A Man Wants To Cross A Bridge

A Man Wants To Cross a Bridge

…but a knight won’t let him unless he answers three questions correctly but with each wrong answer, the knight promises to cut off parts of his body.

The man agrees. The first question is incorrect and the knight chops off his arms.

Likewise, the second question is incorrect and the legs were sliced off.

Lastly, he answers the third one incorrectly and off his head goes when the knight separates it from its torso.

“Shall we have a fourth question?” Asked the knight.

The man replied, “I should quit while I’m a head.

More Mommy, Mommy? Shut Up And …

Mommy, Mommy! Why can’t we give Dad a decent burial?
Shut up and keep flushing.

Mommy, Mommy! Daddy’s on fire!
Shut up and get the marshmallows!

Mommy, Mommy! Daddy fell in the campfire!
Shut up and get the barbecue sauce!

Mommy, Mommy! Daddy’s running down the street!
Shut up and step on the gas!

Mommy, Mommy! I don’t want to see Niagara falls!
Shut up and get back in the barrel!

Mommy, Mommy! I want to play with Sheldon!
Shut up and close the coffin!

Mommy, Mommy! Is this the way to make pickles?
Shut up and get back in the barrel!

Mommy, Mommy! Daddy went through the meat grinder!
Shut up and eat your hamburger!

Mommy, Mommy! How will we ever find Daddy on this golf course?
Shut up and search the sand traps!

Mommy, Mommy! I’ve lost my fingers!
Shut up and eat your french fries!

One Happy Dog

Have you ever heard of a Velcro Dog?

A Dog that is constantly under foot because they want to be with you always?

Never wanting you out of sight?

Glued to your legs?

Sleeping at your side?

Rack isn’t it.

Rack will follow me around the yard, but not closely.  He takes a more subtle approach.  Where I am, unless there is something that catches his attention, he will be watching from a distance.

I was out back roaming the property, doing my own version of a Perimeter Search.  Before the heat of the day, looking at the foliage, enjoying the morning cool – or what passes for it, and generally just being there, I managed to keep both of us entertained.  It was one of those rare times where it was quiet, there weren’t any pests to chase off, and even the Monarch Caterpillars couldn’t be found on their milkweed plants.

I had the camera, so I was preoccupied with taking pictures and trying not to fall into the swimming pool.  Since there wasn’t a lot of nature, I wasn’t too successful at finding anything really all that interesting to take pictures of.

All the while I was being watched.

Why not point the camera at the dog?

The thing is, they learn.  In the case of my own Rack, he learns very quickly.  The lesson of the day is “Flash Bulbs Are Annoying”.

Some people don’t like walking around with a big blue dot obscuring their vision for up to about five minutes or so.  Why would you expect a dog to be any different?   Lettie was so insistent that she would turn her head away and wander off when she saw the little black camera in my hand.

Silly dog, I almost always have a camera in hand.

But Rack hasn’t quite learned that level of contempt for what passes for Photography.  He may have learned that outside in the bright, the flash may not even go off.  I am not sure, but it is possible, he’s a brilliant mind for a dog.

Remember though, as a Canine Police Officer said to me once: On Their Best Days, They’re Still A Dog.

I took to entertaining myself.  I was looking for The Shot.  I got about 20 shots this particular day, and the best one was spoiled by my cutting his nose off.

Oh well, it’s digital, and Rack didn’t seem to mind.

As he saw me with camera in hand, he first started looking away and realized that the flash wasn’t going off in the Morning Sun.  So what did he do?  Came for a visit.

I finally got to the point where I thought I had what I wanted and stopped the exercise.  Rack was enjoying the morning, sniffing the air, smiling that gap mouthed grin, and liking the situation.

Sometimes, you just have to step back and smell the night blooming jasmine, relax, and enjoy the day.

Dragonfly on Bougainvillea Picture

There’s something about a rainy week that brings out something new here.

