Friday, July 31, 2015

Velcro Dogs Are There If You Need Them Or Not

You know if you have one.

You are in the house, going about your business, and two feet away from your leg is a pair of soulful eyes
and a ball of fur.

In my case, it's a little further away and mostly black fur with white accents, but the feeling is the same.

They're called Velcro Dogs.  They require their own way of dealing with them.  Their own discipline. 

Some people aren't the kind of people who like being that close to another creature.

You have to wonder why they got a dog in the first place.  It's a case of being given the privilege of being asked to be the leader and showing them through life.

Yes, Asked.  You have a dog who isn't an alpha and wants to know what it can do.  Not always for itself, but for you.

So show it.  Now that you have been promoted to Boss, do something with the job.

My Back Of The Pack Beta dog Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) is starting to ask.  He's not glued to my right calf.  Actually I insist he walks on my left side since I am very right handed.  But what he's doing in his own gentle way is to follow me around the house.  If I go to another room he will wait to see if I am coming back.  If I don't he gets up and moves over to the same room I am in and picks a spot.  Since I have mats in every room for him to sit on, it's a compromise.

There are other dogs that will literally sit under you when you're at the desk.  It can be unnerving but they're there for their own reason.  They want to be available if you need them.

Mine is helping me learn Spanish.

There's a small area of about a yard/meter square in the corner next to my Big Green Chair.  He would hide
back there if I left it open so I keep an old cooler back in the corner just so that he can't hide there unless I want it.  I move the couch in place to block access unless I'm over there.  If I am not sitting in the Big Green Chair, he actually will park in the corner so that he can look out at what is going on, watching.

I put myself in that chair, turn on the TV and put on one of the children's programs in Spanish that I'm using to learn with.  Sure, Plaza Sesamo or "Los Pies Magicos de Franny" is juvenile and basic, but basic is what you need when you're told by Duolingo that you are only 50% fluent in the language.  There are other programs, but all are chosen for simple sentence structure.

Animal shows in Spanish with Closed Captioning can be remarkably educational and remarkably helpful.

All I have to do is to move, and Rack alerts to watch what I'm doing.  Shift in the chair and he lifts his head
to see what I am doing.

Get out of the chair and he listens.  If I am in the kitchen too long, he gets up and walks in.  Back to the bathroom and he walks past to make sure I am there, then sits just out of sight.  Return to the chair and he's back by my side, gazing up at me with those twin brown eyes, then settles in, job done.

Uber Beta Dogs don't confront, they do what they have to without being noticed.  He will grow out of that as confidence builds.

So if your dog is velcroed to the leg, consider what the dog is telling you.  It's asking you to show it what you want of it.  If your dog has a play drive, toss a ball for a bit.  Think of that as a bonding exercise.

It is an endearing way of saying "What's next, Boss?".

Thursday, July 30, 2015

War On Mosquitoes

I've had it.

It's been a week of this.

It's time to up the game.  To bring in the big guns.  The Next Step.

I'm making a trap.

The reason is that since the construction we had on the house, I've been plagued by mosquitoes.   I have finally had enough.

Last night, I was in bed.  The house was quiet and there was only one light on.  That light was over the bed in the back of the house.

I saw a black dot flick across the computer screen. 
I saw that same dot flick back.

I knew I was being targeted.  A mosquito had found its way to the most distant part of the house from any door or window that had been opened in days to find me.

Sorry, Miss Mozzie, but I am not your food.

I pulled the covers up as high as I could get them leaving my arms exposed and waited. 

She came in close and landed on the back of my hand.  I wasn't fast enough to kill her.  She flew off.

More targeting and she landed on the other arm.  This time success.  I could sleep safely.

The next morning there was one in the bathroom so aggressive that I couldn't use it for its intended purposes until I unleashed sweet death on the creature.  I used bathroom tile cleaner on it all the while laughing like an old movie villain.

Muwahahaha!  Die Mosquito, Die!

I thought to myself "Evil thing" as I went back to my desk forgetting about the Intended Purposes.

At my desk, I managed to kill one more using the "Tennis Racket".  It's a tennis racket shaped appliance that has parallel wires where the strings would normally be.  You flick it through the air and it makes a satisfying "SNAP!" as it vaporizes the life out of a worthless bug in a brilliant blue white flash.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) hates that thing.  Every time I go on patrol looking or more of those blood suckers, he cringes.

"I'm tired of this!" as I walk into the kitchen and grab a 2 litre bottle that I saved for this purpose.  Cutting it in half and then trimming it down, I make a mosquito trap.

Add about a cup of water, two teaspoons of sugar, one half teaspoon of yeast, I shake the mixture up.  It's now making carbon dioxide on my counter.  I'm hoping the little monsters find it.  I'll then target them again with the Tennis Racket of Doom.

Time to evict the house guests.

Yes, it's all happening indoors.  Before 8AM, I killed a total of four mosquitoes, one of which was trying to bite its way through the blue jeans I have to wear inside and outside to not be targeted.  I guess I have that Sweet Blood everyone hears about, always have.

But it's time, this has to end.

As for that trap?  I had one outside the house for a while.  It didn't actually "trap" the mosquitoes.  I think they may be too smart for that.  They merely made a cloud around it trying to get at the CO2 emitting source, but realized that it isn't an actual creature, they flew off.

If that happens here... I'm prepared.

Besides, next step is chemical warfare.   I have a can of bug spray, and I know how to use it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Moving Ducks Out Of Harms Way

I think I have spent the better part of the week moving wildlife on.

I'm very good at moving geckos and lizards out of the house.  We've got a clear plastic cylinder that I place over the critter.  They don't realize they've been captured.  A piece of paper is slid under them and they run up into the cylinder.  Out to the garden they go.

There's a normal patter of mosquitoes that were getting in the old windows.  About one a night would be moved onto its next life as something more useful.  Perhaps a leech or other nasty creature.

The Tree Frog was moved on when construction and demolition happened.  I'm sorry for that one since I am really quite entertained by them.  There's a piece of plastic that serves as a lean-to and if it comes back, I'll make something more permanent.

Then there are the ducks.

Muscovy Ducks.  They're semi-wild distant relatives of the pet ducks that some neighbor invariably has somewhere in your town. 

Harmless creatures if left alone, and they can become quite tame if gently handled.

My own version of Gently Handling them is to let them be and do "Duck Things" unharmed.


I've been told stories that I call urban legends.  Someone has a friend of a friend that said that the ducks colonized their swimming pool in the next town.  They fouled the water, made the pool deck dirty, and made them a Sad Panda.

First problem with that is that if there is no food, the ducks will move on, so they won't really hang around where they're not welcome and hungry.

There was a problem with my own Live and Let Live attitude this weekend.  Construction.

The gates were left open to the backyard and people were literally all over the property.  Tools were set where needed, cars were being moved all day, things were dropped.  The normal kind of bedlam that happens when you're having work done.

I had baked some chocolate chip cookies from The Internet Recipe using home churned butter as a thank you to my two neighbors who were allowing us to park the cars on their property.  The one neighbor was in and out all day but came by with some leftover pizza since they weren't going to be there.  They're moving out soon.

I saw them and came out with a pound of those cookies and said "Turn about is fair play!  Here, have a carbo load!".

Coming back to the house, I saw the ducks.  They were heading into the backyard.  Not good.  There is a corridor between the fence and the house and the ducks would be harmed if a boot came too close. 

