Friday, September 17, 2021

Roast Chicken

Doesn't get simpler or tastier than this.  Smear a combination of softened butter, lemon zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper both inside and on the outside of a whole chicken.  Drizzle one lemon's worth of juice on the outside and stuff the inside with lemon halves and rosemary springs.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Save the drumsticks for me.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Sharing WiFi

Sorry, Android only to produce the QR Code.  But Apple users can scan it too.

A quick way to share a WiFi network and its password is using a QR code like the one shown below. 
To display the QR code, navigate these steps:

1. Touch "Settings"
2. Touch "Network & internet"
3. Touch the network you want to share then touch "Share"

That network might be located in "Saved networks", if you not near to it.

Next week I'll cover how you scan it from Android and Apple smartphones.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Libman Grill Brush

Thanks go to my stepson Pat for clueing me in on a better grill brush.  The Libman HighPower brush seen below is the best I've used and it will take care of these burger remnants in no time.  Once or twice a year, I'll use my pressure washer to give the grill plates a super-duper cleaning.  If I remember correctly, I found this at Walmart for about $8.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Caulking With Painters Tape

The caulking around the bathroom sink was getting dirty, and thanks to my brother-in-law Albert, I was able to make the new caulk straight and even.  The trick is to use painters tape to outline the area, apply the caulk and use a wet finger to smooth it out.  Wait for an hour let the caulk begin to harden, then remove the tape and make any final adjustments.  This is the first time in my life I've actually been proud of a caulking job that I did myself.


Monday, September 13, 2021

MapQuest RoutePlanner

I ran across MapQuest RoutePlanner, which will optimize a route containing up to 26 addresses. The data can be entered manually, pasted, or uploaded via an Excel or CSV file, to produce a list and a map.  On the list of addresses I tried as a test, it was not a surprise that the route was more or less a circle.  Later on, I was surprised, and should not have been, to find that the circular route was in the clockwise direction, favoring right-hand turns.  That just makes complete sense.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Gnocchi Board

We picked up this handy gnocchi board at Dorothy Lane Market's cooking school and it's a serious upgrade from using the tines of a fork to shape the gnocchi.  While I can't say that I'm as proficient as Mamma Giuliana demonstrates in the YouTube video at the link below, give me a few more batches and I think I'll come close.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

One Less Needle

When I gave blood twenty years ago the worst part, by far, was having the tip of a finger stabbed by a needle.  They would take a few drops and drop them in a mysterious liquid which made sure my hemoglobin was high enough to allow me to give blood.  Roll time forward to 2020 and that finger stick was amazingly painless.  They still got their drops and I still got a bandaid, but it was a great improvement.  

All that has gone by the wayside this year with the introduction of the OrSense NBM200, the machine shown below.  You just put your finger in the ring‐shaped sensor probe and a minute later it displays its results.  All that's left is the sting of the vein-tapping needle, but who knows, maybe they'll find a way to eliminate that and make Dr. McCoy proud.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Garage Door Seal

I purchased a new garage door seal (that black strip at the bottom of the door below) months ago when I noticed how cracked and shabby the old one was, but waited until my brother-in-law visited before trying to install it, as it's really a two-person job, just like the YouTube video demonstrates.  Check the type in your garage door (they're not all the same) before buying and measuring the width you need will save money or worse, needing to buy another one.

Friday, September 3, 2021


We made Mrs. Fields packaged snickerdoodles for years, but when Meijer dropped them in favor of their (horrible) own brand, and since no one else around here carries them, I decided to make my own and found a promising soft-baked recipe.  This one really requires a heavy-duty standing mixer like our KitchenAid and even it struggled a little bit.  You take the dough, after some time in the fridge, and make dough balls (first picture below), and roll them in sugar and cinnamon.  Bake them for 10-11 minutes and transfer them to a wire rack (second picture) to cool.  Since warm cookies are always the best, zap them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to reheat.

