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


Flexibility pays off.

I have not always been a flexible person, when it comes to plans.  It used to be that once I had an idea, or thought about how things should go, I got down-right pouty bitchy if those plans didn't work out.  Blame it on being a stuborn Taurus, or Oldest Child syndrome if you want.  The truth is, I am someone who takes great enjoyment out of planning something...I have almost as much fun planning and researching alternatives as I do executing those plan, that when one of them falls apart, I used to take it very personal.

It's something I've been working on though, and today, I saw some payoff. 

We started our Montana road trip today, with the first planned stop being in Spokane.  I figured we would roll in early afternoon and visit Spokane's River Front Park, with the worlds Largest Radio Flyer Wagon.  We would have some fun, maybe walk around some shops, and then have dinner at one of three places I had narrowed things down to.  We would then roll up to Couer D'Alene to sleep for the night. 

Ready, set, go.

It was all going fine, until I got to Spokane, and my directions led us right into a series of streets closed for Hoopsfest, 'The World's Largest 3 on 3 Tournament', which might explain the lack of available hotels in Spokane that caused us to sleep in Couer D'Alene for the night. 

You see though...unlike other times, I had an Alternate Plan, and using my wife's cell phone, I guided us into Manito Park and a fine afternoon. 

Not that I want to have to turn in my 'Man Card'...but what a pretty, pretty place.  There are 5 seperate Gardens, with many smaller attractions mixed in.  The only thing not blooming was the lilac garden, which had already done it's job.  This kind of bummed my wife out, as she loves the smell of lilac's, and I'm sure 128 lilac trees in bloom smells wonderfull, but after 4 acres of roses, I personally was smelled out. 

My kids preferred the Japanese Garden, with it's pond of Koi and ducks.  I thought it had the potential to be very peaceful, you know, without the kids...but the green shade of the water was a little...intriquing. 

My wife's favorite was the formal Duncan Garden, and then the indoor Conservatory, with lots of neat, special plants. 

It was a great rescue of a day that I would have let fall apart with pouting once upon a time.

Good Timing

I cut that one pretty close...my updated Concealed Carry Permit showed up in the mail this afternoon, just in time for me to verify the Idaho and Montana Reciprocity Laws before hitting the road Saturday morning. 

Yes...I was a bad gun owner...my permit had expired for a while.  I rationalized it...I can't carry at work, and so that rules out 90% of the time I am out of the house.  Truthfully, most of what I have ever used my carry permit for was getting around the wait times when I wanted to buy something. 

Along with the reciprocity rules, I also wanted to check what differences there are between the states.  The main difference between Washington and Montana is the difference in wording in regards to alcohol.  In Washington, you can't bring your firearm into a bar, or that area of a restaurant where you need to be 21 to get into.  So...Appleby's is okay, but not the 'bar' in the middle of Appleby's. 

According to the Montana Department of Justice, one can't carry: any place where alcoholic beverages are sold, dispensed and consumed.

That's a little more restictive than our wording here, so I'm glad I checked that, with visits planned to several brewpubs as well as the Big Sky Brewing company. 



And just like that, I am done with work for the next 9 days.  In addition to taking next week off, I left early today so I could get a hair cut, and start packing. 

Tomorrow morning, hopefully at about 10am, we'll be hitting the road for our Montana adventure(well, trip).  Night 1 we'll stop in Coeur D'Alene, Night 2 is Missoula, Night 3 is Bozeman, the back to Deer Lodge, and then we'll spend the evening of the 4th in Couer D'Alene again before going back home.

Other than the Museum of the Rockies is Bozeman, things are kind of up in the air.  By keeping the planned driving to less then 3 hours a day, we should have plenty of time to say 'Ooo....look, a brewpub!'  'Look, a gun store!'  Or maybe even a nice park, or an antique store. 

I'm sure I'll bring the laptop along, so, for the next few days, you just might have to bear with pictures of my cute kids doing cute things, while I describe all the different beers I am trying from the road. 

It's not enough, but it's a start.

As a Law Abiding Gun Owner, one of the things that usually makes my skin crawl is the way that politicians and the media target 'Gun Violence'...the idea that someone who robs a store or injures someone with a gun deserves a harsher sentence than someone who commits that same crime with a knife, or a baseball bat, or a vehicle.

The one that really chaps my hide is how nonchallantly we handle DUI' and DUI related injuries and deaths(Hell, let's call them Murders, since that's what they are).  Seeing stories of people getting popped for their 6th, 7th or 10th DUI spins me right up...you have to look at hopping into a car drunk as the equivilant of standing in a public place, closing your eyes, and firing a gun in a random direction. 

You wouldn't get away with doing that 6 or 7 times.

Yesterday, in Kitsap County, a lady who was driving at twice the legal limit back in December, and killed 1 person and severly injure a 2nd, was sentenced to a 4 year prison term. 

It's not nearly enough...not compared to what would happen to a gun owner, or someone caught growing some marijuana in their basement. 

We can't expect to seriously effect the amount of drunk driving in this country until we make it REALLY painful.


And the shotgun wins!

A second home invasion in two weeks in Tacoma, a second would-be burglar stopped by a shotgun.

Tacoma homeowner dodges hatchet, shoots would-be burglar

Never mind the whole stupidity behind 'throwing a hatchet at a guy armed with a shotgun' thing.  Making the decision to rob a house already marks you as a little bit less than smart.  What I find interesting/concerning is that this is the 2nd time in two weeks a bad guy has been shot with the 'death ray' that is a shotgun at household distances, and both times the bad guy has lived to talk about it. 

I'd be very, very interested to see the full reports on what type of shell was actualy used here.  Is it really possible that both these guys believed the 'shotgun hype' and felt that a load of 7.5 shot aimed in the general direction of a bad guy is gonna get the job done?  I mean...in both cases it stopped the burglary, but I would prefer putting a bad guy DOWN HARD to injurying one enough he still has enough mental power left to get away. 

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/crime/2012/06/27/tacoma-homeowner-dodges-hatchet-shoots-would-be-burglar/#storylink=cpy


Power to the People

Here in Washington, we find ourselves in the heart of initiative season, when stalwart supporters of ground-roots 'power to the people' politics wait to ambush registered voters outside grocery stores. 

They finally got me today, outside Safeway.

I signed three of them: The Charter School Initiative, Initiative 1188 'The Protect the Initiative' Initiative, and Initiative 1185.

The Charter School Initiative will allow for the establishment of 40 Charter Schools in Washington, and has been previously voted down three other times by The People.  Gotta love an underdog, or anything that helps challenge the status quo. 

I-1188, the initiative to protect intiatives, clarifies some language protecting the people who are out collecting signatures on initiatives, as well as the people that have PUT their signatures on initiatives.  It also lengthens the time period from submitting an initiative to completion of collecting signatures from 10 months to 16 months, so Yay!  More time having to dodge the signature collectors that I now couldn't abuse due to the same initiative.

Initiative 1185 has been passed before under a different number, and would require either a 2/3rds majority vote of the Legislature, or simple majority vote By the People to raise any taxes.  Under this initiative, repealing a tax break would count as raising taxes.  Like I said, this was previously voted on in a positive manner By the People as I-1053, but is currently being challenged by Washington House Democrats for being an unconstitutional check on the power of the Legislature, since the Washington State Constitution mentions nothing about a 2/3rd majority.