Harmed, stressed out, bothered.  I had no desire to do that or have that happen.

Rambling Moose to the rescue, I herded them back out to the front yard.  Momma Duck should be used to me now, she sees me all over the neighborhood.  I simply walked behind her and her brood. 

Of course I had to get pictures.  She should be used to that too.

The neighbors came over to see the Ducks, construction stopped to see the Ducks, and we managed to herd them gently on their way.

Closer to the park at least.  They'll get there eventually or if not, they found a nice quiet place to hide.

I've come across her and her charges very early in the morning.  She's sleeping with her ducklings under her like petals on a flower radiating from the center.  I have heard others mention her so she's a minor celebrity in this part of town.

I'm just glad we're able to keep her safe.  The babies can't fly yet, and while she's welcome in my yard, I'd just rather have her in the front yard and leave the pool be.

Especially with hammers and ladders and boots everywhere.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Evicting My Tree Frog

We had to do it.
We had to send a friend away.

Goodbye little tree frog.

We hated doing it too.  For more than a year, maybe two, this little critter has been spending it's daytime watching over us.

It found a nook between the glass and a piece of Fascia Board on the outside of my Florida Room.  There it would shimmy up before dawn most mornings, and rest the day away.

It got very predictable.  About an hour before dawn I would hear a meaty smack on the window and there it would be. 

Slowly walking up the glass of the Jalousies to the shelter that someone created years ago, it would find its spot.

My intention is to make a Frog Hut.  I saved all of the beaver board and scraps I could find from the construction.  I have a sheet of plywood and some crown molding and from that, if I have the time, I think we can make something just large enough.

If I do make that, I'll make it so it can be removed for cleaning.  We never could clean that spot on the window because it was too close to the wood for my hands.  The frog's timing was that I could have gotten out there on days it wasn't using us as Kermit's Hotel For Wayward Tree Frogs.

That particular day, the frog arrived when construction had already started.  It was a late morning for it so I figure it was out visiting Miss Piggy and having whatever passes for a frog party.  Maybe Bugs a la Mode?  The one worker had just stepped away from the window after removing the first bit of Fascia board and our friend saw its chance.  I spotted the frog mid window and the worker hadn't even seen it.  It climbed back up to its spot and we all tried to move it along as gently as possible. 

For now I have shiny Impact Resistant Windows where those leaky Jalousies were.  The house even feels different, so the new ones are markedly more fuel efficient. 

But no home for Frogs.

Sorry little friend, I'll see what I can do.  Maybe tape a piece of cardboard for the time being.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Housefull Of Windows Replaced In Two Days

We're beat.

26 windows down, 1 to go - if I got my count right.

Part of living in South Florida is accepting the environment and preparing for it.  Oh, sure, you do the same in other parts of the country.  Actually you do it everywhere, but you generally don't give it all that much thought.

When you move in, set down roots in a new place, you begin that process that you learned when you were growing up - but didn't realize it.  You adapted to your environment, and bent what you could to fit it to your own preferences.

We're doing that here.

The house was built some time after 1956.  We aren't completely sure whether it was 1956 or 1968.

Neither is the City.  Records are a bit sketchy.

We do know that nobody did any major renovations here.   A pool was added in the early 1960s, or maybe the 1950s, there isn't a record of that either.

Someone laid tile in the "Public Areas" of the house.  Right on top of the grey travertine, or what ever it is called.  You could correct me and an hour later I'd get it wrong anyway.  One of those names I can't keep in my head.

Just like most names.  They just don't "stick".

It was actually laid by most of the Police force of the City at the time.  They did a crappy job, just like anyone you'd expect to be drafted to do something by their boss.  Some of the tiles have a hollow sound to them when you step on them, and the grout is crumbling.

Another project for the future.

But past that, the cabinets were put in and left alone, just as most of the rest of the bones of this place.  We're replacing some fairly major systems here as time goes on.

The first thing to go was the fire hazard of the electrical panel.  Do yourself a favor - find your electrical panel and see if you have the words "Federal Pacific Electric" on it or the initials "FPE".  If you do, you had better replace it.  Major design flaws resulting in fires.  Such a bad design that the company was bankrupted and stripped for parts.  They actually cheated on the "UL" tests and got the approval they were looking for then sold the hell out of those faulty Stabloc circuit breakers.  Go check, I'll wait!

But the windows remained.  Leaky Jalousie windows.

Not. Any. More.

Impact resistant windows.  The words "Impact Rating: Large Missile" are written on that sticker on the windows and are waiting for the inspector. 

I won't test that although I did get a chuckle out of the phrase.

Much quieter too.  I'd say it knocked the noise level down outside to where I can't hear the cars on the street and I'm hearing different sounds from inside the house.

I may have to let some of the old style mechanical clocks stop because they're now so prominent when the radio or TV is off.

The sounds changed so much that now Rack is alerting to different things.  He actually "moofed" at the ice maker until he got told it was OK and got used to it.

It was 2 solid days of construction.  Knock out 27 windows, replace with 18 or so, and then caulk everything.  New woodwork.  Stucco where needed.

Oh and lets not forget that while all that is going on, the house is effectively without windows.  No, not "open windows" but "missing".  Letting in a Mosquito is not an option.  Letting in 50 mosquitoes was what happened. 

And "Letting In" is not exactly correct so much as they let themselves in.

We have a thing that looks like a tennis racket.  It has a set of parallel wires and when you swing it through the air, it will zap any bug it hits into a vapor with a white hot flash and a "SNAP!" sound.

Rack hates it.

But it works.  When the first day of demolition and construction was finished and we were sitting in the chair, one swipe through the air killed 21 mosquitoes.

At One Pass.

Inside the living room.

The next morning I killed one on each arm before construction began anew.

I'm a quart low at this point and the top part of my brain is drying out from the donation.

But it is mostly done.  One window left and we're done.

What.  A.  Weekend.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jose Visits America

Jose came to America from Mexico and wanted to go a baseball game so when he went home, he could tell his family all about it.

When he got there, the game was sold out, so he decided to climb to the top of a flag pole to get a better look.

When he returned home, his family was anxious to hear about his experience.

"What happened?" asked his family.

"Well, America is the nicest place in the world!!" he said.

"Before the game started, all the people in the stands and all the players stood up, looked at me and said, "Jose, can you see?"


I always wanted to tell jokes, but I had pretty severe social anxiety.

So, I wrote the jokes down on pieces of paper and taped the paper to frisbees.

Then I threw the frisbees at passers by so they could read my jokes.

The trouble was, most of them flew right over their heads.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Two Guys Were Roaring Down A Road On A Motorcycle

Two guys were roaring down the road on a motorcycle when the driver slowed up and pulled over.

His leather jacket had a broken zipper, and he told his friend, "I can't drive anymore with the air hitting me in the chest like that."
"Just put the jacket on backwards." His friend advised.

They continued down the road but around the next bend, they lost control and wiped out.

A nearby farmer came upon the accident and ran to call the police.

They asked him, "Are they showing any signs of life?"

"Well," the farmer explained, "the driver was until I turned his head around the right way!"

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lizard on a Hot Tin Roof

Up North in the Big Cities, if you find any wildlife indoors, you call an exterminator.

I don't mean pets, or your weird relatives, but "wildlife".

Non domesticated animals or insects.

Here, I've grown a bit more relaxed about that.

When I moved to South Florida, I remember being told a few "important things". 

