I am Rack, Who Are You? – Picture

For no other reason than the camera was in reach. 

Rack was slinking around the house.  Looking bored and looking like he wanted attention but wasn’t sure how to ask.

After he didn’t leave with 5 minutes of petting him, I hooked a finger under his collar.  Bending down to pick him up, I think he was more surprised than anything else.

New things scare the dog, routine is best.

He made it up onto my grey shirt and settled in immediately.  Eventually he did get up, more from my needing to get rid of a glass of Iced Tea than anything else.  A solid hour of him sitting on my lap while I watched some documentary on the TV.

Not bad for a fearful dog who hides when the trash truck drives by.

Next time I’ll try an Animal Documentary.  Dogs do like to watch other dogs and other animals on TV.  The last time I watched a bit of fluff about dogs, the house was quiet.  Since he was being curious and there were no distractions, he walked over to the screen and sat down in front of it.  The dogs were running around a street being trained, and it looked like he was wanting to join them.

Our very own little black and white puzzle.

Houseguests and Rack the Shy Dog

Believe it or not, I didn’t intend to write about my dog again today.  On the other hand, I’ve got a house guest. 

David had arrived from Key West for his vacation, first in two years.  This means that the normal routine of running a house has been changed.

Rack, on the other hand, is a rather rigid puppy.   He just doesn’t like Change.

I had that pointed out to me by David.

When David first walked in the door, Rack was on his mat in the living room.  That day we had just had dinner with Billy and Lisa from across the street for Memorial Day.  Nice folks, and a great meal.  Beef Kebabs and all the trimmings.  In fact, I think there’s still some leftover for lunch today.

Billy and Lisa went back home, and I puttered in the kitchen getting the dishwasher ready.

Rack being the Stealth Dog, sat quietly on that mat of his.

The door opened.  RwooowoooBARK!

He still looks confused when he does make a sound.  The next thing he does is to look at me as if to ask if it was OK for him to do so.

We then got David settled and realized we were minus one dog.  He ran into the bedroom to hide from the new stranger.

This has gone on all week.  David gets up, Rack watches.  If David surprises Rack by walking around the corner unnoticed, he’ll get grumbled at and the evil eye. 

He may not be a proper watch dog, but he certainly is getting the point across.

David has a habit of going out back to smoke.  I won’t have any sort of smoking in my house, so that’s the bargain.  I even push the popcorn popper out the window in order to keep the smell outside.  It makes the neighbors want some coffee as well.

We noticed that Rack is an opportunist, as well as being Shy.  He would walk out to the back door, a double sized glass sliding door, and watch David from afar.  He’s a Shy Sly Dog.  When David gets too close, there’s a scrabble of paws on the floor and 39 pounds of black and white McNab Dog come flying into the main part of the house.

If he’s feeling bold, he’ll go to the mat and give everyone an evil eye then settle down.

If he’s not, it’s into the crate.

Routine is especially important when you have a young dog, or a new one for that matter.   Having house guests breaks routine.  I’m forever emptying the sink into the dishwasher or putting the lid down on the toilet.

I can’t stand the thought of a dog drinking from a toilet when a full bowl of water is in the kitchen.

So routine has to wait a while, much to the annoyance of Mr Dog.

He’s not even given free reign of the house when it is empty because he can be a chewer.

That and when I got out of the bathroom today at 5:30AM, I was greeted by a dark house and a dog on my bed.

Off!  That won’t do.  No Dirty Dogs on the Bed.   I know where you walk!  You don’t know where those feet have been!

Silly mutt!   I know you feel safer with me nearby, but I’m not sharing the bed with you.  I take too much room as it is!

And Then Suddenly… MONSOON

Did you know that when a dog shakes water off themselves, the water starts peeling away from the head first and works its way down to the tail?

If you are in just the right spot when that happens, once in a very rare while, you may see a rainbow.

Even more rarely, it can happen before sunrise.

If the first thing you are aware of is the rain on the shutters and open your eyes and see that it is 4:45AM, you are probably going to be wet.

Even if you check the radar, you’re probably going to still get wet.

