Friday, May 29, 2020


Mrs. Fields makes the best cookies and her snickerdoodles are my #1 favorite.  I snatched a warm one fresh from the oven, from the wire rack below, before I thought to take a picture.  Reheat them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to resurrect that warmth.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

U.S. 35 Superstreet

If you've ever traveled westbound from Xenia towards Dayton at rush hour, you've probably encountered a heavy backup along the way.  That's going to improve by replacing the traditional stoplights at Factory Road and Orchard Lane with what ODOT is calling a "superstreet", where cars on Factory and Orchard will only be able to make a right-hand turn.  Motorists who wanted originally to turn left or go straight will do a legal U-turn at a nearby one-way, signalized median crossover to backtrack to the intersection and turn right (if they originally wanted to go straight) or continue straight ahead (if they originally wanted to turn left).  The picture below does a nice job providing a visual.  I just think of it as a stretched-out roundabout.

Read more about it at this link.  The project is underway and will continue through most of 2022.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Gutter Strainer

As part of dealing with a clogged downspout, I installed this gutter strainer to help keep leaves and the dreaded "whirly-birds" from doing a repeat performance.  While installing gutter-guards would be a better solution, they come at a steep price, and at less than $3, I'll be happy to get the ladder out a few extra times a year to clean out the accumulated debris.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Google Meet On Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a $35, single-board computer built for the IT hobbyist.  I loaded it with its standard Raspbian Linux image, which includes the Chromium web browser (the open-source version of Google Chrome), and started up a Google Meet video conference from the comfort of my basement.  It's a good project to learn about the Raspberry Pi and Linux, but having something really useful at the end is a bonus.

Monday, May 25, 2020

State Route 11

I was introduced to U.S. 35 back in the early 1970s when it provided a much quicker route to my grandfather's home in Beavercreek from my parent's home in North Dayton.  But what I recently found out is this road was State Route 11 back before the adoption of the U.S. Highway System in 1926.  I've circled the 11's in the picture below and also circled the 1's, as U.S. 40 was known as State Route 1 back then.  You can also see the neighboring towns of Fairfield and Osborn, which were still 25 years away from merging and becoming Fairborn in 1950.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Costco Cod

While Costco is a "big box store", they are really good for their meat, shrimp and, as shown below, Trident brand Beer Battered Cod fillets.  Add some dill pickles and a few dollops of Frisch's tartar sauce (simply the best version) and you have a quick and delicious meal. 

What about the peas?  They make the photo prettier.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lincoln Park Civic Commons And Fraze Pavilion

This has been one of the longest springs in my memory, with blooms staying on trees for weeks instead of a few days.  This turned the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering into the beautiful sight seen below, the entrance to the Pavilion being seen across the pond in the Lincoln Park Civic Commons. 

Fraze is named for Ermal Fraze, who was born on a farm near Muncie, Indiana, later moved to Dayton, Ohio, started Dayton Reliable Tool & Manufacturing Company (now DRT Manufacturing Company) and most loved for inventing the pull-tab opener used in beverage cans, ending the need to carry around a "church key", whose pointy end was used to poke a hole through the top of a can.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Sanborn maps detail U.S. city streets and buildings for over 100 years beginning in the 1860s.  They were created to allow fire insurance companies to assess policy risk and liability, but they offer an invaluable resource for exploring history.  For example, the 1900 U.S. Census provided the street addresses my grandmothers grew up at, but neither street came up in Google Maps, as they no longer exist, but I found them on Sanborn maps. Another example is shown below, displaying where the Miami-Erie Canal (shown as just the Miami Canal) split in two, with the left, local extension traveling up what is now Patterson Blvd, before turning east between Monument Avenue and the Mad River.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Smith Gardens

Smith Gardens, located on Oakwood Avenue in Oakwood, Ohio, is a small yet beautiful oasis.  Ohio Magazine called Smith Gardens the “finest tiny public garden in Ohio" back in 1996.  It's just one stop on an 8-mile, self-guided tour of Oakwood that includes Hawthorn Hill, home of the Wright Brothers, and many other stunning mansions.  While touring in a car is an option, if you have the legs for it, I suggest walking the route, perhaps breaking it into 2-4 sections and doing them on different days.  If you think we don't have hills around here, this path will correct that misperception.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Google Fi Savings

I was pleasantly surprised when my last cell phone bill was $7-$8 less than normal, then realized that I'm on Wi-Fi most of the time since I'm mostly at home.  My Google Fi plan costs me $20/month, one penny per ten megabytes of data (yes, it's billed in penny increments) and, of course, almost 14% additional for taxes and fees.

