Thursday, June 20, 2024

Starbucks Name

While I've been a fan of Starbucks coffee for many years, I recently realized I didn't know if someone just made the word up or if there was a story behind it.  A story it is.  Terry Heckler, a business partner of theirs, thought the name should begin with the strong "st" sound and they began compiling a list of words and initially chose "Starbo", a western mining town they saw on an old map.  "Starbo" kicked in memory of Herman Melville's classic book "Moby Dick" and the chief mate's name, "Starbuck".  The founders thought "Starbucks" relayed a sense of adventure, their Northwest origins, and a nautical theme.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-did-starbucks-get-its-name-the-real-story-might-surprise-you



Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sunglass Readers

I had LASIK eye surgery in my early forties, trading in my nearsightedness for perfect farsightedness, and in that process needed readers (aka cheaters) to see up close.  That was a great choice as it freed me from using contact lenses while running, skiing, golfing, etc., or having my glasses fog up when entering or exiting a building.  So I keep readers everywhere from the car to my home office to my nightstand.  But only last week did I think that perhaps they made sunglass readers so I could read outside on a sunny day.  Now of course they do and for $11 at the link below, I have two pairs of sunglass readers including carrying cases and a cleaning cloth.  




Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Google App Script

Warning, serious techie $#!& below!

Google App Script is a free (I love free) computer language that allows you to automate pretty much anything within the Google sphere of products, for example, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc.  I recently set up a new Gmail account as the destination mailbox for reports that come in as compressed XML attachments.  Daily an App Script will run that processes all the emails in that inbox, decompresses the attachments in ZIP or GZ format, and them to Google Drive.  Subsequent scripts will parse that data and create CSV files which will be uploaded to a Google BigQuery database for querying and reporting.  

The code for reading the emails and saving the files is at the link below.  




Monday, June 17, 2024

Tire Inflation Station

I've been a member of Costco for many years but it wasn't until recently that I noticed this free (I love free) tire inflation station, mainly because I rarely park on that side of the parking lot. It uses nitrogen instead of regular air because when you buy tires at Costco they inflate them with nitrogen.  A discussion of the benefits of nitrogen inflation is included at the link below, and while it might not be worth the cost if you would pay for it, when the cost is zero to you it's worth the benefits.




Friday, June 14, 2024

Skyline Chili Dogs

Perhaps there is not a more satisfying lunch than the three Skyline Chili Dogs shown below.  Onions are a must, no mustard for this guy, and I add a generous amount of their red tabasco, jalapeƱo, and cayenne-based hot sauce.  It's an over 1,000-calorie splurge, not counting the drink, but so worth it every few months.




Thursday, June 13, 2024

Watermelon Mule

I have loved the taste of watermelon ever since my days scooping ice cream at Sherer's Ice Cream over fifty years ago.  He made a watermelon sherbet that was fabulous.  I tried to recreate the magic in adult form using the REAL watermelon puree shown at right below that I purchased at Amazon.  I followed the recipe at the link below for a Watermelon Mule, then added a bit more puree to get the taste I wanted.  It was good and refreshing the ginger beer made it sweeter than I was looking for, so the next go-round will use Diet 7-up instead to reign in the sweetness.  




Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Plant Cages

Gone are the old light-mesh, silver cages that protect new plants from bunny rabbits.  As shown below, I made new cages out of heavier fencer wire in two sizes.  I bought 4-foot high, 5-foot wide fencer wire at Home Deport, and first cut it horizontally to make a pair of 2-foot high sections.  I cut the width to 2 1/2 feet for the smaller cages, and for the larger cages, I cut the width to 4 feet and discarded the remaining mesh.  In all cases, I made sure I left 1/2-inch wires at one end.  I made a circle, threaded the 1/2-inch wires through the other end, and used needle-nosed pliers to twist and crimp the wires together.  Miraculously, no blood was shed in the making of these cages.



