Archive | Recommendations

where’d it all go?

Every year I look at the things I bought, most of them were just to make myself happy.  Sometimes they were to replace things that I couldn’t live without, a lot of them were to fix or create other things. Since I buy very few actually NEW things, and almost always from Amazon or Ebay,  it is easy to see what I bought.  Everything else I acquire is from thrift shops or rarely Craigslist. Surprisingly this year, a lot of things I purchased were ones I really didn’t need but thought I did at the time. I also bought a lot of ‘just in case’ things which I apparently don’t need either.  Yeah this was a bad year in comparison to other years, I mostly blame the very bad job that I had, I was spending the extra pay wastefully, probably just to keep from killing people at work. I also took up backpacking\hiking and bought a ‘new’ car which led me down a path to acquire appropriate accessories.

I kept trying used hiking clothing made of all the new and improved fabrics for hiking clothing and finally threw in the towel and redonated the entire lot. I just can’t wear anything made of polyester next to my skin. I bit the bullet and bought a merino t-shirt (although I found a $50 shirt for $20!) I can’t wear it in summer as they claim, but it’s fine for the rest of the year. I will usually only buy clothes on ebay after I have failed to find something I really want in thrift shops. At $50 this Aran Merino hoodie was probably the most expensive item of clothing I bought this year, I also picked up some merino lounge pants and a lightweight merino hoodie at $20 each, both needing light repairs – I write all the woolen purchases off as ‘heating’ expenses. I didn’t buy as MUCH yarn this year as other years, though I did stop knitting in the summer when the weather got sticky. I am going to TRY to use up the yarn cache under the bed, including sweaters I bought specifically to unravel for their yarn.  I wasted at least $60 buying ‘hiking’ socks which I loathe, so I finally mastered knitting my own socks. I may have to add to my needle collection next year, and move onto other things.

This year I replaced the Microwave, the Tea kettle, my watch and finally the Bluray player which had died over a year ago, it was either replace it or sell the last of the bluray discs. On the bright side I have sold off so much of my media collection I am down to just the stuff I really love. I did end up rebuying a few discs I had already sold off.  But I rarely buy them new unless they are as cheap as used.

After going 5 days without power I FINALLY ordered the Mr Heater, which had been sitting on my wishlist for like 3 years. It would have been $20 cheaper if I had picked it up in summer, but I was playing chicken with the climate. Hopefully I won’t actually NEED to unbox it . . . ever. I also picked up a butane stove which I am using regularly instead of the hotplate. It takes way less energy and fits nicely in the cupboard. 

From Craigslist I picked up a dehydrator for less than half price, I was getting a little sick of throwing squash into the compost pile because I wasn’t eating it fast enough. It is also one of those things that if I don’t use it next year I can resell it. I also aquired a couple of roof storage boxes for $25 each for my car, (I miss my truck) I know I only need ONE, but I am hoping to sell one in the spring and cover the cost of both. I also got a kiddie bike trailer for $20 with the intention of taking the dog for a long bike ride… when I am in physical condition for a long bike ride. And I bought a bike rack for the back of the car which I bought new because it was as cheap as used. I STILL need to get a roof rack if I ever want to use the $$$ canoe which is still hanging from the ceiling, although I have seen people simply padding the roof with pool noodles.

The Subaru Forester was probably the biggest expense of the year, though selling the truck covered the actual cost. It does free us up to go traveling, we managed to hike a lot of different places this year. I have intentions of doing a bit of camping or at least CAR camping so I can see the rest of the state. Her K9-SportSak was probably the most used purchase this year..and one of the most expensive at $79, well worth every penny. I did drop a significant amount on a Ultra lightweight backpack that I had my heart set on, though I did some horse trading to get it paid for; it should last me a good long while.

I was a little aghast at the volume of small bits of crap I bought  off ebay this year, I really need to stop doing that. I only bought a handful of physical books to add to the book case (we won’t discuss my audiobook addiction today) I try to keep even those purchases within reason. I did treat myself to a $100 set of Signed James Morrow books, which I see as more of an investment . . . albeit one that brings me joy.

green intentions

photo (2)It’s that time of year when an old woman’s fancy turns to garden planning. Whenever the snow melts down far enough, I start visualizing where I want raised beds, and which shrubs i need to kill, and where I need to undo the things the previous owner had done, which at the time I paid for the house I had found charming, and now I find an inconvenience.  At the last House I had given up gardening about 15 years ago, I was sick of defending my little patch of green from the lawnmower men and my brother. Obviously HERE I can do what I want, where I want. If i want to rip out all the shrubs that annoy me I can. if I want to replace every blade of grass with something i don’t have to mow every weekend, I can do that too.

