A Woman Goes Into a Coma

A woman goes into a coma while pregnant with twins.
Her husband dies in the car accident.

A few months into the coma, she successfully gives birth to a boy and a girl.
Shortly afterward, she wakes up.

“Where are my children? Are they alright?”
The doctor pats her shoulder reassuringly. “Yes, you delivered fine. You gave birth to a healthy boy and girl.”

The woman sighs in relief. “Oh thank God. Who named them?”
The doctor frowns. “Your… brother, ma’am.”

She lunged from the bed, grabbing him by the collar. “Oh no. He’s an idiot. Tell me, WHAT DID HE NAME THEM?!”

“Deniece, he named the girl Deniece,” he gasped.

She released her grip. “Oh… that’s not too bad. And the boy?”

The doctor shamefully looked at the ground. “Denephew.”

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Fingernail Moon Over Wilton Manors

It was a couple nights back.  January 21st to be precise.

We had done our walk and was looking forward to coming home, having dessert, and putting on some mind numbing sit-com to laugh at for a couple hours.  All that domestic stuff everyone does, everyone thinks is so common and perhaps boring, and everyone misses when the routine gets disturbed.

After all, your routine is your routine because you made it that way.

In other words:  Everywhere you go, there you are.

Waving to the shop keepers, avoiding tourists on the drive, and getting Rack trained to accept a bit more noises had been done.  The walk was long enough.

In the middle of the street, we chattered about things that would be inconsequential to anyone but us, and that was fine.

That was where I stopped.

Asking “Can you see it?  The moon about as thin as it ever gets.  Right there above the big mango at the end of the block.”, I stopped Kevin.

He squinted and said yes, and that you don’t usually notice them that small.

I said “Let me borrow you for a minute.”.  I stopped him, pointed him in the right direction, then used his shoulder to take the pictures.

“Could you please stop breathing, you’re shaking the camera!” didn’t help since it got him laughing.

I did manage three shots.  The best of them is cropped and reproduced here.

That’s the thing about taking pictures.  You never have the right attachments at the right time, and if you do, there’s nothing to take.  Borrow a shoulder or a parking meter if you have one.  I’ve done all that with varying results.  Next step is to tape the camera to a telescope and have a bit of fun.

That is, if you can actually spot the blasted thing.  The moon is a little below center vertically, left of center horizontally.  I have to keep wiping off the monitor to see it.

Technology.  It’s a bear.

The Toilet, The New Private BYOD Office, and Learning Spanish

Reading as much as I do, I noticed something that tech guys have to be aware of.  Your own personal phone.

That and your tablets and all the other “stuff” you carry.  It’s called “BYOD” or Bring Your Own Device.

They’ve got to worry about what you’re surfing, whether you’re doing “nefarious” activities, and whether you are ever actually going to come out of that rest room.

All this was going through my mind the other day.  I realized I was doing that too. 

The particular school of thought was bemoaning that people are sitting at work, getting paid, and playing things like Angry Birds in their offices, restrooms, and other places.

I never installed Angry Birds.  Wasn’t my style.  I’m normally using a laptop or two at any given moment, virtual machines up and running, playing around with VMWare and pretending to Be Productive.

Yes, in Capital Letters.  Stay Motivated.  Be Productive. 

Blah.

So I tried playing games when I used the bathroom.  Really I did, but it just seemed, oh I don’t know, an annoyance. 

Annoyance as in “Damnit I missed that bubble!” annoyance.  Yelling in the bathroom with the door closed about a bubble?  That’s just too weird for me.

Life is annoying enough, and it just felt futile.  What was playing a game in the toilet going to give me anyway?

Don’t answer that question, I meant it in a G Rated way anyway.

So after years of saying that I had a language tutor called Duolingo parked on my phone, I finally, actually did something with it.

I created a profile and began doing the course on Spanish.

I had had Spanish back in Junior High School.  Having been exposed to French in Montreal as a brat on vacation and also when listening to CBC on Shortwave, I took the courses in that language instead.  In retrospect, Spanish is more “useful” in this day and age where I am.  Unless I am going down to Dania Beach for a soft serve ice cream, my French is limited to hearing an occasional snippet of Creole from a Haitian.  I can usually get the feeling of what they’re saying but it’s truly been too many years.

I set rules for myself.  Goals were set at the lowest possible setting.  I didn’t want it to Be A Thing that I HAD to do even if I did do it once or twice in the car.  Enjoy the experience.  Repeat each “chapter” until I got it completely correct.  Repeat the “mid-terms” until I got it completely correct.

The results are that progress is slow and steady.  It’s more important to get this down and not sound the fool when I eventually get enough Spanish under my belt to be able to speak it to someone else.

At this point, I’m limited.   I am learning how to say useful phrases like “Los Elefantes bebe La Leche” or “La Tortuga bebe La Leche”.

You never knew that drinking milk was so important to an Elephant or a Turtle, did you?

I’m also second guessing my sentences in Spanish there but at this stage I would.

