Category Archives: scraping by

new fangled machinery


So a few months ago, The Deistette and I had the AC die at the house. What a nightmare. I don’t know how people lived here in Houston before air conditioning.

Well, we had a guy come out and he said the fan motor was dead. I was really hoping it would be something easy because I barely had the 60 bucks for the service call.

He said he could replace it for 750 bucks. 😐 I felt my butt pucker.

But…
(of course there’s a but)
But… although the fan motor would be new, more than likely as old as the entire unit was (26 years old) it was just a matter of time (a short amount of time) before other stuff on the unit would die. A relay here, a switch there, a thinga-ma-bob here, a whutzit there. He said when stuff started breaking down it would probably cost another good 700 or 800 bucks. Again my butt puckered. Had I been in prison I’d be the belle of the ball!

He said for just a little more money I could get a brand new unit. Well, like I said I barely had the 60 bucks for the service call so I told him I’d have to wait.

My mom got wind of my predicament (thanks to my brother) and so she came to the rescue. She doesn’t really have the money but she said she’d get by.

Mumma is awesome! Thanks be to Mumma!, she who is most awesome!  A pic of Mumma from a post last year.

We got our AC replaced, did a happy dance, sent her thank you card and let her know The Little Man would be happy not have heat rash anymore.

So fast forward to last night.

The service tech from the AC company came by unexpectedly and said he came by to replace a vent on the unit. I asked him about the heater and where the pilot light was on the new unit. We had wanted to turn on the heater once or twice lately but hadn’t been able to.

The nights and mornings have been unusually cool down here on the Gulf Coast Plains for those of us who grew up here and have thinned-out blood. For me 50 degrees was feeling pretty cold.

The guy looked at me like I was some kind of moron and said you don’t have a pilot light. He could see the look of confusion quite easily that I was trying to hide. He said, “well, you see this is a brand new unit. It has electronic ignition that fires up the gas for the heat exchanger.”

I felt like those old timers who say stuff like, “What! Whatdya mean you can put a card in this machine and get money out. It’s called a what?… an ATM?”

Or…

“What? Put paper in this machine and it will send a copy all the way across town? What’s this thing called?… a Fax machine?”

Yeah… in my head I was actually thinking, “What the hell are you talking about! It doesn’t have a pilot light?!? Electronic ignition!”

What the hell will they think of next.

[Deist heads out to lunch and thinks to himself, the next thing you know they’ll be talking about cars that run on water or engines that run on perpetual motion and magnets. ]

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The Umbrella Man


Every so often I have to go the County Clerk’s Office in downtown Houston to file stuff for our clients. Parking can be tough and if there is a high profile criminal case going on… forget it. Some of the county offices are right next to the criminal courts building so parking is kind of at a minimum.

Anyway, one day back in the summer while trying to find a spot I met Rick “The Umbrella Man” Johnson. Mr. Johnson is an entrepreneur. He sells umbrellas on the street corner (thus his self imposed nickname) and he also sells parking vouchers.

The city of Houston did away with parking meters to be replaced by high-speed, low-drag models that are solar powered and spit out a little voucher once you pay. The voucher shows when your time expires and you place it on your dash so you don’t get a ticket.      photo byline unknown; found here

 

Well, Mr Johnson saw an opportunity. More often than not, when people come back to their vehicle they have time left on the voucher. So he asks if he can have it then he resells it if he can. Seems like a lot of work for only dimes and quarters but I always try to buy a little extra time and seek him out to give him my voucher when I can. Continue reading