Hot Wheels retro Batmobile


This die cast Hot Wheels Retro Entertainment collection Batmobile brings me a ton of joy.

I also have the Mystery Machine. Read the rest

Weight works better than volume for my baking


I've found that weighing ingredients makes a huge difference in my baking, so I've added a digital scale.

This simple scale zeros out easily, and its maximum capacity of 11lbs pretty much ensures I won't need something larger.

When baking cookies, bread or cakes I've found that simply scooping ingredients via cup measure, or measuring spoon, and result in some pretty large differences when compared to weighing out exactly the amounts called for.

Here is an online calculator to help you convert volume based recipes to weight, if you'd like to try. I have found cooking by weight makes for a more consistent product. I have an easier time getting chocolate chip cookies just like I want them.

Etekcity Digital Multifunction Food Kitchen Scale, Stainless Steel,11lb 5kg, Silver (Batteries Included) via Amazon Read the rest

Rysa Walker's new novel, 'The Delphi Effect'


Rysa Walker's Chronos Files series is some of the best time travel science fiction I've read in a long time. Her new novel The Delphi Effect deals with the paranormal, and does not disappoint!

The Delphi Effect introduces Anna Morgan, a young woman who has been bounced around foster care and psychiatric institutions for most of her life. Anna can talk to ghosts. Naturally, she runs into a spectre connected to some pretty big secrets and gets embroiled in some tumultuous cloak and dagger shenanigans. Good thing teenagers are well equipped to deal in these situations.

The plot is fun, but with Rysa Walker it is the characters and world building that are so immersive and fantastic. You immediately believe in what is going on, and everything feels natural. You care about these characters, you want to see bad things happen to the bad people, and you cheer on the good regardless how flawed and immature. Teenagers.

Walker writes books that are hard to put down.

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker via Amazon Read the rest

My 9-year-old daughter is tearing through the Land of Stories series


Yesterday my daughter insisted we go to the bookstore and get the third installment in Chris Colfer's Land of Stories series. These addictive fantasy adventures have her reading rather than asking to watch teen web series about hair styles!

I was thrilled and a little bit shocked when my kid's requested activity on a day off of school was to go to the bookstore. I assumed we were in for another long perusal, punctuated by me repeating the mantra "one fashion magazine AFTER you choose a book!" but she went straight to a clerk, asked for the book she wanted and was pleased as punch to find there was one copy left. She cheerfully brought it over and started to tell me all about it! Amazingly, I'd never heard of this Land of Stories.

Seems twins, Alex and Conner, are swept into the land of fairytales through their recently passed away father's magic journal. Their grandmother turns out to be a fairy-grandmother, and the two go on various quests with familiar fairy tale characters. While fun and fantastic, the content isn't all whimsical as the twins learn to cope with the loss of their Dad in the first book, and rescue their Mom in the second.

The characters must be engaging, as my daughter clearly and animatedly discusses them. She could not wait to read the third book in the series, opening it as we left the store and double checking her backpack for it this morning.

While Colfer may be better known for his fantastic role on Glee, this series is helping teach my daughter to love reading. Read the rest

Awaken Online: Catharsis


I'd never heard of this genre referred to as 'LitRPG', but Awaken Online: Catharsis is a fantastic trip into MMORPG land!

Things are always clear in a MMORPG, right? Kill the bats and rats to get a bigger sword, so you can kill bigger rats and bats and get an even better weapon! Up until now moral choices have been simple, good or bad? Welcome to Awaken Online, where moral ambiguity seems to be the thing! Join Jason (great name) as he tries to figure out if the ends really do justify the means, and that maybe, just maybe, he's the bad guy here.

I really enjoyed this first novel by Travis Bagwell. It is free via Kindle Unlimited.

Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell via Amazon Read the rest

The Dungeoneers are back!


Jeffery Russell's The Dungeoneers:Blackfrog Island brings back some of the funniest fantasy I've read!

