Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Birds Of A Feather

The picture below comes from the golf course at the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, Florida.  A large flock of black anhingas and white pelicans routinely line up on the shore of one of the many lakes and point themselves at the sun.  The anhingas don't have the oil glans that other birds have to make their feathers waterproof, so drying off is part of their daily lives.  Why the pelicans join in is a mystery to me.  Maybe they just like laughing at the golfers hitting approach shots into the lake.  

Monday, November 29, 2021

Asking Questions

I learned over the course of public speaking that asking questions to an audience is both a great way to engage them, but also a minefield of risks.  The rule I now use is "Ask questions everyone can answer."

A couple of real-life examples while engaging a grade school class.

I asked the question "Do you know how Gorilla glass was invented?", and every student knew the answer and the whole room responded "No."  If I had asked "How was Gorilla glass invented?", which is unlikely anyone would know, the response would have been uncomfortable silence.  Children, and adults, don't like being stupid and will disengage, at least a little, and maybe a lot.   What I found interesting was every student listened to exactly what I said.  When I repeat that to adults they tend to ignore the "Do you know" part.  

I then explained how the glass the scientists were working on was accidentally heated way beyond what they intended.  Then I asked "When they took the cooled-down glass out of the heater, they dropped it on a hard floor.  What do you think happened then?"  Every student shouted out "It shattered!!"  And I shouted back "No, it bounced!" and the entire class broke into laughter.  The fact everyone got the wrong answer was terribly funny to them.  No one felt left out or felt less of themselves. 

I've asked other questions that I wish I had thought more about before the words came out.  But I would instantly know from the looks on some of the people's faces I had made them feel bad.  I would think about why that particular question was phrased poorly and restructure it for the next time.  For example, I asked that same class above "Who has a cell phone?"  Most hands shot up, but not all, and I could tell by the faces of the few hands-down students I made them feel like outcasts.  I changed that question to "Who has an iPhone?", talked about that, and then asked "Who has an Android phone?" a few minutes later.  The students without cell phones could keep their hands down for both questions, but there were lots of other hands down at the same time, keeping them out of an embarrassing situation.

Friday, November 26, 2021

White Bean and Mushroom Soup

If you're looking for a new vegetarian soup recipe, this might be your ticket.  In addition to the title ingredients, you add vegetable stock and a colorful combination of kale, onion, sweet peppers, thyme, and other spices.  Takes about an hour from start to warming your innards.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Christmas Invasion

And the winner of the where-do-they-store-all-this-stuff award goes to the owner/decorators of this Kettering, Ohio home.  There are manger scenes, Santa's and Mrs. Claus's, nutcrackers, gingerbread people and houses, Winnie the Pooh, snowmen (including Frostie), Mickie and Minnie, penguins, reindeer, candy canes, gnomes, candles, and even a couple of seals (or sea lions, I can never remember which is which).  I guess they're really into the Christmas vibe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


I've been doing a fair (someone thinks "obsessive") amount of genealogy research, documenting as much of my family tree as I can find, starting with my great-great-grandfathers and working forward in time.  Occasionally something comes along that I find surprising, like the fact that I'm related, by marriage, to Charles Lofino, the man that opened this namesake Beavercreek grocery store and has a number of places named after him.

If I'm reading my "Table of Consanguinity" correctly,  Anna Mae Moorman (at the bottom right below), Charles' wife, is a "Second Cousin Once Removed", so we share the same great-great-grandparents, in our case, Franz Heinrich Moorman, who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the 1800s and started a huge list of Moorman descendants, myself included.  This Wikipedia link includes that useful table of relationships.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Kids Surfing Contest

Besides the awesome close-to-shore water break seen below, this is a small portion of a local Vero Beach surfing club's young-person contest in late October.  I don't know about you, but growing up with a surfboard in my hands in the tenth month of the year seems idyllic.  What isn't shown is how remarkable these youngsters can surf.  Ah, to be young again!


Friday, November 19, 2021

Velero's in Valparaiso

Velero's is one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants I've ever visited, a real gem hidden in Valparaiso, Indiana.  The Mariscada Veleros shown below is a combination of grilled octopus, calamari, shrimp and fish sauteed in Habanero aioli and served with saboy slaw and tortillas.  You can check out the rest of the fantastic menu at this link.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Opening Line

When I give speeches or presentations I often introduce myself as "the son of two actors, an engineer and a cheerleader."  It's obvious from that statement that both of my parents were actors, but you would be wrong to apply the usual stereotypes to which one probably does the others.  Actually, my father was both the engineer and the cheerleader, and both at the University of Dayton.  It helps get my audience's attention and that what I'm going to say might be a little different from what they might expect.  Also, it's usually good for a chuckle or two.

