Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No More Monkeying Around

Pictured above is my view as I open the front door of my apartment to greet the day and I wouldn't have it any other way. It can be a rather daunting assignment. Maybe you feel the same way, but I can tell you that if your not out there slugging it out then you don't belong in the game. As the Irish say "Is this a private fight or can anyone join in?" This urban landscape is what it is, and that sound your hear as you cheerfully stride out to your car, hopefully caffeinated to the gills, is not the hail of Nazi metal whizzing past your head, but more than likely a rise in blood pressure causing your ears to ring. If you don't like it, ring up American General Corp. or Century 21, I'm sure they would be more than happy to sit you down in a cubicle and start you pecking away at a keyboard for a little security and a big dose of the man.
Stay calm! ( I'm telling myself this but you can join in ) The situation is not that bad, your chances of actually getting whacked out here are slim and if it does happen at least your don't have to worry about that next electric bill. So yes, it does seem like I am running into a mealstrom of all hell, but this is not the truth. Surviving this environment is about staying on task, executing on what need be done, and keeping a keen eye on the outcome.
Now I have made plenty of mistakes in my life, but the only mistakes I regret are the ones I made because I was too afraid to confront certain situations. That said, I have made two "I was too afraid to confront certain situations" lists, one personal the other business. The ugly stuff on these "to do" lists range from confronting an intractable former business partner about some land we own, to calling the City of Lakeway about a warrant for a speeding ticket. I will spend the remainder of the work week knocking out this list, not everything will be settled this week but at least I'll know where I stand. Idea being, the less crap I have behind me the more effectively I can move foward towards my more critical goals of building. Now let's say you already run a pretty tight ship, and my loser issues are not your issues, fair enough. Just one question, how's the view? So start wading and enjoy!

Monday, July 30, 2007

R134A Redux

Let's try this again what with the video, the freon, the low side and the uploading to the web. Enjoy!

I'd like to extend a special "shout out" to Raymond, Nicaraguan handyman and A/C guy extrordinaire, who originally showed me how to add freon to a cars A/C. Haven't seen Raymond since he tried to make a fast buck by selling 20 Keys of cocaine to a DEA agent back in January, now awaiting trial in Federal lock up. Now that type of behavior in the city is definately a BIG no no. Lesson learned: stick to what you do best and don't get high on your own supply. Thank you very much!

Next up: gather up cash and get healthy, because damn I look puffy in that video.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

R134A and How to Roll Cool in the City

O.K. so as mentioned on the last blog ( You Got A Fast Car.....I Don't ), my intention was to fix the A/C on my 1994 Saturn using R134A freon I bought for 30 bucks at a local auto store and some old fashioned determination. Remember if you have to buy a heap cheap make sure the heap is 1994 or newer, older cars use "old" freon and require a conversion kit and a lot of bother to fix. It can be a bit nerve racking working on a A/C system since it is under high pressure, be sure to read the directions when trying for yourself. The air blows cold now and that is just what I am going to need rolling into the hottest month of the year, August. So witness now my first video blog, with the help of my friend Sarah as camerawoman, this rapidly edited video details some of the issues faced when working on you own car. Roll video...

Ooops due to technical difficulty with blog site, video is not available. Sorry, the above is a clip from the aforementioned video, just close your eyes and imagine me shaking that canister while attached to the A/C, engine running, and the pressure gauge registering "danger". Hope to upload later until then we have got to move on. The weekend is almost upon us and that is a particularly perilous time in the City.

P.S. Working on a car is easy compared to working on video, editing and posting it to the web!

