Friday, January 3, 2014

Biolite by the Sea...any self-respecting high tech redneck must avail themselves of phone and internet communications while lounging on a deserted island

 First, find the deserted island of your choice, then gather up the required will need more than you think. Fill up the Biolite and turn on the fan and start the fire. Won't take long to get it going, somewhat longer to get it up to 'charging strength'.

Once you get it going, put on your handy dandy grill tray which fits right over the firebox. Oh yeah, it also helps if you have caught a few fish on the way out to your deserted island but any wild life with protein as a major component of it's carcass will do.
Be prepared to drop a lot of twigs and wood into the fire box.

So here we are...happily grilling a fish fillet, green lights on the Biolite dashboard, must be time to finish the deal.

And here we gooooo. Charging the phone(notice the red light at top right corner) while we finish cooking our fish fillet.
Honestly tho, we'd have to spend some more time feeding the firebox if we wanted to fully charge the phone but why quibble, just enough of a charge to send the pics you took of it to Facebook or where ever you wanted them to go would be enough.
It is really your intent to turn your friends green with envy at your mastery of High Tech Redneckism that you are interested in anyway!
Beat that! I double dog dares ya!

la la la

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Smoked mullet: The PERFECT smoking wood for your home caught mullet.

When I first moved to Pine Island some three years ago now, it quickly became evident that if I was ever to gain any old boy cred in the neighborhood, I was going to have to develop a 'killer' smoked mullet recipe. So the first thing I did was copy the recipe of a long time resident up the street...had to know how it was done before I could improve on it. 

Next thing that varied from old boy to old boy recipe was the smoking wood. It was then I began to hear rumors...of old boy's now dead who used to use 'Buttonwood' as their favored smoking wood. Same with the native Americans, now long gone, who lived here on Pine Island...Buttonwood was the favored smoking wood.

So okay, nobody likes a good biology mystery more than this old science teacher so I set out to find some of this phantom smoking wood.

Just a little internet research, turned up a few clues. There are four types of mangroves in SW Florida: Red, Black, White and Buttonwood. One little science fact was the big hint that eventually led to it's discovery.

Alternate leaf arrangement----------->

See how the leaves are attached to the stem? One leaf, then a space then the next leaf. 

Compare buttonwood leaf arrangement to this. This is a Red Mangrove but just like all the other mangroves except Buttonwood it has an opposite leaf arrangement. 

Opposite leaf arrangement ---------->

So now that you know the one and only mangrove(Buttonwood) that has their leaves in an alternate arrangement you can go on to find some of them growing near the salt water. But there is one more thing to help you...they have deeply fissured bark by comparison to all the other mangroves. 

So here we have what we're looking for: Alternate leaves, deeply fissured bark but there is one last thing...this plant is not nearly dead enough to be of use. 

But this one is! Long long dead the bark is falling off. Perfect! The bark gives the smoke a bitter flavor so you don't want it on there.

Seems a lot of trouble to go to just to get a couple of fat dead sticks doesn't it? Well if you want the perfect smoking wood to compliment the perfect mullet you're just going to have to do a bit of investigating and looking around.

This is really what 'soft survivalism' is all about.
Doing what you can to make use of the wild and natural things around you in a sustainable way. It's always a bonus when they taste superior to anything you can buy in a store or at the roadside.

It took me several recipe trials to get this as perfect as it could be but it all starts here with the proper natural flavor of the Buttonwood.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Solar Broiled to Solar Exhausted

Until last Friday the 27th of September, this crawl space acted as a solar broiler for the rest of the house. The sun shown on the metal roof, the metal roof heated up the air to broiling temperature and the air-conditioner cooled the solar heated hot air in the house at no small expense. There was some rigid insulation to slow down the heat but eventually it got to the ceiling underneath and cooked the house just like the broiler element in an oven.

What to do?

Well, get rid of the hot air before it can heat the ceiling of course. There was a passive vent on the northward end of the crawl space but what we really needed was some active exhausting or moving of all that superheated air out of the crawl space.


A fan! Modeled here by Claudia and about to be installed in the southward facing end of the crawl space. Not that this is just any old fan mind you, it is a 20watt fan powered by a photovoltaic panel fixed to the roof directly above it.

Both Claudia and myself just see solar powered 'anything' as a no brainer for Florida weather. In this case, the cost of installing the fan will obviously pay for itself over time because of the reduced power bills for the air conditioner.
'Soft Survivalism' don't have to leave the grid behind entirely in order to get some benefits from solar power.

So here we goooo.
 First we remove the siding. Taking care not to break it...we're going to have to put it back at the finish with a hole big enough for the fan. 

Then cut a hole in the side with a tin snips...just big enough fro the fan after a few modifications. 

Connect the fan to the photovoltaic panel, which you can see on its side directly above the installers head lying on the roof. And yes, from this point forward the poor guy was getting a face full of hot air, directly in the face. He did mention it after getting off the ladder.

Put back the siding with a hole for the fan and vent cover.

Wipe off any smudges and we're done!

Actually, Claudia and I were really glad we took the photos as the work was being done. Otherwise, you wouldn't even know there was a fan in there. It's so quiet, you can't hear it running and it works as long as there is sunlight to power the fan.

One last thought we had is that it is really nice when the company you purchased it from sends their most experienced carpenter...'There's nothing he can't do" was what they told us and he sure seemed to know the job well enough. Not a screw or bolt out of place...just done right the first time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

I was pleasantly surprised that several people were willing to travel to Ohio to transport me to and from colonoscopy.
Good to have online friends.
Yesterday was my birthday. Tomorrow I get back on the wagon: cooking and cleaning and exercising.

Friday, August 30, 2013

I am 62 years old.
Had a colonoscopy May 6 2013, a large polyp was removed.
Had a follow up colonoscopy Aug 26.
It seems I shall live much longer.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Harvested zucchini and cabbage and tomatoes from the back yard today,
Gary had a solar estimate this morning. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Possible TMI.
I had a colonoscopy in May 2013 and a large polyp was removed. Going back for another colonoscopy in late August. This stuff is expensive. Also requires a friend with driver's license to take me to and fro.
Getting old is no fun at all.