Friday, December 22, 2017

Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Machinists

If you have a friend that's a machinist, and don't want to ask them what they want for the holidays because they'd say something that's several thousand dollars, there are several lower cost alternatives that would still show that you care.  Many consumables used regularly in the shop are always handy and would certainly be a welcome gift:

#5 - Lava Soap
They say machinists wash their hands before and after using the bathroom, or in my case, before only... (they're gonna get dirty again anyways).  Make sure to get the one with the red packaging since it is more abrasive and cleans better than the green packaged one (both soap bars are green and look nearly identical).  Funny that "lava" means "wash" in Spanish, yet the name comes from the volcanic pumice powder in the soap.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Rye Stout Batch #4

Prior to taking a vacation, I decided it was a good idea to get a batch into my fermenters. That way, I could bottle it the day I return. Convenient timing!

What better recipe to follow up on pumpkin cider with than Rye Stout? Using the same recipe as before, I set out to buy some grain.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pumpkin Cider #3 Bottling


The pumpkin cider is now bottled and came out tasting great. With 7.75% ABV, this is a real winter warmer. My latest photos show the progression of the removal of pumpkin from the liquid. There was about 3/4 gal of pumpkin slurry that was removed following the initial fermentation.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Grapefruit Sapling Timelapse: Seed to First Fruit

With the success of my brother's container garden timelapse post, I figured I'd share my success growing my first grapefruit from seed.
It started with a bunch of seeds that were already germinating inside some fruit I bought.  I planted one in this cup of dirt and tried the rest hydroponically since I didn't have any other dirt at the time.  None of the hydroponic ones ever grew.
11/5/2015
Due to space constraints, I planted the lone grapefruit sapling with a pineapple. On the top are rose petals for ground cover.
6/6/2016

Saturday, November 4, 2017

2017 Fall/Winter Container Garden Timelapse

The tomato plants I brought with me from my former residence were dying off. After removing them from the container, I wanted to plant something new in there. After seeing how prolific the Chard and kale plants were in my old garden, I threw some seeds in there. Red Russian Kale and Bright Lights Swiss Chard should be able to establish themselves quick enough to make it before winter time.

Germination -- September 22

Friday, November 3, 2017

Bicycle Camping 2 - Guajome Park, Oceanside CA

Bicycle Camping 1 - O'Neill Park

It was time once again to hit the road for an overnight trip.  This time, the destination was Guajome Park in Oceanside, conveniently located along the San Luis Rey river trail and situated about half way between the beach and Fallbrook.  The ride from north Orange County was around 70 miles. Along the way we ran into many wonderful things, some of which I actually got pictures of, enjoy!

We begin with a picture of my bike loaded up with the new equipment.  And by that, I mean a new camping mat that's about 6 times thicker than the yoga mat I tried sleeping on last time.  This one I bought from an army surplus store (also in Oceanside), I paid good money for it, ~$17, but I think it will be a worthwhile investment.  Especially for that cross country bike trip I got planned later on. oops, spoiler alert!
This picture was actually taken right after my super scrap alchemy find of a free foundry sand sieve on the side of the road. That was part of this trip as well.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pumpkin Cider Batch #3


My supply of homebrew started running low. Since I did not want to attempt a full brew day in my new place, I opted to make an old holiday favorite... Pumpkin Cider! I used the same recipe from my first batch. Also using a different stove.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bicycle Stereo Rebuild

Part 1 - First Build
Part 2 - Sirius Stereo

Where we last left the original bike stereo, the top part had snapped off.
bike stereo broken
I'd realized the Sirius stereo still wasn't loud enough (and kind of awkward to fit on the bike), so I decided to finally add those angle brackets.
fixing old bike stereo design with angle brackets
One problem... the original stereo didn't exactly fit into my new larger basket, so it's time for a rebuild.  The good news is that the new basket will allow for a more compact design with the speakers right next to each other- therefore, more stable and louder as well.
old bike stereo configuration not fitting in new basket

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Taking Apart an Air Conditioner

