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



After a couple of not totally crappy weeks at work, things are back to normal again.  This weeks biggest issue is the ongoing contract negotiations between the union and the company.  As a manager, even one light years removed from negotiations, I'm not allowed to comment on how those negotiations are going, either publically or privately.  Luckily, I don't need to comment with the Tri-City Herald around.

So, yes things were emotional this week, and it wasn't just the Union folks getting emotional.  As one of the commenters on the Herald pointed out, whatever deal the union gets is usually passed along to us exempt staff types.  By the end of the week, it was all I could do to make it through One Day More.

Hey Rube!

This week in one of her workshops, my daughter learned about Rube Goldberg machines.  She then spent the evening in her bedroom with empty toilet paper rolls, duct tape, jenga blocks, books and stuffed animals trying to build one.  At bed time she was quite depressed, because she hadn't gotten her design to work yet.

My wife had a long talk with her about perseverence, because she was willing to give up.  20 minutes after lights out, you could still here an occasional tear from her as she tried to get over it, so daddy had to fo talk to her.  I told her about how the folks on Mythbusters had designed a Rube Goldberg machine once, and even with a design department full of craftsmen, it was very much a case of trial and error.

I'm not sure she believed me, but I committed to show her the episode when I got home from work last night. 

Turns out I didn't need to worry about it.  When I made it home, my wife showed me a video she had helped my daughter make.  This was attempt #5, with the goal being to have the leggo 4 wheeler attack the ceolophysis.


We still got to watch Mythbusters, also.



A fool and his money

I will admit, I am a regular participant in the Red Neck Retirement plan.  I buy tickets for the state lotto, Mega-Millions, and Power Ball just about every week(no need to talk about scratch tickets...I've got my girls convinced that the scratch ticket machine is a deposit box for their College Savings). 

So yes, I have bought tickets for the HALF A BILLION DOLLAR Power Ball drawing...but really, no more than I buy for a normal drawing...I mean, it only takes one ticket to win.  I won't even feel bad splitting the prize with 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 other winners.  That's still something on the order of 10 million dollars. 

I've even gone as far as picking out the house I will buy this weekend after winning...I'm a modest guy.  2500 SF on 80 acres sounds about right to keep me happy. 

What's in a name?

While at the grocery store today, I was kind of drifting up and down the aisles, and when in the shampoo area., I spotted this product on the top shelf:

Ummm.  Wow.  Placenta shampoo.  I had to do a little bit of research on the computer when I got home, just in case there is some other definition of 'placenta' out there, but no...it means just what you would think it would mean. 

The only thing that makes this slightly less horrifying than it might otherwise be is that it is made with 'placenta enzymes' rather than the real thing.

Makes me feel less bad about the possible ingredients of Head and Shoulders.  


Gift List

With Black Friday(and Cyber Monday)having come and gone, my wife has been on me to provide her with my Christmas list, which I usually do on her so I can provide a link or two.  It's not the most romantic thing to do, but it ensures that when we go 'functional' with Christmas gifts, that we really get what we are intending to get.  Finally, providing each other with lists helps to minimize the chances of heart ache from 'returning' gifts. 

Starting out totally functional, I wouldn't mind a 48" Hi-Lift Extreme JackCommander Zero has sold me on the virtues of these before.  While he decided to go with the 60" because the 60" can do everything the 48" can, but the opposite is not true, I think space/weight limitations will make the 48" option much more user friendly. 

For when the zombies come(and our bug out bags) I keep drooling over the Ontario Knife Companies SPAX 16.  From all reviews and reports, it's an extremely solid piece of equipment, with a hatchet blade, and a solid spike on the back, good for puncturing steel sheeting, or aluminum, or zombie heads.  One video I saw had some guys using the spike on the back to break up cinderblocks.  In addition to that, the specially shaped holes in the blade can be used to open/close valves on fire hydrants and urban gas lines.  This COULD be handy, but it's also requires some caution, because Ontario makes the very similar SP-16, which has the hatchet and spike, but not the special valve operating openings.

The SPAX-16 is not cheap...mostly around $110 on Amazon, but I have seen it on ebay for closer to $70.  If that is out of the question, there is always a more basic tomahawk...something like the SOG Fasthawk or Tactical Tomahawk, or the United Cutlery M48 would with the bill and are widely available on amazon.  Why a tomahawk?  Well, they are useful tools...and sometimes the fact that they look cool should be enough, right? 

Another step down(or up) the reality scale would be this SOGfari set, which has a folding shovel, hand axe, machette and knife.  That's probably a more useful setup than a tomahawk...even if it's not as cool looking. 

In the kitchen, space is limited, but luckily, we don't really need anything big.  I wouldn't mind getting a meat grinder attachment for our kitchen aid mixer, and my wife would like to get the vegetable strainer/grinder, to help make jam preperation easier.  Of course, that could go on her list...

When in doubt, I have always told my wife, and will continue to do so, that any type of decent quality flashlight or knife is an appropriate gift.  This year in particular, I COULD find a use for a nice rechargable spot light.   It doesn't need to be that fancy, but a few settings would be useful. 

I can't really think of any music or entertainment stuff I need.  There are no books I'm waiting for, although this might be a good excuse to get started on the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, or something by Neil Gaiman(like Good Omens or American Gods.) 

