Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2018

exhaustion in the internet echo chamber

The "echo chamber" is essentially the experience one receives from various service providers where the results they produce are biased toward more of the same. For example if you have pro DNC searches then you'll see more pro DNC and con GOP results. The mission of the echo chamber is to engage the viewer and keep them connected. But then there are times when I'm exhausted.

Exhaustion comes in several levels. Using the politics as an ongoing example; at some point youtube thought that I wanted to watch more The West Wing and The Newsroom.  My recommendations disproportionately included clips from the TV shows rather than real news. So I wonder what happened in the world of data collection that suggested to them that I wanted to watch those shows? There must have been some tipping point by other like minded people but weird at the same time. One thing about The West Wing and The Newsroom is that there were so many nuggets of similarity to our current president's o…

stakes not steaks

This represents almost all of the stakes I've purchased or was included in whatever gear I've purchased and probably represents over $400 in material.

While I'm not a fan of the high cost of ZPacks' gear they have a reasonable price for their carbon fiber stakes. I previously owned 6 and I recently purchased another 12. I think one broke when I was using it for a heavy duty project; I'm not sure it was supposed to handle being struck by a 3 pound mallet.

One thing I learned recently is that when deploying a stake is should be flush with the ground at some angle (possibly 45deg) from the object being tied down. Deep because is moves the inflection point and gives a stronger hold. Therefore, as to not lose a stake it should have some tag so it can be retrieved and many do.

Flush to the ground but not apply to the long stakes but then you're trading pack volume and weight so you do not have bury the stake.
As a side note, I left a nail stake just slightly above gr…

best bugnet usecase

This is the single best use-case for the SeaToSummit nano insect shield bugnet.

The mosquitoes in the Florida Everglades are HUGE and a plenty. I remember being attacked while I was trying to get a sip of water... but I could not imagine trying to have an entire meal. In n upcoming post I'll try to put together a kit that makes sense. Something like:

optional pole or treenano ponchonano net tentpolycryo groundsheetcarbon fiber stakesdynema cordage... and pads pillows and liners galore

Which one of these - the high cost of UL camping gear

I have been drawn to tarp and mesh tent camping as an obsession when I realized that proper tents have inherent risks and depending on the weather and bugs; tarp-less or net-less are great options. 
The case against proper tents... they weight more than the alternativethey are subject to more failurethey trap a lot of huidity Look at tents this way.... rainfly is to tarp, tent body is to net tent, tent poles are to trekking poles, ground sheet is to groundsheet. The tent is one integrated system that typically demands that you have all the parts all the time (there are exceptions). By contrast the tarps and net tents can use a tree.
Anyway,  so these net tents caught my attention. One is from MSR and the other from Paria.

The MSR is lighter by 6oz but costs twice as much. Since I'm one of those hikers that does not always want to carry a groundsheet the Paria is a better choice as you naturally carry a few extra ounces for extra protection. 
And so the case for Paria is actually be…

10x10 square tarp

This is a huge tarp. It's probably perfect for the exotic pitch but it's a lot of extra gear to carry.

This is a 10x10' tarp with linelocs on all guy out points. The cordage is too thin for these linlocs as soon as I put tome tension on the rope they escaped. Also, a 10x10 might be too big for this configuration or possibly the ridgeline is too long or has just a little too much give.

I was able to get some torque on the lineloc but a trucker's hitch would have been easier.

Like yesterday's video this tarp was bouncing up and down.

cowboy camp with a tarp

Cowboy camping is essentially sleeping under the stars. Usually a sleeping bag or blanket and some ground cover and/or pad. It's also usually when the temp and humidity are favorable;  read NO RAIN.

This person is in the wild and so there are no trees or supportive structures for the birds... unlike my backward. Keep in mind that birds tend to poop just before takeoff...

This tarp is 10 feet from the roof.

