Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Florida Code - Humor

The Florida Code

When giving directions in Florida, you must always start with the words, "take I-75, "take I-4 "or "take I-95."

If you're a snowbird or a non-working retiree, you absolutely cannot drive between the hours of 6 A.M. to 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. to 7 P.M. This is considered to be RUSH HOUR and you are not in any rush. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Freeways can only go north and south . . . Not east and west.

Tolls are a fact of life, the state has to make money, so deal with it!

I-275 ( Tampa area) will always be under construction ... that's the law and there is nothing anyone can do about it, period!

'A1A' and 'Alt. A1A' are the same road.

Traffic lights are not timed and never will be.

We measure the distance we travel in time - not miles.

If you travel more than 5-10 miles on any road in any part of Florida without seeing an orange barricade, you're lost!

If you miss your exit on I-75, I-4 or I-275, its perfectly acceptable to back up!

Every street in Florida has both a name and a number (i.e. Adamo = Rt. 60) just for the heck of it -- and also for the pleasure we get from reaction of visitors when we give them directions.

Once the light turns green, only 3 cars can go through the intersection eight more go through on yellow, and 4 more on red.

Know the difference between SunPass, Sun Fest, Sun-Sentinel and Sun Trust.

Flip flops, tank tops and baggy shorts are also known as business casual.

Your car's signal blinker means nothing.

English is our first and second language.

It is perfectly acceptable to brag about the size of your emergency generator.

We have alligators here in Florida and they WILL bite you. Don't be stupid and try to feed or pet one.

When a hurricane is headed our way, even though you have advance warning and you are told to be prepared, you're not a true Floridian unless you wait until the absolute last minute to go to Home Depot to pick up plywood or to Publix to stock up water, ice, and potato chips.

You know how to spell Okeechobee. There is an Okeechobee Lake, Town, County, Blvd, Street, and Avenue.

A true Floridian does NOT own a boat. They make friends with someone who already owns one. That way you don't have to deal with any of the headaches.

You weren't born here. If you were, you're angry that everyone else has moved here.

There's always a Walgreens across the street from a CVS on nearly every corner - with more being built every day.

When picking up a woman on South Beach, always check for an Adams apple.

It's normal to sweat when you are putting up your Christmas decorations.

There is a city called 'The Villages' where 87,000 old people live that all drive golf carts and dance in the streets. 50% of these people are swingers ; the rest just got too old to care about it.

Jupiter is a city, not a planet.

Seniors have to do their errands during the weekdays . . not weeknights or weekends . . that's for the working folks.

There are three types of dolphins: Mahi-mahi, Flipper, and also a football team.

You can't say; 'this is how we did it up north'. If you think that way, then go back up north. Just remember, I-95 and I-75 run both ways.

No matter what they decide in Tallahassee you will never, ever be able to figure out your property taxes.

Learn how to dress in layers. It will be 95 degrees outside. But inside any restaurant or business it's 65 degrees.

This would be even funnier if it weren't so true

You should add some to this,  I am sure we can think up some good ones.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bougainvillea Blossoms

These are the flowers that sold the house.

I also have a love-hate relationship with them.

Bougainvilleas.  Beautiful to look at, painful to maintain.

They have these spikes, that can be up to two inches long.  The spikes will scratch you even if you are nowhere near them.   I swear this plant will reach out and grab you and leave scratch lines on your skin.

Just watch out.

But they are also on a trellis behind the house.  It is the entire length of the Florida room as well as its height.  Say 10 by 20 feet.  If you look in the front window through the living room, you see these red, fushcia, and pink blossoms glowing at you from a distance hovering over part of the swimming pool.

Then you get closer and they bite your arms.

They don't bite Rack though.  My dog is able to walk under the plant and come out unscathed.  There's a path of cement squares under the arbor that he uses as a garden path.  They're where they are so the rain doesn't scour a gulley under my eaves.  He's small enough that he's enveloped in a world of cool shade, hot pink flowers, and a general feeling of warmth.  Or so I imagine as I see he's taken to wandering under the thing when he's outside in the sun.

In this climate they're also fairly fast growing so I'm usually armed with a pair of clippers when I am out back.   I have to assume I could make a red or pink dye out of the flowers that float on the breeze.  One day after stepping on a spine from that evil plant, I put my shoes back on.  I rarely go barefoot out back as a result.  Later that night I got ready for bed and noticed that my white socks now had a pink blob on the bottom of them.  On my foot where the blob was was a flattened remnant of one of those pink flowers.   The pink did eventually wash out of my sock but it wasn't after a couple washings.

Oh well, nobody ever looks at the bottom of my socks but me.

I thought you might want a little beauty, as well as a story.   So have a bougainvillea flower but watch for the thorns.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from Rack The Laser Dog and

Happy Thanksgiving from Rack the Laserdog, Oscar the noisy Parrot, and us here at

Can't tell you what we're doing.  It isn't a secret, it's just that this is going up on Thursday, and I wrote it at 11am on Sunday before.  Rack was whining for attention, Oscar was chattering lightly, and I was trying to get "caught up".

Here, dog, go fetch!  Nothing worse than a bored teenager that you can't hand a mop or a vacuum cleaner to and get your housework done.

At this point we've got plans for a roast beef for today, but I won't know until it happens.

So get off the computer and go spend time with your loved ones.  Have some for me!

Actually, the plans are (yes, I had to change this on Thanksgiving morning) that there's the second-to-last from Publix at Five Points Chicken Roaster that will go into the oven later today.  Along with some stuffing, cranberry jelly, and some of the cans I had left in the house this week, we're going to have a full table.  The only thing we forgot was some Celery.   Oh well!

Oh and the two pieces of cake I squirreled away will be quite nice.

So from me and mine to you and yours, enjoy your Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Purple Vandas Show Again

Oscar's close-up not withstanding, this was why I grabbed my camera this weekend.

The annual purple Vanda orchid bloom in my back yard.

The plant was one of those big box store buys.  It came in a little plastic bag with a tag that promised beauty and for most people it was promising a bit too much.  On the other hand, we have an excellent habitat for this plant.

Orchids can be painfully fussy to grow outside of the tropics or semi-tropics, but here, we put the plant in a box with some bark, connected a drip-feed irrigation line to the box and ignored it.

I fertilized it twice.  The last time was in 2012 during hurricane season.  It needed to be removed from its perch and dipped into a bucket of water with this weird blue powder mixed in and then placed back on the wall.   The problem is that the Vanda liked it so much where it was that the roots grew out of the box and onto the wall behind it.

The orchid is welded to the wall so it's not going anywhere so it won't be fertilized that way again.

We look forward to this blooming each year.  It's the second of the annual blooms.  The other orchids haven't opened yet, but who knows, they may still yet.   It's one of the benefits of living here on the quirky little island, you can grow weird plants like orchids.   Just strap them to a tree and give them water.  They like that sort of thing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oscar Really Wanted His Picture Taken

There are some things you need to know about having a parrot.

They live long lives.  I've had Oscar since 1986.

They learn a lot of subtle things.  Oscar knows that I keep a bag of Pecans in the shell on the counter in the kitchen near the preparation for my coffee and my iced tea.   He learned that if he says hello enough, I will pay attention.   Two plus two being what they are, he realized that I'm a soft touch and if he gets "cute" enough, he can nag me for those pecans in the morning.

They can be very loud.   We have a "Parrot Safe Volume" that we can play music at in the house.  Music is anything that makes a sound.   If it gets louder in the house than the Parrot Safe Volume, Oscar will accompany it.  If I want to listen to music without having that accompaniment, I use headphones.   If you have a spare pair of really good noise cancelling headphones, you will know what I mean when I say that they can be a true blessing in disguise.

