Restore a Rusty Cast Iron Skillet

The Original Non-Stick Cookware That Will Last a Lifetime With Proper Care

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

A freshly seasoned cast iron skillet
A freshly seasoned cast iron skillet
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Cast iron cookware originated in China during the Han Dynasty, was adopted by Europeans, and eventually made its way to America. The use of iron for many other purposes predates cookware because the process of casting had yet to be invented. Once that process was developed, it was used for water pipes, cannons, and other objects.

Many cast iron skillets on the market today are Chinese schlock (surprise, surprise). The really good ones, which are what you want, can be quite expensive if they are new. To get a deal though, obtain an older one and restore it to its pristine condition. Have a look at garage sales, estate sales, or Goodwill. The degree to which it needs to be refinished, the less of a financial investment you will likely have to make. Once you find your prize, it’s time to restore it to a useable condition.



Remove the Cast Iron Skillet Rust

Most of the sites on the internet will tell you to remove rust with steel wool and this is fine if you have a very mild case of oxidation. But let me tell you, this will take a long time and will work you to the bone if it is worse than that. Instead, I use a grinding wheel attached to my Ryobi cordless drill to expidite the job. Work smarter, not harder, as Gramps used to opine.

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Grinding wheel on a Ryobi Cordless drill
Grinding wheel on a Ryobi Cordless drill

The grinder in the image above came straight from Home Depot and worked out just right for attacking both the bottom and sides of my skillet as well as the inside corners. Keep even but light pressure.

It’s likely that the outside will need some work as well. In my case, I had some flakes that needed to be chipped off before applying the grinder. For this, I used a old flat-blade screwdriver and my trusty 16 oz. hammer, which I bought at the beginning of my carpenter apprenticeship back in 1979. Still going strong. That was when Craftsman was the premier brand for hand tools. That’s a bit of America we’ll never get back. Sigh.

Seasoning Your Cast Iron

Seasoning your cookware is the most important maintenance step; this is what gives it a non-stick cooking surface. After following the steps above and you have a good surface (it does not have to be shiny, just rust-free and smooth) it’s time to season it.

  • For the first seasoning, apply a thin coat of peanut oil on the entire surfaces of your skillet including the handle.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 350℉.
  • Put your skillet in and let it bake for an hour.
  • Turn off the oven an allow it to cool

That’s all there is to it! Do it at least twice before cooking in it. The handle and outside only need to be done the first time. This is done as a rust-inhibitor. Ideally, you should season your skillet after each washing, but you can judge when it is due by the level of non-stickiness.

Properties of Cast Iron Cookware

  • It is an easy way to more of the mineral iron into your diet. One cup of foods like applesauce, chili, tomato sauce, stew, and scrambled eggs will gain about six to eight milligrams of iron after being cooked in cast iron cookware. This is important for all of us but especially us avid runners and other workoutaholics.
  • It will last a looooong time. In this age of planned obsolescence, it is nice to have something you can pass on to your offspring.
  • It is very heavy.
  • It conducts, distributes, and holds heat well.
  • Unlike some other materials, it won’t develop a convex bottom over time, casing wobble and uneven cooking.

That’s about all there is to restoring a rusty cast iron skillet. With proper upkeep, it will not just serve you well, but it will outlast you.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Intoxalock Ignition Interlock Review

My Experience With This Court-Mandated In-Car Breathalyzer Following a DWI Charge

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Intoxalock ignition interlock device
Intoxalock ignition interlock device
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We’ve probably all been there–out with friends or at a party, or even an extended dinner and had one too many adult beverages. We don’t necessarily feel too woozy, but the numbers on the police officer’s breathalyzer or the blood test might put us over the legal limit, which varies from state to state.

This is what happened to me. Going on advice that I have heard many times over, I politely declined the breathalyzer. I was taken to jail and quickly made bail. But before that happened they took my blood. This was the beginning of my circuitous journey through the Galveston County legal maze. It was going to be a journey of five years. The situation turned out to be no trivial matter.



You Will Probably be Ordered to Install an Ignition Interlock Device

Again, this varies from state to state. Usually, the condition of keeping your driving privileges is installing an ignition interlock breathalyzer in your vehicle. My orders were to get one that also has a dash camera pointed right at my face and a Car Tunes, is close by, and so, convenient for my busy life. I didn’t want to have to drive 30 miles every month for another brand of device. As it turned out, I made a great choice with Car Tunes. They are the best in the area for car stereos, lighting, gadgets, and window tinting. My decision with Intoxalock was a catastrophe, in retrospect. Hopefully, my relating this information will save some readers a headache. Forewarned is forearmed, as I am wont to say.



