Three Men Are Walking in a Desert – Humor

3 men are walking through the desert.

3 Men are walking through the desert and they’re all very thirsty.

Suddenly, they see a water slide with a genie in front of it. The genie looks at them and says, go down the slide, and while you’re sliding, yell out the drink of your choice, and you will land in a pool of that drink.

The first man goes down, and he yells “Water!!” And he lands in a pool of water.

The second man goes down, and he yells “Lemonade!!” And he lands in a pool of lemondae

Finally, the third man goes down, and he yells “Wheee!!!”

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Singing Birds and Vibrating Pockets

I stood near the pond this morning.  

Feet firmly planted on the ground, I had my morning meal.

Sharing a spoonful of oatmeal and peaches with my faithful sidekick, I watched as shadow and light painted its way across the pond.  Breezes hadn’t started yet, but there were waves on the surface.  Dragonflies hovered in for a drink and disturbed the millpond stillness of the morning creating ripples that echoed their presence on the surface of the otherwise still water.

In the distance floated a small bird, also still, also hardly moving.   It kept a still eye pointed at me watching me in my morning repast.

The birds sang over top of the distant sounds.  Their chattering accompanying the tapestry of the scene, enhancing the beauty of the morning.

On the ground there were small lizards warming themselves, recharging for their day.  Soon they would leave their station in the sun, sliding down leaves of the pineapple plant, leaping to the ground, and going on their business of creating and losing territory and dining on choice bits of insect life.

The gentle breezes were almost still at this time of day.  There was just enough wind to make the magenta and pink blossoms of the paper thin bougainvillea nod their heads in acquaintance, accepting you into their beauty and their presence.

This was framed by the thick tropical foliage around the small pond, deep greens offset by the scent of jasmine coming from their almost zinc oxide whiteness capturing the sun of the early morning.

The hustle and bustle of the semi-urban life seemingly brushed away by the chattering of the song birds came rushing in with one motion.   I shifted to lean on my right leg when I noticed that there was a vibrating in my pocket.  Reaching in I found the old phone that was sending off an alarm, this was the cause of the singing birds, and the vibration was the alarm clock on the phone that I just couldn’t bear to turn off.

Reverie broken, I readjusted my headphones to make sure that the noise canceling was turned on.  The amigos from Quintana Roo were next door with their blowers again, and I stepped away from the Kitchen window where my day dream was ended.  No longer standing by a tropical pond, I was instantly transported back to my house, in front of the kitchen sink, in the middle of 100 miles of human habitation.

But for a brief moment, all was peaceful, all was full of nature, and full of song birds and beauty.  I guess I really should cancel that alarm clock.

Goodbye My Friend, Diane Cline

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When you move to a new city, there are people who immediately grab your attention.  Some of these fall by the wayside, and you could never say that Diane Cline would fall away.

Some of my most powerful memories were of her in City Commission meetings in the City of Wilton Manors, Florida.  She was once on the City Council, back when it was called that.

Back In The Day when Wilton Manors was on the decline, she worked tirelessly to help slow that progress.   There was a time when Wilton Manors was a war zone.  You could fire a cannon down Wilton Drive at rush hour and not hit a soul.

She and some others were there trying to help bring people back.  It was a place that nobody knew its name.  You would call it East Ft Lauderdale if you were trying to sell the house. 

Then the bar opened, and some life started to flicker back into the place.   Diane was there all the while, and you can easily say that she was directly responsible for the way the City looks today.  She would be at almost every Commission meeting giving suggestions to those who would listen, and letting those know who wronged her or her beloved Wilton Manors what they are doing wrong.  Some were told in no uncertain terms where they should go and where the boundaries of the City were so they could find themselves on the other side of that line, permanently, preferably.

At some point, Diane was given a sign.  I believe that it was made up by someone in one of the City Departments, but I can’t be sure.   It is a street sign, looks quite official, and says “Diane’s Way”.  She said that they were talking about changing Wilton Drive or NE 26th Street to that, with a twinkle in her eye.  The Drive’s name has never been changed but the sign should go on the wall in the Mayor’s Office facing the Mayor to remind him of the progress that has been made since those bad old days of ineffective government and war zone avoidance.

