High Tech Sweet Potatoes

I started experimenting with my Instant Pot. I got it on sale as a possible companion or replacement for my rice cooker and my pressure cooker.

This Instant Pot has wifi which links to my Android app. I can monitor my cooking and get notifications as the process continues.

The dietician said sweet potatoes were good for me. So a COSTCO trip netted me a 10 pound bag!

I took 2 potatoes, washed them, put the trivet in the pot and added a bit of water (enough but not so much to touch the potatoes).

I set it for steam and 18 minutes.

When it was done I let the thing cool without releasing steam.

Both potatoes were cooked and after a bit of butter and salt, disappeared quickly. I can imagine the rest of the sweet potatoes will disappear quickly. Their skin was more like boiled potatoes and not crunchy like baked, but think of all the electric I saved not using the oven.

The only things I will do differently next time is to remove the little nub where the stem grew. Also I need to lift the trivet to get the potatoes out. The potatoes were so soft they kinda fell apart trying to remove them with a fork.

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I love Tech Toys

I love tech toys and I saw a cheap remote controller which I could use for many tasks. It has a 1″ by 1″ cox, the relay board and a 4-button remote control. It works off 12 VDC and has normally-open and normally-closed terminals. It also allows for intermittent, while button is pressed, and delayed operations.

Recently a neighbor called with a problem. His garage door opener was broken and the remotes didn’t work. The repair guy brought a new remote but it would not link up. A new board for the system was over $100 and then there was some installation cost. It would almost pay to buy a whole new unit.

I asked the most important question and got the right answer. “Does the button on the wall work as it should?” and the answer was yes.

When you push the button on the wall, usually a press to open and a press to close, it shorts two terminals at the door control board. If you can simulate a short across those two terminals, the door will operate. Instead of a new board replacement, my relay came to the rescue and it was only about $12-$15 for everything.

I verified the button worked and then got the step ladder. I traced the wires from the switch to the opener and connected the normally-open and the common relay output across the terminals. I cut the end off a 12 VDC little adapter I had and powered up the unit. After setting the left-hand button to have an intermittent function I tested things out.

When I pressed the button the door opened. When I pressed it again, the door closed. PROBLEM SOLVED!

To avoid any issues, I also configured the other big button to the same code so both of them do the same thing. That is just in case one button gets broken, I don’t get a call back.

This particular unit can store up to 20 similar fob codes so could be used by employees. The company also makes multiple relay units that can control 4 or was it 5 different things like lights and doors and so on. Each device would need to have a wire brought to the relay board, and it does appear the contacts can handle 120 volts AC.

This is a photo of one of the single relay boards. The coiled thing is a wire used an an antenna which can be extended outside the box for more distance. The range of the unit is 30 to 100 feet in open terrain.

That black V-shaped plastic thing is a cover which slides up and down to protect against accidental pushing of the buttons. The remote also has small screws which can be used to probably remove the back to replace a battery.

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News From The Front (so to speak)

When they went on sale, I broke down and got a DNA test and the results were posted this morning.

Years ago my Mom and I created a family tree and made updates to it. It went back a few generations, mostly on my Moms side. Meanwhile my cousin also did her family genealogy and it went back quite a bit further, however it generally covered my Dads side of the family.

The DNA results of ethnicity are as we expected, English, Welsh, German and perhaps French. I had uploaded what family tree I had before but it had not linked with my cousins tree. I called her.

While we chatted, she explained parts of the tree she had and then mentioned a few of the relatives. Her searches had gone back to at least the 1600’s and then she told me about one relative.

You always think that there might be a King or Queen or famous person in your lineage, but there may be nothing exciting. Then again…

So on my Grandmothers side going back to the 1700’s, part of the family living in Connecticut.

{Condensed from Wikipedia}

William Williams (yes, they loved him so much they named him twice 🙂 was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, the son of a minister, Solomon Williams, and Mary Porter. He studied theology and achieved law school from Harvard in 1751. He continued preparing for the ministry for a year, but then joined the militia to fight in the French and Indian War. After the war, he opened a store in Lebanon, which he called The Williams Inc.

