Jeep Seats and Dog Beds

We got Lettie Thanksgiving week, 2002 if my math is right.

She was our little Black Friday Purchase. 

We were living in a three floor “farmhouse” in Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia that I truly enjoyed for those years.

With three floors there were plenty of rooms for a dog to find a comfortable spot, plenty of furniture for her to rest on.

We stopped that with one notable exception that I had no control over.

You see we had to.  Since it was November, the weather was cool.  When the weather got warmer, Our Lettie got fleas that first spring.  That stopped her from sleeping on the bed, and any other furniture.

But she was smart.   She knew that when we were out, she had free run of the house. 

Three floors of rooms.  

Sure, we’d close certain rooms off like the bedrooms, but there was one room that was just too small to bother with.   It was also the one room without a door.

The third floor rear as we called it.   It was a small room with a sloping roof so that I couldn’t even walk on the back half of it without ducking down or walking bent over.  

It was a pleasant place to watch the back yard grass grow, and since it wasn’t large enough to do much more with, it also collected things.

We would get things brought in the Jeep Wranglers we both drove at that time, as much as we could fit in them so that shopping was called “Filling A Jeep”. 

When I took long trips, I would remove the back seat in the Jeep and put it out of sight and out of mind.  Eventually that ended up in the third floor rear room next to one of those small half windows in the back of the house.

Lettie discovered that and made the Jeep Seat her own.

It was coincidentally placed so that half of the day it was in the sun.

Yes, the dog had discovered a perch above the trees where she could watch the squirrels in the back yard, sun her bones, and do it all on a dog sized couch that really belonged in the Jeep.

I didn’t realize what was going on until one day I got in the house and she didn’t notice it. 

Loading up all the groceries into the kitchen I went looking for her.   Softly I climbed the stairs to the third floor without squeaking that one tread half the way up the flight.   Looking right to the front of the house, nothing was there, but she was watching me from the rear on the seat.

Caught.  When I looked at her, her ears went down and she wagged her tail walking over to me.

What else could I do.   She found her place and I had created it for her by shopping for the house.

The seat was rarely used as a seat, so it stayed out of the car most of the time.  Perfectly sized, and luckily treated with fabric treatment, it was fairly clean.  In fact, that seat is in my car to this day, the third Jeep I’ve had.  I stopped wear and tear by putting a blanket on top of the seat as a slip cover, and more mats strategically placed through the house.

Those mats lasted her life, and when she left us in April this year, Rack began to use the same mats, still strategically placed through the house here in Florida.

I have the same blankets to this day.  Every so often I look up and see her sitting on the blanket on the beige seat in the sun, one of the benefits of having dogs that looks so much alike that they’re never completely “gone”. 

They’re just resting in a quiet and sunny corner of the mind.

Test Your Virus Scanner With EICAR

This would be a great time for me to say this is At Your Own Risk, and I’m offering no support if your scanner does not work… You’re on your own pal!   

This “virus” simply displays a text string and sends control back to the operating system.

Have you ever wondered if your virus scanner actually works?

I don’t mean surfing one of “Those” Sites with a .RU at the end of the address.  This actually downloads a “harmless” virus that won’t trash your computer.

In the case of this machine I’m writing on, the EICAR Test Virus downloaded and Microsoft Security Essentials brought up an ugly red box warning me that it had been quarantined and I’m safe.

The reality of this is that had I downloaded a different virus that wasn’t in my “signature file”, I would never know but that is the essential problem with any antivirus product.  They are only as good as the company that backs them, and how good the team is behind the product.

So make sure you know how to update your virus scanner – for Microsoft Security Essentials, the signature files come through Windows Update or clicking on the little circus tent in your task bar.  Other virus scanners will vary.

Update your virus scanner to current, which is a good thing no matter which virus scanner you use, or how often you tell the computer to check.

Then follow this link to the EICAR download page.
EICAR is the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research.
You can read more about their mission in the wikipedia page if you want a shorter description.
A short description of the virus test file is at this wikipedia page as well.

Click on the appropriate download for the virus.

Wait for it to download and watch the fun begin when your virus scanner hopefully picks this up and tells you it has been quarantined.