First the new mosquitoes.  Hide inside for a day or two at dusk and sunrise or you’ll end up feeding your very own flock of pets.  Trust me on that one.

Then two days or three perhaps, later, they arrive.  Gliding on the breezes, hovering over land and suddenly veering off to a random direction and gone.  Other times they’ll swoop over any body of water for a drink.  The only way you know they got there is the series of small rings that show on the surface from their impact.

Dragonflies can be quite large, but this one wasn’t.  It was basking in the golden hour, about an hour or two after sunrise, collecting its insect thoughts, perhaps pondering where would it find its next meal of tasty mosquitoes.

Tasty because they’re fed by me, that is.

But breakfast hadn’t shown its head either.  The air was clear of them, or so I thought.  My own hide not having been pierced yet, nor have I been considered a landing strip of the nasties.

This particular little jewel simply perched on a denuded branch that I created by going after the long vines of the bougainvillea hedge behind the Florida room.  Dragonflies will do that.  Instead of perching somewhere that you would expect them to on a more sturdy part of a plant, they’ll edge out to the very tip and stand there looking serene and beautiful.

It also didn’t seem to care that I was looking at it.   I was able to go back inside the house, having forgotten the rule of always bring your camera, and get a series of about 10 pictures.

All the while smiling at its beauty.

Outlook.com – How To Block Messenger

Microsoft, please don’t annoy me before 6AM.

I had gotten in after the dog walk, settled in for some iced tea, and wanted to check my email once the computer got started.

Using www.outlook.com has never been a pleasure for me.  I want an email service that stays out of my way with extra “features” that I don’t want.   Having a chat service tied into an email program that is a bloated mess was not my choice.  Even Hotmail.com was better than the steaming pile of garbage that Outlook.com has been bloated into.

At the lower left of the browser screen was a helpful “Messaging” area with little icons of people who I have written in the past.  I found myself immediately looking for a way to turn it off.  After wasting a half hour in the “Byzantine” settings menu in Outlook, I went to do a search for how to do it.  I found this page suggesting that I add an entry into a low level file and restart my computer.   The low level file is a text file called “Hosts” that your computer reads in when it starts.  What Hosts does is to override networking.  

In Windows it is at C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc and Linux keeps it at /etc/hosts which would be where I would expect to find it on Mac OSX.

Some very basic and oversimplified networking concepts.

If you type in http://www.ramblingmoose.com your computer doesn’t know what that does. It consults your network stack, finds the gateway, and then talks to your internet service provider.  In this case it looks at a giant phone book called your DNS and gets the IP Address of the site.  Since my blog points to a blogger site, that number changes, and it’s hosted by Google anyway. 

But I can change that.

If I bring up Hosts in notepad or any other TEXT editor, I can add in a line saying that a specific IP address is to be used when you go to a specific web address or URL.

For example, if I want to block Google, I add a line to the file:

127.0.0.1  http://www.google.com

Save the file and restart the computer.

This works for some sites that are advertising providers and other nuisance sites.  My own Hosts file is pretty large having gotten one that has most of those malware and advertising sites that were known at the time.

But all this is annoying to maintain.  Fortunately, there is an easier way to do it.

Adblock Edge or Adblock Plus in Firefox and whichever other browsers it supports.  Adblock Edge is always the first thing I add when I install Firefox.  It allows me to block ads, hide pictures, and even block whole websites (domains) if I choose to from a semi-friendly interface.

Simply add a custom “rule” to adblock to block the following URL:

geo.gateway.messenger.live.com

It would be a whole lot simpler if Microsoft had decided that it would give you a way to block that Messaging app within Outlook.com settings, but they chose not to.  Luckily I can turn it off and get some things done.

How to add a custom rule:

  • Ctrl+Shift+F will open a window called “Adblock Edge Filter Preferences”.
  • Click on the “Add Filter” button in the upper right of the window.
  • In the blue box, enter geo.gateway.messenger.live.com and Enter.
  • Close the window by clicking the Close Box.
  • When you refresh Outlook.com in your browser, it will be blocked in that browser only.

