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


Long, but good day.

Went out for a road trip with the family.  It was a good time, but a much longer day than I had counted on.  Being weak, I gave in to my 'foo-foo' side, and broke down with a some Hard Apple Cider. 

It was the 'Organic Maple Syrup' that suckered me in.  More to follow. 

'Salt' needs more seasoning.

SWMBO and I LOVE streaming netflix.  It is one of the reasons we are able to make it with just basic(and I mean BASIC) cable.  One of our few complaints about the streaming options on netflix is a lack of 'current' releases, so, when 'Salt' showed up as a available, my wife was pretty excited.  Who am I to not let her get what she wants sometimes?

I wasn't overly impressed.  Giving it it's due, I can't say it was bad...it just wasn't better than other movies of it's genre.  It was no better than the Bourne movies with Matt Damon, didn't hold a candle to 'Taken', and doesn't deserve to be compared to 'Hanna'.

Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent, even though she works at a building CLEARLY labeled as a petroleum company, which just goes to show you that all oil companies are evil.  20 minutes before she is supposed to leave for the day for her wedding anniversary, a Russian Defector walks in, needing a quick debrief.  Bummer on the timing, and bummer on what he says....because he accuses Angelina of being a Russian Sleeper Agent.  OMG!

Ready, set, chase!

Angelina plays the rabbit, and the two main hounds per suing her are Liev Schreiber, who plays her defensive boss, and Chiwetel Eliofor(who was the global warming scientist in 2012, and more importantly, The Operative in Serenity, and played with Clive Owen in Children of Man) playing the Counter Intelligence guy who's out to catch her. 

So.  Chase, Chase, Chase.  Angelina does some McGuyver type stuff, beats a few people up, jumps off bridges and from the top of one truck to the top of another truck, and escapes. 

Then she dyes her hair, beats up a few more people, and let's herself get captured, just to escape again, and we find out, that MAYBE she is the bad guy.  And she is far from alone as the bad guy.

My wife and I both agreed that the movie had one or two really cool parts, especially when she dispenses 'Final Justice' to the main bad guy.

The plot is not really the problem in this movie.  It is no more goofy or unlikely than any other action thriller that has come out in the last 10 years.  I can't believe I'm going to say this as a guy, but my real problem with the movie might be Angelina Jolie.

For a span of 6 years or so(from Bone Collector to Mr. and Mrs. Smith) you would not have gotten much argument from me if you wanted to say that Angelina Jolie was one of the 5 most attractive women in the world.  Even in Salt, she still has a classically beautiful face...but...what bothers me, is she in thin verging on the point of frail.  Jumping from truck to truck on the freeway, I think she would have snapped both her legs(okay, so would Jason Statham, in real life...but he looks the part).  Even as a 'highly trained Russian Assassin' she would not have been able to go toe-to-toe with other 'highly trained' types.  Liev Schrieber is 6 inches taller and outweighs her by what....80 pounds? 

All this bashing, and I am still going to give it 3 out of 5 stars...it's not the movies fault that Hollywood has told Angelina she needs to be 5'8" and 120 pounds to be beautiful.  It's not this movies fault that 'Taken' and 'Hanna' are better.  It's still a fair-to-middling flick, with occasional sparks of 'Oh, cool' thrown in. 



Fondling at ACE

Took a trip to ACE Hardware this afternoon, with a stated purpose to my wife of looking for a laser.  Our new cat likes playing more than our old maid cat used to, and SWMBO thought he would get a kick out of chasing a laser around the house.  I told her I would check at ACE, because I had previously seen cheapo 9 LED Flashlights, with a Laser in them for sale their, for like 5 bucks.

Well, of course, they had all kinds of cheapo LED flashlights there, for under $10...just not any with a laser.  Faced with primary mission failure, I strolled over to the gun counter, to cheer myself by finding how far I had made it up the PMR-30 wait list.  Depressing...ACE hasn't had a single PMR-30 come show up in the last 3 weeks, so I am still #17....but, I am not last now, so hooray for me.  Requiring even further cheering up at this point, I was giving their AR's a quick once over when I saw a flat top with .308 written on the tag. 

It was a DPMS Sportical, in .308(although, if you go to their website, they say the Sportical is 7.62 X 51, the tag AND the side of the gun said .308.  Something to keep in mind I guess).  Flat top, 6 position collapsible stock, 16 inch barrel. 

For about 2 years(ever since ready Rawles book, in which there are multiple times that he explains all the reasons .308 is superior to .223) I have been fighting the urge to get an semi-automatic rifle in .308.  My argument in the 'against' category is logistics.  I have NOTHING else in .308.  Of course, the less logical side of my brain says that until I bought an AR, I had nothing in .223. It's a good argument.

Logical side tries again with: Your wife has tried the AR in .223 and REALLY liked it, and is confident/comfortable with it.  She might become a little intimidated with the larger .308 round.  The counter argument is that I had a friend who let me try his Rock River AR with a .308 upper on it once, and I found the kick to be not much worse than my AR in .223.  Another effective counter argument. 

Logical side gives it one last try.  But the PTR-91 has an 18-inch barrel, so you can get just a little more out of the .308 round, and uses cheaper G3 magazines.  The other side agrees that is true, but the AR is lighter, handier, and and with the collapsible stock will fit both me and my wife better...and all the sudden the argument is about which .308, instead of do I NEED a .308.

Let's face it...if it was about need, we wouldn't need gun safes that could hold more than about 7 or 8 guns...and even that is stretching it. 

I walked out of ACE empty handed, but satiated, because now I can do some research, and because I am sicko, sometimes gun research is almost as much fun to me as actually buying/using the guns.  

Easily distracted by small, shiney objects...

I have sort of an addiction when it comes to movies....I love to know everything about them before they come out.  Well, not everything, because I do like plot-twist surprises....but as far as who is playing what part, what the general point of the movie is, and most especially...I like watching the trailers.

If SWMBO had her way, we would walk in with the popcorn after the last trailer had finished, and they were starting the titles for the main feature.  Me?  Half the time I am more interested in the trailers for what is coming next than I am for the movie we are supposed to be watching.  A psychologist would probably say that points to some deeper flaw in my psyche, like 'not being able to enjoy what you have in the present'.  Bah....I just found out long ago that you can figure out 90% of most movies from the trailers.

Yesterday was a big day, trailer-wise.  As summer rapidly approaches, the final trailers for most of the big summer movies are starting to come out.  Yesterday brought a new trailer for X-Men:First Class, perhaps our final trailer ever for a Harry Potter movie, and the full length trailer for Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.

I'm pretty much 'all-in' on this movie.  There is no possible middle ground, it is either going to be the best(and by best I mean most entertaining mind diversion) of the year, or the worst of the year.  I'm voting for best of the year, myself, and have circled July 1st on my calendar already. 


Happy Birthday!

Today, we find ourselves(I'm trying out the Royal We, in honor of some wedding that's happening this weekend) faced with the Birthday of two worthy women.

First, our runner up...Jessica Alba.  Now first of all, Jessica has the worlds most perfect 1st Name.  Next, she is a very attractive young lady.  Jessica burst on to the scene back in 1999(really...12 years ago!?!?!?!??!?!) as Max, on Dark Angel.  Even with James Cameron's involvement, she was really the only reason to watch that show.  I would have to hazard a guess that she is less well known for acting since Dark Angel than she is known for being a smoking hot example of the female half of the human species.  Jessica turned 30 today, which makes her 40 years younger than the lady who earns my Happy Birthday Wish for the day.

Much like Jessica Alba, I would take a bet that Ann-Margret is better known these days for BEING Ann-Margret than she is being an actress.  Being a Man of the World, when I think Ann-Margret, I think of 'Tommy', 'Bye, Bye Birdie', and 'Grumpy Old Men'.  I will admit to not watching most of what she made during her mid-late 1960's heyday.  I don't enjoy most movies from that time, and according to critics, the movies Ann-Margret made were not the best examples of art from that time period....but Ann-Margret was and always will be Ann-Margret, no matter the movie she was in.

