Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Now Homeland Security Suggests You Stop Using Internet Explorer Especially With Windows XP

You know things are getting dicey when the Department of Homeland Security gets involved.

Personally I never liked Internet Explorer.   It's the browser that is baked into every version of Microsoft Windows out there since Windows 95.   The problem is that it's a single point of failure.   If there's a deep problem with the browser, your whole computer is at risk.   Slowdowns caused by Internet Explorer are common, and in my own experience it runs like a "Lead Sled".

I try to use another browser wherever possible.

Now a little more tech jargon.  You may have read about some shadowy problems.  A "Zero Day" or "0-Day" attack.   Simply put, it is an attack at that low level of your software.  You won't even know that you "got hit" and will be added to a hacker's portfolio.

Every version of Internet Explorer that is in use since version 2 is involved in this mess.   No matter what version of Windows you are using, you are at risk.  Since they aren't updating that old software, you really should have upgraded that old copy of Windows 95 well before now.

There is a fix from Microsoft, and you can now get it in Windows Update, and it didn't even whine at me to restart Windows 8.1.  Until you do there are a few things to consider.

First, get a second browser.   I prefer Firefox, others choose Chrome, still more choose Safari, and there is always Opera.   Pick one and use it.  It is your choice!

Second, if you are on Windows XP, you need to upgrade, Now.  Windows XP will not be fixed at this point.  Microsoft may go back on its word, but you are at this point vulnerable.

Third there is another wrinkle to this mess - Flash.  It's the most common way most people look at those cute cat videos and the video that I embedded below about this bug.  It has its own Zero Day exploit and needs to be upgraded to version 13. This Flash Bug is also a problem for Mac OSX and Linux, so I will have a busy day upgrading things around the house.  Basically everyone gets hit by this one no matter what computer you have!

With Windows7 and Firefox, you can check by following these steps:

  1. Start Firefox.
  2. Follow this link to the Plug In Checker.  It will open in a new page or browser window.
  3. Any plugins that you run that are out of date will show up with a red button on the right that says "Update Now" - click that button.
  4. It will open another page for Flash.  
  5. Click the check box to refuse the offer of McAfee Security Scan Plus since you just do NOT need that software.
  6. Click the Yellow Install Now Button.
  7. It will open another page, wait a bit, then ask you to save a program.
  8. When your download is complete, run the installer to update.  Flash does not do this behind the scenes.  You will find it in your downloads directory and you will have to run it separately.  The program it downloaded was called "install_flashplayer13x32_mssd_aaa_aih.exe" but it will change through time and versions.
  9. It will ask you if you want to install it, and personally I tell it to tell me to upgrade instead of doing it automatically.   Personal preference.
  10. When you get the green check and the "Installation Complete" message, you can click Finish.
  11. It will then bring up a message saying that you're done and ask you if you want to get this fantastic deal from someone who I can't see because my ad blocker has blocked it.   Shoo, Adobe, I don't want your deals!
Yeah, 11 steps but it goes quickly.

Microsoft has a fix out now for Internet Explorer, but you really do need to get a different browser.   One that supports ad blocking since they're also a vector for spyware and viruses.

The video from USA Today is at this link if you want to see if your Flash has been updated.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Crock Pot Curried Chicken Recipe

I was getting static about the chicken I had thawed.  Someone had had quite enough chicken lately and wanted nothing to do with my usual recipes.

No Caribbean Jerked Chicken?
No Barbecue Chicken?
No Grilled Chicken?

*Sigh* Ok, I'll figure something out.

With the food that came into the house from all angles, plus the Manwich we made, the Chicken sat in the refrigerator one too many days.

I had to cook it, this was too much to waste and it was from a really good supplier.

I woke up that morning thinking I should just get the crock pot.  Rack, my dog, was hovering around his bowl and the crock pot caught my eye, just two shelves above it.

I threw this together in about 10 minutes, everything but the chicken took me all of about 3 minutes.   I was able to get my coffee done in the interim.

If you're not into Chicken and are one of my Vegetarian friends, and you know who you are, this can easily be made with Tofu, Smoked Tofu, Quorn, or a suitable substitute.

I will say that when I had it for lunch instead of dinner, it was excellent.  So much so that I brought a bowl over to the neighbors and I don't think it lasted past the time it took me to walk across the street!  Seeing that this was a "Mild Curry", the next time I do make this, I will double the curry powder to two tablespoons - personal preference.  One Tablespoon is a good first try for most.

Now, while it looks like "ABC Food", you know Already Been Chewed?, it tasted great!

The ingredients are:

For the first step
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Curry Powder - or to taste.  1 Tablespoon is mild or just "Savory".
  • A dusting or pinch of garlic powder to taste.
  • A dusting or pinch of "Chicken Seasoning" to taste.
  • Dehydrated Onion Flakes to taste (Optional)
  • 2 to 3 Pounds Chicken chunks 

For the Second Step:
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1 Can Kernel Corn

For when you unplug your crock pot and are just about ready to serve:
  • 1 Can String Beans

Why do I make it complicated by breaking it into three steps?   Simple, I like crunchy vegetables.  String beans in the can turn into mush if you cook them too long, and every veg I have ever found in a can was precooked.

Yes, you can eat kernel corn uncooked out of the can in an emergency.   Or so I have been told.   Same with Green Beans... and of course your mileage may vary so read your can first.

The Process:

To your Crock Pot, add the following ingredients in order:
  • Cream of Chicken Soup, Water, Curry Powder, Garlic Powder, Chicken Seasoning, Onion Flakes.
  • Stir the ingredients up until you get a good even mix.
  • Add the chicken chunks and mix again to coat everything.

Plug in your crock pot and turn it on for low at the short time setting.  Mine has a setting for 8 hours and I was finished early.

Chicken is cooked at 165F according to the USDA.  I found that my chunks were cooked after 4 hours to 180F, but your time will vary depending on the wattage of your crock pot.   Check the temperature of your chunks with an instant read thermometer at 3 1/2 hours and every 15 to 30 minutes or so after.  Or if you trust your crock pot... don't!  Personally I hate overcooked chicken so I'm glad I did check!  Chunked chicken cooks faster than a whole breast or parts.

At 1 hour short of when you intend to pull the plug on this, add the following ingredients:
  • Can of Kernel Corn
  • 1 Cup uncooked Basmati Rice

Stir everything in to the mix.  The rice will soak up the extra moisture in the crock pot.

When everything is done and ready to serve an hour later, unplug the crock pot and add the Can of String Beans.  Stir well and serve.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rack, It Has Been One Year Since We Got You

I have come to expect that when I go into a room, you will be there sitting just outside, in the hallway, waiting for my return.

Walking out of the room, I had to apologize.  You saw that I was looking at you and you just rolled over onto your back.  Stepping closer, I rocked back onto my heel for balance.  You wagged your tail as you always have and managed to put it right under my foot.

Just a slight bit of pressure, you were too absorbed in the act of getting attention, having your belly rubbed, in the hallway and under the air conditioning intake.

Another normal day here.

I've had dogs with me since 2001.  You are a very different soul.  A bright and cheery puppy.  A truly gentle and sweet personality.  You came into my life a year ago.  I had just lost my Lettie.  You helped to fill that void.  She and I battled for control all her life and eventually established a balance until she was too old to hold her end up in that bargain.  Then she rolled onto her back once and only once and told me in that one time, that one time only, that her days were growing short.

You were shuttled from an uncaring owner in Rome, GA to a veterinarian's office where you were surrendered.  From there, you made the trip to Ocala where you sat for 36 days being more confused.  A McNab Dog is way too intelligent for that sort of abuse - sitting in a concrete bunker of a room, your personality spiraled away in fear.  Then the Dog Liberator found you on the same day Lettie left me.   I didn't know you yet, but within a week I would find you.

You see, I was told to find another dog.  It was a very rough time for us, and you helped us as much as we helped you.

You are no longer shut down.  In fact you have the reputation of being that puppy that jumps six feet in the air.

I'm sure we're getting talked about.  There's one cranky woman with a Jack Russell here in town who crosses the street.   You know that dog, the one who starts growling three houses away?  I'm also thinking she needs to work with her dog a bit more.

In that year you shook off the depression you had from being abandoned.  I'm sorry, "Owner Surrendered" is what they called it.  Some people shouldn't own a picture of a stuffed animal, let alone a dog as intelligent as you are.

The Pit Bull attack two weeks ago is healing.  You have on a T Shirt of mine since the scar is healing and itchy.   That will fade, and we've allowed you use of the house again.  I'm no longer on duty watching you every second.

We constantly are told how beautiful you are.   That's the breed, but it is also you.  Pure black and pure white, glistening in the sun.  We are always told that you look healthy and well.  That came with some effort.   The Orijen food you turn your nose up at helped you heal and get rid of the mange around your eye.  We purged your system of the worms, got your shots, changed to another kind of food that you could actually digest.

You thank Kirby for that every time you see him.  He's one of your favorite people, a true Friendbeast for giving us the suggestion that brought you to robust health.  When you see Kirby across the street you charge over to say hello as he pets you and you whine in happiness.  When you hear him and his dog walk past the house, you sit up and wag your tail even if you can't see him through the window.  Every motorcycle that goes by is Kirby.  That little white lie helped you not be afraid of the roar of the motors that are everywhere.

His dog, D.O.G. accepts this and lets you get a little attention.  Remember, D.O.G. is a 165 pound Rottweiler and not a sheep to be herded.  He is getting tired of being climbed over and clambered on.

It has been one first year of many.  There have been a lot of changes in your short life.  The bad memories are fading, and replaced by many more good ones. 

Keep watching over us.  Grumble at the mailman. When the neighbor Bill comes over and I announce "Incoming", go to the front door to say hello.

Oh by the way, "Incoming" isn't his name any more than "Murph" is yours.

It's a busy, noisy, and complex neighborhood with a lot for a smart dog to wrap his head around.  As you adjust we'll go further.   For now, we'll stick close to the house.  There is a lot to see within the mile that we wander three times a day.  Sit by the door, wait for us to go out, then you can go.  It's not just A Rule, it can save your life. 

We're going into the hot season now.  I'll let you in on a secret.  Your black fur?  That gets hot.  We won't mind if you jump in the pool while we're out there.   Really we won't.

So enjoy the world.  It's a big one.  There are a lot more things that we can do, when you're ready.  You learned that Car can be fun.  Walks can be fun.  Other dogs aren't always fun but you are figuring out how to read that. 

But.. we're fun, together.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Bacon Tree

The Bacon Tree

3 men are wandering hopelessly through the desert, having had no food or drink for days. When suddenly up ahead they see a tree.

"A tree!" Says the first guy, " Maybe there's water nearby!"

"Maybe it bears fruit" says the next man.

So they start walking towards it. As they get nearer they are shocked to see that there are pieces of meat growing from the branches.

"Bloody hell, there's bacon growing on that tree!" Says the first guy, and he runs straight towards it. As he gets there, he reaches out to grab a piece of bacon, when all of a sudden...BANG!...the guy is shot dead.

The other 2 men stop dead in their tracks.

"What was that?!" Says one of them.

Second one replies "That's no bacon's a ham bush!"

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Why Can't The Drums Stop?

Why Can't The Drums Stop

A man goes on vacation to a tropical island. As soon as he gets off the plane, he hears drums. He thinks, "Wow, this is cool."

He goes to the beach, he hears the drums, he eats lunch, he hears drums, he goes to a luau, and he hears drums. He TRIES to go to sleep, he hears drums.

This goes on for several nights, and gets to the point where the guy can't sleep at night because of the drums. Finally, he goes down to the front desk. When he gets there, he asks the manager, "Mister, that's it!! Why won't those drummers stop?! I can't get any sleep!"

The manager replies, "No! The drums must NEVER stop. It's terrible if the drums stop drumming."


"When drums stop... bass solo begins."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Irish Cream Chocolate Mousse Pie Recipe

If ever there was a recipe for my sister, or the ladies, this just might be it.

The bonus is that it's dead simple and you really don't have to "cook" for this one.

You need a blender, a microwave or sauce pan, and a ready made graham cracker pie crust.  The chocolate crumb pie crusts would be good as well for a change of pace to maximize your chocolate cravings.

If you don't like the idea of Irish Cream and the alcohol, or just want to make it a lighter dessert, you can swap in some 2% milk.  If you do use Irish Cream, the recipe is a bit too strong if you don't split the Irish Cream with Milk. 

My suggestion is that you make the recipe with 3 ounces Irish Cream, 3 ounces of Milk for a balance of flavor.

This recipe really is simple - someone who swears that they can't cook, or won't cook, or the kitchen makes them break out in hives would be able to make this.   In fact, if you are looking for a bonding experience with your child and want something safe to make, this recipe could be it.   Just leave out the alcohol in that case since they will want to lick the spoon!


  • 6 ounces of good chocolate broken in to small chips.  The better the chocolate, the better this will be.
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons of Grand Marnier, Cognac, Rum, or Spiced Rum
  • 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups of milk/cream/Irish Cream - if using Irish Cream I suggest 3 ounces each of Irish Cream and Milk
  • Optional Pinch of Salt (that I always forget on purpose)
  • Ready made Graham Cracker Crust pie shell or Chocolate Crumb pie shell


  • Set out your pie shell.
  • Add to blender Chocolate, Egg, Vanilla, Grand Marnier or Rum, sugar, and salt.
  • Pulse blender until it has been well mixed.
  • Warm the Irish Cream and milk until it not quite boiling.  This can be done in the microwave without fear of scorching.  About 180F would be the correct temperature since the object is to get it hot enough to melt the chocolate.
  • Pour Irish Cream mixture into the blender and blend until smooth.  This will take about a minute or so.  The more air you pump into the mix, the more light and fluffy your pie will be.
  • Pour the chocolate into the pie shell and chill for at least an hour.  

The better the chocolate, the better your results!  I have made this recipe with Chocolate chips, some chocolate bars that were sent to me by my sister, and a mix of chocolates I have had around the house.  All were good, some were better than others!  This recipe could also work well with butterscotch chips if you want something completely different.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Weird, Twitchy, Semi-OCD Way to Brew The Perfect Mug Of Coffee

You got your Care Package.  Your box of random stuff.  Thank you.  I wish I could have done more.  I really do appreciate your support and help over the years. 

Inside you'll find some of my home roasted coffee.  You said you wanted a challenge and you wanted to experience all sorts of different brews and blends.   You wanted to see what the stuff looked like before it was roasted, and what it would look like at a very dark roast.

Remember this is all about what You Like.  Not what I like.  What I like is irrelevant.  When you find a roast you like, let me know and I'll make that for you from now on out.  If you like it all, then I'll just make a selection.  Some people know what good is and it's all arbitrary.

I gave you that.  There are some green beans in a little jar.  That's more of a "souvenir" or a coffee table trinket than something to drink.  I've drank green coffee beans before.  The result is a weird witches' brew that tastes grassy and like the cream and sugar you put into it.

It's also chock full of caffeine unlike anything you ever drank before.

Why?  The shorter the roast time, the less that you actually expose the beans to the heat, the more caffeine is "retained" in the beans.  That's the "science content" of making a cup.

You have some "First Crack" - that's the light tan stuff that the hipsters are drinking now.  Think Red Bull with a coffee taste.  I only gave you a little of this because it's kind of harsh to me.

You have some Second Crack.  That looks "normal brown" with no oil on the outside of the beans.  This is what I shoot for on a regular roast.  It's called "Full City" and it is where the stuff starts to taste good with a slight edge to it.

You have some Second Crack plus 30 seconds.  Just the barest beginning of a hint of oil on the outside of the beans.  If I roast this far, I'm happy but I don't like it personally when the beans get roasted longer.

You also have some Second Crack plus 2 minutes.  Deep and oily, this is French Roast.  That's what people tend to think they want for dark coffee.

The thing is that what people are drinking is the actual "Roast" of the coffee - that is where coffee taste comes from.   Caffeine drops the longer you roast.

They're all unground so you can take your own time to drink this stuff.   The reason is that once you grind your beans, they begin to oxidize within two weeks.   Never grind more than 2 weeks worth of beans.   In fact, I only roast what I will drink within a week.

