Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Morning Gift, Or Not All Of The Creatures Up Before Dawn Are To Be Avoided

Wandering through the heart of Wilton Manors means walking through an area that other people consider their playground.

It's my neighborhood, you don't live here, you're borrowing it.

I'm up at stupid O'Clock.  That varies between 4:45AM and if I really am sleeping in, as late as 7AM.  One of us will get me up typically before 6 but it is almost like I set the alarm for 4:45.

Two solid hours before sunrise.

That means that some of the creatures of the night are not yet gone.  No, Wilton Manors isn't that edgy or dangerous, it's that people have a habit of lingering after the bar closes. If there's a problem here, it is almost always due to an outsider coming in.

Typical for a resort.

So I watch as we walk.  Being up that early means I am out before the beginning of rush hour walking Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM).  It benefits him as he's still quite fearful and afraid of things like traffic, the 50 Bus, and the beater of a minivan that the newspaper delivery folks tend to use to drop off the morning dailies.

At 5:15AM there is very light traffic, and that's just enough to keep the dog alert without being wrenched
out of his mind due to a stream of cars.

This one particular morning was an odd one.  There were leftovers in the bar parking lot having a party.  Salsa music floated out of a car and I caught random snippets of a conversation in Spanish, but not enough that I could completely understand.

Walking further south on Wilton Drive, the Fort Lauderdale police cars were servicing their normal Donut Emergency speeding north with the lights flashing.  They turned into the Courtyard Cafe and went for their breakfast.  Why they need to speed like that I have no idea but I do plan to have a talk with the chief of police next time I see him about this.  It's a two or three time a week occurence.

I was awakened from my own reverie by a flash and a friendly wave.  One of the patrolmen on our own Wilton Manors PD were waving a hello and a quick burst from their lights.  Nice folks on duty here.

We have a long daily walk to start the day.  I'm out more than an hour most mornings.  A two mile walk with a dog can be a half hour or it can be two hours.  It all depends on how much there is to sniff and whether the walk itself slid late and I'm running into local friends to chat with.

Yeah, I can run at the mouth. 

But right in the middle of Wilton Drive, in a traffic lane, there was a woman in a silver VW Jetta.  She was waving at me.

Now, being used to the creatures of the night, I am wary.

She got out of the car.  It was stopped in the traffic lane.  I was amused and relieved when she got out of the car in a black lace baby doll shirt and some rather short shorts.  There was no way she could have been hiding anything in all that lace.

I heard her story:

"Excuse me, but I want to give you something!"

That's new.  I'm watching traffic approach from the north.

"You see I have some things.  I had a dog that I had to give up because my landlord won't allow dogs.  I have a little Yorkie and I have to rehome him for a while."

I'm thinking that I'm about to be given a dog by a random woman dressed in a baby doll shirt.  "But ma'am..."

She continues:

"So I have all these treats and I want to pass them onto someone who has a dog while I figure out what to do about my Yorkie."  She opens the back door in a swift moment and starts looking through her packages.  I notice that her shorts were quite short indeed, but nothing out of the ordinary in Florida in August.

She pulls out a bag of treats and a small container of dog food.  Rack immediately stops being afraid and realizes that this could be good for him.  "I have some goodies.  Don't worry, they're all still sealed!  Can I pet your dog?"

"Sure if he will let you, he's very fearful..."

Rack let her pet him but not too much. A truck sped by and he flattened out on the pavement.

"Aww, he really is afraid.  Enjoy these!  I really wanted someone who had a dog who treated them right to get them and you two looked like you were having fun on the walk!  Take care, bye!"

"Thanks, that was truly nice of you!  Thanks again, we will enjoy it!"

Needless to say I was bemused.  The package of dog treats and the small container of food were perfectly sealed, so Rack will get some treats. 

It isn't every day that you get stopped by a stranger in a major city to be given treats for your dog!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A New Monk Arrives At A Monastery

At this particular monastery their job is to copy old religious texts and manuscripts, day in and day out, so the new monk gets to work.

Eventually however, he notices that they are making copies of copies.

