Friday, November 13, 2015

Iced Coffee

I like coffee and in the summer time I like iced coffee. But I don't like paying the price for the canned concoctions. So this summer I figured out my own recipe to make it at home.

The ingredients are simple:

  • 3 cups coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs vanilla

See, I told you it was simple. As I played with this over the summer I figured out how to make it to my liking.

Start with strong brewed coffee. I like to use a dark roast for more of the coffee flavor. You don't have to use really expensive coffee but do use a decent coffee. Cafe Bustello works well as does Gevalia dark roast (when it is on sale) just to give a couple of suggestions. I'm sure you could use espresso but all I have is a common drip coffee maker. If I make a full (12 cup)pot of coffee in the morning by noon, when I cut myself off, I find I have about 3 real measuring cups of leftover coffee. Don't throw it out, make iced coffee.

Then I use 1 cup of milk. I like to use whole milk because I like the richness of the flavor and the texture but any milk will do. I have used skim milk but that is just too thin and doesn't have the flavor I am looking for. 2% is a nice in between if you want to cut down on the fat content.

For sweetener I use ¼ cup Splenda to cut down on the calories. The measurements and the taste are the same. You can, of course, use regular sugar and that does cut the overall cost but adds calories.

Lastly I like to add a bit of vanilla flavor to smooth things out and add a bit of depth to the drink. I don't think it is necessary to use real vanilla extract. I use artificial vanilla flavoring and it works fine for me in this application. I have found in my experiments that I prefer a name brand vanilla to the generic or store brand. I think there is a difference. Do adjust all of the portions to get the flavor that works for you. I played most with the amount of vanilla.

This will make 1 quart of a nice replacement for the canned beverages at the store. I figure that the quart costs about 75 cents using the Splenda. It would be much less if you use regular sugar. If you use Splenda the whole quart will have about 150 calories (from the whole milk) so an 8 ounce serving would have about 37 calories. If you use regular sugar you will add another 137 calories to the quart or 48 calories to the 8 ounce serving. That would bring the calorie count up to 85 per serving.

So if you like iced coffee give this a try. I think it is a great way to use the leftover coffee from the pot and is very handy on those mornings when you just don't want to wait for the coffee to brew.

There is a chill in the air and frost warnings tonight. Autumn is now in full swing. This is my favorite time of the year. I pulled out my flannel shorts and bought a new batch of wool socks. I'm prepared.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015



That is the tag line for an online game, Robocraft, that I am playing right now. The game lets you build your own robot and you can take it into battle against other creations. I find this to be a very interesting game because it isn't just a fighter game. I find myself spending as much or even more time designing and building my bots as I do taking them into battle.

I also like it because my grandson enjoys designing the bots with me. He has just turned 5 and I find it interesting that he shows no real interest in taking them into battle but he loves to help me design a bot. He will them take it into the test mode to see if it works and how it moves but couldn't care less about taking it into a battle.

Well these are interesting times in the Robocraft community right now. The developers are preparing a major rework of the game and they have told the community they are going to do it. They have posted three messages on the in-game forum outlining their changes and why they think they need to do this to keep the game growing and thriving.

As you can imagine, the forum is blowing up with the resistance and negative response from some of the gamers.

- “They are about to kill Robocraft.”
- “Well I guess I can leave now because everything I liked about the game is being removed, replaced, or reworked.”

CHANGE – There is change in the wind and people don't like it. At least some very vocal people.

This got me thinking about change and how it is so difficult for us at times. It doesn't really matter what is being changed or even if it is a popular idea, change, in and of itself raises our anxiety and makes us feel uncomfortable.

We see this every day. You can look on the national scale and see examples such as health care and the Affordable Care Act. For decades we have bemoaned the high cost and inefficiencies of our health care system.

- “The cost is too expensive.”
- “Too many people are uninsured”.
- “The whole health care system is broken.”

So, our government tried to do something about it. After-all the polling in our nation said that 80% of the people wanted something to be done. And so the ACA was the result. And wouldn't you know it, before the program even went into effect people were complaining.
- “it will kill our health care system.”
- “It will destroy our nation.”
- “Its the end of the world.”

Now it isn't the purpose of this post to defend the ACA. But it is interesting that the change it proposed meets with such fervent resistance.

On a more local level we have been complaining for years that the streets in our city were in desperate need of repair. With the recession there had been very little money to maintain the streets and they showed the neglect. So we passed a local option sales tax to raise money to fix them. This was a popular enough idea that it passed rather comfortably. This summer we have started to see the result of that initiative. All over town streets were being torn up and rebuilt. You couldn't drive anywhere without having to negotiate a construction zone. Wonderful, you would think. This is what we wanted to happen.

Oh. Nay nay. (Yes, I like John Pinette.) Now people get to complain about the disruptions. And second guess what is being done. They redid this intersection. What were they thinking? They turned this one way street into a two way – I have to get used to this all over again. The list of complaints goes on and on.

