Monday, December 30, 2013

low clearance damage

Brunnhilde is a tall girl. She is the tallest vehicle I've ever owned. There is one potential disaster when driving in a lapse of attention. That is to inadvertently drive through roadway with low clearance. While it may seem like a relatively easy accident to avoid, in reality there are often danger lurking that are easy to overlook. There were many owners of this camper (Westfalia James Cook) experience damage to the high top. Many of these accidents are quite catastrophic.

Friday, December 27, 2013

you too need a galaxy gear

That is if you think this ad is cool

To see what reactions from the web just search for "galaxy gear are you geared up?"

All I can say is - fire your ad agency and your promotions department staff that worked on this.

Love this comment on facebook: "Back when I did not have this "gadget", my life was empty. It had no meaning, an empty void. But after possessing it , I can do anything with passion and commitment. My life has meaning. In fact, I just learned Chinese while flying a plane upsides down blindfolded in outer space! Thanks Samsung!"

Thursday, December 26, 2013

washoku 和菜

I was watching NHK World recently and learnt the word washoku 和菜. UNESCO recently has identified washoku to be designated as a culturally intangible heritage. Washoku 和菜 means traditional home cooking that is passed down by generations. The host said that a lot of younger generation Japanese now have little idea what washoku 和菜 really is. Some surveyed thought it includes food dishes such as curry, fried pork chop (tonkatsu) and fried chicken. These dishes are yoshoku 洋食 - meaning they were western dishes that had been localized.

hummingbird slo mot - part 2


I posted a short clip of hummingbird slow motion video a few days ago. Today I have a chance to capture a few longer clips.

Monday, December 23, 2013

home made hummingbird feeder


To say that I am less than impressed with hummingbird feeders sold on the market is an understatement. Similarly is my dim view on most pet and garden products in general. Most of these feeders sold here are cheap craps made in PROC and sold at inflated price of 10x to 50x of whole sale prices. Hummingbird feeders on the market are the most gaudy and cheaply made products that you can waste your money on. Don't get me started about the red dyed nectar.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

squid, prawns, and celery stir fry - 鮮魷蝦球炒芹菜

My recent diet have not been good to my stomach. I can feel the increase of waistline after a few meals cooking with the sausages I recently made. I wanted to switch to a few meals of lighter dishes.

hummingbird slo mot

It was frigid outside this morning and I went to check to see if the hummingbird feeders need topping up. In very cold days the hummingbirds often will fly up to drink from the feeder while I am still holding it. I thought I could use this opportunity to capture a slow motion video with the iPhone's 120 FPS (4x overcrank in motion picture jargon) video capability.

update: the original video was rendered sub-optimally for Youtube, i rendered this new one 

It is just a very short clip that is rendered to 1/4 speed of real time. Love to see how she can stop and reverse on a dime. Yes, it is a girl anna's hummingbird! You can hear the hum from the wing beat as well as the chirp she made.

servicing brunnhilde's kitchen extractor fan

In this autumn I noticed the kitchen extractor fan in brunnhilde began to labor and make noise. I thought to myself the bearing must be dying due to lack of lubricant. I refrain from using it as much as I could to minimize damage hoping I can extend the life of the electric motor.


asia trip - winter 2013 part 13

The last of my blog posts on my recent trip to Asia.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

asia trip - winter 2013 part 12

More photos from Bangkok that was a part of my recent Asia trip.

thai cookware shopping - part 2

I am a cookware junkie. I cannot resist in buying cookware especially those that has cultural or ethnic significance. I either buy them for functional or entertainment reasons. I should fashion a bumper sticker "I Brake for Cookware".

One of my favorite travel activity when in Thailand is go shopping for Thai cookware. In my recent trip I brought back some more.


Monday, December 16, 2013

watching movies and tv in brunnhilde

I have been wanting to set this up in Brunnhilde for quite some time and finally the time is ripe. I recently upgraded to a iPhone 5S from a 2-year-old 4S. For this application it is my iDevice of choice for watching movies and streaming TV online in the home on wheels.