When you’re through having fun, find the quarantine section and you can tell your antivirus product to remove the Test Virus.  Since there are so many different antivirus programs, you are on your own there.

If your antivirus program did not detect the EICAR virus I would strongly recommend getting a new antivirus.   Like I said, Microsoft Security Essentials worked like a champ and you can get their antivirus at this link for Windows 7 and earlier – it’s built in on Windows 8.

The video I embedded shows what it looks like with Kaspersky Anti Virus.   It’s a silent video except when the virus is caught.  It makes a Pig Squeal sound which was a bit jarring, so put your volume down to medium and it won’t be a shock.

A Taste of the Holidays in July

Saturday Mornings have always been time to stretch out and do things a little differently.

In College, after practice, I’d head home and start cooking the carbo-load I needed after time on the river.  It would be a large plate of French Toast on order before moving onto more pressing matters.

This day, I stood in front of the kitchen window wanting something just a little different but wasn’t sure what.  Plus the French Toast was a little too much different.  Surveying the Honey Drink, Iced Tea, and Coffee for later, I was looking around the kitchen and spotted the little bottles sitting by the range.  They were left over from a Holiday Care Package my sister had put together this year in December, and they gave me the idea I was looking for.   We ship each other boxes of offbeat gifts, mine are mostly baked, my sister using her creativity for finding some fascinating things that I enjoy deeply, later.

A collection of seasonings and syrups, flavored sugars and cocoas, they sat around waiting for me to realize what to do with them.   Cinnamon Sugar got used making Hotteoks.  The Cocoa was used in baking a cake.  I had moved away from a daily flavored coffee when I began roasting my own beans, the bitterness banished to the Starbucks from whence they came.  Flavoring coffee became a whim, simply not required, so it was a small luxury.

My sister specialized in finding gifts that I would not get for myself, but always found some profound thought in them when I put them to use.  I still have the shirts she got me when I lived in Pennsylvania on Top of the Hill.  Where she managed to find just the right size of “long” tailed flannel shirts for my tall frame always had me wondering – even I could not find them.

These syrups were left over.  I decided that the peppermint coffee syrup was going to be used next, but the vanilla would add a little smooth sweetness to this morning.  Stirring in the syrup, cooling down the brew with four ice cubes, we walked outside to survey the morning by the pool.  Mr Dog and I walked once around the yard, him sniffing lemon trees, and my sniffing vanilla and coffee and remembering my sister well.

Thanks, Pat.  You made Saturday Morning a little bit sweeter.

Seniors in the Waiting Room – Humor

Ear Infection

This is so true! They always ask at the doctor’s office why you are there, and you have to answer in front of others what is wrong and sometimes it is embarrassing.

There is nothing worse than a Doctor’s Receptionist who insists you tell her what is wrong with you in a room full of other patients.

I know most of us have experienced this, and I love the way this old guy handled it.

A 65-year-old man walked into a crowded waiting room and approached the desk.

The Receptionist said, ‘Yes sir, what are you seeing the Doctor for today?’

‘There’s something wrong with my dick’, he replied.

The receptionist became irritated and said, ‘You shouldn’t come into a crowded waiting room and say things like that. ‘

‘Why not, you asked me what was wrong and I told you,’ he said.

The Receptionist replied; ‘Now you’ve caused some embarrassment in this room full of people. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear or something and discussed the problem further with the Doctor in private.’

The man replied, ‘You shouldn’t ask people questions in a roomful of strangers, if the answer could embarrass anyone. The man walked out, waited several minutes, and then re-entered.

The Receptionist smiled smugly and asked, ‘Yes??’

‘There’s something wrong with my ear,’ he stated.

The Receptionist nodded approvingly and smiled, knowing he had taken her advice.. ‘And what is wrong with your ear, Sir?’

‘I can’t pee out of it,’ he replied.

The waiting room erupted in laughter…

Mess with seniors, and you’re going to lose.

