Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Does Your McNab Dog or Border Collie Respect Ownership?

My dog is a shelter dog.  I got her when she was a year old.  She had been trained then abandoned at 6 months, stayed in the shelter another 6 months.  The numbers could be off, nobody knows for sure.

The posting on Petfinder said she was an amazingly smart girl, and I was not ready for how smart she was.

The breed is most likely a Purebred McNab Dog, although there may be some Border Collie in her.  We doubt the Border Collie, but either way, she's smarter than anyone in the house, even the people some days.

Any active and intelligent dog needs exercise and mental stimulation so I have to walk her 3 times, 1 mile each per day.  Luckily I live near shopping centers and bars so she gets to talk to the people she so loves.

When I get home, I have noticed that her behavior is probably the most respectful I have ever noticed with any dog.  By respectful I mean that she knows what is hers, what is mine, what is ours, and she will not deviate from the norm.

For example, most people who have Huskies know never leave food out.  If you do, your faithful dog will grab that off the plate you set out and enjoy it.  It is their nature.  My Lettie has never exhibited this trait.  She used to put her paws up on the counter until I told her (loudly) not to, but only to watch.  I keep her dog food, Purina Lamb and Rice, in the bag on a chair, freely accessible to man and beast.  There is nothing to stop her from waiting until I've gone out or gone to sleep and pull the bag off the kitchen chair perch, spill its contents out and eat until she's full and then some.

The difference is that she knows that the bag is mine, but the cup I feed her twice a day is hers.  The bowl is ours since I am able to move it away or add things to it as I do sometimes due to my own needs.  She simply will not eat from the bag although she knows clearly by her behavior what is in it.

The other thing I have noticed is that the mat is hers.  She has five different mats that are in circulation, like the one in that old picture.  She will sleep on anything resembling a mat, so I have learned not to leave clothes on the floor as well as papers or else they'll end up coated in black and grey fur.  As she is getting older the mat transitioned from ours to hers.   She's getting territorial about those mats, especially late at night when the house is preparing for sleep.  I've gotten barked at by simply going to hang up my clothes so I have decided that we're going to share ownership - it is time to take back possession of those mats.

Since I do not believe that slapping a dog is anything more than violence, the path that is taken is a more passive or even passive aggressive one.  I wait for her to get on the mat and then I sit down next to her.  It is a direct challenge to the behavior and sometimes I get a show of teeth and a grumble. 

She is not a young dog at this point, her arbitrarily assigned birthday is Thanksgiving and this year will be Lettie's 11th birthday.  Behaviors are slower to change especially since she's getting selectively deaf.   Especially at 11 at night.

Last night we had one of those sessions, she sat down, I put my arm over her without touching, then pet her head gently as the fearful side came out and she showed teeth.  Eventually she thought "I've had enough of this" and walked out of the room.   After my calling to her while I had not moved, she walked away.

With a quick "Good by" I closed the bedroom door.  My Door.  For the next hour she would sniff at the door, lay against it, even pawed it once to check if it were open, but nothing aggressive since she did not own the door.

An hour later when I went out to grab a small bit of water, she met me coming out of the bathroom wagging her tail furiously.  As if to apologize, she slipped into the room past me, ran to the mat and sat down pawing at the air beckoning me to approach.  All was forgiven for tonight, we hugged on the mat and on the floor and all grumbles forgotten.

So in writing this, I have to wonder whether your McNabs and your Border Collies and other intelligent dog breeds have this entertaining quirk.

If you are considering an intelligent breed like those or a Standard Poodle, German Shepard Dog, or Australian Shepard, remember you are committing yourself to years of intelligence and getting a friend who will constantly surprise you with their learning ability.  If your intelligent breed dog fails to do something you like, it is more likely the human's fault and not the dog's.

Since these dog articles are widely read (some of them every single day) even almost 2 years after being written, feel free to write your thoughts, I'd be interested in seeing them.  I promise not to close the door!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Update Treadmill - Software, Phone Home!

Ever notice that you spend a LOT of time clicking on that "helpful" update function when you're using that computer? 

It isn't just Windows PCs, it's all of them. 

You see, it's a function of the one stop shopping syndrome we have in software.  It used to be that software was small, light and fast.  It did one thing and did it well.  It had the features you needed to get the job done and it didn't have a lot of things you really did not need.

What has happened is that many programs have grown to add features.  It's called Feature Creep, Feature Bloat, or Code Bloat in the industry, although each of those terms means something slightly different.

I'm going to be a little generous with my definition here, precision in the English that I'm using isn't strictly required in this context.

When I was sent this graph as a joke, it immediately struck a chord.  I use PDF to print very often.  Most days I will print out my first document before 730 in the morning, and may print out another 10 documents without thinking about it twice.  All of this goes to an electronic file format instead of a piece of paper.  These images are stored in a central place for me, specifically to a 16 GB chip that I keep in the side of my trusty laptop.  I can pop that chip out and slip it in my wallet if I need to, but for the most part it stays cozy in the side of my little computer.

Adobe seems to be one of the worst of the "Update of the Day Club".  The others that get me are Java and Microsoft.   I start the computer and more days than not, I am clicking "OK" to update a piece of software because someone had found that if I click on a certain thing, in a certain esoteric situation, someone could cause me to have a virus.

I think I updated Java 6.26 easily 20 times before I told it ignore this particular update. No, the update didn't "take" and I hardly ever use the beast to begin with!

Nice to know they are watching for errors, but it would be better if some of these "necessary features" weren't there to begin with.

For the most part, complexity causes problems, whether it is in software or whether it is in a car. 

The best approach is "Lean and Mean" when it comes to computing.  I practice that when I have bought cars as well, simplicity being something that frankly is impossible to get any longer.   When is the last time you saw a new car with crank windows?

I'm not saying that all the frills should not be available, I am saying that they should be there upon request.  


When I got this laptop, I immediately installed the applications I felt I had to have.  That took the better part of a week to get set up, and I am an exception to the rule since I need so many pieces of software to be able to do what ever it is that I do in the course of the day.

The solution is to take the approach that some of the Linux distributions have - only install what the user (that's you) specifically requests. 

Most of us use Microsoft Word to write documents.  It used to be free, and the practice killed the market for most other large suites of software by being given away on a new computer.  Now that the software suites have been killed off (Remember WordPerfect or Lotus anyone?) Microsoft charges $100 or more for Office, of which one part is Word.

Now if you do use Word, ask yourself when was the last time you needed to merge a database with a document in order to process an email blast?  How about Excel?  When was the last time you needed to do a Pivot Table? 

I've done both recently, but again I am an exception.

That complexity is maintained because you May Need That Some Day, and you did pay for it.

Fair enough, but some day that will have to be fixed again.  After all, someone somewhere figured out how to break your computer by inserting a virus via a web page.

So go patch your software, run through Microsoft Update and let them fix your existing problems.  It is a necessary evil.  That is why they call it "Patch Tuesday".

Oh and if you surf a web page and click on a shortened link, remember that if I have to pay a housecall to fix your PC, you had better at least have good beer and be damn entertaining!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Hunt for a Cure For Writer's Block with Photography

A Picture or 1000 words?

Not today.

Actually, I'm always on the look for new things to take a quick picture of.  It has been said here many times, you should always take your camera with you since you never know what you will see.

Being involved with web development, sometimes it is much easier to decorate a blank page with a background picture and use less text.  It's a style question - what does the owner want the page to look like.  There are similar concerns in home decoration, construction, urban design, as well as many others.

Maybe that last paragraph should be "decorate a blank page with a background and useless text"?

Depends on how cynical you are.

With the tools at hand to someone who has the means to use them, or simply the open source and free tools I am fond of using, you can do some intriguing things with those pictures.  Reduce the opacity of a picture so instead of it being bright and in your face, that beautiful frame is now more background and subtle.

