Binder clips are incredibly handy

I keep a tin of binder clips in the kitchen, on my desk and in my tool bag. They come in all kinds of handy!

I didn't think I'd be writing a love song to binder clips today, but they just come in so amazingly useful. I clip ziplock bags to the side of my sous vide vessel. I clip bags of chips shut. I can use large size clips to hold shoes together as I'm gluing them -- and small ones on more delicate projects.

Binder clips have been used to hold trim and moulding in place as I glue or hammer it back up, after my dogs ripped it off the walls. Binder clips have held my scuba mask's strap, and acted to guide hoses and hold them in place all over my BCD.

There are 100s if not 1000s of uses, like clipping papers together.

Binder clips.

Staples Binder Clips, Assorted Sizes, Black, 60-Pack via Amazon Read the rest

This water filter is going in my bug out bag

You should have a Sawyer Mini water filter in your emergency supplies.

As a life-long camping gadget freak, the Sawyer Mini may be one of the best tools I've seen yet. Weighing in at only 2oz the Mini will filter 100,000 gallons of water with only minimal maintenance. No awful to use UV lights, no crazy big pump. Just squeeze a bag of water through the filter into your waterbottle.

The base kit comes with one 16oz reusable squeeze pouch. You'll likely want to get a few larger bags, I like the 64oz for fairly easy filling in a river or lake, and also being a decent size of water to process in one quick sitting. If you have running or gravity fed water that needs filtration, you can also splice the Mini in.

The Mini has a .1 micron filter, and Sawyer claims "this filter was tested to 10 million parts of bacteria and one million parts of protozoa without a single breakthrough — the highest testing level for filtration." The water doesn't taste like chemicals. I remember a boy scout Sierra backpacking trip and iodine purification tablets galore. Gah!

For under $20 no emergency survival kit should be without one of these filters.

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

Roku Express, now only $29

I absolutely love my Roku player. Their simplest player, the Express is now $29.

After recently comparing with the Apple, Google and Amazon TV devices I have, again, happily stuck with the Roku! Roku's "channel" based content system makes it easy for me to have access to everything I'd like without subscriptions for cable. I replaced over $125/mo worth of satellite service with my Netflix and Hulu accounts.

Roku's 2017 Express displays at 1080p and has access to nearly all the same features as the other models. The dirt cheap Express doesn't support voice searching, and won't handle the 4k and UltraHD resolutions. If you have a 1080p tv, and don't like talking to electronics, you are golden.

My favorite feature, which I understand other vendors now emulate, is Roku's ability to search all your available sources of video and tell you where to find what you are looking for. I watch a lot of old and obscure stuff, Roku makes that easier.

Roku Express (2017) via Amazon

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'Monday Starts on Saturday' is an absurdist romp thru a dystopian Bell Labs

Monday Starts on Saturday is the Strugatsky brothers' uniquely Soviet take on the future of research and the institutions that perform it. This gem from 1964 is not to be missed.

Sasha, a young computer programmer, is recruited by some hitchhikers to join them at their off-the-rails think-tank: the National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy. Imagine Harry Potter's Ministry of Magic, set in the Soviet Union and given the noble task of researching true happiness for all people, regardless the cost.

Better known as NITWiT, the institute is home to a dizzying array of sideways experiments, baffling discoveries and talking animals. The Strugatsky's viciously parody dysfunctional element of a bureaucratic, government-run research facility, lambasting the politics, laziness and narcissism while also sharing some wonderful characters and mind bending experiments. NITWiT's director doesn't exist in linear time, Baba Yaga's hut is running around in the back ground and Maxwell's "macrodemons" make a fantastic appearance.

I have only read this translation, but others are available online, at least in-part free.

Monday Starts on Saturday by Boris and Arkday Strugatsky, translated by Andrew Bromfield via Amazon Read the rest

I'm planting most of my garden in Earthboxes this year

I'm a huge fan of the Earthbox. My best crops of tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and corn have all been from these wonderful self-watering containers.

