Is Anyone Writing Documentation Anymore?

So the last exercise I had done before Hurricane Irma hit was to take a computer and completely install a new operating system onto it.

I will be doing that again today, from my own instructions.

 

Sure, it’s a bit esoteric, some people are good at reading between the lines.

 

The problem with that is that you end up spinning your wheels and finding that something you assumed, you assumed wrong.

 

For the record, when I write documentation, I write it as I do it. That way I know it actually works.

 

It may have taken 26 steps once you had all the pieces, but if you had my hardware and the right software, you’d have a nice happy laptop running Debian. Thinkpad Laptop, X201 or fairly similar, although the version of Debian I used (Non-Free) was fairly liberal with getting what you need for many more laptops. Evil Wifi Drivers not withstanding.

 

The next step was to find documentation to install a web server.

 

The trick with installing complex software these days is that you basically have to find the right documentation. Or to be more precise, the correct documentation. Documentation that is complete and actually will work.

 

Oh and of course you personally have to read and understand what you are reading. No distractions allowed.

 

However, it is rare that you will find exactly the right documentation to do what you want. Often software is updated and that documentation you used two years ago to do that exact thing no longer works.

 

Highly common in the open source world, some very minor tweak will change where the files are and you are back online doing a search for what you were looking for.

 

In the consumer software world, you have a similar situation where the documentation was only partially updated since it was originally released. Think Windows XP vs Windows 8.1 vs Window 10. Things just moved around drastically within Windows itself let alone functionality.

 

I got “caught short” with trying to install a web server. Did it before. No problem. Since it is an open source project, you get what you pay for sometimes. Following the wrong guide I got the entire web server working. I just don’t have any passwords for anything.

 

As they say on a football field: Drop Back 5 and Kick.

 

That would be American Football. I never played Soccer, at least not for any length of time. All that running around annoyed me.

 

So at some point I’ll re-attempt that mess. FInd another tutorial that promises to install the LAMP stack and write down what I did.

Or I will find that one bug and fix it all. My choice, after all.

 

That is why I keep this blog. Many times I need to do something more than once. Create a Linux Web Server, save it off, then reproduce the results on a different computer a year later.

 

So when I post a long diatribe on how to do this and the other thing, I’m doing it for Future Me. So I don’t end up banging my head on a wall.

 

Like Today. I got it wrong. Happens. Time to start over.

 

For now, I’ll just go look for the football. Maybe the dog will chase it around the yard. Blow off some steam. Finish my Spanish for the day.

Try, Try again.

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Please Watch Over Your Dogs, Cats, and any Sensitive Folks over The Fourth, You May Save A Life

Ok, so I may be a day early. I tend to put out some weird ramblings on Wednesdays.

What I’m onto is this fireworks nonsense. Nobody wants to live in a war zone. To a dog, especially a fearful one, that is what will be happening a bit after sunset for A While.

An Arbitrary amount of time after any given Firework-y event. A couple of weeks if I remember last year.

I love looking at them but what that does to anyone that gets “triggered” by them is truly frightening.

Yeah, I used the word triggered. Which means those big strong (read: callous types) have just closed this window.

Growing up in an area that banned anything more than sparklers, the professional firework displays that shot off on July 4th were amazing. The park near the house, Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill NJ, was a spot you could stand in an open field and watch at least ten displays.

Now imagine your idiot Confederate Flag waving, Pickup Truck driving neighbor setting off his personal jollies in the street next door and having them go wild into your hedges and start a fire.

Meanwhile your cat or dog is freaking out in mortal terror because someone just dropped a mortar overhead.

I would expect this in France in two weeks at Bastille Day, or perhaps in the UK around Guy Fawkes day, but then again Europeans seem to have more sense than some folks around here.

Keep your pets indoors tonight. If you need to walk your dog, a possible suggestion is what I am doing.

Sunset tonight in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is at 8:17PM. I will try to get my walk started around that time. Preferably before. “They” always wait until it’s fully dark out before the idiots start their own battle of lights.

Oh and your cats? First off, if you let your cat out at night, you’re doing wrong by them. They live much longer indoors, and so do the songbirds in your neighborhood that are in decline everywhere. Secondly, you never know what some fool will do with fireworks, your cat, and perhaps a little duct tape.

