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.

But… You Have Food! The Dog, The Moose, and The Pretzels.

I’m a soft touch.  I’ll admit it.  But it shows someone is coming out of his shell, at least where food is concerned.

That someone is my own little furry puzzle.   Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM).

His PTSD from the dark days when he was a puppy are slowly fading.  As best as we could figure, some moron decided that a McNab should make for a good hunting dog.

If you need to hunt to put food on the table, do it by yourself.

If you need to hunt to prove your manhood, I have a suggestion that involves surgery originally popularized in Denmark.

Much simpler than putting that nonsense on a dog.

Rack still doesn’t eat well on his own.  Some day he may allow himself to be the beta-dog in the pack.  For now, he only eats when I nag him to.  I have to nag him because his food has to be wet due to a missing pre-molar.  Wet food goes bad fairly quickly when the house is kept at 78 during the day if someone is home.

80F if nobody is.

Tapping on the bowl to insist that he pays attention to it may or may not work, and mornings are easier to get him to eat because this all happens before the sun is up, sometimes by as much as two hours.

I did say that I am an early riser.

There are exceptions to the rule.

Pork and Pretzels.

You see, I’ve gotten quite good at making Barbecue Pork in the crock pot.  Cook on low until the interior temperature is 140F.  It takes about 3 1/2 hours.  One cup of sauce to 3 pounds of Pork Loin.  Since Pork is currently $1.89 a pound, it means we have a lot of it here.

That recipe works with chicken and beef at 165F, as well as vegetarian alternatives although they are a bit more forgiving with temperature.

Rack will actually get within an inch of the plate while I am eating.  Pretty bold for someone who doesn’t like his own food and considers himself at the Back of the Pack!

If he doesn’t eat his food by the time I finish mine, he doesn’t get any.  He’s starting to realize the pattern and is actually beginning to eat his dinner.   One mouthful at a time, he will shuttle between his bowl and my table.  Nose sniffing the air, just under my elbow.  Then back to the bowl.

At least I’m not having to hand feed him any more.  He was THAT shut down.

But after dinner and dog walk, we have a routine.  Bad sitcoms from times gone by in the last century, mostly.  I’m in the big green chair.  Rack’s got his mat by the chair and the little “dead area” by the wall.  He tends to ignore the mat, wadding it up into a pillow. 

I guess 78 is a little warm if you’re wearing a full length black fur coat when you’re a dog.

The tiles are much cooler than that mat.

Eventually, after dessert doesn’t fully kick in, I get up and have a small cheat.   Lately it’s been plain unsalted pretzels, but it can be anything.

Twin Brown Laser Beamed Eyes.  You can practically hear the relays click into place.

“No, Rack, Not for dogs!”. 

It doesn’t work.  He knows it’s for dogs.  He continues.

I go back to watching Arnold the Pig snort around Hooterville.

I won’t give him any if he gets too pushy and so far that works.  I’m working my way through the small handful of pretzels.  If I have to use a bowl, then my own “Trainer” discipline kicks in and I start obsessively counting calories.  After all, this is “Snack” after “Dessert”.

Yeah, I’m a soft touch for myself too.

The handful of pretzels are dwindling.  Rack’s interest hasn’t waned.  He’s walked to the other side of me and is trying to stare me down.

“No, Rack.  Sorry!”.

He doesn’t believe me.  Don’t lie to your dog.  It doesn’t work.  You always let yourself in for a disappointment if you do.

Two pretzels left.  Rack is down in the corner again.  One ear erect, the other one cocked over at the top.  He’s calmed down but one eye is still open and watching me.

I put the first one into my mouth and look down at him.  He immediately perks and looks back.

I hear from the peanut gallery “You know you’re going to, just give it to him!”.

I do.  He takes it gently from my hand as if I am handing him the greatest gift in the world.  One small, bite sized, unsalted, store-brand, pretzel.

CrunchCrunchCrunch and it’s all over.

Until tomorrow night.  We’ve got three bags of the things sitting around in the cupboard.

I’m thinking maybe Nachos.  We did get some tortilla chips at the market too!

Windows 10? Not Yet.

I’ve been holding off on this one.  The computers I have run adequately fast on what ever operating systems I use to get my own personal and professional work done.  It is a mix of Windows 8.1 and Debian Linux – primarily Linux by proportion of use.

I’ve been told that I need to adjust my “Tinfoil Hat”, that I’m overreacting.

No, I haven’t drunk the Kool Aid and I don’t have to.

Here’s the deal.  A month or so ago, people were given the option to download a copy and install a “Free upgrade to Windows 10 Home“.