You see that is how my day started, in a nutshell.

The rain woke me up, and that’s normal.  After all, it is Florida.  It is the Wet Season.  I am two miles away from the Ocean.

What wasn’t normal is that I sleep with earplugs.  Can’t hear a bloody thing.  Ok, yeah I can, but it’s all muted.  Makes for a nice quiet sleep though.  That is until the rains start, then all bets are off.

So reach for the phone and check in on radar.  Oh great, there’s a gap in the storms that will happen in about an hour.

Cat nap.

Managed to get the dog fed and out the door for the beginning of the walk.  The umbrella still works, the one that I’ve had since the 1980s when I worked in Center City Philadelphia and there was a front coming through that one day.  Suburban Station had a gritty quality about it, but it was always crowded and sometimes you can find some things you REALLY need while waiting for the R8 Chestnut Hill West to come in.

I had managed to get as far away from home as we were going to get.   There was absolutely no traffic on the road, so we began to cross Wilton Drive.

Right in the middle of the Drive, like a light switch, the rain began.   There is a Behind The Scenes video of the old Gene Kelly movie “Singing in the Rain” where you see them simply turn on the rain.

That was what we saw.

Rack actually looked up at me as if to say “Are You Nuts”.

That was when he started walking faster.  He did enjoy the rain, it was a more of a prance than a walk, but we moved as quickly as possible.

Both were drenched by the end of the block.

Head to toe, even under the umbrella.   Take a fire hose and turn it on.

At that point, just as quickly, the rain turned down from “eleven” to zero.   It stopped.

Standing just at the right spot, Rack began to shake.  The water flew off his fur in spirals.  That was when the light of the street lights caught my eye and I noticed that there was actually a rainbow from water catching the reflections.

Not content to allow us to enjoy this spectacle, the celestial rain director decided to mess with us again.   Monsoon.

Onward and upward.   We were nearing the house.

Of course this would be the time for the next gap in the storm.   Sure, lets have a surreal wet season.  Either feast or ramen.  Just in time to get to the house, the rain faded to nothing again as if with a light switch.

Sure enough, the rainbow happened again with a vigorous shake on the driveway.  Rack doesn’t really seem to mind the weather.  His main joy in life is to get out and bound around in the walk. 

So if you’re going to be sodden, at least look for the rainbows.  May as well, the dog will, and it’s going to rain whether you want it to or not.

So What Do You Do When Email Is Broke? Outlook.com is broke yet again. Grumble.

How many email accounts do you have?
How many do you actually use?

In my case, there’s:

Hotmail has my main Personal
Outlook has one that I haven’t migrated to but there’s a “cool” email name
I have my own domain I need to get tied into something
I have two gmail accounts – one for the tablet and one that I use for spam.
There is one for the Board that I do social media, newsletters, and web development for.

And there are others that I don’t really use for email like webmaster accounts and the like.

I really should make an effort to write that stuff down and pare it down.

Sound familiar?

I don’t text.  At all.  Simply don’t see the value.  If you want to get in touch with me, I have a perfectly serviceable cell phone and you can call and leave a message.   If I have spoken with you before, I’ll answer.  If you’re a recruiter, leave a message at the tone…

What got me started on this rant?

Getting up early, after the morning mile and a half plus with the dog, I settled in to coffee and spam.  Just like many other people, I had to check my email.   There was a friendly reminder from my chat client, Pidgin, that said I had 27 emails. 

Yes, since last night.

That was split between the hotmail account on “outlook.com” and the professional one on yahoo

Except as usual, Outlook.com was broke.  That’s why it was in quotes up there. 

Ever since Hotmail forced me to convert to Outlook, it has been utter rubbish.  They are trying to change with the times by making it have that Windows 8 look and feel that most who see it say “What on Earth are you thinking, it’s so UGLY!”.  My own experiences with Windows 8 were so horrendous that after a month or so of trying to force it to work, I uninstalled it and with back to Windows 7 where I have been ever since.  I needed to get things DONE!