Parrots are curious creatures.  All of the above is a part of why people keep them.  They really do work their way into your life in a way that few other creatures can.  When I stood up and grabbed the camera, "Hello" came from the cage.  However, armed with a few words and sound effects, Oscar knows how to get his point across with inflection just like any other person, feathered, furred, or not.  The hello is not mere parroting.  He will sound like a little teenager who wants attention by saying "Hell-LOW!".  When he wants to say goodnight, he will make a whistle like a smoke detector we had in our house in Philadelphia back in the 1990s.  A Single Pure Tone when the light goes out is enough.  He will do that when it is time for bed, and he will do it when I walk out of the door to take Rack for his morning walk before sunrise.

So I was not surprised at all when I heard that "Hell-LOW!" from the cage this morning when I grabbed the camera to go out back and grab a few choice pictures.  As I got closer to the cage, he said it again, and kept saying it as I adjusted the date forward to be correct. 

Fine, Oscar, you get your time on the internet.  The next time someone accuses me of "merely parroting" something, I will thank them.  It means I'm paying extra attention and want to make sure that I get what they are saying.

Now just press the button and take my picture, I'm ready for my close up.

Monday, November 25, 2013

If It Were A Real News Station Instead of Fox, I Would Have Worried

Mr Fearful Dog, A.K.A. Rack, our faithful black and white Mc Nab Dog has an oddball habit.

Truth be told, he's got a lot of oddball habits.  Some of them were due to my own quirks.  I will own those.

Going through my daily routine, I generally have him come in and visit.   I expect to see him wander in, park next to my low-slung Poang chair and gently invite me to pay attention to him by standing next to the right arm.  He's grown since April from being lower than the arm to being about 6 inches taller than the arm, so now I end up with a furry arm rest.

That fur not being my own, I stop what I'm doing and pay attention to him.  After all, I can always go back to whatever I was up to but a dog won't be there forever.

Most mornings, Rack will entertain himself on his mat, toss his toys around, come over and invite my attention.  You know, all normal dog stuff.  Since I'm generally up at Stupid O'Clock, I'm generally also up before you are.   The city is as quiet as a city ever gets.  At Stupid O'Clock plus 15 minutes, I've been outside walking around with him and the only things you hear are the traffic on the interstate, three miles away, and the normal "House Noises".  Here it's irrigation pumps and air conditioning compressors.

Before sunrise, your town would sound different as well, more peaceful.  This is the time of day when you can't hear the neighbor snore it's because their A/C kicked in to cool them down.   Yes, it's November, yes, we have A/C on, don't you?

In my living room that particular morning after sunrise, I had on a Trance Internet Radio station playing some "Uplifting Trance" music to keep the energy going.   That doesn't always work because that was what I used to skate to, so I end up getting a runners high while sitting in the chair.  It does tend to mask the wakening city soundscape which helps me go through my own nonsensical routine.

Then the dog left.

Rack simply dropped his toys, stood up, and marched out of the room.   I heard the door of the crate rattle followed by the thump of paws and elbows hitting the bottom of the crate.  Shaking my head and thinking that the silly furball heard a trash truck somewhere in Miami, 40 miles away, I went back to what I was doing.

Or rather I tried to.

The drone wasn't all that noticeable at first.  When the windows on the house started to rattle, I thought that's odd.  I realized it was also obnoxiously loud as there was a News Helicopter overhead.  Or rather since it was Miami's Channel 7, it was a distant approximation of something that was once a news organization.  Since it is also the local Fox Affiliate, I wasn't terribly concerned.  Not a "real" news copter, nothing to worry about since there were no "real" news copters about joining it.

I walked out to the yard and saw this blue and red beast doing lazy circles over the quirky little island.  Somewhere over near Five Points, the copter circled like a noisy buzzard that was watching over a dead carcass that resembled a journalist's career.

Complete in my security that there wasn't anything really important to worry about, I pulled some weeds before getting bored by it all and returning to my routine.  Rack was safe inside his giant plastic crate that takes up most of the free room in my master bedroom, and I laughed at the "French Farce" aspect of '"News" Corp' being in the neighborhood.

It would have been more entertaining if the Goodyear Blimp had returned.  At least Rack doesn't seem to mind that silver cigar heading by on its way North to the airpark in Pompano Beach.

So when things get overwhelming, it's nice to have a plastic box to hide from it all.  Even if it isn't real news, it can be scary to a furry little guy.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Impossibilities in the World and 9 Months Later - Humor


1) You can't count your hair.

2) You can't wash your eyes with soap.

3) You can't breathe through your nose when your tongue is out.

Put your tongue back in your mouth, you silly person.

Ten (10) Things I know about you.

1) You are reading this.

2) You are human.

3) You can't say the letter ''P'' without separating your lips.

4) You just attempted to do it.

6) You are laughing at yourself.

7) You have a smile on your face and you skipped No. 5.

8) You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.

9) You laugh at this because you are a fun loving person & everyone does it too.


John decided to go skiing with his buddy, Keith.
So they loaded up John's minivan and headed north.

After driving for a few hours, they got caught in a terrible blizzard.
So they pulled into a nearby farm and asked the attractive lady who answered the door if they could spend the night.

'I realize it's terrible weather out there and I have this huge house all to myself, but I'm recently widowed,' she explained. 'I'm afraid the neighbours will talk if I let you stay in my house.'

'Don't worry,' John said. 'We'll be happy to sleep in the barn.
And if the weather breaks, we'll be gone at first light.'
The lady agreed, and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night.

Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way.
They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing.

But about nine months later, John got an unexpected letter from an attorney.
It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow he had met on the ski weekend.

He dropped in on his friend Keith and asked, 'Keith, do you remember that good-looking widow from the farm we stayed at on our ski holiday up north about 9 months ago?'

'Yes, I do.' Said Keith.

'Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house and pay her a visit?'
'Well, um, yes!,' Keith said, a little embarrassed about being found out,'I have to admit that I did.'
'And did you happen to give her my name instead of telling her your name?'

Keith's face turned beet red and he said,
'Yeah, look, I'm sorry, buddy.
I'm afraid I did.'
'Why do you ask?'

'She just died and left me everything.'

(And you thought the ending would be different, didn't you?...
you know you smiled...
now keep that smile for the rest of the day!)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Silent But Deadly and Something for Seniors To Keep The Grey Cells Active

Silent but Deadly

A little old lady goes to the doctor and says, "Doctor I have this problem with gas, but it really doesn't bother me too much. My farts never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I've farted at least 20 times since I've been here in your office. You didn't know I was farting because they don't smell and are silent."

The doctor says, "I see, take these pills and come back to see me next week."

The next week the lady comes back. "Doctor," she says, "I don't know what the hell you gave me, but now my farts...although still silent...stink terribly."

The doctor says, "Good!!! Now that we've cleared up your sinuses, let's work on your hearing.

Something for seniors to do to keep those "aging" grey cells active!

1. Johnny 's mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. ...What was the third child 's name?

2. There is a clerk at the butcher shop, he is five feet ten inches tall and he wears size 13 sneakers....What does he weigh?

3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, ...what was the highest mountain in the world?

4. How much dirt is there in a hole ...that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?

5. What word in the English Language always spelled incorrectly?

6. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer. ....How is this possible?

7. In California , you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. ...Why not?

8. What was the President 's 1975?

9. If you were running a race, ...and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?

10. Which is correct to say,... "The yolk of the egg are white" or "The yolk of the egg is white"?

11. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field?

