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RVing Here and There

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  • Amount of Sugar in Coke

    Posted on November 25th, 2018 admin No comments

    Earlier today, someone shared this on my Facebook timeline:



    Well,we all know that Coca Cola and other sodas are sugary drinks.  Note that the amount of sugar in the baggie looks pretty much equal to or greater than the volume of the coke can.  Looking at that, I wondered if that much sugar could even be dissolved in a Coke can full of water.

    A quick google showed that, according to an article by CBC,    Coke contains 39 grams of sugar in a 355 mL can.

    My wife has a nice digital kitchen scale (not legal for trade, but accurate enough for this), so let’s check that out and see what 39 g of sugar looks like.   I grabbed the sugar bowl, a teasp0on, and a snack baggie and headed to the kitchen to do some science.    I turned on the scale, set it to grams, put on the baggie, set Tare (removing the mass of the baggie from the measurement) and started spooning sugar into the baggie.   One…  Two… Three…  Four… Five…  Oops, a bit too much.  Take out 1/2  spoonful.   There:  39 grams of sugar.   Just under five teaspoons.


    Up against the Coke can, it looked like this:


    Four and a half teaspoons is a pretty hefty amount of sugar, but my baggie doesn’t look nearly as fat as the one in the meme, does it?  It’s about a third to a half of what is shown there.

    Facebook memes are often deliberately distorted in order to manipulate you.   Another excellent example of why I never believe at first glance anything I see on Facebook.

    Never share before you:

    • Examine.
    • Question.
    • Doubt.
    • Disbelieve.
    • Check.
    • Think.


  • More hate-mongering against refugees

    Posted on November 21st, 2018 admin No comments


    On the contrary, I applaud their action.   Amazing that this is still circulating on Facebook three years later — the comments were hateful, and 91,000 shares among xenophobes and haters — amazing.

    Back in 2015, the servers in an Edmonton diner donated their tips to help a Syrian refugee family, and the diner owners agreed to match the tips. Kim Franklin, one of five owners of the diner, was part of a group working with St. Joseph’s College and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton to bring a refugee family to Edmonton.

    “Being really concerned about people having to flee their homes, being stuck on sides of mountains trying to get away. These are people that are leaving because of conflict… It’s a terrible thing to have to flee your country, to leave everything that you know behind. It would be an awful thing so I’m hoping that we can give some safety and peace to these people.”    I wasn’t able to find a followup, but presumably the group, called House of Hope, raised enough funds to help their refugee family.   https://globalnews.ca/…/edmonton-diner-servers-donate…/

    As for the homeless, our governments collectively spend about $53,000 on each homeless person per year through various ineffective programs (though some figures go as high as $150,000 per homeless person). If you want to be indignant and irate about something, how about you look at THAT!   https://www.cbc.ca/…/opinion-jino-distasio-homelessness…

  • Bicycle Maintenance: What’s That Wobble?

    Posted on May 18th, 2018 admin No comments

    Got a kind of weakness or wobble in the front end of my touring bike.  Going to put it on the stand and have a look.  Might just be a poor weight distribution, as I don’t recall having this issue on earlier trips.   Probably I have a bit too much weight in the front panniers.

    * * * * * * * * *

    Spent some time truing the front wheel, and checked everything for tightness.   It was definitely better for this afternoon’s ride — 41 km, avg speed 17 kph.   A leisurely loop to Beaumont, a nearby town, with lunch in a park there.  But of course, today the wind’s from the south so I was riding into it part of the way coming home.

  • Weighing in for a Bike Tour

    Posted on May 17th, 2018 admin No comments

    I just weighed myself, my bike, and my panniers as part of my planned trip to Saskatoon. It’s an OMG total, for sure! Am I packing too much?   How much is the right amount of gear weight for a two-week summer tour?

    My friend Susan is planning to cycle solo to Newfoundland.  We’re both part of a cycling group and have been on many trips together.   I offered to travel with her for the first week, to keep her company and see her off.   She’s planning to loop south on Hy 13 in Alberta to Hy 31 and 15 east in Saskatchewan.   Okay, I said, I’ll come with you to Rosetown and loop up to Saskatoon and back.

    We did a 76 km overnight training run last week, fully loaded, into moderate headwinds.  Tough, tiring ride, but we both did okay.   I had 42 lbs (about 19.1 kg) and Susan carried 66 lbs (30 kg) of gear.  We both agreed that we needed to pare down our loads.