Clues You Might Be A Redneck

You can entertain yourself for more than an hour with a fly swatter.
You’ve ever been pumping gas and another customer asks you to check his oil.
You think the Bud Bowl is real.
Your dog goes “oink!”
You think the Nutcracker is something you did off the high dive.
Your mailbox is made out of old auto parts.
You know how to milk a goat.
Your kids have a three-day old Kool-Aid mustache.
Your TV gets 512 channels, but you go outside to use the bathroom.
You’ve ever stood outside a bathroom and heckled someone inside.
Turning on your lights involves pulling a string.
You have a refrigerator just for beer.
You come back from the dump with more than you took.
Your wife owns a camouflage nightie.
You’ve ever worn cowboy boots with Bermuda shorts.
You don’t think baseball players spit and scratch too much.
You think the Styrofoam cooler is the greatest invention of all time.
You take your dog for a walk and you both use the same tree to relieve yourselves.
The most common phrase heard in your house is, “Somebody go jiggle the handle.”
You can’t take a nap without at least one hand tucked inside your pants.

Rogue Crosswalks – It’s Been Done Before

I was going through some oddball websites looking at things at random and realized I had heard of this before.

At one point I was sitting in a meeting with a number of local officials discussing something very important but very dry – Crosswalks.  You see, the law states that if there is an intersection, and a reasonable person expects a crosswalk to be there, it is there.

Now, sure that’s a gross oversimplification, but basically that’s the germ of the idea.   I went into greater detail about this before, and at that meeting I quoted all those dry statistics to the Chief of Police and the City Manager as well as the rest of the board.   While there was a lot of handwringing about the state of walking in Wilton Manors, nobody had a really good suggestion.

I made the comment that we should just get a bunch of people together at 230 in the morning before anyone was awake, after the bars close, and just go out and paint crosswalks where there legally should be one.

Predictably people said You Just Can’t Do That, and It Has To Be Done To Code and some other vaguely confusing and slightly imposing comments about breaking the law and so on.

Not that anyone took up the banner and painted any new crosswalks in the city, it still looks the same as it ever was here.  This is the city that took many meetings to make sure that the crosswalks in the heart of town were just the right shade of rust red to match some arbitrary standard of beauty from someone long gone.  Never mind that in the Florida Sun, anything painted any color will eventually fade.   You can expect that.

On the other hand, I was greatly amused today to find out that someone had done exactly that – repaint some worn out crosswalks… In Tacoma Washington.

To paraphrase the movie Saving Grace – It’s good to know that they are keeping up the tradition of total contempt for the letter of the law.  Great movie, I highly recommend it.  I’m overdue for a rewatch.

Well meaning people going out in the wee hours repainting things is an amusing concept, although it could easily render things much worse than they actually are.   Personally I’m more in favor of moving things like low hanging umbrellas in front of bars that take up the entirety of a sidewalk as well as trimming overgrown branches from trees when they’re needed.

Not that I’d carry a pair of angle cutters with me on a dog walk, mind you, but that is an amusing thought.

So put away the bucket of paint.  You might annoy someone with that even if it does draw attention in Tacoma.   I’m just amused that it happened before even if it didn’t happen here.

Did You Ever Have A Bad Technology Day?

I should have known when I walked outside and heard Fort Lauderdale farting from across the river that today would be weird.

Getting out well before dawn, I walked Mr Dog out on our normal morning mile.  Rounding the corner near the park, I heard a sound.  A strange farting sound that I only had heard once before.  That had started me looking for a toxic cloud until I realized that the winds here predictably come from the East.  Yes, the ocean breezes saved me from the Mosquito Spray Truck that was dispensing death to all those many creatures that will hone in on my scent and try to turn me into a giant blood sausage.

Expecting strange we soldiered onward.  This being a noisy town, I wasn’t surprised to hear the 6AM train on the distant FEC tracks, the traffic on Wilton Drive, and the general background 60 cycle hum from the many air conditioner compressors.

Not a quiet town.

But all of that is a normal part of living in the Not Big City that is South Florida.   Pretensions of small towns aside, we’re in the middle of a sprawl of 7 or so million people, someone somewhere is going to drop a dish.

