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


Patience is a virtue...

One of the nice things about when my wife makes her various jams is that there is usually a partial jar left at the end that isn't worth canning.  That means we throw it in the fridge for a bit, and within a few hours(or minutes) we get to test what the finished product tastes like.  That's very cool because not only do you get some instant gratification, but it has you looking forward to breaking one of those other jars open. 

On the other end of the 'gratification spectrum' are the pickles I have been making out our zucchini.  According to the directions for making them, you are supposed to wait
4-6 WEEKS for best flavor results. 

That's a month and a half!!!!!!!  It also means I have made 3 batches so far without being able to test the original batch yet.  What if I don't like pickled zucchini? 

Check back here in Mid to Late August for a potential Zucchini Pickle giveaway! 

Fighting back

Two 'feel good' stories out of Washington State yesterday.  In the first, a homeowner came home shortly after noon yesterday to find two people inside his house.  It sounds like he attempted to hold the folks at gun point while he called 911.  The male suspect decided to try his luck 'rushing' the homeowner, and recieved several 'small caliber' rounds for his trouble.  The suspect was able to leave the house, but eventually needed to call 911 for himself due to several 'small caliber' holes in the stomach and groin area.

The second story illustrates the need to fight back by any means.  A lady was out for a walk in the Shelton, Washington area Saturday, when a man pulled up and tried to get her into his pick-up truck.  Instead of going along with him, the woman fought back, taking a nice bite out of his hand.  After getting away, she was able to flag down a deputy, and eventually, a pick-up truck was stopped, and a man with a bleeding hand was arrested.

Good for her.  The story doesn't give her name, but I wish it did so I could sing her praises from the mountain top.  That's how I hope I am raising my daughters(well, I hope they would have a gun, knife, or pepper spray(or all 3))....but if all you have available is your nails or your teeth...USE THEM.  If you end up in that truck...well, the odds start looking not so good.  At least mark the guy up for easier identification later.

Kind of hard to explain away someone's dental impression in your hand...


Lost it.

I had it.  I swear it was floating around in my head all day...an idea for a post. 

Then I got home and had to get dinner going(fried matzoh.)

Then I had to harvest today's zucchini and cherry tomato haul(next year, 2 or 3 cherry tomato plants...not 6).  While doing that our next door neighbor gave me a bag with about 5 pounds each of potatoes and onions from his garden(that's all he plants).  I offered to give him some zucchini or tomatoes, but he begged off after looking at my garden.

Then I had to mow the lawn.  The longer I am in this house, the more I think the 'decorative rock with a few raised beds' landscape idea is stellar.

Then I had to take a shower after mowing the lawn. 

Then I had to make myself feel better by thumping on a couple of 12 year olds, since it's kids week on Jeopardy.

And somewhere along the way...I lost my post idea. 

Stay tuned.   

Guide 10 Adventure Kit

Moral is big at the company I work for.  So big in fact that there is money set aside in the budget to make sure that moral stays high.  Some of it goes to paying for a nice summer picnic and a nice winter party, and some of it is usually ear marked to buy some type of personal item to remind folks what a cool company they work for, like a jacket or a duffel bag and hat with the company's logo on them. 

This has been going on for a while, and for each different contractor that has come through the Hanford site.  The end result is that some folks have 10-15 jackets, back packs, hats and duffel bags.  Last year my boss realized that, and instead of a jacket recommended that we order some nice flashlights for everyone in our group.  That went over pretty well, and many folks working for other groups were jealous because their 7th jacket wasn't as cool as our Surefires. 

Rolling forward to this year, we decided to keep a good thing going, and help out the environment at the same time, by ordering the Guide 10 Adventure Kit, from Goal Zero

It's a neat little kit. When folded up, the solar panel's about the same overall length and width as a hardback book.  It's not as thick or as heavy though. When unfolded...well, it's like 3 hardback books, and it has many useful little strings on it for tying it up at the best sun collecting angle. 

So, that's the Nomad 7 Solar Panel.  The other part of the 'Guide 10 Adventure Kit' is the Guide 10 Battery Pack, which greatly enhances the flexibility of the system.  The Nomad 7 has a few different outlet's out it...you can use it to charge either a USB powered item, a 12V powered item, or the Guide 10.  According to all the literature, the most effective way to charge things is to use the Nomad to charge the Guide 10, and then use the Guide 10 to charge what needs charging.  The Guide 10 has a more regulated output, and can actually charge full size tablets and not just smart phones. 

Yesterday, I got my first opportunity to try it out.  I placed the Nomad 7 out in the back yard for about 3 hours, during which time it fully charged the the Guide 10.  It might have only taken 2 hours...but 3 is how long I left it out there.  I then brought the Guide 10 in the house, and over the next 2 hours it charged my Samsung phone from 50% to 100%, and then my wife's Droid from 70% to 100%. 

I know it's just the first time using it, but I'm pretty happy so far. 


Fruit Omelets!

Well, not really fruit omelets, but since I couldn't fold my crepes into fancy shapes, I just folded them in half.

It didn't seem to effect the taste.

Why crepes for breakfast?  Well, our local food co-op has a crepery set up on Wednesdays...and I keep seeing it advertised, but I haven't been able to get in there, so I had to seize the bull by the horns and crank some out at home.

Never really made crepes before.  I've made really watered down pancakes, but I'm not sure that's the same.  In fact, after this morning, I know it's not the same.  I used one of my favorite recipe websites, foodgawker to find a recipe that looked easy.  I followed it as exactly as I could, down to following their recommendation to whisk the wet ingredients together by hand, than add them into a blender with the flour to ensure they are 'well mixed.' 

A double batch made about 14 8-inch crepes.  After breakfast, there was enough batter to make 4 extras, which I layered between parchment paper and put in the freezer.

Making crepes was also an excuse to try another product that my wife had bought a while ago...instant powdered desert topping:

I believe she bought it from Wal-mart.  Add a cup of 'ice cold' water to a cup of powder, and whisk away.

The final product was remarkably like Cool-Whip, and went really good on the crepes.  I highly recommend it as a 'shelf stable' product to have available when you need whipped topping.  There are also recipes on the can to add cocoa powder to make it like chocolate mousse, 

Despite its shelf stable nature, I can't really say you should load in a huge supply for long-term survival purposes.  It takes A LOT of whipping to bring it together properly...like, 5 minutes in in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I can't imagine trying to bring it together with a hand whisk while the Golden Horde is breathing down your neck. 

Finally, I also got to open up two jars of my wife's jam to fill the crepes with...some of her sweet cherry jam and then some Pinapple Vanilla jam.  Both of them were outstanding, with the Pinapple Vanilla so sweet it almost made your teeth ache.  I'm not sure it's the type of jam that will work on bread with peanut butter, but I know that a few spoonfulls of it an old shoe would make one heck of a desert...


It's not Will Smith's fault...

Not much on TV right now worth watching, so I surrendered the remote to my wife.  She promptly settled on I Am Legend, with Will Smith.  Talk about 2/3rds of a good movie, and one fine acting job, ruined by my own unrealistic expectations...

My wife likes the movie...she is fine with the changes that happened between the short story and the movie.  Obviously, I am not.

It's my opinion that the original story(novella?) is perhaps the finest example of vampire fiction out there.  Better than Salem's Lot, and if not better than Dracula, at least it is easier to read and get into.  It is close to perfection...and the only way I would have been satisfied with a movie was a scene for scene re-creation.

I was totally fine with most of the minor changes in the first part of the movie, and no one could have done a better job than Will Smith.  Hard to imagine the young man from Fresh Prince of Belair is the same actor from 'Ali' and 'I Am Legend'.

The end though...the changes to the end of the movie...they hurt my heart.  I mean...without the ending from Matheson's story, the title doesn't even make sense!!!!!!  At least the people who made the first two movies(The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man) knew this, and changed the name from the story. 

It's kind of like Starship Troopers that way...a movie that might have been entertaining on it's own, but by trying to link itself to one of the all-time best pieces of written fiction, it has fallen short. 

You make a fair point.

As we harvested our 32nd and 33rd zucchini off our plants yesterday, my wife asked my what would appear to be a really good question:

'With the way that zucchini grow, how are there starving people in the world?  I mean, you aren't even that good of a farmer, and we are getting lots of zucchini out of a 3' X 6' space.'

Now, did she really need to add in the second part, even if it is true...no.  Plus, I'm sure she said it in a sweeter manner than I typed it, and used the term 'we' and not 'you'.  It's a valid point though.  I put two zucchini plants in two mounds, and three in the other, so my production isn't even at it's maximum as the plants fight for space.  This also isn't counting the 4 or 5 baby zucchini that I have had to toss because ant's got into a little knick on them. 

I mean, if everyone could just grow some nutmeg and cinammon, we could feed all the worlds hungry with zucchini bread!

Happy Ending

I can't find that I originally covered this story...but that's okay, because it has a happy ending, and is worth covering now.

Back in January, a homeowner was taking a mid-day nap when he heard a window break in his kitchen.  Upon investigation, he found someone crawling in the kitchen window with a hammer in his hand.  A shot was fired from his .38 revolver, and when it became clear that the victim was no longer a threat, he called 911 to report the break-in. 

It was officially announced today that the shooting was justifiable self-defence.  That feels like a LONG time to twist in the wind...over 6 months.  I guess there was a little sticking point over the fact the homeowner originally said he fired 1 shot, but the would-be burgler died of multiple gunshot wounds. 

Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe sums it up pretty well:

"Burglaries are a dangerous business,"

Amen.  And it's our job to keep them that way.


More proof we need a 'You are a dumbass' criminal charge.

Must control 'fist of death'....it's not my computers fault that there are stupid people in the world...

Maryland police may have thwarted shooting

First off...good on the police and the supervisor at the company responding to this.  Even if there is only a 1 in 1000 chance that this guy was going to follow through on what he was saying, you HAVE to respond.  I'm just curious if this would have gotten as timely of a response 10 days ago...

Anyway...yeah...he's a dumbass.  How is that dumbasses are able to afford that many more guns than me?  I'm sure they can shoehorn his actions into some kind of assault charges, but wouldn't be more appropriate if they could charge him with being a Stupid Piece of Crap, confiscate his guns, and give them too me?

Somewhat related to this is a reminder that it should go without saying, but...this isn't the time you want to be getting too out of bounds on the rants on your blog.  Remember TJIC...and that was right after another emotionally charged shooting.  If you're lucky, they'll step in politely and take your guns away.  If you aren't lucky...well...you can look forward to buying a new front door and trying to get the flash-bang stains out of your carpet. 

An epidemic that must be stopped!

With EVERY other one of the world's problems solved, the police are finally getting to tackle important issues...like underage tattoos!

Everett man accused of giving tattoo to girl, 15

Now...to clear this up, I'm really not trying to run down the police on this one. I'm sure that the mom who dialed 911 because her rebelious perfectly normal 15 year old daughter got a tattoo is a cast iron bitch who just wouldn't let this go.  In the end, you have to give the tax payers what they want. 

I'm sure everyone in the Snohomish County Sherrif's/Prosecutor's Office would much rather be working on REAL crime than running down a 18 year old who was just trying to give a young girl what she wanted.  Because she is underage, there are no pictures of the 15-year old to be found, but I would be willing to guess she's not unattractive, which explains WHY the 18-year old young man was dumb enough to do this.  I mean...they aren't even sure he's a licensed tattoo artist! 

In this case, the mom should be taken out behind the woodshed to have the Real World explained to her. 

As for the case in Centralia, with the 13-year old boy who got the dragon tattoo...good for him.  Good on him for beating leukemia, and double good on him for not ratting out who gave him his celebratory tattoo. 


I don't have a problem!!!

At least, I don't think I do.  I just can't resist a deal on something that is useful AND has an unlimited shelf life.

Case in point...Safeway is changing the size of their 'ethnic foods' area, meaning a lot of stuff is on sale.  Now, while Gefilte fish might be a shelf-stable form of protein, that not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about Shabbos Candles on sale 50% off...again!!!!

Do I really need more candles?  Probably not...but you tell me when candles are going to go bad? 

Oh that's right...NEVER. 

This time around, instead of 72 candles in a $6 box, they are smaller 12 packs for 50% of $1.70(85 cents) which comes out to slightly more than 7 cents a candle.  That's a really, really REALLY good price compared to some boxes of 'survival candles' you can find at the store.  Even if those sterno candles do burn twice as long, I can burn like 18 of the Shabbos Candles for the price of 1 sterno candle. 

Heck...I might even have enough candles now to reenact one of those romantic bedroom scenes from a Hollywood movie where there are like 150 candles going in a bedroom. 


No, no, no...'Treason' is not spelt 'arson'.

Way back in May, a fire broke out in the USS Miami, sitting in drydock in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  The fire burned for 12 hours, causing what has been estimated to be $400 MILLION worth of damages to the forward half of the ship.  Early investigations blamed the fire on hot material being sucked into a vacuum cleaner.  Now however, blame for the fire is being layed at the feet of one Casey James Fury, Shipyard Bubba.

The reason for starting the fires?   Anxiety, leading to a desire to leave work early.  I do understand...when I worked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, there many times I thought setting a nuclear submarine on fire was easier than filling out a leave request slip.  I mean...you had to get it routed and EVERYTHING.  Setting a fire with the hope of getting your work for the afternoon cancelled is much more straight forward. 

Adding to my anger is the obvious 'I wasn't in my right mind' ploy, something that is increasingly pissing me off after a look at the chucklehead in Colorado.  I'm so tired of people using mental illness to get out of serious jail time.  'Everything was blurry and his memory was impacted due to his anxiety and medication'  Hmmm....sounds like he could be a threat to repeat at any time....better put him in a hole in the ground now. 

It's not really in the papers yet, but through my 'still barely connected' rumor mill, I'm hearing based on the damage to the Miami, as well as the age of the boat, it might never get fixed.  The Navy is asking for money, but...I just don't see it happening. Trying to come up with $400 Million extra in the budget at this point is gonna be tough.

Reading through Article III, Section 3 of The Constitution, I'm not sure you could get the guy on full blown Treason...but I KNOW you have to be able to get him on something more than 'ARSON'.  It's possible he single-handedly has removed a Nuclear Submarine from active service.  He deserves to hang by the neck until he is dead, dead, dead.


The Silver Sage

When exposed to music as a kid, you can react to one of two ways: reject what your parents listen to, or embrace it.  Because my parents listened to good music, I embraced it: The Beatles, The Eagles, Neil Diamond and The Silver Sage...Kenny Rogers. 

I think I just made that name up, but it feels kind of appropriate.  I can't think of anyone that has been silver longer than Kenny Rogers, and it has always looked appropriate.  My wife, giving the female opinion, has always said it would be okay if I came out looking like Kenny Rogers, but it would have to be pre-surgery Kenny, not post surgery Kenny/Joan Rivers hybrid.

picture from www.plasticsurgerystar.com
Can you doubt he is a sage?  If there is a more quotable song than 'The Gambler', I don't know what it is.  Then there are songs that might not be quotable, but are full of wisdom.  'Don't Fall in Love with a Dream', 'You Picked a Fine Time to Leave, Lucille', 'She Believed in Me'...and my favorite Kenny Rogers song of all...Coward of the County, where Tommy convinces the ghost of his father, that 'sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man' before opening a righteous can of whoop ass on the Gatlin boys.

Whatever the plastic surgeon did to his face, they didn't effect his abilty to tell a story, and teach a lesson.  On the way into work today, I heard one of his more recent songs, and I took it as a sign of something I had to do on the way home from work.

It's good advise.  I tell my wife every day that I love her...several times.  It doesn't always have the same impact as stopping at the store and picking up a bouquet of flowers...and they don't need to be roses.  My wife says she likes carnations, which works good for me, because they are cheaper, and actually last quite a while. 

Too bad Dolly Parton didn't write a companion song about back rubs...

No Spring Chicken...

Many moons ago, when I was a much younger and tougher man, wearing a uniform and playing on a submarine, there were many times I had to pull 24-36 hour shifts of wakefulness.  I didn't like it, but there were just times the operational tempo(something broken that needed fixing, drills, drinking binges) didn't let you get to sleep before you had to stand watch again.  On in-port duty days, it wasn't unusual to go from 5AM one morning until the some point the following evening with nothing more than a 1-2 hour nap. 

After a stretch like that, the goal was to try to get an 'equalizer'....a time you hit the rack right after your 'after watch cleanup' and then slept about 10.5 hours until it was time to wake up and stand watch again.

Yesterday, I had to work a graves/days double shift. I gave up trying to sleep at about 6:30 Sunday night, and finally told my wife at about 8:45 Monday night that I was done, done, done.  I was able to get about 9 hours of sleep that way....and it still wasn't enough.

 Oh, there are times I wish I could feel the way I felt at 25 years old again...


Should give them my number...

I'm pretty happy living in the Pacific Northwest.  The fact is that there is no part of the country I would rather live in(althought the Idaho/Western Montana part of the Northwest might be nicer than Eastern Washington).  There isn't a whole lot in the south that makes me jealous...but one of those things is feral pigs, a problem/opportunity we just don't have in the Northwest.

Although, that might be changing:

Campaign urges reporting of feral pig sightings

We have gone through this before in the Northwest, and they really do a good job of getting the word out when a population of pigs is discovered.  I rememeber the 2001 Olympic Pennisula discovery that the article talks about.  It was in all the papers, and local magazines....and all of the were sure to stress how there was no hunting tag required, AND no bag limit. 

I'll have to keep an ear to the ground...I wouldn't mind getting a chance to collect a few 100-150 pounders...


(Not So)Lazy Sunday.

Sunday...the day before most people start their normal work week.  The two extremes of how you can spend that day is either kicking back and doing nothing, as you mentally prepare for the week ahead, or by getting everything done you should have gotten done days ago.  Around here, we are splitting the difference:

The cats were gracious enough to volunteer to cover the whole 'doing nothing' part, while I fired up my lawn mower right at 9:01(I was up earlier than that...I just don't want to piss of the neighbors by mowing at 6:30).  Once the lawn was taken care of, I fired up the AC so I could steam up the kitchen, canning a few pints of Giardiniera, with some of this(home grown green peppers and zucchini) and that(store bought cauliflower, carrots and red/yellow bell peppers). 

You can tell it's homemade, because no jar has the exact same ratio of contents as any other jar. 

Soon, it will be my turn to nap.  Trying to make up production time lost, we are working a graveyard shift at work tonight, and I need to cover it.  I more than slightly hate double shifts.  As a manager, I don't get time and a half, and if things are too busy for me to leave early tomorrow afternoon, it means I will potentially be leaving the house at 10:30ish tonight, and not getting home until 5ish tomorrow afternoon.

Ick, Ick, Ick. 

But, at least I should be coming home to hugs and kisses from my wife!  

Done In.

Today was one of my friends birthday's.  Instead of a party, a group of us got together to take a little float trip down the Yakima River Canyon, between Ellensburg, and well, Yakima. 

Sometimes, my anti-social streak comes through strongly...I almost didn't go on this trip today, just because I'm always frustrated by how tough it is to get things off the ground with a group.  Today was an example of that.  I was the only person starting on this side of the mountains, and the only one not making an overnight camping trip of things.  By the time everyone got tents set up, and we got all the tubes and rafts pumped up, and we dropped a truck off down at the exit point, it was already 2:30.  We were uncertain how long the float would take because we had never started as far up the river as we did today...all we knew is that it was going to take at least 4 hours, meaning we were cutting things close on time.

Too close, since it actually took us about 5.5 hours to float 18 miles, which is a long time to have a cold soggy butt, although truthfully, after the first two hours in 58 degree water, it was pretty numb.  Which was more than I could say for my stomach.

On the way to meet my friends, I had time to kill, which I decided to use by stopping at Claar Cellars in Zillah, a winery tasting room I had never stopped at before.  It's good stuff, and I ended up picking up two bottle of their 2006 Corneauxcopia, a Bordeaux blend. 

None of this is bad.  What was bad was that I then topped off the 11+ wine samples I had had with two very fizzy. very lukewarm beers, while sitting in cold water, under a warm sun, bobbing down a canyon.

I was sick as a dog.  Ick, Ick, Ick. 

Even being sick, I was able to enjoy most of the trip.  The Yakima River Valley is very pretty.  I didn't risk my camera, but, thanks to the internet, I don't need to!

picture from the Yakima County Development Association

Along the way we saw about 10 deer drinking, and another 6-8 big horn sheep walking along the eastern rim of the canyon.  Three layers of SPF 50 sunblock managed to keep me safe and pale.  Things got unexciting in a hurry though, come about 7:15 when the sun ducked behind the canyon walls for the last time.

Brrrr...and I'm glad I'm sleeping at home in my bed instead of a tent tonight like my friends.


Well, 80% isn't bad.

Without my wife and kids to get in the way, and emboldened by the canning lesson my wife gave me last week, I decided the time had come to experiment with the pressure canner I got my wife for Christmas. 

Rather than starting with something simple like veggies, I decided to jump right into soup.  From everything I had read, canning soup isn't tough.  If your soup recipe calls for rice, noodles, or barely, they say to leave that out..it will just aborb all your liquid on the shelf.  Likewise, no eggs or dairy. 

Based on those criteria, I decided to make up a big batch of my Zupppa Tuscana, and just do the last step, which is adding cream.  The soup can either be eaten without the cream, or the cream can be added as it heats up.  The flavor is still good without the cream(1 pound of bacon, two of Italian sausage, 3 pounds of potatoes and 2 bundles of kale...how can it not be good?)...the cream just adds a smooth mouth feel.

Pressure canning is not a difficult process...but it is LONG.  Quarts of soup have to process for 90 minutes.  However, your processing time doesn't start until you get to pressure.  Then once your 90 minutes is up, everything says to let the canner cool naturally.  When all was said and done, there was about 20 minutes to get to pressure, and another 50 to cool, meaning the canning took 3 hours, plus whatever time to make the soup.

The one on the right didn't seal.  I only heard 4 of the satisfying 'punk's' from the kitchen, so prior to going to bed I threw the unsealed on in the fridge.  It will make a good dinner Monday night when the wife and kids come home.  


Not sure you can be ready...

Been doing some thinking about the Colorado shooting...not the impending political fall-out(expect drum mags to become an easy target)...but more the 'what would I have done' side of things.

With the wife and kids out of town, I had thought about trying to catch a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.  It's just as possible that this chucklehead could have busted into a movie theater in Kennewick, Wa as in Aurora, Co. 

So...like Mal and Zoe, would I have been a Big Damn Hero? 

I just don't know.  Anyone who has never HAD to respond to the sound of guns can say for certain how they would respond.  More than once, I saw a highly trained sailor, who had run through HUNDREDS of drills, just to freeze when the some kind of shit really hit the fan. 

That's the first hurdle...the emergency exit door slams open, and then there is noxious smoke, and gunfire.  Except you are in a LOUD movie, so no one recognizes it as gunfire right away.  When folks do recognize it...panic. 

Now...there I am...sitting in my preferred seat right around 1/3rd of the way back, in the middle of the aisle.  Because of my situational awareness, as soon as the panic starts, I know what's going on, and have identified the bad guy.  Since I'm not a small guy, folks are getting out of my way as I move towards the threat, drawing my Kel-tec P3AT...

Yeah...that's a problem...but it's the truth.  In the summer, the Kel-tec is what I'm gonna have on me(oh hell, let's not kid...the winter too.  As long as I hide behind the fact that I can't carry at work to wimp out and keep carrying a gun that is comfortable, and not comforting, it's always gonna be the Kel-tec).  

All is not lost though...since it's dark in the theater, and this guy is distracted by shooting the surging mob, and his muzzle flash, I'm able to close on him, maintaining some cover crawling through junior mints.  My own real world experience tells me I need to get within 25 feet to be confidant of center of mass hit with my Kel-Tec.  Yup...get to within 25 feet with my 7 rounds of .380 against whatever he had(turns out to be two .40 Glocks, a Remington 870, and a S&W AR with a drum mag.  Suicidal...maybe, but he's still distracted, and my Cause is Just, stopping him from shooting another baby out of it's parents hands.  It's makes sense on the balance sheet.

Best case is that in the dark, at 25-30 feet, I miss center of mass and catch him in the bicep or thigh, or knee.  Something that can not just get his attention, but tear a few blood vessels, and maybe rip up some muscle, or crack a bone.  Worst case here is that I actually hit him where I am aiming, and catch his attention by bouncing 2 or 3 90gr Hydra-shoks off his vest.  That would be bad. 

Obviously, part of the solution is not relying on my Kel-tec as my primary carry gun...but heck, even if I was carrying my CZ-75, I'm still aiming COM, unaware of a bullet proof vest...but I can do that from across a movie theater.  I can also keep him pinned down a lot more with 30+ rounds of 9mm than 13 rounds of .380.  

In the end though...things like this aren't why I carry.  It's just not a scenario I have considered having to face.  I picture myself getting ready for 1 or 2 guys with knives coming out of an alley, or the guy the next line over at 7-11 pulling a gun...not to act out Die Hard. 

Because I am evil, that's why...

As I was driving around town today running some erands, I noticed something funny about myself...I was much more tempted to stop at the Hanford High School Cheerleaders car wash than the West Side Youth Mission car wash...

I can't be totally irredeemable though, because I didn't actually stop at either one...I think the dirt is the only thing holding my truck together. 

Oh, crap.

Breaking news on all the major news channels about a shooting that occurred overnight at a premier of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado...and not just any shooting...a 'Mass Shooting.'  Early reports are 12-14 dead, with upwards of 50 wounded.  Witnesses are saying he burst in through the emergency exit door wearing a bullet proof jacket and riot helmet, set off a smoke grenade, and started mowing folks down.

Witnesses report nothing but chaos. A guy they were just interviewing on HLN was saying you couldn't tell what was going on, and I can only imagine.  Dark movie theater, with plenty of noise and explosions...some folks thought the increased noise and smoke were part of  a movie theater promotion.

I hate it....and it makes me sad.  I mean, now Fox has updated things to 15 dead.  Heck...with my wife and kids out of town this weekend, I flirted with the idea of catching a midnight showing of this movie, but I got tired, so I went to bed.  Granted, this didn't happen in Kennewick...but it COULD.  It could happen anywhere.  It's a consequence of living in what is still a fairly open society.

And so now, in addition to being sad because there are HUNDREDS of lives between the dead, wounded, and family members who have been irreparably damaged, I am also going to have deal with various renewed attacks on a facet of my life style, as an evil gun owner. 

With them taking the guy alive(well, the suspected shooter...although when the cops catch you with smoking guns and a bullet proof vest, I'm not sure why I'm saying 'suspected'), I wonder whether the end game will be more or less frustrating.  What I'm saying is...at least suicide by cop ends up with the shooter DEAD.  With him being taken alive, I wouldn't be willing to take anything less than 10-1 odds that he will face final justice.  Hell...I think it's a coin toss about whether or not he will even be found sane and serve ANY jail time.

Sorry....fairly disjointed here...I'm sure others will say it better and clearer than me. 


So, umm...when can we hunt them?

But they are soooooo cute!

Another wolf pack confirmed in E. Wash.

So, that now makes 8 confirmed packs here in Washington, with who knows how many total wolves.  All it takes to be labled as a pack is adults traveling together, so...it could be only 16 wolves...but I'm willing to guess it's a few more than that. 

Either way, they are here, and they are spreading.  At some point, they are going to need to be controlled...and I know a whole bunch of folks who would be willing to spend tons of money to help control them. 

Really, I'm not one of them...I'm willing to bet that the cost of a wolf tag is going to be much higher(and the meat much less tastier) that a deer tag.  I'm not putting folks who hunt for trophy's down...my boss went on a bear/wolf hunt in Idaho this spring, and I know getting the meat home was about priority 17 for him.  He was much more worried about making sure he treated the skin of any potential trophy safely. 

I just keep going back to my belief that if animal populations need to be controlled, it would be much nicer to let hunters PAY for the right to control the population than to have the Fish and Game Department spend taxpayers money to control the population.


One of the dumbest things I've ever heard...

Despite being quite a big fan of the female form, in an effort to maintain a harmonious relationship with my wife, I try not to focus too much on hotties around here on my blog.  Oh...there might be the occasional reference to Kat Dennings, or Christina Hendriks, or Alyson Hannigan...but it's not like a have a Doxy of the Day or anything like that.  I try to avoid doing anything that would imply my wife is not the be all/end of women for me. 

Sometimes though, the news provides me an excuse!

Kate Upton Responds To SkinnyGossip.com Fat Criticism: 'I'm Not Going To Starve Just To Be Thin,' Model Says

Now...to be truthful, I have not visited skinnygossip.com to read the original material, nor will I link to there website.  As a father of two girls, I have zero desire to help out a site than can be classified as 'pro-anorexia'....even if it hyperbole.  I'm a big believer that there can't be smoke without fire. 

And speaking of smoking...how can you justify saying that this girl is fat, even if you are just trying to be 'intentionally outrageous and intended to provoke controversy'? 

pictures from www.fatbuddhastore.com

I'm just not seeing it...and I looked, and looked, and looked some more.  

Never looked at it that way...

As a kid, I watched a lot of Nickleodeon during my 'formative' years.  One of my favorite shows was Mr. Wizard, which was convienient, because it was one of the few shows on Nickleodeon that my parents didn't mind me watching. 

Good thing for me my parents didn't get to watch this video that someone with too much time on their hands edited together from all the times Mr. Wizard may have been a little bit snarky with some kids. 


The Horror...and the Pleasure.

I came home after work today to find out something heinous had exploded on my stove:

You don't even want to know what's under the pot lid on the right.  Once upon a time, I may have reacted poorly to this...but, I've learned to be a little bit more understanding...especially when the counter next to the stove looks like this:

She started with 5 pounds of plums, 8 pounds of blue berries, and about 2 pounds of black berries.  She ended up with 37 jars of various size and various contents: Black Berry/Plum Jam, Plums and Blue Berries in syrup, Blue Berry Butter, and Blue Berry Pancake Syrup.  There is a half filled jar of the Blue Berry Butter in the fridge that I got to sample, and it's 143% AMAZING. 

Heck...it would be worth it even if I had to help clean the kitchen.  

How I Met Your Mother.

Needing a new series to watch on Netflix, my wife and I decided we needed some laughter in our life.  From the few random episodes I had caught on TV, as well as reviews from other folks, we settled on How I Met You Mother. 

We are about 60 episodes in right now, and I don't regret the decision...it's a very funny show. 

The obvious move to make is comparing HIMYM to Friends...both series are based in New York with an attractive group of folks whom appear to live in apartments bigger they can afford, and spend more money on drinking things(coffee in Friends, beer in HIMYM) than they should be able to afford to do. 

They aren't exactly the same though...in HIMYM, there is a little more focus on jobs and incomes...one of the characters is a lawyer, one is an architect, the other does business with North Korea. 

The big difference though, and the reason that HIMYM might be better than Friends(which was a Top 10 series) is one Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris. 

Every bit the womanizer that Joey was on Friends, Barney is also a sneaky brilliant bastard...an amoral rougue that never would have fit in on Friends.  The fact that NPH pulls this roll off even though he's, well...you know, GAY and NICE is amazing.  He certainly deserves the Emmy's and Golden Globes he was nominated for. 

Now...to be fair, neither of the young ladies on HIMYM is as flat out hot as Jennifer Aniston was at her peak on Friends...but they are both hotter than Courtney Cox or Lisa Kudrow(although it needs to be noted that Alyson Hannigan looks better with red hair than with brown).

photo borrowed from venus, rising. 



From late elementary school through the completion of high school, I was in several choirs, and several plays/stage musicals.  I sang the National Anthem at a Regional Wrestling Tournament for around 1000 people, and as part of a quartet at my high school graduation for closer to 2000.  I've never had a problem giving speeches or training for any size group. 

Moving to the present, I have no problem sharing various facets of my life with whom ever might swing through bored enough to read it.

Put me in a one-on-one type situation though...and I get all kinds of nervous and shy.  Case in point is the fact that I have spent all morning and most of the afternoon staring at the list of 6 phone numbers I wrote down after my scouting trip through Pomeroy.  Cold calling these farmers has me shakier than anything I've done in a long time...and it makes no sense.  I've never met these guys before...if they tell me no, I'll never meet them again, and worst case, all they tell me is no, meaning I'm not worse off than I was on Saturday. 

So why am I staring at the list of numbers trying to work up the courage to ask my Personal Secretary(my amazing wife) to make the calls for me?

It's not just this situation, either...I just get really, really nervous the first time I meet/talk to someone, whether it's on the phone or in person. 

Some grown up I am. 


Back Seat Driving

Was reading what should have been a heartwarming 'Home Invitation Thwarted Because the Bad Guy Done Got Shot' story, but the 2nd to last paragraph caught my eye...

'The husband warned the suspect again and then fired a shot through the door, wounding the suspect.'

Hey, I was happy as a clam in the mud first reading about this incident...the initial write up makes it sound like the homeowner gave plenty of warning before pulling the trigger...I just question the wisdom of shooting the suspect through the door.  Granted...if you let him open the door, it puts you at increased risk from any weapon he might have, but...shooting THROUGH the door gives me all kinds of heebie-jeebies about target identification, and opens a lot of room for 'was your life REALLY at risk' type questions. 

I just don't think it's a decision that I would have made...I would have taken cover behind something with my gun and flashlight, blinded the guy as soon as he walked in, and given him one last chance...not that he deserved.  I just couldn't take the chance it was kids goofing off outside my front door. 

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/crime/2012/07/14/tacoma-resident-shoots-and-wounds-break-in-suspect-during-attempted-home-invasion/#storylink=cpy

Scouting trip

With deer season on it's way(well, 2.5 months away, but it's gonna go fast) I figured it was time and then some to head out and do some scouting.  I was lucky enough to get drawn for a doe tag, but it was for an area I wasn't very familiar with...it just looked good on the map.

Today's goal was getting out and taking a 3D look at things, as well as identifying what land was public, and what land was private.  The bad news was, not much land was public...the good news was that there was a large amount of the private land either posted 'Feel Free to Hunt' or 'Hunt with Written Permission', so I have good leads on about 7 or 8 different hunting spots, and that's only looking over 1/3rd of the GMU. 

Since I didn't want to spend the day driving around on my own, I pitched it to my wife as nice day driving through Dayton(one of our favorite towns) to the scenic destination of Pomeroy, nestled between the Palouse and Blue Mountains.  There would be antique shopping, pioneer museums, and a picnic lunch! 

It wasn't much of a lie...Pomeroy is a cute little town, and there are antique stores, and a pioneer museum, and we had a picnic lunch. 

We even did those things before I drug her and the girls around on dirt roads.  And there were a lot of dirt roads.  Pomeroy is located in Garfield County, which is the most lightly populated county in Washington State...less than 2500 people in area two-thirds of the size of Rhode Island.  They have a nice looking court house though.

Things are pretty spread out, which means a lot of nice looking deer country...for white tails, which is a different type of hunting than I used to do for mulies.

There are deer out there somewhere...we saw two does while driving around in broad daylight...and both of them on land open to hunting.  The first would have been an easy black-powder shot...the 2nd one would have been pushing it...with open sights I'm limited to about 100 yards on a deer.  This one was really closer to 150...


Robbed by seasoning.

Very short article in the Tacoma Tribune's Police Blotter this morning about a 7-11 that was robbed the other night.  Guy walks in, tells clerk to give him cash or he gets pepper sprayed.  Clerk gives up cash, perp walks out.  End of story. 

It kind of got me to thinking though...if I was walking down the street in condition white, and someone pulled a can of pepper spray on me...would I let myself get robbed? 

First...I'm not Clint Eastwood.  I have always felt if I am in a bad situation and let someone get close to me with a gun out and on me...I'm not going to try to outdraw them...maybe play along and wait for an opportunity, but Roland of Gilead I ain't.  Now...facing a can of pepper spray I'd probably be more likely to draw and convince the gentleman he made a mistake.

