Block heater cord

In order to start after -30C nights most cars around here have block heaters. Usually the plugs hang out from a radiator slot or just from under the hood. So in that-30C you have to hold the male end and hold the female end while wrangling a -30C stiff cable, while wearing mittens if you have any sense. I wanted the cord to be a bit tidier on the car, and make it so that plugging in is a one-handed thing that can be done more easily with mitts on. So, I took an existing plug and build a Casing for electrical cord plug to mount on a flat surfacenew body for it. I have done 3d modelling before, but this was my first exposure to Autodesk’s Fusion 360. It is the nicest 3d modelling software I have used so far – very easy transition from other tools I have used and it just works. I feel like a total sell-out to use it instead of an open source product like FreeCAD, but it’s like I tried crack, there is no going back.
A friend 3d printed the model for me, we installed it on Friday. The temperature was only -11C and sunny, but with a bit of wind. It was not optimal for playing with small parts and bare hands, but we got it done. For now the setup works, but it will be interesting to see how well the body and the silicon glue pad I used to hold it on will hold up. Generally gluing things in -11C is not a good idea, but this pad did better than I expected.  New blog heater plug on my car

Kat’s Meow (savory granola)

Kat's Meow savory granola
Kat’s Meow savory granola

My friend Kat gave me some savory granola. I really liked it – the little jar she

gave me got nibbled to death without being added to anything. I usually eat it with plain  3%+ yoghurt, even though a bunch usually still gets nibbled right off the cookie sheet (careful, it’s hot). Kat gave me the recipe. I have since tweaked it some more, but I still call it Kat’s Meow.


  • Dry mix:
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1 cup rye flakes
    • 1/2 cup buckwheat
    • 1 cup pecan pieces
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
    • 1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
    • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (to taste)
    • 2-4 tbsp dried rosemary (to taste, but this is what really makes this stuff smell good!)
    • 1-2 tbsp dried thyme (to taste)
  • Wet mix
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2-4tbsp grainy mustard
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup


  • pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C
  • combine dry ingredients in a fairly large bowl, and wet ones in a smaller one (the oil and mustard are kind of hard to combine, I use a tiny little whisk)
  • pour the wet mix over the dry mix and stir really well
  • spread the granola on a cookie sheet (use one with raised edges; you really don’t need to grease it or add parchment paper or anything, usually a plain wash without scrubbing gets it cleaned up)
  • bake for 15-20 minutes; longer gets it a bit crunchier but you start to lose some of the flavour
  • once it has cooled completely, if there is any left, you can store it in a jar with a well-fitting lid

Shim screws

I live in an old brick house in a city with clay soil. When we have a really dry summer the soil dries out and shrinks and everything shifts. Then, when we get enough rain, the soil expands and everything shifts again. If you go to older parts of town, few houses are straight.

In my house these soil changes cause my back door starts to stick, or for the frame to become so lose that it barely latches. I used to fuss around with shims to make this better, but it was a big pain and meant taking all of it apart.

Shim Screws
Shim Screw and crown driver bit

Bring in shim screws. They are a screw with a second screw that spins loosely as a sleeve around the head of the screw. You use a special crown drive bit to drive both the screw and the sleeve into your door jamb. The sleeve only penetrates as far as the jamb, while the screw itself drives into the wall/framing behind. Then you take off the crown bit and adjust only the center of the screw in or out from the frame. Because the sleve spins but can’t slide up or down the screw, the jamb moves with the centre screw.

If the explanation doesn’t quite make sense, there are a bunch of videos online that show it, just google GRK shim screw.

In the case of my back door these gadgets mean that I can now adjust my door in about 2 minutes with one tool, rather than an hour or so with half my toolbox. Like!

Follow an RSS feed on any WordPress site

I use TinyRSS to do most of my daily web reading via RSS feeds. RSS feeds allow me to subscribe to most websites that use content management systems, such as WordPress or mediawikis. Usually there is a little icon for this , but some web sites and templates don’t include them.

To follow a WordPress site that doesn’t provide the link, manually set up a feed and put “/feeds” at the end of the site’s regular URL.

For example, to subscribe to
create a feed with


fern fiddlehead fern fiddleheadI always admire these little guys when they roll out for the year. So much potential!

I had quite a bit of difficulty getting my phone to autofocus on these. I even used a second phone and found similar problems. If I focused on the roots, it would work, but if I tried to focus on the fiddlehead itself it would focus on the background. I wonder if it has something to do with the spiral shape. Went online to find out more. Came up empty on the concept of spirals as a problem for autofocus, but went down the rabbit hole on spirals in general :-)

Removing hot glue with rubbing alcohol

Today I learned that you can remove hot glue with rubbing alcohol. Just drop or dab some around the glue, and then start pulling or prying it off. The alcohol seems to get between the glue and the substrate, it doesn’t dissolve the glue and make a mess of it.

Of course this makes hot glue that much more interesting for temporary fixtures or jigs…


We discovered that a Persian Restaurant nearby a few weeks ago. When we tried it out we asked the proprietor what dishes he would recommend. He suggested  several dishes, including Fesenjoon, a stew with a walnut and pomegranade sauce. He recommended we eat that one last, because it has so much flavour and would cover up the others. He was right. I have since gone back and had it again.

Adding GoodReads and the local library to Firefox Context Search

The Firefox Add-on “ContextSearch” lets you highlight text in a web page and then use search tools of your choice to search on the term. I have it set up with Google, Wikipedia (choose English or German), Google Maps and some other tools that came with it.
Goodreads is a website that lets users review books. It and wikipedia are usually my first stops when looking up a book.

Today it occurred to me that it would be nice to also use it to look up books on Goodreads.

I set up a new search engine option using the URL
I got that URL by searching for a book on the site, then taking the URL
and stripping off everything after the “search?”.

The fact that this works makes me think it might work for other search tools as well.

URL for Winnipeg Public Library paper books:

URL for Winnipeg Public Library ebooks: