Saturday, December 31, 2011


Velma sent this one to me this week and I liked it so much after reading it, I thought it was a great way to end out the year.   After all, who doesn't like watching someone else get confused?


Everyone should start carrying $2 bills!  I am STILL laughing!!   I think we need to quit saving our $2 bills and bring them out in public.  The younger generation doesn't even know they exist.


On my way home from work, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat.  In my billfold are a $50 bill and a $2 bill.   I figure that with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and  not have to worry about anyone getting irritated at me for  trying to break a $50 bill.

Me:   'Hi, I'd like one seven-layer burrito please, to  go.'
Server:    'That'll  be $1.04.  Eat in?'
Me:   'No, it's to go.'  At this point, I open my  billfold and hand him the $2 bill.  He looks at it kind  of funny.
Server:  'Uh, hang on a sec, I'll be right back.' 

He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within my earshot.  The following conversation occurs between the two of them:

Server:  'Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?'
Manager:  'No.  A what?'
Server:  'A $2 bill.  This guy just gave it to me...' 
Manager:  'Ask for something else. There's no such thing as a $2 bill.'
Server: 'Yeah, thought so.  'He comes back to me and says, 'We don't  take these.  Do you have anything else?'
Me:   'Just this fifty.  You don't take $2 bills?   Why?'
Server:  'I  don't know.' 
Me:   'See here where it says legal tender?' 
Server:  'Yeah.' 
Me:   'So, why won't you take it?'
Server:  'Well, hang on a sec.'

He goes back to his manager, who has  been watching me like I'm a shoplifter, and says to him, 'He  says I have to take it.'

Manager:  'Doesn't he have anything else?'
Server:  'Yeah, a fifty.  I'll get it and you can open the safe and get change.
Manager:  'I'm not opening the safe with him in here.' 
Server:   'What should I do?'
Manager:  'Tell him to come back later when he has real money.' 
Server:   'I can't tell him that!  You tell him.' 
Manager:  'Just  tell him.'
Server:  'No way!  This is weird.  I'm going in back. 

The manager approaches me and says, 'I'm sorry, but, we don't take big bills this time of  night.' 
Me:   'It's only seven o'clock!  Well then, here's a two dollar bill.'
Manager:  'We  don't take those, either.'
Me:   'Why not?'
Manager: 'I  think you know why.' 
Me:  'No  really, tell me why.'
Manager: 'Please leave before I call mall security.'
Me:   'Excuse me?'
Manager:  'Please  leave before I call mall security.' 
Me: 'What on earth for?'
Manager:  'Please,  sir.'
Me:   'Uh, go ahead, call them.'
Manager:   'Would you please just leave?'
Me:    'No.'
Manager:   'Fine  -- have it your way then.'
Me:   'Hey, that's Burger King, isn't it?'

At this point, he backs away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner.  I have two people staring at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just  for effect.  A few minutes later this 45-year-oldish guy comes in. 

Guard:   'Yeah, Mike, what's up?'
Manager (whispering):  'This guy is trying to give me some (pause) funny money.' 
Guard:   'No kidding! What?'
Manager:  'Get this.  A two dollar bill.' 
Guard  (incredulous):  'Why would a guy fake a two dollar  bill?' 
Manager:  'I  don't know.  He's kinda weird.  He says the only  other thing he has is a fifty.'
Guard:   'Oh, so the fifty's fake!'
Manager:   'No,  the two dollar bill is.'
Guard:   'Why would he fake a two dollar bill?' 
Manager:   'I don't know!  Can you talk to him, and get him out of  here?' 
Guard:   'Yeah.'

Security Guard walks over to me  and......

Guard: 'Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you're  trying to use.' 
Me:    'Uh, no.'
Guard:   'Lemme see 'em.'
Me:   'Why?'
Guard:   'Do you want me to get the cops in here?'

At this point I am ready to say, ' Sure, please!' but I want to eat, so I say, 'I'm just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this two dollar bill. I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I'm taking a swing at him.   He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and he says, 'Hey, Mike, what's wrong with this  bill?'

Manager: 'It's  fake.' 
Guard:   'It doesn't look fake to me.'

Manager:  'But it's a two dollar bill.'
Guard:   'Yeah? '
Manager:  'Well, there's no such thing, is there?'

The security guard and I both look at him like he's an idiot and it dawns on the guy that he has no clue and is an idiot.  So, it turns out that my burrito was free, and he threw in a small drink and some of those cinnamon thingies, too.  It made me want to get a whole stack of two dollar bills just to see  what happens when I try to buy stuff. 

Just think... those two will be voting soon!!?!


Too late, we already have a nation full of  them

Friday, December 30, 2011

Good Riddance 2011

Count me among those people.

The ones who are saying Good Riddance. 
Economy Collapse.
Republican Party Candidates that fit in well with Neo Fascist Beliefs.
Democrat Party that has slid to the right of the Republican Party of Pre Reagan era.
Housing Bubble.
$2 "Convenience Fees" from Clueless Capitalists.
Shaky Euro.
Jobs sent overseas by the 1%.
The 1% NOT sent overseas.
Tea Party morons.
Irradiated Fukushima caused by a Tsunami.
Hurricane in New Jersey and New England.

The whole year has been a Santorum of filth. 
(Don't look up the meaning of Santorum if you are of a weak constitution.  Trust me!)

I'm looking forward to 2012 working out some of that garbage.

A much better 2012 because of:

Obama's Second Term! 
The European Economy looks like it will stabilize.
There is a strong "Save The Euro" movement.
People are Pissed Off everywhere:
   Arab Spring.
   Peaceful Protests.
   Occupy Movement.
   Fewer Dictators.
Housing Prices seemingly have bottomed out in the US and the UK.
Growing awareness of our problems and a sense that we really can fix them.

It's a start.  See you in 2012.  I have a Canned Post for tomorrow.  Besides, they're already setting up for the New Years Eve celebration in the parking lot in front of the bars.  That's becoming a tradition here.  Our own little Times Square...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hey Monarchs, You Are Eating Yourself Out Of House And Home

Just the day before there was this daily dog walk.  I was walking past the M.E. DePalma Park and there was a small stand of Mexican Milkweed.  This seems to be the time of year in South Florida that the native species are all going to seed.

That is a good thing, time to drop seed so that they are going to grow more next year.

I may be wrong, it just seemed to me that a lot of the "Natives" there had tufts of fluff and were leaving seeds all over the place.

I decided to help them.

One of the seed pods of the Mexican Milkweed had burst open and the breezes had begun to scatter the seeds.  I took a sample of the seeds and became Johnny Appleseed.  Blowing into the tufts in my hand the breezes took the seeds and blew them down the block to hopefully find a place not grassed over and wild enough to grow.

Yesterday morning, walking around my yard I noticed that the caterpillars were all over the place trying to find a bit of sun to warm their little bodies.  Unfortunately the little bit of green you see above is about all that was left on each stick.  I plant the Milkweed in my yard because I like having the Butterflies here.  Many times, I will look out the window and a Black and Orange beauty floats by.

Unfortunately for them, they tend to lay their eggs all over my two pots of Milkweeds.  The plants have all their leaves eaten then the caterpillars are pretty much done for.  I've never seen them eat anything else.

The pot that I took this picture from had so many caterpillars on the plant that I gave up counting. 

I'd say that Johnny Milkweedseed has a bit of work to do.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kill A Plant For The Holidays?

Call this Before And After.

The Before would be the sad looking pile of sticks in front.  That's a Poinsettia plant that someone left literally on the side of the road.  Courtesy of them and my 6 AM dog walk, it now rests in the foreground of this shot.

The After would be the plant behind it in the shade.  That's Last Year's Poinsettia.  Someone left that one in a dumpster.  It was in the same shape as the sad pile of sticks in the foreground in the little pot.

Both of them will rest under my Orchids getting watered daily on the run off from the drip feed irrigation lines that we have installed.  It won't take a year but the one you see here will end up as healthy as the one from last year.

Honestly folks, it isn't that hard to do.  When you get a plant check it at least twice a week to see if it needs water.  In an office, more frequently may even be worth it.   The pretty red, pink or white leaves will stay on the plant longer and having it there will show the person who gave it to you that you really did care for the gesture you made.

