Pantry Pizza

Tonight, I just felt in the mood for Pizza. It’s raining out, my wife has the Trucklet, and I just felt like pizza.

I call tonight’s creation Pantry Pizza, well, because, I got it out of the pantry. Kinda an odd place to keep a pizza I know, but, it is what it is.
Lot’s of good stuff in this pizza! Whole wheat flour, olives, mushrooms, and… could it be… Secret Ingredient #3? Yes! Corned Beef! I coulda made BBQ Chicken Pantry Pizza, or Pepporoni Pantry Pizza, or Beef Summer Sausage Pantry Pizza or Genoa Salami Pantry Pizza or even Dried Beef Pantry Pizza (not doing Tuna Fish Pantry Pizza, sorry), but tonight I went with the Corned Beef. A most excellent choice!

I even had bell peppers on this pizza! I put some dehydrated bell peppers in a bowl of warm water to re-hydrate. I was quite impressed with them after I fried them up a little bit.

I sauteed most of the onions, putting some raw ones right in the sauce for a bit of variety. I love garlic, so it got browned a bit in my cast iron pan. (actually, it’s the lid to my dutch oven, but don’t tell it that, you would break it’s little cast iron heart!)

Lots of good stuff in the sauce. It turned out very good, if a bit acidic. I added more sugar then this to it, but it ended up a tad sweet but acidic. Any suggestions on de-acidifying tomatoes from a can?

Hmm… Corned Beef! Mushrooms and bell peppers too!!!

The pizza crust looks yummy, doesn’t it? The extra got tossed in the freezer for another day. The dough is half “white wheat” flour and half unbleached all purpose flour. I think I am a big fan of this white-wheat flour.

The toppings look all nice and tastey, don’t they?

Don’t let my wife tell you I make a mess in the kitchen, it is simply true! My cheese exploded all over the counter and floor. I think this was my penance for using something from the fridge and not the pantry. There aren’t many pantry-stable cheeses I would want to eat. I do wish I had a good root cellar, or cheese aging cave, but that’s for a different reality – one where I am not making pantry pizza, so it’s kinda defeating the purpose anyhow.

That crust looks pretty good after being blind baked, doesn’t it? I don’t have a batch of blind baking beans (they ended up in a neck hot-pad), so it’s kinda bubbly in the middle. I have a pizza stone I just leave in the oven all the time, so this got baked off on the stone.

That’s some darn good looking sauce! The chunks make it a bit difficult to swirl around evenly, but the taste more then makes up for it!

Full toppings, ready for some cheese!

And the final product! 1 perfect pantry pizza! 2 out of 2 people said it’s the best pizza they had all day. One person even said it’s good pizza even though they don’t like pizza.

Anybody want the leftovers? It’s more then I can eat!

Stolen GPS

Last night my GPS was stolen out of my trucklet.

Entirely my fault to!
I had picked up a few essentials at WalMart, unlocked all the doors and put them in the back seat. I was waiting on a guy to get home so I could pick up an Oscar fish from FreeCycle. I called him, still at work, so I decided to wander around Walmart to kill some time until he got off work.
I locked my door how I always do. The lock touches my knuckle when I open the door, so I just lock it as I push the door open. Quick, Easy, and I always lock the door when I get out of my vehicle. The trucklet locks all the doors every time you drive it, so all is good in the world. Except, I had unlocked all doors since I had last driven. DOH!
Somebody musta tried the passenger side door and grabbed my GPS. Nothing else. Not the Nokia 770, bluetooth headsets, power inverter, winter coat with radio scanner, FM power transmitter, etc. Just the GPS.
I called the cops, filed a report. We where hoping that Walmart security camera got it on film. Nope.
I went home to get the serial number so they could check with craigslist & pawnshops.
You know how I am a packrat. I keep everything. Boxes included. Wouldn’t you know, I tossed the box a month ago? I kept all the paperwork, expecting the serial number and such to be on the warranty card, etc. No card, no serial number. How frustrating.
There could be several lessons learned here:
  • Don’t leave GPS out in plain site
  • Always lock all the doors and not just mine
  • Never, ever throw anything away. Ever. I always seem to need it a month later.
  • Keep a google spreadsheet document with all the serial numbers of all the electronics I have.

