Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not Working Outside Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Parrot So-Called Singing to the Coffee Roaster

This being a cool morning, the windows are opened.  Cool here is anything with a temperature in the forecast below 70 and we're going to have highs below 80 all week.

There is a cool draft going through the house.  Not yet strong enough to call it a breeze, but that made it perfect for coffee roasting.

I put all that together when I thought "Hey! I'd like a cup of decaf".  Ok, so it's my third mug today and I'm running low.  Perfect weather to roast up some beans.  That meant getting the popcorn popper down and filling the hopper with some decaf beans while the last of the old coffee brewed. 

Plug in the popcorn popper and it growled to life.  One small problem... my parrot Oscar immediately decided to "sing" along with the machine.  More like growl, shout, shriek and chatter.

 I have had the old reprobate since 1986.  He's not exactly a talker, although he does a passable imitation of my laughing, blowing kisses, the Bronx Cheer and other sound effects. 

He also has the habit of getting quite loud when there are other sounds in the house.

I long ago gave up being able to crank the stereo up loud and feel the bass.  I should be thankful I suppose since he's helping to save my hearing.  So this morning, windows open, breezes trying to start up their morning march from the ocean, when I fired up the machine I didn't want to share his "singing with the roaster" show with the entire neighborhood.

Yes, parrots can be loud.

Blood curdling, deafeningly, annoying to neighbors ... Loud.

Luckily mine only gets loud when it is loud in here.  Since trying to turn the TV up over a shrieking parrot does not work, I just turn it down until I'm out of the parrot zone.

That doesn't work with a popcorn popper.  So for six minutes while waiting for the timer, I stood next to the parrot cage making my own sound effects, calling him an "Old Buzzard", blowing kisses, and generally sounding like a right sodding git while managing to keep him down to a dull chatter.

The coffee was perfect as ever, but the face time with the bird was appreciated by both of us.  After all, they do get bored.  Parrots came to be when their social skills brought them close enough to live with us.  Not quite like Wolf becoming Dog, but there are some incredibly strong bonds with a bird indeed.

After all a Dog can get your slippers, but a Parrot may be able to tell you where they are and then tell you to get it yourself.

Isn't that what you want in a pet?  Something that screams at the bad TV you watch, sings to the popcorn popper, and then orders you to get your own shoes?

Monday, November 28, 2011

30 Percent Chance of Rain, 100 Percent Chance 30 Percent Will Get Wet

Living in the Tropics Adjacent South Florida means weather can come from any direction at any time.

Tropics adjacent because we're North of the Tropic of Cancer which lies 20 miles North of Cuba.

Yes, pedantic but literally true.  I am also 15 miles away from the freeze line either North or West according to the USDA Zone Map, if I am reading the thing right.

I have always checked the weather before going outside for any length of time, 21,000 miles of inline skating taught me how to read weather maps exceedingly well. 

Exceedingly well for more predictable areas.  Not here.

The first thing I do when I wake up is pad over to the iPhone, start up my weather map and try to read it.  No problem there, there are little dots of green all over the place.  They indicate that there are little bitty rain clouds here and there, and a lot of Ground Clutter.   No big deal, keep your eye over your shoulder when walking West and watch.

78 and a 30 percent rain chance. 

I learned that here, a 30 Percent Rain Chance means that it is a 100 Percent Chance that 30 Percent of us will get wet.  Just like in the topic.  Since I have moved here, on more than one occasion, I have seen it rain in the front yard and not the back, with sunshine and light ocean breezes.

Usually when that happens it will switch just to keep you guessing and the front yard dries out as the swimming pool gets filled.  Grab your camera, you most likely will see a Rainbow.  Sometimes with the UV Stripe showing to the bottom of the Rainbow.  I've seen that happen too.

Keeps you guessing.

Luckily it's South Florida.  It rains, you dry off, no problem.  Takes about 20 minutes normally.

Some of those "storms" are nothing more than someone standing on the roof with a spray bottle and giggling with a beer in their hands.  In other words, inconsequential. 

That was what I expected today.  I got up before dawn, gathered myself and Mrs Dog up and we walked out the front door for our morning mile and a quarter.  It was bone dry until I got to City Hall.  The ghost there was standing on the roof with that spray bottle and managed to get one drop on me. 

Oh yes, I see you up there, taunting me and my dog.  Spritz! Spritz! Spritz! away you silly poltergeist!

Literally one drop.

The end of the walk was in sight, I was thinking of a big mug of coffee and my morning yogurt and oatmeal when I heard it.  I had been under awnings and overhangs for the last couple hundred feet, and the sound became quite loud.

It started raining.  Immediately.  Someone on the roof had put down the spray bottle and turned on the fire hose.   All at once. 

Lettie stopped her walk when I did and looked up at me with those brown eyes.
I said "wait" as I put the headphones in my pocket with the radio, and thought I'd just stand there for a little bit. 

Nobody tends to be out at the pre-7AM Hour other than dog walkers so I thought I'd be there alone with my dog contemplating the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies on the asphalt when she made the decision that she wanted to go home and lounge on the cool tiles in the house.

I did what I usually do in this case.  Take off the shirt and soldier on home.  It was only another couple hundred feet to the house.  Wadding the dark blue T Shirt up into a tight ball, I stepped out into the torrent.  Nobody was out in the weather at this time but us two and I started walking home enjoying the cool rain on my warm skin.

Ladies, I wouldn't try that.  Wilton Manors is a very Progressive city but I suspect they might get a little cross if the WMPD came by and saw "the girls" out playing in the rain.  Luckily, I'm in much better than average shape for a man my age and wouldn't "offend".

At least I don't think so...

Luckily, as fast as it started, it stopped.   I literally went from torrent to dry in the span of two homes.   The rain hadn't really stopped.  I turned around and the current of water had been drawn up from where I was and was moving slowly up the street to the commercial district about as fast as you could walk.  If I had a mind to, I'd be able to follow it.

Weird weather in this town.  2 minute showers aren't even long enough to get wet enough to bring the soap if you had a mind to!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Older We Get - Humor

This is a continuation of the theme from yesterday.  If that wasn't bad enough, you can always consider...

The older we get....


Recently, when I went to McDonald's I saw on the menu that you could have an order of 6, 9 or 12 Chicken McNuggets.  I asked for a half dozen nuggets.
'We don't have half dozen nuggets,' said the teenager at the counter.
'You don't?' I replied.
'We only have six, nine, or twelve,' was the reply.
'So I can't order a half dozen nuggets, but I can order six?'
'That's right.'

So I shook my head and ordered six McNuggets

        (Unbelievable but sadly true...)


I was checking out at the local Walmart with just a few items and the lady behind me put her things on the belt close to mine. I picked up one of those 'dividers' that they keep by the cash register and placed it between our things so they wouldn't get mixed.

After the girl had scanned all of my items, she picked up the 'divider', looking it all over for the bar code so she could scan it.
Not finding the bar code, she said to me, 'Do you know how much this is?'
I said to her 'I've changed my mind; I don't think I'll buy that today.'
She said 'OK,' and I paid her for the things and left.
She had no clue as to what had just happened.


A woman at work was seen putting a credit card into her floppy drive and pulling it out very quickly.

When I inquired as to what she was doing, she said she was shopping on the Internet and they kept asking for a credit card number, so she was using the ATM 'thingy.'

