Camilla The Chicken In Space

You know, sometimes you read an article, and you scratch your head and say “huh?”.

That was what happened to me and I had to research it further.

The story that I read on the BBC a while back was about a woman in England who is knitting a sweater for a rubber chicken that gets sent up into space every time the Solar Dynamics Observatory is launched by NASA.  Nice to have a dear Gran there to knit you a sweater even if you are sent to space in the name of Science.

It was never really explained why this chicken, named Camilla, was sent up there.

Having had my nose in web pages I assumed it was all about making sure the colors are calibrated and brushed it off.

After a bit, I reread the posting and thought that it really didn’t explain why we were sending a rubber chicken up into the stratosphere and beyond.

Heading to a search engine, I dutifully followed through and learned the story.

It’s a Mascot whose chief duty is Public Relations.

Now it is all clear, and that’s great.  After all why wouldn’t a mascot be a Rubber Chicken?  In Philadelphia, the Phillies use an Aardvark for their mascot, and a green one at that.   Aardvarks are not green, nor do they live anywhere near Philadelphia, PA.  Typically, Aardvarks are from Africa, although knowing the Philadelphia Zoo, I suspect one or more lives there near the train tracks in West Philly.

Why not take a flight of fancy with a rubber chicken?

Now, of course if you’re going to send your rubber chicken into space, you’re going to want to dress for the weather aren’t you?  After all it gets quite cold at night when you’re orbiting the Earth.   When the spaceship comes back into the sunlight, it’s going to get quite warm and you’re not going to want sunburn are you?

Poor little Camilla the Chicken.  You’re giving your all for science!

The reality is that she won’t be strapped to the side of a satellite, apparently.  It’s not completely clear but it looks like they’re going to send her up in a weather balloon and have a look around at the curvature of the Earth next.  There are plenty of videos about that particular project done by others, and if you have about 7 minutes you can see the kind of project they’re going to perform on this video below.

Showing your PC on the TV

Believe me this isn’t as tough as it sounds.   Granted, I have been doing this sort of thing for years.  Back in the stone ages of the Pentium 3, to put your PC video out on the TV it took special cards and special cables.   Now all of that is built in and almost standard.

What got me thinking about this was two things.  I have a couple friends and clients.  Some of them have vision problems.  If you have a vision problem, often making something larger will help.  I know that since I’ve been using reading glasses for a while now.  The other thing is that sometimes it’s just nice to watch your laptop on the big TV.  After all who doesn’t like a video of a dog trick or a kitten being cute at 46 inches or more?

These days there’s something called HDMI.  It is used for a lot of things like connecting your DVD or BluRay player to the TV.  In my case, I can use HDMI to connect to the TV directly and with a couple button presses I’m looking at my little 12 inch laptop on the 46 inch TV.

Never mind that typically where I sit across the room in TV Viewing Position, the laptop is larger than the TV.  Remember objects further away are smaller after all!  Yep, I made my little 12 inch laptop look larger than my big 46 inch TV by simply sitting 10 feet away.  If I move closer that changes.

That’s exactly why I do it.  When I have someone over to do a web presentation, I sit them on the couch, myself on the Poang chair facing them with the laptop on my lap.  We’re comfortable with a glass of Iced Tea or Lemonade, and we discuss what changes need to be made.  It’s all rather friendly and civilized.  Much easier than sitting around an old computer monitor.

Now how I do it is pretty simple.

1) I have a bunch of HDMI sockets on the back of my TV.  Since I don’t need 4 of them, one is always available for me to work with.

2) I have a 25 foot long HDMI cable that I picked up online.  If you are paying more than $10 for an HDMI cable, I need you as a client of mine since you’re willing to pay too much for things.  Go online and search the major retailers.  Trust me, you’ll find things cheaper than buying at the big box store.  This is the kind of item that keeps those big box stores in business.  I just clicked “buy” on a 6 foot HDMI cable from and paid a whole $1.49.  Compare that with Best Buy’s price for $24.99 plus tax.

