cabelastentIt has been 11 years since I bought a tent. That last $35 tent served me well over the years but it was always flimsy, it wasn’t great in the rain, and the last time we used it, Oskar ran through the door destroying the zipper.

With Elijah getting to an age where we are considering camping, I decided it was time to stock up on some new gear. Instead of going for another cheapo tent, I decided to buy one that will probably last us for the rest of our lives. Tim and Chelsea bought the 6-person Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Geodesic Tent a few years ago. They’ve had that tent out in a lot of wild weather and it’s still in fantastic condition. Those experiences coupled with a $100-off sale on tents at Cabelas caused me to pull the trigger before even figuring out if Elijah actually likes camping. In addition to the $100-off sale, I was able to ship it to the store which is in another county that has a lower tax rate so I saved quite a bit of money.

Elijah and I picked up the tent last weekend and set it up in the front room. We didn’t set it up fully, but it was enough to make sure that the tent was in good shape and to get him excited about the idea of camping. We’re going to book a quick camping weekend with just the three of us somewhere close by to see how it goes, but hopefully we’ll be getting out a little more often in the coming summers.


John Oliver On Scientific Studies

John Oliver has an HBO news show called Last Week Tonight. We don’t have HBO, but a lot of the clips are on YouTube and I find it an entertaining way to get a perspective on the news that I might not get otherwise. The only catch is that since this is on HBO, it’s sometimes R-rated content .This video is no exception, but the content is so exceptional that i have to content on it. In this 20 minute clip, Oliver gives example after example of click-bait “science” stories that are completely wrong. The news media is so eager to get views and clicks that they will deliberately twist (or lazily ignore) the details to produce a story. It’s out of control and it’s sad how many people fall for them. By default, you should probably disbelieve any scientific study that you hear or read about, especially if it’s from a show like Good Morning America, the Today Show or Fox and Friends. If you’re really going to adjust your life because of a study, isn’t it worth a few minutes of your time to maybe READ the study instead of trusting somebody else’s 3 minute over-hyped review of it?


Our house came with a small Rubbermaid shed in the backyard. It’s a handy place to keep stuff like the lawn mower, but it rapdily gathered so much stuff that it was hard to even pull the lawnmower out.


Last week I decided it was time to build some organization. Thankfully, that turned out to be a very quick and relatively cheap project. The whole thing was built with about 25 2x4s and a bunch of scrap plywood that I already had.

I started out with Sketchup to figure out how I would get all the big items to fit in there. I measured the interior dimensions of the shed and also the dimensions of the mower, the wheelbarrow, etc. It was very helpful to figure this all out on the computer instead of doing it on the fly.


The plan was to build an “attic” and two shelves as well as some places to hang tools along the wall. Floor space is really valuable and I can pretty much fill it up with the mower, generator, wheelbarrow, ladder and cornhole boards. Everything else needs to be off the ground.

I moved all of the contents out onto the patio and covered them with a tarp (which Elijah thought was very interesting.) Then it only took about 4 hours of work to build everything inside. After doing a bunch of nicer woodworking projects, it was kind of relaxing to frame the project out with 2x4s. I covered the shelves with scrap pieces of plywood and before I knew it, the project was done.

Everything fits in there very nicely now and I no longer dread opening the doors to get something out. I still have plenty of empty space that I can use now too.



Truck VIN

Now that Ford has assigned a VIN to my truck, I can use some interesting tools. For example, did you know that the letters and numbers in the VIN tell all kinds of things like what range the gross vehicle weight is in, the type of engine, the plant it was built in (mine is Kansas City) and how many vehicles were built before yours?

Another nifty tool for Ford buyers is COTUS. It’s a website that lets you check the status of your order. You can get to it either at or The sites are notoriously flaky but I finally got the second one to work for my order. As expected, it shows that my truck is “In Order Processing”. That’s the longest phase, but you know I’ll be checking this site pretty regularly!

cotusIt’s amazing what you can find on the Internet if you look around! If you’re in the market for an F150, I highly recommend It’s a goldmine of information.

UPDATE: This afternoon when I logged in, COTUS told me the estimated delivery date was July 9! Let’s see if that holds true…

CrashPlan Success Story

crashplanlogoAll of our photos, including the ones we take on the phone, end up getting stored on our computer. This week, Tyla was looking back at photos from 2013 and she noticed that all the photos from her phone between January 1 and June 6 were gone. Uh oh.

I said I’d take a look but obviously they were nowhere to be found on the computer. Thankfully, it wasn’t a problem. I fired up CrashPlan, told it to show me all the files including ones that were later deleted from the computer and voila, there they were. A couple clicks and I had all the photos back on my machine again.

We’ve been happily using CrashPlan for five years now and this is the first time I’ve used it for a major recovery operation. But even if we never used it, I’d still pay for it. It’s only $60 and that’s cheap insurance.