Category: Observations


2021 Week 52 – Looks Like We Made It!

It’s the final Sunday of 2021 & it’s time for another Year in Review! I wanted to bring the blog back to life this year and post at least once a week. I missed a few weeks throughout the year, but overall I’m pleased with how I was able to keep things active. Along the way, I kept a list of ideas to discuss, so I should always have some content as I attempt to keep this up in 2022.

The weekly format seems to work well as it allows me to summarize the previous 7-days and add some additional content that appears relevant (or fun). As I did last year, this post will be a summary of the past year. It’s been another wild year with Covid and all the VAX/Boost discussions but we’re in the home stretch. Next Sunday will be the first post of 2022!


January 2021
I turned an old Mac into a Linux machine (and still use it)
President Biden was sworn into office
We had sushi in Fortville
I cooked Mushroom Bourguignon for the first time

February 2021
I shared our family favorite Scalloped Potato Gratin
Started visiting A2Z Cafe again for lunch (Closed on Monday)
The Bon Appetite Test Kitchen falls apart
Clancy’s opens in the garage Food Hall
We visited Indy Tacos

March 2021
Discovered a Vegan Cheeseball that fooled everyone I served it to (AmazeBall)
Dropped Lass Pass for BitWarden (and never looked back)
Hoagies and Hops opens a new location in Fletcher Place (now closing on 12/31)
Life in Indy launches
I start playing Disk Golf (Like Ball Golf only better)

April 2021
We discover J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (although I mentioned him on the Blog in 2010)
My First COVID Vaccination at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Saraga plans to open a store in Castleton (still not open)
Baseball returns and I actually watch it (Go Reds!)
I order a TidByt (it was delivered the day before Christmas, review coming soon)
I finally ate at Loughmiller’s Pub & Eatery (free cookie Monday)
More Disk Golf (I’m hooked)

May 2021
I visit the Gus Grissom Monument In Mitchel, Indiana
Hiking at  Hemlock Cliffs
More Disk Golf at a Monastery in Southern Indiana
I finally try Chris’s Ice Cream And fall in love with their Chorizo Burrito
First camping trip of the year at Indian-Celina Lake Campground

June 2021
Bought a WOOL T-Shirt (and LOVE it)
Who could forget the 17-Year Cicada Brood
Built a Pi Weather Station (use this daily)
More Disk Golf
Travel to Cincy and visit the War Birds Museum, and Jungle Jims, for fathers Day

July 2021
Road Trip to the Allegheny National Forest (So much rain)
Found a proper Beef on Weck at the Bar-Bill Tavern (I have dreams about this sando)
Visited Niagara Falls (nicer than I remember)
Visited the Zippo/Case Museum
FINALLY saw Rock City (only to find out it’s not the one I saw signs for growing up)
Walked the Kinzua Bridge State Park in Kane, PA

August 2021
Reviewed the Termacell Backpacker Mosquito Repeller  (this thing works)
Started the Keto diet
Downloaded the Grammarly app (I needed it)
Updated the Blog Theme

October 2021
Reviewed Upland Brewing (Jalapeno Blue Cheese Sauce)
Bought an iPad Pro (FINALLY)
Reviewed Grammarly
Reviewed the 99% Invisible Podcast

September 2021
MORE Disk Golf
Looked at the WP Recipe Maker plugin (too much work)
20 years since 9/11
677,737 American deaths attributed to COVID so far
Visited San Diego

November 2021
Bought a new Apple Watch
Updated my Kindle Paperwhite
Watched the Donut King Documentary
Visited Findlay Market
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (READ this)
No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald (then READ THIS)

December 2021
We made it up to Condado Tacos at Hamilton Town Center
Checked out the Guggman Haus brewery
Purchased Grammarly (worth the $)
Reviewed the new Kindle paperwhite
The Union Jack Pub MOVED!

So that’s it for 2021. We covered a lot of ground this year and started some new things. The Keto “diet” has turned into more of a “watch those carbs” lifestyle and I’m happy to report I’ve had some moderate success. Disk Golf was something new this year and I really enjoyed playing various courses around the area. San Diego was a nice escape, even though I was there for work, and the Allegheny National Forest was one of the nicest camping trips I’ve had in a while, despite all the rain.

Here’s to another year, and thanks for reading!

