Saturday, June 30, 2012

Old Wisdom - Humor

Velma's having a bit of fun sending me a few jokes.  This one is a story about a dog that outsmarts the rest of the animals in the forests.

One day an old German Shepherd starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.

The old German Shepherd thinks, "Uh, oh! I'm in deep trouble now!"

Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the panther is about to leap, the old German Shepherd exclaims loudly,"Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder, if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.

"Whew!," says the panther, "That was close! That old German Shepherd nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a squirrel, who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther. So, off he goes.

The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther.

The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old German Shepherd sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?," but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old German Shepherd says....

"Where's that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!"

Moral of this story....

Don't mess with the old dogs... Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery!
Bull_ _ _ _ and brilliance only come with age and experience.

Of course, I am in no way insinuating that you are old, just 'youthfully challenged'.

You did notice the size of the print, didn't you

Friday, June 29, 2012

How Do You Know it's Time To Get A New Chip Reader

The Floppy is dead, the "Stiffy" is long gone, the CD is dying, the DVD is annoying to use.   Apple moved away from "optical media" for distributing their software years ago at this point. 

So just how do you move data around today?

For a while, it was Compact Flash cards that were almost indestructible.  They're still around, but not terribly well supported any longer.  There were stories of these larger than a postage stamp sized square getting lost in the trash or dropped into the bottom of the pool and surviving.   I still have a few of these things from that era.

It went to USB "thumb drives" and the SD Chip or SD Card.  Most likely we all have a few of those thumb drives around.   They're typically much smaller than your thumb, but when they came out, that is what they were shaped like. 

As for the SD Chips, I've got quite a few of those.  My camera uses them, my Android phone uses them, one lives in my laptop for professional data, and there is one that lives in my Nook tablet.  There are at least two sizes of them, but they're all the same hardware so they can be used in many places fairly easily.

Today I had a few pictures to get off of the camera, and I couldn't tell you where the cable for the thing was so I had to pop the chip out and put it in the reader.  I'm still waiting for it to read.   I've got a blue spinning donut on the Windows Explorer window telling me that it just doesn't know what to do with all this electronic chaff.   I imagine the little person who lives inside of the LCD screen sitting there, scratching his virtual head, twiddling his virtual thumbs waiting to do something with this but it isn't quite right.  He's about the size of an ant and looks like one too because I see him walking around on the outside of the computer once in a while.

You see, the chip reader is "flaky" and it's time for a new one. 

I guess that means that the pictures of the Penta, Bougainvillea, and Hibiscus from the back yard will have to wait for another day. 

SD Cards are fairly "robust" and put up with a lot of mistreatment.  There is one of them sitting bare on the "mulch" that is on top of my table between the two big green chairs in the living room.  It really should be in a device like a computer but there isn't any real pressure for me to do so since I trust it to survive being placed between a copy of Information Week and last month's check register from the Bank. 

On the other hand, the $.59 reader that I had shipped from a web site a while back isn't doing too well.  I'm afraid the patient isn't going to survive Mr. Moose.

I'm sitting staring at a translucent box plugged into the USB port in the side of my laptop in what mom would have called "Bilious Green".  It's got my 8GB chip sticking toward me like a computerized electronic tongue saying "Neener Neener Neener, I'm not going to give you those pictures! Bwahahah, go find something else to do!".

I guess the Gods of the Devices aren't in my favor and I'll just have to wait a week for that new $.59 reader to get here from my friendly UPS Driver or my friendly USPS Postman.  Both nice folks.  We're lucky that way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What does a Country Bar and Jamaican Mangoes have in common?

Last night I had a walk.  All by myself, and not with the dog, I went out the door in the evening warm.   The weather had ended its fitful rains and all that was left of Tropical Storm Debby was a lot of wind coming in the wrong direction, off the Everglades. 

It was a bit like walking in a hairdryer toward the end of the walk but that's part of living in Subtropical South Florida in late June.

I was alone with my thoughts, walking North on Northeast 6th Avenue toward Oakland Park when I stumbled on something.  Looking down at my right foot I noticed the familiar orange color of a squished fruit.  I laughed at myself thinking, only I could be walking around town and have Mangoes find me.

This was a massive tree, more than 30 feet tall, shading the yard and draping over their privacy fence and sidewalk beyond.  Making a mental note of the location, I walked onward to the bar.

My friends were not there, despite my arriving late after having three different people ask me why I was alone and wanting to share their own drama.  One friend worried about where Mrs Dog was.  Another about his pending move.  A third saying hello and asking about how I was doing.  It's nice living in a small town, even if it is surrounded by a much larger neighbor.

After hanging around and watching the instructor do her Country Line Dancing routine for about 10 minutes, I left.   Country music is neither.  I really can't abide Country Music preferring the static of my own thoughts to that prattle.  Like the old joke goes:  Play the song backward and get your dog back, your wife back, and your truck back.

As I was walking back toward the house, I was thinking about that tree and how amusing it was to go out for a walk alone for the first time in recent memory and stumble across a small pile of fruit.  Literally a windfall, I thought, for the neighbor.  Enjoy it.

Going back more than 20 years in my thoughts I was trying to remember the name of a woman with whom I worked.   I couldn't remember her name, but I could remember the story and the love she showed in the story.  Like most stories of that kind, she was probably romanticizing it, and after all this time, I only knew of the highlights.

She was a born Jamaican.  Beautiful tall and statuesque woman with deep brown skin.   Sweet of demeanor, and pleasant to speak with.  One day we were talking over lunch and she started talking about the differences of what it was like to grow up in Jamaica and living in Suburban Jenkintown PA.  You couldn't walk long distances in Jenkintown, the roads didn't have reliable sidewalks for the task, but you could in Jamaica.  Where she lived, she'd walk down the road and said that if she were hungry, all she needed to do was reach up and pick a Mango and go on her way with sweet juice dripping down her arm.  On Jamaica, people didn't plant trees for decoration like we do here.   A tree had to have a purpose.  If you plant a tree it needed to give back to society more than the protection and shade it offers.  It should give forth fruit or nuts.   Apparently where this woman grew up, the streets were lined with gold in the form of mangoes.

That thought stuck with me to this day, especially as I bent down to pick up one choice mango from the swale for later enjoyment.

I've got a bottlebrush tree in front of my yard, but it is old with termites and dying.   When it goes, I'll have to choose what to plant there.  When I plant it, you can be sure that it will give something back.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

So THAT'S what the Snails in the Candy Box look like!

I see these shells everywhere.

Snail on a Recycle Bin in Wilton Manors, FL 2012 from www.ramblingmoose.comAbandoned homes stuck to signposts, mailboxes, and other stationary objects. 

Silent sentries to a life once lived below the notice of everyone.

I do not know what they're called, just that they're common here in Florida.  I finally saw one alive.  It was in the middle of the deluge that was Tropical Storm Debby.   Climbing for high ground on top of a recycling bin, this small fingernail sized creature was exploring.

In six years of living on the sand bar that is South Florida, this is the first time I have seen one.  Usually I hear them as they become one with the pavement and my shoe at the night time dog walk on a poorly lit sidewalk stroll.   Those and their much larger Apple Snail cousins. 

Trust me, if they were edible, South Florida could easily become the culinary capital of Escargot.  They may be, but since I see what they spray on lawns here, it's best to find your protein elsewhere.

