Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Propagating Croton

When I got this house, we had Litrope in front.  It's a thick grass that looks rather nice as a ground cover but it had intermingled with the Macho Ferns and a whole host of weeds that were in those spaces. 

Yes, it really was called Macho Fern.
No, I don't know why.

Problem was that it looked like hell warmed over with all that mixing going on so I took it all out with a weedeater over a period of weeks.

I put in some landscape cloth to hold the weeds back and mulched over it but it looked sterile.

We wanted some plants we could grow that did not grow too quickly, gave color, and needed only a little care.

Liking the look of it, we settled on Croton.  They are always colorful with a riot of red, yellow, and orange leaves.  Very slow growing in our beach sand soil here.  And no spines like my bougainvillea.

I swear I give a pint of blood every time I work with bougainvillea.

But most everything else on the property is from cuttings that I took here or there.  Since I live where you vacation, I knew that Screw Palms were easy to propagate, so I put two stands of it in the island in front of the house.  My Podocarpus was propagated into a new hedge to block the trash cans, there's some variegated Hibiscus that grows just about anywhere from cuttings - just snip and stick into the ground.

And I waited.  The Screw Palms established themselves immediately but that Croton is doing what it does, grow slowly.  

The Croton got leggy so I did what they do at any real landscaper would do - I took cuttings of that.  They almost all started to grow - slowly.

So if you are planning on doing this on your own, expect between 80% and 90% success rate on Croton. 

Here are the steps I took to propagate:

1) Find a length of branch that is about 8 to 12 inches long (20 to 30cm).  Make sure that there are leaves at the end and no obvious pest infestations.  Trim most of the leaves up the branch.

2) Rooting Hormone.  Yes, this is required for Croton.  Dip the end of the branch to about a half of a thumb length into the powder.  Be generous with it.

3) The planting.  I have had success with simply sticking cuttings into the soil, however my front garden is well watered.  If you use a pot with good potting soil, make sure that it is well drained.

4) The Watering.  Every single day.  Without fail.   For a Month.  Two months is better.

5) The Waiting.  A month should do it, but again, two is better.  This will allow roots to become
established and for you to find some green leaves begin to show.  During this time, most if not all of the original leaves will drop off.   The cuttings will look like they are dead after they drop off those leaves but give them time.  The ones in my "nursery pot" only have two wee little leaves at the top on some of those sticks, and the ones in the front garden are younger on the left, the more established on the right of that first picture.

6) Lather, Rinse, Repeat.  That first picture up top is a couple iterations of this process.   I started when the rains started back in April.  Since we have distinct wet/dry seasons, I'll be able to get one more "crop" in before the rains stop in December.   The ones on the left of the first picture will be joined by the ones in the nursery pot, and I will start more very shortly from that tall leggy beast on either side of the lower growing ones.

None of these plants are really that old, I started this back in spring.  They do take their time getting established but they will grow.

Oh and an aside, if you find any scale insect or any other pests, a good removal spray is a teaspoon of dish soap and a tablespoon of vinegar to about 20 ounces or 600mL of water in a spray bottle.  I had one of those Crotons that was infested with scale that died before I tried the spray.  That was what got me started with all of this

Sure the plants are not all that expensive, but I like a good challenge, and plants that I created is always a good way to make sure that I'll continue an interest.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why did the hippy drown in the ocean? He went way to far out, man

A walk on the beach

On my first (and so far only) visit to Hawaii, I was staying at a beautiful little cottage outside Hilo. There's a neat little place called Uncle's Awa Club, where they hold a farmer's market, live music, food of all kinds... Right in the lava zone, very remote.

I'd read about one of the booths there, apparently they serve this really delicious boozy drink made with a whole mishmash of local fruits. Very popular; people go to the Awa Club just to get this drink. And also enjoy the live music of course.

We were leaving Hawaii the next day, and I still hadn't gone, and wanted to go that evening, but I was there with my family, and my wife had the car. The Awa Club was about 15 miles away (24 km).

So I decided to walk. It was a sunny afternoon, pleasant weather, so a walk on the beach seemed reasonable. But after a few kilometres, the warm sun felt blisteringly hot. So I continued my walk through the water.

The cool water was a great relief, and I proceeded happily toward my goal, waves lapping my legs. I was making good time and distance, until I stepped on something sharp... Right through my sandal.

It hurt like hell! I lifted my foot, and there was a sea urchin stuck to the bottom. I hopped around, looking for a stick to knock it off with.