        (keep shuddering!!)


I recently saw a distraught young lady weeping beside her car.

'Do you need some help?' I asked.

She replied, 'I knew I should have replaced the battery to this remote door unlocker. Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would have a battery to fit this?'

'Hmmm, I don't know. Do you have an alarm, too?' I asked.

'No, just this remote thingy,' she answered, handing it and the car keys to me.  As I took the key and manually unlocked the door, I replied, 'Why don't you drive over there and check about the batteries. It's a long walk....'

        PLEASE just lay down before you hurt yourself !!!


Several years ago, we had an Intern who was none too swift. One day she was typing and turned to a secretary and said, 'I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?'
'Just use paper from the photocopier', the secretary told her.
With that, the intern took her last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five 'blank' copies.

        Brunette, by the way!!


A mother calls 911 very worried asking the dispatcher if she needs to take her kid to the emergency room, the kid had eaten ants.

The dispatcher tells her to give the kid some Benadryl and he should be fine.
The mother says, 'I just gave him some ant killer......'
Dispatcher: 'Rush him in to emergency!'

Life is tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid!!!!

Someone had to remind me, so I'm reminding you too. Don't is all true...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

20 Perks of Reaching 50 - Humor

Thanks to Kevin, I have this list of 20 Perks of Reaching 50.   If you're younger than that, you won't get it, but if you are... you just may!

Perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 and heading towards 70!

01.  Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

02.  In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

03.  No one expects you to run--anywhere.

04.  People call at 9 PM and ask, "did I wake you?"

05.  People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

06.  There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

07.  Things you buy now won't wear out.

08.  You can eat supper at 4 PM.

09.  You can live without sex but not your glasses.

10.  You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

11.  You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge. 
12.  You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

13.  You sing along with elevator music.

14.  Your eyes won't get much worse.

15.  Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

16.  Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

17.  Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

18.  Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

19.  You can't remember who sent you this list.

20.  And you notice these are all in Big Print for your convenience.

Bonus: Never, under any circumstances,take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night

Friday, November 25, 2011

Creating a Holiday Skating Rink In Your Own Hallway

The Thanksgiving Holiday is now, thankfully, over.

Two weeks of cleaning, preparing food, baking bread, and general fretting about the house has culminated in a rather excellent meal. 

Roast Bottom Round Beef with Port Wine Gravy, Yams, Mashed Potato, Carrots, Freshly Baked Rolls, and finally Apple Pie.

No Wonder why people put on weight over the holidays.  All that food coupled with the lower activity that comes with an earlier sunset would give you a good reason for it all.

While doing the final preparations for the meal yesterday, I was standing in the hallway to the bedroom side of the house.  I had turned on the light to check to make sure that the air conditioning was turned off since all the windows were open.  It has been a beautiful week here for the weather has been calm and cool and will remain that way next week.  No need to run Air Conditioning in these weather conditions.

However it showed that the louvered doors that enclosed the closets needed attention.  All that air being drawn up into the air handling unit would leave dust on those louvers. 

Here's a bright idea.  While obsessing over everything else on your plate, why not clean those louvers.  After all, the guest coming over for all that food had restricted vision and wouldn't see it anyway.  On the other hand YOU would know that the doors needed work.

Padding your way into the laundry where all good house cleaning chemicals go to die, there resided in a small "clutter catcher" box, a can of spray furniture polish.

You will need that light bulb over your head, genius, because that hallway is dark.

Yes, I started spraying the polish onto a door and proceeded to work the polish in. All six of them now had a somewhat more shiny look to them and the house had a slight orange scent to it.   Oranges in Florida?  Who knew!

As I turn around to head out to the recycle bin I look down at my faithful sidekick, Lettie.  She's standing there looking up at me as if I am the font of all knowledge.  I'm not but the love of a good dog is something every person should experience at least once in their lives.

Lettie was also doing something else.  Sliding.  If you have ever watched a video of a baby Giraffe, they typically are standing there wobbly on long legs that are spread widely apart.  Ungainly would be a good description.  My 11 year old dog was doing her best impression of that.  None of the legs were steady.  She would stand still as those long legs were sliding out from under her slowly.  Eventually she tired of that and decided it was time to go, but not before her legs gave out entirely.   Looking like a character from an old cartoon, she hit the floor as if it were ice and she were wearing Teflon shoes. 

I had a problem here.  Not only had I waxed six doors, but I waxed the floor under the doors with overspray, and the dog was enjoying the benefits of having non-stick feet. 

I helped her up and she trotted out into the rest of the house leaving little dog footprints of furniture polish along the way. 

Thinking of our guest, an 86 year old lady, we had a problem that would be solved by mopping.  We can't have her fall and break something, and the dog wasn't the only one who slid out while walking through the house.  I managed to topple into the wall, being on long legs myself.  

Next step was the mop.

The short hallway was given a thorough scrubbing and was pronounced clean.

I really should say "Clean-Ish" since the tiles were so old that they absorbed the furniture polish.  Squeaky clean though as now they no longer slid out from under dog and man, and should be grippy enough for little-old-lady. 

Oh and Orange Fresh too!

Luckily through the evening, our guest never needed to use the facilities behind my orange-polished door.  My rubber soled shoes on the other hand now squeak anywhere I go in the house.  Even after walking the dog, twice, to wear the stuff off the shoes, they squeak.

So the moral of the story is that no matter how dried out the woodwork is in the house, spray the cloth and polish the wood, not spray the wood and rub it in with the cloth.

After all, your dog will appreciate it and you won't be quite so noisy as you walk down the street.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

The Rolls are Rising,

The Laundry is Done,

The Veg are being Prepared,

And the insanity begins.

May your Thanksgiving be a sane one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting an Early Start for Thanksgiving

Those of us who are hosting Thanksgiving dinners have a lot of work to do.

First you clean the house from top to bottom, about a week before.
Then you keep it clean all week.
You look at the meal, then you triage what you can.

If you're like me, it can be a logistical nightmare.
Baking a cake?  You're going to be making frosting aren't you?  It's from scratch?  Ok, that mixer will have to be made clean between the icing and the actual cake mix.

Not baking from scratch does help, but it leaves you feeling a bit less complete.  As a person of course.

Yes, I'm being a wee bit melodramatic but that was the thought process we were going through all week.

The house got cleaned since I was given a floor scrubber.  The old one got abandoned in Philadelphia for the move.  I suspect it was thrown out which was a shame, because I missed it since day one.  If you have tile floors, skip the mop, dump the steamer, get a proper scrubber and get to work.  Mine laid down more than three quarts/liters of cleaning solution in my living room on Sunday afternoon.  Three hours later it looked amazingly clean and the house no longer smells of "Old Cop".

You see the house was owned by a person who was a Policeman.  When the house got warm and humid (this is Florida after all, so that is 11 months out of the year) it would have This Smell that we never quite got rid of.  Zinc Oxide and other undertones that you can't quite put your finger on.

I'm sure when we move on, the next people will wonder why it smells of Coffee and Baked Goods, and the people who knew us will fill them in.  I'm still waiting on some of the stories about this place.

Scents of baking aside, If you have this week off and you've gotten "This Far", you will probably be starting to make the food.  It is a cool day here, the windows are open and the breezes have started to flow from the Ocean, two miles away, through the house and out the other side.  Someone on my block is baking a cake or a pie, my guess is Apple Pie.

