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    Growing from Seed: Jiffy-7

    2012 - 06.09

    For Easter Karin got some seed starting kits, and she’s had pretty good success with them so far.  In fact so much success that she needed to give away a bunch of the seedlings because they all sprouted.  So that’s pretty cool, and maybe she’ll talk more about her experience herself.

    The point of this post though is to expound a little bit on the Jiffy-7 Pellets which are very interesting things.  They are an integral part of the seed starting greenhouse that Karin used, and you would think that because they are called Jiffy-7 that you could just go anywhere and buy additional pellets and refill your greenhouse.  You’d think that, right?

    Well it turns out that the pellets come in different sizes, which isn’t really that problematic, but you’d think that they might be Jiffy-1, Jiffy-2, Jiffy-5, Jiffy-7 pellets and such.  Turns out that logical system doesn’t apply to the Jiffy pellets, regardless of size, they are all called Jiffy-7 and they go from about 18mm to about 60mm.  What this really means is that it’s significantly more difficult to find the right size pellet, because they all have the same name, and the sizes are not always clearly marked or indicated either on the boxes of additional pellets, bulk pellets or on the Jiffy Greenhouses themselves.

    So the bottom line is that they are a great product, but that you need to be especially careful that you know what size you’re looking for so that you aren’t disappointed.

    Oldies But Goddies at Gog.com

    2012 - 05.30

    I’ve been to gog.com before, but not in a while, and I think every time I discover it I try to forget about it because I see how much money and time I could spend there, or on their products.  But talking about Space Quest 7 got me thinking about these older games again, and they have some real gems, and they are priced for the most part at $5.99 or $9.99 USD.  In most cases the games will run on Windows 7 (at least of the ones I looked at), but it tells you right on the site what OSes they work on, but typically there’s more variety and support than the original version of the game, and if not, it’s still cheaper than the original release price.  Here’s some examples of some gems on the site:

    There are more, but those are some of my favourites, there’s many games on the site that either I never got around to finishing, or I didn’t get a chance to play the first time around.  Definitely worth taking a look.


    Crunchy Top Brownies

    2012 - 03.01

    Hmmm, don’t know if this is true or not, but I do know that I’ve personally had conversations with people about brownies (I like brownies, got a problem with that?) and how they got the top on the brownies.  Personally I don’t think that I’ve ever called it a “crust”, but I suppose that’s what it really is.

    Anyway, the article “Perfectly Sweet: How to Get a Crunchy Top on Brownies” has an explanation on why it happens and how to emphasize it should you want to.

    This may require some testing, I volunteer to try your brownies to see if they measure up, so get cooking ;-)

    Geek vs. Snob

    2012 - 02.28

    A while back one of my cousins posted about the concept of a Geek and how it is different from a snob, with a real life example.

    We were out one evening at a pizza parlor with some friends and their friends, and one person in the party was the son of a winemaker. One of the women, who wanted to drink some wine, asked him which wine he recommended. None of them, he said. Period. He didn’t even offer up a suggested beer or cocktail, and this woman either had to drink nothing, or ignore his advice. What a snob.

    Read more: http://candlewineproject.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/geek-vs-snob/

    I thought it was an interesting read, I also thought it was an interesting choice of terms.  I personally often think of Geek as a noun, and sometimes use it to describe myself.  In that context I’m usually thinking of it in terms of expertise with respect to computers.  I think however that she’s using it more as an adjective: Wine Geek, Cider Geek, etc…  I too use Geek in that way sometimes: Board game Geek.

    For me the difference really is that Geek when used in this way implies enthusiasm and if not a certain minimum level of expertise an aspiration towards it.  Snobbery on the other hand has an implicit negative connotation.  The inherent difference being that by calling someone a snob you’re making the value judgement that they are being condescending in the offering of their opinion (which may be based on just as much expertise as one offered by a geek).  So realistically it’s the way in which the opinion is offered, and not the opinion itself.

    I think the problem of distinction is exasperated by the sphere in which the example is presented: beverages (or more generally food).  Not everyone has the same tastes, and perhaps more interestingly not everything tastes the same to all people.  So even if one were talking about wines, you could have a much better made wine that was actually technically of higher quality, but it doesn’t mean that you would actually like it more, or at all.

