Thursday, March 31, 2016

Automatic Dishwasher Adventure

Like almost everyone else in the civilized world, we have an automatic dishwasher in our kitchen.  I hesitate to call it a dish washer for a couple of reasons:
  1. Since the major manufacturers of dishwasher detergent pulled phosphates from their products, it doesn't really clean anything.
  2. Nothing goes in our dishwasher that isn't already clean enough to go back on the shelf.  Don't ask me to explain that - it's just the way things work at our house.
I have been blaming reason number one on the federal government, but they share only a little of the blame.  Federally funded studies on eutrophication may have led to them, but all the laws banning phosphates from detergent are state and local legislation.

Our dishwasher had finally reached a point where it was not only not cleaning, but things actually looked worse after a cycle than when they went in.  I have been cleaning the dishwasher for two days now - a total of about six hours so far.  I have made progress, but it has been such a major project that I think I'll save the details for tomorrow.
 The one thing I will say is that, if you want to have any hope of cleaning a dishwasher, you should start with one that is already almost clean. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Feeders 2

The hummingbird feeders were out for about 36 hours without drawing a single customer.  Then, about 7 a.m., we saw our first bird.  
I think he may have been a local, because he only sipped for a few seconds and then flew away.  Newly arrived migrating birds tend to stay on the feeder for a very long time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Set the hummingbird feeders out yesterday evening.  
I'm not sure if we're early or late, but yesterday just felt right.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mr. Fixit

Anyone who has ever owned a Recreational Vehicle, or a boat can tell you that there is always something that needs attention, and simply adding RV or Marine to the name makes the price of parts skyrocket.

That’s just the way it is. 

I suppose the same applies to private aircraft, but I have no experience with planes.

This is the story of an issue I recently had with our 5th wheel trailer. 

In the ceiling of the kitchen area, there is a Fantastic Fan.  That is an exhaust fan that vents through the roof and has a vent cover that  closes to keep things dry when not in use.  It has a control panel on the wall with switches to operate the fan and the motor that raises and lowers the vent cover. 

A while back, the cover was stuck shut – a year or more in the closed position had caused the vent cover to adhere to the seal. I climbed up on a chair and turned the knob to raise the vent manually.  There was a slight pop as the seal released, and then everything worked as designed.

This past week, when I attempted to run the fan, I could hear the little motor turning, but the vent wouldn’t move.  It still went up and down manually, but the motor wouldn’t move it.  I assumed that the gears on the little motor were stripped.

Yesterday, I went on line to find a replacement part.  It took me over half an hour to find.  There were lots of links to kits to automatically control the operation via a thermostat, and even a kit that automatically shuts the cover if it rains, but the lift motor was hard to find.

I did finally find one, and realized that I didn’t need one after all. 

lift motor

The Push-Pull instructions that you see on the motor are not visible on the fan, but that is the way it works.  All I had to do was give the manual knob a slight push up, and everything works the way it was designed to do.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Word of the Day

Today is Easter Sunday, 2016.  
In looking for something to write about this morning, I came across the word Inhumation.  
It is a perfectly good English word, but one I had never seen before.  
Based on the Latin in humare, and the antonym of exhumation, Inhumation simply means burial.  Literally, in humus (dirt).
The fact that inhumation so closely resembles inhuman is simply a coincidence. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Turf War In Slow Motion

What we in Southeast Texas refer to as a Chameleon really isn't a Chameleon at all, it is a Green Anole - Anolis Carolensis.  They are called Chameleons because they change color to match their environment.
The males have that pink flap under their throat called a dewlap, and they extend it as a territorial display and often, I suspect, just because it feels good.  I have been seeing them do this all my life, but yesterday evening I learned that this isn't the only the only part of their body they can modify.
Two males got into a territorial dispute on our side wall, and they displayed a ridge from the top of their heads down their back.  It completely changed their appearance, making them look like escapees from Jurassic Park.
There really wasn't much of a fight.  The only time they actually touched, it was open mouth to open mouth, and neither tried to bite the other.  The whole thing was done in slow motion and lasted about five minutes.

Once one of them decided that he had lost, he retreated very carefully.  It took him almost half an hour to leave the field of battle.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Three by Four

I promised yesterday to get a photo of that little patch of clover with two four-leaf clovers within a foot of each other.  When I took the picture, I realized that there are actually three plainly visible.
And...the picture may show four - I see one that appears to have four leaves that I didn't notice yesterday evening when I uploaded the photo from my camera.
How many do you see?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Two by Four

I have mentioned several times in the past that we have a patch of clover in our backyard that produces an inordinate number of four-leaf clovers.  If I were a geneticist or a botanist, I could probably breed this plant for this tendency - maybe get rich - but that isn't going to happen.
Yesterday evening, I looked down at this plant and spotted two perfect four-leaf specimens within a foot of each other.  I decided to take a picture to post here, but it was getting dark, so I decided to take the picture this morning.  
Then, overnight, we had a frontal passage, complete with thunderstorms about 5 a.m.
This morning the clover is bedraggled - flat on the ground, with many of the leaves folded in on themselves.  The two four-leafs are still there, but a picture wouldn't show it if you didn't know what to look for.  Now that the rain is over, I'm hoping they will recover enough to get the picture this afternoon.  
If I can, I'll post it tomorrow. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Our Pagoda

Stopped by Walmart in Atascosita Monday evening and picked up something we've been wanting for some time.  
What I got was the Chapter brand Pagoda; it's a canopy to use when we're camping.  I had seen it on line, and, although the Porter Walmart where I usually shop doesn't carry it, the Atascosita store keeps it in stock.  
. Somewhere on the website there was a claim that it could be set up in three minutes, but that's impossible.  Once you get the hang of it, it does go up pretty easily - it is definitely a two-person job - but I doubt if any two people could get it installed in less than five minutes.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Can't Get There From Here

We have used Google Maps in our travels for years, and it is usually quite accurate.  We have found glitches, but nothing serious.
Yesterday, I was fooling around on the net, and pulled up directions from Brenham, Texas to our house.
 Google offered three alternative routes, including Hwy 105 through Conroe (the shortest miles/longest drive time) and US 290 to Beltway 8 (the way we normally go) but the one recommended was US 290 to Texas 99 - the new Grand Parkway that will eventually circle Houston.  Their directions read, in part:
 Merge onto US-290 E
37.3 mi

Take the exit toward TX-99
0.4 mi

Keep left at the fork and merge onto TX-99
Partial toll road
36.9 mi
Continue on Valley Ranch Pkwy. Take Eastex Freeway Service Rd and FM 1485 E to Conners Rd in Harris County
28 min (16.1 mi)

Turn right onto Valley Ranch Pkwy
0.3 mi

Sharp left to stay on Valley Ranch Pkwy
1.6 mi

Turn right onto Eastex Freeway Service Rd
2.3 mi

Slight left toward Eastex Freeway Service Rd
371 ft

Slight left onto Eastex Freeway Service Rd
1.6 mi

Use the right 2 lanes to turn slightly right to stay on Eastex Freeway Service Rd
1.3 mi

Turn right onto Antique Ln
That's fine, except that what's known as Section G - the part from Spring to New Caney - of the 184 mile long super loop is still under constructionThe interchange at US 59 is basically done - there is still some finishing work in progress - but it doesn't connect to anything.
To give Google Maps some credit, that portion of Hwy 99 was projected to be finished by the end of 2015.