Friday, April 12, 2024

Roland's Seafood Grill

The fish sandwich, french fries, and healthy amount of Heinz ketchup came from Roland's, a restaurant in the Strip District in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  What was particularly exciting was that Chef Elaine and I split a single fish sandwich platter and even then we each received an entire plateful.  While there was a $3 upcharge for splitting the plate, each one ended up costing just $9.50, a real deal in these times of skyrocketing restaurant prices.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Souper Bowl

Among Chef Elaine's other talents is getting us a spot in an uber-crowded venue, in this case, the Souper Bowl bar/restaurant located a block from PPG Paints Arena.  Everyone in the arena had to vacate the premises between the afternoon and evening NCAA basketball games and when we got to the Souper Bowl it looked like no hope we could find a spot.  But my Chef found the little spot shown below that had a cash bar with a good enough selection and we enjoyed a brew while watching the Dayton Flyers make an astonishing comeback win over Nevada.  Two miracles in one bar!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Where's The Spare

I was a bit embarrassed when my brother asked me where the spare tire was located on our Infiniti QX60 and I didn't know and couldn't find it.  The surprising answer, after looking it up in the owner's manual, is shown below ... it's underneath the car.  I think the next time I get the car serviced I'll have a technician check to make sure it's in good shape.  I might be able to get it down but there's no chance in heck that I could get it back up.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Pantone Blues

One of the fiercest rivalries in college basketball is the Kentucky Wildcats and the Duke Blue Devils and it even shows up in their selection of jersey colors.  Kentucky uses "Wildcat Blue", also known as Pantone 286, shown on the left below.  Duke uses "Duke Royal Blue", also known as Pantone 287, shown on the right below.  As a Dukie, I think 287 is far superior...

The folks at Pantone make it easy to use these colors by publishing their Pantone Matching System (PMS) which includes almost 10,000 solid and process colors.  Here are the details for those of us who are into colors.

Wildcat Blue
PMS 286 
HEX COLOR: #0033A0;
RGB: (0, 51, 160)
CMYK: (100, 75, 0, 0)

Duke Royal Blue
PMS 287 
HEX #00539B
RGB 0, 83, 155
CMYK 100, 53, 2, 16

Monday, April 8, 2024

I-579 In The Burgh

This is the view from below I-579 as it traverses downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I have no idea what it would be like to work in an office building directly below the Interstate, but assuming they've figured out how to muffle the sound and deaden the vibration, it is still a bit unnerving to have an office sitting below thousands of tons of steel and concrete.  At least the parking is convenient.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington is made with beef tenderloin, a reduction of mushrooms, shallots, and thyme (called a duxelle), prosciutto, and puff pastry.  It's not a recipe we've attempted to make at home, but when we see it on a menu (not often) at a reasonable price (very not often), like the one shown below we had at Walnut Grove Country Club, we order it in a heartbeat.  It did not disappoint.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Fifteen Years Later

We don't frequent The Pub at the Greene like we did when we achieved our Premier Passport level back in 2009.  That resulted in us getting 20-ounce draft pints for $3.50, forever.  Recently we visited The Pub for a Friday fish sandwich and those pints are now $7.75 each, so for each pint we drink it now saves us $4.25.  That's a good reason to have that second pint you see below.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Enjoy The Zen

Enjoy the Zen is a YouTube channel of seven, hour-long videos and music featuring oceans, waterfalls, nature, and moonlight scenes perfect for relaxing or meditating.  Unlike many other videos out there, these are ever-changing, making them as fun to watch as they are to listen to, whether on a phone, tablet, or big-screen TV.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Half-Size License Plate

I find the aesthetics of front license plates are terrible and since Ohio no longer requires them, I removed it and found it exposed an equally disgusting, half-high frame.  It's nice that they sell half-height plates like the one shown below that I bought at the Amazon link below.  I'm not sure I'm sold on the double Infiniti logo look, but it will do for now.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Garage Wall Protector

Now that we're storing the much larger Infiniti QX60 in the garage, I had to get rid of a metal ladder that was my guard against banging the driver's door against the very rough concrete block wall.  I bought a pair of car door protectors from Amazon (the link below), removed the adhesive backing, and pressed them against the garage wall at the point where the door would contact the wall which you can see in the picture below.  Door saved.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Pommes Sunny

When we saw this recipe on The Kitchen, we had to try it.  While the recipe at the link below will make a huge amount, I used just two good-sized potatoes, one stick of butter, and our smaller cast iron skillet.  I used our mandoline to make very thin slices, coated them in thyme-basted butter, and overlapped them in several layers as shown below.  The critical step comes when it's time to flip the skillet upside down to serve crispy-side up.  