The beach was a desert around here, though; just black sand and lava rock, a few tufts of grass. But I did notice a piece of driftwood about 200m away.

I hobbled over on my heel, avoiding the water for fear of more urchins, and used the driftwood to lever the spiny creature off of my foot. Then I had to contend with the bleeding.

I probably should have turned back, but at this point I was committed. Looking forward to relieving my pain with some music, some food, and the famous cocktail I'd heard about.

So with the sun starting to sink in the sky I hobbled onward with still a few miles to go, trudging through sand and hot sun. I finally arrived at the Awa Club, parched and limping, aching for a drink.

When I got there the bouncer saw I was a mess, but he took pity on me and let me in. I soon spotted the beverage booth, but it was as popular as advertised: the queue was enormous. I dejectedly joined it.

In line in front of me was a friendly local. She noticed how rough I was looking and asked if I was ok. I told her the whole story. She was shocked. "You came all this way just for a drink?"

I nodded. "Wow," she said. "That was a long walk to the punch line."

Saturday, August 11, 2018

How does a vegan cow introduce itself in Spanish? Soy milk!

With all the Spanish that I have been practicing lately trying to learn the language...

In case you don't get that, "Soy" Is Spanish for "I am".

Then again if you have to explain the joke, oh BAH!


Art Collector

An attorney representing a wealthy art collector called his client and said to him, "Paul, I have some good news and I have some bad news."

The art collector replied, "I've had an awful day; let's hear the good news first."
The attorney said, "Well, I met with your wife today, and she informed me that she invested $5,000 in two pictures that she thinks will bring a minimum of $5-10 million. I think she could be right."

Paul replied enthusiastically, "Well done! My wife is a brilliant businesswoman! You've just made my day. Now I know I can handle the bad news. What is it?"
The attorney replied, "The pictures are of you with your secretary."


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Careful What You Say In Front Of Your Dog - They Learn, Rack Did

I remember once I was watching my neighbor's dog, Ellie.

Ellie was trained, pretty well.  She knew to put her paw on you when she needed something.  She was just not too good at explaining what she wanted.

On her best day, she was a dog.  Don't expect them to be human, they don't speak English.

But, they do understand it.  In fact I think it is fair to say, they understand it better than you might expect.

When my nephew Jon was a toddler, he thought I was James Brown the Soul artist.  You see, I can do a pretty good imitation of JB singing "Static!" from the song that was popular back then.

Now mind you I could not pass for James Brown at all, and while I am a fan of his art, I can't say that a 6'4" 220 pound White Dude could lead an iconic Soul group.  Just don't have the "background" for it.

That's the thought that I had in mind lately.  You see, Rack is learning English and doing so
quickly.

The other day I was telling a friend how clocks work and some of the mechanical theory behind it.

For example, A Pendulum where the string or the shaft that holds the weight that is exactly 39.1 inches or 994 mm long is a special pendulum that swings once per second and back in another second is called a Second Pendulum.  Connect that to an escapement wheel and a gear with exactly 60 teeth and you have your second hand.

Rack heard me talking and describing all this, walked over and sat down at my feet.  He then looked up at me with rapt attention like I was describing the mechanics of the universe, and everything, and finished it with the meaning of life.


It is 42, just ask Douglas Adams.  You can't, he's gone, but if you ask the mice and they give you an answer, you may do best to get a towel and prepare for the Vogon Constructor Fleet and the subsequent demolition of Earth.

The point is that Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) Is a superb dog.  He knows how to Dog.  He's a dog of a lifetime, but that is because while I talk to him, I don't expect him how to Human.  This isn't Family Guy and he's not Brian.

Although if I could just talk to him with full comprehension for 15 minutes... please?

Oh well.

However that Non-Human-Person presents an interesting school of thought.  People learn Language through repetition and what is important to them.

The first thing I start to teach a dog is "Show Me".  They will learn other things first.  But "Show Me" is very important.  If you show me correctly you get what you want.

My first dog, Lettie, learned this in a week or three.  When she got older and lost her hearing all I had to do was to put my palms upward and she would walk to what she wanted or needed and I'd give it to her.

Much more efficient than rattling off a long list of things and being frustrated.   She knew that and Rack does too.

But he's not quite as perfect at it.  Where Lettie was a lead of the pack Alpha, Rack is a definite Beta at the back of the pack of the beta dogs.  He is learning that when I say "Show Me" I am giving him permission to ask for what he wants.

