All posts by eric

Water colors as wood stain

For a recent project, I wanted a nice dark wood stain.  Everything I found in the stores contained V.O.C.s.  Convinced it just didn’t have to be so, my wife suggested that I use water color paints, followed by a coat of oil finish.  It works fabulously.  This photo shows oak and pine boards, the pine has been stained with water colors and a shelf that was water colored and oiled.


While Malware does bite, MalwareBytes ROCKS!

In my day job, I’m a one man IT shop for a 50 user company, so I’ve seen a fair number for dirty machines.  Machines with malware, viruses, trojans and root kits.  Usually, I am able to cleanup the machines and return them to service.  Until now.  Real-Av has gotten of a few of my machines and I had to resort to format/reload Windows.

Real-AV is not nice.  It renames system files and folders, prevents normal AV programs from running, locks into the WinLogon process, Windows boot process, changes the wallpaper and creates fake AV buttons.  Once the machine is infected, clicking on just about anything causes the program to run.

Real-AV is immune to Norton Antivirus, ClamwinAV, Spybot S&D, discovery with CCleaner and manually going through files and RegEdit; however, MalwareBytes is able to remove it!

Real-AV is able to prevent MalwareBytes from running, but simply renaming the mbam.exe file to something else took care of the problem.

The only weird thing I ran into wat that during the installation, MalwareBytes sat for 5 mintues at the “Finishing Installation”.   Maybe it was Real-AV, maybe not, but it did installation complete and it did a fantastic job!

Edited to Add: MalwareBytes works great to remove AntiVirus 360 (A360) Also!

Cherry mead update

Plastic pail fermenter (actually taller than carboy)
Glass carboy (not to scale, actually smaller than pail)

This weekend, I racked (transferred) the cherry mead from the fermenting bucket into a glass carboy, to get it off the fruit and start clarifying.  I started with a bucket because it has more room top for bubbles while fermenting and it is easier to get all 12 pounds of cherries in and out.


With all brewing projects, it is important that everything be clean and sanitized.  I start by filling the carboy with sanitizer.  After the carboy was sanitized, I transfer the sanitizer to a 5 gallon bucket.  I’ve learned is that you don’t dump out the sanitizer until you are done, even if it means that you need an extra bucket.

Once everything was sanitized, I started with a standard siphon.  This is a great time to collect a sample for tasting, and I had a cup handy. While siphoning, it is possible to lift the racking cane up, off the bottom, allowing clear mead from the middle of the bucket to flow.  It was a very nice pink, nice aroma and tasted great.  It was just on the dry side, with some tartness and some fruit flavor.

When I had all I could siphon (and taste), I put the strainer in the really large metal bowl and began dumping from the bucket into the strainer.  The bowl was filling so I stopped and dumped the liquid into the carboy and then continued until the bucket was empty.

After emptying the really large metal bowl into the carboy, I used the smaller bowl to squeeze the cherries and collect any remaining juice.  This worked really well and netted about 1/2 gallon of liquid.

This process stirs up the mead quite a bit, which is not a good thing.  I didn’t want to stir in oxygen or bacteria, so I worked as gently as I could.  After everything was in the carboy I stopped it up with an airlock and moved it to the basement.  The yeast and sediment that was stirred up is already beginning to settle.

The next part is the hardest, even though it requires the least amount of work from me, waiting until it’s ready to bottle.

December 2008, Mead, Chicken & Repair update

The Cherry Mead stopped bubbling this week, so it took about 4 weeks to ferment completely. Any time now it can be transferred (racked) into a glass carboy and allowed to clarify. It smelled great while bubbling, so I have high hopes for it.

The chickens started laying the week before Christmas. I brought the chicks home on July 1st, so they are 5 months or about 25 weeks. Chickens need more than 12 hours of light a day to lay. I have two 250 WATT infrared lights on a timer to give them 13 hours of light and keep them warm. It appears to be working.

Sunday night I discovered that the sump pump had quit working. Actually, it was trying to work, but the pedestal that supports the motor had self destructed and the whole thing was turning. I was able to put together a splint using 1 1/2 PVC pipe and hose clamps. It should hold until I can replace the pump this weekend.

