DYI Simple and Cheap Bicycle Saddle Bags

Not a lot to read in this post. Four short paragraphs, two pictures and three links.

I saw this bicycle with buckets chained to a bike rack and thought this bucket idea was ingenious! The owner showed up, and explained how he did it. I asked if I could take pictures and he said, “Okay”.

It doesn’t get simpler and cheaper than this!

Close up of U-Bolt attached to bicycle head tube

The middle bucket is clamped to the head tube with a U-bolt and a Bungee cord. All buckets are removable and the second and third bucket is held on to the main bucket with two hand sized short bolts and four nuts, and Bungee Cords. The second nut on each bolt keeps the nut tightly on the bolt. As an added feature, one or both side buckets may be removed easily when not required.

Someone with a $10k racing bike would not be caught dead sporting five gallon buckets on their bike, though I think for most of us who need to haul groceries, and other items too big to fit in a pocket or small bag, this DYI Bicycle Saddle Bag system is excellent!

Of course if five gallon buckets are larger than you need, smaller buckets can be used instead.

Dryer Balls, Verses Dryer Sheets, or Unsightly Static Cling

First there was drying clothes on a clothesline. To dry clothes on a clothesline, the weather had to be accommodating. Clothes don’t dry well in rain or excessive cold. Women of the day wanted an easier way to dry clothes. It was little fun having a clothes line; it was less fun having drying clothes hanging all over the house due to local weather conditions

Clothes became dry, but clothes were often stiff, and uniform drying was an issue. Clothes dried this way were not a lot of fun to wear, especially if the water was hard. Eventually came the Clothes Dryer. This modern marvel was to be the answer to everyones hopes for an easy way to dry clothes in any weather.

Fast forward to today, and dryer sheets are the bane of clothes drying. They are expensive, really serve only on purpose, and end up everywhere there are clothes. Some claim there are uses for used dryer sheets, but how many uses compared to how many loads of clothes dried in a time period? They end up everywhere, even at work or school, in someones sleeve or pant-leg.

Dryer Sheets were a miracle product, but there time is at end.

Now there are dryer balls. Wool balls that promised to eliminate all the problems with dryer sheets, with none of the hassle. I decided it was time to move on and try them. I bought a package of four and dropped them in the dryer.

Some weeks later, they get mixed reviews. I think they do a pretty good job on most occasions but others in the house are not so easily impressed. I hear dryer balls do not take the wrinkles out of some pan seams. Some part of the dryer load has static while the rest does not.

I think this may be eliminated by using one more dryer ball, or perhaps I should have bought a more expensive set. I bought mine on the lower end of the price line.

I enjoy not having dryer sheets showing up at the most inopportune times because I forget I didn’t see it when folding my clothes. I do not have a problem with seam wrinkles, and secretly suspect they were there all along. I’m not sure about cost per load yet, as it has only been a short period of time. Going forward, for me at least, the cost per chasing dryer sheets around is much higher than any small failings the dryer balls have. SO even if the price per load is higher in the long run, dryer balls far outweigh dryer sheets in the cost of convenience.

And The Fight Goes On…And On

I’ve been around a few years now and seen and done some things. Today many young people think grass roots activism is something new to their generation. Thinking about this, at least in my generation, Social Activism has been around for a long time, spanning many, many generations. You can’t know what you don’t know.

I remember birth control or, “The Pill”. No one considered out of the gate that for the first time in history, Women will have control over their reproductive system. What the adults around me thought, and perhaps some still do, is only, “Dirty Women”, want the pill. Dirty in this perspective was not referring to the lack of hygiene.

DDT, the pesticide was sweeping its way around the world, touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Initially a few groups of people saw it for what it was, the greatest poison ever unleashed. It wasn’t until California Condors were almost extinct, that the rest of the country got on board. It was looking grim for several years, and some species still have not recovered from DDT.

Women’s Liberation! Following in the footsteps of, “The Pill”, Women’s Liberation swept the country. From control over their bodies, Women wanted control of their destiny. Women were once again demanding their right to equality. This time very loudly. The most common symbol of the time were ‘bras’ going up in literal flames in public happenings; meeker women showed their support by leaving their bras at home. What scandal that was!

Equal Rights. Who did those people think they were? Don’t they know their place? This was an all too common sentiment around the country. Thankfully the Hippies and those of this generation changed opinion, and changed the country a little, the fight unfortunately still continues for Racial Equality.

Social Change is momentary, the poison doesn’t get vanquished. Keep fighting for what’s right.

Three Huggers. People who saw the value in ancient and modern forests, and wanted to put an end too deforestation and destroyed habitat. They were out there in front of the Logging Companies, ringing trees with their bodies, and driving spikes into trees to destroy chain and other saws, should an attempt be made to harvest them.

Viet Nam War and Government Disobedience. Up until this period, too many people ignorantly put their trust in Government, like so many people do today. They relinquished their civil liberties because they foolishly thought the Government knew best, and would protect them and keep them safe.

It took a horrible war in a far off land to wake people and open their eyes. Mostly Sons who were slated for the draft and their Mothers. Followed shortly by returning War Veterans who saw the senselessness of what was being done first hand.

These activists and protestors changed how we felt about war and the killing of our finest young men in war. It was all too easy before for old men to send young men off to be killed and maimed in war. At least we stopped the draft.

Then I became married and the world moved on around me. Movements came and movements went. Protests and protestors were viewed under different light depending on the year. Being a Father and Husband, I had to focus on family, and let the world take care of itself. I made a mistake.

The ozone layer problem came and went, as I did my small part, while others gave it the fight it deserved. In less than a year, most of the world understood the problem, and came up with a fix. End of the world diverted for real this time.

Now we have a Global Warming, and are slowly becoming aware of what we have done and are doing to our planet. Once again, old men are only interested in money, and care little about the lives of their Grandchildren, as if having money makes destroying the world all right.

My point to all this, is this. Many of the issues and problems of today, I thought were resolved in turn as I grew up. The problem is old habits and old thinking diminish slower than we grow up and grow old. Scared selfish people will never go away, and they will revert every good we do if not prevented from doing so.

Keep fighting, but don’t fight wearing rose colored glasses. What seems like winning the war of a very important cause today, will prove to be a minor skirmish in and ongoing campaign, as the years roll by you. You can’t slow down and rest on your achievements. Your victories will be challenged all through your life and you will find, you’re never done.

Cane and Walking Stick Bark Removal Tips

This spring, I am making wood canes and walking sticks from shrubs, tree branches and found wood (on the ground wood). I am find it quite relaxing. Not a lot of thought needed for the most part. Finding pieces that will make canes with a traditional cane handle are harder to find.

I live in a desert environment. For wood, I am mostly limited to Ash, Elm, Cottonwood, and Tamarisk. The more exotic woods either can not be harvested or do not exist where they can be harvested. There is an abundance of Willow along the Rio Grande River, but it is too small and light, and I doubt it can be cut down. Tamarisk (Salt Cedar) is defined as a noxious weed in New Mexico, so I can cut down all the Tamarisk I want. Not sure how Tamarisk will work for a walking stick or cane, as I remember it being brittle when dried.

As I learn the best way to remove the bark by scraping, I have made some interesting discoveries I will share with you. The best tool for scraping bark depends upon two things:

The first is the strength in your forearms and wrists. The stronger your forearms and wrists, the easier it is to take the bark off with a wider selection of tools.

The second factor is how fresh the cutting is. The greener the wood, the easier to remove the bark. If cut and peeled on the same day, a butterknife will practically be enough. I have seen a vegetable peeler used in one Youtube video. For older and drier the wood, a more serious (heavier) tool which needed.

I looked around the web for recommendations for scraping. As you can see from the photo, my collection ranges from a smaller kitchen knife, to a rasp and finally a paint scraper. They all work in their respective environments. The tool needed being dependent on how fresh and green the branch is.

Removing Bark for Canes and Walking Sticks is simple, and easiest when green.

We’re not talking cabinetry level work here, and I do not own a grinder or sander, so I am limited to hand tools. I have found the following to be generally true.

