The Biking Videos Start

Well, I’m going to start documenting my adventures, be it video or story telling. I did this video the other day, went on a ride with the wife. Still getting a feel for the FeiyuTech WG gimbal and the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 camera, but I think it’s starting to get better. This was a ride right after we got back from a vacation to New York, so we were hurtin a little bit.



Osprey Raptor 14 Review

I’m going to be reviewing the Osprey Raptor 14. I’m sure this has been done before, but someone might take some things from this not in others. I was originally trying to decide between this and the CamelBak MULE; I’m really glad I went with the Raptor, I’ll highlight a few things below.


**One note: I think this might be an older version, maybe a 2015 model or something. Compared to photo on the website, the design is a tiny bit different. I got it off of Amazon, so who knows. Doesn’t look like much has changed functionally though.


Here’s the overall view:


It’s a nice looking pack. I like the black and grey, it’s nice and compact, and high quality materials are used throughout. Some of the strap excess is tied to the taught section of the strap, and the zipper pulls are a perfect size IMO. I’m not a fan of the designs on the waist strap, I’m not really sure what they are to be honest, maybe wing bones? It would have looked cleaner without them. But there’s plenty of storage and all sorts of things going on, let’s pull it apart and dive a bit deeper.


Here’s the overall with everything unzipped:




Lots going on here. I’m going to start from the bottom of the pack, we’ll get a bit more specific.


Here’s a lower tool compartment:




It has two zippered mesh compartments. The upper one is all open, the lower one is stitched in the center, creating two pockets. In the center, there are two elastic straps, maybe for a mini-pump, suspension pump, or whatever you’ve got  that may be cylindrical. At the bottom of this photo, and the one above, you can see there’s a flap, this goes over the top of this as it’s rolled up, creating a barrier between the mesh pockets and whatever it touches. As some tools may be greasy or dirty, this is a nice touch that you don’t see all too often.

Flanking that pouch is the waist strap. You can see it in the next two photos:






Nice little zippered pouches on each side. Continuing the mesh/lightweight theme, the body-side of these are mesh. Really useful for something you’d like readily accessible. It just barely fits my iPhone 6 when it’s laying flat, but not sure it would when it’s on me and curved. Would be great for keys, maybe to throw your gloves in or something like that. Extra storage is always welcome right? The strap are real nice and solid, good buckles, and I love that they have the clasp attaching the excess to the taught side, so it’s not flapping around in the wind.


Moving up, there’s a top-opening pouch that’s buckled on the top. Here it is:




It’s hard to see in the photo, but at the bottom there is a mesh area. On the front of this there is a loop that you might be able to attach a light or whatever you want to. Not sure I get the mesh piece, but it’s not going to hurt anything.


Right behind that, there’s a zippered compartment, and this is my only complaint about the pack. More pictures!




Nice compartmented pocket, but they’re not easy to use. It’s a side-open pocket, with top-open dividers. I don’t know what they were thinking. It’s difficult to get your fingers in there, can’t put anything long in there because you won’t be able to get it in or out, I just don’t get it. This is the one thing I would change about the pack.


Now, both of those are on the front/inside of the front piece, which is buckled and strapped on and moves forward for more storage. Photo:




Pretty good area, expandable pretty far. Not much to say here. At the top you can see that plastic piece, Osprey says it’s for carrying a helmet. Not sure how that will be in practice, but looks like it will definitely hold a helmet, just not sure how securely.


As you can see, the plastic helmet-holder is on the front of another pocket. I think you know the drill by now:




Not super deep, but it’s more than large enough for a couple phones, and it has a non-scratch material for sunglasses. That’s on the front side of the following pocket:




It goes all the way to the bottom of the pack. It has the mesh pocket there and two smaller ones flanking it on each side. This is lined in the back with a semi-rigid material, to protect it a bit from the hydro reservoir.


