Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Boy Comes Home From School Early One Day

A boy comes home from school early one day to find his mother having an affair another man.

Not wanting to be caught skipping school, he hides in a cupboard.

Pretty soon, the boy's father comes home from work and the stranger hides in the same cupboard as the boy.

"Its very dark in here", says the boy.
The man replies, "Please be quiet, I don't want to get caught. I'll give you anything."
"Ok, I want a baseball."
Finally the man managed to leave through an upstairs window, and the next day the boy finds a baseball waiting for him when he gets home.

The following week the same situation happens.
The boys father comes home and the boy and the stranger are both hiding in the cupboard. "It's very dark in here." says the boy.
The man begs, "I'll give you anything you want, but please be quiet. I don't want to get caught. ."
"Ok, I want a baseball bat."
Finally the man managed to leave through the cellar and the next day the boy finds a baseball bat waiting for him when he gets home.

For the third week in a row, the same situation happens and the boy and stranger are hiding in the cupboard. "It's very dark in here." says the boy.
The man pleads, "I don't want to get caught. Please be quiet, I'll give you anything."
"Ok, I want a baseball glove."
Finally the man managed to leave through attic skylight and the next day the boy finds a baseball glove waiting for him when he gets home.

That weekend, the boy asks his father if he wants to play catch in the yard.
The father agrees and the boy rushes for his new baseball gear.
Noticing it was new, the father asked where he got it from.
The boy replied he got it from a friend.
The father didn't believe him and thought they were stolen. "I'm going to take you to church so you can confess your sins to the priest." Said the father angrily.

Once at the church, the father sat the boy in the confession booth.

The priest said "Confess to your sins."
The boy replies "It's very dark in here".
The priest, shocked at what the boy had said, responds "Oh no! Not you again!"

Saturday, November 29, 2014

An older couple were having a hard time remembering things

They arrived home from a walk and after a few minutes watching Television, the wife suddenly looks at her husband and says to him:
"You know, I could really go for some icecream! Would you mind going to the kitchen and getting me some?"

Her husband, always happy to be kind, walks to the kitchen, but on the way out there, he suddenly hears his wife yell to him:
"And could you bring some strawberries as well? I really like those with ice - and you better write that down, so that you won't forget it!"

Her husband, somewhat insulted, yells back:
"I don't need to write this down! Ice and Strawberry, I can remember that!"

"OK, but I would also like a glass of Cola!" - the wife yells.

"And you should really write that down, so that you won't forget what it is you where going to the kitchen for!"

"Nonsense! Icecream, Strawberries and Cola - That's easy to remember!"

About fifteen minutes later, the husband walks into the living room with a plate in his right hand, having bacon, some fried eggs and sausages on it. In his left hand, his holding a glass of milk.

He tries to put it on the table before his wife, when she looks angrily at him and screams:
"Where's the toast!!"

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday? I'll Pass

Tis the season, finally?

Maybe, but today is the day of Gladiatorial Combat, the annual Running Of The Bulls in the Malls.

The websites are full to the bursting with deals promising deep discounts.

Sure, and we all spent time in the bathroom going through email accounts on our phones deleting email "bacn" promising 75% off of something we just can't live without!

"Bacn" instead of "Spam".   Stuff you signed up for when you bought or downloaded something.  It's called Bacn - bacon. 

No, I don't know why either. 

Shh, I am sure there's a shiny object somewhere to distract you... oh well, have a picture of my puppy instead.

For no reason.

Yes, it is Black Friday.  Every store of any size is offering sales to entice you to come in and buy something else.

Why do I phrase it that way?  Am I grumpy?  Do I need yet another mug of coffee? 

Because, Nope, and not just yet.

Here's the deal.  Businesses are not in business to lose money.  At least in the United States they aren't.  Here the businesses are required to have some of the item on sale and state their policy if the item is sold out.  In other words, way down in the small print they will have a disclaimer.  That may be "No Rain Checks are available on Black Friday Specials.".

What does that mean?  It's the retailer's gotcha.  It means that they were required to have at least one of that item on site, on sale, at that price advertised, with the printed conditions, at the opening of business today.

Complex huh?

It means that the manager put it out, and could have immediately bought it himself.   The owner of the store could have come out and bought it for herself.  If neither of them wanted it, the intern fetching coffee could have grabbed it.

If none of that happens, someone camped out since midnight the night before who was first in line grabbed it.

They tend to chase campers away from the door until the day of, although that could just be a rumor.

I ask myself "Why bother" every year.   I did the Black Friday thing once.  Swearing never again, I left that year and didn't come back. 

I generally don't shop in malls from now until after December 26th anyway.  If Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, the day after the holiday, December 26th is the second busiest one on average.

As for online deals?  Be careful.  You can at least grab the model number and look online for reviews and comparisons. 

I'm actually in the market for a good printer.  I came to the conclusion, at least for myself, that inkjet printers are a bad idea.  I print so little that having one means watching the ink cartridge dry out and be unusable when I actually need to print.   Add to it the price of new cartridges and that while I am heavily into photography, I don't actually NEED to print color photos...

Why bother at all?

Coupons, Resumes, Cover Letters, and Thank You Notes are about it. Even then I print out about 50 to 100 pages a year.

What am I planning on doing?

Laser Printer, Black and White ONLY.

Why that kind of printer?

Simple - the toner does not dry out.  Toner is a black dust that sits in a cartridge until it is needed and will last much longer than a tiny tank of ink that costs more than gold per ounce.

Why black and white?

Color laser printers may consume ink when they are idle.  Black and white printers do not.  It is why you generally do not see Color Laser printers in the "consumer" market segment. 

That and cost.  The color laser printers are quite expensive at times and you have at least four toner cartridges to replace.

So I looked.  Found a laser printer that I will watch and grab if the price comes down a bit more.  But while I was looking I found an entry level printer that cost $30. 

I got all excited.  You know, that rush you get when you think you found a good thing that nobody else knows about?  Yeah the Shopper's Rush, that one!

Since money is always tight around here, I loaded the model number into a search engine (not the big one, but one that hides your presence from the big one so you aren't monitored) and found the price of the toner.

Twice the price of the printer at $60 per cartridge.  At least it only needs one.

Let the sucker, er, Buyer Beware.

Always do your research.  If I can give you a helpful hint, that's the best one.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pot Roast, Cherry Pie, and a Stuffed Thanksgiving

Our non traditional Thanksgiving feast is planned.  Some of it is even pre-fab, yes, frozen.

In this house?  Go figure?

I'm not really all that fond of mashed potatoes, so they're frozen.

The Roast is top bottom round, and there's over 6 pounds of it sitting in the bottom of the refrigerator.  That will be made with Port Wine so that it could be made into Port Wine gravy.  Trust me, if you have never had Port Wine gravy, it's a great excuse to try something new.  When it's made, it is great for slathering on a thick roll to soak in as you pile on the leftovers for sandwiches that seem to linger on into some time in Spring.

The pie crust is rolled out and will be filled with cherries.  My favorite, cherry pie.  Well, that and a Key Lime but I didn't have the time to make Key Lime pie this year.

Where all this will go I am not sure, but there will always be room for more. 

We're also going to try something different.  Our standard recipe is cook by time.  That irked me.  It would result in a "Well Done" beef roast that ended up having ends that are hard and dried out. 

This time we cook by temperature.  I'm planning on a roast cooked to an internal temperature of 150F.  That is the border of Medium and Medium Well.  It's a compromise since I prefer rare, and Kevin prefers well.  We're meeting in the middle. 

Other than that, have a great Thanksgiving feast. Like I said on the Wilton Manors Development Alliance Facebook feed earlier:

May your homes be full of friends and family,
May your main courses be tasty and perfectly cooked,
May the side dishes be savory and good,
And May your pumpkin pie be sweet and wonderful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rack In The Car, Oscar in The Yard, Weather, and Pests on the Phone

Having a picture that just refused to be cropped correctly for a month, I settled in to work on it.

It just wasn't going to be an easy one.  Most people would shrug and say try again.  I am too stubborn.

The first problem was it looked like something from the criminal's lair in the campy old TV show from the 1960s, Batman.  Tilted to the one side, it was a picture taken behind my back.  I was trying to be slick.  I didn't want my dog to be distracted.

One day we had piled into the big blue beast and drove down to the office.  This was one of Rack's all time favorite things to do.  We would head down A1A and he'd stick his head up just high enough to watch the endless summer parade by with accents of tourists and palm trees.  For a dog that I see shut down way too often, the joy in his canine brown eyes was a pleasure to see.

So I stuck the camera under my left arm, between the seats and tapped the trigger a couple times to fire off a couple shots.  It wasn't like I expected much.  But I did like the picture if I could "Do Anything With It".

I settled in this morning to play with the software.  I could eventually paste it into Photoshop, but let's see what happens in Irfan View with a judicious crop.  Try to find the rotation tool...

The weather alert fires off for the first time in weeks.  I'm actually happy it "still works".  Listening to Sneezy The Weather Robot, I try to get a little further.

Try 15 degrees...

Marine Warning?  I'm on dry land.  Ignore.

14 Degrees...

Phone rings.   "No, Dave's not here, man!".  Yes, seriously.  Cheech and Chong when the phone rings before 9AM is about the best I intend to do.


13 Degrees... Yes! Close Enough!

Oscar flaps around a bit, and I start to crop.  Like a Barber - A little off the sides, a little off the top.  Maybe a Mani-pedi and a little off the bottom.

Suddenly, Monsoon.

I set the computer back on the table.  Grab Oscar's cage.  A picture of Rack's Favorite Thing will wait, I have Oscar's Favorite Thing for the first time in over a week.  Rain.

I take the top of the cage, bird and all, out to the back yard.  It's raining buckets, but the water hasn't even gotten off the roof yet to soak the back of my shirt as I walk him out to the pool deck.

That gives me 15 minutes to work on things.  A pass through the Spanish Tutor.  I could eat apples and drink milk with the best of them but only while I'm on the toilet apparently.  Learning Spanish On The Loo it should be called.

I head back out to the chair to work with the picture more and play Photo-barber.  It's a square format, it will have to do.

The rain stops as suddenly as it started.  Better go after the parrot before the Opossums or the Raccoons do.  The "scale" on the outside of the cage had washed away in the torrent.

I bring Oscar back in and set the top of the cage on the base.  Phone rings.

"Dave's not here, Man!".

Tommy Chong, I am not.  I am however getting tired of the wrong numbers.  There's a car website somewhere that people sign up to opt in for phone calls from people to help them find cars.

Opt in.
To Find Cars.

Why on earth would you ever want to hear from a shouty car salesman?  I have heard from all the high pressure car dealers in South Florida over the last week.  Most of them are blocked.  I have heard from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru.  Most of them are insistent that this is Dave's number.

"No, dude, you've been scammed, remove the number he gave out mine".  I usually can't even get the sentence out before I'm talking to a dead line and a bloop from my phone.

I start getting texts from someone who insists I need to look at a video on my phone.  No, I won't bother, the idea that I have to watch a commercial in order to watch a video that lasts less time than the commercial is insane.  All that is blocked on the computer.  Adblock Edge to the rescue.

Phone rings.  More "Dave". has my ire.  I will never be able to block all of these things.

Look at the watch.  A 10 minute crop and edit has taken an hour and a half already.

Oh well, by the end of this I will have every single car dealer in South Florida Blocked.  Thankfully I have a modern Android phone that lets me do that sort of thing?

One last burp.  The music in the house.  It stutters, I think nothing of.  I'm almost done here..

The internet goes down.  Damn Comcast!  I walk into the laundry and reset the cable modem.  That doesn't help.

Comcast is down until 2pm.

(Sigh) One Of Those Days.  I'll have to use the bluetooth keyboard and finish the post on the phone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Rescue Pot

When you're in a colder climate you have a cold frame. 

They always looked to me as if it were a window into the dirt.  A small box with a glass window on top where you plant your next year's garden underneath.  The extra warmth would give slow growers time to get started before the season officially starts for them in March or April.

Bell Peppers were always the ones I'd hear about from Mrs Alderfer when I was growing up.  I never liked the green ones but we have to buy extra Red Bell Peppers here whenever a recipe calls for them because  the snack monster attacks them.


Since I am an indifferent gardener and not really that good at keeping things growing in pots for long periods of time, I have a different approach.  The original blush of gardening has mostly faded.  The row of fruit trees and flowers in the pots that we bought when we first moved here have either gotten too leggy, overly potbound and need to be placed in the actual soil, or just gave up and died.

Instead of having a row of pots with nothing in them but weeds, why not put them to use.  But what to do?

The theory of "If a Seed Falls, It Shall Grow" is all over my yard.  I'm constantly using a weed eater to kill off dozens of palm tree seedlings because they not only grow in the garden, but in the mulch under the trees.

The pots gathered a healthy coating of seedlings at one point and one particular palm tree grew so large so quickly that it's now in the "island" in front of my house.  A year or so later, it's taller than the Bottlebrush tree that is threatening to die that it is next to.

I decided to turn these pots into a rescue.  We don't need a cold frame here, it doesn't get below 34F.  Just stick cuttings in the very wet soil and see what happens. 

Everything I stick in these pots takes.

Every Single Thing.

I don't necessarily have a green thumb, I'm just lucky.

What happened was I noticed that Lisa's Pentas had begun to die back.  I mistakenly put a green Spider plant in there and it overgrew the pot.  There's more Spider than Penta.  Reaching into the pot, some of the Penta snapped off.   I stuck it into the Rescue Pot and thought it's up to you.

It liked it and grew.

When I finally got off my lazy butt and went at the hedges, I whacked back the Podocarpus to a more manageable size.  Grabbing a cutting, it went in there too.

It is taking as well.  This pot is a month afterwords.

This is also pot 1 of 5.  I ripped out the Hibiscus that was in a rescue pot that had liked it so well back there it grew through the pot and into the soil underneath. 

Successful yes, but a bit much.

The same landscaping trip saw me hacking two feet off the top of the Night Blooming Jasmine.  Taking some of the fresher cuttings of new growth, I stuck a row of cuttings where the Hibiscus once bloomed.  It now has a row of these plants, tightly packed.  I figure they'll soak up the drip feed water from my Orchids and eventually grow into something that will need some more landscaping.

It's the Circle of Gardening.  You cut, plant, root, grow, and eventually repeat.

Why not?  If you like what you have, simply fill in with more.  Not every cutting will take, but if you get one in three you're golden. 

I'm getting 9 in 10 for now.  Luckily, I have some spots in the hedge that need filling in.  I can see through to the neighbor's yard and if I can see in, so can they.

Better cover up next time we're outside in the pool!

Monday, November 24, 2014

No, You Don't Need To See My Dog, and the Yellow Dog Project

Yes, I have a beautiful Dog, thank you. 
He's not a Border Collie.
He's a McNab Dog.
He is fearful.
He won't allow you to pet him.

That would be the really brief way of saying Step Off. 

Believe it or not I have actually had to get quite loud to tell some people that their presence is not needed and no they did not need to meet my dog.

Tourists.  Better to send them on their way than try to explain sometimes.

Dog people love to meet other dogs.  They love to tell stories about their dog that they love deeply that they left behind in "Ohio" when they came down for a visit.

Every time I hear one of those stories I think to myself if you really loved that dog, you would have found a way to have your vacation with the dog instead of dumping it in a glorified shelter for a week.

But the thing is that you never know what that dog is thinking.  The old saw "Walk A Mile In His Moccasins Before You Judge" is a perfect description.

That McNab of mine is best described as having PTSD.  If you drop a spoon in the kitchen, he runs and hides in a corner until I go after him and tell him that he can come out.

He's just a "teenager" at two years, he's got time to learn.  The PTSD is fading, but not gone.

When my departed dog Lettie got older, her normal mistrust of other dogs became critical.  She would walk slowly around town and other dogs wouldn't give her room due to their owner's insistence that they have their dogs meet her.  Being an alpha dog, she wasn't afraid of showing teeth.

That usually made the other dog back off.

The point is that there shouldn't be a reason for this sort of thing.  There is no reason why you need to introduce yourself or your dog or your child to any other dog.  My own dog is afraid of adults, but his fear of children is overwhelming.

Luckily I usually can use my own Command Presence and a strong "He Won't Allow It!" to the others and they back off, usually confused.

I shouldn't have to worry about this sort of thing but since everyone in this country seems to have accepted a culture of entitlement, people with dogs who might need a little space or gentler treatment do have a slowly growing sign.  A yellow ribbon.

No, it isn't a Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree.  It is a sign to "Give Space".

That dog that you are trying to force yourself, your child, or your dog on, may have issues.  It isn't for you to judge.  That dog may have been mistreated before and has memories of that.  It may be older or have health issues where the excitement of the meeting may cause other problems.  It may have mobility problems.  It may be that the dog is "in training" for being a Service Dog or to get over a situation that makes them uncomfortable.

It simply doesn't matter.  You don't know what happened or why, just give them space.

Instead of all of that, look for a yellow ribbon on the leash.  It used to be that shelters would use a purple leash or collar to signify that a dog might need a little space, but people simply don't pay too close attention to that.  I've seen that first hand, both of my dogs were purple leash dogs.

Red Collars and Leases used to mean danger.  What the danger was is again, irrelevant, just give space.

The Yellow Dog Project is slowly gathering steam.  The idea is that simple.  Tie a yellow ribbon on the leash and hope that the other person seeing that will give space.

Hopefully it will get more well known as time goes on.

But really, yellow ribbon or not, unless you know the dog, you don't need to pet them.  After all, would you want to be petted by someone on first meeting?

I didn't think so.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not long ago and far away, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip...

Not long ago and far away, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip but there were problems everywhere.

Four of his elves got sick, and the trained elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where.

More Stress.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

Totally frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey.

When he went to the cupboard, he found the elves had hit the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from.

Just then the door bell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door.

He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said: "Where would you like to put this tree fat man?"

And that my friend, is how the little angel came to be on top of the Christmas tree.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An old dog, a leopard and a monkey

An old dog, a leopard and a monkey

An old dog got lost in the savanna...

Noticing easy prey, a leopard prepared for an ambush behind a tree.

However, the dog could also smell the leopard and being quite crafty he took a quick survey of the area and found a bone.

With the bone in his mouth he soliloquized "Oh my goodness, this is so tasty! I love leopard meat! I wish I could find another to eat!"

The leopard became nervous and decided to run away.

A monkey, who was watching the entire scene, ran after the leopard climbing from treetop to treetop.

Upon catching up to the leopard the monkey mocked him and told him how the old dog had tricked him.

Furious, the leopard ran back to the old dog being followed all the while above the trees by the monkey.

But the dog once again caught wind of the leopard and the monkey.

Thinking quickly on his feet the old dog said aloud "DAMMIT, where is that pesky monkey? He promised to bring me another leopard and he still hasn't come back!"

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cashew, Coleus, and Caterpillar by the Pool

They tell me that the wet season is ending but with El Nino firmly in effect, that may be overruled for a bit.

As a result, bright sunny days are a little more scarce than might be needed. 

When they happen, you escape outside, pull weeds, and get chores done that have been waiting for the rains to stop.  On the other hand, it's better to do all that when it there is a grey sky than when the sun is beating down on you.

Either way, I still end up pulling great long roots of Virginia Creeper from one side of the yard to the other.  Blasted things are invasive and stealthy.  You start pulling at one side of the property and by the time you're done you have a coil of 50 feet worth of brown root that looks like an extension cord with a leaf here and there that taunts you.

Why?  Because there's a snapped end that tells you that the root merely broke off and it will continue growing where you left it.

Virginia Creeper is the Two Year Old of the Garden.  It's there telling you "NO!" when you're saying "GO AWAY!".

But it isn't all sweat and toil out there.  I have my chain of pots.  They started out as a place to put trophy plants that I wanted because I'm in the tropics-adjacent South Florida and everyone here should have a proper citrus tree at one point or another.

I'm also not that good at keeping them alive.  The original crop of citrus trees died back, but I still have my banana and my mango trees.

When the lemons died off, but the pots and the drip-feed irrigation remained. 

Ever practical, I started using them as "starter pots".  Where I will put these weeds I can't say, but they are there soldiering on! 

Instead of that Meyer Lemon that I was making Lemon curd from, I now have a weird collection of plants.  I specifically went out that morning to tend to the weirdness.  The first pot that I started planting weird in was that sad lemon pot.  Of course I needed somewhere to put my Mexican Milkweed so it went in there.

That didn't work.  The Monarchs use it as a salad and a way station for a quick stop before floating on their way.  "Oh well, that's why it was there!" 

But the pot looked bare by itself with just a stick of eaten Milkweed, so I added some other things.  My Cashew tree.  The neighbor gave me a fruit, that I ate, and I dropped the seed in that same pot.  The tree needs to be moved since it got knee high and stopped.  On the wind there must have been a stray coleus seed because it too decided to land in that pot.

I now have a small ecosystem.  When the caterpillars allow, there are Mexican Milkweeds, but only until the leaves get out.  They never get as far as flowering, and forget about harvesting seeds, because one doesn't share with insects, even beautiful ones.  You'll have sticks, and you'll like it.

I do like it because I do like the Monarchs.

The Cashew tree and the Coleus will end up elsewhere when I start over.

But walking around looking at this decidedly unartistic collection of plants, I noticed a thread.

Getting closer, I noticed that the thread was a tiny day or two old Monarch caterpillar already eating the leaves that were trying to grow on on what passes for the plant. 

Silly creatures you're eating yourselves out of house and home!

Of course the circle of life and all that went through my mind as I watched a female Monarch float in, land, and promptly lay an egg on that same plant.

Anyone want to bet whether the egg will hatch or it will be eaten in a day or three by that hungry caterpillar?

Someone, anyone, Beuhler?

The things you see out by the garden when you're out procrastinating, er, pulling weeds.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Computer Hygene 101 - Checking Your Disc For Errors

Every so often you'll get a message that your disc drive may have corruption.  Windows has been getting better at automatically checking this sort of thing, but sometimes it gets confused and you may have to do it on your own.

Since I live in the Florida Power and Light area of Florida, and we get a lot of what I call "Power Pops", we also get a lot of files that get corrupted.  Since hurricanes have hit South Florida before, the infrastructure here can be quite creaky and things surge and break.  That "ate" two of my computers when I moved down here and I have two different filters on this computer I am typing on.

My own opinion is that a computer is safer on a power strip or an "Uninterruptable Power Source", and a laptop will tolerate power fluctuations better because the wall current runs through a brick that takes some punishment as well.

From time to time you may have to run a "chkdsk" on your hard drive.  That's a program in Windows that will look at the hard drive and attempt to fix any errors found.  My own opinion is that if chkdsk can't fix it, you're best to consider your options - however make sure you have a good backup of what is on that disc. 

After all Data is more expensive than Hardware!

Since Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are slightly different in the way you run chkdsk, I'll treat them separately.

Relax, it only looks difficult!

Windows 7:

  1. Click on the Start Button - or hit the Windows Key on your keyboard.
  2. Click on "All Programs" to expand the menu.
  3. Click on Accessories to expand the menu.
  4. Find Command Prompt and Right Click on the item.  You will know you have done that correctly because you will get a pop up menu to show. 
  5. Click on "Run as Administrator".  This will let you have more control over your computer.  It also will allow you to do things like delete your windows files - so be aware of what you are doing.
  6. "User Account Control" will grey your screen and pop up a window asking "Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?".   Click on the "Yes" button.
  7. The "Administrator: Command Prompt" window will open.
  8. In the command prompt, type the following command:  chkdsk c: /f and hit enter.
  9. You will get a message saying "Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process.  Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts?  (Y/N)"
  10. Type: y 
  11. Hit enter.
  12. Type: exit
  13. Hit enter.
  14. Restart your computer. 

Windows 8 and 8.1

  1. Go to your start screen.
  2. In the upper right there is a search box.  
  3. In the search box type: cmd
  4. You will have a list of items.  Find Command Prompt and Right Click on the item.  You will know you have done that correctly because you will get a pop up menu to show. 
  5. Click on "Run as Administrator".  This will let you have more control over your computer.  It also will allow you to do things like delete your windows files - so be aware of what you are doing.
  6. "User Account Control" will grey your screen and pop up a window asking "Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?".   Click on the "Yes" button.
  7. The "Administrator: Command Prompt" window will open.
  8. In the command prompt window, type the following command:  chkdsk c: /f and hit enter.
  9. You will get a message saying "Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process.  Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts?  (Y/N)"
  10. Type:
  11. Hit enter.
  12. Type: exit
  13. Hit enter.
  14. Restart your computer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

57 Miles For A Watermelon?

I wasn't thinking of produce that day. 

It actually was something new.  We were going to a "hamfest and flea market" down in Coral Gables.  That of course set off a chain of events because of what I call "Suburban Inertia".

Inertia is the physics maxim that those bodies at rest tend to stay at rest, those bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, unless acted upon by external forces.

Yes, Science Content.  You expected anything less from me?

Suburban Inertia is the theory that once you move your body into the car and get going, you may as well keep going until you get all your errands done, or run out of interest.

Cash, Time, Interest, Need for a Rest Stop... all that qualifies.

We got out of the house at 7ish.  About a quarter after 7 if I misremember right.  Got into the big blue beast because my Jeep eats gas and I hardly ever drive it.

No, really.  I was asked by a neighbor if it worked since I use it so infrequently.  Yes, I do, and Yes, I still enjoy driving it.

We were heading to the University of Miami main campus in Coral Gables to hit a quarterly Hamfest and Flea Market.  I figured it would be fun, if nothing else, to go there and look for electronic fiddly bits.

Fiddly Bits is a serious technical term for small items that are necessary for life.  The little things that go together to make life itself possible.  You know, that one screw that fell out of the bottom of the case you were fixing and now the door hangs crooked?  It ticks you off to no end because you can't find the little thing because it rolled under the refrigerator after you kneeled on it when you got on the floor to find it in the first place?  It stuck to your jeans and bounced off and rolled under there and you can't be bothered to go after it because you'll have to move the pantry and clean the damn thing?

Yeah that kind of fiddly bit.

I was actually hoping to find some "bell" wire to make an antenna and figured something calling itself a hamfest would be chock full of "cool stuff" as well as fiddly bits.

I was thinking of maybe the 1990s.  That sort of flea market was massive back then where you could go and buy one part and walk through hundreds of tables entertaining yourself with the question "What the heck is that thing" and getting back an idea that convinced you that you needed it to repair that old tool sitting in the shed so you really can get that chore off the honey-do list that's been there since the turn of the millennium.

Come on, we all have one or two of those chores!

The hamfest was modest.  Fun but modest.  Only about 20 tables.  It did have a vendor with Vacuum Tubes, so I'll go again.  After all, Dad's Radio could use a tune up!

We were through in under 15 minutes.  Walked through again a third time and decided to go.  I didn't exactly want to go back so I suggested that we go down to "That scruffy farmer's market down near Homestead" and poke around.

Redland's Farmer's Market.  Homestead, Florida.

After getting the "Are You Nuts" look, we started heading back to the main road.  By the time we got there, I heard from the Driver's Seat "Yeah that would be fun, lets go look around for that place".

Mind you, we had stumbled across it once on the way to the upper keys.  It was an insane crush of people then and we thought it would be fun to wander around it just because.

When we got there it was just as much of a crush of people on a Saturday morning.  It also felt like home.

I used to entertain myself going to this exact sort of place all over South Jersey and later in Pennsylvania.  They're all a little rough around the edges, but you can find things you can't find anywhere else.

Apparently "real" seeded watermelons are one of those things.  I mean, really?  All season I could only find those vile tasteless un-seeded watermelons.  For years I couldn't find a "Real Watermelon".  The deep pink to red flesh that tasted sweet and eventually would drip down your chin or your arm with a sticky watery juice.  

The un-seeded varieties didn't taste like that.   May as well eat the rinds.  Blah.  Can't have seeds?  Too damn bad because you never ate the real thing.

It's a Jersey Tradition around the Fourth of July to stand in the backyard eating a wedge of watermelon and ending up with the seeds trying to take root in the garden because one of the kids spit them there.

Kids being anyone, even adults.

Everyone enjoyed them because they were good.  Not that over priced basketball sized thing that they sell now.  These would take up the entire bottom shelf of the refrigerator and promise goodness.

That was the first thing I saw - a monster watermelon.  So I mentally made a mark in my mental checklist to stop back and grab one when we went exploring.

Never really found anything else I needed.  Wanted, yes, but needed?  Nope.

Heading back to the fruit stand I grabbed the largest watermelon and immediately was warned "They have seeds!".

Yes, that's the point! That's how you want them!

I also grabbed a couple oranges, apples, a large sweet potato, and a few lemons and really REALLY looked forward to that watermelon.

Getting home I checked calorie count and figured a "candy bar" ration of calories would be 24 ounces of the thing. 

Yes, A Bowl Full turned into a "Salad Bowl" full of a pound and a half of Watermelon.

Frankly, for an ex-Jersey Boy like me, that's par for the course.

And BOY did I enjoy that.  The wall of sweet, the juice stuck in my Movember Beard, the seeds to discretely spit out into the bowl.  It all put a big smile on my face.

Then I realized.  Movember, er, November.  We're way out of season.  Where would I get another?  How far was that again?

Checking the map... 57 miles.

Yes, we drove 57 miles for a Watermelon and some other assorted fruit and veg because I just couldn't find it in any of the "normal" places.

Would I do it again?  Sure.  Just not every damn week.  After all, there has to be somewhere closer I can get them.

I know of this little fruit stand on Dixie Highway up in Oakland Park...

I'm already plotting a trip out for next weekend when the Suburban Inertia strikes!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Banana Spider in HD

One day a while back I got antsy. 

Bored with my routine I took my camera and my cellphone and left for a walk with the dog.  If you have a dog and you don't walk them, they get antsy too.  More importantly you're missing a great chance to bond with your dog.  They will benefit from it and you will benefit more.

So Rack and I left.  I just couldn't stare at the picture of Rio de Janerio on my wall any more that morning.  Looking out the right through the bougainvillea and the Spanish Moss wasn't helping either.

It was still early and I had been up even earlier.  The house was otherwise quiet so why not go out and disturb the neighborhood by exploring?

Walking through, I eventually ended up at M.E. DePalma Park and took a bazillion pictures.  Or maybe about 100 pictures.  I do that sort of thing.  Take the camera, annoy people who could be there or elsewhere, and take pictures. 

Most of those pictures get deleted.  Out of focus, finger on the lens, subject matter uninteresting.  Who knows. 

Every so often there is a picture that talks to you.  Perhaps Screams At You would be a better description.

This wasn't one of them.

There was a banana spider on a web near the street.  The street was a distraction, but that could be cropped.

After having looked at it for two months, literally, I started playing with it and ended up with this result.  Sure, there are stories of people getting totally freaked out by spiders.  Whole movies made with Arachnophobia as the title.  Forgetting that they're beneficial insects, these people would eradicate them the same way I would have eradicated mosquitoes.

Just because.  The birds and spiders would eat something else if mosquitoes weren't there.   Really.  Lets build a dome over Springfield and kill the mosquitoes.   Please, Marge, Can We?

Oh well I tried. 

But this spider.  Horn Rimmed Glasses colored legs.  Designed and patterned carapace that wouldn't be out of place in an art museum or a fabric pattern.

