Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Betty's Vinca Blooms By The Pool

 Somehow this fits.

Once upon a time I had an Aunt.  She moved into Century Village down here for the winters instead of staying in New York in the cold.  

Happily, I visited her, and at the end of one visit she told me to take some of her flowers.  I did and they grew here happily.

She was going.  Somehow I knew she would not come back and she was leaving me with these as a token.

Perhaps a bit too happily, now they're in strange spots all over my yard.

Fitting to the memory of my Aunt, they're tough.  Betty's Flowers are showing up in cracks in the pavement by the pool and blooming.

I've been told that the flowers I chose are considered Invasive.  Vincas.  I don't care.  I see them and I smile.  I think of my long gone friend and these little plants and enjoy the memories.

Thanks, Betty, for the memories.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

How does a scientist freshen her breath? With experi-mints.

 I am sure that in some parts of the country, on this day, there is someone sitting in an ice house, in the middle of a lake.  Over a wee hole, the person is trying to catch fish. 

Or maybe they are just like these guys?

Billy Bob and his family decided to go ice fishing.
So they loaded up all their tackle and headed up north and found a lake where they could go ice fishing with a tackle shop nearby in case they needed anything.

When they got there the man behind the counter said they'd need ice picks for breaking the ice.
After learning they were $10 each Billy Bob said they'd take 2.
About an hour later Billy comes up to the shop and  asks if he can buy another five ice picks.

Confused, the man sells him the picks.
About 4 hours later Billy staggers into the shop sweat pouring from his body and asks if he can buy the man's remaining stock of ice picks.

Unable to contain his curiosity any longer the man asks what Billy could possibly be doing with so many ice picks?
Billy looks and the man and says with a sigh that he never knew ice fishing was so much work.
"We've been chopping and chopping for hours and we just now got the boat launched! "

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Simple Basic Truffles For Xmas

The Truffles are cooling, The Cake is iced,
Xmas is the day, It will be nice.
A little doggerel for you,  I won't say it twice.
Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night.

Anyway, so if you are celebrating a holiday, may you enjoy it from me and mine.  

 If you aren't you'll have to just have to allow me to celebrate mine.

I have people coming by, we're going to have a roast, there are these truffles with the recipe at the end of this blather.  There's a Marble cake on the counter. 

Main course goes into the oven at 10am for a big meal at lunch so we can pass out on the couch.  What happens after that depends on us.

Enjoy your day whatever you choose to do, I know we will.

Now, for that recipe and yes I know that a Hula Dog only fits the holidays if we pretend it does.


This recipe can be done in the morning, and if you are aggressive, have it by lunch, or the afternoon.   Definitely ready by dinner.

Simple Basic Truffles:

2 parts chunked chocolate of "your favorite kind"

1 part cream

Process in stupidly long detail:

Add the chunked chocolate to a bowl.  It should be a microwave safe bowl large enough to add all the ingredients.

Microwave the ingredients for 30 seconds.

Stir until the chocolate melts.

Repeat the last two steps until you have a smooth mix judging for yourself if you need 30 seconds or less time in the microwave.

Chill the mix until solid.  If it never solidifies, add a little more chocolate to it and microwave and stir until smooth.

Scoop out the mix with a melon baller and roll the truffles in a coating of choice such as cocoa, jimmies, or nuts.  

It is all up to you, really!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The PVC Pergola Project - version 2.0.

I guess we can call this Pergola 2.0 or Revenge of the Pergola.

I looked at the results of the first construction and did not really care for them. 

Firstly, it used up the pipes way too quickly.

It also blocked the sun way too efficiently.

It was also way too heavy.  For the coverage that I was getting, it weighed too much.

So... lets look at this differently.  After all if I had the time and the interest, I could easily have made this out of Bamboo and Palm Leaves and had it be completely sustainable.  Since I had the plastic and it was all "trash", this fits perfectly with my own desire to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

I had seen something manufactured commercially that was closer to what I was trying to achieve and I was right that I could re-create it.

Applying a little mental algebra, I could approximate the result I was trying for.  

This whole project is one where everything was done off the top of my head.  The pipes were pre-cut to 5 feet, approximately, about 152 CM.  They were 1/2 inch inner dimension, about as thick as my thumb.  An inch thick outer dimension, or near enough to it.  Rough measurements were perfectly acceptable for this project.

So to open this pergola up a bit, I could cut a number of "napkin rings" out of some scrap pipe and thread the plastic bottle rings through it.  Threading the plastic loops around the pipes, I would later blast the loops with a heat gun and melt them.  Melting the loops tightened the whole thing together and no glue or fasteners had to be used.  The bottle plastic is very heat shrinkable.  The PVC pipe plastic will get soft and bend if I need it to.

