Monday, July 22, 2019

Catamaran Ride - Part 2

During our Turks and Caicos catamaran ride, we had stopped for a bit and noticed a pair of porpoises lazily cruising through the water, fins and snouts occasionally breaking the water.  The fun really started when our boat took off and one of the porpoises decided the race was on and began chasing us, leaping out of the water every few seconds.  Capturing the perfect moment almost eluded me as I snapped pictures as fast as I could, trying to time a leap just right.  The picture below was the lone success, captured right before the porpoise decided the fun was over. 

https://islandvibestours.com


Friday, July 19, 2019

Sheet Pan Caprese Chicken

Easily a middle-of-the-week dinner, this recipe delivers a nice twist with its baked cherry tomatoes bursting with flavor.  I offer a couple changes to the directions, first, don't bother reducing the balsamic vinegar, it's touchy and makes you stand there stirring the entire time.  Second, when finished baking, put it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, and monitor that closely, to get a nice brown crust on the cheese.  This link contains a video showing just how easy this is to make.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/sheet-pan-caprese-chicken-3876232


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Catamaran Ride - Part 1

Our trip to Turks and Caicos included an awesome four-hour catamaran ride.  Towards the end of the trip we had the option to jump off the boat from a platform and/or take the built-in slide route.  I loved both, particularly the jump, somewhere in the 10-12 foot range, bringing out the kid in me and memories of growing up at the neighborhood pool.  I think the picture really shows how much fun I had.

https://islandvibestours.com


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Kettering - No Solicitors

Kettering citizens can pick one (or more) of these 3"x4" "No Solicitors" window clings (as supplies last) at the reception desk at the Kettering Government Center, 3600 Shroyer Road.  With this sign, or another that meets the requirements detailed in section 642.10(f), and placed on or near your main entrance, it's a misdemeanor crime for anyone to solicit you.  Without this, it's perfectly legal for others to bang on your door, annoying or not.

https://www.ketteringoh.org/no-solicitors-window-clings/


Friday, July 12, 2019

Pesto

My wife whips together bunches of basil with garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil (our best one) and pine nuts to make the pesto that's been featured in several of these "Foodie Friday" recipes.  She then freezes it in ice cube trays to make a handy size, then puts three cubes (about ten ounces) in individual bags for up to a year in the freezer.  With this year's bumper crop of basil coming from our raised herb garden, we'll have plenty for (don't say it!) those cold winter months ahead.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/13937/pesto


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Android Notification Log

I get tons of notifications on my Pixel 2 and every once in a while I flick one out of existence by accident or after I look at it I wish I could find it again.  Fortunately, there's a widget for that, specifically the Settings widget.  As the directions at the link explain, you press and hold on an open area of the home screen, select Widget, scroll down to Settings and press and hold that icon.  After it's dropped on the home screen, the Settings shortcut menu appears.  Tap Notification log and you're done.  Like the picture below, you now have a nice shortcut to find all your past notifications.

https://www.howtogeek.com/242073/how-to-view-notifications-youve-dismissed-on-android





Monday, July 8, 2019

Kikkerland Rainbow Coasters

We first used these colorful coasters on our recent trip to Turks and Caicos and just had to buy a set.  They solve one of the most annoying problems coasters have, that being lifting off the table with the glass.  The soft, rubbery-like material will stay put on smooth surfaces like our patio table while doing its primary job of keeping water drops off the table.  Eight coasters in eight different colors, for ten dollars.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074HBYYB2


Friday, July 5, 2019

Fusilli with Arugula Pesto and Crispy Pancetta

When it's time to give in to your carb-craving desire, make it count with this delicious recipe like this one.  The pesto is made with a two-thirds arugula, one-third basil combination that's blanched to give it a deep green color.  My wife used cubed pancetta instead of slices and, of course, this is the time to use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.  This is as tasty as it is beautiful!