There is not enough difference between I-1185 and I-1053 to spare the newer initiative the same fate as the old one...but, if it get's passed a 2nd time, then you have to hope that the Republicans in the Legislature can seize on this opportunity to introduce an Ammendment to the Washignton Constitution. 


Having a hard time swallowing it.

Tonight, for bedtime stories with the girls, we began tackling Greek Mythology.  We didn't even make it past the story of how Zeus overthrew the Titans before my children began questioning the potential historical accuracy of things.

'Dad, how could Cronus eat all his babies, yet they are still alive and come out whole when Zeus makes him throw up?  When I throw up, it doesn't look the same as when I swallowed it.'

It's not that the girls don't get the 'myths aren't real' thing...but as the older one put it...'Daddy, that just doesn't make sense!'.

Luckily, it's a kids book, so we shouldn't have to talk about how Zeus changes forms to sneak sex with different women. 


Fresh Bread.

The other day at the local food co-op, I picked up a great looking bunch of kale, and some nice hot Italian sausage, with the thought that I would whip up a pot of wanna-be Zuppa Tuscana.  Life happened, so instead of making it Friday, it ended up sliding until today. 

Along with the soup, I set out to find a new bread recipe to try, and settled on this Ricotta Bread recipe that sounded pretty okay. 

The end result was better than satisfactory.

The only confession I need to make is that I DID NOT make the ricotta from scratch...I had my wife pick some up at the store. 

Even so, the bread was good...very light and fluffy, with only a hint of ricotta flavor.  My only hick-up during the process was I needed a LOT of extra flour to form the balls/loafs after the first rising period...the dough was very sticky.

And I'm still alive to talk about it...

One of the things about being a prepper, especially one that's not as well organized as, say, Commander Zero, is that I sometimes find food items that are past there use by date. 

Now...I know that the date printed on can of food is usually a 'best by' date...no one out there seems to feel that the contents of the can are fine on April 13th, and then magically 'go bad' on April 14th.  On the other hand, there is no hard and fast way to figure out just how long something is still good, baring some kind of swelling or deterioration of the can.

This week, while reorganizing the garage, I found about a dozen cans of tuna that went out back in April.  Feeling a little reckless/curious, I popped a can open to make a tuna melt for lunch today.  It smelled like a can of tuna, and looked like a can of tuna(which is not as nice as the pouches of tuna look).  Even with those positive indicators, I'm a loving dad...I used myself as the test subject(mostly because the girls don't like tuna).

No bad effects so far...although I wouldn't have minded a little bit of hallucination.  


To think when I was growing up, if you really wanted to get back at someone, you ordered a dozen pizzas to be delivered to their house.  Now, I guess the cool thing to do is have a SWAT team delivered to their house:

Fake shooting 911 call leads to scary situation for Kingston family
Wow...imagine that...someone decides they are bored/spurned online, and 15 minutes later, there is instant entertainment as the SWAT team is knocking down your door and holding you at gun point.

The worst part is, there is NO WAY the police can ignore a call like that...not in this day and age. 

I was gonna say that his is just one more negative of being a gun owner....but this could happen to anyone. 

The article says that if you are caught making a false report, you could be sentenced to a year in jail.  To me, it seems more the type of thing we should bring back stocks for...put the chucklehead out on display in the middle of town for a week or so and let his peer group see how cool he is...


Couldn't wait any longer...

I've been watching my rapidly developing garden with great interest, as several tomatoes and few peppers are hanging on the plants, while flowers are blooming all over the zucchini. 

Today, the first of my baby squash hit the 6-inch mark, and with 3 or 4 or more only a few days behind, and a total of 7 plants, I decided to harvest my first product today. 

Could it have gone longer?  Sure...it would still be good eating size for another week, probably.  The trick is going to be timing the harvest once they start coming hot and fast.  With another few developing, I decided to pull this one on the early side, and check for bugs or other problems, and let the others go. This lonely sole got diced up and added to some pasta salad for dinner tonight.

Well, that's....different.

Got a wild hair this morning...and one should always be careful of those wild hairs.

I really didn't want a cup of tea, and I really didn't feel like making a full pot of coffee.  Instead, a vision of the jar of Foldgers Instant Coffee Crystals popped into my mind.

We have more than a few jars of instant coffee around the house, of many different brands.  Their shelf stable nature makes them seem like an ideal thing to stock up on. I'm not a person that NEEDS coffee, but sometimes the price is too good to ignore, even if it's just to put them on the shelf, or add them to my hopefully never needed 'barter box.'

Man, I'm a freak.

So, back to the point of this...I've got an open jar of crystals because occasionally, I'll need some coffee flavor for cooking, and a scoop of crystals is easier to add to things than brewing some coffee or espresso for my BBQ Glaze or Tiramisu.  

Not to have the late, great Douglas Adams estate sue me, but to butcher a line, the result was' almost, but not quite, entirely unlike' coffee.

I kind of proved my point...once I added some splenda and french vanilla creamer, it was drinkable.  I suppose in the situations I had envisioned actually drinking 'instant coffee', such as the baggie of it our BOB's or trading a jar for a dozen eggs, I will be glad I've for it.

I just don't see a circumstance in which I make another cup to 'get me going' in the morning around the house. 


Can't beat the price...

I can't always hide behind my job, and today was one of those days.  Instead, I had to go with my wife to one of her friends houses to help pick cherries.  Bing's this time instead of Benton's, which are smaller, and a little tarter. 

Prior to today, I really had no idea how many cherries could really grow on one tree.  We took about 17 pounds of cherries off this tree today, and you could barely tell we had been there.  Which is good...but it also means we have been invited back to help remove more cherries...which means more picking, cleaning, and pitting. 

It also means more jars of Sweet Cherry Jam and Cherry Pie filling.  And, all for just a little bit of time, a few hours, most of an afternoon and all of an evening.  My wife's friend doesn't can, and her family can only eat and freeze a few pounds of cherries.  The rest that we don't pick will just end up on the ground. 

Things don't get much better than free...if only I didn't need to get my hands sticky with cherry juice, things would be perfect.

That's about 1/3rd of the current batch.

The good parts of being ignored

All during the Republican Primary, Ron Paul supports, including yours truly, loved to rant and rage about how little media coverage Ron Paul was getting, despite is nice string of 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the primaries.  Heck, even Jon Stewart got in on the act, which made it Officially Cool. 

Earlier this week though, Dr. Paul kind of flew on the under the radar on an admission that WOULD have gotten more play if it was something Obama or Romney had said when he admitted that he was collecting Social Security

I'm not gonna lie...hearing that brings me down a bit.  Now...as most of the articles about this story/non-story have pointed out, Dr. Paul has never wanted to flat eliminate social security all at once...he wants to give younger folks the option to opt out of the system and let it fade away, which is kind of what my opinion is.  You can't tell folks in their 60's/50's/late-40's, who have been counting on SS as part of their retirement, that poof...it's gone.  You can tell folks like me though.  As a 37-year old, when I look into the future, I have zero faith that I am going to be able to count on have $1200+ a month of social security coming in to help me out...just not gonna happen. 

To me, this is maybe less about Dr. Ron Paul, Government Spending Pundit collecting social security checks, than it is Ron Paul, 12-term Congressman collecting Social Security. 