In essence I have planned to squeeze in as many raised beds as I can fit in any place that gets sun, which amounts to a straight 60 foot strip down the left side of the house.  The patio bricks will come up and find their way around to the back of the house where If I wanted to sit outside I could.  What I envision is a strip of raise beds, with less obnoxious shrubs on the fence side and a paving stone walk to the back door, curving away from the house on the right.

But when I think about 60feet of wood for those beds along with all that dirt not to mention seeds and such, i got very depressed.  If i built the beds properly from pressure treated 2x10s lined with tyvek sure they will last 10-12 years…but that’s a very expensive way to go.  But you can build anything you need out of pallets if you just think about it long enough. I figure just start building the beds….and down the road you can upgrade them as need be.

On Friday, the opportunity arose: someone downtown had free pallets on Craigslist, and it was warm clear weather and I was feeling rather ambitious.  The benefits of owning a pickup truck, you can collect up anything you want whenever you want without having to make arrangements. What I did learn from having the 1st three pickup trucks, is that you have to REALLY WANT whatever it is you are picking up, or at least have plans to get rid of it if you don’t want it. Because it is so sinfully easy to just cart home everything you see, and this way madness lies….So after two trips, the pallets are now parked in my front yard.   I have intentions of moving them around to the back, i just have to decide where.  And if I wait long enough they will freeze in place and I won’t have to decide until mud season.

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I think we all know that FREE doesn’t always mean FREE. It means free with a price you pay on the back end. Many years ago I spent an entire summer disassembling FREE pallets. BTW the BEST free pallets and wooden crates are behind the places that get windshields. And I wish I knew then what I know now. The fastest way to break down a pallet is to use a reciprocating saw and slice through all the nails. Here is a video. It also looks to be the best method to get the wood to stay intact. Now I am not the twenty something I was when i broke down the largest crates with the the longest nails, so just for giggles I checked out reciprocating saws and like everything else they are expensive. HOWEVER I did get an idea, and I found a listing for a..used, saw only, no battery, no charger,  for $54 no shipping. SUCH A DEAL, I one-clicked that puppy immediately. CAUSE I HAVE a couple of 18v batteries and a charger that I got in the Pawn shop before I moved, when I bought the circular saw and the power drill. …yes I am feeling smug, that is working out to be a good decision.

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IN MY MIND’S eye, I see the pallet wood being immensely useful. After I break them down into lengths I can design raised beds that fit the wood I have at hand. Though I think i need a few more larger heavier pallets if I can find them. I get the feeling my neighbors are going to be very unhappy with me for a while this spring.

preppy bargains

2015-01-02 18.17.22 I have been into fixing things since i got here.  It started with one of my rules, when i was packing I did bring some things which needed a bit of work, and some things that were down right broke. But they were things on my list of ‘things i intend to fix.’ Well one of the new rules is to fix things or get rid of them, there is no in between…there can’t be, there’s no room for anything to sit and wait for me.   The lantern was not one of those, it was actually something new off ebay that i bought already broken with the intentions of fixing it.  The currently manufactured version of this folding lantern sells for $40 and I am too cheap to pay for something like that, so i found this 1970s japanese knock off on ebay for $10,  though its mica windows were all broken.   So I bought replacement MICA cut to size for about $10 from the UK and bobs your uncle. i confess I don’t really need a folding candle lantern, i have plenty of the non folding sort on the porch and a number of battery powered lamps and flashlights.  I just liked the idea of rescuing this one, i felt a little smug, melting off all the old paraffin candle wax with boiling water and taking knife to it to make room for the new windows.  Now it’s fixed with a beeswax candle dancing about in it. Technically I could put it back on ebay, but I don’t want to. I’d rather have the one I fixed than one didn’t have to fix.2014-11-27 10.55.38

