Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

Jen and I are headed off on our belated Luna di Miele!
Our trip includes: Milan, Venice, Florence, and Cinque Terre. It’s going to be a whirlwind tour!

There may be a brief pause in posting, but make sure to come back for pictures and adventure recaps!




Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

My in-laws, in support of my growing bird watching fascination, graciously purchased for me a set of binoculars for my birthday.

I have never owned binoculars.

All of my historic magnification viewing has been through telescopes or camera lenses. When I first tried out my new binoculars I was stunned! Depth! There was depth!

I agree that this is really obvious and something I probably should have anticipated. Still, this fascination got me wanting to learn a bit more about the history of Binoculars.

Without looking, take a guess as to when Binoculars were invented! Once you make your guess, proceed to the comments where the rest of this post pans out.

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

Singular masculine Italian words often end in the letter ‘o’. When you pluralize those words the ‘o’ is switched to an ‘i’.

For example, Concerti would be the Italian pluralization of a Concerto.
Nonno (grandfather) becomes Nonni (grandfathers, or grandparents).

Presumably then I am a DiDonato but together my family are DiDonati

Extra credit: Feminine words end in ‘a’ and their plural end in ‘e’. That means you might have a pizza tonight, or you might have four pizze tonight.

Double extra credit: Why is the word ‘beer’ feminine and the word ‘wine’ masculine in the romance languages? This seems backwards to stereotypical beverage choice.




Other language varieties don’t contain the same gender choices, for example I think Irish languages have both beverages as masculine.

There’s a pretty good wikipedia article on grammatical gender that explains some forms of gender origination, but as to how these particular words claimed their gender? I haven’t a clue.


Car Game

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

I invented an awesome car game!

Name: Person, Place and Thing
Recommended number of players: Any number that is not divisible by three
Game structure: Letter shift
(Letter shift is a classic car game structure that uses the last letter of a word for the start of the next. This game plays off that general concept, but with a unique twist.)

Game play: Players alternate naming a person, a place and a thing. The last two letters of the previous provided answer must appear in sequence anywhere within the following word.

The following string of words would be acceptable:

Person: Mick Jagger
(letters to use: er)
Place: Nigeria
(letters to use: ia)
Thing: Kia Sorento
Person: Tom Waits
Place: Botswana
Thing: Sonata

The two letters are allowed to span a space between words.
As with nearly any letter shift game, repeated words are not allowed.

For the more advanced game the group must work together to try and use all the of the letters of the alphabet at least once as the shifted letters. What makes this extra fun is that the easiest words with which to generate crazy letters are the Things. Unfortunately, this will leave the individual who has to come up with a Person’s name (the hardest of the bunch) with the most challenging letters.

Jen and I tried this over the weekend. In a 45 minute drive we could not complete the alphabet. We also had a few stump words, specifically names with J’s: LL Cool J. and Robert Downy Jr.

Can anyone think of places with an LJ and JR sequence?

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

This weekend we cold brewed some Toddy Coffee.


The Toddy Coffee kit consisted of four parts: a large plastic steeping container, a glass carafe, filters and a plug. Per the instructions we started by placing the filter into the steeping container adding water and coarse coffee grinds.



It was a bit of a back-and-forth between the grinds and the water. Ultimately, the recipe called for 6 cups of water and 12 ounces of coffee.


Once everything was in: a 12 hours wait.

The following morning we placed the steeping container over the carafe, pulled the plug out of the bottom and watched the coffee drip through!



Once brewed, Jen and I prepared our blind taste test.

We ended up first pairing the toddy against a Keurig K-cup brewed directly over ice. We let the temperatures stabilize and put the beverages into unmarked glassware.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 12.44.53 PM

We did three tests:
1. black
2. with cream
3. with cream and sugar

The Toddy Coffee was WAAAY stronger than the Keurig. The internet was all about smoothness of Toddy compared to other brews, but the Keurig tasted so watered down smoothness never entered the picture. Black, with cream, or with cream and sugar the Toddy dominated on flavor.

We’re going to have to try brewing the same beans with traditional methods vs the Toddy.


A Tattoo

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

Darcy visited the new house last weekend and with her came her new Tattoo:


It is, of course, the silhouette of Missouri with a lovely water-color style Cardinal in the foreground.

Mike D: “Is the Cardinal the state bird of Missouri?”
Darcy: “Nope.”

Now, unofficially the Cardinal is kinda the city bird of Saint Louis, Darcy’s hometown. (Fun fact: Per this website the baseball team The Cardinals were named because the team wanted their team colors to be red and white).

And while her Tattoo has genuine personal meaning, I can’t help but LOVE the idea of slightly inaccurate tattoos.

Here are two I came up with:
Pennsylvania with a keyhole in it
A molecular diagram of chocolate labeled “Caffeine”

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

The birds ate the bird feeder.

Decidedly unexpected.


Lawn Care.

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

Wow, landscaping is annoying. Specifically: lawn care.

The HoR had a spectacular 0.14acres of land, of which approximately 50% was grass. This did not take much care. A quick mow every week or two and that was about good. Now that I have a real house with a real lawn I am interested in keeping it managed and lush.

There’s a really great This Old House page that goes into great detail on steps… but it feels pretty extreme. Rather extensive, expensive and certainly not a short term fix. While I’ll probably find myself doing the extreme when my cheap efforts fail, right now I’m going for cheap and easy.

This is what I found:

Seeding: Overseed. And rough up that dirt before you put the seed down.

Overseeding is easy. Roughing up dirt with a bow rake? Not that hard on good soil but on our rocky soil it’s a beast. I could buy more topsoil or get a roto-tiller, but that’s major lawn surgery and we’re back on the extreme scale.

Watering: Twice a day for new grass, 1″ of water each time.

1″ of water is a LOT of water. Websites all over the place suggested putting an empty tuna can on the lawn; you stop watering when the tuna can is full.

I tried this with a traditional impact sprinkler. After 15minutes of watering, the can didn’t even have a 1/4″ of water. I am still trying to figure out how many minutes are needed to get an inch. Right now I’d describe my watering efforts as moistening not watering. Unfortunately, our low yield well pump makes lawn watering for extended periods a little extra tricky.

The This Old House link up above conflicted with this advice instead saying 5-10minutes. I’ll trust Bob Vila on this one.

Mowing: Use sharp blades, cut one-third the length.

This one I can do.
Once I buy a mower.

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