It is mid morning, and it's making me hungry.  Then again, I'm a big guy and we're almost always hungry.

Last night we went for the last shopping trip.  Hit a couple places and came home with all that we needed to make a Cherry Pie and the Vegetables for the meal tomorrow.  Even a Yam.  Yams with my home made butter, hot out of the oven... Ok Yeah, I'm hungry.

We were in the second store of the evening looking for the Pie Crust (yes, a short cut but we're hosting) and I got a phone call from Lisa across the street asking if she could give us an Apple Pie.   Oh my yes!  You just saved my Wednesday!

So it will be a Bakery Made Apple Pie, Fresh Rolls that I'll make tomorrow, Roast Beef with Port Wine Gravy, and all the usual vegetables.  A real table groaner of a meal.

Thanks to Lisa and Billy, I don't have to cook today unless I want to.  Tomorrow is another story.  At 6AM before the dog walk I will load the washer with the linens, load the bread machine for the Dough Cycle, and take Mrs Dog for her Morning Constitutional.  The dough will rise and I'll make a dozen rolls out of them.  All this before tomorrow lunch. 

Or else, I'll get attitude.  We have a 7 pound Bottom Round that has to go in the oven.

The secret recipe is Pat's Pizza Dough recipe and can be found here.  Use High Gluten Flour!  It's extremely basic a dough and makes an incredible loaf, Boule, pizza crust, rolls or anything else you want to make out of bread dough.

So here's hoping you don't have to cut corners and everything comes out of the oven well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Am Lizard, King Of The Tennis Ball Mountain

After walking to the kitchen for an unscheduled snack, I found my picture of the day. I really didn't intend for today to be a picture but this was as good as any.

I was listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons on the headphones after walking the trash out to the bin and found myself looking in the refrigerator.  After having a small handful of Moosemunch... no really, only 10 pieces.  Very small handful.  Honest!  Yes, they named it after me!  Who else?  (Smirk)...

I looked out my kitchen window and saw this lizard looking back at me.  The usual Cuban Browns and the proper pink Geckos that live in my yard are very shy and will run away, so I grabbed my camera not expecting the shot.  This being a Curly Tail, it stayed put.  They're noticeably more bold than the others.  It stayed there being King of the Hill while I got a picture through the window, opened the window, then got another shot. 

Walking over to the back door I laughed at myself silently thinking I may be able to convince it to stay put.

Nope, not that bold, that second shot wasn't going to happen, Mr DeMille was not going to get his close up.  Sure, I could use a digital SLR but they don't fit in my cargo pants... however if you have one around make sure you don't need it since I'll put it to use.

Begging for cameras aside, it dove into the bucket as soon as I was framed by the back door. 

In for a Penny, In for a Pound, I say!

Opening the door I walked over to the little bucket full of tennis balls and took them out one by one.  The balls are there so the dogs can play with them, although my own Lettie is too old to care now.  Taking them out one by one, there were around 20 left.  When I got to the last three, my little lizard was getting unhappy with me and decided that it was time to hide.

Scrabbling around the bottom of the bucket the little guy ran around circles until it literally flung itself out onto the bar.  

Sorry, no beer served at 10 in the morning!

It must have been disappointed in my lack of bartending skills as it did pushups on the bar while glaring at me then diving off into the Hibiscus on the deck.

Never a dull moment when you have to take the trash out!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pavlov's Dog Eats Spam

Writing is one of those personal things.  Some can do it in a crowded auditorium with people watching over their shoulder and commenting about their use of language.  I should know, I used to do that to Mike when he was working for the local paper in the Wilton Manors City Hall Commission Chamber.

Bad Rambling Moose.  Bad.

Others may need utter silence.  The kind of silence that you wish you could get in a library, but since society has degraded into this interconnected thing that has chimes and beeps and other electronic noises going off at random moments because of Oooh I Just Got A Text And Let Me Drop All To Answer It ...

Where was I?

You get the picture. 

In my case, I'm sitting here enjoying the relative silence of this house.  The Dog Snores. The Parrot is making a mess on the tiles that I cleaned yesterday by eating and sending technicolored fruit flavored bits while eating.  Two clocks tick loudly.  The ceiling fan whispers above.  The Classical Music is softly playing.

Over all of that my ears are ringing but that is a normal thing with me.

Write a paragraph and BONG! someone had written to my Professional Email account.

A quick look at the watch and I see that it is 9AM and it's time for the first of many BONG! Email Spams that I am actually set to receive BONG! through the day.

We used to consider web surfing an amazing thing, and in reality it is when you try to wrap your head around it.  The amazing breadth of the internet means that you are lost in a maze that you may be able to explore, try to cover, but never will completely see.  There are walls that block you but the sheer vastness will stop you from seeing it all.  I watched a British Comedy once where a Superhero came to Earth and lived in a small flat in a small town in the Western Suburbs of London.  It was a comic element where the hero went and surfed the internet.   All of it.   The keyboard had melted with smoke and the monitor was beginning to glow red but he had done it all.

Fantasy, there's just no way you can see it all.

So we have begun to opt into web sites and get emails from them with an extract of what is interesting in the day.  I run one of those email sites as part of my duties with Wilton Manors Main Street so I do know that there are some folks that do care about the quality of the information delivered.

Ours is a monthly letter, when we can get all the organizations together and have the thing assembled. 

Others are much more BONG! regular.  There are quite a few that I subscribe to to keep up with the technical details of a career in Project Management.  Literally I can set my watch to the BONG!s that I get in the course of a day.  During the time it took me to write this blather, I have gotten three BONG!s.

That BONG! won't smoke my laptop, but it will give me something to occupy myself with later. 

It's something like the experiment where Pavlov trained his dog to drool when it heard a certain bell.  In my case, I run for the laptop when I hear the BONG! just like that dog.

Maybe not Run, but it does give me a moment to pause.  After all, you never know what's BONG! happening out there!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Sad Tale - Humor

This is one of those posts that had a bunch of pictures, but since we all know what most of these gadgets look like I left the pictures out.  On the other hand, I'm basically lazy when it comes to a weekend post and have no idea when Blogger and Picasa will stop me from adding pictures to the blog so I'll leave them out.

Thanks Diane!

It all began with an iPhone...

March was when our son celebrated his 17th birthday, and we got him an iPhone. He just loved it. Who wouldn't?

I celebrated my birthday in July, and my wife made me very happy when she bought me an iPad.

Our daughter's birthday was in August so we got her an iPod Touch.

My wife celebrated her birthday in September so I got her an iRon.

It was around then that the fight started...

What my wife failed to recognize is that the iRon can be integrated into the home network with the iWash, iCook and iClean.

This inevitably activates the iNag reminder service.

I should be out of the hospital next week!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nag Nag Nag - Humor

An attorney arrived home late, after a very tough day trying to get a stay of execution. His last minute plea for clemency to the governor had failed and he was feeling worn out and depressed.

As soon as he walked through the door at home, his wife started on him about, 'What time of night to be getting home is this? Where have you been? Dinner is cold and I'm not reheating it'. And on and on and on.

Too shattered to play his usual role in this familiar ritual, he poured himself a shot of whiskey and headed off for a long hot soak in the bathtub, pursued by the predictable sarcastic remarks as he dragged himself up the stairs.

