Smokin’

No not that kind.  Although arguably consuming copious quantities of cured meat products is just as bad for your long-term health.  But my death will likely be from cancer, stroke, or cardiac arrest anyway; and I’d prefer the last option.  So really, I’m just ensuring my selection bears out, even if I have to accept the inevitable sooner than I’d prefer.

Or I might accidentally drop my shotgun.  Who knows?  Life is my oyster (which is a meat I can’t eat, sadly).

Anyways–meat that I can eat!

Background: of all the ways I can cook meat, I lacked a reliable way to smoke it.  And while Alton Brown’s various cardboard concoctions appear effective on TV, I prefer something a little more permanent.  And less flammable.

Enter my bday present!

It’s electric!

After all, smoking is done at low temperatures, so I see little value in charcoal or propane, aside from mad pitmaster bragging points of course.  Nay, I’d rather let a thermostat do the work for me while I attend to other tasks.

And so far, it’s worked really well.  It might not be authentic, but no one’s yet argued the point while stuffing their faces with delicious smoked delicacies. such as salmon!  Chicken!  Ribs!  And…

Bacon!

Meat

Definitely better this way.  Smokier.  More nitrates, too!  Heart attack coming first!

Need to try leg of lamb, pork butt, and beef brisket next.  Take a deep breath.  It’ll be hard to move here soon.

–Simon

I Can’t See You…More

A year later and the clematis are doing a nice job.

This is an update to the original trellis post (the one about the fucking tools in the fucking truck, wherein they should never be placed).

So far, they’re doing a good job with the view obstruction.  So good, apparently, that the neighbors decided to move their deck furniture against the property line, between the Plywood Palace and…our compost pile.  If they’re trying to intimidate us with such a move, it will come as an interesting surprise to them when the late summer rolls around and I have rotting kitchen scraps back there.  Odd people, but they’ll have a nice view at least.

–Simon

Root Cellar

Last year I mentioned the need for a root cellar.

Staple Solanums

This was predicated upon the expectation of a large potato crop–the results of my hand made potato box.

The final yield was, however, lackluster, and my other root crops, onions and garlic, don’t require root cellar conditions.

But the carrots did exceptionally well, and storing them in a combination of the crisper drawer in the fridge and the garage, well, was annoying.  So I revisited my plans to convert the crawlspace.

All I intended was to add some shelving, but I never got around to it, and my earlier attempts at using it for storing radishes resulted in a box of moldy radishes.  I abandoned the plan.

Then our chest freezer died.  Its thermostat had always been finicky, refusing to settle anywhere between 0 and -30.  And when the power went out, the compressor never clicked back on again.

It always had that busted corner too. Maybe that was part of the problem.

Everyone surely remembers the great toilet paper shortage of COVID.  Faced with a temporary yet inconvenient possibility of having to wait a few days to buy what we wanted immediately, people began stockpiling items they were most afraid of going a day without: food, sanitary products…ammunition…?

You never know when you might need to shoot your neighbor because they bought all the toilet paper.  And apparently that’s going to require a thousand rounds.

Anyway, on this list was deep freezers, to store all this frozen food that you might have to go a day without.  And now, almost a year after the quarantines, they’re apparently still hard to find.  But find one we did, at a former Sear’s warehouse, for too much money.  But it was either that or lose all the steak, and I’ll be damned if I have to go a day without steak.  So we bought it and lugged it home and hooked it up and…at that point I noticed the old freezer had finally clicked back on.

God dammit.

But then I got an idea.  We could take it back, or I could convert the old glitchy one into a root cellar!  Which is essentially just a giant refrigerator.  It’s impossible to keep a dirt cellar 33-40 degrees with 98% humidity anyway.  So while this approach might not be more efficient, it was certainly more effective.

But one problem remained: freezers aren’t refrigerators and aren’t designed to act as such.  Fortunately, that problem had already been addressed.  The market is flooded with thermostatic controller overrides, which turn the power on and off to the external cord independently of the freezer’s wonky and cheap internal thermostat.

That’s right, an override!

So far it’s working pretty well, though I might add some water jugs in there to help regulate.  It tends to turn on and off more frequently than I’d like.  I know compressors don’t like that.

Or I could just add a bunch of beer in there instead…for thermoregulating purposes.

And with one last addition, milk crates, I have stackable storage in there too, which keeps things off the metal liner (hopefully this will also prevent frostbite).  And even though these reduce the usable space, it’s still a ton of storage.  I even thawed a turkey in there last week, so there’s certainly uses beyond just vegetables.

I won’t have to occupy an entire fridge door for a week brining pork belly for bacon, either.  And that’s something I’m unwilling to go a day without!

–Simon

Idiot Homeowners

I had a post going, but it was another Baby Boomer one, and hating on the Boomers gets old even for me.  So I’ll push down that hate for a bit longer and puke up a different kind: idiot homeowners.

I should turn these events into a series, really, because every time I begin a home repair or improvement, I find evidence of unsafe and shoddy previous home repairs/improvements.  The gem today being the master bathroom fan, which never vented properly, resulting in a constant war on mold.  And with the air in this region already terrible, I’m certain it was doing nothing good to my respiratory ailments.

Air Quality

Something had to be done.

