Monthly Archives: November 2020

Last night’s dinner

I used to make rugelach, and I know I will again. I found a recipe online, modified it, modified it again, and then finally crossed it with a puff pastry dough recipe.

Since I had hotdogs in the freezer, I decided that Friday night would be the perfect time for pigs in a blanket. I swear this was not the result of Trump’s chants of “pigs in a blanket: fry ’em like bacon!” But also yum.

Yesterday I started the puff pastry dough. I used margarine instead of butter because hotdogs, but I trusted the recipe from Serious Eats before and felt it wouldn’t let me down.

It’s a long process. Most of the time is waiting, but there are so many times of rolling it out before it’s finally ready to use. I knew I wanted to let it rest in the fridge till today, and that gave time for the hotdogs to thaw, too.

I pulled this out of the fridge, and it’s solid, so that’s a good sign. But I hadn’t yet cut it to see if the layers were what they were supposed to be.

Look at those layers!

Well, the layers look pretty good. Encouraging sign.

I was really hoping it would be cold enough today to roll this out with out any problem. I decided to use the cutting board to roll it out and cut it.

I decided to use the pastry cutter that I use for rugelach to crinkle cut the edges before rolling them up.

I do this with rugelach, too. But this going to wrap meat rather than chocolate spread.

There they go!

Put these in the fridge to cool for a little bit.

Egg wash! Almost time to put it in the oven.

Ready to go in the oven! Hope this turns out!

Oh maaaaan. Halfway done!

And done! Will make this again for sure. Some modifications, sure, but overall looks pretty good.

NYT Spelling Bee 11-20-20 final

Ahhh the penultimate 20th of 20. Today’s spelling bee was kind of a rush job for me, so I wasn’t going to push too hard.

Yesterday I missed some words I shouldn’t have. Chief among those is GENII. If you’re familiar with magic publications, you will recognize this immediately. But I didn’t while I was doing yesterday’s spelling bee. I’m disappointed in myself.

Ones I keep missing: NINEPIN, PENNE, PIGPEN,

GIGUE: A lively piece of music in the style of a dance, typically of the Renaissance or baroque period, and usually in compound time. I must have missed this before, and I’m nearly completely certain that I will miss it the next time. It may prevent me from getting Queen Bee. But that’s how it goes.

There was a word today that I was really annoyed was left out, given what else was there.

ALOHA, Hawaiian for hello/goodbye, was included. MAHALO, Hawaiian for thank you, didn’t make it to the word list. Classic 2020. Thanks, but no thanks!

Final score: 50 words for 153 points.
Genius minimum: 153 points.
First word: ALOHA

NYT Crossword 11-20-20 Complete

First Friday I’ve finished in a long time. That brings the streak to five days in a row. It’s almost too bad that I solve the Saturday crossword with friends on Tuesday nights so the streak ends tomorrow. But I don’t really mind. It’s fun to solve it with them. And often well under 10 minutes.

I’ve stated in the past that I cut it off at half an hour. Clearly this took more than half an hour. I had the grid filled out completed in the 29th minute. Of course it has to be filled out and be completely right. That meant going through the entire puzzle clue by clue, changing AYCARAMBA to AYCARUMBA followed by NETTLES to NESTLES and finally AYCARUMBA back to AYCARAMBA.

I opted for 19A Place name in Manhattan: ASTOR to be my highlighted clue of the day because it reminds me of the first time I went to New York City. It was pre-9/11. I was 12 years old. Somehow we got upgraded to business class for the flight there. It’s still the only time I’ve flown business class.

My dad came across times for Blue Man Group. I recognized them from the Pentium III commercials.

My dad waited for I don’t know how many hours to buy house seats as the show had long been sold out.

The show then was at the Astor Place Theatre. And now the Astor Place Theatre is owned by Blue Man Group.

I think I know this puzzle’s theme: HARD.

The NYT Crossword stats section is kinda screwy. The only puzzles tracked are those that were completed. So today’s completion time of 37:50 is well above my average Friday solve time of 31:03. My PR is 16:59 back in October of 2018. What was going on then? I have so many personal records attributable to October 2018.