I find myself arguing back at the program, Duolingo, when the thing tells me I am wrong for using correct English.  This gamification of learning has actually had me yelling at the phone saying “That doesn’t make sense in English!”.

*sigh* but it is the correct meaning.  Tap on the little bubble and it puts you into a browser that gives you the social discussion behind it.  Oh THAT’S what they mean by that!

*GRRRR!*

Oh well, take the bullet and do the same chapter tomorrow.

I’m three months into it.  I’m still watching Spiders drink Milk, Turtles eat Apples, The Women read Newspapers. 

I swear once it was a dog writing a letter.

So while it is strictly speaking, correct, it doesn’t make sense all the time.  A bit literal.

After I flush, and come back to what I was doing earlier, I check the headlines on two Spanish Language news sites and challenge myself to read what the front page is telling me.  The BBC Mundo page is helpful because BBC in English is my main source of news.  Something called EFE USA helps as well.  Both are in supposedly basic Spanish. 

I get it.  I’m purposely hobbling my progress, but that’s fine.  I want to be correct. 

I should probably start watching Plaza Sesame, er, Sesame Street in Spanish again.

There used to be a TV show produced on the Miami PBS Station called Que Pasa USA.  It featured a blended Hispanic and Anglo family.  Some spoke both English and Spanish, others only one language.   I’ll keep an eye out for that and maybe set a watch filter on the DVR.  After all, when did you hear anything on a Sit-Com that was really deep and complex?

Leave The Simpsons out of this.  They’re more subtle than you think, I think. 

Ok maybe not, but for now, I’m having fun challenging my mind, even if it is in the bathroom and therefore a bit weird.

Got any milk, Mr Turtle?

Youtube Prefers HTML5 Video to Flash – But What About All That Old Stuff?

Flash is one of those necessary evils.  It was like Java, reflexively installed onto computers that weren’t really quite up to the task of running it. Just checked, nope, I don’t have Java – and you should not either.

The computer would bog down, act cranky, and even crash when Flash was running.  Flash also has persistent cookies that you had to remember to delete.  Some people would have those cookies for years.  Security is a bear.

But there is one more nail is in Flash Player’s coffin.  Youtube is now preferring HTML5 over Flash when you watch videos there.

Why is that important?

More and more Flash had been the target of people wanting to hijack passwords, insert viruses, and track your movements with those persistent cookies.  Adobe had put more and more patches into it and it became a joke.  Start the computer, patch Flash, restart the computer and do your work – every single day. 

Worse, some people that I supported would simply tell the update check to go away and never come back.

You are getting closer to the day you can do that for good. Many of us already have.

My Linux computer, currently Xubuntu, is not even supported on current Flash Player, and I did an uninstall of it a couple weeks back.  I didn’t see the value of keeping an old piece of software on something that was running well without it and I almost never used.

My windows computer will get the same treatment.

About the only thing I ever do with Flash is to watch videos on Youtube.  The few games that I have kept over the years will get deleted.

That’s about the only problem that I see with this.  Videos can be streamed using “native tools” but the content that was created in Flash will simply go away.  Quite a lot has been created in Flash over the years, even a few Broadcast TV Programs, and many commercials as well.

After all, when was the last time you played a video tape?  Beta?  VHS?  Vinyl Records?

That is the kind of problem that Librarians have.  Content on a platform that is unsupported.  Music on Cylinder Beeswax Records from the Edison era.  78 RPM records.  Heck, I even have a few 45s floating around here.  Silly looking 7 inch donuts.

For most of us, it’s simply easier to find the track elsewhere and save it on something new.  But for librarians, especially archival libraries, they have to worry about that sort of thing every day.

Anyone still have and use a zip disc?  Nope?  Didn’t think so!

So the net result to you is that if you are running one of the four major browsers in one of the top four major operating systems on the desktop/laptop you’re fine.  Just make sure your browser is up to date.  Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Opera all work with HTML5.

See, that’s easy!

The iPhone and Android based phones will typically use the Youtube client or the browser will take care of it.

One aside though, with Android, it’s usually recommended that you do not use the base browser and go out and grab either Firefox or Chrome.  The reason is that if you are on an older version of Android, Google is not going to support the old “Browser” browser.

So it’s just safer that way.  Listen to big brother even if it is a bother.

Ok?

Sunshine in Your Morning Cup

Florida has its quirks.  Gators in the lakes and rivers.  Buildings that are low slung and spread out which demands that you drive everywhere.  Good roads that you leave to the tourists because they drive like idiots.

No, really, Tourists here drive “worse than I do”. 

But it is the Sunshine State.  Sunshine most days, and in the summer it can be quite bright.  Brilliant might be a better description.  The homes aren’t built to allow light in, those low slung boxes are normally built to keep the sun out.  Large overhangs, Bahama Shutters, and awnings will help keep the sun indirect. 