Tuesday, June 11, 2024

SVG

An SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is a vector-based image format and its biggest feature is that you can increase its size without it getting fuzzier, unlike what happens with raster-graphics JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) or PNG (Portable Network Graphics) file.  That's great for website development where images could be very small for smartphones and very large for big 4K monitors.

Recently I was trying to figure out why some emails I received from a local non-profit looked odd.  After digging into the underlying code of one of those messages using Gmail's "Show original" feature, I determined that the oddness stemmed from missing images and all those images were SVGs.  A little Internet search taught me that Gmail does not support SVGs.  Case closed.

I love using SVGs for their scalability and frequently use FreeSVG to find images.  You can explore them at the link below.





Monday, June 10, 2024

Software Decision

Many years ago a team was brought together to select a piece of software to improve the effectiveness of the Computer Operations group.  After a lot of exploration, they boiled it down to two choices, either a higher-end, feature-rich product or a lesser-end, basic-feature product.  Of course, the higher-end choice was more expensive.  The team was trying hard to select the right product and spend the company's money wisely.  When I heard about this, I told the person I knew which one they would ultimately pick.  It had nothing to do with either piece of software, but an understanding of market forces and human nature.

Ultimately, the team recommended the higher-end product, as I had predicted.  The team tried hard to
figure out the price/feature angle, but I knew that market forces had already balanced them.  There was no way to find a better product for the price.  They were the same.  More money, more features, less money, less features.  The market had already done that.  Then when faced with the choice between two equal options, human nature entered to select the higher-end product.  Human nature said (1) it's really not our money and (2) the risk of the lesser-end product not really being capable enough to handle all needs, now and in the future.  The downside risk led to making the higher-end decision.  

It was a fine decision, just very predictable.  



Friday, June 7, 2024

Picanha

I had the delicious Picanha at Fernando’s Mexican & Brazilian Cuisine in the Broad Ripple neighborhood in Indianapolis, IN.  It uses a particular cut of beef that comes from the top of the cow's rump, also known as a top sirloin cap.  That fat cap is the secret to this steak's amazing flavor.  A little salt, some Brazilian steak seasoning blend, and time on the grill or under a broiler is all that's needed.  You can check out some of the other dishes at Fernando’s at the link below.




Thursday, June 6, 2024

Cup Cap

There are several different designs for the caps that go on top of disposable cups, but the one shown below is the best I've encountered.  It's made from a sturdier plastic than most, but what I really like is the larger cut-out that you can use either to drink from or insert a straw into.  There's no tab to pull or cut-out "+" to try to push a straw through.  This designer had their head on straight!



Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Three Decisions

Decisions often get whittled down to two choices and at that point some folks need help.  For example, I've heard many times in a restaurant something like "I can't decide between the chicken and the fish" and watched the mental gyrations continue for many minutes, usually ending with the person asking the waiter to decide.  This is what I call a "good-good" decision.  Regardless of which option you choose, the outcome is good.  So why go through the anguish?  Just pick one and put the menu down.  An example from many years ago was someone's choice between attending Ohio University or Miami University (Oxford).  Before getting involved to "help", I realized this was a "good-good" decision, and getting involved to help select "the right one" was pointless.  We let the young lad make his own decision and, of course, it worked out.  How couldn't it?

The really difficult decision is the "bad-bad" where both options are bad.  You have to select one eventually, but each time you get close to deciding, you see that downside and it throws you right back to indecisiveness.  The best example of this is deciding between getting a divorce or trying to fix a miserable marriage, particularly when there are young children involved.  Take your time, but realize that after a while, you will have to decide a path and live with the consequences.  

The third type of decision is the "good-bad".  If you have a problem with this one, seek therapy.



Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Rap Names

I heard years ago that you can create a rap name (e.g. Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg) for yourself by combining the first letter of your first name with the first syllable of your last name.  That works better for some people than others and in reviewing the distribution list of this blog, some sounded pretty good.  J-Nic, B-Hog, R-Pet, and K-Boy all have a nice ring to them.