Here are the Answers

1. Johnny 's mother had three children. The first child was named April The second child was named May. What was the third child 's name?

Answer:Johnny of course

2. There is a clerk at the butcher shop, he is five feet ten inches tall, and he wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh?

Answer: Meat.

3. Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?

Answer: Mt. Everest; it just wasn 't discovered yet. [ You 're not very good at this are you?]

4. How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?

Answer: There is no dirt in a hole.

5. What word in the English Language is always spelled incorrectly?

Answer: Incorrectly

6. Billy was born on December 28th, yet his birthday is always in the summer. How is this possible?

Answer: Billy lives in the Southern Hemisphere

7. In California , you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why not?

Answer: You can 't take pictures with a wooden leg. You need a camera to take pictures.

8. What was the President 's Name in 1975?

Answer: Same as is it now - Barack Obama [Oh, come on ...]

9. If you were running a race, and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?

Answer: You would be in 2nd. Well, you passed the person in second place, not first.

10. Which is correct to say, "The yolk of the egg are white" or "The yolk of the egg is white"?

Answer: Neither, the yolk of the egg is yellow [Duh]

11. If a farmer has 5 haystacks in one field and 4 haystacks in the other field, how many haystacks would he have if he combined them all in another field?

Answer: One. If he combines all of his haystacks, they all become one big one.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Weird Browser Stats

There are Lies and then there are Statistics.

I'm sure we've all heard that before.  I was going through statistics on this blog.  Not really sure why, but occasionally I do check it.  Other than realizing that people in far flung parts of the US, China, The Ukraine, and others like to look at recipes, pictures from the Florida Keys, and read cute stories about cute dogs, it does help inform me as to whether I should continue this exercise of writing something each day.

Even if it is a copy and paste exercise on the weekends.   Bad Joke Saturday and Bad Joke Sunday have to get their Bad Jokes somewhere!

All statistics are approximations, your mileage may vary...

Some of the hits are obviously false, such as those from crawlers and the like.  I've been told to ignore those, and I won't be even saying who they are here because I don't want to encourage them.

Yes, it's like the misbehaving child at the family table - ignore your bots and they'll behave.

If you do look at your statistics and see something coming from a Vampire or a Zombie site, ignore it or you'll get spiked as well.  Google Analytics is correct, Blogger is not.

But within that stat page, I also get reports on what kind of technologies that are being used to look at the blog.  

Someone is using something called "NS8" to get here.  I had to follow that one up.  I mean, it's not like it's one of my Linux readers, or someone using their iPhone or Mac to surf here, I can tell what that is.  I know that when someone surfs me with Iceweasel, they're on Debian Linux since that is what I use on my Linux Machine.  Stability, thy name is Debian.  They really should use the slogan "Debian, It Just Works!".  Even on your 10 year old computer...


Not having ever heard of NS8 I looked it up.   NS8 is "most likely" a copy of the old Netscape Browser version 8.   To give you an idea, that's equivalent to Firefox 1.0.   Firefox is on version 25 at this date. 

Congrats, you are using the latest version of Firefox!  is what you should see when you click on that Firefox link.

PSA - Upgrade your software when you can.   Or some blogger will be waggling a finger at you for not doing so.

I'm looking at you Windows XP People.   You're almost as bad as I was when I got my Mac - it had OSX Leopard on it, and I immediately upgraded a month later to Snow Leopard.

My Mac Peeps will know what I'm talking about.   How's your Mavericks?  Kewl?

Immediately, a month later.   Er... well they do say that Macs have no viruses and well...

Not content to just wonder about this NS8 thing, I also got a visit from someone using something called "OS;FBSV".

Er, wha?

The best I can tell is that somehow, someone, is using their iPhone in Facebook to follow through. 

Hey, it may not matter to you, but I am a curious type.

I did after all have a person surf my blog from something called "Windows NT 6.1".  Most likely someone got bored while working on a server somewhere in a noisy server room and surfed my page.

I just hope I didn't bore them or the rest of you too much with all that.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cream Biscuits - When You Need Them in 15 Minutes

I'm  trying to use up ingredients in the fridge.  It's cluttered, and I have way too many half used containers of stuff.

I was looking for something to make with some of That Stuff (TM) when I stumbled across this recipe.  I do prefer my "usual" Gold Medal Flour Biscuit Recipe, but when it comes to that one, I end up taking the time to make butter, strain it, separate the buttermilk, then blend it all back.   That Usual Biscuit Recipe takes longer but has a punch of butter flavor that you expect out of them.   Once the butter is made, it's easy, but getting there is half the battle.

Or half the batter.

This takes all the thinking out.  No cutting in of butter chunks, no fretting over odds and ends.   It's a biscuit recipe that you can teach your kid or a Non Baker.  For my vegetarian friends, and you know who you are, it's vegetarian too.

This recipe was 15 minutes.  It took the oven longer to come up to the 500F temperature than it did for me to make the batter.  10 minutes in the oven and it was done.


  • 2 Cups Self Rising Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream


  • Preheat oven to 500F.
  • Add Flour to large mixing bowl.
  • Sprinkle sugar on top.
  • Stir the flour and sugar together evenly.
  • Create a well in the middle into which you pour your cream.
  • Mix well until smooth.
  • Scoop out the batter onto Cookie Sheet lined with Aluminium Foil - Do not use Silpat or Parchment as both will scorch or burn at 430F and 451F respectively.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

Yield - 9 or 10 biscuits.  200 calories (roughly) each at 10.

When I say it was quick and easy, it took me longer to write this article than it did to make the biscuits!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Browser Basics - Where Do I Type The Web Page?

Some of you will look at this discussion and wonder why someone would do what I'm going to describe.

I was looking at the statistics for this blog and thought I'd lend a helping hand.

Most browsers, when you start them, will put you at a search page.  Typically that is Google for Firefox and Chrome.   I think Safari drops you onto on the Mac.  I try hard to forget anything connected with Internet Explorer these days.

So you get a big helpful page with a box to type in your search query.  You typed in Ramblingmoose.  Hit enter.  It gives you a list of articles I wrote.  It should have the base web page at the top - .

You used your mouse/trackpad/trackball to move the cursor to the link and clicked on it.  

If you did all that before I put this article up on the web page, you would see the picture, minus my writing and the little yellow box.

We all start somewhere, and if you aren't told how to do something basic, you will figure it out the best you can, and repeat it until someone whispers in your ear an easier way.

That would be me.

The little yellow box is where you should be typing that address, unless you really did mean to do a search.   It is called the Address Bar, generically, although I've heard other "Marketing Friendly" terms used.

In Firefox, at least, if you type in the majority of the name, it will try to "make" the most likely URL for you.   URL is the web address like or some other website. 

So if you just type in ramblingmoose in the address bar, you may get here.  At least I just did when I tried it out on Firefox 25.0.1 on Windows 7 on this day in 2013...

Why is that important enough to warrant a blog posting? 

It saves you time.
About 10 percent of you do a search each day to get here.
I wanted to help.
That's why you came here.

Now I'll go back to finding Just The Right Font for this blog and annoy everyone with changes every couple minutes until I'm satisfied.  I just don't like Arial or Helvetica.  Bleah.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Energy and My Dog May Equal Tightly Wound Spring

A dog may be a blank slate, but that blank slate comes with a whole box of colored chalk.  Or big box of crayons.  Once you get that waxy stuff on the slate it's going to be tough to wash it off anyway, to the mixed metaphor might be just better than I first thought.


Rack is a high energy dog.  Any Herding or Working Dog breed will be.   He's also very skittish around people, except some very specific people who are on his safe list.  I'm still learning what that list is. 

When we're out, and he sniffs out some of his dog friends, he goes on alert.  As much as a block away, it is tail up, ears up, and sniffing.  Then, the tail starts to wag.  Depending on which dog it is, the tail could leave a welt on you as it's a blur of black and white energy.

We approached our friends, dog and person.  This time it was done quietly.  Marc lives around the way, and is used to us, and our energy crisis.  He will pet Rack, gently, and use quiet tones.  The result is that Rack isn't jumping all over the place like a giant spring loaded toy.  Sure, the excitement is there but it's manageable.  Marc's dog is an elderly Dalmatian named Pepper.  Pepper doesn't appreciate being climbed by an over eager puppy so she's getting wary.

The low, slow, and mellow approach is the way to go.

Dogs read your energy and body language.  After all, while they may learn a few words, to a Dog, English or any other verbal language is an arbitrary construct.  You can speak sweetly to a dog while saying obscenities and the dog will probably just wag its tail.  Conversely, if you yell at the top of your lungs "YOU ARE A GOOD DOG!!!!", the dog will rightly consider you insane and try to run for the hills.

The nearest proper hill to me is in Titusville, Florida.  That is about 200 miles away, so please don't yell things at my dog!

The second person we met on that walk did.  He didn't scream at my dog but his energy and his high squeaky "little guy" voice got Rack bouncing around.  He's got two Greyhound rescues, and I have never seen a Greyhound who was hyper.  The two dogs were reacting to the energy exchange in an interesting manner.  One was a step behind the other.  That dog seemed disinterested in my own little spring, and was walking well behind the pack.  He really seemed like he wanted to be "elsewhere".  The lead dog was a quarter step behind his master who now was starting to make sounds like a whistling tea kettle.  That dog wasn't exactly happy with the scene but was trying to make a go of it.

Once we finished with the excitement, I saw the results.   The last quarter mile walk was me correcting Rack.   He will normally walk slightly ahead, leash slack.   Not now.   My arm was being pulled due forward by a rigid leash.  That won't do.  The energy level was way too high as a result of the squeaking voice and energy.

High energy dogs can be amazing.  Without that energy and "drive" you will have a lap dog.  They won't be "driven" to do things like be sniffer dogs, rescue dogs, therapy dogs and the like.   When was the last time you saw someone walking a Shih-Tsu or a Basset Hound as a seeing-eye dog?

If you wonder why a dog acts the way he is, consider what you're showing yourself to be.   There's a reason why you have a Cheerleader at a sports event - they're trying to get the crowd "up".  That's exactly the wrong type of energy to have around a dog, whether they're in training or not.

But, hey, who am I to judge?  Some folks like crazy pent-up energy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Orchids on the Shed

It seems we have a routine here.

It's only been two hours plus a little bit after our first walk of the day.  I'm up well before the dawn, watching the skies lighten with Rack, my dog, in tow.

After I get a couple of hours of work done, I settle in to have breakfast.  I get my black and white furry visitor at the edge of the kitchen.

There seems to be a line in the sand drawn which he cannot pass.  The kitchen being Gandalf, he stands at the edge looking in at me longingly. 

He's not always looking for a handout, sometimes it's entertaining to watch people fly about in the kitchen preparing giant vats of food as if some conjurer waved their hands, cast a spell, and great amounts of curried chicken appear.

As If By Magic!

Sometimes that's true, but not always.  Usually by that time in the morning, Rack simply wants to go out to explore, yet again.   My backyard is the target. 

This time he was more insistent than usual.  He's got a very high pitched and reedy whine that comes out when he's frustrated that he's not getting his message across.  I ask him what does he want and watched as he made a bee-line for the back door. 

Making up a mug of yogurt with cranberry sauce, we walked out with the tail end of my breakfast in one hand, camera in the other.   There is always a reason to take a walk around back.  Whether it is looking over the flowers and other plants, pulling weeds or vines that threaten to enrobe the world, or simply to breathe fresh air, you can spot something interesting for a view.

November is a lot of things, but it seems that it is the month that my favorite "weeds" begin to bloom.  I have grown accustomed to Coleus and Penta and Hibiscus.  So much so that they have faded into the background as expected.  The Orchids are not like that.  They bloom only when conditions are right.  When their work is done, or conditions change, or some butterfly in the Amazon flaps its wings, the blooms will drop. 

They all have their moment in the sun, and I look forward to them.

These are the same sort of plant that I used to bring up North as a gift.  They'd never do much there other than slowly fade away.  Here you can strap an orchid to a tree in semi-shade and as long as they get enough water, they will bloom.

They enjoy being under the eaves, predictably blooming and lasting into next year.  When the weather warms in Spring, the blooms have mostly dropped.  One or two will remain on the more heat tolerant plants, but it is then that they rest.

For now, dog and man will enjoy them.  Even if I don't have yogurt to finish under the spreading sea grape tree next to the shed, there will be cause to pause.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

So, How Is Norma? - Humor


This is hilarious!!

A sweet grandmother
Telephoned St. Joseph's Hospital. She timidly asked,

"Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?"

The operator said,
"I'll be glad to help, dear. What's the name and room number of the patient?"

The grandmother in her weak, tremulous voice said, Norma Findlay, Room 302."

The operator replied,
"Let me put you on hold while I check with the nurse's station for that room."

After a few minutes, the operator returned to the phone and said,
"I have good news. Her nurse just told me that Norma is doing well. Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back normal and her Physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged tomorrow."

The grandmother said,
"Thank you. That's wonderful. I was so worried. God bless you for the good

The operator replied,
"You're more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?"

The grandmother said, "No, I'm Norma Findlay in Room 302. No one tells me a thing!"


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Betsy's Diary On A Cruise Ship - Humor


All packed for the cruise ship -- all my nicest dresses, swimsuits, short sets. Really, really exciting. Our local Red Hat chapter - The Late Bloomers decided on this "all-girls" trip. It will be my first one - and I can't wait!

Entire day at sea, beautiful. Saw whales and dolphins. Met the Captain today -- seems like a very nice man.

At the pool today. Did some shuffleboard, hit golf balls off the deck. Captain invited me to join him at his table for dinner. Felt honored and had a wonderful time. He is very attractive and attentive.

Won $800.00 in the ship's casino. Captain asked me to have dinner with him in his own cabin. Had a scrumptious meal complete with caviar and champagne. He asked me to stay the night, but I declined. Told him I could not be unfaithful to my husband.

Pool again today. Got sunburned, and I went inside to drink at piano-bar, stayed there for rest of day. Captain saw me, bought me several large drinks. Really is quite charming. Again asked me to visit his cabin for the night. Again I declined. He told me, if I did not let him have his way with me, he would sink the ship.....I was shocked.

Today I saved 2600 lives. Twice.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Can't Be The Only One Who Gave Up On The 6 O'Clock News

If a bobblehead makes noise on the TV and it isn't watched, does it still make a sound?

When I was asked about an accident that happened about a mile away, a car apparently ended up inside of a Miami Subs restaurant last night, I admitted I didn't have a clue.

We heard sirens in the distance and I just didn't realize what was going on.

I did look online about this particular story and couldn't find it which was probably for the best.  

Thinking about it though, it did drive a point.  I stopped watching TV news years ago.  Fire, Murder, Corruption, Theft, Weather, Sports, and Chirpy Close all crammed into 22 minutes plus 8 minutes of Commercials and other "important" stuff all dumbed down to a Least Common Denominator level of intelligence to entertain, and not necessarily inform.

It got too easy to find news online, to skim the headings and read those things that mattered - to me.   With a little effort you could find a way to drop in your email box any story you want, targeted to what you are actually interested in.  Something called an RSS Feed from your favorite news website takes a lot of that targeting and makes it easy.  Frankly, the amount of information that you get from that "Rich Site Summary" is generally more than your favorite bobble head will give you on some of the longer ongoing stories.

I simply find the RSS Link and save that as a bookmark.  It reads in Firefox or other browser and allows me the option to read deeper or skip with minimal effort.  Not as shiny and flashy, but functional and fast.

I already do that, and while it could be too easy to miss something because you've pigeon holed yourself by reading only those stories that are interesting to you, it's a lot more effective.   The serendipity of stumbling across a story that may be out of your normal scope is a wonderful thing, but a bit ineffective use of time.

TV has long become either the First or Second Screen in most people's lives.  First World Problems aside, I'm lost without a laptop when I'm watching a show.  Easy enough to look up a reference.   Since I always watch TV on a digital recorder, I skip through commercials, pause at random points, and surf while doing other things. 

Broadcast news isn't one of those habits I picked up again.  Easy enough to reduce a news program on TV to less than 15 minutes.   Sports is irrelevant to me as well as other specific stories.  For that matter, a DVR would be required for news so I could skip through the fluff pieces and thinly veiled commercials that pass for information.

I tried it after I moved here to South Florida.  I had accidentally recorded the hour of news broadcast and found myself watching one story.  It was forgettable, but before long they moved onto some detailed explanation of the opening of a business in another county and my thumb started hitting the skip button.  I also found myself screaming at the TV in frustration because it wasn't really all that "Fair and Balanced" local news, it was pretty painfully tilted to their one closed way of thinking.

Independent news went out with the Fairness Doctrine and isn't coming back soon since it isn't profitable.

I did turn on RSS on this blog.  I know a few people do read it that way since the statistics I see show it.  I guess I'm "Eating My Own Dogfood" by following a philosophy that I tend to live by myself. 

Most major news organizations allow you to read their news that way. 

NPR has a large collection of RSS Feeds.
BBC does as well although you will have to use a separate feed for each topic.
NASA lets you get caught up on their field of Space Exploration in depth if you require.
MSNBC has them on their various pages as well.

And the local papers have them available.

It all makes it a lot easier to get the news you need and not be force-fed by someone else's interests.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Facebook Forced You To Change Your Password? Blame Adobe

Actually, blame yourself according to these Security Guys.

You see most of us have a habit of using the same password in multiple places.   I've done it, especially with Job sites.  There just isn't a reason to use a different password for a site that is pretty much a site you won't visit again, or if you lose your sign on won't really effect you.

Shopping is a very different matter.   If you are using the same password in one store as the next, you're potentially letting yourself in for a lot of financial hardship.

Believe it or not, I actually agree with Facebook because all that blather I just gave you is why they locked you out.

I have a friend who complained about being locked out this morning from Facebook.  Then I remembered that this was the story about Adobe.   You see, Adobe got hacked.   The passwords and user names got passed around the internet and are being used to hack other accounts.   If you used one of those general passwords on Adobe, you really should consider your security.

I mean it's not like you're applying for a job there, are you?

The problem with that is that you end up having a list somewhere with website names and passwords written down on them.  Either done on a piece of paper stuck to the bottom of the keyboard, or on a computer file somewhere.

Yes, people do stick their passwords on the bottom of keyboards.  It was the first place I would check when I had someone stuck not able to get in to the computer that morning.  

Mine was on a PDA, remember them?  I had an electronic file that had the password hints on them.  

Now, if you're home there are better places to hide those needed files.  A small chip can go lots of places, after all you can fit 128 GB on something the size of a postage stamp.

So give a thought to how many places you use your favorite password.   Might be a good idea to start changing them.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Superman Arrested

I'm still chuckling a juvenile little chuckle about this story.

Sometimes the BBC comes through, especially in their Just The Facts presentation of things.

You see, there is this guy.  Grew up in Indonesia, lives in Singapore.

Apparently the guy's parents are a bit "playful" with names.   His story was viral a while back, originally reported on Gizmodo.  Yep, you know him as Superman.  Or really "Batman bin Superman".

Strictly speaking, that "bin" is "Son Of" so it's Batman, Son of Superman. 

Technically that doesn't conform to the whole Marvel Universe or who ever owns the trademark.  Not that trademarks are that important in some parts of the world.

It's not actually "Superman" but "Suparman" according to the Singapore authorities.   Apparently someone who may not speak English can't exactly spell it, so we'll forgive them. 

Anyway, our little chum, sorry, that's Robin... Anyway, Our Friend Batman decided to get sticky fingers and steal some cash from a store. 

That wasn't enough, he did it again.  Same store.  

Criminals always return to the scene of a crime?

He also pleaded guilty to Heroin consumption, so not only is he a bad criminal, he's into drugs which is bad.

Mmmkay?  Drugs are bad, Mmmkay.

I guess that having Internet Fame isn't the same as real fame.  You generally don't have money to back it up.


So I guess the moral of the story is not to name your children after a superhero unless you want people to watch them.  They may just knock over a store.


Silly Superman.  Crime is bad.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yogurt, The First Real Job, and NPR - Recipe

I was just past the Ramen Noodle and Cinder Block Bookshelf Stage of life.   Fresh out of University.  Money is never exactly flush at that point and you make adjustments.  I remember my first apartment being chock full of hand me down furniture and rather empty.

At work I was in a conversation, all those years ago.  Sue was a somewhat counter cultural person in my eyes.  Back then I never considered that people could make food for entertainment as well as hold down a job.  I was bemoaning the price of certain food and that I couldn't fathom how "they" could charge as much as "they" would at the supermarket for staples let alone luxuries.

This what I considered yogurt.  It wasn't "pudding" and back then it wasn't as common as it is today.  Dessert food for me in my suburban raised post-college mindset.

Clearly I needed an education.

Sue gave me one.   She said "So why don't you make the stuff, it's easy!".

She rattled off the instructions and I picked up what I needed to make it all work.  Work, it did!  Came out thick and creamy and tart.  Sue was right, it was easy.

She set me on my path of making oddball foods that most people don't consider making in their own kitchens to this day.  Now people think nothing of stopping off at the supermarket to get a pre-roasted chicken for dinner and the oven has been cold since 2009.


I continued making Yogurt for the next 10 or so years until tastes changed and money wasn't quite as tight.  The process became a dusty memory and getting good Greek Yogurt was something as easy as hitting the dairy case at the big box store.

I still buy the stuff as a treat, but not as frequently.  It became an ingredient that you buy.   Money is tight again since Consulting isn't exactly the best way to make your living.  I'd much rather be a Project Manager or IT Director with an "Office with a door" as they say in the Pentagon.

Nonetheless, the conversation came flowing back to me when I was looking at NPR's web feed the other day.  The title was "Yes, it's worth it to make your own yogurt".

You see, it's one of those things that is all about the process.   Yogurt is just two ingredients.  Milk and Culture.  Culture is just some yogurt that has active cultures in it and frankly any yogurt will do.

Just look for "Active Cultures" in it. 

"Active Cultures" are what wine makers call "Varietal".  Different Yogurts will taste different depending on the varieties of cultures added as well as the various milks used - and then there's the "fruit on the bottom".

I had some leftover Greek Yogurt from making a chicken dish the other day and thought why not.

  • Sterilize the jars.   Bring everything up to 180F.  Boiled water will help but remember to allow the jars to cool so they don't crack when you add milk.  I boiled the water in the jar and in the microwave.
  • To the sterilized jars, add 1 pint of 2% milk.  Whole will work as well, and I had as good results with Skim.
  • Heat in microwave until the milk reaches 180F.  That will kill the nasties.
  • Allow milk to cool to between 105F and 110F.  Roughly 40C.
  • Add to milk 1 ounce of culture.
  • Stir until the culture has mixed smoothly.
  • Cover the top of the mix with a cloth or loosely with a lid.
  • Allow the yogurt to "brew" for at least 12 hours.  The longer it brews, the more complex and tart it will taste.  This latest batch went for 24 hours and was wonderful.
  • Chill for 3 hours before serving.

It's a lot of waiting around.  My yogurt came out like a milkshake this weekend.   I added 2 parts yogurt to 1 part cranberry sauce leftover from last thanksgiving for a sweet and tart treat at breakfast.

Yes, it is November and Yes, I am trying to use that stuff up!

So here it is many years later and that one offhand comment is still paying off.  You never know how you will effect others, do you?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rack Causes Trouble, Ellie Doesn't Speak Husky

When you have an overeager Puppy, and an middle-aged former shut-in dog, sometimes the signals get crossed.

Rack's Pack was out that night, wandering around on our route.  We're forced into a few specific routes because Rack doesn't handle the noises as well as he will in the future.  When I take him out on The Drive where his nemesis the evil 50 Bus lives, he'll begin to tow me down the sidewalk as fast as he can to get us out of there.

That's not the best, so we're varying the route to stay off The Drive as much as we can.

Back in my neighborhood, only a block or three away, we're heading back to the house.

Rack is out front, as usual.  I'm trying to convince him that his place is next to me and not stretching his legs and my arms at the same time, but since he needs as much confidence as we can get him, this training will be a bit less intense and I will have to let him get away with murder.

We three notice that he's perked.   Ears are up, and he is acting like a friend is approaching.  I don't see anything until they come out from under the big Gumbo Limbo on the dark corner.   It's Kaya and Cricket and Cricket's friend.  They're coming home from a night at the bars.  We must have a dog friendly bar somewhere in town, it doesn't surprise me.  This is Florida and I've heard enough stories of Hemingway Cats in Key West until I'm coughing up furballs.

They are about 50 feet away and Rack is already leaping in air.  There are Parkour acts that aren't as springy as my dog is.  He will bounce until I reel him in.

The ladies and the husky approach and I notice that Ellie, Bill's Mixed Breed, has just stepped aside.  It's probably too intense for her and her middle-aged suburban dog sensibilities.   Rack is running around doing The Play Stance on his front paws.  Kaya is the Momma Dog of the neighborhood.  She doesn't have puppies, but she's a good trainer for one.   Kaya has been known to give out Puppy Slaps with her one paw to calm down my errant furry spring when he gets out of control.

Ellie is still watching from the side.

There was a piece of pine bark mulch that caught Kaya's attention, and she was trying to chew on it like a toy.  Pine Bark Mulch is not the best thing to chew on, so Cricket would get it from her and move it out of range.   With the dynamics of three dogs, and all the movement, the piece of bark kept going back into the reach of Kaya's mouth.

Things being what they were, Kaya began to guard it while telling Rack to back off by making perfectly clear grumbling noises.  To a Husky it made sense.  To a McNab who was pretending to be a bobble-head and a spring, it was something to be ignored.

Ellie tried to join in on the sniff fest and the general fun, but wasn't really sure.

You see, Ellie really didn't speak Husky.

Each time Kaya would grumble, Ellie would growl.  Never mind that Ellie was about 1/2 the size of Kaya, she didn't like what this big white Husky Girl was saying.  This was a perfectly clear conversation in the language of Dog.

I was watching this whole conversation and noticed the interplay between the three.  Keeping Rack's leash tight, I mentioned to Bill that he should watch what Ellie was saying - she was unsure of what was up.

It was at this point where the two females did what females do everywhere - they got loud.  Rack backed up immediately, Ellie and Kaya were barking outright at each other, and the party needed to be broken up.

Nobody got nipped, it was very clear what was going on.

Ellie was protecting her pack as best as a Beta Dog could.  She considers Rack "more Alpha" than she is, even if Rack is a paper tiger.  Rack was acting like a black and white goofball who was just bouncing around being a 14 month old puppy.  He precipitated matters by annoying Kaya who just wanted to chew on the mulch.

I explained all of this to our pack and to the ladies and called it a good learning experience for all.

The training will continue.  Kaya is fine.  She's doing what a well mannered pack animal would do.

Our little pack is still gelling together.   Ellie is protective of we three, plus Rack.  Rack is mellowing.  He's down to 11 on the volume control, which is down from about a 15.  Puppy energy being what it is at his age, he won't be this nutty forever. 

We will guide them all to be perfect citizens.  Three miles a day exposure to all sorts of urban realities certainly has helped us all.  The dogs are getting better mannered and even my weight is down a couple pounds - who couldn't use that?

Sunday, November 10, 2013


In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Louisiana State University .

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. 
The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully. 

He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. 

The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. 

Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. 

Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away. 

Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. 

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. 

Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. 
He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. 
The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly. 

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Talking Dog

Talking Dog

A man walks into a bar with a dog under his arm. The bartender, of course, says, "You can't bring the dog in here!"

The man replies, "But he can talk. I'll prove it. Watch."

He turns to the dog and says, "What's on a tree?"

"Bark! Bark!"

"What does sandpaper feel like?"

"Rough! Rough!"

"And, who is the greatest baseball player ever?"

"Ruth! Ruth!"

The bartender grabs them both and throws them out into the street. As they're picking themselves up, the man turns to the dog and says, "What do you suppose that was all about?"

"No idea," the dog replies. "Maybe I should have said Ty Cobb."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dealing with Facebook Annoyances Using Adblock Plus

Audience is either Firefox Users or Chrome Users.

Facebook is the website you love to hate.

Teens are leaving it, adults can be addicted as a time sink, marketers think they can buy the world's information at a song.

You can tame the beast some. 

Lately Facebook has made some changes to the way they present information.  It's all about getting you to opt into more things - you know, to "Like" them.   That helps them build a profile about you.   Since you tend to give up that information freely, it's pretty valuable.

But lately it got to be a bit much.  Since I manage a number of websites, and a number of social media presences online, I have to be on Facebook - all day.

First thing is you really need a good ad blocker.   The reason is that those ad services may be entertaining but they are watching what you do everywhere.  You may not have a problem with it, but I do.

I went to Firefox years ago and installed an adblocker.  The latest iteration of it is called "Adblock Edge".  It will block both intrusive and non-intrusive advertising.   The distinction between that and "Adblock Plus" is that Adblock Plus has been paid by Google and perhaps others to not block their text ads.  That raises the question of what else are they not telling you.  Supposedly Adblock Plus is making the decision as to whether something is acceptable, and I'm not comfortable with that.

  • Simple, get Adblock Edge instead.  Adblock Edge will allow you, once you learn how to use the thing, to block any advert as well as things like frames and those reprehensible "Fancybox" and "Lightbox" things that seem to float over a web page.

I'll let you look into that whole learning process.   It's best that you look into it yourself, but the default settings on Adblock Edge are pretty good to begin with.  The simplest explanation is that you can right click on an ad, Select "Adblock Plus: Block Image" and tailor what you see.

The next step is to import something into Adblock Edge that works with Facebook itself.   There's a big long list of things that they added that annoy me, as well as clutter their interface.  Frankly I don't have time for most of it, but a long list of that stuff can be found in this article. 

