Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Lasagna

A tradition on Christmas Eve is for me to turn the following collection of ingredients into a lasagna to bake on Christmas Day. While it sort of looks formidable at first, there is really a minimal amount of chopping (onion, garlic, basil) and is mostly an exercise in simmering, boiling and layering. I've used a number of different recipes over the years, settling on this one from AllRecipes.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Lights At The Carillon

This is the second year for this stunning Christmas light display at Carillon Park. My picture doesn't do it justice, but the YouTube video is awesome, showing the moment the tower was lit up and the oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

3 Musketeers

The original 3 Musketeers candy bar explains a bit about the selection of its name. It started out with three pieces, one each of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.  Only the chocolate survived the rising costs and WWII restrictions on sugar.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Centerville Carryout

Centerville Carryout is my go-to place for getting hard-to-find beer and wine. It's stacked to the ceiling and piled on the floors, and I love just walking around exploring the store. On a recent trip I found a 4-pack of John Smith's, an English beer I really like and haven't found anywhere in years.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Woodman Fen

One of the many things I like about Google Maps is finding green areas like Woodman Fen, a nearby, peaceful, 33-acre natural area that includes a groundwater-fed wetland.  It's located in Kettering, a little northwest of Woodman Drive and Patterson Road, but back in a neighborhood you would never stumble upon.  I'll certainly be back to visit when the flowers and wildlife arrive in spring.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Challah Bread

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread wafting through the house on a chilly winter afternoon and my favorite is this Challah Bread recipe my neighbor shared with me.  Takes a little practice to get the three ropes braided properly, so you might need to ask a young girl or your wife for help.

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 3/4 cup very warm water
  • 6 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon cold water 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast 
  1. Combine milk, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan. Heat slowly until butter melts, then cool to lukewarm. 
  2. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Reserve a couple tablespoons for the glazing step below.
  3. Sprinkle the yeast into very warm water in a large bowl. Stir until the yeast dissolves, then stir in the milk mixture and eggs.
  4. Beat in 2 cups of flour until smooth. Beat in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely can cling to the surface. Too much flour will make the dough tough. 
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured pastry board and knead about 5 minutes.
  6. Place in a greased large bowl and turn to coat all over with the oil, then cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place, away from draft, 1 1/2 hours, or until double in size.
  7. Punch dough down. Let rise 30 minutes, or until almost double again, then punch down a final time. Turn out onto a board or countertop and knead a few times. Divide into 3 even pieces and roll each into a rope about 15 inches long. 
  8. Place the ropes on a greased cookie sheet, braid them and fasten at both ends. Let rise again in a warm place, away from draft, 1 hour, or until double in size. 
  9. Combine the remaining tablespoon of egg with 1/2 tablespoon of water,  brush over the bread and top with poppy seeds. 
  10. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheets and place on wire racks to cool.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Santa Tracker

Brought to you by the good folks at Google, Santa Tracker will keep your kids entertained, and learning, while counting down to the time the Jolly Guy and his reindeer take off on their gift-filled sleigh.

Hover Drone

This is the coolest new drone, capable of 4K video, 13 MP photos and can follow you around. Its foldable frame, weighing in at about one-half pound, makes it a snap to carry around. But it will set you back a hefty 6 yards.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


At Christmas I miss my mother the most.  1985 was our last Christmas together, when I was a young man of 30 years.  Hard to believe I've now spent more than half my life without her.

This picture dates back to Mom and Dad's wedding in 1950. She was a beautiful lady, inside and out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Live Internet Attack Map

Want some idea of  how scary the Internet can be?  This link takes you to an attack map where you can watch attacks as they occur in real-time. No surprise that more attacks are aimed at the United States, but a big surprise that more come from the United States.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Office Payback

Payback is a dish best served wet.

Imagine coming into work on a cold Monday morning with 900 cups of water containing over 28 gallons of water covering your desks, floor and even the windows sill. That's inspiration and dedication I've never witnessed before, way beyond the "let's toilet paper his cube" that led to this masterpiece.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hasselback Potatoes

Last Sunday's dinner included this Hasselback Potato recipe, russets sliced 1/4" apart and not quite all the way through, with a chive-butter-oil mixture brushed all over and inside.  I would recommend adding some garlic to kick it up a notch.

That's some fancy, and easy, taters!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

SmartPhone + SiriusXM + Amazon Echo

You can take the girl out of Pittsburgh, but not the Pittsburgh out of the girl.

With last weekend's Steeler's game not on TV, I paired my smartphone, via bluetooth, to the Amazon Echo, then brought up SiriusXM station 806 via their smartphone app, giving my wife the pleasure of listening to her Steeler's win over Buffalo.  If you have a SiriusXM subscription, you should also have free access via their Internet app.

