Home improvements part 1: New deck

It occurred to me that I haven’t written about the epic home improvement odyssey we’ve been on for the last few months. The story really started in the fall of 2005, a few months after we bought the house. When it rains in Austin, it really rains. You can hear what a typical storm sounds like by downloading a recording I made. (It’s binaural, so listen with headphones for full effect.


The temperature has suddenly dropped over the last couple of days. Yesterday evening it was 23 celsius as we sat on the restaurant patio. A woman walked by, wearing a scarf.

State of emergency

It’s snowing. There are icicles on our roof. There’s ice on the outside of my office window (I love having a well insulated house). I remember this…it’s “winter”, isn’t it? I imagine Texans are going into a state of blind panic. The roads are probably full of accidents. Fortunately we stocked up on food a couple of days ago, and can just sit in the warm and enjoy the show.

Simple pleasures

It’s raining. It has been raining all afternoon. I’m not complaining that it’s raining, we need it. I only started driving about 2½ years ago. As a result, I still find it genuinely pleasurable to be in a car when it’s raining, even if I’m sitting in traffic. Slow moving traffic? Luxury. Try not moving, spending 45 minutes standing in the wind and rain waiting for a bus that’s supposed to run every 20 minutes.

Extreme weather emergencies

The gas company sent us a required notice explaining the law regarding disconnection of service. It says that Texas law does not allow disconnection of service during an Extreme Weather Emergency Day, and goes on to explain: An extreme weather emergency means a day when the previous day’s highest temperature did not exceed 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature is predicted to remain at or below that level for the next 24 hours according to the nearest weather station for the county where the customer takes service.

So just how hot is it in Austin, really?

After some controversy over just how bad the weather gets in Austin, I decided to go pick up some actual historical data from the NOAA web site. First, the monthly averages, in turn averaged for 1931-2000: City <td> Jan </td> <td> Feb </td> <td> Mar </td> <td> Apr </td> <td> May </td> <td> Jun </td> <td> Jul </td> <td> Aug </td> <td> Sep </td> <td> Oct </td> <td> Nov </td> <td> Dec </td> Austin TX <td> 52.

Brass monkeys

It’s -18 celsius. I think that’s the coldest it has been since I moved here in January 1997. Yes, I’ve experienced the joys of -40 in Minnesota, but I never considered living there.

Warmth at last

The temperature finally leapt up to normal levels, a comfortable 14 degrees rather than the freezing temperatures we’ve had for the year so far. We went out to get food, and the square was full of people, and the sounds and smells of the city were back… I suddenly remembered warm, summer evenings. It’s only weather, yet it seems to have transformed my surroundings. At last I remember why I live here.

OK, I admit it

It’s too damn hot. It was 36 celcius in the shade at 18:30. It’s nearly midnight and it’s still 30. Still, I prefer this to winter.

New England weather

Well, it was 36 celcius in the shade at 18:00. Apparently we’ve gone straight from winter to summer and skipped spring; a week ago it was regularly sub-zero. I got a really good deal on Corel Graphics Suite, via Big Blue. It’s buggy, but it’s OS X native, so occasional crashes aren’t a huge deal. It has full alpha channel support, transparency, and the preview engine of CorelDraw seems to use Quartz!