Friday, January 6, 2017

Cheap and Easy TV antenna

I made this simple TV antenna from things I had laying around.  

I didn't make a base or use a lazy susan, it will hang on a wall temporarily.

It will pick up all of the available channels to the south of me.  The main broadcast networks and a few more.  I'll need another simple antenna for the Fox affiliate to the west.

That one will be a double loop. Again I think I have everything I need here.

Both antennas will work indoors from an upstairs bedroom without amplification or reflector.

My issue right now is a DVR for off air channel recording and I have DirecTV down to $50 per month including the very fine DVR.

Tom is using a DVR, but they have a tuner stick and cloud DVR storage on the horizon.

I'll add a picture of the antennas when the loop antenna is complete.

Two zero one seven

Most of us have an opinion. It seems many of those with the opinion that bigger and more powerful government is better are now seriously worried that someone they don't agree with will now be wielding that power.

There is my highlight for the prior year ending with the last three letters s i x.

That year in my experience has been my worst.

There have been moving vans sighted at Trump's new Washinton DC property.  Looking on the brighter side. The hip-hop party culture is moving out. I really really really relate to Drain the Swamp.

Blogging in one form or another has been good therapy in the past. I can see this blog has been ignored for a while.

Sourdough is a real handy thing to have on the kitchen counter.

Koji is now cool.

Nearly free DIY TV antennas are fun to play with.

Firewood is good to have in the basement.

Foolish jewelry is fun to fool with.

Getting by is. Didn't mean to end that there, but it seems to be accurate.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Glass or wood as a speaker

In the past we have specified Solid Drive transducers to turn wood, glass or drywall into a speaker. They are quite expensive but very cool.  $500 each retail.

I subscribe to and one of this weeks projects is Hanging Glass Speakers.

Same concept as Solid Drive, I don't think I would do it that way, but astounding for the inexpensive components that are used for the transducers and amplifier.

$20 each for transducers and $18 for a 20 watt stereo amp!

I have a customer that used Solid Drive to turn a living room ceiling into surround left and right speakers and a kitchen floor turned into stereo left and right.

I'm tempted to get the components just to play with.

Charter eliminating "basic cable" in Charlevoix County (and around the country)

The Boyne City Gazette has the Public Notice in it's paper addition.

If you have Charter for TV and you don't have a set-top-box, you will have to get one and soon, March 25, 2014!

When the country went from analog to digital for all broadcast TV, many of the cable companies preserved the analog channels that they deliver, channels 2-69.

So older TV's with the old analog tuners could still get basic cable without a set-top box.

Analog TV signals takes up many times the bandwidth of a Digital signal.  So getting rid of analog frees up a ton of space for other uses.

Of course Charter does not make it easy to see what they are doing, you can see it here.

It won't be much of a big deal for the typical home owner but it can be a bit complicated for the hospitality industry that may still be using basic cable on a bunch of TV's

We can help.

Telephone Land Lines (POTS)

Last year AT&T filed petitions with the FCC to phase out Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) or land lines.

It kind of looks like the service to your home will still be an analog connection but the switching will be IP/VoIP, meaning your service will not really go away but the way calls get switched between customers will change.

I found this article in the January issue of a trade magazine.

The article mentions interesting statistics about the decline of the land line in Michigan.
What really grabbed my attention were the statistics cited in the article. Where there were 6.6 million POTS telephone lines in Michigan in 2000, now there are 2.6 million, with 1.4 million VoIP connections. You might ask what happened to the remainder of the POTS telephone lines that were active in 2000. That answer is simple; customers are rapidly going to wireless-only telephone service, with 9.3 million Michigan cell/smart phone connections in 2012 versus 3.5 million in 2000.
Over half of the land lines that were in use in 2000 have been eliminated.  We dropped our home land lines many years ago.  The business number is now on a wireless device too.

Here is a link to another article.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Wow, it has been a while, a whole year!

Two holiday items, first my famous gift salsa and next brining a pre-basted turkey.

In the past I prepared the salsa in a food processor requiring several batches.   Sloppy but it works.  I have been doing it this way for many years.  Last year I purchased the food grinder and citrus juicer attachments for my KitchenAid stand mixer.  Seven limes through the juicer.  Six large bell peppers, six large Jalapenos and two sweet onions through the food grinder using the large die.  Mix it all up using the flat mixer blade.  The plan was for a continuous feed process, success.  Excellent texture and finished product.  Fifteen pints of gifted goodness.  

