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


New and improved, with actual prepping content!

A few months ago, after admitting to ourselves that while my wife had a decent stash of preparedness stuff in her car, we were pitifully under prepared in the Get out of Dodge scenario, we spent some money to jump start ourselves.  One of the things we purchased back then was an Eton Microlink FR160 American Red Cross Radio.  I've been wanting to do a writeup on it for a while, and finally put in the homework this weekend to make it so. 

Yes, Eton's website has better pictures, but mine give it scale.  I guess I could have used something more menacing for scale, but the pudding is what was handy.  Weight on their website is listed at 8.5 ounces, or just slightly more than 2 pudding cups.  

My wife and I previously owned a larger Eton, the FR 500 I believe it was.  I was very happy with the quality of the FR 500, and had great trust going with a more compact model for our bug out kit.  

I was not disappointed.  Quality and ruggedness seem to be good for this radio.  The speaker works fine...your not going to use it for hosting a block party, but it's fine for listening to music while playing on the computer.  If you are worried about keeping it stealthy while listening for the news during a more...fluid situation, there is a jack for ear phones. This particular model has AM, FM and the 7 NOAA Weather Channels. 

The flashlight feature when fully charged, is a decent flashlight.  It's not 'tactical level' brightness, but it works for lighting up a room or a stairwell, reading a map, or finding something else in your backpack. 

For power options, the radio has both a solar power, and a hand crank dynamo.  If I could change one thing about this radio, I would add a power jack.  The FR 500 didn't have the solar power, but it had a DC Adapter Jack.  I miss it.  

Yesterday, I set the radio out on my daughters southern facing balcony, and moved it twice to keep it pointed at the sun.  That adds up to right around 8 hours of direct sunlight on the solar panel.  With the radio on a moderate volume, that juice lasted about 4.5 hours.  

Today, I sat down and cranked the dynamo handle for a timed 5 minutes.  I can't even begin to estimate what RPM I was going at...it was a comfortable, not-break-a-sweat pace...for a WAG let's say 180-240 R.P.M.  For this effort I was rewarded with 64 minutes of sound from the speakers.  

One thing I have noticed, and I'm not sure it's a voltage issue of the charge or what, is that when using the solar panel, you do not get 100% flashlight brightness.  It's bright enough to keep you from tripping over something, but it isn't light up the room bright. 

All in all, for the $35 range, I think this is a good item.  However, for $10-15 more, you can get the Eton Scorpion, which looks even more rugged, has a BOTTLE OPENER FOR BEER, AND has a DC power jack, meaning I don't need to make the girls crank the dynamo just so I can listen to the NOAA weather channels while I try to fall asleep. 

Well, that's a bit different...

For breakfast this morning, the kids voted for pancakes, which are really about as easy as breakfast can get.  Throw a few chocolate chips in with them, and the kids couldn't be happier.  Of course, between syrup and chocolate chips, you have to deal with kids STARTING the day on a sugar rush, but, hey, put them in their room, and then block the door with a 40 pound box of ammo, and that problem takes care of itself. 

I was in search of something a little different, and decided to try something I swear I saw on either Diners, Drive-in's and Dive, or Man V. Food.  You take your pancake, sprinkle in some sausage and/or bacon, and then as it begins to set, you drop an egg in the middle of it. 

Let it go for a bit, then flip it until your egg reaches your desired level of 'set'.  I'm an over medium type of guy.  Butter it up, and drop it on the plate. 

For toppings, I went with syrup instead of hot sauce, and well, it was okay.  It didn't blow me away, but it was heartier(and harder on the heart) than what the girls were having. One of those things I guess I am glad I tried...but, I am not sure I will rush to try it again in a hurry.  Maybe if I had had some left over bacon from yesterday instead of just sausage, it might have been more 'blow me away' factor. 

Going Lower....

Had a de-motivational conversation with our real estate agent yesterday.  On the one hand, we had 4 showings in the last 9 days, so things might appear to be picking up...but 2 of the couples have 'just started' looking, one dismissed the place entirely because we don't have a fenced backyard(the house is placed at the back of the lot...BIG space out front, but no grass behind the house), and the final couple did seem truly interested. 

So yay..but we ended the conversation by talking about lowering the price again, which is something my wife and I had already talked about.  We bought the house almost 7 years ago for 179,000.  We placed it on the market in the middle of last October at 189,000, which was actually less than our agent thought we could get.  In March, we dropped to about 183K and then at the beginning of June, we went down to 178,250, which, yeah, is less than we payed for it once upon a time.  My new job has a fairly generous relocation assistance package, so even allowing for the fact that we took out a $9,000 loan for new windows, we would have come out ahead varying amounts at any of these prices, plus had wiggle room if someone wanted us to help with closing costs.

Dropping our price to $172,000 removes any kind of buffer we had.  The 'barely treading water' we have been doing carrying two residences isn't going to cut it anymore...not with SWMBO's 2004 Subaru Impreza starting to show it's age.  As it is, things are going to be tight at closing.  My relocation assistance is paid out as reimbursement, meaning we will need to come up with a check for roughly 15K at closing.  

I am blessed that we can even afford to do that.

Greed is a horrible thing, and now the 2nd guessing can begin.  Like SWMBO said when we talked about lowering the price to this level...if we had priced aggressively at the beginning, and sold 9 months ago...we would be at almost the same point financially as if we had sold at our initial asking price.

Poop.  Hind sight is 20/20...at the time, we thought we had priced it good.  We had an offer in January at $186,000 that fell through because the buyers couldn't get their loan approved...at that point, things were looking good and we didn't think we NEEDED to be aggressive. 

Can't wait for Barry to fix the economy for us....


Things you can get away with when the wife's out of town.

I am a breakfast fiend.  While I enjoy steak, or a good pasta or pork tenderloin meal, to me, nothing matches the 'feel good' factor of what we call breakfast food, whether it's pancakes, french toast, bacon and eggs, or something more complex(chicken fired steak and eggs being the Unlimited Category Breakfast Champion).  A few weeks ago, I had been talking to one of my buddies about breakfast, and he told me about a casserole he made, and with the wife not being quite as big a fan of breakfast as I am, I seized on her absence as a sign to make it.

First things first are cooking up half a pound of sausage, and half a pound of diced bacon.  Place a layer(although two is better) of not quite all the way cooked tater tots in the bottom of the casserole dish, and then dump the bacon and sausage on top.  Scramble up about 8 eggs, and dump that over the top, and then throw it all in the oven at about 325.  The eggs will take a while to set all the way through...my experience shows about 35-40 minutes.  As Alton Brown would say, running scrambled eggs are not good eats.  About 5 minutes before it's done, dump some cheese of your preference on top.

Since older daughter is not a huge cheese fan, and I am bound and determined to be Cool Dad right now, I only covered half of the dish with cheese.

Before anyone starts calling CPS because I am trying to give my children heart attacks, the girls meal was served with skim milk(grabbed the wrong jug, again...it has blue writing just like the 2%) AND I resisted the urge to make sausage gravy to pour over the whole thing...a little bit of Chipotle Cholula made everything better though. 

Oh, and did I mention only the girls had skim milk?  Daddy broke out a bottle of Ninkasi Brewing Oatis Oatmeal Stout.

What?  It's got oatmeal in it, and oatmeal is a breakfast food!

It was yummy.

Sleeping in.

After my last two active days with the children, I was hopping to sleep in a bit this morning...sleeping in for me being about 7:15, but I left one thing out of the equation.

At 5:30, this is pretty much what happened, although since our cat weighs 17 pounds, he really doesn't need a baseball bat. 


Two days of extreme parenting...

With the wife being out of town, I have set out the last two days to prove I am too a Cool Dad.  Yesterday afternoon, instead of just settling to bring the girls to the pool at the apartment, I loaded them up in the truck and we headed to the new Splash and Play Park at Badger Mountain, in Richland.  Not quite as fancy as a 'Water Park(there are no big fancy slides or wave pools), this Splash and Play Park has the advantage of being free. 

The girls had a blast.