2021 Week 48 – You ARE Being Watched

I took some time over the long holiday weekend to finish a book I had started a few weeks ago and promptly start another related one.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is an eye-opening tale centering around a late 20-something NSA contractor who exposes the US Government’s mass surveillance system created after 9/11. Love him or hate him he brought to light the vast data collection of US citizens by their government.

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald starts up with his interview of Snowden while he hides in Hong Kong before his trove of documents is released to the public by various medial outlets. Meanwhile, Laura Poitras films a series of interviews for her documentary Citizen Four. It goes into incredible detail about the surveillance systems in use around the world, by many countries, and details just how far they have gone to invade your privacy.

If you have any interest in this kind of stuff it’s well worth your time to seek out these books or at least watch the full documentary (available on YouTube with Ads (that will track you, haha)). It will chill you to the core and make you think about what you do online going forward.

As I wrote earlier this year everyone needs to be using a Password Manager application. My favorite continues to be Bitwarden. The free version is more than enough for most people but the $10 paid version adds some advanced features and helps support the development. Getting started with a Password manager is NOT difficult and is NOT a good excuse for NOT using one. Bitwarden for Beginners is a great place to start.

NordPass just released their annual Top 200 Common Password list. It shows what people are actually using to secure their private data as well as how long it takes to crack and gain access. If your password is on the list you should assume your accounts have been compromised because you probably use the SAME password in multiple places. The benefit of a Password Manager is that you can use a different, unique, password for every account and only need to remember ONE (secure) master password/phrase. The tool generates and documents the login details for you.

Another security tool you should consider using, especially if you use your devices in public, is a personal VPN account. This tool encrypts your traffic and protects you from anyone wanting to access your data. Sounds a little overkill but it’s not uncommon for someone to sit on a public network and watch for unsecured traffic to exploit. In fact, as far back as 2013 AT&T and Starbucks encouraged it! My personal favorite is Private Internet Access (PIA) which works on all devices including your phone and tablet. An annual subscription is $39.99.

I think that just about wraps things up for this week. It’s hard to believe 2021 is 90% over & we’re getting ready to settle down into the winter months. At least I have a stack of books to go through while hunkering down inside for the next 3 months. See you next week!

The Truth About Thanksgiving

I always love digging this out every November. Enjoy!

2021 Week 45 – Tech Upgrades & Tacos

I’ve been absolutely loving the new iPad Pro since I purchased it a few months ago. In fact, It’s my primary computing device when I’m home. Paired with a Lap Desk from Amazon, I can crank out all kinds of work and keep up with my reading from the comfort of my couch (while watching Soccer & Football).

The Apple Watch Series 7 arrived last Monday & I’m thrilled with the upgrade from the Series 4 I was using. Apple offered a $100 trade-in, and my company provides an annual fitness reimbursement of $60 for wearable devices, which brought the overall price of the device down to something a lot more reasonable.

Speaking of reasonable, Amazon just released the new Kindle Paperwhite for $139. I have an original one from 2012 that has gotten very sluggish (and stopped receiving software updates). I was able to get 25% off the price of the new Kindle if I traded my old one in. I think this trade-in option is something I’m going to start looking for when upgrading electronic devices. Otherwise, these old units end up taking space on the shelf with no benefit to anyone.

In local food news, Chris’ Ice Cream (and Tacos) has relocated across 86th Street from its old location, just east of Total Wine and next door to Subway. They haven’t put a permanent sign up yet, so it’s a little hard to find. I had lunch with a former colleague the other day, and the food is just as good as it was before at the old location. The new site isn’t any larger than the old one, so I think the relocation might have been landlord or rent-related. Either way, this is a great little hole-in-the-wall with some excellent Mexican food.

And finally, this video is a few years old, but it’s hilarious. There is NO WAY I would ever try Noodling, but it sure was fun watching these guys do it. Have a great week, and we’ll see you next time!

2021 Week 44 – Fall Back

close up of yellow autumn leaf on twig at sunset

It’s about that time again where we set our clocks back to observe Daylight Saving Time (DST). The official date is Sunday, Nov. 7th at 2:00 am so you have a week to go! It doesn’t seem that long ago when Indiana didn’t participate in DST. In fact, we had our own “Timezone” called Indiana in the settings on computers. The last time I checked it was still there in Windows 10, even though it’s not used anymore.


I’ve been trying to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and get some steps in by walking around the neighborhood. This is a perfect time to catch up on the numerous Podcasts I have downloaded to my phone. One of my all-time favorites is from 99% Invisible. This podcast explores all kinds of interesting topics such as the Sears catalog that had mail-order houses available, and why Margarine was PINK at one time.

