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


Nothing is ever easy.

After we accepted the totally acceptable(if not overly generous) full price offer offer for our house which would require us to cover $5,000 of closing costs, the closing date was set for February 4th...next Friday.

With the clock ticking, I made an appointment to get the septic tank pumped last Friday.  While they said they didn't NEED someone there, it made me feel better to have my wife there...plus as previously stated, it was an excuse for my wife to visit friends. 

Turns out I'm glad I had her there.  In addition to the discovered theft of my lawn-mower and generator, there WERE problems with the septic tank...namely, they couldn't find it.  Luckily, my wife WAS there, and she let them in the house to dump some tracking dye in my toilet, which they then used to locate my septic tank...three feet under the right front corner of my front lawn. 

Not a big deal, as the septic tank company has there own Back-Ho.  Yay!  But it was already booked for the day and wouldn't be able until Monday, meaning my wife had to stay in Western Washington over the weekend.  Boo!  Oh...and the minimum charge for getting the Bob Cat to show up was an additional $175.  Double Boo. 

Shortly after that call from the wife, I got a call from our real estate agent.  Apparently the buyers were not pleased with the service they had been getting from their financing company, and had started the paperwork for financing with a new company.  But...that was NOT going to be completed in time for closing on February 4th.  The buyers were seeking an extension of a month to complete securing the new financing. 

After asking my agent if there were any offers that I wasn't aware of, I didn't see any choice but to give them the extension.  I really want this house sold.  At the advice of my agent, rather than give them 30 days up-front, we gave them two weeks.  If they look like they are making progress, good, we can give them more time if needed.  If not...we cut bait, and start from scratch.  I REALLY don't want to start from scratch. 

Monday rolled around, and it looks like the bad news is done for now.  The Septic Tank company showed up early, found the tank with minimal damage to the yard, and said everything looked perfect inside. 

Well, as perfect as a tank made to hold feces CAN look. 


While the cats away...

The mice will play.  If my wife and kids are the cat, and I am the mouse, my idea of playing must be pretty boring.  So far this weekend I stripped the beds and took the sheets to the laundromat, figuring that the bigger machines would be more efficient than the ones at the apartment complex.  While the laundry was washing, I visited a few stores in the strap mall near the laundromat, including the Ace Hardware, the used book store/comic book store, and an antique store or two.

Visiting the antique stores with my wife is sometimes frustrating.  I don't mind looking at the furniture, but I admit I couldn't tell a Duncan Phyfe from a Duncan Hines.  I might have a little better luck telling a Chippendale table from a Chippendales dancer, but only because I happen to think the Patrick Swayze/Chris Farely sketch is the funniest 6 minutes in the history of the world.

I just happen to have a respect for some of the older furniture made from actual WOOD, and not MDF or particle board.  If it's a got a few nicks or scratches, that is just proof of love. 

After looking at furniture in antique stores, my wife and I usually drift apart.  She is much more interested in the knick-knack type things than I am.  I will look for pyrex to add to my wife collection, and sometimes, oil lamps.  I guess you could say I am turning into an oil lamp collector...we have 9 or 10 of them, including two strictly functional plain glass ones from the hard ware store.  I like the oil lamps because they come in many different designs, styles and colors, and if push comes to shove, (other than my two nicest)they do have a functional use.

It was my first time visiting this particular antique store, and I was quite impressed by the oil lamps selection they had in stock...probably 25-30 really decent lamps, with 5 or 6 calling my name.  I did not listen to their calling though.  While we are in the apartment, there is no room for the oil lamps to be displayed, and so it doesn't make sense to buy lamps right now just to put them in storage and break them.

Today, I went out to run a few other errands...not because I really needed anything, but I needed some excuse to make me take a shower and leave the apartment for a while.  Went to Petco to look at rodents, because the wife and I are still stalling the kids on actually getting one.  I think we have all but decided on getting them a couple of dwarf hamsters.  Regular hamsters don't coexist well together, guinea pigs get too big to have a cage from them in the apartment, and gerbils reminded my wife too much of mice.

Following Petco, I swung over to Ranch and Home.  It wasn't my first time, but the previous trips, in the midst of the Christmas Shopping season, the hustle and bustle was not conducive to proper gun browsing.   Looking at their gun counter, I did stop to a little bit of fondling, and added two more possible guns to the 'Sidearm for my wife' list. 

First, they had a pretty Kimber Stainless II in 9mm that I HAD to look at.  I had thought a 1911 in 9mm might be an ideal full-size gun for my wife, but having not ever seen many of them in stock, I had mentally crossed it off my list.  Well, put it back on the list.  I liked the feel of this gun, and might even add one to MY list.  Yes, the weight is a bit heavy, but if anything, I think it would reduce felt recoil to much less than she gets of of the .380's she likes.

Second, I got to place my hands on a gun I had never handled before, a Browning Hi Power.  There is no doubt that side by side, the Kimber was the much more attractive gun.  The Browning felt better in my hand, but was awfully stiff...I had to pull back on the slide while pushing down on the slide release to get it to let go.  I'm sure that would loosen up a bit over time, but it might put the wife off the gun initially.  It's not surprising I like the feel of the Browning...I love my CZ-75, and the Browning and the CZ are noted for a fair amount of similarity. 

The Browning also felt lighter, although it's ability to hold more rounds might make it heavier when ready for use.  The grip actually felt smaller than the Kimber.  Ranch and Home was asking the same price for both guns; right on 899.99.  This made them considerably more expensive than the other three options already on my list.  Ace is asking $550 for the Taurus 1911 in .45, $410 for the Ruger SR9, and only $340 for the Walther PK380.  Then again, they 'felt' like nicer guns.

My other big thing for the weekend was indulging in some old-school geekery...I have watched 21 episodes of Robotech streaming through the Wii on netflix. The animation is just as good as I remembered it being, although I did notice that they tended to recycle stuff a lot more than I noticed as a teenager.

There is a chance my wife might be coming home Monday night(yay!) as opposed to Tuesday, so I guess I should probably get cleaning at some point(boo!)


Am I really considering getting another .380?

In the spring(and tax return time) a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love(and guns for his love.

The original thought is by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  The somewhat questionable improvements by yours truly. I know spring has not yet sprung, but in my opinion, oftentimes the research behind a major purchase(especially a potential new firearm purchase) is the best part of the process.  

Several of the guns in our collection legally belong to my wife.  Truth be told, in terms of 'paper ownership' she probably owns 50% more guns than I do.  Emotionally speaking, there are three or 4 guns which are most definitely hers, though I do get to shoot them sometimes.  The guns that would be considered 'hers' are our Ruger MkII, a Firestorm(Bersa) .380, and the Walther P22 I bought her for Christmas a few years ago.  

The Ruger was the first gun I bought after we got married to teach her to shoot.  The Firestorm was bought a year later to be her carry gun, after I convinced her it was a much more economical choice than a Sig P232.  She decided she wanted the Walther a few years ago, after seeing one and deciding it was a much more 'typical' pistol to work with than the Mk II.  

Because I am a crappy, crappy husband, and I don't get the chance to take her shooting as often as I would like to, she by nature gravitates towards the most must/easiest to shoot of the guns, meaning she much prefers the Walther P22 to the Firestorm .380.  I'm not sure I blame her...the .380 is a little snappy, although compared to my back-pocket gun, a Kel-Tec P-3AT, the Firestorm is a dream.  Mostly, I have stuck to my opinion that any gun is better than no gun, and whether it is 8 rounds of .380 or 11 rounds of .22, she is not going to be John McClane.  I figure 3 or 4 rounds of .22 to the face or neck is just as likely to distract an attacker as the .380 would be.  

What we don't yet have for my wife is something that I would call a 'Side Arm' type gun...something that if the situation called for could be carried in a holster on her hip.  Said weapon would ideally be at least 9mm, and hold 10+ rounds of ammo.  

I know she can handle the recoil of a 9mm.  When she has used my CZ-75b at the range, it is not the recoil that bothers her...it is the hand gyrations she needs to go through to reach all the controls.  My wife does not measure over 5-feet tall, and she has dainty little hands.  

Every time I swing into Ace hardware, I look at the guns they have in stock.  Really, until I swing in and have my wife fondle a couple of guns, it's all theory at this point, but they have a few things that caught my eye.  

First, they have one of the new Ruger SR9's in stock.  Compared to the older P-series Ruger's this gun looks nice and thin.  They even have a compact SR9 in the display cabinet with a Crimson Trace laser mounted to it already.  With a gadget like that thrown in, my wife is already halfway to loving it.  

They also have a Taurus and a couple of Springfield 1911's in the store.  In the past my wife has held 1911's, but she was intimidated by the '.45' on the barrel, and the weight of the gun.  My only thought going the 1911 route would be to buy the gun for me, and then take her shooting enough where she realized that there was nothing to be scared of with this gun.  Yes, I might lose a gun that way, but keeping the wife happy(and protected) would be worth it.

The final thing that I had seen in the store last week, and looked at again today, was the Walther PK380.  I know, it's not a 9mm(well, the bullet is, but...never mind) BUT it's shaped exactly like the P22 that she likes a lot, and that would count a lot towards her being comfortable with the gun.  What I really want to do is find someplace with one of the Walther P99's in 9mm in stock, let her try that out in her hand.  

The best part is that if we chose wrong this time, I get to try again by buying another gun at some point!

Trusting Karma

When we moved out of the house in Belfair, we left a few things in the carport(which is located behind the house, at the end of a 80 foot driveway.  The plan was we would have to go back for closing, and depending on the length of the time to sell, a few other times also, so there would be time to get the things left behind, without crowding my storage unit with large, dirty, smelly outside type items.  Also left outside in our back yard was a plastic play-scape...ladder, small rock wall, and a slide...the footprint of this item is about 8' X 12'.

So, yesterday we had an appointment made to get out septic tank pumped, required prior to closing on sale of the house.  They said that they could do it without anyone there, but by scheduling it for Friday, it gave my wife an excuse to drive make to Belfair and visit with friends, and spend a day or two of the weekend visiting my mom with the girls.  The only real loser here was me, who would come home to NO hugs and kisses after work Thursday and Friday. 

About 11:30 on Friday, I get a call from my wife, and she tells me that she had noticed something was different, and after thinking about it for a minute, she had realized that the play-scape was missing from the yard.  We discussed things for a minute, and I asked if she had had a chance to go down to the carport and look at things.  She did so while talking to me, and said it looked like several things were missing, including my lawn-mower, a couple of tools(shovels and pitchforks) and that my generator was no where to be seen.

When she had told me about the play-scape, my reaction had almost been to tell her I was at work and didn't have time to worry about a missing play-scape.  The fact was, she had advertised it as being free to friends on facebook, and on several other online forums she visited.  There had been no one who really expressed interest, but that didn't mean one of them might have had a change of heart.  Telling me about the lawn-mower and generator caught my attention.

The lawn-mower was fairly new.  Due to the relatively small size of the grassed area of my yard, I had bought a Kenmore Electric Mower...plug in and everything, because I care about the environment(and it was on sale, making it cheaper than any of the gas models).  I had planned on taking it with me eventually, but was one of the things I didn't want to have to put in storage for 6 months if I could help it.  The generator was a 3500W Chinese knock-off, the kind you see on sale at auto-parts stores for about $300.  Loud as hell, but it had proven itself will to run through everything, and when used at hunting camp was big enough to power several trailers without needing to coordinate using the microwave and the coffee pot.

Now enters the time for self-recrimination.  I took no special action to protect my investments.  No etching of names on them, I didn't chain them to the foundation...I figured that having them located in my carport, up and 80 foot driveway, was protection enough.  I would never go up the driveway of a house for sale and help myself to stuff left in the carport. 

A few minutes later, my wife called back.  She had located the play-scape in the backyard of the house across the street.  Upon closer inspection, she thought she saw our lawn-mower too. 

I am not the type to try to make judgments based on stereotypes, but it didn't surprise me from the neighbors.  They are renters, and depending on how many friends they have crashing at the time, there are usually between 5 and 8 of them living in a 900SF house.  But...the main lady is a single mom, and it seemed like she was TRYING.  She worked, and had a daughter about the age of my oldest.  This lady came over about every two weeks to either borrow a roll of toilet paper from us, or to use our phone because hers was dead.  We never once told her no, and she repays us by taking the (offered as free) play-scape, and my (most certainly not free) lawn-mower.  My wife said she couldn't see the generator, but I'm sure that's the kind of thing you lock up inside a garage, shed or carport.

As she was looking around, the neighbor lady came out and told my wife she had heard from another neighbor that the the play-scape was free.  Fine.  Don't care.  She also said a few days ago, our lawn-mower had 'ended up on the curb in front of the house' and she thought we were getting rid of it. 

My wife is from Connecticut, and when she gets upset, she has a very convincing aura of 'New England Bitch' about her.  Rather than raging mad, she gets icy cold and uber-polite.  She explained to the woman that she was welcome to keep the play-scape, but out shovels, rakes and lawn-mowers were to be back across the street in less than 24-hours.  She did not mention the generator, because I had to check on something else first.

I had offered the generator for sale to a friend of mine, rather than moving it across the state just to store it for a few months.  He had not told me he had picked it up yet, but, since that potential was out there, I didn't want my wife casting accusations about.  When I got a chance to talk to my friend later in the day, he said he had swung by the house 3 days after the movers packed us up, and the generator was already gone.  He didn't mention it too me, because he figured I had just changed my mind and packed it up. 

3 Days.  I know the world is rough, and the economy is bad, and people are stealing brass plaques off of grave stones....but really, 3 days!?!?!?!?!  How long where they casing out what I had in my carport!?!?!?  I'm just surprised they didn't back up a truck and take the chest freezer that is still plugged in and running in the carport. 

Meanwhile...lacking a receipt anymore from the generator, and reading everyday about overworked, understaffed police agencies, I am not sure I have much of a chance of legal justice.  Talking things over with my wife last night, I think we are just going to let karma do work he sweet justice.

If that doesn't work, we can always dust off and nuke the site from orbit...it's the only way to be sure. 


There are some smells...

Perfume manufactures always want us to believe there is no smell that will lodge into your head quite like their perfume does. 

I like my wife in perfume, but even through she usually wears the same perfume(sunflowers), and I like it, and it suits her, I don't think of that as HER scent.  Her scent is the shampoo she uses...some kind of cherry almond, tea tree oil thing...

Likewise, most gun loving folks will forever be able to identify the smell of Hoppes 9, with FAR greater accuracy than any shark can smell blood in the water.

I bring this up, because last night I cooked some bacon, and due to the small size and poor air turnover in my apartment, it still smells a lot like bacon, which is an OKAY way to wake up. 

Wonder if I can find a way to blend the scent of Hoppes 9 and Bacon for my wife to dab behind her ears...it would be MUCH more memorable than Sunflowers. 


Pizza Pizza

First things first, let me get it off my chest that I am a bit of a sissy boy.  I do not like mushrooms, and I am not a fan of onions.   I will got out of my way to avoid anything easily recognizable as either a mushroom or an onion. 

Prior to meeting my wife, this was also my opinion of olives and peppers...now at least, I can see an occasional use for olives...and I actually like peppers.  My parents would be so proud of their big boy. 

For a long time, this meant the only acceptable pizza for me was an all-meat pizza, with the only variety being in the occasionally rotating in a Canadian Bacon and pineapple pizza.  The last few years, I have actually come to enjoy the salty flavor of olives along with my meat...kind of tasty. 

Tonight after work(since my wife and daughters were road tripping), I met my boss and some of my co-workers for some pizza and beer.  They all know my complete and utter disdain for mushrooms and onions, so after a fair bit of good natured ribbing, I was eventually able to ensure that we ordered one pepperoni and pineapple pizza, and that the one of the other two pizzas was a Gyro pizza, hold the onion.

Folks, I gotta tell you...that Gyro Pizza, from Brick House Pizza in Richland, Washington, despite being pretty far from my 'typical pizza choice', we one of the tastiest pizzas I have had in a long, long time.  Gyro meat, feta cheese, Tzatski sauce with tomatoes and lettuce. 

Num, Num.  It was really good, and I can't wait to have my wife try some soon,

Book of Eli

Over the weekend my wife and I finally decided to open the netflix envelope that had been sitting around for a couple of weeks or so...and low and behold, we were in possession of Book of Eli, staring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis.

From previously having viewed the trailers and commercials for this movie, I understood that the basic premise was Gary Oldman's character wanted a book that Denzel's character was on possession of, and that Denzel's character kicked butt to keep him from getting it.  Really...that was more than I needed to know.  If Denzel and Gary Oldman were in the same movie even WITHOUT but kicking, I probably would think I would enjoy it.  They are two very good actors, and I can't think of a role either one of them had done where I didn't get into it. 

So, given that, my wife and I really enjoyed the movie.  My wife went as far as to call the movie 'powerful'.  The kicking butt lived up to my expectations.  Then the story was good enough to keep you plugged in, even though MOST of the shooting was done in the first half-hour.  There were two action scenes in the last half of the movie, but upon reflection, the end of the movie was much more character driven than it was action driven.

Denzel Washington plays Eli...a man struggling to survive after TEOTWAWKI who has had voices tell him to retrieve a book, and then bring that book west.  Along the way he encounters numerous ruffians and brigands, who's asses he kicks in a most convincing manner.  But..he is a man on a mission, not just a man out to kick ass.  At one point, he allows a lady to be raped rather than risk himself and his book. 

Eventually, he ends up meeting Gary Oldman.  Gary is trying to rebuild a town on the edge, and is looking for a book that will give him the power to inspire people.  My biggest initial complaint with the movie is that it doesn't take a lot of reach to figure out Gary is looking for A Bible. But that is okay, because in a way, the Bible becomes a Red Herring for the actual 'Surprise Ending'. 