So when I read on the Robocraft forum the changes that are being proposed, I am not surprised by the negative responses. They are proposing change. Change might not be good. Even if it is good I might not like it. Some are already sure they won't like it. They don't know what will happen but they are sure it will destroy the game.

Change. Change is tough. But everything changes eventually. Change is natural and inevitable. Sometimes the change is for the better and sometimes it isn't Often times it takes a while to see and appreciate that a change has been positive. So let's see what happens with the game before we compose the eulogy. Let's try it out and see if we can adapt to the new system before we abandon it.

Speaking of change, the seasons are changing. There is a chill in the air and a nip in the breeze. Winter will be here soon. So we will have even one more thing to complain about.

Until then. . .


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Three Oak Trees Down

We said goodbye to three of our old oak trees today. Frank's Tree Service was out and took down three of our trees that had not survived last winter. Two were very large Red Oaks and one was a much smaller oak that we used to call a Scrub Oak. I don't know that is an official species or variety of oak but where I grew up in Minnesota that was what we called the smaller, scruffier looking oak trees.

Our backyard looks much different now but by no means does this mean we are out of trees. When we moved into this home more than 30 years ago we had about 26 trees on our 1/3 acre lot. Yes, we have a shaded lot. The aerial photo on Google Earth just shows trees and you can't really see a house. We have lost 7 or 8 trees now. Some to storms but mostly just getting old. They told us the rains of 2008 didn't just produce the epic flood but also stressed the trees in the city and we would lose some over the next few years. I suspect that has been a part of the problem as well. I'm no arborist so I really can't make a diagnosis.

We have now lost the trees closest to the house so the backyard is opening up. The Rev commented that we might actually be able to have a patio or a deck now. Sounds like I may have a project for next summer all ready. We shall see.

Autumn is coming. The nights are cooler and the days are shorter. Winter won't be too far away now. They say the Farmers Almanac is predicting a bitter cold winter but I'm hoping it will be mild. In either case I wish you all peace and remember. . .


HyVee equals great service

HyVee equals great service

After 25 years in retail I am always on the watch for great customer service. I must admit that it is not rare in my home town but not always the norm. But yesterday I experienced an excellent example of great customer service.

Let me tell you the story, I was on my way home from a meeting and I stopped at my neighborhood HyVee store to pick up some things for the birthday dinner I wanted to cook last night for my daughter. I was going to feature grilled pork chops and I thought it would be nice to make some applesauce to go with it. I remembered reading that Macintosh apples make the best applesauce so I thought I would give it a try.

I went into the food store and to the apples but couldn't find any Macintoshs. A staff person named Mike was straightening the apples and restocking the display with new ones so I asked if he had any. He thought for a moment and looked over his display but we didn't find any. He even looked a little disappointed when he told me that he didn't have any. I said that was okay and picked up a bag of another variety. Then I went into the back to get my pork chops and also get some other items.

I found everything else without a problem and was almost to the checkout counter when Mike called to me. “Sir, look what I found.” And he held up two bags of Macintosh apples. “And they are even locally grown”, he proudly added. I was very glad to exchange my bag of the other variety for a bag of his Macintosh apples.

As I was going through the checkout I commented to the checker how pleased I was that Mike had found the apples I wanted and had then searched me out to give them to me. The young man bagging my items looked up and said, “Was that Mike? Oh yes, he does stuff like that all the time.”

Well, he may do that kind of thing all the time but I have been in all too many stores where that would never have happened. So, thank you Mike. And thank you HyVee for having HyVee on your staff.

Oh, by the way, Macintosh does make good apple sauce. It was just that right addition that turned a regular Sunday dinner into a birthday feast.


Friday, October 02, 2015

It's time to wake this site up again

Okalhoma City National Memorial
It's time to wake this site up again. I haven't posted in a couple of years. A lot has happened since then. Most importantly for me is that I am now retired. After some 50 years in the workforce I am now collecting some of the benefits.

I hope to post more now. Hopefully on a regular basis. I live in Iowa so it seems to me that my observations about the Presidential races will be a natural. I also have recently gotten into gaming - specifically Robocraft.

Robocraft is a game on Steam that allows you to design and build your robotic crafts and take them into battle. I have acquired quite a collection of tanks, helicopters, hovercrafts and even sniper bots. My grandson and I like to design and build together. He is just about 5 now and really enjoys helping Papa design a bot. He has even learned how to take them into the practice field to test them out. He doesn't think he is quite ready to take one into battle yet. Somehow I don't think that will be long, though.

I will also talk about my life. The Rev and I just got back from a trip to Albuquerque, NM where she had a training seminar. We stopped of in Oklahoma City on the way down and spent a couple of days in Santa Fe, NM on the way back home.

Our visit to Santa Fe was particularly interesting. We stayed at a great hotel near the plaza called Las Palomas. This is really more like a bed and breakfast than your traditional hotel.

With five or six, small buildings like this you really get a feel for living in the Southwest. This is not your typical Holiday Inn.

Well, I will call this done but as always I will still wish everyone Peace and I hope you enjoy your day.