I really like gardening in self-watering containers. I have made my own, but after a number of seasons, I've found that that the Earthbox-brand, commercially produced with plastics that last in the outdoors, last a lot longer. There is also no guess work with soil vs. reservoir depth.

I've ordered 4 new Earthboxes to compliment the two I have been using for nearly 10 years. The best tips and tricks I can offer for container gardening are to simply follow the directions from Earthbox. I've bought a few books, I've scoured the interweb forums for info, and honestly nothing has helped more than doing it exactly the way Earthbox suggests.

I may try some of California's newly legal recreational plant in a box as well. Who knows, everything else likes to grow in them...

EarthBox Terracotta Container Gardening System via Amazon

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DIY cat scratching post, fun but spendy

I made my own cat scratching post out of sisal cord and a poster tube. It cost more than just buying one.

50' of 3/8" sisal rope ($0.25/foot) winds almost perfectly around a 30" by 2" diameter poster tube ($3.33.) My daughter and I had a wonderful time wrapping the tube up, securing the ends with binder clips, and then using a strip of old bedsheet to hang the scratcher from a doorknob! Rubbing a little catnip on it encourages our Maine Coon to scratch away!

Total cost invested was around $15.00.

Even if reusing the tube, binder clips, and sheet I can easily find an equivalent scratcher for less. Even using cheaper cord only changes things by a few cents.

I'll put the two side-by-side and we can see the wear over time and judge which is more popular. Perhaps my cat will appreciate the love and effort that went into making him a toy.


Petlinks Hanging Rope Relief Cat Scratcher via Amazon Read the rest

Sailor Jentle Yama-dori is my teal ink of choice

I wanted a teal ink. Sailor Jentle Yama-dori is my new teal ink.

I had some limited edition Mont Blanc teal ink that I liked, it ran out. I decided to try this Sailor Jentle ink. I like it better! The Sailor Jentle ink is a dark blue-green with a very nice sheen to it. The ink looks much better after 2-3 minutes of drying.

Image from Jetpens.

On Doane Paper with my father's old medium nibbed Duofold the Yama-dori is just beautiful.The sheen after this ink dries is beautiful and includes greens and purples. Dad's Parker flows like the god damn Nile and the Sailor ink only gently feathers around the heaviest deposits. I am going to try this in my Levenger L-Tech, which has become my standard blue ink pen. The Levenger doesn't flow nearly as well as a Duofold, but the Sailor Jentle is water-based and seems pretty slick. I have been using Noodler's Luxury Blue but far prefer the muted tone of teal.

The Sailor Jentle ink bottle is a trip. Follow the instructions on the side or be frustrated. Don't ask me how I know!

Sailor Ink Bottle Yama-dori via Amazon Read the rest

Slicing and dicing with an 8" santoku knife

I was told that chopping vegetables and fruits would be easier with a Santoku knife. For $25 I gave it a shot. Read the rest

A TLR inspired pencil sharpener

Finally a pencil sharpener I want on my desk. I rarely leave home without my Rolleiflex. This TLR shaped pencil sharpener is pretty damn cool.

Here is a short tribute to my Rollei.

Retro Camera Manual Pencil Sharpener Hand-Cranking via Amazon Read the rest

The best cardboard cat scratcher is the cheapest cardboard cat scratcher

My cat absolutely loves these $8 cardboard cat scratchers. They go straight into the recycling bin, so why spend a penny more than necessary?

I tried one of the $25 lounger-style cardboard cat scratchers and my picky cat wouldn't go near it. I put out a simple, flat and cheap one? Scratch city. My furniture and carpets are mercifully left alone while these get torn up every 4-6 weeks.

Last night, as I was rubbing the catnip into a new scratcher, my cat decided he wanted to be pet. He ended up pretty covered in catnip and rocketing around the house for 20 minutes.