And then there's my rap name ... P-Moor.  Not going to happen...



Monday, June 3, 2024

Single Key

Long ago I replaced all four exterior locks on our house with Kwikset models that allow me to re-key each lock to use a common key.  So my key ring is minimal with only one house key and I always have the right one since there is only one.  But with those conveniences, there are a few other situations where these locks provide additional value.

You could give a housekeeper a unique key and re-key one lock they can open when they need access, re-keying it back after they finish.  If your house keys are stolen, you can quickly change all the locks in a matter of minutes without waiting for and paying a locksmith.  It’s also a great selling feature, providing new owners a no-cost option to know the old keys can no longer be used.




Friday, May 31, 2024

Captain's Breakfast

I didn't expect to find a killer breakfast menu at Reefer's Social Club along the main drag in Clearwater Beach, FL, so that was a nice surprise.  My choice was the Captain's Breakfast shown below, a Belgium waffle, crispy bacon, Cheddar cheese, two eggs (over easy), scallions, hash browns, and maple syrup.  The waffle was the perfect size, enough to please but not enough to stuff.  




Thursday, May 30, 2024

Clearwater Cooler

Watermelon is one of the hardest flavors to get right.  I love watermelon sherbet for its sweetness and strong flavor, but most other watermelon-flavored food and drinks just don't tickle my taste buds.  The Clearwater Cooler shown below from Reefers Social Club in Clearwater Beach, FL is a rare combination that works.  A mix of vodka, watermelon puree, agave, and soda water, it's just the right mix and a refreshing day drinker.




Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge spans Lower Tampa Bay and includes the ramp seen below in the distance.  I'm not fond of heights but this one didn't trigger that I'm-gonna-die feeling I get sometimes, probably because it's perfectly straight and fences block the view of how high it's above the water.  I'm really glad I didn't know that this is the second version of this bridge, the first one collapsed in 1980 when a storm-blinded freighter collided with a support column resulting in 35 deaths as six cars, a truck, and a Greyhound bus fell 150 feet into the water.  You can read more about the incident at the link below.




Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Beach Proposal

For some people just getting down on one knee and popping the question just isn't good enough.  This guy hired a service to secure a "MARRY ME" sign in the sand at Clearwater Beach, FL.  They scrupled the sand, planted some flowers, and even lit up the sign with some unseen power source.  I'm guessing they lured the soon-bride-to-be with a walk on the beach, passed the sign, turned her around, then dropped and popped.  We could have waited around to see how it really played out, but our thirst got the best of us.



Monday, May 27, 2024

PVC Chairs

The chairs shown below are from our condo in Clearwater Beach, FL.  The frame is made from PVC pipes, making it lightweight, very strong, and impervious to the constant salt air.   It includes a rail to put your feet on as these are at least a foot taller than the average chair, allowing you to see over the railing at the beach instead of looking through its rails.  Simply brilliant!



Friday, May 24, 2024

Arepas

The stars of the meal shown below are the arepas, the small, round things in the basket that look like English muffins.  They are a mixture of precooked cornmeal, salt, and water, made into balls of dough, flattened to about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick, then baked or grilled.  A serrated knife is used to slice them deep enough to form a pocket and then stuffed with any combination of ingredients you desire.  I can't wait to try this at home.




Thursday, May 23, 2024

Basil’s Root Beer New Fashion

Sometimes I just try things because the ingredients can't possibly work together as was the case with ordering a Basil’s Root Beer New Fashion at The Salty Crab Bar & Grill North Beach in Clearwater Beach, FL.  It combines Basil Hayden Bourbon with root beer and a dash of bitters and after the first one, I was hooked.  I need to work on getting the proportions figured out and try a few different root beers, and by golly do it even if it takes all summer!

https://saltycrabnorthbeach.com



Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Max Brightness

When the clerk at Meijer uses their handheld scanner on the MPerks barcode on my Pixel 7 it typically takes four or five attempts before it's successful and sometimes they have to scan it using the stationary scanner, which typically works the first time.  I now know why, courtesy of the Frontier Airlines app that's scanned when I board their planes.

