The perfect, comfy, watch band?


Timex Carriage with cotton strap

After my metal watch band broke on my 12 year old Timex Carriage, I needed a replacement.  I decided against metal due to the coldness in the winter.  And against nylon due to it’s plastic nature and the fact that it just isn’t environmentally friendly at all.  I finally found a band though, made of cotton!  Unfortunately, it is in limited supply because the company is no longer making them.  No matter, I got one and it is SUPER comfy and I think it looks great to boot!

When I ordered the strap from Amazon, it came in after just a few days.  Unfortunately they sent me a 20mm band instead of the 18mm I needed.  I emailed the company, Clockwork Synergy, directly and they resolved the issue by sending me the proper strap as well as a return envelope to send the wrong one back.  They were very friendly as well, so much so that I plan on buying another strap from them soon.  This time I think I might go with nylon anyway, because I really like the “Heavy Duty Nato” (sometimes known as “Zulu”) strap that they sell.

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Saddleback Leather – Sleeve Wallet

I’ve had back problems on and off for a while.  I’ve started going to a chiropractor, and she recommended that I remove the wallet from my back pocket.  It didn’t comfortably carry in the front pocket, so I got a new one that does.  The Saddleback Leather “Sleeve Wallet.”  I know I tagged this Made in USA, but this is actually made in Mexico.  Or at least mine was, they have a USA model now as well.  It holds “up to 12 cards,” though so far I only have three in mine since that is all I need.  I carry license, debit card, and one credit card.  Perfect!  And it fits just right in normal pants pockets without any bulging, even in dress slacks.

Saddleback Leather "Sleeve Wallet" - Picture courtesy of

Saddleback Leather “Sleeve Wallet” – Picture courtesy of

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So US Cellular finally released android 5.1 for my 2013 moto x. And, I love it!

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I’ve never felt as
Weak nor as strong
As I have
The past week long.

Holding the world up
But can’t stay standing.
No sleep on the menu,
Only labor demanding.

We made it through
And 6 days later,
We’ve found ourselves
In a place way better.

I thank the Lord.
I doubt myself.
I’m not fully sure
What this was all about.

All I know is
I did my best.

– Joseph Raymond 2015

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Tracy Nichelle Raymond

On August 18, 2015 our beautiful little girl was born.  Welcome, little one.

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Command line combine pdfs

The other day I needed to combine some pdf files into a single multi-page file.  I hadn’t done this in linux before, so I did some searching on the ol’ internet.  Sure enough, found an easy solution. shared this tool: PDFTK.  This is the perfect tool and works with a little command line magic.

First, install PDFTK with this:  sudo apt-get install gs pdftk

Then run it to combine PDF’s with this: gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOUTPUTFILE=combined.pdf -dBATCH 1.pdf 2.pdf 3.pdf

That command is for where you are combining 1.pdf, 2.pdf, and 3.pdf into one pdf called combined.pdf.

That’s it!

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My acoustic guitars

My mid 1970's Toyota acoustic guitar.

My mid 1970’s Toyota acoustic guitar. Notice the fender washers below the bridge, showing how I repaired the bulging top.

I now have two acoustic guitars, a mid 1970’s Toyota and an early 1970’s Harmony Stella.  They are both inexpensively made guitars and both were given to me.  The Toyota while in high school and just recently, the Harmony.  They were also both trying to blow themselves up for a while.

When I received the Toyota, it had a whole in the top of the guitar, to the right side of the sound hole.  Well, it technically had a sticker over the hole.  I played it like that for a few years, then eventually upgraded the sticker.  Then decided to patch the hole.  I used tissue paper and Elmer’s glue.  Then I painted the quadrant black.  After a few more years of playing the Toyota, the top started literally pulling right off the guitar, bulging up more than a half inch.  At that point I added two aluminum binding posts to pull it back together, with fender washers on the back side of the guitar.  This repair fixed the issue and I still play the guitar on a fairly regular basis, 8 years later.

My mid 1970's Harmony Stella acoustic guitar.

My early 1970’s Harmony Stella acoustic guitar. Just as free as my Toyota and also needing work. All fixed and playing well now.

The Harmony came to me almost unplayable.  It needed a neck reset as the action was more than 1/3 of an inch!  I used a saw to cut the neck heel and then bolted it back together.  The top of the guitar under the fretboard overhang was sunk in a lot too, so I made a bolster from a dowel and glued that in.  It is now ugly, but playable.  Even with the super thick “C” shape neck and poor fretwork, this guitar actually has pretty good tone – I was very pleasantly surprised.

