Another win for the air fryer

Boy, do I wish air fryers had been invented 20-plus years ago.  It has quickly become a very welcome tool in my kitchen, and it doesn’t heat up the house (or the utility bill) like using the oven would in the summertime.

Take last night for example.  For a change of pace, my wife and I were interested in having some chicken for dinner.  Marinated chicken.  Rather than firing up the grill, or turning the oven on to compete with the central air, I decided to use the air fryer to cook the chicken tenders, which had been soaking in herb and garlic marinade since early that morning when I toddled off to work.

I wasn’t completely certain how long to cook the chicken or what temperature, but of course, the Internet helps out with that sort of thing.  Finding some other recipes suggested 400°F for 10 minutes on the first side, then 4-5 minutes depending on thickness and number of tenders on the second side.  Seeing as the whole idea here was keeping the chicken moist (as well as being sure it was completely cooked) this seemed fairly simple.

Popped the marinated tenders into the air fryer, and they got a nice barbequed look on them after the initial 10 minutes.  I checked the internal temperature and we were right on the money.  I flipped over the chicken and got my whole green beans cooking in the microwave.  After their cook time, they would steam for the amount of time the mashed potatoes were cooking in the microwave as well.

All in all, it came out perfectly.   Yes, I know there’s an inordinate amount of butter on both the potatoes and beans, but that’s something I have to work on in the future.  I remember a time when my Dad would eat baked potatoes without ANY butter at all.

Kinda looking forward to the next experiment with the air fryer.  It’s a very versatile tool.  Again, I really wish it had been invented a lot longer ago.  (Yes, I know it’s basically a mini-convection oven, which has been around for a long time..but still!)

The Day When All Tech Went Boom

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of tech.  Though I’m more of a fan when tech works the way it’s supposed to, and isn’t plagued by glitches, or just plain meanness when it comes to working properly.  But today sort of took the cake when it came to tech and me.  And of course, it started early.

When I got to work, there’s a small terminal that I use to bring up reports and print them from the prior day’s information that needs to be catalogued.  I got to work at 7:30a and the last time the terminal had seemingly done anything was an hour prior.  As I went to type in my username and password, I got nothing.  Bupkus.  Nothing was being printed on the screen from the keyboard.  Now with the terminal, it’s basic 1970’s technology in a room of computers that are most definitely from the 21st century.  Yes, it’s a dinosaur held over from a bygone era.  But it’s necessary, as I’m not permitted access to the more reliable (and newer) computers.

Unlike most computers, where there’s a reset button, or the ubiquitous Ctrl+Alt+Del combination would bring solace, this terminal has only an On/Off switch that can be used.  Turn it off, wait a minute and turn it back on.  Usually one gets back to the beginning but today was going to be different.  Three times I tried, and nothing happened.  Sure, there was a green backgrounded ‘CRT’ legend in the middle of the monochromatic screen, but no soap.  I informed the proper person that there was an issue, expected to come back later to find it was fixed, and went on my merry way.

By lunchtime, I had a message from my wife telling me that the automated litter box wasn’t working correctly.  The power light was blinking red, and it wasn’t running or cleaning the box.  I have a security camera set up in the basement to be able to see it at any given time, and checking my phone determined that the rake was stuck in the ‘up’ position near the waste container and wasn’t moving.  Texting back to my wife, I asked her if the box was on or off, since I couldn’t see the light from that angle.  She said she turned it off, as it didn’t seem to be working, so it was better to not have power running to it.  I told her I’d fix it when I got home, rather than having to describe how to fix it herself.  She was grateful and on went my day.

By afternoon, it was getting closer to quitting time.  I happened to see my old bakery manager at the store, and she motioned me over.  Apparently she’d been having issues with her router, and needed technical assistance.  Over the years I’ve fixed her computers, and I even recall setting up this particular router when she got a new one and seemed unable to get it going on her own.  She wasn’t distraught, but she was insistent that she needed assistance sometime today,  I told her I was getting off work soon and I’d see what I could do to help.