He goes to the head monk and explains how this could cause problems with translation. Over the years, the copies would get worse and worse, sort of like a bad game of telephone.

The head monk agrees and decides to send the new monk down to the archives to double check everything.

So the head monk takes him down there and leaves for a while.

After a few hours the head monk goes down to check on the new monk's progress, and the new monk is banging his head against the wall crying, "We missed the 'r', we missed the 'r'!".

The head monk asks him what he means, and the new monk replies, "The word is 'celebrate'!"

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Guy In France Is Sent By His Wife To Buy A Dozen Snails At The Market

His wife warns him "I don't want you to stop at the bar on your way home! I want you to go to the market, buy the snails and then come straight home just after. You always find an excuse to get drunk, not this time if you know what's good for you!"

The guy agrees, takes his basket and goes to the market.

On his way home, he passes in front of the bar. What the hell, he thinks, if I just take one drink the wife will never know.

A dozen drinks later he realizes the night has fallen. Shit, he thinks, the wife is going to be so pissed! He takes his basket and start running toward his home.

Because of the dark, and probably also because of the alcohol, he misses a step just in front of his door and all the snails fly out of his basket.

Shit shit shit! He thinks.

He goes flat on the floor so he can pick back up all the snails sprayed in front of him. The door opens and his wife is looking down on him. She doesn't look pleased.

"Come on you guys, he says, we're almost there! Just one more meter."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It's OK to Troll Your Dog, or How to Adjust Training When it is a Little Off

It's OK to Troll Your Dog, or How to Adjust Training When it is a Little Off

We all live with little recorders, we who have dogs.  I suspect cats are the same way but my allergies have not gone away to the point where I could consider staying in a house with one let alone letting one into my life.

Over the 40,000 years, give or take a few, that we have lived with what descended from Wolves, we have co-evolved.

They learned that if they keep these weird bipeds around, they will get food for them, provide shelter and security, and perhaps even help make their lives easier.

Being intelligent and social animals, what eventually became Dog learned.  They learned how to live with human's quirks and figured out how to read us.  There are many stories of how dogs know what you're doing before you even do. 

Trust In Dog, this is my story.

You see, I've learned how to troll my dog.

Anyone who has a herding dog understands that you have to give them opportunity to exercise.  Both mind and body being worked leads to a happy dog.  In my own case, my own happiest times were when I was working out for Inline Skating.  My schedule was five days of weightlifting plus 100 miles of skating per week in peak season.  My dogs couldn't keep up with that so I also had to walk them three times a day.

While you're out, your dog is watching what is going on.  Taking it all in.  Being a recorder of what is going on and how you react to it. 

Life is a bit more settled here, I'm not quite so active, and I have a fairly rigid schedule.  I'm up early, sometimes as early as 4:30 in the morning.  I walk Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM), out into the heart of Wilton Manors and pass by City Hall about the same time daily.  I know when the shift change is happening for the police, and when the Fort Lauderdale Police are speeding down Wilton Drive every morning to get their donuts at the Courtyard Cafe.

Seriously. Donuts.  Literally.

When I get home, there are more "scheduled activities".  Rack gets fed.  I get my coffee.

Rack watches.  I go through my own machinations waiting for sunrise.  I simply didn't realize that I was training him for that.

Between 7 and 7:30 in the morning, my drip feed irrigation gets turned on by computer.  The orchids get watered, hibiscus cuttings are being rooted, and my flower pots are getting a thorough drink.  Somewhere around half way through, I tend to go outside.  Drip Feed Irrigation works with small sprinklers and small sprinkler heads and they all get clogged up fast.  I have to go out to clear them all.

To go outside, I take the wireless keyboard off my lap, set it on the table, pick myself up and... DOG.

I put two and two together.  The next day I would test my theory.

It was right about sunrise that morning.  I was sitting in my low Poang chair and moved my feet close to my body against the tile floor.

*SCRAPE*

I heard trotting to the back door.  Rack thought it was his time.

I simply sat there.  Was looking at a news article on the BBC news that moment.  Rack got bored at the back door and went back to the corner.