Monday, July 23, 2007

You Got a Fast Car.....I Don't*

This city of Houston is based on the car, they are an essential part of life here. The city lacks any real form of mass transit and any thoughts of walking about in this auto oriented environ are simply insane. That might sound unusual for citizens of other cities around the world where the tube or subway or even decent walking distances are a part of life, but this city grew at a time in history around the car and roads and freeways that populate its landscape. I'm a big proponent of the car as important technology, forget the I Pod, cell phone or your laptop, here the car is the most important piece of technology you can own. They keep you, your friends and family safe, dry and cool in what can easily be described as a most hostile space, a space made of concrete, steal, glass and physics. Physics is in full force and a real danger, if you ever have witnessed a car wreck, you know what two tons of mass couple with velocity can do and more than a few people I know have been involved in some sort of accident with sometimes fatal implications. With that said, in order to get around and do this thing I do, I needed some wheels on the cheap and with few questions asked.

Enter Jim, he owns a baseball school, holds a State of Texas auto dealers license, a shrewd sense of business and was able to score me an auction car and finance it. So for $250 dollars per month, for better or worse, I secured this 1994 Saturn four door.

I've driven some damn good cars in my life, and as anyone who knows me knows, I love a fine automobile, but this is about survival. So frankly, this is without a doubt, the crappiest car I have ever driven, but it has four wheels, new tires, fresh Texas tags,

and brakes that make it stop. Really that is best I can say about it. Well and it has a small 4 cylinder that gets about 24 miles to the gallon, with gas prices at around $3.00 gallon, this is a big plus. The big minus, the Air Conditioning does not work .

It is now late July in Houston and although it has been a mild summer the month of August can be a real scorcher with temperatures easily reaching 100 degrees and heat indexes in the 120's. Navigating this city without airconditioning can be a very real drag both physically and emotionally. Nothing like meeting with prospective investors or bankers or even subs looking like you just ran a marathon. A new A/C compressor or trip to any mechanic in Houston can easily run about 3 to 400 dollars, money I don't have. In desperate need of some cold air I will show you how to quick fix a cars A/C on the cheap.
Tomorrow, I'll show how to fix the A/C for about 30 bucks in about 15 minutes, by adding some freon I bought at the local auto shop. Survival is about trying different things even if they don't work, hopefully this will be the solution I need. So stay tuned and stay hydrated.

*Or ..What I wouldn't do for an S Class Benz

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Survival In An Urban Environment

I find myself here in Houston, Texas the 4th largest city in the United States, it is a sprawling vast urban landscape located some 40 miles from the backwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. I am 43 years old, slightly out of shape and with precious little money. It is summer so the temperature here is hot, the environment humid and place filled with the confounding action you would find in any major city in the world. Cars, traffic and congestion are the rule, life is fast and the people can be crazy. It can be a dangerous place with crime and the social ills of any U.S. city. You have to keep your head up and your eyes on the prize. I intend to show you how to survive in such a place and possibly even flourish.

A word or two about myself are in order, suffice to say I've been in real estate and real estate development for the past 8 years. I've developed and built condos, townhomes and houses through out the inner city and a few in Angleton, Texas. I was born, raised and educated in this city, have experienced the best clubs and social engagements and the lowest dives. After a series of devastating losses I find myself now ready to move forward, but it's going to be a tough go of it. With no steady income and an expertise in a field that can be a rich man's game, I will try to show you and possibly myself how to get ahead in such a place. But I warn you, I'm starting from a point that can best be described as "dead in the water" so it might ( probably will ) get ugly at times. Fear and panic can be mortal enemies in a situation like this, but I've seen more than a few pitches come over the plate so I plan on using my expertise, experience, contacts and intimate knowledge of this city to stay focused and do the one thing I truly love - building.

Along the way a certain cast of characters will come and go, some are social friends, others business related, and some lifelong friends, oh and a few lady friends. Urban survival depends on a complex social networking of all and sometimes can mean the difference between losing or keeping your head about you. Highs and lows are commonplace in a setting like this. Here for example I'm exiting my friend's new Porsche after a robust test drive. My own mode of transportation can only be described as basic, but more about transportation and surviving the city later. All that said, with hard work, a little fun and some luck, I hope to document my attempts at getting back in the game. I invite you to come along, and promise it will not be boring.