I know many men who were quite jealous of Jack Lemon for getting to canoodle with An-Margret in both 'Grumpy Old Men' movies.  Even into her 60's, she still had that extra something.

Happy 70th Birthday, Ann-Margret. 


But I'm okay with spending money on that!

Proving once again that everyone has their things they don't mind money getting spent on...I'm pretty bummed over the announcement that SETI is going to have to shut down for a few years due to a lack of funding. 

SETI has been limping along for the last couple of years off a very generous donation from Paul Allen.  The funding it does receive from the Government is not enough to allow it to remain in operation, so the plan is to 'mothball' things for a few years, and save some cash so they can open up and operate again for a year or two, or since the economy will be so much better in a few years, stay open. 

As a Sci-Fi geek who listens to Coast-to-Coast AM, I would love to see SETI stay open.  Another article quoted one of the executives at SETI saying that if each person in the U.S. would add 3 cents to their taxes this year, it would easily fund SETI for the next year.  If it was possible to add money to my tax return and ensure where it goes to...I would be okay with that.

As a libertarian tax-payer...I have to 100% agree that The Search for Extra Terrestrial Life is not something that should be government funded.  Of course, neither is about 50% of the rest of stuff that Government IS paying for. 

Just one more reason I need to win the Mega-Millions....then I could fund SETI, and be the first guy to talk to aliens. 


Easy A

Over the weekend, my wife and I snuggled in on the couch to watch a movie.  SWMBO selected 'Easy A'.  She had heard that it was funny, and one of the best 'Teen Comedy's' to come along since John Hughes stopped directing movies.   I had not heard that, but I did know that the movie had a very high esthetic appeal  Emma Stone in it.

Emma is an actress on her way up in the world.  The only movie I previously remember seeing her in was Zombieland, where she played Witchita.  She has been cast to play Gwen Stacy in the newest Spider Man reboot, and I can almost forgive her coloring her beautiful natural red hair blah blonde...it has the potential to be a big enough movie series. 

Okay...the movie was really funny...and the claims my wife had made about it being one of the funniest teen movies since John Hughes are not totally unfounded.  I mean, I'm not a teenager anymore, but it's the funniest teenager based movie I have seen since American Pie. 

Emma Stone plays Olive, and like all stunningly hot red-heads, she is unpopular...or at least not as popular as she wishes she was.  Quite by accident while trying to dodge a weekend camping trip with her best-friends goofy family, she ends up lying about how she spent her weekend.  The story she spins involves a sexual tryst with a college kid, and begins changing her reputation in what she considers a positive way.

Soon she is making up similar stories for other downtrodden boys at school, and she begins to embrace the 'tramp' image...which is cool because she wears a lot of bustiers.  Because they are reading the Scarlet Letter in class, she begins sewing A's on all her clothes.  The Christian Chastity group doesn't like this, and eventually sentiment in the school begins turning against her.  The plot comes to a head when one of the boys she doesn't really sleep with gets chlamydia, and blames it on her anyway. 

I found the movie very enjoyable, and would rate it very high as a 'hour and a half distraction' movie.  About 20 minutes into the movie, my wife made a valid observation, that 5 years ago, Lindsay Lohan would have played the part being played by Emma Stone, and done just as well.  What I can't picture is anyone else playing the roles of Emma's parents...Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson were PERFECT.  They are the type of character actors who make movies like this. 

Giving it 4 stars out of 5...the only thing neither my wife or I could believe was that this movie was rated PG-13.  Granted...there is no real nudity, but the whole topic of the movie is sexual promiscuity...I think I heard every sexual innuendo I had ever heard in this movie, and learned a few new ones. 

So long, sir.

Last night was kind of recovery night around the house.  While it was nice having the World’s Greatest Nana come for a visit, we couldn’t take care of certain things with her around…like trips to the laundromat.  So, like a good little husband, when I got home from work I headed to look at a duplex that is for rent with the family, and then I headed off on my own to get 5 loads of laundry done.  $17 dollars and 2 hours later, I came home, and my wife gave me a hug, and told me she had some bad news. 
While I had been gone, my father had called and told her that my Uncle Jim, who lives down in Texas, had passed away.
My dad’s side of the family is not as close as my mom’s side of the family is.  I don’t think my dad had seen Jim(or his sister that Jim is married too) for about 10 years.  For my mom(since she divorced that side of the family), it would have been even longer, but, Jim was the Best Man at their wedding, and so when I called my mom to let her know, she was more than a little sad also.
I’m not sure you would call me sad…maybe sorrowful would be a better term for it.  There were no tears…we weren’t that close…more the regrets for lost opportunity, and knowledge that the world had lost one of it’s Good Guys. 
Once upon a time, my dad was a Navy Recruiter stationed in Texas.  We spent two years living in Air Force Base Housing on Dyess AFB outside of Abilene, and another two years living in San Angelo.  That was from about age 3 to age 7 for me, and I remember doing a lot with him during that time.  He was into hunting and taxidermy.  I distinctly remember the jackalope he had mounted out in his workshop. 
Eventually, my dad was transferred out of Texas, and I saw my Uncle very rarely, but he continued to be a positive influence on the outdoorsy side of me. 
When my grandfather died, by dad came back from Texas with a Winchester Model 70 in 7mm Rem Mag that Jim had convinced him to buy me at a gun show, because he had heard it was good for both deer and elk.  Jim preferred the long, flat shooting cartridges in Texas, his own personal favorite being .25-06, since there were no elk to worry about.
Early in the 1990’s, Jim came down with a pretty bad case of arthritis.  Rather than role over on it, he started a Knife Manufacturing business.  He made some right pretty knives too.  When I got my first(only) elk, I sent him the spikes in the mail, and he used one to make me a handle for a knife.  Of course, that knife is currently in my ‘hunting’ bin in our storage unit, but take my word for it for know…it’s nice, and functional. 
One of my bigger regrets in life is that a few years ago, I got an updated flyer from him on what he was making knife-wise.  I had in mind to order a knife for each of my daughters…something I could put aside ‘family heirloom’ style, until the right moment to give them to them.  As happens in life, things got busy, and I put it off until later…the sad truth being the occasionally, there is no ‘later.’ 
Thanks for all the Good Times, Uncle Jim.


Looks like this ones going into extra innings.

Being a member of the Washington State Legislature is not supposed to be a full-time job.  The Legislature is scheduled to meet for 105 days in budget years, and 60 in non-budget years.  More often than not, this is enough time to get everything straightened out...occasionally(and it seems to be more often on a budget year), some extra time is needed, and a Special Session can be called. 

This is one of those years...Oh, and the 4th time Gregoire has had to call a Special Session since 2005. 

Faced with a FIVE BILLION DOLLAR deficit for the next2 years, the Legislature has spun it's wheels.  Both the Senate and the House have proposed bills, but they really don't agree yet...and neither of them agree with what Gregoire wants...so other than that, they've made great progress in the last three months.  Governor Gregoire even said so!

"Throughout this discussion and this session, our leaders in the Legislature have been focused on the budget and its challenges," Gov. Chris Gregoire said during a news conference Friday announcing the special session.
Exactly.  Focused on the Budget and it's Challenges, which is how they found 16 different times to discuss a bill about Shark Finning.  But hey, who am I to argue with the Governor.  Luckily, not everyone agrees with her. 

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, spoke his mind:

"This hasn't been a very successful session, in my opinion, for the taxpayers of Washington," DeBolt said during the news conference. "I would have liked to see us get our job done on time."

By not getting their job done on time, it's going to cost the state an extra $250,000-425,000.  
That's a lot of Shark Fins....or High School Teachers. 

Shel Silverstein FTW

Easter rapidly becoming something of a Christmas-Lite in the commercial world, my wife wanted to buck the trend and get a few small things for the girls, concentrating on handmade items. As such, she got them nice handwoven barrets for their hair, and then t-shirts with a hand embroidered T-Rex and Mermaid. Feeling I owe it to the economy to spend some cash on something, I gave in to the crush of commercialism and bought them the original Bambi DVD, and, in an inspired decision, the 30th Anniversary Edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein.