Yes, I do know Purchasing, and Procurement and I do know who is a ripoff.

3) I have a laptop with an HDMI socket.  With Windows 7, the laptop simply “knows” something has been plugged in and will share the video through the HDMI socket when it is plugged in.  Mac works similarly, but typically has an adapter that you have to use.

4) To make it all work it is pretty simple:  Plug the $1.49 cable into the TV, then into the HDMI socket on the laptop.  You may have to find your remote that is under the pillows on the couch for the TV and press the source button.  The HDMI Source you will want will be labelled on the back of the TV where you plugged the cable in for your laptop. 

5) Enjoy.  If it doesn’t show through the TV then you’ll need to check into the settings on the laptop and make sure it actually is sharing the video out.   Since that varies between video cards, I’m going to let you figure that one out on your own.

Now, why did I write this?  Well, you see, I sent an HDMI cable with my friend when he went home to Key West last time.  Once he finds that, I want him to go through the steps.  That way he’ll have his laptop all nice and big.

Oh, and if you need an idea what these things look like:

HDMI Cable with Connector is here.
HDMI Connector is here.
HDMI Socket is here.

1000 Published Posts

When asked about this blog, I am most frequently asked why do I write?

Dunno, felt good at the time.
Gives me an outlet for creativity.
I like to share my thoughts.
It helps keep my Sister up to date with what’s going on.
I can do my Technical Writing here.
It is entertaining to me.
It can be entertaining to others.

All of the above.

This is my 1000th posting.  That’s a lot of writing.

I’ve done a post a day, every day since September 13th, 2009.  Who knows how long I will keep this up?  Someday my priorities will change, I’ll find my time used up by other things.  This typically takes about a half hour a day on average to do.  I don’t write every single day since I do tend to post jokes sent to me on Saturday and Sunday.

Since I’ve never actually gotten paid for any of this writing, I could easily walk away with a shrug.  It wouldn’t be the first time that I volunteered for something I found interesting and stayed with it for a long time.  My own personal philosophy is find something you enjoy and look for the long term results.   When I got into inline skating with everyone else back in the 1990s, I continued until I skated 21,000 miles. 

Long term.  Besides I enjoyed that as well.

In any of these round number pat on the back posts, you always have a list.  

Here’s my top 10 postings of all time.

  1. Gold Medal Flour Extraordinary Biscuits.
  2. Morning Rain Brings Barky Showers.
  3. Hotmail Annoyance – Turn Off Keyboard Shortcuts.
  4. Willie T’s Bar Key West Picture.
  5. New Post, New Month, Last Picture.
  6. Merry Xmas, Here’s Your Sign!
  7. True Story – 2 Duck Hunters in Wisconsin.
  8. Parking Hours Discussed at the City Commission.
  9. GFS Marketplace Review.
  10. Ikea Poang vs La-z-Boy Barnett Reclina-Rocker Review.

Seems like people like Biscuits, My Dog, are annoyed with Hotmail, Like Willie T’s (I’ve got to go back), Jokes including City Commission, GFS, and my Chairs.

Happy Memorial Day

Well Folks, I’m taking a break.

Got through the Morning Routine early after getting up at 5AM and taking Mrs Dog for a drag up and down Wilton Drive.

So now, I’m sitting in the chair thinking of what’s going to happen today.

There’s a big ball of Bread Dough rattling around in the Bread Machine waiting to be taken out to rise and make Rolls for dinner.  Take this recipe from my Sister Pat, and divide into 10 parts for some of the most amazing 150 calorie rolls you’ve ever had.

Cookies will be made today after the bread is baked.  It’s going to be a busy afternoon.  I have never actually posted that particular recipe, but I have written about it.  Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies.  They’re a winner and you’ll have to take my word for it.