So, I have a problem and I intend to fix it.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the GPS could tell me where it is.
Wouldn’t it be cool if I could take my own photo of the theif?

This got me to thinking…

I’ve been wanting to build a security system for my trucklet ever since the ‘OEM’ unit was installed in mine. It royaly sucks!

I haven’t done it because it would be pretty spendy – I really want a cell based internet connection for it so I can ask the truck where it is, it can tell me where it is, and send me photos of who’s driving it, etc. I can’t justify $50 a month for a internet connection even if I can use google maps on the fly on a computer I would replace the stereo with.

A little thinking ‘outside’ the box, I think I found my solution. It’s 2 peices, but I didn’t find anybody that has put them together like I want to.

An Eye-Fi Pro is an SDHC memory card with a built wi-fi card. It will take photos that are saved to it, geocode them, and upload them. How cool is that? You don’t have to stick the card into the computer to get your photos.
For $15 a year, it will connect to a paid, public wifi connections including the ones at McDonalds. My data-plan woes are now addressed, $15 a year is very reasonable!

The other half is the camera. A search revealed the following.

A Defender STEALTH1 Covert Security DVR w/ Hidden Surveillance Camera. It is a motion detector with a built in camera. It can take photos and video which it saves the the memory card.

The freaking awesomeness comes when you combine the two together. You now have a motion detection surveillance camera that automatically uploads photos to a place where you can see them when your away from home. No wires to run half way across the house, just plug it into the nearest power outlet. It can email, text, or even twitter you when it’s triggered. It runs for 17 hours on battery if the power goes out. Put your modem and router on a battery back up, and your set!

How sweet is that?

I got to thinking, all the motion detector is, is a hunter’s trail camera in a house-friendly looking enclosure.

I can get one of these for the trucklet instead. I was going to shell the camera unit out and install it into the dash anyhow, so why not use a cheaper camera that does the same thing?

So, for around $260 I can either build a really slick house security camera or one that I can cut into the dash of my trucklet that works anywhere.



  • Nice looking ‘normal’ security motion sensor.
  • Automatic uploading of photos/video using home network.
  • Ability to view photos even if home computer or security camera itself is stolen!
  • Notification of events via email, text, twitter.



  • Less expensive camera that I can take apart to install into vehicle
  • Automatic uploading of photos/video using home network or any of 10,000 public wifi accesspoints.
  • Geocoding of photos.
  • Ability to view photos even if they steal the vehicle – they just need to slowly drive/park near a wifi access point.
  • Notification of events via email, text, twitter.

Now, to find a few extra hundred dollars, because I need a GPS, a couple of motion camera, and a couple of memory cards….

Homemade Aqaurium Weir Siphon Overflow Box

First off, what is the world is an aquarium weir siphon overflow box?

Well, everyone knows what an aquarium is, and that I like my fish tanks!
Most people are familiar with a siphon – a hose that allows you to drain water out of a container over the side of the container.
A weir is basically a long dam where the water overflows for the full length of the dam.
An overflow box is a type of aquarium filter.

So, basically, I am making a dam, that siphons water out of a fish tank.
The neat thing about doing it this way, is that the siphon won’t ‘break’ when the water level gets too low, as the weir (or dam) will hold the siphon. Quite a clever setup actually. I wish I had thought of it.
I read about this probably well over a year ago. I did a quick search, and found the same site!

So, with a quick look over their instructions, I completely disregarded them as to measurements, and made up my own. I just wanted the concept.

So, after much scientific analysis, here are my measurements. Yeah, Yeah, I mocked it up in cardboard. I did actually take a measurement! I measured the inside of my 4″x4″x4′ nano tank. The idea is that I will make a ‘stream’ fish tank like nobody else has!

So, from the 1 measurement, I made it square, as an overflow box MUST be BOX shaped, or it’s an overflow rectangle, and, well, we just can’t have that. I started cutting away at my plastic.

This is a high-precision operation I run hear. Silicone my tolerances! I taped the two sides together, and cut them with a coping saw.

After many long, excruciating seconds calculating the flow rate for the whole contraption, I just held the damn thing up to the tank and eyeballed how high I wanted the water to be in the tank and made the weir element that tall.

