Tuesday, December 31, 2019

How To Tie a Tie

My one New Year's resolution will be to learn to properly tie a bowtie and this Animated Knots website might just be the trick, stepping through each twist, turn and fold a little at a time.  It's not limited to bowties, so if your teenager wants to learn to tie a necktie without their parent's help, be a friend and send them this.


Friday, December 27, 2019

Swiss Steak

I remember having Swiss Steak often as a kid, but (sorry Mom), it was not anywhere near as delicious as this recipe delivers.  Nothing fancy or difficult, just brown the meat and add it to a slurry of onions, garlic, celery, tomato paste, tomatoes, paprika, oregano, Worcestershire sauce and beef broth.  This makes a great winter Sunday dish, filling the house with mouth-watering aromas.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Google Lens

I took the picture below to remind myself what to buy to try to make this most delicious margarita at home, figuring I'd have to type this into a list.  But all that's necessary to bypass that is to press the Google Lens icon at the bottom of the photo which will find all the text in your photo.  Just press on the text you want, adjust the beginning and ending markers, then touch "Copy text". 

The Google Lens icon looks like this:  


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Santa's House

We don't lack for Christmas creativity in our neighborhood, but I'm not sure what these folks were thinking.  But I'm pretty sure that Santa thought he was lost when he poked his head out and it was sunny and sixty degrees.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Samuel L. Jackson Celebrity Voice

I snagged this introductory price, 99 cents, and added the Samuel L. Jackson skill to Alexa.  It's rated Mature, and that's for a good eff'ing reason.  Fortunately you choose whether you like the explicit language or not.

My favorite is "Alexa, tell Sam good morning".  Puts a chuckle in my day.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Spice Collection

This just might be the best White Elephant gift ever!  Well, maybe #2 (pun intended) after the time I gave a stuffed white elephant, earning my nickname of Mr. Literal.  Five large containers of spice blends for any grilling occasion.  I think I'll start with some baked chicken with the one on the right.


Friday, December 20, 2019

White Chicken Chili

Shut the front door!  This one is an absolute stunner.

Chicken is combined with Great Northern beans, corn, chicken broth, chicken soup, green chile peppers and taco seasoning, then goes low-and-slow in a crock pot for 8-10 hours.  Take the chicken out, shred it and return it to the pot, then add sour cream and pepper Jack cheese and wait a few minutes until it's melted.  Top with some tortilla strips for a crunchy extra.

All credit goes to my wife.  Thanks for warming our bellies with a new winter favorite!


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Boca Clips

Besides being absolutely adorable, these clips are sure to keep your towel from flying off your beach lounger.  With more than a dozen options, you're sure to find a lovely pair.  Can we say "last minute stocking stuffer"?


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Visited States Map

This handy website lets you select those states you've visited and builds a colorful map with the white states representing those you still need to visit.  I've managed to complete everything east of the Mississippi River, and other than Oklahoma and New Mexico, the remainder is in the northwest.  Only eleven to go!


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Costco Checks

Back in the day most of us paid our utility bills, our groceries and the department store shopping trip with personal checks, so Costco's check ordering service, run by Harland Clarke, would have been a bigger cost saver than in today's online bill pay and credit card happy world.  But we still use them and when we recently needed more checks, we took Clark Howard's advice and looked into this less expensive alternative.  Not only did we save a lot of money, the checks came in the handy "CheckFolio" seen below.  You don't have to be a Costco member to order through this web site, but it saves you a little bit more if you are.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Google Assistant Note-Taking Apps

Really Google?  It took this long?

At last Google has integrated a number of note-taking apps to its Google Assistant, most important to me being Google's own Keep app.  Now instead of opening Keep, starting a note and typing in the details, I can do it all hands free with one command and whatever I need to remember to do, like this:
  1. Hey Google, take a note
  2. "Whatever I say next goes into the note"
ADT (About D... Time)


Friday, December 13, 2019

Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

We recently splurged for a Sous Vide (French-to-English translation: "Under Vacuum") low temperature circulator and prepared this pork tenderloin per the instructions at the link below.  The 140 degree setting used for this cut of meat delivered a medium, juicy doneness.  The seasonings really get infused into the meat, much more than any other method we've used.  After several hours the pork was removed and finished in a hot skillet to add some roasty curb appeal.


Thursday, December 12, 2019


With the abundance of streaming options available, sometimes the hardest part is finding something to watch and not over-paying for rentals.  JustWatch makes both a snap with its ingenious interface.  You can select one or more of your streaming services and get a list of options.  You can also click on a title, like the Avengers Endgame movie shown below, and see if it's available for free (stream), and where and how much it costs to rent or buy.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Amazon Echo 3

I preordered my first Amazon Echo on January 9th, 2015 and waited nearly three months to get it.  Almost five years later I've upgraded to the Echo version 3, which is not only a nicer overall design, but the sound quality is phenomenal, particularly the base.