Denzel turns down Gary's offer to be his right hand man, but not before causing Mila Kunis to want to follow his character.  Action, action, and then Denzel is heading west again, with Mila Kunis's character for companionship.  A little more kicking butt occurs, Gary's cronies catch up to Denzel...there is another big fight scene...and then, things change on you. 


Happy Birthday!

70 years ago today, the world welcomed the baby who would one day become one of the best singer/songwriters of all time: Neil Diamond. 

I'm a pretty huge Neil Diamond fan.  Like anyone of my generation that IS a Neil Diamond fan, the blame can pretty much be traced to the feet of my parents, who were even bigger Neil Diamond fans...especially my dad.  Around my house growing up there was a lot of Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, The Eagles and The Beatles.  Sometimes, growing kids react to what is forced on them by rebelling against it...that is what happened when my dad tried to get me to like golfing.  For some reason though, the music taste stuck. 

In the movie 'What about Bob?', at one point, two of the characters are having a conversation where they determine 'there are two types of people in the world...those who like Neil Diamond,and those who don't'

A very true statement.  Those who don't like Mr. Diamond will always think he is just a glorified lounge singer.  Those of us who do like him would want to clarify that he is not a 'glorified lounge singer'...he is The King of Lounge Singers.  Those custom made $5,000 sequined suits....the big over the top instrumental sections in the middle of some his songs....the sing along qualities of songs you will never get tired of hearing...

I'm not going to go through his whole catalog...needless to say, he has a song for whatever mood you might be in.  'I am, I said.' and 'Love on the Rocks.' would probably make my All Time Top 10 list if I tried to make one. 

Two years ago, I bound and gagged my wife and brought her to see Neil Diamond in concert at the Key Arena.  It's the first time, and probably the only time I will see him in concert.  I simply recognized that yes, he is getting older, and that the clock on getting to see him live was ticking.  He did not disappoint.  At the time he was 68, and he put on one heck of a 2-hour long show.  I know for a while(and one show in Ohio in particular) he was dealing with some vocal issues...but he made good on those substandard performances with refunds.  The night we saw him, it was very much like listening to a CD...he was really good...and the crowd was interesting...a wider cross-section of humanity than I have seen at any other concert I have attended.

If you haven't seen him yet, and he comes to a town near you, I highly recommend giving him a chance.  If you can't get excited to sing along with 'Sweet Caroline' live...you are a cold fish indeed. 


It's a trap!

With the participants of Super Bowl XLV set, let the build-up and hype stories begin.  One in particular has already caught my eye:

NFL Selling Outside Party Plaza Tickets

Paying $200 to sit OUTSIDE the Stadium and watch The Super Bowl on a Big Screen?  Oh, plus you get a special memorial Super Bowl Scarf.  I wonder if the Porta-Potti's outside are going to be Special Super Bowl Edition Porta-Pottis?

Plus, they are selling the tickets in blocks of 4....you could buy one hell of a new TV for $800...or rather, buy a decent TV for $700, and then have $100 left over for plenty of beer and food for 4 people. 

It has to be a trap...lets see who is DUMB enough to spend $200 to stand outside and watch a football game.  Then when we have them all in one place, we can feed them into the Soylent Green grinder, and empty out their accounts to pay down the national debt.


Less impressive than I had hoped.

For most of the week, I had been looking forward to spending this Friday off going to the Tri-Cities Sportsmen's Show.  Originally, it was going to be with one of my buddies from work, but he ended up having to go into work today, so instead of using the opportunity to get away from my family, I used the opportunity to hang out with my family, taking them to the Sportsmen's show.

I think I allowed all the lucky people posting pictures on THEIR blogs from the SHOT Show to color my expectations a little bit.  I was hoping there would be lots of booths full of different guns and gadgets to fondle, and there would be camping and general outdoorsy stuff to look at also. From the advertising stuff, I knew there was going to be a few things that might keep the kids interested: They had  little fishing pond, a 3-D Archery Range, and live Grizzly Bear on site.

It is rare that reality actually lives up to our expectations, and this was not one of those rare times.

Roughly 50% of the booths at the show were occupied by hunting/fishing guides, outfitters, and ranches.  Somewhat surprising to me, I would say over half of those we working out of British Columbia.  Previously I had discussed with my wife that if it looks like our finances with allow, I would be highly interested in some sort of outfitted hunt as a gift for a major gift at some point down the line..either 40th or 45th Birthday, or maybe even our 20th Wedding Anniversary(which will be the year I am turning 46).  My dream would be going to either Idaho, Wyoming or Montana...for some reason, B.C. had never shown up in my day-dreaming...I think I have always just been intimidated by the effort it takes to get guns into Canada. 

Most of the other booths were a somewhat forgettable blend of sauce/jerky/sausage sellers, taxidermy and leather makers, outdoor decor, knifes and knife sharpers, log cabins, hot tubs, and other attempts to part a fool and his money.  A few things do stick out in my mind: The Army Corp of Engineers had a nice display set.  For the most part, the Columbia and Snake Rivers are chopped up by dams into lakes...the Army Corp of Engineers controls these dams, and so they had a nice display set up promoting the fishing and outdoors opportunities these lakes and their watersheds provide.  They also had a couple of table set up with the pelts, skulls, and plaster casts of tracks from the animals one might encounter in these areas.  These tables were NOT a hotbed of action, so I think me and the girls spent a good 15 minutes looking at these tables, using it as an educational opportunity.  They also learned where leather and buckskin comes from...I think it might have been the first time the older one really kind of understood that concept.   She handled it pretty good.

The fishing pond, was a major disappointment.  I'm not sure what I had in mind...this just wasn't it.  We skipped it actually...for $2 dollars you got to through a hook in a tank with a bunch of 8-inch long hungry hatchery trout....I'm sure the girls might have dug it....but then you had to carry your trout around in a plastic shopping bag...there was no catch and release. 

What the girls did dig was the chance to use a bow an arrow.  Next to the rather nice looking adults only 3-D Archery Range they had a little area set up for kids to try out archery...a wall full of balloons where two Responsible Adults helped the kids break the balloons.  Each kid got to try three shots, and each of my girls got to break at least one balloon, so they had a good time.  The grizzly bear feeding station was something else we looked at but didn't participate in.  They had a juvenile grizzly in a cage, and for $5 you could feed him a piece of bread through the cage.  My guess is he was about 200 pounds....really good size for a Washington Black Bear...but trying to picture he was going to get 4-5 times bigger...wow.  Mommy was NOT letting the girls get close to that, and daddy would have felt like a goober paying money to hold a piece of bread through a cage...

I guess what really matters, is I got to spend about 2 hours walking around with my family.  The girls came out of there with a stash of new stickers and a couple of free coloring books, so they enjoyed themselves.  My wife found the booth for the Tri-City Quilters Club, and bought a couple of raffle tickets for their quilt they are giving away, so she was happy.  The only thing I was unhappy about was there was no opportunity to really fondle any toys...no flashlights, precious few knives, and not a gun-show loop hole to be found. 

My wife, sensing my sadness, said we can go to either Ace Hardware or Ranch and Home today if I want, and I can show her a few guns that might make the list of acceptable gifts for our upcoming 10th Anniversary.
After making her some coffee and french toast, I intend to call her bluff. 


What a great anology

Commander Zero posted a link on his website to a somewhat alarming story indicating that 'policy makers' are starting to work on possible plans that would allow states in dire financial circumstances to file for bankruptcy, something they are not currently able to do.  The big thing with filling for bankruptcy is that it would allow these states to get out from under the crushing debts they have created, including the pension funds they have no way to fund.

Any person should be able to see that spending is out of control at all levels of government...with his brilliant bucket analogy, any idiot should be able to understand what is needed.

Imagine, if you will, a gallon bucket. Fill it with a gallon of water and lets call that water “general funds” or something similar. Now, get an ice pick and punch a hole in one side of the bucket near the bottom. Call that hole “pensions”. Punch a few more holes and give each one a name..”bonds”, “social services”, “schools”, and that sort of thing. Now, as the water goes out of those holes the level in the bucket is dropping, right? Okay, you have two choices – plug some of the holes or add more water. Lately it seems like no one plugs the holes, they just add more water. Head to the faucet (lets call it “taxes”) and get more water. As long as you can keep putting water in the bucket faster than its leaking out of those holes youre okay. But, as we are seeing, theres a bit of a drought going on..when you turn on the tap not as much water is coming out and its getting harder keep putting water into that bucket fast enough. So, you plug a few holes or pinch them off a bit. But unless you either find more water to put in that bucket, or you plug up some of those holes, or you do a combination of both….you've got a problem.

Of course, for this analogy to work, every needs to agree that their faucets have run dry. 


There but for the grace of God go I...

Travis Corcoran is young man from Arlington, Massachusetts.  He is the owner of an online comic retailer based in Arlington, and he is also a blogger who posts under the moniker TJIC.  Similar to myself, Travis usually identifies himself as an anarcho-capitalist, albeit a little bit further out on the edge than I am.

