Showing posts from 2015

A different question

I bet you think I’m going to ask you the usual "half empty or half full" question about this glass of water, right? Instead, suppose I inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"
8 oz.? 20 oz.? A pound?
Well, the fact is, the absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.
The stresses and worries in life (and grudges) are like that glass of water. Think about them for a minute and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything. So, we need to remember to put the glass down. Thanksgiving can be a time of both letting go and picking up. Why not take this o…


I’m sure you have noticed, for the last several weeks it seems like everyone has “tips” to help you winterize your house:  check insulation and weather stripping, caulk, get the heater checked, get a programmable thermostat, yadda yadda yadda….

One thing I rarely see on those lists though is a reminder that your ceiling fans can help you stay comfy during the heating season as well as cooling.  

Don’t retire them for the winter, just flip the switch to reverse the rotation.  In the summer you get cooled by the “wind chill factor” and in winter the heat that rises toward the ceiling is recirculated without feeling like a draft.

I think the best way to remember to make the switch is, whenever you change your system from cooling to heating or vice versa, change your fans too.  Well, maybe not in the Houston area where we tend to have heating and cooling in the same day, but you get the idea…


By the way, if no matter how much winterizing you do, your home…


Since indoor plumbing was invented (the photo is a communal toilet room from a couple of thousand years ago) there really has not been a lot of innovation in the systems, everyone relying on some form of rigid piping for water distribution and drainage. 

So, I thought it was interesting when I saw a hot and cold potable water distribution technology that uses flexible polyethylene tubing instead of pieces of rigid pipe glued, screwed or soldered together that we are all used to seeing.  I think it’s pretty slick, and it appears to me like the way to go.
Manifold Home Piping SystemsWhat are they?
Manifold piping, or home-run plumbing systems are a plumbing option that generally uses a type of tubing called PEX — cross-lined polyethylene piping.  The pictures pretty well show how it works. 

The idea is that each tube runs continuously from the centrally located distribution manifold out to the fixture it serves, without a bunch of branches and fittings hidden in the building’s framing to …


...sold door to door, that is.  Today we also have con artists with increasingly sophisticated pitches.

OK, so not EVERYONE needs to be concerned about door-to-door salesmen, but most of us will have them come calling on us. Door-to-door salesmen in the past have sold vacuum cleaners, encyclopedias, miracle cleaning supplies, driveway coatings and the like, but today we also have con artists with increasingly sophisticated pitches meant to separate us from our money.

My security company sends regular email newsletters, like every other company you’ve ever given your email address to, and one recent item caught my eye, talking about door-to-door security system peddlers with some pretty successful scams.

I thought it wouldn’t hurt for me to pass on a couple of things that may remind you that you need to be suspicious, especially when it comes to protecting your home and family. 

Of course, I went to Google, and found a helpful info page from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

Signs of a Se…

Are You In Hot Water?

THIS hot water would be pretty fabulous, assuming you could make the dash from the house to the hot tub and back without freezing…
But what I am really getting at is a Federal law (the National Appliance and Energy Conservation Act - NAECA) that mandates higher energy efficiency for all home water heaters manufactured after April 16, 2015, that you may not find out about until it costs you money.

Since providing hot water in homes represents a big part of a home’s average energy consumption, it certainly sounds like a great idea to save money and energy, plus it is part of the government’s efforts to make the US more self-sufficient energy-wise.  The phased improvement mandates actually started in 1990.
So what’s the big deal?  While the added insulation adds some cost to the units, the REAL problem comes because the new 2015 water heaters are LARGER than the previous models of the same capacity. With diameters and heights of many water heaters increasing up to 15%, installation issues m…


Interesting maybe, but pretty much useless information from Zillow (reported by Inman News, Amy Swinderman, July 9, 2015): Zillow has developed a “Breakeven Horizon” analysis that shows “…when it comes to the real estate market, location isn't everything; so is timing.”  They have data and a nice chart that they say shows how long it takes a home buyer to be better off financially than if they had continued to rent.  
The chart compares first quarter 2015 with 4th quarter 2014, giving the national average and values for a list of major metropolitan markets in the US.  For example, the figures for Q1 2015 show that the national average to the breakeven point is 1.9 years, ranging from a low of 1.1 years in the Dallas-Ft Worth area to 4.5 years in Washington, DC.
OK, so what does it mean? Suppose you are a renter in New York and you check out this “analysis” and see the big difference between where you are and DFW… so what do you do, start packing to move to the DFW area and buy there…

Do You Have A Clue?

I didn't have a CLUE and you might not either… I am referring to a national insurance claim data bank known as
Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE )
that contains insurance claim and payment information.
Until I read about it somewhere recently I didn’t know it existed, but it could very well have impacted me without my realizing it. CLUE keeps insurance claim and payment information on auto and personal property policies, the way they state it. 
What is not clear on the surface is that to them “personal property” includes your home or other real estate, claims such as what has been filed against your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.  That’s contrary to the more generally recognized distinction between personal property being commonly considered things that are movable, as opposed to real property or real estate.

There’s just one wrinkle that COULD cost you money unfairly: the data is tied to the property, so… if you buy a home or car that has had past claims paid against the…