Sunday, January 31, 2010


Another Joke from Velma in Philly... Enjoy!

A blonde calls her boyfriend and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to get it started." Her boyfriend asks, "What is it supposed to be when it's finished?" The blonde says, "According to the picture on the box,it's a tiger."
Her boyfriend decides to go over and help with the puzzle. She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table.
He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, "First of all, no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a tiger." He takes her hand and says, "Second, I want you to relax. Let's have a nice cup of tea, and then..." He sighed...
"Let's put all the Frosted Flakes back in the box..." 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Duck In The Pool

That just about describes this picture.

A Duck In The Pool.   Actually its a little rubber ducky, you're so fine, in the pool, he's a friend of mine.

Rubber Ducky I'm totally Fond of you.   You tell me the temperature of the pool and whether I'll be induced to shrink when I jump in.  

This was a view of the back yard back in October, when the water temperature was higher and I could even conceive of jumping in.  Now if I did that, I'd be joining the Florida version of the Polar Bear Club.   Today the water temp was 59F.   Too cold, way too cold!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Pot of Gold is in Mt Trashmore

Last month, I was chasing rainbows.  

The rainbows seem to have a habit of being just out of reach.  In this case, the rainbow's end was in Mount Trashmore.  Or at least one of the Mount Trashmores we have in South Florida.  

The topography of the land here is amazingly flat.   Someone from Indiana or Illinois would feel it's normal.   This area makes South Jersey feel hilly, and North Jersey mountainous.  So as you are driving around anything that sticks up over the tree tops you can see for miles.  This is a big city, despite the fact that each of the urban counties here are broken up into little municipalities bordering a large city in each.  All those people, and Broward County itself has more people than Philadelphia City at 1.7 Million, make a lot of trash.   Since you can't really drop it off at sea like they did back in the bad old days, the solution is to make a giant landfill and keep piling it up.  Behind the trees in the background there is a rather large pile of it.  It is so high that I can spot it from Powerline Road and Prospect Avenue, about 7 miles South of where that picture was taken.   I would guess that the pile is on the order of 50 to 75 feet above ambient elevation.

Pretty tall huh?

You should see the flocks of Gulls that circle the place during the afternoon when the thermals get started.  The whole area around there is full of birds, out of proportion with the rest of the area.

I guess the wildlife will adapt within reason to their surroundings.  Hopefully they still will be able to.  Who knew that a rainbow would be a good reason to recycle?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lazy Sunday Morning Breakfast

Have you ever wanted to know how to get those scrambled eggs light, fluffy, and custard-y?

Like Sunny Anderson says "Low and Slow is the way to go!".

After the long dog walk, I came home, looked at the quarter of a baguette on the counter and thought that an omelet would do the trick. I turned on the Swing Era music on my Sirius Radio for something bouncy to listen to, and kept it on well past Noon.   Mrs Dog found her mat and lay down, so all was right with the world.   The house was still quiet so I could have my time in the Kitchen.

I have a skillet that is about two feet wide, one foot deep, and plugs into the wall.  That was all the rage back when it was made in the early 70's and it was in the family ever since.   The non stick coating is fading away, so I have to get it good and greased up or I'll have a trial of a time scraping off the leftovers.   I found the best way to grease that particular pan is to set it on a low or low medium heat, slice a piece of bread or a bagel, and put enough butter on the bread to cover the surface.   Take that bread, place it face down on the skillet/griddle/what-have-you and use it to spread the butter all over the surface while soaking up the excess into the bread.   I don't generally start cooking until the bread is golden brown and crispy, and it is at a point where the butter won't smoke or burn.   The thermostat says it is about 325F but I can't say whether I believe that or not.

While the bread is toasting, I have some chopped onions that I tossed onto the griddle that will grill until they turn translucent.  Its my breakfast and I love the sweetness of the onions...   Meanwhile back on the counter, I have cracked three eggs into a bowl and added about an ounce or two of milk into the eggs.   Scramble everything until they're mixed up well in that bowl.

Now, the onions were sizzling and making the house all nice and perfumed with that Diner Smell we all love, and I have the Eggs sitting waiting.   When I have translucent onions, I slowly pour the egg mixture over top of the eggs.   No Salt or Pepper yet, because it will just dry out the eggs and make them rubbery!  I have to pour them slowly onto the skillet because they will run out wide and need to be herded back to the center so they don't run out to the drain in the middle front of the skillet.   Eventually I am able to get the mix of milk and three eggs down onto the skillet and herd them into a nice fluffy pile of yellow goodness, and watch as they tighten up.  By this time, my bread is a crispy golden brown, the onions are mixed into the eggs and I can clear the bread off and onto the plate.

As I stand there watching I can gauge just how tight I want the eggs and when they're ready, I pour them onto the bread.  Personally I don't care for salt or pepper on the eggs, but if you do, now is the time to season them, just before they hit the table.

Just remember, Low and Slow is the Way To Go!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crashing the Penguin Party

Yeah, I couldn't resist this one.   This particular picture went Viral lately, I've been seeing it all over the place.  I grabbed it off of which I look at every morning before I go to work, but I've seen it at least another 4 or 5 places.  

I have a habit of looking at viral videos and viral pictures from time to time.   These are little bits of Internet Minutia that people post and someone thinks are funny and you end up with them all over your in box.   Some of those are truly amusing, others...Meh!

I've managed to post a couple jokes from Velma, and some from my Sister on here, I guess it's my turn to give back.   Plus I'm still chuckling at the Seal in the lower corner. 

Ok, Juvenile, but fun.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunday is a day for long dog walks

Sure, this isn't Sunday when you read this, but it is when I wrote it.