Roast today, Drink tomorrow.  There is a lot of Carbon Dioxide to "off-gas" from the beans when you roast, and it can take three days for some beans to off-gas.   Once the off gassing has finished, the best flavor can occur. 

I have heard of freshly roasted beans off gassing enough to burst a glass jar.   I haven't seen it, but it is kind of a neat experiment!

That's today.  It took 2 days to get there and it took me a day to pack, so these are 4 days old.  Enjoy them, I can always roast more.

Ok, that OCD thing?  Yeah you can go nuts.  People pay hundreds of dollars for a burr grinder, thousands for a roaster, and $50 a pound for Jamaica Blue Mountain is common.  Kopi Luwak is beastly expensive which is appropriate for a coffee that came out of a cat's butt.

I'm not fond of Jamaica Blue, that's just marketing and that the Japanese have cornered the market.   Let them enjoy.

My favorite is Guatemalan.  Hard to wreck those beans, they're almost always sweet, almost always wonderful.  This is what you got.  The last of my Guatemalan coffee.  I'm now on a Nicaraguan that is about as good, but slightly different taste.

Now that brewing OCD?  Here we go...

Get a 20 ounce French Press.   Forget the K Cups - that is just Green Mountain Coffee trying to corner the market and their coffee is barely drinkable.   Green Mountain Coffee is one step above instant.

Weigh out between 25 grams and 30 grams of beans.  29 grams is an ounce.  I usually go either 27 or 28 grams.

Yes. Grams.  Get a gram scale.  You need it for baking anyway.   Scoops are random and inaccurate - this is between 3 and 5 scoops of unground beans.

Grind your beans around 30 seconds.   A burr grinder is nice but unnecessary.  Mine is a blade grinder and a bit coarse.  I grind to a near espresso powder.  The reason is that it is surface area that influences how much of the coffee oil gets into your brew.   You want coffee with oil.  Really, you do.  Mediocre coffee that has been on the shelf at the market for two weeks has coffee oil that has begun to spoil by oxidizing.  This is peak now.  Their coffee was roasted as much as months ago.   Blah.

Water.   Fill your whistling tea kettle.  Old school, yes, but effective.   Wait for the water to begin to make the kettle whistle.  This will give you water just shy of 212F.  Pour the water into a large glass container.  I use a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup made of nice thick glass.  You will want 20 ounces of water in that measuring cup.

Take the water's temperature and wait for it to come down to 190F.   This should take about a minute, more likely less.  It may even pour into the measuring cup at 190F.  It takes a little time to walk across the kitchen anyway, right?

Why all this nonsense?  The hotter the water, the more bitter the coffee.   If you want a more bitter coffee, then don't wait, pour immediately over the grounds.   If you don't just take the time, pet the dog, look out the kitchen window at the back yard for a minute and check the "Instant Read Thermometer".  Remember, 190F. 

Pour the water over grounds and stir.   It will "bloom".  The grounds that still haven't off gassed will float to the top.  You can break that up, it won't have too much of an effect on the taste.  Just stir occasionally for up to about 5 minutes.  I've forgotten and let it sit for 15 minutes and while I can taste the difference, most would just shrug.

Add your cream or creamer, and your sugar or sweetener.   I use all that artificial crap which sounds ironic since I take so much effort and time with the brew.   Ok, I'm not perfect, but this is how I do it.

Like I said semi-OCD, not fully OCD.

All this crap that I said you need?  The Pyrex Measuring cup, instant read thermometer, grinder, and even the French Press can be found at a thrift store for under $20 total.  The roaster is a hot air popcorn popper.  I paid $4 plus tax.   Want to pay retail?  Probably can be done for less than $50 but you really don't need to spend all that.  It's basic.  Your grandparents might have gone through this "back in the day" before corporate coffee came around and they would have done it by eye.  Basically that is how I do it now - by eye.  You wanted to hear how I did it and now I'm chuckling that I did as much fiddling as I have to get it right.

But "Right" for coffee... yeah, it's really about what you think is right.  Go ahead and fill the Mr. Coffee, if that is how you like it, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

For Better Bread, Pre-Ferment Your Yeast

There's a name for this.   "Pre-ferment" is what I see it called.

There are other proportions for different purposes.  A Poolish is a French technique of 50 percent Flour.   A Biga is an Italian one with a drier mix.

Bread Machines aren't as popular as they once were, but you can still make an amazing loaf of bread using one.  I just don't cook the loaf in the machine since you don't really get that crust that crunches when you bite into it.  

The Bottom's Up baking method of a vertical bread machine means the bottom of the loaf is dry, the top would be gummy.

The trick is simple.  To the bucket of your bread machine, or the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, add all your ingredients except the flour.

Yeast, 105F Lukewarm Water, sugar, salt, oil or other fat. 

Stir the mix up.  Allow it to brew at least 15 minutes if you have a very active yeast, or longer if you are using a sourdough starter and less or no yeast.

What happens is that the yeast begins to activate.   It forms a culture throughout the mixture and begins to digest the sugars.  At around 15 minutes, flour can be added.

The longer the dough is allowed to brew, the more complex the flavor.   The French "Poolish" technique can be used at this point by adding in 1/2 of your flour.   What this makes is a very wet brew that can be covered and allowed to rise for a longer period of time, as much as "overnight".  The result of that is a sour dough that is on the verge of becoming a sourdough mother.  

Add back in the rest of your flour and bake normally.

I've done this trick in the past and ended up with a complex bread that tastes much better than any pre-fab store bought commercial bread with a big name on the side, but it does take a bit of patience and planning.

If you really aren't interested in waiting that long, you can add in all your flour at the 15 minute mark.  In my house, which is normally "warm" in South Florida, the yeast is fully activated and healthy. 

The longer the rise time, the more complex the taste.  Not everyone likes a rich sourdough taste, but that isn't what we've been trained to eat over the last few decades.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Did Someone Order Some Rusty Broken Pipes?

When you run the washer, your kitchen sink shouldn't "burble".

That was the first sign.

We would run the washer and every so often we would hear things.  We would also find small "spills" next to it.

For a little while we wondered if our dog who was then a puppy, had "discovered" the laundry room.

Can't blame the dog for this one.  It's old pipes.

While it was only the one side of the house, we were left scratching our heads. 

It was time for a little education.

In this little house, one side of the property drains one way, the other drains another, and there's a joint in the middle.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

But the thing is that pipes will fail.   If you look at the pipes, you can see how they failed.   In our case, I don't know that anything ever really made it out to the sewer lines.   We were "fertilizing" the sand under the house.  Some of those cracks eventually filled with soil that plugged up the works.

One group of plumbers were called in.  They fixed the minor things like worn out washers and wobbly fixtures.  The bathroom sink was upgraded.  The noises never really left us.

We would soldier on still scratching our heads as the washer's burbling got louder.

Finally we had someone in to scope the pipes.

Interesting thing was what they found.  After running a camera on a long snake down the pipe, they found the first crack.  Our pipes had failed and cracked.

The plumbers weren't sure what we had going on or where the camera was looking as the waste water from the house drained out of that crack.

An estimate came back much higher than we would have liked.  That's the repairman's shrug.  If you don't know what is wrong, price it high and the home owner will go get a second estimate that they will probably go with.

We did.

The second guy, Plumber Mike, specializes in this sort of thing.  In fact, they are the ones who the first plumber contracted with for this kind of repair.   The inside jobs were a different group, the original plumbers, and they were fine for that.   No complaints with anyone.

Last week, demolition began after permitting was completed. 

By Demolition, I mean burrowing under the house to expose the pipes.  Each pipe that came through had more cracks in it. 

Since we paid our sewer bills, we really should actually use the sewers instead of inadvertently using the soil under the house as a septic field.


By the time Plumber Mike was through, just about every pipe was cracked, and the width of the house was tracked with new PVC piping.

The tunnel is yet to be completely filled in, and the work has yet to be inspected, but we're now back to draining into the sewers.

Ahh sewers.  So dirty but so necessary to modern urban life.  Without sewers, plumbers, and other necessities, we would not be able to have cities, and even villages would be difficult.

At least it's back together now.  No more inadvertent fertilizer for me!  We can flush safely again!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Moose Made Easter Leftovers For Breakfast!

I was asked point blank:

"Did you get silly in the kitchen again?"