*SCRAPE*  my soles said to the floor.

Rack ran to the back door again.  "Got bored, did you?"  as he trotted back to the corner.

*SCRAPE*  again.

This time, as Rack trotted past, he looked over at me.  I was having aspersions cast at me.  Yes, my dog was giving me Shade.  I had attitude being given.  My left lip curled in a half smile.

I waited until he sat down, gave him a couple minutes.

*SCRAPE*.  This time, not so fast.  He walked over and I felt his whiskers brush against my left arm. 

"What's a matter boy?  What do you want?"

On the word "want" he was over at the back door.  "You're early!"

He went back to the corner.  I gave him a couple minutes. 

In time, I moved my hand.  The keyboard creaked a little.  Plastic on plastic.  Rack ran to the back door.

"You're early!" I said in a sing song voice. 

I did take it easy on him and followed through.  I did take a mental note, keyboard works too.  I always put that on the table when I get up out of my little chair.

We went outside and he watered the big palm. 

The next day was the same.  The Scraping of my feet against the floor was less of a trigger though.  I started out with the keyboard instead and he was back at me.  This time it was nose under my arm and two brown eyes boring holes into my soul.

"Rack, I'm not ready yet"  Forgetting that "Ready" is a trigger for him as well.  I caved early and took him out.

What I was up to was trying to reeducate my dog.  Certain breeds of Dog like the McNab and other top ten intelligent breeds really should be looked at as a "Peer".  A sentient being with a different kind of and different level of intelligence, but intelligence none the less.

Rack is an extremely intelligent dog.  He learned that scraping of the shoes on the floor or the creaking of the keyboard means Out.  He learned by my telling him he's being early that he wasn't going to get that ice cube I use to cool down my coffee.

He also learned that the second mug of coffee was when he gets ice cubes.  You don't want to give a dog as many ice cubes as they will eat since they will wear down their teeth or even break one.  I'm only giving him one a day.  If he gets one off the floor, that's a different story.

So this particular morning, I see a smiling black and white face looking at me from around the corner.

"Rack, you're early!"  I had my pretzel roll in the toaster, eggs in the microwave, the water hadn't even been boiled for the coffee.  That sent him back but I knew he was listening.  I had to blunt this particular sharp edged dog.  Begging for food and treats is not something he is known to do but he does understand that I am a soft touch, especially for his prized unsalted hard pretzels.

The microwave beeped.  "Rack, you're early" as he looked in at me again.  Hard to resist that smiling face but I had to.  Time to get schooled!

The Tea Kettle whistled, and got poured into the iced tea glass, coffee mug, and the herbal iced tea in the decanter for later.  "Rack, really you are early!"  sent him back to the corner.

I decided I would see how close he was listening.  My egg,cheese, and onion on a pretzel roll sandwich was partly consumed as Rack decided to check things out again.  I didn't particularly expect that but I never feed him in the kitchen.  He was still waiting on that ice cube. 


When I finished breakfast up I realized he wasn't coming back out.  I was washing dishes, clearing and drying the counter, and then opened the freezer.  Very carefully, quietly, I reached into the ice bin.  He didn't hear it. I was able to get five cubes for the coffee and go on my way.

He never got his cube that morning.

So moral of the day is that if you think you are being watched... you are!

In other words, you aren't paranoid if they're actually watching you!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Two long time friends bump into each other after a long time of not seeing each other.

They start talking.

Friend#1: Oh hey, I haven't seen you since your wedding, how are the kids?
friend#2: Oh they're fine, how have things been with you?

friend#1: Everything is great, what say you we go out to eat?
friend#2 All right, I know a place around the corner, real fancy place, they serve great steaks and wine.

They arrive at the restaurant.  They sit down and they order the most expensive meals they can find, along with some expensive wine.

friend#1: Man am I full, WAITER! we are ready for the receipt
Waiter: Very well, it'll be $3,500

The 2 friends argue over who will pay.
Friend#1: I got the bill, it'll be my pleasure for not seeing you in so long.
Friend#2: No it's fine, you're my guest, I'll be happy to pay.

