July 1, 2014

Switch blade fob

You know when you have a project and you have to purchase a special tool or a package of supplies to accomplish it?  You use the tool once or the remainder of supplies that go into a box somewhere to either get lots, damaged or dry out before you can use it again?

Well tonight I got to use lithium grease on another thing!  I originally bought it to lubricate my car door, then used it on my house door.  Tonight I used it to lubricate the stupid switch-blade action on my car key.

It didn't fix the problem but it's a little better.

Apparently in an effort to curb car thefts, modern manufacturers have special cut keys in addition to RFID chips in the fob.  This means that if a replacement is needed, it has to be ordered from the manufacturer through dealership for ~$150 and then programmed by them for an additional ~$100. 

For a key. A spare key is going to be just shy of $300. 

The RFID chip is also made out of glass. This makes it difficult to handle without breaking.  If it breaks and it's the only key then the car is immobilized and will not start.   It will need to be towed to the dealership and a new key ordered and programmed.

The chip is glued into the fob, using nail polish remover I was able to loosen it up and transfer it to a new fob purchased from Amazon.  The new key isn't really flush with the fob so it takes some work to extend.

June 29, 2014


Lots of tools are not Buy It For Life. That's OK, even things that don't last forever can be used for a very long time.

These gloves are Mechanix gloves I got on special from Sears for $4 almost two years ago. I bought them because of the low price, they retail for ~$25.  Once I started working out doors more they got a lot more use. 

Digging up the rusting roof panels from the yard spelled their demise.  Now I wear them when I'm using a shovel or machete, just an extra buffer between me and the handle.

Eventually they'll deteriorate enough to be scrapped completely.  Then the newer gloves will get holes and be demoted to tool duty. 

I do the same thing with abrasive sponges in the kitchen. New sponges clean lightly dirty dishes, the older sponge scoops out teh refried beans, soups and anythign else mushy or dirty that may get stuck.  Eventually the new sponge gets old and dirty and the cycle repeats itself.

Old shirts become rags. Cardboard boxes become ground cover to deter weeds. So while I'm still living in a disposable culture, everything gets two lives.  It may not cut my wast exactly in half but every little bit helps.

June 20, 2014

Simple tools to secure browsing.

Here are some the tools that I use in my browsing habits.  

  • Pry-Fi - Changes your MAC randomly while connected to WiFi. Good for public WiFi.

  • Tor Browser - Does not need to be installed. Makes your traffic anonymous. It runs on Firefox and comes with HTTPS Anywhere. Don't torrent over it.  
  • HTTPS Anywhere - Browser plug-in developed by the EFF. A good idea for any browser.
  • Incognito / Privacy mode - This is the most basic of protections.  Useful if you ever sit down on someone else's computer.   The browser doesn't remember anything locally.  It does not protect your Internet traffic it just covers your tracks on the computer you're using.

May 18, 2014

Painting tethers

We have a pen where the goats sleep at night, it has plenty of shade and cover from rain with enough room to walk around and is secluded enough that it keeps them calm.

In the morning we take them out and tether them around the yard to eat back the jungle.  We started with premade tethers designed for small dogs but they fall apart after a few weeks because these goats a strong! And they like to pull!

From the hardware store I bought vinyl coated steel wire rope. Each end gets an eyelet and cable clamps.  I have 3/8" and 3/16" tethers in use. The smaller diameter the wire rope, the more difficult it is to assemble the clamps.  One end gets a caribeaner to easily attach and detach from a post and the goat end gets a steel link that is more difficult to open and close. 

A loose goat goes straight for the things we just planted and then to the things we planted last week. Iʻve turned my back on a tethered goat only to have it walk past me to get to the sweet grass.  I'm pretty sure they grow thumbs while I'm not looking.

The tethers get dirty and after a few weeks the eyelets, clamps and carribeaners start to rust. A gray dirty cable is difficult to find lying in the woods and late in the evening so we bought some neon orange spraypaint to make them stand out.  I coil the cables up so that when I spray the ends I also hit the body of the cable, this creates stripes to help with visibility and also wastes (a tiny bit) less paint.

I paint in a box to reduce splash damage.

May 15, 2014


We've been in this house about a year.  It was a foreclosure and had been vacant for 2 years so the jungle had grown a lot.  Having our own house and land that needs a lot of work has turned us into homesteaders.

Washing a dog on 2.5 acres of land is homesteading.  Clearing brush on that land is homesteading.  Doing these things in your postage stamp of a yard is not.  I don't know why.

Homesteading means pickling, making our own yogurt, cutting down trees and digging up stumps. Digging up invasive species by the roots and composting on a larger scale.

I have sharpening stones and I sharpened my two machetes, garden clippers, wood chisels.

We get views like this. While this isn't amazing and picturesque Hawaii, it is quiet.  There're no people or cars or buildings.  This is the view from the corner of our property of our neighbor's cow fields.

The jungle is so dense that I still haven't walked from one side to the other through the middle.

Friday is new goat day.  Two new little white ladies will join the herd.  I hope this will make Lani feel a little less lonely with her sister is gone.   It means a lot more grass to eat, which means I need to be on my game for working in the yard, taking advantage of what they clear.  I don't have a budget to build anything on that space but maybe I can put down cardboard and rocks to keep it clear. 

May 4, 2014

Field trip

I went on a field trip to Volcano National Park with ~50 fourth and fifth graders.

It. Was. Awesome.

I drove a van and was responsible for 13 kids over two days.  I finally learned most of their names. It still a challenge call everyone to get them rounded up so we named our van Super Group.  And we had our poop in a group.

I got them to be kind of quiet when I needed and they all came running when I yelled "Super Group hele mai."

