Thursday, February 7, 2019

Chasing Electrons

Sunday around our home is a day for coffee, contemplation and chores. I often take the time to make breakfast for the family on the weekends as our weekday mornings are slightly chaotic.  On this Sunday morning, I finished loading the ultimate time saver of the kitchen, the dishwasher.  All dishware were arranged for maximum coverage, plates in a row, glasses in a line. With a flourish of fancy footwork, because I’m too lazy to bend down, I close the door with my foot and press START. And nothing happens.  We have lived here at our “new” house for about two years. I immediately break into problem-solving mode. Is it the knob, the latch switch? No, it’s the breaker, right? The breaker is fine.  Ok, flip it anyway, maybe the cycle will correct the issue.  Obviously, from the length of this, this was not the issue.  Let us return to the kitchen.  Here is the setup.


Under the sink is one plug, one plug to rule them all.  Well, not all, but rule the dishwasher and garbage disposal.  Each is plugged in.  And yes, I did jiggle it.  Every man knows to jiggle it, this was not lost on me.  I’m no amateur. Ok, so the plug looks good.  I flip the switch above to turn on the garbage disposal. Success, that has power.  So the top plug is wired to the switch for the disposal, so that good.  But the bottom plug is dead.  Alright, time to pull out a voltmeter and pretend I know what I'm doing. I have no idea what most of those symbols mean or do, but I was smart enough to mark the ones I need for checking home connections. Permanent markers are lifesavers.  Confirmed: hot top, dead bottom. Now we are getting somewhere. Ok, so because this plug is on a 2 pole single breaker, maybe the breaker is bad.  This means that there are two “hot” coming to one plug, one to the top, one to the bottom, but the bottom is dead.  I check the breaker again.  Maybe the breaker is bad?  Maybe the plug is bad?


At this point, I’m beyond what I think I know.  And because Nikola Tesla is dead, I called the next best person, my dad.  We work the problem like two old men, telling stories and gripes about incorrect installation.  I’m in over an hour deep checking every connection.  At this point, I’ve decided the house is haunted and I’m being screwed with by a specter laughing their ass off.  The conclusion is that the installer must have ran out of wire and added an extension.  The connection must somehow have come loose and I will need to search through all the boxes and switches to find this installer shoddy work.  The quick fix is simply to remove this dead wire from the breaker and the outlet so that I’m not waking up at 3 a.m. thinking I smell smoke.  I can use the good plug for the dishwasher instead of the garbage disposal.  I’ll just have to keep the switch turned on.


And then a moment of clarity.  The switch.  Maybe the extended wire is in the box with the switch.  I can’t recall whether it was me or my father that came up with this because I was in awe of light from heaven shining down, illuminating the solution the problem that has caused me this headache. I unscrew the cover, pop it off and start looking behind the three switches. Three switches?  Three. Switches.  And like Rick James on cocaine, SLAP. It all came to me in a flood of early morning memories pulled from a sleepy brain. My father-in-law had been visiting.  I distinctly heard him turn on the garbage disposal in the wee-hours by accident. Three. Switches. I rarely use one of them, much less three. I relayed this new information to my father, who like me, was surprised to find that the dishwasher plug was also controlled by a switch.  The third switch. So after hooking everything back up, for the hundredth time. I flip the switch.  It didn’t work….I’m kidding, of course it worked.  It was on a damn switch the whole time, and it happened to have been turned off.  A damn switch. That never crossed my mind.  I thanked my father and we had a chuckle.  For a split second, I wanted to murder my father-in-law, but he was at no fault.  I put everything back in order.  All was right in the world.  All that running around to figure out it was a switch, but I solved it.  At least I could walk away knowing that I solved the problem and I was aware that the dishwasher was on a switch.


Later that day, I told my wife what had happened.  Her reply “Yeah, we figured that out when we first moved, because we couldn’t get it to start. Why didn’t you ask?”.  Wait, what? We did.  I really feel like she figured this oddity out on her own and it was never relayed to me.  It probably was, but I somehow forgot it in the chaos of moving in.  So in short, always ask your wife about the electrical problems first, she might know something you don’t. And when in doubt, try the switches.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Indoor IS Over -This Year

This is my second year to participate in SYWAT (Shoot Your Way Across Texas).  What a ride. Mentally that is.  In archery, there are many critical steps to release the energy in a drawn bow to the arrow and get it to strike where you intend.  Overthinking or not thinking enough, can make the difference between a score of 5 or 0.  Archery is as much as a mental sport as it is a physical sport.  My weakness this year was my release, which is letting go of the string correctly. I see that I have improved, but there is room for more improvement.  

