Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Anisette Cookies for Pat's Birthday

It is Saturday when I write this.

I've been up all morning and into the afternoon baking.

You see, this is a family tradition that some good friends have had the pleasure to enjoy.  For years instead of buying something that will end up in a landfill or forgotten in a drawer, I have been baking gifts for friends and family.

This one baking stint isn't over yet, I've got more to do tomorrow.

I was going to make Fudge, but this isn't winter and it would be a mess by the time it made it to New Jersey.

So I baked the Coconut Cookies from this blog.  It makes 24 1 ounce cookies, and I am keeping 6 here for myself.  I'll have those at work.

There's more to bake tomorrow, and it won't be a surprise that it will be my own chocolate chip pecan cookies.  No, this recipe I won't share, and there are plenty recipes similar out there.   Try the internet cookie recipe it is based off of that but I have tweaked it to make it my own.

But I did get to wanting some Anisette Cookies, like when I was a wee brat.  Mom would bring these home often enough that I got to think of them as something everyone had.  Nope.

This recipe is quite similar in taste.  I will be adding a little extra Anise Extract since I enjoy a strong licorice flavor from time to time.  The taste in this recipe is "Authentic" instead of being a "Kick in the pants".  If you came from an Italian family, this is familiar.

First the ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup butter, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 -3 tablespoons milk

Now the Process:

  • Wet ingredients - to a stand mixer, cream your butter.  
  • Add the sugar and the eggs.  
  • Finally add the Anise Extract.
  • Hold back the milk at this time!
  • All ingredients are to be added one at a time, as things incorporate.
  • Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl sifting them together.  Using a sifter isn't absolutely necessary, I just tossed it in the stand mixer with all the wet stuff while it was running but you could use a fork in a big bowl if you chose to.
  • Trust me it isn't fussy.

  • Finally, the milk is to be added to the stand mixer one tablespoon at a time.  The ending dough will be soft and pliable, but not sticky.  Think of that play-doh you had as a kid - Modeling Clay.

  • To Bake:  The resulting cookies will double in size and be rather soft inside like cake.
  • Spoon out 1 level tablespoon amounts into balls on Parchment Paper spaced evenly.  
  • I got 15 cookies per "regular sized" cookie sheet, and really they don't get all that big.
  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C. 
  • Bake the Cookies for 10 to 12 or so minutes - they will NOT get golden brown except on the bottom.
  • The resulting cookies will be soft. 
Oh, and, Sorry Pat, you're only getting about 1/2 of these.  They were GOOD!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Three Men Arrive At The Pearly Gates

Three men arrive at the Pearly Gates and are greeted by St. Peter.

St. Peter: "I'm sorry gentlemen, but we only have enough room in Heaven for one more person. The one who died the most tragic death may enter."
St. Peter nods to the first man.

Man 1: "I've been suspecting that my wife has been cheating on me for a few months. So I come home early from work one day to try to catch her in the act. When I looked around the only person I found was her in the shower. I'm relieved until I see someone hanging from my balcony. I go outside and stomp on his hands and he lets go but the bush below him breaks his fall and survived. Enraged, I went into my kitchen and pushed my refrigerator over the balcony, finishing the job. I was so ridden with guilt, I went inside and shot myself."

St. Peter nods to the second man.
Man 2: "I just moved into my new apartment and was getting settled in when I went to my balcony and accidentally fell over. I fell two stories before catching onto someone elses balcony then some idiot came out and started stomping on my hands until I let go. Luckily the bush below me broke my fall but the next thing that I saw was a refigerator falling on top of me."

St. Peter nodded to the third man.
Man 3: "Okay Pete. I want you to imagine yourself hiding naked in a refigerator..."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Three Women Break Out Of Prison

..a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead.

They hear the marshal and his men coming so they duck into a near by potato barn.

They find three potato sacks and jump in covering themselves from head to toe.

The marshal sends his deputy into the potato barn to check it out. The deputy sees the three sacks looking out of place, so he steps up to the sack with the redhead and kicks it.
"Woof." says the redhead.

"Just a dog in there." says the not to bright deputy. He kicks the sack with the brunette.
"Meow." purrs the brunette.

"Just a cat." says the deputy. He kicks the sack with the blonde in it.

Nothing happens.

He gives it another kick.
"Potato" says the blonde.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Birthday Pat

Happy Birthday, Pat.

By today, you will ggt The Box.

You know, that box I was talking about last week.

Three kinds of cookies, and maybe more.  Depends on whether I found anything else to toss in there.  Everything was baked by hand.

We've been doing this for years, the back and forth of boxes of goodies.

The day itself?

Well here's what went down that Saturday.

I got up late, and since I was half asleep from taking Melatonin to sleep, I was groggy.  A double mug of full Real Coffee.  You know, that bag of beans you see?  Guatemalan Estate Grown Antigua Huehuetenango roasted to just before Second Crack.

What that gibberish means is that it's a Medium Roast, full flavored and complex.  The bitter has been roasted out.  A Central American Coffee is never to be roasted dark, it kills the flavor.

Anyway, it's all for you, on your day.  Or about a week before your day.

We've been in the house working on furniture, playing Bollywood music and having a great time listening to bouncy stuff we couldn't actually understand.  Good day for it.  Saturday.  Almost dinner time at this point, there has been so much to do.

The last of the coffee will be roasted soon and bagged for the trip.

Oh coffee.  There is a rule of Fifteens:

15 minutes Ground.
15 days Roasted.
15 months Green.

