Friday, February 28, 2014

China Ranch Date Farm

After left Pahrump, when had to go there to fix the DMV issues, headed to the LA area.  On way there stopped by this place, and it was great, minus not going there with a date.  Good thing that wasn't a requirement!

Not too bad, right?
The road to it was actually pretty nice, as far as desert roads go.  It was a nice place to visit but there isn't much around.  The turnoff for the Date Farm had a good sized sign to it, but was following the GPS to get me there.  The GPS wanted me to go a different way, for some odd reason, am very happy I didn't listen to it.  Once embarked on this road cell phone service was almost non-existant.

Still looking good'ish.
After the turnoff to the China Ranch Date Farm the road quickly turned to a dusty gravel type mixture, as can be seen by the pictures.  It was hard packed and very solid the whole way.  In most places there was a very gentle down slope to get there.  It did quickly turn to sharp turns and canyons.

I was unable, for my safety's sake, to get pictures of the sharp turns and the canyons.  I have a 35 foot RV and some of the turns were very sharp that was worried about oncoming traffic and me being in their lane.  It turns out that most people are very very cautious along this road, for good reason.

Little cozy
It continued on for several miles, not really sure how long.  Nearing the Date Ranch there was actually a steep downhill area.  If memory serves me it was 9% downgrade for a short while.  Pretty step.

When finally got there was greeted by the tall date palm trees.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda, but didn't grab any pictures of these.  Just gives me a chance for another come back and visit, which am looking forward to.

Dates of all Varieties, grown right here
When got to the actual store, was warmly greeted by the people who work there.  The store itself is split into two pieces.  Food "stuff" in the front, and oddities and other things in the back.  The back looked more like the typical touristy stuff, but seemed like it was also nice stuff.  Hard for me to describe, and of course, I didn't take pictures of that area.  It was like craft type items.

In the food area there was a place where could sample all of the dates they grow there.  Then there was a cooler where could buy pounds of the ones which you like the best.  When was there didn't buy any, but I did pick up some cookies!

Honey!  Local and fresh
The cookies they have are baked right on premises.  Wasn't able to get fresh baked cookies this day as they were planning to throw some bread in the oven.  I did however get some to go, and they were AWESOME!  The cookies are sweetened with dates!

Also had a milkshake, which many people told me I should get.  The milkshake was very good and tasty, not to mention sweet, but it really wasn't my thing.  Would still recommend people to get it for the novelty and maybe they'll like it more than me.

The one thing which I was truly happy with, and which surprised me immensely, was when went for a walk to see if can get some pictures.  Found a nice vista to snap picture or two at, but for life of me can't find the picture, and can't remember taking it, but remember seeing a nice vista.

Heard water gurgling from this area?!?!?!
What did catch my eye, or ears, was hearing water gurgling, like from a babbling brook or something.  This caught me by surprise as didn't really expect to hear that in the middle of this desert wasteland.  Life grows in the most unexpected of places.

Took a quick survey around the edges of this bunch of "stuff", and found a path I could follow.  At this point I am highly determined to find the source of this water noise.  It's very perplexing.


Path through brambles
 This is the path was able to find and follow.  Saw some fresh cuts in the wood.  Not sure even what they call these, vines, trees, bushes?.  Am sure it's not a bush, as it seems to all be one big thing.  In reality am sure it's smaller ones intertwined, similar to how blackberries intertwine.  Would like to note that these are in no means blackberries.

This path kept winding and winding through, wide enough in most places to walk two people wide, like hand in hand.  It was a very nice and peaceful walk.  While there wasn't much to see other than the "walls" of impenetrable brush, always had the gurgling sound.  It would ebb and flow a little while walking the path, but would always grow little stronger with each step.  Definitely getting closer.

A tree?!
Then came into a little clearing like area, with the babbling brook still getting a little louder.  Saw what looked like a tree.  In this picture it's also possible to see some fresh cut ends of the wood.  Unsure what they were doing here, maybe making a picnic area or just a clearing?

GOTCHA!
The force, or sound, was strong here in this area.  It's been this strong for a little while but haven't seen the source of the noise yet.  Until I got closer to the tree.  Here is where found the crystal clear babbling brook.

Was overjoyed at this point and just snapped several pictures, of a little oasis in the middle of the desert.  It was quite a nice sight to behold!

Branch and "dam"
Managed to squat down right next to the brook, stick my hand in the cool water, and just relax there for a couple moments, or more than a couple.  It was very relaxing to have this time out.  It almost reminded me of time at the ocean in Oregon.  That was wunderbar (wonderful).  That is pronounced Voonderbar, don't ask me, it's german (Deutsch).
Crystal clear!

Sadly, it was time to move on.  The clock was ticking and had to leave this little paradise.  I would've been very happy to spend all day here, grab a blanket, or chair, and just sit and relax, dozing on and off all day.  Oh how relaxing that could be!

Soon as got back to the RV, fired it up and began the long, arduous, and dusty trek back to the main road, and continuation of my journey to the greater LA area for the 3d Printer World Expo.  And Part 2

On the way down I saw this cave entrance and was unable to snap a picture.  Made sure, on the way out, to snap a picture showing the sign. Can't make out exactly what the sign says other than Gypsum Queen.  If memory serves me right this area was used to mine Gypsum, which is used in, among other places, sheetrock..



Soda "Experiment"


On to more recent events.  Am in Vegas, and up the road is a discount supermarket.  Went in there one day and saw they had Diet Coke for $6.99 / 24 pack if bought two of them.  Not sure what took me over, but felt a strong urge to get the soda, two of them.....

