Monday, August 25, 2014

Was Today a Crazy Day in the RGV, or What?

Today seemed a particularly crazy day in the news here in the Rio Grande Valley.

Let's start off with the first day of school. Today, parents, children, and the community at large scrambled around like ants after their hill is kicked over. Police everywhere watching trouble spots where people get gnarled up dropping off their kids, and watching for dummies talking on their phone (or texting) through school zones. So, the craziness started with people trying to readjust to the school routine.

Then, apparently, Weslaco's water was contaminated overnight because of too much demand. Their water processing could not keep up. I don't know exactly what that means, perhaps something with backflows where water is sucked back into the water lines, thus making the quality questionable. Who knows? In any case, the whole city had to lay off tap water. The schools had to order bottled water. Restaurants shut down. Dogs and cats...never mind. The City of Weslaco issued a notice overnight, as if anybody listens to or reads the news while screaming at the kids to put on their damned shoes and get in the car.

The Hidalgo school district found mold in some classrooms and had to cancel classes for those schools (school?). That's a good thing, right? Well not for parents who have been dreaming about getting rid of their kids since May. That's the sort of thing that trifles with their emotions. I'm surprise there were no assaults.

Speaking of assaults, apparently there was a kidnapping and assault in Donna. There were ambulances, police, and helicopters involved. Even +KGBTexas .communications and other media went out to cover the event. Last I heard, there was a standoff and some woman escaped. I don't know the details because I have a job and only have time to see headlines stream by.

Speaking of streams, I saw a photo of a rolled over vehicle on the expressway. There was another vehicle that caught fire. And, to top it off, Eastbound lanes were shut down on the Expressway in Mission.

All of this is what I could gather just from headlines zipping by. I'm sure there was much more craziness; but, I'm afraid to look.

What is wrong with you people?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2014 A Slow Hurricane Season

Just yesterday, while thinking about the heat and the possibility of rain, it occurred to me that there have been no tropical storms nor hurricanes this year. 2013 was a very slow year with only two hurricanes and fourteen tropical storms. Nothing major. So, how is this year looking?

First, I discovered that Hurricane Season officially starts on June 1 and ends September 30. This means that it has been only about three weeks since the season started. Thus, not enough time for these random events to cook something up.

However, given that we had an unusually long winter, and that such storms love heat energy, it may be possible that we will have another slow year.

The predictions by people who keep stats say that we should have 5 hurricanes this year, with 2 major ones hitting land. And we should have about 10 tropical storms. If you do the numbers, that gets us up to the letter J in storm names.

Given the history of storms, we can likely expect both the Yucatan and Caribbean islands to get run over. As for landfall on the rest of North America, it's anybody's guess.

We should prepare for a storm, regardless. It doesn't hurt to be stocked up on what you might need.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cleaning Mold and Mildew From Your Window Air Conditioner

I don't think cleaning mold and mildew from your window air conditioner is a problem specific to the Rio Grande Valley. After all, there are plenty of other places with high temperatures and high humidity. However, given that there are so many of us who rely on window units to cool our homes, allow me to share some experience in cleaning these things out.

Why I'm Cleaning My Own A/C

Obviously, our window units grew some black stuff on the blower and its enclosure. This generated allergies in my little one, who is sensitive to such things. Not having my own laboratory, I couldn't tell you if it is mold or mildew. It matters not.

What I've Tried

Other than replacing the window unit every couple months, I've tried washing the unit with Clorox products. I figure bleach kills everything; but, I guess it doesn't. We still had to use cotton swabs to wipe and scrub surfaces on the blower and enclosure, which is almost impossible on some models. You can't disassemble them enough without separating welded parts.

We have also tried professional AC cleaner sprays, which foam up and you wash off. The black stuff remains.

If I couldn't remove the black stuff, then perhaps I could filter the allergens. At first, I tried putting a HEPA filter on the air intake and exhaust. This works for maybe a day until the intake gets clogged. After that the unit struggles to blow out cold air. It freezes up and stops blowing air altogether.

I tried being less aggressive on the intake, using a foam, washable filter and a HEPA on the exhaust. This works better; but, you still have to change the HEPA filter every 10 days. You'd be amazed at the crud that it catches.

What Finally Worked

After much research, I found people recommending something so obvious, I didn't think of it. They recommended Lysol Mold & Mildew Remover.

We tried it tonight to see if it works. Unlike the other bleach products, this one starts working within minutes. You do not have to sit around scrubbing all the surfaces to remove the mold or mildew. The black stuff either falls off or washes off with a water hose.

Additional Note

If you or a child of yours suffers from bad allergies and must use window air conditioning units, I would recommend using the Lysol spray to clean out the growing mold or mildew. This stuff is almost inevitable given the high humidity in the RGV. The combination of condensation and dust in the air create the perfect conditions, substrate for you geeks, for mold and mildew to build up and release allergens.

But, don't stop there. I also recommend you stop at the local Home Depot or Lowe's to buy a really good air filter. By some magic of marketing, a small filter costs as much as a large one. I buy the large ones and cut them up. For the same $20, I can change the filter pieces several times.

A cheap foam filter will have to do for the air intake. Unfortunately, the high quality filter that catches allergens coming out of the AC also slows down the air flow drastically. Stopping up both ends severely reduces the efficiency of the unit, making it run continuously without cooling off your home. The best balance is to clean the unit and change filters frequently.

I recommend spraying down the fan and fan enclosure once per month when you are using the air conditioner. I recommend changing the filters every 10 to 15 days. I tried changing the filters once per month; but, they start to grow their own mold and mildew, adding to your allergy problem. When it comes to health, the minor inconvenience of changing filters and washing out your AC is well worth it compared to buying allergy medicine, decongestant, cough medicine, tissues, and albuterol.

Been there. Done that. I hope this helps you make things better in your home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Changes to RGV-Life Twitter Feed

The RGV Life Twitter feed was previously fed news updates through Topix. Unfortunately, it required clicking on the link, landing on a summary page, and then having to click on another link for the full story.

The feed has been updated to use Google News as the source in the hopes that only a single click will be needed to reach the news source rather than require a second click to reach the original post.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hidalgo County MPO Bike/Ped Taskforce Meeting

The Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet Monday, April 14, at 6 pm in the UTPA Community Engagement (ITTB 1.210) building. The MPO relies on public involvement to advise local governments and leaders on what they can do to make our communities better and safer for pedestrians and bike riders.

Facebook Event:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

South Texas Wedding and Quinceanera Showcase

South Texas Wedding & Quinceanera Showcase starts tomorrow from noon to 6 pm at the McAllen Convention Center.

The event features more than 70 exhibitors. Tickets to the event are only $8 per person.

Attendees can expect to see fashion shows to highlight products. In addition, there will be live entertainment, special offers, food, and prizes.

An event like this is a great preparation for summer brides who are looking for that something special for their upcoming wedding. Be sure not to miss it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

RGV Life Event Announcements on Twitter

If you follow RGV Life on Twitter, you will see an increase in posts with Rio Grande Valley headlines, weather, and event announcments. This is a recent effort to make the RGV Life online presence more useful to the community.

Unfortunately, it requires a greater time commitment to write blog posts, otherwise that would be the preferred method of announcing things. Still, keep checking back as more updates and modifications are made.

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