Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sometimes Less is More

Before I purchase anything I always check reviews.  I talk to people.  I scour the internet for information.  I ask what others use.  Then I make my decision.  Depending upon what the item is, how many times you use it makes part of your purchasing decision.  Sometimes you buy the best, sometimes you buy the cheapest.

When I purchased my V-strom a couple of years ago I wanted to do some bike touring I equipped my bike with lockable sidecase, a topbox and other stuff to make my ride more comfortable.   I also thought it would be a good idea to look into camping options to reduce my travel costs.

   Somewhere south of Corvallis, OR                          July, 2012

Notice that I have a tent and camping equipment ROK strapped to my rear seat.   I have never really camped before but I think I like it.    I also thought it would be a good idea to purchase a camping stove.  I spent a lot of time looking at stoves at our local Mountain Equipment Co-op (mec.ca) and decided upon an MSR Whisperlite Internationale, which is a liquid multi fuel stove

It wasn't cheap and I had to buy fuel bottles.   This is one of those later models which can also use Canister Gas.   I can burn;  unleaded pump gas (available everywhere), coleman fuel, kerosene and who knows what else, plus use canisters.     I brought this stove with me to Oregon during our iMBC2012 in Hell's Canyon

Here it is in action in Baker City, OR preparing a hot beverage at our campsite.  I am a horder and I noticed another used MSR whisperlite for sale on Craigslist when I got back, so I thought that I needed a "spare" so guess what followed me home ?

So now I have two MSR Whisperlite liquid fuel stoves.   This "spare" model came with another larger fuel bottle.    I also have a small cookset,  500 ml cup with lid, which can also be used as a small frying pan.  It is titanium coated so easy to clean.   The stove is too big to put inside the cookset.  Also I have to bring along a fuel bottle and also a supply of liquid fuel.   It takes up a lot of room.  I am considering on taking a much longer trip this summer and space is a premium.   I don't think I am going to be making complex meals.  I just wanted something to be able to make a hot beverage in the morning, or during the evening.   Or bringing canned food which I can just heat up in emergencies.   Or using those dried food packets where you just have to add boiling water.   I was looking for a smaller solution

  MSR whisperlite, being primed

Since then I have been doing a lot of reading about different types of stoves and I was thinking of making a penny Alcohol stove.  (link here)   I even got advice from a special person in Atlanta who said that her favourite stove was a small alcohol one.  I knew then that I wanted one for myself.   I was intrigued with the simplicity of something that had NO moving parts and was easy to use.   I spend a lot of time on Adventure Rider   reading various ride reports.

One day I was checking out various other sections of ADVrider and I came across  THIS .   It was exactly the type of stove that I was thinking about.   Better yet,  it was a fund raiser for Evy to help with her kayaking expenses.   Check out her info page, she has also raced in the US Olympic Trials. (LINK) .   I knew then that I was going to buy a few stoves to help with her expenses.   I received my first shipment around Christmas.   I didn't intend for these to be Christmas gifts but I ended up giving them away, even my Red one.   As they were only going to make a limited number of these stoves, I decided to place another order and I ordered a few more to give away and have them shipped directly from Pennsylvania .   I received my replacement RED one last week

These are professionally made and come complete with a carrying case, instructions, wind shield and a bottle to hold fuel.   There is a priming wick and aluminum plate for colder weather use, although I would only be using this stove during the summer.  Alcohol fuel is not cold weather friendly

I am feeling a bit honoured that I would be using a stove made by this world class athelete (read here) and that I could be of help . . .

Here is their demo video showing you how their Van-Gear alcohol stove works

and another video showing you their stove "in action"

I'm not sure how many more stoves are available, but if you want to help Evy and you need an alcohol stove that is very well made feel free to send her an email

I think I am going to enjoy using this stove during the summer

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Network Drive, near Meltdown & Oregon photos

I'm not as smart as you all think I am.  All this hocus pocus about network drives and things working as they should doesn't mean I know what is going on.   I am getting my traveling laptop ready for a trip  I thought that I needed to update some software, so I did last Saturday.

