can·a·peel (noun) \ˈkan-ə-pēl\ – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.

NJT: Drake Billet Inserts, or, How I Gave My Rubicon a Nose Job

Yesterday, I spent some time working on the Lil’ Red Rubicon. Earlier in the week, I’d ordered a set of Drake grille inserts. For some reason, Jeeps don’t have any kind of mesh to prevent bugs from ending their lives against the radiator fins… some kind of insect genocide, I guess.



With that, there’s a whole bunch of instructions out there for DIY grill inserts/guards, and I’d thought about going that route — it’s easy and cheap, and can be done with parts from the hardware store. In the end, I wanted something a little more “finished” looking. Enter the Drake inserts.

These things are beasts, built of billet aluminum in three different finishes (I chose black; a choice I would later question), and can be installed with no glue or permanent alterations of the grill. Winner, winner, winner!

As I thought about putting these on the Jeep, I was also looking at “blacking out” the nose. Folks usually do this with Plastidip spray-on coating. This stuff is used for a lot of purposes, but I think it’s primarily for putting a rubberized surface on tools for better grip. It’s also dynamite as a removable coating for things like grills, wheels and fenders. I figured that as long as I had the grill off, I might as well black out the grill too.

Pulling the grill was easy. Drake’s instructions were spot-on, and I had the grill off in about five minutes. And then, I was confronted with how committed I was to changing the nose of my virtually new Rubicon.

I sprayed the first couple of coats on the Drake inserts — no commitment needed there. But, then the grill stared at me, challenging me as to whether I was ready to start blacking it out… and then I pressed my finger on the can nozzle. I was committed, and continued on about my spraying.



In the end, I used two coats of ‘dip on the grill, and four coats of red paint on the inserts. Starting out with black inserts was probably a mistake. It took a lot of coats to get the inserts to the color I wanted. Had I started out with brushed aluminum inserts, I think the painting would’ve gone easier … it’s just a lot easier to NOT have to cover up all that black.

Installing the inserts was easy, and re-installing the grill was a piece of cake. Frankly, I love the look. It’s unique, and I did it… both good things!

A close-up is worth a thousand words…



posted by Colin in Jeep and have Comments Off

NDD: Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio

(NDD is New Doodad Day, btw…)

Another day, another new toy. Today’s is the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio.

I’ve been thinking more and more about a keyboard for my iPad, and starting to use it more as a mobile communication device, rather than just as an internet consumption device, which has been my primary use for it. Enter the desire for a keyboard. (Note that I didn’t say need!)

Plug it in (to charge it), insert the iPad into the pretty dang secure holder, and it was ready to pair with my iPad. From unviolated box to paired and typing in about 90 seconds. Pretty cool.

I will mention that the keyboard has a funky feel. It’s a covered, slightly membrane-like keyboard, so the keys have a little funkiness to their feel, both from the fabric and from the short throw action. However, it’s definitely better than typing on the glass, and I’m noticing just through typing this up, I’m getting used to the feel a bit.

More to come, I’m sure, as I play with this gadget on a more regular basis!

posted by Colin in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak and have Comment (1)

Spam, By Any Other Name

So, yesterday I started getting some very peculiar emails from the GoToWebinar folks. The messages implied that I’d signed up for a webinar for “The New $2k+ Per Day Method” and that it was to start later in the day. Apparently, I must’ve really been interested, as I was signed up several times, complete with countdown-like notifications telling me was about to start, had started, and was underway.

Needless to say, and despite what anyone from “Platinum Millennium” (the hosts of this funfest) might say, I’ve never signed up for any such thing. (It appears to be some kind of deal to make money playing music, so I suspect my information was sold to them from some guitar/music site or list.) Sorry Ty Cohen — the apparent mastermind of this opportunity to “see money being made live, in front of my eyes”… I ain’t that gullible. Frankly, at first blush, this guy has an awful reputation out there on the wild and wooly internet.

The funny thing is that the emails are legitimate, and really do look like I subscribed to the Cohen webinar-of-the-hour club. Bravo to GoToWebinar — there’s a way to unsubscribe from this wild man’s spam assault through the GoToWebinar site.

I’ll give him credit for this — this certainly is a different level of spam attack, leveraging a perfect legitimate site to do his awful bidding.

