Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Speed Bumps

The speed bumps pictured below are one of three sets that have been installed in the back of the Town and Country Shopping Center in Kettering, Ohio.  They look fairly innocent, but unless you go over them at 1-2 mph, you (and your car) are in for quite a pop.  Unfortunately, I see this as another sign of our neighborhood's slow decay which will eventually drive us to find a better crowd.

As a side story, the oddest speed bumps I've ever encountered were at a McDonald's parking lot in Dubois, PA ... over forty years ago.  I guess those country boys get lead-footed aching for a Big Mac...



Monday, February 26, 2024

Faucet Repair

Our bathroom faucet had a tiny drip and with a pair of channel locks, a screwdriver, and the YouTube video below, I was able to pry out, using considerable force, the old Moen 1224 cartridges and replace them with new parts.  It then took a friend with a lot more knowledge than I to figure out how to get the handles back on.  But the kicker was after that work, only a trickle of water was coming out.  Again my more knowledgeable friend deduced that the problem was a clogged aerator, easily removed, cleaned, and reinstalled.

Why do some 10-minute projects turn into an afternoon of frustration and learning experience?  






Friday, February 23, 2024

The Jucy Lucy

The towering mound of a burger you see below is a Jucy Lucy (also called Juicy Lucy). It starts with two thin hamburger patties and a slice of American cheese that's folded over into four squares and placed on the bottom pattie.  The other pattie is layered on top and the slides of the two patties are pinched together to prevent cheese leakage.  After cooking for 2-3 minutes, the burger is flipped and a toothpick is used to poke a hole or two into the cheese to release some steam.  The finished burger needs to rest for a few minutes as the cheese will be scorching hot.  You can read about the onions, pickles, etc. at the link below.




Thursday, February 22, 2024

Dave Nolin Wetland Preserve

The newest park along the Beaver Creek is the Dave Nolin Wetland Reserve pictured below.  It features an almost mile-long boardwalk made of composite TimberTech decking that loops through its 58 acres of trees, brush, plants, and marshy wetlands.  With the recent completion of phase 2 of the Spotted Turtle Trail, you can make a 2-mile hike south and connect to Dane Mutter Prairie, Beaver Creek Wetland Reserve, and Phillips Park, with the trail ending at Rotary Park.  As pretty as this was on a sunny winter's day, I can't wait to visit again in the spring or early summer when nature will be at its best.

https://beavercreekwetlands.org/location/dave-nolin-wetland-reserve


 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

What 3 Words

What 3 Words is a website and mobile app that assigns a three-word combination to every three-meter square on the planet (about 57 trillion of them), which is demonstrated in the screenshot below I took in our local Meijer parking lot.  Take a few steps in any direction and the "hulk.epic.tender" will change to a completely new phrase.  

A somewhat obvious use of this is in 9-1-1 calls.  Supplying emergency responders with a precise location helps deliver aid more quickly, as I found out about in the February 2024 City of Kettering newsletter.  This would greatly help if you are injured during a hike on a long trail or in a similar situation where a conventional address is only partially helpful.

Another application is global and addresses the lack of addressing for billions of people on Earth.  In the fascinating five-minute TED talk at the link below, Chris Sheldrick explains how he and his team came up with this idea and how three African nations now use What 3 Words to give their people an address.




Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Cruise Mapper

The Cruise Mapper website displays the location and routes of 1,536 cruise ships from about four dozen different cruise lines.  The statistics available for each ship include the number of passengers the ship holds, the passengers-to-space ratio, the number of decks, and the number of cabins.  This is a great website to explore the vast number of worldwide cruise options.

If you click the link below you will see where in the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea Chef Elaine and I are currently positioned during our vacation this week, or at ports of call in the Bahamas, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman Island.  Retirement at its best!




Monday, February 19, 2024

Reset The SMC

A couple of weeks ago I noticed my Mac Mini was hot to the touch and its fan was not whirling to cool it down.  I poked around and couldn't find a likely cause, so I slept on it, only to find it dead the next morning, albeit still rather warm.  I unplugged it to get it to cool down and after it was room temperature, plugged it back in, and to my surprise (and relief) it booted up just fine.  I did some poking around the Internet and found out that Macs have a System Management Controller (SMC) that's in charge of things like the battery, temperature control, the fan, etc.  One way to reset the SMC on a Mac Mini is to unplug it for 15 seconds, which I more than did while I waited for it to cool.  Sometimes is just better to be lucky than good.




Friday, February 16, 2024

The Tony B.

