Homemade Fat-Free Yogurt in Excalibur Dehydrator

I started using my Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator for making yogurt, and it works very nicely!  I set the temperature to just a nudge above 105 degrees, time to 12 or so hours (just to make sure it stays on the whole time) and I let it stay on for a while to warm up a bit as I prepare the yogurt.

For the yogurt, I used fat-free milk.  It has a different characteristic than 1%/2%/whole milk, since the fat isn’t there to coagulate in large amounts.  It does create yogurt, it’s just the visual indicators of when it’s ready to stop fermenting isn’t as apparent.  I use 1/2 tablespoon plain greek yogurt as a starter for a 32-oz ball mason jar container, stirring it together in a little milk before filling the entire container.  Loosely put the top on, and toss it in the dehydrator for 8 hours.  At that point, visibly inspect the container every hour.  Look at the surface of the milk, which will start to be less white and more transparent.  This is the whey collecting at the top, a good indicator it’s time to pull the container out.  You should see layers of floating fragments whiter than the surrounding liquid, as well.
Pull the container out, and let it sit at room temperature for an hour or two, so the liquid slowly reaches lower temperatures.

At this point, if you want to strain the yogurt then toss it into there and into the refrigerator , otherwise just toss the container in the refrigerator for 6 or so hours and you’re set.  Personally I absolutely love my yogurt strained for 12-16 hours to remove the whey.  That reduces the carbohydrates and sugar by quite a bit, leaving the yogurt at about 5-6g of carbohydrates for 8 oz (1 cup) serving.

The Camp Transformation Center

I’m overweight, and I know it.  Compared to how I was in 2007, I’m a mess and I admit it.  This isn’t an overnight thing, it’s been very slowly progressing over the last 4-5 years as I’ve gotten comfortable with doing the same routine daily.  This is changing, and it’s not a new years thing.  I originally was planning of getting back into bicycling after my leg became acclimated to the prosthetic life, but weight became an issue.  My goal now is to get back into the weight zone so I can bicycle again.  (without stressing the frame)

A friend of mine started going to a program called “The Camp Transformation Center”.  It’s a relatively new personal group workout & nutrition assistance program based in California (with offices in CA, AZ, and other places), and it’s pretty intense.  Being such a new business and with all of the competition of $10 gym memberships, of course there’s going to be a marketing gimmick.  (What business doesn’t?)  In a nutshell here’s what it is:
A guided group 1 hour daily H.I.I.T. (High intensity interval training) workout that uses light weights in high interval along with bodyweight combined with different exercises to impact the entire body muscle structure.  It’s intense, with no rest and a circuit of exercise stages that are performed with a partnership of 2-4 people in the group.  It helps not going at it alone, and the instructors push to make you pull the best out of yourself and not quit.  The exercises include everything from fire hydrant, squats, crunches, pushups, weight snaps, different styles of including light weights into other routines, body weight pulls/pushes, etc.  It’s not about the workout and muscle building however, it’s about losing weight and becoming fit.  To begin there is a 2 week trial to see how you’ll like it.  There’s also a fully immersive 6-week challenge.  This I have to go into detail on because lots of people seem to make it sound like a scam, when it’s pretty straight up for the most part.  There’s a deposit of money you place down in the beginning ($497).  There’s a set final weight that is your target (about 10-20 lbs higher than your ideal weight set by doctors generally), and the challenge itself has a target of 20 lbs lost within 6-weeks.  This is the time where most people I’ve noticed seem to overthink things to the point of cynicism.  If you reach through the first 6-week challenge and lose 20 lbs, you are rolled over to the next challenge.  Wash-rinse-repeat until the final weight target is reached.  If you do not meet 20 lbs on any of the challenges, a portion up to that times deposit will be withheld, and the rest returned.  The rule is you attend 5 days out of the week, follow the nutrition diet within the nutrition book given upon joining (the “bible”), and check-in on facebook everytime you attend. (while tagging the director)  It’s very much FTDI. (follow the damned instructions)
It’s not as simple as walking in, doing some workouts, and leaving.  It’s very intense and changes your lifestyle for that 6+ weeks, from diet to how your muscles feel.  I’ve started in the beginning of last  week (Jan 9th was my first day), which was 7 days ago.  I won’t lie, it still has me pushing the limit of my body’s capabilities.  Within that time, I’ve dropped 11 lbs.  It wasn’t water weight, I was on a 2-week trial before that to get my muscles worked in, the difference was that I followed the nutritional diet along with followed the supplement recommendations.  Since it’s only for a short period of time, supplements are recommended to use such as sponsored ones like LipoFX AM and PM, EFA, and isofx protein.  Personally I chose my own by seeing the nutritional makeup of each and choosing as appropriate.  For protein I chose ISO-100 which is zero fat/zero sugar/25g protein, KryptoLean for the morning which is a thermogenic supplement.  Also a multi-vitamin to make sure your essentials are provided.

I’ve typed a lot, but I’ve started this program and I have a long ways to reach my goal.  It’s hard to get a workout like this without spending 100+ a month, which is about what the membership is if you want to continue after the challenge:  ~$120/month.

