Friday, December 30, 2022

Recipe Cards

For some of our favorite recipes, I condense them down to a 4"x6" index card, like the one shown below, and add one or more images on the reverse side.  Getting a typical recipe's directions stripped down to a few dozen words without losing anything important can take a fair amount of time and imagination, and doesn't work in all cases.  I use these in a quarterly newsletter I write and print copies for ourselves and others.  So far, I've created twenty recipe cards with plans to add several more.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Buffalo Trace Coffee

What a hint of bourbon in your breakfast coffee?

It's a bit of a gimmick, but I guess if you like pretending your morning coffee has a little more kick than usual, what could it hurt?  We're not into flavored coffees, except the occasional Irish coffee, which we make sure has a REAL kick!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

ChromeOS Flex

I had the opportunity recently to take a couple of old Windows laptops and make them into Chromebooks using the free (I love free) ChromeOS Flex.  Using the directions at the link below, you start by writing ChromeOS Flex to a flash drive using the Chromebook Recovery Utility, an extension you add to your Google Chrome browser.  That flash drive is then inserted into the target laptop and booted, and finding how to get the laptop to boot from it was the tricky part.   On an HP, I found that tapping "F2" as the machine powered up worked, but on the Dell it took the "Esc" key.  After getting past that, the rest was easy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Windows Down

It's more than a bit concerning when you find all your car windows down in the morning and you're 100% sure you left them fully up the night before.  The cause was buried deep in our owner's manual and a "feature" I wasn't aware existed, but found with a little Internet sleuthing.  As divulged at the link below, if you hold the door unlock button on the keyless-entry remote for more than three seconds, the Infiniti G37x will start to roll down its windows.  I must have accidentally had my thumb on that button as I entered the house from the garage long enough for the windows to descend and the closing garage door masked the sound.  We're just glad the mystery was solved.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Triangles 2.0 Update

A big shoutout to Dan E who pointed out that there are no arrow keys on mobile devices.  I've updated Triangles to include using 1 and 2 in addition to the left and right arrows, and 9 and 0 in addition to the down and up arrows.  

Triangles 2.0

In April 2020, I posted about a demonstration website I built and I finally got around to adding a number of new features to make it a bit more fun.  Instead of just triangles, it can draw squares, pentagons, hexagons, heptagons, and octagons.  You can spin the drawing forward or reverse, make the shapes more or less convex or concave, draw in color or black and white, and pause or resume the spinning.  The RGB (Red-Green-Blue) of the last color drawn is also displayed.

This demo is best seen on a larger screen.


Friday, December 23, 2022

Once In A Generation

As temperatures sank to -9 F last night and the weather fearmongers over at CNN called it a "once in a generation" storm and Cincinnati's Fox19 labeled it a "historic winter storm", it made me wonder how true that statement is, at least for me and my fellow Daytonians.

The last time it was colder than -9 F in Dayton was all the way back on January 2nd of 2018 when the low was -13 F, so if you're under 5 years old, that might (however very unlikely) hold true for you over the rest of your lifetime.

Since 1955 (I'm giving away my age but too old to care) there have been 19 years when the low temperature for the winter was -10 F or less, including 5 times when the low was -20 F or less.

Yes, it's cold outside, but how much help is all the hype?

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

This is a pretty quick, basic soup recipe, but the addition of gnocchi was the winner for me.  I (yes, I cook too) used Costco rotisserie chicken, sliced the carrots and celery very thin using a mandolin, substituted chicken stock for its broth brethren, and used my own homemade gnocchi.  Having a couple of large containers of soup handy as the temperatures dip below zero is a good idea.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Santa's Reindeer

We're not big fans of overdone outside Christmas decorations, but the Santa display shown below at a nearby neighbor's house is pretty cool.  It's complete with Santa, his sleigh, a pile of presents, and Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen, with Rudolph in the lead, lit up in multiple colors.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Transparent QR Code

I had the need to create a QR Code with a transparent background in order to avoid my background color not quite matching the color of an invitation.  That led me to the QR Code generator at the link below.  If you scan the QR Code in the image below, it will take to you to, a page that lists all the various blogs I write and a couple of demos.  