Over Thanksgiving we lost power for about 19 hours…i know it’s rather a first world problem. We had a storm that knocked out a power in lots of  pocket neighborhoods.  Everyone I had previously asked about it,  had sworn up and down to expect to lose power for only a few hours and that only rarely…yeah…i know and I believed it too. Over 19 hours the house, the two thousand dollars I spent on insulation proved itself, as the house only lost 10 degrees.  The cats didn’t seem to mind and I dealt with it by burrowing under a blanket fort. But after shoveling myself and a couple of the walks of  the neighbor ladies who had sensibly packed off for warmer houses, all I really wanted was a cup of tea.   I really had no way to make FIRE, which was pretty sad state for a human. Actually that’s not true, I had plenty of candles and matches and batteries, I just couldn’t make TEA which was profoundly sad. So I cobbled together something using a silverware drainer,a pie plate and a candle, which warmed up my travel mug.  So tea was eventually had. (i drove down the road to Dunkin donuts and bought it first, then just kept it warm.)

2014-12-01 13.03.13The first thing i ordered once I the internet came back was a tiny camp stove $20, though it doesn’t really boil anything  it just seems to make tea, thus insuring i probably wont’ need to it this winter. Knock wood.

Another thing I bagged over the holiday was a pretty decent Leatherman while at the pawn shop trolling for a birthday present for myself.   The Wave model of the leatherman usually sells for about $80, and though i have an old micro on my keychain which i use for cutting the tags off things, i never could justify buying what amounts to a Swiss Army knife with a pair of pliers –  both of which I already have.   But this little dear was sitting in the case marked at $34 and was so stiff and dirty they sold it to me for $25.  after about 45 minutes of boiling water,  cleaning and lubrication I had it opening like a whirlygig.  I admit I bought a new sheath for it $7 and replacement drill bits $9. But I think I still made out like a bandit.  It’s always nice to have the right tool handy when it comes to fixing things. 2014-12-17 06.38.42

While working at the Portland gear hub I bought another backpack $20 for a nearly new old Kelty …. not that i needed another one, but this one i packed as a Get Home Bag for the truck. Mittens, hat, scarf, socks, radio, first aid, etc.. a bag just to sit in the truck, in case I end up in a snow bank some place. Not very likely considering I have developed a serious aversion to driving DURING active snow storms… maybe its age, maybe its fear, maybe i’m just a coward. But its Maine and unlike most of the places in Mass I could indeed find myself not within walking distance of anything very easily. So it doesn’t hurt just to keep it handy just in case.  I also found a second hand walking stick there, but that’s another story.

erasergirl rides again

I am still pretty busy in a good way, and i am not sure if that’s just the universe being nice to me, or is just what’s going on  inside my head. The wordpress plugin i bought to sync the woocommerce orders and inventory with quickbooks on my PC took at least 4 days for ME to configure. To be fair the support guys for the app, did all the work, i just whined and sent them screen grabs of what i broke and they told me what i did wrong. Mostly it was the mapping of the inventory from online to quickbooks….all the products had different skus and variations had to be tweaked to be their own products etc… it was tedious and still not done. But the big picture is that i am getting more adept at quickbooks that i have ever been in the last 10 years. There’s still vast chasms of it, that i have never even tried to understand and have always felt that i should. In the same way you know that if your pantry was labeled and organized your life would be a thousand percent better. But I figure i will figure it out when i get around to it.

So when i got sick of massaging the database and trying to get all of last years orders into quickbooks, I set up a little experiment I have been thinking about. I was wondering how the task of actually erasing could be filmed in an interesting way. Since all my digital cameras are in various states of disrepair I had to use the Iphone which does have a pretty decent camera if you can work the logistics. Using the cellpone tripod adapter i bought ages and and never used, and the gorilla pod i bought years ago and never used, i jerry-rigged a little workspace to shoot this video. Mind you I did have to flip the film 180 degrees, so it looks a little wonky.

Ideally i would like to go back to doing demonstration videos. In a new location, i will set up a camera and lighting in a permanent cat free spot.

here’s a very short section where i refresh the eraser edges so i can keep using it without smudging.  (Youtube is supposed to be adding music to it…but it’s slow)

On the sunnyside (revised)

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One of the things I have planned to do…to exploit my new found love of alterative energy, is build it a small web presence.

