Friday, December 29, 2017

Slow Cooker Pork and Fennel Stew

This is serious winter comfort food.  If you haven't tried cooking with fennel, and if you, like me, can't stand the taste of licorice, fear not, fennel is delicious prepared this way.  I suggest some good quality, medium-width egg noodles for the base, paired with a hearty Zinfandel red wine.  To please both the palate and the budget, look for either a Kunde (rhymes with Sunday) or Bogle Zin.

Ingredients
  • 4-5 pounds pork shoulder (boneless is easier), cut in 1.5” cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 x 1.5 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
  • 8 oz mushrooms (optional)
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • Chef’s choice of noodles, rice, potatoes or favorite starch
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
Preparation
  • Heat one portion of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
  • Add onion and sliced fennel, cook until it begins to brown, about 6-8 minutes, then transfer to the slow cooker
  • Reheat skillet and add the other portion of oil
  • If mushrooms are desired, add and cook until brown, about 6 minutes
  • Add garlic and fennel seeds, cook for 2 minutes
  • Add wine and cook until the volume is reduced in half, making sure to get all the tasty scrapings off the bottom of the pan
  • Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow cooker
  • Add the pork and top with tomatoes
  • Cook covered on low for 6-8 hours
  • Discard excess fat
  • Serve over your choice of starch, topped with Parmesan cheese

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Excel Left Lookup

Excel's VLOOKUP is a great tool to search one column of a table for a match and return data from another column.  That is, great as long as the match column is left of the data you want returned.  If it's to the right, VLOOKUP will fail you.  But a clever combination of MATCH and INDEX will save your bacon, as detailed at this link.

http://www.excel-easy.com/examples/left-lookup.html


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Electricity Shopping

We've been paying 5.4 cents per Kilowatt Hour (KwH) for the last three years and Dynergy sends a nice renewal letter with an offer of 5.49 cents per KwH for the next three years, a modest increase. But in checking their website I can get 5.29 cents for the same term, so a 2% increase becomes a 2% decrease, turning my frown upside down.  Pays to shop and a good place to start is at this State of Ohio website.

http://www.energychoice.ohio.gov


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Disable Chrome Autoplay

Videos on web pages that just start playing automatically is a bit annoying, but since I normally have my speakers muted, it doesn't overly bother me.  But when multiple tabs have multiple videos playing, consuming so much CPU that it starts to bog my system down, it was time for action.  Not limited to Mac, the Chrome browser's "Autoplay policy" flag can be set to several options, with "Document user activation is required" meaning "I got to click it to play it" being the most restrictive.  You get to that flag by entering "chrome://flags" as shown below.

http://osxdaily.com/2017/11/20/stop-autoplay-video-audio-chrome


Monday, December 25, 2017

Split Loom Tubing Wire Cover

As promised, here is the final piece to the great kitchen cleanup, a section of black plastic tubing that is split across the top.  Cables can be inserted into the end or anywhere along the tube.  Really cleans up the mess and it's really nice in a room like a kitchen, but works just as well with the multimedia mess you might have in another room.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R1J3546


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

ClickOnce For Chrome

In my continual battle to use Google Chrome wherever possible, I recently ran across an application that's delivered through Microsoft's "ClickOnce" technology and I was told I had to use Internet Explorer to launch it.  But a far more clever chap then I wrote a browser extension in Chrome to enable ClickOnce, at least for my Windows laptop.  Victory!

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/clickonce-for-google-chro/kekahkplibinaibelipdcikofmedafmb


Monday, December 18, 2017

CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Cream

Not that I'm old yet, and in my mind that target slips further out every day, but in the last couple years struggled with some eczema, particularly in in the dryer months.  That's really irritating (no pun intended) because I've had very oily skin my whole life.  Made for some rough teenage years.

My search for a topical solution led me to this particular version of CeraVe cream. It's the best I've found to moderate the itching, a combination of the "pramoxine hydrochloride" (and they think computer people make up funny names) and the cream itself, which is thick enough to stay around all day.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017610BFO


Friday, December 15, 2017

Mexican Chorizo Meatloaf

It takes 26 ingredients and a fair amount of chopping, but the results are more than worth the effort. The meatloaf itself is delicious, but it's the salsa-glaze that makes it special.  Be sure to put a cookie sheet below the baking dish as it's cooking, or as we learned the hard way, you'll be cleaning your oven.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/mexican-chorizo-meatloaf-3864319


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pandora from iPad to Google Home