The dark blue background is part of a Google Slide and I inserted my transparent QR Code on top of it and then took a screenshot.  And as you can see, you can use hearts, among many options, to make the code more interesting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

New Cabinets

This custom, heirloom-quality, Amish-made cabinet/stand, and its identical twin on the other side of the fireplace, are the latest home upgrades.  We started with a basic TV stand, decided on elm wood with a dark, reclaimed wood top, selected the stains, changed the dimensions to fit, and designed the drawer layout including the exact knobs and handles.  We estimate each weighs about 120 pounds and required my son's assistance to get them in the house.  Just don't ask what they cost...

Monday, December 19, 2022

Alexa Voice Remote Pro

The newest iteration of the Fire TV remote adds a few new buttons and it's the "1" and the "2" I've wanted for years.  These can be programmed to launch two apps of your own choosing, in my case YouTube TV and ESPN.   I'll no longer have to use the five-tap, home-right-right-right-enter method to get to YouTube TV.   The other new features can be found at this link.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Braised Short Ribs and Mashed Carrots

Chef Elaine splurged a bit to make these wonderful, fall-off-the-bone Short Ribs.  The link below details all the steps, but the short story is you make toasted breadcrumbs, sear the Short Ribs, make flavored beef stock, and let bake in the oven for at least three hours.  Remove the whole carrots and fork smash them.  This is the type of recipe where you want to stay at home and just take in the aromas all day.


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Fire TV Cube 3rd Gen

The final piece of the wife-inspired desire for one remote control is now in place.  Not only is the third generation of the Fire TV Cube the most powerful with better picture quality, it includes an HDMI Input port which I've cabled to the Sony Blu-Ray player shown below.  The single, small Fire TV remote can now control all the devices (i.e. Fire TV Cube, Vizio TV, and the Sony Blu-Ray), and gone are the days of needing multiple remotes.  I should win a husband-of-the-year award for this one, even if it took almost fifteen years to accomplish.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Stocking Hat

Every time I give blood at the Community Blood Center they offer a gift in appreciation.  Usually, it's a T-shirt which I politely decline because I have a dresser drawer full already.  But yesterday's gift was really nice, the thick knit stocking cap, shown below, which I happily accepted.  I will use it during the coldest of winter jogs and perhaps in the hot tub when it's below zero outside.

Friday, December 9, 2022


Chef Rodney (aka my son-in-law) made an absolutely delicious Picanha, finishing it off with the butane torch seen below for some extra char.  A Picanha, also known as Rump Cap or Sirloin Cap, has wonderful marbling and a thick fat cap on top.  Its uneven thickness provides slices from well-done to rare.  Chef Laurie (aka my daughter) provided all the awesome vegetables, Hasselback potatoes, and lemon cookies.  Altogether, a true feast!

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Mulled Pear Juice

Here's something a little different to warm up on a cold day.  Just simmer clementine (or orange) juice, pear juice, and a little lemon juice with the warming spices of cloves, cardamom pods, and ginger slices for ten minutes, strain, and enjoy.  Cardamom pods are a bit pricy, but you can eliminate them or use another spice.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Killing England

A long drive to North Carolina and back provided the time (10 CDs worth) to listen to Killing England, the story of the American Revolution.  I now realize just how little I knew about that war, like what Benedict Arnold did to become an infamous traitor, how Prussian Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben professionalized the military, and that Benjamin Franklin convinced the French to join the conflict.  The following link takes you to my local Washington-Centerville public library, but you should be able to find it at any library.

Monday, December 5, 2022


As a Daytonian, when I see a sign showing there's a Lowes in a shopping center, I naturally think of tools and two-by-fours.  But in the Carolina's it may well be a grocery store and the one pictured below just south of Chapel Hill, NC was pretty cool.  They have a "Tarheel Deli" and "Outer Banks Seafood" among their North Carolina-themed counters.  And just down the road was the more familiar hardware store.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Upside-Down Turkey

Chef Elaine knocked the Thanksgiving turkey out of the park with her best-ever bird using this upside-down recipe.  It spent Wednesday night in the fridge wrapped up, coated with salt and pepper.  Thursday, the bird was placed breast-side down on top of a loaf of sliced and buttered ciabatta bread and roasted at 425 for 45 minutes.  It got flipped breast-side up, the heat reduced to 350, and went as long as needed to get to an internal temperature of 165.  The remaining details are at the link below.

