Sunday, March 18, 2018

Why dont you ever see rhinos hiding in trees? They're good at it!

A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds.

Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair.

He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not.

He went back and begged the friars to close.
They ignored him.

So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close.

Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop.
Terrified, they did so thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

I’m not bragging, but I made six figures this year so they named me the year’s worst employee at the toy factory...

The Thumb King

Once upon a time, there was a Land of Fingers.

Everyone who lived in the Land of Fingers was, appropriately enough, a Finger.

All the Fingers, from mighty Index to cute little Pinky lived together in peace and harmony.

Then one day came Thumb. Thumb was like the Fingers, but different. Shorter, sturdier. Turns out, Thumb worked quite well with the individual Fingers, and everyone found that they could perform better and do more with Thumb's help.

Thumb became so useful to the Fingers that soon they found they could not live without his help.

Thumb began to make demands of the Fingers; first it was just more pay, but then he wanted more and more. A diamond-studded glove, a luxury car, the list of demands became longer and longer.

But what could the Fingers do? They resented Thumb's demands, but needed his help far too much to risk alienating him.

Eventually, Thumb was elected King. And if you think regular Thumb was demanding, King Thumb was worse.

Soon, all the Fingers began to resent King Thumb, for his rulings were tyrannical, and he never, ever trimmed his nail.

The Fingers began to despair, for they feared they would never be able to stand up to King Thumb.

Until one day, when Pinky realized that the Fingers could indeed stand up to the tyranny of King Thumb.

Until then, everyone thought that it was impossible to stand up to Thumb, but Pinky remembered that all Thumbs are, in fact, opposable.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Installing a Software Defined Radio on Debian Linux 9 using RTL-SDR

So this one is so simple that it's only three steps (as root)

  • Get the radio - and a GOOD antenna.  The one that came with the thing is crap. is a good first resource to learn about this stuff, but you should be able to get one online from $10 to $20.
  • Install the driver software - It's in the Repository.  apt install rtl-sdr librtlsdr-dev
  • Install the tuner of your choice - gqrx is in the Repo.  apt install gqrx-sdr

Then have fun.  This was GQRX and the RTL-SDR tuned into Radio Martí En Español from my South Florida home.  Your Income Tax Dollars At Work.  I clearly need a better antenna for Shortwave.

A short description.  RTL-SDR is a Software Defined Radio built on specific set of chips including the RTL tuner as well as others.  They are thumb drive sized and work out of the box from 24MHz give or take and as high as 5GHz on some specialized models.

Some of them using a "Direct Sample" mode or an "Upconverter" will receive from 0 cycles to 29 MHz.

They receive in AM, FM (narrow, wide, and stereo), and Single Side Band.  With companion software you can receive all sorts of things like Baby Monitors, Pagers, Weather Radar, FM Broadcast, and more static and pops and clicks than you will ever figure out what to do with.

In Debian 9 Stretch, everything is found in your software repository.  It is accessible with many of the Debian Derived Distributions such as Ubuntu and Q4OS as well as others.  It's available for Fedora, although I could not tell you a thing about that other than "I read something about that somewhere".

With Debian 8 and earlier you had to compile some of the software.  I never got it working on Debian 7.  There were also distributions of Debian that would have a complete environment set up for you to boot from USB or DVD Rom, and they would work if a bit slow due to DVD I/O speeds.

But this way if you have a Debian Derived computer, you are almost there.

  • One thing to consider.  The Direct Sample Mode is accessed via an entry in gqrx.
  • Select "Other" for your RTL-SDR stick
  • Enter rtl=0,direct_samp=2 in "Configure I/O Devices" or File I/O devices
  • Bandwidth should be 2MHz
However to use it with gqrx
  • Start your stick by Plugging the stick in the port
  • Start gqrx, although SDRSharp works via WINE
  • Select the Device in the Configure I/O Devices prompt, and click OK.
  • Click the Play icon in the toolbar.
  • Change your frequency to test by either hitting the (WFM Stereo) FM band and scanning or in the US weather radio is at Narrow FM 162.45-162.65 MHz

Sunday, March 11, 2018

When does a dad joke become a dad joke? When it's fully groan.

Now that we're all bleary eyed and half awake after the time change here in Florida, and the rest of the world is still pointing and laughing... I have a Dad Joke.  Or rather, this is the kind of Dad Joke my Dad would tell.

Happy Groaning

Do The Wrong Thing

An American soldier, serving in World War II, had just returned from several weeks of intense action on the German front lines. He had finally been granted R&R and was on a train bound for London. The train was very crowded, so the soldier walked the length of the train, looking for an empty seat. The only unoccupied seat was directly adjacent to a well dressed middle aged lady and was being used by her little dog.