But, what if I was on the way home from work, and I stopped at the store.  At that point, it becomes two questions: How much money am I willing to pay to avoid being pepper sprayed in the face...and if I don't hand over my cash, is he just going to take it out of my pocket as I am writhing on the ground in agony?

Let there be no doubt folks...I am a wimp...if I was carrying less than $100, I would probably hand it over to avoid getting sprayed, and consider it a bargain.  Somewhere in the $150-200 range, I might start being belligerent...and if the guy wants my wallet and credit cards, well...we are going to war.  Best case maybe I get close enough to 'share the love' with the bad guy, and we'll both be rolling around in the parking lot trying to scrape our faces off.

This is timely for me, because, like I said...I'm a wimp.  Two days ago, I picked the first two young jalapenos out of my garden, and I figured I would use them to make a few jars of spicy dill zucchini pickles.  I sliced one up, and in an attempt to decide how much pepper to add to each jar, I took a bite of this fresh jalapeno.

I've probably made bigger mistakes, but none of them involving food.  As someone who avoids habaneros, all I can say was that bite of fresh, young jalapeno was the spiciest thing I have ever had in my mouth.  I was rinsing and spitting with milk for like two minutes, and chewing bread, and rinsing with milk.  Even this next morning, my tongue still feels a bit rough.

I wasn't alone in thinking this pepper was hot...as I was sobbing over the kitchen sink, my wife took over playing with the pepper, and she said the fumes rising from the cutting board were enough to clear her sinuses. 

Maybe I just need to eat a few more of those peppers, and once I'm acclimated, I won't need to worry about pepper spray. 


In quite a pickle...

After many times watching my wife slave away in the kitchen making tasty jams and butters and applesauce and cherry sauces, I finally decided to lend a hand tonight.  There were a total of 13 zucchini begging to have something done with them, so I picked up a knife and started cutting, and getting a brine going while my wife took on the supervisory role. 

I took the easy way out on the brine by buying some Ball Pickling Mix.  Add some water, add some vinegar, bring it to a boil, and pour it ladel it carefully over some zucchini you've sliced and packed into a jar.  Put a lid and a ring on them, and half-an-hour later you've got 8 pints of zucchini pickles.

I'm glad it was so easy...I forsee two or three more batches of these getting made over the course of the growing season.

It's out of control!!!!!!

The recent stretch of both warm(and hot) entirely sunny weather has caused quite the growth explosion in my garden. 

Look at that hubbard squash run! 

And yes, obviously, I continue to learn lessons about tomatoes...like, you know...give them twice as much room as you think they need, and spend the money to buy/build real cages around them instead of just putting a pole on each one.  Plus, it wouldn't hurt to put some kind of border in between my squash and my tomatoes...as it is I have to cut the squash back every two days to keep it out of the tomatoes. 

The sun flower continues to amaze me, because I don't know where it came from...I really don't remember planting it. 

The zucchini, well...we've pulled 21 zuchini off them this season so far...15 in the last two weeks.  Tomorrow night we are planning on whipping up a few pints of zucchini pickles, otherwise there is going to be no way we can keep up with them.  7 plants might have been too many.

My peppers have prospered the most from the sun...we pulled two jalapeno's and two sweet peppers off today, as well as a few cherry tomatoes. 

If results are what matter, then I'm very happy with the garden...it's just nothing that's going to end up in Better Homes and Gardens. 


Put him in the ground...now!

This story, out of West Virginia, zipped me right past a slow simmer to a roiling boil in about 3 paragraphs:

West Virginia man accused of keeping wife captive faces court

Okay...innocent until proven guilty, but screw the hell out of that.  If even 10% of this story is true, this guy doesn't deserve anything better than a short rope and a tall tree...and a WHOLE LOT WORSE.

Our legal system is sooooo goofy.  I've said before that if I am ever accused of ANYTHING, this is the only legal system I would want to be charged in, and I'm sure I would want a defence lawyer like this guys....but after reading a few of his quotes as they already try to whittle down this poor lady in public, I'm just as mad at the lawyer as I am at the accused. 


Good on the shelter and the lady she shared her story with for coming forward.  I worry that the defence lawyer is right, and this might be one of those cases where the wife is SOOOOO beat down, she can't even take the stand on her behalf...

One could always hope this guy slips on his soap on a rope in the shower and cracks his skull open, saving the tax payers some cash.

Showing some back bone.

It takes some spine to march into enemy territory and say things that you know are going to get answered by a chorus of boos...and make no mistake, Romney going to give a speach at the NAACP's annual convention is going into enemy territory. 

Good for him not rolling and telling them what they want to hear.

Will it make me more likely to vote for him?  NO!  But, it might make me feel a teeny-tiny less horrible about him if enough other people vote for him.


There are easier ways...

An eye catching headline, 'Man eaten alive by tigers in Denmark zoo', but what really caught my eye was the theory being put forth that this might have been a form of suicide. 

Holy Moly!  How bad can things be that you think the way out if climbing into a tigers cage at the zoo?!?!?!?  

Is this what happens when you make it hard to get a gun?   You can have to get three tigers to kill you? 

I'd be much more interested to see what kind of alcohol or drugs are found in the guys system...but then, that would be a form of suicide also...

Well, they were all wearing masks...

In case you were looking for a compelling reason to carry a Kel-Tec PMR-30....

Raccoons attack woman walking with dog by Fort Steilacoom Park

Now, I try not to laugh at articles where people actually get hurt, and needing 28 stiches AND rabies shots' count as getting hurt...but...this article kind of makes me chuckle...and leaves me with a question.

What in the hell is an American Dingo?  Wikipedia cleared this up for me...basically sounds like a type of wild dog discovered back in the 1970's and since re-domesticated. 

Seems to me like this lady kind of took a whipping that was meant for her dog after it chased a few raccoons up a tree. 

But it's allright, because NOW she is going to start carrying bear spray...you know, AFTER she was attacked. 

I've bought my mom at least three key-chain sized mace canisters so she can always have one with her when she takes her dog for a walk....I've given up trying to convince her to get a gun...


Yeah, it's kind of like that...

4th day on row of triple diget heat here in Eastern Washington, and man, am I a big baby.  18+ years of living in the Puget Sound area, where they high temperature for a YEAR could be 85 degrees has not prepared me for this.

It also hasn't prepared me for a hot day with wind. 

I always kind of liked a little breeze on a warm day...it helps with  the evaporative cooling, and makes you feel a little cooler.

Here though, with the thermometer standing at 102, and a fairly stiff 15mph breeze coming out of the desert, things were different...the wind made things WORSE.

The best way I can explain it is to try sitting on your couch, while someone holds a running blow-dryer about 1 foot away from your face...ick.


If you can't conceal it, you might as well use it!

It's a funny story because no one got hurt...

MARYSVILLE -- A 72-year-old Marysville man was arrested without incident Friday evening after firing a gun while naked in the front yard outside his home, according to police.

Police were called to the man's house in the 16600 block of 25th Avenue NE shortly after 6:30 p.m., Marysville police Lt. Jeff Goldman said.

When police arrived, the man was holding a .32 caliber pistol, Goldman said. When officers ordered him to drop the gun, he complied.

Neighbors said they heard the man fire two shots. He said he fired three shots, including one into the deck attached to his house. Police found a bullet there, Goldman said.