Just don't leave it outside on a day that the temperature drops near freezing.  They don't like that.

I have a habit of collecting plants.  I have ever since I was a wee loudmouthed brat.  Now, I have a whole back yard to fill.  In reality not a whole back yard.   The collection is getting unwieldy, but it is pretty in its own right. 

All but the citrus trees.  They're starting to look sad.  There's something back there eating them.  I'm thinking I may have to start spraying those again. 

It's a challenge.  A welcome one but a challenge.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

So really, why do foods fall out of fashion?

So really, why do foods fall out of fashion? 

I understand that things are regional.  Tomatoes are just better if they're grown in South Jersey in someone's back yard.   Oranges taste better if you pick them from the tree in your yard in Florida or California and aren't injected with dyes.

I was reading this entertaining article about Tomato Aspic a good friend sent me.  I've never had this stuff, and she described it as a Congealed Bloody Mary.

You're not winning me over with that one!  I never did like "Bloodies".  In fact, I'd really avoid those like the plague at a brunch preferring the much sweeter Mimosa - OJ and Champagne. 

The article gave the history of the dish in an entertaining fashion, I've read her writings occasionally and enjoy her style, but still ... Bloody Mary?   Thanks, I'll pass. 

By the time I finished the article I had noticed that there were some things listed in there that I had never had before moving to Florida.  Green Bean Casserole?  Yep, my neighbor brought that over a month or two ago and I am waiting for the fridge to clear some of the holiday treats before I defrost that.  Mini Marshmallows in Lime Green Jello?  Ok, that one I've had before.  I think it is universal.  Doesn't take much thought and just about every Non Cook can make it.  Usually it had a can of "fruit salad" dumped into it with neon red Maraschino Cherries.

I'd pick out the cherries.   Love those little sugar bombs to this day.  My sister sends me a box of those little sugary bombs that are wrapped in Chocolate for Xmas each year.  We look enjoy and forward to that one.  Since Jersey was one of those weird places that you couldn't get them in Brandy, the Cherry Cordials were the G Rated kind.  I've had the ones in Brandy and THOSE are a "big boy" treat if you can find them!

Pat was extra generous this year, I got the G Rated ones in Milk and Dark chocolate. Yum!

If I had served the "Mini Marshmallow" dish at a party, everyone would look at it, laugh and some would pick at the stuff.  While reviled, it would be nibbled at and almost universally missing from the buffet table by the end of the meal. 

Mind you I'm not brave enough to try to serve that one.  I'll stick with my baked goods.

After pondering it all, I came to the reason that was implied in the article... Make what you like and if someone makes a rude comment about it, they are welcome to wear it home.

I'll just pass on the Tomato Aspic.  I'm brave but not quite that brave!

Thanks M.E. I got a great smile out of that article. 

I never did come up with a conclusion but does there have to be a reason for everything?

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Very First Boil Water Order

It started with a Knock On The Door.

No, no "Black Hawk Helicopters In The Night".  You've been watching too much bad TV.

My neighbor across the street asked me if I had any water pressure as they were going to prepare for the next day's holiday dinner.   It was December 24th, and she had work to do!

So I walked to the sink and turned on the spigot.  Just a trickle.  This would be interesting.

I put a big container under the trickle and captured 1/2 gallon of the last of the tap water.  Running through my head was the old BBC drama about nuclear war in Sheffield England called "Threads".  The city was ruined by bombs.  The protagonist walks to the tap and gets that same trickle as it runs out.  I look out the Kitchen Window and think I'm in a much better place.  After all, I still had glass in my windows and this was just a minor inconvenience as the trickle stops and becomes a sucking sound.

Getting news these days is easier, you just don't have to worry for the talking heads to lie to you on the one eyed babysitter, you can get your misinformation like everyone else, online.  In my case, I sat back in the comfy chair and checked my Facebook news feed. 

Once I got the thing back to where it belonged - Chronological Order that is.   Hey Zuckerberg, nice try but whatever algorithm you're using to sort things into a "news feed" is useless. 

Friends were making comments that there was no water pressure throughout North Broward County.   It turned out that Wilton Manors, Oakland Park and Fort Lauderdale were effected by a water main break in Oakland Park and we were going to have no pressure for a couple hours that night.

I still had two cases of those bottles on hand, turned off the ice maker since there was a full bin, and plenty to spare for me, the dog, and the parrot.

Water here usually has a brown tinge to it and it took me a while to get used to thinking that was "normal".  No wonder why Floridians drink so much filtered and bottled water.

When growing up, I never gave it much thought.  I lived in Cherry Hill, NJ.  Water was always there, crystal clear, and some of the best stuff I have ever had from the tap anywhere even if it did smell slightly of Chlorine.

Let me say that again.  Anywhere.

We never had any weird water main breaks or for that matter power outages.  Sure, it would get cold but you just don't get things like Hurricanes, or at least you didn't until this year when Irene paid the Jersey Shore a visit.  

The next morning I tested the tap and it was back to normal for about five seconds.  Then out came a burp of air and water that looked like someone dumped chalk into the tap.  It came out white for a bit then went for what passes for clear.

Boil Water Order in effect until Monday.  At that point it was a day away, this was Xmas and I had a day to get through.

No problem there right?  You have to boil water anyway to make coffee, especially in a french press.  Except a boil water order means if it goes in you, it has to boil at a rolling boil for a solid minute minimum.   It still is brown but it comes out with all the nasties dead.

Everyone likes dead nasties, right?

They taste better that way.   A little e-coli will ruin your day.   A lot will kill you.

They're planning on lifting the boil water order at noon today.  The stuff in the tap can go "on me, not in me" so showers and laundry are fine.  

On the other hand, to do your toothbrushing you have an interesting dance to do. 

It's all rather amusing...

First, assuming there is no bottled water in the house, you have to boil water and let it boil for a solid minute.

Second Rinse the Tooth brush and do your normal brushing.  This is over the kitchen sink, right?  After all, you'll be needing that kettle full of water to go through the motions of cleaning the brush and rinsing.

Now that you're through, how do you rinse?  After all the water was boiling just three minutes ago.  Did you reserve some from the last batch?   You'll find yourself boiling a lot of water just to go through the motions.

This morning when I went to make coffee, I found myself at the kettle three different times.   Once for Coffee, Once for Tea, Once for me for later.

I could have opened the bottled water, but why?   After all, it gives me an excuse to make more coffee.

So if I look really, REALLY awake, you'll know why!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Howl-a-Days 2011

Have a Happy Howl-A-Days from Lettie the Well Lit Dog!

Oh the picture?   Sure, you want a story...

You see I was going to take this shot for a couple days and last night I thought why not do it now before the dog walk.  I unwound the battery powered LED lights from the little Charlie Brown tree I have here and then wrapped the lights around the dog.

Lettie is a very intelligent animal with a very "soft" personality.  By that I mean she only does well if you speak softly to her, don't get upset, be gentle and maintain routine.   She dislikes "weird".  She will growl at things as simple as being pet "wrong". 

This was going to be a challenge.

As soon as I wrapped the lights around her, very loosely I might add, she went into pouty dog mode.  She kept coming back to me as if to hide.   Dad, don't make me look like this.  Take it off.  NOW! 

Trying to get her to sit was a trial.   She had to be put into the right pose.  She would not stay there and immediately got up and came over as if to say "Hey big guy, this stuff looks stupid, take it off now!"

I nudged her backwards.
She came to me.
I pushed her onto her sit position.
She came to me.
I put her on her Mat.
She came to me.
I walked over to get a little distance to frame the shot.
She came to me.

So after about 20 pictures, none of which worked well, you have the results.

Enjoy your holiday folks, I'm going to start wrapping up all the LED lights.   It seems the dog doesn't really like them after all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What Is Celibacy - Humor

This one is especially timely for me at least.  I've been baking bread since 7am today.   The house is full of cookie sheets with Dough Balls rising to become rolls later on.

What is Celibacy?

Celibacy can be a choice in life, or a condition imposed by circumstances.

While attending a Marriage Weekend, Frank and his wife Ann listened to the instructor declare, “It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other.”

He then addressed the men.  “Can you name and describe your wife's favorite flower?”