Friday, December 13, 2013

lilyhammer season 2


How can you not love Netflix? They just sent me an email that the season 2 episodes of Lilyhammer just become available. While it is nowhere near as good as The Sopranos it is quite entertaining.

asia trip - winter 2013 part 11

I have been anxious about hitting the storage limit with the thousands of photos I posted in my blog. I have checked my Google account many time to no avail. Are the photos that I uploaded stored in my Picasa account or in my Goggle storage. I had a hard time telling if Picasa and Google storage (now called Google Drive) one and the same.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

asia trip - winter 2013 part 10

more photos from bangkok

more home made sausages - part 2

Home cooks that constantly pursue new skills deserve a lot of praise. There are a lot going against the amateurs. Buying ingredient in small quantity cost a fortune and most of the time you get sub par quality ingredients. Stuck with toy-like equipment handicaps you. Making small batches is very labor intensive and exhausting. A lot of popular and wildly successful restaurants and chefs gained their fame from a very small repertoire. Many foodie home cooks are extremely resourceful and can cook with great depth and breadth.

asia trip - winter 2013 part 9

The flight from Macau to Bangkok took about 2 hours. Air Asia has the best rate as long as you don't care for the free drinks other airline give you. Their young crew run a very tight ship in each flight. Meals are pre-order so there is no waste.

The down side of flying Air Asia is it uses the older Don Mueang International Airport. Getting from Don Mueang to where your hotel in Bangkok requires going though the worst of Bangkok traffic jam that flows with the brisk pace of molasses.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

asia trip - winter 2013 part 8

Still more photos of the old part of town in Macau.


asia trip - winter 2013 part 7


Off to Macau 澳門 I went departing Hong Kong. I was pondering where to go after Macau. I originally was thinking about Taiwan instead of going back to Thailand. I have been to Taipei in my business travel. I didn't feel that I had explore the city and that was my wanting to return. However I am aware food in Taiwan tends to be quite blend to my taste and I have been reevaluating going there. While I was in Hong Kong I checked in with a travel agency for a self tour package which including visiting Taipei as well as so other places of the island nation. I struck up a conversation with the clerk and he too commented that the Chinese food there looks good when you watch on youtube, but is too blend to his taste. That was enough to put a nail to the not visiting Taiwan coffin for me. I made travel arrangements to go to Bangkok after Macau. This including booking the flight, hotel, and exchanging enough Thai baht (you get better rate once you arrive and exchange with USD) until I checked into the hotel.

Monday, December 9, 2013

asia trip - winter 2013 part 6


This is a continuation of the series of posts on my recent trip to Asia.

more home made sausages - part 1

A few days ago I ventured into sausage making for the first time. I have been sitting on the fence about trying cured meat for the fear of indulging into a diet of too much red meat. What pushed me over the fence is the general poor quality of these products available in my town. Invested in a sausage stuffer I did when I seized on the opportunity of an open box on Amazon. Cannot beat a discount on already discounted item and free shipping. I made 2.5 lb of andouille. The result of my first attempt exceeded my expectation.

asia trip - winter 2013 part 5

In case you wonder why my posts have so many photos. To me my blog posts are substitute of online photo albums like flickr. I had used flickr briefly a couple of years ago but find it very unsatisfying. I also ran into size limit within a week unless I pony up and pay. Then I decided to start my blog using blogger and the rest is history. With thousands of photos I uploaded I have yet to reach my free (albeit I pay google with my priceless privacy) account limit.
With blogger I can selectively upload photos, write comments and contents of the post faster than I can rename each photo. When I first started using blogger, the browser based authoring tool would keel over if I try to upload more than 8 photos at a time. The tool has gone though a lot of enhancement since. Today I tried 120 photos in one shot and it suck them up without crash and burn. I was impressed how far the tool has come along.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

asia trip - winter 2013 part 4


asia trip - winter 2013 part 3

This is my first overseas trip that I travel without my Thinkpad laptop and my Canon 7D DSLR. My Thinkpad had recently been infested with malware and the Canon 7D died due to a power delivery failure. While I spent a lot of time ridding the malware(s), I just do not trust the computer to use for my financial transaction without completely re-installing the OS from scratch. I brought with me my iPad, my new iPhone gold 5s, and an unlocked iPhone 4s. While I missed my Canon DSLR and a notebook computer travelling nearly 6-7 pounds of weight saving in my backpack is very liberating. I never leave them in the hotel so that meant the weight I carry on my back all day long. I do miss the great latitude of the zoom lens and decent DSLR instead of using the iPhone to take pictures. All the photos in the trip were taken with my 4s as it was the phone that I used with pre-paid sim cards.

asia trip - winter 2013 part 2


I have written a few posts on Lin Heung Lau 蓮香樓 and Lin Heung Kui 蓮香居. They are my usual place to go for morning tea (dim sum) whenever I visit Hong Kong.

