Walking Your Cat

Wilton Manors is a very different place.  There are things that happen here that we smile at and say “isn’t that cute” that if they were to happen in a different place of approximately the same social stratus you would have your house egged or worse.

I’ve found that since I have moved here, of the “locals” there’s really only one that I find what I would call reprehensible.  I’ve heard many others say the same of this person, so I’m not being too harsh.

On the other hand, we tend to be a very tolerant bunch.   I have a wonderful family down the block who I think lives a great life.  They’ve got an air boat, the kids go fishing, ride a golf cart and Dad and Mom join in.  After all you don’t often see a roughly 40 year old man stand on a skateboard and roll down the street ahead of his kids with a fishing pole in one hand waving the other arm wildly for balance while the sons are yelling “Dad slow down you’re too fast for us!”.  

That just would NOT do in Plantation, Florida, Maple Shade, NJ, or Irvine California.  No way!  It’s just not done in Suburbia!

I’m glad I don’t live there. 

Standing on a soap box aside, I had a chance to witness yet another thing that just would not happen in the Burbs.

I was waiting for my coffee to finish brewing, and since I roast my own I am thinking that is another one of Those Things, and walked to the front door of my house.   Looking out the door across the street there is an open lot.  Back in the housing boom there were two rather nondescript duplexes there and they were knocked down for “future development”.  Now there is a lot of sand and a single weatherbeaten tree.

It ends up being a semi-official parking lot on Bar Nights, and a place for the kids to run their motorized toys and for Dad to bring the quad bike.  This lot also has the unfortunate designation of being an unofficial pet park.  Many of the neighbors take their pets there so they can avoid cleaning up after their cherished friend, and I’ve warned my neighbors down the block to be careful of that sort of thing.

While looking out the window I saw someone else walking their pet there.  It was another neighbor who I don’t know well.  He runs a glass business and drives the van quite a bit faster than I’d prefer since there really ARE kids on the block like the sign on the corner says.  Looking at the pet closer I saw it wasn’t a dog.

This man with all his tattoos, shaved head, and biker looks was walking a cat.  

On the end of a long red leash there was a cat on a harness.  I should say Trying To Walk A Cat instead, since the cat really wasn’t interested in covering any distance.   Sitting in the Florida Desert Sands like the Sphinx, this tricolored cat was just going about being a cat.  That is to say it was indifferent toward doing anything other than what a cat will do when presented with a big box of sand, and it sat there doing it looking like the king of the cat hill. 

Apparently Mr Biker Dude wanted to get moving because he was gently flipping and vibrating the leash to provide incentive.  Just as the timer sounded in the kitchen he slipped his toe under the cat and tickled it just enough to get it to move forward another 3 feet.

I guess that is why you don’t see many people Cat Walking other than people in dresses that you would expect to slip between the floor boards of an old building. 

One more nudge and they moved on to their apartment after rolling in the dust just a bit more.  I walked back to have my second mug of coffee and was amused enough to check again to see if Biker and Cat were still out in the sand playing around.   They had moved on leaving me with another illustration of why living in Wilton Manors can be a gift.

Annoy Yourself, Forget the Border Collie’s Mat

I’m up before the dawn.  I have to be.  If not, my furry alarm clock is there at 6am with her head on the mattress wagging her tail and thereby shaking the bed.

This morning, I did manage to get up before all of that.  This being Friday, I grabbed all the “Dog Mats” and threw them into the washer.  Super-Hot to kill the things that may get into them after having a 47 pound Border Collie lay on them all week.  I also tossed a few other odds and ends into the washer, slammed the door, pressed the start button and walked away.

We went out for our dog walk around town shortly there after.   She had her food, and I grabbed the old time radio show that I had been listening to on the MP3 player and we went outside.

No, not an i-thing, a real honest to goodness player from *gasp* Sansa!

After doing a lap around town and wandering around with me following her with a plastic bag, we got home.  I put the player down, started the morning routine.   Within 15 minutes my mind shifted from following the dog to warming biscuits, roasting coffee, making Iced Tea, boiling water, making coffee, grinding coffee, warming a chicken pattie, and emptying the sink of last nights detritus.