A Plastic Bottle being manufactured, is a lump of plastic that gets heated and compressed gas is blown into it.  This happens inside of a mold and the bottle forms to the shape inside.  Those bottles are generally quite small and thick before heated and molded.

The hardest part was cutting the "napkin rings" on a Miter Box, repeatedly.  Since I don't have any clamps here to hold it down, the length was never exactly the same twice, and I was happy with an approximately 1 inch (or one thumb) wide ring.

I kept with the original plan and weaved all the rings and loops together.  Once I had everything about the way I wanted it, I added another row of rings and loops just because I didn't like the looks of it.  It does not have to support a lot of weight, just enough to be stable in the breezes.

I blasted it all with the heat gun, holding the pipes in place as the loops cooled and then flipped things over.  Blast it again on the other side and it became one semi-rigid piece.

This will get attached to a frame later, maybe with more water bottle loops of plastic or more likely zip-tied to it.  Since I had a frame already in place, and at this point we are in winter, I simply placed it on top of everything and here you have the result.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

How does a scientist freshen her breath? With experi-mints.

 Have you ever gotten up in the morning feeling "your age"?  Maybe after a workout you're a bit sore because you pushed yourself hard?  Yeah that happens but...

Jacob, age 92, and Beth, age 89, are excited about their decision to get married.

They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding and on the way they pass a chemist. Jacob suggests they go in.

Jacob addresses the man behind the counter: "Are you the owner?"... The pharmacist answers "Yes".

Jacob: "We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?" Pharmacist: "Of course we do."

Jacob: "How about medicine for circulation?"

Pharmacist: "All kinds."

Jacob: "Medicine for rheumatism, scoliosis?"

Pharmacist: "Definitely."

Jacob:" Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, jaundices?"

Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety..... the works!"

Jacob: "What about vitamins, sleeping pills, antidotes for Parkinson's Disease?"

Pharmacist: "Absolutely."

Jacob:" You sell wheelchairs and walkers?"

Pharmacist: "All speeds and sizes. Why do you ask? Is there something I can help you with?"

Jacob says to the pharmacist:: "We'd like to nominate your store as our Bridal Gift Shop Registry”

Saturday, December 18, 2021

What do you call two birds in love? Tweethearts

I am feeling generous so here's a two-fer!

Toughest time of my Life

I had the toughest time of my life. First, I got angina pectoris and then arteriosclerosis.
Just as I was recovering from these, I got tuberculosis, double pneumonia and phthisis.
Then they gave me hypodermics. Appendicitis was followed by tonsillectomy.
These gave way to aphasia and hypertrophic cirrhosis.
I completely lost my memory for a while.
I know I had diabetes and acute ingestion, besides gastritis, rheumatism, lumbago and neuritis...
I don't know how I pulled through it. It was the hardest spelling test I've ever had.


A 5 year old girl just lost a baby tooth and the dentist was explaining to her that if she put her tooth under the pillow at night that the tooth fairy would come and leave money in it’s place.
Whereupon the little girl says , all cocky: “I know all about that doctor. As a matter of fact, I know what the tooth fairy looks like!”
Doctor with an inquisitive look: “You do?”
Little girl: “I sure do, I’ve seen her.”
Doctor: “You have?”
Little girl: “You bet, do you wanna know what the tooth fairy looks like?”
The dentist nodded his head and she motioned him closer and she whispers: “It looks just like my momma but, naked.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Take A Break, Mango Season Is Coming

Just like anything else with me, everything happens near the house or on a workout.

I was out skating.  Nothing new with that, in fact it was the longest skate workout I have had since I moved to Florida.

I had already gotten ten miles in and it was time to rest.  The spot I rest at is under a small copse of trees, has a bench, water, and overlooks the Goodyear Blimp base in Pompano Airpark.  It's a pretty little spot where you can watch people get their cardio in, watch the blimp from time to time, and just have a break from what you are doing.   

Call it an Athlete's Hangout, I do.  Beautiful day.  Warm sun, breezes were light off the ocean.  I rather enjoy that spot.  

I got greeted by one of the fellow skaters and decided to get back to the task at hand and pack in another couple sprints.  Conditions like this only happen in the winter in the south, by the time April hits, we're already pushing the temps towards 90 and you know season is changing.

Actually when I got back to that same bench, that was exactly what I was thinking.  How nice it is, and how privileged I was to be able to enjoy this kind of condition.

