Monday, September 13, 2021

Most days I love my home office.

But then there is the occasional Monday.

By "occasional" I should be clear: It's happened twice in the 17 years we've lived here, and this the first time a black rat snake made its way to my office.

How do you react to seeing something that might be trouble?

My first reaction was "Maybe it's a cord. Or maybe a toy snake."

Then it moved.

My next reaction was "%$@#!!!" <--- You can substitute any word you like there - I said all of them.

Then I moved to solution mode. I emptied my round trash can and cornered the snake. 

There is one problem in the prior sentence: round trash can and corner don't work well together. So I got my baseball bat and... 

(No snakes were harmed, no matter how scared I was. I have a no-kill policy for any creature that is non-venomous. Black rat snakes are non-venomous).

(As a side note, my definition of non-venomous conveniently excludes hornets, mosquitoes and centipedes from my amnesty).

Where was I? Oh yeah - I grabbed the bat, and moved the snake to the middle of the carpet by the steps. He didn't particularly like that and he raised his head. That gave me the perfect opportunity to place the wastebasket down on top of him.

Ultimately I was able to slide a piece of cardboard under the wastebasket and move the snake back to the yard, and we all lived happily ever after.

That said, I would use "happy" as an adjective to describe either of us during the capture.

At some point after the incident our black lab Jesse inspected the carpet. A lab test if you will. This test was far less useful than maybe a brave dog that would run off snakes, but I'll take what I can get.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Great things - the Rock and Roll Optician

This actually happened in February - but I enjoyed this moment so much I thought I'd post it today:

Great things that happened yesterday, Part One:

If you got my book, there’s an entry about our “Rock and Roll Optician”. The guy has stories and photos of all kinds of himself with huge rock stars. (Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, etc.)

Anyway, a year ago we were about to go to the mall and I said “I’m going to give him a book”.

Then... Covid.

Then... we’d go to the mall and I’d get there and realize I left the book at home.

Yesterday, I remembered the book. He was so happy... gave Beth and me a hug. I asked him for a picture so I could feel like a rockstar.

And I can’t wait to get my next glasses and hear more stories!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Picture of the day - Really? I thought it was Coke...


This one was from Canada. Still - I'm pretty certain they know what KFC means up there.

That said, it was next door to a cannabis dispensary - so maybe there was some confusion.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Working from home tales

Last Monday I was expecting a call from the Doctor's office. 

My home office is in the basement. The coffee maker is on the main floor. 

Sure enough - as soon as I went up to get some coffee, my cell phone (still in the basement rang). 

I had two choices:

  1. Let it roll to voice mail and continue the game of phone tag, or 
  2. Answer it on my Apple Watch, Dick Tracy style. 
I chose the latter. As cool as the whole Dick Tracy watch phone sounds, it's not ideal. For one thing, I can't help but look like a jerk when I use my watch as a phone. "Oh, excuse me, I'm now going to talk on my phone". And... it's all speaker phone all the time. Not always ideal. 

The lady asked me a question that required me to go downstairs. In the process I bumped my watch and accidentally turned up the volume on my bluetooth speaker (which now playing "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood) to 11.

Now I had to go into the wall of sound, turn off the speaker, and then look up the info for the nice lady on the other end. I was totally embarrassed. I said something about working from home. 

About that time she said "STOP!"

Dead silence on my end.

She said "Oh no, not you, it's my son. I'm working from home and we're trying to potty train him and he came into my office and started peeing in a bucket."

Made my day.

In the end she gave me the information I needed, and a great laugh. I thanked her for both.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Starless (aka my sons Joe and Kenny and their friends' band) new video is out

 And it already has over 4500 views!

Great things that happened this week - Week of May 2.

- Our troop put down mulch at Harmony Hill. it looks great!
- We had the Eagle Court of Honor for Micah Barnhart. With William Hiler, Beth, Tommy, Jefferey, Angela and Joe Schlueter, Pete Elliott, Logan, Sara and Andy Creighton.