Contrast my plan with my wife's Verizon plan.  She's currently getting an additional 15GB of data per month free.  This is perfectly useless for her and almost everyone else, except Verizon can keep their normal revenue ($52.07 this month) and make it look like they're so very generous at the same time, giving away to those very few the bandwidth we freed up by staying at home.

Not fooling this guy.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Eggs Benedict

A little recipe modification here, subbing sliced turkey for the traditional Canadian bacon, but the star of this show is the Hollandaise Sauce, made with an entire stick of butter, lemon juice, and a couple of egg yolks.  I gave myself permission to lick the plate clean before putting it in the dishwasher.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

World Of Engineering

One of my favorite followings on Instagram and Twitter is World Of Engineering.  They present a host of short videos on how things work, how they are made or just fascinating stuff, like a drone using a flamethrower to clear power lines.  It’s a wonderful diversion from cats, politics and annoying promotions.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Foam Sucker

Somethings you discover as a kid last forever.  I don't know if anyone else loves to suck on the foam of a soda (in my case Pepsi) right after it’s poured, but I do, as shown below.  Maybe it's just that the first taste is always the best or I can't wait another five seconds.  Or I just haven’t grown up yet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Anono-Mask Game

Each person puts on a pair of plastic glasses and attaches a picture, unknown to them, covering the top half of their face.  Each person gets to ask a question requiring a “yes” or “no” answer and tries to guess what they are.  First person who guesses correctly is the winner.

Well, that’s the official rules, but we elected to just have one person put on a mask and we each gave them clues, while we laughed at them and drank beer, until they figured it out.

Big shout-out to Marilou for the afternoon fun!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Farfalle with Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Twelve tablespoons of parsley, dill, mint, and chives, a half inside and a half on top, make this pile of bowtie-shaped farfalle pasta as beautiful as it is tasty but don't forget the garlic, shallot, and goat cheese that punch it up.  The creaminess comes from the goat cheese and a 1/2 cup of half-and-half.  Our only caution is the addition of the zest and juice of an entire lemon.  You might want to cut that in half to get a better balance to the flavors.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Outlet For Alexa

When we had the deck rebuilt last year we moved the outdoor GFCI outlet out of the way, only thinking we needed that to power the deck lights.  That turned out to make it a bit inconvenient to bring an Amazon Echo outside to listen to music, needing to thread the power cord through the railing, then walk all the way the deck to plug it in.  Fortunately, we have our brother-in-law Albert, shown below, to pull together a sweet solution to extend the circuit make a new outlet easily reachable for Alexa.

Big shout-out and thanks to Albert!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Google Color Picker

I was just searching for an online tool to help pick a website color and entered "color picker".  Instead of just a bunch of search results, Google presented its tool, which was perfect for my need.  Just move the slider left and right to move through the spectrum, or enter your specific values.

At the bottom of the image below, you'll see the probably familiar RGB (Red-Green-Blue) and CMYK (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-blacK), but also HSV and HSL, both unfamiliar to me.  HSV is short for Hue-Saturation-Value and HSL for Hue-Saturation-Lightness and these alternatives are explained in detail at this Wikipedia link.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Kinship Terminology

As I dig into our family history, I find this chart particularly useful.  One memorable takeaway is that "first cousins share the same grandparents, second cousins share the same great-grandparents, and so on".  But why a "first cousin once removed" is the appropriate title for both the children of my first cousins and the parents of second cousins is beyond me.  Just seems lazy.


Monday, May 4, 2020

American Standard

Grab a glass of wine, turn down the lights, and sink into your favorite comfy place to listen to James Taylor's most recent album, American Standard.  A blend of classic, old-time favorites like My Blue Heaven from the Ziegfeld Follies, Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's movie, Almost Like Being in Love from Brigadoon and my favorite, Ol' Man River from the Broadway play Show Boat.  We played it via Spotify, but I can't say what other streaming services have it.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Italian Wedding Soup

The star of this show are the homemade meatballs, made with a combination of ground chicken and chicken sausage.  The award for the most surprising ingredient is the fresh dill, which gives the soup a unique and delicious kick, and deserves our applause.  While I’m not a big fan of soup in general, this one has me reaching for a biggie-sized spoon.