The war weary soldier asked, "Please, ma'am, may I sit in that seat?" The English woman looked down her nose at the soldier, sniffed and said, "You Americans. You are such a rude class of people. Can't you see my Little Fifi is using that seat?"

The soldier walked away, determined to find a place to rest, but after another" trip down to the end of the train, found himself again facing the woman with the dog. Again he asked, "Please, lady. May I sit there? I'm very tired."

The English woman wrinkled her nose and snorted, "You Americans! Not only are you rude, you are also arrogant. Imagine!"

The soldier didn't say anything else; he leaned over, picked up the little dog, tossed it out the window of the train and sat down in the empty seat. The woman shrieked and railed, and demanded that someone defend her and chastise the soldier.

An English gentleman sitting across the aisle spoke up, "You know, sir, you Americans do seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You eat holding the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your autos on the wrong side of the road. And now, sir, you've thrown the wrong bitch out the window."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Time Change Day Will Take All Day, But Maybe Not Again

Having a weird attachment for Time Pieces, clocks, watches, computers, and loud ticky things that are starting to get on my nerves takes days to find them all.

Twice a year we set our clocks forward or backwards - Spring Ahead, Fall back.

Tomorrow is the official day, but I generally start well before the time change day because over the years I have been given, bought, collected a bunch of clocks.

Like forty-leven-and-a-half of them.

Since I tend to fix anything of my own that breaks, they all work.  Or maybe not.  There's one or two with a broken mainspring somewhere.

That and there's this one clock I have on a wall above my right shoulder that annoys the daylights out of me.  It ticks loud enough to be heard in the bedroom at night and it's in the dining room.  It also has a weird quirk that if it stops, you can't set the correct time since it will drift to about 20 minutes slow. or more.  Then you remove the pendulum and let it run in super-fast mode until it "catches up".

Now you know what I am doing this weekend.  Setting clocks.  Each time I use one.


However, finally, someone is going to do what I have been saying all these years.

Set It And Forget It.

I personally don't care if it is Daylight Savings Time.
I personally don't care if it is Standard Time.

Just stop setting the clocks forward or backwards.

Set it and forget it!

They are considering that here for Florida.  If the law passes, I will cheer.  Why?  It will be Daylight Savings Time all year until someone gets annoyed and repeals the law.

It could as easily be Standard Time for me, I simply don't care.   I just don't want to set that damn wall clock.

It will annoy the rest of the country for the three or so months that we drift out of sync from the rest of the Eastern Time Zone, but everyone outside of Florida thinks we're weird anyway.

From what I see, we might be.  We have iguanas that shred our plants, alerts because pythons are seen eating cats, and sharks in the tidal water about 5 miles from the intracoastal from time to time.

Yep, it's a weird state, but abolishing Daylight Savings Time is a step in the right direction.

So if you will excuse me, that nail that sticks up the highest is about to get hit with a sledge hammer. 

Yes, I have my wall clock to remove a pendulum from. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Training Rack at Lowes or Lost in Hardware

To train a Herding dog you have to keep their minds busy.  Physical exercise and mental exercise.  You know, like a Greek Athlete.

I don't think that my little McNab SuperDog (TM), Rack will ever throw a discus or take a philosophy course but he's an amazing creature.

He just wants to help.  He wants to be involved.

He wants to come along. 

But we have a long term project.  Low voltage lighting.

You know that weird stuff that can run off of a car battery.  Since it runs at low voltage it doesn't need quite as much protection and anyone can do it.

We figure that we have about 40 watts of the stuff and you can read on my front porch at midnight due to them.

I have a couple of those three AAA battery lights that are basically a flashlight, and they can be converted over to this system.  I have done that already to a coach lamp that is on my fence.

The rest come piece after piece.

This weekend was a Big Project though.  Run 20 feet of conduit, sink a lamppost in the front of the house, and rehang the mailbox.

Don't think it's much?  Stand outside in the front yard holding a post for a solid hour when reinforcements are sent off to the store to get some quick drying concrete.

Since it is winter, do it in full sun, on a cloudless day at 80F/26C.  Give or take a C.

All this activity had Rack confused.  He wanted to come along.  Anywhere.  When he thinks he's taking a ride in the CAR!!! he starts to burble and basically speak in tongues.  Its comical.  He starts running wind sprints back and forth from the front to the back door whining and making weird coffee-percolator sounds. 

Sometimes he is right.

We stopped work so we could take him to the Vet.  That's fine because it's one of his favorite places to go.  We went, he got fussed over and we came home.

But there was a stop first.  We needed another piece of conduit to glue to the first pieces laid in the trench I had dug that morning with Rack sitting at the front door looking hopeful.

We took Rack.

You see, Lowes Hardware has a policy of allowing dogs into the store.  This seems to be as official as can be, and it isn't like some idiot taking a dog into a supermarket, this is a hardware store. 