The Tony B., which I had at Walnut Grove Country Club, is so named due to its inspiration, Chef Anthony Bourdain.  Thin sliced Italian mortadella, fried and covered in melted provolone, with mayo and Dijon mustard; served on a butter-grilled pretzel bun.  I munched down the first half before I realized I needed to snap a picture of this to share.  And the onion rings in the foreground were as yummy as they look.




Thursday, February 15, 2024

Party Yard

I'm not a fan of flavored whiskeys except the Squirrel's Stash, which I make several times a year.  When I saw the Party Yard, a 40-pack of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, at our local Dot's market, it just about gave me a headache.  But I know some people love them and there must be a market for this biggie-sized package.  And they have a catchy slogan ... "Burns like hell, tastes like heaven."




Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Petard

Curiously, we (at least me) have used phrases my entire life, and know what the phrase means, but not what the words mean.   Such is the case with "Hoist with his own Petard", meaning a person who has been spoiled by their own scheme.  It originated in Shakespeare's Hamlet, where a bomb-maker is blown ("hoist", the past tense of "hoise") off the ground by his own bomb ("petard").  A petard is a small bomb and translates to "firecracker" in English, just like the 10-pack of explosives shown below.

https://interestingliterature.com/2020/07/hoist-with-his-own-petard-phrase-origins-meaning



Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Dinnerware Deal

We finally got around to replacing our dinnerware and after looking online and at Kohl's, we thought to look at Costco, and wow, are we ever glad we did.  We picked up three, of the twelve-piece sets shown below for the amazing price of $24.99 per box.  If we had ordered them online at the link below, it would have cost an additional $10 per box. Our savings over what we saw at Kohl's was around $200.  That's a deal!




Monday, February 12, 2024

Pi

We all know that Pi (πis the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is a transcendental number, with a value of 3.141592653 to the first nine decimal places, and is commonly stated as 3.14.  But if Edward J. Goodwin had his way, it would, at least in Indiana, have been changed to 3.2.  In 1897 he
convinced Indiana State Representative Taylor Record to introduce a bill to do that in the state’s General Assembly.  Fortunately, before the bill got to the Senate, a Purdue University professor saw it and put the kibosh on it stating “The Senate might as well try to legislate water to run uphill as to establish mathematical truth by law.”  The Reader's Digest article detailing the whole story is at the link below.




Friday, February 9, 2024

French Toast

When I was growing up my Mom allowed me to make French Toast all by myself, probably so she could stay in bed on Saturday mornings.  We had some leftover sliced brioche bread and I decided to use that to make the slices you see below.  I whipped two eggs with a little half-n-half, soaked the brioche (which really soaks it up), and cooked it over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.  Since I didn't want to waste the remainder of the eggs, I added them to the pan and scrambled them.  I topped the French Toast with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Maple syrup only belongs on pancakes (IMHO).



Thursday, February 8, 2024

Internet Abbreviations

When it comes to texting, I'm an old fart.  Not only that I can't "type" with my thumbs like the cool kids, but I always have to look up an acronym, like the ones shown below, after spending too long trying to guess what it might mean.  Using an acronym is NAGI if you're not entirely sure what it stands for, you can either use it AYOR or GOI and look it up at the link below.

https://preply.com/en/blog/the-most-used-internet-abbreviations-for-texting-and-tweeting



Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Amazon Recommendations

After being annoyed one too many times by Alexa boop-booping a notification that turns out to be some deal they hope to entice me with, I found how to turn them off, which is explained at the link below.  It took about a day before the new settings, shown in the screenshot below, took effect, which was a bit surprising, but since that delay my Alexas (I'm embarrassed to tell you how many we have), have behaved themselves.




Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Peace Lily

The plant in the foreground with its single flower in the picture below is a peace lily.  Under the careful watch of Arborist Elaine (another of Chef Elaine's skills), it has flourished in our dining room along with several other plants.  The peace lily is a tropical plant and can only be grown indoors at our latitude.  The single flower is a testament to the care it gets, as getting a single bloom is fairly unusual as you can read about in the link below along with many other details.




Monday, February 5, 2024

National Cemetery of the Alleghenies

We recently laid a friend to rest at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, located twenty minutes southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  This is one of the most recent of the 164 national cemeteries, dedicated in 2005, covering 292 acres, and will eventually contain over 100,000 service men and women.  As shown below, each white gravestone had a green and red wreath in front of it which further stood out with the ground covered in snow.  Getting the half-mast flag centered in the background was coincidental, but adds a poignant touch.


