Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Unluckiest Guy In The World

A huge guy is drinking in a bar with his friend, when suddenly he sees a dude who looks really depressed.

He looks at his friend and goes, 'You see the guy that seems to be having a really bad day? Well I'm gonna make his day even worse'.

 So he walks up to the dude and drinks the glass that was in front of him.

The dude suddenly breaks into tears and starts crying hysterically.

So the guy is surprised and tries to calm him down: ' Dude relax! I was just messing with you. I'll buy another drink'.

The dude wipes off his tears and goes, 'I just had the worst day of my life. My car broke down on my way to work so I had to take a cab. I forgot my briefcase in the cab and cost my company millions of dollars. They fired me and I owe them their millions. When I got back from work, I found my wife in bed with my best friend. After all that I decided to end my life with a glass of poison, and you didn't even let me do that!'

Friday, February 27, 2015

How Can One Marshmallow Create So Much Havoc For A Dog?

One of those moments of weakness.

I had dinner.  I had dessert.  I had a glass of artificial crap sitting next to me waiting to be drunk.

No, nothing all that bad.  Just artificial diet pineapple soda.  Artificial flavor, artificial color, smelled of pineapple and something else that was unrecognizeable.

Really shouldn't drink that stuff.  Really.  Not good for you.

All this was going through my mind as I padded into the kitchen with the empty glass.  If I didn't there would be artificially colored, artificially flavored sludge in the bottom of the glass that would be disgusting by morning.

Did I mention it kind of looked like something the dog would leave on the fire hydrant?  Yeah, that.

So I reached into the freezer for an ice cube and was going to add a little water to the glass.   May as well have another drink.  It had been a hot day for me.

Looking down into the ice machine, since everything is "down" when you are as tall as I am, I spotted the bag in the bottom shelf of the freezer.

Training tip to all those athletes in your life - keep the real junk food in the bottom shelf of the freezer or refrigerator.  Out of sight, out of mind!

It is a half eaten bag of marshmallows.  They're in the freezer because it is humid in Florida even when the air conditioning is working well.  Keeps them nice and fresh and they don't stick together.  Plus an ice cold marshmallow is an interesting thing.   Try it, if you don't like it, move the bag back onto the damn counter, okay?


I walked out into the living room with the bag forgetting the glass on the counter for the moment.  I hear "Hey!  Marshmallows!  Can I have One?"

Yes, the One was Stressed.  Just One.

I tossed one at Kevin.  Being generous I beaned him on the nose with a second one.  It hit the floor.   Rack had been watching.  He comes over, sniffs the dropped sweet, grabs it and walks it over to his mat in the corner of the room.  I place two more on the bar mat on the little table.  Handing Kevin a second one, unwanted a second time, he thanked me saying "I know I said one, but these are still Good.".

Yes, Good was Stressed.  Simple pleasures.

By the time I stowed the treats in the bottom of the freezer where treats belong and got back to the chair, the fun was beginning.

Rack had been mouthing the cold treat and dropping it.  I reached down to grab the marshmallow thinking he wasn't really all that interested, but I was wrong.  He did the submissive dog thing.  Kept it in his mouth and adjusted himself so that now he was facing the wall.  Mouth, drop.  Mouth, drop, chew.  It was finally time for him to eat that little white puff.

No, Marshmallows are not good for dogs, but they are only bad for them in the way that sweets should be strictly managed.  He did go after his rawhide to brush the treat off his molars when he finished.

" I wonder if he was going to act like a kid high on sugar" was the second thought I had when I sat down. 

You know those kids in a mall you want to duct tape to their parents in hope that both of them will figure out that no, it really isn't acceptable to let your kids run wild in a public place, and yes, they are your problem to solve?

Rack wasn't one ... yet.   He settled down for a while before I noticed that he was starting.  Being a Herding Breed what they do is to make sure order is maintained.   Being a Herding Breed high on Sugar means the OCD kicks in on overdrive.

First I noticed that he went over to the other side of the room.   Grabbing his hedgehog toy, his current favorite, he came back to the mat next to me and was playing with it.  Since we're trying to make sure that he's getting every chance to have confidence building exercises, I would take the coveted toy away and allow him to take it back.  Normally all of this is a gentle and almost half hearted manner.  Today, he pulled it out of my hands.  Assertively.

Interesting, sugar makes my passive dog assertive.

We went back and forth for a while until one of us tired of this.  Then he did the Herding Dog Pick And Place Robot Routine.

They aren't called "Hoarder Collies" for nothing!  I know, he's a McNab and not a Border Collie, but the personality has similarities.

The next half hour was Rack grabbing toys and bringing them from one mat to the other like an industrial Pick and Place Robot.  Back and forth.  First the Hedgehog got the treatment.  It went back to the first mat, then to the corner twice.  Rack is prancing around the living room acting very excited the entire time.  He climbed up onto me, melting into my lap, back feet on the floor.  Repeated the same thing with Kevin.  Then grabbing the hedgehog, he dropped it in my lap, and melted back onto me. 

I tossed the hedgehog over to the other mat while booping him in the nose once or twice.

Rack pranced over to the hedgehog in three hops.  It's a small room, I'm surprised he could fit those hops in.

Placing the coveted hedgehog on the mat in the corner next to me, it was the rope's turn.

Hop! Hop! Hop!  He covered the distance easily.  Circling the room with the rope, he knocked into Kevin's knee, climbed into his lap, wouldn't let the rope go when Kevin grasped it, then walked back into the corner with it and set it next to the hedgehog.

Laying down for all of 15 seconds, he managed to place both toys on the opposite side of the mat, then neatly back where they belonged, directly below where my hand usually goes when I reach down to pet him.

Springing up and HopHopHop across the room to grab the red rubber Kong bone.  Sniffing it to see if anything was in it, it ended up next to the rope in a line, just out of reach.

Hop Hop Hop, next came the nylabone followed by a tennis ball, followed by some other random toy that was in his toy stash.  At this point some were under the rocker recliner I was sitting in stopping it from going all the way back.  Toys were all now gathered, hoarded, and piled in the corner.  He sat down.

Mind you, most nights when we're watching some mindless TV programming, Rack just lays there, napping.  He will wait until five minutes before we are ready to go for the dog walk and then start to gently herd us to walk him.

Not tonight.  Tonight, toys were being flipped in the air, paraded around the room, dropped on feet, and laps.  He would melt into every lap available, pick the discarded toy up, march it into the Florida Room, the open bedroom, bathroom or what ever room was available.

Yes, I had inadvertently given my dog sugar.  It was acting like a stimulant, true to form, he was hyper. 

More like a black and white furry ball bouncing off of walls. 

When all the sudden, it stopped.  Utterly.

It was as if the clouds lifted and the din of a passing freight train had moved off away not to be heard from.

Rack collapsed.  Not with a sigh, but a roll onto his back.

He was directly under my hand.  Picking at my hand with one foot, I can't remember which, he guided my hand onto his belly.

Bellies needed to be rubbed, this was one tired out dog.

So the moral of the story is, while it is entertaining, your dog is best left without marshmallows.  They're probably not the best for you either.  But you will find all the toys dropped into one neat little pile as the energy gets burned off.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lawsuit Against Beneful and Purina on Dog Deaths Is Why I Don't Trust Purina and Nestle Products

Anyone who follows this blog read about my trials with Lettie, my departed dog.  She contracted Chronic Renal Failure and died about two years back.  All that we went through is documented with that tag if you care to search for it from .

She always, and I do mean always, ate Purina products until she got sick.  Then it was too late.  I went through about two years of syringe feeding her until it got to be too much for her and we had to put her to sleep.

After she was gone, we started hearing about Purina and their practice of sourcing ingredients from China in order to prepare their so-called foods.  An overview of the 2007 recalls of petfoods is on Wikipedia, but frankly, a recall of petfoods like the Beneful that I fed Lettie won't bring the pet back.  Once the kidneys are damaged beyond a certain point, function will not be restored.

About the same time, the story leaked out about how the parent company, Nestle believes that all water should be corporately owned.  They're also the same company that aggressively targets women in Africa to get them to buy their own baby formulas.

Kind of sleazy in my opinion.  You judge for yourselves.

After going through all of that, I simply decided for myself.  No Purina for my dog, No Nestle for me.

Simply put it's safer.   A company that is producing something that is fed to a dog is making a decision for a creature who can not decide for themselves.  You can and should decide for them.

When we got Rack, my McNab dog two years back, we vowed never to feed him anything that we could not trust.  That evolved into no US Made dog foods at this point because of the stories of tainted treats and foods that we kept hearing. 

