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


It's all turned to goo.

My brain that is.  As per 10 CFR 835, all Health Physics Technician's(and their supervisor's, which would be me) are required to perform a bi-annual requalification.  The most arduous task of this requalification is a written examination. 

In the Shipyard, requalification was required every 30 months, and each person's qualification date was tracked seperatly, so there was always SOMEONE coming up for requal.  Out at Hanford, they just say everyones requal cycle falls every two years, which means that sometimes, people like me who have only been qualified 1 year get to do their quals early. 

The other major difference is the test themselves.  The Shipyard, being part of the Navy's Nuclear Power Program, doesn't believe in 'multiple choice', so the test is fill in the blank, short answer, and essay.  The coup d' grace is a 'complex casualty' that usually requires somewhere between 8-12 handwritten pages to answer.  It's 4-8 hours of wrist cramping goodness.

The test at Hanford is longer(170ish questions), but multiple choice(well, not all of it...about 20% of the test is math, and you actually need to write that answer down).  After taking the Navy/Shipyard test, multiple choice feels like cheating. 

I'm not trying to run it down...I mean, these folks out here KNOW what they are doing(that's all I need to is get quoted as saying things at Hanford are broken).  It's just that the knowledge base required(the key words and tricky phrases as we used to call them) to answer a question, is different than what's what's required to pick the right answer out of 4 possibilities.  For me, after 17 years of doing it the other way, it just feels strange.  Like most things, the best answer probably lays somewhere in the middle...some multiple choice, and some short answer. 

I do know I like the results better here...I got a 96 on my test today, after three or 4 days of pretty intense cramming.  Plus, my hand never cramped up during the test!

Hooray for The Arts. And Hypocrisy

Being a big fan of movie trailers and spoilers, I was all over the fact that the trailer for Les Miserable(due out December 14th) 'dropped' yesterday.

My initial impression is 'yes please'.  I'm not going to say that Miss Hathoway's voice is perfect...she certainly doesn't feel 'big' enough project into a live theater....but for the screen, I think that will do nicely.  Much better than some drunk girl at karaoke(not that I would mind running into Anne Hathoway drunk at karaoke, but that's a topic for another time).  No footage of Jackman or Crowe singing, but you can find that elsewhere, and I think they will both do fine.

In short, there is nothing to convince me that I don't want to see this movie in December, which could make me a hypocrite unless I cave on something else with my wife in the next few weeks.

She is really interested in going to see the new movie 'Rock of Ages' that comes out soon, a new musical based off hairbands in the late 80's, early 90's.(see the unbiased nature I present?  Her movie gets a link, mine gets a clip).

I told her it looks neat, but that there is no reason to pay $10 to go see a movie that's 'just singing' in the theaters, when it will be just as good at home.  We should try to save our movie theater money for movies with explosions and transforming robots, since they are 'different on the big screen.'

Hopefully, she will forget that before December when this movie, which is 'just singing' comes out.   


Or, it COULD be the Gangs...

The head line on the front page of the Seattle Times got my blood pressure fired up bright and early this morning. 

Guns more than gangs are fueling violence in Seattle, police say

Yup...because I'm constantly having to stop my guns from loading themselves up in my truck and driving themselves around town and then randomly firing 40 rounds into someones house, or trying to pop someone from across an intersection.

This whole article is made of fail.  There is one quote about guns three paragraphs in...the rest is a bunch of quotes from police officials about how they really don't have an F-ing CLUE about why the number of homicides is up from last year to this year. 

Of particular interest to me is who they are quoting: A Deputy Police of Chief, an Assistant Chief for Operations, an Assistant Chief of Investigations, and Acting Captain of Community Outreach.  Dare we guess that maybe that little example of top-heaviness has something to do with the inefficiency of the Seattle Police to figure out why people are shooting each other in drive by's or across intersections? 

In the end, the article boils down to many examples of a lack of communication between the police department and the 'community'  There have been three or 4 shootings in the last week with absolutely NO witnesses.  Or no witnesses willing to speak to the police.

Maybe community leaders need to be talking to folks about actually cooperating with the police in catching people that break the laws instead of worried about funding after-school programs that no one is attending...


She knows me too well...

Over the weekend, I finally super glued my wife to the couch so we could do some serious discussing about our itinerary for our trip to to Bozeman this summer.  The only remaining point of negotiation is if there is enough to do between Missoula and Bozeman to justify staying a 4th night between the two towns.  Right now, I am thinking we will do Coeur D'Alene night one, Missoula night 2, then Bozeman.  That's where things get hazy...do a 2nd night in Bozeman, or head back to Missoula in the evening after doing the Museum of the Rockies, before hitting CDA again, and then going home.  

One plan will have us spending the 4th in Missoula, the other in Coeur D'Alene.  Maybe someone, ANYONE(like Kit, my Montana Hero) will swing in and tell me if the 4th of July in Missoula is a good time or not.

In other planning news, after hammering out the big picture stuff, my wife has left alone for the 'finer points'.  For the most part. 

Last night, she caught me on the computer with about 4 windows open, bouncing around on yelp, the Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-in's, and Dives websites.  She then informed me that my original justification for this road trip was visiting the Museum of the Rockies, not planning my own personal attack on every brew pub and hidden food gem between Richland and Bozeman. 

Party Pooper.  I think I agreed we wouldn't eat at more than one brew pub a day...


As promised...

I said I would post a picture of picture of my finished pork shoulder, and so I shall.

The chunk missing from the top was removed by my wife, who was more than willing to take the hit for the team and make sure the pork was ready for pulling.  it was, bringing us to the toughest park of pulling pork: waiting for it to cool enough to be able to handle it bare handed, and then making sure that not too much of it get sampled during the shredding process. 

Starting with 5 pound boneless shoulder, I was able to get three 12 ounce packages of pork...one which we ate tonight, two that went in the freezer for later use.  There they will stay until my wife decides to pull one of them out to use as the protein component in dinner...usually we end up tossing them in with mac and cheese, or a rice or bean mix, or for pork taco's. 

Meanwhile, as a Celtic's fan, I'm not very happy with the way game 1 is going.  I don't really think that the Celtic's have a chance to win it all(or even beat the Heat to make it to the Finals), but it hurts to see your team lose anyway...


Rub a dub, dub.