And this is what I saw this morning. If I had been cowboy camping this morning I'd likely have poop on me. There were 3 drops on this side and 2 on the other. Where the poop plopped there was some discoloring of the tarp.

all about the trees

The rains started along with the gusts. This tarp is tied to the house on one side which could be interpreted as a tree and a tent pole with stake on the other. In this configuration I could make the guy outs too tight or the stakes would pop. As a result the tarp was flapping like crazy. Granted the rain was falling straight down so I would likely be dry. But you never know.

This is some serious bluster. The tent pole to the left comes off the ground.

The guy outs are simply not tight enough. A proper ridgeline between trees would be a good start.

The big drops in the foreground are from the gutters and the roof. The tarp was redirecting a lot of water.
The tarp is just not tight enough to the ground.

black or blue

After the wind and rain tortured my bivy yesterday I deployed my least favorite tarp from Sea To Summit. In my mind it it too expensive although it's discounted to $99 on amazon. It's 5 point shape  intended for hammock camping but passable for ground sleeping since it it so large. I do like the workmanship and the materials.

This setup is not tree to tree, but tree to ground stake. If I put too much tension on the ridgeline the stake will pull out and so I keep checking it to see what the wind, as little as there is, does not cause the tarp to break free.

Both tarps were wet in the morning but by 9am the black tarp was dry albeit scorching hot. And by 10am the blue was dry and warm, not hot. 
PS: the large escapist tarp is 10x10' and costs $192. And by comparison the Yama 8.5x8.5' costs $150. So you're essentially spending an extra $40 for what seems like prime but might be just free shipping. The difference might simply be that the yama is made to order and the s…

Pillows in the rain

I was away from the house for a few hours when the skies opened up and my shelter is soaked.

While my backyard, normally, has little draft/breeze when the rain arrives all bets are off. I've seen rain blow in both directions in the same storm. I will say, however,

the shockcord was probably not tensioned properlythe foot-end was not stakedAnd for that matter I was not present and I had not weighted my bedding with my pack So it's all on me.  That was 2-3 hours ago.  I've taken apart my bivy, mattress and two pillows hoping they will dry but not too confident based on the overall humidity.
As for the pillows. They suck! Both of them. The synthetic pillow absorbed water and leaks water every time I squeeze.  The air pillow has a soft coating that has simply absorbed some water and is also not dry yet.
I think the primary pillow needs to be an air pillow with no coating at all. Then use a scarf, neck gator, micro towel or schmogg(sp). The microfiber coated pillow is a close se…

net tents where is the breaking point

Cost is still the same function it always was... materials + labor + marketing + profit = cost. Craftsmanship/warranty is a function of labor and materials. But there is something to be said for field repair by slapping some tape on it and placing an order with Amazon to replace it.
Let me emphasize that all gear is subject to damage in the field and part one is always being able to repair it such that you are not at risk. So now can you get a replacement in reasonable time so you can continue etc? It bears repeating that flat or square tarps are easily replaced at any homes store; it might weigh a bit more. Therefore an amazon purchase would be reasonable. I recently ordered a flat tarp from Yama and they quoted me 9-12 weeks delivery. The only thing special about this tarp is it's guy outs and frankly that only makes me dependent on them.

So here are some bugnets that I like.

The bearpaw minimalist was my first net tent. It weighs about 9oz and has a 4in tub. The side zipper can…

too hot and humid

Last night I thought I would try my setup. I was in the bivy(net tent) for 30 minutes before I had to give up. It was simply too hot and not having my gear with me meant I could not really get comfortable.

