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


0'Dark 30.

Heading out to go deer hunting.  The season Officially starts in about 3 hours, which will find me sitting in a wheat field north of the town of Pomeroy.  If I'm lucky, I will cross paths with an obliging doe(although I also wouldn't snub a legal(at least 3 points on one side) buck). 

Because we are in the 21st Century, I am looking forward to figuring out how to use my droid to post a picture of my successful hunt. 

Or, lament my failure to the general public.


Showing off

I took a few minutes off from getting ready to go deer hunting tomorrow to look through the completed family pictures that caused me to miss the first half of the Patriots game last weekend.

It was worth...I'm a fairly lucky man.

Special thanks go out to Shilowe, who took the pictures.  I was a little bit skeptical about the 'natural light' thing, but this was 100% worth dodging the occasional bug, and pile of goose poop at the local park. 


My brain, it hurts!

My wife and I were both intriqued by the new military/conspiracy thriller series, Last Resort, that was premiering Thursday night. 

My level of intrique didn't last as long as my wife's though. 

They must have learned everything they know about submarines by watching Crimson Tide and Down Periscope...just horrible, horrible stuff.

The show seems suitably tense(although I'm curious about how they can stretch it weeks, and weeks, and weeks), but, the submarine stuff is killing me.

The calendar lies!

On the one hand, I'm excited that muzzle loader deer season opens up in roughly 36 hours, but ont the other hand, I'M NOT READY!!!!!!

More to follow.


I appreciate your assistance, now leave.

Several times over the course of the summer, I've found a helpful mantis puttering around in my garden, and I've always done my best to not disturb her. 

Today when I decided to mow the lawn when I got home from work, and luckily I'm used to keeping an eye out for toys and rocks the kids leave in the yard, so I was able to spot my favorite mantis before accidentally running her over.  In fact, I had to dodge her about 3 times, before leaving a 3 X 3 area unmowed.

Stupid?  Maybe, but I just think they are neat bugs.

In other news, I'm fairly pleased with the pictures my new Droid 4 takes.


As promised


Just like what you would see in Raisin Bran, only a little smaller and less plump, plus no sugar.

It's the first time I am less than 100% satisfied with our L'Equip dehydrator...but it's also the biggest load we have run through it at one time.  Even with rotating the shelves every 8-12 hours, the product is a little...inconsistant. Learning experience.

I also learned I was totally wrong in thinking black raisins came from red grapes, and 'golden' raisins came from green grapes.

Just a city boy, I guess


Get that girl a shawl!

I try to run a good, clean blog around here, with much happiness about my family, and cooking, and gardening, and prepping, and things that need fixing in the world.  There is room for the occasional bit of cheesecake, but it's not a regular thing.

And yet, the day after the Emmy's, I am swamped with people looking for pictures of Kat Dennings, who DID look smoking hot at the Emmy's last night. 

Well, never say I don't give the paying customers what they want.

From Yahoo

from celebcentral.net
 Okay, enough pandering. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for pictures of RAISINS!

Cat Napping

We had the cats in to the vets on Friday for check-up and shots, and it seems to have taken it out of them a bit. 

It was actually kind of nice...there was much less craziness from the kitten, and you didn't need to open the front door on your hands and knees to keep her from making a break for it. 
With the cats sleeping the day away, I had a nice trip to the gun range in the morning, followed by visiting a few open houses with the family, and then family pictures at the local park.  Way back in the spring, we bid on and won a silent auction for professional type photos.  My wife had previously worked with this lady, and she produced some amazing pictures of my daughters.
Rest assured, when we get out sneak peak photos, I will share/brag about my family.  


Crackin' the Whip

Looking for something fun and exciting to do on a Saturday evening, I sat the girls down at the kitchen table to begin prepping grapes to become raisins.  Since I washed the grapes as soon as I aquired them from my neighbor, it was just a matter of pulling the grapes off the bunches and putting them on the dehydrator trays.

Yup...that's all there was too it...but it certainly isn't a fast process. 

What I'm certain factories have machines for, I have a 6 year old and a ten year old for.

I guess I should have gotten them hair nets...that would have been really cute. 


And I blinked!

A few weeks ago, a couple of fellow bloggers were both talking about how due to proper planning, they were able to take advantage of an opportunity to buy a lot of beef at a good price. 

I found myself on the opposite side of that situation yesterday. 

Back in March, shortly after moving into this rental house, my wife and I talked about picking up a freezer for the garage, and buying a quarter/half a cow to fill it with.  Asking around at work, I found a guy who handled such things, and found out I was about two weeks too late to grab the last half a cow.  Not having the beef to fill it with, buying a freezer for the garage has kept sliding down the list of priorities.  I keep looking in craigslist periodically, but just haven't found one I'm willing to drive to Walla Walla or Yakima for. 

I've known the clock is ticking.  If I am successful in the upcoming hunting season, we will NEED to get a freezer.

Well, yesterday, the alarm on the clock went off.  I got a phone call and an e-mail from the guy I had talked to back in March, and he told me that one of his buyers had backed out, and he had a half a cow available if I was interested in it.  $2.00 a pound, plus .49 cents a pound to cut and wrap plus a kill fee...and it's mine, available next Friday for pickup.

