Sunday, July 31, 2011

Zip Lock Bag Trick

This one has been making the rounds.  It's a pesticide free way to keep the flies away at a picnic. In theory it should work with anything with "Compound Eyes" but I've only heard it brought up with flies.   Worse comes to worse, it's a cheap and easy trick and may give you something to say when the conversation flags!  Of course you could also hang a disco ball outside but they're a little more expensive. 

ZIP LOCK BAG - Good tip!

We went with friends to Sweety Pies on Sunday for breakfast and sat in the patio section beside the house.   We happened to notice zip lock baggies pinned to a post and a wall.  The bags were half filled with water, each contained 4 pennies, and they were zipped shut.  Naturally we were curious!  Ms. Sweety told us that these baggies kept the flies away!  So naturally we were even more curious!  We actually watched some flies come in the open window, stand around on the window sill, and then fly out again.  And there were no flies in the eating area!  This morning I checked this out on Google.  Below are comments on this fly control idea.  I'm now a believer!
  Zip-lock water bags

Ann Says:
I tried the ziplock bag and pennies this weekend.. I have a horse trailer.  The flies were bad while I was camping. I put the baggie with pennies above the door of the LQ. NOT ONE FLY came in the trailer. The horse trailer part had many. Not sure why it works but it does!

Danielle Martin Says:

Fill a ziplock bag with water and 5 or 6 pennies and hang it in the problem area. In my case it was a particular window in my home. It had a slight passage way for insects. Every since I have done that, it has kept flies and wasps away. Some say that wasps and flies mistake the bag for some other insect nest and are threatened.

Maggie Says:

I swear by the plastic bag of water trick. I have them on porch and basement.  We saw these in  Northeast Mo.  at an Amish grocery store & have used them since. They say it works because a fly sees a reflection & won't come around.

 DJ Says:

Regarding the science behind zip log bags of water? My research found that the millions of molecules of water presents its own prism effect and given that flies have a lot of eyes, to them it's like a zillion disco balls reflecting light, colors and movement in a dizzying manner. When you figure that flies are prey for many other bugs, animals, birds, etc., they simply won't take the risk of being around that much perceived action. I moved to a rural area and thought these "hillbillies" were just yanking my city boy chain but I tried it and it worked immediately! We went from hundreds of flies to seeing the occasional one, but he didn't hang around long.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Irish Prostitute - Humor

Ok, it's a bit edgy of a subject for me to post, but since there are no "Bad Words" why not?

The Irish Prostitute 

The Irish daughter had not been home for over five years. Upon her return, her father cursed her heavily saying, "Where have ye been all this time, child?  Why did ye not write to us, not even a line? Why didn't ye call? Can ye not understand what ye put yer old Mother through?"

The girl, crying, replied, "Sniff,....Dad....I became a prostitute..."

"Ye what? Out of here ye shameless harlot! Sinner! You're a disgrace to this Catholic family!"

"OK, Dad-- As ye wish, but I just came back to give Mum this luxurious fur coat, title deed to a ten bedroom mansion plus a £1million bank account. For me little brother, this gold Rolex. And for ye, Daddy, the sparkling new Mercedes Limited Edition convertible parked outside plus a membership to the golf & country club...(takes a breath)... And an invitation for ye all to spend New Year's Eve on board my new yacht in the Riviera ."

"Now what was it ye said ye had become?"
Asks Dad.

Girl, crying again, "Sniff sniff... A prostitute, Daddy! Sniff, sniff."

"Oh! Be Jesus! Ye scared me half to death, Girl!
I thought ye said a Protestant.
Come here and give yer old Dad a hug!.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Random Yellow Flower Background Picture

The other day Father John needed a camera to take some video for his church.   We went out and bought a camera, not really all that high end, but suited to the task.  Along with it was bought a 16GB memory chip that it turned out that the camera truly hated. 

I put it in the camera and pressed record and between 22 and 33 seconds later it would simply lock up with a message that the chip was too slow.  Strange. 

My own chip worked. So we realized camera good, chip bad, and returned it.

Before it went back I took the memory chip with me for a walk around town and took random pictures.  Anyone with any experience taking pictures will come up with a good one from time to time.  In this case, the picture was nothing more than some small, low growing, native plants in the local M.E. De Palma Park near the house.  I was pretending to be Mr Tourist and taking pictures of all sorts of pictures with no real rhyme or reason so I could "exercise" the chip. 

It went back, Father John has a new chip that the camera likes, and we will be taking some movies for the web site. 

I still have the test shots, and this is one of them.  After cropping out weeds, it's remarkably even in its randomness.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chaos the Hearing Protecting Parrot and Glenn Miller

26 years of sharing a house with this Parrot and I should know better.

Starting off the day with my Glenn Miller addiction reawakened by a friend online, I turned on the internet radio and selected a Swing music station on Sirius XM.  It's about the only reason why I bother with Sirius because their modern dance format stations are way too tightly programmed with small variety. 

I made sure the volume on the radio was low enough to keep my old feathered friend quiet.   Oscar will get loud and "sing" along with what ever was in the house at the moment so he's my hearing protector.  It is a challenge to balance listening volume with the noises of the room at a level that won't trip the Parrot Alarm.

Heading into the Kitchen I knew I was done for.

There was not enough coffee for the day.  Sure, there were enough Grounds roasted the day before to make one mug, but not enough for the second.  Putting 1/2 cup of green beans into the popcorn popper, the lid was replaced and a deep breath was drawn.

It was going to get loud.

Just after the 7AM noise limits it was safe to turn everything on.  The kettle warmed to boil water for Mug One as the beans were beginning to roast in the Popper.  Glenn Miller was now drowned out. 

Hello!  Hello!  BreakerBreakerBreakerBREAKER!  (jungle noices) (unintelligeable grumbles) BahBahBahBahWOOWOO!

In for a penny, in for a pound!

May as well entertain the dog, the parrot is now at full volume.

Grabbing the almost empty peanut butter jar sets Lettie off barking.  It's a large plastic jar that I have scraped almost all of the peanut butter out of.  The top is screwed down way too tightly for her to easily get off.  It also is way too large for her to grab comfortably.

Place the jar on the floor among the symphony of the growing popper, the jungle noises, and the Glenn Miller winding down in the next room, I am treated to my beautiful "Non Barky" dog begging for her "toy".

My foot goes down toward the jar (BARK!) and with toe of the sneaker, I tread downward on the plastic.   It spins madly and careens off of the wall and under the now totally excited dog who is trying hard to keep up with the random motion.  Parrot is now loudly chattering "here we go! here we go!" and the water on the kettle now is at a full boil screaming into the morning.

Pour out two cups boiling water exactly into the waiting coffee grounds, stir quickly to break the surface tension and reach over to replace the kettle on the stove to cool.

Looking over at Mrs Dog, it is time to take one then another step toward the peanut butter jar.  Sensing that, Lettie barks off 3 loud MWOOFS! and the jar is set into another drunken drive around the floor tiles.   Oscar is loving it and laughs a loud cartoonish laugh. 

At this point the noise level hits its final crescendo as the timer goes off and the popcorn popper is unplugged.  Beans are poured onto a plate to cool, Oscar goes silent in a sudden stop, and I can actually hear Ella Mae Morse singing sweetly to me from over top of the stove.

Giving the coffee one last stir, Lettie's peanut butter jar is now spun one last time giving her one last reason to bark at it rolling around on the floor. 

The house goes quiet.  It is time to have the morning coffee.  After all, 10 minutes have gone by.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Hate Baths

This is one of the many things that turns my beloved McNab Dog into Cujo the Evil Dog From Hell.

This weekend was Bath Weekend.  In fact it was about 2 weeks late.  Life got in the way, there was a lot going on especially on the weekends and it slipped.