I really love the design of the reservoir pocket. The zipper for it goes all the way up and over the shoulder pocket, where the drinking tube goes. A lot of packs have a series of loops or something you need to slide the tube through, but this one you just zip and unzip. Love it. Here it is opened and closed:






Inside the hydro pocket, removing the reservoir, it’s that orange lining again. I’m hoping it’s waterproof, sure feels like it could be. Feels like a rain fly of a tent, similar to that material, but thinner. Finely woven polyester or something like that. And here again, both sides have semi-rigid backing. Some good protection for the reservoir. Here’s that:




Speaking of the reservoir, here she is:






The most prominent feature is the handle on the front. Love that! The CamelBak pouches just kinda flop around and can be difficult to fill and handle, but this handle makes it so easy. Pouch material is good and thick, and the back is very rigid, which gives it tons of protection and stability. Really well designed reservoir. The drinking tube is fine, it’s tube, not really much to say there. I really liked the quick-disconnect of the old CamelBaks, you could disconnect the whole tube and dry it out. I’m sure I could just pull this one off, but this would be something beneficial. In their defense, the new CamelBaks don’t have that anymore either, so not sure if there was something bad about them. The mouth piece seems good, instead of the open/close lever that the CamelBaks have, you turn the entire mouthpiece to a 90* angle to the tube. When it’s at 0* or 180*, it’s closed. You can see it here:



You may not have noticed, but that’s a magnet on the end of the tube, and there’s another one on the buckle of the chest strap. Helps keep it in position, and is awesome. I always used small carabiners on my old packs to hold the mouthpiece so it didn’t swing around, so this is a very welcome addition.


Phew, alright, almost done. On to possibly the most important area for some, the back. Now, I haven’t taken this out into the field yet, probably tomorrow morning, but it seems pretty well ventilated. Of course, we’re following the mesh/lightweight theme here. The pads are actually formed the way your back is, slightly curved. They have slots cut in them, are soft, and I hope they’re made of some material that doesn’t absorb sweat. There are channels running between the pads, should allow for decent ventilation. The shoulder straps are a mesh and material combination, and not sure if you can see in the photo or not, but they are real breathable, can see right through them in parts. Here’s the photo:



One last thing, the warranty. The warranty is awesome! They call it the “All Mighty Guarantee”, and here’s what they say about it on the website:

“Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it. We proudly stand behind this guarantee, so much so that it bears the signature of company founder and head designer, Mike Pfotenhauer.”

Now, there are a couple things that aren’t covered, things like color or delamination (which could be a pack-ruiner after some time), so head to their site to check out the full details:

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll try to remember to follow up to this later on, after I get some field time with it.

More Projects

Well, been a while since I’ve written a post! Lots of things have gone on, tons of photos, but this one is about some new woodworking projects that I’ve picked up. I got two slabs, one elm and one mesquite, and two disks of unknown species (though probably mesquite around here). Here they are:


The elm is most likely going to be a decorative table, and the mesquite will probably end up being an end table. Still undecided on the base for both of them. But I purposely got slabs with inclusions in them to fill them. Epoxy it is! We’ll be putting something in them, decorative rocks or painting the inside, lighting it from the bottom, whatever we can think of. Some good ideas floating around, just have to see what comes to fruition.


Here I started chipping away at the inside of the mesquite, it’s going to take a bit of work:


That’s the bottom, and here’s the top:


Some nice curl around it, looks pretty nice! As you can see though, there’s that big chunk in the middle that needs to be removed and cleaned up, as well as around the edges of the hole, and then the live edges of the slab. A good amount of work to do here.


Then there’s this elm. I’ve never worked with elm before, not sure if this is normal or not, but there are pockets that are like sawdust. They flake and peel away just like it. It’s so soft, and I’m almost wondering if the sawmill did it. Knowing them though, I can’t see that being the case, they are really good over there. Here I used just a wire brush, and this much came out:


Don’t mind the stuff below it. Makes for an interesting piece, but going to make finishing it a bit more difficult.


Here I started chipping away at the bark of the disks:


Not quite sure if I’m going to remove the lighter sapwood, but I think I should. Most people recommend that it is removed, and I did remove it on my last shelves. It’s a good amount on these disks though, so we’ll see.

And I decided to stop for the night after a slip on the bark led to this:


No project is complete without some blood being drawn, right?