Seeing as how they we're never going to agree, the first friend calls out to the waiter "Waiter, bring me 2 buckets of water please."

The waiter comes back with the buckets.

 Friend#1: OK, this is what is going to happen, we will each stick our heads into the buckets, and whoever comes up for air first, has to pay.

 They both drowned.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Couple, Both Age 78, Went to a Sex Therapist's Office

The doctor asked, "What can I do for you?"
The man said, "Will you watch us have sex?"

The doctor looked puzzled, but agreed.

When the couple finished, the doctor said, "There's nothing wrong with the way you have sex," and charged them $50.

This happened several weeks in a row. The couple would make an appointment, have sex with no problems, pay the doctor, then leave.

Finally, the doctor asked, "Just exactly what are you trying to find out?"

"We're not trying to find out anything," the husband replied. "She's married and we can't go to her house. I'm married and we can't go to my house. The Holiday Inn charges $90. The Hilton charges $108. We do it here for $50...and I get $43 back from Medicare.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Intermediate Spanish on Aisle Five


Intermediate Spanish on Aisle Five

I took up Spanish on my own.

Mind you, living in South Florida, there are some obvious benefits that would not happen if you lived in some less diverse area.

I had five years of French in Junior High School and Senior High School. It has been long enough that most of that is long gone, save the pronunciation of certain Spanish words. I use that Back of The Throat R that the French do, and my Spanish “Ere” are no where near a trill like you would hear on the streets of Ciudad de Mexíco or Buenos Aires.

After the year or so of using Duolingo, watching Spanish Language TV, and listening to Spanish Language radio, I’m firmly ensconced in the Intermediate Spanish realm.

That is to say I speak good Plaza Sésamo. Get too complex and I am happy to look itup.

I’m lucky though. The friends I have that are not Bilingual are willing to help by giving me things to listen to and to read.

I’m also highly “Project Driven” as would be expected from a Project Manager.

We have a lot of little projects to finish here at the little house on the quirky little island known as Wilton Manors, Florida.

Quite a few projects actually. Way too many.

Recently we took on wiring the yard with low voltage lights.

Being who we are, those low voltage lights have to be LED lights. Have to be as in It Is Under Pain Of Death That We Are Green And Use LED Lights.

Truly. Over the top.

But the nice thing is that they use practically no power to do what the security lights that are there do with old fashioned Incandescent bulbs.

The existing bulbs are 110 Volt, 40 Watt. Two of them. On full, that is 80 watts. The equivalent is running at 1/10th the voltage and 1/4th of the wattage – a total of 1/40th of the current to make the same light.

If my math is correct.

But first, we have to get the things. That means a trip to The Big Box Home Improvement Store of your choice.

We did hit both. Bought the gear we thought we needed.

The transformer was already here. That was found online. Light bulbs and fixtures were at the big box stores along with the wire we needed.

One of the things I’m doing to learn Spanish is watch some kid’s shows. Ones for a pre-teen audience. Why? Because the sentence structure is just about where my own Spanish is at. Never mind that the songs that they put in these shows with all those flashing lights and images are guaranteed to be an ear-worm to be stuck in your head to come out at inappropriate moments.

So here I am, all 6 Foot 4 of me, walking down the aisles of the big box store quoting lines from a song that an elementary school kid would recite.

"Vamos Herramientas! Lets Go Tools!"

I spot the hand tool aisle. We could use some parts to the electric drill…
I'm told I have lost my mind...

Brinco Salto, Si Vamonos!

No Hay Que Tardar!
De Prisa!
A Trabajar!

Y a Reparar!


Leap Hop, Yes we go!
There is no delay!
Hurry!
To work!
And to repair!

And I am trotting through the big store with this song on a loop inside my head as I go past the paint, ceiling fans, sprinkler parts and find the low voltage lighting.

And I realize that I’m stuck in a silly song that doesn’t quite sound right in my native English.

Then again I have never seen that TV show, Handy Manny, in English. There are some shows that I have never seen in English, only in Spanish.

Who can resist a story where a sarcastic blue hammer is telling a baby blue whale to go back into the sea?