Happy wife, happy life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Tree Lights

I've finally found a perfect use for the TP-Link Smart Plug, controlled by the Amazon Echo. The TP-Link plugs into an electrical outlet and then the Christmas tree lights are plugged into the TP-Link. I changed the name of the TP-Link from "light" to "Christmas tree" using the Kasa app. No more getting down on hands and knees to plug and unplug the lights. Watch the YouTube video for the demo and the full effect.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


You live your entire life knowing a word with no clue what it means. Such was the street named Watervliet Avenue, which bisects the Belmont neighborhood in south Dayton. While researching exhibits at Carillon Park I found a reference to the Watervliet Shakers. a community of up to 100 people that resided on 800 acres southeast of Dayton. This historical marker at the site of the former village gives more details, including that the name "Shaker" came from their frenzied dance movements.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tokyo Joe's

One of the best sushi and sashimi meals I've ever eaten, and the absolute best for the money, was at Tokyo Joe's in Richmond, British Columbia.  I usually leave these types of restaurants still a little hungry, but not here, where I left happily stuffed. And if you're a home sushi maker like me, just browse their menus for some new ideas. Next on my list is their yummy-looking Mango Vegetable Roll.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Samuel Mudd

I've known the phrase "Your name is mud", since I was a little kid, but until recently had no idea its historical origins. It's commonly believed to be attributed to Samuel Mudd, the doctor that treated John Wilkes Booth after he broke his leg fleeing Ford's Theater after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Mudd was convicted of conspiracy, narrowly avoiding the death penalty by one vote, then pardoned by Andrew Jackson four years later.

But the aforementioned phrase dates back to John Badcock's 1823 book "Slang - A Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, The Chase, the Pit ..." where he defines mud as slang for "a stupid twaddling fellow". The book can be found at using the second link below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Riverscape River Run

Work is progressing on a second passageway on the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton, including a calm flow for novices and a more challenging section for experienced paddlers. The first passageway was completed about a half mile down river and replaced a low dam that previously had to be portaged. When it's all done, there will be a seven-mile stretch, starting at Eastwood MetroPark, down the Mad River to the Great Miami, around downtown and ending before the dam just south of Carillon Historical Park and University of Dayton.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kilkenny In A Can

My daughter and her husband brought me a wonderful surprise back from their recent trip to Canada, a Kilkenny four-pack, which I have never seen in the U.S. in cans and only rarely on tap. I can now make true use of the pair of Kilkenny glasses I bought awhile back.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Carillon Park

There is no better place to learn about Dayton's history than Carillon Park.  The Wright Brothers, Newcom's Tavern, NCR, the 1913 flood, the Miami Erie Canal and a Sun filling station are just some of the highlights. The Transportation Center houses various historical railroad cars and trolley buses, and was our selection to host our wedding reception back in 2008.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fajita Hasselback Chicken

Yet another Hasselback chicken recipe, this one on the spicy Mexican side. The picture shows the sliced chicken before adding the cooked onion, peppers, salsa, spice and cheese filling. You can make recipe with whatever fillings or toppings that appeal to your imagination. 

4 chicken breasts
½ onion, diced
½ yellow pepper, diced
½ red pepper, diced
½ green pepper, diced
2 tablespoons fajita spice mix
3 tablespoons salsa
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Slice across the chicken, about ¾ inch apart, but only cut about 80% of the way through.
3. Cook the onions and peppers over medium heat until softened.
4. Stir in the fajita mix, salsa, and finally the cheese.
5. Mix until cheese is melted, then allow the mixture to cool.
6. Fill each segment of the chicken with one teaspoon of the mixture.
7. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes (or more) until the chicken is completely cooked.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Color Blind Test

Color blindness stems from the absence of color-sensitive pigment in the cone cells of the retina, with trouble distinguishing red and green apart being the most common problem. Taking this Ishihara test will help determine to what extent you may be affected.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Riverscape Ice Rink

Downtown Dayton's outdoor ice rink is open for business and a bargain at $5 for all-day skating and $2 skate rentals. I'd join you, but my ankles have a hard enough time keeping me upright in shoes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ohio Stadium

Saturday's #2 Ohio State versus #3 Michigan football game was an instant classic, emotional roller-coaster that lasted two overtimes and ended happily (30-27) for these more than a hundred thousand Buckeye fans in attendance, many that wanted to savor the moment on the field, my son included. I just wanted to start breathing again.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dynamic DNS