So, long story short, in a short 3 days went through both cases, total of 48 cans, of soda.  Near the end it was like the soda was calling me to open it, almost surreal now that think back on it.  This happened up until the last several cans.  Went out to eat a couple times and also had soda there, but this is about the two cases.

Had plans to go to the strip and walk up and down to check it out.  I did that, happily, but truly felt like was hungover, even though haven't touched a sip of booze (except vanilla flavoring) in a long time.  This truly felt like had been binge drinking the night before of alcoholic drinks.  Not saying it's related to the soda, but you be the judge.

Several years ago I was known to drink anywheres between 6 and 8 litres of soda on a daily basis, either Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, with caffeine of course.  Felt no ill effects, though am sure it didn't help anything and was able to wean myself off with no problems at all.  Have been slowly building back up.

Am curious as to how much I drank this time.  It was roughly three days, so will calculate for both three and four days.

2 cases x 24 cans each = 48 cans
Each can is 12 ounces
48 cans X 12 ounces (per can) = 576 ounces
Per google,  576 ounces = ~17 litres
17 litres / 3 days = 5 2/3 litres per day
17 litres / 4 days = 4 1/4 litres per day.

Haven't had a sip since!

     
ERKH, and ERKH again

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sanitizing, followed by Drip, Drip, Drip

Water Tank Sanitization


Most people tend to sanitize RV Water holding tanks with Bleach, if they do sanitize.  I try and stay away from bleach in all aspects as there is mounting evidence that it's not the best for us, from inclusion into city water (taking a shower in chlorine gas, eww), to just being around it more often.  Bleach does have some good aspects, such as killing bad germies.  There are other options to killing bad germies though, better options depending on the intended application.

To sanitize my tank, I chose to go a more environmentally friendly route, using Hydrogen Peroxide.  One of the keys to using Hydrogen Peroxide is to use the 35% Food Grade version.  The typical stuff, in the brown bottle, from the drug or grocery store, just won't cut it, no pun intended.

I used this article as a general guide for how went through the sterilization process.  One thing I didn't do is add lemon juice.  As it's slightly acidic am sure it would've helped, but my thinking is Hydrogen Peroxide is corrosive to begin with so that should be enough to do the trick.

Got my bottle of the Hydrogen Peroxide from Raw Vegan Source, quite some time ago, to use as a vegetable wash.  For a vegetable wash, use 1 capful to a full sink of cold water.  Put veggies in, swish around, then rinse with clean water.  Viola, cheaper than vegetable wash from the store.

My steps, for right or wrong were:
  1. Empty RV Water holding tank, low as it could go
  2. Fill RV Water tank (with filtered water) most of the way
  3. Mix 2/3 of bottle (unsure how much, can't find bottle, though it's smallish) with pitcher of water
  4. Empty pitcher with mixture down fresh water fill tube
  5. Rinse more water down
  6. Continue filling tank till mostly full
  7. Drive down road (to next destination in my case), about 3-4 hours, only enough to swish things around is truly needed
  8. Prior to hooking to campground water, turn water pump on and run through water pipes to all faucet.  Let the faucet/shower, hot and cold water, run couple minutes.
  9. Open up drain valves for hot/cold water by main water holding tank for couple minutes
  10. Let water sit in everything for couple more hours
  11. Leaving faucets open fill up grey tank with solution from fresh water tank
  12. With Toilet open fill up black tank with solution from fresh water tank
  13. Let sit for couple hours
  14. In meantime fill fresh water tank with, well, fresh water
  15. Empty Black tank
  16. Empty Grey tank
  17. Return to normal use
  18. Flush all lines with the fresh fresh water (still contains minimal amount of hydrogen peroxide,very diluted)

These are the steps I did from memory.

While flushing the toilet, did notice lots of little black things come out from the water pipe into the bowl so looks like this did the trick for most of it.  With the faucets and shower, didn't have the white background so couldn't tell if anything got dislodged.

When can get more Hydrogen Peroxide will probably redo these steps just to verify all the baddies are gone, maybe even adding some lemon juice into the mix like the article above mentioned.

Other uses for Hydrogen Peroxide


While doing some research for posting this, came across bunch of other links regarding different uses for this.  Here is one of the better ones, from Wolf Creek Ranch.  Haven't tried anything specifically found there, just more interesting.

Drain Shutoff replacement


After doing this cleansing noticed some water dripping from the hot and cold fresh water drains by the main tank.  These are used to drain the tank (like did above).  It seemed like no matter what I chose to do, how hard I chose to shut them, they wouldn't stop leaking.

Before replacement
At first thought this leaking was caused by seals which were affected by the Hydrogen Peroxide.  Turns out, while it's still possible, don't think this was the cause.  Still replaced them as it didn't dawn on me until after replaced them.  Believe the leaking issue was caused by sediment which got flushed down and got stuck in the crevice.  This is because, unbeknownst to me prior to replacing them, the existing shutoffs were Gate Valves.  They looked just like ones with a tap washer, similar to what is shown in this article.


First try, no clue..
Even though have done this type of thing before, sometimes those memories are hard to dredge up when needed the most.  Tried countless ways to remove the threaded pipe and nothing at all seemed to work.  It appears that this piping is all factory original, so didn't want to move things too much for fear of risking a break.  That would just add much much more time to the process.

Pondering
Still being unsure what to do, stepped away for a short break, then remembered that the end which was leaking has a short drop tube that comes out other end of faucet (where drips were coming from) and drops straight down to the ground.