Word of caution:  Flipping a large, hot turkey is not a simple task.  Ask for help.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Christmas Ale

Years ago when we frequented our local Pub at the Greene, we were introduced to Breckenridge Christmas Ale, in our opinion the best of the many delightful seasonal competitors.  It's also the only beer that would be served with a rim of cinnamon and sugar, the combo that works so well on French toast.  It might sound odd, but that rim pairs perfectly with the stronger, maltier profile of this beer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Wired Computer Keyboard

Proving again that water and keyboards don't play well together, I needed a wired (USB) keyboard and was rather stunned to find only wireless models at the local Walmart.  So off to Amazon I went and found all kinds of keyboards at all sorts of price points.  I settled (happily) for the $12 "manhattan" brand shown below.  

Is it any wonder that computers scare people when they see 104 keys including 12 Function Keys, and all those Ctrl, Alt, and Shift combinations?  It's like you have to learn a second language to use them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

FireTV Clicking Sounds

For every keypress navigating the Amazon FireTV menus, it made a clicking sound.  It always was kind of annoying, but not quite enough to ask myself if there was anything that could be done to stop it.  But when my stepson asked, I jumped on it and found the article at the link below and the setting on the Display & Sounds menu shown below.  Now I bounce around in silent bliss...

Monday, November 28, 2022

Football Trifecta

One of the benefits of having a streaming service like YouTube TV is that it turns your tablets and smartphones into additional screens to watch football, handy when recently the Ohio State (iPad), Duke (big screen), and Valparaiso (smartphone) games were all on at the same time.  The smartphone is being held up by a Thumbs-up Cell Phone Stand, available at the link below, which also makes a great stocking stuffer.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Pantry Pull Vegetable Soup

In Chef Elaine's opinion (which is undoubtedly correct) there is nothing better than hot homemade soup when the outside temps take their yearly dive.  Her vegetable soup starts with sauteeing diced onions and minced garlic in olive oil then adding unsalted chicken stock.  Stock is heartier than broth and using the unsalted variety allows her to control the overall saltiness.  We both prefer to cook without salt and add it at the very end, usually a couple of cranks at the dining room table.  

She adds about half a head of sliced cabbage, diced San Marzano tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.  Then the creativity begins.  Or better said, what do we have hanging around in the fridge or cabinets?  For this version, she added some frozen corn she had shucked over the summer, leftover meatballs, and for the first, but not last time, some frozen homemade pesto.  The pesto gave this soup a wonderfully spicy kick.  

After the soup simmers away for about an hour and twenty minutes, she adds fresh spinach and cooks for another ten minutes.  

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Cincinnati Reds

Did you know that the Cincinnati Reds are one of forty-six defunct teams and have the distinction of having the two lowest officially recognized season-scoring totals?  That in their last season they totaled a  minuscule ten points?


Yes, not runs, points.

We're talking about the 1933-1934 Cincinnati Reds NFL football team.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Ronna And Quetta

It gives the very technical geek weenies (like me) great pleasure to hear the announcement of the next number prefixes.  I started out at Wright State University in the era of kilobytes, which became megabytes, then gigabytes, and now terabytes are common.  The prefixes peta, exa, zetta, and yotta take us all the way up to 10 to the 24th power (septillion), but the new prefixes, ronna and quetta (pronounced with a "kw" sound), take us up the 10 to the 30th power.  Ronto and quecto take us down to 30 zeroes after the decimal point.  The last prefixes added were back in 1991, so it was about time.

The Earth's mass is around 6 ronnagrams and the electron's mass is about 1 rontogram.

How did we live so long without these?

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Bought A Monkey

An older family friend recently told us that he had just bought a monkey.  Having an animal in my retirement years is a big ain't-gonna-happen and a monkey is way down the list in any case.  But he was referring to his most recent motorcycle purchase, the Honda Monkey shown below.  It's called that as people described riders as looking like a monkey on the small minibike.  Add one more thing I'm not doing in retirement.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Markup For Signatures

Markup is a handy iOS (iPad/iPhone) tool that allows you to add shapes, text, and signatures.  The signature feature is convenient if you only have your iPad handy and someone needs your John Hancock asap.  After writing your signature with a fingernail or a soft-tipped pen, send it via a new email from the Share menu below, as the markup is not written back to the original email attachment.