Monday, December 2, 2013

asia trip - winter 2013 part 1


I generally have very low expectation when it comes to food in airports. I would avoid them if I can. On the day of my departure from Portland International Airport (PDX), I have a rare late morning flight. I used my United miles to book an Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong. I prefer Air Canada over United because the flight has better service.

home made andouille sausage

I have been itching to try my hands on preserved meat for some time. However I have been reluctant to begin for the fear of indulging in a diet of cured meat; well too much meat for the matter. What push me eventually is the want for good quality products that are hard to obtain locally here in Portland, Oregon. I few months ago I acquired this sausage stuffing machine from Amazon. I have done a bit of research. Even for home cook that make sausage occasionally you want to invest in a good quality stuffer with solid construction. A cheap one will simply fall apart after a few use. This one has metal gears as well as mostly stainless steel construction.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

brunnhilde's sewer vent final configuration

Ever since I acquired Brunnhilde the smell of the sewer odor had always been an on-going problem. I have done a lot of investigation and learnt a lot. There is not one single cause for the odor, but rather many potential causes. Of all however there is a glaring problem caused by the poorly chosen location and the design of the vent port. I had written many posts during the investigation. Recently I designed a vent port using a common household plumbing fitting. I have done quite a bit of field testing since and am satisfied with the result. What remain is to add the final touches to make the installation final.

Monday, August 12, 2013

shady boy sunshade for brunnhilde - part 3

Sometimes with a DIY project I underestimate the actually time, planning, and labor that goes into what seemingly a relative simple task. The installation of the Shady Boy sunshade is a good example. When I set out to swap out the Fiamma F45i awning that Westfalia provisioned on Brunnhilde with the Shady Boy I thought it would be a simple cakewalk. Just fabricate an adapter for the Shady Boy and it is done.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

shady boy sunshade for brunnhilde - part 2

I spent a few hours yesterday making significant progress on the Shady Boy sunshade for Brunnhilde. I like the naughty and sinister connotation of the name Wolfgang chosen for this sunshade. I'd never met him but spoke to him on the phone when I purchased the sunshade nearly 2 decades ago.

Friday, August 9, 2013

shady boy sunshade for brunnhilde

I started the rough installation design of the Shady Boy sunshade which replaces the Fiamma F45i awning two days ago. The length of the Shady Boy sunshade (I think sunshade is a better term for the minimalistic Shady Boy) is much shorter than the Fiamma F45i it replaces. The case length does not span the distance of the two mounting points Westfalia provided for the Fiamma awning. This calls for a custom aluminum V-shape channel that serves as an adapter plate. It will span the two mounting points and the Shady Boy in turn be mounted onto.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

eat, drink, no play, and sleep - aug 2013

What do you do when you are literally crippled? Watch a lot of TV and movies and eat. That was what I thought but I get a bit restless. Breaking my foot give me a taste what it is like to have movement challenge. While mine is relatively minor kind of immobility I realize how much difficulties it brings to daily chores.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

odb scan tool for brunnhilde - part 2


I installed the new ODB scan gauge in Brunnhilde yesterday as soon as it arrived. I knew it will take some careful reading and understanding of how the tool derives the parameters to properly set it up. Last night I read through the entire 60 pages of the user manual. As I have mentioned in the previous post so far I found this product to be very well designed and executed. From the carefully written manual, the tasteful website design, truly informative FAQs, the Gauge Availability Estimator that actually works, to the frequent documented known issues of some make and models all add to my confidence in the competent design of this product.

Friday, August 2, 2013

odb scan tool for brunnhilde

I have been resisting adding another electronic gadget to Brunhilde. When I am driving I don't want to be distracted. Having owning this Sprinter based diesel chassis camper for over a year now and learning the servicing of this vehicle I  am now convinced that monitoring a number of crucial parameters of the engine management system is beneficial for an operator to get the most of this complex machine. One of the top benefits is improved fuel economy. With ever increasing fuel cost as well as the desire to minimize the carbon footprint are the major motivations for me to invest in this tool.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

eat, drink, no play, and sleep - july 2013


My playing had come to a screeching haul this past Sunday when I injured my right knee from a bad landing while sailboarding in the Gorge. As luck would have it, my knee injury turned out to be quite superficial. I just strained the medial collateral ligament. I went to the urgent care center on the same day and were told to take normal care for muscular injury for the next few weeks until it heals. I were to take 2 tablets of Aleve twice a day.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

eat, drink, play, and sleep - july 2013

I have not post for a few weeks now. I have taken a number of road trips with Brunnhilde taking advantage of Oregon's mild July weather this year. The sailboarding season here is in full swing and we have an incredible July in Oregon. It is the best in recent memory for those like sailing in very strong wind. For the better part of July there have been windy days in the Columbia River Gorge nearly everyday.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

oregon this and that - july 2013 part 2

these guys were having major challenge to jack up the vehicle - they ran out of height range even on a professional shop jack
Just a post with a lot of miscellaneous things without a particular central theme.