Today, we shifted gears a bit.  As August approaches, true summer is finally threatening to show up in Washington, with temperatures in the mid 90's expected.  I gave the girls the choice of dealing with the heat two ways...either hitting the pool in the afternoon, or having a snowball fight.  They choose the snowball fight, so after breakfast this morning, we hoped in the truck for the 2.5 hour drive to Chinook Pass.  
At a height of 5430 feet, Chinook Pass is located on the north-eastern slope of Mt. Rainier.   They get too much snow to safely keep the pass open all year, and so it typically closes mid-November, and opens again in May.  This year though, they received over 700 inches of snow, and didn't get the pass open until June 23rd...which is the 5th latest opening since the established the road in 1935.  8 miles out from the pass, I was a little worried I might be setting myself up for an epic dad fail...there was not a flake of snow on the ground to be seen. 
It looks like I didn't need to worry:

Most of the rest stop was still under 5-6 feet of snow.  Being not just a cool dad, but also a good dad who doesn't want SWMBO to chastise me, I packed sweat pants and sweat shirts for the girls to put on over their 90-degree clothes. 

I didn't plan as well for myself.

And now, I'm just about worn out being 'active dad'.  I suspect tomorrow might involve many more episodes of 'Just go play in your room' than we have had the last two days.  

Because, that's why

Recently heard from one of my girls in the truck:

'Daddy...why were you so worried about how our hair looked before we left the house, but now you've got the windows of the truck rolled down, and our hair looks all crazy?'

Grrrrrr.  I love their mother dearly...but I'm not sure I can handle three of her...


Last weekend, a couple was riding home from some friends houses on their Harley-Davidson Road King, when they were in an accident with a truck.  Both of them were severely injured...the driver had to have both legs amputated and his spleen removed, while the passenger had one leg amputated and a broken pelvis. 

Bad motorcycle accidents happen all the time.  It's one of the reasons I am a big coward about motorcycles.  Occasionally though, like in this situation, the poor people on the bike are just victims, in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Sometimes, I'm a blood thirsty kind of guy...and stories like this make my blood boil.  The guy who was driving the truck that crossed the center line and wiped out this motorcycle, 33-year old Chad Sehnert, was out on bail for a previous DUI/Eluding Police Pursuit charge, from back at the end of JANUARY!  Dude was hopped up on prescription painkillers back then, crossing the center line and speeding, and the police finally had to use a a spike strip to stop him.  What is he still doing out on BAIL, ruining two peoples LIVES six months later!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??! 


I'm not perfect.  Once upon a time when I was a young sailor, I got lucky.  I drove home under the influence, and made it without getting caught, or hurting anyone.  When I woke up the next morning, I was terrified, because I remembered NOTHING about the trip home.  I read the newspaper to make sure there were no stories about someone running over a cross-walk full of school kids, and inspected my car to make sure there were no new dents.  It wasn't the first time, but it was the worst time.  It was also the last time.  I had been given a 2nd chance, and took it.  Heck, my 2nd chance didn't even require the legal system to let me know I had a 2nd chance....this guy did, and he suffered an epic fail.  He should not need a 3rd chance, and the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for one. 

I volunteer to save the taxpayers all expense.  I'll provide the means, the shovel, and the strong back to dig the hole.

Now, I'm gonna go have a nice Friday with my daughters. 


Science Lesson.

My older daughter enjoys making animals with her tinker toys.  She just came down stairs with this one:

I was very impressed, and told her that I thought that she had made an amazing bird.  
Big mistake.

'Daddy...it's not a bird, it an Archaeopteryx.  As you can tell compared to a seagull, it has a long, bony tail, and the jaw is long and has teeth...it's not a standard beak...and the wings were only strong enough for it to jump from tree to tree.'

Certainly, any person other than I would have been able to see the teeth in the jaw... 

That is only the beginning of the 5 minute lecture I received.  She is an amazing child, and WAY more into dinosaur's and reptiles, and most forms of pre-historic animals than I ever was.  Unlike my parents, who in there defense were 'tolerant' of my interest in dinosaur's, SWMBO and I have decided to let Bella DROWN in dinosaur's if that is her desire.  As long as she continues to learn other things, who are we to not let her indulge her interest. 

If it reaches the point where someday she figures out that being a paleontologist really means spending a lot of time digging in the dirt and eating ramen noodles, than so be it.  She is a pretty big ramen noodle fan anyways....

Oh, Liam...did you really need a paycheck THAT bad?

For most of my life, whenever I have heard that Liam Neeson was going to be in a movie, it was easy to assume: 'Oh, a serious movie...no need to see that'.  Not that he made bad movies(quite the contrary, they were quite good, Schindler's List, Rob Roy, and Nell are all good, good movies) but when I was younger, I didn't always have a lot of use for serious movies. 

Around the millenium, this started to change.  Roles as Qui-Gon Jinn, worlds weakest Jedi, Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins, and the voice of Aslan began to give him some serious 'Entertaining Movie' cred(not that he didn't deserve that already for 'Dark Man').  In, this peaked with the unexpectedly excellent movie 'Taken'.  Neeson nailed it, and was totally spot on in a great role in a great movie. 

Should have stopped there.  I didn't see 'Clash of the Titan' or 'The A-Team' but I didn't hear much good about them.

Today, I found myself watching the newly released trailer for 'Battleship'(based on the game!) and I was unable to look away from the horror, which mean I saw Mr. Liam Neeson in there slumming it with likes of bikini model Brooklyn Decker(not a bad person to slum with...hubba hubba), Rhianna(another hubba hubba I wouldn't mind slumming with) and lots of CGI aliens. 

That's right...the (Based on the game!) movie 'Battleship' has aliens in it.  And it must be about time travel also, because there is screen shot of an Iowa Class Battleship firing a broadside, and the Navy hasn't had an active battleship since the USS Missouri was decommissioned in 1992. 

Given the interest in the genre crossing Cowboys vs. Aliens, I would have been much more interested in a WWII Era Task Force encounters some aliens movie than I am in this piece of feces...

Leaving, on jet plane...

Just waved goodbye to SWMBO...she is heading for the airport in Pasco.  From Pasco, she will fly west to Seattle, then south-east to Dallas, and finally, north-east to Hartford.  Total time in the air is over 8 hours...and total travel time from our front door to her mom's front door will be about 13 hours...so, a good long day.  On Monday, she will get to do it all in reverse, except she is connecting in Chicago instead of Dallas. 

The purpose for all this 'Middle-Class Hating CEO' like whipping back and forth across our great nation is a wedding.  One of my wife's best friends is getting married, and she asked if she could go home for the wedding.  I graciously said yes, sacrificing a new CZ-75 to let her go.  Now, until Monday night, I am all alone with our children. 

I already made mistake number one with them.  Yesterday, my wife took some chicken out of the freezer, but it wasn't thawed in time for using at dinner, so I need to use it tonight.  In an effort to keep the girls involved, I asked them if they would rather have chicken terriyaki or chicken alfredo.   Of course, because they are sisters, I got one vote for each.  We may just have Cocoa Puffs instead...but the girls would probably be okay with that...

They are good kids, and it has the potential to be a fun weekend.  Early in the week, their behavior was not good, and it was looking like things might at the point discipline wise where they were going to spend this weekend sitting in their rooms, staring at the wall, but...things are better.  The hardest thing I should have to deal with this weekend is going to be doing their hair...and luckily enough they are both old enough now to be able to do the basic's themselves.  One of the toughest things about being a father has been dealing with little girls hair...


Everything seems to cost me money...

For quite a few weeks now, my youngest daughter has been playing with her two front teeth, but she just couldn't seem to get them to want to fall out.  We've tried eating all manner of food, but nothing seemed to work...even caramel and taffy.  Finally, my wife decided to take matters into her own hands, or rather, her fingers and some gauze so she could get a good grip.  Both teeth came out.

Inflation being a mother, 1st teeth are currently worth $5...youngest child, being WAY to smart for her own good, asked if these both count as first teeth since they came out on the same day. 

I may have been born at night, kiddo, but it wasn't last night...anyway, I'm not sure it should count at all, since the replacement teeth are already just about in place...but, luckily, she is a good kid...and we even have a tradition here where the lost teeth go on the window sill, so the tooth fairy can just hover outside and conduct the transaction, and not need to root around under the pillow of a slightly sleeping children...


