New project: Hickory snath (scythe handle)

I have a new page in the project section for a straight snath, made out of hickory.  Since I was building my own snath, I was able to incorporate all the advice on snath design and make the just right for me and it works fabulously.  This is a very straight forward project, taking a little bit of two afternoons.  Tools used: bandsaw, drill, jig saw and router.

Click here to read more

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New project: Hand water pump installation

There is something quite satisfying about using a hand pump, knowing it’s your own power lifting it out of the ground and into your kitchen.

This pump was purchased through Lehmans. When it arived, I discovered that it was made in Maine by Bison Pumps, whom I contacted for assistance. They listened to what I wanted to do, answered my questions, then helped me figure out what parts I needed to connect the pump to my well.

I wanted to be able to switch between the hand pump and my existing electric pump. Bison said I needed two shutoff valves, a check valve, water line and various other brass and plastic parts and pieces. They made a diagram, showing how to connect everything, and were extremely helpful.

read about this project here

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Conversations with telemarketers

The conversations are real, only the names have been changed…

At home:

Telemarketer: Hello, this is Jamie with Satellite TV company.  Do you currently have cable or satellite?

Me: We don’t watch TV.  We think it’s evil and keep it in the basement, to protect the children.

Telemarketer: Really ?!?

Me: Actually, our TV is in the basement, we only use it to watch movies on the weekend.

Telemarketer: I don’t really watch TV that much either.

Me: Kind of ironic, being that you work for Satellite TV company.

Telemarketer: Yeah.  It’s a job.

At work:

Telemarketer: Hello, this is Jenny with (consulting company, that I can’t remember the name of), I know your time is valuable, and you are busy with many IT projects, so I’ll get to the point…

Me: Actually, I was reading web comics.

Telemarketer: (tells me about her companies services, what they can offer, etc.)

Me: Well, I’m a one man IT shop, with no help and no budget.  I can’t even buy a replacement hard drive without approval.  I don’t think there is anything your company can do for me.

Telemarketer: Oh.  What web comic were you reading?

Me:  It’s about a small ISP in Canada., science and geek humor.

She was right, XKCD is quite good.  You know, I think that’s the only time I’ve wanted telemarketer to call back (so I could thank her).

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Restoring the Master Boot Record on Vista after installing Linux

Ok, you installed Ubuntu, Fedora or some other Linux.  It was fun to play with, but now it’s time to get back to work.  Maybe you managed to configure GRUB to boot Windows by default and you want to keep your Linux, maybe not.

If want to remove Linux (and the GRUB boot loader), you are going to need to restore the MBR (Master Boot Record) and Windows boot record.

With Windows XP, it was easy.  Boot from the Windows CD, work through the screens until you can pick the recovery console, sign in, then use the commands FIXBOOT and FIXMBR.

I tried the same trick with Vista, but it wasn’t quite the same. did have this thread, which shows that Vista can do the same thing, but with different commands.  Kind of like Microsoft Office 2007.  You can do all the same stuff, you just have to learn a new way to do it.

  • Boot from the Vista CD
  • choose repair windows, choose command prompt window, change directory to the cd/dvd drive and type:
  • bootrec /fixboot
  • bootrec /fixmbr
  • exit
  • reboot
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Rise of the scythe

Some inspiring and amazing videos…

The End of Cheap Oil and Rise of the Scythe:

A Good Scythe at Work

I used to have a hard time using the scythe for any length of time.  These videos made it look so easy, so I did a bit of research, and tested my theories this weekend.  Here is what I learned:

  • Allow the back of the blade to drag on the ground.  All this time I’ve tried to hold to keep the blade from hitting the ground.  With the blade in the air, If you hit a large clump of grass, the handle pulls against your hand and you have to fight to keep it up.  If you allow the blade to brush the ground, when you hit a clump of grass, the blade pushes against the ground, so you don’t have to fight it, just keep pulling.
  • Use your legs to turn your body, pulling the scythe with your left hand, guiding it with your right.  Being right handed, I want to do the opposite, pull with the right, but that is much harder.  If you use your legs to turn and pull with the left hand you will be surprised how much more you cut.
  • Keep the tip of the blade down.  As you turn, the tip of the blade wants to tip up.  Keep it down, close to the ground.  According to this page on, the snath (handle) can be adjusted so that the blade rests in the proper position.
  • Working first thing in the morning, while there is still dew on the grass is much easier.  I found a few patches in the shade, that still had dew and compared it to dry grass in full sun, only a few feet away, and the difference was quite noticeable.
  • Proper sharpening makes a huge difference.  I’ve always sharpened the blade perpendicular to the cutting edge.  Once I started running the stone parallel to the cutting edge, it stayed sharper and cut longer.  The odd thing is that when I first started sharpening this way, the blade got duller, then it began to get sharp again.  Maybe, sharpening perpendicular gives the blade an rough edge like a serrated knife, good cutting some things, but not good at staying sharp.
  • The snath (handle) should match the user.  See this page on how I changed my handle to suite me better.

More scythe resources at

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Cherry harvest 2008

This weekend, we harvested 12 1/2 pounds of tart cherries.  It was our largest harvest ever, which is a surprise because the top half of the tree is dying.  Maybe trees and plants set more fruit when under stress. Whatever the reason, cherry mead has always been the best and I’m looking forward to using these.  I’m not ready to make mead, so I rinsed the berries and stored them in the freezer.

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Bottling mulberry mead

At just shy of 1 year, the mulberry mead was ready to be bottled.  The recipe: 12 pounds of honey, 1 1/2 pints mulberries and 1 cup cherries.  It was racked in November of 2007 and ignored until now, leaving it tart and fruity with a hint of sweetness.  The fruit only contributed a touch of color, but their acids helped the fermentation process.

The mead was so clear, that I bottled directly from the carboy.  I attached the bottling wand to one end of the hose, and the racking cane to the other.

Since I had out the sanitizing solution, I racked the cyser that I brewed November of 2007.  The cyser tasted prefect, if it was clear, it would have bottled it too.

Read more about the brewing process for the mead and cyser here.


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A computer geek with a taste for sustainable living, organic food, green products, buying local, woodworking, bicycling, running, yoga, recycling and doing-it-yourself.