The question really is, should it bother me at all?  I don't have the tax returns in front of me, but I'm willing to guess that Dr. Paul, just based off his Congressional Income, should be living in the 'Very Comfortable-Well Off' range.  By no means do I think he is in the Romney, or even Obama net-worth range, but between his FERS Pension, and TSP if he payed into it...he should be doing okay.  Add into that the fact that I'm sure, no matter how things play out at the Republican Convention, that he will surely continue to earn some consulting/appearance fees going forward.  Heck...I'm willing to be his income increases now that he is done with Congress...

What it all adds up to is that question is much more of a 'should you be doing this' than 'can you be doing this'.  It's clear that Ron Paul, 12-term Congressman can do this, but should have Dr. Ron Paul, Government Spending Pundit have done this.  Obviously, I don't think he should have.  I think maybe he should be setting that example.  It could be that I'm wrong about his financial situation.  Maybe he has the tax paperwork to show that he is donating 110% of his social security income to charity...

Or, maybe I added a little bit too much Commie Bastard Creamer to my coffee this morning, and have this crazy idea that we should add some kind of 'maximum income/worth' cap to social security.  I have a hard time believing that even that socialist Great Politician LBJ expected 12-term Congressmen to be collecting social security in his Great Society...so maybe the jokes on him in the end. 

Or of course, you could just abolish the whole system, before it collapses on it's own, taking the whole Federal Government with it. 


Not quite a dead goblin...

But one that will probably need some major reconstructive surgery:

Tacoma homeowner shoots would-be burglar in the face

There wasn't a lot of detail in the initial story, although they had a follow-up story today that added a little more information,  including this great quote from the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office:

'“Generally speaking,” he said, “we are not going to charge a home­owner for defending himself or herself against a burglar. “Here’s the lesson for potential burglars: When you break into someone’s house, you take the chance you’re going to get shot.”'

Doesn't sound like he's going to go out of his way to find an excuse to go after this guy. 

Then there are the caring neighbors:

'“I hope the young man is OK,” neighbor Linda Lauritzen said. “… He didn’t ask for that to happen. Even if you’re protecting yourself, you have to deal with the fact that you shot someone. That would have to have an effect, I would think.”'

That has to make you feel all warm and fuzzy...a neighbor who is more worried about her neighbors mental well-being than the face of the would-be burgler who most people have agreed deserved to get shot...

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/06/20/2188899/cops-burglars-take-the-chance.html#hyperlocal-headlines-default#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/06/20/2188899/cops-burglars-take-the-chance.html#hyperlocal-headlines-default#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/crime/2012/06/19/man-shot-in-face-in-tacoma/#storylink=cpy

No, I won't stop bragging!

After my wife spent the afternoon in the kitchen, slaving a way to can more tasty goods, the least I could do was read the kids their good-night story.  Ah, who am I kidding...it was my night anyway.

When I emerged from the bedroom, I found that my wife had already stolen the remote control, because she said her favorite movie was coming on AMC.  I panicked for a minute, until I saw the first black screen with yellow writing:

-Soviet Union suffers worst wheat harvest in 55 years.

Yes, my wife's favorite movie is Red Dawn.

I feel bad for the guys whose wives would rather watch Breaking Dawn than Red Dawn...which is kind of neat, because in November, the Red Dawn remake is finally scheduled to come out a week after Breaking Dawn, Part 2. 

It's nice to know which one I will be at.  Even if neither my wife nor I have high hopes for the Red Dawn remake(I mean, it would have came out when it was filmed if it good, instead of waiting for Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson to become increasingly big names) we'll still be willing to give it a shot. 


The smell of win!

As hoped, I came home today to find the house filled with the smell of cherries and almonds.  When I pointed out how good the house smelled to my frazzled, cherry juice covered wife, she admitted that she was glad to hear that, because her scent of smell had stopped working a few hours before.

The results have been well worth the effort though:

6 Pints of Dutch Cherry Sauce(Cherry and almond to use as a topping/pie filling) and 5 pints plus a few 1/2 pints of Sweet Cherry Jam.  She had one thing of the Sweet Cherry Jam that didn't quite fill enough to can, so we already sacrificed that half jar on some bread, and it is AMAZING. 

Guess I can't complain too much about having to help clean the dishes afterwards...


It's that time of year!

My wife and kids headed out today to take advantage of one of the huge pluses of living in an agricultural area...the local U-Pick, Ray French Orchard.  The first crop of the year is ready to start harvesting(well, fruit crop...asparagus was ready a few months ago), so my wife came home with 15 pounds of Benton Cherries today.  She also has a friend with a Bing Cherry tree in her front yard, who is letting my wife have dibs on the whole tree in exchange for a few jars of whatever she makes.

By the time I made it home, she already had everything washed and de-stemmed. 

After dinner, she started on pitting the cherries, using her new 'four at a time' pitter that she bought yesterday.  She liked it, finding it much better than the single punch style, although she did say that she would have a bought a 12-at-a-time pitter if they had one...

I look forward to coming home tomorrow to the smell of canning cherries...


Pop Up, Damn you!

Let there be no doubt...after three months, being out of an apartment and back into a house, even if it's a rental, if a huge improvement. 

The only real negative I keep coming back to is being responsible for outside landscape type maintenance again.  I did not miss having to mow the lawn One Little Bit the 18-months we rented an apartment, but I guess that's the price you have to pay to have a garden(which officially has two peppers and a zucchini growing in it now in addition to several tomatoes). 

Mowing and weed-wacking are easy...I mean, you make grass go away...even I can figure that out. 

What I have a harder time figuring out is the sprinkler system.  Per my rental agreement, the home owner is responsible for the underground part of the sprinklers, and the renter is responsible for the sprinkler heads.  This has resulted in a rather mismatched set of sprinkler heads as each tenant fixes what has broken and no more. 

Now it's my turn.  When the irrigation first got turned on earlier in the spring, I had one sprinkler head shoot up into the air, which is an easy problem to identify, and almost as easy to fix.  Two months later, a few growing brown spots let me know that there might be a few other sprinklers having issues, and after a few wet adventures, I am forced to admit that at least two, and possibly three of the heads will require replacing. 

I just worry it's one of those things that once I start fixing and repairing, I'm just going have to replace all of them, and in the end decide I should have just hired a land scape company to take care of everything right the first time.

That's a good gift.

Fathers Day started just like each of the last 5 days...alone.  My wife hadn't planned on coming back from the Seattle Burb's until Sunday, so there was no breakfast in bed for me today. 

Who am I kidding though...I don't think there has been a day in the last 10 years that I haven't been the first one out of bed...although a good morning hug would have been nice.

Instead, I spent the morning tidying up the garage and cleaning the kitchen, and watching the clock, waiting for everyone to come home.

It being Fathers Day, I got to pick what was going to be for dinner...and since I can eat breakfast 3 meals a day, yesterday I had picked up some nice sweet raisin bread(kind of like a challah bread with raisins in it) to make french toast.  That would also allow me to spend the afternoon just chilling with my family instead of slaving in the kitchen once they finally got home. 

Get home they did...and boy was I glad to see them.  5 days is a long time with no family. 

A pretty huge part of being a father is supporting my family. Often times that means having to do things I don't want to do, like spend 7 months in New York working for the Shipyard.  Never having to do something like that again is one of the reasons I work where I do now...even thought it is far from perfect. 

I guess what I'm trying to get across is that I need them to support me just as much as I support them.  If I was alone, there is no way I would keep working at this job.  My 'battery' needs a constant recharging of hugs, kisses and love...the assurance that what I am doing is for a reason. 

Last night, the smiles at dinner were that reason...and today, when I get home from work, there will be hugs and kisses waiting for me.


Sometimes, it's not so clear cut...

Over on her site, Tam has a post about how there are sometimes when the justification for violence is clearly justifiable.  Her example is the recent case in Texas where a father, responding his sons claim that someone had taken his daughter then found a man in the act of molesting his 4-year old girl.  In his efforts to try and protect his daughter he beat the man to death.

Tam's excellent point is that there are sometimes you find someone doing something indefensible.  I don't need to know the graphic details, but catching someone in the act of causing irreparable harm to you daughter is about as clear cut as a case gets.  The only negative with this story(well, other than it having to happen in the first place) is that you can only kill the bastard once.

On the other side of the 'should I get involved, and how' fence is something that happened earlier this week in Yakima

Guy 1 and Guy 2 are arguing about a cell phone.  Guy 2 pulls out his gun and puts two rounds into Guy 1.  Guy 3, who happens to be at Safeway, hears the shots, and pulls his own legally concealed pistol to intervene.  Guy 2 then departs before the police get there.

The version of the article I linked too has more details than the original version that I read yesterday, and, the slant on the article does its best to put a heroic slant on the actions of Guy 3, Andrew Schilperoort.  Rather than just pulling into the parking lot and hearing shots, this version says that Andrew saw Guy 2 getting ready to finish his Mozambique drill before he decided to intervene. 

I just don't know.  Obviously, in this case, Guy 1 laying on the ground thinks Andrew is a Hero.  18 year old Giselle, interviewed for the story, thinks Andrew is Hero.  I think Andrew was a very brave guy...I'm just not 100% sure I would do the same thing.

Things worked out as good as they could have. There were some many other ways this could have gone, approaching a charged situation where there have already been shots fired with your gun out isn't always going to have a calming influence.  In this case, Andrew saved a guys life.  He could have been stopping someone who was about to go on 'shooting spree'.  He also could have been stepping into a situation where Guy 1 had a knife/gun of his own that he couldn't see.  He could have ended up dead.

Because he engaged with words, and not bullets of his own, I don't think Andrew will have to face charges.  Like I said, the article puts a very positive slant on things, and this is Eastern Washington and not Massachusetts. 

I also know that if Andrew had chose to draw his pistol, and observe the situation from behind some cover, rather than step right into the middle of it...I wouldn't have faulted him for that either. 

Leviathan Wakes

A few weeks ago, Kit described a book she was reading thusly:

 'which is so good I can hardly put it down to go to bed on time. Seriously, this is The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress meets the modern Battlestar Galactica meets Firefly with a detective story thrown in for good measure.'

That's a pretty bold statement.  The type of statement that a Robert Heinlein/Joss Whedon has to take personally(haven't seen the new Battlestar, but didn't hear much bad about it). 

I ran right out to buy it, and finished it yesterday.

Her description was a very accurate way of describing the feel of the book and the setting of the book...I'm just not quite ready to put it next the The Moon is a Harsh Mistress yet...although, in Kit's defence, you can tell from Kit's post that she hadn't finished the book yet, and that it could go down hill at some point.

It's not so much that 'it went downhill'...it just started strong and wasn't quite able to maintain that strength all the way through. 

So.  In this book an interplanetary drive has been developed which gives the human race easy access through the solar system, but is not quite enough to get us out of the solar system.  The book gets it's Firefly feel from the way that the Outerplanet Moons and the Asteroid Belts, settled by prospectors and roughnecks, don't really get along with the Mars and Earth who kind of co-rule in a very uneasy alliance. 

When the book begins, a good job is done of getting this fragile situation across.  You get a real feeling that everything is a powder keg just waiting for a match.  A match that is provided by a missing starship, and then a salvage operation that goes bad. 

You get The Moon is a Harsh Mistress feel from the way life is described in the corridors and domes in The Belt, as well as the way they talk about tossing rocks down the Gravity Well. 

It's not a bad book...far from it, and I really enjoyed the first 90-95% of it.  I just wasn't 100% pleased with the ending.  It was a pretty major zig, and I'm not sure it matches the rest of the book. 

Worth reading?  Yeah...it's a good distraction, and a really good job of painting what I think would a be realistic look at the settling/mining of The Belt and the Outer Moons. 


My Green Thumb

It's been a little over a month and a half since I updated how things are going out in my garden.  The good news is, Stuff is Growing.  The Bad News is, it's not all Stuff that I wanted to grow. 

Wow...that is a lot of grass growing in that garden...which, is lesson number to take away right now...don't skip/half-ass steps.

I was under the gun this spring, trying to get the garden in from scratch.  I did the tilling, I broke the grass up and turned it over, I added some good soil and compost...and then, I kind of half-assed it.  I know that when you are starting from grass, or even dirt, one of the steps to minimize the weeds in your garden is to cover your plot with a tarp/cardboard boxes for A WHILE when you are at the bare earth stage.  This will help to bake some of the weed/grass seed(or in my case, grass roots) that are still there after you till and turn over. 

My neighbor just goes ahead and does this for a few months...when he's done harvesting, he tills under, then puts a nice black tarp down.  A few months later, he peels the tarp back to work in some compost/manure, then puts the tarp back down.  When he's ready to plant, he pulls the tarp off, breaks up the soil, and goes to town.

Hopefully, I can try that this fall/winter.

Lesson # 2 for right now is: treat row and plant spacing instructions on the plants as a REQUIREMENT, and not a SUGGESTION.  My tomatoes are growing on top of, and into each other right now(which is nice, because they are shading out the grass between them. 

So, other than the grass, stuff is growing.  From left to right, my zucchini have started popping out flowers, so I might have my first zucchini in about two weeks.  My peppers are struggling...a few are starting to pop flowers, but they aren't as tall as I thought they would be.  Maybe sweet/hot peppers stay smaller than bell peppers.  My tomatoes, other than starting to feel crowded, are doing good.  I already have about 10-12 little cheery tomatoes growing out there.  On the right end, my Hubbard squash seems to be doing good...it's starting to send out creepers, which will make mowing the lawn over there much more interesting. 

The cabbage planted in the front looks like it is doing good...finally some balls forming in the middle of them.  I'm not sure I will go out of my way to plant them again.  We didn't want cabbage in the first place...we wanted lettuce, and asked a friend of ours to pick up some lettuce from a plant sale her daughters school was doing.  The lettuce sold out, so she got us the cabbage instead...and it just seems like the cabbage takes up a lot of space, for not a lot of reward. 

Today, before things get too warm(supposed to get to upper 80's) I will spend some time out there on my hands knees, attacking the grass under the plants with my hands, and some scissors to at least keep it off the plants.  I bought some Garden Weed and Feed, but that stuff should be used to before the season, to keep grass away...it doesn't seem like it's doing anything to get rid of the grass that is already there...


The party was better...

Last Friday, as previously noted, we had my daughters 10th Birthday Party.  Today was her actual birthday, and it was much less fun...for me at least.

I think my daughter had a good time...she is over in Seattle with her mom and other sister on a Girl Scout Field trip to see the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.  She is going to be spoiled this evening by The World's Greatest Nana. 

Me?  I'm all alone.  Night # 4 of being all alone.  Which really means night #4 of having to clean the litter box myself. 