Asta la see ya, Ty! :-)

posted by Colin in Entertainment and have Comment (1)
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NJT (New Jeep Toy) : Welcome Distributing Front Grab Handles

Welcome Distributing Grab Handle

Grab Handles

In the old Jeep, I had velcro grab handles to help get in the front/back seats. They worked, but it seemed like they were always in the way. Turn your head to look out the window and … WHACK … your face is sitting against the grab handle. Blecch.

I’d seen a lot of discussion about various grab handles on the Jeep forums I lurk on, and I noticed a new design I hadn’t seen before. This was not a velcro strap on the roll cage, but instead a steel loop mounted up front, toward the A-pillar. Very cool.

Pretty quickly, I ordered up a set of them from Welcome Distributing. After a couple of really cool emails with the CEO, Ken Welke, I had a set on the way. A few days later, I had ‘em in hand.

Grab Handle Mount

Grab Handle Mount

Essentially, they mount to a couple of pre-existing bolt points in the roll cage, using machined spacers to mount the grab bars out where you can get to them. And man, are they sturdy. I don’t exactly blow away in a small breeze, and they seemed to be able to stand up to me using them with no flexing or any feel of them giving way. That’s a pretty cool thing.

And now that I’ve got ‘em place, I’m kinda hankering for a set for the rear — Welcome Distributing has a set specific for the rear seat of the two-door Wranglers. Now, I don’t expect to have a lot of folks in the back seat… mostly because I’m not sure there’ll be a back set in there most of the time. However, those grab bars for the back look like they’d make terrific mount points for cameras, GPS devices, and anything else that could be mounted with a nice grip mount. I like things having multiple uses!

So, in the final analysis, these things are dynamite. They’re sturdy, easy to install — took me about thirty minutes — and seem like they’ll be useful for far more than just getting in and out of the Jeep. Color me sold!

posted by Colin in Jeep and have Comments (2)

Little Red Rubicon

Lil' Red Rubicon

My 2013 Lil’ Red Rubicon

The Little Red Rubicon is now almost 1200 miles old, so it’s probably time to write up the new rig!

First off, I never thought about having a red — make that a Deep Cherry Red — vehicle. As the sun has come out to play for spring, I’ve discovered that this is a really pretty color. I’m really glad I decided to go that direction. Something about the speckles in the paint really jazz me up. (That’s about as street as I get.)

I also chose to get a two-door this go ’round, instead of a four door. That has proven to be a good decision, although there are some definite differences. For instance, I tried to get in the back seat, and that is one tough proposition, even with the tilt forward seat on the passenger side. I thought I was gonna have to call AAA to rescue me. :-)

Frankly, there’s not a lot of storage space with the two-door model. But, the back seat is removable, and I’ve had it out for a few weeks, enjoying the nearly empty interior. I have reinstalled it recently, just to use as a stowage bench until I can put a locking storage box in the back. You see, the stuff I lob nonchalantly in the back tends to roll around, and I figured I’d suffer a back seat for a while until I get a home for the stuff roaming around in the open cabin.

So… beyond the goodness that accompanies a new vehicle, what’s cool about this Jeep, especially as compared to my ’08 Wrangler Unlimited X?

Let’s start at the back of the new Jeep. One of the things that just killed me with the ’08 was with the swing gate. It wasn’t uncommon to have the gate open, only to have the wind or gravity (she’s a heartless old broad, or so I’ve heard Sheldon say) slam the thing shut… hopefully without my body in the way. There have been some aftermarket toys to keep the door open, and it appears that the Jeep folks paid attention. The new swing gate has a gizmo with a stop on it to hold the door open. Wonderful!

The little storage area under the rear carpet has even been improved. In the storage space are indents for the door hinge bolts and the bolts for the hard top, along with a little space for roof straps or other doodads. This is a really nice touch. To my eye, it kinda looks like the storage space is a little smaller, but there is a nice Jeep rug over the storage area, so maybe that’s a good tradeoff. :-)

My last Jeep had both a hard and soft top, and frankly, I got pretty tired of switching them twice a year. In fact, until I busted the zipper on the back window, I’d just kept the soft top on. But I loved having the soft top available so I could drop the top and get the full airflow it afforded. When I first lowered the two-door’s top, I discovered just how much easier it was to raise and lower. The latch system and edging are much, much easier to deal with, and I think I’ll probably bust my knuckles a little less.