Oh...there is also that peace on Earth, Goodwill to Man thing. 


Christmas came early!

As you may see later this week when I post my Christmas list for my wife, things are going to be fairly 'functional' for us this year.  When you are going functional, it doesn't make sense to put that functional item away and ignore it until the 25th. 

Case is point would be the new chest freezer we went and bought yesterday at Home Depot.

It's not huge...in fact, at 7 cubic feet, it was the 2nd smallest chest freezer Home Depot had.  That said it meets our current needs, being big enough that I can go get my deer meet out of my bosses freezer, and still fit a few turkeys and hams in there while they are priced 'Holiday Cheap'. 

The price was right too.  With Black Friday pricing and a Home Depot gift card that had been floating around the house for who knows how long, it was going to be available for under $150 out the door.  By far, it was the best square footage/dollar value they had in stock, and like my wife and I decided, if we wanted a new one anytime in the next 6 months(and we did!) then this was the time to get it.


You mean it might just be hype?!?!?!

Having spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend on the more technologically advanced west side of the state, we have returned to the Tri-Cities to find that we are now living inside the recently expanded Verizon 4G LTE coverage area.


I can't tell a huge difference. 

The fact is, because I am terrified of data overages, I don't do a huge amount of internet activity when I'm 'out and about'.  It's nice to have the ability, but speed is not of maximum importance to me.  In reality, about the only reason I need 'immediate' internet coverage for is proving the age of actors/actresses to my wife when we play the 'how old is that person' game. 

Winner gets a kiss, so sometimes it's important to figure out who the winner is quickly.


It's simple math.

Morena Baccarin with long hair > Morena Baccarin with short hair.

While watching some Firefly this evening, I was struck(much like I was when I originally watched the show) by just how stunning Morena Baccarin is...especially with her hair worn long.

I mean, she was attractive on V, and she's attractive from what I've seen of Homeland, but, man, that hair she had on Firefly...

Picture borrowed from this them there blog.



After gallivanting around the Everett area all night with my mom abusing their bodies in the name of commerce, my wife came home and took a nap this morning, so she wasn't in danger of falling asleep at the movie theater.

Small chance of that...there isn't much chance of ANYONE falling asleep while watching the Red Dawn remake. 

Now, the first thing you need to know, is that my wife and I consider the first Red Dawn to be a classic.  It is on that short list of movies, along with the likes of Unforgiven, The Outlaw Josie Wales, and Jaws that I can watch an unlimited amount of times.  I'm not saying it's as good of a movie as the others I listed, but if I find it in progress on TV, just write me off for the next few hours.

I'm not sure this version will have that lasting of an impact, but they didn't screw it up either.  It's a good young cast, and in fact, I think the cast is one reason it actually has seen the light of day after such a painful birth...most of these attractive young people are increasingly marketable, starting with Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. 

Negatives first.  You can tell that this movie wasn't originally filmed with the North Koreans as the bad guys.  My wife pointed out early on how NONE of the actors look like they are Korean.  Dialogue is also an issue...some of the lines were very cliche AND cheesy...good job on the actors being able to deliver them with a straight face.

On the good side, it's a very enjoyable movie.  If you believe in the threat of EMP, then you can suspend your disbelief about the North Koreans being able to mount an airborne assault of the Pacific Northwest.  The gun handling and small unit tactics appeared to be fairly realistic(well, there was one Hollywood scene with a wisp of a lad shouldering a machine gun, and then thin attractive actresses humping around RPG's), complete with a montage.  All I can say is if Jed Eckert(a Marine home on leave) must be the best DI in the Corps. 

There were more than a few nods to the original, and the best part is that none of them felt forced.  Of course, there was also some updating, and a twist or two that weren't in the original.

If you liked the first one, and want to see a bunch of gunfire and explosions, it's certainly worth seeing.



As we head into Thanksgiving, I am thankful that murder is illegal, otherwise there would be at least 25 dead people between my mom's place and Safeway.  I had to make a run late yesterday afternoon, and was once again blown away by the compounding power of human stupidity when gathered in large groups.

Not exactly a charitable thought, but I never claimed to be a charitable type of person.

I am thankful to get to spend the day with my wife, and kids, and mom, and brother.

And football.


Getting the ball rolling.

At some point today, hopefully between 11 and 11:30, we will be hitting the road to go to my moms for Thanksgiving.  This will mean tackling Snoqualmie Pass, which for now as least is below the snow level.  Luckily this string of moisture that's been coming in to the Northwest has brought mild temperatures, because 3 inches of rain is enough moisture to have dumped 2-3 feet of snow if we had already had Arctic air in place.

All my mom has asked us to bring(other than her grandkids) is my cornbread, sausage and apple stuffing. 

My mom is a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to cooking, where I buy into all that new fangled stuff like 'brining' and not 'stuffing the bird'.  For decades, she made Her Moms stuffing...shredded white bread that sits on the counter overnight, Bell Seasoning, celery, onions and broth.  I wasn't a big stuffing fan growing up.  Then when I was in the Navy, I went to a friends house for dinner, and his wife from Tennessee had made a sausage and apple cornbread stuffing, and I was transported to a better place. 