Texas is confusing me....

I'm brazenly stealing this topic from my wife, who earlier today complained about this same topic on her facebook page...

One the one hand, back in June, Judge Jose Longoria sentenced a mother to 5 years probation, with a $50 fine, and ordered the mom to attend a parenting class after the mother was arrested for spanking her two-year old on the bottom.  The mom did not use an item to spank the child, and the spank did not leave a bruise.  The only damning evidence in the case was a red mark left on the girls bottom and noticed by the child's grandmother.  Details are lacking on the time elapsed between the spanking and the time when grandma noticed the red marks, as well as how the mom and grandma(mother-in-law issues, maybe) got along before the incident. 

Meanwhile, just a few days ago, the Huntington Independent School District had a board meeting where one of the topic's was: 'adding corporal punishment as a more readily available option'.


Now, I know that sooner or later, someone like Sabra will be along to let me know that Texas is a BIG, BIG place, with all kinds of different people, but you can understand why a yankee like me might be confused. 

Personally, I am A-Okay with some spanking.  I have been known to spank my children.  Nothing wrong with a hand on the bottom...even bare bottom.  It's going to leave a red mark, and while I have never timed it, I know that the red mark will fade, and not leave any bruising if properly done. 

I think the judge was totally out to lunch with a blanket statement like:

“You don’t spank children today,” said Longoria, “in the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don’t spank children. You understand?”
No...I don't understand.  

I do agree with the judge a bit, in that this is not the old days.  If this lady had used some instrument(most commonly a belt, or wooden spoon were used on my butt), then yes, in this day and age it would probably be over the top, and punishment might be justified.  

So far, the Texas Attorney General's Office has declined to take a stand on whether spanking your child is now illegal statewide.  Their website does have the following statement though:

'Texas law allows the use of force, but not deadly force, against a child by the child's parent, guardian, or other person who is acting in loco parentis. '

'Most parents do, in fact, use corporal punishment at least occasionally, and most do not, in fact, consider it abusive.'
I hate seeing the legal system tied up in frivolous stuff, but this is one situation where I wish this lady had some technicality to  fight this all the way to the Supreme Court. 



In my efforts to use the internet to discover something that disgusts me more than the current 'Debt Ceiling Debate' going on in The Other Washington, I was able to find these pictures, which I am borrowing from That National Geographic's Website.

THAT is an algae bloom which has occurred along the Chinese Coast of the now misnamed Yellow Sea.  

THIS is children out SWIMMING IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!

 Grody to the Max. 

 Despite it's amazing green color, this is not related to problems at the nuke plant in Japan...just the right combination of warm water and HUGE amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from excessive fertilizer usage.  

This current algae bloom is quite large...almost 7,700 square miles, which makes it 20% LARGER than the state of Connecticut.  

I repeat...YUCK.


Look, this is my surpirsed face....

Just yesterday, I was one of many people who thought that maybe, with the FAA losing it's ability to collect certain taxes and fees due to funding issues, people might have a window to purchase plane tickets for a 7.5-9% discount. 

It seems one thing we overlooked was the power of human greed.  It seems most airlines, aware that on Friday, people were willing to pay X amount of bottom line price for an airline ticket see no reason not to keep charging folks that X amount of bottom line price...and if that goes into their pockets as an extra 7.5% of profit, well, so be it. 

Most major Airlines, with the notable exceptions of Virgin, Spirit, Frontier and Alaska, have raised prices to capitalize on this opportunity to increase profits without raising the bottom line.  This really shouldn't surprise me...I mean, I know for a fact if the oil industries 'tax breaks' are ever taken away, that those increased costs will get passed along to the consumers...but it did.  Not that I am happy with the idea of an industry passing extra expenses(such as increased tax burden) onto the consumer....but I somewhat EXPECT that...raising prices just to take an extra profit because you have a tiny window in which the unobservant MIGHT not notice?  Seems low class.

I am a capitalist...but occasionally I DO Need to ask how much is enough.  Even with 'High Jet Fuel' prices, United/Continental made 538 MILLION in profit in the 2nd QUARTER!  Over 2 Billion A YEAR PROFIT.  Isn't that enough, Comrade? 


The few airlines who haven't raised their fares are using it as selling points.  Spirit Airlines is claiming other airlines 'Aren't being Generous'.  Virgin is urging folks to 'Avoid Taxes. Take Flight.' 

Wish I had a trip to plan...I would love to be able to show some support to The Good Guys.


Frugalilty is not always the best route...

This evening, my wife is heading out to one of our friends houses for a 'Silver and Gold' Party...you all get together with all the old scrap jewelry you never wear anymore, and they pay you a fraction of what it might be worth, if it is worth anything.  SWMBO went with a few thin necklaces that aren't a flattering length on her, a few 'don't know what happened to the other earring' pieces, and my old high school class ring.  I almost feel like I should send any cash made off that to my parents...it's 14k gold, and quite heavy...with the way gold prices have gone up since the 20th century, it might have some value.  I thought about having her bring one my 10oz Silver Lunar's, or a 1/4oz Maple Leaf just to see what kind of reaction she got, but I didn't want it to seem like she was putting on airs...

While it was hinted that it was okay to come as a families, I decided that after spending 8 nights at my moms with the girls, she deserved a few hours alone.  I stayed home with the girls, and for a simple dinner threw a few brats in some Full Sail Session Lager, and some curly fries in the oven.  Previously, while at Win-Co, I decided to save a bit of cash by picking up Hy-Top Hot Dog buns, which are Win-Co's store brand. 

What a mistake.  They fell apart faster than any of Obama's plans to extend the debt ceiling.

Saving money on those buns was just like saving money by buying single-ply toilet paper...I might have saved a buck or two, but I got poop all over my hands.  Lesson learned...no need to learn it a 2nd time...

Quick! Buy some airplane tickets!

Due to the wholly crazy and inefficient way in which the Federal Government funds things, it appears that as of midnight last night the Federal Aviation Administration is broke.  Well, most federal agencies are broken to one extant or another, but in this case the FAA has no more cash to pay some of it's employees...oh, it also has lost it's ability to collect several air travel related taxes, meaning if you were to jump online right now and buy plane tickets, you would save yourself some green.  The amount of green varies, but at a minimum you would not get charged the 7.5% excise tax on plane tickets, and if you were flying from Alaska/Hawaii or to an international destination, you would not be charged somewhere between $8-18 of 'departure taxes'.

Fear not for your safety though...you WILL still be charged the 'Post-9/11 Security Fee'.

Mathematically, this inability to collect taxes is expected to prevent the FAA from collecting up to $200 MILLION a week.  This will then lead to furlough's of almost 4,000 (not safety related job having) employees, whose salary's come out of a trust fund that is funded by these taxes.   That confuses me, because if they are losing $200 MILLION a week, and only letting 4000 people go, was the average salary of those 4000 people $50,000 a week?

I don't think I'm a particularly ignorant person, but I had no idea the FAA was in this type of position.  Apparently, the FAA has not had a long-term funding plan in place since 2007.  Since way back then Congress couldn't agree on a long-term solution(sound familiar?) the FAA has been operating on a series of 20 'Funding Extension' bills.

What a god-damned joke.  This is so representative of everything that has come out of D.C.(not just D.C...every legislature of every state also) for as long as I can remember...NO ONE wants to be the bad guys, or have to make tough decisions, and hey, the money is there, so let's just keep extending and extending things. 

Except now the money isn't there, and you can't dig the whole any deeper, so you finally NEED to make some hard decisions...and they still refuse to.  It's easier to pout because each side can't have it's own way. 

Well, the good news is that my wife is scheduled to fly to Connecticut for a friends wedding next week.  Legal types are saying that if you bought you paid taxes when you purchased a service in advance, and then the agency lacks the ability to collect said taxes when you use said service, you might be due a refund. 

But, hey, at least the TSA will still be the grope her at the airport...maybe she can find a date for the wedding! 


Commence Field Day!

Back when you are in elementary school, the term 'field day' might evoke images of potato sack races, three-legged races, and water balloon tosses.  If you served any time in the Navy though, you realize that a true field day is much less fun, and is actually shipwide focus on 'deep cleaning, and getting in the bilges and the outboards'.  Usually, field day is done on Friday mornings, and everyone participates, even if you just got off the mid-watch. 

