Ol' Dad's List
This page features "stuff" that we -- Rose and Joe -- have used and, as a result of using it,
recommend it to others. This page is in no particular order and you are likely to
find just about anything listed here. We add to it from time to time so be
sure to come back and visit.
These notebooks are made of water-repellent paper -- covers and pages are
water-repellent. The notebooks are intended for use by people who must
make notes outside in all sorts of weather and environmental conditions -- such
as surveyors, field collectors, scientists, and the like. They are not
inexpensive but, for what you get, the price is reasonable. I have used
these for years. Because I am a career military officer, I developed the
habit long ago of carrying a notebook with me to write down whatever. I
don't recall where I discovered "Rite-in-the-Rain" notebooks but I have a stack
of them in my closet and almost always have one in my hip pocket.
Here's a link:
Here's the "Rite-in-the-Rain" 3X5, top spiral-bound notebook.
They have notebooks of every size and configuration -- 3X5, 4X6, shirt pocket,
hip pocket, 5X8, 8-1/2X11 -- you name it. The notebooks come with many
different page styles: ruled, graph, surveyor notes, EMT notes, etc., etc.
They sell waterproof ball point pens, but, I have found a pencil is best for
writing in the rain.
Garmin GPSmap 76Cx GPS receiver
I have owned three different Garmin GPS receivers and this is my favorite.
I also own a Garmin eTrex GPS receiver which also is an excellent piece of
equipment but the 76Cx is my favorite.
The GPSmap 76Cx has a LOT of capabilities; my favorite is the ability
to load maps into the receiver and to set up maps on a computer and load them
into the receiver. The GPSmap 76Cx has a color display, long
battery life, external connections, and is easy to use -- the buttons and
commands are quite intuitive (entering addresses is a bit slow, but, that's what
you expect when you work with an instrument without a keyboard). Also --
the GPSmap 76Cx uses a microSD card to store maps. This allows the
user to insert a large-capacity card so you can carry around a lot of maps.
I have a 1GB microSD card in my GPSmap 76Cx.
Here's a link:
This is a long story, but, in August 2007, we purchased a Mini Cooper
automobile. If you have never seen one of these -- and you may have seen
one and not known what it is -- the Mini Cooper is a classic. It's a
British car; the Cooper company was failing for a number of reasons, so, BMW
purchased Cooper and started making the Mini Cooper. The car retains the
classic Mini Cooper body style and is manufactured in Great Britain but under
the skin the car is all BMW.
Ours came with:
- Leather seats;
- Cold-weather package (heated seats, heated mirrors);
- Sirius satellite radio with lifetime subscription;
- Six-speed automatic transmission with electronic, clutchless
manual shift capability;
- Run-flat tires.
The Cooper is something of a cult car -- a lot of Cooper owners take
advantage of the fact that Coopers are FAST and NIMBLE. The car is highly
maneuverable -- it corners like a cat -- and is very peppy, even with a
4-cylinder, 142 HP engine. The Sport Cooper has a turbo-charged engine and
a 6-speed manual transmission and will hold its own with the likes of big
We like it because of its fuel mileage -- we get 32 MPG driving around town,
36 MPG driving in a rural area, and 42-45 MPG on the interstate. Yes, it's
a small car. We leave the rear seats folded flat and put all sorts of
stuff in the rear -- luggage, groceries, lumber, hardware, you-name-it.
Ours is Chili Pepper Red with a white top. WE LOVE OUR COOPER and
recommend it every chance we get.
Here's a link to the Mini Cooper website:
Pointer Brand denim jeans
I discovered Pointer Brand jeans in the late 1990's. As of around 1998,
Levi's jeans are no longer made in the US. In fact, in 1997, we were
living in Bristol, TN. I had business in Mountain City, TN, which was home
to one of the last Levi's manufacturing plants in the US. Levi closed the
Mountain City plant -- putting 500 people out of work -- and moved the plant to
Mexico. I stood on the loading dock of the plant in Mountain City and
watched as equipment was shrink-wrapped and loaded onto flatbed trailers to be
trucked to Mexico. I was acquainted with a man who had worked in the Levi
plant for several years and was supporting invalid parents. When the plant
closed, he shot himself so his parents could get his life insurance money.
