Now Homeland Security Suggests You Stop Using Internet Explorer Especially With Windows XP

You know things are getting dicey when the Department of Homeland Security gets involved.

Personally I never liked Internet Explorer.   It’s the browser that is baked into every version of Microsoft Windows out there since Windows 95.   The problem is that it’s a single point of failure.   If there’s a deep problem with the browser, your whole computer is at risk.   Slowdowns caused by Internet Explorer are common, and in my own experience it runs like a “Lead Sled”.

I try to use another browser wherever possible.

Now a little more tech jargon.  You may have read about some shadowy problems.  A “Zero Day” or “0-Day” attack.   Simply put, it is an attack at that low level of your software.  You won’t even know that you “got hit” and will be added to a hacker’s portfolio.

Every version of Internet Explorer that is in use since version 2 is involved in this mess.   No matter what version of Windows you are using, you are at risk.  Since they aren’t updating that old software, you really should have upgraded that old copy of Windows 95 well before now.

There is a fix from Microsoft, and you can now get it in Windows Update, and it didn’t even whine at me to restart Windows 8.1.  Until you do there are a few things to consider.

First, get a second browser.   I prefer Firefox, others choose Chrome, still more choose Safari, and there is always Opera.   Pick one and use it.  It is your choice!

Second, if you are on Windows XP, you need to upgrade, Now.  Windows XP will not be fixed at this point.  Microsoft may go back on its word, but you are at this point vulnerable.

Third there is another wrinkle to this mess – Flash.  It’s the most common way most people look at those cute cat videos and the video that I embedded below about this bug.  It has its own Zero Day exploit and needs to be upgraded to version 13. This Flash Bug is also a problem for Mac OSX and Linux, so I will have a busy day upgrading things around the house.  Basically everyone gets hit by this one no matter what computer you have!

With Windows7 and Firefox, you can check by following these steps:

  1. Start Firefox.
  2. Follow this link to the Plug In Checker.  It will open in a new page or browser window.
  3. Any plugins that you run that are out of date will show up with a red button on the right that says “Update Now” – click that button.
  4. It will open another page for Flash.  
  5. Click the check box to refuse the offer of McAfee Security Scan Plus since you just do NOT need that software.
  6. Click the Yellow Install Now Button.
  7. It will open another page, wait a bit, then ask you to save a program.
  8. When your download is complete, run the installer to update.  Flash does not do this behind the scenes.  You will find it in your downloads directory and you will have to run it separately.  The program it downloaded was called “install_flashplayer13x32_mssd_aaa_aih.exe” but it will change through time and versions.
  9. It will ask you if you want to install it, and personally I tell it to tell me to upgrade instead of doing it automatically.   Personal preference.
  10. When you get the green check and the “Installation Complete” message, you can click Finish.
  11. It will then bring up a message saying that you’re done and ask you if you want to get this fantastic deal from someone who I can’t see because my ad blocker has blocked it.   Shoo, Adobe, I don’t want your deals!

Yeah, 11 steps but it goes quickly.

Microsoft has a fix out now for Internet Explorer, but you really do need to get a different browser.   One that supports ad blocking since they’re also a vector for spyware and viruses.

The video from USA Today is at this link if you want to see if your Flash has been updated.

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Crock Pot Curried Chicken Recipe

I was getting static about the chicken I had thawed.  Someone had had quite enough chicken lately and wanted nothing to do with my usual recipes.

No Caribbean Jerked Chicken?
No Barbecue Chicken?
No Grilled Chicken?

*Sigh* Ok, I’ll figure something out.

With the food that came into the house from all angles, plus the Manwich we made, the Chicken sat in the refrigerator one too many days.

I had to cook it, this was too much to waste and it was from a really good supplier.

I woke up that morning thinking I should just get the crock pot.  Rack, my dog, was hovering around his bowl and the crock pot caught my eye, just two shelves above it.

I threw this together in about 10 minutes, everything but the chicken took me all of about 3 minutes.   I was able to get my coffee done in the interim.

If you’re not into Chicken and are one of my Vegetarian friends, and you know who you are, this can easily be made with Tofu, Smoked Tofu, Quorn, or a suitable substitute.

