Does Your McNab Dog or Border Collie Respect Ownership?

My dog is a shelter dog.  I got her when she was a year old.  She had been trained then abandoned at 6 months, stayed in the shelter another 6 months.  The numbers could be off, nobody knows for sure.

The posting on Petfinder said she was an amazingly smart girl, and I was not ready for how smart she was.

The breed is most likely a Purebred McNab Dog, although there may be some Border Collie in her.  We doubt the Border Collie, but either way, she’s smarter than anyone in the house, even the people some days.

Any active and intelligent dog needs exercise and mental stimulation so I have to walk her 3 times, 1 mile each per day.  Luckily I live near shopping centers and bars so she gets to talk to the people she so loves.

When I get home, I have noticed that her behavior is probably the most respectful I have ever noticed with any dog.  By respectful I mean that she knows what is hers, what is mine, what is ours, and she will not deviate from the norm.

For example, most people who have Huskies know never leave food out.  If you do, your faithful dog will grab that off the plate you set out and enjoy it.  It is their nature.  My Lettie has never exhibited this trait.  She used to put her paws up on the counter until I told her (loudly) not to, but only to watch.  I keep her dog food, Purina Lamb and Rice, in the bag on a chair, freely accessible to man and beast.  There is nothing to stop her from waiting until I’ve gone out or gone to sleep and pull the bag off the kitchen chair perch, spill its contents out and eat until she’s full and then some.

The difference is that she knows that the bag is mine, but the cup I feed her twice a day is hers.  The bowl is ours since I am able to move it away or add things to it as I do sometimes due to my own needs.  She simply will not eat from the bag although she knows clearly by her behavior what is in it.

The other thing I have noticed is that the mat is hers.  She has five different mats that are in circulation, like the one in that old picture.  She will sleep on anything resembling a mat, so I have learned not to leave clothes on the floor as well as papers or else they’ll end up coated in black and grey fur.  As she is getting older the mat transitioned from ours to hers.   She’s getting territorial about those mats, especially late at night when the house is preparing for sleep.  I’ve gotten barked at by simply going to hang up my clothes so I have decided that we’re going to share ownership – it is time to take back possession of those mats.

Since I do not believe that slapping a dog is anything more than violence, the path that is taken is a more passive or even passive aggressive one.  I wait for her to get on the mat and then I sit down next to her.  It is a direct challenge to the behavior and sometimes I get a show of teeth and a grumble. 

She is not a young dog at this point, her arbitrarily assigned birthday is Thanksgiving and this year will be Lettie’s 11th birthday.  Behaviors are slower to change especially since she’s getting selectively deaf.   Especially at 11 at night.

Last night we had one of those sessions, she sat down, I put my arm over her without touching, then pet her head gently as the fearful side came out and she showed teeth.  Eventually she thought “I’ve had enough of this” and walked out of the room.   After my calling to her while I had not moved, she walked away.

With a quick “Good by” I closed the bedroom door.  My Door.  For the next hour she would sniff at the door, lay against it, even pawed it once to check if it were open, but nothing aggressive since she did not own the door.

An hour later when I went out to grab a small bit of water, she met me coming out of the bathroom wagging her tail furiously.  As if to apologize, she slipped into the room past me, ran to the mat and sat down pawing at the air beckoning me to approach.  All was forgiven for tonight, we hugged on the mat and on the floor and all grumbles forgotten.

So in writing this, I have to wonder whether your McNabs and your Border Collies and other intelligent dog breeds have this entertaining quirk.

If you are considering an intelligent breed like those or a Standard Poodle, German Shepard Dog, or Australian Shepard, remember you are committing yourself to years of intelligence and getting a friend who will constantly surprise you with their learning ability.  If your intelligent breed dog fails to do something you like, it is more likely the human’s fault and not the dog’s.

Since these dog articles are widely read (some of them every single day) even almost 2 years after being written, feel free to write your thoughts, I’d be interested in seeing them.  I promise not to close the door!

The Update Treadmill – Software, Phone Home!

Ever notice that you spend a LOT of time clicking on that “helpful” update function when you’re using that computer? 

It isn’t just Windows PCs, it’s all of them. 

You see, it’s a function of the one stop shopping syndrome we have in software.  It used to be that software was small, light and fast.  It did one thing and did it well.  It had the features you needed to get the job done and it didn’t have a lot of things you really did not need.

What has happened is that many programs have grown to add features.  It’s called Feature Creep, Feature Bloat, or Code Bloat in the industry, although each of those terms means something slightly different.

I’m going to be a little generous with my definition here, precision in the English that I’m using isn’t strictly required in this context.

When I was sent this graph as a joke, it immediately struck a chord.  I use PDF to print very often.  Most days I will print out my first document before 730 in the morning, and may print out another 10 documents without thinking about it twice.  All of this goes to an electronic file format instead of a piece of paper.  These images are stored in a central place for me, specifically to a 16 GB chip that I keep in the side of my trusty laptop.  I can pop that chip out and slip it in my wallet if I need to, but for the most part it stays cozy in the side of my little computer.

Adobe seems to be one of the worst of the “Update of the Day Club”.  The others that get me are Java and Microsoft.   I start the computer and more days than not, I am clicking “OK” to update a piece of software because someone had found that if I click on a certain thing, in a certain esoteric situation, someone could cause me to have a virus.

I think I updated Java 6.26 easily 20 times before I told it ignore this particular update. No, the update didn’t “take” and I hardly ever use the beast to begin with!

Nice to know they are watching for errors, but it would be better if some of these “necessary features” weren’t there to begin with.

For the most part, complexity causes problems, whether it is in software or whether it is in a car. 

The best approach is “Lean and Mean” when it comes to computing.  I practice that when I have bought cars as well, simplicity being something that frankly is impossible to get any longer.   When is the last time you saw a new car with crank windows?

I’m not saying that all the frills should not be available, I am saying that they should be there upon request.  


When I got this laptop, I immediately installed the applications I felt I had to have.  That took the better part of a week to get set up, and I am an exception to the rule since I need so many pieces of software to be able to do what ever it is that I do in the course of the day.

The solution is to take the approach that some of the Linux distributions have – only install what the user (that’s you) specifically requests. 

Most of us use Microsoft Word to write documents.  It used to be free, and the practice killed the market for most other large suites of software by being given away on a new computer.  Now that the software suites have been killed off (Remember WordPerfect or Lotus anyone?) Microsoft charges $100 or more for Office, of which one part is Word.

Now if you do use Word, ask yourself when was the last time you needed to merge a database with a document in order to process an email blast?  How about Excel?  When was the last time you needed to do a Pivot Table? 

I’ve done both recently, but again I am an exception.

That complexity is maintained because you May Need That Some Day, and you did pay for it.

Fair enough, but some day that will have to be fixed again.  After all, someone somewhere figured out how to break your computer by inserting a virus via a web page.

So go patch your software, run through Microsoft Update and let them fix your existing problems.  It is a necessary evil.  That is why they call it “Patch Tuesday”.

Oh and if you surf a web page and click on a shortened link, remember that if I have to pay a housecall to fix your PC, you had better at least have good beer and be damn entertaining!

A Hunt for a Cure For Writer’s Block with Photography

A Picture or 1000 words?

Not today.

Actually, I’m always on the look for new things to take a quick picture of.  It has been said here many times, you should always take your camera with you since you never know what you will see.

Being involved with web development, sometimes it is much easier to decorate a blank page with a background picture and use less text.  It’s a style question – what does the owner want the page to look like.  There are similar concerns in home decoration, construction, urban design, as well as many others.

Maybe that last paragraph should be “decorate a blank page with a background and useless text”?

Depends on how cynical you are.

With the tools at hand to someone who has the means to use them, or simply the open source and free tools I am fond of using, you can do some intriguing things with those pictures.  Reduce the opacity of a picture so instead of it being bright and in your face, that beautiful frame is now more background and subtle.

Grab just a section of something, shrink it, spin it, invert the colors, then use it again as a watermark.  Add text and you have your basis for creation, your digital canvas is complete.