As shown below, the Frontier app has an "Allow boarding pass max brightness" option that does exactly that.  I thought that probably was to improve their scanning accuracy, so the next time I went to Meijer I manually cranked up the brightness before having them scan my MPerks barcode.  Bingo, worked the first time!  Case closed.



Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Three Dog Night

The rock band Three Dog Night was formed in 1967 by vocalists Chuck Negron, Cory Wells, and Danny Hutton and would have a string of hits including Shambala, Eli's Coming, Joy to the World, and An Old Fashioned Love Song.  The band still tours but only Danny of the original trio is still performing with the group.

If you're not aware of how the group got its strange name, it comes from Aboriginal Australians.  On cold nights they would sleep with a dingo (a wild dog) to stay warm.  On colder nights they slept with two dogs and on a really freezing night, it was a "three dog night".




Monday, May 20, 2024

Empathy

Empathy is sometimes a hard concept to use in real life, so I offer one experience from my working days to demonstrate.

An Information Technology (IT) person is asked for help on a user's PC and says the seemingly innocent phrase "It's easy."  But if you look at the person's face on the receiving end, it's pretty clear the message received is "I must be stupid as I've been trying for ten minutes to figure this out."  It's surely not the intended message, but you won't see it if you're not looking for a reaction.

I learned to use the phrase "It's not hard, but it's not obvious" when assisting someone.  "Not obvious" calms the person's nerves.  They're not dumb, the designer of the interface hid this feature under layers of menus with not-so-helpful titles.  I've literally seen people's shoulders relax after I've said this.  I use "It's not hard" just to avoid using the word "easy", assuring them that they can do it.



Friday, May 17, 2024

Raw Honey

We've belonged to the Hawkes Wine Club ever since we signed up back in 2010.  We started that day with a 10:00 am private wine tasting at Hanna in Santa Rosa, CA, and asked for recommendations for other awesome Cabernet Sauvignons.   Hawkes was their top choice and only a few miles from Hanna.  We did a wine tasting at Hawkes and left a member of their wine club.  We get four shipments of three bottles per year and is one of our go-to wines for our "Fine Wine Sunday" dinners.

A recent wine shipment included the jar of Hawkes Farm honey shown below spread on a toasted English muffin.  It wasn't until I read the accompanying letter that I realized it was included and I had to dig the box out of the garbage can to find it.  It's raw, which means that it hasn't been heated, and I think it makes the most delicious honey.  While raw honey crystallizes over time and might look strange, just heat it up in a microwave if that's bothersome.  




Thursday, May 16, 2024

Household Chemical Drop-Off

We ran across this household chemical drop-off at North Park in Pittsburgh while out walking for a couple of miles.  What you can't see is the line of a few hundred cars waiting their turn in line.  Participants must register in advance, and pay a $20 fee that covers up to 10 gallons/50 pounds of automotive fluids, household cleaners, pesticides, paints, etc. per vehicle.  Only three drop-offs are scheduled for Allegheny County this year, each lasting only 4 hours.

We're spoiled.  Our Montgomery County Solid Waste District accepts these household chemicals and much more every Tuesday from March through October from 1-7 pm and every first Tuesday from November through February also from 1-7 pm.  There are no limits that I'm aware of and best of all, it's free (I love free).  More information can be found at the link below.




Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Ice Spray Wax

Gone are the days of rubbing paste wax on our cars and then making a second pass to buff it out.  The Ice Spray Wax seen below is sprayed on and immediately wiped off.  The product states that it's safe to apply in extremely hot or cold temperatures, even in direct sunlight, but the old-timer in me still likes a warm, cloudy day.

Big shout-out to my brother-in-law Al for this time and effort-saving tip.




