Archive for June 2013

Thousand Islands   3 comments

We crossed the border into Canada in New York State, entering the Thousand Islands region. This is where the Saint Lawrence river runs, and is a gorgeous place! The crossing is on an island. You can see US Customs, on the left, and Canadian customs, on the right. Between them, the road crosses a small stream–you don’t even notice as you cross. It is the shortest international bridge in the world.
Short Bridge

We went up a four hundred foot tall tower, the Skydeck, to check out the view.
Skydeck Tower

Off in the distance was Boldt Castle, which was built in 1900.
Boldt Castle

A statue of Saint Lawrence watches over his river.
Saint Lawrence Overlooks His River

The Thousand Island region boasts 1,864 islands in the Saint Lawrence River. For some, it’s a private islands. Others are spanned with bridges (and border crossings).
Saint Lawrence River

Saint Lawrence River (East)

The crossing, as well as the Skydeck, were on an island. Crossing this bridge, we continued to the Canadian mainland.
Onward to Canada!

Posted 2013-06-30 by Mr. Guilt in Summer Vacation 2013

Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum   1 comment

Our first stop on our summer vacation was the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum. It is located in Neil Armstrong’s birthplace, Wapakoneta, Ohio. They have many artifacts from the famous astronaut’s life.

Outside, you’re greeted by the F5D Skylancer. Armstrong flew this prototype aircraft to develop maneuvers for the unfortunately canceled X-20 Dyna-Soar program.
Caitlin, Rebecca, and the Skylancer

Inside, there was the Areonca Champion he got his pilots license in, along with a model of the X-15 he flew as a test pilot.
Armstrong's Aircraft

The Gemini VII was Armstrong’s first mission into space. He saved his crew, quickly thinking to fire the retrorockets to compensate for a faulty thruster that had his ship in a spin. The capsule from that mission is on display.
Gemini VIII

There are a lot of other artifacts, including a moon rock, at this museum honoring one of Ohio’s great astronauts.
Family at the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum

June, 2013, Hodge-Podge   Leave a comment

Facing West

A feature request:
Microsoft: a feature request

TARDIS dress

I made a lemon meringue pie for my birthday.
My lemon meringue  birthday pie (birthday isn't until Monday, but we have company coming tomorrow to share) #food #baking

I don't know ANY cat whose picture belongs here.

We’ve had retro pictures of Eddy and Maggie this month. Here’s one of both of them. It’s dated October 6, 2004. Eddy would have been with us a month at that point and sixteen weeks. Maggie would have been with me eight years, and about thirteen years old.

Facing East (same day)
Evening Shadow

Posted 2013-06-30 by Mr. Guilt in Hodge-Podge

Loaded Up   3 comments

Summer Vacation to Ensue


Posted 2013-06-28 by Mr. Guilt in Summer Vacation 2013

Equal Time for Younger Cats   1 comment

This month, we had a post about Maggie and two posts about Eddy. Yet no pixels for Beso and Luna. This has not gone unnoticed by a certain wannabe Amur tiger.
What's That?!?

Seriously, what does a cat have to do to get noticed? Play with a ring toy?
Beso Eyes the Toy

Walk over the wave?
Climbing Over the Wave

It’s simply exhausting!
Whatever's Comfortable, Beso

Business Phrases I Hate   1 comment

In spite of how I would prefer to imagine myself, professionally, I am a corporate guy. I try to have a perspective (it’s just a job), but ultimately, I work in “business,” and sit in on meetings with other corporate types.

Like any culture, corporate America has its own language–a series of phrases, axioms, and allusions that are understood. Some are unique to a given company or industry, others are more broadly understood. I confess that I have been known to engage in some corporate speak, but there are a few phrases that should be expunged from our vocabulary.

  • Open the Kimono This is a term generally meant to suggest full disclosure or access. If two companies are partnering, one may “open their kimono” to show their processes, financials, etc.

