Wednesday, July 1, 2020


Just east of Raleigh, NC we ran into I-87, odd since I-87 also runs from New York to Montreal and there are several hundreds of miles between them.  This I-87 is the baby, and currently the shortest designated primary Interstate Highway at 12.9 miles, with hopes of growing up someday.

But it's not alone in its duplicity, as there are also two I-76's, I-84's, I-86's, and I-88's.  It's not that we've totally run out of numbers, as there are only 70 being used, but if you used I-3 for an east coast highway, it would mess up the west-to-east coast, south-to-north, ascending numbering scheme.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Docking Simulator

Test your skills on a real-life interface to dock the SpaceX Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.  The right set of controls makes changes in vehicle rotation (yaw, pitch, roll) and the left set makes changes to vehicle speed, also in three dimensions.  That's only six things to juggle in your noggin while trying not to ram the station.  It takes patience and practice to win the day.

Click the link to read the detailed instructions and begin flying.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Goober Grape

My children will confirm that I've been into Goober Grape for decades.  It's the perfect proportion of peanut butter and grape jelly stripes and it works just as well as a snack on a spoon as it does between slices of bread.

I wonder if I could make a "Gin and Jam" drink (see for details) with this, ending up with a liquid version of Goober Grape, with a kick.  I'll let you know.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Awful Arthur's

At mile marker 6 in Nags Head, NC on South Virginia Dare Trail (aka The Beach Road) lies Awful Arthur's, my favorite seafood restaurant in the Outer Banks.  My favorite sandwich there is the Jumbo Soft Shell Crab pictured below, which I honestly could eat every day.  It's crunchy but the shell disintegrates in your mouth and the crab flavor is awesome.  They should have named the place Awesome Arthur's because the only thing Awful is that they're closed on Mondays.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Vulcan Salute

Being a Star Trek fan since I was a little boy, I practiced and practiced until I could perform Spock's Vulcan salute flawlessly with either hand.  But until recently I never knew, or really ever thought about, its origin.  Leonard Nimoy based the gesture on a Jewish Kohanim Priestly Blessing and it represents the Hebrew letter Shin (ש).  This became so well-known that an emoji was added (shown below) back in 2014 to the Unicode 7 standard.

Live long and prosper!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


While clematis usually needs at least half a day's worth of sun, we have ours planted against the west outside wall of our house and with our neighbor's house being about 12 feet away, our clematis gets 3-4 hours at best.  It's still enough to produce the beautiful flowers shown below.  It's crazy how their vines shoot up and wrap their tendrils around the trellis.  This is a great solution to spruce up an otherwise barren wall.

Monday, June 22, 2020

I Seek Dead People

As this mug my daughter so thoughtfully bought me says, I've been into genealogy recently, seeking my long-deceased ancestors, some easier to find than others.  I've been using to create my family tree and do a lot of research, although other sites such as,, our local Calvary Cemetery site, and others all provided valuable answers.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Corn Holders

Corn on the cob = Summer!

We picked up these oversized corn holders at Meijer and what a difference.  Much easier to hold onto than the normal puny-sized variety and they store more safely and conveniently as one slides into another, making a matching pair without exposed prongs.  Plus they come in a plastic jar that makes finding them way easier. 

Simplicity = Pure Genius!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


Home2Home is a consignment shop where you turn your good-quality discards into cash.  My wife has made almost $500 for items including an antique, refurbished dresser, a pair of framed prints that no longer matched our updated decor, and a wall-mounted mirror.  You just set up an account, drop off your possessions at the rear of the store, the wait until they sell.  You get 50% of the final selling price, which drops on a schedule until it does.  They don't take just anything, so check their website for the details.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Water Fountain Madness

The City of Kettering removed the foot pedal from this water fountain at the Fraze Pavilion in June.  One questions why you would do that when this is a contactless device and can be safely used without touching it, except with the bottom of your shoe, which I have no intention of rubbing against my eyes, nose, or mouth.  The other three water fountains have buttons that require a finger, so I understand why those might (BIG might) be a concern, but there is no sign on them that indicates they are not working, so I'm pretty sure a lot of people have tried them and came away with no more than some potential (BIG potential) cooties and the thirst they were trying to quench.

