Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Amish Cabinet

After a three month wait, I picked up our new Amish cabinet last Saturday.  Five shelves on top provide lots of room for glassware and two tall shelves below accommodate larger items. The slide out shelf in between provides a handy work surface. Made of solid elm and finished with a rich cherry stain, it's an instant heirloom.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mowing the Grasses

The grasses and hostas in the backyard get cut back in March to make way for their new growth. Contrary to the advice of professionals, who recommend leaving a third of the grass, I take it to the ground, cutting it down to a few inches with a hedge trimmer, then running the lawn mower over the remainder. A few weeks later they're going through their growth spurt and doing their primary job of hiding the gas meter, better known in the past as "third base".

Monday, May 29, 2017

Beyond Really Tired

I published one of my infrequent articles on my Life Experiences blog today.  It recalls three stories on times when exhausted doesn't quite do my feelings justice. It was a real chore writing this, recalling, and reliving, these special moments. It's fitting, but unintentional, that I post this on Memorial Day.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Brown Butter Maple Glazed Roasted Rainbow Carrots

If you can't get your kids (or their adult versions) to eat enough vegetables, try these. The drizzle of maple syrup, lemon zest, butter and parsley elevates the roasted carrots and parsnips to another level. Before this recipe I had never tried a parsnip, probably a faded memory of a wicked witch cooking or something, but they're delicious. The key to this recipe is cutting the root veggies into similar thicknesses so they bake evenly.

  • 1 bunch rainbow or regular carrots
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Peel and cut carrots and parsnips in half, lengthwise. Depending on how wide the thicker ends are, you may need to slice each stick into quarters, lengthwise.
  • In a shallow baking dish, toss carrots and parsnips with olive oil and season with thyme, salt and pepper,
  • Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until carrots are tender.

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, once it starts to foam stir or swirl the pan; keep a close eye on the color, as soon as it turns a pale brown remove
  • from the heat and add lemon zest, parsley and maple syrup.
  • Drizzle glaze over carrots, stir with a spatula to coat.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

City in Email Address Display

One of the smartest ideas I've seen in a long time is putting the city a person works in after their name in the display address field in Microsoft Outlook.  If you work in a geographically diverse company, one that acquires businesses or organizes virtual teams, this simple addition makes a world of difference in helping people quickly develop some context around a person. You may not be able to follow these instructions to change yours if your email administrator has locked that down, but it's worth a try.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Greystone Hall

Not a bad place for the happy couple to exchange their wedding vows.  Greystone Hall in West Chester, Pennsylvania is at the center of a complete English country estate built in 1907 for Philip M. Sharples by architect, Charles Barton Keen.  In 1942, Greystone Hall was purchased by Aram K. Jerrehian and his descendants have continued to reside there to this day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Our Mac Mini has served us well since the beginning of 2011, but we're replacing it with a $200 Asus Chromebox, smaller than the width of a pen. Specs are 4Gb of memory, a 16Gb SSD, 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron Processor with ports for HDMI, USB 3.0, SD Card Reader, plus Wifi and Bluetooth. Best of all, it's as virus-proof as it gets.  If you do everything with a web-browser, this might be for you too.

Monday, May 22, 2017


This is another one of those free (I love free) utilities that fill a specific need.  Mpack and munpack are utilities for encoding and decoding binary files in MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions) format mail messages. I needed to extract PDF attachments that landed on my email server in an ".eml" files, which munpack handled nicely.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Grilled Balsamic and Soy Marinated Flank Steak

Nothing better than a marinated flank steak on the gas grill in the summertime.  I think the best feature is that the end pieces can be medium-well and the middle pieces medium-rare, satisfying diverse preferences.  Of course, medium-rare is the right answer...

