As the temps start to stabilize, it’s getting closer to camping season. I’ve wanted to purchase a small camper but the logistics of licensing, storing, and towing are a little overwhelming (and expensive) right now. At the minimum, I’d have to upsize my existing vehicle for anything but the tiniest of teardrop trailers, and with the supply chain shortages, everything is very overpriced. The RV industry has had record sales these past few years, so I’m hoping to pick up a used unit for a decent price in a few years. Until then I’ll continue to “car camp” but this year is going to be a little different.
For the past several years I’ve been using an ALPS Mountaineering Phenom 3 Tent. It’s worked well and is pretty easy to set up and tear down. It also has enough room for myself and the gear I want to have handy at night. Several of the trips I’ve taken have been interrupted by rain and inclement weather and being stuck in a small tent while you wait out the rain can get a little old. Enter the Gazelle T4 Hub Tent (T4).
Coming in at $350 the T4 is a reasonably priced option for an 8-foot x 8-foot x 6.5-foot tall tent. It’s supposed to sleep 4 but like all tents, you should cut that in half if you want to be comfortable. The T4 will sleep 2 comfortably with extra room for all your gear. Unfortunately, the Footprint (the piece you put under the tent to protect it from punctures) is not available in the US, but I found a shop in Toronto that sells it. They don’t ship to the US but I’m hoping to be up that way next month, so I’ll be sure to pick one up if I can. Until then I purchased a tarp to use that should get me by.
The T4 is a self-supported tent that has a setup time of approximately 90-seconds (munis Rain Fly that’s supposed to take another 30-seconds). This not only makes it convenient but could come in handy if you get to camp and need to set up in the rain. The size also gives me enough room to sit in my Yeti camp chair and wait out a rainstorm in comfort.
I’m looking forward to using the T4 with my ExPed MegaMat during an upcoming trip and will do a follow-up post about how it worked out. According to Amazon, it should be delivered today!
I’ve lived in my current house since 2005 and prior to 2021, I had maybe 2-3 (very brief) power outages in that time. Since 2021 I’ve had about 6. None have lasted longer than 2 hours, but it seems to be more of an occurrence than ever before. During the last one, I stumbled upon a site that shows power outages across the U.S. (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico). PowerOutage.US lets you tap on the state and get details for each county. If you have family, or customers, in other areas it’s a good way to see what’s going on during storms, etc. I’m not quite ready to get a generator yet since I have a Jackery 500 that could keep the deep freezer running for a day or so, but the thought has crossed my mind.
And finally, mountain bile riding has come a LONG way since its popularity grew in the early 80s. The video below shows what it takes to win a World Wide competition these days. Watch out for the trees without safety pads, and try not to get motion sickness while viewing this. 🤮
Last week it was 73 and Sunny on Monday, and 45 and rain on Thursday. So I think the coats need to be kept handy for the next few weeks, especially with you see what’s coming up this week.
Just got back from a visit to see family in Cincinnatti and visited a new BBQ place called Pig Candy. They celebrated their 1st anniversary, and every order came with a complimentary bottle of their white BBQ sauce. I tried the Brisket special (topped with cheddar and caramelized onions) with macaroni salad as my side and a local brew to wash it all down. The brisket was tender and juicy, and the macaroni salad had a lot of diced vegetables and a lot of flavors. I would not hesitate to order this again. I’m looking forward to cracking open the white BBQ sauce and trying it on some grilled chicken this week.
No trip to Cincinnati is complete without a stop at Jungle Jim’s. There happens to be one on the way to visit family, so it’s an easy stop on the way home. I focused on some new Asian sauces this trip, and I may be reviewing them in upcoming blog posts.
And finally… The Wall Street Journal had a follow-up to the short video we shared last week regarding supply chain issues. This one is about 45-minutes long and goes into great depth on all the things that have to happen to get that USB charger from the manufacturer to your doorstep. It’s more complicated than you think!
It’s been nice being out of the house this week after isolating for a week with Covid. There are weekends when I don’t leave the house but an entire week was tough. On the plus side I was super productive working remotely and actually enjoyed working from the house this time as opposed to when I did in 2021 because everything was closed.
Microsoft FINALLY released their award-winning Flight Simulator last week on their Cloud Gaming platform and it’s even better than I expected.