On February 14, 1771, and almost 40 he married Mary Trumbull, age 25. She was daughter of Jonathan Trumbull, Royal Governor, and an American politician who served as the second speaker at the United States House of Representatives.

{It keeps getting more interesting}

Williams was very active in the protests that preceded the American Revolution. Williams was a member of the Sons of Liberty and later served on Connecticut’s Committee of Correspondence and Council of Safety. Williams was a staunch supporter of the non-importation agreements implemented in 1769 to oppose the Townshend Duties and the occupation of Boston by British Regulars. Williams was disappointed when merchants began disregarding the non-importation agreements after the repeal of the Townshend Duties, save for the tax on tea, and he never trusted the intentions of more established merchants, most notably Silas Deane.

On July 1, 1774, one month after the enactment of the Coercive Acts to punish Boston, Williams pseudonymously published an address “To the King” from “America” in the Connecticut Gazette. It was an angry satire.

{And then the kicker}

Williams was elected to the Continental Congress on July 11, 1776, the day Connecticut received official word of the independence vote of July 2, to replace Oliver Wolcott. Though he arrived at Congress on July 28, much too late to vote for the Declaration of Independence, he did sign the formal copy as a representative of Connecticut.

{His name appears along with 55 others on the bottom of the document}

I have to say that I was surprised. I am related to the second Speaker of the U.S. House and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. There may be more exciting relatives, but this was certainly exciting enough!

 

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Near New Years

I have already been to two Christmas parties and there is a New Years Day party to go.

I took the dogs for a walk this morning and didn’t use the training collars. While they went to the spot they like, I looked at a news item on my cellphone. I swear I did not look away for more than a minute or two but when I looked up, the dogs were gone. I whistled quietly and called them but they did not come. It was not yet 7am so I try not to make too much noise as sound carries far in rural Hawaii.

I drove up and back and they did not come when they heard the truck, which they usually do. I decided it was late enough to run the noisy ATV but it had a flat tire. I filled it but it went flat again. Sigh!

 

Finally O’Lena came back and had a bone in her mouth. I don’t know if there is a dead animal nearby or she found a neighbors dogs bone, but I took it from here and put her in the fenced run. Koa came back perhaps 15 minutes later. Both dogs are on my naughty list.

I went to town this evening and shopped for some food and soda. I also purchased a few more parts for my pending solar panel installation.

I have some news that will deserve a new posting.

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We Created A Land

We have created a land of people who feel entitled. Keep in mind that because they FEEL it is so, don’t always make it so.

They feel that just because something offends them, that thing is wrong.

They feel that just because they don’t understand the historical importance of an item, that no one else does and it should be removed. We don’t keep some things as a monument to praise, but sometimes keep these as a reminder of what has happened; Auschwitz and a Civil War Battlefield are examples.

They feel it is just to take things from those who have and give them to those who have not whether WE thing that is right or not, does not matter.

They feel that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one, even if those many didn’t work for it.

Just because YOU don’t celebrate a specific holiday or day of remembrance doesn’t mean others should be stopped from doing it. We call that Freedom!

Our country was built on the idea that you have a right to the pursuit of happiness. It does not guarantee happiness.

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The Beginning Of The End

Quite a few years ago I got involved with Voice Over IP (VOIP) whereby telephone calls are made over the Internet at considerable savings. Long distance was expensive and overseas calls were astronomical. In fact, in the olden days you asked to Operator to place your call and then you waited and waited.

As calls became cheaper and the Internet grew, it was and is possible to be on a call overseas for an hour and pay less than a cheap candy bad for the call. My calls to London are between 1/2 cent and a penny a minute. It can be cheaper to call overseas than across town.

So CallCentric, a VOIP provider used to offer a free New York City inbound telephone number which you could direct to voicemail, their built-in fax receiver, a forwarded phone number like your cell or to a physical adapter with phone attached. If you told them you were in the U.S. you had to pay a fee for 911 service, but many of us bypassed that requirement by saying that we were not in the U.S. especially if all calls went to voicemail and we had no device to make outbound calls anyway. You had to use the number a minute or so a month to keep it. I had my number published in my domain registrations so all spammer/telemarketers would go to voicemail.

