Category Archives: free

“Pop!” goes the weasel.

I am a huge fan of free music downloads. I regularly scour the web looking for undiscovered gems. My taste in music varies widely, and so there’s never a shortage of great music available for free (and legally!) as artists strive to make themselves known. A couple of great resources include and as well as who puts out a list of 10 or so free downloads every Sunday.

Today, spurred by a discussion on Reddit, I decided to check bandcamp for classical music. Thats when I stumbled on this awesome orchestra. Their symphonic covers of current pop music actually makes me appreciate some songs that I wouldn’t otherwise give a second listen  I find them reminiscent of the 101 Strings Orchestra that always has a special place on my CD shelf.  I just felt the need to share.



The new face of 101 Strings?


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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in better living, cheap, free, internet, music


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The Best Gifts Come with a Bow

I am truly blessed to have a handful of really great friends.  I am even more blessed to have a handful of really great friends who are also great artisans.  I am equally blessed by the fact that those friends are truly generous.  Recently, one of these great friends stopped by my house with a little gift.

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It’s a 70′ hickory bow, custom built just for me.  A light draw, it sports a 25 lb pull, with a custom cedar grip.  The tips on this Cedar Lodge Archery original are hand-carved purple heart.  The bow is even monogrammed on the belly with my last name (not shown) and one of my favorite Bible verses.  The bowyer was kind enough to pose with the bow so that I could show it off.

Thanks Prof!


Posted by on July 11, 2010 in better living, free, friends


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How to Clean Your Vintage Razors

I just put up a new instructable on how to clean your vintage razors!



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30 Minutes to Resolution

Recently, one of our local television stations changed it’s programming. A network known for filling the hours with humorless minority produced sitcoms, suddenly, and inexplicably, decided to load the docket with reruns of some of yesterday’s finest programs. The station now calls itself the “Retro Television Network.”

The afternoon starts with old detective/cop shows from before I was born, and works it’s way through detective shows of my youth as the evening moves on. Yes, once again, the streets are being made safe by the likes of Quincy, Friday, and Magnum. If you like a little more sci-fi with your entertainment, you can also enjoy the likes of talking cars and less talkative angry green monsters.

Why am I bringing all this up? Well, after a little over a month of being reunited with some old classics, I’ve got a few observations I’d like to share with you.

1. As I said, we’ve been watching RTN for over a month, and daily viewings of Dragnet have failed to even once yield the phrase, “just the facts, ma’am.”

2. KITT was kind of pissy.

3. The guys from Adam-12 turn up on Dragnet alot. Did they make a big deal and hype the crossover episodes weeks in advance back then, like they do when “Horatio Caine works a case with the New York CSI, in a very eventful must-see episode!”

4. David-he’ll-always-be-Bruce-to-me-Banner is as talented at falling into troublesome situations as Jessica Fletcher* ever was.

5. Higgins and KITT were alot alike, prissy, British, and employed by the extremely wealthy.

6. “Hey, that’s the third time this month that guy has been on this show! Last week he was the victim, and he had black hair!”

7. The A-Team is not coming on at 8:00 despite what the commercials say.

8. “Wow, I never noticed that dynamic when I was a kid!”

9. That feeling of dread that a pending “to be continued” elicits is just as potent with a 30 year old show as it is with a new series.

10. Man, what has happened to TV?

*Point of fact, Murder She Wrote isn’t part of the line-up, much to my Chagrin. The airwaves can always use more Angela Lansbury hotness.

You hear me, network execs?


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Great Customer Service! Thanks Excite! (for nothing) (Excite mail sucks)

Many of you have been following the Excite mail saga.  This is the latest installment.  I got this e-mail from Excite.  Mind you I had a hard time opening it, because an ad on the page kept redirecting the craptacular Internet Explorer before I could read the whole thing.

I am however a little hopeful after reading this.  It says that they are working on a “lite” version– so maybe that will be an improvement over the current abomination incarnation.  It also says that they are considering our suggestions and complaints.  All that does not, however, address my immediate issues.  It is absolutely unacceptable for any website to allow ads that hijack my browser.  Period.  It is ludicrous, given the popularity of alternative browsers and OSes to force your users to use Internet Explorer– that is just sloppy programming and highly unprofessional.  To those who would argue that this is what we get for choosing to use a “free” service, I would counter that it is not free.  Excite funds their operations with revenue gained from selling advertising space on the pages that I visit.  They also get income from people who have payed for upgraded services.  From what I’ve been reading on the web, those people have been done an even greater disservice with the new “upgrade.”

Here’s what Excite says, in a nutshell, “We realize that you don’t like the new Excite Email interface.  We don’t care.  It’s our ball, and if you don’t want to play by our rules, then we’ll just take it and go home.  Your mamma’s ugly and she wears combat boots!”

