A few days ago I read about a Harry Potter book that a bunch of hilarious writers generated with a predictive keyboard called “Botnik“. It appears that you can load any text into it you wish and it will generate a predictive keyboard based on that text. There’s all kinds of stuff there. The tutorial apparently features “The American Woman’s Cookbook” and selected works of H.P. Lovecraft. I decided it would be hilarious to generate recipes based on vintage cookbooks, old grimoires and short stories from old horror writers.
So I present to you The Cake of Neugebauer generated with the help of botnik, based on “Nyarlathotep” by H.P. Lovecraft, “Aunt Caroline’s Dixieland Recipes”, and a non-vodka singed version of “The Necronomicon”.
Please do not attempt to make any of this at home.
I have no idea what a tablespoonful of waters that have raised demons is but it can’t be good for you. Also ‘boiling syrup’ is probably pretty dangerous. Sumerian deity oats are probably just regular oats. Probably.
Cake Of Neugebauer
One cup brown custard
Two pints beaten eggs
One tablespoonful waters that which have raised demons
Two pounds boiling syrup
One cup powdered cinnamon toast
Oats of a Sumerian deity
Preheat oven to three hundred seventy five degrees.
Put all the ancient ones which have been creamed together until smooth into a baking dish. Chill until very little protection against the elder gods remains.
Mix egg slightly into the melted barrier that keeps vigil into the underworld. Add enough water to dissolve the first brown custard. Mix well.
Put together with the assistance of a sumerian deity and pour boiling syrup over toast.
Cream the mixture into oats.
Bake fifteen years or until tender. Serve with crushed olives and the hidden power which might precipitate.
Several years ago I got interested in the origin of Halloween and decided to write about it and Easter. I had planned to do one on Christmas and had compiled all the notes, but at the same time my brother and I started a podcast that ran for two years so all my research efforts went into that. Then I realized I never posted any of that here. So I’m going to do that. But first some thoughts.
To be fair when I started this project I figured I’d find that all Christian holidays were a hundred percent pagan in origin. My working hypothesis was pretty standard. Either early non-Jewish Christians retained their traditions when they converted or the Catholic church just slapped a thin veneer of crosses and Jesus over existing cultural traditions and told people to carry on. When I was a teenager my young evangelical mind had a really hard time with this concept. If it was pagan, you shouldn’t really mix it with Christianity right? Well I’ve grown up and seen that things like the Eucharist and baptism didn’t originate inside the Judeo-Christian world, so we’d have to throw those things out too.
Now that I’ve researched a lot of this stuff, I’m finding that it was a more complex situation. Sometimes something seemed like it originated outside of Christianity but some things came about long after a population converted, or we may have no idea when something started. There’s a carving of a giant footprint in Sri Lanka that at least four different religions have made up a different story about it to ‘depaganize’ it. The Buddhists, Christians and Muslims all claim it was one of their saints (Though I guess both Muslims and Christians hold Adam in the same regard, I do not know how Islam feels about St. Thomas) and the Hindus believe it to be that of Lord Shiva. It really means that the footprint is something sacred, maybe even holy, and they have all agreed to keep it around, and have constructed a story to legitimize their reasons for doing so. I think it’s the same thing with these holidays.
Christmas is far more complicated than Easter or Halloween. With those there are dates you can look at. There’s definite documentation for when Halloween started. Easter is the defining holiday of the faith so it’s relatively simple to sift through all that.
Since Christianity actually cares nothing about the birth of Jesus, only his death and resurrection, Christmas is harder to pin down in its origin. Halloween was definitely started because of a big church dedication, and Easter is just Passover. The day of Jesus birth was important, but it didn’t have enough importance while he was alive for anyone to ask him about it and write it down. Point is, no one even began to care until long after he was gone.
So in the next few articles I’m going to take apart a few of the claims about Christmas and see if there’s anything to the claim that it’s just a big ol’ pagan holiday meant to deceive you into worshipping the devil!
I was given my first pocket knife at six years old. I lost that pocket knife a few years later even though after getting a better one I kept it in a little cedar box which I still have. It’s a real shame too because I think that knife had been given to my father by his grandfather. I don’t remember. The moral of this story is, not all kids keep up with stuff.
Throughout my life my father, brother, sister and I have given each other various pocket knives to carry around for various reasons. I’ve always preferred the multi-use Swiss Army knives, my dad likes carving knives with more than one blade. My brother likes larger locking blade knives and my sister typically always had smaller pen knives, or more realistically our left overs.
A few solutions that worked for me
The Gerber Dime
The knife I’d been carrying for a couple of years has been the Gerber Dime. It’s a small multi-tool that’s helped me fix more than one computer. It has a box opening tool on it so you don’t get tape gunk on the regular blade, which is my favorite feature. The pliers are decent. The little ‘precision’ flat blade screwdriver works pretty well in some Phillips head screws without messing them up. It is not terribly heavy on a key chain. I have the black one and after a few years of carrying it, the paint has stayed on pretty well, and I’ve only touched up the knife edge once. The box opener has needed some help a little more often, but it gets used more.
