Monday, May 25, 2009


To smoke meat, you want a relatively constant source of smoke, a low heat, time and water. A smoker is nice, but not necessary. Smoked meat stores well and tastes good re-heated, and a full grill's worth is no harder than one rib.

The water helps moderate the temprature--especially with a charcoal fire, as well as keeping the meat from drying out.

Low heat keeps the meat from being overdone before the smoke can soak in.

My method:

Take 3 medium sized steel cans and burn off all the labels and inner coatings. I currently use charcoal, and toss a couple of cleaned cans on the coals when I'm done cooking on the grill, to save for next time.

Fill all 3 cans half full of hickory chips. Fill one with water, one half full, and one with half an inch or so of water.

Light part of the grill, leaving part without flame. Put all three cans of chips on the hot side.

When you see smoke from one of the cans of hickory, put the meat or chicken on the side without flame and close the lid. Try to maintain the grill temperature around 250 or so.

Periodically check the hickory cans. Eventually one of the cans will finish smoking--dump the coals (into the fire if charcoal, into water otherwise) and half-fill with hickory, fill with water and put back on the fire. Keep repeating this. Adjust the amount of water so that one can is starting to smoke as the other one finishes. If a can boils dry before the other cans are done, add water.

Cooking at 250, the meat will generally be fully smoked about the same time it is done. Pork chops take an hour or so, thicker ribs or chicken 3 or so. The meat will be pink, but either even pink, or darker from the outside. This isn't the same pink as underdone.

Don't put BBQ sauce on until the meat is done. I've quit putting sauce on the meat at all--instead I heat up a small bowl of sauce and dip the meat in as I eat. I like Montgomery Inn sauce--tomato based, not too sweet, the right amount of bite.

You can also use foil packs of wet hickory chips instead of cans. Make a foil envelope about 4x4, put the hickory in and seal, poke a couple of holes in the top. When the smoke slows, put another pack on. If you are using foil packs, you probably want a pan of water boiling on the grill as well.

A meat thermometer left in the meat will get coated with smoke and hard to read.

Who, me?

Who me? What cake? (My niece at her brother's birthday party)

Saturday, May 23, 2009


This is where we usually take the dogs for a walk--there's a bike path along the river

View Larger Map

As you can see, not a particularly rural area, although not far from the edge of town.

Directly across from the mall:
(Click pictures to enlarge)

Just a bit farther north

Angie, at her usual speed. I've been experimenting with motion blur within the limits of my camera. This was taken while riding beside Angie on my bicycle, then cropped and rotated--It isn't all that easy to ride at her speed while controlling the camera and not crashing. For this one I used aperture priority at F:8 (the smallest my camera has) ISO 64 (the slowest speed) and no flash. Resulted in a shutter speed of 1/39 second. I think next time I'll go shutter priority around 1/100...

Later on in the day we took our tandem, and went to the new bike path that heads out of town.

The path leads past the old Nuclear plant, an experimental reactor that supplied electricity to Piqua for a few years in the 1960's.

The path is not quite finished. Can't decide which of these pictures I like better

The bike path leads to this pretty little waterfall. It is just off a side road, barely visible from a car.

Monday, May 18, 2009


A couple of buzzards, or turkey vultures, or whatever they are that hang around the river where we walk the dogs.

They often hang out stereotypically in a dead tree across the river. Graceful when flying, ugly close up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I found bulk .22!

On my way home from an interview, I stopped at a local gun shop and found bulk .22 in stock! more than twice the price I paid last time I bought it, for 50 fewer rounds. Ouch.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Airsoft shot timer

I've played around with the idea of practicing with airsoft and a shot timer. I've got a cheap plastic spring-air Sig 226 replica, and a handful of XD holsters that I'm not going to use for anything else. The Airsoft fits the XD holsters well.

The first problem is that airsoft is nowhere near loud enough to trigger the shot timer. However, the timer can pick up the sound of the pellet hitting cardboard if the timer is close enough. Clipped to the back of the cardboard turns out to be close enough...

This leaves a second problem--The normal time between pressing the button and when the buzzer goes off isn't long enough to get to the "firing line" and positioned.

This is solved by using "par mode". I'm not sure exactly what it is meant to be used for (the instructions said it is rarely used anymore) but it gives a second beep, and measures the time after that. By setting the par time to 3 or so seconds, I get a total of 5 seconds to get positioned.

On the Pact Club Timer, modes are set by pressing both arrow buttons at once. One of the arrows sets the mode to instant, the other to delay. The next selection is "par time" mode--press the "go" button now if you don't want a par time. If you do want a par time, the arrow keys adjust the digit you are on, the "rvw" button moves to the next digit. I had to look this up, and it was harder than it should be to find--PACT doesn't appear to have the instructions on their website.

