Thursday, May 31, 2012

Camilla The Chicken In Space

You know, sometimes you read an article, and you scratch your head and say "huh?".

That was what happened to me and I had to research it further.

The story that I read on the BBC a while back was about a woman in England who is knitting a sweater for a rubber chicken that gets sent up into space every time the Solar Dynamics Observatory is launched by NASA.  Nice to have a dear Gran there to knit you a sweater even if you are sent to space in the name of Science.

It was never really explained why this chicken, named Camilla, was sent up there.

Having had my nose in web pages I assumed it was all about making sure the colors are calibrated and brushed it off.

After a bit, I reread the posting and thought that it really didn't explain why we were sending a rubber chicken up into the stratosphere and beyond.

Heading to a search engine, I dutifully followed through and learned the story.

It's a Mascot whose chief duty is Public Relations.

Now it is all clear, and that's great.  After all why wouldn't a mascot be a Rubber Chicken?  In Philadelphia, the Phillies use an Aardvark for their mascot, and a green one at that.   Aardvarks are not green, nor do they live anywhere near Philadelphia, PA.  Typically, Aardvarks are from Africa, although knowing the Philadelphia Zoo, I suspect one or more lives there near the train tracks in West Philly.

Why not take a flight of fancy with a rubber chicken?

Now, of course if you're going to send your rubber chicken into space, you're going to want to dress for the weather aren't you?  After all it gets quite cold at night when you're orbiting the Earth.   When the spaceship comes back into the sunlight, it's going to get quite warm and you're not going to want sunburn are you?

Poor little Camilla the Chicken.  You're giving your all for science!

The reality is that she won't be strapped to the side of a satellite, apparently.  It's not completely clear but it looks like they're going to send her up in a weather balloon and have a look around at the curvature of the Earth next.  There are plenty of videos about that particular project done by others, and if you have about 7 minutes you can see the kind of project they're going to perform on this video below.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Showing your PC on the TV

Believe me this isn't as tough as it sounds.   Granted, I have been doing this sort of thing for years.  Back in the stone ages of the Pentium 3, to put your PC video out on the TV it took special cards and special cables.   Now all of that is built in and almost standard.

What got me thinking about this was two things.  I have a couple friends and clients.  Some of them have vision problems.  If you have a vision problem, often making something larger will help.  I know that since I've been using reading glasses for a while now.  The other thing is that sometimes it's just nice to watch your laptop on the big TV.  After all who doesn't like a video of a dog trick or a kitten being cute at 46 inches or more?

These days there's something called HDMI.  It is used for a lot of things like connecting your DVD or BluRay player to the TV.  In my case, I can use HDMI to connect to the TV directly and with a couple button presses I'm looking at my little 12 inch laptop on the 46 inch TV.

Never mind that typically where I sit across the room in TV Viewing Position, the laptop is larger than the TV.  Remember objects further away are smaller after all!  Yep, I made my little 12 inch laptop look larger than my big 46 inch TV by simply sitting 10 feet away.  If I move closer that changes.

That's exactly why I do it.  When I have someone over to do a web presentation, I sit them on the couch, myself on the Poang chair facing them with the laptop on my lap.  We're comfortable with a glass of Iced Tea or Lemonade, and we discuss what changes need to be made.  It's all rather friendly and civilized.  Much easier than sitting around an old computer monitor.

Now how I do it is pretty simple.

1) I have a bunch of HDMI sockets on the back of my TV.  Since I don't need 4 of them, one is always available for me to work with.

2) I have a 25 foot long HDMI cable that I picked up online.  If you are paying more than $10 for an HDMI cable, I need you as a client of mine since you're willing to pay too much for things.  Go online and search the major retailers.  Trust me, you'll find things cheaper than buying at the big box store.  This is the kind of item that keeps those big box stores in business.  I just clicked "buy" on a 6 foot HDMI cable from and paid a whole $1.49.  Compare that with Best Buy's price for $24.99 plus tax.

Yes, I do know Purchasing, and Procurement and I do know who is a ripoff.

3) I have a laptop with an HDMI socket.  With Windows 7, the laptop simply "knows" something has been plugged in and will share the video through the HDMI socket when it is plugged in.  Mac works similarly, but typically has an adapter that you have to use.

4) To make it all work it is pretty simple:  Plug the $1.49 cable into the TV, then into the HDMI socket on the laptop.  You may have to find your remote that is under the pillows on the couch for the TV and press the source button.  The HDMI Source you will want will be labelled on the back of the TV where you plugged the cable in for your laptop. 

5) Enjoy.  If it doesn't show through the TV then you'll need to check into the settings on the laptop and make sure it actually is sharing the video out.   Since that varies between video cards, I'm going to let you figure that one out on your own.

Now, why did I write this?  Well, you see, I sent an HDMI cable with my friend when he went home to Key West last time.  Once he finds that, I want him to go through the steps.  That way he'll have his laptop all nice and big.

Oh, and if you need an idea what these things look like:

HDMI Cable with Connector is here.
HDMI Connector is here.
HDMI Socket is here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1000 Published Posts

When asked about this blog, I am most frequently asked why do I write?

Dunno, felt good at the time.
Gives me an outlet for creativity.
I like to share my thoughts.
It helps keep my Sister up to date with what's going on.
I can do my Technical Writing here.
It is entertaining to me.
It can be entertaining to others.

All of the above.

This is my 1000th posting.  That's a lot of writing.

I've done a post a day, every day since September 13th, 2009.  Who knows how long I will keep this up?  Someday my priorities will change, I'll find my time used up by other things.  This typically takes about a half hour a day on average to do.  I don't write every single day since I do tend to post jokes sent to me on Saturday and Sunday.

Since I've never actually gotten paid for any of this writing, I could easily walk away with a shrug.  It wouldn't be the first time that I volunteered for something I found interesting and stayed with it for a long time.  My own personal philosophy is find something you enjoy and look for the long term results.   When I got into inline skating with everyone else back in the 1990s, I continued until I skated 21,000 miles. 

Long term.  Besides I enjoyed that as well.

In any of these round number pat on the back posts, you always have a list.  

Here's my top 10 postings of all time.
  1. Gold Medal Flour Extraordinary Biscuits.
  2. Morning Rain Brings Barky Showers.
  3. Hotmail Annoyance - Turn Off Keyboard Shortcuts.
  4. Willie T's Bar Key West Picture.
  5. New Post, New Month, Last Picture.
  6. Merry Xmas, Here's Your Sign!
  7. True Story - 2 Duck Hunters in Wisconsin.
  8. Parking Hours Discussed at the City Commission.
  9. GFS Marketplace Review.
  10. Ikea Poang vs La-z-Boy Barnett Reclina-Rocker Review.
Seems like people like Biscuits, My Dog, are annoyed with Hotmail, Like Willie T's (I've got to go back), Jokes including City Commission, GFS, and my Chairs.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

Well Folks, I'm taking a break.

Got through the Morning Routine early after getting up at 5AM and taking Mrs Dog for a drag up and down Wilton Drive.

So now, I'm sitting in the chair thinking of what's going to happen today.

There's a big ball of Bread Dough rattling around in the Bread Machine waiting to be taken out to rise and make Rolls for dinner.  Take this recipe from my Sister Pat, and divide into 10 parts for some of the most amazing 150 calorie rolls you've ever had.

Cookies will be made today after the bread is baked.  It's going to be a busy afternoon.  I have never actually posted that particular recipe, but I have written about it.  Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies.  They're a winner and you'll have to take my word for it.

Of course there's the last minute cleaning and vacuuming that has to happen as well.   Having spent the weekend making Tomato Pie Sauce that works amazingly well as a spaghetti sauce doesn't leave the house clean.  That's another one I haven't written about, although it was from another web site that I've lost the link for.  I'll have to add a reminder for that one, it's really quite good and completely from scratch.  Oh, and it's not only vegetarian, but vegan, so if you aren't into that, toss in something to beef it up.  We don't and it isn't necessary.

Lisa and Billy will be coming over from across the street for dinner.  Billy's bringing some Kebabs to make on our grill and we'll be enjoying their company tonight for dinner and chat.

So whatever you do and whoever you it with, enjoy your day.   I know I will.

Now, if you will excuse me, I've got a bread machine beeping at me.  The first batch of dough is ready to come out of the machine to be made into rolls to rise for a couple hours.

See Ya!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Baby Planes - Humor

I'll let you in on a secret.  I haven't been on an airplane since the 1990s.  Hadn't had a need and since 9/11 I saw any desire to go anywhere get blasted away with a strip-search scanner of little worth installed at the airports. 

Thanks, I'll drive and if I can't I won't go.

However, there was this story that was sent to me by Kevin that I thought I would share...

A mother and her young son were flying Southwest Airlines from Kansas City to Chicago . The little boy, who had been looking out the window, turned to his mother and asked, 'If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don't big planes have baby planes?'

The mother, who couldn't think of an answer, told her son to ask the flight attendant.

So the boy went down the aisle and asked the flight attendant, 'If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don't big planes have baby planes?'

The busy flight attendant smiled and said, 'Did your mother tell you to ask me?'

The boy said, 'Why, Yes, she did.'

"Well then, you go and tell your mother that there are no baby planes because Southwest always pulls out on time. Then, ask her to explain that to you."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ouch - Humor

Ok, Diane.  This one is from you.  Perfect, because when I think of the stories you tell in meetings and everywhere else that are so looked forward to, they've got this certain tone to them.

Oh and this particular one does have a bit of a painful feel to it.

A little old lady was walking down the street dragging two large plastic garbage bags behind her. One of the bags was ripped and every once in a while a $20 fell out onto the sidewalk.

Noticing this, a policeman stopped her, and said, “Ma’am, there are $20 bills falling out of that bag.”
“Oh, really? Darn it!” said the little old lady. “I’d better go back and see if I can find them. Thanks for telling me officer.
“Well, now, not so fast,” said the cop. “Where did you get all that money? You didn’t steal it, did you?”

“Oh, no, no”, said the old lady. “You see, my back yard is right next to a Golf course. A lot of Golfers come and pee through a knot hole in my fence, right into my flower garden. It used to really tick me off. Kills the flowers, you know. Then I thought, why not make the best of it?

So, now, I stand behind the fence by the knot hole, real quiet, with my hedge clippers. Every time some guy sticks his thing through my fence, I surprise him, grab hold of it and say, ‘O.K., buddy! Give me $20, or off it comes.’

“Well, that seems only fair,” said the cop, laughing. “OK. Good luck!

Oh, by the way, what’s in the other bag?” 

“Not everybody pays.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Atlantic Hurricane Season Starts June 1

Here we go Florida, and the rest of the tropics.

It's going to be a "near normal" season with up to 15 storms.
Up to 3 major storms are predicted but keep in mind, the tropics are a very large area. 

I'm hoping for a Fish Spinner and nothing else strong.

You can read the background from the BBC Here.
You can read the National Hurricane Center's information page Here.
Weather for Wilton Manors and the big neighbor Fort Lauderdale is at this link.
A very fast local radar for Wilton Manors is at this link.

The rule of thumb that I will be following is to keep two solid weeks of water and food per person on hand.  While the state of Florida has passed a law requiring Gas Stations and Supermarkets to have generators on hand, I'd prefer not to depend on that.

You can choose otherwise.

Make sure you have enough water and food on hand for your pets.  If you're taking care of yourself, remember those who can't take care of themselves, whether human, furred, or feathered.

Of course, you'll be eating all this food come December 1 when the Season has ended.  I still have a little Mac and Cheese from 2011 that has a little life left in it.  I'm drawing down the frozen foods and slowing down my usual Baking here to make sure that I don't have a power outage that would make me lose hundreds of dollars worth of food.

Reminds me I have that Pork Tenderloin in the freezer that will be made into Carnitas next week.  If that sounds good, check the recipe on my blog from a while back.  Just add all the ingredients to your crock pot and press go.  It's a winner of a recipe!

Now if Doom and Gloom, Duck and Cover, and all this hype gets you down, you may need a hug.  So click on the video and you will get one.  It's quiet and safe for all viewers and even work.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Can't Open a Wine Bottle? Here's Help!

Ok, I'll admit it.

I am that guy that you never want to hand your wine bottle to.

I will shred the cork.
I will leave bits of cork in the bottle.
I will break the corkscrew off in the cork.
I will cut myself on the shards.

Oh yes, all of that has happened within the last couple bottles of wine that I have tried to open.

There's a reason why I tend to drink beer when I drink, which is to say, infrequently.

It's a shame since I really do enjoy a glass of Port as a treat.

But there's help here in this video.  Unfortunately for most of my readers, it is in French.

However, if you have all of what this guy's doing, you can open a wine bottle without a corkscrew.  After all, he's French and they know their wine.  Just don't tell them that according to most connoisseurs, including those in France, on average, wine from California is better.   Shhh, they'll pout.

First, you need a solid wall.  None of that drywall crap.
Second it must be done horizontally.  You can't do this on your counter.
Third, you need a proper "solid" heel on the shoe.
Fourth, after all that, it may not work because it depends on your bottle being of "just the right shape.

So entertain yourself with this video.  He shows that it works, and I'll attempt it some day when I'm feeling confident.  Don't try it with Champagne.  Not even a little bit... unless you video your results! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's helpful to know your neighbor's commands for the dog

As I was sitting in my chair, I had on the noise cancelling headphones.  Playing into my ears was some "Uplifting Trance" from an Armin van Buuren set.   Just like on this video...

In fact I'll do one better - here's the video that I am listening to now.

Yes, folks I listen to a lot of trance, and Armin van Buuren is probably my favorite DJ currently.  He's helped me skate 21,000 miles keeping the tempo up.  That beat is right about the speed that I hit the pavement with each roller blade when I'm up to speed.

The music is playing in my headphones, and while they're cheap, they're effective.  $3 for headphones that were better than the Sony ones that are really quite good.   Noise cancelling headphones at this level will get rid of most of the background drone, mute the random noise in the environment some, and really make it difficult to hold a conversation while music is playing.

Just ask Kevin.

In fact, I find that I listen to music much softer now that I have these headphones simply because I don't need to drive the sound louder than Wilton Drive, I-95, and Federal Highway in the distance, and the parrot accompaniment is missing since it just isn't loud enough to get an Oscar Singalong.

Puttering through my tasks I see someone walk past the front window on the street.  Hi, Jack!  It's my neighbor.  He keeps going not knowing he's being seen, and I go back to my routine.

About five minutes later it starts.  Bark.  Bark, bark.  BARK! WOO WOO WOO!

Up goes Armin's music a little louder.  BARK BARK BARK!

I think we've got a bored dog BARK!

That's the problem with outdoor pets.  They would prefer to be with you.  No matter what you're doing they're entertained.  When you leave, the little mental stimulation you give them is gone as well. 

Needless to say I'm against outdoor dogs in an urban or suburban environment.

At this point, 30 minutes later, after having listened to "You Belong To Me" singing over the dog, I decided it was time for another one of my talents.


I've gotten very good at being a mimic, both human voices and other sounds.

Walking to the bedroom window that is closest to the porch where the dog likes to be, I open it slightly.  BARKBARKBARKBARK! 



(pause) BARKBARK!


Having dropped my voice a register in a passing imitation of the owner, the dog is confused but...




I'll have to mention this to Jack.  He's really a very nice guy and I don't think he knows this is going on.  Plus I bet he'd be amused at my off-key imitation of him saying SHUSH!

I guess Buster got tired of barking and assumes Jack's over here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OOBE and Desktop Support

I'm doing something we call "Desktop Support" this week.

It isn't strictly speaking, Desktop Support since I am working with some 5 year old laptops, but the discipline is the same.

When Kevin came back from Key West, he brought back two computers that needed some help from someone who I do some occasional work for. A friend and in this case a client. He gets these machines about every six months and when I go down there, I set them right. I don't mind helping him out since we've known each other for quite a while.

It was easier this way since he's due to come up here - or I'm due to go down there soon. I could use a week off my quirky little island, and Key West is a fascinating place, although it's losing a lot of that wonderful Conch flavor since the locals are being edged out and it's changing into a combination "1% and day tripper" compound.

The first computer wouldn't see the internet. I fixed that in five minutes - the little switch that controls Wifi was turned off. After I updated antivirus to Microsoft Security Essentials, and all the software, it's been set aside. Got to do all this sitting in my comfy chair while watching the TV.

The second one was the trial. It may or may not have a bad hard drive on it. Starting the machine took about a half hour and then it would go "zombie" on me. Meaning it would forget it was a computer and just not do much other than run the clock and make the mouse move very slowly. I was able to grab the personal items from it and put them on the other laptop so the decision was made to completely reload this beast.

See that is where the Desktop Support comes in. It's a 17 inch monster that will level your tables and hold down papers in a hurricane.

It also needed me to start it on its way for that reload.

5:30AM I was up, clicking on the button saying "Next" to load Windows Vista onto the hard drive before going out for the dog walk.

Yes, Windows Vista. Every Tech Guy's least favorite current operating system.

Oddly it seems to be taking to that machine fairly well. The load took about the same time as it took me to walk Lettie, feed both her and myself, then sit down with the coffee to click through some buttons.

The problem is that I had the "Oobe Experience".

I'm not used to home computers. I have never actually gone to a store and bought a computer retail. I've always gotten computers meant for the "corporate" market which means the extra software that was installed was a minimum.

This is an HP and apparently HP is well known for putting "crapware" on their computers.

Or at least they did when I started with this HP a year ago.

When you load a computer with a "retail" or "OEM" copy of windows, you get just the operating system. Period.

When you get a computer from the store meant for the home market you get all sorts of icons on the desktop that the manufacturer was paid to put there by the website or software company.

When that computer gets to me, I remove them all. No questions, they're gone.

Why? Well all that crapware takes up space and slows you down.

When I started the computer the first time this morning, I didn't expect it to even work, after all I suspect that the hard drive is failing. It took me about 30 minutes to come up to a desktop since all those pieces of software were coming up, demanding attention, begging for my contact information, and generally being a nuisance.

I'll be removing all of that later. Toolbars on browsers first, since we all seem to live with browsers and the operating system is more of a background thing. I'll be getting rid of Norton, Ebay, HP Games, MSN, Sling Box, Microsoft Office Trial, and a few others.

After all, it's Vista. If you want to speed up a Vista computer, here's a hint - remove it and install Windows XP or Windows 7 depending on how comfortable you are with either. I'd say Windows 7 since I've grown to like it but I know of a few folks who still have XP and don't want to change.

If it becomes mine, it's getting LinuxCentOS or Ubuntu are excellent choices, and I could use a proper Linux Server here.

One more "helpful hint". When you are installing new software, always, I mean ALWAYS, take the "expert" or "Advanced" or "Custom" install. You will find out that you have the choice to not have the "Ask Toolbar" or the "Yahoo Toolbar" or the "Google Toolbar" added to your browser. They just slow you down and spy on what ever you are doing anyway - you simply do NOT need them.

Now why the video of the little lamb?

 It's cute. Enjoy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

When Autofocus Goes Wrong - Picture

I have a window on the world, and that particular night it looked rather different.

My big green chair faces out that window, to its right, and I see the setting sun.  The setting sun that greets me and warms my face, perhaps a bit too strenuously.

That night the colors were quite pretty, so I did what I always do.  I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures.

Thinking that I'd be able to convince the camera to focus on the distant scene, I found myself mistaken.

When I looked at this picture I thought it looked like someone set the world alight and instead of going to help put the fire out, I sat watching it burn.

Of course with the captions, it made it look like one of those dark book cover arts you'd see in a Science Fiction section of a library. 

So instead of focusing on the palm tree and the distant sunset, my camera decided to take a picture of the screens and the window pane.   Interesting shot though.  Sometimes, Photography for Photography's sake is well enough.

Even if it looks like a bad novel from the 1980s.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Southern Logic - Humor

Ok, Velma's trying to tell me something again.  I noticed this list leaves Florida out, too bad, I've run into some oddballs down here too. 

Southern Logic


A group of Alabama friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck.

"Where's Henry?" the others asked.  "Henry had a stroke o' some kind. He's a couple of miles back up the trail," the successful hunter replied. "You left Henry layin' out there and carried the deer back?" they inquired."  A tough call," nodded the hunter. "But I figured no one's gonna steal Henry!"


A senior citizen in Louisiana was overheard saying ... "When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana."  When asked why, he replied, "I'd rather be in Louisiana 'cause everythang happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the world."


The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, "Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!"
Bubba replied, "Did y'all see who it was?"
The young man answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number."

North Carolina

A man in North Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait.
A passerby studied the scene as he drove by, and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was.
The man replied, "I got a flat tahr."
The passerby asked, "But what's with the flowers?"
The man responded, "When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither."

A Tennessee State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-65. The trooper asked, "Got any ID?"
The driver replied, "Bout whut?"


The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, "Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don't you see that sign right over your head."

"Yep," he replied. "That's why I'm dumpin' it here, 'cause it says: 'Fine For Dumping Garbage.' " ***

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Maya Angelou on her 70+ birthday

If you have never had the chance to read the writings of this amazing woman, Maya Angelou, I give you a task.  Go find her books and sit down in a corner.  Read them.  She's simply an amazing writer. 

This little snippet was sent to me by local "notable" Diane.  She's another woman whose stories I love to listen to.  I may not be able to use them all here, but that is your loss.

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday.. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.

And, there on television, she said it was 'exciting...'

Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:
'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.'

'I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.'

'I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.'

'I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a life.'

'I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.'

'I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back...'

'I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision...'

'I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one..'

'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back...'

'I've learned that I still have a lot to learn..'

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

Friday, May 18, 2012

Goodbye Donna

I'd be completely remiss if I didn't mention that Donna Summer passed away yesterday from Breast Cancer at the age of 63.

