Happy Birthday Pat

Happy Birthday Pat

I won’t tell them how old you are, and I haven’t used a picture here.  After all you haven’t sent me one to post here.  I could have grabbed one from Facebook but it’s for the best.   I don’t use my own here after all!

I’m sure Mike’s going to take you out for dinner at some point during the weekend.  I bet there’s going to be one of those cakes that you like to make that’s drizzled with caramel or chocolate squiggles of sugary goodness.

Keep Jonathan out of the icing until you’ve finished with decorating the cake.

I’ll make something over the weekend here, promise!  I haven’t sent any baked goods up there yet this year.  I’m working on some recipes for the holiday season.  The old standbys are good at any rate, you’ve said how much you like them.

The card’s in the mail, went out on Tuesday.  If it isn’t there today, my guess is Saturday or Monday.

Enjoy your weekend as I am sure you will!

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Firefox 7 Upgrade – One Day Later

In a sentence, So Far So Good.

I was having considerable problems lately with Firefox 6.  When I load my morning web pages, all 170 of them, I would get into “the middle” of the list somewhere and notice that things were bogging down.   It would slow.  Then it would just “stop”.

I would have a shock as I would now be looking at my desktop and a “helpful” bug reporter saying that it was time to restart my old session or just start over from scratch.   Since I would typically be looking through quite a few web pages all at once in a programmed order, of course it was time to restart.

Now granted it is only One Day Later, but so far so good.  I downloaded and upgraded Firefox 7 by going to their www.getfirefox.com link and clicked on the helpful green button.  I then launched the upgrade by clicking on the program from the download manager window within Firefox.   That is to say I clicked on it around 3 times since I got three windows starting.  Why I did that was because Firefox 6 was getting sluggish again and it was preparing to crash.  I don’t have proof that it was going to crash but it “felt like it was”. 

Not very scientific I know.

Having gone through my 170 pages plus other open links and a day of emails and other web silliness I can say it feels much more stable.  

Again, not scientific, but I was used to Firefox 6 crashing twice a day during that exercise.  

Firefox 6 was better than version 5 at returning memory to Windows 7.  Version 7 has returned more memory so that when I am through with my pages and I’ve spiraled down to the usual 20 tabs I keep open, I’m well below 1GB of memory in use.  Specifically I’m watching Firefox 7 use between 15 and 35% of the machine, 840Meg to 880Meg of memory on a Core 2 Duo.

I promise not to be so tech for my normally non-technical reader base.

Bottom line is that it seems like a solid improvement – so far.  I run a lot of Firefox extensions while the browser windows and tabs are up.  A weather watcher called Forecast Fox, an ad blocker and some others are always running.  I can’t live without “AdBlock Plus” and highly recommend it, and I have to check radar before the dog walk since I go far enough away in that half hour walk that getting soaked is a regular occurrence in the Wet Season.

I am happy I did it.

Some will insist on using Internet Explorer or Chrome.   I would uninstall Internet Explorer if I could, it just feels bloated and pudgy and with every version that comes out it introduces new annoying tweaks to the way things work.   Chrome may run faster but I have questions whether it isn’t phoning home to Google every time it runs.  It’s like driving through a part of town you don’t know with Chrome – you’re always looking over your shoulder. 

If it works for you, either of them, enjoy.  For now, I’ll stick with Firefox.   I am just more comfortable with it, I know what to expect and I’m enjoying the improvements.   It’s free and a painless upgrade – and it may actually be “pushed” out to you users of earlier versions of Firefox.

How Making a Mug of Coffee Trashed the Laundry Room

It started with grabbing the cheery red tea kettle off of the right front burner on the stove.  That’s it’s home, it’s place, and it gets a lot of use.

Boiling water to make the coffee caused a major problem – A Watched Pot Never Boils.  While the water boils, it gives me time to do what I usually do when I’m not actively baking, clean the place.   Remembering that the dishwasher was full and clean, it was time to empty the thing. 

By the time the red kettle screamed for attention, the bottom rack of dishes were placed lovingly in the cupboard, and the silverware caddy was on the counter waiting to be emptied.

Pouring out 2 cups plus one ounce for the grounds, the coffee was started along with 4 minutes and 30 on the timer.  One vigorous stir, and the coffee was on its way.  So was emptying the top rack of the dishwasher.

