Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mold... I got a lot of mold...

I know that only about 2% of the population - if that - watches "Squidbillies," so no one at all gets the Granny Squid reference in this post's title, but still, I can't help it. Every time I talk about this, I have to use that tweaked Granny quote. (In case you're wondering, the original quote is, "Moles... I got a lot of moles.") Granny Squid is hilarious.

But to the point.

I have had mold growing on the walls of my apartment. Coming from the West, that is such a strange concept. Mold grows on fruit and bread - and even then, only rarely. But out here, it's humid. I mean, crazy humid! And when water started leaking from my ceiling and the base of my walls, all that wetness resulted in this:

Gross. Dangerous. Unhealthy. Unsightly. Inconvenient.

But the couple who owns my house, as they always are, was very responsive, very helpful. The plumber came and figured out where the water is coming from: The ceiling leak is from a leaky shower upstairs, and the water puddling on the floors was coming through walls that were filled with water from a faulty condensation tube connected to my air conditioner. (It's likely that the tube has been leaking since it was installed, so this could be years and years of water finally breaking through.) He tore out the wall, and this is what it looks like now:

This remarkable little device, a dehumidifier, is drying the apartment out. I am absolutely amazed by how quickly the tray fills up with water. Pulled from thin air!

Once the wall cavities are sufficiently dry, the walls will be replaced and repainted, and my apartment won't look like this anymore

Monday, July 28, 2008

A strict new policy

Yeah, I admit that my posts lately have been sort of single-minded, all about selling my car. I'm not the only one who's noticed. A certain someone, whom I won't name except to say it's someone to whom I'm related on both my mother's and father's side of the family, sent me the following message:
You sold it! Awesome! congrats
but now I think you should blog about something we all REALLY care about......
Now it is my fervent belief that if this certain someone, to whom I am related fraternally, really wants to see Edison, he ought to come out for a visit. So fervent is this belief, in fact, that this will be my last blog post about Edison until that someone comes out for a visit. That's the only way this person will get his Phil - ahem, I mean, his fill - of Edison. (Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind on this strict policy, should Edison do anything particularly blog-worthy.)

So enjoy these random pictures and videos. They will likely be your last for a while.

And some video of Edison reacting to me making that water-drip-drop sound by flicking my cheek with my finger. I have often said that this dog-head-tilt is one of my biggest pet peeves when it's used in commercials as a way of letting us know that "my goodness this person's behavior is so wacky that even the dog recognizes it." But when my dog does it in the privacy of my own house, it's hilarious, and I'm not ashamed to post videos of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

She's gone

I did it. The Prius is gone. It now lives with the nice folks at the Rockville Carmax, at least until they sell it - which I am sure will happen pretty soon. I decided to go with Carmax because it was quick and convenient - they took care of everything with the bank and title and everything, and they bought it from me for more than I bought it for new, so I walked away with a nice fat check.

The car and I had some nice last moments together. I left work a few minutes early to make the drive up to Rockville. I had to be there by 7 p.m. because Carmax had to be able to call my credit union in Utah, which closed at 5. (I first went to Carmax on Saturday and got my quote for what they would pay for the car, but the bank was closed so I couldn't sell then.) On the way home it occurred to me that I would have just over an hour to make the highly unpredictable rush-hour drive that would include a long drive on 16th Street on the way out of town (always busy during rush hour), on the Beltway (ALWAYS busy), and on one more interstate. I'm not going to get there on time, I decided. But I went ahead and tried anyway. And the Prius and I enjoyed an unusually smooth, light-on-traffic ride all the way - sure, 16th was busy, but the lights are so well-timed on that road and even that stop-and-go was more go than stop. So we arrived in one piece, relaxed and with a half-hour to spare. Well done, Prius. Well done, Doug.

Sure, I miss my car a little. So many good memories with it - the excitement of learning all about driving this technologically awesome new car, the road trip with my bros to Santa Barbara, the four days of just me and Edison and the Prius cruising across the country with my dad in the Penske in front of me as I tried to cope with the fact that every mile was another mile between me and the rest of my family and friends. But I have to admit already feeling a certain amount of freedom. As I was driving to Carmax, I kept trying to plot out in my head what route home would be the best - and then it would occur to me that my only route home would be a traffic-free Metro ride. Walking home from the Metro past all the bumper-to-bumper parking along all the curbs, I realized I won't have to deal with that again.

Oh yeah, and that fat check!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Micki and Will, this is for you

This made me really sad, for several reasons.