Grind the beans and brew within 15 minutes for peak flavor,
Roast the beans and grind within 15 days for peak flavor,
15 months to roast the Green Beans.

or something like that.  So don't save it, after all The Holidays are coming, and there is bound to be more.

Happy Birthday Pat!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Omnivorous Monkey

A guy walks into a bar with his pet monkey.

He orders a drink and while he's drinking, the monkey jumps all around the place.

The monkey grabs some olives off the bar and eats them, then grabs some sliced limes and eats them, then jumps onto the pool table, grabs one of the billiard balls, sticks it in his mouth, and to everyone's amazement, somehow he swallows it whole.

The bartender screams at the guy, "Did you see what your monkey just did?"
The guy says "No, what?"

"He just ate the cue ball off my pool table whole!"
"Yeah, that doesn't surprise me," replied the guy, "He eats everything in sight, the little pig. Sorry. I'll pay for the cue ball and stuff. " He finishes his drink, pays his bill, pays for the stuff the monkey ate, then leaves.

Two weeks later he's in the bar again, and has his monkey with him.

He orders a drink and the monkey starts running around the bar again.

While the man is finishing his drink, the monkey finds a maraschino cherry on the bar. He grabs it, sticks it up his butt, pulls it out, and eats it. Then the monkey finds a peanut, and again sticks it up his butt, pulls it out, and eats it.

The bartender is disgusted. "Did you see what your monkey did now?" he asks.
"No, what?" replies the guy. "Well, he stuck a maraschino cherry and a peanut up his butt, pulled it out, and ate it!" said the bartender.

"Yeah, that doesn't surprise me," replied the guy. "He still eats everything in sight, but ever since he had to pass that cue ball, he measures everything first."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

So, A Scotsman Gets Drunk

....And falls asleep outside the pub he was drinking at.

Well in the morning two English lasses happen by and see the Scot in the gutter and the first lass says to the second, "Mary, shall we see if it's true what they say about the Scots?"

So they pull his kilt up and sure as the sun rises, he's naked as the day he was born.

Well both lasses are taken aback but the first recovers quicker and says to the other, "Mary, we've seen it, now we must leave our mark. Take the blue ribbon out of your hair and tie it around his, ahem, "parts," and we'll be on our way."

So they tie the blue ribbon around his, "ahem 'parts,'" and continue on their way.

A few hours later the Scotsman comes to.

He wakes and stretches and then stops suddenly.

He looks around and seeing no one, lifts his kilt and is stunned.

Looking down at his nether region, he says amazed, "Well, I donnae ken where we were or what we were doin', but I sure am glad ye took first place!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ok, Folks, Here Is Where I Go Off Daily Postings

Yep, you read it right.

If you noticed, I tended for a very long time to post here at 10AM.

That changed to "before" 10AM, whenever I got to "releasing" it onto the blog and Facebook.

Then lately it has been early, 7AM.


Life got busy.  Very busy.  My consulting got formal.  I have a learning curve that I am deeply embedded in that I need to concentrate in.

Like a student in exam time, I have to give myself the option to skip postings if I need the time.

If I'm getting home after 7PM some nights, and up at 5AM, it leaves little time to sit down and write.

Now, truthfully, I could be briefer, I could write three in a row on a Sunday, and I could find more jokes.

Jokes are easy, just find one, clean out the dirty words, and post them.

But that isn't me.

So when I come up with something that I feel is important, I'll write about it.

There are a few more jokes on the weekends through October, and I'll try to put at least one article up here a week, but I need a break.

I'm sure some will not care, others may care deeply, and still more will say "meh".

After all, there are a bazillion blogs out there that started, ran their course, and ended.   Mine had a good run, five years and a little more than 2200 posts.

But I have to take a breather.

 For Now.

I would rather step away than put hack postings here.  I'm way too goal oriented for that sort of thing.

So for now, Keep an eye out.  After all there may be a reason for me to bend an ear!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

2203 Posts? Yep, it kept ticking for six years

This blog.  It's been a part of me for six years. 

I had to actually go back and check.  Gees, since July 30, 2009. 

I started it with a hello world post.  Everyone seems to.  You find your way back to it if you are interested.

I actually found that I enjoy writing.  I do get wordy, some of these posts are over 1200 words.  Almost all of them are off the top of my head.

Things got slower after a while.  You know, that New Blog Smell wore off.  I was writing about things that happened here in Wilton Manors, and the City Government scene.  I had to stop going to the commission meetings after a while, they were going well into the night and frankly I fall asleep at 10pm on a late night.  Doing that in the commission chambers when the meeting ended at 11pm would be sending the wrong message.

And I am actually quite in awe of the job that the commissioners do here, on average.  If you pay attention to your own city government, you'll find a few rotten apples here and there and a couple decisions you can't stand.

No comment there about specifics.

But since this is an "Anniversary Post" for the 2200th posting that happened over the weekend, I figured I'd do the old school Top Ten List of all times.  Since everyone seems to hit the same postings over and again, why not?

So from the most popular post to the 10th most popular post, here it is.

Most popular post:  The Gold Medal Flour Biscuit Recipe.  Trust me, this is an excellent recipe, I use it all the time when I want to show off.  If I really want to show off, I make home churned butter by putting the cream in the food processor and running it for 5 minutes or until I have butter and buttermilk in there.  Works like a champ!

#2:  Two Cycle Engine Repair - I replaced a primer bulb on a weedeater and apparently I did a good job of it since I still use the machine, 4 years later.

#3:  Simply Hired and the User Experience -The website is not one of my favorites, and I wrote why and showed why they need to change.  They did incorporate a few changes of mine, and continue to change.

#4:  Puns and One Liner Weekend - A List of puns.  I really debated long and hard about posting Jokes here.  Then I realized that people actually enjoy the silly things and this blog gets hit heavily for them.

#5: GFS Marketplace Review - GFS Is a Wholesale marketer of foods and restaurant supplies.  They also sell directly to the public.  I'm quite happy with the store, but their coupons truly annoy me.  The software that they use to create the coupons, on your PC, require that software be installed.  Since nobody has told me what that does on my machine, I can't say I trust the software.  BUT the place is really quite good, and the staff is friendly.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10:

#6:  An Impatiens Flower Picture - This variety is no longer sold and went extinct.  Impatiens are now larger.

#7:  Jewfish Creek Bridge Picture - The view you get when you enter the Florida Keys.  This is what I think of as the "border" although I may not be technically correct.

#8: Canning 1, Pineapple 0 - Although I am a good cook, sometimes my recipies don't work!

#9:  Hotmail Annoyance: Turning off Hotmail's former interface behavior of hotkeys.  I hated hotmail, and I hatie Outlook so much more.  Microsoft has turned evil since Ballmer left.  I can't believe I am saying nice things about Ballmer since he was the punchline to a joke but there you have it.


#10: Sister Mary Ann's Gasoline - Yes, another joke.  Apparently loads of folks liked her story!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Redundant Double Rainbow in Wilton Manors

Sure, a rainbow.

Over Wilton Manors.

Not One but Two.

So that makes it a Redundant Double Rainbow?

We've gotten quite a lot of rain lately.  It's the wet season so you have to expect that.

It's just one of those things, and that's fine.

Here in Wilton Manors, we're in the Rain Shadow of downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Storms will split and reform just away from us.  The west side of town gets more rain than the center or east side.  This is all in a city that is one mile from North to South, 3 miles from East to West.   Not the biggest place on the planet.

I've seen storms that turned the skies into night, the lightning and thunder making a loud racket that threatened to shake the house apart, and

Nothing.  Not a drop.

But that's Florida Weather for you.  Your neighbor could have a downpour and you're dry.  The pool out back is getting rain but your car is dusty in the driveway out front.

We were out at the 5pm walk the other day and a storm had just come through.  Brilliant sunshine.  I guess there was a little leftover rain on the east side of town because the sun was at our backs and setting.  Perfect conditions.

Not one but two rainbows.  Redundant.   I'm amused.

So we got some rain.  No big deal, it's one of those things here.  Typically if it rains, wait 20 minutes, it will change.  Makes painting things a little tricky this time of year but that's what winter is for.  You go out with paint brush in hand in shorts and sunshine in January, paint what you need to paint and come inside to clean up.  No rain or rainbows then either.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Visiting A Barber

A man enters a barber shop for a shave.

While the barber is foaming him up, he mentions the problems he has getting a close shave around the cheeks.

"I have just the thing," says the barber taking a small wooden ball from a nearby drawer. "Just place this between your cheek and gum."

The client places the ball in his mouth and the barber proceeds with the closest shave the man has ever experienced.

After a few strokes the client asks in garbled speech.
"And what if I swallow it?"

"No problem," says the barber. "Just bring it back tomorrow like everyone else does."

Saturday, September 12, 2015

An American On The Beach On The French Rivera

...enjoying all the topless European women sunbathing. As he walks, he becomes annoyed, noticing that several of the women giggle as he passes by.

The American steps into a store to buy a water and the French shopkeeper sees his annoyance and asks, "Monsieur, why 'av you zis look on your face?"

After explaining to the Frenchman about the giggling women, the shopkeeper replies, "Ahh monsieur! French ladies are not used to seeing such long American shorts. You must wear zee speedo! Zen you will not look so silly."

So the dude buys a speedo and walks down the beach a second time. Now the ladies are pointing at the American and clearly laughing at him. Pissed off at the ridicule, he returns to the French shopkeeper who stifles his own laughter. "Hey Frenchy! I got this speedo like you said, and now the women are outright laughing at me! What. The. Hell?!"

The Frenchman explains, "Ahhh Monsieur zee Frenchmen always place a pomme de terre...uhhh.. a potato in ze speedo. Zen you will become far more appealing to zem all!"

Seemed to make sense to him, so the American buys a single potato and arranges it in his speedo.

Now he struts down the beach with confidence but is instantly ridiculed by everyone on the beach!

They were laughing their asses off, pointing at him, even snapping pictures of him!

The American breaks into a sprint straight to the shopkeeper. "Dude! WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!! I'm a laughingstock!"

The laughing Frenchman replies, "ah but Monsieur! You must put ze potato in ze FRONT of ze trunks!"

Friday, September 11, 2015


It is September 11, 2015.

If you would like to explore the National September 11th Memorial Site for the Museum in New York, the link is here.

The 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony will be held in New York at 8:40 AM.  The link for the webcast for the event can be found at this page on the Museum site.

If you would like something perhaps a little more uplifting, the last remaining rescue dog is being given a Dream Day.

Yes, it has been 14 years.  It doesn't mean we need to forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Two Roses By The Fence

I just wanted to send someone some roses.

No real reason.

Other than they're by my fence and looked rather nice up against the background of the wood and the purple ruellia.

I've had rose bushes in my yard for each of the houses I've owned.  I will let you in on a secret, I have no idea what to do with the things.

You see, they grow in an area and you have to create a "safe zone" around them.  Then if you get too close, they get all nasty and bite you.

But what happens is they require care and some shaping.

I'm trying to train mine.  The plant, and it is only one, ended up getting to about 8 feet tall.  I started cutting the plant back and now it's about 6 feet tall, eye level.

Ok, Eye Level for me.  For you, well, your mileage may vary.

Pretty things though.

So if you have a rose plant in the yard and can't figure out what to do with it, do what I do.  Take a picture, then snip the roses off and put them in a little vase by the kitchen window.  You'll have something to look at while you're working in there.

It's not all snakes and lizards here in South Florida.  Sometimes you get flowers.  After all, the place is named after them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Welcome To Florida. We Have Snakes In Bougainvillea.

Yeah.  I didn't expect this.

Then again, why not?

I have watched my fair share of nature documentaries.  I have probably watched enough for your fair share of nature documentaries.

I simply did not expect this.

But I will say I did what I'd expect of anyone else.   I took a few pictures, then walked away.  

No, I won't whack a snake like in the BC Comics.  I'm no caveman.  I think these Black Racer Snakes are actually beneficial, and I know they are not poisonous. 

I did need a reality check about pulling weeds though.  

Yes, whack your weeds first.  Then pull them.   The critters will move away unharmed. 

That includes Black Racer Snakes.

I walked out my back door for this little wildlife encounter this particular morning.  I take Rack out after I have my breakfast so he can water some trees.

Usually my big palm tree behind my bedroom window.

Behind the bedroom window there is a post with a struggling bougainvillea.  Since you can root bougainvillea with a thumb sized piece of branch with a few leaves on it that were carelessly dropped in your pots that are watered regularly, there is no reason why this plant should struggle. 

That is neither here nor there.  The Spanish Moss I threw into the thing a couple years ago was so thick that it looked like a herd of ZZ Top impersonators had left their fake beards in the thing and walked away.  I tore out a full trash can of the moss one afternoon on a whim, and it's growing back happily.

It also made a great place for this little snake to warm in the sun.  It was just high enough to catch the early rays as the sun came up over the Bahamas, so there it parked.

I just didn't expect it.  I should have.  This is the place where the waters are beautiful and run slowly to the sea but you should never swim in them because an alligator will eat you.  If not an alligator, we have ball pythons, and I have heard of piranhas from time to time, although that could be an urban legend.

So, if you're going to the yard to do a little weeding, get a bamboo pole.  Whack the ground a few times.  The creatures will move on their way. 

It's also why Code Enforcement will cite you if you let your grass grow too long.  There be snakes in these woods!

On the other hand, this video will prove that they're not poisonous.  At least they aren't to a 12 year old girl.  I'm not a 12 year old girl, so my recommendation is for you to let them be where they are. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

On A Good Day, They're Still A Dog. How Rack Is Afraid of Buddha

I used to take trips with my dog, Lettie.  She was what we call a "Mostly Mc Nab".  Part McNab Dog, Part Border Collie.  She would curl up on the seat of the car and mind her own business until she thought there was something that needed attention.  Snap my fingers, there she was.

My own philosophy of training a dog is not to treat them like a human, but expect more of them than a dog.  In otherwords: complex behaviors yes, "Sit Up And Beg" no.

One trip from Philadelphia to Florida, Lettie was with me.  She was riding in the Jeep, sometimes top down, sometimes not.  We hit a shower with the roof down and she just looked up at me, judged me silently, and curled back into a DogBall with her tail over her face as if to say "Hey, stupid, pull over and put the roof up!".

We pulled into the rest stop.  I got the roof up in the drizzle that was now ending, and she hopped out of the car.  I wasn't too worried, she knew what she wanted.  The light pole at the end of the parking space was calling her.  I left the door open, she climbed up and went back to dog ball.

Next to me was a police cruiser.  I closed the door to the car, and the officer got out with his dog.  There was that same bond that I had with my Lettie.  You just seem to fit together, hand and glove.  We talked about that sort of training and he made his comment.  There are days when dogs don't get it right because "On a good day, they're still a dog".

Just don't expect too much.

On the beach we arrived.  I'd take her out for her march around town.  There was an apartment building there that was rather close to the walkway.  In front of the walkway was a concrete Lion.

Lettie got it wrong.  Fur went up.  Teeth bared.  She started barking at the ornament.  That thing didn't belong.  I stopped her, got her calmed down, even showed her what she did.  The rest of the walk she acted much more toned down, even submissive, if an Alpha Dog could ever be submissive.

I was thinking about that the other night.  Rack has the same knife edged sharp intelligence as Lettie did.  He's a pure-blooded McNab Dog.  At least we think he is because he looks like the textbook and acts like one.  We'll never know because he's a rescue.

He takes notice of things around town.  He knows where the restaurant is that they come out and fuss over him with cookies, and he knows where the ice cream shop is that he can go to socialize from time to time.  He's learning which local dogs to avoid, and which businesses have an out of control yapper inside that will lunge at the door.

If your dog lunges out of control, you are not the boss, your dog is.  Train the dog.  You will both be happier.

It usually has those abstracts that all look roughly the same, smudges of color meant to look nice and inoffensive.  You might expect to see that sort of thing in a corridor somewhere.  I don't really pay the gallery all that much attention.

All of the sudden Rack starts barking like crazy.  Something was out of place.  I looked at him and he was barking at the door.

There was someone looking back at him.  Buddha.

Sitting on a small table by the door was a concrete or resin statuary of Buddha.  About the size of a small child, it sat there serenely watching things go by.  The Thai art tradition, it had a head dress on it and a card next to it announcing the gallery's services.

Rack did not like this at all.  It was out of place, and it threatened him by looking back at him.

