Mar 18, 2013

Be Prepared

How many of you can identify what is pictured at the right? I first encountered one in my grandfather's kitchen. He couldn't find the utensil in the drawer that he needed, so he took out his key chain and opened a can of soup with it. Yes, that is right, it is a can opener. It is a P-38.

In 1942, the P-38 was designed, tested, and actually went into production in less than 30 days. It was originally made for K-rations in World War II, but was used for many years in Korea and Viet Nam for C-rations too. I ran into it again in the mid to late 1970s when I was in Boy Scouts. Nearly all of the adults coming on the camping trips carried them as they have MANY uses (listed below). While not as predominantly used/dispersed because of MREs, I've always carried one or had it handy since then. In fact, that is the only thing I still use in my kitchen.

The Army called it an "US ARMY POCKET CAN OPENER" and "OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I." But, there are several theories on where the designation of P-38 came from. Yes, there is a P-38 fighter plane, and a gun. The US Army sources indicate that it took 38 punctures to open a ration can (like a soup can top). But another theory is because it is 38 mm in size (approximately 1.5 inches). US Marines tend to call it a "John Wayne" because reportedly they watched a training film he was in (before becoming a famous actor) showing how to use it. Does it really matter where the name came from? No, just know what it is called. 

Using a P-38
These are really easy to use. Unfold the cutting edge (pics at right), hook the notch in the middle of the handle against the rim of the can, use a thumb to press the blade into the can. Continue the motion until you have punctured all the way around the can. Easy peasy.  Other reasons I'm rarely without one, there are more, but this is a summary.

  • can/bottle opener                                                                             
  • screwdriver, especially for glasses with the small point
  • when fishing to cut the line, gut and scale a fish
  • clean sole of boot/shoe, cut a stray string from your clothes
  • pick teeth, clean under your fingernails 
  • box cutter, letter opener
  1. Order them online, but check a local Army-Navy or Surplus store. The store here sells them for 38 cents each or 3 for $1. 
  2. Do not keep one on a key chain if trying to go through security at the airport. A lot of the younger security officers don't know what they are, and are confiscating them. Pack it in your checked bag, or simply leave it home.
  3. To make it easier for you, get a P-51 because it is slightly larger (2 inches long) and easier to use. This typically went to the mess hall since they had to open larger containers.
  4. Buy more than 1. I've given so many of these away over the years, I tend to buy 10 at a time.
Overall, they are the lightest multi-tool that you can, and serve a lot of uses. There are so many other things I have used one for, just didn't want to cause you to scroll too much.

Mar 17, 2013

Airport Security Suggestions

Traveling a few times lately inspired some recommendations when someone gets to the airport and has to get through security. They following breaks down the basics of how to get to the gate as efficiently as possible and reduce anxiety.

Arrive about 2 hours before the flight is departing. Monday morning and Friday afternoon is when most business travelers are flying, so there are more people there. The more travelers, the longer all lines will be.

Have your ID ready, you will be asked for it when you get to the desk. Having to dig in a purse or wallet wastes your time and mine if I am standing behind you. Don't bury it back in the wallet or purse, because it will be needed again. There are several more efficient ways to check in:
  • Most airlines allow online check in 24 hours before the flight (on the internet), how many bags you are checking, and print out the boarding pass. When you get to the airport, they may have a special lane for that, and it is the quickest.
  • Most airlines have a "self check-in" where you can use a kiosk to print a boarding pass and then they call you forward to check the luggage.
  • Because of smartphones, check in using it to speed up both of the above points. Make sure the battery is charged, it sucks when you get halfway to security and it can't scan the code. Start over.
  • Do not put a lock on the zippers of checked bags. You will be asked to unlock them, or they will be cut off when going through security.
Security Screening
The most hated part of getting to the gate is the security line. Feels like cattle in a corral on the the way to slaughter. The longest wait, like waiting in line for a roller coaster.  This is why you show up early, especially on busy days.
  • Keep your ID handy, you need to show it again.
  • Be prepared to take off your shoes, you have to do that. Knee high, laced boots? Not a good idea. I use a pair of slip on shoes as my "air travel" shoes to make it easy.
  • Don't wear a belt or a lot of jewelry. You will have to remove all of that too. The least amount of metal on you, the quicker you'll get through security and not set off the alarms.
  • Remove your laptop BEFORE you get to the conveyer, it does have to come out of the carry on bag.
  • Once you retrieve your items from the conveyer, move to the area a little farther away to get redressed and put your things back in your bag/purse/etc. Doing it at the end of the conveyer holds up everyone behind you.
Once through and all ready to go, proceed to the gate. Check the monitors for your flight, it might have changed from what is actually printed on your boarding pass. And listen to the PA system for your flight.

