Archive for category Home Ec

Crispy Skin Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder: Whoops

The previous times we slow-roasted a pork shoulder, the smoke alarm went off well before the skin crisped. We’d drained the drippings from the pan before crisping the skin, but the residue still smoked up a storm; this time we we left the pool in place to see if it kept the surface cooler and reduced the smoke.

Well, no, it didn’t. This happened in the five minutes between one rotation and the next:

Roast Pork Shoulder - Smoked Kitchen

Roast Pork Shoulder – Smoked Kitchen

Knowing things would get at least a little smoky, I’d closed the pocket door (on the left) and hung a beach towel across the opening into the laundry room (to the right), which kept most of the smoke out of the rest of the house. The smoke detector in the laundry room didn’t go off until I walked through the towel, so my precautions worked pretty well.

Wow, was that skin crispy:

Roast Pork Shoulder - Crispy Skin

Roast Pork Shoulder – Crispy Skin

Plenty of smoke and no fire; the roasting pan has narrow slits for that very reason. Took a couple of hours to vent the house, during which the yard smelled downright yummy.

Next time, we’ll plunk the roast on a lined cookie sheet (with a rim!) and see what happens.



Lightning Talk: Bose Hearphones

The PDF “slides” for a lightning talk I gave at this month’s MHV LUG meeting: MHVLUG Lightning Talk – Bose Hearphones.

You don’t get my patter, but perhaps you’ll get the gist from the pix.

Hearphone - Detail

Hearphone – Detail

Summary: I like ’em a lot, despite the awkward form factor and too-low battery capacity. If you’re more sensitive to appearances than I, wait for V 2.0.

FWIW, I tinkered up a beamforming microphone array with GNU Radio that worked surprisingly well, given a handful of hockey puck mics and a laptop. Bose does it better, of course, but I must revisit that idea.

Leave a comment

Another Failed CFL Bulb

Unlike the last CFL failure, this time I noticed the faint smell of electrical death near the Electronics Workbench, but I couldn’t track it down until the can light over the the Bench didn’t start:

Another Hot-Failed CFL Bulb

Another Hot-Failed CFL Bulb

The date code suggests it’s been in the fixture for over a decade, so I can’t complain. Having two unrelated bulbs fail within a week, after years of service, is surely coincidence. If another fails within a week or two, however, it will definitely be Enemy Action.


Failed Compact Fluorescent Bulb

An overhead light in the Basement Laboratory went dark:

Failed CFL bulb

Failed CFL bulb

One end of the twisty tube got really really hot as it failed!

The Lab didn’t smell of electrical death, so the bulb must have failed while I was elsewhere. Metal enclosures with actual UL ratings suddenly seem like a Good Idea …


Model M Keyboard Surprise

A friend gave me a New Old Stock IBM Model M keyboard, built by Lexmark on 1/30/96. Although I intended to try it out, I first showed it to Mary and it immediately ended up at her desk:

IBM Model M 1996 - media keys

IBM Model M 1996 – media keys

I favor off-lease Dell boxes intended for office use, so the PS/2 plug on the end of the (permanently attached) cable slid right into the PS/2 jack on the back panel. Gotta love it.

She’d been hammering out testcases and doc on Model M keyboards basically forever, so her fingers snapped into position and the room sounds like her old IBM office.

The “101 key” layout predates frippery along the lines of multimedia keys, so I gimmicked the top row of the numeric pad to control the mixer volume and muting toggle:

  • /amixer sset 'Master' 10%-
  • *amixer sset 'Master' 10%+
  • amixer sset 'Master' toggle

While doing that, I found the semicolon key fired at the slightest touch, so I popped the keycap to see if I could frighten it into compliance:

IBM Model M 1996 - dome switch

IBM Model M 1996 – dome switch


It seems Lexmark replaced the classic buckling spring mechanism with less clicky rubber dome switches, even back in 1996, perhaps for use in libraries & suchlike. Come to think of it, this place is more like a library than an office, so muted clickiness seems appropriate.

For completeness:

IBM Model M 1996 - label

IBM Model M 1996 – label


Hickory Shells for Bacon Smoking

Hickory trees run on a triennial cycle and 2017 produced a huge crop of nuts. My trusty Vise-Grip makes short work of the otherwise impenetrable shells:

Hickory Nuts - cracking in Vise-Grip

Hickory Nuts – cracking in Vise-Grip

A nut pick extracts the good stuff:

Hickory Nuts - cracked

Hickory Nuts – cracked

In round numbers, you get twice as much shell as you do nut meat, so there’s plenty of shells left over.

I wrapped 10 ounces of shells in a double layer of aluminum foil, poked two rows of air holes along the package, dropped it holes-up atop the “flavorizer” bars in the propane barbie, and smoked 5 pounds of cured pork belly into some of the finest bacon we’ve ever eaten.

Heated and starved for air inside the aluminum wrapper, the shells became charcoal:

Carbonized hickory shells

Carbonized hickory shells



T-shirt Shop Rags

Small wipes made from worn-out cotton t-shirts absorb most shop liquids, don’t overstay their welcome after short projects, and prevent the deep emotional attachment leaving swarf in the clothes washer. Scissors cutting gets tedious, so mooch a rotary cutter and slash away:

T-shirt shop rags

T-shirt shop rags

Synthetic fabrics don’t work nearly as well as cotton, so pay attention to the labels.


, ,