I know people think they're ridiculous and huge and scary.  I never felt that.  They have their own natural beauty and belong here.  They were here first after all.

Playing with the picture I found a proper "HD" framed size and saved it off.  I may have to master a DVD some day that this would work as a title card.   I could also slap it in the middle of a video as a frame and have people confused why there was a subliminal spider in their family video.

Who knows.  Don't care.  It's now probably dead and my memory, and now yours, are all we have left of it.  It's now in my backgrounds directory and randomly will end up on my desktop for 10 minutes at a time.

I like the picture that I got.  Some won't, but that won't matter since it is here.  Like I say about this blog: "You get what you pay for".  So have a spider.  Or Don't.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Holiday Date Palm at Gables Wilton Park

When you move your traditions to other places, sometimes they don't quite get translated well.

The European Pagan tradition of decorating a pine tree with sparkly bits and pieces of fruit got moved indoors in the early Modern Period.  People started fires with their trees when they added candles to them, and with electricity we got those big C7 and C9 light bulbs that would trip a circuit breaker these days. 

9 watts per bulb.  100 bulbs per string.  Add a couple strings together and you'd have enough power drained to run my entire house these days when the A/C isn't on in February for that one week it's actually COLD here.

Luckily we've got LEDs now.  I have a table top tree that got decorated with a string of about 10 white LEDs that runs off of batteries for a couple of weeks at a time.

Yes, Rechargeable batteries.  I'm not stupid, you know.

But move that same tradition to the tropics and frankly Pine Trees are a bit thin on the ground.  The Norfolk Pines we have here are a bit too large to cart inside, and the ones that aren't will be soon enough.

So outdoor displays here put to use what we have here in abundance in South Florida.

Palm Trees.

Now, look at them critically for a moment.  They look like a broom or a bottle brush you used to clean out the jars before you reused them for canning.  A mop of fronds at the top and a long tall empty trunk.  Not much shade when you stand under them. 

In fact, I find myself standing on the North side of the trunk more often than not to catch shade before the light changes.

But there are some holiday decorations that work well with these beasts.  They can be really quite cheery when done right.

Wrap the trunk with a long string of lights and you end up with a barber pole.  Most people stop there and call it done.   There's a rather nice row of them here in Wilton Manors in front of "The Gables". 

That's Gables Wilton Park to give it its official name.  

A row of about 12 to 15 palms of about 15 to 20 feet are growing along Wilton Drive.  They're wrapped in pure white LEDs.  If you stand in just the right spot you get an interesting picket fence effect of glowy goodness.

But they did what is probably my favorite decoration.   On the corner of Wilton Drive and NE 21st Street there are a pair of Date palms.  You know, the edible things that we all like that have to dry and cure for their sweetness? 

They wrapped the trunk like a pure white barber pole then ran the lights out on the fronds.  Now at night in the pure dark the fronds sway lightly in the breezes coated in light.  Makes for an interesting effect, I'll say.

It can't have been easy.  The fronds on a Date palm are very stiff and covered with spikes.  They're a good 10 to 15 feet long so the spikes can be more than six inches at the base, and since that is all standing parallel to the ground, they can most likely be used for lumber instead of thatch.

Yes, it's a sturdy plant.  You can actually catch some shade under it.

But if you stand under it and look up you see a starburst of fronds.  Line that starburst and you end up with a rather nice fireworks display that doesn't go away with an "Oooh!" in a breath or two of time.

Luckily I get to see this in all sorts of times.  Early walk in pitch darkness, or in the sunset hour.  Either way, it's a welcome addition.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Guy is Out Drinking At The Bar on a Weeknight

A Guy is Out Drinking At The Bar on a Weeknight

A guy is out drinking at a bar on a Wednesday evening. Now his wife is sick and tired of him drinking during the week and has made it very clear he's in massive trouble if she catches him doing it again. But tonight he's good. He told her that he would be working late, and he knows that she goes to bed early and is a heavy sleeper.

So he enjoys his night, but finally the night comes to an end, and it's time for him to go home. He makes sure to close his tab, checks to ensure he has his ID and wallet - he does. Knowing that all of his bases are covered he goes to get up to leave and falls flat on his face.

He's a little drunk, so not entirely surprised. So he tries to get up and walk with the same results - bam, flat on his face. Now he's lying on the floor thinking, "I can't call my wife, she will have my ass if she found out I was lying about working so I could go drink tonight."

But he's a determined man. He decides if he can't walk, then damnit, he'll crawl. And crawl he does. He crawls the full mile from the bar to his house. By some miracle, he is able to unlock his door and lock it again once he's inside. And by an even bigger miracle, he's able to crawl his way into his bedroom and into bed without waking his wife. The man goes to bed smugly thinking how smooth he is.

The next morning, he wakes up with his wife standing over him glaring at him with the fury of a thousand hells.

"So... you went to the bar last night, eh?" The wife angrily asks.

"What are you talking about, I was working?" The man replies. In his mind, he's going back over his night. He is positive he covered all of his bases. There's no way his wife could have known.

"Don't lie to me; I know the truth." The wife snaps back.

"How?" The man asks, generally stumped as to how she could possibly know.

"The bartender called... you left your wheelchair at the bar!"

Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Old Couple Gets To Heaven

An Old Couple Gets to Heaven

...after spending 60 years being married.

When they reach the pearly gates, St George greets them and says, "Welcome! Let me show you what we have." The saint leads the couple to a massive golf course and a huge golf club, with premium equipment. "You'll never find anywhere better!"

George said. Looking at this, the woman was overjoyed, but the man seemed slightly angry.

Then the saint showed them an extremely long buffet table. "You can find any food in the world here!"

He said and the woman was delighted, but the old man seemed even more livid.

Then, St. George showed them a gigantic boulevard, filled with mansions with outstanding architecture. "Choose any one you like!"

George said. The woman couldn't have been happier, but the man has a complete fit of rage and storms off.

After his wife finds him, she asks him what's wrong, and he yells "If it wasn't for your damn bran muffins, I could've been here years ago!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Monarch of the Plant Pot

Wandering around town at dawn, I noticed that there was something missing.

Not people, oddly enough we dog walkers have a habit of getting out early, wandering late, and basically slinking around town at strange hours.

I've walked Rack at 4AM more than once.

The nature park nearby, M.E. DePalma park, was missing them.

My backyard was picked fairly clean.

Some of the spots where I was "guerilla" planting them hadn't taken either, or where they were they were eaten down to sticks.

You guessed it, my Mexican Milkweed is mostly absent. 

I have a reputation of scattering Milkweed Seeds far and near, and when I find the seeds, that is exactly what I do.  I remember these starbursts of silk floating on the breezes of my own childhood New Jersey Prairie that would land somewhere unseen from time to time.  Here, they don't get a chance to get that far.  The insects that I plant them for are much too hungry for them and are eating them down to nubs and sticks.

It's a cause and effect.  Give a Monarch a home and it will eat the home.  If there is no home, no Monarchs. That is why we plant the things anyway, for the Monarchs.

So whenever I find a seed pod on one of my plants, I watch over it.  If it survives to ripen, I snatch it and put it in a plastic bag or immediately scatter them.

I'm on a cleaning binge and I found one of those bags hidden in my kitchen from a while ago.  It had fallen behind the coffee maker on the counter, forgotten.

Walking out to the row of pots on the drip irrigation line that morning to plant the newly found seeds in the land, there was the culprit.  It could have been called the guest, just as easily.  A Monarch caterpillar climbing up the branch of the lone milkweed that had survived looking for a meal. 

Mmm Tasty, Tasty Milkweed.

I vowed to watch over that creature and see where it went but I wasn't that lucky.  It had its meal, then climbed into a sheltered spot.  With luck it was undisturbed, even by me, and then flew off to grace another yard with it's beauty in Orange and Black.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hit Windows Update Yet This Week?

Oh yes, I will admit it, I am stubborn.

I don't like people monkeying around with my computers which is why I told my windows computers not to go out and grab the windows update patches automatically.

Mind you, I did tell it to tell me when it wanted my attention and check for critical updates.