A simple site, with a page about the installation process, diagrams about how the solar cells and battery are connected.

killawatt

I know there’s a way to hook the meter results to an online feed.
qrcode.17326845The 1st thing I have to buy are a half dozen of these Outlet Usage Meters

I am imagining a  QR code on the fence post…so that folks who see the solar panels can stop and scan it with their smart phones,  which will go straight to the website and check out the system online.  (yes i realize i need a burglar alarm)

They can email questions, i can have a link to the solar installation service, etc…

wemo

wemo

and wouldn’t it be a gas if they could interact?    You can buy light bulb’s and such from Belkin’s Wemo or Phillips Hue that can be controlled via the internet.   Even IFTTT.com  both Channels so that you can control the devices with an automated instruction.    I just think it would be a gas, if a visitor to the website, could turn a low watt lightbulb on and off with an instruction or a text,

This is fun I need to design this a little more and go look at some diagrams for systems.

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The planning is the best part of any project for me, no matter how big or small.
I did more research on the internet for a webcam example of real world items inside a house that are operated by the public.
There are more, but this one is by self definition – insane.
It’s been set up since 2007 using the older X-10 technology
and has examples of many devices, not just lamps, but sound, camera, voice synth, somewhere a doorbell.

As it is, I just have in mind one webcam aimed at ONE night light plugged into one device.
The hook is the website is about the solar installation and it will allow you to flick the light on and off.
I am not funding a playground…. like this one…

X-10s in use at Drivemeinsane.com

drivemeinsane

Big Data what Google Ngrams learned from 5 million books

WORTH HEARING – Studio 360 Friday, August 09, 2013  BIG DATA AND CULTUROMICS

WORTH USING – Google Ngram Viewer

WORTH READING –  Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture  Erez Aiden (Author), Jean-Baptiste Michel (Author)

WORTH READING NYT OP-ED COLUMNIST DAVID BROOKS What Our Words Tell Us May 20, 2013

WORTH WATCHING – TED TALKS Jean-Baptiste Michel + Erez Lieberman Aiden: What we learned from 5 million books

 

[amzn_product_inline asin=’1594487456′]

drive she said

adding-a-hard-disk-1-1 I have written a lot of posts this week… in my head… the census job put me on the road on the nice days…the days we have had with excessive heat, i did the sensible thing, i hid in the house. no a/c in the truck and the radio is also gone bye bye… so i have started filling my kindle fire with audiobooks…actually besides podcasts i only keep one audiobook at a time in the Kindle… but I have been ripping cds from the library to my 2 TB External Harddrive like a maniac. I don’t want to be caught short…if i don’t have something playing i get into loud arguments with the GPS..damn bitch tries to send me to places like schoolyards.

The books I can’t get from the library, I buy ON CD… i really can’t rationalize buying a digital file from audible.com that’s just a very expensive rental service. i want the CD to hold in my hand in case i corrupt that digital file and want to reinstall it. Granted storing all the ones I already own is a pain in the ass, but i only have a two small boxes at this point. My rule of thumb is to only buy and keep ones that i will bother relistening to. Which is a surprising number…. i have relistened to a LOT of my audiobooks, books that i would never have reread on paper. Of course it all depends on the reader…a good reader makes all the difference.

Same thing with podcasts – the really good interviews are worth a rehearing… Marc Maron’s interviews with Louise C.K., Aisha Tyler with practically anybody, Greg Proops with himself etc…Alton Brown Now has a podcast on the Nerdist channel, that’s shaping up nicely.

I need to renew my carbonite back up/cloud storage subscription so i can access that Harddrive from WIFI …i loved it when i had it…but the external drive costs extra. But its on my to do list. Right up there with getting a larger hard drive.

speechless

pclid

i can’t be the only person who feels a little guilty for owning a 6L pressure cooker.   I shouldn’t have to explain that too much… it’s my lizard brain’s knee jerk reaction to helpless feeling shared with the rest of the world right now.   No one i know was involved in the bombing..as far as i can tell all the area runners got home safe.

Like most i retreated to facebook and twitter since i had no other outlet.  Some posts aggravate, some soothe…most are just some form of mental masturbation to your mind busy so it doesn’t dwell on the average person’s helplessness.

The by-products of public tragedies can be anything from uplifting to teeth grinding…personally i find the teaparty, racist angry white folk rhetoric enough to make me want to take a baseball bat to Michelle Bachman..no wait i want to do that everyday…..  Regardless…there is a lot of stuff out there worth reading today…… Dennis Lehane has a lovely ode to the Boston spirit in the NYT.   The “messing with the wrong city” meme may sound arrogant and posturing coming from anyone else..but not from Boston.