Always bang your shoes out on the ground.
Check your bed for spiders.
Don't go swimming in a lake, there are gators in the water.

Ok, the Gator thing?  Yeah I believe it.  I was at a park in Dania Beach once and had to leave a dock because I saw a gator approaching.  I think it wanted to turn Lettie into its next meal.  She didn't know what to make of it and was getting agitated.

Trust in Dog, I got out of there.

But the shoes thing?  Nah.  At least not in my house. They were trying to throw a fear into me about scorpions.

Nine years later, I have seen exactly one scorpion and that was living outdoors where it belongs.

Now mind you, wildlife does get in.  We have killed more mosquitoes here than I care to count.  We've also got one of those cool tennis racket looking dealies that you press a button and wave through the air.  You see a flash and hear a "SNICK!" and the nasty girl is vaporized.

They're always female if they're trying to bite you.  Always.

Spiders?  Not if you make your bed.  Plus, like Constance says, the bed just LOOKS better if it is properly made.  You could bounce a quarter off that blanket!

On the other hand, there are my Lizards.  Typically they are Cuban Browns that get in, but there are also the pink Geckos that end up being seen right around dusk.

The Geckos get hungry and come out looking for food.

Hey, Geckos!  You're slacking.  Go after the mosquitoes and I'll even set up a habitat for you!

Don't laugh, there's a story I was told about people in New York City keeping lizards in the house like you and I do with dogs.  They run around and eat cockroaches.

If I see cockroaches, we call and have the house tented.  *shudder*.

But the Cuban Browns are everywhere keeping a watch over you.

I have never found them in my shoes, but they do get in the house.

For some reason people fear them.  I'm deeply entertained by them, and I think they know it.

Yes, I am the Lizard Whisperer.  Or something like that.

But tapping your shoe on the ground before you put it on?  Only if it was left in the closet too long.  Then you might have to worry about those spiders making a web in them.

Oh, in that case, they're most likely dead.  After all, a web in your Size 11 Boot won't catch many bugs to eat behind a closed door, will it?

They can't bite you, although if  you find an ornery one they will try.  They just don't have any teeth.  Just like Grandma, all they can do is gum their food.  Girls would catch them and get them to bite their earlobes to wear lizards as earrings.

I guess they tickled.  Silly girls.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How Can I Tell Rack's Feeling More Confident? I'm Wearing Out Shoes

5AM I am usually not at my best.  Oh, sure, I'm awake, but I'm pretty much on Auto-Pilot. 

Left foot, right foot, through the morning for a while.

Somewhere about mid Dog Walk, I wake up more fully.

We start out with just about the same route every time, of course.  It's out of the house, down the driveway, off the block.  By the time we get to Wilton Drive, my brain is sputtering to life.

I can tell Rack is waking up too.  Being as fearful as he is, we start with him putting his head into the harness.  I snap the clasps in place and he's shivering a little.  Not from cold, but uncertainty of what is going to happen. 

But the shivering is getting less intense.  We go through this routine at the last walk of the day, he is nervous.  Who knows why, but I blame whoever he was unfortunate enough to have as a first owner.

Mind you, there are three walks we do.  Each one has its own routine.  Both we and the dogs like that.  Dogs in general like routine.  They can't read a clock, but they can tell roughly what time of day it is based on what is going on in the environment. 

We're on the drive and the Goya truck goes past, roaring at a speed I'd bet is well above the 30 MPH limit.  If it isn't Goya, it's the truck going to supply some of the shops, or maybe even the 50 Bus.  At least one, usually two or three of them will fly past.

Rack doesn't like trucks.  When we first tried walking The Drive, he would flatten out like a pancake on the pavement.  Then he'd sit with the leash completely taught trying to get away.  Who knows why, it's just something that happens.

Lately his reaction is noticeably less.  The ears go down, he'll tug toward the nearest building but it isn't the abject terror of before.

There definitely is an association between The Drive and noise or some sort of discomfort.  The association is weakening.  I know because there's a strange thing happening.

Most mornings when we hit the end of that first block to turn back into the neighborhood and head back home, Rack has been trying to pull towards a longer walk. 

On The Drive.

The regular walk is just over 3/4 mile.  It's a largish rectangle that we can do in about 20 minutes or less. 

This isn't a regular walk.  We got to one of the few stoplights and I got towed toward the "wrong direction" instead of heading back home.

I said "Ok, Rack!".
He looked back at me.
"Show Me Walk.".

Show Me is a phrase I used with Lettie, my departed dog.  If I said that phrase even to someone else, she
would go to what she wanted and stare at it, then back at me until I gave it to her.   It wasn't always food, it could be a toy, a door to go out, or even a leash for a walk.

Rack is starting to learn Show Me.  Sure, your dog can sit, but if it can't tell you what it wants, you're going to be limited to what you can do.

In this case Show Me gave me a walk on the entire drive, plus the blocks in The Neighborhood to get home.

At 5AM.  Ok, give or take. 

He's not really all that fond of Long Walks in the middle of summer.  It was in the low 80s all week before sunrise.  The hottest walk of the day was above 90 on some of the walks.

Metric that translates to Bloody Hot For A Floridian Degrees Celsius.  A Floridian and his dog who are used to the heat.

The last Show Me Walk that we did, which was about the sixth pre-dawn walk that he did this in a row, was a mile and a third. 

Metric that translates to My Feet Hurt.  Two K's.  Before coffee.

*grumble* OK, Rack, lets go!

Nice to know you're feeling your oats and we don't have to treat you like you aren't quite so fragile.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A View From The Trail at Pompano Airpark

I'm at that point in the workout when everything falls together and I stop thinking about what I'm doing.

That may sound counter-intuitive but what happens is exactly that.

You get going and you fall into the zone.  The Groove.  That whole "Zen" thing of the workout.

No matter what workout it is, you cease thinking about where you put your feet or your arms, and just go with it.

I was rolling along at the Pompano Airpark, looking at what they're trying to do with the trail, and wondering why people plant Crepe Myrtles.  Everywhere I have seen them, they look like they're struggling to get a foothold.

Then I rounded the corner onto the West side of the trail.  I found myself lined by twin columns of pink flowers, being accompanied by Dragon Flies, and generally impressed at the fact that it managed to hide the rather industrial looking airport just over my right shoulder.

The airport has its own charm, but beautiful it isn't.  Having the Goodyear Blimp come and go from time to time is fascinating, but the General Aviation airport isn't exactly what I'd call home about.  Looks like a collection of squat boxes flanked by someone's toy airplanes.

But those Crepe Myrtles did exactly what they intended.  Block the view. 

I dropped into a racing posture, and flew through that particular mile.  Winds low, it felt like everything moved fast,  even if I was only going about 15 miles per hour at best.

For a distance inline skater, this is probably the best trail I have found in South Florida.  I did the Broadwalk at Hollywood Beach and found the people on bicycles too arrogant and too ready to attempt to crowd you out. 


Pompano doesn't have any other real attraction at the park.  You could sit by the fire station in the shade and watch planes come and go, but that can quickly get tired.  There are only two water stops, at the fire station and at mile 1.5.  But what it does have to offer is 4.5 miles of "Black Ice". 

For the most part, it's skating rink smooth, and no interruptions of streets to get in your way.

On the other hand, for a sport that has just about vanished, you get to use it all by yourself, practically.  Just you, a few well behaved people on bikes, and the self absorbed people who insist on walking on the "wrong" side of the trail and don't yield to "On Yer Left!" warnings when someone is approaching.