I still remember the first year I hosted Thanksgiving, and I made the recipe above.  My mom still made a pan of Her Moms stuffing...and it went virtually untouched.  This continued a few years, to the point where now we just make my stuffing.  And...yeah, while it makes me feel like I know how to cook, it also bummed me out a bit...I didn't want to take that tradition from my mom, I just wanted to make some tasty stuffing!  Reheated with gravy, my stuffing is tasty, and just about a meal unto itself.

Rather than buy cornbread croutons, I just bake a few pans of Jiffy Cornbread mix, which I did last night.  I then crumbled it, and stuck in a zip lock baggy, to save time tomorrow.  I'll also go ahead and brown the sausage(I use Jimmy Dean Sage instead of the Italian that the recipe calls for) tonight.

I'm not responsible for any desert this year...my mom is making a pumpkin, a pecan, and a lemon meringue pie.  I thought about make a faux pumpkin Hubbard Squash pie, but we don't need two pumpkin pies. 

Plus, I would feel kind of guilty when it came out better than the fresh from the can pumpkin pie my mom is making.  I


Didn't know people still did that...

Since we moved into this rental house back in March, the house across the street has been 'for sale by owner'.  Sometimes the sign would come down and go up a few days later with different info on it, and occasionally we would see the homeowners show up to get something out of the garage.  Being trapped by our own house, I had a certain amount of sympathy for the homeowners, but other than seeing them get something out of the garage every few weeks, I never got to know them.

A few weeks ago, the sign came down, and it looked like things might be happening occupant wise, but with hunting and work, I never saw anyone move in...for all I know, it could have been the family that had placed it on the market moving back in.  I had heard from one of my neighbors that they had just moved in area.  I thought maybe they are able to get out of their new place and move back into the old one.

Fast forward to last night, about 7:30.  A knock on the door, which my wife answered.  Turns out it was our new neighbors across the street bringing us a loaf of pumpkin bread to say 'hello'. 

After making small talk on the front steps for a minute, my wife came back in, and looked at me.  At that minute I think we both felt about this tall.  New folks move into the neighborhood and bring us something, instead of us giving them something to welcome them.  Heck...like I said, I wasn't even sure it WAS new neighbors. 

I'm not usually intentionally rude, and I don't think we were in this case...I've just become increasingly used to a society where you don't make eye contact or stick your nose in...even if it's just to say hi. 

Might be time to make up a pan of the wife's zucchini brownies to return the favor...


Okay, I get the picture!

Some lessons need to be painfull to be learned.  I am living through one of those lessons right now.  It's been two days since I jog/walked a 5K with my older daughter, and boy are my legs stiff and sore.  

If anything was ever going to draw the picture that I am sliding past 'heavy and out of shape' into the land of 'fat and decrepit', this is it.  

Now, if only I can learn the lesson.


Satisfactory ending, Unsatisfactory journey.

Coming from the 'Don't just point it at them file', is a strange story from the Washington coastal town of Longview.  I'm not sure he was wearing a trench coat, but a generic 'creepy guy' approached a mother and her son at a park, dropped his pants and proceeded to well...get to 'know himself' in front of her.  The mom, unamused, produced a firearm, at which point the jack-ass quickly departed the area, pausing just long enough to curse the mom, and tuck himself back into his pants. 

Now...good on the mom for having her gun on her.  Even if the guy was no more than a garden variety pervert, you never know that this might not have been the time he lost control of himself.

At the risk of seeming like I'm picking on the mom, and the person writing the story(okay, I am making fun of the person writing the story.), that's the only thing I can say 'good' on. 

I was initially going to criticize the mom for taking her kid to the park at 8pm(3 hours after dark)...but if we assume the nice benches shown in the picture are where the incident happened, it's right next to a light pole.  If the whole park is lit like that, then...it should be a safe place.  And then, in case it wasn't safe(like the whole world isn't safe), she had her gun. 

Her gun that by her OWN admission, she didn't have ready for use!

"The magazine was mostly in the gun. I just popped it in completely and locked it, cocked it, took it out of my pocket, pointed it at him and told him he had five seconds and then I was going to shoot him," she said.

Why, oh why, would you carry a gun that isn't ready for use?  Yes, it worked out fine for her in this case...but how many other scenario's that would requiring deploying your gun would have ended well without the gun being being ready to use?


Way to stay strong.

It seems there are some people not just getting their feathers ruffled, but getting full on outraged(OUTRAGED I say!) over a planned coyote derby being sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms of Los Lunas, New Mexico. 

Why, some people are SO upset over this coyote derby, they even signed a petition.  An online permission, because you can do that without leaving your house.  Which some have done from ALL OVER THE WORLD

You know the only thing that matters less than my opinion in this matter?  A Europeans opinion in this matter.  Especially when they are on the wrong side.

This last elk season I saw three coyotes running around...in the day time, which is not a normal thing.  The is 100% ZERO danger that we will ever run out of coyotes.  If me or any of about 20 people that I work with are in a rural, or even semi-rural area, coyotes are a 'shoot on sight' kind of opportunity. 

You know who haven't signed these online petitions?  Homeowners who have lost the family cat or dog to coyotes.  Ranchers loosing lambs and goat kids to coyotes.  Suburban preppers who have lost chickens to coyotes.  You know...the people that actually have to live with coyotes, as opposed to the Europeans and bleeding hearts on the East Coast who signed this online petition.

