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Monthly Archives: January 2013

eBay'ing from China: Does it work?

I like to play with electronics, so I order a lot of electronic parts. For a long time, new items have been for sale on eBay for amazing prices, but the seller is in China. I avoided those deals, afraid that neither the seller nor the shipping could be trusted. But when I needed a […]

What a January!

The stream below the abbey I like wild weather, and around here we’ve had our share of it this January. Yesterday we were under four watches — a flash flood watch, a severe wind watch, a severe thunderstorm watch, and then just after nightfall a tornado watch. When the front hit, it was brief but […]

Idiots in charge

Raleigh News & Observer: Pat McCrory, newly elected governor of North Carolina, dedicated corporate servant You would think, wouldn’t you, that if an anti-education red state governor wanted to say something stupid like the quote below about North Carolina’s university system, he’d first have one of his aides do a little fact-checking. Here’s the quote […]

How much coal to power our houses?

Duke Power’s Belews Creek Steam Station, Belews Creek, North Carolina My post yesterday was about how many kilowatt hours of electricity the abbey uses on a cold winter day. Though I use about half as much energy as the average American, there are no grounds for boasting. When that energy use is translated into pounds […]

Smart meters, and the cost of staying warm

The green bars show my daily electricity usage for January in kilowatt hours. Below: a smart meter. A year or two ago, my electric company — a regional electric coop named Energy United — installed “smart meters.” The purpose of these meters is to save the power company money, because no one has to be […]

Broiled tomatoes

Broiled tomato. Click on photo for larger version. What are winter tomatoes good for? Not much. But they are pretty good for one thing: broiling. The unnatural firmness of winter tomatoes actually becomes something of a virtue when the tomato is broiled, because the tomato holds up under the broiler and doesn’t collapse into a […]

Scotch broth (sort of)

Scotch broth. Click on image for larger version. The best soup I ever had was a bowl of Scotch broth. That was in Edinburgh, in a second-floor restaurant where the waitress called me honey just like they do here. Like all home cooking, there is no one way to make Scotch broth, and it varies […]

Food photography at the abbey

I’m always looking to improve my photography, including my food photography. A new (actually used off eBay) camera a while back — a Nikon D1X — was a big step. I recently got a lighting kit for interior photography and food photography. If you ever watched a professional photo shoot for food photos that are […]

Why I'll leave the chickens indoors this morning

Raptors are common here. Though usually they’re soaring overhead rather than perched in the trees facing the abbey. I’ll let the chickens out later this morning, when I’m sure the coast is clear. Update: A friend on Facebook identifies this as a sharp shinned/Cooper’s hawk and says that they don’t normally go after chickens. Judging […]

BBC World Service on your phone

It was a sad day when, on July 1, 2001, the BBC World Service ended its shortwave broadcasts to North America. You can still get it if you want to pay for satellite radio (no way), and some public radio stations carry bits of the BBC’s news. To help fill the gap, the BBC makes […]