Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Frenchman and The Englishman

The Frenchman and the Englishman

One day a Frenchman saw an Englishman having breakfast at a cafe. He decided to have some fun with him.
"Hey buddy," the Frenchman said as he approached the Englishman.

The Englishman ignored him, and continued to eat his bread.

The Frenchman pops some gum into his mouth and takes a seat opposite the Englishman.

"Do you eat the bread crust in England?" The Frenchman asks, chewing his gum.
"Yeah." The Englishman replies.
"Well in France we don't. We melt the crust down, turn it into bread and sell it to England."
The Englishman ignores him and starts to spread jam in his bread.

"You take jam with your bread?" The Frenchman says and blows a bubble.
The Englishman grumbles back, "yes."
The Frenchman smiles and says, "Well in France we squeeze the juice outta the berries, then melt the skins down into jam and sell them to England."
The Englishman rolls his eyes. By now he was annoyed by the Frenchman's snide attitude and the blowing of his bubblegum.

He asks the Frenchman," do you have sex in France?"
The Frenchman blows another bubble and grins," heck yeah we do."
"And do you throw away the condoms after you're done?"
The Frenchman gives a confused look," of course we do!"
The Englishman tells him," well in England we don't. We melt down the used condoms, then pass it off as gum and sell them to France."

Friday, May 30, 2014

What Do You Do At 4:30AM When You Have House Guests?

The first thing I saw was a black nose.   I didn't know it was a nose, I just knew it was in my face and in my left eye.

I opened the other one just for good measure.

Having stirred in my sleep, I awoke my dog.  He returned the favor by awaking me.

Seeing the clock glowing the hour of stupid O'Clock in a brilliant teal, I tried to convince myself that getting out of bed at 4:30 in the morning was not a good idea. 

That lasted for all of about 15 minutes.

Rack had settled onto the cool terrazzo next to the bed.  I rolled over, draped my left arm down and began giving him some well earned belly rubs.  If you can't get back to sleep, you may as well make someone feel good whether that someone has two legs or four.

He flattened out and splay his legs to the four cardinal points of the compass.  Amazing how flexible a herding dog can be at times, as his muscles relaxed and contracted under my hand.  By the time I gave sleep a second shot, he was turned into something resembling a canine pretzel in the predawn gloom.

I rolled back over and pulled the covers up with a groan.  5:00am.

Closing my eyes, I entered that semi sleep state that we all are annoyed with.   Too early to get up, too late to fall asleep, I knew that it was going to be a long day or perhaps a longer day than normal.

Watching the night draw to a close through the inside of my eyelids, I pretended to ignore the flashes.  My mind hadn't completely shut down, nor had it completely rebooted to full speed, but I did realize that it would be a good idea to haul my own bulk out of bed and get going.   Dog walks are a logistical problem when you have 45 pounds of bouncy active black and white fur covered muscle that simply wants nothing to do with the storm that was dousing Dania and Hollywood, and surrounding my house on three sides.

I had to call Rack three times simply to get him out of hiding.  Him being in the bedroom next to me is one thing, having to go for a walk in that nonsense was another.  Didn't his human realize that being out in a Florida Thunderstorm was dangerous?  Didn't he have the common sense to be afraid?  Didn't he realize that walking wet was unpleasant?

Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Doesn't matter.

It was a choice of getting out into the wet or getting out the mop and cleaning up the wet because it became too much of a wait.

Rack finally listened to my bellowing Come Here! and at 5:30 and we began to suit up for the weather.  He was vibrating.  I'm used to him being fearful, but this would take a bit more coaxing than usual.  I managed to get the collar on and felt him shivering.  It was more of a constant vibration with muscles moving in a sinusoidal motion under the black fur.  The white parts moved as well but you can't see those in the morning gloom.

Fla-BOOM went the weather.  No sounds yet from the rain.

After pulling Rack to me three more times, I managed to get the harness on, double locked to the collar, and around his belly.   We were on our way.

There's a rhythm to the city you get at this time of morning.   People were just getting up, and true to form, I was able to get out before most of them.  The street was dark, but way off in the distance, the approaching 5:45 out of Miami was coming up the FEC corridor

Yes, I heard a train, but this time it was a real train and not an approaching weather front.   We would be able to get the majority of the walk in unscathed.  I didn't even have to open the umbrella.  To call it an umbrella was a bit unfair.  It was a golf sized purple and black carbon fibered weapon against torrents.  Exactly what you need in Florida since lightning can strike 10 miles away and the airport was only 8.

We started walking.  Rack's breath was more like a panting.  He was doing his impression of a steam locomotive.

Rack, you sound like the Hooterville Cannonball, Easy!  We could still stop in the Shady Rest, I hear Kate is serving up a roast with sauerkraut, biscuits and gravy, and fresh made pie!

Not even an ear perk.  I wasn't going to be in control even if the rain was far enough away not to even drip on my arms.  But that pie sounded good.  Never did get Biscuits and Gravy that morning.

We walked around the neighborhood and out to The Drive.  It was unproductive but fast.  I was being pulled around the block at a marching pace.  The Train had gone through and the parrots were arguing with the rain that hit them from above.  Contrary to my own Oscar, these feral cherry headed amazons didn't want to be knocked around before six in the morning by atmospherics. 

They were quieted down for a moment by the same lightning strike that hit south of us and left a purple afterglow on the retinas for another minute or three.

Air conditioning compressors were roaring loud enough to drown out some of the other noises, and join in with the rain that was just beginning.  Toads in the sewers making a racket would join them.  

Still no Train Approaching sound that meant Duck and Cover.   We walked through the parking lot.  Rack was well out at the end of the leash stretching my right arm an extra inch or three.  I had my shoulder wrenched as we rounded the last corner near the house.

Not so fast, boy, you're not finished.

We did our block again.  Just as he began The Dance, the rain hit.  Hard.  Golf Umbrella deployed we walked home in the gloom.  Alone with the weather, even the parrots were silent.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is Yogurt Dog Approved? Of Course! How About Some Other Ffoods?

My old dog, Lettie, was never fussy with food until she got quite old.  I used Yogurt to wake up her taste buds for a while.  She'd tear into it with a puppy like energy and really seem to enjoy the stuff.

Rack, my year and a half old Mc Nab Dog, has always been fussy with food.   So I tried the yogurt trick with his food.  Big surprise, he prefers his food with a bit of yogurt on top.

I got the old Doubletalk recently.  The question was: Since Cheese is not a good idea and milk is just a bad idea for a dog, why yogurt?

It turns out that Yogurt brings its benefits to aid digestion.

Pretty much the same reason why you should be eating the stuff is the reason why your dog could use yogurt in their diet. 

Assuming that you're not giving the dog massive doses of yogurt, only a tablespoon or two are recommended for your dog, it may help with some of your dog's more annoying dietary byproducts.

The rule is simple.  Plain yogurt, no sugars, definitely no artificial sweeteners like splenda, and you'll be fine.

What it does give your dog, and you, are a healthy payload of "probiotic benefits".  Good bacteria as well as some extra calcium and protein.  So make sure that the yogurt you feed your dog has Active Cultures or Live Cultures. 

If you don't have live cultures, give that brand a miss.  You're basically eating pudding.  Pudding may be nice, but it doesn't bring many benefits to the table for you or your dog.

If you make your own, you are guaranteed to have the right stuff at a fraction of the price.  I make about a quart of yogurt a week. The recipe is simple.  Warm your milk to just below boiling, allow to cool to lukewarm (105F/40C or less) and add a tablespoon or so of active culture yogurt to the now cooled milk.  Stir vigorously and allow the mix to "brew" on the counter in a warm area for a day or two until it sets.  Cool and serve.  No weird machines, no trips to the store, and you can use your old yogurt to make new yogurt. 

My own yogurt recipe is linked here, and there's a jar of the stuff I just put into the refrigerator the morning I wrote this piece.

If you're making your own, you can use any kind of milk you prefer.  Skim or 1% is best, since everyone benefits from less fat in their diet, and that includes your furry best friend.

