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HomeSurvival Handbook

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AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Have been reading more and more articles about AI and how it can and will be used.   One article I saw a couple of weeks ago showed how a Monet painting could be converted into a photograph by AI.  Not exactly sure why this is something that needs to be done.  Maybe it was just a test?

The pictures here are just a couple of the ones online. [1]

 

 

 

And, of course, if you’re like me, whenever you make a call to almost any Customer Service number you are going to get a computer. Not sure these qualify as AI – but since I’m not talking to a real person – I tossing them into the mix.   Most of the time, I need to talk to a person, so  I just keep saying ‘Operator’ until I get a person if the menu is voice-driven or hitting the ‘ O ‘ key if keypad-driven. It usually works and connects me to a live human.

But have to say my most intriguing encounter with AI to date is when I called to report our phones out of service. Yes, we’re one of the few that still have a hard line.  When those storms came through last week something knocked our phone lines out – no dial tone.  So off I went down the road looking for a signal for our cell phone.  We have no cell service here.  HUGE sigh !

Anyway, found a signal and proceeded to report the outage. Called the ‘Customer Service’ number and was greeted by what I’m calling an AI program.  It was just like talking to a real person.  Pleasant voice (male) and well modulated.

After ‘Hello’, It started the conversation by letting me know I should speak in full and complete sentences as It could understand  me.  Have to say I was a bit taken aback, and my brain was going crazy wondering if I should shorten my sentences?  Which is what I did.

The following is pretty much our conversation,

Me:   We do not have any phone service.

It:   Can you tell me what  the problem is?

Me: Yes, we have no dial tone.

It: Oh, you have no dial tone.  I can fix that.

I proceeded to give our phone number and other requested information, and It concluded,

It:   An  extended outage has been reported in your area and your service should be restored sometime tomorrow.     Do you need help with anything else today?

Me: No.

It: Thank you and good bye.

How strange. Left me wondering what we are in for in the future.  The whole time ‘we’ were talking, all I could picture in my mind was the robot from the movie AI.

Quick computer tip:

David likes to play computer games on his PC to help pass the time, so bought him a couple of new ones for his birthday. Only problem was when he was trying to install them, a box popped up saying something to the effect that “Administrative approval was needed” to proceed.  X-ing out of this pop-up canceled the installation.

If you ever see something asking for ‘Administrative approval’ – try RIGHT clicking on the link.  This will open a menu-box with various options – where you should see an option to ‘Run as Administrator’.  Click on that option and – hopefully – the program will continue.  His did.

 

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4375818/AI-turn-Monet-Van-Gogh-masterpieces-photos.html

Change . . .

not my favorite thing. Never have been one to re-arrange the furniture, pantry or anything else for that matter.  Some would call that bor- ring.   Not me.   I find it  less stressful by keeping things in my comfort zone.    Not to mention, on the rare occasion I have done some re-arranging – I find myself going back to the old location, not finding whatever I’m looking for and trying to remember where I moved it to!

 

None of this doesn’t comes even close to comparing to a change in medication.  I’ve been dealing with lots of meds over the last few years and can recognize them by sight – pretty much.  On opening a new refill the other day; the pill was totally different.  Different shape.   Different color.  I was more than a little surprised.  And of course, this happened on a Sunday so there’s no calling the pharmacy to confirm whether the prescription was the right one.

 

It’s off to the internet to try and find some information. Guess what?   I did!  Found a site that lets you identify pills by their impressions (numbers/letters) and color.   Not only does it identify the pill but also gives any side effects.    The site can also be used to identify pills by generic or brand name.

 

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To see this handy pill identifier tool, visit this link.

 

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Would have been nice if the pharmacist would have told me they had used a different brand – saved me a lot of anxiety.

 

Over the years I’ve made a lot of changes to the food we eat making adjustments for David’s diabetes – and now lack of a  gallbladder.   Even though the doctors did not say anything about a special diet – we’ve found that fried, fatty or foods with high fat content seem to cause some ‘issues’.  That means I’m now on the hunt for tasty, low-fat foods.  Is there such a thing ??!!!