I've enjoyed her music since the first time I heard Love To Love You Baby in my father's car being driven to school.  It was on an AM Radio Station in Philadelphia, WIP, with the DJ commenting about how few words were being sung and what the state of modern music is today!  Harrumph.

Well that station is now all sports and useless, in fact the clueless management even moved the sports format to an FM station and it is now being used to simulcast the programming.   That's why I used a Wikipedia link for it since I couldn't even find their website!

...and Donna Summers' music is being played now, somewhere, all over the world.  If you don't like Disco, Tough.  I most certainly do.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Parrot That Eats From The Dog's Bowl

In the series "To The Manor Born" is a wonderful character named Mrs Poo.  She is introduced in this short you tube clip.

She's a Czechoslovakian woman who was fond of quoting sayings.  I don't know if they were true or not but the one that came to mind was her pronouncement that:

"The cat who eats from the dog's bowl gets her whiskers bitten off"

If you have the time, and I've set the clip up correctly, you can hear her say it yourself here, but just manually jump ahead to 7:58 in the clip.  It didn't embed correctly for me.

The series was a wonderful gentle tale from a different era in Britain, and I've been lucky enough to have seen it a couple times all the way through.

I was reminded of Mrs Poo and that saying yesterday when I let Oscar the Parrot out to wander around.   Lately the old buzzard has been getting more friendly and as such, more noisy.  So instead of yelling which only serves to get him louder in competition, or putting him outside which only serves to draw opossums, I took the low road.

Picking up the cage, I set him on the floor next to me where he could be watched by both me and the dog.

As a prey animal, he did not particularly care for that.

That was until I opened the cage door.  As his habit, he climbed on top for a quick look around.  Mrs Dog didn't care for the bird being there, so she kept a wary eye out.

Stalemate, all was well.

As it was time, I wandered to the kitchen for my next mug of coffee and brought out a dog biscuit for Lettie.  When I settled in, Lettie paid attention to the biscuit and got excited but didn't get up from her mat another five feet away.  I placed it on the floor half way between the dog and the bird.

Of course the bird grabbed the biscuit.   Oscar ran down the cage. While the dog was being told "OK go get the cookie" and didn't respond, Oscar grabbed the cookie and went back inside the cage with his prize.

Lettie being a gentle old dog, more fearful than anything else, simply looked at the scene.  If it is possible for a dog to have a "nonplussed" expression of confusion and disappointment, that was it.   She was not happy at all and decided that "I've had enough of this".   Leaving the room to me and That Bird, she went into the bedroom and ignored us for the next hour.

Luckily dogs memories are a patchy thing and all was forgotten when she returned later.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Snakes in a Plane, and in a Walmart too

Yep, bizarre news is showing itself this week, but in retrospect it kind of makes sense that you should watch out for yourself.

After all, it WAS a WalMart.   Shouldn't you be shopping somewhere else anyway?

Up in Washington State, some guy was going out to buy some mulch for his plants. His Marijuana plants.  It's legal there and he's got a medical need.  That just kind of adds to the aura of "oddness".

Ok, legal plants, I got it.  Not for me, but I got the story.

So he goes to WalMart, brushes a stick away and it bites him.  Turns out that on top of the bag wasn't a stick, but a foot long rattlesnake.

Maybe I should have said "A pot grower walks into a WalMart, and...".

The reality is that in those large garden centers, you do have to watch out.  Over the weekend I was looking at Lemon Trees and spotted a mouse, three species of birds, and a couple rogue bees.  You don't want to get stung do you?  All this was "inside" the garden center at the hardware store.  It's really just one of those open air areas with a bit of hardware cloth roofs for shade, and finding wildlife in what passes for inside is normal.

I guess they're right, those WalMarts are entertaining in a dark and bite-y sort of way.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smartphone As ID? I Sure Hope NOT.

This is another one of those topics that present themselves at the strangest moments. 

The short version of the story is that this woman, 23, went to a wedding in California and only brought her iPhone and her keys to the room to the wedding.  She wanted a drink and was "carded" for her ID.  Didn't have any, so the server confiscated her drink and asked the manager.  The patron showed a picture of her passport to the manager and was turned down.  The Staff there were doing their job, Molly you're an adult, you know you need your ID to drink in the US, carry it.

Now, here's the link if you want to read her rant, I'll follow up by saying why I think this is a terrible idea.  In fact, I'll do so in one word.


Whether you agree that someone should be out getting drinks at a wedding is another story, but living in Wilton Manors, I've seen my share of people, in fact I've probably seen your share too of people who have gotten drunk and are making bad decisions.  I belong to a civic organization as a Board member at Wilton Manors Main Street and we're working to help the city become a safer place by making suggestions to the city such as narrowing the drive via our Two Lane Initiative.  That way you can do stupid things like get blind drunk and have less of a chance getting hit by a car careening down Wilton Drive at 45 MPH.

And that's just Fort Lauderdale Police cutting through a street festival to their own jurisdictions like the Dunkin Donuts Shop at Five Points - TRUE STORY!

So you come to a town or a wedding and are having your good time and drink a bit too much.  After all her original post said that she was drinking at the wedding.  Being legally impaired you leave the party and stumble out into the light.

The scenerio here is pretty simple - what happens when you leave your iPhone either at the party or drop it on your way out.  Now this woman has just her keys to the room, and no ID - and now no iPhone.

Those shiny Apple products are a target.  Someone sees your phone and the probability would be that they'll pick it up.  If you're lucky it will get turned in and the bartender won't keep it.  You just may get it back.  I'm probably a little safer since I use a lower end Android phone, but it has the same capabilities she's talking about...

If not, now your phone AND YOUR ID are out in public.  You may as well have left your purse or your wallet sitting there with a sign on it saying "Empty Me, I'm Yours".

Bad idea.  But am I being too security conscious?

Within the 12 months, I personally have found a full wallet and a smartphone.  Ok the phone was a Blackberry and nobody seems to want those these days, but both got turned into the Police Station at Wilton Manors City Hall.  Apparently I am still honest.

Not everyone is.  My earliest dog walk at 6AM is one where I see the homeless people come up from Fort Lauderdale and patrol the parking lot.  They're looking for your wallet or your smartphone.  They've got to eat too, so don't expect to get your gear back.

Or your ID.

If I see it, I'll send it to City Hall.  They're good people there, you'll get it back.  Not everyone will be that fortunate.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why I don't drive a Miata - or What should a Tall Guy Drive?

Yep, I did try one.  A Miata.  You see, it was in my eyes, one of the most beautiful cars out on the market at the time I was shopping back in the mid 90s.

It's Just Small.

And I'm Just Tall.

So as my old Chevy Nova/Toyota Corolla was 10 years old and beginning to annoy me, it was time to shop and look around.  I mean REALLY look around.  I was looking at all sorts of things trying to be creative and the first one I was going to look at was the Miata.  I wanted a convertible so I could go topless on a long drive and I was doing a lot of long drives at that point in my life.  It got good gas mileage, and as such didn't pollute much.

I went to the dealership in Pennsylvania at the time, and all eyes were on me.  What is this guy doing?  No, it's going to be a fail isn't it?  Yes, Godzilla is stomping all over Tokyo again in his rubber suit as he opens the door of the little car.

Sitting in the car, I whack my knee on the steering wheel and sound the horn.  In fact, I whacked my knee hard enough that I was limping for three days and felt pain in the spot for more than a month.

If I didn't have their attention before, I certainly did then.

So leaving the place and hearing comforting comments like "It's ok, it's not for everyone", I went back to the drawing board.

My 19 year relationship began anew with a comment from a friend saying "Did you know they redesigned the Wrangler again?  No more Square Headlights!  It's actually comfortable!". 

I sat behind the wheel of a 1997 forest green Jeep Wrangler Sport and it was like putting on a pair of comfortable sneakers.  It Just Fit.

While it's healthy to step out of your comfort zone once in a while, when you're 6'4" and 220-ish pounds like I am, there's a reason why you drive a certain car.  In fact, I liked that one so much that I traded that one and got a second one when Chrysler offered 0.0% financing a few years later.  That's the one that sits in the carport today.

It's not a question of whether its big, I could easily drive any large American Land Yacht, but more of the line of the roof and how close the driver's door is placed in respect to the seat.

I recently sat in a Mercedes Benz C class and I can honestly say that by the time we drove across the county line into Aventura Florida for a trip to the mall for lunch, I hated that car with a passion.  Mercedes had placed everything in just the right places - to stick in my left kidney, my left shoulder, and allow me never to find a comfortable place to sit. 

Oh and there are no Diesel C Class.   Forget that.  Gasoline is not efficient in comparison.  Diesel gets between 1/3 and 1/2 better Miles Per Gallon (KM Per Litre) for the same size motor.  I won't even consider a gasoline motor if there is a Diesel available.  TDI Perhaps, but never on the first year.

Well that and I'm not ready to retire my Jeep yet.

Every time I get to a car show, I'm drawn to the little things that would be a speed bump for a big truck like they like to drive here in Florida.  I don't understand why someone needs a Hummer, let alone any other SUV, just to get groceries.  But that's me.

I was happy to see that the Fiat 500 actually fits.  In fact, the one I sat in with the sun roof had so much room that I had to sit with the front seat not all the way back.  That's something I don't have in my Jeep.

Now if they'd just get a proper sized turbo diesel in the US it would be a winner. 

Well that and once I finally get tired of driving around in a Wrangler with the roof off and on special days the doors sitting back home being sniffed by the dog.  After all, it's 10 years old and only has 44,000 miles on it.

Just make sure if you do end up with a small car and you're big, you have the right bumper sticker:

Caution, Capacity 14 Clowns.

Sorry folks, I saw that one over the weekend and didn't take the picture.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Goodbye Mom - Humor

Ok, how about a Mother's Day story?
A little humor for the ladies that raised you?
I can't think of a better day for this story, so enjoy!
Hope this touches you the way it touched me!


A young man shopping in a supermarket noticed a little old lady following him around. If he stopped, she stopped. Furthermore she kept staring at him.

She finally overtook him at the checkout, and she turned to him and said, "I hope I haven't made you feel ill at ease; it's just that you look so much like my late son."

He answered, "That's okay."

"I know it's silly, but if you'd call out 'Good bye, Mom' as I leave the store, it would make me feel so happy."

She then went through the checkout, and as she was on her way out of the store, the man called out, "Goodbye, Mom."

The little old lady waved and smiled back at him..

Pleased that he had brought a little sunshine into someone's day, he went to pay for his groceries.

"That comes to $121.85," said the clerk..

"How come so much? I only bought 5 items."

The clerk replied, "Yeah, but your Mother said you'd be paying for her things, too."

Bet you thought this was going to be a tear jerker.
Don't trust Little Old Ladies!!!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

This one's for the ladies.  I got a chuckle when it was sent to me, maybe it will do the same for you.  So here are some wonderfully tired old retreads of jokes about men.

One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his Sweat Shirt. Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me, 'What setting do I use on the washing machine?'
'It depends,' I replied. 'What does it say on your shirt?'
He yelled back, ' Arsenal '
And they say blondes are dumb...
A couple are lying in bed. The man says, 'I am going to make you the happiest woman in the world.'
The woman replies, 'I'll miss you...'
'It's just too hot to wear clothes today,' Jack says as he stepped out of the shower, 'honey, what do you think the neighbours would think if I mowed the lawn like this?'
'Probably that I married you for your money,' she replied.
Q: What do you call an intelligent, good looking, sensitive man?
A: A rumour
A man and his wife, now in their 60's, were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. On their special day a good fairy came to them and said that because they had been so good that each one of them could have one wish.
The wife wished for a trip around the world with her husband.
Whoosh! Immediately she had airline/cruise tickets in her hands.
The man wished for a female companion 30 years younger...
Whoosh....immediately he turned ninety!!!
Gotta love that fairy!
Dear Lord,
I pray for Wisdom to understand my man; Love to forgive him; And Patience for his moods. Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength, I'll beat him to death.

Q: Why do little boys whine?
A: They are practicing to be men.
Q: What do you call a handcuffed man?
A: Trustworthy.
Q: What does it mean when a man is in your bed gasping for breath and calling your name?
A: You did not hold the pillow down long enough.
Q: Why do men whistle when they are sitting on the toilet?
A: It helps them remember which end they need to wipe. (brilliant!! )
Q: How do you keep your man from reading your e-mail?
A: Rename the mail folder 'Instruction Manuals'
Send this to at least five bright, funny women you know and make their day!

And send this to five bright men who have enough sense of humour to take it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Importance of an Accurate Duck

In my yard,
there is a pool.

In my pool,
there is a duck.

Under the duck,
there is a thermometer.

That is the problem.

You see, like everything these days, it's all sourced from China.  It's because in our rush for lower prices, we lost sight of what is important. 

In "English Common Law" which is what our business law is loosely based upon in the US, there is the "Fitness of Purpose and Merchantability" rule.  It is a pretty simple concept, it means that if you are selling something, you are telling people what it is for and that you are going to "warrant" that item to be appropriate for that use. 

That means that if you sell a rubber duck with a thermometer on it, your purchaser will expect that it will be accurate.  Not always a big deal, right?  After all if the pool is 80F it's comfy, and it won't ever get much above 87 or 88 in the summer, so what does it matter if it is a degree "off"?

So you toss that duck into the pool, smile at it being cute, wait a bit and see that it's 70F on a warm day.  Thinking that that water is too cold, and I am in Florida after all, I pull the duck out of the pool and we turn on the spa.

If you have ever used a spa or a hot tub, you know that you shouldn't go above a certain temperature.  Exposure to prolonged heat is a no-no and typically that temperature is 104.   We tend to run the thing at 100F because it can be a beautiful thing.

After fighting with the temperature all day, we manage to get that tub to a warm 98 degrees then step in.

There's a problem here, it is way too hot.

You see the Chinese Prisoner who made that duck didn't take the care that would have happened had I been able to get that same duck made by someone in a country with a better tradition of quality.  Accuracy and quality is something that should be prized over cheapness in price, and we seem to have forgotten that sort of thing.  The red white and blue "Made in USA" stickers that used to be all over the cheap items in WalMart, Target, and other discount stores have long since vanished.  Not that Made in USA is a universal symbol for quality, as anyone who has ever owned a Chevrolet Vega would know, but for the most part it may be clunky but it worked.

I got out of that hot tub quicker than normal and grabbed the other thermometer which I know was accurate and dropped it into the water.


After cooling down in the 70 by the duck, 79 by the thermometer temperature water, we left that hot tub behind.  The duck has since been taken away, not by us, but by a rogue backyard critter.   There are opossums and raccoons that seem to think that the little yellow duck is food and it ends up on the pool deck at least twice a month.

Good riddance, it wasn't accurate anyway.

As someone who has more than 20 years in Software Quality Assurance and Software Development, this sort of nonsense irks me to no end.  I don't like going to Publix and discovering that I have pink legs that represent a mild first degree burn because someone has decided he needs to earn an extra 100K a year for some shadowy shareholders by firing their US workforce and shipping the jobs over to China. 

I never was completely comfortable with shoddy workmanship in something that I purchase, and for years I flat out would not buy Chinese merchandise.  Good luck going China Free anymore, after all, they aren't free yet either and it is still the country of Tienanmen and the massacre therein.

I think I shall be looking a bit closer next time I need a duck.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dogs Can Have Empathy

Sure, but if you have ever had a dog, that statement is pretty unremarkeable, that Dogs can have empathy.  The reality is that someone at Emory University has finally proved it with science.

I can tell you empirically that when I'm down, my own Lettie will cling closer.  That doesn't always have the desired effect because then she's in the Clumsy Moose Zone.

Basically science is able to tell that dogs are paying attention to your more subtle clues, and we've all heard the stories.  Dogs that will sniff a specific spot and you find out later that there's an infection there.  Dogs that are helpers that can tell when the person is about to have a seizure.

We have co-evolved for many years now, and Dogs are the first domesticated species.  Just like living with anyone, we don't always get it right, but they're excellent judges of what goes on. 

My own Lettie may be the Canine Ambassador to Snowbirds for Wilton Manors, but she's an amazingly good judge of character.   She's better at it than I am.  In fact, if my dog doesn't like you, chances are I won't either.  She won't go near a drunk snowbird, or even a local, trust me on that one!

So if you would like the chance to see the discussion and have five minutes for the story, click on the video below and the next time that crazy dog person says that their pooch understands them, there is some basis for that.

One side note, of course they had to use a Border Collie or Mc Nab Cross ... Smartest of all dogs!  Now cats on the other hand?  Since I have allergies to cats, I'll just say I can't get close enough to tell how smart they are and leave it at that!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Intercity Disposal got it right on Bulk Trash Day

Last week we had the brush cleared for hurricane season.  There was so much debris that work stopped as the head of the group working in the yard asked us if we thought that bulk trash would take the pile away.   We thought it would and work continued.

By the time things were done we had a "Big American Sedan" worth of leaves and stems sitting in the parking space in front of the house on the swale.   It was about as big as a Crown Vic Police Interceptor.  Big.

So the weekend came and went, the leaves started to turn brown and we were looking forward to the pile going away.

When Bulk Trash Day came, I put a video camera in the front window because it can be an interesting process to watch them pick up all that "bulk". 

If you ever have driven down the coast on I-95, you've seen the trucks.  They're big open topped things with a claw on an arm that is used to pick the stuff up.  The operator will direct this claw that looks like a beefy 55 Gallon Drum split down the middle on top of the debris, close the claw, pick up the handful, then drop it in the back of the truck.

In our case, he took 20 minutes to pick up the trash.  Like I said there was a lot.  Actually, he picked up about 80% of the trash then left.

I was wondering if I was going to end up picking the remaining trash put it in the regular trash can, one piece at a time.  I'd then have to relocate that pile that went from a large car to around a 5 foot tall cube of leaves and stems. 

Needless to say I wasn't looking forward to that task.

After a couple emails back and forth we were resigned to attack that mess later that night.

Perhaps we were hasty because all the sudden up popped the same driver from Intercity Disposal for try number two.

Why I say that the driver got it right was that he picked up all he could with the claw, then got out of the truck.

Picking up a rake, the driver then pulled all that remaining trash into a smaller pile and picked it up and placed it in the bin.   I've never seen trash haulers take that sort of care in doing a job before.  This was one for the record book.

Sure there are some smaller bits of refuse in the swale, but he did get almost all of the remains into the truck with that claw, then took a swig of water from a bottle, and left.

So I have to say that Wilton Manors is getting their money's worth with this particular contract.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Watching The Gazer

You can't teach an old dog new tricks?  Sometimes they teach themselves.

My dog, Lettie, is going to be 12 later this year.  She's slowing but that doesn't mean she's stopped.   Her personality is always changing and she's always alert.  I've met dogs that were just doorstops or strongly willful.  Mine seems to have a job, and I am it so while I'm watching her, she's watching me.

Lately I've been able to get up and walk out of the room while she's not paying attention.  Her hearing is going, but not gone.  Some days are better than others.  I have been able to get up, walk out of the house, come back later and she's not moved from the spot.  Other times, it's a game of hide and seek where she's doing a full house perimeter search to see where I have disappeared to.

Usually that happens late in the evening when I have gone to brush my teeth and she's being distracted.

Use the bathroom, close the door, and she's sitting outside staring at the door waiting for it to open.

I guess that's the definition of Faithful Sidekick because I wouldn't want to be hanging outside a bathroom door waiting on someone.

This habit of watching is somewhat extreme.  If I'm in the kitchen cooking, she goes through distinct phases of "Let me watch".  First she'll just tag along as you walk into the Kitchen and set out the food.  That changes into "Let me have some while I watch".  You tell her no, claim the kitchen and she'll walk out. 

But wait, there's more! 

You see, instead of going to the mat where she's more comfortable, I now become the Subject of the Gazer.  Sticking around the corner is a black wet nose and two brown eyes.  This will go on for as long as I am in the kitchen.

Nice to have a good friend, but remember that Dogs and boiling water or cooking sugar do not mix.

There is a trick that you can teach your dog, no matter what breed or age.  It really isn't a trick, more of a Survival Trait.  It's what we call "Claim Your Space".  Being intensely social, dogs will try to be with you all the time, sometimes under foot.   If you are the Pack Leader as you should be, your dog should accept being excluded from being quite so close by your claiming an area.  In the case of Lettie, she's accepted that the door is my space so well that she won't go in the house until I go first.

To claim the space, simple step into it by putting yourself between you and the dog.  Then gently nudge forward.  The dog will give way and back up.   When my dog had full hearing I would say "Back up" and wave my hand at her in an appropriate sign.  Now she's good at realizing what that hand waggle means now that her hearing is a sometimes thing.

That doesn't stop the gazing, and I'm honored to have her that interested in the mundane actions I do throughout the day and evening, but it does keep her out of harms way and safe.

If your dog doesn't accept you as the pack leader, then you have a problem.  You'll have one of those dogs that other walkers would cross the street to avoid or that you'll be dragging away from other dogs because you're uncomfortable with your own capability to control the dog. 

After all, it's not a dumb animal, it could very well be a dumb human.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Canning 1, Pineapple 0

This week I decided to try out a new recipe.  I got a wild idea and wanted to have some Pineapple Jam because there were still a few cans leftover from Hurricane Season last year, and we're only a few weeks away from the next one. 

Why not make my own?

Never having made Jams and Jellies other than the Lemon Curd, I thought I'd have a try and see what the end results would be.  The recipe I found was one that promised to make 9 pints of the stuff, so I figured I'd have plenty to give away.  That means I'd have to can the stuff into Jelly Jars just like your favorite supermarket - or little old lady.

We've canned here before.  We've made Pepper Relish, Spaghetti Sauce and a few other things that were sitting in the pantry.  The nice thing about this is that while there's a LOT of effort in "Putting up Jars" of food, you'll have a better quality than you would if you had just went out and bought the food at the store.

I've had some pretty horrendous Spaghetti Sauce since Mom and my Sister stopped making the stuff back in the 90s.