This one just kinda blew my mind.  I noticed the familiar "cast" icon at the lower-left of the Pandora app on my iPad, which is a Google thing and looked out of place on an Apple product.  When I pressed it I saw the Google Home in the master bedroom and the Google Home Mini in my home office.  I selected the former and a couple seconds later music is playing on the Home.  I suspect this is somehow all delivered "in the cloud" and not something Apple can control.  I think I like this cloud thing.  It helps them all play nice together.

http://blog.pandora.com/us/enjoy-one-touch-streaming-of-pandora-to-your-tv-with-google-chromecast


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Winter Solstice

Although the winter solstice, marking the transition from shorter days (i.e. sunrise-to-sunset) to longer, is a cause for celebration, I most look forward to December 1st.  That's when the earliest sunset occurs, at 5:15 pm in my locale.  It stays there until December 13th, when sunset begins its gradual climb to 9:08 pm on June 24th.  I really like living on the western side of the eastern time zone, where daylight is shifted more towards the end of the day, where it can be enjoyed when awake, and a little more darkness in the morning is good for sleeping.

Here's a countdown timer to the upcoming solstice, in case you have a cork to pop.

https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/generic?p0=179&iso=20171221T1128&msg=December%20Solstice%202017%20Countdown


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The New Boy

My fraternal grandfather kept a diary for thirty years, writing something on every day from 1932 through 1961.  These diaries each contain five years, so this page from October 13 covers 1952 through 1956, making the fourth entry, "Visit Earl and family to see the new boy", the first mention in his diary of me, five days after my birth. 


Monday, December 11, 2017

Mountains of Christmas

Google Docs has lots of fonts available and I'll be using their "Mountains of Christmas" font for this year's Christmas cards.  By lots of fonts I mean, at the time of this post, 848 font families resulting in thousands of styles, which you can check out at this link.  I just wish I could use this in these blog posts.  C'mon Google!

https://fonts.google.com


Friday, December 8, 2017

Butterscotch Pudding

A Thanksgiving recipe called for heavy cream, but what to do with the rest of the quart?  Make some awesome pudding, that's what!  Another favorite from my childhood is JELL-O butterscotch pudding.  Instead of using two cups of regular milk, I combined a cup of heavy cream with a cup of skim milk, resulting in about a 20 percent fat content.  Instead of splitting the two cups of pudding the suggested four ways, I opted to pour the more satisfying super-sized three bowls you see below.

Total yumminess!

https://www.amazon.com/Butterscotch-Instant-Pudding-Filling-4-Pack/dp/B00AED8CW6


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pixel 2 Stable Video

Had to check out the "super stable" video recording on my new Pixel 2 to really see how it performed, so I shot this video of walking while walking around my house. Pretty impressive and I'll have to try it out standing still and recording a sporting event.  
https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/12/google-explains-the-pixel-2s-super-stable-video-recording




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

No-Heat Handle

Besides being a cute mug, I was surprised that when I reheated my coffee, this handle did not get hot, unlike the mug I normally use.  I guess I need to pay more attention to the "microwave-safe" jargon.

https://www.amazon.com/Hallmark-Christmas-XKT532-Holiday-Naughty/dp/B016L2RIE6


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Blanton Stopper Key Hooks

Blanton Bourbon bottles are known for their eight different stopper designs depicting different scenes from a horse race.  These two, with their corks cut down and a steel washer glued on, will become our new set of hooks that we hang our car keys on, a fancy replacement for the current dull plastic ones.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanton%27s


Monday, December 4, 2017

North America

The Northern American continent is comprised of 39 countries and territories, 25 of them in the Caribbean and 8 in Central America.  Canada is the largest country at 9,984,670 square miles followed just a couple percent behind by the United States at 9,826,675.  Greeneland comes in a distant third at 2,166,086.

http://statisticstimes.com/geography/north-american-countries-by-area.php


Friday, December 1, 2017

Pumpkin Eggnog French Toast

The first cooked breakfast I learned to make as a young kid was French Toast, which I rarely have these days, but when someone suggested adding pumpkin eggnog, I just had to give it a try.  The results, including my traditional of sprinkling a little cinnamon and sugar on top, were outstanding.