Kevin got back from vacation up North and was volunteered to do the task.  You see, I've had this same view before.  Get Lettie's head wet and she gets angry fast.   Not necessarily Angry, but Fearful.  A fearful intelligent dog is a challenge.  A McNab Dog being a breed derived from the Border Collies specifically for Intelligence makes for an interesting life.

Living with anyone requires your learning their rhythms and working through their strengths and weaknesses.  I don't know where she got this utter disdain for bath time but I'm very happy to pass that one chore on to someone who is willing and brave enough to complete the task.   Were it me, she's got a "party hat" for just such occasions.

We survived yet another weekend of teeth and terror, and the next one will be only 3 weeks away. 

Can't Wait.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - Another Successful Web Implementation Project Complete

Between doing Video Shoots and Website Upgrades for New Divine Mercy Church as well as functioning as their Webmaster and Project Manager, I was busy working on a new website for the Central Area Neighborhood Association for Wilton Manors.

Today, all the technical details were completed and the website for CANA went live.

This is the fifth website that I have created for organizations using the Google Sites technology.  Google Sites is a great way to get a basic website up and running, especially for Not For Profits as those organizations have been granted free space on Google's Servers.  I have heard that they may or may not begin charging for that service in the future, and I have heard that it may or may not go Fee Based. 

The benefit of using the technology is that it is completely "Cloud Based".   Got a small organization and you don't want to have to worry about whether you have a dedicated server architecture built in an office server closet?  This works for you since Sites is hosted by Google.  You get access to a limited number of free services such as Google Docs, Gmail accounts, and other things so in theory you can completely run an organization virtually without ever buying a corporate computer.  Feel like making a change on a website from your laptop on vacation in a far flung corner of the world - you can do it if you have internet.

I wouldn't personally put any financial information on a "web app" but that's my security preference, you may not agree.

At any rate, CANA has their web site, it's up and running.

The other sites I have created were for the Joe Angelo for Mayor Campaign, the Celeste Ellich for Commissioner Campaign, New Divine Mercy Church, as well as working on my blog

I am also the Social Media Director for Wilton Manors Main Street helping to voice their public presence on Facebook and on their blog.  I also have worked on their current webpage that is expected to go through some changes and a refresh soon.

Having done web development as a Programmer and as a Project Manager as well as doing Implementation of Websites, Large Scale implementation of Legacy systems, and Accounting Systems help in rounding out that list. 

I'm also That Guy that people call up for help with their PCs since I've implemented more desktop systems than I would care to count.  I've also implemented Servers running Windows Server 2003 and 2007,  implemented SQL Server (various versions) as well as created servers running Linux and the LAMP Stack.

The Lamp Stack is a set of technologies that will allow you to serve out web pages to the world as well as function as a regular file server as needed and it's all free.

Most of that stuff can run "virtually" and on a computer using VMWare or Microsoft Virtual PC.

Not a bad cover letter, I may have to use this since I've done this and more.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Weekend of Cooking

This weekend was all about the kitchen.

I enjoy cooking, I enjoy baking.   That's obvious from the blog and if you have ever spoken to me.  I didn't realize just how much time I spent in the preparation of food this weekend.

Saturday I wanted a burger.  But to have a burger, I had to have something to go with it.  That meant a trip to the Green Market and Whole Foods.  We were going to make a Beef and Vegetable soup on Sunday so that meant while there, Kevin picked up some ground beef.   While he was gone, I cleaned the grill, got the rolls set aside, and found my way into the kitchen.  As he rolled into the front door, there were more fresh rolls to go into the freezer.  Ok, so take the pound of ground beef and make four measured 1/4 pound burgers out of the 90% beef.  Warm the grill up to make sure all the grease was burned off, toss the burgers on the grill and babysit the thing.  The burgers we made were well done by the book at 160F while the beans finished in the oven.

Sunday morning early, the base for the beef and vegetable soup was being made.  I started to panic as the refrigerator was crammed solid with food and the freezer now had the leftover burgers that were cooked for later meals.  Luckily the burgers froze well and stack like cordwood inside little nooks and crannies because we will need the space.

While the base was being cooked, it allowed Mrs Dog to be bathed whether she wanted to or not.  Cantankerous old dog fearfully snapped and drew blood on Kevin's hand, while I was out back taking pictures. 

No, I really don't like to give her a bath.  Those teeth are still sharp.

More burgers got onto the grill for lunch, and a side dish of Baked Beans Which Are Really Better On The Second Day ended up in the microwave... pulling six perfect Medium pink burgers off the grill, there's five more discs of Cow in the freezer.

Oh Steer you did not die in vain!

Now my kitchen exploded. 

After lunch back into the kitchen first slicing down a potato into chunks, then an onion, then half a bag of carrots and a couple celery stalks.  All of that got staged to go into the pot with the beef stock when the bone came out.

Soup bones?  Yes they do sell them still, you have to ask.  The meat tastes amazing when it is cooked with all that stuff, add some thyme and other spices and boil it to the right consistency.

The result was a giant stock pot of five and a half quarts worth of amazing beef vegetable soup that fed Kevin, Me, the family across the street both Sunday and Today.

So how did that fall into Monday?

You always overbuy.


In his rush we ended up with a basketball in the refrigerator that only got half used.


What do you do with the stuff?

No, I won't eat that much Cole Slaw, I don't like the stuff THAT much.  There's a reason why they serve it in little sample cups!

We had the presence of mind to slice that whole head of cabbage down into shreds.  The result was a giant mound of pale green stuff with only a little taste.  It went into the crock pot to cover a ham bone that had been in the freezer since the last time I bought a ham on special, bone in.  Honey cured ham.  Yum.  Makes great sandwiches and it's cheap.

So sitting in the crock pot is a ham bone, giant mountain of cabbage, a bag of green beans, a bag of carrots, and about a quart of water.   All of this was sliced and assembled in 15 minutes while making breakfast on Monday morning.

Press go.

Three hours later it has just begun to relax, the lid of the crock pot had settled down onto the mass of green and finally closed.

I added a can of Pineapple chunks and the juice to the mess to help break it all down...

There's still an onion and a potato that should go in there but it may not make it.  The pot's overflowing. 

The bounty of vegetables is all over the place, on the microwave, in the freezer and refrigerator, two giant tan tubers of potato blocking the microwave, two flat Vidalia Onions leaning against the coffee pot.

If this mess turns out, it's going to be interesting.   After all, it was nothing more than vegetables that were going to go to waste due to overbuying and a leftover ham bone that I couldn't bear to toss out.

The best recipes sometimes are nothing more than a happy accident.  Random amounts of food that were cooked together with crossed fingers.  It's either that or they end up in the trash bin and that would be a shame.

Hopefully this giant mess of food, around 10 quarts of soup, will get into the freezer.  If it gets there, hope for gentle weather.  It would be a shame if a power cut hit due to a tropical storm.

At least frozen bricks of soup help to keep the freezer cold.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Favourite Animal - Humor

This joke made me hungry.  Then again life makes me hungry.   So enjoy this tasty bit of humor!
My Favourite Animal

I remember back in grade 2 when our teacher asked us what our favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken."

She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else in the class laughed.

My parents told me to always be truthful and honest, and I am. Fried chicken is my favorite animal. I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much.  I do, too. Especially, chicken, pork and beef. Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office. I told him what happened, and he laughed, too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was.  I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, just like she'd asked the other children.  So I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.  She sent me back to the principal's office again. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.

Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most.  I told her, "Colonel Sanders."

Guess where I am...???

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Italian Wedding Test - Humor

The key is that if I'm sent a joke and laugh at it the second time I read it, It's going up here!  This one was sent to me by our own Diane Cline here in Wilton Manors and it is exactly the kind of joke she tells when you see her in an event.  No wonder why I enjoy her company whenever I get the pleasure.