Camera Upgrade (D7000 to D7200)

After four years, I finally found a time I was able to upgrade my camera. I have been shooting with a Nikon D7000 since I started in the hobby, and it’s been great to me. It’s what I learned on, I have traveled all over the world to a couple different continents with it, and it’s never given me any trouble. I treat it well, and it treats me well. I don’t recall exactly how many, but I’ve taken at least 25,000 photos with it, probably more. I love it, but I’ve been reaching the camera’s limits. I wanted more.

So I started shopping for a new camera. Came down to two choices; either a Nikon D7200 or a D610. The D7200 is an APS-C crop sensor camera, best Nikon offers. The D610 is Nikon’s entry-level full frame sensor. There are many articles on the pros and cons to each sensor size, so I’m just going to say that in my mind the only reason to stay with APS-C format (Nikon calls them DX cameras) is either telephoto work or cost.

For me, the reason I chose the D7200 was simply cost. All the other lenses I have are DX-format only, so I would have had to either replace them, or live with limits using only the kit lens. Full frame lenses are more expensive on average, so I would not have been able to replace them right now, and using only the kit lens would have left me without any fast (low aperture) or long glass. Lenses can make or break any photographer, and I didn’t want to live with only that one lens.


So, D7200 to my door!




The controls are a little different from the D7000, but most are pretty much the same. Body is a tiny bit larger, which actually feels better in my hand. The processor is upgraded, and it has a larger buffer for shooting sports or fast action. The auto-focus system has been upgraded, and I can notice a difference there. Low-light performance is much better, and higher ISO settings (1600-6400) are still pretty usable, where on the D7000 I wouldn’t want to go near there. The biggest thing I notice is the increased resolution. The D7000 has 16MP, and this guy has 24MP. Now, for a lot of people, 16MP is plenty. That will still allow you to print some large photos. What I like most about the higher megapixel count, in addition to the ability to print larger, uh, prints, is the ability to crop more. I now have the flexibility to crop in on a picture farther with pixelation, something that bothered me with the D7000 photos.

Another thing I like to do is protect my gear. I have it in a bag whenever possible, I try not to set it down on the ground or anything like that, I just try to take care of it best I can. Helps keep it working, and helps resale value. On my D7000, I bought and installed a set of GGS glass LCD covers, and it sure saved me. One day my camera swung and hit something, and it cracked the glass cover. Had that not been there, the LCD would have busted. I’m not trying to sell these to you, I’m just letting you know, I love them and it’s saved me before.



Anyway, enough talking. Here is one of the first photos I took with the D7200:

The Historic Pearl


You can view more on my website ( or on my Facebook page (

Structural Integrity

Well I started this project before I started the blog, so this post is pretty much on the tail end of this build. If anyone is interested in the beginning, just let me know and I’ll point you to where you can find the first steps.


Well I put this down for a couple weeks while I worked other things, but I’m back at it. Here it is standing on its own. All the structural joints are epoxied, and the cross bar was added at the bottom. While the epoxy was setting, the bottom shelf support bar rotated backwards, so now it’s not level. I’ll either have to live with it or shim it, more on that later though.



When I measured for the clearance for the bottom shelf, I measured before I tightened everything. Soooooo, after tightening it was too narrow. Had to notch out each side for the wood to fit between the pipes.




Dry fit. Looks pretty good I think. Tomorrow I’m going to try to spray it. After that, all that’s left is to screw the wood to the supports and screw in the bulbs. Almost there!


New Camera on Its Way!

Well, after 4 years shooting with a Nikon D7000, I’ve decided that it was time to upgrade. I have been lusting over full frame cameras for a long time, but I sat down and went over some things, and I’ve decided to stay with Nikon’s top crop sensor for now. I just ordered a D7200 with the 18-140mm lens. There are pros and cons between the D7200 and the D610 (the full frame I was comparing to), but ultimately decided to go with the D7200 mostly because of cost. Not only of the body itself, which really there isn’t a huge difference there, but more importantly because of the cost of full frame lenses versus APS-C sensor lenses. Right now I only have DX lenses, so it would have been a big change, and would have left me with no long-reach lens for a while. This way, I’ll slowly accumulate FX lenses, and then switch over in a couple years when some new FX bodies are released. I’m confident the upgrades of the D7200 over the D7000 will serve me well for a while. It’s supposed to get here Monday, can’t wait!


