) and iced coffee for breakfast, Friday arrived.  We knew it would, eventually, but with the core of the house not cooling off at night, we were building up a lot of thermal mass we would have to overcome once the new system was in place.  The install crew of two arrived well ahead of schedule, and began working immediately.  Those two guys had the old and busted outside unit dismantled and loaded in our personal trailer before we even knew it!  The old outside unit is being donated to TIRR, the Ridgeback rescue I volunteer with.  With any luck, they will be able to use it to get the kennel A/C back up and running.  They've been relying on a host of window units for far too long...

Then it was on to the inside work of removing the old stack which fit inside the utility closet.  The new inside stack, which is the air handler, blower, heater coil and evaporator coil, would fit in the same space.
The new inside unit.
Utility closet.
We had a cooler iced down with Gatorade and water so the crew could keep hydrated.  The Monkeys were good, too, not bugging me for a Gatorade very often, and since I had overbought, they were rewarded with a cold one too.
New and quiet!
New ducting was put in place in the attic to improve the air flow.  The new stack was set into the closet, and the crew began connecting it.  We even got a new thermostat (Oh, SHINY!) to replace our old one.  Finally the A/C was ready to test, and was kicked on at 2:30pm, about 7hrs after they began.  We were not sure what to expect, with all the heat built up in the house, and a day of 97*F with the typical high humidity of Texas summers.  The thermostat read 88*F inside.  Despite all of this, we saw a decrease pretty quickly.
See?  It's coming down!
This morning, as I sit here with my HOT coffee, and a bowl of oatmeal, I am relishing in the lovely cool air in my house.  The whole house had cooled overnight, and the initial programming on the thermostat seems to be working.  The only thing I am noticing, besides the cold air, is the noise of the cold air return.  The new system is drawing much more air, so the return grates hiss slightly.  It is a lovely sound!

DH got out before dawn, in the cool of the day, for a longer ride.  With his plans of an imperial century on Hotter 'N Hell next month, he needs to push the distance.  Unfortunately, today will still be pushing 100*F outside.  There are plans later this evening, for grilled chicken fajitas with a  friend.  May this weekend be a pleasant one for all of you, whatever you do, and whatever your weather!

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).