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


You missed a little high...

A positive gun story out of the Everett area, where a bystander got involved in a potentially dangerous situation, drawing his gun and firing a round to get a guy to stop chasing a woman with a knife.  Sadly, the shot he fired was into the air, and not the bad guy, but HE did put an end to the situation. 

Hey...the gentleman with the gun did the right thing.  He stepped in and prevented what could have been a rape, murder, or worse.  Plus, he is saying the right thing...by invoking that he was worried for the woman's life, he should be covered legally from drawing his gun.

The thing is, he would have been just as covered putting the round center-of-mass as he would have firing it into the air.  I wasn't there...one would hope that he was still in a position to permanently stop the bad guy if his warning shot hadn't stopped things. 

My biggest concern now is the bad guy.  The story says that the potential victim in this case made herself scarce.  Unless she comes forward again, it might prove difficult to get the maximum possible conviction against the bad guy. 


Wish it wasn't such a long drive.

I saw this story floating around on facebook following the recent gun buy back in Seattle, but I wanted to verify it before posting about it here.

  Seattle Gun BuyBack Get’s JACKED! Turns Into a Damn Gun Show! LOL

It turns out that it was true...as evidenced by this slightly less...boisterous headline from the local Fox affiliate. 

Gun buyback draws rival offers

Kickass.  If they did a gun buy back in the Tri-Cities, or Yakima, or even Spokane which is about two hours away...I would be there.  Can't see myself doing the 4.5 hours to Seattle...especially, because like one guy said, there are only SO many old .22 pump guns you can really use. 

I would just loved to have seen the steam rising off the Mayor's forehead when his Police Chief told him there was nothing he could do to stop it. 


Genre Jumper

As someone who 'came of age' in the 1990's, while I can't say I was a huge Hootie and the Blowfish fan, I did occasionally sing along with their music.

I can, however, say that I am an increasingly big fan of Darius Rucker, country artist. The fact that his first 4 songs all hit #1 on the country chart shows I am not alone.  He has a smooth, easy to listen to voice(his range is actually right in my karaoke wheelhouse) and, not to get all racial, but there is a void he is filling....Charlie Pride's last song that charted was back in 1988.

Darius once said he was looking to take a 3-4 album break from Hootie.  With his third album do out this year, I hope he decides to stick around a bit longer.


Quick...find a way to blame guns!

Wait a minute...you mean domestic violence situations can put people in the hospital...without using guns?

Two undergo surgery after knife slashings in Union Gap

Whatever...two things that stick out from this story is a reminder about how tough the human body is, and the fact that the victims were delivered to the hospital in a private vehicle, instead of an ambulance being called to the scene of the disturbance.  The female victim was described as being cut from ear to ear, and is still expected to survive, which is nice, but it still has me questioning just how much stuff you could(possibly) be doing wrong at your house that you would rather drive to the hospital instead of risking the police arriving with the ambulance. 

I did make sure to tell my wife that if my throat is ever cut to PLEASE call an ambulance, unless she needs to hide some kind of evidence first.

Dance 10, Looks 3.

See that...a musical theater reference.

Tried a new recipe for dinner last night.  Typically when I need to use up some ground turkey, it either goes into hamburger helper, taco's, or Turkey-Garbanzo Bean burgers.  Yesterday, I didn't feel like any of that though, so off I went to MY version of pintrest, Foodgawker, where I found this promising sounding recipe for Ginger Teriyaki Turkey Buns. 

Basically, it's a Chinese style sweet bun(that you would normally stuff with BBQ pork), and it's baked instead of steamed.  Ready, break.

They were pretty good...the kids really liked them, and my wife said she did.  Things weren't perfect though...for instance, mine didn't come out looking like the ones on the blog I got the recipe off of. 


I also must say I jimmied around with the 'sauce'. The recipe called for 4.5 times as much soy sauce as teriyaki sauce...and I have to believe that is backwards. After mixing it up the way it was presented, it was very strong. I added some more teriyaki, and then added a few spoonfuls of my wife's peach/strawberry jam and blended it up to bring some sweetness back.