Very green, a paring knife or something like it works well. –4/26 – I forgot to mention, if you peel just cut wood, it is likely to crack.

Older wood, still somewhat green and a heavy knife seems to work quickly.

Very Old and/or really dry wood, my heavy duty Hori-Hori knife (Japanese hori-hori are better made and heavier)comes in to play.

Both kitchen knives are from second hand stores and cost me less than five dollars together, so I am not expecting a lot out of them. It’s not clear in the picture, but the blade on the chefs knife developed some bends along the bottom. Probably from my using the blade as a pry bar in a few spots today.

The rasp, I have found little use for other than branch knots and handle shaping. That being said, It would be a lot of work not having one. This rasp is part of a cheap set, but does the small amount of shaping I need without any real fuss. One note on the rasp. It builds up (teeth hold the shavings) when the wood is very green.

The final tool no matter what I use initially is, get ready… a paint scraper! Found out about paint scrapers from a 2011 youtube video by a man named, “Don Dailey”, Walking sticks prep 1. Thanks Don!

Most of the under-bark on all but the greenest pieces remains in places no matter how well the wood is scraped initially. The knives may leave some scratches too. The (orange) paint scraper has very sharp blades which scrapes and smooths, both at the same time. The other scraper hasn’t worked as well for me.

That’s all there is as far as I know right now. It’s not rocket science and there may be better and faster ways to remove bark, like an electric grinder which I don’t own. I don’t think there are any cheaper or simpler methods however. When it comes to bark removal, if you want to do it fast, cut and peel the same day. The older the wood, the harder it is to remove the bark.

Let me know how it goes for you, or if you have a better way to get the bark off.

My Good Friday Tweet to the Pope

@Pontifex, Previous #GoodFriday, meat #animal’s were killed, as always. Watching People refuse meat on GF is loathsome. Tens of thousand of pounds of animal meat go to the trash to rot as it wasn’t eaten, so People may feel reverent and pure. Stop this atrocity please.

I sent the above tweet to Pope Francis today, after watching more than one person pick the meat out of their Chicken Salad and Chilli at a restaurant today to have it thrown away. Meat comes from slaughtered Animals. Animals which were killed just so we can refuse to eat their meat today and send it to the trash because it won’t last another day?

There is no Good Friday magic that happens. Meat rots on Good Friday as well as it does on any other day. What is the justification of killing tens of thousands of animals around the world just to throw their meat away on this day?

At least Twenty-Five Thousand people die from starvation each day, and we refuse to eat what is in front of us.

I am ashamed for us! We no longer live in the Middle Ages. If we did, for most of us, meat would be a rarity, not an everyday food. Let’s move Good Friday out of the dark and into the light.

Think Your Web Browsing is Really Private? Think Again

How anonymous is your private web browsing? I thought I had all the reasonable requisite Add-ons to keep me fairly anonymous on the Web. Then I read a comment in an article about a file named: ‘machine-id’ which holds all the data about the computer I am using. Machine-id is present on a Windows and Linux computers. It is around in some variation on a Mac, but not as easy to locate.

What this little file does is make your a single computer unique on the ‘Lan’ it is set up on. This information may extend out into the internet to your provider, and perhaps beyond, but in my limited searching, I did not find any reference of that happening. This is called from my understanding…get ready…”Fingerprinting”.

However this made me curious. What else is going out, while I am browsing the web, thinking I am wisely protecting my privacy? I can’t say I was surprised, but a truckload of information is sent to each and every website that is visited, even this one I am guessing, though I never see it.

If you look at this screenshot, Firefox.jpg, you will see the information every web site sees. The list is long, and the shot is clipped to only the top portion, but you get the idea of how privately you browse the web as an average user. Web browsers may as well include a picture, home address and phone number too, as far as privacy matters go.

I thought I was fairly anonymous on the web…

Contained in Firefox browser directory, and likely whatever browser you choose to use is a file called HTTPS. Now this is a really slick little file that works with web sites you visit. It stores the data you see which tells Firefox any site listed in the file can only be accessed using HTTPS at the beginning of the url for a ‘secure’ connection. If HTTP isn’t at the beginning of the URL string, you can’t connect to the website in question. Sounds great, I feel so much better….