It did occur to me as I looked at this random picture on my laptop blown up to many times larger than normal, I had seen them before.   In the soft focus of the zoom, the last time I had seen one came to mind, or rather tasted one.   Those higher end chocolates that you get in a gift box have a piece that looks quite a lot like this.  In fact, I tend to reach for those quicker than some of the others in an assortment.

This isn't praline filled, it's gone on to live out its life on the street behind mine.   Climbing around slowly, just caught for a glimpse and now going back into its unremarkable existence.  Unnoticed by most and shared here by me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Facebook Changes Default Emails to @facebook

Sure, it's annoying.  I'll never use it.

Yeah I know, "Never Say Never" especially since that is the way "it works".

Facebook is the social media 800 pound gorilla that you love to hate.   It makes arbitrary changes that you don't like, that aren't in your interests, and are downright scary from a security and privacy standpoint.

On the other hand, it makes some aspects of life easier and it really is not a requirement in life.

I tend to use Facebook to go out and gather my news items.  I make a random comment here and there, but not more than 10 a day on average.  Oh and those ads are blocked.

So if you're like me and don't intend (remember, never say never?) to use their email system "ever", here are the instructions to check whether you have been changed.  I wasn't but I also don't have Timeline yet.  I never opted in, and it is probably one of the most ugly designs for a display of information that I have ever seen, and yes I do web project management professionally.  

Really Facebook, put away your crayons and get your designers back to work.

Anyway - sign into Facebook and follow these steps for "Old Facebook":

  • Click About to get into your Account Settings
  • Under General Settings, Click the button beside the appropriate email account to set your primary email account.

Mind you, this looks totally different under the "old" facebook.   Timeline settings are different.  I've been lucky to fly under that butt-ugly Timeline for now... Lets hope ...

For Timeline,

  • Click About to show settings.
  • Next to "Contact Info" click Edit to show your current status.
  • Set personal information to "Shown on Timeline".
  • Set the Privacy option on Email to what you would like it:  At this point you can show to only you, or anyone else at four different levels including Public and Friends.  If you want nobody emailing you, set it to Only Me.

Remember if you aren't the customer, you're the product being sold.  If you don't want Facebook sharing it, Don't put it on Facebook.   That basically sums up their terms of service.  If you understand where you are in that particular "game", you can act accordingly.

This particular information is all over the web and the blogs but if you can't fathom my information above, there is an article on Tech Crunch that gives you all the pictures you can possibly want to help you along.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Looking Forward to Microsoft Surface with Windows 8

Recently, Microsoft brought out their "beta" version of Windows 8 for all to see.  You can download a test copy if you want to play around with it.  I didn't link that purposely here because I know I would and someone would be thinking they're getting a free upgrade - you aren't, they're timed to die shortly after the next version of Windows comes out and you'd just blame me.   Unless you have a spare computer around you may want to hold off.

Microsoft also showed off their "Alpha" hardware that will run it.   You see we're in for a choice now.  That always makes things interesting.  I'd give you a direct Microsoft link but they're changing things around for their next big thing.  You can see pictures of the hardware here at this blog posting on Tech Crunch.

What's happening is that the move into the "Post PC Era" is fully underway.  There will always be people who demand the fastest hardware and the shiniest boxes.  Most of the people who I speak with don't need that.  In fact, I'm writing this on my go-to PC which is a 2 year old laptop that was lovingly upgraded with as much memory as it will take when it was on sale.  When asked "Bill, what kind of PC do I need", most folks would do very well with an iPad or just a refresh on their older machines.

But boy do those new machines look great.

You see we're all being trained to want a tablet machine to play with, a home computer to sit in the corner, and far too many people are walking into street light poles while they're texting on their iPhones and looking for current conditions.   We're always on and always looking for things on our teeny little phone screens.

Not necessarily a bad thing, but if someone pulls out a phone while they're talking to me, I'll find a reason to end the conversation.

On the other hand, the way we use our smartphones are finally influencing the way we're using our home computer.  We are beginning to ask the question "Why can't I do that on Windows".   After all, Microsoft still owns the desktop despite that we can have an Android Tablet, iPhone running iOS, and a Windows machine as our "daily driver".

Microsoft will be answering that, and the hardware is interesting that they're using to do so.  Basically it's the same hardware as an Android Tablet under the hood but it comes with a really slick keyboard that is detachable.  They realized that there's a very strong market for covers and detachable keyboards for the iPad, so if you can't beat them, join them.   It looks just like I would expect it to for something that is supposed to get you to the next step past the iPad. 

That keyboard will talk to the new Surface tablet using Bluetooth and can be left behind if you want to hunt and peck on the tablet's glass screen.  I've never quite gotten used to that, it always feels numb to this touch typist so that candy colored keyboard will be welcome.

The things you create on your tablet will be able to be used on your other computers since it will come equipped with an SD chip - think teeny little postage stamp sized memory stick.  So why lug a big heavy laptop or tether to a desktop machine?

Power mostly.  The Surface Tablets will be running low power ARM chips, just like an iPad or Android tablet.   Those chips will let you work almost all day on a charge, but they are a little short winded when it comes to the kind of things that Windows does well like running many programs at once.  Most folks won't mind of course, power users will.

On the other hand, all your familiar desktop/laptop programs will make it there since you'll be running "Real Windows" on a tablet.  Microsoft Office, standard browsers, and all the games we've come used to will run on that 10 inch screen on a light computer that can go anywhere.

It's all about rightsizing your computing needs.  After all, how many homes really NEED that $2000 beast of a Desktop computer when all you're doing is surfing.  I can do that quite well on a 10 year old laptop running an old copy of Windows XP or Linux.  If you really do need all that horsepower, it's gotten pretty cheap in comparison to those old beasty Desktops that I built over the years when I thought nothing of spending $1000 to get a machine that would cost twice that "back in the day".

There are two things I don't care for in the whole Tablet marketing.

1) You're locked in.  You can't upgrade.  You may be limited to the current operating system you buy it with.  You may not be able to use it once the parent company decides they aren't supporting it any longer.

2) They're designed to be disposable.   That is why you get Apple Care on your iPad.  Hello Mr Genius, it doesn't hold a charge, fix it.  Or something similar.  The latest Mac Books are glued together and that means that the parts are not recyclable nor reparable.   It's a trend that will continue because it means that you're locked into their production cycle.

I expect that those two things will never change since they're in the "vendor's" best interests to keep things the way they are.  After all, if it is a problem, I can spend the same money that I would on an iPad and get one very powerful laptop. 

You're making a choice between portability and power and for once you actually do have that choice.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Witticisms of Ignorance - Humor

Our Velma from Philly sent me this list of Witticisms.  I'm reading them as I'm formatting the list for the web and got a few chuckles out of it so I'm sure you will too.

Witticisms of Ignorance

Its not whether you win or lose,  but how you place the blame.

You are not drunk  if you can lie on the floor without holding on.

We have enough youth.. How about a fountain of "smart"?

The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.

A fool and his money can throw one heck of a party.

When blondes have more fun do they know it?

Five days a week my body is a temple.   The other two it's an amusement park.

Money isn't everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

If at first you don't succeed skydiving is not for you..

Reality is only an illusion that occurs due to a lack of alcohol.

Time's fun when you're having flies.......Kermit the Frog

We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse

Ninety-nine percent of all lawyers give the rest a bad name..

One good thing about Alzheimer's is, you get to meet new people every day.

Xerox and Wurlitzer will merge to produce reproductive organs.

Alabama  state motto:  At least we're not Mississippi


You know why a banana is like a politician?  When he first comes in he is green,
then he turns yellow and then he's rotten.

I think Congressmen should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we could identify their corporate sponsors.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Murder at Costco - Humor

I guess I should be glad I gave up on Costco a while back.  They never had my dog's favorite dog food and BJ's Wholesale has it.  In fact BJ's has it at a good enough price that I save the cost of a membership after buying two large bags of "Purina Lamb and Rice" there.  After all it really is all about my dog Lettie, isn't it?

As for the membership fees - they're bogus no matter where you go.

At any rate, a friend Scott from up in Philly sent this one along.   He's got a dark sense of humor sometimes... maybe he's trying to tell me not to go back to Costco.  There's this story about someone's last trip to Costco...


Tired of constantly being broke and stuck in an unhappy marriage, a young husband decided to solve both problems by taking out a large insurance policy on his wife, with himself as the beneficiary, and then arranging to have her killed.

A 'friend of a friend' put him in touch with a nefarious, dark-side underworld figure who went by the name of 'Artie.' Artie explained to the husband that his going price for snuffing out of a spouse was $10,000.

The husband said he was willing to pay that amount but that he wouldn't have any cash on hand until he could collect his wife's insurance money. Artie insisted on being paid at least something up front, so the man opened his wallet, displaying the single dollar bill that rested inside.

Artie sighed, rolled his eyes and reluctantly agreed to accept the dollar as down payment for the dirty deed.

A few days later, Artie followed the man's wife to the local Costco Warehouse.  There, he surprised her in the produce department and proceeded to strangle her with his gloved hands. As the poor unsuspecting woman drew her last breath and slumped to the floor, the manager of the produce department stumbled unexpectedly onto the murder scene. Unwilling to leave any living witnesses behind, ol' Artie had no choice but to strangle the produce manager as well.

However, unknown to Artie, the entire proceedings were captured by the hidden security cameras and observed by the shop's security guard, who immediately called the police. Artie was caught and arrested before he could even leave the premises.

Under intense questioning at the police station, Artie revealed the whole sordid plan, including his unusual financial arrangements with the hapless husband who was also quickly arrested. The next day in the newspaper, the headline declared..

(You're going to hate me for this...)

'ARTIE CHOKES 2 for $1.00@ Costco

Friday, June 22, 2012

Printers Spewing Ads Caused By The Milicenso Virus

Not to worry, they are already working on the fix for this one. 

If you have not updated your Virus program in a while, it's a good time for a reminder.   Personally, I use Microsoft Security Essentials.  It's free, it's widely seen as one of the better ones, and you don't have someone looming over your shoulder selling you something every so often like a subscription.

I haven't gotten hit by a virus yet, although MS Security Essentials has caught them on a download.

Just consider this as a friendly reminder to take a look at your virus program and make sure it's up to date.  If the date on the "Virus Signature" is more than a couple days old, you're going to need to update it.  I saw a computer recently that stopped updating its virus signatures.  The fix for that was to uninstall their old virus scanner, and install a new one of their choice. 

This particular virus is really a trojan.  It serves up advertising and makes your printer waste paper printing out reams of ads.  If you're at home, you will notice it faster than if you're at work.   There you'll have your "IT Guy" having a fit with the printer.

Kind of an amusing threat, if you're not the person who has to do that sort of desktop support.

So if your printer is spewing paper, update your virus scanner and make sure that you run a full scan.

Which ever virus scanner you have.

If you are feeling particularly "Geeky" you can read the write up on this latest virus here at Symantec.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New iPhone Connector Means Wrong Time to buy a Dock

If you have your eyes on a shiny new iPhone accessory and are thinking about an upgrade to the next phone, the iPhone 5... hold on to your wallet for a while.

In fact, don't buy that dock until a month after the next iPhone comes out.   Rule of thumb of course.

Apple makes their money by staying "proprietary" but when you're the 800 pound gorilla, your proprietary standards become what the market uses.

It's been "leaked" by the technical press and the blogs that the next iPhone will come out with all sorts of features and specs.  Some are true, some are false.  One feature that has been confirmed already is a new connector for the bottom of the phone.  

Sure, that's a small detail, but it's an important one.   I see iPhone Docks for all sorts of purposes, from the very simple to the most complex.   Standing pylons that you can plug your phone into and have it act as a speaker system to fill the room with sound from the songs or streams you have on your phone are great, but if you buy it and they change things, you're not going to be so happy.  Of course most audio docks have a place for you to plug your phone or non-Apple device into it using the headphone jack, and that's what you'll be limited to in the future with your current device.

I can hear one person in particular saying "But they don't last THAT long, do they.".  He is right, electronics aren't built to last "that long" unlike my 1956 Blaupunkt Hi Fi that has tubes in it that are older than I am, but that isn't really the point, is it?

The rest of the world, Android and Windows Mobile, use a standard connector.   It's a "micro" version of the USB connector that we all know and love.  That Micro USB connector has a problem in that it is very small which means it snaps comparatively easily - be gentle with it, they don't like to be slapped around.   Nobody does, but with an electronic connector a simple shock means that you could be at the end of your relationship with your prized device.

Apple steadfastly refuses to be standard.  So they have their own "standard" connector.  It's an Apple thing, I guess that's why I am writing this on an HP laptop.   Sure they make beautiful equipment, but you have to pay for an expensive warranty and buy into their whole mindset of use it and return to the Genius Bar to have it fixed.

For the "suburban types" who don't want to learn how to repair or build their equipment, this is fine if not preferable.  Personally I prefer to know I am not limited by "standards".

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flash Crash on Firefox

The latest update for Adobe Flash, version 11.3 does not play well all the time with Firefox.

The symptoms are that you go to a page with a video and it won't play, it will show as a black or grey box, or simply fail to load.   If you want to see Firefox's help page on it, you can read all the details there.

The suggestion is to "downgrade" Flash to the older version.

Luckily here I am not seeing the problem since I tend to be slow on Flash upgrades unless I see warnings on websites of dire doom and gloom.   They seem to be upgrading Flash almost every time I reboot this computer. 

Personally, I think it's a great technology that's time has passed.  There are other ways to manage that sort of video such as HTML5, which is coming down the pike.

If you are having some problems seeing the video that I have embedded below, you may want to follow this help link at Firefox's website for more hints.

The video is one of Border Collies herding sheep and is safe for all audiences.

Who doesn't love Border Collies?  Awwww! CUUUUTE!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How About Just A Little Bread Dough

After Saturday's bake-a-thon making rolls for the week and fresh Hotteok for snacks, I got to thinking.

That's always dangerous, but it occurred to me that if you sometimes can scale up a recipe, can you scale it down?

The short answer is sometimes, Yes.

My sister Pat's Pizza Dough Recipe is one that I use frequently for all sorts of bizarre things including baguettes, dinner rolls, burger buns, boule, and even sometimes, Pizza.

The challenge was just how small and simple can I reduce the recipe to make a perfect bit of bread.   The answer was I was able to make three sandwich sized rolls out of the result.   It would make two Hoagie rolls from just this amount.

The other thing - if you don't have a bread machine or don't know much about making bread, this is a small and non-threatening recipe.   Why non-threatening?   I mixed the entire amount in a two quart bowl.  Yes, about the size of an average saucepan.   If you have a "regular" sized non stick saucepan, it will make it even easier.

The recipe is simple:

Add to your bowl the following ingredients in order:

  • 2 ounces to 2 1/2 ounces warm water
  • 2 Teaspoon cooking oil - suggest for taste Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup Bread Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Yeast
You may need to add a little extra water to get just the right dough consistency.  I used 3 ounces when I did this and it was a little loose.  I ended up adding a little extra flour to balance things out.

Mix all of this in your bowl by hand.  It should go together easily.  I used my hands, literally, and played with it like play-doh. 

When smooth, divide into rolls, baguettes, or into a bread pan.  Allow to rise for 2 to 4 hours (or more) or until it doubles in size.

Bake at 450F and check at 9 minutes for proper done-ness and a good hollow thump on the bread.  It may go longer or shorter depending on how hot your oven runs.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Korean Donuts - Hotteok

It really started with a long arc of watching strange videos on YouTube.  I started looking around at some science videos, stumbled into strange sushi restaurant videos in Seoul Korea and that opened the door to the Korean Donuts.

Strictly speaking, by an American Standard, they're probably more like a Pancake than a donut, and they're dead easy to make.

Like they say, anything's easy if you're taught how, so after watching a video of a woman making these things in a shop, I thought it would be fun to try.

I purposely made them small, even doubled I'd be hard pressed to call this more than around 200 calories.

I know the calorie count because I used my sister Pat's Pizza Dough Recipe for the batter.   It's a batter, or dough really, that makes up 1500 calories of some of the best bread I have had since moving to Florida.  When I make the dough, I break it into 10 equal parts, and roll each part into a ball.   Allow to rise for 2 to 4 hours and bake at 450F for about 10 minutes.   Check at 9 minutes and every minute past that.

Pat's Pizza Dough Recipe is here.

If you take one of those dough balls, and split into two pieces, you have the basis for your donuts.

Flatten each half into a small pancake that will be about the size of your palm.

Add 1 teaspoon of Brown Sugar to the center and spread out somewhat leaving a little bit of open dough near the edges.

Add a few pieces of chopped nuts - literally about a tenth of an ounce.

Dust the brown sugar and nuts with cinnamon.

Pinch the edges together to form a ball.  The ball should have the filling mixture enclosed inside.

Place the ball on a skillet that has been oiled and brought up to medium heat.  I used a non stick skillet that has been wiped with safflower oil.  I didn't want a strong tasting oil interfering with the sweet filling that would be the result of all that brown sugar melting inside.

Cook the ball until the bottom is beginning to turn golden brown.  Using a spatula or similar flat object, press down firmly but slowly on the top of the ball until it flattens.   You will end up with a pancake shape and roughly the "usual" pancake thickness.

Continue to cook on the first side until it looks "done".  I went for a golden brown and it was perfect!  

Flip the Hotteok pancake and cook on the other side until golden brown.

Repeat until you've made all your hotteoks.  Serve hot.

The result is a small pancake donut that tastes like a cinnamon bun.  That is to say... amazing.

The filling will turn from brown sugar into a wonderful syrup.  Trust me it's easier than it sounds.   The history of this is that it is a street food served as snacks all over Korea and China.   It's made and served in different ways, such as fried in fat like a french fry resulting in a more familiar donut shape.

I took liberties with the recipe and the process because my sweet tooth is WAY too strong.  Just wanted the right amount.  In fact we liked it so much that we made it again the next day.  It's a recipe that will be made when I am making rolls.  Since I've already gone through the effort of making all those rolls I can take two of them and make two large Hotteok as treats.

The interesting thing is that like any "street food", Hotteok are made with a lot of different styles of filling.  You can always use the method to make a hot sandwich or a savory treat like a Cornish Pastie.  I've already started experimenting with this versatile method of cooking, and I am liking the results.

The Video below is a short that shows you all the steps in about 50 seconds.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Then Choose

I had been sent this posting by Velma a while back and this morning I thought I'd share it with you.  I can't say I am this upbeat.  I have been told that I'm more upbeat than most, but this guy has us all beat.  It's a story to make you think about your choices.


John is the kind of guy you love to hate.   He is always in a good  mood and always has something positive to say.  When someone would  ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would  be twins!'

He was a natural motivator. 

If an employee was having a bad  day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive  side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, 'I don't get it!'
'You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?' 
He replied, 'Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood can choose to be in a bad mood

I choose to be in a good mood.' Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it.  I choose to learn from it.  Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or...I can point out the positive side of life.  I choose the positive side of life. 

'Yeah, right, it's not that easy,' I protested.  'Yes, it is,' he said.  'Life is all about choices.  When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice.  You choose how you react to situations.  You choose how people affect your mood. 

You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood.  The bottom line:  It's your choice how you live your life.'  I reflected on what he said.  Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business.  We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.  After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.  I saw him about six months after the accident. 

When I asked him how he was, he replied, 'If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?' 
I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his  mind as the accident took place. 

'The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my  soon-to-be born daughter,' he replied.  'Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices:  I could choose to live or...I could choose to die.  I chose to live.' 
'Weren't you scared?  Did you lose consciousness?'  I asked. 
He continued, '...the paramedics were great.

They kept telling me I was going to be fine.  But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared.  In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'.  I knew I needed to take action.'    'What did you do?' I asked.

'Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,' said John.   'She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.'   The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.  I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity'' 

Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live.  Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'  He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude....I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. 

Attitude, after all, is everything. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Zipper - Humor

I was sent this one by Kevin.   Going through my joke emails this morning, it gave me a smile.   After all, who hasn't had a problem getting onto a Bus once in a while...


In a crowded city at a busy bus stop, a woman who was waiting for a bus was wearing a tight leather skirt. As the bus stopped and it was her turn to get on, she became aware that her skirt was too tight to allow her leg to come up to the height of the first step of the bus.

Slightly embarrassed and with a quick smile to the bus dr iver, she reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little, thinking that this would give her enough slack to raise her leg.

Again, she tried to make the step only to discover she still couldn't.

So, a little more embarrassed, she once again reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little more.

For the second time, attempted the step, and, once again, much to her chagrin, she could not raise her leg.

With little smile to the driver, she again reached behind to unzip a little more and again was unable to make the step.

About this time, a large man who was standing behind her picked her up easily by the waist and placed her gently on the step of the bus.

She went ballistic and turned to the would-be Samaritan and screeched, "How dare you touch my body! I don't even know who you are!'

The man smiled and said, "Well, ma'am, normally I would agree with you, but after you unzipped my fly three times, I kinda figured we were friends."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Popcorn in the Coffee

I use a Popcorn Popper to roast coffee.   It's beyond easy, but of course anything is easy when you've been taught how to do it.

There's a specific brand of popper that works best, a West Bend Poppery II, and it will roast my beans from green to medium dark roast in six minutes 30 seconds plus or minus 30 seconds depending on how hot the day is.  You can find these at garage sales and thrift stores everywhere, I paid $6 for mine.

Yes, pour green beans in, plug it in, wait for 6 and a half minutes of growling, allow to cool and you're done.  

So after three years of doing this I got the urge to make popcorn the other night.  Since I'm watching what I eat, I didn't want a bag of popcorn, I wanted a very controlled batch of air popped popcorn with just a little butter.   The bright idea was that I have this perfectly good popcorn popper sitting in the kitchen, why not use it for its intended purpose, the worst that could happen was a coffee flavored batch.