    When we first started training, it was March, about the coldest March in memory, and the forecast for May was more of the same.  High temperatures in the low teens, lows in the single digits and down to freezing.   I had lots of cold-weather gear and my panniers were stuffed full.  Long undies, warm base layer,  fleece pants, wool socks.

    But what do weathermen know?  Nothing.  Their computer models just provide a best guess (and meteorologists have the hubris to think they can predict climate!)  By the time May rolled around, we were seeing unseasonal highs in the upper 20s and lows around 10C to 15C.

    So, out went the long-johns, the fleece, and all the other stuff to keep me warm.  And out went a bunch of other stuff that I hadn’t used on any of my training rides, such as a nice plastic mess kit, an extra nylon tarp, some clothespins (I might regret leaving those).  Took out one bike jersey.  I cut down on spare undies and sox to two pairs of each in the pannier.  And I might yet cut down to a single spare of each.


    On the training runs, I had no insect repellent: too cold for bugs.  But now the mosquitoes have hatched.  Add bug spray.  OMG, 30C on Sunday?  Add sun-block.  A week of hot weather?  Hydration is vital.  Add another litre bottle of water.  With the two bottles in the cages, that makes 2250 mL of water…almost 5 lbs!!

    One problem with handlebar bag is that it’s so handy, anything you need quickly can go there for easy access.  One problem with a large Arkel handlebar bag is that you can put so much in it.  Bought a beautiful ultralight nylon wind jacket, only 4 ounces, gotta put that in.  Mini-binoculars, missed them on the training rides, toss them in.  Oh, need a ball cap….

    Stocked up on Clif bars, granola bars, fruit leathers.   Gotta have snacks to keep the energy up.  That’s one pound of stuff that will get lighter quickly!

    My panniers aren’t stuffed full.   There’s room in three of them (and the Arkel) for food, souvenirs, extra clothes, whatever.  Available room tends to get filled.  They won’t get lighter as I travel.


    After taking out and putting in, here’s what I have (all numbers are in pounds):

    • Rear rack bag (tent, sleeping pad): 5.2
    • Front A (sleeping bag, stuff sack, liner): 6.0
    • Front B (rain gear, repair stuff, electronics accessories): 6.0
    • Rear A (camping & cooking): 9.4
    • Rear B (clothing): 9.2
    • Handlebar Bag: 6.4

    Add that all up and you get… 42.2 lbs.  Exactly what I had before.  Who would have thought that the added mass of a little tube of sunblock, a bottle of bug spray, and compact binoculars would equal the stuff I took out?

    Now, that’s not really bad.   Most bike touring sites recommend a load of under 20 kg (44 lb).  Note that my bags are pretty well balanced left to right.  Ratio of rear to front is (5.2 + 9.4+9.2) to (6+6+6.4) or 23.8 to 18.4 or pretty much 4:3.   The recommended balance rear to front is 60:40.   I’m a little heavy on the front.  I might re-arrange while en route, or after tomorrow’s training ride.


    Add it all up:  44 lbs of gear.  Plus 5 lb of water.  Plus 30 lbs of bike.  Plus 165 lbs of me, fully clothed.

    That’s  242 lbs of stuff to move down the road with every pedalstroke.

    It sounds enormous.  I’m sorry I worked it out.



  • Scientists Wonder: Why Do We Dance?

    Posted on May 14th, 2018 admin No comments

     Why Do We Dance

    My wife and I are square dancers (and also do rounds and contras, ballroom, and social dancing).  Why do we love to dance?  Let’s look at some scientific answers to the question, “Why do we dance?”


    Kimerer LaMothe, Ph.D., writing in Psychology Today, labels dance as “a quintessential human experience.” She considers dance to be those movements which define who we are, as individuals and as a species. “Dance is not an accidental or supplemental activity in which humans choose to engage or not. Dance is essential to our survival as human beings.” In other words, circularly, we dance because we are human (she ignores the mating dances of many other species) and we are human because we dance.vector-kokopelli

    LaMothe feels that “Any dance tradition or technique represents movement patterns that those persons have found useful for connecting them to something they perceive as having value—whether tribe or tradition, pleasure or skill, community or divinity, heaven or Earth. Dance as movement is inherently relational.”