The problem with this file is, you can delete the contents and save it as a blank file. Get on the web and surf to a few sites, and you have a long list of sites, including some you did not access and can not visit! Return to a website, and the string contents change My question is, with this file blank, I do not seem to have any problem accessing a website. Why is it needed except for tracking purposes? I think it uses information from machine-id, but I’m not really sure. Monster Cookies anyone?

HTTPS. Just a helpful little file

I never payed attention to the private browsing option until now. The results are disappointing if you think you are really getting private browsing. This is beginning to look like a bad take of, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”. All that happens in private browsing is the information normally stored on your computer about your browsing habits is not collected. To the sites you don’t want the world to know you visited, your browser sends the same information it always does. In essence, your family or Boss may not know where you browsed, but everyone else does.

If you want to see this in action, here are two links which collect all the information possible from your computer.

My Browser Info

Panopticlick from Electronic Frontier Foundation

After a quick search, I found a new well thought of web browser named, Epic Browser. It has a slick little VPN feature that really does erase you when you are on the web. I only played with it long enough to verify it works. With the VPN switch turned off, Epic transmits the same information as other browsers. With the VPN switch activated, it’s like being on the onion network with a tor browser. Maybe it is?

If you are serious about your privacy, but not too computer savvy

Which brings me to the Operating System Tails. Tails is so paranoid about privacy it only runs from a USB stick, and does not access any hard drive on the computer on its own. Tails uses the Tor browser and the Onion network. I really prefer using Tails when I want to surf about things I don’t want attached to me like, “How do you get Hemorrhoids”, or some such. You can browse with confidence knowing in your using the best privacy no money can buy when you are on the web. Below is a screenshot of how the sites see me when using tails. This isn’t a how-to about tails, but the web is almost your friend and will lead you to the Tails website.

The most online privacy no money can buy.

The information above is what I was able to find in about an hours worth of searching. Initially I was shocked to see what information about myself and my computer was giving away. After a short amount of time, I became angry, that so much information is built into the system by default. I did learn I don’t need to feel bad when a web site wants me to accept cookies. Websites already have more information than they need.

In wrapping up, I hope you have a better idea of your “privacy” when browsing the Internet. If you want to learn more and perhaps get involved, the, “Electronic Frontier Foundation” is a great place to start. EFF has been around since at least 1990, decries the lack of privacy in the digital age, and fights for our digital rights.

Here is the Electronic Frontier Foundation link:  Electronic Frontier Foundation check them out. They do a lot for you.

Customize Products You Use – Life Hack

I get really excited thinking about idea! It started sometime last month. I was making chicken and rice soup for dinner. As the soup was almost done, I was thinking how nice I can add ingredients and spices to have the soup taste exactly as I want.

Most of the meal I cook taste exactly as I want, but the I never thought past cooking. About a week later, I was making myself some coffee. I had two bags of coffee I enjoyed and would switch off coffees every other day. French Roast today and Colombian Coffee tomorrow. This is when I had a flash of an idea.

You too can remix your coffee, shampoo and lotion for the results you want!

If I enjoy both of these coffees separately, what would happen if I combined them? So I did. I made myself coffee using both a mix of both coffees. The result was coffee much closer to what I wanted in my perfect cup of customized coffee!

A few days later while in the shower, the next customize idea arrived. I have this organic scalp condition. I got it from rinsing off many years ago in a lake in full algae bloom. I know it is organic as it would almost go away, and then over a few days it would be back with a vengeance, breaking out all over my scalp.

Last month’s outbreak was particularly bad. I use two different shampoos to control it. One is a medicated shampoo and the other a Tea Tree Oil shampoo. Both work, but not well enough to ‘cure’ my scalp problem. In desperation, I went to the Internet to find a shampoo recipe I could make at home that would do what I wanted. As I read different recipes, noting the most popular ingredients two things became apparent.

