A Dog’s Portal To The World

Back before I descended into Home Improvement Hell, there was a door on the laundry room.

It was a smallish door, rather appropriate for the mid-century design of this house.

The door had a problem.  It had a giant hole in the middle of it that was covered with Jalousie Windows.

In otherwords, you could have broken into my house by simply knocking out a slat of glass, lifting it up and removing the rest.  They were all held in with clips and those clips were not very sturdy.

But hey, they were security glass because they were FROSTED!

Yeah, that will stop an intruder, won’t it?

Now, my girl Lettie moved in the house with me.  When one of the panes broke, I wanted to give her a gift.   I wanted to get clear replacements.  Two to be exact.

I removed the glass from the third and fourth slat from the bottom and replaced them with clear panes.  Then I replaced the broken slat and put in one of the frosted ones.

It was perfect.  At dog’s nose height I had a spot where Lettie could go and watch the world.  She did, and so did Rack when he came here.

But we had to replace that door because it no longer was “Up To Code”.  We’d have the entire house inspected once the windows were installed and the inspector would point to that door and make disapproving sounds.

It got replaced with a security glass door.  Frosted glass that looks like those old Milk Glass vases your mom would have, but it is 5/16ths inch thick and was rated for “Large Missile Impact”, whatever that means.

It also meant that Rack could no longer look out.  The front door was solid steel and due to be replaced.

We got a twin to it.  Only this time, the twin would be clear.

We are adjusting.

We’re getting a proper shade for it but for now there is this ludicrous shade there made out of paper.  It looks like that stuff you used to get meats wrapped in at the Butcher Shop, and is fan folded so you have to expect that some Japanese Geisha would be using it to cool herself off in the heat.

But the benefit is now Rack has a view to the world.

I on the other hand have to get used to being in a fishbowl or on display.

I tend to keep that paper geisha shade clipped, per design, about knee high.  There is a wrinkle outside of the shade.  You see, if you can see out, others can see back in the glass.

Last night when preparing for the Dog Walk, Rack was out on the front porch.  I had finished my last minute puttering and was searching for a couple of Dog Bags.  They’re Brown for a reason.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see some glowing spots and hear yapping and yipping.  Rack was excited because he knew he’d get his last walk of the day.  I just didn’t expect to see two glowing spots, one green, the other yellow, and very little else in the evening gloom.

I’ll get used to it.  Just remember, when you’re walking across the living room with one light on, make sure you have clothes on when you drop the laundry off in the washer.  Otherwise you’ll be giving a show.

Little Mary

Little Mary was not the best student in Sunday School. Usually she slept through the class.

One day the teacher called on her while she was napping, ”Tell me, Mary, who created the universe?”

When Mary didn’t stir, little Johnny, an altruistic boy seated in the chair behind her, took a pin and jabbed her in the rear. ”God Almighty !” shouted Mary and the teacher said, ”Very good” and Mary fell back to sleep.

A while later the teacher asked Mary, ”Who is our Lord and Savior?” But Mary didn’t even stir from her slumber. Once again, Johnny came to the rescue and stuck her again. ”Jesus Christ!” shouted Mary and the teacher said, ”Very good,” and Mary fell back to sleep.

Then the teacher asked Mary a third question, ”What did Eve say to Adam after she had her twenty-third child?” And again, Johnny jabbed her with the pin.

This time Mary jumped up and shouted, ”If you stick that damn thing in me one more time, I’ll break it in half!” The Teacher fainted.

Three Mice Are Sitting At A Bar

Three mice are sitting at a bar in a pretty rough neighborhood late at night trying to impress each other about how tough they are.

The first mouse pounds a shot of scotch, slams the glass onto the bar, turns to the second mouse and says, “When I see a mousetrap, I lie on my back and set it off with my foot. When the bar comes down, I catch it in my teeth, bench press it twenty times to work up an appetite, and then make off with the cheese.”

The second mouse orders up two shots of sour mash, pounds them both, slams each glass onto the bar, turns to the first mouse, and replies, “Yeah, well when I see rat poison, I collect as much as I can, take it home, grind it up to a powder, and add it to my coffee each morning so I can get a good buzz going for the rest of the day.”

The first mouse and the second mouse then turn to the third mouse.

The third mouse lets out a long sigh and says to the first two, “I don’t have time for this. I’ve got a date with the cat.”

Rocky Road Fudge Recipe For The Microwave

No excuses.

You can make this recipe.

Yes, even YOU.  You know who you are.

After having way too much construction in the house over the week, I had had enough. 

