Saturday, June 30, 2007


I sure hope they figure out a way to keep our jogging paths from eroding every hard rain. I wonder how many hours of labor have been put into restoring them? Funny thing - of all the jogging I've seen, and dog walking too, I've never seen anyone ON those trails.

Yes, I do realize how insignificant that is compared to the misery and tragedy up the road in Marble Falls. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Homeowners we know in the Preserve lost high 5 figures in home automation gear due to a lightning hit in one of the recent blasts. And their house has lightning rods plus a copper ground burried. AND this is the second time it has happened!

If you have a substantial investment in home theater, you might wish to check out the PS AUDIO Premier Power Plant ($2195.) You can read about it on their site - I can't vouch for it personally, but there appears to be good thinking and design behind it - you'd also run your cable tv or satellite through it, plus all your AC powering your gear. Click here for more

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


At tonight's Bee Cave council meeting, LCRA presented a plan:

Water rate increase up to 62% over next 2 years.
Waste Water rate to increase 90% over the next 2 years.

LCRA board will vote on this in August and first increase will go into effect in October. Lots of objections from Bee Cave City Council!

Higher consumption = higher rate structure
See for more.

That's a wowser. They say current rates fulfill 25% of operating capital costs.

And Terri Wood was voted in as the new member of the Planning and Zoning Board.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Do you ever wonder what's 'out there?' Four deer - two adults and two kids were just outside the window gobbling wildflowers and my orchid tree this AM. I had to shoot through screens or dirty windows but you get the idea.

As a sidebar - you don't want to mess with these wild beasties, no matter how cute. In Panama (long story) we saw a woman being beaten up pretty seriously by a GOAT!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


They call this thuderstorm activity a train (I think)... where cells just keep coming one after the other. So here's a pastoral scene in morning sun for those who forget.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I don't want the blog to become Craig's list, but here's a special case. The Duncans are moving - forced by work. As such, they have to downsize. As you'll see, this isn't typical "garage sale" stuff - these are very nice quality furnishings.

We'll miss the Duncans.

You can find our listings easily on craisglist Austin by typing in the search box. It would be worth mentioning that the prices have been reduced on some of the previously listed items and they can see them all by searching for
pace sofa
MOMA Picasso print
side table
king and queen oil paintings
Jim Buckels "Blue Ruin" signed print
equipment cabinet
pine table and seagrass chairs
game/pub table and chairs
bamboo and hide stool
Ikea bookshelves
cargo chairs
parson's table
cowhide rug
gymnastic/tumbling mats
cigar box
music stand

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


New faces are popping out of the guard shack; it's a new security company. Evildoers beware!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Let's hope this isn't necessary detail at this point in the summer - I would have posted it earlier but it was just added to a forum I look at. Don't know about you, but we have our computer on a brickwall filter which claims to stop damage from lightning (ZeroSurge). Many of the power strips you read about or see at Target or best Buy aren't likely to work, sorry to say. I've seen good devices run from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars.

I have some of my audio gear on a sacrificial circuit (box) which would give itself up when necessary. Same with the TV.

Apparently one of the surge problems is when the electricity comes back on. It's a good idea if we have a blackout/power failure, to turn off your computer (or unplug it) and also the $5000 tv.

Here's the entry:

Spent many years in the Southeast working for one of the now-large computer companies. As a hardware repair guy, I dealt with many, many weather-related issues and electronic equipment. Here are my 20+ years of observations:

* Lightning is fickle: I've seen direct hits to buildings not necessarily wipe out everything. In fact, I've seen failure of one rack of gear in the middle of a row of racks! A lot depends on the quality of the grounding system in the building and how well the individual wire joints have continuity and, of course, how exactly the lightening made its entry.

* There are many ways for lightning's effects to enter a building: For most residences, there are 3, maybe 4, specific ways electrical energy from lightening can enter: Your main electrical feed, your cable system, your telephone system and any antennas you may have erected around the house. All, or any combination, can deliver the punch your gear can 'feel'. You *must* have solid and reliable grounding systems in place to help mitigate the effects of lightening on these entrances.

* Failures are not immediate: Sudden electrical surges, combined with any number of potential ground loops, poor or non-existent residence grounds, coupled to poorly-maintained electrical distribution will manifest itself in stressed components. That is, there are all kinds of reasons why the gear in the house is stressed but not to the point of specific failures of a component as the surge happens. I've seen multiple failures across days and weeks, depending on how long it is in operation, the amount of ambient thermal heat involved and heat-up/cool-down cycles involved. In other words, if you've had a hit and lost a couple of items, you *may* have more failures.

