Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge spans Lower Tampa Bay and includes the ramp seen below in the distance.  I'm not fond of heights but this one didn't trigger that I'm-gonna-die feeling I get sometimes, probably because it's perfectly straight and fences block the view of how high it's above the water.  I'm really glad I didn't know that this is the second version of this bridge, the first one collapsed in 1980 when a storm-blinded freighter collided with a support column resulting in 35 deaths as six cars, a truck, and a Greyhound bus fell 150 feet into the water.  You can read more about the incident at the link below.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Beach Proposal

For some people just getting down on one knee and popping the question just isn't good enough.  This guy hired a service to secure a "MARRY ME" sign in the sand at Clearwater Beach, FL.  They scrupled the sand, planted some flowers, and even lit up the sign with some unseen power source.  I'm guessing they lured the soon-bride-to-be with a walk on the beach, passed the sign, turned her around, then dropped and popped.  We could have waited around to see how it really played out, but our thirst got the best of us.

Monday, May 27, 2024

PVC Chairs

The chairs shown below are from our condo in Clearwater Beach, FL.  The frame is made from PVC pipes, making it lightweight, very strong, and impervious to the constant salt air.   It includes a rail to put your feet on as these are at least a foot taller than the average chair, allowing you to see over the railing at the beach instead of looking through its rails.  Simply brilliant!

Friday, May 24, 2024


The stars of the meal shown below are the arepas, the small, round things in the basket that look like English muffins.  They are a mixture of precooked cornmeal, salt, and water, made into balls of dough, flattened to about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick, then baked or grilled.  A serrated knife is used to slice them deep enough to form a pocket and then stuffed with any combination of ingredients you desire.  I can't wait to try this at home.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Basil’s Root Beer New Fashion

Sometimes I just try things because the ingredients can't possibly work together as was the case with ordering a Basil’s Root Beer New Fashion at The Salty Crab Bar & Grill North Beach in Clearwater Beach, FL.  It combines Basil Hayden Bourbon with root beer and a dash of bitters and after the first one, I was hooked.  I need to work on getting the proportions figured out and try a few different root beers, and by golly do it even if it takes all summer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Max Brightness

When the clerk at Meijer uses their handheld scanner on the MPerks barcode on my Pixel 7 it typically takes four or five attempts before it's successful and sometimes they have to scan it using the stationary scanner, which typically works the first time.  I now know why, courtesy of the Frontier Airlines app that's scanned when I board their planes.

As shown below, the Frontier app has an "Allow boarding pass max brightness" option that does exactly that.  I thought that probably was to improve their scanning accuracy, so the next time I went to Meijer I manually cranked up the brightness before having them scan my MPerks barcode.  Bingo, worked the first time!  Case closed.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Three Dog Night

The rock band Three Dog Night was formed in 1967 by vocalists Chuck Negron, Cory Wells, and Danny Hutton and would have a string of hits including Shambala, Eli's Coming, Joy to the World, and An Old Fashioned Love Song.  The band still tours but only Danny of the original trio is still performing with the group.

If you're not aware of how the group got its strange name, it comes from Aboriginal Australians.  On cold nights they would sleep with a dingo (a wild dog) to stay warm.  On colder nights they slept with two dogs and on a really freezing night, it was a "three dog night".

Monday, May 20, 2024


Empathy is sometimes a hard concept to use in real life, so I offer one experience from my working days to demonstrate.

An Information Technology (IT) person is asked for help on a user's PC and says the seemingly innocent phrase "It's easy."  But if you look at the person's face on the receiving end, it's pretty clear the message received is "I must be stupid as I've been trying for ten minutes to figure this out."  It's surely not the intended message, but you won't see it if you're not looking for a reaction.

I learned to use the phrase "It's not hard, but it's not obvious" when assisting someone.  "Not obvious" calms the person's nerves.  They're not dumb, the designer of the interface hid this feature under layers of menus with not-so-helpful titles.  I've literally seen people's shoulders relax after I've said this.  I use "It's not hard" just to avoid using the word "easy", assuring them that they can do it.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Raw Honey

We've belonged to the Hawkes Wine Club ever since we signed up back in 2010.  We started that day with a 10:00 am private wine tasting at Hanna in Santa Rosa, CA, and asked for recommendations for other awesome Cabernet Sauvignons.   Hawkes was their top choice and only a few miles from Hanna.  We did a wine tasting at Hawkes and left a member of their wine club.  We get four shipments of three bottles per year and is one of our go-to wines for our "Fine Wine Sunday" dinners.

A recent wine shipment included the jar of Hawkes Farm honey shown below spread on a toasted English muffin.  It wasn't until I read the accompanying letter that I realized it was included and I had to dig the box out of the garbage can to find it.  It's raw, which means that it hasn't been heated, and I think it makes the most delicious honey.  While raw honey crystallizes over time and might look strange, just heat it up in a microwave if that's bothersome.  

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Household Chemical Drop-Off

We ran across this household chemical drop-off at North Park in Pittsburgh while out walking for a couple of miles.  What you can't see is the line of a few hundred cars waiting their turn in line.  Participants must register in advance, and pay a $20 fee that covers up to 10 gallons/50 pounds of automotive fluids, household cleaners, pesticides, paints, etc. per vehicle.  Only three drop-offs are scheduled for Allegheny County this year, each lasting only 4 hours.

We're spoiled.  Our Montgomery County Solid Waste District accepts these household chemicals and much more every Tuesday from March through October from 1-7 pm and every first Tuesday from November through February also from 1-7 pm.  There are no limits that I'm aware of and best of all, it's free (I love free).  More information can be found at the link below.