While he was in the bath, the phone rang. The wife answered and was told that her husband's client, James Wright, had been granted a stay of execution after all. Wright would not be hanged tonight.

Finally realizing what a terrible day he must have had, she decided to go upstairs and give him the good news.

As she opened the bathroom door, she was greeted by the sight of her husband, bent over naked, drying his legs and feet.

'They're not hanging Wright tonight,' she said.

He whirled around and screamed, 'FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOMAN, DON'T YOU EVER STOP?!'

When you stop laughing, send this to a friend!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays

Surprisingly don't bother me as much as they used to.

Yesterday before the dawn I took Mrs Dog out for her morning mile and a half.  I stepped out of the house, walked to the street and waited as she sniffed the air.   I did the same thing.  The wind was wrong.

The area here has a predictable morning breeze that starts up between 8 and 9 in the morning.  It comes from the ocean, blows down the street here since it is an East-West street, and continues onward. 

It also picks up dust and salt spray along the way and tries to dump it here.  Thankfully most of it is gone by the time it is this far inland, but there's enough that collects on my windows and my Jeep.

I walk the dog before the dawn and there are rarely any breezes at all at that time of the morning. 

Yesterday there was a breeze coming in from the Northwest. 

Muttering to myself that "Weather's approaching" I look at the skies and see Orion's belt and one of the dippers as I walk toward Wilton Drive for the Morning Constitutional.

When I got home, it said that the next day, today, would be raining.

I was right and so were they.  This morning is grey and the morning winds are bringing with it rains from The Bahamas.  The whispering pines of my youth are traded for the bottle brush tree and the beards of Spanish Moss that I have been trying to get to take with some success.  They'll get their water today.

Bands of it.

The Palms are doing their best to look like Palms instead of a toilet brush gone awry in all these breezes.

It's all good.  The rains when they hit are biblical but not frigid.  An umbrella is usually pointless in this kind of weather, it's easier just to pull off the T Shirt and walk home. 

Ladies, don't try that, it will do more than raise an eyebrow.
Men if you can't see your toes when you're standing, don't try that either.

Just one of the entertaining things of living in the Tropics-adjacent Fort Lauderdale Area.  Tourists on the beach getting sandblasted and enjoying the weather are replaced by a shopping trip on this Not-a-beach-day Friday.

So!  Who has a good idea for lunch?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mining Your Pictures For Memories

Going through my pictures this morning I realized I was taking quite a few lately.  I also noticed that there were certain ones that I thought could be better.

Last week my daily brain dump was about redoing the windows and lubing them up.  Mrs Dog walked outside and refused to leave.  Knowing she was not normally allowed to be off leash and out front, she watched me for permission and beckoned me to come outside.

This morning I saw myself stop on that picture again.  I realized that it wasn't quite right the way it was framed.   So, I took some scissors to it.  

Ahh much better.

In fact so much better that it has been printed on 8.5 by 11 photo stock and will be framed.

That is the kind of thing that "back in the day" took a lot of effort to do.  Negatives and Darkroom equipment meant that getting the photo printed just right was a Dark Art.  There were cadres of people who knew what to do with odd lighting, ascetic acid, tongs and photo paper that was stored in a dark box in a room that always smelled of vinegar. 

You could get your perfect picture of the wedding minus that bird that flew through at the wrong moment, but "it'll cost ya!".

Now with a low end laptop, and some free software, all you really need is a good picture file and it can be yours.   Don't forget the Good Paper and a Good Frame.

OK it wasn't a low end laptop when it was bought but that's neither here nor there.

Hanging in my bedroom is a newspaper photographer's shot of me feeding Mrs Dog a morsel of food outside of a street fair a block from my old home in Philadelphia.  It was an honorable mention in a contest, and I liked it so much I bought a copy from the photographer.  Great shot.  Took talent on the photographer, being in the right place at the right time, and the fiddly art of Film Photography.

I don't know about you, but I haven't taken a Film Photograph since the 1990s and maybe before.

Many people can say the same thing, and that is why we lost great technology companies that concentrated in one business line like Kodak, Polaroid and others over the last decade.  They didn't diversify properly and are now a shadow or struggling to hang on.

With a cast off laptop, and my bargain basement 8 Mega Pixel Camera, I can do what a full fledged darkroom did back then.  You can too, with a little effort and the right (free) software if you have a mind to.

Irfan View.
And finally Inkscape.

Then you'll find yourself mining your own pictures for your own art. 

I am just lucky enough to have caught the dog in the right spot.  She may not be art to you, but she's hanging on the wall in the most important art gallery I know.

My East Bedroom Wall.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Very Own Attack Gecko

Yes, we have an attack Gecko.

Some have attack Dogs.
Some have attack Cats.
I have seen attack Ducks and Swans.
My own Parrot will lunge at you if he doesn't like you.  I know that for a fact as half the time when I walk past the cage he's lunging at me for not giving him that piece of orange out of the morning oatmeal.

They remember, they really do.

Last night we had quite a lot of lizards on and in the house.   It started when a little adolescent Cuban Brown Lizard was seen crawling down from the ceiling to hide behind the mirror on the wall.   They get in by hiding in the crack in the front door where they can jump out and get a tasty meal in a Moth that is drawn to the light.

Moths.  Yum.  Tasty Critters!

So getting the patented Gecko Extraction Tool, we relocated the little thing out to the front garden where he'll live his days out hunting for critters.


After putting away the High Tech Gecko Extraction Tool (TM), I went into the kitchen after being called.

Hey there's a big one out here!
A what?
Oh, a big Gecko on the window!  Bring your camera, this one is practically Prehistoric!

Hyperbole aside, yeah it was a big one.  About the length of your finger, and as you see quite pink.

I had left the kitchen light on when I was making dinner and the bugs are drawn to the light and warmth of the Lanai.  Since there was a lot of rain recently, we've had a bloom of bugs.  Many Mosquitoes being eaten by Dozens of Dragonflies, being hunted by gillions of Geckos.

Gillions is a word, right?

Seeing that I'm entertained way more than I should be, I got out of the big green chair, walked to the camera, pressed on and focused.  These Geckos are quite shy and I'm surprised that it put up with the fuss we were making.  But I did get the picture and realize that I really do need to clean those windows.

Great.  Dirty Windows and I'm sharing it with the world.   I guess it is true, I can laugh at myself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Buns Are No Longer In The Oven

I bake.  A lot.  I am not a professional baker.  I suspect if I were, the whole process would become a bit tiresome and I'd do something else.

I'm a Hobby Baker.  I also approach the process of Baking from the aspect of my training in Programming and Computing.   That is to say, If I Do This, Then The Results Are That.

If, Then, Else.   Typical Programming Structure.

I realized lately I was not happy with my results.  My Else was flawed.  My breads were better than what you'd find shrink wrapped in a supermarket, but not really enough to make it worth the effort of baking and then cleaning the flour out of my kitchen floor grout. 

Coming from Philadelphia, Bread can easily become an Obsession.  The water there is excellent for baking, which is something you will hear about every town that draws from the Delaware Watershed, including the big monster 90 miles Northeast of Philly that is famous for their Bagels - for good reason.

You can get a hoagie or a cheese steak anywhere in the country these days, but unless they're served on a proper Amoroso Roll, it's going to taste like mush.