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Here's a handy way to check to see if your Internet firewall is messing with your favorite application. You just go to this PortQuiz URL, add a colon (":") and the port you think is being messed with and slap the enter key. You'll get a nice screen like the one below if it's OK. If not, your browser will let you know.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Herb Garden

This year's herb garden features three basil plants, two rosemary plants and single cilantro, parsley and thyme plants. I gave up feeding tomatoes and other veggies to the squirrels and rabbits last year, but they don't bother the herbs. My wife makes great pesto with the basil, which we use in a number of recipes and she makes extra to freeze in ice cube trays. Use this recipe for extra green colored pesto and extra ohs and ahs.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Longwood Gardens

Our recent trip to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (fly to Philadelphia and backtrack west a bit) included my wife touring the Longwood Gardens. She could have spent many more hours than she had time and we plan a return trip, hopefully with some better weather, to take in the whole experience.

Monday, May 15, 2017

New Starbucks

This Starbucks, at Indian Ripple and County Line in Beavercreek, is so new it doesn't show up yet on the Starbucks web site. That Venti Dark Roast sitting on the back of our VW Eos powered a morning trip back and forth to Cambridge, Ohio.  Give me coffee and I'm a driving fanatic.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hash Brown Breakfast Skillet

I love it when a tasty breakfast is combined with an easy, single pan cleanup. Hash browns, green onions, ham, cheese and eggs are the start, then add your imagination and favorite ingredients. Mine would be Frank's Red Hot Sauce.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Walnut Grove

The view from the 10th tee, a dogleg right par 5, at Walnut Grove Country Club right before my drive ended up in the fairway just past that little bunker on the right. My wife and I joined a couple weeks ago and look forward to golf, the swimming pool and the libation station, aka the 19th hole.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Google Wallpapers

As much as we look at our smartphones these days, it's nice to have some cool wallpapers to choose from and this Android app from Google fills the bill. There are categories for art, earth, landscapes, cityscapes, life, texture and others full of options.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


One of my favorite sayings is that somebody else has a bigger problem than you do and if you find who that is, they've probably solved your problem better than you ever expected. Such was the case of needing eating utensils at work. The typical cheap plastic variety break way too easily and I didn't want to bring in any of our home silverware. Who has that problem, only worse? Campers! They're out in the wilderness carrying everything and would require lightweight but very sturdy utensils. A trip to the sporting goods section of Walmart yielded my perfect solution.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Stop/Start Technology

Last weekend's rental car was a Chevy Malibu equipped with an engine that will shut off when the car isn't moving and the brake is pressed, then quickly starts as soon as the brake pedal is released. I didn't know the technology even existed and was a little freaked out when I thought the car had stalled. Took a little getting used to, but not wasting gas at every red light is pretty cool.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mandi's Meatloaf Parmesan

This is like making a big, delicious meatball for dinner. And you know it has to be good when it comes from a handwritten recipe with a sauce stain on it. Takes me back to memories of my Mom's recipe box.

Big shout out to Mandi T for this recipe!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Virtual MetroPark and River Tours

Thanks to a host of volunteers hiking and paddling 600 miles with 360 degree cameras, Google Street View now includes Dayton-area parks and rivers. For example, in the image below, Cox Arboretum MetroPark is blanketed with those blue lines that indicate that images are available. Just drop that little yellow guy where you want to explore.,-84.2274872,16z

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

NROL-76 Launch To Touchdown

Watching a rocket launch towards space is cool enough, but watching it land, standing straight up, nine minutes later is mind boggling. Takeoff starts at the 12 minute mark and the landing is complete at the 21 minute mark.  Simply incredible.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mulch, Delivered

We supported Alter's Music Association and avoided half our mulching work with this delivery to our patio. The other half we could have avoided by using the Alter Lacrosse team's mulch spreading service, but the timing didn't work out with our hectic schedule. Drats.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Agent Ransack

"Finding files that other search engines miss." That's Agent Ransack's claim to fame and it recently pulled my backside out of the fire when I needed to find some SQL in a Dynamic Link Library (DLL) file. Turned out the SQL was in Unicode format, making the usual perusal with Notepad useless, but with Agent Ransack, no problem. And like all good things, it's free (I love free) for both personal and commercial use.

Big shout out to Jon C for this freebie!