Then again, that sounds more like society these days than a workout.

At least the flowers are in bloom, and it's a good place to adjust the bindings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

USB Turntable With Built In Speakers - AKA What You're Given When You Are Handy

I had been watching this item and laughing.

Vibe Sound USB Turntable With Built-In Speakers!

Ok, I have a stash of old school Vinyl Records in the house.  I'll admit it, I actually bought some of these when they were Current.

I won't pretend to be a Hipster.  I do have a goatee right now, but that's because I was bored.  Maybe it saves time, yeah that's the excuse, it saves time! 


I've got a reputation around here for a number of things.  I've become "That Guy".  It's a reputation of That Guy Who Can Actually Fix Things.

As a result I am given things that people can't figure out or just don't want to mess with.

You know the type.  You've got some old gadget that has been taking up space in storage.  It annoys you or your partner and you decide to toss it out.  Put a tag on it on the night before Trash Day saying "Free To A Good Home" and hope someone who needs it finds it.

Or you do what this guy did.

A neighbor who I know in passing lived around the corner.  I'd pass by from time to time and wave hello, or perhaps we'd bend each other's ears on a dog walk.

Lets call him A Dog Walk Friend instead of an Acquaintance because Dog Walk Friends are Friends Who You Get To Know Better Later.

Or so I've been told.

We're walking past the other night and he's getting stuff out for trash day when I hear "I'm Beat!".

He's standing by a 1970s vintage Console Radio complete with 8 Track and a box under his arm.  The Free To A Good Home tags are flapping in the breezes.

"I can see why"...
"Here!  Take This.  You fix things, see what you can do with it!".

A box that had seen at least one move and some strapping tape was thrust at me.   I pass the dog leash off to Kevin who is shaking his head "NO!" just out of direct view.

I tell him to stop shaking his head and take the box for examination.  The pack rat is about to get a new toy.

While laughing, I tell my friend that I had been watching this and I still have a foot locker full of records.  Mine and some from Dad.  Dad's old Swing Era records, still in the Time/Life boxes, ready to be listened to and loved.

I should do something with those records.  I've had them in the foot of my closet since before I moved to Florida because I couldn't bare to pass them on.  They're complete but not particularly worth much on the "resale market".  Collectable to me, but ... well I can't get rid of them, Dad would hate it.

Even if he is gone to the great beyond.

It isn't the kind of thing I'd buy for myself.  USB Turntables aren't exactly all that expensive, but I have a better turntable from back in the day when a good turntable was a requirement instead of like now when it is a confusing relic from the last century.

We got the box home, and I took it out to the backyard where I inspected it.   For good measure, I slid the equipment out, sprayed the box with bug killer, then slid the turntable back into the box.  That should kill anything that might be lurking.

Waiting until the next morning, I unboxed it.  It was complete.  I dug out my last milk crate of old records, finding someone else's taste in music I realized "Not Mine" and moved them aside.  I found my crate.  I guess I'm down to just one crate of my own records.

Choosing a classic disco record, I put it on the turntable.  Powered it up.  There in Mid-Fi I got to listen to a song that I had heard dozens of times before.

Sigh with me everyone:


It even has the software if I am bold enough to try it.  Apparently I can plug it into my laptop and capture the vinyl onto an MP3 so I can listen to the same stuff that I have been listening to since my childhood another time.

Mmmm pops and crackles on MP3 complete with loss and low top end.

Ok, it's a nice toy and it didn't cost me anything.  

So since you're reading over my shoulder, how about flipping the LP over.  They only put one track on the A Side, and I want to hear Cerrone's Paradise again.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Classic White Bread or a Clone Of Wonder Bread? You Decide

I finished up the "pressing tasks" of the morning rather early.  Happens when you're up almost two hours before sunrise as a normal habit.

I was debating what I wanted for breakfast and realized that everything I wanted needed to be baked.

I'd have something else, but I would make everything later.

I ended up baking some Cream Biscuits for Biscuits and Sausage Gravy for the next day, and a Pizza In a Skillet for lunch. 

But I realized that I finally had enough room in the freezer to make up a batch of rolls. 

Since I was sitting at the computer doing some decidedly random surfing, my mind turned to Reddit because it had been in the news lately, and I started hitting some random subreddits within the site.  Each "subreddit" is an old school list of topics that people can write about.

Ending up on a subreddit devoted to recipes that are clones of commercial foods that we all enjoy, I started reading Mimic Recipes.

There are a host of things there that I will be trying, but I did find something to help with my need for rolls.  I was intrigued by a Wonder Bread clone recipe. 

Yes, Wonder Bread.  That "stuff" that you feed your kids.  When it goes stale, if it ever goes stale, it makes good to excellent French Toast.  A whole generation was raised on Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly, on Wonder Bread.

The last time I had the stuff it tasted ... like air.  I had grown used to thick crusted rolls with actual flavor.  "Ethnic foods" changed my preferences.

I wondered how close to the old Wonder Bread I could come with this recipe.  Even Wonder Bread isn't the same as I remember it.  The crusts were rather strongly flavored when I was a kid, in my own memory.  The Bread itself would be great to roll up into a dough ball and chew but there wasn't a particularly strong taste.

I have to say, this recipe pretty much nails the crust taste, but the inside had a light flavor that wasn't bad. 

I didn't have the semolina flour that was called for so my own recipe used the commercial All Purpose bread flour that I keep on hand. 

In 25 pound bags.  Cheaper that way.  It also reduced the price of these rolls to about 7 cents a piece.  Maybe a buck a batch give or take.

I guess the idea is that sometimes you want a crusty roll to make a hoagie, other times you want a thin and soft crust roll for a PB&J or other sandwich. 

Will I make it again?  Sure, not bad.  After all, the company did get bought up after it went bankrupt and their bread is being sold everywhere just like the good old days.  Someone out there must like the stuff!

Call it a "Classic White Bread" recipe and skip all the double talk, it was pretty darn good last night with dinner.


  • 1 1/4 cups Water
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons Dry Yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted Butter, Melted
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Semolina Flour - Or just substitute 1/4 more all purpose Flour
  • Melted Butter for Glazing


  • Process Ingredients on Dough Cycle In Machine or alternately use mixer with dough hook.
  • Gently Deflate dough
  • Form into an oblong loaf and place in lightly greased 9" by 5" loaf pan.
  • Place the entire loaf pan in a large plastic bag to allow it to rise - or other enclosed space like a cool microwave oven.
  • Allow to rise until the dough is about 1 inch above the pan rim.
  • Brush with Melted Butter.
  • Preheat Oven to 350F.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes until evenly browned.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Chicken Walks Into A Library

A chicken walks into a library, walks directly up to the librarian and says "book book".
The librarian, looking a little puzzled, hands the chicken a book.
The chicken puts the book under its wing and walks out.

The next day the same chicken comes back and says to the librarian "book book".
Again the librarian hands it a book and again the chicken grabs the book and walks out.

The next day it happens yet again!
Chicken walks in "book book", the librarian hands it a book and the chicken walks out.

This time though the librarian decides to follow the chicken.
It runs down the street, through a park and into a small wooded area with a pond.
There, sitting on a lily pad is a green frog.

The chicken places the book on the bank closest to the frog and says "book book".
The frog takes one look and says "read it".