My parents belonged to the Blackfriars Guild, a local acting company that existed back in the 1950s and 1960s.  The lucky little guy below was selected to play the part of a ring bearer in one of their plays.  Might be the last time I ever wore a bowtie.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Cost Of Home Energy

Timing is everything and I could have had no better timing when I signed up for a 2-year, fixed-price natural gas contract back in April of 2021.  I got a rate of .369 cents per Ccf (100 cubic feet) back then.  Per the graphic below, the best rate for a 2 or 3 year fixed contract is now .599 per Ccf.  That's about a 60% increase in the last 7 months.  Ouch!

We needed a new electricity contract come 2022 at the expiration of our previous 4-year deal and that rate increased from 5.29 cents per KWh (KiloWatt-hour) to 6.09 per KWh, a more modest 15% increase, which over a 4-year period doesn't seem terribly out of line.

The Ohio Energy Choice website, at the link below, is the place I always go to when I need a new contract.  You can filter and sort the results to get the best deal for you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Right-Angle Adapter

Here's the newest tool in my workshop, a right-angle adapter for my drill.  As shown in yesterday's blog, the cabinet I was working on was very narrow and my drill was too wide.  I went up to my local Greive Hardware store and much to my surprise found the adapter I needed.  As small as Greive's store is, I can count on one finger the number of times they didn't carry what I needed.  

Monday, November 15, 2021


This smaller house project, better utilizing the space in the narrow cabinet, has been on the list for a while.  The after picture on the right below shows how a couple of sliding shelves were added to provide storage for taller items (e.g olive oil bottles, bags of chips).  Even though these shelves are only eight inches wide and twenty-two inches deep, they provided enough relief for our corner cabinet to become much better organized.  More information on the sliding shelves can be found at this link.

Friday, November 12, 2021

The Blue Hen

One of the real benefits of traveling during lull periods is getting into usually-too-busy restaurants, which was the case with the breakfast/brunch gem, The Blue Hen, in downtown St. Augustine, Florida.  Elaine's selection was the Zada Jane's Stack, the sweet potato home fries, pork sausage-and-cheddar jack frittata, scallions, and biscuit pictured below.  "Yummy" just doesn't quite do it justice.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Finally Three Lanes

Shown below are the updated three-through lanes and exit lane on eastbound US-35 approaching Smithville Road.  This pinch point was the bane of my existence for the many years I commuted to and from downtown Dayton and while it arrived about a dozen years too late to do me any good, it's nice to know the current generation of workers will have their commute be a little nicer.  Hopefully, a resurface is coming sooner than later.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Airplane Mode

Android only folks...

Sitting on an airplane and trying to find that quick action to toggle Airplane mode is not a good time to realize that it's gone.  I assume during one of those periodic updates it was moved out of sight, needing a swipe left to discover.  But as per the instructions at the link below, it's easy to put it front-and-center where it belongs.


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Definition of Love

I was asked recently what is my definition of love.  I'm sure that we all have our own but have you ever written it down?  It's an interesting exercise in introspection into something perhaps we all take for granted.  Here's mine.  I'm sure yours will be different.  

Monday, November 8, 2021

High Tide

The video below is from Saturday, November 6th in St. Augustine, Florida as we tried to make our escape and get to Orlando.  A combination of a nor'easter bringing rain starting Thursday night and an unfortunate high tide late morning on Saturday made some streets unpassable and two of the three bridges out of the city were closed.  Navigator Elaine and Pilot Paul managed to find one of the few (barely) passable routes out, but not without some harrowing moments.  Life can be such an adventure at times, but we have no desire to repeat this nightmare.


Friday, November 5, 2021

Mangold's BBQ Sauce

Nick Mangold, the Kettering Alter High school grad, Ohio State University center, and seven-time Pro Bowler for the New York Jets, has a line of BBQ sauces, the ones below we found at Dorothy Lane Market.  The name, 74 BBQ Sauce, is a reference to his professional jersey number and each of his four sauces is inspired by the personalities of his four children.

Thursday, November 4, 2021


The nicest part of this mold and mildew remover is the shape of the bottle, easy to hold and squeeze and the tip makes it a snap to get in the corners and edges, which is where the build-up of junk is usually the worst.  

Pizza Volume

For reasons that don't matter, I needed to calculate the volume of a disk (i.e. cylinder), a task I haven't done in forever, so that formula is not on my favorites list.  Turns out that one smart guy turned that volume equation into a pizza formula.  If you assign the letter "z" to represent the pizza's radius and the letter "a" as the depth of the pie, the formula for the volume becomes the easy-to-remember...

Volume = Pi*z*z*a 

Math geeks might prefer their notation, V = πr2h, but I'm going with Pizza!


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Surfboard Shower

Repurposing a surfboard is one of the most unique and colorful ways I've seen to highlight an outdoor shower and foot wash.  Frankly, it's genius and so beachy!

Shout out to Dale and Kim for this delightful idea!

Monday, November 1, 2021

How America Works

One of this year's new TV shows that we've taken a liking to is "How America Works", hour-long episodes that take a deep dive into some of the major industries that employ millions.  Topics such as lumber, fishing, oil, electricity, and entertainment are very demanding and filled with dedicated men and women.