Monday, May 23, 2022

Electric Shock

Compared to the $0.609/KWh, 3-year rate I signed up for last December (2021), the best of the current rates is almost 50% higher.  It's a good time to review your current contract and usage, and plan for a big bump in your monthly bill if it affects you.  I'm hoping these rates come way down before my contract expires in December 2024, but I'll keep a close eye on it.  Look for your best rate at the link below.




Friday, May 20, 2022

Garlic Butter

That bread with the Caesar salad you see below is topped with Chef Elaine's homemade garlic butter, a combination of butter, garlic, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and paprika.  You might want to start by adding only one-half or maybe one-third of the garlic and add more until you get the bang you desire.  This one would scare off a vampire.




Thursday, May 19, 2022

1MORE Headphones

I needed a pair of wired, in-ear headphones but won't use them often enough to justify one of the more expensive brands.  A search for "best 3.5mm earbuds" led me to the article from Lifewire (first link below) where their Best Budget recommendation was "1MORE Piston Fit at Amazon" (second link).  I snagged a pair for only $12.99 plus tax.





Wednesday, May 18, 2022

More Arborvitae

In a few years, these six new arborvitaes will provide an even nicer visual screen from our neighbor's yards which became an issue when about a dozen of their dead trees had to be removed.  Gorman Landscaping did a great job removing the sod and a few good-sized roots, digging the holes, evenly spacing the trees, and mulching the entire area.  Arborvitae need a lot of water which we'll do using the "drip" setting on our hose's nozzle, fifteen minutes at a time per tree.




Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Romaine Redo

This little plant started as a bottom couple of inches of a store-bought head of romaine lettuce.  Gardner Elaine planted it in our raised herb bed (sorry bunnies) bottoms up, watering it daily, and in a week, these tiny leaves appeared.  Instead of it ending up in the trash, we're hoping for a tasty end-of-summer Caeser salad.

Big shout out to Kim for this garden suggestion!






Monday, May 16, 2022

Woven Balcony Set

We were fortunate to get this 3-piece set for our deck back in March before the price of outdoor furniture went through the roof.  It was one of those random deals you find at Costco that you jump on while supplies last.  It was a bit of a splurge, but we had just received our yearly Costco Cash Rewards certificate, which paid for a good chunk of it.

It came in a 5'x4'x3' box and fortunately, my son has a truck with a lift gate.  Mike, thanks for the assist!






 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Holly Inn Potato Chips

The basket of complimentary (I love free) homemade potato chips comes from The Tavern at The Holly Inn, located in the heart of Pinehurst, NC.  We made the hour-plus trip south from Chapel Hill just to have lunch and stroll through their small downtown.  But back to the chips.  They are addictive!  Chef Elaine and I are not big chip eaters but we simply could not stop going back for one handful after another.  They're the perfect combination of hot, salty, and oily.  Add to that an outside table on a beautiful day, and Bloody Mary's of course, and it was delightful. 




Thursday, May 12, 2022

"Fresh Catch" Pretzel

The cute soft pretzel shown below comes from Frenchy's Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach, FL, and is shaped like their fishbone logo, with cheese sauce and honey mustard on the side.  That was a little something for the stomach while sipping on their famous Frozen Rum Runner, which combines Don Q Pasión Rum, Dark and 151 rums, banana liqueur, blackberry brandy, and tropical fruit juices.  A couple of those and it's rum-dee-dumb-dumb!

For a view of their white sandy beach, check out the live video stream at the link below.




Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Faraday Bag

Our new E-ZPass instructed us to store the transponder in the package it arrived in when not in use to help prevent electronic snooping.  Of course, I had already torn open the bag and it was pretty much useless at that point.  So I hopped over to Amazon for a solution and found a pair of Faraday Bags for $12.  Each has two pouches with the one in the back being the signal blocker.  You can also store your car's key fob, contactless credit cards, and smartphones to protect them.




Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Garaged

My Jeep spends its life parked outside, a victim of having a single-car garage.  It's not a big deal, and having had a remote starter added a few years ago, makes for a warm seat in the winter.  I occasionally whine about it and I would really like to have a two-car garage someday like I've had a couple times in the past.

But out of the blue, I realized I should stop my whining.  

I grew up in a small home in North Dayton and it also had a one-car garage, the one shown below.  For as far back as I can remember, our family had two cars.  My Mom drove a big yellow Chevy station wagon and my Dad had a Corvair and then an Impala.  The station wagon was always parked in the garage and the Corvair/Impala was either in the driveway or on the street.  

Not once did I ever hear my Dad whine about it.  As far as I know, he never had his car in the garage, at least until after Mom passed away.  Thirty years without a word.  A real man.

Time to put on my big boy pants and shut my mouth.







Monday, May 9, 2022

Mystery Glob

The picture below comes from a sidewalk in Clearwater Beach, Florida.  It was one of many spotted while out for a walk.  Can you guess its purpose?

I couldn't figure it out but my brother-in-law (Thanks, Al) had the answer pretty quickly.  The patch was used to cover old parking meter post stubs which had been cut down and replaced with electronic pay stations.  I suppose that's one more job, Parking Meter Collector, that's being displaced little by little with technology.  



Friday, May 6, 2022

Corn Flake Chicken

Last week's "Foodie Friday" (the monster casserole) was topped with crushed corn flakes, but what does a non-breakfast-eater do with the rest of the box?  Chef Elaine noticed a recipe on the box for baked chicken (shown below) that was a nice twist on the more usual breaded version.  Kellogg's also sells Corn Flake Crumbs, which might not make a compelling breakfast cereal, but the all-purpose crumb coating would save smashing all the flakes yourself.




Thursday, May 5, 2022

Bloody Mary

This beauty below is a Limmy's Bloody Mary featured at Jimmy's Fish House and Iguana Bar in Clearwater Beach, Florida.  The skewer is almost a meal in itself and features shrimp, olive, tomato, hot pepper, green pepper, cucumber, red pepper, and yellow pepper.  Not that a Bloody Mary is my typical beach drink, but when I saw this I knew one must be mine.

https://www.jimmysfishhouse.net/menus/beverage-menu


 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

E-ZPass

After the recent $25.50 worth of tolls on I-64 in West Virginia, waiting in line, and paying in cash, I finally broke down and bought an E-ZPass (from our AAA office).  The $12 dollars I paid for it was refunded when I set up my online E-ZPass account.  When the balance in that account falls below $10, they use my provided credit card to boost it back up.  The only downside is they charge $0.75 per month to have an active account, but it's worth it to avoid all the other hassles.




Tuesday, May 3, 2022

WANFEI Bone Conduction Headphones

I needed a new pair of bone conduction headphones for the upcoming tanning season (aka going to the pool) and I decided to try an unknown brand called WANFEI, mainly because after a $20 off coupon they ended up only costing $50.  They work fine with my only complaint being that they don't produce a lot of volume, making them unusable in a noisy environment like an airplane.  

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FPMMZVM


 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Cool Cars

The Budget rental car agency in Tampa, Florida last week was a zoo.  They were totally disorganized and twice assigned us cars that weren't in their lot.  They managed on the third try to get it right and instead of our reserved "full size" car we ended up with a class they call "cool cars", in our case a Dodge Challenger with the 5.7 liter V8 Hemi shown below, for the same price.  We made some noise with this throaty beast!



Friday, April 29, 2022

Feed The Hungry

Chef Elaine made this 6.5-pound monster casserole for our church's "Feed The Hungry" program.  After baking the dish is frozen and delivered to the church where they take care to see all the food is sent to our local needy.  She also donates large 2-packs of Jif peanut butter that we get from Costco.  