We grab more treasures to be buried in the yard.

Some black wire for low voltage use only.
Another two lamps that promise to light my palm tree.
A “straight hoe” that brings some childish giggles at the name.

Everything gets into the cart as I stand there like a toddler reading the words off the box out loud. After all everyone would want to hear a child say their new words, why not a full grown adult with a new toy of a new language?

“Contenido del paquete! That means Package Contents!”
I hear a quiet groan, then, “Great, can you grab this?”
“Sí! Voy a ayudar! Yes, I am going to help!”
“Here, have the instructions. They’re in Spanish too!”

So I’m now being distracted with a parts explosion and installation instructions on how to install a post lamp in the yard. Pretty simple actually.

But it gives me a new world of words to learn.

Cable de la lampara – Fixture Wire
Advertencia – Warning
Precaución – Caution

As strange as it sounds, reading the words off of the wall helps a lot, and those boring installation instructions that we gloss over turn out to be a trove of new Palabras – Words.

I find myself reading the Spanish on the shelves first for the challenge promising myself I won’t read the English.

We go through checkout and get home. As we’re relaxing and cooling down for the afternoon, I pick up another piece of reading and dig down deep. It’s the instructions for how to assemble, mount, and install a ceiling fan!

How exciting, huh?

Take the learning where you can. If you don’t have anyone nearby who can help you with your new language, don’t be afraid to look in unorthodox places. After all, Radio Martí broadcasts news from the US Government all in Spanish, and while propaganda is never balanced, it can help you learn, especially when you have a live link here.

Ahora, donde está mis instrucciónes?
Now, Where are my instructions?

Oh!  And that blue whale?  Of course the 10 hand tools and the people of the little beach town made a thing out of available fabric and sticks and were able to save the baby whale by walking it down the beach to the sea.  Because that is how things end in a happy little kid's show in Spanish.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

God and Adam

God Said, "Adam, I Want you to do Something for Me."
Adam Said, "Gladly, Lord, what do You Want me to do?"

God Said, "Go down Into that Valley."
Adam said, "What's A valley?"

God explained it to him. Then God said, "Cross the River."
Adam said, "What's a River?"

God explained that To him, and then said, "Go over to the Hill....."
Adam said, "What is a Hill?"

So, God explained to Adam what a hill was. He told Adam, "On The Other side of the Hill you will find a Cave."
Adam said, 'What's a Cave?'

After God explained, He Said, "In the cave You will find a woman."
Adam said, "What's a Woman?'

So God explained That to him, too. Then, God said, 'I Want you To Reproduce."
Adam said, "How do I do That?"

God first said (under His breath), "Geez....." And then, Just like everything else, God explained that to Adam, as Well.

So, Adam goes down Into The valley, Across the river, and Over the hill, Into the Cave, and finds the Woman.
Then, in About five minutes, he was back.

God, His patience Wearing thin, said Angrily, "What is It Now?"
And Adam said....  "What's a Headache?"

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Be Like Frank

A man drops his truck off for service and walks out to the highway and flags down a taxi just going by. He gets into the taxi, and the cabbie says, 'Perfect timing. You're just like Frank.'
Passenger: 'Who?'

Cabbie: 'Frank Feldman. He's a guy who did everything right all the time. Like my coming along when you needed a cab, things happened like that to Frank Feldman every single time.'
Passenger: 'There are always a few clouds over everybody.'

Cabbie: 'Not Frank Feldman. He was a terrific athlete. He could have won the Grand-Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star and you should have heard him play the piano. He was an amazing guy.'
Passenger: 'Sounds like he was something really special.'

Cabbie: 'There's more... He had a memory like a computer. He remembered everybody's birthday. He knew all about wine, which foods to order and which fork to eat them with. He could fix anything. Not like me. I change a fuse, and the whole street blacks out. But Frank Feldman, he could do everything right'
Passenger: 'Wow, some guy then.'

