Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Rum Raisins - How to make them for baking

This isn't so much of a recipe as it could be called a kitchen hack.

There isn't a picture this time because it looked like pebbles in some murky brown water, but you'll get the idea.  Really it is that simple.  You just have to let things soak and sit for a day.

It's so easy that it's one of those things you do while waiting for the kettle to boil.

Rum Raisin

Get a 2 cup or 1/2 liter container - or larger.  Feel free to double this recipe with a larger container if needed.  You want extra "room" so you can shake the mixture every so often.

Raisins, your choice - 1/2 cup or 4 ounces or 225 ml
Rum, your choice - 1/2 cup or 4 ounces or 225 ml

This will scale up or scale down based on your needs.  The trick is to make sure that the raisins are all covered by rum.

When you go to use the rum raisins, strain them with a sieve or mesh.  But reserve the extra rum because the now-brown rum tastes awesome straight up or on ice.

... or on ice cream.

To use the raisins in Tapioca Pudding or Oatmeal Raisin cookies, use the strained raisins as you would with any other wet raisins.  They will change the taste of your baked goods, and in a normal sized serving of Tapioca, you will get between 1/2 to one ounce of rum.

If you're a tea totaller or "On Recovery", substitute water or grape juice.

This also works with any dried fruit within reason.  I'm thinking dried Mangoes next time I go to the shops, or perhaps Apricots.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

I quit my job at the helium gas factory. I refused to be spoken to in that tone of voice!

With all due respect...

I believe that it is technically a Helium Gas Mine.  The helium collects at the top of a pocket or a cave underground.  Water seeks its own level, just like helium does.  

Two friends Bob and Frank are lost deep in the jungle when they encounter a tribe of blood thirsty cannibals.

They are surrounded by dozens of the fierce blood thirsty warriors armed with clubs and spears. The leader of the warriors approaches the two friends and informs them they are trespassing on sacred land and unless they can prove they are descendants of the Gods they will be killed and eaten.

Bob and Frank realize they have little choice but agree they will attempt any test to try to save their lives.

The chief warrior brings them a bowl full of angry fire ants and drops three small seeds into the bowl. He informs them they must put their lips in the bowl and suck as hard as they can. If they manage to suck up all three seeds without sucking up an ant then the tribe would know they must be sent from the Gods.

Bob looks wearily at Frank but knowing they have no other options he puts his lips in the bowl and sucks hard. He immediately gets a mouth full of ants and screams in pain as they bite away at the inside of his mouth. Frank now even more nervous takes his turn and to his dismay also receives a nasty mouthful of the viscous buggers.

The warriors leap to their feet and surround the friends, “Now you must die” declares the chieftain. Just as the first spear is raised to Franks throat he screams “Tria-Gan!” The warriors stop dead in their tracks. “What did you say” asked the chief. “Tria-Gan” yelled frank again. Immediately the chief and his warriors turned and fled into the forest.

“Holy shit” said Bob “What did you just say and how did you know it would work?”

“Well” said Frank, “my Mother always told me if at first you don’t suck seeds try Tria-Gan.”

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Why do chicken coops have 2 doors? If they had 4 doors they'd be chicken sedans

Ok, Car Manufacturers.  A Coupe in US English is a car with two doors.
A Sedan in US English is a car with four doors.
Mixing the two is bad US English.

As usual, I refuse to play along with that folly.

But since that really was all about chicken coops and not chicken coupes I will soldier onward and continue shouting at the ocean, Harald.

A man from Maine heads to Florida for a weekend trip.
The man’s wife is coming to see him the next day.

He checks into a hotel room and opens his laptop.
He sends her a brief email to let her know he got to his destination safely.

Unfortunately, he makes a typo in the address and the email is sent to the elderly wife of a minister who had recently passed away.

When the grieving widow checks her email later that day, she lets out a scream and falls to the floor.

Her children come rushing in to find the following on her screen:

Dearest Wife,
I have just arrived. Everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Can’t wait to see you.
Your loving Husband

P.S. : It sure is hot down here!

An old man goes to a restaurant.