Frank leaned over, touched Ann’s arm gently, and whispered, “Gold Medal-All-Purpose, Isn't it?”

And thus began Frank's life of celibacy.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Another Reason Why I am Staying with T-Mobile

Definitely not a rant, I've found T-Mobile to be consistently easy to deal with.  After hearing horror stories about people with their iDevices on their AT&T accounts, I'm hanging on for as long as it works for me.  I've been an account holder there since 2005 when I came to the store at Broward and Federal in Downtown Fort Lauderdale on vacation just so I could get a phone with a Broward County Area Code.

Long story there, some time I may share it.

Yesterday I forgot to turn the phone on.  Not very bright but hey that's life.  I reached into my pocket as I was going to change into shorts since it's been nice here the last week, and turned it on. 

That was when it happened. 

The Deluge of Texts.

You see if you try to text my phone, it won't work.  I have all messaging turned off.   It's blocked.  Call me instead.  If you're so rushed that you can't say hello then you aren't really devoting the time that is necessary to those around you.  Plus you're reaching into my pocket and taking away some cash.  Stop it, I don't have enough money as it is and if you do go through with it you will have a very irate and bent out of shape Moose looking down at you with all of 6'4" and 223 pounds yelling at you like a Drill Instructor.

I *CAN* Play a D.I. on TV.  Trust me.  It's not a good idea.

I could rant on about texting, I just don't think it's a good idea either.  You do, fine, that's your thing. 

Text me and I'll do rude things to you with a Festivus Pole.  Seeing that today is the day...

Those four texts were spam.  Since I have messages blocked they should not have gotten through.  At all.  Ever.  Something strange was happening.  My phone number is a repetitive series of numbers, very easy to remember, so what happens is that random people have used it as theirs in "nosy" forms.  When I get a wrong number it is usually strange and entertaining.

Like the one time that someone tried to insist that I have a Lexus and that I needed to make payments on it.

No, I have a Jeep, as the readers of this blog know.

Never mind... Time to start calling T-Mo's Customer Care Line.   All ... Day... Long.

Turns out my phone lost its programming for the quick call code of #611.  It went into a black hole and never came out.

*Grumble*  I tried that number all day at random intervals instead of doing the right thing and going online and finding the direct toll free number - 877-746-0909 and talking to them directly.

I just programmed that in my phone.  Makes it easier if I have to call again.   I say "if" since I have had to call T-Mobile exactly 3 times since February 2005. 


Pretty much trouble free.

So after calling that line all day yesterday, I went onto the website and found the number, then said "Dispute Messages" and "Yes" into the phone and spoke with a very helpful person.  

We chatted for about 10 minutes about how I have an old phone, the general service, and other things. She said that there's now a super-duper block for that sort of nasty spam that I got and there are no charges on it and I'm golden.   I also qualify for a $5 discount on my existing plan as well as I'm qualified for a new free phone or discount on another. 

I've always carried "Dumb Phones".  They're much smaller and sturdier.   If I'm on skates and fall, I don't want a fragile little iPhone to have a cracked screen.  The little Nokia that I have isn't much but it's lasted more than 2 years and isn't showing any wear despite being dropped more times than I care to count.  Remember that if you're all dressed up in skate gear, you're desperately limited on what you can carry.  It's hot, you need to carry at least two water bottles, car keys, wallet, power bars and much much more.  An iPhone may be thin but it just would not survive next to all that necessary "crap" for long.  I'm an Elite Inline Skater, but even I fall from time to time.  Small and tough is best.  If I could find a MilSpec phone that is built for heavy duty I'd probably jump on that if I could justify the cost.

I do have a pair of old iPhones.   The environment is interesting, but the hardware is fragile.  So I use it to listen to web radio on the wifi network here, as well as use the messaging client to text to one or two very specific people.  After all, it's now on my terms.   My Terms mean Texting is Not An Always Thing.  It isn't "Mission Critical".  I don't want to be meeting with someone and have a BONG! go off and be compelled to break concentration to answer a "Whatcha Doin" text from someone who isn't there.  

Gawd I'm on that again.  Needless to say, the iPhone stays home.

So for $8 a month minus my $5 discount for a net of $3 I can get web access on the next phone.   Or not.  Don't know.  I really do need small, light and tough more than glowy, fancy and web enabled.

But we will look into all of that next week.   I'll be having a chat with that friendly person on the T-Mobile customer care line about upgrading and so forth after I have a chance to look it all over.

After all, my old school dumb phone is still working and will continue working for a couple more years.

Oh and those texts?  They're repeated below in all their glory.  These are sleazy companies that would do this sort of thing.  After all 9.99 can't be worth what ever service they are providing per month. 

72407 Ur IQ score is waiting! Reply YES to this message to see how smart u r now! $9.99 per month stop 2end

72407 Repeat above

Congratulations! You can qualify for an iPad2! To find out more, go to Limited Supplies. to unsub reply STOP

Thanks for your submission!  Claim your $100 Gift Card now. Go to to unsub reply STOP

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Good Barbecue Table Sauce and an Average Pulled Pork

I was looking for the worlds simplest barbecue sauce recipe.  I found the one below.  It actually isn't bad, it's got a strong flavor but it is specifically called a "Table Sauce".  This is the stuff you see in a squeeze bottle that you pour over your barbecue in a restaurant or a picnic table.  This isn't the stuff you put in the pot to cook your pulled pork.  It was too watery for that.   To really get the right flavor for your meal, you would want to use 1/2 of this sauce in the crock pot, and reduce the rest of the sauce to a "catsup like consistency". 

I wanted no cook, I got no cook.  It didn't mean that it would be right to put 4 pounds of pork in a crock pot, add the sauce below, and walk away.   That's what I did.   The pork was... acceptable but wasn't exceptional.  

Then again, it's an Emeril Recipe.  I've found Emeril's recipes to be "Not For Me".  Either too spicy or too salty or like this not quite right for what I was doing.  That's my mistake.  The recipe I have below I will save, but I will also remember to keep it on the table, not on the pork.

Here's the sauce:

Barbecue Sauce:

    1 cup apple cider vinegar
    1 cup ketchup
    3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
    1 tablespoon yellow mustard
    1 tablespoon molasses
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Place in a squeeze bottle and dress the pulled pork sandwiches to taste.

Notice the last sentence?  Dress the sandwiches to taste?  I didn't do that.  My Fault, and I will Eat My Mistake.   After all it came out "acceptable".

You can see the pot before I pressed go.  So beautiful and so much promise.  First of all, add 4 pounds of Pork to your crock pot.  I sliced it down the middle just to make it more manageable.  I added the sauce which in reality was twice as much as I needed for the actual cooking.  Then I covered it all up and allowed it to marinade overnight.  No real reason, just my preference.

The next morning, 6AM to be exact, I put the crock in the heater and pressed Low and 10 Hours on the crock pot.

I would say that was about 2 hours too long.  It is my first time cooking a batch of Pulled Pork this way.  Remember, cooking in one of those crock pots is supposed to be fool proof, but this fool got in the way. 

A strong hint is to put the meat in the pot, then starting around hour 4, flip it every half hour or so and test the temperature and texture.  160F seems to be the happy temperature for pork, you may want to research it since lately I've seen as low as 140F for a roast or chops.

I did have this last night for dinner.  It went well with my home made rolls.  Definitely worth the effort but technique is what got in the way.  Hey, I'm not a professional chef, but I could play one on TV!

Remember, Table Sauce for the table, you will want something a bit thicker for the crock pot since the meats will cook in their own juices.

For the vegetarians in my family like my Godmother up in Wellington, I'd be interested in trying this with some Tofu and vegetables.  It would make an interesting Vegetarian stew.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ruellia Flower for the Last Day of Autumn

I'm still playing "Remote Navigator" today.  I got a phone call from someone on I-95 in Woodbridge VA complaining about the weather.  It was 55F there.  He's used to Florida Temps and at 9 in the morning, that would be "high winter" here.  Probably would be the weather here in Late January.

So I said I'd share a little color.  Apparently the winter up North has just been wet, and for the next couple days the Big Cities of the Northeast will be under a lot of rain.   Don't forget your umbrellas folks.