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Pastor is Speaking In A Regular Church Service And A Walk Through Tennessee

A Pastor is Speaking In A Regular Church Service

One person is sleeping amidst the church crowd.

The pastor says "Whoever would like a place in heaven, please stand."
Everyone except the sleeping person stands.

"Whoever would like a place in hell, please stand."

The sleeping guy wakes up, only hearing the 'please stand'.

He then stands up and says "Pastor, it looks like we're the only two standing."

A Walk Through Tennessee

I was walking through Tennessee, and I came upon a cabin. There was a man sitting on the porch with a big bottle in front of him.

 He called over to me, "Hey boy, get over here."

Pointing to the bottle, he asked, "You know what this is?"
"I don't know."
"It's moonshine you idiot. Why don't you take a drink?"
"No thanks" I said.

 All of a sudden he pulled out a pistol and pointed it at me. "If you don't take a drink, I'll I'm going to shoot you!"

Terrified, I took a drink. It was the worst thing I ever tasted. It burned going down, I thought I was immediately going to die or throw up.

"Good stuff, aint it?" He said.

 Then he handed me the pistol. "Now you point that gun at me so I can take a drink."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Are We There Yet? Back Seat Navigation From A Distance With Glympse

Being that annoying kid with the map in the car served me well.

I've always been excellent at directions and cartography.  Actually I can stare at online maps and wonder about the weird little quirks in boundaries for quite a while.

Sure, how to keep an idiot occupied, hand them a map.

But that does get to be a useful quirk.

When a friend came down from Atlanta back in May, he told me about this service called Glympse.  You install an app on your smartphone, send someone a link, and you get to watch them drive.  They're represented as a little triangle on Google Maps, and that triangle moves based on the location of the phone.

It gets freaky when they're sitting next to you and the triangle changes orientation as the person spins in the room.  Just think of what the commercial or law enforcement people have to use.

But that gets very useful when someone is coming to you or heading home. 

You don't have to call me when you get there.
You don't have to call at a rest stop to say how you're going.

Actually, it's good enough that I already know that you pulled off the road, and that you started slowing down to use the exit because I saw your speed drop from 70 to 50 and you changed lanes.

Yeah, that good.

So as someone got ready to cross into Maryland on US1 I got a phone call. 

"Did you get my Glympse yet?"

I grabbed the link and started watching his progress.

Yep.  How to keep an idiot entertained.

The only drawback he had was he said that it is limited to 4 hours.  When someone is traveling for 2 days, that is a bit of a limitation.

Since he's taking Autotrain back from Lorton VA to Sanford FL, then driving here, I get to see the holes in the cellphone network.

Just south of Jacksonville, I noticed that his little triangle would get "stuck" then come unstuck and leap forward every so often.  They're not putting cell towers in the swampy back woods areas because nobody is there, or shouldn't be, on the railroad tracks anwyay.

Well there goes my next two days.  Watching a blue triangle work its way across a map.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rack Wants to Know Is It Raining Or Not - Training Your Dog With Thunderstorms On The Radio

It was a long day.

Up at 5 AM as usual, we get more done before breakfast than most people do.

All day long, I'm helped by Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM).

He generally stays in his crate.  I don't think it is fear until the weather approaches.   At that point, all bets are off.

South Florida is a very flat landscape.  Other than the well distributed "Mount Trashmore" trash piles that are making Methane to partially power the trash trucks, the tallest things you see here are buildings and palm trees.  It's similar to driving across the midwest where you see the next town down the way because you spot the Grain Elevator.  Here it's the next city's high rise towers off in the distance.

Get to the top of a road overpass, and you can spot things 20 or 30 miles away.  You can't quite see Miami or West Palm Beach from here, normally, but you can see pretty close to it.

Turn the other direction at the right time of day and you can see where the weather is coming from.

This is all very different from Key West, where everything is so closely packed together, you won't get any breezes at all unless there is a strong wind overhead.  That and the temperature is a good 5 degrees hotter than it should be.

Looking West from the house, I'm looking over top of a few low rise houses, a few businesses, and then off into the great beyond.  That generally means the Everglades, although the River Of Grass doesn't show anything directly.  That wall of orange-red Poinciana blossoms and a solid 15 miles of city are between me and The Glades.

But the weather I can see approach.

The point is that it really is that flat.  The next hill of any note on the interstate roads is at the high school in Titusville Florida, about 200 miles away just off I-95.

So a storm cloud can be seen a long way off.  So can the thunder. 

The weather tends to bubble up these pop up storms that we can't really hear and look like a cloud on the horizon. 

But, Rack can hear them. 

Since he's afraid of his own shadow but getting better, he tends to be on guard.  I do my best by running music off the radio to drown some of it out, but all that does is distract me from my own routine. 

The last time storms were approaching, I cut short a phone call from a friend, then got the dog walk in.  No flashes at all, but Rack heard them coming.  He pulled me around the city on a shorter than usual walk, and we came back.  I knew he heard them because once I opened the door, he trotted through the house to the bedroom and plopped next to the bed, quickly.

Instead of listening to more music before bed, I reached for the remote on the internet radio and found the sound effects menu.

You guessed it.  "Rain and Thunderstorms".

I couldn't even hear the program.  The speakers have no amplifier so anything played is decidedly background.

Until the thunder started.   That was just a little bit louder than background, but not really what anyone would call "loud".

Rack noticed.  Laying "over there" by the closet, he cocked his head.  Looking up in the direction of the unmoving speakers, he was trying to stare it down.  It was doing its best to keep the house from being silent.

Another thunderclap came from the speakers.  It was doing its best to sound like a storm more than 5 miles away.  Maybe 10. I didn't see the flash.

More head tilts.  We were onto something. 

Then I started hearing the rain.  First from the speakers, then from outside.  It was really raining.  I turned off the internet radio.  It seemed both like gilding the lily and bordering on the cruel.  We had a "Pixel Storm" that was too small to register on Radar other than a little green dot. 

But Rack knew it was coming.  I guess that was what was up.

So if you happen to visit and it sounds like a storm is approaching and the sun is out, it could be Weird Florida Weather.

Or it could just be that I've got the internet radio playing back in the master bedroom.

Your choice.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sunset in Wilton Manors

In the front of my little house, on the little island city, in this little part of the world, I have a chair.

The chair isn't so little because I am not either.  But there it sits. 

I have a view out into the world.  From where I sit, I look West.  I see all sorts of people go by every day, many of the same people pass by every day at the same time.  Others just occasionally.  I even put a security camera out on the spot for a while at the same view, but I found it much more pleasant to sit in the big green chair in front of the window and watch things go by, live.

I guess this is my own version of sitting on the front porch watching the world go by after dinner.

We park ourselves, put on some old scripted comedy show from the last century, and watch the serial roll out its plot.

At this time of year, it takes a little bit of engineering to remain comfortable in my perch.  The sun comes down over the city just in the right angle.  Mid afternoon I'm getting reflections off of any car parked in the sun in the driveway.  That is to say, the light off the front of someone's car would etch an impression into chrome, let alone your eyes, so for that hour it's best to move away from that spot.

After dinner is best.

The sun does come down just in the right angle to be annoying in summer.  In a couple weeks, sunset will happen behind the neighbor's palm tree and I'll be able to watch the skies change without any lingering eye stress.

There are always a few clouds here.  It's a very rare day that you can stand in the middle of an open area, spin around and not see the top of some distant cloud somewhere.

