Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Villa Pillo

This is our choice for the holiday's red wine, a 2014 Villa Pillo Borgoforte Toscana, which garnered a 91 point rating from Wine Spectator and came in at #25 on their list of the top 100 wines of 2016.  Best of all, it's currently on sale for $11.99 per bottle (then add shipping) at the link below.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

(RT)2 FT

One of many gifts from our Mead Corporation CIO, John Langenbahn, was this Swiss Army knife that I still keep in my Jeep, and dates back somewhere to the mid-to-late 1980's.  Our department name, Corporate Information Resources, was a testament to his futurist-thinking on how important information would be and that we were a valuable resource to the success of the company, not just a purveyor of hardware and software technologies.

The logo, (RT)2 Ft, means "Right Things Right The First Time" and was created by the team to express how we wanted to approach our jobs, day in and day out.  Being the techie group we were, we just had to make a mathematical formula out of it, and it was useful for branding purposes.

The Mead Corporation is long gone, merged with Westvaco Corporation in 2002 to form MeadWestvaco, then again in 2015 with their RockTenn merger to form today's WestRock Company.  But the Mead name is still alive, owned by ACCO Brands, delivering high-quality school and office supplies.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas Socks

It's a bit strange, at 63 years old, to get excited when the free (I love free) yearly Maker's Mark Ambassadors Club Christmas gift arrives in the mail, and as usual they've provided a thoughtful and useful gift, with 2018's addition being these festive socks.  Thin yet warm, they will provide comfort and joy this winter as we binge on our current Netflix series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Friday, December 7, 2018

"Windows" Scam

Amazing that these scammers were able to pack five obvious errors into just three sentences. 

  • The phone call is from the Netherlands (country code +31)
  • The call is from "Windows Microsoft" (backwards syntax for English speakers)
  • "Oh services" instead of "All services" or "Your services" (beyond a simple spelling mistake) 
  • "Services are suspended" (easy to check if that's true or not)
  • Callback number looks the same, but the exchange is different (313 versus 303)

Not to mention that I have Android, iOS, macOS and ChromeOS devices, but not Windows.  Sigh.

Slyder's Tavern

Tucked away in south Dayton's Belmont neighborhood, Slyder's is home to the best burger around.  The monster below was the larger 10 ounce version, and lessoned learned, I'll be getting the regular 7 ouncer next time.  Add one of their on-tap craft beers, in this case a Bell's Winter White Ale, and dinner was perfection.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Round Pizza, Square Box

Courtesy of my friend Keith's brilliant daughter Lydia comes this out-of-the-box, in-the box thinking on how to arrange half a large, leftover pizza in a square, just-large-enough, take-home box.  By separating and turning two pieces 180 degrees, it makes the half-moon-shaped leftover pie almost square.  My jaw dropped when he demonstrated how easy it was.

This women has a very bright future ahead of her.  And Dad was beaming with pride.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


GIPHY is a free (I love free) Mac utility that captures whatever portion of your screen you want and turns it into an animated GIF.  To demonstrate, I downloaded a free (repeat the love) video from Pixabay of crashing waves and ran the video while GIPHY recorded a selected portion of it.  Then using some of the available options to reduce the size of the resulting GIF, I saved it and uploaded the result to include it below.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Windshield Damage

On a drive home a few days ago, I spotted the sign on a dump truck, shown below, that stated "Not responsible for broken windshields", and wondered if that was indeed a legal fact or just the wish of the trucking company to avoid having to pay for damages they cause.  A little research, at the link below, revealed the following:
  • When another vehicle kicks up debris off the road, the driver isn’t at fault – for example, if the truck in front of you drives over a rock and it hits your windshield, they’re not responsible for the damage. 
  • When another vehicle drops debris (gravel, trash, tools etc.) it’s transporting the other driver is at fault – for example, if a contractor drops a ladder off their truck they’re responsible for any damage to your car.
As a practical matter, I would bet that if your windshield is damaged by an object that could have come from either the truck or the road, you would have to prove it came from the truck, so some third-party proof (e.g. video, witness) would be necessary.  So staying back is good advice, even if their "warning" that they are "not responsible" is wishing thinking.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Fireplace Draft Fix