Here you can see the start of the inside of the siphon element. You can start to see the difficulties assembly will incur, due to the various bits and pieces getting in the way of sealing the seams. It can really only be assembled from the inside out and be able to be sealed. (high tolerances, remember?)

This is what the completed unit would look like. It’s just taped together here, waiting to be cut apart and glued together.

This is what it looks like hanging on the side of the tank. Pretty cool looking, I think. I need to add the outflow pipes yet. But you can get the idea. The water will overflow the weir on the right side, inside the aquarium. The water will be siphoned over to the left side, where it will overflow the second weir into the outflow box.

Remember those high tolerances. Yeah, you know, measure twice, cut once. Don’t let the ruler slide around as you cut. I have a leak. I turned the thing upside down, and filled the siphon area to see if it will hold water. Nope, my work ‘sucks’ air. No worry. 100% Aquarium silicone to seal up the leak. **grin**

Biting the hand that feeds you

Or, My trip to the Emergency Room (ER).

This morning at 5:30 or so I am awoke to Brother exchanging words with another tomcat outside my bedroom window. Well, after a few moments of listening to their threats to each other, I roll over to rap on the window to chase the other cat off my window sill so I can get some sleep.

This is where things get interesting.

Brother thought that the tom outside had a compatriot inside who was jumping him. So, he did what any self respecting cat would do, defend himself. Unfortunately for me, this ambush was my hand.

So, quicker then a flash, I have an orange tomcat attached to my arm at the wrist. He quickly realizes his mistake and lets go – while I am still reacting and pulling my arm away. So, he lands next to Sister. Well, this is round 2. Luckily that only lasts a second, and it looks like I am the only one who got any serious damage.

So, off to the bathroom I go to get this cleaned out. No glasses, lots of blood. probably a good thing. Wash wash wash. Brother comes in, crying – like he is saying “I am sorry”.

Now to bandage it up. I go to the kitchen, grab the first aid kit out of the laptop bag, and get to work. Still no glasses. I notice my video camera, so I start recording.

So, I know cat bites have this nasty tendency of getting infected. So I know I need to go get it looked at, if not just for some antibiotics.

So, I get it all bandaged up, and go back to bed. I am not messing with going to the doctors at 6am in the morning.

So, about 11am I give my local buddy Jason a call, does he know of any open clinics that are local. No, but a look at the phone book, he gives me some phone numbers. I call them up, nobody is open.

So, I call the number on my insurance card. Rhode Island. I get a couple of places from that person – poor gal, had herself the hiccups. When she read me the number, I kept mis-writing it because she kept interrupting herself. I would read it back with the hiccups included. We had a good laugh.

I call the numbers. It’s for the ER. Great, no other choices.

So, off I go. I know I need the cat bite looked after, but man do I feel silly going to the emergency room for it.

So, I get checked in, all that good stuff. The doc takes a look at it. Gonna need X-Rays. “Huh?” Evidently, the cat’s teeth can flake or break off, and leave a small piece which will get very infected.

Off to X-Ray. I have to ride in a wheel chair. I ask for a copy. She gave me a CDROM, but it’s blank. Darn it, just my luck. Sorry, no pictures of my insides for you.

I got a tetanus shot. They clean everything off real well, and apply antiseptic. Wrap it up. Give me a prescription for Augmentin, which is amoxicillin, and sent me on my way.

A few things I learned today.
1) Don’t scare Brother, he reacts badly.
2) 6 hours is too long to wait to see a doctor for a cat bite.
3) Cat bites are 80% likely to become infected.
4) Dog bites are 30% likely to become infected.
5) Human bites are even worse then cat bites.
6) I did a good job doing first aid on myself. It didn’t look pretty, but it was the exact same thing the ER did.
7) I still have a lot to learn about video editing. I am trying to use Blender and MediaCoder to get the job done, and it’s just frustrating me so far.

Missing Mirror

Don’t you just hate it when a large, parked semi trailer jumps out and bites your truck?
Last week (man, has it been that long ago already?) I was looking left and turning right, and drove right into the trailer. I blew the mirror right off the truck. Bummer! Luckily I didn’t do any other damage to the truck.

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