Raspberryfisher's Blog

notes on fishing & travel

Archive for the ‘Life in the back’ Category


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Usually, when I think or write about a muddler, I am referring to a favourite fishing fly, but not in this blog posting.

So here come the change in direction, I have many fishing flies and many other interests. This last fall, we also did some clean-up of the forest around the house – removing some tall trees – pine, spruce, maple and black cherry – which has been milled to substantial fine lumber.

Thus, I am trying to shift my spare time to working with wood and return to art – photography and painting.

As I work on the lathe, I create 3 muddlers out of maple for mixing cocktails, and the one below is a fine muddler, with the top shape like a thistle.


It is simple and to my eye eloquent, which is good, as I need to work on my skills.

And was the cocktail of the month?  The Blood Orange Old Fashion, with the ingredients being:

  • 1 tsp of Sugar
  • 5 dashes of aromatic bitters
  • 3/4 teaspoon juice from a Blood Orange
  • 1 jigger of water, lightly gassed
  • just shy of 2 jiggers of Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • garnish with skin off the Blood Orange

    We experimented with the ingredients, and the runner up to the Bourbon, was a blended scotch – Monkey Shoulder.

the Covid-19 Update

  • I am fortunate, our company focusing on telecom has not seen a lost of business, though measures are being taken to preserve cash. So I am employed, and in fact very busy.

    As I was already working form home, when I was not travelling, there has been little impact, other than adjusting pay (salary and pension reduction) and the halting of travel. So I will say, I have been fortunate.

  • As of this writing, all family members – close in and extended – are healthy.
  • The negative impacts are associated with fishing – our trip to the Bahamas has been delayed to May and I expected to be cancelled.  And though, I have almost always practice my preference for social-physical distancing when I fish, the current quarantine rules would make fishing illegal and subject me to a very expensive fine.

    So I am practicing my casting on the lawn, and thinking about how to make really long furled leaders for my spey rods.


Written by raspberryfisher

2020/04/12 at 01:44

Posted in Life in the back, Wood Projects

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why I do NOT recommend Amazon!

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Misleading, bait and switch, and bad pricing is rampant on Amazon, and here I present some evidence. Sadly, many sellers are using Amazon as an easy medium to sell their material, but may or may not release how poorly there are represented.

This is compounded, by others who make a simple reference to Amazon.

And thus, Amazon, is my last seller of choice.

Lets present a sample case:

Want to buy a CD from the 5 Browns > https://www.the5browns.com/album/no-boundaries/ – their only reseller of CD is Amazon. Goto to the link, and look, the CD is available for under <10 USD$. Great, see buying options

5Browns Promo-1

Opps – Bat and Switch, only one is available, and used and for 15.75. Also looks hokey, Used!  and not available until January 30.  Out of curiosity, I check shipping cost, and the costs rises by 14$.

5Browns US-1And since, I live in Canada and maybe shipping is better, I look to Amazon Canada, and the price rises to 465.24 C$ or 356 US$

5Browns Canada-1

Will I buy this, nope.

Though an exterme, this is common.


Written by raspberryfisher

2020/01/18 at 23:53

Posted in Life in the back

the last wet snowfall

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Dark day with a heavy wet snow that froze to the trees.

a winter snow-1


winter snow-1-2



Written by raspberryfisher

2019/12/18 at 02:08

Posted in Life in the back

Fall snow

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Written by raspberryfisher

2018/12/01 at 20:34

Posted in Life in the back

Stihl 510 vs Husqvarna ProFlex Mower

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My “job” has me defining-providing-managing energy solutions for telecom at difficult locations, and so I am exposed to a vast array of technologies for energy storage and power production. In this role, I constantly validate the effectiveness and performance of power and storage solutions.

So with this eye, I decided to look at what are the benefits and are their real gains with the new battery electric mowers versus my traditional mower?

In short, the answer is yes – get a Stihl!


The attached picture reflect 1/3 of the property I maintain (I am not including the woods behind the raspberry and blueberry bushes well beyond what we can see (on the other side of the house)).

Husqvarna ProFlex 18 with a 42″ Deck and Articulate Steering

The Husqvarna is a well made (fair design) 1999 riding land-mower with 18hp Briggs Stratton Gasoline Engine with Hydrostatic Transmission that supports a garden trailer.

