Happy Birthday Pat!

It’s that time again!

It’s time for Pat’s Birthday!

This is what she’s getting! 

A Box of Random Goodies!

That is if the box made it.   I sent it parcel post last week.  Went up to Oakland Park P.O. on Dixie Highway, just over the other side of the line from Wilton Manors.

Nice folks up there, they always ask what smells so good in the box.

I tell them but I’m not saying until Pat gets the box.

I’ll probably hear something got crushed.
It usually leaves her scratching her head as to What on Earth was I thinking?

Something Granular,
Something Blue,
Something Baked,
Happy Birthday to You!

Ducks in Heaven and a Redneck Tourist at the Riviera – Humor

Ducks in Heaven

Three women die in an accident and go to Heaven.

There Saint Peter says, ‘We only have one rule – don’t step on the ducks!’
They enter Heaven, and sure enough, there are ducks everywhere. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to step on a duck, and the first woman accidently steps on one straight away.

Saint Peter comes along with the ugliest man the woman has ever seen and chains them together saying, ‘Your punishment for stepping on a duck is to spend eternity chained to this ugly man!’

 The next day, the second woman steps on a duck and she too is chained to an incredibly ugly man. The third woman is very, very careful with the ducks and manages to avoid stepping on any of them.

One day Saint Peter comes along and chains her to an incredibly handsome man.

The woman is delighted but wonders why she’s been blessed.
She gets on her knees and prays aloud, ‘Oh Lord, what have I done to deserve this bounty?’
The man says, ‘I don’t know about you, lady, but I trod on a duck.’

A Redneck Tourist Goes to the Rivera

and he gets flagged down by the beachside bathing suit store owner.

 Monsieur, you cannot wear cutoff jeans to the beach here, and talks him into buying a speedo type, telling him: “the women will drool over you when you’re wearing it.”

He puts it on and leaves for the beach.

The tourist comes back an hour later saying that the women still ignore him and give him disapproving looks as he walks by.

The store owner looks down at his crotch and then hands him a potato and says “Monsieur, put this down your suit and the women will be unable to resist you for sure”.

The tourist comes back after 15 minutes, and says that now the women were throwing things at him and one even threw up when he walked past her.

The store owner says: Monsieur, the potato goes in the front of the suit!”

Three Old Ladies At The Kitchen Table and Some Crappy Advise – Humor

Three old ladies were sitting at the kitchen table discussing their problems with getting old. 
One said, “Sometimes I catch myself with a jar of mayonnaise in my hand, while standing in front of the refrigerator, and I can’t remember whether I need to put it away, or start making a sandwich.” 
The second lady says: “Yes, sometimes I find myself on the landing of the stairs and can’t remember whether I was on my way up or on my way down.” 
The third one says: ” Well, ladies, I’m glad I don’t have those problems. Knock on wood,” as she rapped her knuckles on the table, and then said: “That must be the door, I’ll get it!”
Crappy Advise
The pharmacist walks into the store to find a guy leaning heavily against a wall.
He asks the clerk:
“What’s with that guy over there by the wall?”
The clerk responds: “Well, he came in here this morning to get something for his cough. I couldn’t find the cough syrup, so I gave him a bottle of laxative.”
The pharmacist said:
“You can’t treat a cough with a laxative!”
The clerk responded, “Of course you can! Look at him, he’s afraid to cough!


Rack, The Rubber-band Dog – Picture

You’re busy doing your own thing. 
All the sudden you feel a presence.
Are you being watched?
Yes, by Rack The Rubberband Dog.

He sleeps by using his own back as a pillow, bent into a donut shape.  If he were a cat, I’d expect that. Looking up from what I’m in the middle of and being stared down by 42 plus pounds of mostly black dog with white opera gloves, who is bent into weird shapes leaves me with a smile on my face.

Once he’s fully asleep the weird shapes morph into other improbable actions.   He’s taken to running in his sleep like every other dog, so now I have an excuse for being groggy until after my coffee.   Some days as much as 3 mugs in the morning.  The constant taptap of paws on the inside of a plastic crate will keep you just outside of REM sleep if you’re not careful.

I now have an explanation for that Mid Afternoon Nod Off.  No, it’s not a siesta, it’s the result of a dog that thinks he’s running through a field and sounds like a valve tap on a 1973 Chevy Nova.

Inline 6 cylinder motor, of course.

The other problem with having a rubber-band dog is that they are definitely psychic.  I write way too much about having him, he’s very entertaining as he stretches in the most inconvenient spots in the house.  He’ll do that in order to take up every last square inch in the middle of the one short hallway I have here.  When I ask him what he’s doing I get two short wags of his tail, the Shepherd’s Light on the tip flashing lightly, then he’ll roll over into another rubber-band pose simply because he can.  

