Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Woman Goes Into a Coma

A woman goes into a coma while pregnant with twins.
Her husband dies in the car accident.

A few months into the coma, she successfully gives birth to a boy and a girl.
Shortly afterward, she wakes up.

"Where are my children? Are they alright?"
The doctor pats her shoulder reassuringly. "Yes, you delivered fine. You gave birth to a healthy boy and girl."

The woman sighs in relief. "Oh thank God. Who named them?"
The doctor frowns. "Your... brother, ma'am."

She lunged from the bed, grabbing him by the collar. "Oh no. He's an idiot. Tell me, WHAT DID HE NAME THEM?!"

"Deniece, he named the girl Deniece," he gasped.

She released her grip. "Oh... that's not too bad. And the boy?"

The doctor shamefully looked at the ground. "Denephew."

Friday, January 30, 2015

Fingernail Moon Over Wilton Manors

It was a couple nights back.  January 21st to be precise.

We had done our walk and was looking forward to coming home, having dessert, and putting on some mind numbing sit-com to laugh at for a couple hours.  All that domestic stuff everyone does, everyone thinks is so common and perhaps boring, and everyone misses when the routine gets disturbed.

After all, your routine is your routine because you made it that way.

In other words:  Everywhere you go, there you are.

Waving to the shop keepers, avoiding tourists on the drive, and getting Rack trained to accept a bit more noises had been done.  The walk was long enough.

In the middle of the street, we chattered about things that would be inconsequential to anyone but us, and that was fine.

That was where I stopped.

Asking "Can you see it?  The moon about as thin as it ever gets.  Right there above the big mango at the end of the block.", I stopped Kevin.

He squinted and said yes, and that you don't usually notice them that small.

I said "Let me borrow you for a minute.".  I stopped him, pointed him in the right direction, then used his shoulder to take the pictures.

"Could you please stop breathing, you're shaking the camera!" didn't help since it got him laughing.

I did manage three shots.  The best of them is cropped and reproduced here.

That's the thing about taking pictures.  You never have the right attachments at the right time, and if you do, there's nothing to take.  Borrow a shoulder or a parking meter if you have one.  I've done all that with varying results.  Next step is to tape the camera to a telescope and have a bit of fun.

That is, if you can actually spot the blasted thing.  The moon is a little below center vertically, left of center horizontally.  I have to keep wiping off the monitor to see it.

Technology.  It's a bear.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Toilet, The New Private BYOD Office, and Learning Spanish

Reading as much as I do, I noticed something that tech guys have to be aware of.  Your own personal phone.

That and your tablets and all the other "stuff" you carry.  It's called "BYOD" or Bring Your Own Device.

They've got to worry about what you're surfing, whether you're doing "nefarious" activities, and whether you are ever actually going to come out of that rest room.

All this was going through my mind the other day.  I realized I was doing that too. 

The particular school of thought was bemoaning that people are sitting at work, getting paid, and playing things like Angry Birds in their offices, restrooms, and other places.

I never installed Angry Birds.  Wasn't my style.  I'm normally using a laptop or two at any given moment, virtual machines up and running, playing around with VMWare and pretending to Be Productive.

Yes, in Capital Letters.  Stay Motivated.  Be Productive. 


So I tried playing games when I used the bathroom.  Really I did, but it just seemed, oh I don't know, an annoyance. 

Annoyance as in "Damnit I missed that bubble!" annoyance.  Yelling in the bathroom with the door closed about a bubble?  That's just too weird for me.

Life is annoying enough, and it just felt futile.  What was playing a game in the toilet going to give me anyway?

Don't answer that question, I meant it in a G Rated way anyway.

So after years of saying that I had a language tutor called Duolingo parked on my phone, I finally, actually did something with it.

I created a profile and began doing the course on Spanish.

I had had Spanish back in Junior High School.  Having been exposed to French in Montreal as a brat on vacation and also when listening to CBC on Shortwave, I took the courses in that language instead.  In retrospect, Spanish is more "useful" in this day and age where I am.  Unless I am going down to Dania Beach for a soft serve ice cream, my French is limited to hearing an occasional snippet of Creole from a Haitian.  I can usually get the feeling of what they're saying but it's truly been too many years.

I set rules for myself.  Goals were set at the lowest possible setting.  I didn't want it to Be A Thing that I HAD to do even if I did do it once or twice in the car.  Enjoy the experience.  Repeat each "chapter" until I got it completely correct.  Repeat the "mid-terms" until I got it completely correct.

The results are that progress is slow and steady.  It's more important to get this down and not sound the fool when I eventually get enough Spanish under my belt to be able to speak it to someone else.

At this point, I'm limited.   I am learning how to say useful phrases like "Los Elefantes bebe La Leche" or "La Tortuga bebe La Leche".

You never knew that drinking milk was so important to an Elephant or a Turtle, did you?

I'm also second guessing my sentences in Spanish there but at this stage I would.

I find myself arguing back at the program, Duolingo, when the thing tells me I am wrong for using correct English.  This gamification of learning has actually had me yelling at the phone saying "That doesn't make sense in English!".

*sigh* but it is the correct meaning.  Tap on the little bubble and it puts you into a browser that gives you the social discussion behind it.  Oh THAT'S what they mean by that!


Oh well, take the bullet and do the same chapter tomorrow.

I'm three months into it.  I'm still watching Spiders drink Milk, Turtles eat Apples, The Women read Newspapers. 

I swear once it was a dog writing a letter.

So while it is strictly speaking, correct, it doesn't make sense all the time.  A bit literal.

After I flush, and come back to what I was doing earlier, I check the headlines on two Spanish Language news sites and challenge myself to read what the front page is telling me.  The BBC Mundo page is helpful because BBC in English is my main source of news.  Something called EFE USA helps as well.  Both are in supposedly basic Spanish. 

I get it.  I'm purposely hobbling my progress, but that's fine.  I want to be correct. 

I should probably start watching Plaza Sesame, er, Sesame Street in Spanish again.

There used to be a TV show produced on the Miami PBS Station called Que Pasa USA.  It featured a blended Hispanic and Anglo family.  Some spoke both English and Spanish, others only one language.   I'll keep an eye out for that and maybe set a watch filter on the DVR.  After all, when did you hear anything on a Sit-Com that was really deep and complex?

Leave The Simpsons out of this.  They're more subtle than you think, I think. 

Ok maybe not, but for now, I'm having fun challenging my mind, even if it is in the bathroom and therefore a bit weird.

Got any milk, Mr Turtle?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Youtube Prefers HTML5 Video to Flash - But What About All That Old Stuff?

Flash is one of those necessary evils.  It was like Java, reflexively installed onto computers that weren't really quite up to the task of running it. Just checked, nope, I don't have Java - and you should not either.

The computer would bog down, act cranky, and even crash when Flash was running.  Flash also has persistent cookies that you had to remember to delete.  Some people would have those cookies for years.  Security is a bear.

But there is one more nail is in Flash Player's coffin.  Youtube is now preferring HTML5 over Flash when you watch videos there.

Why is that important?

More and more Flash had been the target of people wanting to hijack passwords, insert viruses, and track your movements with those persistent cookies.  Adobe had put more and more patches into it and it became a joke.  Start the computer, patch Flash, restart the computer and do your work - every single day. 

Worse, some people that I supported would simply tell the update check to go away and never come back.

You are getting closer to the day you can do that for good. Many of us already have.

My Linux computer, currently Xubuntu, is not even supported on current Flash Player, and I did an uninstall of it a couple weeks back.  I didn't see the value of keeping an old piece of software on something that was running well without it and I almost never used.

My windows computer will get the same treatment.

About the only thing I ever do with Flash is to watch videos on Youtube.  The few games that I have kept over the years will get deleted.

That's about the only problem that I see with this.  Videos can be streamed using "native tools" but the content that was created in Flash will simply go away.  Quite a lot has been created in Flash over the years, even a few Broadcast TV Programs, and many commercials as well.

After all, when was the last time you played a video tape?  Beta?  VHS?  Vinyl Records?