It's just plain STUPID.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Boneless Buffalo Chunks

While this recipe calls for using a quart of oil in a deep fryer, it works equally well on the stovetop. 
Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper give these a spice kick, but the real winner was dipping sauce, melting butter in the Buffalo sauce.  That small addition was a big, happy surprise.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Scrolling Lock Screen Message

A nice feature on smartphones is the ability to have a lock screen message.  That gives you the option of putting some contact information that someone who finds your lost phone can use to return it to you.  And, yes, there are many kind souls out there that will do just that.  Instructions for the Google Pixel phone are at this link, but for other smartphones just search for "lock screen message" and include your specific phone to find out how to set it up on your phone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Kelly Ventura

This pair of prints from Kelly Ventura, framed at The House of 10,000 Picture Frames, are called Protea No. 1 and 2.  They are part of a collection of very moderately priced artwork that includes single prints and, like these, a matched pair, which we needed for either side of the living room fireplace.  She also has some beautiful original artwork, albeit a bit steeper in price.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Compression Socks

Add these compression socks to my list of must-haves when flying on an airplane, particularly on longer trips, as my feet will swell up every time and these socks minimize that.  Their normal day job are as running socks, providing additional ankle support and avoiding the rubbing and sores that happens with regular socks.  And they're pretty styling...

Monday, June 8, 2020


We really enjoyed, and learned a lot, watching the show "Grant" on the History Channel.  It's a three-part, six-hour-long look at the life of Ulysses S. Grant with the majority being his leadership during the Civil War, the setbacks encountered, and the victories achieved.  Viewer discretion is advised, as there is plenty of blood spattered on the battlefields.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Chicken Parmesan over Zucchini Noodles

A Sunday dinner for a low-carb, but great-taste, lover.  The zucchini spirals replace the normal pasta as the side and the chicken parm, featuring fresh thyme, lots of garlic, shallot, heirloom tomatoes, and white wine deliver all the flavor your palette deserves.  Go the for fresh zucchini, spiral it yourself (it's easy), and don't be tempted with store-bought bags.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Rear Wiper Motor Replacement

Thanks to the YouTube video at the link below, I was able to replace the rear wiper motor on my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The new motor was $70 on Amazon and I probably saved myself $100-$150 on labor.  The video wasn't a perfect match, but it was close enough to get several valuable tips and the rest I could figure out by myself.  Of course, if I did it again it would take 30 minutes instead of 2 hours, but that's par for the course.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

iPhone/iPad Screen Recording

Just maybe you have a new grandchild that you get to see through Facetime and just maybe you want to relive a few of those darling coos and bright eye moments.  Your solution is to record your screen using a swipe and a tap.  Details can be found at this link.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


The work involved in finding an ancestor’s gravestone is reduced from walking up and down aisle after aisle to being guided by your phone’s GPS and the webCemeteries mobile website.  Just search for your relative, select the correct one, and their position is marked by a red pin and your location by a blue dot.  When the pin and dot are on top of each other, you’re less than ten feet away.  I don’t know which or how many cemeteries use this technology, but Calvary Cemetery, where most of my local ancestors are resting, fortunately does.

Friday, May 29, 2020


Mrs. Fields makes the best cookies and her snickerdoodles are my #1 favorite.  I snatched a warm one fresh from the oven, from the wire rack below, before I thought to take a picture.  Reheat them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to resurrect that warmth.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

U.S. 35 Superstreet

If you've ever traveled westbound from Xenia towards Dayton at rush hour, you've probably encountered a heavy backup along the way.  That's going to improve by replacing the traditional stoplights at Factory Road and Orchard Lane with what ODOT is calling a "superstreet", where cars on Factory and Orchard will only be able to make a right-hand turn.  Motorists who wanted originally to turn left or go straight will do a legal U-turn at a nearby one-way, signalized median crossover to backtrack to the intersection and turn right (if they originally wanted to go straight) or continue straight ahead (if they originally wanted to turn left).  The picture below does a nice job providing a visual.  I just think of it as a stretched-out roundabout.