We had windows replaced, all 23 of them.
Then the A/C went out and got replaced.  I’m in South Florida.  You need A/C.
Then the window guy came back for a “Pick List” I am still waiting for him to finish.

Cooking calms me.  I tried doing what passes for work.  I tried hitting some entertaining websites.  I tried installing software on my server. 

After all that, the chocolate chips I bought at the Restaurant Wholesale store were too close to the crock pot when I made Barbecue Pork.  The closest side melted into a solid mass.  I needed to do something with that solid block of fused chocolate chips.

I needed to make a treat.

Let me tell you, this is some of the BEST fudge I have come across, and I have had some of the best that the New Jersey Shore has to offer.  I mean Ocean City, NJ has some great fudge, but it is also 1000 miles away as the crow flies.

Oh, and the trick with this fudge is it is no cooking needed.  Just a good microwave.

Four ingredients:

  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 Ounces)
  • 12 Ounces of Your Favorite Semi Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups of nut pieces.  I recommend Pecans.  I love Pecans in my recipes!
  • 3 Cups Mini Marshmallows. 
  • Optional – A little vanilla extract, or any other flavors you like!

Process:

  • Get a large microwave safe bowl to do this in.
  • Add 12 ounces of Your Favorite Chocolate.  It can be any flavor you like.  I used Semi Sweet Chocolate.
  • Add one can (14 ounces) of Sweetened Condensed Milk.
  • Place bowl in Microwave and Microwave on High for 60 seconds while watching to make sure it doesn’t boil.
  • Stir the chocolate and milk mixture.  This is the basis for your chocolate fudge.  If you just want chocolate fudge, do not add anything more.
  • If the chocolate has not melted repeat microwaving on high for 30 seconds and stirring until the chocolate has completely melted and is silky smooth.
  • Fold in the Pecan pieces and mix until evenly distributed.
  • Fold in the Mini Marshmallows.  They should not melt.
  • Chill until set in a lined or greased container.  I used an 8 inch square (500 MM) Pyrex container and lined with plastic wrap that I lightly oiled.

Now, the bad news.  This stuff is rich.  But it’s also chocolate.  I estimate the entire dish to be 4800 calories.  That means it serves 16 at 300 calories each piece.

But… CHOCOLATE!!!1!!  ROCKY!!! ROAD!!! FUDGE!!!11!!!

Holy Jumpin’ Hannah, is this stuff GOOD!

Wilton Manors Sunrise

The locals will know exactly where this is.

NE 7th Avenue, NE 20th Street.  Right at the entry to M.E. De Palma Park.

It seems that I pass by there rather a lot.  I also have a reason to take quite a few pictures there.

In this case, the park was still in darkness, but the sunrise was what was so beautiful.

Actually it reminded me of the beginning of Teletubbies.  The radiant baby face rising over the grassy knoll that becomes the smiling sun over the Teletubby Land.

Ok, maybe that comparison wasn’t quite as far fetched as it sounds.  Wilton Manors as Teletubby Land.  I can see it on some level.

It was one of those rare mornings that I was sleeping in and not getting up at stupid o’clock.  Luckily that had me up at the right time to see the sun come up and smile over our happy and quirky little island.

A Dog Crate Fit For A Man

When we got Rack, our McNab SuperDog (TM), we needed a place for him to call his own.

Some say that “Crate Training” a dog is wrong.  All sorts of negative words would follow.  The reality is that it is more like a Room For The Dog than a punishment.  They are “Den Animals”.  Dogs actually like to find corners and semi-enclosed places to go so they can sleep, relax, and even hide.

It isn’t always an indication of fear, it’s more like a place to go where they can be “off duty”.  The duty of being a dog in a human’s pack can be a lot of work.

We had a crate for Lettie but shortly after she joined us, she decided it was for lesser creatures and she preferred to sleep in the room with me, next to where I was on the floor, at the side of the bed.  The crate was kept for emergencies and we eventually took it to the thrift after she passed on.

When we got Rack, we needed new.  Knowing that a McNab Dog is a “medium sized” dog, we knew that we’d want a large crate.  Give the dog plenty of room to grow.  The debate of wire or plastic happened, and we felt that a plastic crate would be quieter.  It would be safer since there are fewer places for paws to get stuck.

It joined us in the car on the way to get him and has been a fixture in our cramped little house ever since.  The trip back he spent in the crate in the back of the car and has always found his way back.

But we had joked about how this night stand sized table could fit a person.

