Partially due to the drought awareness (and associated rising water costs) and partially due to my conservation/home improvement hobby, I’ve been looking at ways to save water/energy around the home. For this post, I’ll be looking at faucet aerators for a bathroom sink. The aerator is the piece at the tip of the faucet that creates the stream of water and limits the flow by passing through a mixture of air and water. The average faucet aerator has a flow of 2.2GPM (gallons per minute). I decided to replace this with a 1.5GPM aerator, which is barely noticeable when washing your hands, yet reduces the water use by 32%. What’s the impact? Let’s say this faucet is used for 10 minutes a day — you will save over 2500 gallons of water in one year. This is the aerator I purchased, <$4 (free ship-to-store; brand recommended by my local hardware store who ran out of stock); you will recoup the cost in about 2.5 months. The installation takes about 2 minutes (unscrew your faucet tip, take out old aerator, put in new aerator, screw back in), and since you use your old exterior faucet tip, it’ll look exactly the same. You could also try 0.5GPM and 1GPM aerators as well, saving even more water, and see if you don’t mind the reduced water coverage (you’ve probably seen the 0.5GPM aerators in public restrooms where the faucet shoots a circle of “needles” of water). Note: I wouldn’t change out kitchen aerators since you probably need the high flow for washing dishes.

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I’ve been using f.lux on my computer for a few years now, so I’m glad that Apple has finally implemented this for smartphones (which is becoming the more dominating “screen” people use at night). What this feature does is change the color of your display based on the time of day: warm at night (think sunset), and blue-ish like bright sunlight during the day. Some say this helps you sleep better at night, but at the very least, it’s much more comfortable to look at your screen at night this way. If you’ve updated your iOS, you’ll have to turn on this feature in your settings under Display & Brightness, and if you use a computer at night, I’d suggest trying out f.lux (free for Windows).


Football

04Mar16

I’ve been organizing flag football games for years and have tried a variety of different footballs, including the genuine leather one.  This one is my favorite ball:

Wilson GST Composite Game Football

The main thing about this ball is the grip. It’s very tacky. But what sets this “tackiness” apart is that 1) it lasts a long time (most balls lose that tackiness after a few games) and 2) the grip is still there even when moist (rain, dew, or sweaty QB hands).

In the past, I had found that the NCAA college ball replicas were too “fat” compared to the NFL ones, but even with smaller hands, this one has no issue.  It throws and catches extremely well. Highly recommended.

Originally posted on Amazon on 1/5/2010.


Water Bottles

19Feb16

hydroflask

After years of drinking tons of ice water from reusable bottles at home/work/sports, I finally found a solution I really like and has changed/improved the water intake in my life enough to warrant a post. I’ll jump to the punch line first:
Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Vacuum-Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle with Flip Straw Lid

Here’s my long-winded review/reasons:

1) Vacuum-insulated stainless steel bottles. Advertised as 24hrs cold, 12hrs hot–for real? Yes. If I have some leftover ice cubes in my bottle when I leave work, the next morning when I return, the ice will still be solid (and I think the majority of heat escapes through the lid, not the bottle). This bottle keeps your drink cold, which is particularly important to me when it’s out in hot weather while I’m playing sports. The other great benefit of vacuum-insulated is zero condensation, no “sweating.” Normal bottles leave a puddle on my desk, or get my gym bag all wet when there’s ice water in it. No such issue with vacuum-insulated. Note that other brands have vacuum-insulated bottles too.

2) Wide mouth. There are two problems with narrow-mouthed bottles. a) It’s difficult to put ice cubes in them and b) It’s difficult to clean. Both issues are minimized with wide-mouth bottles.