So...on the looks, and one final warning. 

I'm not a baker.  I've had some success baking in the past, but occasionally, things still go wrong between dough and I.  The dough created by this recipe was a nightmare.  In fact, when I tired playing with the dough, this scene from Boondock Saints kept going through my head(yes, it's Boondock Saints, and they have potty mouths).

Playing with this dough, I felt like I had walked into an ambush, and yes...the was Armageddon in my kitchen.  I tried following the recipe , and kneading the dough by hand, but it was too damn sticky.  In fact, the first batch got thrown away because I noticed too much of the hair on my knuckles had ended up in it.  As Alton Brown would say, that's not good eats.

My spirit bent but not broken, I made a 2nd batch of dough(since I had the ground turkey waiting).  This time, I used the dough hook on my mixer, and I kept adding a little bit of dough until it looked like I could handle it.  I probably ended up adding an extra half cup of flour, and even this it was sticky, sticky, sticky.  I also learned that you should let the turkey cool a bit first, because hot, moist turkey causes the dough to fall apart.  And then you get mad, and just through the ball of dough/turkey on the cookie sheet anyways, which is what happened to the top right hand bun. 

In the end, it was a tasty meal...and I thick the flavor profile would work good with some swiss cheese and pineapple on a regular burger, but I'm not going to jump up and volunteer to make the 'buns' again soon. 


Well. That was...unanticipated.

When we did our final walk through with the previous owners the other night, they were still emptying the garage out into their u-haul, so last night was the first chance we had to see if they had left us any going away gifts.

Boy did they ever.

That is a Farrand Cecilian Player Piano. 
Ummm...yeah.  It's also right about where I thought the chest freezer was going to go when I was operating under the assumption that we were purchasing an empty garage.
What to do, what to do. 
My initial thought upon finding it was 'Man, it's going to take three men and a small boy to help get that thing into the back of my truck so I can bring it to the dump.'  Lacking data to make a decision(and not needing to make one RIGHT NOW), my wife and I shook our head and walked away, to do some research. 
For a while, it looked like we might have lucked into one of those 'happy stories' you sometimes see on Antique Roadshow.  In nice, restored condition, these type of player pianos can sell for $15,000-$18,000...and that is nothing to laugh at.
Reality though.  This one is not in NICE condition.  The wood looks okay, and but about half of the keys are frozen in place.  The same research that told me a nice one could be worth $15,000 told me that getting one into that shape could cost $6,000-$8,000. 
Hmmm.  So...invest $6,000-$8,000 to potentially show a $6,000-$8,000 profit?  Maybe, if the money was the only issue...but I'm someone who is going to be challenged to operate a stud finder and a cordless drill over the next week to mount some shelves in the girls room.  Restoring a player piano is a different story. 
For now...I don't know.  Restoring it looks like an option, but not a cheap one.  What I do know, is that there appears to be some value in the piano.  Whether it is cash value, or emotional value, or historical value, I'm not 100% certain.  I do know, that for now, I won't be bringing it to the dump.  If I decide I can make some money off it...I will.  If I decide that I can make a potential family heirloom out of it...I will.  I decide I an eek a tax deduction out of it by donating it to a local historical society, I will.  Heck...if I just at some point decide to give it away for free to a loving home that might do something useful with it...I will.  
All I really know is that for now it has earned a stay of execution.   


Keys, Please.

Well, it's happened.  Yesterday, we went and signed our closing paperwork for our new house, and this evening at 5:40 we, got the keys.

In a purely symbolic move, the first thing we moved into the new house was this:

Yes, it's a cactus...but it's special cactus.  Almost 12 years ago, this cactus was part of the centerpiece on our table our wedding reception.  I has survived being moved from Connecticut, to Washington, where it resided in Poulsbo, Silverdale, and then Belfair before we moved to Richland.  Over 2.5 years in Richland, it has been moved between 3 rental places, before now settling in at our new house...where hopefully it will stay for a few years.
We never meant to have to move 4 times in little over two years...it just kind of happened.  We knew the first apartment we rented in Richland was a stop gap...and then we became the victim of alternate bouts of hope and despair in the selling of our house which led us to move from one rental to another, until we found the house we wanted to buy, after almost giving up and deciding to keep renting another year.
The next few weeks promise to be busy...but it's one of those things I KNOW will be worth it in the long run.  


