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A Keurig Khristmas

This year we flirted with disaster and decided to mess with one of the most sacred and coveted processes; the making of the mighty cup of COFFEE. It began with an instant double volley. Debbie bought me a Keurig Mini B30 one cupper, and I got her the larger B60 model. Dualing Christmas presents if you will. I was skeptical, since we're both sort of Coffee-Snobs. While we don't (yet) roast our own, but we DO grind our own beans. The price of the individual K-cups is not cheap, but there are deals to be had, and the clincher for me was when I discovered the My K-Cup reusable filter, meaning no more total reliance on those oft-pricey K-Cups. It's only been 5 days so I'm not sure if it's a novelty thing, but we sure love these things. I had both coffee and English Breakfast tea this morning. Yes there are Tea K-Cups, as well as Cocoa / Hot Chocolate. The cost is in the 40 cents per cup range; not cheap but with our regular pot, I notice we throw lots of coffee down the…

Banjo Dad :)

This is kind of neat; I found an old Diploma that my Father got in 1935...in Tenor Banjo no less...
(click on the picture for a larger version) I wondered how he came across such an institution, and a Google search turned up the following ad from a 1926 Popular Mechanics magazine..I'm thinking this is where he found it, as Popular Mechanics was the 2nd gospel in our home :) apparently the Siegel-Myers School of Music in Chicago was quite the place...

Another sign of winter

The Grand Vitara now has some new slippers. 4 new GT Champiro ICEPRO SUV winter tires on "Genuine" Suzuki steel rims. I tried to re-use the winter alloys from the old SX4, but the mechanic said they rubbed on the brake caliper. Always fun going from 17" to 16" wheels. I guess they will go to Kijiji in an effort to minimize the financial bleed. I haven't seen Debbie since  :)

Kijiji "Find" :)

I've long wanted some sort of camping "chuck-box" or portable kitchen thingy. I just got one on Kijiji for $20. It's pretty heavy and robust. The 3 covers flip out and transform into shelves, while the front side folds down to become a stove shelf. It should make a nice base-camp kitchen unit. The legs are removable. I thought it was a bit heavy but when I got it home I discovered some bonuses inside; a 3 burner propane stove, a propane lantern with a plastic case, an aluminum griddle, and 2 containers of propane. All for a measly 20 bucks !!

The Woodstove Season Cometh...

Well I couldn't resist any longer. I had to get a wood fire going on this cold and damp Saturday. I had to take my old Vermont Castings Resolute out of service. It has a couple of cracks in the rear and left side refractories, and it's prone to over-firing. I took the opportunity to flirt with a little EPA approved number from Canadian Tire. It's made by Drolet, and the model is "PyroPak". It has some secondary combustion features, and claims to be 83% efficient. That's a number I'm highly suspicious of, but it was on sale for $100 off ($499). These EPA stoves claim to burn 25% less wood, we'll see :) So far, I'm pleased, except that the firebox is small, so I don't think it will last through the night. That means I'll be cutting much more kindling, or "splits" if you will. That's a trade-off I decided to live with, since most larger stoves produce too much heat. The large window in the door provides mucho ambiance, and the a…

Remembrance Day 2010

Today, I whisper a prayer for anyone who has suffered because of war, especially the wounded, widows, and orphans. I pray for your continued strength to carry on day after day... My Father fought in World War II, in the 59th Royal Newfoundland Artillery Regiment More Here...

Oh Oh Oh O-O-h-h, Little China Stove

Apologies to David Bowie notwithstanding, I recently added an interesting multi-fuel camp stove to my collection. Normally, these remote fuel bottle stoves go for about $150 at reputable outdoor vultures stores. After reading lots on these Chinese knockoffs, I had to have one. Got it on Ebay for $29, but the total was closer to $60 by the time I had it in my grimy paws. First, a couple of photos: The orange fuel bottle will take white gas, car gas, kerosene, etc and will burn with varying degrees of success. The first drawback is the horrific blasting noise the thing makes. Look at this video to see/hear what I mean:
One of it's strong points is in the choice of fuel. If none of the liquid varieties suits your fancy, it easily attaches to most of those overpriced iso-butane canisters: I don't like the above canisters, but only because of their cost. The tightwad in me prefers the cheap "4 for $10 butane cans from Home Hardware". With an appropriate adapter they can be u…

Cheap Slide Scanner

Like many photo-geeks from the seventies and eighties, I probably have a couple thousand 35mm slides. As time passes of course, they get scratched, fade etc. Scanning them is often an expensive and tedious process. The required resolution makes the process slow. However, if you only need "Facebook" or Web-quality images, there's a cheap and quick way; The Optex Scanner is not really a scanner at all, but rather it's a 5 megapixel digital camera that takes pictures of slides. Knowing its limitations, I bought one anyway. Adding to the decision was the fact that it was half-price, $59.99 instead of $119.98. It also "scans" negatives, but I have yet to try that.
  This thing is fast too. In about a minute, I can have three slides transferred to the computer. A couple of examples below, with more HERE and HERE. This thing gets poor reviews, but I love it. It's not a thousand dollar scanner...you get what you pay for  :)

Personal Physical Preparedness ???