The Federal and State food inspection regimens have been diluted by defunding of the protective agencies.  All inspection that is done by a percentage sampling basis.  That percentage as a result gets lower because of fewer inspectors.  Logically, it would mean that there is a greater chance that tainted food gets through the sampling procedure as a result.

The brand we were recommended to try, Orijen, is made in Canada.  Apparently the laws there are much more strict than the laws we have here.  It's produced with "Human Grade" food, I once read.

Unfortunately, they're so well liked, that Orijen is going to open a plant here in the US, in Kentucky, to meet demand.

So lets see, I've been paying a premium for dog food produced in Canada that will now be made in one of the most poorly enforced states for food production, In My Opinion, in the United States.

When Orijen begins producing the food in the US I will cease purchasing their products.   I don't know where I will go, but I have absolutely no confidence in the ability of inspectors in Kentucky at this time.

Again, My Opinion.  Yours may vary.  I may be overly critical, but I also was the person who had to prepare a slurry of food to syringe down my dog's throat twice a day to keep her alive.

The difference is that the US allows a markedly lower quality of component foods to go into dog foods.  Markedly lower quality meaning sourced from overseas at times.  Yes, you guessed it, China.   China doesn't effectively police their own foods.  Things get sold simply because you are willing to buy them, and there is no active warranty for anyone to pursue.  Just look at the mess that the online electronics markets have become and how easy it is to find on the larger international websites items that have been shipped here directly from China or shipped through other countries to mask their origin.

While a trinket will most likely break and be discarded like so many glow sticks on the street after the latest holidays, a dog, or other pet, is something that a person builds a relationship with like a family member.

Would you feed a child food that may or may not kill them?  I certainly wouldn't with my dog and I won't take a chance with a tainted supply.

So Nestle is off my menu, as is Purina for my dog.  I only wish I knew beforehand since my own Lettie could still be alive today.

Now there is a class-action lawsuit against Purina for these tainted foods.  That won't bring Lettie back.  It won't make the Chairman of the Board lose any sleep.  It will be a slap on the wrist, and they'll just go on draining the water tables since they don't believe that access to water is a fundamental human right, and continue importing Chinese components that may or may not be tainted with Melamine to go into their pet foods.

No matter what, I won't be back.

Again, it's only my opinion.  You decide for yourself.  But I won't buy Nestle or Purina products.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Bird For The Background

I found myself in a novel position.   I was reeducating someone on "How To Florida".

I had always said that once you come here, you adjust and when you leave you have to adjust back.

This is an odd place.  Most of everything you see is artificial.  The Natural was pushed aside, flattened, mined out, leveled, and ignored.  Then we came in and put in "grass" and Palm Trees, and Spanish Mission Architecture, and Mid Century Modern buildings.

Everyone loves Palm Trees, Right?  They'd line broad boulevards in long rows of sentinels guarding the homes we built there in the sun and grow.  Slowly, they would become taller until eventually they would get struck by lightning and have to be replaced.

That's actually a benefit for Florida is where Lightning is Born.  More people are injured per capita here in Florida than any other region in the country.  It might help to explain the mindset here.  Maybe someone had their coconuts electrified and now they're just a bit odd.

Some of us are, thankfully, waking up.  The lawns are never logical in a climate that is a desert for six months of the year and a flood for the rest.  The Palm Trees hit the aquifer that is only a little bit below the soil and soak it up and thrive, but given a chance, there are better things to plant.

Those native things that got pushed aside in the 1950s for example.  Gumbo Limbo trees that look like a tourist that had been let out in the sun too long is a perfect example.  The monstrous sea grape that hit the water table years ago and gets trimmed back about 10 feet a year only to come back just as monstrous as before.

Every year.

Native trees are making a comeback along public roads and commercial areas simply because they are easier to care for.  Something that is adapted to the climate is easier to deal with than something that may run amok.

But this was his first walk back after being away.  I got to repeat the mantra "You need to get used to it again, it's not hot, it's only 76!".

Actually it was an amazing afternoon for a dog walk.  Not a cloud in the sky, light winds, low humidity, and warm breezes off the ocean.  The air was crystal clear as a result.

No, not bragging, I'll shut up here or else you'll just come and visit.  We have our "off season" starting in June when we're all looking over our shoulders at the long distance radar shots at that storm off Cape Verde in Africa and wondering whether it will come this way or just be another fish spinner.

After being in the UK for two weeks, Kevin was melting.  He got to experience Winter in the Isle of Man.  It rains sideways, never seems to freeze long, and when the sun comes out, everyone runs out of the office buildings to look at the strange glowing orb in the sky like a chicken in a rainstorm.

Close your mouth, bird, you're going to drown.

The whole time I am walking around town in a Polo Shirt and Jeans, he's muttering how hot it is.  I'm telling him you're just not used to it.  Thinking about the last time I was a snowbird, that's exactly how it felt.  Nobody goes to Douglas, Isle of Man for vacation in the middle of February, it's a miserable cold that soaks into you.

"Just let yourself thaw out, and get used to it.  Take in the conditions, it's beautiful tonight!"

At that point, in the middle of our own central business district, in the din of the rush hour, after the 50 Bus passes by we start to hear the siren call.   Actually it was a bird, singing loudly, as if to tell us that we were sharing the place with it and it didn't care that we three were there.

In fact, the bird was a bit of a show off.   I slowed down to find the creature, and it even sung directly at me.  Mouth open and a loud chirping birdsong. 

My own romantic thoughts about how pretty it sounded over the traffic aside, Birds call for two main reasons - to find a mate, and to claim territory.

"It's hot tonight, lets get home!"
"It's not hot, you're just not used to it! It's the same temperature it was back in the house!  Come on, we can go."
"Yeah, lets.  We can go up and do the long walk.  You're right.".

The bird didn't seem to care.  As we passed it and walked out of range it was still singing away.  We bickered about conditions, and enjoyed the weather.  It really was a beautiful night.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Am I Boring You?

I spent the last two weeks being a Remote Navigator and Remote Support Person.

Perhaps that is a bit of an "overboard" description, but in some ways it fits.

When someone close goes overseas and then goes again to another place within the same country but not the same country, well you end up getting asked questions.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I was having a bit of fun sending pictures along at the same time to explain things.

In this case, he's back though.  Kevin.  Went to London, then to Isle of Man.  The Isle of Man is its own separate autonomous area where they have the oldest Parliament in the world called the Tynwald

I won't comment directly since I hadn't been there, but it did sound like a great place to go to relax and get away from it all since everything seems to close shop at 6pm. 

Better not have an emergency and need a snack at 7pm!  From the weather stats I saw, you had better do it in August and bring heavy clothes.  68F, 20C as a high in August just sounds frigid to my Florida Acclimated Soul since that basically is as cold as it gets in Winter here.

It works for them and I am not judging.

At one point we were having the conversation equivalent of a small dog yapping and chasing its tail.  Not really sure what it was.  One of us was making a point, the other wasn't getting it.  Five time zones away, a different continent, and all that.  Tends to make it more difficult explaining things.

In the middle of the conversation, Rack came by and apparently wanted some attention.  Then I bored him.

My only complaint about all of that is that I wish I had gotten the picture in better focus!

Timely photograph.  Since we both were on good connections on the internet I was just sending pictures along and getting them in return. 

I'll save the shot though.  It's a bit too fuzzy to do all that much with but who knows what else I can come up with.  A little photoshop here and there never hurt a model on a runway, so it won't hurt my dog.

Curious that it took me two years to notice that little black spot on his tongue.  McNab Dogs are known for their speckles!

Welcome Back Kevin, take my shovel and help me out of this hole that I've dug for myself.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Happy Blog Day, 2000 Postings Or So

Yeah so I might be a day or two early on this.

There are a couple posts already in the chamber so I'll do this today.

2000 postings.  The blog has been around for a while.  Who knows how much longer.  Basically as long as I have ideas, I'll post them.

A view inside my empty head about this though.  I make it a point to not strictly "Reblog" things.  Copy and paste.   If I do something, the recipes are an excellent example, I try my best to add to them and explain how I did it.

Otherwise it's just navel gazing and narcisistic.

But, people do love those recipes.

I have a small "first read" audience.   I haven't been posting it in my own facebook feed because frankly that sort of thing gets boring.  I have a group with some people who wanted to be a part of it.  They'll get my blather and a direct link to today's article.

The "second read" audience fall into my grasp mainly via Google and other search engines.

That shows in what the top five articles are for the blog since I started.

