Thursday, September 23, 2010

History For Sale

I have been intriqued by this old house on Huebner Rd for many years.
In fact, I photographed a simpler stone home next to it back in 2006 or so, when this one was still occupied.
Sadly, the other was torn down within weeks of me shooting it, to be replaced by commercial interests on this busy street that's moving fast from "country" to "city".

Hopefully whoever buys it does a complete restoration. We don't really need more medical offices at the cost of historical stone architecture.

The section on the right looks original, and much older than the rest.
Typical, in my experience. Small crude shacks get additions as the family and the bank account grow.
I don't like to think of what might be living under that patio--there were a LOT of wasp nests on the porches making me nervous.

Old front door?

New front door.
I mean really new, which is a good sign.

Covered parking at the entrance, and places for the valets to stay dry.
Looking forward to the housewarming party.

The driveway from Huebner curves under the awning, then exits onto a side street--both sporting iron gates.
Behind the stone walls and iron at the front is some kind of pool or fountain--I didn't investigate because the tall weeds were hiding all kinds of critters and the last thing I need on a Thursday is to be sprayed by a skunk or bitten by a rattlesnake--missing work is never an option.
(You 9-5 types probably can't imagine being unable to miss a day of work.
I'm proud of my perfect attendance, but then if you don't work you don't get paid in this biz)

If I bought this place everything would go, down to the stone.
Wood, wiring, floors and ceilings, the roof--it's all rotten and nasty, leaking and full of mold.
But the results would be amazing.

In an interesting coincidence, last Saturday night I mentioned this photoshoot and discovered that a friend of mine also loves this house.
When the boards come off so that work can begin, I'll try to get some interiors.
Or at least keep an eye (and a lens) on developments.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Low Carbs

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I got my lawnmower repaired at Blanco Fix-It.
(Just north of Basse Rd.)
It was running rough and dying, and after I ruled out a clogged air filter and old sparkplug, the only thing left is a clogged or worn-out carburator.
After 6 years, a rebuild seemed like a good idea anyway.

All the small local shops got terrible reviews in my limited Googling, but Blanco Fix-It got raves, so it seemed like a smart choice.
I was impressed by how many mowers and weedwhackers I could see in the just-dropped-off area, and by the huge number waiting for pickup.
The parts shelves area was pretty big, too.
I figured there must be ten people working there, but when I asked the owner today she told me it was just her working the front, her husband fixing the mowers, and a third person handling the weeders.
It was a pleasant surprise when she called me 2 days after I dropped mine off to tell me it was ready. Terrific service. Just DON'T lose your ticket!

After 10" of rain from Tropical Storm Hermine, my grass and weeds really needed some work:

They replaced my almost new sparkplug, rebuilt the carb, and thankfully replaced the priming bulb which had gotten rather soft and didn't work too well anymore.
Well worth $55 in my book.
The nice lady also told me the dirty little secret of small engines.
Would you like me to share it?

75-80% of their business is due to people using old gasoline, and by old she meant more than a week out of the pump!
She said it starts to break down, and damages the carb diaphragm and other parts.
I'm not sure if I buy into that all the way, but on the other hand, why not?
What I did on the way home, on her advice, was stop at my gas station and fill the tank enough for this week's cutting, then put the other couple of dollars in my truck. (It helps that my Dodge takes regular unleaded just like the mower--my old Honda Prelude only took Premium).
I'm going to pour the remainder of my gas can into the truck, too.
Then I'm going to buy the smallest gas can they make.
When it's time to cut grass again I'm going to put around 10-12 ounces in it for the mower, which is enough to cut the front, back, side, and alley.
I'll let you know it it extends the life of my carb in around 7 years.

The severe damage from two years of drought is almost healed.
Where there's grass, the dead spots have filled back in.
Where there are weeds (I call it ground cover to make myself feel better) there's solid weeds with no dirt visible anymore.
Luckily, the "ground cover" is in the rear of our huge backyard, so you really can't tell when looking out the window--it's all a lush green expanse of barefoot friendly goodness.
I'm really glad we have St. Augustine because whenever the rain returns it sends out runners to reclaim territory, then always succeeds in dominating the weeds.
Always liked it better than Bermuda or Fescue, because it's an Alpha grass that takes no crap from anyone.
The clover patches got choked to death in July. I'm the only witness and am keeping my trap shut.

I'm officially an old man now.
Nobody else would talk so much about mowers and lawns and think it was interesting to anyone else.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adventures Around Town

I'm driving!
Get Outta My Way!!

Went to Converse to hang with my brother--took him shopping in my new truck.
At the 1604/Kitty Hawk HEB I spotted this funny scene:
I'm not above posing something like this, but not this time.

Then there's this:
Fill the ball on the right with water and throw it in the dryer, and you get Mr. Steamy.
The one on the left--Mr. Explodey.

At the Forum BestBuy I got to add to my Stolen Chair Project.
(Yes, I've started taking it with me in the truck)

Blanco Fix-It has my lawnmower fixed after just 2 days.
While dropping it off I got mad when I saw someone wheeling in a mower with an inch of mud flaking off it's wheels.
Not very considerate.
I hosed mine down before taking it in.