    While both men and women wear kimonos in Japan, there is something sexist and creepy to my ear about the phrase–revealing one’s naked body. Not sure this is appropriate for business contexts.

  • Drink the Kool-Aid In a business setting, I typically hear this to suggest how much one has bought into a set of ideas, corporate culture, etc. If someone is a proponent off a certain idea, or a real “company man,” they are said to have “drunk the Kool-Aid.” Trying to get skeptical individuals to support an idea is to “get them to drink the Kool-Aid.”

    The speaker, however, may not realize he’s proposing killing someone. This is an allusion to the Jonestown Massacre. Short description: in 1978, at the direction of cult leaders, 918 people died in a mass suicide: Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. In short, the analogy is that someone should have cult-like devotion to whatever the speaker is referring to, to the point of being willing to kill themselves. I don’t think there is anything in business that should merit that.

  • Pretend Time Off This is a play on “Paid Time Off” or “PTO.” PTO is what a lot of corporations do: instead of having so many days of paid vacation and so many sick days, you get a bank of PTO, which covers both–it’s the employee’s responsibility to manage. The advantage is that, if you don’t get sick, there is no shame in just using the time off. The joke, typically given by a senior executive, is that, while he was ostensibly taking a vacation, he was working.

    I have several problems with this. First, it is a less-than-healthy work/life balance. Ignoring what it is doing to the individual, it creates a culture where trying to have work/life balance is frowned upon. Further, I believe that any time spent working needs to be logged, charged, etc., even if the individual does not get paid overtime. This allows companies to understand how much it truly costs to deliver their service or product, and can scale their resources properly. The notion of Pretend Time Off is, in my mind, a sign of a dysfunctional company.

  • Night Job It may generally allude to duties outside of your core responsibilities. If it’s a spot situation (a couple of weeks) or accounted for in resource planning (either ensuring there is adequate coverage to allow the “day job” to be done, having a “night job” take place in a lull, or accepting that some activities just won’t get done), it’s understandable.

    However, I’ve frequently heard people use the term “Night Job” to refer to an ongoing assignment that, because of one’s core responsibilities, require significant off-hour work to get it done. This is anything but work/life balance. Further, if there is no charging for the time, the true cost of a service not being captured.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to either find better phrases to convey the same idea, or, better still, decide if it is an idea that should be conveyed. Corporations are made up of people. The language we use is a key indicator of how we treat them.

Posted 2013-06-24 by Mr. Guilt in rant, Twenty-First Century Life, work

Baby Eddy   9 comments

On Eddy’s birthday post, I was asked if I had any kitten pictures of Eddy. Most of my pre-iPhoto/Aperture photos are less-than-well-organized, but I did find two, from the very first weekend he was living with us.

In fact, this photo was taken within an hour of his coming into our house–you can see I still have my bike shorts under regular shorts. It was a long drive to the ride, and I liked looking “normal” if I had to stop along the way. You might think that it was a wise call, given that I stopped at the vet to have him checked out on the way home, except that our vet is also a cyclist (I remember passing a bike on the way to the exam room). We actually talked a bit about the ride itself (meh–Eddy was easily the best part of it).
Eddy Comes Home

Later that weekend, for a post in my old Phlog blog, I took a picture of him on the saddle of my bike.
Eddy Dreams of Yellow

He was a cute kitten, and grew into a handsome cat. We’re glad to have him as part of the family.

Posted 2013-06-23 by Mr. Guilt in animals, cats, Eddy, Family, felis silvestris catus

Vintage Maggie   3 comments

I was digging through a box, and came across an envelope from Kroger’s photo processing. Once upon a time, I was shooting pictures with film. The envelope was dated November, 1996. Some of the pictures made me question why I clicked the button, given that both film and processing cost real money then (rather than the frivolous pictures-of-lunch we have on our iPhones).