Small semantic point, but I prefer to be the person who pulls the trigger, and not the trigger that gets pulled.


If you are like me, today is an excellent day to go to your favorite start button, find your Windows Update link in there or in Control Panel, and do a Windows Update.

They fixed a 19 year old bug that is in every version of Windows including and since Windows 95.

I tend to do my own checks later in the week, on a Thursday, although I have been getting reflexive about just hitting the damn button and doing updates whenever I think about it. 

You know, sometimes when you're bored and you just want to do something that needs to be done and don't want to really think about it?  I rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic my own way, thank you very much!

The reason why I wait a day or two to do it "officially" is simple.  If you have your system go out and grab the updates as soon as they are there, which is typically on the second and fourth Tuesday at 1 PM in the Eastern time Zone or 6pm in London, and you restart your computer, you may have a bigger problem.  Once in a very long while, some of the same patches will break your computer.  It may not start.

So give it a day or three.   They may have to fix their fix after someone else broke it.

I know, eventually a person just has to shrug and say life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Ferris, do your updates and take your chances.

Today is my turn.  Actually later today is my turn.  I've been on Linux for the last two weeks and there's a very different way of doing things there. I get a little sunburst in my control strip in the upper right and it tells me to go look.

Wait, Bill, How is that different?

It just is.  Now go check Windows Update, just because.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanks, Apple, But I Think I'll Pass on Yosemite

I have computers on Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.  Various levels and flavors of all of the above actually.

There's always the question as to when or whether to upgrade them.

Linux is pretty simple - when your distribution changes, give it a week or so and listen to the chatter.  If the chatter is clear, go for it.  I've never had a problem here.

Windows.  I have a Windows 7 machine that won't get upgraded because it's an old Core 2 Duo machine.  It will either die before Windows 7 does or it will get given away.  Windows 8 became Windows 8.1 as soon as it was offered to me.  Windows 8 was an abortion, Windows 8.1 is manageable.  Just add Classic Shell and it cleaned up almost all of that Modern/Metro hideousness and pushed it aside.  Classic Shell made that ugly block land go away and replaced it with all the desktop land goodness that I need to get things done.  It's still there, lurking under the hood, but I couldn't tell you the last time I had to use one of those ugly blocky programs that Microsoft mistakenly thinks I need to slice, dice, and make julienne fries.  Other than network access which the Modern/Metro interface gets in the way massively and then drops you back to a desktop app to actually get the job done to disable and enable things.

I don't.  'Nuff said about that.

Then there's the Mac.  I always liked the sleekness and the design of them.  Beautiful hardware, a well thought out interface.  When I need to use my Mac, it is almost always a pleasure.  I got the thing, installed Snow Leopard, and it purred.  When the Mavericks upgrade was offered, it was free so why not?  I noticed no real problems there, and since I am a lightweight user of my Mac it's fine.

I've heard reports that Mavericks slowed memory access from the prior version, Lion, but like I said: I'm a lightweight user so I don't notice.

They put out a new operating system, Yosemite.  Since I knew about the memory speed issue, I thought I'd wait.  Let the experts go after it.

I'm glad I did because there are some privacy issues that made me uncomfortable with things.

Everyone likes having search functions on their computers and generally don't think twice about how things are done.  What happens is that that information you are looking for is sent back to the program to check its indexes and report back to you when it finds what it thinks is the right answer.

That was all well and good back in the good old days when it was enough just to search this current computer.  Some smart people decided that they'd go out and do a search on the internet to give back more content.   It's a built in function on the desktop called Spotlight that phones home to Apple and does that search. 

Fair enough if you're actually doing an internet search.  But why do you need that search to go back to Apple if you're just looking for a file on "this" computer?  If you are searching for movie information or maps, it's going to send back your current location, as well as the current device you are on, and anything else that it thinks is pertinent such as language settings and what apps you have used.

To be fair to Apple, you can turn this off, but I have done enough support to know that unless someone turns that sort of thing off for you it won't get done. 

The flip side to that is that if you have turned it off, location services are one of those things that get rather naggy to have turned off.  Your searches get a helpful prompt asking you to turn on location services and eventually you wear down and just leave them on.

Checking my Android phone, location services is turned on there, and we know that all that sort of thing goes on there with Google.  If you want a smartphone these days, you are either going to have Apple or Google put their hand in your pocket and watch over every move you make that they believe they need to, it's part of the game.

The idea of having big brother was scary enough when I read 1984, but the reality is that we all now have that big brother in our own pocket and don't think too much about it.

Nothing to see here, keep moving on.

All this was reported in the Washington Post's technology blog a while back, and apparently Apple has been taking heat about their decisions to make these changes. 

There is a website called that promises to give you information how to take back some privacy and turn off some of Apple's data collection.

This all is a change of heart since the old days where the Mac was more privacy friendly.  Now, they're going all in and sucking down all this info while you happily go along with it.  Since Apple is notoriously tight lipped about what they do internally, I suspect that it will be a long time before we find out just exactly what they're doing with all that data.

No thanks, I'll pass.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Foam For Everyone!

I have to either get a new hobby or stop shipping care packages all over the place.

Ok, no I won't stop with the care packages.   I will say that my holiday preparations start sometime in October, or perhaps September as a result.

For some odd reason, I have a lot of friends who have their birthday in September.

Maybe that means that I'm preparing for the holidays in August.

Now wait a minute, I'm not that well prepared.

See what happens is that my sense of Logistics and Planning gets started and I end up grabbing things when I see them. 

There are always one or two Official United States Postal Service shipping boxes here.  When I use one, I get one.  Maybe two.  Depends. 

Why?  Because of that birthday thing.   You see I don't buy things.  Oh, I end up spending as much time and money as the next guy, but I send these weird boxes of stuff to people.  While it may look like a random assortment of gloves, trinkets, jelly jars full of homemade jellies and jams, other baked goods, and other random clippings from my life, it is all well thought out.

That last moment thing?  If you think I'm just winging it, you're not paying attention.

So I could just toss stuff in a box, put my address and my sister's address on it, seal it with a kiss, and send it on its way but that won't work.

Things break in transit.  Broken Jelly Jars aren't much fun.  Since I usually send about a half pound of home roasted coffee with each box, that can escape too.

I got a rather direct comment once from my sister saying "Next time, watch how you pack".

Packing has become an art.

I could go to the office supply store and buy bubble wrap, but where is the fun in that?

Not when you have a manufacturing plant in town.

No, what I am doing this year, and probably for a while is to use what we call "Fom".

Fom is probably trademarked.  It's one of those silly marketing trademarks that some brainiac in a cubicle somewhere, who was paid way too little or way too much depending on how you see things, thought up.  We would see Fom in the Brookstone stores in malls for years and get a chuckle out of it.  They were pillows that were ridiculously expensive for what you got.  They were filled with strange things, most likely beads made from recycled plastic, and you were expected to use them like they were the best thing to come into your life since you took your first breath of fresh air.

Not really that exciting, but they were fun to poke since they were amazingly tactile.

But for us, anything remotely foam rubber like was called Fom.  That's F-ah-m.  Probably after the Boston Fahms or some such, dunno.

There's a manufacturing plant about a mile North of me that periodically puts out these "come and get it" messages on Craigslist.  Their name is "Barco Sales and Manufacturing", and they make precision cut foam rubber and packing materials.  At least that was what I had thought since every time they put out a "come and get it" it was for foam rubber.  There's usually a sign for the stuff outside when the plant is open inviting you to get some.

It turns out that they do more, making some pretty interesting precision cases for some things that need extra protection when they're being shipped.  Think really nice suitcases for your electronics.  Laptop cases that look like they'd survive a drop off of a roof.  Solid looking stuff.

Nice of them to put out the come and get it messages since usually the stuff is bagged up in a dorm room refrigerator sized plastic bag.  You can just take a bag and be on your way.