That's fine.  It's a measure of how wet our climate is.  It also serves to catch the last few rays on the underside as they change the clouds from white, through yellow and gold, to oranges and red.  Some days you still can catch a little purple on the underside of the clouds in the western skies a good half hour after sunset.

But lately, they've been magnificent.  It's also possible that that particular sitcom had been watched one too many times and the sky show is much more interesting.

There are evenings that I see a scene so beautiful that I want to share it.  Make a comment to anyone listening near or far and tell them to have a look out the window, just for a bit. 

This was one of them to share with someone far away.  Gone, but soon to return.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Firefox Now Blocks Flash As Default Until Next Version Of Flash

If you are using Firefox, I have a question:  Is your browser acting up on you?

What happened is that Mozilla pushed through a well intentioned update.  It now blocks Flash as a default, and while you can turn it on if you like through the settings, I'm thinking I got into a chain of weirdness here that ended up with my having to do some tweaks.

Flash is that piece of software who has its origins back before the dawn of time, or rather 1999 or so that serves up videos, games, and the worst of all features of the modern web, advertisements.

You've got it on your computer unless you took steps to avoid having it.  I'd be willing to bet on it.  If I lost that particular bet go outside and enjoy the great outdoors since you Win One Internetz you 733t D00D!

For the rest of us, Flash is a bit of an annoyance.  Use is something you may not have thought about, an it's starting to fade away.  Personally, I won't miss it but I do keep it up to date and protect myself by only allowing it to run when I tell it to.

Back to that Flash thing.  I am now getting a black stripe at the top of my browser when Flash wants to be activated on any specific website.  In my case, that is exactly how I want it to act.  I want it to nag me when I hit a webpage that wants to use Flash so I know if I'm about to get a virus.

The reality is that when Facebook's head of security, that time sink of a website that mines what you are doing to serve it back to the advertisers that are paying for the site, says that it is Time For Flash To Die, you are witnessing the beginning of the end of an era.

In my own specific case, it locked my Firefox into "Safe Mode" and refused to let me out.  I had to "Refresh" the browser which meant I lost all my configurations and settings.  It took me the better part of an hour to get them back.  I also lost "Adblock Edge" and am having to retrain myself on something called uBlock Origin which is nowhere near as user friendly as the one I was using.

In order to re-enable Flash, and I do not recommend you turn it on for everyone but leave it nag you when it wants to be on:

Go to your Plug In Check Page
Click the scary "Update Now" button

The midsized scary red button will open a webpage for you to download the latest version of Flash, Manually.  Make certain that you clear the check box for their latest crapware download of McAfee Security software.

In my own opinion, there really isn't any reason to download anything from McAfee but that's my opinion.

Once you have done the install, it will force you to restart your browser.

Bad form, Adobe, Bad form.  Then again, it's always been this bad form so we are used to it by now.

So after you restart the browser, Windows Update had a fix for Flash as well.  After applying that update, and a final reboot, the resulting "about:addons" page that allows you to activate or disable your addons was no longer scary red.

The Plugin Status page still had the scary red big button, but the update now button was green and happy.

Lather, Rinse, and Repeat as necessary for all your computers.  Every IT person will be going through this sort of thought process for a bit, or have someone do it for them.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Zen and the Art Of Brewing the Perfect Mug Of Coffee

Coffee is a weird thing.  It's just like making the perfect hamburger.

Why?  Because the perfect hamburger is the one you decide is best. 

Put another way, it's the one you make yourself.  Preferably in the backyard on a good hot grill, cooked to medium rare, served with Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Mushrooms, Catsup (or how ever the hell you spell that), and maybe Mustard.

On a good day, that is.  Mustard is always optional.  You may disagree, but hey that's why I phrased it the way I did.

You see, you get a recipe.  It doesn't matter what it is, could be coffee, a burger, some bread.  You can find recipes for all of them here on this blog or other places.

You will take that recipe and without realizing it, you will adapt it.
Make it the first time but realize it may be better if you add or subtract something.
Cook it on a different appliance.  Grill, skillet, oven.
Instead of Medium Rare, you are a philistine who prefers your meat Well Done.

Sorry, no thanks, I'll call out for Pizza.

What I am describing is something called "Co-Evolution".  It is where the process changes to fit the results, and the process changes every time you make it. 

Mission Creep is another way of looking at it.

This was brought about by a simple question:

"How do you make a cup of coffee".

I don't.  I make a French Press Mug full of coffee, and drink it right out of the French Press Mug.

That changes drastically how the coffee tastes.  I actually LIKE that oil that is in the coffee, it makes it much more complex. 

Filtered drip coffees will leave the oils behind on the filter to be thrown away and make the resulting coffee taste more flat - like listening to a symphony on an AM radio, just don't do it.  Trust me on this.

But while I could turn this all into a comedy act, here is exactly how I do it.  I stepped back and measured everything, and I do mean EVERYthing.

First - the French Press is a measured 22 ounces to the brim.  Exactly, or as close to exactly as I could come.  If you don't have a French Press, you can actually use a mixing cup or bowl and pour the coffee through a strainer or a fine metal mesh sieve to serve. Yes, there will be a little bit of grounds in the bottom.  Drink around them.  They make the taste better.  Wait for them to settle, you will be glad you did.

Second - I almost always use a 50/50 mix of a good decaf and regular coffee.  Decaf tastes weaker, regular coffee is more bold and complex.  On full caffeine coffee I become a rather large and intense being.  I was asked by those around me and several government agencies not to drink full caffeine coffee.  I complied.

Third - forget that Second bit.  Select a coffee that YOU like and skip the snobbery.  You will adjust it later anyway!

Fourth - Co-evolution is your friend.  The second time you do this, you'll like it better.

Here goes! 

  • To an empty 22 ounce French Press, add 21 grams of finely ground coffee.  Each level measured tablespoon of Dunkin Donuts Decaf Pre-ground is 9 grams.
  • Add 5 grams powdered creamer.
  • Add 2 packets or 2 grams of Sweet N Low.
  • Boil water in a whistling tea kettle until it is at a full whistling boil
  • Add 515 grams or 17 ounces of boiling water to the French Press.
  • Steep the Coffee mixture for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  • Add 4 ounces Ice Cubes to bring the Coffee down to drinking temperature.  This was 5 cubes in my freezer.
  • Total was 595 grams or 21 ounces of liquid after the ice melted.

Weights were all measured in grams, then converted back to ounces.  I actually set the French Press Mug on top of the scale and measured it as I added the ingredients.   Really simple process.

A proper electronic kitchen scale will help you in this and any other recipe and they run about 8 Bucks online or a couple dollars at a thrift store.  Bring some AA (or AAA) batteries when you go look so you can test. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Man Needs Help Doing The Chores Around The House

So he asks around saying he needs someone to do the dishes.

His friend tells him about this dog. "He's amazing! He can do all your dishes no problem."

So the man takes the dog home and asks him to do the dishes. The dog does the dishes in no time at all. The man says "wow you're amazing! How good are you doing laundry?"

The dog says "I can't do laundry what do you think I am? I'm only a dog" so the man takes the dog back to his friend and tells him "This dog is good at dishes but he's useless for anything else. What else do you have?"

His friends thinks for a second and says "ok I've got the perfect thing for you. Take this parrot. He can do whatever you want."