  • With its 42 decks, I can cut the lawn in under 90 minutes.
  • I can consume 3+$ in fuel on a cut.
  • Generate 0.009 Metric tons of GHG (Green House Gas) with each cut.
  • My annual maintenance – from oil changes to overhaul – averages ~ 200$ a year.
  • My fitbit erroneous says I walk 8000+ steps once I am done bouncing around.

Stihl RMA 510 with 1 80 AHr Battery purchased this summer

Is a well made and well design lawnmower. As I see traditional mowers – including the premium brands, such as Honda – making their units cheaper – I appreciate Stihl focus on quality and ease of use.

I also considered Stihl’ service network, so I do expect in 10 years, when I need a new battery, it will be there.

  • Depending upon length and wetness of the grass, I need 2-3 charges to cut the property, which requires about ~200 minutes.
    • It is a slow recharge, so the activity- unless I buy another battery – takes two  sessions (afternoons) that last 50-70 minutes each,
    • Husqvarna is 2.5x faster
  • My cost to cut the property is about 0.15$, based on a burden cost of 0.17$ kwh, as measured by an un-calibrated energy meter.
    • I was surprise how low it was, so I have since calculated (again using my  experience in doing similar work (as my profession)) and confirmed this.
    • Husqvarna is 20x more expensive to operate
  • I generate less than 0.0002 Metric tons with week cut.
    • Husqvarna generates 40x more GHG
  • I expect my annual maintenance will be less than 60$ a year, allocating 40$ a year for battery replacement and an occasional blade replacement.
    • I would expect the battery support 2000 cycles (assuming I do not let it freeze in winter). As I am cycling the battery twice a week with a cutting season less than 8 months, I am generating 80 cycles a year, thus my battery life will be more function of aging chemistry (versus cyclic life). It is reasonable to assume 7+ years (10 is possible), and with the battery after taxes close to 280$, I am allocating 40% a year for battery replacement.
    • Husqvarna maintenance cost 3x than the Stihl.
  • And I am generating about 13000 real steps to cut the lawn.
    • I was once nudged by a old local farmer on an adjacent property to use a push hand mower to cut the lawn for ones health.
  • And the quality of the cut is very good (I would argue, better).


Unless you need a tractor mower, your first choice should  be a good battery operated lawnmower.

I can foresee the day, when gas is frowned upon – rightly so – as quality electric (battery)solutions are available.



I am not on any podium saying you must, should or need to go to an battery operated lawnmower.

I have no sponsors and nothing has been provided for free. I am just a “power-energy” engineer, who can confirm this is a wise decision.


Written by raspberryfisher

2018/09/05 at 05:42

Posted in Life in the back

Zeiss Milvus and more

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There are several different formats of art I appreciate – watercolours, print and very much photography. Of the three, it is photography that is a continuous draw.

So yes, I have made the migration to digital, though trying to hang onto to Black+White on film, but this issue is time.

After many years using the Nikon D600 there are a couple of features on the higher end cameras that I would like – wifi interconnectivity and more focus points – that I had no anticipated when I bought the Nikon.

In this journey, I have settle on the Zeiss (prime) Lens as I want the precise manual focus control, but really like the transition from sharp to soft. And of recent, I completed my collection with the purchase of the Milvus.

So a sampling of my images of recent and some old, illustrating what I like to do with my “seeing”. In all cases, I have cropped and reduce the image to 700pixels, but otherwise no other photo-editing.

For those images not in my backyard, I have identify the location.

The Milvus 50mm Macro

From Yesterday, a tree frog on the sheets last night. Here, I keep the depth of field short to put emphasis on the eyes.

frog 1_DSC2976

frog 2_DSC2978

and earlier, showing a sharp image across the sensor, and ability to hold a strong edge.

DSC_7606 Hosta BW

and continuing with black and white and using what the camera and lens can do

BW DWW_0831

and from my initial experiments showing the blend from sharp to soft. The fancy term is describe this is bokeh.  You need to pick which you prefer.  Judy uses the third image as her background on here computer.

f4 c DSC_7075

f8 c DSC_7077

f22 c DSC_7080

and my background?

dragonfly DWW_9033

Zeiss Distagon 25mm

Then there is my 25mm Zeiss lens. In the world of  high end lens, this lens does not get a lot of love, but I picked for its strength of great wide close-in images, which I did in the following pictures.