Read more about it at this link.  The project is underway and will continue through most of 2022.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Gutter Strainer

As part of dealing with a clogged downspout, I installed this gutter strainer to help keep leaves and the dreaded "whirly-birds" from doing a repeat performance.  While installing gutter-guards would be a better solution, they come at a steep price, and at less than $3, I'll be happy to get the ladder out a few extra times a year to clean out the accumulated debris.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Google Meet On Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a $35, single-board computer built for the IT hobbyist.  I loaded it with its standard Raspbian Linux image, which includes the Chromium web browser (the open-source version of Google Chrome), and started up a Google Meet video conference from the comfort of my basement.  It's a good project to learn about the Raspberry Pi and Linux, but having something really useful at the end is a bonus.

Monday, May 25, 2020

State Route 11

I was introduced to U.S. 35 back in the early 1970s when it provided a much quicker route to my grandfather's home in Beavercreek from my parent's home in North Dayton.  But what I recently found out is this road was State Route 11 back before the adoption of the U.S. Highway System in 1926.  I've circled the 11's in the picture below and also circled the 1's, as U.S. 40 was known as State Route 1 back then.  You can also see the neighboring towns of Fairfield and Osborn, which were still 25 years away from merging and becoming Fairborn in 1950.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Costco Cod

While Costco is a "big box store", they are really good for their meat, shrimp and, as shown below, Trident brand Beer Battered Cod fillets.  Add some dill pickles and a few dollops of Frisch's tartar sauce (simply the best version) and you have a quick and delicious meal. 

What about the peas?  They make the photo prettier.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lincoln Park Civic Commons And Fraze Pavilion

This has been one of the longest springs in my memory, with blooms staying on trees for weeks instead of a few days.  This turned the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering into the beautiful sight seen below, the entrance to the Pavilion being seen across the pond in the Lincoln Park Civic Commons. 

Fraze is named for Ermal Fraze, who was born on a farm near Muncie, Indiana, later moved to Dayton, Ohio, started Dayton Reliable Tool & Manufacturing Company (now DRT Manufacturing Company) and most loved for inventing the pull-tab opener used in beverage cans, ending the need to carry around a "church key", whose pointy end was used to poke a hole through the top of a can.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Sanborn maps detail U.S. city streets and buildings for over 100 years beginning in the 1860s.  They were created to allow fire insurance companies to assess policy risk and liability, but they offer an invaluable resource for exploring history.  For example, the 1900 U.S. Census provided the street addresses my grandmothers grew up at, but neither street came up in Google Maps, as they no longer exist, but I found them on Sanborn maps. Another example is shown below, displaying where the Miami-Erie Canal (shown as just the Miami Canal) split in two, with the left, local extension traveling up what is now Patterson Blvd, before turning east between Monument Avenue and the Mad River.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Smith Gardens

Smith Gardens, located on Oakwood Avenue in Oakwood, Ohio, is a small yet beautiful oasis.  Ohio Magazine called Smith Gardens the “finest tiny public garden in Ohio" back in 1996.  It's just one stop on an 8-mile, self-guided tour of Oakwood that includes Hawthorn Hill, home of the Wright Brothers, and many other stunning mansions.  While touring in a car is an option, if you have the legs for it, I suggest walking the route, perhaps breaking it into 2-4 sections and doing them on different days.  If you think we don't have hills around here, this path will correct that misperception.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Google Fi Savings

I was pleasantly surprised when my last cell phone bill was $7-$8 less than normal, then realized that I'm on Wi-Fi most of the time since I'm mostly at home.  My Google Fi plan costs me $20/month, one penny per ten megabytes of data (yes, it's billed in penny increments) and, of course, almost 14% additional for taxes and fees.

Contrast my plan with my wife's Verizon plan.  She's currently getting an additional 15GB of data per month free.  This is perfectly useless for her and almost everyone else, except Verizon can keep their normal revenue ($52.07 this month) and make it look like they're so very generous at the same time, giving away to those very few the bandwidth we freed up by staying at home.