And I do try very hard not to revisit topics unless I can add something to it.  I got something wrong?  Time for a new post.  Got something right?  Let it rest.  Dunno, maybe that's just the way I am

The Gold Medal Biscuit recipe.  Apparently people are searching for biscuits and coming here to read the recipe.  Probably the best biscuit I have ever made.  The secret is in the butter.  Now, if you want to make something obscene, toss a biscuit in the skillet and pan fry them like a donut.

Mmmm Donuts!

Two Cycle Engine Repair.  Say what you will about this blog, I've got depth.  If I can write about replacing the bulb on a string trimmer one day, a recipe the next, and photography the third... well you get the idea.  I'm That Guy.  Show me an adult man who doesn't at least glance at the pile of crap your neighbor tosses out and wonders if he can fix that thing, and I'll show you a man who has lost his soul.

That goes for many women I know too.

Simply Hired User Experience.  Believe it or not, people get paid quite a lot to do this sort of systems analysis and user experience analysis on large websites.  In the case of Simply Hired, they changed their format.  It still stinks.  Maybe I will write another blog article on how clunky it is now that they reskinned it to look all "kewl!".

Or not.

The Impatiens Picture.  I do a lot of Photography.  Or you could say I do a lot of what passes for Photography if you're a hack at it.  No matter what you think of how well, or how badly I take pictures, this single picture is the most popular one here in Ramblingmoose and 

I have been told that all of the small Impatiens have died.  Literally, everywhere.  The same flower exists but they're a taller variety.  The little ones everyone loved?  Gone.

And finally, rounding out my top five:

The Jewfish Bridge picture in the Florida Keys. This is the first "real" bridge you hit when you're going to the Keys.  It's dramatic and a beautiful view.  It's really difficult to not get a picture that you will like.  Then you roll into Key Largo and start about 100 miles worth of driving in slower highways before you get to Key West.  My suggestion is to time it to hit the Seven Mile Bridge at sunset in a convertible. 

No, you may not borrow my Jeep.

That's it for today.  Enough navel gazing.  I don't have any oranges left.

As for how much longer will I keep doing this?  As long as I have time, ideas, and things I think may be interesting to my friends and family.  I don't guarantee it will go on forever.  I don't even guarantee it will happen tomorrow, after all I did  miss a day once. 

One Single Day.

If you really do enjoy this, feel free to complement me.  If you've got an idea for a topic, let me know.  If it sparks my curiosity, I'll write about it.

Like the jokes.  The "first read" audience generally does not like my jokes.  Guess what?  They're popular.  The number 7 article is about Puns and One Liners.

So I'll keep posting those on the weekends for now.  If I get a better idea, then I can always push the jokes off for a day!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Married Woman Goes To The Doctor and says I Hear Voices In My Head

Doctor: "what do the voices say?"
Woman: "they say 'kill your husband"
Doctor: "Ok, that's not good. I'm going to start you immediately on a psychiatric medication. Come back and see me in one week." 
One week later, the woman goes back to the same doctor and says: "I'm still hearing the same voices."
Doctor: "what are they saying now?"
Woman: "they're saying 'beat your husband with a club"

Doctor: "Hmm, I'm going to increase the dosage of your current medication. Come back and see me in two weeks."

Two weeks later, the woman goes back to the doctor and says: "Doctor, now I hear only one voice but it has a slightly different tone"

Doctor: "What does the voice say?"
Woman: "It says 'why did you ever marry him?"

Doctor: "Excellent! you're back to normal. come back and see me in a year."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Little Billy In Math Class

Little Billy was in math class and the teacher asked, 'If there are 4 birds on a telephone wire, and the farmer shoots one of them off, how many are left?'

Little Billy raises his hand and the teacher calls on him, 'Yes Billy?'

Little Billy says 'Zero! Because when the farmer shoots the other birds will fly away!'

 The teacher says, 'Actually, the answer is 3, but I like the way you think.'

 Now this got little Billy steamed.

 He knows what happens when you shoot a gun around birds so plots to get his teacher back.

At recess, little Billy approaches his teacher.

He says to his teacher, 'Teacher, can I ask you something?'

She says 'Sure Billy, what is it?'

He says, well you see those 3 girls across the street eating ice cream?'

She says, 'Yes.'

Little Billy says, the first one is just nibbling at it a bit, the second one is licking the sides and the third one is gobbling it down. Which one is married?'

The teacher is a bit perplexed but says, 'I guess it's the one gobbling it down.'

 Little Billy says, 'No, it's the one with the wedding ring on, but I like the way you think!'

Friday, February 20, 2015

Coming to Florida? Rent Your Own Car, It's Weird Here

Heck, that sums things up.

I got into a quick back and forth with my sister and a couple people here on the coldest day of the year.  After we got into a "Yuh Huh 41 is too Cold!" and "Nuh Uh, 1 degree is colder", I got to thinking.

Now, that's always dangerous.  Me thinking.

It usually involves me standing over the kitchen sink, looking out at the swimming pool, debating the important things in life.  You know, like "It was cold and dry last night, should I top off the pool". 

Yes, almost always.  If the water level has dropped below the middle of the row of tiles, give it a couple hours.

Why do people have pools again?  I haven't used mine since last Spring anyway and then only because I was the fool that went out and trimmed the hedges when it was full sun and almost 90 degrees.

But my sister.  Pat.  You're welcome to come down but rent your own car.

That's not me being grabby, that's me being realistic.  Snowbirds, yourself included, will begin flooding South Florida.   We're the closest warm place, and warm is relative today, to the Big Cities Up North. 

Every time I go out driving I'm reminded why I'm not incharge of the roads here.  Between the locals who don't know how to drive, and the Snowbirds who don't know how to drive and are lost, it's amazing to me that anyone gets anywhere without killing themselves.

I haven't heard of a good old fashioned road rage incident here for a while, but I think that's more from the reason that I haven't found a good reason to actually watch local "News" since 2005, and that was when I lived in Philadelphia.  I caught the internet feed of WWL TV in New Orleans and watched the coverage of Hurricane Katrina.  Riveting.  When TV Stations aren't selling soap, they can do a really good job of things.

Two stories kept coming to mind about the roads. 

Nobody knows how to drive.  The roads here are in a grid.  Very rigid adherence to the compass points.  You SHOULD know where you're going.  The speeds are usually posted frequently.  Beach is East, Miami is South, West Palm is North, Everglades are West.  You are boxed in pretty well.


I have been passed on the interstate here by one wheeled motorcycles about every third time I dare to go out on I-95.  A one wheeled?  No, really that's some over testosteroned kid on a motorcycle popping wheelies at over the legal speed limit of 65MPH.  Yes, I know it's foolhardy.

Add to that the person from Up North who is in the fast lane and has been signalling since the county line to get over now and you have a crash waiting to happen.


They just cut off the 15 year old Toyota Camry with the Haitian flag on it that was going 40 MPH in the middle lane so they can go to the beach.

So my Jeep will stay in the driveway.  I'm too scared to drive it all that much.

Oh the other story? 

See, the people down here got sold a bill of goods.  It's called Lexus Lanes by the locals.  In each gallon of gas you pay a significant amount of Federal and State tax.  The tax is based on the gallon and not on a percentage of cost.  So as cars became more efficient, my Jeep gets a little better than 20MPH Highway where my old CJ7 Jeep got in the low to mid Teens with the same motor, the tax revenues dropped.

Instead of adjusting the taxes to fund the roads like they should have to maintain revenue at a constant rate or keeping up with inflation, someone came up with a Bright Idea.

Lets create a new Toll Lane on the free interstate.

Bad idea.  Really.  Such a bad idea that they're spreading all over the country like Herpes.  Road Herpes.  Caused by Lexus Lanes.

What that does is it forces four lanes of traffic, for example in some cases, down to three.  People hate paying for tolls even if they approve of the concept of having a toll lane, so they sit in the free lanes.

People now fume because now they can't get anywhere.

The carpool lanes are all gone, they're now Lexus Lanes, and your commute is toast.

Want to get to the beach?  I always take the local surface routes here.  Fewer one wheeled motorcyclists and 15 year old Toyota Camrys on those roads, as well as fewer snowbirds. 

Now, when these people all get off of the interstate, they have another problem.

This little story?  Call it an anecdote.  It's free.

You see, there's a road concept.  I've heard it called a Zipper Lane or a Merge Lane.  The idea is that since everyone adheres to the rules of the road, of course, that they maintain hands at 10 and 2 and keep two seconds back from the car in front.

One Pennsylvania, Two Pennsylvania...

