Friday, April 28, 2023

Heavenly Ham Dinner for Two

With this most recent Easter being spent by ourselves (and watching the Masters golf tournament), Chef Elaine smartly opted to let Dorothy Lane Market make our dinner instead of spending hours in the kitchen and spending a lot of money.  For a total of just $30, we each had a plate full of Heavenly Ham, Au Gratin Potatoes, and Orange-Glazed Carrots plus a few leftovers.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Creative Banners Flags & Poles

Our search for a proper flagpole led us to the locally-owned Creative Banners Flags & Poles on Dorothy Lane in Kettering.  In addition to lots of flags, they carry a number of Ohio wines and even have a tasting bar.  But most unexpected was to find a local place that carried our favorite bulk spices, two of which you see below which they packaged for us in the signature bag.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Saved By The Leg

Our firepit has a nice cover with a drawstring to keep it in place, but it's no match for the crazy winds we've had this winter and spring.  In order to avoid chasing the cover all over the neighborhood, I wrapped the drawstring under one of the legs, using the weight of the firepit to counteract the force of the wind.  Works pretty well as you can see below.


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Lots Of Drops

I noticed the inspirational saying shown below as I was passing a local church last month and while I realize it was not meant to be taken literally, I am known as "Mister Literal", so I had to see how far from the actual truth this saying really is.  I started by looking to see if a drop is an actual measure and while many definitions exist, pharmacists set a drop at 0.05 milliliters.  So using that measure...
  • A drop is .05 milliliter
  • 20 drops is a milliliter
  • 20,000 drops is a liter
  • There are about 8 billion people on Earth
  • 8 billion people divided by 20,000 drops is 400,000 liters
An Olympic-sized pool holds 2,500,000 liters or 6.2 times the 400,000 liters above.  A lot of water, perhaps, but not exactly an ocean.

Monday, April 24, 2023

American Sign Museum

We recently took a trip down to Cincinnati to visit the American Sign Museum, located in the Camp Washington neighborhood.  The self-guided tour took a little under an hour and we learned about the three major phases of sign-making (pre-electric, neon, plastic), how neon is made to glow in different colors, a real-life demonstration of bending glass tubing, and a ten-minute informative video.  The signs you see below are just a few of the hundreds on display and they provided us with trips back to our childhood.  

Friday, April 21, 2023

Chinese Hot Mustard

I love Chinese hot mustard on egg rolls but I was unable to find anything suitable in the several grocery stores we frequent.  I looked up recipes on the Internet and found the one at the link below.  When I looked at the ingredients (dry mustard, sugar, boiling water, and vegetable oil) I thought that can't work, but the reviewer's comments convinced me to give it a try.  And it's perfect!  The super spicy hotness obviously comes from the dry mustard, but all my life I thought mustard was more tangy than hot.  

The other key point for the egg rolls shown below is that I baked them in our convection oven for 15 minutes which leaves the outside wrapper crispy and crunchy.  Way better than the soggy microwave version.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Sticker Shock

We had a craving for some French Fries and arguably McDonald's has some of the best.  I went inside (we hate drive-throughs) and ordered one medium fries and was absolutely shocked when that ended up costing $3.49.  I know food prices are nuts but this was just outrageous.  I don't know if that's the normal price at all McDonald's or if ours is just price gouging.  If you have a recent fry-buying experience, I would love to know how much you paid. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

You Are The First Person

I noticed the misspelling below while picking up my wines of the month at Rumbleseat Wine.  I told the owner and he couldn't find it until I pronounced what was written incorrectly.  His response was that I was the first person who had told him about it and that he had written it a long time ago.  I guess when you write and edit as many things as I do you naturally get better at it.  Or maybe my brain is wired differently.  Or I'm just weird.

My grade school nuns would be so proud of me...

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Aperiodic Monotile

The simple tile shapes that most folks use on their floors end up with a design that repeats itself over and over.  A group of mathematicians found a single shape that does not repeat itself when tiled and found the thirteen-sided shape seen below.  They call their shape a "hat", but the technical name is "einstein", which means "one stone" in German, not a reference to Albert.  So if you're looking for some really wild floor tile patterns, this might be useful, although I have no idea if anyone sells these yet.

More information and a link to their 89-page mathematical proof can be found at the link below.

Monday, April 17, 2023


The writer at the link below used ChatGPT to generate hundreds of valedictions, those expressions used to say farewell at the end of a letter or message, using a number of categories.  ChatGPT generated some good ones and some terrible ones, then the writer picked fifty from each category that he thought were the best.  Below is an example from each category that I thought was among the best.  So instead of using the worn-out "Sincerely yours" or "Best regards" as your next valediction, hunt through the list to find something unique and appropriate.