It’ll be interesting to see how things progress over the next 5 weeks.  Whatever happens, I have the information needed to continue after, as well.  Let’s see how things go!

EDIT February 9th 2017:
Being on my fifth week out of a six-week challenge, I can now honestly say it’s worth every ounce of energy.  The first few weeks were a little turbulent, but once my body (slowly) became accustomed then things change.  It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t a catastrophic change, but it was noticeable once you stop and observe.  Following the plan and workout, I lost 20 pounds so far within 4 weeks, and it’s a good start.  I’m starting the suicide sprints now too, and it’s helping me get my cardio back in check.  It’s a nice feeling, and in another week I get a week of downtime between challenges.  2 more after this one, then I became a member to come on my own accord…. which will probably be the same haha.

HR1 Handlebar Riser on 2012 Yamaha Stratoliner S

The handlebars that come stock on the Yamaha Stratoliner/roadliner can wreck your back  on long rides.  Leaning forward slightly to reach the bars really did a number on mine, and I’ve had my bike for about 1 1/2 years now.  I also am not up for replacing the cables and the electrical cord mods simply to pull the bars back a bit.  After searching around, there’s not much of a selection unless going with ape hangers.  That’s not something I want to do right now with my bike, so I went with a less expensive alternative:  HR1 risers by Refined Cycles.  Yes, Baron also sells risers, but they are nearly double the price.  They look a bit different than the Baron model, but to me it doesn’t matter.


I did not do the installation myself, since I was at work most of the time.  I took my bike to a shop near me, so I thought I’d share my experience.  I won’t drag names through the mud, however I will say that the shop I took it to tried to take an easy out.
They told me that the cables weren’t long enough, and I had to get extension cables which would be about $1,100 after installation.  I pushed back, telling them if they released the slack in the cable with the supports and such everything would be fine.
Another day,  and the same. The electrical was too short and nothing could be done.  I went there the following day with the instructions straight from the manufacturer on how to perform the installation… on my specific motorcycle.
The next day, nope… not going to fit, requires extensions.  I was resigned and just went there to pay for the time they put in and pick my bike up so I could waste my weekend working on my bike in my carport next to my neighbor’s 5 barking dogs… but alas, I got there to pick up my bike and everyone acted like I was acting silly, and telling me my bike is done and will be pulled around.

Yes, it was done but be careful of the shop you go to.  Nothing wild or crazy was done, just following the instructions.
It rides great, with my weight more on my butt and leaned back a bit.  Steering is different, more upright with more body leaning.  I love it.  I was able to take a ride 50 miles north for a burger in Black Canyon City and ride home, all completely fresh without any back pain.


This is how it looks from the front through my windshield.


This is what it looks like directly from the top.

This will fit the 2012 Yamaha Stratoliner/Roadliner, don’t let anyone tell you different.

Next comes exhaust, then suspension.

Bash – Returning more than just a code

I do most of my scripting in upper level languages, however recently I was tasked with “fixing” a bash shell script another person wrote where I work.  Naturally that meant I had to rewrite it since it wasn’t up to par.  I grew tired of using global variables since it leaves the entire namespace limited.  After research, I found a way to return a string from a function to the calling function/main script.  I figured I’ll share.

Here’s a simple example of string returning that is quite useful when applied in returning comma or colon-delimited strings of data for parsing.  This example returns a couple of comma-delimited variables in a string:


declare VAR
source ./common.sh
var_grabber VAR
echo “VAR is: $VAR”




function var_grabber() {
local output=$1
local VAR1=”var1″
local VAR2=”var2″
local string=””

eval $output=\$string

As main.sh is run, the return is:

$ bash main.sh
VAR is: var1,var2

In this example, main.sh sources the common.sh script to allow the function to be used.  In a nutshell, call the function with just the name of a variable that will hold the data, without the dollar-sign.  In the function, pass the first argument (the variable name) to a local variable, and pass the reference to a string to the local variable holding that variable name.  (output, in this case)
The eval sets it up properly, and in main.sh the VAR variable will hold the string.  From there it can be parsed and used as needed.

I figured I’d share this since it allows the ability to apply message-passing logic to bash scripting, for those that are used to it.  I know there are many other ways to do this, but this was closer to Perl style which I am used to.

Finding (and removing) ^M in files

I know I’m not the only person who works in multiple operating system environments, and gets ticked off when finding a ^M saved in the newline of text files or scripts.  Windows/MSDOS uses ‘\r\n’ and Unix/Linux/OSX uses ‘\n’ for newline at the code level, and we see the Windows \r as ^M.  An easy to way to work around this at the Linux/Unix/OSX level is rather simple.

To find files that have the ^M at the Linux/Unix/OSX prompt, type the following:
grep -r $’\r’ *
or for a single file
tr -d $’\r’ < filename

To remove all ^M in a file, type the following (replacing filename with the file in question):
sed $’s/\r//’ -i filename

I figured I’d share this since it’s something you don’t do all of the time, and it’s just one of those things.

