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.”

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!!”

A young man named Chuck bought a horse from a farmer for $250

A young man named Chuck bought a horse from a farmer for $250.
The farmer agreed to deliver the horse the next day.

The next day, the farmer drove up to Chucks house and said, ‘Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the horse died.’

Chuck replied, ‘Well, then just give me my money back.’
The farmer said, ‘Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.’

Chuck said, ‘Ok, then, just bring me the dead horse.’
The farmer asked, ‘What ya gonna do with him?

Chuck said, ‘I’m going to raffle him off.’
The farmer said, ‘You can’t raffle off a dead horse!’

Chuck said, ‘Sure I can, Watch me. I just won’t tell any body he’s dead.’
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, ‘What happened with that dead horse?’

Chuck said, ‘I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at five dollars a piece and made a profit of $2495.’
The farmer said, ‘Didn’t anyone complain?’

Chuck said, ‘Just the guy who won. So I gave him his five dollars back.’

Urban Ducks

I’m used to seeing these creatures everywhere that there is water nearby.  Since this is South Florida, that’s pretty much everywhere.

They do tend to stretch the definition at times.  If there is a shower that creates a puddle, and they need it, you have a couple tough old birds flapping around in it and enjoying themselves.

I have used my dog, Rack, the McNab Superdog to herd them before.  Out on the walk, these Muscovy Ducks would be in the middle of the street doing whatever ducks will do, which is practically nothing.

Square in the middle of the street.  Blocking traffic.

Since Rack needs a little socialization time, and that is truly broadly termed, I usually help traffic.  I think the ducks are more afraid of me than my dog because my dog tends not to really care and merely follows my lead.   I walk closer to the ducks and eventually Rack comes along.  The ducks don’t care for that so they waddle off away from me.  It is like putting like poles of the magnets together, I am not trying to scare them, they wander away.

In this case, I was sitting in the car looking for things to occupy myself.   We went shopping the other day for a TV for an office.  It’s not like there needs to be a TV in a car other than to get it home.  Or work.  Or wherever it is going.  We’re perfectly capable of entertaining ourselves without watching TV in a car.  After all, there are other toys.  The Radio.  The Phone.  Making faces at the other cars on the road.  Having a conversation.  Pulling on an imaginary chain and hoping that the trucker will blow his horn.

Do they still do that?  Is it a thing?  I remember getting a trucker to blow his horn once.  Just once when I was a kid.

I’ll stop digging, take my shovel, the hole is big enough.

Near the store, adjacent to the property was a small pond.  Large enough to show on the map, small enough not to have a name.  No fountain in it.  It’s South Florida.  If you have a pond you will have fish.  You will have wading birds.  You may have a fountain.  Who knows why, it pleased someone.   You may even have an alligator.

Yes, there’s water, don’t go in, you may get eaten.

But the ducks seem to know what is going, whether there is a gator or not, where to find what they need, and if something comes too close like an errant herding dog and its owner, they’ll wander off.

Being ducks, they’ll find shelter eventually in places you don’t expect them.  They may even entertain you simply by being there.

Like this time.  I watched the TV get removed from its box, inspected, gingerly slid back in.  It was then hoisted on the shoulder and brought back to the car.  After sitting in the car for 10 minutes, I decided I needed a picture.  Why not, after all it’s not every day you see ducks sitting under a parked Semi truck.

I guess since I didn’t move too quickly they didn’t care.  Being an annoying photographer, I eventually got too close.  They’re too mellow to care too much but one of them stood up and moved off a whole six inches or so.

Aren’t most photographers annoying?

Doesn’t matter.  I entertained myself, got the picture, we got the TV, and went on our way while the ducks settled back down in pretty much the same position they were in when I got there.

Mint Tea. It Only Takes 26 Minutes!

Mint Tea is one of those things.

If you like it, you go out of your way to get it.  Fresh is best so you’ll grow the stuff in the yard.  You also are warned “It will spread, so put it in a pot!”.