Freezer is starting to look a little thin of 'ready to go' meat options, so I stopped at Safeway and picked up a 5 pound boneless pork shoulder.  I've got it all rubbed down and resting in the oven.  Now, before I go to bed tonight I'll pour some braising liquid(apple juice, some vinigar, and liquid smoke) around it, and place it in the oven at 225 degrees. 

Pictures of the finished product will follow. 

For my rub, I started using Alton Brown's Rub Number 9.  Now, I still try to follow it, using brown sugar as the base for my rub, but I'm more likely to throw in any silly little thing I find around the kitchen...

A driving game!

On our trip to North-Central Washington last week, on Saturday morning we threw the kids in the car for a little swing through most of Ferry and some of Okanogan County.  Primarily, this was to have them be bored in the car for a bit instead of being bored in the cabin, but, it was also to give us a chance to check out some teritory, and a few 'ghost towns' in the mountains. 

At one point, there was gold in them there hills, and even now, Kinross is operating a mine outside of town.  The old-timers might not recognize it, since it's not chunks of gold, but rather a rock powder than then uses chemicals to seperate the gold out.  According to Kinross' site, they took out over 175,000 ounces last year.  Historically speaking, there was a plaque in town saying that over 2.1 MILLION ounces of gold had been claimed from the hills around town, and the rivers and creeks are still a popular destination for hobby panners.

The population of the Republic area was once estimated to be over 20,000 folks, compared to the current Ferry County population of 7,500 folks, spread out over 2,200 square miles.  That's close to twice as big as Rhode Island, with a population of .7% of our smallest state.  So yeah...folks are spread out up there, and along the way, there were attempts at cities that just didn't make it.

This was the first attempt at the town of Washtucna, but as you can see, there isn't much too see...but, then again, two miles down the road, in the current town of Washtucna, there wasn't much to see either.  According to a sign they had posted, at one point, half the buildings in Washtucna were saloon's...I'm not sure why you would ever want to leave a town like that.

These next two pictures were the town of Bodie.  There is no current Bodie. 

Just down the road from Bodie there was this interesting structure.  The top was made of wire mesh, and there was a conveyor belt leading into it.  I think it had to be some kind of drying building at some point.  If I didn't have the kids with me(and I had an interest in getting a tetnus booster) I would like to have explored this place on foot. 

In addition to the obvious ruins/ghost towns, there were other buildings that started my wife playing the 'occupied/not occupied game.  You'd see this weathered looking structure a few hundred yards off the road, and think 'well, that's a well preserved abandoned house'...until my wife pointed out there were curtains or blankets across the window, and what looked like a car parked behind the building...

I didn't take any pictures of these...pictures of ghost towns, cool.  Pictures of something that someone might actually have been living in...kind of creepy even if just taken for educational purposes.

That is the reality of rural living though.  I don't point this out to make fun of these folks; I'm sure they would do better if they could.  As much as I would like to romanticise having a cute little cabin on 10 acres...there are some folks who can't do any better.  And we aren't talking cute little cabin.  One driveway lead to a pre-fab metal roof(not even a shed, it was open on the sides) aranged over the top of an Atlas Van Lines Trailer, with permenant stairs built to it, and a hole cut in the roof for a chimney to stick out. 

I keep telling myself, 'maybe it's just a hunting camp'.  But...boy.  It's the kind of place where actual siding on a house is considered a luxury.  There were at least three ocupied buildings that just had plywood and paper on them.  A fourth guy went all out and had shrink wrapped it in Tyvek.

Still, as long as there is a clump of trees between my cute cabin and their shanty...I wouldn't mind them for neighbors...I'm sure they can tell me where the deer are. 


So, ummm, yeah....

Over at Borepatch's site, he is lamenting the lack of internet traffic as Saturday wraps up on this three day weekend.  Other than one person researching S&W 625, things must be pretty slow in his neck of the woods...I mean, he only has 4 comments on his latest post, which would be a slow week for me...

In the vain of thanking the folks that keep coming even on beautiful weekends, I would like to thank the folks who have come here today looking for pictures of Kat Dennings ass.  Far and away, that is the most popular search term that leads people here, which makes me feel like a bit of a pervert...I mean, I don't shy from talking about women or posting the occasional picture of the comely ones....but it's not like it's a major focus point for me.

Sometimes though, you need to give the paying customers what they want...

Yeah...it's not her ass...can't go into too much pandering. 

Besides, it's not like I have anything else on my mind to blog about right now...

Who knew Styx could predict the future!

Back in 1981, Styx released the song 'Too Much Time on my Hands'...and that was back before the internet.

Back before someone sat down and created a bunch of My Little Pony/Dr. Who spoof's called Dr. Whooves and Assistant on youtbe...and long before my wife got my 9 year old daughter hooked on Dr. Who, leading to her FINDING this Dr. Whooves on youtube.

I haven't been able to use my computer for the last 45 minutes while she watches all the different little webisodes. 


What's in a name, anyway...

Having done our 'special weekend' last weekend(in an effort to dodge Memorial Day crowds), we really had nothing to do this weekend.  Not wanting to sit around ALL weekend and then realize we did NOTHING, we decided to take a quick road trip to Pendleton, Oregon.  At one point, we were thinking of heading to Pomeroy, Washington to check out a cabin, but yesterday when I called the real estate company to get some good directions(something I have learned is important with rural properties), we found out there was an offer pending on that property, so, we decided to check out Oregon instead. 

With it being kind of a last minute decision, I made a quick trip on yelp to find out what kind of things there actually are to do in Pendleton.  One of the main attractions is an underground tour, where you can see all the tunnels that the old Chinese workers dug when they worked in Pendleton back in the 1890's.  Since my wife isn't big on confined spaces, we decided to check out the Umatilla County History Museum, and also the Pendleton Wool Mills and the attached Pendleton Store. 

Life being life, we got a little later start than we wanted to get.  It's a nice drive, showing off how nice looking Eastern Washington/Oregon can be.

Due to the late start, and the fact that the Pendleton Mill gave scheduled tours, and not  just 'whenever you show up tours', we decided to eat lunch first, which didn't leave time for the Umatilla County History Museum. 