Friday, February 2, 2024

Massive Mushrooms

The golden oyster mushrooms below are one of five choices that you can grow at home from Midway Mushrooms.  The picture really doesn't do justice to the size of the mushrooms that are about as big as a soccer ball.  The mushrooms grow in a 5-pound block of sawdust and can be harvested multiple times.  It makes a great gift for a vegetarian friend or a fresh topping on your favorite pizza.




Thursday, February 1, 2024

Oofos

I've never been a big fan of sandals.  I can't stand anything between my toes and they never feel like they're staying on.  But that changes with the pair of Oofos shown below.  They are lightweight, have great arch support, and the double horizontal straps don't bother my toes and firmly hug my feet.  Now I just need some warm weather to pull them out of the closet.




Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Star Trek: Picard

I just finished the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+ and of all the shows and movies in the world of Star Trek, this last season was by far the best and blew me away.  The first two seasons set up new characters and were enjoyable, but bringing so many of the original crew back for the last season, a very clever plot line and hundreds of starships firing phasers and photon torpedos in vivid high-def was uber cool.  If you're a fan, this is a don't-miss.




Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Killing Patton

Our most recent road trip allowed us to listen to an audiobook called Killing Patton which details the last year of World War II and the odd circumstances of the car crash that ended up killing the general.  It's a fascinating recollection of the battles and individual heroism that defined the war, but the atrocities some German and Russian soldiers were capable of inflicting were very disturbing.  I have a newfound appreciation for Harry Truman, who might have been the only leader back then who did not have a mistress.




Monday, January 29, 2024

Reaching Cincinnati

The screen went black as we watched the Tampa Bay/Detroit NFL playoff game on YouTube TV.  None of the other channels were affected and after 10-15 minutes, I hooked up the antenna below and tuned to WDTN.  Also black.  After a couple more minutes, I had the idea to try the Cincinnati NBC affiliate, WLWT, and, bingo, the game was back.  This antenna is not the one I blogged about back in 2019, but a more recent purchase that promised a 60-mile range and it certainly delivered that, and just what we needed to overcome the root problem, a power outage at WDTN.

The antenna I have is no longer for sale, but at the link below you can find the one I would buy next which advertises a 600+ mile range for $36.  Sounds too good to be true.




Friday, January 26, 2024

Old Louisville Tavern

Sometimes you just luck into a great lunch at an unknown restaurant like The Old Louisville Tavern located just south of downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  Chef Elaine went for the Ville’y Cheesesteak and I the Grilled Pastrami Reuben, both of which piled high and delicious.  Great little neighborhood place and if you're ever in the area, we highly recommend bringing a hungry tummy.




Thursday, January 25, 2024

Irish Coffee

Chef Elaine makes a wicked Irish Coffee like the two shown below.  Unlike the purest recipe at the link below, she starts with white sugar on the bottom, a half-cup of decaf coffee (this was an after-dinner drink), a good shot (or two) of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, Reddi-Wip sweetened whipped cream, and topped with nutmeg.  The average time to drink the whole cup must be under two minutes because it's just that good.




Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Google Maps Timeline 2023

I have Location History turned on in my Google settings and after the end of the year they send me a map, like the one below of 2023, that shows the various cities I've visited.  Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Lexington, Louisville, Asheville, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and a few Florida cities made a lot of driving and a few airplane flights.  It's just nice to recollect the year and while it might spook some that I allow Google to keep this personal information, my cell phone would be a much larger concern if I was paranoid.

https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3118687



Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Best Of 2023

As is my yearly tradition, I keep track of notable events and experiences during the year then narrow that down to the top ten, and publish the results over on my Life Experiences blog, each coming with a short descriptive paragraph, which you can find at the link below.




Monday, January 22, 2024

Highest Continent

A recent game show question asked which continent (Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, Australia) had the highest average elevation. The surprising answer was Antarctica at 7,545 feet above sea level.  That rises to 9,300 feet at the South Pole and tops out at 16,050 feet at Mount Vinson.  I had pictured Antarica as a big, flat sheet of ice, but its reality is much different.




Friday, January 19, 2024

Cincinnati Style Chili

I love Cincinnati-style chili and hit Skyline Chili restaurants several times a year.  Still, when Chef Elaine makes a half-gallon of homemade chili sauce I know I'm going to splurge on a super-sized, three-way plate like the one shown below, plus multiple plates in the future since the sauce freezes well.  For those not in the know, a three-way is spaghetti, sauce, and cheese; add onions to get a four-way and beans to get a five-way.  Lots of Frank's Hot Sauce is a must for me.