So was my back yard, but it was artificial.  I grabbed this picture of the Ruellia blossom after it was watered on Irrigation Day.  Since I liked how it turned out after a gentle crop and resize, I thought I would share it here.

Yes, tomorrow is the first day of Winter.  The sun at its peak will be the lowest in the sky it is all year.  But cheer up folks, the days will get longer from here on out.

After all, it's going to be in the low 80s here in South Florida.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Playing Virtual Navigator

It used to be that way back before the days of the GPS there was this thing on paper called a map.  That map would work well for centuries until the ubiquity of the computer happened.   Combine some bits and pieces and then you have a small hand held device that will give you directions and tell you if there's traffic ahead.

You know, back seat driver territory.

So what do you do if you've got no GPS or are smart enough to leave one out of the car?

I guess you draft someone like me.  

I've got a friend heading North for the holidays.   He'll be driving to the Auto Train, then getting off and proceeding to his destination.  

The calls have not started yet, but I'm expecting them.

Ring... "Hey where's that Orange Store?  I want to get some Honeybells!" 
You should have taken that almost ripe one off the tree but you have an exit for the store just ahead...

Ring... "It's raining here, how big is the storm?"
It's just a pixel on the radar, you should be out of it by now.

Ring... "There's traffic!  What's the alternate route?"
You should have gotten off of the service road at the last exit.  Next Exit is 10 miles up.  You're in the middle of nowhere.

Have a safe trip and get back soon!  I've got an orange to pick for lunch.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Worlds Quickest Key Lime Pie and Whipped Cream Recipes

Ok, no pic here.  The pie is gone save the one piece in the refrigerator.  The last piece looks sad, it was broke in half when I slopped it onto the plate.

In fact it might have been better described as a Key Lime Cobbler if that makes sense.

You see how it happened was we were getting ready for dinner and I wanted to have a proper dessert.  After baking a solid 9 days in a row, I wanted something for me.

We always keep a can of pie filling in the cupboard, and making a Key Lime Pie is kind of involved.  Six eggs, a can of sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, many other fiddly ingredients, bake for so many minutes.  It can be simpler but I just don't trust the traditional recipe of what is basically a refrigerator pie with all those eggs.

So fast and easy right?

Two ingredients.

1 Can of Key Lime Filling.
1 Ready made Graham Cracker Crust.

Pour the Key Lime filling into the crust, toss in oven at 350F for 15 minutes until it gels.


Oh Topping?

That I did splurge on.  I had some whipping cream in the refrigerator and decided to have fun.  I Made Foam.

Take 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and whip until it begins to peak.
Add 1 teaspoon of Vanilla.
Add 1 Tablespoon of confectioner's sugar.
Whip until it gets to the Hard Peak stage. 


Coat the top of the pie and enjoy.

Oh don't forget to cool the pie first.  Whipped Cream does not like to be hot.

Sometimes, Lazy can be Good.  I'll be finishing that last slice today with lunch.  I took half of the pie to the neighbors across the street last night and they enjoyed it too.  That "recipe" if you want to call it that is pretty much the standard for making a pie from a canned fruit filling.  You can let it go longer if you want more of a caramelized top to the fruit filling.

Not much to it huh?  Kind of demystifies it doesn't it.  That is why I buy Graham Cracker Crusts in a six-pack from the local Warehouse store. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Hand

Velma sent me this story, and in the rush of this hectic season, it got missed.  I was reading through emails sent to me by good friends who thought I might want to share, and this one touched me.

So mentally replace Thanksgiving with the holiday of your choice, or for that matter, just any day of the week.  It works any way you read it. 

Just... enjoy.


Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher gave her class a fun assignment -- to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.

Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student's art. And they were.

But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy. He was the teacher's true child of misery, frail and unhappy. As other children played at recess, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.

Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. nothing else, just an empty hand.

His abstract image captured the imagination of his peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went -- until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.

When the children had gone on to other assignments, she paused at Douglas' desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was.  The little boy looked away and murmured, "It's yours, teacher."

She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, "Take my hand, Douglas, we'll go outside." Or, "Let me show you how to hold your pencil." Or, "Let's do this together." Douglas was most thankful for his teacher's hand.  Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.

The story speaks of more than thankfulness. It says something about teachers teaching and parents parenting and friends showing friendship, and how much it means to the Douglas’s of the world. They might not always say thanks.  But they'll remember the hand that reaches out.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Holidays are Coming, Some Thoughts on Giving

Since the Holidays are almost here, yes all of the holidays and not just "yours", Velma passed this along. 

There are some folks who decide to do some end of the year giving to different charities.  If you're going to do that, send your money to where it does the most good.   If the charity is in a big building that has its name slammed all over the side on a main street, chances are it is spending too much on its own upkeep.   If they pay their Board of Directors big salaries, chances are the money is not going where it should.

You will see what I mean below:

As you open your pockets for the next natural disaster, please keep these facts in mind:

· The American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans salary for the year was $651,957 plus expenses

· The United Way President Brian Gallagher receives a $375,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits.

· UNICEF CEO Caryl M. Stern receives $1,200,000 per year (100k per month) plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE . Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause.


· The American Legion National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Disabled American Veterans National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Military Order of Purple Hearts National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Vietnam Veterans Association National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Windows Task Manager Shows You Why Your Browser is Slow

Things to do while your browser runs amok...

After making up two batches of bread dough this morning, I settled into the usual routine of looking online at the job boards.   That is a long drawn out process for me, where I am searching over 150 pages and it typically takes over three hours on a "slow day".   Fridays are 150 pages plus the beginning of the weekly search is added in for yet another 200 pages of "fun".

I was going through all this happiness and realized that things were beginning to slow down.  Being a Project Manager, and having done more than my fair share of support on the desktop as well as large scale Financial Systems, I began to poke around.

Ever wonder what's eating up all of your computer instead of just unplugging it and plugging it back in?

Ok, on Windows 7 (and the predecessors) there is something called "Windows Task Manager".  It's not perfect, but it will give you some basic information.  You can't really hurt anything with it and it can let you know why your browser is running slow.

To get it to run is simple.  Hold down the Left side Shift and Ctrl button with one hand, then hit the Esc key.  "SHIFT+CTRL+ESC". 

A window will pop up that has the list of Applications that are running that you should know of just by looking at your PC.  To find out the juicy stuff, look at the second tab called "Processes" by clicking on it.

The Processes tab will have a list of all of the things that are running that you can see plus all of the things that you can't see.  There are usually a few things that are behind the scenes and I won't go into them since for a "casual" user, it's probably over your head.  This will suffice for the majority of people.  Each of those columns can be clicked on and the Task Manager will happily sort them in descending or ascending order.  I usually have mine set to sort the Memory column descending.  What that shows me is the really greedy programs out there.

You can see from that list that the Plugin Container for Firefox has run amok. 

Steven Jobs was right about one thing, Adobe Flash is a minefield of problems for a computer and that will eventually crash after making Firefox unusable.  Once it crashes, the browser will run normally until tomorrow when I start looking at more web pages.

The other column that could be useful to sort is the CPU column.  That's telling you just how much of your computer's processor is being used by a program at this time.   If it's more than a couple percent, it bears watching.   For a while, the plug in container was at 50 percent.

In fact this has gone on for so long that I'm writing this blog posting in a word processor instead of in the usual web interface from Blogger.  I'll have to restart the browser since I'm getting some real entertaining messages from Firefox warning me about scripts running amok.

Yes, folks, even the support people have problems with crappy web pages.  It's not just you.  But at least now you have a way to diagnose some of the problems instead of being confused.  It's ok to be confused too because we all get that way from time to time.

Sigh... time for a "restart" I guess!  Back later!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Poinsettia is in Bloom For The Winter Holidays

You see, the red bits are the leaves.  The actual flowers are the little things in the middle of the red leaves.  The nice thing about that is that if you don't kill your Poinsettia, the red leaves will stay on the plant into next year.

Surveying the yard and looking at my recent attempt of Landscaping, I spotted the pots and thought just in time for the Winter Holidays.   We used to have Poinsettia every year, but try as I like, it would never last long enough to make it through to the next year. 

New Jersey is not tropical.  No matter that they have Palm Trees growing indoors at every mall in the State, it seems, it just isn't tropical.

