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Smokin' Some More

This isn't going to turn into a food blog but, here is another post where I show a bunch of grilled meat. Since my last post was the first time I had smoked anything, it's all still quite new to me. I know I'm going to screw it up eventually but, maybe if I keep track of what I'm doing, I'll keep the screw ups down to a minimum. Anyway, I'm hoping to start catching some sales on various meats so I can prepare them on the weekends in the smoker and have it for lunch throughout the week. On the smoker this weekend was a 4lb boneless pork loin and 10lbs of chicken leg quarters. First I started with the chicken. I made up a brine with some Creole seasoning (1 gallon of water and 1/2 cup of the seasoning) and let the chicken soak in it for a total of three hours. For the loin, I decided to basically do it like I did the pork shoulder last weekend. First, I coated it with mustard and a pork rub and left it to sit while I prepped the smoker. Once the smoker was up to around 225F, I tossed in some chunks of hickory a…

Now I'm Smokin'

Something that I've always loved is grilling food. Fire up the grill, put on some tunes, grab a cold drink and after the cooking is done, enjoy some smokey great food. I can't say that I'm a grill master or anything but, I rarely have complaints. So long as you don't overcook whatever you're cooking, the grill is quite forgiving. The added smoke flavor makes nearly anything taste better. So why have I never gotten a smoker? Good question. Recently, a buddy at work brought in a charcoal smoker for me, that hadn't been used in many years. He now uses an electric smoker and this one was sitting in a shed, gathering dust. I gladly brought it home, cleaned it up and made plans to use it as soon as possible. My wife and I decided to make pulled pork for Mothers Day. w00t! I couldn't wait for the weekend. :) The day before the big smoke out, I figured that it'd be best to fire up the smoker to test it out. The water pan in it had a couple of small rust holes which would not be good for attempting to keep a fire go…

Shifty Times

This morning as I'm (un)happily working away at work, my wife calls and says that her car will not shift into park. Well crap. No matter what she'd try, it just wouldn't go. Also, with her car, you cannot remove the ignition key until it is in park. So I leave work, heading to rescue her from sitting in the car with no place to go (or park, or something...). After arriving, I was able to tear into the console enough to see that the button on the shifter handle (it has to be pressed to go into certain gears) wasn't moving the internal rods enough. At this point, I wasn't sure if it was the shifter handle or something caught elsewhere not allowing the rods to move freely. But, I was able to wiggle a screwdriver around enough that the car would now go into park. OK, problem one solved, we could get the key out and were fairly certain that the car wouldn't roll off. She heads into work and I head home to gather some tools and knowledge. The first result from a Seeks search returned just enough info for me to susp…

Switching It Up

The headlight switch in my ol' pickup decided to crap out, leaving me with headlights/taillights that wouldn't stay on for my whole ~15 minute drive to work. #suboptimal Also, my high beam switch crapped out some time back so all I had were low beams. This wasn't much of a big deal, the majority of my driving doesn't even require headlights, making the high beams even less needed. Still, #suboptimal. So, it was time to take care of this problem. For the dimmer switch, I wasn't about to take the steering column apart. I don't have the tools required to properly take and replace the steering wheel first off. Secondly, it's a pain in the ass when you don't have the proper tools. So, when rounding up the parts I needed for today's repairs, I grabbed some automotive wire and a simple toggle switch. Seeing that I've replaced the headlight switch once before, I knew that part was going to be quite easy. And now, I'll let a few photos speak for the repair job. Seems that one terminal on the switch was quite burnt.…

Gentlemen's Road Trip (part two)

_This is a continuation of my previous post... _ Nate's show was great, of course though, I may be a little biased. It's always awesome to see these shows from back stage and see first hand at the amount of work that goes on by everyone. Especially at an event as big as this was. Watching the "roadie" (who was Nathan Meese, who's brother plays drums for Nataniel Rateliff & the Fairchildren) run back and forth switching guitars around, and tuning them. The stage crew shuffling the previous band and the next band's equipment around. The stage manager keeping everyone in line. Watching the band interact during and between the songs. Certainly quite a bit of work going on all around. After a bit of relaxing, we heard this massive volume of music coming from the main stage and headed to check it out. Turns out it was Gogol Bordello, a "Gypsy Punk" band. This group had so much energy emitting from the stage that you were nearly wore out just watching them. To me, they sounded quite a bit like System of a Down…

Gentlemen's Road Trip

Saturday was another of those days only possible due to having a brother, Joe, active in the music scene. His band Fairchildren is also the backing band for Nathaniel Rateliff. Nate and my brother have played together for quite some time, since the mid to late 90's. At one point, Nate and I lived together with another friend and he also lived with my Mom and brothers for a time as well. For me, Nate is a brother from another mother. So, any time he plays somewhere somewhat close, especially if he has the full band with him, I like to go watch and visit. A few weeks ago, my brother sent a text asking if I was interested in going to the show that they were playing in Dixon, IL. It was a six hour drive but, the show was on a Saturday so I said hell yeah. Along with my wife and Mom, my brother was able to have three guest passes set aside for us. The show that we were heading to was part of the Mumford & Sons "Gentlemen of the Road" tour and there were eight bands to play, most of which I hadn't heard much of…