Microsoft doesn’t give anything away for free.  There’s always a hook, even if you have to look deeply for it.

In the case of Windows, it’s best if you remember that “If you aren’t the customer, you are the product”.  I am directly quoting one of my friends who is one of the biggest critics of Android.

I have no doubt that Android is a case of Google simply watching everything you do, and using it to build a profile of you, personally.  It may be to serve advertising.  It may be for future use.  It may be for a friendly or not so friendly government.

Android costs money to make.  Those people have to be paid.  They’re doing it by selling that information to a shadowy “someone” who could be as “innocent” as an advertiser. 

I hate ads.  Did I say that?  I have never clicked on an ad in all the years that I have been using computers intentionally.  Have you?  I doubt it.

Anyway, that free version of Windows 10 Home is exactly the same thing.  Every time you do something, you’re being watched.  Even on the Pro version of Windows 10 you have to go in and turn that garbage off.

Thanks, I’ll pass.  Windows 8.1 has a bit of life left in it.

It might surprise you to hear that if you read this blog at any depth.  I use Windows 8.1 Pro with a program called Classic Shell to give me back a Windows 7 look and feel.  Any time I have to go back into that ugly block land called “Metro” or Modern Interface, I’m jarred with just how hideous and inefficient it is. 

But I’ll stay right here.  I don’t use any Modern programs and for that matter, everything I use on Windows is Free or Open Source.  The GPL License seal of approval.

You can tame the evil kitten called Windows 10 Home but then you have to do without the Microsoft Store. 

Just one example of one issue of many that I have with Windows 10 Home.  It has been shown that your personal typing style is distinct enough to track your self to your specific computer.  Microsoft wants you to help it improve its typing recognition.

Per Lifehacker:

Send Microsoft info about how I write: This feature improves text completion suggestions when you handwrite or type (presumably on the touch keyboard, though it doesn’t say. That’s very broad, and we’ll talk about it more in a bit. I recommend turning this off.

If you want to play Solitaire because you got hooked back on Windows 3.1, you can do so with ads.  Same thing with Freecell. 

There is an advertising ID number that basically stays with you.  If you didn’t like the idea of an advertising company tracking your every move, why would you want Microsoft to do so?

Actually, you can find it on your old Windows 7 machine, copy it across, and I’m told it works.  I don’t know first hand since I’ve got too much to do than to play Solitaire on a computer.  That’s the kind of thing I’d do on Hold with a Client, and I don’t stay on hold long if I’m there.
So to those of you who don’t like the prospect of being watched, you can pay the $100 or so and upgrade to Windows 10 Pro and then look into locking it down.

For me, I’m staying put.  The other machines I have are happily on Debian Linux.  I know Linux well enough to make it do what I need it to.  No ads, No spyware, and it’s all free, including Freecell.

One of those rare cases where you don’t have to worry about evil software getting involved on your computer.

Rack Hates It When I Sleep In

Every so often you just get a little tired.  You think to yourself, boy it would be great to sleep in a little tomorrow morning.

The schedule allows it, so why not, right?

Not so fast, sunshine.

See, I’m used to getting up at 5AM.  I’m not sure why, most likely it’s because I was getting up in Philly to get to Fairmount Park on the weekends to train on my inline skates in summer.  It would get me to the park by sunrise, maybe a little before, and I could get in the workout before the charity walks would start. 

Charity Walks plus “regular park use” do not mesh well.  I gave up on that at one point and went out to the Schuylkill River Trail starting at the City Line and skating past Valley Forge to Oaks at the Perkiomen River Bridge. 

Even now, I’m up earlier than I really have to because it’s “normal”. 

As we all know, Normal is just a setting on a dryer.

This particular morning I slept in.  6:30.  Oooh, such a slacker!  Up only 30 minutes before Sunrise!

The result is that things just got pushed later, including breakfast.

Rack doesn’t like that.  You see, herding dogs are creatures of habit.  Even more than I am, Rack does things in specific orders at specific times.  By 9AM, he’s sitting in his crate becoming one with it until pretty much Dinner Hour.

If you ever wondered what your dogs do while you’re gone, it’s probably very little with a few exceptions.  People at the door and the UPS truck.  Both of them make my boy Rack grow a pair and let loose a tirade of barking that sounds like a cross between a Yodeling contest and a Machine Gun.

Fearful Dogs can bark too.  Yodeling barks usually mean fear.