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/geoffrey-zakarian/fusilli-with-arugula-pesto-and-crispy-pancetta-7133916


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Wet Umbrella Wrapper

Our trip to the Apple store at The Greene this week was a rainy affair, and we were greeted by this sweet wet umbrella wrapper just inside the entrance door.  Put your umbrella in the slot at the top, it slides into a light plastic wrapper, and then pull forward.  Your umbrella won't get the floor wet, which can be quite a slippery danger.  The slot on the left is for a short umbrella, the one on the right for full-sized.  Is that smart or what?

http://www.umbrellawrapperllc.com


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Diet Ginger Ale Plus

On these hot summer days it's nice to quench the thirst with a cool beverage, but I'm not a fan of zero-calorie diet drinks, certainly not a big sugar-bomb soda and water only gets me so far.  My in-between solution is to mix a little bit of either Daily's mix or Monin flavored syrup with diet ginger ale, giving me a 50-60 calorie refresher.  My favorites, so far, are peach, blackberry and strawberry flavors, but there's lots left to try.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

BASIC

In all these years as a techie kinda guy, I never knew that the BASIC computer language was actually an acronym for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.  This article discusses the language's beginnings and the historical marker along New Hampshire Route 120, near Dartmouth College, commemorating the language's two inventors.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/16/18680941/new-hampshire-basic-first-historical-marker-beginners-all-purpose-symbolic-instruction-code


Monday, July 1, 2019

EZVIZ

Added some home security with this wide-angle, motion-sensing, smartphone-alerting EZVIZ camera.  I also installed a micro-SD card so it can make recordings for later playback.  I also pan to add one to monitor the water heater, furnace and washing machine.  One thing I learned is to make sure the batteries in the smoke alarms are fresh, because that low-battery chirp will fire off an alert every single time.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CXT8L4J


Monday, June 24, 2019

Will Return

I got tired of writing notes about when I’ll be back from running a few miles, so I bought this sign.  Now I just dial the hands to the proper return time and lay it on the kitchen counter, where it can’t be missed.  I guess I could have found a more techie way...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IOZUYEK


Friday, June 21, 2019

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin with Crispy Panko Topping

Here's a great low-carb replacement for potatoes that my wife has made multiple times and we love it, aside from the smell of boiling cauliflower, which she is sweet enough to forewarn me.  The cheeses are the stars here, a combination of Pecorino, a firm, salty cheese made from sheep's milk, and Gruyère,  a hard yellow cheese made from dairy cows.  The top layer of Panko, fine slivers of crustless bread, are baked to a nice crunchy golden brown.

https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/cheesy-cauliflower-gratin-crispy-panko-topping-1/5626a6452084d63a3401ca5e


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Google Fi

I've made the leap to Google Fi, replacing Verizon as my cellphone carrier.  Fi uses Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular along with WiFi hotspots using automatic encryption.  With my data usage averaging just under 2 GB/month, I expect to spend a little less than $40/month.  The best feature might be international, where you pay the same $10/ per GB for data, cellular calls are $0.20 per minute, WiFi calls cost the same as calling from the U.S., and texting is free.

https://fi.google.com


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

5G Speed Test

The next generation of cellular networking is given the 5G designation and will be incredibly fast as this YouTube video will demonstrate.  That's fascinating, but at that type of speed I would spend about $20 for a single minute of data download.  Not happening any time soon.

Shout out to Dave C for bringing this to my attention!

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


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Read Aloud

Proofreading articles, particularly those I write myself, is difficult as reading is not typically a word-by-word exercise and my brain loves to just jump over mistakes like the typical "the the".  But listening uses other brain paths, so hearing a "the the" will jump out big time.  So to improve the quality of my finished work, I've started using the Chrome extension Read Aloud.  I just highlight the text I want to review, click the bullhorn icon parked at the end of the URL bar, then close my eyes and just listen for my mistakes.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/read-aloud-a-text-to-spee/hdhinadidafjejdhmfkjgnolgimiaplp


Monday, June 17, 2019

Soft Touch Discount Days

One of the financial enjoyments of retirement is finding discounts, typically weekdays, and that includes the sweet 25% off at Soft Touch Car Wash.  Ladies get that discount on Tuesday's and gentlemen on Wednesday's.  You can't beat the fantastic job they do, even on my Jeep that gets every form of lawn scrap, including mulch, dirt, leaves and bush trimmings, in the back.  Believe me, this guy is earning his nice tip.

http://softtouchcarwashdayton.com


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Shrimp Scampi

Marinating the shrimp in garlic, salt and oil for 30-60 minutes, using the best shrimp available (in our case, Foremost Seafood) and the addition of a 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes makes this dish over-the-top delicious.  We opted for some angel hair pasta, instead of bread, and added a Caesar salad to complete the meal.  The 65-second video included in this link to the recipe below will show you how absolutely simple this is to make.