At the end of the day I liked it but I decided after a few years and as I kept it on my key chain, it made my keys too heavy.
The Leatherman Skeletool
I got this multi-tool a while back and I used to carry it every day. To be honest I find it a bit heavy for my pocket. I like the changeable bits in the screwdriver function though so I tossed it in my pack, which I’ll talk about in another post. Again, I found it too heavy but it’s worth mentioning here.
In my opinion this is the best multi-tool you can buy. I’ve owned a classic Leatherman, and I have a Gerber multi-tool I really like as well, and this one just gets everything right. The two biggest problems I’ve had with other multi-tools (besides the fact that they are usually just toys) are they have too much useless, low quality crap in them, and when the handle opens it is hollow, square and can be uncomfortable to use. This one has some ergonomic design and doesn’t have an awl, four crappy flat bladed screwdrivers, a saw, file, can opener and a small pair of scissors. No disrespect to Tim Leatherman or his competitors but, less is more sometimes.
The Victorinox Mechanic
This is my favorite pocket knife ever. I’ve owned three or four of these and used them heavily. My coworkers have used my Mechanics heavily. I’ve had both the Wenger and Victorinox versions and I like them both, the former more than the latter. You can’t find the Wenger ones anymore, but the Victorinox version is just as good. I use the small knife blade, Phillips driver and pliers on these until something breaks. I know you can just write the company and get the parts replaced. When that happens they don’t get thrown away they get put in the kitchen drawer, bathroom cabinet, office, tool bag and I order a new one. The pliers aren’t especially heavy-duty but for the light duty stuff I normally do, they work great. I’ve built at least one computer using just this knife.
It wasn’t really the weight that eventually made me stop carrying this every day but the thickness. But, sometimes, depending on what I’m about to go, my current one will still get thrown in my pocket.
Gerber EAB Pocket Knife
There are two versions of this knife and it is what I actually carry now. I like this thing and will probably be getting a few of the ‘lite’ versions of it in the future if they are as good as the regular.
It is basically a small folding utility knife. It uses standard utility blades so you don’t ever really have to sharpen it. Just take out the old blade and put in a new one. This means the blade is razor-sharp every time, and more importantly you don’t ever mind using your ‘good knife’ on something awful. If you mess up the blade, forget to oil it, chip it, ding it, or anything like that, you just replace it. You can get 100 replacement blades for around $10 (sometimes $5 if you watch them). You can also use hooked blades and other styles that use the same utility blade format.
I have other knives for other uses, but the EAB is what I carry in my pocket every day now and it does what I need it to. The reason I now prefer this little knife that it basically never needs sharpening. I do not mind sharpening my knives and have multiple ways to do so. It’s just easier to keep a spare blade or two in my toolkit or in my car than to worry about having to cut something with my good pocket knife that I probably shouldn’t then having to wait until I get home to work out the nicks. A five pack of blades at most hardware stores is a few dollars if I don’t have any with me and I need them. For $10 I got a package of a hundred and since they fit multiple other utility knives I own, there’s really no downside.
So I wrote two articles about my every day carry upgrades and the two significant things I changed over the last year or two. One thing I learned about myself was that I don’t like carrying a bunch of extra stuff on my person. Keys, wallet, cell phone, pocket knife, headset and I’m done. No smart watch, no pen, no field notes notebook, none of that stuff. The pen thing is a little inconvenient sometimes but I am usually in an office and there are thousands of pens.
So here’s a list of what I like to call “Semi-EDC”. It’s the stuff I typically carry every day but don’t usually have on my person. Since it isn’t on my person all the time every day, it’s Semi-EDC.
Regular old Surface 3. I don’t believe in laptops anymore. It pretty much does what I need though. I can run Aptana Studio on it, Office 365, remote into work, run Skype and since it actually charges with a microUSB port and not a proprietary cable I don’t have to carry a lot of weird cables around.
I also carry the Surface Pen too. I’ll post an article about why you should maybe consider a tablet over a laptop one of these days.
NiteCore LA10 Flashlight
I’ve got a big old school Maglite at home, but it’s not super practical carrying it everywhere. I was searching around for a smaller aluminum or steel bodied flashlight to carry with me that also didn’t use huge amounts of batteries. I found the LA10 on Amazon. It uses a single AA battery, and has three modes of operation. There is a bright setting, a super bright setting and a ‘beacon’ mode. The light also extends out like lipstick and can be used as a small lantern. This seemed ideal for server closets with no power as well as spontaneous camping trips and such.
The link above comes with an EdisonBright alkaline battery according to the description. I looked the batteries up and all I could find were relatively expensive rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Mine came with a Duracell AA battery that looked like it is labeled for the Japanese market.
I talked about this in my pocket knife article. I really like this multi-tool but I don’t like carrying it on my person all the time so it goes in the bag.
Figured out these are inexpensive, have two output ports and can charge both my surface and my phone no problem. There are companies that sell larger capacity batteries but this one isn’t any bigger than a smart phone in a good size OtterBox.
I highly suggest everyone carry one of these, or something like it. They are really useful little devices and can extend your working day from a couple of hours to all day pretty easily if you are somewhere that power isn’t easily accessible.