My older daughter has not put that book down more than 5 minutes in the last day. I think that she spent a full hour yesterday afternoon reading poems out of it to her younger sister in their bedroom. The Easter Bunny scored big. I'm glad they liked it as much as I remember liking it as a kid.

While the kids were enjoying their new book, it led to a 'discussion' between my wife and I regarding Mr. Silverstein's status. I swore he was still alive and kicking, and my wife was pretty sure he had passed away. A quick trip to Wikipedia, where nothing is ever wrong, revealed my wife was right...passed away back in 1999.

What I didn't know about Mr. Silverstein is that he was also a song writer, and actually won a Grammy back in 1970 for writing... 'A Boy Named Sue' for Mr. Johnny Cash!!!!?!?!?  

Never would have guessed that in a million years, although now that I have the data, it makes perfect sense, and feels right. 

Shel is also responsible for writing what I consider one of the top 5 most depressing stories of all time...'The Giving Tree'.  This story doesn't become sad until you are a parent, and I am at the point where I can not read it to my girls anymore without a box of tissues available.

I'm sure he would be proud to see himself making a bog impression on another generation.  A guy can't ask for much more out of life. 


Different Ways of telling a story.

We have been going to our new church on Richland for about three months now.  We have only skipped out one weekend we were actually in town, and that was the day after the big Sharefest volunteer event, when both my wife and I were too sore from helping build community garden plots at a park to even think of moving.  I'm sure that the church smelled quite a bit like Ben-Gay that day.

It's a nice church...and the Pastor has a very engaging way about him.  As I have previously stated, I was raised just Jewish enough that I am not sure I will ever get the 'Jesus' thing. Faith like that is beyond my current grasp.  Even without the faith though, I acknowledge that the Pastor at this church is a very engaging speaker, and even without the faith component, his sermons usually have a good message that any Proper Human Being should already be following.

This time of year if one of the tougher ones for me to sit there quietly...because, well, Lent and Easter ARE all
about Jesus, and, for the life of me, anytime talk turns to The Easter Story...I can only think of the way I learned the Easter Story...courtesy of Andrew Lloyd Weber, with Carl Andrews riding down on the crane hook, to set Jesus straight.

As a confession, 'traditional' Broadway fans must hate someone like me.  I grew up on the huge, over the top Cameron Macintosh and Andrew Lloyd Weber shows...and Jesus Christ Superstar easily makes my top 5...both on stage, and as one of the best musicals to be put on film. 

Personally, my favorite song from the show, is Heaven on Their Minds, which is the song that starts the show off, and portrays Judas not as the bad guy, but just the guy attempting to be the voice of common sense....I guess I like it because it fits more with my slightly Jewish version of things.  While Carl Anderson does a great job in the movie, I feel that the best version of that song was the one from 1970 performed by Murray Head, whose pop culture claim to fame was doing the song 'One Night in Bangkok.'...and having a brother who was in all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Please to enjoy:


Oh yeah, it's always like that here...

Yesterday morning, right on time, the World's Best Nana' touched down at the Pasco airport.  She was met by my wife and girls, who quickly ran off with her to have breakfast at The Spudnut Shop, The Oldest Coffee Shop in Richland.  Their big claim to fame is making their doughnuts with potato flour, which does give a subtly different flavor and mouth feel.  They are tasty, but what doughnut isn't?  I would say they are better than a store brand, much better than Krispy Kreme(not a fan of them at all), and better than a fresh Dunkin's Donut.  However, at the risk of being voted out of the Tri-cities, they are not as good as Larry & Kristi's in Bremerton, or as good as Voodoo Donuts in Portland. 

Following a healthy breakfast, my wife and kids commenced operation Sell Nana on Richland(not that breakfast wasn't part of the plan).  You see...my wife and I are both of the opinion that sooner or later, the World's Best Nana is going to end up living with us, which is fine...welcome even.  As we look at our options for housing out here, one of the things we keep in mind if at the minimum a spare room for Nana...something like a mother-in-law's suite downstairs would be even better.  At this time, my mom isn't quite ready to pack it yet, and I don't blame her.  She enjoys her job(or at least the people she works with) and her friends. 

That's not going to stop us from trying to show her how nice things are here. 

SWMBO and the kids took her to some antique stores, and then they went to one of the local parks, so the kids could play.  The weather did it's best to convince my mom, it being clear, calm and about 64.  When I got home, we went out for dinner, at the Atomic Ale Brew Pub.  It's one of our more favorite restaurants in town, and I couldn't very well go without getting a growler of their Seaborgium 106 Scottish Ale.  Tasty stuff.  It will go good with ham tomorrow.

Today, there is more wining and dining, especially wining.  I volunteered to stay home with the youngin's, while my wife and mom went out cruising some of the local wineries...Bernard-Griffin, Goose Ridge, and maybe a few others.  Once again, the weather is cooperating, even more so...it's expected to top out at about 70 today.  Meanwhile I sacrifice at home. 

If  my sacrifice was fully appreciated, they would stop at Black Heron Distillery, and pick me up a bottle of Ink Vodka. 

Well, it's a less offensive idea than some states

After years of pushing the green option, and offering all kinds of incentives to people to start buying electric and hybrid cars, a light bulb has finally gone off in the heads of some state legislatures, and they have started on a new 'Gollum' acting, lamenting about their precious revenues from gas taxes.

One estimate says that they will lose up to 25 million dollars in tax revenue from people driving hybrids and electrics.  This doesn't even take in to account what they are going to lose as people start driving less or more fuel efficient cars with gas topping $4 a gallon.  Heck, my wife and I have started swapping cars some days.  If she doesn't have anything really 'planned' for the day, I will take the Subaru, and leave her the F-150.  Realistically, the Impreza only gets about 26mpg, but that is better than the 'real world' 18mpg I get in the F-150.  It saves 4-5 dollars a day, which I then turn around and spend on a latte, there-by bringing economic balance to the world.

Needing to get their hands back on their precious tax revenues, members of the legislature have proposed attaching a $100 fee each year to owning an electric car, so each person is responsible for paying 'their fair share' for road upkeep. 

I'm not sure I like the idea of a flat fee, but it's better than what's was proposed in Oregon where the Governor wanted to use GPS to track peoples driving, and charge them accordingly by the mileage they were driving. It's not going over all that well. 

Slightly less controversial than GPS tracking is a plan in some states to self-report mileage off your odometer each year. 

Myself?  I'm more in the pay for use club...if you've got a road that needs maintaining, then put a toll on it. 


Maybe she was just hungry...

Not sure I have much to add to this story, other than a chuckle you might be able to hear if you listen hard enough.

A Vancouver woman spotted driving erratically near Clackamas was arrested Friday on suspicion she was taking hits from a can of whip cream, Oregon State Police reported.

Witnesses reported the woman was swerving in the northbound lanes of I-205 near West Linn about 12:30 p.m. while inhaling from a balloon and a metal canister, said Lt. Gregg Hastings, a state police spokesman.

A trooper saw the vehicle on
82nd Drive near Southeast Lawnfield in Clackamas and tried to pull it over. But the vehicle took off, leading troopers, Portland police officers and a Clackamas County Deputy on an 80-mph pursuit north on I-205 before pulling off the freeway and stopping in a parking lot in the 9900 block of Southeast Washington. Troopers found a whip-cream dispenser and nitrous oxide canisters in the vehicle

Robin R. Wick, 45, was booked into the Clackamas County Jail on accusations of driving under the influence, reckless driving, attempting to elude and driving with a suspended license.

-- The Oregonian
Perhaps more offensive to me than the sweet tooth she couldn't ignore is the driving with a suspended license...that means she has some kind of heinous past history involving cars and driving while intoxicated.  Looks like another one where only pure, blind luck has kept her from ruining a life, or flat out killing someone.

Oy vey.

A couple of days ago, a quick headline blurb caught my attention: 6-year-old has gun in school, 3 children injured.

I was kind of hoping that maybe, because if the comma, the article was going to talk about 2 different occurances...one where it was found a 6-year-old brought a gun to school, and the other where three kids where hurt falling off the Monkey Bars....but no...it really does appear that a kindergarten student brought the gun to school, and at 10:20 it fell out of his backpack and discharged.  Three students, including the one who brought the gun in, we either grazed by the bullet itself, or fragments of the bullet and floor tile.

Either way, thankfully, the injuries were not life-threatening in the least, although the incident did result in one heck of a negative photo op as three children were wheeled out of a school on a stretcher after a shooting. 

Something like this has the same potential to damage the positive momentum the pro-gun side has right now as a mass-shooting.  Someone deciding to be sneaky and do harm with a gun is one thing....a Kindergarten kid 'who doesn't know any better' 'accidentally' bringing a gun to school and hurting someone with it shows back up the 'guns are out of control argument.

I'm not getting all high-and mighty here...there have probably been times when I am getting ready for a range trip, or coming home from a range trip or hunting season when my guns have not been properly controlled at all times.  But...since they were able to walk and talk, by girls have learned 'don't touch without mommy or daddy' and 'if you see a gun out, come get mommy, daddy, or another adult if you are at a friends house'. 

This being Texas, at least a few people get it: 

Kerry Brown, who's son Khoran was one of the other two injured, says this:

"I'm very disappointed and hurt," Brown said. "This is supposed to be an institution of learning and parents need to take better control of their kids."
That pretty much sums it up right there.  Glad your son wasn't hurt worse, Mr. Brown...and glad you see it a child rearing issue and not the fault of the gun. 


Well, it's a week late....

The Tri-Cities Herald had a story today(albeit a short one) about how 'Atlas Shrugged, Pt. 1' is going to beginning showing at one of the movie theaters in Kennewick this weekend.

This is a good thing, because prior to this, it was at least 120 mile drive to Spokane or even further to one to the Puget Sound area to see this movie.

On the other hand, this is kind of a bummer thing, because our Movie Date Night was last weekend...although truth be told, I think there is a better than even chance that 'Hanna' was a more enjoyable movie than 'Atlas Shrugged' might be.

My wife pointed out that the Worlds Greatest Nana is coming for a visit this weekend, and it is almost 100% certain that if we asked, she would have not problem with us going out to see a movie.  It just doesn't feel right to me asking her to stay home and watch the kids one of the two nights she is going to get to see us in the next month or two.

Nope...I pretty much have already relegated 'Atlas Shrugged' to the Wait for Video Category.  If I feel the need to 'Vote with my Wallet', then I will by the DVD instead of renting it.  Even if my mom volunteered to watch the girls this weekend, I still can't say my wife and I would go see this movie...the urge to do something hip and cool like karaoke might be overwhelming.  


Too much power? Who'd have thunk it!

For the last week or so I have been following the type of story out here in the Great Pacific Northwest that can help explain why the rest of the world must hate us. 

You see, the Bonneville Power Administration, which is responsible for the generation and distribution of power from all the dams on the Columbia, and the Columbia Generating Station Nuclear Power Plant, recently attempted to tell a bunch of the Johnny Come Lately Wind Power Farms that they might have to limit power production later on this year.  It seems that with all the precipitation this winter, the snow pack is deeper than usual this year, and a deeper snow pack means more run off.  More run off means more water volume in the rivers, which means more power generated by the Dams along the Columbia River. 

So much power in fact, that there is not expected to be enough grid capacity to properly handle all the power that could be generated by the dams, wind farms, and other power plants operating at full capacity.  BPA, which has very lucrative deals with Puget Sound Energy to provide power to Seattle and it's suburbs feels that is the priority.  The wind farms, with lucrative deals to get power to California, Montana and elsewhere, feel that is the priority.  Since BPA owns something like 75% of the grid in the Northwest, it kind of gives them them upper hand. 

No one is immune to pressure though, and BPA has already withdrawn it's plan to limit the Wind Farms.  Of course...they don't have another plan in place yet, and water levels can only get so high behind a dam before houses start going underwater. 

Glad our current apartment is 250 feet above the Columbia...

Never Bet Against A Sicilian When Death Is On The Line

So, last night, for some reason only another married couple would truly understand, the pre-nighty-night conversation between my wife and I ended up on the subject of 'Gidget'.  I think it's because she said she was no Ann Margret, but I said she could be a young Sally Fields. 

Of course, something like this can't be taken just for the compliment it was meant to be.  It turned into a discussion of which 'Gidget' I liked better...Sally Fields, or one of the ones that came earlier.  Obviously having learned no lessons in the previous 10 years of our marriage, I took the stand that no one had played Gidget prior to Sally Fields, going as far as to bet my wife a quarter, and public acknowledgment if she was right.

Today, she presented me with the evidence that not one, not two, but THREE actresses had previously played Gidget before Sally Fields played the part on T.V.  Now, if I was a glutton for punishment, I would plead with the court that my bet with her covered Gidget on T.V., and not in movies, but sometimes it is better to wave the white flag, and admit your wife is right.

For the record, now that I have been presented with all the evidence, I have to say that I find 'Sandra Dee' Gidget a bit easier on the eyes than Sally Fields.


Cashing In.

A few weeks ago, as silver was fluttering somewhere between $38 and $39 an ounce, I made a tough decision to sell off some of my silver.  Normally, selling something for $38 that you bought for $12 should not be a tough decision, but, in this case, it forced me to make a decision on why I had bought the silver.  Was I a collector/investor or was I prepping?
Adding to the internal confusion is the fact that my silver stash does not resemble that of a ‘prepper’.  I don’t have rolls of 90% silver dimes, quarters and American Eagles…I have pretty coins from around the world.  At one point my goal was to have  the complete collection of 1oz Kookabura’s, and 2oz Silver Lunar’s.  I went this way early in my silver collection because I felt it would be easier to get SWMBO to go along with it if I bought pretty things.  And it was…of course, if my wife had the attitude back then that she does now, we would have bags of whatever had the lowest premium stashed around the house instead of paying a markup for Chinese Panda’s or British Britannia’s.  They are pretty though.
I rationalized liquidating some things by saying I was ‘cleaning’ up my collection…getting rid of some duplicate coins, and a few 5 ounce bars.  With the soft, paper money I got from the sale of that silver, I have done good things, getting a good start on some nice 72-hour back-packs, laying in some food grade buckets with gamma lids from Win-Co, and setting some of the cash aside for a PMR-30(alas, I am STILL number 17). 
Now, with silver fluctuating between $43 and $44 an ounce, I am weighing another sell off…this one is an easier decision though.  A few year ago, while trying to decide on purchasing some more silver, I couldn’t decide between a few rolls of Eagles or 10oz bars.  With a mental coin flip, I ordered some 10oz bars, knowing that this would represent more of an investment-type purchase than a ‘prepper’.  From a prepping standpoint, I’ve never planned on putting 4 or 5 pounds of silver bars into a back-pack and running around the country side with them.  Although, if I was, then these cool Barter Bars by Stage Couch Mint look mighty neat.
I’m not sure what exactly is on the list to be purchased with this money, when I decide to sell…I know we need new sleeping bags, and I have heard REALLY good things about the Military Modular Sleep System…which isn’t cheap, but it might be worth splurging for two of them…then, getting normal bags for the girls, so we can just play mix and match should the need arise. 


Losing track of the time

Easter weekend will be our first time hosting a house guest since moving to Richland, as the World's Great Nana comes for a visit.  While she is only staying for the weekend(flying in Friday AM, leaving Monday AM) we are all very excited.  With round trip plane tickets Seattle to Pasco coming in around $170, and gas prices creeping ever upwards, taking the plane makes sense for one person.  The girls are jonesing their Nana, and didn't know if they could wait another two weeks to see her.  

While walking onto church this week, there were little girls standing out front handing out palm fronds.  Not being the religious type, I asked my wife what the purpose of the vegetation was.  She explained that she had seen it done before on Palm Sunday.  A light bulb went off for both of us...if this was Palm Sunday, that meant Easter was only 1 week away, not two.