Too much of a good thing can be a headache.   Things fade quickly, plastics and fabrics will dry out.  My futon in the back room has a hunter green cover to it that faded to a pastel in spots, streaked, and generally looks like something you might encounter wadded up in a corner of an old city.   That happened in about 6 months.

Anyone want a Futon frame?  It’s a great piece of furniture.  Solid hardwood frame, it’ll clean up good.  You just need to replace the cover on the mattress.

Someone?  Anyone?  Beuhler?

But we do tend to hide from the sun here.   You can play the game we play called “Spot the tourists”.  I told you how to spot them on the roads – just look at the interstates.  The locals use the surface routes.

No, I mean in the malls.  You spot them because they’re wearing shorts in February, or they have a tan.  People here tend to hide from the sun or they’ve decided to go “all in” and tan their hides to the point where it resembles the finish on the wainscoting in front of my chair.  Dry and brown.  Leathery.  Shorts?  In Florida?  You have to be kidding!  Those mosquitoes will carry off a Buick!

That’s why that one morning I had to stop waging war against the sun and marvel that the sight even happened in the first place. 

It only happens in this house for a good 15 minutes and only in the winter.   The sun angle has to be just right.  It has to be in the morning.  You have to be at the right place at the right time.  On the desk in the Florida Room, I started putting oddball things to block that one errant sunbeam that shines right in my eye.  It’s either that or have breakfast from 7:32 until 7:46 in the morning.  Give or take a few seconds.  In January.  I guess in November too.

That one moment though.  Have you ever stopped and looked at something that annoyed you, for months, and thought in an ephiphany that it was beautiful?  I did.  The simple things in life?  It all comes down to a window, a sunbeam, and steam rising off the morning cup.  Complete with the faintest rainbow I had ever seen indoors.

*sip* tastes good too.

Prepare to Make French Toast, The Barometer Is Falling, A Blizzard Is Coming

Even this far away from the Impending Doom of the Blizzard, the barometer is falling.

Not that I set it with any regularity, but it seemed a bit ironic when I walked into the hallway this morning.

Of course I was going in to tweak the heat.  It’s Florida, and I was cold.  It’s all relative.

All weekend, watching people on social media has been a weird flashback to my days in Philadelphia.

My sister sitting on the line between expected to get a foot of snow, at least it was on Sunday when I wrote this, my friends in Rhode Island planning on moving into an Igloo if the roof collapses under upwards of three feet of snow.

It all had a feel of when I was sitting in my bright sunny kitchen, on top of Chestnut Hill, in Philadelphia.  I had my laptop tuned into a news feed from one of the TV stations in New Orleans, watching the coverage of Katrina as it happened.  Cross that with the blizzards that I lived through in the years I was up there.

There is a joke about Blizzard preparation in the Northeast.  You go to the store, buy Milk, Eggs, and Bread.  The Blizzard comes through, everyone knows what to do since you live in the Northeast.  Once you’re done, you go back into the house and the person in charge of the house makes up some French Toast.

Dip your bread into egg and milk wash, fry it in butter on a skillet, and smother in Maple Syrup.

If you’re really getting smacked around, take the maple syrup outside and pour it into some clean fresh snow for a treat that the Native Americans taught us.  Ice Cream.

On a day like that, after you’ve got your carbo-load on and you have shoveled your driveway, the walkway, and probably part of the neighbor’s walk, go find your kid’s soap bubbles.

Take the kids out, or the kids at heart, and go into the yard with common every day soap bubbles and blow bubbles.

Why?  They’ll shatter when they hit the ground.  If it’s close to freezing, they’ll shrivel up like a raisin.

All weird storm memories aside, Stay home, take it slow, shovel in small steps.  Watch the roof too, they’re pitched for just this reason – to let the snow fall off.

About the only nice thing about this sort of thing was you would get to chat with the neighbors.  We would go outside, shovel the driveway into the front yard, the sidewalk into the front yard, and repeat as needed.

As far as I was concerned, the key was to start early and shovel every two hours.  Great exercise but it would also thin the herd.  Every so often you’d hear about some poor soul have a heart attack doing just that, clearing the walks.

Slow and easy and check back in later to let us know you’re alright.

The Deaf Wife

Fred feared his wife Rhonda wasn’t hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family Doctor to discuss the problem.

The Doctor told him there is a simple informal test the husband could perform to give the Doctor a better idea about her hearing loss.

“Here’s what you do,” said the Doctor. “Stand about 40 feet away from her, and in a normal conversational speaking tone see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a response.”

That evening, the wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and he was in the den.

He says to himself, “I’m about 40 feet away, let’s see what happens.”
Then in a normal tone he asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
No response.

So the husband moves closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeats, “Rhonda, what’s for dinner?”
Still no response.

Next he moves into the dining room where he is about 20 feet from his wife and asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Again he gets no response.

So, he walks up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Again there is no response..

So he walks right up behind her. “Rhonda, what’s for dinner?”
“For the FIFTH time Fred, CHICKEN!!”