While you are considering tweaking your dog's diet, you can also introduce some specific dog safe fruits and vegetables instead of those pre-packaged treats.  Dogs can eat blueberries, bananas, apple slices, and melons.  Some raw vegetables that I have found are safe are carrots which are great raw to keep their teeth clean, zucchini slices, green beans, and frozen peas.   All of those vegetables are low in calories and help with keeping a pudgy dog more fit and definitely more regular with all that dietary fiber.

You can even slip in some oatmeal to the dog's diet.  Oatmeal is great for humans for the same reason.  Soluble dietary fiber will cleanse your arteries and lower cholesterol.  It will aid in digestion, and your dog will love it too.  Just be careful not to give yourself a payload of extra sugar that you both don't need.  Try serving it with fruit and fruit juice instead of milk.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bill, Why Are You Eating Mangoes in the Laundry Room?

It all started with a hello.

More like a couple hundred hellos.

I was safe with the first course.  I guess Biscuits and Gravy wasn't interesting or he was just distracted.

Rack, my dog, doesn't really care.  He knows that typically I will stand at the kitchen sink or sit at the small table in the kitchen and stare out of the windows while stuffing my face.   Once through, he may get something if he doesn't beg.   He will go to the backdoor and stare at me through the glass into the kitchen and go out to water the plants and sniff the dog on the other side of the double fence.  Besides I'm not having yogurt today.  That's when Rack gets insistent and I eat all of my food under cover.

It usually gives me time to have the majority of breakfast.

Oscar, on the other hand, is weird.

My parrot has realized that me in kitchen means food.  Food can be in a bowl or on a plate.  He's starting to realize that I'll give him something just so he will shut his beak.

Hello in a shrill little girl voice repeated can be quite obnoxious especially when repeated at a volume that reminds me of my neighbor's motorcycle.

On the other hand, it is Mango Season, so I can't completely blame him.  I have had the first harvest of these sweet orange fleshed sugar bombs and am wondering when I can get the next one from the tree.  That tree is a neighborhood gift.  The owner doesn't eat mangoes so we pick the fruit so it doesn't fall from the sky. 

A two pound mango falling from the skies can leave quite a dent when accelerating at 32 feet per second squared.   Two seconds from the top of that 60 plus tree.  Pick with a long pole, and don't stand under the fruit.

It just got weird in the kitchen.  I did tell him that he shouldn't be begging for what I had.  Really I did.  It's just too strange when a parrot is begging for a piece of egg salad sandwich. 

No, Oscar, this is your cousin from Maryland.  Eggs are not good for birds.

Second course had him fully warmed up, repeating Hello constantly.

I sliced up 12 ounces and set aside the broad flat pit.  It's a deal, Oscar, you get the skin and a block of the fruit, plus the pit and some more orange flesh.  That should keep you quiet for a bit.

Walking to the cage, I open the door with sticky hands.   Orange drops of mango juice hit my right foot and splatter on the recently cleaned floor.  I'll have to mop that up, it will only be the second time today that the floor gets attention. 

Oscar's eyes pin.  The pupils shrink down to almost invisible.  His excitement is obvious.  I put the skin and the pit on the paper in the bottom of the cage commenting "I hope this shuts you up for a while".

Grabbing the bowl, I take my mango into the laundry room and finish it while looking at the video feed from the security camera systems.  The night speeds by in a few segments where cars pass by the house in the wee hours.  No, nothing strange happened, and it really is a safe neighborhood.  The strangest thing that happened overnight was a moth that tried to mate with the camera over my Jeep.  No cats to catch and rehome, no dogs lost, no weird neighbors having a party at 3AM.

At least for now, the neighborhood is quiet.

My mind flashes to the week.  I'm having house guests so I have to make bread.   Sourdough rolls take a longer rise time so I have to make the pre-ferment.  Add everything but two cups of flour to the standard recipe, then let it sit for a half hour.  If I see action in the mix, it will rise, if not add yeast.

Adding the sourdough starter to the bread machine's bucket I hear it as I feed Mother for her trip back to the refrigerator.


Bloody freaking hell... Oscar you have had enough, eat your mango!

Add sugar, oil, salt, lukewarm water...

Hello, Hah Hah Hah!

No Oscar, you don't want this!

A cup of flour, press start to mix the pre-ferment and walk out of the kitchen.

Oscar stops.   Just like a light switch.  Life goes quiet and back to the routine.  Late 90s Pop playing on the internet radio and the clock ticking loudly in the background.  Back to normal.

Except... time to add those two cups of flour...


It's going to be a noisy day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Nice Thing About A Dry Spell

As Sophia would say on the Golden Girls:

Picture it.
South Florida.  A weekend in Late May 2014. 

We were out having a cookout this weekend.  Of course.  It's pretty much required. 

There was a varied menu.  For four people, one nosy dog, and a grouchy parrot, we had a table leveler of a meal.

What's a Table Leveler?  So much food that the table won't rock on the long leg, of course!

The corn had been soaked in the husk and grilled on the grill.  Three sides of the grill had some yellow sweet corn surrounding it, you know they're ready when the outer leaves begin to turn dark brown or even a little charred.

The burgers had just come off the grill and are sitting inside on the counter. 

Large "vat" of baked beans were cooling from Volcano Hot in the kitchen.

There were two types of Baked Potatoes:  With or Without Dill.  Still in foil, they would join the rest of the food when serving time came.

I was outside with my neighbor, Bill.  His mom Lisa was indoors in the cool.  Kevin was making sure the final preparation was done by pulling the Cherry Cobbler Pie out and placing it on the cooling rack on the room divider.

We were grilling Bill's favorite cut of steak, DelMonico steaks.  They looked like little Filet Mignon steaks with fat marbling throughout.  They had had 5 minutes per side, and since they were thick I was testing them to make sure that they were done.  I was shooting for 150F, Medium Rare.

After 10 minutes of intermittent hovering, they hadn't gotten finished cooking so I was standing next to the grill obsessing.

Kevin came out for the burgers and the corn, then left for the cool of indoors.

Bill and I were standing out in the yard next to the grill. 

I was on guard as usual.  Looking for the girls.  Grills and Girls.  One makes the food, the other makes you the food.

The Girls were uninvited Guests.   Usually I carpet bomb the yard with canned poison to raid them out of their homes.  They don't belong in my life in any way, shape, or form.

The Girls were the swarms of Mosquitoes we get here.

Snowbirds staying at the beach don't usually get them because it's too salty right there, but I am two and a quarter miles inland. 

The thing is that where I was standing I wasn't being bothered.   I am usually watching very closely to make sure that I'm not getting bit because I have "Sweet Blood".  Whatever it is that a Mosquito likes, I make it.  She's going to home in on me, and the biters are always "She", and try to make a meal out of my ankles, or any other part of my body. 

I was in Jeans and a dark grey T Shirt, so I closed the lid and moved under the Lanai.  There are normally more mosquitoes there since the neighbor's Air Conditioning Unit drains into their side yard, and our irrigation system waters the Bougainvillea every day.

But nothing.  Sure, it was the warm part of the day, but I have never been On The Lanai without having to watch.


It has been about two weeks since the ducks were using my swale as an impromptu bathtub in the last rains that flooded the streets.  Now it's dry, and the dogs are sniffing the pavement for Garbage Truck Goo as we walk the neighborhood.  A frequent rain in the almost tropics keeps the dust down and washes the Goo into the grass, so if the dogs are sniffing the pavement, it has been a while.

But I, The Mosquito Hunter, have been unaffected by my little girls.  It has been a while since the last bite.

I can tell just how dry it is.  If I go on the East side of the pool, I don't get clouds of my children following me - even next to the row of plant pots that are there.  The West side of the yard has a large hedge along it of Night Blooming Jasmine.  The hedge on the East side has Podocarpus - Japanese Yew to their friends.  Both hedges get watered daily with misters and drip feed irrigation to save water.  Step too close to the hedges and ... There they are!

It has gotten so dry that the mosquitoes will retreat to the hedges during the day even with 225 pounds of tasty Moose walking around the yard. 

Since there are going to be workers back there I'll resort to chemical warfare in a can.  Once the sun came up I had an excuse to spray insecticide through the hedges, in the pots and underneath where the hedges are moistest.  I might just be able to be unscathed. 

It was nice to have a little freedom while making a steak.  I wouldn't want to make the mistake of thinking this is an ongoing thing.  After all, while it is an El Nino, it's only a tendency toward dry and cool and that is relative.