A bit late, I wandered into the kitchen and started making breakfast and the second mug of coffee.   I’m beginning to master the art of standing in one place and reaching over the dog to get things done.  I am joined in there by 45 pounds of mostly black fur and two twin brown laser beams staring me down.

Why?  Yogurt.  He loves my yogurt to the point where it effects how much he will eat of his regular food.  I know that because when I stopped feeding him yogurt, two things immediately happened.  He began to eat more, and got more insistent in wanting yogurt.

Candy for dogs is bad, yogurt good.  Go fig!  Moderation in everything is best, little guy.

The kettle begins to scream for attention.  Looking down I see Rack less than a foot from my foot.  I step over him, get the kettle and pour the hot water into the French Press.  Give it a stir and I’m able to finish breakfast.

Until I open that 2 quart Mason jar of plain yogurt that finished brewing the other day.  He’s up begging.  Playing it cool, I ignore him until there’s only a tablespoon left in the bottom of the bowl.  Of course I had to make sure that all the Mango was gone from the bottom.  He hates Mango.  I must have the only dog in the world that does.

I’m back at fussing over the coffee and cleaning up the morning spills.   I hear padding feet back and forth pacing furiously.

It’s his way of saying Damnit Let’s Go! 

I get the rest of the things done, turn around away from the sink and I notice that my left side is smoking.  Smouldering from the twin brown laser beams vying for attention.  Intensity, thy name is Rack.

I say one word only.  “What?”.

He gets up and trots to the back door.   “OK, let me get my coffee” I say as I see the tip of the tail wagging in the distance in response.

Open the door.  Two steps forward and he freezes.  There was a trash truck over at the businesses a block

away. 

“Oh fer!  Come on Rack, come on out.”  He doesn’t really go very far.  I had to do a perimeter search anyway.   Getting to the far side of the property, Rack is still sitting at the door.

“Come on over here, boy!”.  Head down, he comes around the pool and visits.  The truck had moved on and we are all clear except the FEC train going North out of Miami blowing its whistle to get people off the tracks a mile or so away.  That never bothered him before.

I ask him to Show Me and he trots back to the house.  I give up.

You see, what it is is that at 5AM it’s a very different world out there, no matter where you are.  The world is still asleep.  It’s quiet and restful.  Cotton candy clouds and stars like jewels sparkling in the skies and precious little else.  That’s what a fearful dog needs.  Just a little bit of excitement.  Too much is like putting too much pepper in the soup – it won’t be right.

Oh well, life moves on and adapts, little pup, and you’re getting stronger too.  Some day, little guy, you’ll be fine.  Until then you will just have to come to me when that big bad trash truck scares you. 

Ok, lets go back inside.  I think there’s some yogurt left in the bowl.

Firefox Security Hole Is Why You Need An Adblocker And An Update

Windows:

  • When I clicked “Help” then “About Firefox” it immediately downloaded the patch.  
  • Click on the “Restart Firefox To Update Button”

Linux (Debian)

Assuming you have “real” Firefox installed and the sources in place.

  • Open Terminal as Root.
  • Smile because you have Root.
  • apt-get update
  • apt-get upgrade
  • Restart Firefox when you click on the button that appears.

Other Linux Distros will vary, of course.

Mac apparently does not have the problem.

What happened?  Hackers.  Simply put, a Hacker exploited a hole in Firefox so that advertisements could push some code onto your machine to take it over.

Now, this business about ad blockers.

I run one and I use it very aggressively. It is for this reason.  It is also that I truly hate being pandered to and watched.

The latest trend is to watch what you are doing via “tags”.  A 1 pixel “dot” of a picture will be pushed to your browser as an anchor for them to watch what you are doing.

The best thing for you to do is to run an ad blocker.  You tell it what to block, and yes, it gets very technical because you have to take responsibility to block these things.  For the most part, an ad blocker with (free) subscriptions will block most, but never all, of these nasties.

When you run an ad blocker you will also notice that your browser runs much faster since it isn’t trying to paint all those ads for all those products that you will never use.

Lets be honest, have you ever actually clicked on an ad intentionally?

Me neither.

Heck, I don’t even see youtube commercials because I run an ad blocker.

The easier one to use is Ad Block Plus.  It is controversial because they allow certain advertisers to pay *them* to be allowed past the blocker.  I would recommend this for basic users because unless you want to learn how to use it, it’s pretty simple.

The one I am using is called uBlock.  I’m still learning how to use it.  It removes the ads, but I haven’t figured out how to make it remove the blank space the ad created.

It’s up to you.  Ads and Hackers, or a better browsing experience.  I know what I chose.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a browser to restart.