Much fun is had by all.  Woe be to you who is not caught moving fast enough, or god forbid, caught napping in the outboards by the Chief of the Boat.

Anyway, it seems appropriate that today is Friday, and with my wife and kids coming home today from my mom's house, I will soon find myself giving the apartment a nice thorough once over.  Luckily, I will have at least four hours lead time, assuming my wife lets me know when she actually leaves.  I actually don't have that much stuff to do...The girls room is squared away, our bedroom just needs the bed to be made, the kitchen looks fine...it's basically just folding the last three loads of clothes which are sitting on the living room chair(and brushing cat hair off them...of course the cat likes snuggling in piles of warm, clean clothes), and a final vacuuming in the living room, while starting to make dinner preps. 

Meanwhile, watching the video of the police officer confronting a CCW holder in Canton, Ohio is not putting me in the mood to get started anytime soon.  If you haven't seen the video, you won't have to look hard for it...Tamara's got a link to it on her site, as do about a million other folks. 

As I stated at her site, I am one of the first to point out I KNOW I don't have the temperament to be a police officer.  If only the officer in this video had been as equally honest to himself, he might not be getting increasingly famous on the internet right now.  From the start, even before he confronts the driver, it is obvious this guy was somewhat unstable, and looking to 'put some lumps' on someone.  He threatens the two passengers with acts of physical violence several times before even beginning his tirade against the driver.

I feel very bad for the many, many, GOOD police officers out there, who often get smeared by people painting with a broad brush after events like this...


Yup...that's why she won't get elected...

In 'I hadn't even heard the first part of the story before you're telling me it ain't so news', Representative Michelle Bachmann's campaign(for President....I know, blew me away too) are saying that her migraine headaches, previously labeled as 'incapacitating' won't impede her White House goals. 

To me, that's kind of like saying it isn't the falling that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end. 

I guess maybe I have had my head in the sand to not realize how popular Bachmann is with the Right masses right now.  I'm pretty solidly behind Dr. Ron Paul(yup, I am prepared to be disappointed) and when I look at Bachmann, I guess I Just Don't Get It. 

Looking at her what I really see is a somewhat attractive lady(which shouldn't matter, but does) who has no problem saying the occasional controversial thing just to get her name on the news, but really doesn't have anywhere close to the experience that I hope for in a Chief Executive.  It was one of the biggest strikes I had against Barry vs. McCain...no real experience yet on a big stage.  When I think of serious Presidential Candidates, I think Senators, Governor's, and Vice-Presidents...and maybe THAT is what Bachmann is thinking.

I can seriously see Bachmann getting her name and popularity out there now to build a big enough voter base, just to be seriously considered a Vice-Presidential candidate...maybe hitch her star to an older established Presidential Candidate, someone who is old enough that they might only be looking at 4-years, with the hope that she is right there as V.P. to jump in and take over in 2016....maybe even someone like....Ron Paul!  Brilliant!(and yes, I am aware that Dr. Paul is not a former VP, Senator or Governor...but he's RON PAUL.  He has all the right answers...that should be all it takes!  

One definition of patience...

Involves having to wait 3 months to dive back in to one of these jars:

No, I haven't all the sudden come down with the canning bug(although, one of these years, we still start canning.  I'm sure it be the same month I start Re-Loading.).  The only thing close to aproper term I have found for what is inside those jars is 'rumtopf'.  Traditionally, 'rumtopf' is a German recipe in which you combine fresh, ripe strawberries with rum and sugar in a crock.  As other fruits ripen, you add them in layers, keeping enough alcohol in the crock to keep the fruit covered.  At the end of the summer, the crock stays closed up for about 3 months, allowing the alcohol and fruit to 'grok' one another.  The contents of the crock are then used over angels food, pound cake, or ice cream.

I have been wanting to throw something like this together for a while, and with the wife and kids out of town, I was bored enough to do it.  Mine contain different variations of stone fruits(peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries) and since it was my first time, I used a couple of different kinds of alcohol: some brandy, some vodka, and for one or two I combined Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and 100-proof White Lightening Whiskey.  The first few jars I made, I tried leaving the fruits in big pieces...like quartering them.  Doing it this way, I was very stunned by how little fruit, and how much alcohol it took to top off each jar.  For batch two,  in addition to buying cheaper alcohol, I chopped the fruit up smaller, hoping to fill more void space in the jar with fruit than 80-proof.

Now, waiting is the hardest part...not just because I WANT TO TRY THEM NOW, but it is somewhat a leap of faith.  The jars sit in a cool, dark cabinet, and I won't really know until hunting season, 3 months from now, if these things are gonna kill someone or not.  How big of a bummer would that be to find out in mid-October than I have 12 1-quarts jars full of  'yuk' in my cabinet? 

Assuming these do come out okay, my plan is to give out most of them as Christmas Gifts...then again, even if they come out rotten, they can still be Christmas gifts...they just go out to the folks on the 'bad' list. 


Once again, I might just be easily impressed....

A story with a somewhat local tie caught my eye this evening...it seems that doctors at Washington State University in Pullman, have replaced the injured front leg on an African Tortoise with a swiveling wheel

How cool looking is that!

picture borrowed from the AP article...

What blows my mind, in retrospect, is that this had to be done by doctors at a fairly decent 4-year(PARTY!) University...I mean, they removed the front leg and used GOSH-DARNED EPOXY!?!?!??!!?  to attach the wheel.  Jim Bob could have done that in his garage...the lucky guy might have even gotten some racing stripes while he was in there...


Things that can happen when I am bored...

So, prior to heading up to the hills this last Sunday, I had been cruising around Ranch and Home, and my eyes lit upon a box of .357/.38 Shot Shells.  With this area of Eastern Washington actually being home to at least one  variety of poisonous snake(the Western Rattlesnake), I thought maybe having a round or two of that in my S&W while out hiking would be useful. 

Not wanting to carry an untested load, I started thinking about a method for testing the efficiency of my purchase.  Fortuitously, Safeway had a package of chicken hotdogs priced 50%, which had them right around a $1.25.  I bought a package and threw them in my cooler along with P&J sandwiches when I headed up to Bethel Ridge Sunday morning.  I also had an old package of deli-sliced turkey that was too old to eat, so it went in the cooler also.

In between rain storms, I broke out the package of hotdogs, and lashed them together with electrical tape.  I also had a few cherries left over from my breakfast, so, I added some of them in to simulate blood.  Did I mention I was bored?

I repeated the test three times...once at 5 feet, and once at 7 feet, and last at 10 feet.  I don't hate snakes...given the opportunity, I would rather not kill one, so, anything beyond the 7 foot range, I think I would back off and let the snake go it's own way, but curiosity(and the number of hot dogs in the pack) dictated I find the maximum effective range. 

At five feet, I was actually very impressed with the results...large amounts of the hot dogs ceased to exist.  These were really the only pieces worth picking up off the ground.

At 10 feet, the results were less impressive.

Finally, I moved back into 5 feet, and let the package of turkey have it.  Once again, I was very impressed...several of the pellets actually penetrated all of the turkey, which was about 1 inch thick...

In reflection, I think the most dangerous thing to come out the end of the barrel were the pieces of the blue plastic cap.  As stated, I was very impressed with the penetration/destruction at 5 feet.  At that distance, you are probably talking 'lethal' to anything cat size or smaller.  The 'spread' of pellets was very small...from looking at the impact on the turkey, it looked like 90% of the pellets were within a 2.5-3" circle...which means you actually still need to aim.  I certainly wouldn't want to mes up and have an accidental discharge into the thigh with one of these....the results could be very, very bad.


Stupid Trace Adkins....

While it might seem to most people that I had a fun and exciting weekend with the wife and kids gone(watching movies, running around the hills looking for coyotes, spending too much time at wineries) in reality, I was simply trying to stave off the boredom and depression which I often fall into when my wife and kids are away for a few days.

And I was doing a pretty good job of it too, until I was driving home from work today, and the newest Trace Adkins song came on the radio.

Sniff, sniff...and then to come home to no hugs and kisses made it tougher...

We have pink and purple fishing poles, and as a daddy, I have been seen by other males actually using one...and like Trace says, it isn't just fishing...

I just hope that they remember it as much as I do....

Just what is a 'Fair Share'?

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama, like presidents before him, took to the radio for a weekly address.  Unlike other presidents before him, he also posted a youtube video.  This isn't unusual for him, I guess he posts a video each week along with the radio address.  Say what you want about him, but the man is media savvy(or the media let's him be savvy, one or the other.)

The focus this week was on getting 'our fiscal house in order', and mostly revolved around what it was going to take for both parties to strike a deal over budget issues.  I watched the video just a bit ago, and I have to say, I agree with a lot of his goals, we just have different way's of getting there.  They might come and repossess my wookie-suit, but I am okay with taxes going up(or 'closing loop holes and breaks, depending on your point of view).  It doesn't make me happy, but I feel that the deficit situation is SOOOOOOO bad, that it can't be fixed just by cutting spending.

One of the things that always sticks in my craw whenever people talk about having to raise taxes is 'asking the wealthiest American's to pay Their Fair Share.' 

Just what is a 'Fair Share'?  And what makes you one of the 'Wealthiest American's?'  I hate nebulous terms. 

Most of the proposals I see talk about increasing the tax burden(closing loopholes) for people making over $250,000.  Why that number?  Is a family that brought in $238,000 'upper-middle class' but a family that made $252,000 rich? 

As for a 'fair share'...assuming an equal tax rate, is a person earnings $250K a year using 5
times the governments resources as someone making $50K a year?  Or 7.5 times as much as someone scraping along at $35K a year?  More than likely not...which means you just don't want him to pay his 'fair share'....you want him to pay some of someone else's share also! 

What keeps tripping everyone up is our tax code, and the fact that the 'Wealthiest American's' have hoards of attorney's and accountants to minimize their tax burden.  The 'Not Wealthiest American's' see this, and assume that the rich are bilking the system...and they are, because the system let's them.

It's why I keep coming back to a 'flat tax' system.  No deductions, no credits, no nothing...you just get 15%(or whatever number the big heads decide) taken off each weeks paycheck.  If you want to really stick it to the rich, make a bracket, and say they pay an extra .5% for every 50K they make over say...100K.  Have that max out at around 20%, and put all those accountants and tax lawyers out of work. 

That lack of deductions and credits would also apply to everyone.  Why do we even have a 'Child Tax Credit'?  We all know kids are expensive...a 'Child Tax Credit' doesn't make them THAT much more affordable. 


The other thing Obama wants to go after are big, evil corporations which often have whole DEPARTMENTS of lawyers and accountants.  He points out that HUGE EVIL OIL COMPANIES OMG! don't need tax breaks when they are making BILLIONS of dollars each year. He's right, but they have gotten used to their tax breaks, and anything you do to remove those tax breaks is going to just get passed along to their customer.  Exxon will not settle for making less money...they will just charge you more to cover their increased tax burden. 

The funny part about the video is The President never once addressed that the reason there was all this attention on 'getting our fiscal house in order.'  He talked about trying to strike a to lower the deficit, but not that that deal was still going to result in the deficit increasing through at least 2012. 

I'm sure by that time there will be some other shiny object to distract voters from the reality of the situation. 


I need a nap!

Just got back from my outing in the woods.  I made it to Bethel Ridge, just west of Naches about half-an-hour before true sunrise, but well into morning twilight.  Or what should have been morning twilight if it wasn't kind of cloudy and spitting rain.  Who cares, it was still a beautiful morning..luckily I remembered a sweat shirt, because it was a crisp 45 up on the hill.

I walked out to one of my favorite areas, and just sat for about an hour.  I tried using the coyote calls on my MP3 player, but the little speakers which seem adequate inside, were pretty weak in the Great Outdoors.  That's okay...I'm not sure I would have shot a coyote anyway...I mean, just for a picture?  I wouldn't skin it, and I sure ain't gonna eat it...

When the rain picked up, I headed back to the truck, and did some cruising until it slacked off, then I did some more walking, up a blocked up logging road I had never been on.  I didn't see any big animals, but I did get close to one bull elk.  I could smell him...and at one point he let out a bugle that almost caused me to go wee wee in my pants...he was close, maybe a hundred, two hundred yards into some timber...and he didn't sound happy.  I had my .357 on my hip, but it was loaded with 125gr Golden Sabers, not something more manly like 180gr hard-casts...didn't matter...I really didn't want to have to pop a few at some horny/mad bull elk...it was easier just to listen to him for a but, then head the other direction.

On the way home, I stopped in Prosser at Airfield Estates Winery and Kestrel Winery.  Of course, I spent money...more than I should.  We now have a pretty decent supply of wine in the house...I can probably stop buying for a few weeks.

While stopping for a tasting at two wineries didn't come close to making me tipsy, combined with being up since 2:30AM it has made me awfully drowsy.  I came home and put away the wine, put away the guns, and forced myself to get going on some laundry and the dishes, trying to fight off the drowsiness, but it doesn't seem to be working.  I would rather go to bed early than lose two hours in the middle of the afternoon to a nap, but I think I am losing...the couch is looking awfully inviting...

This seemed like such a good idea last night...

Having finished all my 'chores' yesterday, I felt the need to do SOMETHING on Sunday, having had an itch to head up into the hills, figured 'Why not?...and if you are going to head into the hills, why not be motivated enough to catch the sunrise? 

Around these parts, 'coyote hunting' is one of the few valid reasons to be in the woods year round with a rifle, so...I have gone as far as visiting Varmint Al's and downloading some MP3's of howling coyotes and screaming rabbits onto my cheapo Coby MP3 player.  I whipped up a few Peanut Butter sandwiches for breakfast, and laid down at about 9:30, with my alarm set for 2:30.

Ugh.  Well, at least I'm moving...and I might make it in time for the sunrise....as soon as my cup of tea kicks in...


Lost a step...or 5...

Once upon a time, back in boot camp, I could start with folded sheets and 5 minutes later have a set of bunk beds made up inspection ready in 5 minutes, hospital corners and all. 

Fast forwarding to the here and now, one of the few actual chores that SWMBO left me with before going to visit with The Worlds Greatest Nana was stripping, washing and remaking the beds.  I figured I would get them stripped and washed last night, and remake them today, so that I have Sunday free to goof off.  What an ass-kicking...

The bunk beds our daughters sleep in are worlds different from what I had at boot camp...nice wooden rails to keep little one from falling out, and pushed against the wall to maximize floor space.  Rather than five minutes, it just took me the better part of an hour to get those bunk beds remade...and there ain't no hospital corners...just tuck whatever is left over against the wall and tug the sheets flat around. 

Heck, just getting the stuffed animals rearranged took me over the 5 minute limit...

The Head, The Tail, The Whole Damn Thing.

After seeing Transformers 3(which was entertaining, if a bit excessive) last night, this evening I had the opportunity to watch a different kind of movie altogether.  The Princess Theater, in Prosser, show's a classic movie each month over the course of the summer.  This months movie is one of the best movie's EVER: Jaws.  

I LOVE Jaws.  Along with Poltergeist, it was one of the first scary movies that I can remember seeing.  Along with being scary, it happened to be about a shark, and there was a time as a kid when I was just as into sharks as my older daughter is currently into dinosaurs.  I'm not exactly sure when it happened that I went from liking Jaws because it was scary and about sharks, to believing it is one of the defining pieces of American Cinema, but it did.

I'm not sure how many time I have seen Jaws...I haven't counted, but to try and pin a realistic non-hyperbole number on it...let's see...I mean, 4 times a year for 25 years would be 100 so......I would say it has to be AT LEAST 75 times.  And yet, none of those times had ever been on anything other than a television.  To have the opportunity to see it on the big screen?  Too good to pass up.

First, a little press for The Princess Theater.  It wasn't actually 'The Big Screen'..it was more of a 'slightly larger than medium screen'.  Built back in the 1920's, The Princess Theater was originally THE PLACE to see live entertainment events(i.e. Vaudeville) in the Yakima Valley.  Now, it is home to whatever they can fit in it...local high school shows, classic movies and community theater(as a total divergence here, in February, they are doing Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat...yours truly has some sole searching to do on the drive length, and some cojone growing to do, before February.)  It's a cute little place.

