READY TO EXPLORE THE WORLD: Travel Alone and Meet More Friends

My friend Gil Patchett published his second book recently!

Hear Gil talking about the book

Find it on Amazon:

READY TO EXPLORE THE WORLD: Travel Alone and Meet More Friends Paperback – July 4, 2023

A retired sixty year old research chemist, set out to explore the world alone. Going into the unknown, Gil Patchett discovered that ‘magic happens’ when one boldly goes forth with an open-heart that brings ‘chance’ meetings with beautiful people. This is not a book of fiction, it is the honest, unvarnished truth of the unfolding of events during his travels. He was surprised how everywhere he went, he was welcomed as a single traveler. Gil came to wonder what was the magnet that drew people to him during his travels…it seemed that both he and them were hungry to know about each other. The fulness of the experience inspired Gil to share his memoires with the hope it will encourage others to travel alone and explore the wonder of diverse cultures on our vibrant planet.



A guy on Facebook asked a group for matchmaking advice. My response:

12 years ago I met my now-wife on I found OKCupid, PlentyOfFish, and a few other free sites to be full of women window-shopping for men which was horrid. I found other good relationships on years before also. I don’t know what the best sites are now but going with a paid site was better. A zillion years ago I used the Together Matchmaking service and didn’t like it. “5 matches for $750. Go!” The pressure to match was very uncomfortable! It all sucks. Good luck!

Finding Another Utili-Key

I’ve been carrying a Utili-Key on my keychain for about 20 years. It’s rarely quite the right tool for the job, but it’s always at hand and usually gets the job done, which is infinitely better than not having any tool! I carried my Leatherman Wave for a while but hauling 9 ounces of steel on my belt is incredible overkill for how often I need it!

A new in-law saw me using mine and asked for one. Thus began a hunt for a Utili-key! It’s turning out to be very hard! I think the company doesn’t make them any more and there’s a lot of crappy knock-offs out there. The in-law is my wife’s brother’s son’s new wife’s father John!

I looked online but couldn’t find a vendor on the company’s list that actually sells it. I bought some from and they were all crap. Each one failed in a different way. One has sharp burrs, one doesn’t close, one doesn’t open, none have a decent regular-head screwdriver, etc. I bought some from eBay and they were crap in authentic looking packaging.

Here’s one of my authentic Utili-Keys (on the left) compared to a knock-off from Temu.

I’m coming to believe that this represents real packaging, and this represents knock-off packaging:

Real Utili-key packaging


Fake Utili-key packaging??

But who the heck knows.

Update 10-28-23: I bought a Utili-key from a seller on eBay in the “real” packaging as seen above and it turns out to be a legit Utili-Key! Hurray! Here is the actual, real packaging:

My First Experience with a Self Driving Car: Ungood

Here was my first experience with a self driving car: I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago to see Dog Man: The Musical with family and friends. I was standing on the SW corner of Geary and Powell, looking at Union Square. I saw a Cruise Self Driving Car pull up to the intersection IN THE BUS-ONLY LANE, stop, put on it’s left-turn blinker to turn onto Powell and proceed to DRIVE STRAIGHT through the intersection! It’s the future of transportation! :-(

Fantastic Birthday Dinner

Last night, Megan and Abigail treated me to a fantastic birthday dinner at Mi Casa Grill.

I’m so lucky to have Megan as my partner, best friend, and wife! And Abigail is her father’s joy!

Mi Casa Grill is a gem: presentation is always a fantastic three dimensional sculpture and the tastes so fresh, bold, and balanced! A joy from start to finish!

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte: Comedy Gold

A zillion years ago I took a college English class on the Bronte Sisters. We were told about the intense literary rivalry of the three sisters. Each sister trying to outwit the other.

I couldn’t make heads or tales of the Agnes Grey story. It was just so… … so preposterous! So many scenes were outlandish but done with a straight face. It finally occurred to me that it must be a (secret) comedy!

Give it a listen or a read and tell me it isn’t the best kept secret comedy you haven’t heard in a while!

Google Maps Directions in the MacArthur Maze are Dangerously Wrong

At this exact spot (see the photo of the start of the MacArthur Maze on Rt 80 coming from the north), Google Maps says “keep right at the fork” [when it is wanting you to take Rt 580 or 880] but that is TERRIBLY misleading and dangerous! It should be something like “Stay in the middle lanes” or more verbosely “Don’t take the left exit/HOV lane. Instead, stay in the second or third lanes from the left. If you get in the right 3 lanes (as is suggested by the phrase “keep right”) you will find yourself going over the Bay Bridge, sucker!”
This is a high priority fix because it’s on a major highway used by tens of thousands per day, and it’s on Google’s home turf.