A quick check through craigslist didn't reveal any available freezer.  New stand-up ones that we want are around $800ish, which is also roughly what the cow would cost.  Since the house sold, the cash isn't so much the problem as finding space in the garage for a freezer...since we cleaned out our storage unit a month ago, the garage is kind of a scary place. 

Plus, if I was to anchor an elk in two weeks, then we are talking third freezer instead of 2nd freezer.  Plus, we are hoping to be moving out of this place after the new years, so a half cow would be another several hundred pounds of meat and freezer to move.

Plus...oh, there was all kinds of rationalization, with the end result being, I looked the opportunity in the eye, and I blinked.  The gentleman had a wait list, and so I told him I was going to have to pass on the chance this time around. 

Man, am I lame. 

The end result is I was just not able to pull the trigger...


Free = Work

While I was out doing some picking from the garden this afternoon, I had a 'meeting at the fence' with my neighbor.  He has a few grape vines growing on the fence between our places, and I wanted to check with him because a fair number of Concord Grapes are growing through onto my side of the fence.  It's not an area where I am familiar with the etiquette, so I figured I would just ask him if he minded us taking them. 

As it turns out, he said he and his wife DO collect the Concords to make jam and juice, BUT he said, across the yard he had a vine of Interlaken Grapes the he didn't do much more with than eat the occasional handful of.  He told me I was welcome to as many of them as I wanted to fight the birds for. 

One thing I learned is that grapes on the vine are icky.  Those nice, tight bunches of fruit represent the perfect home for bugs...and I'm not a big bug fan.  Spiders and earwigs galore, and the first thing I did when I got home with the grapes was dump them in the sink and commence to washing. 

I wasn't really sure how much grapes to get.  Was I looking to get enough to can, or to eat?  Add in the fact that I didn't know an Interlaken from a hole in my head, and I just kind of picked until I didn't feel like picking any more. 

I ended up getting about 8-10 pounds worth, and after a talk with my wife, I think that these are bound for the dehydrator and a life as raisins after the current batch of tomatoes are done.

Well, the ones we don't eat first are bound for the dehydrator, but I'm not sure how many will be left in 24 hours.  These are some good, tiny, sweet grapes.  Each ones a little bubble of flavor. Much tastier than the concord I tried off the vine earlier in the week.  My wife has already made me promise that when we get a house, we will put a vine, or two of these in(spiders and all). 


Welcome to the 21st Century!

Yesterday in the mail, I recieved what Tamara would call a Portable Magic Elf Box, a brand new Droid 4 phone/computer/claw hammer. 

I figured I would be a smart alec and just brag about it from work today, using my new phone, but alas, I was WAY outsmarted.  Blogger kept wanting me to establish a whole new account OR use a Google+ account, neither of which I wanted to do, so I didn't.

I think the problem is solved now, and maybe I will try to post 'on the fly' tomorrow.

For now, I find my new phone highly entertaining, and partially terrifying.  Realizing I can carry a 1.2 ghz Duel Core Processor with 1 Gig of RAM in the palm of my hand is...well, sobering.  Didn't think we would be here 20 years ago, and I wonder where we will be 20 years from now.

Deep, hunh?


Let's think outside the box a second...

This is the second time in a week that I have read a story about the fact that Washington State may be looking at a record apple harvest this year, if a shortage of workers doesn't keep them from all getting picked off the trees.  The first time was in the local paper, this time it's actually a story on Seattle's news channels, so that makes is a Big Deal. 

Meanwhile in unrelated news that doesn't NEED to be unrelated, Washington States unemployment rate is at 8.5%, or roughly 300,000 people out of work. 

Now...not all of them are just 'sitting around', and not all of them live in areas where there are apples begging to be picked.  However...some of them are. 

I'm not saying you just force them to go work(well, I am, but I'm also a realist who realizes I am mean, mean person, who needs to learn to offer up 'acceptable' options), but...you could offer incentives.  Something like, continue to get 50% of your unemployment benefit PLUS what you make picking apples. 

And if no one takes the good deal, THEN you force them to work.

I must sound like a broken record, because I had the same opinion back in May when doom and gloom stories were talking about a record asparagus harvest that was going to waste due to a lack of pickers. 


Because if you don't blow your own whistle....

Who Will? 

Just realized that yesterday was my two year blogoversary. 

Hooray for me. 

Thanks for everyone who has swung by...here at Dum Vivimus, Vivamus, we know you have a choice of  semi-snarky, sometimes useful, occasionally funny blogs to visit, and we appreciate that we might make the cut for a visit once in a while.

And I lived to talk about it.

Usually, on Sundays, I try to make a decent dinner for the family.  It's something I can do while bouncing back and forth between the kitchen and the TV, and still feel like a good dad/husband.

This weekend though, Operation Apple took over most of the stove and counter tops, so we had to take a shortcut route for dinner.  With hamburger helper on the menu, it seemed as good a time as any to try one of the jars of ground beef I made up a month and a half ago. 

Upon opening it, it smelled like beef.  I dumped it right into the pan, which might have been a mistake...there was a lot more juice in the jar than I thought there was.  Next time, I will dump the contents of the jar into a strainer first, to get rid of most of the juice.

Other than that though, it was meat!  And no one had any bowel problems after eating it, which is a big plus.

Score one for home canning!


An apple a day.

The middle of last week, my wife picked up two 25 pound boxes of Golden Delicous Apples.  After staring at them for a few days in between soccer practices and games, we tackled one box on Saturday, and the other on Sunday.

All total we made up 12 quarts of sauce, with my wife taking the lead on Saturday, and me taking the lead on Sunday.  We canned them using two different techniques, because there were instructions for both water bath AND pressure canning that we found for apples.

My initial impression is that the water bath canning is a little better, especially if you forget that most pressure canning calls for an inch of head space instead of half-an-inch.  That meant that one of the jars I did Sunday evening kind of...overflowed a bit. 

After cooling on the counter top over night, I'm not sure it's a problem.  I pulled the rings, and all of them seem to have sealed okay, even the onethat overflowed. The only real issue is that all 6 of the jars I did are going to need a better than average wipe down before going out on the shelves....they be pretty sticky. 

Since we used 100% Golden Delicous apples, we didn't add ANYTHING, other than a slight bit of lemon juice during the peeling/chopping to minimize browning, and after a spoonfull prior to canning, it didn't need anything.  Good, Good stuff. 


High expectations for that tomato.

Way back in the spring, my wife picked up 4 heirloom tomato plant starts from a lady she knows.  They weren't super expensive, like $1 a piece.  Since the garden had already been started, we placed them in a few big pots and got them going.

All along, the plants themselves looked pretty decent, and when they finally started blooming a good month after my other tomatoes, I felt pretty good.

UNTIL the growing tomatoes developed 'blossom end rot', kindly identified for me by Alison.  Once I figured out this was terminal, I cut off all the developing tomatoes to spur a 2nd blossoming.  It worked, somewhat.  Earlier today, I pulled this darling looking tomato off one of the plants.

Boy, oh boy, not sure how we are gonna cope with all the spaghetti sauce we get out of those heirloom plants.

It just makes me think that there is a real REASON why we have created all the 'newfangled' non-heirloom type tomatoes that have grown REALLY GOOD in my garden. 

New Gun!

After yesterday's trip to the range, I followed up with a trip to Wholesale Sports Outfitters today to pick up a new, hopefully trustworthy muzzle loader.

I did a little bit of fondling, and decided to go with a Traditions Vortek Northwest Magnum, specifically designed to be legal in Oregon, Idaho, and, well, Washington. 


It's break action instead of the slightly more traditional 'in-line bolt action', but I kind of like that.  I figured it would be easier to clean, and it makes it a bit lighter.  The model I went with has a 24" barrel instead of a 28", but after shouldering one of each, I thought it just felt better. 
The downside of the shorter barrel are the same for a muzzle loader as for a normal rifle...gonna lose some FPS out of the muzzle.  I'm not sure if there is a whole lot of difference between 1500FPS and 1400FPS...my max shot is 100 yards, maybe 120 on a perfectly stationary elk.  Trajectory isn't a big deal to me.  It's still a 300gr half-inch projectile.  If I do my job of putting it in the right place, the animal isn't walking away.
I think it looks kind of sharp, and very all weather too.


But that's not really what he said!

I'm not a huge Romney supporter, but man, it gets old constantly seeing the guy get beat down by the media.  It almost makes him a more sympathetic, underdog type of character. 

Case in point would be THIS headline from the AP.

Romney: 'Middle-income' between $200K and $250K

No, No, No.  Read your own @#*@*! article.  What he said, when asked, is that middle income families didn't start at $100K a year, he said: "No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,".

I don't know what makes me madder...that the AP would deliberately misquote their OWN article for an Anti-Romney head line, OR that this is just another example of a policy where Romney and Obama are essentially saying the same thing. 


Uh Oh

I went to the range today to do some shooting and test the theory that there is no bad day at the range. 

The shooting part went pretty good, but I only brought a few guns(Marlin .357, Saiga 7.62 X 39, S&W 686+, and Walther P22), with my Traditions Muzzleloader being my primary reason for going to the range.  Deer season starts two weeks from tomorrow, and while I was happy with my accuracy over the winter and spring, I was not happy with the reliability of the firearm.  It was taking at least two pulls of the trigger to get the No. 11 percussion cap to properly fire.  Believing the problem to be something internal with the springs in the bolt, I ordered a new one.

Traditions shipped the bolt in a timely manner, and it fit right into the rifle.  Then I kept saying 'You know, this weekend I need to go make sure the gun works better with the new bolt that it did with the old bolt'.  And I kept saying it, and saying it...but not doing it, until today.

As I'm sure you can guess, it looks the problem isn't something internal to the bolt.  Even with the new one, I didn't get consistent first time ignition.  I did get first time ignition about 1/3rd of the time, which was better than with the old bolt, but while 33% success is great for checking if you are flinching(I'm not!), it's not so good for shooting a deer/elk before it can run away.

I'm not sure I can head into the woods with a gun I only trust 33%.  In fact, I know I can't.  If I missed a deer because of this, I would be sad.  Missing a cow elk with my special tag would make me closer to inconsolable. 

The only real 'cheap' option from here would be buying another can of percussion caps, and trying them.  Maybe CCI Caps are a bit 'tougher' than other brands. 

Poop.  With only two weeks to go, trying to borrow one from someone else would be tight, which really means I am looking at having to run out in the next 5 days to buy a new one, so I can play with it next weekend, before needing to go hunting on the 29th.

Luckily, with the house having sold, I am in a place where I can do this.  I was already starting to dream about what type of gun to get at Christmas time.  I had just kind of hoped that I would break my 4 year no new gun drought with a BLACK gun, not a black powder gun.

Boy, do I feel ignorant.

I haven't said much about the whole Embassy Attack because there isn't really much to opinionate about.  There is a group of people in the world who HATE us, and who will use any excuse to take offense at US...our society, our way of life...everything.  I doubt this most recent video has anything more or less offensive than your average weekly episode of South Park. 

My boss is an ex-Marine, and he spent the last half of the week awfully fired up.  In his spare time, you could find him watching video clips of Samuel Jackson from the movie Rules of Engagement.  His favorite scene is the one where Samuel Jackson, in his role as Colonel Terry Childers, orders his men to open fire on the crowd in his own colorful manner.  My boss willl then look me in the eye and say 'If we had Marines on the ground in Libya, this wouldn't have happened.'

THAT is where my ignorance came in.  I had always assumed that we had troops(if not Marines then at least Army) at each of our Embassies...I mean, especially ones in as unstable as Libya.  If something horrible happened at the American Embassy in Britain, or Germany, or heck, even Russia, and there were no Marines around to save the day, I could kind of understand that.

But...to find out that the safety of one of our Embassies is trusted to a private contractor was quite disturbing...and made me feel ignorant. 

Your mission, if you choose to accept it...

My wife, being a 'share the pain' type person, volunteered to accept some of the load in her bunco group by hosting their monthly get together for September.  My job was to keep my kids out of sight and out of mind so they didn't break up the mojo of the ladies playing the game.

The easiest way to do this is to get them out of the house, which at a minimum means dinner, and then something. 

Last night for dinner I took the girls to Bob's Burgers and Brew, and then an exciting sweep through Wal-Mart and Target.  Bob's is kind of a grown up version of Red Robin...the burgers are pretty good, and while the fries/Jo-Jo's don't blow you away, you aren't going to leave hungry.  Plus, they have a decent selection of beers on tap, which was more important to me than my daughters(the selection last night was a 24-ounce Irish Death, from Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg). 

My daughters, being at a place specializing in hamburgers, both decided to order the Fish & Chips.  Luckily, my wife had previously made this choice when we stopped in for lunch(must run in the family), where we found out the fish and chips are at least as good as the burgers. 

At Wal-Mart and Target, we succeeded in our primary goal of finding toilet paper, but failed to find a power cord for a our Wii, which is currently not working.  We get a red LED light on the unit, but it won't start, meaning power is getting to the console, but the console can't do the right thing with the power. 

We have had the Wii for over 4 years, which means it's nearing the end of the service life expectations for modern electronics.  It might just be time to replace the whole unit instead of hoping a new power cord fixes things. 


A big strike

Thankfully, I am not a resident of the Chicago area, and so I have paid minimal attention to the recently started School Teachers Strike.  With me being a manager of union employees, and my wife's position as a nurse making her a union member we tend to avoid discussions about unions.  It's one of those topics where we realize we each have our own opinions, and life is easier/sweeter if we just don't talk about whether or not unions are forces of good or evil.

The answer, like all answers, is somewhere in the middle.  Unions do some good(although my opinion is not as much good as they once did), while Unions as a business are pure evil.  Pure Evil. 

I was finally bored enough today that I read a story a friend of mine on facebook posted about the School Teachers strike, and the 7 issues that were really a factor in this strike.  For coming from Fox Business, it reads as a fairly 'fair and balanced'(no really!) statement of facts and figures.

This might come as a surprise, but most of the debate comes down to money!  The teachers union wants more money for union members(which means more union dues to pay union managements salaries), and the State of Illinois, and City of Chicago don't have that more money.

I found some of the numbers in the article mind blowing.  The Chicago School District is facing a $665 MILLION deficit for the upcoming school year.  Hell...I didn't know the total budget was that high, let alone they could be upside down by that amount(the 2010-11 operating budget for CPS was $5.282 BILLION, a number so big it makes my brain melt.  By comparison, you could run the STATE of Rhode Island for $7.7 BILLION in 2012).

Currently the mean salary for an elementary school teacher in Chicago is $61,790, and $69,470 for a high school teacher.  That is without a 4% pay raise that the city was unable to afford to give teachers last year.  Now the teachers want that 4% for the next 4 years, while the state is offering 3& the first year, than 2% the 3 years after that.  Under the state plan a high school teacher would make $76,000 a year.  Under the unions plan, it would be $81,270. 

I guess our days of a teacher being able to complain about making 35K a year are gone...at least in the big city.  Big City = Big Union = Big Money.

Grrrr.  This is without even getting into the additional teachers that would need to be hired to reduce class sizes, or the 500 teachers Rahm has already agreed to hire to extend classroom time 90 minutes a day in elementary schools. 

I'm kind of interested to see how this goes.  It's a big strike, and it can have a pretty huge impact on the expectations other major school districts have on their new contracts in the future. 



Earlier this week, a cold front passed through, dropping our temps from the low 90's into the low 70's, with overnight lows getting down to the 40 range.  What this meant for me is that for the first time in about 4 months we turned off the overhead fan in our bedroom.  As the fan slowed to a stop, my wife and I were both quite disgusted by what we saw.

Oh my word...that's not a dust bunny...it's a dust bat that bas been flying through our room since May...yucky poo. 

It also might explain why I've woken up with a stuffed nose a few times in the last week. 

The good news is, it's all taken care of now.  Once my wife was aware there was a problem, she was all over it...all I had to do was mention millions of dust mites flying around over our bed...


I want to support the little guy, but...

For the last few days, I've been swinging through the local book stores, trying to find a copy of Monster Hunter Legion, and I have been coming up empty.  I've even gone into Hastings a few times, and it's not exactly a 'one-off' type of store.  They have some of Mr. Corriea's earlier books, just not his newest one.

This is distressing, because according to amazon, it's been available since September 4th.  I even went to Hastings webpage, and they said that MHL won't be available until the end of September! 


Larry's site has a link to his books on sale, so I might just break down and order it from someplace online....it will still get here before the end of September. 

Is that bias I smell?

Back in February, a State Police Trooper was killed near the town of Port Orchard during a 'routine traffic stop'.  That's a bummer, and the full force of the many police agencies worked on the case, with the suspect eventually using the gun on himself later on that day.

Today, the ATF released the results of their investigation into how a previously convicted felon could possibly get his hands on a firearm.  The result of their investigation was that our bad guy either got the gun from a gun show, or he inherited it from someone. 

That's not what you would think from the headlines in several newspapers in the area today, though.

Trooper's killer may have bought gun at show, records show

To be fair, with the exception of the Seattle Times, the newspapers in Washington ARE pretty 'fair and balanced' when it comes to firearm related stories...but in this case, it looks like they might be taking sides.


Nothing better to do...

Saturday afternoon, my wife headed to Safeway to pick up cheese and sour cream.  She came home with cheese, sour cream, and 16 pounds of meat.  She found value packs of ground sirloin BOGO Free, which made it $2.50 a pound, which isn't bad for 90% lean ground sirloin, AND she found 2 bottom round roasts on the use it before it kills you shelves that had been marked 50% off from an already decent sales price of $2.50 a pound.  $1.25 a pound is a great deal for ANY protein. 

Hey...those are great deals, but something needed to be done with all that meat.  While I have had my eye on craigslist for an extra freezer for the garage, none has caught my eye yet, meaning the only freezer space we have is the normal sized 'top' freezer in the kitchen, which is pretty full.  The immediate priority was the bottom roasts, which I decided would best be used by cubing them up into stew meat sized chunks and canned instead of trying to stuff them in the freezer.

The Before:
And the after:
Cubing the roasts was a bit of a pain, but it was my favorite kind of job, where it doesn't need to be pretty, it just needs to GET DONE.  Once it was cubed, I browned the outside, and packed it into jars.  I added enough water to the juices remaining in the pot to make enough broth to fill each jar about 2/3rds of the way, and processed them in the pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10+ pounds.  The end result is 5 pints of cubed beef for $1.70 a meal.  No need to talk about 'rice and beans ARE a complete protein' around here.

The ground sirloin was easier.  I just browned it up in batches, drained it, and packed 12 ounces into a ziploc freezer bag.  Pressed nice and flat we were able to find room in the freezer for 7 baggies. 

It kind of meant spending a number of hours in the kitchen on my Sunday, but I was able to get all that done and still keep an eye on the Patriots, AND got to two open houses with my amazing wife.


Still Harvesting

At the height of cherry tomato production, I was pulling 30-40 tomatoes a day out of the garden.  Stuff has slowed down a bit, and so I'm only harvesting every 2-3 days, but I'm still happy with the production I'm getting as we approach mid-September.

As you can tell, I'm the letting the zucchini get a little bigger than I did earlier in the season.  Those banana peppers are the start of a 2nd pepper harvest of my plants, so that is nice too. 
Not sure how much longer stuff will go.  It was pretty warm again this weekend...highs in the low 90's, with overnight lows in the upper 50's.  A front is supposed to pass through today, and Monday will see highs in the mid-70's, with overnight lows dipping into the 40's for the week ahead. 
What I really need to decide is how motivated I am to keep it going.  As my cherry tomatoes start to fade back a bit, I could use the stakes I put in to drape some plastic over the plants at night...try to hold in a few degrees overnight once we do start seeing low 40's, upper 30's.  Or I could just say I've had a pretty good first year and let nature take it's course.  

The first time should be special.

Last night was Family Movie Night.  We let the kids move their bean bags into the living room, fired up not one but TWO things of jiffy-pop(23 months without a microwave!) and started watching one of my favorite movies, Jurassic Park.

Before the movie even started, by older daughter was asking why it was called Jurassic Park if some of the dinosaurs were actually from the Cretaceaous Period.  I attempted to explain 'artisitic license' to her, but eventually my wife and I both agreed that the correct answer to most of her questions would be 'Because it's a movie, honey'.

I figured my girls would enjoy the movie...I mean, my younger one thinks dinosaurs are cool, while the older one is a certified dinosaur nut.  It was a good guess on my part, although I think one of my daughters favorite scenes was the actual paleontology dig at the beginning...'Daddy, they are looking for dinosaurs!'  I have tried to explain the ramen noodle eating, porta-potty using realities of being a paleontologist, but...hey, she thinks it's neat.  As she gets older, I might need to keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities so she can live the dream.