straw lid3) Flip Straw Lid. Lids are an important part of the water bottle. With conventional bottles, I never liked the lids that you need to unscrew off (takes too much time) and drink directly from the bottle. Stainless steel is too hard to be comfortable to drink from and accidentally hit your teeth. It’s easy to spill onto your face and it’s hard to drink just liquid when you have ice cubes coming out too (filter with teeth). I’ve used sports caps during sports, which is a decent solution; but due to the need to lift bottle above your mouth for gravity to work and the sucking air sound it can make, it’s a nuisance (borderline awkward) for at-your-work-desk/meeting drinking. Flip lids can be nice, but as ice cubes melt to smaller size, they can partially block the hole or worse yet go through the hole and cause unexpected ice in your mouth to try to not choke on. Low water flow rate can be an issue when it comes to sipping (vs suction), especially with ice cubes at the top. I just discovered this flip straw lid recently and it has been surprisingly a big difference-maker. A fast flip top that doesn’t leak, it has a rubber spout that’s comfortable for your mouth, and the straw portion is in the bottle completely (reusable and no bite marks). Drinking from a straw is much faster than sipping from lids/bottles, it has a high water flow rate, and no need to lift/tilt your bottle. Since ice floats, the ice never blocks the straw hole or gets in the way. The entire lid is dishwasher safe so it’s easy to clean (unfortunately, the bottle itself is hand wash only). As a result of all this, I’ve observed that I consume ~2x the water than I used to previously just with the new lid. It also has a finger loop to clip/hold onto. Flip Straw Lid.

The downside? It’s a bit pricey ~$30 but comes with a lifetime warranty for hopefully years and years of use.

The 40oz bottle I have is huge, but I like it a lot since I drink through a few of these a day now; and for sports, I need about that much water for my games. You can purchase a cheaper smaller-sized bottle too though (i.e. $23 for 18oz bottle).  2/2016 Edit: Since writing this review, they have released a 32oz bottle which is probably a more reasonable size for most people. The Flip Straw Lid is frequently out of stock due to demand, but you can get it for $7 from a local REI (free shipping with store pickup when ordered online). 6/2016 Edit: Looks like they’ve updated their line with the Flex Cap. You can get the 18oz, 32oz, or 40oz here.

Originally posted on Facebook on 5/19/2014.

Note: I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you purchase anything on Amazon through my links, I will receive a percentage. My opinions are my own, and I have linked items for your reference. Continue reading ‘Water Bottles’


Cleats

07Oct10

My current pair of cleats (that I use for football and ultimate frisbee) recently broke. Like clockwork, after about a year, my cleats break. The last 3 years I’ve been trying new brands each time; Under Armour (the worst), Reebok, and Adidas.  My cleats break on the edges where the outsole is connected to the rest of the shoe; usually it splits apart on the outside edge of my left foot, and the inside edge of my right foot (I guess I cut harder or more often in one direction). When this happens, I revert to an old old pair of soccer cleats I have until my new ones ship. Wearing these old cleats shows me how significant a difference cleats can make.

The shoes I buy now are football cleats with circular/dot cleats. My old soccer shoes have oval shaped cleats. Turns out the shape of the cleats make a HUGE difference for cutting. With oval shaped cleats, it’s much harder to get the traction necessary to stop and change directions. So if you’re buying cleats for cutting sports such as football or frisbee, keep in mind to get the circular/dot cleats!

EDIT: Also, I always get molded cleats instead of detachable because they are lighter (no metal screw-in base), you get more cleats for traction (detachable usually only has 7 cleats per shoe), and the shoes break before the cleats wear down enough that you’d want to detach/change them anyway. They are nice if you actually care to change the length (if you play on different surfaces) though.


I had a frustrating tech support phone call this morning where the other party couldn’t get the spelling of my email address correct after at least 10 tries. While she knew the phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) etc, I don’t really know it that well. I’ve only picked up on some letters over the years calling customer service lines. So I kept spelling it our normal, and she kept repeating it back to me using the phonetic alphabet, but it was always wrong, soo frustrating. It’d be useful for me to know it so I can spell out things over the phone easier in the future, so I figured I should go look it up sometime and learn it.

Here it is:
alpha, bravo, charlie, delta, echo, foxtrot, golf, hotel, india, juliet, kilo, lima, mike, november, oscar, papa, quebec, romeo, sierra, tango, uniform, victor, whiskey, xray, yankee, zulu. numbers already have pronunciations.
Wiki link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nato_phonetic_alphabet

Next time you get on the phone with support/customer service, and he/she has a thick accent, time to pull this up on your screen.


LT3970

Datasheet

… finally!