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


Range Report

Strange weather day today...it warmed up all the way to 81 this afternoon, feeling much more like June than the last day of September.  It's not going to last, luckily(never thought I would get tired of blue skies, but I am starting to miss the grey I lived with for 20 years on the other side of the mountains.)  Seemed like a perfect day to go to the gun range!

I wasn't the only one with that idea.  The Rose-Iris range at the Rattlesnake Mountain Shooting Facility was the most crowded I've ever seen it.  Between the last forecast day of 80-degrees, and a rapidly approaching deer season, there were a lot of folks out shooting.  I managed to find the last spot, and pulled up.

I hadn't planned on a long trip...make sure my two hunting rifles are doing what they are supposed to do, fill in the time between target change outs with my Saiga, and then put three or 4 magazines each through a few pistols.  It's part of my goal to shoot less, more frequently.  I have to think 4 magazines(which is 50 rounds) out of my CZ every 2-3 weeks is better than 200 rounds every two months.

Things started out very not good, but did improve at the end(a teaser!).  I expected to have to do some work on my NEF .270.  It hadn't been out of the safe since last year, because my wife isn't planning on hunting this year, and yeah, it took some fine tuning.  What I wasn't prepared for was .35 Whelen not being ready to go.  Realistically, I was hoping to only put 2 or 3 rounds through that, and make sure it was grouping about 2.5 inches high.  I have had it out every 10-12 weeks for 10 rounds, specifically NOT wanting to be the guy that is out there two days before the season making sure his rifle is on target.

It wasn't even close.  I'm not sure what I did to the gun since the last time I had it out, but it was close to 10 inches high, and 2 inches left...very ominous.  I'm not sure if it's the gun, the scope, the way I have handled the gun, or my 7 year old ammo...or a little bit of each of those. I'm concerned enough that I just got finished ordering a few boxes of new ammo for it...Hornady's Superformance 200gr from Midway.  I'm not sure it will be here in time for me to make it back to the range with it before deer season, but luckily, the .270 is shooting right, and I will get a chance to make it back to the range before elk season.  That 200gr load has a little more speed than the 225gr bullets I've been shooting, and I need to see how it does through my Remington.  In the meantime, I PROMISE I will stop using the scope as a carrying handle.

My Saiga is fine, and fun.  I'm not sure, but I think for close in work, I like it better than my AR.  It could just be I'm a little happier with the bigger hole it makes.  Consistent head shot accuracy at 50 yards, torso at 100 yards.  Once again, I need to just pick a load.  Having bought many different things when they were on sale, I found myself at the range with Silver Bears 125gr SP, Wolf 122gr FMJ, and Wolf 154 gr SP.  The 154gr stuff was a DOG at 100 yards.

Not much to talk about for the handguns.  50 rounds of 9mm through the CZ-75, and then 30 rounds of .380 through the Firestorm, and 20 through my Kel-tec, with a final 40 rounds of .22 through my Mk II.  The Mk II was the last thing I shot, and by the end, I was very dismayed by the amount of quiver in my front sight.  My hands and forearms were getting tired.  

Now, for the heartwarming part of the story.  Things began thinning out about an hour into my range session.  At one point, three folks showed up...husband, wife, and a little old lady.  Turns out the little old lady was 83 years old.  Her name is Nila, and she was visiting her daughter and son-in-law from the Philippines.  She had never shot a gun in her life, but by golly, she was going to now.

Her son-in-law brought a Ruger Mk II, and a Smith snubby in .38.  She liked the Ruger much better than Smith, but what she liked even more was the Bushmaster my buddy(who was the range officer today) took out of the back of his truck.  It looks impressive...full size stock, with a 24 inch floating barrel.  Nila seemed a little nervous at first as he taught her the right way to hold it, and how to use the aperture sites.  Finally, he loaded 5 rounds into the magazine, and let her go.

I wish I had had my camera with me...the smile on her face when she got done punching holes into paper was priceless.  Luckily, her family was taking some pictures for her family.  I don't know what her friends will think when she goes back to the Philippines, but the shooting sports made one more fan today. 

Calgon, take me away!

I love my children, very, very much.  There are times though(and most parents will agree with me) when you need a little break from all that love.  Being in an apartment, there are only so many places a man can go to get away, and so, when I take my showers, I like no being disturbed.  Just me and the water.

This morning SWMBO had a dental appointment, and so I left the girls camped in front of the TV with orders to get dressed when their current episode of Johnny Test was over, and headed up stairs.

I had only been in the shower about 90 seconds when the water started cycling hot and cold on me.  No problem...kids going to the bathroom down stairs.  After about the third flush in a row, I started getting a little curious about what was going on, but I didn't need to be curious long...there was the clatter of little footsteps, and then my youngest was outside the door.  'Daddy...the toilet downstairs is overflowing!'

Sigh.  I thought about hiding in the shower until the water went cold on me, but we can't hide from our responsibilities.  Besides, as I thought about what had happened earlier in the morning, I remembered using a handful of paper towels to clean some recycled mouse out of the snakes tank about an hour before hoping in the shower, so, chances are, I'M the one who caused the tank to back up in the first place.

Besides, by saving the hot water, I was able to finish my shower after fixing the toilet!

And just how long can one BE drunk?

Funny little story(it's funny because no one actually died) about a man in Malone, New York, who wanted his ex-girlfriend dead.  He wanted her dead SO bad, that he was willing to pay one of his friends $15,000 kill her in a car accident.  Of course, if the car accident didn't kill, her, he wanted to make sure the guy finished the job by cutting her throat with a piece of broken glass to finish the job.  He even gave him a $500 down payment. 

Luckily, the guy didn't need $15,000 that bad, so he got together with the police to nail one Mr. Clyde Gardner.  Hollywood always makes it look like you can get rich being a hit man, but I'm not sure I would want to have to kill 4 or 5 people a year...of course, I guess that $15,000 is tax free.

Now, what makes this whole thing funny is that the staged car accident was Gardner's 2nd idea.  His FIRST Idea had been to kill a bear, then using the bear skin as a disguise(even wearing the feet to cover his foot tracks) he was going to maul his ex-girlfriend one night while she was taking out the trash.  With the recent increase in bear attacks, this might have worked PERFECTLY.  The only real justice would have been if some hunter had shot him while he was running around in his bear disguise. 

When he was arrested by the police, his excuse had been that he was drunk, and when he sobered up he was going to call things up.  The story doesn't say whether he was drunk during the bear skin idea, OR the 'car accident, cut her throat with safety glass' idea.

My guess is that the answer is 'Yes'.  Dude in upstate New York needs to lay off the 30-pack cubes of Genesee Cream Ale. and splurge for some Labatt's or even better some Yuengling...come up with better ideas that way. 


There is always something worse...

So, in the past I have complained mightily and with much sniveling about how much I dislike working double-shifts for overtime at my job.  Today, I learned that there is something worse than working a swing's double shift(0700-2330)....working a GRAVEYARD(2330-1630) double shift.

Ick...so normally we get off at 4:30 in the afternoon...yesterday I was able to sneak out a little early to attempt to prepare myself for the overnight shift.  I crawled into bed about 3:30 in the afternoon, and took a nap until the smell of dinner cooking caught my attention, making me go downstairs to visit my with my family for a bit.  I finally crawled back into bed about 6:30, with the alarm set to wake me up at 10PM.

Turns out there was no alarm needed....I simply tossed and turned, and looked at the clock every 15 minutes, until finally, about 9:15 I thought falling to sleep then make things worse instead of better, so...yeah, headed into work last night on the strength of a 1.5 hour nap.  Yay!

Luckily, the job we were coming for actually happened, and we made forward progress.  Once again, sticking with my 'there is always something worse' theory...going in at 11:30 to do nothing has GOT to be worse

Once day-shift rolled around, work slowed to it's normal glacial pace, to the point where my amazing boss told me I should take off shortly after lunch.  Not one to need to be told something twice, I bailed....and I guess technically I still haven't worked a graveyard double shift, because I didn't make it all the way through the 2nd shift.

And now, I am home, and totally useless.  At least on a swing shift, I am still able to come home and get 5 hours of sleep before going having to go back to work...now with a whole 1.5 hours of sleep yesterday, I am getting more yawning and head bobbing than progress made.

Oh well...This is where I am supposed to say I am blessed just to have a job, and I am...but it's a tired blessing.

Check back later for non-whining related content.


The sum of their parts.

Today I finished reading Ringworld by Larry Niven.  It had been on my 'wanting to read' list for a while, and I finally found it. After seeing Ringworld on the NPR Top 100 Sci-fi Novels list(as well as several personal lists made after the NPR list went around), and knowing it won a Hugo, it's possible I let my expectations get a little bit too high.  It was a good book, but I'm not sure I can say it was a GREAT book.