Friday, November 18, 2022


We stumbled upon Smokin' Dave's BBQ in Estes Park, Colorado, located at the Estes Park 18-Hole Golf Course.  The beast below is the Pitmaster, which combines Carolina pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, and cheddar jalapeno sausage on a hoagie roll.  It's only open from April through October, so if your plans call for a winter Colorado vacation, look up one of their other nearby locations at the link below.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Planting Tulips

Tulip bulbs require fairly deep holes and Gardener Elaine wanted 50 bulbs, which, of course, requires 50 holes.  That job was made easier with my electric drill and the 18" inch Roto Auger shown below.  Apply some downward pressure and the auger/drill do the rest.  A few upward/downward strokes after the initial hole is dug will help clear out a lot of the remaining dirt.  If the auger gets stuck, reverse the drill and let it spin out by itself.  I learned the hard way that pulling doesn't work.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Butterfly Bungalow

The cute little cabin shown below was ours for a couple of days last week as we explored the trails at Hocking Hills State Park.  We were smart to pack a couple of gallons of distilled water and a few bags of ice cubes as the well water leaves a lot to be desired.  No Wi-Fi and occasional cellular service made us realize just how much we like the conveniences of home.

The best experience of the trip was having dinner at the Kindred Spirits restaurant located at Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls.  My Sea Scallops in Brown Butter Sauce, Rainbow Carrots, and Wild Rice were truly a five-star experience.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Hocking Hills Lodge

The newly opened Hocking Hills Park Lodge is beautiful and comes with stunning vistas from its back porches.  There are 81 guest rooms, a restaurant, a bar, an outdoor pool, and free high-speed wireless Internet.  All the hiking trails and points of interest (e.g. Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls) are a short drive away.  

Cellular service is spotty at best, so enabling Wi-Fi calling ( would be a good idea.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Over-Under No More

Chef Elaine and I used to play a grocery checkout game called Over-Under.   After we put the groceries on the belt and before the cashier started, one of us would call out how much they thought the final bill would be.  The other would then guess that the final tally would either be more (over) or less (under).  The winner would take pride in their knowledge of grocery prices.  

We no longer play the game.  After too many rounds when "over" was the answer, it just served as a depressing reminder of how the cost of groceries has escalated.  

Friday, November 11, 2022

Griddled Brussels Sprouts

Chef Elaine trimmed and halved a bag of Brussels sprouts.  Her Sous Chef (aka me) put them in a large plastic bag, added olive oil, and perhaps too generous a portion of ground cayenne pepper.  The first batch on the griddle served to gauge how long to the perfect char, which at 375 degrees took eight minutes.  Those were kept those warm in the oven while the Sous Chef grilled some steaks outside and the second batch of Brussels sprouts was griddled.  Add a bottle of great red wine and last Sunday night was a savory success.


Thursday, November 10, 2022

Dry Ice

Dry ice was a fairly common thing back in my childhood, but not so much now.  Some Kansas City steaks were delivered packaged in dry ice and Chef Elaine had some old-time childhood fun putting it in the sink and using the sprayer to launch the fog show seen below as the dry ice instantly freezes the water vapor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


Now that the European Union has passed a law to limit small electronic devices to using only USB-C for charging, it will be interesting to watch over the coming years how that rule plays out.  The EU insists that this will save consumers money by not having to buy as many different cables, more likely having the cable they need, and reduce the number of tons of old cables headed to landfills.  Naysayers contend this will prevent innovation and we're stuck with the limitations of USB-C forever.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2022


Every Fall after they drain the pond at the Fraze Pavillion I seek out coins that people have thrown in.  Last Saturday's take was the $1.28 shown below.  Add another $0.25 on Sunday and a penny on Monday and this year's take is up to $1.54.  Perhaps there are a few more coins to find because although I've scoured the pond several times they can hide pretty well.  