Being disappointed with my Only Slightly Better Than Mass Market results, I slacked.  I used some "lesser" flour like the All Purpose or Bread Flour with the store brand sticker on it.  Not all that good.  The water here in Florida is great for swimming in and fishing but for baking bread it is horrendous.  Filter the water at the very least so it no longer smells like it had been drained from the Fort Lauderdale High School swimming pool and isn't tan from the tap.

Oh, yes, really.  The water has a tan tint to it and smells of chlorine.  Especially this month when Fort Lauderdale is flushing their lines with Chlorinated water. 

So I stepped away and was getting some rather excellent Ciabatta Rolls from GFS Marketplace and let the bread machine go idle.

The exception was my Pizzas.  I was making the dough in the bread machine, rolling it out and allowing it to rise for sometimes as long as 2 hours and not quite getting what I expected, but it was always better than the best local restaurants.  Still worth my while enough to make me look at what I was doing wrong.

This weekend we wanted a Pizza.  I buy Mozzarella Cheese when it is on sale, add Feta and Fresh Parmesan to it and layer that over top of a Pizza Sauce that is store bought but not bad.   It is an easy meal, better for you than at a Pizza restaurant because I use better ingredients, and takes only an hour or so to fully prepare.

The problem was that the crust wasn't "quite right".   I was thinking about that and how I am using exactly the same recipe I used in Philly while walking through the flour aisle at GFS when I spotted something that woke me up. 

High Gluten Bread Flour.

If you're a bread baker, you know each flour has its own personality and will give its own texture and taste to the dough.  High Gluten Bread Flour specifically has extra protein and the texture will be more stretchy.  That stretchiness allows the dough to rise higher and has a stronger taste than the All Purpose flour you have around and generally don't give much thought to. 

All of that was my lightbulb moment.   It was also my "Duh!" moment.  I realized I had slacked and cut corners and it was time for me to go back to basics.

I grabbed a 25 pound bag of flour and came home and made the best pizza I have had since I moved to Florida.  The bottom of the crust was crispy which I had not had either. 

We were onto something!

Since I am watching my calorie intake and getting excellent results, I had been using mass market hamburger buns for small sandwiches.  120 calories a piece and having practically no taste, it is what you'd expect when going to a fast food restaurant - something to keep the food away from your hands in a sandwich.

I got to thinking that Pat's Pizza Dough Recipe that I have been using for more than 10 years now was a perfect loaf of bread to try this out.  I got out the calculator and scientifically figured that if I use 78 Grams of Dough I could make a 120 calorie roll and probably get something better.  No more "Bachelor Chow" burger buns, these had Flavor!

Or so I would learn later.  You see, the little "1/4 pound burger" buns were the control for the experiment.  I was shooting for that but a little better.

I got a LOT better.   The results are in that picture.  Those rolls were as tall as your longest finger. 

(stop looking at your finger, you don't know where it has been)

Just get the gram scale out, measure 2.1 ounces of dough exactly. Each ounce is 35 grams, two ounces is 70, but the extra 8 grams is a better size and used the dough evenly.  I got an even dozen dough balls and walked away from the kitchen for two hours.

The whole while, the house was being infused with the perfume of rising dough and my little Yeasty Beasties doing their best to make my later dinner perfect.   In fact, it's easy to say that that particular combination of Filtered Water, High Gluten Bread Flour, and 2 hour rising time was the key to this lab experiment. 

The trick is cracking the recipe for your current conditions.  Things change.  You Move.  You forget things, and sometimes it's time to go back to basics.  Big Fluffy Buns that were dusted with a tablespoon of "Italian Seasoning" from McCormick in the Dough Stage turned out to be just the right touch for the evening burger that I found in the freezer.

There is only one problem.   I have leftover mass market burger buns that taste like nothing.   No biggie, they'll get eaten, but each time they do, I'll realize that to bake well sometimes you just have to go back to the kitchen and play with your flours.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas 2011 - Birth of a New Tradition

I completely get the whole Occupy mindset. 

There are millions of people unemployed and underemployed while the economy sputters and stalls out.  Many of those folks work at small businesses or are consultants that are struggling for survival and hoping they can get through January and February until the after Holiday slow down ends.

They're out there protesting while Fox Noise is misinforming the world about them and showing pictures of protesters standing around with cups of "Corporate Coffee" or bags from that monstrously large big box chain store that sucked the life out of the downtown area that had shop after shop close down.

Here's a thought - instead of trucking out to the local Mall and buying something from a large faceless corporation based in a big city like New York, Chicago or worse - Bentonville, Arkansas (CRINGE!), why not find a small local business and patronize them.  Put the money back into the community and you may just save your neighbor from having to go under - and thereby forestalling their house becoming foreclosed upon and another homeless family moving back to Mom and Dads... Or Worse.

I'll quiet down, the post below was sent to me and I think it says it much better than I would.  For now, I'm going to "occupy my chair" and study some technology for a client I'm consulting for.  Just count me in the 99%.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.  Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people.  Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut.  How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership?  It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed?  Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat screen?  Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates.  And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.  Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom?  Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal.  Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves.  They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.  And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house?  When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community.  If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city.  Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups -- throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city -- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Exercising for the Over 50 Crowd - Humor

I'm a pretty active guy.  I've skated on Inline Skates (Rollerblades) for 21,000 miles and have acted as a trainer in a gym more than once. 

I'm also helpful, so if you would like a little training advice, here's a trick a friend told me many years ago.  It is especially helpful for those of us who are over 50!

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato bags.

Then try 50-lb potato bags and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level.)

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Notes From The Edge Of Life

Recently I was sent this after I was telling someone about some observations about how absurd things are these days.  I got this in return.  I think that person "gets" me.

Thanks, Scott!


Dear Noah,
We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving till 5.

Dear Icebergs,
Sorry to hear about the global warming. Karma's a bitch.
The Titanic

Dear America ,
You produced Miley Cyrus. Bieber is your punishment.

Dear Yahoo,
I've never heard anyone say, "I don't know, let's Yahoo! it..." Just saying...

Dear 2010,
So, I hear the best rapper is white and the president is black? WTF happened?!

Dear girls who have been dumped,
There are plenty of fish in the sea... Just kidding! They're all dead.

Dear Skin-Colored Band Aids,
Please make one for every skin color.
Black people

Dear Scissors,
I feel your one wants to run with me either.
Sarah Palin

Dear Customers,
Yes, we ARE making fun of you in Vietnamese.
Nail Salon Ladies

Dear Ugly People,
You're welcome.

Dear World,
Please stop freaking out about 2012. Our calendars end there because some Spanish d-bags invaded our country and we got a little busy, OK?
The Mayans

Dear White People,
Don't you just hate immigrants?
Native Americans

Dear iPhone,
Please stop spell checking all of my rude words into nice words. You piece of shut.
Every iPhone User

Dear Trash,
At least you get picked up...
The Girls of Jersey Shore

Dear Man,
It's cute, but can you pick up peanuts with it?

Friday, November 11, 2011

We Have Windows To Lube - Picture

You aren't here today, or this week.  Let me tell you this weather we've had since the rains stopped has been exactly why people move to Florida.

The heat of the summer left a while back, we had some bizarre rains that flooded the lower grounds and luckily left me high and dry.  After that stopped it got gloriously sunny and cool - well cool for us.