I’m a huge Flight Sim fan and used to play for hours when I was younger. The latest version takes its imagery from Bing Maps and can replicate real-time weather conditions in your current location. So it’s about as real as you can get while staying firmly planted on the couch. The Bing maps are a little out of date but it’s pretty easy to visually navigate around town and fly to various landmarks in the area.
And finally… I was robbed last night. Robbed of an hour due to Daylight Saving Time (DST). I had JUST gotten used to the sun rising at 7 am and now we’re back to 8 am for a while. I miss the days when Indiana didn’t change times twice a year. We even had a special Time Zone on computers called “Indiana (East)”. It’s still there last time I checked even though it’s not used anymore.
That’s it for this week. I have a camping & disc golf trip scheduled in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be nice playing outside again.
Another ‘Fake Spring” in Indiana with temps in the 60’s followed by below-freezing nights in the same week. The first couple months of the year are my least favorite time of year, and spring can’t get here fast enough…
At the recommendation of a co-worker, I picked up a new mouse last week. The Logitech MX Master 3 is unlike any mouse I’ve used before. First off, it’s a big boy size-wise, but, weighing in at 4.9 oz (140 grams), it’s surprisingly light for its stature. It also has a LOT of buttons and wheels. Something it’s going to take a while to get used to, especially since you can customize EVERY control and wheel depending on the application you have in focus. The fit in hand is comfortable, and the USB-C rechargeability makes this an excellent replacement for the Apple Magic Mouse I’ve been using for more years than I can remember.
Priced at $100 the Logitech MX Master 3 is not cheap but the improved ergonomics and extreme customizability are worth it in my opinion. After using it for about 2 weeks I can’t imagine going back to a “normal” mouse again.
And finally… 60 Minutes (Australia Edition) aired a piece earlier this month about the Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappearance. A aerospace engineer claims he has determined, with great confidence, where the flight went down. He did this by analyzing disruptions in Ham Radio communications, of all things, during the flight. Let us know what you think after watching in the comments below.
The NFL season is over, and the sports were a little limited this past week. I’m not much of a basketball fan, so I was down to a few soccer games to follow. However, this weekend marks the return of NASCAR with the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon. NASCAR is one of those sports I like to turn on in the background while doing housework and getting ready for the week to come. Last season was pretty interesting with teams fighting for the championship, so I hope the 2022 season is the same. Speaking of racing, we’re about 100 days away from the Indianapolis 500!
As I spend more time working in the Lawrence area, I’m starting to find some good locally owned places to try out for lunch. Since it was open at lunchtime I tried a new lunch place last Friday. Triton Brewing Company and Bistro are located in the Historic Ft. Ben area of Lawrence, Indiana. They have limited hours (only open for Lunch Fri/Sat/Sun) and are usually closed when I’m working in the area. The Bistro inside the brewery has a nice variety on the menu (PDF). I was torn between the Fish and Chips and the Tenderloin but my server said if I was hungry I should try the Tenderloin.
As reported by The Tenderloin Guy back in April of 2021, this is an outstanding sandwich. The breading was well seasoned, and the meat was tender and juicy. This was a filling sandwich that I will be getting again soon. Service was prompt, and the atmosphere was nice and open. I could see spending some time working from here on a Friday afternoon.
And finally, this week, Simply Tech posted a video about Tim Cook. I found it quite interesting & I hope you do too!
I’ve been using my iPad Pro a lot lately to create these blog posts. It’s such a convenient tool to get online, and I really enjoy how it connects to my iPhone almost immediately for seamless connectivity. It’s almost like having a cellular modem built-in, without the extra expense. Paired with the Magic Keyboard this compact package can easily replace a laptop for most day-to-day tasks. Highly recommended if you spend a lot of time online and/or travel a lot.
I traveled to the small town of McCordsville last week to visit the Scarlet Lane Brewery and try the food at the Trax BBQ restaurant attached to it. Scarlet Lane is heavily focused on the Haloween theme and there are props and signs everywhere. I sampled a few of their Ales and was able to find a brew that was decent to sip on. I order it by number and don’t remember the name, I think it was a Hazy IPA. I then proceeded to grab some food. I had every intention of sampling the BBQ at Trax but their Burger of the Month caught my eye.
