Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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.
Unit with both Slide and Negative holders...
...with negatives inserted...
  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  :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

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. 30 minutes later, I could get up and walk, albeit feebly and slowly. They concluded it was "only" a pulled muscle, and nothing spinal like a slip disc. For the next five days, I rested, took pain killers, and tried to walk around as much as possible, just to keep from seizing up. What a week. Even a week later, I'm still on pain meds, and I still move very slowly, with jolts of pain at every wrong twist or turn.
Getting back to my original point, what good is emergency food and supplies when you find yourself in a situation that you can't move ?? This is surely a weak link in any preparedness plan. I will say first though, that the injury was a little self-inflicted. I was stacking firewood, hurt my back, ignored the warnings and pain, and kept on working. So the first lesson I guess is to listen to your pain. Had I stopped at the first warning sign it might not have been so bad. That aside, I need to address a couple of things. First, I don't exercise enough, Second, I don't exercise enough. I sit at a desk for most of the day. Somehow, I have to muster the discipline to be more active; especially with winter coming on and the tendency to be even more sedentary. Let's see how it goes...

Monday, October 4, 2010

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 generator can both charge the batteries, and run the freezer. With this setup, I should be able to at the very least run the fridge and freezer in an intermittent manner enough to keep things from spoiling. The bonus with this type of approach is that the components are both cheap and multipurpose. The generator is very portable and the batteries, inverter, and solar panels can be used for camping and other transportable power needs. Overall, it's a more flexible solution.
The little 800 or so watt Chinese import generator is amazingly inexpensive. For my American friends, Harbor Freight has them for $149 but on sale right now for $79 or so. I've seen this same generator sold under a bunch of different Brand-names such as King Canada, Power-Fist at places like Princess Auto, Canadian Tire, Walmart etc. Read more about these little gems HERE
Other requirement of course include light and cooking, and my collection of Coleman stoves and lanterns are up to the challenge. It's better to have and not need than to need and not have...

Trailer Trash

With a 16 foot camper, space is always at a premium and it takes effort to "travel light" as it were. Sometimes, it's nice to ...

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