Engineering and Cooking

Tomorrow, I’m going to find out if a skillet and a dutch oven can be combined to make a panini press.   I’m going to try cooking the panini in the skillet while using the dutch oven, maybe with some water in it, to replace the press.

Unless I find something more interesting, the recipe will use some of my home made sourdough bread, thousand island salad dressing, thin sliced turkey and swiss cheese.


Strange Happenings

Thanksgiving Day, my wife and I were preparing the feast for ourselves, our daughter, my mother in-law and several of our daughter’s roommates.

My wife had the radio playing…a real FM broadcast radio…so I know it wasn’t a case of an “internet dossier” being used to target content to me.

The radio station played, in order, Bette Midler’s “The Rose”,  Bread’s “Everything I Own” and  Garth Brooks’  “The Dance”.


When my fiancee was in hospice, she wanted to plan her funeral while her mind was still clear–not the usual thing for 21 and 22 year old”kids” to do.  For the music, she wanted each of us to pick a song.  She picked “The Rose”.  I picked “Everything I Own”.    Since it was her funeral, she decided her song should go first.


I can’t imagine a radio station playing those songs together and in that order, especially on Thanksgiving Day.  And I know my wife wouldn’t “do” that to me by calling in a request, so I don’t have an explanation.  Maybe there are ghosts.  If so, my fiancee sure did add a fitting third song.

By the way, she died November 24, 1983.  If you look that up on a calendar, it’s Thanksgiving Day.

Not Much Happening

Since I’ve been retired, I’ve been slowly (no sense hurrying this) cleaning up the house.  I’m about 3/4 done with a *VERY* thorough cleaning.   Most of the problem is dust.  I’ll get the dust cleaned up in an area and, two days later, it needs to be dusted again.  I’m hoping it’s a case of cleaning new areas of the house is stirring up the dust and allowing it to settle on the already cleaned areas….but I doubt I’ll be so lucky.

Over the summer, I cooked a turkey and I froze the bones.  This week I simmered the bones to make more turkey broth and I just finished pressure canning it.  I have 14  twelve ounce jars cooling on the kitchen counter.  So far 12 of the 14 lids have “plinked”.  I’m hoping the other 2 will soon do the same.

For what it’s worth, I think I fixed my problem of liquid leaving the jars as I process them…I think I had the screw bands too tight.  I did not tighten them so much this time and the broth level in the jars is right where it should be.

I also made some sourdough bread.  Our daughter was home when I took the loaves from the oven and she took one back to her apartment.    She and her roommates are hoping I will let them know when I’m again making bread. 🙂

Lights….ET (“Evil” Twin) called and asked if I could fix the ceiling lights in her kitchen, She said that every time she turned on the lights, the circuit breaker would trip.

The heat from the light bulb was high enough to destroy the insulation on the wires within the ceiling light fixture.   It was actually fortunate that the failure resulted in a short circuit that tripped the circuit breaker.  Had this not happened, the dangerous overheating problem likely would have remained “lurking”.   And, no, she did not put too large of a light bulb in the fixture.  She was using 60 watt ones. The fixture’s sticker said any light bulbs less than 150 watts was OK to use.

One Year Ago

There were three telephone numbers’ caller ID that would *always* make my cellphone ring, even if the ringer were silenced.  My mom’s home telephone number, the Life-Line emergency notification telephone number and the telephone number used to notify me that “you are called to duty and being deployed–leave now”.

The ring tone for these numbers is special as well.  If you’ve ever heard a US Navy power plant casualty alarm….that’s it.  It’s loud, piercing and annoying.  The best way to describe it is that it sounds like a European police car siren, but faster and with a higher pitch.

It was one year ago today.  A town hall meeting with the company executives had started at 12:30pm and, as asked, we all set our cell phones to silent.  About 20 minutes later, my phone rang with the special ring tone.

Everyone looked at me in irritation.  I knew the ring tone and realized it was one of the important telephone numbers.  I looked in horror at the caller ID.