Historians say the name "snickerdoodle cookies" comes from the German term "Schnecke Knödel" which translates as "snail dumpling".  Can't say I get that one.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Ancient Outlet

My brother-in-law recently replaced the outdated outlet shown below with a GFCI, and it was a surprise when he lifted the cover, which I had never had a reason to do before, revealing a fuse, the old-fashioned circuit-breaker, which if it had ever tripped would have required a new fuse, versus just hitting the Reset button on a GFCI outlet.  The outlet powered the washing machine, one of many things in a house that require GFCI protection, basically anything within spray distance of water.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


When my brother-in-law showed me this cool tool, I had to have one.  It solves the problem of dropping screws as you're trying to get them started by magnetizing your screwdriver, which causes the metal screws to cling to its tip.  You just run your screwdriver in and out of the "MAGNETIZE" slot.  When you're done, you can use the "DEMAGNETIZE" slot to remove the attraction.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Home Depot Text Location

Before going on yet another trip to Home Depot, I searched their website to make sure they had in stock what I needed.   I noticed that they included, for a couple of my items, the aisle and bay to find them in.  I just had to try the "Text to me" option to see how that worked.

I was sent the following text messages to my smartphone, a very handy place to have the location available.  Why I sometimes like the challenge of finding things by wandering the aisles trying to guess where something is "hidden", knowing the location down to about an eight-foot-wide area is really nice when I'm in a hurry.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Amazon Fire TV Network Advisor

The final really useful Amazon Fire TV developer tool is Network Advisor.  It tests and displays information on your network connection, in our case, and most likely yours also, Wi-Fi.  As shown below, our signal strength and quality are strong and the Fire TV can access the Internet.  If yours is sub-par, it will also give you some recommendations to try to fix it.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Fried Chicken Thighs

We have made a lot of fried chicken in the past, but the sandwich below was the first that we used chicken thighs, which we had at a recent Dorothy Lane Market cooking class.  The chicken is topped with spicy-sweet butter and chopped dill pickles, all between our favorite, brioche buns.  While this would normally be more like a lunch, it's most obviously dinner, the glass of white wine giving that away.  Unless you're a white-chicken-meat-only type of person, try your favorite recipe with thighs next time.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Amazon Fire TV Speed Test

An option on the Fire TV's Developer Tools menu is Test Netspeed, a handy tool to see how fast your Internet connection is performing.  The first time you access this tool, you will be prompted to download the app for that, or you can just download it from the link below.  As the picture below demonstrates, this test resulted in 88.96 Mbps (Megabits per second), enough to handle video up to Full Ultra HD (8K), way more than we need currently.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Amazon Fire TV System X-Ray

Now that the Developer Tools (see yesterday's blog) are available, the first useful tool is System X-Ray.  When turned on the information at the top of the screen seen below overlays what you're watching and displays the resolution, in this case, 2160p (4K), and the frame rate (59.94 frames per second).  It also displays the amount of memory being used and network statistics including wireless signal loss and throughput in Mbps (Megabytes per second).  On some Fire TV devices, the CPU utilization is also displayed.  And in case you're wondering what the "HDCP 2.2." is all about, that's the version of copy protection being used between the Fire TV and the television, which prevents illegal copying.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Amazon Fire TV Developer Tools Menu App

This is the first of a short series on some handy tools that come along with an Amazon Fire TV, our choice for streaming.  To begin, you must first access the developer tools, and while there is a button combination on the remote that's supposed to get you there, I've not been successful in getting that to work.  Fortunately, there's a free (I love free) app available, at the link below, that adds a "Developer Tools Menu" selection to "Your Apps & Channels", as seen below.  Upcoming posts will show how to display key display, network, and video information, show your Wi-Fi signal strength, and how to test the speed of your  Internet connection.

Monday, August 23, 2021


The pair of signs shown below were taken on opposite sides of Stroop Road in Kettering, Ohio, just west of Ackerman Blvd.  Rain that falls to the west of the signs will meander westerly to the Great Miami River and into the Ohio River at the Ohio/Indiana border.  Raindrops that fall to the east will head easterly to the Little Miami River and flow into the Ohio River just south of Lunken Field.  We live about a half-mile east of the signs, so our house is in the Little Miami Rivershed.  Being so close to the dividing line explains why almost everything in any direction from our house is downhill.  More Ohio river trivia can be found at these links.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Warped Wing Root Beer

My favorite local brewery, Warped Wing, also makes a fine non-alcoholic root beer, perfect for a hot afternoon respite after the yard work is complete.  It's their first soda to be bottled and available at local stores, however, you can also find ginger beer and cherry vanilla soda on tap at either the downtown Dayton or Springboro taprooms.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Mr. John

