Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's A Vi? Why Vi?

Admittedly this is for your geek cred.

If you run Windows, or Mac, and you're happy in that environment, I really doubt you will ever need Vi.

On the other hand, I took a look at it again and found this particular piece of software to be very useful.

In short, "Vi" is a text editor that runs on Unix, Linux, FreeBSD.  It is available for the Mac and Windows.  Basically any computer that you use that you need an editor, you can find someone who took the time and care to bring the Vi Experience to you. 

I'm sure some demented soul brought Vi to Android, and maybe even your iPad. 

That's the Pro.  The biggest Con I can think of is that it is not user friendly.  In fact I found it bloody maddening to use when I first started to learn it.  Once I got used to it, it was second nature within about a week.  Yes, week.  Or longer.  

Remember this was back in the 80s when a home computer was weird.

You see this was designed as a really basic text editor for back in the day software.  You know, command lines?  Unix before anyone ever really started using Linux. 

If you are using Windows, you have a rather powerful text editor already called Notepad.  I can't think of anything off hand that Vi can do that Notepad can't with text files. 

My favorite thing to do with Vi was to repeat the last command by hitting the period.  It would happily just keep doing that as long as you had your finger down on the period key.  Over and over.  Want a page of text?  Just keep repeating it.  Great for programmers.  Not so much for Mom or Pop.

Even that is built into windows, just copy and paste.  Then keep repeating the paste command.

  • Ctrl+c will copy the highlighted text into the clipboard.
  • Crtl+x will "cut" that highlighted text.
  • Ctrl+v will paste the copied/cut text into the document at the place your cursor is "anchored".

So why go to the trouble learning Vi?

In my own case, I use Linux on a daily basis.  Linux even has a really wonderful graphical text editor called "gedit".  It looks an awful lot like Notepad, so all the "regular" actions work like a champ there.  But there are times where you are on a Linux system without the graphical user interface like a Server.  Now you're banging around on a server with no graphical user interface thinking "why didn't they install one?" and need to edit a text file.  Remember the old ".ini" files?  Linux uses a lot of those things in the background, and yes, I've had to edit them using Vi.

If you really do want to bang your head against the wall repeatedly, you can use the Vi I downloaded from this website.

Why would you want to use Vi?

Education perhaps?  Challenge yourself to do something new to you.  Earn your geek cred.

A really concrete reason is that this particular program called WinVi has a really nice built in Hex Editor.  Hex editors are one of those things that if you need it, you need it NOW and you need it BAD.  Like a canteen in the desert, it's that important, but how often have you been in the desert and needed a drink.

Plus it's fun to see what someone has hidden in files sometimes.  You know, curiosity sake?  I went into a file that was connected with Internet Explorer 4 way back when that was new and I was still using Netscape and hacked it.  Every time IE 4 would start, I had it put up a message in the title bar that "Internet Explorer Stinks".

Ok, something more rude than that, but you get the picture.  You just can't have that kind of fun with Notepad.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's A Virtual Machine?

Wanting to write about something is one thing.  Wanting to write about something that will be read is another.  Getting too techie is a sure fire sign that you're writing something that is "TL/DR" - too long/ Didn't read.

But on the other hand, I was asked "What is a virtual machine anyway?" by someone in a social setting.   It was phrased a bit differently than that but here we go.  Hopefully it won't be TL/DR.

The idea is that you are looking at this on a browser running on a computer.   Statistics say it's probably Windows since this is where I get about 2/3 of my readers.  That means it is most likely a PC.

PCs are wonderful things that run something called Software.  Software can make your PC do things like play Solitaire, Surf the Web, listen to music, and make pretty pictures.

What if a piece of software simply "looked like" a computer?

Now you have a computer inside a computer.  

Add an operating system to that computer inside of a computer and now you have a computer running inside a computer that you can actually DO things with.

That's it.  That simple.

Why would you want to do that?  At home you may have one computer in the house.  This is less likely now, but back in the last 20 years that was the way it was.  A desktop PC sat in a corner with a monitor and it was shared.  What if that desktop PC had a virtual computer for each person on it?  Now your stuff and my stuff would not get mixed up.   If you got a virus, I wouldn't.  That's what you get when you surf "Those" websites.

Keeping things simple, there are other ways to use this thing in a home environment.

By now we all have an "Old Computer".  I know people who are paranoid and don't want to give those machines away so they end up having a closet full of computers that date back into the 80s.

Since the days of Windows XP, oh so many weeks ago, you could clear that closet up by running a piece of software that would create a virtual computer out of the old computer.  Basically now you have copy of that old computer running in a window on your newer computer.

That is how I get rid of my old machines - make a virtual computer so I don't lose the software.  Why pay for that software again when you can't find the install CD and it already works well on that creaky old computer?  After all it's only 20 GB right?

Companies do this sort of thing all the time.  They create a server that is intended to house all these machines in a closet and "host" them all.  It saves space and a lot of power. 

The down sides are that if that computer is damaged (power spikes will murder a PC), you lose every one of those machines if they weren't backed up.  Also, you have to have a legal license to that computer.  You can't just make virtual computers with Windows or Mac OSX for free.  Linux isn't a problem and I make virtual computers with Linux all the time. 

The way I am currently using virtual machines is like this.