Also, it appears that my truck has an alarm system, because just now when I shut it off the horn beeped twice and an LED on the dash started to blink.
According to the manual, the factory optional alarm has a remote so this is aftermarket.
Hopefully I can figure it all out and not wake the neighbors.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sticker Shock

Neither of us went to the University Of Texas @ Austin, but the UT orange paint is rather pretty on the new truck.

On the other hand, all of the UT stickers and emblems are a bit much:

We joked around that the truck came with two kids:

Wimpy soccer playing kids, but they're ours now so shut up!
Not everyone can make the football team.

I shake my head every time I unlock the door:
I took these pictures today because without an insurance card I didn't feel comfortable taking a real drive outside the neighborhood, so I had to do something.
First thing tomorrow I'm going to scrape that shit off, even if it damages the paint.
I'll cover any damage with skulls or basses or cameras if I have to.

Nothing against UT--I just don't believe in false advertising.
This truck is in San Antonio now, where bright metallic orange is considered cool.
Hopefully I won't accidentally cut-off any Aggies in traffic and get a pine sapling or sheep's butt thrown at me.

Finally got to drive it around town today, then to work, and I just now got home.
It's awesome.
Drives like a dream, solid and true.
289cid V6 Magnum motor, automatic transmission with overdrive, big tires that look almost new, immaculate interior (a surprise on a '98) and only 97k miles.
For what we paid, it's a freaking steal.
Cruise control was very nice on the way home tonight.

I need to scrub the bed and liner, buy floormats, and a drop-hitch + trailer electricals.
Tomorrow I'll polish the headlight covers and pick a CD to test that part of the stereo.
I hope my license plates aren't weird when they come in--no WTF-666 please.

At first I thought there was a suspension issue due to thumping sounds.
Turns out the spare tire wasn't winched all the way up, so it was banging around under there.
There's some minor body damage and the hood and bumpers are mis-aligned a bit, but when you drive the truck it's obvious that there hasn't been any wrecks in the past.
Alignment is perfect and it feels better than a 2010 Ford Ranger I have intimate experience with.
Looks like just the typical teenager parking lot crunches to me.

I'll shut up now...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Liberation Day

Free At Last!

It's been a rough week.
We cruised past our preferred Polish Used Cars lot on Monday and spotted this bright orange Dodge Dakota.
I stuck my fingers through the chainlink fence, like a child in 1946 Berlin during the airlift seeking candy.

On Tuesday I called and was informed that they didn't allow testdrives in the rain (let alone tropical storms) and that they would be closed on Wednesday.
(Strike 2!)

Sylvia got off work early today and we hurried over to check it out, and now it's ours.
Several other people were interested--we were told this after the sale was complete, so it isn't BS.

The interior is incredible for a 12 year old truck, but maybe they just take better care in San Marcos?
It was originally green, but there are some UT Longhorn stickers so it looks like the orange paint was a present.

Bottom line is that I have transport of my own for the first time since my Honda Prelude got totalled on Nov. 12, 2009.
My life is about to change.
Hopefully I can reclaim some of my momentum and productivity, both photographically and musically.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Random Stuff

Sylvia has a new office at work, so naturally she needs some of my prints hanging on the walls. A mini-gallery that'll hopefully result in some sales.
We're thinking 3 frames with a rotating group of themes.
Summer means my best beach sunsets and waterfalls, autumn is good for landscapes and night shots, winter gets our Christmas card pictures and then some infrareds, and for spring I'm leaning towards bugs and critters and flowers.

Unfortunately, my last 2 harddrive failures wiped out almost all of my final print files, so I've been going through all the backup CDs to grab the originals.
This is tedious, but I'm looking forward to PhotoShopping them again with a few more years of experience and hopefully more mature tastes.

One cool thing is that I'm finding treasures--long forgotten photos and alternate versions that I like better.

These two have never been seen by anyone but me before now:

And Now For Something Completely Different:
I don't remember where I heard about this movie, but after Googling "black dynamite trailer" I knew I had to have it.
In fact, this is the first time I have ever paid $20 for a DVD.

If you liked Shaft and the later "Blaxploitation" flicks, or enjoyed I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, you'll LOVE Black Dynamite!

It's a spoof of that whole genre from the late '60s through the '70s, which were notable for saving the film industry from collapse long before Star Wars and Jaws were incorrectly given credit for that feat.

Continuity errors, the same stuntman getting killed 6 times, mic booms intruding on the frame, bad dialog, it's all there for you and your friends to try and spot.
They used stock footage from Charlie's Angels and SWAT, etc, for car chase and helicopter scenes.
The music by Adrian Younge is new and all original, but recorded using strictly period instruments and studio gear--it's funky!
Characters include Creamed Corn, Captain Kangaroo Pimp, and Pat & Richard Nixon.

The kung fu is awesome.
Stars Michael Jai White and Byron Minns are great, but Tommy Davidson almost steals the show.

This movie is so intentionally bad, it's hilarious.
Best watched with a couple 40s of malt liquor.