Whip two eggs with a 1/2 cup of pumpkin eggnog, dunk three slices of bread and fry until golden brown.  And make a little scrambled eggs with the remainder.  Easy peasy.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Brew Kettle

We've brewed beer at The Brew Kettle in Strongsville, Ohio (outside Cleveland) on three occasions, twice brewing an Irish Lager and once a Scottish Ale.  Our routine consists of having lunch at their restaurant and trying a few options, then going to the brewing area in the back and deciding which recipe to make.  Ingredients are gathered, grains milled and added to the kettle, already filled of water, to soak.  The temperature is raised slowly over the course of a couple hours as hops and other flavors are added. When complete, the staff drains the kettle and stores it for 2-3 weeks before we make our return trip to bottle it.  Part of the fun is designing our own custom labels, like the one below that remembers Shadow and her ability to leap fences, usually at the most inconvenient of times.

http://www.thebrewkettle.com



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mike Leach On Weddings

This is a perfect summary of what happens during wedding planning, with some advice on how us men can cope, delivered by Washington State football coach Mike Leach.  Spot on funny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGIap2_tmng


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Android Apps on Chromebooks

After an extra-long wait, Android app support is now available on certain models of Chromebooks, which fortunately includes my Acer Chromebook 14.  The first apps to load were Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as they enable a small set of TV shows and movies to be downloaded, perfect for the Chromebook's large screen and will make long, cramped airplane trips a bit more tolerable.

https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/7021273


Monday, November 27, 2017

University Of Dayton Arena

Thanks to a friend of ours we enjoyed our first look at the upgraded lower level seats and four-sided, center-hung video board installed during the first phase of the University of Dayton Arena's multi-year upgrades.  Even better was watching the Flyers battle back from a five point halftime deficit to defeat the Akron Zips 73-60. 

Big shout out to Karen for the tickets!

http://transformudarena.com



Friday, November 24, 2017

Sugar Cream Pies

Thanksgiving dinner concluded with these Sugar Cream Pies, a tasty departure from the usual pumpkin.  Super easy to make as long as the transfer into the oven is slowly and carefully done.  

Ingredients
  • Crust
    • 2 unbaked pie crusts (frozen is fine)
    • One or two cookie sheets (or similar)
  • Filling
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1/4 cups Half-and-Half
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 6 tbsp flour
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the pie crusts on the cookie sheet(s), lined with foil or parchment if desired.  The cookie sheet will avoid small spills making a large mess.
  • In a small bowl:
    • Whisk the egg yolks
    • Add the Half-and-Half and stir together
  • In a large bowl:
    • Whisk the sugar, flour and salt
    • Add the heavy cream and vanilla, and completely blend
    • Add the contents of small bowl and lightly stir together
  • Pour the filling evenly into the pie crusts.
  • Ever so carefully, place the cookie sheet/pies into the oven.
  • Bake for 75 minutes. The top should be golden and rise above the edge of the crust. Note that the filling will still jiggle.
  • Cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least two hours.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

39th Annual Turkey Trot

Another year, another Turkey Trot!  Not bad for 62.

A brisk morning, started out just below freezing, but very little wind made it reasonable to run. 

We earned an extra piece of turkey for our efforts!

http://orrrc.onlineraceresults.com


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

All About Me

Just received my new, custom-made T-Shirt from Vistaprint Promotional Products.  My wife thought it said "pound me", but I intended it to mean "it's all about me", which I quickly explained.  It's a good quality shirt (Gildan Heavy Cotton) and for the all-in price of $15.72, not a bad deal.

http://promo.vistaprint.com


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Kohler Cavata

We liked the Kohler Cavata toilet we had installed in the second floor bedroom do-over so much that I replaced the toilet on the first floor last weekend with the same model.  A little taller, a little longer and a seat that slowly lowers itself, avoiding the annoying "big bang" of the older model.  What I like the most is the innards of tank come pre-installed.  If I can install a toilet without a single leak, it must be good.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/KOHLER-Cavata-White-WaterSense-Labeled-Dual-Elongated-Chair-Height-2-piece-Toilet-12-in-Rough-In-Size/4070737


Monday, November 20, 2017

Month Names

​Google has a public dataset available that has all the first names for people, going back to 1910 in the United States, that applied for a Social Security number.  I used their BigQuery tool to create this summary of female and male names that are months,  The most popular ones are not surprising.  August was a very popular name in my Moorman blood line and my great-grand-uncle August Moorman fathered 21 children, truly a "more man" than most.

I guess nobody likes February and March.  As a name or otherwise 😀.