Drop tube and faucet
Was able to successfully lift that portion up.  Using two adjustable wrenches it was an easy process from here to remove the drip tube and then the faucet.  This picture shows the second one about to be removed and see how much it looks like a "standard" faucet, which in my mind are the standard ones that typically have washers which wear out.

Both removed!
It was at this point, after removing the first one, where I realized that they don't have washers at all, just the gate valve, which is all brass.  This is how I came up with my theory on why it was leaking, because of gunk stuck at the bottom of the gate valve.  Such is life. Didn't want to take it apart prior to going to store for replacements, but should have.

First one on!
Installing the new ball valves is a fairly easy and simple process.  Just rinse and repeat, in reverse order, of how things were taken apart. This is a relatively painless process, with the right knowledge, and the right tools.

Of primary note is the use of Teflon tape.  Unsure if there are more environmentally friendly products to use to seal threads, but this is what have been using.  Two key things to remember, if possible, as it makes life easier.  First is to wrap the tape on fairly tight, tight enough so it "clings" to the threads.  Second is try to wrap it in direction of the threads.  This means that when putting on the shutoff valve, in my case, that the tape has less tendency to want to come off as am not trying to peel it back up.

Tightening....
All set, last for posterity
The tightening process is also fairly straight forward, though it's a fine line to not leaking and having everything line up exactly how it should be.  With these types of faucets, it's a good idea to not torque it down with all your might on the first go.  The key is to put just enough pressure on it to align everything without having to back off, or loosen, to achieve desired alignment.  This is where having large muscles doesn't pay off too well.  The teflon tape does a wonderful job for sealing the cracks!

Notice how it's all nicely aligned in the last photo.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

KickStarter Part Thrice

To date, have backed well over 100 projects on KickStarter.  A good number of them have not received the rewards, quite a few were not funded (for a variety of reasons), and still one or two show no signs of life, even though it was funded.

Am currently listing all the projects which have been fulfilled (i.e. funded and reward(s) received).

Funded

Wood Burning Stoves 2.0 - the DVD(s)

I met Paul Wheaton, and even participated on several of his Podcasts, bit roles mostly, but still there.  When took my Permaculture Design Course, it was in Montana, and Paul was there most every day.  I felt obligated to purchase this as feel like it's also very important to spread the word!  Am glad I did, though have no current use for what have learned, it helps support getting the word out there.

The DVD set is actually very well done.  A lot of knowledge in this about all sorts of things.  The primary goal in this is to spread word on the Rocket Mass Heater and alternatives to the typical wood stoves and fireplaces which are very inefficient.  It's possible, in most climates, to heat a typical home with deadfall from branches only.  Instead of a typical 2-5+ chords of wood, it's possible to use 1/4 - 1/2 chord of wood, and still be warmer.

Ripped DVD's to my phone so can watch them without my computer, which is a convenient for me! Ssshhh, don't tell the powers that be.

Ethical, Free Range Chicken Farming


Backed this because the followed Permaculture principles somewhat, plus the goal was set very low.  Didn't get any rewards, just felt need to support.

Northeast US Rail Map


Supported this as there is not a comprehensive place (that I know of) which lists different public transit options to get from Point A in one area to Point B in a vastly different area..  Such as going from Newark, NJ to Portland, Maine.  I really miss the european rail system, and ours is anemic compared to that.

Not Funded

No One's Pet


This was supposed to be a book produced by a lady who graced 5 Penthouse covers.  Forget exactly why I backed, but did so it's on this list.  Didn't make it though.

Farm2Market Foods: Organic, Gluten-Free & Vegan Condiments


This project looked really awesome, too bad they didn't get enough support.  I would've been quite happy with some Organic condiments, such as BBQ sauce, Mustard, or Chili-Pepper sauce.

Civitas - Plan, develop, and manage the city of your dreams!


This looked like a neat little game.  Reached little less than 40% of the funding, and seemed similar to the SimCity franchise, which I really enjoyed.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Resveratrol

As I was listening to Coast to Coast AM, one of the guests, Bill Sardi, said something that piqued my interest.  I have someone fairly close to me that is suffering from Wet Macular Degeneration.  They're going through the standard treatment protocol, having some type of shot in the eye which is supposed to "fix" the issue.  I get the feeling it's not helping much, but wasn't outright told one way or another.

According to Bill Sardi, if people take Resveratrol supplement, specifically something he helped formulate called Longevinex, 16 out of 17 people had their condition reversed.

Other than this, which is what piqued my interest, looks like there are many, many, benefits to taking Resveratrol.  While I can't comment any further on this, as am not informed enough, wanted to make note of it.

Bill Sardi created a 51 page pdf file making a Case for Resveratrol.  Took a skim through it and seems like it's very interesting.  Well worth a quick look for anyone with health challenges.

Cleaning my Waterfall

As most people know, I am a proud, card carrying, Nikkenite.  There are many reasons for this, some I don't know yet, some I do know, but it fell into my lap again after a long absence.  Hi Mary, Dennis, et al.

Anyways, they have a complete home water system, dubbed the Waterfall.  I could babble on and on and on, this video does it much better than I ever could, from the Nikken Science Guy.


Did some maintenance on it this weekend, primarily just a good cleaning.  It got a little gunked up prior to me adding a water filter to water coming inside the RV.  Prior to this didn't have any filters and some places the water is better than others.  While here in Vegas have had to clean my filter (yes, it's cleanable) twice, once just today.