My godmother Kathie and her husband Larry had a bit of mint growing in their yard when I paid a visit a while back.  Kathie was going through her pots looking for things for me to try to plant here and when we spotted the mint, she asked if I wanted some.

Sure!  I love mint tea and it’s much better that way!

I trotted home and stuck it in a medium sized pot with some soil on the drip feed irrigation lines and waited.

It grew, vigorously, and now I have a pot with tendrils that are looking to find a new home somewhere else like a Borg hive trying to assimilate my garden.  So far I have managed to keep the yard safe from being taken over but who knows how long that will last.

That thought came to mind as I went to the kitchen.  7:40am.  I noticed that Rack trotted out to the back door as I was cleaning the mug out in the sink.  He was staring at me through the back door glass and the kitchen window.

Realizing that didn’t work, he came over and stared at me from the hall.

“What?” I said.  He stared at me until I asked “Show me what you want!”.
Back to the back door and I let him out.

Went back and cleaned the mug more.   Rack had done a lap of the pool, the yard, disturbed a squirrel in the shrubs and was now sitting down looking at me from the kitchen with that “You know I wanted you out here with me stare”.

*sigh* I went outside.

Rack immediately started playing the “stomp and chase me game“.   Running around the pool in circles, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, he would smile as he ran.

*STOMP* Another circuit of the yard, this time disappearing through the wormhole to the other dog friendly planet behind the shed.

He blazed forth out of the area behind the shed with me clapping my hands to keep the energy going.  I inspected some of the plants on the drip feed irrigation and went back to clapping my hands.


This is a game I don’t play before 7AM.  It was now 7:50AM.

Running around the bougainvillea, he cornered it seemingly one millimeter off the ground and flew past me in a black and white blur.  I shouted “MURFF!” at him and clapped my hands a few times as he woofed back.

Scrabbling around the spa, he jumped through the hand rail at the steps at the back of the pool, cornering around the table, past the chair and the pool equipment.  Seemingly stopping in mid air and turning 180 degrees, I had 45 pounds of McNab dog running, full speed towards me on the return circuit.

I lifted my right leg and he ran under it, leaping back over the corner of the pool and through the hand rail.

Getting to the far side of the pool, he threaded himself between the Mango and the Banana in the pot, hovered in midair, then plopped down onto the grass where he started to munch on a flower from the sorrel that grows there.

“WOOF!” *CLAP!*  Rack slapped the ground.  I got closer and looked at him through the foliage.  He leapt up and tore through the yard again, out to the garden gate, then made the jump to hyperspace.

That dog can make the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs!

When the stars winked back into normal space, Rack was trotting over to the spa.  He seems to think that its a watering bowl.  Not good, we’ve got a salt system to make chlorine, and neither chemical are good for drinking.

“Rack?  Water?”  He stopped and trotted past me, the bougainvillea, and stood by the hose in the corner.  I got the water flowing after squirting my right boot, and pant leg.  Cupping my hand, Rack drank the water I poured into it with gusto.

Apparently, Dogs who are capable of Hyperspace jumps are actually steam powered!  Go fig!

He tanked up and immediately got started back in the game of running around the pool. I was looking forward to my tea now, the sprig of mint was picked on my next pass of the pool and the pot.

It was 8AM exactly.  20 minutes in. Still no tea.

Rack comes first, but he was slowing down to mere interplanetary speeds.  The launching through the pots was accurate, but merely only airborne instead of causing a wormhole effect.

He ran past the bougainvillea, made a sharp turn and tore the turf up.  Hmmm, not the best, he’s slowing and getting a little less accurate.  Lets see if I can get him inside the house….

Nope.  Time for another lap around the pool.  The turn around the back side of the pool was done with a little scrabbling through the giant philodendron, and past the shed at a trot.

I think we’re done.  I guided him into the house after washing his feet back at the hose pipe.

Powering on the burner, I knew I would have hot water and mint tea soon.   The kettle whistle sounded at 8:06AM.

Mint Tea.  It only takes 26 minutes!