That is the kind of problem that Librarians have.  Content on a platform that is unsupported.  Music on Cylinder Beeswax Records from the Edison era.  78 RPM records.  Heck, I even have a few 45s floating around here.  Silly looking 7 inch donuts.

For most of us, it's simply easier to find the track elsewhere and save it on something new.  But for librarians, especially archival libraries, they have to worry about that sort of thing every day.

Anyone still have and use a zip disc?  Nope?  Didn't think so!

So the net result to you is that if you are running one of the four major browsers in one of the top four major operating systems on the desktop/laptop you're fine.  Just make sure your browser is up to date.  Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Opera all work with HTML5.

See, that's easy!

The iPhone and Android based phones will typically use the Youtube client or the browser will take care of it.

One aside though, with Android, it's usually recommended that you do not use the base browser and go out and grab either Firefox or Chrome.  The reason is that if you are on an older version of Android, Google is not going to support the old "Browser" browser.

So it's just safer that way.  Listen to big brother even if it is a bother.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sunshine in Your Morning Cup

Florida has its quirks.  Gators in the lakes and rivers.  Buildings that are low slung and spread out which demands that you drive everywhere.  Good roads that you leave to the tourists because they drive like idiots.

No, really, Tourists here drive "worse than I do". 

But it is the Sunshine State.  Sunshine most days, and in the summer it can be quite bright.  Brilliant might be a better description.  The homes aren't built to allow light in, those low slung boxes are normally built to keep the sun out.  Large overhangs, Bahama Shutters, and awnings will help keep the sun indirect. 

Too much of a good thing can be a headache.   Things fade quickly, plastics and fabrics will dry out.  My futon in the back room has a hunter green cover to it that faded to a pastel in spots, streaked, and generally looks like something you might encounter wadded up in a corner of an old city.   That happened in about 6 months.

Anyone want a Futon frame?  It's a great piece of furniture.  Solid hardwood frame, it'll clean up good.  You just need to replace the cover on the mattress.

Someone?  Anyone?  Beuhler?

But we do tend to hide from the sun here.   You can play the game we play called "Spot the tourists".  I told you how to spot them on the roads - just look at the interstates.  The locals use the surface routes.

No, I mean in the malls.  You spot them because they're wearing shorts in February, or they have a tan.  People here tend to hide from the sun or they've decided to go "all in" and tan their hides to the point where it resembles the finish on the wainscoting in front of my chair.  Dry and brown.  Leathery.  Shorts?  In Florida?  You have to be kidding!  Those mosquitoes will carry off a Buick!

That's why that one morning I had to stop waging war against the sun and marvel that the sight even happened in the first place. 

It only happens in this house for a good 15 minutes and only in the winter.   The sun angle has to be just right.  It has to be in the morning.  You have to be at the right place at the right time.  On the desk in the Florida Room, I started putting oddball things to block that one errant sunbeam that shines right in my eye.  It's either that or have breakfast from 7:32 until 7:46 in the morning.  Give or take a few seconds.  In January.  I guess in November too.

That one moment though.  Have you ever stopped and looked at something that annoyed you, for months, and thought in an ephiphany that it was beautiful?  I did.  The simple things in life?  It all comes down to a window, a sunbeam, and steam rising off the morning cup.  Complete with the faintest rainbow I had ever seen indoors.

*sip* tastes good too.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Prepare to Make French Toast, The Barometer Is Falling, A Blizzard Is Coming

Even this far away from the Impending Doom of the Blizzard, the barometer is falling.

Not that I set it with any regularity, but it seemed a bit ironic when I walked into the hallway this morning.

Of course I was going in to tweak the heat.  It's Florida, and I was cold.  It's all relative.

All weekend, watching people on social media has been a weird flashback to my days in Philadelphia.

My sister sitting on the line between expected to get a foot of snow, at least it was on Sunday when I wrote this, my friends in Rhode Island planning on moving into an Igloo if the roof collapses under upwards of three feet of snow.

It all had a feel of when I was sitting in my bright sunny kitchen, on top of Chestnut Hill, in Philadelphia.  I had my laptop tuned into a news feed from one of the TV stations in New Orleans, watching the coverage of Katrina as it happened.  Cross that with the blizzards that I lived through in the years I was up there.

There is a joke about Blizzard preparation in the Northeast.  You go to the store, buy Milk, Eggs, and Bread.  The Blizzard comes through, everyone knows what to do since you live in the Northeast.  Once you're done, you go back into the house and the person in charge of the house makes up some French Toast.

Dip your bread into egg and milk wash, fry it in butter on a skillet, and smother in Maple Syrup.

If you're really getting smacked around, take the maple syrup outside and pour it into some clean fresh snow for a treat that the Native Americans taught us.  Ice Cream.

On a day like that, after you've got your carbo-load on and you have shoveled your driveway, the walkway, and probably part of the neighbor's walk, go find your kid's soap bubbles.

Take the kids out, or the kids at heart, and go into the yard with common every day soap bubbles and blow bubbles.

Why?  They'll shatter when they hit the ground.  If it's close to freezing, they'll shrivel up like a raisin.

All weird storm memories aside, Stay home, take it slow, shovel in small steps.  Watch the roof too, they're pitched for just this reason - to let the snow fall off.

About the only nice thing about this sort of thing was you would get to chat with the neighbors.  We would go outside, shovel the driveway into the front yard, the sidewalk into the front yard, and repeat as needed.

As far as I was concerned, the key was to start early and shovel every two hours.  Great exercise but it would also thin the herd.  Every so often you'd hear about some poor soul have a heart attack doing just that, clearing the walks.

Slow and easy and check back in later to let us know you're alright.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Deaf Wife

Fred feared his wife Rhonda wasn't hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family Doctor to discuss the problem.

The Doctor told him there is a simple informal test the husband could perform to give the Doctor a better idea about her hearing loss.

"Here's what you do," said the Doctor. "Stand about 40 feet away from her, and in a normal conversational speaking tone see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a response."

That evening, the wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and he was in the den.

He says to himself, "I'm about 40 feet away, let's see what happens."
Then in a normal tone he asks, "Honey, what's for dinner?"
No response.

So the husband moves closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeats, "Rhonda, what's for dinner?"
Still no response.

Next he moves into the dining room where he is about 20 feet from his wife and asks, "Honey, what's for dinner?"
Again he gets no response.

So, he walks up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away. "Honey, what's for dinner?"
Again there is no response..

So he walks right up behind her. "Rhonda, what's for dinner?"
"For the FIFTH time Fred, CHICKEN!!"

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A young man named Chuck bought a horse from a farmer for $250

A young man named Chuck bought a horse from a farmer for $250.
The farmer agreed to deliver the horse the next day.

The next day, the farmer drove up to Chucks house and said, ‘Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the horse died.’

Chuck replied, ‘Well, then just give me my money back.’
The farmer said, ‘Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.’

Chuck said, ‘Ok, then, just bring me the dead horse.’
The farmer asked, ‘What ya gonna do with him?

Chuck said, ‘I’m going to raffle him off.’
The farmer said, ‘You can’t raffle off a dead horse!’

Chuck said, ‘Sure I can, Watch me. I just won’t tell any body he’s dead.’
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, ‘What happened with that dead horse?’

Chuck said, ‘I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at five dollars a piece and made a profit of $2495.’
The farmer said, ‘Didn’t anyone complain?’

Chuck said, ‘Just the guy who won. So I gave him his five dollars back.’

Friday, January 23, 2015

Urban Ducks

I'm used to seeing these creatures everywhere that there is water nearby.  Since this is South Florida, that's pretty much everywhere.

They do tend to stretch the definition at times.  If there is a shower that creates a puddle, and they need it, you have a couple tough old birds flapping around in it and enjoying themselves.

I have used my dog, Rack, the McNab Superdog to herd them before.  Out on the walk, these Muscovy Ducks would be in the middle of the street doing whatever ducks will do, which is practically nothing.

Square in the middle of the street.  Blocking traffic.