After a few more stirs, the coffee was brewed and all was right in the kitchen world.   The silverware had to be put away still but there was a later cup of coffee to be brewed and that would be in an hour.   Meantime there were emails to write, web pages to visit, and other online work to do.

When it was time, the heat was turned on under the red kettle, and the next mug of coffee was prepared.  While that happened the bright idea of emptying the silverware tray into the two drawers came to me.  You see that is the problem.   When we moved from that house in Philadelphia, we crammed two adults, a dog, a parrot and 1900 square feet of boxes, possessions, and treasures into an Old Florida 1200 square foot home, a 200 square foot Lanai, and a 100 square foot garden shed. 

If you’re from South Jersey you may remember the old slang term “Blivit”.  It’s appropriate.  See the lead definition.  You see we’re still emptying boxes from the move in 2006 and the little kitchen is about a quarter of the size of the one we had up North.

When I reached into that silverware drawer I was stopped.   There simply was no more room for knives.  The last time we were gifted with some steaks from an online steak place, they sent us a complete set of steak knives, un-serrated.  They joined the serrated sets plus two sets of stainless silverware plus the other backup sets that we had been given.

The tea kettle whistled that it had reached its boiling point and so had I.

I went into the laundry room and grabbed a large container that previously contained biscotti, crackers, and now was empty and began to store the “extra” knives in the container. It was big, it looked like a barrel and I couldn’t bear to throw the thing out because the plastic screw top lid was in perfect condition.

The barrel was now the new home of some rather nasty looking carving knives.

That did make a dent in it, so I went back into the laundry for a 1/2 gallon drink container and loaded up the shorter steak knives into that and set it on the counter.   We’ll use those and place them back in the drawer once they’ve been run through the dishwasher.   No sense in keeping 40 implements of terror inside of that little drawer.

Making the final stir to the mug of coffee I brought the barrel of knives into the Laundry that is rapidly becoming the Repository Of Extra Things Not To Throw Out and set it on a box on the washer.

That was when it happened. 

Unscrewing the lid that last long knife was slid in point first with the rest.   Being big and clumsy, which aren’t necessarily the same thing, I managed to drop the blue lid behind the dryer.

Swearing out an oath to Zeus, Dow Chemicals, and the Japanese that made these fine surplus cutting implements I pulled the dryer forward.

Funny how entropy and inertia work together.  The inertia of placing junk on the dryer from the front pushed the older junk back toward the wall and down into the Black Hole of Dryer Land.  The entropy of the situation caused all of that junk to fall into which ever inaccessible cracks that were most difficult to get at in that tiny space.

In other words, Brother Can You Spare a Reach?

Balancing on top of the leaning tower of junk that sits next to the dryer, it was possible to extract:

  1. 1 Electric Screwdriver
  2. 3 “Dog Bags”
  3. 1 Blinky Light
  4. 1 Box of Terro Ant Bait (I needed that!)
  5. 2 Dog Bandannas
  6. and the escaping lid.

This also caused another oath, this time to the Roman God Janus since the vent to the dryer had popped free of the mount on the dryer which would cause all that hot humid air to be vented directly into the laundry.  As everyone knows, that is Exactly What You Need In Florida:  More Hot Humid Air!

Remembering that had to be put right, I managed to put my bulk on top of the leaning tower of junk and realized that there was no way I was going to get all 6’4″ and 224 pounds of me between that little space and guide the dryer to dock with the vent pipe.

I wasn’t NASA and this wasn’t the Space Shuttle.

The high road was taken.   I began to unwind myself from this cramped spot when Entropy came up from behind and gave me a goose that caused the parrot in the next room to squawk.   You see, my faithful sidekick, Lettie, my Mc Nab Dog had decided that she’d nose the back of my leg.   This was the one that I was actually standing on, with the other leg being used as a counterweight.  224 Pounds of North American Male sometimes needs to balance.

The sweet thing didn’t know what she had done.

She unleashed the Pandora’s Box of the Laundry Room.