Here’s the e-mail in it’s entirety (note the fact that quotation marks didn’t render correctly–how’s that for quality control?) :

We are aware that many users are having difficulty navigating through the features of the new Excite Email. In an effort to help you access every feature and make your transition to the new email platform as easy as possible, we have compiled the following answers to the most commonly encountered issues.

*** Can I switch back to the old interface?

The only format for Excite Email going forward will be the current one. While we have no plans to offer a Classic Excite version of our interface, we will forward your suggestions and comments to the appropriate department here at Excite for further consideration.

We are working with our partner provider to offer a “Lite” version that will ease the resource strain on older computers and/or slower connections.

***My email account is missing/being hijacked by another program

As noted within the Excite website and your email account this past month, Excite has begun to upgrade our Email system. We are now partnered with BlueTie who will be providing our new email program, complete with a new interface, brand new features and upgraded storage space.

***Email account is stalled in the loading process and never fully loads

If you are using IE6 to access Excite Email, we have resolved the page issue that caused the page to not load, or stall out while loading.

If this does not resolve the issue, and you have a firewall or similar security program, such as MacAfee, Norton Internet Security, or similar products, this may be causing the situation you are experiencing. We recommend temporarily disabling this software and trying the desired action again. If this corrects the problem, please let us know the product you’re using so we can look into the matter further.

***Can log in to email interface but your Inbox doesn\u2019t load

When you log into your Excite Email, you are brought to the Email hub. In order to see your email, you must click the Email icon at the top of the page.

***Address Book is missing

We are aware that some members\u2019 Address Books were not successfully migrated. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

***I am using a Mac with Safari or Opera browsers

Unfortunately, our email program is not compatible with the Safari or Opera browsers at this time. We suggest using the Firefox browser to access your email.

***Enlarge the Inbox area

You can enlarge your Inbox viewing area by minimizing the Message Preview window. To do this, click the \u201c_\u201d button in the upper right corner of the Preview window. You can minimize the Quota and Folders windows in the same manner.

You can also enlarge the window by dragging the left border further to the left.

You can choose to display smaller icons at the top of the page by right-clicking on the header and choosing \u201csmall\u201d from the menu, or double clicking in the icon area. This will also enlarge the viewing area.

***Composing email

To compose a new message, click the \u201cNew\u201d button.

You can add recipients from your Address Book, by clicking the \u201cTo\u201d button on the Compose Mail window. This will open a panel on the left of the window where your Address Book will be displayed.

Alternately, you can use the Auto-complete function by typing in the first few letters of the email address or name of the recipient to bring up the matching Address Book entries.

***Viewing your entire email message

To view your entire email message, double click the subject line of the email and the whole message will open in a new window.

***Viewing older messages in your Inbox

The messages in your Inbox are separated into groups of 10 by default. To access more emails, click the “1-10” key above your Inbox and select the group of messages you would like to view.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

***Downloading Attachments

Attachments are displayed at the top of your email message under the \u201cTo\u201d field. To access an attachment, click the file name. This will enable a download prompt for you to save the attachment to your computer, or to open it directly from the message.

***Mark as Spam

To mark a message as Spam, right click on the email within your Inbox, then select “Flag as Junk” from the menu.

Alternately, you can also \u201cdrag\u201d the selected messages with your mouse directly to the Junk folder.

We are aware that selecting a message to mark as Junk will open it within the Message Preview window. We are working with our partner provider with regards to this issue. In the meantime, you can select a message without opening it by holding down the Ctrl button as you click.

***Select multiple messages from the list

You can select multiple messages individually by holding the Crtl key while you select each message.

You can also select an entire group of messages by selecting the first message, holding the Shift key, then clicking on the last message of the group.

Once you have selected the messages you wish, right click on one of the highlighted and select your action from the menu.

***Deleting messages

To delete an individual message, right click on the message in question and select “Delete” from the menu.

You can select multiple messages to delete individually by holding the Crtl key while you select each message.

You can also select an entire group of messages by selecting the first message, holding the Shift key, then clicking on the last message of the group.

Once you have selected the messages you wish, right click on one of the highlighted and select your action from the menu.

Alternately, you can “drag” the selected messages with your mouse to the Trash folder, or simply click the Delete icon at the top of the window.

***Empty Trash

You can manually empty your Trash folder by right-clicking on it and selecting \u201cEmpty\u201d from the menu.

You can also set your Trash to automatically empty at the interval of your choice. To access these settings, please follow these steps:

– Click the “Preferences” link in the upper right corner of the screen

– Under the Email heading, click the “General Settings” link

– Scroll down to the “Cleanup” section and select the interval of choice from the drop-down menu

– When you have finished, click the “Save” button in the upper left corner of the settings window.