The popcorn turned out fine with no coffee taste.  It also didn't clean the brown coffee color that the beans have painted on the walls of the machine over the three years. 

I had a nice simple solution to my dietary needs.   Air Popped popcorn can taste like packing material, and it is actually legal in the US to use popcorn to pack things to be sent via the US Postal Service.  May as well, right?   I might do that next time I have to ship something if I can't find shipping bags.

So this morning, waking up at the crack of 5AM, after the dog walk and the first mug of morning half caff, it was time to roast more regular beans.   The sun wasn't quite up, and I didn't look closely into the popper hopper as I poured in my green beans.

Yawning as I set the timer, I went on to make the rest of my breakfast and waited for the magic to happen.  Green went to yellow amber and then to brown, scenting the back yard with the smell of rich roasting coffee.  As I started eating that breakfast, the timer sounded and I pulled the popper back into the kitchen through the window.

I had noticed that there were a few beans scattered on the deck outside the window, food for the Opossum I guess, and didn't know why until I poured out a fresh batch of coffee and popcorn onto the dinner plate that I use to cool the beans.  I'll go out there and inspect the lanai later.

So the moral of the story is, look before you roast.  You might have a snack with your coffee.   There were a few unpopped kernels of popcorn left in the hopper before I began the roast and they popped with the coffee.

Tasted good too!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why my Parrot is in his Terrible Twenties

Intelligent pets take finesse.  You're in it for the long haul.

I've had my Orange Wing Amazon Parrot, Oscar since 1986.  His personality evolves continuously.  Now that he's decided to be a part of the flock instead of keeping himself apart, he's insisting on being heard.

That's why his cage is on the floor at this moment.

Yelling at a Parrot doesn't work.  He'll learn to yell back.  Any parrot will yell louder than you will so it's not going to help.   There's a cockatoo that lives three blocks away and when the wind's right I can hear him at least a block from his home.

I've set the cage on the floor a mere 3 feet from my knee at the moment, after telling him I was going to put him outside so "he can play with the hawks".  Better to keep him inside where the local wildlife won't inspect the mango sitting on the bottom of the cage.

He is why I have found an excellent pair of $3 noise cancelling headphones to listen to music while I am trying to get things done.   We learned where the parrot zone of noise is and keep the sound in the house to a minimum.   Since the dog is getting profoundly hard of hearing, she's not adding to the drama preferring to sleep the day away.

When you have a curious feathered Einstein living with you, they demand their own attention.  My neighbor from across the street has learned to talk to the parrot quietly and make sure you remove the baseball cap.  He does this because from the moment he comes in, Oscar is making his jungle noises to get his attention.  Say hi to the bird and let him get it out of his system.

Like having a toddler isn't it?  Why is the sky blue has a special quirky poignancy to it because you can understand it.  Brakk, squawk, squeek, whistle does not have the same weight.

So now that he's on the floor I've just opened the door to the cage so he can walk around.

Being a social creature he's trying to make friends with Lettie, my dog.   She's not fond of that.  In fact the latest trick that the parrot has taught the dog was the Go Into The Bedroom trick.

Here's how it goes.

I open the cage door, and Oscar comes out.  Walking down to the floor he looks for the scraps that the dog left from that dog biscuit that I gave her about an hour ago. 

Not understanding the theory behind Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie, Oscar stealthily approaches.   By Stealthily, I mean, saying Hello and "Urp" and other jungle noises.   I guess that's Orange Wing Amazon for "Hey let's play".

Lettie is still asleep since she can't hear this.

Oscar walks over to Lettie and tries to preen her.   Now, I know that it's meant as a gesture of friendship.  I've stood next to his cage and he'll walk over and preen my hair, even going so far as to gently grasp my earlobe.

But to a 12 year old, mostly deaf, Mc Nab Dog who is fearful of other's shadows as well as the shadow's owners, this is a call to action.

Lettie understands that one is not to eat the parrot.  He's a tough old bird and wouldn't taste well anyway.  She takes the high road.

Standing up, she barks at the errant reprobate of a bird four times, then trots out of the room.   It's always four times, maybe that means something in Dog, I don't know.

Being curious, Oscar has done his deed after moving the dog so that he can pick up the dog mat and check it's texture, then move onto the sea grass basket and try to see if he can get in a few chews before I tell him to go home.

No, Oscar, the dog's mat hasn't changed and I still don't want you chewing on the furniture. Now, you've had your fun and "Go Home!".

Having said all that I watch as the mostly green bird waddles his way back into the cage.   I lock him up and take the time for a nice block of piece and quiet.

Should last five minutes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No-Cook Accidental Mango Jelly Recipe

You ask, just how can Mango Jelly be Accidental?

Every cook makes mistakes.  Sometimes the mistakes can be useful.  Other times you are feeding the rats.

The end result was a No-Cook Mango Jelly.  Yes, No Cook Fresh Jelly.  It worked because the juices in the Mango combined with the fruit pectin while I was waiting for the canning pot to come up to temperature and true to it's name, it "Sure Jell"ed.

This time I actually took the mistake, cooked it over a medium heat until it reached 180F, and then canned it.

There is a rule of thumb for canning that seems to be apparent.  I don't know if it is hard and fast, but it seems to work.   Simply put, cook your food so that it attains 180F for a solid minute.  Then fill the jars, add to the water bath, and simmer at 180F for 10 minutes.

Granted, there are some "caveats" to this.
I am preparing fruit jelly that is fully cooked.
The jars are all properly sterilized at a full boil.
I am at sea level. 
Actually I am at 15 feet above sea level plus another 5 feet or so for where the pot actually rests if you want to be pedantic.

Now, all these warnings aside, I managed to make a thick pudding or a proper "spread on your bread" jelly without cooking.  No heat at all. 


Since no heat was used, you would have to refrigerate or freeze this jelly.   Serve as soon as you can.   Don't expect this to be something you can leave out at room temperature unless you go through the whole canning process.

But... if you want a fruit jelly recipe, or want to make pudding and don't want the bother of cooking, this may work for you.

I was shocked when I did this and it made that "accidental pudding" but I definitely will do this again.  After all, I still have around 20 pounds of Mangoes ripening in the kitchen.

Ingredients as I prepared the dish:
  • 30 ounces or 850 grams of Mango chunks.  Just short of two pounds.
  • 1 pound or 450 grams of granulated sugar.
  • 1 packet of Sure Jell fruit pectin.

Why the Grams when I live in the US?  I prepared this metrically because I was trying to follow a different recipe.  I followed it "wrong" and got a strange result.   I also made this by weight, so I don't have "cups" for your sugar. 

Just buy a 1 pound bag, I won't tell.  It makes for a sweet recipe, you may want to adjust either fruit or sugar to taste.

The Process:

  • Add the Mango Chunks to the Food Processor.
  • Add the Sure Jell to the Mango Chunks in the Food Processor.
  • Blend in Food processor until smooth
  • Add the Sugar to the Mix.
  • Blend in Food Processor until smooth.  Yes, again.
  • Pour into nonreactive glass jars or bowls.  Or into a precooked Pie Crust for Pie.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour or until Mango sets and then serve.
You're done.  It really is that easy.  Think of this as a kitchen "hack".   I noticed that you can substitute Peaches for any recipe that Mango is used.  For that matter, Banana should work as well.  