He sits down and orders his favorite bowl of soup.

After a small wait the waiter returns with his bowl of soup.

A few minutes go by and the waiter returns and asks the older gentleman how his soup his.

“It’s ice cold” says the man. “Impossible!” Says the waiter “I watched the chef pour it straight from the pot on the stove”

This exchange goes on for quite a while, until finally the old man says “if you don’t believe me just try it”

The waiter throws his hands up and says “fine! Give me your spoon”

The old man smiles looks down at his bowl and says “ahaaaaa, you forgot my spoon”

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Debian Linux - Upgrading from Stable Stretch to Testing Buster

There is a meme that explains why I use Debian Linux.

The Answer Is Always Choose Debian.

Why?  It Just Works.  First time, every time, all the time.  More stable that ever came out from anything I have ever encountered and I have tried them all.

Mind you, I am using Debian Stable which justifiably has the reputation of being a bit behind the times.  All that stability comes from the Debian team testing the daylights out of the software.

At this time, March 2019, Debian is preparing to turn its current testing version into the stable version.  Buster will become Stable some time after summer starts.

Or Fall.  Whenever Debian is ready.  It's ready when they say it is.

I've done this before, over the weekend, and a second time for practice.  The result worked, but my video editor is now the version 5 which enforces this Dark Theme that works great on a phone or tablet to save battery but is garbage on the desktop under XFCE 4.  

The buttons have pearl grey text on a light grey button face.  Whoever made that decision needs to use the software and realize it just isn't good.

The solution with that was to go to Edit/Preferences/View tab.
To get this back to the old look and feel, Change:
Buttons Style to Simple
Theme Request to Light Theme
Theme Detection to Ubuntu

I messed around with it, did a render and the render was of poor quality and glitchy.

That convinced me that it will work - later on after Debian fixes it for them and for me.

If that is the only complaint I have over a complete upgrade to a testing version of the OS, plus all the added software/apps/programs... I'll deal!

I have an afternoon so I am doing it today while listening to a Mexican radio station on the internet with my foot up on the couch.

Standard Internet Warranty Applies:  While I, Ramblingmoose, have made every step and precaution to make certain that these instructions are complete, they are presented for you to follow at your own risk.  I make no warranty expressed or implied, to guarantee your own success.  This worked for me, twice, this week.  Your success may vary.

Make sure you have adequate backups, read the instructions, and all your equipment is in working order.

While I do not guarantee your success, I will be following this instruction set and I fully expect this all to be successful...

For Me. 

To begin.
  • Clone the hard drive.  Not just back it up but clone it.  If your backup drive is on /dev/sdb and your source drive is /def/sda then "dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb conv=noerror,sync status=progress"
  • Mount the clone in a suitable computer as the boot drive.
  • Boot the computer.  
  • If you end up in the recovery with a "initramfs" prompt, as root, "fsck -y /dev/sda1" and reboot to get to your expected desktop.

Now, the computer you are working from now has the backed up/cloned hard drive as your boot drive and have full control.  You are at the desktop.

Start terminal and "sudo su" to log in as root.  If you break anything, you are on your cloned drive and can start over.

Save your old /etc/apt tree to a new /etc/apt.old tree:
  • remove any "apt.old" tree that is there (be careful with this command) "rm -rf /etc/apt.old"
  • Copy the existing apt tree to a new apt.old tree for backup: "cp -r /etc/apt /etc/apt.old"
Prepare the apt tree by commenting out any backports from prior versions and upgrade your sources.list to Buster.
  • Using your favorite editor, edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/stretch-backports.list to comment out all lines or simply remove the file.
  • Edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/base.list and change "stretch" to "buster"
  • Edit /etc/apt/sources.list and change "stable" or "stretch" to "buster"

This will allow you to jump to Buster while it is still Testing but make sure it will stay on Buster when the next Testing is created.

Hold your breath!  We're goin' in!