I could make a homemade shampoo for half of what it costs off the shelf. I could not find ingredients in small quantities or cheaply. The cost of the ingredients to start making cheap shampoo were expensive en mass and bulky. It was also questionable if the ingredients had a long enough shelf life to be useful.

I decided for a few days to mix both my shampoos and try them out. It worked so well, I combined them in a fifty-fifty mix. It has been three weeks now and my scalp problem has been solved. Gone is my repeating cycle of recession and outbreak.

I am not sure what I will customize next. Maybe body wash or skin lotion. Without thinking about it before, I already use mixed laundry soap and simple home cleaners, which give better results for a lot less money. For example, a little de-greasing dish soap and a little bleach turn cheap laundry soap into a world class product. The same idea applies to floor cleaning. A little cheap cleaner with a little de-greasing dish soap makes the kitchen floor cleaner for less than buying a brand name product.

Possibilities are there to make your own custom mix for your needs. If business can mix ingredients five-hundred gallons at a time, I know I can make my custom mix at home combining a few cheap products into my world class product.

One caveat, read and heed labels! When it comes to combining cleaning products, use care in what you mix. Some common cleaners and ingredients sitting in your kitchen and laundry room when mixed can have disastrous results.

Mix discreet ingredients with cleaners only after searching the Internet for compatibility and then only in a very small quantity. The last thing you want is to burn your hair off, bleach all your laundry white, melt your flooring, create toxic gas or a dangerous chemical reaction next to your face.

Do not attempt to mix Toilet Bowl Cleaners! Some Toilet Bowl Cleaners if mixed with other products will cause toxic gas or other very serious chemical reactions! Do not attempt to mix them. Read labels.

Combining lotions and shampoos are one thing, cleaners of any type should be only mixed with extreme caution after determining if they can be combined. Read all labels and precautions. Stick to skin soap, shampoo, and lotion and you should be okay. A trip to the emergency room for chemical burns definitely offsets all benefits gained from experimenting.

New Years 2019, New Not Improved

A New Year is once again here. Without trying, we start to stress and worry about the changes we are going to inflict upon ourselves. In the end, we will end up a year form now, fairly close to where we are in the moment. Unless of course we really make an effort to go through the investment of creating a new and improved model of us. Not an easy undertaking, as the most of the world does not want us to change and improve.

This year instead of regurgitating some words that are pretty much what I have felt over time about the New Year, I provided four links to what I have written in the past.

In the interim, my best for you and your journey through the New Year. I hope you make the changes you think you want to make, and you are pleased with the result. If I may make a small suggestion, decide to make changes that make you a better you, not a changed you. These changes tend to be more permanent and pleasing.

New Years Coming

Improving the New Year You

What New Years Resolutions

New Years Worthwhile Resolutions

Of course, you can just search, “new years”, or “resolutions” on my blog search.

Happy New Year!

Flow with, don’t fight the New Year

More Than a Dollar

This post is a ‘clean’ post. However the content is not for children…

Something strange happened today. I went to a local mall to eat Chinese food. I was alone. To get where I was going from where I parked, I needed to walk through a store. As I walked, there on the floor was a semi-crumpled crumpled bill laying on the floor.

Of course I picked the bill up, hoping it was a twenty, but it was only a dollar. Being in a generous mood, I held the bill in my hand as I walked. I walked on perhaps another thirty feet, outside the store and into the mall proper.

Found a dollar

When a dollar isn’t really a dollar.

There was a bench, and sitting on the bench was a Father with his perhaps four year old Son playing on the floor. I walked up to the Father. I asked him, not looking at the child, “I found this on the floor, would your Son like to have a dollar bill?” The Father said, “No thank you”. I said, ” I found it on the floor, right over there (pointing)”.

It took a second or two for ‘No’ to register in my brain… I found this absolutely astounding! What was the Father thinking? Why would he decline free money? I was completely at a loss. I put the bill in my pocket, walked over the cafe, ordered and ate my dinner.

As I ate, I pondered these possibilities. 1.) The Father was not white. Did he think I thought he was broke and needed money? 2.) For whatever reason, the Father was offended by my offer of money. 3.) The Father, in a pedophile-phobia mind set, determined I was a pedophile, and by giving him a dollar bill to give to his son, his son would somehow become infected or targeted?