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Peach Daiquiri

Peaches are my absolute favorite fruit and how better to enjoy that delicious flavor than in a daiquiri? While the one pictured below was made using a popular mix, the recipe at the link below using fresh ingredients and where you can better control the sweetness is worth the extra effort.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Screen Maintenance

Chef Elaine and I are big on opening windows and letting the fresh air in, so having our screens in good repair is important to us.  We took the screen pictured below, which had a little tear in it, off the window and found the frame was in worse shape than the screen, with the corners of the screen ready to fall apart.  I took it to our local Greive hardware store and they did a great job of making it near-new again.  However, if they couldn't have saved it, it's nice to know they could have built an entirely new screen for us.  For this and several other services they provide, visit the link below.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Tulip Relocations

Last year we had a beautiful flower bed with dozens and dozens of tulips.  This year we spotted tulips growing in the grass and other flower beds as seen below.  We found out that it was a mistake to remove our ultrasonic animal repeller for the winter and the squirrels not only dug them up to eat them but also to store them for a future meal.  More information on keeping squirrels at bay can be found at the link below.

Monday, March 25, 2024

History Facts

Chef Elaine pointed me toward History Facts and after reviewing their excellent articles I signed up for their daily emails at the link below.  They have five topics (U.S. History, World History, Famous Figures, Arts & Culture, and Science & Industry) and they rotate their emails through these categories.  The only downside is their second email of the day, which is more promotion than anything interesting or useful.  That's what they make the digital trash can for...

Friday, March 22, 2024

Smash Taco

A smash taco is a great way to prepare a single serving.  Start with a 3-ounce ball of ground chuck smashed on top of a tortilla and spread out towards the edges, as shown in the upper-left picture below.  Flip that so the meat side is down into a lightly oiled skillet, looking like the upper-right photo.  Cook for 3-4 minutes and flip so the tortilla is now facing down, pictured at the bottom left.  Cook a few more minutes to crisp up the tortilla, transfer to a plate, and add whatever your heart desires.  Along with the four toppings shown at the bottom right, lime, cilantro, and onion are great choices.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Rose And Mary

A cruise is a great place to try a different drink the pair of "Rose and Mary" cocktails shown below were a winner.  It's a chilled combination of Tito's vodka, dry vermouth, and a little fresh lemon juice dunked with a sprig of rosemary.  I see a few of these in our future as soon as we plant this summer's potted herbs, which will certainly include rosemary.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

4K Web Cam

I've been using a 1080p webcam for more than a decade and decided recently to upgrade to a higher resolution if it was practically affordable.  I was surprised to find the Nisheng webcam seen below for $32 at Amazon.  I'm sure it's not as feature-rich as the $200+ models that a professional might desire, but its 3840x2160 resolution (i.e. 4K) delivers a crisp picture.  It includes a tripod connector and a privacy cover that fits over the lens.  It also comes with a small tripod, but the one I have is taller and easier to adjust.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Macs Fan Control

I noticed that my Mac Mini was running hot to the touch and began searching for a reason and a solution.  I ran across Macs Fan Control, a free (I love free) tool that not only displays the values of the various temperature sensors on a Mac but also allows you to set the fan speed.  After a little playing around with various values, I settled on 2,500 rpm which keeps the temperature around 50 degrees Celcius, or about 122 degrees Fahrenheit.  I selected that value partially because my MacBook Air, which does not have a fan, runs about that temperature.  I still have no clue why the Mac Mini was running hot, but at least it's all better now.

Monday, March 18, 2024


I recently had the need to create softer borders on some pictures and found Lunapic, a free (I love free) online tool that has a crazy number of image editing options.  I used their "edge fade border" to round and soften the photo below, a picture of yours truly signing American Pie with The Fries band many years ago.  Discover the Lunapic tool at the link below.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Pico De Gallo

Chef Elaine and I made the fresh Pico De Gallo (Spanish translation: Rooster´s Beak) shown below during our shore excursion in Cozumel.  We chopped up Roma tomatoes and white onion then finely diced a serrano pepper and cilantro.  That was combined with some lime juice and salt to make a tangy, delicious salsa.  Later we added some of this to a rough-smashed avocado to make a binge-worthy chip-dipper.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Miami Vice

The Miami Vice is one of my favorite frozen cocktails.  It's one or more layers of Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri and Frozen Piña Colada with the sweetness of the strawberry nicely offset by the coconut taste of the colada.  It's a bit of work doing at home to get a single drink, so it's better suited for a party of four or more.  However, when I'm on a cruise ship, I don't hesitate to order a single like I did to snap the picture below.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Confirmation Receipt