Cabbie: 'He always knew the quickest way to go in traffic and avoid traffic jams. Not like me, I always seem to get stuck in them. But Frank, he never made a mistake, and he really knew how to treat a woman and make her feel good. He would never answer her back even if she was in the wrong; and his clothing was always immaculate, shoes highly polished too - He was the perfect man! He never made a mistake. No one could ever measure up to Frank Feldman.'
Passenger: 'An amazing fellow. How did you meet him?'

Cabbie: 'Well, I never actually met Frank, he died. I married his damn widow.'

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How Bad Chinese Manufacturing Led Me To Make a LED Deng

A Deng is a Chinese Lantern.  They are pretty common, they are made out of a frame and paper that can be brightly colored or have patterns.  These aren't the Sky Lanterns that fly through the air with a lit candle, this is more of a decorative "ball" type of a lantern.

They do seem to bring a smile to my face.  When I spotted one, I kept it thinking "I should do something with that some day".

Yes, my house is full of those sort of projects.  Things I should do something with some day.  Moving from house to house should solve that but that is not in the plans.  So the Projects mount.

What happened to get it to where it is today is a long and twisted tail that involves alleged drunk driving, my own creativeness, and some truly typically bad Chinese manufacturing practice.

I'll say this right off.  It is well known that people who make light bulbs of any type have been skimping.  There is a bulb in a firehouse that has been burning 115 years since the early part of the 1900s.  It is a "Centennial bulb" that looks more like the insides of an old Radio tube to me, but there it is.

That company that made the bulb never made any more money on that bulb and that's the problem with Capitalism.  The light bulb companies conspired and colluded to make their bulbs less sturdy until you have the problem I had.

Helpful hint!  When shopping for Light Bulbs, look carefully at the packaging.  Make sure you buy bulbs that have a 25,000 hour life span.  Leave the lower hour bulbs at the store!

You see my Ceiling Fan broke.  I pointed a remote control at it and it didn't turn on.  It refused to light, it refused to spin.  You need a Ceiling Fan in South Florida.  I thought I would procrastinate and in a few days we would go to the big box store and see if they still had this fan.   Going back to the well and seeing if it was not dry meant we could exchange it for a new one.

They had them and we grabbed one.  As an aside, I got a spare battery for the remote, just in case.  Type A23 batteries.  The same type as in my Jeep's alarm remote.  I need new ones for that too.  It turned out that with a new battery, the ceiling fan worked.

We put the new one up anyway, and that one worked.  But out of the six incandescent light bulbs that came with it, two did not work.  We are going to put LED lights in that anyway so I grabbed the bulbs For Projects.

The other part of this story with the drunk driving, allegedly, that is, happened about 5 years ago.  Someone had a tricked out truck with ground effect lighting and a stupidly loud horn.  He drove this beast into the shopping center near my house and proceeded to back it up, clumsily, into a parking space.  He also backed it over top of a cement parking space block and ripped out those same lighting strips, in four pieces.

The lighting strips, I of course, picked up.  For Projects.  Bright white LED Strips that will run on next to no current at 12 volts.  My brain racing, that means that I could basically have free lighting coupled with my solar charger and a couple old laptop batteries and ... so forth.

I wired them up with old telephone wire that was discarded by the telephone company one day.  The wires were stiff enough to stand up to some abuse, and hold the LED strips upright against their own weight.

The little LED things would run for days on three rechargeable laptop cells, so they would make an amazing emergency light.  When power goes out here, it goes out for a very long time, especially when Mother Nature is involved.

I'm looking at you Wilma.  Two weeks without power on my block means it would not be a good time to vacation at the beach!

So when the bulb blew, For Projects became Now.  I tested them one last time.  One bulb was dead.  The other popped immediately when plugged in.  I had my base.

The cord was salvaged from an old Ikea lamp that was in my back yard for years.  It had a small candelabra fixture in it that the bulbs fit.

With a tap from a pair of scissors, the glass broke away.  I was able to use the scissors to chip away almost all of the rest of the glass and that gave me the connectors I needed.  Since everything I was doing was low voltage, I used blue construction tape to insulate things and wired up the contraption.  One connection to the ring, the other to the tip.

