Writer’s Block, the roof, and My Dog’s Look Of Fear – Picture

I had gotten to a “Logical Breakpoint” and stood up.  Having walked the dog already this day, I wasn’t expecting any weirdness around the house.  I was wondering what I would concentrate on this morning.  I had a blog posting to write and nothing came to mind.  I’ve also got a number of web pages to complete for the board and for CANA here in town.

It’s been wet for a couple days, and today was going to be a 50 percent chance of storms.  If you have ever lived in South Florida or visited for any length of time that means that there is a 100 percent chance that 50 percent of us will get monsoons.  The rest of us may get wet or may not.  Good luck guessing which group you are a part of.

I told Kevin that meant that nobody would be here to work on the house today, just too wet.  It’s warm enough but too wet.

After a couple of cool days, this was the first day that we’d had with a morning low at or above 70F.

I walked to the door and saw it.  “Hey, there’s a truck in the swale!”.

In that moment, I knew I was not going to have a quiet day.

My roof had failed back in December and for the better part of the holidays I was living an I Love Lucy era episode of a TV show.   It was “1950’s Sitcom” life with pans on the floor to catch the rain that ran down the roof and onto the desks in the Florida Room.   The roof must be replaced.

We went through the two days of stripping then resealing the roof.  Decking was repaired.  I got used to having access to it and even climbed up there to cut down the bougainvillea that was growing due up instead of onto the arbor back behind the windows in the Florida Room.

Monday would be nice.  80 and sunny, morning low of 70.  I expected it THEN.

Now the truck was disgorging its cargo of men, machines, and glue.   I was going to have a day of banging and sweeping.

These days, installing a tile roof meant that they would glue them to the roof.  Who knew?  I also didn’t expect that they could do anything with glue on a wet roof, but apparently my knowledge of Project Management doesn’t extend to construction.

They climbed up onto the roof and began moving the tiles.  Each tile was a variegated thing.   Terracotta with black and tan splotches.  Should look quite nice and “distinctive” as the salesman said.

Now it was getting installed.

I knew Rack wouldn’t like it.  When I came back in from taking out the trash bins, I walked into the laundry.  It’s in the No Go Zone, or so I thought.  He walked past the trashcan monster and right into the laundry to the Port Hole.   I have two glass panes in the door so Rack can look out like Lettie did before him.  He’s just discovering it.   I immediately comforted him to let him know that this is safe for dogs and went back to loading the dryer.


Bangbangbang, sweepsweepsweep, bangbangbang.

Rack turned tail and vanished.   If you have never met my dog, he’s a McNab.  Incredibly intelligent and sensitive, he still has issues with random noises from when he was abandoned by his first owner at a shelter.  It wasn’t going to be a good day for him.

He is also fast.  Very fast.  He vanished silently like a dart into the main part of the house.

Closing the dryer, I finally found him after doing a perimeter search.   Next to My Big Green Chair in the living room is a table.  It has an inlaid leather chess board and sits high enough off the ground to play chess or any other game you might like.  It also has his third mat there and he’s taken to sitting next to me when I am watching TV.  I can reach down and pet him whenever I like.  That is one of the nicest things of having a dog, someone nearby to comfort you when you need it, and you can be reassured all is well by his presence.

Not today.  He’s hiding there.  Nose on the floor, he looks up when the noises stop and start.  I can’t say I blame him for hiding.  I did too.  I’ve got my coffee next to me on my bouncy Poang work chair, and the headphones on.  Thankfully they’re noise cancelling.  They muffle the pounding that is outside my own head causing the pounding on the inside. 

It doesn’t do a thing for the dog, but he needs the exposure.

You see with a dog with Noise Issues, you have to make sure that he gets exposed to some noises but not too much.  It is a thing of finesse to find out how much he can take.  Then you have to purposely expose him to a little more each time.  We do this a couple times a week in front of Wilton Manors City Hall on the wall.   Trucks go by.  People walk past.  Dogs bark.  Horns blow.  Rack sits down and shudders.  Then shivers.  Literally vibrating, he will sit for the time we’re there.  Each time we visit, it notches down a slight bit in its intensity.  By the time we leave, he’s more than ready to go, but the shivering has stopped.

This will be one of those days.   When they put the first two layers down, Rack was a mess but when he recovered, Rack was better than he was the day before the chaos reigned.

Lemonade.  I think we will make lemonade out of those lemons and sit here in the banging.

Happy Birthday Kevin. Here’s Your Cake!