It certainly didn't compare(in my mind at least) to some of Niven's collaborations with Jerry Pournelle, much like Jerry Pournelles few solo efforts I've read weren't as good as the stuff they wrote together.  Ringworld by Niven, and Birth of Fire and Exiles to Glory by Pournelle are all GOOD Books...but, Lucifer's Hammer and The Mote in God's Eye which they co-authored, are ALL TIME Greats.  They would both make my top 15 list.  Two other books they worked on together, Footfall and Fallen Angles would probably make my top 50 list.  Of the stuff they wrote alone, only Ringworld would have a chance of cracking my top 50. 

I'm not sure how people co-author a book.  Heck, I'm not sure how people SOLO author a book, but however Niven and Pournelle made it work, they had quite a run for themselves from the mid 70's through the early 90's. 

Fallen Angles is probably the weakest of their collaborations I have read...it's a well written piece of fan fic.  Set in the future, the Earth has backslid into a new ice age fueled by ignorance.  One can tell that when the book was written, Mr. Niven and Pournelle were not big fans of 'global warming'.  In the book, they put forward the theory that the green house gases being produced by our industrial base is the only thing keeping an ice age at bay, which I find to be a neat idea....and one with at least some scientific basis.  The only place science is still allowed is in orbit, where there are a few inhabited space stations.  Two of these residents crash land on Earth, and are rescued by the underground sci-fi community. 

Footfall involves an alien invasion, and Earth attempts to fight back.  This book is where I learned about Project Orion, the plan to send a ship in to space using focused nuclear explosions.  I thought that this was something 100% made up by Niven and Pournelle for this book, and was very surprised to find out it was actually something the government thought about once upon a time.

The Mote in Gods Eye is probably the finest Alien Contact story I have ever read.  The imagination and detail which goes into creating The Moties is amazing.  It is not an easy read...Niven and Pournelle are both purveyors of what you would call Hard Science Fiction, and they don't skimp here.  Not as good(well, I didn't think it would be) but still worth reading if you read The Mote in Gods Eye was the sequel these two worked on together called The Gripping Hand

Then, there is Lucifer's Hammer.  Quite possibly in my own top 5, it is perhaps the finest example of TEOTWAWKI fiction I have read...only The Stand comes close.  If 'Armageddon' or 'Deep Impact' had been even 10% as good as this book was, well, they would have been good movies(wasted that shot at an analogy).  The best part of Lucifer's Hammer is you get to see all stages of the story unfold...from people thinking they are going to be home free, to the ones who prepare at least a little bit, the ones who get their stuff looted, and then the ones who band together and survive.  I refuse to believe there are many serious 'preppers' who haven't read this story....but, if you haven't WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!???!?!?!?   It's WAY better than anything you are going to read here!  Get Going! 

And that makes sense because?!?!?!?!?!?

I've gone on record before as saying that is I ever find myself in legal trouble, there isn't a legal system in the world I would rather face than the United State Legal System.  Conversely, if me or mine were the victims of a serious crime, I would pick just about anywhere else in the world to see the perpetrator tried.  Our system is set up so that there is more chance an guilty person will go free than an innocent person will go to jail. 

Capital convictions are even tougher to get, and tougher still to get carried out.  Recently, state budget issues have entered into the discussion, with several studies and surveys proving that it is cheaper to keep someone in jail for life than to execute them

All that leads to things like this, where you have a guy toss gasoline on people at a New Years Party, then light them on fire, killing 6 people.  Today, he was sentenced to 198 years in prison. 

Now...I am impressed that they have a conviction already...it's only been 9 months, so getting a First Degree Murder Conviction this fast is the type of thing that usually only happens on Law and Order...but what sense does a 198 year sentence make? 

You mean to tell me it would be that much harder to get a death sentence than a 198 year sentence?  That's just lame.  I'm not disputing all the surveys and studies.  A look at the timelines and the number of appeals can prove that to anyone...I'm just not convinced that sentencing folks to 198 year prison terms is the right answer, and not trying to modernize/improve the way we follow through on capital crime convictions...maybe limit things to three appeals...kind of a three strikes and you're out deal...


The Coolest Invention EVER!!!!(today)

The last couple of work days, I've been playing quasi-hookey. 

My current position requires me to complete a qualification process, that consists of completing On the Job Training and Evaluation forms for different procedures/instruments, and then an Oral Qualification Board(Think a 4 or 5 on one interview) as both a technician AND a Supervisor, and then, finally two exams...a Department of Energy Core Fundamental Exam, and a Site Specific Radiological Knowledge exam. 

I'm usually a pretty good test taker...but confidence in my ability to pass these two exams was proving elusive.  My time in the Navy and the Shipyard(which are very similar), preparation for qualification exams were very...rigid.  Someone was teaching you the information, and when they 'told you three times' you knew what was important.  'Verbatim Understanding'(rote memorization) was the word of the day for definitions and you had to flat out KNOW your 'key words and tricky phrases'.  The exams were short answer and essay style, and on each RCT exam in the Shipyard, you knew you were going to face one 'complex problem' question, where you had to work your way through a casualty scenario, and then do all the math to prove what would have happened to anyone exposed to the radiological threat.  This one question alone usually involved 10-14 handwritten pages of an answer.

By comparison, the qualification tests here at Hanford are MULTIPLE CHOICE(or multiple guess, depending on how prepared you are).  Compared to the type of tests I was used to, these should have been a breeze...but...but...there was no one to horse me.  There were no practice exams.  There was no instructor stamping his foot when something was REALLY important to memorize. There was just me, and 275 pages of Core Knowledge and Site Specific Study Guides to chew through.

That was a big difference.  Focus was proving elusive, especially at work.  What I really should have done 9 months ago was tell my boss to pull me off-line for a week, and let me JUST STUDY.  He even offered, but know...I could study and do my job at the same time. 

Like Hell.  And so, I finally had to go beg my boss to NOW let me go hide in the training building for a few days so I could study, study, study.   Mission accomplished...I got a 94 on my core test, and an 89 on my site specific.

Mission accomplished, I set about whipping something up to bring in to my co-workers.  While I was hiding in a cubical with index cards and a highlighter, ignoring my cell phone, they were picking up my slack.  So, I thought, 'who doesn't like cookies?'

Because I forgot to bookmark the last cookie recipe I made, I had to start my search for a promising recipe all over again, and finally thought this one sounded promising: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Healthy too...whole wheat, oatmeal, I mean, heck, might as well have these for breakfast tomorrow.  I made two batches...one with chocolate chips, the other with butterscotch chips. 

As a warning...these are BIG BATCHES of cookies.  I ended up with somewhere around 50 cookies, which leads me to the Coolest Invention EVER!!!!(today)....Parchment Paper!  This stuff is the bomb....line two separate cookie sheets, and just keeping rotating back and forth.  The two sheets lasted me the whole time...cook a batch, cool them, pull them off the cookie sheet, and then, repeat with the same parchment paper.  Not one of those cookies came close to sticking, which was a bummer...you can't taste test cookies if they don't fall apart on their own....

This was just the butterscotch cookies...like I said...BIG BATCHES.  Me be much popular tomorrow.



Last week while visiting my mom, we decided to make soft tacos for dinner.  Since she doesn't quiet stock her house the way we do our, doing soft tacos for me, my two girls and her involved an $18 stop at Safeway.  One of the things that gave me a nasty bit of sticker shock were flour tortillas...I want to say the CHEAPEST, SMALLEST package of flour tortillas was in the $3.75 range.  I'm not sure what we pay for the packages of ours in the freezer, but I know it's not that much.  My wife buys them on sale, with coupons at Win-Co, and if I had to hazard a guess I would think we are paying 50% of what safeway was asking.

Dinner today was supposed to be chili(what it really turned out to be was some pinto beans and chicken dish that NO ONE from Texas would mistake for chili...not one of my better efforts in the kitchen).  Usually when we are having chili, our default accompaniment is cornbread.  Based on my sticker shock last weekend, I decided to give tortillas another shot at home.  Three previous attempts at making homemade tortillas had had variable results...none were really bad, none were really good, but then, how good does something need to be if you are putting cheese, refried beans, meat, cheese and sour cream on it? 

Today...I think I found a winner of a recipe.  My wife actually said the result was good.  No pictures, because they got eaten too fast.  They are best when warm, and that how we ate them. 