I saw this old air conditioner sitting next to the dumpster and was considering taking it apart for some scrap alchemy action.  The problem was I didn't want to deal with the freon/refrigerant since I heard it's some pretty nasty stuff and probably illegal to release into the atmosphere.  A few days later, I saw that somebody else opened it up and cut off some of the copper tubing thereby taking the responsibility for letting out the freon off my hands... score, now let's take it apart!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Scrap Alchemy Prevails! New Foundry Sand Sieve

I had been planning to build a new sieve for my foundry sand, but due to unforeseen circumstances, it got delayed again. The first sieve I made was just some very thin plastic with a window screen stapled on it, but the plastic disintegrated.  The 2nd one was a metal one I bought at a garage sale for $1, but the holes were too small to let sand through at any decent rate.  I was planning to use some 1/4" chicken wire connected to a wooden hoop, but imagine my surprise when I found this on the side of the street 4 days later:
Hey, what's that?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

DO NOT EAT THIS PLANT!!!! (Castor Bean Poisoning Story)

DO NOT EAT THIS PLANT DO NOT EAT THIS PLANT DO NOT EAT IT DID I MENTION DO NOT EAT THIS?
I had seen this plant for years, growing just about everywhere they don't use lawn mowers.  It seemed logical that if they were letting this plant grow so commonly, that it couldn't possibly be harmful, and if it were, somebody clearly would've told me by now.  No words could've ever been so untrue.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Trip to Portland

Around this time last year, I went on a trip to Portland.  It was about time, I was finally able to see the city everybody's been telling me I should move to.  While the city's motto is "Keep Portland Weird", I was surprised to find that this was easily the most normal city I'd ever been to.  I arrived with the expectation of a city full of hippies, with farmers' markets on every street all day and lots of guys obsessed with craft beer, handlebar mustaches and riding fixies... For better or for worse, my expectations fell far short.  I cannot stress how much of a regular city this is.
satellite view of portland downtown

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vineyard Relocated and Wine Progress

I was able to get my vineyard relocated to my new place. Thankfully, since I harvested a few weeks ago, I didn't have to worry about grapes falling off. Nearly all the vines had rooted from their container into the soil. No wonder they were always doing so well.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Taking Apart a Refrigerator Compressor

One day I was watching a Huell Howser episode on refrigerator recycling.  I was curious about the compressor part for two reasons; 1. I was considering building another bicycle powered compressor for a full fledged bicycle foundry vegetable oil burner, and 2. I'd read during a research project that they use permanent magnet brushless motors in applications like this and wanted to build a generator with them (also bicycle powered of course). 
Immediately after watching the episode, I went for a walk and conveniently, found a refrigerator next to the dumpster.  I jumped at this amazingly obvious scrap alchemy opportunity.  I noticed somebody else had already cut the copper pipes that would contain the freon, so I was already exempt from having to deal with that issue.  I went out with some tools and within a matter of 10 minutes had taken off the compressor and also the cooling fan.
Let's take it apart!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

2017 Estate Blend


For those who didn't know, within the past month, I've had to move out of my old residence due to unforeseen circumstances. Luckily the timing of the move was right as the grapes were ripe enough. So I was able to harvest grapes from my portable vineyard for this year's estate blend.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

CC Pale Ale Bottling


Following fermentation of CC Pale Ale, secondary fermentation and coffee treatment had to be completed.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Homemade Walnut Pesto

From today's harvest, I pulled quite a lot of basil in. Since I still had some walnuts left over from a special gift last year, I decided to make some pesto.

4th of July Harvest and Garden Images


The garden is progressing along well in this heat. The new tomato bed is slowly but surely catching up to the other bed.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bicycle Camping 1 - O'Neill Park & La Pata Extension

Deep behind the "Orange Curtain", (and I mean really deep, deeper than Irvine), there exists a region that is of utmost niceness.  However one wishes to describe it, it is distinctly separated from the rest of the surrounding area by a canyon which is  passable only by one of four bridges (which probably didn't even exist 30 years ago), a toll road, or a 2 lane undivided highway.  This is the area encompassing the communities of Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto De Caza, Ladera Ranch, etc.  I have come to refer to it as the "Holy Land" of Orange County, not only because of the seemingly high concentration of churches or the naming of Santa Margarita, but because of the symbolic crossing over Trabuco Canyon required to enter.  You see, Trabuco Canyon was named so because of some Spanish explorer who had lost his gun (trabuco) in the canyon.  Thus making it a land devoid of violence... or at least that's how my imagination puts it together....  I know that many famous people live in the area especially since Coto De Caza is an entirely walled city, (meaning only the people that live there and their gardeners are allowed in). Last time I checked, 2 members of Linkin Park, and Warren G were among its residents (which also means he must not have been very far from home when I saw him perform at How The West Was Won in Irvine).
The "Holy Land"