I am not sure if any of you actually shot RAW images and process them using software.  When I am away I usually bring more than two cameras and two of them are able to shoot uncompressed RAW format.  I have an EOS Canon which produces .CR2 files, and my NEX produces .ARW files.   The first generation of Canon RAW was called .CRW (short for Canon RaW).  The 2nd generation of EOS changed to .CRW (Canon Raw2), and the Sony stands for Alpha RaW.   I also still have my old Nikon D80 and it produces .NEF  (Nikon Electronic Format) and I also have Nikon NX.   By shooting images in RAW format give you a much better chance of recovering your image under less than ideal conditions and I usually shoot RAW for those important images that I may wish to make enlargements from

Anyway with windows explorer when you click on a folder you are able to view little thumbnails of your .jpg images.  If you shoot in a format other than .jpg, the thumbnails do not display and it is a pain to have to load each one into propriety software from Canon or Sony to view each image.   Manufactures are aware of this and they usually supply a RAW image viewer which works with Windows Explorer so your images can be displayed.   I also updated the Canon DPP: Digital Photo Professional software to the latest version.

What does all this mean you ask ?   It means that after I did all of this updating I could not access my Network Drive on Sunday morning.  This means that all of my photos since last November were not accessible.  I was in a panic.   I checked the router,  I powered down the network drive.  I checked the router settings.  It was beyond me that the Seagate Goflex drive was shown as "connected" when you check the router status but I could not "see" the drives on the network.   I even re-booted my system and NOTHING.

All I could think was to uninstall the Sony RAW viewer.  I did, and the Network Drive suddenly appeared as folders in Windows Explorer, so I was back in business.  However not everything is back to normal.  My Windows Picture Viewer is flaky and doesn't seem to work correctly.  So if you are running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit and you download the latest Sony RAW viewer, it will not work.   (Martha, are you listening?)

Before I bought my network drive I used to download photos to various pocket external hard drives.  I was looking at some photos from Oregon taken last September some of which you have not seen

Here is the beach where we were staying in Lincoln City.   Our motel is on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  We were sitting by the fire on Friday night and we noticed some cars on the beach below and their headlights.  Many cars drive on the beach down there and thought that they were just having a bit of fun making donuts in the sand.    The next morning we looked down at the beach and we saw

Those two cars where the headlights were the night before.   The white car near the top had been there overnight

It seemed obvious that this car had been stuck in the sand and couldn't get out.   We were to meet that fellow on the left shortly and he was the one who towed that car out

His name is John and I thought he was friends with the guy holding the shovel, but he wasn't.  Here he is checking the tow rope and moving some sand by hand .  Before long they hooked the tow rope up to John's red 4x4 truck

and he towed that white car back to the ramp.   John is from Eastern Washington and here on Vacation for a few days, and staying at the same hotel as we were

Meet John and Jackie, on their Honeymoon in Lincoln City, Oregon.      We did a quick impromptu photo shoot on the beach and I was happy to give them a few memories of this weekend.    He has a photography friend back home so I shot .jpg and Raw format and gave them all the photos

They were willing models as I was shouting out commands to stand here, or stand over there.  We were lucky to have the early morning sun and that the fog had already burned off.   While we were only together for a short few hours, we left as friends.  John also rides a Shadow so you may bump into him somewhere in the Yakima area

Congratulations to John & Jackie and may you have a good life together.   Hope to see you on the road one day soon

Of course we also had to get a few photos of ourselves

    Lincoln City, Oregon         September 22, 2012

We were so lucky to get such good weather and see the coast without fog

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Boring domestic duties

I find that the planning of meals is harder than actually making them.   Not that I have a lot of recipes but I prefer to improvise depending on what is in the fridge.   Food planning is an art that I am trying to learn the hard way.   The problem with grocery shopping is that if you plan too far ahead you tend to buy too much then you have to cook it up so it won't spoil.  This was the case today when I rushed home and scrambled to cook up my lean ground pork before it goes bad

I bought a pound of this last Saturday when I made a steamed egg dish.   I prefer pork over ground beef as I have also been making Won Tuns.  Today I made an oriental dish which I don't know the name in English but I added some Lop Cheung (chinese sausage) and put this in the steamer for about half an hour.

Last week Mrs Skoot bought a tray of boneless chicken breast so we are chickened out.  It was just too much meat for us and I ended up simmering a couple for home-made soup and then using the chicken for home made pizzas.  If you take chicken broth and then boil and simmer a couple of chicken breasts in it, the resultant soup is delicious .