Now issue the commands to upgrade your computer to Buster:

appstreamcli refresh --force   (to force clear out the appstream system cache)  
apt update    (reports 2485 packages can be upgraded)

apt upgrade  

NOTE: It will be necessary to watch this process if you have a mature system.  
It asked to restart xscreensaver and xlockmore twice. OK
It asked to "Restart services during package upgrades without asking?"  Yes
It failed on a restart for xrdp which is no problem, I will reboot after the process is done. OK
It asked to restart xscreensaver and xlockmore again.  OK
Mine required intervention on the upgrade of multiple packages due to my making changes in the conf files.  
Verify by selecting "N" keep current version or "D" to compare versions 
Specifically crontab, tumbler.rc, smb.conf, sysctl.conf, /etc/default/ufw, xrdp.ini
GRUB wanted to be reinstalled to my boot device.  I selected /dev/sda and /dev/sda1


At this point, the upgrade has completed.

There will be more software to upgrade, it asked me to upgrade another 7xx programs when it checked.

Final Clean Up

Three last steps. 
First, the system itself asked to be updated again via the graphical software installer.  This is equivalent to running "apt update"  and "apt upgrade" once again.

Then a distribution upgrade to bring the software yet again up to date and synchronize all the software levels.  Seemed redundant since the command when issued had no effect.  However, "apt dist-upgrade" will complete the task

And Finally Finally!

To remove all redundant, unused packages as well as to clear things up for next time "apt autoremove"

At this point, you're done, reboot, and use your computer as normal.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

I wonder if Earth makes fun of the Moon for having no life.

So I'm late because my body is still on Standard Time and this is/was the time change day.   Damnit just set it and forget it, Huh?

Anyway, back to the usual frivolities on a weekend!  Dad Jokes usually have a Kid listening so here are two with both!

A child asked his father, "How were people born?"
So his father said, "Adam and Eve made babies, then their babies became adults and made babies, and so on."

The child then went to his mother, asked her the same question and she told him, "We were monkeys then we evolved to become like we are now."

The child ran back to his father and said, "You lied to me!"
His father replied, "No, your mom was talking about her side of the family."

My insanely witty five-year-old, ladies and gentlemen:

Step-daughter: "I'm hungry."

Me: "Nice to meet you, hungry, I'm dad."

Her: "Ahhhhgh could you not say that anymore?"

Me: "Aw why not, sweets?"

Her: "Because I don't like it when you call me names like hungry or thirsty or anything!"

Me: "Alright, I'm not going to say that anymore."

Her: "Nice to meet you, not going to say that anymore."

Saturday, March 9, 2019

What kind of Tick is explosive? A dyna-mite.

When I read this the first time I laughed out loud to it, and did again right now.

Then again living in South Florida, I consider this every time I get into the Jeep!

With a very seductive voice, a wife asked her husband, “Have you ever seen $20 all crumpled up?”

“No” said her husband. She gave him a little smile, unbuttoned the top three buttons, reached into her bra and pulled out a crumpled $20 note.

She then asked “Have you ever seen $50 all crumpled up?” “No, I haven’t” he said with an anxious tone in his voice. She seductively unzipped her skirt and pulled out a crumpled $50 note.

“Now” she said. “Have you ever seen $40,000 all crumpled up?” “No way!” he panted, becoming even more excited,

She said “Look in the garage.”

While you could easily flip that around to be a man telling his wife that little... story,  I rather like the way this next one is written.

Turn about is fair play!

My wife is hard of hearing . . .

A concerned husband went to a doctor to talk about his wife. He says to the doctor, “Doctor, I think my wife is deaf because she never hears me the first time and always asks me to repeat things.”

 “Well,” the doctor replied, “go home and tonight stand about 15 feet from her and say something to her. If she doesn’t reply move about 5 feet close and say it again. Keep doing this so that we’ll get an idea about the severity of her deafness”.

Sure enough, the husband goes home and does exactly as instructed. He starts off about 15 feet from his wife in the kitchen as she is chopping some vegetables and says, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

He hears no response. He moves about 5 feet closer and asks again. No reply. He moves 5 feet closer. Still no reply. He gets fed up and moves right behind her, about an inch away, and asks again, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

She replies, “For the fourth time, vegetable stew!”

