Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy's Gone, All's Quiet in Florida

The wind finally has stopped

After three weeks of rain, a near miss by Hurricane Sandy and the outer feeder bands, and just general blustery days, we're in winter.  Winter for us is a high in the 70s or the low 80s.

There's no wind.  No rain.  No clouds, OK maybe a few Simpsonian Clouds floating by in the distance but that's it.

Having gone out to unlock the fence and give the yard one last pass before the arborists arrive to repair the landscape after the storms, the overwhelming feeling here is nothing more than normal.  The strangest thing about the neighborhood today is that I roasted coffee earlier so my back yard has the smell of a fine Costa Rican roast on the general Floridian organic scent.  It's even cool enough to have had Iguanas falling from the tree, but none of those green monsters are around.

No complaints, Normal is good.  After all I could have been at the Jersey Shore or that neighborhood in Queens, NY that burnt to the ground due to the power station that went up in explosions and flames.  

For us, this was the storm that got away.  At least here, it's a good thing although Fort Lauderdale's Beach got chewed up and flooded which is very rare normally.  Having grown up in South Jersey, I know what a rogue storm like this would bring.  Neighbors of my old home in Philly said "meh. no big deal.  Let the roads drain and back to work".  I'm still waiting to hear how it went closer to the shore.

Here in Florida, we are used to a storm like Hurricane Sandy coming through and being annoying.   The soil is like sand in a colander.  It is actually hard to call it anything other than the Beach Sand it will be again.  Trees have evolved to let the wind flow through them.  When they let go of their foliage, they'll grow it back.  Trunks are in general softer wood so they'll bend before breaking.  In the Northeast, trees don't get storms like this often although the Nor'easters are getting more powerful each winter.   The Ice Belt has moved North and we were saying that winters were more like North Carolina than South Jersey.  I never saw an Ice Storm before the 90s, now you expect one or two a year at the beginning and the end of Winter. 

That Ice causes its own problems.   The Northern forests end right around Philadelphia.  50 miles North or South, the forests are a different mix of trees.  There is a blending there and you can actually still grow certain Palm Trees in sheltered conditions, although the only people who do are obsessed individuals who want something different.   Those hardwood trees like the Pin Oak and the softer trees like the White Pine tree would get glazed and snap under the weight of the winter coat.  Since it is warmer, once past the ice, the snow cover isn't quite as dry as before and there is more of it.

Of course that's all a falsehood since, as the Republican Party says, Global Warming doesn't exist.  It's "Climate Change" now.

Whatever it is, things are a changin'.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The iPhone Bamboo Speaker Dock that Ate My Kitchen

Last Bulk Trash Day, a neighbor had sent me on a month long trip of woodworking joy.

I had seen a project on Kickstarter called the iBamboo Speaker and thought that it was so simple that even I could build one.  So after mulling it around in my head, I decided that I would try it if ever I came across some suitable bamboo.

It turns out that suitable bamboo was growing in a neighbor's yard and when they cut some of it down to throw it out, I grabbed two six foot lengths of the stuff and took it home.  What you need is bamboo that is roughly the size of your wrist.  You also need time, a miter box, some hand tools, and you can build one of these things in about an hour or two. 

I suggest if you really do want to try this, cure the bamboo either by air drying or in the oven at 212F for at least 4 hours.  That will harden the bamboo lumber.  If you get cracks, it will be before you invest a lot of time in your work.  One of my tablet sized docks split lengthwise so that one will remain mine.

By the time I ran through all of my bamboo, I had made these four plus a couple of failed projects and some variations on the theme like a "supersized" one for my tablet.

iPhones have only one speaker on the bottom plus a microphone port.  It doesn't require separation of the channels, so I built my phone sized docks out of the smooth center of each "joint" of bamboo.

The tablet I have, Samsung Galaxy 2 7.0, has two speakers on the bottom, so the larger tablet docks are all built so that the tablet sits on the joint giving proper stereo separation.  Since tablets are larger, the extra length helps the dock stay upright because of the added mass of the bamboo.

These things actually do add amplification through resonance.  If you doubt that, find some music on your phone and put it speaker side down in a small bowl or large glass and you will see the result.  In this case, the bamboo just looks nicer.

The people at will sell you their speaker docks online.  Theirs are more polished, using lasers to cut the holes and so forth.  I used an old hack saw, leatherman tools and built them out in my back yard giving a "shop class" look.  The ones I'm going to keep will get finished and stained. The ones I'm planning on giving as gifts I may not stain, I haven't quite decided yet what I will do there.  My friend who will get one has Android phones, and the speakers are not all in the same place. This means the mount hole for the phone may need to be widened "on site".

A bit of Sunday fun in the back yard with sharp tools.  No, I did not run with scissors.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tillandsia in the Bottle Brush Tree Picture

After the little storm we had over last week, I went out and started to pull down dead limbs. 

The tree itself is slowly dying, the limbs show that.   Inside the trunk are colonies of ants and termites. 

That dying wood is the food for these "Air Plants" that are called Tillandsia.   Not the little things that you buy in the tourist traps glued to a shell, this one is as large as my hand.  Hand sized is middle of the road here, but none the less I was quite pleased to see it here after the storm. 

I was going to pull that limb down and get rid of the dead wood, but that plant growing there means that it has a home as long as it wants it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Political Donations - So You Know Where YOUR Money Went

Personally, I'm of the opinion that excluding Eisenhower, there hasn't been a Republican President elected since before the Great Depression that was worthwhile.  That would be Calvin Coolidge.

If you would like to read deeper, you can start with this Wikipedia article.  What surprised me is that they actually found some Presidents ranked lower than Bush 2.

So when I see a list of where corporations are donating their money that they got by reaching into all of our pockets in the forms of higher prices, I pay attention.   Your corporation has a right to donate money and I have a right not to shop there.

At least Southern Wine & Spirits has the right idea splitting money between the parties, and they're local here in South Florida.

You can thank Velma for this post and the information.

FYI...When you HAVE a choice!

OK just a little FYI . Notice what companies give to political parties of their choice, makes you want to scratch your head I didn't highlight the companies and you can be surprise or not, but the majority of these companies regardless of who they contributed too affect the poor one way or another.  Kind of ironic Calvin Klein donates to the Democrats and McDonald's donates to the Republicans. Just sayin'

A dear friend took the time to forward this information to me. Regardless of your political affiliation, as a community of consumers this should be a part of our purchasing decisions. Please share with others. THANKS

Political Donations and where to spend your money?
Political DONATIONS - This gives us something to think about...

Shopping Price Club/Costco donated $225K, 99% went to Democrats

Rite Aid donated $517K, 60% went to Democrats
Magla Products (Stanley tools, Mr. Clean) donated $22K, 100% went to Democrats
Warnaco (undergarments) donated $55K, 73% went to Democrats
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia donated $153K, 99% went to Democrats
Estee Lauder donated $448K, 95% went to Democrats
Guess, Inc. donated $145K, 98% went to Democrats
Calvin Klein donated $78K, 100% went to Democrats
Liz Claiborne, Inc. donated $34K, 97% went to Democrats
Levi Straus donated $26K, 97% went to Democrats
Olan Mills donated $175K, 99% went to Democrats
WalMart donated $467K, 97% went to Republicans
K-Mart donated $524K, 86% went to Republicans
Home Depot donated $298K, 89% went to Republicans
Target donated $226K, 70% went to Republicans
Circuit City Stores donated $261K, 95% went to Republicans
3M Co. donated $281K, 87% went to Republicans
Hallmark Cards donated $319K, 92% went to Republicans
Amway donated $391K, 100% Republicans
Kohler Co. (plumbing fixtures) donated $283K, 100% Republicans
B.F. Goodrich (tires) donated $215K, 97% went to Republicans
Proctor & Gamble donated $243K, 79% went to Republicans

Southern Wine & Spirits donated $213K, 73% went to Democrats
Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons (incl. beverage business + considerable media interests) donated $2M+, 67% went to Democrats
Gallo Winery donated $337K, 95% went to Democrats
Coors & Budweiser donated $174K, 92% went to Republicans
Brown-Forman Corp. (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, Bushmills, Korbel wines - as well as Lenox China, Dansk, Gorham Silver)donated $644 K -- 80% went to Republicans


Sonic Corporation donated $83K, 98% went to Democrats
Triarc Companies (Arby's, T.J. Cinnamon's, Pasta Connections)donated $112K, 96% went to Democrats
Pilgrim's Pride Corp. (chicken) donated $366K, 100% went to Republicans
Outback Steakhouse donated $641K, 95% went to Republicans
Tricon Global Restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell) donated $133K, 87% went to Republicans
Brinker International (Maggiano's, Brinker Cafe, Chili's, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Crazymel's, Corner Baker, EatZis) donated $242K, 83% went to Republicans
Waffle House donated $279K, 100% went to Republicans
McDonald's Corp. donated $197K, 86% went to Republicans
Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze) donated $121K, 89% went to Republicans
Heinz Republicans $64,000 Democrats $21,300 !!!!! John Kerry's wife's company.
Traveling and/or dining

Hyatt Corporation donated $187K of which 80% went to Democrats
Marriott International $323K, 81% went to Republicans
Holiday Inns donated $38K, 71% went to Republicans

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Early Voting Starts in Florida Today

I was walking the dog past Wilton Manors City Hall just before 7AM today and there was a line of around 40 people out there.  Early Voting has started, I think I will wait a day or two though for the crowds to slow a wee bit.

On the other hand, This is one of a few different postings that had gotten sent to me by a number of people over the last year or so.  I am not going to verify every single fact, I'll leave that to the fact checkers.  I will say that I completely agree with the sentiment. 

You can quote me on this one:  If you wait for perfection in a candidate, you will wait for a very long time.  It is like standing in a house that is burning down and worrying about painting the walls.  Get out, put out the fire, and move forward.

So when I do go and vote, I will be voting a straight Democrat ticket and No on all the Florida Amendment Questions. 

I suggest you do the same.   The arsons have had their day, it's time to move forward.

Velma had sent me this particular piece.  We've seen them all, so read along.

I am a firm believer in the intelligence of the people. 
If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national  crises.
The important point is to bring them the real  facts.

Think of life as a  great road trip. If you spend too much time looking back at where you've been,  you'll miss what's ahead.

Mad At The  President......................for What?

Now, since Barack Obama became President, all  of a sudden, folks have gotten mad, and want to take America  Back...

BACK TO WHAT or WHERE is my question?

I am voting for  PRESIDENT OBAMA no matter what. He should get 8 years in office, because he IS  CHANGING America and we all know why THEY don't like it! If Obama wasn't Black,  they would be praising and thanking him.

After The 8 Years Of The  Bush/Cheney Disaster, Now You Get Mad?

You didn't get mad when the  Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a  President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company  officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You  didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to  us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over 800 billion (and still  counting) on said illegal war.

You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more  money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents  combined.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash  just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and  outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the  country.

You didn't get mad when they didn't find or catch Bin  Laden.

You didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion  dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

You  didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical  Center.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans,  drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than  they could ever spend, the 1%, over a trillion dollars in tax  breaks.

You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations  in several decades.

You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost  their lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn't get mad when  lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12  trillion dollars in investments, retirement savings, and home  values.

You finally got mad when a black man was elected  President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a  doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job  losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and  the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you, but helping fellow  Americans who are sick... Oh, Hell to the No!

PLEEEASE----circulate this  everywhere---people need to be reminded!!!!
2012 is a good year for them to  remember! Let's get as passionate about re-electing our wonderful hard working  President as we were when we got him elected! Don't get complacent and don't  take for granted he will easily be back in office.

Let's all get busy  starting the work today!!!!

Give this MAN  credit where credit is due. Black folks stop thinking just because we have a  Black President that you were entitled to something without working for it! (Did  you think because we got a Black President 4 years ago, you were going to get a  check in the mail for $100k or something, maybe the 40 acres and a mule...come  on....get real!)

Make a difference Get educated, stop  complaining and get back on track to preserving our race and represent like The  Obamas. Do your part! VOTE Obama 2012. Spread the word. We have to get out and  VOTE like we did 4 years ago...if we want to keep president Obama in office.  Don’t think for one minute that your Vote doesn't  count!

One man  can make a difference but he must be in the right place.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Even a Small Storm Does Some Damage

The Key Word Is:  Some.

Oh sure, an 80 mph Hurricane Sandy could have ruined our day.  It could have shifted the 120 miles westward and put itself right over top of the cities of South Florida.

It didn't.

It was a rain event.   Some winds.  Feeder bands here or there.

But past that it didn't wake me up in the middle of the night. 

It was a late season weak hurricane that hit right at the same week as Hurricane Wilma had 7 or so years before it.  That was another "weak" Hurricane that parked itself over top of Fort Lauderdale for three solid days or so and caused a lot of damage.

So basically they all should be watched. 

I didn't spot any damage to the house until well after I got back from the dog walk.  The sun had to come up and show me what happened to my Bougainvillea. 

This picture is of the trellis behind the house.  The Bougainvillea was picked up like a giant blanket during the night and pulled forward off the trellis and the roof.  A few limbs broke, but the plant will survive.

Yep, could have been worse.  But it wasn't.  The plants here evolved to take it, and there's a reason why when you move here you want a 1 floor Old Florida home.  Those taller Mc Mansions will take the brunt for you and act like windbreaks, especially when they're built shoddily like the ones a block away from me.

Oh well, I guess we get to be landscapers this weekend.   I'll chill some drinks and have fun outside in the yard.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do Not Track - It's A Start But Only A Start

In the "modern" browsers there's a setting deep down that tells advertisers that you don't want to be tracked for advertising purposes.

Internet Explorer sets that on by default.
It is also in Chrome and Firefox.

For Firefox you can set it yourself by:
Click on Tools
Click on Options
Click on Privacy

Under Tracking, there is a tick box that promises to tell advertisers that you do not want to be tracked.

Mine is checked, but I don't believe it actually works.

You see you're telling someone that you don't want to be a source of their income.  That's how advertising works, they have learned that they can watch what you surf and build a profile of what you're doing.   They can tell pretty much everything you can do.

You can lower their effectiveness but you can't eliminate what they're doing unless you do something that is fairly "heroic" by installing all sorts of software or learning another operating system and surfing from that.  There is InPrivate mode in Internet Explorer but it also breaks sites sometimes.  Better solution than most, but nothing is perfect.

When I set up a computer for myself or anyone else, I immediately install a few pieces of software.

Firefox as a browser.

Then I install an extension that is also available for Chrome called "Adblock Plus".  That breaks some more of the advertising as well as some of their tracking.   The benefit is that I do not see advertising.  I can also block that sort of thing. 

For me, browsing a website on someone else's computer is a jarring experience.  Ads blink, flash, and sometimes even scream at me.  On my own computer, it's a blissful experience.

That and it also speeds up browsing. 

I've taken it a step further by adding a hosts file onto computers that I am not doing web development on which simply tells the computer not to search any web pages that are at a certain address. 

I went so far as to add a hosts file to my Android phone and it's quite nice not having to look at ads.  It's a great "advertisement" for "Rooting" your Android phone.

The software I use on Android is Adfree to help block advertising by placing that hosts file in the right spot.  Just because I want to be "complete" I also installed a Hosts Editor but strictly speaking I don't really need that.

Both of the above only work on Rooted Android phones.  If you're not rooted, you'll need to find a guide on how to do it for your specific phone, model, carrier.   It gets complex but usually there's a step by step guide to do the work for you.  Once I found mine, it took about 10 minutes.

They can't track you if they can't find you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Problem With the Internet is that Nothing Is Temporary

The title is a quote from someone named Will Smidlein who said something that I've been thinking about lately.   In fact, since I read the quote two days ago, it has been rattling around my head like one of those musical "earwigs" that you simply can't get to leave.

Basically the way things work is that since computers are temporary, you always back your data up.

Well, ok we're supposed to.  We don't always.

But once you get out to the internet, it is expected to be "Professionally Run".  Someone somewhere is paid to slip a tape in a drive in a big ugly computer room half way across the world, start a backup and save the data that you put there. 

It could be the picture of your cat, your thoughts on this blog posting, the sound file you made of the train rolling past the house at 4AM before anyone else awakes.  It doesn't matter. 

If you put it out there, it will get saved.

The nature of things being so broadly distributed, you never really know where that information lies.  Unfortunately that means that you really do have to stop and think when you finally hit that save or publish button.   Someone out there will probably find a way to use it against you. 

After all, the internet being the least common denominator of human thought and the largest library that mankind has ever conceived of has a sizeable amount of people out there who will find a way to use it to their benefit, even if it isn't to yours.

If it's out there, it is out there forever.   It's the same thing that we all were told when we were kids - "a secret told is a secret no longer".  Or "you aren't paranoid, they really are out to get you".

Welcome to the Internet - the largest playground ever and your information is about to get used by the school bully.

Oooh deep!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to get a Parrot to Bark

For years I've had Oscar.  In fact, I've had him since 1986.  He lives in a cage in the back room under the Bougainvillea where he is visited by the pigeons and the iguanas.

The iguanas I would rather just go away and never come back, but the pigeons are friendly enough.

Lettie doesn't like him much, but she hasn't actively gone after him in quite a long time.   I'd found that all I have to do is put Oscar's cage on the floor and open the door.   If Lettie notices, she casts the cage the evil eye and then leaves.  Oscar will then wander around looking for something to do like chew on the sea grass basket in the little end table.  

When Oscar's out, needless to say, he has to be watched.

People keep these birds because they do bond with us, and will try to interact with us.   The spot where the cage is at is one where he can see what's going on in the kitchen and the living room.  If he hears something, he's going to try to figure out what it is and whether he can interact with it.  I get hellos and Urp!s from him all the time when I'm baking.  If I laugh, he laughs back.

Today I finally realized that he barks.  Or at least he tries to bark.

I was watching a video of a man somewhere in Europe on a bike trail that I wish we had around here.   He had a pack of more than 10, probably 20 dogs all running along with him in a giant pack.  I Used to do the same with Lettie when she was able, skating for a couple miles at a slow pace but that did not work out.  I was too fast for her to keep up, and there just was no way she'd do a 30 mile workout with me.

This guy has it down pat though.  Riding gently, taking the dogs for a run, they did what dogs do.  At one point there was a dog that decided that it was time to greet the world with a bark.   That was when I heard a response from the back room. 

Oscar was barking back.

Every morning when I see him, he says to me "Urp" as if to say hello, then literally does say hello.   On the other hand, I didn't know that that noise was his bark.  Yes, he speaks "Dog as a Second Language".  It is a bit slurred, and since it is in his normal register it would be a small breed like a chihuahua.

I have a green feathered chihuaburd living with me.  Right now, he's barking at the laptop video that you see below.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Three Ingredient Fudge - Recipe

The picture is overexposed but the fudge wasn't.  In fact it turned out great.

It says three ingredient fudge, but in reality I added a fourth.  I like Pecans in my chocolate fudge.

The recipe can be made in the microwave in about 3 minutes at High Power.   Just remember to check it after each minute or so to make sure that your chocolate isn't scorching.  Stir as you nuke!

I made it in a sauce pan at low medium - Mark 2.  Just warm enough to melt the butter will do it.   Chocolate melts at 86 degrees so you really don't need a lot of heat!

Here's how I did it.


  • 1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk - 14 ounce.
  • 2 Packages (11.5 to 12 ounces each) chocolate chips or "any flavor" chips you prefer.
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter.
  •     OPTIONAL add 1/2 pound Pecans or other nuts. 
  •     OPTIONAL add mini marshmallows to all of above to make Rocky Road.
To the saucepan on medium low, add butter.
When butter melts, add condensed milk and chocolate chips and Optional Nuts.

Stir until smooth.
Pour fudge out into lined 9x9 pan and allow to cool.

See!  I told you it was easy!  Fudge was one of those things we used to get at the Jersey Shore when we were heading home.   It wasn't really a childhood thing, more of a 20something thing for me.  I guess it was one of those things that was missing from growing up but really its so simple and easy to make that you don't need to drive "Down-a-shore" or to the mall to get the stuff.   All the ingredients were on hand here, and since I have extra Sweetened Condensed Milk, we're going to have more.  

I'm thinking Rocky Road next time!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today there are some tongue and cheek helpful hints.  You will see what I mean when you get to reading them.  If you take them seriously, you need a vacation or at least a beer under the palm tree in the back yard.

Thank Kevin for this one, I can't take credit for it. 

Here you go, in all it's Shouty ALL CAPS best!












Saturday, October 20, 2012

God Enjoys a Good Laugh - Humor

Having read this one that I got over the week from Velma, I got a chuckle.  Ok, so there are some "historical inaccuracies" here and there, but then again it's humor so it doesn't have to be perfect.  

So enjoy it like I did!

There were 3 good arguments that

Jesus was Black:
1. He called everyone brother
2. He liked Gospel
3. He didn't get a fair trial

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:
1. He went into His Father's business
2. He lived at home until he was 33
3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his Mother was sure He was God

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian:
1. He talked with His hands
2. He had wine with His meals
3. He used olive oil

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Californian:
1. He never cut His hair
2. He walked around barefoot all the time
3. He started a new religion

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was an American Indian:
1. He was at peace with nature
2. He ate a lot of fish
3. He talked about the Great Spirit

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish:
1. He never got married..
2. He was always telling stories.
3. He loved green pastures.

But the most compelling evidence of all - 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman:
1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was virtually no food
2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it
3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do

Can I get an AMEN?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Reason Not To Buy Chinese - Your Pet Food

Having to watch what I feed my dog very closely, I have to buy low protein treats.   One of the things that I noticed was a correlation between foods marked "Only Feed as Treats" with messages like "No More than One Per Day" and the dreaded words:

Made In China.

I already have learned not to buy Chinese goods wherever possible.  Certain things are simply impossible to buy that aren't made there.  All the jobs were shipped overseas years ago so the One Percent can have another piddly couple dollars on their bottom lines thereby disrupting the World Economy.   Where I can, I buy "Made in USA".

The food supply in the US is fairly well controlled.  Items coming in from outside of the country must be labelled with place of origin.  Things that are dangerous in the Human food supply are generally not allowed.   Other than sugar and sodas that is.  Then we dance on the head of a pin and call the item "Generally Accepted as Safe" pronounced "Grass".

That is because there's a really basic concept here called "Warranty of Merchantability" or "Fitness of Purpose".   That means that if the store sells something as being food - you have to be able to eat it and derive some nourishment from it and not get sick from it.   It's "Fit for the Purpose".

Unfortunately there is a lot of cheap Chinese food that should rightly be called at best questionable, at worst what it is - Poison.

Just like I look for the "Union Label" or "Made in USA", or for that matter Canada or Mexico or some other reputable nation as a mark of quality, I look to avoid "Made in China" because I never know if I am going to get something that will fall apart or poison me. 

Best to look at anything Made in China with a Jaundiced Eye.

So next time you are grabbing that treat for you or your dog or cat, take a good hard look at the item.  If it says "Use as Treat Only" and Made in China... grab something else.

There's a whole host of petitions out there speaking to this issue.   The one I was sent, I got right after getting back from a shopping trip to find some treats to use for my own dog.  I have to feed her about 1/2 of her diet in those treats to keep the protein level down so she'll live until tomorrow.  I Don't want to make sure tomorrow will be her last day because of some treat that the maker wouldn't eat themselves.

If you wish to read more on this subject, the petition is at this link.  Now that I've been made aware of it you will just have to work around me if I am in the store and shopping because you can be certain I am checking labels for country of origin.

Buy Made In America, it saves your neighbor's job and your dog's life too.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Use Packing Peanuts to Help Freshen The Air

I was sent an article by Diane here in town suggesting that it may be good for my blog.   I read the article, chuckled at its obvious simplicity and helpfulness and realized that she was right.

For years, I have been taking an old cotton sock, pouring cologne onto it and tossing it in the Jeep.  The car's 10 years old, only has 44,000 miles on it and I have no real desire to get a new one.  The problem is that it has picked up that "Old Car Smell" when the weather's right and it's been sitting around closed.  Once a season or so, I get an old sock, pour some liquid cologne that I bought on Duval Street in Key West a while back, and toss the thing into the car under the seat.

Now the Jeep smells like old car and Drakkar Noir.  

The simplicity of the Jeep means I could roll the thing out and remove the carpet, wash it in the machine (if I didn't get caught), and have it smelling "Springtime Fresh".

But that would take too much work.

The idea in the article proved to be pretty straight forward, and this is what I did.

I keep old packing peanuts around for the holidays and shipping things like cookies and candies off to friends and family.  You get them anyway so may as well put them to use!

  • Fill the old sock with the packing peanuts.
  • Pour an appropriate amount of "Essential Oil", Cologne, or Perfume into the packing peanuts.  I use about a teaspoon.
  • Sew or otherwise seal up the top of the sock.
  • Toss the thing under the seat of the car.

All done.

The original article suggested pouring the peanuts into jars and leaving them around the house.   I'd say you're probably better off using your vacuum and cleaning the house, but who am I to judge?

Besides, if I were doing this for a scent pot or potpourri, I'd use clean beach sand or something more "crafty".  Add in a few small shells and you have a proper little display that smells nice.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More On the Dog Food Dog Snacks

One of the most difficult things you have when your dog gets old enough that the kidneys are going is to find something that they will eat.  It's called "Chronic Renal Failure" meaning, the Kidneys are Going and it's not going to get Better.

It is a feedback loop. 

I'm thinking about my own girl Lettie here, and how she is reacting to things.  She's following the path pretty much per the book.

Today, there's a food that she will like.  It's her best friend.  Yum, think Premium Chocolate draped over the most wonderful pastry you've ever had.

Tomorrow she's feeling awful and won't go near it and in fact instead of biting it, she bites your hand.

That feedback loop thing is what you're seeing.  What is happening is that yesterday she ate too much of a good thing and today she's feeling awful.   You, the not completely all knowing human, thinks "Ahh!  yesterday she loved this, I'll feed more!" and reaches back into the jar for "more". 

The nonspeaking older dog with bad kidneys, thyroid problems, arthritis, and questionable hearing looks at the offered food and thinks "I feel like crap, go away" and walks into the back room.  You get frustrated and try again.


Eventually that casual relationship gets burned in like that CD you made for the car.   You know, your special mix tape for the old Toyota because the car doesn't have a USB port.

Casual relationship becomes truth and carved in stone because there's imperfect conversation going on.

Now you can't feed her "that" any more.

The very "Special Renal Diet" foods that are the best for her are the ones that she hates because to all dogs they taste horrendous.

Good luck with that.

The trick is to feed small portions of each food, one ounce or less at a time, and switch foods each time.  That way she gets confused as to why she's feeling off and will eat later.

Kind of like "NO! Mom NO Broccoli!" from a 2 year old.   That same 2 year old comes back a couple years later and discovers that stir fried broccoli is a wonderful thing and looks forward to the trip to the Chinese restaurant just so they can have some of that weird tree like vegetable.

Ok, so that was my own experience and it really was asparagus which I now love even if I can't cook it right.

Yesterday, that terrible tasting dog food that I used to make snacks was completely devoured.  I mean she was begging all day for some of the stuff.   When I originally opened the can she literally ran from the room.   Almost tail between the legs yipe-yipe-yipe time...

So read on and see if that recipe works for you.  All I know is that when I warm up the oven to make my bread next time, I'll be cooking some more dog food on a separate cookie sheet for her later.

Sliced 1/4 inch or less thin and cooked at least to Jerky texture.  Just the way she likes it.

Good luck people with older dogs and cats, I hope this helps.   If it doesn't, realize that your pet is giving you a course in Dog Psychology.   Become the Dog Whisperer because that's what they need.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dog Snacks from Dog Food - Recipe

When you've got an older dog, things change.  My own Lettie got to the point where she simply stopped eating the same food she lived 10 years on and we had to change.   She was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure, which you can only treat in dogs with lots of changes to their diet.

Mainly, you need to reduce the amount of protein, phosphorous, and potassium in their food as well as increasing the water. 

There are special diets but dogs generally hate those. 

So what do you do?

I've switched from regular dog food to a combination of "Lettie's Burgers" and treats.  The burgers have added bread crumbs in them to reduce the protein, and the treats are all low protein treats of 12% protein or less.  Normal Dog Food is around 26%, 70% Lean Ground Beef when cooked is about 18%.

The problem is that those treats are expensive and probably not the best for your dog.   The solution is an interesting one.

Those same cans of Renal Diet food that she hates when scooped out into a bowl can be made into a treat, as well as any wet dog food with a paste consistency.  

Simply slice thin, about the thickness of a tortilla chip but under 1/4 of an inch, and bake in the oven.  350F for 30 to 45 minutes depending on thickness until crispy.  Store the resulting Dog Food Jerky in the refrigerator and use within a week.

That of course depends on whether your dog likes chewy or crispy treats.   My own experience last night was that 40 minutes at 1/4 inch thickness gave a chewy treat.   1/4 inch is about 1/2 the width of your smallest fingernail, your pinky - very roughly.

The proof was in the pudding though, the very thinnest crispy pieces that were like a potato chip, Lettie devoured.   The thicker ones were like a Jerky that she ate slower, and the thickest ones she wouldn't consider eating. 

That's my own dog, your dog will have their own preferences.   I'm sure if you have an older dog you know them by now.

This morning, I had a pickle jar full of little roughly triangular pieces of Dog Food Jerky and she ate about 1/3 of it so I call this recipe a success.  The one can made a "full" pickle jar. 

If you have dry dog food that you can't get your dog to eat, try pulverizing it in a blender and then adding back water until you get this same paste consistency.  Then you can always try feeding it directly or baking it until done. 

Again, remember that thin is best!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Curing Bamboo In The Oven

The conversation went like this:

Why is there a block of wood in the oven?
It's not wood.
What is it?
It's bamboo.
Ok, so why is there a block of bamboo in the oven?
I'm curing it.
Was it sick?
No, but it was green.
Yes, fresh cut, full of water.
Is that a problem?
Yes, if you work with green bamboo it will crack.
Oh, that is a problem.
So how long are you going to tie up the oven?
Until noon, I'm going to make some Quesadillas and I'll need the oven then.
You are going to take that block out aren't you?
Oh yes.
How does it smell?
Like England, Green and Pleasant.
OK, you've been watching BBC America again haven't you?
Of course...

And on.

What happened was that last week on Tuesday our neighborhood had Bulk Trash.  It's one day a month when the most magical of all trash days happens.  Our neighbors toss out all the big stuff that won't fit in the big blue bins.  Later when everyone is away, the Magic of the Trash Claw happens and it all disappears.


A Big open truck with a giant claw on an articulated arm comes and grabs the giant piles and puts then in the hopper.  Then, it moves on down the road to the next pile and so on.  Really quite fascinating to watch and some of those folks on the truck are quite amazing.

Here in Subtropical South Florida, we have to keep after our yards.  If you blink, a day after a rain storm, you actually see growth.  Since it is tropical, we can grow all sorts of things that "regular" places can't like Orange Trees, Mangoes, Lemons, and Bamboo.   Bamboo can be quite pretty, as Chinese and Japanese art would evidence, and the dancing of the leaves on the breezes can be rather poetic.

However it is quite prolific and will easily take over your yard if you don't get out a machete and hack it down.

The neighbor had a pile that was 4 feet tall and 8 feet square full of bamboo cuttings.   Some of the bamboo was as thick as my wrist.   Being someone who is always looking at things and applying them to some new and intriguing uses, we grabbed two 6 foot long sections of some of that "construction grade" bamboo for later use.  

But you just can't work with it until it cures because it will warp, crack, and be subject to insect damage. 

So the recipe as best I could figure was simple.

Cut your bamboo down to "workable lengths" that will fit in your oven.
Heat oven to just above boiling, 105C or 220F.
Place the bamboo on the rack so that air can get to all of the bamboo.
Every hour, rotate the bamboo to avoid spotting or warping.
After 4 hours (or more) you can remove the bamboo.

There, aren't you happy you learned this?  After all, what else are you going to do with scrap bamboo from the neighbor's yard, build something?

Yes, until I run out of the stuff.  Then I will wait for the next Bulk Trash Day and ...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A List of Things To Be Thankful For - Humor

Here in town, Father John Joseph Reid who runs New Divine Mercy Church is known to be quite helpful and has a good sense of humor.   In the case of this posting he sent me, he's helping me with this post and I am thankful for that sense of humor.

If you're a bit confused, feel free to read on!

As we progress into 2013, I want to thank you all for your educational e-mails over the past year.
I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.

I can no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I can't sit down on a hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose.

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I can't touch any woman's handbag for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public toilet.

I must send my special thanks for the email about rat poo in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I can't have a drink in a bar because I fear I'll wake up in a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys gone.

I can't eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes, feet or feathers.

I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern , I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer buy fuel without taking someone along to watch the car, so a serial killer doesn't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.

I no longer use Cling Wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.

I no longer go to the cinema because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS when I sit down.

I no longer go to shopping centers because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me..

And I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a huge phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan ..

Thanks to you I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big black snake could be lurking under the seat and cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

And thanks to your great advice I can't ever pick up a dime coin dropped in the car park because it was probably placed there by a sex molester waiting to grab me as I bend over.

I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off.

If you don't send this to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbors ex mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's beautician!

Oh, and by the way...

A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

P. S. I now keep my toothbrush in the living room, because I was told by e-mail that water splashes over 6 ft. out of the toilet..


Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Nice Catholic Joke

Ok, I'll admit it, I love a good suggestive joke from time to time.  I do hold back on what I post, but frankly, I've seen much worse on TV on any given night. 

I'm just left with this mental picture of dear Sister Stanislaus doing this and ... It broke my fragile little mind.

So, thanks Kevin and for the rest of us ... enjoy...


Two nuns are ordered to paint a room in the convent, with a warning from the Mother Superior not to get even a drop of paint on their habits.

After conferring about this, the two nuns decide to lock the door of the room, strip off their habits, and paint naked...

In the middle of the project, there's a knock at the door.

"Who is it?" calls one of the nuns.

"Blind man," replies a voice from the other side of the door.

The two nuns look at each other and shrug, both deciding that no harm can come from letting a blind man into the room. They open the door.

"Nice boobs," says the man. "Where do you want the blinds?"

Friday, October 12, 2012

Firefox 16 All Clear But That's The Internet For You

They announced today that yesterday's big scare, the Security Hole in Firefox 16.0.0 has been fixed.

That really doesn't change a whole lot.

Sure, you should update if you're already using Firefox 16.0.0, and it means that that hole has been plugged.  What it doesn't change is that machine you are using to look at what I have written has more security holes than that and the fix someone puts in for one piece of software may break something else in that software.

Like they said in Hill Street Blues all those years ago "Lets be careful out there".

For every hole they plug, someone will find another. 

The best fix for something like that is to simply step back and choose your poison.

(Boy am I full of old hackneyed sayings today!)

The latest and greatest cutting edge software isn't always the best.   Sometimes it works, and sometimes you are reading some fool on a blog telling you to roll back what you did and wait like I did yesterday.

Thing is that you never really know what will happen and when you get a good update or not.

I tend to be very late on some software.  Adobe PDF and Flash, Java both are terrible.  They are constantly nagging me to update.  When they do, they demand that I stop what I am doing, close my browser or even restart the computer for what we call "Application Software".   This isn't some major component in the computer, this is a stupid PDF reader.

Write your update programs better.

When you are like me and open upwards of 150 web pages before even getting started, having to upgrade your PDF reader and start over again just isn't really going to happen the way they want it to.

So what I did is I tell all these annoying little pieces of software that I need to do my thing to check and tell me what's out there but let me decide when to upgrade.

I'm not having an enforced coffee break because some fool in a software development team misspelled a word on a screen somewhere.

The reality is that we're all flying blind and hoping for the best.   You can either be annoyed at having to update a couple programs a couple times a day, or you can push it all off and have the illusion that you're controlling your destiny.

Honestly, I just don't know which is best.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Consider Downgrade on Firefox 16.0

There was one of those exploits that you hear about found on Firefox 16.0 the other day.  As a result, the recommendation is that if you have Firefox 16.0 to downgrade to version 15.0.1 and wait for a fix.

You can check your version by doing the following:

Start Firefox
Click Help
Click About Firefox

If you have version 15.0.1 you're safe.
If you have version 16.0, you will want to downgrade to 15.0.1

The good news is that they're working on a fix and supposedly will have one out by today, October 12th, 2012... but you never know.

For more information, you can read up on the problem here, or look into their Security Blog here.

What the bug does is it allows an evil doer to see what you have done since you started the browser.  So if you plan on waiting it out, don't hit the banks.

That's what happens when you rush software out the door.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Sun Visits

I was out having lunch with a friend who I see maybe once a year.  After a very full meal of Chinese Food and some great conversation, I arrived at the doorstep.

That was when it started.   The Sun arrived in a little brown box brought by a truck.

Since the box wasn't for me, I set it on the chair and went about my business.

Later after trying to convince the dog that there were better things than starving herself, and yes, the LettieBurger (TM) was indeed good food, the story began to unfold.

"So, what's in the box?"
"Oh that's the new lights for the bathroom!"
"Really, I had forgotten..."
"Yes, they're Dimmable Fluorescents!"
"Ok, we can deal with that later, lets get Mrs Dog and you ready for the walk around the block"

You see Dimmable Fluorescent! look just like every other compact fluorescent light bulb. They all have that chunky base.  A teeny bit of Mercury in them that make some people treat them like toxic waste.  A whitish helix of glass above the base that emits light.  Connect them up to a normal light socket and they work just like any other.  Light goes on, Light goes off.  Don't get them too cold because they don't like that.

There was a commotion in the bathroom that night as things got hooked up "properly".

"Oh my god this is going to be bright"

I padded into the hallway seeing things I hadn't seen before.

"Is that an ant or do we need to have the house sprayed for pests?"
"Huh? Which ant?"
"I'll get the tape so we can catch it and look under a magnifying glass..."

It was an ant, we can deal with that.

Then I realized why I could see the ant crawling through the short hallway.

"You're right, its going to be bright, and that is a good thing!"

One of the old school incandescent light bulbs was replaced by one of those ugly chunky fluorescent helixes and a smiling face was looking up at it as if to get a suntan.

The light from that one bulb was so much brighter at 26 watts that the walls had begun to change color.   The detail was being washed out of the wall behind the bulb and things were taking on a weird post-nuclear-blast look to it.  

I went out to put back the magnifying glass saying "Ok, that's outrageous".

On returning, there was one oven mitt on his one hand, a fluorescent bulb in the other.  "We're going to have a little fun here".

It's not often you see someone coming at you in the bathroom with an oven mitt and a light bulb, and usually it's for creative purposes when they do.

"So you're going to replace them now?"  Thinking the dog walk is going to be delayed... "There's a cell approaching on Radar, I want to get a long walk in and empty her out for the night!"

Being told not to worry, I leashed up Mrs Dog and grabbed the dog bags.  She led the way out of the little laundry to the front door when I saw it out of the corner of my eye.

If you ever had the pleasure of seeing the movie Saving Grace, there is a scene where the men were standing outside of a little pub in a small seaside village in Britain.   It is night.  Someone turns to see the large house on the crest of the hill just outside of town light up as if it were being turned into a landing site for extraterrestrial space craft.

This was my bathroom.

"Don't you think this is a bit much?"
"I'll adjust the dimmer tonight."
"Not if you dim this down you don't"
"Don't worry, it will just make it so the dark end of the dimmer doesn't flicker."
"Ahh, great!  I'm thinking all this light will make working in the bathroom much easier!"

Yes, I now have the brightest bathroom on the block.  I may actually have the brightest bathroom on the island.  104 Watts of Compact Fluorescent after image inducing brilliance is an awful lot in a small room.  It brings out some amazing detail.  Since it's a bathroom... well I've got my work cut out for me.

"Hey, do you think we can keep this thing dim for guests?  I've got to clean this place!"

That's just one of the small drawbacks.  I guess it really is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Removing Smooth Scroll and other Tweaks in Windows 7

After setting up my computer with Windows 7 I noticed that there were a few basic things that I'd qualify as being "Annoyances" that really are "eye candy".  The biggest one for me is something called "Smooth Scroll". 

Smooth scroll in Windows is where you're looking at a document and hit a Page Down or Page Up key.  What happens is that instead of it snapping to the next page, it scrolls down smoothly in something that looks like you're reading something on a roll of paper that someone is pulling away or towards you.

In my case, it just seems unnatural and slightly nausea inducing.   Seeing that one of my favorite things in life is a Rollercoaster, I'm not saying this lightly.

Here's how I set the computer up to get rid of Smooth Scroll plus a few video tweaks.  I hadn't turned all the eye candy off.  As you can see in the picture, I still have Aero Glass turned on.  I'll leave eye candy on when it serves a purpose, and the effect seems to work for me.

  1. Click Start and select Control Panel.
  2. I suggest you select "View By: Large Icons".  Makes life easier to find things when they're not stuck together in categories.  Besides, that's how I find things.
  3. Select System.
  4. Select "Advanced System Settings".  This is on the list at the upper left.  You will see a pop up telling you if you really want to do this, you need to be an Administrator.  You do.
  5. Under the System Properties, select the Advanced tab.
  6. Under Performance, Click on the Settings button.

Your screen should look like the picture below.

You can take my word for it, if you select things like in that list, you'll be on your way, but I will explain specifically what you want to do here.

  1. The first three check boxes are to turn off animations in windows.  I find them unnecessary and not having them will make your machine seem faster.
  2. The second three check boxes are to turn on Aero Glass and Aero Peek.  I like them, you may not.
  3. The next five buttons I turned off.  The fade effect irks me because it feels like it's slowing the computer down just to get things done.  Task bar effects I personally never found useful and the shadow under the mouse pointer has been shown to slow down your video card.
  4. Shadows Under Windows helps me to tell where one window starts and ends, but at a performance hit on the video.
  5. Thumbnails instead of Icons, will search a folder and try to present you with what the item actually is, but it is a performance hit when you open a large folder.  Your choice.
  6. Translucent Selection Rectangle is a help when you do a lot of cut and paste, as I do.
  7. Show Window Contents While Dragging is one of those things that I keep on because the alternative is to just show a selection rectangle while you're moving windows.  Your choice.
  8. Slide Open Combo Boxes is another one of those things I don't see the point of, you may.  It feels like it slows down the computer to me.
  9. Smooth edges of Screen Fonts is important if you do a lot of word processing and composition like I do.  I personally prefer it.
  10. Smooth Scroll List boxes.  Evil.  Turn it off.  This was the one I got started going through my preferences with in the first place.
Select Apply and OK, and you're on your way.

But there is more...

If you do a lot in Explorer, you will notice that they are still trying to convince you that Microsoft's Smooth Scroll algorithm works.   It does not work well, especially with a long list of files in a folder.  To turn that one off, do the following:

  1. Click Start, then Control Panel
  2. Click Internet Options, then the Advanced Tab.
  3. In the long list, find the Browsing group, then "Use Smooth Scrolling".  Turn that box off, then select Apply and OK.

Finally if you want to stop Smooth Scroll in Firefox:

  1. Select Tools
  2. Select Options
  3. Select the Advanced Tab
  4. Select the General Tab
  5. Uncheck the "Use smooth scrolling" check box.
  6. Click OK and you're done.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Frog, A Parrot, and A Thunderstorm

It had been a wet October.  Storms would come in off the ocean, stay for a while, and then move on their way lazily up the coast. 

Sometimes they'd stay all day.  Others would arrive late at night like a drunk falling in from a bar, loudly proclaiming their presence with a noise that would wake you from your slumber.

This day was more of the lazy day.

Standing in front of the kitchen window, stirring the coffee and absentmindedly munching on some toffee peanuts that I didn't need from a discount store, I spotted the little dark colored frog migrating Eastward toward his new home.

There was so much rain falling from the roof that it's home got flooded.

In the background there was music playing.  A bad tribute to Empire Strikes Back on the air, Darth Vader's memories being evoked in time with the snack and the hopping.

Dum Dum Da-Dum (Munch, Hop!) Da DA Dum Da DA Dum (Munch, Hop!).

It was a good solid rain bringing a white noise to the concert.

DA DA DA Dum (Hop!) Da Dum Da Da Dum (Crunch).

Hearing the flapping in the Florida room, someone was begging for attention.   Oscar, the Orange Wing had decided that he wanted to enjoy this storm too.

(Crunch)  Oscar, Want a Shower?!?!
HELLO!  (Flapflapflap) URP!
OK, Shower!
(Munch)  Urp!

I set the cage on the floor, slid open the door to the back yard and set him on the deck.

Deciding that I really didn't need any more of those sweet and salty snacks, I went back to tending to the coffee.  My old friend was out there doing acrobatics inside his home trying to catch every errant drop in a flutter of Green and Grey, Orange and Black.   Feathers spread open and wings splayed to the last inch, he was in his glory.

(Hop Hop JUMP!)  Oscar was being watched.  The frog had decided that this was all too much and leapt for safety under the bougainvillea at the edge of the property.  The Wildlife was having a pleasant morning. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Healthy Heart Hints

Every so often we get these lists of things we should and should not do in order to keep ourselves healthy.  This list is purported to be from a heart specialist in Bangalore India.  Dr Hrudayalaya's name is all over the net, so perhaps there is some truth to this list.  As always with these things, take from it what you will, I found a grain of truth in most of what was written and nothing struck me as being harmful.

Thanks to Velma go for this list of healthy hints.

Ok, doctors, is this  true?
Because I Care for you...

Dr.Devi  Shetty, Hrudayalaya
(Heart  Specialist)  Bangalore

A chat  with Dr..Devi Shetty, Narayana Hrudayalaya(Heart Specialist)  Bangalore was arranged by WIPRO for its employees The transcript  of the chat is given below.
It is useful for everyone.

Q: What are the thumb rules for a layman to  take care of his heart?
1. Diet - Less of carbohydrate, more of  protein, less oil
2. Exercise - Half an hour's walk, at least  five days a week; avoid lifts and avoid sitting for a  longtime
3. Quit smoking
4. Control weight
5. Control  blood pressure and sugar

Q:  Is eating fish good for the heart ?
Ans: Yes

Q:  It's still a grave shock to hear that some apparently healthy  person
gets a cardiac arrest. How do we understand it in  perspective?

Ans: This is  called silent attack; that is why we recommend everyone past the  age of 30 to undergo routine health checkups.

Q: Are heart diseases  hereditary?
Ans:  Yes

Q: What are the ways  in which the heart is stressed? What practices do you suggest to  de-stress?
Ans: Change your  attitude towards life. Do not look for perfection in everything in  life.