Things Quickly Went South With Intoxalock

Well, of course they were professional when they wanted to get my business! Of course they were prompt sending the device to Car Tunes for installation (installation is not a DIY project by law). That’s when the honeymoon came to a screeching halt.

The first issue came when I went for my first device calibration. It didn’t work. The Car Tunes guy said all I could do was call Intoxalock “support” for a solution. So I called. I was put on ignore (hold) for 45 minutes. My cell phone battery was starting to go into shock but the saint of the iPhone heard my plea and cut me some well-deserved slack..

  • Her: “How can I help you?”
  • Me: “Well, I’m here at the shop for my first calibration and your machine won’t do it.”
  • Her: “Let me see… OK, it says here that it’s because you haven’t paid your first monthly bill.”
  • Me: “I’m not due for one yet. Besides, my bank account is on monthly billing. You extract the money at your leisure. Why doesn’t your system figure this out?”
  • Her, voice dripping with condescension: “Well, that’s not really the issue. But what I will do, this one time, as a favor, is let the calibration go forward and not charge you the regular additional fee for this service.”
  • Me, astonished: “Well gee, thanks.”


The Battery Issue They Don’t Tell You About

I’m not sure how it all connects to your car; that’s all some kind of secret to discourage tampering. But what they are not really transparent about is that the device puts a constant drain on the vehicle battery. Now, I don’t drive much. I work from home, the grocery store is a 5-minute walk away, and I usually go for my morning training runs right out the front door.

So, imagine my surprise when I got ready one afternoon to go for device calibration and my truck battery is dead. I put it on the charger but it never recovered enough from absolute nada to get me to the shop before closing time. Through the Intoxalock app I explained the situation and asked for a one-day extension but customer “service” never responded, even to refuse my humble request. They just didn’t care about the guy who is paying their bills. The result? My vehicle had a “lockout” and had to be towed to Car Tunes the next day for calibration. Ka-ching! I’m not the only one; there are more battery stories on the BBB website regarding Intoxalock.

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Having the Device Removed and Closing My Account

The device can only be removed from your vehicle when that action is legally approved. In my case, a Galveston County judge decreed it when she closed my case. She gave me paperwork to that effect which is what I was to submit to Intoxalock so they could schedule a removal appointment. Fair enough.

I was so excited. I was finally going to get back to my life! After 5 years I had paid my debt to society. The judge said so. But, hold on there, pardner; Intoxalock wasn’t ready to let go of a cash cow quite yet.

I submitted my removal request and my court document through the Intoxalock phone app. No response. I submitted it a few times to the email address stated on their website for that very purpose, again attaching the judge’s signed-off document. Again, no response. Hmm, I sense a pattern emerging here. So I call them. The customer “support” lady asked if I had received an automated reply from my emails? Nope. Well, she told me, you’ll have to find another way. “What way,” I asked? She said, “Don’t know, maybe fax?” So I’m thinking, this customer service person has no idea about how to solve this simple problem? She’s not going to take the initiative and say, “Sorry, you have been a good paying customer for a year, let me find a solution.”

I tried one more email with the attached judge’s orders. Nada, zip, zilch response. So, sitting here in my home office late one evening I thought, let’s bring in the BBB. I can’t say that I was surprised by what I saw on the BBB site regarding Intoxalock. They enjoy a 1 out of 5-star rating (you can’t give zero stars).

So. I open a case against Intoxalock with the BBB. Within about 15 hours I received an email from Intoxalock stating that they had received my request for device removal. Then, this was their response to the BBB (who had forwarded my complaint to them):

RECEIVE BUSINESS RESPONSE: A member of Intoxalock management team has reviewed Ms. Smith’s account.  Intoxalock does regret any poor experience she has had and apologize for any undue frustration she may have incurred. As of 6-28-21 Intoxalock state compliance has noted the authorization to remove the interlock device.  Ms. Smith has also scheduled the removal for 6-29-21.  Once the removal is complete Ms. Smith’s account will be closed out.  Intoxalock has attached Ms. Smith’s final billing showing a zero balance due                 If Ms. Smith would like to discuss this she can reach a member of Intoxalock management team at 515-204-2573 or 525-461-2248.