    An article in LiveScience takes an evolutionary approach. Here, dance seems to be defined as movement coordinated with rhythmic sounds. “The answer to why we dance – and even why some people are better dancers than others – can be found in evolution,” writes Assistant Managing Editor Denise Chow. “A study published in the Public Library of Science’s genetics journal in 2006 suggested that long ago the ability to dance was actually connected to the ability to survive.

    PSM_V41_D770_Dance_of_nahikaiAccording to the study, dancing was a way for our prehistoric ancestors to bond and communicate, particularly during tough times. As a result, scientists believe that early humans who were coordinated and rhythmic could have had an evolutionary advantage.” (For a detailed if out-of-date and now politically incorrect account, read “The Evolution of Dancing” in Popular Science Monthly, Oct. 1892)


    “A more recent study suggests babies are born to dance, with the ability to bop to the beat as young as 5 months old. The scientists aren’t sure why humans might have this innate ability.” There is an amazing number of cute Youtube videos of toddlers bopping to the beat. This is probably the best time to get the kids out on the square dance floor!


    Writing in Scientific American, neurologist John Krakauer suggests that we dance because “coordinated movement” acts to “stimulate our brains’ reward centers.” There seems to be a three-fold pattern involved in the neurological rewards of dance.

    First, movement itself provides pleasurable stimulation. “Scientists aren’t sure why we like movement so much, but there’s certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest we get a pretty big kick out of it,” says Krakauer. Most of us are familiar with the pleasant tiredness that follows exercise—and dancing.

    Secondly, “Music is known to stimulate pleasure and reward areas like the orbitofrontal cortex, located directly behind one’s eyes, as well as a midbrain region called the ventral striatum. In particular, the amount of activation in these areas matches up with how much we enjoy the tunes. In addition, music activates the cerebellum, at the base of the brain, which is involved in the coordination and timing of movement.”

    So combining movement with music is doubly pleasant. “Maybe synchronizing music, which many studies have shown is pleasing to both the ear and brain, and movement—in essence, dance—may constitute a pleasure double play.”Young people on the party .

    A third factor is social. “…Mounting evidence suggests that we are sensitive and attuned to the movements of others’ bodies, because similar brain regions are activated when certain movements are both made and observed. For example, the motor regions of professional dancers’ brains show more activation when they watch other dancers compared with people who don’t dance.”

    The result is a kind of neurological trifecta: music plus movement plus other people moving to music gives the brain a triple whammy of joy-juice.

    Whether the explanation is psychological, evolutionary, or neurological, the scientific answers to “Why do we dance?” all boil down to the reason my wife and I like to square dance: It’s friendship set to music, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.


  • Happijac Wireless Wiring Kit

    Posted on April 19th, 2018 admin No comments
    Screenshot-2018-4-20 Amazon ca happijac

    Wireless Wiring Kit — I mean — WHAT??

  • Recertify That Propane Tank, or Buy New?

    Posted on March 27th, 2018 admin 2 comments

    I’ve got a couple of old propane tanks, so the question came up:  should I have them recertified, or should I just buy new ones?  One is a 30 lb RV tank and the other is a 20 lb BBQ type tank (though it came from a truck camper).

    A couple of years ago I was able to exchange a recently out-dated 30 lb tank for a recertified tank, full of propane, for $10, but that was a special deal, propane guy said customer hadn’t come back to pick it up and he wanted it out of the way.  Maybe a little shady, but I was happy enough.  Can’t expect a deal like that every time, though.


    A lot of outdoor/RF forums seem to thank that recertification is not worthwhile.    For example, this post by Clgy_Dave2.0, dated 06-17-12 on Alberta Outdoor Forum:

    It costs just as much to get them recertified as a new tank.
    Just buy new ones. Costco is the cheapest place by far. I bought two new 30lb’ers for $80. RV place wanted $89 EACH!!!!

    Wow, gotta love those 2012 prices!

    The consensus of such arguments seems to be

    • It’s inconvenient to recertify as you have to go to a place that will do it
    • The cost of recertification almost balances the cost of a new tank
    • If you recertify, you STILL have an old tank; why not go with new for peace of mind
    • New tanks can be had at almost any service station
    • Many places, such as Costco, sell new tanks quite cheaply


    Exactly how rigorous is the requalification procedure?  Posted by RIF, Oct 6 2015, on RV Network:

    I’ve had two cylinders re-certified, both times at propane dealers. Simple process. They just looked them over and tested for leaks, then slapped a new sticker on them. I think one place was $5 and the other $7.50 or so. Not a big deal and certainly cheaper than buying new cylinders.

    Many posters report having got a “new” or exchange tank at a service station, only to discover that their “new” tank has only a year or two left on its service date, or has even already expired!   It seems that some companies do not recertify the tanks; they simply clean them up, repaint them, and put them back into service.   If you exchange or buy a “new” tank from one of these bays, you are advised to check the date of manufacture before you accept the tank.


    A lot of people rely on assumptions or outdated information in making decisions of this type.  Is it, in fact, in 2018, cheaper to buy new than to recertify?   Here are the prices, as of the date of this post:

    Costs to recertify at TempHeat, Edmonton:20 lb tank

    • 20# recertification – $25.50
    • 30# recertification – $41.50
    • Cost to refill – $0.80/lb (to 80% capacity, $12.80 and $19.20 respectively)
    • So a 20# tank, recertified and filled, would cost about $38

    Cost of brand new tank, Costco online:

    • 20#  – $59.99
    • 30# – $79.99
    • Cost to refill – varies; at one time they had a flat rate offer of $9.99 for a 20# tank
    • So a 20# tank, filled, would be about $70

    Cost of “new” refilled, exchange tank at Alberta Co-op, Leduc

    • 20# – $65

    Cost of new empty tank at Co-op

    • 20# – $49.99
    • A 20# tank contains about 18 L and a 30# tank about 26 L
    • Cost to refill – $0.899/L  (to 80%,  $12.95; 30# $18.70)
    • So a 20# tank, filled, is about $63, not much different from the exchange cost.

    Why do I mention 80% capacity?   There is some headroom left in the tank to allow for expansion.  A good explanation is given here.


    Clearly, it is far cheaper to have a 20 lb tank recertified and filled at the place that does the recertification.  In fact, it is about half the cost of buying a new tank at Costco and having it refilled there, even if you can still get the $9.99 flat rate deal (which has apparently expired)

  • A-Printing We Will Go (3D Printing, That Is)

    Posted on October 18th, 2017 admin No comments

    Having spent most of the past week getting my Kodama Trinus 3D Printer up and running again, and having spent a little more time getting it properly adjusted and tuned up,   it was time to print.   Last spring, while playing with the 101Hero,  I had begun scouring the Thingiverse for interesting projects.  Most of what I found interesting was way beyond the ability of the 101Hero.  Also beyond my ability...then.

    But now, with the Trinus armed and ready, I decided it was time to tackle a few of them.

    Ready, Aim, Fire:  Micro Catapult

    To warm up, I made this micro catapult.  It works, and fires a little paper ball two or three metres.


    Getting the Cover On

    For one reason or another, I haven't put the enclosure on the Trinus.  Sure, it looks cool, and it's supposed to make the printer quieter, and it protects innocent eyes from the laser engraver when it's installed.  But it's also a bloody nuisance and I never quite got around to printing a filament spool holder for it that I liked.   But the enclosure has been on the floor in my office for months, in the way, holding up junk and dust.  Enough.

    So I got some cheap fidget spinners, extracted the bearings, and got to work.  BTW, did you know that only the center bearing is really good?  The others are a bit stiff.   Anyway, I printed these things that sit on top of the enclosure and hold the filament spool.20171013_184721[1]They seem a bit tippy, but in a few days I'll get them onto the enclosure and we'll see how they work.   Using them involves cutting a hole in the top panel of the enclosure and inserting this filament guide (this isn't mine; mine is in the garage being painted)da92284951d2f7f0e4927156010dc199_preview_featured

    Venus Fly Trap Box

    Okay, these were a trial run for the next project, a really cool thing called the Venus Box from Tom West, aka Prot0typ1cal.  To save you checking the link, here's what his looks like:

    It took over an hour to print each part, at relatively low resolution.  I did it with two modifications, putting teeth on it and using a fluted cover.  Here's my version:

    My Build


    As you turn the bezel, the "mouths" open and close.  It's a bit stiff yet, would have been better printed at a finer resolution, but with a little sanding and post-processing it will be great.  Here's what I'm aiming for, as done by jedynak:

















    Off to a good start, I think.

  • 3D Printing Again

    Posted on October 17th, 2017 admin No comments

    Dusted off my Kodama Trinus 3D printer, which had been sitting idle over the summer while I tried cycle touring.