bes DWW_4122

bes DWW_4134

taj walkin_7264

Of course, India


Hamburg, Germany

stockholm 7 DWW_1406

stockholm 8 DWW_1421

stockholm 4 DWW_1347

Gamla Stan, Stockholm

ireland 3 IMG_0431

South Coast, Ireland

And returning home, the Zeiss Distagon is not a slouch for landscape

bw DWW_0696

But when I look for grand landscapes, I look for wider, so my new acquisition

Zeiss Milvus 18mm

Between storms 3 days ago, which I have to transform to Black & White.

between storm DSC2949 BW

iPhone 6

and then there is the iPhone, which I also maintain is a good landscape camera

2 IMG_3123 1200

St Malo, France

ireland 1IMG_0418

South Coast (Copper Coast), Ireland



Written by raspberryfisher

2018/07/29 at 20:09

Marketing and Reliability

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Wow, which would you believe?

  • Traditional Philips Tungsten Longlife Bulb that will provide only 1 1/2 years life
  • The Philips LED light for 10 years.

philips reliability

Sadly, I still have bulbs – tungsten – in use after 13 years in our house, but I have yet to see a LED or Compact Fluorescent last 3 years. Sadly, the current generation seem to fail sooner too.

There are many Youtube clips identifying why LED bulbs fail early (as they race to be cheap). Myself, I rather buy a more expensive bulb that will last me of 10 years of use.


Written by raspberryfisher

2018/07/29 at 02:05

NO to iTunes

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So on my last venture, I decided to confirm how many of my purchased songs cannot be played when I am not on the network – 60+%.

Nearly 2/3 of my purchases are not available on my travels – whether in a plane or remote locations through-out the world.

itunes pain


what a waste, and so the lesson with these arbitrary digital leasing rights from Apple and the publishers ….

.. NO to Apple iTunes

and buy the Media and own the song for you life – whether you are at home, in a place or in the desert is the Middle East.

Yesterday, I bought a CD from Stockholm’s First Aid Kit.

first aid kit

so, I continue to be a consumer of music, but I want to listen to the music on my terms.



Written by raspberryfisher

2018/07/29 at 01:51

Posted in Life in the back

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Home Hardware ~ shrinkflation

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In the 80s, when Judy and I lived in the Annex (Toronto), we used the Home Hardware store on Bloor. It was small and amazing what they had in there. The tools we bought then are still in use today, as quality tools.

But with time, as Home Hardware chased the Walmart model of “rollback the price”, we have seen and experience rollback the quality. Though this is a trend that we all have seen appliances, et cetera, it is a trend I try not to get sucked into.  So, we learnt to not buy tape, hand-tools and now screws at Home Hardware, and hence, we infrequently go there.

I keep a stock of Robertson #8 and #10 Wood Screws at hand in bins (from 3/4″ to 3″), and buy in bulk (100+). Here are two screws bought at Home Hardware recently (on the left) and a decade ago (on the right).

thread closeup _DSC1928

The two threads on the recent screws – what is important to hold your work together – are poorly formed, misshapen and the second thread is nearly non-existent. Seriously, is this any better than a spiral nail?

Oh yes, it is smaller and with less metal. If you put it on a fine scale, you will find the new “wood” screw is 12% lighter (less – shrinkflation)!

So, a cautionary tale – beware of companies passing on poor materials, as they chase Walmart – versus differentiating themselves as a supplier of good materials.

Written by raspberryfisher

2018/06/02 at 21:11

Posted in Life in the back

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Albums please

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Okay, I earlier announced my migration from iTunes to albums given the complexity-inconsistency of the application of digital-rights as time moves on. In the past week, I have found another reason – I like listening to albums, as I walk-run.

So I finally getting back to a balance life and getting to spend time doing some long-distance walk with limited running.  My cardio is hanging in, but my leg muscles need some work. So after my 7th consecutive day, I am finding I prefer to take my 60+ minutes pushing my body listening to an album that is well-strung together, such as

  • Chris de Burgh – Spanish Train or Crusader
  • Alan Parson Project – Eve, I Robot

I still think (suspect) great albums are being made, but as the focus has shifted to tunes, I am not sure the same focus is on a theme for many album, but a collection of pop songs.

So I need to rethink-return to Album listening and build a new library, that appreciates well crafted albums.


Todays’ work-out in Johannesburg.

Oh yes, I really enjoy listening to many classical pieces, especially some of the more modern interpretative work – think Quiet City by Aaron Copland – but it is not music for me to walk-run hard to.

Same for Oscar Peterson, enjoying listening to it, but not when pushing myself.




Written by raspberryfisher

2018/04/24 at 23:15