Dry Goods:

1 Cup of A.P. Flour
1 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt. 

Mix up the dry goods, then add your fat.  I have seen some recipes call for lard, some for shortening, and some for oil.  Today, I took a flier on my secret ingredient from the fridge...Bacon Grease!  Yup, melted up about a 1.5 TABLESPOONS of bacon grease, and then mixed it into the dry good until it started to get a little 'mealy' feeling, then added 3/4's of a cup of warm water, and proceeded to mix and knead.  It starts pretty sticky, but as you get all the flour worked in, it get a little easier to work with.  I'm lazy, so instead of flouring the counter to knead, I just worked it in the bowl.  Form it into a ball, and cover the bowl with a damp cloth for about 20 minutes.

Once again, since I hate clean-up, I placed paraffin paper on the counter, and cut the ball of dough into 8 pieces.  Each piece is rolled into a smaller ball, and then using a combination of a 9 inch pie tin and a rolling pin, each piece of dough was worked out to about a 6-8 inch circle...I'm just not patient enough to get them much thinner.  Cook each disk on your handy presto skillet for about 2-3 minutes aside(if you want, you can butter them a bit just before they come off)....and you are done.  Mine are not nearly as thin as what you get in the store, but the flavor(because of the bacon grease AND the whole whole wheat flour(and butter)) was FANTASTIC.  Much more of a soft-taco/gordita use than a full burrito/enchilada wrap. 

And noticeably cheaper than what things are selling for at the store, now.  I just curious how much thinner I could get them with an actually tortilla press...


Last night, I settled in for an 'old school' style movie with my wife.  We broke out the air popper(very old school) to make some popcorn, and dialed up The Expendables on Netflix(not quite so old school).

My initial impression of the movie is very...Meh.  I just couldn't stop staring at the ravaged ruins that used to be Sly Stalone's and Dolph Lundgren's faces to get very into the story.  Holy crap, I will never complain about the effect father time is having on me...those two guys look BEAT. 

The story...Sly leads a group of mercenaries to go do things for money, until he falls for a little for a girl, in which case things get personal...OH MY GOD...Micky Rourke looks worse than Sly and Dolph!!!!!!!

Okay...the story really doesn't matter...it's just an excuse for Sly, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Coture, and Terry Crews to shoot things, stab things, blow things up, and break some bones too.  For those purposes, it wasn't a totally horrible movie.  Quiet entertaining.  Statham and Jet Li kick the best butt...Stalone...I'm amazed the guy can walk without a limp or see out of his puffed up face.  Sad.  Randy Coture and Steve Austin(as a bad guy) are funny...dig seeing people in movie fights using body slams, pile drivers and reverse leg locks on each other. 

Yeah...lots of shooting(they actually run out of full magazines at one point!) lots of explosions, lots of throwing knives and then stabbing people with them. 

One part of the movie that sticks out in my mind is when Terry Crews fires up his magazine fed full-auto 12ga.  It's impressive(especially with exploding slugs).  My wife asked 'what the hell is that', and it's a sign of how cool my wife is that I was able to say 'that's a full auto shotgun, just like Owen uses in Monster Hunter'...and she knew what I was talking about.

She seemed a little bummed when I told her we really couldn't get one...but, now I might be one step closer to having permission to pick up a Saiga 12ga...

I'll give the movie a 6.5 out of 10...enjoyable, but...glad I didn't pay to see it at the theaters. 


Our newest nominee for Worst Parent in the World...

It's been a few weeks since I read a story that caused me to break out my 'there should be a license and test required to have children' soapbox, which is actually a good thing.  The kind of stories that cause me to break out in that kind of stuttering rage are often fatally tragic, and I would prefer to never have to read that kind of story.  This is the real world though, and so horrible things will continue to happen to children who don't deserve it happen to them.

Today's nominee is an as-yet nameless 26-year old mother of 4(5 years, two years, and twin 11-month olds), who apparently didn't realize that 11-month old twins CAN'T watch out for themselves in the bathtub.  She apparently left both babies in the tub to marinate for a while and she went and did whatever it is that 26-year old horrible people do while their children are BOTH allowed to drown in the tub. 

Holy Crap. 

The police didn't have any immediate answers or statements, although someone from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families said that 'Child Maltreatment' contributed to the two deaths.  Really?  How much is that state paying the person who made that decision.  What an understatement...leaving your two 11-month olds in the tub would be AT LEAST child maltreatment in my book.  Is there any proof of chronic maltreatment?  What kind of shape are the 5 and 2 year old in?

Talking to my wife, we both think there is something hinky going on here.  Now, we never walked away from our children taking baths until there were about 3 years old, and even with my almost 6 year old I check on her every 2 or three minutes...longer if things get quiet in the bathroom(it's strange that as a new parent, you want quiet, but as the kids get older, you get suspicious of quiet)...but, we were trying to figure out how long you would have to walk away from a bathtub for TWO 11-month old babies(old enough to sit up and try to stand/walk on their own) to drown.

That's where we get suspicious...for two 11-months old babies to BOTH drown in less than 10-15 minutes, that is some horrible bad luck...or, maybe(I feel like Nancy Grace here) they had a little help.  My initial gut feel on this(based off zero evidence, just an increasing dislike of the human race) if these poor children might have had some help.

Hopefully, more evidence/data comes out shortly on this story...I'd be interested to see an interview of the dad also...the stories say the guy was off at work when this happened...not sure how my mental stability would be after being told my two youngest children had drowned together in the tub because my wife forgot about them...

Ummm...and so your problem is WHAT exactly?

Here in the Northwest, one of the few things you can depend on, is that every few years The Boeing Company and one of it's Unions are not going to get along, leading to strikes and contract negotiation, which result in less profits for Boeing, and happy Union employees.

A few years ago, when Boeing decided to build a 2nd assembly plant for their newest plane, the 787 Dream Liner, they had to choose between adjacent to their current plant in Washington, or adjacent to their current plant in South Carolina. 

Boeing chose South Carolina, and have been constructing the plant for 18 months.  Now, in a move that BLOWS MY MIND, the National Labor Relations Board is taking Boeing to court, saying that their decision to build the new plant(and create 4000-7000 new jobs) in relatively problem free South Carolina instead of the Constantly Problem Filled Puget Sound Area, Boeing is engaged in company wide Anti-Union Retaliation, and that the US. Government should force Boeing to build all it's Dream Liners in Washington.


As a manager in an organization with a pretty strong union, I understand the concept of 'retaliation'.  Firing someone, giving them all the bad assignments, making their life a living hell, running them over with a car...that's 'retaliation'.  Building the plant in South Carolina, with cheaper land costs, cheaper taxes, AND cheaper labor(lower cost of living mostly, and less experience, so higher top pays) is economics.  NO one in Washington LOST a job because of this decision by Boeing...the new jobs just went to a different area.  Still in the US I might add....it's not like Boeing went to Mexico for REALLY cheap labor.

So, good for them.

Now, from a personal standpoint, even if Boeing had come out and said 'Yes, Machinist's Union, because you go on strike for 2 months every three years, we are tired of the headache, and are building all our new stuff in South Carolina, I STILL wouldn't have an issue with this, because it didn't cost the folks in Washington their job.  Heck, if Boeing packed up the whole company and went to South Carolina, I'm not sure I would have a problem with it!  That is an economics decision...good for them! 

My wife and I frequently disagree about Unions.  I see all that is wrong with them, she mostly sees the good things.  As a nurse, she sees the protections offered to employees...as a manager, I see weak workers being shielded an coddled.  Not all union employees are weak employees, but it's fascinating how many weak employees carry a union contract around with them. 

Even in this era of economic horror, it's the union employees who cling to their contract mandated pay raises, while everyone else get pay freezes or cuts.  It's Union Pensions(which I will admit, stupid politicians agreed to!) that are an untouchable part of budgets. 

Sigh.  So...in this case, in my mind, what happened is Boeing cleanly and legally ran an end around past the powerful unions here in the Northwest, and I say Bravo. 


Well, here's an idea...wear it!

For the 2nd time in a two year period, an 80-year old man in Bremerton had his Rolex Watch stolen, and for the 2nd time in two years, he got it back from the same pawn shop in downtown Bremerton.

The story starts in late 2009, when a guy came in and pawned a genuine Rolex at Callow Pawn and Jewelry for the grand total of $60.  The shop owner realized that in the pawn business, you 'can't be judge and juries', but as a good bit of CYA, he wrote down the serial number and reported it to the police, which he says is routine with most merchandise he buys. 