On this particular picture, I was standing outside at the 6pm dog walk following after my dog.  Instead of grabbing the plastic bag, I managed to grab my camera instead.   The light was just right to make an interesting texture out of her sunlit side.  It was shimmering in the sunlight, and I thought I might like to see what that looked like close up when I am not dealing with sun glare. 

So what I have there is a bit of a Hair of the Dog Cure for Writer’s Block.  I may even sneak it into a web page in the future, you never know where my dog will show up.

Top Ten Reasons Why Men Prefer Guns Over Women

I just KNOW I’m going to get heat for reprinting this one but I had a chuckle out of it so here you go…

Oh and check out Reason Number One 🙂

Top Ten Reasons Why Men Prefer Guns Over Women

 #10 – You can trade an old 44 for a new 22.

 #9 – You can keep one gun at home and have another for when you’re on the  road.

 #8 – If you admire a friend’s gun and tell him so, he will probably let you try it out a few times.

 #7 – Your primary gun doesn’t mind if you keep another gun for a backup.

 #6 – Your gun will stay with you even if you run out of ammo.

 #5 – A gun doesn’t take up a lot of closet space.

 #4 – Guns function normally every day of the month.

 #3 – A gun doesn’t ask , “Do these new grips make me look fat?”

 #2 – A gun doesn’t mind if you go to sleep after you use it.

 And the Number One reason Why Men Prefer Guns over Women…..

 #1 – You can buy a silencer for a gun!

A Hamburger, Fries, and a Coke – Humor

I’ve gotten this one a couple times from people, so it’s overdue to being shared.  

A man walks into a restaurant with a full-grown ostrich behind him.
The waitress asks them for their orders.
The man says, “A hamburger, fries and a coke,” and turns to
the ostrich, “What’s yours?”
“I’ll have the same,” says the ostrich.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order. “That will
be $9.40 please.”  The man reaches into his pocket and
pulls out the exact change for payment.
The next day, the man and the ostrich come again and the man
says, “A hamburger, fries and a coke.”

The ostrich says, “I’ll have the same.”

Again the man reaches into his pocket and pays with exact change.

This becomes routine until the two enter again. “The usual?”
asks the waitress.
“No, this is Friday night, so I will have a steak, baked potato and
a salad,” says the man.

“Same,” says the ostrich.
Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, “That will be $32.62.”

Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and
places it on the table.

The waitress cannot hold back her curiosity any longer. “Excuse me,
sir. How do you manage to always come up with the exact change
in your pocket every time?”

“Well,” says  the man, “several years ago I was cleaning the attic and
found an old lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered
me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything,
I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money
would always be there.”

“That’s  brilliant!” says the waitress. “Most people would ask for a
million dollars or something, but you’ll always be as rich as you want
for as long as you live!”

“That’s right..Whether it’s a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact
money is always there,” says the man.

The waitress asks, “What’s with the ostrich?”

The man sighs, pauses and answers, “My second wish was for a tall chick
with a big ass and long legs who agrees with everything I say..”


They Thought It Would Be Safe On My Porch – Picture

Yesterday was Hurricane Irene.

As it marched its way through the Bahamas leaving destruction in its wake, it was more of a rain event here.  There were three distinct bands of weather that came through.

First the outer band came through right after I got back from the dog walk at 7AM.  That was when I noticed that my windowsill had this particular visitor.  I’m used to seeing Geckos and Lizards on the house, sometimes climbing the walls, sometimes climbing my leg outside when I’m gardening.  In fact, they’re so common and so frequently climbing people’s calves when they’re gardening that a gecko on a leg is a common tattoo around here.

The second band came and stayed around Lunchtime.  In fact, the first was the bow shock that precedes a storm, whether it is a hurricane or just a vigorous front, the second band was the storm itself.  A few gusts and a lot of rain for a couple hours, we were lucky.

It lasted so long that when I took my breaks, I’d let the dog come with me onto the porch and I’d stare at it like a chicken in a barnyard.  While I remembered to keep my mouth closed so I didn’t drown, I noticed that the house was covered in lizards and geckos.  In fact there were an inordinate amount of the little things all over the porch. 