The doors also have a new harness latch. I’m not a huge fan of the locking mechanism on them, and I’ve already seen at least one thread on a Jeep site showing the locking parts broken off intentionally to make it easier to deal with the harness connector. While that’s not a bad idea, the good news is that with a two-door soft top, I have three less of those latches to deal with on a regular basis!

The interior on the Rubi is beautiful, sleek and black. It’s comfy, with redesigned seats that seem to hold my back and backside in just the right way. And there’s tons of power in the thing — one 12V outlet at the subwoofer, another in the dash, and a USB-style connector inside the center console. I also like the new autodimming mirror… it’s even got map lights!

I also put a Garmin nav system in the dash. I have two other Garmin systems — one for running and another for hiking — and this one plays right into those. Can’t wait to get it on the road, and see what it can do.

This new Jeep now has automatic headlights, which are pretty dang cool. I had those on my Chevy’s, but having that in the Jeep is a very nice feature. You can even set the Jeep up so that the headlights and foglights come on automatically — excellent!

Rubi also sports the new 3.6L Pentastar engine. I dunno if it’s the smaller body size, or the new engine, but this thing is like a rocket ship! It really has a lot of get-up-and-go, and is nowhere near as sluggish as my ’08 felt. And with the 6-speed, I’m enjoying the heck outta shifting gears while I travel. I’m all about process, and a stick is about as process-driven as it gets. My only complaint is that the shifting pattern has 6th gear being slightly offset as you slide from fifth. It’s very easy to accidentally slide it toward reverse from fifth… which isn’t a good thing. I’m getting used to it, but it’s not exactly natural.

In all, I really love this new Jeep. It’s a huge improvement over my ’08, and moving to a two-door really suits me. Woot!

posted by Colin in Jeep and have Comments (2)

Undy 5000 Course

I finally uploaded the data from my Garmin 310XT for the Undy 5000. Here’s the course map — enjoy!

posted by Colin in Running,Sports and have Comments Off

‘Tis the Season!

The 2013 campaign begins today… Opening day for MLB begins today.  Woohoo!

The Cards don’t open until tomorrow night on the road in Arizona, of all things — you’d think they’d at least open us in the same time zone as the fan base!  Despite that weirdness, the focus tonight is on Texas with a new cross-state rivalry ‘twixt the Rangers and the league-changing Astros.  It’ll be weird not having the Astros in the NL central.  Bunches of history with them and the Cards over the last decade or so…

Tomorrow is only the beginning, and much like the NASCAR start a few weeks ago, I’ll be glued to the twists and turns through the long season that makes up the 2013 season.  Play ball!!!!!

posted by Colin in Sports and have Comments Off

I ran my undies off!!!

Undy 5000 runner!

Your intrepid author!

The Undy 5000 has come and gone, and I ran my race.

OK, so I didn’t set any land speed records, and I didn’t run faster than last year — slower by about two minutes, in fact — but I ran a better race this year.  I was crazy nervous about this race.  You see, this was my first race since Race for the Stars last summer, and while I knew I could run the distance from my treadmill work over the winter, it’s a whole different thing when pounding the pavement.

Add to that the cold, cold weather — about 35 degrees at racetime — and I was a nervous wreck.

Becky brought Bailey, which helped ease my nerves, and while we were standing there waiting to get going, a good friend of ours from work, Scott, showed up to run with me.  Now, I’d tell you that I’m probably taking great liberties with the phrase run with me.  I ran my 5km in just over 51 minutes; Scotty blazed the trail in under 30 minutes!

Like they say, even slow miles are better than no miles.  I’ll take my slow miles, any day of the week.

And my slow miles actually went pretty well.  The course is configured with the finish line sitting atop a rise.  Last year, it’s all I could do to sorta jog (and mostly walk) up that rise.  This year, I zoomed right up it.  Part of that’s probably that I’m in a little better shape this year than last year, but it might also be that I paced myself better this year.  Last year, I zoomed through the first half-mile or more in a big ol’ pack.  This year, I didn’t start in the big pack, and I kept a little more consistent pace throughout the whole course.

Once the race was over, I got a little post-race sustenance, and waited for the Survivor’s Ceremony.  This is a special time for me.  All the survivors gather at the stage, and are honored for their successful fights.  And once they’re honored, folks who’ve lost someone to CRC are brought up, and are honored.  It’s a moving, moving ceremony.  This year, though, the folks from the CCA added a little extra touch.