Besides... having Italians in my family, I can post this!  :)


I was a very happy man. My wonderful girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year, and so we  decided to get married. There was only one little thing bothering me...It was her beautiful younger sister.

My prospective sister-in-law was twenty-two, wore very tight miniskirts, and generally was bra-less. She would regularly bend down when she was near me, and I always got more than a nice view. It had to be deliberate. Because she never did it when she was near anyone else.

One day her 'little' sister called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived, and she whispered to me that she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome.

She told me that she wanted me just once before I got married and committed my life to her sister.

Well, I was in total shock, and couldn't say a word.

She said, 'I'm going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want one last wild fling, just come up and get me.'

I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs. I stood there for a moment, then turned and made a beeline straight to the front door. I opened the door, and headed straight towards my car.

Lord... And behold, my entire future family was standing outside, all clapping!

With tears in his eyes, my father-in-law hugged me and said, 'We are very happy that you have passed our little test. We couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family.'

 And the moral of this story is:

Always keep your condoms in your car.

Friday, July 22, 2011

DailySteals and Customer Service

They did me right.

I'm that guy who looks for the "buys" online.  I have to make the Eagle scream on the back of the quarter.   If I'm making a recommendation about price on some item, I've looked for it elsewhere for a better price.  I usually don't suffer buyer's remorse since I simply don't have a lot of money to throw around on luxury items and trinkets.

Recently I hit a close out site, and bought a Garmin RoadTrip 4030.  The item takes your iPod or other iThing and allows you to broadcast the sound through an FM Radio.  I use those things in a lot of different ways, and they're very flexible.  This way, I'm able to broadcast what I'm listening on the internet or on my iPod through the house and out into the back yard.  These "FM Modulators" typically have a range of 10 to 30 feet and it's just enough to get the signal out to the pool.

I'd hate to soak my iPod.

Assuming you get the item, it's one of those things you plug into the cigarette lighter, slap your iPod or iPhone into it and you rebroadcast into your car radio.  That would be the intended purpose.

I got the unit and I had a few surprises.

First, it was missing a piece that meant it couldn't be used in the car.  The kit should have come with two shafts that would be screwed together and form a rigid mount.  I was missing one of the shafts.  I guess I didn't get shafted.

Ok, bad pun but you know you all were thinking the same thing!

The other was that the electronics would unsnap from the mount and you now have a little modulator in its own box.  Along with the cables that I did not expect, this whole thing becomes very flexible since I can plug it into any USB power source.  I have an adapter for the wall or the car, so now I have my very own FM radio station.  Covers my house and an itty bitty piece of the front yard.

It turns out that it's just powerful enough to be clear in the bathroom too so the electronics are great.  Because of the way it's all hooked together, I can also use it as a microphone input for a PA System.  I May Need That Sunday.

After seeing that I was missing the piece I debated whether contacting the company for a replacement part, after all It Was Only Five Bucks.

I decided to log into the web page and comment.  They emailed me back in a couple hours and asked for a picture showing what I needed.  You see here, it's that yellow circled piece.

When they saw that picture, they almost immediately emailed back and credited my account for the Five Bucks.

I can't ask for a better outcome.  It probably cost them that much to ship the item in the first case.   The electronics will be put to use both in the house broadcasting music (my intent) and perhaps as a PA system if I need it.

After all, Mr Microphone may be a toy, this thing could do the job clearly.

So if you're looking for a closeout, I suggest surfing and checking it out once a day.  You may find something you need, and if you need help, Nicolette will be there to help you out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Computer Procurement and One Single White Flower

Ok so say you listened.

You decided that you wanted to get a piece of hardware and make sure everything will work well together.  You put it all together and what if it actually does not work?

That's the problem when "Standards" aren't Standard.

You see, I ran into that problem yesterday.

Father John here in Wilton Manors and his partner Father Larry run a church, New Divine Mercy.  I help them out with their technology needs, and we have decided that they need a proper video camera and tripod to do some enhancements to their web page.  I put that page together, and there are videos on it, and we would like to add some more for a more personal touch.  

Yesterday we went shopping.  We got a great buy on a video camera, picked up an appropriate Class 10 memory chip, 16 GB of course, and a beautiful "professional grade" tripod.   I'm really quite amazed at the tripod, that thing is built like it is cut from a slab of granite.

Everything should just fall together and work, right?

It didn't turn out that way.

The Tripod is perfect, the camera is wonderful.  They work together well.  I charged the internal battery on the camera and did a test movie.  It ran for 22 seconds and ...


Scratching my head, I did it again.

The definition of insanity according to Benjamin Franklin is appropriate here:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

(I looked it up, the link is here, it isn't Einstein)

I tried the video around 10 or so times tweaking various settings and got the same results so I decided to try something different.  I placed my own 8GB chip in the camera and try it over.

Success.   I got a 10 minute video of me walking around my back yard, filming my dog pee on the grass (she does this when on camera) and looking at the pretty flowers.  Ooooh.

So thinking that it was the chip that we got for the video camera, I placed it in my own still camera and we went for the 5pm Dog Walk around Wilton Manors.   I was snapping pictures all over the place, and using the "questionable" memory chip, got the result in this post.

What is going on is that the video camera does not recognize the new 16GB memory chip.  My own still camera does recognize the chip.  Both cameras recognize my smaller 8GB chip.  For now, the video camera has my chip and I have Father John's larger chip but my intent is to pay the third visit to the computer store in two days and make a swap.

Seems that that memory chip should just be a bad memory.  As far as the video camera is concerned, it is.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Class 10 SDHC Chip to the Rescue

What's this technobabble and why the clouds?

I blew up my memory chip for the camera a while back and had to get a new one.  Had because I simply did not have one to use for the camera, the other one was in use for documents and was way too small for the task.

As in 128 MB.  I can blow through that in a good session of picture taking.

As prices are dropping, there simply is no reason to compromise on speed.   Before I have mentioned the slower memory sticks and how to tell what you need for your camera.  Class 2 should be avoided, Class 6 is good for Photos, Class 10 is the best.   When I priced it all out, I was able to get an 8GB Class 10 chip for my camera for $10. 

I could have gone larger but this is for the camera and I'd be tempted to use it as a drive in the little laptop.

Why this need for speed? 

Plug in a slow chip and take a picture.  Immediately try to take another.

Go ahead I'll wait.

And wait... and wait.

That happened at Stonewall.  I tried to take a picture of a friend on a balcony.  The first picture was fouled up, so I focused and waited.  It took a full 30 seconds for the camera to write out the picture to the slow class 2 chip. 

I ordered this Class 10 chip and waited for it to get here.  Eagerly I took the chip out and put it in my camera and went out for a dog walk.  I was taking pictures for no particular purpose, enjoying the act of trying to capture something without trying hard.  Out of those pictures, there were actually a few that are worth sharing, so I'll have them out here.   The nice thing was that my "refresh" rate - the time between pictures, is drastically better.  The time now is well less than five seconds.   Seeing that I may refocus and reposition the shot between taking pictures, that five seconds is more reasonable.

So remember, research your purchase - Speed kills in a car but:

In a Camera, Speed is your best friend!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

James Candy Barrel Bank

Oh hi, Pat!  Haven't heard from you in a while, how are you?

Yep, Kevin got back fine, no problem.  He took the Auto Train and slept in a tiny room that was 4 by 8 feet.  My closet is longer and a little bit wider in the big bedroom.

It was a lot better trip than we had when you and I were kids trying to sleep in one of those silly airplane style semi-reclining seats. 

Right, well he went up to visit his mom for her birthday and spend some time with her.  Longwood Gardens, a couple nice restaurants, and made it all the way to Cape May just like the song.