Since I am tall, I just rejected the idea that a Full Grown Man Could Fit In That Dog Crate.

We debated that for a couple years until one day…

I want to move the crate.
We don’t have any room, it’s huge.
We’ve got plenty of room!
No room until construction is finished.

We’ve replaced all the windows in the house (except the one) and then the Air Conditioning failed.  Both projects are waiting completion and need inspection by the city or the county or which ever bureaucratic body is in charge of that sort of oddball nonsense in our quirky little island.  At least we will know that it was done “To Code” when that happens, whatever that means.

We can always put the thing in the Florida Room!
Sure, but we need to clear that out.  It’s huge.

Here is where it got silly folks.  I was being told…

It’s big, but not Huge!
It’s huge.  That’s where you “Hide The Bodies”.  Not me, mind you, but a small child could go in there.
It’s not that small, I could climb in there.

I laughed as I saw Kevin wedge his shoulders inside the door of the crate.   I have to do some serious twisting around to get into the thing to clean it, preferring to lift the top off and clean it from above.

Tall guy’s priviledge.

It got weirder.  I watched Kevin haul his torso into that grey plastic box.

See!  I fit!

His nose was sticking through one of the air holes before he turned around and pulled his feet into Rack’s crate.  Rack came over and sniffed around the commotion.  He sat down next to the crate, gave Kevin’s nose a sniff and a lick, then looked at me to say “What’s Next?”.

If you don’t come out of that crate, I’m going to close the door and lock you in.

Empty threat, the door is easy enough to open from either side as long as you have Opposable Thumbs.

Go ahead, close the door!

I did.  Snapped the latch closed.  At this point we were both laughing so hard that Rack began to back away and head off to do Dog Things, whatever they are.

Kevin leaned forward and unlatched the crate – from the inside, and climbed out.

Apparently I was wrong.  You can put a full grown, 5’11” man inside of a dog crate and he can get himself out.

Just not me.  I’m 6’4″ and won’t fit.

And I’m not trying!

Spider In The Sun

When you are walking along and see a spider that is about as large as your palm, you look.

Ok, you can stop looking at your hand now.  From tip of the leg to tip, it was that big, not the body.

What really caught my eye though wasn’t that this creature was so large, but the web.   It looked like spun sugar glistening in the afternoon sunlight.

Spun sugar is one of those things that is fascinating to watch a chef make.  They create a form out of dowels or an upturned bowl.  They then make a sugar syrup that is super saturated and that would harden when at room temperature.  Then they get a quantity of the stuff and pour it slowly out and allow it to harden in mid air over the two dowels.

This video is worth watching just for the chef’s glorious accent.


The end result is they get something resembling cloth or this spider’s web.

The web itself was spun between two sets of trees about 12 feet apart.  Getting right in the right spot meant your eyes were treated to a shimmering display.

I walked over to the spider web, stopping someone who wanted to disturb the creature, and positioned myself.  As I am standing with camera in the air, arms angled in position, I hear: “Oooh A Banana Spider!”

Impossible to miss this one.  I think it was larger than one of those clown cars in the circus or at least larger than one of the toy cars I had when I was a kid.

The gnats weren’t out yet, nor were the mosquitoes, but this spider was positioned to catch them for its evening meal.

Time To Rebuild My Skates

I’ve done this before. 

I have skated 21,000 miles.  Elite Inline Fitness Skater.  I’ve taken a long break from the sport.  There’s practically nobody doing it any more, except us “hard core” group who do it because we enjoy it.

That and your kids.

But it’s not like it was back around 2000 when there were races and competitions and you would trip over people trying to get into a shop.

For a brief time I was even sponsored, although that could be stretching it a bit.   I had a relationship with a skate shop in Philadelphia who would give me some gear from time to time to try out and report back how it worked out.  Not too much, mind you.  T-Shirts, of course.  Water Bottles, but everyone had those.  Deep discounts on parts like wheels and bearings.  Some free bearings that I liked so much that I kept them clean, lubed, and used them for over a year and well into the second year.

A year then was 2000 miles plus.  My peak week was a week I took vacation to simply skate. 

204 Miles in 7 days.

Seriously.

I’ve introduced people to the sport.  Served as a coach and trainer for others.  Even got paid to train people which was a serious ego boost.  Enjoyed Skating more than just about any physical activity that you can do in public.  Had a resting heart rate of 42 BPM as a result.

But lately I’ve come back.  Skating in Florida is different.   There is no park here like the Schuylkill River Trail.  I’ve skated from the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Valley Forge and back a number of times.  That is 20 to 30 miles of “Black Ice”.  Smooth asphalt complete with regular Water Stops.