Never gets old.

There are many things in parenting that grow old and stale very quickly.  One of the things that I can do again, and again, and again is give my daughters a tough time for their improper use of 'Can I do X?' instead of 'May I do X?'

A typical scenario would play out like this:

Daughter: 'Dad, can I have a granola bar?'

Asshole Dad: 'Yes you can.'

Daughter then goes to the garage, and gets a granola bar, which she starts to open.

Asshole Dad: 'Whoa!  Wait a minute...what are you doing?!?!?!?'

Daughter: 'You said I could have a granola bar'.

AD: 'Yes...I said you could have one, meaning you were physically able.  You didn't ask if you may have one, meaning that you have permission.  Here...let me eat half of that granola bar to teach you a lesson.

I hope to be able to do this for about 10 years...

Happy Birthday.

On this day, 72 years ago, the world was blessed with the birth of the GREATEST singer/songwriter EVER, one Mr. Neil Diamond. 

I was lucky enough to get a chance to go to a Neil Diamond concert during one of his stops in Seattle.  My wife was a little less excited, but once she was there, she had a great time.  Back then I was in my early 30's, and while I was in the 'younger than average' age group of those present, I wasn't the youngest(and neither was my wife). 

There is just something about Mr. Diamond.  You want to say he's nothing more than a lounge singer with his shiny shirts...but it's not that...it's like he's The King of Lounge singers...and his songs actually mean something.

And once upon a time, he was cool. 

How cool?  Here is a video of him and Johnny Cash chilling before a song(From FOURTY TWO years ago!!!!!!).  How much cooler can you get than that?



Confession time.  I'm a sucker for magic.  Whether you want to call it slight of hand with cards, dice or balls or illusion, or just plain magic...I can't get enough.  I think it might have something to do with my sausage like fingers...I'm jealous of folks who are able to do that kind of manipulation.

My current 'guilty pleasure' is a show from Britain, called Penn and Teller: Fool Us.The point of the show is to have a bunch of magical acts come in and try to fool Penn and Teller. If they succeed, then they get to go to Las Vegas and open for Penn and Tellers show at the Rio. What's nice is that Penn and Teller are very positive on the show, and go out of their way not to give anything away, so the folks can keep using their act.

Can't believe the British were trying to hide this from us.  The trick above happens to be my personal favorite, so far. 


It's a major award!

So, due to the fact that I long ago mastered my 'Don't I Look Concerned Face' back when I was in the Navy, a few of my employees at work submitted me for a safety award.  There were a few things to choose from, and I selected a hydration backpack.

Now...it didn't come with the smiley face stickers...those are covering the company logo printed on the backpack, at my wifes recommendation, as I occasionally make less than 100% complimentary comments about the way things go at work.

Sometimes, that smart wife knows better than me.

Anyway...I couldn't find a brand name, so it's not a Camel Back in Disquise...and it's not big.  This isn't a full size backpack that happens to have a bladder, it's a bladder backpack that happens to have a little storage.  That can still come in handy around here.

It looks very usefull for hiking/scouting during summer and early fall.  It would be nice to have 2 liters of water, and there is enough storage for all the things you should bring in the woods with you....firestuff, flashlight, TP, some rations in the side pouchs, while the main pouch is big enough for a warmer pair of socks, and some type of tightly rolled up jacket or fleece.

So, it's not a bug out bag, but I do see it coming in handy.


It's just a game.

A tail of two afternoons yesterday.  I camped out at the house, watching my beloved New England Patriots go down in flame, while my wife went out to what was supposed to be a '1950's themed Tea Party Bridal Shower'. 