CallCentric has now decided to stop this free service and I can keep everything the same if I pay $1 a month. This is not worth it to me, so I will drop that number. However, I can still keep the free account and use another free number offered to me. That is an INUM. INUM is  free international number which works the same way as the free New York City one did and in reality many VOIP providers vend them if you ask. Some providers allow you to call INUMs for free, so you can actually have free calling inward from around the world. The neat thing about an INUM is that it has as many digits in it as there are Starbucks (just kidding). My INUMs have 15 digits in them and start with the country code location of +883 5100. So I can just change all domain registrations to this valid international number, knowing that spammers have no idea how they work, but if someone does call it, the calls will go to voicemail.

So if I wanted to pay for a U.S. inboiund phone number, they cost me 40 cents to buy and 80 cents a month to keep (cheaper in the long run than Callcentrics free to buy and $1 a month to keep).

The final change in free service is my loss of 7 or so free inbound telephone numbers in the U.K.. A guy created a free service and offered up to 10 free inbound numbers and I took advantage of them. I had one in London, Torquay, one up in Scotland, another in Ireland and yes, one in Sherwood Forest. He probably made a small fee from calls to those numbers but finally decided to stop the service. People could port the numbers to a VOIP provider but there would have been a cost involved. Even though his service stopped, calls continued to pass through and I just checked and my numbers all seem to have finally stopped working. I can’t really complain because I did get 10 years of free service, not that I really used it much. One plus was that when a friend and his wife traveled to London, he called my London number which was answered by my free GoogleVoice service and allowed him to make calls all over the U.S. for free from London.

I still have my free GoogleVoice numbers and use them for some outbound and inbound calls. I got one in Florida so that my Mom could call a local number and reach me in Hawaii. She and I paid nothing for the call or service. While Google still offers this free phone service (and Amazon Echo products use a similar free calling service) I still have cases where I pay to call people. I guess I can afford a few pennies a call.

If you want to learn a bit about these services, go to http://http://voip.planet-aloha.com/

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Lack of Progress

I was hoping that by now I would have my solar panels up and running. However, with some help it should only take a few days to get it running. I have all the solar equipment and a couple of pieces of electrical equipment to attach it to the breaker panel. I also have a heave wire that will carry electricity to the electrical panel. It is actually fairly high capacity and made for outdoors but I will enclose it in conduit anyway.

The part missing is the best way to mount the panels near the ground and allow adjusting them to 3 different angles. That will allow me to maximize power output as the sun moves during the seasons.

I am hoping the panels will offset quite a bit of my electricity usage, thus dropping my bill.

In the meantime, my neighbor Garys’ property is being cleared which is needed for his lease renewal. From here on out his farm should be productive. I took my tractor and mower over there to help and seem to have lost my main set of keys somewhere. They include a couple of post office keys and so on. Luckily I have a duplicate of most of them. With a less than enthusiastic will, I purchased a metal detector and will look over my trip to find them. The detector could be used on our few beaches but most of the rest of the island is generally rock and thus not that great to prospect. The odd coincidence is that I am watching a TV series called “The Curse of Oak Island” where they are using metal detectors looking for valuables!

I also have some work to do for my farm lease renewal.

I have to finish planting the areas where trees have died or not been planted. In all those areas there are already holes in the ground, however there may be a dead tree in the hole or rocks and dirt. Luckily they were dug on a grid and therefor easy to locate.

For coffee I have to grow trees. I’ll grow them at little cost, rather than pay $15 or so for a mature, ready to plant tree. I also want to plant more fruit trees and have a few other types not yet planted.

Some of my trees dies due to irrigation issues. The way the catchment tanks and pump were designed, the pump sucked up some debris which destroyed the pumps impeller. It was not an easy fix and a replacement pump will cost $1,000.

As the rows of trees have been weed whacked and cut with the tractor and mower. There is an underground 2″ plastic pipe that runs up the property. Then at various zones it doubles back down and off that second run there are stanchions every row. Attached to those are a plastic valve and then a drip line that goes down the rows to irrigate the trees. There are drip holes something like every foot and that is fine for the coffee. When the system was engineered I was thinking of being completely planted in coffee, where the trees are every 5 feet down the row. The fruit trees are 20 feet apart and thus don’t need emitters every foot. A better way would be to make a ring around each fruit tree with emitters but connect them with solid tubing between the trees to eliminate watering where there are no trees.