It's not perfect, on his best day, but he gets things across.

And that's the Dog in him.  There's miscommunication, lack of desire, and sometimes they just want attention.   As you can see, Rack sometimes just sits at my feet or stares up at me with twin brown laser beam eyes and wags his tail looking for a little attention.

Attention is a good thing.  Builds the bond.  Even if it is just sitting next to the chair you are in while you're surfing some mindless web page.

That is how I learned "BC" is Rack for "I am going to the front door and look to see if I can find my friend the little wiggly Border Collie from down the block".

Rack met a young female Border Collie shortly after that dog moved into the neighborhood.  She's also a bit submissive, and her energy is the same as Rack's is, so they get on extremely well.

Apparently I refer to her as The Bee Cee frequently because while paging through the internet, I made an aside comment under my breath.  I said "oh, BC".

Rack got up, looked out the window, came back and gave me a confused look.  He's far too passive to give me attitude.

"Oh, another thing you learned!  How about that!"  I'm learning Spanish so I can get out of the house without alerting him on the weekends.   For other reasons too, but teaching the people in the house that "Listo!" means I am ready to go is so far something he has not learned.

On the other hand, he knows I'm going somewhere because of the order things happen in preparing to leave.  I get full on ears up, tail wagging, brown laser beam eyes, and that gaping mouth open smile we all know. 

"Sorry, Rack, You Stay Home and Watch The House" results in his leaving the room after dropping the act with ears dropping, tail drooping and him begging other people.

Yes, Saturdays and Sundays can be annoying unless I actually find somewhere we can take him with us.

I'm in trouble when my dog learns Spanish.  Maybe Sign Language next, although dogs understand that.   We've already resorted to texting in the house so as not to tip off the boy.

So yes, on his best days he's Still a Dog, but Oh What a Dog!


Sunday, August 5, 2018

42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

A Son Shark tells the Dad Shark that he's hungry...

Dad Shark says "Ok son, well there's some people over there. Let's go eat them, but first we need to swim around them in a circle with our fin barely out of the water. Then we will swim around them again with our fin all of the way out of the water."

They do this and then the Dad Shark says "Now lets eat them".

Once the sharks are done eating them, the Son Shark asks,"Dad, why do we have to swim around them? Can't we just go right up and eat them?"

The Dad Shark replies," We could...but they just seem to taste better after you've scared the crap out of them."



A man gives a cookie to a child.

He says "you can have this cookie, but you have to dip it in milk for at least a minute." So the kid gladly dunks it in a glass of milk.

45 seconds pass, and it starts to fall apart in the milk. Just when it hits 1 minute, all that is left is a small piece in between his fingers.

"Mr! That's not fair, you knew it was going to fall apart," the kid says.
The man turns to him and says "Well, son, that's just how the cookie crumbles."

Saturday, August 4, 2018

What do you do when your girlfriend starts smoking? You slow down a little bit. Jeez...

After having read that topic line a couple times since I found it, I'm still laughing.  As for the joke below, you tell me!  At any rate, it's that Genie and his Lamp that keeps getting lost.   I picture it as you get your three wishes, then you toss the lamp.  You know, for security.  In case someone knows that you were the last one with it so they can cancel out your wishes.

Or maybe I am just reading way too much into it, right?

Here goes!



A man is walking along the beach with his wife when he stumbles upon an oil lamp poking from the sand...

Intrigued, the man picks it up and begins to rub the sand off it. To his surprise, a genie emerges from the lamp!

The genie says in a mighty voice, "As a reward for releasing me, I shall grant you three wishes. However, your wife shall receive double of what you ask for."

Without hesitation, the man excitedly says, "I want a brand new sports the car, the best one there is!"

"Very well, it shall be done," the genie replies.

With a snap of the genie's fingers, the man is suddenly sitting on the seat of a magnificent new sports car. The man is overwhelmed with joy, but turns to see that his wife has TWO new sports cars, and they're as amazing as his!

"Well honey, looks like I won't have to hear you complain about my driving anymore!" the man's wife says.

Annoyed, but not to be distracted from his new found fortune, the man quickly exclaims, "A million dollars genie! I want a million dollars!"

"Your wish is my command," the genie replies, before stacks of $100 bills materialize out of thin air and fill up the man's car.

The man is delighted and throws his new found wealth into the air, but then he turns and jealously peers at his wife, who has two cars overflowing with money!