I'm not sure how we misplaced a week, or lead ourselves to believe that there were still two weeks until Easter, but we did.  Commence Operation Get Organized in the Apartment.    I spent part of my Sunday splitting the 25 pound bag of oatmeal we bought at Win-Co into 1 gallon bags, then placing O2 absorbers into those 1 gallon bags, then placing 4 bags of oatmeal and a few bags of beans into a 5 gallon bucket with more O2 absorbers.  I know mylar would have been better than plastic 1 gallon bags, but we could not find any in any local stores, and with my moms visit now only a week away, we didn't have time to wait for mylar bags to show up in the mail. 

In truth, my wife will have the place squared away and looking ship-shape by Wednesday....but we had to put the plan to sort through summer clothes and pack up winter clothes on hold for a week.  Can't have this place looking like a laundry bomb went off...although it would give the Easter Bunny plenty of places to hide eggs. 



Last night being the 3rd Saturday of the Month meant it was Move Night for the wife and I. We have always been pretty good about enjoying being parents, but still making 'Us' time.  The Greater Tri-Cities YMCA offers something they call Parents Night Out on the third Saturday of every month.  Bring your kids down to one of the local elementary schools, and drop them off from 6-10pm.  They get to play with other kids in a supervised environment, and parents get away.  Cost for the 4 hours is 12 bucks a kid, which is much less than I pay when we use to get in home baby-sitters.

A nice thing about this is that our kids after being cooped up in the apartment, our kids are just as excited to go run around and be crazy as we are to drop them off. 

Usually, this 4 hour time frame is just enough to visit a store or two and see a movie.  We tried doing dinner and move once, but it was awfully close on time.  One negative over a home baby-sitter is you can't just call and say you are running a bit late.

Originally, I had thought that this Movie Night was going to be all about 'Sucker Punch'...but it is already out of the theaters around here.  Bummer.  'Atlas Shrugged' would have required driving two hours to Spokane, which wouldn't have left much time for a movie, so we settled on 'Hanna', which looked like an interesting movie.  And it was.

I want to say it was pretty standard suspense, chase, find the answers type fare...with the exception being it wasn't Matt Damon or Jason Statham doing the butt-kicking, it but a 16-year old girl, played very well by Saoirse Ronan, who is also in 'Atonement' for which she recieved a Golden Globe and Oscar Nomination, and 'The Lovely Bones' for which she should have been nominated.  That's a pretty steep career trajectory for someone who isn't even 17 yet.  Oh...and she is rumored to have a role in The Hobbit.  Sky's the limit.

Hanna is a 16-year old girl being raised 'tough love' style by Eric Bana in Northern Finland.  Totally isolated from the outside world, we learn that Eric's character is training her for...something.  Specifically, she is being crafted as a tool for his revenge.  Eric Bana is a fine actor, and is much more menacing in this role than in 'Munich'.

It doesn't take long to find out that the target of his revenge is Marissa Viegler, played by Cate Blanchett, who is channeling an early X-files Dana Anderson, if Scully had been a cold-hearted killer.  She is also well cast, in that I can not picture anyone else playing that part after seeing her do it.  We know Marissa is the bad guy because she works for the CIA(mean old American's) and burns files...oh, and brushes her teeth too much.

The ending is abrupt, and not an overly Hollywood-ized Happy Ending. 

Don't want to give too much of the plot away...it's a good movie, and with the acting and action, I would probably give it 4 stars out of 5...except for one scene.  About 25% of the way into the movie, there is an action sequence where it feels like you have fallen into a techno dance club for about 5 minutes...too much base, too much strobing of lights on the screen.  My wife actually had to look away, because she said it was making her nauseous.  That scene alone knocks it down to 3.75 out of 5 stars.

It is worth seeing. 


I am Number 17.

Initially, I was a little concerned that I was going to be the important person in the world who didn't give 'Buy-a-Gun' Day the respect that is deserves, but, a quick little trip around the internet machine at the blogs I frequent shows that I might actually be in the majority.

For the most part, it seems like the people that did honor Buy A Gun Day used it to add accessories and such: caliber conversion kits, some got new optics, and some people cupcakes that sound so good, I would stick my arm in the garbage disposal for one.

Currently, there are only two or three guns I feel the urge for...a new AR for the wife, a decent 'shooter' Garand from CMP, and I just can't get rid of this itch for the PMR-30.  Well, at this current juncture, there are other things we needed more than a new AR...but the PMR-30 is within reach.

If only there were any available to reach for.  Instead I went down to ACE and got myself added to the waiting list...I am Number 17 there, and number 23 at Ranch and Home in Kennewick. 

Guess we will revisit this in 6 months. 

Hmmm....only twice?

Two nationwide restaurant chains, Applebee's and Olive Garden find themselves on the horns of dilemma after two separate occasions where young children ended up with alcoholic drinks in their cups instead of the juice they had ordered. 

At Applebee's(and frankly, I can't think of a better place for this to happen to...not a big Applebee' fan), a 15-month old ended up with margarita mix and alcohol in his cup, instead of apple juice.   At Olive Garden(and, I'm more sad about this one, because occasionally I do get a jones for overly sauced and cheesed Italian-style food) a 2-year old ordered orange juice, and got sangria. 

Oops.  My bad.  So, of course, because this has happened twice in less than 3 weeks, we have a terrible problem.  An epidemic of under-age toddler drinking.  Mostly, my emotion at this runs somewhere between mild upset and jealousy. 

I'm finding it hard to work up seriously good rage at this issue, because I know even now, with a 5 year old and an 8 year old, if they get a beverage that comes out in an closed, opaque container, my wife and I will check to make sure it's what we ordered.  I think I could tell the visual OR olfactory difference between apple juice/margarita and orange juice/sangria.  So..somewhat bad on the parents.

The jealousy comes in because I can't rememeber the number of times I begged my wife to let me give my toddler aged daughters just a tiny bit whiskey to take the edge of one of their inconsolable moments.  Alas, as the voice of reason, she always told me no, so the whiskey usually ended up self applied.

Now...lets look at this whole thing a bit deeper.  My dad is a good man, and a good dad.  His only real shortcoming is a lack of 'Yoda Like' wisdom dispensed in sound bite form.  I can remember one occasion though, where I was talking about some people that had gotten in trouble(and severely disciplined) at a prior job for playing fast and loose with time-cards and such. 

He listened to my story(because some of the guys were friends) and at the end asked me, 'Who'd they learn it from?'   When I asked him for clarification, he said 'These guys HAD to learn this from someone'  and then he finished with one of his rare 'Yoda' moments that have stuck with me.  'Son...very few people get caught the first time.'  

Very few people get caught the first time.  This applies to many, many things.  If you do get a speeding ticket, it's probably not the first time you sped.  If your wife cuts your wee-wee off for sleeping around, it probably wasn't the first time you did so. 

If you serve kids alcoholic beverages TWICE in THREE WEEKS and get negative national press...it's probably not the first time kids have ended up with alcoholic beverages. 

There just might be a whole bunch of parents who were wrong when they thought their kids were quite moods were caused by a 'food coma' after visiting a notable national chain restaurant. 


A day in the truck.

Got the 'productive' portion of my day bright and early today, busting out four loads of laundry at the local laundromat before 8:45 this morning.  That left the rest of the day available for goofing off with the family.
Since we were going to be road tripping already, we threw in a little detour to 'Gravity Hill', located in Prosser.  Many places stake a claim to having a 'gravity hill'...an area where you can put you car in neutral, and all your senses tell you you are rolling uphill.  It was pretty neat...it really did feel like you were rolling 'uphill'.  I'm not sure I would make the 4 hour drive from Seattle to experience it..but it was easily worth a half-hour detour.

Our primary goal for the day was driving down to the town of Bickleton, to look at a piece of property that had held our interest for a while: This nice looking 20 acres with a yurt.  While we were not able to locate the actual property in question, there were several other parcels of land in the area that looked nice, and were priced similarly to this, and, the trip was still worth the drive...this was a part of the state neither my wife or I had been to before, and so I was very curious what it was like.  I like it a lot...it's in the eastern foothills of the Cascades, and reminds me a lot of what you would find around Natchez or Ellensburg.

