Tough apple watch band doubles as a case

This rugged watch band acts as a case to protect my Apple Watch as I fall all over myself.

Hiking, fishing, falling down -- these are a few of my regular things. I am not particularly clumsy but I tend to space out spatially and will occasionally walk into a tree, or stumble over a rock. It gets worse when I have a 125lb dog pulling my right arm in the opposite direction of the 20lb dog on my left. Smashing the face of your Apple Watch is more expensive, thus far, than smashing my own face.

This band takes a licking and the watch keeps on 'ticking.'

I am hopelessly addicted to my watch, so a band that protects the device from me is pretty nice.

This band fits the 42mm Series 3 watch I wear. SUPCASE also has bands for the other sizes and models.

SUPCASE [Unicorn Beetle Pro] Case for Apple Watch 3, Rugged Protective Case with Strap Bands for Apple Watch Series 3 2017 Edition [42mm, Compatible with Apple Watch 42mm 2015 2016 ] (Black) via Amazon Read the rest

#Vanlife: Camping California's coast -- the Pismo Beach Oceano Campground

This is post is part of a series of reviews of Federal, State, and County provided campsites along California's amazing coastline.

I've visited the Oceano Campgrounds at Pismo State Beach several times this summer. Conveniently located right off the 101 highway along the central coast of California, Pismo is a great place to take a break.

There are other State-run campsites at Pismo, Oceano is not 'Oceano Dunes,' nor is it 'the Pismo North Campground.' Oceano sits on a lovely, bird-filled lagoon about 2 short blocks from the State beach. The sites are very typical of Cal State camping, picnic tables and fire rings. I've stayed in both sites with RV hookups and tent camping sites. I felt situated a little closer to other campers than I'd have liked for a several-day visit, but as a convenient overnight place to stop, cook and shower? Oceano kicks ass.

The hosts and rangers are also very nice people here and are super helpful.

There is a Mexican restaurant right outside the very modern and nice Visitor Center, however I have not tried it. The hamburger shack about 1 block towards the beach, Adam's Burgers, is fantastic. Enjoyed by both my daughter and I. There is also a small market, and a coffee shack that'll sell you t-shirts and stickers as well.

There were a lot of RVs set up for lengthier stays. Most folks had dune buggy type cars, but nothing as cool as Wonderbuggy. Oceano Dunes is one of the last places folks can hoon around in the sand. Read the rest

'Station Eleven' is a haunting tale of the apocalypse

I was attracted to Station Eleven by the short description,it smacked of Commedia dell'arte: a post-apocalyptic tale of new-troubadours desperate to keep music and performance alive in a time of death. I was captivated, however, by the author's format in story telling.

Emily St. John Mandel starts this book off like almost any other book about the apocalypse. People are doing things so high-up on Maslow's hierarchy of needs to demonstrate how far or bad they are about to fall. The book opens in a theater, where stuff happens. Shortly thereafter humanity loses its shit.

Years after the collapse, we meet the Traveling Symphony, a group of musicians and a troupe of Shakespearian actors who merged and travel the north-central former United States and Canada, entertaining folks. Star Trek gave a member of the Symphony the quotation “Because survival is insufficient.” and it has become their guiding light. Life on the road is very hard, but it is their life.

The book temporally jumps all over the place, telling the life story of a famous Hollywood actor who died the night before the world fell apart, and following some key players in his life through their experience of the new world order. The jumps are connected, but disjointed. The story is touching, occasionally heart-rending, and utterly meaningless to the destiny of the folks who survive the actor. The interactions with him helped make them who they are, they may inform some decision-making, and perhaps even scarred one or two for life, but they mostly serve to show how everyone's concerns about everything beyond survival are either immaterial or amazingly important. Read the rest

It feels like this GSI 30oz french press saves my life every morning

#Vanlife would be intolerable without coffee. This GSI Glacier series 30oz 'java' press is my new best friend.

I transition back and forth from tea to coffee and spent most of the last year pounding shots of espresso. Upon moving into my VW Vanagon camper for the summer I forgot to pack either. After one day on the road my daughter, who is a mere 12-years-old, made the observation that I am a lot meaner and less fun to be around without the caffeine.

An exgirlfriend declared my old press "no good" and threw it away after trying to brew loose tea in it. It had been used for coffee for years and was of course, not good for tea.

Tea is lovely but it doesn't get the job done when camping. This 30oz french press does. I'm currently drinking pre-ground Trader Joe's medium roast, but when it is gone I'm thinking Illy or Lavazza. I used to hand grind beans when camping but the fuck if I have time for that now.

