Learning about people

I’ve learned quite a bit about people over the last few years and more so over the last year.
I’m noticing that people only devote as much time to you as they feel will gain them some form of income… be it your time helping them, or some other positive in their direction. Once it goes outside of that arena, I notice people will back away and disconnect from you no matter the amount of time. That’s slightly disconcerting when you’ve devoted a space of time to a person and those rules are applied.

21 years ago I began talking to a woman. We were close, but at the time things weren’t going to work out and we knew it. Somehow, we started talking again about 4-5 years ago. It was great but bad things happened and money became scarce. Of course I helped but there’s only so much a guy can help when he is 4-5 states away. Time drifted us apart for 2-3 years except texting randomly. Voice didn’t happen, and when it’s only text at that point it’s not real to me.. and I’ve said that.

So now I sit, caring about someone who is migrating by foot to California. I’m not Into asking why or whatever. When you have to beg to physically speak with someone, it tells me there’s a huge disconnect, and I’m not going to try.
I guess this is a documentary.


My Second Kombucha Wood Barrel

As seen in my previous blog (https://wp.me/pmBQH-yV) about purchasing a Kombucha wooden barrel from barrelsonline.com, I purchased another wooden barrel of the same kind in order to allow a staggered fermentation cycle and not do without Kombucha for a period of time while fermenting.


In the above picture, the barrel on the left is the first barrel I purchased and the barrel on the right is the second barrel purchased.  For the new barrel, you will notice a stainless steel spigot instead of a wooden spigot as the first barrel has.  This is because I chose to try one out 3rd party since the wooden spigot is a bit tight to turn on/off which makes filling a bottle a touch hairy.  I also chose to not use lacquer on the outside to allow kombucha breathing through the wood.

The new barrel has been treated much like the first, except I simply took it outside and filled it with a water hose.  1 hour soaking, emptied, 1 hour soaking, emptied, 48 hour soaking, emptied and brought inside to fill with sweetened black tea.  It’s been in operation now for 1 day starting yesterday evening, and there have been no issues at all.  I’m impressed since this will be my second barrel, and I’ve seen posts from people stating that their barrel was horrid, leaked continuously, & was filled with glue.  Now, I will say the barrels do have wax to seal between the planks along with the ring of wood on the top.  This is apparent when you use hot water while washing/soaking and you can see the wax melting and changing clear while doing so until it cools.  It is also what seals any miniscule leaks that may form, as can be seen in the picture of the old barrel on the left.  The darker streak of color running down the plank seam formed from kombucha coming through as a moisture and the wax sealing that area.  The same occurred around the spigot insert.  That was all, nothing more.  That impressed me – a self-healing barrel.  Note that the inside does not have this since it was washed & rinsed.

Anyway, another barrel without any issues.  I’m happy with barrelsonline.com and their Kombucha barrels.  At least the 5-gallon ones 😛

American Oak Wood Barrels for Kombucha

I’ve been making Kombucha off and on for the last 4 years.  Recently, I’ve decided I’d get into it a little more seriously, since I can feel my body needing all the help it can get.  After doing a few brews for 3-6 week stints to experiment with flavor and sourness, I’ve found that I have more energy in general when I drink it… the non-caffeine energy.  So, I decided to go with a bigger container, but wanted something unique.  After doing research, I decided to go the route of a continuous brew oak wood barrel.

There are lots of places to buy wooden barrels, however only a handful that make them sitting vertically like this and have a hole at the top, along with a spigot hole made for being a spigot hole and not simply a bung hole in the middle like horizontal barrels.

The place I purchased mine was from http://www.barrelsonline.com. ($128+shipping which was $29.99)  The reviews weren’t good, but I figured I’d give it a shot since the alternatives from other companies didn’t seem much different and were quite a bit more pricey.  This particular one is 5-Gallons, with galvanized steel hoops that wrap around the barrel, and the wood is charred American Oak.  They say the order takes 14 business days, and I’d say from start to finish it was about that time.  It was shipped from Mexico, and while I’m not happy about that it didn’t seem that it effected the quality.  I chose a full-wood spigot, and the barrel to not be varnished so it could breathe.  The lid I didn’t care about so I chose cork… even though it’s never on and I cover it with a cloth cover I bought from Kombuchakamp.com with elastic to hold it on.

Below you can see the wood residue floating in the water before it was emptied the first time.