Using a full image as html background

As some of my regular visitors may have noticed (or those who follow me via StatusNet), I've been working on redesigning my site. I've moved from a massive edit on the default Drupal 7 theme, Bartik + another theme for mobile to using an AdaptiveTheme sub theme. The beauty of the AdaptiveThemes is that it is a responsive design to start with therefore, you only really need one theme for all screen sizes. I've been having quite a bit of fun hacking away at the theme, adding some eye candy without letting the overall theme to become too overweight. Of course, this is usually the goal for most webdevs. One piece of eye candy that I really wanted was a full screen photo as the background. Of course, having a full resolution photo may not lead to a very lightweight design. Luckily, we have a fantastic command line tool that can help, ImageMagick. By using ImageMagick, I've managed to have (in my opinion at least) a quite nice looking background while keeping the overall page load size at 289.9kb. This page size…

Hacking on my wife's car

About a month ago, my wife's car (2004 Pontiac Grand Am) decided not to start. The starter would turn but the ignition just wouldn't ignite. So, after work I tried to figure out what was going on but, couldn't come to any conclusions. At all. We said to hell with it for that night and borrowed my mother-in-laws vehicle so my wife could use it the next day. Once we got home, had dinner, etc. I hit up my Seeks node to see if I could find something relevant. Eventually I came across a GM forum which led to this post. Everything I read on the forum and the post sounded like how the car was acting. It was pointing to the security system as being the culprit and specifically the ignition switch. It also said (which I overlooked in the owners manual since I wasn't looking at the issue being with the security system...) that you could leave the key on for ten minutes after the car didn't start and the security system would reset itself. Which would allow it to start. So, off I went across town to see if I could get t…

The Fall of the Chrysler Plant

My father spent ~30 years working in one of two of the Chrysler Assembly Plants located St. Louis MO. A few years ago, as the American auto industry was collapsing upon itself, he was able to take an early retirement package. Prior to his retirement, one of the plants was closed and some time after retirement, the second plant was closed. And now sadly, both plants have been bulldozed down. I’ve got many memories from my childhood, riding past the plants, feeling pride that my dad worked there building cars. Memories of Family Day tours, looking at the robotics and feeling quite small in the huge facilities. It’s a shame how mismanaged the American auto industry had gotten throughout the years. And how the quality had slipped to the point that customer loyalty dropped, causing import vehicle sales to soar and jobs lost. Some have yet to find work… At least we always had a roof over our heads, dinner on the table and excellent health care. Oh, and Christmases were always great. (but that’s a different story) T…

Some 4thofJuly Firework Photos

With myself being a shutterbug and it being Independence Day only meant that I’d be shooting some fireworks pictures. I grabbed my Canon 40D, tripod, shutter remote and a couple of filters (ND4 and 8-Point Star) and was ready to go. On the camera, I set it to manual with the shutter speed set at ‘bulb’. The ‘bulb’ setting allows for full control of the opening and closing of the shutter. This easily allows for you to get the long shutter speeds you’ll need for shooting fireworks. I also set the ISO at a max of 400 to help keep the noise down. Any remaining noise was taken care of once I got home with Bibble5 Pro which has Noise Ninja included. For these few photos, only slight editing/cropping was done. Mostly a slight contrast adjustment and a touch of the Noise Ninja.…

ISS Sighting 2

Got another chance to see the International Space Station tonight. Should have gotten a couple more shots but the camera didn’t like going from the A/C to the 95F and 79% humidity night tonight, the camera fogged up pretty quickly……

ISS Sighting

I recently was able to catch a glimpse of the International Space Station as it flew overhead. Actually, not just once but twice within two nights with the potential of seeing it each of the next four evenings. It’s quite cool watching it blast across the sky considering it flies at 17,000+ mph with an average altitude of 173 mi.1 A few of the tools I use to catch a glimpse: The Sighting Opportunities feed is a good place to start as it will give you times, duration and location to see ISS. Stellarium is a fantastic piece of open source software that turns your computer into your own personal planetarium. With it, I can take my EeePC outside and have a nearly realtime view of the location of ISS. That way I can see when it’ll be above the horizon. The Android app Satellite AR uses the compass, GPS and camera on your device to show you locations of satellites by using augmented reality. And of course, my trusty Canon 40D to capture this image: The shots I took aren’t perfect but hey, I’ve got a few more oppo…

Thunder Valley Panorama

Image link Panorama assembled with Hugin using five photographs. I'm sure I could get this to look a little better but, it was a quick job on my EeePC for now... EDIT: New version of panorama Image link And here is another one, I used 7 photographs for it. Image Link…

Underground

Honk, Honk. I always have to honk the horn when driving through a tunnel and the Cumberland Gap Tunnel was no exception. I'd always heard of the cumberland gap and the tunnel but, never been through it. On my recent trip from mid-Missouri to eastern Tennessee my path led me through six states and didn't realize that we'd be going through this tunnel. The tunnel is located at the Kentucky / Tennessee / Virginia border, (map). OK, maybe I need to go out of the state of Missouri more often if I was this excited about a tunnel... But, I am glad that google maps had routed my trip through it. For more info on the tunnel itself, check the wikipedia page.…