Lunch was the best part of the day.  The fine folks on Yelp pointed us in the right direction: The Prodigal Sun Brew Pub

Because I was wishy washy, and unable to decide between the different selections on their menu, and instead got the beer sampler.

Lunch was good...so good, that I'd almost be willing to make the hour and a half drive to Pendleton just to eat lunch there....which is good, because the tour of the Pendleton Wool Mill lasted a grand total of 12 minutes, so, it was like we made the trip just to eat lunch. 

I can't say the tour was a total waste...my wife seemed to get something out of it.  I think she would really like me to buy her a 25,000 computerized loom so she could make some of the blankets they make there.  You had to wear the little 'personnal PA System' head sets to hear the tour guide with everything running in the factory.  Even then it was tough to hear all the way...the girls tried to get into it, but all the really got out of it was it takes big fancy machines to make lots of colorful blankets,  Luckily, after my 8 beer samples, I was able to enjoy the tour by focusing mainly on my amazing wife. 

Some of the blankets were nice, but man, you paid for what you got...even flipping through the selection on the 'factory seconds' tables everything bigger than a 'throw' sized blanket was priced north of $100.  I looked at a wool jacket they had on their clearance rack, and almost swallowed my tongue when I saw they still wanted $200 for it.  We didn't leave empty handed...my wife picked up a 7 pound bag of wool 'mill ends' for needle felting, and a 13 pound back of 'loom trimmings' so she could make a 'loom selvedge rag rug'. 

It's a major award!

During this past two week period, I have been watching way too much NBA playoff Basketball(it almost makes my wife long for football season).  I've been cheering for the Celtics and Spurs, and against the Lakers and Heat.  I don't like baseball or basketball nearly enough to watch the regular season stuff, but during the sport drought of late spring and summer, I'll take what I can get, which is playoff Basketball, and the College World Series of Fast Pitch Softball. 

Anyway...the demograghic sitting around watching basketball games is right up Domino's alley, so I have seen many, many Domino's pizza commercials(or rather, the same comercial, many, many times).

The premise of their newest commercial is that their 'new and improved' pizza is soooooo popular that they need to hire more cooks...and if you do good enough at their 'build a pizza' game app, then maybe you can get one of those jobs!

Now...in Domino's defence, my wife and I haden't eaten their pizza for many years before giving their 'new and improved' pizza a chance a few months ago...at it WAS 'new and improved'...by far the best of the cheap pizza chain pizzas(but nothing compared to a local, brick oven pizza place). 

But...is the job market really that bad that Domino's thinks they can dangle a job working in one of their hot, sweaty pizza kitchen's as an incentive to folks playing stupid games on their $250+ I-Phones and $400 I-Pads? 


Some things should go without saying...

A couple of the big road maintenance contractors here in Washington are currently finding themselves with a bit of unwanted attention, after a Seattle news station got some hidden camera video of the guys bringing in half-racks and drinking some liquid bread for lunch.

Quit drinking beer on job, Highway 520 builders told

Is it dumb to be caught drinking beer during your lunch hour when your company is earning a 587 MILLION dollar contract from the State?  Yeah. 

Is it dumb to drink some beer at lunch, and then go operate heavy machinery?  Well, yeah....

Am I all kinds of outraged?

Well...I'm trying to be, but I'm having a hard time getting there.

Back when my submarine was getting built at Electric Boat, I heard many (unconfirmed) stories of how lunch used to work during there in the 70's and 80's. Across the street in front of EB there are 3 or 4 pubs.  It used to be, half an hour before lunch time, they would start lining up beer mugs, shots(and sandwich's).  When the whistle blew, everyone would run across the street, have a brew and a shot or two with a sandwich, and head back to finish the day. 

A lot of submarines were built in that time, and a lot of sailors went to sea and made it back safe again on those boats. 

Heck...even during my time, we found the occasional empty plastic traveler pint bottle in the bilge during field day...I made it out and back.

Does that make it okay?  No, I suppose not, because we aren't in the 70's or 80's anymore(more's the pity). 

That doesn't mean I don't wish it was okay...with not being able to drink beer at home, a pint or two at work might make the afternoon a little more pleasant. 


Tragic Shooting Follow-up.

A few months ago, there were three child related shootings in a little over a week.  In two of those cases charges had already been filed against the adults whose poor handling of firearms allowed those shootings to happen.  Today, Snohomish County announced it had completed its investigation in the sad case were a 7-year old was killed by her 3-year old brother because the father had left his loaded S&W revolver sitting in the cup holder of his van while he and his wife ran an errand in a store for 'just a second'.

Marysville police officer charged in daughter's

In this case, I think 2nd Degree Manslaughter is right.  The guy didn't mean for this to happen, he was just in a hurry, and made a poor, poor decision.  As a result of that decision, his daughter was killed. 

I don't buy much into this picture that they are trying to paint that the 3-year old had a fascination with firearms...the kid was a kid. I'm also don't expect an 'example' to be made because he was a police officer...I would expect ANY gun owner who left a loaded revolver in a van full of kids to be treated the same way.


Worse neighbors to have...

One of the things we had wanted to do while up in Republic this past weekend was look at some houses and property...part of a very initial sizing up of that area for a possible vacation/retirement/retreat location. 

We saw a lot of nice land, and a few decent 'turn key ready' properties, including one nice cabin on 10 acres for just over 100K.  I mean...you do the math on that, putting 20% down, it comes out to like 450 a month.  Taking it a step further, that means my wife would only need to make $2000 a month to allow me to be a gentleman farmer...but that's a thought for another time. 

More than specific properties though, we were just kind of looking at areas...how does Trout Creek compare to Mt. Baldy?  East of town vs. North of town closer to the border(closer to the border looked nice, but in a quick drive we saw two cars of Border Patrol folks glassing hill sides with binoculars, which is way more attention than I want from law enforcement). 

Sometimes, you were driving down roads with no names, sometimes they had Forest Service numbers, and sometimes they had names made up by the locals...this one was my favorite, and if that's the local flavor, I'm okay with it.

That Duct Tape is Bad, Bad, Stuff.

That duct tape...1001 uses.  I just didn't know that one of the uses of pink duct tape was that it made you a One Woman Wrecking Crew against the Seattle Police Department.