My laptop is running Windows 7.  I have a copy of something called "VMWare Player".  That will let me create and run virtual machines.  I installed a copy of Ubuntu Linux into it.  I then installed all sorts of things like Database (MySQL), a Web Server (Apache), and a programming language (PHP).  When I could serve websites with it to my home network, I then installed a copy of a Contact Management Software called SugarCE.  It all works like a champ, it's all free, and fits really well on my lap.

Like I said, it's a very basic answer to a basic question that can be quite complex.  Probably more involved than a basic answer, but that's a start...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flea Marketing in the Sun

The problem with going to a flea market is that you're going to find something you want.

I have never gone home empty handed.

Part of that is because the really good ones, I mean truly good ones, always have fruit and vegetable there.


Hit that part last.  You know you really did want that flat of strawberries in season.  After all, you're on your way home.  You may get stuck in traffic.  It's a long drive.  Maybe six or seven miles.  You'll need sustenance.  Trust me on that one.   You need strawberries.

They are a great place to find oddball items that you didn't know you needed.  Just like those strawberries, you may just need that pair of neon sunglasses from the mid 1980's.  Why?  Well just because they're awesome just like you are.

My problem is that I'm too handy for my own good.  Walking along the box farms of new things that you can get for ONE DOLLAR!  ONE DOLLAR!  you can find things that may just be missing a little something but you really did need.  The stand mixer with the frayed cord or the picture frame with someone's aunt from 1943 in it may just need a little polishing and there you have it.  A new heirloom.

I've repaired more things than I can count.  I'm "That Guy" that has taken "dead" rechargeable screwdrivers and breathed new life into it by removing the old dead battery and placing a new set of cells in it.  Yes, with a soldering iron and having the scene from Young Frankenstein in my head, I've pressed the button and said "It's ALIVE!" when the thing whirred to life.

Every time I go to one I remember after I got there that bringing a couple AA Batteries might have been a good idea. 

On the other hand I've been told that on no uncertain terms do I need a hand held TV set from the old Analog TV days whether it was Cool! or not!

I learned one important fact about these places.  They are a shelter.

Having gone up and down the aisles in the South Florida Sun, sipping on some bottled water and casually eating a piece of fruit, I spotted them.

No, not the stall with the birds chattering loudly wanting to be anywhere but there. 

This was the shelter for Hello Kitty merchandise.   Where else but a large flea market will you find not one but four red Hello Kitty Refrigerators all stacked in a row.  I don't know what you would actually DO with a candy apple red Hello Kitty refrigerator.  In fact, I don't know anyone who would be able to tell me a good reason why you want a cartoon cat stenciled on the side of a underpowered refrigerator, but they were there.   Four in a row.  In the sun.  In their original carton.  Looking incongruous.

Among all the old hand tools, things from Grandma's Attic, and out of date foods, there was the row.  I could almost hear the chorus eternal singing an Ahhhhh! sound in the background as I approached the little red boxes that were sitting there.

Thinking I had lost my mind momentarily, I drew another sip of water from my bottle, had another strawberry, and walked rapidly away from the row of refrigerators.

What to my wandering eye did appear?  No, not a reindeer, but more Hello Kitty merchandise.  Yes, I would have been able to wrap the entire town's collection of older iPhones in a strange silicone rubber case with a white faced cat.

The sun must have been getting to me.  I turned back to reality and sanity and went back to looking for what I had originally come for.  Sunglasses.

Sunglasses are a requirement in South Florida.  You may never use them "today" but there will be a day you do.  As long as they're marked Polarized and UV400, you're fairly safe.  So leaning over the stall, I reached down to find a pair of mirrored wrap arounds with a black frame just like the pair I had on and saw them.

A pair of Hello Kitty sunglasses.

Ok, I'm out.  No more kitties, hello or otherwise.   It's has to be a mirage.  Let me get some more produce and we're done.

Blasted cats.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Silence of the Oscars

9:30pm Sunday around the Drive here in Wilton Manors has a certain rhythm.

The bars are busy but not crazy.  You can actually go in and get a drink, even find free parking.  The cars usually are not cycling through the neighborhood too badly.  You know when the specials are at the businesses and the bars because the parking lots ebb and flow into and out of the neighborhood.

It's a suburban or even urban area, although I'm not sure what the distinction is in South Florida.  Since I have grass on all sides of my house, I'll stick with Suburban.

You know your neighbors, perhaps better than a passing wave.  You know when the pool guy down the block is going to pass by on the way out and when he's coming home.

Living on next to a business district assumes you're welcoming the entertainment, expecting a distraction occasionally, and are willing to get to know the owners or at least the security guards.

When we went out for the dog walk, the last one of the day, it was silent.

"Hey listen!"
"It's quiet!"
"Well yeah, it's quiet, but it's Sunday night.  Come on, lets walk Lettie..."
"No, I mean Quiet."

I took a good listen and he was right. Even a good block away from the bars, you could tell that this was going to be a down night.  I haven't set foot in them yet this year, probably since last Fall, but I knew this was going to be a quiet Sunday Evening.

"It must be the Oscars"
"Do you really think so?  Are they that big of a deal?"
"Apparently.  We're not into it but the Oscar Parties must be in full swing."

Looking at the neighbor's houses I noticed that the only places that felt alive were the ones with more than the usual cars in the driveways, lights were on and somebody was home.

"Funny, all that glitteratti nonsense never really appealed to us, but I guess for some folks, it is High Drama."
"Yeah, there's just too much fluff in the Oscars for me to want to bother."
"Not enough entertainment, ironically."