That allows plenty of room for people to legally fit in between them in case they need to merge at high speeds in front of that Toyota Camry going at 40 mph in the 65 mph zone trying to go to the beach.

No, that really is the concept.  You're actually supposed to keep the distance so that others can use the road too.

Floridians forgot about that years ago.  If Driving is a Contact Sport in Boston, and I have seen that first hand, Driving is Passive-Aggressive in Florida.

It's called a zipper lane because while you have two lanes merging to one, the two are supposed to seamlessly merge down like the zippers on your clothes.  They just form a nice neat single lane.  Everyone gets where they are supposed to.

Nah.  More fun to tailgate and keep them out of MY lane.  The flip side of that coin is the idiots that figure bigger is better and drive a huge truck to go to the corner store and get eggs.  They usually have an illegal locomotive horn in them all the better to scare you with, my dear!

Since the police are way too busy figuring out which car has the contraband coming out of the Port of Miami that is going back Up North,  this sort of thing gets overlooked, and people back up.

Safer to keep the Jeep in the driveway.

So, Pat, if you do come on down, we'll figure out how to get you to the beach.  That's easy here.  Getting to a Mall?  Not if I have to drive on I 95. 

You're welcome to the couch.  I'm just not going to go drive anywhere all that challenging.  The car does need to be moved though.  Want to sightsee?  Ooh look, it's a 1990s vintage Mercury Marquis driven by two white gloves or a fedora in front of us heading back to Century Village!

I forgot to tell you about that one!  Pull up a chair...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why Is A Sprinkler Like Your Psyche?

I had noticed that some of the sprinkler heads were not sprinkling.

I'd get a weak dribble from some.
I'd get nothing out of others.

Time to start watching.

When we bought the house, we had a "mature" system in here.   Mature in the way that a Pro Footballer's brain would suffer from concussions, and a Tennis player would suffer from elbow complaints.

You know, Tennis Elbow?

That means things were wearing out.   Knowing who owned the property before we did, I suspect that this sort of maintenance was merely overlooked for a while before it got sold.

We all do it when we move. 

But this is a good 9 years later.   Sprinkler heads would clog from "scale" and sand gets into the pipes.  Pipes became unglued or the glue would simply wear out through time.

I started to look around the property. 

You know that's a bad thing.  It eventually created problems.

The front yard, Zone 1 was pretty good.  It was the one I would notice since I am either coming home or leaving while it is running.  The dog needs his walks and I'd spot problems.

Great, no complaints.  "Hey, the side of your car's getting watered, you should look!" and magically it gets fixed.

The back yard, Zone 2 is a different story.   It runs the perimeter of the yard.  We hung some extra sprinkler heads off the system here and there to take some of the pressure off, but in reality I think we may just have a too high pressure pump for what is back there.

I looked at the hedges on the one side of the house.   The soil at the back is so wet that my boot would sink into it, there is mildew growing on the pavement, and the plants are over watered.  At the front, the soil is so dry that the hedges were dying back. 

You notice these things while you're using the hedge clippers.

So I ran Zone 2.  No pressure to the front, too much to the back, and a pipe had separated.

"Hey, we've got problems on Zone 2!".

Thankfully it got fixed without my having to cram myself into too small a space. 

Really, no, Thanks!  Putting a Moose of a Man in that spot where the pipe weld had separated.... nope.

That made things all nice and tight.

That created other problems.

Take a balloon.  Inflate it.  Now press in one side, it will bulge in the opposite side.  Psychologists use that imagery to describe a psychological problem.  If you "push something down" or hide a problem, it will just bulge out somewhere else.   Your psyche.

My sprinklers were like that.

When I took Rack the Superdog out the next day after the sprinklers had shut off, I noticed a couple things.   The hedges were much more evenly watered.  The pipe break patch had held.

Now we had a swamp.

Of course it was right next to the lighting for the big palm tree.  You know, electricity and water?


Well the lights worked, but there was a problem with the sprinklers.  While the hedges were fine, the sprinkler heads weren't watering the other hedge.  In other words, my yard had a psychological problem, it bulged.

I had Rack out running around through a wormhole, stepped in a small sink of mud and realized there was something worse going on. 

I called Rack, then turned on Zone 2.

Oooh Pretty little river!  The heads dribbled in that area so I walked around and stepped into where the water was pushing up.  Starting to dig, I noticed that the head pulled out of the ground without effort along with an elbow and a short length of pipe.

Oh great, it sheared.  Or something more colorful. 

Spending a block of time, I got the sheared length of pipe out of the T that was flooding the yard and threatening to make a sinkhole.  Actually I ended up pushing that bit of plastic in the pipe which will probably plug something else up some day, we shall see where later on.  That's another psyche bulge in the balloon of the sprinklers.

Looking around I found everything but the bits I needed and made a weird contraption that will work until I can get to the big box store.  It should be flush with the turf but this will do for now.

But until then, it's a matter of walking around and looking for mud.  After all, your sprinkler system will bulge and create a sinkhole for you, and if that happens, your house or your pool could be underground instead of on it.

That's what happens when your sprinkler system breaks.  Your house goes insane and you step in something that you shouldn't.

A hole.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Hula Dog, or How To Live In The Movie Roxanne

It is an older movie, now.  If you haven't seen it, it is one of my favorites, and I heartily recommend finding the movie Roxanne and seeing it.

It is a rewriting of Cyrano de Bergerac, set in a Washington State town.  The first scene shows Steve Martin's character walking through town to get to his Firehall.  The entire way there is spent greeting people.  Saying hello to little old ladies, children, and the like.  That scene is probably the best illustration of what is the best of living in a small town.

I see a lot of that here.  I make it a point to always allow an hour for a 15 minute walk here in Wilton Manors.

First of all, the dog does slow you down.  Oh sure, you're out there for him.  After all "Who's walk is it anyway".  He's going to sniff around under things, poke his nose into shrubbery, and catch the scent on the breeze.

When he does catch the scent, it is usually because it's one of his friends.  Mind you, Rack, my McNab Superdog, has an excellent nose. 

That nose slows me down.  Cyrano de Bergerac did not have a nose so sensitive, although I suspect it was as grand.

Rack will catch the scent of a friend on the breeze a block away.  At that point I know what has happened because the tail begins to wag.  The closer that friend, four legged or two gets, the faster the wag will get.

Now, keep in mind that mere mile walk, a solid 1600 meters, should take you personally 15 minutes. 

Nope.  You have to now greet your dog's friends.   It's always your dog's friends because if you train him right, your friends become your dog's friends. 

Pause for a conversation.  Get caught up on the news of the day.  Listen to their reaction to being jumped up on by a 45 pound eager herding breed.

Yes, I'm trying to train him to stop. 
Yes, you're feeding into the frenzy.
No, I don't mind if you don't.

All part of the deal.

You part.  It's another couple feet and the process repeats itself.

I had to stop by the park anyway and grab that Lei off of the butterfly statue.  I finally did because the rains were coming.  May as well keep it fairly nice.  I might just hand it off to someone else if they really like the thing.

Run into the next person.  They noticed the lei a block away.  Tell the story of the lei and that it's nice and loose.  Not just loose around his neck, but Nice and Loose.

That Niceness quotient is important.

Spend a little time discussing the goings on in the neighborhood, and part ways.

Still on the first side of the block, you run into the third person.  They're coming home with their dog in the back of their car.  They get out and exchange a few pleasantries as they settle their dog down.   We keep moving because they "Have Frozen Things!".

Rounding the corner, we come to the other park.  There's a volleyball game in full swing. 

"Hey Look!  There's a dog with a thing round its neck!  Cool!". 

Rack doesn't particularly care for strange people who aren't escorted by dogs so he keeps pulling onwards.  I make a mental note that if he doesn't stop tugging, I'm going to get a cart, sit down in it, and let him pretend he's on the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in our little quirky tropical island.

We get to Wilton Drive.  Here the tourists are.  I'm hearing the story about how they left their dog back in Ohio and miss it dearly.   You can have the Lei if you like.  I really don't need it.  The darn thing is just going to get tossed eventually

That scene happens another four times in the next quarter mile. 

I run into one of the business owners I know sitting in front of the Art Gallery.  Rack is wagging furiously.  I drop his leash and he runs over at full speed.  Telling the story of the lei again, I comment that "M.E. Wouldn't Want The Thing On The Butterfly Much Longer So Rack's Got It".  He gets a browser to his shop and we get going again.

