My Grandfather, the…

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When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my cousins and grandparents on my dad’s side.   My cousins and I would go on trips in my grandparents 5th wheel (a 1980’s Hitchhiker II) to Ocean Shores and other places where we’d go fishing or clamming, and generally run around.   Some mornings my grandfather would wake us kids up by threatening to kiss us while his face was covered with shaving cream.  Then us kids would squeeze the little tubes (apparently it’s called the “crystalline style“) out of the razor clams–giggling as we did it because we thought that little thing was part of the clams naughty bits–and then grandma would cook up the clams.

Many weekends growing up my grandpa, dad, my Cousin Mark, and I would go trout fishing at Spada Lake or another small lake, or take my grandpa’s 19ft boat out on Puget Sound for some Salmon fishing which almost always turned in to dogfish fishing.  One time we were trout fishing and I hooked a nice little rainbow trout and grandpa jokingly said “that’s too small, let it go” and I did, not realizing he was joking.  I caught zero additional fish that day but somehow it was still funny.   At the end of the day the driveshaft U-bolt broke as we pulled the 12ft Duroboat out of the water.  Grandpa spent the next hour or so removing the drive shaft entirely and we drove the F-250 home in 4-wheel drive (now front-wheel-drive).   I remember the driveshaft U-bolts being a consistent theme.   Inside that F-250 there were hundreds of tools stashed in various places.  If it came to it, I believe that he could have rebuilt the entire truck using just the tools he had inside.

When us grandkids were a little older, my grandpa bought a go-kart.  He also somehow had a Caterpillar D9 on his 5-acre property in Woodinville.    He spent weeks grading a go-kart track that went all around the back yard and front yard.  And us kids spent years driving that thing, full throttle (there was no other reasonable way to drive it) on that track.   I have a ½” burn scar on my finger from accidentally touching the exhaust while pushing the go-kart to get it going for my cousin one time.

For a while he had a pet donkey…  Might have been a mule, I can’t remember for sure.  All I remember is that his name was Griesel Diesel Number 9.   I can’t begin to tell you where that name came from.

Sometime around 1999-2000 (I can’t remember these dates as well as I’d like) my grandpa (among others) was helping me move from one apartment to another in Kirkland.  He used to drive trucks, delivering cabinets for Western Cabinet, so he was used to carrying things, though his back was being slowly and permanently damaged from it.  I was single at the time and every time he saw a young woman walking by he’d call out to them asking them if they were single and letting them know his grandson was moving in.   He had a mug that he’d brought with him filled with coffee.  He asked me if it was okay to add some of my vodka to his coffee.   I was confused because I didn’t think I had any vodka but said sure.   An hour or so later he’d drank most of the coffee and he told me that the vodka had a funny taste.  I wracked my brain trying to remember what vodka I had and then I asked him where he found it.  “Under your kitchen sink”.   Ahah!!  “That’s not vodka grandpa, that’s vinegar my mom gave me”.  He’d been drinking coffee with added vinegar in it for an hour.  He then explained to me that he used to drink vinegar as a kid…and he proceeded to finish the coffee over the next hour, vinegar and all.

After developing dementia over the course of a few years my grandmother fell down some stairs and eventually passed away at Harborview on July 25th, 2014.  My grandfather was clearly upset and clung to Sophie (his little dog) determined to stay in his house in Twisp, WA till the end.  My biological dad, my grandfathers son, died suddenly in his home 6 months later in January, 2015.   For the last two years, my grandpa has been living alone (with a few regular visitors) in his home while his spine and short-term memory continued to deteriorate.  Conversations were hard due to his memory but he was always happy and generally healthy.

On December 19th, he fell in his bedroom and shattered his L4 vertebrae.  Doctors at the hospital explained there was nothing they could do because his spine was so deteriorated from osteoporosis that there was no structure to attach anything to.  He was left bedridden but he was happier than ever because he wasn’t alone, he had doctors and nurses around all the time.  I flew to Spokane mere hours after I found out and was both surprised and relieved to see his demeanor.  Even joking with the nurses who were “playing with his ding-a-ling” (adjusting his catheter).  They moved him to a nursing facility on the 28th and got settled in.  Unfortunately, he was experiencing pain every time they had to shift his body and it seems they couldn’t get the pain meds right.  Yesterday he was found non-responsive and taken to the emergency room.  He passed away last night.

He was 89.  Stubborn, Funny, Hard-working, Resourceful, Smart, Caring, and Strong–possibly one of the greatest humans I’ve ever known.  Likely making jokes with Saint Peter about how The Gates aren’t pearly enough to keep, whilst relaxing in an easy chair with my grandmother and my dad.

