Eneloops are amazing rechargeable batteries

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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

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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

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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

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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'

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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

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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

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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

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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

Caverns and Creatures RPG silliness continues in 'Probing the Annis'

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Robert Bevan's silly satire of RPG gamers continues in Probing the Annis. Bevan must really hate the folks he games with.

Don't expect a lot of intellectual discourse in any of Bevan's short but funny tales of the Caverns and Creatures universe. His bunch of beer'd up bozo bros are still trying to rules lawyer their way out of trouble in an RPG that has become all too real. Clearly, the situation gets uncomfortable.

Get ready for a lot of puns about butts!

Probing the Annis (Caverns and Creatures) by Robert Bevan via Amazon Read the rest

Animal shaped ice packs for lunch bags

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These cute cold packs work great, and are easy to clean. Wonderful for lunches that don't fit in my daughter's bento jar.

We keep owls and penguins in our freezer, to use as needed. We wash'em off in the sink, and let them air dry. Also good for boo-boos and bonks, when wrapped in a kitchen towel!

Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Character Shaped Lunch Ice Packs, Multicolored - Set of 4 via Amazon Read the rest

Gregor's Run by Saxon Andrew

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In Gregor's Run a young man with a mysterious past is on the run from two of the universe's most powerful organizations. Generally broke, and with no idea of who he is or what the bad guys want, the titular Gregor just wants to get drunk.

This was a fun, fast and poorly edited Kindle Unlimited recommendation! Packed with the requisite action and adventure, Gregor's Run tells a witty and entertaining version of a familiar story. The backstory and world building are well done, and the characters interesting, Gregor is certainly a different hero.

Not-safe-for-the-grammatically-nitpicky, this remains a fine example of Kindle Unlimited fare.

Gregor's Run: The Universe is too Small to Hide via Amazon Read the rest

Great glue for DIY shoe repair

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In the past, saving a well worn pair of shoes or boots was a very frustrating mission. Freesole urethane shoe glue is amazing, and good for a lot more than shoes!

I've had a lot of success using Freesole to repair wetsuit booties, flip-flops, and a pair of Asolo hiking boots. The booties and flip-flops were both cases of reattaching rubber to neoprene. The hiking boots had a crack in the sole. All three have been held together wonderfully by Freesole.

Freesole is a urethane glue that remains super flexible after it cures. The Freesole creates a super strong bond between the surfaces and purportedly will handle extreme temperatures, and water, as well or better than your manufacturers glue. I believe it! The reattached soles on my wetsuit booties have lasted 2-3 months without peeling at all, with probably north of 10-15 hours in the water.

Applying Freesole is pretty easy. First, just clean the two surfaces you need to attach with rubbing alcohol. Next spread a layer of Freesole on one side, making sure to get good coverage. I then use binder clips to clamp everything together and simply set it aside for 24-48 hours. The glue takes a day to cure, but when it does the seal is as permanent as when the shoes were new.

You can get a few uses out of Freesole if you make sure to wipe the tip of the tube off, put the cap back on, and then stick it in your freezer! Read the rest

LEGO Architecture Studio

1210 white and transparent pieces make up the LEGO Architecture Studio. This fantastic set is geared towards builders!

Summer is here and I'm running out of ways to occupy the kid!

Aside from a whole lot of pieces, I'm impressed with this set. Switching to a solid white color scheme eliminates a lot of random searching for just the right shape and COLOR piece. The guide book will teach you to build architectural features, and inspire you to design buildings on your own, which is what this set is for.

LEGO Architecture Studio 21050 Playset via Amazon Read the rest

Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space

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Osprey Publishing, the UK-based military history publisher beloved by wargamers and toy soldier nerds for their amazing Men at Arms series (which lovingly details the uniforms and accoutrements of war), has been expanding into gaming in a big way recently. They've been responsible for the increasingly popular skirmish-level dungeon-delving miniatures game, Frostgrave, the hugely popular Bolt Action (which they distribute through a publishing partnership with Warlord Games), and a growing number of excellent miniature rules sets covering everything from historicals to fantasy, sci-fi, and horror.

Another notable thing they've been doing is re-vamping existing games that had a lot of promise but had some rules problems, or component issues, or some other crippling flaw that limited their appeal on their first release. They've been re-doing these games in gorgeous new editions. One such game is Odin's Ravens, which I previously reviewed here. They also recently released a lovely, revamped edition of the very trippy The Ravens of Thri Sahashri, a Japanese cooperative card game where players enter the mind of a character and try and repair her memories and guide her to safety before she goes insane with ravens eating her mind. Another notable example of this revitalizing of a promising title is their recent "Ultimate Edition" of Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space.

The lovely and unusual components and packaging of Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space.

Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is a card-based hidden movement, hidden identity game of deception and bluffing. Read the rest

Knights of the Apocalypse, another Duck and Cover adventure

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The irreverent adventures continue! In Knights of the Apocalypse, Benjamin Wallace's former librarian is back and bumbling through the wreckage of civilization!

Jerry, Erica and their massive massif Chewy, have wound-up broken-down in the Kingdom of the Five Peaks. Southern Colorado's new ruler King Elias offers our post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior a chance to live, but there are always challenges. Cannibals, the power of steam, and a legion of knights all stand in their way. Watch Jerry mess it all up!

I've really enjoyed Wallace's Duck and Cover adventures. He takes some of the most fun tropes in post-apocalytpia and twists them on their side.

Knights of the Apocalypse (A Duck & Cover Adventure Post-Apocalyptic Series Book 2) via Amazon Read the rest

Jon Hunter is still at it in 'Hero at the Gates'

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Timothy Ellis' galaxy spanning space opera continues in Hero at the Gates! We're 9 damn books in and the central plot is finally about to get past its prelude!

I've really enjoyed this massive story. 9 novels ago Jon Hunter was a wet behind the ears kid on board his uncle's space trader. Now he's the Admiral of his own massive space flotilla, and ruler of several sections of space. The massive reveal about what the hell is going on, and what part Team Slinky Red Jumpsuits is going to play in it is near unavoidable, when our heroes set off in the exact opposite direction in this sometimes 2D universe.

The prize is tempting, but Jon can not miss the short window of time he's allowed to land on his home planet and consult the spiritual guys there who know all. How will it all work out? Gee... I'll have to start book 10.

Hero at the Gates (The Hunter Legacy Book 9) via Amazon Read the rest

L.G. Estrella's 'The Trouble with Werewolves'

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The Australian Department of Unusual Events is no place for the weak hearted. L.G. Estrella's The Trouble with Werewolves is a great first taste of this new series.

And a taste is all you'll get! 99 cents buys you 75 pages, and I read them over lunch. We are introduced to some colorful characters, and snarky humor, as Australia's monster hunters get a quick course in Werewolf 101. Experienced team members Mike and Haley have to get the new guy, Mark, up to speed.

While the team in no way handled the entire werewolf menace threatening Australia, I expect we'll see a wide range of outback monsters in future installments!

L.G. Estrella's The Trouble with Werewolves via Amazon Read the rest

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