The BBB now asks me if I accept or decline the accused’s response. Here is my response:

CONSUMER SATISFIED : (The consumer indicated he/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)                 I accept the response with the following caveats. They tell me their system is supposed to generate an automatic “we received your email” email to me after I submitted my request attached with the Judge’s decree. This did NOT happen for numerous emails and phone calls over the course of approximately 2 weeks. Miraculously, I got one less than 24 hours after I filed a complaint with the BBB! Then, later that day, they sent me another email saying they couldn’t ship me a unit because I had not signed a lease. What? All my emails and phone calls referenced REMOVAL, not ACQUIRING. Obviously, their system is broken on so many levels. The unit was removed yesterday but I won’t trust that my account will be closed until I see it, for obvious reasons. I’ll be watching my bank account closely; they have been either devious or incompetent on all other actions.

That’s the long and short of my experience with the Intoxalock Ignition Interlock device and the company. There should be a recognition of so many shady and possibly illegal things going on here. In my case it wasn’t just shoddy customer relations; it was how they pretended to ignore my communications (and potentially keep billing me) until the BBB held their feet to the fire. If you find yourself to be court-mandated to install one of these devices, I urge you to do your research. Look at all the cases on file with the BBB. As I said, only 1 out of 5 stars.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

How to Use a Multimeter

Use an Analog or Digital Multimeter (DMM) to Diagnose Circuits, Measure Voltage and Current

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

A typical digital multimeter and leads
A typical digital multimeter and leads
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I’ll be the first to admit it – electrical troubleshooting is not my favorite DIY task. Give me a woodworking project, give me a wall to tape and float; ahh, now you’re looking at a happy camper. But when I do have to jump in there chasing electrons, the first thing I reach for is my digital multimeter.

Digital VS Analog

Multimeters are also called multitesters, which is perhaps a more descriptive name. The digital models might be newer than the analog ones but the concept is the same. Like analog watches and clocks preceded digital ones, the same is true with electrical testing meters. The same might be said of aneroid vs digital barometers.

Is one better than the other? Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been told that the digital is more accurate than its analog cousin. I don’t really care though. I’m not likely to be measuring anything down to the nana-micro-tinyvolt level of granularity. Besides, I really like that little needle flicking around. I guess it reminds me of those old science fiction B movies. But alas, my old analog doesn’t work anymore so I’ve gone digital.



Multimeter Functions

For such a small gadget, the multitester really packs a punch with respect to functionality. Check out some of the things this little gizmo will do for you:

  • Continuity Testing: This is probably the simplest function. No mystery here, it’s just what it sounds like. It checks to see if the electrical current is continuous from point A to point B.
  • Voltage Testing: Again, very straightforward. For example, to test a light switch or an outlet, set the meter to AC (Alternating Current), set it to the voltage closest to what you’re measuring (110 – 120 for an outlet), and put one probe in each slot. Almost all portable electronics use DC (Direct Current). As a simple example, consider an AA battery. Connect the black probe to the meter’s ground or COM port and the red probe to mAVΩ (the 10A port is for large currents (greater than 200mA). Touch the probes with a little pressure against the positive and negative terminals of the AA battery. If you’ve got a new battery, you should see around 1.5V on the display (this battery is brand new, so its voltage is slightly higher than 1.5V).
  • Measuring Resistance: It also tests resistance in a circuit or device. Your instruction manual will go into detail for your specific model, but basically just set the knob to Ohms, plug the black lead into COM jack, the red into the OHM jack. Then put the leads across the device in parallel and read the resistance. Note: If it reads 1 or -1, try testing in a larger range.


  • Measuring Current: Reading current is one of the trickiest and most insightful readings in the world of embedded electronics, such as you might find in a smart Wi-Fi weather station. Why is it tricky? Because you have to measure current in series. Where voltage is measured by poking at VCC and GND (in parallel), to measure current it is necessary to physically interrupt the flow of current and then place your meter in-line.


Using a multimeter is not something that most of us will use every day but having one and knowing how to use it will come in handy time and time again. When choosing one, everyone has his preference, generally speaking, multimeters that have continuity are preferred. Every other feature is just icing on the cake.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

How to Use a Barometer

Using Atmospheric Pressure and Short-Term Changes for Weather Prediction

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

An aneroid barometer
An aneroid barometer
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Getting the weather forecast or current conditions these days is easier than ever and we have become somewhat complacent about it (yawn, yawn). Just check one of the many sites on the internet. One hour from now, no problem. 10 days from now, likewise. If you want conditions and a forecast for a very specific area, such as your home or neighborhood, go with a personal weather station (PWS).