Left to Right – Me, My Wife Devon, My Dad, Grandmother, Grandfather, my Mother, and my Step-Dad Tim

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Has Auto-Correct Gotten So Smart That It’s Now Stupid?

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At first I thought it was just me, but it seems many others are struggling with the same issue.   Several years ago when phones finally had pretty good auto-correct and spell check I felt like it was actually a pretty nice thing to have.   As I typed on my phone with fumbly fingers most of my errors would be fixed leaving just a few to fix manually before clicking send.   And the auto-correct would replace words based on the context as well which made things altogether pretty intelligent.  My thought had been that as the developers (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc) of these predictive text dictionaries got more and more data from user devices the auto-correct function would get so good that you’d have little to fix after typing an entire message.

img_3010However, what seems to have happened in the past year or two is that the algorithms have gotten marginally better, but the aggressiveness of auto-correct has increased by an order of magnitude.  What I find now is that I have to retype words 2-3 times before auto-correct will let me keep it the way I’ve spelled it.  And if I mistype a word and try to correct it myself, sometimes auto-correct will then suggest the very misspelling I was trying to fix.   Even with a new phone and new computer, which haven’t had time to learn my own vocabulary, the auto-correct functionality suggests words that don’t even make sense, trying to replace perfectly valid words I’ve typed.   This affects both my phone and my computer, albeit both are Apple products, and my wife has the same issue with hers.

So I’ve given up on Auto-Correct, and gone back to the old way, with underlined words that I can selectively fix or leave as-is before I click send.   Frankly it takes me less time to manually correct a couple of words than it did to fight auto-correct to allow me to type the words correctly in the first place.

The good news is you can disable Auto Correct and get back to the good old days of being informed without being intruded on.

  • On a Mac, go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> “Text” tab, and un-checking “correct spelling automatically”.
  • On an iPhone, go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard, and disable “Auto-Correction”.

 

In both cases incorrect spellings and such will be underlined and suggested words will still be shown, but it won’t automatically replace what you have actually typed.  You can still chose one of the suggestions and/or click the underlined word for a correction, basically the same thing that you could do before Auto-Correct became so smart it turned stupid.

P.S. Please forgive any typos as this was typed on a Mac with Auto-Correct disabled.   😉

Quote of the Week

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“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ”

― Sterling HaydenWanderer

Sterling Haydon and kids on Wanderer

Sterling Haydon and his children on Wanderer

Time for a new website!

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Well, I finally got around to building a new personal website.  It’s been a while since I updated the old one, mostly because it was made in Apple iWeb which I no longer have.   One set of content on my old site is quite active (the documents I’ve collected for Cal sailboats) so I wanted to make sure that any new website maintains the old URLs to those documents so Google search results would still link to them.

So I installed an instance of WordPress in the same folder as the old website, imported or recreated the content (depending on what it was) and specifically rebuilt the pages for the Cal documents so that they linked to the same files in the same locations as the old site.   Then I set about updating the old pages with automatic redirects to the new site.  Each section on the old site now redirects to its matching section on the new site.

Hopefully now that the website is running on WordPress I can update it more frequently and slowly tune it to be something I will be proud of.  In the mean time it’s pretty nice so far, and it meets my objective of keeping old content available.

I’ve actually consolidated blog posts from various blogs I had around the web into three final locations:

  1. Sailing related posts have been imported into our cruising blog at AndersonsAbroad.com as well as some other travel blogs we had written about French Polynesia and Italy.
  2. Work/Technology related posts were already on StorageSavvy.com which is now at Storagesavvy.richardanderson.net.  I’m winding down this site and no longer want to pay for the domain.
  3. All other personal posts have been imported into this site under the Personal Blog section.  This includes posts originally on the old richardanderson.net site, in addition to non-sailing posts that were on sailingsleipnir.wordpress.com and kirklandnano.blogspot.com.

Take a little tour through the menu to see what’s here..