Yes, we hear about that every year.
Yes, the animal rights laws are getting better.

No, your dislike of those facts won’t stop some freak from taking out their anger on your pet.

Keep them indoors.
Tonight and always.
They’ll be around much longer.

Ok, so I didn’t mean for this to get so strident and rant-y.

Protect the pets you love. Make sure you have a picture of them with you. If you lose yours, look for them at the shelter. Like that graphic above says, the 5th of July is the busiest day for animal shelters with people trying to recover their lost dog or cat.

Their welfare is in your hands.

If you happen to know a veteran, ask them if they need company tonight. They may appreciate it.

Ok, let me rephrase it. If you know of anyone who may be alone tonight or any night, go say hi. They may appreciate it.

It’s just neighborly.

I hate you Kenneth. Or Why I Have Every Car Dealer In South Florida Blocked on My Phone.

It started about a week ago with a wrong number.  It is still going on.

I figure I am playing Whack-a-Mole with my phone and blocking one after another car dealer in South Florida.

I am not in the car market.

I do not want a Volkswagen.  They do not import the cars of their line up that I would like to see on the road,and if they did I would not trust them due to the diesel engines they would have.  For the record, that would be a Polo or an Up.  The Golf has gotten so bloated and fat that it no longer is a small car.

I do not want a Toyota.  Oh, when I do go to look I will check them out. But I am not in the car market.

I do not want a Nissan.  Their electrical systems are crap from what I remember, and they seem … boring.

I do not want a Buick.  Buick?  If a Nissan is boring…

I do not want Auto Nation.  You don’t get that big without doing something right – for you, not for the buyer.

I do not want a Ford.  Oh they’re doing better now, but that Ford Taurus I had back in the day had a problem they never could fix and that was how I got turned onto Jeeps.

I have a 15 year old, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X.  It only has 46,000 miles on it.  That would be 74,000 KM give or take a centimeter or three.

You see, the model year is waning.  Volkswagen and Toyota are apparently doing give aways.  Enter your personal information and you get a free gift!  Actual value may vary, along with your own sanity you cheap bastard.

In that personal information is a phone number.

Mine.

My number, that I have had since just after I bought that aforementioned Jeep Wrangler X with the soft top and the inline six motor that I refuse to get rid of (AMC! AMC! AMC!), is predictable.

It has a pattern of numbers.  It is memorable.

Even to a moron like Kenneth.  Come here, Kenneth you need to be corrected.  Repeatedly.

So when Kenneth got to that web page for the Volkswagen, he came up with mine.

The web pages already check for the obvious “555-1212” so you can’t get your Free! Gift! with that.  So he mangled the digits and ended up …

With mine.

Hang on… I just got another call.

This time it was Al Hendrickson Toyota.  Apparently Kenneth has a desire for a Toyota Tacoma truck.

Kenneth if you do get that truck I hope you wreck it.

As for why am I blocking the numbers?

Have you ever tried getting a salesman to do something like delete a number from a database?

I didn’t think so.  I have.  Repeatedly.  It’s just easier this way.

This is a group of people, to put it kindly, too much in a rush to listen to the announcement that says my name on the “answering machine”.  They hear my name and go ahead and leave a Cheery Message From Your Friendly Sales Manager At … fill in the blank.  Pick a random car dealer from West Palm Beach to Kendall Florida.  I’ve heard them all.

I figure eventually he’ll hit some of the other dealers.

Auto Nation.

Al Hendrickson Toyota.

Rick Case.

Toyota of Hollywood.

Don Lemay.

Endicott Buick.

Volkswagen of North Dade FL.

Miami Lakes Auto.

Ford in Pompano Beach (twice in rapid succession)

Nissan of Delray Beach (at least they were polite)

Coral Springs Nissan

Volkswagen of Pompano Beach.

All of you people have called.  All of you people have been blocked.

Kenneth, stop it.  I have more rude things to say to you but won’t here.  I have a phone call to answer again, only 30 minutes after the last one.

I guarantee you this has given me an insight into how awful buying a car is in the United States, and I will be aggressive in shutting that nonsense down when I do decide that my own now-antique needs to be sold for roughly what I bought it 15 plus years from now.