I will say that when I had it for lunch instead of dinner, it was excellent.  So much so that I brought a bowl over to the neighbors and I don’t think it lasted past the time it took me to walk across the street!  Seeing that this was a “Mild Curry”, the next time I do make this, I will double the curry powder to two tablespoons – personal preference.  One Tablespoon is a good first try for most.

Now, while it looks like “ABC Food”, you know Already Been Chewed?, it tasted great!

The ingredients are:

For the first step

  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Curry Powder – or to taste.  1 Tablespoon is mild or just “Savory”.
  • A dusting or pinch of garlic powder to taste.
  • A dusting or pinch of “Chicken Seasoning” to taste.
  • Dehydrated Onion Flakes to taste (Optional)
  • 2 to 3 Pounds Chicken chunks 

For the Second Step:

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1 Can Kernel Corn

For when you unplug your crock pot and are just about ready to serve:

  • 1 Can String Beans

Why do I make it complicated by breaking it into three steps?   Simple, I like crunchy vegetables.  String beans in the can turn into mush if you cook them too long, and every veg I have ever found in a can was precooked.

Yes, you can eat kernel corn uncooked out of the can in an emergency.   Or so I have been told.   Same with Green Beans… and of course your mileage may vary so read your can first.

The Process:

To your Crock Pot, add the following ingredients in order:

  • Cream of Chicken Soup, Water, Curry Powder, Garlic Powder, Chicken Seasoning, Onion Flakes.
  • Stir the ingredients up until you get a good even mix.
  • Add the chicken chunks and mix again to coat everything.

Plug in your crock pot and turn it on for low at the short time setting.  Mine has a setting for 8 hours and I was finished early.

Chicken is cooked at 165F according to the USDA.  I found that my chunks were cooked after 4 hours to 180F, but your time will vary depending on the wattage of your crock pot.   Check the temperature of your chunks with an instant read thermometer at 3 1/2 hours and every 15 to 30 minutes or so after.  Or if you trust your crock pot… don’t!  Personally I hate overcooked chicken so I’m glad I did check!  Chunked chicken cooks faster than a whole breast or parts.

At 1 hour short of when you intend to pull the plug on this, add the following ingredients:

  • Can of Kernel Corn
  • 1 Cup uncooked Basmati Rice

Stir everything in to the mix.  The rice will soak up the extra moisture in the crock pot.

When everything is done and ready to serve an hour later, unplug the crock pot and add the Can of String Beans.  Stir well and serve.

Rack, It Has Been One Year Since We Got You

I have come to expect that when I go into a room, you will be there sitting just outside, in the hallway, waiting for my return.

Walking out of the room, I had to apologize.  You saw that I was looking at you and you just rolled over onto your back.  Stepping closer, I rocked back onto my heel for balance.  You wagged your tail as you always have and managed to put it right under my foot.

Just a slight bit of pressure, you were too absorbed in the act of getting attention, having your belly rubbed, in the hallway and under the air conditioning intake.

Another normal day here.

I’ve had dogs with me since 2001.  You are a very different soul.  A bright and cheery puppy.  A truly gentle and sweet personality.  You came into my life a year ago.  I had just lost my Lettie.  You helped to fill that void.  She and I battled for control all her life and eventually established a balance until she was too old to hold her end up in that bargain.  Then she rolled onto her back once and only once and told me in that one time, that one time only, that her days were growing short.

You were shuttled from an uncaring owner in Rome, GA to a veterinarian’s office where you were surrendered.  From there, you made the trip to Ocala where you sat for 36 days being more confused.  A McNab Dog is way too intelligent for that sort of abuse – sitting in a concrete bunker of a room, your personality spiraled away in fear.  Then the Dog Liberator found you on the same day Lettie left me.   I didn’t know you yet, but within a week I would find you.

You see, I was told to find another dog.  It was a very rough time for us, and you helped us as much as we helped you.

You are no longer shut down.  In fact you have the reputation of being that puppy that jumps six feet in the air.

I’m sure we’re getting talked about.  There’s one cranky woman with a Jack Russell here in town who crosses the street.   You know that dog, the one who starts growling three houses away?  I’m also thinking she needs to work with her dog a bit more.