At that point, I stopped wearing Levi jeans and started wearing Pointer Brand
Pointer Jeans are made by the L. C. King Manufacturing Company in Bristol,
TN. All the employees are local people. The plant is non-union
and provides its employees with a full range of benefits and has a pay scale
that's well above the local wage. They make jeans, painter paints,
overalls, and short overalls.
The founder, Mr. L. C. King, raised and trained hunting dogs -- pointers --
and one of his dogs was a champion pointer named Carolina Bill. Mr. King
named the jeans "Pointer Brand" to honor his dogs and a likeness of old Carolina
Bill is on every garment that leaves the factory.
You can order Pointer Jeans online -- here's their website:
One of my favorite parts of their website is the "Pointer People"
section where people who wear Pointer jeans submit photos of themselves.
Can't beat an Estwing hammer. Now, I know that everyone has a favorite
hammer. A lot of carpenters, especially framing carpenters, have started
using the California framers with their curved handle. Some folks don't
like an all-steel hammer -- Estwing makes a full range of hammers -- steel,
fiberglass handle, wooden handle, framing, general carpenter, rock hammer,
engineer hammer, etc., etc. And -- nail guns seem to be taking over
-- but -- have you noticed that carpenters who use nail guns always seem to have
a hammer hanging off their tool belt? I have used Estwings for years
and own a pile of them -- one of almost every size they make.
Timex Bodylink® System
Check out my article about the
Timex Bodylink® System.
Falls Mill stone-ground products -- grits and
First, let's go through an explanation. We are Southerners
and we eat a lot of traditional Southern foods, especially grits and
cornbread. The grits and cornmeal sold in most grocery stores are not
the real item -- over-processed, pasteurized, cleaned-up and tasteless.
Grits is/are an institution in the South. In fact, grits
is similar to any number of porridges made worldwide from coarsely-ground grains
boiled in water until the grain absorbs the water. Those unfamiliar with
real grits sometimes refer to "hominy grits" -- in fact, grits and
hominy are two different items.
Hominy is made from flint or dent corn -- corn with hard kernels
that are dried on the cob then removed and soaked in a solution of baking soda,
lime, or wood ash. This process causes the hulls to soften and swell. The
kernels are then hulled and degermed using friction, then dried. Hominy
retains the shape and size of the corn kernel.
Here's a photo of hominy and corn kernels -- the hominy is the
white stuff. Hominy is cooked by boiling it in water until the kernel
absorbs the water then it's served as a hot cereal.
Grocery-store grits are made from the
milling of corn kernels. The first step in the process is to clean the kernels;
then, the grains are steamed for a short time to loosen the tough outer hull.
The grain kernel is split, which removes the hull and germ, leaving the broken
endosperm. Heavy steel rollers break up the endosperm into granules, which are
separated by a screening process. The large-size granules are the grits; the
smaller ones become cornmeal and corn flour.
Here's a photo of a bowl of grits -- most
of you are familiar with Cream of Wheat -- grits is similar only more coarse.
We don't eat hominy, only grits. Click here for our essay
on grits ( under construction ).
Another traditional Southern dish is cornbread -- an unrisen
bread made from cornmeal and other ingredients. Here's a photo of a "pone"
of cornbread -- cornbread is cooked in an iron skillet which is NEVER washed.
When the cornbread is done, the skillet is turned upside down and the "pone" (
or, loaf ) of cornbread drops out, upside-down -- this is what real cornbread
Click here for a link to our essay on cornbread ( under
Now, to the point
Enough of the preliminaries. For years and years we
suffered through the bland, spirit-less grits and cornmeal offered in most
grocery stores. When we found it, we purchased Jim Dandy brand grits and
cornmeal because they were ground more coarsely than other brands and the Jim
Dandy products seemed to taste more like corn than the other brands.