Oh yes, they do hold value.  And I’ll have a secret smile as I tell the car dealer to get me a cup of coffee and a full lunch if he wants to keep me in that chair as he goes to talk to his sales manager one too many times.

Yes, grilled, not fried.  You can’t do that?  Ok.  I’m out … You mean you will? Oh great…

Salespeople.  They are the worst.

Why Does FPL Want To Ruin My Pizza?

Sundays.  They have turned into Pizza Day.

Specifically, one half 7 cheese, one half 7 cheese with Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Grilled Onions.

Made from scratch.  Scratch Crust, Scratch Sauce, and the toppings are my own mix.

I have this pizza recipe down.  The dough is Pat’s Pizza Dough.  The recipe comes from my sister.  She had it in a recipe book that she was given when she got married back in The Nineties.  I sat at her table with a stack of little square pieces of paper and wrote a whole bunch of recipes down and kept them.

 

I still have the original square paper for this.  It’s faded, water spotted, stained, and just about everything else you can think of that can happen to a piece of paper after some 20 plus years.  But the recipe is bullet proof.  Never fails.

Oh sure, I have adjusted it for Florida Conditions.  Bad water that comes out of the tap slightly brown and tastes like it has been sitting in a garden hose in the heat.  Flour that is commercial high grade, and rather thirsty and seems to like brown water.

Instead of what the recipe says, I’ve bumped it up to 12 ounces of water.  I know what the dough “feels” like when it is right.  Every experienced cook has a recipe they do By Eye and get right.

Pizza is mine.

In fact, I’ll put my own pizza up against anyone else’s on the island now.

The dough makes 1400 calories of bread, I weigh that in grams, divide by 10, reserve 30 percent and that makes one crust.  The cheese is exactly 6 ounces.  Sauce is exactly 7 ounces and is a home developed clone of the best sauce on the island from a closed Pizza Shop.  Yield is a pizza that is just about 1000 calories total depending on whether I go with 30% or 33% of the dough.

The point of that is I Know This Recipe.  It goes well with a single beer for Sunday Lunch.

I start this all at 9 AM.  Make the dough, weigh and separate it out.  This pizza was 30% crust, allowing me to make 6 rolls out of the remainder.  101 grams per roll.

It got rolled out and allowed to rise in a protected place.

11:30, I put the pizza together.  The vegetables were sauteed to drive out the moisture. Cheese mixed.  Sauce layered, followed by the cheese, and finally the veg.

I reached into the refrigerator, grabbed a fine ale, and sat down to enjoy a brief rest as the oven came up to temperature.

About 20 minutes later I hear the oven snap.  “It’s ready!  I guess I should get up.  The pizza will be ready in …”

BOOM.  I hear that apocalyptic sound of a “Pew” as capacitors in all the appliances discharge.  The fans stop.  It is silent except the ticking of the mechanical clocks.

You see this part of Florida, Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, and Oakland Park is in Broward County.  The East side.of the county was built up first and it was built to the edge of the Everglades National Park until no more room at the inn.

Florida is full.  If you’re moving here from somewhere else, don’t think it is an open place of palm trees and wading birds.  It is, but those places are usually redneck, infested with evil things like alligators, mosquitoes that would carry off a large car, and Republicans.  Swamp People.

Broward is nice.  It’s diverse, having lots of interesting people from lots of interesting cultures, and everyone is from somewhere else.   The Native Floridians here are comparatively few on the ground.

But all that demographic nonsense?  You see what happens is that every so often we get, yes, a Hurricane.  The last one that hit here was Wilma in 2006, and we’re overdue.

 

The telephone poles look like they were here before Wilma.  You may ask, how can I tell?  Simple, they all seem to lean slightly to one side.  They’re almost all sun-bleached on the South side as well.  Southern exposure here is redundant, they’re kind of a grey color.   I know, I’m looking at one now.

Motley assortment of old beat up infrastructure.  Old Beat Up Infrastructure fails.  Randomly and spectacularly at times.

That would be that boom I was talking about.  It happened as I was just out of my chair and took my very first step across the living room to the kitchen.

What caused it was a two or three year old repair to a High Voltage wire on a pole about 100 feet from my house.  We were told it was “done badly” and “it just let go”.