Ok, that’s just me, I don’t like big ugly blocks that look like a sign from the Seattle mass transit signs.  They don’t work on a laptop with limited screen size…

Been there, ranted about thatMicrosoft is trying but really most people don’t want blinky blocks, they want to get things done.

No, it’s more from the angle that waking up early and expecting something as old school and admittedly simple as email should “just work”.

Outlook.com does not “just work”.

On the average of two or three times a week, OK how about 2.7 times a week, it presents me with a message asking me to reload the web page.  That’s more like a demand from a petulant two year old, but until I reach up and hit the handy F5 key to refresh the web page (go ahead, it works, I’ll wait), I’m stuck.

(welcome back).

This morning I was presented with the message:

Sorry, there seems to be a problem with Outlook right now

The message you selected could not be found. It may have been moved or deleted. Please click the folder again to refresh the view.
See, Outlook is so horrible that it even breaks the page formatting on my blog!
Bottom line though is pretty simple.   It’s free, and you get what you pay for.
If you don’t like Outlook.com, you can go to gmail.com or yahoo.com and get a mail account there.   I have them, many folks do.  
I don’t use email from my cable internet provider, Comcast, because I didn’t like the way their interface was either, plus there was a time that I went off of Comcast.  That didn’t work out, and I came back, but I did want something simple and “independent” so I stayed with mostly hotmail.
Since nobody tends to have Just One Computer any more, and email is done just as much from a phone (you know who you are), that adds another layer of complexity to things that I just haven’t solved for myself other than sticking to what I have.   Simply because I can get to a web browser from any computer, and most phones, to answer my email, it makes it more bulletproof for me.
Bottom line is that choice gives you complexity, but if you really want to complain about email, you’ve got to actually pay for it.
Damn Outlook.com.

REM Sleep? No thanks, I have a Puppy!

It’s going to be a tough morning.  Where’s that second mug of espresso?

Yes, it’s a training issue.  Or more likely, an issue of someone sleeping all day so they’re awake all night.

Of course I’m talking about my puppy, Rack, who do you think I’m talking about?

Naw, it’s the dog.  In fact, I’m sitting here watching him sleep right now.   Of course he’s sleeping right now, the sun is up, the birds are singing, the parrots are screaming, and the winds are coming off the ocean. 

Oooh Riptide warning! Let’s go swimming!

The whole ritual of going to sleep gets complicated when you have a puppy, and also have “things”.  What kind of “things”?  Anything chewable.   Soft toys are fine since there are his toys and there are my toys which are also His.  If it’s in reach, it’s a toy.   Remember that stress ball?  Gone in a flash.  The Pooh Bear you had since you were five?  Gutted and poofs of stuffing all over the place.

Ok, the Pooh Bear I made up. 

Yes, he likes to chew soft toys.   Especially when he’s bored.  Good thing right?  He’s finally learning to play with toys.  Better than last week.  Last week is why he still sleeps in the crate.

Last week he chewed the tiles on the floor.  You said it, I have tasty tasty ceramic tile floors.  Beige must taste nice once or twice.

Caught him doing that once so now we know that he’s just “not ready” to sleep outside of the crate.

Now why would that be a problem?   Puppy.  One word.

Not enough?  Ok a few more words:  Puppy Separation Anxiety.  Specifically at 2.30AM.

So the dog’s crate is in the master bedroom, 4 feet away from where my head rests on the pillow.  That stopped the whining.   The crate door is open, he can come and go as he pleases, but the room is blocked so that he can’t leave and can only get into an area that’s as big as a queen sized mattress.

Long way to go for a setting to a story wasn’t it?

Yesterday we had to go out.  Errands to be done, after all there is a pie chilling in the fridge.  Locking Mr Dog up in the crate is just the way things are. 

Yours Truly?  I have a soft spot.  Feeling guilty, I loaded up the Big Kong up with goodies.   It’s a red rubber octagon that the dog has to work to get the goodies out. 

He had his fun with the Kong while we were out, but there were still a few things in it since he is still small.   Too small to bite down to get the stuff out.   Lettie would find the opening of the toy, clamp her mouth around it and tilt the head back while biting.  Amazing to see, she’d get a mouth full of goodies in a heartbeat.

