Hiding in Plain Site

Earlier this week I found this hanging in the boiler room.

I replaced the thermocouples on my boiler and hot water heater in the last few years. Would have saved a trip to Home Depot if I had noticed this at some point in the 10 years I’ve lived here. Price is a bit different from the $13 I paid for a thermocouple last December.

Makes me wonder what else is hiding around the house.


Made a trip to Sam’s Club to get my cleaning lady some gifts. I learned about the glass cleaner from her, which works much better than Windex.

On Note Taking

I’ve been using the iOS and Mac app Bear for about a year. I previously used Apple Notes and Simplenote. I use the app for work stuff, CrossFit workout plans, hobby projects, and many other notes. I digital notebook is convenient because my iPhone is always with me. The idea of a physical notebook has always interested me, but I haven’t been able to get into it. For example, I linked to bullet journaling earlier this year, which seems really cool. Something similar could be fun for creativity and inspiration. I think the biggest factor holding me back is I wouldn’t want to carry a notebook everywhere. Not that I leave home very often, but still.

Part of me really wants to sign up for a subscription to the Field Notes Quarterly Editions. I probably load up their site and add the subscription to my cart every couple of months. Then I remember the pile of notebooks I already don’t use.

So many potential notes to be written!

The group of 5 brown ones are actually Field Notes books. Not pictured is a larger Moleskin I keep in my workshop and have been using to sketch project plans. Once I start making a dent in this pile I can justify a subscription. Of course I could also make my own. I think the subscription interests me because I’ve become addicted to getting a surprise every month or quarter like with the AdaBox and HackerBox subscriptions. I also really love the design and simplicity of Field Notes.

There is one exception to my use of notebooks. I religiously use the Expedition series  to record my workouts. They’re perfect for the gym because the paper is water- and tear-proof; paper and sweat generally don’t mix well.

Full of numbers.

Writing this post reminded me I only have a few pages left in my last book so I placed an order for 2 new packs in case they stop making them. As a bonus, on the day I ordered, Field Notes were giving out a free 2-pack of Blue Wednesday with any order.

Now my stack of unused notebooks will be even larger.

If you have any journal or note taking habits, please share. I’d love to hear what works for you.

Basement Bathroom Upgrades

After putting in a new LED light in the bathroom next to my workshop I figured I’d give the place a “quick” makeover. The biggest need was to do something with the nasty floor. After a tip from Mom I picked up a few boxes of peel and stick floor tiles from Family Dollar.

Not bad for $30! Good enough for a basement bathroom. I also put in a quick release toilet seat and replaced the faucet and it’s supply lines.

Clamp Replacements at Harbor Freight

In the post about my DIY clamp storage racks last week I mentioned getting most of my clamps at estate sales. I put together a solid collection that way, with most of the clamps being really old. There was a Pittsburgh sticker and a Harbor Freight price tag on one of the clamps. Knowing they have a lifetime warranty on this stuff, I went in to Harbor Freight with 2 of the clamps which had beat up pads like this…


The sales associate said, “Yep, we’ll replace them. There doesn’t even need to be anything wrong with them.”

“Really?” I asked. “I have a bunch of these old clamps.”

“Yeah, bring them in and get new ones.”

I rushed home and grabbed the rest of the old clamps.


In total I had 4 each of the 6″, 12″, and 24″ old clamps. Now everything matches the others I had purchased new from the store.


Harbor Freight gets a bad rap because their products can be pretty cheap (in price and quality). According to reviews you have to be careful with some of their tools, but these clamps are one of the most recommended products in the store. The almost identical clamps cost 3-4 times as much at Home Depot.


I like it when a company stands by their products and policies. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard that Sears does the same type of replacement on Craftsman hand tools.

Shop Lighting

The lights in my basement were pretty bad. If you’ve watched any of the videos I’ve done in the workshop you’ve probably noticed. The area pictured below was lit by 2 light bulbs.


Time to fix this so I ordered two sets of 4 LED lights off Amazon. At $20/light I didn’t expect much in terms of quality, but the reviews were solid. They are made with really cheap materials, but function fine. I put 3 of the new lights in this area. Incredible difference!


Each light has a plug instead of wiring and the cord has a switch built-in, which is really nice. I won’t be stuck with my lighting placements if I change my mind and it’s easy to turn individual lights on and off as needed.

The other area of the shop was almost as bad, with some dark corners. It was lit with 3 of the typical tube lights you find in drop ceilings. Here are before pictures…



I wanted to remove the drop ceiling while I was at it so I’d get back about 8 inches of vertical space. I made a time-lapse of this part of the project. Over 6 hours of video at 80x speed to get it down to 5 minutes.

I used the other 5 LED lights in this larger area. When I showed pictures to my buddy he said, “Looks like you painted but it’s only lights.” He’s right! I’m really happy with the results.

I’ve already ordered another batch of lights for the laundry room and bathroom, though I’ll be keeping the ceiling in those locations.