Grab just a section of something, shrink it, spin it, invert the colors, then use it again as a watermark.  Add text and you have your basis for creation, your digital canvas is complete.

On this particular picture, I was standing outside at the 6pm dog walk following after my dog.  Instead of grabbing the plastic bag, I managed to grab my camera instead.   The light was just right to make an interesting texture out of her sunlit side.  It was shimmering in the sunlight, and I thought I might like to see what that looked like close up when I am not dealing with sun glare. 

So what I have there is a bit of a Hair of the Dog Cure for Writer's Block.  I may even sneak it into a web page in the future, you never know where my dog will show up.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Men Prefer Guns Over Women

I just KNOW I'm going to get heat for reprinting this one but I had a chuckle out of it so here you go...

Oh and check out Reason Number One :)

Top Ten Reasons Why Men Prefer Guns Over Women

 #10 - You can trade an old 44 for a new 22.

 #9 - You can keep one gun at home and have another for when you're on the  road.

 #8 - If you admire a friend's gun and tell him so, he will probably let you try it out a few times.

 #7 - Your primary gun doesn't mind if you keep another gun for a backup.

 #6 - Your gun will stay with you even if you run out of ammo.

 #5 - A gun doesn't take up a lot of closet space.

 #4 - Guns function normally every day of the month.

 #3 - A gun doesn't ask , "Do these new grips make me look fat?"

 #2 - A gun doesn't mind if you go to sleep after you use it.

 And the Number One reason Why Men Prefer Guns over Women.....

 #1 - You can buy a silencer for a gun!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Hamburger, Fries, and a Coke - Humor

I've gotten this one a couple times from people, so it's overdue to being shared.  


A man walks into a restaurant with a full-grown ostrich behind him.
The waitress asks them for their orders.
The man says, "A hamburger, fries and a coke," and turns to
the ostrich, "What's yours?"
"I'll have the same," says the ostrich.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order. "That will
be $9.40 please."  The man reaches into his pocket and
pulls out the exact change for payment.
The next day, the man and the ostrich come again and the man
says, "A hamburger, fries and a coke."

The ostrich says, "I'll have the same."

Again the man reaches into his pocket and pays with exact change.

This becomes routine until the two enter again. "The usual?"
asks the waitress.
"No, this is Friday night, so I will have a steak, baked potato and
a salad," says the man.

"Same," says the ostrich.
Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, "That will be $32.62."

Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and
places it on the table.

The waitress cannot hold back her curiosity any longer. "Excuse me,
sir. How do you manage to always come up with the exact change
in your pocket every time?"

"Well," says  the man, "several years ago I was cleaning the attic and
found an old lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered
me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything,
I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money
would always be there."

"That's  brilliant!" says the waitress. "Most people would ask for a
million dollars or something, but you'll always be as rich as you want
for as long as you live!"

"That's right..Whether it's a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact
money is always there," says the man.

The waitress asks, "What's with the ostrich?"

The man sighs, pauses and answers, "My second wish was for a tall chick
with a big ass and long legs who agrees with everything I say.."


Friday, August 26, 2011

They Thought It Would Be Safe On My Porch - Picture

Yesterday was Hurricane Irene.

As it marched its way through the Bahamas leaving destruction in its wake, it was more of a rain event here.  There were three distinct bands of weather that came through.

First the outer band came through right after I got back from the dog walk at 7AM.  That was when I noticed that my windowsill had this particular visitor.  I'm used to seeing Geckos and Lizards on the house, sometimes climbing the walls, sometimes climbing my leg outside when I'm gardening.  In fact, they're so common and so frequently climbing people's calves when they're gardening that a gecko on a leg is a common tattoo around here.

The second band came and stayed around Lunchtime.  In fact, the first was the bow shock that precedes a storm, whether it is a hurricane or just a vigorous front, the second band was the storm itself.  A few gusts and a lot of rain for a couple hours, we were lucky.

It lasted so long that when I took my breaks, I'd let the dog come with me onto the porch and I'd stare at it like a chicken in a barnyard.  While I remembered to keep my mouth closed so I didn't drown, I noticed that the house was covered in lizards and geckos.  In fact there were an inordinate amount of the little things all over the porch. 

Each time I'd step out, I'd herd them away simply by my presence, and my dog would help them on since one of her favorite things in life is to do just that, chase geckos.   They would return when I went back inside to my dry room, each in their own temporary territory, some on the window watching me, others on or behind the stones that are on the front porch.

Later in the afternoon, the last band came through.  It was that trailing bow shock that curved directly over the house.  The cloud was so dramatic that just before the skies opened up for one last blast I had to come out to see.  The lizards were still there, watching from my porch and waiting for me to go back in.

Any port in a storm, even a porch will do.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Lanai full of Hurricane Prep - picture

Not to minimize what the people of the Bahamas are going through, but it looks like Florida dodged the bullet. 

Looking at the forecasts here, we decided to pick things up in the yard and get them under the Lanai as you can see here.   I didn't want my prized Mango Tree or my Banana Tree in a pot to get damaged, so they were the last things to get under cover.

There aren't any major effects predicted for South Florida, but there are in other places.

I haven't been able to listen to the radio from the Bahamas all morning but this link will give you their TV Feed if you want to see what happened there.  All in a wonderful Island Accent. 

For those of you up Good Luck and someone please check in on my Aunt Betty?  She's 92 and on Long Island and right in the path of this thing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane Irene Links

Oddly enough, I haven't collected a lot of links.  The ones I found originally after moving here have proven to be fairly stable and reliable. 

While the whole of the Eastern Seaboard is looking over it's collective shoulders, the storm is predicted to stay mostly out to sea at this point with landfall in New England after clipping the outer banks.  All it takes is a wobble and that could change drastically.

The Florida Natives and Semi-Natives here tell that Hurricane Andrew was originally going to hit Downtown Fort Lauderdale but wobbled at the last moment and had landfall 40 miles south in Homestead.   It then erased the town for the most part. 

The original path for Hurricane Irene was basically coming ashore for a visit to Coral Gables and then a trip up I-95.  That would have been a serious problem for the economy here as it would have hit as a strong Category 2. 

Luckily for us, it's chewing up the Bahamas, and now is expected to clip the outer banks as a Cat 3, then visit Providence RI.  Not good since Narragansett bay will funnel all that storm surge water into the downtown areas then the storm will roll west of Boston.

Maybe it will wobble east again, we can hope.

At any rate, my links are:

Obviously the weather channel website for general info for your area.

There are three other sites, all Hurricane focused.  They are all not considered "official" sites, however they have all had good links to the official sites as well as some good commentary - without the hype.  I tend to ignore the local TV and Radio stations since they get paid by keeping you there and spoon feeding you fear.

The first is FL Hurricane.  This is the one that I tend to hit first since it usually has all the graphics in one place.  There usually is a commentary about any active storms, a graphic link to the existing storm, and maps that you can play around with.

Hurricane City is another weather "enthusiast" site.  On this site there is a lot of commentary and back story.  It's got some links to historical data and sometimes they go on with a "radio" or a "TV" broadcast on the site.  If your curiosity is raised about a past storm, I've seen links on there showing the track of the storm center complete with a helpful google maps plot.

Finally there is the Hurricane Watch Net.  This site is run by the Amateur Radio groups and has more of an emergency feel to it.  If you still have a shortwave radio in the house (I do) you can tune into the emergency frequency and listen in.  Their focus is "this" storm, not the older ones.

If you have any other links that are promising, feel free to add them in the comments. I'm always willing to surf another weather site.

For now, if you will excuse me, I have some wind chimes and other outside stuff to get stowed.   They're predicting steady winds of 25MPH with gusts.  Not really a big deal, but if we were to get a "microburst"...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Sunrise over Wilton Manors - Picture

In the morning, taking Mrs Dog out for her morning Drag, I am fortunate enough to be able to see the sunrise come up over the ocean.