The configuration was in my backyard which is not very big but has hedges which limit any sort of breeze. I do not know what the DPI is, however, keep in mind that net tents do restrict airflow. The bivy is considered a wide bivy, however, its still kinda small and depending on my position I was touching one side or the other so I was going to get pit had there been bugs.
But there was a lot to learn: Black tarps dry quickly even in the early morning, however, it get's hot... very hotthis is a 6' wide tarp so at 3' high I get good rain coverage... the rain in FL does not exclusively rain down... there is plenty of sideways rain.If I had put the tarp at 4' then I might have received a better breeze but then I would have been a little more exposed.wet from the rain or w…

the amazon hiking challenge

The walmart challenge or the $500 challenge is a challenge to outfit once's self for a hike without going over weight, volume or budget. And so I offer the amazon challenge... accomplish the same thing with a single amazon wishlist - one click purchase.

I was traveling for work and I decided to go for a last minute hike. Wouldn't it be great to click on a wishlist and have the gear arrive the next day and then hit the trail? I wonder about those hikers with exotic and expensive gear with manufacturing lead times. (and ordering things on amazon that are from a warehouse in china with a 2 week delivery window) But I also worry about the cost and weight of the gear. Not to mention that the TSA would prefer that you not pack lighters or fero rods.

And so the challenge begins.... updates to follow. mylist

the case for amazon grocery and wholefoods

QUESTION: does Uber Eat, Grubhub or other food and meal delivery or even eating out most meals make economic sense for the family even if single? And of course there is the nutrition and overall food quality to consider.
Consider this: Look in your fridge, freezer, cupboard and pantry. Then look in the 2nd fridge and the 2nd freezer... and yes the 3rd freezer.
How much of that food is actually eaten? How much of that food expires? How much remains unopened? How much get's freezer burned? What is the optimum size of the fridge/appliance and do you have it filled to the right capacity for efficiency? You've seen "as seen on tv" ads for the forman cooker, the air fryer and so on... what about the appliances we have that do that function? And the cost of operating those appliances?
When I was a bachelor I did not mind going to the grocery every day or two. It was something to do. If I lived in a big city like NY one stumbles into a grocery about every city block or so. And when …

5x9 Black Tarp

With a little rain today I noticed that my brown (stasha) permitted some rain to wet my bugnet. It was a quick shower and everything dried quick enough. So I replaced the 8' stasha with a 9' bearpaw.

I placed the black on top of the brown and exchanged the guy lines until the brown would slip out and the black was taught. The black tarp might cast a slightly better shadow, however, my hope is that it dries faster.

The guy out points were different on the stasha than this one.

I have a pole on the corner with no grommet so I used the compression knot of the corner lineloc to hold the extra pole.

The ridgeline has a Yama grommet. This configuration meant that the ridgeline was going to be closer to the ground by 1 to 2 inches. It's a neat little grommet but I'm not sure how strong/durable it is. The yellow line includes a prusik to add tension to the pole. There are a few more options here which I have yet to explore.

Not pictured here is the bivy. The black tarp has a c…

tarp camping setup

I'm still a fan of Evan Shaeffer and his tarp configurations. While owners of ultralight tents an most tarp setups rely on hiking poles or tent poles Evan goes it aux natural. Here's an experiment that I consider a FAIL.

The tarp is a Snugpak 9x5 Stasha. I reporte my dissatisfaction with this tarp many months ago because the long ends had no loops, however, the corners have reasonable grommets.

This is a variation of an A-Frame. Even though the ridgeline is taught the downward force of the corners is causing the ridge to sag.

At one end of the ridgeline I have a very strong 2GO Systems shock cord. Give that rain is usually accompanied by winds the shock cord should keep the tarp in place. I can remove the shock cord by clipping the line lock directly to the carabiner.

I attached the tarp with a prusik knot through a compression tab.

Originally both ends used a prusik but that did not really work so I replaced it with the tentpole.

Each of the corners had a looser shock cord, l…

hate to call it a gear review

Mattresses and pillows oh my...

I recently purchased a pack liner and so I wanted to open up my pack and clean things up a bit before my next hike; and it's also s much a mental exercise than anything else. I was also surprised because I found extra pillows in here.

