Re-Dying my 10 year old sun-bleached jacket.

I needed to dye a tan zipper black to match a black pair of pants that the zipper slide split on. I cut the zipper out of the pants this weekend. now, to sew the new zipper in.
I had found the zipper in a collection of old zippers I had gotten via FreeCycle. The zipper is made of real metal. Should last longer then the plastic one original to the pants.

I decided to dye my jacket tonight while I was dyeing the zipper. I have had the jacket about 10 years now. It got pretty sun-faded sitting over the car seat in the Florida sun. The shoulders of the jacket are quite yellow now.

 Here I have my jacket in a steaming hot bucket of green dye water.

 I used tongs and a glove to move the jacket around. I used the tongs more then my hand, because that water was hot! I wanted to make sure that the jacket was dyed through.

 While I was at it, I tossed a few odds and ends in with the dye. I tried some acrylic sheets in the black and green dye. The black dye came out a nice brown color, and the green just tinted the plexi. I also stuck a bit of airline tubing into the black, and that took the color really well. I will need to remember that to get black tubing for a tank in the future. Some bits of plastic took the black as a dark blue. Funny how the acrylic took it as brown, while the plastic took it as blue.

  My jacket, natural light before.

 Natural light after.

 Camera flash before.

 Camera flash after.

It looks better to the eye then it does on the camera. Not sure why. But you can see that it’s a little less yellow. If I had spent more then the $6 on 3 colors of dye, and didn’t have the two half-packets left over, I would be frustrated with the results. I think it ruin the jacket – it’s no worse then it was. I took a year or two of age off of it, so that;s good.

Next up is to try to water-proof it. I had wanted to give dyeing a go before I coated it with waterproof spray and prevent the jacket from taking the dye at all.

Bad storms in Elgin

It looks like I will need to finish my Kayak in a hurry!

These two pictures where taken about 8 minutes apart. Water coming up fast!

  From a different window. That water is about 3-4 feet deep at the far end I think. A good amount of water sitting there.

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45 gallon aquarium rebuild

A good friend of mine gave me a couple of larger fish tanks. The one I have had up and running for a while now. The other didn’t make the move from his place to mine. It sprung a leak. It held water when he had it, but leaked when i tried to fill it up.

No biggy, I can fix that.

All Glass Aquarium build on May 12 1986 Here you can see that the tank is 23 years old. hopefully my patch job will last 23 years!

Filthy Dirty fish tank The tank is… dirty. Filthy dirty to say the least. It was in his basement running. I don’t remember if he never put fish in it when he set it up or if the didn’t survive, but he let the tank evaporate down to 4-5 inches left in the tank. So needless to say it was a little crusty. I also stuck it in the mud when I was moving it, so it’s literally dirty to boot.

Using a razor blade to cut away the silicone sealant on an aquarium To to remove the existing silicone sealant, I use one of those metal backed razor blades. I find the holder gets too clumsy in the corners, so i just be careful. You slide the blade down along the glass. It can be a bit awkward at some angles, but if you can use both hands, you can do it pretty easily.

Silicone seal partially removed Just cut the sealent clean to the corners, scraping the class clean of the old silicone.

rebuilding a leaky fish tank The corners are a bit fussy. Just hack and slash that stuff out of there, and clean it up well once the bulk of it is gone. Scrape all the thin stuff that clings clean with the blade. Just cut it off like your shaaving, or sharpening the blade on the glass.

the corner of the tank cleaned, ready to be cut awayHere is a cleaned corner, ready to be cut. Notice the blue tint to the silicone? I am thinking somebody treated the tank for ich once or twice. Probably not too many times, and a long time ago at that. Probably in the first 10-15 years of the tanks life. It’s not very strong colored, and isn’t behind the sealant where it’s loosened off the glass.

removing the silicone from the leaking aquarium Here I am pulling a strip free.

The fresh new silicone fixing the leak in the aqiarium The new silicone seal. I put it on, and smothed it with my finger. You can use a medical clove it you don’t want the silicone on your hands. It’s a pain to get off. Best way I have found is to go play in the dirt.

partially filled, very dirty fixed fish tank Here I am starting to fill the tank with water, testing it for leaks. Fill it a few inches, wait, watch for damp spots, then add a few more inches and repeat.

using the python siphon filter to fill the aquarium I picked up a Python brand siphon a while back, and I love it. I use it for fresh fills on tanks, because a quick flick and it will suck the water out almost as fast as it can fill the tank. If you only go a few inches at a time, you can drain below the leak quickly enough to not get much water out of the tank as he holes are likely to be small at this point.

freshly rebuilt fish tank - no more leaksHere is the tank full. It is still in need of cleaning. This batch of water will get drained in a day or two. The fresh silicone seems to me to be hard on that first change of water. I will siphon the rest of the crud out of the tank while I am at it.