In that year you shook off the depression you had from being abandoned.  I’m sorry, “Owner Surrendered” is what they called it.  Some people shouldn’t own a picture of a stuffed animal, let alone a dog as intelligent as you are.

The Pit Bull attack two weeks ago is healing.  You have on a T Shirt of mine since the scar is healing and itchy.   That will fade, and we’ve allowed you use of the house again.  I’m no longer on duty watching you every second.

We constantly are told how beautiful you are.   That’s the breed, but it is also you.  Pure black and pure white, glistening in the sun.  We are always told that you look healthy and well.  That came with some effort.   The Orijen food you turn your nose up at helped you heal and get rid of the mange around your eye.  We purged your system of the worms, got your shots, changed to another kind of food that you could actually digest.

You thank Kirby for that every time you see him.  He’s one of your favorite people, a true Friendbeast for giving us the suggestion that brought you to robust health.  When you see Kirby across the street you charge over to say hello as he pets you and you whine in happiness.  When you hear him and his dog walk past the house, you sit up and wag your tail even if you can’t see him through the window.  Every motorcycle that goes by is Kirby.  That little white lie helped you not be afraid of the roar of the motors that are everywhere.

His dog, D.O.G. accepts this and lets you get a little attention.  Remember, D.O.G. is a 165 pound Rottweiler and not a sheep to be herded.  He is getting tired of being climbed over and clambered on.

It has been one first year of many.  There have been a lot of changes in your short life.  The bad memories are fading, and replaced by many more good ones. 

Keep watching over us.  Grumble at the mailman. When the neighbor Bill comes over and I announce “Incoming”, go to the front door to say hello.

Oh by the way, “Incoming” isn’t his name any more than “Murph” is yours.

It’s a busy, noisy, and complex neighborhood with a lot for a smart dog to wrap his head around.  As you adjust we’ll go further.   For now, we’ll stick close to the house.  There is a lot to see within the mile that we wander three times a day.  Sit by the door, wait for us to go out, then you can go.  It’s not just A Rule, it can save your life. 

We’re going into the hot season now.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  Your black fur?  That gets hot.  We won’t mind if you jump in the pool while we’re out there.   Really we won’t.

So enjoy the world.  It’s a big one.  There are a lot more things that we can do, when you’re ready.  You learned that Car can be fun.  Walks can be fun.  Other dogs aren’t always fun but you are figuring out how to read that. 

But.. we’re fun, together.

The Bacon Tree

The Bacon Tree

3 men are wandering hopelessly through the desert, having had no food or drink for days. When suddenly up ahead they see a tree.

“A tree!” Says the first guy, ” Maybe there’s water nearby!”

“Maybe it bears fruit” says the next man.

So they start walking towards it. As they get nearer they are shocked to see that there are pieces of meat growing from the branches.

“Bloody hell, there’s bacon growing on that tree!” Says the first guy, and he runs straight towards it. As he gets there, he reaches out to grab a piece of bacon, when all of a sudden…BANG!…the guy is shot dead.

The other 2 men stop dead in their tracks.

“What was that?!” Says one of them.

Second one replies “That’s no bacon tree…it’s a ham bush!”

Why Can’t The Drums Stop?

Why Can’t The Drums Stop

A man goes on vacation to a tropical island. As soon as he gets off the plane, he hears drums. He thinks, “Wow, this is cool.”

He goes to the beach, he hears the drums, he eats lunch, he hears drums, he goes to a luau, and he hears drums. He TRIES to go to sleep, he hears drums.

This goes on for several nights, and gets to the point where the guy can’t sleep at night because of the drums. Finally, he goes down to the front desk. When he gets there, he asks the manager, “Mister, that’s it!! Why won’t those drummers stop?! I can’t get any sleep!”

The manager replies, “No! The drums must NEVER stop. It’s terrible if the drums stop drumming.”

“Why?”

“When drums stop… bass solo begins.”

Irish Cream Chocolate Mousse Pie Recipe

If ever there was a recipe for my sister, or the ladies, this just might be it.

The bonus is that it’s dead simple and you really don’t have to “cook” for this one.

You need a blender, a microwave or sauce pan, and a ready made graham cracker pie crust.  The chocolate crumb pie crusts would be good as well for a change of pace to maximize your chocolate cravings.