Because the movie last night was actually a fun raising effort by the Valley Theater Company, there was a 'Social Hour' before the movie sponsored by one of the local wineries, AND the Whitstran Brewing Company.  I would love to meet the sadistic bastard who decided to let me drink two beers half an hour before the movie started...it's a long movie.

One of my concerns about paying money just to watch a movie that I have probably already seen 100 times was that I was going to be wasting my money...that there was going to be nothing new about the experience.  I had nothing to be concerned about...

Right off the bat, I noticed things...for the first time in a long time, I had to sit through the credits.  Before the movie even started, I had my first shock...back in 1975, when Jaws was released, it was RATED PG!!!!! How did my whole generation not grow up to be raving ax-murderers?

Also during the credits, I had forgotten that the three lead actors were triple-billed...their names we all shown at the same time...supposedly it was that way because Speilberg wanted the Shark to be the star.

And all three actors deserve lead billing, for the movie's success belongs to 5 people: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Steven Speilberg, and John Williams. 

300 years from now, if John Williams is not spoken about in the same way that we speak of Mozart, then a grave injustice will have occured.

It's easy to sometimes poke fun at Speilberg, for doing things like digitally changing guns into walky-talkies in the re-release of some movies, but watching Jaws makes you realize what an All-Time Great he is. 

It's Deputy Hendriks playing in the sand, whistle hanging from his mouth as Brody approaches the first body on the beach.

It's the younger son, Sean playing with his sand castle and singing 'Muffin Man' happily, while the guy in the yellow shirt is looking for his lost dog, and you know something bad is coming.

 It's Hooper's eyes getting big when the medical examiner removes the little yellow tub containing the remains of the first victim from the fridge, and then take a few deep breathes to mellow out before doing his job.

It's Robert Shaw dragging his fingers down the chalkboard, then munching on that little cracker and telling the folks he can solve their problem, for 'Ten Thousand Dollars for me by myself'.  

It's the sleezy mayor, who was doing what he felt was best for the town(in the book he has his own greedy reasons for keeping the beach open), trying to explain to Brody that 'My kids were on that beach too' after the final attack. 

It's Quint giving Hooper the run around, and Hooper snapping that 'He doesn't need this working class hero crap!'  Two actors at their finest.

Yes, it's 'Your gonna need a bigger boat'.

Finally, it's the way a drunk and giggling like a school girl Hooper instantly sobers up when Quint smiles sadly and says, 'That Mr. Hooper, is the U.S.S. Indianappolis'...and the magical 4 minutes that follow.  I wanted to post a youtube video of the scene, but couldn't find one that wasn't jacked up.  It doesn't matter...if you have seen it once, it's always with you...

In retrospect, it BLOWS MY MIND that none of the three actors were nominated for and Academy Award OR even a Golden Globe for Jaws.   Quint is one of THE BEST characters ever put on film, and Hooper is close.  Brody is the weak link of the three, not because Roy is a bad actor, but because Brody is REAL.  The other two get to be a little over the top, but Chief Brody is Every Man.

I enjoyed Transformers 3 the other night...but I could never sit through it 75-100 times.  I might watch a few of the battle scenes that many times on youtube, but I would puncture my own ear drums and gouge out my own eyes if I had to the scenes in between the fighting with Shia and Rosie(well, maybe not gouge out my eyes...she is awfully attractive). 

I'm sure I'm good for at least another hundred viewings of Jaws.


Et tu'?

Focusing on anything other than politics and the Real World, one of my favorite current music groups is The Band Perry two brothers and sister.  I heard their first single, 'Hip to my Heart', and being a relic of the 80's and 90's, tracked down the CD and bought it off the strength of that one song rather than this new age 'downloading' thing.

I was very impressed with the whole CD...I wanna say that there were only about two songs that didn't blow me away, and even those two were pretty okay.  Since that time they have released two other songs, 'If I Die Young', which reached number 1 on the country charts, and 'You Lie' which peaked at number 2.  Not too shabby.

'If I Die Young' is an amazing song...it shows off the brothers musical talent, Kimberly's amazing voice, and her song writing.  She wrote the song herself, and...well, if you haven't heard it:

Sigh.  I don't think there is any need to present anymore evidence of how good this group is.  They are going to be huge.

Fast forward to today.  I'm flipping through the radio stations, and I hear 'If I Die Young'...but it doesn't sound right.  It take me a minute to figure out that I am on one of the pop stations, and I was listening to a 'Remix' of my much beloved song. 

I don't like remix's...adding a guitar and drum line to expand it's appeal in an effort to make more money.  I mean, I can understand 'striking while the iron's hot' and 'taking all the market can bear'...but, that's for folks like Taylor Swift...these folks are good!!!!!!  They shouldn't need to resort to a gimmick like 'remixing' a song.  Especially not a song as good as this one! 

As far as remix's go, this one is not horrible...they removed the banjo and fiddle and replaced it with guitar, but at least it sounds acoustic, and the drums are somewhat subtle...but darn it, it's not as good as the original version. It lacks complexity and finish(sounds like I've been doing too much wine tasting).

Band Perry....you don't NEED TO DO THIS!!!!


I've been Bayed!

Not sure that anything intelligent is going to show up here tonight...I went and saw Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, and I am stuck in sensory overload.

My amazing wife packed the girls in the car this morning to go pay a visit to the World's Greatest Nana, who is mostly stuck on her couch while she recovers from some recent surgery(she had a complete hysterectomy) . 

The physical side of the recovery seems to be going good...she got to go home after one night in the hospital, and she can walk around the house for short periods of time.  She can't(or shouldn't which is the same thing as far as my LPN wife is concerned.) take her dog for a walk, or stand in front of the stove cooking dinner.  So, SWMBO will provide those services.

Emotionally...I don't know.  I lack those internal parts, but I am certain that even when a woman is at my moms age, and there is no chance of anymore children, there are some emotional issues to work through.  I hope that's where my daughters talents come into play.  When the want to be, they are without a doubt the sweetest, kindest most amazing children in the world.  Daddy made sure to warn them no jumping up and down on Nana's belly.

Anyway...they are staying to help/keep her company for 7-10 days.  To delay having to go home after work to a lack of hugs and kisses,  I decided to see the newest Transformers movie.  This is the longest after a release that I have seen it.

Initial impressions are that it is one heck of an entertaining movie.  If they decide to make a 4th, I'll watch it too.  Megan Fox was both more attractive AND a better actress than Rosie Huntington-Whiteley...but Rosie has that British accent thing going.  It's somewhat moot...while she would finish 2nd to Megan on my list, she is still more than attractive enough to play the role Michael Bay wanted her to play.

Maybe a more in depth review will follow...maybe not.  Either you are the type that likes fast cars that change into robots with Victoria's Secret models draped over them while stuff blows up, or you aren't.  If you are....see this movie.

If not...get over yourself and see this movie anyway...


Just sitting here at the computer with my legs crossed...

This is one of those stories that is PAINFUL to read. 

Man's penis cut off, put through garbage disposal

I really don't have anything to add.  As a man, part of me wants to say that there is NOTHING a man could do which would deserve this kind of payback.  I'm a realist though...I know there is evil in the world, and some men can work that evil on the women they are supposed to love.  

I'm not sure what I would have to do to make my wife go this direction.  I can see my wife deciding that I need to be dead, but I'm not sure she's the castrating type.   

Still, it's probably a good thing that I let the girls start their dinner before I eat mine...it's also another good excuse for still not having a headboard on the bed...no headboard and no way to tie me up just because I forgot to put the toilet seat down again...



Slow news day, I guess...

Today's entry in the 'News That Isn't' category comes from Monroeville, Pennsylvania. 

Mike Vuick, owner of McDain's restaurant, has decided on a news business model.  Instead of being a family style casual restaurant, his goal is to have an 'Upscale, casual and quiet' restaurant.  The italics are mine, because to achieve this new business model, Mike made the decision to ban children under the age of 6 from eating at McDain's

Good for him.  As a business owner, he decided that his business has the potential to be more profitable marketing towards a happy mature clientele than family's. This isn't a tax-payer sponsored enterprise, 'FAIR' shouldn't enter into the equation. 

