Covering a doorknob hole

When we moved into our place, the front gate had a deadlock and a locking doorknob. This combination created some usability problems:

  • the doorknob, when locked, could be easily unlocked by reaching through the fence and turning the dial on the inside knob. This made it silly to ever bother to lock it.
  • when the doorknob was unlocked, it would turn (of course) but if the deadlock were locked, the gate still couldn’t be opened. The state of the deadbolt was inscrutable.
  • there’s no indication which way the gate opens. So, even if both locks were not engaged, you had a fifty-fifty chance of the gate opening when you pushed it. If it didn’t open, you couldn’t be sure why.

I quickly noticed that most visitors struggled with these conditions. Pushing, pulling, turning, and so on, never sure if the gate was locked, or if it was some combination of the three possible impediments. (You can view a photo of the gate in this post.)

To correct some of these issues, I removed the doorknob from the gate. But this created an unsightly problem — there was a hole where the knob used to be. Additionally, because the gate is iron, I wanted to cover the hole to prevent water infiltration.

It was inexplicably hard to find, but I did eventually uncover the two solutions I needed. The first is a plate that covers the hole where the doorknob used to be, and the second is a smaller plate that covers where the latching mechanism used to protrude.


doorknob hole cover

Here’s what I purchased:

I can’t recommend the Door Hole Plate Cover that I used because the bolt that comes in the package is too large to fit through the hole in the cover. (What the hell‽) I had to enlarge the hole to make it work. But perhaps you can find another brand that’s properly designed. The Door Edge Filler (not shown in my photo above) fit perfectly, but you’ll need to supply your own screw to install it.

For more on my modifications to this gate, see: A Remote, Wireless Gate Alarm


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: Astronumerography

gordon meyer astronumerology book

The prolific Professor Oddfellow has resurrected (and, I suspect, updated) an ancient form of divination and personality reading that combines astrology with numerology. It’s a deep system, but clearly explained and is based on your birthdate, so the occult mathematics aren’t too intimidating. And the result is a lovely figuregraph that makes utilizing the revelations and insights simple. I especially appreciated both the summary worksheet, and the example readings, that the author includes. (I do wish, though, that blank reading sheets were available for download.) Now that this system has been made accessible to a modern audience I expect to see it offered by psychic readers in most large cities. Avoid the rush and get your copy at Amazon then check out Oddfellow’s other books while you’re there.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: The Old Fashioned

The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail with Recipes and Lore by Robert Simonson was a gift from a dear friend, who clearly knows me too well.


Old fashioned Book with Gordon Meyer

Half of the book is filled with inspired and tempting recipes for the drink, but it’s the first half that was truly delightful. Simonson has dug deep to uncover the origins and mythology of the drink, with the result being a love letter that those similarly smitten will savor and enjoy every bit as much as a finely made example of the subject. Here are some of my favorite (lightly summarized) bits:

During the early years of its prominence, the drink was widely regarded as a “matutinal cocktail” — that is you drank it in the morning. An 1874 piece of advice is that “a bourbon whiskey cocktail before breakfast is the best thing for complexion.”

Rather than chipping away at blocks of ice and getting irregular pieces, Chicago bartenders, in 1899, were the first to create uniform two-inch cubes so that every drink got the same amount of ice.

Originally, the Old-Fashioned was served with the spoon used to mix it (as it is traditionally mixed in the serving glass). It was awful manners to remove the spoon and lay it on the bar. “What of the danger, when bending an elbow, of jabbing oneself in the eye with the spoon handle? Well, anyone who drinks as hastily as that deserves to hurt himself.”

The prospects of determining the origin of the Old-Fashioned are dim, but there is fairly strong evidence it originated in Chicago. It was first documented in the city in 1899, along with a list of other “old fashioned” drinks with Gin, Brandy, and other base alcohols that I will now no longer consider to be abominations.

Chicago has long been a whiskey town. Only 300 miles from Louisville it enjoyed a ready supply of Kentucky bourbon. An 1870 survey found that of the $15 million spent annually on booze in the city, fully $9.6 million went towards whiskey. (Aside: in approximately 2010, a bartender who had newly arrived in the city from Ohio, told me she was very surprised how many whiskey drinks Chicagoans ordered.)