Of course there’s the last minute cleaning and vacuuming that has to happen as well.   Having spent the weekend making Tomato Pie Sauce that works amazingly well as a spaghetti sauce doesn’t leave the house clean.  That’s another one I haven’t written about, although it was from another web site that I’ve lost the link for.  I’ll have to add a reminder for that one, it’s really quite good and completely from scratch.  Oh, and it’s not only vegetarian, but vegan, so if you aren’t into that, toss in something to beef it up.  We don’t and it isn’t necessary.

Lisa and Billy will be coming over from across the street for dinner.  Billy’s bringing some Kebabs to make on our grill and we’ll be enjoying their company tonight for dinner and chat.

So whatever you do and whoever you it with, enjoy your day.   I know I will.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’ve got a bread machine beeping at me.  The first batch of dough is ready to come out of the machine to be made into rolls to rise for a couple hours.

See Ya!

Baby Planes – Humor

I’ll let you in on a secret.  I haven’t been on an airplane since the 1990s.  Hadn’t had a need and since 9/11 I saw any desire to go anywhere get blasted away with a strip-search scanner of little worth installed at the airports. 

Thanks, I’ll drive and if I can’t I won’t go.

However, there was this story that was sent to me by Kevin that I thought I would share…

A mother and her young son were flying Southwest Airlines from Kansas City to Chicago . The little boy, who had been looking out the window, turned to his mother and asked, ‘If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don’t big planes have baby planes?’

The mother, who couldn’t think of an answer, told her son to ask the flight attendant.

So the boy went down the aisle and asked the flight attendant, ‘If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don’t big planes have baby planes?’

The busy flight attendant smiled and said, ‘Did your mother tell you to ask me?’

The boy said, ‘Why, Yes, she did.’

“Well then, you go and tell your mother that there are no baby planes because Southwest always pulls out on time. Then, ask her to explain that to you.”

Ouch – Humor

Ok, Diane.  This one is from you.  Perfect, because when I think of the stories you tell in meetings and everywhere else that are so looked forward to, they’ve got this certain tone to them.

Oh and this particular one does have a bit of a painful feel to it.

A little old lady was walking down the street dragging two large plastic garbage bags behind her. One of the bags was ripped and every once in a while a $20 fell out onto the sidewalk.

Noticing this, a policeman stopped her, and said, “Ma’am, there are $20 bills falling out of that bag.”
“Oh, really? Darn it!” said the little old lady. “I’d better go back and see if I can find them. Thanks for telling me officer.
“Well, now, not so fast,” said the cop. “Where did you get all that money? You didn’t steal it, did you?”

“Oh, no, no”, said the old lady. “You see, my back yard is right next to a Golf course. A lot of Golfers come and pee through a knot hole in my fence, right into my flower garden. It used to really tick me off. Kills the flowers, you know. Then I thought, why not make the best of it?

So, now, I stand behind the fence by the knot hole, real quiet, with my hedge clippers. Every time some guy sticks his thing through my fence, I surprise him, grab hold of it and say, ‘O.K., buddy! Give me $20, or off it comes.’

“Well, that seems only fair,” said the cop, laughing. “OK. Good luck!

Oh, by the way, what’s in the other bag?” 

“Not everybody pays.”

Atlantic Hurricane Season Starts June 1

Here we go Florida, and the rest of the tropics.

It’s going to be a “near normal” season with up to 15 storms.
Up to 3 major storms are predicted but keep in mind, the tropics are a very large area. 

I’m hoping for a Fish Spinner and nothing else strong.

You can read the background from the BBC Here.
You can read the National Hurricane Center’s information page Here.
Weather for Wilton Manors and the big neighbor Fort Lauderdale is at this link.
A very fast local radar for Wilton Manors is at this link.

The rule of thumb that I will be following is to keep two solid weeks of water and food per person on hand.  While the state of Florida has passed a law requiring Gas Stations and Supermarkets to have generators on hand, I’d prefer not to depend on that.

You can choose otherwise.

Make sure you have enough water and food on hand for your pets.  If you’re taking care of yourself, remember those who can’t take care of themselves, whether human, furred, or feathered.