These guys clearly love their bird. They painted her portrait!

Here's hopin' for the best, Lola!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Zipcar update: This plan just keeps getting better

This morning, I get to work and I have an e-mail from a woman who works at Zipcar. Apparently, she has a Google Alert set up to e-mail her when anyone posts blogs, news, etc., about Zipcar. She was alerted to my last two blog posts, in which I talked about my plans to use Zipcar. She looked through the rest of my blog and deduced that I work for USGBC. Through even further detective prowess, she figured I may well be the USGBC employee who had e-mailed them on Thursday with a question about the application process. I was, which meant she now had an e-mail address with which to contact me.

Turns out that Zipcar is planning a promotion called Low Car Diet. In this promotion, 30 people in D.C. are selected to give up their cars and use Zipcar, Metro, buses, bikes and other alternate forms of transportation for a three-week-or-so period this summer. Participants put together two written or video blog posts about the experience to post on the Zipcar Web site. Would I be interested, she asked, in participating? I would be.

In return for my participation, I get one year's membership fee waived. (That's a $50 value, although with my discount as a USGBC employee it would have only cost me $25.) I also get $150 worth of free Zipcar driving time - at my USGBC discounted rate. That rate is about $7.25 per hour (depending on the car), which translates to more than 20 hours. Actually, it's more than that probably, as there is a full-day (USGBC discounted) rate of about $50 (I don't remember exactly what it is). That means the $150 could be worth 72 hours! I also get an as-yet-undetermined amount of money on my SmartCard, which you use to ride Metro trains and buses. I get a membership in some local bicyclists' association, which would be cool if I had a bike. :) And I get to be part of a fun promotional event.

There will be a kickoff event later this month at which we symbolically hand over our car keys and pick up a goody bag. And then we start blogging! I'll let you know when and where you can see my Low Car Diet posts.

I knew this selling-my-car thing would be a good idea!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Car for sale!

I think my previous post may have been my most controversial yet. Not that this is a particularly controversial blog, but my last post resulted in tons of comments, text messages, phone calls, etc., with some people wholeheartedly supporting my thoughts of selling my car and some people heartily against it. It's a tough decision, for sure, and it's probably especially hard for people who don't live in such a transit-friendly city to understand. But I've decided what I'm doing.

I'm selling my car.

Yup. I'm doing it. I've already signed up for my Zipcar account. (I get a discount because my employer has a corporate account!) Since my last post, I perused Craigslist and saw that the Prius that were for sale on there were asking much more than the Blue Book value, so I figure I can get even more for it than I thought. (Maybe even more than I originally paid!) Most of those Craigslist posts are through dealerships, no less, and the Prius is in such high demand, especially out here in the East, that dealerships have waiting lists as long as six months!

I am pretty excited about this decision, but trust me: There are mixed emotions. It's not the concern that a lot of people expressed. It's not that I'm worried about losing the freedom having a car affords me. Zipcar offers pretty close to the same freedom. (I've been specifically noticing Zipcar spots throughout the city since I've been considering this, and they are literally EVERYWHERE.) It's just that, as I said in my last post, I've wanted a Prius since they were first released in 1999 or 2000 or whenever it was. I've had a Prius magnet on my fridge ever since I had my first apartment in 2001. The day I finally decided to go ahead and buy one is one of my happiest recent memories. The day I actually drove it home is an even happier one! I am not really one to get emotionally attached to physical objects. Selling my old car, the beloved Talula the Protege, was tough, because she was my first car and I had her for so long. (I know, I hate it when people call cars "she" too.) But this one will be extra tough. Every time I've given someone a ride in the Prius, I've been That Cool Kid with the Prius. People are so wowed by it. And rightfully so. What a great car!

Then again, I haven't had the six or seven years to bond with the Prius that I had with Talula. In fact, the Prius doesn't even have a name. So that helps.

Oh, and did I mention - I am going to be saving SO MUCH MONEY! I will probably have an actual balance in my savings account for the first time since college! And no debt! And no worries about insurance or parking spots or regular maintenance or keeping it clean. No more will I fret when I see broken glass on the street (I see it all the time here!) and realize that cars parked in D.C. are anything but safe.

I may be jumping the gun. The Craiglist posting just BARELY went up. Maybe no one will want to buy. Maybe I'll find myself stuck with a car AND a Zipcar account. But I doubt it.

Girl, I'm gonna miss you: