Monday, December 31, 2012

Ginger Vodka Recipe

No pic for this one, it's just not needed since this is so very simple.


1 Teaspoon of Fresh Grated Ginger
1 Cup Vodka

Add ingredients to small jar with lid.
Seal jar.
Shake a few times, and periodically.
Allow to steep for at least 4 hours.
Filter the mix through a strainer or cheesecloth when serving, or just enjoy the little bits of ginger in your drink.

Serving Suggestion:  Mix as you would in a screwdriver.  The ginger adds a nice little bite to the drink.
Alternately, pour over some Vanilla Ice Cream and make an ice cream soda for big people.

As usual there is a story behind this.  We were making a Ginger Pie.  It means you grate up a lot of ginger, soak the stuff in rum, and bake in the oven until it is a pie that resembles a pecan pie.  I don't like pecan pie, particularly, but this was a very interesting pie.  Definitely not for everyone and since I like crystalline ginger, it was for me.

We had a LOT of grated ginger left over so I experimented.   Grabbing a washed jelly jar from under the cabinet, I added a measured teaspoon of ginger to the jar, a cup of vodka, shook the thing and walked out to the living room.   After watching a couple hours of Britcoms, a couple of old Simpsons episodes and surfing too many web pages, I got the idea to try this Ginger Vodka.

You know what?  It was good.  Not earth-shattering, but a very pleasant change of pace.  Since I have about another four ounces of ginger, I had better make up more of this stuff to use it up.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weddings - Humor

Men and women have two distinct views about weddings.

The husband-to-be wakes up in the morning, plays a round of golf and counts the minutes until he has to be at the altar.

The wife-to-be, on the other hand, wakes up in the morning and is panicking. She immediately begins to organize things, making sure everything is in proper order. In her mind she is repeating what she has to do: "All I have to do is go down the aisle, get to the altar, and marry him."

She repeats this over and over again, until she begins to shorten it to three words which she continues to repeat, "Aisle, altar, him." "Aisle, altar, him." "Aisle, altar, him..." 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Professor, Golf Balls, Pebbles, and Sand

I have been seeing this particular one a lot lately.  I think my friends are trying to tell me something!

One of those stories that tells you something deep and philosophical about life... with a small twist.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Friday, December 28, 2012

When Good Gadgets Go Bad

Time for music.  

Reaching for the remote, the red button is pressed bringing the radio to life.  Walking to the stereo, the power and aux buttons are pressed to power on the unit so the music can come out of the speakers.   It is not a remarkable stereo, simply used as an amplifier just for this purpose, to play internet radio.

The internet radio is a Squeezebox, but for that matter it could be an iPhone or a Tablet computer.  The sound is routed from the headphone jack to the back of the stereo.   It is a simple setup.

Waiting as the Squeezebox goes through its paces, it comes to life and waits for further commands.  The keypads on the remote are hit to make the thing go up through the list to find "Favorites".  Unfortunately it has a headache and goes right past it looping around to the beginning of the list at "Now Playing".

Pressing up again, it begins to go through the list one at a time on its own.  Faster and faster on a crazy blur of blue-green fluorescent letters in a blur until it stumbles back to Now Playing.

Press up again and for some reason, it bumps one at a time to get to favorites.   Then to the list of channels.  There are 63 of them.  Up is pressed.  Luckily it goes to the bottom of the list.  Press up again and it goes through the list in that crazy blur.   Then the radio jumps to the configuration menu and spasms there as if someone has hit it in the head giving it a concussion worthy of a trip to the computer hospital. 

Go home radio, you're drunk.

Give up on that, turn on a different and much more basic radio until curiosity raises its ugly head again.  After all, why have just local FM when the world awaits you on a spastic little black slab of plastic?

This circular behavior and logic continues onward for a week.  The semi solution of a work around was that for the last five days it was left on Discover Trance for 24 hours a day because to turn it off meant that more head scratching and dancing in a blue-green blur would happen.

Finally today the solution was found.  The batteries in the remote were replaced after spinning them around in their mounts a couple times, and in the clarity of a second mug of coffee a "Why Not" moment of playing "Lets Replace The Batteries" occurred. 

Seems that the broken part of the electronic gadget was the human operating the remote.

So remember, if your electronics aren't working... check the batteries.  The mind you save may be your own.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Laundry Logistics

Mine, Ours, and the Dog's.

Doing my own clothes is no big deal.  Toss them in, pour the soap on, press buttons and go.

Ours are pretty much the same.   Grab everything from every corner of the house, and toss them in with the bed linens.  Temp-Boost Hot and boil the little suckers down.  Gives me some nice clean towels for the Kitchen, Bathroom, and the bed linens are nice and smooth once a week.

It's the Dog's wash that gets to be intriguing. 

You see, she wants to help.

Start with taking the linens back into the master bedroom.  Time to make the bed.   She's lounging around taking it easy but hears some random sound and looks up.   I'm not in The Chair so she goes searching.   Since she's a bigger creature of habit than even I am, this itself would give me time enough to get at least the bottom sheet on the bed.

Hurry, she's only made it to sniff the laundry room!

Flip the top sheet out on the bed and there are paws padding through the kitchen out to the Florida room.

Quick, smooth the top sheet out!

And there's the black nose sniffing past the night stand.  I've been found out!

Toss the pillow onto the bed, move over to the side that the dog is on and she backs up.

Now it gets fun.  I grab the spare set of dog mats, both of them, from the closet and toss one on the floor.  She moves to sniff that mat and of course the one on the floor that needs to go to the laundry now has 45 pounds of McNab Dog on top of it.

"Look!  Over there! (gesture gesture gesture)" Ok, forgot she's almost deaf and just staring at the clean mat in my arms.   I "fake the throw" and she looks around moving just off the mat.  In one deft motion, I manage to make the old mat disappear.   Pointing at the new one, she goes back to sniffing it. 

Run, Quick!  Run!  Out to the living room.  Grab the other two mats before she follows!

Now I drop the one spare mat down on the floor and am inspected.

Have you ever seen a dog pout?

There's a third mat that we've given her, of course, as her privileged position in life requires.  Since dogs are "Den Animals", they like to be in semi-enclosed spaces.  That is why crate training is not a punishment, but more of a "natural state" way of being for dogs.   All except lap dogs.  Those little yappers get territorial of the few square inches of your lap that you need for important things like tech manuals, your lunch, and the plans to take over the world, Pinky.

Lap Dogs are a lost cause.  They can be trained but I have to wonder how some people manage.  I'm good at training dogs, but those little things?  Yer' a better man than me Mc Duff!

That third mat is right next to my big chair and in a sheltered place just under a chess table in the corner.  Sometimes it is under it, other times it is repositioned with a precision that only a web footed paw can manage.

It is now gone and in my hand while I whisk it away to be heated and washed.

Yes, you're going to be social today.  That third mat doesn't go back until it's well and truly clean.

Now she's acting like the little girl next door who would say loudly to everyone when her security blanket was taken away...

I want my guggie!

Oh well, guggies will be washed, and little Lynn is now a beautiful woman who doesn't need her security blankie either, Mrs Dog.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bonus Blossom - Picture

A cold snap drew me out to the back yard.  Against the shed is a line of irrigation that I keep four separate orchids on.  Under each plant are some "starter pots" of cuttings.  It's my little hydroponic drip feed garden. 

Fancy talk for pretty plants that entertain me.

The orchids are all from those "baby" plants you see in the big box stores, save one that my friends Kathie and Larry had given me as a present in a tiny little pot.  

Those babies are usually bought when you're a snowbird, taken up to what ever cold and dry climate you live in and are presented as a challenge.   I was never quite up to that particular challenge, so one of the first things that I had done when I moved to Florida was see if I could get some to grow.

If you are a local and are patient, you can have some amazing plants.  All you need to do is wait.

This maroon beauty is a Bonus Blossom.  It is the first year that it had ever bloomed twice, this being the second complete set of flowers. 

Plants bloom where they are planted, but only when they are happy.  I've given them a home under the eaves of my little shed, water them with the ground water from my irrigation system, and pretty much ignore them until they show their true colors and gain my attention.   When that happens, the wheels start turning and I consider putting more out there.  

After all, who doesn't like a little more color in their life?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays from - Picture

Yes, these are the famous Garbage Poinsettias that I wrote about last year.   My fence is lined with these things.  They're all in bloom.  They'd be doing better if I fertilized them, but for being ignored and sitting under the orchid pots, they're doing fine.

So Happy Holidays, yes, all of them.  Choose a holiday and celebrate it.  Or choose them all and cheese someone off!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Sharing Breakfast With Dad - Picture

I realized that I was sharing breakfast with an old friend more and more these days.  It's the complete opposite of what we're used to doing, but when you're an old dog they make adjustments for you.

I used to get just a bowl of this stuff.  Smelled like sheep, crunched like a bone, and came in a big bag.  Dad would keep the big bag in the corner by the box he called trash.  I wasn't allowed in that box, and wasn't allowed in the big bag of crunchy sheep either.

Dad knew just how much I could have and gave it to me in my bowl.  It said C, A, T on it.  I think he was playing a joke on me because I couldn't read.  It made him happy so I didn't care.

I started getting sick last year.  I'm getting up there in years, and Dad didn't realize that I didn't want the crunchy sheep any more.  He took me to the doctors that one day and I don't like that.   They treat me well, but I just don't like anyone poking me.

I never did.

That was when Dad gave me strange food.  Some of it I liked a lot, others I wouldn't go near.   We all got real frustrated then until I showed him just what to get and what not to.

He slips once in a while and gives me peanut butter, but that makes me sick the next day.   I heard him say "no more".  I guess that's it for the peanut butter.

Lately I follow him more than usual.  I know my time may be short and I want to show him I still care as much as I can.

Breakfast time is the best time to follow Dad.  I'm a little slow on my feet now, so I have to stand back and stare at him.   He tells me that I "have the most beautiful brown eyes on the planet" and then gives me some of what he's having.

The other day he laughed as he gave me a bowl of this stuff called cottage cheese and said "I'm going to have to stop giving you this or you will stink up the place".  No idea what he means by that but it's OK. 

I lick at that bowl until I can get enough out of it but it is hard to eat.  The bowl starts on one side of the house and ends up on the other.   I stopped just before it ended up going down the one step to that warm place in the back of the house.  Florida Room I heard it called.

Well, I'll have to catch you later.   The sun is out today and I can catch a nap there on my place near where Dad sleeps every night.  The sun makes me feel better and I like that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

See if You Can Guess Who This Is

You may look at the post, mutter "TL;DR" and want to bail.   If you do, jump down to the bottom and you can skip ahead.   It really is a great story and a tribute to a great American who helped us win the war against the Fascists in WWII.

I'm tagging it "humor" only because it's A Sunday Post, but hey, my blog my rules, right?

A little Paul Harvey-style non-fiction.  This would make a fascinating screen play. 


In 1933, a beautiful, young Austrian woman took off her clothes for a movie director.  She ran through the woods ... naked.  She swam in a lake ... naked.  Pushing well beyond the social norms  of the period, the movie also featured a simulated orgasm.

The most popular movie in 1933 was King Kong.  But everyone in Hollywood was talking about that scandalous movie with the gorgeous, young Austrian woman.

Louis B. Mayer, of the giant studio MGM, said she was the most beautiful woman in the world.  The film was banned practically everywhere ... which of course made it even more popular and valuable.  Mussolini reportedly refused to sell his copy at any price.

The star of the film, called Ecstasy, was Hedwig Kiesler.  She said the secret of her beauty was "to stand there and look stupid."  In reality, Kiesler was anything but stupid.  She was a genius.  She'd grown up as the only child of a prominent Jewish banker.  She was a math prodigy.  She excelled at science.  As she grew older, she became ruthless, using all the power her body and mind gave her.

Between the sexual roles she played, her tremendous beauty, and the power of her intellect, Kiesler would confound the men in her life ... including her six husbands, two of the most ruthless dictators of the 20th century, and one of the greatest movie producers in history.

Her beauty made her rich for a time. She is said to have made -- and spent -- $30 million in her life.  But her greatest accomplishment resulted from her intellect...And her invention continues to shape the world we live in today.

You see, this young Austrian starlet would take one of the most valuable technologies ever developed right from under Hitler's nose.  After fleeing to America, she not only became a major Hollywood star...her name sits on one of the most important patents ever granted by the U.S. Patent Office.

Today, when you use your cell phone or, over the next few years, as you experience super-fast wireless Internet access (via something called "long-term evolution"or LTE" technology), you'll be using an extension of the technology a 20-year-old actress first conceived while sitting at dinner with Hitler.

At the time she made Ecstasy, Kiesler was married to one of the richest men in Austria.  Friedrich Mandl was Austria 's leading arms maker.  His firm would become a key supplier to the Nazis.

Mandl used his beautiful young wife as a showpiece at important business dinners with representatives of the Austrian, Italian, and German fascist forces.  One of Mandl's favorite topics at these gatherings -- which included meals with Hitler and Mussolini -- was the technology surrounding radio-controlled missiles and torpedoes.

Wireless weapons offered far greater ranges than the wire-controlled alternatives that prevailed at the time.  Kiesler sat through these dinners "looking stupid," while absorbing everything she heard ...

As a Jew, Kiesler hated the Nazis.  She abhorred her husband's business ambitions.  Mandl responded to his wilful wife by imprisoning her in his castle, Schloss Schwarzenau.  In 1937, she managed to escape.  She drugged her maid, snuck out of the castle wearing the maid's clothes, and sold her jewelry to finance a trip to London.

(She got out just in time.  In 1938, Germany annexed Austria.  The Nazis seized Mandl's factory.  He was half Jewish.  Mandl fled to Brazil.  Later, he became an advisor to Argentina's iconic populist president, Juan Peron.)

In London, Kiesler arranged a meeting with Louis B. Mayer.  She signed a long-term contract with him, becoming one of MGM's biggest stars.  She appeared in more than 20 films.  She was a co-star to Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and even Bob Hope.  Each of her first seven MGM movies was a blockbuster.

But Kiesler cared far more about fighting the Nazis than about making movies.  At the height of her fame, in 1942, she developed a new kind of communications system, optimized for sending coded messages that couldn't be "jammed."

She was building a system that would allow torpedoes and guided bombs to always reach their targets.  She was building a system to kill Nazis.

By the 1940s, both the Nazis and the Allied forces were using the kind of single-frequency radio-controlled technology Kiesler's ex-husband had been peddling.  The drawback of this technology was that the enemy could find the appropriate frequency and "jam" or intercept the signal, thereby interfering with the missile's intended path.

Kiesler's key innovation was to "change the channel."  It was a way of encoding a message across a broad area of the wireless spectrum.  If one part of the spectrum was jammed, the message would still get through on one of the other frequencies being used.  The problem was, she could not figure out how to synchronize the frequency changes on both the receiver and the transmitter.  To solve the problem, she turned to perhaps the world's first techno-musician, George Anthiel

Anthiel was an acquaintance of Kiesler who achieved some notoriety for creating intricate musical compositions.  He synchronized his melodies across twelve player pianos, producing stereophonic sounds no one had ever heard before.  Kiesler incorporated Anthiel's technology for synchronizing his player pianos.  Then, she was able to synchronize the frequency changes between a weapon's receiver and its transmitter.

On August 11, 1942, U.S. Patent No. 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and "Hedy Kiesler Markey," which was Kiesler's married name at the time.

Most of you won't recognize the name Kiesler.  And no one would remember the name Hedy Markey.  But it's a fair bet than anyone reading this newsletter of a certain age will remember one of the great beauties of Hollywood 's golden age -- Hedy Lamarr.  That's the name Louis B. Mayer gave to his prize actress.  That's the name his movie company made famous.

Meanwhile, almost no one knows Hedwig Kiesler -- aka Hedy Lamarr -- was one of the great pioneers of wireless communications.  Her technology was developed by the U.S. Navy, which has used it ever since.

You're probably using Lamarr's technology, too.  Her patent sits at the foundation of "spread spectrum technology," which you use every day when you log on to a wi- fi network or make calls with your Bluetooth-enabled phone.  It lies at the heart of the massive investments being made right now in so-called fourth-generation "LTE" wireless technology.  This next generation of cell phones and cell towers will provide tremendous increases to wireless network speed and quality, by spreading wireless signals across the entire available spectrum.  This kind of encoding is only possible using the kind of frequency switching that Hedwig Kiesler invented.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Party, December 23rd!

I thought that since tomorrow is the 23rd, you might want to know about this Holiday Party.  See, there's a company that is trying to get all their ducks in a row and make everyone happy about getting a party together tomorrow.


Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: October 1, 2012

RE: Gala Christmas Party

I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to sing along.

And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus!

A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's

This gathering is only for employees!

Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!

Merry Christmas to you and your family,


Company Memo
Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: October 2, 2012

RE: Gala Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.

Happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family,


Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees

DATE: October 3, 2012

RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this?


And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.


Company Memo

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

To: All Employees

DATE: October 4, 2012

RE: Generic Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home. Will that work?

Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms.

Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table.

Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men's table.

To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry.

We will have booster seats for short people.

Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet.

I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food . The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first.

There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply "no sugar" desserts. Sorry!

Did I miss anything?!?!?


Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO: All F...... Employees

DATE: October 5, 2012

RE: The F****** Holiday Party

I've had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your ****** salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them
scream right NOW!

The rest of you ****** wierdos can kiss my ass. I hope you all have a rotten holiday!

Drive drunk and die,

The Bitch from Hell!!!

Company Memo
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director

DATE: October 6, 2012

RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party

I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards to her.

In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weather Induced Costume Party For South Florida

Any time a front comes through and you get a 15 degree drop in temperature, you will notice it.

The wind is coming from the wrong direction, moving cold air from the North and making all us South Floridians cranky.  

Yes, it's another one of those weather systems that we think is cold but you Snowbirds would be out in shorts. 

Oh that shorts thing, keep it up, it is entertaining to see pasty white people from New York getting a sunburn in December when it's 64 degrees out.   They're always from New York.   Really, it's a requirement.

Meanwhile we're going Retro.  When we moved down here, we were all told to hang on to our favorite cold weather clothes.  Since we really only need it, even by our standards, for two weeks a year and a day here or there, you will see them.   Yes, the Winter Clothes from Back North.

I'm guilty of this.   My own dear sister had a habit of getting me a new flannel shirt every Xmas.  I kept my favorites for the move here.  So basically I'm going to be walking around town dressed for Pennsylvania, Circa 1990. 

My favorite flannel shirt is long gone but it was recognizable.  I used to get strange looks every time I would put it on and comments of "Where did I see that before?".   It was a red plaid shirt of a distinctive design, very familiar.  You would see it every time you would go to the supermarket and walk down the paper towel aisles.

One time I was in the Acme in Roxborough, Philadelphia.  You know the one, it's up on Ridge Pike?  Yeah great store, it had everything I needed that I couldn't get at the warehouse stores.  But it was cold so I had on that shirt, jeans, and low riser construction boots.  Hey there was ice around from the first snow a few days before!

Get the picture?  Yes, it was the Bounty Paper Towel shirt.   Someone in the paper towel aisle looked at me, then the rolls and scratched her head.  Feeling frisky I said "Yes, try those, you'll love them!".

I did, in fact, sell paper towels that day. 

I won't be the only one dressed like that.  Looking at the construction workers across the street building the house, half of them are in black long sleeve T Shirts, the others are in flannel.   I have to guess that those in flannel moved down here to build two houses, the one on the East being one block shorter than the other, in their old clothes that their sister gave them in 1990 too.

Love my sister.   That was a great shirt.  Here, have a paper towel, you'll need it for that mess!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Water Temp 65F, Air 77F

Sure, go ahead, take a picture when everything is perfect. 

Calm water with a mirror surface. 

Sun not too high. 

Breezes warm but not hot. 

Not too humid. 

Birds chattering in the trees.

Flowers in bloom.

This is, after all, our best time of year.   This is when the snowbirds flock South and plug up the roads.

If they're here tomorrow, they're in for a week of colder weather but that's not my problem.   For now, I'll enjoy my coffee by the pool while the weather is nice and get a start to the day.

This is the right time of year for visitors, I'm afraid.  It really is that nice out today.  The backyard is in a surprising amount of color, conditions are really that beautiful. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

If You Want Me, I'll Be Out Back

Working from home presents its own challenges.

I've got two web pages to write, a Marketing campaign to begin, and a couple client phone calls to do today.

On the other hand, it's a beautiful day today.   Not that I'm thinking about blowing it all off and hitting the beach, I'm not really a beachy kind of guy.  See, this is our nicest time of year.  Technically, it's still Fall, or will be for another day or three if the Mayans were wrong about that whole ending of the world thing.

Really folks, it's just changing the calendar.  That's all.  You've been through it before with Y2K.  Repeat after me, "Happy Mayan New Year!" and pop the champagne.

Yes, it's a high of 82, and it's only 63 this morning.  So instead of running the air conditioning, I'll open all the windows and cool the place down before it starts warming up for later.

So where's the problem?  Why am I whinging about the weather and all that?

In a word construction.

That house that sprung up over the last two months is having its roof done.   Thankfully the concrete seems to have been poured.  If you have ever had a neighbor pour a driveway, watch your china cabinet.  I swear my clock got relocated about 3 inches South as a result from the vibration.

Luckily today the people who are building the houses are having a slow start to things.   I thank the City for that today, although it could be that someone else is having a look at the place.  Every time they have had it inspected, work stops for an hour or three and paperwork is done as they walk up and down my little street talking to their hands about random things that I don't quite get.

Sooner or later, the inspections will end and construction will start.  Until then, the workers are sitting on the porch drinking their coffee, munching on whatever they munch on, and having a slow beginning to their day.

My house is beginning to warm up anyway, the windows will eventually be closed and if it really gets noisy, I could relocate out back or to the Board's Office.  It is entertaining to watch the changes, and since nobody has gotten hurt, it's an excuse to turn the stereo up another notch and get Oscar chattering.

As for that dog on the corner that barks at airplanes flying into Fort Lauderdale International Airport, I'd love to relocate him.  I'm thinking about 20 miles away should do it.  Nothing worse than a boneheaded barky dog.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How I Spent My Saturday Afternoon - Picture

My dog is teaching me bad habits.  Some would say simply eating hamburgers is a bad habit, I'm not so sure.  I've had some really good burgers but these aren't what anyone would call "good".