Having a good long night's benedryl induced sleep, I managed to get up late for me at 8AM and Mrs Dog was ready for a long walk.   A Border Collie is an incredibly intelligent dog, and my girl is no exception.   There are a couple of routes I tend to take her on, and in the course of the day I try to get her over 2 miles.  Three miles are best.   We got to the cut off between a short walk (.85mi) and the long walk (1 mile even) and we looked at each other.  She started to tug me to the left and I said "Lettie, do you want to go for a long walk?".   She smiled and veered off to the left knowing just what I meant.  No tugging and no force...

We got to Tropics and she wanted no discussion about it, made it known that she wanted to cross The Drive and started a gentle tug at the leash.  I said "Ok, Wait" and she relaxed pointing herself to the opposite side of Wilton Drive and the Gelato Shop.   For some reason she likes That Side Of The Drive, so it is a treat for her.

There are two new shops on That Side Of The Drive opening up.  There is a the place called Gelato and Martini where they're serving alcohol and carbs as the name would make one believe.   I can't really fathom why both fit together other than if you drink, your blood sugar drops and you need a sweet to pick yourself up.  I'll give it a shot and let you know what's up, it does seem to either be open or very close to being open.

The second shop may just be a way to fill some space, or it may develop into a permanent fixture.   There are about 10 or 20 pieces of Unfinished Furniture a few shops up from the Gelato and Martini.  I did see a small chair side table that I would like but the price on that was a bit high.  I'm used to a barn of a building at the Airport Circle in Pennsauken NJ that sold Unfinished Furniture at a bargain basement price.   The particular little table was priced $75 but should be no more than 40 or 50 especially since it is so close to the thrift store Out Of The Closet.   There were other pieces in there that were closer to what I expected so I will poke around there at some point.  I'm good with a paint brush and some wood stain, and I could use a small table to go next to my Poang chair.   We will see....

This walk did turn out to be a long one, we walked up to the back side of Bill's enjoying the quiet and the lack of general activity that a lazy Sunday Morning can bring.   Mrs Dog is the best driving companion I have ever had, and it was nice to just get out, walk and wander around my quirky little city without being half asleep at 6am having an audio book in my head.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The View After New Years Lunch

After leaving Briny's Restaurant, and a wonderful Fish and Chips dinner, we left and headed back to the car.  This series of Pink Columns is the underside of the Andrews Avenue Bridge over the New River in Downtown Ft Lauderdale.  You are looking East toward Downtown at the Riverwalk.  Riverwalk is a pedestrian mall full of restaurants and some historic buildings that look out on the New River.   It hasn't really taken off as well as hoped, but it is nice enough to get to on a weekend for a bit of sightseeing as you can see from this view. 
There are just enough businesses open to make it look interesting for a tourist, and on the weekend you can go to the Jazz Brunches and bring your dog along.   If you enjoy Jazz Music, there are various acts that are there that will please you from live bands to recorded music.   It gets to be a rather interesting place to go with your dog, and there's one day a month that the restaurants will allow your dogs to eat with you outside. 

Nice to have your dog with you as long as it isn't a yapper!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The View from New Years Lunch

Yes, this was where I had lunch on New Years 2010.  What you're looking at is the Riverwalk and the New River.  The boats there are a fixture there, not an exception.   I'm sitting just West of Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale in a Restaurant called Briny's Pub.  They're an Irish Bar instead of an English Pub, and the distinction is somewhat lost on me.  What I do know is that Briny's Pub has one of the best Fish and Chips platters that I have ever had.  We're not talking about fish sticks and warmed over frozen french fries.  The plate is a large dinner plate with two strips of almost a foot long of batter dipped Cod, a bit of Cole Slaw, and a pile of hot French Fries that is almost as large as the fish itself.   Briny's is a treat for me, with or without my required Guinness on the side.

I sat there having the meal on the First of January, in shorts and a T Shirt, watching the bridge go up and down, and the boats float by.  I wasn't the only person with the idea.  The yellow boat in the background is a water taxi that you can take up and down the intracoastal and see the big houses and yachts parked in a row.  When the Taxi arrived, there were a couple groups that went to Briny's and I think my plate of Fish and Chips was responsible for some of them getting some since it looked so good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The world's shortest car show - Motor Week on PBS

Ok, I'm really getting annoyed with both PBS and Motor Week.   Motor Week needs to retool their show.  I have Tivo capture this show because I like to watch car shows, and this one is probably the worst. 

The easiest answer would be to just delete the show from my Season Pass list, but I really do want to know more about what is coming up on the US Roadways.   I drive a Jeep with almost 40,000 miles and that should mean that I should be able to get at least another 60,000 miles on it.  The thing is that the car is a model year 2002 so I'll get bored with it long before I must replace it.

I watch Motor Week on PBS because I do want to keep up with what is going on, but this show is so repetitive that I can skip through it in about 15 minutes.  Once you get through the Non-Commercials that they run on PBS, and the parts of the show that you have seen before, you end up with a very short show.  If the Brits can put on BBC the rather excellent and entertaining Top Gear instead of this sad excuse of a 30 minute infomercial with stiff readers who can't read without looking at a teleprompter, women with no personality, and books about minutia that I'd skip past even if I were in a Borders Bookstore.

Honestly, PBS with their Non Commercials have dropped their real content back to about 50 minutes an hour.   Subtract the repeated segments and you end up with something about as interesting as a commercial.   Maybe I should go to the kitchen and get something from the refrigerator, it would be more interesting than this show has been lately.  No wonder why PBS has trouble making ends meet with this tripe!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Small Crop of Honeybells

What you are looking at is a cluster of Honeybell Orange Blossoms.   The smell you get from them is truly amazing.   When the tree is in bloom and healthy the yard is infused with a scent that is something to look forward.  The scent will disappear until it is time for harvest and you pick the fruit from the tree. 

The other day I managed to pick a single perfect honeybell from the tree.   If you have a fruit tree in your yard, I am sure you will agree with me, that there is almost no other pleasure that ranks so high as picking your own fruit from a tree in your yard.   I will say that also holds true when you have vegetables in the yard.   Fruit of your own Toil and so forth.

