Monday, April 30, 2012

A Small Sign of Things Working In Wilton Manors

After having someone who does not live in Wilton Manors whine at me about things that are wrong, I had a situation that proved to me that that sort of negativity is really pointless.

That is why the picture of the stop sign.

You see, living here in Wilton Manors, just like any other place, you get a vastly different view of how things work than someone who is a tourist or has a business.  Tourists look at things and either have almost all positive or all negative views, never terribly accurate.  Businesses have an amplified view of the negatives of a given area, and usually there is one specific issue that set them on the long downward spiral of turning on an area - and again, are never terribly accurate.

We residents are the ones who have to live with the mess of the tourists, and the disruption of the businesses, and generally are the ones that set the rules.  If a city doesn't work well, it's probably due to the residents not paying attention.  Eventually those who don't work get noticed and those politicians get rolled out.

I have a strongly positive impression of City Government here in Wilton Manors.  Being on the Board of Wilton Manors Main Street, I hear many of the complaints of the businesses, and the plans for the future, and sometimes get to hear some news a little before most.  I also get to speak with some of the business owners and some of the City department heads.

Again, after all is said and done, I have a strongly positive impression of City Government here.  After all, how many cities can you "Walk Through" your permitting for building changes and expedite things yourself?  It is possible to get "Personal Service" that a city not much larger than we are cannot hope to give.

I had that driven home to me last night. 

We were out with Mrs Dog for a wander around town before bed.  There's an intersection near me that needed to have stop signs put on it and the neighbors lobbied for it.  There was some push back from a particular whiny group of people who didn't see the people flying down that block after they left the bars and after hearing the stories about drunk drivers crashing into trees, the City Commission approved the three way stop sign for that intersection - much to the relief of the residents nearby.

Last night, around 10PM we noticed that one of the signs was down.   People were assuming no sign, no yield, and were back to flying through the intersection at unsafe speeds. 

The suggestion was made to email the Director of Public Services, David Archacki, since we knew him.  Of course, this being the smartphone era, Kevin immediately did so, while walking into a wet palm tree. 

I shrugged and laughed and didn't think too much about it until this morning's 6AM dog walk.  When I rounded that corner again, the sign was still down.  You really don't expect anything to happen at 6AM on a Monday morning, so I walked on home.

At 830 after Kevin left for work, I get a call saying there was a temporary sign out on the corner.  That's the one you see on the top of this post.

So once again, I'm pleasantly surprised at how efficient things can be here.  Thanks, Dave, we really do appreciate your work.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Puns and One Liner Weekend - So Called Humor - Part 2!

Yep, I promised you yesterday that there would be more puns and one liners.   It was too long a list to post in one batch so the rest of them are here today.

Badump-bump!  Here's part two!

...I do not enjoy computer jokes .
Not one bit .

I changed my i Pod name to Titanic .
It's syncing now .

When chemists die...
They barium .

Jokes about German sausage...
Are the wurst .

I know a guy who got addicted to brake fluid .
But said he could stop any time .

How does Moses make his tea ?
Hebrews it .

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went.
Then it dawned on me .

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club,
but I'd never met herbivore .

A guy got arrested for playing the guitar.
For fingering A minor .

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity .
I can't put it down .

I did a theatrical performance about puns .
It was a play on words .

They told me I had type A blood ,
but it was a Type- O.

A dyslexic man...
Walks into a bra .

PMS jokes aren't funny.
Period .

Why were the Indians here first ?
They had reservations .

Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory .
I hope there's no pop quiz .

The Energizer bunny was arrested .
Charged with battery .

I didn't like my beard at first .
Then it grew on me .

How do you make holy water ?
Boil the hell out of it !

Did you hear about the cross eyed teacher who lost her job?
Because she couldn't control her pupils ?

When you get a bladder infection,
urine trouble .

What does a clock do when it's hungry ?
It goes back four seconds .

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Puns and One Liner Weekend - So Called Humor

Ok, this weekend, I have a LONG list of one liners for you.   Perfect to hand to a kid, they'll keep them entertained for a while... and you'll be hearing them repeated over and over.

Oh and speaking of repeats, since it was SO long a list, I will be doing part two tomorrow. 

So get your Black and White and Read all over newspapery kind of joke fix right here!  
(Yeah that was a lousy one wasn't it?)

You can thank or blame Kevin for this one!

Let the puns begin!

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger .
Then it hit me !

Broken pencils...
Are pointless .

I tried to catch some fog .
I mist.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary ?
A thesaurus .

England has no kidney bank,
but it does have a Liverpool .

I used to be a banker,
but then I lost interest .

I dropped out of communism class.
Because of lousy Marx .

All the toilets in a New York police station were stolen .
The Police have nothing to go on .

I got a job at a bakery.
Because I kneaded dough .

Haunted French pancakes...
Give me the crepes .

Velcro -
What a rip off !

Cartoonist found dead in home .
Details are sketchy .

Venison for dinner ?
Oh deer !

Earthquake in Washington D.C.
Obviously the government's Fault .

I used to think I was indecisive,
but now I'm not so sure .

Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't Break In New Shoes On A Long Dog Walk

When I was skating, I was always prepared for this sort of thing.  You see, I skated 21,000 miles over the time I had been in the sport.  Some of my workouts were more than 50 miles, and 100 Mile Weeks were the rule, not the exception during "Season" - April to November.

I had my bag that had as much as a half gallon of water in it, more snacks than some folks would have in a full meal, the iPod, and surgical tape.  When you're on the trail for 3 or 4 hours, you had a lot of things to get you where you needed to go.

I could have used that surgical tape today.   That was the thought that had crossed my mind as I ducked under the red arrow that had "ART" written across it in bold white letters.

My morning dog walks can be quite long.  This one was going to be a mile and a half, and I realized it was going to take longer on the clock as I started cutting the route short.

I had broken out a fresh pair of black sneakers for this walk.  The old ones were quite worn through and were sitting in the bedroom, the better part of a mile away. 

By the time I got to City Hall, the dog had gotten so she was pulling me along.  Strange thing to happen when your dog is over 11 years old.  She's just too well trained to do that as a rule.  I think she thought she was helping me "get up the hill". 

"Silly Dog."

I told her that in front of the entrance to the Police reception area of City Hall as I moved on toward the eventual destination. 

She knows me better than I suspect sometimes.  I get glimpses of another dog-life as a guide dog that she could have had when she stops at the stoplight as it's turning yellow.  As I get to go, she spots a car and blocks me from crossing when the light changes to green as yet another lousy South Florida Driver makes a left turn off Wilton Drive without signals - "Oh, good morning officer, late for duty again?"