We typically receive a gifted turkey from the store.  Most of the turkeys that are not special ordered are pre-basted like Butter Ball Turkeys.  This Spartan Young Turkey was pre-basted with a broth solution.  Most brining recipes say not to brine a pre-basted turkey.  I have wanted to try my luck with a brined turkey many times over the past few years.  Always thwarted by the "don't brine a basted bird" rule.  This year my research yielded a brining recipe from Buttter Ball, which greatly reduces the salt in the brine to allow for the pre-baste.

Marilyn was dreading eating this turkey as she barely tolerates turkey anytime.  It turns out it was the best Turkey that we can remember.

We cook our turkeys un-stuffed but do add things like apples or celery stalks in big pieces in the cavity for moisture.

I mixed the dry brine ingredients with a quart of water and boiled just that, added seven quarts of cold water to my bucket and then added the hot "ingredient" water to the bucket and let it chill in the garage all day.  The brine time was ten hours for our turkey so later that night the turkey was added to the now super cold brine, placed back in the garage and checked in the morning to insure that it hadn't frozen.  It worked out perfectly.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad from a second batch of Mozz we made yesterday, olive oil, fresh basil and pepperoncini.

The use of 1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride gave us a better curd.  The block of cheese was 1 lb, 4 oz.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

First Mozzarella

So the first batch of Mozzarella was a success, it stretched the way it is supposed to and was firm, shiny and tasty.

They say that there is nothing like sampling warm fresh cheese, I would concur with that sentiment.

It melted nicely on the pizzas, Marilyn hid the other goodies like red pepper, onion, and kalamata olives under the cheese.

I used regular old grocery store milk, Country Fresh brand.  The curds that developed were small and didn't need to be cut.  I used 1/8 tsp of Calcium Chloride, I'll try 1/4 tsp. next time to see if we get a better curd.

I will need to figure out something to do with all of the whey that is left over.  I saved two quarts.  I'll probably use it in bread.

Next time I'll weigh the finished product before we start sampling it. There was a nice big log of cheese, plenty for the two pizzas with almost half left over.  Most of that has been subsequently eaten.

Overall very satisfying.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The quest for cheese

We bought a cheese making kit the last time we were at the brew store.  It is a kit from 

We find that the type of milk used to make cheese is kind of a big deal.  You can't use anything that is ultra-pasteurized.  They suggest that the best is whole milk that is not homogenized.  This type of milk is available here at Friske's but it is $3.60 per half gallon.

At a local farm I can get unpasteurized raw milk for what works out to $8.30 per gallon after signing a six page contract, paying a contract fee and then a weekly maintenance fee for a "share of a cow" that would get me a gallon a week.  What lengths to get around overreaching government intrusion into what we eat?

Research shows that most grocery store milk will work if you add small amounts of calcium chloride.  Isn't that the same chloride that they put on dirt roads to control dust?  The non-salt ice melter?

It is commonly available in brewing and dairy supply stores.  It is sold in some grocery stores as Pickle Crisp, an ingredient that replaces the liming process used to keep pickles crisp.

No stores in Charlevoix of course.  The nice people at  Eastport Market ordered it up for us and we got it Saturday.

So cheese is next.

Ginger Ale

I'm a big fan of Sandor Katz who wrote Wild Fermentation, in fact his newest book the Art of Fermentation should be here this week.  

I tried his recipe for Ginger Ale some time ago.  It involves creating a "ginger bug" from ginger and sugar dependent on wild yeast from the environment.  I ended up with a sticky mess after several days and lost interest.

We have been looking at making cheese and I discovered Fankhauser's Cheese Page. There are recipes there for both ginger ale and root beer.  The recipe for ginger ale is nearly the same as the Wild Fermentation recipe except that instead of using wild yeast it uses cultured yeast.

I used a cup of sugar, a bit more than a tablespoon and a half of fresh grated ginger, the juice of one fresh squeezed lime and a quarter teaspoon of champagne yeast in two quarts of water.  They use plastic two liter soda bottles.  I used a half gallon glass growler bottle that I got from Tom, in fact I think I have three of those.  I let it ferment under an air lock until the big bubbles stopped, three days I think.  Then I strained and bottled it in two champagne bottles and a beer bottle.  I left them at room temperature for two days.  This morning I opened the little bottle.  I should have chilled it first as I lost almost a quarter of it as it foamed out on the counter and the sink.

It is excellent and super simple.  They say it is less than one percent alcohol.  I need more champagne bottles as I will be making more of this.  In the mean time I will make due with brown long neck beer bottles, also from Tom.

The recipe called for the juice of a lemon but I had a lime which resulted in a very refreshing taste.  Next time I will try a lemon.