You know who cared enough to show up Saturday morning to protest?  NO ONE.  Unless you count the media, hoping to have some protest for a good story.  Agenda much?

Good for Gunhawk Firearms(can't find a website to link to) who stepped up and scheduled this coyote derby after a larger store in Albuquerque(Calibers, who has a web page but I won't link to because I don't approve of their decision to back down) cancelled their planned hunt because of protests. 

As of Sunday morning, only 1 coyote has thus far been turned in.  Hopefully Sunday is a bigger day....last year there was a coyote derby run north of Spokane(of course, it ran for a month) that brought in 297 yotes. 


Finished alive, but, oy the chafing.

My older daughter has been participating in this program Girls on the Run for about two years now, with each year having a sping and a fall session.  The grand finale of each session is running in a 5K here in town.  Last fall, my wife participated, and this spring, the 5K was the same weekend we had already planned to go out of town to Republic.  This time though, there was nothing saving me from being volunteered to accompany my daughter. 

Because I was in a state of denial, I did nothing to get ready for this 5K, and for once, not getting my way saved me.  One of my...issues with the Girls on the Run program is it's more about 'girl power' and less about the running...they don't really 'push' the girls to run any faster or further...it's all 'do your best at your pace', which is fine I guess...it's just not how boys were taught to participate when I was growing up.

Talk about a life-saver.  If my daughter had been really running for 2-years, I would most likely be dead somewhere out on the course.  As it is, I was able to let her set the pace, with me doing some very light 'prodding'.  We probably ended up doing about 1/3rd running, 2/3rds walking, and I was never once the limiting factor, more through shear 'mental toughness'.  No way was I going to let my 10-year old outrun me, which meant I had to push on through some hellacious chafing.  I can't even begin to imagine what kind of physical discomfort marathon runners put up...it's beyond my comprehension how anyone can enjoy running.  Back in high school, I used to run to cut weight...but never once have I ran because I 'enjoyed it'.

In the end, we finished, we were in the middle of the 'not taking it seriously' pack, and we had enough strength left to smile.



Preserving the Protein.

Over the weekend, my wife had been shopping at Fred Meyers and found one of those 'deals she couldn't resist' on turkey...buy X amount and recieve 'Y' amount off per pound for the turkey.  Since she didn't buy anything we didn't need, it was a good deal.  The only problem is, I still haven't bought a 2nd freezer, so there really wasn't room to just throw it in the freezer for later.  Instead, she had to cook it on Wednesday, which still isn't a bad thing.

Even being a smaller bird, and me not being 100% efficient at stripping every last bit of meat off the carcass, there was over 4 pounds of left over meat...and still not a lot of room in the freezer.  It seemed like as good a time as any to break out the pressure canner.

After taking as much meat off the bird as I could, I shredded/chopped it up, and threw it in a pot with some chicken broth, to heat it back up. 

In case you didn't know what turkey in broth looks like.
 I always forget how long pressure canning takes...I mean, yeah, 75 minutes to process pint jars of most meats, but, the time to get to pressure, then the wait for the canner to cool down to atmospheric pressure on it own.  That kind of feels like a lot of work for the end result, but...what else was I doing sitting around the house with that 2 hours of my life?

So, in the end, canning takes much longer than properly vacuum sealing these things for the freezer would take, but, the cannin might be better, and not just from a 'prepper' point of view.  It's shelf stable even through power losses, and it's ready to use Right Now.  Forget to take something out of the freezer to thaw?  Just grab a can of beef or turkey from the garage, heat it in a pan with some corn starch to ticken the browth to gravy, and dump it over some rice or mashed taters!


Standing on the shoulders of giants...

At work today, we were having our 2nd Annual Chili Cookoff.  Last year, I had training on the day of the competition, so I wasn't able to participate.  This year, I was able to compete, and like they say, if you ain't cheating you ain't trying.

In this case, cheating involved using a recipe from Brigid's website, her Range Chili.

It's not really cheating I guess...I still had to do all the cooking, and I modified the recipe a bit: leaving out the onions, using 2 cans of black beans and two cans of kidney beans instead of 4 cans of kidney beans, and dicing up three chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to add a bit more heat. 

What most likely won it for me is the shear amount of meat in this chili...6 pounds of meat don't leave room for a lot of beans in a crock pot...and bacon makes everything better. 

Already helping the budget!

One of the 'Pro's' offered up by folks in support of I-502(legalizing marijuana) was the revenue generating opportunities of legalized and regulated pot sales.  One of the things that was touched on slightly less is the money that could be saved in the courts and the jails by not having to waste time and resources on folks having less than an ounce of marijuana, a misdemeanor under existing laws.

Well, that is the first benefit we are actually going to see from the initiative passing here in Washington, as the prosecutors office in several counties, including King, Pierce and Clark have announced they are dropping charges against everyone who was facing misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. 

That's a pretty major step forward...and unusually rapid progress by any level of the government.  What interesting is that the counties are moving forward on this, even as Governor Gregoire spent the day back on the east coast talking to senior Justice Department folks about just how the Feds are going to react to the decriminalization of marijuana.  What the state would hate do is spend money they don't have on creating a program to regulate the production and sales of marijuana, just to find out The Man is shutting the whole thing down. 