In fact, they're about 10 percent Panko Bread Crumbs.

Yep, more LettieBurgers (TM). 

See I ran low on food for the dog.  Since I had 5 pounds of low grade, 77% "lean" beef sitting in the freezer, I made this mess up. 

I've been on a training diet since I was a teenager.  High protein, low fat is the general rule.  My dog requires the exact opposite.  I'm learning how to eat badly for a person because for a 12 year old dog with weak kidneys and a bad thyroid, that is how they need to survive.

In March we nearly lost her due to the thyroid problem compounded with her Chronic Renal Failure.  I knew something was up when she passed out against the chair I was sitting on.  By the time Summer hit, we were being educated on what to feed and what not to feed.  Low phosphorous, low potassium, low salt and so on. 

No peanut butter I'm afraid, girl!  Too bad, she loved the stuff.  One day I forgot and gave her some and it literally took her two days before she was normal again.

Basically the recipe is 1 pound beef, 1 egg, plus 1 cup of bread crumbs and form into a burger. 

Why?  Well some dog foods are around 26% protein.  This cuts that back so that she can eat 2 ounces in the morning, two more at night.  I slip her 1/2 of a thyroid pill each time.

When she starts refusing burgers, I'll have to find something else, but for now, it's a solution to a furry little problem.

Monday, December 17, 2012

He's at it Again

I'll push this door open with my nose.

Sniffing the air and looking around, I see him outside.  He's washing that big thing that goes fast.  It's ignored most of the time.  When he takes me inside it I get to watch him and go fast too.  After a while, I get tired and curl up to sleep, but it's nice all the same.

It's my job to watch over him.  He does some pretty crazy things from time to time so I keep order. 

As soon as I smelled the rain and saw him grab the towels and the keys to that thing, I knew what he was doing.  It needed it.  It's been sitting there for weeks at a time never used. 

There he goes shaking his hands at me to use the yard.  It's raining and I don't need to go.  I'll just smile at him and let him go on with his job.

One more time to get the dust off of it, and clean the sides down.   It's time for the dry towels to finish off.   I wonder if we're going for a ride? WagWagWag.  Not yet, he's back at the front washing more dust off of the grill.

At least he's finishing off the job, I'll go back in and have some water.

Now what happened here?  The big thing is back by the house.  I guess there's no ride today.  Dad's done.  Patting my head we're going back inside for the next big adventure.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

When the Old Folks Get a Divorce - Humor

Sometimes you just have had enough.  So it's time, even after all these years.  Or maybe not...


An old man in Miami calls up his son in New York and says, "Listen, your mother and I are getting divorced. Forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Dad, what are you talking about?" the son screams.

“We can't stand the sight of each other any longer,” he says. "I'm sick of her face, and I'm sick of talking about this, so call your sister in Chicago and tell her," and he hangs up.

Now, the son is worried. So he calls up his sister. She says, "Like hell they’re getting divorced!" and calls her father immediately. "You’re not getting divorced! Don't do another thing, the two of us are flying home tomorrow to talk about this. Until then, don't call a lawyer, don't file a paper, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and she hangs up.

The old man turns to his wife and says "Okay, they’re coming for Christmas and paying their own airfares."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Three Guys Were Fishing - Humor

Yep, you know it's the weekend when you see a topic like this one...

There were these three guys fishing...

when Fred gets up to get a beer, loses his balance and falls out of the boat. 

Ed says " What should we do?" 
Bill says, "You better jump in after him, he's been under water for a while, he might need some help." 

So Ed jumps in, and after some time, he surfaces. 

He says, "Help me get him in the boat." They wrestle Fred back into the boat. 
Ed says, "What do we do now, it doesn't look like he's breathing." 
Bill says, "Give him mouth to mouth." 
Ed starts to blow air into Fred's mouth and says, "Whoa, I don't remember Fred having such bad breath." 
Bill says, "Come to think of it, I don't think Fred was wearing a snowmobile suit, either."

Friday, December 14, 2012


When your day is going along all nice and smooth and all the sudden something stops you in your tracks and makes you go a completely different direction, you have just encountered a speedbump.

In my case, today, there were a few in rapid succession.

How do I deal with them?  Step back and reset priorities.

The internet radio decided it wanted to disgorge a commercial about some product I don't care about.  Reaching down I grabbed the remote and stabbed the red power button.  Take that advertiser!  Bwahahaha...

But before I hit that button, the phone started ringing from an out of state number.  Usually at this time of day, that would be a recruiter and usually recruiters are a complete waste of time.  Sensing that I was annoyed, the dog decided to stop her patrolling of the house long enough to plant a wet nose on the back of my arm. 

Reflexively, my arm shot forward and grabbed the top of the laptop balancing on the knee.  I steadied the machine as I bent down to look at the phone and scowled.  Area Code 770 - Atlanta.  Useless, I'll ignore... oh wait they hung up. 

Start to pet the dog and less than five seconds later...

The double ring of the phone broke what passes for silence here in Noisy Island, and it was my recruiter calling back.   Yeah, I'm not really interested in relocating to a small city in Michigan, leave a message.

The dog was insistant and pushed her nose under my arm again.  Time to pet the dog for a bit.  The radio had been turned off, and the semi-silence was actually a welcome pleasure.  The white noise rattle of a small shower hitting the awnings, a distant lawnmower, the parrot gargling, and the clock joined to make a choir singing out the morning.

The other arm hit the keyboard and all the sudden another speedbump turned its ugly head.  I was being told some blather about that I have installed Facebook Chat, no I Had NOT!, and immediately began to research some weird technical issue that sucked up the last bit of my Blogging Hour that day.

The strange thing is that excluding the search for the solution to removing integration of Facebook Chat in Firefox, all this happened in 5 minutes and yielded nothing but one confused me.  Forget it all, I'm going to make coffee and start over later.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just Give Me The Damn Toy - Picture

That's my girl.

Seems like every evening lately, she gets all excited when it's time to watch TV after dinner.  She's had her dinner and her walk, and now it's time for her to play.

Come on, stop dropping the toy on my toes.  Ok, sure, lets play...

After a couple "fake the throw" and "hold the toy just out of reach" sessions, she started amping things up and getting really wild.  A 12 year old McNab Dog who is mostly silent, who has the nickname "The Stealth Dog", and has bad kidneys and is on thyroid medications has her moments when she wants to play. 

She's not a morning person any more, although when my feet hit the floor she's ready to roll.

I decided to play with the camera and see just how well I could capture the moment in 8 MP full color. 

Ever take a picture of a dog and really want to get the eyes right?  Not going to happen indoors, you'll get that amber eye effect that doesn't correct well.  Don't use flash and you have a chance at it.

On the other hand, "amber eye" works really well when your subject is acting like Cujo and doing really goofy things with her toy.  It fits the memory perfectly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Attitude from a Parrot

Oscar has been with me since 1986.  The thing with a parrot is that they're amazing creatures.   A person who thinks that there is such thing as a dumb animal probably is one. 

Oscar has an attitude of being a hands off bird, except when HE wants physical attention.  Once a day would be nice, but he's ok without going outside or interacting with the dog, or other things that would require cleaning my shirt in public.

He is an observant creature, watching my comings and goings throughout the day.  All I have to do is say something to him and his eyes will "Pin and Flash" and the outer ring of orange red gets very bright, indeed. 

Never yell at a parrot, they can out shout you.  I learned that years ago and that if I wanted quiet in the house, I have to be quiet myself.  The stereo can get too loud and enter that zone that whatever is playing gains a parrot accompaniment of jungle sounds, "HELLO!", and laughs. 