UPDATE 1/18 - The new book Art of Fermentation gives a possible cause for the failure to make a "ginger bug" from commercial ginger root.  The book says that ginger root is irradiated to kill any bad bugs.  Likely killing the multitudes of yeasty flora that would normally be present to create a proper "ginger bug".  I have a new batch of ginger ale going using the same 1/4 tsp of champagne yeast. this time with a lemon.  I think it will be great!

Upping the ante on Sake

The Doburoku that I have been making is really more rice wine than Sake in the eyes of Sake aficionados.  Both are made from the four ingredients, water, rice, koji and yeast.  Making true Sake requires more of a ritual in terms of the process.  

With Doburoku you put all of the ingredients together and let it ferment.  With Sake, first you make a starter culture of Koji, yeast, water and rice.  The starter called the Moto is created in a low temperature environment, around fifty degrees Fahrenheit, barely above the yeast's low temperature rating.  Then the starter is added to more Koji and rice that doubles the amount of mash in each of three additions over four days.  The Moto requires about two weeks and the additions and fermentation another three weeks.

Wow, complicated.  I'm really happy with the quality of brew that I get with the "throw it all together" version.  In spite of that I am ready to go to the next phase.  I brought the little refrigerator that used to be in the office in from the barn.  It turns out that at the lowest setting it maintains a temperature right around fifty degrees, perfect.  I had a nice big batch of Kome Koji  that I made last week and a big batch of steamed rice that I made Friday night.  

The result is a big batch of Doburoku fermenting in the cold closet and a double batch of Moto fermenting in the little fridge.  I figure if it is going to take two weeks to make the Moto, I might as well double it so I can run two batches once it is ready.

It should be interesting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Sake and mushrooms

The last batch of Sake went into cold ferment in the last days of November.  It was very cold up there in the guest bedroom, hovering in the low fifties.  The clean laundry piled up according to color on the guest bed keeping watch.  Each day a vigorous stir of the mash to add Oh-two to the mix to keep the ferment healthy.  A faint smell of alcohol / Koji in the air (and the smell of Marilyn's hair spray).

That batch came out a couple of days ago.  The cold ferment and perhaps a reduction in the amount of citric acid applied gives it a very nice flavor, one that calls to me late at night on a Sunday night / Monday morning.

There is another batch of Kome Koji incubating in the chamber (oven with the light on).  I have decided to make batches according to the size of my pressure cooker rather than the size the recipe calls for.  More than double the 400 gram recipe size.

The blue painter's tape icons over the BAKE and LIGHT buttons attempt to control the temperature and prevent the melting of the Koji that occurred a little while back.

Mushrooms: I raised some Shitake mushrooms on logs back in the previous century, way back in '97. We had lots of mushrooms for four or five years, fewer in the latter years.

GC Farms will be trying mushrooms again.  Shitake on logs using plug spawn.  I'll do a couple of burns to create some patches for Black Morels and cut a Beech tree for some fire wood and some oyster mushrooms. I'm thinking sawdust spawn for the oyster mushrooms.

I'll probably get a pressure canner for sterilizing culture media for more 'shrooms and maybe canning some salsa.

It is a weird new year that we enter into.

Do you know what the three percent is?

New years spike

Blogger's stats aren't all that they could be or at least I don't know how to make the best use of them.  If I post on FB or G+ that I have updated the blog, maybe twenty or thirty of my closest friends and family might venture a peek over here.

On the first of the month the views went to more than double that without a new post or any notification?  WTF?  The stats did not reveal (or I don't know how to use them) where that traffic came from.  Hackers I thought, not likely. 

I posted a comment on a Patriot's blog, WireCutter's blog, I think that is what caused the spike. Did you know he is famous:

Anyway, thanks to KL, for introducing me to III%, and those assumed hits to the blog.  I'm spreading the word.

Sake post to follow

Saturday, December 22, 2012

End of jokes about using the oven for incubating Kome Koji

Cutting to the chase (is that the right idiom?).  Don't forget to check the incubation chamber before pre-heating the oven. Pictures to follow in the morning.

Yesterday, one ruined dairy thermometer.

Today one ruined batch of Kome Koji, Eff-en-eh.
"not for use in conventional oven"

Marilyn remembered to take the Koji out of the oven on Friday and didn't notice the thermometer.

I turned the oven on yesterday to heat dinner and didn't check first, crap.

For those late to the party, the oven-light keeps the oven in the mid eighties, perfect for Koji.  350 degrees is good for heating up the Spanakopita, not good for my Rubbermaid TakeAlongs.

Update, Christmas eve, having left the damaged bowl out on the counter waiting the dumping of the contents on the mulch pile, it is incredibly looking better than ever.  I think I will use it in a batch unless it shows signs of contamination, so far only white fuzzy Koji.