    Take that to the sphere of technology instead and there are definitely clear external metrics which can objectively classify something as better than something else, and the subjective element although still present is less important, and less likely to be problematic.

    Getting back to the  central question though of whether or not one is a snob or a geek, I think that it’s not actually a difficult situation to avoid.  Geeks are valued for their knowledge; Snobs are derided for the manner in which they share their knowledge.  So if you want to be a geek and not a snob you share your expertise but in a non-judgemental way.

    If you find yourself asked to recommend a wine (and you have appropriate expertise) then you can indicate that you personally wouldn’t choose any of the ones that are offered, but that wine X is probably the best of the bunch (or would probably make the best pairing with what they’re having for dinner).

    That said a geek is also permitted to have the courage of their convictions.  By this I mean it’s totally alright to recommend against any of the choices if you have a good reason.  Ex: I honest believe that YOU would not be happy with any of the choices, or that you would later regret making one of those choices.  That’s not snobbery, that’s conviction (and well intentioned).

    Turf Goaltimate Kit: Illustrated Step by Step

    2011 - 12.19

    A while back I talked about my struggles to get Goaltimate to work on turf fields that you couldn’t physically anchor “into”, and documented a bit about how I thought I’d overcome those problems in “Turf Goaltimate Kit Reborn!“.  Well, it’s been 9.5 months since then and we’re still using and happy with that same system, so it’s probably about time I illustrate it a little better.  If you want the full part’s list, check that earlier post.


    Goaltimate Kit




    Goaltimate Kit


    Flange attached to half of shelf:

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit


    Goaltimate Kit


    Attach reducer to the flange/shelf assembly:

    Goaltimate Kit


    Assembled “base”:

    Goaltimate Kit


    Take the bushing, and put it on one end of the pipe: 

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit


    Insert the bushing/pipe assembly into the base:

    Goaltimate Kit


    Voila, a completed support (repeat for the other side):

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

    Now assuming that you have an actual Goaltimate arch (generally out of PVC pipe) you can insert each end of the arch into one of these supports, add an Ulti bag, sandbag or some other “weight” to the extended portion of the shelf to provide additional stability.  Ideally use something soft, or at least without any dangerous edges in case someone runs into it.  It should be possible to run into the completed assembly and have the weight move and/or the arch fall down and/or the support come apart.  All of those are definitely preferable to having a broken person.  In almost a year of use, these mechanism has survived tumbles and collisions, has been responsible for zero injuries, and has not needed to have any components replaced.

    Good luck, and let us know if you’re using it, or if you improve upon the design.

    Those are some nice headlights…

    2011 - 11.16

    As anyone who read yesterday’s post is aware, I went to Costco yesterday.  Left out of yesterday’s post is the fact that upon my return I noticed that I now have two burnt out headlights.  Not nearly as dangerous as it might sound since I still at least have fog lights, but still, a situation which I need to address before doing any more driving while the sun’s not out.

    Normally, I’d just get it done at the dealer, but trying to be frugal here, so I decided to look into it a bit more.  Turns out that you can spend a crazy amount of money on bulbs for your headlights, it’s pretty easy to spend $60+ (at least there’s lots of bulbs which appear to sell for that amount or more).  I still haven’t actually bought replacement bulbs yet, as the variety and relative price disparity of the various bulbs caused me to spend way more time doing research than I had allocated.

    Tomorrow I’ll hit Lordco and/or Canadian Tire and fix the problem.  Better hope I think of something better before tomorrow (or that Karin decides to post), otherwise you’ll end up with a post tomorrow “let there be light”.

    One thing that I didn’t realize before doing all this research was all the strange rules and regulations which applied to “headlamps” over the years, and I also didn’t realize that the low beam shape is different in countries where you drive on the right versus those where you drive on the left.  Having never given it that much thought I just assumed that the reason that high beams cause so much glare is because they are brighter and throw their light farther.  Turns out that it’s also because of the regulated shape of the low beams.  If you’re interested you can read all about it on Wikipedia (like I did).  The one thing that really stands out though is that despite all this regulation and thought that has gone into this, it’s still possible to improperly aim your headlamps… that seems like it should be a totally solvable engineering problem, maybe if someone mentioned it to the Dyson guy using cyclonic technology to suck the bulb into proper alignment…