Half-naked woman in hot pink duct tape attacks, injures 3 cops

Wow....doing a back flip out of the car, and then doling out one 'slightly dislocated jaw', a mild concussion, and severed pinky tendon(not sure how a kick does that)...all with handcuffs on, 

She was in a Taco Bell for a while though...maybe I'm giving too much credit to the Pink Duct Tape, and not enough credit to the Dorito's Loco Taco...

Anyway...they funny thing is I don't think this would have happened a year ago.  For a while, the Seattle Police Department was getting quite a reputation for 'over the top responce', especially among the bleeding hearts IN Seattle.  Reform is in the air though, and I certain that somewhere on the mind of these officers has how badly the media would paint them if they had to taser/pepper spray a lady whose only protection was duct tape...so, instead they went to easy, and learned a good lesson.


And we've reached the end...

Packing things up this morning to head home.  It's been a good little mini-vacation.

Time is a funny thing.  As you are living life, things sometimes seem to take forever...for instance...listening to the kids complain about how bored they are because there is no TV, and the only brought a back pack full of toys/books seemed to eat up much more of the time than hanging out on the dock, fishing for rainbow trout.

I just know that as I sit here typing this, I'm also looking out the window at the sheet of glass calm lake...and I don't want to go home.  The world is back there.  With great foresight, I took Monday off work also, so I don't need to jump right back into 'The Grind'...but the Real World is back there. 

Since losing my wife's favorite NPR station an hour and a half out of Richland, I haven't made any attempt to keep up on the news, other than what we read in the Ferry County View(Hey look, the football team made $8,000 for new uniforms at a Cinco de Mayo Taco Feed!). 

But, we need to go back...we cut things a little close on the amount of food and sundries we brought with us.  We have just enough pop tarts for the girls this morning, and two English muffins the wife and I.  We need to have hot cocoa with our breakfast, because we are out of milk. 

More importantly, I'm sure our 25 pound cat ate the three days worth of food I left him about 4 hours after we were gone. 

And yes, an hour into the drive, when my children are bouncing out of their seats, because they had pop-tarts and hot chocolate for breakfast, I will be trying to find a way to blame it on my wife.


That's thirsty work...

Fossil hunting went pretty good yesterday.  As a direct comparison to the last time we went fossil hunting, down in Fossil, Oregon, The Stonerose Interpretative Center had nicer facilities than what we encountered in Oregon, but it seemed tougher to find fossils.

When we were in Oregon, it seemed like every piece of rock you split open had something in it.  Here in Republic, you had do a lot more evaluation between shale and limestone, and exercise extreme caution in how you were splitting the rock...I ended up with more than a few 'half-fossils'

Just like in Oregon, there was no chance of un-earthing a T-Rex here.  These fossil beds are from the Eocene Epoch, roughly 48-50 million years ago.  Most of what they reveal are vegetation fossils, although if you are lucky you can find fish and insects.  We weren't that lucky, but we did find a few nice examples of Sequoia and Sumac.

 One of the things that set Stonerose apart from Fossil, was that there IS the Interpretive Center.  They have a few nice display cases full of fossils you can expect to find, and at the end they will help identify what you have found.  By comparison, in Oregon, there was a little shack with a nice retired man in it taking your money, and that was it. It's a double edged sword though...if you find something too nice 'of scientific interest' the Stonerose Center reserves the right to keep it for 'educational purposes'.  So...you want to find neat, but not too neat.

After digging, we checked out the down-town strip of Republic.  There were a few cute shops for my wife and the girls, and The Republic Brewing Company for me. 

Hey...sitting in the sun, splitting up pieces of rock is warm, dusty work...and a beer, or two, or three feels pretty good afterwards. 

It's a cute place...fairly new(their one year anniversary in June) they had 7 beers on tap when I was there yesterday...I tried their Brown(pint), Flannagan's Irish Red(1/2 pint) and Republic Pale(1/2 pint).  I didn't try their Blonde, Porter, or either of the two Weizen's that they had going.  In addition to their own beers, they sell a cider made down the road in Winthrop, and a mead made in Dayton.

I HAD to get some to go(hey, this cabin is not my house, my New Years Resolution doesn't apply).  Now here is where I saw a stroke of Bloody Brilliance. 

Growlers are cool...being able to get beer to go is cool.  Sometimes though, even in my beer drinking hay day, there were times I couldn't/wouldn't finish a 64 ounce growler before the beer inside went flat.  To counter this, The Republic Brewing Company offered a 32 ounce 'Grunt'.  These might be available other places now....but it's the first time I've seen it, so I'm giving them the credit for the idea.


First World Problem

One of the newer phrases my wife has picked up from one of her online peer groups is: That's First World Problem. 

Examples of First World Problems are:

I can't find my I-Pod Charger

The Grocery Store was out of the brand of hummus that I like, so I had to buy the other one.

There was no Tully's in that town, so I had to drink Starbucks instead.

Now we can add another one: The floor in the cabin/cottage we are renting is 100% Linoleum.  I am certain that this linoleum in 840% easier to maintain than carpet is...but talk about chilly when you first wake up and then when you get out of the shower...


It could just be I'm easily impressed.

Had a pretty decent birthday today, or as decent as one can have when 4.5 hours of it is spent in car with your family. 

Our poor little Impreza was packed to the gills, but she made it nicely.  The only rough spot of the trip was when pulled into to the town of Odessa, thinking we would be able to off load some of on-board stowage tanks that had been filled up by lemonade.  Since we couldn't find any gas stations, we had to settle for the town parks restrooms, and it was a good thing we thought to bring toilet paper for the cabin, because it came in handy at the rest stop.

It's an interesting drive.  From Richland to the Columbia River(well, it's actually Lake Roosevelt, since it's upstream of the Grand Coulee Dam(and it's actually the 2nd time you go over the Columbia, since you go over to leave Richland on the freeway)), you are driving through the Channeled Scablands, rolling hills and gorges carved out of the basalt bedrock by ice age floods.  It's kind of brown, but many pretty different shades of brown, with the occasional farmers field starting to come up green.

Once you make it over Lake Roosevelt(on a tiny little 3 car 1 bus, 1 car ferry), things change, and you rapidly climb up into the dry Ponderosa Pine forests I love on the Eastern Slopes of the Cascades. 