Of course, you’ll be eating all this food come December 1 when the Season has ended.  I still have a little Mac and Cheese from 2011 that has a little life left in it.  I’m drawing down the frozen foods and slowing down my usual Baking here to make sure that I don’t have a power outage that would make me lose hundreds of dollars worth of food.

Reminds me I have that Pork Tenderloin in the freezer that will be made into Carnitas next week.  If that sounds good, check the recipe on my blog from a while back.  Just add all the ingredients to your crock pot and press go.  It’s a winner of a recipe!

Now if Doom and Gloom, Duck and Cover, and all this hype gets you down, you may need a hug.  So click on the video and you will get one.  It’s quiet and safe for all viewers and even work.

Can’t Open a Wine Bottle? Here’s Help!

Ok, I’ll admit it.

I am that guy that you never want to hand your wine bottle to.

I will shred the cork.
I will leave bits of cork in the bottle.
I will break the corkscrew off in the cork.
I will cut myself on the shards.

Oh yes, all of that has happened within the last couple bottles of wine that I have tried to open.

There’s a reason why I tend to drink beer when I drink, which is to say, infrequently.

It’s a shame since I really do enjoy a glass of Port as a treat.

But there’s help here in this video.  Unfortunately for most of my readers, it is in French.

However, if you have all of what this guy’s doing, you can open a wine bottle without a corkscrew.  After all, he’s French and they know their wine.  Just don’t tell them that according to most connoisseurs, including those in France, on average, wine from California is better.   Shhh, they’ll pout.

First, you need a solid wall.  None of that drywall crap.
Second it must be done horizontally.  You can’t do this on your counter.
Third, you need a proper “solid” heel on the shoe.
Fourth, after all that, it may not work because it depends on your bottle being of “just the right shape.

So entertain yourself with this video.  He shows that it works, and I’ll attempt it some day when I’m feeling confident.  Don’t try it with Champagne.  Not even a little bit… unless you video your results! 

It’s helpful to know your neighbor’s commands for the dog

As I was sitting in my chair, I had on the noise cancelling headphones.  Playing into my ears was some “Uplifting Trance” from an Armin van Buuren set.   Just like on this video…

In fact I’ll do one better – here’s the video that I am listening to now.

Yes, folks I listen to a lot of trance, and Armin van Buuren is probably my favorite DJ currently.  He’s helped me skate 21,000 miles keeping the tempo up.  That beat is right about the speed that I hit the pavement with each roller blade when I’m up to speed.

The music is playing in my headphones, and while they’re cheap, they’re effective.  $3 for headphones that were better than the Sony ones that are really quite good.   Noise cancelling headphones at this level will get rid of most of the background drone, mute the random noise in the environment some, and really make it difficult to hold a conversation while music is playing.

Just ask Kevin.

In fact, I find that I listen to music much softer now that I have these headphones simply because I don’t need to drive the sound louder than Wilton Drive, I-95, and Federal Highway in the distance, and the parrot accompaniment is missing since it just isn’t loud enough to get an Oscar Singalong.

Puttering through my tasks I see someone walk past the front window on the street.  Hi, Jack!  It’s my neighbor.  He keeps going not knowing he’s being seen, and I go back to my routine.

About five minutes later it starts.  Bark.  Bark, bark.  BARK! WOO WOO WOO!

Up goes Armin’s music a little louder.  BARK BARK BARK!

I think we’ve got a bored dog BARK!

That’s the problem with outdoor pets.  They would prefer to be with you.  No matter what you’re doing they’re entertained.  When you leave, the little mental stimulation you give them is gone as well. 

Needless to say I’m against outdoor dogs in an urban or suburban environment.

At this point, 30 minutes later, after having listened to “You Belong To Me” singing over the dog, I decided it was time for another one of my talents.


I’ve gotten very good at being a mimic, both human voices and other sounds.

Walking to the bedroom window that is closest to the porch where the dog likes to be, I open it slightly.  BARKBARKBARKBARK! 



(pause) BARKBARK!