  1. The Cold Wet Nose of my faithful best friend hit right true behind the knee.
  2. The knee buckled from the unaccustomed cold.
  3. My bulk came crashing down on top of the tower of junk.
  4. The left shoulder nudged the big plastic bowl that keeps the dog walk gear tidy.
  5. The dog walk bowl pushed two shoe boxes full of collected computer parts forward…

Onto the floor it went.

On the journey since one thing never goes alone came two large towels, a ceramic plant pot full of old-but-useable batteries, a laundry soap measuring cup, and of course that big barrel of knives.

The dog had run out of the laundry room into the dining room out of harm’s way thinking she had done all of this, and I was now suspended just above the floor on my side trying to decide whether to laugh or yell. 

Opting for neither, I took the high road.  You see the trash truck was revving its big diesel engine to pick up the Tuesday Trash and the big blue bin was not out by the swale.  I extracted myself and went on my way.

Later the emergency was cleared by picking up the majority of the mess and leaving the dryer in place.  I’ll get help with that later.  By help I mean “Standing in the Kitchen Watching Someone Else Repair The Damage I Had Done”.

That blasted little room hates me!

Buster’s Orange

Having worked on the Jeep it was time to get some new fuses.   The auto parts store is only about a mile away, and Darth Jeep needed some exercise.

I was standing on the front porch, keys and faceplate to the radio in hand when I spotted them, Buck and Buster.   Buck is this guy who is friends with the new neighbor Jack who is watching the house while he’s gone.  Buster is the dog.   Specifically he is a fawn colored “Mixed Breed” puppy that is going to be a medium sized dog. 

Cute little thing, and lethal with the tongue.  He really should be called Buster Mc Licky since he’s one of those bouncy little things that feels it’s his job to lick you and every thing you are carrying.  Buster chasing geckos was more entertaining than the drive so it was time to watch that little bundle of unharnessed energy bounce around.  Buck on the other hand looked more confused than amused.  Confused since he had something so wild and playful.

Around that time Buster spotted me from the next property over and decided it was time to pull Buck with him.  Buck was a powerful man, probably as heavy as I am and solid.  Having a little bit of a puppy at five months pull him onto the yard was more a show of how gently Buck was treating the little guy than anything else.

I had stepped down into the carport and was behind the Jeep when they got to me and after a few fractured sentences, Buster spotted the new toy.  A partially ripened orange that had rolled off the tree this morning was on the ground.   He pulled from the collar and pranced around with this puppy sized fruit, the size of a small tomato, and decided it was his.

Now it was time to corral this little tawny bundle of energy back into the collar, but the problem was that he was just way too fast for big Buck to handle so the little dog ended up deciding it was time for belly rubs.  At that point all was well, the collar was back, the orange was forgotten and we were on our way.

Coming back home, minus Buck and Buster, plus 10 fuses, the orange was still sitting forgotten in the yard.  It must be just the right size for a dog because when it was time to take its picture, my own Lettie decided she wanted to handle it too.  She knows what an orange is so I was a bit surprised when she picked it up off the chair with her mouth, then flipped it in the air and dropped it.

One last sniff, it came to rest in the middle of the living room, forgotten, she needed her attention from me and I was happy to oblige.

How to Have Your Pizza And Diet Too

Sometimes you just have to shrug and say go for it!

Paraphrasing Ferris Beuhler aside, that’s what I wanted for dinner.

I’m watching my weight, and have been since I was 19 years old.  Lately I noticed that the formerly baggy cargo shorts weren’t quite so roomy any longer and needed to act. 

The result was two months and two weeks later, 10 pounds lighter, and the shorts fit better.   I still need to get more pairs since Cargo Shorts are almost formal wear in South Florida for 10 months out of the year.

Almost.  Not quite.

So after making this pizza and thinking that the calorie count was obscene I decided to sit down and count calories.   It turned out that my mental estimates and my spreadsheet were fairly close.

Yep, I’ve been counting calories long enough to qualify as being mental.   When I was skating 2000 miles plus a year it was irrelevant since I had some days burned more calories than I took in. 

A second slab of Chocolate Cake? SURE!

I haven’t been on the skates for a while, South Florida may be good for casual skating but for distance Philadelphia was heaven with its trail from the Liberty Bell in Old City to Valley Forge and out to Reading PA.

