Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


Old School Disney

Last week, Borepatch posted what he felt was one of the spookiest pieces of classical music...Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns. 

It is hard to argue with that choice...but in my mind the winner for spookiest piece of classical music will always be Night on Bald Mountain, and the blame for that lays entirely at the feet of the Disney Corporation, and specifically whomever decided that this video was appropriate for including in Fantasia.

Man oh Man, that stuck with me for a long, long time.  I can't remember the actual ages involved, but until I watched Poltergeist in my early teenage years, this section of Fantasia was the standard by which other nightmare inducing fiction was judged. 


That's kind of far out, but I'll pencil it in.

I know it seems highly illogical and lacking proper focus to get excited about movies that aren't going to come out for 4.5 years, but Marvel's press conference yesterday where they announced their movie plans through May of 2019 got my juices flowing.

1500 days is a lot of time to look forward to something...but hey, now I have a reason to wake up tomorrow.


The Spice of Life

No, not Melange...variety. 

In the past, I have lamented about my efforts to find an acceptable Pumpkin Beer...too often, I bring home a 6-pack, and after drinking the first beer, the other 5 will sit in the fridge for a long while.

Last night, we found a way around that by inviting some friends over for a Pumpkin Beer/Cider tasting last night.  Just said...hey, everyone pick a 6-pack, or a growler, or a couple of 22oz bottles, and come on over.  I picked up a few different sizes of plastic cups so people could either easily sample/drink as much or as little of each one as they wanted.

Amazingly enough, with no real coordination, NO ONE showed up with the same thing.

This was near the end of the evening...wish I had taken the picture earlier when we had more stuff...but I was distracted tasting.

We had a good turnout, and a wide variety of beverages showed up...I should have written them down, but let's see what I can remember:

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Southern Tier's PUMKING, Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale, Rogue Farms Marionberry Braggot, Elysian's The Great Pumpkin, Elysian's Punkuccino, and Elysian's Dark O' the Moon.

Anthem's Hopped Cider, Wandering Aengus Oaked Dry, Wyder's Pear, D's Wicked Baked Apple, D's Wicked Green Apple, and Woodchuck Reserve Pumpkin Cider.

So, obviously, I'm not going to review them all...now...but a few stand out(for the right, and the wrong reasons).

That Marionberry Braggot...very strange. I actually had to look up what a 'braggot' is.  Turns out is very closely related to mead, and the hops is optional.  Rogue Farms put hops in theirs, which might or might not have effected my enjoyment of it.  It just wasn't...I won't it wasn't good...it just wasn't a flavor that I(or anyone else) was looking for. I'm not sure anyone did more than taste test this one.  If we had come close to running out of beer, this would have been the last one standing.

Another beer where hops made a difference is the Anthem Hopped Cider.  The hops gave the Anthem Cider perhaps the best nose of any of the ciders, but it didn't translate to the palate.  The best tasting of the ciders was the D's Wicked Baked Apple, with the Woodchuck Pumpkin and D's Green Apple tying for 2nd place.

On a whole, based off the unscientific 'least beer remaining' method, the most popular beer of the evening was the Elysian Dark O' the Moon, a pumpkin stout.  I know it was my favorite...just a great dark stout, with pumpkin, spice, and creaminess. 

I'm not sure there was a consensus 2nd Place...some folks liked the Punkaccino, but it's a distinctive flavor, mixing coffee and pumpkin.  It's not for everyone.  The Elysian Great Pumpkin, Rogue Pumpkin Patch and the Southern Tier PUMKING all had their fans.  The only one of the pumpkin beers that I think I wouldn't spend money on was the Blue Moon.  I enjoy Blue Moon's normal beer...I was just impressed by the Harvest Pumpkin. 

All in all, it was a good evening...and a great way to try a lot of different things.  Plus, as the host, I find myself with more beer in the house than I am going to be able to drink today...even with the NFL's London Game giving me a head start at 6:30 this morning.


Thanks Washington.

Got my ballot for the general election in the mail the other day, and I've finally got the time to open it up and give it the attention it deserves.