There was one trip that I came around a bend in Valley Forge and spotted a Buck.  A Deer.  Pointy things on its head.  He spotted me and trotted beside me for about a half mile at my speed.  We looked back and forth at each other enjoying the workout and parted friends.

That sort of thing doesn’t happen often, does it?

Here I find myself going to Pompano Airpark in Pompano Beach.  Meh.  Better than most, at least it is safe.  4.5 mile loop of table top flat asphalt with a water stop at start and middle.  Not exactly exciting but … well it works.

After a while though, you find yourself thinking it’s time to rework things.  The wheels get flat spotted.  In the 94 degree heat and direct sun, the polystyrene compound breaks down on the black pavement that you could cook an egg on.  Where I got 50 to 200 miles on the wheels in the cooler conditions of Philadelphia, I am lucky to get 10 out of them here.

Swap the wheels out, especially the all important rear wheel – the Push Wheel that wears out on your power stroke faster than all the rest. 

Look at the bearings.  Wipe off the dust and road grit.  Hold the center spindle in your fingers carefully and see if they spin free.

Nope.  I thought so.  I was out with my dog Rack skating around the neighborhood the other day and thought I was being held back by the bearings.  Takes too much effort to move forward, may as well skate with a parachute.

Take a pin to flick the C Spring clip out.  Then spin the shield around that looks like an aluminum pancake with a hole in the middle and pop it out of the bearing.  Flip the bearing and repeat.  Spin the bearing and see if it is free spinning.  Drop it in a plastic container for later.

Repeat for each wheel.  10 wheels for the racing skates.  8 wheels for the cruising skates.  Two bearings per wheel plus a speed kit in the middle to hold it all together.  36 bearings, 72 O Rings and C Clips.

Do a few extra in case there will be a problem.  Throw out all the sealed bearings because they can’t be rebuilt.  It all comes out in the wash.

The Wash is when you pour Citrus Degreaser on all bearings and shake vigorously for about a minute.  The degreaser goes from a pale orange to black.  All those miles melt into the bottom of the plastic cup.

Triple rinse the bearings in water to loosen more grease, grit, and degreaser.  Bang them out on a paper towel to par-dry so they don’t rust.

Then take them to the hair dryer that everyone has hidden in the back of the cabinets.  Don’t have one?  Stop off at the thrift store and get one for this purpose.  It has to have a metal mesh on the air outlet.  The mesh has to be flat.  Put as many bearings on the mesh as fit.  Turn it on full blast and get the bearings as hot as you can.  That will boil off the last of the water.

Repeat for 36 bearings.

Reassemble the bearings.   One shield, one C Clip.

Snap!

Lay it out on a paper towel and drop 3 drops of Tri-Flex Teflon Lube on the bearing. 

Repeat for 36 bearings.

Put the other shield and C Clip back on.  Spin to test. 

Ahhh, silky smooth!

Each wheel gets one bearing per side, and a speed kit.

Slide the wheels in the skate “truck” that holds them to the boot.

Now, you are good.  Another 200 miles per bearing rebuild if the conditions are average.  If you can hear them get loud, rebuild them. 

Two and a half hours of rebuilding, snapping, lubing, and reconstruction.  They’re not doing this sort of thing any more.  Want to know why? 

Skating is still fun.  Even in 94 degree 75% humidity Florida heat.

Gliding over Black Ice at up to 15 MPH.  4 Minute Miles.  Slower when the wind comes in off the ocean.

That makes that afternoon well spent.  The knowledge that I will be able to go out and have the park practically to myself flying free in the sun.

Feel like a workout?  I’ll slow down for you.  I’ll even give you some tips.  There was this time where I was at mile 20 when I burned through all my breakfast and needed a rest and there was the most beautiful sunrise over the city of Philadelphia.

You’ll be surprised what you will see on 8 wheels.  10 wheels if you’re lucky.

A Man Died At The Local Coffee Shop

A man died at my local coffee shop this past year of a heart attack before the paramedics could arrive.

Strange things were reported by employees shortly after.

Weird noises were heard from the back room.

Staff working later shifts would complain of items falling off of shelves, cabinets opening and closing, and even seeing shadowy apparitions.

Worst of all since his death, customers reported the coffee having an odd taste.

Trying to fix the taste of the coffee, the management thoroughly washed all of the equipment.

When that didn’t help they replaced all of the coffee makers.

Still the problem with the coffee’s taste was not resolved.