Base after washing
Took apart everything and washed in the sink, using natural, and organic, soap.  What I did do, which they say I shouldn't, is immerse the whole base in water.  There is a little light, circuit board, and battery (behind/above the little black button), that barely works on a good day.  So if it never works ever again I'm also happy.  It's supposed to signify when it's time to change the filter.  This is the only flaw in the product.

magnets!
This little plastic piece here contains some magnets to restructure the water as it leaves the filter.  This restructuring, from what I've been told, makes the water more available to our bodies cells.  On the outside there was a little nastiness looking stuff which cleaned out.

Silicone gasket?
There is also a little flexible ring in there, like some sort of silicone gasket.  Also took this out and cleaned as there was some more gunky stuff in there.


At least once a year (they recommend twice) we're supposed to replace the water filter and the rocks in bottom.  After filtration of the water, the rocks are there to remineralize the water.  However, I boil the rocks.  This serves the purpose of cleaning and sanitizing them.  No one ever told me this takes away from effectiveness of it, so will continue to do so.
Heating up!

So, I just simply put them in a pan/pot, fill with filtered water (pre-waterfall), and turn on the portable induction cooktop.  Added enough water to cover the rocks by a fair amount.

Rolling Boil
Then put it on high and and wait for a rolling boil.  I keep it at this rolling boil for about 10 minutes, give or take.  In that time believe most, if not all, of the bad ikkie's which could grow there are gone from there.

Drain the water out, rinse (with filtered water), let cool, and then put back into the filtration unit.  After this it's couple more easy steps to reassemble and put rest of parts back together.  Final step is to fill with water.





Rocks right at home..  YES!

A little plug:  Not only does the Waterfall produce great, filtered, mineralized, chlorine reduced (free mostly) water, it also produces Alkaline water.  This is still a big movement in health circles.  There are quite a few alkaline water units out there, the main one being the Kangen water filter.  If you think higher quality means higher price, by all means look at Kangen.  The waterfall is bout 10-15% of the cost of the Kangen filter, uses 100% of the water (minus bad stuff), and does a lot more than just alkalize.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

KickStarter Part Deux

To date, have backed well over 100 projects on KickStarter.  A good number of them have not received the rewards, quite a few were not funded (for a variety of reasons), and still one or two show no signs of life, even though it was funded.

Am currently listing all the projects which have been fulfilled (i.e. funded and reward(s) received).

Funded

Wood fired bakery on Midnight's Farm


This bread is made with Love and Soul right on Lopez Island, in WA, using as many local ingredients as possible.  I've never been to this island, but will someday soon, just wanted to add my support to help make their dream a reality. Am sure that they would've made it, even without KickStarter, as their heart seems to be in the right place.  It's definitely a different world in the San Juan Islands.  Have been to Orcas Island and it was awesome, though little too far removed for me.

1 Second Everyday App


This app is great!  While I'm not that great at remembering to add something every day, it's great when it happens as good to look back and see, in 30 seconds, what happened during the past month.  It took awhile to get the Android version out, but knew that when backing.  These are the video's I've produced!  Some sniffles are produced, some great times remembered, still wondeful!


My Life_Nov 23 2013 - Dec 24 2013.mp4 from Richard on Vimeo.


My Life_Dec 30 2012 - Dec 31 2013.mp4 from Richard on Vimeo.


My Life_Jan 01 2014 - Jan 31 2014.mp4 from Richard on Vimeo.

ZERO TO MAKER: A Re-Skilling Guide for New Makers!


Received an actual book on this, and while am not even close to finishing it yet, it's a very good portrayal of the struggles, challenges, and victory, that he had on his steep learning curve to creating his first project!

It shows that we can do whatever we set our heart to, so long as have that burning desire to succeed, and have something we can believe in!

Dark Energy Reservoir: Premium Portable Charger


Finally got this one, after many delays.  The design of the product, while not as promised, is very nice.  The project creators finally delivered, after many delays and at least one outright lie.  I haven't kept up to date with the talk on this project, but am utterly disappointed.  It fluctuates extremely, most of the time barely holding a charge on phone (with screen off), and once in a blue moon, it will actually charge my phone as if plugged into a wall.  Am sure it's not my phone (have a Samsung Note II) even though it's larger than the "standard" phone.  This one am definitely not thrilled about, though they did deliver.

Not Funded

End of Fate - An Open World RPG


This looked like a real interesting game, unfortunately didn't make the cut.  It was 'standard' in that there isn't much to the game, but felt good in supporting someone's dream, for a modest investment!

Ant Farms 2


This game seemed a little cute, though not my thing.  While it wasn't funded, like the other projects I've backed, do get a reward in helping someone's dream become a reality, even if it wasn't meant to be.

THORVALLA an RPG by Guido Henkel


I was really hoping that this game would make it, but they pulled the plug on it due to lack of interest.  The story sounded intriguing, though everything else reminded me of a typical RPG game.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

To one and to all, have a great, and "productive", Valentine's Day.

Came across a thread on Reddit which struck a chord with me, of a similar guy (two similarities) who took a year to travel around the country.  Timing of it was perfect for me to put it here, very thought provoking, interesting, etc.  Things always happen for a reason.

IamA single guy who quit his job and spent the last year crossing the country, interviewing over 100 of America's most amazing couples about what it's like to be in love AMA!



There are quite a few favorite parts of this thread, and I have, in no way, read the whole thing, but he does have a website:








Absolutely. This was actually one of the most surprising things I learned on the journey.