As for the Canned Result?   Well that was a story for another day.   I will say that when I poured the Accidental Mango Jelly into the pot to heat it, it was thick like pudding, and tasted excellent.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Great Mango Harvest of 2012

A little way down the road from me grows this tree.  It is a Mango Tree, and it towers over the neighborhood like a sentinel.

I was told about the fruit from this tree by someone who lived here for a while.  She had this dreamy look in her eyes and said that it was fruit unlike any other and that it would be a treat if I ever got a chance to have some.

She was right.  This fruit is beyond sweet, and to have a tree ripened mango from this tree is a privilege to be sure.

The other day when we walked past the tree, the new owner of the property was bending down and picking up a piece of fruit that had just fallen, muttering to himself disgustedly.

His words were "I've had quite enough fruit from this and every other mango tree.".

A conversation ensued and he insisted that he was not interested in having the fruit from this tree now or in the future and we were welcome to it.

That made my mango loving soul do backflips in sweet anticipation.

You see this particular tree also produces massive fruit.   Each Mango can be as large as two pounds.  Since the tree is in excess of 40 or 50 feet at the crown, that two pounds of sweetness could kill you if it hit you in the head.  Falling mangoes have broken windshields and left nasty dents in cars, so the trees should be placed with care, just like your head.

We went to the big box store and got a fruit picker which was a metal basket on a 20 foot telescoping pole and started having fun.   My being the tallest person within blocks, I realized that even with me, this wasn't going to get the mangoes from the top of the tree without some help.   This called for ingenuity.

A roll of Duct Tape also helped.

There was a "pole saw" with another 20 foot of telescopic length that we taped the fruit picker to giving us roughly 40 feet of reach.

This ended up being an "I Love Lucy" expedition.

40 feet of fiberglass pole with a metal basket on the end, wobbling in the stiff breezes off the ocean.   Reaching into the boughs toward the red and green goodness, we snatched the fruit.   First from the area over the carport, then over the yard, most of the fruit would be removed.

The world was a little safer and sweeter at the same time.

This work doesn't happen quickly.  Since there was 40 feet worth of pole to manhandle, traffic control had to happen.  We'd reach up into the tree, then start jockeying the pole over the little corner plot trying not to drop the fruit onto passing cars or the gathering passersby that collect anytime something different was happening around town.  Waving to the local police officers that drove by with amusement, we continued our work.

By the time we were done, there was at least 30 pounds of fruit ranging up to a pound and a half each.  After giving away some to the owner of the property who groaned but thanked us anyway, we've got a full table of ripening goodness.

Once all that fruit begins to get just a little soft to the touch, there will be a lot of enjoyment from it all.  I'll be watching for the lady who first told me how wonderful that fruit is.  There are a couple choice mangoes sitting on the table waiting for her.

Oddly enough this was not a good year for fruit.  Something in the weather was not quite right and we ended up with fewer fruit but larger ones.  This year must have been a "resting year" and that means next year it will be more productive. 

That will have us all dancing around while the fruit ripens.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Poached Fish Fillets are Easy - Recipe

I had to try this when I saw how simple the recipe was.

You need a skillet or frying pan large enough to fit the fish in it comfortably.  I would call that skillet "Dinner Plate Sized".

The Ingredients as you see here are:

4 Pollock Fillets around 10 ounces of fish.
1/2 tsp of Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp of Dill
1/2 tsp of Pickling Spice
1/2 tsp of Rosemary
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of White Wine.

That's it.

Mind you, if you don't like the idea of wine, you can substitute water and some wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.  The alcohol steamed out and I barely tasted the wine in the fish.

The spice mix was a little overdone as well.  I'd probably leave out the Rosemary and Pickling Spice or cut them back next time depending on the mood.  Frankly the spices are up to you, if you prefer a different mix, go for it.  Usually it's a little lemon, a little butter, and a little Dill.  This was what I was in the mood for that night.  I selected things at random and managed to get the quantities right on first try.

The process is simple.

Add the water, wine and spice to the skillet.
Bring the skillet to a rolling boil.
Add fish and bring the skillet back to a rolling boil.

The Definition of a Rolling Boil is boiling water or other liquids at the speed so that when you stir them, the bubbles do not go away.   I had thought it was a vigorous boil, which is when you boil the daylights out of something.

For Frozen Fish, simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
It will be less time for unfrozen fish, on the order of 6 to 8 minutes.

Looking at all of this has me thinking ... I know what lunch will be today!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Tablecloth

While hunting for a posting to put up today, I was looking through things and this one caught my eye.  It's a beautiful story, even says so in the post so you know it has to be true.   Since Diane sent it along, I thought it would be a nice one to share for a Sunday Morning. 

The Tablecloth

Beautiful story.... makes you understand that things happen for a reason

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service
on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.
On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rain storm hit the area and lasted for two days.
On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church.

His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.
The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross
embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.
Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, E B G were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten "The Tablecloth". The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria.

When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church..

The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. 

He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years between.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas
reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid who says God does work in mysterious ways.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How to Install a Southern Home Security System - Humor

You know, this is an interesting thought.   How to protect your home.  I think just being the crazy neighbor helps too but hey, if you want to give this a go, let me know how it turns out. 

Kevin decided to share this with me, so have a groan with us...


1. Go to Goodwill and buy a pair of size 14 -16 men's work boots.

2. Place them on your front porch, along with an old, well-read copy of Guns & Ammo Magazine.

3. Put four giant dog dishes next to the boots and magazines.

4. Leave a note on your door that reads ......


Bertha, Duke, Slim, & I went for more ammo and beer.  Be back in an hour. Don't mess with the pit bulls.  They got the mailman this morning and messed him up bad.  I don't think Killer took part, but it was hard to tell from all the blood.  Anyway, I locked all four of 'em in the house.  Better wait outside.  Be right back.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Want the Dog? Call the Parrot.

I'm in a wierd feedback loop of a relationship here.   Yes, that squealing you're hearing is just the normal way of life in this house.

I've got a Mc Nab Dog, which is Canine for intelligent but fearful 12 year old Lettie.

I've got an Orange Wing Amazon, which is Avian for mischievous and crafty Oscar who I have had since 1986.

And of course I'm in the middle of it all.

My Lettie is a bit jealous as well.   If I give a treat to Oscar, I've got to have one for Lettie.   If I give one to Lettie first, she still wants another.   With a dog, that shows where you are in the pack.  If you eat first, you're ranked higher.

So I give Oscar his treat first and Lettie mopes and acts as if she's got to try harder.

She does this by becoming superglued to my calf.  Or both.  There's a lot of glue going on there.

It's mango season here in South Florida, and I love the things.  I keep picking the fruit and gathering it from the trees that I've been told I can do so, and the kitchen right now has a scent of mango about it.  Oscar and Lettie both love mango also.  

I'll make up a bowl, 10 ounces are 200 calories, and there's the dog glued to my leg, and the parrot yelling at me "HELLO!" for samples. 

Tripping over the dog, I bring Oscar the pit with a little fruit still stuck to it, and now Lettie's getting insistent.

Jealousy, thy name is Dog.

Cause, effect, dog begging, parrot speaking... it's normal here.   If I look at the cage and say Oscar, I have a dog watching me.   If I give the dog her cookie, I hear "HELLO!".   After all, Oscar's just bold and dumb enough to try to take that cookie away from Lettie.