"No, I was reading too much."

I got hungry.  It was time for breakfast anyway.  8AM on a Sunday morning.   Actually, it was Easter Sunday, and I got to thinking.

I had just finished a small bowl of Biscuits and Gravy.   Granted, the gravy was from a jar, and the lot was microwaved to make it hot and tasty, but that was not a problem at all.

You see I got creative.

I was thinking about having breakfast.  Since I had finished the bagels, didn't want to buy any, and certainly didn't have any time to make some bagels at 8AM, I'd have to improvise.

Our house was tunneled under to replace the sewer lines and this entire week was a nightmare of having construction, demolition, and other oddball nonsense here.   I couldn't use the kitchen like I normally would.  Yesterday, since the sewer pipes were repaired, I was able to bake two batches of bread.

One "conventional" and one Sourdough.


But no bagels, and no pretzels.

Staring at the eggs on the top shelf of the refrigerator, I knew I was going to have some.   Opening the freezer I grabbed the sourdough rolls, warmed one up.

I wasn't really interested in being a fry cook so I put on a pot of water.

The Easter Moose Was Going To Visit!

I found the red food coloring, and got the water boiling.   It was a crimson roiling pot of water by the time I was done.

Walking out to the next room, I found an old candle.  I'd be slick!  I would put lines and designs on the eggs and they would be all nice and fancy!


There were five eggs, I wasn't making a mass of them especially since I was the only person in the house that eats the things.

Right out of the gates, I managed to crack one egg with the candle.   Ok, that goes back into the refrigerator.

The other four got their designs.

The water was at a full boil now, so set the egg into the water.

Immediately it sank to the bottom of the pot and began to fog.  No, I didn't want pink egg drop soup.

Egg number two was perfect as was egg number three.

The last one...

More egg drop soup.   There was a bulge of egg whites streaming into the water, mixing with the food coloring, and making it all look like a bad imitation of a Chinese restaurant.

I could use some proper egg drop soup today, but not for breakfast.

More improvisation, I guess I'd eat those two.

Having just finished the Biscuits And Gravy, I knew I would have to do something with the two imperfect eggs.

I didn't know how dark the shells would be when I pulled them out of the water, but since this was just basically all for fun and my own entertainment, it didn't really matter.

Yes!  I was playing with my food!

I waited a reasonable amount of time, then fished out the two cracked eggs and their blobby exterior.   It was time to make an egg salad sandwich.

I cracked the eggs, burning my fingers because I was rushing and didn't want to wait for the time.  Rack was snuffling around and watching me wondering why I was doing all this insanity.

Snarling at the heat, I managed to get the eggs unshelled, and I mashed them into the sausage gravy leavings.  Adding a teaspoon of Mayonnaise, I was done.  The egg salad went into the warmed sourdough roll like a pastel spread.

White, Pink, and Yellow.  This was breakfast.

No, there were no kids involved except Me, The Cook.  I simply decided that I wanted Easter Eggs and I would have them.  Sometimes an adult has to do what an adult has to do.  Maybe I was just in overload of the hype of everyone else doing Easter Egg Hunts and looking for lost pastel colored eggs that the five year old couldn't find under the couch.

Better go look, it's going to smell funny in a couple days.

The results?  Pink Easter Eggs.   I guess the wax melted off into the water.  Probably ended up in my stomach somehow.

The Egg Salad?   Could have used some pickles and onions.   Oh well, at least I have two more pink eggs for later!  One for dinner tonight, one for lunch tomorrow maybe.

Hmmm... this could be A Thing (TM).  Hard Boiled Pastel Colored Eggs in the Summer.   Easter Eggs!  They're not just for Easter any more!  Have an Easter Egg for Halloween.  

Oh wait, that was yesterday.  Never mind!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Male Logic and another Bonus Video for the day


Woman: Do you drink beer?
Man: Yes

Woman: How many beers a day?
Man: Usually about 3

Woman: How much do you pay per beer?
Man: $5.00 which includes a tip

Woman: And how long have you been drinking?
Man: About 20 years, I suppose

Woman: So a beer costs $5 and you have 3 beers a day, which puts your spending each month at $450. In one year, it would be approximately $5400 …correct?
Man: Correct

Woman: If in 1 year you spend $5400, the past 20 years puts your spending at $108,000, correct?
Man: Correct

Woman: Do you know that if you didn’t drink so much beer, you could have now bought a Ferrari?

Man: Do you drink beer?
Woman: No Man: Where’s your Ferrari ?

And a bonus.  Only because I stumbled across this wonderful old Rankin/Bass gem.   "Here Comes Peter Cottontail".

If you celebrate it, Happy Easter.
If you don't, watch it for the animation.  It's a beautiful colorful show about "April Valley".

Remember!  Every time you tell a fib, your left ear droops!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Crumpled Up and a video

Crumpled Up

A man arrived home from work one evening to find his wife sitting on the sofa in a dimly lit living room. With a very seductive voice the woman asked her husband, "Have you ever seen $20 dollars all crumpled up?"

"No," said her husband.

She gave him a sexy little smile, unbuttoned the top buttons of her blouse, and slowly reached down into the exposed cleavage and pulled out a crumpled twenty dollar bill.

He took the crumpled twenty dollar bill from her and smiled.

She then asked him, "Have you ever seen $50 dollars all crumpled up?"

"Uh .... no, I haven't," he said, with an anxious tone in his voice. She gave him another sexy little smile, seductively lifted her blouse slightly and pulled out a crumpled fifty dollar bill that was tucked into the waist band of her pants.

He took the crumpled fifty dollar bill, mind filled with anticipation.

"Now," she said, "have you ever seen $25,000 dollars all crumpled up?"

"Wow ... no, but I'd love to," he said, while becoming extremely attentive.

To which she replied, "Go look in the garage."

For no other reason than I found this beyond cute... here's a video.  Yes, I got sucked in by a viral video.  Yes, it's an ad.  But the event is past and its just too cute.

What if animals were round?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bromeliad Blooms and Other Blather

When things get too hectic, stop to smell the bromeliads.

I guess I need to pay attention, don't I?  It's a case of having too many things happen at once.

I'm in the middle of reloading the PC.  A whole laundry list of things have to be decided.  I'm in there with all the Windows XP "expats" at the moment making those decisions.

Whether to go with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.  Why go with one over the other?  How to make one look like the other?

I went with Windows 8.1, and immediately got some spyware onto it. 

If you install Windows 8.1 and don't want "Ugly Block Land" to get in the way of your efficiency, you will need to install Classic Shell.   It's freeware but it also comes with some nasty spyware that you have to be very careful NOT to install.  It isn't very clear when you are installing and if you don't pay attention you will be where I was, and get some spyware on it.  Immediately.


Windows update was running, for the second time, and all the sudden I got ads.   Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm the fastest remote in the East.  When watching the TV, I have a 30 second skip button and I always, I mean ALWAYS watch TV via the DVR.

In other words, 30 minute shows last 21 minutes.   Commercials hit and I'm playing the skip button.  Someone tells me about this "great ad" they saw last night and I shrug and grunt.  "Iduhknow"

But Classic Shell will work for you and make Windows 8 and 8.1 look like Windows 7 while not removing your ability to play with ugly blocks in Microsoft's Ugly Block Land Interface.  That is if you don't get the ads on there.

It was then when I went to write about something else, my morning took a strange twist.

I didn't have a way to put text onto the picture I wanted to post.  Pretty Bromeliads, aren't they.   Windows 8.1 didn't want to install Photoshop, and I was getting frustrated.  Wanted some flowers.  Who does the computer guy ask when there's a problem on his computer.  Oooh More Bromeliads.  Photoshop installed?  Do we have "our" font?  Open the picture.  Ahhhh...

All that crap. 

I'll get my fonts off of my server, they're all open source and free so if you're looking for something distinctive I can let you know what I used.

So I can commiserate with you.  You Windows XPats.  They tell you your computer is now open to all sorts of viruses.   Mine was upgraded and I had to go through the same thing. 

Did you know the new Excel 2013 is butt ugly?   Purely flat and white?   You can change the white, but you have to find the thing that turns off the slide.  

The "slide"?