All in all, I have to say I'm somewhat pleasently surprised by the State and Counties reaction, especially since Governor Gregoire was against the passing of I-502. 


Another movie reference!

Whenever I hear the media refer to the upcoming 'fiscal cliff' there is only one thing I think of:

Yup...that's Obama and Boehner...holding hands and heading off a cliff, with the taxpayers running after them: 'No...Wait!  You need to actually do your F-ing job and make some tough decisions for once!  You can't keep kicking the can down the road to the next Congress or President.  You guys wanted to be where you are...now DO SOMETHING!!!!!'

Or something like that. 

As Federal Contractors, the whole 'fiscal cliff/sequestration' thing is more than a slight concern.  At home, I'm kind of using it as an excuse(okay, it's not an excuse...it's a real worry) to not do anything super serious about buying a house until after the new year. 

I would hate to see us hit the automatic tax increases and spending cuts just because that is LAZINESS on the part of our elected leaders, not because it's not needed.  The problem is sooooooo bug right now, I don't think it can be fixed by JUST cutting spending, or JUST increasing taxes on 'the rich'.  What would I do if I was in charge? 

Glad you asked. 

We NEED to cut spending.  As someone who has worked for The Man one way or another most of my adult life, I think the 10% cuts that 'sequestration' would bring about is a good start.  I'm convinced there is enough slop and inefficiency at ALL levels of government that a 10% cut would not result in much decrease to services provided.  We can also roll forward with pay freezes....but that's just a place to start.  Payroll is a very minor portion of spending, and a lot of our spending can't be touched without totally breaking our promises(pensions and retirement) that folks have been counting on...and I don't think you can do that without some warning.  That doesn't mean you can't start telling folks like me, in our mid 30's, that we need to start making some other plans. 

I haven't needed to be told.  I've already connected the dots...I'm not going to get to retire, not in the traditonal sense.  My big hope is that someday I'll be able to take the easiest, lowest paying job with the best benefits. 

As far as increasing the revenue stream(can't say raising taxes)...it needs to be done, but it can't just be on the rich.  What would really make me smile is a non-confusing flat tax...I think where a lot of folks get mad is the perception(and reality) that rich folks with better lawyers and accountants, get away with paying less taxes than the 'middle class'.  A flat tax would with minimum(no) deductions and loopholes would fix that.

Finally, you can't have folks with a negative tax load.  I have some family members in the Northeast under this plan...4 kids, one income, and I know they are getting income tax money back that they didn't pay.

Now...I don't argue that these changes won't hurt...they will.  A 10% spending cut will mean people let go.  There will be less money in the economy, and we might dip back into recession...but it's either slightly painful now...or really painful later.  The game of russian roulette comes from 'how much later'.  Would it be 8 years as our bond rating suffer, or could we limp along another 30 years?  Either way, it's going to happen right as my daughters are trying to live their lives...and call me idealistic, but I think we owe it to them to start fixing things now. 


Yup...it's just like that.

Now, I wish I had seen this about two weeks ago, because it might have been funnier before the election...but it still made me giggle, so I figured I would share.  Besides, as we approach the 'fiscal cliff', it will still sound like this anytime you turn on the news.

In this case I'm not sure which ones the Republicans or the Democrats, but I figure Adam Sandler is The Media, while the swan represents the Libertarians. 


Strange, it tastes like coffee.

I'm not a big coffee person.  If my wife makes a pot, I will drink some, and at a restaurant, I will order it with my breakfast, but at home, I prefer my hot caffeine come in the form of tea.  Preferably with milk and sweetener(either the pink stuff, the yellow stuff, or honey), which is also the way I drink coffee, when I do drink it. 

Obviously, I'm not in it for the flavor. 

My mother-in-law IS a coffee person, and to make up for the lack of a constantly ready pot when she was visiting, she picked up some Folgers Classic Roast Singles, which are basically a tea bag, but with coffee in it.  She has since gone home, but we still have a few of these pouches in the cabinet, so this morning, I decided to make one...just for research purposes. 

Ummm.....yeah, it tasted just like a cup of coffee should...which shouldn't be a surprise, but is.  I have several jars and cans of 'instant coffee' in the house, and on more than one occasion, I have tried some, just because...and I have never ONCE been satisfied with the finished product.  To steal from Douglas Adams, the product produced by Maxwell House Instant Crystals is something almost, but not completely unlike, coffee. 

The only thing I can't testify to, since I didn't buy it, is the price efficiency of these 'singles' packages.  I'm willing to bet it doesn't compare well with normal cans of coffee...but if it would be willing to pay more for it than I would be 'instant coffee'.  A few boxes of these, taken out of their package and then vacuum sealed, would be quite handy. 

Gotta break out the space heater.

Since we just moved into this current rental house at the end of last February, and so we haven't really had to deal with cold weather...until now.  Compared to what the folks in the Northeast have been dealing with, it seems lame to talk about weather being an inconvenience, but, well, it was cold last night...down into the mid 20's...and we learned this rental house doesn't hold heat very well.

I already figured it might be bad...the windows are older(aluminum frame), and with it being a single story house with central heat and air, the thermostat, located in the living room doesn't always tell the truth about what the temperature is down in the bedrooms. 