In the old days, tools like the barometer had to be used to anticipate rain or storms in the near future. Your PWS, in fact, has barometric functionality. Electronic pressure sensors measure pressure utilizing a force collector which measures the strain resulting from an applied force over an area. Changes in electrical resistivity of a semiconductor or metal are measured when a mechanical strain is applied. The resulting voltage output may be analog, which can be converted to digital.



What is Atmospheric Pressure?

First, a little conceptual science. Atmospheric pressure (barometric pressure) is just the weight of air at ground level. Consider the concept of water pressure as an analogy. The deeper you get in the water, the more the pressure increases because as you go down, the built-up weight of the water above you increases.

Consider land as being the bottom of your atmospheric sea. Air is actually not weightless although in daily life it seems so. Atmospheric pressure is the weight of the air from the top of the atmosphere straight down to you; a column, if you will. As you might imagine, pressure is lower as you get higher in elevation because there’s less air on top of you.

This pressure measurement is usually made in hectopascals which is in effect a measure of pounds per square inch. On any modern consumer barometer, the measurement will be indicated in either inches or millibars.

Forecasting the Weather With a Barometer

If you have an aneroid device, you’ll need to manually calibrate it. It’s easy; all this entails is adjusting a small screw on the back to set the hand, like on a clock, to match the current barometric pressure where you are. weather.gov is very comprehensive by zip code. Once you’ve done that, it’s all set. Digital barometers do this step for you.

Barometer measurements are either in inches or millibars. Your readings will usually be between 28 and 31 inches, generally measured to the hundredth decimal. However, the number itself isn’t going to help you much. The thing to focus on is which direction the numbers are moving. You’re looking for the change in barometric pressure to forecast the weather. What does this mean? The static numbers that exhibit no indication of rising or falling aren’t very useful. So, you need to keep up with the change.

Aneroid barometers have two hands. One shows the barometric pressure reading The other one is a manual dial that you align with the pressure reading at the time that you take a measurement. This way you can quickly and easily see which direction and how far the needle has moved between your readings.

Digital barometers usually have indications of “rising” or “falling,” and some models even display a graph called a barograph showing earlier readings and trends. This is more helpful and accurate for you, the amateur meteorologist. Instead of having to write down or memorize previous readings, your device does it for you.



A wind/barometer table
A wind/barometer table

Those are the basics of using a barometer. The more you use it, the more adept you will become at understanding weather patterns in your location. Other than just doing it as a hobby, knowing how conditions are changing is very useful for work and outdoor recreational activities.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ambient Smart Wi-Fi Weather Station

Model WS-2902C WiFi Product Review

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
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So, this Ambient Weather Wi-Fi Smart Weather Station is my latest project. I’ve always been interested in weather conditions and here in South Texas it’s always a good thing to stay informed of. I do a lot of running and dog-walking so knowing how to dress before venturing outside is always a good idea. It gives me a bit more freedom as I go about my day.

I bought it from Amazon.com. Yes, Walmart sells small sensor units, of which I have had one for years. It was just time to ramp up my game. This model is mid-range in price for Ambient stations, but it does everything I need it to do. For example, knowing how barometric pressure works is imperative; I do live in a hurricane zone.



Weather Station Installation

Right out of the box, putting this gadget together is a simple task. Just a few basic assembly steps and viola! You will need to procure and put up a mounting pole. I used:

  • A 10′ length of electrical conduit, about $10 at Home Depot.
  • A post-hole digger.
  • About 4 cups of Quikrete. No mixing, just pour it into the hole and pour water over it. This is definitely DIY concrete, mixing not required.

Ambient Features

  • It comes with the unit and a tablet-sized display console suitable for setting on your desk or table or mounting on the wall.
  • Solar-powered.
  • Wireless all-in-one integrated sensor array measures wind speed/direction, temperature (indoor/outdoor), humidity (indoor/outdoor), rainfall, UV and solar radiation, barometric pressure, time and date.
  • Supports both imperial and metric units of measure with calibration available.
  • Enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity option that enables your station to transmit its data wirelessly to the world’s largest personal weather station network.