So much for the Lets Use The Kong To Keep The Dog Busy theory.

Rack doesn’t really know how to do this, he is just learning how to play after being a shut down dog.

He also thinks the perfect time to start playing with a rubber ball inside of a crate is 12:30AM.

For a solid hour it was a repetitive lick lick lick on the ball.  That would rattle the crate.  The crate would rattle my cage.

So if you think I am groggy, it’s because the Honey Cinnamon energy drink hasn’t kicked in after the morning espresso. 

But the Kong?   Well it’s sitting in the living room, quite a long way away from that crate.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to nod off now…


A Guy Goes to the Doctor for a Respiratory Ailment – Humor

A guy goes to the doctor for a respiratory ailment

He says he’s been coughing day and night for a week. His throat hurts all the time and he can’t sleep.

The doctor examines him and notices he has a very distinct cough. “You’re in luck,” the doctor says. “Your illness is rare, but I happen to know of an excellent treatment for it. It may sound quite strange to you though, so please bear with me for a moment.”

The patient coughs again. “I’ll try anything, doc.”

The doctor sits down across from him. “About two years ago I read a remarkable paper from a colleague of mine. There’s a little-known resort town in Florida that’s built up a boardwalk along the ocean as an entertainment destination. Like a smaller version of Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier. Anyway, one of the attractions there was a very small zoo. Only a few animals, but some happened to be members of the great ape family. The veterinarian who took care of these apes noticed that they had unusually healthy lung capacity. He compared test results with other zoos all around the world, even in the apes’ native countries. Nowhere else did they have healthier lungs. And while it hasn’t been conclusively proven yet, I believe the sea breeze in this one specific area has some kind of cleansing effect on lung tissue. I’ve recommended to several patients that they spend a week-long vacation there. Everyone who’s done so has come back and told me that they had a fantastic time and their condition has cleared up 100%. How does that sound?”

The patient rubs his chin in thought. “Sounds better than cough syrup,” he admits. “Though I gotta say, I’m not too keen on traveling to any place known for its gorilla wharf air.”

Three Guys Jogging meet St. Peter – Humor

 Three guys are out jogging and they turn a corner and are hit by a truck, killing all three.

They are then standing in front of St. Peter at the pearly gates. St. Peter asks the first one, “How many times did you cheat on your wife?”

The first answers, “Honestly, at least twice a week, every week that I was married. I just couldn’t help myself!”
St. Peter says, “We know, that’s why you get a moped to ride around Heaven with.” The guy jumps on the moped and rides off.

To the next, St. Peter asks the same question. The second answers, “While I was married, only twice did I ever cheat on my wife. I hated myself afterwards. Please forgive me.”
St. Peter says, “We know. That’s why you get a Cadillac to drive around Heaven with.” The guy shouts, “Woo hoo!” and jumps in the car and drives off.

Before St. Peter can say anything, the last guy holds up his hand. “From the moment I met my wife, no other women existed!”
St. Peter says, “We know, that’s why you get a Lamborghini to drive around Heaven with.” The guy jumps in the car and drives off.

About a week later, the guy with the moped sees the guy with the Lamborghini sitting on the side of the road crying. “What happened?” he asks.

“I just saw my wife go by on a skateboard!”

Friday Morning Dog Walks are Weird

I don’t know how else to explain it.  Friday Morning Dog Walks are Weird.

If anything oddball is going to happen, it will happen on a Friday Morning.

Opening one eye and seeing the clock glowering in red digits at me 5:10, I pretended I wanted to get out of bed.  The moment I stirred, Rack, my faithful side kick started dusting the floor and the boxes under the bed with his tail.  He doesn’t sleep that soundly, and as a result, neither do I.   He did, however, want to get a start on the day.

A start we did get.  For once, he was a step ahead of me.  Gobbling his food down with an uncharacteristic vigor, I then got him suited up in purple harness and collar and we got out the door.