As I pondered these three possibilities, I though perhaps numbers one and two were possible. Perhaps the Father was offended by my offer for whatever reason. I thought number three was so far out there, it could not possibly apply. After eating I was to meet some people for coffee.

As the coffee clutch conversation slowed a bit, I brought up the situation at the mall, and the rejected dollar bill offer. I asked the group what they thought the reason was? To my surprise, the unanimous vote was the Father determined I was probably a pedophile! I was and am absolutely amazed this was not only the majority opinion, but the only opinion!

I can not make the jump from offering the Father a dollar bill to give to his Son, is any way related to being a probable pedophile. Even if it were possible, how does giving the Father a dollar bill effect the Son and his safety? It’s now, a few hours later, I still can not make that leap of thought. I only spoke to the Father, and offered the dollar bill to the Father. I simply can not make the jump, as to how the pedophile idea was the uniform conclusion.

I think this must be a brain virus in action. Too many generations of being told to fear, Chester the Molester, or the Man in the Van. Any thoughts?

Unconscious Bias, Us and Them

Science overthinks Unconscious Bias. Unconscious Bias reasons people hold of interest to scientific and social communities, is commonly determined to be a bias against people(s) which an individual is not even aware they are biased against. No one escapes Unconscious Bias. One may be knowingly biased against people for demographics, skin color, or facial and body features, and this bias is Conscious Bias.

Put in another more formal way, here is the definition from the Office of Diversity and Outreach:

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

I disagree with how science has determined how Unconscious Bias occurs. I am of the opinion, Unconscious Bias comes from a much simpler and much older place and was active possibly before modern humans even developed language.

Unconscious Bias is likely built into our DNA, and is not something we can easily eradicate, and probably something we should not even try to eradicate. It is important to quantify the Unconscious Bias which I address. This is not an outright culture or race bias which is behind much of today’s news. This Unconscious Bias I wish to define has familial properties.

Unconscious Bias is likely in our DNA, and it should stay there

The Unconscious Bias I am talking about maximizes survival of the family unit, carried forward from our most ancient ancestors. Two hundred years ago (a blink of an eye), most of the world had a limited supply of food and clothing. In most of the world we were living a rural village life. There was the family unit, the extended family unit, and the remaining people who together comprised a village, perhaps one hundred people, probably less.

Village population was determined by resource allocation and our brain size. There was only so much food and clothing to go feed everyone. There were only so many people able to hunt and cultivate crops. There were finite supply of edible fish and animals within a reasonable hunting distance from the village.

When the family had food for the day, food was distributed by family ties. Perhaps Parents and grown Children were fed first. Grandparents and young Children second. If there was a food surplus, extended family would be allowed to share the food. After extended family, friends of the family would be given food. Finally, the rest of the village population would be given food.

Our brain size determines our social ability. The most brain growth in modern humans was done to increase our social ability. Today most of us have between one-hundred to one-hundred fifty people we socialize with in varying degrees.

Looking at Unconscious Bias through this perspective, Unconscious Bias has little to do with race, geography, skin color, or other artificial measurement. Unconscious Bias was developed for maximizing survival of the immediate family unit.

Starting with the immediate family unit (parents and children) who have a surplus, and extending to the village unit, everyone followed the same model. The more you are one of us (closer to a family matriarch), the better your chances of receiving extra sufficient food and clothing when available. As food distribution is extended, a non family member’s chance of receiving food diminishes the farther they are from being part of the family.

You can test this idea yourself as you go through your day. Pretend you have extra food available which must be given away as it will spoil soon. You have enough food to give to three people beyond the people in your immediate family. As you look at the people you see or have contact with, decide whether you would give them food or not.

I think you will find, the people you are most likely to feed are those people either closest to you or most like you. I think looking for ulterior motives and reasons for Unconscious Bias, and trying to eradicate Unconscious Bias in any other definition is akin to, “Beating a dead horse”. You can beat the dead horse into dust and powder, but it doesn’t change the fact the horse is dead.