I'm going to come out and say that I don't know if there is a less important thing than football that a LOT of people(not just freaks like me) allow to have a serious impact on their mental state.  I still remember back in the 2007 season, when the Patriots went 18-1.  I was watching the Superbowl at home, and it was late in the game when David Tyree made the fatefull 'Helmet Catch'.  My wife, who had been paying minimal attention to the game(I think she had been crafting in a different room) picked that minute to walk in and ask me how the game was going.

I yelled at her.  I think it was something stupid about how that catch wouldn't have been made if she hadn't walked in to the room with her negatives vibes.  Yeah...yelled at me wife over a game.  To her credit, she just turned around and walked out of the room, and waited until later to discuss the issue with me, but...I yelled at my wife over a game. 

You know how my life would have been better if the Patriots won in 2007(or last night)?  I would have been able to go to work and give a little grief to fellow sports fans instead of taking some grief.  That's it.  It's a game.  Yes, it's a billion dollar business, but it's also a game. 

I take it better now.  That 2007 Superbowl was probably the worst I've ever been...but I still spent most of the 2nd half in a funk yesterday, as the game got away from New England.  However...I still smiled at my daughters when they came into the room to give me a hug.  I didn't throw anything.  Most important, when my wife came home from her bridal shower with 10 minutes in the game, and New England falling short...she got a hug, a kiss, and a smile. 

I was going to say that my wife makes a pretty fair consolation prize...but let's face it...even if the Patriots had won, the Lombardi Trophy wasn't going to come home and smile at me.


Blown Away

I haven't always been Blown Away(see what I did there?  That's the name of her newest song!) by Carrie Underwood.  Oh...I didn't mind her, and I thought a few of her songs were catchy, but I tended to lump her in with the other pretty young blondes(Taylor Swift, Kelly Pickler, Laura Bell Bundy, and more recently Julieane Hough/Hayden Panettiere) who were competing to be the heir to Faith Hill's throne...pretty blond girls who can sing, but really no different than the 100's of others of pretty blond girls who just hadn't been lucky enough to be discovered.

This always put Carrie, in my mind at least, a tier below Miranda Lambert, who just had the sass to pull herself above that group of girls.  Miranda was herself, Carrie was doing stuff a large number of girls could do, given the chance. 

Yeah...I'm sure she was laughing all the way to the bank about my opinion of her.

Recently though...I've changed my mind.  A few bored days putzing around on youtube lead to me watching more than a few live performances of Carrie, and that girl can flat out sing, and she holds up live better than most.

It's caused me to rethink Carrie's place in the world of Country Music.  She has been the biggest female name in country the last two years or so, and I don't see anything really changing that.  Her ceiling has changed from the next Faith Hill, to maybe somewhere in between Barbara Mandrel and Dolly Parton.  Yeah...I'm that impressed by her. 


Searching for nuggets.

A few days ago, Borepatch offered up an observation on the human condition.  More than looking for answer to the posed question, he was just looking to drive home the fact that most of are carrying around computing power and access to information that would have been unimaginable in the 1950's.  Heck...it would have seemed pretty unimaginable to me in the 1980's, when I was happily playing Lunar Lander on a green screened Commodore 64. 

And we just take it soooo much for granted.  The most constructive things I typically use my phone for is looking up recipes while I'm at the store, and using IMDB to play the 'How Old is That Celebrity' game.  Even at home with the computer or Kindle Fire at my disposal, there isn't much research done.

Part of that, though, is the difficulty of actually trying to USE the internet for doing useful research.  Yes...'the entirety of information known to man' might be out there...but you have to work to find the useful stuff.  Even the most innocent of search terms can lead one into a morass of naughty things, which is bad.  Almost as bad is narrowing down your search enough to avoid that, but then just encountering a trail of links, and broken links that don't get you to exactly what you want...or references a wikipedia page that you aren't certain you want to trust or not. 

Case in point.  One of the things my wife and I want to do to our new house Sooner Rather Than Later, is install a few fruit trees in the back yard.  With me not knowing much about fruit trees other than their goal in life is to grow fruit, I thought I would take advantage of a quiet afternoon to research things on the internet. 