 

One meal he seems to enjoy is a smothered, hamburger steak. Made these the other day when he was feeling – as I like to say – puny.  Served it up with a side of mashed potatoes and some fresh string beans.   What is nice about these steaks is that they are soft and easy to digest thanks to adding in bread.    They were something I improvised (didn’t want to make a trip to the store) –  so there really isn’t a set recipe.   Just used what was here.   If you try making them, add in – or leave out – any ingredients you like.  Note:  The recipe below will make about three (3) steaks, for more just double the recipe.

 

Smothered Hamburger Steaks

 

hamburgersteaks_1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound lean hamburger meat
  • 1 slice bread (old bread is good for this)
  • 1/4 cup water or milk (use more if needed to make bread mixable)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion (or fresh, finely chopped onion)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package of pre-packaged brown gravy mix

Note:  Other add-ins might be . . . finely chopped bell pepper, mushrooms, celery

 

hamburgersteaks_2Directions

  1. In a large bowl, place the bread and cover with water (or milk). Stir until mushy – no lumps.
  2. Add in hamburger meat, black pepper, salt, onion, garlic – and mix until totally well blended. Note:  It is going to be almost like a thick paste.
  3. Spray a non-stick skillet with spray oil and pre-heat  to low-medium heat.  (if you make it too hot the HB steaks will burn)
  4. Cook until done, turning frequently.
  5. Remove cooked steaks to plate and set aside.
  6. Pour off any excess fat from skillet and add brown gravy mix following package directions
  7. Add half-can mushroom soup to brown gravy. Stir with whisk until smooth.  Add water to reach gravy consistency you want.  (We like ours a little thicker)
  8. Return cooked HB steaks to gravy over low heat turning to coat with gravy.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or noodles.

 

Note: Wet your hands when forming the patties to keep meat from sticking to them.

Enjoy!

Apple Danish from Crescent Dough

Weather today is – in a word – Fabulous.  Just warm enough to go outside and cool enough to not get hot while working.

gardenwithweeds

The yard is a disaster just about everywhere – so I’m trying to get a jump on summer and get a few thing done early, i.e., weeding along the fence lines, clean out the garden area, place some tile under the small BBQ, move some rocks (got to watch out for snakes now that it’s getting warm!!), pull up some cedar fence posts that are in the way, and take some debris to the dump. WOW – when I put it in writing – looks huge!

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Seems there is always more to do than I have time and energy for. But, have found that following my mom’s philosophy to do a little bit each day and it will eventually get done – works!!

 

Was happy to see that my little pink Dogwood tree survived.

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Apple Danish

Had the crescent dough pastry again. This time with apple filling – if possible, these were better than the blueberries.  As previously mentioned, this time cut the dough into eight portions rather than six.  Definitely a good call.

 

Before filling, brushed the squashed dough with a mixture of melted butter and Splenda® – wanted to see if Splenda® would make a difference in appearance, taste, etc. vs. sugar.   It did not.  So this is good for those watching sugar intake.

 

For these pastries I made my own apple filling the previous day so it would be cooled.  The recipe below is the one I used requiring only one apple – plenty for the eight pastries  . . . with a little left over. 🙂

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Apply Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 apple – peeled, cored and chopped into small bits
  • 3 TBSP Splenda® (less if you don’t like things too sweet)
  • 1/2+ cup water (approx)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash Cloves
  • 1 TBSP corn starch

Directions

  1. Place 1/4 cup water, Splenda® and apples in a sauce pan over low-medium heat.
  2. Cook until slightly tender – stir occasionally while cooking and if needed add water as needed to keep from drying out.  You want to have about 1/4 cup liquid with the fruit when softened.
  3. Add in cinnamon and cloves, stir
  4. Mix 1/4 cup water and corn starch together in a small bowl and pour about half of the mixture into the fruit. Continue cooking over low heat until slightly thickened.  Adjust the water if necessary.  You want to have a clear, slightly thick bonding agent for the fruit.  Sort of like a thick preserve.  Add in the remaining water/corn starch mixture as needed to achieve this texture.  Allow this to cook for 1-2 minutes.  Allowing it to cook will eliminate the floury taste.
  5. Use or refrigerate until needed.