Gmail is usually pretty good about catching on to spam emails, but for months I've been getting spam with the subject line beginning with C𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 R𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐩𝐭.  This odd bolding made me look for its cause and I started by using the ASCII Text to Hex Code Converter found at the link below.  I pasted the text and clicked convert, which led to the string of characters seen at the bottom of the screenshot.  It was then obvious the 5-digit codes were the cause of the bolding. I did a Google search on the first one (1D428) and found it's part of Unicode's Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols Block.  I eliminated this spam by creating a Gmail filter using C𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 R𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐩𝐭 as the subject and directly deleting them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Silent Disco

This crowd below gathered around at The Grand Plaza on the Celebrity Ascent cruise ship late one evening to participate in a Silent Disco.  This involved everyone getting a set of headphones and listening to one of three music streams based on their personal preferences.  With the headphones blasting away you can't hear anything else, but remove them and get treated to people singing their hearts out.  I didn't expect this would be as much fun as it was.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Cozumel Time Zone

I was surprised that during our Western Caribbean cruise, my Pixel 7 phone never changed from the Eastern to the Central time zone, even when we traveled to Cozumel.  As you can see from the map below, the entire Mexican state of Quintana Roo (the green slice in Mexico), which includes Cozumel, uses Eastern Daylight Time (all year round), even though the rest of Mexico and most of Central America use Central Time.  It helped make sure we got back to the ship in time, although when Eastern Savings Time begins in March, I assume ship time will be an hour ahead of Cozumel time, making getting back to the ship on time a little trickier.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Garden Benedict

Chef Elaine ordered the Garden Benedict shown below at The Garden Table, a cute restaurant in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis.  It consisted of mashed avocado on semolina toast, topped with poached eggs, basil hollandaise sauce, $4 worth of bacon (yes, really), and some fancy sprigs of green and purple things.  I could do without those fancy things, but the rest is mighty appealing.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Tamarind Daiquiri

One of the drinks offered on our excursion in Cozumel was the Tamarind Daiquiri shown below.  Having no idea what it would taste like I, of course, had to try it out.  The tamarind tree produces brown, pod-like fruits ranging from sour to sweet depending on their ripeness and this drink uses simple syrup to elevate the sweetness.  The daiquiri was good, but I'm at a loss to describe the taste as I have nothing to relate it to, however, if you want to try to recreate it, Amazon (among others) sells tamarind syrup at the link below.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024


I picked up the wild-looking pair of sunglasses at our local Up and Running store.  They are meant for runners and joggers as they're non-slip and don't fog up, but I bought them because they look cool and cost only $25.  These are polarized sunglasses meaning they help reduce glare from reflecting surfaces such as water, snow, and glass.  I'll be styling next to the pool this summer.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024


The picture below is Royal Caribbean's private island, CocoCay, also known as Little Stirrup Cay.  The linguistic lesson for today is that Cay is not pronounced as it looks.  Rather, it's most often pronounced the same as the word Key, like in Key West.  So CocoCay is pronounced Coco Key.  A little more info can be found at the link below.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Webpage, Complete

Have you ever seen the cutest Instagram (or other social media) post and wanted to download the picture?  We want to do it all the time with our grandkids pictures and while there is no simple way to download an image, it is possible using the following steps on a Mac or PC.
  1. Navigate to the post with the image
  2. In the browser options at the top, click File ... Save Page As ... 
  3. If needed, change the format to Webpage, Complete
  4. Click Save
A file and a folder will be downloaded.  Open the folder.  Somewhere in there is the picture you want.  Sometimes there's just one, other times many.  Sometimes it's in a subfolder and sometimes not.  Use Windows Explorer or Mac's Finder to view the images as a gallery to make finding the one (or more) you want to keep easier.  Drag it to the desktop and give it a good name.  

Friday, March 1, 2024

Quick Gnocchi

Having some homemade gnocchi on hand just got easier after seeing I could use mashed potato flakes instead of leftover mashed potatoes.  Add some steeping hot water to a cup of flakes, stir together, and let cool.  Add egg, salt, pepper, and enough flour to make a fairly stiff dough.  The rest is the same rolling, cutting, and creasing that always goes into the finished product and it produced a sheet pan full of nuggets that were frozen and then bagged.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bourbon Bonfire

The Bourbon Bonfire shown below was on the menu at Public Greens in the Broad Ripple neighborhood in Indianapolis.  It's a warm mixture of bourbon, apple cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon perfect for sipping outside on a 60-degree day in February.  And probably the next time Chef Elaine and I jump in the hot tub.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

RIP Jeep

After twelve years of driving a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a recent trip to the auto mechanic finally delivered the long-expected news, all the needed repairs were going to cost more than twice the value of the car.  In its place, we bought the 2018 Infiniti QX60 shown below, which has the three rows of seats we wanted and just about every option there is to have.  