With crepuscular rays rising west from the beach between the distant hotels, and grey and gold cotton candy clouds greeting the watchers, it only takes a viewer to behold them.

These days, the sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular.  Of course these clouds may rain on us, wash the dust off of the streets, and send us for cover.  How bad can it be when the rain is as warm as you would adjust a cool shower in your own bathroom.

The walks are slower than they had been, but longer.  Mrs Dog is tolerating the heat less these days, I'm needing the distance to pretend that I'm getting exercise.  As long as she's able, she'll be brought around town.  She's the "Canine Ambassador for Wilton Manors to Snowbirds" it seems, greeting everyone with a wag and a sniff. 

Who knows whether she appreciates the morning light show, I certainly do. 

Never having seen an Aurora in the Northern Skies, I'm content to see the Florida mornings shimmer and turn the sky from grey to gold, then to white and blue.  The tail end of the summer has so far been a gentle time with flowers in bloom and afternoon thunder and lightning shows to entertain those who get to watch them. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not For All The Tikuanyin Oolong Tea in South Florida

Since I was a teen when Diane Cottler took her son Dan and I to my first Chinese Restaurant, I have preferred Oolong Tea to any other.

There is a different taste, more woody, more body, not quite as sweet as the common teas that are drank in the United States as well as elsewhere. 

This tea is also not quite as common as the mass market tea.  Having gone through some times where it was difficult to find this tea in supermarkets and tea shops at a reasonable price, it's been a habit to pick it up in bulk when it's found.

This weekend was the great tea quest.

Having gone to a shop that had this tea down in North Miami Beach we originally got one tin of this.  The tea was in large tins, 500 grams, or around 18 ounces for just under $13.  You'll pay that for 2 ounces at that posh and overpriced tea shop in the mall, or a little less at a supermarket.

The picture is deceptive, these tins are rather large, and the calligraphy and the art on them is appreciated.  There are a couple of the tins around from prior purchases because they're too nice to recycle.  This particular tea seems to be something of a specialty item within a specialty item.  Tikuanyin Oolong has it's own processing methods and it's own fan base.  I seem to have stumbled onto something really good and drinking it for a common iced tea.

Starting on our way back from lunch at Ikea on Saturday, we turned off on the wrong road and headed North to find the orignal shop in Oakland Park.  Unfortunately we were about 4 miles west of Oakland Park on the wrong side of the turnpike in "OTP" land - Over TurnPike land - or Out There in East Naples.

After laughing at our wrong turns and finding the first shop, we went in expecting my familiar brown tins but these Beautiful Brown Tins were nowhere to be found.  Since these places are almost always What You See Is What You Get, we left scratching our heads.  I insisted that it wasn't necessary to drive down to Hollywood or North Miami Beach "just for tea" and I'd do it on my own on Monday.

Not to be inconvenienced, I was told we're going to Hollywood and that's that.

Not one of my favorite trips, mind you, since driving to Hollywood means going through some of the more questionable areas of Broward County.  The signs of a bad neighborhood on SR7/US441 were around us and it would have even been obvious to a tourist that it wasn't exactly somewhere to be after dark.

As we descended into "Police Women Of Broward County" areas, we arrived at shop 2.  They were usually predictable about their supplies, but didn't have any.  Shop 3 was in the same center, and walking past the homeless guy sitting out front we found they were empty too.  Even he didn't have my tea, and we figured out that the shops in Broward seem to have changed their suppliers.

Getting back into the car, we realized we were going to go to North Miami Beach, and the crowds on 163rd Street.

That meant going through more of those "Police Women" areas, and more stop and go traffic.  Checking the GPS on the phone showed that the most likely road wasn't 163rd, but 167th street and since it wasn't on my phone, I had to go on faith that we knew where we were going.

Not realizing that 167th became 163rd, we were going on hope that we were going the right way, but it was eventually found.

That particular store had a stack of 8 of the tins, and instead of buying them all up, we came home with the three. 

The trip ended up taking all afternoon.  By the time we got to shop 4 and found it, there was a constant mantra of "We Don't Have To Go All The Way To Freaking Miami For Tea" and "Oh No, You Need Your Tea". 

An interesting way to get to see parts of South Florida that the tourists don't normally get to see, unless they're hunting for tea.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Doesn't this make you proud to be mature - Humor

Velma sent me this one a while back.  I got a chuckle out of some of it, disagree with some but find most of this one to have a grain of truth.  Enjoy

Now doesn't this make you proud to be, well,  MATURE

Senior  citizens are being criticized for every conceivable  deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. We know  we take responsibility for all we have done and do not blame  others.

HOWEVER,  upon  reflection, we would like to point out that it  was NOT the  senior citizens who took:

The melody out of music,

The pride out of appearance,

The courtesy out of driving,

The romance out of love,

The commitment out of marriage,

The responsibility out of parenthood,

The togetherness out of the family,

The learning out of education,

The service out of patriotism,

The Golden Rule from rulers,

The nativity scene out of cities,

The civility out of behavior,

The refinement out of language,

The dedication out of employment,

The prudence out of spending,

The ambition out of achievement.

And  we certainly are NOT  the ones who eliminated patience and tolerance from  personal relationships and interactions with  others!!

And, we do understand the meaning of  patriotism, and remember those who have fought and died for  our country.

Just look at the Seniors with tears in  their eyes and pride in their hearts as they stand at  attention with their hand over  their hearts!


I'm the life of the party...... even  if it lasts until 8 p.m.

I'm very good at opening  childproof caps.... with a hammer.

I'm awake many  hours before my body allows me to get up.

I'm smiling  all the time because I can't hear a thing you're saying. 

I'm sure everything I can't find is in a safe secure  place, somewhere.

I'm wrinkled, saggy, lumpy, and  that's just my left leg.

I'm beginning to realize  that aging is not for wimps.

Now  if I could only remember who sent this to me, I wouldn't  send it back to them!

Go  Green  -  Recycle CONGRESS!!

Remember  the three R's:

Respect  for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility  for all your actions.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Geography of a Woman - Humor

Ok, Ok, Velma, I'll post it!  Sure, I'm able to laugh at myself, after all the whole world does right?

Sure, this Saturday...

No I haven't been holding back because of Male Ego!

Ok, here goes by special request... A Geography lesson.

Geography of a Woman and a Man:

Between 18 and 22, a woman is like Africa. Half discovered half wild, fertile and naturally Beautiful!

Between 23 and 30, a woman is like Europe. Well developed and open to trade, especially for someone of real value.

Between 31 and 35, a woman is like Spain. Very hot, relaxed and convinced of her own beauty.

Between 36 and 40, a woman is like Greece. Gently aging, but, she is still a warm and desirable place to

Between 41 and 50, a woman is like Great Britain. Has a glorious and all conquering past..

Between 51 and 60, a woman is like Israel.
Has been through war, doesn't make the same mistakes twice, and takes care of business.

Between 61 and 70, a woman is like Canada. Self-preserving, but, open to meeting new people.

After 70, she becomes Tibet.  She is wildly beautiful, with a mysterious past and the wisdom of the An adventurous spirit and a thirst for spiritual knowledge.

Between 1 and 80, a man is like Libya, entirely ruled by a couple of nuts.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Electric Razors and the Disposable Society

Admittedly I am an odd character.

This society has moved so firmly away from "Mend and Make Do" as the British were told during the Second World War and the Austerity years thereafter, that here it is a rare person who knows how to fix something.

Getting my start as a toddler repairing my father's 8-track player (remember those?), broken things became my playground.  If it was broken, a repair would be attempted since, after all, it's already broken isn't it?

Years of fixing radios, TVs and oddball household appliances earned me the curiosity that eventually worked its way into Computer Programming and Project Management.  If there was a piece of software, it could be fixed as well as enhanced.