All the while I was being watched.  Two brown eyes with occasional flashes of gold from the ceiling lights.

I finished breakfast while waiting for the coffee to brew in the pot, stirring occasionally, and managed to get all of the grounds put away.

Still watched. 

Thinking that she was needing attention, I pet her black head gently then reached into the freezer for an ice cube, and returned to stirring the coffee and the iced tea.

She finished her ice cube, wandered out, and back.  Sat down and watched.

About the time that the coffee was ready to be poured, the washer beeped for attention.  I put the mats into the dryer, pressed start and walked back outside to the kitchen.

I was able to gather everything up and walk to the big green chair, start the little HP laptop and chug through the beginning of the morning job search routine.   179 web pages, opened in tabs, in five browsers.  Tomorrow being Saturday, that count doubles with the weekly search.

Getting through the first set of 35 pages, I was watched the entire time.   I’m wondering why she managed to squeeze her nose in between my left leg and the chair.  Now the toys begin.  First the Rattling Cat was dropped on my left foot.  This was followed by the squeaky plush cat.

I bent down grabbed the cat and shook it and flung it out to the room.

Lettie chased it, and I am wondering what has gotten into her? 

Going back to the search, I manage to get to the second 35 pages.   She’s now got a pile of toys at my feet as I am shaking things and tossing them out for her to fetch. 

I got up and made mug number two of coffee. 

It was this time where my morning haze shook off.   We’ve been home for around an hour.  The first mug of coffee kicked in, now we’re alert.

The Dryer beeped.  It was only now that I realize why Mrs Dog was trying to get my attention.  There were no dog mats for her to sleep on and watch me from afar.   She had put herself down before on the floor and that was normal but less preferred. 

I grabbed the dog mats from the dryer, walked them into the bedroom, and set them on the bed while laying one swiss-rolled towel down for her to use.  One paw on the end of the roll, she triumphantly unrolls it out with the other front paw and plops herself down.  

Just as the water for the second mug of coffee is whistling in the tea kettle, I walk out to plop a tightly folded mat next to the bouncy chair for her to figure out how to make herself comfortable.

I guess all of this is Problem Solving in a Border Collie.   The problem was the human forgetting.   After all, it was 6AM when the mats hit the washer, almost 8 when they were done, and 9 by the time I realized what was going on.   But anyone who thinks that there is such a thing as a dumb animal has never gotten in the way of a border collie’s routine or never walked back into the house after a short spell to be greeted by a parrot’s chatter saying hello, loudly, repeatedly.

I’m still picking up the toys.   I’ll have to move the Kong since they’re in dog’s view.   If not, I had better be ready to put some peanut butter and a cookie in there.  If not, we’re going to have them dropped on my left foot again. 

Over and over.  And then I’ll be stared at.  Always the staring…

Call Center Humor From Velma

I was walking around the house today chuckling at having done this and that and remembered a conversation I had with a good friend Joe.   Joe was a Programmer who worked with and for me for 7 years, great guy who is highly capable. 

We were talking about how we’d be on the phone with the directors of the end user departments helping them through for sometimes over an hour or two at a shot.  They preferred it that way, and while it was sometimes best to walk out of the office to do a face to face, it would always make it rain.

Every time my end user from Purchasing, No’een would come up to my office, without fail it would be an epic downpour.

Velma sent me this joke about Help Desk and Call Center humor.  Some of these situations I’ve actually been through.  Others I have watched.  Enjoy!



Actual call center conversations!