So the man takes the parrot home and asks him to do the dishes. The parrot gets to work and does an even better job than the dog. He even dries them and puts them away.

The man is applauds the parrot and asks about the laundry. The parrot starts laundry with no trouble at all.

The man says "wow you're amazing! How are you at vacuuming?"

The parrot replies "I can't vacuum what do you think I am? I'm only a parrot." So the man takes the parrot back to his friend and tells him his problem.

The man thinks for a second and says "ok take this monkey. He can do everything you need him to."

So the man brings him home and the monkey does the dishes and laundry with out complaints. He even vacuums the whole house no problem.

The man says "wow you're amazing! Could you run up the the store and grab me some groceries?" The monkey says I can't do that what do you think I am? I'm only a monkey."

So the man gets frustrated and takes the monkey back. He asks his friend "I really need something better."

So his friend thinks long and hard and finally says "I've got it! Take this millipede. I guarantee he can do anything and everything you can imagine."

The man is doubtful of this little millipede but trusts his friend. He takes the millipede home and explains his chores.

The millipede gets to work. He washes the dishes perfectly. Dries them, puts them away, and even organizes the cabinets. He does laundry with no hassle at all. Folds them and neatly puts them in the man's dresser. He even irons the man's dress shirts. He vacuums the entire house, mops the floor, and dusts everything.

The man is astonished. He says "wow you're amazing! Here's my grocery list. Are you capable of getting everything?" The milipede says yes and walks out the door.

The man waits for the milipede to return. He watches the clock as minutes turn to hours. After waiting for what seemed like forever the man gets worried that something happened to the milipede.

He goes to look for him and walks out the door to find the milipede still right outside.

He angrily says "what are you doing!? I've been waiting and waiting on you. Why are you still here!?"

The milipede looks up and says "well sir, I'm still tying my shoes!"

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Story of Nate and the Lever

When the Earth was first created, a big lever was made on the edge of a cliff in the middle of Alaska. If this lever was pushed, the Earth would be reset to how it started off as.

Obviously, anybody could go and push it, so Nate, the strongest person on Earth, decided to devote his life to protect the lever from anybody trying to push it. Many people tried to the get to the lever, but Nate stopped them all.

A boulder 3 times the size of Nate came rolling down once, and almost hit the lever, but Nate stopped it with his bare hands!

Thus, Nate remained undefeated.

Denise, a rather pessimistic person, felt that the world had become terrible and that it never would become a good place to live. So, she wanted the world to start from scratch and set off to Alaska in her car to find and push the lever.

Meanwhile, Mark, a positive person, felt the world was wonderful and that the problems in the world could be fixed. After hearing about Denise's plan, he planned to reach the lever first and help Nate protect the lever.

Mark reaches the lever first and informs Nate of Denise. Nate laughs, and says confidently, "I've defeated hundreds of people before, I'm 100% sure I can stop this Denise you talk of, even if she has a car!"

So Mark and Nate stood around the lever, waiting for Denise.

Soon, Denise came to the cliff. She was surprised to see two people protecting the lever, and was worried about how she would defeat Nate and this other person.

Denise thinks to herself, I guess the only thing I can do now is to run over both of them and drive right into the lever. So Denise drives at full speed towards them.

Mark, seeing this, runs toward her car, hoping that she would swerve around him and lose the car's balance.

Realizing that she was not going to stop, he jumped to the side. Denise, in her rage, tried to follow him, but started skidding.

Realizing she didn't have a chance to turn back and run him over, she drove straight towards the lever.

Suddenly, Nate jumped out and stood right in front of her, hoping to stop the car. Denise rode at full speed towards him. But alas, Nate could not stop the car, and he got hit far off the cliff, and exploded in mid-air. Denise could not stop the car, and she too went reeling off the cliff.

Mark got up, badly bruised. He then sighed, and said to himself, "Well, better Nate than lever."

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Nut, New Skates - Fixing my K2 227G Skates For Another Couple Thousand Miles

I am the kind of person who can repair the inside of a switch.

No, I don't mean go to the parts store and buy a new one, then solder it in.  Of course I can do that.

I mean actually disassemble the switch and most of the time I can actually remanufacture the switch.

I've always been creative at reusing things, my first repair was dad's 8-Track player way back in the day.  He hated that I did it, but was shocked that I could.

I've got this massive box of parts for electronics, a cabinet of parts for my own odds and ends, and deep in the closet under my dress shirts and my running shoes is the Skate Box.

I think it is probably true that I have the most number of inline skate bearings in Wilton Manors under one roof.  It isn't that I run a skate shop, although I easily could, it is that I have been refurbishing bearings for decades at this point.

Literally two decades.  I got into the sport in 1993.  I have skated every year since.  I have skated 21,100 miles total.

Yes, I count.

When I was competing, I skated as much as 2,500 miles a year and 200 miles a week.

Wanna come?

I didn't think so.  Inline skating as a sport collapsed in the early 2000s.  It's now That Kid Down The Block or the trick skaters.  The rest of us do it because we really enjoy the activity.

I mean really.

Given the parts, I am able to keep my sport going.  I can tear down a pair of skates down to the component parts and tighten them back again so that the wheels roll free with no binding and no crunching due to crap in the bearings.

I have also trained people in how to actually skate without breaking their fool necks on a number of occasions. 

After all, if you skate, you will fall.

But all that mechanical stuff sometimes goes awry.  I've thrown bearings and bolts in the past.  What I mean is that I'm skating along and all the sudden something feels a bit "wrong".  Looking down, I notice I've lost a wheel or my brake is wobbly.

Slow to a crawl and retrace the last mile.  See if you can find that nut.  If you can't you probably won't find an exact replacement.

Why?  They stopped manufacturing that skate back in 2003 and you are stuck.  I contacted K2 and that was their answer.  Too bad.  Amazing skate.

That was what happened with my favorite pair of "Cruising Skates".  They're a pair of K2 227G Softboot skates.  I could strap those things on and do a 50 mile workout in comfort gliding from Philadelphia to Valley Forge and beyond not thinking twice other than how far is it to the next Water Stop.

Five Wheels Good, Four Wheels Meh. 
Bigger Wheels Fast, Smaller Wheels More Maneuverability.
I'd kill for a proper pair of cruising skates with five 100MM or greater wheels on it...

The problem with all skates, not K2 alone, is that those soft boots wear down due to your foot sliding against the fabric.  Eventually they get to the point where your heel has worn the fabric lining down and you're against the padding.  My skates are all at that point, and I have lined them with, you guessed it, Duct Tape.

In this case, Olive Drab, Military Spec, Industrial Strength Duct Tape, but Duct Tape nonetheless.

But back to that bolt thing.

Every time you disassemble a skate, and this is also pretty good to remember for when you repair your car or the back gate, use some "Loctite" on the threads of the screws. 

Loctite is a sort of glue that you put a dot on the threads of the screw or bolt, then tighten up.  That glue will hold a screw in place instead of allowing it to work free under use.  For "light duty", something you intend to remove later for service, use "Loctite Blue".  You can remove it and replace it later.  The other strengths like Loctite Red may be too strong for duty, so you need to research that yourself.

For skates, Loctite Blue is perfect, and is even what my skates came with.

But in the case of my favorite skates, I forgot to use it on the nut on my push wheel.  That's the back wheel on the right foot.  Most of the force from my skating was on the back wheel due to my not skating in racing form lately, but most people tend to push from the heel as a matter of course.   It is incorrect technique, but if you're just out cruising around the park in loops, nobody will hold that against you.