If you don’t like the idea of Irish Cream and the alcohol, or just want to make it a lighter dessert, you can swap in some 2% milk.  If you do use Irish Cream, the recipe is a bit too strong if you don’t split the Irish Cream with Milk. 

My suggestion is that you make the recipe with 3 ounces Irish Cream, 3 ounces of Milk for a balance of flavor.

This recipe really is simple – someone who swears that they can’t cook, or won’t cook, or the kitchen makes them break out in hives would be able to make this.   In fact, if you are looking for a bonding experience with your child and want something safe to make, this recipe could be it.   Just leave out the alcohol in that case since they will want to lick the spoon!

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces of good chocolate broken in to small chips.  The better the chocolate, the better this will be.
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons of Grand Marnier, Cognac, Rum, or Spiced Rum
  • 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups of milk/cream/Irish Cream – if using Irish Cream I suggest 3 ounces each of Irish Cream and Milk
  • Optional Pinch of Salt (that I always forget on purpose)
  • Ready made Graham Cracker Crust pie shell or Chocolate Crumb pie shell

Preparation

  • Set out your pie shell.
  • Add to blender Chocolate, Egg, Vanilla, Grand Marnier or Rum, sugar, and salt.
  • Pulse blender until it has been well mixed.
  • Warm the Irish Cream and milk until it not quite boiling.  This can be done in the microwave without fear of scorching.  About 180F would be the correct temperature since the object is to get it hot enough to melt the chocolate.
  • Pour Irish Cream mixture into the blender and blend until smooth.  This will take about a minute or so.  The more air you pump into the mix, the more light and fluffy your pie will be.
  • Pour the chocolate into the pie shell and chill for at least an hour.  

The better the chocolate, the better your results!  I have made this recipe with Chocolate chips, some chocolate bars that were sent to me by my sister, and a mix of chocolates I have had around the house.  All were good, some were better than others!  This recipe could also work well with butterscotch chips if you want something completely different.

The Weird, Twitchy, Semi-OCD Way to Brew The Perfect Mug Of Coffee

You got your Care Package.  Your box of random stuff.  Thank you.  I wish I could have done more.  I really do appreciate your support and help over the years. 

Inside you’ll find some of my home roasted coffee.  You said you wanted a challenge and you wanted to experience all sorts of different brews and blends.   You wanted to see what the stuff looked like before it was roasted, and what it would look like at a very dark roast.

Remember this is all about what You Like.  Not what I like.  What I like is irrelevant.  When you find a roast you like, let me know and I’ll make that for you from now on out.  If you like it all, then I’ll just make a selection.  Some people know what good is and it’s all arbitrary.

I gave you that.  There are some green beans in a little jar.  That’s more of a “souvenir” or a coffee table trinket than something to drink.  I’ve drank green coffee beans before.  The result is a weird witches’ brew that tastes grassy and like the cream and sugar you put into it.

It’s also chock full of caffeine unlike anything you ever drank before.

Why?  The shorter the roast time, the less that you actually expose the beans to the heat, the more caffeine is “retained” in the beans.  That’s the “science content” of making a cup.

You have some “First Crack” – that’s the light tan stuff that the hipsters are drinking now.  Think Red Bull with a coffee taste.  I only gave you a little of this because it’s kind of harsh to me.

You have some Second Crack.  That looks “normal brown” with no oil on the outside of the beans.  This is what I shoot for on a regular roast.  It’s called “Full City” and it is where the stuff starts to taste good with a slight edge to it.

You have some Second Crack plus 30 seconds.  Just the barest beginning of a hint of oil on the outside of the beans.  If I roast this far, I’m happy but I don’t like it personally when the beans get roasted longer.

You also have some Second Crack plus 2 minutes.  Deep and oily, this is French Roast.  That’s what people tend to think they want for dark coffee.

The thing is that what people are drinking is the actual “Roast” of the coffee – that is where coffee taste comes from.   Caffeine drops the longer you roast.

They’re all unground so you can take your own time to drink this stuff.   The reason is that once you grind your beans, they begin to oxidize within two weeks.   Never grind more than 2 weeks worth of beans.   In fact, I only roast what I will drink within a week.