I’m a pretty big fan of graffiti. To clarify, I’m a fan of the painting style, and large murals. I don’t like those smaller tags that people seem to love to do on stop signs and the like, those are unnecessary. But large murals, those are really a work of art that sometimes (and often) go either unnoticed or unappreciated.

There is an alley or two directly next to a paint dealer here, called The Paintyard, and one of the alley walls is their building. And every couple weeks, they hold paint jams for artists, invite them to come and paint on their walls instead of the rest of the city. Each jam, the previous painting is cleared, just painted over.

Well this week, I got wind that in honor of the movie release, a couple Star Wars things got painted. Sure enough, took a trip down, and found a couple. Here is my favorite:

The rest can be found here:

And hi-res here:

Roundover and Sanding

Today I got around to sanding all the top edges flat. They weren’t too bad, but they did need a little work. Sanding is one of my, and I think anyone’s, least favorite parts of any woodworking project. I also routed a 1/8″ roundover on the top outside edge, just to give it a little warmer appeal.


Still need to sand the bottoms flat. I need to glue a piece of sandpaper onto a piece of wood, and then just flatten that way by hand. Pretty much from here on out it’s all by hand. Power sanders will take off too much material. I like to feel the wood as I go at this point, you get a feel for exactly where and how much you need to change.

Hinges are in the mail, and I should be cutting the tops off this weekend. Then finally I get to apply some finish.


Five Cheese Spinach/Artichoke Dip

So we are having a potluck tomorrow at work, and I faced a dilemma about what to bring. I figured some type of dip was easy. Searched around and found a five-cheese spinach/artichoke dip. I do like spinach, and plus we could all lie to ourselves and pretend it was healthy because it had spinach in it. Here are the obligatory photos:




It turned out pretty good. Might want to only use one clove of garlic, or maybe even just a little powder instead, seemed like it was a little garlic-heavy. It may also have been the onion, because I put almost a whole onion in there (stupid me, don’t do that, but a half would be pretty good). Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 jar (12 ounces) roasted sweet red peppers
  • 1 jar (6-1/2 ounces) marinated quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  1. Drain (leaving 1 tablespoon liquid) and chop peppers. Drain (leaving 1 tablespoon liquid) and coarsely chop artichokes. Chop onion and basil and mince garlic.
  2. In a 3-qt. slow cooker coated with cooking spray, combine spinach, cheeses, basil, onion, mayonnaise, garlic, artichoke hearts and peppers. Cook, covered, on high 2 hours.
  3. Stir dip; cook, covered, 30-60 minutes longer. Stir before serving; serve with crackers or chips of choice.   Yield: 16 servings (1/4 cup each).

I couldn’t find asiago cheese, so I just used some mix that had asiago and provolone in it. I also substituted feta with muenster, I’m not a huge fan of feta. If your dip is thick after cooking/reheating, just add some milk.


Been a While

I find that interest in my hobbies is revolving. I’ll be really into one hobby for a few months, then get a little bored with it and move on to another, but I typically come back to each one at some point. Some periods last longer than others though. For example, I started playing guitar back in my teens. Was very into that. Due to certain life circumstances, I put it down for a couple years. Then, I started back into it and was playing daily, and in a band playing shows every weekend with 3 hour sets of music. Then about 5 years ago, I moved out of the area where that band was. I dabbled around with the guitar playing just for me for a couple years. But now, I haven’t seriously picked up my guitar in about 3 years. I’ve done a couple week-long stints, but nothing worth noting. I’m waiting for the day when it will come back to the forefront.

Now, photography is along those lines, albeit not as long. My camera has been sitting in its bag for two months now. In the roughly three and half years I’ve owned my Nikon D7000, this is the longest I haven’t picked it up. Maybe just laziness, maybe my recent interest in woodworking has taken precedence, I’m not really sure why. It’s not that I don’t like it any more, because I love creating images, it’s just kind of fizzled out. But the itch is coming back. I need to get back out there.

Anyone else do this with their interests?