One of the things that most impressed me on the drive, other than getting to be in green mountains again, were the number, and size, of dust devils we saw going through farm country.  Were saw at least 7 or 8 BIG ones.  I remeber living in Texas back in the early 80's, and seeing the occasional dust devil...but they were tiny...usually didn't raise up higher than our house...these today though...there were several that easily reached 150 feet into the air, and were 20-30 feet around at the base. 

At one point I even pulled over and made my wife take a picture of one, I was so impressed.  Looking at the picture, it now looks like one of those 'you had to be there moments'....but trust me...it was neat. 

Initial impressions of the cabin are good.  We are staying at a place called Tiffany's Resort, on Curlew Lake.  It's really not fair to call it a cabin...it's more of a rental cottage, or even a house.  There is a decent kitchen, and actually quite a fair amount of plates, pots, and general kitchen tools.  Sometimes, when you stay in a place with a kitchenette, you get like one pot and three spoons...not true here.

The view from the living room ain't quite bad either.

Like sands through an hour glass...

The pages on the calendar, they keep on flipping, and just like that, today is my birthday. 

For those of you too curious to resist knowing, I am 37 today, a fact that stuns people who haven't known me long.  The grey in my once red facial hair is misleading.

Birthdays, like New Years, are a time for reflection and evaluation for me:  Are things better/worse than they were a year ago at this time. 

This year, the answer is clearly better.  A year ago, I had been at my new job about 8 months, and on a daily basis, I was fairly certain leaving the Shipyard had been a mistake.  I didn't enjoy my job, didn't have many friends outside of work, and was living in an apartment that we didn't like very much, but it was convenient.  Our house in Belfair was on the market, with no sign of selling.

Now?  Well, after 20 months on the job, my doubts are down to once about every 2 weeks.  I still really don't enjoy the job, but that's more me than the job.  I am increasingly sure that I am not cut out to be a manager type.  This was creeping into my mind even back in the Shipyard...I was getting tired of being responsible for other people.  I miss being the best ME I can be being enough.  In December, one of our planners(procedure writer/engineer lite) is retiring, and I am holding out hope I can slide into his job.  Pay is about equal, but it is a sideways/dead end career path.  It's a staff type position with no direct reporting employees, where I can just work hard, and feel good about myself. 

We are out of the apartment, and in a rental house.  Now that we have been here two months, I have noticed a bunch of little things that make me glad we are renting and not buying, but it is 900% better than the apartment.  We can be satisfied in this house for at least two years.  Our house in Belfair is moving towards it's scheduled closing at the beginning of July...in fact, we got our package of paperwork to fill out from the title company yesterday, so, once that boat anchor is gone...things should be going pretty good.

For my birthday today, I am doing something I never would have gotten to do in the Shipyard, which drives home why my doubts about this job are gradually decreasing: I'm taking not just today off, but also Friday and Monday.  This afternoon, we are loading up the car, and heading to the Republic/Lake Curlew area of Washington(North Central, about 8 miles from the border with Canada).  We are renting a cabin/cottage on the lake up there for three nights.  While there, we will do some fossil hunting, and probably some fishing, and some research. There is a lot of land for sale up there...and when our house does sell, at some point we may decide we are happy enough renting, that instead of buying a new house, we may buy some vacation/retreat type property. 

Either way, it's shaping up to be an outstanding birthday, and weekend. 


Well, it's got a trigger...

I bought a new toy this weekend...not a gun, but a weed-wacker for my yard.  I've been borrowing a friends lawn mower since moving in, but I haven't been getting around the edges.  Now that some of the grass has made it above me knees, I finally broke down, and did some shopping.

I ended up deciding to go with a cordless Black and Decker model.  One of my friends tried to talk me out of, saying he had never had good results from a battery powered model, but I'm smarter than he is, so I took a chance on it anyway.

For only having used it one time so far, initially, I am pleased with it.  The box came with two batteries for the trimmer, and I made sure to FULLY charge them both before firing it up.  It turns I didn't need the 2nd one...I was able to get through the full permiter on the one battery, which my buddy tried to tell me would never happen.

It's not fancy.  You can't swap out the thread for a different types of heads, and power wise...it didn't like it when I plopped it down right in the middle of some thick stuff...you had to work your way in from the side. 

But for what I wanted...it's going to get the job done. 


Logistics Fail!

Despite a weekend back in April when it was 85 degrees, yesterday was out first 'Hot' day(hot in the Tri-cities being over 90, as opposed to the 75 I used to consider hot in the Puget Sound area.  Today was even hotter, with the anticipated high being around 95.

I'm not a hot weather kind of guy, and neither are my kids.  Being born and raised in Western Washington does not prepare one for a summer of hot weather.  Unlike my girls, I don't have that excuse...I'm just fat and hairy. 

Out of sheer thoughtfulness for my girls, I thought I would pick up some Otter Pops on the way home.  My plan ran into a snag though, when the nice lady at Safeway told me that had already sold out of Otter Pops! 

The horror!  Talk about being 3 meals away from a revolutions...not even 48 hours into a heat wave, and not an Otter Pop to be found.

The kids will just have to suffer through with ice cream sandwich's instead...


That wouldn't have happened at Target...

A guy trying to buy some mulch at Walmart got a little more than he bargained for when he got bit on the hand by a rattlesnake

I've never been to Clarkston...it's about two hours from here over on the Washington-Idaho border.  I can't imagine their Walmart is much different from the Walmart in Kennewick or Richland though...and I wouldn't have been surprised to here that this story had happened here in the Tri-Cities.  South-East Washington in lousy with Rattlesnakes.  The animal control folks out on site at Hanford take care of 4 or 5 each summer. 

What really made my day in this story wasn't that the guy got bit, because getting bit on the hand by a rattlesnake can't be pleasant...it's that the guy gets to admit he was at Walmart buying mulch for his marijuana plants! 

God Bless the Pacific North West...


I can't see the difference, but I'm willing to look harder...

As a father of two daughters, who used to be somewhat athletically minded, I am on the lookout for sports I think my daughters would enjoy.  I have tried to talk them into soccer, and soft ball, but so far they haven't shown much interest in organized sports.  My older one likes her 'Girls on the Run', but my younger one really doesn't have the patience to play anything requiring more coordination than Calvinball. 