Sitting here in the living room on a Poang Chair that had it's upholstery replaced, listening to SiriusXM radio on an iPhone 3 that had a broken screen and worn out battery that were replaced, next to the dog who was a rescue from a no-kill shelter, there really is no reason to stop fixing things.

It is probably more accurate to say that the dog rescued me.  After all, she was fine, we were the ones who have benefitted from having her.

This morning, going through the ritual of clicking on and rejecting inappropriate job interview requests in strange places far from home, it was found.  A new electric razor.  The market price for this particular model is $35 in the South Florida Area so it was a good price at $25.

The curious thing was that instead of being able to get the blades themselves at a price cheaper than the whole razor, the razor is cheaper.   Coming with a new blade, the economic choice was to pull out the credit card, go deeper in debt by $25 and change, and get a new razor.   Never mind that the NiCd batteries in these razors will last for the life of three blades before getting annoyingly short.  Never mind that you can shock a NiCD battery back to life with "high current at a high voltage".   The blades cost more than the entire item.

Replacement blades are around the same quality as the razor itself, so why buy those when the whole unit costs as much.

Basically it goes against my "mend and make do" mindset and there was a pang of Green Guilt as the Checkout button was clicked on that razor.  Shouldn't be that way, but it is.  One more step further into the Disposable Society. 

There's a nice collection of these razors in the bathroom vanity.  They have become surplus and diseconomic.  At some point, a visit will be paid to the local flea market with the number for the blades in the back of the mind.   Hopefully there will be someone with a cache of those blades at a more reasonable price. 

In the mean time, the radio in the kitchen still works.  That was repaired after someone tossed it out, batteries still in its compartment and the batteries are still good.  It sits next to the Glider Rocker and the matching Ottoman that were recently cleaned to make them acceptable for someone since they were replaced by a perfectly good second Poang chair and matching Ottoman.

Need one?  What do you have to trade?  We're so very wasteful these days...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Green Leafy Background

Random pictures sometimes yield interesting shots. 

Testing out some equipment a while back, it was necessary to exercise it by taking pictures of anything or everything. 

Today, going through the random picture directories  on the laptop, and at this point they need to be poured out onto the external drive.  There are so many that have been used that it is time to move them on. 

Something caught my eye on the picture, and with some judicious cropping, this was the result.  Never mind that there was some flotsam on one of the leaves just below and toward the right that looked nasty, or there's a big gap in the foliage to the right and top.  Nobody sees that.  Shhh... Don't tell!

It's like Mom said, you can eat that piece of fruit, just cut out the bad bits.  That might be a good philosophy of life, cut the bad bits and try to create something interesting out of the rest. 

In case you are curious, the tool used was something called "IrfanView".  Wonderful Swiss Army Knife of a program that will let you do that sort of crop, paste, and save as well as some very basic color adjustments.  A while back a blog posting was done on how to get and install the software.  It is free, and if you would like to try it, check this older article out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Olivia, my Dog's Nemesis

Just as some people are Ford Families, or are from the "Right Religion" or have to have a Pool in the yard, there are some families that insist on a certain breed of dog.

Every breed has a personality.  English Bulldogs are a friendly stubborn doorstop.  Yorkies are yappy little terrors.  Mc Nab Dogs like my Lettie make all other dogs look like they're brain dead in comparison.

My neighbor had a very old Samoyed.  A beautiful older dog with a gentle personality that insisted that you say hello and then she'd go on about her own thing.  That dog, Priscilla died a while back and I wrote about her absence here.

They had said that eventually they would have another.  Their own experience with Priscilla was one that they wanted to have it again.  Recently, about a year and a half after Priscilla had gone, they returned with Olivia.  Where Priscilla was regal and gentle and slow from her advanced years, Olivia is all energy.  She's basically a snow white charger running headlong to greet the day, any person or dog, or tree in her path.   Typical puppy, she'll stop and look at you, bark and then go on what she was doing, which is to say at that point I am greeted by white paws usually jammed in my crotch and my doubling over to avoid further contact.

All that energy has to have an outlet, and my own Lettie, now nearing 11 years old on Thanksgiving, has realized that she will be part of that.   Olivia is harmless, completely.  Lettie on the other hand is terrified.  Put the two together and I become the center post of a furry merry-go-round, spinning to avoid being wrapped up like a Maypole. 

Since the 5:00 hour in the evening is the Dog Walk Hour, everyone is out.  My neighbor usually gets out before we get a chance to get Lettie leashed and around the corner so they're gone and out of sight.   That is until we round our respective corners. 

At that point, Lettie immediately tries to go at right angles to our current travel, and Olivia becomes a white charger towing her owner towards us.  I have given up trying to get Lettie to be social, at 11 years old it won't happen.  Olivia is friendly and exhuberant and all fur, bounce and bark at this age. 

This has become a canine illustration of the Immovable Object and the Irresistible Force.  An amusing interplay of an unsocialized older dog and an over eager pup.  Chaos ensues and it is always entertaining. 

Soon, this rebound hound will end up with another white streak.  They're going to have a younger sister for Olivia.  Lettie doesn't know what's in store for her then, poor thing.  She's in for a thorough sniffing then!

High energy dogs always require a special care and I'm looking forward to see what the addition of the other dog will do to the dynamics.  Here's hoping they entertain each other and they're beautiful additions to the neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Maintenance Lizard and Guard Gecko Protect Us!

Deep in the jungles of South Florida, there exists a technological marvel.  This marvel is a wired telephone system.   We are graced with the ability to pick up a device, press a few buttons, and then speak with a person of our choosing.

This system requires constant upgrades and maintenance.   Many hundreds of miles of copper wire, electronic switches, and cabinets dot the landscape. 

These are all watched over by the little known Maintenance Lizard.   They take over the Day Shift and are replaced by their Night Shift partner, the Guard Gecko.

The Maintenance Lizard has full access to the technological marvel, caressing its workings with loving care, they help to make certain that no harm comes to the system.

At night, the Guard Gecko replaces the Maintenance Lizard, removing unwanted pests like the Inventory Insect and the dreaded Construction Centipede that gets into the works and can cause all sorts of havoc with the fragile infrastructure.  If found, the Guard Gecko will rid these pests with their great jaws and dispatch them with haste.

Here, our Maintenance Lizard takes a rare break and warns me off into the jungle from whence I came.

Work on, oh Maintenance Lizard, make South Florida safe for telecommunications for yet another day.

Monday, August 15, 2011 and User Experience

Wait, this isn't going to be as technical as it sounds, trust me! 

Oh well, now that I have scared most folks off...

I've mentioned before that I am looking for a Permanent Position in Project Management in South Florida.  I also have mentioned how I go through 170 web pages a day in order to apply to likely positions.  Mostly I do that through,, and, but there are others.

I also have a weekly sweep of specific cities, counties, and companies that I do on the weekend that is another 170 pages.


Anything that slows down the way I use the browser effects how efficiently I can do this.

I've noticed a nasty habit creeping in the way many web pages are doing things. 

First some really basic instruction on what happens when you click on a link - VERY basic.

See a link.  Click on a link.  The link will take you to the next web page.

Simple, right?  That is how it is supposed to work.  If it happens that way, success.  Happy user and the "User Experience" is enhanced so that you are more likely to come back.  That "User Experience" is a very important field, many people are working on that sort of thing so that you really do come back.  After all they have ads and that is how you pay the web page - by your clicks.

Next Helpful Hint.  Control Click.  Also known as "Ctrl Click". 

See a link.  Hold Ctrl and Click on that link.  The link will open in a new tab on modern browsers.  The old page stays there so you can refer to it.

Shift and Click work the same way except that it opens that page in a new browser window.

Go ahead and try either, I should still be here waiting for you.