Yes, he laughs just like I do.

That laughter set him off.   We were watching Lisa Douglas be totally paranoid about a blue feather on Green Acres.  The TV was just at the border of the Parrot Zone when I laughed.  Oscar laughed back and launched into his chattering.

No, Kevin, don't turn the TV up, that won't work.

He did.   Oscar got louder.

Kevin said "Oscar if you don't quiet down, I'm going to cover you up!".

Reaching for the remote, I turned the TV down just as Oscar had the last word.

He let loose with a Raspberry of epic proportions.  A "Bi Labial Fricative". 

Yes, I taught my parrot how to do a Bronx Cheer.

Then after he was finished, he laughed, feeling quite proud of himself.

Kevin asked "Did he just blow a raspberry?".

"Yep!  A good old fashioned Bronx Cheer!".
"I guess I've been told.  Gees, Attitude from a bird..."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pack a Box Like Playing Tetris

You know it's a job when it takes an hour a box to pack each one.

I had three boxes to send out for gifts yesterday, and now (sound of hands wiping against pants) it's all done. 

A couple years ago, I got a rather vague comment along the lines that I have to be more careful in packing things sent by the mail.  More like "You've got to learn how to do this", with no more explanation.  

Since then I've been packing fragile things like they're going to Mars.  

It starts sometime around October.   The holidays are looming, it wasn't even Halloween, Xmas decorations were beginning to appear in the malls.  Ahh the spirit of Shopping-Mass!   As time went on, every time I'd get something shipped to me, if the boxes were "small", I'd save them. 

You know I'll need that!  Give me the box, I'll store it!  Oooh Bubble Wrap!  Don't you dare pop that!

I had a tower growing.   Boxes that were too complex to "flat pack" and reassemble ended up on the Dining Room Table.  The "flat pack" broken down boxes were stuffed behind the laundry box in the kitchen and in the laundry room itself in every nook and cranny I could find.

By the time Thanksgiving hits, my mind ticked over into High Gear.  I could make Cookies!  I could make Fudge!  I could Roast Coffee!  I have all these Things!  Lets send them off!

The day after Thanksgiving I began roasting coffee, a logistical challenge in itself.  It isn't difficult to roast coffee if you have the right popcorn popper, but there is a timing thing.   I put the beans in the machine, push it out the window, and plug it into the wall.  Six minutes later plus or minus 30 seconds depending on the temperature outside in the Lanai, the coffee is done, poured onto a large dinner plate to cool.  Then wait 30 minutes for the popper to cool and repeat.  The thing is as the sun comes up it heats the roof and the Lanai can go from 70F to 90F in an hour on a clear day.  That changes the roast.  One batch is "medium" at 6 minutes 10, the next would be burned Starbucks beans.   So I spread that out over a week to get my 12 batches of coffee to send out.

Quality is my motto!  Can't rush perfection!  More Business Buzzwords! 

Similar micromanagement went into making the cookies - Chocolate Chips, Pecans, Butterscotch Chips, Butter, and Eggs were bought.  Cookies made in three separate batches over three days were baked then frozen to keep them fresh.  Two kinds of Rocky Road Fudge was made, cooled, cut, and immediately frozen.

Finally there were some specific handmade gifts that were to go to specific people.  Bamboo smartphone dock to one, wind chimes to another.

All these things needed care to find their way into boxes.  After all, you don't want coffee grounds all over the fudge that would be inside of the wind chimes do you?  Admittedly the fudge is an experiment in packing logistics itself.  It's winter and once it gets North of Florida, it should re-freeze at the outdoor temperatures "up there".  I'm looking forward to hearing about how that stuff fared.

Boxed each kind of thing up when the boxes were available.  Made other boxes for strangely shaped things.

I'm hungry what time is it?  12:30?  I've been at this for 2 hours?  Throw some pork into the microwave and go back at it.

Hmmm, that pork smells great, got to toast some rolls...  1PM and I'm wandering around the house with a slab of pork and cheese on a toasted English Muffin as Box 2 is done.

Luckily by 1:30 the last box was built and sitting by the door.  By 2:30 I was back home thinking I had just played a game of Tetris that my friends and family would unwind as they find a holiday letter with a hand signature that was scanned at the bottom of the letter and printed on.

Hey, if I have to write it out, I may as well let the printer do it for me!

So the next time you open a box, consider the effort that went into making the mundane packaging.

Then toss it out with the rest of the garbage and get your New Thing!  Who doesn't like New Things?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Attack of the Lemon Curd!

Walking out into the back yard, I noticed that one of the lemons had fallen off of my tree.  I was actually walking to the shed to get the weedeater to do some needed yard work but this set things in motion.

Since I had a Meyer Lemon in the refrigerator from last week, this one gave me enough to make lemon curd.  Instead, I got the bright idea, lets super size the recipe!

The recipe is bulletproof.  The trick with it is to make sure you don't overcook the stuff.  The result is basically "Pie Filling" but it's beyond excellent with cream cheese on a bagel, like you can see on my original posting with the recipe.

Things went well, to start.  I have a two quart non stick sauce pan that is perfect for the job.  When the curd is done, the mix starts to thicken and stirring it with a small spatula will have it actually "split" away from the pan in a wake.  If you go longer you end up with a caramel and eventually a candy.  Candy is dandy but it's thicker than you need.

When you make a recipe with sugar, you're depending on a chemical reaction between the sugar, the heat, and the fat in the mix.  In this case the recipe decided to do something weird.  It got big, fast.  There was some gas that was created which expanded the mix in the pan so I panicked.  Grabbing the 1 cup measure, I dipped it into the pan and dumped some off into the skillet, spilling it all over the top of the stove.  My I Love Lucy moment continued with having to do it another four times. 

Setting the stage for a messy kitchen with jelly all over the place, I managed to finish off the remaining mix in the sauce pan while keeping the skillet warm but not as warm as the sauce pan.  That let me come back after pouring the sauce pan into jars for storage.

There was a beautiful lemon yellow curd inside the pan, and also outside the pan as I lifted it off the burner and walked across the room.  Amazing how easily 170 degree lemon curd can flow because now I had a yellow slick of goo gluing my right foot to the floor as well as my right pant leg, the splash on the sink and the counters.  Shaking off the pain for my art, I did manage to pour about three quarters of the sweet lemony goodness into the jars while fretting about the other four cups of goo on the burner in the skillet.

Having poured the remainder into four jars, I made it back to the skillet just in time for the recipe to thicken enough to find its way into the fifth jar without a drop spilled.

So if you want to try something, learn from my mistake.  If you're going to double the recipe, make sure your sauce pan fits your needs.   Sometimes your food expands with heat and sometimes it just makes gas.

At least I won't have to go back to commercial jelly for a while for my breakfast.  The recipe is a wonderful treat, if you have about 45 minutes to make it.  The trick is to use the right sauce pan. Simply mix all the dry ingredients in the pan, scramble the eggs and add them and the wet ingredients to the pan, then cook over medium low stirring constantly until it begins to thicken.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Father seeing his new son - Humor

 This one is just a short one... There's this guy seeing his son for the first time...

A middle-aged couple had two beautiful daughters, but always talked about having a son. 

They decided to try one last time for the son they'd always wanted. 
The wife got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby boy. 

The joyful father rushed to the nursery to see his new son. 
He was horrified at the ugliest child he had ever seen. 
He told his wife, "There's no way I can be father of this baby. Look at the two beautiful daughters I fathered! Have you been fooling around my back?" 

The wife smiled sweetly and replied, "Not this time!"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lost - Political Humor

Velma in Philly thought you'd find this amusing.  I did so I'm posting it today!