On the other hand, my back yard is much closer to the mark.  Even if where I have this particular pair of plants is under a Lanai that runs about 10 degrees or more hotter than out in the open, these two plants seem to like it there.

I'd put them in the ground but I think I'd get some static about that.   They're doing well, these pots are mess catchers.   If you irrigate orchids, the water will mostly pour through to the ground so why not add some more color by putting pots under them.   So all over the back yard, where there's an orchid, there's a pot under it getting overwatered.

Like that fabled person in San Juan, Costa Rica once said:  "It's the tropics, if it's a seed and you drop it on the ground, it's going to grow". 

That all makes it much easier for me to have too many plants all over my crowded back yard.

I have a neighbor on an adjoining property that likes papaya trees.  They have turned the back yard into a plantation.  If I can grow coleus, poinsettia, orange, lemon, and two varieties of hibiscus in pots, why not grow fruit trees densely packed in the yard?

If it were just a little closer I'd reach over and ... Yum!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Kitchen Week

The problem with home made gifts is that you have to take the time to actually make them.

The result is I spend most of Mid December's free time in the kitchen watching over a pot or an oven.

Over roasting coffee that I need so that if I go somewhere, I have something to bring.   At 6 minutes 30 seconds plus 25 minutes cooling time for 1/2 cup of beans it gets time consuming.  That is roughly one pot.

Luckily there's a breeze blowing through the house and the neighbors get to smell coffee roasting.  I'd rather not wear that "cologne" all day, even through the shower.

One day is making the cookie dough, the next is baking, the third is second guessing whether you made enough and you make that "reserve" or "emergency" batch .. just in case.

A cookie sheet worth of Pecan Brittle?  Sure, there goes another couple hours.

Running low on rolls for dinner?  May as well set the yeasties to work and bake some bread after the cookies are done.  After all it's easier to warm an oven than it is to cool it down.

Still have some of the crystalline ginger?  Yep!  It keeps for 3 months on the counter in dry conditions.

If I come across those recipes I'll share them.  The bread rolls and the ginger were recently on the blog.

The cookies?  My Secret Recipe?  Hey every good cook has their own specialties.  Just make sure your stand mixer is working.  It might be a good idea to make up another 4 3/4 pound batch of dough and freeze it for emergencies...


I know this non baker who would love to show off with some home made slice and bake cookies.

Oh the recipe by the way is the famous Internet Cookie Recipe, with a few tweaks.  Both of them.  No oatmeal and no espresso in the cookies.  Espresso is for dunking the cookies and oatmeal is for breakfast!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If You Love Me, You'll Yawn At Me

Yawning is contagious.


Not always.

Yes, it is a lawyers' answer.   It depends.

I had caught an article on the BBC earlier, and was amused by it so I decided to test it out.  You see, yawning doesn't mean you're bored, it means your oxygen levels in the brain are low so you open your gaping maw to take in more air and show off your molars.

It has been said that you shouldn't yawn in public because it's contagious, but that's not the entire story.   If you're in a group, it turns out those who are closest to you emotionally will be more likely to yawn and those who don't know you would not.

So find your dog and yawn at her.   I can usually get mine to yawn back.

Your partner?  They're not boring you, they may yawn back.

If you love me you'll yawn at me.

We're onto something here.   Prove to me you love me, yawn back.

Chatting with someone about that date they had last night?  Ask them if they think that it will pass the Yawn Test.  After all, if they won't yawn in your presence, what else won't they do?

Walking down the street and seeing someone you know?  Find out just how well they know you.  Yes, you guessed it, yawn at them.  If they yawn back, it's Best Friend Forever material.

Just don't do it in the middle of a sentence, they may not understand.   After all, some people aren't as enlightened as you are.  

As Freud Said, Sometimes A Cigar Is Just A Cigar.

Then again, we can now say Sometimes A Yawn Says I Care For You!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Streamline Your Holiday Cookie Baking With Slice And Bake

No, I do not mean go to the frozen aisle of the supermarket and buy someone else's cookie dough.   You can ALWAYS tell the difference.

This really is about technique.  I'm That Guy Who Bakes.  Every Holiday Season I'm making large batches of Cookie Dough and baking cookies at 32 a pound and bringing them along.  In fact, as I have said, they're requested and even demanded at potluck dinners.

One batch of Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Dough made 4 3/4 pounds of Cookie Dough.  That's way too much to do the old Scoop and Place method of baking. You end up with a tired wrist and it takes too long.  Making the dough is simple for me, I have the stand mixer and I have been making these cookies for so long that the ink has faded on the printout for the recipe.

This really isn't about a specific recipe, there are millions of them out there and everyone has their favorite.

After all, I have posted a lot of recipes here, and if you're looking for some challenges, do a search here on my blog for the tag "recipe" or "Cooking" or even "extreme cooking" and have fun.  I'd like to hear how your baking turned out!

No, this is about the WAY you make the cookies.

You see a couple years back, more than 5 years ago because I was doing this when I lived in Philly, I got tired.  That year I needed more than a first batch of cookie dough.  I turned out about 10 pounds of cookies that season for parties and gifts and was wiped out when I had to go to batch 2 in a day.  I got to thinking how people will make those awful "slice and bake" things from the store and call them their own.  Some were smart and got some dough from a professional baker and the results were great, but I just couldn't do that either. 

Had to be my own. It was tradition.

So I had a "lightbulb moment".  I realized that the only thing that stopped me from having my own slice and bake recipe was the tube they came in.   I got out the warm dough that was too warm to scoop and put a pound down on some cling film then got creative.  Shaping it into a rough "snake" or "sausage" shape, I then folded the cling film over on the dough and got it as regular as I could.  A nice clean cylinder.

Then I put it in the refrigerator and waited until tomorrow.

That wait firmed up the dough so it could be sliced once I removed the plastic.  After all, nobody likes to eat plastic. 

That really is it.  Just roll it all up, chill, slice, and bake.

So why was this so earth shattering?  Simple, it gave the cook time to rest.   A fresh cook makes for a more efficient baker.  Today I mix, tomorrow I bake.  It takes about an hour to make one batch of dough, and the cookies take their own time.  Making more dough means another hour and if the oven is running, the dough gets too warm to work so you end up chilling it anyway.  This simply makes it more efficient to shape.

A simple "kitchen hack" but it make it much easier for me to get all those cookies done.

The other wrinkle is that the dough would keep in the freezer, up to a month or three.   When I was ready to make the next batch in January or March, I'd find a log of cookie dough in the freezer, thaw it slightly and slice away.  I learned I could make a batch and not have to eat the whole blasted thing and my belt line liked that.

The deal with the 32 cookies per pound means that I'm making 1/2 ounce cookies.  "Standard" sized, not those monsters you get at the mall.  60 calories per cookie means I can have one each with each of my three mugs of coffee and not feel (too) guilty. 

See it's all thought out.  Nothing earth shattering but that is how I do it.  Anything to make things easier in a busy time of year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Nun Was Sitting - Humor

Sorry about the Caps on this one.  It came to me from Velma in a rather nice font that won't work on the web all in caps.  Translated onto here and it's all big and SHOUTY and I'm just not going to type it all back in.

The story is cute none the less!

Thanks Velma!











Saturday, December 10, 2011

Embarrassing Medical Exams - Humor

No matter how comfortable you are with your doctor, there's always a little bit of embarrassment that comes along with the ritual.  Don't worry, the doctor sometimes feels it too.   Here are a few stories submitted by doctors about their exams...


I remember the story of the woman who borrowed some personal stuff from her daughter before her exam. The Doc spread her legs and said, "My, don't we look nice". She had sprayed sparkle on herself instead of deodorant. Need to read the labels when borrowing stuff.
Los Angeles, CA

A man comes into the ER and yells, ‘My wife’s going to have her baby in the cab!’ I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady’s dress, and began to take off her underwear. Suddenly, I noticed that there were several cabs — and I was in the wrong one.

Submitted by Dr. Mark MacDonald, San Antonio , TX

During a patient’s two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications. ‘Which one?’ I asked.
‘The patch, the nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours, and now I’m running out of places to put it!’
I had him quickly undress, and discovered what I hoped I wouldn’t see.
Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body! Now, the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.
Submitted by Dr. Rebecca St . Clair, Norfolk , VA.