Category: stuff

For Sale (Sold)

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1974 MGB Chrome Bumper Roadster – Dark British Racing Green

$16,999

https://www.flickr.com/photos/techsavvy/sets/72157644485247145/

Hoyle coilover double-wishbone front suspension / GAZ Adjustable Shocks
British Automotive composite spring rear suspension
Traction (anti-tramp) control bars / Mantell Motorsports Panhard Rod

1924cc Big Bore engine (83mm) JE Forged 83mm Pistons
Kent 717SP Fast Road Scatter Pattern cam / Pertronix Coil and Ignition
Harland Sharp 1.55:1 Roller Rockers
RIMFLO stainless valves, 3-angle, ported, polished, cc’d head
Weber Outlaw 38DGES 2-barrel synchronous downdraft carb
Falcon stainless LCB header / Monza exhaust
16 row oil cooler with bypass valve and spin on oil filter
Lightened flywheel

Matching Chassis, Engine, Transmission, and Differential numbers

Dinners by Dad – Quick Tips – What the heck is zest of lemon?

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Last week I made a Shrimp Lemon Pepper Linguini from a recipe on Allrecipes.com and along with the fresh squeezed lemon juice, the recipe called for “1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest”.  The first time I ran into this was with a risotto recipe a few weeks ago and I had to Google it since I literally had no idea what zesting a lemon was.  Those of you who have been cooking for years may take this knowledge for granted but if it was new to me I figure there may be other people (especially fellow take-out techies) who’d probably need to look it up.

So here it is…  your simple answer..  Zest = grated lemon rind

Essentially you use a small plane, small grater, or worst case a large cheese grater to grate just the yellow part of the lemon skin.  You don’t want the white part underneath the outer layer of yellow so you will need to keep turning the lemon to hit all of the outside skin for the best zest.

Another tip I found, if the recipe calls for juicing the lemon also, make sure you zest it first.  Once you juice it, the lemon will not be firm enough to make zesting an easy task.  So zest the lemon while it’s still whole, then cut it in half and juice it.

We have a small grater that I believe is for parmesan that seems to work well for the lemon zest.

More info..

Oh yeah, the Shrimp Lemon Pepper Fettucini was great also!

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Dinners by Dad – 2013 Week 3 – Maple Salmon

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Okay, I know I’m technically skipping Weeks 1 and 2 but I figured I’d use calendar weeks and I started writing about this project several weeks after the project itself started…  oh well.

So tonight my work meetings finished up late and I didn’t get to the store until 5:30pm.  2013 week 2.1 ingredientsToday I actually attempted to find some recipes that used produce and/or meats we already have in the house.  This made it a little more difficult to settle on something that sounded inspired.  We had some potatoes, carrots, and shallots on hand and I’ve been dying to use shallots in something.  Seafood sounded good so I searched around for something with shellfish but didn’t find anything that sounded awesome and then I ran across a Maple glazed Salmon recipe that seemed easy and tasty.

Maple Salmon on Allrecipes.com

Asparagus seems to be the thing to make when we grill Salmon in the summer so I started searching for an asparagus dish and most of them are pretty basic.  For some reason when I was at the store I walked up and down the produce section about 5 times and never found asparagus.  So I quickly googled for “potato carrot shallot recipe” and found a roasted vegetable dish that sounded tasty.  Of course as soon as I found that recipe, I also found the asparagus so I decided to do both.

Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Shallots on Epicurious.com

For the asparagus, I improvised on an onion and asparagus recipe I found that called for sliced onions and onion salt.

Pan Fried Asparagus with Onions on Allrecipes.com

I chopped the onions for this instead of slicing because I thought it would fry up a bit better and I think it turned out really good.  The recipe also calls for “onion salt” which confused me.  I’ve heard of onion powder and garlic salt, but onion salt was a new one.  And I didn’t see any onion salt in the seasonings aisle at the store.  A quick google and I found multiple sites that essentially said it was 3 parts salt to 1 part garlic powder.  So fear not, it’s super simple to make.

On another note, peeling Shallots (which is needed for the roasted potatoes, etc dish) is a pain, a little more difficult than peeling garlic cloves and onions.  This tip seemed to help but I skipped the boiling water part.  Cutting the ends off and making a very shallow slit down one side with a sharp knife made a difference.

One of the other reasons I chose this potato dish over a couple others I found was that the oven temperature it called for was the same (400F) as the Maple Salmon so I was able to put both of them in the oven at the same time.  I started the veggies (which take about 10 minutes to prep and just under an hour to cook) and then worked on the Salmon next.  The Salmon dish calls for marinating for 20 minutes or so then baking for 20 minutes.  So I made the glaze, brushed it on, then put in the fridge.  About 20 minutes before the veggies were supposed to be done I put the Salmon in the oven.  In the meantime I had prepped the asparagus and onions (to which I added parsley and garlic as well) and in the last 10 minutes of baking I fried up the asparagus.  2013 week 2.1 dinnerEverything was done at about the same time and it was all pretty tasty.