 

Fill the prepared crescent dough and bake. For those that missed the previous post, bake pastries in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for about 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze.

dewberriesinfieldTo see the original post using blueberries, visit this link.   And if the number of dewberries that seem to be filling the fields is any indication of a good crop – we may even try some dewberry pastries.

 

 

Note: You know me I don’t throw away much in the way of food.  So decided to re-heat the leftover apples and serve them as a side dish with some spiral cut ham we had over the weekend.  Delicious!!!!  In fact they were so good, David wants to have them next time we have ham – guess I’ll be making these spicy apples again even if we don’t have crescent danishes.

 

OK – you’ve probably seen this video as it’s been everywhere – but I enjoyed it so much just had to put it up for those that maybe missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helpful Links

misty_2017Sunday am

 

It’s dreary, damp, outside.  The woods are shrouded in a fine mist as I look across the field . . . and my plans for working in the yard have been put on hold.  Today is one of those days that calls for making a pot of stew –  soup along with some lovely hot rolls.  Guess that’s where that leftover roast will go.

 

In addition to cooking, about the only other thing to do is spend a little time on the computer. One thing I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks is monitoring my gmail to see if someone else is signed on. Horrors  !!!  ( BTW – noticed on the news few days back  that quite a few million Yahoo email accounts had been hacked.  If you have a Yahoo email account you can read more at this link. )

 

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First notice of this gmail problem was a small line at the bottom of the messages in my ‘In Box’ tab  which stated that someone was ‘using this account in another location’. 

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Before I go any further – let me say this notification can appear IF you are signed on to the gmail account with another device, i.e., laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.  To see if one of these is giving the notice, sign off all these devices, then check to see if notice is still there.   May need to refresh the page (F5).

To continue – clicking on the ‘Details’ link gave me the IP address and location. No clue about IP addresses, but locations have varied from Kentucky to the UK.   Not good.  (Note:  There is also a link that will allow you to change your password – after you’ve logged out other locations, of course.  )

 

gmail_4

 

Next on the hunt to find out how to stop this and find out  if it was possible to block them.  To save you a little time, it is not possible to block an IP address from your gmail – seems the people who do this have ways to change the IP address at will.

 

Naturally, my first thought was to change the password – which I did. Multiple times I might add.  And, while this worked for a day or so, seems they were always finding a way back in.  So it’s back to  my search on how to stop this.

After a couple of days hunting and lots of reading, found out that gmail offers a ‘second verification’ option when signing into your gmail (or Google) account(s).

 

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This verification works such that after submitting the account password, you are contacted by Google either by text or phone with a numerical code you must type into the appropriate space before you can access your email account.

Good thing is that you can choose how you want the code delivered – AND they give you additional codes you can use should you be away from home. As a precaution these ‘away from home codes’ are only good for a one time use.

I signed up for this service and have been monitoring my gmail ever since. Will continue to do so – as I know something is bound to happen eventually.

To read more about this 2-step verification, visit this link:

Before finishing up on email – couple of thoughts:

  • ALWAYS sign out of your email account (and any other account you might have) – yes, this is a bit of a bother, but just another layer of security.
  • And, I’ve been using only Mozilla / Firefox to access my email.  Seems to be a little more stable that Internet Explorer.  But that just might be a matter of opinion.

 

Caregiving

We are fortunate in that David is just about back to his ‘pre-gallbladder’ self – and able to do things outside again. While this is great – being a caregiver is not always an easy task.  There are days that seem over-whelming.  Like when my credit card was hacked – this led to other problems with other accounts.  In fact, I spent well  over an hour just this past week trying to get my mobile phone account straight – in spite of the fact that I’d changed the credit card number.  But I digress.