Witnesses told police the man pointed the revolver at a neighbor and threatened to kill him, according to Goldman.

The man was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault, unlawful discharge of a firearm and indecent exposure.
Something tells me this gentleman probably won't get to own a gun anymore.


So it doesn't work forever...

Just getting word out on the internet machine that Ernest Borgnine, who I know from McHale's Navy and Ice Station Zebra, passed away today.  Having always thought of him as a slightly goofy guy(his role in Basketball is classic), I was totally flabergasted to learn that he won the Best Actor Oscar in 1955. 

My wife, of course, drew a connection between Ernest and Andy Griffith, and wondered who The Third is gonna be.

Me?  All I can think of is an interview Ernest did a few years ago when he was asked what his secret was:

If that's all it takes to make it 95, I'm there. 


Shandy? Dandy!

All things being equal, I will choose a darker beer over a lighter beer: Amber Ale vs. Pale Ale, Scotch Ale vs. Hefeweizen, Porter or Stout vs. Pilsner. 

Sometimes though, things aren't equal.  When the mercury creeps up past the 85-90 range(as it did at about 11am this morning) a 'dark' beer is sometimes more than I want to have, and I might actually make the decision to drink something 'yellar.' 

Yesterday, at the new Mid-Columbia Wine and Liquor store, I saw something that looked like it might have some flavor, despite being yellow: Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.  Made with real lemonade flavor!

It's pretty tasty...good lemon/citrus flavor, without being too sweet, like a Mike's Lemonade.  Not that I'm making fun of Mike's Lemonade, or any of the Hard Sweet Teas or Ciders...I'm a fan of them too.  It's just that some of the time, you still want 'a beer', and not just a carbonated alcohol beverage.

As always the best part of drinking in the summer is I'm usually a cheap drunk...when I spend the whole day with just the little bit of a 'summertime glow', I find I'm always at least a little bit dehydrated, and alcohol usually hit me just a little bit harder. 

Looks like it's our turn...

I'm not a hot weather type of guy, and while most of the rest of the country has been dealing with the effects of global warming, I've been very careful not to rub in how comfortable the weather has been here in the Pacific Northwest, because I didn't want to be the one responsible for jynxing us.

Looks like it happened anyway, with temps here expected to be over 100 for the next few days, and not expected to be less than 95 before July 20th.  The only positive one can take from this is that IT IS a 'dry' heat, and it means things might be slow at work...you find yourself in a 'heat stress' situation pretty fast when you have to wear PPE and Respirators. 

Or supervise folks doing that. 


You gotta trust a guy named Guy.

Having been relatively 'good' the first few days of our vacation(eating the 'free' continental breakfast at the hotel, and then one cheaper meal and one decent meal(or better than decent) meal out, a timely TV show allowed me to convince my wife to splurge the last day.

We I watch A LOT of Diners, Drive-in's and Dives around here.  It's just a convenient 'background' type show, along with Man vs. Food, Mythbusters, Deadliest Catch or Dirty Jobs.  I know the host, Guy Fieri, isn't everyone's 'cup-of-tea', but he's turned into a great advertisement for a restaurant. 

The first season the show was on, they visited a place on Bainbridge Island that my wife and I had previously eaten at, and greatly enjoyed.  Based off that trust, the next time we ate in Seattle, we made sure to try breakfast at Voula's Off-Shore Cafe after it was featured on 'Triple D'.  Since then, if we are road-tripping, I've tried to keep an eye out for a Triple D endorsed restaurant if we are traveling. 

It was fortuitous then, that while we were watching TV in the hotel room Monday night, Triple D featured a place in Coeur D'Alene called Capone's.  I couldn't remember seeing that episode before, and neither could my wife...but man, did their pizza look good.  It didn't take much work on my part to convince my wife that we should just pack some bananas and animal crackers for the 4 hour drive from Deer Lodge to CDL, so that we arrived in town ready for some pizza.

Capone's was as good as advertised...we had their Garlic Chicken Pizza and a 5-Cheese for the girls.  It was some good, good pizza, with a GREAT crust.  The roasted garlic on the pizza was 'like butta'.  Sometimes, when a place puts whole garlic cloves on a pizza, they are still crunchy...this melted in your mouth. Capone's also has about 30-35 beers on tap, and that was good, because it helped me take a late afternoon nap before trying to stay up to watch the fireworks.  Service was very on the spot.  If there was a negative, it was that the pizza did not store very well...something happened chemically with stuff as it sat in the fridge, and man, did it make me stinky.

The following morning, stomach all back together, we went to breakfast at a place called Jimmy's Down the Street, which I had scouted from DDD.  We were up and going in a timely manner on the 5th, and got seated right away, which was great...when we left, there was a 20 minute wait.  Service was GREAT, and you could tell the waitresses, all who looked to be in their 50's, were enjoying their job.

Was the food good?  Oh yeah...

The plate might have looked more 'breakfasty' if the gravy was smothered over the plate instead of being in a bowl, but, I actually kind of liked it better with not everything being drowned.  For my heart, I actually think I used less of the gravy...but it was good...and the biscuit, which I missed in my picture, was THE BEST I've ever had.  The rest of the meal?  It was good...I got chicken fried steak strips, and they were good.  As good as the biscuit?  No...can't even say the chicken fried steak would make my top 5...but, that doesn't mean it wasn't good...just not perfect. 

My wife also enjoyed her breakfast...a sour cream and chive scramble...as she agreed with my opinion of the biscuit as the BEST EVER.  My kids ordered french toast sticks...but what they really got was fried dough strips, and yummy, yummy, yummy. 

Along with Scrud's, that was three pretty okay restaurants in CDL...can't wait to go back. 


Voting Third Party

Since voting Libertarian hasn't been working out so well for me, I thought I would try a different 3rd Party this year...

If voting for the lesser of two evils doesn't work, than why not embrace the Greatest Evil.  


Ah...we made it home...and it IS nice to make it home.  We found a few surprises waiting for us from our kitten(one plant knocked off the window sill, and one of my wife's needle felt dolls ended up on the floor and destroyed. 

A quick tour through the back yard showed that my container tomatoes were 2-3 days away from disaster...the dirt was dry, and one of them was showing signs of wilting, but only a few hours after a good watering, it's already perking up.  The rest of the garden is looking good...too good.  I'm seriously thinking of doing some serious tomato sacrificing.  I've done some pruning and trimming, trying to avoid cutting off anything with flowers or tomatoes on them...but, things are getting awfully crowded. 

I had 5 zucchini waiting for me, and another 3 or 4 will be ready to go in a week or so.  The small ones will get used tonight or tomorrow, the two bigger ones will end up in bread, muffins, or fritters.  I sense that the zucchini are getting ready to start coming faster than I can handle...time to start looking at a few pickling recipes. 

It Looms.

Quiet, dark hotel rooms are a great place to think. 

I'm sitting here in the dark because the rest of my family is sleeping in after we all stayed up late to watch the fireworks on Lake Coeur D'Alene last night.   I've tried sleeping in, but it's just not something I have the ability to do.  Much more than about 7 hours, and my body thinks it's time to get up and get going.

We should be rolling into drive-way sometime mid-afternoon, and as much fun as the last five days have been, I think everyone is looking forward to it, even me, a bit.  The girls are looking forward to seeing the cats, and being able to watch NetFlix On Demand on a real TV, and being able to jump up and down and make noise without mom or I glaring at them because we are on the 2nd floor of a hotel.