When there's no school work and only adventure and exploration then kids are totally peaches.  Put them outside away from kendamas and homework and they behave pretty well.  The only time I had trouble was when they were exposed to a buffet and they started experimenting with food.

We spent the night in KMC, military barracks.  Perfect for kids. Volcano is mostly a tourist destination, so it was awesome go to see touristsʻ faces when the instructors were yelling at the kids in Hawaiian. Itʻs telling to see that tourists have the same sense of entitlement as 4th graders.

We went on hikes and I hoped would exhaust the kiddos but they were still up at 5:30 all on their own.  I told them to keep it down so they played cards. We spent most of both days on our feet, I came home sore, stiff and tired but it really helped stretch out my back and it felt a lot better for about 2 weeks.  My Hawaiian improved measurably.

I spend most days in a computer lab and have peripheral interaction with these kids on a daily basis.

They all know me but until this trip I only knew the names of the bad kids.  Being responsible for them changed the dynamic. I was assigned most of the low key good kids and they were a blast. We had conversations and inside jokes.  I got to hear them sing the lyrics to salacious pop songs.

It was nice to become friends with these kids.

Oh beautiful, prescient Anne. I know just how you feel.

April 21, 2014

Netflix streaming

We canceled Netflix streaming service about 6 weeks ago because we were spending too much time watching videos.  It was a little uncomfortable getting used finding other stimuli but I've given up entertainment to accomplish a goal before.

Since giving up Netflix we've
  • cleared the opening to our driveway and can now use it, 9 months after installation. 
  • Cleaned the attic. Rats, dead rats, rat poop & pee and nests. Cleaned up and bleached.
  • Processed the strawberry guavie in our front yard 6 months after cutting them down
  • Installed Manjaro on my laptop
  • Built a terraced garden ready for planting
  • Planted ti plants which Lani promptly ate.

We have a guest coming tomorrow so we turned the streaming service back on and we still can't find anything to watch.

April 16, 2014

Clearing the driveway

I watch Wranglerstar a lot. I don't really care for the guy but he does a lot and he makes a lot of videos so there's always something to watch. He's from the Northwest so his challenges of winter and woodstoves are not mine, he's also very well funded. I tried Yankeeprepper but the first video I saw was called Rules for Being a Man and the first rule was to not read directions. The rest of the rules were just as stupid.

I wish there was a Hawai'i Homesteading channel. I think that if I can't find one that means I should make it.

I spend most Saturdays working on our land. Wifey has a Saturday shift so it's a nice time to spend in the yard. We want a lanai extension in the back but that land has to be cleared. Before that we want to use the driveway and the opening has to be widened and cleared. That's what I'm focusing on now.

Mostly it's moving brush and dead ferns. I pile it up about 100 feet away in an area we don't use yet. I hope it's a while before we do because I don't want to move it again. The land is rocky, bumpy and over grown so using a wheelbarrow is difficult. Long sleeves are hot in HI so doing this by hand leaves a lot of scratches. Those scratches are a good badge of accomplishment.

Once the brush is cleared I have to widen the entrance. There's a straight path to the road but the delta is pretty narrow for ingress and egress and there's a steep drop on either side. Luckily we have lots of blue rock (lava rock) to fill with. I may not get to that this weekend but soon. Fill in in the big areas with big rocks first, then smaller rocks and smaller still. Once the big stuff is done I'll cover it with cinder to fill in the gaps. I imagine I'll have to keep filling it in as it settles.

These are the projects in front of me.

February 8, 2014

Steam A

I've been on a shoestring budget for a while so instead of buying new things I'm trying to play through my Steam library.

  • And Yet It Moves- Lots of fun, puzzles and timing.  The pacing was perfect for Wife to play too!
  • Audiosurf - Perennial. This games gets lots of play in my house. Everyone already has the highest of scores for all the songs I want to play which is kind of a bummer.
  • Aquaria - I'm not much of a a mood gamer, I don't care about the setting, art or poetry especially in a game. I don't buy into the world very easily and I think that's required for this game.  I turned it off after a few corny lines.
  • Assassin's Creed - Same as it was the first time. Limited movements, forced game play style. I never saw the appeal.  I think I wanted to switch up my inventory a little more, like the Hitman series but set in a different time period.  Lots of cut scenes that can't be skipped. No thanks.
  • Atom Zombie Smasher - It was a lot more fun than I expected. Kind of reminded me of GTA 1 with the top down view. Actually more like Risk with zombies.  When you start the game you can turn on a few handicaps, adding two meant I won with flying colors.

February 5, 2014

Steve Martin

Is this 0th place on the Heirarchy of Jokes? Recycle the same material decades later and see if anyone realizes?  Now I see in the comments that I'm not the first to discover this, but I realized it on my own!



January 11, 2014

Air filter

When I popped the trunk this morning I noticed the cabin air filter that I purchased about 4 months ago but never installed. It's sunny today so I decided to work on the car and take care of it.

It took about 15 minutes. The instructions I found in a forum post said there would be T25 Torx screws. I have T4 - T9 from computer work and a T70 from my Forester. I spent 5 minutes searching for a substitute driver only to find that the car actually takes Philips instead, and not Torx. 2.5 minutes was spent removing the old filter. I spent 5 minutes showing Wife the difference between the old and new filters. The remaining 2.5 minutes went to installing the new filter.
The car is a 2003 Jetta. The old filter is made in Germany, the new one is from China. The old filter is probably the original. That's 11 years with the same filter. Yikes.

I shook out the floor mats, applied armor-all to the interior, Rain-X externally and glass-cleaner to the interior glass, refilled the window washer fluid (labeled: For Summer use only) and replaced the battery in the fob.  I replaced the fuse for the cigarette lighter. I blew the fuse when I accidentally dropped my wedding ring into the power socket and saw a few sparks.