With no way to close off the holes at the bottom of the fireplace door, in order to keep out a steady flow of winter air, I pondered several ways before figuring out that a magnet would naturally stick to the metal frame, avoiding the use of glue or tape, and getting a good seal.  I bought a package of flexible magnetic sheets from Staples, the kind you would use to print custom refrigerator magnets, cut one sheet horizontally into three pieces to the needed height and put them in place with the white side facing away and the black side facing towards the living room, as shown below.  Problem solved at a minimal cost.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Getting a head start on Thanksgiving dinner, which always seems to involve cooking at least ten recipes, can bring a moment of sanity and some time to spend with your guests on the big day, and  turkey gravy can be made days ahead. My wife roasted turkey wings with onion, carrots, celery and vegetable oil in a large roasting pan for an hour, then simmer that with water, thyme, and garlic for another three hours.  Final step involves continuously whisking butter, turkey fat, flour and the turkey stock in a saucepan and adding salt, pepper and cayenne pepper as desired.  That's the condensed version, and the full recipe is at this link.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dear Daytonian

I've lived in and around the Dayton, Ohio region my whole life, but have travelled enough to know that other cities and states have some surprising quirks; laws, weather, traffic, animals and other things that make their everyday life more difficult, annoying or scary.  So to demonstrate some of those, I've started the "Dear Daytonian" blog which you can get to at the link below.  Like this blog, it has a signup feature that will send you that day's blog(s) in an email.  My goal is to post once a week, and I'm shooting for Wednesday's, but this retired guy's schedule can be a bit hectic, so no promises.

I hope those of us who enjoy our easy style of living will get to know what awaits us out there and will be prepared if we venture out.

CloudFlare DNS

I've used the Google public DNS (Domain Name System) for years for its faster resolution and avoidance of annoying ads when I mistype a website name, but recently I've changed my MacBook Air to use the CloudFlare DNS service (IP addresses and, which they say is three times faster.  More details at the link below.

But privacy peace-of-mind was the primary reason and their website states "We will never sell your data or use it to target ads. Period. We will never log your IP address (the way other companies identify you). And we’re not just saying that. We’ve retained KPMG to audit our systems annually to ensure that we're doing what we say."  Sounds serious enough.

There are also apps for Android and iOS at

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Mac Option Key

Similar to revealing extra options using Shift-Right-Click in Windows, macOS has a ton of hidden features when holding down the Option key, which the article at the following link does a good job of detailing.  The most useful to me is using Option with the Menu Bar icons, for example, showing expanded commands and information under the Wifi icon, as seen below.

Monday, November 26, 2018

HiDow XPDS 18

My wife bought a HiDow XPDS 18, about the size of your hand and weighing only a few ounces, which uses Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) technology to help relieve sore, stiff or aching muscles.  I like it on my lower back, hamstrings and feet, and it really helps.  She scored ours at a local tennis tournament for half the list price you'll find on this website, and I've seen used models on eBay for as little as $100.  They make a number of models with different features at various price points, so shop and compare to get what's best for you.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Heather's Cafe

Nestled in downtown Springboro, Heather's Cafe was a recent destination for a late lunch, my wife having a "Nay Nay", roasted turkey, cream cheese, bacon and avocado on a pretzel roll, while I opted for a meat-lovers "Italian Stallion", ham, salami, pepperoni and mozzarella on a sub bun.  Heather's is also open for breakfast and dinner, to grab some coffee or enjoy a beer outside on their large patio.  One of the region's hidden gems.

Fire TV Cube

With the addition of an Amazon Fire TV Cube, our house now has a total of 5 voice assistants, not counting our smartphones.  The Cube has been installed in the basement and can voice control the TV and cable box, just like a remote control.  "Alexa, turn on the TV" and "Alexa, tune to CBS" are examples of what it can do for the TV.  Then say "Alexa, play Doctor Strange" and it changes the TV's input source to the Fire TV Cube, figures out, all by itself, that this movie is available from multiple apps but currently free on our Netflix subscription, switches to Netflix and begins playing the movie.  I was stunned by how easy the setup was, with the Fire TV Cube having no problem determining the type of TV and cable box we have.