Ok, so it is a slightly wrecky two layer chocolate cake, but BOY was it ever good!

It’s our thing here.  I make a three layer cake.  I freeze two layers.  I Ice one layer and turn that into dessert.  That way we get three different half cakes and they’re all fresh. 

Yes, I have indeed found a way to “Right-size” a cake.

Why Pink?  Burma-Shave!  I don’t know, I just saw that little bottle of red food color number whatever and thought why not?

Now to all you cake decorators out there, and you know who you are, the reason why the icing is uneven is because I’m crap at decorating.   The other thing is that you should always chill your icing before you put it on the cake.  Not to freezing, but “room temperature” is not the best idea for Buttercream Frosting.  The top layer slid a little bit in a tectonic shift that made it look like a San Andreas Fault fragment relocated to South Florida.

I’ll set the lawn chair upright in a second.

Anyway, it was damn good even if I do say so myself.  A bit too sweet icing if you ask me, but this is not my cake.  I also have enough icing leftover to do it again in all its Pink Glory.  If it were for me, I’d make up some chocolate ganache and turn the whole bloody thing into a giant brown truffle, but that’s not mine even if I will enjoy half of it’s pinkness.

Ladies, sing with me the song of your people:  “Mmmm Chocolate Truffles!”.

All hail the pink half wrecky-cake!  Nom Nom Nom.

Forecastfox – Getting Radar My Way in Firefox

I find myself setting this up from time to time.  I end up creating a new computer, or a virtual computer and want a little strip of weather info in my browser.

ForecastFox does what I need.  It works fairly well, supports multiple locations, and does have a bit of flexibility in how you can configure it.

It comes “out of the box” set up for New York City.  Since I live in South Florida, that doesn’t work for me.

Since I also have quite a few years of programming, I can fix that. 

The nice thing is that “fixing” that isn’t that tough.

They give you a helpful search box that sets everything up for you.  Type in your US Zip Code and it will find your city.   The defaults work nicely, but the address for the radar doesn’t work for me.  Radar doesn’t change with the city so you end up looking at the temperature and conditions for “your area” and the radar for the Northeast US.

Not so helpful.

Also it makes a small radar display which, while it works, we can do better.

First, install Forecast Fox.  I’m going to assume that you know how, since it’s one of the more popular updates to Firefox or Chrome.

It should put a web page up before you telling you that it will update your information immediately.

If it didn’t, hover over the current conditions and right click on them for the pop up.   Select “options” and the web page will open.

In the locations box, type in your zip code and hit enter.   It will create a basic profile for that location.  You can then hover over the other profile for New York, NY and Remove or Rename the extra one.

If you want multiple locations, tick the box and it will switch through them every minute or more.

The bit I need to change is the Toolbar Display.  Since the radar sites are not linked, I go through the same steps every time I do this.

First, in another window or tab, I surf to www.wunderground.com.  It will try to detect your location, if it doesn’t search for your zip code or city name.

The radar display on the page has a link on it if you hover over top.  Select “NEXRAD” radar.   Zoom in and out until you get just the view you want.   Click on the “Animate” link to make the radar move.  On the bottom left of that display you will find a link that says “View/Save This Image”, click on the link. 

The  result is that you will now have a browser page that will show the view you just had.  It will be animated, and there will be no extra bits like ads or controls to move it. 

Copy the address of the picture by right clicking on the image and selecting “Copy Link Location” from the pop up.

That picture and the url are what you want.   But you can do better…

Go back to your Forecastfox Weather configuration page and find the Toolbar Display section.  In the Radar (Or Satellite) box, select Custom.   Click inside the URL box and do the following keystrokes:

  1. Ctrl+A
  2. Ctrl+V

That will select everything in the box and paste the copied URL from the picture into the box.  What I do here is change the size of the picture to something a bit larger.  The width and height can be changed to the size you want.  Default was 480 by 320 but I changed mine to 1024 by 768.

Why did I do that?  Because, Radar.  More specifically, I have a large screen and would like to use it.  Now when I hover over that little green radar icon in my status bar at the bottom of my browser, I get a big picture instead of a little one.  

You can also turn on some of the other weather data, and change the number of days displayed.  Mine is 5 days and 2 text labels.

The end result is this oversized picture that is below.

Have You Ever Had One Of Those Mornings?

I am smiling.  I’m also shaking my head.   It’s been an amusing day, and it’s been the last hour that is the cause of it.