* Don't forget the electrical distribution system: Mentioned above, the quality of your home's electrical, cable and phone distribution system goes a long way to dissipating that energy that we tend to lump into the term, 'surge'. How well that extra energy is bled off to ground is really important. Most folks do not have their electrical system shut down and the joints throughout the house cleaned and retightened to proper torque spec, even though this is a common practice in most manufacturing environments. For this reason, purchase of much of the add-on power conditioning equipment marketed to the consumer today isn't really valuable unless the rest of the distribution system is up to spec. Don't mistake me, these devices have their place and can be valuable but they depend on your house's electrical system to be up to spec to have any reasonable effect.

So, short answer to your question, "did the lightning you observed and the consequential failure in the neighborhood cause a problem for you with your power bar in the line?" is: It depends.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Yesterday our little innocent dog, Jessie, was sitting on her chair while I did office work. Suddenly she launched herself halfway across the room - very unusual behavior - and we thought she was having a seizure - something was clearly wrong.

We tried to calm her and it seemed to work, but it took a while.

Later I found a mini-lobster on that chair (and brushed it to the floor after putting on my lead-lined gloves.) Yes, I do believe Jessie was stung by a scorpion. This particular scorpion was a larger model, with good Popeye arms/legs/mandibles/pincers/whatevers. It was an SUV of scorpions. After 190 pounds of shoe, it appeared stunned, so I gave it a free pass to Schlitterbahn aka The Toilet. I wonder if bugs have thoughts. What would it make of the grinder pump?

The moral of the story (and see below too) is that it's that time of the year. And coming in the very near future... recent snake sightings. Tell your kids - watch your dogs.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Another several of these bad boys have been sighted.

Bob, we've had 4 large "giant red-headed centipedes" in our house, and countless babies (despite regular visits by ABC Pest control). It must be a bad year for them, because everyone is seeing them for the first time. Go on Google and search for "giant red-headed centipedes" and you'll not be able to fall asleep. They grow to be 12" long and eat mice.

Oh swell.

Here, I'll save you the trouble:

The Red Headed Centipede, Scolopendra heros castaneiceps, is one of three subspecies of Scolopendra heros, which are often collectively referred to as "Giant Desert Centipedes". The Giant Desert Centipedes are some of the largest and most attractive of all centipedes, but the Red Headed Centipede is widely considered the most impressive of the bunch. They are commonly kept as display animals and can make wonderful additions to any collection.

The Red Headed Centipede is a desert dweller that spends the day tucked away in moist hiding spots to avoid the desert's drying affects. They are often found in rock crevices, under leaf litter, and under rocks, and will sometimes burrow into the ground. Red Headed Centipedes are nocturnal predators that feed primarily upon insects. They are well equipped to avoid being preyed upon. This species of centipede has a tail that looks similar to its head, confusing would-be predators and thus, helping to protect its most vital areas. If it is attacked, it can respond with a very painful or even deadly bite. This species of centipede is quite fast and typically very aggressive. Although the venom of this centipede is not considered deadly to humans, all centipedes have a certain amount of venom in their bites; and while being bitten usually results in nothing more than a very painful wound, some people may be allergic to the venom. Pain from the bite may only last a couple of hours, but it could last as much as a couple of days.

The Red Headed Centipede is one of the world's largest species of Centipede and can reach 6 to 12 inches in length. They may have dark blue, purple, or black bodies with red or orange heads, and attached to each body segment is a pair of yellow legs.

The Red Headed Centipede is a relatively common species found throughout much of the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


We are writing to you about a foreign exchange student coming to the Austin area in August 2007. We work for an exchange student agency called the Center for Cultural Exchange and our job is to locate potential host family homes. We are asking for you help!

Sophie, age 16, until today had a host home in Round Rock. She is from Germany and has studied acting at an actor's school in Berlin for two years. Sophie has had parts in two TV series and played the main character in "The silence of Hanna." Unfortuantely, the host home she was supposed to go to encountered a family emergency and canceled the placement today. Now we are in need of another host home for Sophie and am hoping to be able to tell her in the next few days that she
lost her first host home but another one has been located. Sophie is scheduled to come to Texas in August for a school semester. Here is the link to her short bio:

We are asking if you could either host Sophie or are willing to send this email to others you know who might be interested. Hosting an international student is like taking an extended vacation to their country as you learn from then on a daily basis. All of the exchange students are "high functioning" teenagers and come with a very no nonsense J-1 visa.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this email and any help you can offer. We look forward to hearing from you soon. We can be reached at the phone numbers below any time.


John and Charlotte Gemar

Charlotte Gemar
Center for Cultural Interchange
Area Representative
(512) 291-8638
Cell (512) 965-2554

Friday, June 01, 2007


Mystery! The cattle field to the right of the east entrance driveway has been cut back, the fence outfitted with lights and orange tape marks the boundaries. Appears to be parking for a gala something. Could be interesting. Didn't get the invitation though.

Mystery Solved!
Parking for a wedding reception connected with the family that owns the property... which I believe includes the hill in the middle of Spanish Oaks.