There must have been a square inch more he could take up.

My camera is stuffed with pictures of Rack in improbable poses.  My writing fills with cute stories about What My Dog Did Last.  

The puppy who was completely shut down now will do fearful but assertive barks at people he wants to see, but doesn’t quite know how to meet.  Other dogs are now something that he will spring into the air to say hello to, while their owners think I’ve taken leave of my senses if I think that they’re going to let my crazy-dog say hello to their precious.

We’ve got to work on that one, Rubber-band Dog.  At least now, he’ll get crazy, listen to correction, then sit down and dust the pavement.

Yes, my dog dusts concrete with his tail, doesn’t yours?

All of this happening before 6 in the morning when the sun is a distant gloom over the Bahamas to the East.

Yes, we have work to do.  It takes time.  He’s still a puppy.   Lettie was like this when she was small, and one day after she turned 18 months, she decided I’m done with this and acted all grown up.

I have another six months of this.

At least for now, he’ll walk with Ellie across the street, and loves meeting other dogs.   The owners, not so much.   He’ll wrap himself around my feet in order to make himself small as possible.

That doesn’t work, but you’ll bounce back.

After all, you’re a Rubber-Band Dog.

Tiger Striping the Deck – Picture

The conversation started with “How would you like to borrow this?”.

“This” is a 1400 PSI pressure washer, and yes I really would.

It has been about 3 years since the last time the pool area has been pressure washed and it needed it.

With Irrigation water that brings up mud, mildew and mold that coats things black, and algae that will grow in the slightest dampness, we have a rainbow of muck on the concrete surround for the pool.   That extends to the actual “deck” under the Lanai, the open area under the roof behind the kitchen as well.  

There is so much muck that collects there that I have to be careful when I roll the barbecue grill out from under the roof.   If it has just rained or the orchids have been watered, the muck becomes slick and my natural reflexes from skating come into play as I slide on slick boards trying to gain traction.

On the other hand, I’m not the best at cleaning this stuff.   The pressure washer has a jet that goes from a pinpoint to a flat spray.   The flat spray is best because that will cover the most area.  One slight drawback, while you are painting an area with the water to clear off the muck, your arm is trembling from the exertion.  

The result is in the picture.  I now have clean concrete that is “tiger striped” with what I missed.

The entire deck surrounds a 16 by 32 foot swimming pool that my sister would have loved in her Swimming Baby Years, and goes down to 7 feet deep.   I’m indifferent to having it, it seems like a lot of work, but it is pretty to look out at while the duck floats on top with the thermometer stuffed up its guts. 

I still have two sessions of work to go on it.   I have done 4 sessions of 90 minutes of work a piece.  Add to it the “I’m beat” accidental collapse into the pool afterwords, and it basically soaks up as much time as it does water.

Right now it looks like a Bugs Bunny Cartoon of the Mason Dixon Line where the North is all dark and dreary and the South is a scene out of a plantation, all scrubbed and clean.  My own Mason Dixon Line beckons me with the promise of more work bent over sweeping from left to right.

I don’t know how to get rid of the tiger stripes, but since I have partial custody of the pressure washer thanks to Billy and Lisa across the street, it won’t get as bad as you see in the picture.   Thanks guys, you’re great!

Remembering Friends Gone Before Sunrise

I’m out way too early these days.  Stepping onto the front lawn an hour before sunrise, I have to go and walk my Rack around town. 

Since we’re looking for a mile and a half, I’m also seeing the majority of my neighborhood at the same time.

The skies were clear and even crisp which is not all that common here.  Of course anything under 80 is cool to me now.

I’m walking Mr Dog and seeing more people than I used to.  If you want to really meet your neighbors, keep the ears open with no headphones, and get a dog.  You most likely need the exercise, and your dog will benefit from it.

Knowing that Rack is over eager when it comes to other dogs, I tend to hold him back a bit while out.  The problem with that is that other dogs want to say hi, so it is drawing me out to have a chat in someone else’s lawn well before 6AM.

Sorry folks, I’ll try to keep my voice down.

I had stopped listening to the music on the headphones a while back when Lettie got sick.   She was incredible at spotting trouble, but when she lost her hearing, I realized I needed to pick up the slack.  I haven’t started listening since.  I’m noticing that people actually do say hello even in the pre-dawn gloom under those starry skies.

