Thursday, October 05, 2017

Hewlett Packard - HP12C Financial Calculator

Look what I found after so many years!  My Hewlett Packard HP12C financial calculator!

I purchased this calculator around 1987 if I'm not mistaken.  That would make it 30 years old.  It takes three LR44  (A76) batteries which I promptly ordered on eBay.  It still works!

The calculator works with Reverse Polish Notation, so you don't enter data the same as a "regular" calculator.  For instance, for an equation like 5+8= 13, you would enter it this way... 5 ENTER 8 +

Definitely takes some getting used to, but I'm very familiar with it and it seems I haven't lost the ability to work it!  And of course, you can calculate things like interest and payments (for real estate, car payments, etc.)

I checked on Amazon and they still sell this calculator, although it is now less expensive than I paid for it in 1987.  I believe it cost around $89 back then.  Today you can get it on Amazon for only $52.88!  But reading the comments, many seem to say that the quality of construction has gone down compared to the older versions.

I'm looking forward to re-learning the calculator and using it again.  I even downloaded a free iPhone ap that looks and works just like it!  The ap is called Touch Fin (financial calculator).  Check it out!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ryan's Favorite Bear

My nephew Ryan wanted me to put his favorite bear on my blog.  He named it "Honey Bear".  It is sitting on his favorite blanket.

He has had this bear ever since he was born.  In fact, my sister got it for free from Target before he was born... so actually, this bear is older than he is!

Friday, September 29, 2017


My nephew got this cool robot!  It fires projectiles, walks, talks, plays music... it even does the moon walk!  Kids got great toys these days!

Ocean Beach - San Francisco - Revisited

A trip to San Francisco wouldn't be complete without visiting Ocean Beach!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Final Fishing Trip For 2017

I did a lot of fishing this season for salmon, but the fish did not cooperate at all. Not even a single bite or bump of my line. It has been a very tough season this year and it just seems that every year for the past three years has been more difficult than the last. Even so, I still enjoy being out there trying. I get to see stars before the dawn over the water. I get to see the sunrise. I don't get that privilege hanging around at home. So here's the sunrise from my final fishing trip of the season taken on 9-20-17. It was nice of the angler in the boat to be in my shot as well.

The image was taken with my small Lumix DMC-LX5 camera. It's a four thirds sensor and I shot the image in manual settings. While it's a "point and shoot" camera, it has basic manual controls. There's no way an iPhone would have been able to shoot an image like this.
You don't always need a top of the line camera to get a shot if you know the basics. This camera cost about $250 many years ago. It has limitations, but you can overcome that if you have the knowledge of how to use a camera.
And yes, it was dark out there when this image was taken!

Friday, September 08, 2017

Business Card From The San Diego District Attorneys Office

Found an old business card of mine when I worked at the San Diego District Attorney's Office!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Not exactly true since I love my job teaching photography, but I found this sign up in Wisconsin. No, I didn't buy it as it isn't exactly true for me, but I decided to take a photo of it instead.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sunrise at Racine Harbor

I went fishing at Racine Harbor last week but didn't catch anything (as usual), but I did get to see the sunrise over the water at least. The sun was peeking through a layer of clouds. The image was taken with a Lumix DMC-LX5 "point and shoot" sized camera, but shot on full manual. The image was processed with Adobe Lightroom.

"13 Reasons Why" - A Netflix Original Series

I have watched "13 Reasons Why" twice now, once by myself and the second time with my wife.  It's a controversial show, no doubt.  Some feel it glorifies suicide.  Others feel it is important to watch so that others can see what goes through the mind of someone who is contemplating suicide.

For me, I think it was a powerful series that all students should watch.  It brings up the issues of bullying in many different ways and how this type of behavior could push someone to do something as terrible as suicide.

I have been to a couple of suicide scenes while working in law enforcement.  My first was a scene of a young boy who took a shotgun and shot himself in the backyard of a neighbor's home.  The other was a murder / suicide of a mom who killed her own son (I believe he was around 6 years old) and then killed herself.  She used a knife and it was the bloodiest crime scene I had ever witnessed.  Blood was spattered all over the walls of their home's utility room and all over the floor.  We had to be careful not to walk on all the blood.  I can still see these scenes in my mind.  These things don't go away.

Suicide should not be an option if you are bullied or depressed.  You can contact the suicide hotline for help.  Call 1-800-273-8255 if you need help.

Realize too that if you commit suicide, it forces those who you leave behind with a lot to deal with and cope with.

I have personally known four people who committed suicide.  One was a student at my high school.  Another was a mother with postpartum depression.  Another was a student from Trinity College who did some internship work at our church.  Finally, there was the son of a family who attended our church who committed suicide while in the Marine Corps.  Way too many people...