SAUSAGE AND POTATOES AU GRATIN
2-3 lbs. mild Italian sausage (browned, drained, and chopped)
2 lb. bag frozen hash browns (partially thawed)
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
½ soup can of milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped onion
Topping: ¼ cup melted butter and 1½ cups crushed corn flakes
 
Grease the casserole pan. Mix all ingredients except the topping. Pour into prepared pan. Combine topping ingredients & sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cover tightly with foil and freeze the casserole. Deliver the casserole frozen and covered with foil.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Lovebugs

Florida is great for a lot of reasons, but as the picture below can attest to, lovebugs are not one of them, particularly if you're driving.  Just don't use your windshield wipers if a bug bomb like this happens to you or you are likely to lose most of your visibility.  Since lovebugs spend most of their brief few days alive mating, this car thinned out the future population a bit, not that it will be noticeable since a female lovebug can lay up to 350 eggs.  More lovebug information can be found at the link below.




Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Flower Cage

Look closely below and you'll notice that these beautiful spring flowers are protected by wire fencing that I presume is a defense against deer.  The combination of its green color, thin gauge, and wide spacing is a great design to balance protection and a clear view.  Stand ten or more feet away and the fencing is hardly noticeable.   



Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Backwards Screen Door

You would think that people who build houses for a living just might know enough not to install the screen door backward, not only on this house but on others in the same development.  Look at the latch in the picture below and notice that the screws are on the outside of the door.  That would make a thief happy.  The closer at the top is also on the outside, meaning the door opens into the house, and that means the door can hit you on your backside as you start to walk down the stairs.  Good grief!



Monday, April 25, 2022

Amazon Hub Locker - Tafio

I used the Amazon Hub Locker named Tafio, located outside the Shell station at Far Hills Avenue and Whipp Road, for a recent order to test out retrieving my box using just my Amazon smartphone app.  After a brief one-time setup, my phone connected to the locker over Bluetooth, and the door popped open.  Easy peasy.  More tips on using hub lockers and more at the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ref_=hp_left_v4_sib&nodeId=G201910770


 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Slow Cooker Coca-Cola Pulled Pork

This delicious pulled pork recipe uses Coca-Cola and vinegar to provide a sweet, tangy, and caramel infusion as the spice-rubbed pork shoulder goes low-and-slow for 4-5 hours or until done, then cooled and shredded.  For some nice crispiness, heat a cast-iron pan with a little oil, add a layer of pork, and turn once to hit both sides.  This YouTube video explains the whole process in detail.




Thursday, April 21, 2022

Tesla Service Center

Tesla is opening its first service center in the Dayton area in the old Staples store on West Dorothy Lane in Moraine, Ohio, about a quarter-mile west of Walmart.  The signage seen below was recently installed, but no sign of the bank of super-chargers could be found.  Tesla has not released an opening date yet, but soon Tesla owners will no longer have to travel to Cincinnati for service.

Big shout out to Nick, a Tesla owner, for this heads-up.




Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Mad River Roundabout

The replacement of the four-way stop sign intersection at Mad River and West Alex-Bell Roads with a roundabout has begun and is expected to take four months to complete.  It will be interesting to see how much better traffic flows and if the long rush-hour lines are significantly improved.  Unfortunately, there are no short-and-sweet detours available, so consult the maps at the link below or use your favorite Maps app to find your best alternate route.




Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Playaway

The large Books-on-CD section at the Washington-Centerville public library shrank quite a bit recently, largely replaced by Books-on-Playaway like the one shown below.  You insert a AAA battery, attach the device via a 3.5mm cable to your speaker and use its controls like an audio player.  Sounded like a great idea until I found our Infiniti G37x did not come equipped with the AUX port option, so plan B was to download the audiobook to my Pixel 2 and go the Bluetooth route.

I guess CD players are another thing that's come and gone in my lifetime.