For those of you that may be in a caregiver situation, know of someone who is or regretfully, you may find yourself there one day – I found an online forum that is dedicated to cancer caregivers. It is a wealth of information on care giving, various aspects of the disease, help links and if you are so inclined – a chat room.

I have found that by simply reading some of the forum posts, my situation does not compare to what others are experiencing.   Not that that changes anything here, just puts things in a new perspective . . . and sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

If you would like to read more, please visit this link or share with someone in need.

Now for a smile . . .

 

Click on the image, this will take you to the video.  You may get a pop-up box asking you to ‘sign in’, just click . . . . Not Now.

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Blueberry Danish – from Crescent Dough

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It’s been a crazy week which does not necessarily translate to a good week.  Busy going to doctors and then just trying to keep up with everything at home.  Not to mention, had my credit card hacked – not a clue how this happened – and was contacted by Discover about charges I did not make.  Love that about Discover – they monitor my card activity, check to see if I made the purchase and if I didn’t they remove it  and  I don’t have to pay.  Anyway, waiting on a new card. Sigh.

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‘Danish’ from Crescent Dough

Blueberry_DanishSaw this recipe online earlier this week and decided I had to try it . . . how to make pastries from canned crescent roll dough. They looked so good, wondered if they tasted as good as they looked. (They do!)

Their recipe used a cream cheese filling but for us thought a sugar free fruit filling and a sugar free glaze would be worth trying.   This was one of those rare times I made a trip to the store to get the crescent dough.

Also, rather than purchase a pricey jar of sugar free preserves at the store decided to make my own filling – blueberry, from last year’s berry crop – almost sugar free by using Splenda® and minimal sugar.  Also used powdered sugar made from Splenda® for glaze.  Get recipe for blueberry filling here.  (No  Get recipe for Splenda® powdered sugar here.

Might add, the pastry recipe called for 2 cans of dough . . . but, until I could see if we liked it –  tested it with one  (1) can of dough.  Recipe below will make 12 pastries.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans crescent dough (I used Pillsbury)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup Splenda® (or light brown sugar)  – to brush dough
  • Fruit or cream cheese filling*
  • 1/2 cup Splenda® powdered sugar – glaze
  • Water (just enough to make powdered sugar to drizzle*; flavor is optional: use 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond)

* Thicker is better as the heat from the pastries will melt it some

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blueberry_danish_1

 

Directions

  1. Remove rolls from packaging; do not unroll the dough
  2. Cut through the dough to make 6 slices – place on greased (or parchment covered) cookie sheet
  3. Use a spoon to ‘flatten’ the rolls and make an indentation in each ‘pastry’  (Tip:  butter the back of the spoon to keep it from sticking to the dough)
  4. Brush the pastry with a mixture of melted butter and Splenda® (or light brown sugar)
  5. Place filling into indentation (Use as much or as little as you like or combine fillings, i.e., cream cheese and fruit)
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown
  7. Drizzle glaze over pastries.

 

We had these for breakfast and they were really, really good.  Will definitely have them again.

 

Notes:

Want to mention to be sure to make the indentation deep as the dough will ‘puff’ when baking and the filling could spill over.

Am thinking about cutting the dough into eight (8) rounds  rather than six (6) – less dough, more filling!   Also, may try the butter crescent next time for added flavor  . . . while brushing the dough before baking with the butter/sugar mixture adds a little sweetness to the dough –  doesn’t give a strong butter flavor.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

* Cream Cheese Filling Recipe [1]

 

If you want to use a cream cheese filling alone or topped with fruit,  the following recipe can be made first and set aside.

In a bowl using a mixer, combine:

  • .  8-oz. package of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1  teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://myincrediblerecipes.com/crescent-cheese-danishes/