We had so much chicken still left over from this tray that I managed to cube some and throw it into our rice cooker.   I marinated the cubes in soya sauce first and it ended up being steamed/cooked with our rice

My original plan was to make a Kraft Dinner casserole with broccoli, and topped with white cheddar cheese.  I cooked up the macaroni first, added the cheese packets.  On another burner I steamed up a head of broccoli and cut it up into smaller pieces.   I spread the broccoli over the top and then sprinkled with cheese and put back into the oven @ 300°f for about 20 minutes to melt the cheese

Here it is before I put it into the oven

It was nearly perfect timing as when Mrs Skoot arrived home it was all ready to be served.  Obviously we had too much food but that's okay.    We can heat some up for tomorrow's dinner, and we can portion some  to bring to work for lunch

We hardly put a dent into this casserole and I over ate, again . . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Some Computer juggling

I am of the opinion that "if it's not broke, don't fix" .  I wanted to upgrade my workflow and integrate into the modern age with newer equipment.   Last year, I don't mean a month ago, I mean 13 months ago during December 2011, I decided to upgrade my computer.   Editing AVCHD video takes a lot of computing power so I purchased an i7  4 core fast laptop with a dedicated video card with 2G on board memory.  Needless to say I have not been using my new computer and I was still hobbling along using my old Core2 duo .  Last week I edited a video which took over half an hour to render.  My newer computer would have only taken 6 minutes so I finally decided to not use my old laptop anymore.  I spent the past 2 days backing up and deleting the data on it, preparing it for it's new owner.

I am also resistant to change.  There is no more Outlook, or Outlook Express.  Now I am forced to use Windows Live Mail.  This means that when I exported my email addresses I don't know how to import them into the "Live" email program so I exported them to an excel spreadsheet format.  I really hope that I don't accidently lose anyone's email address as I have to manually type it in from my worksheet.  You can't tell but I am now using my new (but old) i7 computer

Before Christmas I also purchased a new network Drive.

I now have my own 3 TB cloud.  I can access this drive from anywhere I can access the 'net.  The interface is a little clunky but I can upload my photos if I am away from home

I can also plug a USB printer into this and use as a wireless print server.    I plugged this into my wireless router and with the GoFlex software this drive shows up when you start Windows Explorer so when I download photos from my camera's memory card I can just send them over to this drive through "the air".  I don't like to clog my laptop drive and in the past I have always plugged in an external pocket drive.  I have a pile of external drives and now I can just use this drive instead.

I was also trying to "clean up" my computer at work.   I think I have too much personal data on my drive and I have been backing up my stuff and removing it.  Then I got the bright idea to just use Google Drive instead.           Google gives you 5 Gigs to start.   I installed the Google Drive software and when you log into Google+ and open Windows explorer, the Google drive just shows up as a folder.  So now when I scan or save .Docs I just select the Google Folder and in it goes.   The added benefit is that when I get home I can also access the Google Folder from home.   It works seamlessly .

Our outside construction Project is coming along.   They removed our trees, leveled the ground and put up wood retaining blocks

We always had a fence to close off our yard and for the past few months we have been wide open with little privacy

Now we have a new fence and gate.   It is also unusual for us to get a lot of fog.   It has been nearly a week driving around in fog and it was foggy again this morning.    Fog and temperatures around freezing means slippery roads

This was my view this morning after having to scrape the ice from my windows.    The fog is gone and tomorrow we are back to rain.   Hopefully we won't have to scrape our windows for a while

Monday, January 21, 2013

Motorcycle Show was this Weekend

but I didn't go.   I was thinking about it but I am trying to be more practical in my older years.

    Rare Vancouver snowfall last week

I was getting my Nu2Me BMW ready for next season and I think all I need is some RAM mounts, spline lube, rear drive flush and new rain gear.   I'm still thinking about a new GPS.   I have already purchased a new riding jacket, new full face modular helmet which is just waiting for my Sena to be installed .  I have already upgraded my sleeping bag and self inflating pad since last year .