Each time I’d step out, I’d herd them away simply by my presence, and my dog would help them on since one of her favorite things in life is to do just that, chase geckos.   They would return when I went back inside to my dry room, each in their own temporary territory, some on the window watching me, others on or behind the stones that are on the front porch.

Later in the afternoon, the last band came through.  It was that trailing bow shock that curved directly over the house.  The cloud was so dramatic that just before the skies opened up for one last blast I had to come out to see.  The lizards were still there, watching from my porch and waiting for me to go back in.

Any port in a storm, even a porch will do.

A Lanai full of Hurricane Prep – picture

Not to minimize what the people of the Bahamas are going through, but it looks like Florida dodged the bullet. 

Looking at the forecasts here, we decided to pick things up in the yard and get them under the Lanai as you can see here.   I didn’t want my prized Mango Tree or my Banana Tree in a pot to get damaged, so they were the last things to get under cover.

There aren’t any major effects predicted for South Florida, but there are in other places.

I haven’t been able to listen to the radio from the Bahamas all morning but this link will give you their TV Feed if you want to see what happened there.  All in a wonderful Island Accent. 

For those of you up Good Luck and someone please check in on my Aunt Betty?  She’s 92 and on Long Island and right in the path of this thing!

Hurricane Irene Links

Oddly enough, I haven’t collected a lot of links.  The ones I found originally after moving here have proven to be fairly stable and reliable. 

While the whole of the Eastern Seaboard is looking over it’s collective shoulders, the storm is predicted to stay mostly out to sea at this point with landfall in New England after clipping the outer banks.  All it takes is a wobble and that could change drastically.

The Florida Natives and Semi-Natives here tell that Hurricane Andrew was originally going to hit Downtown Fort Lauderdale but wobbled at the last moment and had landfall 40 miles south in Homestead.   It then erased the town for the most part. 

The original path for Hurricane Irene was basically coming ashore for a visit to Coral Gables and then a trip up I-95.  That would have been a serious problem for the economy here as it would have hit as a strong Category 2. 

Luckily for us, it’s chewing up the Bahamas, and now is expected to clip the outer banks as a Cat 3, then visit Providence RI.  Not good since Narragansett bay will funnel all that storm surge water into the downtown areas then the storm will roll west of Boston.

Maybe it will wobble east again, we can hope.

At any rate, my links are:

Obviously the weather channel website for general info for your area.

There are three other sites, all Hurricane focused.  They are all not considered “official” sites, however they have all had good links to the official sites as well as some good commentary – without the hype.  I tend to ignore the local TV and Radio stations since they get paid by keeping you there and spoon feeding you fear.

The first is FL Hurricane.  This is the one that I tend to hit first since it usually has all the graphics in one place.  There usually is a commentary about any active storms, a graphic link to the existing storm, and maps that you can play around with.

Hurricane City is another weather “enthusiast” site.  On this site there is a lot of commentary and back story.  It’s got some links to historical data and sometimes they go on with a “radio” or a “TV” broadcast on the site.  If your curiosity is raised about a past storm, I’ve seen links on there showing the track of the storm center complete with a helpful google maps plot.

Finally there is the Hurricane Watch Net.  This site is run by the Amateur Radio groups and has more of an emergency feel to it.  If you still have a shortwave radio in the house (I do) you can tune into the emergency frequency and listen in.  Their focus is “this” storm, not the older ones.

If you have any other links that are promising, feel free to add them in the comments. I’m always willing to surf another weather site.

For now, if you will excuse me, I have some wind chimes and other outside stuff to get stowed.   They’re predicting steady winds of 25MPH with gusts.  Not really a big deal, but if we were to get a “microburst“…

Summer Sunrise over Wilton Manors – Picture

In the morning, taking Mrs Dog out for her morning Drag, I am fortunate enough to be able to see the sunrise come up over the ocean.

With crepuscular rays rising west from the beach between the distant hotels, and grey and gold cotton candy clouds greeting the watchers, it only takes a viewer to behold them.