Not fooling this guy.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Eggs Benedict

A little recipe modification here, subbing sliced turkey for the traditional Canadian bacon, but the star of this show is the Hollandaise Sauce, made with an entire stick of butter, lemon juice, and a couple of egg yolks.  I gave myself permission to lick the plate clean before putting it in the dishwasher.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

World Of Engineering

One of my favorite followings on Instagram and Twitter is World Of Engineering.  They present a host of short videos on how things work, how they are made or just fascinating stuff, like a drone using a flamethrower to clear power lines.  It’s a wonderful diversion from cats, politics and annoying promotions.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Foam Sucker

Somethings you discover as a kid last forever.  I don't know if anyone else loves to suck on the foam of a soda (in my case Pepsi) right after it’s poured, but I do, as shown below.  Maybe it's just that the first taste is always the best or I can't wait another five seconds.  Or I just haven’t grown up yet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Anono-Mask Game

Each person puts on a pair of plastic glasses and attaches a picture, unknown to them, covering the top half of their face.  Each person gets to ask a question requiring a “yes” or “no” answer and tries to guess what they are.  First person who guesses correctly is the winner.

Well, that’s the official rules, but we elected to just have one person put on a mask and we each gave them clues, while we laughed at them and drank beer, until they figured it out.

Big shout-out to Marilou for the afternoon fun!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Farfalle with Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Twelve tablespoons of parsley, dill, mint, and chives, a half inside and a half on top, make this pile of bowtie-shaped farfalle pasta as beautiful as it is tasty but don't forget the garlic, shallot, and goat cheese that punch it up.  The creaminess comes from the goat cheese and a 1/2 cup of half-and-half.  Our only caution is the addition of the zest and juice of an entire lemon.  You might want to cut that in half to get a better balance to the flavors.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Outlet For Alexa

When we had the deck rebuilt last year we moved the outdoor GFCI outlet out of the way, only thinking we needed that to power the deck lights.  That turned out to make it a bit inconvenient to bring an Amazon Echo outside to listen to music, needing to thread the power cord through the railing, then walk all the way the deck to plug it in.  Fortunately, we have our brother-in-law Albert, shown below, to pull together a sweet solution to extend the circuit make a new outlet easily reachable for Alexa.

Big shout-out and thanks to Albert!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Google Color Picker

I was just searching for an online tool to help pick a website color and entered "color picker".  Instead of just a bunch of search results, Google presented its tool, which was perfect for my need.  Just move the slider left and right to move through the spectrum, or enter your specific values.

At the bottom of the image below, you'll see the probably familiar RGB (Red-Green-Blue) and CMYK (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-blacK), but also HSV and HSL, both unfamiliar to me.  HSV is short for Hue-Saturation-Value and HSL for Hue-Saturation-Lightness and these alternatives are explained in detail at this Wikipedia link.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Kinship Terminology

As I dig into our family history, I find this chart particularly useful.  One memorable takeaway is that "first cousins share the same grandparents, second cousins share the same great-grandparents, and so on".  But why a "first cousin once removed" is the appropriate title for both the children of my first cousins and the parents of second cousins is beyond me.  Just seems lazy.


Monday, May 4, 2020

American Standard

Grab a glass of wine, turn down the lights, and sink into your favorite comfy place to listen to James Taylor's most recent album, American Standard.  A blend of classic, old-time favorites like My Blue Heaven from the Ziegfeld Follies, Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's movie, Almost Like Being in Love from Brigadoon and my favorite, Ol' Man River from the Broadway play Show Boat.  We played it via Spotify, but I can't say what other streaming services have it.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Italian Wedding Soup

The star of this show are the homemade meatballs, made with a combination of ground chicken and chicken sausage.  The award for the most surprising ingredient is the fresh dill, which gives the soup a unique and delicious kick, and deserves our applause.  While I’m not a big fan of soup in general, this one has me reaching for a biggie-sized spoon.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Griddler

When our waffle maker was broken in an unfortunate closet accident, we used the opportunity to replace it with this 3-in-1 grill/waffle maker/panini press.  Doubt we'll use the lay-flat grill that much, but the other two will get regular use.  Best of all, the non-stick plates are easy to take on and off, and cleanup is easy, including that they are dishwasher-safe.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

