Killing the Night Blooming Jasmine With Kindness

When we moved in here in 2006, the first thing that caught my eye was the Bougainvillea Hedge.

I looked through the front window, to the backyard.  It was blocked by a wall of magenta colored flowers against the windows. 

I took in my breath, walked through the house, then out back.  Confronted by the reality of living in Florida, and the giant wall of flowering hedges that were here, I realized I was sold.

There was a hedge on the west side of the property.  Pure white flowers from one end of it to the other that were perfuming the yard with a sweet fragrance that was wafting on the warm breezes.

Night Blooming Jasmine, I was told.

They never grew fast.  Every six months I would go out and hack the thing back.  I would also take note that the plant wasn’t growing back as well as I expected it to.

Neighbors have either Podocarpus or Ficus hedges that were impervious.  Complete block of any view corridor through those.  They were shaped into unnatural, but pleasing, rectangles with sharp corners. 

Just no flowers.

Over the years, the hedge has thinned.  There are gaps. 

I think we’re overwatering it.  It gets it twice a week, as is legal, on the irrigation system.  7AM I believe.  It also gets a little bit more at 7:45 when the drip feed comes on to water the pots. 

The orchids love it.  Skip one day and you can get away with it.  Skip two and you lose all your flowers.  That happened this year when I forgot and left it on Manual Water.  The whole system is computer controlled so we don’t drain the water table and run the well dry.  But if you leave it on Manual, it won’t go back on until you test or reset it. 

You do have to test these things.  The drip feed bubblers are fed by neoprene rubber tubes that are quite small.  About as thick as a piece of elbow macaroni, they clog frequently and you end up having to “blow out the lines” two or three times a week.

Just don’t forget to put it back on Automatic.

So we’ll be reprogramming the two separate zones back a little bit.  Hopefully the orchids will forgive us.  More importantly I’m hoping the Jasmine comes back.

Between the leak we had on the city water line that was in the back corner of the hedge that dumped a couple car payments worth of water into the roots at a slow leak, and the two zones, that hedge is almost gone back in that corner.  The palm tree that marks the end of the yard must have grown until it pinched the pipe back there, and Charlie at the City called us to warn us that we’ve sprung a leak.

Thankfully we don’t go back that far too often.

While I can propagate the Podocarpus in a pot on the chain that I purposely keep most of the drain holes plugged to help it root, I haven’t found a way to propagate the Jasmine.

That’s a shame, it’s a beautiful hedge.  Or at least it was.

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Rude Blog? Blogger is OK With That Again

One morning, I was sitting in my comfy bouncy chair, living my G Rated life.  Music playing, the dog by my side, the parrot chattering.

I open up my dashboard thingy after having made a purdy pixture for you folks to look at as well as a backstory.

There are plenty of sites that are nothing more than a picture a day or a list of them.  I look at those as well, they’re great to fill up your computer for when the screensaver kicks in.  I must have close to a gig of them, who knows!

There was a nag link at the top of the page.  I rarely look at them anyway, most folks don’t look at nags I suspect.  Twenty years of being trained to ignore adverts or simply blocking them in my case, and you get that way.

The link pointed me to a page that was titled “An update on the Blogger porn content policy“.

I laughed.  Out loud even.

I may be noisy, but I have never posted that kind of content here.  I could.  It’s legal.  At least it is at this point in history, tomorrow could change that.

The original change in policy was fielded to gauge reaction I suspect.  The reality is that “rude” is in the eye of the beholder.  There are some people who look at this blog every single day, others less frequently.  I know of one person who complains about it loudly, although never to my face.  Apparently I cut a little close to the bone in one or more comments about them.

No, I won’t say who.

But.

Never anything that would even be considered a Hard Parental Guidance Rating, at least in my mind.  If it would get past the censors on the big three TV networks in the more enlightened parts of this backwards sliding country that I live in, I will post it.

Apparently I can now.  Well thanks, I can let my artistic nude flag fly I guess.  It’s not for me, but it is for many people.

There are plenty of blogs out there that have restricted or adult content.  Some are simply to excite the reader, for however long it takes them to finish their visit.  Others are to educate about health or perhaps anthropological issues.  After all, teenage children would keep select copies of the National Geographic under their beds for private reading back in the day.  It was actually a plot point at the beginning of the movie Porkys II.  While seeming random, the plot of that movie is strangely parallel to the whole discussion of whether rude content should be allowed in the movie or not.


That sort of excitement is easy to find.  The educational sites are more important, and that is why the internet exists in the first place – to share information among people who are interconnected no matter how distant.

There was a great amount of noise, digital ink, and whinging done in a short period of time, and Google, Inc. have decided that the Blogger policy on Porn will not be changed.