A couple final comments..

I really liked the maple glaze for the Salmon, it was great.  I used dried Rosemary in the vegetables but I’m sure chopped fresh rosemary would be better.  From the time I started chopping veggies to putting the finished meal on the plate was an hour and 15 minutes.  There was enough downtime in between tasks that I was able to clean up most of the dishes also.  The roasted shallots were awesome too!

Dinners by Dad – The Basics

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Over the past several weeks of cooking dinner I’ve really started to like it.  There’s something very technical about it that feeds my engineering mind.  It’s sort of cathartic actually, in part because it’s different from what I normally do each day.  It’s similar to sailing in that way as well since sailing requires you devote your mind to managing the sails, getting your mind off your day job while still working your brain.

Okay, let’s get started.

Recipe Ideas:

Since I’m not very creative when it comes to meal time I’ve resorted to Google for recipe ideas.  Most of the stuff I’ve found has been coming from the same couple web sites with Epicurious and Allrecipes.com being the most common.  Allrecipes.com has a cool recipe spinner app for iPhone that I’m using now where you select a type of meal (side, main course, salad, etc), then one primary ingredient (eggs, pork, pasta, etc), and a prep time (20 minutes, over an hour, etc) and it gives you a list of matching recipes.  Since it’s on the phone it makes shopping for the ingredients pretty handy.

Planning Time:

On my dinner nights I have set a calendar appointment for 3pm to remind me to start at least planning dinner.  Because my work schedule allows for it, I usually make a stop at the nearby grocery store at around 4:00 or 4:30pm to pick up anything I need and most days I’m browsing for recipes on my phone while I’m in the store.  This isn’t necessarily a good idea, it just happens to be the way it has worked out lately.  Ideally I would plan the day or night before, check the house for ingredients on the morning of, and make a shopping list for the stop on the way home.  Since I plan just a few hours before dinner and go straight from work to the store, I tend to buy things we already have.

Basic Tools:

A tablet, an iPad 2 in my case, is super handy for checking the recipes while you cook.  And since the web browsers typically support tabbed browsing you can have multiple recipes up in different tabs and switch back and forth while you cook.  Also, after I search for recipes on my phone’s browser and use that to shop, I then open the same recipe pages very easily on my iPad once in the kitchen because Safari and Chrome sync the open tabs between devices automatically.  If you use the Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner app I mentioned above you can save favorites and create shopping lists that are accessible on your iPad and iPhone.

Since cooking is messy, you may want to find a way to protect your tablet from that mess.  There are a variety of cases you can use.  I haven’t personally addressed this issue yet, but I really want this Belkin Chefs Stand and Stylus which unfortunately seems hard to find.

You also need a set of good knives, pots, pans, and a pasta pot or pasta insert for another pot.  If you don’t use a pasta insert, your pasta will sometimes stick to the bottom and burn.  The insert keeps that from happening making pasta cooking almost hands free.

A word about knives:

If you don’t have a really good, sharp, knife you will get frustrated.  I happen to have a couple large sharp knives now and it’s made things much easier.  My favorite new knife is a chefs knife with a curved blade edge so you can rock it over vegetables.  It makes chopping small things (think cilantro, parsley, etc) remarkably easy while saving your fingers.

A word about Garlic:

photo (4)Buy a ton of it! You can put garlic in pretty much anything and it’s good for you.  The easiest way to buy and use it is in the minced form.  You can get this super large container of minced garlic at Costco or many grocery stores and it lasts a long time.  1/2 teaspoon is equal to 1 clove of garlic.  Most recipes call for minced garlic anyway so this saves some time.  If I need full cloves for a recipe I usually just buy them the day of.

Remember the basic tenet of garlic is there is no such thing as too much garlic, so you really don’t have to measure it accurately.

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Dinners by Dad – An Engineer dad learning to make healthy and delicious dinners

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So my wife and I both work full time and we have two small children.  As you might imagine, life is pretty busy.  For the last couple years my wife has gotten more and more into cooking and preparation, even to the point of forming a “Freezer Cooking” Meetup for women to create make-ahead meals.  As a result I’ve been lucky in some ways that I’ve not had to spend much time in the kitchen for the past couple years.  Anyway, my second daughter was born 4 months ago and just after Thanksgiving my wife started back at work.  Work, home, and kids were already enough and then she decided to expand her law practice into California which requires several months of studying and prep for the California Bar.  Clearly something had to give so we made an agreement that it would be up to me to make sure there was dinner on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We picked these days more or less arbitrarily, it simply made sense to have it on a schedule of some kind since we both rely heavily on our calendars for work and home management.