Today when I got to near the mid-point of the walk, someone stopped me and chatted me up.  Sheila knew me from when I walked Lettie and thought that my dog looked different.   I explained that the similarity even gets me sometimes, but I had “lost my Lettie” back in April.  This was Rack, and he’s a puppy of right around a year.

Sheila was talking about her Chow Chow who was her constant companion since three weeks of age.  When she mentioned that she had lost her dog due to Chronic Renal Failure, I had to share my own experiences.   Apparently I was lucky.   In order to keep her dog alive, she had him on an IV Drip Feed for 2 months.  Lettie never stopped drinking water, in fact drank so much that I was letting her out to water the front yard as much as eight times a day.

There’s a spot of grass in front of my house that still is struggling to recover six months later.

I explained that while I wasn’t giving IV, I was syringe feeding her up until the day before her last day.   Sharing war stories is a good way to get past grief, even if in these cold Western Societies, we aren’t expected to grieve over a loss of a dog.

When Sheila began to cry over her lost friend she apologized and explained it was only a month ago when it all happened.

I told her the story of how we rescued Rack and that I was basically ordered to get him when we lost Lettie.  The pain was strong with our own loss but Sheila took comfort in knowing that she could release a little of her own. 

The thing was that I’m still convinced that Lettie’s diet was what killed her kidneys.  I refuse to feed Rack anything that has any content that could be sourced from China as a result.   There is just too much of a culture of deception when it comes to quality control there.  What that means is that I’m feeding my Rack a much better diet than I did with Lettie.  She got a “premium dog food”, but it was made by a large pet food company.   Large pet food companies get the size they did by cutting corners.  I won’t cut corners again.

Rack gets either Merrick or Orijen food.  He’s on Orijen now, and that’s a small company out of Canada using only Canadian products.  No “GMO”, no “foreign” sourced food – and nothing from China.

I may be wrong, but I’m not willing to compromise.   I’ve done quite a lot of quality control in my own software development work.  I understand what it means to have zero defects in a product.   When I hear about “premium dog food” being recalled because there was a “scare” or that there’s a correlation between Chronic Renal Failure in a specific brand, it clearly makes me aware that something is seriously wrong in the product. 

This is the sort of thing that can easily happen with our own food supply.   The whole Taco Bell scare a few years back when it was found out that the beef in their beef tacos was only around 33% beef and the remainder was other “stuff”.  Thankfully the last Taco Bell meal I had was some time back in the mid 1990s. 

Needless to say, I got on this kick with myself and our own food supply.   Making my own food is one thing, it allows me to control the quality of the ingredients, and the other thing about it is that it is vastly cheaper than what sits on a shelf at the store.   Fewer ingredients of better quality, and no preservatives has to help quality and health in the future.

If it is a good idea for the dog, it’s a good idea for you.  Sure, cooking takes more time, but aren’t you worth it?

I know your kidneys are.

Avoiding Astroturfing

We’ve all looked at reviews online.   I actually find them entertaining.   Some sites really do have some over the top reviews where an inconsequential widget like a can opener is shown to be the end all of all creation.

Those are usually very easy to spot.   You will hear about an item on an auction site that has taken a life of its own and frustrated comic writers try to sharpen their wit and see if they get any attention for it.

That is rather harmless, kind of a prank.  A recent one was the three wolf moon T Shirt review on Amazon where putting on the T Shirt has been said to cause the wearer to get the powers of levitation and control over a pack of wolves, specifically in a Wal Mart.  This one has been going on for a couple years now as an established Meme.

But that isn’t astroturfing.   Astroturfing is the practice of posting fake reviews by someone connected with the company or product in order to drive sales or traffic to the site.   They’re usually pretty easy to spot, and pretty easy to avoid.   When you hit a review site like Yelp, simply skip all the Five Star Reviews.  They’re usually written by some second cousin of the owner of the shop anyway.

I’ve spotted them in company reviews posted on Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a site that exists to allow people to research a company they are interested in working for.  Hopefully they will give a glimpse inside the Glass Door to allow them to decide whether the company is worth applying to.   I have seen some reviews on Glassdoor that were clearly written by the owner, and they’re always “called out”.  What generally happens is that someone who was working there will post an anonymous review stating just how awful the company is and how it is mean to puppies and kittens and …   well you get the picture.

But Astroturfing also has a darker side, and luckily we have New York to thank for spotting it.  There’s a practice called “Search Engine Optimization” where a website is written in such a way to raise its ranking on a search engine.  The current wry definition of frustration is the act of proceeding to the second page of a web search in order to find something about something you need.   So webmasters, myself included, will try to add helpful links and comments in the page in order to make it more important and more pertinent to the web search engine.   The problem is that the rules are never told to the webmasters and they change all the time.