Securing a cart, I picked Rack up off the ground and placed him in the blue plastic apparatus.

He didn't like that.  Immediately tried to get out.  I did because I didn't want to be asked to leave because my dog decided to water the plants.

We walked into the store with a 47 pound black and white dog being disrupted by the rattling of the cart across the asphalt.   Getting into the store, he wanted no more of that.

When I say SuperDog (TM) I mean it.  He is a McNab Dog.  One of the most intelligent dogs on the face of the Earth.  But he is fearful.  Fearful means to run.

Or in this case, to leap.

From a sitting position.
Inside of a cart.
Right in front of the orchids.

When he landed on the concrete floor, he was flat, legs pointing to the cardinal points on the compass.  Confused.  Looking very surprised that It Worked.

I put him back in the cart and looped a thumb under his harness and we went about our business.

He was thinking "Hmmm.  To attempt this again or not?  Not completely sure."

But, by the time we left, he was enjoying himself.  Not acting quite so crazed.  He actually smiled at a kid walking past.

Yes, certain dogs smile.  Others grimace.  I can tell the difference.

But this was a training expedition.  Rack got about a C+ grade.  A little better than average.   Form on the High Dive was a solid 9.

Not olympic form, but a good solid performance.

That's what training dogs is about.  Taking steps and keeping their minds engaged.

Sometimes all it takes is two sections of PVC Conduit, and a couple bell end 90 degree sections.

(You, British people!  Stop giggling, that's what they're called here!)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

This is one of those jokes that I have heard told a number of times - but it is told very well here for me to share with you.

What organ can expand to 10 times it's size...

The 6th grade science teacher, Mrs. Parks, asked her class, "Which human body part increases to ten times its size when stimulated?"

No one answered so the teacher picked on a random student

Little Mary stood up and said, "You should not be asking sixth graders a question like that! I'm going to tell my parents, and they will go and tell the principal, who will then fire you!"

Mrs. Parks ignored her and asked the question again, "Which body part increases to 10 times its size when stimulated?"

Little Mary's mouth fell open. Then she said to those around her, "Boy, is she going to get in big trouble!"
The teacher continued to ignore her and said to the class, "Anybody?"

Finally, Billy stood up, looked around nervously, and said, "The body part that increases 10 times its size when stimulated is the pupil of the eye."

Mrs. Parks said, "Very good, Billy," then turned to Mary and continued.
"As for you, young lady, I have three things to say: One, you have a dirty mind. Two, you didn't read your homework And three, one day you are going to be very, very disappointed."

Saturday, March 3, 2018

What do you think will happen in 3 years time? I don't know, I don't have 2020 vision.

There existed a small nation with a peculiar practice.
The people of each town chose their mayor by magically imbuing life into inanimate objects and letting the sentient objects dispense laws.

Often the objects they chose and the way those objects acted reflected the spirit of the villagers that created it.

The wealthy village in the north was represented by a big diamond that spoke with a posh accent and tended to be a bit disconnected from the working class.
Meanwhile, a friendly wholesome community in the west was ruled over by a blueberry muffin that was determined to instill strong morals in its village and always spoke kindly of those it met.

In the south there was a rural, backwater village that was unhappy with its mayor: a wooden 2x4 that spoke with an embarrassing hillbilly accent.
His speeches were excruciatingly slow and drawn-out.

The townspeople implored him to speak with a bit more distinction, but the old 2x4 always fell back into his lazy old tongue.
Though the community built around the mayor did indeed reflect its values well enough, they thought they deserved better.
They spent years trying out different objects to varying degrees of success--a haughty but untrustworthy umbrella; a bashful stapler that couldn't quite get the hang of being a government official.

The people of the village tried and tried but always found that the new inanimate-object-turned-mayors they created were never any better than the original.
Eventually they gave up, saying, "Well, back to the old drawling board."

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Crumpets and a Simplified Recipe

 If you write, everyone has their complaints and comments.

If you write about anything that has measurements, and are writing from one of the three Non-Metric countries, you will get some crank somewhere complaining about "You Should Use Metric".

First, shut up.  You are being pointlessly rude.  Blog writers have no control over the government.  I wish we did.

Second in this case, this recipe is easier using Imperial Measurements.  "For Round Numbers."

Actually, that's not completely true, this recipe boils down to a bunch of ratios.  And of course the ratios are forgiving and flexible.  Since the local conditions may effect how much fluids your recipe will "take up", you may add a little more or a little less the next time you try this.  For us, today, in a dehydrated house in Florida's Dry Season, 14 to 10 was fine.  If you think that someone in a farmhouse in the 1700s used 2% milk instead of raw whole milk you just may need to relax a bit.