Monday, December 9, 2019

Hafod Hardware

Hafod Hardware is located in the Welsh town of Rhayader and its owner, Thomas Lewis Jones, created this Christmas video (found at his web site below), which features his 2-year-old son Arthur, at a cost of about $132.  It certainly will be the most heartwarming two minutes of your day.  I'll be comparing this to all those high-priced commercials on TV from now through the Super Bowl, but if they can beat this, I'll be shocked.


Friday, December 6, 2019

Culp's Cafe

This delicious bad boy is a Croque Madame, topping ham, swiss, Dijon mustard and b├ęchamel sauce,
on sourdough, with a sunny-side-up egg.  It's served at Culp's Cafe at Carillon Park.  Culp's is a throwback to the soda fountains of my youth (i.e. a long time ago), and they serve floats, sodas, phosphates and my favorite, milkshakes.  You can look over the mouthwatering menu at this link.


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Running Profits - November 2019 Update

I'm sad to report that this solitary penny is all I found last month on my six-month ice-cream-cone quest.  I guess not a lot of people are outside losing their spare change, or the leaves are hiding them, or maybe since I run the same routes all the time that I've run the well dry.  My five-month total stands at $2.83 as I head into December, the final month of the quest.  I was really hoping for a two-dipper, but I may end up a little short.  Sigh.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Zucchini Gratin

You need a few vegetarian side dish recipes that are simultaneously delicious for all and this combination of zucchini, pumped up with Gruyere cheese, yellow onion, butter and bread crumbs, should be on your radar.  I suggest using a mandoline to make each slice of zucchini the identical thickness and to speed up the entire process.  Getting the top brown to your liking takes some well-worth-it attention at the end.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Skillet Rosemary Chicken

This recipe starts on the stove, ends in the oven and requires minimal cleanup.  A paste of rosemary, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and olive oil infuses the chicken an amazing amount of flavor and throwing in the leftover lemon husks and a couple sprigs of rosemary is over the top.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Roman Shades

These Roman Shades have added a splash of color and whatever level of extra privacy we desire.  It seems odd, but the new French Doors just seem to be more open to the backyard, even though it's probably more illusion than reality.  This is our second purchase from Sophisticated Shades, which located in the Cross Pointe Shopping Center, so we're obviously happy with their service. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

ZIP Codes

At last night's game of trivia at Romer's in Bellbrook, one seamingly simple question stumped our group of eight: What does the word "ZIP" in "ZIP codes" stand for?  None of us even knew it was a acronym, much less its meaning.  The answer is "Zone Improvement Plan", using ZIP to suggest that mail travels more quickly using ZIP codes.  These were introduced nationwide on July 1, 1963.  Lots more information at this Wikipedia link.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Then Ring Gradually

A very nice new feature on my Google Pixel 2 is the "Vibrate first then ring gradually".  When a call comes in the phone vibrates for about five seconds before beginning a gradual ramp up in ring volume until it gets to whatever max volume you've set.  It's a considerate way to catch most calls before your phone blasts out a full power ringtone.


Monday, November 11, 2019

August Moorman

I guess my great-granduncle August liked them younger and pregnant.  He fathered a total of 21 children, the first 6 by Anna, who was 7 1/2 years younger.  He remarried after Anna passed in her early thirties, having 15 more children by Rosa, who was almost 14 years younger.  And it didn't stop there.  August and Anna's first 2 children, Frank and Ferdinand, gave him 24 grandchildren.  When I have a day or two to spare, I'll try to figure out how many great-grandchildren (i.e. my generation) he had, but it's probably enough to have their own zip code.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Hasselback Apples

To properly cut the apples Hasselback style, lay a peeled and cored half-apple on a cutting board flat side down and the cut-out core running left to right.  Then lay a chopstick at the top of the apple and another at the bottom of the apple, also both running left to right.  Then make cuts, about 1/4 inch wide, from top to bottom (i.e. perpendicular to the chopsticks) allowing the knife blade to make contact with the chopsticks to prevent cutting all the way through.  They get baked with a butter and sugar mixture, topped with a streusel of oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, butter and brown sugar, then baked some more.  Your house will smell awesome!


Thursday, November 7, 2019

$700 Over Grates

If you look at the way some people carry their smartphones, it's no wonder that the cracked screen industry does a thriving business.  To help myself be more cautious, I picture my Pixel 2 as seven, $100 bills (its actual cost to replace) and that I'm walking over grates with large openings ready to swallow my money into a sewer below.  Those imaginary grates are sized to roughly represent the probability that I will lose some, and possibly all, seven Benjamin Franklin's if I don't handle them with the care they deserve.