The picture itself comes from one of the last days of the Old City Hall.  Diane met me at what was the Police Locker Room and Gym that morning to help sell off the contents of the building that had been moved to that room.   It was all to benefit the Wilton Manors Historical Society, another one of her many Good Works.  She and I spent the day rattling around the building, me taking pictures and helping to sell off some things, she was doing the same and giving the history behind some of the artifacts assembled while telling jokes.

One of the most important aspects of that knowledge came out with the Two Lane Initiative that was spearheaded by the Wilton Manors Development Alliance and Wilton Manors Main Street.  Diane came up with the germ of that idea that gradually picked up steam.   It is the Next Step in the re-creation of Wilton Manors, to take the City one step closer to being a true walkable city and an Urban Oasis.  With help, this plan will continue and finally take place now that the debts are being paid off and parking funds are finally being directed with some semblance of sanity to the work at hand.  Politics simply could not be separated from Diane, it was too much of what she was.  The Two Lane Initiative was something she was absolutely committed to, and its progress is absolutely an indication of the current relative capacity and competence of the City.

Diane was known for the best assortment of groaners and dirty jokes of anyone I could think of.  You could always be sure that if Diane was there, she’d have a joke to tell, and it always had a message behind it directed at something pertinent.  You would leave the conversation with the light bulb over your head flickering on and realize just who got the brunt of that zinger.

She was the conscience of this city in many ways, and will be sorely missed.   She was a friend, a confidant, and an amazing source of information.  If you didn’t know Diane Cline, you probably didn’t really know what was going on in Wilton Manors.

Diane, you will be missed by me and by all.

50 Years Since I Have A Dream

When I worked at the School District of Philadelphia, I would get the Martin Luther King holiday off of work.  I wasn’t the kind of person that would volunteer to build schools, I always had enough of my own projects to do.  What I would end up doing was to have the TV on and get caught up in my home.

One year I got the bright idea to leave the local PBS TV station on when they ran a day of programming about the Civil Rights Struggle.  I’m a documentary junkie so I got my fill that day.   They did run the I Have A Dream Speech as well as many others, and what I was left with was more than just a sense of history, but a deep sense of loss that this man, Dr. Martin Luther King didn’t have more years to share his vision.

The few speeches that did get recorded were always worth listening to, and always fascinating both in and out of context.

I managed to find a place to pull them down on MP3 and loaded them on my trusty player at one point.  Listening to them on the way to and from work on the train happened more than once, they did get into “rotation”.

No matter what your political bend, the time spent listening to this man is well worth it. 

Since the I Have A Dream speech is available readily online, you can find it here.

As for the other ones, I’d say happy listening.  Many of them are available in random places, and I did find a helpful web site at Stanford University with a list of some of them for your clicking pleasure.

Why On Earth Would You Make English Muffins? – Recipe

I’m on a quest.  English Muffins and Crumpets.

Ok, English Muffins are common, but it has always irked me that you basically spend as much as $7 for a box of 6 of these things.  Usually $3 a pack, or .50 a piece.

Come on, they’re just bread for crying out loud.

The other side of this is that I have a good friend who is a British Ex-Pat, David, who is due to come up again, if it ever happens that is.   I thought it might be nice to have Crumpets around and those are even more ridiculously pricey – if you can even find them.  

So I found a recipe online.  They are from Delia Smith, of TV fame in the UK.  Once in a while her shows “leak out” to the US.   If you want a proper Crumpet, why not one of the more famous British Cookery Show Hosts?

First you need something called a “Crumpet Ring”.  The US doesn’t really eat a lot of Crumpets, but there’s a very common substitute.  They’re basically called “Egg Rings” here, and let you make a 3 3/4 inch round egg.   You can even go with a cookie cutter or remove the top and bottom from a tuna tin if it were safe to eat tuna any more.

I mean setting aside the fact that tuna is chock full of mercury and most likely glow in the dark from the tragedy at Fukushima.   I won’t be eating Pacific Fish from this point on.  You may want to consider that yourself…

Then I started reading her recipe.  There were a few problems.  

Being a Yank, I do things in Ounces but adapt fairly well to Metric.   Being someone who used to get Chemistry Labs to 99.5% of theoretical yield, I am very precise in the kitchen.  But there was something that threw me.

Her measurement for the flour.  It was, and I quote, “8 Ounces or 225 Grams of Strong Plain Flour”.

I took Strong Plain Flour to be Bread Flour, and I have a 25 pound bag of that.  High Gluten Flour.  Good stuff, but it tends to mess with recipes.  I know for a fact that I have to add more liquid to a recipe when I bake with High Gluten Flour.  She MAY be using the equivalent of “All Purpose Flour” which has a lower protein percentage and a lower need for liquids, I’m not certain.

The other problem is that while literally that is correct, which do you use, weight or volume?   I went with By Weight the first time and the result was … roughly correct.   You can easily pack more flour into a cup than 225 grams by weight, so you might want to spoon it into a cup and weigh the lot.   Or sift it.

Tricky huh?

That can be solved by adding more liquid, milk is best.

That brings me to the next wrinkle.   This is a very basic recipe, only 5 or 6 ingredients.   But it needs the yeast to proof.   I missed that when I made the stuff and ended up making something that turned out sort of like a Matzoh.   While I like Matzohs with Peanut Butter and Jelly as something “different” it wasn’t what I wanted.

The trick with Proofing your Yeast was simple – get a quart jar or a glass bowl and let the stuff sit in it.

Add to the bowl a teaspoon of sugar and a half cup 4 ounces of milk plus 2 ounces of water.  Warm this (I used the microwave) until it is around 110F or “Hand Hot”.

Since we all have different perceptions, I managed exactly 110 F by giving it two shots in the microwave at 30 seconds each.

What is that like 45C?  (Scratching head)…

Add the one teaspoon of yeast, stir well, and allow to sit aside 15 minutes until frothy.

That actually worked very well when I had made it the second time, which results are pictured here.  Cream Cheese and Mango Jelly on a home made Sourdough English Muffin… YUM!

In a second mixing bowl, add that errant cup of Flour, 1 teaspoon of Salt, and mix them together.

When the Yeast has gotten frothy, add the liquids to the Flour and Salt and mix until smooth.   I used a stand mixer since I was getting frustrated, but that may be overkill.

The thing is that while Our British Cousins will know what this should look like, I have yet to get the right consistency.   My thought is that for an English Muffin, the recipe was too dry and I ended up adding more milk to the mix bringing it to 7 ounces total.   For Crumpets, you will need a dry Pancake Batter Consistency so next time I’ll start with 7 ounces and keep mixing in Milk one ounce at a time until I get this right.

Allow your batter to rise for 45 minutes covered with a tea towel.

For cooking, you need a greased griddle at 325F.   Grease the griddle/skillet/frying pan and the Crumpet Rings well.   You will pour the batter in the middle of the rings and will want to be able to lift the rings off when it is time to flip them to “finish them off”.  Traditionally Crumpets are not cooked well on the tops, but toasted golden brown on the bottom.  They’re simply shown the heat so they’re not raw on top, then set aside to be served.

So why did I go through this annoying recipe?   The taste.   Each time I made these, they turned out tasting like Sourdough bread.   I truly love sourdough and while I can find it, it isn’t exactly common.  This recipe can be worked to add a little less liquid and make a bread dough.   Needless to say, I’ll be making Crumpet Bread out of the recipe because I like Sourdough so much.

Ok, so the short of it… here are the ingredients.   Original recipe is at Delia Smith’s website.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz or 225 g or “strong plain flour”
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 1 level Tablespoon Yeast
  • 1 level teaspoon granulated or superfine sugar
  • 4 oz milk – or more 
  • plus 2 ounces water

Process:

  • Mix flour and salt in bowl and set aside.
  • To quart sized bowl or Ball Jar add milk, water, and sugar.   
  • You can substitute all milk for a bolder taste. 
  • Warm Milk to “hand hot” or 110F.
  • Add yeast to milk/sugar mix and stir well.
  • Cover liquids with a tea towel and set aside for 15 minutes or until frothy.
  • Mix Liquids and flour/salt together until smooth batter is created – you may have to add extra milk one ounce at a time to get the desired consistency.
  • Cover the bowl with that tea towel for 45 minutes and set aside in a warm place to rise.

