String Backpack

A few years ago i bought this tent-like-material when i was making a new seat for my motorcycle. The other day i wanted to make a strong, waterproof, lightweight backpack that can be folded up and put in your pocket and figured that the material i had would be perfect. There's lots of instructions online on how to make the string backpacks. It seemed pretty simple.

I tried to sew it by hand but it wasn't near strong enough. So i went to the Salvation Army and bought a sewing machine for $30. I plugged it in at the store, pushed the pedal and it seemed to work, the needle went up and down... When i got home i tried using it but it didn't work. The thread kept getting jammed. Charlie also looked confused by it.How to fix a broken sewing machine, simplicity, jammed
It took me a while to figure out how it worked. I read about the machine and saw that online they sell new for $150.

I figured out that the mechanism that spins the spool below the needle was slipping. The round thing at the bottom is what holds the thread.
sewing machine, thread jam, needle slipping, bobbin
The needle moved but the thread wasn't catching. So i had to open up the back panels and tighten the two small hex nuts that attach to the spool axle.
It was a lot more complicated inside than i thought.repair sewing machine, disassemble, outer casing
This is where i aligned everything and then tightened the gear to the drive shaft. Both of those black hex bolts were loose.
sewing machine, tighten gear, oil, grease, adjust, hex nut and bolt
Once it started working the thing was great. It has settings A - P. For the bags decided on L, a kind of square shaped pattern.

sewing machine thread pattern A-P, simplicity
I always said that a sewing machine worked just like a scroll saw.
Delta scroll saw, sewing machine, thread, wood

Here's all the parts for the backpack. String backpack material, string, gromets
This is the corner with the grommet and the reinforcing.
string backpack, gromet, corner
Finished backpack.
how to make a string backpack,
how to make a string backpack,

Date Palm

While trying to grow the palm seeds i got out west, i read that you can also grow a palm tree from date seeds.

First off, they don't taste as bad as they look, but they are still really bad. Kind of like a giant raisin, but worse. At the center is the date seed.

Dates, whole dates, california, sun date, with seeds
whole dates, eat in container, california, rasins, with seeds
The date and the seed inside

date and seed, how to grow a date tree
Like the rest of the seeds i've tried to grow, i soaked them for 1 day then put them in a zip-lock bag with a wet paper towel.
how to grow a date tree, from seed, soak seeds in wet paper towel
After 1 week, 2 of them sprouted. The rest of the seeds gradually started sprouting 3-6 weeks later. Surprisingly their root comes out of the middle of the seed.

date seed root, from center of seed
I noticed that they sprouted best when there was just a little water added, when i sort of soaked the paper towel then squeezed all the water out.

Then i planted them in a bowl with potting soil and pearlite.

plant date seed, potting soil and pearlite,
One main root extends deep down into the soil.

date seed, root, tree, how to grow indoors

After a month or so the first green leaf appeared. It kind of looks like a blade of grass but it's really tough, almost like wood.

new date tree, grow at home from a seed
I plan on planting some of the seeds in the garden this year, we'll see how they do.


Free Online Music

Here are 3 ways to listen to music online. The first two are super easy, you'll have songs playing within 5 seconds.
Pandora Radio
This site has you type in a song or band that you like and it plays music that is similar. It's a great way to discover new bands that play the same type of music you already like. The downside is that you cannot pick particular songs and it only lets you skip a few songs at a time. It's sort of like a radio station tailored to you.
pandora, online radio, music, screenshot

This is similar to Pandora except it's better. It lets you pick the exact song you want to listen to, see every song from any band and make playlists to listen to. I first learned about it when i saw that Grooveshark had several lawsuits against it and the Android App store refused to support it. I knew it must be good if that many companies hate it.
grooveshark, free music online, screenshot, any song

Google Music Beta
This is brand new. It came out last Tuesday. It's only in Beta version and you need an invite to even use it. Apparently you will be able to load all your music online then be able to listen to it anytime from any device.
google music, beta, upload music, access anywhere


Lotus Table

While looking online about growing a lotus i saw this table.
It seemed simple and cool so i drew it on AutoCAD and printed off a full size pattern. I'm not sure if i will ever make it.
Lotus Table, coffee table, wood and glass, 5 piece, one pattern
Lotus Table, AutoCAD pattern, dimensions, wood pattern



While reading about palm trees i learned about growing date palms. And while reading about date palms i learned about growing peanuts. It looked like a cool idea so i bought a bag of RAW peanuts from Walmart.