It doesn't help that my wife and I have diametrically opposed views as to what 'comfortable' is.  I like to leave the thermostat set at about 66-67 degrees during the day and evening, and at that temperature,  I am comfortable in gym shorts and a t-shirt, sometimes wearing slippers if I have to leave the carpet.  In those conditions, my wife is usually wearing fluffy socks, flannel pants and a hooded sweat-shirt while snuggling with a blanket on the couch. 

So... the space heaters are a compromise.  We can run one in each of the girls room about an hour before bedtime, and then when they go to bed, put one in the hallway, and one in our room, to warm it up before we get into bed.  In the morning, I turn on the one in our bedroom(because, it is nice to have some warm air when you get out of the shower), and then kick the one on in the hallway for about an hour.

This way, I get to turn the whole house heat down to 64(maybe even 63!). 

If I was a real geek, I'd have some kind of 'real time' use-meter hooked up to our electrical system, and see which way used more power...


Quick Range Trip

One of the nice things about being a member at the local range, vs. Paying for each visit, is that I don't feel the need to 'get my money's worth' each time I go.  Back when I used to only go shooting every few months, and pay each time I went, it was always a marathon session...bringing 7 or 8 guns, and hundreds upon hundreds of rounds of ammo.  Now, I can get away with less intensive trips to the range, so when my older daughter asked me earlier in the week if we could go shooting this weekend, there was little doubt I would an opportunity to fit in a trip.

Were weren't at the range long...it's only her 3rd(maybe 4th) time shooting, and she is still very much learning.  She put about 20-25 rounds through our Walther P22, the same amount through the 10-22, and about 6 rounds of .38 through my Marlin 1894.  What I liked is that she remembered things about the P22 from our last trip, and she remembered the rules.  What she liked was the red dot scope on our 10-22.  Very user friendly. 

There are still bad habits and things that make me(and the RO) flinch.  She likes to turn the gun sideways to look at it when it's empty.  It's also tough convincing her that only one finger goes in the trigger guard.

It was a nice trip.  We were the only ones on the range for a while, so we go to go downrange and inspect the target every few shots, and she didn't have to put up with the noise of other shooters.  The temperature was a bit chilly...high of right around 40, which is another reason the visit didn't last long...but it was enough time.  She even offered to help load the magazines...and I was able to convince her to help pick up the brass since she was closer to the ground then me.

Had a twinge of jealousy near the end of the trip.  I had loaded up a banana mag for the 10-22, and since my daughter didn't want to burn through it, I did.  Hitting a target with a red dot at 10 yards wasn't much of a challenge, but I was able to keep everything in a circle the size of a half-dollar.  When I finished up, I heard one of the RO talking to the other one, expressing surprise that his fellow RO didn't own a 10-22. 

The conversation turned to the utility of the gun and cartridge, and let to the RO talking about the virtues of the .22 magnum, and how much he liked his new pistol.  I then said how I was highly intriqued by the Kel-Tec PMR 30...but just couldn't find one anywhere.  With a tinkle in his eye, the RO reached into his bag, and said 'Here...try this one on for size'. 

Somehow, while I have been on two local wait lists to get my hands on a PMR-30, this gentleman had gone to a gun show in Spokane 2 weeks ago, and found a guy with two PMR-30's on his table.  Both of them were sold less than 20 minutes after the gun show opened. 

After holding one in my hand today...my yearning is much greater than it was yesterday.  It is SOOOOOO light, and points naturally.  The guy had already burned through all his .22 Mag he had with him, so I didn't get to shoot it...but it felt nice.  The only negative I had is that the slide release was stiff, but that might get a little looser with time. 

The RO then made me sad, because he couldn't find the business card of the gentleman who sold him the gun.  I would drive to spokane in a heartbeat to get my hands on one of those PMR-30's. 


Not your parents 'Operation'.

Around our house, we aren't exactly swimming in 'consumer electronics'.  We have a TV in the living room hooked up to cable and the Internet, and in the family room, we have an older TV with just a DVD player on it.  To supplement that, we have a single lap top computer.  With the moving in and out of apartments, and even now a smaller rental house than we owned, there just hasn't been the room or need for a desk top computer.  What that means, is when all 4 of us are home, the lap top is seldom sitting idle for long.

So, anyway, with that unneeded background, last night my older daughter asked if she could use the computer, and I said sure.  After letting her run unsupervised around the Internet, I had better check on what she was doing.  To my horror, I found her floating around this site, Edheads, participating in a Virtual Hip Replacement Surgery. 

What a neat site...I mean, I'm not saying she's going to learn to be a doctor by playing around on this site, but she was having a good time, learning how to read an x-ray to determine which hip has less cartilage, and how to stich up the surgical wound when she is done. 

I guess maybe it sounds like I'm bragging, and, well, I am.  With all the useless stuff she could be doing on the internet machine, she settles in to something educational with her free time. 

Plus she has me hooked doing Virtual Knee Replacements.


Wow....I'm such a square

I don't get it.  I heard this song on the radio today, and...I don't get it.  It has NOTHING to do with it not all being in English...then I could say I don't understand it.  This, I just don't get. 

And I'm not entirely ashamed to admit that. 

Now, the video...well, I still don't really get it, but, the number of highly aesthetic young ladies has me willing to watch it a few more times to see if I ever do get it.

Carry On.