The video at the link below shows how to make it, but Katie Lee Biegel uses her own spice mix which (IMHO) is way too much work, and a 2.25-ounce packet of Cincinnati Recipe Chili Mix is a better choice.  But the back-and-forth banter between Katie (a Miami University grad) and her co-hosts (none of whom know about Cincinnati-style chili) is precious.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Martini Freeze

We've upgraded our at-home martini experience with a pair of Martini Freeze cooling cups.  The cooling gel cups freeze solid inside the double-walled chamber and this keeps the martini chilled without the need for a couple of large ice cubes, which of course, dilutes the drink as they melt.  While we're not fond of drinking from plastic anything, this tradeoff is worth it.

We bought ours at our local Von Maur store, Chef Elaine's favorite shopping experience.  Learn a little more at the link below.







Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Bicycle Detected

We spotted the sign below at the northeast corner of David and Marshall Roads in Kettering and wondered what it was all about.  A little research found that this sign lets a cyclist know that the in-pavement detector knows they're there and will cause the traffic light to cycle for them.  Without this, and assuming there is no vehicular traffic that will trigger a green light, the cyclist would either have to navigate over to and press the crosswalk button or run the red light.  

I found three instances along Kettering on-street bike paths that have sensors installed and in each case the configuration is different.  At this intersection, there is no on-pavement sign to let a rider know where the sensor is located,  On Overland Trail and Stroop Road there is a sign labeled "Detector" pointing to a spot on the pavement, but no "Bicycle Detected" sign.  Finally, on northbound Ackerman Blvd at Dorothy Lane, a complete setup can be found with clearly marked road signs and the "Bicycle Detected" sign.  

More details can be found at the link below.




Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Drug Commercials

I have a beef with drug commercials.  Aside from the fact that you can't buy them and a doctor has to prescribe them, I find that they all seem to follow a similar script.  First, they describe symptoms and how they make your life unhappy along with videos of scratching, sneezing, wheezing, running to the can, or whatever it takes, along with the hope that their drug could eliminate your miseries.  The second part is the most distracting and (IMHO) despicable, as they begin to recite possible side effects.  The video and audio now turn to happy times, dancing, kissing grandbabies, outdoor BBQs, hugging puppies, and smiles all around, anything to distract your attention and ignore the warnings.  Finally, they have a quick wrap-up to exhort you to contact your doctor.  

While I normally just mute these commercials as they never apply to me, every once in a while I'll watch the first part and then close my eyes and just listen to the second part.  It's amazing how much more dire these warnings are when your eyes are not involved.

Once more thing:  Is a warning that states "Do not take this product if you're allergic to it" really necessary?  Are some people really that stupid?  I guess we both know that answer.  Sigh...




Monday, January 15, 2024

Hot Tub

Chef Elaine has had a hot tub forever and when the last one reached end-of-life a few years ago, we decided we were not yet ready to live without one.  It's a bit of an expensive indulgence, but when you're sitting there watching the snow fly and the wind whip while soaking in 103-degree water, winter doesn't seem as bad.  The Chef takes care of the chemicals and the cleaning and her sidekick (me) shovels a path and moves the cover.  The rough part is getting the hot tub open because your body is at room temperature.  Closing it is easy as your body is so warm the elements don't matter.  We got the hot tub and supplies at Knickerbocker and their link is below.




Friday, January 12, 2024

Kitchen Torch

I'm putting this recent gift of a kitchen torch to good use, melting some slathered homemade garlic butter (thanks to Chef Elaine) on a bread roll and finishing it with a little charring.  Notice I put a cookie sheet under the bread to help avoid any damage to the countertop (even though it's granite).  This is a serious piece of equipment and (IMHO) the second most dangerous piece of kitchen gear after the sharp blades of our mandolin.  The nozzle stays hot so letting it cool in a safe space is very important.




Thursday, January 11, 2024

Eggnog

I let myself splurge once a year on a half-a-gallon of eggnog and for my money, nobody can beat the Reiter brand shown below, which I found at Dot's Market on Patterson Road.  If you look at the "Nutrition Facts" at the link below, you can see why it's only once a year.  This half-gallon comes in at a staggering 2,560 calories of creamy goodness, but it took me at least ten days to drink, so daily it's not so bad...?




Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Linear TV

I heard the term "Linear TV" recently and had no clue what it meant, so I went searching.  The article at the link below explains the term, which means "watching TV like I did as a kid", with shows airing once at a specific date and time.  It goes on to use the term OTT, "Over-the-Top Television", to describe today's world of streaming.  But I think Chef Elaine and I have viewing habits that go beyond just two simple terms.  