Yes.   When you move your cell from A1 to B1, it slides.   Someone at Microsoft needs to be slapped with a trout.   It is the Metroing and Creeping Smooth Scroll chaff that is coming everywhere.   You have a PC in your lap that could run the entire country of Jamaica's internal revenue service from the year 1983 and what does Microsoft do?   They make everything ugly, blocky, and slide-y.  It also takes some of your computer to make all that eye candy pop.  I really don't like that sort of thing.   Makes me impatient.

Windows 7 why did I forsake you?

Here's a Bromeliad to smooth your mood.  Let me type some nonsense in as a title, change the font to Gautami, add a pink stroke and some background glow.

There!  All Done!  Even if I did have to resort to installing Inkscape as a backup for today.

Now, where is my Photoshop CD?  I just might be able to finish that install.

I just don't see grandma figuring this stuff out.  But figure it out we will since this is the way things will go until Windows 9 happens in a couple months.   For now, just remember that Microsoft always needs three pitches to make a hit.  Four to make a home run.  Windows 8.1 is only Pitch Number two.  Windows 9, I am hoping, will be Pitch Number three.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Very Own Archaeological Dig

I feel like I'm living with Colonel Hogan in Stalag 13.

The old TV Show Hogan's Heroes.  They had a barracks in a Nazi Prisoner of War Camp where you would smack the side of the top bunk and through the magic of TV and some well hidden strings and weights, the bottom bunk would lift out of place.   That would reveal a ladder down to the warren of tunnels where they had all sorts of things.

We were given the entire series on DVD a while back.  I am still jealous of Sgt Kinch's radio equipment.  Much better an experimentation desk than I have now.  Then again, do I really need to build that Crystal Radio?

Next to my window in the Kitchen is now a hole.  I keep expecting Corporal Louis LeBeau to come climbing up out of that hole.   It's large enough for a man to climb out of, which is what is happening at this very moment. 

Sitting here with my right elbow on the wooden arm of my Poang chair, I'm feeling vibrations.  There's a tapping coming up through the floor. 

Yes, they're digging, still.

After a day of digging under the house, they have tunneled from the Lanai, under the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the living room.

I'm sitting there. 

They have almost made it to the bathroom,  I have been told.

There are mounds of grey beach sand piled out back.  Even Sgt. Carter had to put the soil somewhere.  Our version of Sgt. Carter has thoughtfully placed all the soil from under the house on tarps. 

South Florida Blue Tarps, at your service!

Should be a great name for a sports team, the South Florida Blue Tarps, you can find them everywhere.  Now in my back yard.  Covered with grey beach sand.

I figure they're digging deep enough to be able to fit under the house comfortably.  Following the pipes, from back to front, they are looking for broken sewer lines.

They have had a few unexpected finds.

Our house was one of the last of the homes built on this block.  They started on the corner, skipped this lot, and went next door.  Like any open lot, the neighborhood children would come over and play on it.  Parties would be held.  The day to day routine would expand into this lot whenever a little extra shoulder room was needed.

Some of the history showed itself.  While tunneling, they found a can opener.  The old school church key style, it would open a can with a triangular piercing, or a bottle cap from the other end.   Common place items lost in the sand years ago are never really lost.  One day at an long forgotten picnic, someone dropped the church key into the soil and it remained there until last night when it was brought out by a surprised worker.

More thumping through my elbow, there is a small commotion below me.   I hear muffled voices through the slab as there is a decision being made.  We find out later what happened.   There was a long forgotten tree stump on the property.  It was part of a large tree, larger than a man could reach around.  The tree had been felled, cut down instead of being retained as protection against a storm, it was cleared from the land and the stump was burned.  Later a slab was poured over top of it so that this house could be constructed.

Things never really go away, they just hide from view.  This is the same sort of strange discovery that people have done all over the world.  Old settlements that had been there years before show themselves when new construction happens.   Seeing that nobody here ever really builds a basement, the land under a house is effectively sealed for 50 or more years until it is time to come down in a fit of new construction.  If the owner is lucky, they won't have to find the new pipes.  Since they have a finite lifespan and building anything on sand is liable to shift, eventually those new pipes will crack.

So that's where you find yourself.  Scratching your head and wondering about the tree that was removed, or what party happened that the bottle opener was lost at. 

These folks are thorough.  Plumber Mike's guys are creating a tunnel.   They will pack the dirt back under the house on the last day or two, just like it was removed.  It isn't like having a tunnel under the living room is a useful thing more often than once or twice a century. 

Besides, I'm really not looking forward to having Colonel Hogan come up under the dog house.  After all, I don't have a German Shepard, he's a McNab.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two Weeks of Insane

Have you ever, in this Modern Life, scheduled yourself and looked back.  When you look back you think "What was I thinking?"

... to put it mildly?

That's us.

We've gone through the drama with the pitbull attack.  This caused a visit by the local police, the Code Enforcement group, and the Broward County Animal Control. 

It was followed by a phone interview for a position at an organization for which I would very much like to work.  I have always been a "generalist" in technology.  A sort of "hired gun".  My bosses learned that they could say "I have a problem, lets give it to Bill, He'll figure it out!".

And I would.

After that finished, there was the preparation.

Not for a position that I don't have and have to write a heart felt thank you letter, but for what is happening at the house over the next two weeks.

Barring any more visits from the Local Constabulary, we shall be having work done.  

Plumbers, Cable TV, and Tree trimmers... Oh my!

Cable TV because Comcast on its best day is creaky.  It works because of force of habit.   You see there is this Database that I need to connect to so I can do some work with Access and Excel.   It's not in the house on a friendly computer.  It's out there ... in the wild! 

Boo!  Eek!

Without that so-called fast internet connection, you can't do "Data Analysis" on a "test database" that isn't on a server in the house.  Like Homer Simpson says "Web goes up!  Web goes down!" 

Where's my any key?

Plumbers?  When your hose pipe outside decides to drip you can ignore it only for so long.   Since the coldest temperature we have ever had here since I moved to Wilton Manors was a mere 1 degree C above freezing, that's 34 degrees 'Murican, we don't have to worry about that nasty cracked pipe thing that "y'all gits up North".  On the other hand when your sewer pipe has a beautiful break in it, it tends to subside the beach sand that the house is built upon. 

Yes, I am going to have people digging under my house to fix pipes.  You mean this doesn't happen where you're from?  Oh it does, just wait.  Eventually that pipe that was laid in 1955 to your split level tract home in suburbia will crack.  When it does, you will run a washer and hear it echo in your kitchen sink and wonder.   Wonder whether your car in the driveway will fall into a hole.  It's just that the clay that the homes in the Northeastern US are built on take longer to subside than our beach sand on top of a Coral Ridge.

Make sure you have breakfast early and that coffee so you can use your "facilities" before the plumbers arrive!  It takes an hour to run a Hot Laundry so set up a timed wash to be finished at 6AM so you can run a second before they get here!  

Tree trimmers?  Oh yes of course!   There is this monstrosity of a Sea Grape in the back yard.   40 feet tall full of leaves that look like small dessert plates.   Limbs as thick as a fat baby's arm.  They grow "due up".    We shall have a giant pile of limbs out there and will call it Harvey.  As long as the tree survives and doesn't get cut below 15 feet, we will remain legal.   I don't want the tree to go, just to be more manageable.  I don't want it to become a navigation hazard for passing airplanes, nor a guide for the incoming aircraft into Fort Lauderdale International Airport.   I'm quite happy to help, I just don't want to cause a problem, here, let me lower this monster.

Got your tiny violin out yet?   Playing "My Heart Bleeds For You"?

I guess you do this sort of thing all at once, lance the boil, let the pus run clear.  We'll be doing that with the house.   Getting caught up on Deferred Maintenance can be entertaining.  It had better be, that's what's happening here for the next two weeks.   When it's through we can flush in comfort, surf websites in speed, and see the roof of the shed clearly without catching a low flying Cessna.

So how is your week going?  I'll just make sure this goes out before ... oh noes, here's the plumber!  Gotta Go!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rack Was Attacked By A Pitbull

I will quote myself  here: "Stereotypes are Sometimes Correct.".

Not every pit bull is a vicious dog, but when they are vicious, they are far too "good" at it.