Summer can be three months of 95F temperatures where we learn how to walk from palm tree to palm tree, from awning to overhang, and stand on corners under the shade of the telephone pole.  In short it's high summer from May to October and it can be quite hot.

I like it warm, in fact I'm lucky that way, I'll admit it, but at 1PM when the sun is two degrees from due up and it's 95 in the shade just like the last two months, we all get to thinking about hiding in the Air Conditioning and having a cold one of choice.

The benefit is that when it is 95 here, it can be 100 in the big cities of the Northeast, or 110 in the Midwest.  We're cooler as a result.  Just don't ask about Orlando.  No sea breezes and 105?  I'll stay in Wilton Manors.

I did realize that it was time to crack open the windows finally.   When I did they were a bit stiff and had to be lubed.  We've got Jalousie windows that are designed to let the wind blow through the house but they're also made with 13 panes of glass, each held up with aluminium clips and hinges. 

I counted them.

All of those hinges need to be lubed from time to time to make sure they don't bind up.   Grabbing the White Lithium Grease and a handful of cotton swabs, I set to work putting a dab of lube under each hinge on each side of each window, plus the back side of the closer crank, and moving on. 

After doing the first window I noticed a nervous McNab Dog watching me work.  Can't have been the music, I had Hawaiian Music flowing on the Florida sea breezes instead of something much more aggressive.  I think she just wanted out.

Going inside to get that first Cold One, lemonade this time, I walked back out to the living room and there she was.  Mrs Dog decided that I was going back out to finish the job and parked herself on the green grass of the lawn and wasn't going anywhere. 

Why leave?  It was cool and breezy and sunny and I may need help.

There are quite a few windows on this Old Florida Home.  Sometimes I think architecture of this vintage was designed to be as close to that fabled Glass House as possible, with large overhangs to limit the sun coming in and many Jalousies.  They're a little bit of work, but it's nice to have some help.

Oh, and Mahalo for reading!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Pitfalls of Shopping Online In Engrish

I hit the deal a day sites and the deal news sites pretty heavily.   I've gotten a lot of things from places that I might not have heard about and got some amazing deals.   The problem comes when you stumble across a website that doesn't do things quite right.

Recently there as a deal on a memory stick.  Ok, so it was beyond ugly since it looked like Santa Claus.  Actually let me take that one step further.  The stick looked like Santa Claus with a USB port shoved up his back side.

But the reason why I tried to get this stick was that it was 1/3 the going price.  $10 for a 32GB stick when the best price I have seen was $30 and you had to jump through Mail In Rebates.

No I won't do a mail in rebate.  They're a gamble by the company that you will forget and not send in the paperwork, dance three times clockwise around your coffee table, pet the dog backwards, and use the potted plants to clean your toilet.  Really, they can be that obtuse to follow.

Just kidding about the coffee table dance, after all how could they prove it?

After getting a deal on some white pocket T Shirts (3 for 10) that everyone here in Wilton Manors will be seeing me wear until they're past their prime, I started on the Santa Drive.  That didn't go well.  You see I have my credit card number memorized including that special code that you are supposed to enter in that lets you buy online in confidence.  Makes life easier, I can sit down think "CC Number" and out from my flying fingers goes a long string of digits. 

After keying in the relevant info, it rejected me.   You see the first problem was that the drive that I was secretly thinking of by now as Satan Claus was on a site that was new.  Also it was in China.  Direct orders from a Chinese website.  Oh joy, that makes me dance around the coffee table in happiness and security.  It turns out that the website was written to about the quality that one would expect from Chinese Goods. 


Secondly it was fulfilling payment via Paypal.   That would be a plus in this case except Paypal barfed on my credit card.  Thinking I did it wrong (yeah right!) I did something special.  I got up out of the bouncy Poang Chair and got the physical credit card.  Typed that number in again.

What is that definition I'm thinking of?  Oh right "The definition of insanity is repeating an action and expecting a different result".  Or some such.

So what do I do?  I do the childhood OCD Special Data Entry System on the Keyboard.  I typed it in one. number. at. a. time. slowly. looking. at. every. single. key... twice. 

Strike three I'm out.

Oh wait, Kevin has a Paypal account right?  So I shoot Kevin all that information and he says wow that's butt ugly having a USB port stuck there, but the price is amazing so I'll try.

Thanks Kevin, I got you involved in this battle too.  Battle because he actually got the order in.   When he sent me the confirmation email in a forward I saw his name and three Chinese Characters and thought "this just might not go well".

You see, the problem with Paypal is that contrary to legitimate credit card companies, this hybrid mess immediately takes the money out of your account and pays them so you have no real recourse in case of problems.  It means you end up with some less honorable companies than you would had you been dealing with American Express or Visa or some other real credit card company since they are guaranteeing it.

Have you gotten the idea that I am wary of Paypal?  Good, you're listening!

This went on about a week and we got an email from the company saying that they had cancelled the sale.   We're not completely sure that we were going to get the charges reversed, but Kevin filed a complaint with Paypal.

So if you're brave, and feel like buying from a foreign website, just remember this tale and think thankfully it was "only" 10 dollars we are out.   Still no butt ugly Chinese Satan Claus memory stick but one heck of a wild example of the EngRish language.

From: support
Date: Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 3:10 AM
Subject: your order

Hello dear friend:

I am the manager form web site.

First i delegate all of our staff thanks for your business.

our website built not a long time ,so many thing are in development stage.

if something not manage good ,hope you can remind and understanding.

This time i send you email ,just want told you our staff had made a mistake when he edit the production information .the “35"and"36"items you purchase , not 32GB,they are 8GB. the one 32G,is 40$,but now is out off stock .

so he made a stupid mistake .write this items is 32G.

Now your order is processing ,if you still want keep your order ,we will add a gift your order ,

if you want cancel it ,we will cancel it for you. and refund your money.

Sincerely sorry for this mistake ,I know you are a generous friend.

in order to our future business ,I hope this time you can forgive ours mistake.

At last ,i hope our website with your help can he become more and more good .

so can give you more good service .

any goods you want purchase you can suggest to us .we will try our best help you find them ,and provide for you.

Waiting your reply in patience.

Best regards

All of staff

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This is Why I Won't be Using Crisco Soybean Oil

This weekend we made Pancakes.

Wonderful Pancakes that will be had over the next few days and then we'll find another way to cook them.

You see, we have a griddle that fits two pancakes, one on each side, that is coated with a non stick surface.   Before you cook, season that surface with an oil so they really do remain non stick. 

However, what happened was that picture that you see here.   The Pancakes managed to soak up the oil, as expected, then left a ring pattern of leftover oil.

The problem isn't the leftover oil.  The problem is that after running these griddles through the dishwasher multiple times, the sludge leftover from the cooking process seemingly never leaves.

We tried the same trick with the other side that is formed for Waffles, and had the same problem.  In fact there were trace amounts of this sludge after more than 10 times through the dishwasher.  We finally gave up and flipped it over to make Pancakes instead of Waffles after saying this has to be "normal" for this oil.

I don't really understand what is going on here since the dishwasher is painfully hot.  I may have to boil them to try to melt off this greasy ooze, but it isn't coming off with conventional methods of soap and water or dishwasher and Cascade.  Maybe I am missing something really basic with the way I'm doing my cleaning but I seriously doubt it.  That dishwasher is new-ish and otherwise is quite effective.