Reaching into my skate pack, I grabbed my sport bottle, opened it, and tipped my head back to enjoy some ice water.  Looking up through spotted sunglasses, I noticed that my friend the Mango Tree was back in bloom.  It's a Hagen Mango tree, just like the big one near my house, and I have had fruit from it before.  Orange, creamy, and sweet.  

In a couple months it will be dropping more fruit.

Sitting there, you can gather your thoughts.  I skated 17 miles at that point and decided that it was approaching enough.  I'd do another 3 miles and then head on back.

Smiling at the thought, it was time to go.  Any more would break that peaceful spell.  Yes, it is possible to have peace at upwards of a 175 BPM heart rate, in fact it's preferable.  Standing up, I got on the trail and was able to glide on home. 

I used to compete, I used to skate hyper marathons multiple times in the week.  Now I do this for me.  Headphones on, it's a great way to enjoy the day.

Find your zone.  If it includes being on eight wheels, say hi as you pass the other way or join me for a sprint. 

In Philadelphia, Skating was massive.  On West River Drive, and I believe they changed the name of it by now to something else.  Weekend days it would be closed to allow people to enjoy the park, intimately, so that you could do any non motorized sport.  About half way through that drive is an old stone bridge and a water stop.  Right by that stop, and you have to know where, the was an old apple tree.   If you were lucky, you could tramp out across the grass and find an apple still on the tree.  Fairmount Park did not treat the grounds there other than cutting the grass so it was organic.  I've had many of those apples through the years, and having the mango here is ... well it is just right.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

How do you get a squirrel to like you? Act like a nut.

I battle with learning spanish.  I've been doing it practically every day since January 2013 and it is getting better.  There are certain words that I switch around and meanings change.  But at least I didn't get it THIS wrong.

During a church service, the pastor asked if anyone in the congregation would like to be prayed for.

Susan stood and walked to the podium. She said, “Two months ago, my husband, Phil, had a terrible bicycle accident and his scrotum was crushed.”

There was a muffled gasp from the men in the congregation.

“Phil was unable to hold me or the children,” she went on, “and every move caused him terrible pain. We prayed as the doctors performed a delicate operation, and they were able to reconstruct the crushed remnants of Phil’s scrotum, using wire to reinforce and shape it.”

The men in the congregation cringed and squirmed uncomfortably.

“Now,” she announced in a quivering voice, “thank the Lord, Phil is out of the hospital and the doctors say that with time, his scrotum should recover completely.” All the men sighed with relief.

The pastor rose and asked if anyone else had something to say.

A man stood up and walked slowly to the podium. He said, “I’m Phil.”

The entire congregation held its breath.

“I just want to tell my wife the word is sternum.”

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Where would you find an elephant? The same place you lost her.

OK, so this one is a little more ... PG than usual but hey, you get what you pay for, right?


Yesterday, I had a flat tire on the Hwy coming home.

So I eased my car over to the shoulder of the road, carefully got out and reached in the side compartment.

I took out two cardboard men, unfolded them and stood them at the rear of my car facing on-coming traffic.
They looked so life like you wouldn't believe it!
They're dressed in open trench coats that exposed their nudity to the approaching drivers.

But to my surprise, cars started slowing down to look at my lifelike men.
And, of course, traffic began backing up.
Everybody beeped their horns and waved like crazy.

It wasn't long before a state trooper pulled up behind me.
He got out of his car and walked towards me.
I could tell he was not a happy camper!

"What's going on here?"
"My car has a flat tire,"
I said calmly. "Well, what the heck are those obscene cardboard men doing here by the road?"

I couldn't believe that he didn't know.
So I told him...... "Helloooooo, those are my emergency flashers!"

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

That Isn't An Astronaut Up There When You Are Putting Up Holiday Lights, It's A Monarch

I'm a big guy, tall and fit.  In fact I am just back from a workout around town making a spectacle of myself in red, black, and safety orange spandex.

Yeah, let that stew in your mind for a bit.  A wall of Moose approaching at up to 17 MPH and over 7 feet tall on a bike in the Bus Lane.

But while I am very active, I also plan things out.  

The tradition in town for the holidays is to put lights on the house so you can be just about like the neighbors.  We don't have anyone here trying to be insanely bright on this block, most of us have something tracing out the lines of the house and call it done.  

I'm sure that the whole lighting thing will fade as carbon correctness gets more ingrained with people, at least it isn't long strings of 9 watt incandescent bulbs making way more heat than light.  It's now LEDs.