Finishing work I headed home and had the litter box fixed in about five minutes.  As I suspected, the rake was stuck because it was trying to lift too much weight.  With each new model that the company puts out, it seems to be using less and less power in their motors.  When it can’t lift the weight anymore it reverses and leaves the pile near the waste box, and continues to pile things up until it gets stuck.  Then the little red light comes on and one hopes that the human will find it before there’s a huge mess.  Depending on where the box is, that’s not always the case.  But I got it fixed and on to the next issue.

My wife informed me as I came upstairs that the Amazon Shows that are upstairs (she has a ‘5’ and I have an ‘8’ on our respective nightstands) were not communicating and when she attempted to have them play music, they responded with something that she couldn’t hear.  Or understand.  So I traipsed upstairs, got them both working and came back down.  At that point I asked if she was interested in taking a little trip with me to see what I could do about the router issue.  My wife hadn’t seen my bakery manager in many years and didn’t mind tagging along.  Too, she had some wine coolers that she decided to bring with her and share while I worked.

The issue with the router wasn’t really all that difficult.  The biggest hurdle for me turned out to be that the router wasn’t hard wired to a computer.  Apparently she was using the router wirelessly to her iPad, her phone and her Kindle, and just needed someone to ‘talk’ to the router to get it reset and protected.  I ginned up a couple of secure passwords, logged into the router’s onboard menu and within about 20 minutes had everything secured.

Upon coming home, it was time to relax.  I wasn’t expecting anything else technical to break and I was blissfully rewarded when nothing did.  June is over, Thursday is over.  On to July.  We’ll see what that month brings.

New Ride

Our vehicle lease was up this month, and we’ve been hard-pressed to find a new one.  We’ve been looking off and on for the past month and a half, and by all rights should have been looking far sooner than that.  With the pandemic, there’s been a meteoric shift in how many new cars are built, what they contain, and how they’re sold.

Considering all that, we were a bit naive about the whole thing, thinking that it was going to be like years past, there would be scads of new cars to choose from and so on.  Going to dealer lots was a real eye opener.  The lots were mostly empty, and what new cars were there were few and far between.  Even looking online one could see that many car dealerships had shifted to a used car mantra, since so few of the new ones were there to be had.

Historically, we don’t have what someone might consider ‘brand loyalty’.  The only car makers that we’ve leased from more than once would be Subaru & Ford (we’ve had 2 Foresters).  In the last 20 years, we’ve leased from Ford, GMC, Nissan, Jeep & Subaru.  Consequently, each time we’re aiming for something new and interesting, so that the next 3 years aren’t ‘more of the same.  Ergo, we were going a bit further afield, though we tend to stay with the same dealership we’ve been leasing from since 2000.   Fortunately, they have a large variety of brands to choose from so that does make it a bit easier, and all the lots communicate with one another, so if we bring back a Nissan to a Hyundai lot, we don’t have to pay to have it transferred back home, no matter the distance.

This year we were looking at Fords, Hyundais, Nissans and Subarus.  It just seemed that these brands had the larger (if such a thing can be claimed) number of vehicles to choose from.  We’ve been leasing SUVs all this time; the only other one we leased was a Ford Ranger in 2000, but that was a bit of a disaster since it was a short box, with a small cab and while it allowed us the freedom to move from one house to another (after we fired the movers) it just wasn’t practical as a ‘family’ vehicle.  Back then ‘King cabs’ existed, but ‘Crew cabs’ weren’t as prevalent as they are now.  And generally if you get a crew cab truck, you tend to end up with a shorter bed.  So and SUV is a better choice for us.

We started out at the Nissan dealership; talked to a salesman about the 2022 Murano, and then test drove a 2022 Rogue.  In 2019 when we leased the Murano we had, we tried out a Rogue and it seemed a bit cramped to both of us.  The Murano was larger inside but not as large as an Armada or Pathfinder, so that fit our needs rather handily.  Too, they had a Platinum (top of the line) model in gunmetal gray (a nice touch) and it had all the bells & whistles you could expect.  It served us well and we really liked it.  So much in fact we were seriously considering buying the car when the lease was done.