This GSI insulated press is just the right size for me to brew a pot and drink it as I get my work done in the morning. The coffee stays hot for the 3-4 hours I am working, and always seems to be empty just when I am done typing away.

Praise the press.

GSI Outdoors - Glacier Stainless JavaPress, 30oz Camping French Press via Amazon Read the rest

Recycled polypropylene rug helps my dog look GOOD

This Mad Mats rug keeps sticks, dirt, burrs and other garbage out of my dog's fur and out of my camper!

6'x9' and awfully stylish, I've had this rug since 2013 and it looks as good as new. Excellent for throwing down just outside the door of my VW Vanagon, under our pop-up shade, or right next to the picnic table where I am cooking and working.

When you spend a lot of time with your dogs in the outdoors, anything that helps keep them a little cleaner, and make life seem a little more luxuriant, is welcome. Like getting nice furniture in your prison cell!

There are other styles, pick the one you love!

Mad Mats Oriental Turkish Indoor/Outdoor Floor Mat, 6 by 9-Feet, Rust via Amazon Read the rest

I can quickly set up this easy-up canopy all by myself

This easy to set-up canopy is cheap AND actually easy to set up.

I am spending most of my summer camping with my dogs. Shade became very important on day 2 when I realized that not having shade on day 1 toasted the back of my neck. Despite liberal smearing of 60 SPF broadspectrum sunscreen, I had to find a solution that'd work for me.

I largely travel without human companionship, and when I do it tends to be of the 12-year old variety (less-than-helpful.) I needed a canopy that'd easily go up, and I wanted to be able to quickly tear the thing down if wind unexpectedly kicked up. I am trying to stay to beaches and coastal campsites, where wind can be an enemy.

This EzyFast 6x6 shade does the job! It is fairly light, the manufacturer says 17lbs, and very simple to put up by my ownself. The frame is a single unit that practically expanded itself when I took it out of the bag the very first time. Once the frame is out and locked into place with handy built-on locks, you put the cover on and then extend the legs. You can weigh it down by putting stuff in the weight pockets built into the cover.

The cover material is a bit thin, but it'll do. The stakes the unit came with are nearly useless, but with additional weigh in the cover it seems to stay in place just fine. If it gets windy out, however, I will lower the legs, remove the cover and go hide in the camper. Read the rest

Bungie cords! Bungie cords! Bungie cords!

Everything in my life seems to be held together by bungie cords.

This 24-pack of bungies is currently keeping most of my possessions from sliding around, or off, my VW Vanagon camper. I'm living in the bus for most of the summer, with my dogs and occasionally the child and space is at a premium!

Bungie cords let me strap stuff into place and keep it there.

In addition to keeping my solar panel from smashing itself to bits on my truck fridge, or my bucket of bottles from rolling into my stove, these bungies also keep raccoons out of my trashcans back at home!

It takes a lot of bungies to keep those raccoons out. 4 or 5.

The ball end bungie straps come in handy too.

Cartman Bungee Cords Assortment Jar 24 Piece in Jar - Includes 10”, 18”, 24”, 32”, 40” Bungee Cord and 8” Canopy/Tarp Ball Ties via Amazon Read the rest

This leakproof, double walled water bottle really keeps stuff cold

The Hydroflask kept my daughter's water super cold during a baking hot road trip. I had a recyclable plastic water bottle and drank warm to hot water.

I usually don't buy into my daughter's fancy waterbottle addiction and stick with refilling empties. The Hydroflask stainless steel, double-walled, slip-proof water flask with a leak-proof lid is worth having! My kid put water and a few ice cubes in her lovely flask before we hit the road while I had frozen a Daisani waterbottle overnight. By noon I had hot water, and she still had cold water.

Then someone dropped a camera bag on my water bottle and a lot of my warm water escaped onto our camper van's floor.

I made my kid share her cold with the dogs.

I'm getting the 40oz version. She has a 64.

Hydro Flask 40 oz Water Bottle - Stainless Steel & Vacuum Insulated via Amazon Read the rest

I love this MSR Alpine kitchen knife

This lightweight, durable MSR kitchen knife comes sharp and stays sharp.

You can also sharpen it quite easily.

I used to buy camping kitchen knives at the dollar store. I'd use them for a season, or part of a season, and then throw them away. They were cheap but unfortunately also disposable. Years ago this MSR Alpine Kitchen Knife came with a set of cooking kit. I have not needed a new knife since.

Good for chopping, paring, slicing and spreading -- this knife will do it all if I'm camping alone and not feeling like taking out silverware. Sure, I'll eat with the kitchen knife.

I have gotten a lot of use out of this blade and only had to sharpen it once. It holds an edge very well.