That is if you have them.

The conversation was: 

"What do you want to do about lights?"
"I don't really have time, I'm trying to get ready for the trip."

Yours truly has been researching high end inline skating parts online for a while and I found a truly insane set of lights for a minimal fee, and used my workout sponsorship money to get it.  Well, ours, but who is counting.

It got here, all 403 feet and 100 lights that were semi-addressable, and had ten "shows" and ... but it has to get on the house.

"I Don't Have Time"
"Where are the tools, I'm putting these up"

Hmmmm, 122 and a bit meters?  The Chinese must be using Imperial for this not a round number amount.


I got started and realized that I needed a ladder.  My reach was not quite far enough for all of the hooks I had to put in the house.  When I need a ladder, lesser men might need a crane.

Yeah, I know, stop patting yourself on the back big dude, others can do it and not need anything more than a "Six Foot Step Ladder" too!  That's 2 Meters give or take a few CM.  Help every last one of my 193 CM see over the roof and ...

I climbed up there and immediately got sun-blinded for a second and began muscling these strange stainless steel hooks into the soffits on the house when I was distracted.  I was about 10 feet (3m) in the air and I felt something trying to land in my ear.  Yes, in public someone was tickling my ear.  I expected to have the MTV Astronaut floating around me, not what I saw.

It was a Monarch Butterfly and I started doing some math.  They were back to lay eggs on the one milkweed plant that I have here that somehow manages to be in plain sight but ignored by the little queens looking to start the next generation.

Monarch Butterfly "Queens" have no spot on the wings where the "Kings" have a spot.  Yes the spot would be a dangly bit on a bull, and no I do not care if King and Queen are inappropriate, I rather like the words in this case.

There I was like a "Disney Prince" on a ladder about 3 yards/meters off the ground, trying not to fall on my Jeep Wrangler or the Orange tree.  I didn't want to break a leg, that would be a career ender and I am only 1900 miles from being able to say I skated around the world in career distance since 1993.

I got off the ladder, the Queen flew off my shoulder and went back to find my lone milkweed.  I watched as she laid one or more eggs and flew off to another piece of the plant.

"You are going to eat yourself out of house and home with your kids you silly bug!"

The plant already had a couple caterpillars on it in various sizes and was looking Moth Eaten.  Monarch Eaten to be more accurate.

Never mind that.  As I went to the next portion of the roof, I screwed in some more hooks and watched her and others.  It's been a dry day, the winds are light, and they kept flapping around me and the lone plant.  There had to be a good five or ten of them coming and going and looking like an approach pattern for an airport.

Eventually I got all the hooks in, then started threading LED wires through the hooks.  The same time it was Caterpillars Crunching, Monarch Moms Multiplying, Monarch Dads Drinking.  I had another one land on my free hand, just like the "Disney Prince" I was that day.

All in all I decided that 80% of 403 feet and only 80 LEDs of Holiday brightness would be sufficient.  It all looked reasonably nice on the house, not too showy, kind of subtle.

I could just be belaboring a point.  Read into it what you like.  I enjoy my weirdly random in phases lights coming and going.

I did read someone near here came around a corner once and spotted someone's display of red and blue lights and thought it was a Police Car.  She nearly wrecked her car by running off road towards a Gumbo Limbo.  Instead of looking at them and reading too much into it, remember, Speed Kills and Drive Alert, Stay Unhurt.

Enjoy your holiday, which ever one you choose to celebrate.  We'll leave a hundred lights on for you.  Now do let me go and nibble on some carbs.  I'm hungry and I am post-workout crashing.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

What do you call a dog magician? A labracadabrador.

I have a two-fer... But don't blame me, I was out in the shed installing hooks to hang tools, so something might have hit me on the head once or twice.


This one... I have actually seen happen!

Wayne was returning home from a business trip, bags in hand, and slowly making his way to his vehicle in the crowded airport garage. 

Suddenly a large dark car screeched to a stop in front of Wayne, and the driver pointed menacingly at him. "Get in," the driver ordered. "I'll take you to your car."

Startled, Wayne took a step backward. "Ah... no thanks," he answered. "I can get there myself."

"No!" the man barked back as he threw open his passenger side door. "Get In!" Wayne's eyes now darted around the garage, hoping to find a security guard.

Just then, the driver's face softened... "Please," he said, "I've been driving up and down for two hours. I can't find a space to park and I want yours."

All I have to say to this next one is "When you get older, Enjoy your pets!"


It was the annual homecoming dance at the local high school gym.