Getting home and going through the motions of operating the washing machine on super-duper-extra-hot to sterilize the dog’s mats, I settled in for a morning.  While the laptop is behaving well, the network was not, so I ended up having to reload pages one handed.  You see, the mosquitoes are not the only thing that wanted to turn my arm into a blood sausage.  I had 40 plus pounds of playful dog insisting that my right hand was his play-toy.  Slowing life to a more relaxed pace, Mr Dog wanted his attention for the better part of an hour.

While I’m sitting there watching this bundle of black and white fur and energy gnaw on my arm, I’m getting messages coming through on my professional account.  Between printers breaking, computers acting strange, and someone just not having time to get to that meeting that he wanted with me early in the morning, I realized that the entire world was stuck in second gear today.

Miraculously, I managed to get a break, a solid 10 minutes of productivity when Rack the dog decided I’m Done and trotted off to his crate.  The big yellow school bus trundling by my house apparently over the speed limit seemed to help his decision while I get working on a phone call.

Many tech support woes can be solved by a simple axiom “Did you try restarting your computer?”.  That’s the Tech Support equivalent of “Did you Jiggle The Handle?” – great way for you to delay while you think about things like the true solution of the problem, or whether you really need that second mug of coffee.

Coffee almost always makes things better, and there’s just enough time before that rescheduled meeting to meet the need.

Meanwhile, the washer that was supposed to be finished two hours before, finally gathers itself up and realizes that it’s got a full load inside and snaps with a volley of beeps for attention.

Webpages set aside with a shrug, virtual servers started, it’s time to get up and do something else.  Even the washer is running slow.  May as well step back and let it happen.

Easy Cinnamon Muffins from Scratch – Recipe

They really are easy.  They’re also much better for you than the original recipe.

You see, this started as an Ina Garten Recipe, the Barefoot Contessa, that I modified.

More that I changed the process to make it work for me.

Originally these were Donuts.   Now while everyone loves donuts, I didn’t want fried, and they were a little large.  I managed to get 16 muffins instead of her 12 donuts, so I didn’t feel bad about having Icing on top.

I also don’t have a donut pan for baked donuts so I got to thinking.   Ina made the comment that this was a thin or loose batter, and she was right.  It was about the same consistency as any cake or muffin batter so why not try muffins.   Muffins are basically cupcakes, so I may try this as an actual cake since they did turn out light and fluffy. 

A wee bit of science here.  Mixing flour and water gives Gluten.  That’s fine in bread, gives good texture, but with a muffin you want light.  So mix gently and use an all purpose flour or experiment with a cake flour with this recipe.

The taste comes from the Cinnamon and the Sugar and who doesn’t like that?

Ina’s original instructions are here on her web page, but the recipe is below for your convenience.   I really do recommend her recipes, they’re usually quite good.

This is the recipe for the batter only.  If you want the original donuts, follow this link.

Here’s that process…


  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Stir the dry ingredients well or sift them together.   I used a stand mixer and gave it a couple pulses just to stir it up.
  • Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Add the wet to the dry and mix them lightly until the batter is smooth but be careful not to over-mix.  Over-mixing makes this recipe “rubbery”.
  • Bake in Muffin Cups – 1/4 cup per cup.
  • 350F for 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean when pierced through the top.
Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Hotteok 2.0 – Now With Sesame!

As entertaining as I find cooking, I try not to do this sort of thing too often.   It’s way too easy to blow off an afternoon making goodies for yourself and others and end up being big enough that you are a center of gravity.   It would get embarrassing if NASA called and said, stop you’re making the satellites orbit strangely, wouldn’t it?

But, I did have to bake this weekend.  I had finished off the last of the rolls in the freezer.  Off to the kitchen I went and made up a batch of Pat’s Pizza Dough bread.  That’s my Go To recipe when I want a nice, firm, and tasty loaf of bread or rolls.

When I pulled the dough out of the machine, I looked over at the collection of spices and flavorings and decided to get creative. 

Hey, want some Hotteoks?
Yeah!  I love Hottoeoks!  What Kind?
I’m going to try something different.   Just wait!
Ok… Looking forward to it!