Since Rack needs a little socialization time, and that is truly broadly termed, I usually help traffic.  I think the ducks are more afraid of me than my dog because my dog tends not to really care and merely follows my lead.   I walk closer to the ducks and eventually Rack comes along.  The ducks don't care for that so they waddle off away from me.  It is like putting like poles of the magnets together, I am not trying to scare them, they wander away.

In this case, I was sitting in the car looking for things to occupy myself.   We went shopping the other day for a TV for an office.  It's not like there needs to be a TV in a car other than to get it home.  Or work.  Or wherever it is going.  We're perfectly capable of entertaining ourselves without watching TV in a car.  After all, there are other toys.  The Radio.  The Phone.  Making faces at the other cars on the road.  Having a conversation.  Pulling on an imaginary chain and hoping that the trucker will blow his horn.

Do they still do that?  Is it a thing?  I remember getting a trucker to blow his horn once.  Just once when I was a kid.

I'll stop digging, take my shovel, the hole is big enough.

Near the store, adjacent to the property was a small pond.  Large enough to show on the map, small enough not to have a name.  No fountain in it.  It's South Florida.  If you have a pond you will have fish.  You will have wading birds.  You may have a fountain.  Who knows why, it pleased someone.   You may even have an alligator.

Yes, there's water, don't go in, you may get eaten.

But the ducks seem to know what is going, whether there is a gator or not, where to find what they need, and if something comes too close like an errant herding dog and its owner, they'll wander off.

Being ducks, they'll find shelter eventually in places you don't expect them.  They may even entertain you simply by being there.

Like this time.  I watched the TV get removed from its box, inspected, gingerly slid back in.  It was then hoisted on the shoulder and brought back to the car.  After sitting in the car for 10 minutes, I decided I needed a picture.  Why not, after all it's not every day you see ducks sitting under a parked Semi truck.

I guess since I didn't move too quickly they didn't care.  Being an annoying photographer, I eventually got too close.  They're too mellow to care too much but one of them stood up and moved off a whole six inches or so.

Aren't most photographers annoying?

Doesn't matter.  I entertained myself, got the picture, we got the TV, and went on our way while the ducks settled back down in pretty much the same position they were in when I got there.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mint Tea. It Only Takes 26 Minutes!

Mint Tea is one of those things.

If you like it, you go out of your way to get it.  Fresh is best so you'll grow the stuff in the yard.  You also are warned "It will spread, so put it in a pot!".

My godmother Kathie and her husband Larry had a bit of mint growing in their yard when I paid a visit a while back.  Kathie was going through her pots looking for things for me to try to plant here and when we spotted the mint, she asked if I wanted some.

Sure!  I love mint tea and it's much better that way!

I trotted home and stuck it in a medium sized pot with some soil on the drip feed irrigation lines and waited.

It grew, vigorously, and now I have a pot with tendrils that are looking to find a new home somewhere else like a Borg hive trying to assimilate my garden.  So far I have managed to keep the yard safe from being taken over but who knows how long that will last.

That thought came to mind as I went to the kitchen.  7:40am.  I noticed that Rack trotted out to the back door as I was cleaning the mug out in the sink.  He was staring at me through the back door glass and the kitchen window.

Realizing that didn't work, he came over and stared at me from the hall.

"What?" I said.  He stared at me until I asked "Show me what you want!".
Back to the back door and I let him out.

Went back and cleaned the mug more.   Rack had done a lap of the pool, the yard, disturbed a squirrel in the shrubs and was now sitting down looking at me from the kitchen with that "You know I wanted you out here with me stare".

*sigh* I went outside.

Rack immediately started playing the "stomp and chase me game".   Running around the pool in circles, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, he would smile as he ran.

*STOMP* Another circuit of the yard, this time disappearing through the wormhole to the other dog friendly planet behind the shed.

He blazed forth out of the area behind the shed with me clapping my hands to keep the energy going.  I inspected some of the plants on the drip feed irrigation and went back to clapping my hands.

This is a game I don't play before 7AM.  It was now 7:50AM.

Running around the bougainvillea, he cornered it seemingly one millimeter off the ground and flew past me in a black and white blur.  I shouted "MURFF!" at him and clapped my hands a few times as he woofed back.

Scrabbling around the spa, he jumped through the hand rail at the steps at the back of the pool, cornering around the table, past the chair and the pool equipment.  Seemingly stopping in mid air and turning 180 degrees, I had 45 pounds of McNab dog running, full speed towards me on the return circuit.

I lifted my right leg and he ran under it, leaping back over the corner of the pool and through the hand rail.

Getting to the far side of the pool, he threaded himself between the Mango and the Banana in the pot, hovered in midair, then plopped down onto the grass where he started to munch on a flower from the sorrel that grows there.

"WOOF!" *CLAP!*  Rack slapped the ground.  I got closer and looked at him through the foliage.  He leapt up and tore through the yard again, out to the garden gate, then made the jump to hyperspace.

That dog can make the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs!

When the stars winked back into normal space, Rack was trotting over to the spa.  He seems to think that its a watering bowl.  Not good, we've got a salt system to make chlorine, and neither chemical are good for drinking.

"Rack?  Water?"  He stopped and trotted past me, the bougainvillea, and stood by the hose in the corner.  I got the water flowing after squirting my right boot, and pant leg.  Cupping my hand, Rack drank the water I poured into it with gusto.

Apparently, Dogs who are capable of Hyperspace jumps are actually steam powered!  Go fig!

He tanked up and immediately got started back in the game of running around the pool. I was looking forward to my tea now, the sprig of mint was picked on my next pass of the pool and the pot.

It was 8AM exactly.  20 minutes in. Still no tea.

Rack comes first, but he was slowing down to mere interplanetary speeds.  The launching through the pots was accurate, but merely only airborne instead of causing a wormhole effect.

He ran past the bougainvillea, made a sharp turn and tore the turf up.  Hmmm, not the best, he's slowing and getting a little less accurate.  Lets see if I can get him inside the house....

Nope.  Time for another lap around the pool.  The turn around the back side of the pool was done with a little scrabbling through the giant philodendron, and past the shed at a trot.

I think we're done.  I guided him into the house after washing his feet back at the hose pipe.

Powering on the burner, I knew I would have hot water and mint tea soon.   The kettle whistle sounded at 8:06AM.

Mint Tea.  It only takes 26 minutes!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rack Says: Pizelle Me!

I'm creating a monster.

Actually, it's not so bad, and yes, I am overreacting.  It's a sign that my fearful McNab Dog, Rack is growing.

When I got the little guy, he was only 7 months old, totally fearful, and completely overwhelmed.

I mean, Completely.  Capital C Completely.

Shelter dogs don't understand why they were abandoned, and when you take one of the Number One Smartest Dog Breeds out there, rip them away from their family, and dump them in a concrete pen with other dogs, they shut down and develop emotional problems.

The dogs that curl up in the corners are the ones that end up getting put down more than many others because most people are lazy and won't take the chance on a dog that just can't manage greeting them other than curling up in a ball in the corner and shivering.

We're good with that.  Actually, my Lettie was fearful too, in her own Alpha Dog way.  We know how to manage that, and realize that with time, you can turn a Fearful Dog into a Dog of a Lifetime.  Lettie was, Rack will be. 

Rack is getting close already.

His personality is opening up a little more each day, just like that prized flower in the garden that you wait for all year to open up.

He's showing his needs in his own way.  His way is staring a hole through me.  With twin brown eyes that are laser beams.

Now, Rack has his problems.   He is missing what the vet called a "Pre-Molar".  A tooth.  So with all the fear he went through, and the trauma of being moved from the area around Rome, GA to Deltona, FL to the excellent Dog Liberator's shelter, he has to go through pain.  I was feeding him a specific Dry Food Diet because he can't digest grains.  The dry food gets mixed 1 cup to 2 ounces of boiling water and soaked.

Grains will turn his butt in to a chocolate soft serve custard dispenser, as someone near and dear to me calls it.

Chicken and other poultry is off the menu for the same reason, which is a shame, because when I am not making "Asian Inspired" Pepper Steaks and other things, I cook a lot of chicken.

I have to watch other more basic foods.  He can't have those common bone shaped cookies everyone likes, they're simply too hard.  His treats are all soft.