AMZNOVA Cat Scratcher, Scratching Pad, Durable Recyclable Cardboard with Catnip via Amazon Read the rest

Harry Connolly's amazing Twenty Palaces series is back with 'The Twisted Path'

Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series is one of my favorite new storylines in science fiction. After a several year hiatus Harry has brought back Ray Lilly, and all the magic in The Twisted Path.

The Twenty Palaces series tells the tale of Ray Lilly, a former convict turned into a magician's decoy, or Wooden Man. It is Lilly's job to distract evil creatures from the deep and dark, while his master Annalise burns them with primal green fire. They keep on saving the world from some pretty nasty demons that have crossed over.

Wooden Men aren't supposed to last more than one mission, but somehow Ray keeps on surviving. The Twenty Palaces Society has taken notice and calls Ray and Annalise to Europe, this does not bode well.

Connolly's Lovecraft-ian/Geiger-style lore and world building is amazing. I have enjoyed all of his novels and novellas, but none have been as anticipated as The Twisted Path. If you are new to this series, I highly recommend starting with Child of Fire, the which was also Harry's debut novel.

Ray and Annalise' return is every bit as exciting as I'd hoped.

The Twisted Path: A Twenty Palaces Novella by Harry Connolly via Amazon Read the rest

LEGO Apollo Saturn V rocket on Amazon for $119

I have been waiting to find the LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309 Building Kit for list price. Amazon is selling it now.

This fantastic 1969 piece set looks wonderful. I can not wait to build it with my daughter.

Watch out for scalpers.

LEGO Ideas Nasa Apollo Saturn V 21309 Building Kit via Amazon Read the rest

A tiny stand for your smartphone or tablet

My daughter and niece will whine incessantly if their phones do not have a Pop Socket attached.

These cute pop-up buttons act as a stand or handle for your small screen device. It sticks to your case, or the phone direct, and simply works. The kids use these to position their phones for viewing in all sorts of weird angles.

Pop Socket via Amazon Read the rest

I'm listening to covers of Sonic 2's 'Aquatic Ruin Zone'

Ah, the Aquatic Ruin Zone. This jazz cover of the video game music is pretty much PERFECT. The Super Soul Brothers seems like a modern version of Matchgame.

Aw hell, I'll embed Matchgame too.

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My favorite coffee mug depicts owls

I share with you my favorite coffee mug.

Years ago my mother gave me this lovely, lovely coffee mug depicting several owls.

I searched for another but misread the maker's mark as "Muana."

My mother has given me many owl shaped coffee mugs, and doesn't remember giving any specific mug, let alone where she bought it.

The maker's mark actually reads "Mara." Mara makes a whole line of animal-themed ceramic mugs.

Now I have a set of 4. I mismatched owls as I like the other styles too. All owls tho. Don't mess with other animals.

One (1) MARA STONEWARE COLLECTION - 12 Oz Coffee Cup Collectible Square Bottom Dinner Mugs - Night Owl via Amazon Read the rest

How to patch the velveteen side of an air-mattress

Welcome to the holidays!

After many a slumber party, my kid told me the air mattress had developed an annoying slow leak. I used this patch kit.

The guy in the video found his leak a lot faster than I did. A LOT. Sigh. I used a spray bottle of soapy water. I used a safety razor to shave the fuzz off the mattress.

Tear-Aid Repair Type B Vinyl Inflatable Kit via Amazon Read the rest

Awesome 1106 piece LEGO Star Wars BB-8

This 1106 piece LEGO BB-8 will be my daughter and her cousins' Thanksgiving Day project.

I am clearly thrilled with my daughter's LEGO addiction and her dedication to Star Wars. Her slightly younger cousin is also a giant Star Wars aficionado, although he does not yet know that word, and a fantastic LEGO builder. I'm pretty sure this kit will only take them a few hours.

I would love the largest C1-10P kit LEGO will make.

LEGO Star Wars VIII BB-8 75187 Building Kit (1106 Piece) via Amazon Read the rest

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