Customer:     ‘I’ve been calling 700-1000 for two days and can’t get through; can you help?’
Operator:      ‘Where did you get that number, sir?’
Customer:     ‘It’s on the door of your business.’
Operator:     ‘Sir, those are the hours that we are open.’
Samsung Electronics
Caller:      ‘Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?’
Operator:  ‘I’m sorry, sir, I don’t understand who you are talking about.’
Caller:    ‘On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC wall socket and telephone Jack before cleaning.  Now, can you give me the number for Jack?’  
Operator:  ‘I think it means the telephone plug on the wall.’
 RAC Motoring Services
Caller:       ‘Does your European Breakdown Policy cover me when I am traveling in Australia ?’
Operator:  ‘Does the policy name give you a clue?’
Caller (enquiring about legal requirements while traveling in Europe ) ‘If I register my car in
France, and then take it to England,do I have to change the steering wheel to the other side of the car?’
Directory Enquiries
Caller:  ‘I’d like the number of the Argo Fish Bar, please’
Operator: ‘I’m sorry, there’s no listing. Are you sure that the spelling is correct?’
Caller: ‘Well, it used to be called the Bargo Fish Bar but the ‘B’ fell off.’
Then there was the caller who asked for a knitwear company in Woven.
Operator: ‘Woven? Are you sure?’
Caller:  s.. That’s what it says on the label — Woven in Scotland …’
 On another occasion, a man making heavy breathing sounds from a phone box told a worried operator: ‘I haven’t got a pen, so I’m steaming up the window to write the number on.’
Tech Support:      ‘I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.’
Customer:             ‘OK.’
Tech Support:      ‘Did you get a pop-up menu?’
Customer:             ‘No.’
Tech Support:      ‘OK. Right-Click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?’
Customer:             ‘No.’
Tech Support:      ‘OK, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?’
Customer:            ‘Sure. You told me to write ‘click’ and I wrote ‘click’.’
Tech Support:      ‘OK. At the bottom left hand side of your screen, can you see the ‘OK’ button displayed?’
 Customer:             ‘Wow! How can you see my screen from there?’
Caller:  ‘I deleted a file from my PC last week and I just realized that I need it.  So, if I turn my system clock back two weeks will I get my file back again?’
This has to be one of the funniest things in a long time. I think this guy should have been promoted, not fired. This is a true story from the WordPerfect Helpline, which was transcribed from a recording monitoring the customer care department…………..
Needless to say the Help Desk employee was fired; however, he/she is currently suing the WordPerfect organization for ‘Termination without Cause.’

This is Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee. (Now I know why they record these conversations!):

Operator:         ‘Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?’
Caller:              ‘Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect .’
Operator:         ‘What sort of trouble?’
Caller:              ‘Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.’
Operator:         ‘Went away?’
Caller:              ‘They disappeared’
Operator:         ‘Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?’
Caller:              ‘Nothing.’
Operator:         ‘Nothing??’
Caller:              ‘It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.’
Operator:         ‘Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?’
Caller:              ‘How do I tell?’
Operator:        ‘Can you see the ‘C: prompt’ on the screen?’
Caller:              ‘What’s a sea-prompt?’
Operator:         ‘Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?’
Caller:              ‘There isn’t any cursor; I told you, it won’t accept anything I type..’
Operator:         ‘Does your monitor have a power indicator?’
Caller:              ‘What’s a monitor?’
Operator:         ‘It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV.  Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on?’
Caller:               ‘I don’t know.’
Operator:          ‘Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where
                         the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??’
Caller:              ‘Yes, I think so.’
Operator:         ‘Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into the wall..
 Caller:              ‘Yes, it is.’
Operator:         ‘When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?’
Caller:               ‘No.’
Operator:          ‘Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and  find the other cable.’
Caller:               ‘Okay, here it is.’
Operator:          ‘Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back of your computer..’
Caller:               ‘I can’t reach.’
Operator:          ‘OK. Well, can you see if it is?’
Caller:               ‘No..’
Operator:          ‘Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?’
Caller:               ‘Well, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle — it’s because it’s dark.’
Operator:          ‘Dark?’
Caller:               ‘Yes – the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.’
Operator:          ‘Well, turn on the office light then.’
Caller:               ‘I can’t.’
Operator:          ‘No? Why not?’
Caller:              ‘Because there’s a power failure.’
Operator:           ‘A power …. A power failure? Aha. Okay, we’ve got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and  manuals and  packing stuff that your computer came in?’
Caller:                ‘Well, yes, I keep them in the closet..’
Operator:          ‘Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it  up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.’
Caller:                ‘Really? Is it that bad?’
Operator:           ‘Yes, I’m afraid it is.’
Caller:                ‘Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?’
Operator:          ‘Tell them you’re too damned stupid to own a computer!’