Fitness Skating vs Racing. 

Somewhere around the Pompano Beach Airpark, near to the Goodyear Blimp base, I threw that nut.  It's somewhere in the grass, I'll never find it, and I'll probably never stop looking for it.  It's an aluminium nut that looks like a mushroom.  The stem part goes over the bolt that holds the push wheel in, the cap held the brake assembly tight to the skate "truck" where the wheels live.

I took the skate with me to the Home Depot on Sunrise Blvd in Ft Lauderdale.  Instead of going to the local small old line hardware store, I went there only because it is closer.  Standing by the parts bin full of weird fasteners, I was poking around.  The bolt tested to 8MM (Metric) and I knew I could find a standard hex nut, but I wanted a cap on the top. 

I'm looking at it all "cluessly and confused" until this little woman came up.  A former Skater herself, we had a great time talking about The Good Old Days of the 1990s and early 2000s when we could get up dozens of people for a long haul workout.  But she knew exactly what I needed.  A "T-Nut".  We found one that fit.  All that I had to do was bend the prongs back.

That's the thing with doing something out there that others have stopped doing.  It's like keeping a classic car going.  Sometimes you have to machine the part, other times you can rebuild it with Loctite and Duct Tape, and other times you really need a friendly Skater Chick to find a T-Nut to get you back on the road.

Thanks Skater Chick!  You were the Best!  Lets hit the park sometime!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rack Does Not Want His Food. He Wants Mine.

Up at 5AM, we go through our normal routine.

Rack has been getting more excited about exploring Wilton Manors lately.  He's been dragging me on a mile and a quarter and then some, almost two full KM walk each morning.

I could use the exercise, he could use the exercise, and it's great mental stimulation for him

Great, it's a win-win.  He is showing that he's less afraid of that monster five lane highway that is Wilton Drive since I specifically take him through there every morning to get him less afraid.

We get on the last block to the house and he's tugging to go home just like he's expressing his opinion by selecting longer routes to extend our pre-dawn march around town.

I got back and got delayed.  I had to make coffee, get some things running, a couple downloads, and other odds and ends.  His breakfast got delayed a bit as a result.

That grey brown stuff in a purple bowl is one of the highest quality foods we could find on the No China and No Grain Food List that I keep to religiously.  It's the color it is because it is soaked in water to soften it.  Rack is missing a "Pre-Molar" and without that tooth, dry food can be difficult.  Soft food is just a major headache and expensive as well.

But he doesn't like it.  Or rather, he doesn't seem to.  I was used to Lettie, my departed dog.  If I tossed a bit
of food in the air, she'd get it before it hit the ground.  To feed her by hand, I had to tell her to "Take Nice" or I'd feel teeth hit my skin.  That's more normal.  To give a "normal" feeder a pill, wrap it in a piece of cold cut and toss it over your shoulder.  It wouldn't hit the ground either.  In fact, the act of going into the kitchen meant you would have a dog on your heels before your hand touched the fridge door!

Rack, well, he's a ultra-beta dog.  I have to go out of my way to remember to praise him until his tail is wagging that he's done something right.  That includes eating.  His bowl is on a stack of bowls as a stand to put them at the right height.  The food is the right temperature, not too hot, not cold.  It has to be softened but not too soft. 

Yes, he is picky.  If I just toss it in a bowl and walk away, he starves himself.  A normally 50 pound dog, he hovers in the mid to lower 40s and when I tried that "take the bowl away" trick, he skipped three meals and went down to the high 30s in an eye blink.

No.  That's cruel.  I have to be involved.  Tapping the bowl, spinning it around, drawing his attention to his food, holding it under his nose.

That's the trick.  Eventually he eats it.  Grain free, all meat, no poultry. 

Then the praise, then he wandered off and hid.

I swear, he's part cat.

But I wanted Pork for lunch.  Specifically, Char Siu Pork, cooked in the crock pot.  Chinese Barbecue Pork.  Savory and slightly sweet.  It's the same recipe as the little bits of sweet pork you get in Pork Fried Rice.  The sauces take a little time to make but they can be made ahead of time, and the pork should really marinade overnight, but it isn't required.

I started out to the kitchen.  I heard the thump of a tail hitting the plastic of the crate.  Four feed padded almost silently into the kitchen and stopped.   I had company.  I was having twin brown eyes staring at me, turning into lasers to burn holes through my resolve not to feed, and my heart.

I'm a soft touch.  I admit it.

I started to make the first sauce.  Hoisin sauce.  It's a sweet garlic sauce.  Dark and deep brown, it's used in a lot of Asian Cuisine.  It is also quite expensive at the stores, so I found a killer recipe to make the stuff

Reaching into the fridge for the Soy Sauce, even Oscar the Parrot got involved.  "HELLO!".

No, you silly bird, you don't want any of that!

I did wander back, stepping around the speed bump that is Rack, and opened up Oscar's cage.  In reality, Oscar just wanted some Out Time.

Coming back into the kitchen, I stepped around the black and white cookie that was my dog, the canine Speed Bump, and got the honey out of the cupboard.

See a trend?  This repeated for each of the ingredients for the Hoisin sauce.  While the hoisin sauce is excellent on its own for recipes, I wanted Char Siu.  The spices were different. 

Rack was still staring.  I went to put the peanut butter away.  Rack's ears perked. 

"Show me what you want, boy?"

Rack stared at the peanut butter jar. 

"Oh here you go" I gave him a little peanut butter on the tip of the butter knife and went back to making sauces.

Tossing the Hoisin into the crock pot, I added the other spices to the mix to change it to Char Siu. 

Normally, this step of making the sauces and marinades takes about 10 minutes to complete.  20 with help from my Rack.

All that stepping around the furry speed bump would slow me down.

I got my sauce done with the addition of the last bit of honey and sesame oil and stirred it in the crock pot with a whisk. 

Rack was still staring.

I grabbed the pork that was on the counter and slid it into the crock pot.

At this point, Rack went into overdrive. 

"No, Rack, it has onions, you can't have any".

A McNab Dog, like my Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) is an amazing creature.  If you have never experienced it, you have to take my word for it.  You speak in English, he learns abstract concepts.  I told him before that "Onions will kill you, you can't have any" and any time he hears onions, he stops begging.  Like a light switch. 

Yeah, that smart.  Freaky smart.  I am waiting for him to pick up on the Spanish I am trying to learn.

Donde esta los calcitines?  Los Calcitines es aqui, en sus pies.

(or something like that.)

He left the kitchen at this point.  Went out to the front room, sniffing around clearing the floor of Oscar's food, wandering around the house in a Perimeter Search, and made himself scarce.

He understands Onions.  Smart boy.

I still had another bit of work to do clearing out all the spices and wiping up the counter.  He decided it was no longer time to beg.

So, being a soft touch has its benefits.  I get company of the best sort in the Kitchen.  Rack doesn't demand much, although he does beg for food.  I don't get told that I put too much onion in the sauce, or I'm overcooking something, or I need to add something to thicken the barbecue sauce instead of reducing it. 

I've heard all that before.  Too many cooks spoil the broth and get growled at by the Chef anyway.

But Dog, go eat your own food without any back talk first, OK? 

It's almost as hard as getting me to eat Olives. 

No.  I won't do it.  I'll call out for Pizza first!  Even crappy frozen pizza before olives.