It's so very Darwinian here.   First the snack gets past me, then it's up for grabs.  Just like having toddlers or worse, twins.  Now, let me put the cage on the floor and open the door.   Oscar's rattling around that Mango Pit from yesterday and Lettie's asleep.  I have a feeling a dog's going to get a visit from a feathered friend.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Firefox and Turn Off The Smoothscrolling

I love Firefox.

Well no, Pee Wee I don't want to marry it.

On the other hand, I'm so very used to the way it works and its quirks that I can't conceive of using anything else.

It works on all the computers I use - Linux, Windows, and Mac.   It does things well.  It can be extended so that I block advertisements and "nasty" websites.  It does not spy on me (Hear that Chrome?).  It's not Bloated (I'm talking to you Internet Explorer).  It isn't forced on me (I don't want to go on a Safari to check into a website).

So yesterday I updated my Firefox.  If you click on the link, it will tell you if you are up to date.

After loading up my normal 150 web pages and muddling through most of the routine, I see only one problem.

Smoothscroll was turned on "accidentally" by the upgrade to Firefox 13.

I'm not the kind of person who likes Smoothscroll.   It reminds me of when I was a kid sitting on a swivel chair and spinning around faster and faster so that when I stopped the world kept moving.

On this particular laptop (2 year old Core2Duo with Windows 7 and 8 Gigs of Memory), Smoothscroll doesn't smoothly scroll it fidgets to the next page.   In a spastic wretching and lurching forward, you get the next page of data instead of a quick "Snap!" to the next page.

I know Smoothscrolling is supposed to look like you are skimming down a written page but to me it is annoying.   Not nausea inducing, just annoys me while I sit there thinking why isn't it there yet?

I don't want to be that kid in the back seat saying "Are We There Yet" when I'm looking at pictures of cats or puppies, nor do I want to be wondering why it's taking so long to scan to the bottom of a page of 100 jobs in a job search website.

Do the job.  Do it quickly, efficiently, and with a minimum of that eye candy nonsense.  You're just slowing me down.

Ok, enough of the rant.  If you want to turn on or turn off Firefox's "feature" of smooth scrolling down your pages - which doesn't work, here are the basic instructions.

  1. Launch Firefox.
  2. Click on Tools.
  3. Click on Options.
  4. Click on the Advanced icon that looks like a gear.
  5. Click on the General Tab (No, not the one that looks like a light switch, the tab below that.  I'll wait.  Good.)
  6. Look down to the middle of the panel in the browsing section and click the box to the left of "Use Smooth Scrolling".
  7. Enjoy.
Now that you have finished, here's your treat.  A short video about an adorable little girl being taught by a friendly Boxer dog how to drink from the hose.

Repeat after me... Awwwww.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Time to Change Your Password

Yeah, yeah, yeah, now Bill's on that Password kick.

Today, it was LinkedIn that had their passwords compromised with a leak.  There is an announcement of that sort of thing every day.  If it isn't a website, it's someone's bank, or even something as simple as a padlock on the shed.

Yes, that last bit happened to me.  I was in the backyard opening my shed and someone was watching me over the hedge.  Very Creepy, and thankfully they have moved on.  However I was muttering the four digit code while I was setting the lock and the "individual" actually repeated it back to me.   I slipped at that point and lost the combination.  The lock is long gone.

It has been said that for safety's sake you are supposed to change your passwords monthly.   If you work on a computer, and who doesn't these days, you can be subject to that being enforced.  You walk in on the first day of the month for example, and up pops a window demanding you to change it.

Now lets look at this.  You just changed work's password.  You're reading this that I'm hosting on .  Blogger uses its own password.  It's linked into the suite of sites so that means I have a account.  Add to that the email accounts that I have for each of the companies and charities I consult for, my professional account, the various stores like that I shopped at just this morning to buy a sauce pan, and you see the point...

It Gets Ridiculous.

I don't know what the solution is.  If you write it down on a sticky and place it somewhere it can get lost or stolen.  I have a file that has password hints on it, but I couldn't tell you the last time I changed it.

I'm guilty too and I deal with this Security Stuff every day.

The worst case scenario is where you have company websites that insist that you use a strange code that isn't meaningful for a password.   Randomly generated.  Just pick a password by slamming your hand down on the keyboard - I just flat out don't remember those.  That particular annoyance is at an HR site run by a large company that uses SAP for their internal software.  Not only is my password random, but my username is too.  I don't even bother trying to remember.  Just click on the button that says "I Forgot" because that's useless to try to remember something like 9ea4b1c and pretend it is meaningful.

At least think about it.  I'm going to try to come up with something new since too many of my own passwords have been gravitating toward something I've been using for a while now.

Oh yes, it is a bad idea to have all your passwords be the same thing.   If you're doing that and saving that password in your browser, I personally want to congratulate you on making a huge mistake.  Go into your browser, Now, and delete all those passwords.  In Firefox Click on Tools, Options, then the Security Tab.  Click on the Saved Passwords button and then Remove All, then close.   You also should have the check box next to "Remember Passwords" and "Use a Master Password" unchecked. 

For other browsers, you're on your own.  I used Firefox almost exclusively.

The benefit of doing things this way is that you are forcing yourself to remember the passwords.  The problem with that method is that you end up gravitating toward a few passwords - like I have.

It sounds paranoid, but that's basically what "they're" telling you to do every month.  Every blasted site.  More than 100 in my case.

Well, no time like the present... I'll get back to you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ever Wonder Why Mosquitoes Don't Drown in a Storm?

Living in South Florida means that you have a lot of pets. 

Some pets are intentional.  I couldn't live without my dog, and my parrot.  I've had animals with me most of my life.  You can tell what kind of person someone is by how their pet reacts to them, but that is a very different story...

Other pets are unintentional.  Those are the ones that I would like to put a dome over my backyard, trap, and fill it with pesticides so that I can have a little piece and quiet in the pool.

I am referring to my flock ... of Mosquitoes. 
Of course, you knew that from the topic.

They have to be pets after all because I tend to feed them every time I go outside.  Oh look Daddy's back, lets have a snack!  Love Daddy's legs... and


Ahh much better now...

You see the Tiger mosquitoes are here, black with white stripes.  They could have called them Zebras but that would not adequately describe their ferocity. 

When I'm in the pool, I tend to go down in the water to my neck and they still find a place to find a meal. 

If I spot them as they are coming in for a landing, I usually splash with a cloud of water hoping that I knock them into the chlorinated pool and drown them ... but it doesn't work.  They seem to miss the water and come back to visit again in a few minutes.  It is as if they're toweling their tiny bodies off and coming back for more.

Now as silly as that may sound, that is probably closer to the truth of the story than we might realize.  You see the scientists were at it again as reported on this article.  The mosquitoes were found to be so light and lacking mass that the water would hit them, and they would be unharmed.   Escape the water droplet and off they fly.   For the most part they're able to escape and not drown.

So the moral of the story is that if you want to get rid of mosquitoes, drain all your water in plant pots, spray where you can't drain, and be careful in the yard.   We spray the yard on Friday so that Saturday we can use it.

Oh and if you're going to splash the little buggers, go whole hog - use a LOT of water and knock them out of the sky.  A little spray won't do it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What To Do When The Website Is Down

I guess you could always fire off Solitaire, make Coffee, or talk nice to those around you, but this is a very different story.

Over the weekend I had a quest.  It started on Friday when I had gotten the call that I was wanted to come in for an interview.  The company is one that I have been targeting for a while, would be a great opportunity, and I'm looking forward to getting to see the place. 