From left to right...

giant ziplock easily replaced with a waterproof compression sack or pack liner. Ziplocks are cheap and replaced at any grocery. Pack liners too.Borah net bivy with ridge zipper; it will be placed in the liner/bag without a stuff sack6x9 black tarp in a blue stuff sack. I will certainly leave the sack behind because I need quick deploy and I do not mind if the pack is wet.Sleeping bag liner. This one is for winter and frankly never worked. I was just meant to add a little comfort (more below)polycryo groundsheet. Not really necessary because I consider the bivy generally disposable, however, condensation from the ground means it can collect sand or other bits and if the bivy is to be packed in the l…

vmware, docker-machine, docker swarm, traefik and gitlab

I've been experimenting with my configuration for a while and I have not achieved 100% coverage. Taking lessons learned in this space including configuration as code and lights out DEVOPS and idempotent deploy I'm moving to the next step. One funny thing to note is that I spent 45 minutes looking for my code and notes in every git wiki I had only to recall it was a post and not in the code. RATTS!

Part 1 - Hardware

The system I am running on is a 2017 Intel Skull NUC with 32GB ram and 1TB disk. In 2018 Intel upgraded the hardware and I want to upgrade but for the moment this is what I have. Currently live I'm running a Google WiFi router but that will be replaced with a Ubiquity EdgeRouter-X. The Ubiquity has a unified command center and that makes me happy.

Part 2 - VMware

There is something to be said for running a container OS on bare metal but then there is even more for running VMware on bare metal. Except for some of the overhead one can still allocate 100% of the sy…

Frustrated by docker swarm

My complaint is as much a community issue as it is docker swarm. There are a few things that I like about docker and docker swarm and plenty to hate.
PRO Dockerfile is very much like a makefile creating the same instance each timewith enough nodes the swarm has some survivabilitythe docker networks can be encrypted for additional securitythe docker networks can be segmented stitching the systems that are permitted to communicatewhen combined with traefik there is some dynamic deploy that I like including let's encrypt and SSL CON in recent history it has been reported that there are some bad actors creating fake containers and there is no curated container services that are not stupid expensive. This is a common problem for open source.deploying docker services and stacks can relocate them anywhere in the swarm, however, if you use persistent volumes they do not follow and so you need a distributed filesystem, NAS, or SAN. All of which have their own risks and costs.repairing a dama…

Traefik Docker Swarm Demo

In a previous post I demonstrated a proper installation of traefik with docker. Now I want to expand that demo with docker swarm. Docker Swarm has a similar ingress function to kubernetes and so that makes deployment and high availability easier. Kubernetes is a standard, however, docker swarm is very simple to operate. You are still on your own for the nitty gritty.

Bring the traefik container down:

# docker-compose down

I'm taking the previous example and expanding it to deploy a docker swarm and so the first thing to do is deploy single node swarm. In my case I deployed the VMs on digital ocean and did not deploy a private network and there is no point in setting up a non-encrypted virtual network in public space.)

$ export manager=myhost
$ docker-machine ssh ${manager} "docker swarm init \
    --listen-addr $(docker-machine ip ${manager}) \
    --advertise-addr $(docker-machine ip ${manager})"

WARNING WARNING -- while this example is simple and demonstrates a docker-machin…

My traefik demo

I've been using haproxy as my reverse proxy for a while and it's hard not to like. The challenge for any production system is deploying new services and sometimes updates. One definite weakness is updating https certs. Keep in mind if you believe in configuration as code then haproxy and an all in one deploy might not be a bad thing but that could be applied to various dimensions in the "system".

For the purpose of discussion haproxy and traefik perform a similar function but where haproxy is static, traefik services register. Traefik has two killer features. [1] registration of dynamic services [2] dynamic wildcard support at let's encrypt.


docker, docker-composedocker-machine could be useful if you want to do remote deploys (post for another day)dns + nameservertraefik supported DNS service (I'm using digitalocean in this example)at least one demo service


This was cobbled together from a number of sources...

$ mkdir -p /opt/traefi…