I've done that a couple times.  The first time I went they were cutting some foam rubber with the consistency of a seat cushion.  Perfect, I needed to fix a piece of furniture and that foam fit in there beautifully.  I had meant to go back and get more of the stuff since the dog's bed could use more foam in it and my favorite chair is getting a bit flat these days.

I went back and decided to fill a Jeep with whatever they had.  Basically, thanks to Barco, I came back with a bag that was about the size of the back seat of my Jeep that was stuffed full of black pieces of Fom in random cut pieces. 

The bag sat in my Florida Room for a couple days before I finally decided to act.

Opening the bag I found triangles, slabs, and blocks.  Almost all of the stuff was charcoal grey and almost none of it was in "regular" rectangles.  Makes sense to me, this was what was leftover when the manufacturing process was done.

But what to do with these strange oddball pieces of Fom?

Just you wait.  Jelly Jars will be made once Thanksgiving hits.  Cookies and probably some home made candy will be made as well.

It will all be wrapped in Fom from Barco.  The box will be lined with charcoal colored oddball bits and pieces that will be taped to things to hold it together and they will get shipped.  All of that will be inside of those USPS Flat Rate Large Boxes that I got back in October.

Shipped with love and Fom. 

Thanks to Barco, Foam for everyone!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rain and Hunger Don't Mix Well For My Dog

I knew it would be an unsettled day.  Waking up and doing the morning weather check on the phone, I saw that it said that we had biblical weather overnight.

5AM report: 65 degrees, 1.3 inches rain, 90 percent chance of rain.

Ok, we're in South Florida, it's the tail end of the rainy season, deal with it.

As I was putting on my shoes, I looked over at Rack and said exactly that.

I swear this dog knows what I mean.  He looked away, settled down into his dog bed, and moaned.

The rain doesn't bother me like it did when I was a kid in New Jersey.  You'd have these fronts that would march across the north and take a day or three to get through.  Raw weather in the spring or fall that just made things grey.  No massive storms, just a constant grey rain.  People up there dealt with it differently, acting like it was a poison or acid falling from the skies and covering up with layers of clothes under an umbrella.  Streets would be deserted, everyone would cocoon up.

I guess it is pretty miserable to have a temperature just a few degrees above freezing, or a good 10 to 20 degrees below a seasonal sunny day, and being soaked to the bone when the wind hits you.

Here we tend to ignore it.  Storms tend to be the thunder variety.   Just duck and cover if the lightning is less than 10 seconds separated from the thunder, two miles away.  We don't normally get these two or more day long solid steel grey skies of drizzle, although they do happen from time to time.  Just 20 minutes later it could be clear and usually sunny.  Wait it out, put your feet up, then you can go.

Last night must have been more of a mix of the two.  I don't know, the noise didn't wake me up.  But Rack knew.  He wasn't whining at the front door when I got to the crate to put on his harness and leash, he was more subdued when we went for the walk, and when we got home, he immediately went to hide.

I'm wondering if this McNab Dog doesn't have a little Cat inside him.

When it came time for me to get him to eat, he didn't come out of hiding easily.  He came into the kitchen head down.  He's afraid of his own shadow, but there was no reason why he should be here.  I did my chirpy best to tell him that it was time to eat but he just sat down in the middle of the kitchen and melted into a puddle of black and white fur with another moan.

I have been training him to accept eating food without any coaxing.  He's got a fair amount of fear and post traumatic stress going on.  Since he's a weak beta dog, he wouldn't eat on his own and would skip meals. 

Mostly that is fixed.  If the weather is clear and there are no distractions, I can set his bowl down next to me on the floor near where I am eating and he will start to eat once I have begin.  Submissive dogs need permission to eat.  Rack is very submissive.

Not today.  The house had to be silent for him to start.  He stopped when the relay snapped in the refrigerator for it to cycle more cool into the big silver box.  Eventually he did eat, but it was a good 20 minutes of pussyfooting around and walking on egg shells. I could do things in the kitchen, but that's because I'm the Alpha in the pack, Rack is not.

This is orders of magnitude more fear than my Lettie had with storms.  She'd run around the house barking at the skies and moaning at the thunder, but she never skipped a meal.

When the rain stops, and the sun comes out, things will be better.  After all, Rack was fine the day before.  Then it will be rainbows and lollipops and that silver bowl of crunchy bison and sheep won't be as scary.

You just have to step back and give them time to work through fear on their own schedule - then give them a treat at the end of a couple ounces of plain yogurt and tell him he's a good boy.

Yogurt for Good Boy!  Yes, who's a good boy for yogurt?

That's how feeding goes.  Good boy gets yogurt.  Slow boys probably do too, but good boys get it quicker.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Meanwhile, in the Bar and How To Get Rich

Meanwhile in the Bar

Two guys are sitting at a bar.

One starts to insult the other.


The bar gets quiet as everyone waits to see what the other will do.

The first again yells, "I SLEPT WITH YOUR MOTHER!!!".

The other looks at him and says, "Go home dad, you're drunk."

How to Get Rich

A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money.

The old guy fingered his worsted wool vest and said,

"Well, son, it was 1932. The depth of the Great Depression.
I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple.  I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents.

The next morning, I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5 pm for 20 cents.

I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I'd accumulated a fortune of $1.37. Then my wife's father died and left us two million dollars."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Man Walks Into A Bar and Sally

A man walks into a bar and tells the bartender: "Twenty shots of your finest tequila, please."

The bartender is surprised, but obliges. The man then goes down the line, taking shot after shot, back to back. The bartender is amazed!

"Wow! I've never seen anyone drink like that before!" says the bartender

The man says: "Yeah, well, when you have what I have, you'd drink like that too"

"Well, what do you have?"

"A dollar."

Why did Sally Fall out of the Swing?

She had no arms.

Knock knock. Who's there? Not Sally.

Friday, November 7, 2014

How Do You Protect Your IPhone From Wirelurker When They Don't Know What It Does?

I'm reading the tech news.  In reality I read it about every day and far too much of it is out there.  Your mind may haze up from time to time, and that's normal.

There's a new virus out there that they're calling "Wirelurker".  The big problem is with this one is that they are still figuring out how it works and what it does.

The group that discovered the virus, Palo Alto Networks, let out a rather gloomy press release.  Basically, it said that you're probably already infected and even if you didn't get infected it will get you anyway through use of chargers or your Mac.


Apparently it started as a rather fringe infection vector.  People who Jailbreak-ed their iPhones and connected up to a third party app store called Maiyadi, in China got it first.

Chinese third party software.  Probably not the safest out there.

What it did was to rewrite the apps that ran on the iPhone and add code to it that caused the virus to replicate and move onto the next victim.

So someone stepped out of the Walled Garden that Apple made and they got caught, end of problem, right?


It infected their Macs, and moved on.  It also infected any other iOS devices plugged into the machines such as iPads and iPod Touch.

The recommendations are one of the broadest that I have ever seen for avoiding this virus.

This is the first time I saw a third party app store used as an illustration of a safer app store.  They recommend that if you do use third party apps, make sure it is the Cydia app store and only go to trustworthy sources.  Problem there is that you never really know since those third party app stores aren't really looking into the source code like Apple does.

They say don't even plug it into a charger that you don't know about and don't use any non approved sources.  Since the virus is so stealthy you won't know that your charger is infected until later - but basically that lets the rest of the windows world in.

There's a vulnerability with the USB devices that you have in your house.  More accurately the USB devices you will buy to replace the ones you have now.  Plugs, cables, and chargers.  It can be rigged to push a virus into whatever it is connected with.  While this particular threat hasn't been seen in the wild, yet, give it time.  Yes, it's doom and gloom and fear mongering, but give it time.

Thinking about a new charger?  Better make sure that you spend the extra money and get it from a recognized source. 

If the whole charger thing is questionable, their stated concern is that if you have an infected iPhone on your network, the virus will walk back to the next phone that is connected to the network via email servers and the like. 

Once it is in your phone, it can theoretically grab your address book and spam your contacts thereby sharing the fun.  This is one of the first "traditional" viruses to hit the iPhone platform.