The weather we had two weeks ago is gone, my tree was affected.   I've got a number of leaves that yellowed due to the cold weather and were all over the yard when the wind hit it in the Sunday T-Storms we had.   The tree will survive, but if you like Orange Juice, you had better brace yourself for higher prices.  If my tree was damaged, the trees in the orchards around Fort Pierce will be much worse for the wear.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunny Sunday Cooking Shows

For some people, Cooking shows are the video equivalent of dentistry without Novocaine.  I'm in the middle of the pack with cooking shows.   There are some that I truly dislike and others that I enjoy.   Light entertainment basically.   If there's a recipe that makes me curious, I'll go to the website attached to the show, save the recipe as a PDF and give it a shot.

I'm a cook who is a little better than average.   I am an excellent baker.   You learn from others who are better than you are, so when I get to the point where I want to spend some time in the kitchen, I'll put on a show and see what the Tivo captured.

One show that I actually enjoy is Sunny Anderson's Cooking for Real.   Sunny is an ex-Airforce Airman (Airperson?) who worked at a radio station in New York before bouncing around and ending in this gig.  Her particular take is that she doesn't like fussy recipes so everything has to be on the easy or quick side.   I've never seen her make a souffle, nor have I attempted to make one, but I have seen her make Meringue.  The other thing that she's famous for at least in my mind is that she's got a warm and bouncy personality.   Cooking shows can be very dry, like that of Ina Garten who the only way I can watch her is to play a drinking game while doing it.  Sunny is bouncing around the stage talking to you in a friendly and warm manner, explaining how this particular recipe sounds hard but she's going to show you how to make it real easy.

She reminds me of my sister as well, because I've had the pleasure of sitting on the other side of her island while Pat would prepare some sort of item for a holiday meal.   I hadn't done it many times, but every time I did I enjoyed the experience.   Sunny has the same way of doing things, and she even sounds like my sister.  My sister being Caucasian, and Sunny being African American is an interesting parallel since if I look away I think I'm sitting in Pat's New Jersey kitchen listening to her prepare a bit of icing for the latest dessert treat.

Now that the Tivo restarted (The power down here in South Florida is very flaky) I'm going to finish watching Sunny make a Pound Cake and I'll find out what she's going to do with that Meringue.

Mmmm Meringue!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Winter Snow Sculpture

After the snow that they had up North and our Iguana Killing Cold, I thought I'd post a picture that everyone could agree with....  Or at least the Sane people!   It has warmed back to normal here in South Florida to mid 70s during the days.  It is supposed to stay that way for the rest of the Five Day Forecast.  I'm thinking that by the time the work day is over on Monday, I'll be taking the roof off of the car for the ride home.   Nothing like having infinite headroom in order to enjoy the Florida Sun.

That's your weather report from the Weathermoose.   Picture courtesy of

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Watch out!

Subject: Watch Out

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said,

'Jesus knows you're here.'

 Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot!

'Did you say that?' he hissed at the parrot.

 'Yep', the parrot confessed, then squawked, 'I'm just trying to warn you that he is watching you.'

 The burglar relaxed. 'Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?'

 'Moses,' replied the bird.

 'Moses?' the burglar laughed. 'What kind of people would name a bird Moses?'

 'The kind of people that would name a rottweiler Jesus.'

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another Christmas Tree, New Years Day 2010

On New Years Day 2010, I and a good friend, Kevin went to the Riverwalk in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for lunch.  Before we got there I managed to take some pictures and will be posting them.  This was the view from the plaza just West of the Andrews Avenue Bridge.  What you're seeing in the middle of the frame is one of many decorated Christmas Trees next to a rather pretty fountain.   It is a typically Florida scene, because you get this fake tree decorated up in a festive way that would fit in well in a Northern city parked right next to a Palm Tree or three.  
It is a nice plaza, there are plenty of places to sit and watch the boats on the New River behind me in that picture.   Off to the right, there is a smallish music stage built out of concrete with plenty of Handicap ramps for their ease of access.  This of course means that it is popular with the skateboarders in the area.  It isn't another Love Park, but it still is popular. 

This place being right square in the middle of Downtown is a bit of an island of quiet in the middle of the hubbub. It also is a nice place to pass through, linger a bit, then head off to the restaurants on Riverwalk.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Belated Christmas Tree

Yeah, Ok I'm late.   This was the city Christmas Tree Display, as of Christmas Morning.   I had a late sleep in that day, and took Mrs dog for a walk out on Wilton Drive and saw the tree in the morning.   It was a collaborative effort getting the tree between the board I'm the Vice Chair of, Community Affairs Advisory Board (CAAB) and the City of Wilton Manors, and Bobby Kyser of Petals Panache in Wilton Manors.  We had the unveiling last year to fireworks and fanfare, this year it was a focal point of a party with the City Government and CAAB as well as all of the neighbors.   Nice part of being in a small city is that you get to do things that make other's lives a little nicer.   Even if it is a 30 foot tall artifical tree.   The tree was at NE 21st Ct and Wilton Drive through mid January, and they've started to dismantle the display.  The baubles were removed on the bottom half but it still sits there greeting the dawn as of the taking of this picture, as always I am ahead of the game while posting by at least a week.  I've been told that the tree is down along with the other decorations.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bit Bicth

Funny how things bubble to the top of your memory at times.   Even funnier when something strange turns out to be something you count as a missed opportunity.

I used to enjoy lunch with a friend Bob when I worked in Philadelphia back in the 90s.  I would get out of my office once a week, typically on a Friday and walk through the City to visit Bob and then we'd get to go to someplace and have lunch.  Sitting around some days at the Fountain at Logan Square with a brown bag we'd get a chance to people watch, enjoy the day and a brief respite from the normal work a day life.