I was eventually able to be specific enough that I found the WSU Extension office page, but even then, most of the good stuff was a few blurbs that led to their page selling pamphlets.  Time wise I probably would have been WAY better off driving to the library and doing some hands on research.

They frown on you doing that in your underwear though.

Sarcasm for the win!

So, I'm not going to say that wolves are a problem here in Washington, but they are a concern, and increasingly an issue.  Part of the reason for that is while wolves are becoming quite established in the Eastern part of the state, they haven't really made the jump over the Cascades yet...but the states Wolf Managment plan requires wolves be treated as endangered until they are established in all eight of the states regions...and let me tell you, it's going to be a while before wolves naturally end up in the Olympic Mountains or San Juan Islands.

It leads to the same kind of problems you see with wolves on a national level...the folks in the big cities who get to see wolves on TV think they are cute and need to be protected from the hill-billy redneck farmers, who just need to learn to get along with Nature. 

In an effort to share the love, Washington State Representative Joel Kretz, of Wauconda(north central part of the state...kind of Wolf Central), has introduced a bill that would allow the Fish and Wildlife Department to 'tranlocate' wolves that trapped from the East side of the State to the West side.  Currently, when wolves are trapped, they are tagged and relesed in the same area.

“If wolves are so wonderful, I don’t think we should be hoarding them in my district,” he said.

Frickin SWEET.  That is some snark I can get behind...as is this:

The entire state would “enjoy the re-establishment of this majestic species,” the bill says.

Strangely, when Representative Kretz asked for co-sponsors of his bill from the West Side of the state, he got no takers.

Now...even Mr. Kretz himself doesn't expect his bill to go forward, but he hopes it paints a picture and builds support for another bill he plans to introduce which would allow Eastern/Western Washington wolves to be treated differently, removing wolves from the endangered list in Eastern Washington. 

Even though he's not my representative, I still think I might sit down and write a quick letter to Rep. Kretz, congratulating him on his exceptional wit. 


My muse, my muse!

Sorry folks, my apathy, it doth run deep and swift today.  There is no news which inspires me to rant and rave.  Normally, this ould be the situation where I would post a picture of my cats or kids doing something cute, but I will spare the internet that today. 


It's the kids.

I've been trying to read a few stories about the Presidents big 'Gun Control Propositions' speech today, so I can form a real opinion about things...and all I keep coming back to is The Kids. And The Letters from The Kids. 

I just have a hard time believing those letters are not the result of prodding...either by parents, or teachers, and I'm more than half tempted to have my kids sit down and write letters to our representatives asking them not to render their daddy helpless by taking away his guns. 


As far as the talking points themselves, I guess I'm one of those people who has fooled himself into thinking that it could have been worse.  I don't find any of the proposed Executive Orders(at least as I understand them) to be onerous...and one or two of them I can actually get behind.  As for the actions which will require congressional action...I kind of had a giggle earlier as I poked around Claire Wolf's site, where someone opined that 'right now you couldn’t get both houses of Congress to agree on a nonbinding resolution in praise of baseball, motherhood, and apple pie — let alone an actual law against guns.'

True, true.  Of the two main poop sandwich's that Obama threw at Congress, I think there is slightly more chance of the increased background check proposal making it through Congress than a new Assault Weapons ban. 

From talking to some gun owners at work, if the Administration and Congress are smart enough to split things up, I'm not sure 'closing the gunshow loophole' will meet with as much vitriol and gnashing of teeth as trying to push an AWB through.  These aren't your 'I dont need that AR to hunt ducks!' guys either...they are just scared that if we fight the political battle, we might lose both the fights, so maybe we give in on background checks to keep them off the AWB.

That's what I've always described as 'throw the fat kid off the sleigh to distract the wolves' thinking.  At the risk of opening myself up to criticsm, I'll come out and admit I personally wouldn't be offended if they increase the background check requirements...i just hate the 'slippery slope' reality of it all.  If you give up and roll over on background checks now, then two years from now, what are you going to give up to distract the wolves from a new AWB?