At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall.

'Big breaths,' . . . I instructed.
'Yes, they used to be,' . . . replied the patient.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes ,
Seattle , WA

While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, ' How long have you been bedridden? '
After a look of complete confusion she answered . . . ' Why, not for about twenty years - when my husband was alive. '

Submitted by Dr. Steven Swanson-
Corvallis , OR

I was performing rounds at the hospital one morning and while checking up on a man I asked . . . ' So how's your breakfast this morning? '
'It's very good except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can't seem to get used to the taste.' . Bob replied..
I then asked to see the jelly and Bob produced A foil packet labeled ' KY Jelly. '

Submitted by Dr. Leonard Kransdorf ,
Detroit ,

AND FINALLY!! ! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...

As a new, young MD doing his residency in OB. I was quite embarrassed when performing female pelvic exams... To cover my embarrassment I had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly.

The middle-aged lady upon whom I was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and further embarrassing me. I looked up from my work and sheepishly said. . .
I'm sorry. Was I tickling you? '
She replied with tears running down her cheeks from laughing so hard . . ..

' No doctor but the song you were whistling was . . .
' I wish I was an Oscar Mayer Wiener .. '

Dr. wouldn't submit his name....    


Baby's First Doctor Visit

This made me laugh out loud.
I hope it will give you a smile!

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby's first exam.
The doctor arrived, and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.
'Breast-fed, ' she replied..

' Well, strip down to your waist, ' the doctor ordered.

She did. He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.

Motioning to her to get dressed, the doctor said, ' No wonder this baby is underweight. You don ' t have any milk. '

I know, ' she said, ' I'm his Grandma,

But I'm glad I came

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crystalline Ginger Ate My Kitchen

I'm up for a challenge.

In the kitchen, it's pretty simple.  Find something you like that you've never tried to make, or your family has never made, and then do it your own self.   If someone else can do it, you certainly can.

Someone a long time ago introduced me to Crystalline Ginger.  If you have had Ginger Ale, it's sweet.  Chinese Restaurants can serve Ginger Chicken and it is typically savory with a strong ginger bite.   Ginger Snaps can be either spicy or sweet or both.

Crystalline Ginger will entice you with the spicy sweet scent of ginger, then it will smack you around with a pungent bite that you will feel for a while after your first taste.   You really do have to like the taste of Ginger to enjoy this.  It's sweet but not highly so, and you are chewing on little dime to quarter sized pieces of the actual Ginger Root so you have got to be expecting a lot of flavor.

Some folks like red hot chili peppers.  The food, not the music group.   I can take it or leave it.  It's frequently "overdone" so instead of getting the flavor of the food, you just get a wall of hot.

The process was very simple. 

Get the root from your store.  I got a 3/4 pound of firm root.  It should give slightly when you press it, but not be mushy.  The root will smell of fresh ginger, a sweet and spicy pleasant smell.  

Peel the root.  Don't use a potato peeler, it will remove too much of the flesh.   The skin is paper thin, so use a teaspoon and get the skin off of it.  Surprisingly, this will do the job just right.

Cut the root in coin sized discs.  The discs should not be larger than a quarter and around as thick.

In a sauce pan, bring 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to a slow simmer.   Mix until it is an even syrup.  You just made something called "Simple Syrup".

Add your Ginger Root coins to the Simple Syrup.  Stir them around occasionally so they don't stick.  Do not allow the mix to come to a full boil, you'll end up making candy and that's not the idea here...

Allow the mix to simmer for at least 30 minutes.   I went for 40 and it broke down most of the fibers in the root to give the coins a nice "jelly" consistency.   They will be amber and a little translucent when done.

Drain the Ginger Root coins using a strainer over a large mixing cup or bowl.   Reserve all the liquid for drinks like Iced Tea and Sorbet and the like.   It will have a mild flavor that can really perk up a drink - and it's great with Rum.

When drained, spread the coins out on a wire rack evenly.  Allow them to air dry for at least 5 hours.   I let mine dry overnight and they were fine.   They will be a little sticky or tacky when they're ready but do be patient.  They need the time to dry.

Put the coins in a mixing bowl and dust with granulated sugar.  The sugar will stick to the coins and allow you to pick one up as a snack. 

The recipe made 8 ounces of Crystalline Ginger out of 12 ounces of root.
It also made 2 1/2 cups of Ginger Simple Syrup.

You will like both. 

It also made my house smell like a bottle of ginger ale.  Trust me, if you have a lingering smell in the house before you start on this, it will give you an air freshener unlike any other.   The house smelled like ginger.  I smelled like ginger.  The dog smelled like ginger. 

It all faded the next morning.  After all, I had to roast coffee.  Now everything smells like coffee.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

That Is Not Your Present, Now Go Home

I knew when I put the little tree next to the Bird Cage, I'd have to watch him. 

Oscar took an immediate interest in the tree when I set it next to him and gave it a solid inspection.  In fact he went over to it in the cage and tried to get a better view.

It stayed there overnight and into the next day.

This morning when I settled in to do my own thing, I was relocated over into the big chair where I can watch over Oscar and decided that I'd let him have a bit of outside time. 

The first thing he does is climb out onto the door of the cage and eat his breakfast.  That's why the door of the cage opens onto the room divider, so I don't feed the dog with parrot food. 

Then instead of going back for more, it's time to explore.

He's done it many times before so I've expected it.  In fact it's a good way to get some face time with the old reprobate.   I just have to watch because if it is wood, a parrot will consider it his.  It's a great use for old barbecue skewers, wooden spoons, clothes pins and furniture.  He'll shred them all.

Even if you don't want him to.

"Noooo, Oscar, Don't!" is a common thing in this house.

He'll come out, get onto the room divider and as soon as you're not watching, try to test how firm that wood is.  Yes, small beak marks can be found on the molding on the room divider.  Next time I get some bougainvillea cuttings, it's his but until then, there's always my favorite chair, table or other piece of furniture.

"I told you I'm watching you ..."

Stalking, stealthily, quietly, Oscar the Grouchy Parrot begins to explore.  Veering away from the molding on the edge of the room divider, the prey has been spotted.

"Don't make me come over there..."

The prey is now just within reach and a small black tongue goes over to taste the forbidden fruit of Chinese Pine.  The base of the little tree has been felt and...

"Oscar!  Go Home!"

Turning around quickly and then slowing down when he realizes I'm not closely watching, he goes as far as the door to the cage and stretches up but doesn't quite climb into the cage.

"I mean it Oscar, I'm watching you!"

Rumbling sounds...
He climbs to the door but leans over trying to see himself in the red bauble hanging closely.

The lights glowing in primary colors are too enticing.   He waits.

I go back to My Own Thing and Oscar climbs down.   Watching with my left eye I wait for him to decide it is time.

"OSCAR! I said go home!"

The little blue blanket was grabbed, and tugged but no damage.  Oscar the errant parrot darts back to the cage and climbs to the top.

I go back to looking at the morning routine.  He's good for a little time now on top of the cage where he's usually safe and sound.


While my attentions are elsewhere, someone is sneaking off of the top of the cage and down to his prey.  There's a low hanging red light bulb that is just out of grasp and it has to taste ever so good since it's his favorite color on the tree and RED! and GLOWING!

LEDs will do that.

One last time, I give up.  I do what I should have all of 10 minutes ago.  Walking over to the divider, I concede defeat.  The little Holiday Tree has been relocated out of Parrot's Way onto the little table across the room by the door.  

Quiet returns.  The little green reprobate parrot climbs to the top of the cage for a good solid preen and then finally a nap.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hotmail's Memory Lapse Led to My Confusion

My personal email is on Hotmail. 

Sure, it's not the sexiest around but I can get it to be as "Old School" as possible.  I have an old enough account that I can use some external software that they turned off because of spammers and scammers.

When it comes to software, I would much rather have something bland in looks that works absolutely fast as possible than something with blinky bits and eye candy.  It doesn't get the work done, and usually just makes Firefox get fat.  After a week of use, Firefox will bloat up to over 2GB of memory and runs like a slug.  At that point it will simply quit.  Oops Debug Reporter!  Do you want to send us info?