Based on these simple suggestions, I have my check in time down to under 5 minutes and the longest I've waited in the security line was 25 minutes. So, it takes me about a half an hour to get to my gate. Keeping in mind that you typically board 20 minutes before flight time, that takes away almost an hour of my 2 hour wait. I find a cup of coffee and a place to sit, and enjoy people watching. Oh yeah, a final recommendation is to go to the restroom BEFORE you board since it will be quite a bit of time until you can go to the water closet on the plane. Happy traveling.

Mar 5, 2013

Cost of Car Gas Expenses Comparison

Everyone pays attention to what the local gas stations/convenience stores are charging in their area, would be foolish NOT to do that. I ended up in a conversation with a friend about it, but had to use a spreadsheet to explain it as one of darn "math word problems." Here it is (and my results).

Math Problem
Bob drives a company car that gets 30 miles per gallon. He drives 36 miles per day Monday through Friday, to and from work. He passes a station on the way both ways, that is currently charging $3.75 per gallon. He heard about another station that is 2 miles past his office that is charging $3.72 per gallon. He decides on his lunch hour, to go there and fill up. How much did he save?

He didn't, it cost him $0.21 more. WHAT?!? HOW?!? Using the same 30 MPG car at each station it breaks down like this:
  • Stopping at the station on the way home from work, that day he drove 36 miles
    • Cost of gas per gallon is $3.75, cost per mile is $0.125 ($ per gallon / 30 mpg)
    • Cost of the daily drive (cost per mile X miles) = $4.50
  • Going to the station that was farther from work, that day he drove 38 miles
    • 2 miles back, plus the 36 to and from work
      • Only added 2 miles to get back from the station because he used his existing gas to get there in the first place. 
    • Cost per gallon of gas is $3.72, cost per mile is $0.124 ($ per gallon / 30 mpg)
    • Cost of the daily drive (cost per mile X miles) = $4.71
    • Savings? Loss of $0.21
So, financially he lost $0.21 that day, but expand it to a monthly comparison. Same company car, same stations, Monday through Friday mileage, same cost per gallon.
  • Stopping at the station on the way home from work, that month he drove 720 miles
    • 36 miles per day X 5 days per week X 4 weeks in the month
    • Cost of gas per gallon is $3.75, cost per mile is $0.125 ($ per gallon / 30 mpg)
    • Cost of the monthly drive (cost per mile X miles) = $90.00
  • Going to the station that was farther from work, that month he drove 800 miles
    • Cost per gallon of gas is $3.72, cost per mile is $0.124 ($ per gallon / 30 mpg)
    • Cost of the monthly drive (cost per mile X miles) = $99.20
    • Savings? Loss of $9.20
So, if that continued for 12 months, loss of $110.40. All because Bob went an extra 4 miles per fill up each week. The additional miles driven would require more fill ups, so it offsets the "savings" by being 3 cents less expensive. If Bob has to fill up more often, the station sells more gas, which means they better the bottom line (profit). Plus you are likely to run into the station to grab an item that you want (a coffee, pop/soda, smokes, etc.) So they DOUBLE profit from you. But that is another blog entry related to this.