I had already dismissed the Lingerie Football League as a valid choice(well, they are only 9 and 6), but, hey...Bikini Hockey, that's entirely different! 

At least that's what the founder of the league would have us believe...

Oh, luckily I have about 8 years to see if it is going to catch on before I even need to worry about my oldest daughter wearing a bikini. My wife and I have already laid down that law...nothing more revealing than a tank top and boy shorts until she is 18...

That's the kind of rule you have no trouble backing your wife on when you think about what kind of guy you used to be...

Being ready at home

Scary story out of Tacoma this week about another one of those frightening bold 'home invasion' type robberies.

In home invasion, Tacoma pair experience three hours of terror

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/05/11/2140613/in-home-invasion-tacoma-pair-experience.html#storylink=omni_popular#storylink=cpy

That's a heck of a way to spend your Thursday evening...being made to sit on the stairs with a gun in your mouth, while a couple of punks take the rings off your fingers, and rip the necklaces from around your throat.

I know some people who claim they are always armed...that they carry even around the house. 

I don't.  Not to fill you in too graphically, but as summer approaches, and things warm up in the house, most evenings will find me clothed in a way which doesn't promote having a gun on me...light pull up gym shorts, and a t-shirt.  That's not exactly load bearing equipment, so, if someone was to break through the sliding window in the back of the house, I wouldn't really have much close at hand.

My wife and I have talked about the wisdom of stashing some 'room guns' around the house.  Go pick up three or four additional quick action lock boxes, and bolt them into cabinets in the kitchen, and living room closet, maybe even the bathroom.  It certainly isn't as 'tactical' as always carrying, but it might give me a chance in a situation like this.

Once again...I'm not Jason Bourne.  Whether the gun is on my person or not, if three guys break down my front door with no warning, and are in my living room with hands on the triggers, I'm not going to try to outdraw them.  Maybe though, if it's only two guys, and they get careless, you can get to a gun...you've got a chance. 

Gosh, I have to say it beats sitting on the stairs for 3 hours, constantly worried if at the end, these guys are going to decide you have seen 'too much'.  I mean...you have to think they only reason these folks are still alive is because the criminals made a conscious decision to let them live, knowing that the police aren't going to work quite as hard to crack a robbery, and they would be to try to solve a double homicide. 

I don't know about you, but I would rather take my chance on recovering my S&W out of the kitchen cabinet, than counting on the criminals to be that 'forward thinking'.


I've got an excuse now!

The last few nights around here have been clear and chilly, beating or matching record lows.  Heck not just chilly, below freezing, with some mid-May frost on the truck windows.  Chances are if it's forming on my truck windows, it's forming on the plants in my garden...which means I have an Official Excuse for the sorry state of my garden! 

That Official Excuse will be perfectly fine until someone points out how my zucchini and acorn squash were dead before it got cold.  Heck...they were DOA, and it has to be the roots, like I thought it was.  Like I said before...as long as I'm learning lessons, I'm not wasting my time.  I might be failing, but I'm not waisting my time.

I'm also helping to reinforce my wife's opinion that she made the right decision by buying starter plants for her herbs...and, her decision to not let us sell everything and go try to be farmers in The American Redoubt(as Rawles would call it).  The Tri-cities, where we live, is already on the border of that territory, but when I run off hunting to the Blue Mountains, or the Palouse around Pullman, or Colfax, I'm in the heart of it.

Now, I don't share ALL of the same opinions as Mr. Rawles(he's much more religiously minded than I am), but that doesn't mean I wouldn't mind a 10-20 acre farm surrounded by folks who would MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS.  Occasionally, on a hunting/scouting trip I will spot a suitable looking property.  When I get home, I'm always sure to only show my wife the ones with 'cute little farmhouses' on them, vs. the ones with broke down single-wides.  I do have a little tact.

I'll try to plant the bug in her ear that while I was driving through town, I also saw a sign that the local 'Tiny Medical Clinic' was hiring LPN's.   The idea then would be that she might be able to make enough cash for us to live on, while I get the garden, and rabbits and goats squared away enough for us to approach self-sufficiency. 

I think I'll wait until we actually eat a pepper out of the garden before I propose that idea again...



Didn't even have to go looking far for this horrible story.  It's out of Moses Lake, little more than an hour up the road.

Boy, 2, weighing less than 10 pounds found in Moses Lake

I can't get my mind around it.  My wife had a little different estimate than the article...she said a two year old should weigh about 35-40 pounds, slightly less than the article quoted, but...oh, does it really matter?  I know friends who have had babies that weighed 10 pounds...the only way that this child could be that light is if some sick bastard was trying to reenact the 'Sloth' scene from 7.

When I first read that the police had made no arrests yet, and had even let the parents go to the hospital with the child....I saw red.  How hard is it to figure out that if you show up at a house where a 2 year old weighs 10 pounds, SOMEONE needs to be arrested?  The Grant County officials are asking for patience, and the spokesman is right...it does take time.

If things go wrong, and they can't save this little boy...someone needs to pay, and the only coin I would be willing to accept is blood.  There are times I'm so tired of our wishy-washy society.  Starving a 2-year old to death isn't neglect...it's murder, and should be treated as such. 

I'm not known to be the praying type, but I'll make an exception tonight. 

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2012/05/11/1937177/boy-2-weighing-less-than-10-pounds.html#storylink=cpy

Maybe you got a wee bit greedy...

There was a story in the Seattle Times this morning about an ex-State Patrol Lieutenant who is facing some charges for potentially padding his paychecks with a little bit of extra overtime.

Ex-trooper charged with official misconduct for overtime pay

First off...sometimes, when you are going to be a heinous violator, you need to use some common sense.  If you are going to lie about how much OT you are working, you might want to think about showing a little discretion, and not making yourself the HIGHEST PAID State Trooper by a margin of OVER $20,000.  That kind of attracts some unwanted attention.

I'm not picking on the State Patrol here.  This kind of thing happens EVERYWHERE.  The Hanford site where I work has been dealing with a pretty bad case of this that came to light a few years ago(predating my time, luckily), resulting in jail time for several folks.  Rest assured, it happening at all levels of Government, and it's been happening for EVER.

I also think you are going to start hearing about it a lot more.  As budgets continue to tighten up, auditors are going to be going over expenditures with a fine tooth comb, and you're going to have to a lot more employees having to justify what's written on their time cards. 