He sure did bring back that Salt Water Taffy!  In fact he brought back a barrel bank just like we had every year when Dad would take us down to Atlantic City for the day before the Casinos moved in and wrecked the boardwalk.  That's why when I went for a day trip, I'd go to Ocean City, NJ.  Yes, the Methodists have kept it fairly old school and you can still get a good funnel cake or fresh peanuts - or at least you could back in 2005 when I was there last.

That bank?   I'm going to keep mine!  It turns out that James Candy and Fralingers are the same company although I think we knew that.  They're discontinuing the banks so if you want a little piece of our childhood, you had better get Down-a-Shore and pretend to be a Shoobie for a day.  Pick one up and enjoy, they're not expensive, after all they're made out of Papier Mache

Sure, you know the salt water taffy at the Jersey Shore blows away any other kind!  The stuff just over on the other side of the Delaware River in Rehoboth or in Ocean City MD just doesn't taste right and they don't make it soft like James Candy does.  I had some in Cape Cod Mass that was just horrible, like old tub caulk!

No I'm not in the habit of chewing that stuff, silly!

But the neatest thing is that they're still making those weird old flavors like they used to!  Anise, Molasses, Teaberry... yeah!  I mean where else but the Jersey Shore!  Just like old times walking down the Boardwalk and biting into one of those wonderful Lemon Salt Water Taffys and you had to be careful because you would have sand on your fingers.

Yes, Atlantic City is the real Boardwalk, the rest are just imitations but even that has changed since they blew up all those wonderful old resort hotels.  The city itself is a bit scary but the tourist trap, er tourist areas are safe. 

Sure, I had what they call Salt Water Taffy here in Florida.  Hard as a rock and salty as a pretzel.  Scary stuff right?

At least they still make it like they used to at the Jersey Shore.  "Cut to fit the mouth" like they say!

Oh that bank?  Did I tell you some clown running an auction house wanted $50 for a barrel bank and the box with it?  Yeah isn't that a riot?  You can still get them for now for $12 so move fast.  Oh and have some vanilla custard for me while you're at it - you know, from the stand at 9th street in Ocean City!  Watch for the Sea Gulls if you're going to have fries, those birds are fierce!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Parrot Won't Let Me Watch Holmes Inspection on HGTV

I guess the title says it all. 

I've had this parrot since 1986.  25 years or so.  He's "opening" up since we moved here.  They are interesting creatures, and I don't know what kind of treatment he got when I got him way back then but he was always very standoffish.  Now he's bonding, and shows excitement when I walk into the house.  He also calls to me when he wants attention by saying hello as well as other behavioral quirks.

If you have ever had a parrot or for that matter any other bird, you know that they can be loud.  There are certain times of day when they have the "Call To Flock", within an hour either side of sun up or sun down, when they're louder than the rest of the day.  You get to understand that timing and realize that unless you want a Parrot Accompaniment with what ever you're listening to in the house, you keep the volume down.

You see, my Parrot, Oscar is a Hearing Protector.  If it's too loud he gets louder.

I learned a long time ago that if Oscar is "singing" along to the music, it's time to turn the volume down.

Having just upgraded to a new HDTV, or having someone upgrade me, I've gotten used to where I can put the volume so it does not trip the Parrot Accompanyment on.  Years of practice has made me very aware of volume in the room.  There's always something on, but if Oscar's chattering, I turn it down until Oscar shuts up.

So lately I've gotten into the Holmes shows on HGTV.  There's a lot of great information on construction on these programs, the content is excellent.  I'm a bit of a DIYer around the house, if I think I can fix something I'll attempt it.  After all if it is broken and I break it, then it had to be fixed anyway right? Well more often than not, I am successful and it is the instruction that I have gotten from programs like Holmes on Homes and others that have made be get better at that sort of craft.

My cooking and baking articles here are at a level that is a direct result of watching the Food Channel and specifically Sunny Anderson and Giada DiLaurentiis and other programming and deciding that I want to try those recipes.  My favorite food shows are when Sunny Anderson brings her friends in to "help" or when Giada DiLaurentiis brings in her wonderfully "unhinged" Aunt Raffi.  That's how it is, if you cook and have help in the kitchen it is almost always a more enjoyable situation as long as you don't get "too much" help.

The thing is that these shows are all running up against that balancing act of how loud I can put the TV before Oscar decides to talk back at the screen.   Sunny Anderson and Giada DiLaurentiis are fine.  The volume is not too loud at a conversational tone and the background music seems to add an air to the programming that does not distract from the presentation.

Holmes on Homes, the older program was like this.  He would bring in his team, help a family out with some very heavy duty construction on a small problem created by a bad contractor and then fix it.  By fix it, I mean sometimes gutting the room down to the support beams and then rebuild the place.   If I had a contractor, I'd want this guy!  There's a lot of information in his shows and it makes me wonder whether our Canadian Cousins have any decent construction contractors up in Toronto at all. 

Fast forward to the current show, Holmes Inspection.   Now he brings on his affable team including his family members and other contractors to do this same work.  He's upgraded the show with some animations that show what is happening at this particular part of the house reconstruction.  The graphics are usually very useful and show in detail how this part of the structure is being changed.

Great, he's back, he's got a team, he's showing the family who live there and how they're being effected by the incompetent contractors and the job will be done and done right.

So what's the problem?

Remember that parrot?  Oscar?   He's the problem.  You see there's background music on this show.  A constant drone of a guitar riff.   So far why the complaints?  Watch the show and you'll see.  Most of the time, if you have music on a TV show, it will be in the background.  If you notice it, it is too loud and will detract from the message.

In the case of Holmes Inspection, the volume level of that snarling guitar riff is equal to or greater than the people speaking.  So the volume of the show has to be turned up to try to actually pick out what Damon and the rest are saying.  It's a shame because here is an excellent show with a great crew and a lot of truly good information about contracting and home repair that is getting lost because you have a first year film student that cranked up the volume of a bad music track.

Once you notice that, then you start to look at the problems of a given show.  The "Warts and All" syndrome where if you don't have a problem with something, you enjoy it "warts and all" but if you do, those problems become all that much more apparent.

I found myself yelling at the TV saying "Why Are You Showing Me This Filler!" more often than not.  They'll show a person working on a particular piece of construction.  For example, you have a contractor explaining how badly a railing was installed in the house and why he's about to replace the risers and how he goes about doing it.  Then they cut to him doing it.  Normally they'll fade to the next aspect of the construction, but to make it even more edgy, they zoom the camera into the Drill Bit going into the wood and amp up the snarling guitar while they stop zooming in and slow the video down to slow motion.  I suspect they eat up another 2 or 3 minutes of content or more each episode by showing me a drill bit chewing up some wood or a jackhammer slowly breaking up concrete. 

At this point, Oscar's yelling because I'm yelling at the TV.

So I have pretty much stopped watching Holmes Inspection as a result.  Too bad, because with a few minor tweaks it could be a great source of how to fix your house. 

I can't watch it with the volume turned down, I even tried turning off the Subwoofer on the TV Sound Bar and the background 'music' is still too loud.   I guess I'll just have to move on. 

It's just way too intrusive. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wrong Email Address - Humor

So after deleting a spam comment on an older posting, I thought this one was appropriate.  A little humor from my friend Velma, back in Philly.

This one is priceless... ..A lesson to be learned from typing the wrong email address!!!!

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out
during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston , a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: October 16, 2005

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P. S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

God Sends Us Professionals - Humor

You know you really do have to have some help at times.  I used to keep a Slim Jim in the car when I commuted so I could help, and I always up until recently maintained my First Aid Certification so in case I needed to give assistance I could.

