Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sure has been HOT in Austin!

Well, I think it is time for us to update our resumes. We are now Heating and Air conditioning Technicians and masons. After 25 years in the building business (off and on) it seems odd that we have never had occasion to do one of these relatively straight forward tasks. We have just always subbed them out.

Anyway, we needed to install a heat pump in our workshop this week and decided to do it ourselves. Of course, you can learn to do any task on the Internet, so it was no big deal. I had watched enough of our subcontractors lay brick to know how to do that. Only had six blocks to set to build a platform to raise the outdoor unit about 24 inches off the ground. It was easy to do but, a bit of a challenge to get everything perfectly level. Just requires a critical eye on the level. The only reason I set it so high off the ground was to keep it in the shade of the eaves during the summer. We designed the overhang to place the shade right at the base of the wall when the sun is at it's most northerly position. Since we had to set the heat pump out about 10 inches from the wall, it had to be raised to stay in the shade. I don't know if that makes any difference in efficiency but, it seemed like a good idea.

Installing the heat pump was a little more involved than laying the blocks but, still a pretty straight forward job. Probably took us 7-8 hours of work but, if we had another one to do, could do it in four. Had to run wiring to supply power to the outdoor unit and had to install a disconnect and put the unit on it's own circuit. Then comes the wiring and tubing between the outdoor unit and the indoor unit. Here is the outdoor unit installed:



This system we installed is called a ductless, mini-split, heat pump. I have never seen one before because we have always installed systems in houses with many rooms, and these are not made for that application. The indoor unit just mounts to the wall and supplies heated or cooled air from that one point, although, you can buy these systems with up to four indoor units. Since our shop is basically one large room, this system works perfectly.


These are easy to install and come from the factory pre-charged with enough freon for up to 25 feet of tubing (we only used 8 feet since the outdoor unit is directly outside the wall from the indoor unit). You do have to have a vacuum pump and gauges to hook up to the service port to evacuate the tubing and indoor unit prior to opening the freon valve. That, and a flare tool are the only special tools you need. By-the-way, I set a new personal lifetime record on this install. Made six flare connections in a row without forgetting to put the nut on before flaring. Didn't have to cut off a single flare. Here is what the indoor unit looks like:


This 12,000 Btu system is very quite and cools this shop nicely. I don't really try and cool my tool room or the upstairs area of the shop but, the main work area and office is about 1500 square feet, and this is doing just fine on that. Today it is 103 degrees outside so, it is a pretty good test.

If you have the right type of space to heat and cool (not chopped up into a lot of rooms) this is the way to go. Plus, it was fun doing the install.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Republicans have lost their bearings

Just take a look at this pathetic crew and ask yourself if this is really the best the Republicans can come up with? We have never called ourselves Republicans but, will admit, we did identify with them a little more closely during the Clinton years. Although, let's be perfectly clear on this, we have never voted for one for President since Ronald Regan. In other words, we have never cast a ballot for a Bush! And, if you think that means we voted for Clinton, think again. We were forced to vote independent those years.


We are working hard to see Barack Obama becomes the next President and believe he will beat Bush's love monkey by a landslide. One of our weird South Austin friends sent an email today that we thought was hilarious but, right on target. Don't worry, he takes "weird" as a compliment just like we do. Anyway, here is a reprint of "A GUIDE TO REPUBLICAN PRINCIPALS" by anonymous:

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney then did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find bin Laden"diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing UN resolutions against Iraq.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's links to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

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If you got the email too, you can see we edited down the list simply in an effort to be fair to the Republicans. We just left the ones in that were not even debatable.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It is time - End aging now

One of our very favorite organizations and one of the most interesting web sites you will find on the internet is that of the Methusela Foundation. Here, you can find all the information you can absorb, and then some, regarding the emerging science of life extention. Check it out and, if you feel so moved, give them your support. You can make a tax deductible contribution or support the research in many other ways, as you will find out on the web site.

There is a very interesting article in COSMOS magazine on this very subject and it begins as follows: "Developments in a number of scientific disciplines suggest that we may soon be able to increase life expectancies from the 70- to 80-year range already seen in the richest countries to well over 100 and, perhaps, to over 1,000. We shall, in one sense, have made ourselves immortal.

We shall not be immortal in the sense that we cannot die; plainly we could still be killed in a car accident or by a cosmic event such as an asteroid striking the Earth. But we could not be killed by disease or age, our bodies would be immune to infection, dysfunction or the ravages of time. We would be medically immortal.

Some say this will happen quickly within, perhaps, 30 years with the first clear signs that we are on the right track appearing within the next decade. Others think we are at least a century or two away from attaining medical immortality. Some consider it completely unattainable. But the majority of scientists and thinkers in this area now consider life extension and even medical immortality possible and likely." To continue reading in COSMOS click here

Monday, June 02, 2008

Obama Makes it Official

Back on Feb. 13th, after Super Tuesday, we posted that the Democratic nomination was essentially settled. The prediction turned out to be correct but, who would have thought it would have taken to early June to be confirmed? Will this be the last we hear from the Hillary and Bill show? We can only hope.

Some say sexism was involved in Hillary's defeat - I wonder? It probably had more to do with CFS (Clinton Fatigue Syndrome) - misrepresentation, distortion, outright lying, and a continuation of the same old tactics that the country has grown sick of? How would Obama have fared if he had tried to change the rules on Michigan and Florida simply for the benefit of his campaign? What if Obama had decided to shed a few tears to garner sympathy? What if Obama had tried to show he was tested under fire by lying about sniper fire in Bosnia? How far would he have gotten with the "Oh, I was sleep deprived" argument? No doubt, being a woman is hard but, being black is harder.

Now comes the crucial VP decision and, hopefully, we will not have the so called "dream ticket" which in reality is the "nightmare ticket." It should be still fresh on Obama's mind that the Clintons compared his candidacy to Jesse Jackson; called it a fairy tale, could not quite remember clearly that he WAS NOT a Muslim, has repeatedly distorted the election numbers, and tried desperately to bring in Michigan and Florida after it became apparent that it suited their purposes. I doubt that he wants a Presidency tainted by the stench of the Clintons and all their flagrant self dealing. Nor does he want to go through a campaign answering questions about the Clinton scandals - travel gate, Rose Law Firm documents, Tyson Chicken, cattle futures, Whitewater, White House pardons, "donors" to Clinton Library, and a hundred other things I can't think of off the top of my head.

Who should he pick for VP? I really don't know - there are hundreds better than Clinton. I personally like Biden, Edwards, Richardson. At this point, I would say anyone but Clinton.

Peggy and I are volunteers for the Obama campaign. Not sure what we are going to be doing at this point - maybe just blogging but, we have offered to travel to work in battle ground states, if needed. I guess we will see - stay tuned.