When you need someone to fetch a missing prize from a deep, dank, dark dungeon you call the Dungeoneers. The gang of steel nerved dwarves and their odd-ball accompaniment are back, this time headed to Blackfrog Island! Pirates, the high seas, and zombie rats await our team of deep-dungeon-explorers as they attempt to brave a mysterious island from which no one returns.

I really enjoyed Russell's first installment as well.

The Dungeoneers: Blackfog Island via Amazon Read the rest

Face and body paint crayons


Halloween is here and it was time for some new face paint. These crayons are very easy to use.

A bit less exact than a brush, these crayons are a fast and simple way to put paint on whomever is your canvas. The 12 colors are bright, and vibrant; showing well against the various skin colors in our household. Soap and warm water washes it right off.

I suggest wearing latex gloves as you apply it, the paint doesn't dry and gets a bit slippery on my fingers.

Great for use on your budding juggalo!

Dress Up America 12 Color Face Paint Safe & Non-Toxic Face and Body Crayons Read the rest

Super Powereds by Drew Hayes


Super hero junior college? Drew Hayes has another fantastic series in Super Powereds, adding his humor and irony to the genre!

Landers is pretty much your average college, except they have a special course program for people with super powers. This year five new students are joining the special program, hoping to train up from "powered" to "super" without hurting themselves, or anyone else.

Hayes' Fred the Vampire Accountant stories are some my favorites this year. He does a wonderful job playing around in this genre, and I'm eager to read the second book in the series.

Super Powereds: Year 1 by Drew Hayes via Amazon Read the rest

Never cork your wine again


This lever operated cork screw is super simple.

I hated ripping corks in half, or finding floating bits of cork detritus in my wine. This Oxo opener pretty much removes me from the equation.

Bottles are also opened far faster, getting you to the drinking.

OXO SteeL Vertical Lever Corkscrew with Removable Foil Cutter via Amazon Read the rest

Eneloops are amazing rechargeable batteries


I have just replaced my first set of Envelop AA batteries, ten years after I bought them.

Around 10-12 years ago I was I doing a lot of underwater photography. High capacity, low-static-discharge AA batteries were pretty new, but an absolute must for digital strobes. I'd swap 2 sets of 4 in each one of my UW strobes almost every other dive, as blasting tons of light around the bottom of the sea takes a lot of juice. Sanyo's Eneloop batteries were the only really choice.

Low Self-Discharge batteries are pretty amazing. Not only do Eneloops hold their charge if not used for up to 10 years, but the fact that they discharge while not in use so incredibly slowly means the batteries also stay healthy much, much longer. Whenever one starts to get a bit flakey, I run a refresh cycle on my charger. After a decade, finally, a few have shorted out.

Over time I stopped diving as much, and Panasonic bought Sanyo. My batteries started to be used for everything around the house. I've had them in remote controlled cars, planes, head-sets, remote controls, flash-lights... you name it. These AA's were in constant service for nearly 10 years. Of the 16 I originally purchased, 8 are still in service and charge up to 1988 mAh.

Eneloops are pretty amazing!

Panasonic BK-3MCCA8BA Eneloop AA 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries (Pack of 8) via Amazon Read the rest

Make clay robots with your kids


We were stuck inside, on a rainy day, and decided to sculpt some robots! Clay Bots has everything you need, and some great design suggestions!

Use the included brightly colored air-dying clay to build your robot. Wind-up feet serve as the platform you start with, add a little creativity and Robot'll be stumbling along before it has even dried. This is a wonderful activity for kids 5-12 years-old, or thereabouts.

The kit also has some simple sculpting tools, a rolling pin and some landscapes to play with. We found it was enough clay for a lot of robot making. I really enjoyed the progression of complexity in the design suggestions, and felt like I improved a lot.

I'm still a boring clay robot designer. I just wanted to make V.I.N.Cent.