Closing date set!

Focusing on the good news first(while I mentally wrap my mind around Barry's performance today), around about lunch time today, I got a call from our mortgage guy, who said that our loan was all approved and underwritten, and that he had left messages with both real estate agents to set up the closing date on our house purchase.

This is good news.  My wife is fairly chomping at the bit.  Most of her nightly activity involves looking at decorating ideas on pinterest, and then staring blankly off into space while she tries to picture it in the new house.  With me getting the call at 11 about setting a closing date, my wife's answer on 'When to close' would be 'anytime after 1:30 this afternoon!' 

It won't be that soon though.  The sellers, residing 'out of town' now, will be in town next week, so the closing date is set for next Thursday, the 24th.  That will then give us a little over a month to get moved, as our lease on this rental house is up at the end of February.

After some initial consternation about the vastly increased paperwork burden and financial disclosures required to purchase a house in 2012-13 vs. 2004, things have gone pretty smooth.  The home inspection findings were minor and all were fixed by the seller, and we are actually paying less than originally agreed upon.  The VA appraisal put the value at $3500 less than we had originally signed papers at, and so the sellers agreed to drop the price.  That was cool, and one of those 'you don't know what will happen until you ask deals', because we were willing to make up the difference out of pocket if needed.  But, I'm very glad it wasn't needed. 

Now we can spend that money on a new couch!  Yay!



Waste of a perfectly good half of a state...

I like central New York.  Thanks to the Navy and Puget Sound Shipyard, I have spent roughly a year and a half in the Saratoga Springs area, and while it isn't Washington, it's plenty pretty, and I really like the 4 seasons nature of the area. 

For a long while, the power plants on Lake Ontario, around Oswego and Rochester, were high on my list of employment alternatives if circumstances ever chased me out of Washington.  I would much rather have lived in Central/Western New York than the alternatives of Illinois or Ohio.  Ick.

It's sad day though, as New York prepares to pass what I would classify as a draconian new gun control law.

Holy Moly...if I read that right(which is always a concern in the way some news articles are written), would render any rifle possessing even ONE 'military rifle feature' an Assault Weapon.  What I can't find out is if it would render all those pistol grip turkey shotguns assault weapons. 

Let's see...background check for sales of 'assault weapons' to any non-family members.  SEVEN round magazine limits instead of 10, with one year to sell your higher capacity magazines to folks out of state(anyone interested in selling me their magazines, drop me an e-mail) and even stricter punishments for shooting a first responder. 

Now...New York was already a pretty tough place as far as gun laws...but this is a horrible example of how they can force gun control through on a state level.  New York City, Chicago, Boston...and yeah, even Seattle out here have such a HUGE effect on state politics.  Washington's Legislature just started it's session today, but don't think I'm not keeping a sharp eye out on introduced legislation.  It's probably worth writing a few preemptive letters to state level folks...


Proof of concept.

More baking.  But this time, it smells like victory! 

As I thought, the toughest part was getting the 'dough ropes' rolled out.  I think I went a little light on my water(or a little heavy on the flour)...my dough was a little dry, and somewhat 'tough'.  It was very resistant to rolling and stretching into ropes.  I had to do it in stages, letting it the gluten 'rest' for a bit before I got it to the right length.

After that, the braiding itself wasn't that tough...way easier than working with my daughters hair. 

The finished product was tasty.  A little denser than some other challah, but man, it was good with dinner(venison back back-strap and red beans and rice).  There is still about half a loaf left.  If it still exists after dinner tomorrow, maybe I'll make it into french toast for desert. 

The recipe I used is from this site, and now that I have done it, I might mess with it a bit next time...maybe some cinnamon, or raisins.  Or both.  

That's disappointing.

Baking.  Sigh.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how my wife went through a local at the food co-op  to custom order a few loaves of Challah Bread, which is The Best bread for french toast.  The bread was very good, but the punch line was that she forgot to ask price prior to ordering, and in the end she got two small loaves and two larger loaves, with the average per price loaf being $7.50. 