Another Gap Mouthed Dog Smile as we trundle over the crosswalk and towards The Gables.

Thinking that "Silly Dog" was a pet name, she looked up, smiled that Gap Mouthed Dog Smile we all know, and squinted her eyes in some cartoonists impression of what a contented dog should look like and then went onwards.

Great looking shoes though.  I'll try them again when the blister heals.  Anyone have some Moleskin?  I'll be fishing the old ones out of the trash for a couple days reprieve.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

So, what's the weather like?

I was looking around at some web search statistics earlier.  The amusing thing about it was that in every city I would stumble across at random that had statistics published for web searches, the Weather was in the top ten.

That particular picture is the current radar out of Miami centered just off the shore near my house.

I guess I'm not the only person out there that checks the radar before leaving the house.  I've been caught outside way too many times not to do that, and down here, getting caught in the rain can be an entertaining thing.  From just a mild mist, to a downpour that the shower in the bathroom would struggle to keep up with, then to brilliant sunshine all in the span of a minute.

Welcome to Florida, if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes, it may change.

Oh, here's the same picture for Philadelphia since this was originally a blog that I was writing to chat with my sister and family up there.

How I got that was to go to, add in my zip, or that of Cherry Hill, NJ, and click on the "View/Save this" link at the bottom of the page.  Much faster to go to the link directly than to monkey around with clicks and buttons when you're half asleep early in the morning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tweaking your Android Tablet or Phone for Speed with Cyanogen Mod

All the sudden I have ended up with an Android Phone and an Android Tablet.

I got the phone when I realized my old phone was a year past contract and beginning to fail.  Two more years with T-Mo, actually at this point around 18 months, and the phone was "Free".  So far, T-Mobile has been good to me, so I'm perfectly OK with that.

A friend in Atlanta was shopping.  Made an impulse purchase of a Nook Color e-book reader and didn't like it.  He was commiserating with me about it and I suggested he try to load up the full Android operating system.  That was a challenge that took him about three afternoons of "playing around".  Once it was over, he had the idea of "Ok, now what do I do with Yet-Another-Tablet".   It ended up on the shelf, then in a box, and now resides in my house.

The reason why he gave it to me was that he has a newer Motorola Xoom that runs much faster.  It's a much smoother experience because it's like a V8 to my little Nook's 4 Cylinders.   The Nook is fine for what I do with it, and it was a nice surprise present.

Lately I had been reading up on the thing.  Seems like the hardware you have in a Nook Color is fine if you're just reading a book.  I'm using it with the full operating system and not something pared down.  Having loaded Cyanogen Mod 7 on the thing with all the Google Apps, it was doing what everyone seemed to notice, it was a bit laggy.   You'd swipe your finger across the screen and it wasn't quite as responsive as you'd like.   It felt like someone had slowed it down and I wasn't sure why.  Start the Browser and a Weather App and it would be almost painful to use.

After poking around under the hood, I noticed that Google Search, Tune In, and a few other programs were running from earlier after having dismissed them.  So to be fair I restarted the machine and noticed that Google Search and Tune In were back. 

If you have an Android Phone or Tablet, you probably have some of these "Widgets" running on your desktops.  iPads have 1 desktop, Androids have multiple, My tablet has six as does the phone.

A Widget is basically a program that runs on the device and on the desktop that does something someone felt was useful.  In the case of Android, they all have Google Search on the desktop and because it is a Widget, It runs constantly.  I got rid of that.  Hold your finger on a Widget for a few seconds and you can move it.  You can also drag it into the trashcan that appears helpfully on the top or bottom of the screen.

Google Search App went into the trash.  It's still there in my icon list of programs, just not started. 
I did the same thing for the TuneIn Widget and the Clock. 

Sure, search is useful, but I do have a browser for that and in the Post PC Era, we're all working from the browser anyway.  That's what Steve Jobs said, and many other "experts" did as well.   I'm repeating them here, if you live in a browser it doesn't matter what kind of computer you use to get to the web, does it?  That computer can be a clunky desktop, a sleek tablet, or a versatile laptop - it simply doesn't matter.

So now instead of having all those Widgets blinking at me, I now have a bare desktop that looks like something out of the box when you start Windows or Mac OSX.  A few icons, and a little control strip at the bottom of the screen.

Oh, it runs markedly faster, and markedly cooler.   You see if you aren't using the software, you don't need it eating up your battery or your processor. 

So the Helpful Hint is, if you don't need it, don't run it.  Drag the Widget off the screen and gain back some speed.  In my case it felt like another half speed on top of what I was doing.   I say felt because I'm not really interested in doing the whole benchmarking thing.

I tried the same thing on the phone, and not everything will drag off.  T-Mobile decided that the LG MyTouch needed all sorts of T-Mobile-centric software.  On a PC we call it Crapware.  I'll be searching for a way to uninstall that stuff later.  For now, Search is gone as well as a few other pages worth of "Chaff".

Remember, Touch and Hold brings up your pop-up menu and you can drag that Widget away so it won't run constantly on your tablet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can you wear headsets while driving?

Depends on where you live in the US or Canada.

I always assumed that it was flat out illegal.  Turns out that there are some US States that do not have a prohibition against it.  As I write this with music playing on my headphones, they're at a volume that you could carry on a complex conversation with me, but I don't think I'd want to try that while driving. 

On the other hand, I drive a Jeep Wrangler.   Wonderful car but once you get above 55 MPH with the roof off, and I do that every chance I can, hearing the radio or the person in the next seat is a chance thing.  These cars can be noisy, as in teeth rattlingly loud. 

There are many people who wear hearing aids, maybe because they drove a car with their radio habitually too loud.  Boom Cars come to mind.  You know the sort, some clown that removed the back seat of the car just to place Kicker Boxes with giant speakers in them larger than anyone would need in their home.  They crank the music up so loud that they vibrate the license plate on your car next to them at a stop light.  Too bad it won't stop them from having children.

I could legally buy a pair of seats that have speakers in the head rests.  In fact, if I had a spare $250 it would be worth it because it sometimes is necessary to drive the speed limit on the highway here in Florida, and the Turnpike is 70MPH all the way through the South Florida Sprawl.  Those little speakers next to your ears would be as dangerous as a pair of non sealed headsets or ear buds. 

When I rode my motorcycle, as a rule, I had earplugs in my ear.  Talk about loud!  I guess it's just lucky I never got caught.

At any rate, turn down the radio, leave the headphones to the passenger since it may shut them up so you can concentrate on your OWN driving, and turn off the cell phone.  It's not an office, it's not a beauty parlor, and it's not a restaurant.  It is a vehicle.  Be safe out there, the life you save may be mine.

If you want to check the list from AAA you can follow this link

In the meantime I think I'll turn down the music in here.  I can't hear the birds singing outside.

Monday, April 23, 2012

No More Bull In Wilton Manors - Picture

Over the weekend, the Rodeo came to town.  In this case, Wilton Manors hosted the after-parties for the Gay Rodeo that was held down in Davie at the Bergeron fairgrounds.

Every year they hold their festivities, then come on up here and I guess if they're not competing in whatever games that are going on the next day, they come by for a drink.

Thing is that it was a wet weekend here.  It rained each day over the weekend, sometimes quite hard.  So we had fewer cowboys running around in their boots than last year, and less stray cowboy hats sitting around abandoned.  It seems an early start to the wet season.

The bull sat looking deflated, Sunday morning, early.  After all nobody was around to ride the thing at 7 in the morning and it was missing a horn.  Nothing worse than a bull missing a horn.

Later that afternoon, the party warmed up and there were folks out chatting and having a good time, and the bull did get used before being carted away around 9:30 that night.

I guess even cowboys don't like to get all that wet either.  No answer as to whether Pudding was served.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gentle Thoughts for the day - Humor

Velma is sharing some gentle thoughts for the day on aging.  If you look at anything from the right angle, you can always find a benefit in it.  In this case she may be hanging upside down from some gravity boots.

Gentle Thoughts for Today

Birds of a feather flock together ... and then poop on your car.

A penny saved is a government oversight.

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

He who hesitates is probably right.

Did you ever notice: The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are XL.

If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame..

The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble..

Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words 'The' and 'IRS' together it spells 'Theirs...'

Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.

When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your youth, think of Algebra.

You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable..

Saturday, April 21, 2012

To Do List - Humor

I have a staggeringly simple To Do List today.  It was sent to me by Kevin.  I think he's planning to get me in trouble!

To Do List :
1: Buy 4 Pigs
2: Paint numbers 1,2,3 and 5 on their backs
3: Release them in the Supermarket.
4: Sit back watch Security search for #4

Friday, April 20, 2012

Two Cycle Engine Repair - Replacing A Primer Bulb on a Homelite Trim 'n Edge

When I found a two cycle string trimmer, or weed whacker, on the side of the road on Bulk Trash Day here, I picked it up.  It needed some care, but the fact is that two cycle gas powered equipment is so simple, I wanted to try to repair it.  It now sits in my shed waiting for the next time I need to do some yard work and it works perfectly.

My new-to-me trimmer is a Homelite Trim 'n Edge trimmer, model number UT20004B but the reality is that the vast majority of trimmers are repaired in exactly the same way.  The parts are mostly interchangeable and the only reason why I bothered to write about such a simple repair is that nobody definitively said "Yes You Can Do It".  I did, it was successful, now head out to the shed and find your tools.  A Conglomerate, er, Holding Company bought them up a few years back and now they are owned by the same company that owns Ryobi and a few other well known brands.

Two Cycle motors are getting more rare since the Government mandated that they are not allowed to be produced and sold in the US.  The reason is that you have to add oil to the gasoline to lubricate the parts.  On the other hand, these motors are so tough that they'll be around for a while and you'll be replacing fuel lines, fuel tanks, and primer bulbs.

In this picture you see the primer bulb and the top of the carburetor.  Those two #2 Phillips Head screws hold the assembly down.  Remove them and that cracked bulb can be easily removed.  The plate that the screws hold down lifted up easily.

In this picture you see the old and new bulbs.  I picked up a "Variety Pack" at the big box hardware store, but they're fairly common.  The rubber or vinyl does degrade when the fuel mix hits it and after a few years, it will rot away.  The trimmer I have is a 6 year old machine and it took that long.  I'll be going through this again in 2017 if I still have it.

And finally to replace the bulb you put it back in the original position and tighten down the screws.  The entire job took me about 5 minutes to complete.   Seeing that it took me more than that to get to the Lowes on Oakland Park Boulevard in Oakland Park, it really was a non event.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Scorpions in the Garden?

I remember when I first visited Florida on my own, I was warned to shake out my shoes in the morning. 

You were told that they were rare but sometimes you can find a Scorpion in the house just like in that old article from the TV station.

I only ever saw a few of them, mostly on the first visit to Key West, and then they were dying as they floated into the skimmer of the swimming pool. 

Yes, Florida, a place named after Flowers by the Spanish has strange wildlife.  

We have flocks of Parrots that people have had escape.  I walk outside with the dog and can expect to hear noisy groups of Cherry Headed Amazons fly by.  I can whistle and call to Cockateils and they will call back.

Curly Tailed Lizards were here, and like the Iguanas, were frozen out of the trees on the last cold snap.  But they're back, and in my back yard as well.   They have an attitude too.  The little Geckos and Cuban Brown Anoles that entertain me with their dewlap that is a red and brown checkered flag will scatter if you get too close.  No teeth either so if they're threatened the worst you can get is a good, sound, gumming.

The Everglades have escaped Ball Pythons that are threatening native species because they are so prolific and aggressive.  Luckily they aren't in my yard, the Black Racers are though so I have to watch for those when I attack the brush with the weedeaters.

The Black Racers are very timid and will race away if they spot you so they're harmless unless cornered.  They are native, just like the Scorpions.

I had thought that we didn't have Scorpions here in Wilton Manors, but apparently it's only because I'm not looking for them.  I have spotted exactly one since I have moved here.  That was one day, one Scorpion, and it lived in the gap under the sidewalk near the shopping center.

Yes, they're here even if I'm not able to find them, and I don't particularly want to find them.  A lobster is one thing, they can pinch but won't sting.  A Scorpion will sting with the power of five bees, and I'm terrified of bees.  The rest of the critters, I'm fine with, but a beehive will send me running.

Never did like bees.  Nasty little...

I'm not completely sure why all the sudden Scorpions are being mentioned by people I know.  Maybe it's just the circle of friends I have.  I've been hearing folks tell me to watch for them and are wringing hands about maybe possibly getting stung.  Personally, I haven't seen one in over 3 years so I'm more amused than concerned.  But next time as I am outside enjoying the Florida Sun, and the Florida Florid Plants, I've got to look to make sure I'm not stepping on a Scorpion.  I hear they can get aggressive too. 

Just as long as they leave the dog alone.  They're welcome to those nasty looking toads that will poison things too... they come out when the rains hit but luckily they just stand there looking stupid.   You usually see those pounded into leather on the pavement by a passing Toyota.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Diesel Powered Earwig And the Chevy Volt

This morning when I was going through all the mail from all the various accounts I had, and deleting out all those spam from Canadian Pharmacies that seem to exist only as a scam, I stumbled across a comment on one of my earlier posts. 

I had written here about a picture of a Chevrolet Volt being charged up in Fort Lauderdale at a wall socket.  There was a comment at the bottom about Chevy releasing an SUV in India based on the same technology. 

Good idea but does everyone need an SUV?  Sure, they're roomy and all, but everyone does not need one.  If we did, we'd all be driving one.

I do think it is an interesting application of technology but I am left with two problems with it from a "functional" view.

First, the biggest problem that it has is that big battery pack.  It's big, it's expensive, and you are carrying along a giant pile of batteries resembling the sale bin just before the Xmas shopping binge.  You need a lot of D cells to power your toys and many of those packs are similar - a lot of commodity rechargeable batteries wired together.  Get into an accident, they will burn if the pack is broken in the right way.  The other problem with that battery pack is that they wear out.  Cells will wear out after a couple hundred to a couple thousand charges.  The packs are typically not built to be repaired.  Where do the packs go after they've been worn out?  Recycle what you can and landfill the rest.  Not great, but better than the pollution of all of that gasoline.

Second the Volt has a gasoline motor to run the generator to top off the battery pack.  It isn't a large motor, only a 1.6 Liter.  It isn't used to drive the car until it gets into conditions of high speeds or heavy load.  Since it is a generator, you want to have the smallest motor that is available to do the job.  The higher the efficiency of the motor, the lower your fuel consumption would be.

That raises the question:  Why a 1.6 Liter Gasoline Motor? 

Why not Diesel?

Volkswagen has an effective comparison in their offerings.  Using the US Government's numbers, you can ask why is it that we're using a Gasoline engine at all?  Typically, and those figures bear out the rule of thumb, for the same size motor, a given Diesel motor will be 1/3 more efficient than a given Gasoline model.  Bearing in mind that the power output of a Diesel is slightly different (More Torque vs Horsepower), they are effectively interchangeable, especially when you have a turbocharger on them. 

So if you have a 95MPG Equivalent Volt, would that mean that dropping in a Diesel motor will you get 130 MPG?  Perhaps.  The EPA is notoriously inaccurate in measuring the MPG of a Diesel car.  That Jetta that is rated at 30MPG regularly gets 40MPG in real world numbers.  It is a "Clean Diesel", which means if you were standing behind it, you may notice a slightly different smell but it wouldn't coat you with soot like the older cars may have. 

If you drive it gently, a Jetta TDI has been seen to give 50MPG on the highway.  In the Hypermiler communities, it raises the question of whether you need a hybrid at all.  The real world numbers of a Jetta TDI tend to be almost as good as and in some cases better than that of the darling of the Green World, the Toyota Prius. 

So press releases aside, because that comment in my older posting reads like one, I still am confused as to why we don't have more Diesel in this country.   The memories of the old Oldsmobile 98 Diesel are still out there, but fading.  It's time we bury that, and move on.  With $4 a gallon gas and the prediction of gas hitting $5 a gallon before the end of this year, this country needs every extra MPG it can get. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ode to a Weedwhacker

I was out back repairing a gas powered weed-whacker and realized that it's probably my favorite outdoor tool. 

I'm sitting here in bits of weeds, bougainvillea, and coleus clippings, smelling slightly of gasoline and sweating but it's fine. 

You see it saves me a lot of time.  Manual tools have their use in a yard, but if you know what you're doing, you can replace many of those tools or at least supplement them with a snarling and smelly handheld beast.

I went out to replace a primer bulb and of course had to test the thing out.

Since the motor started almost immediately, I then could have switched it off or finished what I had started the day before with the tool. 

Before I was through, I had edged the pool deck, trimmed bougainvillea and podocarpus, got rid of some Virginia Creeper, and got rid of some of those sticky seed weeds that were growing out of my banana tree's pot. 

They will all be back, we're going into the wet season.

Oh and Since Your Mileage May Vary, I would say trimming trees with a weed-whacker is truly one of those things that you Should Not Try At Home... although you will and at your own risk.

I have two gas powered ones.  The first was given to me and after a lot of effort I got it to work fairly well even if it is stubborn to start.  This other "newer" one was one that I got off of a trash pile on "Bulk Pickup Day".  I found out why it was there shortly after getting it home.

In the last two days, I have replaced the gas tank, the primer bulb, and broke the pull start handle.   Seems to me that Homelite was using the wrong plastic when they made it.  "It" is a Trim 'n Edge™ – UT20024B.  Homelite doesn't even exist since they got bought up by a company that also owns Ryobi in the interim, but for a 6 or 7 year old tool, I'm happy.

It worked fine!  I was out there using the monster in an "off-label" manner and having fun.  The reason I came in was that the pull start handle had broke.  The yard looks fine, and the gasoline will wash out in the shower.

That reminds me... time to get cleaned up.  If you will excuse me...

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Cat Is Why You Need A Dedicated Camera

Maybe I am a "Demanding User".  Maybe my needs are greater than the average bear, but I just don't see how this is a good picture.

No, the photographer wasn't me, and I'm not blaming him.  The problem was that it was taken with an iPhone 4 camera.

Iphone Cameras in general have a reputation of being "too blue" in the color balance.  If you like having your people looking Smurfy, an iPhone is for you. 
I was playing around with my pictures, looking for inspiration for this particular posting, and I found this cat sitting on the post near my house sleeping.  I'm not zoomed in deeply and the picture was of adequate size.  In fact, this picture is the same size of this laptop that I'm working with, roughly.  1200x800. 

I grabbed the segment and cut out the excess, and pasted it into the tool I use to make the captions and realized that I was looking at an impressionist painting.  Nice effect if you intend to have it. 

The reason it came out so fuzzy was because the camera on any given phone does not have a proper lens to do its focusing.  They are a "fixed focus" lens which means you can't zoom in unless you use software to clip out parts of the picture, then make the picture larger using software.  A normal focusing "zoom lens" will allow you to get a crisp picture until you get to the end of the lens' reach.  At that point, my camera at least, will start doing this "Digital Zoom" effect and you start to get the fuzzies.

I'll keep the phone in the pocket waiting on a call.  I guess that means, I've got to make sure that the real camera is in the other pocket.   Lucky thing that Cargo Shorts are somewhat in style in South Florida.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Amen - Humor

I can TOTALLY see this discussion.  I guess it's one of those things, balance in all things is best.   So thanks to Diane for this one, I got a chuckle out of it when I read it the first time, and a nice broad smile when I read it just now.