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/shrimp-scampi


Home Depot Expedited Checkout

When the checkout lines at Home Depot Garden Center started to backup, a couple additional employees started moving things along by using mobile scanning devices to record everything in your cart and then linking that to an Expedited Checkout card like the one below.  When we got to the cashier, they only needed to scan the card and we only had to pay.  That line really zipped along using this service.  Thanks Home Deport!

https://www.homedepot.com


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Bluetooth On Fire TV Cube

One of the best features of my Amazon's Fire TV Cube is its Bluetooth support, which includes the A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) profile for high quality stereo audio and HID (Human Interface Device) profile for devices such as mice and keyboards.  I've now connected my Trekz Titanium wireless stereo headphones (so others can enjoy their quiet) and 1byone wireless keyboard/touchpad (for quicker searching).  Roku needs this badly.

https://www.cordcutters.com/what-you-need-know-about-amazon-fire-tv-cube-and-bluetooth-devices


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

4-Port USB Charger

We're up to five devices we travel with (Pixel 2, iPhone, Apple Watch and two iPads) and a two-port charger no longer cuts it, plus those charging blocks with the prongs built in are often difficult to fit into hotel outlets.  Both issues are now resolved with this four-port USB charger with its 5-foot cable, which packs a nice 40-watt, 8-amp punch.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OT6YUIY




Monday, June 10, 2019

Jungle Jim's

A trip to Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio is as much entertaining as it is overwhelming in its selection of .... well, everything!  Their international food departments alone represent over 70 countries and over 70,000 items.  Huge displays like the one below provide helpful directions and some chuckles.  If you go (pun intended), you simply must check out their restrooms, which won the 2007 Cintas Best Restroom in America contest.  You're in for a big surprise.

If you're feeling a bit nostalgic for Campbell's soup, check out this classic black and white commercial on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mloB8XYJFTE


Friday, June 7, 2019

Armenian Lamb

After buying these eight beautiful lamb chops at Costco, we needed an equally great recipe and who else to turn to than The Kitchen's Geoffrey Zakarian.  This unique sauce combines olive oil, white wine vinegar, dill, mint, parsley, garlic, shallot and surprise, a red serrano chile!  Just sear the chops for 3 to 4 minutes each side (or to your desired doneness) and let rest before serving.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/geoffrey-zakarian/armenian-lamb-and-grilled-vegetables-6593475


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

RCA 4-Device Big-Button Remote Control

The holy grail .... one remote to control them all!

Highlights of our new remote are:

  • Bigger and fewer buttons
  • Backlight button
  • No system power cycle button (i.e. turn everything on/off at the same time)
    • Never served a purpose other than mess everything up
  • Controls our TV (Vizio), cable (Samsung), Blu-ray (Sony) and Roku
  • Only $14
The AUDIO-SB button had to be reprogrammed to control the Roku, which the instructions explain how to do.  Then we had to figure out which buttons do the special Roku features.  They are:

  • INFO_OPTIONS is the Roku Asterisk button
  • Both MENU and GUIDE+HOME map to the Roku Home button
  • GO BACK maps to the Roku big Left Arrow button
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CXDIPVS


Monday, June 3, 2019

Airport Mailers

You've checked in, got your boarding pass and are proceeding through airport security only to find you've left your favorite pocket knife (or any other prohibited item) in your carry-on bag.  Your choices are not necessarily limited to forfeiting the item or missing your plane.  A better option is to mail the item to yourself (or a friend) using Airport Mailers, a service at the twenty-two airports listed below.  Just pick up one of their 6" x 9" plastic pouches and follow the directions to complete the payment and shipping form.

---
Akron,  Boston, Charlotte, Charlottesville, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth,  Dallas/Love,  Denver, El Paso, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Pensacola, Rochester, Raleigh Durham, Reno/Tahoe, San Francisco, San Jose, Oklahoma City
---

http://www.airportmailers.com


Friday, May 31, 2019

Perfect Filet Mignon

When you splurge for Filet Mignon, the last thing you want to do is cook it too little or (gasp!) too much.  This recipe is simple and straight-forward, just follow the instructions to the letter.  That includes two of the most important cooking tips we repeatedly hear on The Kitchen.  First, set the meat out until is reaches room temperature.  You simply can't expect to get even cooking when the middle of the meat starts out cold.  Second, and much harder to do because as humans we just have to fiddle, is leave the meat alone when it's cooking.  Just put the utensil down and step away. 

https://www.floatingkitchen.net/how-to-cook-the-perfect-filet-mignon/


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Calling Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos islands are directly east of Cuba and north of Hispaniola (i.e. Dominican Republic and Haiti) and the site of our upcoming summer vacation.  In setting up some fun activities, I was asked the cost to make phone calls from the U.S. to the islands. 