Monday, April 18, 2022

Toronto Maple Leafs

At a recent Marriott Courtyard bar conversation during a hockey game, a lady asked me if I knew why they spell the team the "Toronto Maple Leafs" instead of the "Toronto Maple Leaves".  I did not at the time but it comes down to not understanding some of the finer grammatical rules of the English language.  If a noun like this is related to a name, not an object, then the rule is to add an "s" to the name.  The name here is "Maple Leaf", the Canadian national symbol.

The same logic applies to "Mickey Mouse", which is pluralized as "Mickey Mouses", not "Mickey Mice".

A more in-depth explanation can be found at this link.






Friday, April 15, 2022

Convection Oven Chicken

The bird below is the juiciest version of a whole roast chicken I've ever had, the benefit of using our convection oven feature.  Just a little softened butter, salt, and pepper inside and out and perch the bird on a wire rack to get the swirling hot air on all sides.  It takes a little less time and temperature than the conventional radiant heat alternative.  Read about the details at the link.




Thursday, April 14, 2022

UPS Delivery

Recently we found a UPS-delivered box on our front porch that was meant for the same house number but on the street one block north of us.  My wife, being the nice lady that she is, drove it over to the proper house.  But not the end of the story.

The next day a UPS driver shows up at our front door asking if we had picked up that misdelivered package and I told him we had and that we delivered it to the right address.  He thanked us and went on his way.  But a little while later we thought, "How in the world did he know the package was misdelivered and to us?"  

The only thing I can figure out is that the driver scanned the package when they delivered it and later on some GPS tracking backend audit caught the fact that those coordinates did not match the intended address but ours instead.  The next time a UPS driver stops by our house making a delivery I'll ask them about it.  



Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Garden Tools Sharpened

We just had two of our most used garden tools sharpened at our local Grieve hardware store, making the upcoming growing season less stressful on our hands.  While the local guy, Bernie, does sharpening of all types, what I didn't know is that he also tunes up lawnmowers, blowers, and other gas or electrical tools.  I wish I had known that two weeks ago when I took my Troy-Bilt mower in for service and found out that the backlog was 5-6 weeks.  Timing is everything, and in this case, bad timing.




Tuesday, April 12, 2022

1950 Census

The detailed 1950 census data is now available online at the link below.  While there is a name search function available, I've found it's pretty worthless.  Since I knew the addresses of the houses my grandparents lived in, I needed to find which Enumeration District (ED) the census used for both, and that was at first very confusing.  I eventually figured them out and searching for those EDs led to a dozen or two hand-written census forms, like the picture below, that I manually searched through until I found my Mom and Dad.

My parents married later in 1950 and the census validated:
  • My Dad worked as an electrical engineer at General Motors and lived at home
  • My Mom worked as a secretary at a children's orphanage and lived at home
I guess kids living with their parents into their 20s is not a new thing, and it's nice to know they both had jobs.

I don't know if I ever knew the following, but I forgot them if I did (I was born 5 years later)
  • My Great-grandmother Clotilda (Tillie) Paulick lived with her daughter Anna next door to my Grandfather Leo and Grandmother Walburga (Wally) Moorman (Anna's sister)
  • My Mother's sister Eleanor and her family lived next door to my Grandfather Maurice, my mom, and two siblings



Monday, April 11, 2022

Pasadena Green Space

There is a small area at the corner of Devon Avenue and North Marshall Drive in Kettering, shown in the first picture below, called the Pasadena Green Space.  It's really just a convenient walking path over to Sharon Avenue, but the interesting part to me was why is it called "Pasadena"?

The answer is shown in the second picture, taken from a 1950 census map, that shows there was a large neighborhood called Pasadena along the now-defunct railroad spanning from the Dayton city limits to the north to Stroop Road to the south.  You can usually find a street, business, school, or church that was named after the neighborhood, but so far, other than this green space, I can't find any other reference to Pasadena nearby.