- We went fishing with the Cub Scout pack at Pattison Park.
- Beth and I watched Escape Plan (Sylvester Stallone and Arnold)
- Tommy and I watched Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on PBS.
- I continued reading my audio book - Jon Acuff's "Soundtracks".
- I also started listening to the 25th Anniversary Edition of Zig Ziglar's "See You at the Top".
- Completed all three circles on my Apple Watch Every Day.
- And I kept the 10,000 step streak going!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Great things that happened this weekend - the outdoor campout (Spring Camporee)

- We had perfect weather.

- And our patrol proved that they can split wood really really fast.

- Oh and we ate a lot of really good food.

- 46,000 steps in the three days (that's why I could at a lot of food).

- Warm during the day and cold (but great sleeping weather) at night. I've heard (and said) there is no such thing as bad weather on a campout if you're prepared. But rain, even when you're prepared, is less fun than sunshine. Cold at night is great when you have a winter sleeping bag.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Great things that happened today - school talent show and more!

I was Master of Ceremonies for the First Annual Williamsburg's Got Talent School talent show. The show featured acts from the elementary school, middle school and high school.
There were lots of talented kids presented their acts. In fact they were downright amazing. I was honored to be there and be master of ceremonies.

They had a great craft show. Beth and I bought some cheese spreads, bourbon apple butter, jelly, and some nice soy candles (including a bourbon scented one). (There's a theme in our purchases).
- Joe stopped by the house in the afternoon and had some snacks.
- Beth, Tommy and I got in to the cheese spread before dinner.
- Paige made lasagna for dinner - it was delicious!
- Beth and I watched Cowboys vs. Aliens before bed.
- We had seen it before but I didn't remember much of it.
- Other than the fact that the cowboys won.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

This week's new recipe: Cincinnati Chili Pork Chops

One of our goals for 2021 is to try making a new recipe every week. This week's effort was Cincinnati Chili Pork Chops.

Once again, this recipe was taken from the Book Canada Grills! By Char-Broil. It was an Ollie's Outlet find. $2.99 for the book of 222 recipes.


6 pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
½ cup apple cider vinegar

We actually did nine chops. This is because we bought a boneless pork loin and I cut it up into chops (one inch thick). I cut the chops after making the rub. I also peeled off some (but not all) of the fat.

As for the apple cider vinegar, I had a squirt bottle of it. Instead of brushing it on the chops I just squirted them.


1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (we used regular chili powder)
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon coarse salt (we skipped that)

Whisk together rub ingredients in a large bowl.

Brush each chop with vinegar (I actually used a spray bottle - see above note).

Then press a generous amount of rub on all surfaces. (I just put the rub in a pan and pressed each chop into the rub (on each side).

Place the chops on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to two hours.

Remove from the refrigerator one hour before grilling.

Preheat the grill to medium high and spritz the chops with canola oil (I forgot this part. I did spray the grill with Pam grilling spray so they didn’t stick).

Sear over direct heat one to two minutes per side.

Move the chops to the warming rack, or some area with no direct heat and continue grilling until the chops reach an internal temperature of 160. (I got tired of waiting around 150 degrees so I moved them back to the direct side to finish).


Week one: Shepherds Pie

Week two: Peach barbecue chicken

Week three: Tuna casserole

Week four: This one

All of the above become links

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Playing with iMovie - my first trailer

My friend Bill made a video... 

And it was really cool. So I said "Hey Bill - how did you make that?" He said "iMovie trailers!"

All this time I've been messing with iMovie I never once did a trailer. Until now.

I took some of the footage from the Great kid movie project, and played with various trailers until I came up with something fun.

What would (will) I do differently?

I would make a copy before I tell iMovie to "convert trailer to movie". Somehow I missed the whole word "Convert". That meant that once I discovered something I wanted to change (specifically the camera bobble when Joe is standing by the cow fence) I couldn't do it. Not easily anyway.

And then there was the whole closing credits thing...

So who's Pickles McWeiner anyway?