Other days, we'd walk from Bob's office down to a restaurant somewhere in Center City Philadelphia and perhaps do a bit of sight seeing in the day.   Some days we'd be rushed and have to get back to the offices and others it would be a good day to linger perhaps a bit longer and stand outside and look at the City.   Philadelphia is not the largest city, nor the most beautiful, but it was home and it had a character unlike no other.

Philadelphia has been described by some as a city that is like an old sneaker.  It can be a bit ratty in spots, a bit dirty, but amazingly comfortable and you wouldn't trade it for the world once you get to know it.  A city of neighborhoods, each of which has its own character.  The people who live in Philadelphia do tend to treat it as something to be managed.  Philadelphia is a city that is being constantly used, and reused, but always done in such a fashion that the character seems to remain the same.   The Olde City neighborhood for example is one where Betsy Ross would be quite comfortable in today.  Chestnut Hill looked like an English Country Town from the late 1800s.

Things get repaired and changed, but for the most part they're done in such a way that the character of the neighborhood doesn't look any different than it has 10 years before.   This character means that if you have a building in front you're going to patch the concrete and paint the rest but it will probably be the same colors as before.

Philadelphians do have a habit of being quite outspoken.  Get to know us first, and make the effort because we're not making the first step.  Won't happen.   I have seen that in the bars and public areas, and for the most part the only other place that I experienced a similar character was in Paris when I visited.   I spoke French, but badly, and they went out of their way to help me along.   A little French went a long way.

Back to Bob and his building... We would get back to his office and one day I noticed that there was a bit of graffiti in the fresh concrete in front.  It said "Bit Bicth".   I read that and scratched my head and then realized that the fool who decided to vandalize the property wanted to be rude and started to spell a mild obscenity, stopped, then wrote it wrongly without erasing the first "Bit". 

When I pointed that "Bit" out to Bob, it became a great joke pointing out the stupidity of vandalism and the vandals who damage property.   To this day, almost 20 years later, I still remember the legend of the Bit Bicth.

The only thing that I missed was a chance to bring a piece of paper to it and take a rubbing with some charcoal.   The idea of having my own "Bit Bicth" from the sidewalk in front of the old Rosenbluth building would have been amusing as person after person would look at it, scratch their head and say "Ok, what's the deal with that!".  I missed the chance because I have been told that it had gotten chewed up and replaced by some fresh concrete just before I moved to Florida.

Now you all have your own Bit Bicth.  You've read it and you can't Unread it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

General Interest Blog - An open letter to my Sister

Hi Pat, Miss ya!  Mean it!

I was talking about my writing this blog to a few people and someone had said that this basically is an open letter to my sister.   Perhaps my sister and a few others in my family and friends left behind in Pennsylvania.

Where some blogs that I look at are specific topic blogs, blogs on just about any topic exist, mine is anything that comes to mind.  Sometimes it is very specific interest and I doubt that anyone would want to read it, other than my just wanting to vent.  Other times, like the pictures I took in Key West, I wanted to show some folks what was going on in my life.  The picture postings are very easy to do, a couple paragraphs plus a picture that is saying a thousand words, and you're done.

I find it amusing to look at what some folks find interesting.   The one on my Poang chair seems to be the most popular, and that is where I tend to sit first when I go into the room.   If it is an older post, typically it will be read because it is a review.   The one on the swiffer came up recently - I wouldn't buy one again because of the smell and the environmental problems I see in it plus they're just not as effective as my old standby sponge mop.

The other day in a slow moment I fired up my copy of Google Earth and went for a virtual walk around the old neighborhood.   Seeing a place I haven't lived in for at least 20 years is strange.  The trees are bigger, the houses smaller, and the distances much shorter.   When I was a child, I went to an elementary school that felt like it was in another country to walk to it.   According to Google Earth's distance tool, that other country was only a half mile away.  .49 miles to be exact.

I'm lucky enough to have a machine that makes flying around the the Google version of Earth quick, and with the extra memory the program runs very well.  I haven't upgraded it because the Google Earth version 5 and later as well as Chrome and other programs they offer install a piece of software that sit on your PC and report back to them what you are doing.   I won't upgrade it unless I run it in a virtual session to minimize my exposure to Google's snooping.   It is nice to have, and I do like looking at the pictures of places I have been and places I have never been and wondering what it would be like to be "there", but the whole snooping around bit - well I tend not to install software I have a question about.

If I ever figure out a purpose for this blog, it won't be grabbing a book of recipes and following it from cover to cover.   It has been done, and I just don't have that kind of time.  I'm having trouble figuring out what to write with one posting a day showing up at 8 AM as it is!

If you have any ideas, leave a comment, I'll look at it and see what I can come up with.  I spend most of my day at work researching technology as an IT Manager, so that stuff is easy for me.

Take care, Pat, and who ever else finds me!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The thaw that took two weeks

Two weeks ago we went from our normal gentle cool weather to the ice box. Before it hit, I was getting out of work, repeating my Mantra of "The roof is evil and must be punished" and lowering it on my Jeep and driving home with a smile on my face. 

The front hit and we dropped eventually to just a degree or two above freezing.  There were snow flurries in Oakland Park, Florida.   I am a mile south of Oakland Park.  I'm sure they hit here too but I didn't see them.   The carnage of Iguanas falling from the trees didn't become apparent because I hadn't been seeing them in the week before the temps hit 34, but my plants did see carnage.   Last Sunday was the coldest, and I walked out back to overlook the damage and noticed that my trumpet flower plant had foliage that was about 75 percent gone.   My Coleus was about 1/3 damaged, the Bougainvillea had damage, and there's a lot of odds and ends that look like they were freezer burned just like the celery that got left in my refrigerator too long.