I have a groove.  I know what I will be doing at a given time of day for the most part.  When something shakes up my groove, hilarity may ensue.

I also have people around me who think it’s entertaining to upset my groove.   Those people need to be duct taped to the ceiling fan and then the fan turned on full so they spin merrily above the ground.

Or something like that.

Been up early and got the dog out for his walk.  He dragged me out to the shopping center near the house. 

No. Big. Deal. 

I didn’t think anything of it until we rounded the corner.  You see, Rack is “noise averse”.  Drop something on the floor and he’ll jump.  He was about to experience a lot of noise all at once.  The shopping center has been in the process of being painted for the last month or so.   They do it before the businesses open, so you may not have seen it unless you’re at the gym, walking your dog, or a “leftover” from the last night bar crowd.

No. Big. Deal. 

We got to the place that they were working and his dragging me toward the noise became a big “Nope” and he started dragging me away.   As in total fear toward the loud growly equipment. 

Deal.  You will survive.  In fact it’s good for him to be exposed to it and survive.   He did, we got past and he almost immediately went “normal”.

Whatever the heck that is.

Flying through the normal morning routine… er, whatever that is, I managed to get to the point where I needed to leave.  Not completely, the laptop might be needed and it was sitting stuck at 30% update where it had been for the better part of the last half hour.  

Nope.  Stay home computer, you’re drunk.

Getting into the Jeep, I piled my neighbor into it for a trip out to the Hospital where she was to be dropped off for a procedure.  

On the way… I have to say South Florida Drivers need to stop messing about and concentrate on their driving.

Between the woman in front of me at the light at Dixie and Prospect doing her Mascara, and the woman at the bus stop with the see through bottoms, it was a scenic drive.

I didn’t point that out to my neighbor as I dropped her off and got back into the Jeep.

Heading back I saw two different morons texting, and a fool trying to convince a pickup truck with a giant arrow sign pointing into the center lane moving at a walking pace to move faster.

Not. Gonna. Happen.  Oh wait!  You’re a snowbird.  Go back to Ontario, you’re drunk.

Playing with the radio, the local “Party Station” was talking about the Bronies of Kendall.  I had to think about this one.  I’m all for diversity, I’m pretty “diverse” myself, but I still can’t wrap my head around the attraction of technicolor plastic ponies and the society around it.  On top of it, the presenter made her announcement then went into a story about a barn in Germany that exploded due to cow “wind” followed by every bad pun she could think about referring to Cows, Bulls, and Farming in general.

Better to pull into the driveway and wash the Jeep.  It’s much safer.  The roads are a strange place.

With the music pouring out of the house singing the praises of being in America, I realized that the British Forces Broadcast Services were having an odd day as well.  It ended that song with the presenter telling all the British Armed Forces, and one guy in South Florida about his long nose hair that had to be pulled out.

“Crikey!  That’s long!  That came out of me?”

Weirdness is universal.   We’re all weird.  Some of us just get to do it publicly.  Now, my BFBS Gibraltar Presenter is talking about Going Commando. 

I think “all this in one hour?”  It’s time for another mug of coffee.   It is going to be a strange day.

Feeding Time at the Zoo or Service Pack 1, You Decide

My coffee table is full. 

Mind you, I almost never use it for actual coffee.  I prefer to set my coaster on the floor next to the low slung Ikea Poang Chair just inside reach.  It’s also within Dog’s Nose Range and he’s getting curious. 

My McNab Dog, Rack, is already hyperkinetic.  There isn’t a dog on the island that can hold a candle to my boy when we’re outside.  He’ll see a dog he likes or some certain people and he’s airborne.  Jumping five feet into the air is nothing to this black and white spring.  We will just avoid giving my dog coffee, even if it is Half-Caff.

But he was much more mellow this morning, the edge seems to be blunting on his puppy hood insanity, finally.

The coffee table on the other hand has gotten filled with laptops.  My neighbor fried his install of Windows 7 and since I helped his mother get him the thing for xmas a couple years back, we’re helping him get back on the road. 

Clicked on the wrong link did you?   We’ll see what we can do. 

Meanwhile, I’m reworking a computer of mine.  It is the one I wanted to use this morning, so I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a helpful message on my screen.  

At 7AM, I’m walking to my chair, setting the coffee mug on the floor on a bar coaster, and grumbling that there were some updates that needed to happen.  Ok, only three?  Lets do it.

That would be where I needed to actually Read what I saw on the screen, it was a Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update.