Just like the girls.  Relative.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day


Memorial Day.  

It has become a day to sit out and have a cookout here in the US, think about your veterans, perhaps do some more.

In this day of the Internet, stories get flung around about things, and of course there's always a varied degree of truth to the stories.   Some of the most outrageous ones are the political and truth there is rarely the object of the story, it exists as a call to action to get people to agree with a cause.

One of the stories was a romantic retelling of the origin of Memorial Day.  It gave me pause and a reason to do a little bit of research.  Since people have been remembering their fallen for as long as there have been people, this idea of a day of remembrance isn't new, but the way we did it was new and unique to America.

The story goes that former slaves reburied dead Union Prisoners of War in May 1865 in Charleston, SC and held a cemetary dedication ceremony.  They had a celebration that led 3000 black schoolchildren who marched around the grounds decorating them with flowers and setting aside the land at a race course behind a whitewashed fence which was consecrated with an official dedication ceremony conducted by the ministers of the black churches in Charleston.  This was the same city where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor, seemingly coming full circle.

That happened.   It didn't create a national Memorial Day holiday, but it is a wonderful story.  The implication was that these freed black slaves were grateful to their liberators that they spontaneously did this act in order to honor their release. 

There was an event around the same time that started in Waterloo, NY in the summer of 1865 with a local druggist suggesting to his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living Civil War veterans was great, it would be well done to remember the war dead by placing flowers on their graves.  As with most good ideas, this was a false start, but on May 5, 1866 the city was decorated and flags flown at half staff in a sign respect.  This happened again next year and by 1868 Waterloo joined in with the Grand Army of the Republic's observance on May 30th.

The original holiday was created three years later when the Commander in Chief of the Union Veterans Organization called the "Grand Army of the Republic" established Decoration Day as a day of remembrance and a day to decorate the graves of the fallen.  The date was picked as May 30 since it was late enough in the year to allow flowers to bloom all over the country.  Everyone will then have a chance to participate.

The timing of the two events coincided to allow the holiday of remembrance to continue and build steam.   It became a national event through time, and official in New York State on March 7, 1966.  The US House and Senate passed the concurrent resolution recognizing the birthplace of Memorial Day as Waterloo, NY on May 17 and 19th of 1966.  President Lyndon B. Johnson signed that proclamation on May 26, 1966.

While the trauma of the Civil War faded, the need to honor those who kept us free hasn't.  However you do celebrate it, have a happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Goat and the Horse

The Goat and the Horse

There was a farmer who had a horse and a goat.

One day, the horse became ill and he called the veterinarian, who said: Well, your horse has a virus. He must take this medicine for three days. I'll come back on the 3rd day and if he's not better, we're going to have to put him down.

Nearby, the goat listened closely to their conversation.

The next day, they gave him the medicine and left.
The goat approached the horse and said: Be strong, my friend. Get up or else they're going to put you to sleep!

On the second day, they gave him the medicine and left.
The goat came back and said: Come on buddy, get up or else you're going to die! Come on, I'll help you get up. Let's go! One, two, three...

On the third day, they came to give him the medicine and the vet said: Unfortunately, we're going to have to put him down tomorrow. Otherwise, the virus might spread and infect the other horses.

After they left, the goat approached the horse and said: Listen pal, it's now or never! Get up, come on! Have courage! Come on! Get up! Get up! That's it, slowly! Great! Come on, one, two, three... Good, good. Now faster, come on... Fantastic! Run, run more! Yes! Yay! Yes! You did it, you're a champion!!!

All of a sudden, the owner came back, saw the horse running in the field and began shouting: It's a miracle! My horse is cured. We must have a grand party. Let's Cook the goat!!!!

Lesson: Management never knows which employee actually deserves the appraisal.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Badly Speeding Girl Gets Stopped By A Cop

A Badly Speeding Girl Gets Stopped By A Cop

When he asks to see the papers for the car she replies "oh, it is not my car. I don't know about them..."
He makes a mental note and asks for the drivers license "oh, I don't have one"
He is confused and asks "then why are you driving, no, speeding, with a car that does not belong to you, without a driving license?"
She replies "because I have a dead body in the trunk that I need to get rid of"
The cop immediately pulls his gun. His heart is racing and he feels he needs backup before anything else. He calls in for backup "...girl... probably stolen car... no license... dead body in trunk... BACKUP NOW!"

Short time later a seasoned cop shows up. The new guy, still pointing his gun on the girl to his side, he proceeds to ask the girl for the car papers. She slowly produces them. They seem in order. He then asks for her drivers license. Again, slowly, she produces them, all in order. The cop now asks for the trunk to be opened. She opens the trunk. It is empty. The seasoned cop is confused and asks the girl: "Why in hell did my college radio me and reports you as driving a stolen car, without license, transporting a dead body, when clearly this is not the case?"

She replies: "I don't know. He must be lying. Next thing, he will claim I was speeding!"

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is It Me Or Is Everyone Updating Computers These Days?

The short of it is that since you're reading this on a computer go and do your system's update.

Windows almost always has updates.
Mac OSX has one for Safari for the supported operating systems.

Even my Linux system needed it, but that's normal when you have 1500 projects updated by probably as many different groups of people.

What got me started on this was that this morning before sunrise when I started the main computer, I saw a "helpful" yellow text show up on Windows.  It was warning me that there was an important update available.

I've gotten so that Windows seems to be the Boy That Cries Wolf, but ok let's check.  Definition Update for Windows Defender.   It's a built in virus scanner in Windows 8 and above.  It's the love-child of the old Microsoft Security Essentials.  I've used it for quite a few years now, and while I trust it, I have grown to expect a message telling me to update.

Since it is Windows, it is the operating system everyone seems to like to attack.   More ways than one, I'm afraid.

I installed that particular update, and since it didn't demand a restart of the system, I shrugged and got on with my business.

I also have a Linux machine, two actual laptops, and a number of virtual machines, so just for giggles, I thought I'd check.  172 updates on Linux, but that's not a shock.  With Linux, avoiding viruses is easy, just go to a known repository and use their software - in Windows terms, only use Windows Update and don't install from an unknown source.

That doesn't help with backdoors, and that is what the Heartbleed bug was last month.  Someone had found a backdoor into the software and everyone needed to change passwords.

You did change your password didn't you?

It went on its happy way, and I realized that I had a couple other virtual machines that needed attention.  Since they're all lightly used, they'll get it when I run them.  Virtual Web Servers and the like.

Even Apple has gotten in the mix of it all, since they want an update to their browser.  Part of being popular I guess, and that means that iPhones will probably need it too.

I know for a fact that my Android phone needs an update, but that's a very different thing.  It's a very old version of Android that's named Gingerbread, on a very old phone, relatively speaking.  Even the "alternate ROMs" don't support this phone fully.  Not to mention the software that I installed through Google Play needs updates.  Since I don't actually want Facebook on my phone, I tend to ignore things like that.

So if you got this far, go find out how to update your Windows Computer (Start, Windows Update), Apple Computer (Apple Menu) and Linux Computer (Software Update or Synaptic or "apt-get update") and watch the pretty thermometers go.

Now, if you will excuse me, my Linux Virtual Computer says Restart is Required.  Strange that Windows didn't need it, but Linux did... Never mind that, time to restart!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sunset in Wilton Manors

Oooh Pretty!

Pause that TV for a bit please?

Because, look out the front window.

At the sunset, that's why!

I may not have a digital SLR but I can make my camera do something nice once in a while.  What's even more surprising was that my hand was stable enough not to get visible blurring even at the full sized and uncropped original picture.

This was the view from my porch on May 16, 2014 at 7:12 and 10 seconds in the evening to be exact.

I have a love hate relationship with that view.

There's a chair that sits about three feet from the corner.  One yard or meter from the window.  Since this is Florida, the Sunshine State, there are some rather beautiful things that I can see simply by sitting in the recliner and watching the world go by.  I get to see the drama of the neighborhood life, but that is a very different story.  Living near the central business district of Wilton Manors also means that we're entertained by some rather wobbly passers by from time to time. 

On a brilliant, sun filled day, I also get laser beamed from any bright shiny object.  The sun hits the car and it reflects into the house, and finds my eye.   Time to get up and sit in the middle of the living room for a bit, the recliner's covered with light.  You have no idea how bright a house can be when lit by the reflected light off the back of a Ford F150 truck bed cap's back window at just the right time of day.

Every so often, Nature takes you by the hand and has you stop and look.   It's time for you to shrug the requirements of the day off your shoulders and enjoy the view.  Time to forget the human scale of things and return to the natural. 

When it rains, it has its own drama.  After the rain, the clouds will peel silently away from East to West and reveal the skies after. 

Red Skies at night, Photographer's Delight.

Our own Betty will forgive me if I tweak that saying for effect.

If you look at it just in the right angle, you can forget that there are buildings all around you, tall electric wires and phone poles, and the buzz of the city.  For just a bit, you can in your own mind, become one with the setting sun.  Stopping to smell the roses can be beautiful even if the flowers are not in sight.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rack At The Window? Must be Kirby.

There are a few people that my dog, Rack likes.

Let me rephrase it.  There are a very few people that my dog Rack likes.   The rest he's afraid or even terrified of.

We've had him for a bit more than a year now, and I expect that he will always be wary of strangers, even the strangers he sees around the house like neighbors, mailmen, and the dreaded UPS truck.

Not the driver mind you, but the actual truck.  Our normal UPS guy is a real nice guy, and I work to make sure that Rack doesn't develop that Hair Trigger.

Yes, if your dog barks at the window insanely when a leaf moves in the next city, it is your training that needs to be looked at.  

After all the dog thinks:
1) there is a noise, 
2) I bark at the noise, 
3) the noise stopped, 
4) I helped.

No, you silly furball, you didn't help and it's annoying.

So developing the habit of climbing on furniture so they can see outside is not exactly optimum. 

With a fearful dog like mine, I have to watch just how much freedom I can give him.  Not On The Furniture is a rule here.   There are metal bowls on the couch.  My favorite mixing bowl is on there right now, in fact.  If I want to make some cake or pancakes, I have to go to the living room to get it off the couch.

Not whipped cream.  Never whip cream in a metal bowl.  The leftover oils on the metal will make your whipped cream collapse or fail to rise.

But Rack has his favorites.  In fact, some people I wonder if I'm chopped liver over. 

Across the street lives Kirby.  Kirby has a motorcycle.  Motorcycles are loud, but he cuts the motor when he comes onto the block.  Nice guy.  Really he does go out of his way to not be a nuisance.  He also has a "Big Boy Truck".  Giant beast of a black Ford F250 with a giant Diesel motor in it.  While Diesel is the only way to go with a vehicle when you have a choice, they have their drawbacks.

In the case of the big boy truck, it's loud.  Turbocharged loud.   Accelerating that beast down the block up to even the posted 25 means the waste gate will open and the turbo will whistle. 

Does anyone do the speed limit when it's only 25?  Well yes, we tend to here.  We've got old folks, and kids, and no sidewalks.

Anyway, since Rack is terrified of loud noises, I used Kirby to my best advantage.   He doesn't mind, and it worked.  Maybe it worked a little too well. 

Now, every motorcycle is Kirby! and every loud turbodiesel truck is Kirby! and Rack loves them.

Rack is incredibly well behaved inside the house, preferring to hide in the corner behind the big green chair than lay down on the tiles in the main room until after dark.  So it takes a lot to get him going.

The other day he was back in the back of the house minding his own business.  That is to say, we were doing something back there that he decided needed supervision and since all the people were in one room, he was successful in herding them there.

Dog Logic.  It's a sick and twisted thing.

All the sudden ears went up.  I mean UP!  Then he ripped tires moving out of that room.   If you have never seen a herding dog go after something that needed to be herded, this is something to be seen.   Even if it is in your own house, 45 pounds of mostly black dog running for the front room means that you need to go find out what he's up to.

I rounded the corner into the living room muttering to myself "I wonder what got into him?". 

Clearing the lamp on the wall, I see Rack sitting by the window next to the couch, nose up in the air and listening.  His ears don't "perk" completely unless he is excited and I think they were inflated to 40 PSI that day.  Tail wagging quickly on the ground, he was doing a great job of reminding me I needed to run the vacuum today.

Then all the sudden he did it.  He stood up slowly and put his paws on the window well.

Tail had went at that point into super happy fun speed.   There was a disco beat of the tail against the couch at first, then it went into "Uplifting Trance Who's Afraid of 138 BPM" speed.

I saw what was going on.  Kirby was out with Bonus Rottweiler Sauce!  He had just stepped in front of our house with his 165 pound dog, D.O.G.  "Dio" to his friends.  We are definitely his friends.  If you haven't had a giant dog lumber across the street To! Meet! You! and plaster himself against your legs while his "innie" of a tail stump is waggling fast and furious, well you haven't lived!

Never missing a beat, I did the worst thing that I could do when training a dog.  I don't mind him going up onto the window well there, and only there.   Since he is a McNab Dog, I fully expect him to understand the distinction - here but nowhere else.

I fed into the excitement by saying "Kirby! Kirby, Rack, Kirby!".

I swear, Rack is trying to speak.  He isn't at all clear from an "English" standpoint but I heard something that sounded like "bdrdrdrdrdrrrrow row rirrrree".

I watched enough Jetsons cartoon reruns back in my childhood that every dog I ever met, I listen for Astro Speak.  Rut Roh, Roerge!  That sort of thing.   I realize that anthropomorphizing a dog's frenetic vocalizations is a fun game the whole family can play, but it doesn't usually mean anything.

In Rack's case, who knows.  But he does love Kirby, and in this particular case, I would like my chopped liver with onion on some good toasted Jewish Rye, thank you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Frogger, IRL

South Florida, well it's Weird.

You have Ball Pythons in the Everglades acting like giant vacuum cleaners eating the native wildlife.

You have exotic Parrots flying in great noisy flocks that are the multi-great grandchildren of your Aunt Bertha's beloved pet that got released when she moved into The Home.

You have up to six foot Iguanas that will turn your hedges into salads.

At least this creature belongs here.

Sitting in traffic here is better than it is in some other cities.  Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New York all have traffic that makes what we have here a "day at the beach".   It is Fort Lauderdale, after all.

The locals don't take the interstates.   We have our own routes to go from point A to point B.  We also tell you that but we won't tell you which ones to take.

I've been here since 2006 so I'm a local, now.

Federal Highway is our section of US 1.  It goes from Key West, FL, to Fort Kent, Maine.  I've traveled on many sections of it, and I will say that from West Palm Beach to Key West, it's almost always backed up.  Goods may come by truck on I 95, but they have to get off somewhere, and they'll almost always touch US 1 at some point.

So ... avoid it.

But if you have to get somewhere just off of that beast of a road, you'll find yourself sitting at a traffic light watching the goings on.

That lady in the next car putting on lipstick.
The kid texting and forgetting that TXT = RIP.
The old guy smoking a cigar and picking his nose.
Far too many exotic cars for words.


What was that?

I don't know.

Hey look up there!

Those were the thoughts going through our minds when the frog started looking down inside the car.

Here we were, sitting in the middle lane heading south on US 1.  The frog had landed on the East side of the car so that means it had worked its way over five lanes to where our car sat.

Yes, we were playing Frogger, In Real Life.

It was one of my favorite Back In The Day games in the 8 Bit Era, anyway.

We could call it Kermit and ask "Hey you wanna little help?"!

At that point he responded with a simple...


The frog jumped onto the roof of the car.


The frog then got onto the car next to us, then onto the tree near the road. 

Doing our part, folks!  Just doing our part.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Betty, Birthday, Briny's

I knew that today would be a bit off.  Getting up at 4AM means that this afternoon will be a bit draggy, so when I got back from the extra early dog walk, I put up a supply of extra strong iced tea. 

Good for what ails ya!

I wandered out into the predawn gloom and said hello to my neighbor Vern as he went out to pick up his paper. 

Going out into the city, I was mentally scratching my head.  Trying to bootstrap your mind at stupid o'clock simply isn't always successful.

Rack didn't care, we did a lap around town.  He's getting used to his collar and now thinks it's great fun to tow me.  Nope.  Won't work.  I'm too big.