While walking around Pie Traynor field at North Park in Pittsburgh, we spotted this familiar facility with the cute name of "Mr. John".  I can't think of anything more appropriate and was delighted by the chuckle it aroused.  Mr. John has a lot more than just portable toilets, as you can explore at this link.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Volume Leveling

Our living room television's (a Vizio) audio has been a problem for a while, with action scenes being too loud and dialogue being too quiet, sometimes to the point you couldn't make out what was being said.  This resulted in constantly raising and lowering the volume in an attempt to manage the mess.  Then we watched a couple episodes of Breaking Bad on the newer basement TV without that issue.  That led me to believe there was either a hardware or software problem on the Visio and a little searching found the culprit.  Volume Leveling was turned off, a feature that combats this very issue.  I turned in on and it immediately solved the problem.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Stairs Before and After

The almost last part of our basement remodeling project was replacing the carpet on the stairs, updating the once "lovely" brown shag (left picture below) with the plush High Castle gray carpet from Home Depot shown on the right.  Unlike the rest of the basement work which we did ourselves, this was installed by Home Depot contractors.  Now we have to decide on what color to stain the new handrail, which had to wait until the carpet was installed to get the proper visual.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Bayside 3-in-1 TV Console

When we saw this TV console at Costco and how the television could be mounted above making it look like it's on the wall and hiding all the cables inside the swiveling mounting bracket, we were sold.  We paid extra to have it assembled and delivered, money well spent for this 225-pound hunk of furniture that went down to the basement.  We just need to get the popcorn popping before sitting back and enjoying a movie or sporting event on the 65-inch 4K television.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich

While at Foremost Seafood buying crabmeat for that night's crab cake dinner, I spotted on their daily board that they had fresh soft shell crabs, one of my favorite beach lunches.  I decided to try to make my own at home and it was delicious.  Pan-fried it in canola oil with a coating of Slap Ya Mama cajun seasoning on brioche bread and cocktail sauce.  

If you think it looks a little nasty, you should have seen it raw.  Looked like something from a horror movie.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Google Wifi Status Light

Seems our life is full of glow-in-the-dark annoyances, the latest in our household being the lighted ring around our three Google Wifi routers.  The one in our upstairs guest bedroom was particularly irritating, but a quick search found it's a simple matter to adjust the brightness or eliminate it altogether.  The link has the details, but clicking the top-right gear (left image below) will bring up the Device Setting screen (the right one) that has the Status light brightness slider.  All the way left will shut it off completely.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021


Today is the first day of receiving Paul's Daily Posts from the email address of  When Google announced it was turning down the email feature of Feedburner, I looked for a way to leverage my domain name,, to send these emails.  That search took me to Zoho, a free (I love free) service that unexpectedly allowed the use of custom domain names.  I could have done that with Gmail, but it would have cost money.  The free version is limited to web browsers, but that's exactly what I needed.

Setting up a Zoho account is easy, but using a custom domain name takes some interaction with your DNS provider (Google in my case) and it's not all that difficult, but it's not all that obvious for the first time techie-wanna-be.  I make house calls...

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Changing My Posts Email Service

Effective tomorrow, Wednesday, August 11th, I am transitioning how you receive these emails.  Google is removing the portion of its Feedburner service that is currently delivering this blog to your inbox.   In its place, you will be getting an email from  If you don't receive them, check your spam folder and take whatever action is necessary to have them delivered to your inbox.

If you don't start receiving emails, want to be removed from the mailing list, or change your email address, please send a note to

Monday, August 9, 2021

Door Humor

I have to appreciate the humor on this emergency exit door at the McCandless Crossing's Burgatory restaurant outside Pittsburgh.  Whether the threat of doing dishes, for the rest of your life and beyond, actually changes anyone's decision to turn around and use the proper exit will have to wait for the afterlife to know.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Crème Brûlée

I love a good Crème Brûlée and getting a chance to put on the crusty top by melting sugar with a blowtorch, as I did a couple years ago at a Dorothy Lane Market cooking class, was a chance I didn't want to miss.  Just look at the intense concentration as I attempt to make it just the right shade.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Do Not Disturb

I'm pretty good about setting "Do Not Disturb" on my Pixel 2 in the movies, churches, or other need-quiet places, so it surprised me when phone calls were still ringing through.  I finally tracked it down to "Who Can Interrupt", which I found under Settings ... Sound ... Do Not Disturb ... People.  I changed that from the "Anyone", shown below, to "None" to resolve the annoyance.  I can't swear it came this way by default, but I can't imagine why I would have set it this way.