I was in chat over the weekend and there was someone in Hollywood saying that there were iguanas falling from the tree on to his apartment and driving the dogs mad.  People were reporting that there were dazed iguanas on the fences trying to warm up in the sun.  The temps did not crack 40 until after lunch and the skies were never truly sunny, with a thin grey cloud deck floating in and out.

I'm sitting here writing this on Sunday wearing hiking boots, Jeans, a T Shirt and a Sweatshirt.  This is inside the house because the house can't keep the temperature over 70, and is struggling to heat it up to 69 today.   This being the coldest day of it, it still isn't out of the ordinary.  This was a Ten Year Event, and hopefully not to happen like this again.  

The orange groves North of here are furiously picking their fruit to be turned into Juice, so if you have any desire to drink the stuff, buy it up now.  If you have Orange Futures, you're going to make money this year.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Julie and Julia

Am I like the last person on the planet that saw this movie?   I finally got to see it over the weekend.  I am glad that I did because it was a gentle comedy interweaving a blog writer in 2003 and a rather grand person in the 40s through the 60s.   The movie drew some strong parallels between the two lives two generations apart, and showed some quite amusing moments.

Oh, since they cooked some lobsters, there was no notice of "No Animals were harmed in the making of this picture".   But how could you do a movie on the "Mastering of French Cooking" without at least trying some Lobster recipes?  I'm not completely happy with someone plunging a living creature into boiling water no matter how much seasoning is in it, but that has never stopped me from eating them. 

The movie shows Julia Child's live from arrival in Paris in 1947 until she had been given the opportunity to do her first cooking show in WGBH Boston in the the 60s.  She was a fascinating character that everyone has had the opportunity to be exposed to and became a larger than life one at that.   I remember seeing her shows on the PBS Station while I was young and fascinated by this woman with the funny voice talking about her Boeuf and other recipes.  

The other headliner was Julie who was a blog writer in 2003 that took up the task of cooking every single recipe in Julia Child's seminal work of "Mastering" within the course of a year.   547 recipes in 365 days.   I'll say that I am a better than average baker, but the idea of trying over 500 French Recipes within the course of a year is not something I'd even consider.

I did think that the person portrayed in the movie who wrote the blog, Julie seemed a bit obsessed over Juila Child saying that she wished that she could be transported back in time and be a part of Julia's wedding.   That's a bit Obsessive/Compulsive.   I've found myself getting into the thought processes of an author who's writings I've enjoyed but the whole time travel thing is something more than I'd consider.

At any rate, OCD Aside, it was a pleasant and enjoyable movie.  I'm glad I have it on DVD because I would certainly watch it again.   It showed the love Julia Child had for her husband, for France, French Culture, and French Cooking.   It is easy to say that had she not went to the Cordon Bleu and been snubbed by the rather myopic President of the school, she may not have gone on to start her own school, write the book with the two other collaborators, and lay the foundation for Food TV and the other cable cookery shows.

Julie's life was fascinating.  A Regular Woman, working in a government office in New York City, moving to an apartment in Queens over a Pizza Parlor so she could have more space with her husband and cat, and taking up a challenge like that is not something that happens every day.   Julie didn't care for the place but as her husband kept saying "Remember, 900 Square Feet" means a lot.  New York Apartments are rabbit hutch small, and my house here in Florida is only 1200 square feet.  I think I'd be comfortable in that if it were on a train line.  Begin cooking a recipe and a half a day, blogging about it, and working a full time job will certainly change your life.

Well worth the watch.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What a diference a gig makes!

I've been running Windows 7 for a while now.  For the most part I have been rather happy with it.   It feels much more stable than Vista does, and more "shiny" than XP.   I had a reason to look at a Windows 2000 PC at work and ... it was a bit frightening, we'd rather not go quite so spartan.

I ran this laptop for the last two months on Windows 7 and felt it was a bit sluggish but knew that I had the low end spec of this operating system.  This is an older Acer machine with 2GB of memory, a Core Duo (not Core 2 Duo), and a recently upgraded 500GB 7200 drive.  The faster hard drive gave me a performance boost,  but it still felt lacking. 

I caught a memory sale at for exactly the memory I needed to bring this up to its maximum.  This PC won't run the 64 bit version of Windows 7, so I top out at 3GB.  This isn't a fault of Microsoft, and they warned us that any windows 32 bit version will only take 3GB.  That's the same with Linux, and I have to assume that it will be the same with Mac OSX.

Tonight I got my memory and I noticed the difference immediately.  I work on the blog on Firefox, and I run it within a virtual version of Windows XP and if the host operating system was sluggish, the virtual version was like running through mud.  Now everything is faster and snappier and I'm sure while that will fade, everything is much easier to use.

So, Class, if you're running Windows 7, get yourself up to 3GB.  If you're have Windows 7 64 Bit, I've got 4GB at work and it runs fine, but I have heard you want 8GB.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Joke from Velma

Take My But to Jail

A Virginia State trooper pulled a car over on I-64 about 2 miles southof the Virginia / West Virginia State line.  When the trooper asked the driver why he was speeding, the driver said he was a Magician and Juggler and was on his way to Beckley, WV to do a show at the Shrine Circus. He didn't want to be late.

The trooper told the driver he was fascinated by juggling and said if the driver would do a little juggling for him then he wouldn't give him a ticket.  He told the trooper he had sent his equipment ahead anddidn't have anything to juggle.

The trooper said he had some flares in the trunk and asked if he could juggle them.  The juggler said he could, so the trooper got 5 flares, lit them and handed them to him.  While the man was juggling, a car pulled in behind the patrol car. A drunken good old boy from West Virginia got out, watched the performance briefly, then went over to the patrol car, opened the rear door and got in.

The trooper observed him and went over to the patrol car and opened the door asking the drunk what he thought he was doing.  The drunk replied, 'You might as well take my butt to jail, cause there ain't no way I can pass that test.'

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Its like Pennsylvania out there!