Friday, April 8, 2022

Smoked Pork Chops

These smoked pork chops we bought at Dot's Market were seared in a cast iron frying pan for about 4 minutes per side and taste a little like pork chops, a little like bacon and a lot like ham.  The single leftover was trimmed from the bone, reheated and placed on a brioche bun for a special lunch treat.  




Thursday, April 7, 2022

The House I Grew Up In

My parents moved from Vandalia to Dayton right before I was born and never moved, so 231 Ashwood Avenue was the only home I knew until after I moved out on my own.  After Mom died, Dad sold the house and I remember taking a final teary walkthrough of a house I would never see again.  But that was back in the days before the Internet and it dawned on me recently that perhaps Zillow might have current photos, which they do, and wow does it look different.  I recognize some of the features, like the in-wall bookcase shown on the right in the picture below, but the rest has seen a major remodel.  Still, it was wonderful to see the inside of that house again.

Oddly enough, the houses my parents grew up in are no longer standing.  Mom's, along with a few other neighboring houses, was seized using eminent domain in the 1960s by the City of Dayton and turned into Blommel Park on Oak Street.  Dad's, again along with a few other neighboring houses on Lookout Avenue in West Dayton, was demolished and are now vacant lots.  




Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Treelines

You can find numerous instances of paths and treelines like the one shown below that divide a neighborhood.  This one is on Berwin Avenue in Kettering between Claybourne Road and Roslyn Avenue and if you look at the Google Map link below, it's part of a clearly defined path running southeast to northwest.  That used to be the Hempstead to Pasadena (aka Kettering Running Track) segment, a portion of the Cincinnati, Lebanon & Xenia Railroad.  The northwest end of this segment is now the paved Dayton-Kettering Connector that connects RiverScape MetroPark to the Iron Horse Trail.




Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Gorilla Tape Hack

The latch on our patio gate rubbed hard enough to scratch off the paint making it unsightly as seen on the left below.  Instead of painting it every few years, I used four six-inch long pieces of black Gorilla tape to hide the scaring.  It remains to be seen if this hack is the final solution, but for now it's ten times better.




Monday, April 4, 2022

Shower Door Bottom Sweep

Chalk up another "I didn't know that" life moment.

As you can see in the first picture below, there was a nasty buildup of "green slime" at the bottom of our shower door.  After several rounds of my wife trying and failing to eliminate the goo, I finally wondered what was going on and found there is a removable plastic track (thanks YouTube!) at the bottom.  I found a replacement at the Lowes link below, cut it to fit, and the unsightly mess is gone.

I'm now in the running for "husband of the year".

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Coastal-Shower-Doors-0-375-in-Clear-Vinyl-Hinged-Shower-Door-Bottom-Sweep/1000203449



Friday, April 1, 2022

With A Twist Of Lemon

I'm a two-extra-large olive guy for my martini, but Chef Elaine likes the lemon twist.  I was really bad at adding that extra touch until I ran into Steve the Bartender on YouTube.  The link below has his video on making various cocktail garnishes.  That video helped me make the cutesy lemon swirl shown below, my best by far.




Thursday, March 31, 2022

Beef Marsala Stew

This is easily the best gravy in the world and a delicious stew.  It has earned a place on our "menu", our list of dishes we would serve at our restaurant (if we ever had a restaurant).

The slow cooker turns cubed-then-well-browned chuck roast into tender bites.  Red Marsala wine, cipollini (chip-oh-LEE-nee) onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, thyme, and tomato paste are among the ingredients that turn this into a masterpiece of flavor.

Using a pressure cooker is a much quicker alternative, but having this aroma waft through the house for an entire afternoon is just wonderful.  

Chef Elaine deserves a gold medal!

https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/beef-marsala-stew



Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Blackout Drapes

Our east-facing bedrooms are not the easiest place to sleep in, particularly on the long summer days when sunrise retreats to 6:00 am.  We complimented the wooden blinds with blackout drapes which will keep our guests in the dark (pun intended) and keep the house a bit cooler during those 90 degree summer days.




Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Turtle Wax Spray

The headlights on our Jeep get a foggy coating as shown in the top picture below.  After clearing that with a combination of baking soda and water, the coating starts coming back immediately.  It figured that something was needed to keep the plastic and air apart and the solution (pun intended) was to spray on some Turtle Wax wax and let it dry without any wiping.  The bottom picture shows a remarkable improvement. 




Monday, March 28, 2022

Rotating Surface Cleaner

I can't wait to try this attachment.  I spend a good hour and a half pressure washing our patio every summer, meticulously moving the wand back and forth, inch by inch, row by row, and getting soaked in the process.  This device includes a pair of rotating jets that clean a path over a foot wide and the housing keeps the water from going everywhere.  The only part I'll have to do with a regular nozzle are the corners.




Friday, March 25, 2022

Stuffed Shells

Who says Fridays in Lent mean you have to eat boxed fish sticks or grilled cheese sandwiches?  Chef Elaine piped a mix of ricotta, Romano, parsley, basil, egg, and Parmesan into the half-cooked large shells, and her Sous Chef (aka me) arranged them seam down on a layer of sauce.  That gets topped with more sauce, mozzarella, and more Parmesan, then baked into the masterpiece shown in the bottom picture below.






Thursday, March 24, 2022

Jackson Browne

A few days after we bought tickets to The Devon Allman Project at the Fraze on June 10th, the Rose Music Center announced that Jackson Browne was performing June 11th.  We scored some nice seats and will have a full-bore music weekend.  🙏   for the best weather of the summer those two days.




Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Devon Allman Project

We scored front row seats for this concert at the Fraze Pavillion, so that not only puts us close to the band but even better we won't have anyone standing in front of us or have to navigate between knees and seats to get to our chairs.  Devon Allman is the son of Gregg Allman of the iconic Allman Brothers Band.  If the music is anywhere near that caliber, we're in for a real good time.

https://fraze.com/the-devon-allman-project



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Sheltered Clematis

Late last fall we brought this Clematis plant into the garage and at the time it was just a bunch of brown sticks and leaves.  Over a month ago it began to turn green, develop leaves, and now buds.  It's had no water, the very limited light that gets into the garage, and nothing else.  Furthermore, it's way healthier than the three Clematis that are planted on the west side of the house.  Go figure.



Monday, March 21, 2022

Insert Special Characters

Every so often I need to include some funky character into a Google Doc and before this tip I would go searching for a keyboard combo or cut-and-paste from somewhere.  The easy way is to click on Insert ... Special Characters, as shown on the left below, to bring up a large selection of options.  You can even attempt to draw the character using your mouse and have Google try to figure it out.  For the emoji people, you'll find them here.




Friday, March 18, 2022

Henckels 1895 Collection 15-Piece Knife Block Set

It's a dangerous moment when you decide to replace an aging, dull, set of knives with new blades.  While it's true that dull knives hurt more people than sharp ones, it takes a little while to reorient oneself to the difference.  Since we like the Henckels pans we bought last month so much, and on the advice of a friend, getting the block-full of knives shown below was a no-brainer.

Big shout out to Karen B. for this sharp assist!




Thursday, March 17, 2022

Utility Poles

Along many of the bike trails in the area, which are mainly old railroad paths, you'll find abandoned poles like the one hidden in the trees below.  These types of poles were originally used to suspend telegraph wires, so there was a synergy between hauling people and freight to the same destinations that these electric messages needed to be delivered.  Poles would later deliver electricity, telephone service, and now cable/Internet, but they all started to deliver the tap-taps of Morse code.




Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette App

The last of my morning coffee-guzzling entertainment comes courtesy of the free (I love free) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's iPad app.  Just For Laughs has a nice selection of comics, Spot The Difference displays two, side-by-side pictures with ten slight differences to find, and Lexico (not pictured below) tests your ability to find words using a format of dominoes and scrabble.