Saturday, July 28, 2007

The HVAC verdict is in

Last summer we were running a window units only as we occupied the rooms and we were still sweating our asses off, and our electric bills were running over $200 for that privilege. The past six weeks or so we've run the AC a LOT, have never felt uncomfortable, we're cooling the whole house, and we just got a bill for $140, and our utility costs have certainly not gone down. Needless to say, we love our new central air. We do take advantage of the zoning, keeping the upper floors set a lot higher during the day and the first floor set higher at night (generally 77-78 on the floor we're using, 80-82 on the floor we're not), but there have also been days that I've been working on the house when I cranked that puppy down as far as 72 since frankly I'm a big fan of maximizing comfort as I'm busting my ass scraping floors or hauling boxes. We also turn the AC off on nights where it's actually cooling off, as long as the humidity isn't staying at 80-90% as it too often does around here. I'm just not a big fan of sleeping on sheets that feel like they're freshly out of the washer.

I must admit that I've been a little worried, having heard from a lot of folks who are having electric bills of $300-400, but this is our first bill where we've run the AC a LOT and it was totally doable. And we were COMFORTABLE. My allergies have been not giving me nearly the level of trouble as they usually do (though I did get a sinus infection that I finally kicked just before I managed to get food poisoning earlier this week - don't ask), thanks to the mega-filtration system we ordered. And did I mention that we were actually comfortable?!?

Oh, and I'll say another good word about our HVAC contractors. The downstairs system just wasn't cooling off as well as we thought it should, we called them 8:30am, they were here 10am, had it fixed by 10:30 (one of the coolant lines wasn't quite tightened down as much as it should have been).

There haven't been a lot of other updates because honestly there's been a lot of things going on that have prevented us from doing much of anything on the house. Hell, I haven't even had the time or emotional/mental energy to keep up with things I love to read about, like other folks' houseblogs. I did get the attic mostly organized in a fit of energy and exasperation one day, and had hoped to tackle the garage this week if my GI system hadn't lost that fight with a leftover bean burrito that got left in the car a wee bit too long.... (as I sit here sipping sweetened mint tea, my system not yet tolerant of much of anything else). But the dining room floor? Feh. It'll get done when it gets done. At this point I'd give my left arm to hire someone to finish it for us, but unfortunately that's probably what I'd have to do (that or sell a kidney or something) since the money certainly can't come from anywhere else, as we've been hit with some unexpected significant expenses with more on the horizon.

So... life in Georgetown goes on. Not much, but we're here, we're alive, we're doing pretty decently. I guess that's enough to be thankful for, eh?

Friday, July 20, 2007

What I love about small town life

We live in a classic small town. The picture above is of the circle, just a half-mile from our house, with its beautiful landscaping and fountain, surrounded by historic buildings including the county's main courthouses. The population here is 4000-something, but that includes the folks who live in the rural areas outside of the town itself but that are served by the local post office. We live on one of the main streets, lined with beautiful and mostly very well kept old homes; the official historic district starts a couple of blocks in towards the circle, but I think it's fair to guess that the vast majority of the homes built within Georgetown itself were built anywhere from the late 1700's to the very early 1900's.

As much as I miss the quiet of living on dead-end streets, as I did for 20 years before I moved here, there are so many things here that delight me that are an integral part of small-town life.
  • Several times a day I stop and listen to the nearby church bells ringing, from one of the older churches in town. Most of the time it's just marking the time, but often they're playing songs on their carillon.
  • Often I hear the whistle from trains passing through town; the original train station, no longer used because there are no longer any passenger trains coming through, is recently restored and available to rent for public events, and is just a few blocks from my house.
  • There are little shops and restaurants and the library all within walking distance. I'd really appreciate it if there were more than there is, but the business area apparently died down considerably in the 60's. However, we could walk to Smith's (now known as the Georgetown Family Restaurant but no one with any history with it will ever call it anything but Smith's), to a delightful central-American Mercado, to a coffee shop, and just to the circle to exercise ourselves and the pugs and enjoy looking at all the old houses.
  • In theory, both Von and I could easily walk or bike to work (1/2 mile and 1 mile away, respectively). It doesn't happen often though, because of Von's reluctance to walk around in uniform and my reluctance to get up at anything other than the last possible minute for work.
  • We can go onto our front porch or let our granddaughter crawl around in the front yard and exchange smiles and waves with people who are walking by.
All in all, I'd say that I'm a real convert to the pace of small-town life, and I really enjoy our small town.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

San Francisco, Here I Come!

I'm going to be in San Francisco August 4-10 for a LinuxWorld conference, and I'm going to have some free time to play, but I'm not interested in the regular tourist stuff (been there, done all that). I'm hoping to find some native San Franciscans or regular visitors who can tell me about things such as:

  • Great neighborhoods of old houses or business areas with some really cool architecture that would be good for a walking tour
  • Museums that are definitely worth visiting (small or large, traditional or off-beat)
  • Restaurants!!! I must have really really really good food every night.
  • Shows, plays or concerts in the park, events that are going on that are worth visiting
  • Anything else that you think is well worth seeing but is not part of the regular tourist routine.

I'm not going to have a rental car, and I'm going to be staying in the Union Square area, so everything has to be either accessible by public transportation or a not hideously expensive cab ride from there.

Thanks for any advice you can give!

(And there's not been any house updates lately because I haven't been doing diddly on the house, other than getting the attic organized, finally.)