Fast forward a while, and earlier this year, the watches rightful owner is in THAT pawn shop, looking for watch batteries(I know, pawn shops aren't where I go for batteries either) and makes a comment about having 'bad luck with watches'.  He then proceeds to tell the owner of the shop a hard luck story, going as far as to give him the name of the guy he thinks stole it from him.  Sure enough, that is the name the pawn shop owner wrote down buying it from, so, he gave the guy back his watch.  Good karma. 

On Monday of this week, the 80-year old man shows back up at the pawn shop, with another sad story.  His Rolex has once again grown legs and walked out of his house.  This time he feels it was the 'trusted young man' who does his yard work.  By coincidence, later on that very afternoon, two young men walk into the shop with the watch in question.  Our helpful clerk uses his cell phone to get some video of them, as another employee writes down their license plate number, and they are soon speaking to the Bremerton Police.

What a happy ending in a coincidence filled story.  Bremerton isn't a big city, but it's also not THAT small of a town.  I can think of at least 5 pawn shops I used to drive past in Bremerton without even thinking hard...for that watch to end up in the same one twice...pretty world. 

This also says a lot about who you can trust. 

For me, the only reason this story really caught my eye was the Rolex.  Since I was in my early 20's, for some reason a Rolex always struck me as one of the ultimate 'I have made it and am financially successful' rewards you could do for yourself....I mean, spending $5,000 for a watch, when there are watches that cost 5 percent of that that are amazing looking has GOT to be one of the ultimate 'have money to burn' symbols. 

It's still on my list, behind an RV, a boat, a 4-wheeler, a new car for SWMBO, college for the kids, a Barrett .50...and the list get's longer...


Yeah! Save that taxpayer money!

Yesterday, the fine State of Texas executed a man who most certainly 'had it coming'.  Lawrence Russell Brewer, convicted of the 1998 dragging death of James Boyd Jr, had his sentence carried out yesterday(FINALLY). 

Before receiving his lethal injection(too good for him) Mr. Brewer, as is traditional, had a By Request last meal, and Adam Richman, of Man V. Food would be proud.  The condemned had the following dinner order: 

two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts.
 Man, you swap out the fried okra for mozzarella sticks, and that sounds A-okay. 

The kicker is, Lawrence Brewer didn't eat any of it.  Now...I'm not sure if this was a case of 'let's stick it to the man one more time, and run up the food bill' or, he just got to the moment of truth and decided he couldn't eat.  Having never been on death row, I can't envision how pending execution would effect my appetite.  I would like to think I would have choked down a few bites of chicken fried steak though...finish strong, like my boss always says.

During some of the...less exciting times I have had in my life, I remember sitting around and playing the 'What would your last meal, be?' game.  We used to limit ourselves to one of every course, unlike what is allowed by the generous Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  Or rather, what used to be allowed by the generous Texas Department of Criminal Justice, because after hearing about the extreme(and budget busting) amount of food provided for the late Mr. Brewer, State Senator John Whitmire, Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee wrote a letter to the Executive Director of the Department of Criminal Justice, that basically said, 'Either You Knock That Shit Off, or I Will'.

Seeing the writing on the wall, the Department of Criminal Justice said that from this point on, the Condemed would receive the same meal as the other inmates. 

Bravo for the Senator, for taking a stand over this.  His reason was succinct, and spot on:  'Mr. Byrd didn't get to choose his last meal.  The whole deal is so illogical'

I agree, even if this IS going to cost me a way of passing time in the future...just glad I'm not the NEXT guy...he may have been thinking about his last meal for YEARS, and now he's going to get salisbury steak or nutri-loaf. 

Remind me not to commit a capital crime in Texas...


All that hot air is melting my ice cream!

I like ice cream...lot's, and Ben and Jerry's makes some of the best.  In fact, their ice cream is SOOOOOO good, I have had a hard time at jumping on any kind of Ben and Jerry's boycott over the fact that they have given tons o' cash to the Children's Defense Fund .  Ire and anger are one thing...but being able to live without a pint of Chubby Hubby?  Not sure I can do that.  Especially since our side is winning...

One thing Ben and Jerry's has always kind of been known for is the humorous names of some of their flavors.  Recently B & J(not to be confused with Bartles and Jaymes, which I'm not eve sure is made anymore) announced they were going to once again tap in to the pop culture zeitgeist and introduced a new seasonal flavor 'Schweddy Balls', named after one of the funnier Saturday Night Live sketches of the last...oh...20 years or so. 

What a genius sketch.  Great acting though...it's not Shakespeare, but damn...to be able to make it through that whole sketch live, with barely a smirk, is impressive. 

Now, of course, because the sketch is slightly 'naughty' and people might laugh and snicker to each other while eating the tasty ice cream, and that might be TOO much fun, some people feel the need to protest. 

I'm thinking the name of that group might be a little bit of hyperbole.  I REFUSE to believe that there are one million mothers out there who are outraged enough over the name of this ice cream to sit down and right a letter to the folks that run Ben and Jerry's.  Please.

I'm kind of curious though....a lot of times when you right a letter expressing displeasure with a company, that company will send you some type of coupon or certificate for a free sample of said products.  I wonder if Ben and Jerry's would try bribing me if wrote them a letter...

Oh, who am I kidding...I'm willing to pay for it, and with the temperature expected to break 90 again this Friday and Saturday, I might have the excuse I am looking for. 

Getting lost can lead to bad things...

Yesterday, an unfortunate bull moose took a wrong turn at Albuquerque, and ended up stuck in an irrigation canal just north of Pasco Washington.

A bunch of big heads, as well as some folks with common sense got together, and after several attempts top herd the bull around and out of the canal, it was decided that there was no real safe way to get a riled up 1000 pound bull moose hauled out of a canal with steep 20 foot concrete sides...alive that is.  After several hours of contemplation, the Fish and Game Department made the decision to put the moose down.  

Kind of a bummer....the moose population is doing pretty good in the north-east corner of the state.  I want to say that back in 1993, there were 10 tags issued for modern firearms moose hunting in Washington...this year there were over 100 tags issued.  It's still a 'life-time' draw for moose here...if you get selected for a moose tag, it's the only one your ever going to get, so, seeing a moose get 'wasted' is kind of a bummer, but, I think the folks on the scene made the right call. 

Once the moose was shot(in case you were wondering if a 12-gauge slug is 'enough gun' for moose, it is!), a tow-truck was used to drag the moose out of the canal.  Once on dry land, two volunteers from the Richland Rod and Gun Club Lyle and Gilk Berry, field dressed the animal, and the meat was going to be delivered to the Union Gospel Mission in Pasco, so...it's not a total waste, and a somewhat happy ending. 


Awww...it's so cute!

Well, because I'm a sucker for peer pressure, and all the cool kids are doing it, I guess I need to post a picture of whatever knife I have in my pocket. 

It's a Cold Steel Urban Pal.  The blade, since you are busy snickering, is 1.5 inches long, and it is satisfactorily sharp.   I am currently a victim of my own worry.  Two weeks ago, as part of our weekly 'tailgate' presentation at work, which serves as a catchall for small safety and security topics, there were a few paragraphs talking about a 'renewed emphasis' on 'allowable knives' at work.  I'm a big enough coward that I decided to let my Kershaw Leek sit at home in the drawer for a while.  Truthfully, in the past few weeks, I haven't run into a task the Urban Pal couldn't handle.  

No compensating for anything on this side!


Well, at least it didn't 'just go off'.

Some lessons are more painful that others.  This weekend in Wenatchee, a gun store patron learned a painful one. 

One can only imagine how the conversation went, but that doesn't really matter...what does matter is that somehow(surely in the interest of making a sale) the gun store proprietor ended up handing the patron the gun off his own hip.  While in the process of examining said pistol, the customer then proceeded to blow one of his own fingers off.  


There isn't much to the story...guy says he didn't know it was loaded, and then doesn't follow The Rules.  Losing a finger is painful, but when bullets start 'accidentally' flying around the inside of a store, losing a finger is about the cheapest lesson you can learn.  The gun store employee perhaps showed questionable judgement in handing over his own loaded gun for showing off, but speaking only for myself, if someone hands me a gun off their hip, I'm going to assume it's loaded, since there isn't much purpose in carrying an empty gun. 

Hopefully, it's a lesson he doesn't need to learn twice. 


Sunday driving music

Given a choice, I'm not a big fan of 'pop music'.  Blame it on my not wanting to conform.  I prefer country or 'classic rock' to most of what is new on the radio today.  There are some spots in the drive over the mountains between the Seattle suburbs and the Tri-Cities area though, where beggars can't be choosers.  Today on the way back from my mom's I heard two songs that kind of caught my interest.