See?  Wasn't that helpful? 

I think so because that is the basis for my opening 170 web pages in 6 browser windows.   My little Core 2 Duo 12 inch convertible tablet is not going to open them all at once.   Too much for Firefox to do, so I broke it all up into roughly 30 tabs per browser window.

For example, I have a set of tabs that open up automatically.  That set goes to and says "give me the first 10 pages that show any 'project manager' position within 25 miles of my current zip, and exclude the following companies".  It will happily do that and more. 

The result is one browser window with those 10 dice searches, one page after another, loading in background for me.   Next I can go through those tabs, one at a time and look at the links. 

Remember that "ctrl-click"?

The next step is Ctrl-Clicking the links so they all happily open up in the next tabs.  All the other web pages stay there, it just creates a new one for the next click.

This works well for any list of links like the ones you find on a search engine like or for example.  Find a recipe site with 10 recipes all of which include your favorite food?  Just Ctrl-Click and they will all open in tabs as you click them.  It's really handy and it's built in to the browsers.

Ok, so now you say what's the problem?

Simply put, there is a nasty habit many web pages are doing that work fine if all you are doing is one thing at a time.  Who has time for that any more? 

Click on a link on some web sites, and they will put up an overlay on top of your web page that obscures what you had, and presents new information.  This is usually called a Light Box.  Here is why that can be a nasty problem. does this when you click on a link.  They're so anxious to get you to log into their site that they put up a light box asking for login information when you click.  Then you have to stop what you were doing and click on the close "X" up at the top right corner of the light box so it will process your link.  Completely in conflict with opening up a bunch of links in tabs and working with these at your own time.

The way around that is to right click on that link and select "Open Link In New Tab".  Yes, it is another step, and it is usually done after the second or third try. is an aggregator of other people's content.  They try to be a search engine of other job boards and achieve enough success that I have been coming back.  Major annoyance to go through that click-and-shock every time you find a link for this one site that is so different from normal.

A Better Solution is to use as an aggregator for job postings.  They work "normally" when you click or ctrl-click on them, they don't get in your way with weird light boxes and unnecessary web clicks.  I have even tricked the website to give me my 50 links in one tab which I do with Dice and Monster.  They're completely configurable that way if you choose to monkey around with searches.

Another website that is guilty of this nonsense is in the way they handle pictures.  Their User Interface at this moment is putting up a lightbox that covers up everything you look at with the picture that you were clicking on.  It also puts you back up at the top of the page you were looking at to begin with when you clicked on that picture.   At least links are being opened the correct way - the way you want them. 

Again, this sort of thing seems kind of small and inconsequential but there are many people working on this sort of detail.  When you change the way someone else's browser works, there has to be a concrete reason for the change and it has to be done so that there is a concrete benefit.

Rarely if ever does that happen.

After clicking on one too many friend's links in Facebook, and one too many links on Simply Hired, I noticed a review box in lime green with white text.  Lime Green?  White Text?  What were they thinking?   At any rate, I gave them my opinion above, in a condensed format.  I may as well give them feedback.  After all, I told them I would under no circumstances recommend them since there were too many sites that do it right.  I'll probably keep using the site because I have some searches that once in a blue moon show what I am looking for that are not shown on the big boards, but I really wouldn't miss them if I could get to the rest.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Microsoft vs Ford - Humor

This particular one is ironic because Ford was using, and may still be using, software developed by Microsoft called "Ford Sync" to be their shiny new way to drive their cars.  Personally, it's software like that that keeps me driving things like my Jeep Wrangler.  Simpler is better in most things - it just can't break if it is not there!

At any rate, this particular discussion, or "pissing match" was sent to me and I am sharing it here today. 


Update:  One of my friends here, Eric, told me this was actually against GM.  Then he found out that I got to post the latest round of an Urban Legend.  It was started as a three line joke and expanded into what you see below.  If you want to read the back story of it, check the web site Snopes.Com for this link.  Thanks, Eric.

Back to your regularly scheduled weekend joke!

For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on.
At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,

'If Ford had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.'

In response to Bill's comments, Ford issued a press release stating:

If Ford had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just love this part):

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash.........Twice a day.

2.. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3... Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single 'This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning light.

I love the next one!!!

7. The airbag system would ask 'Are you sure?' before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the 'Start' button to turn the engine off.

PS - I 'd like to add that when all else fails, you could call 'customer service' in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!!!!

Please share this with your friends who love - but sometimes hate - their computer!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I wonder what Velma is trying to tell me here?

THIS IS CUTE!!!!!!      
Read to End.....

Verily I say unto ye..........

It can buy a house
But not a home.

It can buy a clock
But not time.

It can buy you a position
But not respect.

It can buy you a bed
But not sleep.

It can buy you a book
But not knowledge.

It can buy you medicine
But not health.

It can buy you blood
But not life.

So you see money isn't everything
And it often causes pain and suffering
I tell you this because I am your friend
And as your friend I want to take away your pain and surrering!

So  Send me all your money
And I will suffer for you!
Cash only please!
After all, what are friends for, huh?? especially "Me"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rainbows and Palm Trees Picture

Even after a shower, always bring your camera. 

A few days back we had our wet season 5PM showers come through, and after taking the dog out for her walk, it was noticed that the sun was just on the right angle.

No, it wasn't the Double Rainbow that is the latest internet meme, just this one, overarching the palms in Wilton Manors.

A Rainbow in Wilton Manors, some wags may say is Redundant, but it is pretty all the same.

After a couple years of taking pictures, some of which are showing up here on the blog, others for personal amusement, there's quite a collection.  It raises the question, has anyone ever come up with a truly acceptable way to categorize these things.

I have a directory stuffed with the originals in full high definition beauty, and the ones I shrink down to show here as well as the .SVG files I use to create these watermarked pictures I post.   I don't care for the watermarks either but I got nervous when I was looking at some artist's website that were affiliated with the Island City Art Walk.  They were all watermarked, so I started doing it for my own pictures.

After all, if my sister wants one for the background of her PC that's fine.

It's still a pretty picture, though.  So start your day with a rainbow.  Unicorns are optional.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just a Normal Hectic Morning

Yesterday was busy, why should today be different?

Today, getting up before 6am, there was a flurry of activity.

The Linens were put into the washer, and true to form it took longer than expected.  It's a Bosch Washer, so while it gets the clothes clean, it has a problem figuring out how much soap actually needs to be in the water.   Add too little and you notice things aren't quite right. Add the soap manufacturer's recommended amount and the idiot washing machine decides it needs another cycle saying "Extra Rinse Foam" and delays another 30 minutes.

The morning mile and a quarter dog walk was done, we walked into the kitchen and begun the morning meal.  At the same time there was a long list of food and drink being prepared.

Coffee, Tea for Iced Tea, two bowls of Oatmeal all received boiling water and were steeping and soaking.

There was a batch of Decaf being roasted at the same time.

An English Muffin had just come out of the microwave, and into the toaster.

The Chicken Patty was dusted with Curry Powder and then warmed in the microwave.

Yes, all of this was breakfast.

When things settled after the coffee was roasted and cooling for later grinding, it was time to further complicate matters.  Banana Bread had to be made.  The bananas were not all black, but picking one up and you realized that they weren't exactly holding up well. 

Ever have a limp banana?

(No, not that kind, a real Cavendish Banana and overripe at that so get your mind out of the gutter!)

Walking to the front room, the laptop was started, the recipe found, and the banana bread was prepared as above.  While all of this happened, the laptop was going to windows update and getting all the latest updates. 

Everything except Silverlight.  This laptop HATES Silverlight.  Silverlight is something even Microsoft has decided should die because they are no longer actively pushing it to people.  It is a "Flash Replacement" that does the same things Flash does but does not actually do Flash animations.  Yet another layer of software that you really don't need.   It uninstalled from all my windows 7 computers since it slows the world ... to ... a ... crawl.