Walking to the corner near the Mango Tree, I heard a THUMP followed by a rolling fruit down the incline to my right boot.   Ahh, breakfast!  That one would be 10 ounces of tree ripened fruit for the morning meal.

We took the mango back to the front porch and went back out past the tree.  Nope, no more fruit threatening to bean one of us on our way out to the Shops.

I was earlier than the scruffy scavenger and his equally scruffy dog who do an admirable impression of a line printer scouring the corners looking for change and dropped treasures.

We didn’t care, the dog just wanted his walk.

But today, he had energy.  It was going to be a strange walk as a result.

For a puppy of less than a year, 8 months we’ve been told, has to be trained on the etiquette of walking.  Don’t pull on the leash, it makes people cross.   Don’t cross people, it makes them trip.

In the span of 100 feet inside of the large parking lot where the bars are, Rack did both.

Training Issues.  If I could train children on how to use computers, I could certainly train an eager dog on how to stay on the right side of me.


We made our way down to Old City Hall lot and City Hall. 


Oooh, Shiny object!

Walking back, I was waved to by one of the police officers passing City Hall.  The deep roar of the secondaries kicking in as he drove to apprehend someone or a donut for the 6am briefing that was due shortly.

It’s a Friday Morning, running into people at this time of day is never quite unexpected, but always out of the ordinary.  I did my good deed for the day when I got to the Post Card and was asked by someone sitting on a bench about what he could do about his dead phone battery.  Suppressing the desire to say something silly, I pointed him toward a cup of coffee and the always open diner on Wilton Drive and we parted company.

I saw the stranger go into the diner, so his needs for a charger were actually legitimate.  Who knew?

Mr Dog was back to his step-step-tug-yank rhythm.  We were well past the 3/4 mark in the walk.  This was getting tiresome.  My right shoulder was getting stiff.   Finally, I decided to simply stop and allow him to reset his energy.

Counting to ten usually helps.   Not the dog, me.  Working with a dog, you must always maintain an appropriate level of energy. 

We walked onward toward our destination.   Stopping helped a lot.  He wasn’t pulling on me on that last block past the Italian Restaurant, nor was he when we got in sight of the house.

On the other hand, there’s an aspirin in my future.  My little boy needs a remedial walk once my feet cool off.  Two miles before coffee starting at 5:30 in the morning requires a special kind of strength.  It may also require a short yellow bus for this sort of special minded activity.

Again With The Hoagies? – Picture

Yeah, again.   I guess if everyone has their own particular “Ethnic Food”, a proper Italian Hoagie or any other for that matter, is mine.

Since I can’t get the right rolls here, this hoagie was better than some but not quite right.   I may be baking some bread today as a result.  I can get the right crisp on my pizza dough recipe.

Over the weekend we were in a feedback loop between me, my cousin in NY, and my sister back in New Jersey.   Discussions went back and forth about the foods we had when we were growing up.   All that stuff you took for granted and thought would be around forever, aren’t.

When Mom and Dad are gone, most of their recipes are as well.  No matter how good a record keeper your ‘rents are, there are always a nuance here and there that get lost.

In my case, it’s the amazing water that we got from the Cohansey Aquifer and the Delaware River Watershed.

If I ever manage to get back to Philly, I am going to get a 5 gallon Carboy and fill it with that amazing tap water my sister has in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.   If you know someone coming down from Jersey, have them pack a gallon of water for me, Ok?  I just may be able to get a good loaf of bread then!

We’re not talking Artisanal bread shops here, I have had some excellent Artisanal breads here in South Florida.  The problem is that I was able to produce those same results with the same recipes up North – it really is the water down here that isn’t quite right for baking.

But the hoagie was fine.  I went to Doris’ and got some excellent Soppressatta, Hot Capicola, and Hot Proscuitto, Sharp Provolone, and the veg and made that up.  Nice dinner for one.  

If I could have found some Extra Sharp Provolone it would have been better…  Hmmmm.

Oh that brown stuff on the roll?  Balsamic Vinegar.  My choice there, Mom would have used Wine Vinegar from that bottle of Chianti from the holidays six months back that “turned”.   Best stuff around!

