Friday, March 5, 2021

Pimiento Cheese Stuffed Soft Pretzels

These pretzels are roll-your-eyes-and-sigh good and simple to make because Chef Elaine used her favorite store-bought pimiento cheese dip instead of making it per the recipe.  She rolled out a tube of pizza dough and cut it into four pieces, spread the centers with pimiento cheese, made ropes with the help of some egg wash to keep it together then twisted them into a pretzel shape.   The baking soda bath and baking directions are included in the recipe at this link.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Brain Fart

This game is perfectly named, as you'll see why in a moment.  The game is played by first rolling the nine cubes, just like dice, getting a new set of categories.  The person going first, which starts with the youngest player at the table, taps the magenta brain which starts a timer that randomly selects a time between 30 and 45 seconds, and displays a letter on an LED screen.  The player has to select a cube (and keep it) then shoutout an answer that starts with the displayed letter and goes with the cube's category.  For example, I might take the "Sports Teams" category and if the answer must start with a "C", I would shoutout "Cleveland Browns".  The game continues with the next player until all the cubes are used or the brain "farts".  If all cubes are used, the player that used the last cube gets to give a token to any other player, but if the brain "farts", the player that's currently in their turn gets a token from the "bank".  When all the tokens have left the "bank" the game is over and the person holding the fewest tokens is the winner.

The brain "fart" noise is only part of the reason the game is aptly named.  There are times, usually when only a few cubes remain, but at times with all nine available, that a player will just not be able to think of any answer to any of the cube's categories, in other words, that player has a "brain fart".

Big shout out to Grace for showing us this game!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Paint Can Lips

Home Depot was giving away these little yellow plastic paint can lips (for the lack of a better term) and it does a nice job of keeping most of the mess away when pouring paint.  The bottom has a grove that fits over the inside rim of the paint can to keep it in place.   I just have to remember to make sure it's securely in place to avoid a bigger cleanup.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Alexa Suggestions

It really bugs me when I ask Alexa for the temperature and after "she" does that, starts to give me suggestions on what else I can ask "her" to do.  There is a setting in the Alexa app to turn that off, as shown below.  You will find this in the Alexa app at More ... Settings ... Notifications ... Things to Try.  It's not the only place to turn off annoying notifications as this article articulates.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Last Friday's blog was about roasting leftover raw vegetables.  If you have leftovers from that, they make an awesome frittata.  Whip up four eggs with a little half-n-half, place the vegetables in a glass pie plate (or any oven-proof casserole dish), pour in the whipped eggs, then twirl to get an even distribution.  Bake at 350 degrees until the eggs are firm, about 15 minutes.

In the frittata shown, Chef Elaine used leftover roasted carrots, red peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and onions to make us a fantastic brunch.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Peyton's Places and Ball State

An episode of season 2 of Peyton's Places on ESPN+ featured Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, host Peyton Manning and arguably Ball State's most famous alumni, David Letterman.  The majority of the show featured proposed NFL rule changes concocted by David, such as making the football field 1/4-mile long, raising the goal posts five extra feet each quarter, and having the entire offense and defense on the field for one play per game.  After discussing the merits of the proposals, David and Peyton get the Ball State Cardinal football team on the field, where they participate in live demonstrations of each change.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


The can ceiling lights in the basement needed a 6-inch circular cutout in the ceiling tile and somehow my brain remembered that I owned a protractor, which turned out to be exactly 6 inches wide.  I drew a couple semi-circles in pencil and cut the perfect-sized opening with a razor-blade knife.  Easy and peasy! 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Great American Rail-Trail

Being able to ride, run, or walk for over 3,700 continuous miles, from Washington D.C. to Washington State, is the vision of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.  You can see the envisioned path at the link below and for Ohioans most of that path is already in place.  Locally, the route between Columbus, Ohio to the western edge of Montgomery County includes sections of Ohio to Erie Trail, Creekside Trail, Mad River Trail, Great Miami River Trail, and Wolf Creek Trail, with the only gap being five miles between west Dayton and Trotwood.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Sheet Pan Vegetables

When you have leftover raw vegetables, a little of this, a little of that, cut them into bite-sized pieces, stick them in a plastic bag and add a little oil, salt, pepper, and whatever spices you like.  Place a cookie sheet in the oven, set it to 400 degrees then wait until it finishes preheating.  Take the cookie sheet out of the oven,  dump the vegetables on it and return to the oven, baking them for 20 minutes at the same 400 degrees.  Chef Elaine used red bell pepper, onion, broccoli, carrots, and butternut squash to make the masterpiece shown below.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Miter Box

I bought this miter box and hand saw combo a forgotten number of years ago but somehow remembered I had it as I needed to cut some casings and wanted to avoid using my table saw that's out in a very cold garage.  It has grooves for cutting at 22.5, 45, and 90 degrees and makes a much smoother cut than a circular saw.  Ignore the shag carpeting on the floor.  It's going to the dump soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Medicare Blunder

Assuming that Medicare would cover my annual physical and waiting a year since my last one, I was surprised to see that it wasn't covered, which set me back $279.  The explanation, per the Explanation of Benefits, was ...