No thanks.

Gmail, being the current darling simply annoys me.  I can't shake the feeling like I'm being watched, and the software is constantly doing things in "background" when I'm trying to do things in "foreground".

Today after answering an email from Kevin I found myself with a message from my sister.   It pointed to a link on a website with a long list of holiday recipes for cakes, cookies and the like.  Great!  A challenge in the Kitchen!  Gives me an excuse to bake for a change and a new recipe is usually fun for a meal or two. 

Clicking on a recipe, then a second I hit a dead link.  Odd.  Ok, lets try another.  That worked but the fourth failed.  One thing I know about getting spam is that those sorts of links tend to be fairly accurate.  This wasn't your typical Russian site trying to entice you to look at all the pretty bodies and infect you with a virus - sometimes that can be preferrable to the real thing.  This was a holiday list of recipes!

So I sent Pat back a "thanks for the challenge and I'll be trying some of these" quickie email.  When I got the original message back, I had a chuckle.

It was from October 2009.

Hotmail seems to have a bug that when you read and respond to a message, after you delete the original, it will select a message at random from way back when and put it up there.   I usually "catch" them but this time, the worst thing happened... I wrote an email to my sister!


Well, Pat, Yes, I did in fact lose my mind.

So if you are curious, you can find the page with all the recipes on it here.  I'll be visiting that later to see what looks good.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Reality of Telecommuting from the Porch


Oooh!  It's a beautiful day outside!  I think I'll take the laptop outside and do some graphics work!

The Reality:

Make coffee.
Take it outside.
Look at the chair and realize it has to be cleaned.
Go back inside, get the cleaning supplies and clean the chair.
Take the cleaning supplies back inside.
Get the laptop and the headphones and put them on the table next to the chair.
Realize that the chair is still wet from the cleaning and go back in for a towel to sit on.
Walk back out and finally sit down. 
Put the feet up on the railing of the porch and get comfortable.
Hmm the glare is annoying, reposition, ahh that's better.
"SLAP!"  Feeding the pet Mosquitoes again.
Wave hi to the bike rider who exercises in the neighborhood each morning at this time.
Start up the graphics program.
Say hi to the neighbor.
Sip coffee that is getting cold.
Notice that the breezes haven't started up yet this morning.
Scratch that mosquito bite.
Load the picture in to the graphics program.
Check Facebook to get rid of that (8) in the title bar of the browser.
Play a round of solitaire.
Change the channel on the music.
Hear something in the house and realize you're being watched by the dog.
WHAT IS THAT GOING UP MY PANT LEG!  OH, it's just a gecko!
Have a sip of cold coffee.
Tell the neighbor you don't know where their cat is.
Work on the graphic.
Wave hi to the truck from The City.
Wave hi to the Police Cruiser.
Sip on the ice cold coffee.
Spill some of the coffee on your lap.

Forget this all, close up the laptop and walk back inside and sit down in the chair under the ceiling fan after doing a minute of work in 30 minutes of trying to settle down.

That is why you have an In Home Office.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Easy Pizza Sauce Recipe

You guessed it, I made another pizza this weekend.  Sure, I could walk to the shops and get a good pizza from the local place, but I've been told mine are better. 

Much lower salt, and fat, and the ingredients are absolutely fresh.  In fact, the only thing I don't know how to make from scratch at this point is the cheese. 

No, I'm not that "hard core", I'll buy my own Mozzarella, Feta, and Asiago and call it done.  I do know how to make my own yogurt and can make cheese from that but really that's over the top.

Anyway, I went looking for a recipe for Pizza Sauce.  I wanted the simplest sauce I could find.  This one was billed as "No Bake" but really you want to show it some heat.   Simmer over a low heat for an hour and it will be much better! 

Here's how I did it.  If you follow these instructions, even someone who is terrified of cooking can make a proper pizza sauce that will turn out "shockingly good".   About 5 minutes prep.  I took about an hour total to cook it.

Recipe is at the end of the post.

I first combined all ingredients in a bowl and realized that it was way too wet to make a proper pizza.  The recipe called for too much water.  A pizza like in the picture is on a large cookie sheet and uses one can of commercially prepared sauce.  Those cans are 12 or 16 ounces.  I've seen both sizes.  The recipe gives about twice that in liquid.  My recommendation is to mix all the ingredients in a large measuring cup and add the water to bring the contents to no more than 16 ounces.   The texture of a pizza sauce should be thicker than any spaghetti sauce that you have ever used or made.

Pour all the ingredients into a blender and let it run for a while.  The garlic should be chopped or crushed. You want the spices to be broken up, and the Dried Rosemary should have been pulverized into as small a powder as you can get it before you blend.  Probably need a Mortar and Pestle for that one but since I don't have one here, I chopped it by hand which was entertaining as they shot onto the floor.   Luckily the dog doesn't like Rosemary.

I let the blender run for more than two minutes.  Remember, the ingredients should be smooth and the spices should be evenly distributed.

Pour the ingredients into a sauce pan and heat.  You will want to keep this on low simmer.  It should slowly send a bubble here and there to the surface but must not go past a simmer.   Tomatoes will burn if heated and this goes for tomato paste as well.

I watched over the sauce, checking it every five or so minutes.  It simmered for an hour and reduced enough for me to call it done.  I put plastic over it and placed it into the refrigerator to allow the spices to meld with the sauce.

This literally was the best pizza sauce I have ever had. 

Bar None. 

The. Best. Pizza. Sauce.  EVER.

That night I wasn't craving water because there wasn't a lot of sauce in the recipe since it was not a commercial sauce.  You won't miss it.  I didn't realize just how much salt is in those sauces until I was told by Kevin that he wasn't thirsty either afterwords. 

The crust recipe is also on the blog as well as some of my other forays into building the perfect pizza.  It isn't perfect, I still have to figure out time and temp to get that properly crispy bottom to my thick crust but this is as close to perfect as I have ever had.  

Oddly enough, it's also heart healthy if you watch that sort of thing. 

Ok, enough of that blather... the recipe is as follows:

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
    - Remember, you will want MUCH LESS but this is what the recipe calls for!  Add slowly, one ounce at a time.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

Mix together the tomato paste, water, and olive oil.
Mix well.
Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste, oregano, basil, and rosemary.
Mix well and let stand several hours to let flavors blend.
No cooking necessary, just spread on dough.

I still say you want to simmer it down to make sure you get the right consistency!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dear God: It's me, the Dog

I was going through the jokes that people have sent me over the last few months and spotted this one right after I got the Sad Brown Eyes Look from Mrs Dog.   Awww Cuuute!

Thanks to Diane, I have a response.

Dear God: It's me, the Dog

Dear God: Is it on purpose that our
names are spelled the same, only in reverse?

Dear God: Why do humans smell the flowers,
but seldom, if ever, smell one another?

Dear God: When we get to Heaven, can we sit
on your couch? Or will it be the same old story?

Dear God: Why are there cars named after
the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang,
the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE
named for a Dog? How often do you
see a cougar riding around? We love a nice car
ride! Would it be so hard to rename
the 'Chrysler Eagle' the 'Chrysler Beagle'?

Dear God: If a Dog barks his head off
in the forest and no human hears him,
is he still a bad Dog?

Dear God: We dogs can understand human
verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles,
horns, clickers, beepers, scent IDs,
electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee
flight paths. What do humans understand?

Dear God: More meatballs,
less spaghetti, please.

Dear God: Are there mailmen in Heaven?
If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God: Here is a list of just some of the things I must remember
to be a good Dog:

1. I will not eat the cat's food before he eats
it or after he throws it up.

2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish,
crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.

3. The Litter Box is not a cookie jar.

4. The sofa is not a 'face towel'.

5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.

6. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's
underwear when he's on the toilet.

7. Sticking my nose into someone's
crotch is an unacceptable way of saying 'hello'.

8. I don't need to suddenly stand
straight up when I'm under the coffee table.

9. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before
entering the house - not after.

10. I will not come in from outside,
and immediately drag my butt across the carpet.

11. I will not sit in the middle of the living
room, and lick my crotch.

12. The cat is not a 'squeaky toy',
so when I play with him and he makes that noise,
it's usually not a good thing.

P.S. Dear God: When I get to Heaven,
may I have my testicles back?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How's Your Day Going?