Having talked things over a bit, my wife and I are both comfortable making the decision to buy vacation/bug-out now, even if it means that we may keep renting for another 18-24 months while we build our saving back up again.  The only real problem is that I am not sure if jumping into buying property is the right thing to do at this juncture...this juncture being we still have a house on the market.  My big concern is that we go buy this property, and then we get an offer on our house that is for sale, and we find out during inspections that something heinous will need fixing to actually sell the house...and so...I'm a scaredy pants right now. 

Instead of doubling back from Bickleton, we took a big loop, going south into Goldendale, then back up through Satus Pass(3100 feet) to Yakima, before hitting Prosser again for dinner, then coming home.  Because it was April, and we were driving through a Mountain Pass...we did get to see some snow coming down.  Yay!  But, the kids got a kick out of it..  The kids(and the parents) also liked dinner.  We stopped at the Whitstran Brewing Company's Brewpub, and it was very tasty.  It probably deserves it's own review. 

The only real negative from the day was the fact that the round-trip burned $80 worth of gas...but, even if the rest of the day had been miserable, finding myself at this cross-roads would have made it all worth while:

Another Nominee for Parents of the Year.

Details of this story Police Check Leads to Discovery of two Caged Boys at Vancouver Apartment began to come out yesterday.  As more details come out today, it is a stomach churning, heart-wrenching story.

First off...much blessing and goodwill to the unnamed 'maintenance worker' who first alerted authorities to the conditions in the apartment.   There is a quote commonly credited to Edmund Burke:  All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.  The historical accuracy of this quote can be questioned...it's real world truthfulness can not.  I don't feel even the least bit hypocritical praising this 'maintenance worker' either...My opinion that government should leave people alone does not extend to locking children in cages.

So...maintenance worker must have gone into the apartment for something, and noticing the sub-human conditions with children present, he notifies Child Protective Services.  CPS attempts to make a visit, but no one answers the door.  CPS can hear something in the apartment, so Police cooperation is obtained to perform a Welfare Check.

I've often said I could not do the job that a police officer is required to do.  Just reading the section where Officer Skeeter describes what she found makes my skin crawl:

Down a hallway, Skeeter could see a child's small arm sticking through a barred cage panel that replaced a bedroom door.  
Skeeter's police report noted that the apartment had a filthy floor, boxes of garbage and pop cans strewn about, dirty dishes and little to eat in the kitchen.  
Skeeter walked down the hall and spoke with Higdon's 9-year-old, who said the 5- and 7-year-olds were rarely let out of their room. A child's gate and a heavy blanket covered the lone window, and there were no lights on.  
Skeeter peered into the dark and saw the two boys in diapers, smelling of urine. They appeared to share a small, dirty matress. Both communicated by moaning.

I would not have blamed Officer Skeeter one bit if she had had a 'firearm malfunction' at that exact time, removing the 26-year female resident of the apartment from the face of the Earth.  Likewise, I wish the boys birth father, 30-year old John Eckhart, had resisted arrest just a little when he returned home that afternoon.

When asked why the boys were locked in a room/cage, at least both pieces of trash had consistent answers:

"They can't be controlled. This is the only way I can contain them," Skeeter's report quoted Higdon(the 26-year old fiancee) as saying.
Loving Dad said:

“What am I supposed to do, let them run around the house and get into everything? What kind of f…ing parenting is that? How f…ing stupid are you? I don’t want them getting into everything, duh. They are both autistic.”
What kind of parent indeed.  I can't even imagine having the gall to take the 'Self-Righteous' approach in this situation.  My wife's mom works in group homes for the State of Connecticut...there are a lot of autistic people she works with that are not locked in cages.

Meanwhile, the boys birth mother finally made an appearance Wednesday afternoon.  30-year old Jona Bronson appears to be quite shocked by all this going on with her children, who she hadn't seen for OVER A YEAR.

What a joke.  Mom and dad where never married, and mom says that when her and the Worlds Most Amazing Man split up, she let the boys stay with their dad because either: 1. she didn't want to disrupt the boys routine or 2:

“When I decided to leave, he told me if I took the kids, he would either kill himself or he would kill me and the kids. And so I did what I felt was right for them but at the same time I can see that I didn’t, and I’d like to make it right. I would really love to make it right, because I love them and would sell everything I own for them if I could. I just didn’t know the first step.”
It all depends on which story you read.  Either way...WTF!?!?!?!?!??!?  Mom voluntarily left her two autistic kids with a guy she was breaking up with because he was a controlling druggy, but leaves her kids when he threatens to kill either himself or the kids?  How much better off would the world have been if he HAD killed himself after she left with the kids?

I might be reading too much in, but it seems to me Jona wanted the heck out of a bad situation, and couldn't care less what was happening to those kids.  She DIDN'T CARE ABOUT SEEING THEM FOR A YEAR!!!!!!!!  But now, this has serious interview/book/and movie potential...who wouldn't want kids that can earn you money!

I just hope the 11-month old that was found in the apartment is salvageable...no one else involved with this story is.


Bug-out Bag Bootie!

Very pleased with Amazon.com right now.  Placed an order Sunday evening for some things to get a long-overdue jump-start on our bug-out bags, and a box with 5 of the 6 items showed up today. 

The internet is cool.

A painfully much more detailed review of the individual items will follow, but let's see what we have. 

A Coleman Exponent stove, which I chose over smaller, lighter stoves because of it's ability to run on Coleman Fuel, Unleaded Gasoline, OR Kerosene.  That flexibility could prove useful at some point, and is well worth an extra couple of ounces.  Maybe we'll put that in my wife's bag.

Next to that is an MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter.  I chose that over one of the other MSR or Katadyn filters because you can remove the ceramic filter, clean it, and use it some more.  The little red box behind the filter is a maintenance kit, that contains extra gaskets/or-rings.  Figure it might come in handy to have spares like that. 

Finally, I purchased two different 'compact' multi-tools...a Leatherman Squirt PS4, and a Gerber 'Bear Grylls' Compact Multi-tool.  I purchased two of them so that my wife could figure out which she likes better...my initial feeling though is that each might be more 'compact' that I thought they would be...more pocket sized than bug-out sized.  In fact, SWMBO has already said she can't wait to put the Leatherman on her key-chain...which might make the decision about which one goes in the back-pack easier. 

If anyone needs me, I'm going to be in the bathroom, playing with my new filter.  SWMBO won't let me siphon gas out of my truck to play with the stove. 


I (heart) Boobies too!

Yesterday, a Federal Judge ruled that the cute little pink Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelets that say 'I (heart) Boobies' is neither lewd or vulgar, and students can not be banned from wearing them on that basis.  The school in question also failed to demonstrate that the bracelets represented a sufficient distraction to other students to earn them banning.  The judge pointed out the school didn't help their own case by using the word 'boobie' while announcing the ban over the intercom.  If it is too bad a word to wear on a bracelet, they should have come up with an alternate for their announcement. 

Well, it should be pretty obvious to anyone that I, as both a lover of freedom and a man who appreciates the risk that breast cancer represents not to just to the boobies of women I love, but to their very lives, I am okay with this ruling.  100% behind it in fact.  Now...if the young ladies in question were causing a distraction in class by waving their arms around, drawing undue attention to themselves...then they should have faced the normal discipline that anyone else doing that at school would have gotten.  But, banning the bracelets seems like a bad overreaction that has now been corrected.

The facts in this article that most caught my eye had to do with some of the dates involved.  Initially, the judge heard testimony from the girls and the school district back in December, and the article is careful to point out that the ruling this week is a preliminary one, resulting in an injunction, while the case waits to go to a full trial.

That's kind of crazy.  It took this judge 40 pages and almost 4 months to deliver a PRELIMINARY judgement?  In this case!?!?!?!?!??!?! 

I'm glad she arrived at what I think is the correct decision...but that timeline/effort level seem to be a bit excessive. 

Strange, I thought a baby would cost more...

It's not funny, but trying to have a sence of humor is the only thing keeping me from getting in a car and driving to Indianoplis to hurt these people.  In truth, this story is so full of fail that it's disgusting. 

The only bright spot I can find anywhere in the story is that at least the biological mom agreed not to be intoxicated when she came by for her weekly visits. 

