Friday, October 29, 2021

French Toast

I rarely eat breakfast, so sometimes I have a favorite, in this case, French Toast, for lunch.  It's the first thing that my mother let me cook myself for breakfast as a kid, I believe mainly because she wanted to sleep in.  Chef Elaine questioned why I didn't top it with maple syrup and the answer is simple, I've always made it this way.  Just like pouring vinegar on steamed spinach, the tastes and habits we developed as children will rule our taste buds for the rest of our lives.  Maple syrup, and loads of butter, belong on pancakes and waffles. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021


While waiting in a typical afternoon's long line at the local dump, I read the list of items that they won't accept and saw the unfamiliar term "TENORM".  While my 280-pound load of scrap wood and ceramic tile was probably OK, I had to know, just to be cautious.  

TENORM stands for "Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials" and occurs when naturally occurring radioactive materials, which are generally safe, are concentrated and present a real threat.  This occurs in a variety of manufacturing processes, often the result of wastes and residuals.  Loads more information at this EPA link.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Flying Backwards

You might have seen this in the news, but it's an interesting lesson on the attention to detail.  Ohio had already produced around 35,000 of the new plates seen below before someone spotted that the Wright Brothers airplane was flying backwards.  Today's planes have their wings in front but their original flyer had them in the back.  Maybe somebody should have called North Carolina...

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

See The Coin

Can you spot the coin lurking on the street below?

For the last couple years I've taken to looking for discarded change as I'm running or walking.  Round shiny things now just seem to leap out at me.  The total so far this year is $2.69 with an all-time haul of $8.70.  That doesn't count the coins I find outside of my exercise, with parking lots being very generous.

Monday, October 25, 2021


The internet is full of simple, and very useful, tools for image editing, but when you need something closer to the power of Photoshop, the free (I love free) PIXLR editor just might be your answer.  In my case, I needed to take an image (see below) that had a square background and just cut out the circular logo.  While it turned out to be easy, it was not at all obvious, so I searched for a video to show me the steps I needed and one on the Zonua YouTube channel was perfect.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Smashed Avocado

The Patty Melt in progress seen below illustrates the simple method of dealing with avocado slices, which are very slippery and mostly slide out the slides of the sandwich.  The secret?  Just mash them.  Yep, how easy is that?  Thank God we watch The Kitchen on the Food Channel as much as we do, or we would still be picking avocado slices off the dinner table.

Thursday, October 21, 2021


I've known the word mesmerized for at least five decades but recently found that the word originated from a real person, Frank Mesmer (1734-1815), a German physician.  Frank was known of his theory for "animal magnetism", the transference of natural energy between all animated and inanimate objects.  Mesmer would treat patients using a variety of techniques, but eventually, his work was debunked, with any help patients received attributed to a "placebo effect".  In other words, Frank "mesmerized" them into feeling better.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Spotted Turtle Trail

Phase one of the project to connect the Beavercreek wetlands, designated the Spotted Turtle Trail, is open.  The picture below was taken at Phillips Park along Dayton-Xenia Road, at roughly the midpoint of this four-mile stretch along the Beaver Creek and Little Beaver Creek rivers.  Future phases will connect the northern fens and wetlands up to Pearl's Fen.  Bring a good pair of waterproof hiking boots.  They don't call them wetlands for nothing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Secure MAC Hard Drive Erase

It was time to get rid of a ten-year-old external hard drive that I used for backups.  To make sure all the data was erased, mainly to protect things like passwords and credit card numbers, I explored the options available to me on my Mac Mini.  The Disk Utility has several levels that can be used to wipe the data, so I elected to use the most secure, a seven-pass erase that writes random data seven times, just like the ultra-paranoid Pentagon would do.  It took over a day to complete, but what the heck, the Mac didn't really have all the much to do anyway.  You can explore options at the link below.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Clown Car

I spotted this Smart car during a walk and had a really good chuckle.  The decal on the back glass says "I stole the clowns car" and the attached wind-up key completes the look.  I really appreciate their sense of self-deprecating humor.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Everything Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs and when I ran across this recipe that featured Everything Bagel Seasoning, I had to give it a try.  I used the fork method of combining the yokes, yogurt, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar, but I recommend a small food processor to get a more pleasant consistency.  But using the suggested pastry bag to pipe the filling into the egg whites wasn't going to happen.  A spoon works fine.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