The Alpine Kitchen Knife is lightweight and has a bit of flex, but is a pleasure to work with. The knife comes with a lightweight plastic sheath for the storaging, as well.

MSR Alpine Kitchen Knife via Amazon Read the rest

Over 5 years of service from this hammock kit in a rough marine environment

Since May of 2013 I've enjoyed this Vivere double hammock and its space-saving steel stand.

The price dropped to around $90 on average last year. It has been down to $70-ish once or twice, but I've gotten so much service from this kit, I think it was a deal at $140. Here is my first review.

I have once replaced the hammock itself! I fault myself, and not the hammock due to my leaving it in the sun, wind, and rain for a few years. I now respectfully take the replacement hammock down at night and bring it in. Several years of use and the replacement looks good as new. I am sure if you care for yours it will last as well.

The stand is good as new. Even in the salty sea air, it has merely developed a patina. I have kept this hammock about 200ft from the Pacific Ocean.

My daughter and I frequently use the hammock. I love it for recovering from any illness, and sleeping outside at night. My kid likes to watch YouTube videos in out, as WIFI easily reaches the deck.

Vivere Double Hammock with Space-Saving Steel Stand via Amazon Read the rest

Chicago Bears 2019 uniform to honor the Lollipop Guild

GO BEARS!!!!!!

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LEGO Voltron can still arrive in time for Father's Day

The 2321 piece LEGO Voltron is the first non-Star Wars set I've really, really wanted in a long time.

Make no mistake, this is Lion Force Voltron, and it looks awesome!

Amazon is offering one-day delivery in my area, so it'd still arrive in plenty of time for a Father's DAy build.

LEGO Ideas Voltron 21311 Building Kit (2321 Pieces) via Amazon Read the rest

How to play 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' on a touch telephone

As a kid I was a dial pad virtuouso. Thanks, YouTube!

Image courtesy of Amazon Read the rest

How to turn your Apple Watch into a source of constant terror and dread

A friend was recently telling me about some IOS app they felt I should share on Boing Boing. The app reminds them, once daily to take a moment and appreciate themselves for who they are, be grateful for their time on Earth, and enjoy the opportunity to be here on this unique planet!

You know, all that shit.

I told this friend, "Friend, I don't need that! I have an Apple Watch."

My Apple Watch plays a key role in managing my mental and physical fitness. The watch serves me in two ways:

My lower back pain is marginally better. Pain is less likely to strike when I weigh less, and have 'core strength'

AND my weight and fitness are one of the very few things I can actually control in my life. Being in control of something reminds me trying does make a difference.

The Apple Watch has a wonderful display that reminds me to move and helps gauge both Calories In and Calories Out. That is most of how I stay thin. The Watch also takes messages in from other apps and displays them where I can see them!

In order to maximize the anxiety created by any random alert from my Apple Watch, I have turned on notifications of withdrawals from my personal checking account.

Every time money leaves my account, my wrist buzzes.

Life is a never-ending circus of joy!

The amount of dread the mere existence of this notification creates is incredible! At first, I didn't really notice and wasn't bothered by it. Read the rest

Funko's Lion Force Voltron is mighty

I hope Funko Lion Force Voltron is the only Voltron Funko makes!

I seriously can not remember the name of a single member of the Voltron Vehicle Force. That show was trash.

Funko Pop 6" Animation: Voltron-Voltron Collectible Figure via Amazon

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Great bike for making your own Peloton now cheaper

The Sunny SF-B1002 exercise bike that I have based my DIY Peloton around is now $50 less than I paid for it!

The 49lb flywheel matched with a really affordable price brought me to the Sunny Bike. This bike is very smooth to ride and easy to use. I have ridden it mercilessly for over 2 years and not had any problems. The bike shows almost no signs of wear and has taken very little maintenance.

Set up was super easy, but the parts are heavy and you may need help if the bike has to go up some stairs.

All the gear you need to set up and join Peloton's classes is cataloged in this post.

I love this bike and the classes from Peloton. Using this set-up over the last two years I've hit my target weight and am in better shape than almost any other point in my life.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B1002 49lb Flywheel Belt Drive Indoor Cycle Bike via Amazon Read the rest

Still the greatest car window sunshade of all time

This 'Star Wars Millennium Falcon approaches the Death Star' sunshade gets me a lot of compliments.

I have found notes under my wiper blades telling me everything from "That's no moon!" to "Let the Wookie win!"

I love this sunshade and it has mostly held up for 4 years. There has been some fading and separation of the plastic layers, but it works just fine to keep the car cool and entertaining.

Plasticolor 003700R01 Star Wars Accordion Sunshade via Amazon Read the rest

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