Tuesday, May 14, 2024

8675309

If you don't get the joke below you were not listening to rock and rock in the 1980s.  I will admit I read it about three times before it clicked and I burst out in laughter.  If you need a clue, the YouTube video at the link below will give you all the information needed.




Monday, May 13, 2024

Kettering Police Blotter

Our home city of Kettering, Ohio publishes a weekly summary of all the police activity that week.  Most of their time is spent on traffic stops, serving warrants, drug and alcohol violations, thefts, fighting, and domestic violence.  It's usually around four to five pages long and is an interesting view into a demanding job.  I don't know if other communities publish blotters, but you can see Ketterings at the link below.




Friday, May 10, 2024

Goldbelly

Thanks to a gift certificate from my daughter and her husband, we treated ourselves to the Beef Wellington seen below.  It's from Goldbelly, a service that delivers high-end meats, seafood, sandwiches, pizza, BBQ, and desserts in insulated boxes packed with dry ice.  The fresh carrots were Gourmet Chef Elaine's creation, topped with a little fresh dill to make it pop.  You can see Goldbelly's entire selection at the link below.




Thursday, May 9, 2024

Moeller Brew Barn

When the weather's fine, Gourmet Chef Elaine and I like to sit outside and sip a beer (or two).  A few weeks ago we tried Moeller Brew Barn for the first time, the one that's located across from the Dayton Dragons stadium on Monument Avenue in Downtown Dayton.  It's a very large facility and the outdoor seating included a nice view of the baseball diamond.  While this was a beer-only event for us, the food coming out of the kitchen looked pretty phenomenal.  The beer selection was very nice and we'll have to try out one of their $5/pint Happy Hours.




Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Flagpole

We replaced our 6-foot flagpole with the 7-foot upgrade shown below, although an 8-footer would have helped move the flag farther away from the house and keep the flag from getting frayed as it struck the gutter in higher winds.  The pole was shipped as a series of six, 16-inch mini-poles that were screwed together.  They advertise this as a "tangle-free flag", which after a few days has held up to that promise.





Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Real Estate Tax Breakout

I was curious about where our real estate tax money goes so I built the chart below using Google Sheets to get a good visual.  Almost two-thirds of that goes to Kettering Schools, about twenty-five percent goes to the city and county governments, and the remaining nine percent helps support Sinclair, regional libraries, and Metroparks.  Montgomery County homeowners can check out their tax bill at the link below.  Just enter your address (or anyone else's if you want to be nosy), click search, and peruse the available information.





Monday, May 6, 2024

Private Mortgage Insurance

Over the last few years, the cost of buying a house has skyrocketed.  One silver lining to this sharp increase is that more existing homeowners paying for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) are eligible to have it canceled, translating into one, two, or more, hundred dollars of savings each month.   PMI should be automatically removed when your LTV (Loan-To-Value) ratio drops to 78%.  Still, you depend on your loan's servicing company to keep that calculation current, which is not in their best interests.  So it's best to check your monthly mortgage statement for your remaining loan balance and online estimates of your house's value (e.g. Zillow) and see if you're down to 80%, the point where you can request PMI cancellation, which will likely require a formal appraisal, or way below 80% which should be a no-brainer (emphasis on "should").



Friday, May 3, 2024

Banana Muffins

Grandma (aka Gourmet Chef Elaine) baked the banana muffins shown below for our grandson for a recent trip down to North Carolina.  It's the usual combination of flour, baking soda, cinnamon, butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, plain yogurt, and mashed bananas.  See the details in the recipe at the link below.  The real special treat was the inclusion of mini chocolate chip morsels.  That was the big hit.  

After devouring six muffins over the week, our honest grandson said, "Grandma, next time you can leave out the bananas."  