***Adjust Spam filter settings

To adjust your Spam filtering levels, please follow these steps:

– Click the “Preferences” link in the upper right corner of the screen.

– Within the “Preferences” module, click the “Junk Mail Controls” link under the “Email” heading

– Under the “Junk Mail Restriction” section, use the drop down box to select the level of filtration you would like for your account

– When you have finished, click the “Save” button in the upper left corner of the module

**Please do not reply to this email. This email box is not monitored.**


Posted by on July 28, 2008 in free, internet, update


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Review:St. Charles Shave Mediterranean Citrus Splash

Reviewing a free thing can be tricky. It’s easy to invent great value in something that cost you nothing and has few redeemable qualities; That’s why I’ve waited so long to review this great product, wanting to ensure that I gave it a fair shake. Several months ago, I was the fortunate winner of an e-mail contest hosted by Sue from Saint Charles Shave. For being the 10th respondent, I was gifted with a free 4oz. bottle of Mediterranean Citrus Aftershave Splash.

The first thing that struck me when I opened the box was that the bottle was honest to goodness glass. Over the years, some of the more notable brands of aftershave have ditched the glass bottle paradigm, opting to ignore the sensuous sensibilities of their customers to drive cost down, along with the perceived value of their product (I’m looking at you Old Spice). It’s great to see that Sue has paid attention to her customers and given them something they can appreciate on many levels. The heavy glass bottle is a simple rectangle with beveled edges, and feels chunky–comforting qualities when one is handling glass with wet hands. The label is a simple clear decal with the name of the product along with the quantity. It’s subtle packaging, and that’s exactly what I want in my aftershave–well, either that, or something over-the-top unique that really serves as an eye-catcher.

I really like the smell of Mediterranean Citrus. I’m not sure what citrus fruits grow in the Mediterranean, but it’s groves must smell really nice. The first note that really hit me was a sort of mango or maybe passion-fruit. It has a sort of floral smell to it too… like maybe the blossoms from the fruit trees. It had a very light hint of menthol. The scent is quite “cool” and is reminiscent of a lighter Aqua Velva plus a bit of orange Pez(tm).

Being a fan of the high-alcohol content, glycerine-free, Pinaud after-shaves, I was surprised by the slick/sticky/almost-but-not-quite-thick nature of the lightly golden splash. Having read other reviews, I knew not to use too much– which is very possible if you’re used to using the thinner aftershaves on the market.

This aftershave performs spectacularly. It has just enough menthol to provide that cooling sensation that so many Aqua Velva fans crave with a slightly less overpowering blast of fruit scent. It goes on smooth and provides a nice moisturizing finish to your shave.

I keep comparing Mediterranean Citrus to Aqua Velva for a reason. I get the sense that Sue was striving to make something similar, but not exactly like the Menthol Awesomesauce, pulling out those elements that make Aqua Velva a great product and adding those things that make it an even greater product.

So there you have it, Saint Charles Shave’s Mediterranean Citrus is an excellent aftershave splash, and well worth giving a try.


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Thanks for the Cuppa!

I’d like to take a brief moment to say “Thanks” to TWGW. She gave me an awesome anniversary gift for our 6th. She found an online survey about the Senseo coffee pod machine, and after filling it out, discovered that we qualified for a free one! Granted, we did have to pay $15 shipping and handling, but otherwise, it was a $70 coffee maker for free.

It arrived Thursday, along with a box of assorted pods, a canister for keeping them in, and 3 $20 off coupons to give to my friends. For those not in the know, the Senseo coffee machine uses individual “pods” to make coffee, one 4oz. cup at a time. Actually, if you use 2 pods you can make a full 8oz. mug of coffee. The beauty is that it makes your cup in about 30 seconds with a nice frothy surface.

While I drink my coffee black, I found that it made for a slightly weak java, not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. I’ve heard complaints that 1 pod makes coffee too weak, and 2 pods is too strong, but I’m happy with it. I’ve only used the decaf and the “Paris” sample so far, but I was generally pleased with it’s quality. I am by no means a coffee connoisseur, but I found it to be a quite passable cup of brew. I was surprised to find that 4oz was actually a good sized portion, just enough to satisfy my craving for a little of the magic bean. At only one (half)cup of coffee per pod, I can see where it could get a little expensive, but the expense is countered by the convenience of a perfectly sized and well brewed portion of coffee, with very little cleanup.

I’ve read where some people are making their own pods, and I’ve seen where you can buy reusable pods, though I suspect that’s a messy option. I have a drip coffee maker that makes one travel sized mug of coffee and uses a small metal basket filter, and cleaning it is a royal pain. While I like conservation, and think we should reduce waste in general, I can’t overlook the convenience in this simple design. Thanks again, honey, I love it.


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