First off...I'll spare you the local county type offices...other than to rant real quick that there are 14 people running unopposed on the ballot this year.  Now...I'm not sure I want to be a District Court Judge(let's ignore the fact I am not really qualified...that doesn't seem to stop other politicians)...but, Benton County Auditor, or Benton County Treasurer?  In 2004(the last year I could find data for) the County Treasurer made $78K a year...I'm willing to bet the salary has gone up since then. 

Oh well.  There is always next year.

On the National/State wide level, there are only 4 issues really worth talking about: 3 initiatives and then the 4th District Congressional Race, which thanks to Washington's Top 2 Primary rules faces two Republican's squaring off in the General Election.

Yup...in Washington, the Top 2 vote getters in the Primaries run in the General Election...even if those top 2 happen to be from the same party, which is what happened here.  For the last 12 years, this district has belonged to Doc Hastings, Republican, and in truth the Democrat's didn't make much of an effort to take this this district back.  I just think it's lame that we now have Republican bashing Republican in the General Election.  Dan Newhouse vs. Clint Didier, which is very much coming down to Establishment RINO vs. Tea Party Extremist...in the media.  I voted for Didier in the Primary, and I will vote for him again in the general.  As I have said before, he is not perfect, but I feel he has more 'upside' than Newhouse...and in the end, I feel that Didier actually believes what he says, while Newhouse has that 'Tell you what you want to hear' feeling to him.

As for the initiatives, the only one I had to really research is I-1351, which would set new mandated class sizes, as well as new levels of support staffing based on numbers of students at those schools.  It will also require 'High Poverty' schools to have smaller class sizes than normally funded schools.  Basically, looking at the numbers, it will increase the number of teachers by 1/3rd, and support staff by almost 50%(the estimated numbers are 15,000 new teachers, and 17,000 more 'support staff'....at a cost ranging from zero additional tax dollars to 4 Billion additional tax dollars, depending on who you believe.

I'm voting no for it.  It's would be easy to say 'Oh, we home-school...why would I want to spend any extra tax dollars on schools'...but that's not it.  I don't like The Mob Mentality passing laws that try to be this specific...it takes up 6 times as much space in the Voter's Booklet as any other ballot measure.  Also...the State Supreme Court has already found the State Legislature in contempt of the State Constitution for not spending enough money on education!!!!  We think passing this initiative will fix anything?  Finally...this initiative, with it's specific numbers of new hires, feels too much like empire building by special interests. 

The we have the two different firearm law related initiatives, which are almost but not quite mirror images of each other, and they are both very easy for me to make up my mind on.

I-591 would prevent confiscation of firearms without due process, or requiring background checks beyond the federal standards. 

I-594 Would require universal background checks for all sales, public, private and gun show related.  Not only would it require a background check, but for pistol sales it will require a letter signed by your county Sherriff or local Police Chief stating that the purchaser "is eligible to possess a pistol [...] and that the application to purchase is approved by the chief of police or sheriff'

Holy Crap...no way THAT could be abused.  The wording also makes it illegal to loan someone a firearm, except when you are at the gun range with them, or hunting with them.  So...loan the guy at the lane next to you your pistol, and you are covered...give your buddy your new P22 so he can being it the range tomorrow and try it without you?  You have broken the law.  Let a guy borrow a shotgun when you are upland bird hunting?  Covered.  Let him bring the gun home to clean it for you, and you have broken the law.

Several local police agencies have said they will not enforce those sections of the initiative...but why pass a law that will not be enforced!  They are also upset by the letter requirement.  Benton County has already said this will require bringing in at least two more staff members...and this is a general agreement between all sheriff's offices. 

So...yeah...I am voting Yes for I-591 and No on I-594. 

If I can swing ANY election result, it would be preventing I-594 from passing...not only do I not believe in background checks for private sales...it's a poorly worded law that would make folks criminals for the wrong reasons, and already has law enforcement personnel saying they won't enforce portions of it.


Hail Hydra!

Well, you've got to hand it to Marvel...when the trailer for Avengers 2 leaked earlier today, they rolled with the punches.  Rather than trying to close the door after the horse is out of the barn, they blamed it on Hydra, one of the more secret than secret organizations which populate their world.

Yes, I have watched it...and yes, I am looking forward to May of 2015....going to see Avengers 2 might be a good way to spend my 40th birthday. 