A  pastor's wife was expecting a baby, so he stood before the  congregation and asked  for a raise.  After much discussion, they passed a rule that whenever the pastor's family  expanded; so would his paycheck.

After 6  children, this started to get expensive and the congregation decided to hold another meeting to  discuss the pastor's expanding salary.  A great deal of yelling and inner bickering ensued, as to how much  the pastor's additional  children were costing the church, and how much more it could potentially  cost.

After listening to them for about an  hour, the pastor rose from his chair and spoke,"Children are a gift from God, and we will  take as many gifts as He gives us."

Silence  fell over the congregation.

In the back pew, a little old lady struggled to stand, and  finally said in her frail  voice, "Rain is also a gift from God, but when we get too much of it, we wear  rubbers."

The entire  congregation said, "Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Proofreading is a Dying Art - Humor

Velma has sent me another gem.  We've all read headlines in newspapers that had us scratching our heads, and here's a list of them!

Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn't you say?

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day.

I just couldn't help but send this along. Too funny.
Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
Really? Ya think?

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that's taking things a bit far!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
Ya think?!

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thought!

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain;Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren't they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That's what he gets for eating those beans!
---------------- ---------------------------------

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is....
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Did I read that right?

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Chevrolet Volt in Fort Lauderdale

Here is something you don't see everyday and that's really quite a shame in my mind.

It's a Chevrolet Volt, and if you look at the front wheel you'll notice that there is an electric cord plugged into the car. 

The Volt is a next generation hybrid car.  It runs off of electric fully until the car is going faster than 70MPH, then the gas motor kicks in and helps it out.  The batteries are what drives the electric motor, and the electric motor is usually being used as a generator.  You can even use the car's motor generator to power your house in an emergency.

Ok, I'll admit it, I'm a car geek.  If I were to get a car, and had money to throw at it, this would be the one.  For just about everyone out there, this car would not have to use gasoline to get around.  You would drive it home at the end of your day, plug it into the wall, and by the morning you'd have a full battery pack to get you where you need to go for a normal commute.   If your batteries ran flat, the gas motor would kick in and get you where you are headed.

If your gas motor never kicked in, you're driving an electric car.  The pollution doesn't go away of course, you've shifted that to the power plant that supplies the electricity to your home or place of business.  If we had solar panels on the roof like we were all promised we'd have by now, that would mean free power and no pollution.  All that takes money, and the infrastructure is not quite there yet, not even in South Florida, but since the United States has the largest Alternative Energy market in the world, we're on our way.

Considering that an electric motor is 90% efficient in producing power where a gasoline motor is at best 50%, GM's claims of getting 90MPG in a traditional sedan is certainly plausible.  Just don't turn on the heater.

Until we get all this straightened out, you can just think about this lucky person who is filling up their gas tank, er Battery Pack, on the office's dime!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm Bill and I have Digital OCD!

Hi Bill!

Last night Joanna Lumley told me that I had Digital OCD.  I was sitting in a meeting and from my pocket my cellphone announced to the quiet room "You've Got Post!".

I smiled and said, "Thank you, Joanna" and pretended it was a normal event.  Half of the room had noticed, the rest didn't.

10 years ago, it would have been the height of rudeness to have an electronic device announce that you have post!, email.  Now everyone seems to think it is normal if you get a message once in a while and brush it off.

I have joined the Digital, Always On, age, firmly.

I can't walk the dog without having the phone turned on in my pocket.  More than half of the mornings when I am out with the dog in the pre-dawn hours I hear Joanna announce to the neighborhood that I have post!  I simply laugh to myself and wander onward and nudge the dog from her sniffing.

The room divider between the living room and the dining room has become a charging station between the Android Phone, Android Tablet, iPhone, Bluetooth headset, as well as other assorted electronic detritus.

After all, if you've got the phone on charge, you've got to get to the thing in case you miss a call, right?

When I first got the Android Phone, Joanna was much busier.  I made the mistake of "taking advantage" of the phone being always on.  I added all my email accounts to the list for the thing to watch.  Add to my professional account, my personal account, the account for the various organizations that I am the Webmaster for, and the account that I put my spam on, and it got to be too much. 

One by one, the accounts dropped off until only the professional account was left.  Now Joanna is less of a nag, and more of a Siren, asking for my attention and warning me that I am about to miss something important.  After all, you would want to know if your little boat was about to hit the rocks, Odysseus!

A slightly mixed metaphor, perhaps.

It's a habit I had on the PC as well.  I run a program called "Pidgin" that ties together various chat networks such as AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and MSN Instant Messenger.  It also checks your mail from various services.  It was sounding off so frequently that while writing this article, I had conveniently forgotten that I had it turned off. 

Plausible Deniability? Perhaps, but it took much less time to write this posting than usual. 

Yes, it's an efficient day.  Sometimes you have to step away from the "help" to get the work done!  Joanna is on duty to help me get through the most important items, the rest can take a small step back.  After all, life is about balance and moderation. 

You wouldn't want to walk into a bear while texting would you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Training the Dog to Hate Peanut Butter

Pretty difficult task isn't it?  Teaching the dog how to hate peanut butter?  I think I've learned how.

You see Mrs Dog is incredibly smart.  In her younger days, we'd ask her questions and she'd follow through with the results.  "Show Me" wasn't Missouri, it was an invitation by us to have her show me what she wants.  When I moved from Philly to South Florida, the first thing we had done with her was to teach her the neighborhood by going out in a general direction and say to her "OK, Go Home". 

She never got lost.  She'd get us home every time.

Tricking her to take her pills was not too difficult when it was a random thing.  She was always a very healthy dog, just toss the pill over your shoulder and she'd scramble for it.  The pill would be gone in a bite.

She has a taste for Glucosamine.  The capsules are white, filled with a powder, and slightly sweet.  She actually bites down on them and scatters Glucosamine all over my kitchen floor, typically right after I have mopped it.

Now that she's older, pills are a daily occurrence.  Twice daily for the Glucosamine, twice daily for the thyroid hormones.  I can usually get her to take the thyroid pill by treating it as a treat.  She'll do a trick, then get the pill, give me a dirty look, then spit it out and of course eat it off the floor again.

There goes the Dining Room floor.

Lately she had a flare up.  We thought it was due to her thyroid medications giving her a reaction.  Her skin got dry and flaky, and she was scratching almost constantly.  After taking her back to the vet, we came home with weaker thyroid meds and some Antibiotics that we were to give her twice daily.

Great!  More Pills!  Lets do a dance around the microwave!