So it was time to shave a few calories off the diet.  By the time I was through I cut my maintenance diet of 3000 calories a day to 2000-2200 a day and managed to lose that 10 pounds in 10 weeks.

When Saturday came along I just shrugged and said I Want Pizza.  It was either the local Humpy’s Pizza or I was going to make one.

Making one won out and it really isn’t tough.  There’s a Pizza Dough Recipe that I have been using for more than 10 years that Pat gave me.  Make the dough in the bread machine or in a mixer with a dough hook.  Allow to rest for 30 mins, roll out, rise for 30 minutes while “decorated” with ingredients.  Cook at 525 for 9 minutes (plus or minus).    My oven doesn’t really know what a stable temperature is so I have to guess but the results are above.

That calorie count?  I’m a big guy so 1/4 of that full cookie sheet was dinner.  I used the spreadsheet and counted the calories out to be 3384 for the pie, so that means Dinner on Saturday was 846.  Dough was 1400 Calories alone.  Three Cheeses – Mozzarella, Feta and Parmesan.

Ok, so Sunday either I didn’t really do well with the diet but there’s always Monday!

Oh and there’s none leftover.  It was too good since I had the other two slices on Sunday.  The other half was all cheese no onions or mushrooms.  Subtract 20 calories per meal for that half and it is gone too.

Just in case you were curious… Oh and it was amazing the second day too.  Just use a skillet heated medium.  Put it cheese side down until the cheese melts.  That grease will let you flip the slice then fry it until crispy on the bottom.

Yum.

The reality is that if you want a really GOOD pizza you either have to find a really GOOD restaurant or do what I did.  Make one from scratch.   It isn’t that hard to do, and I will fill you in with one very important secret:  Always.  I mean ALWAYS use fresh basil.  Trust me on this one.  You will thank me later.  Just snip the leaves into the sauce and go heavy with it.  Basil does not add many calories (it wasn’t even listed on the package) and it’s a wall of flavor that you will love.

Sex and Good Grammar – Humor

One of the pleasures of living in this bizarre little city of Wilton Manors is listening to Diane Cline and her off color jokes.  She’s one of the few folks around who I know can always be counted on to come up with a story or joke and tell it to break the ice of a difficult moment.   Diane had sent me this one among others.

On his 74th birthday, a man got a gift certificate from his wife.

The certificate paid for a visit to a medicine man living on a
nearby reservation who was rumored to have a wonderful cure
for erectile dysfunction.

After being persuaded, he drove to the reservation, handed his ticket to the medicine man, and wondered what he was in for.

The old man handed a potion to him, and with a grip on his shoulder, warned,

‘This is a powerful medicine. You take only a teaspoonful, and then say ‘1-2-3.’

When you do, you will become more manly than you have ever been in your life, and you can perform as long as you want.”

The man was encouraged. As he walked away, he turned and asked, “How do I stop the medicine from working?”
“Your partner must say ‘1-2-3-4,'” he responded, “but when she does, the medicine will not work again until the next full moon.”

He was very eager to see if it worked so he went home, showered, shaved, took a spoonful of the medicine, and then invited his wife to join him in the bedroom.

When she came in, he took off his clothes and said, “1-2-3!”
Immediately, he was the manliest of men.

His wife was excited and began throwing off her clothes, and then she asked, “What was the 1-2-3 for?”

And that, boys and girls, is why we should never end our sentences with a preposition, because we could end up with a dangling participle.

An Actual Personals Ad – Humor

I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I have been getting this one from a number of folks.  The first person who sent it to me was Kevin, so thank him for this bit of humor…

Or blame him.  

Either way here we go!

AN ACTUAL PERSONALS AD
To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me in Downtown Savannah night before last.

Date: 2009-05-27, 1 :43 a.m. E.S.T.

I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend’s purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I’d like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn’t expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket.. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason.. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 …45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head … isn’t it?!

I know it probably wasn’t fun walking back to wherever you’d come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I’m sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again].

After I called your mother or “Momma” as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you’d done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, — on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!

I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go’s, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]

I then threw your wallet into the big pink “pimp mobile” that was parked at the curb ….. after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver’s side of the car.

Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what ‘s going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA’s office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target .

The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc..).

In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you … but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you’ve chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky.

Have a good day

Thoughtfully yours,

Alex