Best of all, Amazon has this discounted at the moment for $59.99, half off the normal price.  If your goal in life is fewer remote controls, this may be your nirvana.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


While our smartphones take incredible pictures, they're also quite large, which usually makes sharing via email a one-picture-at-a-time, tedious chore.  To assist with that problem, the folks that Google have introduced Squoosh, a free (I love free) web app that will reduce an image's size, in the case below from 6.22 MB to 642 KB achieving a 90% reduction, with minimal loss in quality.  This is also a boon to web site developers, improving page load speed while maintaining picture quality.  All this work is done in your web browser and the pictures never leave your computer.  Just drag or upload a picture, the process automatically begins and when the spinner in the lower right-hand corner turns to a download icon, it's ready to save.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Real Orange Juice

Fresh squeezed orange juice is the best, but finding it in Ohio is a Diogenes-like undertaking.  Much to my surprise and delight, the Whole Foods store on SR-725 in Centerville has this awesome juicer machine, cranking out a quart of sweet orange heaven in about 15 seconds.  That quart was $6.99, or about 10 cents for every "ah", and so worth it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Following on from yesterday's post, the QuickTime screen recording was saved as a ".mov" file and I needed an animated GIF for the blog.  That was accomplished by ezGIF, a free (I love free) online tool.  I uploaded the file, trimmed a bit from the beginning and ending and downloaded the result as the needed GIF.  Easy peasy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Mac Screen Capture And Record

One of the handier features included with the macOS Mojave (aka 10.14) is launched using the Shift-Command (⌘)-5 keyboard shortcut, which brings up all the options you'll need to record video and capture still images, either portions or an entire screen.  Capturing the animation below required the use of this feature in combination with the other screen recording option, QuickTime, and a third component to create this animated GIF, which will be covered tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dayton Blue Star Mothers

Leftover halloween candy is a yearly tradition, overbuying to make sure you never run out but never knowing how many kids will make the rounds.  Left with three bags of Hershey, Snickers and other goodies, and not wanting to pack on more pounds, I did a quick internet search and discovered that they could be donated to the Dayton Blue Star Mothers, and they will include these in the care packages they send to troops all over the world.  Win-win!

The drop off is at 6661 Clyo Road in Centerville Ohio, in the front, left corner of the KHN Medical Building.  Just one more opportunity to donate this year, Saturday, November 17th, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  And I now have a yearly reminder on my calendar so I never forget.

Friday, November 9, 2018


Tucked in the shops at the southeast corner of Wilmington Pike and SR-725/West Franklin St. in Bellbrook, Ohio, Zemore's has a most exciting menu to go with a glass of wine or other beverages.  Below is the delicious small plate of crab empanadas in red sauce I had a couple weeks ago, paired with a glass of 1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel from their 2016 vintage.  When the chef/owner was trained at the Culinary Institute of America, it has got to be great.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Wet Shoes

Consequences are a part of growing up, parents helping children to develop self-control by being able to envision how their decisions play out over time.  One such child had the habit of leaving their shoes wherever they took them off and no amount of telling them not to proved useful.  So one night, after he went to bed, I put his shoes on the back porch and it took him twenty minutes the next morning to find them.  Didn't quite get him to change his behavior, so the next time the shoes were thrown in the yard.  Obviously capable of learning, he found them quite quickly this time.  Not quite getting it, he left them in the middle of the living room a third time, and again I pitched them into the backyard.  The next morning he easily found them, but as it had rained overnight, they were quite wet.  He never left them in the middle of a room again.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

PST Bridge - For Mac

Another one of those free (I love free), high-quality utilities that serves a specific purpose, this one being to open and peruse PST (Personal Storage Table) files, in other words that file type Microsoft Outlook stores your emails in.  Convert the files to a Mac format or just browse using its included interface.  Available in the Mac App Store by following this iTunes link.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Linux on Chrome OS

The most recent Chrome OS update (70.0.3538.76) on my Acer Chromebook 14 has enabled Linux support, providing local installations of free (I love free) applications such as LibreOffice (Office Suite), GIMP (Graphics Editing), Audacity (Audio Editing) and Atom (Source Code Editor).  While the Chromebook is great for everyday tasks like email, web browsing, web-based apps and some local lighter-weight apps, it's nice to have some some super-powerful utilities at my traveling fingertips.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Disguised Signs

I been at the Fraze in Kettering hundreds, if not thousands, of times, mostly as a stop for water during a run, but also for many concerts and festivals.  Until a few days ago, I had never noticed the restroom signs cleverly, and perhaps too cleverly, included at the bottom of two of these banners.  Fortunately there's a less obtuse sign just to the left of this picture, pointing the way to the best restrooms at any venue.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Brussels Sprouts Harvest

We harvested, with the assistance of our little neighbors, one of our two Brussels Sprouts plants.  Standing over four feet tall and with a three foot stalk, it delivered about three cups of the mini-cabbage-looking vegetables.  First coated with olive oil, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and sea salt, they were baked with bacon slices and diced onion for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Out of the oven, they were topped with pine nuts before serving.  Yummy!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Solar Panels at Curran Place