The first one I mistakenly identified as a new Shania Twain song, and was surprised to find out was actually Lady Gaga.  Whatever else she might be, the lady can put out a product that rattles around in your head.  I am posting a video with lyrics, because the official video for the song is just plain strange.

The other song I heard was a remake of Lynyrd Skynards 'Simple Man'...and while the Lady Gaga song just rattled around in my head, I genuinely LIKED this song by Shinedown.  Very similar to the original, with just a punch of 'something extra' to update it.


Ummm...just 30?

Entertainment website Totalfilm posted a fortuitously photo-filled list of Christina Hendricks' 30 Sexiest Moments, and while I appreciate the effort, I find myself asking 'Only 30?'  Come on...even SWMBO knows how I feel about this lady. EVERYTHING she does is Sexy.  Blame it on my infantile bias.  I am what I am, and nothing is changing that. 

I am FAR from alone in my opinion of Mrs. Hendricks...even in the relatively limited pro-gun bloggers community.  Jay G recently had a post about the possibilty of Mrs. Hendricks playing Wonder Woman, proving he is an allright guy despite being trapped in Massachusets. 

Now, a confession on my part here.  Despite my opinion being that Christina Hendricks is one of the sexiest women EVER(red hair and Jessica Rabbit-like curves) she is NOT perfect.  She doesn't sing country music, and I can't picture her as Wonder Woman, even though I would LOVE to see attempts to fit her in the costume.  For me, other than Linda Carter, the next best choice for Wonder Woman would have been Lucy Lawless at her Xena Warrio Princess peak.  A distant 3rd would be Gina Carcano of American Gladiator and MMA background. 

Ummm...and that's all I have.  A few semi-gratuitous excuses to talk about Christina Hendricks and link to some other attractive women. 

I suppose as a father of daughters, I should get offended, because Chistina Hendricks is someone else's daughter.  Somewhere, her father needs to live with the fact that his daughter is a 'sex symbol'...and I'm sure he is.  Christina Hendricks can not help what she is...she is working with what Mother Nature(and L'Oreal) gave her.  She has not embaressed herself anywhere along the line...her father has nothing to hide his head about.  You can be sexy and successfull because you are sexy without you or your father feeling the need to hide your head.   So, as Bill Murray said, 'I've got that going for me'.


I SOOOOOOO don't get technology...I can post things on my blog, but the very same computer won't let me respond to commments on previous posts. Sigh.

I give up...gonna throw the girls and the World's Greatest Nana in the car in few to go catch a matinee of the Lion King re-release.  As a father of children to young to see it originally, I guess that puts me squarely in their target demographic. 

Hakunah Matata! 

It's not your goals, but rather your process I take issue with.

A few months ago, a couple of teenagers in the town of Battle Ground, Washington(near Brush Prairie(which doesn't help) but close to Vancouver, Washington, which might help) were arrested for shooting some cats.  Somewhere between 50 and 100 of them to be somewhat more precise.  Originally, there were plans to try them as adults, but cooler heads prevailed, and for now they have been placed under house arrest, pending some actual time in a juvenile detention center. 

There is nothing in the article to indicate that these kids were picking off family pets.  In fact, the article from June states that 'Officials and animal advocates in southwest Washington weren't previously aware of violence targeted at cats in the area', although the article then contradicts itself, closing with a quote from the Battle Ground Police saying this could close 5 cat shooting cases in recent months.   This probably means that these kids were mostly directing their efforts to a quite out of control feral/stray cat population.

I am a self-admitted 'cat person'.  I like cats more than dogs...much easier to take care of, and at heart, I am lazy.  I have 100% zero problems with a permanent solution to the feral cat population.  I think it is a much better solution than the 'trap them, neuter them, and let them back out again' crowd pushes...much less expensive.  IF it is done safely. 

One of my coworkers who lives in a more rural section of the Tri-Cities has a cat problem.  He recently acquired an internally suppressed Ruger Mk II just to handle this specific situation(well, any excuse to get a new gun is a good one).  He knows the cats of his neighbors, and pretty much has open season on any unrecognized cats, with a good backstop hill behind his house.  

These kids were driving around in a Ford Explorer, 'Road Hunting'.  That's what finally got them caught, was rolling through a neighborhood in their Explorer and pulling a 'drive by'.  100% not cool.   If I can't road hunt with a loaded rifle during deer season, they can't either.  Yup...it really comes down to jealousy for me.  Battle Ground is kind of your last stop on the southern side of the Mount Saint Helen's wilderness area.  As long as these guys weren't picking off fluffy in front of the kids in a front yards, I have no problem with them shooting 1000 feral cats.  They weren't injuring them with BB Guns, or using them for Dark Masses...they were bored rural kids, and I'm glad they decided not to try them as adults.  A 2nd chance is warranted here. 

Clean up your brass, dispose of the carcasses, and don't carry loaded rifles and shoot in NEIGHBORHOODS from moving cars.  If they did nail any family pets, slap their wrists...have them apologize to any little kids whose cats they killed...having to deal with a house full of crying kids SHOULD get through to them.   Make sure they understand what safety rules they were violating, and them sentence them to spend 6 months in a stand over a couple of open cans of Friskies...direct their talents and interest to GOOD.  IF they swing through a 2nd neighborhood, and prove they didn't learn THAT lesson...then lock them up and throw away the key. 

One year

One year ago today, I posted my first blog entry, a rambling history lesson trying to describe the forces and past that made me the me you know, and what I hoped to get out of this blog.  So, far, the world domination has not gone quiet the way I planned....no corporate sponsors(or even free gear to test and review) but, my wife says this forum to vent and get out some of the rage I occasionally feel at the world means the colors of my face usually stop at red, instead of making it all the way to purple.  This blog is just as much(if not more) for me, than it is for other people.  

It's not just a site to vent my rage at all that is wrong with the world...I do let the occasional nugget of gun related(which I must get better at, so I can stay on the Gun Bloggers Blacklist)... or preparation related knowledge slip out.  Aside from that, it is my journal...it's so that a few years from now, when Bella is yelling down the hallway that she hates me because she's a 13-year old girl, and Hollywood tells me that will happen, I can open things up and remember.  Look....on May 2nd, we went to Palouse Falls and had a great time.  I can remember how back on July 28th, of 2011 she was so excited to learn that she built a tinker toy Archaeopteryx and proceeded to learn the whole family up about it. 

Having those memories, and being able to remember them in that manner is very important to me.  It's the proof that everything else we do is worth while.  

As I write this, I find that over the last year, I have logged 556 posts...which, while a fine number, was not intentional.  I am closing in on my 10,000 visitor to the site.  I know that some people get 3-4 times this in one day, let alone a year, but, hey...I'm gratified that anyone visits and cares enough about my adventures to post their opinion.  I am satisfied to know that both those number will continue to go up as time passes....my plans for world domination have just been delayed, not ended. 



Ooo...it's a test!

SWMBO has already left for the weekend...she is going to the Women of Faith Conference in Spokane for the weekend.  Amy Grant is the headliner, and as someone who was 'coming of age' in the early 1990's, I wouldn't mind seeing the old Amy Grant, but I'm not sure there would be anything to gain by a guy like me crashing a Women of Faith concert.

Anyway, as I was contemplating a busy weekend with my daughters, sitting around in our PJ's, eating take and bake pizza and watching Phineas and Ferb, SWMBO 'recommend' that I take the girls to visit my mom.  She was planning on taking the girls in Mid-October while I was deer hunting, but it's not like Nana or the girls would mind seeing each other two months in a row.

The only real protest I had was that HER plan would involve me spending 4 hours in the car, each way, all alone with the girls.  Her answer was the same one she uses on our darling children: 'Suck it up, Buttercup'.

So, shortly, we will be jumping in the car to head to Kirkland.  My goal is arrive just before rush-hour traffic locks down the I-5 corridor, and maybe make a stop or two along the way(well, with 6 and 9 year old bladders, there will be at least one stop...oh hell, who am I kidding....my 36-year old bladder will need at least one stop, also).

This will be a major test of acclamitization for me....how used to Eastern Washington have I gotten.  Wednesday at Hanford, it was 95 degrees.  Today(and tomorrow, and the next two months) in Kirkland it's supposed to be 63, and drizzly.  I used to LOVE that weather...now we'll see if like my wife, I complain about growing mildew as soon as I make it over the pass. 

You might not be watching the funniest show on T.V....

Unless you are a parent, you might have heard of the show Phineas and Ferb.  If not...I feel badly for you, for your life does not have as much humor in it as it could.