"This service was denied. Medicare doesn't cover an Annual Wellness Visit within the first 12 months of your Medicare Part B coverage. Medicare does cover a one-time Welcome to Medicare preventive visit within the first 12 months."

So I should have scheduled the "Welcome to Medicare" visit, not the "Annual Wellness" visit.

While Medicare overall is pretty good, there are a few "gotchas", and this one "gotcha'd me good".

More info at this AARP link.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Magic Mouse 2

I bought my first Magic Mouse (which I truly love) ten years ago and it finally gave up the ghost.  With the snowstorm coming, I rushed over to the Apple Store at The Greene and purchased a new one, which is now in its second version.  The big difference is there are no replaceable AA batteries needed (yeah!), just charge it with the provided cable plugged into a USB port on one side and into the little lightning port shown at the bottom of the picture below.  The only downside is when it's being charged you can't use it.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Backreaction Blog

I really admire people that can take incredibly complex topics and bring them down to my level.  One such blog I recently ran across is Beackreaction, where Sabine Hossenfelder, a theoretical physicist and Research Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, tackles subjects involving quantum technology, the origin of atoms, the reality of time, and much more.  Her blogs, which you can find at the link below, also include embedded YouTube links, giving you the option of reading or listening.

Shout out to my friend John S. for the tip!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Fullstar Chopper

This is sort of like a Swiss army knife for your kitchen and packs a bunch of different slicers, dicers, spiralers, graters, and even a juicer, into an amazingly small package.  Perhaps the best feature is the cut-resistant glove to help keep the tips of your fingers from becoming a casualty.

Shout out to our friend Grace for finding this first!

Thursday, February 11, 2021


My daughter gifted me StoryWorth for a Christmas present and I couldn't be more thrilled.  Each week I get an email with a question she's selected and I email back with a story from my life.  After 52 weeks, all my responses are compiled into a book like the one shown below.  Every week I get to recall parts of my life I haven't thought about in ages and being a guy that likes to write, it's no bother to sit behind my keyboard and bang out a tale.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Dishwasher Filter

Until a few weeks ago, I never knew, and never thought to consider, that a dishwasher has a filter in it, in our case, two of them.  If I showed you what ours looked like before I cleaned them, you might never come over for dinner again, it was that obscene.  If you've never cleaned yours, you might want to find your Tums first.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A Punt

The indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle is called a punt.  No clue why it's called that, but its shape made sense in the olden days when bottles were hand-fashioned by glassblowers.  But there are some good reasons for keeping the punt, including...

  • A thin-walled bottom could easily break
  • For sparkling wines, the punt increases the strength of the bottle
  • Extra weight at the bottom of the bottle gives the bottle more stability
Personally, I like the other end better, you know, the end where the wine comes out...

Monday, February 8, 2021

New Lug Nuts

Most of the lug nuts on my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee were nasty looking like the ones in the left picture, and after 17 years I guess that's expected, so an asked-for Christmas gift was the $18 set of new shiny ones seen on the right.  Even though I did find the tire iron (see my 1/18/2021 post for details), removing them turned out to be a problem, and not wanting to cause any damage that could cost a bunch to fix, I had the nice folks at USA Tire (see my 3/26/2019 post) do the installation, which only set me back $20 plus tax.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Juggernaut Pinot Noir

While most of the three-wines-of-the-month we get from Rumbleseat Wine are good, occasionally we get one that we go back for more, in this case, a 2018 Juggernaut Pinot Noir.  The three bottles below were the last they had on the shelf, but if they get more in, I'm sure we'll snag even more.  This is not a wimpy Pinot, but the oomph you might expect from a Cabernet while maintaining that unmistakable Pinot cherry taste.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Maker's Mark Cards

The annual Christmas gift for Maker's Mark Ambassador members is the deck of cards shown below.  That fact it arrived in February I'm sure is pandemic-related.  Still, it's always nice to have a fresh new deck of cards when friends, eventually, will dare come out and visit.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021


This thoughtful Christmas gift is going to be a hit this summer when it's paired with the included 100" projector screen and a Fire TV stick that uses our Bose Portable Spreaker for awesome sound.  We envision mounting the screen to the outside wall at the south end of our patio and watching Netflix at sunset.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Best Of 2011-2020

Over on my Life Experiences blog, I've taken the last ten years of my "Best of the Year" blogs, totaling 100 of the coolest things I've done or experienced, selected the top 10, and compiled them into a "Best Of The Decade".