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

To Teach Success to Your Dog Is No Harder Than Building A Team

Hey!  Rack!  Want to go Out Front?
Blank stare.

I know what you really want.  I just choose to ignore it.  I have chosen my own reality.

The smarter the breed, the more mental stimulation that they need.   Sure, you gave your dog food, water, shelter.  You take them for walks hopefully with bags to pick up after them. 

Things happen the same time every day, so now you have established a routine.  They don't know why you get up and do things in a certain order, ice cubes to cool off the coffee after you brew it, why you go outside to check the yard at a specific time of day because the sprinklers come on. 

They just like the order.

So when you throw the order off it gets strange results. 

Mid morning mug of coffee happens because you think taking an afternoon nap at 10 AM is just a bit too ... decadent for a busy day.

But you too need a break.

The feet scrape on the floor as you push from the desk and...

The dog trots to the back door.  Back door means that Rack can go explore, water my pots of Basil that keep sprouting in strange spots along with all the other involuntary plantings.

Wash the Basil well before it goes onto the Pizza, ok?

I sigh.

Rack, Front Yard.   I'm not sure if it is a request or an order.
Go water the rock!


There's a duck trying to walk across the yard anyway, I have to convince that beast to go "elsewhere". 

Rack walks to a spot and stops.

I go outside take a step off the porch, the duck walks across the street and draws a box watching me every flap of those feet.   I take a second step when it stops and convince it otherwise.  I'm really tired of pressure washing the concrete because a duck parks itself there when I am not watching.

The duck dance ends with the beast five yards down.  I need my coffee anyway.

Rack hasn't moved.  He's bored.

By the time I have taken the first sip, he's looked out back again, came over sat down and is looking at me through the side of his eye pretending he's not being seen begging for attention.

He may think he's being slick but I think that's the Reality of Dog when you are a herding dog who does not know how to herd, nor chase any other creatures.

Except me of course.

Second sip happens as I take my hand away from petting him, turning his head, telling him that he's the Goodest Boy Ever But You Are Not Surprising Me A BIT!

I think aloud "I'd take you in the Jeep somewhere but not just yet". 

Shouldn't have said that.  Now he's glued to my side thinking he put the words together saying that a ride was happening RIGHT NOW.

Maybe later, I tell him.  Dogs have a really awful sense of what "later" is.

You can indeed have a highly active, highly intelligent Herding dog in a small house in the suburbs.   You just have to be trained.

Cesar Millan is right, people can be trained.  The dog knows how to Dog.  

Herding dogs need a job.  I am Rack's Job.  Truth be told, anyone in the house is family even if they aren't or at least by the second visit they are.  Family is the job.  Even that noisy as hell parrot in the back room's window, Oscar. 

But Oscar is a very different story indeed.

I move my feet off the footstool at my workstation.  

Mistake.  The whole cycle starts over.  Rack thinks that Things Are Happening. 

Yeah, I'm grabbing the headphones so I can listen to that NorteƱo music from Mexicali Mexico that I find I like even if it is "educational for me".  Time to go to the kitchen

After a fashion he's right.  Potatoes go in the oven for the Roast Pork Lunch that he is waiting for. 

Of course he waits for it.  He gets to do his sad little Me Too Routine so that he gets some pork,
excellently cooked even if I do say so myself.

Not every herding dog could do it.  After all, support dogs don't always make the program.  I don't need that much support, companionship is about the extent of it.  Just don't raid the trash or the recycling.  You won't get away with it because the house is too small for that.

Besides, a metal bowl on top of the trash can's lid makes a heck of a sound when it crashes to earth.

But this is how we solved a completely broken down mental state when we got him.  I'm a big loud man.  I never decided that we would change, but he would be given every opportunity to learn how to live with us. 

Teach success.  It's best for dogs, people, even you and me.  Given the chance to excel, most will make an effort to reach your expectations and then leave them in the dust.

It's a team building exercise.  Not one bit different than how I taught programmers how to be systems analysts so I could go off and be a project manager in a traditional setting.  Your Systems Analyst just has black and white fur and a wet nose.