She is a great kid...I'm not sure what I expected her to be like at 10, but I have no complaints.  She is easily as smart as my wife and I...and I don't think either of us are dumb people.  One of the things I think that my wife and I have done 'right' is indulge whatever interest she has.  For a long time it was(and still is to some extant) dinosaurs.  Once you dig deep enough into a subject, you start finding ways that other subjects connect...like geology and general biology.  Now it's not just dinosaurs...it's plate tectonics and birds and snakes, and how they are like dinosaurs. 

That's just the mental side though...I at least am still trying to figure out what kind of person she will be.  I still worry that there are times she is too shy and submissive.  She tends to let her younger sister bully her, and direct traffic.  Just like her smarts, I recognize this behavior from her parents also...mostly me.  I am definitely a 'go-along to get-along' kind of guy.  My wife...not quite as much, so there is still promise that at some point we will see some of her mom's New England Bitch Backbone show up.

My wife insists she is beautiful...but for me it's tough to see, because she looks more like me than my wife.  My younger daughter tends to resemble my wife more, so it's easier for me to see the bone structure that I find pretty in my wife look pretty in my daughter.  Bella...she looks like me, and I just have a hard time seeing how that reflects to pretty.  Gosh...I'm not saying she not pretty...I'm just saying it is too much like looking in a mirror for me to form an un-biased opinion. 

Does it matter?  No and Yes.  Not too me...she is amazing, and will always be that way.  The only reason I bring it up at all, is the cynical opinion, formed over 37 years now, that IF you have to choose between being aesthetically appealing or NOT being aesthetically appealing....well, being pretty very rarely hurts.  If someone underestimates her because she can bat her blue eyes...well, God Help Them.

I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world, but I'm running out of time to hold on to her. 


Here, Kitty, Kitty...

In effort to clean out his freezer at home, one of the guys I worked with today brought in a roast from a cougar that he harvested last year.  The roast was properly seasoned, covered in bacon, and placed on the Traeger for 4 hours, before being declared 'ready for lunch'. 

It wasn't half bad...I mean...you could wrap a shoe from my closet in bacon, then smoke it for 4 hours, and I'm sure it wouldn't be half bad.   I had previously had some of this same cougar in a chili a few months ago...but, once something has slow cooked in chili for a few hours, you can't really get a taste of the meat.

More important...it didn't taste like whatever I had thought cougar would taste like. While the pre-cooked roast looked red like beef, the finished flavor was more like pork...and not just do to the bacon wrapped around it.  I'm 100% certain I could give it to my wife, and 'cougar' would be about the 18th thing she guessed for a source for the meat. 

So...that's good to know, you know...if I ever actually SEE a cougar in the wild.  Every year, I buy a cougar tag.  It's kind of a scam here in Washington, because a cougar tag is only like three dollars if you are already buying a deer/elk tag...so, I'm willing to be one of the 90% of the hunters in Washington get a tag 'just in case'.(60,000+ tags, around 120 harvested animals).  I know that's how this guy shot his...target of opportunity...it was nothing he went out looking for. 

It's just nice to know that if I do happen to run into one, the meat isn't something that would be wasted. 


My wife and kids are out of town for a few days, leaving me a honey-do list of stuff to try and crank through. 

Plus those bastards at netflix added some new shows to distract me, including this one:


And that's how you do it.

I missed this story originally, because it happened right before we headed up to Curlew Lake for our long weekend in the middle of May.

So...to summarize.  Chucklehead shows up at the house were his ex-girlfriend is now living with a shotgun, pistol and a bandoleer of shells.  He enters the house and does some redecorating with the shotgun, putting two rounds into the drywall to get everyone's attention, before threatening to kill everyone in the house. 

The homeowner tells him to get out, and gives him a chance to leave.  Chucklehead doesn't want to leave, and starts up the stairs to give his ex and the new guy their compupance.  When he gets to the top of the stairs, the homeowner/new boyfriend ventilates him.

That sounds like a pretty clean shoot by itself, but it's made even cleaner by the fact that the homeowner called 911 early on in the confrontation, and the whole thing took place on tape for the 911 call center.

 Today, he got the official call that he was cleared of all wrong doing in this confrontation, and was actually told he could come pick up his gun, which was being held as evidence during the investigation. 

Mr. Snarski summed it up pretty good, saying he wasn't surprised, but was relieved to get the official word today.  No matter how good/clean/justified you feel a shoot might have been, all it takes is one DA with an attitude to decide he wants to put you through the ringer to ruin your life.


Now to start the serious planning.

The wait is over...results from special hunt applications posted online today.  I was selected for 2 special tags...a 2nd antler-less deer tag, and an antler-less elk tag, both of them using a muzzle loader. 

I need to take it seriously this year.  The 2nd deer tag allows me to take a doe from the hunting unit north of Pomeroy in addition to whatever else I might take during the general season.  Heck...if I play my cards right, I can use the 2nd tag first, and then go looking for another doe during the late muzzle loader season in November.  Trophy's aren't very important to me...I'd much rather put two does in the freezer than get my name in the record books for nailing a top 10 rack...those antlers need to cook a long time to get tender.

I've never hunted in the area where my 2nd tag is good for, so sometime in the next few weeks, I need to go do some scouting, and some meeting and greeting.  That's serious farm country there, and I think if I start knocking on a few doors in a polite manner, I might be able to find a few folks who will let me work on their doe problem.  I might even bring my older daughter with me...she's not hunting, but she's still great advertising. 

The cow tag is the big one.  Each year you apply and don't get selected, you earn points...it took me 7 points to get selected for this cow tag, so, that's a pretty major time investment.  Luckily, the area I was selected for is where I've been hunting elk for the last 5 years.  The only question is, will the elk be there.  Modern season takes place at the beginning og November...this cow tag takes place a full month earlier. 

I've got no real excuse not to get one.  Each year I've been up there elk hunting, I've seen cows at what would be muzzle loader distances.  I fully intend to do some scouting.  It's barely over an hour and a half from my front door to the bottom of Bethel Ridge, so, I have no reason not to get in the woods a few time in August and September. 


Savouring it.

For the better part of the past two weeks, those of us here in the Pacific Northwest have been in a damp and cool weather pattern.  Temperature has been about 15 degrees below average, and in the first 10 days of June we have received 4 times the average rainfall(1.11 inches) we would usually get for the whole month of June(0.27 inches). 

I'm not complaining...far from it...I'm attempting to savour it.  Lows in the morning have been hovering right around 40 degrees.  That's light jacket or sweat shirt temperatures for most folks, but I've refused to give in an wear anything more than my shirt.  I fully realize that in 2 or 3 weeks, we could be dealing with temperatures in the 95-100 range. 

Today was a nice day...temperature in the upper 70's, and tomorrow it's supposed to be in the low 80's.  There is every possibility that we might not see a daily high in the 70's again until September, and the 60's, like Friday was, until October. 

So, yeah...that's worth risking a little sniffle now for the chance to shiver in the rain earlier this week...

Roll it Up.

While swinging through Win-Co the other day for party supplies, on a whim I bought a package of flank steak because they had it for a good price.

Flank Steak is on of those things that have really caught on in popularity...as a kid, I remember flank steak being one of the cheaper cuts of meat, in the same price range as chuck, and round.  Now, at my local Safeway, it's usually in the $6.50-$7 a pound range...putting it in the same price range as ribeye's.  It could also be the difference between the East Coast and West Coast...out here, some of the more dominant cultures have recipes that call for this cut of meat, so by shear demand, it's price has gone up.