Monday, February 1, 2021

High School Class Makes Desks

My wife's cousin is that type of guy who sees a problem then sets out to fix it, in this case, kids schooling at home without the benefit of a desk.  His design takes a single 4'x8' sheet of wood, donated by Lowe's, cuts it into the needed surfaces, legs, and supports which are screwed together.  He and his construction technology students constructed fifty desks to start, gave them away for free, and are busy making more.  These kids got the best life lesson I can imagine.

This link includes a 1:43-long video that will warm your heart.

Friday, January 29, 2021

California Dreaming Salad

Chef Grace treated us to a version of South Carolina-based California Dreaming's namesake salad for a lunchtime treat.  It's a great blend of greens, cheeses, meats, and more, but it's the salad dressing, made with 1/2 cup of bacon drippings, that makes it awesome.  It was paired with a croissant and a glass of milk and there was nothing left in plate nor glass when I was done.  Wow, wow, and wow!

Thursday, January 28, 2021


Partly driven by people's growing distrust of the Big Tech players and partly by WhatsApp's poor messaging of a soon-to-be-implemented change to their privacy policy, people are looking for alternatives for some apps, particularly ones where they want to communicate without the worry of prying ears.  While a lot of alternatives exist, I've decided to give Signal a try.  While a small portion of my contacts, thirteen at the moment, also have Signal, that's higher than I would have expected this early in an adoption curve.

FYI .. this is the signal reference I made last Thursday in the post on DuckDuckGo.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Big Al

The picture below demonstrates how good the zoom is on my Pixel 2's camera, as I was nowhere this close to "Big Al", one of the larger alligators we've spotted on Hilton Head Island and estimated to be 13 feet long.  Being cold-blooded, this guy was looking to warm up on an above-normal day, in the seventies and sunny.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

I-77 Through Charlotte

The picture below was taken as we drove south on I-77 through Charlotte and shows a total of five lanes, however, the two on the left of the barrier are for paying customers.  So 40% of the total capacity (and 50% in other places) are set aside for those willing to pay for the privilege of zipping along during times when us poor folk are creeping along.  

I have to wonder how much money is being lost since the government lockdowns have people working from home and using the free lanes is not a burden.  That said, we saw some cars using the toll lanes anyway and wondering why anyone would bother spending even a few dimes to use them.  Speeding is our best guess.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Costco Gas Tap To Pay

As a rabid reader of signs and instructions, I'm embarrassed to say it has taken me at least two years to read the sign above the gas pump at Costco, which now saves me a little wallet-digging each time I fill up.  Since I have a Costco Visa card, all that I have to do is tap that card and begin fueling, bypassing the step where I have to dig out and swipe my Costco card first.  Seems like a small thing, but the less I spend standing in the cold winter's air, the better.

In my defense, as a typical human being, I pay a lot less attention to anything above eye level, a fact I used when hiding Easter eggs long ago when my children were young.  Used to drive them crazy...

Friday, January 22, 2021

Mudlick Igloo

We probably could have chosen a slightly warmer evening (i.e. greater than 32 degrees) to try out having dinner in an outdoor igloo at Mudlick Tap House in downtown Dayton, as we needed two heaters to achieve a decent level of comfort.  We had multiple people leaving the restaurant come up to ask if we were "warm in there" which we confirmed was true at eye level, but not so much at foot level.  But it was nice to have complete strangers come over to talk to us, which hasn't happened for ten months.

Thursday, January 21, 2021


I've moved most of my Internet searching over to DuckDuckGo.  Other than the rather cute name, the major reason wasn't some urgent need to have my searches hidden from the big tech giants, but rather to send a signal (this is a pun, which will become apparent in the near future) that I don't appreciate their interfering in the political arena and while my contribution to their ad revenue is negligible, it's not zero.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Convalescent Plasma

One benefit of having had COVID-19 and testing positive for antibodies is being able to donate COVID Convalescent Plasma (CCP), which is used to treat those seriously ill and hospitalized.  Our local Community Blood Center's CCP donations are transfused directly to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients in the Dayton area.  The donation process takes about two hours with about one hour from "needle in" to "needle out".   Then you get free cookies and drinks, albeit self-serve.  Learn more and schedule a donation at this link.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Ridgeway Bridge Progress

Taken last week, the picture below shows that the Ridgeway Bridge over Dorothy Lane is gone.  Other than squeezing down to a single lane in each direction, traffic was flowing nicely.  That's decent progress for a project that started a couple months ago and is scheduled to be completed this fall.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Jeep Jack

In the eight years I've owned my Jeep I've never had to take off a tire, so when my brother-in-law and tried to install new lug nuts to replace the existing gnarly ones, we looked for the tire iron in the usual place, under the spare tire in the back.  Not there.  We had to consult the owner's manual to find it's located under the right rear seat, as shown below.  So that's what that little leather handle strap is for.