Why the microwave dance?  She decided she didn't like the Antibiotics after the second dose.  First it was sneak it in with the food, then that didn't work, she would eat around the pill and spit it out.   Forgetting that she still had teeth, I slipped the pill in the side of her jaw and tickled her throat.  She swallowed it but hated the experience.

Now for the heavy guns.  Peanut butter!  

The last time she had seizures, she lived on the stuff.   Peanut butter on a saltine with a steroid pill happily hidden deep under all that brown goo.  She ate them and didn't think twice.

Grabbing the butter knife, I would get a dollop of peanut butter, drop an Antibiotic on it, then roll it around like a little ball and then encrust it in dog food.   Sure!  That would fool her!

Guess again pal!  You see My Best Friend would bite down and have antibiotic flavored peanut butter now in her mouth. She'd swallow part, spit out the rest, then try to eat the food that wasn't "polluted" with antibiotics.

Time for another change in plans I guess.  Glucosamine and Thyroid meds on the food, antibiotics will have to be done separately. 

Luckily it's less than another week of this.  Her skin is mostly cleared now.  She's scratching approximately as much as she did before all this coincidental nonsense hit. 

When I reach for the Peanut Butter jar, she isn't begging nearly as much as she had been.   I guess today would be a good day to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  I have a jar of Lemon Curd in the refrigerator plus one to spare, as well as a Cinnamon Raisin roll... Maybe I can have that without having a wet nose in the middle of my lunch?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ikea Koncis Can Opener Torture Test

Yes, it failed.  Spectacularly failed.  Like in one of those memes with a big FAIL in white using the "Impact" font. 

You see, I'm more than patient when it comes to gadgets of all kinds.  Kitchen Gadgets should work first time, every time.  Simple machines shouldn't test your patience.  They shouldn't make you consider them an act of atrocity against all human kind.  A kitchen gadget should be function over form and not something that laughs at you in a Swedish-Chinese accent.

I'm very good at assembling those flat packed boxes you get at Ikea and other retailers.  Strange faceless figures that are meant to guide you in a cartoonish manner to put together a chair or a coffee table, book case or a computer desk.  All of those items I had successfully built in the past, but this simple appliance of a mechanical can opener called "Koncis" had me stumped.

Being a simple item, I even broke from writing this and tried to use the can opener to open a can of Pineapples in Juice.  Anyone want some?   Oh well, I suspect I'm going to be having them for lunch.

You see, I had tightened the one screw that holds the cutting wheel down as tight as my hands could make it.  The gears don't match.  The cutting blade shined at me as if to say that I wasn't up to the task.

Then I set it down and got out "Rusty" the old can opener.  We've had Rusty for more than a decade.  It works, flawlessly.  In fact when Rusty got rusty, I even oiled it with some rather tasty Extra Virgin Olive Oil and brought him back from the brink of the bin.  Yes, I was just about ready to throw out my old friend Rusty.

Rusty is a good friend, especially in an emergency.  Rusty is a lifesaver.  He will feed you by opening those hard to open cans and give you the treats in side when the power is out.  In South Florida, with the power infrastructure about as stable as a ring of lime green jello out doors on a hot day, it is a Survival Skill to find a friend like Rusty the Can Opener and keep him or her close. 

Rusty is such a good friend that his sister lives in the same drawer as he.

When I was back at Ikea, I saw this bin of shiny can openers and they spoke to me. "Vould yew like tew take one of uss home vit yew" I heard in a Swedish Chef Accent.   Mork Mork Mork, it followed up and said "Yew Need Us!".  It came home and we tried it excitedly.  No, sadly, Ikea, your Swedish Perfection and Style hasn't been taught to the Chinese who built this thing.  The Quality of Koncis is nowhere near as good as your Billy Bookshelves or your Husar Desk that I so prize.

So this taunting piece of Koncis kitchen crap is going to have one more duty before it ends up in the recycling bin.  It's going to be a wheel chock before I roll my Jeep over top of it.  I'll giggle derisively as I hear it crunch against the concrete ending its useful life.

"Mork Mork Mork" indeed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

AT&T Will Unlock Your Off Contract Phone Starting April 8 2012

Got an old iPhone laying around? 
Want it unlocked?

Ok, simply put, it has to be off contract or paid up. If you got the phone on a 2 year deal and there are still "months" left on your contract, cool your jets, this isn't for you. 

If you have the phone and paid an early termination charge, or you are past that 1 or 2 year deal that gave you the "discount" on your phone, you are good to go. 

AT&T will have a lot of people jumping on this today, so you're bound to be having trouble getting through.  All you need to do is ask them to unlock it, and be in "good standing". 

This will let you use your AT&T iPhone on T-Mobile, or just on AT&T as a backup, or anywhere else in the world that will use the GSM system such as T-Mobile in Europe and other places.

The official statement was all over the web, but you can read more at Endgadget at this link

Since I was given an iPhone that I basically use as a portable radio, I'll be unlocking mine in case something trashes my Android phone - that I actually like very much along with my T-Mobile account that, again, I actually like very much.  I just get more choice and isn't that what the free market is all about?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Did I Read That Right - Humor

Velma sent this one along.  Have you ever read a sign that said something but was phrased just a bit wrong?  This is usually found in "Stereo Instructions" or pasted to a door that is owned by someone who learned English as a second language, typically called Engrish.   These all read like they were written by natural English Speakers so we can all point and laugh.   Or perhaps just a bit of chuckling is called for!

Did I read that sign right?

In a Laundromat:

In a London department store:

In an office:

In an office:

Outside a secondhand shop:

Notice in health food shop window:

Spotted in a safari park:(I sure hope so)

Seen during a conference:

Notice in a farmer's field:

Message on a leaflet:

On a repair shop door:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Message to all Non-Pet Owners - Humor

I was looking around the floor the other day and thought that it was time to run the vacuum cleaner again.  There was a ball of fluff that was a combination of Dog Fur and Parrot Down rolling around in a small tight circle under the intake for the air conditioning in the house.

Then I read this particular posting that was sent to me by Kevin and smiled.   It's to nobody in particular.

I did get the vacuuming done though.  Can't stand having tumbleweeds in the hallway!

(1) They live here. You don't.
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't smoke or drink,
(7) don't want to wear your clothes,
(8) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(9) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
(10) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ....

Friday, April 6, 2012

Skype in a Small Start-Up

Back a few years ago, I was consulting for a small start-up company called WhatEver Productions.  The company ran its course and closed in 2009, but the experience was an interesting one that would grow into a CTO role for me.

