Saturday, February 28, 2009

We eat pretty well

2 Portobello mushrooms
1 can of salmon or crab meat
some chopped green onion
a bit of tartar sauce
crumbled taco chips (corn meal would likely work too)
Mix the filling, put it in the mushroom caps and top with some grated cheese. Bake at 350 for as long as it takes.

any mild flavoured fish fillets (ocean perch or walleye for example)
sour cream
a bit of lemon juice and a little mustard
lots of finely chopped fresh dill
Mix the sauce, place the fillets flat in a baking dish, spread the sauce thickly over the fillets and bake at 350 until the fish is almost done. Then broil to turn the outside of the sauce brown. If done properly the sauce will still be moist next to the fish but with a brown crust on the outside.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dining out

It's no bloody wonder there's so many fat people in this world. We just got back from looking for a cat torture device - more on that later. We had intended to eat out in Orlando along the way but it turned out we weren't going to Orlando after all so we didn't. Shortly after we arrived here we ate at a place in Lake Wales and enjoyed it so that was our destination but then it turned out it didn't open until 4:00. Actually only 3:00 because these fools think its an hour later than it really is but regardless, the place wasn't open. So then we headed home to heat up some leftover chili.

But then SWMBO spotted Woody's Barbeque alongside the road. From the outside it looked like a slighly rundown MacDonalds complete with a drive thru so my expectations were low but she wanted barbeque so in we went. It turned out to be a pretty decent place to eat lunch. It was probably overpriced based on the assumption that one patron would eat one serving but that is where it disconnected from reality. We ordered the barbeque dinner for two. We needed at least two more to have even had a shot at eating everything they put in front of us.

I commented on the way into the place that it must be good because there sure were a lot of fat people eating there. Its no wonder we've got a worldwide epidemic of fat people when eating establishments that cater to the masses haven't got the faintest idea of what a normal portion should look like. For our part we got two meals for the price of one, and we didn't bring home nearly all the leftovers from our table.

Now back to the cat torture device. We're going to pick it up tomorrow. Check back then to see if it worked.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Potluck gospel hour

Last night was potluck night in the park. They do that once a month and its kind of fun in a hokey sort of way. The big thrill last night was that they had some dude lined up to sing gospel songs after supper was done. We made a slight strategic error in our seating location and almost got trapped but we managed to escape. Not surprisingly we weren't the only ones heading for the exits.

They do everything so early - what is it with old people eating early anyway? We were back at the bus by 5:15. They thought it was 6:15 but that still seems early to be done supper. We don't both switching our clocks. Time is such an arbitrary concept anyway. While the rest of the world is frantically spinning their clocks ahead in the fall and back in the spring (or whatever it is they do), Saskatchewanians soldier on secure in their correct time interpretation. We've both lived in Saskatchewan for so long without ever changing our clocks - it seems futile to start changing them now.

Its not just campgrounds full of oldsters that eat early. When we were in Regina to visit father we had to eat at 5:30 too. What's that all about? They've got a whole facility full of oldsters with nothing to do all evening and they have them all fed and watered by 6:00. At Vic Park I put it down to staff scheduling but here in the campground its just weird.

I spent most of my spare time in the last week hooking up LED lighting in the bus. It used to be lit almost entirely with those stupid little teardrop halogen bulbs that make more heat than they do light. They are incredibly popular for decorator lighting but for the life of me I don't know why. They make a harsh yellowish hue light and they get so hot its a wonder they don't start fires - maybe they do & I just don't know about them. Anyway, that was what we had. Whenever we were off the power grid and turned the lights on we could almost see the voltmeter going down. Ultimately we want to be able to spend more time disconnected from the electric utility. That will involve some solar panels at some point but the first step in the process was to reduce our consumption and that meant the halogens had to go. The halogen bulbs are also expensive and fail regularly so it wasn't any big hardship to get rid of them but the question was what to replace them with.

I found some marine LED lighting that claimed to be a plug and play solution for the halogens but they didn't work out well (not to mention being really expensive). I was able to make them work but I was happy that I hadn't bought a bunch of them. I ended up going to Rat Shack to buy a piece of circuit board and then ordering some individual LEDs online. I prototyped an LED array on the circuit board and it worked well. Then I went online and found a place that would build a circuit board to my spec. They had a neat little applet that I could download to design the circuit board and then the applet priced my order and eventually placed it. Those boards were waiting for us when we got back from Canada along with about 500 individual LEDs. I got all the boards soldered up and installed earlier this week and posted a description of my project on a bus BBS that I frequent. I immediately got roundly panned by an engineer because apparently I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

What I had done wasn't nearly as evil as the iron ring type suggested but there were definitely some things that I didn't know about LED design. Initially he suggested that my LED creation was actually dangerous which was just plain silly. My LEDs consume something like 20 milliamps compared with about 1 amp for the halogens that they are a direct replacement for so suggesting that they were an incremental hazard in the same fixtures was so stupid that I initially discounted everything else he had to say. Over time I came to accept that he likely did have some valid criticism despite the fact that he was also clearly a pompous asshole. So now I have a little resistor inline with my light modules which has slightly diminished their light output but the theory is that they will now last essentially forever. I still need to hook up one of the modules with no resistor as a control to see how long it will last in that configuration. We've also switched pretty well every other bulb in the bus to some type of an LED. We've still got a few of the halogens for those times when we are plugged in but we should have decreased our off-grid consumption by a factor of at least 25 times.