Mountain House Review

While hunting alone last week, I brought a variety of items up for food.  Most of my needs were met by a loaf of bread and jars of peanut-butter and jelly...but for dinner, I wanted something more.  I brought a few frozen items, and at my wife's recommendation, I brought a few packets of Mountain House freeze dried entree's...you know, to rotate our stock.

I only had two packages during the week I was hunting...one of Noodles and Chicken, and one of Pasta Primavera.  Quite surprisingly, the Pasta Primavera was the better one.

For all intents and purposes, the 'Noodles and Chicken' might as well have been a cup of noodles soup...but, it was a good one.  I also learned that when they tell you to add the hot water and stir well...you need to Stir Well...the bottom 1/3rd of the pouch was much more flavorful than the top.

The Pasta Primavera actually impressed me.  I was somewhat suspicious of it, because it contained no meat...just zucchini, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans, with a cheese sauce.  The cheese sauce was described as 'parmesan'...I felt it was more like a cheddar flavor...but it was still pretty good...and hearty for something not having meat.

Now...so...taste was good for the Pasta Primavera, and acceptable for the Noodles and Chicken.  Both of them were convenient to prepare...just open the package, pull out the desiccant, and add boiling water.  My only reservation was serving size...and calorie count. 

Each entrée pouch is listed as being two servings...but I'm here to tell you that I was able to finish both of them myself without feeling like a glutton.  I think if you are splitting it between two people, you better have a great side dish to go with it...and that is just from a full belly perspective.  Calorie wise, the two I tried were listed as 220 calories per serving.  If you are a hunter, or a backpacker, you are probably going through more than 2000 calories a day, meaning if you are looking forward to you end of day meal being your biggest meal of the day...even if you eat a full pouch, you are probably not eating as many calories as you are burning. 

Which is fine if you are only going 2-3 days at a pop like I was doing...heck coming home 3-4 pounds lighter than I left was nice.  But...if you are doing a week of back-country hiking, you might start feeling a little weak and hungry after a few days.

All in all, while I was satisfied with the Mountain House stuff...it's not an MRE.  It is lighter than an MRE though, while taking up roughly the same cubic footage.  So...if you are worried about weight, the Mountain House might make sense...if you are worried about not going hungry, than the MRE might be the better choice. 


Increasing restraint.

Yesterday we had some friends come over from Western Washington for a visit.  We were lucky enough that they had some business to do that brought them within spitting distance of our house, so our house was a nice place for them to spend the night...and then, in another stroke of luck their actual business was quick enough that we were able to hand out and do some wine tasting.

Our friends recently got their license approved to open a cidery, and they ran all the way to Eastern Washington to get a 275 gallon tank filled with apple juice from one of the fruit processors here.  I guess on one of their first practice batches, they tried starting with apples, and the whole 'apple pressing' thing was just an royal, inefficient pain in the rear...buying the juice is a much more efficient starting point for them.

On the one hand...I am jealous of our friends.  They have a 5 acre farm outside of Poulsbo, Washington.  They have chickens, and goats, and kunekune pigs...and all that sounds very 'homestead'-ish...but in addition to that they also both have full-time jobs...and that makes me not as jealous...because all those animals, and all that land, and now a cider operation, is at least a 3rd full-time job...and I flash to some of those days I get home from my job, and I don't have the motivation to properly take care of my 6 raised beds and 4 chickens.

So, I am honored that they choose to spend some of their free time with us.

And good free time it was...we spent about 4 hours criss-crossing Prosser, Washington, visiting countless wineries...somewhere between 9-12 of them...which is less than 50% of them.  In fact, after stop #1, we decided that the correct thing to do if we hoped to survive the day was to split tastings instead of doing a full tasting at each winery.

It was a wise decision.

And while I am getting better at not buying something at every winery we stop at, we also didn't come home empty handed.

4 new bottles of wine, and then a bottle of some very, very smooooooth vodka, from Blue Flame Spirits, which was a nice change of pace stop half-way through the day.  The great vodka, a nice gin, and then both a wheat whiskey and a rye whiskey, all of which were tasty.  However...Blue Flame was also the place where I put the most horrifying thing we tried all day into my mouth...Grappa.  Holy Moly...that stuff smelled remarkably like paint thinner...and didn't taste much different than it smelled. 

Luckily, Kestrel Vinters tasting room was right next door to act as a pallet cleanser.