Even worse, I'm sure this is neither the 1st, or the last time this has happened.  But, it better be the last for these 4 in-duh-viduals.

Stop picking on me!

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is a Washington D.C. based lobbying/PR group that represents the interests of mayors from city’s with a population of over 30,000 people.  Today, I read a rather entertaining article about how an increasing amount of mayors are feeling all kinds of picked on because the number of recall elections increased from 23 in 2009, to 57 in 2010.  Of the 57 that faced recall, 15 of them either were recalled, or resigned prior to being recalled.  That’s a .264 average, which isn’t bad for a power hitter…and I think we can consider getting a bad mayor out of office a home run.
The best part?  According to the mayors, it’s all our fault. 
Tom Cochran, Director of the Conference, identified the enemy: 
‘Today we have the social media.  The bloggers are out there every night and every day.’ 
Yup…you should see the watch bill we had to make up.  Enough patting on the back though…while all most of the article did was whine about poor picked on mayors, there was a little section that talked about WHY some of these mayors were being recalled, and it’s worth discussion, and further looking into.
The mayors in question say they are being target for being realists…raising taxes and cutting budgets.  Akron’s mayor, who survived a recall last year, made a pretty good point:
"Do you want mayors who take the positions that are necessary to do the right thing for the community, or do you want to listen to the naysayers?"
Mr. Cochran suggested that maybe a simple majority voting for a recall might be too low…and stab out my eyes…I think I agree with him.  In this time of impending financial ruin, sometimes a mayor is going to have to do things that make him unpopular…and he should not get voted out of office just for being unpopular.  Unpopular and stupid?  Well…let’s consider the case of former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez . 
Mr. Alvarez made himself unpopular by raising property taxes 12%, which made him unpopular AND stupid, because previously he had given some of his staffers pay raises, and un-froze their benefits.  Asking for more money while spending more money is Not Smart. 
Norman Braman, who spent more than 1 million of his own money, leading the charge to get Alvarez recalled expressed his opinion of what the Conference of Mayors was doing:

"They should try to improve the quality of the mayors they represent instead of trying to protect them,"  "These are difficult times, and it's not time to raise taxes and give staff salary increases. That's what it was all about. If the mayors were more responsible to the needs of the county, they wouldn't need to face the risk of a recall."
Not sure I could say it much better.



Privacy is a touchy kind of thing.  When I first started blogging, I was very uncertain how much I wanted to put out in the open as far as names, either of people or places. 

To clear things up right up front using Navy terminology, when it comes to computers and the internet, I am very much an Operator, and not a Technician.  On the computer, I am pretty much limited to what Window's will let me do...I'm not the type that knows how to 'work around' the system.  On the internet itself, I was smart enough to figure out how to start using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.  That's about it for me. 

What I'm getting at is I realize how silly it is to think that by not using actual names, I am actually protecting myself.  I am 100% certain that just by registering to use blogger, a computer savvy someone could have figured out who I am, and with only a little more work have given you my address and credit rating.  Being vague is not going to stop that from happening. 

Why be vague then?  Or more correctly put....since I agree that with minimal work someone could figure out exactly who and where I am, what am I trying to protect myself from?  Well...put away the tin-foil...I'm really not trying to protect myself from The Man.  I am worried about maintaining my gainful employment. 

A month or two ago, TJIC reinforced for a lot of us that what you say on the internet can and will be used against you in the real world.  My concerns when I first started this blog is that...I like to rant.  Most of the bloggers I read seem to have that same trait.  Luckily for me, while I don't always have the best internal filter, I do have an amazing wife who will act as my 'sanity check' if I get a little too extreme...so, I'm really not worried about the Po-Po's showing up to take all my guns based off something I put on my blog.

So, while I am not likely to run off too much inciting violence, I have been known to head down the dark path of railing against certain government policies.  I know, this is a common past time for many people, so I am not unique in this hobby...but, I am somewhat concerned that my position as someone employed by the Federal Government might expose me to a risk that others wouldn't face.  Paranoid maybe?  Sure...but it's not like it doesn't happen. 

Conflicting with my desire to shield myself from firing because I pick on The Man's Spending Habit's is my desire to show off my amazing family.  Which is why I talked to my wife today about wanting to be able to post pictures of her beautiful self for her birthday.  And she agreed that it was unlikely any additional people would stalk us than already are just based of putting pictures of her and the kids on my blog that is viewed by fewer people than look at my facebook everyday.

Look at us, living dangerously!

Happy Birthday, Beautiful!

In the past, on this blog, I wished a happy birthday to many talented, beautiful women, such as Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch, and Better Midler.  One of the things I often stress with these women is how gracefully they have aged, and as a corollary to that, how they do not appear to be their calendar ages. 

Today, we welcome to their ranks a very special woman...none other than SWMBO...my wife. 

This picture was taken two weeks ago as we waited for a bus, in Portland.  Notice the effective use of time.  She had the foresight to pack some crocheting to work on while we waited.  Me?  I had to chase pigeons to occupy myself.  

For as long a I can remember, she has looked younger than her actual age.  I on the other hand, due to grey hair going in on my goatee about age 29, have looked older.  This was especially obvious when she was pregnant with our 2nd daughter.  She was 26 going on 19, while I was 31 going on 42...I used to get some very critical looks walking into the doctors office with her.  The looks became 'burst into flame' glares when she revealed she already had a 4 year old at the baby-sitters. 

Even now, if we happen to go out someplace and she decides to wear a minimum amount of makeup, she looks more like an older sister than a mom.

I'm truly a luck man.  If I had a larger following, I would attempt some sort of 'guess her age' poll to rub in how young and beautiful she is...but all the would do is emphasize how lucky I am that she chose me.

Happy 31st Birthday, babe. 


Used to be...

Once upon a time, there was a saying: 'Cash is King.'

It's kind of how my wife and I have always tried to live our lives...whenever possible, we have used cash to make our purchases.  If we knew we were going to buy something like a new TV, or beds, we would just maximum ATM withdrawal's for a couple of days, then go buy what we wanted to buy. 


I don't know...if I had to rationalize it I would say it made spending the money 'more real'.  My opinion was that checks and credit cards divorce you from what you are actually spending.  Did we occasionally get some strange looks, like the time I pulled out $750 cash to pay for a new T.V at Best Buy?  Oh sure...but, it does say 'legal tender' on the bill.

Today when my wife dropped the Subaru off for it's body work, she asked the lady working the front desk if they offered a cash discount.  My wife said there was a few minutes of stunned silence before the lady answered 'ma'am...you owe enough money to buy your husband a new AR and 500 rounds of ammo!'(well, that wasn't what she said).  My wife acknowledged that, but said the bank was right down the road, and she was more than willing to stop if there was a discount for cash.

Alas, there was no cash discount...it could just be the auto-body shop didn't want large amounts of cash on their premises overnight.

Maybe they need an armed security guard.

Bugaboo Camper

Due to events unfolding around us(the earthquake /tsunami in Japan, our narrowly averted Budget Disaster, the still increasing price of metals/commodities, and a general feeling we have that some pretty drastic inflation is right around the corner) my wife and I decided it was finally time to address a glaring weakness in our preparation for unpleasant events.
It pains me to admit this publically, but as I sit here writing this…we do not have Bug-Out-Bags ready to go.  We were pretty good early on at ensuring that my wife had a decent kit for her car: Water, Flares, Food, Blankets, a few lighters…all the things you might need if you drifted off the road into a snow bank on some mountain road and had to wait a week for someone to find you.  Likewise, we are decently prepared to hole up at the apartment for a few months…it’s simply our ability to quickly vacate the premises under less than ideal circumstances in a smooth, stress free manner that is not currently satisfactory. 
Having recently taken advantage of the increase in the price of silver to do some liquidating, it seems that the best thing to do with that cash is to finally get some really nice B.O.B’s organized.  The first step was my wife buying us a nice set of Kelty back-packs for our anniversary gift.  Then, my favorite part…research about what to put in the back-packs.
Youtube is full of videos of people showing off their B.O.B’s, Get Out Of Dodge bags, 72-Hour kits…whatever you want to call them.  A large percentage of them are survival minded individuals, and they look like they are heading out to reenact Red Dawn.  My wife and I decided that for us and our two girls that is not a realistic outlook.  More realistic would be having to hit the road unexpectedly and end up in a nasty motel, or pulling onto some back roads up into the hills, and using the car as a base camp. 
With this in mind, we have started picking things up, and my goal is to spend the money for quality merchandise…not to pick on certain brands, but I don’t want a back-pack full of Coughlans stuff I’m relying on when I really need it. 
The first major purchase for us was the GSI Bugaboo Camper cook set.