I slow down because there's a pitbull ahead acting like a stereotype.  The owner uses her foot to get its attention in a nudge that doesn't quite work.  While she waves us past, I don't linger.  I simply don't trust a pitbull no matter how much people insist it's the owner and not the breed.

It wasn't the owner that was threatening my dog.

Passing further on, it's another business owner we know.  Rack would love to go across the street but it is rush hour.  We wave across five lanes of traffic that should be narrowed to two and keep moving.

Before we got off of Wilton Drive, it's another two tourists that tell of the story of their dog Up North. 

I stop myself from telling them to bring their dog next time.  I did it with Lettie in the Jeep as a snowbird and it's a lot of work.

I check my watch when we round the corner.  45 minutes.  Another quarter mile, I may make it back before sunset.

My own block.  It's practically empty.  Rack is still tugging.  Dropping the leash, he immediately changes gears and cycles back.  Nice to have a well trained dog. 

I run into one last neighbor.  Nice little chat, we'll have to have coffee soon. 

It's been an hour.  I'm home.  Rack sits down.  Time to wash your feet.  That Yellow Footed Collie Syndrome isn't exactly welcome on my clean tile floor.

Yes, that yellow.

One lap around the driveway in the grass and we're finally home.

What's for dinner?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rose and Buzzard Season

Rose and Buzzard.

Despite it sounding like a British Pub somewhere in the Southwest, it isn't.

It's the busy season, dry season, and buzzard season.

Everywhere else it's cold and snowy but I'm below the freeze line, and I thought I might share a little sunshine with my friends.

Even if you don't have a security camera system to look into to see the sun, you can catch some here.

The season isn't as dramatic as it was last year.

Oh sure the roses are in bloom but so is the wildlife.   Last year there were hundreds of buzzards making lazy circles in the skies.  They would float on air, sometimes low enough that you would be interesting to them.  Wildlife encounters, I am used to, but having a bird that looks like it's as big as you are turn its head from 50 feet or more up so it can size YOU up is an amusing and unsettling prospect.

Hey, buzzard, back off, I'm a bit gristly. 

Besides you don't want to startle them.  They've been known to barf up whatever road kill they have been eating and you may be wearing it.

But the weather has been crisp and clear.  Good day to watch the buzzards, and sniff the roses.  Mine are in perpetual bloom, and each time one gets just right, it comes in to the kitchen to sit in a glass so I can enjoy it.

Better that than have it pass unnoticed.

I keep hoping that cutting the plant back will make it grow in more bushy but I'm having no luck with that.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunny With A Chance of Heavy Snowbirds According to Siri

Weekend days, when they're quiet, have a rhythm to them.

May as well get things baked for the week, cleaned, vacuumed, and so forth.

But if I am sitting down, doing my own thing, I eventually get holes bored through me by twin brown eyes.   That would be my bored dog.

Fine.  But it's too cold to go outside.  After all it's not even gotten into the 60s.

Winter in South Florida.  We know who you snowbirds are.  You're wearing shorts.  It's 66 degrees.   It gives us an excuse to break out the leather jackets for two or three weeks, then the air conditioning comes back on.

After breakfast is done and the dishes are put away, if we're going to be home, we put on the heater.  Enough to give it a hot-foot back to normal.

The house will hold the heat for a while until the sun gets high enough to go back outside and see what the dog is doing behind the shed.

Just don't step in it, he's usually going through the wormhole to his other family.

Standing in the sun, I get curious.  As long as I'm warming my bones, I'm fine.  Just like any other iguana I suppose, I'll thaw in full sun, freeze in the shade.

I pull the phone out of my pocket, get out of the glare by moving the sun behind a handy well placed palm tree.  "Weather" I bark at the slab of electronics.  Better not drop it in the pool.

"The weather is sunny and 66 degrees!".

Well isn't that nice.  The weather here is the same temperature as the pool.  The pool water is warmer than the water out of the cold tap in the bathroom of my old house on top of the hill in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill.  How do I know?  The cold water tap was never really over 60 there unless it was summer. 

Ok, I'm curious...

"Weather Philadelphia"  Barked again at the slab.

"The weather in Philadelphia will not be very nice" 

Judgemental cow.   Some people actually enjoy that stuff.

"It will be down to 3 degrees and heavy snow".

Oh Really?  I use a different app to tune in the All Commercials All The Time News Station in Philly.  They even got worse at KYW.  The Commercials are advertising the commercials which pass for news content these days.  At one point it was three commercials deep.

No wonder why people can't listen to an all news station for very long.  It's all commercial garbage and very little actual content.  I don't need to know what your news desk is sponsored by, raise your rates, and cut the commercial load.

Closed the app.  Why bother.  One quick surf will get me the info I needed.

Yep, Sunny with a chance of Heavy Snowbirds.

Why do I call it that?   Give it about 3 days to a week.  When it snows in the Northeast, Philly but also places like Boston, Hartford, Baltimore and others, people are locked in at home.  The day before they hit the supermarkets and bought Milk, Eggs, and Bread.

I did it myself.  Breakfast was French Toast made from the Milk, Eggs, and Bread we all binge bought the day before.  Got to use that crap up!

Next meal after that was lunch.  Drag the grill out and make burgers.  It didn't matter that it was snowing, you could show your contempt at that Mother, Nature, by making up a burger in the side yard and freezing the extra.

Freezing being the key redundant word. 

A little cheese on mine, please, and no the rolls don't need to be toasted since I made them earlier.  Yes, homemade rolls for the burger because it would warm up the kitchen and the rest of the house.  Tomorrow is the cookies if we're still snowed in.

Dinner was leftover burgers or pancakes.  The griddle was large enough to do both.

But the snow would melt, the roads would be cleared, and you could get in the car and drive to the fabled area below the I-4 line where it doesn't snow, and below Clint Moore Road in Boca Raton where the USDA says it will never freeze.

10 miles more and you are in my town looking for parking. 

Have some French Toast.  You must be hungry.  We'll have burgers later.  There are fresh rolls in the freezer.

Stay warm.  It's only 66 out there!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Homeless Man Goes To A Fortune Teller

A homeless man who spends his days street performing on an old guitar for some loose change decides to spend the money on a fortune teller one day.

The fortune teller tells the homeless man that she has good news and bad news for him.

The homeless asks to hear the good news first.

She begins to tell the man about his after-life. She tells him that he will meet Elvis and John Lennon in the after-life, and that the three of them together are going to be the next top hit band.

The homeless man leaps from joy, realizing his experience with the old guitar has aided him well.

Having already thanked the fortune teller and shook her hand, he pauses for a moment on his way out to turn around say, "Oh yeah, I forgot to ask you what the bad news was?."

"Auditions are tomorrow."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Pirate Walks into a Bar


A pirate walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened, you look terrible!"

"What do you mean?" the pirate replies, "I'm fine."

The bartender says, "But what about that wooden leg? You didn't have that before."

"Well," says the pirate, "We were in a battle at sea and a cannon ball hit my leg but the surgeon fixed me up, and I'm fine, really." "

Yeah," says the bartender, "But what about that hook? Last time I saw you, you had both hands."

"Well," says the pirate, "We were in another battle and we boarded the enemy ship. I was in a sword fight and my hand was cut off but the surgeon fixed me up with this hook, and I feel great, really."

"Oh," says the bartender, "What about that eye patch? Last time you were in here you had both eyes."

"Well," says the pirate, "One day when we were at sea, some birds were flying over the ship. I looked up, and one of them pooped in my eye."

"So?" replied the bartender, "what happened? You couldn't have lost an eye just from some bird poop!"

"Well," says the pirate, "I really wasn't used to the hook yet."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Shamrocks In The Sun

When someone goes away, you try to keep contact.

Then if they're gone long enough you try to have a bit of fun with it.

In this case, I started getting texts while I was out back.  Rack was boring holes through my soul with those brown puppy eyes of his.

Doggy Telepathy:  "I want out.  I want out.  I want out."

I'm thinking somethings up... Maybe I should ask Rack what he wants?

" Show me boy, show me what you want".

Skid marks in my Florida room as he ran to the back door.  He probably wanted to visit his other family on the other side of the wormhole behind the shed.  I grabbed the phone, checked that the front door was closed, and let him out back.

Yes, really, the door sometimes opens on its own.  It could be me, or it could be Rack's wormhole family, but I do need to make special effort to keep the door locked.  If it is locked, it won't open on its own.

Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betel...!

Don't say it three times.  House guest from hell would arrive.

The texts began. 

"Its cold"

Yes, you are in Douglas, Isle of Man, UK.  It isn't summer yet.  Summer is scheduled for August 13th from 11:43am to 4:27pm and it may indeed hit 70F.