Most of the young folk were out on the dance floor but a few young men and women lined the sides of the gym, hoping for a dance partner to ask them out onto the dance floor.

After waiting anxiously for quite a while, a rather awkward freshman finally got up the nerve to ask a pretty junior for a dance at the homecoming.

She gave him the once-over and said, "Sorry, I won't dance with a child."
"Please forgive me," responded the underclassman. "I didn't realize you were pregnant."

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Why did the kid bring a ladder to school? Because she wanted to go to high school.

I have been doing a lot of what this cowboy does lately, so see if you can guess before you hit the punch line!


What I had to do in Texas...

This is a pretty old one, but I figure it's worth telling just in case people \haven't heard it.

In a typical wild west desert town, a typical rugged cowboy/drifter type rides his horse up to a saloon, then ties it to the post and saunters in for a drink. 

While he's drinking, some other patrons think it'd be funny to pull a prank on him, so they go untie his horse and lead it away. 

The visitor pays his tab and walks out, yells "What in tarnation?!" and stomps back in, a glare on his face and a hand on his holster.

The visitor yells so the whole saloon can hear, the pianist abruptly stopping. "Alright you varmints! Listen up and listen good; someone went and stole my horse, so here's how it'll be: I'm gettin' one more drink here, and by the time I finish, that horse had better be back at his post, or else I'm goin' to do something awful I did back in Texas. I'm warnin' ya all right now; don't make me do what I had to do back in Texas!"

Everyone at the bar is terrified, so when the visitor has finished his drink, and walked out again, sure enough the horse has been returned. The visitor says "Much obliged", swings up and is about to ride away, when one patron who followed him out says,

"I'm curious, pardner, what was that awful thing you had to do back in Texas that you didn't want to do here?"

The visitor replies, "I had to walk!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Making A Pergola Using Discarded Plastic Bottles And PVC Pipe Is Easier Than You Think

The problem with Plastic is that it is "Too Good".

You drink from it.
You use it at the Pool.
You take it with you into the Bathroom.
It is built into your lives.

It is so pervasive that there are rivers in Asia, and probably in "your country" that are clogged with it and you are most likely eating it or breathing it in right now.

But what happens when "it" has reached the end of "it's" life.

There is no "away" to throw it to.  If you put it in the trash can to be taken away, the can is probably plastic, and it will just get dumped into a pile.  The pile may be burned, but from what we know, less than 10 percent of it all gets recycled.

Those helpful numbers on the bottom of the bottle merely tell you what kind of plastic family that object is made from and if there actually is a way to recycle it, it makes it easier.

At least there are helpful projects like that woman in Kenya has going to make bricks for buildings there.  It plays to the strengths of the material and keeps it out of the trash stream.

I have been toying with that myself.  I shredded some #2 HDPE plastic into chips, and it does melt into a form very easily.

However I needed a shade for my Orchids.  Each spring at the beginning of Hurricane season, we have the tree there cut "way back" for safety.  If we ever do get hit, I want to give the storm less of a target.  However that Sea Grape tree shades the flowers and they will "burn" if left in the direct South Florida sun.

I have tried a mix of materials.  Bamboo, Sheeting, and now PVC Pipe. 

I have a neighbor who regularly throws out PVC Pipe and I have collected enough to build a Pergola out of it.  However, this being Florida, I have to make sure it can be easily taken down.

Solution is to build panels.  Not just PVC Pipe, but the Hurricane Water we have here comes in "helpful" little bottles of thin clear plastic. 

The trick is to slice them into finger width rings, then use those rings to bind the pipe segments together into panels.  Each panel is an arbitrary useful length (5 feet) and an arbitrary useful number (7 pipes to a flat bundle).  

Slide the rings over the pipes then blast them with a heat gun.  The plastic (#1 I believe) will shrink up and get rigid when it cools and I now have a nice flat panel to lay on top of a form.

Each ring shrinks in about 30 seconds and will hold the panels in place as needed.  I will say that looking at that first picture, I can improve on the panels by making spacers between each pipe and continue on refining the result.  I don't want total darkness.

I would rather not have water in bottles but they are here for emergency purposes, and have to be rotated and drank in the off season, so every year we get more.

It's best to have a real use for the things.

Since it's all plastic, it is weather resistant instead of the landscape cloth that disintegrated in less than two months.  While I could make this rigid enough to stand on, I prefer it to be in easy pieces to store.

I have another 6 months to go to the beginning of the next Hurricane Season, so by then, I'll have this all stabilized for the winds.

Oh, and no trash this way.  At least not for quite a while.