Each of the survivors got a finishers medal to honor us for running our race, and raising our funds.

I’m not one to toot my own horn, and I’m generally a little uncomfortable when someone does that for me.  This was no exception, and I had a tough time holding myself together when the gal put the medal around my neck.

So I’d call it a success, both personally and for the CCA.  I ran well and strong, I raised some money, and I got a medal.  There’s just not a much better way to start a Saturday morning!

posted by Colin in Cancer,Running,Sports and have Comment (1)

The Undy 5000

Last year, I ran in the Undy 5000 just a few months after having been diagnosed and cured of colon cancer.  The Undy is a fund raiser for the Colon Cancer Alliance, who do a terrific job of awareness, advocacy, and support for colon cancer patients and caregivers.  I’ve been associated with them since shortly after I was diagnosed in 2011.

This year on March 23rd, I’ll be running in the Undy 5000 again.  And of course, I procrastinated getting my donation page out there, but it’s out there now, and you can find it here.  If you’ve got a spare shekel or two, and wanna put ‘em to a good cause, please donate them on my participant page, and know that my feet will be pounding 5K of pavement come March 23rd in appreciation of your donations!

posted by Colin in Cancer,Running and have Comment (1)

Sokath, His Eyes Opened

Okay, so not everyone will get the Tamarian reference, but stay with me here.

A long, long time ago, I started listening to music seriously. My earliest memories of listening to music stretch back to sitting in front of my folks entertainment console in the very early 70s, listening to music on the rock stations of the time in Chattanooga (WGOW, WFLI, WDXB). I was hooked, and found a passion that has stuck with me. I started listening to my folks’ albums — Dean Martin, Trini Lopez, and The Fifth Dimension among many others.

Around 1976, Mom and Dad bought us a turntable of our own, and I began to grow an LP collection that I retained until the mid-80s. That’s when I figured out that my musical tastes were all over the place. I was listening to just about anything, and enjoying most of it. And then in the late 70s, I discovered Pink Floyd.

I’d never heard anything like their music. I fell in love with Animals when I first heard it, and then starting listening to anything from their catalog I could find.

When I was collecting records hot and heavy in the early 80s, I happened upon a quadraphonic copy of Wish You Were Here. And boy, did I want gear to play it on. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to hear that kind of music in that way. Remember, this was before surround sound and all its variants. By and large, if you listened to music, movies or TV, it was in stereo at best. Alas, the gear to reproduce quad music never fell in my hands, and like the rest of my albums, that quad recording was lost to the mists of time.

Fast forward about thirty years. Pink Floyd re-released remastered versions of most of their catalog in late 2011, with three of the recordings — Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall — released in “immersion” editions. Each of these three was released with tons of extra material like live versions, alternate takes, and some video material. For Christmas and my birthday, Becky gave me The Wall and Wish You Were Here immersion editions.

And in the Wish You Were Here set was that same quad mix!

With some excitement, I dropped the DVD with the quad mix into my blu-ray player, only to discover that my ancient Sony home theater unit couldn’t figure out what to do with that funky audio stream from the player. Urgh. I went back to the internet, doing a bunch of searching about this DVD, to see if I could figure out what I’d need to play this recording. As it ends up, my crusty old receiver just wasn’t up to it, and I needed newer gear.

Not being one who is well-known for his patience, I shot to Best Buy, with a Marantz receiver in mind after doing a little research. They had it, I brought it home, and after a long setup process where the receiver quacked like a duck to understand the acoustics of the room (a la Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory — about 45 seconds into this clip), I was finally ready to listen.

I laid on my back on the basement floor, one speaker off each limb like some whacky hi-fi drawing and quartering, and I listened. And I was stunned.

It’s hard to describe to folks who’ve had 5.1, 7.1 and other exotic soundfields available to them all their lives exactly what it’s like to hear a 35-year old recording as though it was brand new. That’s what this was like though — a recording I know backwards and forwards, and suddenly it was new again. I just laid on the floor, eyes closed, and let the music wash over me. There’s just no way to describe what that was like, but finally I understood what all the hoopla about these old mixes was all about.  (Now you can hit the link for the Tamarian reference.)

This is definitely the way music was meant to be heard, and you can bet I’ll be looking for more recordings like this!

posted by Colin in Music and have Comment (1)