During the dog walk, I tend to let my mind wander free.  My feet are, may as well let my head go.  I didn't have anything pressing to write about, the weekend wasn't terribly exciting.   I did bake a cake, but since it was a mix, it didn't bring anything interesting to the table.

Good cake though, the addition of a moist sheen of cocoa mixed with cake batter gave it an iced look without the extra four hundred thousand calories of buttercream.

Getting back into the house I started to get into the routine.  I walked into the bedroom and saw the picture of Betty and her two friends in the back of Kevin's Mercedes on the rainy day we went to the Dixie Pig for barbecue.  That story was so outrageous, and the picture so good, that I considered writing about it again.

Coming into the Kitchen, I prepared something for the crock pot.  Probably it will be done by lunch since it is so early a start.  I was thinking about Betty's 95th birthday and knew she would appreciate the meal.   Chicken Tikka with Yogurt, Raisins, Corn, Green Beans and either Rice or Quinoa.  She loves spicy food, and Indian is one of her favorites.

Slopping the chicken juice onto my clothes made for an early shower and probably an early laundry.

I walked back into the bedroom and saw the picture collage there.  Mom's professional picture, the view from where my brother in law Mike proposed to my sister, and the picture of Betty and the "Golden Girls".

Settling down at the laptop and looking through the pictures I have here, I realized that I did have something to share. 

Betty does like food, her Italian meals have always been excellent, although I think we could give her a run for her money with the red sauce we have been making lately.  Start with roasted Roma Tomatoes...

One time we took her to Briny's Irish Pub.  It's a mainstay here, and up until the time of the picture, you could always get an excellent Fish and Chips.   We stopped going because the chef changed and the food got less cutting edge and more mass market.  How tough is it to make french fries, really?

As we were sitting there, Betty had an excellent view of the New River.  We watched the Andrews Avenue bridge go up and down a couple times as we had our meal.   As I'm playing with the camera, I placed it on the table and told her to smile.  She looks like an ad for the place.  Showing her the picture in the little 2 inch screen, she squinted and said "Oh no! You can't show that picture! It makes me look like I'm a drunk!".  No, not really it makes you look like you're enjoying yourself, and I think that was a diet soda.   Four years ago, it's a bit difficult to remember what someone else was eating at a meal in a pub.  I'm pretty sure that I went for the fish and chips with a Guinness but I'm predictable that way.

Since I wasn't able to get anywhere near her in New York, the closest being the North side of town over the weekend on a dog walk, it was a subconscious celebration for me.  I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to get back up there at this rate.

Birthday cake, Spicy Chicken, and a Beer for us tonight.   We can't be there, but we can be there in spirit.

Happy Birthday Betty, 95 and counting!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Three Short Jokes: The Illiterate, The Miserly Gift, and In A Bar In New Zealand

You know... I typed in Illiterate wrong every single time!

The Illiterate

A man opens a dictionary, and learns the definition of illiteracy.
Next he opens a thesaurus, and finds he can't read.
Frustrated and depressed, he finally commits suicide.
His family finds him dead in his bedroom.
Next to his body, a blank sheet of paper.

Miserly Gift

A very tight man was looking for a gift for a friend.
Everything was too expensive except for a glass vase that had been broken, which he could purchase for almost nothing. He asked the store to send it, hoping his friend would think it has been broken in transit.

In due time, he received an acknowledgement:
"Thanks for the vase," it read. "It was so thoughtful of you to wrap each piece separately."

In a Bar in New Zealand...

A bloke walks into a bar in New Zealand and orders a shandy. All the Kiwis sitting around the bar look up, expecting to see another Australian visitor.
The barman says, "You aren't from around here, are ya?"
The guy says, "No, I'm from Canada."
The bartender says, "What do you do in Canada?"
The guy says, "I'm a taxidermist."
The bartender says, "A tixidermist? What the hick is a tixidermist? Do you drive a tixi?'
"No, a taxidermist doesn't drive a taxi. I mount animals."
The bartender grins and yells, "He's okay, boys. He's one of us!"

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Couple of Sub Par Jokes

A Couple of Sub Par Jokes

Chris returned home after a long day out on the course. Upon walking through the door, he was greeted by his wife, who asked about his game.

"Oh honey, it was awful," sighed Chris. "Glen- you know Glen; Trish's husband?- he had a heart attack and dropped dead on the second hole."

"My God," gasped his wife, "That's terrible! Oh you poor thing."

"Ay, you're telling me. It was awful. For the whole day it was 'hit the ball, drag Glen. Hit the ball, drag Glen.'"


A golfing couple were playing their routine course one afternoon. Feeling the peace and serenity of the day, the husband decided to confess his most regrettable action during their marriage.

"My dear, a few years back, I had an affair with my receptionist. I fired her shortly after. I'm telling you this because I felt guilty, and I know that you're the only one for me."

She remains silent for the remainder of the hole. The husband fear that his marriage is lost. Suddenly, she begins to speak.

"I too, have something to admit."

"Pray tell," says the husband, "I'm sure it is not as bad as my sins."

"Well," she says, "In the years before we knew each other, I was a man. I've gone through a sex change."



Three men, an avid golf threesome, were considering adding a fourth to their weekly round. That day, a new woman overheard the guys talking about their golf game. She said, "You know, I used to play on my golf team in college and I was pretty good. Would you mind if I joined you next week?"

One of the men said it would be okay, but they would be starting early -- at 6:30 a.m. They figured the early tee-time would discourage her.

The woman said this may be a problem, and asked if she could be up to 15 minutes late.

They rolled their eyes, but said okay.

She smiled and said, "Good, I'll be there at 6:30 or 6:45."

She showed up at 6:30 sharp, and beat all three of them with an eye-opening 2-under par round. Back at the clubhouse, they congratulated her and invited her back the next week.. She smiled, and said, "I'll be there at 6:30 or 6:45."

The next week she again showed up at 6:30 sharp. Only this time, she played left-handed. The three guys were incredulous as she still beat them with an even par round, despite playing with her off-hand. They were totally amazed.

The third week, the guys showed up with a new intensity to win. But this time, she was 15 minutes late, which made the guys irritable. On this day, the women played right-handed, and narrowly beat all three of them.

Back in the clubhouse, all three guys were shaking their heads. They had a couple of beers, and finally, one of the men asked her point blank, "How do you decide if you're going to golf right-handed or left-handed?"

The lady blushed, and grinned. "That's easy," she said.."When my Dad taught me to play golf, I learned I was ambidextrous. I like to switch back and forth. When I got married after college, I discovered my husband always sleeps in the nude. From then on, I developed a silly habit. Right before I left in the morning for golf practice, I would pull the covers off him. If his Wee Duff was pointing to the right, I golfed right-handed; if it was pointed to the left, I golfed left-handed."

One of the guys shot back, "But what if it's pointing straight up?"

She said, "Then, I'm fifteen minutes late."

Friday, May 16, 2014

So Why Am I Supposed To Avoid Gluten?

The Short Answer is that since I don't have a sensitivity, and I don't have Celiac Disease, I don't have any reason to avoid the stuff.

The slightly longer answer is that it's a marketing gimmick for the roughly 99% of people who don't have anything medical going on.   It isn't to say that the other 1% out there who do have trouble don't have a right to want something better to solve their problems, but if you're "normal" in respect to it you are succumbing to yet another food fad that will just make you fat.

Celiac Disease is a state where the body takes gluten, which is a naturally occurring protein, and attacks it as an invader.  This happens in the intestines, and over time it will cause some serious side effects.   But these people are quite rare in respect to the population of about 8 billion.

They do need to watch.  You probably don't.

Will eating Gluten Free hurt you?  Probably only in your wallet or in your taste buds or your waste if you are "normal".

Gluten is a protein that happens when you prepare plant proteins like wheat for use in baked goods like bread.  Kneading will tend to increase the amount of gluten you will find in the "product".  The reason why you might want it is so that the dough will be more stretchy.

That is definitely a plus in bread, not so good in cakes.  There is a special low protein flour that is used in baking cakes and pastries that is used so that you get that nice soft spongy result.  A chocolate cake that stretches isn't really a good thing.  A Kaiser Roll, on the other hand should stretch.