NYT Spelling Bee 11-19-20 final

Hello from Day 1 of the current Los Angeles curfew! I almost missed writing this Spelling Bee post for reasons that you’ll read about in this upcoming Tuesday’s woodworking blog post. I like that I have a special Tuesday series. I write it Monday or something and set it to post at 10am Tuesday.

But you’re here to read about the Spelling Bee, so I’m going to stick to that.

I found today’s pangram as the second word. Big change from yesterday when I felt I’d never find it. You know, until I did find it. But it got close.

The word NEGGING was not in word list.

It’s so meta!

I literally got out of bed to go to my computer to take this screenshot and post it minutes into the Spelling Bee’s release. It got pretty good response, so that says a lot of good things about the people out there.

Yesterday I only missed two words. I should have gotten melon, especially because Geoff Mellon is recently a father to yet another kid (mazal tov to him), but also because it’s a word I know.

On the other hand, I never would have gotten
NEWELL: The central supporting pillar of a spiral or winding staircase.

Today started easy but then got to dragging. Fought through to the end and satisfied with the result.

Final score: 26 words for 136 points.
Genius minimum: 122 points.
First word: EXPUNGE
Breakthrough word: UNPEGGING

Oh snap! Update! I realized ENNUI is a thing.
Final final score: 27 words for 141 points.

Second update! If ENNUI then INNIE!
Final final final score: 28 words for 146 points.

Missed opportunities: NEGGING, NEXI (plural of nexus?)

NYT Crossword 11-19-20 Complete

An easy Thursday? Could it be? This just shows the unpredictability of Tuesdays and Thursdays. And credit to Geoffrey Bishop for giving me confidence to approach this one with optimism rather than with regular Thursday dread.

I chose 45D as the highlighted clue/answer today because I don’t like it.
45D Little waves, in Spain: TILDES.

Tildes aren’t water waves and aren’t hand waves. That’s not the Spanish word for wave. Rather, the answer is the little wavy line above n in ñ. Dumb.

It was clear to me from very, very early on that this puzzle’s theme answers contained no vowels and was for a specific gameshow.

18A *Creator of 55-Across: MRVGRFFN->MERV GRIFFIN, creator of all kind of gameshows who lent his name to a street in Beverly Hills that goes into the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
20A *Co-host of 55-Across: VNNWHT->VANNA WHITE who never seems to age.
30A *Group of six given for free on 55-Across: RSTLN->RSTLNE, but there are no vowels, so no E.
41A *Co-host of 55-Across: PTSJK->PAT SAJAK who seems to age slowly.
52A *Bad place to land on 55-Across: BNKRPT->BANKRUPT. Always painful to see someone who has the trip and the $5000 and other prizes and who has just one consonant missing decide to spin instead of solve the puzzle, land on bankrupt, and the contestant who has $300 solves the puzzle for the win.
55A *It debuted on 1/6/1975: WHLFFRTN: WHEEL! OF! FORTUNE!
13D What you might cry when trying to answer the six starred clues? CANIBUYAVOWEL.

I’m disappointed that there was no clue Encouraging words repeated by contestants: BGMNY.

Time: 17:47. Not close to my Thursday PR of 13:09 back in October of 2018 but better than my Thursday average of 29:55.

NYT Spelling Bee 11-18-20 final

After much headscratching and staring, I gave up on trying to find the pangram. And like all good things in life, the more you decide to ignore them the more they appear when it’s convenient for you. I think that’s the lesson here, right?

(I have a feeling that when Calah reads this, I’ll be the subject of what must be her testing out this theory.)

Yesterday I missed some easy ones like EACH, HALE, HAVE, HENCE, HENNA, and LECH.

I had never seen HALVAH end in an H.

Then there were the unusual/new ones.

CHANCEL: The part of a church near the altar, reserved for the clergy and choir, and typically separated from the nave by steps or a screen. Of course!
HELVE: The handle of a weapon or tool.