Cooking:

  • Heat griddle or skillet to 325.
  • Grease griddle and Egg Rings/Crumpet Rings well.
  • Pour batter into Egg Rings and cook until the bottoms are golden brown.
  • Remove Egg Rings and then flip the Crumpets until the tops are cooked to the desired “doneness”.  
  • Traditionally they are only very lightly cooked, you may like them crispy on top.  I did.
  • Re-grease your Egg Rings and repeat until you are done.

A Sign Your Dog’s Training Is Catching

Picture this:

The sun isn’t even up yet.
My eyes are barely opened.
I have fed Rack, and we have begun our first walk of the day.
It is 83 and the clouds in the skies offshore are giant pillars of glowing grey cotton candy fluff.   Somewhere out in the ocean, East of the Bahamas, the sun begins to come up, backlighting the very tops of the clouds that are giving the water back to the briny deep.

I round the corner and spot someone else’s morning drama.

Pepper is at the door with Bill.   Bill is watching over her this weekend with extra care.  She’s an older Dalmatian who has just had a seizure.  With them is their younger dog, Rocco.  Rocco is an energetic teen of a midsized mutt.

I walk by as quietly as I can, doing my best imitation of Bugs Bunny on tip toes.

It didn’t help.

Getting just past the driveway I hear “ROCCO! NO!”.

Rocco No has just appeared in a dash of tan and white fur and is now laying on the ground under Rack.  Rack is surprised but merely sniffing Rocco, while my hand goes to Rocco’s collar.

Always, always, always have your dog’s collar on while in the house.  It makes it easier for someone to catch them if they’ve run out to meet the neighbor.

I manage to hook my thumb under Rocco’s collar and hold him safe. 

Rack goes back to sniffing Rocco while out of the corner of my eye I spot Pepper wandering up, leash dragging on the ground.

Dog Number Two caught as a result.  I now have three dogs.   Rack is standing still enjoying the scene.

Up comes Bill apologizing and gathering up his canine crew.

This all proves to me that the training is working well.   Rack truly loves Pepper, as well as just about any other dog that isn’t acting grumpy. 

There are way too many fussy little grumpy dogs in this neighborhood, but that is true with every neighborhood I’ve ever walked a dog through.   The smaller the dog, the more likely it’s going to be badly trained.  Badly trained dog means owner who really needs training.

There are certain dogs, and people, that Rack absolutely loves.  You can tell.   All the sudden I have a 42 pound McNab dog that is doing his best impression of Skippy The Bush Kangaroo by leaping five feet in the air.

The leaps are getting fewer.  The intensity is ramping down.  The number of people and dogs that he’s jumping for are getting fewer as well.   He’s not yet a year old so he’s still a puppy.  It’s that he realizes that the craziness isn’t as welcome and that he’s going to be allowed to play.   It’s also that there are certain dogs, and people, who simply don’t appreciate that sort of behavior.

Just as growling at passersby is not acceptable, neither is climbing on people and jumping on them.

It’s simply happening less as time goes on.

Good Dogs Go More Places.   Bad Dogs Stay Home.  Those points are beginning to take hold in that furry little head

Thankfully since the Right Arm Perpendicular Tug doesn’t work well on walks.

There was a young pregnant woman… – Humor

There was a young pregnant woman…

and her dream was for her baby to grow up with perfect manners. So everyday she would gently rub her belly whilst repeating the line, “Be polite. Be polite.”

But a strange thing happened. After 9 months, the baby showed no signs of coming out. After a year the woman was still pregnant, and she still kept up the practice of gently rubbing her belly and saying, “Be polite. Be polite.”

The woman`s pregnancy continued and continued. It lasted years. She refused to let doctors check out the situation with ultrasound and she refused to listen to any advice that they tried to give her. But all the while she continued to gently rub her belly and say,”Be polite. Be polite.”

She finally died at the age of 80 without giving birth.

The mystery of the unborn baby was finally solved when doctors finally opened her up. Inside her womb were two little men with long white beards saying to each other, “No, my friend. I must insist. After you.”