I walked into the kitchen.  Oven temperature was 450. It was dropping.  I slid the pizza in anyway, and went into the living room.
“I really don’t want to finish this off in the grill.”

Crappy infrastructure means we have backup plans here.  In places where the weather is more gentle, like, say New Jersey in my sister’s native Cherry Hill, you talk about power outages, but they never last more than two hours or so.

My friend works for the power company in Atlanta.  When I tell him what I go through here with the power, he shudders and says “Southern Company would never accept that sort of failure rate” and then segue into a long conversation about how awful the power is here in Florida.

When I moved here, I lost two computers because of the twice daily “Power Pops” I get.

Trust me, it really is that bad.

Six minutes passed.  The pizza was actually done.  A wee bit under, but since I opened the oven, I lost the rest of my heat.  It was now down to around 300F.

“Well, lunch is served.  I’ll put the rolls on the grill.”

The pizza was actually quite good, better than most here.  But it wasn’t exactly a crispy cracker crust I obsess over.

Freaking FPL.

I go outside and put the rolls on the grill and close the lid.  I know exactly where to turn the knobs to get the grill to heat to 430F.

Setting the timer for 11 minutes, I come back later.

The first rolls are done.  Surprisingly good looking for something that was cooked under the Lanai.  I put in the second set.   They come out perfect too.

Actually the grill hot spots, so I will remember next time to put bricks in the grill to keep the cookie sheet up off the actual grill work.

“Now what?”  We were without power.  Full but no power.

“Luckily the house has hurricane glass and new roof.  We’ll have to see”.

The day went up to 92F here.  I watched the indoor temperature inch up a degree an hour or so.  It started at 76, and by 5PM it was up to 84.

We had some small battery operated fans for when it was warmest, but it served to remind me that while we do have a generator, it won’t power the Air Conditioning in the house without some more work.  Yes, we’ve got more hurricane prep to do or else it’s pile the dog and the parrot in the Jeep and drive North in case of a power outage.

Wilma did that.  My block was without power for two weeks.  I was told this over and over.  Two weeks of sitting on a floor and using D Batteries to power a small battery powered fan in an emergency is not fun.

So please, FPL, fix your infrastructure.  I don’t want to get used to baking rolls on a grill.

Home Improvement OCD Caused By A Bathroom Door

When you buy a house that wasn’t made for you, you expect little strange things.

Even if you are the Uber Home Improvement God who knows how to build a house from scratch using a hammer, hand saw, and maybe a screwdriver when you break your thumb nail putting the covers on the light switches, there will be little subtle things that were done not quite the way you planned.

Come on, admit it, no house is perfect.

We came from a 1863 Town House in Chestnut Hill Philadelphia.  If you stood in the middle of the dining room and bounced, the floor would bounce with you – it was held in place by a system of steel girders and beams.  Basically it was a bridge.  A bridge with very very old wood.

Here, the house was built in 1957 or 1968.  The city’s records aren’t quite clear on that.  We are the third owners.  The first owner put in a swimming pool and air conditioning.  The second owner lived here longer and there are some stories that he lived here “harder”.

I’ve heard stories about a wedding held where there was a platform built over the pool.  There are the initials of the police officers of Wilton Manors during the 1980s in the cement by one light pole.  I’ve heard echoes of stories that were alluded to and never finished because “I just can’t”.

Hey, if you just can’t, don’t start, OK?

But the place isn’t perfect.  If you walk on the tiles here, that were laid over the original grey terrazzo, some of them are silent, others are hollow.  The grout needs to be replaced.  The tiles themselves are stained from a carpet pad that was left in place so long that it welded to the floor.

Don’t get me started about how dirty the carpet was when I pulled it up.  Pepto Bismol Pink went out immediately upon Move In.

*Shudder*

But I’m used to doing home improvement.  I can spackle and plaster better than many professionals, and between the two of us, Light Plumbing and Electrical work are covered.

But I had a Home Improvement OCD Melt Down.  It was caused by the morning bathroom, um, use.

Seated on the throne, the bathroom door was closed.  It is a hollow core door that I can barely pass through without brushing my shoulders on either side.  I walk through it on an angle.  I’m a tall guy, beefy, and in shape, and that damn door is narrow.