The most surprising change from the last time we bought a car was that the dealer took care of everything, including the title and registration work.  They transferred the plates and we headed home.  I don't know if that's a COVID-era change or not, but not having trips to the title bureau and registrar's office was very welcome.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Speed Bumps

The speed bumps pictured below are one of three sets that have been installed in the back of the Town and Country Shopping Center in Kettering, Ohio.  They look fairly innocent, but unless you go over them at 1-2 mph, you (and your car) are in for quite a pop.  Unfortunately, I see this as another sign of our neighborhood's slow decay which will eventually drive us to find a better crowd.

As a side story, the oddest speed bumps I've ever encountered were at a McDonald's parking lot in Dubois, PA ... over forty years ago.  I guess those country boys get lead-footed aching for a Big Mac...

Monday, February 26, 2024

Faucet Repair

Our bathroom faucet had a tiny drip and with a pair of channel locks, a screwdriver, and the YouTube video below, I was able to pry out, using considerable force, the old Moen 1224 cartridges and replace them with new parts.  It then took a friend with a lot more knowledge than I to figure out how to get the handles back on.  But the kicker was after that work, only a trickle of water was coming out.  Again my more knowledgeable friend deduced that the problem was a clogged aerator, easily removed, cleaned, and reinstalled.

Why do some 10-minute projects turn into an afternoon of frustration and learning experience?  

Friday, February 23, 2024

The Jucy Lucy

The towering mound of a burger you see below is a Jucy Lucy (also called Juicy Lucy). It starts with two thin hamburger patties and a slice of American cheese that's folded over into four squares and placed on the bottom pattie.  The other pattie is layered on top and the slides of the two patties are pinched together to prevent cheese leakage.  After cooking for 2-3 minutes, the burger is flipped and a toothpick is used to poke a hole or two into the cheese to release some steam.  The finished burger needs to rest for a few minutes as the cheese will be scorching hot.  You can read about the onions, pickles, etc. at the link below.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Dave Nolin Wetland Preserve

The newest park along the Beaver Creek is the Dave Nolin Wetland Reserve pictured below.  It features an almost mile-long boardwalk made of composite TimberTech decking that loops through its 58 acres of trees, brush, plants, and marshy wetlands.  With the recent completion of phase 2 of the Spotted Turtle Trail, you can make a 2-mile hike south and connect to Dane Mutter Prairie, Beaver Creek Wetland Reserve, and Phillips Park, with the trail ending at Rotary Park.  As pretty as this was on a sunny winter's day, I can't wait to visit again in the spring or early summer when nature will be at its best.


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

What 3 Words

What 3 Words is a website and mobile app that assigns a three-word combination to every three-meter square on the planet (about 57 trillion of them), which is demonstrated in the screenshot below I took in our local Meijer parking lot.  Take a few steps in any direction and the "hulk.epic.tender" will change to a completely new phrase.  

A somewhat obvious use of this is in 9-1-1 calls.  Supplying emergency responders with a precise location helps deliver aid more quickly, as I found out about in the February 2024 City of Kettering newsletter.  This would greatly help if you are injured during a hike on a long trail or in a similar situation where a conventional address is only partially helpful.

Another application is global and addresses the lack of addressing for billions of people on Earth.  In the fascinating five-minute TED talk at the link below, Chris Sheldrick explains how he and his team came up with this idea and how three African nations now use What 3 Words to give their people an address.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Cruise Mapper

The Cruise Mapper website displays the location and routes of 1,536 cruise ships from about four dozen different cruise lines.  The statistics available for each ship include the number of passengers the ship holds, the passengers-to-space ratio, the number of decks, and the number of cabins.  This is a great website to explore the vast number of worldwide cruise options.

If you click the link below you will see where in the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea Chef Elaine and I are currently positioned during our vacation this week, or at ports of call in the Bahamas, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman Island.  Retirement at its best!

Monday, February 19, 2024

Reset The SMC

A couple of weeks ago I noticed my Mac Mini was hot to the touch and its fan was not whirling to cool it down.  I poked around and couldn't find a likely cause, so I slept on it, only to find it dead the next morning, albeit still rather warm.  I unplugged it to get it to cool down and after it was room temperature, plugged it back in, and to my surprise (and relief) it booted up just fine.  I did some poking around the Internet and found out that Macs have a System Management Controller (SMC) that's in charge of things like the battery, temperature control, the fan, etc.  One way to reset the SMC on a Mac Mini is to unplug it for 15 seconds, which I more than did while I waited for it to cool.  Sometimes is just better to be lucky than good.