It doesn’t really effect me here, I’ll continue to write the kind of things that Mrs Grundy in her small town may be interested in reading, but if you need that kind of medical or anatomical information that is hosted on a blog somewhere and somehow connected with Google and Blogger, it will be safe.

Sure, I’m vague, but I don’t need that sort of information right now.  The last time I went for “medical” information it was to diagnose my brake problem on my Jeep Wrangler.

Besides, the kind of excitement that the 1950s teenager found in National Geographic is so prevalent and so easy to come by these days for free online, that you just don’t need me taking pictures of body parts and slamming them up in 16 million colors with my website URL hidden semi-discretely on them.

I’ll remain here, G rated, for all the world to see.

You may return to your regularly scheduled rude websites now, Google‘s fine with it.

A Man Is Late For Work

A man is late for work.

He’s been late before and he knows that if he’s late again he could be in serious trouble.

He’s driving around the parking lot and it’s full.
He can’t find a spot anywhere.

So the man begins to pray. “Please God, if you let me find a parking spot I’ll start going to church every Sunday. I won’t miss Christmas or Easter. And I’ll start praying every night. I just really need to find a parking spot.”

Just as he finishes the two taken spots in front of him separate allowing a vacant parking spot to appear.

“Nevermind. I found one.”

A Judge Asks A Defendant To Please Stand

“You are charged with murdering a garbage man with a chain saw.”
From the back of the courtroom a man shouts, “You lying bastard!”

“Silence in the court!” The judge turns to the defendant again and says, “You are also charged with killing a paperboy with a shovel.”
“You tightwad!” blurts the spectator.

“Quiet!” yelled the judge. “You are also charged with killing a mailman with an electric drill.”
“You cheap son of a… ” the spectator starts to shout.

The judge thunders back, ” I will hold you in contempt! What is the reason for your outbursts?”

“I’ve lived next to that lying bastard for 10 years now, but do you think he ever had a tool when I needed to borrow one?”

I Am Grandfather To My Dog’s Hedgehog

It was hot wash day.  

Laundry day.  Nobody really likes that.  I’ll call it Clean Sheet Day instead because everyone likes the feeling of sliding into bed with freshly washed sheets.

Hot wash day is a full morning of fun, if you can call it that.

There are two loads.  Bed Linens and Dog Stuff.  The Dog Stuff got into the washer first this particular wash day. 

Not wanting to annoy Rack the McNab Superdog, I picked up the mats around him.  Bedroom, the hiding corner, and the bed.  I tossed in some oddball things of my own since according to the National Health Service of the UK, when you wash clothes at 120F, you kill everything.  My water heater is set to 125F as a result.

Don’t run your hands too long under the hot water, you’ll burn them.  Trust me, I have.

Finally I needed the last of the dirty mats so I got him out of the crate, pulled it, then replaced it with a fresh mat.  In a week, those mats go from pristine white to a color of gray that I describe as “week old snowfall in a big city”.  Grey.  I am sure that it’s more than just stuff he tracks in from outside too.  Evil, evil, stuff that needs to go into the wash at 125F.

I settle back into my own routine.  The super low water use front load washer does its thing.  It will take an hour and I can finish quite a lot in that much time.

I blank out on what is going on around me.

Rack pads to the back door.

Open up some web pages, do some research on a nagging question on networking in Linux.

Rack pads out of the back room and does a perimeter search.

Read a page on how to share your home directory by modifying a file called smb.conf .

Rack pads past again, huffing on his way into the kitchen and the laundry beyond.

Restart networking on the linux workstation.  It worked!

Rack pads past me whining in that high McNab Dog reedy whine.  “Rack?  What’s up boy?”

He stops in his tracks, wags his tail exactly twice, sighs, and goes back on the search.  “Show me what you want!”.

Not a good idea.  I spend the next ten minutes looking over every single inch of the house that was open, and a few closed rooms too.  He wasn’t telling me what he was looking for, but he certainly got the point across.

“Sorry boy, you just have to keep looking.”

Herding dogs.  They all have some sort of OCD.  They also are called Hoarder Collies, even if they aren’t strictly speaking, a collie.  Besides, collie just means “useful dog” in the Gaelic that it is derived from.

I let him be.  The wash had another 40 minutes to go.  He clearly was missing something.

With a flourish and a loud sigh that sounded more like a distant locomotive horn on the early morning breeze, Rack finally and begrudgingly settled in on the mats that I replaced.

I went back to my own morning nonsense.  I still haven’t found that quirk in networking that will let me see Windows 7 machines.  Windows 8 is fine, but 7 is not.

After a couple more pages, I push that search to the back of my mind.  The washer has just sounded its beeper, I drop all the linens into the dryer.  The hedgehog bounces off my left foot.  I say “this must be what he wanted” and toss the little brown toy into the dryer.  It was stiff with slobber before it got washed, it needed the trip through the dryer now that it was a sodden mess.

A second load of hot wash goes into the washer, the dryer is closed, and both machines get started.

Rack is curled into a dog ball.  Resting quietly from his search for his long lost friend, he’s finally settled down.

I go back to my own minutia.  Read up on some more tech, a new shiny object to pass to a friend, some discussion on tablets, that sort of thing.

I lose track of time and the dryer sounds off.  I walk out to the laundry and the washer is in final spin making a sound like a jet engine.  It takes a lot of energy to spin your wash at 1200 rpm.

Grabbing all the mats, assorted dog toys, and my few things from the dryer, I press them hard against my chest.  Managing to make it to the living room, I notice I’m being watched.

“What?”

Rack comes closer, parks himself mid room, and stares through me with twin laser beams.  

He Knows.

I fold up the dog mats and stack them on top of his crate.  I get midway through the stack and I notice Rack came closer, his tail wagging.

My own hand is on the Hedgehog, Rack gets closer still.

“Is this what you want, boy?”

I get a reedy squeak out of Rack.  Handing it to him, he immediately trots over to his bed and curls up with his long lost friend.

Dogs are amazing creatures, but on their best day, they’re still a dog.  Unless you have a McNab, then every day is an adventure, and it’s a new opportunity to learn something new.

Especially if a toy hedgehog is involved.

Replacing A Jeep Wrangler 2002 Fan Resistor Pack

Join me on a journey with my Jeep. 

You will see me scrape knuckles.  You will see me swat mosquitoes.  You will see me refashion tools.

But you will see the job completed.

Ok, enough of this Zen Crap.  If you found this article, you have a Jeep.  Probably a Wrangler, but it could be a Liberty, Patriot, Cherokee, or Grand Cherokee.  I am under the impression that this is common for these cars of the 1996-2002 era, plus or minus a few years, and maybe even to this day. 

This is informational only, you’re on your own, At Your Own Risk.  I take no responsibility for any mistakes you do or whether you damage yourself or your own vehicle.

Lawyer disclaimer crap aside, it took me an hour to get the part out, and an hour to get it finished.

However, if you had the right tool in the first place, you could have had it done in about a half hour total.  If you have a Liberty or a Grand Cherokee, I understand the resistor pack is in a similar location but much more accessible since they are a newer design or just larger.

My Wrangler still has some AMC Design Elements in it, and that means it’s a simple beast and you can still fix it in your carport while swatting mosquitoes, swearing, and sweating, but it could be somewhat improved.  That was what Chrysler did in later models by moving this part into a more accessible area.

I was able to diagnose this with a little logic.

My Jeep had either no air when I turned the selector to off, or it only had air when it was turned on full.  The middle speeds simply did not work.  This implied that the switch should be intact, and the resistor pack was fried.  I confirmed this with a multimeter inside the house when I had it removed on a cool down break.

The Resistor Pack is necessary to put a load on the power lines supplying the blower motor that moves all that precious AC and Heat around your car.  What it does when you select speed 1 is to put the highest electrical resistance in line.  Select speeds 2 or 3, and you get less resistance.  Speed 4 is no resistance, and the fan runs at its highest speed.

That was what I saw in my Jeep.  Darth Jeep by name, he’s black and tan just like a good beer.  DJ to his friends.  DJ the TJ.

You don’t name your Jeep?  How does it know how to get home? 

Anyway…

The Resistor pack has a large flat area in the back where the resistance is actually created by a number of lines of resisting wire.  The large flat area is stuffed inside your air flow boxes so that it acts like a heat sink and is kept cool while the fans are on.

In my case, my Jeep has 44,000 miles and 12 years on it.  That means, 6 years of use, and it went pop.  That fits with my memory since I needed replacement a couple years after I moved to Florida in 2006.  I almost never use the car since I generally don’t have to go anywhere here other than by foot.

The first picture shows the location of the resistor pack as installed in the dashboard of my Jeep.  It is in a cramped spot, and is held down by two 5/16 inch bolts.  You can see the first one in the picture, the other bolt is at the alternate corner.  If the first one is at the Northwest corner, the second bolt is at the Southeast corner. 

Both bolts must be removed, and doing so is a task that I completed with a 5/16 inch crescent wrench.  Since a wrench that small is typically not bent to have the circular end at an angle, and they are made of thin metal, I used a leatherman’s tool to bend a 30 degree angle in the wrench in order to be able to get the bolts out.  Once I did that, the bolts came out much easier.  There are tabs that are simply in the way of your being able to do this job. 

You will be removing that lower bolt blind unless you are small enough to wrench yourself under the dashboard.  Since I am 6’4″ tall there was simply no way I was going to get into that spot upside down and looking up at the part.

You will also need to temporarily remove the green Connector Block from its tab on the air box/plenum/dashboard.  There is a little red tab that snaps to lock the whole thing in place.  Unlock the red tab by snapping it forward, then slide the connector block out of your way. 

I disconnected the connector block, then pulled the resistor pack out.  It wasn’t easy, it required a lot of maneuvering around to get it out of the little hole.  I was able to do so by removing the connector from the back of the block.  That itself was difficult since there was a red plastic lock holding it all together.  I removed that lock by pulling it apart and removing it permanently.  It may cause problems later, but at least I know where it is!

The detail shows the block in close up as assembled.

Two final things:

To get the part?  You can find it at your local auto parts store.  I got mine at Autozone for 1/2 the price of the dealer.  You can also find it on Amazon.  I wanted it TODAY, not in 3 days.

To see someone else do the work?  Search Youtube.  There are videos and none of them showed the detail that I am showing here – where the blasted thing actually is. 

Before you even try, remove the glove box, get your flashlight and look to see if you can find it.  If you can find it, it’s an easy fix even if you’re going to get your knuckles scraped or maybe mosquito bit.

After all it’s March and its in the 80s, and mosquitoes are everywhere.

O||||||O

I’ll Keep the Flowers and Fruit Trees In The Backyard, Thanks

If you ever want to meet your neighbors, get a dog.

In fact, if you ever want a “quiet” dog walk, you probably won’t ever get one.

Around here we have what we call, informally, the Dog Walk Hour.  I’m sure that if you’re in an urban or suburban environment, you’ll see it too.

Come home, and you’re greeted by family.  Two footed and Four.  In my case, there’s feathered as well.  Hellos are interspersed with squawks, jumping paws, and people greeting you since you have been gone forever. 

Get done the absolute minimum, maybe have a perimeter search around the house, and then you’re getting ready to go off again.  Leash in hand, a fist full of bags in your pocket, check for keys and phone, and you’re on your way.

So is everyone else with a dog.

5:30PM to about 6:30 is the peak.  I have a mile course I do three times a day and it should take me about 15 minutes.

20 if Rack is constipated or if there is a delivery at one of the businesses on Wilton Drive.  He doesn’t like those big diesel trucks.

We’re out the door and round the corner.   Rack is already furiously wagging his tail.  I spot one of his friends, a big, older husky named Cody and a little maltese that is incredibly well mannered, both way down the block.

Small dogs are still dogs.  If your dog is barking at a leaf falling in the next county, you’re training it wrong.  No matter the breed, they can be trained.

I run into Cody’s owner finally and we’re chatting about things.   It’s our Secret Season here.  Too late for most Snowbirds, the weather hasn’t changed over to hot yet, and there is low humidity since the wet season hasn’t yet set up.  The Tail End of March into April, as well as Late October or Early November.  Both great times to visit.

I casually mention the flowers and the conversation segues immediately into Cody’s mom’s neighbor.  Seems that that person had orchids all over the property.  The property is a condo at Belle Isle.  There’s a quirk of geography that makes it where people walking into Wilton Manors from Fort Lauderdale want to go to catch the dreaded 50 bus that Rack can’t stand the noise from.

She had said that up until recently that person had orchids all over.  Had.  They were strapped to trees and lovingly cared for and at this time of year that means they were in bloom.   I have four in bloom myself as well as a wall of magenta bougainvillia, purple ruellia, and other beauties in my own backyard.

She told me that was why I still have them.  The property in question was off NE Ninth Avenue, and someone came by “at two in the morning” and helped themselves to them. 

Orchids generally take a year to bloom.  I have had one bloom twice in a season, but normally they will rest once the weather changes until they’re happy again.  Pictures are taken to enjoy them while they are here for that reason.

I responded that I’m getting some input that I should plant my Mango tree in the front yard, but that’s just another reason not to.

“Not if you want some fruit you won’t.  You’ll never see it.”.

That settled that particular thought.  It’s going in the backyard as soon as I can get around to it, and far enough from the fence so it doesn’t “annoy the neighbors”.  Not everyone likes Mangoes and not everyone likes 2 pound fruit smacking against their property from 20 feet up.

So if you want your flowers, listen to Cody’s Mom – keep them in the backyard.  Behind the fence.

Kind of a shame.  Like your parents said “that’s why we can’t have nice things”.