Having dropped my voice a register in a passing imitation of the owner, the dog is confused but…




I’ll have to mention this to Jack.  He’s really a very nice guy and I don’t think he knows this is going on.  Plus I bet he’d be amused at my off-key imitation of him saying SHUSH!

I guess Buster got tired of barking and assumes Jack’s over here.

OOBE and Desktop Support

I’m doing something we call “Desktop Support” this week.

It isn’t strictly speaking, Desktop Support since I am working with some 5 year old laptops, but the discipline is the same.

When Kevin came back from Key West, he brought back two computers that needed some help from someone who I do some occasional work for. A friend and in this case a client. He gets these machines about every six months and when I go down there, I set them right. I don’t mind helping him out since we’ve known each other for quite a while.

It was easier this way since he’s due to come up here – or I’m due to go down there soon. I could use a week off my quirky little island, and Key West is a fascinating place, although it’s losing a lot of that wonderful Conch flavor since the locals are being edged out and it’s changing into a combination “1% and day tripper” compound.

The first computer wouldn’t see the internet. I fixed that in five minutes – the little switch that controls Wifi was turned off. After I updated antivirus to Microsoft Security Essentials, and all the software, it’s been set aside. Got to do all this sitting in my comfy chair while watching the TV.

The second one was the trial. It may or may not have a bad hard drive on it. Starting the machine took about a half hour and then it would go “zombie” on me. Meaning it would forget it was a computer and just not do much other than run the clock and make the mouse move very slowly. I was able to grab the personal items from it and put them on the other laptop so the decision was made to completely reload this beast.

See that is where the Desktop Support comes in. It’s a 17 inch monster that will level your tables and hold down papers in a hurricane.

It also needed me to start it on its way for that reload.

5:30AM I was up, clicking on the button saying “Next” to load Windows Vista onto the hard drive before going out for the dog walk.

Yes, Windows Vista. Every Tech Guy’s least favorite current operating system.

Oddly it seems to be taking to that machine fairly well. The load took about the same time as it took me to walk Lettie, feed both her and myself, then sit down with the coffee to click through some buttons.

The problem is that I had the “Oobe Experience”.

I’m not used to home computers. I have never actually gone to a store and bought a computer retail. I’ve always gotten computers meant for the “corporate” market which means the extra software that was installed was a minimum.

This is an HP and apparently HP is well known for putting “crapware” on their computers.

Or at least they did when I started with this HP a year ago.

When you load a computer with a “retail” or “OEM” copy of windows, you get just the operating system. Period.

When you get a computer from the store meant for the home market you get all sorts of icons on the desktop that the manufacturer was paid to put there by the website or software company.

When that computer gets to me, I remove them all. No questions, they’re gone.

Why? Well all that crapware takes up space and slows you down.

When I started the computer the first time this morning, I didn’t expect it to even work, after all I suspect that the hard drive is failing. It took me about 30 minutes to come up to a desktop since all those pieces of software were coming up, demanding attention, begging for my contact information, and generally being a nuisance.

I’ll be removing all of that later. Toolbars on browsers first, since we all seem to live with browsers and the operating system is more of a background thing. I’ll be getting rid of Norton, Ebay, HP Games, MSN, Sling Box, Microsoft Office Trial, and a few others.

After all, it’s Vista. If you want to speed up a Vista computer, here’s a hint – remove it and install Windows XP or Windows 7 depending on how comfortable you are with either. I’d say Windows 7 since I’ve grown to like it but I know of a few folks who still have XP and don’t want to change.

If it becomes mine, it’s getting LinuxCentOS or Ubuntu are excellent choices, and I could use a proper Linux Server here.

One more “helpful hint”. When you are installing new software, always, I mean ALWAYS, take the “expert” or “Advanced” or “Custom” install. You will find out that you have the choice to not have the “Ask Toolbar” or the “Yahoo Toolbar” or the “Google Toolbar” added to your browser. They just slow you down and spy on what ever you are doing anyway – you simply do NOT need them.

Now why the video of the little lamb?

 It’s cute. Enjoy.