When we got him, his first walk in the neighborhood was on his belly slinking across the street one paw at a time, to meet Lisa and Bill, our former neighbors.  He never learned that people can be fun and exciting.

Until he met us.  Now everything is an opportunity to learn.

Teach success.  It's easy.  

If your dog is barking like it's insane, you're not keeping its mind active.

But it is also your responsibility.  A dog that knows his place in the family, or the pack, lives a longer happier life.

So will you.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Damn dude, you must be very good at Limbo. We set the bar really low and you still managed to go under it.

Now this one is a bit long, but it definitely did surprise me.  

There is a store in Spain that sells exquisite handmade writing instruments.

This store has all kinds of bespoke fountain pens and rollerball pens and even ball point pens. There are pens made of fine hard woods and precious metals inlaid with all kinds of gems. These pens are all handmade by artisans who have been in the business for generations.

But what really sets this shop apart is their ink master. Most people buy pens with black ink or blue ink or even red ink, mostly because they do not know the world of colors of ink available at this shop. These fine inks are carefully blended by this ink master, a prodigy among those with a sense for color. There are colors so deep you feel you could fall into them, so vibrant you'd think they were alive, and so bright you'd think they were on fire. Every color imaginable and some you can't even imagine are available here.

However the ink master is rarely at the store, he travels the world sourcing ingredients for his magnificent inks. Velvet Red ink made from the shell of a Japanese beetle. Royal blue ink made from the petals of an African flower that only blooms once every four years. Making sure these ingredients are available for his customers keeps this whiz of ink away for months sometimes years at a time.

But while people come from all over the world to buy this artisan ink maker's products, very few ever actually think they'll get a chance to meet him.

Because nobody expects the Spanish ink whiz is in.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

To be Frank... I'd have to change my name

Sitting in bed the other night, I asked my wife, “Honey, if I died, would you let your next husband have my recliner”?

She replies, “Well it would be a waste not to, he may find it comfortable”.

Then I ask, “What about my boat”?

And she says, “I just don’t think you will be needing your boat after your gone. We may retire and do a lot of fishing”.

So I did some thinking and asked, “How about my truck, surely you’ll sell it because all of the memories of us riding in it together will be too much for you to bear and too awkward with your next husband”.

She replies, “You know, it is paid for with low miles, I’ll probably hang on to it”.

Then, getting kinda nervous, I said, “Well SURELY you wont let him have my golf clubs”?

To which my wife responds, “Oh no honey, don’t worry about that, he’s left handed”.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Canada Geese and Inline Skates do not mix well

(All Pictures are from - hopefully I got the attributes correct!)

Once upon a time, there was a boy.

He lived in the fabled land of Philadelphia, PA.

Philadelphia skyline (2015)
By Mefman00 - modifications by Maps and stuff (Brian W. Schaller) - Wikimedia file - cropped bottom to make it a 3:1 ratio panorama for use in Philadelphia article infobox; also cropped a bit from top, left and right; increased contrast, CC0, Link

He grew up to become the Police Commissioner and later the Mayor of that fabled land and his word had a lot of weight.

He enjoyed driving through one of the most beautiful places in a major city, and the largest municipal park of any city, at least at that time.  Fairmount Park.

Fairmount Park stretched from the Art Museum and the Rocky Statue along the Schuylkill River and out to the City Line.  The actual green belt stretched well beyond the reach of the city for quite a long way.

As that former Mayor, Frank Rizzo, went through the park, he noted the wildlife and once famously commented "Someone feed those damn ducks".

And the ducks were fed.

By PumpkinSky - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

They weren't ducks, they were Canada Geese.  Personally I can't say I remember ever seeing any Damn Ducks there, just the geese as well as many other birds that would stop by.  Some lived there, others moved on as Philadelphia was in the middle of the Eastern Flyway.  You can always see some wildlife among the trees and grass in that park.

Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park..JPG
By Ngilmour3 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Over time, they built the park up to have more facilities.  The boathouses were improved, parking areas expanded, a grandstand added, and a trail that would stretch from Independence Hall to the Art Museum, then uninterrupted by traffic out to beyond Valley Forge.  It would be paved with black asphalt, and that was how I got involved.

You see a ribbon of "Black Ice" is a perfect place to inline skate. 

Yes, to paraphrase a theme song to a tv show, This Is Bill, And He LOVES to Skate.  (apologies to Bam Margera).

Philadelphia Museum of Art 2005.jpg

By User:Rgordon6~commonswiki - Wikimedia file, CC0, Link

And skate I did.  The main "city" loop, from the Art Museum to Falls Bridge and back was 8.6 miles.  All "black ice".  Smooth asphalt to roll on with 8 and then 10 wheels, mile after mile. 

While eventually I outgrew that trail and explored the trail from the city, west past Valley Forge, and out to Oaks and the Perkiomen Creek, I did eventually log 21,000 miles on inline skates in the years from 1993 on.

Those geese were still there, doing what geese do.  Eating grubs, grass, and small critters they would catch.

Now Birds in general have a quirk.  They tend to flock together and scatter in fear.  The biological response for a bird is to lighten the load before they launch and then fly off to safety.

Yes, they poop where they stand.

Canada Geese are for the most part docile creatures, being as big as a watermelon, but they do tend to stand their ground.

Take a flock of geese and if you're on skates, it is you that is going to stop, not them.

Unless you're a 6'4" 225 Pound skater cruising along at 16 mile per hour, 4 minute miles, and having questionable stopping ability.

Yes, add to all that I'm stubborn too.

"Move it you damn birds!" as I am braking to give them time to leave.

Sometimes it worked.

Other times, they got ornery.  Actually more often than not they tend to stand their ground and hiss.  Oh and they do charge you.  There are quite a few times when you are flying down the trails and there's 10 pounds of grey, black, and white chasing after you.

Stopping does not always guarantee you aren't going to get by either.  They may decide that those loud shorts you are wearing are ugly and you need to be told that.  Flapping wings, hissing, and lightening the load for a launch, they'd come after you.

Luckily they don't tend to corner well and are fairly easy to duck.  Or Goose.  Or whatever is your preference.

At one point I realised I am bigger than they are and would spread my arms wide and start yelling "CLEAR THE TRAIL GOOSE I'M COMING THROUGH!".

Or not.  They'd take their time as I'm doing a break check slowing down in case I end up wiping out on their load lightening move.

That happened a few times.

Arms out wide, the goose refused to yield as it just ducked (goosed?) down its head against its body and started flapping itself.

This one time in mind the goose started flapping around my legs that were now splayed out on some questionably wet pavement to tell me it wanted me to go.  I'm flapping arms at it to convince it to move on.

A Stale Mate.  Me and Those Damn Ducks.

Eventually the "ducks" cleared off and I got up and went on my way.

I picked up one thrown flight feather and stuck it in my trail bag/fanny pack and finished my 30 mile workout. 

That feather rode quite a few miles in there after that.

So the moral of the story is that if Mayor Frank Rizzo wanted those Damn Ducks Fed, you will have to watch out for them on the trails.

The current day echo of that story is that there are quite a few Muscovy Ducks here in WIlton Manors.  A woman two blocks away insists on feeding them.  So they learned that they are probably safer walking lazy circles around the neighborhood and parking under cars and shrubbery and making other baby ducks than they would be in the waterways that they belong in.

That in turn feeds the Foxes, Raccoons, and Opossums that I have seen eating baby ducks here.  So if you feed the ducks, you're really feeding the predators.

Predators good, ducks annoying.  At least what they do under my Jeep.

Better the predation happens than my having to learn how to spatch cook a duck.


Did I ever tell you about the time I walked out onto my little front porch?  A pool table sized area of concrete with 17 ducks by count making more baby ducks?  All hissing at once?

Yeah, I run them off now.  I figure if I can't go after Those Damn Ducks in Fairmount Park in Philly, I can convince them not to mate under my Jeep here in Florida.

After all, ducks mating are violent, but that is a story for another day.