I had my Deng lamp.  Now, to assemble and "Smoke Test" it.   It worked!  Actually, it really looks quite nice.  Enough to light the desk under it and it is quite bright on a 200 milliamp, 12 volt power brick from an old caller ID box.  2.4 watts of power to get a light that is about as bright as a 40 watt incandescent bulb.

Now, I don't know how long that will run.  Someone bumps into the connections, it will go dark.  It won't shock anyone, that kind of power may run a portable radio, but not too much else.  But the light works.

A giant pile of broken bits, discarded wire, and a drunken mistake gave me a rather nice light.

And a story about my own electronic OCD.

Hey!  It's a Project!  I'll finish it some day!  Really!  I will!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Fireman decides he needs to spice up his marriage.

A fireman decides he needs to spice up his marriage so he tells his wife that he has an idea.

He tells her that when he gets home he will announce a 'one alarm.' He will say 'one alarm, one alarm' and they will kiss passionately.

Then the firefighter tells her that he will say 'two alarm, two alarm' and they wil take off all of their clothes on the way to the bedroom, then 'third alarm, this is a third alarm' and they will begin wild passionate love making.

So the wife agrees that this is a good, novel idea.

After a few shifts the fireman comes home and decides to try it out.

He walks in the door, 'baby we have a one alarm, a one alarm fire!' And they begin to kiss.

Then he says 'two alarm, we've got a two alarm fire' and they begin to disrobe on the way to the bedroom.

Then the fireman says' we have a three alarm, this is a third alarm fire' and the wife gets into it, they hit the bed and begin wild lovemaking.

After a few seconds she says 'four alarm, four alarm, this is a fourth alarm!!!'

He stops and asks,'four alarm? What's a fourth alarm?! We didn't discuss that?'

The wife says 'fourth alarm? Yeah. Roll out more hose, you're no where near the fire!'

Saturday, August 6, 2016

One Winter Morning

One Winter Morning a husband and wife were listening to the radio during breakfast.

They heard the announcer say,"We are going to have 8 to 10 inches of snow today. You must park your car on the even-numbered side of the street, so that the Snowplows can get through."

So the good blond wife went out and moved her car.

Again, a week later while they are eating breakfast, the radio announcer said, "We are expecting 10 to 12 inches of snow today. You must park your car on the odd-numbered side of the street, so that the Snowplows can get through."

The good blond wife went out and moved her car again.

The next week they are again having breakfast, when the radio announcer says, "We are expecting 12 to 14 inches of snow today. You must park...." Then the electric power went out.

The good blond wife was very upset, and with a worried look on her face she said, "Honey, I don't know what to do. Which side of the street do I need to park on so that the Snowplows can get through?"

With the love and understanding in his voice that all men who are married to blondes exhibit, the husband replied, "Why don't you just leave it in the garage this time."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Does Water Matter That Much? The Story of Importing Water 1200 Miles From Philadelphia to Make Bread

Once upon a time, in the woods, up on top of a hill, there was a farm house.

It was a beautiful neighborhood, a wonderful home.  There was a large kitchen hung off the back of the house, 20 feet by 25.  It had a fire place that was a welcome addition in the winter.  Bright windows and skylights and plenty of room.  It was an amazing place to cook.

This was my house for only thirteen years, in Philadelphia.

I was fortunate.  I got the idea that I could try my hand at baking bread when the bread machines came out back in the 1990s.  They were easy and I got great results.  I quickly moved to use the bread machine as a mixer and proofer for bread dough.  The results were much better since the oven would caramelize the crusts in a traditional way.  I ended up having "artisan" quality loaves of bread for about $.50.

Yep, 50 cents a loaf.

That translated into a Seven Cent Roll.  Crispy crunchy crusts.  Italian Bread.  Sweet Breads.  Amazing Pizza Cracker Crusts that had flavor and cracked when you bit down.

Inside the crusts, I would have soft as a cloud and chewy bread.  It was easy in Philadelphia to make bread in that kitchen.  Everything "just worked".  The chemistry of the water was not pleasant to drink.  Philadelphia's water from the tap is described as "Schuylkill Punch".  It had a strange color, taste, and smell.   Philadelphians would laugh about it and say "Yeah, it's da wudder here" and change the subject.