When they take out the offending thing, whether that is gluten, fat, or some other food related "thing" other items will be added back.  Low Fat foods tend to be high sugar as a result.   Gluten Free Products can use a combination of fat and sugar to get the correct-ish mouth feel back.

But I don't have Celiac Disease, and bake breads the way I do because I can.  Actually, I do it because I prefer the taste of a homemade bread, cake, or what have you to just about anything "Mass Market".  There are some amazing commercially available breads and baked goods, for those of us who don't have the interest or time to learn how to bake.

On the other hand, I've gotten so that with about 10 minutes of prep I can make a double batch of rolls.

I just have heard so much about this latest food fad and came to the conclusion that for the vast majority of us, Gluten Free is just going to be the fad of the year.

If you would like a video that explains most of this, I found this one for you.  At least I've finally been able to put my own head to rest on this.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Now I Know Why People Store Passwords On Post-its Under The Keyboard

I have a video.  In retrospect it isn't all that much.  About a minute of my dog romping in the back yard.

I got it off the video camera, reformatted it to the correct size.  HD Video used to be a special thing, but now... even a cheap phone will do better video than we used to get back in the square box days of TV.

Not too long ago, and yeah, get off my lawn.

I grabbed a picture of my dog, and my neighbor's dog Ellie.

Both were a lead-in.  I have done this sort of thing before, professionally.   I may be a bit rusty, but editing video is something I have done since the mid 1990s both professionally and as a hobby. 

I have taken video that I have shot, as well as video created from broadcast sources, and I even made a giant Powerpoint project that I converted to video.  Yeah, you know the one that runs behind the stage to annoy, er advertise companies at a street party?  I did that.

I managed to get the short video, three transitions, four titles, a comment frame, and more, put together and in the right format for the web.

Time to log into youtube.  Oops.  Where's that password?

Wait, the washer was beeping.  It needs to go on another spin cycle anyway.

Back to ... where was I?

Postman arrived... I can ignore that for a little bit.   Let me tweak the titles again, I'm not too happy how things show up in motion.  I'm getting a blur.

Time to render the video again.  Crash.

Windows is demanding a reboot, I can postpone that.

Bring the project back up again.  I think I need to find a better piece of software to do that task, I'm running something from 2003 still.  At least it's not like writing a novel in an extinct word processor and on DOS.

Once I get this render done and uploaded, I'll look into Cinelerra and Ubuntu Studio again.  I have enough Linux machines around me that that shouldn't be a problem.

More distractions, this time the fifth recruiter in the last hour.  Sure, you're from New Jersey.  Right, and I'm living on the Moon...

Ahh, render is done, now back to that old youtube account I have... Ramblingmoose.   What was that password again? 

Fail.  No such luck.  Should have written that thing on the bottom of a Post-it and stuck it on my desk somewhere.  It's not in the emergency file either.

Oh well.   Time to drop back five and kick.   Write about the experience, curse at Google with my best might, and put up the original video of Rack licking peanut butter out of the Kong.  


Wow, that was only a month after I got him? Long time ago...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Strawberry Jam In The Bread Maker Recipe

You are looking at my breakfast.

We hit the warehouse store last night and got four pounds of strawberries.   While I am the person who finished a "flat" of strawberries while driving up I-95 one year from Florida to my home in Philadelphia with a pair of Nanday Conures sharing the fruit, I wasn't planning on eating it in a day.

The recipe is going to eat my bread machine because after the first batch there was a puddle of Strawberry goo in the bottom of it.

Make sure the rubber grommet in the bucket around the shaft is intact and it is water tight!  My very old and well used bread machine lost that grommet years ago.

This solves your having to stand over a hot stove reducing Strawberries and stirring for 30 minutes or more.   Prep time was 10 minutes and it was dead simple.  Of course it was, I finally got to use the bread machine for something other than dough!

Update Note:  Do not double this recipe in the Bread Machine.  Mine is a Hitachi with a vertical bucket.  Model HB-B201.  When I got excited and doubled the batch, the results was a watery glop that I cooked down for 20 minutes at "medium low" on my electric stove.  That would be 3 1/2 to 4 of 8 on the scale.  It cooked down to the "Right" consistency.   After all, fresh is better than mass quantities every day!


  • 9 ounces of Strawberries cut into small pieces
  • 3 ounces granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice


  • Remove stems and leaves from Strawberries and clean them well.  I cut mine into small bits that are smaller than 3/4 inches or 2 cm cubed.
  • Place Strawberry cubes in bucket of Bread Machine.
  • Pour 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice over the strawberries.
  • Pour 3 ounces of Sugar over the strawberries.
  • Mix the ingredients and allow to sit for 3 minutes to draw out some of the juice.
  • Select Jam or Jelly setting on Bread Machine and wait until done.

Alternately, you can add the mixture to a small sauce pan and cook over low to medium heat until your desired texture is achieved.

Yield is about a cup of Strawberry Jam.

The flavor I got on my rye bagel (homemade of course) was an intense Strawberry sweetness.   In fact this was better than just about any store bought Strawberry jelly I have had in a very long time!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flap! Flap! Stealth Little Blue Heron Returns!

When you are out for three one mile walks a day, you spend a lot of time outdoors.

In my case, that's at least an hour in the dark.  Some might say that I am in the dark about a lot of things, but this is real.  I'm up well before dawn when the only people out are leftovers from the bars and the rest of us dog walkers who got up early before the heat.

At night, it's still pleasant out.  My pack and I are out walking all over our part of town.

That night we're out flapping our jaws at each other and watching my dog pretend he's a rabbit in a Disney Movie. 

Sweeping left to right at the end of a six foot long, stout, purple leash, Rack bounces from place to place.  He's a dog that would benefit if I were to take him for a run next to the bicycle or on my inline skates.  Since he's afraid of his own shadow, that simply won't happen.  New is Weird.   Weird is Weird.   Weird is to be avoided by flattening out on the pavement or hiding behind me.

Actually, Weird has to be introduced slowly but constantly.  There just are some Weird things that you have to do in life and you just may enjoy them.  

It's only Weird the first time, and maybe the tenth time.  But eventually Weird can be fun.

Stepping past the car, the lock on the door pops.  Kevin triggered the remote, the lights on the car flash, the locks pop.  I shake my head thinking that's a bit of Automotive OCD.  He does have a point, those remotes can sometimes have a hair trigger and lock or unlock the doors magically.

Since Rack and I were standing next to the car, his reaction was "Oooh!  Ride!  CAR!".  Not like it used to be when Car was Fear, so he is making progress.

"No Rack, Show Me Walk!  Walk!".

Rack's ears drop back down somewhat, he turns and heads down the drive.

Stopping to water the mailbox post and most of the yard boulders that line our parking space, we move into the street and down the block.

There are no sidewalks on our street so flashlights are on the ready.  If the pioneers in their sod homes had one of these flashlights, they would have thought their home was properly lit, but to us, they just make a pool of light to warn people of our presence while we walk in the street on our semi-quiet residential block.

Nobody is out there but us two and Rack and something watching us from the shadows.

Unlike in a big city, we don't have as many street lights as I would prefer.  There are some rather dark areas.  A full moon would help, and I'll schedule that for you every 28 or so days, just hang on a bit.


We move into the shadows as we hear...



What on Earth was THAT?

We couldn't tell.  Rack went on watering the allow wheel of the neighbor's SUV.

"Stop that!  The neighbor won't like you doing that, Boy!"

I get a dopey grin from my dog and a chuckle out of Kevin.

We walk on East toward the end of our neighborhood and toward the beach way over that way beyond.  It gets darker.  The neighbor's post lamps are out.  They're home, I can see something playing on their TV through the sheers and the open blinds.  We're being barked at from inside.


I'm buzzed slightly overhead by a blue grey bird that lands on the wire.   Seeing a bird on the wire about the size of a young beagle watching us, I'm amused.  Our neighborhood has its Little Blue Heron back. 

Oh hello! Silly bird!


He flys off.

"Amazing how loud those wings are when they fly just a few feet overhead!"

We go on about our business.  Walking another two blocks away from the house, Rack finds yet another yard boulder to water when...


"I guess he didn't like us getting too close."