I like the 16100 mAh one for the value. I have several power banks and I’ll probably review them in a separate article.
Rav Power Charger
This is an upgrade from the little cheap dual port USB chargers I prefer. It’s also got some Qualcomm circuitry built-in so it can quickly charge certain kinds of devices. I don’t have any devices that are Qualcomm compatible yet, but it’s there when I need it. They make a smaller USB charger that just has the 2.4A ports on it that I like as well.
I thought it was prudent to get a higher quality charger. While I’ve never myself had a device die because of a cheap charger, I’ve heard the stories. The chargers from RAVpower advertise built-in surge protection, as well as overheating and high current protection. Something the little cheap ones just don’t have. The one I have also seems extremely durable. So while it was kind of expensive for what is basically a cell phone charger, I’d definitely recommend it.
Micro USB to Type C Adapter
You’ll read a lot of articles about how bad an idea these are. I haven’t had a problem with this specific brand though. I have two. One for the office and one for my bag. I will say that I have some pretty decent cables though and I don’t use the cables if the ends are bent up. I really suggest investing in some good cables and chargers if you go the Micro USB cable with these adapters. These look like they are engineered really well and the good cables I have fit in tightly. I have a few cheap cables that when I plug them in, they fit really loose and move around inside. I wouldn’t trust that loose connection with my phone.
These saved me a lot of money when I got my Nexus 5x. I like the Type C thing, but I really wish Google had gone with some other quick charge method.
Two Micro USB Cables
I have a retractable USB cable and a regular 10′ micro USB cable I carry as well. I got both off of AliExpress actually. I don’t seem to have a problem with either except the ends on the ten footer are a bit long.
I got a few of these on a flash deal for Christmas a few years ago. I keep one in the car too. They write pretty well and have a glass breaker tip if you need to break a window out or something. I guess this would be considered a decent self-defense item if you needed it. I like it because it’s extremely solid and has a good ink cartridge in it. So besides being a really good pen (most of them I’ve seen on Amazon have good reviews on the pen part) this one at least seems solid enough to be used for a lot of other purposes. Personally, I’ve wedged it into doors to hold them open and jammed my car’s break pedal down to work on the brake light switch.
These are what I like to write with these days. Just a preference over ball point pens.
My first step in a better every day carry was my key chain. Here’s how I applied my two questions to my key chain. My first question is what do I need? The answer seemed pretty obvious. A key chain. I have to carry a key chain because I have several keys I need every day. I began thinking about what I needed, how to solve that need and if anything needed to change to do so.
Because need does not supersede want and they often are the same thing. I decided I wanted a key chain that was much less heavy and bulky in my pocket. Unfortunately huge keychains with lanyards were fashionable where I grew up and a lot of men and women my age still carry them. That was not the case with me, but I still had a lot of unnecessary junk I was carrying around.
I started looking around for ideas.
My dad always had, for as long as I can remember anyway, the best key chain. It has this massive set of key rings with these cool brass quick release things on it that are likely older than me so he could clip on and off the sets of keys he needed for that day. On his work days he might have fifty keys, but on the weekend he just had his house and car keys. Modular components appeal to me. His are the heavy-duty old school version of these:
He gave me one of his when I was a kid but they never really worked for me and I probably lost it a decade or two ago. I always preferred a carabiner so I could also attach a few small tools. I ended up with this one back in 2014 and really loved it, at least for a while.
I ended up also carrying around a Gerber Dime pocket knife, which is great, on my key chain but it made it unnecessarily heavy. It is great for the most common knife related task I have, opening boxes, but when a corrections officer asked me if I wanted a real knife I decided it was time for a change. That was embarrassing.
The Better Key Chain For Every Day Carry
I ended up looking a those key ‘organizers’ that make your key chain into a device resembling a pocket knife. The KeyDisk is the one I ended up getting.
It runs about $20 and can hold up to ten keys which. It also has a little bottle opener attachment in it that has a loop on it that I attached my car key and remote fob to. After careful consideration I figured out that I really only need three keys for my daily life and other keys can just be on separate rings hanging in my house or office.
The result is I have way less stuff in my pocket now. The design does not make it awkward to use the keys as I suspected. I would not put a car key inside the device because it can stick straight out from the ignition and in some cars, it may even prevent you from putting your keys in the ignition at all. Many new cars don’t really use keys anymore so this really isn’t a problem.
The image above shows the blanks with the teeth of the key facing out. I set mine up like this to start with and it seems like a bad idea. There’s no reason I can see that you can’t have the teeth facing inwards to protect both your keys and the stuff in your pocket.
The great thing is, the company that makes these sells other designs so there’s something for everyone. This is the design I almost got but it would have actually made my key chain more bulky than it was before.
This KeyKlip combines the KeyDisk with a carabiner to get the best of both worlds. I don’t have one of these to talk about. I suspect the carabiner would get stuck on pockets a lot though. It does say you can use it as a bottle opener though, and that notch looks like it might have a few uses as well.
I’ve used the regular KeyDisk for about a month now and I really like it. You can click on any of the images above to check them out in detail.