Overcome by a jealous rage, the man turns to the genie and shouts, "GENIE, I WANT YOU TO BEAT ME HALF TO DEATH!"

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Dog Food Recipe Fit for a Human - in a Crock Pot

Yes, I sampled my dog's food.  The recipe is at the bottom.



For two thirds of my life I have managed what I eat closely.  I'm not a nutritionist, but that doesn't mean anything in many places in the US - you can say you are and you are one.

If I am going to a restaurant, I will skip a meal or a part of one and "Bank" the calories.   It's the only way to do it here or else you become a stereotype of what someone outside of the country thinks of us.

I have a nasty habit of being able to estimate calories "off the top of my head" and usually come in close since I have done it so long.

The idea of finding a recipe that is healthy is usually something I can do just by skimming it.

I rose to the challenge of getting my dog healthy when we got him. 



Rack is, or was a rescue.  He had worms that needed multiple treatments to clear him out.  He still has an allergy to Chicken and he is sensitive to Grain.

All that made it difficult to find just the right food to feed him. 

Add to that the rather casual attitude dog food manufacturers have towards their products and the constant dog food recalls I have been hearing about meant that eventually we stopped feeding Our Best Friend anything that came in a bag or a can.

The recipe I was using was a powder that I would add to water and ground beef but he's now quite bored with it, and never really liked it.



I guess a dog who doesn't like Broccoli is like most human kids.  Personally I enjoy Beef and Broccoli but my sense of smell isn't as good as his.

We hunted around for a recipe that we liked and I was sent one that cooks in a crock pot.

Basically it's a Beef Hash.  Since I make it with Human Grade ingredients, I had to try it.  Bland but edible.  I guess I would actually like the stuff if there was some curry or some hot sauce added to it.


When I gave it to Rack though, he devoured it.

Normally I have to give him encouragement to eat any food.  Tapping the bowl, shaking it, mixing it up, telling him it's time to eat.  It's tiresome.

With this stuff he started at one side of the bowl after asking for the thing by hovering very expectantly, and then finished it in one breath.



I guess he doesn't need any curry added to his food.

Anyway the Recipe

When selecting canned foods for your dog, make certain that you select the LOW SODIUM varieties since dogs have trouble digesting salt.  If you can't find LOW SODIUM, use Fresh or Frozen.

Again: Fresh is best, Frozen is second, and Canned is third in preference but Low Salt.

The Salt Limit stated here for a 33 pound dog is 100Mg Per Day.

If anything, this exercise made me more aware or the ridiculous amounts of salt we eat on a daily basis!

Ingredients:
  • Ground Beef - 2 1/2 Pounds or 1.13 KG (I used 80% lean)
  • Water - 4 cups or 1 Liter
  • Brown Rice (dry) - 1.5 cups dry - 355g.
  • Kidney Beans - Canned, 15 ounces or 425g washed and drained. 
  • Butternut Squash puree - Canned, 15 ounces or 425g
  • Peas (frozen) - 4 oz or 1/2 cup or 113g 
  • Carrots (Raw is best or frozen) - 15 ounces or 425g

Process:

This uses a 6 quart/Liter crock pot on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.  Food should be cooked to a temperature of 165F or 75C 'Internally'.

  • Add the ingredients to the crock pot in any order. 
  • Stir ingredients so that they are evenly mixed.
  • Cover the crock pot and turn it on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
  • Stir periodically, I did every half hour to an hour or so. 
  • Cook to 165F or 75C to allow wholesome goodness for Puppy!
  • Allow this to cool completely before serving.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What does a selfish cow say? Meeeeeeeeee

Actually, that topic reminds me of a neighbor.  Having a conversation with her meant you were nodding yes while she told you all about her life and her dog and her trials and tribulations.   And here I thought Psychologists got paid $100 an hour, Mrs Me?

Anyway...




There’s a man trying to cross the street. As he steps off the curb a car comes screaming around the corner and heads straight for him.

The man walks faster, trying to hurry across the street, but the car changes lanes and is still coming at him.

So the guy turns around to go back, but the car changes lanes again and is still coming at him.

By now, the car is so close and the man so scared that he just freezes and stops in the middle of the road.

The car gets real close, then swerves at the last possible moment and screeches to a halt right next him.

The driver rolls down the window. The driver is a squirrel. The squirrel says to the man says, “See, it’s not as easy as it looks, is it?”

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Our neighbor's cardiologist is married to an anesthesiologist. She must be a total knock out!