People act more responsibly when using cash and using this technique leverages that fact.  Try it and see if you notice a difference in your behaviour.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Smartphone Emergency Information

Both iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) phones provide a way for anyone with your phone to get critical medical information or dial an emergency contact without unlocking the phone, but you have to configure it now if you want it to be used later.  Most commonly this will be used to allow someone that has found your lost phone to return it, but can be a life-saver if you're not conscious during a medical emergency.  Don't hesitate, do it now.



Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Peyton's Places

We've watched several Peyton's Places episodes on ESPN+ and they are a delightful, funny and informative trip through the history of the National Football League.  The scene below, from the episode The Draft, included an IBM mainframe, specifically a System 360, which was the first computer I worked on back in my Wright State college days.  This one was used by the Dallas Cowboys to select potential draft picks based on analyzing a variety of player qualities.  While computers have gotten smaller, faster and cheaper, I miss flipping the switches, turning the dials and pushing the buttons on these "big iron" machines.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Running Profits - October 2019 Update

It had to happen.  After three consecutive months of increasingly finding more money, I only found 23 cents in October.  I think a lot of that is due to the number of leaves that have fallen, which hide these already-hard-enough-to-find jewels.  With two months remaining on my six-month ice cream cone quest, my total findings are $2.82.  With a little luck I'll be able to get a large, chocolate-dipped DQ cone as a result.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Tacos Carne Asada

This is a nice twist on your everyday taco.  Marinate flank steak, skirt steak, or similar cut, for one to eight hours in a "Mojo" consisting of garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, lime, orange, white vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Ignore the directions calling for a mortar and pestle, and use a small food processor instead.  Grill the steak for 7-10 minutes per side until medium-rare, then rest for 5 minutes. If you're a glutton for more chopping, you can make the Pico De Gallo yourself, but I opted for fresh store-bought. Add lettuce, onion, and cheese to all that and, BAM!, dinner is served.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Mexican-Style Grilled Corn

I've eaten boiled corn-on-the-cob slathered with melted butter since I was a little tyke.  My mother would sometimes pair that with sliced tomatoes and a glass of milk, and that was our dinner, one of the best of our summers.  But this recipe ventured into the unknown, both by grilling the corn and then tossing it with a creamy combination of mayo, sour cream, cheese and other ingredients.  As the picture at the bottom shows, it pairs very nicely with my beard.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Lasagna Roll-Ups

This vertical twist on meatless lasagna delivers portion-control and taste in an easy-to-assemble recipe.  The noodles are steeped in boiling water for about 20 minutes while you make a cheese and herb spread that's kicked up with lemon zest.  Then, one at a time, you lay a noodle down, spread the cheese mixture down its center and roll it up.  Pour half the tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, line up the lasagna pointed up, and finish with the rest of the tomato sauce.  I opted to put the Parmesan cheese on top before baking, contrary to the directions at the link below.  Leftovers can be frozen and microwaved for days of yummy repeats.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles

We recently decided to buy a waffle maker and instead of making the waffles of our childhood, we went for these Spiced Pumpkin Waffles, filling the house with the aromas of Thanksgiving.  There were two left over, which we divided into quarters, put in plastic storage bags and placed in the freezer.  That's the perfect shape for the toaster to heat and crisp them back to life.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Cooper's Hawk

Besides Cooper's Hawk having a great tasting area, upscale bar and restaurant, and the best Crispy Brussels Sprouts possibly anywhere, you can have your wine aerated and filtered using their self-serve Grapevine Decanter.  If you avoid overpaying for wine at restaurants, you'll be thrilled at their bottle prices.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Elaine's Pepperoni Bread

Years in the making, this video documents my wife's preparation of her famous Pepperoni Bread, a legion with Alter High School football players of yesteryears.  Dough, pepperoni, cheese and egg wash combine to make a "bet you can't eat just one piece".  I never can.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

100K Faces Project

Not really sure what I would ever do with this, but having 100,000 free (I love free) facial pictures to augment a story or blog seems useful.  What's really cool is that all these are generated using Artificial Intelligence (AI), so they are not real people. 


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Fall Foliage Map

While Mother Nature is not that predictable, but this interactive map can help you plan a trip to see the trees at their peak color.  The slider bar at the bottom is graduated in weeks, just click and drag the circle, or click anywhere along the bar, to get the map to update. 