But it made great bread.

2006 happened.  We moved from Philly to South Florida.   When I turned on the tap here, the water wasn't better.  It was different.  It looks vaguely brown and has an unpleasant taste.  Fort Lauderdale is processing it and since this is a "semi-tropical" area just about 10 miles below the Freeze Line in Boca Raton, there's a high amount of Chlorine to kill off the nasties that live in the pipes.

You don't want nasties in the pipes.

But it made bad bread.

You have to expect that.  All that chlorine would kill off your yeasts or simply retard their growth.  After all, Yeast is a Living Thing.

We went through "steps".  I have tried various water to make bread here.  I am using the same recipe as I always have, "Pat's Pizza Dough" recipe.  The flour is the same, although I do switch in various kinds of flour from time to time.

I get an adequate result when I use tap water.  The crusts are very thin and soft.  Better than what I would get in the supermarket, it just wasn't what I was used to.

I was playing around with water for a while.  Take it from the filter on the refrigerator, warm it to 105F or 40C.  Use the same recipe.  Better.  The crust would be a little thicker, a little crisper, but not quite that Artisan quality.  Bottled water had similar results.

One day I was driving through downtown Fort Lauderdale and we passed by one of those bagel places that promises to make their products from what can only be described as reconstituted New York Water.   The only explanation that I have is that they're adding salts and minerals to local water to get the balance of water that is approximately what comes from the tap in Brooklyn.

My Aunt's Mother in Law had an apartment in Brooklyn.  I remember as a small child turning on the water tap and getting something that looked like milk out of the tap from all of the suspended gasses that were precipitating out.  I don't know that Brooklyn Water was what I wanted.

So the conversation went like this:

"Yeah but you're going to Philadelphia in July.  Can you bring me back some water?  A quart would be fine, a gallon would be amazing!"

We decided that we would go to a sporting goods store and get the first jug we could find that would be suitable that was more than a gallon.  More than that and I felt it would go funny from storage.  Less than that and I would be frustrated.

We ended up with a seven gallon blue plastic cube.  It got trucked to Glen Mills, PA in the back of my friend's SUV where he filled it with about three gallons of water.  Right from the tap.

Coming home, I got a text that read:  "Slosh, Slosh, Slosh".  As he drove down US 1 to the Maryland Line, the motion of the car was making the water splash around in the cube.  I was glad it was semi-rigid and larger than we needed.

When he got here to Florida, I got chapter and verse about how it was in the car making a racket in the back sloshing around for 400 or so miles until he got onto the Auto Train, then from Sanford, FL to here.

But we had PA Water!  Now to make bread rolls and pizza.

Just as they went into the oven, the power cut out and I ended up finishing everything off in the Barbecue Grill.

Strangely enough, it didn't harm the rolls.  They were some of the best I have ever had since we moved.  The crust was crispy like a cracker, and the rolls had flavor.

Clearly there was something to this!

So while we laughed at Philly Wudder tasting like Schuylkill Punch, it made good bread.

I still am not certain what it was all about.

It is possible that it is that the water is better for baking.
It is possible that all the sloshing helped to de-gas the water of all the Chlorine and Fluorine in it.
It is possible that since it has been out of the tap for a couple weeks at the time of baking it was at its peak.

I just don't know.

What I do know is that the crust was crispy, the "crumb" inside was soft but full of pockets of "air" that you would expect from a high quality bread.

There is now one question left to answer.  Was it the water from Philly, or can I recreate the results using local water that was either filtered or distilled, and left to "de-gas" on the counter.

All I know is I finally have a loaf of bread that I made in Florida that tastes like I remember it in Philly.

Yes, there is something to all of this.  The actual taste of the bread has changed subtly. The crumb is definitely better and the crust is wonderful.

All of this from a big blue cube that is taking up space in my kitchen.

So in six months when a return trip happens... yep, you guessed it.  Someone will have a big blue cube riding North to Glen Mills.

Here's hoping that the water doesn't freeze overnight!