So when you need help just ask, you never know who may be able to assist you in your hour of need.

Thanks, Velma!

God Sends us Professionals

The Coat Hanger"

A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her small daughter was very sick with a fever.

She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication.

She got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys in the car.

She didn't know what to do, so she called home and told the baby sitter what had happened.

The baby sitter told her that the fever was getting worse. She said, "You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door."

The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been left on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time had locked their keys in their car.

She looked at the hanger and said, "I don't know how to use this."

She bowed her head and asked God to send her help.

Within five minutes a beat up old motor cycle pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head.

The woman thought, "This is what you sent to help me?" But, she was desperate, so she was also very thankful. The man got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.

She said, "Yes, my daughter is very sick. I stopped to get her some medication and I locked my keys in my car. I must get home to her.. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"

He said, "Sure." He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was opened.

She hugged the man and through her tears she said, "Thank You So Much! You are a very nice man."

The man replied, "Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour."

The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, "Oh, thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!!!"

Is - GOD  GOOD - or what!!!???          

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just one of those mornings

Staring out of the back window at the pool, the coffee was being stirred.  Almost ready to be run through the filter into the waiting oversized mug, concentration was broken by the cell phone ringing.

It turned out that there was a tractor trailer accident on the Susquehanna River bridge that I-95 ran over, the Tydings Bridge if you are keeping count.  It must have been a massive accident because it happened well before dawn and the bridge and the road were closed down for a 15 mile stretch this morning. 

The phone call was to warn of this and to ask for directions.  One of the more amusing wrinkles of our connected lives is that sitting in South Florida, you may able to easily comply by starting up one of those globe programs and zooming in.  A route was plotted through Conowingo, MD down to Bel Air, MD on US1 which was thankfully free of massive tie ups and finished the call.

The coffee now was cooling, so it was poured directly into the mug along with a nice thick slug of grounds that was neglected to be filtered out, and as it was lifted off the counter, it became the second mug of coffee of the day that painted the floor brown just like the first.

All the while, the faithful companion waited flipping her head back and forth.  You see, she had slept wrong and the ears needed attention, now!  This particular Mc Nab Dog, a breed of dog derived from the Border Collie lines specifically for intelligence, had a history of getting crud into her rather perky ears.  She required them to be cleaned with a cotton swab twice weekly and an occasional irrigation as needed has to happen.

Have you ever tried to clean someone else's ears?  Unless you are a nurse or a mother with a small child it's doubtful.  Try that with someone with sharp canine teeth and you do this when She needs it not when You think it's appropriate.   She doesn't like it either and usually sees the cleaning supplies and tries to look small and unassuming.

Not today.  In the middle of the morning routine, she wanted this NOW.  Setting thoughts of surfing for Project Management Jobs aside for the moment, the tools of the trade were gathered.   A small collection of cotton swabs and a bottle of Aloe Vera and Alcohol preparation were stowed in the aptly named cargo pants and the leash was put on the semi suspecting dog's shoulders as we walked into the Florida Sunshine.

The game was on.  We were going to make Rainbows!  You see, no dog likes to get water in her ears.  The flapping would make a spray of this liquid so the irrigation had to be done quickly.  Giving her head one more scratching rub, there was a quick Squirt and Hold into the ear canal.  Holding the hand in place for as long as the dog could handle, it was time to move as quickly as possible away from the now violently shaking dog. 

...right into the spare tire mounted on the back of the Jeep Wrangler that was lurking in the driveway and then falling right onto the concrete with a loud thud.

Never mind that the other ear had to be done...

Scooping myself up it was time to walk back over to the dog who knew what was good for her.  With a smile, she acquiesced for another dose of irrigation in the other ear.

This time, the elusive rainbow was created in a mist of aloe vera, alcohol and botanical scents as the overspray painted the once clean cargo pants and the right arm.  Luckily the reading glasses that were forgotten worked as eye protection as a brown splat of ear cheese landed on the right lens.

Oh Joy.

Taking the now relieved dog back into the house, the phone rings again. 

"Did you know that US1 goes right over the Conowingo Dam?"
Yes of course, we have been there more than once before and that part of the world is a very pretty place.  Remember US1 through Bel Air MD and you'll be fine... Ok, Catch you later, call if you need more directions.

God save me from bored drivers...

Three emails back and forth about a Domain Change later and the phone rings:

"Hey guess what?  I'm on the other side of the tunnel!"
Baltimore never looked so good in the rear view mirror.

It has been quiet now.  The Domain Change is in play, the breakfast chicken sandwich left to cool on the counter was a passable breakfast although Fajita Seasoning is a bit salty, and the calming classical music is playing quietly in the living room.

Busy Morning?  Much better than the alternative.

A chat window pops up.  It seems like a friend in Atlanta is on a green kick.   He wants to turn off the house air conditioning at night and cocoon up in one bedroom with a window air conditioner.  If you insulate just that one room it will be more efficient.

"Hey! what do you think if I drill a hole into the drywall and inject the air cavity?"
You mean there's no insulation in the walls?
"No, the house was built in the 60s in suburban Atlanta, Georgia Good Ol' Boys know nothing about efficiency"
But how will you know how much to spray in?  Will the wall board pop?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oh Just Take The Shot Already!

I needed a break yesterday, and so did my Lettie.

Opening the door, I heard a distant rumble of the approaching thunderstorms to the North and stepped out onto the porch.

Living on my block, I have a constant patter of people walking past the house.  Some go off to the shops, others are returning.  I've always liked living close to shopping centers, it allows me some flexibility and entertainment.

Waving to the neighbor across the open lot, I told Lettie to go on and do her thing.  While I'm shifting from foot to foot,  I look down at the little cement and tile planter that made it from Pennsylvania to the front yard here.  We have never quite had any luck with the planter.  It's too small for most things, too hot for others.  As a gift a while back, M.E. DePalma of the park near the house had given me these three succulents that moped along for about a year and they're finally starting to take off.  The nice thing is that they don't really mind being baked in the Florida sun in that spot.  I like having the plant next to the front of the house and it's a nice low maintenance thing to have there. 

The warmth does draw critters though.  Before that, it had had some Marigolds that got turned into a salad for Snails one damp night.  Wake up and find the plants just gone.  That won't do.  Same with the Impatiens. 

I noticed the little Anole watching me as if to say, I'm keeping an eye on you.  As we went about our business I thought it could be an amusing little shot, why not.  Lettie darted back into the house, I plodded after and found the camera.  I think the little guy was content with my taking the picture because it didn't move.  Sharing the yard with wildlife like those lizards that flip their dewlap at you through the living room glass and walking around the neighborhood through clouds of butterflies can be a nice experience.

Now if I could only rid us of those blasted gnats and mosquitoes!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Great Galloping Geckos Girl, Go Get 'Em!

Near my house is a park.  Next to the park is a house that shades the walk.  It's been adopted by anoles and geckos. 

Late in the afternoon, when the Florida Summer Heat isn't quite so punishing, the Anoles come out to the sidewalk to warm up before going back into hiding for a long sleep. 

That is where Mrs Dog comes in.

You see, a Border Collie, or a Mc Nab Dog to be more accurate, is a study of measured intensity.  Give them a job and they will do it.  Things out of place must be made right. 

In the mind of a Border Collie, Lizards do not belong in the middle of a side walk.  Lettie would put it right. 

If you have ever seen an Agility or a Fly Ball competition, you will see these dogs being held back and wound up by their owners.  One hand on them to hold them back, the person encouraging adrenalin out of their charges, and the Dogs going wild with excitement and a frenzy of enjoyment at the up and coming task.

In my case, it allowed these lizards to hear Mrs Dog go from sedate and steady companion to a furry black streak being wound up and doing something she almost never does - bark. 