I have to replace the pump, divert water into the bottom tank and replace any broken drip lines.

The timeline would be to start growing trees first as they will take a couple years. That will require a simple greenhouse or an agreement with another farm to grow some for me.

Then I need to fix the irrigation line and when done, and when the trees are ready, have people clear out the holes so I can plant.

Meanwhile, today I ordered a bit of technology on Cyber Monday, had dinner with some visiting friends and fixed a neighbors electronic gate.

So while it may sound as though I have been busy, I feel I have not been very productive of late.

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Milestones

Sometimes milestones are exciting and sometimes not so much so.

I am awaiting a property inspection for my farm and I fear it will not go smoothly. With the hurricanes and massive rain on top of not having pickers and people available to manage cleanup on the farm, it has been in somewhat of a disrepair. I have hired workers to help but it is still a bit rough. I have an agreement for some guys to remove dead trees and clean out holes for planting but it has not happened yet. I was hoping to get this started before the inspection.

My farm is a leasehold and the lessor performs periodic inspections to ensure the farm is productive and reasonable well kept up. My lease is up and although it is not in jeopardy, they will probably hold off issuing the new lease for a while. The new lease will be for 30 or so years and takes a bit of worry off my back. Although complying with the lease restrictions is a hassle at times, it is less intrusive than many people have on the mainland with neighborhood associations and covenants.

Once the inspection is complete I can start installing my solar panels. I am holding off on that so I can spend all my free time getting the farm ready for inspection.

For many years I have had an account with Woot (a deal a day) site. Then Amazon bought them a number of years ago. Before the sale I had a few times I wanted to buy something and was stopped because of where I live. Now I find nothing I want to buy can be shipped to Hawaii. I just cancelled delivery of their newsletter. You may find items on Woot.Com which are fun and/or cheap, but I will stop looking because it appears, they don’t want me to have any more.

I am transitioning away from my Motorola cellphone. Yes, it was cheap but usable, however it also had its’ share of problems. The first one I bought had ‘ghost keyboard’ issues. That is, it would start opening screens, closing screens, dialing people, etc. I returned it to Costco and got another. It too developed the same problem, but I found if I turned down the screen brightness the problem stopped. That phone ended up in the Pacific due to my standing in the wrong spot at the wrong time. I found a replacement on Amazon that was cheaper as long as I put up with an advertisement on the lock screen. I got that deal and never looked at the screen 🙂 Still, all told those two phones I bought cost a total of about $230, far less than other more expensive phones which might cost $300+ each. Now a friend has loaned me a Galaxy Note 5 but I will have to stop by Costco and get a new SIM as my old one doesn’t fit. This phone is limited in storage but will do until I decide which phone to get next.

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Another Year

Another year has passed and I’m still enjoying Hawaii!

I see the occasional post now of people on the mainland fighting cold weather and snow flurries and ice have started. I feel your pain but like to remind you that I don’t have those worries. Normal temps here go from 65 to 85.

I am getting my share of aches and pains though. My hip hurts when I weed whack because I tend to swing the the thing back and forth to cut through heavy weeds. My wrist hurts today because yesterday I was yanking vines away from some of the coffee trees.

I am trying to get the farm looking better because I have a lease-hold inspection coming. They tell you a few days before the month they will inspect, so unless you contact them quickly, you get anywhere from a few days to a month to prepare. I have some dead coffee trees I want to replace and have some areas where certain fruit trees did not do well and will be planting something else there; probably starting with some finger limes.

I have 20 solar panels I’ll be installing soon. They will be configured to replace as much of the daytime usage as they can without sending any excess power back to the utility. I won’t get paid for any excess power, however I also will not need a contract with the utility for net metering, etc. My 2Kw system cost $3,100 and with a couple hundred dollars of mounting materials, I’ll have them up and running with little hassles. I’ll be mounting them near the ground as I have room for them there without any obstructions.