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Tony B.

The Tony B., which I had at Walnut Grove Country Club, is so named due to its inspiration, Chef Anthony Bourdain.  Thin sliced Italian mortadella, fried and covered in melted provolone, with mayo and Dijon mustard; served on a butter-grilled pretzel bun.  I munched down the first half before I realized I needed to snap a picture of this to share.  And the onion rings in the foreground were as yummy as they look.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Party Yard

I'm not a fan of flavored whiskeys except the Squirrel's Stash, which I make several times a year.  When I saw the Party Yard, a 40-pack of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, at our local Dot's market, it just about gave me a headache.  But I know some people love them and there must be a market for this biggie-sized package.  And they have a catchy slogan ... "Burns like hell, tastes like heaven."

Wednesday, February 14, 2024


Curiously, we (at least me) have used phrases my entire life, and know what the phrase means, but not what the words mean.   Such is the case with "Hoist with his own Petard", meaning a person who has been spoiled by their own scheme.  It originated in Shakespeare's Hamlet, where a bomb-maker is blown ("hoist", the past tense of "hoise") off the ground by his own bomb ("petard").  A petard is a small bomb and translates to "firecracker" in English, just like the 10-pack of explosives shown below.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Dinnerware Deal

We finally got around to replacing our dinnerware and after looking online and at Kohl's, we thought to look at Costco, and wow, are we ever glad we did.  We picked up three, of the twelve-piece sets shown below for the amazing price of $24.99 per box.  If we had ordered them online at the link below, it would have cost an additional $10 per box. Our savings over what we saw at Kohl's was around $200.  That's a deal!

Monday, February 12, 2024


We all know that Pi (πis the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is a transcendental number, with a value of 3.141592653 to the first nine decimal places, and is commonly stated as 3.14.  But if Edward J. Goodwin had his way, it would, at least in Indiana, have been changed to 3.2.  In 1897 he
convinced Indiana State Representative Taylor Record to introduce a bill to do that in the state’s General Assembly.  Fortunately, before the bill got to the Senate, a Purdue University professor saw it and put the kibosh on it stating “The Senate might as well try to legislate water to run uphill as to establish mathematical truth by law.”  The Reader's Digest article detailing the whole story is at the link below.

Friday, February 9, 2024

French Toast

When I was growing up my Mom allowed me to make French Toast all by myself, probably so she could stay in bed on Saturday mornings.  We had some leftover sliced brioche bread and I decided to use that to make the slices you see below.  I whipped two eggs with a little half-n-half, soaked the brioche (which really soaks it up), and cooked it over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.  Since I didn't want to waste the remainder of the eggs, I added them to the pan and scrambled them.  I topped the French Toast with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Maple syrup only belongs on pancakes (IMHO).

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Internet Abbreviations

When it comes to texting, I'm an old fart.  Not only that I can't "type" with my thumbs like the cool kids, but I always have to look up an acronym, like the ones shown below, after spending too long trying to guess what it might mean.  Using an acronym is NAGI if you're not entirely sure what it stands for, you can either use it AYOR or GOI and look it up at the link below.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Amazon Recommendations

After being annoyed one too many times by Alexa boop-booping a notification that turns out to be some deal they hope to entice me with, I found how to turn them off, which is explained at the link below.  It took about a day before the new settings, shown in the screenshot below, took effect, which was a bit surprising, but since that delay my Alexas (I'm embarrassed to tell you how many we have), have behaved themselves.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Peace Lily

The plant in the foreground with its single flower in the picture below is a peace lily.  Under the careful watch of Arborist Elaine (another of Chef Elaine's skills), it has flourished in our dining room along with several other plants.  The peace lily is a tropical plant and can only be grown indoors at our latitude.  The single flower is a testament to the care it gets, as getting a single bloom is fairly unusual as you can read about in the link below along with many other details.

Monday, February 5, 2024

National Cemetery of the Alleghenies

We recently laid a friend to rest at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, located twenty minutes southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  This is one of the most recent of the 164 national cemeteries, dedicated in 2005, covering 292 acres, and will eventually contain over 100,000 service men and women.  As shown below, each white gravestone had a green and red wreath in front of it which further stood out with the ground covered in snow.  Getting the half-mast flag centered in the background was coincidental, but adds a poignant touch.