Your Internet-facing IP address (assigned by your ISP) can change at any time. This is not an issue for web browsing, Netflix or other services that start connections outbound from your home, but for anything that starts from the Internet towards your home (e.g. a VPN connection), that changing address is a pain. The solution is using a free (I love free) dynamic DNS provider such as Dynu, which now resolves to whatever my current IP address happens to be. That will make my current IoT (Internet of Things) project much easier to accomplish. More on that in a later post.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), gluten-free and high in protein and fiber, provides a nice alternative to rice or other starches in this 25-minute, complete-meal recipe.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Good Neighbor House

Made a donation this week of towels, blankets and clothes to Good Neighbor House, another of the organizations around Dayton that provide assistance to the less fortunate. As you switch your closets from summer to winter, you always run into items you haven't worn in years and probably never will again. Pack them up and help out your community.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Turkey Trot #38

This is the 38th year for the Miamisburg (Ohio) Turkey Trot race where 10,000+ brave (some say not-so-nice other things) men and women will make room for an extra helping of turkey and dressing by running and/or walking 5 miles. This year we receive this official 2016 Race Hoodie, a nice upgrade from the usual sweatshirt.

I began running this race back when only a couple hundred serious runners participated and watched it grow over the years into an overflowing mass of folks.  It's still fun, but except for the few who start at the front of the pack, it's more a game of dodge-em than running.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mini Stereo Amplifier with Optical SPDIF

We had a older, but awesome, set of wired speakers that we wanted to connect to a TV.  This tiny solution, shown next to a K-cup to gain the proper size perspective, filled to need. Connected the TV's optical audio output to the front and the speaker wires to the back. Only downside is the volume control, which is controlled manually by a wheel on the front.

Monday, November 14, 2016

St. Vincent de Paul

We're updating the furniture in the basement, freeing up a couch, end table, lamps and a few other things, all still in good working order, which we donated to St. Vincent de Paul. We moved them to the garage and they loaded them from there.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata

Meyer lemons are smaller and less acidic than your normal variety, but either can be used to make this delicious dish. The capers, those green, salty, pickled flower buds from a caper bush, add a nice punch. Clocks in at just over a half-hour, making it a good choice for a mid-work-week delight.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Google last week introduced Jamboard, a 55-inch 4K collaboration system with a built-in HD camera, speakers and Wi-Fi.  All for under $6,000 plus a G Suite subscription.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Carbon Dioxide To Ethanol

I really wish one of these types of technology would reach mass commercial stage, and this one is at the top of my wish list.  Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have created a process to directly convert carbon dioxide into ethanol with common materials at room temperatures. And like many discoveries, this was an accident.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cyndi's List

This is a great place to start your genealogical research with its hundreds of thousands of links to hundreds of web sites with historical information on people categorized by geography, religion and numerous others.  It's not limited to people, so if you're searching on obscure topics such as Ireland Dog Licence Registers, you can find links to help you out.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tailgate Grill

We're getting towards the end of tailgate season this little grill has served the cause well.  It's a good tradeoff between portability and grill surface.  One person can easily load, unload and setup and I've cooked 8 burgers and 8 hot dogs simultaneously.  It uses those quart-sized propane cylinders and gets plenty hot.  Just need to remember to bring something to handle the grease tray.  Gee, Christmas is just around the corner...

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bacon Tomato Parmesan Hasselback Chicken

Another version of Hasselback chicken, this one from my imagination.  I love the taste of tomato paste and use it when I make from-scratch pizza in lieu of another sauce.  Add bacon and cheese and you have all the yummy food groups.

4 chicken breasts
8 bacon strips, cut into 2” long pieces
½ pound block of hard Parmesan cheese, cut into thin 1 ½” wide by ¾” high slices
1 small can of tomato paste
Garlic powder
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Slice across the chicken, about ¾ inch apart, but only cut about 80% of the way through.
3. Cook the bacon over medium heat until about halfway done, then cool enough to handle.
4. Fill the slices in the chicken with tomato paste, then bacon and finally Parmesan.
5. Sprinkle the chicken with garlic powder and top with mozzarella cheese.
6. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes (or more) until the chicken is completely cooked.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Aruba gets my vote for the best Caribbean vacation island, but if you can't take the heat, stay out of this kitchen. But with the help of the consistently brisk winds and a beach umbrella you can hold your own. Personally I would go out and run in the heat and jump into the pool afterwards. Yeah, I'm nuts that way.