Too bad, because he's starting to beg.

Most people would hate that, but I'm seeing it as Rack asserting his own wants and needs and doing it in a social way.  I'll tone it down, and if I say "Not For Dogs", he understands he's not getting any and goes away to do dog things in a dog way without any fuss.

I'm the Alpha, after all.  The Pack Leader.  The one who walks him 3 miles a day and taught him if the leash gets dropped, circle back immediately and wait for instructions.


I'm athletic and live an active lifestyle as a result.  I snack a lot.  I'm tall, so it takes a lot of calories to "Maintain Weight".

I also tend to sit in a low chair, an Ikea Poang, for too many hours a day and do my thing with the computer.  It's low.  When he walks over his back is higher than the arm of the chair.

Sitting down after doing some computer work, I needed a snack.  I grabbed three Pizelles.  Those Italian snowflake cookies that are hard and round.   They're made in a press, and end up being rather firm.  Not really Rack Friendly Food since they're also made with a lot of All Purpose Flour.  Wheat.

I tried explaining this to the Faithful Sidekick.  I really did.  It didn't work.   Pizelle number one went down leaving an after taste of Anise on my lips.  Great cookies, and we make them at home.  There are always a few in the freezer here.  There are only a few left.   We should make more.

I told that to Rack as I was having brown eyes bore holes through me as I finished Pizelle number two with that last dog sized morsel going into my mouth.

Yum.  They're great.  The chocolate ones are much lighter and my favorite, but the Anise ones are good too now that we worked out to double the amount of seeds dropped in the recipe.

I said that as I was squaring off the Pizelle and eating it into shapes.

Rack didn't care, he just wanted to taste that damn cookie.  "After all it looks like those weird things you cram in the Kong, Give It To Me."

Or so I thought he said.  I bit off more of the last Pizelle turning it into a palm sized triangle.

It's Wheat, You can't have Wheat and you know it!

*sigh*  Nibbled it back into a rectangle.

He didn't care.  He must like the smell of Anise Seeds.  I'm hearing from the Kitchen "Don't give him that, he'll just get sick"

I handed Rack his prize.  A Thumbnail sized bit of Pizelle.   I'm such a soft touch.  "They really are that good", Rack thought as he trotted away, crunching the cookie against his missing Pre-Molar.

The things Dogs will do for Forbidden Foods!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Can You Catch A Dog In A Spiderweb?

I spotted it from the bedroom, shimmering in the morning sunlight.

It was humid with the sun was fighting through the early Marine layer.

It was a large spiderweb inhabited by a large crab spider.

Giving it some room, I circled to the back to see what I could see.  Trying to catch the sun in the water droplets, I had a trick of perspective.

It looked like my backyard had been attacked by an arachnid of nuclear proportions.  A huge web that threatened to take my shed with it, was threatening my dog, Rack.

No, Rack!  Don't go there!  The Spider will get you!  You'll be Crab Food!

Seemingly unconcerned about the tricks that my eye were playing, he glanced over at the pool.

The Spider didn't care.  I was close and it wasn't moving from its place on the opposite side of the web.  Its eight eyes were apparently not watching me so much as what was going on at the back of the property with the dog.   I sprayed some water onto the web to highlight what nature had started.  The water that landed there shimmered green, then white, refracting the sunrise that had been coming into view. 

Next time, Mr Spider, Next time.  I shall leave you to your lair, but you will not molest the dog with your giant web of doom.

Come Rack!  Inside!  Lets go!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King on Nonviolent Change

For this day, I wanted to see if I could find something that explained something that happened years ago that I had missed.

I am engaging in a little historical fact checking in my own head, a little self-reeducation of things that I had forgotten.

I had heard that Dr. Martin Luther King had been a strong believer in the process of nonviolent change.  Through the dust and fog of the intervening years, and through the current disturbances through the world, it was a strong contrast to how things have happened in this century.

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964)

This is one of the videos that I have found that speaks to the subject.  It is Dr Martin Luther King being interviewed at some point in the 1950s after the desegregation of the Little Rock, Arkansas schools where he gives his own views on the subject as well as his own theories on how to effect change in society.

If you ignore the interviewer, who was not terribly effective, you hear MLK's own words on this subject.

"Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good"  MLK

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A man ordered the soup at a restaurant and asked the waiter to try it..

Man: Waiter, will you try the soup?
Waiter: What's wrong Sir, is it too cold?

Man: Will you just try the soup.
Waiter: Is it too hot?

Man: Will you just try the soup
Waiter: Is it too spicy, Sir?

Man: Will you just try the damned soup son
Waiter: If there is something wrong with the soup...

Waiter: FINE! I'll try the soup. Where's the spoon.

Man: Exactly.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

When Beethoven Passed Away

When Beethoven passed away he was buried in a churchyard.

A couple days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Beethoven was buried.

Terrified, the drunk ran and got the priest to come and listen to it.

The priest bent close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music coming from the grave.

Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate.

When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said, "Ah, yes, that's Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, being played backwards."

He listened a while longer, and said, "There's the Eighth Symphony, and it's backwards, too.

Most puzzling." So the magistrate kept listening; "There's the Seventh... the Sixth... the Fifth..."

Suddenly the realization of what was happening dawned on the magistrate; he stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, "My fellow citizens, there's nothing to worry about. It's just Beethoven decomposing."

Friday, January 16, 2015

When Someone Brags About MPG Just a Little Too Much

I was told this story years ago.
I have heard it retold many times.
Each time, the details change slightly, as all good stories do.

It was told to me about back in the days of the Air Cooled Volkswagen Beetle, but it could just as easily be told today about a Toyota Prius.

I'm sure it has been.  I'll just stick to the original.  I was walking down Wilton Drive last night with Rack and Kevin and Kevin was beginning to tell it back to me.  When he mangled it, I of course jumped in with both boots and retold it as I remembered it.  I'll try to put pen to paper here, maybe you'll enjoy the story too.

The story goes that there was a guy who bought a new VW Beetle and was astounded about how good the car was on gas. This was in the days of the big slow turning V8s that got single digit gas mileage.

Yeah, its the US and we still use Miles.  Deal with it.

The guy came to work one too many times, told the story how he was getting better than twice what the big Chevys, Chryslers, and Fords got.  Working in an office where people saw each other each day, maybe met after work for a few at the corner bar or pub, well this was a group that stuck together.

But they heard the story one time too many and decided something had to be done.

Knowing that Beetle Guy was in an inside office all day, the Ringleader hatched a plan to mess with his head.

What Ringleader was going to do was go out each day and add a little gas to the car.  After all, you're not ruining the car, you are just giving Beetle Guy a little extra gas.  Free!

About a week later, the stories started coming back louder and stronger!

"Guys! You won't believe it!  The car's breaking in and I'm getting better and better mileage!  I swear I could drive a month on this tank!".

Cue the snickering behind their hands.  "Yeah, we all heard it before".  They feigned indifference.

Ringleader said "Oh yeah?  You must be getting three times what I get in my old Ford.".
Beetle said "Yeah! I think I could drive all the way to the city, down to the shore, up to the mountains, and all on one tank!"

At this point it had been going on for a while and the stories got longer and shriller.  Beetle was thinking about taking the car cross country "Since I'm getting this amazing mileage!".

It was time to change tactics.  The ringleader waited until Beetle guy went into his office and he told the crew what was next.

Ringleader said "Ok, guys!  Instead of adding a gallon a day, now I'm going to take it back!  I'm going to siphon a gallon a day out of the tank.".

The office roared in laughter.  Ringleader went out on the first coffee break and siphoned out a gallon.  Poured it back into his car.  After all, he's just reclaiming what's his, right?

This siphoning went on all week.

It didn't take long.  The bragging from Beetle Guy stopped almost immediately.  People started asking questions.  "What happened with your car? We're not hearing about it any more.".

Beetle guy said "I don't know what happened!  I was going along with the car getting 50 MPG!  I could go anywhere!  It never emptied, that gas gauge never moved, then all the sudden it went nuts!  I have an appointment for the first service this week so I'll ask there!".