Search Engine Optimization is usually a guess.   A “Scientific wild-assed guess” or a SWAG, but a guess.

So what happened in the case of New York is that the State created some yogurt shops and looked for help in getting their pages optimized.   The shops never existed.   Some companies were valid and helped the shop “owners” work their webpages over with some commonly accepted techniques.   Others were more devious and resorted to Astroturfing.  These companies offered to have fake reviews posted in Yelp and others to drive traffic to the site.   That isn’t exactly legal as it deceives the potential client by having people in places like the Philippines and others posting these glowing reviews of a shop that they never visited and doesn’t even exist.

It’s also apparently illegal in New York, and should be illegal everywhere else.

Luckily these reviews are usually easy to spot, and normally easy to avoid.  Just avoid your Three Wolf Moon T Shirt.   It’s out of fashion now and worn “ironically” just like the reviews.

Is it a Barometer or a Tail?

Rack may approve of the recipe I was putting together in the picture, but he wasn’t really sure he should be sniffing around in the kitchen.

That’s what the body language is telling me.  In fact, right after I snapped that shot, he left the room looking confused and walked back to his crate in the back bedroom.

Lately I’ve been paying closer attention to my dog’s tail.  It’s been talking to me.   Nothing really silly, but I realized that I have a very good measure of where “his head is at” simply by watching how he holds his tail.

Now, if you pay attention to your own dog, that should not be a massive breakthrough in dog psychology.  Happy dog wags tail.  Scared dog hides tail between legs.  That’s pretty obvious.

On the other hand, the higher the tail tip, the happier the dog.

I had a visit from Ann down the block.   She was delivering some Avon to us, and she’s one of the few people that Rack actually likes.   He’s gotten territorial about people coming in the house so I will know by his firing off a quick WooWooWoo when someone walks up the driveway or drives up the walkway.

When Ann settled on the couch, she called him and he came over.  Head down slightly but tail wagging furiously.  However, it was down low as well.   He was saying I’m happy to see you, I’m acting submissive, and I’m not completely sure of my place in this but let me say hello nonetheless.

All was well when he finally got to Ann, and he enjoyed a good long pet.

While I’m out and about, Rack’s tail is a very good judge of just how close we are to the big scary world of the trucks and buses that roll way too fast down Wilton Drive.   I don’t know when the City is going to break down and finally follow the will of the vast majority of residents here and narrow Wilton Drive to two lanes, but I know of one dog that will greatly appreciate it.   That will force the people who obey the 30 MPH speed limit by driving “only” 40 MPH off of the Drive, and move the trucks elsewhere. 

Less noise means a happier dog.
Happier dog means higher tail while he’s walking.

The closer to the Drive he gets, the lower the tip of that tail goes.   When I get close enough to the Drive, he’ll actively try to herd me until I turn around.  

I know what you’re up to you silly mutt, you need the exposure, so … not this time, lets go!

We’ve all heard and seen this sort of thing before.   It isn’t any earth shattering news, however, Rack’s tail is like the tone on a Theremin – the closer you get to it, the more the tone changes – or the lower the tail goes.

Ok, it’s the opposite of the tone on the Theremin, but I’m sure you get the simile. 

Surprising what you notice when you just pay a little better attention.   That mostly black tail with its last few white inches whipping in the breeze will tell me more now that I’ve made that particular connection.  Since I’m trying to work him through the trauma of being abandoned and then rescued, any bit of information will help. 

The Genie in the Bottle – Humor

A man is walking along a beach on the west coast of the US, when he discovers a genie lamp buried in the sand. Quite excitedly he picks it up, rubs it and a genie appears.

Genie: Good day, I am a genie! I am not like the genies from the movies though, I can only grant you one wish

Man: That’s superb! I’ve never been to Hawaii, and I’d love to go. But I’m very very afraid of flying, so can you create a highway bridge from here to the island?

Genie: Hm, that sounds like a very big task, even for me! Is there anything else you would rather want?

Man: It would be nice to understand how women think?

Genie: …That highway… do you want 3-lane or 4-lane?

The Twins – Humor

The twins

There were two twin brothers called Juan and Jamal who had grown up and left their family to find their luck far away in two different parts of the country.

After a while, missing his sons, their father went to a trip to see them. When back home, his wife, who had stayed home, asked him about their kids.

“I went first to Juan. He is quite fine” he said.

“What about Jamal, did you visit him as well?”

“No need. If I’ve seen Juan, I’ve seen Jamal”