The bread was placed in the oven and timer set for 30 minutes, which gave a nice breather to begin to eat some of that feast.  While it was only 600 calories, it is a lot of volume. 

The bread began to warm the house with Home and Hearth types of smells, and it rose beautifully to a proper density.

Pulling the bread out of the oven, the results were quite fine.  Thin crust of tasty creamy goodness.

It was time to let it cool, go into the front room and begin the morning Job Search.  170 Web Pages of work goodness.,, and all done in rapid succession.

Here is where it got ... weird.

The search was going fine, but there were signs of strangeness coming from the laptop.  The poor little thing needs attention.  There is something not quite right with the software and nobody will be able to fix it but me.  There's a driver that crashes when I shut the thing down so it never gets powered off cleanly.  When a disc check is scheduled on the boot drive, it never happens because there was not a clean shut down, so it simply restarts.

Add to it that those two pictures above were not available because for some reason the poor little HP decided it would take a vacation and not read the USB Drive.   Not good, there are pictures on there that are needed for the projects that are outstanding!

Fine, shut down the laptop, then it decided that it wasn't shut down, the driver was still crashing, so it would restart.   This Time However it now is going to do that check.  Here we are an hour and a half later and it is still scanning its hard drive - no errors so far.

Time to get out the blog posting though, so walking over to the Video Editing Laptop, it was time to start doing some work. 

No problem, it is marginally faster than the little HP, and there are some Powerpoint animations that need to be made for New Divine Mercy so they can be married to the videos on the video page on their website.

Yes, that is me, Videographer as well as a Photographer, baker and all around Project Manager good guy.

Need help? I'll give you a good rate.

Need proof that a guy can Multitask?  Join me in the kitchen, we'll make coffee and another Banana Bread.  There is this pile of bananas that aren't getting any younger.  

So shall we make it plain? 

Nuts?  You'd better believe it!

That bread by the way... it was underdone inside.  That is what you get when you think you know your oven!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

LinkedIn, Facebook and the Creepy Factor

Today I was amused by a bit of LinkedIn email. 

Going through the morning online work, I spotted a piece of email from LinkedIn.  Most of us are familiar with Facebook by now.  Consider LinkedIn a Facebook for the Professional Set.  If you have a career instead of a job, you need to be on there.  The account that I use on there could be more effectively used, I am somewhat low on contacts.   Since I'm so busy maintaining the presence of Wilton Manors Main Street on Facebook and their Blog and watching over that of New Divine Mercy Church on Facebook, their Blog, as well as my own blog here, I tend to take a passive outlook.   If someone spots me, friends me, I accept, smile at the "good thoughts" and move on with a new relationship.

I don't usually search for people unless there is a reason.  Once I found a whole wing of the family in Nebraska and another in Washington State, as well as being told of a branch that moved to Saskatchewan and set down roots.

This particular email was asking me if I knew some people.  Specifically it was the Mayor of Wilton Manors and one of the Commissioners.  Yep!  I know them both, but since I don't tend to "bother" people without a good reason I chuckled and deleted the email. 

We're all busy, right?  Why bother people...

That got me thinking about the ability to use social media for online stalking.  If the software knew that I should know the Mayor and the Commissioner and was right, what else does this online database know about us.

Privacy is done for.  Actually that isn't completely true, you could always cut your credit cards and pay cash for everything.  With the laws in place for health and other records in the United States, if that information got out about you, you could make a tidy sum suing the company that had an "accidental" breach of your personal information, many people have.

Online privacy is non-existent.  As soon as someone posts their personal information on a website, and it is found by a search engine, you're public.  May as well put it on a post-it or on one of those stickers that say "Hello, My Name Is" because it is that open.   Email is a Post Card medium.  It is sent out mostly unencrypted out to the world and anyone who wants to learn about you can find it with the right technology. 

Sure there are secured Email sites for such people who work in the Health Care and Insurance Industries for example, but they are not used by "normal folk" like you and me.

So what can you do about it?   Practically nothing these days.  If you use an email that is free and advertisement based, then your information is already out there including your private thoughts.  They aren't private, no matter what.  This blog is public, it is scanned by all the search engines, and I do employ some Search Engine Optimization techniques to make sure that the articles I post aren't just read today.   It also is hosted on Blogger which is a Google site.  Google finds my posts and scans them and indexes them.  That benefits me because it brings people in a wider audience than just my friends and family.

Now what happens to those databases?  You tell me...

The indexes and databases of websites and emails and all the other detritus of our lives that are online are a very good representation of our personal thoughts.  Go onto Facebook and like something and you establish a relationship.  That relationship can be inconsequential when you "Like" Food.  It could be something we consider positive when we Like our own nation or an allied nation.  It could be negative when we like a hate group - find them on your own, I won't help you there. 

The bottom line is that it builds a very good psychological description of an individual.  This sort of thing has not gone unnoticed, and there are many people out there working in Social Networking and the analysis of the psychology of Social Networking.  After all, you can sell this information or protect your country against people who are out to commit crimes simply by looking over their shoulders at what they say about themselves.

The best thing you can do is step back next time you see that email or the friendly "Like" button and consider what it says about you.  After all, it is easier than trying to do it the Old School way.  Who among us has actually written a physical paper letter to a company telling them how well they did lately?  I know I haven't!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wilton Manors Rally for Fairness and Equality and Alan West

Last night at rush hour, the Coalition for Fairness and Equality had a rally to speak out against US Representative Alan West.

The rally was well attended, and there were, as speaker Dean Trantalis (at the microphone) said, people from both the Democratic and Republican Parties there to speak out against the comments that Alan West made in the past.

This was at Wilton Manors City Hall, and featured War Veterans, people from both sides of the aisle, and elected officials.

It's good to see that people are beginning to finally shake off the Fox News mindset and start to speak up.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Crime in Wilton Manors - When Drunks Dumpster Dive

For years, in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors, there was a thrift store.  Poverello was a great place to get odds and ends at a deep discount even if the place was dark, dirty and dingy.  They have since moved away to new digs on Dixie Highway, about a half mile from the old store.

The old store would collect bags of donations that would mysteriously show up after hours.  Sometimes great piles of furniture of questionable value would show up in front of the place that would leave us scratching our heads and saying that it's just going into the dumpster.

That dumpster also collected donations that were in no way sellable.  There have been people coming into the back parking lot for years and dumping their cast offs because they didn't want to pay for the trouble of getting a bulk trash hauler to pick up their worn-out garbage furniture that is missing a leg, cracked supports, or just stained.  Some of the things that were out front as a donation were downright insulting, the pieces that ended up out back were usually even worse.

After Poverello moved, the "donations" to the dumpster slowed but continued.  The dumpster was quickly removed so the dumpers would merely leave things in the spot that the dumpster was at.  For a while the gate to the back lot was closed and locked which stopped the growing pile, but parking is too scarce a commodity here so recently the 20 or so free spots were opened up with the gate on "Bar Nights".

It was on one of those bar nights that it arrived.   A giant styrofoam drink cosy that someone thought they could leave back there.   It was the insulation and support for a hot tub.  Junk came and left that corner, but the giant 5 foot plus drink cozy stayed there. 

Until yesterday.

Around dinner time, they came and spotted it.  In their alcohol fueled minds they thought it might be something useful so they began rolling it out of the back lot and down the street.   Getting about 250 feet away, they stopped at a vacant lot and rested.

After all, when you roll a giant black styrofoam donut down the road in a tropical climate on a summer night, you get tired.

While they rested they drew attention.  We called the Wilton Manors Police dispatch to let them know what was going on while all the neighbors came out and watched one after another. 

One neighbor took his puppy out for a walk at that time. 
We took the picture here.
Another was watching outside her window and then called us when the police appeared.