Ringleader egged him on "Why, buddy?  Doesn't that car get amazing mileage anymore?".

Beetle Guy said "I'm not sure, I'm so disappointed with it now.  I'm even thinking about trading it in!".

It was this point where Ringleader "fessed up".

"It was us.  You were bragging so much with the car, and going on and on about how many MPG you got and holding it over our heads we had to do something!".

Beetle guy was wondering and not sure what to expect.

"Last month we added a gallon a day to the VW.  This month, we took a gallon a day back!"

So you see, sometimes when you brag, a little too much, someone comes by and siphons your gas tank!

That Karma thing works even in a Car.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rack The McNab Superdog Romps in Wilton Manors

He's a working dog.
Why are you keeping him in a house?
Doesn't he get out of control?  Tear things up?  Bark like crazy?

Yes, he's a working dog.  He's also amazing.  He's amazing in the house and out of the house.

We have all heard stories about dogs that bark like mad for no reason.  They sometimes go out into The Yard and bark at the skies.  They may bark at a passing airplane.

That's a sure fire clue that the people in that house do not need a dog, and that the dog is bored.

I'd be willing to bet that the people would also benefit getting out and walking a good solid mile or more, no matter what the breed of dog, no matter what psychological problems the dog has, and no matter where they live.

Otherwise, I stand by my original assessment, they probably should not have a dog.


It is definitely possible to keep an intelligent and active breed dog in a house.  There are people who do it in small Manhattan apartments.

You have to give them a job.  Every breed benefits from having a job, that's what dogs do, active or not.

That is what I am doing here.  Rack's job is to burn off energy and act silly.

We call it Doggy Pong.  One of us is one or more houses away on a quiet street from the other.  Then we send Rack back and forth.   It usually takes about three cycles or so of back and forth to get him to tire.

If you think he's not enjoying this, take a look on his face when he comes back the second time.  The mouth is smiling so broadly that he looks like his head will split open.

The run back and forth is just a flurry of legs going every which direction, feet pounding on pavement, and fur flying in the breezes.  I swear it looks like an old Looney Tunes cartoon where Wile E Coyote is running after that Roadrunner.

Painted railroad bridge and falling boulders omitted.

It's an all ages video, and in full HD.  If you want to see it outside of this page, hit this link to youtube.

Otherwise, enjoy.  We do this all the time!  Even the neighbors get into the act.  When Rack pauses, mid video, and looks over his shoulders, a potential buyer for the property is laughing at the romp and joins in on the fun.

Doggy Pong!  A Game The Whole Family Can Play!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Windows 7 - You Have Five Years Left

Start the drum beating.

Microsoft reminded us that yesterday, January 13, 2015, that they stop all support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020.

Now for most people they will yawn and move on.  After all they will wear out the cheap $250 laptop they are using now and move onto another cheap $250 laptop by then, sliding it under the bed or into the closet and forgetting about it until cleaning day.

"Hey!  I need to do something about that old computer!".

For large businesses who haven't even migrated onto Windows 8, they will look at the notices and hopefully begin to plan.  It is five years in the future, and while you still can get Windows 7 today, the machines they buy today will still be in use in three years, and possibly five.

Most people just shrug and accept the operating system that comes with the computer anyway.  It's easier and you don't have to worry about it until it gets too many viruses and you start looking for an answer.  At $200 per "In Store" virus removal at a big box store's "Squad", it is probably cheaper to just "move on" and get new at the low end.

It's not one of those doom and gloom things, after all.  You have five years.  The machine you are using to read this blather will most likely be "recycled" but it is something to consider.

If you are one of those poor folks who has soldiered on with Windows Vista, you have until April 11, 2017 - a mere two years and a bit.  Then the most hated operating system since Windows 8.0 will be completely unsupported, just like the dearly departed Windows XP.

To be fair, once you get all the Service Packs, Bug Fixes, and Additional Changes installed in Windows Vista, it works fairly well.  It's just bloated, slow, and you'll be better off on Windows 8.1 as well.

But for Windows 7, this means that you will still get patches, just no new features.  Virus updates, bug fixes, and any other patches will get sent along as usual, but nothing really new.

Oh, and about that old computer?  If it runs Windows 7, it probably can run Windows 8.  If it runs Windows 7, I am certain it can run some variation of Linux, and if you really are nervous about support, some of those server versions of Linux are supported for another 15 years while others get another 5 with easy upgrade paths.

After all, that is what this blog is written on - Linux on a hand me down computer.  But Linux isn't for everyone, even if I did train a 69 year old lady and her 35 year old son how to use it. 

Great story for an interview, though!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Microsoft Discontinuing Their Advanced Notification Service for Patches

Not the best news to come out of Redmond in a while

For Mom and Pop, they'll get the news the way they always had, their machine will restart on a Tuesday or Wednesday, they'll ask someone what is going on, and they'll hear "Patch Tuesday" out of their grand kids or their children, shrug and go on.  It's all automatic, isn't it?

For Businesses and IT support people, this Advanced Notification Service is more important. 

What happened was that it gave someone in the know the advanced notice that Microsoft was going to push a patch to their computers at some level on Patch Tuesday, typically the Second Tuesday of the Month.  It would tell them what the patch would do, and let them know some more background info on the patch.

Great.  It would also warn these people that if your computer is broken when it forces a restart, you may have to back out the patch and restore to an earlier time.  It may allow them a cushion of time to test their servers, create extra backups, revisit whether their computer security policies are up to date.

That Good Computer Hygene is a part of Information Technology.  They're made by people, people sometimes have an oops.  Best to let them know what's up and give advanced warning.

The reason you need this information is that it's entirely possible your entire business sits on "That Computer In The Corner".  They may not know what it does, but they do know it's an important box.  They may call it The Server in hushed tones, and give it offerings of tapes from time to time.

They hopefully have backed the machine up, made sure that they could gracefully reverse changes and so forth.

For my own sanity, I turned off automatic updates years ago, and keep turning it off every time I get a new machine or upgrade one.  I then make it a point to manually go to Windows Update and get "up to date" a couple days later.

The reasoning I have behind that is that while Microsoft is diligent in making sure that things work, their tests don't involve the machine that is in my lap in this exact moment.  That patch may be great on the box sitting three timezones away, but it may break when it gets to me, specifically. 

I tend to be on the trailing edge with Windows Update for that reason.

The blog posting that Microsoft made did say that the service will be available for a fee so their largest customers can manage their server farms with the information that isn't getting out so widely.

Information leaks, it's like carrying water in a leaky bucket.  Information will get all over your shoes and water the grass on the way in from the well.

But it does make things a bit less secure since Information is best used when it is widely spread.  It also puts the onus back on the individual or the person in the business who is charged with maintaining them.

Hopefully everyone has their Backups and their Restore Points set, right?

Oops. Caught myself there. It has been a week or three since I have done a proper backup.  Happens to the best of us and the rest of us.

While Manually updating Windows Update is what I personally do, it is a bit annoying and it is something you have to remember to do.  On the other hand, Automatic Updates is a bit like flying in an airplane without a seatbelt.  It is safer to fly than drive, but once in a long time something happens and you hit some turbulence.

It's all up to you and that is what I think Microsoft is telling us - Security through updates are up to you, after all it is your data and your computer.  Just be aware best practices and of what is going on around you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Winter Griller Gets Confused

I had a long standing tradition.

If I did it here in Florida, this far South, it would require a scene worthy of a disaster movie, so it's something best done up North.

I would wait.  Bide my time.  Eventually it would happen.

I knew it was coming, I can't remember a year that it didn't.


When it came I was ready.  I had to go out back and grill.

Back then it was a flying saucer shaped Weber grill, a chimney to start the charcoal without that nasty starting fluid, matches and newspaper.

Come on, nobody really likes the taste of that starter fluid stuff on their steaks!

The charcoal starter was a nice, safe way to work through any lingering pyrotechnic/pyromaniac frustration you had leftover from when you were a wee brat.  Just crumble newspaper, set a steel cylinder on top of it, fill with charcoal and light the paper.  It would burn, catch the charcoal, and in about 10 minutes you could cook.