5 Vegetables to grow during Extreme Summer Heat


If you live in an area that regularly experiences high temperatures exceeding 95°F, you may have difficulty growing certain plants. Fortunately, there are many varieties of vegetables (including greens) that can withstand the heat. Here's a list of 5 of my favorite varieties for the summer.

1) Basil

Basil loves sunshine and hot weather, and it pairs well with many plants in the garden. As it is able to be quickly and easily propagated from seeds or cuttings, it's hard for it to not thrive in the garden. And for those who do not have land, it is a great container plant.

Featured Variety: Genovese

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bright Lights Swiss Chard

Much like the other Swiss Chard I've grown, Bright Lights is a winner. It's especially fancy because it grows in many different colors, namely yellow and pink.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Annexing and Irrigating more Garden Areas


I had a lot of tomato plants extra in my nursery, but the main garden was full. I especially did not have enough containers or extra soil to plant them all in. So what did I do? I figure I can make the most of some more space in the backyard and create a satellite garden plot.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

CC Pale Ale -- Brew Day + Recipe

*The Cs stand for Coffee and Cascade.


A cool day appeared on the horizon. I took inventory and realized I needed to make some more beer. The next recipe I had in mind involved combining beer with some home roasted coffee... so I decided to make a coffee pale ale.

Friday, June 9, 2017

San Marzano Tomato

San Marzano is a classic Italian paste tomato. As I intend to make a lot of salsa and sauces, I chose this tomato as it is an indeterminant variety, as compared to a tomato like Roma. This one should be fun to cross with some of the other tomatoes I've planted this year.

Red Russian Kale


Red Russian Kale is unique variety of kale, in that it can be grown to full size, or enjoyed as a small leaf plant. It can be harvested multiple times in a year before going to seed.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Displeasures of Machining Fiberglass

For part of the <secret project> mentioned in the previous video on wood turning, I needed an insulating material for an electrical connection.  I had found this mystery piece of plastic on the side of the street and figured I'd try using it.  When I first picked it up I actually thought it was aluminum because of the weight and stiffness, but after scraping it on the ground, I started thinking it was chalk or something. I tried parting it off in the lathe, and it appeared to machine pretty decently and left a nice finish, clearly some type of resin or something.
Then I tried turning the outer diameter.... Aww SH*T! It's fiberglass!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Counting the wine bottles before the grapes ripen

Now with the new grapevines established, let's see what I can expect this year in terms of a harvest and 2017 Estate Blend.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ruby Queen Beet


I decided to give beets a try again this year. I had never had luck growing them well in the container garden, guess they didn't get enough sun to develop a nice sized root. I'm planting these in with the Swiss Chard, as those tend to do good. They'll be grown for dual purpose, the leaves and the roots. The thinned out beet microgreens had a nice buttery taste to them.

Genovese Basil


This is the basil you grow if you want to make pesto. My seeds seem to germinate reliably, and this basil really develops well indoors under the grow lights. Will be cloning this variety off to populate the garden.

Buttercrunch Lettuce

Decided to try out a new variety of lettuce this year. This lettuce is a semiheading variety that can supposedly resist some heat. After seeing how prolific it is in other people's yards/hydroponic systems, I decided to go for this one. I've had good luck getting this variety to germinate too. The transplants I've put in my garden are also holding up to the hot weather my climate gets!

My first crop I've harvested out right before the heatwave was about to hit. Lettuce hardly had any bitter taste to it. Had the traditional buttery texture! This variety is an early summer champ.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

2017 Garden Expansion Overview -- Plants and Strategy

Now with all the field work out of the way, here's what's going to be growing out in the backyard.