Peat Pots Out Of Used Coffee Grounds Didn’t Quite Work

*sigh* That’s the thing with these Internet projects.  Sometimes they work first time, every time.  Other times, not so good.

Looking at my results, I see two things that could be possible.

First.  You mix coffee grounds, flour, and water and make a mud.  I think that my mud wasn’t quite wet enough.  Sure, it held together like a snowball, but it was still a little brittle.  Next time, I’ll add extra water, try again, and report back. 

Second.  It’s possible that I didn’t bake or “fire” them long enough or at the right temperature.  When I made salt dough for some footprints of Lettie’s feet, I baked them, then baked them again.  There was no visible sign of wetness anywhere.  Two years down the line, they’re inside of a picture frame and look very solid.  This is basically salt dough where the salt is replace with coffee grounds.  If you check the picture of the results, the inside of the pots looked markedly wetter than the outside.  The one that fell apart was probably too thin for the job.  The second one that is intact in the picture fell apart later that same afternoon when I got wet soil in there.

In case you’re curious, yes I will do it again when I have enough coffee grounds.  I generally have coffee a couple times a week, so at 26 grams of grounds per mug, that will take a while to get to where I want to be.  Since I always need plant pots, this will help me out if I can figure out all the fine tuning.  

I must be that big kid that likes to play in the mud.

I usually have some seeds somewhere that need a little help to get them going.  I’ve planted loads of weird things since I landed here in the land of sunshine, palm trees, and critters that try to move your house away.  The pots now have been scooped up and placed in some decidedly non-biodegradable but recyclable plastic pots saved from some cream cheese containers, and are going to serve as the start for some “regular” lemon tree seedlings.  I have more seeds rooting if the originals don’t “take”.

By the time I get enough coffee grounds for the second try in a month or so, I’ll have more seeds to try again.  I would like to start a Key Lime from seed.  Why not?  I have always loved a challenge no matter what it has been in, whether horticulture, agriculture, or technology!

Linux – Cloning Your Hard Disc on RaspberryPi and Raspbian

For a credit card sized computer, it’s been getting a lot of abuse.

I’ve been installing and uninstalling software since I got the thing from my buddy Craig in Atlanta, and not always having success.

Instead of completely reloading the operating system from the “official” image, I decided to do a backup of the computer.

Boring stuff that anyone who uses a computer on any operating system should do on a schedule.

While Windows can be made automatic, it’s fussy.  You don’t have the control over the operating system like you do in Linux, any Linux.  Anything I am doing on this little credit card sized computer, I can do on my bigger Thinkpad T60 laptop that is running a very similar version of Linux.  I would expect these same steps to work on my Debian computers, as well as any derived distribution like Ubuntu.   Just check your “switches” to make sure they “comply”.

That’s the strength and the weakness of Linux.  There’s so much flexibility it’s confusing, but in the flexibility you can get the operating system to do what you want and exactly what you want.

But you have to know what you’re doing.

Since the RaspberryPi only had an 8GB SDHC chip for it’s “disc drive”, it would be small enough and easy enough to backup.  Since it is Linux, why not just make a complete copy of the operating system and all the user data?

Clone the hard drive.

What I did was to cheat.  I did it from the desktop of the RaspberryPi.
Why is that a cheat?  Because files “could be left open” which means you are never 100 Percent Sure that everything gets copied.

The solution with the Raspi is to go into “raspi-config” and set the switch  in “Enable Boot to Desktop/Scratch” to go to “Console Text Console”.  That will put you in what we used to call “Single User Mode” and everything will be closed and there will be no doubt.

But, Me?  I’m cheating and it turned out fine.  No corruption and I was able to switch chips (hard drives) and it booted from the cloned chip with not a problem in the world.