Basic Searches in Windows 7

A good friend, and a client of mine last night caught up to me when I was at City Hall.

He had a problem that many people have and that is too many files get lost in oddball places.  Sure it makes sense to have all your pictures in one spot, but then you end up having a Pictures directory in your Libraries in Windows 7 that is a mess.  If you are like me, you end up having lots of little folders sitting in that Pictures directory with names on them. 

So how do you find those oddball files that got “misfiled”?  You know, the lost ones that we all have, that got tucked away in strange places.

This posting today is going to be mostly pictures.  So since a picture is worth 1000 words, I’m going to have 4000 or more of them.

This is a picture of my desktop with almost everything removed.   Way down in the task bar there is an icon circled.  That is the icon I have on my taskbar for “Computer”.  You can find the same program that the icon represents by clicking on the start button, then selecting “Computer”.

After you have selected that icon, you will see this window pop up. On my computer the default is to show your Libraries.  Not to worry, we won’t be looking at those since we’re going to look for lost files basically “everywhere” on your C drive.

Click once on your C Drive on the pane to the left.  On this picture the spot you want to click on is labeled “Local Disc (C:)”.   I really should label the disc something more creative, but this works.
The arrow is pointing to the search box.   In the Search Box, type the kind of file you are looking for.  In this case, type “jpg”.  Once you do that, Windows will immediately begin to search for your little lost files.

The search will run.  You will know when it is done by the green bar going away in the file directory name toward the top.   While this is going on, you can make the icons you see larger or smaller by clicking on the little icon just under the Search Box.

That’s about it.  The basics that is.  There are other tricks you can experiment with.  This is a special folder at this point where you can grab all the search results and move, rename, or delete them so you may want to be careful.  It’s an easy way to move a lot of lost files into one place if you have a mind to.

Behold Chiphenge!

From the movie A Fish Called Wanda:

[Otto is torturing Ken by quizzing him on Nietzsche and sticking chips up his nose]
Otto: Guess I’ll have to ask you an easy one, eh, Ken? OK. Um… Let me think, let me think. Um… Where are the diamonds? I’ll give you a clue. Somewhere around the airport.
Ken: I’m n-n-n…
Otto: No hassle. There’s plenty of time. I’ll just sit here and eat my chips till you tell me. The English contribution to world cuisine: the chip. What do the English usually eat with chips to make them more interesting? Wait a moment! It’s fish. Isn’t it? [Dipping into the fish tank with a net] Oh! Here, boy. Down the hatch. [Eats the fish] Delicious!
Ken: You b-b-b…
Otto: Better eat the green one? OK. What’s this one’s name? Well, not Wanda, anyway. I’m going to call her Lunch. Hello, Lunch. Hello! [Eats the fish] Ew! Avoid the green ones – not ripe yet.

Every time I have Fish and Chips, I think of the movie A Fish Called Wanda and the exchange I quoted above.

Then, after a smile, I start stacking the chips up to make Chiphenge. 

Chiphenge was my being silly one day when I wanted Fish and Chips.   Tired of soggy boring chips, I started stacking them up.   When once I went to Fish Sticks, I ended up building structures of Fish Sticks like Lincoln Log Cabin from a freezer in Maine that would somewhat collapse while cooking.

At least the food would get more air around them and the breading on both the fish and chips would be a bit more crispy without overcooking them.

Now it has become an open joke with me.  When it is time to make anything remotely fishy or chippy, it ends up getting turned up and stacked like pallets in a warehouse to see how tall I can get them.

At least Chiphenge is crispy on both sides instead of Not Chiphenge which is kind of mushy on the bottom.