Rack, stop.
"Grrr, WOO WOO Grrr"

He slowed down to a slow grumble.  His normal fearful self came out.  Leaning about 45 degrees to the ground on his purple leash, the fur on his back was standing as close to straight up as you could get.

It's OK, boy, lets go.

He scrabbled an arc away from Buddha and we went on his way.

Yep.  On his best day, he's still a dog.   We'll have to work on that one.  I bet next time he will become one with the Buddha and approach enlightenment that the statue shall not harm him.

I hope he will.  Silly dog.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Happy Labor Day

It's a quiet morning here.

It is (looking at the watch) just before 6:30AM.  Labor Day, Monday September 7, 2015.

Yep, I am writing this off the top of my head.  No rants, no copy and paste this time, baby.

I've been up for an hour and a half now.  Have been thinking about what to write here for Labor Day, and realized "been there, done that".   It is a day set aside to remember the American Worker and the modern labor movement

Yes, those folks who literally fought and died for the ability to have Saturday and Sunday off, and work a 40 hour week.

Who works a 40 hour week these days anyway?  You're either home at night staring into a laptop finishing things off for tomorrow, or you're one of the unfortunates who is working one or more part time jobs to make ends meet.

I salute you.

In my own case, I'm writing this at this oddball hour, an hour before sunrise because I have somewhere to go.  Got an interview today.  Who knows how it will go, it's a fascinating position and fits in well with my own career "portfolio".

But it is Labor Day.  So while you're having that party in the backyard or the neighbor's back yard or wherever, think about how it came to pass.

Oh, if you are having burgers, I'll take mine medium rare.  Just "Meat, Heat, and Eat" - none of that seasoned crap or salt on the meat.  A good slice of extra sharp cheddar, some of those bread and butter pickle chips, maybe a bit of fries on the side ...

Since I live in Florida, I can get away with wearing white After Labor Day.  Up there, who knows what you can get away with now!  Too bad I didn't iron those Off-White chinos I have in the closet.

Enjoy your day no matter what you do!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Doctor Posts An Ad In The Paper

So... this Doctor posts an ad saying "I can cure any disease for $500. If I can't cure you, you get $1000."

So this fellow who is looking to make a quick buck figures, what the hell. Looking on the internet for a disease with no cure, he finds -Tastoritis- the inability to taste any food.

"Doc," he says, walking into the office. "I have tastoritis... no cure. I can't taste anything."

The doctor says "Hmmm. I've heard of this and I've heard of some new research." Nervous, the fellow says "Yeah?" "Yeah. Nurse, get bottle 22 down from the shelf."

Pouring a big spoonful, the nurse says, "Open up."
The man opens his mouth and takes a huge mouthful. "PTTHHth" spitting it everywhere. "That's Gasoline!"
"That'll be $500." Going home, $500 the lighter, our pissed off patient decides to give it another shot.

-Cuncussive Amnesa- After a hit on the head, no memory what so ever. "Doc, I have cuncussive amnesia. No memory, what so ever."
"Hmmm," says the doctor. "I've heard of this. And I've also heard of some new research." Uh oh. Thinks our patient, but says "Yeah?"

"Yeah. Nurse, get down bottle number 22."
"Hell No!" says the patient, "That's Gasoline!"
"That will be $500"

Now down $1000, our patient is determined. -Blindness- Can't see a thing. (Hey, there's no cure for blindness. I'll get him)

"Doc, I'm blind. I can't see anything."
"Hmmm." says the Doctor. "I've heard of this. I've also heard of some new research."

Our patient, nervous, though determined, I'll drink a mouthful of gasoline, if it means getting back my $1000. "Nurse, get bottle 22 down from the shelf."

Pouring a big spoonful, the nurse says "Open up!"
Drinking down the gasoline, our patient winces, near gagging, but keeps up the act.

"Anything?" asks the Doctor. "Nope. Still blind."

The Doctor turns to the nurse.  "Well, we better write this man a check for $1000."
The nurse writes the man the check and upon receiving it, he turns toward the door with a smile on his face. "Wait a minute," he says... "This check says $10!"

"That will be $500"

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Doctor, I Think My Wife Has A Hearing Problem

A man goes to the doctor and says, "Doctor, I think my wife has a hearing problem. She doesn't seem to hear what ever I tell her."

The doctor replies, "Oh, is that so? Well, let me try to help you. Just try this method when you get home today. Stand around 50 feet from her and ask her something. If she doesn't hear it, reduce the gap by 10 feet and so on till she can hear what you say."

The man satisfied with the reply, hurries home to try this little technique. He stands around 50 feet away from her, and shouts, "Hey honey, what's for dinner today?"

He gets no response, so he moves closer and repeats the same question four more times till he's right next to her.

He asks the same question again and she says, "For heaven's sake, this is the fifth time I'm telling you, it's just fruit salad tonight!"

Friday, September 4, 2015

I Think I Sold A Jeep

I have been driving Jeeps since 1996.  Real Jeeps.  Jeep Wranglers.  None of that cushy living room sofa giant beast crap out there that you suburban types like so much.

Sure, they're a bit on the simple side, even crude.  I can see the sheet metal that makes up the part that we call The Bucket when I sit down in it.  That is by design.  It doesn't need extra frills like layers of plastic to muffle the noises and make things all "pretty".

Plastic is optional, it will just break anyhow.

It is as simple as you can get for a car.  At least it was.  Mine is a 13 year old Jeep Wrangler TJ4 Liter Inline Six Motor designed by AMC.  That motor could be called the last gasp of AMC before it was bought by Chrysler.  Chrysler knew a good thing and kept it in production until 2006 when they went with a V6 that is slightly smaller.  It's predecessors date back to the early 1960s, so you know it was a keeper.  Pushrods and all that sort of mechanical "stuff" made for a tough motor that really didn't need a lot of electronics to keep it going.

I'll keep my straight six, thank you very much.

I had a repair to do to it because, Jeep.  You see Jeeps have the reputation of being tough but they also have a problem with their electronic controls.  You get a check engine light that comes on around 40,000 miles and people scratch their heads and say "It's a Jeep" and walk away.  Meanwhile that light stays on and you're annoyed.

No.  I don't.

Thanks to my buddy Craig who gave me his old code reader, I was able to find out that the throttle body sensor wore out.  I replaced it in my driveway.  The only grief was the mosquito bite I got while bent over the hood. 

No codes, no lights.  Happy Jeep, Happy Jeeper.

We noticed that there was a Jeep sitting in a driveway a block or three from the house on our dog walk.  Someone was putting it out to pasture... or rather selling it.  Good price too, 8900 for a Wrangler that was newer than mine.  Of course mine is Cherry and in Good To Excellent Condition With Low Mileage (45K) but that's a different story.

Or Brag...

I don't think they'll miss that Jeep.  There was a Black TJ sitting next to it all lifted and chromed and basically pimped out.  So there's still a Jeep "In the family" for when they want to go ride.

I saw it, and wondered how long it would take to sell it.  One day it was gone.   I thought it was sold. 

I walked past the property and up to the park when I saw that Jeep making a very tight turn.  Too tight, the wheels rubbed with a "VRRRRT!" sound.

If you put too tall a tire on a Jeep, they will rub.  You can fix that by loosening a bolt. 

That was exactly what I told the woman who was going to buy it:

"Hey, you're rubbin'!"
"Oh you heard that?  I don't know..."
"It's easy to fix!  Just a bolt!"

I went into my Jeep Guy Geekery full on at that point.  Showed the woman then and there which bolt and told her to look online for my blog.  "I did the same thing.  Put 31s on mine and took all sorts of pictures to show you what to do.  It's a 15 minute fix if you rush, 5 minutes if you take your time!"

I told her to keep an eye out for the AC Controls since the resistor pack burns out.  You can fix those too, but they're annoying to get to.

I'm on my third one.  They usually last about 20,000 miles if you keep it on 3 instead of 4 like I always did.  4 is just too damn loud but you don't hear it once you're over 55MPH anyway.   Soft tops are loud, no way around that.

She smiled and thanked me over and over and took off with a quick chirp of the back wheels.

New learner to a stick.  You need a stick, at least once in your life.  A stick shift gives you a healthy respect for what your car does.  Much more of a primal feel instead of the numb computer-room feel of an automatic transmission, especially one of those new Continuously Variable Transmission.   Those things turn your motor into a constant drone that gets wearing after a few minutes.  The motor runs at peak torque the entire time and never changes.  Monotonous.

I went on my way.  Never saw her or the Jeep again.  The motor sounded like silk so she got a good one.

I know I did.  You see, I went in for an overdue oil change the other day.  The man behind the counter hinted strongly that he wanted to buy my car.

Nope!  I don't want a computer room on wheels.  I'll stick with my car.

"You know, I understand I can get classic plates for it now.  How about THAT!"

I left with an oil change and a new air filter and a big ol' smile on my face.  If that car doesn't make you happy every time you get in it, why have it?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Learning Spanish From The Big Green Chair

When my nephew was a toddler, say about 2 years old, I had a surprise.  One weekend I came to visit and he sat down with a book and started reading.  I asked my sister and she told me that he memorized the book, and he still can't read.

I'm rather a bit past that with Spanish now.

I don't skip over the Spanish Stations on the radio when channel surfing.  I have noticed that "Love Songs" are becoming more clear to me and I can actually follow them along ... somewhat.  I can watch kids TV and follow the discussion and actually get the jokes most of the times.

I mean, after all, we're talking kid's shows.  Plaza Sesamo and Franny and her demented feet.  At least in what I jokingly call "Native Spanish".  Franny is a Canadian Production and the first time I heard it in English, they all had bad British accents.  It sounds better in Spanish to me.

I challenge myself with the animal documentaries because of the slower pace of the dialogue.  I have always enjoyed documentaries, even when I was a wee brat.  Watching a documentary on the forests of Madagascar in English is something I'd do normally, let alone En Espanol.

Sorry, I don't have the "enya" key.  You know, English Speakers, the n with the funny squiggle over top.  Oh, and the accents En Espanol mean something.  I never figured them out in French, but in Spanish it is a "stress" mark.  You stress that syllable.  Very logical system of spelling, everything means something, and it has been rationalized and normalized to be predictable.  Unlike English where Ghoti could be pronounced as Fish.

I've heard people do this all the time.  When learning a language, they will seek out media of that language, and pay attention to it.  Many people have said that they watched Telenovelas to learn Spanish, Cartoons for English, and so on.  I'm doing nothing new here.  I am certainly not splitting the atom.

Although, when I'm sitting in bed listening to the shortwave radio at night, and I find myself listening to a broadcast, I'm not exactly expecting to be switching back and forth between Radio Marti and Radio Reloj.  That particular programming shift is about as broad a shift as you can get, other than perhaps switching back and forth between South Korean and North Korean broadcasting.

They are, however, very easy to find here in South Florida.

Specifically, Radio Marti is the US Government's programming that is "designed" for Cuba.  I suspect it has an intended effect of being designed as a knock on effect for Venezuela.  Whether it is effective or not, I will let others decide.