Self Love


The happiest couples always consisted of two (sometimes more) emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. These people practiced self-love. They treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner... or at least they tried to.


Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it's most difficult.


Commitment


After that emotional health came an unquestioning level of commitment. The happiest couples knew that if shit got real, their significant other wasn't going to walk out on them. They knew that even if things got hard - no, especially if things got hard - they were better off together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.


Trust


Happy couples trust each other... and they have earned each others' trust. They don't worry about the other person trying to undermine them or sabotage them, because they've proven over and over again that they are each other's biggest advocate. That trust is built through actions, not words. It's day after day after day of fidelity, service, emotional security, reliability.


Establish that foundation, and you're in good shape.


Intentionality


This is the icing on the cake. There's a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. (Yes, that's a true story.) There's a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck... or nothing at all. There's a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience... even if it means their partner has to stage kiss another woman.


The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship.

One more quote that stuck out at me, and I see people constantly getting this wrong constantly.
Yes! Resolving disagreements was one of the topics that came up the most.
Here's what I learned:

Don't Fight To Win

A huge number of couples talked about how they didn't fight against each other. I mean, if you're in love, you should be playing for the same team. Your goal should be to resolve the issue, not to emerge victorious over the love of your life... and let's be honest, you just feel guilty when you win anyway.

Seek to Understand

If you're having a hard time playing on the same team, stop fighting and instead try to understand why your partner is upset. Typically what's being talked about isn't the real issue. People are inherently bad at being vulnerable, especially in threatening situations. Be willing to ask sincere questions. Let the answers sink in. If she is complaining that you're spending too much time at work, maybe the real issue is that she misses you, and wants to feel connected with you. Rather than arguing about how you're providing for the family, and she needs to respect how hard you work, try to listen to what she's really saying. Then hold her. Come home early one day, and surprise her with a date, or some special one-on-one time. Reassure her that she, and your relationship, are a priority for you. If you don't want that same issue to arise again, keep investing in the solution.

Just Be Nice To Each Other

Seriously. Don't be a jerk. Don't call names. Don't take jabs. Don't try to hurt the other person. Argue naked if it helps... but just be kind and civil a[n]d respectful. It will prevent so many bad things from happening.

Final Question/Answer

Question:



Out of all the couples you've interviewed what specific event/story were you told about that made you think, "Oh, hot damn. THIS is what love is."

Answer:



This quote from this interview was the exact moment that I experienced that feeling:
"At the end of Ty’s life, I want him to be able to say, 'Terri was the greatest earthly blessing in my life - the best thing that ever happened to me - and that I’m a better man because of how she loved me. And that’s the goal that I live with every day. That’s how I want to love this man.'"

My parents have all of this down pat!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Toxic Foods

I was listening to the Coast to Coast AM from last night and figured would document this NOW before I forget and lose it.

Among other things, Dr. Ted Broer talked about the top 10 foods to avoid.  Hearing him explain why makes total sense.  Try and eat organic when possible.  While I am not close to avoiding everything on this list, am taking steps to reduce, or eliminate, these items from my diet.

1) High fat meats such as bacon and hot dogs, which contain sodium nitrates
2) Aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in diet drinks and other products
3) Margarine, and products that contain trans fat (use organic butter instead)
4) Shellfish, generally contains too much contamination
5) Junk foods (like Twinkies), and products with high fructose corn syrup
6) Soy products, tend to increase estrogen levels
7) Fluoridated and chlorinated water, act as endocrine disruptors
8) High fat dairy products, and non-organic dairy (have bovine growth hormones)
9) Coffee, elevates harmful cortisol levels
10) Alcohol, habitual or daily use causes problems

I am not making any health claims, nor giving medical advice.  Always talk with your doctor and/or healthcare professional prior to making any dietary changes.

Some KickStarter Projects I've backed

I've been slacking off in my backing as of late, but really enjoy being able to help people achieve their dreams, even if it turns out not to be their cup of tea.  For the most part have been very happy, and have gotten something from the projects.  Though there's always one or two which don't live up to expectations.  Not all are successful, in initial funding or in final delivery.

Two wheeling America


While this is about motorcycles, and I'm into scooters, backed this to raise awareness.  Haven't had any update on it since October, which is fine, as the funding they raised was only to generate a pilot, supposedly to hawk to television places.  Am happy!

Minion, Wireless Dev Board


I have received this and it looks great!  Unfortunately don't have a use for this (yet), but will be working on a use fairly soon within the RV so things can talk to each other wirelessly.  I prefer to run cables, but sometimes this isn't possible for a variety of reasons.

Have some projects to work on, namely fixing my ailing water heater, and some other nifty improvements I want to make, where integrating this could help.  That is, if start focusing.

TGT


While overpriced for what it is, am extremely happy with this project.  It is something I use every day.  It's very convenient, slim (mostly), and convenient.  It's made in the USA, Brooklyn I believe, and it supported someone's dream, even though it was more of a "dream" than they realized, haha.

It's basically a piece of elastic fabric (the one I have) which holds license, cash, cards, whatever of that size.  And it's GREAT!  This is my wallet and only (mostly) carry necessities in here.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted


This is a game of stealth, deception, and a little action now and then, though the action HURTS.  And, it's a very unique game.  I'm all about uniqueness.  It has a very interesting setting, in that am a live human, and have been trapped on an island, well actually, five islands.  Goal is to collect many artifacts scattered throughout, which will allow me to get off the island, while avoiding humanoid robots.  The robots have blunderbusses, hot-air balloons, and now, levitating robotic horses.