By the time we convinced Lettie it was time to turn into the parking lot for the Shoppes and head back to the house, we realized that they weren't having a busy night.  Sure the dance bar was busy enough, but you could actually find a space for your car right in front when we walked by. 

Puts things in perspective.  The neighborhood was actually noisier this morning when I got up to walk the dog at 5:30 than it was at 9:30 the night before.

Down the block the pool guy was filling his truck.  The cats were out warming themselves on the pavement.  The birds were singing to the not yet risen sun trying to wake those still in bed.

The rhythm of the city was reestablishing itself, and all was back to normal. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Cop Visits Lover's Lane - Humor

A cop is working 3rd shift. He decides to drive up to Lookout Point to see if any funny business is happening. Once he arrives he sees 1 car. He shuts the lights off and pulls behind the parked car. He gets out of his patrol car, slowly walks up to the parked car and notices a male in the driver's seat and a female in the back seat. Curious about what could be going he notices the male reading a magazine and the female knitting a sweater! He walks up to the window and wraps on the glass.

The driver rolls down the window and says "Yes Officer?"
"What are you doing young man?"
"Why reading a Sports Illustrated Sir."
"And the girl in the back?"
"Why she's knitting a sweater isn't it obvious?"

Well this is the strangest situation the cop has come across in a long time. He decides to get to the bottom of it.

"Son, how old are you?"
"I am 21 Sir."
"And the girl?"
The boy looks at his watch and says "In 11 minutes she'll be 18."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Two Ex Wife Jokes

Ok, sure, it's an old topic, the Ex.  You can always change the pronouns if you don't like Ex Wife Jokes, but here are two short ones for you.

Drunken mistake
A completely inebriated man walked into a bar and, after staring for some time at the only woman seated there, walked over to her and began kissing her passionately.

She jumped up and slapped him silly.
He immediately apologized and explained, "I'm sorry. I thought you were my wife. You look exactly like her."
"Why you drunken, worthless, insufferable fool!" she screamed.
"That's funny," he muttered, "you even sound exactly like her!"

Tim decided to tie the knot with his long time girlfriend. 

One evening, after the honeymoon, he was assembling some loads for an upcoming hunt.
His wife was standing there at the bench watching him.

After along period of silence she finally speaks. "Honey, I've been thinking, now that we are married I think it's time you quit hunting, shooting, hand-loading ammo, and fishing. Maybe you should sell your guns and boat".

Tim gets this horrified look on his face.
She says, "Darling, what's wrong?"
”There for a minute you were sounding like my ex-wife.”
"Ex wife!", she screams, "I didn't know you were married before!"

”I wasn't “

Friday, February 22, 2013

Easy Crock Pot Curry Recipe

First off, no picture.  It's by design.  You see most recipes that have rice cooked in the crockpot look odd.  This one is no exception.  Rice tends to just dissolve into a paste that looks "Already Been Chewed".

On the other hand, this was quite good, and savory.  It was not at all "spicy".  There are as many curry recipes as there are cooks.  Thai Curry is different from Chinese Curry, and both are different from Indian Curry.  This recipe I used McCormick's Curry Powder.  It's mild, has a savory flavor, and will perfume the house with a nice scent.  It doesn't linger or make you have spicy acid flashbacks.

While the Raisins are optional, they really aren't.  They add a little sweetness to the savory mix that is really welcome.  If you truly hate raisins, well sorry, you can leave them out, but I recommend adding them into the pot.  In fact, next time, I'll double the raisins since I personally like them.  They also soak up some of the liquid in the mix so if you do leave them out, adjust how much water you add.

You'll note that it says "Curry Recipe" and not "Curried Chicken"?  That's because this will work with any mild meat or Tofu.  In fact, I think this would work well as a vegetarian meal using Quorn as a substitute.   Quorn tastes like chicken or turkey.   If you're a veggie, it's worth a shot since it is so simple.  Just make sure you use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock this calls for.

Ok, here goes.

  • 4 pounds of thawed chicken parts.  About 4-6 breasts or 8 to 12 thighs
  • 1 Can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/2 Cup of water
  • 1 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth/Stock
  • Up To 2 cups of frozen green beans, Thawed and optional.
  • 3/4 Cup Uncooked Rice.
  • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder for mild, more if you prefer.
  • 1/2 cup Raisins

Add Chicken parts to the pot.
Add Cream of Mushroom Soup and water.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Give it all a good stir.
Cook in crockpot for at least 6 hours at low or until chicken is tender and reaches an appropriate temperature. 
My chicken thigh packets said cook to 180F.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

DEET Only Deters Mosquitos First Time

I knew it.  I knew Mosquito Deterrents only worked for a short while.   Now I have scientific proof.

I guess I'll just have to go find a really big hamster ball.

The story is that if I used a mosquito deterrent spray to keep the little nasties off me, they would work only for a short time, then I'd be back to swatting.  The reason is that DEET, which is the chemical that was developed for the US Army back in WWII, would get in the bug's antennas.   The receptors would get clogged up, and the mosquitoes would ignore the DEET on the second go.

Think about it.  You spray yourself with that Deep Woods Off, you expect to be able to go outside and have a good time.  If the wind is low, and you are in a crowd, that may not work.   The mosquitoes will go to the next guy for a while, and you're fine.   But after being exposed to your repellent, and not finding something, they home in on your own Carbon Dioxide, and you're being bit.  In a breeze, the bugs that got exposed to DEET would be blown away on the breeze and fresh, unexposed mosquitoes would be the next in line and be repelled until that breeze stops.