Radio Reloj is literally "Clock Radio".  It's out of Havana, Cuba, and I can hear it here on the AM radio even if I don't try too hard.  Being a Cuban National Broadcast, it's probably as balanced as any Cuban broadcast, which is to say about as balanced as Fox News or Radio Marti.

I'm listening to things specifically to learn the language, not for "information".  I will say both services are less "shouty" and "strident" than they had been in the Cold War.

For the most part, it's better to stick to Plaza Sesamo, Franny and her weird feet, and the documentaries.  Political Intrigue and Propaganda are a bit much when your level of comprehension is about 1/2 the way there.

More importantly though, it does one interesting thing.  It opens up a whole new world. Actually a continent and about a half, but it does open it all up.

If my learning methods are up to the task, that is.  After all, if you can't learn Spanish in South Florida, you can't learn Spanish anywhere.

So turn on the TV, turn on the closed captioning, and put on some kid's programming.  The Closed Captioning make it much easier to grasp since you are reading at the same time as hearing the words.  The simplified sentence structure and subject matter will help as well since there are fewer Big Words.

I'll try to remember to leave the politics behind.  After all, I'm not quite ready for that, although a nice documentary about a lizard habitat would be rather enjoyable today.

But if you are considering learning another language, and are just starting out, try and pick your language.  The simple lessons get gradually more complex, and you can set your goals as low or as complex as you like. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dumpster Diving For Caulk Brands

I am sure this isn't the weirdest thing I have done.

It's certainly a bit unusual.

There is of course a point.

You see I went dumpster diving.  I came up with these two tubes of caulk and brought them in to the house.

They're empty, you couldn't caulk a thing with them.

Why I got them was because of a recommendation I needed.

I'm excellent with patching things up.  Spackle/Caulk/Paint.  The simple sort of repairs that you get around to eventually when they annoy you enough to do so. 

The hardest part of that particular job is getting all the products that you need for the job.  Use the wrong kind of caulk on a wall and you will come back to it later because it fell apart.

I'm going through that in my bathroom.  My own repairs from a year ago are holding up beautifully but the plaster AROUND my patches is falling apart.  When it was patched Back In The Day before we got the house, they used crappy patch.  It's melting away due to the humidity in the bathroom.  Since this is Florida and the humidity on a dry day starts around that of a wet sponge and falls to about 75% outside, we have to aggressively keep the house dry.  That means Air Conditioning.  We cool the place to 78F, 24 or 25C during the day depending on whether I was outside playing landscaper or if I am sitting under the ceiling fan.

In comparison, I have been told that a British House is heated to 60F/10C during the winters.


It's all what you are used to.

But that caulk.  Use the wrong caulk outside and it will either never "cure" (thicken and harden to do its job) or it will simply shrink and shrivel away in a year.  Since the house is made with Concrete Block Walls and covered in Stucco and some Broward County Paint, it needs to be maintained.

Broward County, Florida has some specific colors of paint that you can get from the county to paint the house at free or discounted rates.  Or Had.  I'm not sure.  Personally I rather think that if we didn't have ground water irrigation, I'd have this place in Zinc Oxide White with blue trim.  A bit of the Greek Isles shining in the sun. 

With Rust Colored accents.  Never mind.

But that maintenance needs the patches and the right brands. 

When the Window Guys rolled to a stop here, I went out and looked at what they were using to finish the job.  So I stuck my head inside my big blue trash can in the yard, dragged out the empty caulk tubes, and asked the window guys to explain the caulk they used.  A window is bolted into place with thick blue screws, then caulked, then the trim is put in place and stained.  Hopefully it's all "square" but since this house isn't, neither are the windows.

But that caulk.  I wanted to make sure that I got The Right Stuff.  Three years ago I caulked the tub using a backing bar and it's holding but since there is such a large gap, it needs touch up.  There are some random cracks in the wall that I can fix, and a few weird spots here and there.

Then there's that disintegrating plaster.

Since some of that is outdoors, I need to know what to use.

Indoor caulk is typically water soluble until cured.  Makes it nice and easy to clean up when finished.   Outdoor is oil based and a major hassle to clean, but you won't be bothering that caulk for a while and you want the extra strength that a slow cure will give you.

So that picture.   The top is Outdoor, the bottom is Indoor.  We will be using that henceforth. 


Outdoor Caulk is: OSI Quad Advanced Formula Sealant.
Indoor Caulk is: Loctite Acrylic Caulk with Silicone. 

Both are by Henkel Corporation.

In the past I have used some of these caulks for some oddball things.  I can vouch for that indoor caulk in the past as glue to hold electronic parts together.  There's a battery pack that I made from old laptop batteries that I held in place with a "good" amount of white caulk. 

I also used it to hold a footprint from my old dog Lettie as she was nearing the end of her days.  It's now in a frame with her collar on my room divider.  That sort of thing won't mean a thing to anyone but us who cared for her, but the caulk is still holding things together.

But your mileage may vary, and that sort of use is clearly at your own risk. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Home Improvement OCD Caused By A Bathroom Door

When you buy a house that wasn't made for you, you expect little strange things.

Even if you are the Uber Home Improvement God who knows how to build a house from scratch using a hammer, hand saw, and maybe a screwdriver when you break your thumb nail putting the covers on the light switches, there will be little subtle things that were done not quite the way you planned.

Come on, admit it, no house is perfect.

We came from a 1863 Town House in Chestnut Hill Philadelphia.  If you stood in the middle of the dining room and bounced, the floor would bounce with you - it was held in place by a system of steel girders and beams.  Basically it was a bridge.  A bridge with very very old wood.