John was unable to choose between 2 girls, so he asked his friend Gary for help deciding which girl to be with.

John: I'm devoted to Kate but Edith is my dream girl, she's all I've ever wanted.
Gary: Then you should be with Edith.

John: But I love Kate and could never leave her...
Gary: Then you should stay with Kate

John: But I also want to be with Edith, I can't miss this opportunity!
Gary: You can't have your Kate and Edith too.





Two new parents

Dustin and Jane (both blonde) were delighted when finally their long wait to adopt a baby had come to an end.

The adoption center called and told them they had a wonderful Russian baby boy, and the couple took him without hesitation.
On the way home from the adoption center, they stopped by the local college so they each could enroll in night courses.

After they filled out the form, the registration clerk inquired, “What ever possessed you to study Russian?”
The couple said proudly, “We just adopted a Russian baby and in a year or so he’ll start to talk. We just want to be able to understand him.”



The phone rings at FBI headquarters.

“Hello? I’m calling to report my neighbor, Clifford.

He is hiding marijuana inside his firewood!”
“Thank you very much for the call, sir.”

The next day, FBI agents descend on the neighbor’s house.

They search the shed where the firewood is kept.
Using axes, they bust open every piece of wood, but find no marijuana.

They swear at the neighbors and leave.

The phone rings at the neighbors house.

Hey, Clifford, did the FBI come?”
“Yep.”

“Did they chop your firewood?”
“Yep.”

“Great, now it’s your turn to call.
I need my garden plowed.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Walking The Dog and Eating Venus

I've always tried to live a little "off peak".

Restaurants are a perfect example.  When I lived in Philadelphia, and worked in Center City, I knew that if I hit a restaurant at 12 Noon Exactly, I'd be there with dozens of other office workers all jockeying for that table and that choice burger and fries.

Rarely a burger, I prefer ethnic foods at any rate.

It even effects when I walk the dog.  Rack, The McNab SuperDog (TM) has a habit of greeting his friends, vigorously.

I don't mean a simple tail wag, but a full on, jumping shoulder high off the ground, wagging,
whining mess.  Then he sits down, dusting the pavement, and waiting to be told that he can visit.

I can tell who he considers his friends because if he passes you with a mellow attitude, he's either just seen you or he's cool on you.

So since I am up before the chickens, we walk before dawn.

I see some amazing sunrises as a result.  The quiet of the morning before you have had your shower, and I'm out walking in large lazy circles around my town is a nice cool time.  Me, Rack, a few joggers, and the parrots in the trees waking up.

The evenings can be just as perfect.  Being smack dab in the middle of the 120 mile long by 15 mile wide suburban sprawl that is South Florida, there are not many things in the skies to watch.

The sun goes down, fading from gold to blue, blue to black, and the few stars come out. 

The first thing I do when leaving the house is to look up at the skies.  It's a method of weather prediction, and a good way to make sure you don't smell like Wet Dog.  If it is summer, it is hot.  Winter is cool.  It never freezes, and if it was comfortable yesterday, it will be comfortable today in this Tropics Adjacent area.

It's July.  It is hot.  It will remain so until October.  We hit 99F/39C last week which is the hottest it has ever been that I have seen since moving here.

I once was sitting on the Art Museum Wall in Philadelphia listening to the news station there and heard them report that temperature.  I stood up, and got on my inline skates for another 9 miles shrugging that it's more comfortable to move at a slow pace than sit down on a hot granite wall
 in boxer shorts.

In comparison, England complains when it hits 76F, 24C.  I cool my house DOWN to that and if I skip breakfast, I'm cold by lunch and complaining about it.

So looking at the skies, that night it was perfectly clear.  No clouds at all.  There's usually one errant cloud somewhere looking like cotton candy but not that night.  Heading out East towards the beach, I looked over my left shoulder and saw what I thought was an airplane heading into Fort Lauderdale Airport.  The landing paths are East West here, and they tend to float just to the North of downtown.

But, it didn't move.

Mind you, I can spot Mars just about any given night, but this was white.  It stared at me like it was about to be eaten by a crescent moon. 

We walked around town with a shrug, and I borrowed a nearby mailbox.  Sitting a camera on it, I grabbed a picture wondering what it was.  That Star being eaten by the Moon turned out to be Venus, setting over South Florida.

So when you take your dog out for a walk around town, look over your shoulder.  You never know if that airplane turns out to be a hungry satellite eating a planet.