Recommending Richmond’s Air

trane6Thursday at the close of my working day I sauntered from the office to the house (it’s a short distance) and met with quite a surprise. In the house is was nearly 90 degrees! The central air conditioner was blowing…warm air. Our normally learned Nest thermostat looked positively befuddled.

The dogs, who look forward to the end of my workday as the warm-up to their dinner, saw that clearly something was wrong. While I was opening windows & doors to get some ventilation happening, they trotted back to the comfort of the office. It’s constant 74 degrees assured by a very nice Fujitsu Halcyon mini-split air conditioner that I’ve described elsewhere. Sensible creatures, our dogs.

It was around 7pm when I telephoned our regular AC service company. While they would gladly take the after hours works at a premium rate, they had no-one available to investigate the trouble. The best they could do would be the next morning. Ugh!

So, I consulted that know-it-all Google, and literally stumbled upon Richmond’s Air. At first glance several things that appeared to be in their favor;

  • It happens that they have an office nearby on Yale Street.
  • Google reported that they officially closed at 9pm so they were "still open."
  • Their home page includes an image of an American Standard AC unit….Our Brand, as it happens.
  • Their home page also includes an image of a Labrador Retriever, also a house favorite (we have two!)

I called. They answered. James said that he wasn’t at the office, but he wasn’t far, and would be at our location in around 30 minutes.

While we waited. We sweated. Stella had me cut open the last of the windows that had been painted shut when the house was painted. Nixcon did a great job on the painting. Highly recommended.

James showed up as promised. He was quick to notice that the compressor simply wasn’t running. Some electrical parts had to be replaced, but had those in his truck. In about an hour he had the system restored to functional.

The whole exercise, from "Hi" to "Bye" took less than 2 hours. By 9:15pm the house was starting on it’s way back to habitable. It actually achieved our usual nighttime temperature around 11:00pm.

Better yet, the cost for this little adventure, with parts, was just $50 more than our usual company quoted merely for the pleasure of their company. I can’t recall the last time that something potentially catastrophic, like an AC failure, was dealt with so easily.

Richmond’s Air has won our future business.

A Swallowtail Butterfly Time Lapse

This past week we’ve come to have a number of swallowtail butterfly chrysalis in the back yard. I thought it would be nice to capture the process of one of them emerging into the world. To that end I setup our Audubon Birdcam nearby, setting it in time lapse mode. After a couple of days of waiting here’s the result.

The Birdcam was capturing one 5 MP image every five seconds. This sequence is frame 3700 to 4200 in the series. The source images were loaded into Premiere Pro to be down-res’d, repositioned and played back at slower speed. The final result rendered out as a 720p HD clip about one minute long.

Magic Beans From Canada

Tim-Horton's-Coffee-BeansOne of my last major projects working for Pixel Power was an installation at WBNS in Columbus, Ohio. I was reminded of this project, which started in August 2012, when I saw that it was recently written up in TVTechnology.

Columbus, Ohio is notable for being the corporate HQ for Wendy’s International. As a Canadian living in the US I’m also mindful that Wendy’s once owned the Tim Horton’s coffee chain that is a long-time Canadian institution.

One of the treats I stumbled into during several weeks in Columbus was the location of a Tim Horton’s very near to WBNS. It became my daily stop on the way in to work.

In my pre-caffeinated stupor one morning I happened to glance around the store and see that they were selling coffee, including bags of whole bean coffee. Further, it was offered at a decent price…cheaper than nominal beans from our local supermarket. I brought back several pounds in my luggage that trip.

Tim Horton’s doesn’t make it as far south as Texas. In fact, although they are reputed to have over 500 stores in the US, they don’t seem to stray too far from the Canadian border.

While invoking my morning grind yesterday I was reminded that coffee beans don’t last forever. I would soon run out of the Gevalia Whole Bean Coffee that I’ve been using most recently.