I've been getting hits from potential snowbirds wondering what it is like out there.  Winter in Wilton Manors, Florida this year has been a strange beast, cool and dry, and now cold and wet.

I woke up before the alarm Saturday for some strange reason, thinking I had to go to work, and decided I may as well do my normal routine.  I put out the dog food and waited for her to get caught up before the walk.  We went outside and it was raw.  The best description is in the topic for this post.   The weather here on Saturday is like Philadelphia gets on a rainy day in late March.   It was 46, it is not expected to crack 60, and it is raining heavily.   The radar between Miami and Jacksonville is a complete rain shield, except for the small exception that in Mid State and North, they are showing it as Snow. 

I am about 200 miles south of the Ice area, and according to the USDA, my home is in the Never Freeze Zone by about 10 miles.   They are calling for a freeze warning all the way down to the unpopulated areas of South Florida Mainland, and the Orange Groves are picking their fruit as a result.   My Orange Tree has about 12 oranges on it, but I won't pick.  The Weather is expected to go to 34F, just 1 degree Celsius above freezing here.  The tender foliage is under sheltered conditions, but I may bring in my Orchids.

Oh that dog walk?  Even Mrs Dog, a Border Collie who would walk forever under nicer conditions cut the walk short and came home after just one block.  I could not blame her.  I was dressed for the conditions in a Baseball Cap, Long Sleeved shirt, Leather Jacket, Jeans and Boots, but I was cold as well.

There are articles in the local papers talking about the Iguanas Falling From The Trees like it is an apocalypse.  I had one end up in the yard, quickly dispatched to the bin, but most of them are hiding in burrows and sheltered areas.  The Snowbirds who are here because their plans can't be changed will just have to find other things to do.  There are a lot of things to see here, but having this cold weather is just not helping the Tourists at all.

Do what the locals do, huddle for warmth indoors and hope it isn't going to be as bad as the weathermen say it is - it rarely is and when the sun comes out you'll still be in Florida with all those Palm Trees.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I wonder if there is heat at the office?

Funny thing to say isn't it?

In South Florida, Heat in a building is not a given.   After all, we have a summer that lasts about 9 or 10 months a year, spring and fall are about another month and when the weather gets cold its only for a week or two.  Cold weather here is something that someone from Friendly Canada or Liberal New England would say is a Sunny Spring Day. 

This week for example will be low around 40 and high around 60 through Thursday, which is when this will post roughly.   I'm writing this first thing Monday Morning, so who knows what will really happen.

I've never been through a winter at my particular office.   The owner of the company likes it cool, so I keep what I call my Pennsylvania Jacket - a heavy flannel shirt in the drawer.  The building is a big barn of a building, a quarter mile long, and I can imagine that heating that is quite a challenge.  I don't think I ever felt a warm draft from the heaters there.  It should be interesting to see what happens when I get there in about a half hour. 

I'll manage, as do most folks here.  There are a lot of electric heaters under desks, and many office buildings down here under the I-4 line don't have heat but are illogically sealed against the weather.  I've commented on how the house here has Jalousie windows and the heater in the house is enough to keep you from freezing, but not very efficient at it.

Up North, in my 1863 farm house in Philadelphia, I had 2 foot thick stone walls, and a fuel oil burner that sounded like a rocket ship when it kicked in and started.  Homes were built to stand sub zero (Fahrenheit) temps and take it in style.

This will just be another adventure, after all.  Nobody died from exposure in an office even at 50 degrees. I'm actually thinking it will be fun in some oddball way.

Side note, I got home from work after writing this and all was well.  The temp was uneven through the building, but my office was at 73 and 75 all day.  There was one particular office that was as low as 63 which when your blood thins to water from this climate is painful.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Roast Chicken anyone?

I'll admit it, I like a good home cooked meal.   I've attempted to cook some rather traditional meals and try to use the highest quality ingredients.  Everyone has their favorites, but I find a Roast Chicken to be pretty much bulletproof a recipe. 

The drawbacks of making your own meals, instead of walking to the ready made food section of the supermarket or the corner shop are few.  Having the time is perhaps the biggest concern.   I started making the meal at lunch time, or if you consider that it was a frozen chicken, two days before that.  The bird was thawed, and I ended up standing at the island in the kitchen using shears to snip apart some rather nice Artisan Bread.  Sesame Semolina Bread was cut into tiny cubes, four cups all told.  When done, those were added to a giant bowl with 2 sliced Clementines,  a half cup of chopped Pecan pieces, some butter, celery, and some assorted spices.   That whole mess was coated with about 1/2 a stick of butter that was melted and then the stuffing was crammed into the neck and the body cavity.   By the time the bird was stuffed and tied up, the oven had warmed to 350 and in it went.  A 7 and a quarter pound chicken will feed two tonight, and make sandwiches for at least two weeks.

I now have a can of Cranberry Jelly, a can of Green Beans, about 4 baked potatoes, and some corn pieces as sides.  I figure, if I'm going to have a large meal on the weekend, it should be a good one.  There is a crock pot of chicken noodle soup cooling on the kitchen counter that will make two or more meals in itself, and the house smells of onions from the stuffing.

It is curious though, to think that there is so much variance in the way a chicken can be cooked.   Here, you get a chicken with the ubiquitous "Bird Watcher" thermometer.   Put it in the oven and when it pops you're done... except it lies.   Those things are not made for a stuffed bird.  After you add the required extra 25 minutes to cook the stuffing you find yourself questioning whether it really is done.  I had to look that up and the instant read thermometer came handy since I found internal temperatures ranging from 150F to 180F.  I decided that I should split the difference at 165F since there was a USDA posting saying that stuffing should be cooked to that temperature.   I guess it would be the eggs that need it that hot. 

Since my kitchen is now full to the brim of food, and my timer is sounding, I'll let you think about the meal and the thought that since I live in a house with Jalousie Windows that leak like a sieve, all my neighbors are going to be chewing their legs off smelling chicken roasting all afternoon!