From a view point of weight and size, I’m not going to say it represents the ultimate in outdoor technology, but for something that is about 10 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep…I’m impressed.

You get a lot of stuff in that small package.  An non-stick 8-inch frying pan, a 2 liter AND a 3 liter pot, 4 plates, 4 cup/bowl combo’s and the carrying sack is supposed to be sealed so you can use it as a wash-basin! 
With the disclaimer being that I haven’t actually used this set yet…I like it.  I think I might invest in a 2nd handle…it comes with one handle that unfolds and can be used on any of the cooking pans…it might be nice to have a 2nd.  Also, the cup bowl combo is neat, but you would run into problems if you were having a hot beverage and a hot bowl of soup…only one piece of each set is insulated with a neoprene sleeve, so only one hot thing at a time, per person. 

The one other problem is that this item, while a marvel of space saving, is not tiny, once you start putting stuff in back-packs..and it is all of our eggs in one basket.  They had a smaller set, just the two liter pot and 2 cups, and I thought about buying two of them…one for my back pack and one for my wife’s, so if we lost one of our bags were would at least have SOMETHING…but truthfully, if we misplace my bag, we are really screwed.  I might put some kind of smaller, secondary cook gear in my wife’s bag just so were are not entirely up a creek if one bag gets lost/stolen, but, it won’t be as nice as this one.
Sometime I will use this…we plan to try to take things out of our B.O.B’s  for camping trips and such…make sure things work like they are advertised before it’s too late to fix it if they don’t. 
The important thing is getting these items back into the B.O.B’s as soon as possible upon our return home.

And finally, because everything fits together so nicely, there is no spare storage area to put our sporks!  I bought some nice looking sporks for the family, and there is no way to store them with the cook set.  I can’t really blame this on the cook set…it’s just a little frustrating.


Uniquely Hilarious

Or Hilariously Unique.  Either way it quite perfectly describes the movie my wife and I watched last night...the 'mockumentary' Best in Show.

I enjoyed this movie WAY more than I thought I would, and my wife deserves 100% of the credit.  Other times we had discussed watching this movie, I usually got my 'who farted?' look, and we would agree on something else...not nearly enough guns, explosions, or fart jokes to be something I would be interested in watching.  Luckily, my wife is stubborn.  Last night she decided to start watching it, and I said fine...you go ahead and watch it, I'll just play on the computer.  About 5 minutes into the movie, the computer got a lot less interesting. 

It seems a very limiting plot idea for a movie...follow the lives of several different, very diverse people as they get themselves, and their dogs, ready for a very prestigious dog show.  It's not the plot we are here to watch though...it's the actors, a veritable Who's Who 'Oh That Guys!' and 'Look, it's Her's!'.  And they all do such an amazing job that it's almost painful to watch...because you KNOW these people are out there in the real world. 

Watching bad things happen to Jason Stratham's characters is okay, because that person doesn't exist.  Seeing Eugene Levy end up sleeping in a utility room because his credit card is cancelled is not.  But, because it is Eugene Levy, it's funny. 

I give this movie 4.5 stars...if it could stay as funny as it was, but add in a few explosions, than it would have gotten 5 stars. 

Who'd of thunk it?

As proof positive that Party Names and other such labels are increasingly bunk, I actually find myself nodding my head and agreeing with a piece of legislature introduced by a Democrat...and a New England one at that.

Charlene Lima, a Democrat Representative from Cranston, introduced a bill to do away with traffic checkpoints for Drunk Drivers, saying it 'smacks of a police state' and sober drivers should not have to prove they are sober.

True that. 

The bill is currently out in the Judiciary Committee in Rhode Island, and while it will not effect me 2800 miles away, I wish them luck. 


Neat way to look at it....

Where as I went through life with the 'practical education' route, one of my good friends from High School went the more the 'Formal Education' route: Bachelor's Degree in Statistics and Psychology, Doctorate in Psychology/Applied Statistics, and then did some post-doctoral research before finally settling in as an Associate Professor at a fairly well respected private school in Hell  Ohio. 

Not just educated, he is also smart(which is not always a given when dealing with the formally educated).  Despite all this, he also enjoys professional wrestling and skydiving.  Crazy.  I also give him props for doing the right thing in most elections, and voting for who he believes in, and not just the 'lesser of two evils, even if some years that has meant he voted Green Party before seeing the Libertarian Light recently.

Having established the baseline, I also thank him for this gem that he posted on facebook earlier today, which made our budget situation about 17 times easier to understand than I ever would have been able to:

Putting the current federal budget agreement into context. This would be the equivalent of a family who earns $50,000, but spends $62,700 a year and has racked up $316,200 dollars in debt, agreeing to reduce their annual spending by a grand total of: $680! Yay Government! Way to go.

Thanks Professor!

Another 'kind of' victory.

Lost in the shade from all the 'narrowly avoided potentially catastrophic to our oh so fragile recovery' doom and gloom talk yesterday, comes a slight bit of a bright spot in Arizona, where a bill has made it to the Governor which would allow firearms on college campuses.

Now, this isn't a total victory, as the bill does not allow the carrying of firearms into buildings on the campus...it simply allows them in the streets, parking lots, and sidewalks.  Still, this is a huge step forward...at least you don't need to leave your gun at home to avoid breaking the law.

All Democrats in Arizona voted no, as well as 5 Republican Representatives, who have produced such quotes as:

"I'm extremely troubled by our desire to put weapons on an educational campus," said Rep. Bob Robson, R-Chandler. "It makes absolutely no sense if you've been on a college campus and recognize the emotional highs and lows that students have."


Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, opposed the bill and said it was part of an incremental effort to expand where guns are allowed. "Next year it'll be in the classroom, and then it's only a matter of time before it gets to K-12," she said.

You mean 'incremental' going the other direction?  Yes, Please!

Most of the people against it seem to be taking the same approach...that college kids are already on the verge of mental breakdown to the stress of being away from home...oh, and they are raging alcoholics, which increases their depression.  So, yes...keeping guns off campus would be a much better solution that doing something to reduce alcohol consumption on campuses, especially since most Freshman, Sophomores, and Juniors are probably not even 21 yet...

Not getting alcohol poisoning at college at least once?!?!?  Sorry...didn't to come over all fascist there for a minute.  Just thought maybe we should address the actual problem for a change. 

Silly me.


This is 'victory'?

It appears that in what is quite literally an 11th Hour Deal, some budget agreement has been reached in Washington DC, to avert a potentially catastrophic government shutdown, for at least another 9 months or so. 

I have some friends/former co-workers at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard who are very happy to hear this.  The big topic of discussion for them the last few days was who would be labeled 'essential', vs. who would be given some unpaid time off via a 'furlough'.  Now me, the only thing I know about furloughs is that the guys on Hogans Hero's were always trying to get one.  It didn't seem like most of my friends were as excited about it as the guys in Stalag 13. 

So....yay!?!?!!?  All the folks in D.C. are patting themselves on the back for accomplishing, in Barry's own words, 'the biggest annual spending cut in history', and trimming the budget by 38 Billion dollars.  Although, that isn't really what they did...the cut their request for funding by 38 Billion Dollars, which is a pretty huge number.  Even then, it would take 375 years to pay down a 14.38 TRILLION dollar deficit 38 Billion dollars per year....not accounting for interest.

Oh...and not accounting for the fact that even with cutting their spending request by 38 Billion, they are still going to INCREASE the debt by over 1 TRILLION DOLLARS this year. 

On the plus side, we now won't have to hear about the budget from Main Stream Media outlets for another 9 months, and Barry can get back to campaigning.