I'm more than likely going to make a proper pellet trap, rather than just a piece of folded cardboard. I'm also going to make it so I can use a semiauto bb gun, with protection for the timer--one drawback to the springair is that there's no way to do a doubletap. I'm also going to try to figure a way to push the go button remotely, without disassembling the timer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

We used to take our dogs to the river in the back of our truck. We sold the truck last fall, after I had most of the major remodeling done.

Angie hasn't quite figured out the difference between a car and a truck. I didn't tell her to get in, I just opened the trunk to put some stuff in as we were getting ready to take them for a ride.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Related advertising

This is the ad I've been getting lately in my RSS feed for I can Has Cheezburger, a site of cat pictures with amusing captions:

(The link is clickable to the site they are advertising, if you dare...)

Thursday, May 07, 2009


I don't watch much TV, but my wife does. I often get to hear commercials without seeing them.

"Ask your doctor if Ass Effects is right for you"

That name (aciphex) HAD to be intentional.

Modern life

With modern technology, you can apply for jobs in your bathrobe without hurting your chances of an interview...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Schwinn Meridian adult trike conversion, complete

I'm pretty much done tweaking the addition of gears to my wife's adult trike. The actual mechanics are covered in this post, this just deals with a final parts list and sources.

For the parts you need, donor bikes are by far the best source--An entire used bike can be purchased for less than the cost of one part.

You will need:

A 5 speed freewheel, preferably Shimano or Falcon. If the bike has index shifting it should work, as will most Shimano Uniglide and most Falcon. Most will have 28 teeth on the biggest chainring--That is enough, but 30 or 32 would be better. Most freewheels with 6 or more cogs will be too wide, requiring excessive spreading of the aluminum frame, potentially weakening it. If you can get an old "ultra 6" freewheel, it should fit, and you can use 7 speed shifters with it. (Adapting these instructions to a steel-framed bike spreading is much less of an issue)

5 or 6 speed index shifters--Preferably Shimano, but most are Shimano-compatible. You can also use friction shifters if you prefer, or most lever shifters have a friction mode. Suntour parts were good, and will work in friction mode. Suntour used non-standard index spacing, so aren't likely to work well with other brand parts.

Dérailleur chain--the existing chain on the trike is too thick for dérailleurs.

Dérailleur--Should be index compatible if you want index shifters. Shimano is the best choice, but there are a lot of clones of the basic Shimano Tourney derailleur--almost anything "index" that isn't Suntour will be Shimano-compatible.

Miscellaneous cables--For this application, you'll want a length of cable housing from the shifter to the derailleur, since there are no cable stops on the trike frame. This is the only part I bought new.

A thumb shifter can be mounted to the stem--This can be useful if the cable is a bit short to reach to the handlebars, or if you want to keep the cable as short as practical for best shifting.

A set of cotterless cranks with a smallest chairing around 24-28 teeth. This will almost certainly have three chainrings, and you won't use the medium and large--trikes ae not stable enough for significant speed. A chainguard is useful, but the largest chainring can be turned into a chainguard by cleaning a chunk of chain, and installing it with no slack. (This assumes an even number of teeth. If the largest ring is odd, you will need a half link, avaliable at better bike shops) The original crank is too fat for a derailleur chain, but could be cleaned and re-used as a chainguard. Keep an eye on crank length--The parts bike I used was a 24", and had shorter cranks than the stock ones on the trike. This was an advantage in this case, since the original trike cranks were a bit long for my wife.

There aren't that many bikes with both 5 speed freewheels and cotterless cranks in an adult size. In my case I found a Mongoose 21 speed for crank, chain and inner cables, and a cheaper 15 speed bike for freewheel, derailleur and shifters. The cheap bike had one-piece cranks, so they were not useful. The Mongoose had a frame mounted derailleur--better, but would take more work to adapt to the trike. Kid's bikes with shifters are the most likely to have 5 speed index parts.

(Note when I say 5 speed or 7 speed, I'm talking of the rear gears. a 10 or 15 speed will have a 5 speed rear, a 12 or 18 speed a 6 speed rear, etc. )

In addition to basic hand tools, you will need a freewheel removal tool (or a shop that will remove it for you--no special tools needed to install) a chain tool and cone wrenches.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Yellow Springs

We took the dogs to Glen Helen, a nature preserve that used to be associated with Antioch college before it closed. Neat place, took a boatload of pictures. Click to massively enlarge, not safe for dialup.

The springs giving the name to the village of Yellow Springs, where Glen Helen is located

Wife and dogs

Most of Glen Helen is in a valley, with these rock outcroppings, caves and cliffs.

I don't know if this is the biggest chigger I've ever seen, or something else. About the size of a rice grain. Brighter red than shows here.

One of several good-sized waterfalls in the preserve.

A panorama of another small waterfall

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce

I really like a lot of the foods from Trader Joe's market

Their Masala Simmer Sauce is not one of them.

I don't know what Masala sauce should taste like, but this tastes essentially like bland, watered-down ketchup with a few chunks of tomato. I followed the package directions, simmering some diced chicken, and serving it over brown rice. It wasn't inedible, but it certainly isn't something I'd get again.