Q: Is walking  better than jogging or is more intensive exercise required to keep  a healthy heart?
Ans: Walking  is better than jogging since jogging leads to early fatigue and  injury to joints

Q: You  have done so much for the poor and needy. What has inspired you to  do so?
Ans: Mother Theresa , who was my patient..

Q: Can people with low blood pressure suffer heart  diseases?
Ans: Extremely  rare.

Q: Does cholesterol  accumulates right from an early age
(I'm currently only 22) or  do you have to worry about it only after you are above 30 years of  age?
Ans: Cholesterol  accumulates from  childhood.

Q: How do irregular eating habits affect  the heart ?
Ans: You tend to  eat junk food when the habits are irregular and your body's enzyme  release for digestion gets confused.

Q: How can I control cholesterol content without  using medicines?
Ans: Control  diet, walk and eat walnut.

Q: Which is the best and worst food for the  heart?
Ans: Fruits and vegetables are the best and the  worst is oil.

Q: Which oil is  better - groundnut, sunflower, olive?
Ans: All oils are bad .

Q: What is the routine checkup one  should go through? Is there any specific test?
Ans: Routine blood test to ensure sugar, cholesterol is  ok. Check BP, Treadmill test after an echo.

Q: What are the first aid steps to be  taken on a heart attack?
Ans:  Help the person into a sleeping position , place an aspirin tablet  under the tongue with a sorbitrate tablet if available, and rush  him to a coronary care unit since the maximum casualty takes place  within the first hour..

Q: How do you differentiate between pain caused by  a heart attack and that caused due to gastric trouble?
Ans: Extremely difficult without  ECG.

Q: What is the main  cause of a steep increase in heart problems amongst youngsters? I  see people of about 30-40 yrs of age having heart attacks and  serious heart problems.
Ans:  Increased awareness has increased incidents. Also, sedentary  lifestyles, smoking, junk food, lack of exercise in a country  where people are genetically three times more vulnerable for heart  attacks than Europeans and Americans.

Q: Is it possible for a person to have BP outside  the normal range of 120/80 and yet be perfectly  healthy?
Ans: Yes.

Q: Marriages within close relatives  can lead to heart problems for the child. Is it true?
Ans : Yes, co-sanguinity leads to  congenital abnormalities and you may not have a software engineer  as a child

Q: Many of us  have an irregular daily routine and many a times we have to stay  late nights in office. Does this affect our heart ? What  precautions would you recommend?
Ans : When you are young, nature protects you against  all these irregularities. However, as you grow older, respect  the biological clock.

Q: Will taking anti-hypertensive drugs cause some  other complications (short / long term)?
Ans : Yes, most drugs have some side effects. However,  modern anti-hypertensive drugs are extremely safe.

Q: Will consuming more coffee/tea  lead to heart attacks?
Ans :  No.

Q: Are asthma  patients more prone to heart disease?
Ans : No.

Q:  How would you define junk food?
Ans : Fried food like Kentucky , McDonalds ,  samosas, and even masala dosas.

Q: You mentioned that Indians are three times more  vulnerable. What is the reason for this, as Europeans and  Americans also eat a lot of junk food?
Ans: Every race is vulnerable to some disease and  unfortunately, Indians are vulnerable for the most expensive  disease.

Q: Does  consuming bananas help reduce hypertension?
Ans : No.

Q:  Can a person help himself during a heart attack (Because we see a  lot of forwarded emails on this)?
Ans : Yes. Lie down comfortably and put an aspirin  tablet of any description under the tongue and ask someone to take  you to the nearest coronary care unit without any delay and do not  wait for the ambulance since most of the time, the ambulance does  not turn up.

Q: Do, in  any way, low white blood cells and low hemoglobin count lead to  heart problems?
Ans : No. But  it is ideal to have normal hemoglobin level to increase your  exercise capacity.

Q:  Sometimes, due to the hectic schedule we are not able to exercise.  So, does walking while doing daily chores at home or climbing the  stairs in the house, work as a substitute for  exercise?
Ans : Certainly.  Avoid sitting continuously for more than half an hour and even the  act of getting out of the chair and going to another chair and  sitting helps a lot.

Q:  Is there a relation between heart problems and blood  sugar?
Ans: Yes. A strong  relationship since diabetics are more vulnerable to heart attacks  than non-diabetics.

Qn:  What are the things one needs to take care of after a heart  operation?

Ans : Diet,  exercise, drugs on time , Control cho lesterol, BP,  weight.

Q: Are people  working on night shifts more vulnerable to heart disease when  compared to day shift workers?
Ans : No.

Q:  What are the modern anti-hypertensive drugs?
Ans : There are hundreds of drugs and  your doctor will chose the right combination for your problem, but  my suggestion is to avoid the drugs and go for natural ways of  controlling blood pressure by walk, diet to
reduce weight and  changing attitudes towards lifestyles.

Q: Does dispirin or similar headache pills increase  the risk of heart attacks?
Ans : No.

Q:  Why is the rate of heart attacks more in men than in  women?
Ans : Nature protects  women till the age of 45. (Present Global census show that the  Percentage of heart disease in women has increased than in men  )

Qn: How can one keep  the heart in a good condition?
Ans : Eat a healthy diet, avoid junk food, exercise  everyday, do not smoke and, go for health checkup s if you are  past the age of 30 ( once in six months recommended)  ....


Answer the  phone by LEFT ear

Do not drink  coffee TWICE a day

Do not take  pills with COOL water

Do not have  HUGE meals after 5pm

Reduce the  amount of TEA you consume

Reduce the  amount of OILY food you consume

Drink  more WATER in the morning, less at night

Keep your  distance from hand phone CHARGERS

Do not use  headphones/earphone for LONG period of time

Best sleeping  time is from 10pm at night to 5am in the  morning

Do not lie  down immediately after taking medicine before  sleeping

When cell strength is down to the LAST grid/bar, do not answer the phone as the  radiation is 1000 times

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Goodbye Anabelle

Sometime today, probably right about the time this posting goes live, Anabelle is taking her last trip to the vet.

I met her shortly after she adopted Larry and Kathie.  She was wandering around a parking lot as a stray in West Palm Beach and made it known to Larry and Kathie that she was willing to be found.

They adopted her and made an effort to find the prior owner, but that never really happened.  It was clear that she had had a rough life before then and she had a much better life in store. 

One of my trips down as a snowbird, she decided that she was going to meet me.  I visited them at their house and sat on the couch after being sniffed, wiggled at, licked and generally had attention demanded of.   I practiced the "No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact" mantra as long as I could, and finally gave in to some good natured doggie fun.  From that point on, we made friends.  In fact, Kathie had told me more than once that she treats me in a very different way than she does anyone else.   I guess I really am a Dog Person.

Yes, this was a pit bull.  In fact she was a great ambassador for the breed, and taught me I needed to relax around them and read the owner first.  She was so sweet a dog that every time she saw me, she wanted to come with me when I went.  I guess she liked the excitement of the possibility of a ride in the Jeep that vaguely smelled like my own dog Lettie.

It is now at least 10 years later.   She's got a football sized tumor on her liver that had sucked the life out of her and left her looking thin.  They're at the point where keeping her going is just prolonging the pain.  I know that the next visit, I'll be looking down on the couch and have a passing thought of how it was when this sweet red dog was sitting there looking up at me with those eyes that only a dog or a child can give and smile.

Goodbye Anabelle.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Windows 8 - an A Student doing D Work

I guess this is a conclusion.  I could go on beating on this, the trade press will for months.

Microsoft has a habit of putting out silver followed by tarnish over the last few versions of their flagship product.

Windows XP - Silver
Windows Vista - Tarnish
Windows 7 - Silver
Windows 8 - Tarnish.

I can hope Windows 9 will address these shortcomings. 

This really is a revolutionary release.  Windows 8 opens a whole new world for the operating system.  It does bring the whole Surface touch screen tablet world to the market.   It is also a furious game of catch up that they're playing against the iPad/iPhone on iOS and all the Android tablets. 