Crumpets.  The first time it was written down, that we know of, the recipe appeared in a cookbook in 1769.  Metric was not invented, and cooking was simpler back then.  No refrigeration, "critters" were in the house, measuring was a "guess", and so on.

You have so much of this, you add double that amount to it and a spoonful of a third ingredient, and you are done.  Cook until it looks right.

That's this recipe.

As for why the US does not use Metric?  We do, legally.  All "our" measurements are defined in Metric anyway.

The reason was that back when the French offered us an Official Kilogram the first time in the very early days of the Republic, the Official Kilogram was stolen by Pirates, and by the time we could get another one, it was deemed too late to get everyone to switch.

Seriously.  Pirates.  They must have thought that the ship was carrying Spanish Gold Doubloons and they got a Kilogram.  Probably made of brass.  Yarrrr!

Another case of the French helping out the United States that the people should realize here just how good a friend they have been throughout our history.

Thank you, France.

This recipe is all about Ratios. It also comes in two parts.  The yeast mixture, and the ratio of Flour to Fluid.


  • Yeast and Salt - 1 Teaspoon.  I used a common one to measure.
  • Sugar - 2 Teaspoons.  Literally right out of the drawer.  

  • Flour 10 parts
  • Water 7 parts
  • Milk 7 parts.

Now to codify this a bit to a proper recipe:


  • Yeast - 1 Teaspoon or about 5 Ml
  • Salt - 1 Teaspoon or about 5 Ml
  • Sugar - 2 Teaspoons or about 10 Ml

  • Flour - 10 ounces or about 283 Grams
  • Water - 7 ounces or about 198 Grams
  • Milk - 7 ounces or about 198 Grams


  • Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl except the Flour.
  • Whisk the Flour into the mixture slowly until you have a smooth loose batter.
  • Cover the batter with a towel and allow to double in size and there are bubbles forming.


  • Preheat your griddle to about 350F/175C.
  • Generously grease the griddle with butter or oil if you prefer.
  • If your griddle begins to smoke, reduce temperature.
  • Generously grease the Crumpet Rings, if you use them, with butter and place on griddle to warm.
  • Add batter to the middle of the Crumpet rings until they are filled side to side but do not overfill vertically.  About half way up the Crumpet ring for a Crumpet.  Thicker Crumpets won't bubble as well but will produce a slice-able English Muffin.
  • Cook Crumpets until they begin to bubble, then wait until the tops are rubbery and perhaps dry to the touch.
  • Remove each Crumpet from their ring gently, and flip it to the uncooked side.
  • Cook until they begin to brown.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

I heard there will be curling in the Olympics, so I told my sister who's a hairdresser. Boy did I get that one wrong.

So you know "Proofing" your yeast is making sure it actually is alive by adding it to some lukewarm water and a little sugar before adding it all to bread dough.
(watch I'll get that one a little off)

A pair of bakers were experiencing a supernatural crisis.

A magical, living snowman had laid a curse on their bakery and they could no longer produce anything.
No pastries, no cookies, no muffins, or cakes. Their proofing oven no longer allowed dough to rise.
Their refrigerator couldn't keep a chill.
Stovetops were cool to the touch.

Unsure of how to proceed, they called in a specialist in obscure curses to diagnose the issue.
They put some cookie dough on a sheet tray and set it in the oven, but it just would not cook!
The oven felt hot. The dough was made correctly.
It was as if the ability to bake had completely fled the confines of the oven.

"Well," the old curse expert started, "it seems the functionality of all your appliances are, in fact, still here in the bakery, they have just somehow been displaced to other areas."

"What do you mean?" a baker asked.
"For example, if we put a lump of bread dough back in the storage racks, it begins to rise as if it is proofing. This must mean that the functionality of your proofing oven still exists, it's just been relocated. It is all very strange."

"Is there anything we can do?"
"We will need to break the curse by cancelling it out with some magic of our own. Do you own anything that might be imbued with a hex or charm?"

One of the bakers chimed in that his grandmother had left a silicon baking mat that she purportedly charmed to magically prevent her cookies from burning.
It had been stored away in a dusty old box for years, but surely there was still an ounce of power that remained.

The baker went home to dig up the old mat while his coworker and the curse specialist mapped out where the different functionalities of the appliances had moved to.

The ability to bake, they determined, had been relocated to the bathroom.

It would make a suitable testing ground for their experiment to see if the two conflicting curses would break one another.
When the other baker returned, they lined a cookie sheet with the silicon mat and headed for the toilet.

Years later, the old curse expert was telling the story at a convention for the supernatural.

He got up on stage and recalled, "They crossed he; the snowman. He's a fairy tale they say. He's made of snow, but now the bakers know how he ruined their life one day. But there must have been some magic in that old Silpat they found. For when they placed it in the head, the dough began to brown."