That is completely within my own experience.   I'm the mosquito buffet in a crowd.  I'll go out lathered in that goop and still get bit. 

Sometimes, just knowing what you are up against is half the battle.  Besides, I think it would be fun to play in a giant hamster ball on top of the waves on the ocean.   Maybe tow it behind a boat?  Bounce off the wake?

The whole story was on the BBC today, here at this link.

That's a load off my mind, even if it means I'm still going to be bit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bread That Last 60 Days Cuts Waste

Going through the news on the BBC can turn up some items you don't expect to read.  Its essential "Britishness" adds a dimension that one living in South Florida wouldn't expect to read about. 

After all, when is the last time you were at a proper Tea?

The problem with that Tea is that some things turn stale after a while, so the recipes that are traditional in one area, any area, may not work in another.   Sourdough Bread in San Francisco is phenomenal, but the yeasts that grow in that cool and wet climate would not do well in South Florida because of the warm and wet climate we have here.  As a result, "real" San Francisco Sourdough Bread is different than Sourdough that is baked in Chicago, Philadelphia, or anywhere else without their micro-climate.

Instead, we have different things like molds and iguanas that fall from the trees when it gets cold.

Bread seems to turn stale faster here, as a result of our climate. 

Someone here in the US is working on a solution to that, and they claim that by the use of Microwaves that are somehow "modulated" in a special way, you can get a loaf of bread to last 60 days without spoilage.

I would expect that a 60 day old bread slice would be dried out whether it is mold free or not.   Plus the occasional lizard that sneaks into the house might have a sample. 

The Bread Box isn't all that practical when you live here as a result.

The reason why bread doesn't turn stale is that commercial bread bakeries often pump their recipes full of an alphabet soup of chemicals.  They change the flavor of the bread, and you end up with something with an odd taste, or no taste at all.  But it will last more than a day or three which is something that I can't really say about my own breads that I bake at home, or some of the wonderful artisan breads that you can get when you step away from that stuff that is in a plastic bag with polka dots on it.

Of course they never consulted the people who make the bread for Mc Donald's hamburgers.  There's a rather famous, or infamous, study where someone took Fries and a Mc Donald's hamburger and left it on a plate.

For 12 years.

It was untouched visibly.

Not even the bugs in the house would go near the stuff.  It dried out, looks normal, but has an odd smell about it. This link talks about a 12 year old Mc Donald's Hamburger.

I think I'll stick with making my own bread rolls.   Much better for me.  As for the microwave technique, it's "in testing" and may be rolled out eventually. 

With butter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ultrasound Mosquito Deterrents do not work!

Blasted things.   Mosquitoes.  I hate them.

But unfortunately, they love me.

I am a mosquito deterrent, at least for you.  I'm that guy that is swatting the little blighters while everyone around is looking confused because they're not getting bit.  I have "Sweet Blood" or whatever you wish to call it, but the nasty creatures seek me out.

I was even getting bit inside the house when I forgot to change the water in a "rooting cup" that I had some cuttings in when Momma Mosquito found it, laid her eggs, and her minions came out to bite me.

Yes, the ones who bite are ALWAYS female.  The guys just want to find flowers and suck nectar for their food.  You're safe.

I've tried sprays.  Deep Woods anything... Doesn't work.  At least for me.  Plus I'm not comfortable turning my skin into a toxic waste dump for a half hour of protection.

I've tried submerging myself.   If I'm relaxing in the pool or the hot tub, we put this massive fan on that blows a gust across the water, then I get as low as I can so there is less surface area.   Still they find me and turn my head into an airport that they're approaching for a landing.

I've had one fly into my eye and get lodged under my eye lid.   One of the problems with inline skating 21,000 miles like I had is that you eat a lot of bugs.  Don't ask.

The best thing I found is to simply wear long pants, and don't go outside just after sunrise or within an hour or two of sunset.  Stay out in the sun because that dries the nasty creatures up.   Drain everything, don't let water collect under pots.   Kind of a problem here since there's a drip feed irrigation system that runs each day for the orchids.

I tried the little ultrasound things that make a high pitched EEEEE! sound.   I didn't think they worked either.   They annoy the dogs though, so since my own Lettie is almost deaf, I use one to keep other dogs away from us.  She's old and doesn't want or need the contact so they stay away to the confusion of their owners.

I did find out that there have been tests of these devices.  Even the smartphone apps don't work, and I've tried them out on all of my phones.  There has been scientific double-blind tests that say don't waste your money.  You can read the BBC article on them.  They'll say the same thing.  Great picture of the piece of software that I use on the phone, on an iPhone, in the hand of a tester.  The hand has mosquitoes biting the hand while it is on.

The tester must be like me.  Sweet blood.

I'm debating if I can find a hamster ball and use it to go outside, but until then, I'll be in my cargo pants.   I've heard they're out of style, but they're great for one thing.  If I have my smartphone in my pocket, I can set the sound on the mosquito chaser to about 17,000 Hz.   They do great for keeping noisy kids away from me too.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mildred's Vanilla Glaze Recipe

Want Cake?

The conversation went like this...