"I know.  Rack is enjoying it."  Picture sent of Rack watching over the swimming pool in full sunlight.  The light making diffraction patterns in his jet black fur shining in deep blues, vibrant reds, and ...

"You're mean.  It's beautiful there, I miss it!".

I was walking to the back of the yard.  The pool water was a wee bit low.  May as well give it a hot foot and raise the level a bit.

"I thought you might enjoy a little sunshine.  Everything there looked so cold and grey.  It is the UK you know.  Lovely people, fascinating culture, I'd love to visit some day, just not in the middle of the coldest week of the year"

I get back a single word "Shaddap".

I send back the picture of the shamrocks.   They're Wood-Sorrel.  It grows as a weed in my turf in the back yard.  Technically it's Oxalis.  They grow little tubers, just like the potatoes that are sprouting in the kitchen, and can be cooked or eaten raw.   The tubers are sweet, and edible.  Although they do contain Oxalic Acid, so do many of your foods, and as long as your Wood Sorrel is cleaned well, the risk is considered minimal.

But I will let someone else try first.

Yes, I am channeling some of those oddball survivalists.  You know the guys who say "Every part of the pine tree is edible" - and I pipe up telling them to go to the lumber yard and eat a plank.  But Pignolas are simply the seeds of a pine tree, and every pine tree has seeds that are edible.

Blah blah blah.

The sun caught the pink flowers just so, five minutes later it would be dark.   The mosquito sunning itself on the top flower realized that she might be able to find her own meal and started after my feet first.

Snap off a few more shots, and go away from the little flowers.  Rack was returning from a visit from the wormhole family and tearing up the turf while running circles around the bougainvillea, coleus, and big palm trees in the yard.

"I know you didn't choose to go to Douglas in this time of year.  Maybe some other time.  It does look like a pretty place.  Bring a Parka."

I'm getting a lecture of a street that is called "Athol" street in the central business district.  I read the word rudely, and realize it is his favorite new word.  Probably named after some oddball British Admiral that conquered some obscure island somewhere.

Every picture he sends me has a splat from a passing sea bird.  It now becomes The Isle of Poop.  Douglas, Isle of Poop.  Not nice of me but there is rather a lot of it, and that is a part of being near the ocean.

It's time to go back in.  The mosquito is zooming in for the kill.  My right hand was getting attention as I try for one last picture of the Wood-Sorrel Shamrocky thing.  Pretty flowers.  I look at the display on the camera and back to the flowers.  They're in shade now.

"I'll see you later, I have to go to the pub."
"Try the Fish and Chips.  Proper British Fish and Chips served in a proper British Pub!"

Maybe not.  He hates fish, loves the chips, and there's no way I can suggest that.  Maybe some fried wood sorrel chips.  I won't tell him what they are!

"Enjoy dinner and stay warm!"

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Butterflies and Leis at M.E. DePalma Park

Have you ever come across something that was a bit incongrous?  Perhaps a little out of place, didn't belong?

Then did you decide to let it be because it amused you?

Yep, that's what I did.

One of the local bars had a second anniversary.  Rumor's Bar on Wilton Drive.   I've had their food, the Reuben is worth the trip, and I keep hinting around that I would like to go back but ... Oh I guess I should get off my lazy butt and use the drink chips I find all over town and get a meal while I am at it.

At any rate, when they had their party there had to have been a theme.  I walked past the place with Rack the McNab Superdog when it was in High Gear.  They have a tented area that now takes up part of the parking lot.  At the street side of the area, they hung all these garlands of silk flowers in bright colors.

I'm still finding them around town.  They're the "pretty" ones, although I suppose that strictly speaking anything that isn't where it belongs isn't ...

Never mind that thought, they're just pretty.

People must have agreed because they took walks all over Wilton Drive.  There were Leis in trees, over shrubs, light poles, in fences, and at one point around my own dog's neck.  There was a beautiful woman who decided that my dog needed to be decorated.

What freaked me out about that was the improbability of it.  Rack the Superdog is anything but Super around strangers.  You need to have a dog as an escort, and you have to have the right energy.  The second time he meets you it's different.

We got home, I left the Lei with someone else who thought it was cute.  Rack being a herding breed thinks because we did something once, it becomes a Thing and it is therefore Required and I didn't want to have to be putting a silk lei on my dog every time we go out for a walk.

It would be come Weird.  Herding Dog OCD aside.

The next morning, I was out at my normal predawn Stupid O'clock walk hour of 5AM and rounding the corner, something caught my eye in the M.E. DePalma Park.  I turned on the Torch Of Doom, my 1200 Lumen Flashlight, and pointed it in the park. 

All was quiet but someone had hung a Lei on the green Butterfly statue on the plinth at the back of the park.

I laughed at it's positioning, but couldn't bring myself to remove it.

In fact the next walk, for all the dozens of people who walk past it, the Lei was still there.

It's been about a week now.  I should probably stop in there on the next dog walk and see what I should do about it.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Recipe

Ok, when I get bored, baking happens.

That was this weekend. 

I've had this recipe for probably a year now, maybe two or even three.  It taunted me.  Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are one of those things that I do in fits and starts, and even then I have been somewhat disappointed with the results.

I've found some really strange recipes out there.  One even substituted butter flavored shortening for the butter in the cookies and you end up with something that would survive the fall of mankind since there isn't any real food in that recipe.

No, really.  That bad.  No, not again.  Not even...


This recipe?  It's as good as it gets as far as I am concerned.  These cookies are really That Good.

Soft and moist inside, tasting richly of warm cinnamon and sweet raisins. 

Guess what?  I used the recipe from the Quaker Oats Cylinder.  Really.  I'm finding when I want to try something, the recipes off of the "bulk" food containers are usually the best.  They're tested, they're "approved" and while they do tend to maximize the use of "their product", I have never had a problem with them.

In this case, the "Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies" recipe was as good as promised.   I had to restrain myself from attacking them.

A couple of clarifications in the recipe:

1) 30 grams of cookie makes a 105 calorie cookie on average.  28.3 grams to the ounce.  Next time I will make a 29 gram cookie for a 101 calorie cookie.  Why the nonsense about the measurements?  The instructions say "Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet".  I wanted measured cookies that were all the same weight and calories.  It is my own preference.

2) I omitted salt.  I don't like salt in my foods.  Again my own preference.  I did, however, use a good quality Salted Butter simply because it was what I had on hand.  I'm thinking it balanced out.

3) I'm American.  Born and bred in South Jersey.  So for my Overseas and Non American readers, and there are quite a few, I will try to use both Imperial and Metric Measurements.   They are not strictly speaking Imperial any more since we sell beer in weird measurements, but that would be a bit pedantic.  If you are Metric and want to give this a go, look over my shoulder and verify my conversions from Imperial to Metric.  The chart I used for the conversion is here.  Bring your own calculator.

4) Oats.  The recipe calls for Rolled Oats or Quick Oats.  Not the Steel Cut "Irish" or "Scottish" style oats that come in the can.  The quick oats are almost a powder, but not quite. 

5) I baked on parchment paper.  When they came out, I merely lifted the parchment up and allowed the whole sheet to cool on an "empty" counter.  If anything can be called empty in a kitchen!

6) Make These Cookies!  They're excellent if you like a good Oatmeal Cookie.  Or biscuit as they say in The Commonwealth.  They really are That Good.



  • 1/2 Pound (227 Grams) Softened Unsalted Butter, Salted Butter, or Margarine.
  • 1 Cup (220 Grams) Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (100 Grams) Granulated or White Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Real Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups (204 Grams) All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2ml) Salt - Optional
  • 3 Cups (255 Grams) Rolled Oats or Quick Oats.
  • 1 Cup (240 ml - by volume) Firmly Packed Raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350F - 180C - Gas Mark 4 - Moderate  (source for conversion)
  2. Beat Together Butter and Sugars well until creamy
  3. Add Eggs and Vanilla and beat well
  4. Add combined Flour, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, and Salt, Mix well
  5. Stir in Oats and Raisins, Mix Well
  6. Drop by Rounded Tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown (It took me 12 to 14)
  8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet then remove to wire rack
  9. Makes about 4 dozen

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You Never Know Who's Heart You Touch In This Town

True story. 

Since I moved here, I have walked my dogs all over this part of town.  First my dearly departed superdog Lettie.  She came here with me in 2006 and her presence echoes to this day.