South Shore Line

We've driven or flown into Chicago on many occasions, but recently decided to take the train instead to avoid their crazy downtown driving.  We first drove five hours to Porter, Indiana, about fourteen miles north of Valparaiso, arriving mid-afternoon on a Friday.  We bought our tickets (yeah, half-price senior discount) on the South Shore Line and waited until the train shown below arrived.  Being an off-peak time, we expected a light crowd and were surprised to find it so packed we couldn't sit together or put our luggage overhead.  After a while, we asked one of the young crowd aboard why so many had on Notre Dame-branded clothing and found out they we all traveling to Chicago to watch Notre Dame play football against Wisconsin.  Wisconsin?  Yep.  The game was being played at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday.  That explained the crowd, as the South Shore Line begins in South Bend.  Fortunately the return train ride on Sunday was more spread out and comfortable.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


I use, a free (I love free) online service to research and catalog my family tree, but there is no way to generate useful reports.  Enter RootsMagic, a cross-platform program that can pull data directly from FamilySearch and produce lots of reports.  The free version of RootsMagic only offers a few reports and those can only be printed, not saved as a PDF to easily share.  But for $29.99, the full unlocked version has everything I need, from the Pedigree Report shown below (of President U.S. Grant) to my favorite, the Kinship List, which tells me for each person what their relationship is to me, such as an aunt, uncle, cousin, or second cousin once removed.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Brandeberry Winery

Brandeberry Winery, located between Enon and Yellow Spring, Ohio, was founded years ago by the late James Brandeberry, the Dean of Engineering and Computer Science when I attended Wright State University in the middle-to-late 1970s.  It's a beautiful country setting with both indoor and outdoor seating and a selection of sweet and dry, red and white wines, with the sweet blackberry wine my favorite.  They also have a nice sense of humor, as the sign below can attest to.  

It's unlikely you will ever just happen to run across the winery, as it's out on a country road between nowheres, so punch "5118 W. Jackson Road, Enon, Ohio" into your favorite mobile maps app before venturing out.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Lawn Mushrooms

We see the occasional mushroom growing in our front yard, usually after a rainy stretch of weather, but last week we saw several huge bunches suddenly appear around our silver maple tree.  I consulted the link below for suggestions on how to get rid of them and tried the soapy suds idea, but that appeared to have the opposite effect, doubling in size by the next day.  But the information at the link said that mushrooms are "feeding on decaying organic matter", which in our case we believe to be the tree roots.  We've had on our list to have that tree taken down as our tree guy said it was dying, but this mushroom episode has moved that to-do item to the top of the list.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Creamy Gnocchi with Swiss Chard and Apples

The creaminess of this dish comes from soft garlic herb Boursin cheese and heavy cream while the Pink Lady apple lends a sweetness that's perfect.  Onion and swiss chard round out the major ingredients that turn your gnocchi into a unique side that's sure to please.  Leftovers?  Not a chance.

Sweet Arrow Reserve

Sweet Arrow Reserve is 263 acres of dirt trails, woodlands and meadows that was acquired from the Dille family, a portion of their Sweet Arrow Farm, hence the name honors their history.  Seven trails wind through the park, marked with colorful arrows, and is a combination of flat to hilly, with a few short sections requiring some real effort.  I suggest printing off a copy of the park map from the link below to assist in navigation.  The park entrance is located on Little Sugarcreek Road about a 1/4 mile south of Swigart Road in the northwest corner of Sugarcreek Township.

Big shout out to our friend Dan for alerting us this unknown gem!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021


I bought a new Amazon Echo Dot for the basement workout area and connected it to a soundbar I no longer needed, an inexpensive solution that delivers great sound.  Not to confuse the other two Echo devices in the basement, I choose the newest option, "Ziggy", as its name.  And to remember that, I added a little framed cutout of the famous cartoon character with the same name, as shown below.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Cooper's Hawk Wine Club

When I stopped last week at Cooper's Hawk to pick up our monthly wine club bottles, I was greeted with the stack of boxes shown (partially) below, each of which held six bottles of their Anniversary Blend.   I'm supposing their wine club memberships are doing quite well from the look of things, and October is a great month to signup, as these bottles are 1.5 liters each, double the amount of the other eleven month's 750 milliliters.  More details on the wine club (we get the 2/month option) at the link below.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Golf Tees

When this advertisement hit my inbox, I did a double-take.  In what world would you advertise golf tees as "unisex" or even "adult"?  While there are a number of different designs of golf tees made in many shapes, sizes, and colors, I've never heard that these are men's tees and those are women's tees, except golf course tee boxes, a practice that was largely abandoned years ago.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Sheet Pan Chicken with Mozzarella, Pesto, and Broccoli

Chef Elaine (again) knocks it out of the park with a delicious and easy sheet pan recipe that featured her handmade pesto layered on filleted and pounded chicken breasts and topped with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  The surprise star of this show was the broccoli.  Just a little oil, salt, and pepper then the 425-degree oven gave it a little char.  Best broccoli I've ever had!