Monday, September 30, 2019

Running Profits - September 2019 Update

After finding 97 cents total in July and August, September blew that out of the park will a haul of $1.62, powered by running across a dollar bill on the 1st of the month.  With a three month total of $2.59, I'm getting really close to that Dairy Queen ice cream cone that will reward my diligence.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Caesar Brussels Sprouts

We love Brussels Sprouts.  We love Caesar Salads.  This recipe brings them together, topped with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Thanks to my wonderful and culinary-talented wife for another healthy and delicious side dish!


Monday, September 16, 2019

Doggy Water Fountain

I imagine countless dogs enjoying a cold drink from this doggy dish water fountain at Lincoln Park Civic Commons in Kettering.  Above this is the human version along with three other water fountains in the park, all a very welcome sight on this hot summer for this runner.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Pastrami-Rubbed Smoked Tri-Tip

We've fallen in love with using a dry rub on our beef and this combination of black pepper, salt,
coriander, mustard, brown sugar, paprika and garlic and onion powders really does make this steak taste like a pastrami sandwich.  Couldn't find a tri-tip, so we substituted a flat iron steak, which worked well.  While the directions call for grinding a bunch of seeds, save yourself a ton of work and use their already-ground brethren.  Baking it low and slow in the oven is an easier alternative and a really good choice for the cooler months.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Spectrum TV App

The Roku has the Spectrum TV app which means it's possible to replace a cable box, and its monthly fee, with this app.  I would suggest this only for an infrequently used TV, as the app's interface is very cumbersome.  But if you setup just a few "favorites" and use the other standard filters to limit the stations displayed, it's worth it.

I'm still waiting for an Amazon Fire TV Cube version of the app, and pray its interface is vastly better when it arrives.  Ever the optimist...


Monday, September 9, 2019

Wi-Fi Interference

Figuring out the cause of Internet connectivity problems in the invisible world of wireless networking is difficult and a challenging guessing game.  We recently had problems which included poor performance and interruptions of a few seconds to a minute, affecting Netflix, smartphones, tablets and, fortunately, my Mac's wireless mouse.  The mouse problem pointed to some type of RF (Radio Frequency) interference and with the help of NetSpot's free (I love free) app, I noticed that we had three very strong Wi-Fi signals, one obviously our TP-Link router, but the other two were not familiar, but had to be very close by.  I then noticed our Spectrum-provided cable modem had a "WPS" (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button on its top, even though we didn't sign up for their in-home wireless network service.  The wireless network names (SSIDs) on the cable modem matched the two unfamiliar names.  The label also listed the userid and password to logon to the cable modem, which allowed me to disable those wireless networks, as shown below.  With those changes made, our Wi-Fi/Internet issues have disappeared.


Friday, September 6, 2019

Garlic-Chipotle Chicken Tacos

The chipotle chiles, garlic and chili powder give this spin on chicken tacos a real kick.  We opted to make the chicken on the stovetop and roast the peppers and onions on the grill.  Eating this well on a Tuesday night is only a small part of what makes my wife so special.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Running Profits - August 2019 Update

An update for August 2019 on my profits from running, those coins dropped on sidewalks, roads, etc.  This last month I netted 71 cents, powered by finding two quarters within a few yards of each other.  Combined with the 26 cents from July 2019, my total is now 97 cents, well on the way to my goal of buying a small Dairy Queen ice cream cone.  Another month as rich as this one and I might make it much sooner than I originally anticipated.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hasselback Caprese Chicken

Take four chicken breasts and slice 80% of the way through about every half-inch (that's the Hasselback method), then fill with a dab of pesto, a little wedge of fresh mozzarella and a tomato slice.  After baking, a couple minutes under the broiler will add a bit of crispy coloring.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Kayak Explore

Just wanna get away?

If you're less set on a particular destination than how much you're going to spend, Kayak's Explore tool can help.  Just plug in the airport you want to depart from and you're presented with the best prices to loads of destinations.  There are filters for cost, duration, dates and number of stops to whittle down the choices.  Still have to pack your own bags...


Friday, August 23, 2019

Texas Beef & Cattle Company

My choice for Dayton's best barbecue is Texas Beef & Cattle Company, located at 1101 West Third St, just a few blocks west, over the river, from downtown.  Great brisket, pulled pork and great sides, like the mac-n-cheese shown below.  They are working on a second location on the first floor of the CareSource building at 217 N. Patterson Blvd, which I imagine will be packed during lunch hour.  

Thursday, August 22, 2019

New Patio Deck

Just completed a few weeks ago, our new deck is 40% larger, uses TimberTech composite decking and railing for zero maintenance and features a venting patio door from Steeves & Sons.  At the bottom of the post caps are lights that can be set to stay on at night or for just a few hours.  The before picture is included at the bottom which really shows what a fantastic upgrade this is.  Great job, as always, by Jason Best and his crew!