When Lettie left, Rack came two weeks later.  I was ordered to "Find another dog".  Practically in a growl.  Now I walk Rack in circles, in the same neighborhood that Lettie was walked, sometimes at the same time of day.

People, including myself, are creatures of habit.  Just ask a Police Officer.

When I got here, I walked from the place I rented out to the nearest shopping district, and back.  Three different addresses, two different shopping districts and cities.

I would walk past the same shops practically the same time, in the same direction.   After a while I realized that my own presence set a rhythm for others and some of the shopkeepers would wave as we passed.  Lettie loved the attention when they'd come out.  She was a people person.  Their dogs, she would rather do without.

Now, being a Former Philadelphian, I walked.  We're known for that.  It's an intensely walkable city, and it is not unknown for people to walk two or three miles a day simply to get to and from work, another two miles for lunch.  Compact downtown means you walk, but it doesn't mean that the restaurant you wanted to "hit" at lunch was near you.

I was no different.  I'd walk a mile to the train and office each day, and get out three times a day with Lettie for a total of 4 miles on a quiet day.

It's a habit I continue here, three miles a day even now.

My neighborhood in Wilton Manors is constrained by some natural boundaries.  The New River to the South with the big bad city of Fort Lauderdale. 

No, really, that's a rough neighborhood over there across the river.  I've been told that you lose 10 percent property value for each of the first couple blocks that you head out of Wilton Manors, and just don't go there after dark.

The FEC train tracks, Wilton Drive or Oakland Park Boulevard, and Andrews Avenue make up some of the other natural boundaries of the Central Neighborhood.

So I was limited in where I walked to when I moved into this happy house, on the quirky island, in this bizarre state of Florida.

Three times a day no matter what.  A dog's bladder simply will not wait.

Luckily my couch has not been "blessed".  Yet.

In my walks I would change the directions, but typically each of the three walks of the day went a different way to see different parts of town.

The later walks of the day I would walk past the apartment buildings near the park.

This went on for years, and is beginning again since Rack is getting used to walking further and getting a little more confident.  We can walk down to the apartments that sit next to the park and make a little more than a mile ensuring a good night's sleep.

I really hadn't thought about the constant drip of my actions, like the water falling from the roof after a rain.

But others have and they noticed.

We were walking Rack through the parking lot of the big shopping center here when we were stopped by someone.  That's kind of normal here, if I didn't get stopped in a walk it would be a shock, and that even happens as early as the 5AM walk.

He introduced himself by saying that he used to see us walk past his home every day.  He lived up in the towers and used to watch for us.  Me and my dog, and whoever else was tagging along in our Pack.   He looked at Rack and then realized something was different.

I told him that Lettie had lived a long and beloved life, and she crossed over about two years back.  This is Rack, and we got him soon after.

This new friend had said he didn't realize there was a difference until then.  He told us that they looked the same from a distance.  Laughing I explained the story that Lettie was a Mostly McNab dog, and Rack was most likely a purebred McNab since he looks like a textbook.

But that was when he repeated how much he enjoyed waiting and watching for us.  He said that he chose to live where he did so he could watch out on the park and on the people who came by.  Just like everyone who lives in Wilton Manors, you could choose to live elsewhere, but you move here because you want to.

We were surprised that someone walking their dogs would make such an impression, but I will try to keep an eye out in the future.

The next day, we had a waitress come out from the Italian restaurant at the North end of the Drive called Bona.  She wanted to give Rack a cookie, telling us that she looks forward to watching Rack walk past the window and look in just like the other dog used to do. 

I felt sorry that I couldn't accept her gesture of kindness, we found out recently that Rack is missing a "Pre Molar" and that partially explains why he is so hesitant to eat hard or dry foods.  Everything gets soaked in hot water now.

But you really don't know who notices you in this town.  

We could have chosen to live anywhere else in South Florida.  We chose here for a reason.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Amaryllis In Bloom, iPhones, and Other First World Problems

Have you ever had one of those times where you thought something, stepped back and rethought that thought, then realized there are truly worse things in the world than what you're going through now?  First World Problems?

It's the technology equivalent of a toddler coming down the stairs, seeing you for the first time, walking over, sitting next to you on the couch, opening his mouth, and crying.

Yes, that happened to me too, and you know who you are who did that.


Ok, so I am channeling that toddler today.

I have known that the cameras in cellphones aren't all that great.  Then I got the Samsung Galaxy S4 which has a camera almost as good as the standalone camera that I had been using for years.  The drawback is that the S4 has a fixed lens so no Macro Zoom allowed unless you buy one of those $3 snap-on jobs that looks like something a jeweler would use. 

I may do that.

But I had a problem.  Someone needed to stay in touch with me, internationally.  He went to London, and yes I am jealous, then to Douglas on the Isle of Man.

Who goes to Douglas on the Isle of Man in the middle of the Winter anyway?

Never mind that, it's for business.

He's on an iPhone and instead of spending insane amounts of money for international texting, he suggested I use my old creaky iPhone 3GS.  We ruled that out since my SIM won't fit in there.  But luckily I was loaned an iPhone 4S for this purpose. 

Now I can internationally iMessage him for free.  Free is good, my budget is tight.  The idea of even paying for a text these days offends me to no end, and I was very late in the game only upgrading my plan when T-Mobile changed things around to unlimited talk, text, and 1GB data.  It's enough and it's the same cost I had before.  Since I hardly use the phone for data, I'm good.

Now I have this iPhone in my pocket.  First thing I noticed is that it's small in my big hands.  Being 6'4" tall, everything is proportional, and the big Samsung with the gorgeous 5 inch AMOLED full HD screen that literally lights up the room fit me perfectly.  This 4 inch iPhone looks a bit "Barbie's" phone in my hand.

No worries, I'll deal with it, even if it's "quaint".

All the apps I had on my 3GS that I got over the years moved over and I'm back to "normal" whatever that is.

I went out and started taking pictures. 

Mind you, when I sell my next picture, I'll sell my first.  Not a professional.  Maybe a Prosumer, what ever the hell that means.  I take pictures to remember what to write about, and I do take care to make the pictures as good as possible so they may be interesting to the hundreds of whoevers that stumble across this blog now and in the future every day.

Go ahead and graph that last paragraph, I know it is phrased clumsily, I'll wait...

This weekend was the first time I tried to look at the pictures on the laptop.  I noticed two things.  The pictures were over-saturated.  Also they were fuzzy.  To be fair, it's an older phone.  It's been repaired professionally.   Good looking beast, but it's clad in glass on both sides.  Apple recognized their mistakes and went to plastic and metal for the back.

It's possible that the focus could be slightly off due to "deceleration trauma".  That could explain the focus but not the color intensity.

So for now, I'll carry the two phones and hope for the best. 

The best you ask?  I get an attitude adjustment and stop being so fussy.   I'll also use the Galaxy for pictures.  Looks better in my big paws and takes better pictures. 

The iPhone is a communication device anyway.  The camera there is an afterthought.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Little Mary Earns Fifteen Dollars

One day, little Mary was coming home from school, and when she came home, she said, "Mom, I got five dollars!"

Her mother said, "Where'd you get the five dollars?"
Mary replied, "Well, little Tommy was up the tree and he asked me to do a cartwheel."

The mother said, "Mary, don't you know that he just wanted to see your panties?.."
Little Mary got mad. She said, "Oooh..." and the next day, she came home with ten dollars.

"Mary, where did you get ten dollars?" said the mother.
"Well, I told you little Tommy was up there," said Mary, and her mother replied, "Mary, didn't I tell you he wanted to see your panties?"

Mary said, "No, Mom, I fooled him! I wasn't wearing any!"

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Singing Mouse

A drunk walked into a tavern, sat down at the bar. He placed a small cardboard box on the bar, and ordered a beer. When the beer came, he opened the box, pulled out a tiny piano and bench and set them on the bar, then ordered another beer.

When the beer came, he reached into the box, pulled out a frog, sat him on the piano bench and said, "PLAY".

The frog immediately began to play the piano.

It played all the favorites, and some classical and then launched into contemporary jazz.

The man ordered another beer, and when it came he reached into the cardboard box and pulled out a little white mouse.

He set this mouse on top of the piano and said "SING".

The frog began to play the piano and the mouse began to sing, first some 'oldies but goodies', then all of the current favorites.

A man at the bar who was watching all of this approached the drunk man and offered to buy this little outfit that he had.

After a bit of negotiating, the drunk man agreed to sell just the mouse to the man for $500.

The man took the mouse and ran out the door before the drunk could change his mind.

The bartender had been watching all of this goings on and said to the drunk "You damned old fool! You just sold that mouse for $500 and you could have made millions off of it!"