Ok, it's time for dessert.
What do you want?
I guess it's time to pull that cake out of the freezer, maybe we can get it out of the pan without shredding it.
You think it will fall apart?
Dunno, it's frozen so it will be firmer when it comes to take it out of that silicone ring.
Ok, so I'll make glaze...
Yeah, Mom's Vanilla Glaze.
Aww but we have all that caramel!
Nope, I want Vanilla Glaze.  How about half and half?
I think I'd end up with the caramel half only and that vanilla glaze is so very sweet.  Good but sweet!

It went back and forth like that for a while, and I lost.  The reality is that this is a good glaze but yeah really very sweet.  I would have made half the amount for this cake.   It's sweet enough with rainbow Jimmies and Chocolate Chips suspended in the batter.  

The recipe goes like this:

  • 2 cups 10x or Confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Yeah it's basically sugar.

  1. To a pan on very low heat, add the 2 Tablespoons each of milk and butter while constantly stirring until the butter melts.
  2. Add the mixture to the 2 cups 10x sugar in a bowl stirring constantly until smooth.
  3. Mix in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
  4. Thin with a few drops of milk if it is too thick.
  5. Ice the cake allowing the glaze to drip down the sides if desired.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pilots and Guide Dogs

While sitting on the airplane two blind pilots, both are wearing dark glasses, one is using a guide dog, and the other is tapping his way along the aisle with a cane came aboard the plane.

Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin, but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes, and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing nervously around, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming.

The plane moves faster and faster down the runway, and the people sitting in the window seats realize they're headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport. As it begins to look as though the plane will plough into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin. At that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air.

The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly, and soon all retreat into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane is in good hands.

In the cockpit, one of the blind pilots turns to the other and says, "Ya know, Bob, one of these days, they're gonna scream too late, and we're all gonna die."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Some Random Chuckles

Just when you thought it was safe, Bad Joke Saturday comes along with a list of Random Chuckles!

The fattest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.
No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'
I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'
The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
A backward poet writes inverse.
When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you'd be in Seine.
A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says "Dam!"
Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.
Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, 'I've lost my electron.' The other says 'Are you sure?' The first replies, 'Yes, I'm positive.'
Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.
There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Doris Longwing Butterfly at Fairchild Gardens - Picture

Insects are something that I generally find annoying.  I'm that guy who gets bit when nobody else sees mosquitoes around. 

It isn't a fear, it's annoyance.

On the other hand, Butterflies are something that  have a special place in my heart.

My Mexican Milkweed is there specifically because my Godmother, Kathie knew that I liked the Monarch Butterflies and gave me seeds.  The plants always look like sticks as a result, but that's why they are there - food for the Monarchs.   As a result there are always some around.

When I got a chance to go to the butterfly house at Fairchild Tropical Gardens, I finally got to a place where I could stand around looking at these gentle creatures for as long as I liked.

It is an odd building.  A giant structure with windows and screens everywhere, but in order to go in, you have to enter an air lock.  Most of these species on display would establish themselves out in the wild here.  Since there are quite enough invasive species roaming South Florida, this minor inconvenience is well worth the effort.

Inside, there are plants specifically placed as food for the butterflies, a beautiful babbling brook of a  fountain, and posts with fruit sitting on top as a feeding station. 

All the time you are there, you are being circled by flocks of these exotic butterflies.  Creatures that you see sometimes out in your yard are mostly too common.  My beautiful orange and black Monarchs or the Swallowtails that lay eggs on my citrus trees are simply not housed in this habitat. 

For someone who says that "Butterflies lower my IQ 10 points", a visit to a butterfly house was one of those wide-eyed moments of wonder.  A moment of beauty well worth the trip.

Needless to say, I've got plenty of pictures on the camera to share.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Flowers - Picture

Valentine's Day Here
Wall of Flowers for my Friends
 Enjoy the Display.

Ok, so it is a rather forced Haiku.  Perhaps it is even Doggerel.

Going through the pictures on my camera's chip, I saw this and thought that while cliched it would be a good day for a few flowers.

Some Vanda Orchids,
Poinsettia in their Blooms,
Milkweed and Beauty.

Have a good Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Industrial Amaryllis Returns - Picture

When you move into a home, you often find little things that confuse you.  Why did they do that?  Why did they put that there?  Good GOD why did they ever think Pink was the right shade for that wall?

Luckily I don't have any pink walls here.  I do have a brown bathroom which I have often thought was, well, redundant.  It looks like the 1960s moved in, took root, and then married the 1970s with Knotty Pine on a 45 degree bias, but that's a different story and I do like knotty pine.

We've been told there are quite a few stories that we could be told about the house but they wouldn't dare.  Carrot, meet stick.  Good grief, don't do that.  Either tell the stories or shut your yap.

One of the strange things we've noticed about the property is that the plants are put in some arbitrary places.  Many of those plants were removed over the years.  I spent a good amount of time ripping out "Macho Ferns" from under all the hedges because they would seek the light.  Having a fern grow out of the top of a Japanese Yew because it was planted on the ground and couldn't get the light was a bit confusing to me.

They're gone but I couldn't bear to pull these flowers.   I may move them with the others.  This cluster is behind the irrigation pumps on the side of the house.  The only possible benefit I can see with them there is they won't get run over by the lawn mower. 

Our very own private Amaryllis.  You'll only ever see them if you're here at the right time of year, in the back yard, walk around the side of the house, and look behind the pump. 