It’s believed that the grounds are still haunted to this day.

The Philosophy of a Glass Of Water

  • Optimism: The glass is half full.
  • Pessimism: The glass is half empty.
  • Realism: The glass is filled halfway with water, halfway with air.
  • Skepticism: Does the water even really exist, anyway? And what about the glass?
  • Nihilism: It’s neither one nor the other. I mean, what difference does it make, anyway?
  • Existentialism: The water must decide for itself whether it fills or empties the glass halfway. It exists before its viscosity does.
  • Solipsism: The water is really the only entity that truly exists – the glass that surrounds it is but a projection of its consciousness.
  • Fatalism: Whether the glass is half full or half empty, there is nothing we can do about it.
  • Theism: Someone put the water in the glass.
  • Atheism: The water is in the glass as a result of a series of naturally occurring causal events.
  • Deism: Someone put the water in the glass, but does not care what happens to it.
  • Polytheism / Paganism: The water and the glass emerge from Chaos and are represented by a respective personification.
  • Agnosticism: It is not known how the water got there or if the glass is half full or half empty.
  • Non-cognitivism: the question cannot be answered until we properly define the terms “glass” and “water”.
  • Behaviorism: To properly answer the question, it is imperative that we observe how the water behaves.
  • Consequentialism: To see if the glass is half full or half empty, it is necessary to use a system defined by the implications of our actions.
  • Positivism: We can only know the truth by tasting the water.
  • Impressionism: The details are not important. What counts is the general atmosphere of the glass of water, and that it is painted outdoors.
  • Expressionism: We must represent the glass of water in a strictly subjective manner.
  • Symbolism: Dreams, imagination and spirituality are what favor an accurate representation of the glass of water.
  • Dadaism: Where were the avocado sandwiches during the Second World War?? Garage door, albatross!
  • Cubism: We must represent the glass of water from a multitude of viewpoints.
  • Postmodernism: The ontology veritably promulgated through the epistemological reality of the individual suffering from the Kierkegaardian concept of “Angst” indubitably demonstrates the truth as per experienced by the water perched almost precariously in its nondescript receptacle.
  • Astigmatism: We’ll never know whether the glass is half full or half empty so as long as we don’t put on our glasses.
  • Advaita Vedanta: The water and glass are one and the same.
  • Asceticism: One must separate oneself from the material world to uncover the truth. The water and the glass always give a temporary and illusory happiness.
  • Scholasticism: The school of thought that combined what the Church Fathers believed about the glass of water and the Platonic and Aristotelian frameworks regarding glasses of water.
  • Catholicism: The water turns substantially, though not materially, into blood, via the process of transubstantiation.
  • Anglicanism: We demand the right to separate the glass from the water.
  • Reformism: We believe that our previous authorities have become corrupted. They teach that the glass is half full, which is contrary to what our Lord taught! In addition, they practice simony, selling water in exchange for land!
  • Relativism: Whether one believes that the glass is half full or half empty, everybody is correct, even when two beliefs contradict each other.
  • Antinatalism: It is immoral to pour water into the glass.
  • Extremism: The glass is either completely empty or completely full.
  • Capitalism: It is the one who fills the glass who can drink from it.
  • Communism: Everyone in society is entitled to an equal portion of the water. Glory to Mother Russia.
  • Fascism: The power of glass of water is in the union of its individuals.
  • Anarchism: No one has the authority to force his neighbor to decide whether the glass is half full or half empty.
  • Non-conformity: If the system wants us to believe the glass is half full, we will insist that it is half empty, or vice versa.
  • Liberalism: The water has the right to practice any activity that does not interfere with the glass’s freedom, and vice versa.
  • Epicureanism: All that matters is whether the glass of water will make me happy.
  • Rationalism: Bibo ergo sum.
  • Dogmatism: Whether the glass is half full or half empty, the answer is already given to us.
  • Utilitarianism: The water must satisfy the thirst of the greatest possible amount of people.
  • Kantianism: The way we observe the glass is not necessarily equivalent to how the glass truly is.
  • Feminism: It is important to eliminate the patriarchy, which poisons the water, by bringing society to a balance, thus allowing the water to quench the thirst of everyone, regardless of gender.
  • Humanism: The water should quench the thirst of humans above all.
  • Pacifism: It is important to question the state of the water in the glass without ever resorting to violence, no matter the circumstance.
  • Monism: The glass and the water are made of the same substance.
  • Dualism: The glass and the water are made of two different substances. It is not clear how the two interact.