99% Invisible is a sound-rich, narrative podcast hosted by Roman Mars about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. 

From 99percentinvisible.org

After the impressive iPad Pro upgrade, I decided to upgrade my several-generation-old Apple watch to the new Series 7 model. The larger display is what really sold me. I use my Apple Watch daily and I’m looking forward to checking the new model out. If there’s anything worth reporting I’ll do a mini-review in a few weeks.


And finally, I stumbled upon some motivational videos on Youtube last week and the following one featuring Joe Rogan was very interesting. Enjoy!

2021 Week 37 – 9/11 and the World Today

It’s tough to believe it’s been 20 years since Terrorists changed America forever. On September 11, 2001, I was driving to work listening to the news on 1070 WIBC when the first plane hit the North Tower and remember thinking it was such an awful accident. When the second plane hit the South Tower, it was clear something else was going on. That day was full of bad news after bad news with the Pentagon attack and Flight 93 crashing in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and I’ll never forget it.

We’ve had other historical events in the past, such as Pearl Harbour, where 2403 military and civilians were killed in 1941. That attack triggered the United States’ entry into World War II the next day. American involvement in the war lasted four years from 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, to 1945, when Japan and Germany were defeated.

The 9/11 attacks, which killed 2,996 Americans, were in peacetime and a first for the United States. This led to the 20-year conflict in the middle east, which we just “ended”. I say “ended” because even though we cut the head off the snake by killing Osama bin Laden, we didn’t end the war. The evil that is the Taliban survived and took over an ENTIRE COUNTRY in a matter of weeks. I can’t help but think we’ll be back; it’s only a matter of time…

After 9/11, the United States came together in unity. There was a feeling of patriotism, as we had a common enemy*. Many freedoms we had before the attacks were restricted in the same of security (remember flying prior to 9/11?) and, even though we didn’t like it, we accepted it and moved on with our lives. Unfortunately, as the years passed, we slowly drifted back to the complacency we had pre-disaster. Then COVID-19 attacked us…

Fast forward today, where we had another opportunity to rally as a nation with the COVID-19 epidemic, but we failed miserably to come together as a nation again. Instead of joining forces to fight another common enemy that was killing with impunity, we raised our defenses and ignored common sense that would have eradicated the virus.

As of today, we’ve had 677,737 American deaths attributed to COVID-19, with more dying every day. New variants are not helping the situation, but the real issue is people refusing to get vaccinated only to get sick, spread the virus, and in some cases, die from it.

While I’m not a fan of government overreach, I feel like we did this to ourselves by playing doctor and pretending to know more than the science. Now we’re seeing the US Government force our hand and start rolling out vaccine mandates. Unfortunately, I think the anti-vaxers will dig their heels in, and we’re going to see more civil unrest, not unlike we saw last year in the United States.

I really hope I’m wrong…

*I’m going to keep my personal thoughts about 9/11 out of this post because now is not the time. This weekend we remember the 2,996 Americans who lost their lives and those who died from health complications from that day.

2021 Week 34 – Keto Update

white handbag

I start my 3rd-week with the “Low Carb” diet this week, and I can honestly say it’s going very well. I’m getting a little tired of the limited food choices, but I found a few cookbooks over the weekend that should help mix things up a little.

My original goal was to do this for 2 weeks, but I’ve been so pleased with the results I’m going to keep up with it for a while. I’ll admit I’ve had a few cheat meals, but just being conscious of what I’m eating vs. just eating to bet full has been truly eye-opening. Also, the energy I’ve gained by drastically reducing carbs (and sugars) makes this all worth it.

Dining out has been a little tricky, but it’s doable. I’ve found most restaurants have a low-carb option on their menu, although it’s not always called that. Asking for things without bread or adding a green vegetable over fries or other starches helps keep the carbs down. Now on to our regular programming…

I decided to refresh the look of the site over the weekend & turned on a new theme called “Kvarken”. It’s an older theme and might not be supported in upcoming releases of WordPress but it was time for a refresh. I still haven’t found the “perfect” theme for the site, but as time goes on, I keep getting closer. Unfortunately, there are so many themes to choose from, and many of them are not backward compatible with what I’ve been using, so I’m a little limited in my options.