It's a good time to be on the up and up. 


But you said you had nothing else to say!!!!

I know...earlier I said I had nothing to really say about The Avengers other than it was really, really good, and Scarlet's hair was shorter than in the last movie.  Following a discussion at work today with one of my buddies, I realized that I did have a little more to say though.

My buddy has two sons that are way into baseball and football, with the end result being that he doesn't have a lot of free time for watching movies, so he hasn't seen all The Avengers lead-in movies.  He wanted to know if he should even bother seeing The Avengers if he hadn't seen Thor and Captain America, or Iron Man 2 first. 

The initial knee-jerk reaction was the correct one...OF COURSE, because it was an awesome movie!  Thinking about it some more, I kind of clarified things for him a bit.  While I feel that Avengers would still be a highly entertaining movie with no prior exposure, I did have to concede that you would get more out of it having seen Thor, Captain America, and the two Iron Man movies.

For instance, if you hadn't seen the two Iron Man flicks, you might not get much out of the Pepper Potts character played by Gwyneth Paltrow.  Heck...I have seen them and all I really got out of her character was that they put her in daisy dukes because her legs are her best feature.   Seeing Thor will also let you enjoy the Loki/Thor dynamic some more. 

Heck...why are we even talking about this...why haven't people just seen those other movies yet?  Losers with real lives.  If you haven't seen the lead in movies, and you don't have time to watch all of them, Captain America probably has the least cross over info.  We all know who Captain America is, and his back story...and none of the other folks from his movie other than Nick Fury made the jump into Avengers.

While we are focused on negatives, the only other really negative I have is the character of Hawkeye...he just kind of felt like a throw-away...no real effort was made to flesh him out like they did with Black Widow(of course, she has the flesh to be worth fleshing out, although I'm sure females would enjoy looking at Jeremy Renner as much as I enjoy looking at Scarlett Johansson). 

And stare at her I did.  Not just because she is on My List, but also because of something I read over on someone's blog(and for the life of my I can't find the original post) but it had something to do with a master assassin/kick ass secret agent facing the end of the world with a Glock 26 in a tactical thigh rig.  It was kind of an interesting choice...you would think if she was going to pick a glock, it would be something she could stock with 33 round magazines...  


This evening, my wife made The Ultimate Sacrifice, staying home with the kids so I could run off on my own to see The Avengers.  She liked Iron Man, and Captain America, and Thor, so I thought she would pout more over me running off alone, but, she seemed okay with it. 

There isn't much to say about the movie...it was really, really good.  I would say it was better than Chronicle, but not quite as good as The Dark Knight.  Plenty of explosions, and more than enough Joss Whedon moments to go around.  The only real thing I have to say negative about The Avengers is that Scarlett Johansson had shorter red hair than she had in Iron Man 2. 

One good thing about going to see one of THE big movies of the summer is that you get all the good previews before it. 

The Avengers did not disappoint. 

'Prometheus' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' were already high on my list of movies to see later in the summer, and the full length big screen trailers cemented them as the two other movies that I MUST see this summer. 

The next tier of movies would be Pixar's newest offering 'Brave' and The Amazing Spiderman.  Do I think we needed a Spider Man reboot already?  Not really...but this one looks to be well made, and Emma Stone is a 685% upgrade over Kirsten Dunst.  As for 'Brave'...a Scottish Heroine with big early 90's Reba hair?  I'm sure I'll use my kids as an excuse to see this one.

There were two movies, 'The Dictator' and 'Frankenweenie' that immediately went on my 'no way I'm paying $10 to see that' list.  'Frankenweenie' looked interesting, just not movie theater interesting.

Finally, there was the preview that left me conflicted...'Battleship'.  Obviously, the movie has nothing to do with the game, and it's also facing the hard reality that we haven't had a commissioned battleship in the fleet since the 1990's...but...it does have Liam Neeson it(does 'Taken' earn him any kind of 'benefit of the doubt?).  It also looks a whole lot like Transformers...and I dug the heck out of all three of those movies.

Still not sure if it will lure me into the theater though.  I'm not sure which worries me more...the idea that I will waste $20 on tickets and grub, and hate it...or that I will like it, which would obviously say bad things about my mentality/maturity.


Maybe there are still messages to be sent...

I usually pay little attention to out of state politics on less than the national level, but as warmly as some of the folks in Indiana speak of Senator Lugar, I decided to check in this evening and see if he got his just deserts...and he did, being defeated today in the primary by Richard Mourdock..

The question hangs out there about whether this is a victory/show of strength for the Tea Party or just a flat out loss for Lugar.  Either way, it shows that there are still some places were being a RINO for decades won't go noticed.

Too bad it took decades. 

Gonna get kicked out...

Well, The Avengers had the biggest movie opening EVER this weekend(not adjusted for inflation or the insane price of 3D tickets), taking in over $200 Million domestically.

And I didn't go see it.  I'm quite afraid that that means I should expect a registered letter to be delivered today revoking my geek card. 

I wonder if they will stay my sentence if I break out the dice and roll up a few D&D characters today, and promise to see it this week.  By all accounts, it is everything everyone hoped it would be...


I'm not lazy, I'm experimenting...

Percentage wise, the portions of my adult life when I have lived in a house where I cared about maintaining a lawn was quite small.  Our house in Belfair had a decent sized lot, but a very small lawn.  I started with an old fashioned 'reel style' mower, and eventually upgraded to an electric mower when I got tired of having to mow every 3 or 4 days. 

The electric mower didn't have bag collection...it was self-mulching.  I'm not sure if it did anything for the yard...mowing was about the only thing I did, and I just mowed whatever grew, whether it was grass, or weeds, or even moss.

Now, I've been borrowing my friend until I decide to buy a new mower of my own.  I'm using his mower as an attempt to find out what does make for a better lawn...collecting the trimmings, or letting them lay there, as self-mulching.  Half the yard I use the bag, the other half I don't.

At least, that's my justification for not bothering to empty the bag when I'm only half done doing the back yard. 

In related news, at just over 1/3rd of an acre, I think this yard is borderline big enough for a riding mower....IF I knew I was going to be here for like 20, 30 years.


Helping Hurts.