And I guess I need to get a vacuum...

Friday, January 15, 2021

Goodbye Twitter

I don't know where the right line is, but it's clear that Twitter has chosen theirs far left of that fuzzy middle area.  In a country founded on the freedom of speech, its corollary, the freedom to listen requires no effort, you can simply choose to tune out.  Engaging in Social Media should be fun, interesting, and informative, and it's clear Twitter had lost its way.  I deleted Facebook years ago when the time I was spending scrolling through crap far exceeded anything of value.  I don't miss Facebook at all, and I suspect Twitter will be the same.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Utility Sink Platform

The new washer, due to its larger discharge hose (below right), necessitated a new raised platform, used to store detergent, bleach, etc., and you certainly couldn't buy one that would fit perfectly.  But with some leftover wood, a lot of thought, and half an afternoon's time, I created the platform shown below.  The picture at the bottom left shows all the details, except that assembling requires the platform to be upside down, and trying to flip it in my head didn't work so well.  But I think I covered up all my mistakes and do-overs pretty well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Instruments Gone Crazy

The animated GIF below was taken as the battery in my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee was getting close to fully discharged (see last week's USB post), but only when the key was in the ignition and turned to the off position.  It was like there was a bunch of little gremlins invading my car.  There's no sound here, but it was clickity-clicking like crazy.  I guess that's life with a 17-year-old vehicle! 

Monday, January 11, 2021


The Urban Dictionary contains a lot of useless made-up words, but my son pointed out one that I think I will use quite a bit, "Sheeple".  They define it as "A combination of the words "sheep" and "people" meaning that the person or persons are acting as a group or to only behave based on what is trending." This seems to explain a lot of behavior in our current mess of messes.

Friday, January 8, 2021


It's been a bit busy to post a blog for the last couple of days and our grandson was the best of reasons why.  The rocker got a lot of use and was the perfect way to get this little guy down for a needed nap in his favorite position, face down.  Grammie (i.e. Grandma E) might need a few naps of her own after rocking, playing, feeding, and changing a fair number of diapers.  Grampy (i.e. Grandpa P) also changed a diaper, leading to a good laugh as I managed to put it on backward, not that the baby cared.  I guess my diaper skills, which I haven't used in 40 years, aren't what they used to be, but in my defense, girls are easier to change than boys.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Car Mileages

For both our cars I keep a mileage log on my Google Calendar, updating it on the anniversary of the day we bought it, which in the case of my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was New Years Day, 2012.  It's probably pretty clear from the total miles driven per year that I retired in August of 2018, which eliminated all those trips into the office.  2020 was the lowest total of all, and I will not repeat the obvious reason as to why.  Sigh.

145,272 on 1/1/2021 (2,300 miles driven in 2020)

142,972 on 1/1/2020 (3,098 miles driven in 2019)

139,874 on 1/1/2019 (4,651 miles driven in 2018)

135,223 on 1/1/2018 (7,918 miles driven in 2017)

127,305 on 1/1/2017 (7,274 miles driven in 2016)

120,031 on 1/1/2016 (7,018 miles driven in 2015)

113,013 on 1/1/2015 (8,101 miles driven in 2014)

104,912 on 1/1/2014 (7,742 miles driven in 2013)

97,170 on 1/1/2013 (8,459 miles driven in 2012)

88,711 on 1/1/2012

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

USB Charger Drain

I've had a couple instances of my Jeep's battery being drained after a week or more of inactivity.  The sharp technicians at East David Automotive found that the little USB charger shown below was using 30 milliwatts (mW) all by itself, even though it wasn't charging anything.  Eliminating that reduced the load the car was pulling when turned off from 70 mW to 40 mW, well inside the normal range.  This charger is now stored in the center console and will only be used when actively charging a smartphone.   

I'll still have to use a trickle charger when the Jeep isn't used for several weeks, but it should start OK if left alone for a week or two.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Samsung Washer And Dryer

It's always exciting to get new appliances and we rang in the New Year with a new washer and dryer.  The timing was almost perfect as the old washer, on its very last load, decided to create a mini-flood in the basement which resulted in a not-at-all-appreciated, Sunday afternoon cleanup project.  At least we were not without a washer for a couple weeks and we're thankful that we bought these pre-Christmas as it took a couple weeks for delivery.

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Best of 2020

Over on my Life Experiences blog at the link below, I've posted the list of my best ten experiences of 2020.  While 2020 is a year that will not be remembered kindly, it was still full of amazing things I don't ever want to forget.  The top ten was from a list I kept all year, which ended up having a total of 46 items to sort through and decide the best of the best.