As the frenzied barking and growling happened, my hand released the purple harness that she came with.   At that very same moment, the Lizards fearing a giant black streak would approach and separate their tail from body, ran off into the brush. 

An eye blink later, Lettie was charging down the 100 feet of shaded sidewalk through a herd of scattering Lizards.   Bending down while running at top speed, she'd Woof! at an imagined Lizard that turned out to be a leaf.  Not realizing she could not stop immediately in full frenzied mode, she continued down the block, Bound! Bound! WOOF! until she arrived at the end of the property with a satisfied look.

She had cleared the walkway.  It was now safe for humanity.  Cleared of the evil geckos, I could walk while being guided by my faithful companion showing the joy that you only see in a working dog who has successfully completed her task.

That picture above was her walking beside me, a half mile later.  The smile was unabated, this was pure Border Collie Joy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Abandoning Your Best Friend at 5:30 AM

After tossing and turning from 4AM for another 90 minutes, I decided it was time to see if the world was safe to be greeted.

Listening to the soft snoring coming from nearby, I did not want to wake her.  Softly, Softly, I reached up onto the headboard just inches away in the predawn gloom and found my phone.  Pressing it to my chest through the thin blanket, I turned it on and allowed it to come alive.  I reached up and found the glasses that were next to it and put them on.

The phone announced that I had an email message with a vibration through my sternum and a soft chime.

The soft snoring continued unabated, so I stealthily pulled the device in under the covers to darken the effects that the display would have on the sleeping beauty.

Going through email and finding nothing particularly important to deal with in the early morning gloom, I checked Radar and found that it was going to be a crystal clear morning.

This allowed me the opportunity to get checked into what ever chat channels I usually keep going all day long, and get caught up on the things people are doing.

The website Craigslist caught my eye, so I set the phone to go out and fetch the morning information.  People are giving things away, both concrete and otherwise, and it can be an entertaining read to find out what others are doing in the course of their day.

I was clicking on an item that I did not really need when my subconscious made me miss.   I had clicked on a picture icon, a tiny camera graphic on the glass screen.  When the picture rendered, I saw staring back at me the face of a small dog, a fawn colored Chihuahua, begging for attention.

When ever I see those pictures, my heart usually pauses.  These are never a good sign.  Someone believes that they can tell Man's Best Friend that they'll be fine in a new home and all will be well.   I was right, that was exactly what had happened.  Someone believed that there would be a new home for this poor creature.  A 6 year old dog will never understand why it was abandoned and now lives with a new person or family.  It will always be confused and hope that it will go back.

Of course this is a preferable step to that of turning a middle aged dog into the shelter.  They simply don't last.  The people wanting dogs usually want puppies.   Cute little fur balls they can teach to be their perfect little creature, not understanding that work that comes along with a non house trained pet.  After all, that cute little puppy is a clean slate, as will your floors be after you clean after it for the 25th time in That Spot.

The six year old Chihuahua won't have that problem, it's already house broken and just wants to be with you, the original owner. 

Had it made it to the Shelter, that dog has a high chance of merely being put down because the shelters have so very many dogs coming in in this Republican Induced Great Depression.   After all, you can downsize your life.  Dump that old couch, the pictures of Great Aunt Maude won't fit in the newer smaller apartment, the Big TV has gone to the thrift shop, and the extra serving dishes along with it.  But you can't seem to find an apartment that fits what you really need because they won't take dogs, no way, no how. 

It was impossible for us to find an apartment that would accept my 47 pound dog because they had an arbitrary weight rule against "big dogs".  So we had to search and eventually bought a house that we're in to this day.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to do that, and those who are trying to find homes for their middle aged dogs are usually doing it because they lost their jobs in this downturn and are scrambling so that they won't be homeless themselves.

The dogs end up jettisoned and confused.  Cats fare better because, in my own experience, fewer places ban cats.  That is despite the fact that I have always been able to tell a cat lives in a place.  There's a certain smell...

Hopefully that poor creature will find a home.  There will be many more after it.  I got mine in a shelter, so should you.

In the eye blink that it took for me to read that short little paragraph about the soon to be homeless dog, I had that flood of thoughts.  Shuddering, I blanked the screen and threw the covers off.

Snoring ceased, the wet nose sniffed the air and sleeping beauty awakened.   I got out of bed and we began our day with a mile and a quarter dog walk.  My dog had her second chance.  She rescued me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Skype the vacation away

A while back, I was consulting for a start up.  Interesting situation, I helped out with some light Web Development and QA for a small group up in Philly and kept it up while I moved here.  The whole time I had a constricting 600 minutes a month on my T-Mobile contract.  The first month here, I blew that out and ended up with a $120 charge instead of my usual $40

We figured out a way to telecommute via Skype, and continued onwards. 

I used Skype to teleconference with people on Windows, Mac, and Linux on every sort of connection from Dial-Up (Yes, people use that still) to cable modem broad band.   It's an amazing piece of software and completely free to use on the web.

I can go deeper into that, but functioning as a CTO/CIO for a start up from here in Wilton Manors while the rest of the organization was around Philadelphia and NYC was amazing experience.  Too bad the organization folded.  The Republican Induced Great Depression that we're going through claimed another Small Business...

Right now, Kevin is up in Philly visiting Mom on vacation.  He's got Skype on his iPhone and an unlimited data contract.  I've got it here on my laptop with built-in web camera. 

We've always played with technology but this is a difference.  With his iPhone 4 and the two cameras on it, we decided to play and go with a video call.

So I was sending and receiving a crystal clear audio stream.  Sound was FM quality, maybe better.   I didn't have my headphones to judge, but Skype on my end blows away any cell phone call I've ever had except when I used Skype on the iPhone to chat with a friend in Key West.

What was amusing was what Kevin did next.  Video.

He was driving through the rolling green southern Pennsylvania countryside sending me "Quarter VGA" video in full speed.  It was blocky and grainy but it was utterly smooth.  We were laughing as he approached Mom's home and knocked on the door.

"Hi Mom, look, Bill's on the Phone in Video"
"Hi Mrs Mom! I bet you didn't expect to be on TV to Florida did you?"
"Hi Bill! No I didn't!"

I was then taken for a tour of a condo that I had been told so much about, saw her Orchids and the view through to the forest (or at least trees) behind the home and all the things that I had recognized from the visits to their home before I had moved to Florida.

The thing is that it's completely free to use it over the web.  They also offer services for a couple dollars a month to allow you to use your Skype Account as a phone with a phone number in the US and other countries. 

Basically we've all got some chat options, but when I find myself able to use Skype, it's what I prefer.   Doing Skype to Skype on two PCs is absolutely smooth. 

Last night I got a video Skype call from my friend in Key West, David. 

The video was full screen, and since we were on a "fast" cable modem connection, the video was better than Standard Def TV.  It may have been equivalent to 720p, I'm not sure, but it was stable as could be.

The thing is we both had older computers with web cams.  Mine is a Core2Duo processor - about 2 years old.  His was a 5 year old Mac Book on an old copy of OSX Leopard. 

You just don't need high end equipment to do something that "The Jetsons" considered normal any more.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Value of a Catholic Education - Humor

I may have been the sum of all of my years of education but after hearing some of the stories of the regimented Catholic Schools in New Jersey, I'm glad I didn't experience them first hand until High School.  The priests and nuns of Camden Catholic High School were an interesting lot, and certainly weren't limiting in any way. 

However, when I got this joke... I truly enjoyed it!

The value of a Catholic education and a #2 pencil.

Little Susie was not the best student in Catholic School . Usually she slept through the class.

One day her teacher, a Nun, called on her while she was sleeping.

'Tell me Susie, who created the universe?'

When Susie didn't stir, little Johnny who was her friend sitting behind her, took his pencil and jabbed her in the rear.