Aruba is Dutch and its location just north of Venezuela brings in Spanish influences. English is spoken everywhere, unlike some other islands. For a chillaxing vacation, check it out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Delta's Bag View

Delta Airlines bag app just got cooler with its newfangled ability to show you the last checkpoint your bag passed through.  If you suffer from "new-city-no-clothes" syndrome, this can help calm your fears.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Google Domains

I've been using GoDaddy for years, but the next time I renew I'll be checking out Google Domains to save $3 per year.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Otto Beer Run

The first commercial delivery by a self-driving 18-wheeler is in the books, but who would have guessed that Uber and 2,000 cases of Budweiser would be involved?  Otto, a company that was just formed this year and purchased by Uber in August, was the tech behind the 120-mile trip between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, and Uber's desire for a piece of the $720 billion annual trucking industry revenue.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chicago Dog

I love Chicago-style hot hogs and this beauty was munched during a recent layover at O'Hare airport. Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water and my tummy grumble.

As a side note, O'Hare's airport code is ORD, but that first "O" does not stand for O'Hare. The original name was Orchard Field Airport, named after Orchard Place, the small farming community where the government built an air base in 1942.  So ORD came from ORcharD. It was bought by the city of Chicago after WWII and renamed to O'Hare in 1949.,_Illinois

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Girls Named Richard, Boys Named Sue

Google's BigQuery tool includes a public data set (usa_names.usa in the query below) that contains 5,552,452 first names gleaned from U.S. Social Security applications between 1910 and 2013. Querying that data shows that some women are named using traditionally male names like "Richard", the top years shown below. Perhaps Johnny Cash would not be surprised that ten baby boys have been named "Sue". Sigh ... what were they thinking?

SELECT name, gender, year, count(*) as popular
FROM [bigquery-public-data:usa_names.usa_1910_2013] 
WHERE NAME = 'Richard' AND gender = 'F'
GROUP BY name, gender, year

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Highlighting The Active Row In Excel

If long rows of numbers are numbing (pun intended) your eye balls, you can highlight entire rows. Here's all you need to do.
  1. Save your spreadsheet as a .xlsm (macro-enabled spreadsheet)
  2. Press ALT+F11
  3. Double-left-click your worksheet (e.g. Sheet1)
  4. Paste in the following nine lines of VBA code 
Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
If Target.Cells.Count > 1 Then Exit Sub
Application.ScreenUpdating = False
Cells.Interior.ColorIndex = 0
With Target
.EntireRow.Interior.ColorIndex = 36
End With
Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

Go back to your spreadsheet and select a different cell.  The entire row of that cell is now highlighted in yellow, as shown below. If yellow isn't appealing, you can play around changing the value of the ColorIndex from 36 to other choices.  Visit the following link to see your options.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 8, 1955

I was born on October 8, 1955, and courtesy of Weather Underground, I can see I was greeted into this world with a sunny day and a high of 63 degrees.  Can't they all be just like that?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Two Monitors, Two Spreadsheets

Your I.T. group has finally succumbed to your begging and pleading for a second monitor, but when you open two Excel spreadsheets you find you can't get them both visible at the same time, even though Word and PowerPoint behave nicely. Are you going crazy? Maybe, but this one is Microsoft's doing. But there is a solution.

Either hold the Shift key while left-clicking the Excel icon in your task bar, or right-click that icon and left-click on "Microsoft Excel".  Both methods will launch a separate instance of Excel, allowing you to put them on separate monitors.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Charlie's Deli

Located a couple miles northeast of downtown Dayton, Ohio, Charlie's serves up delicious sandwiches like the Cuban I recently had (shown below). Cabbage Rolls, a Rueben and a Gyro are also on my gotta-have-soon list, but you will find about any kind of sandwich imaginable.

Open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 6 pm, so this is not a weekend joint.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Amazon Wind Farm US Central

Just to confuse, Amazon calls their AWS Ohio Region (yesterday's post) part of "US East", but calls their wind farm in Ohio's Paulding county "US Central". And it's located on the west side of Ohio.

For clean energy, they can call it whatever they like and put it wherever they like.

The 100 megawatt wind farm is expected to start generating about 320,000 megawatt hours of energy annually, starting in May 2017, enough for 29,000+ households.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Amazon Web Services Ohio Region

Amazon Web Services has launched their Ohio Region with three data centers around Columbus (Dublin, Hilliard and New Albany), offering their customers a second option in the eastern U.S.. They have also agreed to work together with The Ohio State University to connect to OARNet, the state-wide 100-gigabit (I love speed) network that connects colleges, schools, medical research hospitals and state government.

A great "cloudy" day for Ohio!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Courage For Parents

Heidi Landes gave one of the best TEDxDayton talks last week about how developing your children's self-control, not a false sense of  self-esteem (e.g. everybody gets a trophy), is a parent's key responsibility. Heidi and her husband are certified parent coaches and offer workshops to struggling parents.