In 1945, a visitor at the Drake hotel (perhaps in the Cape Cod Room, which I miss very much) ordered an Old-Fashioned and told the bartender to leave out the fruit, except the lemon. The barkeep replied, in part: “I’ve built Old-Fashioned cocktails these sixty years. Yes sir, since the first Armour was using a wheelbarrow in a slaughterhouse, and I have never yet had the perverted nastiness of mind to put fruit in an Old-Fashioned. Get out, scram, go over to the Palmer House and drink.”

Although the drink is enjoying a comeback, there were some dark times for it not all that long ago. By the final decades of the twentieth century a young bartender was easily stumped by a request for an Old-Fashioned, and the patron ordering the drink was quickly tagged as a hopeless old fogey. (I experienced this at the lobby bar in the Paris Las Vegas not all that long ago!) The American Midwest is one of the key regions that saved the drink from being lost in time.

Simonson makes an interesting point that many drink recipes were forgotten during prohibition. An entire generation of bartenders lost. A consequence that I hadn’t previously considered.

The recipes in the second half of the book feature lovely photographs and mouthwatering descriptions. The section on “traditional” style mixtures is my favorite (especially since I don’t have most of the more exotic ingredients required for the non-traditional ones). I noted a few I’ll try, including an Absinthe Old Fashioned, the venerable Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned, and one that features Old Dutch Genever — a welcome discovery from our classes at the Bols Bartending Academy in Amsterdam.

While I was reading this book I was also impressed with its quality paper, binding, and overall production. I wish all books were as lovingly created, and no surprise, it’s another volume from Ten Speed Press. Get your copy at a nearby bookstore, or if you must, from Amazon. And, cheers!


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Stuff a stocking with history!

Give the gift of Chicago neighborhood trivia and unusual facts with these inexpensive handmade booklets. Get 'em at Volumes Books and Quimby's, or direct at www.BizarreChicago.com


Bizarre Fact Files by Gordon Meyer

#LoveYourLocals #ThingsNotGenerallyKnown

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Christmas is for ghosts

It used to be a tradition for a family to gather and enjoy a good ghost story for Christmas. (See, for example, Dickens’ famous story.) This practice should be revived, and there’s a delightful Haunted Library of the best stories, with neat modern illustrations, that is perfect for doing so.

gordon meyer with book

Locally Volumes is your best choice to pick up one or more copies, but if you must, find the complete “A Ghost Story for Christmas” series on Amazon too.

See also: Book Review: The Canterville Ghost

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

The best way to catch a water leak before it's too late

A water leak can be one of the most expensive accidents to happen in your home. (Ask me sometime about ABT’s installation of a faulty fridge valve that caused over $20K in damage in our kitchen.)

I recommend you buy several Govee Water Leak Detectors and place them anywhere a leak might occur. The loud alarm could save you a lot of money, as it’s easy for a leak to escape detection until after it has done significant damage.

If you know me as a home automation expert, it might be surprising that these are non-automated, standalone alarms. But this is a perfect example of when isolated, inexpensive, and reliable sensors are the best choice. These are “set it and forget it” simple, and you won’t miss an alert due to network interference or a technology mismatch. Additionally, you can buy five of these for half the price of one automated sensor. (Buy from Amazon.)

That said, if you’re hellbent on unnecessary complications, you can apparently get a hub and an app from Govee that will work with these. Instead, I suggest you just convince yourself that you’re deploying a fleet of autonomous robot guardians, then get on with your life and hope that they only problem they ever detect is a low battery.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means


This book by Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras is subtitled The 150 Most Commonly Misused Words And Their Tangled Histories. That’s a fair summary, but it could also be “Schadenfreude for Grammar Pedants.”

Not what you think cover with gordon meyer

This book discusses words that are commonly misused. Many of them are word pairs and often they are homonyms, in which case mistakes are somewhat understandable among those who don’t read very much. But many of them are just words that don’t get used very often. For example, some people confuse “podium” and “lectern.” In fact, until I read this book, I wasn’t completely sure how they are distinct. (Briefly, you stand on a podium, and behind a lectern.)

Another example is “per se,” which means intrinsically, but as the authors observe, “many people persist in sprinkling it incorrectly in their conversations, like a handful of croutons.” The authors also offer an interesting bit of trivia that the word “ampersand” derives from the phrase “and per se,” and alarmingly, Google reports that some ignoramuses are now writing “per say.”