The Mushroom Swiss Smashburger was featured in February and included Double Blackened Patties, Swiss Cheese, Mushroom Demi-glace, Bacon, LTOP on a buttered brioche bun. Add a side of Garlic Parm Tater Tots and you have yourself a meal!
Trax has a lot of sauces to choose from. They have a sauce bar off to the side with little paper cups so you can find your favorite. I sampled about 6 of them, by dipping a tot in each one, and I think it was a tie between the vinegar-based and the mustard-based options. The two “hot” sauces lived up to their name and each had a nice bite that could easily build to an uncomfortable burn.
I hope to return in the next few weeks to actually try the BBQ and get some more of those sauces. Scarlet Lane has other locations in Broad Ripple, Indy, and Beech Grove, each with different food options. I particularly want to try the Gastropub in Indy.
And finally, Ars Technica had a report on the newly released US EV Infrastructure plan – Four fast chargers every 50 miles. The new plan begins to address the “Range Anxiety” concerns people have about Electric Vehicles (myself included). I like to do big road trips and get “off the grid”. The places I’ve been visiting have no charging facilities available and I’d be unable to visit with an EV. As the technology (and range) improves this could be a thing of the past but we’re years away from a solution. But as more and more automakers shift focus to EVs, the internal combustion engine, in my opinion, has a big target on its back.
We received our first big snowfall of the season last Thursday. Total accumulation in the Indy area was 6-8 inches. It was enough to shut the city down for the day. Although some people like it, I’m not a big fan of the snow shovel (or the sore back for days afterward). Luckily I found a neighborhood Boy Scout on Next Door offering his services to neighbors and asking people to pay what they think is fair. Glad to see some kids out there are willing to do a little manual labor to make some money.
When the weather turns cold, it’s fun to start a new show & really get into it. I’m not one to “binge” in the true sense of the word by watching non-stop all day long, but I can knock out a few episodes a night and finish a season pretty quickly.
My current Top-10 “binge-worthy” shows (in no particular order) are:
- The Sopranos
- Breaking Bad
- Better Call Saul
- The Americans
- Halt and Catch Fire
- Sex Ed
- Good Girls
- Ted Lasso
- Bonus: Rick & Morty
I’ve been working a few days a week in the Lawrence, Indiana area, and there’s a serious lack of decent food over there. After a lot of scanning the area on Google Maps, I happened upon a place called Fitzgerald’s Lunch House. My first meal was an online order because I was short on time. I ordered the Roast “Beast” with Mac & Cheese (self allowed cheat day). Everything at Fitzgeralds is scratch-made, and you can really tell. The quality is superb, and the portions are plentiful. It honestly was one of the best roast beef sandwiches I’ve had in a LONG time.
I returned the next week for more of the same, only to be told they were out of roast beef. I immediately spotted the Cubano on the menu and placed my order. The is the real deal, the sliced pork loin was the key, and it was pressed to perfection on the proper roll. After talking to one of the employees for a few, I found out they even make their own pickles. And I’m here to tell you the pickles shine on this sandwich.
I’ve since visited Fitzgerald’s Lunch House each week of the past month, and the quality and consistency have remained on point. This is a place I would eat at every couple of days if I worked in the area more.
That’s it for this week. I’ve been trying out some new places to eat & should have some more reviews coming soon! Stay warm out there.
Here we go, another New Year! I’m hoping 2022 is better than the last two years. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of time & plan to make the best of 2022 by getting back outside and doing the things I love to do.
I typically write these Blog posts on the couch each Sunday morning from notes I’ve made throughout the week. A few weeks ago I started visiting the Fishers Test Kitchen and Sunking Tap Room to write. It’s a nice change from sitting around the house & the food/beer that’s available is a big plus. The iPad Pro has been a real rock star when it comes to mobile computing. I love how it instatly connects to my iPhone when I’m away from home.
We lost Betty White this week at the age of 99. She was quite the actress who had an impressive resume. I remember first seeing her in the Mary Tyler Moore show when I was a kid. She stood up to racism in 1954 in a move that could have ended her career. She also had quite the following by several Millennials I know. She will be missed.