Female NamesCount
January99
April3,141
May1,619
June3,535
July9
August184
September33
October19
November1
December15


Male NamesCount
April8
June104
July1
August1,813


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

macOS High Sierra

I've had my MacBook Air laptop for over five years and it still runs like a champ, mainly due to an operating system that doesn't get viruses or bloated, and the performance of its solid-state disk.  Add to that the yearly, free (I love free) macOS upgrades and I have all the current features without any upgrade pains.  High Sierra is the latest, with the new Apple File System, H.265 video, improved GPU support,Virtual Reality, a new Photos app features and much more.

https://www.apple.com/macos/high-sierra


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Google Home Mini

The home office now has a Google Home Mini, provided free (I love free) which the purchase of my Google Pixel 2 phone.  This is our fourth voice-controlled, intelligent, personal assistant, smart speaker, joining the Amazon Echo (dining room), Echo Dot (basement) and Google Home (master bedroom). Add our two smartphones, two iPads and Siri on my MacBook Air, and we can get music, weather, timers and answers from at least nine sources.

https://store.google.com/us/product/google_home_mini


Monday, November 13, 2017

DTMF App

Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home can place outbound phone calls to U.S. and Canada for free (I love free), so my first thought is they would make really great speakerphones for conference calls.  But the problem is neither can enter the access codes or any other prompt responses, they can just dial the initial phone number.  But all it takes is a DTMF (Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency) generator, like these apps, to mimic the tones a phone produces.  It takes a little getting used to, as the smart speakers need a brief pause to recognize and pass on the tones, so press the "keys" a little longer than usual, and it should work for you too.

Google Android >> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bytestemplar.tonedef

Apple iOS >> https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dtmf-pad/id312536578


Friday, November 10, 2017

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

We love grilled or roasted brussel sprouts and this dish from the Collision Bend Brewery in Cleveland's "The Flats" district, containing Vietnamese caramel sauce, queso fresco cheese and shishito peppers, is among the best we've ever had.  Paired with a fish taco and outside seating on a sunny day, it was a meal to remember.

http://www.collisionbendbrewery.com


Thursday, November 9, 2017

iPad 9.7

Forget buying a refurbished iPad to save a few bucks.  When my wife's second generation iPad was getting to be slower than dirt, we bought a brand new iPad for about half of what the previous one cost. While the specs aren't the best you can get, it's more than enough for most people.

https://www.apple.com/ipad-9.7


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Jedi Master

Is this Photoshopped or a paparazzi catching me honing my lightsaber skills?

Tell you I will not.  Figure it out yourself you must.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Affordable Appliance Service

The bearings in this little clothes dryer part wore out after a couple years resulting in god-awful squeaky shrieks. The repairman not only replaced the part, he vacuumed out the dryer and outside vent, and shortened the vent hose to a better length. They may not make parts like they used to, but this was simply great, old-fashioned service.  Highly recommend!

http://www.appliancerepairsdayton.com


Monday, November 6, 2017

5 Ghz Wireless

Last week our Internet provider, Spectrum, upgraded our service to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for free (I love free), but for our wireless devices to take advantage of that required reconfiguring them from using their original 2.4 gigahertz (Ghz) setting to the faster 5.0 Ghz.  All systems have a bottleneck, that portion that limits the performance of all the others, and that used to be the Internet connection, but now is the home WiFi network.  The first screenshot below shows my MacBook Air on 5 Ghz, the one below that on 2.4 Ghz, showing the improvement from about 25 Mbps to almost 60 Mbps.  The biggest benefit will come from changing the Roku and other streaming players to 5 Ghz, helping avoid the pauses and low quality that comes from not enough throughput.

http://www.tp-link.com/us/faq-499.html


Friday, November 3, 2017

Fresh Green Beans

You won't find a can of green beans in our kitchen, it's fresh or nothing at all.  The pressure cooker is often used to prepare them, but recently we've started using this stove-top method which adds an extra kick and a slightly charred outside.  The only tricky part is not peaking early and releasing the steam, so a clear lid is a big help.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Preparation

  • Heat oil and sliced garlic on medium-high in a skillet
  • Once garlic is light and golden, add the green beans, water, salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Stir and cover with a lid and let it steam on high heat about 5-7 minutes or until water has evaporated
  • Uncover when beans are tender


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Husk Nashville

Our final night in Nashville started with an Uber ride to The Patterson House for a cocktail followed by another ride over to Husk Nashville for dinner.  The menu is filled with southern classics and the desserts are to die for. 

http://husknashville.com


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

Our stroll through this Nashville park included a history lesson from the viewpoint of a southern city that was occupied early in the Civil War by the north, but started back before the days of European settlements to recent history.  At one end of the park were these Carillon pillars that chimed out Tennessee-themed songs at the top of each hour.

https://youtu.be/buaa4730H1E


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Starbucks at SR-725 and Lyons Road

Currently under construction, this new Starbucks, which used to be a bank, will save a mile and a half off my morning commute and put a second cup within walking distance. This will be the area's largest, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.  No word yet on an opening date.