Thursday, May 2, 2024

Mimosa With Blueberries

A staple of "a little something with breakfast", a mimosa starts with an equal amount of orange juice and sparkling wine, but there are lots of ways to turn it into an inspired drinking experience.  Select a very good, but not as expensive, alternative to French champagne such as a Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco, with Freixenet being our go-to.  While difficult to find in our neck of the woods, fresh-squeezed OJ is leagues ahead of anything else.  As shown below, adding some blueberries or other small fruits adds a pleasing visual visually.  Finally, a little Triple Sec can add a nice complimentary orange flavor. 




Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Microwave Reheat Button

The chicken enchilada shown below is remarkable in that it has been reheated to perfection in our microwave without the cheesy goodness becoming a sloppy, runny mess.  That's because our microwave has a REHEAT button that goes low and slow.  It senses when the food begins steaming and starts its final countdown.  The food must be covered (e.g. wax paper) and not require any handling (e.g. stirring).

The REHEAT button is pressed once for a plate of leftovers, twice for pasta, three times for 1/2-to-1-cup of liquid, and four times for 1-to-2-cups.  Yeah, I'm sure I'll remember all of those.

There are several other buttons on our microwave I've never used.  Perhaps it's time to read the manual...



Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Scenic View Window Cleaning

As we slowly, and ever so graciously, get a little older and hopefully wiser, we hired Alan Brown, owner of Scenic View Window Cleaning, to get our outside windows squeaky clean.  Sixteen screens had to come out first (we do love fresh air), cleaned, and one broken one repaired.  Gourmet Chef Elaine cleaned the insides of the windows, so for the first time ever, both sides of the windows and screens were cleaned simultaneously.  Bring on more fresh air!




Monday, April 29, 2024

WTFNotebooks

If you're looking for a unique and funny gift, a notebook from WTFNotebooks is worth considering.  The idea is they can take the notebook to a meeting or just have it on their desk and the text on the cover will elicit a response.  In addition to the one shown below (my personal fav), other ones I like are "Brilliant ideas I had while drinking wine", "Shit I have to write down because I’m old", and "Passwords, logins and other stuff I keep forgetting." 




Friday, April 26, 2024

Merritt's

Merritt's is located in Chapel Hill, NC, and is famous for their Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwiches.  As you can see in the picture below, they have four sizes of BLTs, and even the "Baby BLT" is large enough for most appetites and I have to work to finish my "Single BLT".  Their menu is at the link below and includes a picture of their "Triple BLT", a stack that would feed most families. 




Thursday, April 25, 2024

Biggee-Sized Margarita

The biggee-sized margarita shown below comes in a 64-ounce pitcher complete with an extra-long straw.  While it looks formidable, it's made with three shots of Don Julio tequila, two shots of Triple Sec, a single shot of sweet and sour mix, and a whole lot of ice.  It has dual purposes.  First, it's very low-carb due to the minimal mix used, and second, you can sip on this for an hour or more without overdoing the booziness.  



Wednesday, April 24, 2024

SSLTEST

The SSLTEST utility offered by SSL Labs delves deep into the various security defenses of a website, listing (sorry for the techie talk) which varieties of encryption protocols it supports, which cipher suites can be used, and whether it's vulnerable to known attacks such as POODLE and ROBOT.  

What I like about this test site the most is that it grades the website with the familiar grading system as shown below.  Getting an A+ rating is very uncommon and while it would appear to be the best, that is somewhat arguable.  For example, the A+ website below only supports TLS 1.2 and leaves out supporting TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1, both of which have known vulnerabilities.  That begs the question, is it better to support only newer protocols and have some number of users/systems unable to connect to your website or make those people upgrade before they can connect.  If you're Amazon, you accept your "B" rating to allow as many customers to connect as possible.

You can try SSLTEST using the link below.




Tuesday, April 23, 2024

More AI Chatbots

ChatGPT and Gemini may get more press, but they are far from the only free (I love free) AI chatbots you can use.  You.com has a useful "You may also want to ask" feature and includes a link to where it found its information.  You.com and Claude.ai both allow you to upload a file and make a request like "show me the text in the attachment", but uploading files is a paid feature in perplexity.ai.  Links to these are below.