You see, grits and cornmeal ( from which cornbread is made ) are
made from corn and should taste like corn with a rich almost nutty flavor.
The grits and cornmeal sold in grocery stores just don't make it -- too bland,
no real flavor.
Then, one day, we discovered FALL'S MILL in Belvedere,
Tennessee. Operated by Jane and John Lovett, the mill has been in
continuous operation since 1873. It's a real water-powered stone-grinding
mill and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The
Lovett's operate the mill much as it was operated in the 19th century.
They purchase local corn and they grind cornmeal and grits in small quantities.
By grinding small quantities, they don't store the meal or grits -- storage
allows the ground corn to dry out, thereby ruining the flavor.
They ship only freshly-ground products and they recommend you
keep the product stored in your freezer -- this prevents the ground corn from
losing its fresh-ground flavor and texture. Unlike grocery-store grits
from which the corn germ has been removed, Fall's Mill products are made from
the whole kernel. For this reason, the Fall's Mill product retains the oil
and taste of fresh corn and that's why you need to store the products in the
Here's a photo of our latest shipment from Fall's Mill:
In this photo are three 2-pound bags -- from left to right:
stone-ground multi-grain pancake mix; white corn meal; white corn grits.
Here's a link to the Fall's
Mill website. If you want to order their products, there is a
10-pound minimum order -- so order five 2-pound bags and share with your
friends. They ship promptly -- place your order via e-mail from their
site; they ship the product and send a bill with the shipment; return the bill
with your check; we normally receive products 2-3 days after we place our order.
Garmin Nuvi automotive GPS units
In early 2008 we purchased -- more on impulse than anything else
-- a Garmin Nuvi 260W automotive GPS unit. These units are sold
everywhere; they come from various manufacturers -- Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom
being the most popular ones with Garmin by far the most popular.
Here's a stock photo of our first one, the Garmin Nuvi 260W.
Below is a photo of a Nuvi 200 mounted on the dash of a Toyota
Prius. The device can be mounted anywhere on the car -- but it needs a
clear view of the sky ( to receive satellite signals ) and the driver needs to
be able to see the Nuvi -- so the driver can follow directions.
The device works like this:
The device contains a GPS receiver that receives
location data from the Defense Department's Global Positioning System ( GPS
Using that information, the Nuvi knows where you are ,
direction of travel, and speed.
The Nuvi has loaded into it a detailed set of maps (
North America, Europe, etc., depending on where you live ).
As you drive along the device shows a map on its
screen with your location -- indicated by a little car -- and the display
follows you, showing road and street names as you approach them.
The Nuvi also has a powerful address function -- you
enter into the device the address to which you want to go and it gives you
turn-by-turn directions to that address. For example: My
daughter is somewhat "directionally challenged" -- she's not exactly certain
sometimes how to go from one place to another. I purchased and
installed a Nuvi 350 in her truck. She went to a location over 100
miles away where she had never been before. She simply punched in the
address, followed the directions, and arrived at the front door. She
returned home the same way -- entered the home address, followed the
directions, and arrived at the front door.
I now have installed one of these in every vehicle we own:
Nuvi 650 in our Ford Explorer
Nuvi 260W in my truck
Nuvi 260 in our Mini Cooper
Nuvi 350 in our daughter's truck
And I plan to give my son a Nuvi 350 for his truck.
Here's the Garmin website where you can read more:
Tilley Hats and Caps
Several years ago I purchased a Tilley hat for outdoor wear.
I lost my original Tilley hat in Hurricance Katrina and the company replaced the
hat free of charge. Now, I have three Tilleys:
The Air-Flo Cap:
The T5 is water repellent nylon; the T3 is heavy
cotton duck; the cap is water repellent nylon with a cape that drops down
to protect the back of your head and neck from the sun (it folds up out of the
way), and, a ventilated top to keep your head cool.
More to come -- check back with us later!!