The drunk laughed heartily, burped and replied "Don't be silly, The frog is a ventriloquist!"

Friday, February 6, 2015

Selective Hearing In Dogs Can Be A Help In Training

It's the dry season in South Florida.  That is why you folks are clogging up our roads and putting money into our businesses.  The weather is nicest this time of year for people from out of state.  Their homes are surrounded by something we'd put in our drinks and our freezers, while we're complaining about something that would make a Scotsman sweat in the "heat".

It's also a great time of year for us to do some outdoor chores like pest control.  Our homes are constantly being invaded by the great outdoors, and if you don't want to live with great patrols of ants making their way inside to carry you off, you get on a first name basis with a pesticide company.

Herbie.  His name is Herbie.  If you ask me nicely I will even give you a reference.

But Herbie, as good as he is, can't be here the entire time.  We got some pellets and spread them around the foundation of the home to make a ring of doom for critters.  Sorry, we pay the mortgage, you critters don't.

It created a problem for us.  More specifically, for Rack, my McNab Dog.

Yeah Him again.  You see, he's incredibly intelligent and is learning English, at least the way we speak it.

There's a wrinkle to that.  Dogs hear individual words and try to assemble meanings.  Humans store the sentence, or paragraph, and try to assemble meanings.

At least some of us do.  Both people and dogs.  When you're talking about a McNab, you're talking about a dog that is as smart as the smartest out there.

So one morning we were talking about whether it was time to add a ring of doom around the house, give it a booster shot of poison.  That means that we couldn't let Rack out to run his lap around the yard.  His family on the other side of the wormhole that is in behind the shed will have to do without him for a couple weeks.  The poison that we used is persistent and will take a while to soak in with rains.  Since we have just had our first rain in weeks, the prospect of not using the back yard with Rack is very real.  We put notes on the door so that I will remember, and even one at Dog's Nose Height.

That was the discussion.

Rack heard "Rack Backyard Note Go Run".

He trotted to the back door, sat down and stared holes into us.

I walked over to the door and my velcro-dog was with me, glued to my right calf.  I needed to go outside.  Luckily he does understand more than I think he does, and I get great results when I devolve my own University Educated English into a Pidgin Dog Speak.

I said "Rack, This Says Not For Dogs" while pointing at the post-it note with the thick letters that say "No Dog".

I swear Rack Moaned before he looked back and forth between the note and my own eyes.

"Rack, you can't go out"  pointing back at the post-it I said "Not for Dogs.  No Dogs Allowed".

Sure, I'm channeling an old Charlie Brown cartoon but it worked.  Rack's ears went down, tail dropped from excited to grumble height, and he slunk out of the Florida Room.   I went out back and dealt with the pool's water level and came back.

Rack was staring at the glass door, then the note, and when he spotted me, myself.

"Sorry Boy, not today."

See, he will go to the back room when he needs to go Use The Tree out back, and our own routine is for him to stare me down until I pay attention, then I'll ask him "Show Me" and he'll lead me to what he needs.  Kind of like Lassie where they're asking "Did Timmy Fall Down the Well?".

Leads me to wonder why they didn't build a wall around that damn well with kids falling in it so often.

That particular morning I took it a step further.  I got him to go out to the Front Yard on his own.  That isn't a big deal for most, but Rack is highly fearful.  He's afraid of anything noisy, which could be anything from a leaf moving down in Miami to my own making a Kissing sound toward him or the parrot.

I managed to coax Rack out front where the street was, let him Use The Rock instead of the Palm tree out back, and watched as he stopped.  His tail went full tilt.  He saw a pack of dogs being led out for their march round the block. 

"Rack, go home".  He looks up at me as if to say he wanted to go play.
"Sorry Buddy, let's go home".  I didn't have to say it again, he was already in motion toward the open front door.

It proved that I had a few milestones passed that I didn't realize I had passed, all because I don't feel like living with ants.

Rack could be depended on to go out front, avoid the pack, and go back into the house on command.  Pretty big step for a dog who would go into hiding and shiver in a corner when I dropped my mixing spoon on the floor the other day.

The forecast is clear for a week more so Rack will be out back only on leash. That's a shame because I really do enjoy watching him run around the property like a CrazyDog.  The grass will grow back where he "corners" around the big palm tree and accelerates past in a black and white blur on the way to the wormhole behind the shed.

But, the good thing is that we just had a mid-term test and passed with flying colors.  He's well on the way to becoming another Dog Of A Lifetime like my Lettie was.  I could open the door to the house, she'd do her thing and come back, completing whatever tasks I told her I needed done on the way.  I swear if she had thumbs, she could have built us that pergola over the spa I was thinking about.

Rack is learning.  He may not get a construction permit, but he's figuring out life, and at this point that's a good thing.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It's Going to Rain, Hurry, Feed the Dog!

The first thing I did in the morning was to look at Radar.

The nearest green blob of rain was a good 35 miles away.  Shouldn't be a problem, right?  A couple hours away, I should be able to get the dog walked, get back, have breakfast, and take my time at the rest of the morning nonsense.

I set about doing just that. 


My dog had different ideas.  Most dogs will at least pay attention to weather when it is coming.  Thunderstorms and the like, anything noisy, they will know it's coming before you do.

I got Rack out of the front door.

Normally he stays close.  Not quite a velcro dog, but he does stay close enough that he can see me wherever I am in the house. 

I know, Aww, Right?

That's why you have a dog, Right?

But this was outside and having 45 pounds of McNab Dog glued to your legs was a little odd. 

"Bump".  Come on boy, lets go!

He walked down the driveway, past the car, and snuffled the post to the mailbox - all at slow speed and well behind me.  Usually he's pulling to get me to move faster at this point in the walk.  The roles were reversed this morning.  I haven't yet convinced him to "modulate" his speed so neither of us are being stretched along.  It may not happen.

Getting to the big parking lot near the house, he was uneven and uneasy.  Usually he'll sniff the grounds and do his business.  Wasn't happening that way today.  Looking up at the dark skies, two hours before sunrise, he wandered aimlessly.  I dragged him parking island to parking island.

"You have plenty of time, Rack, there's no rain yet".

Shouldn't have said that.  He visibly ducked when he heard "rain". 

We wandered through the town.  There were a few people I knew up at this hour, mostly dog walkers, but some that work at the various shops getting them ready for you to go in a bit later.  As I was chatting with one, he noticed that Rack was sitting down and shivering.  Insisting that it was the weather and not an approaching 50 Bus, we went on with the walk and eventually home. 

Feeding is still uneven on the best days.  He's fearful and won't eat on his own.  You just don't want to depend on the "He'll eat when he's hungry" maxim - it won't work with a fearful dog and it's just cruel anwyay.

With atmospherics going on with in 50 miles, he wouldn't eat easily even if I hand feed him.  I have to boil water, pour hot water over the food, and allow it to soak into the food.  This is all in order for him to get some into him once it cools.

All that took time. Place the bowl under his nose in his hiding place in the crate, I say cheerily "Hungry, Rack! Lets Eat!".


I go back to my own routine thinking the smells and sounds of my own breakfast will help.

May as well have set loose crickets in the house for all the good that did.

Giving him 30 minutes, he got out of the crate and parked by my feet.  Reaching over for the food bowl, I once again put it in reach.  One piece of spongy soaked kibble at a time to prime the pump.  He nibbled a little bit of food.

This is easier than wet dog food because you just don't want to get wet dog food on your hands while you feed them.  Too nasty.

As he finally began to eat on his own, the Duck and Cover alarm went off.  The front had come close enough to "throw an alert".  As I am listening to the weather radio telling small craft to come into port, it sounded another alarm, then a third.  It hadn't even finished the alert from alarm one.

Should be interesting.  Practically every town I could think of in two counties and part of a third that had ocean front were named.  Then they went onto the thunderstorm watch.  Yep, my town too.

Oh the food?  That was forgotten.  Time to prime the pump again, and re-feed.

He's in a small gap in the living room furniture and I am sitting in front of it.  He must have liked it because he gave me a wag or three out of that tail of his when I first arrived.  Here we were 15 minutes into the ritual and I was still tapping the metal bowl, grabbing lost pieces of kibble, and handfeeding him.

A little less fear would be greatly appreciated, I thought to him, as I continued the ritual.

15 minutes to get a cup of food into him that has been "rehydrated". 

All in the job feeding a fearful dog in a loud front of thunderstorms and all this at a time where people were just getting out of the shower in the morning. 

It will be a full day.