Recently, in the highly charged days following the shooting of Representative Giffords in Arizona, Travis placed a post on his blog where he expressed a profound lack of regret over what happened to Mrs. Giffords. His main concern following the shooting was that anyone else who wanted to take a shot at a politician do so in a more controlled manner, and not kill bystanders, especially not 9 year old girls.  Mr. Corcoran then showed what could be construed as 'poor' judgment and titled his post '1 down, 534 to go'.  For those of you who don't know...there are 535 members of Congress.

I'm not sure how many visitors a day Trevor got to his blog, but I am sure it was a higher number than the 25 a day I get to my blog.  I do this just as much for myself as I do it for any hopes of ever getting as popular as Tamara or Commander Zero.  By linking his blog through his comic book store, Trevor expanded the audience of his blog, but linked his professional life to his personal opinions.  As a result of expressing his 'strong' opinions, Trevor was targeted by several comic book writers who didn't want him to sell their stuff, and buyers who didn't want to buy from him...in effect, a boycott. 

I am fine with that.  If you want to express an opinion about something controversial, and link them to your professional persona, you risk making yourself a target for something like this.  Shift public opinion, and people will vote with their wallets...it is no different than when us pro-2nd Amendment folks get all upset at stores for not carrying ammo anymore, or Smith & Wesson for 'The Betrayal'.  It's how a Capitalist Society is supposed to work.    

What I am not fine with is what happened next.  The Arlington Police Department, after receiving reports of what Trevor posted on his blog, knocked on his door, and seized a 'large amount' of weapons and ammunition, and have suspended his Massachusetts Firearms License, pending an investigation into his 'suitability' as a firearms owner.  The length of the suspension and whether he will get his guns and license back at all will depend on the determined credibility of the threat represented. 

Following every unfortunate mass occurrence of stupidity, through the 20/20 vision of hind sight, there are pointers and signs that were not properly acted on, that if they had been, might have prevented a tragedy.  I understand that law enforcement feels the need to take action to prove that they are protecting people, and in Massachusetts, that action might be more anti-gun related than in other locations. 

Being a realist, I can not blame the police for taking SOME action.  If they had wanted to open a case on him, shadow him, run a stake out on him...that's fine.  Do some police work, determine if the person in question is a threat, and arrest HIM!  Don't just take away his guns and deny him his right for self-defense to punish him.  If he is that big a threat that you needed to take away his guns, why is he still walking the streets?!?!  There are many ways to represent a threat to society(and politicians) that are not firearms related. 

Earlier in the week, I had written up a post with my opinion about the Arizona shooting, mostly trying to reconcile the horrible things that happened in Arizona(including the death of a 9-year old girl, which hits this parent of an 8-year old girl hard) with my guilt-free enjoyment of reading certain books in which bad things happen to bad politicians.  After getting most of the way through a quite long post, I hit the delete button.  My wife expressed reservations that I might come off 'wrong' with my post, and while I felt I was inside the box...I didn't want to push it.  There was no reason too...NO ONE thinks that what that crockpot did in Arizona was right.  The books I enjoyed reading were full of bad things happening to bad politicians, who are attacked for doing bad things.  Representative Giffords was attacked for NO REASON.  She was not a bad politician.  She might have had different ideological beliefs than me, but that does not make her bad(wrong, but not bad). 

Anyway...I would like to think that nothing I would have said would have resulted in the Tri-Cities Herald having an article in the paper about the Richland Police seizing a 'VERY large amount' of weapons and ammo from an apartment in North Richland.  I suppose in the end, as a husband and a father, I owe it to my family to err on the side of caution when things have the potential to become heated, and wrongly/aggressively interpreted by law enforcement agencies.


Romance novels are not so bad...

Being on a bit of a 'supernatural' story bend lately following my completion of the first two Monster Hunter International books, I was forced to accept a sobering reality.  While there are loads of serious horror books out there written by names like King, Koontz and Saul, the only source of lighter supernatural fare always seemed to be located a few shelves away, in the romantic fiction section.  There also tons of it located on my wife's section of the book shelves at home.

I am not totally unfamiliar with the romantic fiction in the house...one can not live in a house full of these books and not occasionally pick one up to see exactly what your wife is reading about.  Usually it's quite shocking. 

From a Man's Man point of view, such books can be divided into two basic categories: 'Juicy' and 'Sweet'.  Without going too deep into these categories,'Juicy' books usually have bare-chested men and women with split/slit dresses and long flowing hair on the covers, while inside there are rakes, rougues and harlots with lots of throbbing and heaving of body parts.  The 'Sweet' books seem to have cute animated drawings on the covers, while inside there are scoundrels, play boys, and coquettish strumpets with varying amounts of throbbing and heaving of body parts with some deep sighs mixed in.

I have no real use for the 'Juicy' books, most of them being very formalistic products set in glamorized historical settings full of Lairds and Ladies who seem to be in a permanent state of rut.  

Some of the 'Sweet' ones aren't bad...in the past I have read one or two of her Katie McAlistair books, as sort a palate cleansing experience in between such manly books as Unintended Consequences and Hunt for Red October.  It's nothing I would seek out on my own, but Katie's writing is usually witty and well-paced.  Yes...there is some nooky in them, but nothing like you could expect to encounter in some of the dirtier Stephen King novels.   

All of which serves as justification for reading a complete one of my wife's series. 

The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger, is an interesting series so far, currently a trilogy, with another two books in the works and scheduled for release in the future.  Historically set in an alternate1870's London, the story has a 'steam punk' feel to it with dirigibles plying their way through the aether.  Werewolves and vampires have come out of the dark, and become respected members of high society.  Along with the vampire hives and werewolf packs, there is a third group, the 'preternaturals'...human beings born with no souls, and the ability to neutralize the powers of werewolves and vampires with just a touch.

The main character is a spinsterish(Almost a quarter of a century old!) half-Italian by the name of Alexia Tarabotti, and yes, she is a Preternatural well past marrying age, with no real prospects due to her dusky half-Italian skin hue and too-large nose.  Since this book is located in the romance section, I am sure you can guess that she must have SOME finer points, and her personality and curvaceous build eventually land her a man.  Her rare soul-less condition makes her a scientific curiosity, and is what leads to the plot line of the first book, Soulless. 

Book Two of the series is called Changeless, and deals with a now married Alexia helping her husband solve some problems, one of them being an apparent area weapon with the ability to neutralize supernatural powers. 

Book Three is called Blameless, and follows Alexia's further adventures as she in on the run from upset vampire hives.  Her travels take her across Europe to Italy, where she runs afoul of some Templars. 

I can highly recommend this series. The writing is witty and full of spirit and sarcasm.  The author makes the vampires and werewolves her own, sticking with much traditional information, but adding in enough to keep things interesting.  Yes, there is some romance in them...a bit of snuggling, nuzzling of necks, and squeezing or rears and bosoms...but it's not overt.  Enough for the women, but not too much a Man's Man like me.

The only negative thing, and she gets better as she goes along, is the authors tendency to hammer home Alexia's half-Italian heritage and too large nose...it usually works as the character comes to terms with her low self-confidence,  but once or twice it comes across as too much. 

If you are interested in reading this series, sticking to the order is pretty important...the stories build on each other. 


All rodents are NOT created equal

One of the fascinating things about children is how tough and adaptive they are.  Just over a week has passed since I brought in our long-time cat to be put to sleep.  Over the course of that week, our kids have quickly moved through all 7 stages of grief, and are now wondering when we can get a new pet.

Truthfully, I am not giving my older daughter the credit she deserves.  We told the girls that the cat was sick beyond help about 3 hours before I intended to bring her to the vet...to give them a chance to say goodbye.  After about 10 minutes of abject sadness, our older daughter perked right up and asked if this meant we could get new kittens.  My wife and I were ready, having had this conversation in the past ourselves, because the righting had been on the wall about the cat for a while. 

Our answer at the time was that it didn't make sense to get new kittens while we were still in the apartment, but that we would certainly look at getting kittens when we moved into a new house. As a stop-gap, one of us(it really doesn't matter who at this juncture), came up with the idea to stall the girls with the possibility of hamsters, gerbils, or guinea pigs. 

Now we fast forward a week...and the girls are asking when they get to have their new pets.  I, of course, have done zero research so far, and would have a hard time picking a gerbil out of a line-up of hamsters.  I know guinea pigs are the biggest, then hamsters, with gerbils being the smallest.  Oh...and gerbils have long tails. 

I think sometime this weekend we will end up at the pet store to do a little looking...that will let me stall the girls another week. 

At least get the terminology right...

In a story that has been making the rounds on the internet lately, New York Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy has been talking about introducing a bill for a new Assault Weapons Ban limit on full capacity magazines. 


As upset as I am about the bill itself being introduced, I really get peeved when EVERY article about the possibility of this bill being introduced interchangeably uses the words 'magazine' and 'clip'. I'm not a gunsmith, but I am a slight bit of a grammar nazi cop...especially in those situations when I KNOW that there is a more correct way of saying something. 

The biggest example of this around the house right now is in my interactions with my daughters, whom desire to fight me on two specific items.

1. Use of the phrase 'have got', even though Grammar Girl on http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/have-got-grammar.aspx states that it is grammatically correct. 