2 different types of light bulbs on the rebuilt aquarium Here are the lights. 2 different bulbs, one was flickering pretty badly. The new bulb is the left bulb. I think it’s a grow light bulb, not an aquarium bulb like the right one. Notice the difference in brightness between old and new. Florescent tubes loose a lot of brightness over a six month period of use.

After a couple of hours, it’s still holding water OK – no leaks. That water stinks though. Going to have to drain it to get that stank out of the tank.

The stand leans a bit forward as well, so I will need to shim it back about an eighth of an inch so the water is level. Not sure if it’s the floor, the stand, or what.

I am going to cycle this tank next week with some platys that I have for a couple of months, then move the Jack Dempsey into it, freeing up the living room tank for fish that don’t hide all day long.

So, what do you think?

Cooking Club & Seseme Chicken

Last weekend Katie and I hosted our first Cooking Club get together. Only one other couple was able to make it – short notice and we didn’t ask what was a good time for the other people.

The theme for the night was Chinese. Katie made her family famous Chicken Fried Rice and Beef Egg Rolls. I decided to make some Sesame Chicken that Katie had found a recipe for, and some Sweet Potato Poppy Seed balls for desert. Our guests brought a broccoli dish with an Asian flair that was really good. It fit very well with the rest of what we had.

I have always liked Katie’s Fried Rice. The Egg Rolls where new to me. She kept talking about them, but never made them for me.

No event can go without it’s drama, and the egg rolls where the drama for the evening. Egg roll wrappers are near impossible to find. Katie had thought she had some, but they turned out to be spring roll wrappers. A last minute trip to 2 stores came back with no egg roll wrappers. So, spring roll wrappers it was. To boot, we forgot to dig the bean sprouts out of the fridge. Best tasting disaster I ever had I think. We ate them all!

When the guests arrived, I made some egg drop soup to cover for Katie while she was tearing the stores up. It tasted fine, looked horrible. I mean, it looked like cream of egg drop soup or something. Closed your eyes, it was all good.

I fried up the Sweet Potato Poppy seed balls while we where playing Dominoes. Fun game! Decent snack.

I think the Sesame chicken was the surprise of the night. It was very very good. About 30 minutes, start to finish, including a 20 minute marinade. Well, maybe an hour when your as disorganized as I am. Luckily I started early.

The chicken was so good, I made it again today. I think it’s going to be a standard of mine. The recipe is found at

I have left over sauce this time. That’s going into a jar, going to see how long it lasts in the fridge.

I am looking at it, and I think I will try a sugar-free version at some point. See how that turns out. I am guessing I will need to have some sugar in it for it to be the right texture, but maybe end up with a low-sugar version?

Upside down Aquarium

You would think, with all the water I have had on the floor in the last week, that I would not want to try something as crazy as an
upside down fish tank.

Uh-huh. Not me.

Yesterday, during lunch break, I slapped together an inverted tank to put into my nanotank.

You see, upside down fish tank is only telling half the story, you need a regular side up tank as well to make them work. Have you ever done dishes, and pulled a glass out of the dishwater upside down? Notice how the glass stayed full right up until you pulled it out of the water? This fish tank works the same way. You put the upside down tank into another container of water, and suck all the air out of it.

Brilliantly simple, really. I saw it on YouTube.

Upside down aquarium
Upside down aquarium

This is what the upside down tank looks like right after I made it. Notice the two open areas on each end. This allows the fish to swim into it.

Inverted Aquarium in my nano-tank
Inverted aquarium in my nano-tank

Looking down the length of my nano-tank (nanotank means VERY small fish tank – mine’s 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 feet) you can see the inverted tank at the far end. It’s just a tad on the wide side, so didn’t want to go in on one side. I guess my home-made aquarium isn’t perfectly square. I cut the end pieces myself.

Upside down Aquarium in a regular Aquarium
See the 2 platys in the lower right?

Here is the inverted aquarium looking at it from how you would normally see it. There are two fish in it here, you can kinda pick them out against the busy backdrop.

My upside down tank in my nano tank on my 75 gallon aquarium
My upside down tank in my nano tank on my 75 gallon aquarium

The whole mess sits on top of my 75 gallon tank, and is actually functionally part of the 75 gallon tank.

You see, Nano-tanks can be VERY difficult to manage do to their extreme small size. They don’t have any thermal mass, the water can go bad in a matter of hours if something starts to decompose in them. Just fussy tanks all the way around. I cheat, I have a 75 gallon ‘buffer’ tank to act as a filter for my nano tank. Yeah, Yeah, I know. I cheat.

The inverted fish tank is just a prototype. I will probably only keep running it for a few weeks until I make the next version of it (read that as Months or Years).

Not quite as impressive as it sounds, is it?

What do you think?