http://www.dayton.com/news/just-this-new-starbucks-will-one-the-region-largest/CEcXLRb8Bq7KD233mrtFjL


Monday, October 30, 2017

Uber Freight

Uber's not just into disrupting the taxi business, they've jumped into the trucking business as well.  Same basic principle applies as drivers select the loads they want based on their preferences, making real-time trade-offs on making money, distance to travel or being home tonight or by their kid's next sporting event.  More driving and fewer hassles sounds like a winner.

https://freight.uber.com


Friday, October 27, 2017

German Pasta Salad

When you're looking for something different for a picnic or family gathering, this German version of the venerable pasta salad is my suggestion.  Don't scrimp on the paprika and I suggest bringing a can along so people at the bottom of the bowl don't get left out.

Ingredients
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Pound Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 Large Dill Pickle
  • 1 Ring of Bologna or Sausage
  • 3 Large Tomatoes
  • 3 Sweet Apples (e.g. Gala or Janagold)
  • 1 Cup Natural, Plain Yogurt (not fat free)
  • ½ Cup Mayonnaise
  • Lemon Juice (about ½ a lemon)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
Preparation
  • Place eggs in a small saucepan, add water to cover the eggs, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover for 10 minutes, then rinse and cool.
  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add salt to taste, add the elbow macaroni and cook per its instructions. Strain in a colander, let cool and transfer to a large serving dish.
  • Cut up pickles, bologna, eggs, tomatoes and apples into size bite pieces and add to pasta.
  • Whisk together the yogurt and the mayonnaise, add lemon juice (a little at a time to prevent it from getting too bitter), flavor with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Pour over pasta and stir it until well mixed together.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Specify Outlook Font For Plain Text Emails

I get various reports by email but Outlook, by default, uses a proportional font to display them, resulting in "crooked columns".  But since just these reports come in as "plain text", I found I can change Outlook to use a non-proportional font, Courier New in the example below, to straighten up the reports and make them much more readable.

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2010-outlook/how-to-show-fixed-width-font-for-plain-text-e/6015c0da-2cf3-4e2c-997b-5fa8b1796fb9


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pixel 2

It's been 3 1/2 years and the time has come to retire the HTC M8 and go for the native Google experience with their new Pixel 2.  Popped the Verizon SIM card out of the M8 and into the Pixel 2, cabled them together and followed the migration instructions.  When that was complete my 160 apps came flying down from the App Store. Besides the great camera, my favorite feature is the fingerprint reader located on the back of the phone, much more convenient than an iPhone's.

https://store.google.com/us/product/pixel_2


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Keeneland

Keeneland was my first trip to watch the horses run live and I learned a lot about betting on the ponies.  When I placed a "win" bet, paying only of the horse won, my horse finished second.  Playing a "show" bet, paying for finishing anywhere in the top 3, my horse finished fourth.  But I've never had so much fun losing so little money.

http://www.keeneland.com


Monday, October 23, 2017

Flyer Red

Warped Wing scores another hit with their recently introduced Flyer Red, another locally themed, (Trotwood, Ermal's) easy to drink red lager, sure to please University of Dayton fans.  Along with their collection of heartier IPA's, Porters, Stouts, etc. and non-alcoholic root and ginger beers, it's the most complete lineup around.

http://www.warpedwing.com/now-on-tap


Friday, October 20, 2017

Gnocchi Pesto Pasta Salad

Super simple recipe combining green beans and peas with gnocchi and pesto.  Fresh gnocchi is best, frozen will do, or for the adventurous make your own by combining leftover mashed potatoes with  flour, egg and salt, as shown at the second link.  Careful with the amount of pesto you add to this recipe.  It will change depending on its strength and your taste preference.  Easy to over do.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/katie-lee/gnocchi-pesto-pasta-salad-3857459

https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/homemade-gnocchimade-with-leftover-mashed-potatoes




Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tennessee Titans

This NFL team came to Tennessee from Houston in 1997 and were still called the Oilers for two more years before adopting the Titans name. The Titans are from Greek mythology, the twelve children of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea (Earth) who were eventually defeated by their grandson Zeus to rule Olympus. Nashville, home to this franchise, is known as the "Athens of the South" for its history of higher education institutions and the first American southern city to establish a public school system. Now it all fits together.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/athens-of-the-south-2476869


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Edley's Barbeque

When in Nashville, barbeque is a must and it doesn't get any better than a pork sandwich and pork tacos at Edley's.

http://www.edleysbbq.com