I missed this article on the naming of the former NCR HQ, now Daniel J. Curran Place, and that the University of Dayton was installing 4,026 solar panels capable of generating 1.26 megawatts of power in the front lawn of the building.  The picture shows just one small part of the solar array and a nearby sign stating "Prairie in Progress" can only mean this will turn into a beautiful landscape.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

iPhone 6 Battery

My wife's iPhone 6, being 3-4 years old now, was losing its ability to hold a charge like most older phone do, but otherwise worked perfectly and looked brand new, so instead of buying a new $750 phone, we opted instead to have the battery replaced, and went to our local Batteries Plus Bulbs to perform the operation.  For $60 plus tax, which included a $10 off coupon for scheduling our appointment online, her phone is back to its original condition, easily making it through an entire day on a single charge.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Cincinnati Dinner Train

Onboard the Cincinnati Dinner Train, a throwback to 1949, for a trip through the east side of Cincinnati and along the Ohio River, complete with the Queen City Sisters bringing back childhood memories.  After dinner we walked to the back of the train and my wife got to blow the train whistle, let's say, several times.  A fun evening with friends.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Cast Iron Smoker Box

To add some extra tastiness to grilled chicken, I soaked some hickory chips in water for about 30 minutes then put them in a cast-iron smoker box and placed that over full flame on the left.  The chicken, coated in a maple rub, went over no flame on the right.  The center burner was used to keep the closed grill around 400 degrees for around 45 minutes.  Not only was the chicken delicious, but a favorable wind direction resulted in the house smelling like hickory.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Walnut Grove

Here is visual proof that I can, at least on occasion, hit a drive in the fairway.  It was a lovely autumn day for nine holes of golf, walking on a course I basically had to myself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Woodford Reserve

Had the pleasure to take a tour of Woodford Reserve, located about 20 miles northwest of Lexington, Kentucky.  This was my fourth distillery tour and while some similarities exist, each is unique in its history, ingredients and techniques used to make their spirits.  On this tour I learned there are a lot of federal rules in making bourbon and those were not crafted by politicians, but by the producers themselves in order to combat low-cost, inferior products from benefitting from the bourbon branding.  Of course, like any good tour, the next-to-last stop is a tasting, in this instance, some of their Straight Bourbon and, my favorite, the Double Oaked Bourbon.  The last stop is the gift shop, because it wouldn't be right to go home empty-handed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hey Goo Goo

The standard wake words for a Google Home device are "Hey Google" and "OK Google", but as I read recently you can also use "Hey Goo Goo".  No clue if that was intentional on Google's part or if the device just can't distinguish between "Google" and "Goo Goo".  Nothing particularly useful here, other than being able to startle a friend with your in-depth knowledge.

But for some laughs, watch this hilarious YouTube video of an Italian grandmother trying to interact with a Google Home.  ROFL!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Siebenthaler Fen

Last week afforded me the opportunity to visit Siebenthaler Fen, located a couple miles north of the intersection of US-35 and Factory Road in Beavercreek, Ohio.  The mile-long boardwalk keeps you dry as you walk through and over the fen, enjoy the scenery, dodge a frog sunning itself and letting your body relax.  This is just one of eleven parks along Beaver Creek, which begins in the north at Oakes Quarry Park and  travels south about twelve miles to merge with the Little Miami River near the Narrows Reserve Nature Center on Indian Ripple Road.  Lots more exploring to enjoy this autumn.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Flat Chicken

This barbecue-marinated flat chicken from Dorothy Lane Market was nicely done in 45 minutes using a 350 degree oven, making this quick enough to be a weekday meal.  If you want to learn how to remove the backbone yourself, this YouTube video will show you how.  My wife sure is nice to me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Ink Stamp

A rubber stamp with your return address seems like an odd purchase in this day of online bill pay, but the driver wasn't that, although this is handier than handwritten or preprinted labels, and will be very useful for the yearly batch of Christmas cards.  It's true purpose is to avoid writing our contact information on the back of raffle tickets dozens and dozens of times, saving a wee bit of writer's cramp.