Have you ever had "One Of Those Days" where everything goes wrong?   In this case, maybe it's everything going right.   Strangers can make your day! 

Thanks Velma!

How's Your Day Going?

There I was sitting at the bar staring at my drink when a large, trouble-making biker steps up next to me, grabs my drink and gulps it down in one swig.

"Well, whatcha' gonna do about it?", he says, menacingly, as I burst into tears.

"Come on, man," the biker says, "I didn't think you'd CRY. I can`t stand to see a man crying."

"This is the worst day of my life," I say. "I'm a complete failure. I was late to a meeting and my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car had been stolen and I don't have any insurance. I left my wallet in the cab I took home. I found my wife with another man and then my dog bit me."

"So I came to this bar to work up the courage to put an end to it all, I buy a drink, I drop a capsule in and sit here watching the poison dissolve; then you show up and drink the whole thing! But enough about me, how's your day going?"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Music Made Me Load Up The iPod

Yes, call me contrary but I hate holiday music.

It started in OCTOBER for crying out loud.  Hearing about Sleigh Bells in South Florida in October when it is 85 is just stupid.

Oh and before the right wing nuts and their foolish brethren get all bent out of shape, it is HOLIDAY music.  The radio station I turned on when my MP3 player ran out of music on the dog walk this morning was playing a Hanukkah song so stuff your self-righteous criticism of my use of the English Language.

"Holiday Music" is
  1. More Inclusive
  2. More Correct
  3. and More Politically Correct.
That unpleasantness aside, I had been listening to the Pops channel on Sirius XM as well as their Classical channel since October as a "change of pace".  It stuck all November.

All the while I was listening to Mendelssohn and Beethoven and Vivaldi I heard the rumbling of the hooves of eight tiny reindeer and a big fat guy who supposedly slips into your house, eats your cookies, drinks your milk, and does god knows what with the dying Douglas Fir that you had killed for the Baby Jesus in the corner of your 2/1 home in the suburbs.

In short, Sirius XM went Holiday Music on their Pops Channel.  Thanks folks, I love paying for something I don't need when you have plenty of empty channels on your service to run something "new and different for the holidays". 

I should never have gotten Sirius about Satellite Radio.  Sheesh!

So in anticipation of having to listen to warmed over "favorites" from the 60s, the 1860s, the 1760s, the 1660s, as well as from the Latin World, the Jewish World, and the Country World, I took the high road.  I turned off Sirius today.  After a month of Classical and Baroque, swapping over to current hits just didn't feel right.

I had spent some Sirius time loading up the iPod with a broad variety of music that I had on CD here and haven't listened to in quite a while.  That collection of Beethoven's 9 symphonies joined some trance music I hadn't listened to in a while as well as a disco collection.

Funny, the iPod doesn't feel heavier carrying all those CDs does it?

You can enjoy your Holiday Music, I have the last movement of Beethoven's 9th singing in German in my ears blotting out all the outside din.  Later, I'll slide into some Armin van Buuren I'm sure.

That's the nice thing about technology.  Properly harnessed it can isolate you from some rather annoying things that are in society and create a bubble of calm in a sea of strife.

Why I got into it today was the local NPR station finally tipped the scale and broke that camel's back.  They're in a pledge break.  I can remember before they had commercials on there for "Listeners like you and the Koch Foundation" and it was just "Listeners Like You".  They weren't shilling for every mom and pop business who could ante up and buy commercial time.  Now, they're down to the level of every other commercial radio station, plus pledge breaks.

I changed the channel fast.

The Classical station here was playing something unintelligeable through the static.

The local dance station was doing some holiday music about Eight Crazy Nights around the Hanukkah celebration.

The Spanish Station played an English song that went into something holiday. I can't be sure, I don't speak Spanish but would love to learn.  Too bad, that's a great alternative station and I actually do enjoy Salsa and Merengue music.


Got home, put on the iPod and isolated myself.

Since Beethoven's 9th is over it's time to change tracks... Lets see what's next.

No Jingle Bells required.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reset Microsoft Word Page Layout Paragraph Spacing to No Added Space

This has annoyed me for quite a while and I finally got ticked off enough to track down the solution.

Dear Microsoft.

Please Stop Helping.  Word is a very strong program.  I have used it for years but being a touch typist, I don't need your help with adding an extra space between paragraphs.   If I want one there, I will put it there.  I like the little squiggles, red for when I misspell, green for questionable grammar, but this "Feature" just irked me.

Thank you very much.


You see they thought they'd help you type away with saving one key stroke each time you put in a paragraph.  When I was taught by "Miss Mommy" back in High School (Yes, they really called her Miss Mommy), she had some rules to remember as we all struggled to learn how to type.   Two spaces after a period.  Two Lines after a paragraph.

See, real simple.   Business Writing 101.

Microsoft in their wisdom thought they'd automate that two lines.  It irks me.  I know what I'm doing, Microsoft, Let Go Of My... Hands.

Ok the link to their instructions are at this link, if you can't follow mine, maybe having the pictures will help.  I did it and now I'm back to typing my documents the way they should be.   Why is it a problem?  Well because if you edit in Word, the paste it into a web form you get extra spacing.  Some web pages really have a hard time with it and it messes up the formatting.

Hey if you loved this "feature" you wouldn't have searched for this blog posting would you?

  1. Open Word 2007.
  2. Click the Home tab if you aren't already there, it is where you go by default.
  3. Toward the right of the control ribbon you will see "Change Styles".
  4. Click "Change Styles".
  5. Select "Style Set"
  6. In the pop-up, select "Word 2003".
  7. To save, click "Change Styles".
  8. Select "Set as Default".
Remember that you have to save, Step 7 and 8 will make this permanent, Steps 1-6 will only set it for this document.

Done.  Now you won't have that pesky "extra line feed".  Can you tell I think "Focus Groups" should die a painful death in modern Western Business?

WHEW!  Thanks Microsoft but you're trying TOO hard on this one.  There will be many folks out there that want to do this on their own or are trained to do it on their own.

Plus there's always Libre Office for the rest of the world which I use on the other laptops and it doesn't have this annoying "Feature".  Oh and it's free and you can get it Here!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not Working Outside Today

It's a cool day here.  The sun is brilliant, not a cloud in the sky.  I thought that since it wasn't windy, why not take the laptop out by the pool.  The dog won't mind, she'll love being out there soaking up some sunshine.

So walking the mug of coffee outside, I'm followed by the faithful sidekick around the yard. 

Never walk outside without intending to pull weeds.  That's a truth pretty much wherever you live.  Here, you drop a seed on the ground, it will grow next time it rains.  As I wander out to inspect the orchids hanging from the shed, I notice some Virginia Creeper.  So lets pull it and see where it goes!    40 feet later, that monster had run down the tree from behind the Staghorn Fern that is trying to get established but failing, to the grass.  In the grass it was well established and pulling it left a stripe of sod pulled up.  Working with the root it hit the hedges near the garden.  From that point it branched into a net of roots running along the garden that eventually consolidated into one runner.

Great!  I can pull that one and get rid of the plant!

Not so fast.  That root ran South for another 10 feet and disappeared under the Hibiscus.  Oh well, at least it will take time to reestablish.

While I was tearing up one side of the yard, my dog was dining on the yard.   We both created our own little mess.  Since my dog has a "Soft Personality", calling out to her to get her to stop would work but give her an unwanted attitude adjustment.  I took the high road.  Gathering up 40 feet of vines, I walked to the trash can and told her "Good bye!" as I walked toward the back door. 

The intention was to leave her out there so I could be out for a while without having a nose pressed against the glass.  After all, I'd have to clean the blasted thing. 

She made it into the house before I could and went into the next room.  Well out of sight, she's lounging in the living room on her mat.

Me?  Well I never made it outside.  The coffee came in with me and I settled down in the regular chair at the regular spot looking longingly outside.

She must have know I really didn't want to go outside and feed the pet mosquitos. Sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself.  I'll try to sneak out later.  There are plenty of nose prints on the back door already, most about six feet off the ground as it is.