One tin soldier rides away...

Yup, the whole 'morning after thing'.  Just a quick reaction...

Nationally, I thought Romney had a chance...not that I voted for him(it's not my fault he lost..even if EVERYONE in Washington who voted 3rd party had voted for Romney(which ain't likely), Obama still would have carried Washington by 200,000 votes).  I'm neither a woman, or a minority, so I can't begin to answer what it would take for the Republican's to convince them to vote for them.  Perhaps a line should be forming outside Condaleezza Rice's door this morning.

The good news on the national level is that the Republican's kept the house.  Gridlock IS better than the wrong kind of progress, and maybe I'm fooling myself(just like I did voting for Johnson), but I see Obama having a hard time forcing a new Assault Weapons Ban through The House.  Not saying he may not push the envelope with Executive Orders, but...

Statewide, here in Washington, things have kind of a, dare I say it, libertarian feel.  It's looking like the Same-Sex Marriage Referendum is going to pass, as is the legalization of marijuana(on a state level...nice we could give some job security to the Feds), and creation of charter schools, PLUS for the 3rd time, voters again passed an initiative requiring a 2/3rds majority vote to raise taxes(it's only a matter of time before the State Supreme Court strikes it down for 'limiting the power of the Legislature, but at least the voters are speaking).

The only bummer locally is that it's looking like Jay Inslee will beat Rob McKenna as Governor.  Inslee just strikes me as a career politician, who has made a career of 'going along' in Congress, while McKenna, a former Attorney General, actually, you know...DID STUFF! 

Counts on that one will continue through the day, but right now Inslee has a 50,000+ lead out of 1.8 million votes counted. 

Now maybe we can start talking about this Fiscal Cliff we are heading at all Thelma and Louise like.


On the bright side...

With today being election day, we shouldn't be subjected to many more political commercials, which will be nice...haven't seen nearly enough femanine hygiene product commercials lately.

I don't think we are done with hearing about politics.  I'm on the
west coast, and I STILL don't think we will know who the next president is when I go to bed tonight.  I fully expect to wake up Wednesday and find out that at least two states are too close to call.

Meanwhile, it's liberating knowing my guy isn't going to win.  While some folks would think me foolish, I cast my vote for Gary Johnson.  First off, it makes me feel good...I voted for the person(other than myself and Condoleza Rice) that I would most like to see as president.  Second, I have that luxery.  The contest for Washingtons Electoral College votes is decided by Seattle.

With either probable result for president depressing me(the difference between a fast bleed and a slightly less fast bleed), I'm much more interested in our state races.  Latest polls show that the race for Governor is going to be TIGHT, so in that case, I had no problem voting Republican. I'm idealisitc, NOT hopelessley romantic.  I expect same sex marriage will stay okay in Washington, and I suspect the initiative to legalize marijuana will succeed.

Either way, Wal-mart will still be open to start stocking up Thursday.


I just couldn't help myself!!!

I'm not sure I can stop at Safeway without taking a look at what is on clearence.  This usually includes the clearance shelves in the back, as well as the 'eat it now' meat. 

Today, it also included a swing by the Halloween stuff....not for candy, but because, you never know.  It paid off too, because I found A Deal.

Earlier in the day, I was tempted by a deal on Woot, a site that deserves a look everyday.  On Kids Woot, they had Lifegear Glowsticks for $4 a piece, and then $5 shipping for as many as you want to order. 

I like these glowsticks...you get an 8 Lumen LED flashlight, and a colored light stick with a flashing option.  Now...8 lumen isn't a Surefire...but it's very usefull.  There is also a whistle on the glowsticks.  I keep one in each of our bugout bags for the girls, and they proved useful on Halloween, because the long lanyard allowed the girls to wear them like necklaces.

As useful as they are, I was able to resist pulling the trigger on them on Woot.

Then, I saw The Deal at Safeway....two flats of Orange Lifegear Glowsticks for $1.25 A PIECE.

Before I even knew what I was doing, I had 8 of them in my cart.  As useful as they are, the fact that they run off 'button' batteries kind of makes them disposable...not very cost effective to replace the batteries.

I left about 10 more of the on the shelf(I didn't want to be greedy)...and I already regret it.  Heck...put 3 or 4 of these in your car, and you can use them as flares if you have to pull over to the side of the road. 

For $1.25, it's a highly useful tool. 


Ummm...try again please.

As election day approaches, we just have to survive one last push of commercials.  One that caught my eye, in an annoying manner, is urging people to vote against R-74, the gay marriage referendum here in Washington. 

The reason they give for voting against it?  If the referendum passes, they might teach about it in school.

Well, heaven help us if they actually teach about ANYTHING in school, but...really, THAT's your big reason?  They might teach about it in school?

I kind of understand that approach...you don't want to come across as 'intolerant', but...it's still a pretty lame argument.

Besides...gay marriage teaching aside, shame on you if you aren't already asking your kids what they are learning in school so you can either reinforce it, or offer a counter-argument. 

The times, they are a changing.

Saw a story yesterday in the Everett Herald, and while it was lacking details(as is usually the case with stories of military discipline), it still caught my eye.