So please, do not consider suicide as an option.  Things will get better.  Call out for help.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pink Butcher Paper for Wrapping Beef Brisket While Smoking

Pink Butcher Paper... does it really work? (Photo courtesy of Burnt End Paper)

Legendary pit master, Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas uses it to wrap his beef brisket to power through the stall.  Others just use aluminum foil.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Cubs vs Brewers at Miller Park - Milwaukee. Cubs Win 4-2

My wife and I drove to Milwaukee today to watch the Chicago Cubs play the Milwaukee Brewers.  Cubs won 4-2!

The drive wasn't really that bad... less than 1-1/2 hours from our home.  Because of my handicap placard, we were able to park about 4 rows away from the closest parking spot by the stadium!  Plus, there are escalators moving you to the upper decks of the stadium!

Miller Stadium is really nice, I have to admit.  We really like it and are planning to go see more games up there in the future.  It's less expensive than seeing the Cubs play at Wrigley Field!  But ticket prices are definitely higher when the Brewer play the Cubs than when they play other teams.

We sat in section 415 in the second row.  It's the highest section up in the stadium, but it wasn't that bad really.  We think we will try sitting closer next time.

Because we were so far away, getting closeup photos was not possible.  The photo of Addison Russell at bat is as close as I was able to get with my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens.  The photo of John Lackey on the mound was cropped closer.  Both images were taken with my Nikon D4.  The selfie photo and the stadium photo were taken with an Apple iPhone 6s+.

As I sat in my car getting ready to drive off to go home, a Brewer's fan said to me through my window, "I'll be home in about 5 minutes.  How long will it take you?"  Ok... so he's close by... but we still won today!!  :)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Zenware - Shedder Claws For Pulled Pork

I purchased these Zenware BBQ Meat Pulled Pork Shedder Claws on Amazon for only $5.99.  It made pulling apart pulled pork a lot easier than trying to do it with two forks!  For the price, I don't think you can beat it.  It's really sharp too, so be careful!  It would make an awesome weapon...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Body Worlds - Animal Inside Out

Body Worlds -  Animal Inside Out at the Milwaukee County Zoo!  The best part was hearing a guy ask his girlfriend why she wasn't taking some photos with her iPhone.  Her reply, "The lights are too difficult to get a good shot!" - I was thinking, "Uh, not for my DSLR and knowledge of how to control lighting!!!"

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Present From My Daughter - Cubs Jersey!

My daughter got me a Cubs Jersey with my name on it for Father's Day!  Ok, it's Addison Russell, but hey... it's still my name!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker - 22.5 Inch Smoker

I added a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker - 22.5 inch smoker to join my 18.5 inch smoker!

I purchased it used on Craigslist for $225 including 5.5 bags of 18.6 lb Kingsford Original charcoal.  Not a bad deal overall!  I washed it off and cleaned the grates... it's all good!

I'll likely update the access door with a new stainless steel Cajun Bandit door like you see on the 18.5 inch smoker. Other than that, the smoker is in great condition!

I'll use this larger smoker whenever we do ribs or whenever we have family events.  Approximately 40% more space is afforded to the larger 22.5 inch smoker compared to the 18.5 inch smoker.

Edit Note:  Upgraded the door and latch on the 22.5 inch smoker:

Best Selling Kitchen Items

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Arlington Park Racetrack

Today at Arlington Park racetrack... third race. We learned to pan our cameras. Good times, but hot. Glad we had a breeze though! Thank to everyone who came to learn and practice with me!

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Seventh Smoking With The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker - Country Style Ribs with Apple Wood Smoke

Still on my smoker kick! This time, Country Style Ribs!
Smoked with apple wood with only rub on the country ribs at 225 degrees for 1.5 hours and then removed and placed into an aluminum foil pan and sauced up with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce. Aluminum foil was used to cover the pan up tight and then returned to the smoker for another 1.5 hours. Finally, removed the country ribs from the foil and returned to the smoker's grill grate for 15 minutes.
Not bad! I had to do these country ribs since my very first use of the smoker dried out the country ribs a little too much since I didn't know the smoker yet. But since then, every cook for the last six times have been getting better and better! I'm getting used to smoking now.

I have to say, the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker is really nice.  It is actually easier to do smoking than grilling on my Weber Spirit E-310 propane gas grill.  With the gas grill, I have to stand and keep and eye on the grilling all the time.  But with a smoker and a remote thermometer, I don't do anything except spray some apple juice every now and then, go out and wrap the meat and unwrap it in an hour.  One last trip to the smoker's grill grate and it's done!  It may take longer, but it's really easier on the long run.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Sixth Smoke With The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker and ThermoWorks Smoke Thermometer/Alarm - Baby Back Ribs

A lot of "firsts" on this cooking of ribs!