'God Almighty!' shouted Susie.

The Nun said, 'Very good' and continued teaching her class..

A little later the Nun asked Susie, 'Who is our Lord and Savior?'

But Susie didn't stir from her slumber. Once again, Johnny came to her rescue and stuck her in the butt.

'Jesus Christ!!!' shouted Susie.

And the Nun once again said, 'Very good', and Susie fell back asleep.

The Nun asked her a third question...'What did Eve say to Adam after she had her twenty-third child?'

Again, Johnny came to the rescue. This time Susie jumped up and shouted, 'If you stick that damn thing in me one more time, I'll break it in half!'

The nun fainted.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Parents Drink - Humor

Another one with the Velma Seal Of Approval.  I saved this one and just had to share! Smart kid teaching Dad all about Perspective!

Why Parents Drink

A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an envelope, propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to 'Dad.'

With the worst premonition he opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter.

Dear Dad:

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you.

I have been finding real passion with Stacy and she is so nice.

But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercing, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes and the fact that she is much older than I am. But it's not only the passion...Dad she's pregnant.

Stacy said that we will be very happy.

She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children.

Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone.  We'll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people that live nearby for cocaine and ecstasy.

In the meantime we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Stacy can get better. She deserves it..

Don't worry Dad. I'm 15 and I know how to take care of myself.  Someday I'm sure that we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren.

Love, Your Son John

PS. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house.  I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than a report card that's in my center desk drawer.

I love you.
Call me when it's safe to come home!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Standing on the Platform at the Auto Train

I'm a big fan of travel and public transportation.  I'm a green even if I do drive a Jeep that gets 18mpg city, and I justify it by riding a train when I am able.  I was able to only put 4000 miles a year on the thing when I lived in Philly because I rode the SEPTA Regional Rails everywhere. 

The R7 is where I met some wonderful people when I learned how to share the seat. 

In the case of this picture, it brought back that flood of memories, joining up with Velma and the morning crew and riding to work every day for 7 plus years.  The platforms are pretty standard, even though this one is for the Auto Train in Sanford Florida.

Kevin's taking a trip to visit Mom, and will be arriving in Lorton Virginia this morning.  Onward to Pennsylvania afterwords. 

I took the Auto Train way back in the 70s when it had first started up with my family.  We rode to Sanford and took a grand tour of Florida, first heading to Tampa area, then Fort Lauderdale, and back to Orlando to see the Rat.   After all we kids, Pat and I and Cousin Darlene, were not yet teens and it was a chance to see all the fun at Disney World while it was still exciting.

Back then, we rode coach.  It was uncomfortable then with seats that didn't recline and blankets that weren't quite warm enough in the Air Conditioned "comfort". 

Later, I tried it again in Coach and found that the seats were a little better but not suited to my 6'4" frame and thought only in an emergency. 

Kevin tried an "Individual RoomEtte" and liked it.  They're not quite four feet wide, have a teeny table and two chairs in them.  When you're ready, the porter pulls down a berth for you to sleep your way through some rather unexciting scenery in the deep south and you wake up in Virginia.  North Florida if you're coming down from Snowbird Land.

Much more comfortable than trying to pretend that sleeping in a stiff backed and semi padded chair that is semi reclining is a good way to spend a night.

Theoretically the costs work out fairly even, you can go the distance in about the same time and expense as it would be to drive.  Certainly safer since I know that in the middle of that first day drive, I'll start getting white line fever and need a good time out of the Jeep. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Wet Walk in the Park

Oh hi!

Yeah we're in for it.  It's South Florida, you have two seasons, wet and dry.  50 inches of rain a year, 40 or so in six months.

No, you're right, it's more like Hurricane and Snowbird Season some years.

I didn't get caught out too badly though but you learn to check.

Sure did, I've got a weather app on the iPhone so I can skim radar before I left.

Nope, I heard the storm approach before it hit with a big rolling crack right at 6AM.

Because, at 6 my neighbor's sprinkler goes off, mine goes off, my dog wakes and wakes me.  It's all very predictable.

Yep, nice guy, real quiet too which is a massive plus after what we've been through.

Don't ask...

Sure she got wet, I had my Antenna also known as an Umbrella.  I've been here long enough to know that you get the good golf umbrellas that are all carbon fiber but I've had this one since the mid 80s when I worked in Philly.  Can't give up something that works just yet.

It's like they say about us down here, "You can tell a Floridian because they don't bring an umbrella when it rains, they just wait for it to stop or get wet".  Not like back in Philly where it would rain all damn day at 39 degrees and you'd be frozen through.  Here just hand me a soap bar and let me shower with the rain since it can really be THAT warm.

Of course not.  Mrs Dog Hates Rain, but you know I have that mile and a quarter I'm walking every morning.

Since May.  Looked at the scale on my birthday and wasn't happy so I've lost 6 pounds since then in 2 months. 

It simply wouldn't be right for someone who was a trainer for inline skating to have that much extra.  After all you can't accelerate as fast with an extra 10 in the middle, right? 

*CRACK*  Ok, let me get going before that rain hits again. 

Good seeing you too...

Too late, let me walk you home if you don't mind being under a golf umbrella that looks more like a maroon and grey satellite dish with metal spars.

Oh that was close, lets git!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shopping Online at JCPenney Could Be Easier

Ok I'm that guy who breaks things.  I'll admit it.   I've got more than 15 years experience in Project Management, more than 25 years experience in Software Development.  I've done decades of this stuff, including Quality Assurance and Change Control.

Basically if you think of a software development shop, I've done it.  Including User Experience and Search Engine Optimization, I've got a very broad background.

I had a position where I was hired as a Software Project Manager.  They used my Network Admin (My direct report) as a fill in at in Information Booth that I ended up Specifying, Procuring, and Deploying a brand spanking new Server using Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server while babysitting a vendor based in Sydney Australia.

Not only was the vendor upside down, but he was shocked when I told him that I managed to get his e-commerce software working within a Virtual Machine using a copy of Windows Server 2008 running on a cast-off desktop computer sitting in a stock room "down the hall".

The vendor's software was Everest E-Commerce software which is used in many large scale "shopping carts".  I managed to get this "heap of code" working despite the admission of the support person down in Oz saying that he couldn't believe that it could be installed by an "end user" let alone within a copy of Microsoft Virtual PC 2007.

Yes, it worked.
Yes, it worked well in a very strange environment.
Yes, I'm kind of pleased with that.

So when I go hit a website to shop, I have a very good idea of how things should work.

Today I had a "coupon code" for JCPenney.  Oooh Discounts!  No worries, I have some polo shirts that are comfortable but embarrasingly old.  I keep them because I like how they fit, not how they look and I realize they should be used to wax the car...

We all have a few.

I went to the web site and begun to order. The product was a shirt, it came in five sizes, it came in around 10 or so colors.

There were a stack of pull downs to the right of the picture.  You select your shirt (Solid Pique), You select your size (Large, I'm a tall dude), and you select your color (Started with something called Bayview).  Click add to shopping cart.

Woo hoo, one shirt ordered.  It greyed the window, placed one of those light boxes with what you just did and gave the option for you to go back and order more.

Ok, I had a coupon code to knock off $10 bucks if you order 6 so I was going to order six.  I needed them and it gave me an excuse to wax my car with those old shirts...

Problem 1.

That picture had a color selection strip below.  Hover over the color and it would light box a small square of the color.  Oooh.  Click on it, and the shirt changed to the color you wanted.  Ok, so far so good.  The problem was that it didn't update the pulldown for the selection you wanted.   This may be by design, I concede that you may not always want that selection pulldown to be changed, but I would do so.  Makes it faster for that person sitting out in their living room with the feet up on the coffee table to order what you're selling and not to close the window in confusion.