Navy removes ship officers after boozy port visit

Following a three day port visit in Vladivostok, the Navy relieved the CO, XO and Chief Engineer of the U.S.S. Vandegrift, a San Diego based frigate.  Phrased in the normal Navelese, the CO was relieved 'due to loss of confidence after demonstrating poor leadership and failure to ensure the proper conduct of his wardroom officers', and the XO and Eng were relieved for "for personal conduct involving use of alcohol and not adhering to established liberty policies". 

Basically, how I read that is that the XO, Eng and some of the other officers got SOOOOO wild and crazy, that the CO, who was only on the ship for 3 months, is getting fired also. 

I just can't imagine WHAT these folks did to warrant this kind of a response by the Navy.  I mean...I was a sailor...I saw some pretty wild and crazy port calls, and no one ever got fired.  Since nothing ever made the papers about a bunch of drunk sailors burning down some bars, or running over a crosswalk full of Russian School children, I can't wrap my mind around it.

The only real answer is that the rules have changed.  Even when I was serving in the 1990's, the rules were different from the 70's and 80's.  Seems pretty extreme to can half your wardroom and ruin a number of careers just to get your point across that the wild and crazy port call stories you've heard for the last 30 years suddenly aren't allowed any more.


I'm not worthy!

With hunting season in full swing, one of our lunch time discussions at work this week was 'how you get your animals processed'.  I, obviously, am a member of the 'drop it off for butchering' group, but a number of the guys I work with handle it themselves, some stopping at the cut and wrapped stage and grinding their own burger. 

One gentleman even processes his own sausage and jerky, although he recommends you practice with beef and pork first, because you feel much less bad about wasting 10 pounds of pork that you can buy at the store on a bum batch of sausage then you do about wasting the round roast out a deer that you won't get back until next year.

After admiting that I am one of the types that has someone else do my dirty work, I did express the opinion that I felt butchering a deer, or even an elk was something I could do, given the right facilities. Getting the backstraps and tenderloin out doesn't look too tough, and if the rest of the animal ends up looking sad and getting turned into burger...well, that tastes okay too. 

At this, one of my buddies brightened up and asked if I had ever seen the youtube video of a guy butchering a deer in 8 minutes.  When I said I hadn't, he told, just go home and type in 'butcher deer in 8 minutes', and enjoy.

So I did...and I did enjoy.  Holy Moly...it's not so much an instructional video, as it is a display of skill and experience.  I'm sure residing in Wisconsin, where more deer are hit by cars each year than hunters kill in Washington, Mr. Heid, of Heid Wild Game Cutting, gets to practice on 400-500 deers a year...and it shows.  The techniques that really blew me away was the way he detaches the hind quarter, and then takes all the rib meat and back straps off at once.  It might be cheaper and less frustrating to fly Mr. Heid in every year to handle my animals that to practice until I get to his level. 

Embedding was disabled on the video, but, please, click here to enjoy and be blown away.(No, there is no warning for it being icky...I suspect if you are the type who has stuck around this long, seeing your dinner BEFORE it ends up on your plate won't disturb you.


Local Effects

As the North East finishes crawling out from under Sandy, we are finished cleaning up with the effects from the storm we felt from 3000 miles away.

My mother-in-law had come for a 10 day visit, but due to Sandy, the airline called the night before she was supposed to fly home and said her flight Sunday was cancelled, and that the soonest they could reschedule her for was Thursday.

The good news for was she didn't need to deal with power outages and rain.  The bad news for her was, well...there was no bad news, although she was worried about her cat.

For me, it just meant walking softly around my wife and her mom. They get along as well as any adult gets along with their adult child, which is perfectly fine, until something serious happens.  I don't mind my mother-in-law...which just don't have a lot in common, other than my wife and kids.

I get poutty when anyone cuts into my time I get to spend sitting around in my skivies brushing Doritto's out of my chest hair.


If this is true...

So, I saw the following headline on yahoo earlier today, and IF the 10 year old kids story is true, there are some questions that need answering.

New Mexico police officer Christopher Webb shoots boy, 10, with a 50,000 volt Taser gun at school career day

What questions?  Well, first, if this happened in May, why didn't it make the papers back in May?  Second, once again, assuming that the kids story is true, and the officer pointed his taser at the kid, and shot him with the taser, either on accident OR on purpose...why didn't he do jail time?

I know that a taser is considered a 'non-lethal' weapon, but people die from them ALL the time.  A 10-year old getting hit in the chest with one should be a big deal, whether or not it was intentional. 

My wife(with the increasing distrust of someone who is happy with the way our homeschooling is going) isn't surprised that this didn't make it in the papers when it first happened.  She thinks that public schools with their rules to 'protect students'(and the staff) are one of the last places in our society that you CAN cover up things like this.

All I know is that my older daughter is 10 years old.  If she gets shot in the chest with a taser, you can bet I'm shouting it from the roof tops.

Trick or Treat

One of my co-workers invited my family to his place for Halloween.  It wasn't a big thing...a couple of crockpots of goodies, and then walking around their neighborhood as a group, which sounded more fun than walking around with just my girls, while my sat at home warm and dry. 

Mine are the two on the right side...a Mad Surgeon and Cleopatra. 
I'm glad we went...the girls had a good time with the group, my wife had a good time going and meeting a few new ladies...and if we hadn't gone I wouldn't have gotten to see this decoration in someone's front yard.

There really isn't much more to say about that...