The Rogue was nice, but it really didn’t feel quite right to either of us.  My wife had seen a 2022 Bronco on one of the dealer’s websites, and I myself had been liking the Hyundai Santa Fe ever since I rented one to do a long drive to VA in 2017.  Unfortunately the dealership didn’t have any Santa Fe’s (some were in transit, but there wasn’t a hard date on when they would be delivered), so at that time it was a non-issue.

We looked over the Broncos at a different lot, and test drove an ‘Outer Banks’ model.  My initial thought about the Bronco was that it was very compact, but on the inside it wasn’t as small as I was originally fearing.  We went up to a local camping area, swapped out drivers (I tend to do the bulk of our driving, but occasionally my wife does take the wheel, so she needed to be comfortable behind it) and she took it for a spin around a parking lot.  We liked it, but not enough to make a commitment.  Too, the bells & whistles on the vehicle were a little sparse.  The dealer did have one other Bronco, but it was referred to as the ‘Badlands’ model, which was more suited for off-roading (heavier suspension, big knobby tires, larger ground clearance, all the things you would need for spending time up in the woods), not driving to the store for food.  Naturally, IT had the bells and whistles we were looking for.  Like all salespeople so far, this one warned us that we needed to make a decision soon, as he couldn’t hold either vehicle for us, they were on a first come, first served basis.  Understood.

A couple of weeks later, we had contacted Nissan and gotten a 2 month extension on our lease.  The stipulation we had to agree to though was; the option of buying the car outright was no longer on the table, we HAD to turn it in.  No ifs, ands, or buts. At the very least it gave us another month to search and to dither.  We checked the Ford dealership and the Broncos were still there, but something else caught my wife’s eye.  A 2022 BMW 330i sedan that only had 7800 miles on the odometer.  At a reasonable price too.  I wasn’t certain that she was serious; since as I mentioned above we normally only lease SUVs.  She asked me to check the CARFAX on it, and we discovered that it was a short term lease (1 month!) and it came from Ohio.  Whoever leased it apparently wasn’t happy with it, as they returned it to the dealer in Cleveland and the vehicle went to auction about a month later.  For whatever reason, the Ford dealer had purchased it and put it on their lot.

Just for the heck of it, we called the salesperson we had dealt with, asked about the Bronco, and asked if the BMW could be leased.  He was with another customer and said he’d get back to us ASAP.  In the meantime we were going to be heading to another lot to look at a Subaru Outback.  So between the two lots and salespeople we finally determined the BMW was NOT available for lease (one wonders why) and the only Bronco he had left was the Badlands version.  Definitely a non-starter.  I told him that regardless of whether we made out well with the Subaru I’d be calling him at the end of the day to let him know where we stood.

We got to the Subaru dealership and the salesman we were working with (Anthony) had the Outback ready for us and in front of the building.  We chatted a bit, he took my driver’s license to get a copy for our test drive.  Coming back, he had the key fob with him and we took a short drive in it.  I have to say, it hit all the notes for us, even when we were at a 4-way stop and the engine cut out unexpectedly.  Apparently the car has a feature where this happens if you stop for too long, say at a stop sign and the engine would be idling too much.  When you lift your foot from the brake it starts up again.  This feature can be disabled if it becomes too unnerving.  After driving for about 4-5 miles (we hit construction) we decided it was too nice to pass up.

We went back to the dealership and talked about replacing the Murano with this Outback.  It didn’t take too long, the only fly in the ointment was my wife had forgotten to unlock her credit reports, and they were unable to access them.  They were able to extrapolate what her credit number was (suffice it to say, she has a near perfect credit rating, I’ve always been insanely jealous of it) and we signed a base agreement to lease the vehicle.  Since it was a Friday, we weren’t interested in swapping out the cars that day, the Murano needed to be hoed out, things removed, and I wanted to give it a once over with the vacuum as it had been over a year since I’d done it last.  Definitely want to make a good impression, not hand over a sloppy car.  Too, I had a dashcam I needed to remove, my EZPASS stickers and so on.  Monday seemed like the better choice and Anthony was (finally) agreeable to the whole plan.

This past Monday, we met at the dealership in the evening, swapped out the cars and we drove the Outback home.  It’s sitting in the driveway, and it’s ours until 2025.  Hopefully, things will be a little easier when it’s time to choose our next car.