That was the plan.  Any breeze coming up the driveway and you had to get more paper since it would fan the flame and burn it all up too quickly.

I'd do that every time the first snow happened.  I would usually do it on any notable snowstorm during winter.   In and out the back door with steaks prepared to my liking along with burgers for the nay sayers and some corn to grill.

I was That Guy.  In the side yard.  Laughing at the weather.

All that went through my head as I pulled Lisa's Pepper Steak from the freezer.  Lisa passed back in summer, and when Bill moved off he dropped off two steaks at the house.  One was an amazing Delmonico steak that was tender like butter.

This second one was labeled "Pepper Steak" and "Product of Australia".  I promised to cook it upside down to make sure it wasn't confused.

A full pound of upside-down Frozen Pepper Steak was in my hands.

Slapping this freezer-aged steak on the counter, I went about my business dreaming of snowy afternoons and grilling food for friends, all the while looking at my swimming pool and the palm trees of the backyard.

When the time came, I laid out some plastic wrap to pound the steak with a big metal mallet.   Opening the package I realized I was confused.  The meat had been sliced down to thin ribbons.   Pepper steak?  This was sliced for someone to prepare a savory Asian Inspired delicacy, not for some confused Jersey Boy to pound to a pulp and grill in the backyard by the pool.

Cue the laughing.

Cue my grumbling as I went Australian in the kitchen.  Upside down under the oven.  That's where we have the Wok.  Actually, much to our chagrin, I have two.  You can never have too many Woks.

Never mind that, I enjoy Asian Inspired Cuisine (TM) and make it well.  Actually I make it well For Me.  You make it well For You.  It's like a burger.  The best burger in the world is one you make to your own specifications - for me it is Meat, Heat, and Eat.

I'll (TM) that one later.

I dutifully put it all on the heat, added a tablespoon or five of olive oil and another tablespoon of Anise Seeds.  When that all started to bubble and pop, I tossed in Lisa's Steak.  Add in some Hoisin Sauce for flavoring, about an ounce or two, to give it a sweet and savory sauce.

The house smelled like a restaurant, so I was on my way.

When the steak was cooked through, which took about 4 minutes, I dumped a two pound bag of pre-cut Asian Inspired Vegetables.

Hey, that's what they called it on the bag.  "Asian Inspired".

Politically Correct Water Chestnuts, Chopped Broccoli, and Red Bell Pepper chunks that I actually didn't pick out to nibble on as it cooked.

Still frozen, I had to wait for the wok to warm up again.

The noises and smells of the feast drew my faithful sidekick, Rack the SuperDog (TM). 

"Dad, can I have a taste too?" his brown eyes said as he caught me nibbling a choice chunk of Pepper Steak now cooked perfectly.

I flicked a piece to the side and handed it to him.

Doggy heaven.

Human Heaven too.  I forgot how much I enjoyed home made Politically Correctly Named Asian Inspired Pepper Steak.

Like a good old friend, even if it wasn't made in the backyard swatting Mosquitoes away.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Did you hear the one about Dave?

So Dave is looking for a new job and he gets an interview at a big corporation with the CEO.

During the interview the normal questions are asked like what qualifications he has, his flaws, etc...

Then the CEO asks Dave, "Give me one solid reason why I should hire you."
Dave replies, "I literally know everybody."

The CEO looking confused says, "What do you mean literally everybody?"
Dave explains to the CEO that he literally knows everybody and encourages the CEO to name any one person and he promises he knows them.

"I bet you don't know Tom Cruise", says the CEO
"Tom!? Oh hell yeah! We took a few acting classes together back in college, great guy."
"Bull!" the CEO replies, "I'm getting us flight right know and we are going to go visit him."

So Dave and the CEO get on a plane and head out west to find Tom Cruise's home.

After some searching they find it and go to knock on the door.

To the CEO's surprise Tom answers the door and the first thing out of his mouth is, "DAVE! Oh man, I haven't seen you in ages, come on in and share a drink with me!"

After a few hours of shooting the breeze and pounding some brews the CEO and Dave decide its time to leave.

On the way to the airport the CEO tells Dave, "Ok, so I'm still not convinced, I mean, small world right?

You couldn't possibly know Tom Cruise AND the president!" Dave smirks and says, "Would you like to go find out?"

The CEO immediately buys plane tickets to go to D.C. to see if Dave is full of it or not.

The two manage to get on a tour of the White House when out of no where the CEO hears somebody yelling, "Dave! Hey! Dave! So good to see you! Ive got a lot of meetings today but lets get a cup of coffee real quick!"

The CEO turns around to find that the president is the one yelling at Dave. Stunned and almost convinced that Dave literally knows everybody, the CEO says, "Ok, mister, Tom Cruise and the president, that's impressive, but I highly doubt you know the Pope!"

Dave then recalls stories of his parents growing up in a small town with the Pope.

The CEO ready to finally call Dave out fronts the bill for tickets to the Vatican to try and meet the Pope.

As they stand in the crowd of thousands and thousands of people waiting to be blessed by the Pope, Dave tells the CEO, "I'm going to try to get us a better view."

Dave makes his way past a few guards and up some stairs and the next thing you know he's walking out next to the Pope.

Dave returns to find the CEO is having a heart attack. Dave asks what happened and the CEO replies,
"I was blown away by the fact you knew the Pope but what really got me was the guy behind me who said, 'Hey! Who is that jerk with Dave?'"

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A guy takes a girl to the State Fair for their first date

A guy takes a girl to the State Fair for their first date

The guy asks her what she wants to do, she says, "I want to get weighed."

So they visit the weighing booth, where the worker attempts to guess her weight.
He guesses wrong the first time, and she gets a teddy bear.

They get some funnel cake and play whack-a-mole, until the guy asks again, "I'm having a really great time with you. Now what do you want to do?"

She replies, "I want to get weighed!" Confused because they'd already done this, the boy takes her to a different weighing station, and the person there also guesses wrong. She wins a goldfish.

After some cotton candy and a merry go round ride, he asks for the third time, "Wow, babe, that was really fun, but what do you want to do now?"

Frustrated, the girl says, "I want to get WEIGHED!" And the guy is exasperated, but takes her to another weighing station, where the worker actually guesses her weight correctly.

But by now, the boy is really irritated and drops off the girl at home without so much as a kiss.

When the girl returned, her mother asked, "How was your date, sweetie?"

"Wousy," the girl replied.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Orchids Against The Shed

I would come down here every year, just like all the other snowbirds.

I actually got to enjoy what many would have seen as foolhardy, or simply difficult.  That drive.  1200 miles of it, one way.  Plus another 200 miles if I were going to Key West.

Or so.

Usually I'd stop off and get some things for people left behind Back Home.  It's always said like that "Back Home", in capitals.  I'm not completely sure, but if you listen to a tourist, they're always stressing things, including themselves.  The people out in California tended to use the phrase Back East in the same way.

Gone, not forgotten, not completely sure what to do about them.

All of that and none of it.  Language, it's a strange art.

One of my habits was to stop off at a big box store that sells plants, and pick up some Orchids to take back.  Plants that would cost at least $50 if not $100 could sometimes be found on a street corner here if you knew where to look.  Out of the back of a pickup in a scruffy part of town, 4 for $10 as the scrawl would say.

That's crept up to $4 for 20 more recently.

The plants were never that pricey to begin with.  I also knew they wouldn't last long once they got where they were going.  Those little seedlings rarely did.

That was because the plants were being put into a climate they didn't belong in.  Centrally heated air held little of the humidity they needed, and the drafts falling off of a 1950s tract home's single pane glass would freeze a dish of water if the conditions were right.

This was the same kind of plant. I picked it up in a mesh bag as a seedling.  No more than a few leaves and a stem or two.  I was promised beauty of an exotic flower, if the conditions were right.

Stuck into a wooden frame with some bits of bark, it grew well and put forth flowers.

That was a couple years ago.  I had noticed that that pot was getting sad.  The wood was now riddled with weak spots and there was practically nothing left of the Orchid Bark.