So Behold Chiphenge!  A Superior method of building… chip towers! Amuse your family! Annoy your friends!  Turn Lunch or Dinner into a game for your Four Year Old and build towers out of food!

Banana Bread with Pecans and Chocolate Chips Recipe

The problem with buying a “bunch” of bananas is that you always end up with some that get all mushy.   I got tired of eating them like that, so I started hunting for a simple Banana Bread Recipe.  I found this one that I could make in the Bread Machine.

First, the ingredients.  I will list them in the order I put them into the bread machine bucket.  The reality is that if you make Banana Bread, it makes a batter that can be poured into a bread pan and baked or that can be made into some mindbendingly good Pancakes.  It’s all carbs, basically junk food, and good for the soul but don’t fool yourself that this is “healthy”. 

I did say good for the soul.  🙂

2 Bananas, Peeled and Halved lengthwise
2 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Add the bananas to the bucket of the bread machine.  Turn it on “knead” or “dough” and let it run until the bananas are smooth as you like.   I was able to puree them to a liquid consistency without lumps, but some folks like lumps.

When the bananas are at the desired consistency, add the remaining ingredients to the bucket of the bread machine while it is still stirring.   Add the ingredients one at a time and allow them to blend fully before switching to the next ingredient.   The Flour should be added slowly at a couple tablespoons at a time until fully incorporated.

After the flour is fully incorporated, begin adding the pecans and the chocolate chips. 

Once they are mixed in, stop the bread machine.

It is at this point that you can pour the batter out to bake in the oven. The rule of thumb is 350F for 30 minutes, or 400F for 20.  Mind you, this recipe is for a Bread Machine, so you will want to experiment with time and temp until your toothpick comes out clean in the middle.

If you are going with the Bread Machine, restart the machine on the regular cycle.   The picture you see is what I got on the Dark Setting.  This will yield a 1 pound loaf (plus the weight of the pecans and chocolate chips).

Here is where I say Pecans and Chocolate Chips are Optional, but are Chocolate Chips ever really optional?

The results were amazing.  I would say that the bread machine I have worked its magic on the batter well.  I always cut a layer off the top for my “reward for hard work” and it was fine.  There was a nice gooey clot of Chocolate Chip melt just under the crust.  On the other hand Your Mileage Will Vary.  Like any recipe, you will want to experiment with time and temperature to make sure the results are what you want.

For me, I think Dinner will be a slice of this bread with Peanut Butter and Jelly.  I may as well have a gooey carbo load for that meal too.

Help the Animals by Casual Gaming

Ok, we all play games from time to time.  Even I do.

If you hop onto Solitaire while you are waiting for a phone call, or just reach the end of your rope and play a little minesweeper to “clear your head”, you are a casual gamer.

You know, it’s that quick “Just Five Minutes Before I Go” kind of game.  Play a quick bit of Bejeweled on your phone in the bathroom or on the bus, you are a Casual Gamer.

Ok, I’ve done that sort of thing.  I’ll admit it an it’s a lot more productive than sitting at a PC looking angry or starting up FreeCiv and playing for hours in “background”.

If you are on Facebook, you can play casual games there, and they will donate to animal causes like feed and shelter.  The nice thing about it is that if you can get to facebook, you can help a furry friend while doing something you would be doing normally.

I just discovered this while hitting my daily clicks for The Animal Site, and thought I should share this.  So I’m nagging everyone to give this a shot.

I’m also one of those people who laughs at Farmville addicts and all those other games, so this is really quite out of character.  In fact, I block any of the normal social games on Facebook since I have WAY too much reading to do to keep up with career development sites and technology bulletins that float past all day, as well as posting things for my own duties here as Social Media Director for Wilton Manors Main Street.

Anyway, folks, I’ve been clicking on the links for The Animal Site for quite a while.  You should consider doing it too, but if you don’t want to do it there, you can follow my lead.

The Link for the description for the Casual Gaming is here, and you can read all about it.

If you are on Facebook, this link will take you directly to the page to “like” it.