2. My older daughter not correctly using 'I' instead of 'me'.

I mean, obviously, these are both minor issues, especially in light of the fact that we are talking about a 5 year old and an 8 year old who can both tell me the difference between carnivores and herbivores, and assure me that they are neither, but rather they are omnivores.

Dinosaurs are amazing teaching tools. 


It's only a game...

Earlier this evening, the New England Patriots pooped their pants, then laid down and died against the New York Jets, getting knocked out of the NFL playoffs in a depressingly pathetic home loss. 

Once upon a time, before becoming the emotionally mature male I am now, I took football a lot more seriously.  I was the type of guy who cursed and threw stuff at the TV, and blamed it on the people around me when something unlucky happened 2000 miles away.  Rumor has it than while watching Super Bowl 42 shortly after the 'Helmet Catch' by David Tyree, my wife walked into the room and asked how things were going.  As I watched the Patriots undefeated season going down the drain, it's entirely possible that I cursed at her and said something like 'They were winning until you walked in.'

My wife, to her credit, handled it much better than if our roles had been reversed.  If she cursed at me because I interrupted a lie broadcast of the the World Crocheting Championships, I would have unplugged the TV and thrown it out the window.  She simply walked away, and after the game was over, calmly let me know, in no uncertain terms, that speaking to her in that way would never be allowed again. 

Fast forward a few years, and I am doing better.  Oh...it still sucked ass seeing the Patriots get knocked out of the playoffs, and it was made even worse be the Jets being the team that did it.  At the start of the 4th Quarter, as things were looking bad, my younger daughter came out to see what daddy was doing.  Once upon a time, daddy probably would have thrown her against the wall for her poor choice of timing.  Today,  I simply swung her up on my lap, enjoying the smell of her hair while my favorite teams season went down the drain.

Being grown up has it's own rewards I guess...although I do miss the excuse to occasionally break things. 

Getting my bake on.

Ever since my success with scones last week, I have been itching to get back into the kitchen and do some baking.  Not very manly, I know, but it is what passes for a stress reducing activity for me...and the fact that when I DO turn out a nice product I get love, thanks and praise heaped on me is a pleasant by product.  I learned in my leadership class this last week that one of my personality traits is the desire and yearning to have affection given to me.  Creating tasty things in the kitchen gives people and excuse to give me that affection.

I do enjoy cooking also,and the hours I work for my new job don't always give me the time to do that during the week. At the Shipyard, I was getting home at 4:20ish...plenty of time to get dinner ready in a timely manner.  New job I can't expect to be home much before 5:15 normally.  If we wait until then to start dinner, we won't be eating until 7, which doesn't leave a lot of 'kick back' time after dinner.  So, on the weekends, I try to do most of the cooking. 

We were invited to dinner at my bosses house Saturday, and I was placed in charge of desert.  I suppose I could have hit the store and picked something up, but while I was at the store, I saw packages of lady fingers for sale.  Lady Fingers to me mean one thing: Tiramisu.  It being a few years since I made tiramisu at home, I had to once again go trolling online for my favorite recipe...luckily it's pretty easy to find, and in this case I recommend a neat website called Cooking for Engineers.com  I haven't looked at every possible recipe they have but the ones I have looked at are easy to understand and presented in easy to follow ways. 

Since tiramisu is a strong flavor, and I wasn't sure everyone would want it, I decided to make something more crowd friendly: Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Never made chocolate chip cookies at home before...so, once again, I threw myself on the alter of Alton Brown.  He has three different recipes for cookies...one for crispy, one for cakey, and one for chewy.  If I wanted crisp, I would buy Chips Ahoy...cakey, I would get chocolate chip muffins.  But ooowey, gooey, chewy cookies?  Those can only be made at home.  Mine came out pretty okay...in fact, my wife(who is legally required to lie to me to build up my ego) said they were the best she had had.  I can say this: putting them on a plate to bring them to my friends house was really, really tough. 

Dinner and games at my bosses house was a good time.  He went all out and made both elk AND deer back strap on the grill, with baked potatoes and salad.  As for desert, the cookies were more popular than the tiramisu.  I learned an important lesson for the next time I make the tiramisu...taste the coffee first.  In this case, I used a new type of coffee...Dunkin Donuts Turbo brew...and it was WAY too strong and nasty for my tiramisu. 

Oh well...lesson learned. 


Leadership Training

For the last three days, I have been happily not reporting to my normal job site, instead attending a course on Trustworthy Leadership.  Since my company paid roughly $800 for me to attend this three day leadership course, I WISH I could talk about all the new leadership skills I have...but the fact is, I really don't think I learned anything new.

This should not be taken as a negative endorsement for the instructor of the class I've been taking the last few days, but rather a statement of my opinion that if you have been to one leadership class, you have been to them all.  And during my time in the Navy and a supervisor at PSNS, I have been to more than one leadership class.  You learn about pushing and pulling leadership styles, different personality styles...yada, yada, yada.

Despite not gaining a lot of original knowledge this time around, the class was enjoyable, and a good refresher.  The teaching technique for the most part revolved around watching clips of movies, and then discussing the leadership, team forging, and disciplinary styles used.  Very relaxing, although in a few cases, I saw some key scenes of movies that I have not gotten around to watching yet.  Let's see if I can come up with a list of movies and scenes.  An asterisk marks a movie I had not previously seen.

Band of Brothers*
Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid*
White Squal*
Miracle*(which we watched all of)
Shacklton*(which we watched the whole SECOND half of...*
Lean on Me*
Hunt for Red October
Stand and Deliver*

Ummm....that's about all I can think of for now...other than learning that I am People Oriented Harmony Seeker Personality type, I also learned I really need to get motivated and watch all of Band of Brothers...what a kick-ass series that looked like.

The gentleman teaching our class had Parkinson's disease...and it was eye opening.  A graduate of the West Point before becoming a trainer for the Navy working at the Idaho Falls Prototype, then finally starting his own training company in the late 80s, you could tell he used to be a very active type guy.  Now, when his Parkinson's is acting up, he has to hold a marker in both hands to write on the dry erase board.

From past talks with my wife, I think seeing this kind of thing effects men more than women.  I am terrified of what I saw...a guy that used to work for the bomb disposal unit in the Army, now needed to keep one hand in his pocket to keep it from trembling.  I admit to being impressed by the fact that he still taught the class.  I worry that I might be a wimp and give up when faced with that kind of adversity.

As my wife reminds me, that in one reason to enjoy what you can of life in the here and now. 


Not sure this has a happy ending.

Earlier this evening, while having my daughters help with the laundry, I was in the middle of folding the hand towels, and I was struck my a moment of inspiration.

Looking at my older daughter, I asked her if she knew what a 'rat tail' was.  After she state she didn't know what one was, I had her turn around.  Selecting my weapon, I quickly rolled a hand towel up, and flicked it right towards her bottom, where it impacted with a satisfying 'snap'.  She jumped around, more startled than hurt, and I showed her what I had done. 

A quick demonstration ensued, with my younger daughter showing extreme interest also.  It took a while, but using an empty card board box as target practice, my older daughter finally got the wrist motion right.  And that is when I noticed the gleam in her eyes, as she was looking at her younger sister.


Daddy quickly and calmly sat both girls on the couch, and carefully explained, in appropriate gruesomeness for a 5 year old an 8 year old, what would happen to the girl who decided to try this new technique out on her sister.  I also tried to explain what punishments mommy would do to daddy if she found out what daddy had taught the girls to do.  I think I got through to them.

I figure I will know for sure about 10:30 tomorrow morning when I get a call from my wife, wanting to know why one of the girls cracked HER on the rear with a towel...since I am not sure I warned the girls that their MOM was also not a target. 


Scone Cold Psycho

Over the weekend, SWMBO decided she wanted to quiche for dinner Saturday.  I helped in the decision, but as a guy it's not manly to admit that I like quiche also, so it's easier to blame it on my wife.  What does one make with quiche?  Looking down the barrel of a stay at home Saturday, while the wife was out shopping, I decided that something sweet would go with quiche...and that jam on scones sounded tasty. 

I like cooking.  By nature, as a guy, I work best with meat and dinner type things.  Baking has never been my strong point...too regimented.  My cooking hero, Alton Brown, says that baking is much tougher than cooking meals, because it is science, and the ratios are more important.  If I feel like throwing a little extra cumin or garlic powder in while making dinner...it's okay.  Baking though?  While you can mess with the dried cranberries, or chocolate chip amounts, you need to make sure you get the ratios of flour, sugar, fats, proteins and leavening agents right. Boring...and a lot of work with measuring cups and spoons.

Speaking of Alton Brown...I decided to follow his recipe for dried cherry scones.


If you have never followed an Alton Brown recipe, a lot of the time he has somewhat...elaborate techniques.  In this case, for cutting in the fats, he recommends using your fingers to work the butter into the flour.  Seems excessive...but, the result was pretty okay.   The wife was very excited to come home to fresh baked scones, and they went PERFECTLY with the ham and broccoli quiche I made. 

Mr. Domestic strikes again. 