As a show on Nickelodeon, I didn't really pay a lot of attention to Phineas and Ferb when my kids first started watching it, other to make sure it didn't fall into 'Sponge Bob' territory(True digression here...we don't let our kids watch Sponge Bob.  Today, the girls had their check-ups at the doctors, and I guess 'Sponge Bob' was on the T.V...out youngest asked my wife if it was okay if they stayed in the same waiting room while 'Sponge Bob' was on...I love my kids.).  After a few months though, I actually started paying attention, and found out the show was quiet entertaining.

The title characters, Phineas and Ferb are genius step-brothers, just trying to find out something cool to do each day on their summer vacation.  That something to do usually involves building some gadget or invention with their friends.  Candace is the older sister who lives to see the boys 'busted'.  Phineas also has a pet platypus, Perry, who is actually an undercover super-agent, who spends each episode locked in combat with his 'evil' nemesis, Heinz Doofenshmirtz, who much like the boys, creates some new 'inator' each show to assist him in some plot to menace the Tri-State Area.

Got it?  Hey...it's a Nickelodeon cartoon...play along.

I love it...and luckily my girls do to...so, it's not like I usually need to force them to watch it, although it is my default if the girls can not agree on something to watch on netflix on their own.  The show gets positive reviews, and the creators must know it is not just children watching it.  Dr. Doofenshmirtz's plot usually involve a look into his backstory and childhood, and the humor there is well beyond my children. 

Last week, the boys engaged in a bicycle race with bikes they had created.  One of the charecters was dealing with confidence issues, so bring in special guest Greg LeMond, former Tour de France winner.  After a pep-talk, Greg LeMond points out he's won the Tour de France THREE times, so he knows what he talking about.  Baljeet, the nervous little Indian boy, looks up and him and quips 'So, like recently?'  Greg's answer of 'that's not the point' is the point.  My kids(and the target audience you would expect to find for a Nickelodeon Cartoon, has ZERO idea who Greg LeMond is...he is their purely for that joke so the parents can giggle along).

Anyway...if you have never seen any Phineas and Ferb, I HIGHLY recommend you check it out on netflix...it's Funny Funny stuff.


There are worse smells to come home too....

Earlier in the week, SWMBO got a wild hair, and after a morning of home schooling ran down to the local U-Pick Orchard with the youngin's...and possible bit off more than she could chew.  She came home with nearly 60 pounds of peaches and gala apples, forgetting that there were doctor appointments, and a night of dinner out with my management team at work that were going to interfere with her canning plans. 

Finally, today she was able to get her prioritize straight, and while she still has more progress to make, she has cranked out Strawberry Peach Jam, Spiced Strawberry Peach Jam, Apple Butter, and the current batch is peaches in syrup, with several jars of apple sauce to follow that, and maybe some canned apples(for crumbles and pies!)  I was brave to enter the kitchen to give her a kiss when I got home, then rapidly got out of her way.

Needless to say, the apartment smells AMAZING.  Too bad for you, internet visitor! 


Go away!

Well, after summer being late to arrive here in the inland Pacific Northwest, it now doesn't want to leave.  Out at Hanford, we finally had our first 100-degree day of the year over the last weekend.  It also is the latest in the year they have EVER had a 100 degree day. 

While I know this is nothing compared to what they have had to deal with in Texas, I am hoping the heat breaks soon.  Deer season is rapidly approaching, and deer hunting when it's 75-degrees is no fun...deer hunting mornings are supposed to be cool and crisp.


You're NOT helping!

Today when I got home from work, SWMBO was eager to show me some of the stuff she covered with my younger daughter for homeschooling.  Maureen turns 6 this year, and if she was in public school, she would be starting kindergarten.  My wife kind of treated last year as 'kindergarten light' and this year, she is hoping to be able to get her through 1st grade stuff.  Either way, even without trying to quantify things with a number, Maureen is at the point where things are starting to happen fast for her from an intellectual standpoint, and I am proud of my wife for pushing things in the right direction.

Even if I don't always help.

Todays lesson had been about life, and things that grow.  You know, trees grow, and frogs grow so we know they are alive.  Rocks don't grow, so we know they aren't alive.

After hearing this criteria for 'life' I looked at my wife through narrowed eyes, and asked what this meant for the status of Crystals. 

Luckily, while she was in the kitchen, there was no frying pan handy to throw at me.  'That's exactly why your older daughter wasn't in the room when I was trying to teach that section.  She would have asked the same thing!' 

I'm really not sure why she keeps me around.

Just now getting cameras?

Quick little news story in the Tacoma Tribune about how the Lakewood Police Department(where many episodes of Cops have been filmed) received a Federal Grant to install dashboard cameras in their patrol cars.

I thought that was pretty cool...but two things here surprised...first, that they didn't already have them, and 2nd, the line in the story that said:

The department will join the Steilacoom Department of Public Safety as the only law enforcement agencies in Pierce County with the cameras.
Color me naive and uninformed...you mean to tell me that the City of Tacoma Police Department doesn't have dashboard camera's already?  Holy Smokes...I thought in this day and age that EVERYONE had dashboard cameras in their police cruisers.  

I know if I was a good cop, I'd be begging my department to get dashboard cameras.  

The third and final thing that caught my eye was in the sidebar of the story, where it listed out what different departments were going to do with their grant money.  Scrolling down to Olympia, we see that they got $16,414 in grant money, and they intend to use it to install 2 cameras in additional police cars.  Umm...let's see, carry the one...so, over $8,000 PER CAR to install a video camera? 
Wow.  Tell you what, I'll write up a contract to wire up both cars for $10,000 even...save the tax payers $6,000...

$8,000 per car...ridiculous.


Housekeeping help.

Spending my Sunday afternoon going back and forth between watching football and doing some cleaning, although with the way the Seahawks/49's game is shaping up, it looks like there might be more cleaning than watching. 

One of the things needing cleaning up is the snakes tank...I clean the poop out as soon as I see it, but I've decided once a month it would be nice to take give the tank a good going over.  This is more frequent than the lost owner did it, but it's also an excuse to take the snake out and handle her. 

Last time I did this cleaning, I just stuck Gloria in a pillow case while I did the dirty work.  Today, I decided to enlist the help of two beautiful assistants. 

I know it kind of looks like they are fighting over the snake, but the truth is that neither one of them had the dexterity or arm span to handle it alone.  I just told them to stand facing each other, with their arms bent at the elbow, and placed the snake on their arms.  
If anyone out there ever wants a snake, while it has only been about 6 weeks, I can not recommend a corn snake highly enough.  This snake has never so much as hissed or showed it's teeth, or even pretended to strike at anything other than it's mouse.  

Back to work...have a pot of turkey chili going to be be served on mashed potatoes later on tonight for dinner. 

That Day.

September 11th. Earlier this week, as I was skipping through blogs, someone(and I'm sorry I can't find it again to give proper credit for the idea) forwarded the idea 'You know, we didn't do a ten year memorial after Pearl Harbor...because we had already gotten our payback.  The Japanese lost, so did Bin Laden.  Time to move on.'

That is a good point, and I can't say I'm going to do a 9/11 post 'just because everyone else is doing it', because NOT everyone else is doing it.  I'm not as cool as Tam though, and since I didn't have this blog going last year until after 9/11, well...I guess I can talk real quick about it.

I was driving to work when it happened, at the Trident Submarine Base, in Bangor, Wa.  I was still in uniform then. The initial stories were just kind of making the radio news while I was heading in...I was through the security gates at base prior to any change in security status.  I WOULDN'T be able to say that on the way home.  I'm not a government intelligence agent, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night...when then reports changed from one building, to both buildings...could it have been anything other than deliberate?

Everyone was whispering about the news reports, and we had one of the computers at work constantly refreshing on one of the news channels.  I believe I called my wife shortly after arriving at work, and woke her up and told her to turn on the news. 

What I remember the most from that morning is the confusion on the news.  Folks were getting calls from their wives: 'There are still SIX planes out of contact'...initial casualty estimates of 50,000 when The Towers actually collapsed...yeah...No One had any clue what was really going on. 

Other than the confusion, the only other thing that really hit me hard then, and has stuck with me until now, is sadness for the folks that died.  NOT ONE of the victims left their house that morning thinking that was going to be their last day.  They headed out the door to go to work thinking: 'Well, at least it's not Monday!'  'One Day closer to the weekend' and 'Remember to get bread and milk on the way home'....Just like I did every day on the way to work.

I know when it comes to my own personal behavior, one of the few lasting things I changed after 9/11 was giving my wife a kiss every morning before I left the house.  I might have occasionally done it pre-9/11, but 9/11 drove home to me, more than anything, that every day could be your last.