I’m looking around the room.  There are things that need to be fixed.  I’m thinking that since we’re at a breather in the Home Improvement Binge of 2015, and there will be no construction contractors in the house until next week, I may be able to get caught up on some backlogged maintenance.

Cleaning, that is.

Vacuum up the dust and bits of caulk and spackle.  Pick up some wandering screws or nails.  Look at the vertical blinds in the living room and make adjustments so they swing better.

Basic stuff.

But then I made the mistake.  I looked at the back of the door.

See, I am used to things being not quite right.  If you are standing in the living room and look down you will see the discoloration from that ugly pink carpet and the pad underneath.  I have managed to keep things serviceable here, if not perfect.  The walls are thankfully washable paint, so I see something and I grab the ammonia and clean it.

Except that hollow core door.  You see, it is completely unprepared wood.

I can’t say it is unstained.  It was stained before we got here.  Just not “Wood Stain”.  I am used to Wood Stain, I’m something of a woodworker myself.  Basic carpentry I enjoy.  Shop Class in 7th and 8th grades was fun to me.

This isn’t Wood Stain.  This is something entirely… else.

So cover me, I’ll get the ammonia from under the bathroom sink and … wait.

You see, if I clean that stuff off, it is probably soaked into the untreated wood.  That means it will have to be treated.  Primered and painted after a light “prep-sand” with some 220 or 400 grit sandpaper.  Now in my mind that meant some nice high gloss washable white paint, although maybe a wood stain would be just as good.  Polyurethane, like the stuff you use with the windows open so you don’t get high and pass out in a daze.

Hmmm, this bears some more thought!

But.

If I paint that wood, I’ll have to do both sides.  Great!  Now I have one door painted.  Out. Of. Six.  I can stand in one spot in that short little hallway, only 6 tiles long by 3 wide, and touch four out of six doors.

One door will stand out.

I’ll have to prep-sand the other doors.  Clean them off.  Get the dust of 50 to 65 years off the doors.  Breathe, then start to paint them.  Volatile Organic Compounds floating into the air.  Probably will end up killing the Parrot.  Definitely kills off a couple million brain cells.  Lower the IQ by 10 points.

I’d fit in then!

Ok, so now that the doors have been painted, take a breather and look around.

Hmmm.  Stark White doors against that faded woodwork.  That looks rather shabby.  There’s a bit of a remnant of that washable wall paint leftover.   I can still see that horrible 1957 or 1968 Pepto Bismol Pink under a few spots here and there on the woodwork too.  Let me touch that up.

Now we are at painting six doors, six door frames.   Are we done yet?

Of course not!  You see the walls are a color that is “Ecru”.  Off White.  Who ever got the idea that walls should be “Off White” in the first place should have been terminated.  Why?  Off White looks like White that strayed.  It looks like white that was dirty.  As soon as it was painted.

Against my newly nice clean zinc oxide white washable door frames and doors, that wall covered in Ecru Beige Off White Bleah looks like someone had been smoking in the house for decades.

Instead of calling it Ecru, I’ll call it Smoker’s Fingers Beige.

Ugly.

So we paint the little hallway.  Find a color.  My own vote would be Pure White.  Zinc Oxide.  Like the nose of an Australian Surfer White.  All Bits On.  Hex Code #000000.

I’ll get overruled and it will be Ecru again.  Why?

Because of OCD.

You see if I paint the walls back in the little hallway, I will have to paint the rest of the house.  All of it.  Living Room.  Dining Room.  Kitchen.

Oh sure, it will get done before we eventually sell the place.   After all, cleanly painted walls are worth about 3 to 5 times the cost you put into getting the walls painted on the resale market.

Do I have the time for THAT?  I probably could do a wall a day, or every couple days.  Work my way around the house.  Have it done for the holidays maybe two or three years past.  But it would get done.  It would annoy me.  I’d want to find the person who invented Ecru, the person who painted the stuff on these walls, the person who put “texture” on the walls.  Then find the person who invented nails and get that person to nail the other three together and make a sort of Super Uber Interior Designer.  Held together with nails, caulk, and beige paint.

Then get THEM to do the painting.

I think all of this will just wait.   I’ll stop with the ammonia on the walls.  I hear ammonia does a lot of good!

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.