I got to use my new ThermoWorks Smoke 2-channel thermometer / alarm.  It worked perfectly!  I was able to stay inside and monitor the entire cooking process without having to run outside and open the smoker to take a temperature.  Every time you open the lid to the smoker, you lose heat and smoke.  By having the remote, I could easily tell how the meat was doing and how hot the temperature of the smoker was at the grate level.

I also got a new access door for the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker too!  Made by Canjun Bandit, this new door and latch is a huge improvement over the standard door from Weber.  Made of a thicker gauge stainless steel, the door helps cut down heat loss and smoke loss.  Through the access door, I got to use my new Panacea Products fireplace poker too.  It worked great by pulling coals towards me when needed.

As for the ribs, I used my fishing buddy Jim's secret recipe again, but this time, we cooked the baby back ribs without wood smoke!  My family decided that the wood smoke actually is not a desired component to this particular recipe, so we used the smoker strictly as a slow barbecue pit.  The ribs came out just great!  Still had a "smoke ring" too!  I suppose it was due to the charcoal.

I am getting better at cooking this way.  The thermometer makes it a lot easier to keep track of the cooking process.  Well worth the money in my opinion.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Panacea Products 15347 - 30" Black Fireplace Poker

Never thought I'd blog about a fireplace poker (especially in June!) but I have to say, this Panacea Products 15347 - 30" Black Fireplace Poker is extremely well made!

I needed something to move the coals around in my Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker.  I first used a long wooden dowel rod because that's all I had available at the time.  Bad idea since the coals started burning the dowel rod!  I decided that the best thing would probably be to look into a fireplace poker, so I went to Amazon and searched and found this high quality, inexpensive poker.

I have to say, it is so well made for an item that's under $17 including shipping!  It's all one piece so nothing detaches or can be broken or lost.  It does the job well too!  The small hook at the end of the poker allows me to pull coals towards me or push it to another location.  The hook on the other end allows it to be hung on something too if I want.

I've put a link to the poker if you need one.  Click on it and order one if you have a wood fireplace or a smoker!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Sabiki Rig Fishing - Catching Bluegills and Crappie at Lake Zurich, IL

I went fishing at Lake Zurich today at 7:30 AM.  I caught a 9.5 inch crappie around 10:20 AM. I also caught a bluegill. My fishing buddy Jim caught a bluegill as well. All fish were caught on a sabiki rig.  I've included a couple of Amazon links to sabiki rigs if you need one.  Great rig to catch small fish that are hanging around the pier!  Seems these small fish can't help but bite on the rig!  

Last year, we did the same thing and caught a number of bluegills on it.  If you are a salmon fisher out of Lake Michigan and want to catch alewife as baitfish, use a sabiki rig!!

Monday, June 05, 2017

ThermoWorks Smoke - Cooking Alarm

Just received my new ThermoWorks Smoke cooking alarm with remote!

I've been anxious to get my hands on this item since getting my new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker last week!  This two-channel thermometer alarm has a wireless remote that can go 300 ft (line of sight) from the main control unit.  This means I can now monitor the temperature of the smoker as well as the meat that is being smoked while staying inside my home instead of having to run outside to check on the thermometer on the smoker.  Plus, I won't need to even open the cover to the smoker to check the temperature of the meat either!

The base unit updates the remote every 15 seconds.  This is often enough.  If it were to constantly update it in real-time, it would eat up battery power faster.

I'll pass the two heat resistant probes wires through the rubber grommet that is on the side of the Weber Smokey Mountain smoker.  I won't need to close the top of the smoker on the probes because of this.

I'll have an update as soon as I do another smoking in about six days!  My next smoking will be another brisket!  I hope to do a full brisket this time.  Last time, I only did the flat of the brisket and not the point.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Fifth Smoking - Rib Smoke Off on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18.5"

Today I smoked up three full racks of ribs to see which recipe for ribs was best for my family.

I used the 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker with Kingston Original charcoal (blue bag) for fuel and Pecan wood chunks for the smoke.  The ribs were cooked for 3 hours and then removed and wrapped in aluminum foil and returned to the smoker for another 2 hours.  While other people recommend an additional hour on the smoker unwrapped, my family and I decided that the ribs were cooked long enough, so we skipped the last step of the "3-2-1 ribs" technique.

One rack of ribs had the secret recipe that was given to me by my fishing buddy Jim.  Another rack of ribs had Pork Barrel BBQ's All American Seasoning & Rub sprinkled on it with yellow mustard as a binder for the rub with Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet & Spicy barbecue sauce added after the ribs were wrapped with foil.  Finally, the third rack of ribs had yellow mustard as a binder and Costco's Flavor Connection Rib Rub & Seasoning on it only.

The photo of the ribs have Jim's rib recipe on the bottom right, the Sweet Baby Ray's ribs on the left and the rub only ribs on the top of the plate.