Even worse, I seem to have created a monster...Today when I got home, I made my third batch of scones in the last five days.  Today's batch used up the last of the dried cranberries...now I'm kind of out of excuses to make more this weekend.  Maybe I'll have to substitute chocolate chips to make more a desert type thing. 


National Champions...to some people.

Another college football season has drawn to an end...and once again, I find myself looking at an unsatisfactory final result.  Auburn beat Oregon last night, in an exciting, but somewhat poorly played game.

In case you can't tell, I am not a fan of the BCS system.  I will grudgingly admit that the BCS set-up is slightly less heinous than what we had before the BCS, but not much.  Pre-BCS, there was no guarantee that the number 1 and number 2 rated teams were going to meet.  In fact, to my immediate too lazy to look things up memory...I think Pre-BCS, the #1 and #2 teams played in a bowl game about 15 times...not a very good percentage.  So...the BCS did give us that.

After matching up the #1 and #2 teams...the BCS promised nothing...other than to make money...there is no agreement to match up 3 and 4, and then 5 and 6 on down the line...they are out to to sell tickets, and keep the 6 Big Conferences happy.  This year, the At Large teams were picked good...Stanford, Ohio State, and of course, TCU deserved to be selected for their games.  UCONN and Virginia tech...not so much...but much like the Sea Hawks, they benefited by playing in conferences having a down year, and you can't blame them for taking advantage of the system.  Their karma balanced out with bad loses to good team in their games.  The Sea Hawks manned up an won their game.

I didn't watch every bowl game(I REFUSE to watch 6-6 and 7-5 teams play each other....too many damn Bowls)...but I watched enough to have an opinion(being a man of strong opinion, I wouldn't have to watch much at all to have an opinion, but that is beside the point).  That sum of that opinion is that NOTHING I saw convinced me that TCU could not play Auburn at least as good as Oregon did.  I'm not saying they would beat them 10 out of 10, or even best 4 of 7...but football has long been the game of Any Given Sunday(or Monday in the case of our National Championship Game). 

Until there is some type of playoff, I will be scornful at the end of most seasons.  Most seasons...last year, I didn't have much doubt that Alabama was the best team in the Nation.  Boise St. also finished undefeated, and I would have liked to see them get a chance to play Alabama, but I would have not bet money on their chances of winning.

There has to be a way to make money off of playoffs.  I don't think 4 teams would be enough...16 would take an extra week, and be tougher to pull off...but 8 teams...three weeks...pretty ideal.  If you can't make the top 8 teams...I don't want to hear you come crying.  But until we get an 8 team playoff...I will be bitter, and award my own National Championship Award.

This year, I award Texas Christian University the 'Good Enough For Me' National Championship.  

For what it's worth.


Not feeling very good about myself.

It's been a bad last couple of weeks as far as the family cat goes.  She has had problems hitting the litter box, she has been sleeping 18-20 hours a day, and dropping weight fast, despite eating a couple of cans of food a day.  The last week or so, she has been letting go with this heart rending cross between a howl, a meow and a cry 3 times a night.  After a couple of weepy eyed talks between my wife and I, we decided that the time had come to end it.

Today at 4:30, I drive her to the vet, and stayed with her until it was all done.  It was the hardest thing I have gone through since I spent a night at the hospital with my wife as she fought to save our first pregnancy.  That was 9 years ago, and I guess in the big picture if bringing my cat to the vet to be put to sleep is the worst thing that happened to me in 9 years...that's not a bad life. 

It also wasn't a bad life for a cat.  She made it 17-18 years, the last 9 of it being loved by an amazing family(modesty is not one of my strong points).  What hurts is knowing that I made the pragmatic decision, and not the emotional one.  I am sure that whatever was effecting the cats health might have been medically treatable....but my wife and I had to face the hard economic reality of the situation...as folks waiting for a house to sell in one town, hoping to buy a house in a new town...how much money could we really afford to spend on keeping an old, old cat alive?  I mean...say it was diabetes, which signs pointed too as one possible cause....did it really make sense to be roped into giving her insulin shots(at gosh only knows what cost) to stretch her out another 6 months? 

As people out in Arizona and across the nation come to grips with what happened out there over the weekend(and heck, what happens to good people in a variety of ways EVERY DAY, so I'm not even thinking of ranting anti-gun, just trying to put things in context)...it probably seems lame for me to lament a cat who was allowed to go peacefully...but she was my cat darn-it. 

Maybe tomorrow I'll catch up to the real world and start paying attention to all the wonderful progress our new Congress and the rest of our governments are making in the new year. 


Things you never get tired of hearing, in Dayton or anywhere.

Over the weekend, I took my wife and kids to the cute little town of Dayton, located about 30 miles north east of Walla Walla, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.  I went to Dayton myself a couple of months ago, and having been quite smitten with the town when I swung through, I have been itching for an opportunity to bring my wife and kids.

I'm not sure why I am quite so fascinated with this town.  No one thing makes it feel perfect, but rather it is a sum of many things, both practical and aesthetic.  For the practical, it is in a great location...game is plentiful at the foot of the Blue Mountains.  There are decent sized chunks of land available in the hills and the Palouse around town.  It's not really on the way to anywhere, so it's not like the Golden Hoards will pass by your direction if things get bad.

Aesthetically, it's a very cute town.  It is home of the oldest train depot in the State of Washington, as well as the oldest continually used Courthouse in Washington.

On the north side of Main Street, there is about a 3 block by 3 block Historic District with many BEAUTIFUL Victorian and Craftsman Style homes.  Granted...living in a 3900 SF Victorian is not the most inconspicuous way of life...but sometimes you have to let the wife win a theoretical argument.  Luckily, it would be about a 2 hour drive to work, so it is all theoretical right now...but when the time comes that we are ready to start seriously looking at vacation/get away land....the Dayton area is high on my list.

In addition to the cute train depot, court house and historic district, there is a nice little Main Street...about 5 or six shops...typical of what you would expect from a borderline tourist town....antiques, gifts, bakery, art gallery, and a fancy yarn shop that had my wife acting all giggly and little girlish. Also on Main Street is one of my new favorite places: Skye Book and Brew.  As I discussed after my previous visit, it's the kind of place I would love to have opened if I won the big Mega Millions last week...a used book store/brew pub.   Bringing my wife to see it was one of the prime reasons I was trying to get her to Dayton.

While we were enjoying our tasty lunch, we had one of those enjoyable moments that make being a parent ALL worthwhile.  A nice older lady was enjoying her cup of coffee and chicken pot pie at a table nearby.  After our kids got finished eating, we let them go examine the used kids books for sale.  When they left the table, the lady leaned over to us, and told us that we had some of the sweetest, most polite young ladies that she had ever seen in her life, and that they made sitting there the most enjoyable meal she had had in quite some time.  The owner/waitress who had been helping us also cut in, saying that is was much nicer to see well-behaved kids that say thank you than bratty ones that scream and bounce around the place.

My wife and I accepted the compliment as graciously as possible...and then it got a little dusty in the place, because I know I felt some tears forming in my eyes, and I thought I saw some in my wife's eyes.  I worry sometimes that I am not appreciative enough of the wonderful children that I have.  Moments like this help reinforce the amazing gift my wife and I have been given. 

It also proves to me that my reasons for taking this new job, one of the main ones being 'more time with the family', were the right reasons.  Now that there is an offer on the house, I am getting closer to the point where I can say it was the right decision. 


Cat Conundrum

Sometimes, there are issues that can divide a society cleanly in two.  Crunchy vs. Smooth Peanut Butter(Crunchy), Ginger vs. Mary Ann(Mary Ann), Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady(Brady) are a few examples.  Another big example is Cat vs. Dog.  I have always come down firmly on the cat side of the issue.  It's not that I don't like dogs, or appreciate their faithfulness...I'm just lazy...and typically dogs are a lot of work...ESPECIALLY properly raising a puppy to be a well-trained and properly behaving dog.  My dad and some of my friends have very well behaved dogs...and I greatly enjoy visiting them and getting to spend time with their dogs.  I enjoy it just as much when I get to drive home and not have to take care of those dogs.  It's kind of the same way I feel about my friends babies now that my own kids are getting older and can wipe their own butts. 

Cats on the other hand, with their independent aloofness, are my cup of tea.  I feed a cat, clean it's litterbox, and occasionally I will hop on you lap asking to be petted.  If it's a kitten, it might put on a random display of cuteness playing with some string. 

It's entirely possible that the end is what has turned me off of dogs.  Growing up we had twice tried raising dogs.  The first one was a beautiful collie we called Goldie.  As pretty and as smart as Lassie.  Quite possibly the worlds perfect dog.  One day I was opening the side fence to get into our backyard, and he snuck out around me.  Making a break for it, he ran in front of a car and was killed.  I think I was about 7 or 8 at the time, and it crushed me.  A year or two later we got another dog from a friend of my dad.  It was one of the most poorly behaved animals I have known, and lasted only a few months with us before it tore all the linoleum up in the bathroom, and my dad moved it on to another home. 