No, we're fine, but we did call.  We have a very cohesive block on this end of the street.  We tend to watch out for each other, trade recipes and baked goods across the fence and the street, watch over each other's dogs that sometimes get lost.

More neighbors came out.  The giant drink cozy was doing its job, giving the guys a place to lean.

They got on the phone and apparently called for reinforcements.  They arrived just before the police officer did, white panel van in store.

When the police came to the door we filled him in and he went out to investigate.  It seems the story was that these two drunken guys acting like frat boys saw this giant donut and decided to roll it home.  When it got too heavy, they stopped, sipped more drinks from their "Fat Tuesday" party cups, took some video footage, and called for the van. 

They were trying to stuff this monster into the van when the second policeman arrived.  More of an amusement than anything else, they all stood around laughing and shaking their heads as they realized the thing was just too big to stuff into a van.

As the second officer left, they weighed their options.   Problem solved as they rolled the giant down the street like a tire toward their later destination.

For the most part Wilton Manors is a predictably safe place to live.  When Crime visits, it comes in from Fort Lauderdale and rolls down the block.  Sometimes with a sippy cup and a big donut.  Other times, it's different opportunistic things.  You just have to watch yourself so you don't get run over by a run away hot tub.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Five Simple Rules For Happiness

Velma sent me these five simple rules for a happy life the other day. 

Maybe she's trying to tell me something... Short and sweet, there's the list:

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Have a blessed day, unless you already have other plans.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Velma Approves of this Picture

Every morning, and some afternoons I was fortunate enough to ride home from work with this smiling face.

Warm and engaging, Velma started my days off with a smile.  Once we got going, I would want to stay on the train with her and our friends that were made over the years of riding from my house on the R7 Chestnut Hill West train to my office at Temple University.

It has been 6 years since I moved away, but Velma has stuck with me and kept writing emails and sending me most of the jokes that I post here. 

I told her a while back that I was using her picture to link up with the jokes and she wanted an upgrade.  The old picture was one that she had sent right after the Philadelphia Eagles had won a particularly important game.  Mondays, after the games in Football Season, she'd be on the train dressed sometimes in Head to Toe Eagles Green and White, smiling and excited talking animatedly about the games.  During holiday seasons sometimes she'd entertain us with a Santa Hat or Red White And Blue pin and tell stories of how she was going to visit with family.

Rarely, she would be missing from that morning perch.  It wasn't quite the same.  I'd go back to doing my reading or listening to an Audio Book, the energy was changed.  Everyone was friendly but it seemed that Velma brought a special spark to that train car.  She'd sit with me in the front seat facing the door, we'd greet our friends as they'd get on the train at their stops and talk about things big and small, but always with a smile.

I can't ever think of her in a down moment, even when someone near was not having a good time.  Water off of a duck's back, the troubles would melt away if Velma was there.

That is why, after all these years that I share her and her humor with you.  A good friend of mine, hopefully she brings some warmth to your day.

So by her request, I've given her a new presence here.  She's dressed up for us, and I'll use this picture for now on or until she wants a change. 

Thanks Velma, I miss you and your warmth and your smile!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Job Recruiters Amuse Me

Having my resume on Dice.Com,, and I get to speak with recruiters.

It is like saying you will get wet if you stand outdoors.  Underwater.  Repeatedly.

Yesterday I had two things happen that had me amused.  

I have a Lot of Project Management experience.  I'm doing some consulting for New Divine Mercy church where I have migrated their website off of LAMP and Joomla to Google Sites.  I also act as their videographer, and handle their technology needs.  I also have been the treasurer for a political campaign, and a webmaster for two campaigns.  I have written advertising copy and have been a speech writer - all of which in the last year.

I am also the social media director for Wilton Manors Main Street, maintaining their facebook group and their blog, as well as producing the monthly newsletter.  I produce the newsletter and the embedded newsletter site with content from Krishan Manners and it was my idea to get content from other organizations within the area so that there would be one central place to find the information as well as one newsletter going out instead of five or six.  It is well received and is growing each month.  If you would like to get our next newsletter - click on this link. We don't sell the email addresses to anyone else.

Yesterday I got an email from someone at Robert Half International about a position.  I had read it, shrugged since I thought I was a little "short of the qualifications" and moved on.  A couple hours later I got a phone call from the same "associate" who sent me the email.  After her interviewing me and going past the elevator pitch, I told her my opinion.  I also told her how they typically do their interviews.  After being in the market as long as I have been , I'm a bit more wary of agreeing to go in to talk to recruiters.   They have a habit of wanting to see you, a Meet and Greet, without anything concrete behind it.   Robert Half is guilty of this as are some of the other firms in this field.  I have a hard and fast rule if I have done the Meet and Greet before, I won't do it again unless you are ready to send me out on an interview.   I told her this and thanked her for her interest but since "gasoline is $4 a gallon and this would take two hours out of my day to get there and back, I was not inclined to come in for a face to face but would consider it 'if there was something concrete' involved".

You see if you are interviewing your time is free, theirs is not.

Nothing against this particular recruiter, she was knowledgeable and understanding, she was polite, and she was willing to listen.  I just didn't want to play by the script.

The other wrinkle I found over the time of interviewing is that most recruiters are fairly useless.  There are some exceptions and I write THEM, directly.  These are the ones that after going the first meet and greet contact me about specific opportunities.   I keep their emails on a spreadsheet for easy access.  There simply are too many folks in and out of that career for me to bother with the fly by nights.

Why I consider most fairly useless is that there is a pattern.

First the company needing the new hire will post a direct job specification either on their website or on one of the job search boards.  In Technology, Dice.Com is probably my favorite - I can submit a resume in under 5 minutes, a little more if I have to tweak my resume or my cover letter. The State of Florida has a page that is utterly useless, and the Federal Government's is bad as well but better than Florida's.

After the company posts the specification, recruiters will spot this and contact the company and find out if they are open to recruiters.  That may be as simple as Recruiter A sees Company Posting B at 8AM, claims it as their own and posts it to Recruiting Company internal website and then onto Dice/Monster/Careerbuilder.  That happens usually by 8:01AM.  It can be that fast.

If it is a Project Management or Business Analysis position I know I will have a busy day because I will notice multiple hits on my resume on those boards.  I keep a spreadsheet that tells me what the raw counts are and how many hits there were since yesterday. 

Usually after the local boards send me a feeler, a couple days later the Out Of State recruiters start calling.   They're much later because they're "fishing" for a hit.  The problem with the Out Of State recruiters is that you will never have any kind of a relationship with these peoples.  It is like a door to door contractor showing up and asking if you need your driveway sealed.  That's a call I get every other week, the recruiters are daily.

If there is a phone call on my cell I immediately look to see the caller ID.  I have a definite priority of who I answer.  If you have called me, I add you to the SIM list.  If you haven't then it shows as a raw phone number.  

First Priority are people who I have spoken with before - Friends, Family,  Business Contacts and former recruiters who I have dealt with.

Second Priority are those who have a local area code.  954, 754, 561, 305, and 786 area codes.  I'll consider my own time constraints as it is usually easier for me to go on and let them talk to my phone and I can screen it later.

Lowest priority are out of state first time callers.   If they are from places like NYC Metro, specifically North Jersey I will always let them go to the answering machine.

The lowest priority calls are invariably someone calling from India as a recruiter on a scratchy Voice Over IP phone line trying to pretend that they are here.  If I make the mistake and actually speak with one, I can't hear the accent over the static and tell them that they need to email me, they have my email address on the resume, and that they can expect an answer "shortly".

Then I forget they ever called.

After all, there are people here in the United States who need the jobs more than shipping them overseas.  I know one, intimately. 

So if you need a Project Manager, Business Analyst, COBOL Programmer, Web Developer, Social Media Director, Software Development Manager, or one of about 30 other hats I wear or wore, let me know.  We can work something out.