Oh, pass the green beans please?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crystalline Ginger

Crystalline Ginger?  What on earth are you talking about?

Simply put these are sliced ginger root that are somewhat tenderized and I'm not quite sure how they do that, then encrusted with some sugar.  Ginger Root is a very pungent herb.  If you have ever had some ginger chicken at the local Chinese Restaurant, you know when you bite into a piece.  They're spicy, even hot to taste. Very strong flavored, and rather woody in texture.  There are also some medicinal qualities to this herb.

Now soak them in sugar and lay them out until they're ready with a little bit of fluid left in them.   I have found them in my favorite Asian Market down in North Miami Beach, and also they have a ready supply of the stuff in the fruit stand that I got the Honeybells at that are in my refrigerator.  Not the kind of thing I expect to find at a Publix, and Winn Dixie is way too low end for the stuff.  You may find them in a gourmet shop, but mind you the stuff is strong.  A little piece the size of a dime will clear your sinuses.

I have a pound bag of Crystalline Ginger in the kitchen, and some will go to work with me.  Just pop a piece in the mouth and let the sugar melt off, then the Ginger will give you flavor for an hour, or chew it for an intense burst of flavor.   If you like spicy food, I highly recommend the stuff!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Honeybell Season started!!!!

Its Honeybell season again...

Or as my friends know, I say that in about a 48 point font screaming like Dewey Wins in that old Truman Picture from the 50s...


I managed to go out on New Years and do some shopping down in Davie/Dania at the Nurseries down there.  One of them is a great Old Florida piece of Kitsch.   They sell mostly Citrus.  Citrus Trees, "A" Fruit, "B" Fruit and Pies.   Wonderful place.   They have a relic of a stand out front of the place that looks like a giant orange that you can stand inside, or at least you could if you were selling orange juice because I have been told that is what it is for at a festival.


Honeybells are a special kind of orange that come into season here in very late December and only last until late February.  I could be a little generous with the dates, the season could be a bit shorter.  One of the first things I bought when I got the house was a proper Honeybell Tree.   It gave me four oranges last year.  Oh Boy.   This year it has about a dozen on it, but hey, I can walk outside in about a month and pick my own oranges and have a truly wonderful snack. If you read this LINK you will see that they're a hybrid of the Tangelo, and the Minneola or Cushman Honeybell is the one to look for.  In fact, Cushman will ship you Honeybells at $2 a pop this year of Gift Quality Fruit.  I've had them, they're wonderful and that is why the company that created the fruit got bought up by Harry And David's, in most higher end malls near you...

The Honeybell orange is sweeter than whatever it is you get up north in your local markets.  They also are a bit softer due to the flesh having a higher water content than the typical navel or valencia.   When I was a snowbird, I'd go to this particular roadside nursery and get a half bushel for the vacation, and then get another one on the way back.   My sister was the beneficiary of this gift and she can tell you that these are a different flavor than what you will find in your typical orange.  Simply an amazing fruit, but horribly sloppy to eat.

Now that they're chilled, I'm going to have some fresh squeezed honeybell juice, and boy will I enjoy them.

Sorry, Pat, if you want some you're going to have to hunt.   The closest thing I found to a honeybell is a Tangelo.   They are good, but up north they're just not the same.   Smaller, dryer, and not quite a sweet.   The Tangelo is a "Typical Orange" in size.  A proper Honeybell is about the size of a Grapefruit.   They can be about 1/2 pound as well, or about 250g.   That's rather a lot for a single fruit.

And I have a half bushel in my refrigerator!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who knew that the beach can freak a dog out so much?

After going to the Vet, we drove up Federal to Oakland Park Blvd, and headed out to the Beach.  When I take her to the vet, I do truly try to make it up to her some and since Lettie loves the Car! SO MUCH! I take her on a short trip. 

I can't even use the word "take" without her perking and paying the utmost attention.

It was all smiles and tail wags even over the drawbridge out to A1A.  I was telling her how good a girl she was and that she'd get to see the Beach and the water and how beautiful it was.

Like in the Simpsons, what she heard was probably "Blah Blah Blah Ride Blah Blah Blah Good Girl Blah Blah Blah Water blah Blah Blah".  A word here and there picked out like you're programming your VCR and trying to get it right.   She speaks English but a much more condensed version so One Plus One can easily Equal Three.

Then I rounded that last bend and the Ocean opened up to the East and Mrs Dog went into Stress Overload.  She just doesn't understand what all that shiny blue stuff is!  She's from central Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg and was abandoned in Dauphin County.  The town they found her and sheltered her in was on the Susquehanna River, so she does understand what a River is, but probably doesn't like it.   She doesn't like the pool in the back yard either so Water is just Bath with a lot less fuss!

I never actually heard a Border Collie yodel before but she sounded like a cross between the Swiss Miss and a pack of Beagles in the back seat of the car.  Lettie actually avoided the view, preferring to look at the Sea Grape trees on the inland side of A1A in Ft Lauderdale.   I drove carefully and slowly since I liked it but it was clear that she was stressed out when she stuck her head through the two seats in the front and I felt the heat waft off of her.  

The last straw was when she spotted someone who had the absolute temerity of walking another dog on her beach.   Not that she wanted the beach but that dog had earned the right of being well and fully barked at.   Inside the car and with the windows up, it really did no good, but she had her say.  

The portion of the beach that we rode through and inland to Federal on Sunrise was about 2 miles, and she yodeled the entire time... barking at the few dogs along the way.  I turned north on Bayshore to see the back road and the nicer homes among the finger inlets and every time she saw the water again, we'd hear a 9 year old Border Collie yodel. 


When I turned west and inland she finally calmed down but she's now at my feet, exhausted, and that is where she'll be for the rest of the day.

Silly puppy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A ride to the Vet can cause a lot of stress!