For peanuts the soil temperature has to be hot for 100-120 days, depending on the type of peanut. Valencia and Spanish peanuts would have been the best here in Michigan because they only need 100 days. But i couldn't find those.

The only raw peanuts they had still in the shell were Virginia peanuts.
How to grow a peanut plant from raw peanuts, store bought
So i soaked them for a day and they really swelled up, probably double their original size. I've heard mixed theories about planting them in the shell or without the shell so i did both.

As usual i put them in zip-lock bags.
After 3 days the first ones to sprout were two of the seeds that were in their shell.peanut root, soak seeds in water for 3 days, sprouting
Here's the original peanut, without the shell and after soaking in water for a day

swelling peanut after soaking in water, sprout, root
And 2 days laterpeanut seed root, sprout, grow at home, indoors
After 10 days....It grows really fast.peanut plant grows really fast, raw seeds, 10 days
And since i'm using a clear bowl i should be able to see the peanuts under the ground.
Peanut plant roots, fan out, clear bowl, raw seeds

New New Phone

A couple months ago i got the HTC Freestyle. I thought it would be great, but it wasn't. Fearing that i'd be stuck with it for the next 2 years i called Amazon and asked if i could exchange it for the Motorola Atrix. Surprisingly they said sure, they even send me a UPS ticket so that shipping was free.

The new phone is great. It's one of the fastest phones around today, with a dual core cpu. No i get email, weather, GPS and a lot more. And through Amazon the phone was $70 cheaper then at the AT&T store.
Motorola Atrix, amazon, unbox, parts, dual core, cpu, 1Gb, at and t

Sixty Dollar Mower

The house Karrie's renting has a huge yard, probably like a half acre and it would take hours to mow. So i looked on Craigslist for a while and saw a riding mower for $100. The add said it cranks over but won't start. When i showed up the guy turned the key and nothing happened. He fiddled around with it for a while but still nothing. He said how about $60, so i said sure.

What i know is that it's a Lawn Chief riding mower. I think the 11 - 36 means that it's an 11 horse power engine with a 36" wide cutting deck. I have no idea what year it is. The model number is completely worn off.
lawn chief riding mower, craigslist, 11hp, 11-36
As always, using what i've learning:

I had a checklist
fix riding mower check list
First i washed and cleaned everything
riding lawn mower clean, polish, wash
The air filter was full of oil and falling apartlawn chief engine, air filter, oil, fall apart
Then i had to see if i could get it to turn over. I used a screw driver to jump the connection across the solenoid. It worked, the engine started to crank. So following the wires back from the solenoid i realized the problem was a loose wire at the starter. I cut it, rewired it and soldered it in place and the problem was fixed.wiring for lawn chief riding lawn mower, engine
I checked the compression and it was around 55psi. Good enough
riding mower engine compression check, psi
After working on the last mower i made sure i checked to see that the timing pin wasn't sheared. It looked ok. I was going to remove the fly wheel but after an hour of hitting with a hammer and prying i couldn't get it off so i gave up.riding mower engine timing pin, fly wheel, timing wheel
repair riding lawn mower, lawn chief, 36" deck, 11hp
The guy i bought it from said that it just wouldn't start one day so he tried messing with the carburetor but it still didn't work. When i took the carburetor apart it was super dry and lots of powdered gas. It's there on the concrete next to the bowl.carburetor bowl, powdered fuel, clean, carb cleaner, riding mower
I cleaned the carburetor and even soaked the jets in a coffee can full of carb cleaner for 24 hours. My hope was that the engine was fine and all it needed was a good cleaning and some fresh fuel. So i put everything back together, added gas and after about 2 minutes it started up.

The engine ran ok but the carburetor needs to be tweaked a bit so it doesn't stall. After driving it around the yard a couple times it was a lot better. Now it starts just fine.

