The Best Eggnog

This is the best recipe for eggnog of all time. It uses bourbon, Cognac and dark rum so it's a touch strong but it's not like you're gulping down nog by the gallon. Also, a high ABV is what you need in a drink containing raw eggs! It truly does get better over time as the ingredients mellow in the fridge. Age, sip, enjoy.

We'll see

Once upon a time, there was a farmer in the central region of China. He didn't have a lot of money and, instead of a tractor, he used an old horse to plow his field. 

One afternoon, while working in the field, the horse dropped dead. Everyone in the village said, "Oh, what a horrible thing to happen." The farmer said simply, "We'll see." He was so at peace and so calm, that everyone in the village got together and, admiring his attitude, gave him a new horse as a gift. 

Everyone's reaction now was, "What a lucky man." And the farmer said, "We'll see." 

A couple days later, the new horse jumped a fence and ran away. Everyone in the village shook their heads and said, "What a poor fellow!"

The farmer smiled and said, "We'll see."

Eventually, the horse found his way home, and everyone again said, "What a fortunate man." 

The farmer said, "We'll see."

Later in the year, the farmer's young boy went out riding on the horse and fell and broke his leg. Everyone in the village said, "What a shame for the poor boy."

The farmer said, "We'll see."

Two days later, the army came into the village to draft new recruits. When they saw that the farmer's son had a broken leg, they decided not to recruit him.

Everyone said, "What a fortunate young man."

The farmer smiled again - and said "We'll see."

Requiem for a Podcast

Two years ago I was excited to start a podcast and I really did it. I recorded 44 episodes, each with different guests, and those episodes got downloaded over 2,400 times (average ~54.5 per episode which is not great, tbh). I published my last episode in January of this year and then quietly put the whole project on ice while I considered what to do next.

By now it's safe to say that I won't be making any more (but you can still listen, at least for now!) so I'm writing this post-mortem to remember what I learned from this endeavor. First, the good things: I met interesting people and had fun talking with them! That was my primary goal and I achieved it, so that was great. But my secondary goal, to build an audience by getting people to share it with new listeners, did not go so great.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for everyone who listened to the show, and the few who followed up to tell me they enjoyed it. And I'm super grateful to the interviewees who took the time to sit down and talk with me. But otherwise, I got practically no engagement by the metrics needed to make a podcast successful--not a single review, even by my guests (no hard feelings, and it turns out this is pretty typical).

Even that was no problem while I enjoyed the process, but eventually the novelty wore off and it didn't feel worthwhile any more. Each episode took around an hour to record and maybe two hours to edit and post online. Three hours doesn't seem like much, but that turns out to be practically all my free time for a week, and I didn't love it enough for this to be my only hobby. Plus I wasn't just worried about wasting my own time, but my guests'... if nobody was going to listen, what was the point of recording?

Anyway, ultimately it was all too much so I quit. I was conflicted at first but now I'm confident that this was the right decision. In conclusion, it was fun while it lasted (and I stuck it out longer than average: most podcasts don't last more than six months before shutting down). I guess I'll keep on starting new projects forever and never stick with anything long term! (Except for my wife, my kids, my house, my pets, my day job, my craft job... you know what, maybe I do have enough going on already after all.)


We adopted a kitty! Chi is a, approximately two-year-old Domestic Shorthair who we met at the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society. She chose me by shaking my hand when I knelt down to pet her, then walking onto my legs and jumping on my shoulders to nuzzle. She's a cuddler.

She is also a crier and this has not endeared her to Jenna, especially at nights. In hindsight it may have been foolish to bring home a needy pet just as we were starting to get a full night's sleep again after eight years of human babies. I still love her though. How can you stay mad at this face?

The best(?) part about cat ownership is that I now have an excuse to make lots of handcrafted toys and pet furniture. I built Chi a feeding puzzle so that she can burn some energy working for her food, and this nice modern scratching bed. My miter saw suffered a critical failure but I hope to fix or replace it soon and get back to work on the next project!

Offspring Update

With both the girls heading back to school, it's a good time to catch up on how they've been doing lately. Natalie is in third grade now, the last year of lower elementary, and Paisley will be starting Kindergarten next fall. It's a big transition for them and even more for Jenna, who suddenly has whole hours to herself each day!

For me, of course, there's practically no difference. Paisley is an early bird like me so we usually eat breakfast together before I go to work on weekdays. Then I come home in the evening and we all play until the dinner-bath-bedtime sequence begins. I guess we can throw "help with homework" in there more as Natalie gets older but that's about it.

What else can I say about my daughters? They're both perfect angels! Paisley's old enough that we can sort of play family board games together and she can mostly follow along, which I've been anticipating for a long time. But playing pretend is still their favorite thing to do with me, whether we're role-playing Chi's Sweet Home, pet store, or Pokemon (almost always Pokemon). Whatever it is, is fine with me; the important thing is that they want to be together and I'm just soaking that up while I can.

Pop-Up Camping

Jenna's family got a small pop-up trailer 25 years ago that they used for family vacations, and now we are using it as our own! Last year we went on several weekend camping trips but I, weirdly, did not write about any of them here. We took four more trips in 2016.

I was raised as a tent camper so the idea of sleeping in a structure with electricity and running water was foreign to me at first. It's starting to grow on me, though, and it's probably easier for the kids. We get a little bit of "roughing it" and a little bit of comfort all in one.

My favorite outing this year was a week-long visit to Door County. I found mushrooms growing in our shaded site, we visited friends, and everybody enjoyed the laid-back island lifestyle. Then again, my criteria for successful camping are simple:
  1. Drink some beers
  2. Make a fire
  3. Enjoy!

Lake Home No More

On the last weekend of May I visited the Krueger ancestral lake home with Jenna, the kids, and my parents. They sold it to new owners and were closing the next week so it was our last chance to visit. The house had been in our family since 1968--my whole life and then some!

It was a bittersweet vacation but I'm very glad we went. We did our best to soak in all the joys of cabin life and visited our favorite Douglas County attractions. Cheese curds & root beer float at A&W on the way up; book, antique, and weirdo nerd stores in downtown Alexandria; ice cream & Ms. Pac-Man at Little Dipper (I destroyed my high score from 2012, while holding a licorice-flavored cone); the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. Of course we made fires and took a boat out on the lake and looked for mushrooms and saw eagles and loons. We also attended an estate sale auction and I held an AK-47.

I'm sad to see the lake home go. But now we can explore new destinations and make new memories on our family excursions. We already have four camping trips on the calendar for this summer and who knows all the places we'll go? “It's opener, out there, in the wide, open air.”