End of an era

I was reading headlines online earlier this evening when an interesting one came across my screen.  “Last public payphone removed in NYC today”  That’s not to say it will be the last payphone in the entire city, there are many that exist in private businesses and some homes, and there are at least 2 or 3 full length payphone booths that still are available.

Doing a little digging on the ‘Net, apparently as of 2020 there were still at least 100,000 usable payphones in the entire United States, but increasingly they’re being removed, as people using cellphones are supplanting the need for coin operated phones.  Certainly using an operator to place a call has gone the way of the dodo, and the very concept of a ‘trunk’ call, or ‘station to station’ is unheard of.  Just like the bygone days when one could make a phone call for 10 cents (I was in college when the cost increased to a quarter dollar), putting in scads of coins to make a phone call has quickly become a thing of the past.

Though I do remember being in school and needing a ride home.  Instead of using the time honored tradition of making a collect call, and when the automated voice asked for the name; using something like “pleasecomegetmepracticeisover” we used the system of pressing the number 6 twice to indicate that someone needed a ride home.  That way we saved a dime, and whichever parent was free was able to drive to the school to come get either myself or my brother.

Anyway, it seemed interesting to me, so I thought I’d write about it.  Off to bed here, it’s been a long day.

Full of sh*t

I have an older brother.  We’re both adopted, but that’s only part of the story.  He’s 2 years older than I am, and I think we had a pretty normal childhood.  Though if you listen to his side of it, it was surreal.  Almost unbelieveable.  And you’d be right, because most of the time, when he tells stories of his childhood (or later in life) there’s very little truth in what he relates.

Unfortunately, I’ve been witness to this for years.  And the few times I spoke up to put the truth to his lies, I got shouted down by his followers.  I wouldn’t say ‘friends’ necessarily, because most of them are hangers-on, the people that will abandon you when they finally find out the truth for themselves.

I was reminded of this Friday night as my brother was promoting his upcoming concert tour on a fledgling ad hoc radio station (they broadcast one night a week from the rear of a local grocery store).  As it turned out he was the guest of a local personality that is a therapist and champion of mental health.  Unfortunately, she was completely snowed and wowed by my brother, and he was pretty much given free rein to say whatever he wished, without her even batting an eye over the increasingly outlandish things he was talking about.

It has increasingly boggled my mind over the years how he manages always to get away with stuff.  Even when he has run afoul of the law, there’s always been some loophole, some way he’s been able to skate past responsibility.  I’d say he was a cat in a previous life, considering how many lives he’s managed to use up to still be out and about, but since I love cats, I can’t be that cruel.  Maybe he was a chameleon.  That might be a better analogy, I suppose.

Many friends and acquaintances of mine over the years have espoused that karma is eventually going to come to get him, but after seeing and observing him, I don’t think that’s the case.  Though if it does, when he goes boom, he’s going to take a lot of people down with him.  Not necessarily all worthy ones either.  He’s swindled more than a few people over the years as well.  But he’s very good at pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this on pixels.  I’m not going to name names, give any clues or anything of that sort.  I just needed to get this off my chest.  It’s been bothering me.

Thanks for reading.

Central Air

It’s no secret that we live in a house that was built in another era.  Just looking at it, you can see from the construction that it was designed and built from materials that you just can’t find anymore.  No modern building would ever be constructed with no insulation between the outer and inner walls, let alone none in the interior walls.

Going through the interior of the house, one finds there are places where there are double ceilings, usually to conceal plumbing that was added later in the life of the house, considering when it was constructed, there were no bathrooms inside.  I’ve never figured out where the outhouse was located, though I’m fairly certain there was a barn out behind the house, given there are the bones of an ancient foundation behind the current garage.

Either in the 1950s or 60s, a previous owner decided to do some upgrades to the house.  They put on an addition with a cinderblock foundation, along with the attached one-car garage.  While they were doing that, they neglected to tie in that part of the house to the furnace/heating system, so there’s a thermostat next to the coat closet that may have been attached to a space heater, though I’ve never been able to figure out -how- it was wired to work adequately.  Consequently, in both the Spring & Summer, along with the Fall & Winter, it either is too hot, or too cold in the addition.  So we have to utilize space heaters in the winter, and an air conditioner in the summer.  Which both add to the utility bills.

Two years ago, we spoke to the local HVAC business we use to clean our furnace, about possibly upgrading our system to at the very least a new, more efficient one, which would save us money in the long run.  He was very informative and gave us some options to consider, and then we may have hit a snag.  The ductwork that was installed at probably the same time as the old furnace had what appeared to be fiber blankets glued to the metal.  Given the time frame of when it was all put together, there’s a high probability that the blankets would have asbestos in them.  Suffice it to say, that gave our HVAC guy some pause, as he was indicating that with the more efficient furnace, there might be the necessity of replacing the ductwork in the house.  We left it alone at that point and didn’t pick up the subject again until last year.  By then, he had consulted with a few people that had experience in such matters, and their collective opinion was; that if the blankets on the ductwork were left alone, there wouldn’t be a problem replacing the furnace.  Just leave the ducts as they were.

Around April of last year, we called and asked for an estimate on replacing the furnace, but my wife wanted to have a quote on possibly going a step further, by upgrading to a central air system.  We settled on a Goodman furnace system, but it was going to have to be vented out the opposite side of the house from where the old one was.  Which meant drilling into the old brick twice for a fresh air intake and exhaust vent.  They gave us several options to choose from, we settled on the best choice for our house after consulting with several people familiar with both the brand and our situation.  We also decided to bite the bullet and go for the whole smash, which would put a condenser next to the house so we could have central air.  We had vacationed at a house in the Hudson Valley that had both central air AND cathedral ceilings, and it was a very nice setup.  Even in the 85-90 degree weather of late July & early August, the house was quite cool with the in-house air conditioning.  Too, no more lugging and installing (then removing and storing) heavy AC units.  That’s a plus.

The furnace was installed back in August of 2021, and it worked very well over the past winter.  Even with the price of NG going up with the pandemic and subsequent rise in fossil fuel prices, we really didn’t do all that bad with the cost of what we were consuming.  I’m fairly convinced that we would have been spending more if we were still on the old furnace.  Last month the HVAC guys came and installed the condenser (we went with a 16 seer unit instead of a 14 because we believe we could get more efficiency out of the larger unit and a 14 would probably labor a bit more and cost us in electricity) and accompanying electrical work to make it all run, he had an electrician with him and were able to do some juggling in our breaker box to make it all make sense.  There was some suggestion that we might not have had enough space in the box, but they assured us we’re not going to have any power issues; we have a warranty for 10 years on their work and the equipment as well.

We as of yet haven’t had a day where we can test out the whole new system, but probably in the next couple of weeks, we will.  Generally, there will come a day when the bricks on the outside of the house are being baked all day long and that will heat up the house to the point where it will become necessary for the central air to kick in.  Right now our nights are a bit cooler (30s and 40s) and our days are still getting into the 60s and 70s (though the weather is calling for near 80 for today and tomorrow).  We’ll see how it all works out, and I’ll be posting a follow-up to this post come Autumn.