I think this weekend we’re going to make up some Marinara.   I have some sausages I intend to toss in the sauce and make up a sandwich just like when we were kids…

No More Desktop Computer? Same Here!

I moved down to South Florida, Lock Stock And Barrel as the saying goes, in 2006.

Shortly after moving here, Florida Power and Light “decided” I didn’t need that desktop computer that I built.  There was a power spike and Poof! It was gone.

I was “That Guy”.  The one everyone leans on to fix their computer after their 10 year old discovered this cool website sitting on a server somewhere in Russia… that infected it with a virus.  The guy who built computers since Back In The Days of the 486. 

Remember those?

I would say it’s fair to put the number of Desktop PCs I’ve built in the area of 200, perhaps more.  It was never my job to do so, but it was always something that I found fun enough to do that I kept up with the trends.

Until I moved here.

Here is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1200 square foot house.   Down from a 3 and 1 1/2 1900 square foot in Philly.

I kept my skills up, but there were some things that I found I really didn’t care for about a desktop computer.

The main reason why I stopped using a desktop computer was space.   My desk is in The Florida Room, and that room is the warmest one in the house.  The Redundantly named Florida Room would be between 5 and 10 degrees warmer depending on the time of year, and since I keep the house at 78 … I migrated to the living room.

The thing is that it required that I keep a desk out there.   That desk got used less and less and became a thorn in my side that illustrated what was said about Possessions Enslaving You.

While I was migrating off of that old desktop computer, I kept the desk there to do computer repairs when I needed to, but I realized that I was using the laptop more and more.   They got cheaper to the point where the laptop I use now costs less than some of the motherboards that I bought in the past.

Unless you were playing a game, you really didn’t need a cutting edge desktop computer in the home. 

I noticed that many of my friends and clients were doing the same thing.   Why keep a boat anchor next to a desk in a house cluttered with “goodies” when you really wanted to be in the comfy chair in a living room or media room with your feet up?

A cutting edge desktop computer got less expensive as a result.  You can get a good desktop computer from many vendors for less than $500 these days, but when you can get similar laptops for the nearly the same price it led me to ask why.

I still have parts laying around the house.   A spare power supply here, a fan there.   For the most part, that Hardware Closet I used to keep in Philly is reduced down to a box of odd junk and a computer case.   I haven’t been asked to repair a desktop computer in over a year – fix a Virus problem, yes, upgrade a laptop, yes, but fix a desktop?  Nope!

Besides, you’d be shocked how much benefit you’d get out of a couple gigs more memory, and a really hard look at what you have installed on the computer.  If you don’t need it, uninstall it!

It seems that a casual glance in a big box electronics store will prove my point.   Rows of Laptops being hovered over by people, curious folks tapping at a tablet to try to wrap their head around what it is, but the desktop computer aisle is empty.   It’s even hard to get someone to tell you about a desktop computer in a computer store these days. 

There used to be a great amount of strategy that you’d have to employ to get just the right computer.  Now, you pick your price point, buy a laptop, and within two years you start looking to see what’s out there again.

Which is great for me, since I have a nice stack of Hand-Me-Down laptops from people who know I’ll pass them onto someone who needs them.  Your computer “slowing down” is usually because something installed itself on your browser that needs to be banished – toolbars, for example are useless.

For the vast majority of us out there, those home users of the world, you do not need the high end computer that the salesmen of the world push you toward.  In fact, I’d wager if you really look at what you need, a 3 or a 4 on a scale of 10 would be more like it. 

Yes, I’m being deliberately vague there, this isn’t intended to be a specific discussion of what to get now, since many of these articles are re-read in the future.

So if the salesperson is trying to sell you a computer for the home that is a laptop, at least these days, if you’re paying more than around $500 or so, step back and think about it.  You may be happy with the ego side of the purchase, but you probably do not need the extra expense.  The one I’m using to write this on, I paid $225 for in September 2012, and I’ll probably get another 2 years out of it.

But the Desktop?  Stick a fork in them – in the home, they’re done.