On the other hand, I will be using these instructions to do exactly this on my “real” Linux laptop, an older Lenovo Thinkpad T60 machine.  I have the spare hard drives there too and why not?

Process:

  • Prepare a chip as a hard drive that is the same size or larger than your original drive.  That will need to be formatted FAT32 which can be done on any operating system that supports it.
  • Open a root terminal.
  • Close all other tasks that are running that aren’t essential.

Task 1:

  • In Terminal, run lsblk at a root prompt.  
  • This will tell you exactly what hard drives and media are connected to the computer on the /dev tree.
  • The picture shows the results of both commands.
  • Under the Name Column, the devices are shown as a tree.
  • What you need is not the name of the partition labeled as “part” but the actual root device called “disk”.
  • The internal media is the all important boot drive.
  • For mine, the internal media is on mmcblk0 – which is actually /dev/mmcblk0 .
  • For mine, the external media is on sda – which is actually /dev/sda .

Task 2:

  • Perform a “dd” statement from the internal to the external drive.
  • The statement is for my set up:  dd if=/dev/mmcblk0 of=/dev/sda bs=4096 conv=noerror,notrunc,sync
  • What that statement says is:
    • dd – Disc Dump or Copy
    • if=/dev/mmcblk0 – input file is /dev/mmcblk0 .  Since that is the root device, it will copy everything from that chip onto the output device.
    • of=/dev/sda – output file is /dev/sda .  Since that is the root device, it will copy everything from the input chip onto your output device, deleting anything that was on the chip.
    • bs=4096 – block your output data in 4K blocks for efficiency.
    • conv=noerror,notrunc,sync –  Convert the data but do not truncate any data (notrunc), do not stop on errors (noerror), and synchronize (sync) the file sizes by padding them with nulls in case there is an error on a file.

When that is all done, the dd statement will tell you how many records were copied in and out, and the record counts should be the same.  It will also tell you how large your chip was – here it was 7.9 GB.

Close enough.

If you want to test your clone, shut down your computer via a “shutdown -h now” in your root terminal, swap chips, then reboot.

It should “just work”.  It did for me.

Big Artie the Hit Man

Big Artie

There once was a Hit Man named Big Artie.

Things were tough in the Underworld at the time, what with the Financial Crisis lately and such, the market hasn’t been kind to his business.

Because of this, he decides that he needs to put down the prices – It’s been months since he’d had a job and his family was struggling.

He takes the price down to $10 000 a hit to $5 000, but still no-one’s coming through the door.
He drops it to $1 000, then to $500, $100, $50, $20, $5 and still no-one comes in.
In a final act of desperation he drops his price to $1.

This move pays off as the very next day a shady looking character walks into his office and asks if he’s the guy offering “Services” for a buck.

Once they clear up that he is indeed an assassin, not a pimp, the customer hands him a file on the target.

Artie follows his quarry around for a few days, before trying to stage a couple of “accidents” for him, all of which the man manages to obliviously foil.
Artie is getting frustrated and is tailing him late one night and the man goes into a supermarket.
Because it’s late no-one is around, so he decides to do the deed there and then, in the fruit and veg aisle.

Like a lion stalking an antelope, Artie sneaks up behind the target and gets a hand over his mouth and and an arm around his neck and silently chokes him out.

With his job done, Artie tries to hide the body under the shelves, but as he’s doing that the only other customer in the store comes into the aisle, a little old lady, and before she can scream he has tackled her to the ground and is throttling her on the floor.

Just after she’s been dealt with the store manager, having heard some commotion, runs in and Artie is faced with no choice but to snuff him too.

Not wanting to spend any more time in the store, he flees, satisfied with a job well done, even if it wasn’t as quiet as he’d hoped.

Unbeknownst to our good friend Arthur, all of this was caught on the store’s security tapes and he was promptly arrested.

The next day the headlines read: “ARTIE CHOKES 3 FOR A DOLLAR AT WOOLWORTHS”

Mommy, Mommy Returns!