Predicting weather with the barometer
Predicting weather with the barometer

Do I recommend this Ambient Weather Smart Weather Station? Yes, I do. For my purposes the data reported is all that I could ask for. Assembly was easy, about an hour and a half including installing the pole mount. Finally (for a very rare occurrence with today’s products), the instruction booklet is comprehensive and detailed.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Repair a Sink Faucet

How to Replace Faucet Cartridges, Washers, O-Rings, and Diaphragms

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

A pedestal sink with typical faucet
A pedestal sink with typical faucet
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Sink faucets are found in laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and elsewhere. Because they’re just there, they usually aren’t given a thought until they fail. Some say that indoor running water is the single most impressive event that altered domestic society resulting in our present state of comfort.

In all homes, sink faucets, like toilets, will eventually fail. When this happens to you, first determine what kind of faucet you need to repair and replace cartridges, washers, O-rings, and diaphragms. This is why you should keep all documentation that comes with any appliance or part.

Faucets are an essential and fundamental part of our homes as well as businesses and the hotel industry. But when things do go south, as we know they will, the primary concept to understand is that there are a wide array of sink faucets available. Without identifying the faucet manufacturer and model, repairing a sink faucet is impossible.



Repairing Different Types of Faucets

Compression Faucets — This type is always doubled handled; look for this first in your identification process. These are fairly simple, while still functional and reliable; an internal washer raises to allow the water to flow. For this reason, they are also called washer-type faucets or stem faucets.

  • Repair tip: For a dripping spout, replace your stem washer.
  • Repair tip: For a leaking handle, replace your stem-packing and/or O-ring.

Diaphragm Faucets — These are also double handled.

  • Repair tip: If only your handle is leaking, replace your O-ring.
  • Repair tip: If your handle and spout are leaking, replace your diaphragm.

Disc Faucets — This type may have either one or two handles. It uses a pair of plastic or ceramic discs that regulates both the temperature and volume of water that reaches you, the customer.

  • Repair tip: When it begins to act up, replace the seals and ensure that your inlet ports are unclogged. The discs themselves are sturdy, so rarely an issue.

Rotating Ball Faucets — Now we’re dealing with one that is always a single-handled faucet. It gets the name because of the design of a slotted plastic or brass ball that perches on top of a spring-loaded plastic seat. The handle causes the ball to rotate; this is what adjusts your temperature as well as your flow volume.

  • Repair tip: If your handle is leaking, replace your O-rings and adjusting your adjusting ring. If the spout and handle are leaking, replace your diaphragm.
  • Repair tip: If only your spout is leaking, replace your springs and seats as a set.

Cartridge Faucets — This model is a single lever faucet; it utilizes a cartridge that controls your water flow.

  • Repair tip: Because of its simplicity, repair is easy. First try replacing your O-rings. If it is still acting up, change your cartridge. Always take the old one to the plumbing store to make sure you come home with the correct replacement.

Tools and Materials for Plumbing Repair

  • Slip-joint pliers. Two are better than one for many plumbing projects.
  • Teflon tape. Use either the paste or the tape; I find the tape easier to work with.
  • Screwdrivers. Keep an assortment on hand, as we all should.
  • Rags and a small plastic bucket. Because spills are going to happen.
  • A set of nut-drivers. Many plumbing applications use automotive style connections.


There’s your basics on repairing bathroom or kitchen sink faucets. The main frustration I find is that there so many brands and models that you will often have to do a disassembly before trekking to Home Depot or Lowes or ordering from 4 Types of Sink Faucets

  • Fixing Common Toilet Problems
  • How to Repair a Toilet Flange
  • Tankless Water Heater Maintenance Tips

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    About the Author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

    Recipe: Chicken Jerky for Dog Treats

    Save Money with a Sharp Knife and a Food Dehydrator

    by Kelly R. Smith

    Chicken jerky in dehydrator for dog treats
    Chicken jerky in dehydrator for dog treats
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    I know, you are probably looking at this and saying, “What? Chicken jerky for dog treats? Is that not just a wee bit indulgent?” Sure you’re right, but hear me out. It’s all about the money and the nutrition. Dog treats are like mattresses; the mark-up on them is outrageous for such a common commodity. Why? Because they can get it. And the nutrition? Just look at the ingredient list on the box. Now look at the ingredient list on a package of raw chicken pieces. No contest.