Maybe because cats are not as loving and faithful as dogs, when those relationships are over, it didn't seem as hard to move on.  Historically to me, cat's seem more easily replaceable than dogs.  I think we had three or four cats growing up, and not many of them last longer than 3 or 4 years before getting hit by cars, tore up by raccoons or coyotes, or just plain not coming home.  After a few weeks of mourning, they were replaced by The Next Cat, and life went on.

Early in our marriage, SWMBO and I decided to get a cat.  With her being pregnant at the time, I bullied her into used superior logic to convince her that getting a mature, adult cat was the smarter thing to do than getting a kitten.  I felt that a mellow, mature cat would get along much better with a baby than a high-strung kitten, especially when that baby turned into a tail-pulling toddler. 

After a few weeks of searching, I found a navy guy who was getting ready to transfer that was getting rid of a fixed adult female for the right price...Free.  She was a pretty little gray thing, with soft long hair.  He was her third owner, and believed she was somewhere between 6 and 9 years old, indoor only, and very mellow.  Perfect.

I brought her home to my wife, and she promptly spent the next three weeks hiding under our bed before finally joining the family.  When we had our kids, she was just as well behaved with them as I hoped she would be.  Only one time did she really display any ill temper. 

About 4 years ago, my dad and step-mom got a new kitten, and found out that since they last time they had had a kitten, my step-mom had developed an allergy...so they offered her to us.  The wife brought her home...and the fun started.  Our adult cat, Missy, did not like that kitten being in her home one bit.  Hissed whenever she saw her, made a few runs at the kitten, and was in general not welcoming.  After a few days though...things seemed to settle down.  Missy appeared willing to stake her claim to our room, and let the kitten have the rest of the house.  It looked like a truce might have developed until the night my wife decided she wanted to bring the kitten to bed with her.  The kitten didn't want to stay in bed long, and as soon as she jumped out of bed, and her paw touched my bedroom floor...it was on.  By the time I got out of bed and got things separated, the kitten was bleeding from three or four places.  Moving her to another room was not enough...Missy followed her around the house...she wanted her gone, and we had to keep the kitten locked up in the other bathroom until we found a home for her. 

Fast forwarding now...and we had to make a decision.  Missy is getting older.  Sometimes, it is painful to watch her try to jump up on the bed or the couch.  Her litter box use percentage has started to slip. We have had her for over 9 years, which makes her somewhere between 15 and 18.  Prior to moving and paying a non-refundable pet deposit to our apartment, my wife brought her to the vets, for an assessment.  The vet said she seemed to be in okay shape for an older cat...a little light at only 5.5 pounds, but she had never been a fat cat...just a fury fluff ball.  He did say she was missing three teeth, and recommended switching to canned food for her.

Since the move...things have not gotten better.  I would say she is down to 75% litter box usage, which is tough in an apartment...and that is with the wife and I cleaning it out twice a day.  It seems to be just pure laziness, or even forgetfulness.  The last 5 days have been bad...she has not climbed off the couch to do anything other than eat or use the bathroom.  She used to tear around the house at night, but I haven't even heard her doing that.  Her weight is down ever more...it's not the most accurate method, but checking her 'using the on the scale with and without her method', she is much closer to 4 pounds than 5.5. 

My wife and I have started sharing sad looks and deep sighs with each other, and have whispered talks about the vets.  Other than decreasing skills, and lack of interest in the litter box, she doesn't real show signs of discomfort yet....it's not like she sits around all day crying...just laying there doing nothing.  It's reached the point where when I wake up in the morning, I have to look at her close to make sure she is still breathing...having the girls wake up to find a dead cat on the couch is not a way I want my wife to have to start her day. 

Having had her for over 9 years is the longest I have lived with a cat by far...more than double the next closest cat...as big as a joker as I have been about putting her down, or having at her with a rag full of chloroform, I'm not sure I can be an unbiased judge of when her quality of life is beginning to suffer too much. 

And my wife's quality of life...stepping in a pile of cat poop trying to get to bathroom in a dark hallway is not a pleasant way to wake up. 


Guilty Pleasure

Proving that commercials usually succeed at hitting their target audience, my girls jumped me the other day, telling me 'Daddy...Daddy...a new Wipeout is on this Thursday'.

For those of you not in the know, Wipeout is an obstalcle course type show on ABC.  Picture it  is as kind of a kindler, gentler, foam covered, funnier version of Ninja Warrior.   It's good, clean brain-rotting fun, and my kids love it.  I kind of love it too, and what I enjoy even more than the show itself is the fact that my kids will sit with me on the couch for a full hour, with me.  Now, it might now be as ideal of a bonding experience as a camping or fishing trip...but I will take what I can get. 

Immediately after our show, we had to turn the TV over to SWMBO, so she could watch the Season Premier of Grey's Anatomy.I don't watch the show much...the times I HAVE watched it, it has not measured up to E.R., so...why settle for 2nd best.  Today's episode proved that to me.  For the 2nd time in six months, there was a mass shooting in Seattle.  6 Months ago it was at the Hospital, this time at a generic university.  Last time I watched the news, we didn't have that many mass shootings in Seattle.

The part of the episode that really cheesed me off was about half-way through, when some of the doctors found out they were working on the probably shooter, and half the Operating Crew walked out.  George Clooney or Anthony Edwards never would have done that. 

Offer accepted

I've never been what you would call a hard negotiator.  I hate dealing with sales people, and just want most buying experiences to be done as quickly as possible.  For major purchases, I do the minimum research necessary to ensure I am not going to get flat out screwed, and am willing to pay more than rock bottom to wrap things up. 

Combining this self-identified lack of a 'negotiating gene' with the fear that our house might NEVER sell(despite the fact that it had only been on the market 3 months, over the holidays, at the tail end of one of the worst housing markets my generation will see) and there was ZERO chance I was going to play hard-ass with the offer to buy our house.  With them already offering full asking price, the only thing I really could have done was try to talk them down on what they wanted us to cover of  their closing prices.  But, the was I am looking at it is, I had already convinced myself that I would not have flinched at accepting five or six thousand less than we had been asking...so, why worry about this closing cost thing.

Besides...if I HAD played Mr. Hard Ass, and the deal fell through...it might have been a chance to finally figure out just what the worst thing is my wife could do to me.


Picking the wrong shows

My wife and I seem to have a run of bad luck at picking the right TV shows to get behind.  Either we fall for a show that no one else seems to like, so it has bad ratings and gets canceled, or we are watching it on video, and all too soon arrive at the end of the series.  And, let's face it...there aren't too many series that get to plan for the end, so they usually end on some sort of cliff-hanger, with a ton of unanswered questions. 

Recent examples of shows that have left us feeling dirty and unfulfilled are: Jericho, Sarah Connor Chronicles, HEROES, Doll House, and, of course, Firefly.  Earlier this week, my wife started watching a British series called Survivors.  It's set in an England which has fallen victim to a massive flu epidemic, totally decimating the population.  Kind of like The Stand, just without the mythic struggle of Good vs. Evil.  Being set in England, there aren't a lot of guns to go around, the firearms on display being limited to a couple of shot-guns(mostly 'fowling' pieces) and about 3 pistols. Apparently there is more firepower in my bedroom closet than you can find in all of England.

Lack of firearms aside, what I saw of the show was highly interesting.  Oh...people still seemed very clean and the girls were awfully pretty for a few months with no showers or food, but, much better acting than what they had in Jericho...plus there was an actual story, with two sets of bad guys: one an evil pharmaceutical company trying to profit from a possible cure that they would do ANYTHING to find, and the other set of bad guys being the Provisional Government, attempting to restore order.  There is actually a quite strong anti-establishment feel in the show.

My wife has watched about 8 episodes, when I asked her how many shows there were total.  She said she didn't know, but that she was only two season into the show.  A quick trip to Wikipedia revealed the horrible, terrible truth:  There were only 2 seasons of the show filmed, 6 episodes per season, for a total of 12 episodes. 

A strong person would have been able to bear up under the terrible strain of that truth, letting his wife enjoy what she could of the series. 

I'm not a strong man.  I did wait until she was about half-way through episode 10 to give her the bad news.  At 10 o'clock when she sent me to bed alone, she was trying to decide between savoring the last two episodes, or pushing on and finishing it in one sitting.

Based off the fact that she didn't make in to bed until well after midnight, I can guess which way she chose.  I can't blame her...when I started watching Firefly, I KNEW it was only a few episodes, and I still couldn't stretch it out. 

Keeping our fingers crosssed...

When I got home from work today, my wife was talking on the phone to her sister.  Hmph.  No hug for me.  Instead of taking off my coat, I bebopped back outside to take out the trash, and this time when I hit the door my wife was saying her goodbyes to her sister, and I got a hug.

After my hug, she said that while she had been talking to her sister, our real estate agent had tried to call her on the phone, so while I got comfortable, she was was going to give him a call.  Long story short...We got an offer on the house!!!!!!  It was a full price offer, with us covering the buyers closing costs.  Once upon a time, I might have wavered and tried some kind of counter offer here, but really, I just want to be out from under this house.  The only real negative is that while my new company helps to cover most closing costs, it is done as reimbursement, which means we might need to come up with a little bit of cash at closing, that will later get paid back to us.  Fine...we can handle it.

