48) Made Pop Tab Chainmail #NewThingEveryDay

A good start

I’ve been collecting pop can tabs for a while now. Ever since I started making a tab chain a while ago, I just kept collecting them. Eventually I knew I was going to make some chainmail and today seemed like as good a day as any.

Tabs and Tools

There are a ton of instructions online for making the chain mail links, but I used this one at wikiHow. Basically you cut the top of the tab with some wire cutters, then bend the tab with a staple remover. Once you have a good supply of links you can begin connecting them together to form the fabric.

You link the bottom of two tabs through the split in the top of one tab and expand from there. To lay flat the tabs have to connect in a certain over under fashion that is hard to explain, but easy to figure out once you get going.

Chain folds onto itself

While you can make a large piece of chainmail pretty fast, if you pick it up the tabs don’t stay flat and flip over. It’s almost impossible to just lie it down flat again, You have to do the best you can and then tediously flip all the upside down links back over.

Unlike pop tab chains, I’m not sure what you really can make out of this, but it’s an interesting thing to do with tabs.

47) Visited Farmer’s Market, Midtown Global Market, and Wild Rumpus #NewThingEveryDay

Minneapolis Farmers Market

My wife was off today, so we decided to take the kids to some new places. First we went to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. Of course we forgot to bring cash so I searched for a nearby ATM on my phone. There was a Wells Fargo a few blocks away through the industrial district so we walked over to it, not noticing there was a ATM right at the Farmer’s  Market. We needed a little exercise and the kids got a lesson in urban decay.

The Market was pretty small today, it only took up about one-half of the two “islands” dedicated to it. My wife bought some herbs and my daughter bought some flowers.

Midtown Global Market

Then we went to Midtown Global Market. My son and I ate at the Holy Land Deli and my wife and daughter got pizza from somewhere else. After not finishing their food, the kids wanted to get ice cream.

Wild Rumpus

Finally my daughter wanted to show my son the Wild Rumpus. It’s an eclectic kids book store that has animals running loose inside. You can see my daughter petting the chickens below.


46) Went to See Minions #NewThingEveryDay


Recovering from company and still dealing with street reconstruction, we decided to take today easy. So after a little catching up with work around the house, my wife and I took the kids to see Minions. My kids and I have seen Despicable Me 1 & 2, although my son says he doesn’t remember the first one, and thought they were pretty good movies. So we were pretty excited to see Minions.

When movie studios take popular characters from a subplot in a movie and give them their own feature, it’s usually never as good as the original movie. Minions was pretty much on par. I’m not saying it wasn’t an okay movie, it just wasn’t as good as either Despicable Me 1 or 2.

What I was really disappointed with was the previews. The Jem preview made no sense. They start out talking about a girls dad and his inventions, then they go into the girl and her friends becoming over night sensations and signing a record contract. The robot her dad made seems totally superfluous. Oooh, it shows holograms.

I couldn’t even watch the Underdogs trailer because it was so boring. Even If I was a huge soccer fan I don’t think it would have mattered. The only movie I might sit with my kids and watch if I was forced to was Hotel Transylvania 2.

45) Got Workwhop Tour at Jackson Street Roundhouse #NewThingEveryDay


Today my son and I went with my father-in-law, brother-in-law, and nephew to the Jackson Street Roundhouse, one of the Minnesota Transportation Museum sites. While this wasn’t something new, as my wife and I have taken our kids there before, we hadn’t been on a tour of the workshop and blacksmith shop.

If you request it of a docent, they’ll gladly take you to see the rest roundhouse you don’t normally get to see. Some of the roundhouse is just storage, while in other parts they are restoring trains and cars, and in the rest they have their workshops. For instance in the restoration area they are restoring a large steam engine. They have it stripped down and you can see right inside the boiler. They are also restoring a touring car and a diesel electric engine. All you really can see with the last two is where they’ve welded new metal top restore the rusted out pieces.

All the way to the back is the workshop, There they have metal lathes, mills, planes, and other equipment for making replacement parts. In the very back they have a hand cranked blacksmith’s forge where they forge parts they need and also teach iron working to scouts and other groups.

If you ever get to the museum, and I mean because the road construction is horrible down in St. Paul right now, be sure to ask to go back to the shops!

44) Listened to What’s The Point Podcast from FiveThirtyEight #NewThingEveryDay


I usually turn my wife on to new podcasts. I listen to many podcasts a day, whereas she usually only has time for one. But lately in her compressed listening time, she has found more good podcasts than I have. The latest podcast she told me about was What’s The Point from FiveThirtyEight.

FiveThirtyEight started as a political polling group (538 electorial votes) and has branched out into many different areas. This isn’t the group’s first podcast so it’s pretty polished already. I’ve listened to the first two episodes and it reminds me of the Freakonomics Podcast, only with data instead of economics. The zeroeth episode they talked about what the podcast would be about and in their first podcast they interviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson.

I’m looking forward to the next episode where they interview a former NYC transportation commissioner about her data driven approach to her former job.

43) Using FLDraw to Make Floor Plan #NewThingEveryDay

Test Room

For a post I’m working on at ToolGuyd, I needed a simple way to make a floor plan of my house. After much searching, I found FLDraw Lite. This program allowed me to quickly make the above sketch in about 5 minutes. It’s not quite accurate to scale, but the idea was to see how easy the program was to use. Best of all it is a standalone program, it doesn’t need to be installed!

