Sunday, July 26, 2015

How Much Confidence?

Last week we got the following notice from the complex management. I understand that maintenance needs to be done. I also hate to be at the mercy of the schedule of others.

So this was a little worse than normal. These notices are usually about pest control or smoke alarm inspection. They usually are restricted to a certain day or two. This one is spread over at least three weeks. 

The reason I hate these intrusions is that you never know when these folks will show up. They either have a key or are with someone from the complex staff. Will they come first thing in the morning while I'm still asleep? Will they come when I'm in the shower? Will they come while I'm taking a dump? It is just disrupting.

Besides spanning three weeks, this particular intrusion has other concerns. There are sprinkler heads in every room, including closets. I live in a two bedroom, two bath apartment that has 13 sprinkler heads. My understanding of fire sprinkler systems is that they are always full of water. The sprinkler heads are activated by heat. I would guess that the water in the system might get a little nasty over time. 

So what could go wrong? Repair/replacement of at least 13 nozzles on pipes in my ceilings. I was a little uneasy when I got the notice. That uneasiness increased exponentially on Tuesday. 

The day started out normally. I was out and about early before the Texas sun got too high and hot. In the late morning, the fire alarm went off. It was on steady for several minutes and then intermittent bursts for several more minutes. I checked on the alarm and found that 
some of the sprinkler guys were at the control panel in my building. OK, maybe these guys were new to the fire/alarm system at our complex. Not encouraging but also not devastating.

Then the crowning blow to my confidence. In the mid-afternoon there was a knock on the door. Three guys were there from the sprinkler company. They asked if they could come in for a minute to check out something. OK with me. They stopped at the first sprinkler head they saw which is in my front hall. The obvious leader of the pack reached up to take the chrome collar off the sprinkler and then used a knife to cut away some drywall ceiling so they could better see the sprinkler head. One of the guys was using his phone as a flashlight. Shouldn't workmen have a real flashlight? I pointed out that there was a hall light and kitchen light that might help. They mucked around with the sprinkler head for about 10 minutes.

Seems the sprinkler heads are circa 1986, not made anymore, and this company doesn't have a wrench that fits the connection. They were taking measurements to manufacture a tool for the job. I'm of an age that 1986 doesn't seem that long ago, but it is almost 30 years in the past. Wouldn't an established sprinkler company have tools to deal with old installations? They took one of my sprinkler collars I guess to help confirm their measurements. 

So, how much confidence should I have that this exercise won't result in a bunch of rusty water on my furniture, electronics, books, clothes, photos, ...?

For the most part, the complex management and staff does an OK job. The sprinkler guys who came by today were very nice. I'm thinking OK and nice is not the optimal combination for this task.

I did not see the sprinkler guys the rest of the week. Guess they are still trying to find or build a wrench.

The GFCI outlet has been installed without incident but there is a story there too. I'll relate that in another post.

I'll let you know how this sprinkler adventure turns out. Hope it isn't wet and rusty.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Very Random Thoughts - June 2015

  • Most people who insist that the poor and disadvantaged pull themselves up by their bootstraps never had to do it themselves. Maybe their parents or grandparents did, but not them. 
  • I'm pretty sure that reading articles or watching TV news stories about all the shit that can kill you can kill you. 
  • Has their ever been a home project that turned out as easy as you expected?
  • I wish weather alerts and breaking news bulletins could be filtered out of stuff I DVR. That severe thunderstorm was last week. 
  • How come multiplications tables were taught 1 through 12? Why not through 13 or 15 or 20? Probably could have stopped at 10. 1x1=1, 12x12=144. 
  • Did you know that vehicular deaths and firearm deaths per year are almost identical at about 33K. Both are disturbing.
  • In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians and 743 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.
  • Normal reaction is now almost always overreaction.
  • Politicians are very good at pointing out what is wrong. Few are even adequate at coming up with workable solutions.
  • How come PBS Newshour Weekend is only a half hour? 
  • Florists, caterers, event venues and wedding planners should have a very good year.
  • Why are so many Christians paranoid and think their religion will be eliminated every time something goes against their beliefs? Don't they have enough faith in their god and a religion that has been around for 2,000 years?
  • Commercials often say "real people, not actors". Aren't actors real people too?
  • Fox News should be renamed Fox Opinion. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bedford July 4th Festivities

Because of the construction at Boys Ranch the Bedford July 4thFest was moved to the Old Bedford School and the library grounds. I wasn't sure how it would work, but it was fine. Everything but the classic car show was at the Old School. The food vendors were on the east side, the music stage was right next to the school's west wall and the kids' area was behind the school building.  