I've designated 3 different zones with the landscape fabric. One is spaced with 6" centers, while the other two are spaced with 8" centers.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lathe Machining 16" Diameter Wood


More detail not covered in the video:

It all started when the law of Scrap Alchemy provided me with a bunch of free wood to experiment with.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Field Prep Pt 3 -- Erecting a Tomato & Pepper Trellis


Once the tomatoes and peppers get established in the yard, they'll need some support. Since the spacing on all my plants is such where traditional tomato cages would not have enough space to be viable (and too costly), I thought of a more practical solution.

Field Prep pt 2-- Creating the Crop Rows


With the rows formed in the yard, I decided to try a trick I learned from some urban farming videos.
The idea is to cover and plant my crops using some weed control fabric. In the fabric itself, you can cut holes to where the plants go. This is especially useful for keeping the distance inbetween plants consistent.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Field Prep Pt 1 -- Tilling the Land -- Playing with new Toys

So what is all this indoor seed starting leading to? Big thinking. A massive garden expansion.

Since the yard has absolutely nothing growing in it, I figure that this would be a good year to actually do something to it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Indoor Seed Starting Shelf

Inspired by many videos of practical farming, I finally learned why much of my past seed starting has resulted in failure. 1) Lack of light & 2) Poor soil media. In this guide, I build a proper seed starting shelf to start my seedlings indoors.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

DIY Soil Sifter

Inspired by many videos of practical farming, I finally learned why much of my past seed starting has resulted in failure. 1) Lack of light & 2) Poor soil media. In this guide, I build a soil sifter to help with the second issue.

Most of the soil media I've tried using to start seeds has had a ton of wood chips or has been compacted beyond belief. A soil sifter will help with that problem. Here's how I built mine:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Vineyard Additions for 2017

Continuing my annual tradition, this year I acquired some new grapevines from Picnic Day.

See vineyard additions from past years: 2014 -- 2015 -- 2016 -- 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rye Stout Batch 3 Bottling


Got the latest batch of Rye Stout bottled. The beer finished at 1.010, giving it 6% ABV. This is what the previous batch ended up at, so we're off to a good start with consistency!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Crucible and Casting Brass

I had never really gotten around to buying a "real" crucible for melting anything hotter than aluminum.  The one time I made it to the foundry supply store, I forgot that they closed at 3 PM, and it was 3:15 or something. 

2 Years later: I got invited to American Foundry Society/ North American Die Casting Association annual vendor's night.  This is an event where people from the industry get together and showcase their products, hang out, and have a good time.  Personally, I was just there for the free food.  Long story short, each vendor booth had a raffle prize, and judging by the proximity of this crucible to the ticket jar, I thought it was the prize.  I asked if it was because I had been in the market for one, but it turned out they were only giving away $100 cash.  Still, I bet most of my tickets on them since it seemed like one of the better prizes compared with all the alcohol, golf accessories, and gift cards for restaurants that don't have enough vegan menu items... But I really wanted the crucible!  At the end, I didn't win any of the drawings, but the nice people at Advanced Ceramics and Crucible decided to give me the crucible anyways!  I guess when you're young and have your own foundry, people treat you differently or something (it's because in an industry like this, they're hard pressed to find young people interested in it, there's actually quite a shortage of people to replace those retiring).  Hey, it worked before when I accidentally got a free lathe.  This goes along with a discussion we had there was about "what got you interested casting?"  Of course for me it was the concept of being able to melt and recycle your own metal, and cast seemingly unlimited parts from a single pattern, and in the case of a vegetable oil furnace, for practically free.  Going back even further, it was probably the "Foundry" level from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 where I first learned the word "foundry".
OSHA's gonna sue somebody
Anyhow, it's a silicon carbide crucible which, if I remember correctly from chemistry class, is nearly identical to diamond in its molecular structure and almost as hard, but who cares?  Let's melt some metal!
Grapefruit for size reference

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Coffee Roasting Log #2

Upgrading roasting capability
For my roasting, I've acquired an air pop popcorn maker. I'm more familiar with this method as opposed to pan roasting as I have roasted with the popcorn maker before.