Anyway...got some flank steak, and decided I wanted to do something semi-fancy, and make a roulade out of it.  I think I had been flipping through the food network a few days ago, and this is what put this particular bug in my ear. 

Some recipes for flank steak roll ups have you just pound the steak flat, some of you butterfly it...I went the butterfly method, and it was really the toughest part of the process.  Flank steak is thick, but not thick, and with the grain, it was just tough to keep my cut even.  In the end, I ended up slightly lopsided, and in some places, I ended up cutting holes in the meat instead of neatly butterflied.

Meat cut, I then gently(so it didn't tear) placed it in a bag, and marinated it a few hours in a marinade made of olive oil, some Lee & Perrins, some BBQ sauce, and a dash of Liquid Smoke. 

After pulling it out of the fridge, I opened it all up again, and made my filling, using some stuff we had on hand: about half a cup of crumbled Garlic and Herb Feta Cheese, half a pound(pre cooked weight) of crumbled bacon, and about 3/4's of a cup of frozen shredded spinach.  Spread that out on the meat, and then begin rolling.  To get the grain going the right direction for you, when you butterfly, cut on the long dimension, then when you roll it, roll it on the short dimension.  Then use some butchers twine to keep the whole thing together.

You can see how badly I gaffed mine butterflying...you shouldn't be able to see the stuffing.
A final rub of oil and some garlic salt/steak seasoning, and it's ready to go in a 400 degree oven.  My flank steak was just over two pounds, and took about 45-50 minutes to reach 140 inside...which was probably about 4 degrees too much, but in this house, I'm the only one who really likes RARE.

My wife really liked it...probably could have used a bit more spinach in my filling, but, the results were worth the effort, which..like I said, other than the mess I made trying to butterfly the steak, were fairly minimal. 


10 years

I'm not all full of melancholy yet, because her birthday isn't until next Friday, but yesterday, we had my older daughters 10th Birthday Party.  We had to do the party a week early because next week, my wife and daughters are going on a field trip to the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. 

The theme for the party, as per my daughters request, was Phineas and Ferb, and while I am not a 10-year old girl, it appeared that a good time was had by all.  Luckily, the weather, which had been pretty nasty all week, cooperated, and my wife was able to supervise a few outdoor activities like spray tie-dieing some shirts, and playing a pass the hula-hoop game.

No jokes about how she's not much taller than some of those 9-10 year olds.

Due to all of the participants being Home Schoolers, the gift-giving was some of the best/most useful I have ever seen at a kids birthday party.  Several books(Judy Bloom!), a few arts and crafts type things, origami paper, colored duct tape(she wanted to make a wallet and a rose) and the big gift from mom and dad was a kit to build some wind powered battery chargers. 

And she loved it ALL.  She's not a perfect kid, but I'm not sure I could handle her being much closer to perfection.

It wouldn't be a birthday party without cake, or in this case, cup cakes.  Bella had voted for chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, which I was happy to comply with.  To kick things up a notch, I took a page out of my mom's playbook and baked the cupcakes in ice cream cones.  None of the girls OR mom's that attended had ever had their cupcakes this way, so I was a Hero.

Turn in next Friday for the tears and 'where does the time go' lament that one would expect when their oldest child turns 10.  

Ooo...a Fair!

My wife continues to amaze.  Instead of just using facebook to play free games and see which pretty girls from high school have gotten fat(not many, despite what Hollywood wants us to believe), she has actually used it for Social Networking purposes.  She's become quite adept at using the Group feature to find local groups and individuals with whom she shares interests, and actually interacts with in the Analog World, and not just the Digital World. 

One such group is the Tri-City Agrarians, which isn't so much a group, as a bulletin board where folks with Agrarian interests can post and share:  I've got chickens/eggs for sale, I've got too much rosemary/oregeno and would like to trade for asparagus.  My wife actually used to facebook to hookup with a local lady she knows in both her Homeschooling group AND the Agrarian group that has two peach trees in her yard, and is allergic to peaches, so now my wife has secured first dibs to harvest theses two peach trees when they are ready, which is pretty extremely kick ass, because my wife makes great peach butter and canned peaches. 

Yesterday evening, we attended a Preparedness Fair, which was hosted by the local Ward at the LDS Church right down the road. 

Not being a very religous person, I don't have much negative to say about the Mormon's, and quite a bit of positive.  Living in the North-West, you do have to deal with occasional young man doing their Missionary Work knocking on your door.  They are unfailingly polite, and respond well when you are polite too them.   If anything, their dedication to walk house to house and deal with some of the verbal abuse I'm sure they doo take is impressive.  As is their church-wide systematic approach to prepping. 

The 'Preparedness Fair' consisted of about 12 booths located in their gym/cafeteria room.  It was a very neat look 'inside the walls', and there was a fair amount of information to be gathered up.   One booth talked about 72-hour kits, another was for first aid kits, with both of them stressing how you could use stuff you already had the house for building those kits, like using an old gallon milk jug to hold 72-hours worth of food.   We already have nice back packs, but this might be a neat easy to carry supplement, if you have time to grab more than just the back pack.

Let's see...there was a gardening booth, and there was also a table full of food samples set up, where they were showing you different recipes you could make up with Mountain Home freeze dried/canned products.  The Extension Office from Washington State University was there, testing pressure gauges and seals on pressure canners, so my wife brought her gauge from the canner I bought her for Christmas to verify it was working good.  They also had one of the canning machines set up, demonstrating how easy it is to transfer your bags of beans and rice into nicely sealed #10 cans for LONG term storage.

Yes, there was a booth set up for 'Spiritual' Preparedness, and Yes, Rawles often talks in a similar vein on his site, so, you smile, you say thank you, and then you move on to the booth demonstrating different cook stoves/solar ovens you can make at home.  After the canning demonstration, I think this was the booth my wife and kids found the neatest.  Given all the sun we get here most years, solar ovens are very viable option.  I see us building and playing with one at some point this summer as form of Home Schooling Science Project. 

Best of all, I think my wife got a few names/numbers, which might lead to us getting access to the inner sanctum...the local cannery itself...need to keep our fingers crossed on that one.


Yay! New Laws!

I was reading an article this morning in the Tacoma Tribune about some new laws that went into effect this week...220 of them in fact...which sounds like a lot, until you realize that the article was only talking about Washington State, in which case 220 new laws is a Metric BUTT TON of new laws.

Is that a normal number? 

So...what did we get with our 220 new laws here in Washington? 

Well, the Legislature is happiest about beefing up the anti-human trafficking laws, which I thought would already be covered under 'kidnapping', but, hey...more laws will keep us safer, right?  Most of these new laws relate specifically to the 'sexual' side of human trafficking, and let them treat those folks the way they have treated gun owners for decades, confiscating property used in the course of human trafficking.

I'm for that, I guess.  I mean...I'm a deviant normal male libertarian.  I'm okay with legalizing prostitution for non-minors.  I'm not okay with kidnapping 14-17 year old foreign girls, and sneaking them into the United States, and forcing them into prostitution by threats of/actual physical violence, or keeping them drugged up.  You would think that would already be covered by kidnapping laws though...and ruining someones life like that calls for something much harsher than a $10,000 fine(go get 'em Washington State)...you know, like a hole in the ground.

Part of this law(making it illegal to advertise for underage sex) are being held up by a Judge, because of a lawsuit by a company that serves as an online 'clearing house' for escorts.  Ummm...once again...I'm a libertarian...but, if sex with minors is illegal, then why wouldn't advertising for sex with minors be illegal?  Murder is illegal, and I can go to jail for offering to murder someone...whyh not offering to have sex with a 15-year old?