Apparently it didn't make any difference where the festivities were because the place was packed. The whole field in front of the school was full as were the open areas around the library. I noticed people also setting up at the areas of Boys Ranch that aren't closed by the construction and places in between. One big change this year was that the parking at Boys Ranch was open to the public and it was pretty near full by 7:00. Another change is that the temporary No Parking signs moved south and east from the usual streets and neighborhoods. 

Bedford again provided free parking and $5 per person shuttle buses from Pennington Field to the 4thFest site. I guess the thing to do is have a designated driver drop off a car full near the site then only pay for one shuttle ride. My better method is to walk the two or two and a half miles from my place to the venue. No parking hassle, no waiting on shuttles. Plus of course you get exercise and burn calories. Have another beer without the worry of gaining weight or getting a DWI ticket.

The food vendors were mostly about the same mediocre group that has been at past 4thFests. The usual carnival stuff. One addition was a large trailer that served funnel cakes. It was doing a booming business with lines all the way across the roadway. Never underestimate people's ability to consume junk food. Even saw a firefighter and a cop (of course) with one. The best choice I saw was a small tent serving pulled pork sandwiches and beef tacos. I had the pork and it was OK. There is always better quality and selection at the Labor Day BluesFest, probably because it is a 2½ day event that includes a barbeque cookoff. 

Besides the temporary change in venue, the big news was the addition of beer and wine at this year's 4thFest. Selection was limited to about four Bud brands and only one red wine. Still, they had Ziegenbock which is acceptable. It seemed to be successful since I saw a whole bunch of people drinking beer and absolutely nobody displaying drunken behavior. My only problem was that I went to get a final beer at 9:40 to watch the 10:00 fireworks only to be told that alcohol sales ended at 9:30. Oh well, better scheduling next time.

The band was OK. They played a varied mixture of rock songs from the 60's through the 80's plus a couple of contemporary songs. They are called Deja Groove and are a local D/FW group. My only complaint is that their breaks were longer than their sets. Since the 4thFest band is usually on (off & on) from about 5:00 to 9:30 maybe Bedford needs to have two or more bands doing shorter sets. 

The classic car show was not as large or well staged as other years. I think that was mostly poor planning since there should have been plenty of room, even more than there is at Boys Ranch. As usual there were some pretty nice rides and a few clunkers. Of course the best car was the same model that is always tops. It is a 1957 Chevy Bel Air. It is a car I always wanted. The closest I ever came was when my dad bought a '64 Chevy Bel Air but that is not even close to the same thing. Even after all these years it is a beautiful car. So much more interesting than the generic cars we have today. Back in the 50's and 60's, every car model had a distinct design and often a distinct sound. Not now, with few exceptions all cars in the same price range look pretty much alike. 

My few suggestions would be:

  1. More trash cans and maybe some recycle bins for aluminum and plastic containers.
  2. More continuous music. 15 minutes of music followed by 30 minutes of silence is not ideal.
  3. Better lighting. This may be a problem only at Old Bedford School, but the hill between the Old School and Library was not well lit. A couple of concession stands were in the dark too but that may have been the vendor's fault.
  4. A better layout for the classic car display. A more defined and better area.

So, the Bedford 4thFest seemed to be a success. I had a good time and that's the most important thing. There were a few things that need improvement but nothing major. Based on the major delays in the construction at Boys Ranch, I would not bet that the 4thFest for 2016 will be back there. That's OK because Old Bedford School has proved to be a very acceptable venue. 

Happy 4th, now 5th, of July to all. What's next, Labor Day?