I see this happen fairly frequently lately.  In the dark hours of the early walk, before the hour of coffee arrives, I am out with Rack.  I slowed down to avoid having to deal with springy bouncy dog greetings towards the neighbor's samoyeds, or the two dalmatians.  Rack is not getting his business done.  He's also enjoying the morning, more awake than I am.  He's weaving over toward the street.  This is one of the few blocks where the City has put in sidewalks.   I'm trying to train Rack not to walk on the grass since there are nasty burrs that get in his paws, and neither of us want to go through pulling them out when...


Hi Bird! 


Rack begins to do his dance.  I ready the plastic bags.

Sorry, Bird, I can't stay to talk, it's going to rain soon and I have to get going after I pick this up.

The Little Blue Heron flies from his perch on top of the port-a-potty on the construction site.

I pick up Rack's port-a-potty in a brown plastic bag and wipe a rain drop from my brow.

It's going to rain again.   Welcome to the Wet Season, Mr Little Blue Heron.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gnome 3 in Debian Jessie Using VMWare Workstation 9 With No Fallback Mode

First the "TL:DR" executive summary:  Get Debian Jessie to install to VMWare Workstation 9.0 to have Gnome 3 run in full graphics mode and not gnome-fallback mode.

Instructions to make it work like I did in a cookbook and a narrative follows the instructions after the jump break:

To install
First Boot
  • Go into VM Settings.  Make sure that the CD/DVD virtual Device is connected to the Debian Jessie ISO file.
  • Start Synaptic and install gnome-core
  • Mark upgrades and apply
  • I got a window asking Configuring GDM3 - Default display manager: GDM3, just because I could.  This enables Gnome 3.0 as your default display manager where lightdm is xfce.  Since you specifically wanted a clean gnome 3.0, this is how to enable it.
  • It will run dpkg and install a lot of stuff.
  • Close Synaptic and reboot

Second Boot: Logged in, and ticked the session for gnome, gnome 3.0 is active without fallback.

To install the VMWare Tools

My VM had problems seeing the vmware tools. 
  • In VMWare Workstation, click VM, Install VMWare Tools
  • Having clicked on help, I typed mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom in terminal and got an error, then magically the iso automounted.  I. Just. Don't. Know.  Linux magic.  Trust me on this one, I was frustrated waiting for it to decide to find the blasted VMWare Tools ISO myself.
  • Extract the files with full path to somewhere useful like your home directory.
  • In root terminal, run from the directory you just created and take the defaults.
  • The VM will hunt all printers available to the host machine and tell you that Printer Added a number of times.
At this point you should be up and running with Gnome 3.0 in Full Graphics Mode.  
You can manually tell Gnome to flip back and forth between Full Graphics and Fallback with a command shown at this link.
You will now have the ability to arbitrarily resize the windows.
You will probably need to go into dconf to configure the way your linux works.  There are a lot of tweaks you can do in there.

Personally I prefer xfce for its speed and lack of clutter, but that's just me.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Resurrection and Two Hunters With A Plan

The Resurrection

While the priest was presenting a children's sermon. He asked the children if they knew what the Resurrection was.

Now, asking questions during children's sermons is crucial, but at the same time, asking children questions in front of a congregation can also be very dangerous.

In response to the question, a little boy raised his hand.

The priest called on him and the boy said, "I know that if you have a resurrection that lasts more than four hours you are supposed to call the doctor".

It took ten minutes for the congregation to settle down enough for the service to continue

Two Hunters with a Plan

These two hunters went moose hunting every year without success.

Finally they came up with a cunning plan.

They got themselves a very authentic cow moose costume and learned the mating call of a cow moose.

The plan was to hide in the costume, lure in the bull, then come out of the costume and shoot the bull.

So, they set themselves up on the edge of a clearing, in their costume, and began to give the moose love call.

Before too long their call was answered by bull in the forest.

They called again, the bull answered closer to them.

They called again, the bull answered, and came crashing out of the forest and into the clearing.

As the bulls' pounding hoof beats got closer the guy in front said, "OK, let's get out and get him!"

After a moment, that seemed like an eternity, the guy in the back shouts - "THE ZIPPER IS STUCK, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?!"

The front guy says, "Well, I'm gonna start nibbling grass, but you better start to brace yourself!"

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Ignorant Fisherman

The Ignorant Fisherman

Young man got his diploma and decided to travel the world. In a poor, developing country, he took a boat across the bay with a local fisherman, and tried to start a conversation.

“What is your favorite play by Shakespeare?” he asked.
“Who?” replied the fisherman. “Never heard of him.”

“Oh, what is your favorite branch of philosophy?” he tried.
“Philoso-what?” the fisherman looked at the graduate with a uncomprehending look.

“Um, how do you feel about the situation in the Middle East?”
“Never met them,” the fisherman said.

While the very educated young man sat trying to find something to say to this ignorant rube, the fisherman tried to avoid a speedboat piloted by a drunk, but the speedboat clipped his little craft and sped away, leaving him and the graduate in a rapidly sinking boat.

The fisherman pulled off his shirts and said, “We are going to have to swim for shore.”
And the graduate said, “But I don’t know how to swim!”

Friday, May 9, 2014

Like A Lot Of Water Off A Duck's Back

There is a lot of inherent weirdness here in South Florida.

It's known for Sunshine here.  I'm sure that's because the climate is basically a semi desert for six months out of the year.  The total irrationality of trying to keep the British Tradition of a perfectly maintained lawn is apparent here.  In order to do that, you have to water the yard.  About 30 minutes a day twice a week of sprinklers should do it in every single spot. The "4pm like clockwork thunderstorms" are not every day, and not every month out of the year. 

Otherwise, the tourists would see white flowers in the sandy sparse soil, and we can't have that can we.

But when it rains here the best way I can describe it is as if someone stood over your head on a really tall ladder and dumped water from a bucket on your head. 

Over and over and over.

At the same time someone has an old fashioned metal trash can that they are beating with a baseball bat. Some other person is flashing a spot light in your eyes in time to the baseball bat beat.

It gets entertaining. 

After the storms, the bufo toads come out and bask in the sun.  Don't touch them, they're poisonous.  Make sure you use a flashlight at night for the next two evenings so you don't end up stepping on the, and even when the toads get run over by a car, they're still poisonous.

Followed by that are the Mosquitoes, then a day later the Dragonflies.

The Dragonflies are my favorite.  Hovering on the breeze, they'll dive and dance in a ballet while chasing after those Mosquitoes that have already fed on your legs. 

Don't worry, they'll all lay eggs before the next storm so the cycle can happen again.

While it rains, you can also see things wash up into your swales.  The Swale is the first six feet of "your" property away from the street.  I say "your" property because you don't really own it if you have one.  The city does, and you are caring for it.  They may reclaim ownership later to plant trees or lay sidewalks, all very good things for the property when they happen.  It's more of an easement than pure ownership. 

After all, walking in the street can be difficult when you have tourists driving around not understanding that you're in the street because there isn't a sidewalk, and you're avoiding the snails that are there anyway.

They crunch under your foot so wear shoes right after a rain.

But every so often you get a bigger storm.  A real Gully Washer that will flush everything clean and collect in the swales.  That's when the ducks show up.  The last rain that came was due to a weather front that caused tornadoes up in the Deep South, Alabama, Georgia, that sort of area.   We may be South of that but South Florida really is more like the Sixth Borough of New York City than anywhere else.

Besides, the weather patterns here are different, the winds come from the East so it takes a massive front to get this far down.

Normally.  Sometimes they come from the West and that is when you make sure that Toto is indoors and Auntie Em will fret.

When the ducks arrive, you know you have a big storm going on.   The homes are built up above the road bed and the swales, so you are dry.  You can stand in front of the house and take some pictures.  Do be careful though since the Ducks are shy but approachable and don't really like it when a Moose of a Man comes out the front door and disturbs their bath in your driveway.

Rain will stop, it's time for the dog walk.  Swales that were almost a foot deep of water will drain within a half hour since it hasn't rained for a week and a half worth mentioning before that.  The soil is nothing but beach sand under that grass.  Beach sand holds nothing, and it's all a thin veneer of grass on top of it anyway.