Still, there were a few ones that were pretty cool. There were a few photos of Maggie, my first cat. As I mentioned before, she was living in my wife’s parking lot over that summer, and we decided to start with her living with me. It was a nervous thing for me, because, until then, I was not a cat person. She moved in mid-September, so she was with me for at most two months when these pictures were taken.
Maggie on the Bed, 1996

I recall this shot–it occurred to me that I hadn’t taken any pictures yet, and was worried that I might need one.
Maggie Behind the Futon

She was a beautiful cat, and finding these pictures was a very pleasant surprise.

Solar Impulse at Lunken   1 comment

It was an fairly dull Friday morning. I was working from home, seething at someone on a project I’m working on. I keep a twitter client going–my virtual water cooler. I got a message from a friend from college, which linked to an article. An experimental aircraft named Solar Impulse, which is making a cross-country flight, would be stopping in Cincinnati. Solar Impulse is a solar-powered aircraft designed to circle the globe. It combines solar cells with batteries, allowing it to fly at night. As a demonstration, they are flying it across country. That morning, they decided to make a “pit stop” in Cincinnati.

Not just in Cincinnati, but at Lunken Airport, merely a mile from my house.

I tracked it on their website throughout the day. My wife an daughter had a small event that evening, but thought they’d be back by the anticipated 8:45 arrival. I kept an eye on it, and while they were driving home, saw that it would arrive at 8:15. I grabbed my camera and a pair of binoculars, and met them as they were walking to the house.

We drove to Alms Park, and saw it over the I-275 Bridge.
Solar Impulse Over the Bridge

It seemed like a giant bird. Or, as my wife pointed out, a B-2 Spirit.
Solar Impulse Across the River

It’s wingspan was comparable to an Airbus A380, yet weight about the same as my wife’s car.
Solar Impulse at Lunken

What struck me about it was how slowly it was able to fly. One of the vehicles chasing it on landing was a bicycle.
Touchdown 1

Touchdown 2


As they towed it from the runway, we went down the hill to look at it at the terminal building.
Approaching the Terminal

It was an impressive looking plane.
At the Terminal

Lunken is an underappreicated asset for Cincinnati, and you never know what might pay a visit. Solar Impulse was an example of such a guest. It was an unexpected treat!
Solar Impulse - Version 2

Posted 2013-06-15 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Cincinnati

Granola   Leave a comment

GranolaWe were at the grocery store the other day, when my wife lingered by the granola. “I wouldn’t have to think about buying some, if we had some at home.”

I can take a hint.

Granola was the first recipe I really played with to get right. I started with Alton Brown’s recipe. However, I kept tweaking it. First, we lost the raisins. Can’t stand them. Not much of a tweak, but it was something. We swapped the nuts to ones more to our taste (this has been the biggest variable–while we use pecans and cashews, we’ve also used almonds and Brazil nuts). We wanted something that clumped a bit better, so I changed the oil/maple syrup ratio, and adjusted the cooking process. Most recently, it was the addition of sunflower seeds.

I still think of it as Alton Brown’s recipe, even if it is significantly divergent. However, that’s part of what I like about it: it is easy to adjust to your tastes and play with. Instead ½ cup coconut and ¼ cup sunflower seeds, do ¾ cup of coconut. Or swap some of it out for pumpkin seeds. Have fun!

The other nice thing about this recipe is that it’s great for kids. While it’s good to measure things correctly, it can easily absorb a bit of variance. Mixing can happen with hands (what I usually do), and the only thing that requires major adult supervision is the oven.

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups nuts (we like a 2:2:1 ratio of pecans, cashews, and peanuts)
½ cup shredded sweet coconut
¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried fruit (we liked a mix dried pineapple and papaya)

  1. Preheat oven to 250˚F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and sunflower seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and brown sugar. Combine both mixtures and pour onto sheet pan. Cook for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. For the last five minutes, raise oven temperature to 300˚F. Turn off oven, but leave pan in oven to cool for 1 to 1½ hour.
  4. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried and mix until evenly distributed.

Granola is fun and easy to make. Enjoy on its own, or mixed in yogurt.

Posted 2013-06-12 by Mr. Guilt in food, Recipes

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