There’s two problems with the direction. First, it says “keep right” when it means “don’t turn left”. The second is that another major highway intersection is just 200 yards further down the road, at 50mph, it’s impossible to change the required 3 lanes to the left!

That is what I reported to Google Maps Feedback tonight. (make your own updates by clicking on “Feedback” in the far lower right corner of your Google Maps directions on your computer).

Burning Man 2023 was Amazing! Stay Away From The News!

I am reminded that it is important to distance myself from news media. The media coverage about Burning Man was dumb. First, I’ll just say that it was an amazing, fantastic, terrific, wonderful event. My entire family (me, wife, and 8 year-old daughter) had a simply fantastic time. The “problems” that the weather created were a joy to behold. Remember that it is an extreme camping event in the best of times with typical daily temperatures sometimes above 110, daily temperature swings of 50 degrees, humidity hovering around 15%, daily dust storms and even dirt storms with winds up to 70 mph! Those are typical conditions! Every person there was EXPECTING extreme weather, that’s why we’re there! Every news outlet that created headlines with words like “troubled” “disaster” “descent into chaos” etc… are simply… dumb.

Here’s a realistic article about this year’s burn:
Most participants of the week-long extreme survival camping vacation event called Burning Man stayed an extra 1-2 days in paradise because of of unusually rainy conditions. The tone of the event became more “local” for 2 days as participants walked the temporary city instead of biking. On Saturday night, instead of the traditional burning of the man, members of Kidsville had a potluck party in their camp, making friends, burning their mini-man, and bouncing on trampolines. Participants relied on free-local coffee shops, bars, dance clubs, and wood-fired pizza ovens instead of biking across the city for other neighborhood’s freely offered events and services!

Going Solar

I got a solar panel kit for our Burning Man adventure THAT STARTS TUESDAY!

I got it firstly to power my CPAP, Megan’s medical equipment, all our crazy bike lights, and phones. After testing it out for the last 2 nights, I now have the very satisfying feeling that we can power all of our personal medical equipment and personal electronics without the power grid for a very long time!

Yay solar!

I got the very succinctly named “Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Portable Solar Panel with Waterproof 20A Charger Controller Foldable 100W Solar Suitcase with Adjustable Kickstand for Power Station, 100W Panel-20A Controller, Black” for $160

It’s 2 50 watt panels, a charge controller, kickstand, a good protective case (good for packing away the panels!), with 10′ of wire and a alligator clips to go on my battery.

My math says that on a deeply overcast day, this system will just barely provide enough energy to power my CPAP. On a sunny day, I’ll have oodles of energy to spare. Here’s the math:

You usually get about 75% of the power out of a solar panel. 75% of my 100 watt system = 75 watts. Wildly guess another 10% in losses = 67.5 watts captured on a sunny day.

There’s about 8 hours of great sunshine per day = 540 watt-hours per day captured


You’ll see in the photo that I’m charging at 1.0 amps at 10am on this overcast morning in the bay area. 1.0 amps * 12 volts = 12 watts. With 8 hours of sun that’s = 96 watt-hours

I measured with a Kill-a-watt that my CPAP uses about 120 watt-hours per night. My AGM  On a sunny day.

I have a 12 volt adapter for my CPAP so I don’t need to run it though an inefficient inverter. I also got a bunch of 12 volt accessory/cigarette-lighter to USB adapters to charge my electronics and my USB AA/AAA battery charger.

In 2021, I got a 35 amp-hour AGM deep cycle sealed lead-acid (SLA) battery f0r $120 to take camping. It has powered my CPAP for a max of 3 nights. The exact model is the very succinctly named “Interstate Batteries 12V 35Ah AGM Deep Cycle Battery (DCM0035) Group 24 Rechargeable Replacement Mobility SLA AGM Battery (Insert Terminal) Wheelchair, Trolling Motor, Scooter, RV”. It’s been great.

News Flash! Lee Buys a Box of Mechanical Pencils!

Is the Skilcraft Dual Action Mechanical Pencil a worthy replacement for the PaperMate Logo II?

Find out here!