Yeah, I didn't think it made any sense either.  But for now they're safe and sound and eventually, some day...

Or not.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Caramel Chocolate Layer Cake - Picture

When I was a teen, my best friend's Mom, Diane made a similar cake.  It always came with the story that it's supposed to have a layer of caramel magically suspended inside.  You would bake the cake with the caramel on top and somehow the caramel would appear in the middle.

It never quite worked out that way.  The recipes I found for that cake said to partially pre-bake the bottom, pour the melted caramel on top, then pour the batter on top of the caramel and bake the lot to finish.

Like they say, Ain't Nobody Got Time For That.

I had a light bulb moment and thought about how to come close to the recipe.   I had one last layer of birthday cake in the freezer to be iced.  That day I grabbed two cans of Sweetened Condensed Milk from the cupboard and used the recipe from this blog for "Explosively Good Caramel" to make the layer of caramel in the middle.  Boiled water with the two cans in the pot obsessively checking it every 20 minutes to make sure they were completely submerged for two hours.  Turn the heat off and allow to cool with the cans in there.

The filling took only 1/2 of a can which meant that for snacks I have been having caramel. 

It's not as hard as the candies you'd get at the shops, this was more like a pudding or jelly consistency.

We topped it off with that white icing we whipped together which turned out to be a bit too sweet for my tastes.  The brown icing mimicking a "Black and White" cookie was the result of our joking around about how those cookies are hard to find here in South Florida, not impossible, just rare.

Next time I make cake, I'm planning on doing something different with the batter, and making cupcakes.

Since I have another can of caramel on hand, you can be sure some of them will be "iced" with the stuff.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Tracert Short Story - Geek Humor

If you want to know how badly lagged you are when you play a game, or if you're potentially having your web traffic hijacked, there is a command that can help.

It's called a Trace Route.  In windows, you run it from the command prompt, A.K.A "The Dark Place".  You type in tracert then the IP address or the url you want to follow. 

You'll get a lot of stuff that you may need some help to read but it will tell you the following -

The number of "hops" or computers you pass through to get to the next step.
The time it took to go from point A to point B.
The IP Address and the URL of the destination.

Someone had a little fun.

You see you have a lot of latitude in naming those routers that are out there.  Apparently people weren't checking to see what people were calling them.   Someone figured that out and decided to name them oddly.

They pieced them together and made a story.

So if you went to Start, Accessories, Command Prompt and typed


You get the following results.  Or at least I did when I typed the stuff in at 750AM ion Sunday Feb 10, 2013.  If you miss the story, jump to step 12 and read the words in Italics.

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.


Tracing route to FIN []
over a maximum of 30 hops:

  1     2 ms    <1"" br="" ms="" nbsp="">  2    27 ms    43 ms    69 ms  (My address was here, sorry folks)111
  3    25 ms    23 ms    26 ms
.net []
  4    27 ms    27 ms    27 ms
  5    50 ms    35 ms    36 ms [68.8
  6    29 ms    29 ms    22 ms [68.8
  7    27 ms    27 ms    26 ms
  8    42 ms    41 ms    47 ms []
  9    45 ms   106 ms    44 ms []
 10    52 ms    53 ms    51 ms []
 11     *        *        *     Request timed out.
 12   104 ms    93 ms    87 ms  Episode.IV []
 13    97 ms    90 ms    91 ms  A.NEW.HOPE []
 14    88 ms    89 ms    90 ms []
 15    90 ms    93 ms    88 ms  Rebel.spaceships []
 16    88 ms    87 ms    88 ms  striking.from.a.hidden.base []
 17    89 ms    91 ms    89 ms  have.won.their.first.victory []
 18    90 ms    88 ms    93 ms  against.the.evil.Galactic.Empire [
 19    89 ms    88 ms     *     During.the.battle []
 20    89 ms    90 ms    93 ms  Rebel.spies.managed []
 21    89 ms    95 ms    90 ms  to.steal.secret.plans []
 22    96 ms    90 ms    93 ms  to.the.Empires.ultimate.weapon []

 23    92 ms    94 ms    89 ms  the.DEATH.STAR []
 24    94 ms   104 ms   103 ms []
 25    96 ms    88 ms    93 ms []
 26   107 ms    93 ms    96 ms []
 27  2194 ms    83 ms   117 ms []
 28    91 ms    91 ms    91 ms  sinister.agents []
 29    90 ms    90 ms    90 ms  Princess.Leia.races.home []
 30   104 ms    88 ms    92 ms  aboard.her.starship []

Trace complete.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Young Doctor Making His First Rounds - Humor

A young doctor had moved out to a small community to replace a doctor who was retiring. The older gent suggested the young one accompany him on his rounds so the community could become used to a new doctor.

At the first house a woman complained, "I've been a little sick to my stomach." The older doctor said, "Well, you've probably been overdoing the fresh fruit. Why not cut back on the amount you've been eating and see if that does the trick?"

As they left the younger man said, "You didn't even examine that woman. How'd you come to your diagnosis so quickly?"

"I didn't have to. You noticed I dropped my stethoscope on the floor in there? When I bent over to pick it up, I noticed a half dozen banana peels in the trash. That was what was probably making her sick."

"Huh," the younger doctor said, "Pretty sneaky. I think I'll try that at the next house."

Arriving at the next house, they spent several minutes talking with an elderly woman. She complained that she just didn't have the energy she once did. "I'm feeling terribly run down lately."