Overlooking the obvious is of course, one of my stronger traits. While I like to be somewhat "prepared" I seem to have overlooked an important area; Personal Physical Preparedness. Case in point: a little over a week ago I hurt my back. That's nothing new, for I usually do that two or three times a year. This time, however, was much more severe. I spent 2 days in bed and I was completely helpless. The pain was too severe for me to stand on my two feet. When it was determined that things were getting worse and not better, our options were few. We called the Doctor, and called the 811 medical help line. In a short time, three paramedics were standing in my bedroom. If not for the pain, it would have been humorous. They managed to get me into a chair and down the front steps onto the street. Then they transferred my carcass to a stretcher, and took me to Emergency. After an hour or so, examinations etc I was given three needles. One in each arm, and one in the old caboose. …

Power Outage Prepraredness

Being ready for a power outage is of course, a timely consideration given hurricane season, ice storms etc. However, common sense must prevail, and "readiness"  needs to be relative to your specific location. For example, in 21 years, we have only seen one "significant" power outage. That was in 2003 when Hurricane Juan came ashore. I know people who have "whole house" generator setups with automatic circuit switching, but all of this is expensive overkill from my point of view, especially when it will hardly get used. Why? First of all, I have a wood stove and a pellet basket so with a supply of wood and/or pellets, I have emergency heat. My only other real requirement is electricity for a deep freeze and possibly a fridge. To do this, I rely on a 3-pronged approach. First, I have a couple of good deep cycle batteries and an inverter that will run our freezer. Secondly, I have a small solar panel array tho help charge the batteries. Finally, my small gen…

Why "Prone To Wander" ?

I have been asked about the significance of the phrase "Prone To Wander".  In my ignorance, I guess I thought most folk would know that it comes from the words of the hymn "Come thou fount of every blessing". One particular verse is my favorite:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above. It was written by Robert Robinson in 1757, and is a handy reminder to me of how hopeless and lost I am without God's goodness and accompanying "binding", for I fear I have nothing good of my own to offer...

More Alcohol Stove Fun...

I did a little more playing around with this. The stove I put together had 8 little Jets or Holes (see previous post). I punched another 8 in between for a total of 16. As expected, the heat output is dramatically increased, but the burn time is much less. Here's the thing though, for about $4, you can go to Canadian Tire and pick up a 6-pack of 5oz bottles of alcohol-based gas line antifreeze, and make a couple of different sized stoves for nothing. Then, during a power outage you will have the wherewithal to boil water for tea or coffee, or do a little cooking or heating of food. A disclaimer though; The anti-freeze is a bit nasty and poisonous so watch what you're doing... A slightly safer option might be the bottles of blue cheap fondue fuel from the Dollar Store. My next step is to make a bigger stove from larger diameter cans...I think my Pyromania is no longer in remission...mooo..ha..ha !!!

Pop Can Alcohol Stove

Youtube is replete with plans for these alcohol burning mini camping or emergency stoves. Given my interest in stoves, not to mention other gadgetry, I decided to have a look into this intriguing area. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I just made a very basic one, using the bottom inch or so of 2 Pepsi cans. For the "alcohol", I used gas line antifreeze. As a fuel, alcohol is relatively safe as it's not too volatile. However, once you heat it a bit and get it to vaporize, it burns with a roar not unlike that of a Coleman stove. I think I'll make a more deluxe model later.
This was just a quick conceptual test, but I'm going to make a better one...more to come :)

Fall: Summer's Cooler Cousin

It's likely a sign of my age, but I seemingly blinked, and there the summer was...Gone! The boys are back in school, Hockey is starting up, with a 5-0 loss by the Leafs, but I digress, Debbie is calling for the furnace to be doing its thing (rats), and I'm thinking of firewood, migrating the freezables from garage to basement, winter tires, snow shovels, Christmas presents. Where does the time go? I must remember to live in the sweet here and now, for this great season is flying by too. This is a great time for walking, and even camping. I must get another night or two in. The chill is the only thing to contend with. There's no bugs, no suffering heat. Bring it on...

Emergency Heater

With winter fast approaching, I often marvel at the chances we all take. Have you ever went somewhere in your vehicle for example and not bothered to even take a coat? Heated seats notwithstanding, you could easily break down, skid off the road, or otherwise get sidelined and literally freeze to death. That would be sad and stupid. See the following video, outlining the construction of a "heater" that consists of a roll of toilet paper stuffed inside a quart paint can. The can is then filled with isopropyl alcohol. Take a look:

Overnight Canoe Trip...yes.

Just returned from an overnight canoe jaunt. "Portage" is not my favorite word, but a nice time anyway... More Pics Here...



New Wheels "again"...

With the write-off of the SX4, we needed new a new reliable drive. After some window shopping, and pondering of new, used, buy, lease etc we went for a 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara; a big brother to the SX4, and in the same color. Hopefully, the cement trucks will stay away from this one :)

Hurricane Earl: "Here's lookin' up your old address !!!