Olive Oil on Bread, Rollerblading, and Roseanne

Rollerblading.

I still do it.  I have skated over 21,000 miles.  I’m still trying to get a feel for the trails here in South Florida, and I have to say skating here could be better.

When you build a path that is due East/West and due North/South, you’re going to have one direction that you are with the wind on your back, another that it is in your face.  Just the way it is when the winds come off the ocean pretty predictably.

But, it’s here, and I’m in paradise, and I can skate.   So I do.  Push myself with a heart rate that feels like I am slacking if it is only at 160, and I have seen it peak over 200.

Sounds excessive?  Maybe.  If you hear “He went while he was skating” just think “He went doing something he loves”.

It wears through wheels quickly, and since you can’t really find proper racing wheels easily these days since the sport died around 2003…

(Hey!  Where did everyone go?)

The idea of going to My Favorite Skate Shop is done.  I didn’t like paying $6 a wheel when I would have to replace 2 after two workouts and I’d do 4 workouts a week.

I know… blah blah blah.  It’s safe to say that I easily have more skate parts in Wilton Manors than any other place in town.  That box has enough bearings to last into the next millennium and it’s packed solid with replacement wheels of five different sizes.

I had this conversation with myself without realizing I was actually vocalizing it the other night.  I was sitting on the couch half watching Roseanne trying to write in her basement and commiserating with her character that no matter how good it is, sometimes you just can’t do what you love. 

Then I realized I was having that conversation with someone in the house.   Writing can be hard.  You hit a writer’s block and you need a topic.  It’s what others call A Muse, but I am not really good enough for a Muse. 

“Why don’t you write about Olive Oil in restaurants.  You always complain about that and you haven’t had a good Rant in a while”.

Nobody really wants to hear about that.

You see I have a major problem with being presented a small dish of olive oil and sometimes herbs or balsamic vinegar with the implication that I’m expected to put it on a piece of bread. 

First off it looks like something I drained from the crankcase of my Jeep. 

Who ever got the idea that it is oh so very wonderful to dip a piece of bread into a puddle of motor oil and yard sweepings needs to sit over there in the corner with their face pointed into the wall.  Now, just wait, I’ll go get my baseball bat and re-enact a scene from The Godfather.

No.  Just no.  Not ever.  Bring me the butter.  period.  Unsalted if you have it, Salted if you don’t.  If you don’t have butter, take the damn bread away.

I actually said the motor oil comment in a posh restaurant once.

Excuse me, but do you have any butter?
“Sorry, No.”
Then can you take the bread away?
“Sorry, No.”

She sniffed and spun around on her heels and left.

I think she may have had an idea when I insisted on our leaving a pointedly small tip.  I haven’t been back.  I won’t go back.  Rudeness is never an option in business or in clients.

I don’t care if you personally think it’s the best thing on your sliced bread since sliced bread.  I don’t care if it is trendy.  No.  Just, No.

The idea of sticking a piece of bread into a “Fine reduction of balsamic vinegar, herbs and spices, and extra virgin olive oil” leaves me cold and a side order of wanting to lose the last particular meal I was fortunate enough to eat.

Yes, I understand it is a first world problem.  There are people starving, even in the same city I am in.  There are more important things to concern yourself with than someone’s affectations.  But, in a restaurant, I know somewhere there is butter.

Bring it or the waitress’s tip dies.

Is it old school?  Last Millennium?  So very last century?

Who the hell cares, bring it.  It’s called Service.  Not Motor Oil on a plate.  I’d rather eat that push-wheel off the back of the skate than put that glop on a piece of a baguette.

“So why don’t you write about that?  I would love to hear about it!”

No, it would just sound like a rant about how food trends are annoying and distracting from the actual quality of the preparation and the food itself.

“But why not?”.

We will see.  Let the mind roll and see what spills out.  It was exactly what I was saying to the TV.  Write what you know, you will get something better out of that than if you forced yourself to write to someone’s affectations about what you should or shouldn’t do.

That whole controlling thing.  People don’t want to be controlled, especially when they are paying for the privilege of it all.

Just like a little porcelain bowl filled with Fine Herbs, Spices, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a Special Balsamic Reduction.

I’ll take whatever the chef’s got for butter, please.

Thanks.