This has led me to believe that the safest path is to use the rest of the Crisco Soybean Oil in the oil lamps we have around the house.  If it is coating your pans and won't leave, imagine what it is doing to your inside.

That creepy factor is why I won't be using the oil any longer.

You have a picture above that is Cause and Effect.   Despite the fact that the label says the only ingredient is Soybean Oil, it appears that there's something else going on.  I may not be a scientist, but I will say that I'll vote with my feet next time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Repurposed iPhone for Nervous Energy

I was given an old iPhone 3gs a while back. 

Interesting machine, and since I don't have a phone plan that works with it, I got creative.

You see, I really have no desire to leave my old phone plan for one with AT&T.  Their reputation of being business focused leaves me with the impression that if I have a problem I may as well just bang my head against the wall until it resembles a large bowl of tapioca pudding with maraschino cherries mixed in. 

Not being a fan of Zombies, I've stuck with T-Mobile. 

The neat thing about this is that being a smartphone, and having a very wide support base, there are a lot of programs you can put on the thing.  Ok, Apps.  Sorry, sheesh!, but a set of instructions that interacts with an operating system is a program.   Apps "this"!

I've installed a number of prog-er-apps on the phone that let me listen to music from Sirius, radio stations around the world, and a couple useful websites.   It has a number of games, since, after all, people use them to pop bubbles when sitting on the toilet.

The game, not ... well you get the picture.

I also found a prog-er-app to let me use it for free phone calls using Magic Jack's software and I use it for Skype to make internet only phone calls.  It really is useful for places other than the bathroom while popping bubbles and listening to music.

The way I use it is to tell it to only use wifi.  It is a good use for someone with an older iPhone because there aren't many prog-er-apps that won't run on it.  In fact, I have yet to have found an app (shudder) that will not run on the little thing.

Why toss something when you can find a use for it?

I use the phone to watch my professional account on Yahoo Mail.  It will check the service periodically and that is useful.  It is also why I feel like jumping out of my skin.

Oh sure, instead of complaining about something I deliberately did I could turn it off, but where is the fun in that?  After all, being told that you have mail on a device is useful if you are laying in bed at 3 am listening to the Florida East Coast Freight Train rolling up the tracks about a half mile away. 

"CHIME!" Another email.  Great, now it's 3 AM and Office OCD kicks in and I'm wondering who spammed that account.  Instead of getting out of bed, waking the dog and the parrot, stubbing my toe on the door jamb on the way to the living room, I'll just lay here until ... I wake up three hours later and check to find out there were four job openings at an organization that I am targeting.

Sure, it's useful but now that there is an interview that I'm waiting to hear back on I'm thinking that the most appropriate sound for that phone to make when retrieving a message from Yahoo is a water drop.

As in Chinese Water Torture.

Now I understand it.  It builds up a compulsion in my fragile little mind to get up, check the mail and Ahh That's Better, Isn't It?

"CHIME!"  nope, yet another Indian Recruiter saying he's from New Jersey but he's really on a Voice Over IP Phone Line in Hyderabad India thinking he can Help Me Veddy Much with a Job and Isn't Jacksonville near you for you to commute to veddy much.

That feed back loop making sense now?  Anyone know how to wire that phone in to give an electric shock when it's time to check the mail?  How about setting the chime to trip off the door bell - at least that way the dog would enjoy it too!

My house is full of some rather slightly out of date electronics that I have kept around because I have found a very good use for them.  All kidding aside, it's a great use for the phone.  I could load it with music and play it through an old FM Modulator I have here so I can listen to that whatever stream from where ever all over the property and do.  Right now, there's a programme on BBC Radio 4 I want to catch but...


Another email awaits!  Ooh this one is interesting!  Apparently there's a product I can buy to make me more enticing to the ladies... I'll get right on that!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ikea Hack - Build it Faster with Electric Screwdriver and a Cut Allen Wrench

This weekend was fix it weekend.  I had gotten a new battery for the electric screwdriver and set about tightening screws on everything that even looked distantly loose.

After putting up the new clock in the Kitchen, badly I might add but don't look too closely, I did an inventory of all of my collected bits.  The screwdriver is a useful tool, but can be a bit specialized.  After all tiny screws will get stripped with an electric screwdriver, and you just may not have enough torque in the smaller ones to "oomph" that screw into place.

I had realized that I did something, years ago, that was novel and needed to be shared.

We have all put together that flat-packed furniture at one point or another, or used it and wondered why people bother using those silly little hex-keys to assemble them.  They can be literally painful to build, blister inducing, and frustrating when you realize you spent the entire afternoon tightening down yesterday's work because you didn't put a drop of wood glue into the threads to make it stay put.

Usually there are some sort of fitting that the screws will go into, wood on metal can pull apart easily if you have a particle board piece of furniture.  Typically the better pieces will have a threaded nut with a back on it to spread the compression energy on a wider area to hold things better, then the allen screw will tighten down into that.

They're time consuming, and I found that there was a simple "hack".   Take the allen wrench and cut it in half.  I cut mine right at the elbow of the 90 degree joint, and now I have a bit to put into the electric screwdriver.  Once I mount the allen wrench bit into the hole, I can use the electric screwdriver to tighten everything up quickly.

I've never heard of anyone doing this but I've done it many times to build furniture or tighten up the bolts on the Poang Chairs that I'm so fond of.   As we say around here it "Works like a Champ!".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The GED Test

My friend Velma seems to know what kind of humor that I like.  Seeing that I used to work for the School District in Philadelphia, this one is more to the point.

GED Test


The following questions were set in last year's GED examination 
These are genuine answers ............and they WILL breed.

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large  pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election

Q. What are steroids
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs
(Shoot yourself now , there is little hope)

Q.. What happens to your body as you age
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery
(So true)

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death

Q. What is artificial insemination
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour
A. Keep it in the cow
(Simple, but brilliant)

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts - the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I,O,U..

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What does 'varicose' mean?
A. Nearby

Q. What is the most common form of birth control
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium
(That would work)

Q. Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarean section'
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.
(Julius Seizure, I came, I saw, I had a fit)

Q. What is a terminal illness
A. When you are sick at the airport.

Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas

Q. Use the word 'judicious' in a sentence to show you understand its meaning
A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.

Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight

Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Inner Peace

Inner  Peace: This is so true.

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you  can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and  boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and  blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension  without  medical help,
If you can relax without alcohol,
If  you can sleep without the aid of  drugs,

    ...Then  You Are  Probably  .........

    The  Family Dog!

Good timing with this one.  Last night a black pit bull mix showed up across the street.  Contrary to the breed's reputation in the "Inner Cities", this dog is a true love sponge.   I met the dog after we came back from the Fort Lauderdale Galleria for dessert for some chocolate cake in the food court that was as good as I make it.  After petting this dog, I can see why people say it isn't the breed because if Lettie "took" to this dog, he'd have a foster home.  It literally was crying for people to take it in with them.

I hope the neighbors can find it's owner, this dog deserves a second chance.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This is why I am not allowed to surf Petfinder.Com

She's the reason alright!

She won't tolerate another dog in the house, and since she's been with me for 10 years, her preference goes.