I have absolutely zero problem with this decision.  I actually wish more places did this...as a parent, I have been on both sides of the noise producing equation.  My kids have always been fairly well behaved at eating out, but that means they act civilized...at least once a meal we need to remind them to use their 'inside' voices.

SWMBO and I are already pretty responsible in where we bring the girls.  We have a shirt-list of 'date-night' type places, and I don't bring my girls there for dinner.  Kind of the Golden Rule of dining...not everyone follows this rule.  If Mike Vuick thinks he can turn his restaurant into this kind of place, I wish him luck.  If some family's are that upset because they can't eat there...get a sitter and enjoy a quiet dinner!  If it isn't good enough to pay for a sitter to enjoy it, then it isn't good enough to get all butt-hurt about being able to go to.  A quick check on yelp shows that there is a Red Lobster, a Golden Coral, an Olive Garden and a Bob Evan's in town...take your kids there.


Concealed means concealed!

Big brouhaha brewing over this story out of Arizona, about a State Senator who decided the proper way to demonstrate the lazer on her Ruger LCP was by pointing it at a reporters chest. 

I think that if I had been an advisor to Senator Klein, I would have told her to leave the gun in her purse, and let the reporters find some stock pictures for their story...little chance of that though, I suppose.  I don't want to be accused of stereotyping, but one can assume that the type of person who would purchase a 'strawberry' colored pistol is the type that wants to show people how cute and harmless it is.

Maybe the reporter is mistaken, and there was really a Predator in the room with him, and he just assumed it was the Senator's lazer sight...


Because you will never be told YES if you don't ask....

One of the few chuckle inducing stories to be found on the internet over the weekend was the one about the Marine Corps Sargent, Scott Moore, who posted a video on youtube asking Mila Kunis to be his date to the Marine Corps Ball, November 18th in Greenville, N.C.

Ha, ha, ha...I think someone has seen the Brady Bunch episode where Marsha invites Davy Jones to the prom too many times....

Wait a minute....she said yes!?!?!?!?!?!? 

Kick ass.

For those of you asking yourself...who the hell is Mila Kunis...

 picture 'borrowed' from zimbio

 Mila first gained widespread notice as the very cute, very funny Jackie on the popular 'That 70's Show'.  She was in a movie called 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where she tried to make a guy forget about Kristen Bell(not and easy thing to do), before hitting it big.  In 2010, she starred opposite Denzel Washington in 'Book of Eli', and then had 2nd billing to Natalie Portman in 'The Black Swan'.  There is little shame being 2nd billed to Natalie Portman.  Finally, some people with crude senses of humor would recognize Mila's voice talents...she plays Meg Griffin on The Family Guy.

Based on her high aesthetic appeal and sense of humor, Mila would probably be somewhere 18 and 25 on my list...if I was the type of guy to engage in something as arbitrary as ranking women.  Forsooth, she is indeed comely. 

Assuming she follows through on this, and attends the Marine Corps Ball with Sgt. Moore, the 'What a cool thing to do for a soldier' points will very likely catapult her to a top 5 ranking, with the likes of SWMBO, Christina Hendriks and Miranda Lambert.  If she doesn't follow through(even though Justin Timberlake put her up to it)....well, there's a special circle of Hell for that.  I will never admire another picture of her without thinking she is a bad, bad hot girl.  

Can't believe I didn't even try to ask Reba McEntire to my prom...



Thanks for the prayers and/or good thoughts.  My mom made it through her surgery today with no complications and is resting for the night.  No more kids for her, but that's alright, I'm getting pretty old to be an older brother. 

In icky news, some of the removed components are being sent out for expert analysis to ensure there is no need for future concern.  Ick...when does Mike Rowe do that on Dirty Jobs?

Not something I usually ask...

Today, my mom(known locally as the World's Greatest Nana) is going to the doctors for a spot of surgery.

Due to some repeatable test results, her doctor recommended the removal of some of her internal girl parts. 

This is a surgery which is unfortunately common, but is still major enough to require at least one, and possibly two nights in the hospital.  It is low risk, but in this day of BRSA and MRSA, no trip to the hospital is totally risk free.  Her doctor told her to be prepared to miss up to two weeks of work until she is physically ready to be up and around again.  Later this week, SWMBO will be taking the kids to my mom's house for about a week to provide physical and moral support during her recovery. 

I'm not big on prayer...mostly I go to church to show my wife and her belief's the respect they deserve.  As such, I suppose I should feel hypocritical asking folks to pray for her, if they are the praying types.  If you aren't the praying types....I don't expect you to change for me, but thinking happy thoughts never hurts the situation.


Oh Noes! An electrical safety discussion with the kids...

In an attempt to approach this upcoming week with the proper mental attitude, I actually decided to break out the ironing board.  Historically, my upper garment of choice at work has been polo shirts, but the last few weeks, I have found myself wearing more short-sleeve button up shirts, mostly of the increasingly popular 'Hawaiian' style. While military creases are not needed, I also prefer my shirts not look like I keep them in a tennis ball can for easy storage. 

As I'm standing at the sink, putting water into the iron, my younger daughter lets out the kind of shriek which causes your heart to go up into your throat:

'No Daddy!  Water and electricity together kill people!'

Well...after assessing that there was no direct threat to anyone's health, I attempted to explain to my daughter that yes...putting electronic items into water was bad...but some items, like the iron, and her mom's electric water kettle were meant to have water in them.

I'm not sure I convinced her, but she agreed to go upstairs so that she would be safe.  At least I don't need to worry about her burning down the house...

Oh, it's a sign alright...

This morning while flipping through the Parade Magazine everyone finds in their Sunday newspaper, I was given a SIGN.  The last page of the magazine had a recipe for Whoopie Pies, but there was no fooling me...my mom used to make these when I was a kid, and up in New England we called these Devil Dogs.  Whatever you call them, they are cookie shaped pieces of devils food cake with marshmallow creme in the middle. 

This is Exhibit A, borrowed from,  and full lawyer preventing credit given to, Parade's Website. 

THIS atrocity, currently sitting in my kitchen, is exhibit B:

Holy Mackerel...I haven't had a kitchen failure like that for a while. 

First, they stuck to my parchement paper, which never happens.  Then they didn't rise AT ALL.  I didn't forget the baking soda...having done a little postmortem and compared the recipe I used with some others I found in the internet after the fact, I think the problem was temperature.  This recipe called for 375, most others call for 350.  Add into that the fact that I am still getting used to this oven, and what I think happened is that the batter melted and spread before it started rising.

Bummer.  The only positive from this whole thing is that the taste is right. Like my dad used to say...if you think it looks bad today, wait until you see it tomorrow.

Marking October 11th on the calander...

While the wife watched Burlesque yesterday(maybe a review to follow...wasn't the worst movie that's ever played on my TV) I found an interesting distraction on the internet machine:

The first trailer to the newest take on The Three Musketeers.  I'm not sure...especially since this one looks like it sticks to the Dumas novel the way you know a movie that says 'Based on a true event' sticks to that event.

I have enjoyed the last few Musketeer Movie's...there was Young Gun Musketeer's with Charlie Sheen, Kiefer, the always hot Rebecca De Mornay, and the always entertaining Tim Curry as Richelieu.

Then a few years ago(it was actually TEN YEARS already?) there was The Musketeer, which was lacking in story and acting, but had some of the most entertainingly choreographed fight scenes I have ever seen, and a menacing Tim Roth in it.

Anyway, this new one looks sufficiently steam punky that when I showed my wife the trailer, she expressed interest.  The dirigible frigates remind me of an 18th century version of the dreadnaughts from Larry Corriea's newest book...


Miracle Day

Last night was the season premier of the new season of Torchwood, on the Starz Network.  We were so excited about watching, that I actually called the cable company on Wednesday to change my cable subscription, you know...so I could actually get the Starz Network.

In assuring you pay proper attention to details, some details are more important than others.

It was worth the effort.

What a great show.  My own opinion(since it's the one that matters to me) is that it is about 14 times better than the show that spawned it, Dr. Who.