This shows how I cut and then bolted the neck back in place.

This shows how I cut and then bolted the neck back in place.


Interior shot showing the brace as well as the wing nut on the neck bolt.

Interior shot showing the brace as well as the wing nut on the neck bolt.

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Sabadil – Allergy Relief the natural way

Anyone with allergies, you have to try out Sabadil allergy relief. Tasha found it for me. All natural/homeopathic and works better than any regular allergy pills I’ve tried. Plus I don’t feel groggy or drowsy.

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String tension

I’ve been thinking about how much I miss playing a short scale guitar.  The Harmony Bobkat I had back in the day was a 24″ scale and due to this, the strings were very “slinky” and easy to depress.  This is less a factor of the scale and more just basic low string tension.  Given the same size string, the smaller scale guitar will have a lower tension at the same pitch.  But, you can always run a smaller string on a longer scale guitar for the same tension.  Of course this does affect the tone.  Larger strings have more “umph” and put out more voltage across the pickups.  But, for what it is worth, a “normal” size string set for electric guitar is 10-46 and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top runs a set of 8-38, “lite – lite” strings.  His tone seems fine.

There is another problem with light gauge strings though.  They tend to get “buzzy” on cheap guitars with poor fretwork, and they also don’t work well with drop tunings.  Lastly, they require a light touch – something I’ve been working on, but still lack almost entirely.

So I started using a string tension calculator and found that the set of 10’s I was running on the Bobkat would have had about 14.4 lbs of tension on the high e string.  I currently run 10’s on my Telecaster (25.5″ scale) which equates to a tension of 16.2 lbs.  I was thinking I would have to run a set of 9’s to get into the comfy range, but that would actually get me down to about 13.1 lbs.  It turns out, DR (and probably some other manufacturers), has solved this problem and created a set of 9.5 strings.  They run 9.5 to 44.  On my tele that would end up with a tension of 14.6 lbs – perfect.  Some call these string sets “halfsies” because there is a 9.5 and 11.5 string on the top end, the rest are standard whole integers.  So, my conclusion is that whenever I get my fretwork done, I will have it restrung with a set of 9.5’s.  Then things should be buzz free, still be able to drop tune if wanted, and have the easy playing lower string tension I was use to on my old guitar.

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New Made in USA vs Used

I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject in regard to guitars.  Does it make sense to purchase a brand new Made in USA guitar, thus supporting US manufacturing, or a used guitar.  There are benefits to both.  Let me break it down the way I see it.

There are a few things that come to mind when I am buying anything.  First, where is this item made (yes, I really do think this first as I like to support the US manufacturing industry).  Second, what is the environmental impact of this product (how it was made, materials used etc).  Third, price.  I’m not including functionality/features because I wouldn’t even consider an item that didn’t meet those criteria to begin with.

Buying new you get the benefit of supporting any company/manufacturer you choose.  This means in my case, I can hopefully support a US company that makes it’s products here.  This helps keep money within the US economy and keeps jobs around.  Without someone purchasing these products, the company would fail.  But, the downside of purchasing new is two fold.  First there is an environmental impact.  Whether the product is made of virgin or recycled material, there will be some waste and energy put into creating this item.  Second, it will no doubt be substantially more expensive than a used item of similar quality.

Buying used you get the benefit of supporting local business (assuming you buy from a local vendor), though not supporting the manufacturing industry.  This is still keeping money in the local economy, and in some ways, much better than buying new direct from a manufacturer, because you are keeping the money VERY local, within your own community – directly helping people you know and see every day.  There is also virtually no environmental impact, because this item has already been created.  That burden (in my mind anyway), was put on the original purchaser of the item when new.  The price will also be less, so there is a monetary incentive to go used.  Now the downside is that, as mentioned before, you are not supporting the manufacturer at this point.  If everyone did this, they would go under and eventually all used pieces would get sold/worn out and you would no longer have access to these products.  The other downside is that sometimes it is hard to find exactly what you want in a used item, so you may have to make a compromise.

In the end, I normally tend towards buying used.  Though if I can afford it and the environmental costs aren’t too large, I will consider buying new.  In the case of guitars etc, I currently own a guitar that I purchased used.  I have since upgraded many pieces on it, all of which were purchased locally and/or made in the USA.  What it really comes down to is thinking about what you are buying and where you are sending your money/what impact your purchase has on the future.

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