Here, the house was built in 1957 or 1968.  The city's records aren't quite clear on that.  We are the third owners.  The first owner put in a swimming pool and air conditioning.  The second owner lived here longer and there are some stories that he lived here "harder". 

I've heard stories about a wedding held where there was a platform built over the pool.  There are the initials of the police officers of Wilton Manors during the 1980s in the cement by one light pole.  I've heard echoes of stories that were alluded to and never finished because "I just can't".

Hey, if you just can't, don't start, OK?

But the place isn't perfect.  If you walk on the tiles here, that were laid over the original grey terrazzo, some of them are silent, others are hollow.  The grout needs to be replaced.  The tiles themselves are stained from a carpet pad that was left in place so long that it welded to the floor. 

Don't get me started about how dirty the carpet was when I pulled it up.  Pepto Bismol Pink went out immediately upon Move In.


But I'm used to doing home improvement.  I can spackle and plaster better than many professionals, and between the two of us, Light Plumbing and Electrical work are covered.

But I had a Home Improvement OCD Melt Down.  It was caused by the morning bathroom, um, use.

Seated on the throne, the bathroom door was closed.  It is a hollow core door that I can barely pass through without brushing my shoulders on either side.  I walk through it on an angle.  I'm a tall guy, beefy, and in shape, and that damn door is narrow.

I'm looking around the room.  There are things that need to be fixed.  I'm thinking that since we're at a breather in the Home Improvement Binge of 2015, and there will be no construction contractors in the house until next week, I may be able to get caught up on some backlogged maintenance.

Cleaning, that is.

Vacuum up the dust and bits of caulk and spackle.  Pick up some wandering screws or nails.  Look at the vertical blinds in the living room and make adjustments so they swing better. 

Basic stuff.

But then I made the mistake.  I looked at the back of the door.

See, I am used to things being not quite right.  If you are standing in the living room and look down you will see the discoloration from that ugly pink carpet and the pad underneath.  I have managed to keep things serviceable here, if not perfect.  The walls are thankfully washable paint, so I see something and I grab the ammonia and clean it.

Except that hollow core door.  You see, it is completely unprepared wood.

I can't say it is unstained.  It was stained before we got here.  Just not "Wood Stain".  I am used to Wood Stain, I'm something of a woodworker myself.  Basic carpentry I enjoy.  Shop Class in 7th and 8th grades was fun to me.

This isn't Wood Stain.  This is something entirely... else.

So cover me, I'll get the ammonia from under the bathroom sink and ... wait.

You see, if I clean that stuff off, it is probably soaked into the untreated wood.  That means it will have to be treated.  Primered and painted after a light "prep-sand" with some 220 or 400 grit sandpaper.  Now in my mind that meant some nice high gloss washable white paint, although maybe a wood stain would be just as good.  Polyurethane, like the stuff you use with the windows open so you don't get high and pass out in a daze.

Hmmm, this bears some more thought!


If I paint that wood, I'll have to do both sides.  Great!  Now I have one door painted.  Out. Of. Six.  I can stand in one spot in that short little hallway, only 6 tiles long by 3 wide, and touch four out of six doors.

One door will stand out.

I'll have to prep-sand the other doors.  Clean them off.  Get the dust of 50 to 65 years off the doors.  Breathe, then start to paint them.  Volatile Organic Compounds floating into the air.  Probably will end up killing the Parrot.  Definitely kills off a couple million brain cells.  Lower the IQ by 10 points. 

I'd fit in then!

Ok, so now that the doors have been painted, take a breather and look around.

Hmmm.  Stark White doors against that faded woodwork.  That looks rather shabby.  There's a bit of a remnant of that washable wall paint leftover.   I can still see that horrible 1957 or 1968 Pepto Bismol Pink under a few spots here and there on the woodwork too.  Let me touch that up.

Now we are at painting six doors, six door frames.   Are we done yet?

Of course not!  You see the walls are a color that is "Ecru".  Off White.  Who ever got the idea that walls should be "Off White" in the first place should have been terminated.  Why?  Off White looks like White that strayed.  It looks like white that was dirty.  As soon as it was painted. 

Against my newly nice clean zinc oxide white washable door frames and doors, that wall covered in Ecru Beige Off White Bleah looks like someone had been smoking in the house for decades. 

Instead of calling it Ecru, I'll call it Smoker's Fingers Beige.


So we paint the little hallway.  Find a color.  My own vote would be Pure White.  Zinc Oxide.  Like the nose of an Australian Surfer White.  All Bits On.  Hex Code #000000.

I'll get overruled and it will be Ecru again.  Why?

Because of OCD.

You see if I paint the walls back in the little hallway, I will have to paint the rest of the house.  All of it.  Living Room.  Dining Room.  Kitchen.

Oh sure, it will get done before we eventually sell the place.   After all, cleanly painted walls are worth about 3 to 5 times the cost you put into getting the walls painted on the resale market.

Do I have the time for THAT?  I probably could do a wall a day, or every couple days.  Work my way around the house.  Have it done for the holidays maybe two or three years past.  But it would get done.  It would annoy me.  I'd want to find the person who invented Ecru, the person who painted the stuff on these walls, the person who put "texture" on the walls.  Then find the person who invented nails and get that person to nail the other three together and make a sort of Super Uber Interior Designer.  Held together with nails, caulk, and beige paint.

Then get THEM to do the painting.

I think all of this will just wait.   I'll stop with the ammonia on the walls.  I hear ammonia does a lot of good!