I downloaded the Grammarly app over the weekend, and I’m in the process of testing it out both personally and at work. Grammarly is a real-time spelling and grammar checker with a huge list of features available (when you pay for a subscription to access them). However, the free version is also very useful and might be what I fall back to after my 90-day subscription ends.

Finally this week… The NY Times had an interesting article about the “issues” created when switching from plastic bags to cotton “totes”.

2021 Week 33 – Keto Curious

green vegetable on white ceramic bowl with cutlery

Last weekend I suddenly became curious about the Low-Carb (Keto) lifestyle. After watching an online video about Carbs, I started doing the math and realized I was consuming more carbs than I realized (a LOT more).

The COVID-19 shutdown has allowed me to cook more and, after finally finding an upright freezer available for sale, purchase more food for bulk storage. This was mainly for convenience, variety, and to reduce the waste of leftovers. However, when I checked the freezer and pantry, I realized how many Carbs were in my diet. So I decided to try an experiment… Reduce Carbs from my diet for 2 weeks.

As of today, I’m one week in, and I have to admit, I’m feeling GREAT! I’ve dropped a few pounds, and I have more energy. Of course, I’ve had a few Carbs now and then, but I’m making a conscious effort to try this for 2 weeks and decide how to go from there.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Kato diet, the video below does an excellent job explaining how things work.

You can find endless resources on YouTube as well as your local library. But, these days, you don’t even need to visit the actual library; you can check books out digitally using the Libby app and read on the free Kindle software from Amazon.

That’s it for this week. If you’ve done Keto or are currently living the lifestyle, I welcome your feedback! I’ve never “dieted” in my life, so this is new to me, but I’m really excited to see the results!

2021 Week 32 – Back to School (and WORK)

yellow school bus on route against historic building

Hard to believe it’s August already & even harder to believe school has started in the area. A lot of businesses are continuing their “back to work” initiatives and the increased traffic during the daily commute is noticeable. Downtown Indianapolis is slowly starting to come back to life but it has a long way to go to get anywhere close to where it was pre-covid, if it ever does.

Another thing that can’t be missed is the number of “Help Wanted” and “We’re Hiring” signs in just about every business. Every place I go out to eat you can tell they’re under staffed and over worked. If you can afford it, please tip generously and be patient if things are a little slower than usual.

I have a few new food places I want to check out in the coming weeks. The Amp Food Hall at 16-Tech and the new Brozinni’s location in Speedway. My Son & I visited Barbecue and Bourbon a few weeks back and we were so busy eating the amazing food I forgot to take any pictures. This means I need another visit…

And finally… Earlier this year North Face rejected a custom jacket order from an oil company & got caught “Virtue Signaling” in a very humorous way.

2021 Week 25 – Like Golf but Better

Over the winter I watched a lot of YouTube & I stumbled upon some interesting ones regarding Disc Golf. I’d seen the baskets around various parks in the past and had never really seen anyone playing. Enter COVID-19 and Disc Golf becomes one of the fastest growing outdoor sports in the world. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association the sport saw an 84% new player growth in 2020.

There are over 10,000 courses throughout the world and most are completely free to play, unlike Ball Golf that can run you $100 a round (and take up a good chunk of your day). You can get started in Disc Golf with a single Disc that costs $10 or a starter set of 3 Discs for under $30. Scoring is can be a simple as a piece or paper or with the use if an app such as UDisk (also reporting record growth).

UDisk is a mobile app that lists Disc Courses around the world with reviews and course conditions updated by players. It also allows you to see the Disc Course layout and distances to the baskets. Lastly you can use UDisk to keep score and track your progress as you learn the game. For $15 it’s one of the most useful apps I’ve used, let alone pay for.

Playing Disc Golf is similar to Ball Golf where each player tries to get their Disc in the basket with the least amount of throws. The holes are rated with Par’s like Ball Golf and other rules such as Water Hazards and Out of Bounds are similar. I’m not nearly ready yet but there are Disc Golf Leagues all over the place & they seem to be very active. I’m going to try my hand at joining one this fall once the summer travel settles down. If you’re looking for a new sport to try & don’t think you can beat Disc Golf as a way to get outside and get some exercise while playing.

And finally, I visited Micro Center in Cincinnati last weekend and picked up a 7-inch touch screen for one of my Raspberry Pi devices. If you like to tinker, or know someone who does, a Raspberry Pi is a great gift. It’s an inexpensive (under $50) computer on a board that can be “hacked” to do just about anything. I’m going to build the real-time weather station shown in the video below.

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