Monday, July 15, 2013

attempt in indian cuisine


I have been wanting to learn Indian cuisine. I have not done so up until now mostly because of the need to find rather many spices. In recent years I learnt more about as well as expended my knowledge of spices and herbs. I decided that it is time I give preparing Indian cuisine a try.

brunnhilde's sanitation system field test

In the last two weeks I went camping trips twice. This give Brunnhilde's newly revamped sanitary system a thorough field tests. My regular readers would recall the major revamp projects are the conversion of the US RV style toilet and black water holding tank back to the European cassette type, and the grey water discharge system that I designed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

oregon this and that - july 2013

For the first time I could not come up with a better title for a post. May be there isn't a central theme for what I want to write in this post. The sailboarding season is in full swing and Brunnhilde and I have been spending quite a bit if time in the Columbia River Gorge. We have been "dry-camping" and really enjoy the new enhancements and equipment in Brunnhilde. I refer them as field trials and only through them one really find out how well the designs and implementations fair.

Monday, July 1, 2013

pan seared mahi mahi with parsnip cream sauce

Parsnip is one of the vegetable that has always intrigued me. I have never tasted it nor cooked with it. I first seen it on TV (as seen on TV?) cooking show. I think I can taste from watching and I imagine how it would taste. A few days ago I went shopping and they are sitting there taunting me. I decided to buy one and try cooking with it.

washing machine broke down - part 2



My earthly belongings have been conspiring against me lately. They are breaking down faster than I can repair them. I have been utterly depressed when my washing machine began to emit foul odor of burnt electronic PCB. I thought to myself the sign is not on my side. If one of the printed circuit boards is damage it would be a tall order to fix it as typically they are brand and model specific parts. Finding replacement part for this 18 year old machine would be next to impossible.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

more fish tacos

I have been eating a lot of fish tacos lately. It is amazingly easy to make. I have scored some very good fish from Trader Joe's. I also been cooking with parsnips. What a wonderful root vegetable.

crawfish and clam etouffee


Recently I have been quite fed up with the dumbing down of the cooking shows on my local PBS affliliate station. I started watching BBC Food on Youtube. I was inspired by Floyd's American Pie on Youtube.

brunnhilde's door catch



The door catch is a very important element of the thermal management for Brunnhide. For me the best way to keep the camper cool is to first try passive ventilation. If more help is needed try a solution that does not consume a lot of energy. In Brunnhide the skylight in the bathroom is the most important part of the ventilation. I rely on it when parked and camping. Depends on the weather I would leave it open in one of the three positions. The skylight sometimes is used in conjunction with the low power ventilation fan or just by natural cross ventilation with the other windows or the sliding door.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

a blog with a few words

This weekend I have been doing a few refinements as well as some think-out-of-the-box problem solving on Brünnhilde.

Friday, June 21, 2013

a girl with a secret past


So who is Tatyana? If you have read through some of my posts about Tatyana you would have already know the answer.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

tatyana's fresh water level sensor failure


Just because it's made in Germany doesn't mean it is good. It is the case with Tatyana's fresh water level sensor. Westfalia has been using a similar sensor for a long time now, ever since the Vanagon Camper. The one in my a few months to 25-year old Vanagon Camper still works but not the one in Tatyana.

an dong market 安東超市


I have been shopping at An Dong Market 安東超市almost as long as I first move to Portland from Toronto. It is a medium Asian grocery store. I have seen the up and down of this store over the years. When the few larger supermarket like Asian grocery stores open it had a hard time staying afloat because of the loss leader prices the new stores was offering to rob away customers from existing stores. To me the price difference was so insignificant and I remain a loyal customer.

a new dish is born

I was down to scrapping the barrel as the old timers would say with what I have left in the refrigerator to cook with. Just some week-old vegetable and a tiny piece of pork belly that is also less than prime.