"You've probably been doing too much work for the church," the younger doctor told her. "Perhaps you should cut back a bit and see if that helps."

As they left, the elder doc said, "Your diagnosis is almost certainly correct, but how did you arrive at it?"

"Well, just like you at the last house, I dropped my stethoscope. When I bent down to retrieve it, I noticed the preacher under the bed."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Three Short Jokes for Saturday - Humor

The old monk

There was a old monk who worked at a ancient bell tower and every day at noon he would ring the giant bell using his head.

One day he slipped and fell down the bell tower to his death.

When two men arrived at the scene the one asked the other "Who is this dead man ?" and the other replied "I'm not sure but his face rings a bell.".

Stop celebrating your birthday.

All your doing is taking credit for someone else's hard work.
Your mother did all the work that's why they called it labor.
If you must celebrate the day call it what it truly is:
              The anniversary of your very first eviction.

And finally, at the bar...

I was at the bar the other night and overheard three very hefty women talking at the bar.

Their accent appeared to be Scottish, so I approached and asked, "Hello, are you three lassies from Scotland?"
One of them angrily screeched, "It's Wales, Wales you bloody idiot!"

So I apologized and replied, "I am so sorry. Are you three whales from Scotland?"
And that's the last thing I remember.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Before and After Insta White Recipe

Ever have a recipe that didn't want to be baked?

When making the first batch, the day before these, I slipped.  Dropped something into the oven that burst.  8 hours later after the oven was cleaned and we managed to use a Dremel to cut the lock off the Self Cleaning latch on the thing, I finally got it open.

Fast forward to The Next Day.  These two batches baked perfectly, the second one looked just like the first.

The rolls were 1/10th of the 1 1/2 pound batch of the Insta White bread recipe I have below.   2 1/2 pound recipe is at the bottom of the post and I got 18 out of it on the first day. 

It's actually a Bread Machine recipe, but if you have a dough hook and a mixer, toss the goodies in the order listed and let the thing knead until smooth.

I usually make my bread in the bread machine on the knead cycle, then pull it out and bake at 450 for 11 minutes.  Your bake time will vary.

This recipe made for a very light and fluffy inside of the roll.  Much softer than the usual recipes in fact.  I had one of the rolls with a bit of Ham and Cheese for lunch and frankly it made the sandwiches better.

The crust was bold and had a nice flavor to it which you don't usually get on a white bread recipe.

Ingredients for 1 1/2 pound loaf or 10 rolls

  1. Warm Water - 1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons
  2. Lemon Juice - 1 teaspoon
  3. Oil - 2 Tablespoons
  4. Sugar - 2 Tablespoons
  5. Salt - 1 teaspoon
  6. Non Fat Dry Milk - 1 1/2 Tablespoons
  7. Bread Flour - 3 1/4 Cups
  8. Active Dry Yeast - 1 Tablespoon

I use the knead cycle on the bread machine, break the dough up into ten pieces, and allow to rise for more than 2 hours or until the size doubles.

Personally, I think you will want to experiment with the amount of water in the dough.  My flour here is a High Gluten bread flour, and it just wants more water.  All purpose flours will give you a different result.  

So since Bread is a living thing (until you cook it) your results will vary. 

Ingredients for 2 1/2 pound loaf

  1. Warm Water - 1 1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons
  2. Lemon Juice - 1 teaspoon
  3. Oil - 1/4 cup
  4. Sugar - 3 1/2 Tablespoons
  5. Salt - 2 1/2 teaspoon
  6. Non Fat Dry Milk - 2 1/2 Tablespoons
  7. Bread Flour - 5 Cups
  8. Active Dry Yeast - 4 teaspoons

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who's at the Pool, Dad? - Picture

She's still following me around.

Even with bad kidneys and being on the half-a-pill-a-day club for her thyroid, she wants to be with us.

The other day, I wandered outside for my morning inspection of the plants on the drip feed irrigation and snapped this shot.

When I got to the door to come outside, she had glued herself to the side of my leg as if to say if you're going, so am I.

Loyalty, thy name is Lettie.

She's still not eating much on her own, but accepting syringe feeding as if it were normal for a dog to have food that was warmed and piped into her mouth like a cake decorator.  Twice a day.  Got that down to a science.  In fact, it takes about 15 minutes each time, about as long as it used to take for me to get her prepared for the walk.

We're in our bonus time.  Whatever she wants, she gets.  Even if it is just to go out to the backyard and sniff the plant pots for lizards.

The trick with keeping a working breed happy is to give them a job.  They feel best when they're occupied and mentally stimulated.   In this case I'm her job.  I guess that makes me her work.  I've been called a work in progress before, but by the dog?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

You Can't Autorun USB Stick in Windows 7

When I look at my pictures on the memory chip, a helpful window will pop up asking me what to do. 

I run Windows 7 Ultimate on this laptop.  I would think that "Ultimate" means that I should be able to have things happen automatically.  I'd expect the machine to just fire up the chip's directory and then go off to make some coffee, maybe bake some bread for dinner and all will be well.

You seem to remember that this was how it happened on Windows XP, right? 

You'd put the USB Stick/Chip/whatever into the little socket in the side of the machine or your laptop and you'd get the directory-I'm-sorry-folder view in Explorer automatically.

We don't do that any more.

You can get some external programs to do that or make some deep changes "under the hood" of your computer, but we're talking about the defaults here. 