Problem 2.

Now that I've found the color that will adorn my 48 inch chest, and realized that the pulldown does not match the sample, I've corrected that in the pulldown.  Click Order.  The screen repaints.  I'm confused, I said I really did want this in Oatmeal, why are you not telling me that I have another shirt in my shopping cart.  Scratching my head, I scroll downwards and see a red stripe saying this item is out of stock.

If it's out of stock, why present it on the web page?   It's like saying we have this but you don't and you never will but isn't it a pretty shirt?

While the first problem I could say isn't really a problem, this one is.

However, had I been designing the product I would have flagged this as an error for correction in the next release - Change the Error Message to a different color, and do not show selections that are out of stock.

The latter is obviously more important.   It should not have taken me 15 minutes to get the order completed on a high speed network link.

Ok, admittedly, I got what I wanted, it wasn't a Terrible Experience.  This was one of those things like "ok, son, (pat on head) we'll get it right later, now go finish your homework" kind of experiences.

Besides, I really do like JCPenney.  I'm generally able to find what I am looking for both in the store and online.  It just hit me that (patting the kid on the head) it's almost there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The City Should Just...

As walking through the city this weekend I kept hearing that beginning to a discussion.  Usually it was the second or third sentence leading into what this City or another was doing wrong.

There's a problem with that logic.  It is short hand.  It's incomplete.

For example, this weekend was the Fourth of July weekend.  Last night there were big fireworks displays in Fort Lauderdale, another in nearby Oakland Park, and lots of people including my neighbors were shooting them off.  My dog was freaking out from the ones that whistle, and the bass note of the mortar shells that set off the "Chrysanthemums".

Beautiful night if you're not a dog or your breathing is normal.  Mine is, she hated it.  It's done and there's always a bit of a feeling of "Can We Do It Again?" when it is.

This person is one of those self professed "I will never go to Wilton Manors" people.  Never mind that this took place on Wilton Drive ...

His thought was that Wilton Drive needed a fireworks display.  "The City Should Just" pay for one.  I immediately said "Small city, only 12000 people, how are we going to pay for a professional one?".  At the same time, another friend responded "They used to have one and it got too expensive.".

In this time of austerity and the Republican Induced Great Depression we're in, my thoughts are that any new services that are to be provided by any government agencies must be revenue neutral or revenue positive.

In other words if they spend a buck, they need to get that buck back or more.

A fireworks display is a wonderful thing but really difficult to put a price on.  It's frightfully expensive with insurance, professional people to set up the display and then break it down after it's been fired.  It can be visible for miles, so why would someone want to pay for admission for something like that when they can stand back a block and get "almost as good a show".

When I was a kid we could stand in my front yard and see the fireworks from neighboring Haddonfield, 3 miles away.  When I got older, I'd drive to the park at Cooper Creek near Cuthbert Road and see Philadelphia's fireworks reflect on the creek as well as five different smaller displays from Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Oaklyn, Pennsauken, and Cherry Hill in New Jersey.  Believe me THAT was beautiful.  Not one but SIX professional fireworks displays at once.  You didn't know where to look to "ooooh!".

12000 people in the city.  Some people look at fireworks as a nuisance.  Should we pay for a fireworks display with their money?  Who decides what kind of a display you get and how big?  How much per person do we spend? 

There are a lot of decisions that a small city would make if they were the big city in the county, but the decision really would come down to what is more important.  There's a certain Sewage Lift Station that comes to mind that will need replacement shortly and that's where I'd spend that money.

There are some serious benefits to living in a small town or a small city, there are also limitations.  It's all about Balance.  Choosing what is important to a Tourist isn't necessarily important to someone who uses their town as a bedroom community.

But the Tourists don't vote, except with their feet.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Sharing Of Marriage - Humor

I couldn't resist this one.  Since today is July 4th and the neighbor's kids are setting off fireworks in the empty lot, the burgers are in the freezer or refrigerator for later, and I've got my feet up doing my usual thing, I thought why not share this joke.

When I read it, I did get a laugh out of it and I'm sure you will too.

Thank Velma, it's another one with her seal of approval and mine.

The sharing of marriage...

The old man placed an order for one hamburger, French fries and a drink.

He unwrapped, the plain hamburger and carefully cut it in half, placing one half in front of his wife.

He then carefully counted out the French fries, dividing them into two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife.

As the man began to eat his fries a young man came to the table and politely offered to buy another meal

Obviously they were thinking, ' That poor old couple - all they can afford is one meal for the two of them. '

Finally, as the old man finished and was wiping his face neatly with the napkin, the young man again cameover to the little old lady who had yet to eat a single bite of food and asked ' What is it you are waiting for? ' She answered –
                                        ' THE TEETH. '

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Lyrics for Old Songs - Humor

Yes this one comes with the Velma Seal Of Approval, so you'll get a chuckle out of it.

New Wine in Old Bottles, New Words for old Songs.  This time, it's new for old favorites.  Enjoy your weekend!

Music is changing as we get older-

Some of the artists of the 60's are revising their hits with new lyrics to accommodate aging baby boomers who can remember doing the "mashed potato" as if it were yesterday.
They include:

Bobby Darin ---
Splish, Splash, I Was Havin' A Flash

Herman's Hermits---
Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Walker

Ringo Starr---
I Get By With A Little Help From Depends?

The Bee Gees-- -
How Can You Mend A Broken Hip?

Roberta Flack---
The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face??

Johnny Nash ---
I Can't See Clearly Now.?

Paul Simon---
Fifty Ways To Lose Your Liver
The Commodores---
Once, Twice, Three Times To The Bathroom

Procol Harem---
A Whiter Shade Of Hair?
Leo Sayer--- You Make Me Feel Like Napping
The Temptations--- Papa's Got A Kidney Stone
Abba---Denture Queen
"You haven't seen my teeth have you Wilma?
Tony Orlando---
Knock 3 Times On The Ceiling If You Hear Me Fall
Helen Reddy---I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore
Leslie Gore---
It's My Procedure, and I'll Cry If I Want To
And Last but NOT least...

Willie Nelson---
On the Commode Again

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Pope Joke For You

Actually it was billed as a "Poop Joke" but my friend who sent it can't spell either.

After getting all of Pope Benedict's luggage loaded into the limo, (and he doesn't travel light), the driver notices the Pope is still standing on the curb.
'Excuse me, Your Holiness,' says the driver, 'Would you please take your seat so we can leave?'
'Well, to tell you the truth,' says the Pope, 'they never let me drive at the Vatican when I was a cardinal, and I'd really like to drive today.'
'I'm sorry, Your Holiness, but I cannot let you do that. I'd lose my job! What if something should happen?' protests the driver, wishing he'd never gone to work that morning..
'Who's going to tell?' says the Pope with a smile.
Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 205 kms.. (Remember, the Pope is German..)
'Please slow down, Your Holiness!' pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens.
'Oh, dear God, I'm going to lose my license -- and my job!' moans the driver.
The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio.
'I need to talk to the Chief,' he says to the dispatcher.
The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going 155 kph.
'So bust him,' says the Chief.
'I don't think we want to do that, he's really important,' said the cop.
The Chief exclaimed,' All the more reason!'
'No, I mean really important,' said the cop with a bit of persistence.
The Chief then asked, 'Who do you have there, the mayor?'
Cop: 'Bigger.'
Chief: ' A senator?'
Cop: 'Bigger.'  
Chief: 'The Prime Minister?'
Cop: 'Bigger.'
'Well,' said the Chief, 'who is it?'
Cop: 'I think it's God!'
The Chief is even more puzzled and curious, 'What makes you think it's God?'
Cop: 'His chauffeur is the Pope!'