“Peruse” is another word that stood out to me. It’s commonly misused to imply casual observation, but in fact means the opposite — to carefully examine.

The authors also discuss some regional differences, such as the word “revert,” which is commonly used in India to mean “reply.” Go figure. Just don’t try this at home. (Unless you happen live in India, in which case, even the O.E.D. says it’s OK.)

Two more examples: Oral means “pertaining to words,” and verbal means “spoken.” So if someone tells you to do something, they are giving you verbal instructions. And, a pair of oft-confused words that the disgraced Donald Trump might need to learn, venal means corrupt and venial means pardonable (usually relating to sin).

I can’t forget to mention that each word is accompanied by an example of where it has been used incorrectly. Interestingly, many of them are from the Huffington Post, but virtually no media or personality is spared. This alone will make this book appeal to self-appointed grammar police.

Finally, the production values of this book are outstanding. The binding, covers, design, and paper are of the highest quality. I know this an odd thing to mention, but this book just feels good to hold. I bought my copy at Judy Blume’s delightful Books & Books in Key West, but of course you can also find it the Amazon.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

A little free library in Chicago

A new Little Free Library has appeared in the neighborhood! Formerly known as "Little Free Library #76261," you can find it on the 1600 block of N. Wolcott Ave, in the Chicago Wicker Park - Bucktown neighborhood. Follow on Instagram for updates and news. If you keep your eyes skinned, you're sure to see a few esoteric titles appear.

LittleFreeLibrary

Thank you to Scot Kamins for inspiring this, all the way back in 1999 or so. (He has no idea.)

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Is that a haunted bell in your pocket?

The fun mailing list "What's In Your Bag?" provides insight into what I carry when conducting bizarre walking tours in my Chicago neighborhoods. Go ahead, peek into my man purse, I don't mind (this time): What's In My Bag? -- Gordon Meyer -- Issue 74.

gordon meyer bag photo

I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer

Book Review: No Ketchup

This book by Dennis Foley, subtitled Chicago’s Top 50 Hot Dogs and the Stories Behind Them, is a city-dweller’s delight. Foley has credibility to spare (more on this later) and the book is organized in a way that’s perfect for keeping in the glovebox of your car. That way, you’ll never be without guidance when the urge arises to eat like a true Chicagoan.

Gordon Meyer with book

Foley rates and ranks hotdogs across the city (sorry not sorry suburbanites) using a succinct scale and terms defined in the front of the book. By the time you’ve read a few, you’ll find yourself looking for a 4 mustard bottle place that serves thummys with a full M7 complement. (Trust me, it works in the context of the book.)

But the book is more than just hot dog reviews. If a place also makes a good Italian Beef, that’s noted too, for example. But the best bonus is the stories that Foley includes. There are numerous sidebars about history, people, and city life. It’s clear that Foley is true blue Chicagoan — a salt of the earth type that cares about his fellow citizens and has the Irish gift of gab.

I trust Foley’s rankings because he clearly gets around. All the compass directions in the city are well-covered, aided by the fact that Foley used to be an electrician for the city’s Streets and Sanitation department. This took him all over, and the job allowed plenty of time for lunch breaks. (Insert your favorite city worker joke here.) Interestingly, the folksy and casual tone of his writing belie his MFA and law degrees. Chew on that for a while!

Sadly, although this book is current, it was researched and published just before Trump’s pandemic so there will surely be some changes to the restaurant landscape in the coming months. For that reason, I encourage you to seek out local recommendations now, and to forgo using the coupons that are included in the back of the book. They’re only for a dollar off (of a ten dollar purchase) and I’m betting the extra buck will be appreciated by the restaurant.

Foley has done the gut-wrenching (literally) work of eating more than fifty hot dogs over the course of fifty days. (The places that didn’t make the cut are omitted and unnamed.) The least you could do is buy his book, right? I got my copy at Quimby’s Bookstore in Wicker Park, but you’ll find it on Amazon, too. Bonus: If you buy it from Quimby’s stop by the nearby Devil Dawgs — which is in the book — or neighborhood gem George’s, which Foley inexplicably did not list.


I do not accept advertising, but the Amazon want you to know that some links may contain affiliate codes that dangle the promise of earning me a few pennies towards running this site (at no additional expense to you). Humbly, Gordon Meyer