Florida passed a law banning "Breed Specific Bans" in the state.  If you asked me last night when I was knocked off my feet while on the ground kicking the side of this more than 60 pound pit bull to get her off my dog, I would say it was a bad idea. 

Logically I know that pit bulls aren't all bad.   My neighbor had a pit, Babygirl, who was the definition of sweet.  He now has a part-pit Ellie that is Rack's best friend.

The problem isn't the breed, it's the owner.  In this case an owner that did not think that his pit bull had any problems with any other dogs and allowed her off her leash.

My neighbor's part-pit part Heinz 57 dog, Ellie, knew this dog was trouble.   We all met in front of the house the night before.   While Rack was being his usual goofy puppy self, Ellie was doing a much better job of reading this dog's mind.  It decided to pick on the weakest dog of the three in her mind, and started a fight.  I managed to pull Rack out of the middle and Ellie got yanked out as well.

From that point on it became a Dog Of Interest, or One To Avoid.

Last evening's walk I didn't have that option.  This pit bull was off leash in front of the property where the owner rents.  It spotted us before I did, at least 50 feet if not 75 away. 

Rack saw it first and began to back up to hide behind me.

Oh thanks, kid!

When I saw the dog, I grabbed Rack to lift him as high as possible to buy time.   It didn't work.

The pit bull charged me landing on me and knocking me to the ground.  At the same moment it grabbed onto Rack's front leg skin and would not let go.  This was when I tried my best to stop this by kicking the dog off of both of us.

The owner comes and finally collects his vicious pitbull.

He's trying to tell me that the dog is not vicious.  He also told me not to call the police.

My response was "If it wasn't vicious, it wouldn't have attacked us".

He of course said "If you are going to be crazy like that, I am not going to help you".

I then immediately called 911 and got through to the Wilton Manors Police Dispatch desk.

What had to have been the entire police force on duty arrived in under five minutes.

I rehashed the story to the officers who arrived plus Dave in Code Enforcement. 

While you may not have Breed Specific Bans in place, we do have a very good law in town about vicious animals.   Whoever formulated this law has my gratitude. 

I will paraphrase the legislation:

If your dog attacks a human or domestic animal (dogs and cats) and draws blood, causes a laceration or cut, or any other sort of trauma, your dog is defined as being vicious.  Vicious dogs are only allowed in the city limits of Wilton Manors if they are registered with the City Clerk and a bond of $500,000 is posted.  All of this must happen in five business days.  The dog will be retained by the city and sent to the county animal control to make sure that all shots and licenses are up to date at the cost of the owner.   If this bond is posted, the dog may not be allowed off property without muzzle and other protection for the safety and the good of the people and dogs in town.

Since the person who owned this vicious pitbull is a renter and had moved in within the month, I sincerely doubt this will happen.   Most likely the owner is a flight risk, will abandon the dog, and move out of town.  With an absentee owner in Maryland, and the property managed locally, I doubt that he will be allowed to remain in the property.  I think it's fairly obvious that the dog will be and should be put down.

I was told by the officers that we were very lucky in this attack.   Rack will heal.  The skin was ripped open for a "thumb length" and you could see muscle and sinew underneath.  We got him to the veterenarian who remained open for this emergency.  Rack now has a bare patch on his leg with some stitches as well as him wearing a spare T-Shirt.   He's also sitting as close to me, physically, as he possibly can.

There have been pitbull attacks in Wilton Manors before where small dogs had their legs flayed open like a sleeve, and worse.  This is the reason for the law.  There are too many people in this city with dogs of all sizes that are badly trained.   While a Chihuahua with an attitude is bad enough, even comical, an aggressive pit bull is deadly. 

To say "Keep your dog on a leash" is an understatement.  There is never any justification for this sort of situation.  Some people shouldn't own a stuffed animal let alone a deadly and vicious pit bull.  They make it harder for the rest of the people out there that are responsible owners.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oscar, You Will Make My Breakfast Cold!

I had JUST set out all the food to make my breakfast when I knew I was going to have an interruption.


Walking out to the kitchen, I checked my yogurt.  Needs another day on the counter brewing until it thickens up.

The milk and cereal was portioned out.


A Challah Raisin Bagel for some cream cheese and home made cherry jelly was warmed, along with a pretzel roll for the eggs.

A bit of chopped onion for sweetness.

 Urp!  Hah Hah Hah Hah!

Buttering the Pretzel roll I wiped the non stick pan with the butter to get a nice even coat.  Toss the onions on the pan to clarify them.   Sweet onions made sweeter.   Placing a tile wrapped in Aluminum foil on each roll half, the heat would toast them in the butter and flatten them for extra crispyness.

In the meantime I would have my cereal and Challah bagel.  Precisely measured out everything, 42 grams cereal, 160 grams milk, 20 grams each of cream cheese and cherry jelly.  That should stop me from having a "heavy hand" with the condiments.

BRAKKK!  Hello!?!?!

Oscar, it's raining!

Hah Hah Hah!

Good morning, Oscar!


I managed to finish the bowl of cereal.  Timing is good for the eggs to go on.  Immediately turn off the burners, pick up the pretzel roll halves that are toasted to golden brown perfection.  I pour the scrambled eggs over top of the clarified onions when...

BRAKKK! Hello!  Hello! Hell-O!

Oscar can't you say anything else?


Rain, Oscar, do you want a shower?

If you have never had the experience of being around an Orange Winged Amazon Parrot, they like a daily shower.   Rain, the shower, a hose with a mister in the front yard, it's all good to them.   They love it.  You can't do it often enough.   It helps keep the dust and the loose feathers down, and they get an iridescent sheen to their feathers that is really quite beautiful in the right light.

I take the eggs off of the skillet and pour them onto the bottom of the pretzel roll...


Yes, Oscar, Rain!

Put the top on the eggs...

Hello! Hello!

Can't you say anything else?


Ok, Oscar Shower!


I walk the cage out to the pool area.  It's raining enough that I could stand there with a bar of soap in the back yard and get my morning shower in.  Rinse off in the pool?  Not if I am caught!  I don't think the Salt System would turn soap into chlorine, I really don't.  Plus the mid 70s temperature of the water in April is a bit too invigorating for my tastes.

Immediately upon setting the big metal cage down, Oscar begins to enjoy life.   The wings open out broadly.  Feathers are spread to catch every last drop of water.  A general quaking and twitching of his body happens as the water is spread around.  The cage top vibrates on the pavement.

Rain gets heavier.  I think that I was in the middle of something, forgetting what it was while the feathered comic is enjoying himself out back.

A cooing sound happens as what can only be described as joy comes from the cage.

I remember what it was.  My forgotten breakfast.  I pad back into the house and close the door.

Oscar, You will make my breakfast cold!   Shower!  Rain!

When I reach the kitchen, the forgotten food was just warm enough to be perfect.   I guess Oscar's fun didn't foul my breakfast after all.

Oscar has his fun while I finish off the pretzel roll stuffed with onion and egg.  Not bad for a first try.  I'll have to do that more often.

Both the food and having Oscar out back.   Wet season is coming anyway.  I really don't mind a random washout of a day, and Oscar really does truly enjoy it.

Nice day if you're a Parrot or a Duck!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Alabama Preacher

An Alabama Baptist pastor said to his congregation, "Someone in this congregation has spread a rumor that I belong to the Ku Klux Klan.

This is a horrible lie and one which a Christian community cannot tolerate.
I am embarrassed and do not intend to accept this.

Now, I want the party who said this to stand and ask forgiveness from God and this Christian family."

No one moved.

The preacher continued, "Do you have the nerve to face me and admit this is a falsehood?

Remember, you will be forgiven and in your heart you will feel glory.
Now stand and confess your transgression."

Again, all was quiet.

Then, slowly, a drop-dead gorgeous blonde with a body that would stop a runaway train rose from the third pew.
Her head was bowed and her voice quivered as she spoke, "Reverend there has been a terrible misunderstanding.
I never said you were a member of the Ku Klux Klan.   I simply told a couple of my friends that you were a wizard under the sheets."

The preacher fell to his knees, his wife fainted, and the congregation roared.

Life is Short.
Smile while you still have Teeth.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Pillsbury Doughboy Has Died

The Pillsbury Doughboy Has Died

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community.