We are so broken.

Let's see...the State of Washington used to have inmates make uniforms for the corrections officers, but since some of those uniforms are too tight, or have buttons to far apart, we are now going to contract that out, costing more money.  You know...as opposed to having them make the uniforms bigger...

In 'we are better than you' news, a law was passed that allows 'firefighters, police and military personnel carry or transport the knives that are illegal for the general public to have. The bill also allows the manufacture and transport of knives and was touted as a way to let knife-makers operate in Washington while selling the products in states where the knives are legal.'

I respect police...I respect firefighters, and I used to be a military personnel.  I still get offended by laws that let them do things us peons can't do.  How long until one of them stabs themselves with one of these fancy knives?  As far as 'trying to lure knife-makers'...firearms companies are finally starting to move away from state with unfriendly gun laws...do we honestly think knife makers are any dumber than that?

Finally, in the interest of 'our safety', a law was passed which allows the State Department of Licensing to begin issuing ID's with Biometric Data(facial recognition matching).  Yay.

So...if the article feels that only 7 or 8 of the laws were important enough to talk about, why did we pass the other 210 of them? 

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/06/07/2173067/human-trafficking-law-takes-effect.html#storylink=cpy


A moment(or two) of Zen

I like to take long showers in the morning, he said, apropos of nothing. 

As near as I can tell, it has something to do with the fact that I don't like my job, and I know that when I get out of the shower, I have passed the point of no return as far as getting ready to head out the door in the morning.  There isn't a lot of slack in my morning schedule, so once I'm out of the shower, it's dry off, get dressed, and get out the door with not a lot of time to kill. 

This morning though, I ended up with a few extra moments, and when I went to plonk down on the couch, this is what greeted me:

Sigh.  Yup...they are cute, and I'm not sure they could get along too much better.  Sorry, I didn't warn you about cute kitten/cat pictures. 

Not to be outdone, my wife sent me a picture later in the day of the cats on our bed.

When she posted this picture on facebook, one of her friends asked why we were letting that cat snuggle with a Holstein Calf on our bed. 

Reuben IS a bit of a moose.  Trying to keep him out of the food we leave out for the kitten is a challenge. 


Good Bye, Ray.

Sad day today for fans of science fiction, with word that Ray Bradbury passed away last night. 

I don't mind some of the 'new' science fiction I have read, but I prefer 'classic' science fiction.  Heinlein, Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often referred to as The Big 3 of Science Fiction's Glory Days, with Bradbury being number 4 on the list...personally, I would put Bradbury ahead of Arthur Clarke, but, I'm fine with them being ranked at 3a and 3b. 

I haven't read nearly as high of a percentage of Bradbury's work as I have of Heinlein and Asimov.  Many moons ago I read Fahrenheit 451, and really, really liked it.  More recently, I found a copy of The Martian Chronicles.  It's an interesting read...kind of different, and it takes a while to kind of figure out what's going on, and you can tell it is a collection of short stories, despite of how they try to present it.  Of his books, 451 is a Must Read, The Martian Chronicles are something I can recommend. 

More so than the books, what I really remember Ray Bradbury from was his TV Show on HBO(and later USA) The Ray Bradbury Theater.  My dad was a pretty big Bradbury fan, and he made a point of watching this show, even though he occasionally would pull rank and not let me watch each episode. 

Between Fahrenheit 451, and being the excuse my dad used for us ordering HBO, that's a pretty good legacy.


If this was a Magic 8 Ball...

It would say sorry, please try again later.  My boss, and one of my fellow supervisor's are gone this week, and things were a bit hectic today.

Add to that the fact that we had some nasty, windy weather today which knocked out the cable AND the internet for a few hours, and, well...I just got nothing. 

Scott Walker fended off his recall, which I guess is supposed to mean something.  I'm not sure if it's a 'referendum' on anything to do with November, but it does hopefully mean that some folks out there recognize that sacrifices and cuts need to be made, and those cuts, while painful now, are less painful than they will be if we wait another 10-20 years to address the cuts. 


About time I saw it...

Sometimes, movies can slip through the cracks on you. You remember seeing the trailers and thinking you want to see that movie, but for whatever reason, you just don't make it to the theater.  You here good things about it, but it seems to keep slipping down your netflix queue, and then all the sudden, the movies been out 7 years before you finally get around to watching it.

For me, this movie would be 'V for Vendetta'.  I remember thinking it looked good from the trailers, and I've heard great things about it...I just never made watching it a priority, until this weekend...and boy, have I been missing out.

If somehow, you are even lamer than me, and haven't seen this movie yet, please, stop reading now, and see it.

It's a good movie...enough blood and violence to keep things interesting, and a couple of great speeches and even better ideas.  The fact that V, played by Elrond/Agent Smith Hugo Weaving, gives such great speeches and is a memorable charecter with his face covered 100% of the movie is nothing short of amazing. 

Natalie Portman is also in the movie to give it some much needed Hubba Hubba.  Okay...the movie doesn't need Hubba Hubba, but we get some anyway.  She's also a fine actress(one can't blame the Star Wars prequel's on her...acting with Hayden Christensen must be like acting with a piece of cardboard). 

Plus, as soon as you see Stephen Fry, you know the movie is going to be worth watching.

It's not perfect...my wife really liked the begining, and she liked the concept, and story...she just wished you got to learn a little more than what is hinted about 'V'. 

All in all, it feels like a very timely movie, and something much more likely to play out here in the states than over in Joly Old England.

Supporting Free Enterprise.

On Friday, The Will of the People was put into action, as the State of Washington's monopoly on liquor sales was ended.  As per I-1183, on Thursday the 31st, State Liquor Stores closed their doors, and starting Friday the 1st, normal retailers were able to begin selling liquor and spirits.  Some stores, like my local Safeway, had had the liquor on the shelves for over a week, but there was a magical white sheet hanging there preventing you from buying the hard stuff.

If the state maintains sales record stats for hard alcohol, I would love to see how much was sold this weekend.  I am guessing that the volume of sales for Friday and Saturday would have to be roughly equal to the sales for a New Years/4th of July type weekend.  People were buying stuff just for the novelty of being able to purchase liquor where they get their regular groceries.  Heck...even I bought some whisky on the way home from work Friday.  The last thing I need is another bottle of whisky...I've got two gallons of whisky in the garage from the last time I stocked up...but buying a 5th at Safeway will keep me from having to open a big bottle.

A lot of folks(me included) were hoping that by opening up who could sell liquor, we would see a price dip, but the wording of I-1183 allowed the state to establish a Liquor Sales Tax and a flat per liter fee, to off-set the loss of not operating stores anymore.  The fee was $3.75 a liter, and the sales tax is 20%.  Holy poop. 

In the state stores, the price on the shelf was what you paid.  At Safeway, you get to see a sales price on the shelf, and then be surprised at the checkout.  The sales prices are WAY cheaper than the out the door prices at the state stores, but the totals with tax and fees seem to be a little higher.  On the cheapo stuff they put on sale, like the Black Velvet I buy for mixing, you are talking like 50 cents.  On fancier stuff, it's $4-5 difference.

So...here in the Tri-Cities, we are less than an hour from the Oregon border, and 2.5 hours from Idaho.  Both of those locations are much cheaper than here in Washington.  The obvious answer is to stock up when you do things like go to Pendleton so your wife can look at wool mill ends.