Calling from our Verizon phones is almost two dollars a minute, but if I use my Google Voice/Hangouts app, the cost is reduced to no more than a quarter per minute, as the screenshots taken from their respective websites below demonstrate.  If you have any kind of large bill for international or long-distance calling, checkout this Google Voice link.

https://voice.google.com

Verizon pricing 😱











Google Voice pricing😊


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Downasaur

Google Chrome users will see the message below when their internet connectivity dies.  The blocky animal in the shape of a dinosaur is called a downasaur.  Perhaps this will help your trivia game some day and give Google at least some credit for a sense of humor.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=downasaur




Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Progressive Web Apps

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a hybrid between a website and a mobile application, and seeks to minimize the issues inherent with either pure approach.  A PWA can be installed (no app store required), improving performance.  If that option is available, you will see an option similar to the highlighted "Install Pinterest..." in the first screen shot.  A PWA runs in its own window, providing a cleaner interface, and some apps (e.g. Google's image reducing Squoosh) will run totally without an Internet connection. 






https://developers.google.com/web/progressive-web-apps




Monday, May 27, 2019

Cages

A couple weeks ago I posted on our newly planted Lavender Veranda knockout roses and they are doing beautifully (pun intended), but I had to build these cages to keep the rabbits from gnawing them to the ground.  Little bas**rds love any kind of new growth, even if it has thorns.  So we'll have to enjoy the muted view until they are fully established and not succulent enough for the bunnies.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Asparagus Wrapped In Prosciutto, Cheese And Puff Pastry

All you do is spread 6 tablespoons of soft garlic and herb cheese across two sheets (one package) of thawed puff pastry, top with 8 slices of prosciutto and cut into 30 strips.  Twist each strip, as shown below, meat side in, around a trimmed asparagus spear and bake seam down at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Fancy, colorful and delicious!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Remote Desktop Web

Google has extended their Chrome Remote Desktop (CRD) with a web browser version so you can access your own systems or help out family and friends.  The target system still needs the CRD app installed, but you only need a web browser.  The screenshot below is my Acer Chromebook laptop accessing my home office Mac Mini as I began to write this post.  This link can help you get started.

https://remotedesktop.google.com/


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Pay Less Liquor Sale

During a recent trip to a Pay Less grocery store in Muncie, Indiana to grab a couple bottles of Buffalo Trace bourbon (wish they did that in Ohio), we stumbled upon a half-off sale on to-be-discontinued items such as the handle of Woodford Reserve bourbon and fifths of Patron Tequila and Sexton Irish Whiskey you see below.  Stunned, but not too stunned, to snatch up these incredible bargains.

Shout out to Pat D for the trip to Pay Less!


Monday, May 20, 2019

Slow-Motion Video

This isn't to show that my golf swing needs more than a little work, but rather that until last Saturday I had no clue that my Android phone could capture slow-motion video.  That option was behind the "more" in the camera app, somewhere I never have the inclination to look.  But when I saw that an iPhone could do it, it spurred me to investigate and find this hidden gem.

Shout out to Emma D for the assist!

https://support.google.com/googlecamera/answer/7064897


Friday, May 17, 2019

Elaine's Veggie Soup

From time to time my wife makes a huge pot of vegetable soup and each one ends up being a bit unique because it includes whatever bags of end-of-life vegetables, fresh or frozen, happen to be available.  She starts by sautéing onion and garlic in some oil and adding that to one box each of chicken broth and chicken stock, a couple cans of diced tomatoes, a small head of cabbage (shredded), sliced carrots and celery, and rosemary, thyme and sage.  She simmers all that until the carrots are tender, then adds spinach leaves and finishes with salt and pepper to taste.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Guanabana

Guanabana, also known as soursop, is a fruit native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the Caribbean and tastes like a combination of pineapple, banana and papaya.  I had never heard of it until a friend mentioned it on some advertisement in Fort Lauderdale last March.  Then a couple months later I saw this Welch's drink in our local Kroger and decided to give it a try.  It was delicious and a nice change of pace.