The day before Christmas I finally received my new Tidbyt digital display. I backed this project on Kickstarter earlier this year & had been watching its development progress throughout the year. It’s an Internet-connected LED display with unlimited customization from Apps. The initial set of Apps got me up and running and developers are building more all the time. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with!
And finally, if you’ve ever wondered how a Formula One car really works this is the video for you. It goes into some amazing detail and helps explain the inner workings as well as why they cost as much as they do.
I’ve been an Amazon Kindle user ever since V2 was released in 2009. That version had a keyboard and built-in cellular modem that allowed you to transfer data and download books anywhere, anytime.
The Kindle e-reader does one thing and, in my opinion, does it very well. It provides a distraction-free reading experience. OK, two things, you can carry a huge number of books with you at any time. This is handy when you want to read a couple of books at the same time, depending on mood and energy. It makes no noise, it has no pop-up messages, and it’s already ready to pick up where you left off in your last reading session.
I eventually upgraded to a newer version and then another. The low $100-125 price and ever-increasing screen resolutions and lighting options made the upgrades worth it. We lost the cellular modem years ago, but with WiFi being so accessible, it’s something you really don’t miss. I typically like to read in the evenings where it helps me unwind. On occasion, I can use my phone to finish a chapter or launch the Audible version of a book where it syncs with the text copy for easy switching between the two.
My last Paperwhite was starting to get a little sluggish, and I realized after 5-years of ownership I was no longer getting updates with some of the newer software features. After doing a little research, I found that I could trade my old unit in for a new one and get a 20% discount as well as a few dollars for the unit I was turning in.
The 2021 Kindle Paperwhite (as reviewed by Wired) is the best Kindle e-reader to date. The screen is larger, and the screen resolution looks like you’re reading a paper book. Backlight options include a warmth mode that tints the screen to ease eye fatigue at night. It’s all automatic based on the sunrise/sunset in your area. You don’t really notice the screen color until you turn it off.
Now that it’s getting cold out, and dark early, I’m spending a lot more time reading in the evening, and I’m really enjoying this upgrade.
I wrote about the Grammarly app in Week 42, and I’m happy to say after the 90-day initial trial, I renewed for another year. It’s been beneficial in my personal and professional life. You might have noticed some improvements in the blog posts too. I was missing some necessary punctuation in my writing. Some obvious (bad editing) and some not so obvious. They just released a new Desktop app for the Mac that allows it to work in ANY application. It was previously limited to its own app outside MS Office apps. Now it works right inside my email program and makes editing on the fly much smoother. At $150 a year, it’s not cheap but, if written communication is an important part of your life, it’s worth checking out to see if it can be helpful to you.
And finally… The limited series show “True Story” on Netflix was a surprise hit. Kevin Hart was excellent in his role, and the story moved very quickly through the seven episodes. Each episode is only 30-minutes, so it’s a pretty quick watch & easy to binge on a rainy day.
That’s it for thie week. Christmas is less than 2-weeks away! I should probably start shopping or something…
The Big 10 Football Championship was in Indianapolis this week, and we had a flood of visitors from Michigan and Iowa on Saturday. It wasn’t much of a game as Michigan smashed Iowa 42-3 but it’s always nice when the city can host such a big event.
I checked out the Guggman Haus brewery on the near west side Saturday afternoon. I was really impressed with the size and layout of the place. I thought it was just a house but they have a huge multi-room beer hall with a lot of TV’s for watching sports. Their Pilsner was quite tasty and they have a nice variety of German-inspired brews. I’m looking forward to returning to try out the food…
Red Notice on Netflix, staring Dwane Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot was a surprise hit. It’s a great action/adventure movie and worth the watch!
We made it up to Condado Tacos at Hamilton Town Center earlier this week, and it exceeded expectations. They have a huge variety of tacos, and the prices are very reasonable. It’s had lines outside the door since it opened, but we got lucky the night we decided to check it out. I drive by the downtown Indy location all the time but now that I know what it’s all about it might be time to add it to my lunch rotation.
And finally, “Jurassic Park but with a Cat” is the latest Youtube creation by Owl Kitty who’s creators use video editing magic to insert their black cat into famous movie scenes. The Behind the Scenes videos show you how they do it and how much work it takes.