I am still managing a number of websites for neighbors, friends and relatives. I help out on occasion at another farm; generally drinking coffee and giving my opinion of how things should work. Sometimes I am right and sometimes I’m wrong. They seem to only remember the suggestions that worked 🙂

I am still suggesting people install Voice Over IP (VOIP) to have cheaper phone service at home, however many people just rely upon cellphones.

It is 1:30am at the moment. I went to bed early and then woke up at midnight. I’ll be heading back to bed soon as the alarm is set for 5am. It seems the dogs like an early morning walk.

My day today looks like this: Up at 5am and take the dogs out. Clean out the accumulated items from the truck. I have been working on a few projects lately and taking items around in the truck.

At 7am I’ll be driving to Holualoa to pick up a young worker who will be doing some weed whacking for me today. Meanwhile I’ll be on the tractor re-mowing areas that look crappy (I like to have it looking nice for my inspection). This land inspection will be used as the basis for renewing my lease for 30+ years.

I have been cleaning out the storage under the house and will need to fix a few things in the downstairs bathroom. This will give the worker a bathroom without having to interact with the dogs who will be inside during the farm work.

I need to recharge the car battery I mounted on the ARV for my sprayer and need to finish spraying areas of the farm today before the rain.

A neighbor is having garage door issues and I’ll go by and see if I can fix it. I don’t know if it is the electronic opener control I recently fixed or a physical issue.

Since my friends farm is on the way, I’ll pick up the trash bags and put them in the truck bed.

I’ll need to go into Captain Cook at lunchtime and will take the worker with me. He probably won’t have lunch with him. I’ll stop by the post office and get the mail. I have a new pillowcase arriving. It was one of those free-just-pay-shipping deals and supposed to be pretty good. My female Lab, Olena, has a tendency of licking pillows and I hope this may help stop her.

Somewhere around 4 or 5pm I’ll take the worker back to Holualoa. On the way will be a stop at the transfer station to drop off the trash.

One of the workers there has a moped whose lights went out. I offered to bring my tester and see if it is just a bulb or fuse.

The workers are going to be having a get-together after coffee pulping and I may attend. There will be a pool 🙂

Sometime later I’ll head further north into Kailua-Kona itself. Things there have slowed a bit now once the Ironman race was over and people started to leave the island.

My main reason for hitting town before midnight is that I get a free meal at Denny’s for my birthday. I try never to pass up a free meal!

So that is my schedule for this birthday. As you can see, I have a pretty easy day, unlike most days!

 

 

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Weathering The Storm

Hawaii’s hurricane season is June to November.
 
While we have had hurricanes nearby, oftentimes they miss us (although Lane and Iniki were especially bad). Still, people wonder how we ‘weather’ the storm (pun intended).
 
We are sub-tropical meaning that out weather is pretty much the same all year ’round. Near the ocean it is often 70 and night and 85 during the day but ‘plummets’ to 65 at night and 80 during the day in winter. When you hear someone from Hawaii talk about how it is freezing, it is probably in the 60’s! (We do have actual freezing and blizzards which can happen anytime during the year, but that is at the 14,000 foot elevation).
 
Because most of our supplies are brought here by boat from the mainland, we do have a tendency of stocking up, not just for hurricanes but for dock strikes here or on the mainland.
 
Electricity goes out on occasion because all of it is created on the islands and we cannot run a big power line to the mainland. We burn fuel oil, use wind water and Geo-thermal and solar.
 
Because the weather is warm, we do a lot of cooking outdoors. Many people have a grill or barbecue. In a pinch we could dig a hole and create an imu to cook in. Many of us have gardens, orchards and the like and easily can trade with neighbors. When I moved here I was often invited to weddings, funerals, graduations and holidays. When I wondered why, since many times I didn’t know the people, I was told ‘Because you are single and there will be food!’.
 
With reasonable weather, available food and friends, we weather the storms quite well.
 
We know that if we have to, we can power our cellphones in the car, use our tractors to clear the driveway or roads and do what we have to.
 
It is difficult for us to evacuate so we have to prepare and keep our whits about us.
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