Though there is stress in any tournament, I enjoy the competition.  Competition for me really helps me gauge my skill level and where I am mentally. And I've realized this year the effect you can have on other persons mental state.  There is a gentleman that is an excellent shooter that has given me both solicited and unsolicited advice/criticism.  If I shoot next to him, I tend to have a lower score.  I feel like he is critiquing me. In all actuality, he isn't.  He has his own arrows to deal with.  So never tell an archer what they are doing wrong during a tournament, it could totally screw up their game.  There is a correct way to help them and an incorrect.  If you don't know which is which, it's better left unsaid.

I would always recommend going and shooting an archery tourney, even if you are a novice.  It's a great chance to meet other archers and to see many different styles of shooting. I've made some great contacts with people I would have never met otherwise.  Even though archery tends towards an individual sport, there is still the group mentality that it is "Us" learning the bow together. 

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Friday, January 25, 2019

What happened to 2018?

So I failed at really putting anything out there in 2018.  I'm really going to try and get more out for 2019, as I have so many things I want to do and discuss.  I did actually get out quite a bit last year and completed many projects, but I didn't have the time to compile the process.  I might be able to revisit those soon and get those posted.

I'll also be looking to update the page and how it looks.  I'm really wanting a basic site without all the frills.  And without a lot of BS filler, like a lot of recipe sites.  I'm sure your trip to where ever was great, but I'm just looking for a pasta recipe.  So hopefully that will come in the future.

So be on the lookout, I'll be here more often!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shine Hai Water Straw

Camping is one of my favorite activities and when I go out, I love to test out my skills and new gadgets.  In the past, I've relied on tablets for water purification.  And to be honest, I've never really had to fall back on those as I usually can carry enough water for every trip.  I take pride in being able to budget water, but it's important to have a fall back just in case.  Because, ya know....Zombie Apocalypse.

Anyway, I was able to try a Christmas give from a colleague of mine and fellow zombie prepper, Steve.  I guess he wants to keep me around.  I received a Shine Hai Water Straw.  I've never heard of this brand, but many companies have produced their own version of the Life Straw.  The filter technology has gotten much cheaper, as most of these types of filters retail around $20.

Shine Hai Life Straw
Weight (oz) 3 2
Micron Filter 0.01 0.01
Particle Removal 99.99% of Protozoa
99.99% of Bacteria
99.99% of Protozoa
99.99% of Bacteria
Virus removal X X
Chemical/Heavy Metal Removal X X
Filter uses (Liters) 1000 1000-4000

The Shine Hai is comparable to the Life Straw, though Life Straw has a host of other options available. A few of those will filter viruses and chemicals.

As far as testing and reviewing, there isn't much difference.  You can see the Water Straw in the video below.  It has the same features of a Life Straw, being able to be used directly by sticking it in a water source and attaching to a screw top bottle.  The one area I had an issue with was the seal on the screw top.  During the use of the Water Straw, unfiltered water began to leak out of the screw top.  It was a bit concerning. If a seal there was not fitted properly, what might be wrong with the filter inside. But here I am a week later, no problem.  Plus, I could see that it was at least clarifying the water.  That is not in any way an accurate way to test water.

While I don't have a problem using this in the future, if you have concerns there are plenty of other brands out there at reasonable prices. I highly recommend having one of these around because they are very convenient.  Great for backpacking when you are trying to cut weight.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Happy New Year - It's Diet Time Again

At least, that is what most people decide to do every year.  I can count myself as one of those this year. But really what is the goal with a diet?  It's to lose weight right....that's the right answer isn't it.  Ah, there is the word "goal".  What is the true goal?  Well for me it's to get back into shape and give Chris Pratt a run for his money! Just kidding, good for that guy.

The talk I hear most often this time of year is to lose weight by going on a diet, usually some fad diet.  But then what?  Go back to eating the way you used to eat?  That's a terrible cycle.  For me and many others, it's about a lifestyle change, which can be difficult.  Not only for yourself but for your family.  I have to eat entirely differently than my family.  They need all the carbs they can get, not so much for me.  I wish I could really eat like a hobbit. Second Breakfast, elevensies.

For the past year, I've sporadically worked on a moderate/lax ketogenic diet/lifestyle.  I'll be getting back to that as well as looking at intermediate fasting.  What are these two things?  Well, in a nutshell, ketogenic is switching your main energy source from carbs to fats.  Now whether this is sustainable/good for you over the long run (decades) is still up for debate.  However, there are many great studies showing its short-term benefit.  Really the ketogenic diet cuts carbs, mainly sugars, which are everywhere. It also focuses on eating lots of good fats, very much like the Mediterranean Diet.  Actually, its a lot like the Mediterranean Diet.

Intermediate fasting is actually a normal time frame of eating with a fancy name.  Try this: At what time do you eat breakfast?  Now at what time do you take in your last calorie, be it food or drink?  I checked mine, it was 6:30am (Breakfast) and 9:00pm (Beer).  That's about 14 hrs out of 24 that I'm feeding my body.  It's really crazy how long we eat.  Our normal work days have screwed up sleep patterns as well as our eating.   I'm working on cutting that window down to 10hrs and then 8hrs and then back to 10 for the long term.