Did I tell you about the telecommuting organization that I built using Skype and functioned as it's CTO with help from my business partner?

Yeah, I've done it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cross Training Home Repair

There are certain things that you do in the course of the day in the kitchen that have some applications in unexpected ways.

I bake, rather a lot.  I'm taking a breather the last few months since all that baking in the holidays was adding weight that hasn't quite all gone away.   It is now, I've lost 8 pounds in two months.  Minor adjustments and limiting myself to a normal diet instead of my usual training diet was what did the trick.

All that baking of cakes and cupcakes, sweets and tarts resulted in my getting passable at cake decoration.  Some of my cakes ended up looking like a wreck, others were surprisingly professional looking.  I would be better at it if I tried a Fondant icing or something similarly easy to decorate, but I don't.  I bake for a small audience and that audience likes a specific fluffy icing.

The problem is like any baker at home will tell you, it never comes out quite perfect.  Every cake I bake, whether from mix or scratch will be a little uneven.  Frustrating to a baker trying to do something nice for a friend, and usually that friend either will not notice it or notice it and take it as the mark of a fine home made treat.

I usually look for those slightly uneven cakes and think "Mark Of Quality".

When I get those slightly taller in the middle cakes, I could slice them even or just live with it by cheating.  Pack the divots in the cake with a little extra icing, and let it chill, then ice and try for a nice even look.

The end result is being able to spackle walls like a pro.  I've managed to get apartment walls so even that they were better than when I moved in. 

The trick is to spackle the walls, then come back about an hour or two later with a wet finger or a damp cloth and "sand" it even.  It can even dry to a shiny texture if all is right.

Results like that are what you expect on walls.  Lately the nemesis of the bathtub caulk has raised it's ugly head.

When Caulking a tub, the tube instructs that the best results are where there is no dirt left over, no water drops, and it is best to remove the old caulk.

Great.  But it's a tub.  Its purpose is to hold water.  That means you're in for a challenge of timing. 

Shower in the morning, then late at night after dinner, do your caulking.  Oh and don't forget that stuff you did yesterday has dried so you have to even that all out first.

Pretending it is a cake, Squirt out a reasonable amount of the caulk along the joint but not too much.  How do you know how much if you don't do this every day?  Simple, yesterday's caulk hasn't dried.

The last time I caulked the tub was last week.  There are spots that were just skinned over and when poked, they poured white latex out over my hand and into the tub.  Heavy handed?  Perhaps, but there's a gap behind that tub - there's some serious hole going on.

I did look in to that gap and it goes on forever.  I thought I saw a sparkle back there, and I believe that it's because I have a small black hole in the wall.  How do I know it's a black hole?  Simple, I can't see it and it's sucking all the caulk into it.

The Singularity of Caulk.  The Black Hole of Tub-Caulkutta.

After trimming the stuff, there's this crack that formed as the surface tension was relieved.  The first places caulk will dry is where it is thinnest.  No matter how good you are, there will be small differences in the thickness... trim and clean it all back with a knife or blade and you end up with a crack.

Go back at it with another bead and repeat as necessary.

A 1 hour home improvement DIY turns into a mulitple week project. 

That's what I get for thinking I can ice a cake!

Looking at the walls, there's this one spot that needs spackle.  Much easier.  Ahhhhh!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why I Will Not Buy Another Bosch Product

Water Heaters are a conceptually simple device. 

Bring water into an area, add heat, and bring it out once it has gotten "hot enough".

We have been building these things for centuries.   First it was called a kettle or cauldron and sat upon a fire in a hearth.  Then someone got the bright idea to containerize the lot and you have the familiar tank that sits in many homes as a result.  They don't necessarily need electricity, but they do need a source of something to produce heat. 

When I moved into this house it had an ancient washing machine, creaky dryer, and a frightening water heater.

The Water Heater used no electricity at all.  I am in a hurricane zone and this would have allowed hot water and comfortable showers assuming that there were actually water being pumped into the house - which I understand is not a given.   It also was rusty and looked as if it would die at "any second".

What went first was the Washing Machine.  This threw a coupling and could be fixed at a cost greater than a new washer.   All the mechanicals were broken as a result of the coupling breaking and left the carpet in the laundry covered by some rather soapy water.

We went out and bought a Bosch front loading washing machine.  The idea was that we'd get the most water and energy efficient machine we could find and save on water and electricity despite the greater cost. 

There was a problem.  Bosch in their wisdom went with a computer controlled washer.  Their programming was typically German Precise.  Perhaps a bit too precise as if you put too much soap into the machine, it will happily rinse out the extra soap for you.  It will do so by running an intermediate rinse - over and again until it determines that the soap is all washed out.  IT also requires this "HE Detergent" which has the benefit of being in big bright colored containers and costs more. 

Once the clothes have been washed, then spun at 1200 RPM and sounding like a distant Jet Engine threatening to fly them off to Boschland or where every flying washing machines go, it leaves them glued to the inside of the drum to be pealed off and put into the dryer.

The dryer seems to work well if you like to come back to a giant ball of clothes that is an illustration of how not to dry clothes.  Dry on the outside you reach the damp or wet center and put them back in.

This is particularly evident on Thursday Mornings.  I should say Afternoons as last week I pulled the bed apart and started the laundry at 6AM.  XXSanitary mode meant it was run through the hottest water I could provide, then heated electrically to something nearer steam, then washed thoroughly.  Over and Over until it is spun down to give me a wet ball of blanket, sheets, and pillowcase.

Needless to say this wretched machine needed a number of extra spin cycles and didn't finish until 12:30 PM.

6 and one half hours of laundry for "one load" of linens.

Then onto the dryer which knowing that it has a penchant for turning things into a progression chart of wet, I put half the linens into then pressed the button.

The Dryer has a helpful time display of 1 hour and 8 minutes allowing me to count down the time until I have to unroll the ball and put them back in for another cycle.

The bed was finally made at 2:30 in the afternoon.  8 and a half hours for one load - two sheets, a pillow case, a light blanket all washed after being "Extra Rinse Foam"ed and spun until a wet sodden blob.

Once those two pieces were replaced we then bought a Bosch AquaStar Water Heater.  Tankless thing, I have a laptop brief case that is smaller than the heater.  Model number ag 250 sx lp

My contempt for this Water Heater knows no bounds.  AVOID this Water Heater!

It saves Propane by turning itself off with a helpful "E0" error code.   We really are not sure what that means, nor is the internet since the going wisdom is to turn it off then back on to reset the code.

I'm hoping for when the Washer launches to BoschLand it takes that bloody tankless water heater with it.  Right out of the wall and off to what ever dump it ends up in.

You see, while it uses on the order of a quarter of the Propane that the old beast of a water tank used, it doesn't stay on when you need it.  Run the dish washer (thankfully a KitchenAid and very dependable and NOT a Bosch Product) and the water heater model ag 250 sx lp turns itself off.  There's that E0 code.

Go take a shower.  It's a crap shoot whether you will complete it without taking a cold shower as it will turn itself off at least twice a week.   So two in every seven showers are a rude surprise.

Today, it was more cantankerous than usual.   Today this beast of a water heater turned off five times in a rushed 10 minute shower.  It took two people to perform the shower.  When the water ran cold, reset the water heater, then jump back in washing what ever body part is needed and quickly because it would run cold again.

E0 anyone?

So my bottom line recommendation is to avoid Bosch Products.  When these go, I will NOT be replacing them with another Bosch Product.  German Precision aside, these things are not "Suitable for Purpose" as we learned.  The Water Heater came with a 12 year warranty which is a good thing since it hasn't worked right since day one.

Kevin is now saying that they have some sort of fix that he can perform with a voltage meter himself.   This should be entertaining, and at least I Know CPR.