Prepping it wasn’t hard, for me at least.  I’m kinda redneck’ish, so bear with me.  I put the barrel in my shower, and filled it with super-hot water from my hand sprayer.  Once I filled it entirely, I let it sit for an hour or so to let the wood expand/swell.  Honestly, it didn’t leak much at all and I was surprised.  I picked it up (held the top and bottom), and flipped it to dump the water out into the shower, then sat it back down again.  I repeated the process 3-4 times, with the final time being cold water.  The last time I made sure the sides weren’t leaking at all, and they weren’t.  I wiped it down, then took it out the the kitchen.

kombucha barrel

I had 2 1-gallon glass containers with Kombucha already brewing, so I dumped those in as a starter batch.  I then brewed up a 2-gallon pot of black tea, threw 2 cups of sugar in and stirred it up, leaving it cool to room temp.  After, I tossed that into the barrel which made the level reach almost completely to the top!  I threw the cloth cover on that is in the picture, and left it go.

After a week, I came back to look at how things were going.  I was surprised to find a nice sized Kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) floating on the top already!  I left it go another week, and that SCOBY grew quite a bit, and lodged itself into the walls.  After pouring a cup from the spigot, the SCOBY looked like something from the movie Aliens, and gripping the walls ahah.  I knocked it off the walls and pushed it down into the kombucha to get wet, then covered it back up.

I am very happy with it so far.  The small line of moisture you see in the picture above appeared a couple days after I started brewing, and it was kombucha coming through.  It was simply moisture, and within a couple of days the wax filled the holes up and made everything perfect.  This barrel does a great job of keeping the sun and light away from the bacteria/yeast and lets everything do it’s job without any interruption.
The spigot does take a bit of muscle to twist due to being wood on wood, but it works nicely.

I have another barrel coming so I can have an uninterrupted barrel and another for brewing that can be emptied halfway into the other barrel for drinking.  This will allow the sugar to be added with the new tea, and not interrupt the content of the kombucha being drank.

Let’s hope the second one is as good as the first.  Also, the words “kombucha” I had laser printed into the front by the company before sending it as a part of the purchase for free.  You can choose whichever words you want, and as you can see I’m very inventive.

Propane as an alternative fuel – 1994 Toyota Pickup 2wd

I was looking for an older truck to move heavy things around like a motor block, transmission, or anything bigger than my car trunk.  I’m not a picky person, and was aiming for an 80’s Ford F150 or Ranger.  I ran across a truck that caught my attention since I like to experiment.  A 1994 Toyota 2wd pickup that was converted to propane and turbocharged!


This particular one is rather unique in that it’s been a test-bed demo truck most of it’s life.  For the last 5-8 years she’s been living the used-truck life in the hands of 2-3 people, however.  The conversion to propane is the awesome part – All of the vacuum tubes & emissions stuff in the engine bay is gone, with the EFI system capped & fuel injectors unplugged.  A 27-gallon ASME horizontal propane tank is bolted into the bed of the truck.


A propane hose is mounted through the floor of the truck bed, running through the frame into the engine bay running through the firewall where it connects to a propane filter, propane regulator, propane vaporizer, & propane mixer/carburetor.  The mixer/carburetor feeds directly into a Garrett T3 turbocharger (mounted on the engine exhaust manifold), with the EFI system intake tube feeding directly from the turbocharger.  Below is a picture of my engine bay.


The ignition coil & module on my setup (as seen in this photo below the mixer & vaporizer) is custom, with a higher amperage pass-through to detonate the propane with a solid spark.  I’m running NEW stock NGK plugs, distributor cap/rotor, & NGK ignition wires.

Since there is a turbocharger on the system, an HKS turbo timer is installed, and vacuum sensor to be able to detect boost/air fuel ratio (AFR)/PSI/etc.  It helps alot when tuning the mixer after installation!  Another thing to note is on my setup the turbocharger has a direct oil feed from the oil sensor on the engine block to the turbocharger bearing and back around through a filter dedicated to the turbocharger, and back around into the block.


For those who don’t feel like worrying about installing vacuum sensors, etc, you can tune the mixer just as I did:  the air/fuel screw 4 1/4 turns out and the WOT knob just a hair under fully rich.

The plus side of propane in Arizona is the ability to get an Alternative Fuel plate which allows driving in the HOV lane!  Propane also has a much higher octane, which allows a much higher compression ratio (14:1 or higher).  It requires a hotter spark to ignite, but burns clean with far less CO2 exhaust.  Propane enters the engine as a vapor (non-liquid) gas, with none passing the piston rings into the oil.  Propane also is VERY stable, and will not go bad just sitting in the tank, unlike gasoline which rots.  The negative is that propane gets a lower MPG by 10% or so, but usually is negated to the same MPG with a turbocharger.

The 1994 Toyota pickup is a reliable vehicle, but is not smooth riding.  Due to it’s light body, a bump is really felt but it sustains nicely.  Driving to work (30 miles one way, freeway) is rather nice, however.  Since it is turbocharged, the life really shows above 55 MPH and with a 5-speed manual transmission (5th gear is overdrive) the RPMs aren’t very high at about 3300 RPM at 80 MPH.