    Fixing the Trinus Leveling Bed

    It sure took a while to get everything going again.  I had just got the new leveling bed last spring, but hadn't even used it.  While setting it up, trying to get it level, I found that the motion of the printer shook the adjusting screws loose, to the point where one even fell off.  Not much good, that.  A little blue LocTite fixed them, but it was a surprise that Kodama would ship such an unreliable product.   They've promised to send a replacement set at no charge.  In the meantime, I wonder if I can damp that vibration somehow.

     A leveling screw on the Trinus bed

    A leveling screw on the Trinus bed

    It also took a while for me to get the bed leveled and set for a good first layer.  Stringy, blotchy prints, missing parts.... Part of this was remembering how to use the software, Cura 15.04.6, and set it for best results.

    Bad first layer

    Bad first layer

    Fixing the Heated Bed

    After I got most of that straight, I noticed that the heated bed wasn't heating.   Eventually tracked that down to a broken wire in the cable, which I fixed.  Discussion with a Kodama support rep led to changing the routing of the cable so the coil was not horizontal (as shown in the original assembly instructions) but vertical, in hope of avoiding future issues.

    Lights, Action, LCD

    While I was at it, I added some new LED lighting on the bottom of the X arm, and tied it in with the lighting under the extruder, adding connectors for easy future removal/upgrade. This lights the print bed nicely and I wish I had done it last winter.  Previously, I had drawn 12V from the main PCB and cut it down with a 5V regulator for the lights.  I decided the printer and heated bed needed all the power they could get, and gave both sets of lights their own 5V power supply via another wall wart.  Oh, wonderful, more cords....

    I had got tired of having the leveling  bed screws knock the LCD holder off its mount on the end of the Y slider, so I cut some notches in it to mount it on the printer bed.  That way, the leveling bed screws pass right over it.  Simple and effective, both easier and faster than printing an extension or redesigning and reprinting the original LCD mount (someone already did the redesign!).

    LCD Case Mod Composite

    Are We Ready to 3D Print Yet?

    All this had taken several days.   Let's see,

    • Fix the bed leveling screws with blue LocTite
    • Level the bed and adjust the Z-axis offset
    • Repair the heated bed cable
    • Reroute the HBC
    • Relearn how to use the software
    • Adjust all the software settings (why should they change?)
    • Remount the LCD holder
    • Add new lighting, change the wiring for the lighting, add connectors and 5V power supply

    Can I print now?  Yes.  Oh, but wait, I never did properly set the printer so I could use the entire bed.  I have adjusted the Z axis but now I need to fix the X- and Y-axes.   Darn, not enough room to get in to do the Y axis.   Trinus says to remove the slide for access, but I don't want to do that, it would be remove and adjust, reinstall and check, repeat.  Ugh.  So I printed a couple of these:

    Axis adjustment nut adaptors

    Axis adjustment helpers by drofnas

    They slip over the adjustment screw and onto the tiny 5.5 mm lock nuts, to provide more leverage to loosen them.  The first set was a bit too big, but the second scaled to 95% fit quite well.   With these, I was able to adjust the two horizontal axes so the bed is properly centred.

    Now, what to print next?...

  • Kodama Trinus 3D Printer LCD Holder Mod

    Posted on October 14th, 2017 admin No comments

    After I installed the bed leveling platform for my Kodama Trinus 3D printer, I discovered that when the Y-axis ran to 125 mm, it knocked the LCD screen off of its anchor on axis bed.  The adjustment screws stick down and hit the LCD mount.   Every time.

    3D Printed solutions to the Problem

    Probably the best long-range solution would be to redesign the holder with longer arms so it would stick out further.  The next step would be to print it at a cost of several meters of filament (no big deal) and another several hours of design and print time (big deal!).

    Another published solution is to print an extension such as this one by John Sanford aka drofnas.   No design time, but more filament and print time.

    Think Simple - No 3D Printing Required

    In the end, I chose a far quicker and simpler solution.    I noticed that the "arms" of the mount sat squarely on the metal bed of the Trinus with the bottom of the mount sitting on the desk; it was low enough that the knurled adjustment knobs of the levelling bed passed over top.

    I simply used a hobby saw and a flat file to cut notches into the arms:20171014_151158

    I might have taken them a bit further back, but it didn't seem necessary.  Those few millimeters were enough to snap onto the Trinus base and hold the LCD firmly.


    A simple and IMO rather elegant solution that took only minutes to do.



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