Subject:  Lost

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her
altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him,

"Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level.  You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct.  But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost.  Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going.  You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem.  You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

P R I C E L E S S !     P R I C E L E S S !

In case you are curious, that is just south of Mertzon Texas

Friday, December 7, 2012

Into The Black Showing The Light

When I was a child, I felt the Milky Way was a fantasy like Santa Claus.

After all, I can't see it.  I would go out onto the yard with a telescope, armed with a pocket book called "Stars" from my school library, and try to find the stripe of the Milky Way.

Failed every time.

Oh sure, I could find the Big Dipper, The Little Dipper, Polaris the North Star, the belt of Orion and a few others.  The Moon itself was fascinating to turn that 50 power telescope on and pretend you could see the landing sites. 

Hey I was a kid with an active imagination.  Now I'm an adult with an active imagination.

I didn't actually see the Milky Way for myself until I got my first Jeep.  A couple of us had Jeeps at that time and we took them out to the New Jersey Pine Barrens to poke around.  I loved doing that and will do it again, you can depend on that.  Next visit...

One time we got caught out there at night.  We wandered around on the sugar sand trails on a warm summer night and found ourselves up by the fire tower on Apple Pie Hill.  Deciding to be daring, we'd climb up on the fire tower and look around.   Once I got up above the tree line I simply stopped as if welded to the spot.  There it was, the Milky Way.   It really did exist.

The reason for that skepticism was that I lived in the great Megalopolis in a small corner of it called Cherry Hill, New Jersey.   Zip code 08034.  Just about 10 miles from The Bell in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

It's not a great place to learn to appreciate the stars.  Being in the middle of things, the great hive of Humanity on the Eastern edge of the North American Continent, you had a lot of neighbors.  People would turn on things like light bulbs, car headlights, and street lamps.  Even in smaller towns, there were always lights around us.

There I was smack dab in the middle of the stripe of people that goes from Portland, Maine to Richmond, Virginia, and beyond in all directions thinking that I'd get to see stars.

Sure if I slipped on something left by my dog when I went outside and hit my head on the ground on the way down.

Lately NASA and the Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership put together a project called "Into The Black" that illustrates it perfectly.  Be patient, the links load very slowly.

The idea was to throw a satellite up into orbit and turn it back at our shared globe and take nighttime pictures showing as much as could be seen.  There are some incredibly detailed pictures there that show cities, ships, offshore oil rigs, and many other items as evidenced by the lights that were used to mark their way.  Think of it as the negative image of the street maps that you see on any of the GPS applications on your favorite computer.  Like this one of the US, Canada, Bahamas, and Mexico.

I'll admit, I'm a sucker for this sort of thing.  I can sit entertained for hours skimming the globe looking at Google Earth and zooming in on street level at places I'll never have the pleasure of even driving through.  Give me a border city and I'll try to find the state or national border.  It shows some borders very sharply like that of North and South Korea, India and Pakistan, and others.  There's a sharp line of lights that marks the borders then a difference in color or intensity that shows the difference in societies priorities or wealth clearly. 

The links are notoriously slow but here's another annotated link of the picture of North and South Korea.

The Project also shows why I can never see the stars.  Even here in South Florida, I still look up for the buckle of Orion's Belt, but see very little else.  I'm smack dab in the middle of things again, and if I want to see differently I'll have to get out of town.

One trip down here, I took my motorcycle.  If you get a chance to do this you have to plan carefully.   Using a motorcycle or a convertible car, drive South out of Miami.  Do this before sunset so that you hit the Seven Mile Bridge just as the sun extinguishes itself into the Gulf of Mexico.  Night time falls quickly there and in three miles at average traffic speeds you will hit the top of that bridge at the right time.  The best way to describe it is that you're standing in a room and someone just threw glitter into the air, and some of that glitter will be the thing I didn't believe in - the Milky Way.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

LettieLettieLETTIE LEAP!

My old girl turned 12.  She's definitely showing it, but Lettie is a textbook description of the breed.  She's a McNab Dog, and it's a breed that has all the intelligence of a Border Collie, and maybe more, plus she's much more focused.

My Lettie expects everything to be Just So.  To the point that if I'm overexcited she'll cling to me and try to "help".  That usually just gets me more "overexcited" because now I have 47 pounds of mostly black dog getting in the way.

But that Just So Thing is important.

Everything really has a pattern.  In my life I try to at least keep things under control and she fits in perfectly.   Settling down to write this, I moved from my desk chair to the futon next to the window in the Florida Room and propped my feet up on an old Mac.   This is just not to be so she got up and began to walk away after giving me the look as if to say I have just lost my mind.

I may have.

When things are not "Just So" and she can't control them, that's when life gets comical.

Back in March she got sick and we were trying to figure out how to balance her thyroid medications along with her fading kidneys.   We spent way too much time at the Vet's office.   Mind you, I really like our Vet at Family Pet Medical Center.  They saved her twice when she had her seizures, and brought her back after this latest episode.   I now have a dog who is on a very strict regimen of low protein foods and any time she asks for food she gets it.  It's like watching someone go through cravings, they'll eat what they want until they get what they need.

As much as I like the Vet, she doesn't.

She wants in and out and home as fast as possible.  That's a shame because she is really well liked by all there, and in about a month is going in for her check up.

Get ready Lettie, things will get Weird.

Last time there we sat in the waiting room long enough for all three of us to get fidgety.  She wanted out.  She was dragging me on the purple leash to the door as I repeatedly pulled her back to the seats.  We tried moving around the office and each time it was back to the door.  We tried showing her the TV but she wanted none of that.   She didn't want the kittens either but I don't blame her.

Then out of nowhere it happened.

A High Pitched Sound was on the air as the one Vet Tech came bounding out the door to get my Senior Dog.


It was a siren of energy to a dog who is not exactly a fan of that.

Who knew a 12 year old dog with a bad pair of kidneys, thyroid problems, and most likely a fair amount of arthritis had it in her.

I was sitting on the bench next to Kevin when all the sudden there was 47 pounds of fearful dog leaping through the air.  She deftly thread herself between the two of us while in the air.

This dog must have invisible wings because I swear she changed her angle while she flew at the bench.

Tail got planted firmly between legs, jaw gaped open, and she started to shiver as she hid behind Kevin's back on the bench.

We didn't even know she that could hear at that point, even though now it was clear that on that day she could!

The reaction was so strong and so out of character that even the TV went silent for that moment before the room broke out laughing.

Calming the old girl down, we told her that it was her turn and she got the expert care from Family Pet Center that we expected.

She's still out on that mat.  I'm still on the futon that functions as a couch.  I guess I'm being Weird.  She doesn't do Weird.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Planning Someone Else's Vacation

When you live in a place that has amazing weather when the rest of the country has, well less desirable weather for some, eventually people visit.

In this case, People would be a cousin who has my first and last name that I don't know so well.   Nice guy, we've chatted quite a bit on email, phone, and yesterday Skype.

When I was a child, there was this weird device that The Phone Company had that would let you do what you can do on a cheap 50 dollar tablet.  Video Chat.  If that isn't a little Buck Rogers in our 21st century, it's getting close.

After getting through most of the morning nonsense yesterday we started up on a video call that lasted about an hour.  I think we concluded that each of us lives a life that is completely different from the other and it's fun to talk about the differences.

Oh yeah and he's coming down soon.   Time to leave the rural Nebraska winter where it can get so cold that the Carbon Dioxide will freeze out of your breath and thaw out in the Florida Sun.  Being fully acclimated to the weather here, winter can be a cold thing.  Almost freezing.  Not quite, but almost. 