Back to the movie though, and my kids reaction to it.  There was a slight concern on my part that it might be too intense in some scenes for my kids, and there were several times when my 6-year old ended up with her head buried against my wife, a pose I remember from the first time I watched Poltergeist.  It was just blind luck that yesterday was also the girls first soccer games, and when it was time for bed, our youngest was so tired there was no 'I'm too scared' moments. 

While they both enjoyed it, and thought it was neat, I don't think they were as blown away as I was when I first saw it in High School....but, then I realized, they are spoiled. 

For me, prior to Jurassic Park, there was only Land of the Lost.  Going from Marshall, Will and Holly to what Spielberg did was...simply amazing, and mind blowing.  Thanks to THX, the theater shook when the T-Rex roared. 

My daughters have been fed fed themselves a steady diet of Walking with Dinosaurs type shows on Netflix for the last three years...and the CGI on those shows that they have come to accept as the 'norm' is pretty close to what Spielberg shocked us all with in the early 90's.

The end result was a good time had by all, with all 4 of us snuggled on the couch for about half the movie.  Plus, I now have my own DVD copy of Jurassic Park


Let the games begin!

My daughters had their first soccer game today, which meant I got to have my first game on the sidelines as a parent watching his kids play soccer, without trying to be permanently barred from being on the sidelines for every other game.

From that viewpoint is was Mission Completed.  I complied with the Parents Code of Conduct, which was pretty easy...I mean, which kind of parent(other than my mom with her thermos full of Kahlua fortified hot chocolate) drinks or swears at the referees of a 6-year old soccer game? 

The only rule I have see myself having a problem with is 'no extra coaching from the sidelines'.  Yelling encouragement is okay, but yelling at my 10-year old to get her ass in gear and ATTACK THE BALL is less okay. 

It's tough...neither of my girls has played soccer, organized or otherwise, prior to this year, and because I am an unrealistic person, I expect more from my 10-year old than I do from my 6-year old, even though she has played exactly 1 hour more of soccer to this point. 

At this point, the most important thing is that they both had fun today, and daddy didn't do anything to discourage them.  I just need to remember that I didn't have a killer instinct at 10...I really didn't come by that until 13 or 14...but it's still frustrating to watch my daughter wait for the ball to come to her instead of going and getting it.

Plus, there is the frustration of my daughters looking like they are growing up...with their pony tails and soccer outfits, they aren't my little babies anymore.

The day after

Date night with my wife last night was a pleasant experience, but after a little bit too much 'richness', I'm paying for it today.  It's not a hangover, even though my wife and I did splurge and split a whole bottle of 2006 Red Roan.  Without going into too much detail, my tummy just feels a little blah this morning...nothing a few tums can't help turn around, I hope.

We had dinner out on the patio, and it's the perfect time of year for it...we hit 90 yesterday in the Tri-cities, but we are in that time of year where you are only hitting that high for about one hour in the afternoon, then it starts cooling off again.  By 6:30 when our dinner started, it was back in the 70's, and by 8:30 when we wrapped up desert and coffee, it was 68, so...that's some good timing. 

Once again, without sounding too much like a pimp, just let me say that Tagaris is one of the two or three places you must visit if you come to the Richland, Washington area.  It's possible that dinner, for what you get, is a shade overpriced...but, their lunch menu, and 3-6 Happy Hour Deal are worth it.  During the summer they have bands playing on the patio, and most times, it's a fairly non-intrusive type band.  Last night was a perfect example, with the music provided by a band out of Bellingham named Polecat.  They call themselves Americana/Stomp-Grass...and what they were was perfect background music for an evening out on the patio...pleasant, and there, without being loud enough that you couldn't talk. 

After our nice dinner, during which we discussed many serious, child-free topics, we still had some time to kill, so, we headed to Barnes and Noble, because sometime kid-free shopping is the most romantic thing you can do.  That lead to the only real bummer of the evening for me, because I found out that B&N in Richland didn't have Monster Hunter Legion on the shelf yet...which makes sense, because according to Amazon it's not released until the 9th....but for some reason I was getting my hopes up.

Finally, I do need to indulge in a bit of bragging, because my wife looked smoking hot last night.  She continues to make progress on her diet, having lost 63 pounds.  Last night was a big night for her, because she was able to fit into a pair of jeans that she had set aside for 'someday when I lose the weight'.  Plus, because she is smarter/more disciplined than me, and didn't try to eat ALL of her appetizer, AND main course, AND desert, she still fits in them today, without feeling all bloated and blah!


Try again later.

My wife has lined us up a baby-sitter for the evening, and so the time I could spend here is being spent getting ready to take her to Tagaris Winery for dinner, music, and yes...some wine. 

Please try back later for a post which will not be as snarky nor as topical as I believe it to be through the wine induced haze under which I will be writing it. 


The Opposite of Gourmet

Taco Bell can barely be considered food...but sometimes, you are in the mood for barely food.  After reviewing their breakfast menu and finding it...lacking, I was eager to give them a chance to redeem themselves, and so I finally got to sink my teeth into their Dorito's Loco Taco.

It was really pretty good in that 'I know I'm taking 3 months off my life for every bite that I take' kind of way.  The Dorito's flavor goes perfectly with the fake taco meat in the shell...ummm...Yum!  I can certainly see myself pounding 5 or 6 of these after a night of drinking...

Luckily, my wife is there to make sure things like that don't happen. 

