Communication, communication, communication. Why is it so hard sometimes?

American Eagle had a sale on those fuzzy boots so many woman and girls are wearing.
They were $15.00 and free shipping.

Got in on this deal, not a good experience with American Eagle though.

I bought to pairs of boots, one for each of my girls, both size 7. When they arrived, I surprised my daughter and wife with them.
Unfortunately, they sent one of them in size 6.
I immediately contacted them via their website asking to return and have them send the size that I ordered.
It appeared they were being appropriately responsive.
They set us up to exchange the boots. After not hearing from them for a few days,

On Jan. 18, I emailed them asking where the exchange boots were :

I was hoping to get the boots in the size I ordered sent to me. I’m going to be pretty bummed if through your employee error, my wife doesn’t get the boots that I correctly ordered in her size.

This is what I got in return on the same day:
Whenever an item is returned to for an exchange, the merchandise is first credited to the original method of payment used to place the order. For tracking purposes, a new order is then placed and a new charge is submitted to the credit card. We apologize for any misunderstanding. For more information regarding your exchange, please call 1.888.232.4535 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) and we will be happy to assist you. —January 18

Sounds like I am getting an exchange right?

February 3 I finally contacted again after hearing nothing:
Where are we on this. Really getting bummed here, got a pair for my wife and a pair for my daughter and only my daughter is enjoying hers while my wife waits. If only the packer put the size boot that I ordered in…

They responded the same day with:
We have issued your return to the method of payment used on this order. Please allow 3-10 business days for this credit to post to your account. If for some reason you are not seeing this credit, please follow up with your bank as we released the funds on Jan. 18, 2015. If you have any further questions please give us a call at 1-888-232-4535.

Um, first they were exchanging the boots, now they are only crediting my credit card back. No contact from them telling me this. We were waiting for the boots with no idea AE changed what they were doing to rectify their mistake.

February 4 I replied:
I am asking where are the boots in the size I ordered? I want the boots, they were a gift. I ordered correctly. Your packer put the wrong size in. I sent them back for an exchange. Where are my boots?

They replied the same day with:
Thank you for contacting us here at AE. I apologize for the confusion with the exchange. Please call us to replace the order for the boots. I left a note on your order for us to give you free 2 day shipping and a price match.
You may place an order by phone by calling our toll free number, 1.888.232.4535 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) and a representative will be happy to assist you in placing your order

Cool, I think. Called the number. No boots available now they tell us. Not in a larger size or a different color. Great. But there are plenty of other boots available on sale they tell us. No, not really. So wife is bummed.

Now wait a minute. Didn’t I just link to the boots above??? No idea what is going on here.

So beware, AE does not appear to be very organized or able to communicate well.

D & L Company Glow Stomp Rocket Jr.

Stomp Rocket Jr

I was searching for a toy gift for my little man who was turning 5. At some point in my research, I found a website with top toys for boys his age. On this list was the D&L Stomp Rocket Junior Glow In The Dark set which came highly recommended. I searched for this product and found it at available at Walmart online with free in store pickup. ( ) I was pleasantly surprised at the price (~$12.00), but a little skeptical about the quality with that price. Unfortunately, I found this product too late to make it in time for the little guy’s birthday, but it worked out better anyways. He got to open a present on his sister’s birthday this way so he was occupied while she had her day.

My little guy loved it right away…what little boy doesn’t love things that shoot stuff? It was very easy to put together and once I explained how it worked, off he went shooting rockets in the air over and over again. I was really surprised with how high the rockets flew! The quality is good. We did have one issue, one of the rockets had a slice down the side. Upon closer inspection, it looks like the foam was malformed at the factory and was really thin in this location. We put a piece of tape over the slit and it worked ok. We later contacted the company on Facebook ( )and they contacted us and eventually sent us a free refill pack! Later that night, my little guy said “Daddy, we have to stay up late tonight.” I asked “Why?” He said “So we can shoot of my glowing rockets!” He has since played with it by himself several times and nothing has broken.

What comes in the package? There are two rigid plastic pieces that slide together to form the stand. A small bolt and wing nut are included to fasten the flexible tube to the stand. The air chamber is already attached to the flexible tube, so once you figure out how the stand goes together, the toy is ready to rock and roll within 5 minutes.



How does it work? Your little one puts one of the foam rockets on the end of the tube attached to the stand. Then then jump up in the air and land on the air chamber, which forces the air in the chamber through the flexible tube with the rocket on the end. The air needs someplace to go, so it forces the rocket off the end of the tube and high into the air.