Having left my job at Temple University where I was a Project Manager in order to eventually move to South Florida, I was looking for a part time gig to do while we were preparing the house for the move.  The house sold at the top of the market and in 2006 I moved to South Florida.

While I was doing that move, I was also doing some Webpage Quality Assurance.  Fancy words for you write it, I test it, and give you back my input.  We went back and forth with that and realized that we could eventually build this into a side business that would support the creation of a Musical.  Yes, a non traditional role for a traditional Project Manager.   This experience taught me some lessons of how to be completely flexible and how to build a technology base on a shoe-string budget.  Literally next to nothing.

As we assembled the executive team, we realized that there was only so much we could do on a collection of cell phones.  After all, if you want people to collaborate, you have to have a way to do the collaboration.  I came up with the solution.  Skype.

Skype is a number of things, but basically if you're a small business it puts a lot of power into your hands, and you could do it for the best price - free.  We were able to leverage the fact that everyone had computers, and while some had Macs, some had PCs, and yours truly even had Linux, they could all work.  It was the beginning of this Post PC era and we hadn't even realized that we had a name for it yet since Steve Jobs had not coined the phrase for another few years.

We used Skype to chat via text, make phone calls, make conference calls, whiteboarding, and even video calls.  Whiteboarding is just like in your conference room, you draw on your computer with mouse and the picture comes up on everyone else's computers, where ever they were.

The nice thing about it was that while it was free, it worked well.  Even back a few years ago when we had someone participating on a dial-up modem.  On cable internet speeds, you could get clean signals, on a dial-up line the signal was like an old school wired phone call. 

Using Skype, we tied together people here in Florida, Metro Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania hills, North New Jersey, and Manhattan into a cohesive unit.  It simply would not have been able for a bunch of people to hold meetings and rehearsals via cell phones. 

The software is still around.  Skype was bought by Microsoft recently and will be included as Microsoft Lync as a corporate product. Microsoft will be expanding the product and adding new features to try to win their market, but it already has the strength to do many of the things that you would expect a corporate phone system to contain. 

Another situation that Skype can solve is that of domestic or international calling via something then called "Skype Out - now called Skype Premium".  Skype Premium will allow you, for a fee of course, to be able to treat your computer as a phone.  The costs are much lower than the phone company for calls to specific countries, and there are limitations.  The upside of this is that you can also purchase the ability to run Skype as a phone domestically in multiple countries, including the US.  There may be cheaper alternatives for phone services, after all you have to keep some sort of computer or smart phone plugged in and turned on to the Skype network, but this one does allow you to do some of the things you'd expect from a phone service cheaper than most.

The Skype software allowed us to solve a very specific business need for a very small organization.  It let us do so for zero cost, and gave us the ability to progress past the two people we were for a while. 

Interesting experience indeed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How to Add Emails in Constant Contact

I get this question about twice a month.

"Hey, Bill!  I know you use Constant Contact for Wilton Manors Main Street, but how do you add new Email addresses?"

Actually it's dead simple and there are five ways to do it.

My best recommendation is that you should add them to a spreadsheet, and save that in Excel to an xls file.  It can also be saved as a text file or a csv but since Excel wants you to save as an xls file, that's the one to look for.

Why use Excel?  Simple, because that way you can use that tutorial I wrote yesterday to clean the data.  You can look for duplicates, sort it into alphabetic order, and it's easy to go through and eyeball it for any strange looking addresses.  Also, if you have it in an Excel Spreadsheet, it will be a fairly easy matter for you to compare it to the result you get when you add your email contact list.

If not, you can type them in directly, or paste them in from any program that supports copy and paste.  Right now when you go through the steps, Constant Contact will present you with a light box with a place for you to paste in or type a list, one after another, each one per line.   Since the method I used in that tutorial yesterday will result in a column of email addresses, I am going to assume you're going to use that program and method to get your list.  Simply highlight the column you need and CTRL+C to copy or right click and select copy from the dialogue pop up.

If you really hate Excel, you can also import them from your Gmail account or Outlook.  Those methods will pull everything down from those address books, so you may want to be very careful when you're through to get rid of any inappropriate addresses... which is a good rule to follow any time you do a large "import" like this.

Method 1:  Copy and Paste

Log into Constant Contact.  On the right there is a Contacts tab that will get you into the Contacts Management Page.  There is a helpful button labeled "Add & Update".  Click on the button and you will get to the page that I have pictured here. Since you have already copied into your clipboard the addresses you want from Excel, the next step is to paste them into the box labeled "Contact Email Addresses".

Place your mouse cursor inside the box, click on it, then you may right click and select "Paste" from the pop up, or simply "CTRL+V" to paste in your address list. 

Once your list is in the box, click on the handy "Next" button at the bottom of the window, or click cancel if you have something in there that does not belong so you may try again.

The next screen that is brought up is the New List dialogue.  You can add your email addresses to an existing list by selecting the box next to the list on the left, or enter in a new list name in the box that I have highlighted in red on this picture.

For this blog posting, I entered in "Test" and then clicked on the Save button.  After it added the list Test with no entries, then click the Submit button at the bottom of the screen.

You will then be returned to the Add and Update web page with the Success Message.  You can select that list to look at the email addresses that you just added to make sure you did everything correctly.

Method 2: Import from Excel

Since I have this email list posting from yesterday that says how to go about creating a sorted list, I'm going to use this list that I saved in an Excel xls file to directly import the email addresses.  There will be none of that Copy and Paste exercise, since Constant Contact will do all that heavy lifting for you.

  • In the Contacts Add and Update page, click on the blue Add and Update button.
  • Select the third tab on the panel for From A Spreadsheet.
  • Click on the "Browse" button. 
  • A "standard" Windows dialogue box will pop up (if you are on Windows) to allow you to select your Excel Spreadsheet.
  • When you find the spreadsheet, click next on the bottom of the page.

The next page allows you to tell Constant Contact which column in the spreadsheet has the important information.  Constant Contact will allow you to add names and addresses as well, so you have the opportunity to import more than just an email list. 

Since my Excel Spreadsheet only has an email address column, I selected "email address" on the column 1 select box, and then clicked the Next Button at the bottom of the page.

Constant Contact then gave me the "Where The Contacts will be Saved" page. 

You may add a new list by entering in the new list name in the area that I highlighted in red, or select an existing list.

If the list is good, you will get a Success message saying that your email addresses have been added to Constant Contact.

One thing to keep in mind:  If you are adding many email addresses using the Spreadsheet method, Constant Contact does the add on it's own schedule.  They may not show up immediately on your email list.  When I did it for this blog posting, I had to wait a few seconds before the imported spreadsheet showed up on its list.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Data Analysis - Sorting in Excel 2007

Have you ever made a long list of things and thought it would have been better if it were in a different order?