I call shenanigans!

I have now officially watched more of the DNC than I did of the RNC, but only because one of my buddies made me.  Even then it wasn't the real thing...it was simply a clip on yahoo that had caught my buddies attention, and he wanted someone to share his frustration with.

Back in 2008, the official Party Platform removed some phrasing about things being a 'God-Given Right' and softened some wording about Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel.  Today, the Democratic leadership held a vote to undo those changes from 2008, and well...it was interesting to say the least.

Because it's yahoo, I can't embed the video, I can only link to it...but it's an interesting two and a half minutes.  The video starts with The Chair(Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) approving a vote to allow the next vote, the one to change the Platform, to proceed as a voice vote, instead of a formal ballot vote.  Approval of a change requires a 2/3rd majority. 

Now...unless the acoustics are different in person than they were in the video...they didn't get a 2/3rds majority the first time they held the vote...and it caught The Chair totally by surprise.  Then...he held the vote a second time, and I think he was on the verge of saying the No's had it when someone I'm ashamed to admit I don't know stepped in and told him to do it again.  He did so, and despite the fact that it sounded EVEN less like there was a 2/3rd majority...but, he rolled right onto calling it motion passed.

You really have to watch the video...it's horrible.  It's not like I was going to vote Democrat anyways...but after seeing a railroad job like this, I was pretty disgusted.  I hope this pops up in the adds a few times over the next few months. 


Some stand-up folks.

A few weeks ago, while watching some refresher videos about different methods to field dress/bone out deer and elk, I became quite enamored with the Havalon Piranta skinning knife.  With it's replaceable blades, it was going through deer like butta'.  I had to have one, so I jumped onto amazon, and ended up ordering one.  It wasn't actually through amazon, but rather Santana Outdoors, which runs a storefront on amazon.

I made a mistake though.  While amazon kept my billing address the same as the last time I ordered something, it defaulted back to my old address in Belfair for shipping...and I didn't notice it.  So...my knife and a few other things I ordered went to Belfair, where my renter(now new owner of the house) didn't sign for them, so they went back to the retailer as undeliverable.

I didn't find this out until I decided to track the orders, and they showed up as 'delivered', at which point I finally looked at the shipping address, and had a major face-palm moment.  Amazon said since the knife was actually being shipped by another retailer, I had to deal directly with Santana to straighten things out.

Straighten things out they did.  After a few phone calls with the very polite Stephanie to explain my mistake, they dropped my knife back in the mail, without even charging me a 2nd round of shipping and handling, which I 100% expected to happen, and had been willing to pay without a struggle.

That's some pretty okay customer service, and yesterday, I got the knife in the mail.

Now I just hope I get a chance to use it in a month.


One Shot, One Kill

The Hero of today's Heart-Warming Story, is a True American Hero, one Earl Jones, of Verona, Kentucky. 

Having been the target of multiple burglaries in the past, Earl was ready the other night, and when a few young punks kicked in his door, he was waiting for them with his rifle.  One shot from his .22 was all it took to stop Bad Guy #1.  Bad Guy #2 and #3 at least showed some honor amoung thieves, extracting Bad Guy #1 from the hot LZ, and calling 911 for him as they ran away.  It turned out to not be enough, as Bad Guy #1 will never make that mistake again, as he ended up dieing from the .22 to the chest.

Now...did I mention that Earl, or more properly, Mr. Jones, is a 92-year old WWII Veteran? 

Way to go Earl...Your Country owes you again.

A glimpse of the possible

I had to visit the store yesterday afternoon, and I was surprised by how picked over some of the shelves looked.  You could certainly tell that it was the end of a long weekend without 100% of the usually scheduled deliveries, which is kind of scary. 

A common theme in a lot of TEOTWAWKI fiction is how quickly shelves will empty at the grocery stores...and it's easier to believe on days like today.  This was just a normal holiday weekend, with no special driver for intense shopping, and a lot of items were noticeably lacking.  For the most part it was 'fresh things'....dairy and bread...but the frozen items were picked down to about 50% also. 

Just an interesting real world reminder of why it pays to stock up...and that we are just 3 meals away from a revolution. 


A-scouting we will go.

With elk season a month away, I decided that it was time and then some to run up to the hills and see what I can see.  Getting up early head up scouting always sounds like a fine plan at 2 in the afternoon when you are working out details, but at 4am when your buddy shows up, well...sometimes you question your decision.

As far as scouting trips go, it was much less confidence inspiring than my deer scouting trip a while ago.  We saw about 20 elk, but they were right off Highway 410 eating alfalfa in a farmers field.  Up on Bethel ridge, the closest I got an elk was a shiny pile of poop.  We did see two nice looking mule deer bucks, but that was it for live animals.

I was stunned by how dry it was up in the hills.  Bethel Ridge is in the Eastern Foothills of the Cascades, and is a dry pine forest as opposed to the western 'wet' foothills...but there is usually at least some dew on the grass in the morning...but not today.  Bone dry and crunchy. 

My confidence for elk season would increase if there was about 2 inches of rain, and a 25 degree temperature drop in the next two months...


Technology to the rescue

Yesterday was September 1st, which just happened to be the day that the newest season of Doctor Who was premiering on BBC America.  The cable package we had initially signed up for didn't come with BBC America, which bummed my wife out a bit.  She wasn't very excited to have to wait a year for the newest season to show up on Netflix...and neither was I to tell you the truth.