 It's a Facebook account my oldest son created about eight years ago. This was another thing I wanted to change after conversion. That wouldn't have been too difficult actually, but once I saw it I thought "Meh. It's kind of an Easter Egg..."

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

This week's new recipe: Peach barbeque chicken - totally worth the price of the recipe book.

One of our goals for 2021 is to try making a new recipe every week. This week's effort was Peach Barbecue Chicken.

The recipe was taken from the Book Canada Grills! By Char-Broil. It was an Ollie's Outlet find. $2.99 for the book of 222 recipes.

The ingredients:

  • 6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup peach preserves
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp bbq sauce.
I sprayed the breasts with olive oil and threw on a little Morton's salt substitute. I then coated one side with about 2/3 of the ingredients above.

On the grill

Then I added this to what was left:

  • Some amount, probably a tbsp – bourbon.
  • And some amount, probably another 3 tbsp bbq sauce.
  • About another 1/6 cup peach preserves
  • This gave me a thinner sauce to apply while grilling.

The grilling:

I put the breasts on the grill – sauce side up, and grilled over medium-low heat until the internal temperature got to 110. I then flipped and brushed on sauce every 10-15 degrees until the internal temperature got to 165.

The book left it entirely up to me on what kind of barbeque sauce, so I went with Stonewall Kitchen Bourbon Molasses (this might also be why the mix wasn’t thin enough to spread on the chicken at first.

Recognizing this error I went with Skipkenny Whiskey BBQ sauce for the “added to what was left” sauce.  

The finished product

I modified the book recipe like crazy. The original recipe called for onion salt, which is essentially some onion powder mixed with a lot of salt. I don't do salt. (The barbecue sauces had more than enough anyway). My really thorough Google research indicated that onion salt was about 3/4 salt and 1/4 onion powder. So 1 tsp of onion salt became 1/4 tsp of onion powder.

Bon appetit!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Four before my feet hit the floor - how I start my day

What do you do when you wake up? 

If you're like me you go one of two directions:

1. Hit the snooze button, or

2. Think "Oh Schitt's Creek. I'm late." And immediately the rush is on. 

(By the way, those two are NOT mutually exclusive).

But what if you spent the first five minutes of your day - while still in bed - paving the way to a great day?

I use an acronym to help me remember: PAVE. This is how I "PAVE" the way to a great day.

P - Prayer: 

The first thing I want to do is express gratitude. The act of praying and saying "Here is what I'm grateful for" puts me in the right mindset for the day. 

When it comes to gratitude I have my "usual suspects": My wife, my sons, my family and extended family, our dogs, dogs in general, my job, our house, coffee, and so on.

It doesn't really matter what I list in my prayer of gratitude. It doesn't even matter if it's a prayer or not. What does matter is I start the day with one minute of gratitude. And I've learned (through experience and science) that how you start the day makes a huge difference.

(Note if you prefer to just categorize this one as "Gratitude" it still works. The acronym just becomes "GAVE" and you say "I GAVE myself the best shot of having a great day").

A - Affirmations:

So yeah, the first time I heard "Affirmations" I immediately thought of Stuart Smalley.  But that thought aside, affirmations will help you start the day on the right foot. I have a list of affirmations from Craig Groschel. Again, it's faith based, but the one I say in the morning is just a good affirmation:

"Today I will bring my best and then some. It's what I bring after I do my best that makes a difference."

Just saying that and thinking about it for maybe five seconds gets me fired up.

V - Visualization:

This can take one of two formats: Long term or short term. Or, if it's a cold morning and the dog is snuggled up next to me, maybe both.

Long term: I visualize accomplishing one of my vision board goals.

E - Energize:

Technically this one could be called breathing, but PAVB isn't a word.

Five deep breaths - Four seconds in, eight seconds out. One minute in total. 

With each one I stretch my legs, my arms and my back.

I count backwards. This serves as a countdown.

When I get to zero, it's time to blast off. And as soon as I get up our three hungry dogs help to make sure I'm at the point of no return.