Roast today, Drink tomorrow.  There is a lot of Carbon Dioxide to “off-gas” from the beans when you roast, and it can take three days for some beans to off-gas.   Once the off gassing has finished, the best flavor can occur. 

I have heard of freshly roasted beans off gassing enough to burst a glass jar.   I haven’t seen it, but it is kind of a neat experiment!

That’s today.  It took 2 days to get there and it took me a day to pack, so these are 4 days old.  Enjoy them, I can always roast more.

Ok, that OCD thing?  Yeah you can go nuts.  People pay hundreds of dollars for a burr grinder, thousands for a roaster, and $50 a pound for Jamaica Blue Mountain is common.  Kopi Luwak is beastly expensive which is appropriate for a coffee that came out of a cat’s butt.

I’m not fond of Jamaica Blue, that’s just marketing and that the Japanese have cornered the market.   Let them enjoy.

My favorite is Guatemalan.  Hard to wreck those beans, they’re almost always sweet, almost always wonderful.  This is what you got.  The last of my Guatemalan coffee.  I’m now on a Nicaraguan that is about as good, but slightly different taste.

Now that brewing OCD?  Here we go…

Get a 20 ounce French Press.   Forget the K Cups – that is just Green Mountain Coffee trying to corner the market and their coffee is barely drinkable.   Green Mountain Coffee is one step above instant.

Weigh out between 25 grams and 30 grams of beans.  29 grams is an ounce.  I usually go either 27 or 28 grams.

Yes. Grams.  Get a gram scale.  You need it for baking anyway.   Scoops are random and inaccurate – this is between 3 and 5 scoops of unground beans.

Grind your beans around 30 seconds.   A burr grinder is nice but unnecessary.  Mine is a blade grinder and a bit coarse.  I grind to a near espresso powder.  The reason is that it is surface area that influences how much of the coffee oil gets into your brew.   You want coffee with oil.  Really, you do.  Mediocre coffee that has been on the shelf at the market for two weeks has coffee oil that has begun to spoil by oxidizing.  This is peak now.  Their coffee was roasted as much as months ago.   Blah.

Water.   Fill your whistling tea kettle.  Old school, yes, but effective.   Wait for the water to begin to make the kettle whistle.  This will give you water just shy of 212F.  Pour the water into a large glass container.  I use a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup made of nice thick glass.  You will want 20 ounces of water in that measuring cup.

Take the water’s temperature and wait for it to come down to 190F.   This should take about a minute, more likely less.  It may even pour into the measuring cup at 190F.  It takes a little time to walk across the kitchen anyway, right?

Why all this nonsense?  The hotter the water, the more bitter the coffee.   If you want a more bitter coffee, then don’t wait, pour immediately over the grounds.   If you don’t just take the time, pet the dog, look out the kitchen window at the back yard for a minute and check the “Instant Read Thermometer”.  Remember, 190F. 

Pour the water over grounds and stir.   It will “bloom”.  The grounds that still haven’t off gassed will float to the top.  You can break that up, it won’t have too much of an effect on the taste.  Just stir occasionally for up to about 5 minutes.  I’ve forgotten and let it sit for 15 minutes and while I can taste the difference, most would just shrug.

Add your cream or creamer, and your sugar or sweetener.   I use all that artificial crap which sounds ironic since I take so much effort and time with the brew.   Ok, I’m not perfect, but this is how I do it.

Like I said semi-OCD, not fully OCD.

All this crap that I said you need?  The Pyrex Measuring cup, instant read thermometer, grinder, and even the French Press can be found at a thrift store for under $20 total.  The roaster is a hot air popcorn popper.  I paid $4 plus tax.   Want to pay retail?  Probably can be done for less than $50 but you really don’t need to spend all that.  It’s basic.  Your grandparents might have gone through this “back in the day” before corporate coffee came around and they would have done it by eye.  Basically that is how I do it now – by eye.  You wanted to hear how I did it and now I’m chuckling that I did as much fiddling as I have to get it right.

But “Right” for coffee… yeah, it’s really about what you think is right.  Go ahead and fill the Mr. Coffee, if that is how you like it, enjoy!