Big shout out to Jane T for this idea!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Zaca Mesa

One of the great advantages of joining a local wine club is that they pick selections for you (in our case three reds monthly from Rumbleseat Wine) and you discover new wineries that produce an awesome $20 wine, such as Zaca Mesa, which is located in Santa Barbara County about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.  We had this Z Cuvee and an equally tasty bottle of their Syrah.  A little searching uncovered their Viognier (which is often called the white wine for red wine lovers), which looks delicious and a varietal that I personally love.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Sea Jax Tavern

This monster is the Green Egg and Ham Burger from Sea Jax Tavern in Kettering, Ohio, but it's only one treat on the arguably best menu around. More true to their name, they have a great seafood selection including their should-be-world-famous fish tacos.  Add twenty taps of craft beers and my day is made anytime we visit.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Microwave Design Fail

Our kitchen appliances work very well, but they all suffer from at least one annoying design failure.  It's way too easy to accidentally turn off the oven or turn on the dishwasher, but the worst is the microwave.  As shown below, one little turn of the dial in the wrong direction can result in setting the cook time to 95 minutes.  Fortunately I caught my mistake before my coffee was reheated to the point of evaporation and my favorite mug shattered.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wi-Fi 6

New Wi-Fi standards come along about every six years and we're due for the latest upgrade next year.  While techies might just love the official, and unmemorable, IEEE 802.11 naming standard, it's good to see that the Wi-Fi Alliance has moved to an easier branding standard, simply calling this next iteration Wi-Fi 6, and retrofitting names for the previous versions.  It comes down to the familiar sequence where 6 is faster than 5, which is faster than 4.  Only took about 20 years ... sigh.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Kelsyus Floating Water Hammock

There is just something really peaceful about floating on the water and this hammock was a hit this summer.  Comes in a compact, circular carrying case and it's quick to inflate.  Folding it back up is not difficult, but it's totally not obvious, fortunately a kind soul made this YouTube video that demonstrates how it's done.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Letter To My Eighteen-Year-Old Self

Over on my Life Experiences blog I penned this letter to my 45-year-younger self on our birthday.  We were just starting on our senior year in high school and beginning the transition from our kid self to the man we became, a journey that was full of good, and not-so-good, times.  What advice would you give yourself, if given the chance?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Alpaca Textiles

Looking for a gift for that can't-get-warm-enough person in your life?  You can do that, get a designer style and support a local business by visiting, either online (using the link in the picture or the one provided below), their booth in the Dayton 2nd Street Market or their store in Brookville, Ohio.  Socks, hats, shawls, blankets, sweaters, gloves and more choices, or grab some yarn and do-it-yourself.  Winter is not looking quite so cold now.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Zucchini Gratin

As simple as it is yummy.  The first half hour of preparation takes some frequent monitoring as the ingredients are added and cooked, but it's a smooth sail when it goes in the oven.  I'm a big fan of melted Gruyere cheese and the crunch of browned bread crumbs.  My wife hits another "wow, this is great!" home run surprise recipe.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan is one of the best streaming series in 2018 and the first we've watched on Amazon Prime.  It was signed for a second season months ago, well before the series "aired" (funny how those old terms stick around even when they have lost their original meaning).  As an avid Clancy reader, I think it holds close to the drama of the books, although time constraints limit the number of subplots.  Both thumbs up!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Tailgate Supplies

I'm a big fan of lists, and what could be more important than a list of all the food, drinks and accessories needed for a rocking tailgate party.  Not that we bring everything to every tailgate, it's more an all-inclusive list of things we might want to consider for a particular road trip and it's organized into sections to help see the big picture. The link below is to this two-column Google Doc that you can view and make your own copy.  Sometimes it's nice to have an already-prepared starting point.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Champagne Stopper

Finishing an entire bottle of champagne in one pouring, as not to lose its characteristic bubbles, requires a lot of adult friends, but the simple solution is a stopper that holds up to the pressure of the constantly expanding carbon dioxide.  It will even keep a bottle fresh for several days.  The only 'trick' is how to put it on the top of the bottle.  If you need a visual, the short YouTube video will show you how simple it really is.

Big shout out to Mandi T for this one (she knows why).

Monday, October 1, 2018

Dual USB Port Fast Car Charger

Needed to upgrade one of our USB car chargers and this stylish dual-port option was the winner, just beating out the black version of the same product.   Nicely priced at $12.99.  The single-port charger it replaced didn't seat itself down in the cigarette lighter as far, which this does, adding a nicer-looking touch in addition to its fast charging capabilities.  Now our iPhone and Pixel 2 phones can charge up together.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Roasted Pork With Apples And Potatoes

Sheet pan recipes are the bomb, making cleanup so much easier.  My wife used fresh rosemary from our elevated herb garden, which combined with the thyme (rhyme intentional) and the drizzle was perfect for the pork tenderloin.  Potatoes, green beans and apples rounded out a "I can't believe this is a Tuesday night dinner!" moment.  Lucky me.