You see the thing is that every morning, I go through 170 web pages.  Yes, 170.  Another 200 on top of that on the weekend.  It's all to find a proper Project Management job that either telecommutes or is within 25 miles of my home in Wilton Manors Florida.

The 170 pages have about 20 or so "fun" pages in them including one that you click a button and give a cup of dog food to an organization.   The way I did it today, that page just happened to be the first one I found.

My girl is a "Mc Nab dog" and is a fairly rare breed.   They're smarter than the average dog, and as a breed are recognized as being smarter than a Border Collie, more "even tempered" and much more friendly around people.   On the down side, intelligent breeds end up at the shelters more per capita than the little bits of fluff that we call lap dogs.  It takes an even tempered owner that wants to form a deep bond with these intelligent dogs and if you allow it, you're in for the relationship of your life.

I should know, I have had mine for a decade.

So after the thank you page loaded, I noticed the link for and decided to see whether there were any McNabs out there.   You see, it is a breed that doesn't get out of the Western United States much, and I was lucky to find mine in Harrisburg PA when I did.  Part of that is they tend to get lumped in with the Border Collies, and that is a good crowd to be in.

However they are not Border Collies.  The temperament is slightly different.  There are some subtle physical differences like shorter fur (medium coat), webbed feet, and opera gloves on the legs.

If being called a Border Collie by the shelters means a McNab gets adopted faster then so be it.  Whatever works!

But I did spot this one McNab 200 miles North of me in a shelter near Deltona complete with a video.  This dog even looked like my Lettie and acted the way she did when I first got her.  Whoever gets that dog is in for a treat, she's already pre-Frisbee Dog Trained and who doesn't want a Frisbee Dog?

That's the danger of having an amazing dog like my Lettie.  You end up writing an article a week about them in your blog and tell people about how mindbendingly smart she is.  They nod and smile and mutter about you being the "crazy cat lady" even though you don't have cats (allergic) and decidedly am not a lady. 

After all, not everybody has an active lifestyle where there are no "small children" and can take the time to let your dog roam.  You see if you have small children in the house and they run around your McNab will herd them into the corner.

Good Girl! You herded the children into the corner!  Here!  Have a cookie!

Oh and about those cookies.  You see I trained her patience by balancing one on her nose and not letting her have it immediately.  First it was a minute, then five.  When I got to 30 minutes of her sitting there patiently concentrating on a cookie with crossed eyes and drooling on the floor I decided it was a bit over the top and just let her have the blasted thing.

Why?  Well one day I gave the cookie to Lettie, walked off.  When I came back, I slipped on the drool and ended up falling on my back on the tile floor.  

Silly human.   The dog wouldn't have done THAT!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Rabbit Gets a Lizard Hat

I promised myself I wouldn't turn this into Wildlife Week or Photo November, but when the picture presents yourself, take it.

The problem is something that real Wildlife Photographers will tell you happens to them frequently.   Your subject does not always cooperate and I won't call myself a Real Wildlife Photographer, since I am far too modest.

While I was in the kitchen making my third mug of coffee (Decaf by this time in the morning) I looked out through the kitchen window at the yard and noticed my Rabbit has a Visitor.

We found that rabbit sculpture buried in the back yard under all the weeds and plants that were put there to add color.  I recently attacked all of that with the weed-eater, and if you don't think that a weed-eater could be theraputic, come on by and I'll let you go at the yard.

Since Summer has ended, and Fall is here with its beautiful temperatures when we aren't having torrential downpours, the outdoors calls to you.  Gentle breezes from the ocean, low humidity, brilliant cerulean skies, "Simpsonian" clouds and bright sun caress your skin and beckon you to come out to play-ay like the Warriors.

+2 Internets if you get that reference!

I completely denuded the area below the bougainvillea and had to be restrained not to "sculpt" the blasted plant into oblivion.  While there, destroying plant matter and the sprinkler system alike, I had to stop when the head of the weed-eater threw off its titanium core.  Reaching down for the part, and scaring off the last of the critters that were cowering in the Lititrope that was soon to be gone, I found it... the resin head of a brown rabbit.   It actually is a white rabbit, Alice, but the rust and brown from the yard lent it character.  I'm also not prone to taking a toothbrush and tilex to an outdoor sculpture.

It moved from place to place until it found its home under the bar on the deck.  There, it was claimed by a Cuban Brown Anole.   You see they have territories.  Each little critter will claim a spot for the Crown and Queen and protect it with all of its crittery life. 

This little one entertained me many times while sitting at my desk trying to fix something with soldering iron by jumping from the bicycle to the post to the head of the rabbit.

What reminded me of all of this is that one of my Facebook friends, Karyna, has a boyfriend who she calls the Rabbit.  I'm not going to second-guess her, it sounds rather cute to me... But since she's not the lizard the simile isn't quite accurate.   Every time I see the little statue guarding my back door, now I think of Karyna.

I'll keep trying for the perfect picture, but this one is pretty close.   Since they're quite fearful, it will be a challenge.  It's turning out to be a wildlife day.  This morning I've been landed on and transported a ladybug, found ants in the bathroom, and now my lizard visit.   Probably around dinner the buzzards will be back for a visit and I know I'll find Monarch Butterflies in the yard drifting on the breezes.

As long as it isn't a Mosquito, I'll be happy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Staging an Orchid for Kathie

Being a perfectionist has it's problems.

The other day I went around taking pictures to illustrate various things here on the blog and basically because I rather like photography.  At least what passes for photography, that is.

I had a shot of my Cattleya Orchid and this little Oncidium Orchid in the foreground.  Being a camera with an LCD screen in the back, there are certain tricks I can pull to make the picture better, but the vast majority of my pictures are of the variety of "Lets Take Them and Fix What We Can".  Find a subject and take a LOT of pictures and hopefully things will turn out right.  

Usually I get a good shot out of the various views, some are blurred, some with bad lighting, some focused on the wrong spot, but one out of the lot will turn out how I liked them.

In this case I got a really good picture of the rarest sort of Orchid of them all - The Antigravity Floating Oncidium Orchid.  Its natural habitat is under the eaves of a garden shed that resides in the back of yards all over the world.

Usually around five feet off the ground. 
Next to the pool.

The reality was that I was looking for a spot on the sunny side of the shed that looked just like the original spot I had it.  Needing the shot in the morning doesn't help when the sun is on that side in the afternoon.

At any rate, this little beauty is a "Mini Oncidium Orchid".  The flower itself is about the size of a small fingernail, and the whole plant came in a pot that was about the size of a thimble for "Andre the Giant".  It was a gift from my Godmother Kathie back the last time we were together, and I saw it as a challenge to get the little thing to flower again.  Basically I stuck the root ball in with another orchid that is in the background and left it on the drip feed irrigation hoping something would happen with it.  

It's quite happy along the line in the back yard.

The trick with these plants is finding where they are happy.  Most of the plants I have in the yard in pots are foundlings.   After Christmas three years ago, I found a chewed up Poinsettia that was on its last leaves.  Placed into a pot in a semi shaded area, it took off to form a great big bush that did well for a couple years.   Now with the whitefly going after them, some of those are getting shabby looking and may not come back. 

The orchid, being a canary in the coal mine, is not one of them.

The moral of the story is, at least here in Florida, if it grows, it will do better under irrigation outside.