Now the only thing to survive is the house inspection...that's me, always focusing on the positive. 


If you can't beat it, buy a new one.

After my battle against the evil free router, I finally gave up, and stopped at office depot to pick up a brandy new router, that came with a helpful install disk and everything.  20 minutes after getting home, we had wireless internet.  Of course, that roped me into having to hook the Wii up after dinner, but that was pretty painless, as was downloading the netflix software on to it.  Yay.  Now my wife can watch netflix stuff on the big TV, while I play on the computer.

Another advantage of hitting the store on the way home is that I was able to make a quick stop into Ace Hardware.  Now...I'm really not much better with power tools than I am with free routers, but the Ace Hardware stores here in Richland have a fairly decent selection of firearms.  What really impressed me was their selection of black guns. From Ruger they have both the SR-22 and SR-556.  S&W offerings include both the M&P-15, and the 15-22.  What really intrigued me though was the DPMS AR they had in stock.  I went to the DPMS website, and don't see the exact model they had in stock at the store, but...it was a nice little 16-inch carbine with a 6 position stock.  Pretty generic, run of the mill A-Forgery, but what threw me for a loop was the price. 

The sticker said $718.

Now....I'm going to admit, that the last time I was really looking at AR prices was over a year ago.  Between being in New York, then moving...I really haven't had a lot of chances(or excuses) to be curious.  At that time, you still couldn't find an AR for under $1000.  To find this one, in stock(and there were 2 of them!) for $718...I was kind of surprised.  Right now, waiting for the house to sell in Belfair...I really can't bring myself to buy it.  As Dana Carvey used to say 'It wouldn't be prudent at this juncture'. 

My 10th wedding anniversary is rapidly approaching though...and it can't be a coincidence that the income tax return money should be in a few weeks before that. 


Total Defeat

My efforts(lacking in patience AND competence) to make my desk-top computer faster AND get the 'yay it's free' wireless router up and running have not been successful.  Oh....I deleted quite a few things with the end result that the desk-top does boot up much faster...but now it refuses to acknowledge the internet exists again.  I can be surfing with the lap-top, pull the cable out, stick it in the desk-top, and it only tells me I have local access.  I foresee a time in the immediate future where I rip all my pictures off this desk-top onto a few memory cards, and do a trash-can upgrade, choosing to live with the lap-top for the immediate future.

The free wireless router has pushed my last button...I was able to reset its password, but could get no further than that.  I described my frustration thusly to my wife:  It's like putting a beer out on my porch, then chaining the sliding glass window is shut.  I can see the beer is there(much like my computer can SEE the internet), but I can't get to it without a tire iron. 

And I would very much like to take a tire iron to this router right now.  Tomorrow, I think I hit Office Depot and pick up a new one...with an instruction booklet. 

Technology is our friend

For the last few weeks, we have been getting by using our laptop as our primary internet machine, because someone was too lazy to unpack and setup the desk top.  And by getting by I mean 'perfectly happy because the laptop is not loaded down with as many things so it is actually faster' and by someone I mean me 'because the laptop is not loaded down with as many things so it is actually faster AND takes up less space'

Long about Sunday night, I finally ran out of what SWMBO considered viable excuses, because she insisted that the desk top was NOT as slow as I remembered it to be.    There was also a push to procure and install a wireless router, so that we could use the Wii to stream video directly to our main TV.  Since I WAS all for this final achievement, I figured if I had to play with wires and cables at all, I might as well set-up the desk top, since it does have a better set of speakers and a larger monitor than the laptop. 

Putting together the desktop was no where near as tough as I make it out to be.  Anymore everything is either a USB connection, or color coded to match the correct plug to the correct slot on the back of the machine.  I do have quite the spaghetti mess now though.  But...the desktop is just as slow as I remember it to be.  It's an HP, and came loaded with WAY more programs than it needed on it.  As such, it has NEVER been what you would call fast to go from power on to ready to use.  It has always taken at least 5 minutes to go from me pushing the power button to being useful.  As someone (who is not me) has clicked to add every semi-useful program recommended by Windows, the actual page-to-page surfing has suffered also.  This has not happened to the laptop, as I have kept in my loving care most of its life. 

Computer up and running, I went about tackling the wireless router.  One of my co-workers heard me talking about wanting a wireless router, and told me he had one in the garage I could have for the right price...that price being free.  Not one to pass up a deal like that, I swung by his house to pick it, figuring I could use the Power of the Internet to get it running.  My attempts were loaded with fail.  Initially, both the hard wired desk-top and the wireless laptop failed to admit the router existed.  Through gratuitous use of the reset button, I managed to get both computers to admit the router was there, and that the internet existed, they just couldn't use the internet through THAT router.  This was about 10:15 last night...and I was ready to go snuggle with the wife instead of doing battle with technology.

Now, I'm spending Monday night, streaming the Orange Bowl through the laptop(plugged right in through the normal router) while I mercilessly delete things from the desktop.  At half-time of the football game, I will attack the router issue again.

This time, I'm bringing Sailor Jerry along as a wingman. 



Not everything I do would qualify as 'smart' to an independent observer.  Putting a zip up sweatshirt on over my shorts to bring out the trash just prior to bed when it is 10 degrees outside is one of them.   Placing my hands on my wife's bare shoulder to warm them up when I come back in is another.  

Maybe she will at least let me have a blanket for the couch. 

Really?!?!? Are you sure? It doesn't FEEL like a new year.

Had a good time at our friends house last night.  Can't really call it a party...there were our two kids, our friends two kids, and then one other married couple who don't have kids yet.  So, not a party, but a nice friendly get together.  Had some beer, had some champagne, and had some 'slush'.  'Slush' was new to my wife and I...we think it may be a mid-western thing, since our friends trace it back to their mom in Wisconsin.  There are many different kinds I guess...this one is strawberry ice cream, a couple of different sherbets, some shaved ice, and some brandy.  Mix it all up, and freeze it in a pail.  When ready to have some, add it to a glass, pour in some 7-Up, and your ready to go.  If you are like me, you might mix in a little extra shot of whatever is handy(rum, whiskey or more brandy).  My wife liked it because, really, the initial mix doesn't have THAT much brandy in it, so realistically you can drink it to your hearts content, and not feel any effect, BUT still hang out with the big kids at the big kid table.

The kids hung out up-stairs, watching movies, while the adults were down-stairs playing games.  About 9, we got all the kids in PJ's and told them they could fall asleep watching the movies, and we would wake them up for midnight.  Our friends kids passed right out, but of course, because my children think I am liar who would not remember to wake them up, they stayed up all on their own. 

To pass the time, we played several different games: Farkle(a dice game), Mexican Train(dominoes) and then Creationary...a Lego game meant for kids, but totally playable by a group of adults(especially if 4 of the 6 have been getting their drink on.)  Essentially, it is like pictionary, but instead of drawing words, you get little cards with picture of things that you need to build from a tray of lego's, and your team needs to guess what you are building.  We were a little uncertain about it at first, but...it turned out to be really fun.

Midnight was nice...I got to share a couch with my wife and both of my girls, getting a kiss from all of them.  My buddy had bought some sparklers and poppers, so despite the temperature outside being 11 degrees, we went outside so the kids could wave some sparklers and in general make a mess.  I got my 5-year old to yell 'Hooray for magnesium' as she ran around with her sparkler.  When the sparklers were done we took advantage of the opportunity to herd the kids in the car, say our goodbyes and head for home.  Yes...we were safe.  Taking the hit for the team, my wife had had 1 weak cup of slush early, then she had done her champagne toast on east coast time. 

End result...kids were in bed by 12:45, and I think I followed them about half an hour later. 

New Years Day usually means one thing for me: Football.  Not having cable, things are a little different.  I am limited to using ESPN3.com to stream one game at a time.  I think it has a tile setting where I can watch 4 small games at once, but....I'm focusing on the Rose Bowl now, and I'll watch the other BCS(I think it's UConn vs Oklahoma) game tonight on shear principle, unless I can convince my wife to watch Book of Eli instead.

To ease my hunger pangs during the football games, I got all kinds of motivated and made my first attempt at refried beans. Not bad...instead of making fresh bacon, I used saved grease from the fridge.  Through a little bit of cheese and some sour cream in, and it was very satisfactory. 

I'm not much for resolutions, especially because I have the same ones every year.  Lose some weight, be a better dad, win the lottery...so, tonight, for dinner, we are having green beans, fruit, and venison back-strap on a bed of fresh lettuce.  After dinner, I am going to teach my family how to play Uno.  Yes, even my wife, who stunned me 5 minutes ago by saying she has never played Uno.

Even worse, when I told her not to worry, it's just like Crazy 8's, she gave me a blank stare.  Sometimes I worry she was locked in a closet as a kid...but the truth is, she was kind of a 'change of life' baby, and as such, there is an 8 year difference between her and her siblings, so, there wasn't a lot of family game night. 

Wish me luck.