There were hero's that day...and I pray that if I ever find myself in a similar situation, I would Do The Right Thing...run to the sound of the guns, help people get out...rush the cockpit.  But...until it actually happens, you don't know.  I saw more than one guy in the Navy who did fine during countless drill FREEZE when something actually started going wrong.  It happens...The folks on Flight 93 DID the Right Thing. The firefighters and other first responders DID the Right Thing.

I also spent a long time thinking about the phone calls.  The cell phone calls from folks trapped above the plane crashes, the last phone calls from the folks on Flight 93...what do you say?  What kind of voice mail message do you leave to sum it all up?  You can't...you have to leave that message everyday.  The folks leaving the messages were the lucky ones.

About 6 years ago, I guy I knew(can't say he was a friend, but I worked with him) was killed on the way into work.  He also lived in the town of Belfair, so 95% of his commute was the same as mine.  He was bombing along into work, and some dude high on more than life, crossed the center line, and wiped him out.  By all the accident reports, it was over fast...combined closing speed of 110MPH, car vs. truck.  Tom was heading into work on a Thursday, thinking 'only one more day of this' and then...gone.  Wife and two kids left behind...when was the last time he told them he loved them?  Did he go to bed not talking to his wife after a 'heated discussion'?  Did he crack his kids door open to peak at them before heading off? 

Life is full of horrible, horrible things...and sometimes those things happen to good people...people who had no clue it was coming, until it's already done.  That is what I took away from 9/11.  I knew we were going to get the folks who did it, sooner or later(wish it had been much sooner)...so I didn't take away a whole lot of anger. 

And that's what I did on my summer vacation!


Oh California...you kill me...

I had a dream the other night that some crazy State Senator down in California decided that working families and parents of small children didn't already have enough to worry about, so he thought it would be neat to introduce a bill requiring that 'domestic employee's'(like nannies and babysitters) be protected from the abuse they are suffering.  This protection would take the form of overtime pay, worker's comp protection, and a required 10 minute break every four hours, and a half hour lunch break after 5 hours...which means you as parent might need a 2nd childcare provider to watch your kids during that half-hour lunch break.  Finally, it would require 'domestic employee's' get paid at least minimum wage.

This dream was so realistic, I woke up checked things on the computer, only to find out it wasn't a dream!  

Okay...before I really get warmed up here, and people think I'm insulting nannies, I'm not trying to.  Caring for a child, especially someone else's child, is NOT something I think I could do for 40+ hours a week long term.  I have the ability, but fear I lack the temperament.

To be fair before ranting, this bill does have wording that exempts folks under the age of 18, and family members, so it is at least tailored so that what it really applies to are 'professional' home caregivers, making it slightly less heinous that it could be...kind of like finding out your doctor has small hands when you go in for a prostate exam. 

All those disclaimers out of the way, here's where I could potentially offend some people:  Despite the fact that I have already admitted being a nannie is not something I am sure I could do long term, I also don't think it is a form of employment that deserves to be treated like other forms of 'professional employment' deserve to be treated.  It must be something to do with California, because I went through this same slow burn several years ago, when the San Diego County grocery store employees were on strike, because they wanted better benefits and $20 an hour for moving groceries across an optic scanner....something I can now do myself at 50% of the stores out there.

Not all jobs are created equal, and in my world, I find it unreasonable that some people expect that every job provide a living wage, just because you happen to work it 40-hours a week.  I have ALWAYS felt that running a check-stand at a grocery store would be a 2nd-job type thing...not something someone should expect to make over $40,000 a year doing.  Look at me being all high, mighty and elitist. 

Hey, if we are talking a husband and wife that are lawyers, and they want to spend extra money for The Best Nannie Money Can Buy to take care of Thad and Buffy while they are off at work...fine...that's supply and demand.  They have money supply, they can demand the best. 

Bah...I'm not even sure where I am going with this anymore, because it simply frustrates me..and it shouldn't because I don't live in California, and I don't employee a Nannie for my kids...but that doesn't stop it from offending me to the bottom of my soul. 

There is a small part of me that hopes it passes.  Let California pass every goofy law it wants too...maybe it will give the rest of the United States an opportunity to see what happens when the 'Bread and Circuses' get out of control, before it's too late to fix things in the other 49 states...

Ugh, that was early.

One of my buddies at work was selected for a doe tag for this upcoming deer season, much to his surprise.  In Washington, you earn points each year you are not selected for a special permit, which then increases your chances in future years.  Since he was just selected two years ago, he really wasn't thinking he was going to be selected again so soon, so he just kind of threw a couple of preferred areas on the drawing worksheet.

The area he got selected for is a special hunt area around the town of Colfax, over near the Idaho border.  It's all agriculture land, and basically, I think what happened is that enough farmers and town-folk have complained about the deer taking food out of their children's mouth's that the WDFW issued 125 antler-less only tags for the area around town.  It's also an area that buddy has never been to before, and he decided that since we are about 6 weeks out from the start of modern firearm season, he should probably go at least check out the lay of the land.  He asked if I was interested in going along for the ride, and waited until I said sure to tell me that he was planning on heading out at 4AM, so he could see what was moving around.

It was a worthwhile trip.  I have only previously driven through Colfax twice, on my way to the WSU campus back in February.  This time around, riding in the passenger seat without children behind me, I got to look around and take in the scenery even more.  It's a neat area...mostly rolling hills, although there is an occasional windswept rocky outcropping, and then on the west side of Colfax, you start seeing actual trees growing on some of the hillsides that are too steep to clear for farming. 

Of the fields we drove by, I would say about a quarter of what we drive by looked to be totally open to public hunting...undeveloped state land.  Another quarter was clearly posted No Hunting, although one NICE looking area had a sign with a name you could contact to attempt to request permission for hunting.  Using the power of the portable internet, my buddy already looked up his phone number and left a polite message.

The availability of the other half of the land is sometimes hard to determine.  Obviously, if you see a farm house, it's easy to guess the land belongs to someone.  If you haven't seen a house for a mile or so though, and their is no fence, and the field isn't cultivated...well...each person has to have their own pain threshold.  The LAW is clear...hunting on private land requires permission. 

The advantage my buddy has is that he is running around with a doe tag.  Most landowners aren't going to mind you reducing the doe population, as long as you don't bother 'their' bucks.  He is planning to go back next weekend, looking nicer than we were dressed today, to do things the old fashioned way...knock a few doors, and just come out and try to politely describe what he is looking for. 

I have more than a passing interest in his luck finding someplace to hunt.  Most of Eastern Washington is listed as antler-less area for youth hunters, which means that when my daughters do express an interest in hunting, it would be really nice to have an in with a couple of landowners.

I'm just as willing to fill the freezer with does that my daughters shoot as I am to fill it with bucks I shoot. 


Newest Nominee for Worst Parent in the World.

Our newest Nominee comes to us from Dallas, where a two year-old girl is currently on life-support in a hospital over a POTTY TRAINING ISSUE

With both my daughters, there were times during the potty training process that I was extremely frustrated.  We did horrible, horrible things to them, like making them go sit on the toilet every two hours whether they needed too or not, or telling them no drinks after 7PM...at least, it felt to me like we were being horrible.  Even with my frustration, both of girls were potty trained by the normal age.

Never once, even at my most frustrated, did I EVER think that gluing a little girls hands to the wall was the right answer.  Making them sit on the toilet: applicable corrective action to the problem.  Gluing hands to the wall and beating them with a belt and a shoe so loud and so long your other kids can't sleep?  String her up.

Then, the mom act's all hysterical the next day when she calls HER mom...What did you think the result of gluing your child to a wall and beating them was going to be?!?!?!?!?!?

Potentially the same horrible result that happens when you don't give your child anything to drink for five days...and THAT one was in Texas also.  I know it's been a record hot summer down there this year...do you suppose peoples brains are beginning to cook? 

I hope and pray that this poor little girl recovers.  If she doesn't then I pray she doesn't suffer anymore.


More people seem to be getting it...

While patrolling the Seattle news stations for a rant-worthy story, I instead found this headline:

Learn 'urban self-reliance' at libraries this fall. 

I'm pretty jealous...Not all the classes catch my eye, but I would LOVE to be able to attend a free two hour class on apartment gardening or Keeping Chickens in the City, or finding edible weeds in your yard.  I have books that talk about that kind of stuff, but I am certainly someone who learns much better by listening and observing than I do from flat out reading.  I occasionally have visualization problems...I LOVE reading, I just don't always learn the best from reading.

Maybe I need to send my wife to visit my mom a few weeks over the fall...she can drop off the girls and go attend a few seminars...

Hope you weren't expecting much.