The reason is simple, viruses.  There are individuals that get their jollies out of turning your prized computer into a place that serves out spam messages for whatever purpose.  If you had that "Autorun" function working, it would look for a file called autorun.inf in the root folder of the device and happily go and run it.

I was scratching my head when I went to grab a picture to post here.  Why wasn't it giving me the option.  I turn a lot of things off but since I use that port so frequently why not.   Just give me a directory, please.  Ok, Folder.  I get it.

But no, the "Default Behavior" is done that way to keep you safe.   If you REALLY want to change things so that when you plug that chip in the drive or your DVD automatically plays, it means firing off "gpedit.msc" or digging around within your registry.  It is done this way so the "Average Computer User" doesn't "Get Into Trouble".

Just thank Microsoft this time.  Sure you're taking an extra step, but the default behavior is there to keep you safe.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bashful Vanda - Picture

Why is this a Bashful Vanda?

Have you ever had a picture you wanted to take for a month and never had just the right shot?

This was mine.  At least this time it was mine. 

I have a bunch of Orchid plants all over the yard.  This one is one of the later ones to bloom and it opened about a month ago.

I immediately wanted a picture, but never was around at the right moment.  Either it was shaded or it was night. 

Literally this is in direct sun for about 15 minutes a day.

Finally, this weekend, I found myself in the kitchen when the sun hit it just at the right angle.  Grabbing the memory chip and the camera, I trotted out back and grabbed a number of pictures from this orchid and the other plants like the Poinsettia in the background.  There are others I'll probably post here.  There's one in particular that the flowers look like butter from the back.

I don't mind the shadows in this shot, it's more honest as to show how it lives there.

I can't even move the thing.  It likes where it is.  So much in fact, the roots have welded it to the fence.   The plant is there and that's that.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How Would You Like Some Questionable Cake - Picture

This Cake is Questionable!

This Cake LIES!  It's all LIES I tell ya!

I mean here's this cake.  It doesn't even have the common decency to be a full cake! 

It's Not ROUND! 

What is with those candles?  They are QUESTION MARKS!  I mean, Come ON! Question marks?  What are they supposed to say?  Is it for a birthday?  Is it some secret how old they are?   The candles aren't even NEW!  They were *GASP!* Burned Before!!!!!

Nobody just makes a Half of a Cake!  Sheesh! Two layers and not THREE?

And look at that icing... It's NOT CHOCOLATE!!!!!   It's Commercial Vanilla Icing that's brown to LOOK like Chocolate!  On top?  Rainbow Jimmies?  I bet they are tutti fruiti too just BECAUSE!

I'm so confused *grabs fork*  What's inside?  Orange Icing in the middle?  It doesn't taste like Orange!  It's ... More Vanilla?  At least the cake itself is still Chocolate...

And oh so very fresh and tasty too. 

Ok, I'll have the rest of that slice.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Man Walks Into a Butcher Shop - Humor

Ok, so why am I thinking I want a steak for dinner?  Since it's a short joke, I'll shaddap and let you read!

A man walks into a butcher shop.

After he orders, the butcher tells him "I'll make you a bet: If you can pick up all the meat on that shelf, I'll let you have your orderfor free, and give you $10. If you can't, you'll owe me $10 and have to pay for your order. Is it a bet?"

The man pauses, thinks about it for a second, and says "No thanks."

The butcher asks "Are you not a gambling man?"

The men replies "No, I am. But in this case, the steaks are just too high."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Two Part Earrings - Humor

And Bad Joke Weekends Continue. 

Actually this was kind of cute, says something about relationships I guess.   It's a story about finding Earrings.  Oh and it's actually safe for work without my having to take out "Those Words".

So Enjoy!

Two Parter Earring

A man is at work one day when he notices that his co-worker is wearing an earring.

This man knows his co-worker to be a normally conservative fellow, and is curious about his sudden change in "fashion sense."

The man walks up to him and says, "I didn't know you were into earrings."

"Don't make such a big deal out of this, it's only an earring," he replies sheepishly.

His friend falls silent for a few minutes, but then his curiosity prods him to say, "So, how long have you been wearing one?"

"Ever since my wife found it in my truck..."

 The other one ...

A woman meets her friend.And the friend notices a cigarette in her hand.

'How long have you smoked? I had never seen you smoked before.'

'I have smoked since my husband saw the butts in my car's ashtray.'

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fairchild Gardens End of the Day Tower - Picture

Have you ever gone somewhere, found something beautiful, and couldn't tell someone else how to find it?

That's the story with this particular sculpture.

It's a rather famous one.  It's the Dale Chihuli work called "The End Of The Day Tower". 

Visiting Fairchild Tropical Gardens, you will stumble across quite a few pieces of public art.  In the case of this work, the entire piece is a collection of pieces of hand blown glass that were knitted or stacked together.   The resulting tower is mounted in a small pond with fish that were the same colors as the main parts of the work. 

The thing is that the building didn't really have a clear place to enter.  No signs saying "Hey dummy, come on in here", or something like that.   We found a door that looked plausible and walked through a couple different rooms until we found this particular display. 

Luckily, the sun was shining on the Tower and creating a display of colored light on the fish. 

So nice of a display that one of the volunteers there made it a point to have me look at it.  "You're lucky you got to see it.  This morning it wasn't sunny enough to look right".

Nothing Fishy about that!