I have a few fixes to do, with the lower engine needing to have seals replaced to stop oil leaks along with maintenance changes of coolant hoses & water pump before the summer comes.


New Addition To the Vehicles – 1988 Pontiac Formula Fiero

Since life has been dull recently, I decided I to pick up an older vehicle that I’ve wanted for some time now, a Pontiac Fiero.  They came out about the same time as Toyota’s MR2 mid-engine car, and are also mid-engine design with the engine behind the driver.

The one I picked up actually is in pretty good shape for being 29 years old.  The seats are pristine aftermarket leather with a fiero logo on them, and the gauges are all digital instead of the stock analog.  Below is the center console…


And these are the driver console gauges.  (speedometer & tachometer are stock)


I’m finding it fun to drive, but it definitely gives you a quick view of the differences we’ve seen in vehicles over the last 30 years.  Granted, Pontiac didn’t design the Fiero as a luxury model car, since it was created for commuters.  This particular model has a 2.8 liter V6, happily sitting right behind the driver’s back.  The sound from the engine is deadened quite a bit, surprisingly.  I can only hear exhaust and not engine noises, while in the passenger compartment of the car.

This is the engine compartment under the trunk lid behind the driver’s seat.  Notice the storage space right behind the engine at the rear for groceries or whatever. ( 😉 )
Actually, from my examination of it I could probably put groceries in there and not have any issues since it is heat-shielded very well.


The only issue I’m seeing right now is rattle, mirrors that need to be replaced, and a ground issue with the digital gauges.  Other than that, this car is in great shape.

Now, the car itself isn’t a contender against today’s vehicles in road racing, since it’s a small 2.8 liter V6 with about 140 horsepower and 170 ft-lb torque.  Though it has been tuned to show it’s colors at higher RPMs.  Driving from where I bought it to my home last night (at about 75-80 MPH average traffic) the manual steering took a bit to get used to with the bumps in the freeway.  The engine held it’s own though, seeming to have more life over 65-70 MPH.  With the speedometer gauge being so small compared to how car speedometers are today, visually it seems to be moving slow… until I see that 20 and 40 aren’t far from each other…

This is a picture in comparison to my other vehicles, for size comparison… as you can see, My 2000 R6’s (right behind the Fiero) front window is almost as tall.


Ketogenic Diet – Week 2

Just an update that I’m on week two of the ketogenic diet with Keto Chow as the base.  I won’t lie and say I’m on a miraculous “only ketochow” meal prep, but it is still the majority of the days.  I have however done studies and found Chipotle taco bowls a great substitute for a meal as well.  Minus rice and beans with just a small touch a salsa and double sour cream with cheese and lettuce, it works great.  I’ve also found burgers with lettuce wraps work great as well since lettuce has very little carbohydrates.

Drinking water to flush your body is a wonderful thing.  I’ve been going through 1/2-1 gallon water per day along with coffee and tea of course.  I have been using decaffeinated tea/coffee to avoid any issues.  As far as sodas, I still drink diet but I try to limit it a bit.  I also try and have decaffeinated when I can.

On to week 2, but this time I’m going to try to use more ketochow through the week, and use outside food as a treat or social thing.  Keeping things keto the whole time, of course.  The sugar ups and downs feel like they are dieing down a bit as well.  I’ve lost 5 lbs since last monday, which I’ll attribute to water.

Ketogenic diet – start week 1

In a nutshell, ketogenic diet is replacing your diet structure with the following:
70-80% fat
20-25% protein
5-10% carbohydrate

Since most people eat much larger carbohydrates and sugars, it’s quite a change.  It takes 3-4 weeks for the body to fully adapt to the diet properly but most people are faster than that.

I’ve studied the human body and it’s digestive and metabolic processes for quite a number of years, superficially.  I’ve also studied the energy distribution when I was working out as a weight lifter 10+ years ago.  Age has a way of losing information it seems, and also throwing a curve ball.  I’m not liking the curve ball I’m being thrown since it seems my metabolism has changed quite a bit.  Being an amputee, I’ve done various other athletics but after a while it damages my leg and makes me take a hiatus which starts a cycle of not working out then working out then not working out… <insert cycle>.  This is not good, and I am gaining weight while eating semi-regularly, and while reducing my food also.  That is scary.
Normally (before being broken) to fix this I would simply increase my cycling and run after work either at the gym or on the road.  I’ve gained weight to the point that it is an issue since the weight causes quicker damages to the limb and is starting to effect internal readings like blood pressure and most noticeably cardio.  Not working your lungs makes them weak, etc.