Most shows we watch in real-time are sports, mainly professional and college football, professional hockey, and college basketball.  We agree that professional baseball and basketball suck and no way we watch those.  YouTubeTV has a great DVR feature and has many shows available to watch whenever you like and those we split into skippable and non-skippable commercials.  We mute the non-skippable commercials, except for the funny ones like the Allstate Mayhem, Progressive Turning into Your Parents, or the bantering of Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley, and Spike Lee.  Finally, like most folk nowadays, we stream shows commercial-free from paid services, with some of our favorites being on Netflix (Virgin River, Suits, Manifest), Paramount+ (Billions, Tulsa King), Max (Game of Thrones, The Gilded Age), and Amazon Prime (Ozark, Grace and Frankie, Schitt's Creek, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).




Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Grape Balls

When the stress relief ball shown below was first demonstrated to me, I was startled to see the lime green "grapes" pop out from the blue, meshed-covered toy.  It's oddly satisfying and I can't wait to give one to our three-year-old grandson. The one Amazon sells at the link below differs from this product, but it should be very similar.  If you keep a list of future presents to buy (of course I do), you might want to add it now.




Monday, January 8, 2024

Space Bar Slide

If you fumble around trying to get positioned at the proper place on a line of text using your phone or tablet, you probably have never run across the "space bar slide".  As demonstrated below, you just slide your finger left or right across the space bar and the cursor slides character by character in the same direction.  This works on my Google Pixel 7 and Chef Elaine's iPhone 11, but it took installing GBoard (a keyboard by Google) to have it work on my iPad.  




Friday, January 5, 2024

Garlic Prime Rib

Chef Elaine earns five stars for this super-delicious Prime Rib.  We bought this 5.5-pound monster at Dot's Market, our source for most of our meats then she marinaded it with the combination of minced garlic, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper found in the recipe at the link below.  It was seared in a 500-degree oven for 30 minutes and continued at 325 degrees until medium rare.  It took far longer than the recipe suggested, partially because it started below room temperature even after an hour out of the refrigerator.  




Thursday, January 4, 2024

Mr. Coffee

We recently replaced our Cuisinart drip coffee maker with the Mr. Coffee machine shown on the right in the picture below.  While it brews a bit faster and the coffee tastes a bit better, what makes this such a nice upgrade is its water reservoir and coffee filter box.  The reservoir is removable, so Chef Elaine no longer has to fill up a pitcher with water and slowly and carefully pour it into the machine.  The filter box slides out and lays flat, so it can be filled near the sink, making the occasional spill of coffee grounds easier to clean up.  Also appreciated is that just a few of the most-needed options are included, resulting in just six buttons (brew now, brew later, strong, clean, hour, minute).  A few other goodies are listed at the link below.




Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Special Teams Coach

Chef Elaine's oldest son Patrick has accepted the position of Special Teams Coordinator for the Texas A&M Aggies football team after two very successful years at Duke University.  I'll miss Duke, and getting to see Duke basketball games, but this is a great move and a huge challenge to compete in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) along with top teams such as Alabama, Georgia, and LSU.  I'll be replacing my nine-hour drive to Durham with an equally long, door-to-door trip to College Station, Texas.  Now I need to practice my "y'all" and perhaps learn a few words of Spanish.




Tuesday, January 2, 2024

LunaAI

The story begins with Chef Elaine placing an online order for a floral centerpiece to be delivered to a friend.  But what was delivered was a normal vase of flowers, different from what was ordered.  That began an online exchange with what we now know to be an AI-powered chatbot (LunaAI).  The chatbot promised a redelivery or a refund, neither of which happened.  After more prodding, a human got involved and wanted to offer a 25% refund and a lame excuse, as shown below.  That eventually was increased to a 50% refund, but we only wanted what was ordered or our money back.  It wasn't until after we disputed the charge with the credit card that we got a full refund.  Needless to say, we won't be using that company again.


Monday, January 1, 2024

Webcam Tests

In a post last week I mentioned that my Pixel 7 webcam had 2.25 times more pixels than my regular webcam and this blog explains how I came to know that.  The WebCamTests website at the link below was the source of that knowledge and a whole lot more.  My Pixel 7 returned a resolution of 1920x1080 and my normal webcam returned 1280x720.  Doing the multiplication and division returns the 2.25 number.  

The site automatically detects your webcam and runs several tests that can take up to a minute to complete.  There are several other functions provided by the website and one of the fun ones is creating a greeting card.  Say "cheese!."