Hotteoks (Ho-Ducks) are a dough ball flattened.  Drop a little sweet or savory in the middle, fold it up like a dumpling, and drop it on the skillet.   Press down with a spatula until it’s nice and flat.  Cook in a little fat until that side is toasted, flip and repeat.

That’s all.   It takes about 5 minutes to cook.

I did say I got creative.   The last four dough balls out of the 10 that I made were going to be standard Cinnamon Sugar Hotteoks.  I rolled them in Sesame Seeds and let them rest on the plate as I put a thin film of Sesame Oil on the non stick skillet.

The house immediately filled with a Sesame perfume both nutty and earthy.   The smell was strong enough that it drew the dog out of hiding and Oscar the Parrot started calling out to me.   I guess they were hungry.

One of my simple pleasures in life is that when I get a bag of Sesame Bagels, to munch on the leftover seeds in the bottom of the bag.  It’s not something that happens often, but when I do get them I do enjoy those seeds and the leftovers on the “rolling plate” didn’t go to waste either.

So snacking on Sesame Hotteoks was going to be a treat.   They were just as good the second day, cold out of the refrigerator.   Hotteoks, or Korean Donuts, simply don’t last around this house.   The Yeast Risen Dough was flavorful and gummy, the filling melted nicely and formed a gritty caramel for the second day, and went down as a prized snack.

As a benefit I did have 6 rolls for this week in the freezer.  They should run out just in time for next weekend.  If I have the free time, there may be more Hotteok in our future.

A Little Play, A Little Thumb, A Little McNab Dog

It’s happening.  Rack has finally decided to play like a puppy. 

Oh, sure, he’ll chew up his toys.  He’s managed to strip all the limbs off his “Mean Cat” plush so that now it’s more like a Mean Torso, and he’s shredded his little purple teddy bear so that it finally went for burial in the bin.

That all is great, and expected.  Even when Lettie was in her last few months, she would pick up the toys from time to time and give them a great big flap. 

Puppies have their mouthy moments.  They happen when you’re petting them and all the sudden you become a chew toy.   Rack is now about 10 months, pushing 11.   Since he’s my McNab Dog rescue, we really only have an approximate age.   So we’ve decided he’s a September Puppy and we’ll call it September 11th.   Easy enough date to remember due to its other much more dark connotation.

With a puppy, they’ll mouth anything they can.   Laying on their back, legs splayed in the air, wiggling like a worm, you will find that their mouth is wide open looking for something to put those sharp puppy teeth onto.  That all takes some confidence.   If that puppy was a rescue, and especially shut down as Rack was, finding that today was the first day I became a chew toy is actually a good thing.

I was sitting in my chair after the first walk, minding my own business.  My right arm was being occupied by an upside down dog who required it.   Petting his belly itself says “I feel safe and comfortable and accept you as my lead”.  Fearful dogs don’t completely accept that, nor does your Alpha Dog.

Every so often, my right hand needed to be given back to the task, opening up a new web page or typing in some command on the black laptop.  Every time the hand would go away, it would be watched expectantly for its return.  Every time it returned, the play ramped up, it became a wee bit more playful, more happy for the return.



I realized my forearm was cold from the dog slobber on it, and my thumb was buried among wet canines and a big pink tongue.

Yes, I became a large chew toy.  My dog was sucking my thumb.   Weird enough when I said that to myself, I pulled the thumb away from the pain and moved my hand back to his belly.

Well THAT lasted all of about 23 seconds when…

Nom Nom Nom, my fingers became chew toys and the rear feet were pushing my forearm toward his mouth.

I can see that being truly “productive” would have to wait, I had a puppy’s mouth to fill with my right hand.

I’m a big furry salt lick with interesting things to chew these days. 

I’ve had puppies before and we all have had the pleasure of a warm furry ball of fluff cuddle up to us with razor sharp teeth that were teething on us.  This wasn’t that, this was a mild statement of arrival and acceptance of place.  This was a formerly shut down dog saying I’ve arrived and I’m part of the family.

It is a long journey from cowering in the back of a shelter to The Mat next to my chair and gnawing on my right hand.  It took three months.   That is a long time in the life of a puppy.  It takes a while to become the chew toy of choice.