The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from being repeatedly poked in the belly. He was 81 years old.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch.

The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.

Born and bread in Minnesota, Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes.

Despite being a little flaky at times, he lived to be a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his very elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lettie's Shelf, One Year Later

One year ago, today, at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Lettie and I had an appointment. 

The fight had ended.   We fought well for two years to keep her as healthy as possible.  It's probably safe to say that the last six months of Lettie's life were because of my stubbornness and unwillingness to let go.

Maybe longer, I am not sure.

I had an appointment with the Vet a couple days before.  She had had what we began to call An Episode.   Chronic Renal Failure was taking its toll, and every time she would have An Episode, we would know it because she would fall over.

She was weakened by the disease and our inability to convince a very feisty dog to eat what she needed to keep herself up to speed.  I eventually became something of an expert at syringe feeding my dog.  It really is something anyone can do, if you set your mind to it.

The treatment in a human would be a kidney transplant.  They don't generally do that for dogs, because in our society we don't value them as highly as a person.  The treatment for a dog is to flush them with water and give them as much food as they will take.  Then feed them more.

We visited the Vet.  She was a dog who began to hate going for a ride.   This was the same dog who rode down here in my Jeep curled into a Dog Ball in the front seat.  I had the roof off of the car and stubbornly left that roof off when I drove through a thunderstorm near Fort Pierce, FL on I-95.  People looked over at us and scratched their heads as I wiped water from the inside of the windshield.  Lettie took it in stride and left a dog ball shaped dry spot on her seat.   When I looked down at her and said "Well, that went well", I could see it in her eyes as if to say "you're crazy".

She had also saved my life once when I fell asleep at the wheel.  A dog who just enjoys the ride gets very predictable and eventually learns the rhythm of the road.   When that same dog realizes something is very wrong, the nose goes under the arm and violently lifts it until you wake up.

I'm not superman, and marathon trips are not a good idea.

That next to last visit, they flushed her out with fluids and took blood samples.   I came home with her on that Friday and waited for the results.  Monday I called back and the desk said they were available.  I brought her in and we sat waiting for the Vet.  Not good news.   We tried another day of flushing but it was obvious that she did not have this in her for much longer.

Tuesday morning I came back and spoke with the Vet again.  Tears in my eyes, I said "I think it is best that we discontinue treatment".  At that point the staff poured out of the back rooms knowing it would be the end.

We knew it already and had found someone to help her cross over.  "To Cross Over The Rainbow Bridge".

I had another two days.  Everything was scheduled and went without a hitch. 

I was warned that "They Know".  I was told "She will look at you when it ends".   That is exactly how it happened.   There was a large white towel in front of the big green chair that she used as a mat in the corner of the room.  I wanted her within reach that last day. 

When everyone arrived, I held her paw for that trip.  The injection of pink goo went quickly.  It was a double shot.  One to make her sleep, another to finish the job.  Every time I hear "Lethal Injection" I think of this. 

She did look into my eyes at the end.  

Eyes closed and she slowly relaxed and went still.

It was rather surreal and a bit unbelievable to me until they carried her out.  The head lolled over the edge of the blanket and since nobody was in the house, I was able to finally let my feelings out.  My mantra for the next few weeks was "I want my girl back".

After all was said and done, I gathered up her belongings.  We were not going to get another dog just yet.  Some of the items went across the street to Ellie.  All but that one last half gnawed chew.  It was on the fllor and got pushed under the big green chair and hidden for a while.  That's in the frame with Lettie's dog tags and one of her paw prints.  The other paw print has her collar, still with the final dog tags on it.  Her ashes are in a brass urn under her picture on the top shelf. 

There is a third paw print that will go with me into the bedroom under her picture in there in a Place of Honor.  I have a picture of a street fair in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA where I was giving her a snack years ago.  A passing photographer liked the shot and it got into the paper.  I'm fortunate to have that memory.

The paw prints sat around for a good long time before I finally could bring myself to begin to put things together.   We bought the frames, and they sat.  The paw prints are a salt dough that had hardened in the oven, and I finally sprayed them with a plastic clear coat.  Glued to the hard cardboard backing with silicone tub caulk, then sealed with the dog tags, collar, and chewie.

Her original leash is behind my bedroom door with her harness on a hook.  That is its place.  I see it whenever I run the vacuum cleaner, which is frankly not often enough.

Lettie is still here, in spirit.  She has her place.  She had a rough start and the trip here was not easy.   She was Yet Another Owner Abandonment.  That happens far too often with high energy and intelligent breeds like the Mostly McNab Mix that she was.  She spent six months in a rescue in North Dauphin, PA, near Harrisburg.  I was told "watch her, she's feisty and has a lot of energy".  That energy would serve her well.   All the way to her last day and that last moment when she looked up at the indignity of the first shot.

Settling down to sleep at my feet, to this day is the view I have in my mind when I look at those square tiles on the floor, even one year later.

Goodbye old friend.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pat's Pile of Pretzel Rolls

I actually have written about these before.

I'm revisiting this because my sister, Pat, up in beautiful Cherry Hill, NJ, the home of the water tower at Kresson Road, the Turnpike, and I-295 wanted to see them.

A refreshing refresher.

Here's the deal.

Making bagels and pretzels are pretty simple.

First, you make a dough.  I normally use Pat's Pizza Dough for the pretzels and pretzel rolls.

For bagels, I prefer a Challah recipe, which I have here. Don't forget the raisins, they're wonderful in this recipe.

The trick is that you have to par-boil these beasts before you bake them normally.  The parboiling will give the crust that you're looking for.

To a large pot of water add 4 to 6 cups of water.   For each cup of water, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda for pretzels or 1 tablespoon of molasses for bagels.

Bring the pot of water to a boil.   The water will boil quicker than usual and the additives will make quite a bit of foam on top that may not go away right off.   So you will want to turn down the heat and stir until this stuff that looks like sea foam gets dispersed, mostly.

Here's the problem with these pretzel rolls.   If you want a "roll" texture, you want a nice fluffy well risen roll of dough.  Start with 80 grams of dough, about 2 3/4 ounces.   Allow it to rise fully - about two hours at a "normal room temperature". 

When you go to parboil your dough ball, it may deflate or fall.   Boil each dough ball for 30 seconds per side, then remove it and place it on your cookie sheet to bake.

How do you make sure you get a nice fluffy dough ball into the pot of boiling water?

I have a lot of trouble with this one.   The dough will stick to your cookie sheet since it has risen and pushed some of the corn meal out of the way.   It will stick to baking parchment.  It will stick to a silpat silicone sheet.  If you flour the sheet, it will stick.   If you cornmeal the sheet it will stick.  If you try to remove the dough ball with a spatula, it will stick.  It will stick to your fingers when you go to pull them up and it will stick to your fingers when you drop them into the boiling water.

Don't burn your fingers.  You have been warned.

I simply have not found a way to reliably get the dough that has fully risen until it is about the size of a medium orange or a baseball into that water without it at least partially falling.

If you look closely, really closely, at that picture, you'll notice that the rolls are all flattened somewhat.

The traditional bagel and soft pretzels you are used to eating are not "fully risen", and I think it is a plot!  Since you have to remove them from the sheet, you want to have them deflate as little as possible.  Solution?  Don't let them rise as much so the gluten hasn't stretched out.  Partially risen dough will hold together better.

So you get a chewier baked good as a result by not allowing it to rise quite as much.   It will be denser as a result.

These do taste good whether risen or not.  In fact they're excellent with ham, sharp cheese, and a strong mustard, or just with cream cheese and cherry jelly.

They're just not "fluffy".

I'll work on that and let you know.  I may just have to accept defeat and not have really fluffy pretzel rolls.

But next time, I'll try both flour and corn meal and really dust the daylights out of that cookie sheet!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

You Choose - Buy a Miracle Whisk From A Hawker or Buy Online For A Third

One of those chores we all do.  Walk through a large market picking up things you can't do without. 

We stepped in the BJ's in Fort Lauderdale and immediately heard someone blathering about some promotion.  I responded with telling the PA Announcer to "Shut Up".  Really!  You just don't need someone loud on those things, and other than a public emergency I really don't see why they are needed at all.

