Sous Vide Cooler Upgrade

Sits lower uses less water

I have been pretty happy with my sous vide cooler upgrade. I cut a new notch another inch deeper to save water.

I also changed the lid to accommodate the new position.

The immersion cooker now sits about 1/2” – 3/4” above the bottom. I should have checked this number with the manufacturer. I added a new cut for science. It’s not practical in any way except for the pictures I provide you gentle reader.

New deeper cut to save water.

Next steps – drain plug.

Maker’s Mark Grilled Chicken

I tried using Jack Daniels Pork Rub a couple of years ago. I ruined about Three pounds of pork chops. Tonight I looked at the ingredients of Jack Daniels Pork Rub. Ignored the salt. Added all the Garlic, paprika, brown sugar, crushed pepper, a twist of lime, and a half cup of olive oil. I added that to about eight pork chops and let it marinate for two hours in a ziplock bag.

But then I remembered that Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment bought a ice bucket yesterday. It seemed excessive at the time, but I was buying a crazy amount of original midcentury furniture. Sooo….

I got the Makers and Jack Daniels out. With rocks glasses and filled the ice bucket.

I made a lot of rice. I got the ice bucket filled. I waited until the majority of cooking was done to start drinking.

The marinated pork turned out good. I can’t say pork and keep calling it chicken. so the marinated chicken was delicious.

I have obviously been over served. Which is why professional bartenders are an important parts of the economy and should be accounted for in the Covid-19 bailed out.

The service and gig economy is essential to the world. a professional bartender would have recogized that a triple, maybe quadruple, shot of Maker’d Mark was too much for a pre-dinner cocktail. I am very out of practice. Diet Coke made it drinkable, but seriously.

I grilled the pork for three minutes a side on a grill at high heat. Pulled them as they hit 145 degrees. Served on a bed of rice.

The temperature of my grill is a subject for a sober conversation.

Ripping Camcorder Video to a computer

My brother called me before Christmas.

“You need to take a look at your old camcorder videos. It’s unbelievable. How can I get mine transferred to a computer?” – my brother, Mark

He also asked if I was still in bed. I was but I lied.

I am not a video person.

I promised I would figure it out. I used to own a Snap capture card thing about 20 years ago. You could take grainy snapshots of video directly from the camcorder. It was so much fun, I put it all in a box and forgot about it for 20 years.

A few things have changed for the better.

Computers have gotten SO much faster, memory has gotten SO much less expensive. Marie Kondo says its ok to digitize everything and stop carrying around the physical media.


My son’s fiancé had been converting her families’ videos. She pointed me to Elgato. The boys already owned an Elgato for HDMI. They bought it to stream video games. I could have figured out how to up convert to HDMI. Analog to HDMI was too much work. I had to create something so simple I could explain it to my brother.

I did a little research. My camera was a Sony Handycam BetaSP. It was component (Yellow and White RCA things) outputs. Amazon had a “REDGO Video Audio VHS VCR USB Video Capture Card to DVD Converter Capture Card Adapter

It’s $13. Comes with software on a compact CD/DVD. Runs on Windows only.

It works fine. My video camera skills were never good. Here are my notes on the process.

Here is what worked for me.

honestech VHS to DVD 3.0 SE

I used the provided software. Luckily had a couple of computers with CD/DVD drives. (You can buy an external CD/DVD drive). The key for the software was posted on the Amazon page. I had to run it as an Administrator, so that it could read and write to my computer and send my personal info to identity thieves.

The editing is kludgy. I might have it figured out. But it records from the A/V input fine.

It creates 480p MPEG files that are huge. I think this was designed for the straight to DVD market. It’s fine. But…

It has a timer, so you can set it like an old VCR and it will tape for 2 or 4 or whatever hours and stop. My tapes are two hours. I didn’t need to babysit it. Great time saver.