So after I decided to hang it up with 100 points, I took another look and knocked a bunch more out. Now I have no idea what I missed for Queen Bee.

Final score: 39 words for 140 points.
Genius minimum: 105 points.
First word: ELBOW
Pangram: NOBLEWOMAN <-I know, right?!

NYT Crossword 11-18-20 Complete

A surprisingly easy Wednesday puzzle! Way easier than yesterday’s.

I selected 4A ____ Coeur, Mo.: CREVE (pronounced KREEV core) as the highlighted one because I had not heard of this city until this puzzle. And I started learning about it. You know, by watching YouTube videos. It started with trying to figure out how to pronounce the city’s name and turned into finding out flattering and unflattering things about it.

And then I found this charming bit of news coverage!

Once again I didn’t fully appreciate the theme of this puzzle until writing the blog post. Writing these has given me reason to review what I’ve done rather than moving on once I’ve gotten everything right.

As I was going through the puzzle, I realized very quickly that the circles would be filled with a letter that would be counted twice.

17A Betting game in which you could lose your shirt: STRI(P)OKER->STRIP POKER
24A Film cast and crew celebration: WRA(P)ARTY->WRAP PARTY
49A Tickets for shorter lines, good seats, backstage access, etc.: VI(P)ASSES->VIP PASSES
57A Some old mobile devices: FLI(P)HONES->FLIP PHONES
4D Signature feature of a Duracell battery: CO(P)ERTOP->COPPER TOP
9D “OK by me”: IMHA(P)Y->I’M HAPPY
35D Burger King offering: WHO(P)ERJR->WHOPPER JR.
This was a surprisingly difficult answer for me to get. Had to solve like the entire lower left corner to get it.
54D First company to be valued at $1 trillion: A(P)LE->APPLE

34A Almost twins … as suggested by this puzzle’s circled squares?: TWOPEASINAPOD.

I got the answer for 34A well before solving most of the puzzle. At that point I just figured it was a doubled letter in the circle. It hadn’t dawned on me that it was the letter P twice. So two P’s in a pod.

When I completed the puzzle, the crossword filled in the second P. I was not so insightful to actually put that in on my own.

Completing this puzzle in 9:59 isn’t my 7:55 Wednesday PR, but it’s well below my 17:54 Wednesday average.

NYT Spelling Bee 11-17-20 final

Back to shorter puzzles after that behemoth yesterday. And today there were many that I wish were acceptable words but of course cannot be.

I missed a few yesterday that I probably would have found if it weren’t a thousand points to genius level. That list: ENTITY, ITTY, LENIENT, LENIENT, LENIENTLY, LIEN, NINETEEN, TIME, TIMELINE.

I probably would not have gotten: ILLY, LINEMEN, MIEN, MINIM, YETI(!)

LENITY: literary Kindness; gentleness.
LINTEL: One I’ve certainly missed before. A horizontal support of timber, stone, concrete, or steel across the top of a door or window.
MYELIN: Anatomy Physiology A mixture of proteins and phospholipids forming a whitish insulating sheath around many nerve fibers, increasing the speed at which impulses are conducted.

And for today:

Final score: 20 words for 100 points.
Genius minimum: 92 points.
First word: CACHE
Wishes: VANHALEN, CHACHACHA, HAHA, HEEHEE, HENCH <– There are henchmen but no hench? I disagree.

NYT Crossword 11-17-20 Complete

Kind of a slow puzzle today. I don’t know if I was distracted or tired or if it just was a weird Tuesday, but answers weren’t coming to me as quickly as I had expected them to.

Why would I be tired today more than usual? I thought you’d never ask!

Over the last few days, six of the eight planets were visible with the naked eye. After sunset, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were visible. But at about 5:15am, Mars and Venus were visible. For those keeping score at home, that only makes five. I just had to look past my shoes to see the sixth.

I chose the highlighted clue 26A “Man, just my luck!”: OHGREAT as appropriate clue and answer for all of 2020.

I didn’t understand the theme until writing this blog post.