One of my best friends here in the Tri-cities had a house built about three years ago, and in an attempt to save a little bit of up-front money, he didn't have the builder lay in a back yard.  Since then, he has frequently been on the verge of laying in some sod to complete the backyard. 

With a visit from his in-laws pending over Mothers Day weekend, he completed installing his underground sprinklers this week, and had 5 pallets of sod delivered to his house yesterday.  Since I've been borrowing his lawn-lower on and off for the last month, it only felt right to go help him lay his sod.

If he had had the pallets of sod dropped off IN his back yard, instead of in his drive-way, or rented a four-wheel drive forklift to move the pallets into his back yard one at a time, things would not have been tough at all.  By any measure, the hardest part of the job physically was loading 6 or 7 pieces of sod at  a time in to wheel-barrows to move it into the back yard. 

It was nice to be at his house though, meaning my 'no beer' resolution was not in effect.  After moving sod for over 2 hours, a cold Coors Light went down real easy. 

Almost as easy was the 2nd one.  Didn't have a 3rd one...had to save some space for water and Tylenol...my back was twitching a bit by the time we were done. 


Oh Boy...

Like most children(yup, even the geeky white ones) that 'came of age' in the 1980's, I actually owned two rap/hip-hop records(well, cassettes): Raising Hell, by Run-D.M.C. and Licensed to Ill by The Beastie Boys.  Of the two, I probably liked Raising Hell a little better, while thinking The Beastie Boys were a little 'naughtier'.  I didn't really follow either band, instead jumping on the Garth Brooks bandwagon(The Beastie Boys music got kind of strange for my taste'.  So, when I heard that Adam Yauch, MCA of The Beastie Boys, died yesterday, it didn't so much hit me as a loss to the music industry, as a sucker punch to the memories of teen-age years, and another one of those 'thudding footsteps of my approaching mortality'.

Whitney Houston, MCA, and Junior Seau are not old people.  Now, with the concession that not one of them lived what one might call a 'safe lifestyle' of working, snuggling with their family on the couch, and blogging, they are folks of my generation.  This is different from Roy Orbison and George Harrison passing away. 

In a related note about 'high risk' lifestyles, we have some friends that made the trip over from the west-side last night(through snow in the passes) so today we have a baby-sitter so we can go do what all grown-ups do in the Columbia Valley now, some wine-tasting.  Our sitter is lined up for the afternoon time frame, so we can be safely back inside before all the crazies and amateur start getting their margarita's and tequila on 'celebrating' Cinco De Mayo.

Any excuse for a party...


One less goblin...

Someone learned that window shopping(especially through a window you just broke) at 2:30 in the morning is a good way to end up ventilated.

Walla Walla store owner shoots intruder

Not a HUGE amount of detail in the story, but the local radios had a little more to say, particuarly that the police we considering it a self-defence shooting for the current time, and that the cooling corpse had several 'gang related' tattoos.  Not that that automatically makes a guy guilty, but...it is an indicator that the store owner shouldn't have too many regrets. 


Getting caught up.

Apologies to the faithful few...I have not been as prolific this week as I usually would.  While I had an enjoyable time last weekend visiting my mom and some friends, it meant NOTHING got done around the house, which is a bigger deal when renting a house than it is while renting an apartment. 

Monday was spent at work, and catching up on laundry, and mowing the lawn. 

Tuesday, as soon as I got home, I started working in the yard.  My goal was to get my vegetables in the ground.  My seedlings were looking ready to go, and we also got some tomato and pepper starts from a friend whose daughter's band was raising money with  a plant sale.  

I have no idea how they are going to do...all I can really do it cross my fingers, and take notes of things I can do differently.   One thing I certainly took note of is that the roots on the things I started looked very shallow and not developed as much as I thought they would be.  The possible causes for that could be that either not putting the seeds deep enough, or that I'm not soaking the plants enough when I water them.  That is probably true...I do small watering's each day instead of a thorough soaking. 

My Wednesday was taken up by having to work some OT Wednesday night, so I just haven't had a lot of free time this week to read enough articles to build up a good rage.

It's almost the weekend now though.  I have to work this Friday, and then Friday night we have two friends coming over from Bremerton this weekend.  Looking forward to that, and an easy day at work Friday.


A look from the other side...

My wife has become quite infatuated with British television shows due to netflix.  I have enjoyed Dr. Who and Torchwood, but don't share her obsession with Period Drama, so I only half pay attention when she is watching things like The Grand and Downton Abbey.

Recently she started watching a BBC show of more recent vintage, called MI-5, which is an espionage, suspense show focusing on domestic counterintelligence/anti-terrorist operations.  I pay slightly more attention to this show, but not to the point where I tell her she can't watch it without me, like I did with Dr. Who. 

One thing that has really caught my eye over the course of the last dozen or so episodes is how America is portrayed.  For most of the 5th and 6th seasons(or series as the British call them) America, and also Israel, have been, if not The BAD GUYS, at least the clear cut protagonist. 

America is looking for an excuse to go invade Iran SOOOOOO bad, that we secretly give them nuclear weapons technology. 

Israel wants an excuse to go war with them soooooooo bad that they send in Mossad Agents disguised as Arab Terrorists to blow up a Saudi trade delegation. 

Kind of shocking to see US as the bad guys.  I'm not saying EVERY British citizen sees us the bad guys, but there must be a fair percentage of them ready to believe we are shoot first, ask questions later cowboys wanting to go to war just to earn a dime for them to feel safe portraying us that way on a pretty successful TV series. 

Think we may have missed a solution...

Last week there was a story in the Tri-City Herald about how a number of local farmers are experiencing manpower shortages, causing them to leave a lot of asparagus unharvested. 

Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated story, unemployment rates remain above 8% nationally, with right around 200,000 people in Washington State collecting unemployment benefits.

No one thought to put these two numbers together, and arrive at some decision?  Like, maybe it's offensive that 200,000 people are recieving tax-payer money to do NOTHING while several hundred acres worth of asparagus are allowed to bloom and rot? 

Another way to look at this is 'wow, look how successfull our new border policies' are.  This, of course, is one of the unintended consequences of cracking down on folks coming across the border illegally.  Not that I am saying we need to open it up...but I'll bet these farmers would be willing to turn a blind eye to border security if it meant getting their crops out of the field easier and cheaper.