Clay Bots - Craft Kit by SpiceBox Books (23512) via Amazon Read the rest

Start this siphon with a hand pump


Starting a siphon sometimes meant a mouthful of some liquid I'd prefer not to sample. This siphon has a hand pump to get things started! Huzzah!

I'd try as hard as I could to start a siphon up without having to suck fluid into the tube with my mouth. Every now and then I'd find I had no choice but to give up and start sucking. A face full of bright blue, phosphate-free coolant got me looking for better solutions.

This siphon is great. Simply squeeze the hand pump and things get started! You can keep pumping if you are moving fluid against gravity, but I wouldn't want to move gallons that way. There is 6' of fuel-safe hose and fittings, which are fantastic for moving gas from motorcycle fuel tank to fuel tank, when I'm working on the bikes.

Also, if memory serves: today's clear gasoline also tastes a lot different than the good old red stuff.

G.T Power Equipment Fluid Extractor Pump for Gas, Oil, Water, Anti-freeze via Amazon Read the rest

Oxygen absorbing bottle caps for longterm home-brew storage


Instead of kegging, I wanted to set up a batch of beer that I could more easily share with friends. I decided to bottle a barleywine with these O2 absorbing bottlecaps.

The idea is these caps will draw what little oxygen is in your bottle out. This should help preserve the beer by keep things from using that o2 to grow bad flavors. Can't be a bad idea, and at $6.42 for 144 I do not like I'm just wasting money.

Cellaring a barleywine should help mellow its boozy flavor. The high alcohol content of a barleywine should make visiting with friends better for everyone.

The caps went on easily. I used this simple capper.

1 X Beer Bottle Caps - Oxygen Absorbing for Homebrew 144 count via Amazon Read the rest

I like Formula 420 for cleaning my 'glassware'


Now that so many wonderful strains and variants of marijuana are available legally, it is a crying shame to smoke dope out of a dirty pipe. Formula 420 really works and it smells great.

Read the rest

Rock tumblers are annoying, loud gifts


Perfect for the kid of someone you don't like very much is a Rock Tumbler.

Most kids who receive a rock tumbler want to turn that sucker right on and polish up some precious stones. The tumbler makes a ton of noise for weeks, eventually gets turned off, and then the grit + rocks harden into cement. A waste of time and energy that creates an awful racket!

This rock tumbler is cheap, so you don't break the bank pissing off that brother-in-law you can't stand.

NSI Rock Tumbler Classic via Amazon Read the rest

Wash and wax your vehicle with little water


Pointing a hose at a 40 year old motorcycle is not the smartest thing you can do, unless its on fire. This Meguiar's Ultimate Wash and Wax Anywhere spray does an amazing job of cleaning up my bikes, and cars.

If your car, or bike, is really caked with grime this will not do. This is not a solution for off-road riders.

For cars or bikes that are dusty or lightly dirty, however, this spray is fantastic. For my motorcycles I find this product perfect, as I can just wash the painted parts and not spray water all over the engine, exhaust, final drive, etc.

Meguiar's wipes on and off easily, and leaves a wax-esque finish that beads water.

Meguiar's G3626 Ultimate Wash & Wax Anywhere Spray - 26 oz. via Amazon Read the rest

Powerline ethernet beats WiFi range extenders pants off

Powerline ethernet adaptors offer far better throughput, in my wacky home, than wifi range extenders.

Powerline ethernet is a standard for running data over your in-wall electrical wiring. Earlier versions hardware was flakey, but now I got months and months without ever having to restart these TP-Link adaptors. You simply plug them into a wall socket and voila, ethernet port.

There isn't much configuration to do, unless you intend to have more than 2 ports in your home. Even then it is all very, very simple.

For getting the most difficult dead spots live on the internet forget wireless and try Powerline.

TP-LINK AV1200 Powerline Adapter, Gigabit, Up to 1200Mbps (TL-PA8010 KIT) via Amazon Read the rest

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