Mommy, Mommy! Daddy puked!
Shut up and get a fork, before your sister gets all the big chunks!

Mommy, Mommy! Why can’t we get a Garbage Disposal?
Shut up and chew!

Mommy, Mommy! Daddy’s too tough!
“Shut up and keep chewing!”

Mommy, Mommy! Joey is biting grandma’s nail.
Joey, stop it, or I am closing the coffin!

Mommy, Mommy! Can I buy a new dress?
You know it won’t fit over your iron lung.

Mommy, Mommy! Why can’t I play with the other kids?
Shut up and deal.

Mommy, Mommy! Can I brush my teeth?
Yes, now shut up and get the jar!

Mommy, Mommy! My head hurts!
Shut up and get away from the dart board!

Mommy, Mommy! My teacher says my head is too big.
Shut up and get your hat from the garage, so your father can bring the car in!

Mommy, Mommy! Can I play in the sandbox?
Not until I find a better place to bury Daddy.

Making Peat Pots Out Of Used Coffee Grounds

We all see them if we use social media.

How to make your life so much better with life hacks. 

There are dozens of websites dedicated to them.  

This particular one caught my eye.  I drink a lot of coffee.  I was throwing the grounds out into the garden for extra fertilizer and that worked.  My front yard smelled of a rich blend of Central American coffee beans for a while.

The trick with this is once you have finished brewing your coffee, spread the used grounds out on a plate and allow them to air dry.  The end result is that you’ll have the grounds about the consistency of dry beach sand. 

You know, like the coffee grounds before you used them.

The benefit of this is that if you are arts and crafts inclined or have children around, it’s a great activity for a rainy day, and the mix was rather interesting to work with.  A very tactile clay.

Here is how I did it.

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams or 5.5 ounces by weight of dry coffee grounds.
  • 150 grams or 5.5 ounces by weight of flour – about a cup.
  • 208 ml or 7 ounces of water – More Or Less.

Yes, my American Readers, I use a gram scale.  The measurements tend to be more accurate that way, but this is not a fussy recipe at all.

Process:

  • In a large bowl, add your dry used coffee grounds and flour.  
  • Mix them by hand until they are evenly mixed and smooth.
  • Add the water one ounce at a time to the coffee flour mix.
  • Knead the mixture until all of the water has incorporated itself into the mix and the “dough” sticks together without cracking and without being sticky.
  • The result you are going after is a modeling clay consistency.

Forming the Peat Pots:

  • Find a pot the size you are looking to form.
  • Wrap the pot or glass in aluminium foil so that you may slide the formed pot off cleanly once they have baked.
  • Start with around 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough and begin to work the dough until the outside of the pot has been covered to a desired thickness.  
  • Yes, it is vague, you will need to judge for yourself, the approximate thickness is that of a piece of corrugated cardboard.
  • If there are cracks, it would be best to remove the dough and re-form the pot since this would indicate that it is most likely too thin.
  • My picture shows pots that were made a bit thickly but that won’t matter since the pots will eventually be buried.
  • Form a water drainage hole in the bottom by sticking your finger through the “dough” until it makes contact with the form pot beneath.
  • Give the bottom of the pots a flat spot so they don’t roll around by pressing the formed pot down on a level surface.

Firing the Peat Pots:

  • Place the pots on their forms on a lined cookie sheet.
  • Preheat the oven to 250F or around 120C – Or So.  My oven is not accurate.
  • Slide the pots on their sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 3 Hours.
  • The finished pots will firm up and cure while cooling but should be firm on the outside when you remove them from the oven.
  • The house will smell like a mixture of coffee, bread, and “earthy”.

When the Peat Pots are cooled:

  • Remove the Peat Pots and allow to cool fully.
  • Slide the pots off of the form and remove the aluminium foil.  
  • My foil tried to stick to the inside but I was able to remove the foil by twisting it off from the inside of the pots.
  • Use as you would any other peat pot.