16A Cousin of Simon Says: MOTHERMAYI
Which brings up that Mike Pence calls his wife Mother. It doesn’t matter what the National Review says. Calling her Mother is weird.
24A 2012 Ang Lee film set largely at sea: LIFEOFPI
38A Support for an updo: HAIRPIN
49A What a chop shot imparts: BACKSPIN
61A “Show some courage!” … as this puzzle’s theme can do?: GROWASPINE

Because each answer has one more letter of the word spine. I think that it’s kind of lame that you have both BACK and SPINE-E in the same answer and then spine. I don’t know that it’s bad, but I just don’t like it.

Finished this Tuesday in 17:07.

Woodworking: End table refinishing project (part 5)

Pretty stoked about having most of the components of the table, the time was drawing near to fully assemble it. But permanently. Not just by using gravity to keep the pieces together while they rest on cereal boxes.

With all the decisions up to this point, there was still a surprising amount of work to do, and that included figuring out the entire leg situation and even which screws to use.


The original legs made no sense to me for this table. They were farm-looking, and from the beginning I saw this table as mid-century modern with tapered legs.

“These are the Houston Astros of legs.” -William Hubbs Rehnquist

But when considering MCM legs, there’s so much to think about! From a design perspective, should the legs point straight down or be angled outward?

Straight down is a valid option!
Angled looks good, too, though.

I went back and forth between the two, and I decided on vertical legs. I’ll cover more of this decision next post.

And the legs themselves are important! Which wood? How long? How much?

Luckily for me, I have a lot of flexibility when it comes wood for this project. The table is made of at least two distinctly different woods as it is, so any hardwood should work, right?

Cue: trying to find the thing you want on the internet that should be simple but so, so isn’t.

I found a lot of legs that would be good if they didn’t have that ferrule at the end. I want the legs to be wood all the way down without a metal cuff. Imagine my surprise at how this made tracking down anything good substantially more difficult.

But there were options on Etsy that seemed very promising. Range of woods, hand-turned, decent reviews. Search over, right? Wrong!

The legs were made in Turkey. Hard pass on buying from Turkey. They’re killing Armenians again. Stop it! Stop killing Armenians!

Then I came across a lot of listings with legs made of “sustainable hardwood.” these were later described as being made of rubberwood. More research. Rubberwood is what’s left over when they’re done draining the trees of what they need to make rubber. It’s sustainable because the wood is trash otherwise.

A huge problem with rubberwood is that those with latex allergies are affected very negatively by coming in contact with it. While I’m not having guests over in the near future, I don’t want to think of my home as a hazard for someone I like. I also don’t know how rubberwood finishes.

I contacted a local woodshop because I’d prefer to buy local if I can. Especially during hard times for small businesses. No reply.

Finally I got through to a manufacturer in Illinois that directed me to a retailer in South Carolina. I ordered a set of four 19″ ash legs. Hooray!


I grew up with mainly two types of screws: Philips and flat head. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. I have never preferred flat head over Philips. Flat head is hard to grab at high speed. Philips is the only logical choice. But only if it’s between the two.

I had seen Torx over time. My bike’s disc brake rotors are held on by screws with Torx. Torx allows for more consistent driving and better seating of the driver. But Robertson does something similar. While Torx has a star pattern, Robertson is a tapered square.

I’m done with Philips if I don’t have to use it. I don’t want to strip screws, and I don’t want to have to remove stripped screws. So it’s down to Torx and Robertson at which point it was down to cost. For this size screws on amazon, Torx was the winner.

Just so easy to drive Torx!

And with the first side in, moving on to finish up the entire top part.

The DeWalt impact driver is earnings its keep for sure

With the legs on their way, I had purchased mounts on amazon that were supposed to work fine. I decided to mount those.

Yes, these are Philips, but I didn’t have an option.
The excitement I get from looking at these photos again is kind of awesome.

With the mounts successfully installed, it was time for assembly!

Very exciting day for me!

It seemed the legs were the last things to do, and shortly after I received them, I’d have a great end table.

When has that happened in 2020?

More next time!