    NPR: 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books

    2011 - 11.04

    I know that the 100 Book Challenge from last year isn’t over yet, but doesn’t mean you can’t think ahead.  Now strictly speaking this is not actually a list of “books” it’s a list of the top 100 books/series as selected by NPR listener’s (presumably).  So it’s an interesting list, and if you’re looking for recommendations on something to read, it’s probably not a bad place to start.  For those of you who have no interest in click on a link, here’s the top 10:

    1. The Lord of the Rings (series)
    2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (bk I)
    3. Ender’s Game
    4. The Dune Chronicles (by which I presume they mean the series of 6 books, now 7+ if you include the prequels written by his son and Kevin J. Anderson)
    5. A Song of Ice and Fire (series: this is the actual series name of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones epic)
    6. 1984
    7. Fahrenheit 451
    8. The Foundation Trilogy
    9. Brave New World
    10. American Gods

    So I’m only 6/10 out of the top 10, although that 6 represents: 3+1+1+6+4+3= 18 books (which is not counting the affiliated but not explicitly included in the entry books).  So I’m actually 18/23 for the top 10 (I haven’t read the 5th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series yet, which is where the extra 1 comes from).  I just think that 78.3% sounds better than 60%…

    Egg Nog?!?!?!??!

    2011 - 10.08

    Did a little shopping today as the larder was just about empty.  While I was there I found some Egg Nog.  I like Egg Nog, but I find that not all Egg Nogs are made equal.  The problem is that I never remember which one it is that I really like.  This time I think I hit the jackpot: Dairyland Original Egg Nog for the win!

    Publishing Buzzwords, Clichés and Euphemisms Decoded

    2011 - 09.08

    I believe that my sister pointed this post out to me: 40 Publishing Buzzwords, Clichés and Euphemisms Decoded.  Mostly they’re a little bit amusing, but this one I really liked:

    “literary”: “plotless” @MarkKohut Mark Kohut, writer and consultant

    There’s supposed to be 40 of them, I didn’t count, but they are alphabetical.  This one just seems to ring true in so many cases.

    Blueberry Glaze

    2011 - 09.04

    Regular readers may remember that Karin went blueberry picking a while back.   One of the things which she wanted to make in addition to jam was pie or tarts.  White Spot apparently does a fresh blueberry pie while they are in season and she just loves it.  So the goal was to approximate it.  Unfortunately this did not happen in a timely manner, mostly because I refused to spend $2.00 on Blueberry glaze from the store (it was on SALE for that price), and on top of it you still needed to supply your own sugar.  No thank you!

    This week her mother went blueberry picking again and provided Karin with a small supply of new fresh berries.  She had already baked the tart shells, so the only thing missing was the glaze.  Tonight, I made it.

    So the glaze recipe really is very very simple, and I would recommend that you experiment a little yourself if you’re feeling it.

    1 cup/250ml – sugar
    1 cup/250ml – water
    3 tbsp/50ml – corn starch (heaping tablespoons)
    1 cup/250ml – berries [optional]

    1. If you’re lazy, throw everything in a sauce pan over medium-high heat stirring frequently with a whisk, bring to a boil and allow to thicken before removing from the heat.
    2. If you’re less lazy, add the sugar, 3/4 cup water and 1 cup berries (if using) to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  The berries will add colour and flavour to the glaze, making it a ____berry glaze instead of just a generic glaze.  This is optional.
    3. Combine the corn starch and the remaining 1/4 cup water, stir well until completely combined.
    4. Add the corn starch mixture to the sauce pan, stirring while bringing it back to a boil.
    5. The glaze should thicken, remove from heat.  Depending on what you’re doing you may choose to allow it to cool at this point.
    6. You may either pour the glaze over things now, say a pie crust filled with fresh berries, or you can add the berries directly to the glaze, stirring until completely coated, and then spooning into tart shells or onto pound cake (that’s what we did).
    7. All of this should take less than 15 minutes.  Enjoy.

    Below you’ll find a few pictures of the end result.  It should work find with pretty much any fruit or berry.

    Blueberry tartsBlueberry tartsBlueberry tartsBlueberry tartsBlueberry tartsBlueberry tarts
    Glazed Blueberries on pound cake

    Blueberry Glaze, a set on Flickr.

    Normally Karin’s the take pictures of food I made person in the family, but the camera’s been used a lot in the last couple of days so was really handy, so I figured why not.