This is a good time to stop reading unless you are interested in design information related to LED circuits. I've always been fascinated by physics and electronics. I don't claim to understand the difference between Newtonian physics and Einstein's theory of general relativity but in principal I know that Newtonian physics breaks down at the extremes of small particles or high speeds. Similarly it appears that Ohm's law isn't actually the beginning and end of electronic theory. My little LEDs have a voltage drop which under Ohm's law would imply that they also have a finite resistance but - and I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around this - they don't really have a resistance. They will behave as if they had a resistance under a specific voltage (or alternatively behave as if they had a voltage drop under a finite current) but if that voltage or current changes they may simply burn themselves out rather than responding to the change in a "normal" fashion.

Over the past week I have learned more about this than I ever cared to learn. One thing that I already knew was that all electronic devices use smoke to operate. You may have noticed this in your own life. If you get a lightning strike or you hook something up wrong the first thing that happens is that the smoke escapes from the electronic device. Once the smoke has escaped then the device usually quits working. Some devices have more smoke in them and can afford to lose a little bit and still keep working but generally once they lose even a little bit of smoke they stop working. The risk with my little LED lights was never that they would burn the bus to the ground but rather that they would release their smoke and prematurely cease to provide light. These little guys are suppose to have something like a 100,000 hour lifespan which should be more than enough for the rest of the time we intend to use the bus.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Sometimes its refreshing to get away from the pablum that passes for news coverage on CTV & CBC. We find we watch CTV to see what is going on in Canada but after about 15 minutes they are into their loop and everything repeats. When we move on it is usually to Fox. We can't stand some of the more rabid personalities like Beck but for the most part Fox is a refreshing breath of free enterprise in a world of increasing entitlement.

Who ever said home ownership was a right? That's really what the current mortgage "crisis" down here is all about. Most of the so-called home owners who need to lose their homes aren't going to end up living on the street. And if they did, despite what CBC would have us believe, there are safety nets down here to catch them. What about all the responsible owners who didn't mortgage their homes to 110% of their value - where are their rights in this mess? What about those who chose to rent first until they could save up a reasonable down payment - who is advocating for them? Why should those responsible citizens now be forced to pay twice for their neighbour's recklessness? If the market isn't allowed to correct and instead is propped up with some Rube Goldberg combination of debt and regulation then they lose the opportunity to buy a home at a real price with real money. At the same time as they are denied that opportunity that they have patiently and prudently waited for they get the obligation to pay for their neighbours' profligacy through taxation and devaluation. Lucky them!

Meanwhile Obi-wan came to Canada to buy a snow ball. If that doesn't confirm what I have been saying about the fool all along then I don't know what does. Collecting trinkets has always been suspect for me but collecting those ridiculous little domes that "snow" when you shake them has to be the most foolish possible choice out of a universe of stupidity. Not only does he collect them - he thought it was an important enough task to staff out to somebody on his Presidential detail. Presidential? I don't think so. I recently heard him compared to Jimmy Carter. Hard as it is to imagine anyone less historically significant than the peanut farmer I think we are witnessing it right now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don't click this link

Whatever you do DON'T CLICK THIS LINK unless you have:

  • Time on your hands
  • No love for Telcos
You've been warned!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bark'n Ride

Those of you who live near to an airport will no doubt have seen a Park'n Ride. Well, there's an innovation on that system at the Orlando airport. We're not going to put G-II in one of them but only because Marilyn can't scout it out ahead of time. She spent this afternoon interviewing care facilities for her youngest son. Apparently there is a lot of money to be made boarding cats in this area. It looks like the furball will be spending the time while we are in Canada luxuriating in a cat "suite". Not for him any metal cage in a smelly room surrounded by other low-life cats. Nope - he gets his own room complete with window, climbing post and cat toys. And his own personal human to come play with him a minimum of three times a day.

You don't want to know what this all costs but then who am I to complain? I'll be forking out megabux for lift tickets before I get to come back here. Compared to lift tickets for me & three kids, a cat condo for 10 days will be insignificant.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Who's in charge?

On the one hand Michael Ignatieff's media handling is to be commended. I mean it was obvious the 6 renegade MP's were more afraid of Danny Williams than they were of Michael and were going to vote the regional line rather than the party line. And compared to Steffie Ding Dong's habit of stepping on his own shoelaces at least once a day a leader who can manage the media to any degree appears to be a winner. But who's driving the bus?

There's no doubt on the government side who is in charge. But who is really in charge on the other side? Today its the Atlantic accord and 6 renegade MPs but what happens when Ontario or Quebec wants something? Who's gonna be driving the bus then? Time will tell but Michael failed his first big test and he failed it spectacularly.