Finally, last night, about 63 minutes before the show was supposed to start, my will broke.  I called up Charter and asked what it would take to add just the one channel, BBC America to our cable lineup. 

That resolve lasted about 13 seconds, when the nice lady told me on the phone that for only $10 more than it would cost just to add BBC America, I could add a whole new tier of channels, including the NFL Network.

Grrrr.  I'm so weak. 

My weakness isn't the scary part though...what is terrifying is that I had the new channels before I even hung up the phone...but then, I also had a happy wife.

I know, I missed the point of the story...again.

This past week, there has been a story out of Kopachuck Middle School about a kid who was hazed/bullied in class while the teacher looked on.  Luckily, in this modern day and age, some kids whipped out their cell phone to record it for history...which is why these folks got caught.

Now...as a former high school wrestler, sailor, and all-around degenerate...I have the very unpopular opinion(especially around my house) that there is nothing wrong with a little hazing.  I have been both the hazee and the hazer...and I think there is something to be said about the team building results of hazing.  The problem with hazing is the same problem as with 99% of the rest of the things in the world...some jack-ass will take it too far.


This is not hazing.  Hazing is something that occurs in a peer group among peers.  When people in a position of power lose their plausible deniabilty, or actively participate, as is reported to happen in this case, then it is bullying...or heck, even Harassment.  In this case, the school district found about it because kids were sharing the video...they investigated, and suspended him for 10 days. 

The kids parents are upset because they don't think it was enough...I think they are wrong...if this was the first serious blemish on his record, 10 days without pay sounds about right to me.  The truth is, they probably couldn't have gotten much more past the Teachers Union for a case with no permanent physical injury. 

I'm also somewhat lacking in sympathy because, at least in the quick clip posted with the article...the kid didn't seem to be struggling much.  If he was REALLY fighting back, like I did at that age when stuff like that happened, and the teacher was still letting it go...then bring the hammer down on him. 

Now on to what really caught my eye in the article...at one point, we are told that in 2010, the teacher, Mr. Rosi, had a base salary of $64,174, with approximately $10,000 more due to his duties as a wrestling coach.  My lightening quick math skills let me figure out that that is roughly $75,000 a year....which better than a sharp stick in the eye, especially when we keep hearing how underpaid our school teachers are. 

Okay...he has been doing teaching 14 years, so we can figure on a few pay raises...but that's still more than I was making after 14 years of experience as a qualified nuclear operator and maintenance technician. 

Actually...I change my earlier opinion about 10-days suspension being enough...high school wrestling does have quite the history as a bastion of hazing.  Given his tolerance of actions like this, he might need to lose that position of influence. 

UPDATE: As of Friday afternoon, the Penninsula School District has placed Mr. Rosi on paid leave until the Sheriff's Department completes an investigation to see if charges should be filed.  It seems a number of parents have been placing phone calls trying to pull their kids out of Mr. Rosi's classes. 


Because, in the end, you can't beat free with a stick.

On Thursday, one of my co-workers brought in a bag of peaches from the tree in his yard.  At the end of the day, as everyone was getting ready to go home for a 4-day weekend, the bag was still there, and since he said he had NO intention of bringing them back home, and no one else was gonna grab them, I did.

I guess there was about 6-7 pounds of peaches in the bag, and while they weren't the Alberta peaches my wife prefers to can, and a couple of them were pretty beat up...HELLO!  Did I mention the price?

All in all, because I had to do some pretty heavy cutting out of bruises, I ended up with only 3 pints...but, that's three pints of peaches that cost me NOTHING(well, I used about 2.5 cups of sugar to make the syrup)...and if I didn't grab them, they would have rotted away on the counter at work over the weekend. 

Glad that's finally over.

Not wanting to jinx anything, I haven't really done many updates on the status of our house for sale in Belfair.  The fact is, there hasn't been much to update.  We had a teasing 'this home sale thing is gonna be a breeze' offer in January of 2011 that fell through, and then a WAY low-ball offer that I said no to in August of 2011(of course, the sad thing is that 6 months after saying no to the low-ball offer, we lowered the price to that point anyway....the lesson, as always, this that I am an idiot).

Then, in March of this year, we had not one, but two offers, and we ended up accepting the one where the guy was willing to rent it from us during the extended closing period.  After missing the first closing date, I was a little worried...but I had faith.  It turns out the perspective buyer was the son-in-law of our real estate agent...that made our agent VERY motivated to make things happen. 

Then, last week, we got a bunch of closing paperwork in the mail.  My wife and I sat down with a notary and signed everything and got it back in the mail.  On Monday, we got in contact with our bank and wired away money that could have been used to pay cash for one of these instead. 

Finally, on Friday at 4:06 PM, after over 22 months on the market, we got the official call that we were NO LONGER HOMEOWNERS.

Because we haven't been living in the house, part of it doesn't feel real.  The good news, is we should be getting about half of what I had to send off for closing back...my company will reimburse me broker fees and taxes...but even so, we are taking a fair sized loss....but it should be worth it to not have to make a mortgage payment this month.

I'd like to say I'm going to go buy myself a new toy, but the first priority is the transmission on my F-150...it's had interesting problems with the overdrive for a while now...

And life goes on.