I admire business managers for figuring out how to better the bottom line by combining several profit revenues together, and blending it with marketing. Shows that business people are finally waking up on how to better the ROI.

I'm just trying to share with everyone what you need to "consider" on where you go to purchase what you need and better your wallet...

Mar 2, 2013

Hard Boiled Eggs

Most people like hard boiled eggs, and we eat them in a variety of ways; straight out of the shell, sliced on a sandwich, chopped on a salad, deviled, pickled, and egg salad. The biggest debates I've experienced are about how to make them. There are several different ways, I've tried all of them, but you have to find what works for you. I was taught to put the eggs in a pot, cover them with water plus 1 inch, bring to a boil, cover the pan with a lid, turn off the burner, let sit for 20 minutes, rinse them in cold running water for a few minutes.

The next way I tried to make them was to bring them to a boil, turn the burner down to medium, and heat for 12-15 minutes before cooling in ice water. The next way was to bring it to a boil and let it continue for 8-10 minutes before cooling in running water. They ALL turned out about the same, AWESOME! But, the best way I've found to make them appears below as a recipe. Since I am single, I only make 4 at a time, bulk it up for the amount you want to make

  • 2 TBSP distilled white vinegar
  • Enough water to cover plus 1 inch
  • 4 large eggs
  1. Bring water and vinegar to a boil over a high heat.
  2. Gently add eggs (so they don't crack).
  3. Reduce to a slow boil, and heat for 14 minutes.
  4. Remove eggs and cool in an ice bath or under running cold water for 15 minutes.
Using the vinegar helps make them easy to peel, you won't taste it
Cooling them for that time shrinks the yolk so they slip out cleanly
Eat cooked ones within 2 hours or refrigerate for up to a week
If the yolk has a greenish color, they are overcooked
Small eggs need less cook time, extra large need a little more

Remember, recipes are guidelines, not a blueprint. Take some time to figure out what works for your hard boiled eggs by experimenting with times, temperatures, etc. for the size and type of eggs you normally get. But overall, enjoy...

Mar 1, 2013

Chipped Chopped Ham

Photo from
A lot of people look at me weird and ask me why I always call it "chipped chopped ham." I grew up around Pittsburgh, PA and we always got Isaly's at the meat counter in the grocery store. Why is it called "chipped chopped ham?" If you look at the label, you will notice that it is called Chopped Ham. You ask the person behind the counter to get it it chipped, not sliced. You combine all of the words to get what you want, "I would like a pound of chipped chopped ham."

The next question is probably "what is CHIPPED?" That just means that it is cut so very thin that you can almost read a newspaper through it. If you've ever used a deli slicer, it is setting 2. Sliced, is a setting of about 4 or 5. I know, because I used to do that, and cut off the tip of my thumb when cleaning it one time. Chipping ANY meat on a deli slicer makes the FLAVOR come through more in the dish you prepare. Heck, I go to a butcher shop to get my roast beef, bacon, and even chicken breast lunch-meat chipped. I get it that way because I don't have to do it on my own, and they don't charge me to do it. I love true butchers.

Next question is: what recipe do you use when getting ready to watch a Steelers game on a Sunday? Here is what I use, in the crockpot/slow cooker.

  • 1 cup BBQ or chili sauce
  • 1 cup Coke (no other brands because they are too sweet)
  • 1 - 2 pounds of CHIPPED CHOPPED HAM
  1. Mix sauce and Coke in a bowl.
  2. Place half of the ham in the crockpot/slow cooker.
  3. Cover with half of the sauce.
  4. Put in remaining ham, cover with the rest of the sauce.
  5. Cook on a low setting for 5 hours, stirring often.
  6. Serve on a bun.
Add other ingredients (sweet relish, Tabasco, salt, pepper, etc.) if you want a slightly different flavor, it is all up to you. Remember, a recipe is only a guideline. BUT, quit asking me why I call it that unless you find out why...otherwise, yinz wouldn't get a Burgh thing...