Now that I’ve picked a program to use, I’ll take some measurements and make a more accurate floor plan. This will come in handy next time I need to do work on a room or simply if I want to know which outlet belongs to which breaker.

42) Made Perler Bead Art with My Daughter #NewThingEveryDay

Perler Bead Supply

At the Summer YMCA program my kids attend, they do fun fusion or “perler bead” art. A few days ago, my daughter bought another bucket of beads and more large square pegboards to make art at home. I’ve helped my kids them iron their creations before, but I’ve never created my own. So today my daughter and I decided that I would make Calvin and she would make Hobbes.

My daughter making Hobbes

Rather than pixillate your own photos as templates, all you need to do is search “perler bead Calvin,” and you’ll find all the templates you’ll ever need. I found a Calvin head on Pinterest and started copying it onto the pegboard. Instead of buying organized beads, my daughter went for the big bucket of beads. This means we spent twice as much time looking for the correct color beads as we did placing them. Sure my daughter had organized some of the beads in a few Plano boxes, but that just didn’t go very far.

Hobbes Fixed with Calvin

Once we were done we had to iron our creations. I was out of practice and my design partially stuck to the wax paper and got all messed up. I ended up having to remake it. It didn’t take nearly as much time as before because I had all the correct colored beads ready to go. My daughter did the same thing and I remade hers too. We were more careful the second time and the perler bead art turned out really good.

Finished Calvin and Hobbes

41) Created my Own 3D Model #NewThingEveryDay

3D Printed Ben's Workshop Logo

So far all I’ve printed on my 3D printer is objects I’ve downloaded from the internet. The whole point of having a 3D printer is to make your own creations come to life. To do that you have to have some way to make a drawing and turn it into a file that the 3D printer can understand — or more precisely something that your slicer can parse.

For beginners I saw two different approaches that looked like they would be easy. The first was using an online service called Tinkercad, the second was to use Sketchup.

My goal was to create a 3D replica of the logo for Ben’s Workshop. After creating an account for Tinkercad and firing up the program in my browser, I just couldn’t see anyway to build my logo with the tools they had available. so I fired up Sketchup on the laptop and followed instructions on this website.

The Sketchup route wasn’t without it’s problems. I you aren’t careful when you are extruding shapes in Sketchup, you don’t create solids you create open shells. To fix this easily you need the paid version of Sketchup. There is a way to fix it in the free version, but I ended up just redoing the model the right way. Even then the final version still threw errors when I ran it through the slicer, but it printed fine anyway.

I really do think Sketchup is the most powerful and easiest way to create models. And taking the time to learn it will pay off in the end, especially if I can transfer my Sketchup skills to making woodworking plans. I’m going to have to do some more research.

40) Tried Pork Rinds #NewThingEveryDay

Pork Rinds

In all my 40 years, I’ve never tried pork rinds. Sure I’ve heard about them, it’s just not something I’ve gone looking for. I was in Aldi today grabbing some groceries when I spotted a bag of hot and spicy pork rinds. I figured, “what the hell, I’ll give them a try.”

I ripped open the bag when I got home and popped one in my mouth. The first thing I noticed was the smell. They smelled like one of my dog’s rawhide bones. Of course since they were spiced, I also tasted the “hot and spicy.” Then I got a weird after taste that I really couldn’t put my finger on. Half a bag later, I still couldn’t figure out what it was.

The pork rinds themselves have a consistency and “mouth feel” somewhat like a harder puff corn. Even though they weren’t very good, they had an addicting quality, like you wanted to feel the crunch of them in your mouth even though the aftertaste was off.

I don’t think I’ll be buying another bag anytime soon. I’m not closed to trying a better brand or maybe some homemade/fresh pork rinds though.

39) Watched First Episode of Killjoys #NewThingEveryDay

Killjoys poster

It’s between TV seasons and most of the new shows I’ve tried watching have disappointed me. For instance, I tried getting into iZombie. While it was interesting for the first few episodes, I just didn’t think it was going anywhere. Also I’d heard good things about Louie but I just couldn’t get into it. So when I heard about Killjoys on DTNS, I wasn’t too excited until the person recommending it mentioned the browncoats (Firefly fans) a few times — that got me interested.

Killjoys are bounty hunters and of course one of the bounties they go after in the first episode is John’s (the male lead) brother. They end up teaming up with him to get the warrant off his head. This sets the stage for the three of them to team up to have their adventures.

I don’t know what to think of the show yet. It’s science fiction, that’s a plus. It sort of looks like they are going for the Firefly vibe, with a little more edginess thrown in. It’s shot with abruptly changing camera angles and scene changes to accentuate that edgy feeling. Dutch, the female lead is a bad ass fighter with a mysterious assassin past, which is always a plus.

Some shows you immediately identify with the characters, some shows the plot grabs you, and some shows the universe has a lot of potential. Firefly has all those aspects, while Killjoys definitely belongs to the last group. That isn’t a death sentence, I’d also put Lost in the last group.

This was just the first episode, sometimes I know right away weather I’ll like the show, sometimes it takes a bout a season. I think I’ll watch all four available episodes and see where it goes.