Those annoyances are the "You May Like" or the "You May Know" genre of items.  They got to the point where they were more than half of what I would see on Facebook.   So when I saw the article, I followed the simple instructions:

  • First Surf this page.  It gives you a graphical representation of things you don't want to see.

  • Second, select the link you want.  I selected the Block All in the first column but that may be a bit too much.  You can see the graphic and select the one you want by clicking on the green "+ add" button.

  • Third, add the rules to your Adblocker.  When you click on the "+ add" button, it will pop up the Adblock dialogue box for "Add Adblock Plus Filter Subscription".  Click on the button to "Add Subscription".

You're done.  Facebook will be less cluttered - until they break that by changing things.

You can always hide those people or businesses by unfriending or unliking them, but that is a bit of a Nuclear Option.   This keeps the friends but loses the "chaff".

It just got too hectic, so thankfully Technology came to the rescue.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

You Either Have Birds or You Have Music

When the weather broke, the windows opened.  All that fresh air blowing things from North to South in the house also brought in with it the sounds of the city.  On a quiet night, not that we get too many of those, I can hear traffic from the highways at least a mile away.  

All part of living in the city.

I've grown used to that, and accounting for it when I've got on my music.  If it gets too loud, I have mom standing over my shoulder screaming at me to turn it down.

Mom in this case is a parrot.  My Orange Wing Amazon, Oscar.

A couple weekends back, I set him out on the front porch and let him chatter with the feral parrot flocks we get here.  He ducked and covered when one of the hawks got a bit too close, but for the most part he enjoyed the change of pace.

So did we.   I was able to fill the room with some music I really wanted to experience.  Headphones off, speakers turned up more than Oscar would allow.

He gets to visit the Ring Necks and the feral birds, I get to play Beethoven, Armin van Buuren, and Earth Wind and Fire.

Early in that morning, it was cold.  70F, that's 21C for the Metrically Endowed.  Yeah, it's Florida and we actually look forward to those first mornings before the sun is fully up and the temps dip down below room temp.  Saves money and wakes up everyone.

We threw open the windows.

I think that was a mistake.  It wasn't even 6AM when Oscar started chattering at Boogie Wonderland played on the radio at low volume in the kitchen.  I don't think it was the Emotions and Phillip Bailey that he was singing with.  I think it was the Peterbilts and Kenworths on I95 on the other end of town coupled with the rest of the waking world.

I shrugged and got him to quiet down.   There is a big blue throw blanket that I keep on hand to cover the cage.  All I have to do is show it to him and ask him if he wants some time out.  So much for running any loud appliances, I lowered the volume on everything in the house, vowed to wait until after 7AM to roast my coffee, and let Oscar have his way.

He likes the music just like I do but I really don't want his accompaniment, and I'm sure the rest of the sleeping island doesn't either. 

The music got paused for a later time.

I had to bring him in shortly thereafter anyway.  As the city woke up, the trucks started moving around and the morning gardeners moved into position.  A herd of migratory lawnmowers began to fire up and feed on the St. Augustine Grass and errant Hibiscus that needed to be trimmed.

Life in the suburbs can be a loud place for a small green bird.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

No Bake Graham Cracker Crust and Pistachio Pie Recipe

You are looking at practically the whole recipe right there in one picture.

This is what happens when someone who knows just a little bit about cooking gets creative in the kitchen to relieve boredom. 

Since it was so easy, I'd put this under the heading "Bachelor Chow" or "Things to do with your kid".

Pie Crusts are supposed to be simple.  Putting it all together can be a chore, but this one wasn't. 

The entire pie that you see in the second picture fell together in about 10 minutes, and that was long because I had to let the dog back into the house.


  • 1 Graham Cracker - sheet, four little cookies
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Butter

That's for each bowl.  Double to make enough for two.


  • Crumble your Graham Cracker until it is an even crumb to your preference.  Putting the cracker in a plastic bag will make this step easier.
  • Pour Graham Cracker Crumbs in Bowl.
  • Add Sugar.
  • Put Butter on top and microwave for 30 to 40 seconds or until melted.
  • Mix the ingredients while still warm until the butter and sugar has dissolved.
  • The result will be a lumpy paste that you can form in the bottom of a small bowl with a teaspoon.

You can give the bowl another blast in the microwave if you prefer, but I just fill with the pie filling or pudding.

Filling - get a box of Pistachio Royal Instant Sugar Free Pudding to have what I had.   Otherwise fill with your favorite instant no bake pudding.  Use 1 1/2 cups milk instead of the normal 2. 

I recommend Royal Instant Sugar Free instead of Jello because the flavor is so much better.  One box of pudding will fill two bowls/pies.

As you see in this picture, the total damage was 230 calories. It's less than some chocolate bars, and not as much sugar if you're watching your weight.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One Bright Roadside Bloom

I think I needed a little brightness in my week.

The weather here this week has been quite strange.  It went from unseasonably warm last week, even peaking at 90 when the temps should be more mid 80s.

Yes, I'm in South Florida, I expect that.

Then you folks Up There sent us a front.  I watched it truck its way across the Deep South, then down America's Wang, The State Of Florida.

Homer Simpson broke me, I've been hearing him say that Florida is America's Wang for years now in my head. 

Once it left the redneck belt, that deep stripe of red on the radar hit us as a weak couple moments of showers.   Now it's in the third day of grey and wind.  Not that I'm complaining, it's a couple degrees cooler, Windows Open weather, and the breezes are welcome.

Other than it has picked up Fort Lauderdale Beach, and I suspect a bit of the Bahamas, and deposited them on my Jeep.  I'd wash it but it just seems a bit futile.

Since it's Trash Day, I dealt with the Steel Grey clouds and the trees leaning 20 degrees to the West by going outside and putting the big blue can upright yet again, then compulsively pulling weeds for a couple handfuls before coming in and getting back to work.  Grey and green with scattered flowers is the weather forecast. 

So after pulling weeds that spread over my garden, I thought a flower was necessary.   This one in the picture is trying to climb itself next to a pole around the corner.  There was a house there that one day was knocked down in the housing bubble.  The former owners most likely planted it for an added splash of color in days gone by. 

Hopefully the plans to build a four-plex will fail and someone will once again put a single family home there.  These future new people can take over the vine that catches my eye each time I walk past the now empty yard that now serves for an entry to the water so my neighbors can go down and try to catch fish.

There's still a little Mayberry left on my quirky little flowery island.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ellie and Rack's First Play Date

For a while now, I have been walking with a pack.   A small pack of three people, two dogs. 

Across the street in one of the duplexes live Lisa and her son Bill.  They have a "middle aged" dog Ellie.  Ellie is a mixed breed rescue who was an owner surrender that the owner grew too old to take care of.  She got placed with them without the trauma of going through the shelters and has grown to be a good guard dog.

With apartment living what it is, especially in an urban or suburban environment, Ellie does not get a lot of time to just "be".  She doesn't have a place that she can get out and run around loose and sniff the palm trees, water the hibiscus, crop the grass... you know, normal "dog" stuff.  While dogs can do that on a leash, there's something more rewarding to just cut loose and be yourself. 

Think about how you feel when 5PM Friday comes along and you will understand Ellie well.

The other day, Bill marched over to the house and asked a favor.  "Can I let Ellie loose in the backyard?  Maybe let Rack out and they can go run around off leash for a while!".

Sure!  Sounds fun!

Bill almost immediately got Ellie.  I had just finished a job app to a local jurisdiction here and was looking for something to clear my head so this would be just the thing.

Ellie tried to go in our front door, so patterned by being indoors that Bill had to drag her over to the gate to the pool equipment and the yard beyond.

At that time, semi freedom loomed.