If you haven't watched the series so far...not a problem...jump on netflix and catch up.  I hadn't watched an episode of Torchwood until about a month ago, and I now rate it up there pretty with Firefly and X-Files as the best sci-fi series I have ever watched.  If you are not on netflix, that's fine...there is enough catching up during the season premier that you won't be lost, but you might be half a step behind until about half-way through the episode, and you will miss a few of the inside jokes.

John Barrowman is still an awesome character with Captain Jack.  Eve Myles has taken her dark welch hair a little reddish, and that is okay.  I still find her very kick-ass, and more than a little yummy.

As for new characters, Alexa Havins's plays a low level CIA agent who likes to wear indecently tight pencil skirts and stripper heels.  She is the main plot driver in the first episode, along Mekhi Phifer who plays a more senior CIA agent who is faced with the unusual problem of learning to cope with a hole in chest.  The hole was caused by a sharpened metal pole which went through his chest during a car wreck, but because of the title 'Miracle', no one can die.  It doesn't mean you can't get sick, or hurt, you just can't die.

Finally, there is Bill Pullman.  He plays Oswald Danes, a child murdering pedophile.  We know he's bad because they tell us his defense during the trial of a 12-year old girl he did bad things to was 'She didn't run fast enough.'  Even if they didn't tell us that, he has a squint, and a bit of a lisp.  He's naughty.  He doesn't seem remotely like the Hero President that gives such a rousing speech at the end of Independence Day. 

The State of Kentucky attempts to carry out his execution, but because no can die, he doesn't.  He is then let free, because his sentence was carried out...it's not his fault or the States that he didn't have the good grace to die. 

I am looking greatly forward to the rest of the series.  If you didn't get to see the preview last night, it's airing again tonight on Starz, and next week on BBC America.

Well, that's not a story to start my Saturday out right!

Up bright and early on what promises to be a very nice Eastern Washington Saturday, I was swinging through my favorite blogs, while eating a handful of doughnut holes.

Over at Robb Allen's website, Sharp as a Marble,  he has a link to this story, about a woman in Oak Park, Michigan who is facing misdemeanor charges for not having the audacity to attempt to have a vegetable garden in....gasp....her front yard.  Where everyone walking or driving by can see it!  With absolutely no concern for those folks less motivated to put in raised vegetable beds than herself.

Imagine the nerve of someone having the gall to plant a vegetable garden in THEIR FRONT YARD, in the midst of on of the worst economic downturns in living memory, in a suburb of Detroit, one of the hardest hit areas during this downturn. 

Anyway...this is not how I wanted my day to start...I wanted to enjoy my Saturday, not get stuck researching what legal leg this city thinks they are standing on.  Most commmonly referenced is a line of city code that the states that
 'all unpaved portions of the site shall be planted with grass or ground cover or shrubbery or other suitable live plant material'.
The city's position is that suitable = common, and since all the other yards have grass, that is what is common, and also suitable, so a vegetable garden is no suitable.


Out here in the wild and unruly West, you can't find a neighborhood that doesn't have at least a few exposed vegetable gardens.

The main villain in this case would appear to be one Kevin Rulkowki, Director of Planning.  Whatever...I'm sure he is a career city employee who has very little concern for his future employment.  Having dealt with this type before in my federal service, I am sure at some point, in some manner, Julie Bass might have said/done something that cause Kevin to come over all butt-hurt, and now she is going to be an example of.

The real villain, and the ones who should be punished in all the are City Manager, Rick Fox, and then the Mayor and members of the city council....they are the ones who face reelection, and can be voted out.  They are the one who control the purse strings that are allowing this case to go to court instead of reigning in Kevin Rulkowski.

As for the punishment, not one to(publicly) invite violence, how's about tar and feathering?  Or, I guess we could make them the first against the wall when the time comes. 

Sigh.  Julie has started her own blog to document everything at oakparkhatesveggies.  It looks like she is headed to court July 26th...hopefully now that this story is getting news coverage, maybe those responsible will realize they are boobs and back out before it's too late.  Save their taxpayers some cash.




Bottle of White, bottle of Red...perhaps a bottle of Rose' instead...

Had an absolutely outstanding date day with my wife.  There were a few moments early on when I had an opportunity to get all butt-hurt and pouty, but I let it pass.  The science camp that the girls are going to was having some kind of 'big event' from 10:30-12:00, and all the parents were invited to attend.  Well, that was right in the middle of the day, and exactly the time period I was hoping to be at the gun range with my wife, prior to going to lunch and doing some wine tasting.

I wasn't pleased.  We had planned on shooting and wine tasting for several weeks, as soon as we realized that the girls camp was going to coincide with one of my Friday's off.  The girls came home Wednesday with the news of the 'Big Event.  Poop-cycle.  Well...we packed all the .22's anyway on the chance that things would wrap up quickly and we could still make it to the range.

Things ended up running almost 2 hours.  It was not all that exciting...we were given an opportunity to participate in some activities with the girls...a scavenger hunt, an experiment about lung capacity and another experiment comparing warm and cold gummy worms to muscles, in regards to why it's better to warm up before stretching.  While not exciting, it was a good excuse to spend time with my daughters, and even though it cost me getting to go to the gun range, I am glad I went.

I'm also proud of myself...once upon a time, any kind of schedule shift/change like this would have ruined my day.  I do not adjust easily to change...but...this was okay.  Kid time is better than range time(although I was looking greatly forward to showing my wife the plinking range.  I must be growing up.

For lunch, my wife and I went to Taverna Tagaris, the restaurant at Tagaris Winery.   Very nice and intimate...a pleasant lunch stop.  We split an appetizer plate, than I had a lamb and sausage burger, while my wife had a chicken and artichoke paninni, with a cup of Cherry Gazpacho.  The Cherry Gazpacho was very, very interesting.  I can truthfully say I have never had anything else like it. I may have to pursue finding a similar recipe at some point.

Following lunch we proceeded to the wine counter at the Tagaris tasting room, where we spent an amazing hour talking about nose, and legs, and finish, and other things that sound funny to me.  Given a choice, I will choose a good beer over wine any day of the week...but, as my wife and I edge closer to 'mature middle age' there are some social situations where wine is considered more appropriate than beer.  Plus, the more my palate adjusts to wine, it is possible that I wold choose a good wine over a poor beer.

Winery's are like potato chips...you can't stop at just one.  Having previously done tastings at the other two winery's near Tagaris, and having plenty of time to spare(nope, never considered going to the range after our first wine tasting...'wouldn't be prudent at this juncture'), we headed out to Benton City, and stopped in at Terra Blanca Winery

At Terra Blanca, we finally caved to some high pressure salesman ship(no, really, Sara just showed us a little pamphlet) and joined our first 'Wine Club'.  I think what sealed the deal for us is that wine club members get unlimited free tastings! Hooray for us!  I am fairly certain that we tried somewhere between 12 and 14 different wines at Terra Blanca.  For me, near the end, they were all blurring together...my pallet is not all that sophisticated to start with...if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to pick a merlot out from a syrah using just my mouth...well, it's been a fun life.

Our route back home took us by several more wineries, but we passed them by, stopping instead at the Black Heron Distillery.  Hey, when the pallet is tired of wine, nothing like some liquor to shock it out of its stupor.  We didn't taste much there...primarily I wanted my wife to try their Lemoncello, and I wanted to try out their Pepper Vodka they just released.  The Lemoncello was a hit, and we ended up picking up a bottle.  The Pepper Vodka...not so much.  I LOVE their basic vodka(Ink), but was not overly enamored of Brushfire, which is what they call their Pepper Vodka.  Jessie didn't try it....she could smell enough pepper coming out of my glass to convince her she didn't need it.  The proprietor said it's pretty good in a bloody mary, and I believe him...hmmm....50-50 Bakon and Pepper Vodka in a Bloody Mary?  Sign me up.

We really didn't need this much more alcohol in the house...but hey, much like ammo, it's not going to go bad...and it's unlikely the price is going to get cheaper.
Finally, for those who have stuck around to the end, your reward is some Billy Joel...maybe you recognized the post title from the beginning of 'Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.'