Very far fetched, not very realistic (in the story), but still a wonderful game!  Not really my type of game though, but that's not the point, it's all about helping with diversity!

What happens when you Die

This project wasn't successful, though it was the second project backed.

Some things in life we'll never know until it happens, such as loss and love, and this is one of those things that falls into that category.  It would've been a documentary about Near Death Experiences.

Shaker, an RPG


Was saddened when this one was cancelled, prior to being funded.  Liked the premise of the game, and it would've been fun to play. Am hoping they'll restart, or start another project.

My Alien Science Project


Only backed this because it came from my home town, and had an interesting premise for a children's book.  If did receive it, unsure what would've done with it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

LA Area - Vegas + January Video

Sunday left the place I was camped out, Eagles Aerie #506.  This is a very good lodge, situated a little far from downtown LA.  The people here are top notch, the camping area is very very nice, with real grass, real trees (and leaves), water, and electricity, even a dumping station!

They almost always have something going!  Bingo Thursday and Saturday, steak and karaoke on Friday, Taco Tuesday, and a host of other things!  Extended my stay here another week because it is a good place, people are good, and everyone is friendly.

Didn't go many places here, went to one great mexican restaurant which will be featured in my 1SE video for February.

Sunday packed everything up and came back to Vegas.  The highway driving isn't all that fun or exciting, especially in an RV.  It's slow going, and for the most part, it's set the cruise and forget about it.  There are some occassions that I have to pass a very slow car, or more often, pass a trucker, but other than that don't really have to worry.

While I don't enjoy the traffic here in the city, there's always something to do.  Was just talking with someone today about all the different shows, not to mention all the gambling and other activities.

Same person I talked to said I also had to check out some restaurants.  Asked them for suggestions, on what they enjoy, instead of what I want to do, as it's all about getting out of the same ole thing rut we all get into, and try something new, exciting (hopefully), and just different.

Some restaurants/bars to check out (NOT the heart-attack grill, erkh)

Hash House A Go Go - When was first told about this place I thought it was a pot haven, or a bar full of go go girls.  Have been assured it's neither of those, but they do serve awesome food and this was first place which was recommended.  Have to come here for breakfast!

Peppermill Fireside Lounge - This is actually on the strip, well, end of the strip, and was second place I was told about.  Plan to be checking out the strip this weekend sometime so will time it to get here when hungry.  They also serve a fair portion for the price, from what was told.

Hofbrauhaus - I have a "small" weakness for German food, and beer too, but no more beer.  Was told I MUST check this place out, as it was third on the list.  While it's a little pricey, do get a good amount of food for the price.  Am sure they have tons of German beer, will make sure to take a picture for all of you beer afficionado's out there.  Hopefully they have Yaeger J├Ąger fries (half way down is quick description), at least that's name I was told, which are french fries with a light brown gravy and mushrooms.  It's vaguely similar to the Canadian Poutine (with cheese curds instead of mushrooms), but this is a dish had in Germany, around the town of Bad Bruckenau, at an outdoor restaurant, in a galaxy far far away, and a long long time ago.

The End - So, not sure what type of trouble I've gotten myself into, but asked the person for a place, which served food, that can ONLY be found in Vegas...  First thing they popped out with was this place.  It's a Zombie themed bar in "Old Vegas".  Not sure if should be excited to go here, or a little wary...  Will find out relatively soon.

VIDEO




My Life_Jan 01 2014 - Jan 31 2014.mp4 from Richard on Vimeo.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Filastruder assembly - from KickStarter

Some time ago I backed a filament extruder project on KickStarter called Filastruder.  I finally got around to setting it up and was very successful actually extruding from it.  Quite pleased and happy with myself.

This project took way longer than it should have, due to what I consider icky instructions and a "slap me silly" moment or two (actually two).

My "number" is 151, and it's Version 1.1.  Look forward to many many pounds of plastic extrusion through this beast.  I found it actually pretty well engineered, using mostly off the shelf parts and put into a nice little kit.

The Build


Inventory
First step is actually taking inventory.  Here I just did a quick check to make sure have all the parts that should be included.  In terms of bags of parts didn't inventory those at this stage, just made sure had the bag and fondled the bags to gawk at the parts, looking them over, and making sure nothing was bent, broken, etc.  At this stage everything looked pretty darn good.

Two of the first steps are:
  • Debur nipple cutout with file, dremel, or deburring tool
  • Grind lips of nipples until there is no ridge left on inside of nipple

Nipple before deburring
I have no idea what a nipple is, in this context.  Eventually figured it out after gawking through the bags again.  There was this long pipe with the cutout.  It is somewhat hard to see in the picture, but there is some pieces of metal which needs to be trimmed off.  Took the picture with the handy dandy "dremel" tool from Harbor Freight..  Eewww..

All done, oh so shiny!
Most times, especially with electrical tools, it pays to get the real stuff, the real deal.  The dremel tool was barely adequate, in that it did the job, was able to successfully finish the piece, as shown, but it took me at least twice as long as normal.  Used a cutoff wheel to get rid of the big pieces, then a diamond thing to get everything flat and smooth and oh so nice feeling.

Closeup view - straight on
Close up view of one end of opening
Notice that the inside is a little on the rusty side.  This is the black iron pipe that I've seen used in things such as natural gas piping for homes.  I forget the actual name of it, and am sure there are many other uses for this black pipe.  Will have to run a bunch of filament through here to get rid of the rust, before feeding the filament through my new 3D printer which should be in my hands within couple of months!  Can't wait, hence why am assembling this now, gives me chance to have the plastic smell.