I would like to be able to pump out the sump without electricity. Lehmans has this hand powered transfer pump, which looks like it would do the trick. I may have to pick up one as a backup.

Home brewing day, cherry mead

This years cherries, after thawing
This year's cherries, after thawing

These are the cherries that we harvested back in July.   There are 12 1/2 pounds.  I wasn’t ready to use them at that time, so they were frozen.  To thaw them, I put the bags of cherries in a large metal bowl and kept them in our “cold room” for three days.

Our cold room is an area of our basement that is unfinished and unheated.  This fall we cleaned it out and built in a shelf.  This time of year, it stays about 40 degrees.  It’s great for storing root vegetables and other things that like it cold and dark.

I’ve made cherry mead before, but it seems like I learn something every time.

After reading this article on, I was quite convinced to continue making mead without heating.  Unfortunately, honey does not dissolve very well in cold water.  After emptying the honey, there was quite a bit of honey was left in the jars.

I added water to the honey jars and used a butter knife to stir the left over honey into the water, then shook the jars.

Even though I added another gallon of water to the fermenter and stirred vigorously, the honey was not dissolving.  I tried our hand held mixer (in the photo above) and that worked fabulously.  The honey / water mixture took on a milky appearance.

Once the honey was dissolved, the bags of cherries were emptied into the metal bowl.  I was amazed at the amount of juice.  Freezing and thawing had juiced the cherries for me!  There was so much juice that I only needed 3 gallons of water to make 5 1/2 gallons of must.

UPDATE 12-2-08:  I mixed this batch on Sunday and it took until Tuesday evening to start the airlock bubbling.  The yeast might have started faster had I warmed the water to 80 or 90 degrees.  It would have helped the honey dissolve.

UPDATE 12-10-08: It is still bubbling, although it does sound like it is slowing down.  It will be time to rack into a new carboy in about a week or two.

UPDATE 12-13-08:  No action in the airlock.  I think that primary fermentation is about complete.

Here is the complete recipe:

  • 3 gallons water
  • 12 1/2 pounds of cherries
  • 12 pounds honey
  • WLP720 Sweet Mead yeast from White Labs
1 gallon of water was added to the fermenter, then the honey.  The honey / water was stirred with a large spoon, then a hand held mixer.  The cherries, juice and yeast were added and gently stirred in with a large spoon.  The fermenter was sealed with a lid and airlock.
We also bottled a cyser that was brewed about this time last year.  It came out fantastic!  Tart with a great apple flavor.

DIY R-Strap style Professional Photographer Shoulder Strap

An R-Strap is a shoulder strap designed for professional photographers. It attaches to the tripod mount of your camera and the camera hangs upside down, but when you pick up the camera, the strap hangs below, out of the way.

After reading this this great how to on instructables, from Lifehacker, I put one together using a carriage bolt, D ring and a shoulder strap from an old messenger bag.

Bonus: Because the strap has two clips, it can be used to stabilize the camera by uncliping one side of the strap, standing on the loose end of the strap and lifting the camera up. As long as the strap has tension, it will hold the camera steadier.

Read project here.

Mead, to boil or not

Fellow mead maker and blogger Erroll, of conducted a double blind taste test of boiled vs raw meads.  By boiling, we are talking about boiling the must (honey / water mixture) to sanitize it before fermenting.

Some people believe that honey has anti-microbial action and therefore does not need boiling, and that the flavors will be destroyed by the boiling.  Others believe that bacteria and wild yeasts will introduce off flavors, so the must should be boiled.

I have found more “honey” flavor in the meads that are made raw and have not experienced any adverse results from wild yeasts or bacteria.

Read Erroll’s results here.  Thanks to the Washington Wine Maker for such a scientific approach.

Mini sawbuck plans

The other day, the kids asked why I didn’t bring my sawbuck when we went to cut wood. While the sawbuck does make wood cutting much easier, it is a little large to carry around, especially when I have to climb up and down hills. I liked their idea though, so I decided to build a to build a mini, portable sawbuck.

read the full plans here.