I have already ripped a TON of DVDs. I knew about compression and transcoding. So I made everything smaller with

Playing Videos – VLC media player – VLC

Open Source, Free

This is a light, fast, free, open source video player. It’s awesome. I have it on all my computers. One of a few tools, that I immediately install on all my computers.

It plays pretty much everything. It is simple, but more powerful than I need it to be.

I detest Microsoft Media Player. I just want to play something, now. I use VLC.

Making files smaller – Handbrake – 

Open Source, Free

This will take a MPEG file and turn it into a smaller file of many optional formats.

Right now, I am using the Fast 480p preset. This will reduce the size of the files by 66%. Not shabby. I have probably ripped a 100GB of tapes. I don’t have that much space on my big laptop. I don’t see a big difference in quality between the MPEG and the compressed file image or sound.

There are plenty of people who could tell me what I am missing out on with what ever compression scheme I choose. But just today,  I sent a friend a video of their wedding day from 1998. It has been sitting in a storage bin with all these amazing videos of my kids as babies for 20’ish years. My overall philosophy is if you can’t see it, it isn’t sparking joy. (Thanks Marie Kondo!). Also I am a bad friend, but I was the father of a 4 month old at the time and had several jobs.

Trimming and Editing – still looking –

There are a lot of options. I don’t know which one is the right one yet. VLC will let you let you trim, but it’s slow. I tried VIDSplitter and OpenShotVideo Editor. I think my main issue… It’s not as easy or fast as editing an audio file. It seems that the trimmed clip needs to be ripped as a new clip… So far.


I will keep you posted.




Santa vs. Ring Doorbell

We got a nice Santa suit a couple of years ago. I wanted to repurpose it for 2019. So this was my idea. Bring Santa to social media.

Here are two takes… (You saw it here first)


Take Two


Funny, I tried sharing this to the Ring Neighbors app. It was soundly rejected. Ring reached out for permission to use it for marketing in less than 3 business days. Weird. The Neighbors App has no sense of humor.  It would be nice if they shared positive news occasionally.

My iPhone hates me

I use Apple Music on purpose about once every six months. Usually, I am listening to a podcast or Amazon music or Audible.

When I plug my iPhone into the car, “ABC” by the Jackson Five comes screaming out. I don’t hate the song. I own it it, but fuck “ABC” by the Jackson Five when I am trying to get on the road to somewhere.

It’s annoying.

There isn’t an iPhone option to choose default apps for music or what happens when it gets plugged into a car. So today I went old school, I copied some songs and renamed them so they precede “ABC” alphabetically.

I am not a total monster. I kept the original versions, but hopefully the next time I hear Michael Jackson consent will be involved.

See that playlist? “ABC” by Jackson Five isn’t on the phone. What kind of monster app is downloading a song to play just because I plugged the phone into a car? Hubris? Satan?

This is only been an issue for about five years. I am excited/thrilled/disappointed/sad that it took me this long to come up with a solution.


20190710 Bruce Peninsula to Sudbury

20190710 Bruce Peninsula to Sudbury

I don’t want to bury the lead here. I had dinner with one of the greatest human beings on the planet. Bill McElree! I love this man like Samwise Gamgee loves him some Frodo Baggins. We had a late dinner. We caught up on life. Charbonneau got to ask all of his Canada questions to an actual Canada person in a safe space.

We woke up in at a very reasonable hour. Camping is a different kind of sleeping in. You can sleep in until you must absolutely, positively get up and get dressed enough to go use the bathroom. This was a family campground, so I had to get pretty dressed. We ate sandwiches, made from leftovers from last night and hit the road.

We had a 8a-12n reservation a Bruce Peninsula National Park Grotto Area. We checked in, got a pass, and drove to the parking area. There are three trails heading to the place. The grotto is a scenic cave. There is also a natural arch, an overhang and Indian Cove. This is all smack dab against Lake Huron, crystal clear exhilarating water for miles. You can swim and wade and jump in the water. People look like they are having fun swimming. They are either lying or from someplace far worse than Lake Huron.