My wife's looking forward to being able to work on more homeschooling lesson planning, and being able to tell the girls to 'Go to the family room if you want to make noise' instead of just telling them they can't make noise, and having a bedroom with a door she can close, and a bathroom with a tub she can use without having kids come in to use the bathroom.

Me?  I'm looking forward to all those things because it makes them happy.  I'm kind of curious about the cats, and I'm really curious about how my garden is doing...I've got this fear that my sprinklers died, and after 5+  sunny days with no rain all I'm going to find is charred cinders.  I'm also looking forward to being able to cook a meal at home...not that it's not fun to eat out, but the vacation budget is just about spent.  I've also got some projects to work on, and a dump run to make.

What I'm already NOT looking forward to is Monday.  That's when I go back to the bad place.

I'm pretty happy with my life...very happy actually...my life, as far as my wife and kids goes, is fairly close to perfect.  Oh...occasionally, because  of behavior issues that all kids have, I'd be willing to trade them for a used candy bar wrapper, but, it would have to be a short trade.  When they brighten up, I wouldn't trade them for anything.  Watching my 6-year old(7 in October!) dance and cheer and say 'WHOA!' for 20 minutes straight during the fireworks right now allows me to put up with a lot of bad behavior.

It's kind of like that at work...do the positives let you deal with the negatives?   So far? 

Yes...the negatives are many, and varied.  My wife tells me not to go into them in too much detail, but mostly they are tied to an attitude that has been allowed to flourish long before my arrival...like, the last 15-20 years.  An almost(almost...things ARE getting better, so I'm told) institutional resistance to anything resembling more than minimum effort.  A lack of job satisfaction(in the Shipyard, you would see a boat you fixed go to sea...I didn't realize how much that mattered).  More that you would have to see to believe.

What positives counter this?  Just one...the fact that this job gives me 700 hours more time a year with my family...13+ hours a week.  That's huge...and it's the only reason I haven't given up and moved us all back to the Kitsap area. 

Now...if they ever create a pill I could take daily that would just allow me to not remember anything that happened between 6:30 and 4....that would be pretty cool...I mean, let my body and mind do the right thing....just have it all instantly go away as soon as I drive back through the gate in the afternoon...I would buy that pill.

Until then, there are vacations, and memories....and lottery tickets. 


Independence Day.

I don't have anything deep or introspective to say about Independence Day.  I'm just seizing it as an excuse to post this picture of this house that my wife and I fell in love with in Bozeman.

We, ummm...we kind of fell in love with Bozeman...at least some parts of it.  Maybe it's just the unexpected nature of it...neither my wife or I are what you would call provincial, but prior to this week, I don't think either of us realized that Bozeman had anything like the North Tracy or Bon Ton Historic Districts. 

As much as we liked Bozeman, we also found nice sections in Missoula and Coeur D'Alene.  One of the common things about these cities is that they all have colleges.  Maybe not big colleges, but having a college or university in a town helps...gives at least a touch of culture, and it keeps a stream of young blood flowing through the town. 

Does is matter right now?  No...but, one of the things my wife talked about over the last few days is that we just don't see ourselves retiring in the Tri-Cities.  It's too brown, and too flat.  Right now, it's where the job is...and I'm okay with mountains and trees being an hour and half away.  When money stops being an issue?

The area from Coeur D'Alene to about Deer Lodge, Mt is really, really nice.  You get much past Deer Lodge, and things get kind of brown again.  Not Tri-Cities brown, but, not as rich and green as the Silver and Clark Fork Valley's.  The area around Bozeman greens up again, but to get there you need to make it over the Continental Divide...

I guess it's something we really don't need to revist until we actually win the lottery, or retire...but it's something new to dream about.  


And, I'm spent.

After 4 days of driving, and 3 nights in a hotel, today at 3:00, we completed our primary objective...touring the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. 

To put it as simply as possible, the girls had a blast...all the girls.  As much fun as my daughters had looking at the dinosaur stuff, my wife had in the Tinsley House Living History Farm. 

Inside, once you went upstairs, you found a room taken over by two sweet old ladies working with the Fiber Arts...one running a spinning wheel, the other a weaving loom. 

My wife was in heaven.  I think she was flat out jealous of our daughters when the sweet old ladies let them sit down on the loom.

What you can't see in this picture is my wife trapping sweet old lady #2 in a corner for about 20 minutes talking about The Fiber Arts. 

Good time had by all, it was back on the freeway, heading west...each mile taking us closer to the real world. 

She might kill me...

Before leaving Missoula yesterday morning, we went down to the park at the river, and let the girls play on the fancy playground, and ride the carousel. 

Being a horrible, horrible man, I convinced my wife it was quite okay for her to ride the carousel in her dress. Her only problem came when a little toddler and his mom got on, and she sacrificed the chariot she was going to be riding in, and had to climb on a horse.

She still isn't 100% happy with how she takes a picture, but seeing her yesterday reminded my of another carousel she was riding last June in Bickleton.

That was the picture that motivated her...and 50 pounds later, I'm here to tell you folks...hubba hubba.  Now she looks like I stole her picture out of a Lands End catalog. 

And yes, the girls had a good time also...it was just tough to get a good picture of them...it was a surprisingly high speed carousel. 

After that, it was on our way to our final destination of Bozeman, via Deer Lodge and Butte. 

In Deer Lodge, we stopped to have an inexpensive lunch of peanut butter and honey sandwich's(yes, between light lunch and salad for dinner, it was a day to let our tummies rest) on a picnic table at the Grant-Kohrs ranch, which we just didn't have time to properly explore.

You can't beat free, so we swung through Butte and visited the Mineral Museum at Montana Tech, where there was some neat stuff.  I'll spare you pictures, but wikipedia does it better.  It's another one of those things that is worth the stop, even if it's not worth the trip.


Ask a question, get an answer.

As we settled in for dinner tonight, my youngest daughter surveyed the spread on the table, and those around us, turned to my wife and asked:

'Mommy...why does every dish have meat on it'?

My wife, in one of the great all time answers said: 'Because, we are in Montana, honey.' 

That kind of sums it up...the place even had Montana in the name: The Montana Ale Works. 

In an attempt to be good, both my wife and I had salad...but because neither of us were THAT good, she had chicken on her salad, and I had steak on my caeser salad.  The girls had chicken fingers and fish and chips.  The chicken strips were REAL pieces of chicken, and I can't vouch for the fish, other than to say that my daughter inhaled it, so it must have been good.  As a side dish, the pepper parmesean fries were outstanding.  Both of our salads were good, and hit the spot as something half-way healthy after two days on the road. 

Of course, since it's called Montana ALE Works, we had some beer...once again, three of them, which is one for her and two for me, which is the most I dare drink learning a new town.  Unlike Tamarack, MAW doesn't brew their own beer...but they carry a lot of stuff from local breweries. 

My wife had an OB-1 Organic Ale...and it was more of a brown ale than an amber...it was quite tasty, and very mellow.  It might have been better than my second beer, Bitteroot Belgian Wit, but not better than my first beer, Jack's 90 Scottish Ale.  I like the kind of smokey flavor of a good scotch ale. 

If I lived in Bozeman, I would have no problem visiting Montana Ale Works on a regular basis.  $3 for any pint is a great happy hour deal...much happier here than I was at Tamarack the night before.