The Apple Myth of No Viruses Here was built because they have the reputation of "vetting" or looking over and analyzing the software that sits on their own app stores.  If you remain in the Walled Garden, all will be well.  That is the theory and for the most part, up until now, it works.  However since the infection vector is from outside of the walled garden and you have to go outside the garden to update or charge the phone, you will have a vulnerability.

The solution will be that Macs and iOS devices will need to run a virus scanner.  Once the virus definitions are kept up to date, this will clean out the problem. 

If it sounds familiar, welcome to the Windows world. 

Once the signature to the virus is found, it will get out to the Windows based virus scanners and that should clear it up as well.

But it isn't there yet, so stay tuned.

Bottom line is that if you have an iOS device, make sure you stick with Apple's App Store and stay tuned.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lettie's Gecko Chase Video

I have had this video for years.  It's only seven seconds.  17 with the lead in and credit frames.

We would walk Lettie around town and every time she saw the lizards here she would react like this.  Too fast to actually catch them, she'd overshoot and go for the next one after she'd bark at them to tell them to get off the sidewalk.

Silly dog I wish I had more video of you.

If I let her out in the yard, she'd ignore the lizards.  One day I even caught her with a lizard on her tail and she was sniffing at it.   I guess it's that Motion Thing.  Give Chase.  Bring Order to Chaos.

That's a McNab dog.  Things need to be in their place. They are the Project Managers of the canine world.  She'd send me off to do the work, so things would get done, but she knew that she could do that and someone else would pick up the slack.

Each night at 5pm or so when we'd hit this particular spot she'd take note.  Then she'd strain at the leash as if to say, "Damn it! I have a job to do, get out of my way!"

Bedlam.  Just Bedlam.

A dog of a lifetime, I wouldn't have anything but a McNab.  All the intelligence of those other breeds you hear about, but the calmness to know what to do about it.

Just don't tell anyone, ok?  You don't want a good thing ruined.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Duck Walks Into A Store

A Duck Walks Into A Store

...and asks the clerk "Hey, do you got any grapes?"

The clerk replies "No, sorry. We don't have any grapes."

The duck walks back home.

He returns to the next day and asks "Hey, do you got any grapes?"

The clerk replies "Um.. No we don't have any grapes."

The duck walks back home.

Next day, he returns and asks the clerk, "Hey, do you got any grapes?"

The clerk replies, furiously, "Ok, duck, I've had it with you! If you come back and ask for grapes one more time, I'm going to nail you to that wall!!"

The duck walks back home.

The next day, the duck returns and asks "Hey, do you got any nails?"

The clerk replies "Uh.. What? No I don't have any nails."

The duck asks, "Do you got any grapes?"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Easy Char Siu Barbecue Recipe for the Crock Pot

You know that pork you get in pork fried rice?

The pink stuff?
A bit sweet?
Never quite enough of it to really taste?
You always want more of it?

Here it is.

Actually here is the recipe for the pink stuff.  It's just a barbecue sauce.  The "final" recipe is simple:

Put your 3 pounds or so of meat in the crock pot with the Char Siu sauce marinade overnight then cook until done.

I always cook the pork until it hits 135F internal temperature, then slice it into serving size pieces in the sauce.  What happens is that the pork immediately "seeks" the temperature of the sauce and finishes up in an eye-blink.  The temperature will jump to well above 145F after 3 minutes of rest time., I have never seen it below 150F, rendering it finished per the USDA's webpage at Food Safety.

If you follow that recipe for Pork Loin or Pork Tenderloin, you will get safe food, and the pork will be tender as you like it while still moist.

I hate dried out or overcooked meat.

This sauce will work with any meat, just vary the cook times and temperatures per the Food Safety Minimum Safe Temperature Chart and you will be fine.

Since it is barbecue, it will also make Tofu taste as good as anything else out there, so your Vegan friends don't have to worry about breaking their rules.

When I made this recipe as I list it below, I will make a few changes.

First, the brilliant red coloring is really not needed.  I'll leave it out.  It is optional.

Secondly, it was a little spicy-hot.  I used Srirarcha for the Hot Sauce the recipe calls for in the called for amounts.   I have a lot of the stuff here, and I will use it again but I will cut it back to 1/2 of the recipe.  Different hot sauces will change the flavor.  My second choice would probably be a Thai Chili sauce instead of Tabasco, but your tastes are probably different than mine.

Finally, the sauce itself was a bit runny at the end.  I simply poured the sauce into a sauce pan after pulling out the pork and "reduced" it on medium heat.  When it got to steak sauce consistency, it was done.  You may want it thinner or thicker.  For Steak Sauce Consistency, it took about 1/2 hour at a slow boil or simmer.


  • 1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup Brandy, Rum, or Whiskey
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons or 1 Ounce of Dark Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons or 1 Ounce of Hot Sauce.  Sauces such as Thai Chili, Srirarcha, Tobasco...
  • 2 Tablespoons Ginger - Fresh Minced or dry ground ginger will do.
  • 2 teaspoons Five Spice Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder (NOT salt)
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring - optional


  1. Combine the ingredients as listed.
  2. Whisk ingredients together thoroughly,
  3. Prepare this mix ahead of time and use this as a marinade overnight, preferably in a large plastic bag.
  4. When it comes time to cook, place the meat and marinade in the crock pot and cook on low until the desired amount of cooking has happened to allow for safe food preparation.  
  5. Cook time for 3 pounds of meat was approximately 3 1/2 hours on low.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thoughts While Grating Ginger


I love the stuff.  I even love ginger people.  Ginger People making Ginger would be just beyond cool.

Yeah I know, silly.

But I do love the stuff.   I have gone so far as to make crystalline ginger on more than one occasion and will probably do so again.  Savory, spicy, and sweet at the same time, it's not the kind of candy a 3 year old would like.

Here little kid, would you like some candy?

They'll probably run from the room crying after that. 

I'm that guy who picks the pieces of pink ginger out of my "Asian Inspired" dishes and eats them first.  Or all together, like I do when I get a bowl of Marshmallow Enriched Cereal.

You mean you don't eat all the oats first so you get a bunch of milk soaked, neon colored marshmallow hearts, moons, and stars at the end of your meal? 

You will next time, my friend, you will.

But making a dish with Ginger is one of those things that many people would just simply pass over because of the trouble. 

You have to find it first.  Luckily most larger supermarkets have it in the produce aisle with the other things you buy and let rot in the veggie crisper.  Bulbous and lumpy, with a thin skin, it can be very fibrous.  You may need some help in picking some.  The Ginger we got was slightly translucent but mainly opaque, smelled sharply of warm spices, and was smooth of skin.  Past that, I don't really know how to choose it, I just get lucky.

Then when you find it you will either get too much or too little.  A piece the size of your thumb will grate down to about an ounce.  A piece the size of your palm is a lot unless you're going to use the leftovers to make Crystalline Ginger, then by all means have a blast!

You need a weird looking gadget to grate it.  The one I have is white ceramic and has bumpy bits on the one side to grate with.  The edges are raised and it looks like a small pizza paddle.  Others are round which would constrain me because I'm sloppy.

Then there are rules.  You know, the kind of things that "Experts" say you must do with the stuff.  Peel it or not?  Break a small bit off or use the entire root.

Repeat after me - Whatever Works!  With Cooking, that is my favorite rule.  I find that usually the skin will grate off and is pretty easy to pick out so I do it that way to save time.  Making Crystalline Ginger needs it peeled though.

I trim the end and then rub it on the bumpy bits with some pressure and before I know it, the root has made a teaspoon of Grated Ginger and is perfuming the house with it.  Since I needed more, I kept it up for about another 47 seconds total and had my two tablespoons.

It really is that easy.  Just put a blob on the paddle, rub it on the bumpy bits holding it down with the heel of your hand. 

If it hurts, you're doing it wrong - which really is a good rule for life.

But the thing is that while there are two kinds of people, Cooks and Non Cooks, the difference is whether you try or not.

Or as Yoda said - Do... or Do Not, there is no Try.