Positive - Cheerful farewells
Angry - From the end of my rope
Apologetic - Apologies from the heart
Congratulatory - Kudos and congratulations
Romantic - Eternally smitten
Hot - With a wicked grin
Reconciliatory - With open arms
Job Seeking - Ready to make a difference
Holidaying - Sending sunshine
Corporate - Onward and upward

Friday, April 14, 2023

Blueberry Mustard Sauce

During an episode of Guy's Grocery Games, I saw a contestant make a blueberry mustard sauce and thought that it was so weird that it just might be good.  I put a 15-ounce can of blueberries in a small mixer, added about three tablespoons of Dijon mustard, and hit go.  After a taste, I decided it needed a bit of sugar, added a couple of teaspoons, and mixed again for a couple more seconds.  I served it on top of an oil-and-garlic seared Sous Vide Pork and it was delicious.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Paul's Margarita Recipe

My go-to Margarita recipe starts with a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice into which I dump an 8-ounce can of Zing Zang margarita mix.  I then measure and add 3 ounces of Wahaka Mezcal and 6 ounces of Lunazel Tequila and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.  It makes enough for two glasses, to which I put two large ice cubes, pour in the margarita, and garnish with a slice of lime.  You add salt to the rim of the glass if you like, but Chef Elaine and I are "no salt" people.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Double Lucky

The recent nasty wind storm caused all sorts of damage, but as pictured below, these people lucked on two accounts.  First, the uprooted tree fell perpendicular to the house avoiding any injuries or property damage.  The tree came to rest on overhead cables which were strong enough to take the weight.  These are not lighter-weight electrical cables, but the type that deliver cable TV and Internet service, which apparently was not interrupted. 

Why this particular street had additional poles installed on the street side (eyesore) for cable and did not use the power poles in the backyard is unknown.  And why nobody has done anything about this situation a week after it happened is just crazy.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Alexa Wait

About three years ago I blogged about creating a pair of Amazon Alexa routines that automated the process of going to the basement to watch TV.  The only thing that annoyed me was when I was ready to go back upstairs, the routine would turn off the floor lamp right away, leaving me to carefully walk up the stairs in the dark.  Recently I noticed in one of my daily technology emails that Alexa has a wait function, which can be set in increments of five seconds,  As shown below, I added a 10-second wait before Alexa turns off the light, making my escape from the basement much safer.

Monday, April 10, 2023


If you've been a runner as long as I have (51 years), you're bound to have a bunch of stories to tell.  My most recent began innocently enough as I exited our garage to the back patio and began walking to the street to begin a 3-mile run.  I had just closed the patio gate and taken a few steps toward the driveway when a rushing/flapping sound rapidly came up behind me.  In the second it took me to react to it and turn around, all I saw was a hawk flying away and feathers floating to the ground.

I never really saw the attack, but from the limited information I had I believe there was a bird (probably a dove) that was up against the wall of the house trying its best to avoid the hawk but when I came around the corner I startled it into flight and the keen-eyed hawk wasted no time pouncing on its good fortune.  Since I was directly in its forward escape route after the hawk snared its prey it had to execute a full mid-air stop and do a 180-degree retreat.  All that remained was a few feathers scattered on the ground, shown in the picture below.  It all happened so fast that I didn't have time to be scared.

Another dozen running experiences, four pages worth, can be found at the link below.  My favorite was the time I ran with a pack of dogs.

Friday, April 7, 2023


About once a month Chef Elaine and I go out for lunch and like to explore new restaurants and a few months ago we visited Grist in downtown Dayton.  Grist makes their own homemade pasta and their display case is enough to stoke the salivary glands.  They also make an array of sandwiches and I was one bite into "Cheesy Does It" (see below) before I thought to take a picture.  This sandwich is a combination of Aged Cheddar, Herbed Ricotta, Spinach, Pear Mostarda, and Truffle Aioli on Sourdough bread.  Good sized sandwich but no way there was going to be any left to take home.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Baby Sprinkles

There is no end to the imagination of people who like to throw a party and the most recent I-have-never-heard-of-that celebration is a baby sprinkle.  The first baby gets you a shower, but the next one(s) gets a "sprinkle" ... get it?

A baby sprinkle is a toned-down baby shower, usually a small group of family and close friends that show their love by sprinkling the expectant mother with disposable items like diapers, onesies, and wipes.  You can read more about baby sprinkles and the do-and-don't etiquette rules at this link.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Killing The Rising Sun

On our last couple of trips to North Carolina, we listened to Killing the Rising Sun, an audiobook about World War II in the Pacific theatre.  There was a lot about this part of the war that we had never learned and the details are both gruesome and shocking.  The question of whether dropping two atomic bombs was justified to save the hundreds of thousands of American lives that were expected if we invaded Japan is still debated but to author Bill O'Reilly that question is personal.  His father most likely would have been part of that assault and if his life was lost, Bill would never have been born.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

YouTube TV MultiView

YouTube TV's new MultiView feature is like the old-fashioned Picture-In-Picture (PIP) found on some televisions.  The biggest difference is that while PIP allows you to combine any two video inputs, MultiView only exists for whatever combinations that YouTube thinks are the most desirable, like the two NCAA basketball tournament games shown below.  I didn't use it to watch to simultaneously watch these games, but if the game I was watching went to commercial (ridiculously long commercials), I would flip to the dual screen mode and watch the other game until I saw my game come back on.  If both were showing commercials I would just mute the volume until one came back.

This feature was very recently introduced and not everyone has it yet, but should soon.

Monday, April 3, 2023

CenterPoint SCO Gas Rate

Back in March of 2021, we signed up with Energy Harbor for a 2-year natural gas contract at $0.36899 per ccf (Centum Cubic Feet = 100 cubic feet).  Since then natural gas prices have risen until the spot price (SCO-Standard Choice Offer) tripled in 3Q2022, before falling in recent months.  Centerpoint's SCO rate for April 2023 is $0.31304, less than we've been paying for the last two years, and about 40% less than if we would enter into the best multi-year contract we can find.  While it's a bit of a gamble that natural gas prices don't jump back up, we'll use the SCO rate and closely monitor contract rates until they drop below the SCO rate.

As they say, "timing is everything" and the only reason we managed to avoid sky-high gas bills.

You can look for natural gas options at the following link.