With every revolution there will be upset and a little blood spilled.

In my case, I will be returning to Windows 7 this weekend.   It just gets in my way every time I use the new Start screen.   Maybe I am missing the point.  I do know that when people ask me for training on Windows 8 in the weeks after the Xmas rush, I'll be charging for support.

It just feels "Half Baked", not "an A Effort by an A Student".  That's unfortunate since no matter what, Businesses will be using this.  They'll hate it, and it will be another episode of people holding onto the old operating systems as long as possible or migrating to something else like iPads where possible.   Just remember XP and how long it held on.

I found myself turning back the clock to Windows 3.1 in order to get around the heavy handed "The Desktop is Dead" Start screen.   I didn't want to use Apps that went full screen in a nausea inducing flip to life.  I won't even get into the god-awful color scheme that makes it more difficult to find windows start and end, or those hideous icons.

So instead of banging on, I'll offer a helpful hint.  

Other than just trashing it all and going back to Windows 7 by whatever route you can come up with, here is how I got it to behave without buying any software.

This picture below shows my desktop on its last day.

If you look at the bottom of the task bar, you will see a menu.  I got that by right clicking on the mouse near the clock on the task bar. 

Select "Toolbars" from the pop up
Select "Desktop" from the fly out menu.

Just like you see above.

What that gives you now is a little "Start Menu" way of looking at what is sitting on your desktop.  I have been doing this for years now, since Windows XP.  Much easier than going through dozens of stray icons. 

You can stop there and use that menu like your Windows 7 and earlier Start Button.

I took it one step further.

Finding an open spot on the desktop, I right clicked.
Sliding the mouse over "New" I selected "Folder" from the flyout.
I named the folder "Program Manager" for nostalgia's sake but you could call it anything you like.

Now, drag all those loose icons on the desktop that you get when you install a program to it into that folder.  You can use it just like you would the old school Windows 3.1 Program Manager or just use it as a folder on the fly out when you click on the Desktop menu on your task bar.

That was how I got around the maddening loss of knowing where everything was in the Start Screen.  There was way too much scrolling for my tastes after the conciseness of the Windows 7 and before Start Menu. 

Does it seem drastic?  Maybe.
It will take a lot of work for you to maintain this.
You will probably create sub folders within your Program Manager to regain some semblance of order.  One for links, another for Programs, a third perhaps for files that you need every day.

It just seemed easier to do things this way.

This weekend I banish Windows 8 for now.  They may make life easier in the future when Windows 8's first service pack comes out.   For me it has become a major headache and a major distraction.   I'm getting rid of it because frankly I have work to do and it was holding me back.  Microsoft trained us to work one way, now it wants us to change.   I took the bullet early, and thankfully I only got grazed. 

When Grandma opens up the new and shiny computer over the holidays, she'll probably need a lot of help.  Good luck.  You probably should have gotten her an iPad.  After all, it "Just Works".

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Windows 8 Start Screen - Something's Missing Here

After about 2 weeks of installing software on the Windows 8 laptop, this was what my start screen looks like.

Never mind that in the picture the text is a bit too small to read.  My idea actually, you can't blame Microsoft for that. 

I'm doing that for a point.

You see, we have been trained to look at that skyscraper of program names that are groups of icons and more names to find our programs.  If you had someone show you how, you even know that you can pin the ones you like the most to the top of your Start menu.  That has been true at least since Windows XP, and I only personally started using the Pin To Task Bar or Pin To Start Menu a couple years ago when I got my Windows 7 laptop.

It made it quite a lot easier.

With Windows 8 the rules all changed.  You now have a screen.   When you hit your windows key, the monitor shifts to this screen from your desktop or your app.  It does so a bit dizzily as if you are physically turning the monitor to look at the back of it where, surprise! there is your start screen.  

Eye candy aside, the presentation is again geared for a tablet.  What you are seeing is my very own start screen.  Big chocolate colored rectangles represent those programs I installed, the other pastel colored rectangles are those that Microsoft put there.  Color is a visual clue.

The rectangle for the desktop is a representation of the background of your desktop all shrunk down.  Makes some sense to do it that way because most of us who will take the time to add your own picture to the desktop will want to see it some time, even if it's only there since we've got too much work on top.

But that raises the question, where is all my "stuff"?

That's just it, the Start screen only has those icons that you put there when you added the program.  Not every program will add an icon to it, so you'll be lost. 

What you have to do is search for your programs.

First you scroll to the right.   Since everything is so blasted big, you are scrolling... and scrolling... and scrolling until you hit the end of the screen.  You might be confused because the program may not in fact be there. 

Now what to do?   Yes, you have to search for it.

But windows doesn't make it readily apparent how you do it... the combination Win plus the Q key will work and has worked for a couple of versions back.   With all this nonsensical gigantic icon crap going on, there really should be an icon there with a magnifying glass saying "Find my Stuff".

Ok, so that not withstanding, here is what you get in Windows 8 when you do the search by hitting Win + Q:

Better get used to seeing this screen.  While most folks use only a few programs in the course of a day, this is geared to your using "Apps".  When you find the app you want, right click on it and add it to your start screen to save your sanity by clicking on the "Pin to Start" button.

By going through all these steps that should have been done for you, you'll have the ability to use the app.  It may be in the desktop which is not where Microsoft wants you to run your programs, er, sorry... Apps now.  No, that's a very different space. 

You see Desktop is now intended to be the place where only the grumpy old programs run that don't look like your New And Shiny Apps.  They don't really want you in the Desktop any more.   Microsoft are betting the bank on converting your desktop to a big old Tablet computer.

The biggest problem I have with Apps are that they are full screen.   Just like your Android Tablet or iPad.   Great.  That will work for some folks, but if you use a computer professionally, that gets old very fast.   Sure the Apps are intended to give you the same functionality that a windowed app would, but these new things take up the entire screen.

That works great if you're using a Surface Tablet.  That works terribly if you are on a laptop.  

Think about how you actually WORK on a PC.  We're not talking about playing a game like Solitaire.  In fact, Solitaire was not installed on my Windows 8 install, I would have to add it at their App Store.  Just so Microsoft would be watching over you when you get your new apps and know what you are doing.... just like Google and Apple do every time you run your app there.

I don't really like that, it's decidedly creepy.  I REALLY don't like that on the desktop.

So now you sit down and find your copy of Microsoft Word and Excel, and normally I start three Excel windows, one Word window, and Firefox every time I start the computer.  Since the new idea is to go full screen, what do you do if you want to refer between two of those windows?  Better get used to full screen app flipping and being much less effective at your job because now Word and Excel will be (eventually) full screen apps.

Despite the fact that the latest version of Microsoft Office doesn't really work well with being an App.

You get a lot of visual clues if you run a windowed operating system in a windowed mode.   Some folks will use their browser full screen, and if that is their choice, my recommendation is to be happy with Windows 8 or a Surface tablet.   Everything will look familiar and fairly new.

If you find this app flipping confusing and wonder why you can't keep a calculator app on your desktop visible when you're trying to get back to Word... you will find yourself frustrated beyond words with Windows 8.

Frankly they broke the way you will work.

You see, while the Desktop is in its own little penalty box of Desktop Land, all the Apps are in their own place of App Land.  You'll have to find the little hot corner (Upper Left) and hope you have the mouse cursor jammed up there long enough to see the little icon fly out so you can pick your app.  

All of this is very clumsy on the desktop where you're used to having precise control over your mouse and selecting things as small as an individual dot.   It has to be because on a tablet there is no mouse, there is only your finger.  Some of us have very large fingers indeed, and Microsoft has done a fairly good job of accommodating that, but if you are not using that touch screen you'll find yourself scratching your head and thinking what were they drinking or smoking that day when they decided to go with this way of doing things.

In my case, I'm looking forward to my next weekend project - getting rid of Windows 8.  It's terrible.  At least Windows Vista was useable!