Ever want to freeze your tail off?  Come on down and visit a house that has a heater that isn't as powerful as the heater in a 68 Volkswagen Beetle with leaky windows.

On the other hand, you can sit in my leather desk chair, put your feet up on the futon, and look out at the Bougainvillea as birds that other people keep as pets land and inspect the other side of the glass while wondering why there's this moose looking back at them.

Hi Green Singer pair.  Squeeeeeee back at you!

I'll make coffee and we can debate the world while the sun comes up and warms our bones just like a pair of lizards under glass.

Being that helpful kind of guy I made suggestions.  Oh you can sit in the pool but you really wouldn't want to do that since the water temp is SO cold at 60F this time of year.  Oh we can go down to the beach so you can get salt water and sand in your toes but we don't do that since the pool can be so nice. 

Hey wait, I thought you told me that it was 60 in the water?
Yeah I did, Hmmm maybe we need to rethink this mindset!

I'm making a list of things to do when he's here in a couple weeks.   They mostly involve getting into the Jeep and visiting all those touristy things that the Locals Don't Do.

People in Philly don't usually visit Independence Mall having done that when they were in Elementary School.

People in New York took the boat to see the Statue Of Liberty back when they were a child and it really IS in New Jersey Anyway, but don't tell them that.

San Francisco?  Don't forget to bring me back a sourdough loaf when you get back from Ghirardelli Square and don't get lost on the Cable Cars!

I guess the nice thing about having people come for a visit is that in reality you can get that stick out of your ... back, and actually do those things that people come from 1700 miles to see.  I found myself looking forward to taking my tripod and camera to the beach to beat the Sunrise and take some pictures.  Maybe getting to see the Fairchild Tropical Gardens will be a nice thing?  After all, how often does an American get to see a Durian Tree growing without leaving the country?

Just don't eat them on the mass transit in Singapore, they may cane you.

I'll get to be a tourist too for the first time since I moved here.  Don't tell anyone but I'm looking forward to the trip.  After all, I Chose to live here.  I certainly can choose to vacation here too. 

Now I'm thinking about a sunrise at the ocean and a sunset dinner at the Gulf of Mexico.  It will just take some planning.  Better stock up on little jars to get a sample of the water and the sand for Souvenirs!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Watching the Construction

Building a house in Florida is a noisy business.  Fascinating to watch but a noisy one nonetheless.

I watched the city of Cherry Hill, NJ get built.  Mom took me through probably one of each kind of house when I was a kid in each and every neighborhood in the place.  It was her job, and she was the best in the area at that time.

I have a healthy respect for construction and the people who perform the job.  I'll even watch some of those home improvement shows when I want a little entertainment.   That is to say, when I feel like yelling at the TV saying things like "Hey Bozo! You're doing that wrong!" then hear the host of the show repeat what I just said.

Most people yell at the TV, why should I be any different?

For the last month there has been construction on the two lots across the street.   They're putting up two homes that will be sold eventually.  New neighbors in a home Mom would have called too big for the lot.

That's one thing about modern construction.   It's all about the numbers.  People look for the boxes and whether they're filled in "right" doesn't really matter.  So homes get built too close to lot lines, minimal yards are left for the people who live in them to enjoy, rooms are there but too small, and even now McMansions are built.  A Four Bedroom home sells for more than a Three Bedroom home of the same size even if that fourth bedroom is what we would have called a walk in closet.

Some of those sins are being committed across the street, but that is Per The Code.  Since I don't own the places, my opinion of a 10 by 10 or smaller bedroom isn't being solicited.

Roofing Per The Code is a different matter here.  Roofs are built like a tank.  Throw the rafters up to form a place to hammer the roof onto and it used to be done.  Now you have to strap each truss to the supporting walls, and put up a double thick roof so that it doesn't blow off in a Hurricane.

What that means is that in areas that don't conform to "Miami Dade Construction Code",  you have a much weaker roof.   They are built with one layer of plywood on the rafters, then a layer of tar paper, then the shingles or tiles and you're done.   With the code down here, thankfully, that is doubled.   Two layers of wood, interleaved with two layers of tar, then Shingles and done.  Of course I could have that wrong and they're just using thicker wood.

I haven't seen them lay down the tar paper yet, but I'm sure it is coming.  We'll know it's getting closer to completion when that happens.

Now that the sun has come out after the little break caused by a small shower, the ladder is in position for the workers to climb back on top and continue their work.  Even if there was no lightning, handling a hammer in rain on a roof in South Florida in a distant impression of Thor is a risky business.  Nobody has gotten hurt and life goes on.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bamboo Smartphone and Tablet Docks are all done

A while back a neighbor cut down a stand of bamboo that was as thick as your wrist.  I was able to take some of the scrap and cut it to size for a dock for my smartphones and larger ones for my tablets.

After taking the time to cut the wood and try the things out, I realized I really did want to finish the project by staining the bamboo inside and out with poly-seal.   Two coats later, they actually shimmer in the sunlight.  I may go another step further, but it really is pretty much "Furniture Quality" at this point.

Basically they work like the box that the drivers for your speakers for the stereo are contained in.  Give sound a box to bang around in and you get resonance and a louder, richer, and more directed sound.  More bass and better direction.  Since we're talking about the tiny little squeakers inside of a tablet, they need the help.

Even the one that cracked worked nicely when I screwed it down to a stand to hold it together.  Now that I have all of these docks, five in total, I'm finding that they have their uses.  Why run ugly wires to the top of the medicine chest in the bathroom for speakers when you already have the phone playing music?  One of the docks lives there perched six feet above the ground.

The trick is to not make the hole where you drop the phone or tablet too large.  If the sound leaks through the top of the dock, it can't be refocused out the ports on the side.  Since the Android phone I have and the iPhone 3G are almost identical in shape at the bottom, it works for all of my phones.

Other than that, unless I find more scrap bamboo or a reason to make more of these things, I'm probably done.  Nice little diversion of a project.  I got to the point where using mostly hand tools, I could make one in about an hour.  After all, what guy doesn't want an excuse to do some woodworking and make something "cool"?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Pirate Walked Into A Bar - Humor

Yarrr!  Matie!  Be ye a scurvy dog or one from the flag of the Jolly Roger?  Yarrr!

A pirate walked into a bar...

So a pirate walked into a bar, and the bartender said, "Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible."

"What do you mean?" said the pirate, "I feel fine."

"What about the wooden leg? You didn't have that before."

"Well," said the pirate, "We were in a battle, and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I'm fine now."

The bartender replied, "Well, OK, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?"

The pirate explained, "We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off. I got fitted with a hook but I'm fine, really."

"What about that eye patch?"

"Oh," said the pirate, "One day we were at sea, and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up, and one of them crapped in my eye."

"You're kidding," said the bartender. "You couldn't lose an eye just from bird crap."

"It was my first day with the hook."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Man Rules - Humor

Ladies, listen up. 

There's a lot of sense in this one.  It was sent to me and I laughed out loud when I first read it and I'm smiling as I re-read it today.

On the other hand, the one I disagree completely about is the toilet seat thing.   If you leave the seat up, the dog will drink from the bowl.  If you are in my house, put the seat and the lid down.

Damn... I wonder where that came from?

The Man Rules
At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down

Finally , the guys' side of the story.
( I must admit, it's pretty good.)
We always hear " the rules" From the female side....

Now here are the rules from the male side.

These are our rules! Please note.. these are all numbered "1 "

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports, It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.  Let it be.

1.. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work!
Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work!
Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.  Not both.  If you already know best how to do it , just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle..

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really .

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as Football or Hockey.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this.