I had to work a double shift yesterday, and tonight is the first REAL NFL game...hope you weren't expecting much...I mean, I have two days worth of blog reading to catch up on. 

But, to reward your persistence, here is a song that has been stuck in my head for about 36 hours...

Take that!


Some people focus on the wrong things....

A few weeks ago, The System worked, and police officers in Mukilteo rescued an 'emaciated' ten year old girl from a bad situation. 

A store owner noted that the young girl came into the store with a gash on her arm, and a 'sunken face and the outline of her bones clearly visible.'  He called CPS, and the responded promptly, having the police make a house call.  It should be noted that this was not the first complaint lodged against these fine folks.  The police responded, and it sounds like the almost walked out, before the girl showed them her ribs.  The police removed her from the situation

While at the police station awaiting the CPS folks, the young girl ate 4 pop-tarts, some pretzels and some pop-corn.  After she was brought to the hospital by the CPS folks, she weighed 51 pounds, which is really close to what my daughter weighed at age 7....and she is not a big girl.

Hooray for the system.

Not everyone is happy though.  Margaret Walton, writing for the South Whidbey Record, was not pleased.  She feels that feeding a 51-pound 10-year old girl some pop-tarts, pretzels and pop-corn is horrible, horrible stuff. 

I don’t know about you, but to me that constitutes further abuse.
You're right...you don't know me.  What a silly, silly, thing to say.  Talk about being out of touch with reality, and not realizing how bad of a place the world is.  She also went on to through a few insults at most police officers in general, saying this must explain why she has 'not seen a svelte, trim, muscular-looking police officer, from Mukilteo or anywhere else, in any TV news broadcast for quite some time.'


The Mukilteo Chief of Police, took it upon himself to write Margaret Walson a nice letter. To his immense credit, Chief Caldwell kept the letter MUCH more professional than I think I would have been able to, which once again proves that I don't have it in me to be a 'good cop.'  He politely puts her in her place on the physical ability of police officers, while leaving zero doubt that he has the backs of his officers. 

 Well Done, Chief Caldwell.  Keep up the good work. 



Those are YOUR children.

Every-so-often, when our children begin to show certain traits, my wife and I will play the 'You know, YOUR child is very strange' game with each other.  I'm sure we aren't the only parents to do this....and yes, it always said with love.  Or at least usually.

Today was Day 8 at the house, which meant it was time to feed Gloria, our free corn snake. When I came home from work, before having dinner I removed a frozen mouse from the freezer, and began thawing it in the bathroom sink.  I recommend that if you are going to thaw a mouse in the sink, EVEN if you have it in a sealed plastic baggie, you should probably warn your wife before she goes into use the bathroom.  So, I already started out on strike 1....

After dinner, I changed the water out a few more times, trying to bring the mouse up to the 95-100 degree range.  Feeding itself is simple...we have a little pair of tongs, and using those I lower the mouse in the tank, shake it a few times, and Whammo!  The girls are usually fascinated by this, and I have been trying to work with Gloria, bringing her more out in the open before I let her strike the mouse.  Today went great, and she nabbed the mouse right at the front of the tank, so the kids had a great view of the whole process.

SWMBO walked by about halfway through this process, took one look in the cage, and walked away, gagging.  She did manage to get out 'Those are YOUR children' before heading out the door to the grocery store.  
I'm glad my kids are interested, and had not expected this level of blood-thirsty savagery from my little darlings.  For the life of me, I never expected I would have to say: 'You too stop pushing in front of the snake cage, or next week, I won't let you watch!'

Both of them are already begging to get to dangle the mouse in the cage...looks like I have something new(and unique) to leverage good behavior out of them. 

Canning Carastrophe!

My wife's been working on more canning over the weekend, apples this time.  She decided to split her apple stash between apple sauce and apple butter.  After her success with peach butter, she had a lot of friends and family express interest in getting their hands on some, so, the thinking was apple butter/peach butter...what's the difference.

Well, she kind of suffered her first real setback with canning.  Everything sealed up fine, but her attempt at apple butter just hasn't set up the way it was supposed to, and instead of 50-50 apple sauce and apple butter, we ended up with 50-50 apple sauce, and slightly thicker, sweeter apple sauce, that wasn't quiet apple butter.

Every story has two side...on the one side, I feel a little bummed for my wife, because things didn't go quiet how she hoped it would...and I feel way bad for the folks she planned on giving some too, because now they will have to wait and see if we can find more peaches or apples on sale as we roll into the fall, and they will have to wait for their tasty goodness. 

Then there is my side of the story, the happy side.  While the apple butter might not have set up well enough for her to give it to family and friends, it set up plenty good enough for use around the house...which means I have another 12 8-ounce jars to start working through.



So far, so good.(MRE Review)

I have been chomping at the bit ever since we ordered our box of MRE's to break one open and see what it's all about.  Finding the melted candles from our friends garage, which were the same conditions our MRE's were stored in, gave me the excuse I needed.  For the scientific purposes of our experiment, both my daughters were voluntold they had to play along.  SWMBO pulled rank to exempt herself, using some lame excuse about how 'Someone has to stay healthy enough to get the rest of you to the doctors.'

The MRE's in question are the SOPAKCO Sure-Pak, and are supposed to be the closest thing to actual military MRE's you can find.  Okay...so many choices...my package had Veggie Lasagna, Cheese Tortellini, Chili Mac, Chicken Pesto, Pot Roast and Barbeque Veggie Burger.  All of them sound like they could be potentially Foul, but through a complex selection process(ennie-meanie) I selected the BBQ Veggie Burger.

So...we have our BBQ veggie burger(With Smoke Flavor!), Mexican Style Mac and Cheese, wheat snack bread, blackberry jam, lemon-lime drink mix, chocolate banana snack bar, and, of course the condiment pack...which LACKS Tabasco sauce...lame!

While the veggie burger rested in the heater, we started breaking open some of the other stuff.  I lost some time here trying to figure out how to fit the mac and cheese in the heater with the burger, but it wouldn't fit...but it did fit in the box with the heater, so I thought that might get it 'hot enough'.  My younger daughter started mixing up the lemon-lime drink mix, while my older daughter tried the 'Wheat Snack Bread'.

The 'Wheat Snack Bread' was kind of unimpressive...very dry, even with the 'blackberry jam', which tasted nothing like the jam my wife has made.  My younger daughter didn't mind it, and it kept the girls distracted while the rest of the meal heated up.  The lemon-lime drink went over much better...daddy had to split it between two cups to stop the arguments.

Finally, after about a 10 minute wait, I plated up the food.  That heater is no joke...it got things pipping hot.  The selections smelled better than they looked, and as patriarch, I took the first bite to make sure things didn't suggest an immediate threat to my daughters.

Folks, I'm here to tell you...it wasn't half bad.  In fact, a piece of meat at the same time as some of the 'mexican style mac and cheese' was actually pretty good. I would have no trouble downing that after a stressful day of bugging out.  The girls agreed, and it's a good thing I took the first bite, because they didn't leave me much else.

We saved the chocolate banana snack bar for last....and it was pretty good.  Tasted like chocolate and banana....although, on an overall scale, the burger and mac and cheese were better.  
From a food quantity standpoint, I could see an adult, on the run, or under similar stress, needing two of these a day.  For my daughters, I think they could easily split one, especially with 'wheat snack bread' being set aside to tide them over in between major meals.

Two hours later, everyone's bellies seem to be doing fine.  The only real negative's on the MRE are no Tabasco, No Gum, and no matches, all things that I hear come in the real military MRE's.  Not a big thing...I have plenty of fire starting methods, and I can pack my own gum in my BOB...but I am not sure I can see myself carrying my own bottle of Chipotle Tabasco 'just in-case'.

Uh oh.

This evening, we went to have dinner at a friends house.  While there, we decided that we finally had the apartment under control enough that we could pick up a few boxes of our belongings that had been in their garage for almost 10 months now.  Upon returning home, we started opening boxes, promising each other we would be merciless in deciding what could stay, and what should go.  I mean, if something has been in someone else's garage for almost a year, you can probably live without it. 

One of the boxes was full of candles, which are a thing I feel you can't have enough of.  The bummer is that some of the candles have seen better days.

Obviously, it got a little warm in their garage, and well, it has me a bit worried.  Not about candles...we have lots of those.  However, we didn't just have candles in their garage.  We had a box of MRE's, and another case of Mountain Home Freeze Dried stuff. 

I am more than a little worried about their current condition.  My wife isn't too worried about the freeze dried stuff, but we both think it might be a good idea to sacrifice one of the MRE's in the name science...find out it's status NOW before we end up needing it...

So, there could be an MRE review to look forward to in the near future...