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Dayton Beer Company Rooftop Bar

Dayton Beer Company, located at 41 Madison St in downtown Dayton, opened a rooftop bar this spring and as you can see from the photo below, it's very sharp-looking.  You can get your beer from the first-floor taproom, but you might want to check out the bar on the rooftop.  While it doesn't have the selection of the main bar, the big advantage is they will serve your beer in a sturdy plastic glass, much nicer than the flimsy ones shown below.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Mushroom Compost

One of our projects to help reduce the amount of outside home maintenance was ripping out six under-performing knockout rose bushes and growing grass in their ten-foot-diameter mulched circle.  We always dread growing grass and keeping the birds from getting too large a share of the seed.  The solution was to throw down the seed and cover it with a thin layer of mushroom compost.  Never saw a bird poking around and with the help of plenty of timely rain, the grass took root better than ever before.  While the link below is from Lowes, we bought our bags at Home Depot, in case you go looking.

Big shout out to my brother-in-law Albert for this grass-growing tip!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Kobalt Rails

I did this years ago as part of a garage-cleaning project, installing a couple of Kobalt storage rails and different types of hooks to better utilize the upper portion of the concrete block walls.  They are firmly held in place by self-tapping Blue Concrete anchor screws installed by one of my favorite tools, a cordless impact wrench.  Besides the hose shown below, we hung our weed-wacker, shovels, ladders, rakes, hoe, electric trimmer, and snow shovels, making retrieving a tool easy and the garage at least appear organized.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Chicken Quesadillas - Panini Style

The non-stick plates in our waffle/panini maker made for a quick-and-easy cleanup, but alongside the usual ingredients of chicken, avocado, shredded cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, and salsa was char-grilled corn.  The husks were removed and the corn cooked on the gas grill for about sixteen minutes, turning every four, until they reached our desired level of color and cut off the cob.  In the background of the picture below is a glass of Cabernet, leftover from the night before.  Leftover wine is not a common occurrence in our house!

Thursday, July 29, 2021


A trip to Costco usually involves seeing something different, as their selections vary all the time, but seeing a Batmobile, Batcycle, and cutouts of Batman and Robin was definitely one of the most unique.  As a kid, Batman was a staple of my viewing schedule, as corny as it was.

Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed!  

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mother Nature

It's not often that I'm sitting in the backyard and see a sky so busy and beautiful as the one shown below.  Multiple layers of clouds, some lighter, some darker, all swirling around, and changing shapes every few seconds.  In retrospect, I should have taken a video so you could see this spectacular work of nature in action.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Bug Bite Thing

This is a nifty tool that pulls bug bite venum out from under your skin, providing immediate itch relief.  Pulling the plunger creates suction and feels like your skin is being pinched, but the brief discomfort is worth it.  Depending on the bite's location, you might need a good friend to help out ;-).

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Ice Cream Cake

Dairy Queen offers custom ice cream cakes, including uploading a photo of your birthday girl to make a one-of-a-kind creation.  I'm not much of a flour cake type of guy but lay a slice of ice cream in front of me and I'll make it disappear in a flash. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Great Stuff

The source of our recent mouse discovery was likely a gap in the basement wall around an outside spigot's water pipe.  The outside gap was small, but inside the hole was 2-3 inches in diameter.  We found a great solution by happenstance while strolling through Home Depot.  Great Stuff is an insulating foam sealant and we just sprayed it into the gap, resulting in the gray plug shown below.   