Pass this to as many men as you can - to give them a laugh.

Pass this to as many women as you can - to give them a bigger laugh.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Buttermilk or not Buttermilk

Mom and Dad didn't Bake. 
My sister Pat only baked a few things.  I'm thinking fondly about my sister's Irish Soda Bread that we had after she had Home-Ec at school.   She made it for a good while then we all moved onto other things.

I baked more than the rest, but there was always something else to do.

Now that it is the Holiday Season, it is the Baking Season for me and I'm finding myself looking critically at my recipes.  After all, it has to be fairly sturdy to make the 1200 mile trip to New Jersey.  I can't make things that spoil at "room temperature", even if that room is the back of a USPS truck in a late Autumn temperature band. 

That leaves out un-canned Jellies and Jams.   Mostly cookies and candies, which are always well received.

The breads I make are fine but by the time they churn through 5 to 7 days in the box from the Post, they'd be stale.

That also leaves out my biscuits.

My biscuits are made completely from scratch.   While I don't grind my own self-rising flour, I do churn my own butter and use it along with the buttermilk to make the biscuits.  Got a food processor?  Add a pint of whipping cream to it, turn it on with the cutter blade, and walk away for about 5 minutes.   You will end up with some of the worlds best unsalted butter and a pool of buttermilk.

The thing is that there are at least three different kinds of buttermilk.

The stuff that is leftover from the churning has lumps of butter floating in it unless you strain it is the good stuff.  For baking purposes, a little extra butterfat is always welcome.  If you taste that stuff, it is rather bland.  Think of skim milk that has been skimmed again until almost all of the taste is gone.

That is the "Original" Buttermilk.  That stuff is wonderful in making recipes that call for it, but it is very hard to get at the stores unless you know a friendly farmer's wife.   Or me I guess.

So what do you do if you really need the stuff?

The buttermilk you find in the stores is a thick clumpy brew.  More like Yogurt, it's also quite sour.  That is the kind of buttermilk that most recipes actually expect you to use for the acidic tang. 

I wouldn't recommend drinking it because our tastes don't really go for that sour taste these days.  I tried it once and found it ... vile.

So what do you do if you're baking, have a recipe that calls for Buttermilk and don't feel like hitching up the horse and buggy to go to the local farmer's market?

  • Take one cup of milk.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Allow to "brew" for at least 5 minutes.

The vinegar will change the taste depending on what you are making.   If it is to be a sweet recipe, try Balsamic vinegar.  

Luckily there is no need for buttermilk in the cookies I'm planning on making.  There is a need for butter so it gives me an excuse to use up that last bit of cream that is in the refrigerator.  Better to make butter instead of making whipped cream!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Haunting in my Florida Room

Got Wifi?  Check.
Got a computer that needs updating?  Check.
Frustrated with a potential of a 6 hour download?  Check.

Time to migrate.

The open high speed Ethernet in the house is in the Florida room.  In case you live outside of Florida, it's still a Florida Room if it has windows all around but is fully enclosed.  I used to hear them called Solarium, but in this case since I am in Florida...

The problem with mine is that it isn't as well insulated as it could be.  Beautiful exposed wood stained chocolate brown, single pane jalousie windows that look out through the Bougainvillea to the swimming pool, and screens when the weather is nice.  That's about 8 or 9 months of the year here.

I picked up the computer, plugged it in, and the thing immediately went fast.  Oooo!  Speedy!  That 5 hours went to 15 minutes. 

That is just enough time for the mind to wander while the vagarities of the internet, the process of updates, and the newness of sitting in the room for the first time in a long time came to me.

In other words, bored.   It was past 10 at night and I wanted to look at something funny.  Turning on the TV that serves as a 32 inch monitor for the computers at my desk, I failed to find something funny since channel surfing found a lot of Spanish Language programming and Saturday Night Live.

Holiday Themed Sketches with Will Farrell dressed as a giant elf are funny for about 3 minutes and 43 seconds exactly.

All the while, I heard tapping, tapping at my chamber door.

What's that?


I looked up for the accursed Raven and didn't see one through the windows.   Note to self: Time to clean the windows.

Went back to Weekend Update on Wednesday Night and saw "Uncle Drunk" acting incoherent when there was more tapping at my chamber door.

This time I pulled out the big guns.   Went hunting for the flashlight that would better be described as a weapon.   It puts out a 75 watt light into a beam the thickness of a pencil.  Do Not Look Directly Into The Light, Carol Ann!

No Raven.
No Iguana.
Not even a disturbed Tree Rat.

I did hear the constant Tick Tick Tick of the Quartz Clock when I decided to switch off the TV.  That was about all until...

Tap Tap Tap.  

The only other possibility that it could be was...

RAIN!  For the first time in three weeks!

All is well, the rain sounds like a Raven, my dear Edgar Allan Poe.  Funny how the mind wanders!

Sitting in the same room 12 hours later in the sun, and looking at the windows that need attention, things are a little more settled in my little patch of Tropical Paradise.   Wind Chimes making music on the breeze, sun reflecting off the water making patterns on the chocolate wood, and a pigeon coming by for the daily visit to my own Oscar the Parrot. 

All is right with the world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If you can't groom your best friends, who can you groom?

This morning, I committed a grievous offense.

Waking well before dawn, as seems to be habit, my feet touched the floor, or as close to the floor as I could.  I tried quietly to grab my socks from their spot on my shoes next to the bed but then she was on me.  

Dark in the predawn hour, she was a flash of black and grey,  a wet nose on my knee as I slipped the one sock onto my foot.  Yes, my faithful sidekick had slept with one eye open awaiting the time where I'd be ready to be here to entertain her. 

My Dog Lettie.

Just turned 12, as best we know, she moves stiffly when she wakes but still spry enough to be excited when she sees me move from one spot in the house to another.   What's Next Dad! is what she seems to be saying, ready for all comers.

We moved into the bathroom, as soon as she got her invitation, and I closed the door.

I went about my morning ablutions, half awake, thinking of nothing but the morning haze as the phone went about its business of turning itself on and gathering up the information I needed to decide how to dress for the day.  

Absentmindedly I looked down at my mostly black companion and thought that she needed some loose fur groomed.  There were, shudder, little clumps of grey undercoat that were loose and needed tending to!

So half awake, I reached down and began to remove them.   Pluck is too strong a word, more like coax them out of her thatch.

This was when she turned from the friendly sweet dog we all know and love to ... Cujo.

Too well mannered to act on her extreme displeasure of the indignity of the act, she started by breathing heavily.  That escalated quickly.

Breathing became a low rumble.
The lips curled away to show still sharp teeth.
The low rumble turned into a throttled breath and a growl to bring fear in the heart of a lesser man.

Through all of this I was busily removing some of the unneeded disconnected undercoat and gathering it up to be placed into the little painted bamboo trash can kept for just such emergencies.

She was, decidedly, unhappy with the action.

Finishing up, I left the little room, the little trashcan with a chihuahua sized pile of fur in the bottom, and the little door was opened.   Out like a shadow in the dark escaped the herding dog to the open prairies of the living room.

Signing to her that she needed to go out and water the grass, she sheepishly looked at me and ambled outside to do her business.

Later during her official walk, she kept well out to the end of the leash, wary of another evil grooming session.  You see that was only one of the haunches that was cleared of loose fur. 

Groom all you want, we can make more!

By the time we got back all was forgotten.   She was back to begging for scraps of Bagel with Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese, Fruit from the Oatmeal, and wondering why I was perfuming the backyard with roasting coffee.  We're back to being best friends again. 

If you can't groom your best friends, who can you groom?