    I have tested this out on our four rescue dogs Eddie, Frankie, Maggie, and Sammie. Why do their names all end with “ie?” I don’t know; another mystery of the universe. Anyway, offering them a commercial treat in one hand and a homemade one in the other, they choose my cuisine every time. Not to pat myself on the back, of course.

    What You Need to Make Chicken Jerky

    This is fairly easy. You will need a food dehydrator. Depending on the size of your dehydrator you will need skinless chicken pieces. For example, I use an Ivation 6-Tray Food Dehydrator. It’s a commercial version, but reasonably priced. It holds about 2 pounds of chicken. Or beef. Or lots of sliced apples. You get the idea. Yes, this is most likely a model that a prepper or homesteader would invest in. You will also need a very sharp knife and a large cutting board.

    Making the Jerky

    The process here is straightforward. In fact, it is the same as my teriyaki beef jerky recipe, omitting the marinade overnight step. Of course, if you are making it for you, knock yourself out. Better still, make 3 trays for Fido and 3 for you. That’s called humane, I believe.

    Make the slices about 1/4 inch thick. As far as length of the strips go, 3 inches is good. Dogs are more into the dog treat itself, not the specific size. Arrange slices on your dehydrator trays, allowing some space between pieces for air circulation. Set the timer for 8 hours but begin checking it at 6 hours. You will know when it is done but the longer you go the crunchier it will be. That’s up to you and your furry friend. The picture below is our “done.” Compare it to the raw picture at the top of this page.

    Dehydrated chicken jerky, preserved and ready to eat
    Dehydrated chicken jerky, preserved and ready to eat

    That’s about all there is to making chicken jerky for dog treats. Store them in the refrigerator and be generous. Your pup may even deign to share with you… if you’re a good human.

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    Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

    About the Author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

    Your Stove: Gas for Efficiency or Electric for Better Air Quality?

    by Kelly R. Smith

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    Cooking dinner on a gas stove range
    Cooking dinner on a gas stove range

    Does your home have a gas stove for energy-efficiency or an electric one for better air quality? If you have a gas line to your home you’ve got a choice but if you don’t, you are locked into the electrical stove version — unless you want to pay to have a natural gas line installed. Each type of appliance has its pros and cons.

    The Pros of Natural Gas vs. Electricity

    The primary benefit of natural gas appliances, and stoves/ranges in particular is that they are more energy-efficient (on an operating cost basis). Why? Simply put, it takes gas, or some other fuel source, to generate electricity. That is an extra production step. On the other hand, electrical power is much better for your health, especially if you are prone to asthma issues.

    Natural Gas Contributes to Indoor Air Pollution

    Burning gas to cook food on any stove produces particulate pollutants, the worst of which is nitrogen dioxide, or NO2,, and sometimes also carbon monoxide. You know what they say about closed garages with the car engine running.

    This is why the air around your stove or any other gas-fueled appliance such as a water heater or downflow gas furnace should be vented to the outdoors. Even brief exposure to air containing elevated concentrations of NO can result in coughing and wheezing for people with asthma or other respiratory issues. Prolonged exposure to this gas can result in the development of those conditions, according to the EPA1 who says, “NO2 along with other NOx reacts with other chemicals in the air to form both particulate matter and ozone. Both of these are also harmful when inhaled due to effects on the respiratory system.”


    How to Protect Yourself and Your Family from Gas Appliances


    References

    1. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Pollution, https://www.epa.gov/no2-pollution/basic-information-about-no2

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    About the Author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

    Blue Light, Eye Health, and Sleep

    More Evidence is Showing Up About the Relationship Between Device Screens and Our Health

    Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

    Anti-blue-light glasses protect eye health
    Anti-blue-light glasses protect eye health
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    This article was updated on 04/16/21.

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    You might have recently been hearing more about the effects of blue light on your eyes and sleep patterns. As we live longer, the more chance there is of our health being affected. Blue Light is the visible light located at the blue end of the light spectrum. Although not as energetic as ultraviolet (UV) light, there is some concern that high levels of blue light might cause more damage at the cellular level than longer wavelengths of visible light, which you perceive as the colors of red through green. Exposure to blue light is thought to have an impact on your sleep-wake cycle, compounding the problem with Coronavirus pandemic dreams.

    Sources of Blue Light

    Blue light occurs naturally. This is not really a concern. Where it gets troubling is adding in the light emitted from LED lights, cell phones, television sets, tablets, and laptop computers. Studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device (or near certain lights) so what did not used to be an issue is suddenly the elephant in the room.