There's only one problem.  Directions. 

I was given the company website for their maps, thanked the person who I was speaking with, and went on my merry way.

Typing in the website, I waited... nothing happened.

Realizing it could be my own laptop, or some of the security software I run here, I twiddled around with settings, used a different browser, then tried it on another computer since all were available at the touch of a mouse click.  After all, I had been to that very same website just earlier that day for a different reason and it was happily up and running.
Still nothing.

Oh great, another "challenge".

One thing I remembered is that there were websites that you could check to see if someone else's website was running.  So I keyed in the URL into the link on the website box for and it said helpfully that "It's Not Just You" and it looked down to them.   Helpful site for this sort of thing.

It remained down all weekend.  Someone needed to "Feed the Squirrels" as we would say, and get that server back up again.

Ok, so now what?

We all have our favorite web search sites, some like  others like or  Lately I've been going to since it uses Google for its searches, but doesn't have the IP Reporting thing since I don't really like being watched.

Clicking on the helpful "Images" link up top, I was able to find my map in two clicks.   I was also able to find an Org chart for the department and some other background information.  Very helpful.

Success!  The map is printed out, my directions are printed out, and I have my resume on some very nice "palm fiber" paper.   I always did like high quality paper, it's something that nobody else may notice but it makes me feel better and isn't that what it's all about when you're going to that important interview?

I'll let them know their map site is or was down when I get there.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

You think English is Easy? - Humor

So here is part two.  Velma sent this along and I did enjoy reading it although I thought it too long for one blog posting.  Actually it could break into three parts but ... Well never mind, let your inner grammarian run wild.  Time to be an English Geek and enjoy the weirdness of our language.

You think English is easy??

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture..

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the in valid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig..

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick' ?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What's Up - Humor

Velma sent me this one.  Actually it is part of a very long email that was kind of amusing so I'm passing this along.   Actually, this is the kind of thing I've heard Mike Rowe bang on about on Dirty Jobs.  Maybe I need some reruns...

Part One today, Part Two tomorrow on the English Language.

I'll just ask, What's Up?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this ..

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.'

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends.
We use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.
We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning.
People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.
A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP,
for now my time is UP, is time to shut UP!

Friday, June 1, 2012

You are such a Tsviatok!

Back in the 90s I worked as a Programmer Analyst at the School District of Philadelphia.   I was that guy who got all the really difficult assignments, did the direct client contacts, and basically ended up working as a Project Manager with everyone from the clerks and janitors to the Superintendent's Office.

It was a lot of fun, and I got to work with a lot of different people.   We had a very diverse office, and between the South Philly Italians, the Russians, and some other groups, it taught me how to manage some situations that might have been handled by heavier hands with finesse.

I was walking around this morning looking at the Ground Orchids that my neighbor Jack had planted on the property line and the story of the Tsviatok came to mind.

You see one of my friends there was an intense South Philly Italian nicknamed Sammy.  He was a cross between Bart Simpson and a Jack Russell Terrier, very bouncy, intense, and always happy.  Sammy had a habit of getting into things and stirring up the pot from time to time.  He did have a habit of making things Interesting, and depending on how busy you were, you could enjoy those little thing or not.

At one time, Sammy was learning some Russian from some of the Russian ladies in our department.  He started of course with the dirty words, because that is said to be the first words that you learn in another language when you feel like playing around with others.

This unnerved two of the Russian ladies I worked with, Faye and Inna.  They were more quiet and reserved, a pair of rather sweet ladies that found someone walking around swearing like a sailor very rude.   So they said to me that since I was Sammy's friend could I speak with him.  Knowing how Sammy liked to get into trouble, I decided that we'd have a little fun with him.

We would fight fire with fire.

I said "So tell me a word that we could use..."

Inna said she couldn't do such a thing and it wasn't right for a lady to speak like that.
Faye replied that she never swears and she wouldn't use those words at all.

I said "Ok, then lets do something different.".  What I did was tell them to give me a word that sounded to a native English speaker very rude and strong, but meant something completely harmless.

"Like Flower!  It would be our secret.  We will tell him it is the worst swear word in the world and all the while we would be yelling Flower! at him."

The ladies loved it, and four of the five Russian ladies who worked with me were all in on the joke!

The problem was the fifth, Slava.  She would be the one who would give it all away so we had to do it fast, and do it in the week she's away on vacation.

Sammy came by and said his curses to me while Faye was in my office working, and I responded:

"You know Sammy, that really was uncalled for.  That's the kind of thing only a Tsviatok would say!  Now, we're busy trying to get our reports out for all the students so please leave us be.".

Sammy demanded to know:  "Tsviatok? What is a 'svee uh tock'?  How do you say it again?"
Faye played along well: "I cannot say it, it is the worst swear word in the Russian language, perhaps the world!".
 "Yes, Sammy you are a Tsviatok!"

From that point Sammy had a new best friend, the word "Tsviatok".  He went around the building telling everyone they were a Tsviatok, and "cursing" at anything he could!

Tsviatok!Tsviatok!Tsviatok! was all we had heard for three days.

The director of the department, Linda, a good friend even took me aside and said "This is getting scary, we're afraid this is going to be a problem!  What does it mean, Bill".

"Linda, I really can't say that sort of thing in an office, but I'm working on the problem child.".

This went on all week, and Friday morning, I had my usual status meeting with my two bosses, Danny and Yaz, when near the end they said "Hey Bill, close the door we have to talk".

Yep, one of those talks.

But knowing the guys, they were going to be into the whole joke, so we set it up that Sammy would be called in and "Disciplined" for doing all this swearing.  I was congratulated on my scheme and told that they couldn't have done a better job managing a difficult problem.

I was proud of that little situation.

This was mid morning, and we knew the game would be up by Monday when Slava was coming back from her week off so we had to act fast.

Yaz called in Sammy to the closed door meeting once he was off the phone.

Of course that was the time the joke got spoiled.  You see, Slava's husband had called in to Faye to iron out some weekend details and Sammy grabbed the phone and asked him what was a Tsviatok.


He immediately went looking for me, and told Linda what the story was.
Linda spotted me first.  "Ha ha, very funny, Bill.  Flower? Is THAT what it means?"
"Yes, Linda, that is what it means."

Having a meeting with Technical Support as the liaison from Application Development, I hopped on the elevator to the first floor.  When the doors opened to the marble encrusted lobby, there was Sammy.  He had come down looking for me knowing I needed to make my meeting.

"I know what that means.  Flower!  Why did you do it?".

"Sammy, buddy, the ladies were really hating how much you were swearing and didn't know how to handle it.  We figured we'd have a little fun and teach you a lesson at the same time.  The whole office excluding the upper management was in on the joke."

To this day, more than 15 years later, the story of the Tsviatok still makes me smile.  Sammy calmed down, and his Russian lessons were cut short.  Even Slava enjoyed the story and called him "My Little Tsviatok" in a thick Ukranian accented English.

You can teach people how to speak another language.  After all, a foreign language is something someone else knows that you don't and you should never be afraid to learn something.  Sometimes it takes a little flower to get you interested.  It could be something nonsensical as well.

Thinking of this story, I saw this video about a pair of teachers in Cambodia using "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" to teach English to some children.   The smiles on their faces were a nice start to my day, even if the word means nothing.

Just think of it as a little Tsviatok for your day as well.