Whatever plants they get to chip up to make Orchid Bark that is

It got re-potted, and it did well.   Some of that mystery bark.  I also got creative with the Spanish Moss.  Great beards of the stuff grow in my nasty bougainvillea and need to be cut back.

The Spanish Moss now could play for ZZ Top, I tell you!

Fist fulls of the packing material like moss went into the Orchid pots as well as that sad lingering staghorn fern that we have back under the giant sea grape tree.

I think it liked it.  It stopped blooming for a while.  Simply paused.  Then it started sending out blossoms like it was going out of style.

All this from a seedling we didn't expect to survive.  Go fig!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Little Mysteries Of Writing

Sitting down at a keyboard and writing, rambling on, can be an odd preoccupation.

You end up having a conversation with the inside of your skull.  An imaginary person is sitting there, and you're talking away.

It is possible to be entertaining, instructional, and engaging.  It is even possible to do all of that all at once.

It is possible to annoy, anger, and enrage.  I've done that as well.  In fact I've had someone once, thankfully just once, threaten me.

I laughed it off.  Being "On The Net" since the dusty old days of when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and the years started with 19, I have watched things go from being an academic discussion to the current obsession with cats, selfies, selfies with cats, and butts. 

Thanks to some pseudo-celebrities, it's even Selfies with Cats and with Butts. 

We're doomed I tell you, Doooomed!

This audience is always imagined, and sometimes it shows its head.  Mostly polite of course.  Most people are, or at least try to be, or at least think they are.

I've been at this for quite a while, and probably will continue for a while.  After all, it's easy to take a picture.  It's even easier to write about what you were thinking about.  I tend to do that and keep a few pictures in abeyance - that's in my back pocket.  Bang out a few paragraphs and so forth.

But you really never know what will get people excited. 

I've found that the recipes and the dog postings are very popular.  There are, however, some days you just don't understand.

This business with statistics.  You go into your favorite blogging platform and you can find out what people were looking at.  You also can do that with Google Analytics.  Both of which I do on a daily basis.

But I think I had a statistical anomaly that I am still scratching my head about.


No don't run away.  It's not going to be banging on about how wonderful it is, or how it's the perfect thing to do with your old computer that got replaced on Xmas or Chanukah or your birthday. 

It is, but that's not the point.

While I do talk about Linux from time to time, I don't do it frequently enough to become an authority about the subject.  I'm kind of "middle of the road" with my knowledge on the subject.  Level 2 support, maybe Level 3, if you're taking notes.

When you look at your statistics and see that you got so many hits from so many places, you have to scratch your head.  Yeah that again.

I got 75 percent of my readers in yesterday from people sitting on a Linux computer.

3 out of 4 readers yesterday agreed that Linux was the platform of choice.

As opposed to about 1.5 percent of them in the real world.

Fifty times more people hit this blog with a Linux computer than in the real world?  Is my math correct?

Penguins unite!  You have nothing to lose but your Microsoft shackles!

As I write this on Windows 8.1 on a rather nice laptop...

Cross platform here.  Platform agnostic.

Dry, I'll stop that before I confuse you.

I just ... don't... get... it.

So instead I will just post a picture of the beach at Fort Lauderdale and call it even.  After all, my own family is suffering through some below 0 F wind chills today.  It won't even hit 70 here today or as we say "It's not a beach day ... unless you're from Minnesota".

But the Linux thing.... I just don't know!

Reminds me that I need to find the chip reader.  There's an i7 laptop that needs a copy of CentOS dropped on it for a server project I want to complete with Wordpress and a proper LAMP stack.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Facebook Privacy Policy Warning - Hoax

There are hoaxes and there are hoaxes.

I can still remember when I was a pre-teen running home from school at lunch so I could be with my dog because there was a rumor going around saying that a particular mall was going to cave in.  At lunch. 

Ok, so I was naive.  The mall was about 30 miles from my house, and who knows why I worried about what the dog was going to do.  How did they know it was going to happen then, specifically?

*sigh* Kids.

But rumors get currency, then the currency gets spent by spreading along the fastest method possible.  Gossip. 

At any rate, these things come and go.

In this day of click through approvals and websites that have you sign things called "Terms of Service" before you use them, you basically sign all your rights away before you even set up your profile.

Sound familiar?  You probably didn't read it anyway, Right?

We've all done this before, most likely Many Times.

The latest one is that Facebook Privacy Policy.  Face it folks, once you put your face on facebook, you face losing face, as well as signing your rights away.

Oh sure, you have some control.  You could simply not post anything there and have a full life.  You know, like you did before you got addicted to this century's CB radio craze. 

You could put copyright notices on all your pictures, and trust me that is a royal pain in the tail.  Just look at the pictures I have on this blog - they're all "Copyright Noticed" as well as hidden text through them...

But that's getting off the track.

The best suggestion I could give anyone who enjoys using Facebook, and I do, is to think before you share.  Look at what you are typing in and ask yourself "What would Grandma think about this?" or "Would I have to explain this to HR at work?" or perhaps "What would I say about this in an interview?".

There are lists of questions I could mention here but the reality is that if you don't want it known, don't share it.

A Secret Told is a Secret Lost.  If you are curating your life, the time to make the selection is before you share it, not after.

If you think someone could use it against you, don't post it.  That's probably a good rule for life.

The notice is compelling.  It tells you that it "Couldn't Hurt" to try it.  It tries to get you to simply copy and paste the text - which generally isn't the best way to handle a "contract".  Knee Jerk reactions are never the best thought out.

It boils down to you saying "I forbid you to act on anything I wrote including this post."  Cyclical Logic much? 

Third parties perhaps, but Facebook?  That notice will have no bearing.

So forget the post, or delete it if you made it. 

If you are wondering about what I'm banging on about, I'll put it here. 

Better safe than sorry right. Channel 13 news was just talking about this change in Facebook's privacy policy. Better safe than sorry. As of January 3rd, 2015 at 11:43am Eastern standard time; I do NOT give Facebook or any entitles associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or post, both from the past, in the present, or in the future. By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version if you do not publish the statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste this. I will leave a comment so it will be easier to copy and paste!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How to Fail At Pizza Crust Without Really Trying

I have a lot of recipes.  Many of them I share, some others I don't.

Oh come on, you know you hold back one or two of your favorites if you really like to cook or bake.  After all, how would you know what to bring to a party?

My chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of those.  I'll let you in on a secret though.  Churn your own butter.  It really makes the flavor pop!  Five minutes in the cuisinart later you have butter and buttermilk.  Make biscuits.

But the thing is that nobody ever tells you of the failures.

For every successful cook, there is a trash can full of fallen souffles, burnt biscuits, and wooden roasts.  Things that got undercooked, or overcooked.
Things that got the wrong proportions.
Things that went into the oven and the power went out.
The yeast might have been bad.

Any of those things!

The recipes I share are tested.  I have done them more than once.  I don't do them rushed.  I take pictures.  I marvel at the color of the crust, the flavor of the crumb, and the mouth feel of the flake.

But I have done them before.

Some of them I have done many times before.

Many many.

Really, that many.

But I am on a quest.  The quest for the Grail?  No Monty, not the quest for the Grail, for Camelot is a very silly place.

The quest is for the simplest recipes I can find for a given menu item.  They may take a little extra time or be quirky, but once I get it figured out, they're golden.

Fudge, for example, is dead simple.  Three ingredients for the basics, then toss in your goodies and you're done.  It can even be done in the Microwave by a bright five year old as a treat for mommy.  Doesn't even need daddy's help, and may even be better without it.  You really just have to "warm up" the chocolate and stir it until smooth.

My friends that are non-cooks or even anti-cooks are those who I find the simplest recipes for.  Cooking is one of those things that everyone, without fail, can learn, but they do have to at least try.

I went onto a search.  A quest!  No, not for that damn Grail, Monty, go sit down in the corner.

I was searching for "Three Ingredient Recipes".  Those usually are the ones that you mash together with a fork in a big bowl and then toss in the oven at an appropriate temperature.

Usually 350F.

For about 30 minutes or until done.

I found a lot of them.  Just go to your favorite search engine that doesn't track what you are doing, type in "Three Ingredient Recipe" and find what you are looking for.