Of course, I'll also be doing some type of exercise.  Anything at this point can only help.  At the end of the day it all boils down to one simple formula:  Calories In < Calories Out.  I mean don't just drink juice all day.  The quality of food you take in is important as well. And just flat out not eating is also not great for your body.

If you are planning your diet, I urge you to really take time to look at your goals and which options there are out there with good studies to back them up.  There is a lot of crap out there too.  It's easy to want to take a pill and it fix everything.  I hate to tell you, but many of those simply do not work and have no evidence to support their claims.  I urge you to check out as a source for what work has been done on supplements.  If no studies have been done, well then there is no evidence for or against it.  Now it's your call.

I wish everyone luck on your New Years Goals.  How you decided to get there is up to you, but just make sure that it something you can stick with over time.
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My First Tablesaw

Being aware of the dangers of a table saw are extremely important.  In this video, I ramble about things I checked on my saw before getting started.
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Radio Flyer Wagon Wheel Upgrade

This project began with me stating "I'll be damned if I pay $25 per wheel for an upgrade from Radio Flyer!".

And down the rabbit hole I went!

Materials Needed/Used:

  • Beer
  • Mallet
  • 10 inch pneumatic tires 
  • WD-40
  • More Beer
  • 5/8 (Outer Diameter) 7/16 (Inner Diameter) Vinyl tubing 
  • 7/16 Push Nuts
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Razor blade
  • 1/2 inch PVC

The short of it: Remove old tires, use the vinyl tubing as a spacer to fit the 10 tires onto a 7/16 axle.

The Breakdown:

Removing the old tires is easy.  You can break the push nuts off or save them by twisting them as if you are unscrewing them.  Saving them could save you the time of locating new ones and it one less thing to track down.

Old & new Push Nut

~1/2 inch space where old spacer attached

Spacer & Tire removed from back

Once they are off you can start dealing with the mispaired axle size and tire bore.  Although on the Radio Flyer website they are listed as 1/2 inch axles for this model, they are not 1/2 inch but 7/16.  If you then measure most tire bores, you will discover they are generally 5/8.  And if you are really good at math, you might realize 5/8 is not the same as 7/16.  Kudos.

Axle size

Rear Axle

I tried searching for spacers, and failed.  The best I could find was some vinyl tubing with the correct inner and outer sizes.  However, I knew it would be a tight fit it I got the exact size.   A smaller size might work as well and be easier. Hindsight right.

After some amazing calculations and beers, I arrived at the spacer sizes I need to keep the new larger wheels from rubbing.  I came up with PVC spacers the measured 3/4 inch for the back axle and 3/8 for the front axle.  There is room for error and room for play, but mileage may vary.

This next part requires equal parts WD-40 and Beer.  Getting the vinyl spacer into wheel bore and then onto the axle.  I cut vinyl tubing to about 2 5/8 inches.  In order to make this tight squeeze a little easier, I beveled the inside and outside of the tubing, and then sprayed everything with WD-40.  Be sure to place your 3/4 PVC spaces on the axles first before getting the tire on.  The WD-40 made it easier to slide the tubing into the wheel bore, and then by spraying the axle, it helped to slide the tire+tubing.
Inserting tubing first

3/4 PVC spacer with ~2 5/8 rear axle

Rear axle with tubing and spacer

Rear axle vinyl tubing removed

While the back tires when on like a prophylactic in Amsterdam, the front was not as easy.  First, this model of Radio Flyer has the two independent front axles.  So you will have to either use something to brace it, or build a wedge to keep it from spinning,  I went the hard route and just held it with my hands.  Again, make sure you put on the 3/8 PVC spacers first.  Secondly, there is not alot of play room on this axle and it has a flare that held a washer in place for the other wheels.  It took a little work but I was able to get enough of the wheel on with enough tubing.
Front Axle with Flare

One tire on front axle 
Front axle with tubing

It is worth mentioning, that is you use this method, you may not need the 3/8 PVC spaces on the front.  The fit is fairly tight.

Now, to make it nice an trim, take a razor blade and carefully trim off any excess vinyl tubing.  Do be cautious on this step as you are cutting in an unusual position.

Now place you push nuts back on and you are ready to cruise!

Be Aware:  These tires work great off-road.  I'm not going back.  However, if you mainly use your wagon on the street, be warned.  On the street, I've noticed that the front axles will get into a tug of war and cause a synced wobble. Not sure it has to do more with alignment, or just the fact that the front are free.  Sticking a child in the front may put enough weight down to fix the issue.

And that's it. Not too bad for an off-road wagon.  If all else fails, you can always put back on the old wheels.  Good luck out there, and if you have any tips to share, be sure to leave them in the comments.  Thanks again!

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