No worries.  I walked past the high profit items near the doors like TVs and Stereos with a chuckle.   Ok, sometimes those high profit items aren't all that bad a price, but stores always put the impulse items near the doors.  Just how many TVs do you need in a two bedroom house anyway?

That announcement again.  Some nonsense about a Miracle Whisk and how it is supposed to be MY! BJ'S! WHOLESALE! CLUB!

Yeah, get back to me on that one, if it really is mine, I'll take my profits and sell the thing.

More impulse items in store, although I did take a long look at wiper blades.   Having a Jeep means that you never can find blades.   I use a 13 inch blade for the front window, and most cars start at 16 inches and up.  I noted the price and kept on moving.  I probably would have grabbed one of those had they had it but there just aren't that many 2002 Jeep Wranglers in the area to drive demand. 

Mental note, check online.  I won't have to use gas to buy the thing in that case.

We keep going.   I grab a bottle of "My Port Wine" and some clothing items and round the corner to the outdoor stuff.   It's South Florida, you just need pool salt any time of the year.  We're a different market than where BJ's is headquartered, and for that matter, all those big department stores.   There used to be Burdines where you could get stylish clothes that made sense when you are running Air Conditioning in December.  Now it's Macy's who is trying to convince me that I need to dress for New York City weather.

Nope.  Just nope.  Sorry, Macy's, you just aren't The Florida Store!

We're laughing at the pool equipment when all the sudden we're stopped by the source of all of those announcements.

"Hey we're having a raffle and it's starting in 5 minutes, here's a ticket-come-on-down!-you-mightwinsomethinggreat!"

He was speeding up as he got to the end to get us in there before we lost interest.  Then he left in a gust to hand out more "raffle tickets Thankyouverymuch!".

With a laugh I was being told that under no circumstances would we do this if we had to watch a presentation. 

I overruled that.  We were here, he was starting at the end of this aisle, and who knows it might be fun.

These hawkers all have a rap, a patter.   It's a case of showing you a product that you may or may not have a need for.  In this particular case it is a "Miracle Whisk".  Now being a baker, and a pretty good cook, I do have a whisk.  I hate using the thing.   I can whip cream to a stiff peak, and have made meringue with it, but it really is tiresome.  Much easier to use the stand mixer and a little of FPL's finest electricity.

I watched this guy pour some ice cold non fat milk into a flat bottom glass measuring cup and with about 10 seconds of effort make a passable whipped cream.  It may have had a little help mixed in, I don't know, but he did make the whipped cream.  If it really does work, that would be worth it.   Whipped cream is rather nice on some of the baked goods that I make.

*shake that thought out of my head*

I'm thinking anything more than $10 it's not worth it.

$20.  But wait there's more!

The end of the schpiel came.  Pay $40 and you get two regular sized plus a mini whisk. 

Yeah, I'll pass.   So did I win?   Nope.  A pre-teen kid got the ticket.  He got mom to get the prize of a 25 dollar dinner invite.  A couple people sprung for the Big Bargain Bag.  Let's go!

It was amusing, and well worth watching someone squirm about being in a demo for a product that we just didn't need.

I went through the rest of the store getting things we did need and pretty much forgot about the Must Have Kitchen Gadget of the Year!!!

Laughing about the experience, I managed to get home and forget entirely about the Magic Miracle Whisk!  Now with extra whipped cream until lately.

I was going through some of my regular online routine when I saw my old friend.  The Miracle Whisk.  It was on sale for $7.  I have to admit, for $7 I considered it. 

Now $7  is a lot better than the $20 for one the hawker was selling them for so I decided to search.

How is a low of $.20 in bulk?  An upgraded Silicone version for $1.20 in bulk.  In RED! Oooh, Red!

$7 is the going price online.

What did I take away from this story?   I had a lot of chuckles out of the affair.  It also shows me why "stores" are doomed.  With "traditional" malls closing due to people not showing up for many reasons, and Brick and Mortar stores having entertainment like these hawkers selling things at triple the price on line, why bother?

I make it a point to be well informed, and I shop heavily online.  It's more convenient, better priced, and I can do it sitting in my comfy chair.  If someone wants to sell me something new and improved that I have not ever had before, I have been trained to look online while thinking of it.  Impulse shopping for things like Miracle Whisk or Wiper Blades are just not done. 

After all, you have to pay for those bricks and all that mortar.

The best way that can be combated by traditional stores is to match online prices.  If you can't compete, you're a dinosaur.  Just ask any mall retailer.

I haven't gotten that Miracle Whisk.  May not.  Probably not.  My house is chock full of kitchen gadgets.  But the entertainment value was well worth standing there and watching people debate whether to stick around or not.  I certainly got a chuckle out of it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

February Flowers in April

Lets see what is wrong with my doing this today?

It's April and the picture is from February.

Today is the last day of life for Windows XP and I should be doing a Rant about that. 

Never mind that, I'm bored with Windows XP and all my machines that had it are running Linux or Windows 7.

Actually the thing is that I do take a lot of pictures.  A friend who got me into photography back in the days of the Film Camera, said always take two pictures so you can choose the best.   Sometimes I take many more than that on one subject then use Photoshop or just a judicious crop to get the best view.

It may look like a bunch of colorful weeds, but it is a bunch of Florida Native Flowers plus one butterfly.  I did take the picture back in early February in M.E. DePalma Park here in Wilton Manors and wasn't quite sure what to do with it.

I set that picture aside and put up more traditional ones.  Took more to illustrate something else like baking or computer repair.  But this one kept saying "Send Me In Coach". 

That's me.  Coach.  So, today it spoke.

One afternoon over the weekend I brought it up and made it go full screen.  Immersed in the view on the big monitor I waited.  Played with the crop.  I exposed and underexposed the picture.   I left it sit in Photoshop overnight and returned the next day.  Then I looked at just the butterfly.  Maybe the red flowers.

I realized it made me content just to look at the flowers over the last two months so I thought I would just share it as is.  Contentment is important.  Anyone who has ever taken yoga understands that well, and it is so fleeting in this society where people think it is normal to be driving a car over the yellow line of the road while texting.

Luckily it's nearby and available.  Even with my old and banged-up "Hobby Grade" camera, I can get results when you have models like this little butterfly to pose for you.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Since Windows XP "Dies" Tomorrow - Hit Windows Update Today

Consider this a Public Safety announcement to my friends and readers that see this today. 

Tomorrow is the big day.  Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP unless you are the US or UK government or some other organization that pays for extended support.  This may change, but better to be safe than sorry.

Today I went in and checked and there was an update for my Windows 7 computer, a new definition for my anti-virus program.  Since I use Microsoft Security Essentials, which is built in to Windows 8 and 8.1 and available for download on Windows 7 like me, and Windows Vista - and TODAY ONLY on Windows XP, it was there.

In fact I did a "double windows update" just to be sure and there was a second definition update for Microsoft Windows Essentials.  So I installed it.

You people still running Windows XP will may not be able to get it tomorrow, even though Microsoft says that they will provide updates for a "limited time" for XP.

The rest of us are fine.

Why the rush?  I'm saying "Better Safe Than Sorry".  You just don't know what happens when someone does something major.  The whole Year 2000 bug was one of those things.  It wasn't a major problem because so many people worked so many hours to make sure it would be nothing.

With Windows, you hit the start button and look for the Windows Update link on your start menu.

It is also in your Control Panel, if you can't find it on the start menu.  Windows 8 and 8.1 will have to go into their start page and find control panel themselves.  It will drop you onto the old school Desktop and then launch Control Panel.

Very sloppy, Microsoft.  Very Schizophrenic design.  You could have done better.  Try again.

Oh wait, you just announced that you did.  You're bringing the start menu back.  Good boy, now go sit back at your desk and give me that nasty Dunce Cap.

Really... tsk tsk tsk.

I suspect that basically they're throwing a bone to people and saying that they will make their new Windows 8.1 work like their older windows simply because so many people disliked Windows 8 and 8.1.  As of this weekend more people were still running Windows XP than there were running Windows 8 and 8.1 together.  Windows 7 has the largest market share.

Now, if we could only convince them to make Internet Explorer go away - or at least be faster.  I swear sometimes it takes a minute just to repaint the page that I had up on it when I clicked Minimize let alone go for the next link and I have an i7 computer.