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Best Buddies

These two just love to go at it, even though they are an order of magnitude different in size.  Emmet is a brown Shih Tzu puppy weighing in at about six pounds while Maggie, a Catahoula Leopard Hound, is closer to sixty pounds.  They will jump, dive, leap, roll and run full tilt in circles around our backyard until they are totally worn out.  The white Shih Tzu, Edie, briefly seen ignoring the game, is over ten years old and just not up for expending this type of energy.  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Irwin Quick Grip Clamp

Not saying we've had a lot of rain this month, but the raised herb garden's soil got so heavy it literally snapped a couple of screws holding the lowest board in half, leaving it hanging down a few inches and holding on for dear life.  It was not possible for me to lift the board back in place, so I needed some leverage.  Happens, last week I bought the clamp shown below for a basement staircase project, and instead of opting for a clamp just large enough for my immediate need, I decided to spend another $12 and buy an extra-long version, which turned out to be perfect.  I was able, with one hand on the pistol grip, to exert enough force to slowly pull the board back in place in order to shoot in some beefier screws.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Jorrge's Restaurante Cantina

Jorrge's might be the most authentic, and fun, Mexican restaurant in Kettering.  I recently had their delicious Carne Asada house special shown below after starting with chips and salsa and a pitcher of margaritas.  Jorrge spends a lot of time getting to know his guests, a nice change from places where nobody knows your name (yep, a Cheers pun).

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Too Hot To Handle

Sometimes you just need a gentle reminder that you've left a burning hot pan on the stove and our simple solution is to use oven mitts to cover a long handle or place it near a particularly hot spot like the helper handle shown below.  The choice of a red mitt is both symbolic and hard to miss.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Hair Strainer Bathtub Stopper

The stopper in the first-floor bathroom was broken, and combined with the need to avoid cleaning out the occasional hairball (trust me, it's not mine), led us to find this combo solution at Home Depot.  It comes with two threads (3/8 in. and 5/16 in.) to match different-sized drain shoes.  You take care of any built-up hair by repeatedly pressing up and down on the top, which rips the hair into pieces that easily flow down the pipe without causing a clog.  Pretty cool.

Monday, July 12, 2021

1970 Chaminade, 1973 Julienne and 1974 C-J Yearbooks

Issuu is home to many publications of all types, with yearbooks being one of those take-me-back specials.  These links will take you to the 1970 Chaminade, 1973 Julienne, and 1974 C-J yearbooks, with the image below taken of the 1973 Julienne junior class, most of which you will also see in the 1974 yearbook, where we were all part of the first graduating class of C-J.  Many of these girls I went to grade school with (Our Lady of Mercy) and I still know many of their names from just looking at their photos, even these forty-six years later.

Thursday, July 8, 2021


Photopea is a free (I love free) online alternative to Adobe Photoshop.  It's nice to have a tool to open the occasional PSD file or perform some not-so-simple edits to image files.  It's an amazing tool and how they stuff all these features into a browser-based tool is remarkable.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Hole

An enterprising rodent, presumably a mouse, didn't let a Ziploc bag stand in their way of a high-gluten meal, eating right through the plastic and the paper to satisfy their hunger.  Fortunately, the culprit was not present when this was found in the basement.  Time to set some traps and buy another bag of flour, and store it in something more sturdy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Water Softener

Our old water softener was at the end of its life and since that Enting equipment lasted over 40 years (it was here when Elaine bought the house), what other choice would we go with than a current Enting model?  I believe the refrigerator standing to its right is now the oldest piece of equipment in the house and the only one we haven't replaced since we've been married.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Fairmont High School

My daughter's seemingly simple question, "why is Fairmont High School named Fairmont", turned into a history hunt going back to the early 1900s.  While I can't find a definitive reference to verify what I believe to be true, it seems very likely the following is the source.

The first Fairmont High School was a small four-room building that opened in the fall of 1906 and was located on Dorothy Lane just west of Far Hills Avenue.  That area was named the "Fairmont Plat" (highlighted in the image below) back in those days, so it makes sense that's where the high school's name originated.  Today, Fairmont Avenue is located in that same area. 

Fairmont seems to be a name that references a good view from a high point and looking west from Fairmont Plat you would see down the steep hill to the valley that now stretches from Community Golf Course to the Great Miami River.

Fairmont High School is currently in its fourth location as population growth through the 1900s resulted in larger facilities being built.  More details can be found at this link.

The entire map of Van Buren township, now the cities of Kettering and Moraine, and a peek into the names of its past, can be found at this link.