 

honeydo

One of the things one does to make yourself feeling better, when one is utterly broke is round up all the things in your house that you have been meaning to send back and then actually sending them back. The Maxpedition pouch with the stitching coming undone, the case for the kindle that doesn’t fit, the USB to Micro connector that doesn’t do what it was supposed to do..they all went back, granted if i were flush i wouldn’t worry so much about spending $2 to ship a $6 item back, but right now that $4 is a big deal. Sales are still flat do not only will i be pawning dvds today…but i have a really have to contemplate selling my Mamiya 645…I love that camera but i don’t need it.

Another things I one does is start fixing all the little things that are in your to be fixed pile. Shelves that needed to put up, shades that need to be rewound, I even slapped a bit of glow in the dark paint on my Kindle On/Off button which is so indistinct that sometimes i have to turn the light on to find it.  Bad practical design even if it does look cool.

Times like this I am tickled pink with my new assembled ‘hardware store’ and repair box…when i put the shelves in the closet for spare food…i added the pegboard to the door and as I clean the house I hang up everything that is just hanging around waiting to be used. You know packages of things you buy and use ONE of and have the leftover in a blisterpack. The Industrial Strength Velcro hard to find in the real world had to be ordered off ebay, so i could hanging bulletin boards on a hollow wall at the animal clinic. Since then i have been lopping little snippets off when needed. Some of my favorite things are bungees, bulldog clips, zip ties, magnets, shower curtain hooks…love my shower curtain hooks, Gasket cement, gorilla tape. things to fix other things. Same deal in the tools box, seems most of the crap i own is just to support all the other things..my apartment is one big junk drawer, taken individually things have purpose but lumped together without organization it’s scary.

Despite all my efforts to get rid of possessions, these little widgets and doohickeys escape the rule, technically it is NEW product, so it would wasteful to dump it. My decision was to keep gathering them together into clusters and jam it into a container. I worked through all the boxes of stuff for sale on the flood of the office…still have a few things to load onto ebay. But the way is clear to emptying the office cupboard, which will give me more space for more stockpile…i will of course need to make more money to feed the cupboard ..this week i didn’t even look at the sale flyers..no money takes the fun out of it.

I have 4 essential things to pay this week…or today actually..Car insurance, phone, internet and the garage. Aside from that i need to buy cat litter, and eventually products to keep selling to people. But i am gambling on a few things..like some booksales and i think i have an editing job coming in the mail with a check.  Yay.

 

bells and whistles

the Kindle Fire is a quasi android tablet…..android is the freerange operating system that combats the global domination of the ipad and iphones IOS…The reason it is only quasi, is that Amazon WANTs you to buy stuff from THEM for this device…heck the opening flash page is a rotating advertisement ….apparently you CAN spend $15 to turn off the advertisements and it is probably worth it.

Another way Amazon has the throttle cranked way back on the Kindle Fire is how it directly connects to the Amazon APP store..which isn’t the free market Google Android store …not all android apps are available on Amazon’s store…they must really want to squeeze every penny out of this device..

BUT they left the back door open..which is surprisingly very obliging of them. IF you download an Android APP from elsewhere providing is a nice virus free file you can install it on your Kindle Fire simply by dragging and dropping and clicking.

I managed to install a by simply moving the .apk files onto the device and installing them. There are a lot more changes you can make to the device by sort of jailbreaking (rooting) them…which i think makes the device much more appealing to the more creative users. ….but i’m good for now. I just really needed more mobility away from book and magazine reading.

Getting better at referencing the Evernote material which if I keep it neat and organized is perfectly suitable for tablet viewing. Sometimes i use it like a file cabinet drawer and just shove things into it willy nilly.

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and for broke food breakfast….i made my own english muffins…and i think i came very close. I made an especially gooey dough last night..and fried a couple of lumps in the pan after the bacon and before the eggs. I think if i had let them cool, they would be quite acceptable for toasting. As it was I sliced them when warm and they were a little squishy but tough enough to make breakfast sandwiches.
(NO I DIDN’T EAT THEM BOTH COMPLETELY..I HAVE BEGGING ROOMMATES SO I HAVE TO SHARE HALF OF EVERYTHING)

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