   Our snow rarely lasts more than a day or so

Saturday was the best day for me to see the show but I wasn't feeling that great and with no one to keep me company I just didn't feel like driving the 1-1/2 hours each way (3 hours total), pay the $6. parking and just walk around looking at stuff that I didn't need so I came home and took a nap

After my nap I was feeling a bit better so I went shopping to pick up stuff for dinner.   By the time I got home with my grocery supplies it was time to get dinner started

Sometimes I wished that I had someone to share my riding with.   Those of you who have built-in riding partners are lucky.   There is no one I know that lives near me .  I don't have a regular riding buddy and with our tailgating and aggressive drivers I found it just easier to take the car to work.   I did much less commuting to work during 2012 than in previous years but most of it was due to our construction project and difficulty of getting my bike "out".   Then when Mrs Skoot broke her wrist I had to chauffeur her home from work every day as she was not allowed to drive.

We seem to get our worse weather during January-March so we are still in the grip of Winter.  I normally don't ride when it is below 4°c due to frost or fog so we still have a few months to go before our riding season begins but it is a good time to be staring at maps and dream . . . of what 2013 will bring

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A short walk

On my previous post I mentioned that we went on a short walk in Capilano Canyon

It is like a rain forest for all the moss you see.   It was not a warm day and darker than what these photos show as it is late afternoon and we are under the tree cover

There is a fish hatchery here and a building where you are able to see the fish ladders to help the salmon forge their way up river

There are trails on both sides of the Capilano River

and a bridge to take you to the other side

From the middle of the Bridge you can look North

or you can look towards the South

During the heat of summer it is nice to come here to "cool off" and just watch the water go by

There are not many people walking about today.  It is colder than you think and without gloves your hands are freezing

As you walk along the trail you can hear the sounds of the rushing river

Mrs Skoot is unable to walk very far and it would have taken another hour to do the loop so I turned around and headed back to the car, where she was waiting .

The following photos were taken here during the Spring a couple of years ago and shows the view a bit farther up the trail

If you look near the top, in the middle you will see Capilano Dam.  This is where we get our water supply

here is a downward view from the top of Capilano Dam.  It is sort of hypnotic and you get the feeling that you should just jump off .  Here is a zoomed view (from the top of the Dam)

which shows the viewpoint at the end of the Trail.   At certain times of the year when the water level is high, that viewpoint could be covered in mist from all the water flowing down the Dam

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A difference a week makes

Last week I was driving over the Oakland Bay bridge on our way into Downtown San Francisco

and today I was driving over the Lion's Gate Bridge on our way over to North Vancouver

Here is our anemic 3 lane bridge.  There is normally one lane for each direction and the middle changes depending upon how backed up it is.  Today we have two lanes heading North.

This morning it started out at -5°c and it was only a degree or two above freezing all day.  When the sun comes out we are able to see snow on our local mountains

Vancouver is surrounded by mountains on our North and by Water on the West.   Our Downtown area is nearly an island attached to land only on the East which means having to drive over a bridge or two which adds to our congestion.  In the past I have given you many photos of False Creek, today I will show you our Inner Harbour.

Those Orange cranes are located at our container terminal.   It is a working harbour with freighters loading grain and also the location of a couple of Canneries (foreground).   At the top right you can see the Vancouver Skyline and perhaps the Lion's Gate Bridge at the other end

The snow capped mountains show our "Lion's" covered in snow.  The two rock formations resemble two lions sitting down and our Lion's Gate Bridge is named after them.  Those buildings on the north side of the inlet is North Vancouver.  It is a separate city with their own Mayor and councilmen, and also a different police force, currently protected by the RCMP.    Vancouver has our own Vancouver Police Force.   Farther to the West is West Vancouver, which is another separate city with their own Mayor and Council

This is one of the operating canneries on this side of the inlet.   For security reasons, normal people are not allowed access to these areas without proper reason or ID.

That is a bulk loading grain elevator on the other side where freighters come to fill up on wheat

Ironworker's Memorial Bridge (locally known as the Second Narrows Bridge)

Not counting our Seabus (ferry across the harbour)  the only way to access North Vancouver is by two bridges.   We took the Lion's Gate Bridge North, and the Second Narrows Bridge on our way back.

During our travels today I noticed a car similar to what I used to own.   This is an Alfa Romeo, most likely a 1750 DOHC.   I used to own a 2000 GTV Veloce with SPICA FI.   This older model most likely had the dual webers

I'm glad I don't own it anymore but they are nice to look at.  This one looks like it has been restored.

It was a beautiful day to be out and we even managed a bit of exercise walking the trails of Capilano Canyon

Hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy Nature too