    Outside, light from the sun travels through the atmosphere. As it does, the shorter, high energy blue wavelengths collide with air molecules causing blue light to scatter everywhere. This is why the sky is blue. Interesting, yes?

    Blue Light and Your Sleep

    In its natural form, your body takes advantage of blue light from the sun to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles.  This is called your circadian rhythm.  This light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times, elevate moods, and increase the feeling of well being, rather than experiencing mood swings. In the wintertime, when the period of sunshine is reduced, some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, symptoms begin in the fall and continue through the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody and glum.

    Chronic exposure to blue light at night (binging on Netflix, gaming, social media) can lower the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and disrupt your circadian rhythm. You can’t be expected to withdraw from activities altogether, but over-the-counter melatonin supplements are quite inexpensive.

    Blue Light and Your Eyesight

    Blue light waves are some of the shortest, highest energy wavelengths in the visible light spectrum.  Since they are shorter, these blue, or High Energy Visible (HEV) wavelengths, flicker more than the longer, weaker wavelengths. This kind of flickering creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast and affect sharpness and clarity.

    Your eyes’ natural filters don’t provide as much protection against blue light rays from the sun as we would like, of course. The same is true of your devices or from blue light emitted from fluorescent-light tubes. Prolonged exposure to blue light is thought by some researchers to be likely to result in damage to your retinas and contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of vision. Opinions differ about the likelihood of this, but why take the chance?

    How You Can Protect Your Eyes

    Do what I do — wear anti blue light glasses. I wear them at the computer. They are inexpensive and give the screen a pleasant tint. My regular glasses have a coating that helps when I walk, run, or drive.

    That’s the effect of blue light exposure on eyes and sleep. Welcome to the modern world. Please participate in the poll on the right-hand side of this page. I want to get a better feel about how others feel about blue light.

    Further Reading



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    About the Author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

    Home Office Build-Out Tips

    by Kelly R. Smith

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    A home office
    A home office

    Recent estimates report that 33% of Americans are self-employed in some capacity. Now, the report didn’t break it down into full-time or part-time details, but it means one thing for certain — lots of home offices! You might need one for the first time because of being locked down thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re remodeling a bedroom into your office, or remodeling your current one, you can use these home office refurbishment tips.

    Office Interior Lighting

    All interior lighting is not the same. In the office, in particular, it falls into three distinct categories: general, task, and accent lighting. How much of each you use depends on your needs. General lighting is often implemented with overhead fluorescent fixtures. Most home offices just use task lighting.

    Task lighting is used to focus on your work area to avoid eye strain. Good choices here are undercabinet fixtures, or track, monorail, or Y lighting systems with halogen or LED bulbs. Accent lighting usually illuminates artwork. This is taken care of with ceiling-mounted fixtures.

    Buy Ergonomic Furniture

    This is important for your comfort and long-term health. The two most critical pieces are an ergonomic office chair and computer desk. Adjustable standing desks are getting to be more popular. Before shopping, know what you need. Draw a detailed plan noting where things should be situated. Size is important; be sure everything will fit into your space.

    Although it might be tempting to do so, I wouldn’t recommend placing the fax, copier, and printer where you can just reach over to make a quick paper grab. Why? Because you need to get out of your chair now and then to get the blood flowing! My Garmin 235 GPS watch actually lets me know when I’ve had too much butt-time.

    Flooring – Choose Wisely

    You’ve got many choices when it comes to flooring. Carpet is the best choice for sound control and it is forgiving; you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet. The downside is that occasionally you’ll have to hire carpet cleaners or rent a machine at the store. If you’ve got a lot of carpet in your home, go ahead and buy a carpet cleaning machine. It will quickly pay for itself. Who knows how nasty those grocery store ones are.

    Are you after a a more contemporary look? You might consider hardwood or laminate flooring. When it comes to sprucing up your home office, consider that you’ll be spending more time in there than you would a conventional office (Netflix). Plan accordingly.

    Upgrade Your Office walls

    Your office walls are important. You should choose a color that you like, of course, but it should also be a color that is soothing enough to allow you to focus on your work. Small office? Here are some paint illusions to make the space seem larger.

    I hope these home office build-out tips have inspired you and given you some food for thought. Always check the latest IRS guidelines to maximize your deductions. It’s like getting a pay raise! Please participate in the poll on the right-hand sidebar of this article. Thanks!



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    About the Author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.