Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Making Syrup


 The last two years we have been tapping a few box elder trees in our yard and making syrup.  We just use a couple food grade 5 gallon buckets to collect the sap, with plastic tube connectors as taps.

It is amazing how much fluid moves up and down the tree trunks.  Then we just boil off the liquid in a turkey cooker.  We go through a tank of propane to get a quart of syrup, so not the most cost-efficient way of doing it...  But it is still fun.

Once it is boiled off most of the way, we take it inside and finish it off on the stove-top.  You have to boil the syrup until it boil at 7 deg F above the boiling point of water.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My former place of employ



http://lm-eagan-pictures.blogspot.com/

Thanks Tim for setting up this site and going out and taking pictures.  It was a good place to work and I was sad when it closed.  Seems like such a waste.

I have been at Trane for 4 years now (how is that possible!), the closing didn't really affect me negatively, though you never know.  I do miss my short commute, and working on airplanes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My favorite Power Tool


My Father-in-Law purchased a Ridgid cordless drill and saw combo for me a couple years ago (7 I think) and it has been a great tool.  I have framed walls, build decks and drilled holes for wiring with it.  The battery lasts pretty well and has stood the test of time.

The drill that I have is a NiCad, while the new ones are Lithium Ion.  When you buy them from Home Depot they have a lifetime warranty, which I used to replace a battery.  My Father-in-Law used it to replace the whole drill!

The battery that I received in exchange was a Lithium Ion, so when I called to extend the warranty to it they wouldn't let me.  The lady on the phone told me to go back to the store and return it and get a Ni-cad one instead...  I didn't.  My old charger seems to work with it, though I imagine I might be shortening the life of it.  I am planning on getting a new combo when I find a good sale, because I can still use my old batteries with the new kits.

Ridgid is a bit more expensive, but the quality and warranty make it worth it, I think.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Some minor flooding...


The ice maker in our fridge worked for about 9 months after we bought the house.  At that point the fridge told us to replace the water filter, but there was no way we were going to pay $50 every 6 months.  So we never replaced it and it stopped making ice.

Fast forward to last week and I get the idea to look around for a bypass filter for it.  We have good water, so why do we need a filter anyways.  They are hard to find, especially since the filter basically are referenced by a large string of numbers, and there are many numbers and models.

I found our regular filter on Amazon for $30 (generic replacement I guess), in the comments for the filter, someone had referenced the bypass filter and provided a model number.  I searched for that and found it on Amazon UK, but couldn't order it from there.  Then I found it in the US here.  Ordered it and it came in 2 days.

I installed it and turned on the water.  Some water ran and I thought I would come back to some ice.  No ice...  I pushed the button in the back that is pressed when the ice box is pushed against it, nothing.  Closed it up and went on with my life.

As we are getting ready for bed, I hear Jen calling me down to the kitchen.  There is water dripping out of the freezer.  She opens the freezer (it is a drawer) and water comes pouring out.  The damn thing must have been half full of water.

I pulled the filter out so the water would stop.  Turns out that when I turn the water on, it just drains into the ice bucket.  So...  that will be turned off for awhile.

So needless to say we had fun cleaning that up, hole in the floor to the basement, so a lot of the water drained down there as well.  Luckily the basement isn't finished yet.


Chimney Sweeping

I cleaned out the chimney on the fireplace this fall and had to replace the insulation blanket and baffle board.  I think that I will start cleaning the chimney every other year, because it is pretty hard on the those two part when you take them out.

The blanket was $36, and the baffle board was $120.  They are 5 years old now (wow), so I guess it isn't that surprising.  They do get blasted with a lot of heat for 3-4 (5-6) months of the year...


Quadrafire 7100

Friday, January 31, 2014

"High" Bar in the Basement

The kids love to hand from everything in the house, the fridge, the dishwasher, my leg; so I thought it was time to put something up more appropriate for them.  I bought a 1 inch piece of black iron pipe and mounted it in the little hallway we have in the basement.  Nick is able to grab it without help, but Maddie needs a boost.  I am OK with this, as I can see her dropping on her head.  Nick is bit more cautious.

I think the 1 inch pipe might be a bit too large, I should have gone with a 3/4 inch.  Though a high bar in gymnastics is a bit over an inch.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A simpler time, a more innocent time

Internet not required.

Nick has started to play some games on my Nook tablet, the issue we have run into is often they need to be connected to the internet in order for him to play.  I would rather the wifi be turned off when he is using it (can't buy stuff on accident, in the car, ect).  He has also been playing some of my old NES games on the Wii in our basement.  So there is a perfect intersection, with a few apps he can play old NES, SNES, ect games on the tablet.
The best part is that he can use the Wii Remote to play the games.  In the picture he is actually playing Donald Ducks playground which my family had for the Tandy computer in the late 80's.  He is running the DOS version in DOSBox on the nook, again using the remote.

Pretty nice setup.  Here is the software I am using:
  • Jon NES (there is a lite version)
  • SuperGNES (there is a lite version)
  • DOSBox Turbo
  • Wiimote Controller (looks like it might not be compatable with 4.2+ devices at the moment.  There are a lot of these, so you should be able to find one that works).
DOSBox takes some configuration, so I had to play around with the settings.  Once you figure out the settings you can setup configurations in DOSBox Manager, so your kids can just click and go.  Once you get the emulators you need to find ROMS or DOS programs and get them on the tablet.

Nick likes to talk about how he plays Old School games, it is pretty cute.  He says that when he has kids some day he will have to call them Old Old School games.