Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Lasagna

A tradition on Christmas Eve is for me to turn the following collection of ingredients into a lasagna to bake on Christmas Day. While it sort of looks formidable at first, there is really a minimal amount of chopping (onion, garlic, basil) and is mostly an exercise in simmering, boiling and layering. I've used a number of different recipes over the years, settling on this one from AllRecipes.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Lights At The Carillon

This is the second year for this stunning Christmas light display at Carillon Park. My picture doesn't do it justice, but the YouTube video is awesome, showing the moment the tower was lit up and the oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

3 Musketeers

The original 3 Musketeers candy bar explains a bit about the selection of its name. It started out with three pieces, one each of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.  Only the chocolate survived the rising costs and WWII restrictions on sugar.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Centerville Carryout

Centerville Carryout is my go-to place for getting hard-to-find beer and wine. It's stacked to the ceiling and piled on the floors, and I love just walking around exploring the store. On a recent trip I found a 4-pack of John Smith's, an English beer I really like and haven't found anywhere in years.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Woodman Fen

One of the many things I like about Google Maps is finding green areas like Woodman Fen, a nearby, peaceful, 33-acre natural area that includes a groundwater-fed wetland.  It's located in Kettering, a little northwest of Woodman Drive and Patterson Road, but back in a neighborhood you would never stumble upon.  I'll certainly be back to visit when the flowers and wildlife arrive in spring.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Challah Bread

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread wafting through the house on a chilly winter afternoon and my favorite is this Challah Bread recipe my neighbor shared with me.  Takes a little practice to get the three ropes braided properly, so you might need to ask a young girl or your wife for help.

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 3/4 cup very warm water
  • 6 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon cold water 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast 
  1. Combine milk, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan. Heat slowly until butter melts, then cool to lukewarm. 
  2. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Reserve a couple tablespoons for the glazing step below.
  3. Sprinkle the yeast into very warm water in a large bowl. Stir until the yeast dissolves, then stir in the milk mixture and eggs.
  4. Beat in 2 cups of flour until smooth. Beat in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely can cling to the surface. Too much flour will make the dough tough. 
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured pastry board and knead about 5 minutes.
  6. Place in a greased large bowl and turn to coat all over with the oil, then cover with a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place, away from draft, 1 1/2 hours, or until double in size.
  7. Punch dough down. Let rise 30 minutes, or until almost double again, then punch down a final time. Turn out onto a board or countertop and knead a few times. Divide into 3 even pieces and roll each into a rope about 15 inches long. 
  8. Place the ropes on a greased cookie sheet, braid them and fasten at both ends. Let rise again in a warm place, away from draft, 1 hour, or until double in size. 
  9. Combine the remaining tablespoon of egg with 1/2 tablespoon of water,  brush over the bread and top with poppy seeds. 
  10. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheets and place on wire racks to cool.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Santa Tracker

Brought to you by the good folks at Google, Santa Tracker will keep your kids entertained, and learning, while counting down to the time the Jolly Guy and his reindeer take off on their gift-filled sleigh.

Hover Drone

This is the coolest new drone, capable of 4K video, 13 MP photos and can follow you around. Its foldable frame, weighing in at about one-half pound, makes it a snap to carry around. But it will set you back a hefty 6 yards.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


At Christmas I miss my mother the most.  1985 was our last Christmas together, when I was a young man of 30 years.  Hard to believe I've now spent more than half my life without her.

This picture dates back to Mom and Dad's wedding in 1950. She was a beautiful lady, inside and out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Live Internet Attack Map

Want some idea of  how scary the Internet can be?  This link takes you to an attack map where you can watch attacks as they occur in real-time. No surprise that more attacks are aimed at the United States, but a big surprise that more come from the United States.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Office Payback

Payback is a dish best served wet.

Imagine coming into work on a cold Monday morning with 900 cups of water containing over 28 gallons of water covering your desks, floor and even the windows sill. That's inspiration and dedication I've never witnessed before, way beyond the "let's toilet paper his cube" that led to this masterpiece.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hasselback Potatoes

Last Sunday's dinner included this Hasselback Potato recipe, russets sliced 1/4" apart and not quite all the way through, with a chive-butter-oil mixture brushed all over and inside.  I would recommend adding some garlic to kick it up a notch.