These days, the sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular.  Of course these clouds may rain on us, wash the dust off of the streets, and send us for cover.  How bad can it be when the rain is as warm as you would adjust a cool shower in your own bathroom.

The walks are slower than they had been, but longer.  Mrs Dog is tolerating the heat less these days, I’m needing the distance to pretend that I’m getting exercise.  As long as she’s able, she’ll be brought around town.  She’s the “Canine Ambassador for Wilton Manors to Snowbirds” it seems, greeting everyone with a wag and a sniff. 

Who knows whether she appreciates the morning light show, I certainly do. 

Never having seen an Aurora in the Northern Skies, I’m content to see the Florida mornings shimmer and turn the sky from grey to gold, then to white and blue.  The tail end of the summer has so far been a gentle time with flowers in bloom and afternoon thunder and lightning shows to entertain those who get to watch them. 

Not For All The Tikuanyin Oolong Tea in South Florida

Since I was a teen when Diane Cottler took her son Dan and I to my first Chinese Restaurant, I have preferred Oolong Tea to any other.

There is a different taste, more woody, more body, not quite as sweet as the common teas that are drank in the United States as well as elsewhere. 

This tea is also not quite as common as the mass market tea.  Having gone through some times where it was difficult to find this tea in supermarkets and tea shops at a reasonable price, it’s been a habit to pick it up in bulk when it’s found.

This weekend was the great tea quest.

Having gone to a shop that had this tea down in North Miami Beach we originally got one tin of this.  The tea was in large tins, 500 grams, or around 18 ounces for just under $13.  You’ll pay that for 2 ounces at that posh and overpriced tea shop in the mall, or a little less at a supermarket.

The picture is deceptive, these tins are rather large, and the calligraphy and the art on them is appreciated.  There are a couple of the tins around from prior purchases because they’re too nice to recycle.  This particular tea seems to be something of a specialty item within a specialty item.  Tikuanyin Oolong has it’s own processing methods and it’s own fan base.  I seem to have stumbled onto something really good and drinking it for a common iced tea.

Starting on our way back from lunch at Ikea on Saturday, we turned off on the wrong road and headed North to find the orignal shop in Oakland Park.  Unfortunately we were about 4 miles west of Oakland Park on the wrong side of the turnpike in “OTP” land – Over TurnPike land – or Out There in East Naples.

After laughing at our wrong turns and finding the first shop, we went in expecting my familiar brown tins but these Beautiful Brown Tins were nowhere to be found.  Since these places are almost always What You See Is What You Get, we left scratching our heads.  I insisted that it wasn’t necessary to drive down to Hollywood or North Miami Beach “just for tea” and I’d do it on my own on Monday.

Not to be inconvenienced, I was told we’re going to Hollywood and that’s that.

Not one of my favorite trips, mind you, since driving to Hollywood means going through some of the more questionable areas of Broward County.  The signs of a bad neighborhood on SR7/US441 were around us and it would have even been obvious to a tourist that it wasn’t exactly somewhere to be after dark.

As we descended into “Police Women Of Broward County” areas, we arrived at shop 2.  They were usually predictable about their supplies, but didn’t have any.  Shop 3 was in the same center, and walking past the homeless guy sitting out front we found they were empty too.  Even he didn’t have my tea, and we figured out that the shops in Broward seem to have changed their suppliers.

Getting back into the car, we realized we were going to go to North Miami Beach, and the crowds on 163rd Street.

That meant going through more of those “Police Women” areas, and more stop and go traffic.  Checking the GPS on the phone showed that the most likely road wasn’t 163rd, but 167th street and since it wasn’t on my phone, I had to go on faith that we knew where we were going.

Not realizing that 167th became 163rd, we were going on hope that we were going the right way, but it was eventually found.

That particular store had a stack of 8 of the tins, and instead of buying them all up, we came home with the three. 

The trip ended up taking all afternoon.  By the time we got to shop 4 and found it, there was a constant mantra of “We Don’t Have To Go All The Way To Freaking Miami For Tea” and “Oh No, You Need Your Tea”. 

An interesting way to get to see parts of South Florida that the tourists don’t normally get to see, unless they’re hunting for tea.