Wednesday, March 23, 2022

An Under Cover Operation

Not that long ago I bought some cheap motorcycle covers to keep the deadly solar radiation from fading the plastics on my bikes. They've been doing a bang-up job of this, for the most part. but it seems that they are not, themselves, immune to the very ultraviolet rays they're designed to protect against.

The black material up top has fared ok, but the silvery material at the bottom has gone all papery and brittle, and will tear itself to bits if you so much as look at it funny.

So, I decided that I would see what the other end of the price scale can deliver in the motorcycle cover market.

The difference is pretty dramatic. There's a lot of fabric here; the other covers were a barely-there nylon material, whereas this cover is made out of a weighty stretch fabric of some sort.

Of course, it'll be a few years before I can see how well it puts up with being baked in the California sunshine, but so far I think I like it a lot better.

I may try to repair the other motorcycle covers by replacing the silver material with some decent quality fabric, or I might just get a whole new set of covers for the other bikes, but that's a decision for another day.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Slimming Down

So I inherited a whisk a while back, the proceeds of an estate sale picked up for a dime and passed on to me to fill my kitchen when I moved out. It was a decent whisk, good all-metal construction, but had its age on it. It aged enough that the chrome finish had worn off in places, and the non-stainless steel beneath was rusting.

Thus, it came time to replace it.

The old whisk is a balloon whisk, which is named for its wide, balloon-like shape. There's nothing particularly wrong with this sort of design, save for the fact that it does take up a bit more space in a drawer than a standard whisk, which is what I decided to replace it with. No matter the kitchen, space for tools and utensils will always be a consideration.

There are certainly other whisks I might add to my collection later. Perhaps a flat whisk for making sauces, or the miraculous dough whisk which is an amazing tool for bringing together doughs.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Jamieson Road

A while back I did quite a long ride on Purple Haze, 90 miles in total, which took me up Roop Rd and down Cañada Rd (among many other places). About half way through Cañada, though, there's a T-junction where Cañada Rd goes right and Jamieson Rd goes left. I'd been wondering for a while how far left it goes, as the street view cuts off just beyond a gate that, according to the images, is sometimes open and sometimes closed.

So I hopped on Gregg this time and motored up there to take a look. It turns out that the gate does indeed mark the end of the publicly accessible road, which is a bit of a bummer, but at least the scenery up there is nice.

This is definitely a road made to be ridden on two wheels.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Puff Pastry Pork Pot Pies

Didn't take a lot of photos of cooking up this month's batch of pot pies, but I figured I'd get a few highlights.

First up, a little shot showing the ring of pastry I've started using rather than a whole bottom shell.

This serves a few purposes. For one thing, the filling cooks a bit quicker since there's less insulation on the bottom so the heat from the oven conducts in much better. Secondly, I don't have to worry about getting that bit of mushy, undercooked crust in the middle of the bottom. Finally, it works better with the amount of puff pastry that I've been making: one half batch can be split into 1/3 for the bottoms and 2/3 for the top, rather than trying to stretch 8 pieces into full bottoms and tops.

Anyway, the assembled pies look quite nice.

I trimmed the excess top shell this time rather than trying to shove it into place. As much as I try, it's really not easy to try to roll a rectangle into a circle. But that does leave me with a dilemma: what to do with the trimmed off bits of puff pastry?

20 minutes at 400f takes care of them quite nicely.

Some other notes:

I used 1/4c flour and 1/4c oil to make the roux to thicken the filling. This turned out to be a good amount for the 4 pies.

My bacon went moldy on me and I had to throw it out rather than use it in these pies. As such, the pies are literally inedible and bring shame upon me and my meager cooking skills. By which I mean it actually tastes just fine without it, but in the future I'll be freezing the leftover bacon rather than trusting the combination of refrigeration and curing to keep the nasties at bay.

Broiling the pork after brining it overnight worked really well. I do love broiler pans, they're a miracle of modern science.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to munching on these over the next month. They should be quite tasty.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

These shoes aren't made for walking

But that's not what they're meant to do. So you can rest assured that one of these days these shoes aren't gonna walk all over you.