I suppose you could just not drink alcohol, but that's crazy talk. 


Warning: Cute Kitten Picture

Okay...I promise that this blog won't turn into a string of pictures about how cute our new kitten is.  I'm already slacking enough on the firearm/prepper content, I don't need to bog down the internet with pictures of our kitten, which is no more or less cute than 1,276,345 other kittens in the world.

So far, we are very, very pleased with how existing cat and new kitten are getting along.  Our only previous attempt to introduce a kitten to an existing situation went poorly, when our old female cat attacked the newcomer so badly I had to separate them, although not quickly enough to keep me and the kitten from bleeding. 

I would say Reuben shows about 60% indifference, 30% tolerant interaction, and 10% annoyance.  Not anger...just...well, kind of like my kids: the kitten will bounce up, and Reuben will respond, and play a bit, but he gets bored/tired after about 30 seconds, while the kitten wants to keep playing, at which point he bats at her(or near her...she is too quick for him) half-heartedly, then lays down and ignores her.

This afternoon, he was sleeping under the chair in the living room, when Dahlia came over and started rubbing on him.  He responded by basically giving her a bath.

She accepted this for about a minute and a half, before she seemed to want to get away.  Reuben wasn't done though, and used his right leg(which weighs more than she does) to pin her down until he was done. 

I've seen mother cat's give their babies a bath like this, but didn't know this was something any adult cat would do for a youngin'.  Whether this was out of affection, a teaching moment, or to get the smell of Humane Society off her, I'm not sure. 

Of course, as I told my wife, Reuben and I are kind of the same...old, fat, fixed males...if my wife brought home a sweet young human female(not too young, you perverts) I would probably attempt to give her a bath too....

The final option, given the size difference, is that Reuben was sizing her up for dinner tonight...

Sir, it's a requirement.

Back in April, I was a little worried about our corn snake, Gloria.  She had always been a good eater, but one day, she just decided she wasn't going to eat the thawed mouse I offered her.  That's fine, some research showed that occasionally, some corn snakes would extend out past two weeks, to even 4 or 5 weeks between feedings. 

Then we started getting near that time period.  I continued to offer her a thawed mouse every three days...but she just wasn't having it.  Finally, in an act of desperation I broke down, and bought a live mouse. 


Since then, I have just kept giving her live mice.  Sooner or later, I might go back to frozen/thawed, just because it is more convenient/cheaper.  Making a run to pet-co once every 10-12 days is a bit of a pain...it's easier to pick up a 5-pack of frozen mice.

I also don't have to fill out paperwork for frozen mice. 

Each time I walk into the store and buy a live mouse, I have to fill out a sheet of paper for the 'Purchase of a Small Animal Companion'.  It's meant to be a proof of purchase for someone so they can return their small animal if they have problems...like a guinea pig, or hamster, or gerbil....but it seems a bit overkill on mice. 

Especially when the mouse's story doesn't have a happy ending.  Doubly so when the folks working at the store KNOW what you are doing with the mouse.  The first few times, I just kind of sighed and filled out the paperwork.  Yesterday, I finally kind of looked at the girl and said, 'Really?'.  She said it's a company requirement, and went to add that in the two years she had worked there, she had only ever sold one mouse that was being purchased to be a pet.  The rest were being sold for the same purpose that I was buying mine....but each one had to have the correct purchase paperwork filled out, because 'it's the rules'!

Sigh.  I filled it out.  I wasn't rude to the check-out clerk...it's not her rule, and doesn't make enough money to deal with me being pissy at her because she is just trying to do the job her management wants her to do...it's just an example of how the 'No-exceptions-do-it-because-we-told-you-to-not-because-it-adds-value' mentality isn't unique to government bureaucracy.

I wonder how much money Pet-Co wastes each year filing this paperwork(there is a white, pink, and yellow copy!) for mice that eventually end up as poop in someone reptile cage...and if anyone has ever raised the question to the upper management in that way before?


It's a trap!

Earlier today, my wife convinced me to accompany her on a Girl Scouts Field Trip.  The destination of the field trip was the Benton-Franklin Humane Society.  Go along on a field trip to the Humane Society with a bunch of young girl scouts, to be surrounded by kittens, cats, puppy's and dogs? 

Normally, not on your life.  Ever since moving out of the apartment and into the house, my wife has been itching to get a kitten to keep our adopted stray Reuben company.  Well, and because kittens are just cute and amazing.  If I stayed home I would have been willing to bet there was an 80% chance that she came home with a kitten.  It was worth taking the hit for the team(and putting up with a girl scout troop) to change those odds.

Just because you know something is a trap, doesn't always mean you can avoid that trap.

See...I changed the odds alright...straight up to 100%. 

My main concern, and the reason we went with a young female kitten, was we wanted to make sure we brought something home that Reuben would get along with.  So far, things are going good.  There has been some butt-sniffing, and a little back and forth rubbing even.  Certainly nothing like the hissing and batting that happened when we tried introducing a kitten to our old cat, Missy.  She wanted nothing to do with another cat being in HER house. 

The number 1 problem I see right now is going to be keeping 27-pound Reuben out of the kittens(we call her Dahlia) food. 

Because that's what you do when you're married.

With this being one of our few 'open' weekends for a couple of month period, I had my personal secretary(my amazing wife), line up a baby-sitter for us for the evening.  Our plans were dinner out on the the patio at Tagaris Winery, followed by listening to the live music act they had. 

I tried to ruin things early, first by being a little late getting out of work, leaving me barely enough time to jump out of the shower and get a layer of stank off before my wife left to get the sitter, and second, by complaining about how my wife was dressed.

Before I got in the shower, my wife was trying on different dress selections.  After hitting a plateau for a while, she is back to making progress on her diet, being down right around 50 pounds now.  This is only a problem because she hasn't really updated her wardrobe, and she was not pleased with the way most of her dresses were fitting...baggy is not flattering.  Still, I thought we had narrowed things down to two choices that looked good before I got in the shower.

Imagine my surprise then when I got out of the shower to find her in jeans.  I wasn't just surprised, I was pouty...pouty like a little bitch.  There followed a few minutes of heart-felt discussion, and in the end, I won, and she put a dress back on...maybe I won...we'll have to see if dinner has a strange taste tomorrow.

There was nothing strange about the taste of dinner last night.  Tagaris is my wife's favorite winery in the Tri-City area.  In no uncertain terms, after two years in the Tri-Cities, I think it's also the best restaurant for it's style and price point(that being fancy, and not cheap).  I'm not saying it's my first choice(mostly because of the price point, it's not an everyday reality), but if you find yourself in the Tri-Cities area, and want a dinner to impress, this is the place I would recommend.  This is a totally unpaid endorsement, although I am open to bribery(not that there is a much stronger positive statement I can give them). 

After lingering over a long dinner, and an hour or so of Irish music, it was still barely 8:00, and we had told our sitter we probably wouldn't be home until 9:30-10....what to do, what to do.  Well, since we have kids, we took advantage of not having kids to go do some kid free shopping!  That's right...after a romantic wine and music filled dinner, my night ended the way it began, watching my wife try on dresses, just at Target instead of at home!  Good times were had by all, although, I did get pouty again...

My wife was using one of the 'Family' changing rooms, and she wouldn't let me inside there with her, even though I am family!!!!!!!  Now, that's a good reason to pout.