Thursday, May 14, 2015

Grouch estates goes solar!

The Missus and I are turning to solar power for Grouch estates.  The process will take about three months before everything is installed and switched on, which puts us right smack in the hottest part of summer for our happy valley.  At last we will be able to run the air conditioning at a temperature lower than 84F!  

This program has us paying a low fixed power rate to a provider and reaping the Edison credits for selling back our power that the cells generate.  Not sure how the third party power provider makes money in this whole thing but we're promised a 30% reduction in our annual power bill plus the excess power generation credits that we can cash in at the end of each year.

Now, if we add one of those new Tesla house batteries, maybe we can just about cut all of our power purchases!

Stay tuned for further developments.

Goodbye old paint

I feel like the old cowboy who must say goodbye to his faithful steed.  Yesterday I sold my Dodge Stratus.  It had been a faithful companion for the last four years but with the new electric roller skate I no longer needed the Stratus.

I placed a 'for-sale' ad on Craig's list and sat back to wait for the calls to flood in.  After all, it was low miles, beautiful condition and priced at only $4,800.  I only got one call, from a local car dealer seeking to entice me to trade it on a new car.

Young Daughter who is a Craig's List Jedi warned me that it was overpriced for CL by $1,800.  'Everyone is cheap on Craig's List' were her words of wisdom.  I cut the price to $4,000.  No bites.

I reduced the price to $3,900 and the calls started coming in, including one from a young boy who was asking questions on behalf of his father who I could hear mumbling in the background.  When I turned down his offer of $2,000 he hung up without saying goodbye.

Two guys wanted the car but one of them got to it before the other.  The buyer was a retired Marine NCO who needed the car for his long daily commute.   We hit it off right away (even though he was a Marine and me being Army) and I cut the price some more for him.  I think he would've paid my asking price but I cut it anyway.  He and his wife were so happy that they got the car that they hugged each other!  Made me feel darned good.

So goodbye old paint, you were a steady steed for four years.  Take care of Gunny and be as good to him as you were to me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Electric crunchy granola car part 2

I picked up the electric roller skate today (since it is silver and about the size of a roller skate I think that is what I will call it); the Missus dropped me off in her hybrid Escape.  I was able to feel morally superior because I now have an EV and she only has a hybrid.  Just joking honey.

Anyway, as the very nice salesman handed over the keys and the like he casually informed me that the state of California is going to send me a rebate for $2,500 for leasing the roller skate.  You must be kidding!  With the rebate and fuel savings this thing is going to be almost (almost being the key word here) free to operate.  Thank you fellow California taxpayers for the money!

So, somehow this arch conservative has become not only an inadvertent greenie what with my use of the commuter train for commuting and an EV for driving around town, I am also an even bigger leech on society since my modes of transportation are subsidized by the government.

How did this happen?

Stay tuned for further adventures of the roller skate! 

Citizen Grouch goes double crunchy granola enviro greeny!

So, my job requires me to keep a car at work to get around town.  I started off with a 15 year old Lincoln Town Car that looked like someone had been shot in it and bled out.  The inside was icky enough that my boss didn't want to ride in it with me and he visibly cringed when he sat in it.  Besides that it was a money pit and even though it was given to me, it just wasn't working out for me.

I upgraded to a '05 white Dodge Stratus, a government (or G-ride in govspeak) car retired and auctioned off.  I bought it from a chap in my happy valley who professed to have bought it for his son, only to have it rejected because it wasn't sporty enough.  I've had it for about three years but now it has developed some problems that will require some money to be spent to correct them.  I only put about 6k miles a year on it since it sits a lot waiting for me at work.

This past weekend I read on one of my fleet newsletters that GM is offering its Chevy Spark EV at amazingly low lease rates for 39 months.  I've never leased a car before and usually drive a vehicle for 10+ years so leasing doesn't work for me but this time, this news caught my attention, so I went to two Chevy dealers before I found one for lease.

The dealer went one better than corporate Chevy and leased me a Spark EV at a rate lower than GM and one with the 20 minute fast charge provision to boot!  They must have liked me or something.

The electric car should need no maintenance for the 39 months that I will be responsible for it and no fuel either.  Just a couple of bucks each time it needs charged up.  Seems like it will be pretty much trouble free.