We all agreed that Jim's Ribs were the best, followed by Sweet Baby Ray's and finally, the ribs with only the rub coming in last.  This is not to say that any of them were bad.  We just had to rank them in order of preference.  However, we did think some modification needed to be done to Jim's ribs.

Jim's ribs has flavor by itself and did not need smoking.  We believe that the smoke from the Pecan wood added its own flavoring that changed the ribs beyond what it should have been.  In the future, we believe the best way to do his ribs would be to use his sauce recipe on the smoker with charcoal, but NO SMOKE from wood.  Essentially, this would be like indirectly barbecuing!

The other two ribs benefitted from the smoke.  The smoke added the quality you'd want in a smoked rib.  Sweet Baby Ray's sauce added a lot to the quality of those ribs.  The rub only ribs while good, just did not compete as well as the other two versions that had sauce on them.  In our opinion for ribs, you need sauce!!

Next week... more brisket!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Fourth Smoking On The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker - Pulled Pork

My fourth smoke with the 18.5 inch Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker was a 5.5 hour cook of a 5.75 lb pork butt.  I've always wondered why this cut of meat was called a butt because it actually is the upper shoulder portion of the pig, not an actual butt.  Whatever... it's what many of us use to make "pulled pork".

I had watched a lot of YouTube videos describing how to smoke a pork butt and it seemed the key was to smoke it at 250 to 275 degrees at one to one and a half hours per pound.  Internal temperature should reach at least 195 degrees to 210 degrees.

I used Hickory wood for the smoking and the usual Kingsford Original (blue bag) charcoal for the fuel.  The seasoning was another rub that I purchased at Costco... Pork Barrel BBQ's All American Seasoning and Rub.  It was less colorful as the Costco rub I had been using for the past three cooks, but it seemed to taste essentially the same to me.  I used yellow mustard as a binder to help the rub stick.  It has been said that you won't taste the mustard after the cooking is done.  So far, I think that's a true statement.

I was able to maintain the temperature of the smoker at 250 to 275 degrees throughout the 5.5 hours.  I suppose I am getting better at regulating the bottom vent's air flow with practice!  It was less windy today however.

I basted the pork butt with apple juice at the first and second hour but by 2.5 hours, I decided it was time to wrap the meat with aluminum foil.  I added additional apple juice to let the meat stay moist in the foil.  I kept monitoring the temperature for the next 3 hours.  I also put some Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce in a cast iron skillet and heated it up in the smoker for about 1/2 hour.

After the smoking was done, I took the butt out of the smoker and placed it on a cutting board and let the butt sit for at least one half hour to let the juices get back into the meat before attempting to pull the meat apart.  The bone from the butt came out easily without any meat on it... a true sign that the butt was done.  The butt came apart really easy.

I guess I'm getting better at smoking!  In a few days, I'm going to attempt three different styles of ribs on the smoker!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Smoking A Brisket on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Today was the third smoking using the Weber Smokey Mountain smoker!  It was my first time smoking brisket!

The brisket was only about 4-5 lbs. I used Kingston Original charcoal and positioned the briquettes using the Minion method of putting hot coals in the middle surrounded by unlit coals.  Because the meat was not a full brisket, the cook time was a lot less time than what some experts need for a full brisket. The rub was applied about a day and half in advance only because I didn't get a chance to cook it yesterday! I used Costco's Rib Rub and smoked with Apple wood.  Initial cook time was 2 hours and I sprayed the brisket after the first hour with apple juice and also at the second hour when the brisket reached what is called the "Stall" at 195 degrees where the meat doesn't seem to get any hotter.  I took it off the smoker at this point and put it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 1/2 hour inside of a cooler.  After putting the brisket back on the smoker, it stayed there for a total of two more hours.  From start to finish, the time was 4.5 hours.

The pit temp was ranging between 225 degrees and 325 degrees!  Since there was direct sunlight on the smoker, the temp rose as high as 325 degrees, but I was always able to bring that temperature down by closing down the lower air vents.  I tried to keep it as close to 250 to 275 degrees.  I can't wait for my new ThermoWorks Smoke thermometer / alarm to arrive.  With it, I will know when temperatures of both the pit and also the meat go above or below preset temperature levels.  The remote will allow me to stay indoors and still monitor the temperatures.

I took the brisket off the smoker and opened up the aluminum foil and let the meat rest for at least 1/2 hour.  My nephew Frank and his family came over and he sliced the brisket.  Frank has been smoking meat for quite a while now and has successfully used his Traeger pellet smoker for many family occasions.  He said the brisket wasn't bad for a first attempt!  However, I believe I could have left the brisket on for perhaps another hour if I wanted it more tender.  There was plenty of juice in the meat to have kept it going.

Many barbecue fans say that doing a good brisket is the test of the skill of the cook.  I can see that we'll be doing this more often!