How to Spend Your Time

A friend of mine recently became passionate about art.  Before this time, he was spending most of his days online, essentially meandering around, wasting time.  Over the last month or two though, he’s redirected his energy and has created dozens of paintings, things of beauty that can bring joy to other people.

What are you and I doing with our time?  Are we wasting it, or using it to be productive and add value to the lives of others?  I know I need to improve in this area.  I want my time to be spent less frivolously, more wisely.

Best Pie Ever

I’m originally from Georgia. My brother had a girlfriend in high school whose family really knew how to cook.  A lot of Southerners do, which I’ve since learned is not the case everywhere. She made the most incredible pie, called “Buttermilk Pie”. My mom asked her mom for the recipe, and got the old “It’s a family recipe” reply. That’s another common thing in the South — families often aren’t willing to part with their secret recipes.

I’ve never discovered their exact recipe for Buttermilk Pie, but I’ve found one that’s close enough for me. On top of that, I’m not hoarding it. Here it is:

Buttermilk Pie


  • 2-1/4 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 ounces butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and butter. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla and flour. Pour filling into pie crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Don’t let its simplicity fool you.  I make two pies in shallow pans out of this recipe, and I could easily eat them both myself. It’s that good 🙂

Mac Today

My non-tech friends who use Microsoft (insert OS here) are always asking me for help with their computer problems, which usually turn out to be serious virus infestations or problematic hardware/driver installs. My non-tech Mac friends generally only ask for help when they can’t figure out how to use third-party software.

I hear Mac users all the time say “I love my Mac!”. I’ve never once heard a Windows user say anything of the kind. There’s a reason for this, and the reason is that Apple’s OS, hardware and integrated software are exceptionally well engineered.

Misinformation is bad. Computer stability and greater productivity are good. Don’t blindly follow the herd. Instead of assuming that the majority is right, find out for yourself. Do your homework, and make an educated choice based on what you discover.

Your Playground Ad Here

My wife and I took our kids to a new playground today. It had a colossal jungle gym, all made of wood. I’d say it covered half an acre. I remembered seeing a similar one being built on a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood episode. The whole community got together and everyone pitched in to build it. Pretty cool idea really.

The odd thing about this jungle gym: it’s covered with advertising. There are little metal plates nailed all over it, each engraved with the name of a business which had funded a portion of the structure. “This slide paid for by ABC Hardware.” “Entryway courtesy of J. Banks Investment Group”. There’s a prominently placed billboard with at least a hundred names on it, listing who gave what amount of money, and who was on the committee responsible for building the thing. It’s like one of those signs you see at a national landmark, or in a college auditorium.

Who does this? Who builds a playground in a public park and slaps advertising all over it, then creates a big billboard listing every person who paid for it? Must we now promise notoriety and/or profit to entice people to beautify their communities, or do things for children?

The homeless shelter downtown is having financial problems. Maybe they should print t-shirts that say “This person slept in a bed last night courtesy of ABC Hardware.” Perhaps larger investments might mandate something more nearly permanent, like a tattoo on the person’s arm: “Eat at Joe’s”.

Old Fogeys

Who invented computers? What about the internet? Cars? Planes? Refrigerators? Air conditioning?

Old people. Yeah, the old fogeys we laugh at because they aren’t hip to our music and lingo are the same ones who made the way for all the technology we see around us. They provided the foundation for every accomplishment your generation will realize.

Show them some respect, and get to know them. You and I could learn an awful lot from them.

Clear Skin Tips

Here are some tips I keep on file and try to practice.

Substances to intake:

  • Green Tea: rich in antioxidants; reduces skin damage caused by ultraviolet light; helps eliminate cancer-causing free radicals.
  • Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids help keep out harmful substances and allow nutrients to enter cells; rich in protein, potassium, selenium and vitamin B12.
  • Blueberries: possibly the highest food source of antioxidants; excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin E and riboflavin.
  • Carrots: excellent source of vitamin A (a must for healthy skin); high levels of antioxidants; superior source of fiber, biotin, vitamins K, C and B6, potassium and thiamine.
  • Water: pure, clean water hydrates cells and helps them move toxins out and nutrients in; allows the body to sweat more efficiently, keeping skin clean and clear.

Substances to avoid:

  • Sugar
  • White flour
  • Saturated fats
  • Fried foods
  • All of these trap oil and bacteria beneath the skin, causing acne and other skin ailments.

    This information is a condensation of an article at

You’ve got ancestors!

Whoa! I was talking to my dad about our family history this past weekend, and as a result I was finally able to connect my great grandfather with Frampton Dowling, who was probably the first of my ancestors to emigrate from Ireland. Pretty exciting stuff! The crazy part is that I’ve had the documentation for this connection in my files for several years and never noticed it! =S

As a database developer, this has of course inspired me to create my own genealogy software for Mac and Windows, on which task I embarked over the weekend. If you’re into genealogy and have ideas for cool and/or “must-have” features, feel free to leave a comment!

To all those Dowlings out there, if you think you might be a descendent of Frampton Dowling, be sure to check out a book called A Dowling Family of the South, by R.A. Dowling. The book is out of print, but reprints are available at a modest rate from Higginson Book Company in Salem, Massachusetts.