I oiled and WD-40'd everything, changed the oil, sharpened the blades, wrapped all exposed wires with electrical tape and it was set to go. All 4 tires were flat and i thought i'd have to get at least 1 new inner tube, but when i filled them up with air there were no leaks.

It has 3 gears, all of them slow. The shifter must have broken at some point so the previous owner used a lug nut.
3 speed riding mower, lawn chief, cutting deck
I didn't like it so i made a new wood one from a branch in the yard. I cut a section of it that fit my hand, then stained it and covered it in 4 coats of polyurethane.

new homemade shifter handle, riding mower
I thought i was all done. But i wasn't.

For some reason the mower would move, but only in first gear and only really slowly. It turned out to be the belt and pulley on the transmission were slipping. There wasn't enough tension because a frame bracket broke off. It was only being held on by one side.
So i fixed the bracket with a piece of angled steel. Now the frame was actually attached to the transmission with enough tension.
make a new mounting bracket for riding mower frame
It ran great in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. Then it broke again...
Very confused I checked everything again and saw that the spark plug wasn't sparking. I had to re-solder an old cracked wire and then bend the tip of the spark plug to decrease the gap.

Finally, all done.
fixed, repaired, riding mower, lawn mower, lawn chief, spark plug

Internet TV

I don't have cable anymore but i hardly miss it. Here's how i watch practically any tv show with just an internet connection.

This is my setup in the living room with a c
omputer connected to my TV and using a wireless keyboard and mouse.HTPC setup, 51inch plasma HDTV, wireless mouse and keyboard
The most popular site that most people have heard of is Hulu. There are plenty of sites that are similar to Hulu, they have a limited number of shows with commercials every 15 minutes. Side Reel is a site that brings all of those other sites together, eg Nbc.com, ComedyCentral.com, Hulu.com, etc.

I also like watching old PBS shows like Nova.
They have tons of great shows there.

Now the start of the "Questionably Legitimate Sites." These look and act like Hulu but they get they have tons of TV shows and movies that aren't on Hulu.
The first thing to remember here is never to download anything. Just hit the play button, you don't need any special exe viewer they try to get you to download. JUST PRESS PLAY.

The best site is Project Free TV. They have almost everything. Fancast is pretty good too.
If you want to watch Live TV as it's being broadcasted there's Fomny. It's not great and doesn't always work well but you can get live streams from various FOX, NBC and the History channel. Yesterday i watched the NFL draft live on NFL.com
Typically i use Project Free TV, today i just watched the new Mythbusters episode. It was new on Wednesday and i'm watching it at 6PM on Thursday. project free tv screenshot, shows, movies, episode It's basically like an online TiVo.

New Computer

I've been using the same computer for basically a decade. During that time it's been great but recently its been showing its age and slowing down. So for $200 i bought a CPU, motherboard, power supply, memory and a video card. I already had 2 hard drives and a case. computer parts, rebuild, HIS radeon HD 4670, Corsair CX430 power supply, AMD cpu, Asus MA78LMT motherboard
First i installed the CPU to the motherboard and attached the heat-sync fan. Then i put the motherboard and power supply in the case.
install computer parts in case, wiring, how to build a computer
Then i added the RAM, video card and hard drives.
So far it's great and really fast.how to build a computer, install parts, assemble


Last month i went to Lakewood Ohio for 3 days for work. I helped survey an AT&T building.
att building in lakewood ohio, cleveland
A cool vent on the buildings furnace.heat vent wire cover, old building air system
The last day we stopped in Cleveland for more information about the property so i roamed around.downtown cleveland ohio, library, tower
Cleveland Browns Stadium
cleveland browns stadium, view from highway
Thomas Jefferson in front of the court house
Thomas Jefferson statue in front of court house, downtown cleveland, ohio
Downtown war memorial
cleveland ohio, downtown war memorial
Stamp it "FREE"
FREE stamp in cleveland, sculpture, ohio, red
A giant corned beef sandwich. It was even better than it looks.
The best corned beef sandwich ever, giant, cleveland ohio
And to greet me when i got home, a flat tire. flat tire, rear, pontiac grand prix