Monday, May 29, 2017

Sealing Up the Home

Back in January something really strange happened in Texas - temperatures dropped to below freezing one night. That was the time my pipes froze. It was cold and it sucked. To combat the cold, I, obviously, turned up my heat.

My electric bill that came for that time period nearly gave me a heart attack; it was double what it normally was. I immediately signed up for an Energy Audit through the City. They came out and did their stuff. I live in an old house with very poor insulation - it's basically inside, wall, outside. It's nowhere near current standards. Besides getting new windows and doing a huge undertaking to insulate, it was recommended to do some simple caulking of the baseboards for a quick ROI.

I of course didn't do it right away. It warmed up to normal Texas-winter-standards. And it wasn't hot enough for the AC...until Friday. I was dying and finally turned the AC on for the first time.

That spurred me to finally get down to caulking. It was a learning process, with the first room turning out somewhat-acceptable. But then I really hit my stride and caulked my bedroom, the second room, the dining room, and the side door in the kitchen. I've sealed my house to escaping cold/hot air the best I can.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tacos and a President

Memorial Day weekend came without any real plans. I chatted with my friend Suzi on her plans for the weekend, and we decided to join forces to do something in the metroplex that we both had wanted to see - the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

We drove to the train station and hopped on the DART train to take us to the center. There was some track working being done, so we had to get off the train and take a shuttle bus between two stations. This can be annoying sometimes, but when you're not in a hurry it's not generally a big deal. We all like to take transit so we weren't complaining.

We stopped at Torchy's Tacos first to fill our bellies with food. The queso was delicious.

We then made the short walk to the SMU campus and the Presidential Center. It's not a library per se, as the brochure notes. It's more of a center for artifacts and other items from the President's life. The National Archives does have an office there.

What I most wanted to see was the Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors exhibit, a showcase of President Bush's painted portraits of military men and women. The portraits are bright and a bit odd, but I found them lovely and fascinating.

The center showcases the life and presidency of George W. Bush. I loved the old photos of George and Laura (her wedding dress is fantastic). There is a photo of W. being sworn in as Governor of Texas with his dad looking on with tears in his eyes; it's quite striking.

With W. being President during the 9/11 attacks, a large part of the center is dedicated to the attacks, the reaction, and the policies and actions that followed. President Bush was set to focus on other issues such as health care, immigration, but understandably was changed to terrorism, national security, and defense.

The Center has an official, life-size exact replica of the Oval Office when Bush was president. Each president gets to decorate the office as they want. Bush, obviously, had a lot of Texas touches to his Oval Office. The rug was commissioned by FLOTUS from a Fort Worth artist and features a "shining sun" motif. The art on the wall was from Texas artists, featuring blue bonnets and cowboys.

The replica Oval Office leads out to the Texas Rose Garden, just as in real life it leads to the Rose Garden. The Center has a lovely open space and trail system behind it. It's a nice block to the freeway and rushing cars.

Even though I am not a supporter of W.'s policies, I respect him as a person, a husband, and a citizen. He has done many things for veterans since leaving office. The Center did a good job of not being overly partisan or political (for a place that exists solely because a person was POTUS). I enjoyed seeing him as a human other than a politician to be parodied or idolized. Texas has two other Presidential Libraries (LBG and Bush Sr.)...I might have to plan some trips!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Remembering the Helmet Rules for Correct Size

Today I was out at an elementary school giving a biking and walking safety presentation. I was asked to cover the entire school, which meant giving a presentation to each grade level. This can be a bit tricky for me, as speaking to fifth graders is not quite the same as speaking to kindergartners or first graders. I have to mix it up on the fly sometimes, especially when I start losing the kids' attention spans (this generally happens for the classes I see after lunch).

Today one little boy came up to me after my presentation and told me he was afraid he would forget what I taught him about making sure a helmet fits correctly. So I showed him. But he was still concerned he'd forget. His teacher said he could probably ask his friends and they'd help him. But he was still concerned he'd forget. At this point he was crying. His art teacher made a drawing of the two rules of helmet sizing. But he was still concerned he'd forget. He was still crying. I typed out the rules, just like I had told them during the presentation. That seemed to quell his concerns and stopped his tears.

No one has ever been that concerned about remembering something I told them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol: Backstory

When Guardians of the Galaxy came out two years ago I saw it on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was. Plus the music was fantastic. It was a comic book movie that knew it was a comic book movie and was willing to poke fun at that.

After becoming superhero'd out, I wasn't sure I would see Vol. 2. I was pretty sure it would do what all sequels do that make them so awful - over do everything that made the original good. But tonight I went with a group of friends, because that always makes anything better.

Where the first one was fun and exciting, this sequel insisted on giving backstories to ALL the characters. Even Yondu, sitting in a cage after his ship and underlings have been taken from him, has a backstory moment. I did end up liking where his story went, but in the moment it felt like too much.

I was afraid Baby Groot would be over used, because he's just so dang cute. He was used perfectly, though. He even gets to dance during the opening credits to "Mr. Blue Sky", a truly awesome song. I was sitting next to my friend Jessica who has not seen the first one, and she adored Baby Groot.

Rocket was likely my favorite character that isn't Baby Groot. He has the best lines. None were better than his succinct take on stupid names, which made me laugh terribly loud. I was a little annoyed at his ability to take out every single person coming against him in one scene, but I can overlook that because he's just such a great character.

The movie doesn't feel like the typical Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though it is (part of Phase III, to be exact). And that's a good thing. There's no race to close a hole in the sky. The story doesn't seem terribly pressing or world-saving until the end, when it's revealed that Peter's dad is a bad guy. And honestly, I fell asleep for a quick second because it was just explosions on screen that didn't mean anything. I mean, we spend an inordinate amount of time with Peter and his dad, for no real reason. I didn't get the point of the movie, other than to continue the MCU, make money, and allow the world to see Baby Groot.

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