Having been a bachelor for quite a few years before getting married, I am not the biggest chef.  When I cook, you can generally expect top ramen or if you are lucky, a pot of pasta and a jar of Classico sauce (which, by the way, is one of the best tasting and healthiest pre-made sauces around).  For several years, I actually ate dinner at a dive bar every night.  Accordingly, expectations for my meals are not high.

Spaghettis

The rules were simple for my dinner nights, actually only one real rule:  The meal must include some sort of veggie or salad to help make the meal somewhat healthy.  On the first night of my dinner reign, I stopped by my local Safeway and picked up a filet of Alaskan Salmon, combined it with some potatoes we had and pulled out some leftover apple salad that my wife had made for a party.  During the last few weeks of 2012 and into 2013, I’ve been experimenting with different meals and yes, I’ve been perfecting my spaghetti sauce, something I’ll post about later.

As inspiration and influence, earlier last year we spent two weeks on an amazing vacation in Italy and one of our takeaways was that the food we eat at home is too processed.  The quality of every meal in Italy was extraordinary, in part because the ingredients are all fresh and local at every restaurant.  Ever since that trip we’ve been making an extra effort to cook from fresh ingredients whenever possible.  We’ve started getting fresh produce delivered from a CSA and the neat thing about it is that it forces you to be creative with your meals, in order to use whatever fruits and veggies that you happen to get that week from the CSA.fresh-veggies

I’ve got to be honest, the veggie-with-every-meal requirement is actually much harder than I thought.  It’s easy to throw together a simple side salad but you can’t have the same old side salad every night so I have to find alternative ways to get veggies into the meal.  I’m not super creative when it comes to cooking but I’ve been getting better at this.

So now that I’ve set the stage, stay tuned as I write about my continuing journey from take-out techie to an engineer of extraordinary edibles!

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Toaster Oven Recipes – Breakfast Sandwich

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After being frustrated with our normal toaster to the point that we tossed it, I received a new Breville Convection Toaster Oven for Christmas and it has proven to be really useful.  I’ve been trying it out on various meals that would normally use the oven, range, or microwave and so far the results have been very good. Today I experimented with a home made breakfast sandwich using some ingredients I found in the fridge.  Since it was tasty and took less than 10 minutes to make I thought I’d share.  This *may* be the first in a continuing series of Toaster Oven Recipes.  Okay, lets begin..

Ingredients:

  • 1 Slice – Deli Sliced Honey Roasted/Smoked Turkey Breast
  • 1/4 Cup – 4-Cheese Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese
  • 1 – Fresh AA Large Egg
  • 1 Roll – Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins
  • 1 Tblsp – Butter (Optional) (or some other type of spread you like)

I just happened to have these flavors and brands in the fridge, you can adjust based on what you have in your fridge or to your preferred tastes.

Preparation:

First, separate the two halves of the Sandwich Thin Roll and place face up.  Spread butter on the inside faces of the rolls if desired. Tear one slice of Turkey in half and cover one half of the roll overlapping the two turkey pieces to fit the roll.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese to cover the second roll half evenly.

Cooking:

Place both roll halves on the middle rack of the toaster oven, set to Bake, 350 deg, 5 minutes.  (My Breville Oven preheats first, then starts the countdown timer once preheating is complete.  This actually works out well as I’ll describe in a moment.)

Next, crack the egg into a small pan (I happen to have a really small pan that is about the same diameter as the Sandwich Thins) on on the stove and break the yolk.  Allow the egg to cook on medium heat.

Meanwhile, the oven will beep when preheating is complete and start the 5 minute countdown.  Remove the cheese covered half from the oven and allow the meat side to continue cooking.

When the egg is nearly cooked you may want to flip it one time to finish the top, then remove it from the stove and place it on top of the cheese covered roll.  The egg will be done just about the same time as the 5 minute oven timer.  Remove the roll from the toaster oven and put the two halves together to make the full egg, cheese, turkey sandwich.

Nutrition Information: (I am not making any health claims, I am simply providing this for informational purposes)

1 Egg, 1 Slice Turkey, Sandwich Thin, Cheese

  • 300 calories
  • 14.5g fat
  • 24.4g carbs
  • 23.3g protein

Optional butter adds 102 calories and 11g fat. (Other spreads or skipping the butter may be a good idea if your are trying to keep your calories and/or fat intake down.)

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