Techies know what I’m going to be doing for the next hour or so.  “Civilians”…

Sighing, it’s time to go into the kitchen, make some breakfast.

Rack, my ever faithful sidekick stood at the entry to the galley kitchen.   Nut Brown eyes peering through my soul, I asked “Show me what you want, Rack?”.  He neatly stood up and walked out to the back door.  I let him out thinking that it was great, now I could have breakfast in peace.

*sigh* What is it Oscar?
Here we go!  Boom!  There it is! Boom!  Herewegoherewegoherewego!  Bwa HAHAHAHAHELLO!BOOM!

I see we have a comedian.  I start up on the bowl of cereal and look out on the Cement Pond in the backyard.

Hmm, Boom, that’s a new one.
Hello, Oscar.

I guess the backyard didn’t “take”, Rack is staring at my reflection in the back door.   I sidle over to the kitchen sink, and start talking to Oscar.

Hello, Oscar!  Good morning.
Head cocked to the side, Rack stares a hole through me from the yard.  He’s wanting what I have or more likely what I haven’t had yet for breakfast. 

HELLO! HellLOW!  Urp.

More head cocks to the side.  First left, then right, the white stripe on Rack’s head is signalling low flying aircraft to try to land at the Fort Lauderdale Airport instead of his head.

BahbahbahbahbahHELLObahbahbahWAHHAHAHAHAHAhahahaha!  HELLO!
I finish the cereal, pour out my cranberry and yogurt.  Really good batch this time too.
Head is tilting to the side still. 

I walk out to look in on the technology taking a nap in the living room.   I’m being yelled at by a Parrot, a dog wants my food, and my laptop went to sleep. 

Wiggle the little trackpoint on the keyboard. 

Do Not Unplug Your Computer.
Update 3 of 3.
Please Wait.

I’m now grumbling at Microsoft.   Hey, the cereal didn’t make me “not hungry” yet, I’ve got a right to be grumpy!

Finally, I get low enough on the bowl of yogurt to set it into Rack’s bowl.  He gets let inside and proceeds to attempt to lick the top layer of glass off the bowl.

Like that stuff do you?

Oscar is still making a racket on his cage.  I walk over and open his door.  By now Rack is finished and staring at me.  Fine.  Time for Bird and Parrot to meet.

I get Oscar out of his cage and lower him to dog’s nose.  Oscar didn’t like that and growled.  Rack is a complete paper tiger and trots off.   So I set Oscar on the floor.  You see, despite my technology timing problems, It Is A Good Day.  Why is it a good day?  Every day that a parrot doesn’t poop on the living room floor is a good day!

Rack comes over gingerly and decides that he doesn’t need to be quite so close.   I figure that this is a good quick meeting all said and done and set Oscar back into his cage.

My laptop chores are at an end, I hear the windows chime that says it’s starting up.  May as well grind my gears on the machine.   Service Pack 1 is installed, I’ve got things to do.  If you are tied up for an hour, give or take, you may as well play with the dog and the parrot!  They seem to like that sort of thing anyway.

Hot Air Balloon – Humor

Hot Air Balloon

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”
“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.
“I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”
“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help so far.”
The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”
“I am,” replied the balloonist. “But how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow it’s my fault!”

Jim and Mary – Humor

Jim and Mary are patients at a Mental Hospital

They have been living there for quite some time and every morning when its nice outside they go and walk around the grounds.

One day on a nice March morning they are walking the grounds as usual when all of a sudden Jim jumps into the deep end of the pool and sinks to the bottom. As soon as he does this Mary jumps in after him and pulls him out essentially saving his life.

Well, word of Mary’s good deed spreads around the hospital and the next morning she is called into her doctors office.

The doctor says to Mary “I’m quite sure you know why your here… you’ve been her a few years and if you remember correctly you are here because a judge ordered it because you had no sense of harm to other people and since you saved Jim yesterday it is clear that your stay here has helped so we have decided to have you do a live at home program where you live one week at home and one week here… what do you think about all this Mary?”

Mary after hearing all this is just ecstatic she can finally live at home, sleep in her in her own bed and eat her own food. Shes about to say that she loves the idea until the doctor cuts in.

“I do have some bad news though… as you probably know Jim was put here because of his multiple suicide attempts, what you saved him form was one of his attempts but I’m sorry to say that even though you were successful yesterday this morning we found that Jim had hanged himself in his bathroom, I’m sorry”

Mary looks confused and says “You have it all wrong doctor Jim didn’t hang himself that’s just where I put him to dry”