Shout out to Evelyn for bringing Guanabana to our attention!

http://www.welchs.com/products/juice-and-cocktails/refrigerated/guanabana-mandarin-refrigerated-juice-cocktail


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Amazon Day

In the past I waited to order Amazon's low-cost "Add-on Items" which are not shipped free for even Prime members without a larger purchase, but no more.  Amazon now allows you to select "Your Amazon Day" (I picked Friday below for no particular reason) and if you select that for your delivery option, the Add-On Items are shipped free (I love free), even with no other purchase, and you don't lose your normal free two-day delivery (which is rapidly headed to one-day).  Totally cool!

https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=17928921011



Monday, May 13, 2019

$693.84

Thanks to more fortune than skill, we just saved almost seven hundred dollars off our resort room on Turks and Caicos.  We booked it months ago at full price, but recently they ran a 25% off sale and a simple phone call to their reservations desk secured the lower price.  This will ultimately result in our entire party saving nearly three thousand dollars.  I'll be keeping a closer eye on future trip reservations to keep more dollars in our pocket.

Shout out to Steve and Karen P for the major savings!


Friday, May 10, 2019

Frittata

The trifecta of diet-friendly, easy-to-make, and stores-for-days in the refrigerator make Frittata's a winner in our kitchen.  What you put in yours is up to your imagination and taste preferences, but the chopped asparagus spears are a mainstay in ours, and we prefer half-n-half over plain milk to give it some extra fluff.  We used ten eggs in our 12 inch cast iron skillet below, but the number of eggs you need will vary according to size of your frypan.




Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Lavender Veranda

It was time to reimagine our circular garden, so everything went and the ground throughly rototilled.  The two sets of wind-powered blades on the new centerpiece turn in opposite directions, creating a soothing effect.  The six new knockout rose bushes seem a little lost now, but in a few years they will fill in and deliver a stunning sea of lavender rose petals.

https://www.kordes.us/plants/lavender-veranda




Saturday, May 4, 2019

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Fine Wine Sunday has been a tradition for many years now and the one below featured Bobby Flay's Grilled Shrimp Skewers.  The shrimp was grilled for just a few minutes then brushed with simmered olive oil, garlic and chile flakes that's blended with oregano, salt and pepper.  It was accompanied by jasmine rice, baked Parmesan green beans and a bottle of Sanford “Vista al Rio" Pinot Noir.

My wife knocks it out of the park once again!

https://www.recipe-diaries.com/grilled-shrimp-skewers-bobby-flay/


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Ground Bison

This was a welcome sight a few weeks ago, as ground bison made a big comeback at our local Costco.  We've found it at other grocery stores from time to time, but we like Costco's the best.  Don't limit your summer grilling to everyday hamburger, but the low fat content of the bison does call for a spicy topper.

https://www.costco.com


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Excel /x

Normally Excel opens all spreadsheets in a single instance, but I had the need to open an Excel spreadsheet in a separate process.  Fortunately Microsoft added a startup switch, "/x", back in the memory-constrained 32-bit days, to allow multiple, very large spreadsheets to be open concurrently.  While that's not the reason I needed it (it's more than a tad geeky), I was glad to have it available and led me to the discovery of a number of other startup switches, detailed at the link below.

https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/command-line-switches-for-microsoft-office-products-079164cd-4ef5-4178-b235-441737deb3a6#ID0EAABAAA=Excel


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Head Hugger

Never too early to load up on Christmas stocking stuffers and these $9 Head Huggers are perfect for the ladies.  They're fun, colorful, comfortable and more absorbent than your average headband, while being very versatile.  Notice the eight pictures at bottom of each package.  You can even use it to tie up your ponytail, warm your face on a brutal winter day or cover your bikini top.

https://justaddwaterclothing.com/products/batik-bali-head-hugger


Monday, April 29, 2019

iPhone/iPad Text Size

You can change the font size on your iPhone and iPad by tapping Settings, then Display & Brightness and finally Text Size.  Slide the dot left for smaller type, right for larger.  If that isn't big enough, go to Accessibility Settings to get real large.  Not all apps support Dynamic Type, so results will vary.

Shout out to Keith F, yet again, for this tip!

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202828


Friday, April 26, 2019

Shrimp Quesadillas

We've eaten a lot of quesadillas, but this one my wife made last week is a "can't-stop-to-chew-completely" marvel.  The shrimp, mayonnaise, roasted red pepper and cilantro are awesome, but the pepper jack cheese is the star of the show.  Better have a couple extra ready to go, they're that good.

Tip: Don't keep the cheese in the freezer longer than specified, or the result is a lot more work.  Brought to you by the "been there, done that" school of hard knocks.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/shrimp-quesadilla-5636906