Setting it up


Where can it go wrong? As with any projectile toy, it can be aimed at brothers, sisters, and pets. Fortunately, the rockets are made of very soft foam so they cause no injury when your little one decides to be a wise guy.

I highly recommend this product. The price is right. The quality is good. The fun factor is great. And our experience with the company backing their product was nothing less than stellar. My son gives this product 100 thumbs up.

I don’t have 100 thumbs.

I received no compensation for this review, it was all done on my own. As much as I will call out products that I believe fall short of promises, I will also point out products that I believe are great.

You Make Your Own Mead? – A Cyser story

So I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of the honey a bunch of my homebrew club members went in on. I got a gallon of wildflower honey.

The honey, a bit crystalized

Since the honey was crystalized, and I got it in a Lowes bucket, I decided I would heat my honey up and pasteurize it. Transferring it from the bucket was fun, but I thought up a good system that worked. I boiled a little water in a pan, and dipped my metal spoon in it to heat it up. Then the hot spoon scooped out the honey easily into another pan.

The honey, ready to be liquified

The pan I used for heating the spoon now contained a liquid that tasted too good to go to waste, so I poured it into some jars with tea bags to make a honey tea. I also rinsed out all containers that had honey in them with the hot tea later.


I bloomed two packets of US-05 in a pint of apple juice straight from the container.

Bloom little yeasties, bloom!

So I heated up 8 pounds of the wildflower honey in a big double boiler formed by two stainless steel pots. I got the honey up to 170ish by the time it all liquified.

The honey was a lot easier to handle once it is liquified.

While the honey heated up, I dumped 1/2 of four of the apple juice 1/2 gallon containers into the fermenter. The other halves got shook up with the 1# of brown sugar split between them. Lots of aeration. The remaining four apple juice containers were half emptied and each remaining half shook up before being dumped in the fermenter. Once the honey was liquified, in it went too and I used my new 24″ stainless steel whisk to mix it up good. Yeast went in with the first 1/3 of the staggered yeast nutrient schedule, then it went down to my fermentation chamber set at 65F.

Here is the must ready for yeast!

I liquified the additional honey from the gallon.

The rest of the honey.

I woke up to a nice foamy krausen on the must today.

The second addition of the staggered yeast nutrients went in on this fluffy pillow.

Recipe summary:
8# wildflower honey
4 gallons apple juice Ascorbic Acid the only preservative
US-05 yeast
Staggered Yeast Nutrient Schedule

One of our ladies has left us for the big chicken coop in the sky

Sadly, when Justin went to close up the chickens yesterday evening and found one of our old ladies had died. It looks like she laid down her head and peacefully closed her eyes for good. I’m pretty sure it was the chicken we had living in our house when she was sick. Good bye chicky, thank you for all the eggs you gave us.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 10,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 17 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Front page of the local paper

My tribute to my brother has turned into a Pay it Forward event that has exploded locally and even gone across to the other coast.



You Brew Your Own Beer? Pretzel beer?

I am taking a break from brewing starting January so I can prepare for my Professional Engineer exam in April. I have some backstock ingredients so I have been working them down. Today I brewed an experimental beer that I hope reminds me of pretzels.

Here is the recipe for 1.5 gallons:
10.00 g Sea Salt (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 1 –
1 lbs 10.4 oz White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 2 69.5 %
4.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 3 10.5 %
4.0 oz White Wheat Malt-toasted (2.4 SRM) Grain 4 10.5 %
2.0 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 5 5.3 %
0.30 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 90.0 min Hop 6 23.1 IBUs
1.6 oz Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM) Sugar 7 4.2 % post krausen

I did a step mash, biab, stovetop. The first rest was 122F for 30 minutes. The second rest was 152F for 60 minutes. I did a 90 minute boil. I didn’t have any beer yeast, so I used a packet of Montrachet. Hopefully it rips through the sugars, I’m not looking for yeast character on this one anyways. Hopefully the acid malt gives the hint of sourdough, the salt, well salt, and the toasted wheat that toasty outer crust of a pretzel. The wort tasted pretty good going into the fermenter.

I used a 5 gallon paint strainer for this BIAB on my stovetop

The mash, really light with the white wheat

Sleeping bag wrap for the rests

Almost the scale of steeping grains in extract brewing…

Back to the kitchen sink cooling

While I was brewing, some other things were going on at Little House on the Sandpit…

Panels for gingerbread houses were made

I tried some pine needle and spruce tip tea

and our sick chicken started to feel better, she can stand without falling over now.


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