At least that was the theory.

I was planning on a two ingredient pizza crust.  It was easy they said.  A cup of Self Rising Flour and a cup of Greek Yogurt.  They warned it will be sticky and they warned to make sure you used the real Greek yogurt and not the crap that has corn starch to thicken it.

I have everything on hand on a daily basis for that. 

The whole weekend I was thinking about trying this.  Seriously.

Ok, I don't have a life.  So give me one, I'll make failed pizza crusts for you, honest!

Finally I decided it was time to do it that day.  I waited until it was time.  I even had someone here who wanted to watch.  "Drop In" friends will do that.  They will help you if you have a task to get done if you make a hint.

So I got out the mixer. 
Dough hook. 
Self Rising Flour. 
Proper Greek Yogurt that was one step removed from Cream Cheese.
The dog got interested and joined us in the kitchen at this point.
Turn the bloody mixer on.
Get the parchment paper and line the cookie sheet while I'm watching the magic happen.
Dust the cookie sheet liberally with flour so it doesn't stick.

They always tell you that when you make a pizza.  Pizza crusts tend to be drier than bread dough.  Put down a lot of flour and knead well.  It is like playing with clay, you have to work it.

Blah blah blah, this is two ingredients, right?

Finally I get bored with watching it spin and switch off the mixer.

I end up with something that looked more like biscuit batter.  Thick and sticky.  I could use it to spackle a wall.

No, really.  I have a hole in the wall I could have slapped this puppy into and it would have sat there on a vertical surface just drying out and ...

Pouring the batter out onto the flour I began to roll it out.

That would be when I found the problems starting.

It stuck to the paper so I added more flour.

It stuck to the wooden rolling pin so I added more flour.

It started making holes in the crust so I added more flour.

At this point it was about a cup and a half of flour total.  This wasn't right.  The parchment paper was turning into a wet sticky mess and fully bonded with the bottom of the pizza dough.

After about 5 minutes more of this silliness, I got another piece of parchment paper and dusted it heavily with more self rising flour.  I was expecting, that, if I ever got this in the oven, it would burst open in a scene that I Love Lucy would have been proud of as the crust would fall out onto the floor and ask for asylum here in South Florida.

Taking the dough and parchment paper, I flipped it on top of the new parchment paper.  A parchment paper sandwich now, I began to peel the dough off the older paper onto the new.

I began to grumble at this thing.

Cursing everyone from the Doughboy on the commercial to the inventor of commercial yeast, I started to pick at the sticky goo.

Thirty minutes later, I was still picking.  I had peeled about a half of the dough off the paper and I simply gave up.

You see, life is a learning process.  You win some, you lose some.  I'm sure you heard that before.

In this case I probably should have simply added more flour to the mixer until I got to where I could work the dough.  At least that was what my baking skills told me.

I didn't.  I wadded up both layers of parchment paper, the glue like batter, and tossed it unceremoniously into the trash bin.

With. A. Thump.

We had Chicken Parmesan sandwiches instead.
With Home Fries since they cook well with no fuss.

I was beaten but not done.  I know I will have that pizza.  Just with my fool proof yeast risen dough.  After all, it is my sister Pat's pizza dough, and I know that recipe like I know the back of my hand.

All the way down to the piece of dried pizza dough that I found stuck to my fingers when I was eating that Chicken Parm Sandwich.

Mmmm Chicken Parm on Home Made Rolls.

Let me tell you the story of Pat's Pizza Dough....

Monday, January 5, 2015

Problems Feeding Your Dog? Check Their Teeth

I always feed Rack, my McNab SuperDog, dry food.

The wet food is too much of a hassle.  Cans, smell, storage, expense.  We just never considered it for Rack or Lettie before him.

At this point we are feeding him Orijen or Acana.  Once they open their plant in Kentucky later on this year we will reconsider and look for another food that is not made in a place that has such lax laws.

These foods currently are made in Canada and the laws up there are much more strict than they are here.  In fact, they're using almost human grade ingredients.  I can't recommend eating it but you could in an emergency.

I simply don't trust the lack of oversight in a Republican Tea-party infested place like Kentucky to produce a dog food that hasn't had food ingredients slip in that were of Chinese origin.  Too many dog food recalls lately, and too many stories of dogs dying of chronic renal failure like Lettie did.  It was why we stopped feeding our pets anything from Purina in the first place. 

If you want to find out what it is like trying to keep your dog alive when her kidneys slowly fail, I invite you to look at this blog for the tag "chronic renal failure".  That would give you some insight why I am so particular as to what my Rack eats.

But there is a drawback with feeding dry dog food.  Some of those pieces of Kibble are extremely hard.  Rack being a very fearful "Beta" dog, he would soldier on but hate eating the stuff.   We didn't understand why until I started putting things together.

Feedings got slower.  He would ignore his food.  He'd eat other foods but ignore what was one of the better foods on the market. He got hungry and began to beg for food whenever I would eat.

Eventually I started to wonder what was going on.  One of the feedings took a solid half hour and I had had enough of sitting on the floor and putting one piece of Kibble of food inside his jowls and cajoling him to eat it.

Sometimes I would pour some yogurt over top of the food and that helped somewhat.

We took Rack to the vet.  The vet first started suggesting different medications and food additives.  I was dubious but listened.  Then the vet suggested homemade foods either in addition to or instead of what the commercially prepared foods that he had been getting.

I finally spoke up that they hadn't looked at his teeth.  They were getting full of tartar, more than I would think is normal in a 2 year old dog.

More medications, preparations, and feeds were suggested.  The whole while he was getting tossed treats.  He would never eat treats without some hesitation.

The treats they always gave before were hard.  This time the treats were soft.  He tore through them like they were long lost friends.

I again insisted that the vet look at his teeth.  The verdict was that I was right, there was a lot of tartar.

A different vet came in, more suggestions, and finally she looked at the teeth too.

He was missing a "Pre-molar" tooth.  No idea how, perhaps it just wasn't there, maybe it fell out, you tell me.

I took control of the discussion at this point.  Because there was no tooth where one should be, he was trying to chew a hard piece of food against a gum.  Might there be pain that was slowing him down?

The suggestion from the vet was softer food.

My solution was simple.  Boiling water.   I now have a hard and fast recipe for soft dog food.  I also still feed the dry food.

One Cup Dry Dog Food poured into his bowl.  Add to it Ounce of Boiling Water.  Stir the food and water together.  The food would eventually absorb the water over the next five minutes.  Allow it to sit until it soaks up most of the water.

The next feeding when I tried this recipe, it was instant success.   Rack immediately ate the food.

No pushing food into his mouth.
No pleading.
No priming the pump at all.

He began eating the food with a relish I haven't seen in a long time.  In fact to say he tore through it would be a fair description.

He has slowed down, after all it is the same food he normally gets.  Dogs do get bored of the same old thing every day.

But the bottom line is that since they can't easily tell you what is wrong you have to watch closely when something is off.   The special diet that people suggest may just be as simple as pouring two tablespoons of water over top of the food and letting it make a gravy to soak in.

The proof is in the gravy, after all.  He will lick the shine off the bowl now to get at the last drop of the gravy.

We're getting better at it.  He is now getting more confident with his feedings.  After all, how would you like it if you had a big 6' 4" guy looming over you begging you to eat your food!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A church is auditioning for bell ringers in the bell tower

A church is auditioning for bell ringers in the bell tower

Many children show up and finally the priest gets to the last one.

Suddenly a little boy with no arms runs through the door and says, "Am I too late?"

The priest wants to go home but asks the child, "How if you have no arms will you ring the bell?"

Without question the child runs head first right into the bell, barely making a noise.
The priest tells the little child, " I am sorry but that is not loud enough. But thank you for trying my son."

All of the sudden the kid runs full force smacking into the bell with all his might and creates the loudest ring the priest has ever heard.

Suddenly the bell falls and crashes down to the ground below causing the child to fall also to his demise.

When the police show up the officer asks the priest, " Do you know his name?"

The priest sadly says, " No, but his face rings a bell."