Friday, November 4, 2022

Chef Elaine's Chili

Chef Elaine's chili starts with browning two pounds of ground chuck in a frying pan, adding a chopped onion until it softens.  That gets drained, transferred to a large pot, and brought to a low boil while stirring in a large can of diced tomatoes, a medium can each of Brooks' hot and mild beans, two packets of Brooks' Chili seasoning, 6 ounces of water, and garlic salt and Franks' hot sauce to taste.  Cover and turn the heat down to a simmer for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

This is one of those recipes that tastes even better the day after as the flavors further incorporate together.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Yellow Springs Brewery

Biking and beer go together like peas and carrots and there may not be a better place for both than Yellow Springs.  The Little Miami Scenic Trail runs from Xenia to Bellefontaine and is in the backyard of Yellow Springs Brewery.  After your desired amount of exercise, you can sit outside and enjoy a cold draft (beer, not the wind) and relax. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Eichelberger Pavilion

Shown below is the most recent event space addition at Carillon Park, the Eichelberger Pavilion.  It's a two-story grand ballroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the picturesque Carillon Park grounds.  It can host up to 700 guests with its fairy tale, "Beauty and the Beast" style.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Gem City

One, of several, explanations for Dayton, Ohio being nicknamed "The Gem City" goes back to 1845 when the following appeared in the Cincinnati Chronicle.

“The most indifferent observer will not fail to notice Dayton. The wide streets, kept in excellent order, the noble blocks of stores, filled with choice, and of course, cheap goods, and more than all, the exceeding beauty and neatness of the dwellings, you at once mark with a 'white stone,' in a small bend of the Great Miami River, with canals on the east and south, it may be fairly said that Dayton is the gem of all our interior towns; it possesses wealth, refinement, enterprise and a beautiful country.”

Monday, October 31, 2022

Mark Cuban's Cost Plus Drug Company

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and regular on the TV show Shark Tank, has a potential way to save you money on prescriptions.  Cost Plus charges their negotiated drug cost plus 15%, and small labor and shipping fees.  I checked out our medicine cabinet and there were two that are cheaper, one by a little and the other by a decent difference.  They don't have a large number of drugs available, but doesn't it just feel good to pay less?

Friday, October 28, 2022

Butter Balls

Tucked up in a corner of the dairy section are the Butter Balls shown below.  It might be a good way to help with portion control (I love butter) knowing that each ball takes 50 calories out of your daily budget.  It would also be a fancy way to serve butter at your next party, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  Just look at those cute dimples.

Thursday, October 27, 2022


The Jumilla (who-ME-ah) region of Spain might not be near the top of the most-recognized names in wine, but it's one to look for the next time you're in a well-stocked wine shop.  While there are some that cost big bucks, there's quite a nice selection in that coveted under-$20-a-bottle, which you can see at the link below.  I suggest popping one open at the first sight of snow and letting that warm wine glow combat the blues.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Spider Plant

One of Chef Elaine's other skills is getting plants to grow, both indoors and out.  The spider plant below sits on the north side of the house and loves the indirect sun it affords.  The bunches at the bottom are the plant's way of reproduction, which work nicely outdoors but require the Chef to clip and re-pot to thrive.  

Monday, October 24, 2022

Google Home Router

I just discovered that the Google Home app has some very useful features for my tri-mesh Google Wifi routers.  It automatically runs a speed test every other day and logs those results.  My Spectrum internet connection runs at 335 Mbps, plus or minus a few Mbps.  The image below shows what may be its best feature, being able to individually or as a group, test the speed of all the components between the device and the internet and tell you what the maximum you can achieve is.  The choke point between my FireTV Cube and the Internet is the wireless network speed.  In other devices, like an under-powered Raspberry Pi, the device was the slow spot.

I don't know about other routers, but if you dig around you might be to find similar tests in your setup.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Cherry Marinated Flank Steak

Some of Chef Elaine's recipes date back years and it very much surprised me that I had not blogged on this Cherry Marinated Flank Steak as many times as she's made it.  It is believed to be one of Ann Heller's recipes, the long-time Dayton-area food editor and restaurant critic, who passed away earlier this year. This one deserves the full overnight marinade treatment, happily absorbing the cherries, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and spices.  The rest of the details are included in the second picture below.