It Had To Go

It’s been nearly 60 years since I’ve had my hair cut at home, but after 8 weeks of lockdown I was looking more than a bit ragged, so with the help of my wife and a Wahl trimmer that I had bought last year for beard trimming, the dome is back to being comfortable.  I don’t have much hair left, but what’s stayed around grows surprisingly fast.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Matanzas River Marsh

The picture below of the Matanzas River comes from the west end of Dondanville Road in Saint Augustine, Florida, and demonstrates the diversity of waterways, with this beautiful marsh located just blocks away from sandy beaches.  This is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, a 3,000-mile stretch of mostly inland waterways beginning in Boston, Massachusetts, going around the southern tip of Florida and continuing along the Gulf of Mexico to Brownsville, Texas.

Matanzas translates to "massacre" or "killings" and in this case relates to the murder of several hundred shipwrecked French Huguenots by Spanish forces led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés way back in 1565.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Maria Sanchez Lake

If you travel on Bridge Street in St. Augustine, Florida, you will find it oddly named, as doesn’t cross any river or stream, the nearest one being several blocks away to the south.  Roll the clock back to the 1880s and Bridge Street crossed Maria Sanchez Creek whose northern end Henry Flagler wanted to build a couple hotels.  The creek was filled in between King and Bridge street, and later on more blocks of the creek disappeared to develop the city.  Eventually, a dam was placed at South Street and Maria Sanchez Lake, pictured below, was created.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Leftover Mashed Potato Gnocchi

We ended up with an extra quart of mashed potatoes recently and instead of piling on all those carbs in a few days we decided to make and freeze, uncooked, several packages of gnocchi.  It just takes roughly an equal amount of flour, one egg per cup of mashed potatoes, and the patience to roll, cut and score with the tines of a fork.  Detailed instructions can be found at this link.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thriller, Filler, Spiller

This is a great technique to get the most out of your planter.  In the back put a tall plant like Baby Tut Grass, which is the “Thriller” and in the middle a contrasting shorter plant such as Polka Dot Plant, aka the “Filler”.  In front goes a draping plant like Bacopa, which is the aptly named “Spiller”.  The result is a beautiful, vertical mix of colors like our 2019 box below.  Use your colorful imagination to build your own tower of beauty.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


On the new lamp posts at Lincoln Park, we couldn't figure out what the horizontal arm was.  A Wi-Fi antenna, a temperature sensor or a listening device were a few of our way-off guesses.  It would have been obvious if the lower arm was in place, which we're assuming was taken off to limit theft.  These arms and the spring-loaded brackets attached to the poles are to hang banners.  This system from BannerSaver allows the banners to flex as it gets windy, saving on wear-and-tear and extending banner life, as shown in the cool demonstration video at this link.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Packet Capture Apps

Sorry, these apps are Android only...

Being an old network guy, I find it invaluable to see data as it's flowing on the network.  For Mac and Windows computers I use Wireshark, but that's not available on my Pixel 2.  A couple app alternatives that I've tried are "Packet Capture" and "tPacketCapture". The first one is good for immediately seeing data, as shown below, but it lacks any further depth of analysis.  The second app just captures data with no display, but the data can be saved in "pcap" format, which can be transferred to a program like Wireshark to perform very in-depth analysis.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Ice Spike

We get an ice spike, like the one pictured below, every so often and it's a tribute to the Reverse Osmosis (RO) system that Enting Water Conditioning installed several years ago to provide us with pure and great-tasting water and ice.  Ice spikes are rare enough, but they are less likely to form when water contains impurities, which inhibit spike formation, and the RO system takes most of that out.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Here’s a delicious reason to buy cream of chicken soup...

These enchiladas were unexpectedly creamy and spicy and none of the plentiful leftovers went uneaten.  You'll find the recipe at this Pinterest link and one major substitution was using four cans of Kirkland (i.e. Costco) chicken, which if you haven't tried it is pretty darn good.  This is the ultimate comfort food, perfect for a cold, stay-at-home day.

Big shout-out to my wife Elaine for preparing this tummy-pleaser!