I’m not much of a shopper. This, and the fact that we’re a one-car family, has driven me to shop online for most things. In fact, I’m a big fan of Amazon’s Prime program. So as a lark I grabbed my Nexus 7 and put “coffee beans” into the Amazon app.

Imagine my surprise when I found that Amazon sells Tim Horton’s Coffee, in whole beans, in 2 pound bags cheaper than I can  buy similar goods at the local supermarket. I executed the patented one-click order and got me some Timmy’s to be delivered. All the way to Texas.

It’s like a little bit of Canada being lobbed over the fence. What an unexpected treat.

A Little Gratuitous Coffee Porn

That’s about all I can think of to describe the Scanomat TopBrewer. Just $4300. Fortunately, Scanomat products are not currently available in North America.

Amazon & I Have Confused Our David Wilcox’s

Dual-David-WilcoxWhen I was in college I lived in a large student housing co-op in the middle of downtown Toronto. It was dominated  by students from what was then called Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (RPI.)

While I did not attend RPI officially, I attended numerous social functions on the campus. It was there that I was introduced to David Wilcox, one of Canada’s leading blues/rock guitarists. True to the tales of my beer-soaked room-mates, his live show was awesome.

A few years ago I was filling some holes in my music collection and started to seek out some David Wilcox titles. By then I was living in the US and found that south of that border there is another David Wilcox that is a prominent American fold singer and songwriter. He’s not the blues guitar master of his Canadian counterpart, but he is a very good songwriter nonetheless.

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A Pecan Tree, Grass and Rain

When we bought our house, some twelve years ago, it had a largish deck in the back yard. It was in several levels and built along side a mature Pecan tree that remains the centerpiece of the property. We really like that Pecan tree. Our best guess is that it’s around 90 years old.

The lower-most level of the deck was covered. This made perfect sense since the Pecan drops shedloads of junk at different times of year. What we didn’t really understand was why the deck, which occupied most of the back yard, was as large as it was. It left precious little room for grass.

Some years later we rebuilt the back deck, making smaller so we could have a little more grassed yard. After rebuilding the deck we had new sod put in the back yard.  Not long after the sod was installed it started to rain. That summer it rained every day for over seven weeks. Not continuously, but every day. It was enough that our new back yard literally downed. Apparently sod doesn’t like that much water.

We didn’t do anything to remedy the back yard for quite some time. Over time we noticed over time that very little grew around the Pecan tree. In fact, if you think back, you probably can’t recall seeing a Pecan with lovely grass leading up to it’s trunk. That just doesn’t seem to happen in nature. Pecan leaves are both plentiful and highly acidic. They assure that not much will grow around a Pecan. It’s a natural form of protection.

The past two years Texas has been in a very serious drought. This took quite a toll on the yard and the garden. However, Stella has recently put a lot of effort into reviving the garden. Last spring we had the Boxwoods removed from the front yard, replacing them with bi-level brick flower beds planted with roses and various annuals. This spring the side and back gardens have started to look pretty good, too.

This past week Stella decided that we would once again have sod put down in the back yard. This time we had the landscape company level the yard and install drains to ensure that excess water would run off to the storm sewers.

This morning the company came to do the work. They’ve done a pretty good job. However, the last portion they had to do in a hurry…while it’s barely rained in weeks, today it seems that a thunder storm has spun up and it’s now raining quite seriously.

I’m sure that somewhere a minor deity, or perhaps demon, is laughing at us.

A Hopeful Sign

We plant a lot of Milkweed in our garden. It’s the favorite food of Monarch butterfly caterpillars. This afternoon I found the little fellow in the side yard. He’s just about dry enough to fly. He was flying around about an hour later.

This video was shot using my Galaxy Nexus cell phone.

TEDx Houston 2012 Date & Location Officially Announced

100% Pure Awesomeness: Stephen Fry On Language

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language from Matthew Rogers on Vimeo.

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Watch the video. Visit the web site. Contact your elected officials. Please.