On the day I took Mrs Dog to the vet, she thought that she was just getting a Ride! In! The! Car!

I put her in the car and left the driveway and she was very happy, engaged and enjoying the experience thoroughly... until I turned North on Federal.   At that point she began to suspect the evil V.. E.. T..

Evil isn't the word, they have some wonderful people there, bar none.   I've always found the experience a wonderful thing bonding with the women and men who work there.   Animal People are generally a more warm group of people than those who don't have pets in their lives, and the folks there are certainly no exception. 

One of Lettie's favorite things is riding in the car, and that certainly was the case until I pulled into the lot.   At that point, the ears went flat against the head, the tail stopped wagging and she begun to look stressed.  It is a shame because really they've treated her like she's one of the family but at 9 years old, she's now a senior and won't change.

I think every square inch of the property got sniffed twice.   She did her business and got in where she proceeded to sniff ever square inch of the lobby.  I swear that dogs and probably cats when stressed set out hormones that other dogs and cats smell.   Perhaps it is the adrenalin rush of the situation, but I've never seen Lettie be happy in a place like the Vet or a large Pet Friendly store.   It just doesn't happen.

While she's a healthy dog, and at 9 she's getting her baseline blood work, she does need some teeth cleaning done.   There's just no way that will happen.  If I look at her teeth, she will tend to sneer at me and I'm her primary caregiver.  I can't trust her to have her teeth cleaned unsedated, she'll get snappy and the work won't get done.  The last time and the first time that she had her teeth cleaned was two years ago.  They sedated her and she slept the next three days and was groggy for another two days.   I just won't put her through that again.

Well, it is truly all done until this time next year when Ride! In! The! Car! gets to cause some stress.   But they gave her some great treatment and lots of hugs and cookies and sent us on our way with heartworm meds and flea and tick drops for the next six months.

The stress is all in her mind.  I can't recommend this vet more highly.  They're excellent and if my dog doesn't understand the situation, it really is her problem, not theirs.

Silly dog!  All Done!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My dog would be a lousy card player

Every time she'd get a winning hand, she'd Doggy Smile, ears would perk, and the tail would wag.

Today is the trip to the V... E... T!

Not that the V E T is fun, mind you, but the C.. A.. R.. is!  Big time Fun.   Mrs Dog loves to go for rides in the C.. A.. R.. and if I were a truck driver, she'd be a perfect companion.  She is the best travelling companion that I know of, bar none.   Once I was driving south to Florida and had the roof off the car.  There was a sudden Thunderstorm and instead of pulling over and taking the 5 minutes to put up the roof, I drove onward.   Most people would be shrieking about putting up the roof, but Lettie just curled up into a Dog Ball and rested, content that she's Going For A Ride.  

She left a wonderful dry spot on the seat where she rested, and I think I can still see water spots on the dash five or so years later.

So today I've been saying "We're going for a Ride In The Car" at Mrs Dog and she'd perk at each word, cock her head, and wag her tail with a big ol' doggy smile, and be happy.   I've take to adding a "Wait" and "Later" and she calms down some, but since I'm about 5 minutes from getting up and out, she's still hovering.

Rides in the Car... Disneyland for Dogs!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

One Perfect Moment

Last night, New Years Eve, after the day at work, the Hot Tub was turned on.  It takes about 3 hours to get that to get up to temperature, so I had time to go out, walk the dog, say hi to the neighbors, make and eat dinner and even put my feet up for a while.

The weather was comfortable or even a little cool for us at this time of year, after dark.   It cooled down into the low 70s, and there was a gentle breeze off of the ocean.   This being New Years Eve, there were a low drone of neighbors with their own little display of fireworks lighting up the skies and the reports reflecting off of the buildings nearby.

I had turned on the radio, quietly, to a dance channel to add a little atmosphere and to give your mind something to wander to when you're winding down in the womb-like warmth.  Through the light and broken ceiling, the clouds let forth some stars, and the then Full Moon to light the back yard more than the solar powered LED lamps normally do, and there was a light glow to everything.

I fixed myself a large glass of Port Wine, and walked out into the evening and then settled into the Hot Tub.  It was warm and comfortable, and made you feel great.  With my arms outstretched around the one side, I looked up toward the full moon, raised my glass as a toast and thought, it just doesn't get any better than this.

One Perfect Moment.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year - or how Border Collies and Fireworks don't mix

Happy New Year

Now please lay off the fireworks?

At the time of writing, 9PM(ish) on New Years Eve, I'm sitting in my favorite Bouncy Chair, with the laptop on my lap, in a lull.   The lull is really quite nice because my favorite fur ball Border Collie, Lettie, truly hates Fireworks.

Earlier there was a brief flare up of pops and flashes that the neighbors a couple blocks over decided to have a bit of a show.  I rather like Fireworks, most Americans do, and it does seem to be something that gets done on Holidays.   Coming from South Jersey, Fireworks were a strictly professional affair.  They were quite banned by the cities and towns nearby, and individuals only had fireworks if they went somewhere that they were legal and you would have to sneak them into town.  Fire one off and the neighborhood kids would flock over to see what is going on.  Fire off too many and make sure you have a beer for the cops...

Here in South Florida, Fireworks are plentiful.  You can find fireworks at many convenience stores, and there's a firework superstore down in Dania.   I thought there was some sort of limitation on who could own what sort of fireworks, but I must be wrong because every block seems to have someone shooting them off.

Much to the Chagrin of my Border Collie.   Seemingly on cue, there was just a flare up and I had 47 pounds of black and white fear in my face.   Now I'm being stared at as if to say "Daddy, Make it STOP!".   Sorry, Girl, but its going to be like this for a couple weeks now.   Some day, you'll lose your hearing and it won't matter.  That won't be for a few more years, but for now, please try to deal with it.

No?  Ok, lets go for a walk and please stop barking at the sky!