We walked around and checked out the scenery. On the way back to the cove, I heard a young women say “Jumping in like that was horrible, it is so cold my bones hurt.” I immediately recognized that this was the place to dip my toes in the water. Charbonneau was videotaping. The women offered to hold my sunnies (sunglasses). I threw them and my hat as a commitment device. I jumped in from less than 10 feet above the water. Landed perfectly. It was hypothermic cold. It was Titanic cold. It was waiting to breathe until you get above the water cold. I got back to the surface. I had to take a moment or two regain high functioning and to compose myself before I started swearing. I waded a tiny bit after I got out and warmed up.

Mostly, I laughed at other people. There was a large family group with at least three generation represented. They had a handful of small children. Watching the guys wade in was hilarious. One adult mom/sister dove in and was swimming around like a boss. There were three or four adult guys who were wisely chickening out. Three of the toddlers wanted to play in the fetid, stagnant pool. One of the kids fell and got slightly hurt and cried until his mom picked him up. Grandma was trying to get a preschooler to swim. The preschooler was definitely not going to put her face in water, thank you very much. I was laughing out loud watching this unfold.

There was also a large garter snake at the cove. No one tried to smash it. It was a nice change of pace. Charbonneau and I also saw a super fiesty, tiny snake on the trail back to the parking lot. I took a picture. I probably won’t post pictures. My mom would rather quit Facebook than look at a snake.

Remember the paid reserved time entry? The benefit of rationing this amazing area? There were less than 100 people total. There was plenty of room for everybody. It’s a pretty nice way to make this space available. Two years ago, Merryweather and I were super excited to breeze past the traffic jam to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a traffic jam the whole way.

We had about four hours until the ferry would start loading.

We hit the Taco Truck (with free hot sauce) for lunch. We took a long walk through the Bruce Peninsula NP visitor center. There is also Five Fathoms National Park co-located with Bruce Peninsula. Five Fathoms is everything you can see with a boat or a scuba suit. There are tons of shipwrecks. One of the earliest was from the 1600’s a French Fur Trading vessel.

“The Bruce Peninsula was dangerous to many a maiden voyage.” – Jon Bruce

The truck got lined up at the ferry lot for free parking. We walked back into town. I actually found a store with normal priced things. I bought something. We also got back to the truck. I took nap. The ferry pulled up. It is called Chi Cheemaun, the Obiway name for Big Canoe. It is a very handsome boat. We loaded in. The parking decks are off limits for the trip. We went up to the top deck as it pulled out. We went looking around. There is a boatique, for all your must have boat gifts and notions. There is a restaurant with Diet Coke. There is also a kids room. They had a movie.

There were two older, french speaking, couples at the table next to us on the ferry. The guys were obviously birders. They didn’t have Tilley hats, but I could tell they were birders because they had binoculars on suspenders. Dead giveaway. They were fiesty. the one guy blew the paper off his drinking straw across the table. Silly happy people.

We also ran into the Marshmellow family again. Yesterday evening, Charbonneau and I passed the Marshmellow Family. I know this because one of the boys loudly announced “Hi, We are the Marshmellows!” I introduced Charbonneau and myself as the “Graham Crackers”. The boys thought this was funny. When we walked into the ferry dining room, they recognized me and bound in their seats to say “Hi”. Once I realized who they were, I told them that we shared our campsite last night with the Chocolate Bars. I opined that it would have been quite perfect if we had all been in the same campground at the same time. I crack myself up. The parents looked like the associate pastor and spouse of a mega church. (if I had to guess). The dad had a killer beard. Nice family.

The boat ride is about two hours. The lake was pretty smooth and glassy. About 20 minutes from the dock, we got sent back to our vehicles. The lower deck had a pronounced lean. The trucks suspension reacts to the boats movements. The truck was bobbing like a bobber.

From Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island is the world. We headed out. The country is the most scenic thing you have ever seen. Charbonneau was hearkened back to the Boundary Waters of his youth. The hills soar. The waters becon. It looks like Moose and Bear should be hanging around every bend in the road. They are, but only when you are driving at night and in a hurry.


We got to Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury is home to the world famous Bill McElree. It also home to two ENORMOUS smokestacks. There is a lot of mining going on around here. The stuff that used to go up the smokestack is being captured and used rather than raining acid. We got checked into a hotel and met Bill for a late dinner. The chicken wings were excellent. In Sudbury, dusted chicken wings are breaded. Naked chicken wings are not dusted. They are excellent. The waitress brought out a small bucket for chicken bones. The beer was also excellent.

Charbonneau and I were both ready for sleep. We bid Bill adieu. I went to sleep at a reasonable hour.



20190709 Toronto to the Bruce Peninsula

20190709 Toronto to the Bruce Peninsula
We left the apartment early. Mrs Jon Bruce Entertainment and Merryweather were dropped off at Pearson International Airport for their return trip. There was much tears shed at our fond farewell.
Charbonneau and I stopped for breakfast to let traffic settle. We went to a small breakfast place called Friends. Charbonneau remarked that it was the most consistently branded locally owned business he has ever see. The prices were excellent. The potatoes were so uniformly and consistently cooked that I thought is was cantaloupe. I have never seen better prepared breakfast potatoes. Apparently, it is a one woman show. I didn’t see any other employees.
I also went to a pharmacy to explore Canadian allergy remedies. I would settle for a witch doctor at this point. I got Tylenol sinus because apparently Canadians like meth too. I also got another allergy medicine that won’t make my heart explode.
We headed out for the Bruce Peninsula. This place had escaped my notice until a couple of weeks ago. There is a bunch of stuff named Bruce in Canada. It is a longish drive through fields of allergens. Very scenic.
We got to Bruce Peninsula National Park. Their campground was full. We got a pin and went to the chamber of commerce / community center for the closest town, Tobermory. As much as I love all this Scottish stuff it is hard to remember how to spell. They directed us to a couple of nearby campgrounds. We picked a spot. Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the busiest in the system. Very popular and located on Lake Huron.
We also booked our ferry across the lake to some other place.
We checked out the observation tower and the town.
Canada National Parks is different. We have a Canada parks pass, but it’s not the same as America. Today we were trying to check out part of the park, but it requires an entry permit with a reservation time and a separate fee. Charbonneau got on the phone and got the reservation. It should be cool.
We went to the next section of park and drove approximately 100 miles on the dustiest one lane road ever. We check out Halfway Log Dump. It’s a beach with fist sized or bigger smooth stones. Walking across them sounds strange. There seems to be enough airspace between the stones for a reverberation and they clatter. The rock shelf here is called the Niagara escarpment. It dips into Lake Huron here. The other end hits water at Niagara Falls.
The water is cold and crystal clear. People were swimming. I waded bit. Pretty nice.
Of course with Mrs. Jon Bruce dipping out, our fortunes have ebbed a bit. We have resorted to gathering our meager rations from our surroundings. We also couldn’t afford wood for a fire. We resorted to warming ourselves with Cuban cigars. Cuban cigars taste like a reasonable relationship with our commie neighbors to the South would be a good thing. My mouth is still tingling from the nicotine and carcinogens.
We played a round of mini golf at the campground. It was only nine holes and not World MiniGolf certified. Woe is us. (It took me ten minutes to remember how to spell sad whoa)
I have heard people say that island prices are high. Let me tell you, Peninsula prices defy imagination. We had lunch in town. A single fish taco was $6. A 20 ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon $8. The guacamole was a $1.25 up charge. Hot sauce was also .$1.25. The camping spot we picked was $52. The nice one was $60. The campground has a $90 tent that you could get at Walmart for less than $30. Though if you really need a tent from the Campground store it is probably worth any price.
On iPhone with limited everything .