Basically, what you are doing there is called Data Analysis.  Don't let that big word scare you, we're going to learn how to do a sort in Excel.   You see, I had a client over and we were mangling big lists of emails for an invite to a party.  After deleting most of the emails, we had to put them into order to make sure that things weren't repeated.  If you sort them in A To Z order, that makes life a lot easier.

You'll be able to see quickly that you have 2 "Ramblingmoose" in the list, and while you can never have enough Ramblingmoose, there are times that two of that would be a problem.

So for this discussion I went to grab a list of foods.  It is actually from's food lists.  I didn't know you could order food from them but hey, everyone gets hungry.

As I was creating the list, I gave them all the "" address.  We all have to have an address right? 

I also added in a couple duplicate items so they would show up quickly.  You will see that there is more "food" than just one when I sort the list.

The list is in column A.  When you have added all the items that you will need, click on the "Data Tab" in the Control Ribbon. The Control Ribbon will change to give you all the items that Microsoft believes are appropriate, and you will see that there is a "Sort" button there.   I helpfully hovered over that so it was lit up orange for you to spot it easily.

Select the columns you want to include in your sort.  You can do that by clicking the Blue Box above the 1 in the first column to select your entire spreadsheet or just Click on the individual columns while holding down the Shift Key.

Click on the Sort Button and you will find a new box pop up.   This will allow you to select the way you want to see your data.  It's called the Sort Criteria, and you can play with all the data that way to get it just right.

In the sort box, you can "Add Level" if you want more than one sort order.  If this were a real life example I may have a City, State, Zip list.  You may want to sort that on State first, then City order, then Zip to make it easier to spot the zip code of the city you want to mail something to.

Postal code for those out of the US.

You would add a Level for City, State, and Zip, then tell it to sort on Values, and Order would be A To Z.   Normally that is, because you can add many kinds of sorts in Excel.   I'll be keeping this one basic since you can explore that on your own.  The Sort On box has things like sorting on Color.  That will allow you to tag your data so that you can have all the "red" boxes sort to the top. 

In this case, since there is only one column, my sort box came up correct.   This picture is what happened when I clicked OK.

Excel happily sorted all the Food together into a block so I can work with it.  What I did was highlight all three rows of Food so that I can show you, however I will delete out two of them.  Simply highlight the two rows that are extra by clicking once on the row you want to delete - Row 15, and moving the mouse down to select Row 16.  Then hit the delete key.

No, you hit it too hard, showoff.  Since the data is gone, I won't chide you too much.

The result is a hole in your data. A big blank spot of two missing rows.

The way to fix it to get a "nice clean list" is to re-sort the data using the method you just tried:

  • Select your columns,
  • Select Data tab from the Control Ribbon,
  • Select Sort button from the Control Ribbon,
  • Make sure that you have your criterion correct,
  • Click OK.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hoisin Chicken in the Crockpot - Recipe

Actually, this is one of those amazingly flexible recipes.  It would work with any sort of mild meat, like chicken, or turkey, it would also work well with Tofu or Quorn if you're looking for a vegan alternative.

I've had Quorn before, it's a bit pricey but kind of tasty and it really does taste like chicken.

A "non cook" would love this kind of recipe as a way to say "Hey look what I did!" and someone more comfortable around the kitchen would enjoy the "day off" because I threw this together in about 5 minutes.

First the recipe as I got it, then I'll tell you my weird tweaks afterwords.  Like any recipe, read it all and decide if it is for you.  You always read a recipe twice!

I did find this recipe online at a while back, and I don't have the direct link. I will say it worked, but I'll save the commentary for after...

4-6 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Put the chicken in the crockpot. Mix the other ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

Now, my comments.

Hoisin sauce is wonderful stuff.   It's brown, garlicky, and sweet.   If you have a bland piece of meat or sandwich that needs a little sweet and spicy lift, it will do it for you.  I use it on chicken that hasn't been seasoned in a sandwich and love the stuff.   Since it is sweet, if you're watching your weight you have to be careful with the stuff since it is very thick.    Since the sauces were used as a marinade, it was a rather light meal so it would be suitable for diet.  200 calories per Chicken Breast and maybe another 20 or so for the seasoning that got absorbed into the chicken would be my best guess.

I used Frozen Chicken Breasts.  I also put 8 of them in the pot since 4 looked lonely and I had 8 on hand.   I also increased the spice to 1/3 of everything instead of 1/4th.   It turned out fine.

I will say the recipe wasn't as strong as you would be used to if you are having chicken at a Chinese Restaurant.   This is more "Asian Inspired" than an "Asian" recipe.  As a result, I found that it was MUCH better as a chicken breast in a sandwich that it was served on a bed of rice.

This does make a savory recipe, not what I would call spicy.  If you want some heat, add some Chili Paste. 

End result was that I have had it a couple times on my own rolls that I make from Pat's Pizza Dough and it turned out quite well.   Just stir every couple hours.  

Also, my recommendation is to cook it at "low" heat for 6 to 8 hours until it is at the desired doneness.   My chicken started to come apart at 4 hours and I left it on the heat for 10.  As a result, they were a bit on the dry side.

All in all, it is dead simple to make, and worth another try when I finish the other six chicken breasts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pets - Humor

Ok, so since yesterday was April Fools Day and I didn't really do a joke... or did I?

I'm posting some humor today. 

You see Mrs Dog has been acting spry lately.  Her hormones are helping her a bit too much.  Now she's acting like a puppy in a senior dog's body. 

You can also thank Kevin for this particular posting.  He's to thank... or blame.

If you've got pets, you'll enjoy.  If not, you get what you pay for!


The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.
Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Amateur Day - April Fools Day

Usually, I post a joke on a Saturday and Sunday morning.

Not today. 

You see this is April Fools Day. 

Those of us who are not the kind that tell jokes all year long, will find that they believe that they have all day today to be putting buckets of water on door jambs, pulling rugs out from under people, telling bad jokes, and doing things that normally would be considered questionable on any other day.

Keep an eye out for web pages trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, Swamp Land in Florida, and acting strangely. 

I'll be in the background today waiting for the first amateur to come along and do something "funny".  I'll sit this one out. 

See?  It is out of character and therefore funny, right?

Ok, you really want a joke?

What's black and white and read all over?

A Newspaper.

Now, put the bag of flaming dog poop on that porch over THERE... WAY over there....

We will return you to your regularly scheduled blog posting tomorrow at this time...