It may have flooded, but you'll survive.  Just wait a half hour or grab a bar of soap and go stand outside in the storm.  May as well have a shower while you're at it.  That's what the ducks did.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm A Box

Well Played, Box, Well Played.

I found myself staring at the bottom side of a box.

Having knife in hand, it was time to slit the strapping tape holding it together.  It was going to be a box no longer.

We do recycle here.  We actually throw out less trash than we recycle, so Box, you will go out to the big green bin to the big green truck for it's trip to the recycling plant here.   Box will join your friends, then roll down the block scaring my dog on its way.

It's ok, you couldn't have know that the very food you contained would sustain the same dog you would eventually scare on your last trip off the island.  He eats better than we do.

You visited me only for a short time.  Arriving crisp and clean, you sat in my dining room awaiting that Friday trip or a respite in a reuse.  We do reuse before we recycle, but that wouldn't be your fate.  Holding a bag of dog food was one thing that meant you would be too large, Box, for that sort of treatment. 

For a while you sat on my dining room chairs, the solid maple chairs that I brought from my old home in Philadelphia.  You sat there empty looking over my dining room as if to ask what is my next step in life?  You were in effect asking me, "when do I move on?".

My dog Rack did sniff you over from tape to tip.  After all, you smelled richly of Regional Red.  We got him the best food we could simply because he wouldn't digest anything else.   Dogs who don't digest don't get strong, they don't thrive.

But for about two months, the bag of Orijen dog food that came from the plant in Canada, then to in New York will bring life to our beloved faithful sidekick.  

Box, if that is what you wish to be called, you will have another life.  Perhaps as paper towels, perhaps as another box, perhaps as electricity.  Tomorrow the food you brought us a month ago will be opened so my dog can sniff it over, and eat slowly all day.  In another two months, Box, your great grandchild will visit us with another bag of imported dog food from the Great White North of Canada.

I am advertising averse.  I watch TV programs only with a remote and a DVR handy.  When a commercial comes on, I either skip past it, or let the delay build up so I can skip later.  But I caught myself looking at you.  Those commercials were not entertaining, but I have to admit I found myself pondering this message.

Once in a very rare while, even I pay attention.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gardening with Spit and Bailing Wires

When I was a kid, a wee precocious brat, in Mrs White's Kindergarten, we used to play with modeling clay.

I remember the stuff was a brick red color, and always soft to work with. 

We used to roll the clay out into snakes and build all sorts of "constructions" with it.  It eventually progressed into a bunch of us building marble raceways with clay that would be balled up at the end of the play period.  The clay was never stiff enough to make long bridges with it, so we were constantly patching it to keep it in place.  

If we were lucky we'd get something stout enough to take a little ball of clay and roll down to the bottom with a lot of help.

Then it was time for story time, milk, and quiet time. 

That same kind of pasting things together to "just work for now" has been replaced.  There's a lot of engineering, in the best sense of the word, done in a property to keep things going. 

When we moved into this little house, a 2/1 with generous yard and a pool, we set to making things work better for us.  One of us got the "bright idea" to set up an irrigation line with very low flow water bubblers to water the plants needed, and only those plants.  1 gallon per hour is a lot of water for a single plant but my Orchids like it.

I am an indifferent gardener, not really enjoying visiting my pets the mosquitoes in the yard.  I'm a great food source for them, and all those bubblers create wet spots.

Since it's all on well water, there are some impurities in the water.   It has a sulfurous scent to it, and the formerly-white-now-red paint on the shed will tell you there is iron in the water.  Add a little grit that gets soaked up from time to time, and it gives me plenty of things to putter with.

I can tell it needs some putter time because one plant or another will wilt from a lack of water.  We do get 50 inches of rain, but most of that is in the six months of the wet season.  Also known as the Hurricane season, it can be a bit much.  A Sunday Afternoon can go from sun to Monsoon in an eye blink.

When I notice that the Mango tree is wilting, or I have lost a flower on an orchid, it's time to act.  A trip to the hardware store for more bubblers because I can't really be sure where they got to in the shed.  More black licorice sized tubing for the lines.  Every so often, just open up the end of the line and blow out the sand in the feeder pipes.

I'll wander slowly through the yard with the pump humming.  Rack will follow around, smiling and sniffing the air, then adding his own water to my plants. 

The process is a cycle.  I'll forget about it all now that the bubblers are mostly in place.  The fractal net of bifurcated licorice tubing along the East side of the pool feeding the many pots are now happy.  The same low flow lines are feeding my front side of the house and the Orange Tree there.  My pet palm tree that sprouted in a pot in the backyard and refused to be pulled is now almost six feet tall and moved to the island in front.  They're all watered through a spur line from the backyard to the front.  Most of these plants are established and in the ground where they belong.  The palm tree insisted on living so I gave it a home, and all the rest of the oddball plants in the yard are cuttings. 

All of those cuttings, trees, and random weeds are fed by bubblers and no more than a gallon at a time.  All on little licorice lines that don't last very long.  Just long enough to roll a ball of clay to the bottom and...

OK, Mrs. White!  It's time for the stories!  My favorite red rug to sit on once I put the clay away.

I guess times don't really change all that much.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Iguana On The Deck

If you are in South Florida near fresh water, eventually you will see one of these beasts.

They don't belong.  Green Iguanas are an invasive species here.  They're a destructive pest that is disrupting the environment for those creatures that actually do belong here.

It doesn't mean that they can't be entertaining.

It probably means that the winter didn't get cold enough to kill the things off.

I described that process as the Iguana Rain before - it gets below 45F and they're stunned by the cold.  Their metabolism slows down and their muscles let go.  Then they will fall from the trees.

Mind you, it's not a gentle fall, but one that most survive.

The people in Trinidad and Tobago swear by Curried Iguana Tail, and they are welcome to the creatures.

All these thoughts went through my head.  I was sitting in the window seat indoors at the Indian restaurant.  There is this little river or canal that is behind the place on Griffin road.  The small development on the other side of the little river had people to watch.  Kevin went off to answer an emergency call, and I continued dining on savory-not-spicy Indian food made for a British and American palate. 

Not A Wall Of Heat Indian food is a treat.

I speared a little dough ball that tasted richly of honey and butter.  Looking out the window I got the picture taken of this green beast going about its life.  Adolescent four foot long lizard eating bugs that were in the sun.  Harmless where it was.

I was alone at the moment.  I spotted Kevin conducting his business from the parking lot.  He was chatting with someone who had left his phone at home.  The person who was to rescue the phone left it on the roof of the car and drove off.  Too much drama for my tastes, I keep my toys intact.

While the feeding went on both inside and outside, I spotted another Iguana across the river on a tree branch.  We do live around a lot more wildlife here in the middle of the South Florida Sprawl than you might expect.  Toads, Iguanas, Boa Constrictors, and native species are all over the place.  A Road Pizza could be any of those and more.

Looking at the tree I noticed a stray parrot in the sun, squawking at the lizard.  It is better in the trees, but it too didn't belong.  Yet another great great grandchild of a released former pet.  They get out into the wild here and once the genie is out of the bottle, it is difficult to put it back, if not impossible.

I hear the little old British Lady at the next table go on a bit longer than would be polite about not having Her Pink Packet to sweeten the rather excellent Iced Tea that I was drinking some of.  I'm sure she had her own stash in her rather large purse, but people do have their tastes, even if it was questionable.

Spearing another large bite of a fried vegetable ball, I hear the other British Woman tell the first that she was being "a bit churlish" and that she should calm down since the Iguana that she was now obsessing over was on the other side of the glass.

Greeted by my faithful sidekick, Kevin, who asks how the meal is?

Wonderful of course.  But I did miss my Mango Lassi.
Did you see the iguanas?
Yes, so did the woman behind you.  Said with an Eye Roll.
It didn't get cold enough to get rid of them this year.
Are you getting dessert?  The Donut balls are excellent and the Mango Pudding I would love to try to make at home!

He was full, and I was over full.  That meal was responsible for a few extra groans that it would take a day and a half to get rid of.

One of the children from that table way over there had gotten out and wandered to the back deck.
Smart Iguana decided it had warmed enough and dove for the water.

We weren't going to solve all of the invasive wildlife problems today, but we did get a rather excellent meal.

So did the iguana.