These have been my main road bike shoes for a number of years now, and they've generally served me quite well. However, I had noticed that the inside of the heel on the left shoe felt a little odd, and at first I thought it felt like a fabric layer had come unglued and curled up or something, causing a bit of a lump there that seemed to partially go away when I tried to rub it with my fingernail to smooth it out again.

So, I finally decided to do a little shoe-surgery and glue down that pesky bit of fabric.

Or so I thought.

It turns out that the heel of these shoes is reinforced with a piece of plastic, which is apparently a little bit on the brittle side. Or, at least, is now a little bit on the brittle side, judging by the way it shattered into a bunch of crunchy pieces.

So, change of plans, then. First things first: gotta get rid of all that broken plastic.

The bottom bit where it was joined to the midsole was still pretty solid, so I left that part alone.

But now that the plastic was removed, I still needed something to keep the heel of the shoe from collapsing. And to make that something, I needed a template.

Turns out junk mail is actually useful sometimes. I managed to use this piece of glossy card stock to make a template, from which I could cut out a piece of 3~4 gram leather.

I probably should have got a fresh blade for the knife, but it worked out ok.

With a little extra trimming it fit pretty nicely.

Next up it needed to get glued in place, so out comes the Barge. For those who don't know, "barge" is so named because it's roughly how you pronounce "braincell death" after huffing its fumes for a bit too long.

I used a respirator.

It really is a trick to get the glue down in there without getting it literally everywhere, but somehow I managed to do it.

And the end result is seamless, you'd be hard pressed to tell I even had it pulled apart.

They're ready for the next ride.

And so am I.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Flower Power

The lavender seems to be happy today.

It's positively exploding with flowers

And with flowers come bees.

I believe this lovely lass is from a nest in a rotting tree a few doors down the road, but it's entirely possible she's from some other hive elsewhere. I felt it would be rude to ask.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

From Bear to Bare

Back when I got my Sprinter, it was immediately apparent that I would christen it as the PedoVan. After all, every child of the 80s and 90s knows that white, windowless vans are where it's at when it comes to getting free candy and puppies to adopt. I even gave a subtle nod to the meme by sticking a PedoBear sticker to the rear door.

However, time marches on, and stickers fade, and lately the sticker has been looking a bit more faded than I would have liked.

The sticker had served its purpose, and it was time to move on. Out came the heat gun, and off it peeled.

A little acetone cleaned up the sticker residue, and some cleaner wax helped blend in the slightly shinier spot in the paint.

The sticker might be gone, but the memories will always remain.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Flower Power

It's that time again.

First up is the new kid on the block, the saratoga bay laurel.

If I were being picky I'd say I'd rather it be growing roots rather than flowers right now, but I'll take it. At least it's not dead.

Next, the plum.

I thought that pruning it over the winter was supposed to stress it out. Maybe its stress response is to cover every single branch in flowers? Who knows.

Some geraniums, just because.

The periwinkle has popped back up after its winter haircut.

And finally, the daisies are being pushed up nicely.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

My Eyes Are Dim, I Cannot See

I have not brought my specs with me.

Over the past few years I've finally started to get to the point where I've noticed that my ability to focus close up isn't quite what it used to be. Which is to say, the minimum distance I can focus my eyes seems to have stretched out to maybe 10 inches, at least comfortably. Still plenty close enough to read and do basically anything other than very fine work up close without correction.

That said, when I'm doing some really fine work like painting my nails or maybe some sewing tasks, getting a bit more up-close and personal can be nice.

Enter: cheap amazon reading glasses.

These were listed as "1.5x", which you'd think would mean 150% magnification or something like that, where the "1x" version would imply just flat glass lenses with no correction. But the fact that they also offered "0x" as an option, which otherwise makes literally no sense, leads me think that what it actually means is diopters and they're just being stupid about how they write it.

A nice bonus is that because they're plastic lenses they block most UV light, which means I don't have to worry as much about cooking my eyes while I wait for my gel nail polish to dry, so that's kind of cool.

Anyway, I suppose it's nice that I didn't waste the $15 I spent getting 5 pairs of these, though I don't expect I'll be making too much use of them for another 5 or 10 years at least. Maybe by then we'll have some sort of stem cell fanciness where we can just grow new lenses in a test tube and I really will have wasted that $15 after all.

Time will tell.