New To Straight Razors, First Time Use!

Having been using safety razors for some time now, I’ve grown to enjoy the blade and respect it.  After feeling comfortable with using my safety razors and finding them very reliable/inexpensive to maintain, I’ve decided to go the route of straight razors to experience them.  The reason is mainly because safety razors have a slight issue with cutting hair on the scalp after it’s grown more than 2-3 days due to clogging of cut hair between the blade and head of the safety razor.  It’s entirely possible, but requires quite a bit of rinsing with every short stroke of the blade and takes a large amount of time.  Que the straight razor, with no other surface than the blade itself… and no protection.  It’s definitely a no-frills creation.  I’m not too terribly hot on buying a $100+ new blade simply to try it out, so I purchased an old-school used blade that was reconditioned.  Very well reconditioned, I might add.  It’s a 1930’s German Solingen straight razor with elk antler scales (handle) and looks brand new.  I also picked up an English bridle leather razor strop to maintain the straight razor since it needs to be stropped after being used almost every time.


After receiving the razor, I was impressed by how even after approximately 80 years it was so well conditioned.  The metal is carbon steel, which is different from most nowadays being stainless steel.  Stainless is less forgiving than carbon steel, requiring stropping more often.  It was honed, and ready for use immediately.  The razor strop was in perfect condition, with a little dirt on the fabric section but that has no consequence to stropping.

I will admit, it takes quite a bit of self-training to do properly.  Having never used one before, I researched angle and such beforehand.  Most I’ve read said to use a 20 degree tilt, but I’ve found it varies depending upon which area of the scalp I was in contact with.  The first time (the only time so far) did hurt due to my lack of skill, however the hair removal was done very quickly compared to any other method I’ve used.  I also learned the hard way, always move with slow certain motions.  The blade merely tapped the tip of my ear, and left quite a marking that will take weeks to heal properly.  I used a brand of waterless shaving lotion named “EZ-Blade” which actually works very nicely.  After I removed most of the hair from my scalp, I used my trusty Feather brand safety razor to smooth everything down to the skin.  I noticed that the straight razor (so far) isn’t terribly good at creating a baby-butt smooth scalp, but is wonderful for mass removal.


This straight razor will be kept as a beauty piece, since I also purchased a relatively inexpensive 1960’s Soviet-era straight razor from the Ukraine which should reach me in a couple weeks.  I will be using that one as the main workhorse, and allowing the German model to be the pretty face of the area.  I’m going to try and continue using the straight razor method to see if I can strengthen up my scalp and allow the blade to make contact without such sensitivity.  Mind you, not bleeding or scarring, just sensitivity.

On to more experimenting!

2 New Ragdoll cats

I took my trip to Ragnarok Cattery just outside of Riverside, CA, and had a good time talking with Dave Chambers (the owner) while I was there.  Since he’s retiring soon I  figured I’d take the chance to hear some of the history and stuff he’s gone through.

Version 2

I originally went for a single Ragdoll breed cat, but once I was there I decided I’d get two.  They’re great cats, just being the first day and being stuck in a kennel cage for the 5-6 hour trip made them a little grumpy and antisocial for the night.


They’re so docile, it’s amazing.  I do need to really take some time on their fur though, since it sheds everywhere.  The only downside I’m having is not with them but with Ashes, my black kitten.  She’s not liking them in the house and has turned severely aggressive towards me and them.  I know it’s a territory thing, but the problem is that Ragdoll cats aren’t aggressive at all, which makes them open to abuse.  I’m hoping she’ll calm down over the next few days because I’d hate to have to adopt her out 😦  She’s a wonderful cat, just has issues.


UPDATE September 26, 2016:
After a little over a week, the attitude with Ashes has calmed down and she’s become very close with the grey ragdoll, Aria.  Both constantly play and lay together.  This has changed Ashes’ personality immensely, as now she’s more like a normal kitten.
Unfortunately though, the white ragdoll, Crystale, is still a very shy cat and has trouble not having her body enclosed in a tight area for protection.  2 times I’ve pulled her out of hiding places inside of my couch and inside of the box spring of my bed.  Once she’s in my arms, she clings tight and nuzzles while purring but right now she can’t stand a room with any noises or motion whatsoever.  I’m going to get another cat bed, litter box,  and food dish for the extra bedroom and put a light talk radio in there to acclimate her to hearing noises without being attacked/harmed.  I have a feeling she’ll take some time to get her ducks in a row, but once she does I think she’ll be a very loving cat.

UPDATE December 14, 2016:
Crystale has been conditioned properly, and became part of the crowd.  Unfortunately though, I don’t have enough hours at home to socially interact with the two ragdoll cats.  I’m usually at home a maximum of 2-3 hours an evening due to work and driving home along with sleep.  I’ve found families for both Aria & Crystale this week, and they are being taken care of.  I am down to Ashes, alone.  He’s more independent and able to handle himself while I’m not around.  Though when I am home, he does love to lay on my chest and watch TV or my laptop along with me.  He’s a daddy’s boy, he always has been.