So starting Monday I will have an electric car to get around town.  Fortunately I have a charge station available nearby.  It will be interesting to see what kind of driving range it actually has.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Visiting Santa Barbara


A couple of years ago the Grouch children pooled their funds and bought us a gift card to the Canary hotel in Santa Barbara for our 35th anniversary.   Not being the type to rush into things we waited two years before using their thoughtful gift.  Two weekends ago we made the drive from our happy valley up the coast to sunny Santa Barbara.

As mentioned we stayed at the Canary hotel, a small boutique place one block off of State street which is the shopping and tourist street in SB.  We are an easy two mile walk to the beach and with everything being so close we didn't touch our vehicle for the two days we were there.



Our room with the canopy bed and view of the ocean (if you ignored the parking structure in the way).  Great room, very quiet and comfortable but you had to pay $12.95 for internet access!  Needless to say we didn't access the internet while in our room.

The rooftop pool 

The rooftop fireplace with a great view of all of the scenery!

An interesting house we spotted walking to the beach

Once again I have put the Missus in the path of potential disaster - but then living in Southern California is like living in an Irwin Allen movie seven days a week


The harbor from the Maritime museum - I can't pass up a museum!







The pump house door hit from the Japanese sub shelling of Santa Barbara at the beginning of WW2.  




A lighthouse fresnel lense

One of a group of 18th century cannons found on a local beach after a big storm

I didn't know Sambo's was still in business!  We can add this to the first Starbuck's that we visited in Seattle


The Missus patiently waiting for her lunch of diet Coke, bacon, and an English muffin at Sambo's


On the boardwalk


Wearing the T-shirt that I got through the Reddit T-shirt exchange.  This one came from Sweden and I sent two to Denmark.





Seen on State Street!





The Missus reads over Ben Franklin's shoulder


We had dinner here  - Bratwurst, Bavarian pretzels and diet Pepsi - no beer for us!  Older Son would like this place given its beer selection


Friday, April 17, 2015

Squirrel Buffet

One of the members of the local squirrel gang was helping himself to our seed buffet in the backyard.  Since he had to do the upside down limbo to get to his lunch I thought I should take his picture.

Kerby the psycho dog is the sworn enemy of each and every member of the squirrel gang but this time we restrained her to watch the antics of this furry fellow. 










Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Grouch and Son visit Sin City

The tradition with the Grouch family is that when a Grouch youngster turns 21 they get a weekend in Las Vegas with a Grouch parent.  Usually the Missus does this because:  1. She knows how to party; 2. She likes to stay up really late at night; 3. She loves Las Vegas.  For Young Son I was tapped to be the escort for his foray to sin city.

Our trip almost started off snake-bit when we suffered the double whammy of the CiC visiting his favorite ATM aka Los Angeles and a jack-knifed semi which completely closed the freeway to Bob Hope Airport.  I didn't think we'd make our flight because all of the freeways were practically grid-locked but with some fancy driving and using back roads, we got around the overturned semi and to the airport in time for our flight.

We walked 10 miles a day both days in LV seeing the sights.  Young Son rode the roller coaster above New York New York, got dragooned into the show at the "Mystere" show at Treasure Island, lost money at black jack and got embarrassed by his dad, ate lots, saw lots, and seemed to have a really fun time!

The support aircraft for the Prez's visit to L.A. departed from Bob Hope airport to join his entourage for the flight from LAX back to DC.  It was a pretty impressive scene, seeing Marine 1 and 2 as well as three Ospreys taking off and heading west.


Young Son getting ready for a day's worth of sight-seeing

Las Vegas' reply to the London eye as seen from our off the strip motel.

I found this museum the most interesting part of the trip.  Worth a visit!

Citizen Grouch displaying the atomic pot holder glove that he purchased for a reasonable price for the Missus

Young Son with Robby the robot from 'Forbidden Planet' and 'Lost in Space'
Anyone who knows me, knows my love for season one of "Lost in Space"
Atomic pop artifacts from my youth
I have a tin of crackers just like these!

Young Son with a replica of a nuclear device like the one Slim Pickens rode in "Dr. Strangelove"

That is a diet Pepsi bottle in my hand

Young Son displays his Irish roots at Nine Fine Irishmen and enjoys some hard cider too.
This guy got Young Son into the show at the Mystere performance.  He was a much better sport about it than I would have been!