My goal is to get my blood readings in check, and this will be a foundation to help my body be more prepped for weight loss since lipid levels and various other readings are causing blood pressure increase.  You can really feel it when the blood pressure becomes and issue, and you know when to stop.  It’s a death feeling, not cool.  Since I’m in an office environment 8 hours a day, I figure I’ll use the ketogenic food style.  Since I have more than just that to worry about, I’m going with a tried-and-true method: meal replacement shakes.  Most people are all like “oh, you’re into that fad, I’ll wait til you stop and eat your big mac” or something else ridiculously tacky.  I tried it before as a trial and it was doable but never followed through long-term.  I need to now.

I’ve tried many ways of doing it, including making my own.  Making your own powder mix takes quite a bit of time, so I stopped that idea.  The one that I’ve had success with and will be using is named “Keto Chow”, made by a guy in Utah named Chris Bair.  Well, not just him since it’s a company now, but he’s the founder and his family runs it with him.  He also eats ketogenic, and has for years now with very nice results.  He’s even recently done a real-life study of only eating Keto Chow and drinking only water for 4 weeks during his work trip.  It has helped him quite a bit, and he’s going to soon be doing a press release on this once he gets the final write-up finished.  Here are the informal week blogs posted:

Anyway, I’ve babbled way too much, on to the meat of it.
This is my first week starting the ketogenic diet, primarily with Keto Chow as my food.  Now, I’m not yet going to drink only water since I like tea and coffee.

Today (November 27th) was my first day of the week being keto-only.  It did take a bit to tell my work friends I’m not going to lunch with them to <insert random Mexican restaurant>, but I explained to them later what I was doing.

With Keto Chow, it comes in a week sized bag of pre-made powder that contains everything but the “fat” and water.  Each meal is one scoop (49.52g) of powder with the addition being heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream), avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.  That is varied depending on how many calories you want to have in your meal.  Their website explains it but it’s basic math.  Keto Chow powder has 135 calories per serving/scoop.  Multiply that by the number of meals you want in a day (3), then subtract that number from the number of calories you want in a day.  That’s the number of calories you add in heavy cream. (or alternatives I’ve mentioned)

Making it for the day (or 2 days) is pretty much simple math as well.  You can use blender bottles or any other sealed bottle that will hold 16-20 oz liquid.  An immersion blender (stick blender) is amazing for this.  I make mine by the day, so I have 3 bottles… blender bottles right now, but I have Hydro Flasks coming to keep them cold for the day without refrigeration.  Here’s an example:

  • My day’s calories: 1200 kcal
    • Keto Chow powder (135 calories & 49.52g per serving/scoop):
      • 3 meals so multiply 49.52g by 3 = 148.56g powder for the day which is 405 calories
    • Heavy cream (I’m using Trader Joe heavy cream, 50 calories & 15 ml per serving):
      • Take the day’s calories (1200) and subtract the calories of the Keto Chow powder (405), in this case it is 795 calories
      • Divide that calorie amount (795) by the amount of calories in a heavy cream serving (50), which in this case is 15.9 servings of heavy cream. (or 15 ml times 15.9 = 238.5 ml total)

From the above, we now have our day’s calculated needs for 1,200 calories:
148.56g Keto Chow powder
238.5 ml heavy cream

The next step is to take a gallon (or close) container and mark about 48 oz on it.  How I did was simply pour 16 oz of water into one of the blender bottles 3 times, then used a sharpie.
Now, to measure heavy cream to that amount the blender bottle will help a lot.  The side of the bottle has ml marks, and averaging is fine.  Pour heavy cream until it’s just a touch below the 250 ml mark between 200 ml & 300 ml.  Then pour that heavy cream into the gallon container.

Then, fill about half of the container with water with the heavy cream and also measure the Keto Chow powder on a scale to the nearest whole number.  (149 in this case)
Dump the Keto Chow powder into the water after measuring it out, then blend it until everything is well mixed.  This doesn’t take long, but make sure it’s thorough since some can stick to the sides and the bottom.

Pour the container equally into the 3 blender bottles (or whatever you are using), refrigerate for at least an hour to let everything mix properly naturally, and that’s it!  Keep refrigerated, or if using a Hydro Flask it’s good for the day.

The above measurements can be multiplied by the number of meals you want to use, of course.  If doing 2 days (6 meals), just multiply by 6 and have 6 bottles.  If you want more water in the bottles, it’s fine to add it in after as you wish and shake it up.  Since it’s water, nothing is harmed.

That’s about it.  It might look semi-complicated with how I describe it, but once read a couple of times it will make sense.  The Keto Chow website (http://www.ketochow.xyz) is a better site to read about it, and find other links to sites with more information there.

I’ll post weekly about my results and anything I find out along the way.  Wish me luck.