I bolted from the room and took the call.  Afterwards, I went back to the room’s door, pointed to my boss and motioned him to come to the door.   “My mom just died…….”

It was 12:54pm.




Recently Retired Life

It was one week ago today that it was the last time I drove my yellow 1950 CJ3A the 43 miles to work and drove the 43 mile return trip…..I hope, to never have to do that drive again.

It’s been just one week, but  I’ve noticed one major change in how I do things.

When I was working, vacation was used to regain enough energy to be able to go back to work.  My vacations had two phases.  Phase one lasted a couple of weeks and that was “I just want to sit around, not think, not drive anywhere and not do anything”.  My wife and daughter would have to drag me out of the house.  If the vacation was long enough, I’d get into phase two of my vacation–getting out and doing enjoyable things.

I was thinking that first few weeks of my retirement would be the same–a few weeks of “phase one” before getting into “phase two”.   This has not been the case.  I seem to have moved right into “phase two”.  I guess I know I don’t need to hurriedly regain my energy stores.

So far, I’ve been; running three times in the nearby dry riverbed (reminds me of when I was in college), doing a huge amount of house cleaning, cooking all sorts of new and amazing meals and completing a whole lot of yard work.

Once I get the house cleaning and deferred maintenance (painting) done, I’ll start in on the projects that I’ve been saving up.  Along the way I’ve also been collecting the needed tools and parts to complete them without a major expense, so that will be nice to stay busy without spending a lot of money.

The other thing I’ve been doing is helping my wife at her high school.  She’s the robotics team coach and she “drafted” me to be a mentor.   I’ve only been doing it for three days now, but it is pure engineering and problem solving.  Even more important than my passing along knowledge, will be passing along the passion for engineering.


Linux Part 2

Awhile back I complained about Microsoft Windows 10 update processes overloading my internet connection whenever the computer was turned on…and said I was going to get a laptop from the thrift store and install Linux on it.

A friend gave me his older Fujitsu laptop, and I installed my preferred Slackware Linux (I guess it goes with being a retiree) on it.  Once the install was complete, it took only about 20 minutes of tinkering to get all of the hardware recognized by the operating system and everything configured to work as I wanted.

It is nice to be able to turn on the computer and not need to wait for the MS Windows 10 security updates to complete.

All Sorts of Stuff

The past few weeks have been an interesting mix of emotions and they all converge.

My mother’s house was sold a few weeks ago.  So, the final chapter is being written in “mom’s book of life”.  I still have a 25 square foot store room full of her stuff to sort through.  I was in a hurry to get the house cleaned out so the remodeling contractor could get in there and do their work, so some stuff that I wasn’t prepared to deal with is in storage.  Once I get done with that stuff my “mom’s book of life” will be complete.

I have retired effective November 1.  My last day at the telephone company was yesterday.  I drove my 1950 CJ3-A Willys Jeep to work on the first day I worked at the telephone company and 26 years later, I drove the same Jeep on the last day of my working at the company.  It was a nice piece of symmetry.

I was hoping to retire on October 31.  It would have been a sweet memory to go with the older and more somber memory of my fiancee entering hospice.  But as I mentioned earlier, I had to move it because of insurance benefits.

October 31, at just after 9am, I stopped and remembered my fiancee.  “I’m afraid I have only bad news……”, was how the doctor started his conversation about hospice and end of life care.  Someone walked by my cubical at that very moment and asked if I was having second thoughts about retiring.  I said no, but they didn’t believe me.

I opened up with them a bit and told them of cancer stealing my fiancee, how my wife’s stage 3B breast cancer is still gone, but could come back and how we have saved an amount of money equal to 25 years of my salary.   I ended my little tirade by asking them, “Why should I let work take me from my wife?”

I think they understood.

My wife will retire in May and then we will be free to spend our life together.  At that time she will be 58 and I will be 57.  Hopefully we will have a long time together.


On my first day of retirement, I ran 4 miles, I swept the floors of the house and washed the clothes.  Now it’s time to decide what I want to cook for dinner.