There's a recipe on here that requires slicing Roma Tomatoes and roasting them, then pureeing and making the sauce.  It's a Tomato Pie recipe from a restaurant in PA and it makes some of the best vegetarian sauce I have ever had.  Put it on bread and you have tomato pie, add cheese and it's a better pizza than most although I have better sauce for pizza... gees, that Pizza thing again, don't get me started!

The Lemon Curd and Lime Curd is a predictably excellent recipe, but you really aren't supposed to can the stuff and store at room temp because it has egg in the recipe.

So of course, the hunt for Pineapple Jam began.  Unfortunately with recipes connected with blogs, you have bits of information that get left out, others that are phrased poorly, and there's always "user error" that happens when the reader mentally drops a line out of the recipe and forgets to circle the coffee table counterclockwise with the proper runes cast in a spell.

A lot of things can go wrong.

In the case of making Jams and Jellies, there is that item that most people have seen but didn't know what it was.  Pectin.  Pectin is a processed dietary fiber that is used to make fruit syrups thicken up to the right consistency.  It looks like a box of Jello, pours like sand and you're told to add it into the boiling fruit and sugar mixture.

Just stir until it melts in.

Wait, just re-read that last sentence.  That's the problem.  First off many web recipes are inexact.  Mine here are overprecise because I am a touch typist and am wordy.  I also take the time to make sure I have the thing perfect before I write it down.  The recipe I had was a derived recipe from a someone else's recipe and wasn't terribly complete. That is also why I am not yet sharing a Pineapple Jam recipe.  That recipe was just painful and nowhere near explained the process.

Eh, just toss the stuff in and let it cook down.

That didn't work.  You see if there is too much liquid in the pot, it won't thicken.  Think of Jelly and Jam as making a big Jello mold that isn't commercially prepared.  Now have someone go fast and loose with the recipe.

Then when you're all done, pour it into the jars and can them.

Oh, while I was making all of this, I had to reach past the Canning Pot and stir. 

Canning pot is a big thing.  The size of a Lobster Pot, it has ridges in it to catch a metal grate onto which you set your jars.   The whole thing is brought to a boil and then you leave the jars in there until you sterilize them.  The lids and the rings are set in their own pot and boiled to sterilize. 

Yes, glassware that is 212F and 100C.  Better handle with care!  But just wait!  There's More!  In this case, the More are the weird tools that were designed and perfected back in the 1900s or earlier to handle all that glassware.  Pincers and Levers that are coated in a vinyl or rubber to give grip while you pick up your boiling glass jar out of the water and then pour the boiling water into the boiling pot thus avoiding a burn from everything except the steam that blew out when you get a gust out of the Air Conditioning.  They look like something that Great Grandma borrowed from Great Grandpa out of the Barn so she didn't get burned making preserves for the cold Nebraska winter.

When you finish with the jars, and then fill them with the hot mix of food to be canned, then you have to reach into the other boiling pot for a lid using a magnetic wand, carry it across the kitchen dripping slowly cooling water on your shoe or your dog, and then set it onto the top of the jar.   Wipe off the excess water and food, then put a ring onto it gently to semi seal the jar. 

Then boil again for 5 to 10 minutes to create a vacuum seal.  Remove from boiling water and allow to cool.

That whole process is why you can never get a pickle jar open without smacking it on the heel of your hand.

It works though, plenty of folks are still doing this because what you get when you open that jar six months later is some food that will be just as good as it was the day you "put up" the jars.  It's just a lot of work. 

After all of that, the Pineapple didn't gel quite right.   I have around 5 pints of very loose jelly.  I think it's going to end up as pineapple sorbet since the resulting witches' brew was very tasty but very runny or I may just pour it all back into the pot and boil it down until I get the right consistency and try again.

The Lemon Curd turned out excellent as usual, and yes, I did jar the stuff.  Recently the USDA had said that it CAN be safe to can foods cooked with egg as long as the temperature is held at or above 180 for more than 10 minutes.   After all, that is how you buy Lemon Curd in Whole Foods for $7 a jar.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Redneck Humor

Diane, local "color" and story teller had sent me this joke earlier.  She's got a lot of wonderful stories that I just won't put up on my sad little G Rated blog, but this one I liked.  Kept it around for a while until just the right time to use it.

So enjoy a short bit of Redneck Humor

Three rednecks were working up on a cell phone tower: Cooter, Ronnie and Donnie. As they start their descent, Cooter slips, falls off the tower and is killed instantly.

As the ambulance takes the body away, Ronnie says, 'Well, shucks, someone should go and tell his wife.

Donnie says, 'OK, I'm pretty good at that sensitive stuff, I'll do it.' Two hours later, he comes back carrying a case of Budweiser.

Ronnie says, 'Where did you get that beer, Donnie?'
'Cooter's wife gave it to me,' Ronnie replies.
'That's unbelievable, you told the lady her husband was dead and she gave you beer?'

'Well, not exactly', Donnie says. 'When she answered the door, I said to her, "you must be Cooter's widow."
She said, 'You must be mistaken. I'm not a widow.'

Then I said, 'I'll bet you a case of Budweiser you are.'

Rednecks are good at sensitive stuff.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How Smart Is Your Right Foot?

I don't know whether to thank Diane, Velma, Kevin, and the others that sent me this one.  I just tried it and eventually it's right, it happened to me.   Disturbing but right.  So try it and see if you're "Wired Funny" like I am.

I bet you are!


This is hysterical. You have to try this. It is absolutely true. I guess there are some things that the brain cannot handle.

You have to try this please, it takes 2 seconds. I could not believe this!!! It is from an orthopedic surgeon.  This will boggle your mind and it will keep you trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can't. It's pre-programmed in your brain!

1). Without anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY....) and while sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2). Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction.

I told you so!!!

And there's nothing you can do about it! You and I both know how stupid it is, but before the day is done you are going to try it again, if you've not already done so.

Send it to your friends to frustrate them too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

UI and UX - Get Out Of My Facebook!

User Experience and User Interface is a term in web development these days.  Basically the idea is that you should take a look at your website and think of it from the stand point of someone from outside.  How is that person sitting in a random apartment somewhere removed from you going to look at your page and use it?  Will that person say "Nope, you're ugly and your web developer dresses you funny and I'm leaving"?

And that's about as technical as this article gets today, you can relax.

You are looking at what really gets me these days.  If I see a banner here asking me to like them on Facebook, I'm thinking of the socially awkward kid in elementary school who tagged along whining at you to take them with you when you do some cool stuff.  How about the "Extra Needy Girlfriend or Boyfriend" who is begging for you to come over and spend some time when you're out fighting fires or some such?

This is the modern web equivalent of me saying "Stuff it" I don't need you. 

Yes, I meant "STFU" and since I keep my blog G Rated, I will allow you to define that acronym however you like.

You see, if I like this page and every page that I stumble across in the course of doing my daily research/entertainment/job hunting/shopping/ and so on, my Facebook page becomes a mire of inconsequential crap.  I depend on my Facebook News Feed to be pertinent.  It saves me from having to go to some of those websites and surf every single article to stay informed.  I know I'm not alone here, many folks have started to use Facebook the same way.  So why add all this junk?

My first impression of the page is now "Oh for crying out loud, not again".   Or something stronger if it is the 43rd time I've been greeted by this kind of needy uselessness.

