I’m a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and have been my entire life. I didn’t really get a solid appreciation and knowledge of what that meant from a historical and theological perspective until my college theology courses at Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC). Through my study in coursework and research for papers, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of my faith body and why we do some of the things we do. This deeper understanding includes the origin and traditions of our liturgy, as well as the concept of fellowship. More recently I’ve been thinking and reading more about why women aren’t allowed to vote or serve as voting members on boards in our church. What I found was more than I expected.
Most toilet paper holders are functional, but are frustrating. They are frustrating mostly, because they are overly complex. The other frustrating thing about traditional, spring-loaded toilet paper holders is living with people who are too lazy to replace an empty roll. The new roll just sits on top of the old one, making the entire holder useless.
Five years ago I wrote a post detailing my media server setup. The post is woefully out of date from a hardware standpoint, but only slightly out of date from a software standpoint. The endpoint of my systems is still a Roku with the Plex app, but now I have a almost three-year-old Roku 2, which is significantly faster than my old Roku HD. Currently I’d recommend the Roku Stick or Stick+.
When we moved almost 4 years ago, the old laptop I was using for a server would no longer turn on. Instead I’ve been using a low-powered Windows 8.1 HP Stream Mini desktop combined with an external hard drive. If I were to buy one today, I’d get a similar cheap PC or maybe a refurb desktop, since the HP Stream is discontinued. Since all of my media is directly played by the Roku/Plex, the computer can be wimpy since it doesn’t do any transcoding, just serving.
Ever since we bought our house, we knew we wanted to finish our basement. The basement is dry, ceilings are high (enough), and we want to maximize our living space. To facilitate the process, last summer we had our electrical panel upgraded as well as the electrical service buried (no more overhead wires!). Besides the financial impact of the electrical work, our daughter was born last May, so it wasn’t really in the cards for me to start working on the basement then.
Now is the time.
Even though I wasn’t going to start work on the basement last year, I did learn enough Sketchup to come up with some to-scale floor plans.
Since I do product reviews and lots of product research, I’m frequently posting Amazon links. To help me send better links and make me a small amount of affiliate money, I made a new Firefox and Chrome extension.
If you use it without adding any affiliate code, your purchases support me and this blog.
Based on a project I found on Github, Amazon Affiliate Linkerizer puts a button in your browser on Amazon pages. When you click it, it cleans up the link and add an affiliate code to the end. The code is customizable per the options page…otherwise it supports me with my affiliate code. If you use it without adding any affiliate code, your purchases support me and this blog.
If you want to try out this plugin, get it for Firefox or Chrome:
I could release it for Microsoft Edge, but I don’t want to pay the $25 developer fee. (My company paid the $5 developer fee for Chrome, since I had a work-related extension first.)
Every winter I get excited about gardening and get eager to start growing. A couple years ago I almost bought an Aerogarden. I didn’t because of its cost, but I resolved to learn about how it worked and if I could make one myself. As it turns out, the “Aerogarden” doesn’t actually use aeroponics, but “deep water culture” hydroponics. Not everyone agrees philosophically that we should be using hydroponics, but the science behind it is fascinating nonetheless.
Hydroponics, simply, is growing plants in a nutrient solution, without soil. There are various methods to do this, and the Aerogarden is an all-in-one consumer kit. Continue reading
The 2015-2016 winter was our first winter in our house, and I fully intended on surviving with only a shovel. I changed my mind, after 8+ inches of heavy wet snow, and almost 2 hours to shovel our driveway. Having already done some research, I seized my chance…I drove to Home Depot and bought a Toro Snowmaster.
I’ve been using my Snowmaster 724 QXE since last year and I was a little apprehensive at first, since it was a new model. After using it a few times, that apprehension is gone.
Photo credit: Toro
Yes, it is technically a single stage with a different auger design. They call it “inline two stage” because the sides of the auger pull snow toward the center, and the center paddle (much smaller and more scoop-like than a standard single-stage) throws the snow out the chute. The bucket and chute design are shallower in their tapering to maximize throwing distance. It may not throw as far as a two stage, since it lacks an impeller, but if you keep it moving and full of snow, it can throw snow 20-30 feet. The lack of impeller lets Toro use more power in the auger, which spins very fast (“10 times faster than a 2-stage”). This also allows the blower to be a lot lighter, needing much smaller tires (this isn’t a disadvantage).
The lack of weight on this blower means it moves around more like a lawnmower, than a typical two stage blower. Toro even put their personal pace system from their mowers on it. This means that the controls are very minimal:
one lever to engage the auger
Toro’s “quick chute” joystick (which is awesome)
personal pace bar to push the blower and engage the drive-train.
All this means that I can clear my driveway and sidewalk in much less time than my neighbors.
I read most of The Sweethome’s reviews. They are usually great, in-depth, and well-researched. They impress me with their testing and I’ve had great luck with their picks. Sometimes, the picks don’t live up to my expectations. Their laundry basket pick is one of them. They picked the Sterilite Stacking basket from the Container Store.
I looked these at a local Container Store. Ultimately they felt junky, were too small, and were unimpressive.
The Container Store also vastly disappointing. The selection was poor and it felt like walking into a OCD nightmare. The store felt unorganized, but it was a store of organization containers….
Note that there are two different versions of the “Sterilite Ultra” basket. Walmart stocks the better one, with the triangle shaped holes and the non-arching handles with a bulge on the bottom. These handles are thicker and more sturdy compared to the ones with oval holes and simple arching handles, which break easily. The basket itself is also made out of heavier plastic.
We have three of these baskets and they’ve held up well to regular laundry tasks, but also to my kids messing around in them (which is what broke our old baskets). They’ve even survived being thrown down the stairs…more than once by Alyssa.
You know I love the birds. I buy black oil sunflower seeds in 50 lb bags and fill my bird feeder all year round. Instead of buying a filler or a special scoop, which do work, I made my own out of an old juice jug. The design is super simple, very effective, and free.
Just a utility knife to cut a decent sized hole in the top narrower side of the container (I used a cider jug, but you could probably use a half gallon milk jug, or some other similar plastic container). This hole allows you to use the container to scoop seeds out of your seed bag. Use the juice container’s pour hole to pour the seed/bird food into your bird feeder. Depending on your feeder, you might even be able to leave it hanging while you fill it, like I do.
The final step is to bask in the feeling of saving yourself $6-$15 and the glory of DIY!