Ellie got to the backyard and acted confused.  She didn't really know what to do with this "Space".  She was wandering over to the back door looking to be let in just as I got there to let Rack out and had to convince Ellie that no, you are allowed to Just Be A Dog for as long as you need to so stay out in the South Florida Sun for a while.

My standing in the way of the door nudged Ellie out of the way, and my own black and white dart was right behind.  Rack charged through the now empty door and then it began to click.

Rack is now 14 months old and still very much a puppy.  Whenever he sees Ellie, first he tries to convince her to Play! then he calms down and bounces around the place.  The only place Rack is quiet is inside the house. 

Ellie started wandering around with Rack trying to convince her to play when it all came to pass.

The fawn colored Ellie started to run around the yard, sometimes with Rack in front and other times behind.  It only took one or two times of Rack doing the "Let's Play" stance in front of her for Ellie to shake off some of the mental solitary confinement dust and learn once again to play. 

Watch out low hanging lemons, there was about 100 pounds of two dogs running around the pool at full speed acting goofy for the first time in a very long time.  Weaving between the fruit trees in pots, behind the pool, around the big palm tree "twenty-leven" times and finally discovering the pool.

They didn't actually jump in, that would be too much to try first time out.  Rack doesn't yet understand that pools can be fun and has only been in the water once.  He's afraid of his own shadow mostly, and since Ellie didn't have a clue what the pool was used for, she gave it wide berth.

While this unleashed excitement was going on, the three humans just stood around gap jawed and amused.  It's best to stand back and let the dogs have their freedom.  You just don't get to borrow a yard all that often and when it happens, make use of it.

Sure there are dog parks in the area.  Wilton Manors is small but there are two within a mile of me, and another one just over the line in Fort Lauderdale.  But dog parks can be constrained situations and usually you have to be careful of what lurks there.  I'd just rather keep my size 11 boots clean thank you. 

I guess we're lucky to have seen it.  Ellie literally was piecing it all together as it happened.   Rack is used to my little 50 by 150 slice of the tropics, so it's nothing special for him, but for an apartment dweller it is important to just get out and crop the grass under the bougainvillea once in a while for fun.

So much fun that they didn't even get to use Rack's favorite spot, in the sun, under the big palm tree, stretched out in the grass and soaking it all in.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Once A Year Time Change Story

If you're like me, you were up at Stupid O'Clock anyway.

I tried.  Really I did.  I stayed up to Midnight last night.  Playing FreeCiv on my beater laptop I looked at the clock that said 11:58 and turned off the Soca music stream from London or Toronto or some other city chock full of the "Caribbean Diaspora" and their culture, pulled up the covers and promised myself a good long "lie-in" today.

When the irrigation pumps kicked in, I tried sleeping through it, but that just didn't work.

It was 5AM.

Time to start the morning ritual on a Sunday Morning.

Rack wasn't really into getting up either, but he did curl up neatly next to me as I put the collar and harness on him and walked him out for his breakfast bowl.

As I waited for him to finish eating, I set clocks.   More like, he'd stop eating because I would set clocks.

The internet radios, atomic clocks, and cell phones would all take care of themselves.  Quartz clocks were easy, just bump the thing ahead an hour.

Mom's Clock, a clock I picked up in the mid 1980s in a flea market in Pennsylvania as a holiday gift was tough.  It's a 31 day wind up that should be stopped in order to let the world catch up to it.  There's a kitchen timer sitting next to it that is counting that hour down so I had better finish my coffee in time.  I have a feeling I may need a second mug.

The sun isn't yet up.  It's not even awake yet.  The windows are open on the house, it's a cold morning at 69F, but the breezes are already cooling me under the ceiling fan that's turned off.

It happens every time change.  The birds outside are trilling out their morning song as it floats in on the breezes.  The pets aren't going to pay attention to Mankind's Folly of artificially setting clocks twice a year.  They'll wake up in their own time.  My own body does the same.  I'll eventually adjust to this induced jet lag.

Whether we adjust the clocks or not.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

No Dogs Allowed

No Dogs Allowed

A man goes into a bar with his dog. He goes up to the bar and asks for a drink.

The bartender says "You can't bring that dog in here!" The guy, without missing a beat, says "This is my seeing-eye dog."

"Oh man,” the bartender says, "I'm sorry, here, the first one's on me." The man takes his drink and goes to a table near the door.

Another guy walks into the bar with a Chihuahua. The first guys sees him, stops him and says "You can't bring that dog in here unless you tell him it's a seeing-eye dog."

The second man graciously thanks the first man and continues to the bar. He asks for a drink. The bartender says "Hey, you can't bring that dog in here!"

The second man replies "This is my seeing-eye dog." The bartender says, "No, I don't think so. They do not have Chihuahuas as seeing-eye dogs."

The man pauses for a half-second and replies "What??! They gave me a Chihuahua??!"

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Tale of Two Wicked Manors Halloween Parties in Wilton Manors

Wicked Manors happens each Halloween.  It has for the last couple years and it's becoming one massive party.  I hear it's the only outdoor street party on Halloween night in the three South Florida counties.

It's highly successful turning Wilton Drive into a long strip of people of all ages going out to see the costumes, dance in the street to (loud) music, enjoy costume contests, and street food.

Massive comes to mind.  It's going to get larger, it's certainly got critical mass at this point.

I was out wandering around at the peak of it last night.   There were so many people moving round in circles in various costumes that I simply couldn't take it in.   I was told that there were groups of neighbors waving at me to say hi but frankly if your costume is so good that I don't know who you are, I'm going to be a bit confused if the fiftieth Zombie I saw walking past insists that I should know them.

Sorry, I really don't and now that the Halloween festivities are done, so are the Zombie things.   Zombies, the overdone Halloween trend of 2013.  Lets hope that they end up on the pile with the Reno 911 Sheriff Dangle costumes.

Yes, Zombies, I will silently judge you.   There just were too many of them along with the Man As A Pregnant Nun costume and the Woman As A Sexy Nurse, although the Sexy Nurses were cute.

As wild as Wilton Drive was last night I was not surprised when I crossed the Berlin Wall into our own version of Communist East Berlin and an empty parking lot. 

Adjacent to the Drive is the Shoppes of Wilton Manors.  Home to many businesses, it's usually the heart of the action here on any given Thursday night with drink specials and party goers galore.   Earlier this year a fence went up around the parking lot limiting ingress and egress.  That's in and out to you and me.   You could get in one of four "approved" entry points.  Just don't park there and go visit the rest of the city or you'll get towed.

The party goers decided it wasn't worth the effort.   At 8:30 PM, there were so many people on Wilton Drive that I had to walk sideways through clutches of people.   At 8:31 PM, I stepped through the throng into the parking lot at the Shoppes.  

Cue the sound of Crickets.

The eastern half of the parking lot was half full of cars, and about 1/2 of the normal amount at that time of a Thursday night.  If you could get there you could park.  The western half of the parking lot in front of Java Boys coffee shop had tables that were happily full of patrons.   Step past the tables... it was easy to find a way to zip across an empty parking lot.  Get in front of Alibi and there was a clutch of people there, but about a quarter as many as in the past.

The result?   Wall 1, Patrons 0.

Great way to do businesses, build a wall to keep people out.  Someone forgot that if you make it difficult for people to get to you they won't bother.

But hey, the party was a success.  My feet still ache from all of the walking and I'm looking forward to doing it again.   I will have to leave the Doctor's outfit in the closet next year.  My one neighbor said "I see you have your scrubs on AGAIN!". 

But they're COMFORTABLE... Ok, next year a Pirate.  That lab coat was a bit warm in the 80F heat.