A Web Page, just like a blog, is what the owner wants it to be, and not the reader.  You are the product, you are not the customer.  You are typically being sold for your information.  So being slapped in the face by a Facebook "Like me" whine is their way of roping you in for a little extra advertising face time on Facebook.

That's how it works. 

My Second impression is to click on Adblock Plus and see if I can find the script to defeat it.  Sometimes I can, other times I can't.

Usually I hit about 50 of these useless needy girlfriends (I'm A Guy, Ladies, Don't Get TOO Bent Out Of Shape, Just Mentally Remap it to Boyfriends or Lost Puppies, MmmKay?) in the course of a morning.  I do a LOT of research on technology and software/web development in the course of a day.   Getting slapped by www.pleaselikemeorIwillwhine.crap doesn't make me like you any more than finding another flaming bag of web garbage sitting on my virtual doorstep would.

A Facebook Like button is fine, completely repainting your page with a "lightbox" like you see above is a great way to get people to move on like I did.  It's the modern equivalent of a web pop-under window now that everyone has that little box clicked in their setting of their favorite browser to stop pop-up and pop-under windows as a default.   This one will be the next default, give it time.

So if you want to experience this stupidity for yourself, it was at this link on  I closed the page, I don't even know what viral information was there.  Maybe after I switch to decaf... Nah, I just closed the window and I won't bother watching this supposedly important video as a result. 

I Know I Am Not The Only One Out There Annoyed By This Garbage.   

So folks, its a terrible idea to annoy your customers.  It doesn't work in the real world.  If that grocery store changed their piped in music to, say, Death Metal, a small percentage would love it and their sales would generally drop from all the sweet grannies who can't understand why they're playing growling in the frozen food aisle.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Controlled Chaos of the Annual Tree Trimming

Here in Wilton Manors, once a month, we have something called Bulk Trash Pickup Day.

Ours is coming up.  They will pick up just about anything.

We also have Hurricane Season looming.  Starting June 1, and lasting until November 30, we're told to trim our trees, shrubs, and other plants.   Keep "loose things" tied down and watch the weather. 

Today we're getting a jump on all that.   We've got the tree trimmers by to clear out the gardens and to get the wildness of this semi tropical climate somewhat back under control.  

I just watched a six foot in circumference fan of cut leaf Philodendron work its way out to the swale like some discarded umbrella. A trash can, which was the first of many, stuffed full of more dead palm fronds than I would try to cram into a can at one moment joined it.  The swale will be a giant pile of discarded organic matter. 

I'd love to compost but what would I do with all that "stuff".

It will all be piled up today and tomorrow.  We won't have to worry about drunks parking on the swale this weekend because it will already be parked upon.

The nice thing is that once it's all said and done, I'll have a new garden, the same but different than before.  I'll be able to go back into that garden and find some old treasures that were forgotten and transplant them into new places for future growth and greenery.   My bamboo stand will be accessible for the first time since we planted it so my plans are to try to get some cuttings.  If you have bamboo, you can propagate the stuff by division.  Cut a healthy clump off the "mother" clump and set it in an irrigated spot.  Its just grass with an attitude anyway.

I'll be looking for some greenery to bring into the house for decoration in a vase in all that debris, and there's a Philodendron leaf or three that will go into a vase for a couple weeks until it breeds some more pet mosquitoes for me to care for.   After all, with two people, a dog, and a parrot, there's lots of food for the mosquito to dine on.  Mmmm, yummy mosquito food!

Yes, tag, you're it - or rather I'm it, so I'll watch that water carefully and drop a couple aspirin and a couple copper pennies in to hope that it may just not turn into organic soup and a breeding ground.

I'm looking forward to it all, and of course for it all to be over with.  Chaos can be restorative and welcome, but we are all better once we return to the calm of normal.

Whatever Normal Is...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Cactus In A Shoe - Picture

I've seen this done with a boot, but since it is way too warm here to wear boots, I made do with a pair of sneakers that didn't last as long as they should.

Yes, that is indeed my old pair of sneakers.
Yes, that is a cactus growing in them.

In fact, I've got quite a lot of cactus here on the property.  They're all in pots and we can't really figure out where to put them.  They're all the "spineless" variety but don't let them lie to you, I have a spine in my right index finger I have to dig out from one of those "nonexistent" spines.

Between the two shoes is my pineapple plant.   It seems to like it under the bougainvillea in the back yard.

Once the Cactus roots, I'll find a better spot for them, but for now, I've got two grey planters, Men's Size 11.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Same Old or Subtle New Wilton Manors

This Morning an article popped up on the BBC news site talking about how the world is covered by acres of dark grey asphalt and that it doesn't have to be that way.   We all like having our cars to get somewhere, but it is too much of a good thing.

Shopping centers and malls have to pave a parking area large enough to allow everyone who wants a space to find a spot on the busiest day of the year.  I can remember driving in large and long search patterns in my car at the King of Prussia plaza looking for a place to park before someone else grabs it and wasting a lot of gas in the process.  Imagine this parking lot on Black Friday in November...

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I've also driven past many a shopping center and decided not to bother because it was too full.  We're having that problem here on any given Thursday night.

Wilton Manors seems to be addressing that particular wrinkle in stages.   It really is a small city, and you simply can't expect things to happen overnight.  Some decisions are still in play, and that is the time to effect change.  Incremental change is the best way to do things when there are many people involved, you simply can't demolish an entire business district and start with a rebuild, it is way too complex. You can not expect a city to simply say to its residents that it's time you all reach deep into your pockets, we want to build a parking lot and it's going to cost 4 Million.  It's a quick fix that means you're unemployed next election.  Business owners who failed to do due diligence when they set up shop in an area can't expect that sort of thing to happen.

Set zoning laws, and hope they work, but change them when a better idea comes along.

The article on Auntie BBC had brought up an interesting thought.  Someone somewhere had a wild idea on how to make things a subtle bit better when you aren't using that parking lot.  Plant as many trees as possible to shade the asphalt.   Asphalt acts like a rechargeable battery for heat.  It's darker than the environment typically, although exceptions exist.  It receives sun for the day when something isn't parked over top of it, and warms.  That heat gets radiated outwards and makes the world hotter, as well as your house if you live next to it.   While that is great in a Northern climate, those car parks everywhere are helping to contribute to Global Warming.  If you doubt me, go walk across a parking lot on a sunny August afternoon in Florida and prove me right.

Is it August yet?  Would you like to walk across this lot in 95 degree Florida sunshine and heat?

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Simple solution, those trees join a coat of paint or a color added to the asphalt to allow the sun to be reflected back into the skies instead of storing the heat.  Every degree counts.

It is the same principle of having a lighter colored roof in a warm climate, or a dark one in a snowy one.  Passive solar heating or cooling where needed.  Passive is much less of an impact on the environment than having to run a furnace or air conditioning to make things comfortable.

Another wild idea was to create a shade over the parking area created by a roof of solar panels.  Sell the electricity back to the power company and contribute to the environment. Large enough roof and you have a lot of power, lower the cost of installation by government grants.

If you want to be Green, sometimes you have to think big and take little steps that may not seem important at first.

Sure, it's a wild idea, and they all take money, but when you're stepping back and looking at your existing city and your existing zoning laws, that's the time to take a good hard look at all of them.  After all, there are some very tight and claustrophobia inducing sidewalks around this city and many others.  Before a new building gets built, lets make sure it benefits those who are here and have to live with it, and that includes something as mundane as a parking lot.

If a Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a single step, each little step helps you achieve your goal.