Initial assembly
This is another place where I felt the instructions could've been made quite a bit clearer.  Looking back on it, after have it figured out, it all makes sense.  While assembling though put these parts on in the reverse order.  Had to watch a youtube video by someone who has the same version number before it finally clicked.  While this wasn't cause of my problems later on, am sure it didn't help, though am also sure it would've worked regardless, assuming everything else was done properly.  What had reversed was the shaft collar, thrust bearing, and the bushing.  Again, after the fact I should've picked up on it, such is life.  At least it's fixed now, and it's proper.

Auger inserted into shaft and secured to support
All in all, this part was mostly start forward, with exception of above.  Four bolts, nylon spaces, hopper, and all that happy jazz.  It is surprisingly sturdy and solid.  Most, if not all, of these parts, with exception of the hopper, are off the shelf so easy to replicate or find replacements.

Motor mount
Unbeknownst to me, this gear motor had to  be positioned in a certain manner so this part took one or two times to get right.  It was unclear exactly how this was to be mounted so put it on the wrong way.  Couple steps later, when had to actually mount this whole part, things were not lining up as they should have.  The connector piece was at an odd angle and am pretty sure it was meant to be straight to keep unwanted forces at bay.  Moral of the story is to test fit (which I did) prior to locking everything in place.
YAY Tools!, err, washer too

So, this socket, the wonderful DeWalt Impact Ready socket, is labeled as a motor/auger coupling.  I actually thought it was meant to tighten some of the bolts down.  Oh woe is me.  When putting the socket (end which fits on the ratchet), onto the auger motor shaft, it spins freely which is generally not good.  That is what the washer is for, to provide the extra material to prevent the free spinning.  It was a little wobbly but still sufficient, if everything is assembled properly.  I had issues, but people tell me I always have issues.

Socket, washer, and auger
The business end of the socket fit like a glove onto one end of the auger.  Used the weak "dremel", or rotary, tool to flatten one side.  Had to put washer in a small vice and then grind down one edge until it fit into the square end of the socket..  There really is a joke here about fitting a round thing into a square hole, but exact words escape me.  However, it's all complete and ready for the auger motor!

Heating element
Shaft with coupling/heater
Next step was to attach the coupling onto end of the nipple, and then wrap it in a heating element.  There is a brass plug in here too, which is seen later.  This part is actually fairly straight forward as coupling just screwed on, the heater element fit nicely around the coupling, and used an allen wrench to tighten it down.

The brass plug actually goes into the other end of coupling, as shown.  In the inventory picture I have three plugs, a blank one, one for 1.7mm and 3mm filament.  Am happy got the 3mm filament one as saw a new printer at the 3D world expo in LA that actually uses 3mm, though for the most part new printers use 1.7mm, which think offers more precision for extrusion.

Completed extruder section
Here can see the completed section with brass plug, insulation, hopper, and everything else in place where it should be, in an ideal world.


Motor mount mounted
Now it's time to assemble all these pieces into one fully functioning machine.  A couple quick screws on the bottom secured the motor mount to the board.  A quick note on the board, it's one I grabbed while was on Vashon Island, and it looks to have been part of decking or something.  Unsure what it's old use was, but it's new use is to hold everything together!

Auger and motor joined
Next up was to mount the actual filament extruder and joint it to the auger motor.  The instructions said to make sure it's a tight fit and that there is no movement, i.e. have some pressure between the two so it's not all sloppy when running.  It actually makes sense and was able to pull it off pretty well at this point!  Secured it with couple more screws from the bottom, and two plastic angle brackets.  Pretty nicely done.
Drilling out fan holes

Due to reusing a board that was "almost" long enough, had to figure out some way to mount the cooling fan.  While am sure this way will cause me challenges in the future, especially since am in an RV, only way could do it now.  The original plans called for it to be on the "other side" of the fan mount board, which would keep it protected from the additional risk of being snapped off.  Didn't have the luxury due to length of the mounting board.

Fan mounted
This was the final step, prior to installing the electronics and wires, of the instructions.  Picture on the left shows fan mounted, as well as the completed Filastruder, sans electronics.  Looking back on it, after successfully extruded, it was a fairly simple and straight forward process, assuming understood the instructions.
Lonely left-over

This led me to reinventory and identify if had any parts leftover which didn't have a home, or I forgot.  Found this one piece.  It's a reducer to go from one size pipe to another.  Scanned the instructions thoroughly and didn't see anyplace where this was referenced at all so it goes into box of unknown parts, or I ziptie it to the extruder...

One minor complaint I had was they didn't show pictures of everything wired up.  There are two schematics in the install guide which have to follow in order to wire things up.  These schematics are for different types of controllers (for the heater).  I was following the wrong one, and when got to last step in there was looking for a #2 connection point that didn't exist.  This is when I went, ruh-roh, and saw the other schematic.  Had to rewire at this point a little, not too bad.

Nastiness
After had wired everything up, turned it on of course.  Did a dry run and everything seemed fine..  When put in pellets to start the extrusion process they went backwards.  At this point the solution was simple but for the life of me had a huge brain turd and the solution didn't come to me.  Spent a lot longer than necessary trying to figure out why pellets were going backwards.  The simple solution was the motor, but I refused to believe it was that as had the red wire hooked up to the terminal marked with a red dot.  Right, right?  Turns out, long story short, just reversed the wires and it extruded perfectly.