The ".ai" suffix was not created for Artificial Intelligence but is the top-level domain assigned in 1985 for the Caribbean island of Anguilla, which now makes tens of millions of dollars each year by assigning web addresses with that suffix.  That's some effortless money!


Monday, April 22, 2024

Ohio River Ownership

Once upon a time, the Ohio River was 100% owned by the vast British "Colony of Virginia", which then spanned from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River.  When West Virginia separated from Confederate Virginia in 1863 to side with the Northern States, the portion of the Ohio River forming WV's western border was given to them.  Congress later passed a law that defined the river's ownership to the states to its east and south, namely West Virginia and Kentucky.  So at this point, Ohio did not own any part of the Ohio River.

The U.S. Supreme Court later held that the river was owned by the states that border it and split by the low-water mark of 1793, but left it to the states to draw the final border.  Finally in 1981, after years of litigation, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky reached an agreement.  If you want to see how that boundary shifts, use Google Maps, search for "Ohio", and zoom in on the river.



Friday, April 19, 2024

Lamb Chops With Rosemary Gravy

Chef Elaine has officially been promoted (by me) to the position of Gourmet Chef after delivering yet another outstanding dinner, this one featuring lamb chops smothered in rosemary gravy, as the drool-worthy picture below clearly demonstrates.  The lamb chops were marinated in extra virgin olive oil, finely minced garlic cloves, finely chopped rosemary leaves, salt, and pepper, then seared in a cast iron skillet.  The gravy is a simple but very flavorful combination of beef stock, flour, and chopped rosemary leaves which was simmered for a few minutes.




Thursday, April 18, 2024

GeoBlue

Our Medicare advisor sent a helpful email with details about buying medical insurance through GeoBlue when traveling internationally.  An application is completed online with no medical questions and an instant policy issue.  Coverage is available for one-time trips of almost any duration and there is an option for a year-long policy.  As you can see below, the price is pretty reasonable for the piece of mind.




Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Better Driveway

While the old Jeep was fine parked out on the street, now that we have two nice cars we decided to extend our driveway to the left and since it really needed it, replace the driveway and walkway to the house.  Just so happened that as we were considering this, we noticed a similar project going on a few blocks away and stopped to get a business card.  We received and accepted an estimate for about $10 per square foot and Mike O'Shell and his team tore up the old concrete on day one, poured and manicured it on day two, and removed the framing and cut control joints on day three.  As you can see in the before and after pictures below, they did a great job.





Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Free Car Washes

One of the benefits of buying our 2018 Infiniti QX60 from Evans Infiniti is their free weekly car washes, available on Saturdays until 2:00 pm.  It's just an exterior wash and that's fine most of the time, but it won't fully replace the need for the occasional trip to Soft Touch Car Wash for a thorough job.  But while I'm waiting, I get to enjoy a fresh-brewed Americano coffee, and if they're still available, a Bill's donut.  I think I'll be keeping our new wheels nice and clean...




Monday, April 15, 2024

Killing The Mob

Chef Elaine and I finished the Killing The Mob audiobook on our last trip to North Carolina and like all the other O'Reilly books it was an interesting trip back in time.  It starts with the 1930s and the taking down of bank robbers such as John Dillinger and Bonnie & Clyde and ends with the internal battles of the Mafia's "Five Families", the reign of J. Edgar Hoover, and the murders of John and Bobby Kennedy.  The book gets a bit gory with the killing styles of the Mafia, so be forewarned.




Friday, April 12, 2024

Roland's Seafood Grill

The fish sandwich, french fries, and healthy amount of Heinz ketchup came from Roland's, a restaurant in the Strip District in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  What was particularly exciting was that Chef Elaine and I split a single fish sandwich platter and even then we each received an entire plateful.  While there was a $3 upcharge for splitting the plate, each one ended up costing just $9.50, a real deal in these times of skyrocketing restaurant prices.