Great Northern Model Train Review

My parents have an O-gauge model train running around their tree. It’s a relatively new purchase, but it was there when we were home with Elijah and he LOVED it. Tyla and I have always thought about getting one for our tree so we decided to pull the trigger this year.

I was visiting Eastside Trains with Elijah a few weekends ago to kill some time and I saw the Great Northern Mountain Mover set. Great Northern is the railroad that ran the caboose that we stayed in earlier this year. I liked that it was related to a family vacation… and I also liked that it was deeply discounted. Tyla and I often do a family Christmas present instead of giving each other gifts so we decided to make this the family gift.

As we expected, Elijah LOVES it. It came with just enough track to get around the tree but that’s plenty to keep him entertained. The box says for ages 14 and up, but he has been good enough with it that we have let him play with it unsupervised a little bit. It takes a lot of coaching but he’s a pretty responsible little kid.

Once he’s old enough that we trust him to not destroy Tyla’s big Christmas village, we’ll set that up with the train. The train should be the right scale to match the village and we’ll have a nice little Christmas display every year.


KitchenAid KOCE500ESS Review

Our house was built in 1990, and when we bought it, it still had the original combination microwave/oven unit. They worked fairly well so we just left them alone and marveled at how nice it will be some day to have cool new features like a spinning tray inside the microwave.

The unit slowly degraded over time and the biggest annoyance was that sometimes the microwave would look like it was running, but when you took your food out after 2 or 3 minutes, you found out that it hadn’t actually been heating. It seemed like a problem with the door sensor so we each had our own routines of how to close the door to avoid that problem.

We decided it was finally time to upgrade. Unfortunately there aren’t a ton of options for these combination units. I looked into buying two separate units and trying to work it into the existing cabinet space but I gave up on that* and handed over the credit card to buy a KitchenAid KOCE500ESS. Kudos to the Rick at Judd and Black for another great purchasing experience and what seemed like a fair deal to me.

The new unit was a few inches shorter than the old one. That extra space generally is less noticeable at the bottom of the unit than at the top, but that means building a little shelf inside the cabinet space. Since the unit is hardwired into the 220v circuit, Judd and Black have to hire that out to a contractor. Couple that with the shelf building and the install fee was going to be around $250. For that price, I was willing to try it myself and I’m glad I did. And when I say “myself”, I mean with help of some cheap labor from Logan.

Logan and I wrestled the old unit out of the cabinet and tossed it in the truck. Judd and Black took that one back at no cost and we picked up the new unit. It took us about 2 hours to install it, but that was largely due to my mistakes building the little shelf. It’s an extremely simple build with the tools I had in the garage, but there isn’t a lot of room for error between having a gap above the top of the unit and making the hole too short so that you can’t slide it in.

The actual appliance is really nice. It has three racks in the lower oven, one of which extends fully out for easy access. The top oven is some goofy combination of a microwave, convection over and broiling unit. I don’t understand how it works, but in addition to using it like a regular microwave, you can do some combinations like using the microwave in conjunction with the broiling element to make crispy hot sandwiches or french fries. You can even put most metals in there. It works out pretty well and really speeds things up. For example, if you want to make a frozen pizza, you can bake one perfectly from start to finish in about 8 minutes. Compare that to the 10 minutes of pre-heat time and 10 minutes of cook time with a standard oven.

But in general, it’s just nice to have a microwave that heats every time and an oven that heats evenly even with multiple racks full. Hopefully this unit provides us with a lot of delicious food for many years to come!

lickingwires newovenin
* After we removed the old unit, I discovered that there was an extra 110 line coming into that cabinet. One of my hangups with doing separate units was that I’d have to run another line over there to power the microwave. Looks like the home builders already thought of that. If this new unit ever dies, I’ll probably give more thought to buying two separate units because it’s so much cheaper.

Fantasy Football – Week 12

2016_week12_breesSo the Seahawks place very well and defeat the Eagles and Patriots but then get manhandled by the Buccaneers?! Hey John Schneider, can we please have an offensive line? What a mess that game was. The defense was really missing Earl Thomas but held Tampa Bay scoreless in the next three quarters. The offense was a mess though and only managed 3 points the entire game. That loss also broke a pretty major streak: “Seattle’s streak is over. At no point during the fourth quarter today were they within one score of tying the game. This is what blowing out Seattle looks like.” [source] That incredible 98 game streak that was ended by the Buccaneers who are now over 0.500 for the first time since 2012.

Our league standings are officially constipated. Andy is still comfortably out front but there is a 4 way tie for 2nd place. Total season points are the tie breaker. As the monday night game ended, I was on ahead of Logan in the total season points by 0.01. Then Rodgers took a knee twice and Yahoo apparently counts that against the QB rushing yards so that dropped me to 0.19 behind Logan. Austin is close behind us in fourth and Tim is 220 points behind in fifth. He’s going to need to get into the playoffs with his record because I don’t think he can make up that point deficit with only 2 games remaining until the playoffs start.

Next week we have some big matchups that will help shape our playoff picture. Andy gets his chance to beat up on me, but then Tim and Luke play each other, possibly battling for that fourth playoff spot, and Austin and Logan play each other battling to break out of the four way tie. Dad and Jim make up the fourth game and one of them will get to put another notch in their win column.

1. Ben
2. Logan (+1)
3. Austin (-1)
4. Andy

  This Week Season All-Time
Highest Team Score Ben had 143.98 Logan had 170.69 (Week 5) Tim 200.51 (2015)
Lowest Team Score Jim had 92.69 Tim had 67.79 (Week 8) Andy had 41.29 (2015)
Biggest Blowout Andy beat Jim by 40.19 Logan beat Tim by 79.46 (Week 5) Luke beat Andy by 113.02 (2010)
Closest Win Logan beat Tim by 7.76 Luke beat Logan by 0.11 (Week 9) Luke beat Logan by 0.11 (2016)
Highest Scoring Player Drew Brees had 40.50 for Austin Ben Roethlisberger had 43.90 for Andy (Week 4) Drew Brees had 60.54 on Tim’s bench (2015)
Longest Active Winning Streak Andy has a 5 game winning streak Was Andy, Ben, Logan and Tim and had 4 game winning streaks Micah (2011) and Ben (2015) had an 8 game winning streak
Longest Active Losing Streak Dad has a 5 game losing streak Was Dad, Logan and Jim had 4 game losing streaks Kyle had a 14 game losing streak (2011)

Stuff You Should Know Archives

StuffYouShouldKnowI’ve written about the Stuff You Should Know podcast before. It’s my top recommendation when people ask me for a podcast that they should listen to. It’s generally approachable by everyone compared to the tech and woodworking ones I also listen to.

If you get hooked, watch out. They have 905 episodes for you to catch up on! I caught that bug and ended up listening to all of them. It’s a lot of content and I know I only retained a fraction of it, but it’s really good entertainment.

I’m happy I did it, but I’m also happy that I’ve caught up. At some point it did kind of become a slog, but that was so close to the end that I just powered through.

Best Of YouTube

The coolest uncle in the world is back with an incredible project: a giant glow wall. I want to do this! This would make for an epic show-and-tell day at Elijah’s school or a great way for the neighborhood kids to kill a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Bacon. Cupcakes. I’m sold.

And third on the list is not actually a video and it’s not even on YouTube because I’m crazy like that. Go listen to the fish fraud episode of Stuff You Should Know. Did you know that if you’ve ordered fish in a restaurant, there’s a VERY good chance that you were served something other than what you ordered? I’ve listened to hundreds of those episodes and usually I have at least a small idea of what they’re going to say, but in this case, I didn’t even know fish fraud existed. Super interesting!