Things in right order
But, this gave me the opportunity to fix a wrong I had made.  Pointed out above that had put things onto the auger shaft in the wrong order.  To clean up this mess had to take everything apart so watched that youtube video (trying to figure out why auger was going in reverse (duh)), got correct order of these parts, and fixed them.

AAAHH, extrusion
Was very elated to finally get an extrusion.  It was quite dirty at first due to black pipe goodness, but it cleaned up quite well, though still has a little more to go before it's pristine.

When had motor going right way, the extruder tightened itself up which threw off the hopper a little, as shown here.

 It's a little hard to see, but there is a thermistor, which measures temperature, in end of the brass plug.  The instructions called for wrapping it in Kapton tape, which is a resistant to high temperatures.  Didn't have any handy so chose to go through my garbage, grab piece of aluminum foil, wrap that around the brass thing and secure it all in place with a hose clamp.  This seems to work very nice!

Closer view of extrusion
 If get the opportunity to do another one of these, I know which steps to do, and not to do, and which parts to pay more attention to.  This was a little challenging, some names were threatened to be called.  In the end was victorious without having to call in reinforcements, or post a "HELP ME" thread to message boards.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Roofing on the way!

Roof on this wonderful RV of mine looks to be the original rubber roof, and it definitely shows it's age.  Seems like every time I climb up there see another sign of shrinkage and other things which need patching.

So, I have JUST ordered (yesterday) my new roofing material, from Grizzly Grip.  Will be receiving it late next week.  Saw the idea for this type of roofing, though different material/manufacturer, from this post on RV.net forums.  Seems like it's a fairly simple thing to do and not all that complex.  They put it on in one heavy coat and have developed a couple leaks, due to some thin spots here and there.  I plan on following instructions (ssshhh, I normally don't) and do it in two coats.

Will be posting pictures of the whole process.  Saturday will most likely start cleaning and what not, and actual application will be later.

Other happenings

Nevada DMV

It's been a while since have jotted down my travels.  I was in Palm Springs when received e-mail from mail forwarder stating I had a certified letter arrive from the DMV.  It was a very quizzical moment as knew had to get the VIN inspected though was under impression (after calling them) that it wasn't all that big of a deal.

Turns out they are little sticklers for having insurance on vehicles, and they use the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to match up electronic feed from insurance company to registration.  I knew, after receiving a letter from them, that the VIN they read didn't match up to the VIN on the original title I received from the seller.  This was very troublesome in that had to make special trip.

Left Palm Springs (actually Eagles club in Coachella, CA) and drove to Pahrump, NV, before they suspended the registration.  It was a REQUIREMENT that it be read at a Nevada DMV office.  One thing that hurt me, though I totally expected it (avoided filling up in CA), is that I put in 77 gallons of diesel into the tank upon arrival..  That hurt seeing the numbers keep going up n up n up.

Got to the DMV office, and after waiting two hours was called up.  It was funny in a way, just the mentality, in that the lady who helped me started blaming me, then the insurance company, for having an incorrect VIN.  I simply stated, as tactful and respectful as possible, that it was an incorrect reading by the prior DMV employee, and she just had to accept that.  This prompted her to get the VIN read, and by golly, I was correct.

So, after another hour I was able to leave, though it wasn't truly "fixed" in the computer.  The manager, Deb, actually had to do some weird funky stuff, like creating a new "record" (registration I assume), and then the IT folks would merge it the next day.  Either way I walked out with a fixed registration.

After spending 3 hours there, I left soon as they told me to.  Turns out I also left my license (they had it in paperwork and I forgot they had it), so had to go back the next day.  Then, a day later Deb, the manager, called me back stating that everything was good'ish.  YAY, but still 3 hours out of my life I would've not liked to spend there, not to mention drive up there and back.

Pahrump, NV


While in Pahrump, stayed at the Escapee's park, Pair-A-Dice, and it was a fairly good park with a very reasonable weekly rate ($90).  Was quite happy and will be back here if have to come back.  Great people, great comraderie, and just a wonderful feeling.

Acton, CA


I stayed in Acton for 3 days, and then I had to "rage leave", in that cell service there was very iffy, as place was in a canyon, and internet that day was very very spotty.  The campground was fairly nice, except for lack of cell and reliable internet service.  If don't need those two would come back here.

The town was a very nice, quaint town.  Was very happy as went to local pizza place, local grocery store, etc., and really like the area due to it's "small town" feel.

Los Angeles, CA


When decided to leave Acton, truly had no idea where I would be going.  Planned on going to the 3D Printer World Expo in the area so closer to there was my goal.  My first destination was an Eagles Club in Downtown LA, somewhat close to the docks.  On phone they said I could "try and come", though there was very limited parking available.  As between rock and a hard place set destination there first.  Got there and it wasn't pretty.  Not exactly easy to drive RV through the streets and am sure people were thinking who that crazy person was.  Found quiet spot to pull over and called another eagles club, in Riverside.  They have RV parking but referred me to one in San Bernardino as they have full hookups.

Long story short, got to San Bernardino around 9 PM, spent night in parking lot, and then got a nice site the next day.  There's actually real trees and real grass!! Price is right, $12 a day.  They have a dump station but not "full hookups" as have to drive to dump the yukky stuff.  Still a very nice area and very nice people here.  Would do again, but drive straight from Acton and save 3+ hours of driving.

Turns out Acton is closer to the Expo than San Bernardino, but at least have internet and cell phone!