I had previously made an attempt to fix the ventilation, going so far as to stretch ductwork up through the attic to the roof vent, so it was surprising that it still wasn’t doing the job.  Obviously I needed to replace the fan with a more powerful model.  So after some examination of the space and mounting required from the attic side, I procured a super suckerpator 3000.  Or something like that.  Samsung, I think.  120cfm/min.  Awww yeah!

After some infuriating screw removal with constantly failing drill batteries, I pulled the fan from its mount.  The cover, which obviously should have been removed prior, dislodged and crashed to the bathroom floor.  I peered through the opening, and encountered a different arrangement of shapes and colors than I was expecting.  It was the wrong bathroom.

I expressed my anger with the appropriate words which, accompanied by the sound of the fan cover a moment prior, summoned an inquisitive wife.  But, as the bathroom in question was already being dismantled for a remodel, it was a minor setback.  I’ll just have to replace that fan later.

But, where in the hell was the other fan?  No evidence of its existence was apparent from the attic.  Exploratory house surgery was needed.

So I removed the fan cover in the proper bathroom, pushed a wire up the side of the fan, and employed some assistance to wiggle the wire while I looked for movement back up in the attic.  Eventually, after peering about the far corners of hell, there it was: on the very edge of the attic where the roof met the eves.  Translation: it was not attic-accessible.  The new fan I bought required that.  I had to get a different model.

Okay, that’s fine.  There’s plenty of that variety on the market, obviously for scenarios where people are unable or unwilling to access the place from above.  I picked out a new fan, albeit not as powerful (the super strong ones require brackets that mount into multiple joists).

No-attic access fans are mounted on just one side.  Two metal flanges with holes are attached to a single rafter.  The new fan was designed this way, as was the old fan.  But the old fan was attached with 12 gauge fencing staples, which meant I had to reach up past the drywall with pliers and gradually wrench and twist the dam things out.  And the drywall, having been subjected to decades of mold and moisture, was none too resilient.  It crumbled away in the process, much of it hitting me in the face, until eventually the staples were removed and I could pull the old fan out.

And there the problem was revealed.

A casual observer might notice that the insulation was rolled out on top of the fan.  And no, no provision for the vent was made.  All this time, the bathroom was venting into this tiny space, causing water damage.

Well, at least I know now.  No sense getting angry.

HAHAHA, NO I LIED!   CURSE YOU, YOU STUPID PRIOR HOMEOWNER WHO DID THIS!  I HOPE YOUR DEATH IS PAINFUL AND LONELY!

Okay, back to the story.

The new fan installed with minor problems, but now that the drywall had disintegrated, I was left with yet another problem.

Okay, yeah that’s not going to work.

That’s better.

I used the cover from the other fan.  I’ll patch things up later, and of course I’ll need to procure another cover, but for now I at least have some proper ventilation.  Finally.

Idiot homeowners.

–Simon

Lights…Camera…

Actually the cameras came first.

Ring

Security!

And if your OCD requires that doors be checked multiple times before retiring, then why not make the task easier (instead of, you know, seeking therapy)?

Enter the garage door.  Actually no, don’t go in my garage–that’s the point here.  The garage door, when open, is a rather large access point to my home, and so confirming its closure is standard operating procedure for nightly lockdown.  And how is such verification generally completed when it’s not viewable from inside?  Why, by opening a door and peering out.  So inefficient, and doesn’t pair well with multiple checks.  Also it isn’t properly nerdy.  Surely someone had invented a product to make the task easier.

And someone had indeed: wireless smart monitors.  Translation: gadgets with unknown development histories comprised of forked open-source Linux software and limited pen-testing, which they want me to attached to my internal LAN, and link to my phone with more questionable software, that requires me to make an account with my personal info so they can send me targeted marketing.  Create network security holes in an attempt to increase physical security?  No thanks.  All I wanted was a light.

This was going to have to be DIY.

Teehee

In true Agile fashion, here were the MVP requirements:

  1. A light inside the house to indicate garage door closure.
  2. A default status of “not closed”, to send false negatives rather than positives in the event of mechanical failures.

Some internet digging revealed these handy little microswitches:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QVGHGZF?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

They’re 2 circuit switches where a spring contact controls which neutral return wire is engaged.  The sprint sets one mode as the default until the button is pressed.  So in my case, when the door closes and engages the button, that will be my closure circuit.  If there’s no pressure on the button, that’s the default open mode.

Some creative alignment and mounting

As for the lights, well, that required more research than I expected.  LED lights, in their singular form, seem to be circuit-board project related.  That was somewhat beyond the level of effort I wished to expend, so I eventually settled on some “motorcycle accent lights”.  Yes, those kind of douche beacons.  A big price to pay for the inevitable douche-related marketing suggestions Amazon will no doubt throw me in the future.

What douche would put these on his vehicle. Or douchette (sorry, a woman can do anything a man can do).

The upside to the douche lights is that it made their power requirements predictable and easy to find: 12v DC.  Power supplies were readily available.

Running wire was a non-issue as I’m rather accustomed to that task.  All that was left was figuring out a mounting setup for the lights.  I had hoped to simply house them in a fogged light fixture, but such a setup would require me to buy a light.  So again, this would be full DIY.

The internals, and I added a door activator too while I was at it
A handmade wooden housing is more rustic than my preference

I’ll revisit this in the future.  Right now this is MVP.

The downside of the lights is that they’re intentionally super bright

I’m still fussing with light filters and spackling.  I’ll get there eventually.  But for now, my OCD is slightly alleviated with a soothing green glow.

–Simon