That's some fancy, and easy, taters!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

SmartPhone + SiriusXM + Amazon Echo

You can take the girl out of Pittsburgh, but not the Pittsburgh out of the girl.

With last weekend's Steeler's game not on TV, I paired my smartphone, via bluetooth, to the Amazon Echo, then brought up SiriusXM station 806 via their smartphone app, giving my wife the pleasure of listening to her Steeler's win over Buffalo.  If you have a SiriusXM subscription, you should also have free access via their Internet app.

Happy wife, happy life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Tree Lights

I've finally found a perfect use for the TP-Link Smart Plug, controlled by the Amazon Echo. The TP-Link plugs into an electrical outlet and then the Christmas tree lights are plugged into the TP-Link. I changed the name of the TP-Link from "light" to "Christmas tree" using the Kasa app. No more getting down on hands and knees to plug and unplug the lights. Watch the YouTube video for the demo and the full effect.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


You live your entire life knowing a word with no clue what it means. Such was the street named Watervliet Avenue, which bisects the Belmont neighborhood in south Dayton. While researching exhibits at Carillon Park I found a reference to the Watervliet Shakers. a community of up to 100 people that resided on 800 acres southeast of Dayton. This historical marker at the site of the former village gives more details, including that the name "Shaker" came from their frenzied dance movements.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tokyo Joe's

One of the best sushi and sashimi meals I've ever eaten, and the absolute best for the money, was at Tokyo Joe's in Richmond, British Columbia.  I usually leave these types of restaurants still a little hungry, but not here, where I left happily stuffed. And if you're a home sushi maker like me, just browse their menus for some new ideas. Next on my list is their yummy-looking Mango Vegetable Roll.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Samuel Mudd

I've known the phrase "Your name is mud", since I was a little kid, but until recently had no idea its historical origins. It's commonly believed to be attributed to Samuel Mudd, the doctor that treated John Wilkes Booth after he broke his leg fleeing Ford's Theater after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Mudd was convicted of conspiracy, narrowly avoiding the death penalty by one vote, then pardoned by Andrew Jackson four years later.

But the aforementioned phrase dates back to John Badcock's 1823 book "Slang - A Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, The Chase, the Pit ..." where he defines mud as slang for "a stupid twaddling fellow". The book can be found at using the second link below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Riverscape River Run

Work is progressing on a second passageway on the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton, including a calm flow for novices and a more challenging section for experienced paddlers. The first passageway was completed about a half mile down river and replaced a low dam that previously had to be portaged. When it's all done, there will be a seven-mile stretch, starting at Eastwood MetroPark, down the Mad River to the Great Miami, around downtown and ending before the dam just south of Carillon Historical Park and University of Dayton.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kilkenny In A Can

My daughter and her husband brought me a wonderful surprise back from their recent trip to Canada, a Kilkenny four-pack, which I have never seen in the U.S. in cans and only rarely on tap. I can now make true use of the pair of Kilkenny glasses I bought awhile back.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Carillon Park

There is no better place to learn about Dayton's history than Carillon Park.  The Wright Brothers, Newcom's Tavern, NCR, the 1913 flood, the Miami Erie Canal and a Sun filling station are just some of the highlights. The Transportation Center houses various historical railroad cars and trolley buses, and was our selection to host our wedding reception back in 2008.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fajita Hasselback Chicken

Yet another Hasselback chicken recipe, this one on the spicy Mexican side. The picture shows the sliced chicken before adding the cooked onion, peppers, salsa, spice and cheese filling. You can make recipe with whatever fillings or toppings that appeal to your imagination. 

4 chicken breasts
½ onion, diced
½ yellow pepper, diced
½ red pepper, diced
½ green pepper, diced
2 tablespoons fajita spice mix
3 tablespoons salsa
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Slice across the chicken, about ¾ inch apart, but only cut about 80% of the way through.
3. Cook the onions and peppers over medium heat until softened.
4. Stir in the fajita mix, salsa, and finally the cheese.
5. Mix until cheese is melted, then allow the mixture to cool.
6. Fill each segment of the chicken with one teaspoon of the mixture.
7. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes (or more) until the chicken is completely cooked.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Color Blind Test

Color blindness stems from the absence of color-sensitive pigment in the cone cells of the retina, with trouble distinguishing red and green apart being the most common problem. Taking this Ishihara test will help determine to what extent you may be affected.