Ouch.  Hey...the bread was good, it was a custom order the baker doesn't usually make.  I have since been to the co-op and seen the price of this guys other breads, and...I guess the organic baking business is not a cheap one to be involved in.  Not so much 'angry' and 'taken back and slack-jawed with surprise'.

So...I'm sitting around on a Saturday night with a bee in my bonnet, and I decide to start looking at just how tough challah bread is too make.  The answer is...not too tough.  Really, braiding the dough ropes appears to be the toughest part of the job.  I'm willing to at least give it a try. 

To save time Sunday, I made up the dough before going to bed Saturday, and placed it in the fridge to rise overnight, which is EXACTLY what I did the night before Christmas to save time on making some of Brigid's Best Rolls in the World

The frustration comes from the fact that when I woke up Christmas morning there was a wonderfully raised bowl of dough in my fridge, while this time around, nothing had happened. 

Grrr. Now...they are different doughs.  I'm not enough of a baker to know if maybe the eggs in the challah dough would mean no risey-risey in the fridge, but...the end result is, since I told my wife what I was doing, I'm not forced to make up a 2nd batch of dough and wait for it to rise on the counter like NORMAL folks, which further means I will frantically be trying to braid it during half-time of the Patriots game later.


I chose poorly...

Very cool story from the Everett Herald about the Washington State DOT crews that use surplus M60 tanks to help keep Stevens Pass open for the winter.  The problem isn't so much the snow that falls on the roads, it's the snow that falls on the slopes over the road, which can cause avalanches that will block the roads.

Picture from the Everett Herald Story
I totally blame my guidance counselor for not telling me you could get jobs like this working for the DOT.  That's WAY cooler than holding signs during road work.  Oh sure, it's not all fun...you have clean two feet of snow off the tank first, and you need to make sure you clean up your brass when you are done...but that certainly looks like a 'whistle while you work' type of job.  


Glad I'm in the protected 'middle class'.

I pay attention to the news, so I was fully aware heading into this week that the Bush era 'payroll tax' cut was expiring, pushing the social security tax rate from 4.3% to 6.3%.  I just wasn't aware(since I was too lazy to do the math) what 2% would look like on one of my checks.  Two percent doesn't sound like much, but, um, yeah...you can see it.

Just glad I don't have to worry about being one of those 'rich' folks they are really going to stick it too...

You aren't gonna ruin this for me!

Last night the wife had her monthly bunco party, so I took the girls out for dinner.  We don't do this every month(sometimes we stay home and have pancakes, out of concern for the budget, plus the girls LOVE pancakes). 

Anyway, there we were at Atomic Ale, which, all in all, is my favorite place to eat in Richland, splitting a cheese pizza and a HUGE bowl of the best potato soup in the world.  My older daughter looks at the glass of Dunkelweizen, she asks 'Daddy, what's in beer'.

Seizing upon this 'teaching moment', I proceed to tell her how beer is made.  When I'm all done, she kind of looks suspicious for a moment, before dropping this bomb: 'So....beer is made of yeast poop?'

No, no, no.  I tried to tell her it's more like yeast burps than yeast poop, but I think it's already confirmed of lot of things she thinks about her dad...


I don't know much...

I'm neither a psychologist or a trained 'social engineer', and I don't know where this whole gun control push is going to end, BUT I do know that V.P. Biden's casual comment that the Administration hasn't ruled out acting on their own, could be really, really bad.

"The president is going to act," Biden said to reporters before the meeting. "There are executive orders, there's executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet.”

We don't know where things are going, and I am not sure whether the NRA's involvement will be good or bad, but I do know any kind of Executive Order effecting firearm/ammunition access would be bad.

Look....I know that any type of political action effecting the 2nd ammendment would be bad....but there is bad, and there is BAD.  A renewal of the 1994 AWB would be bad, and I have contacted my legislators and asked them to not support it, but it wouldn't be BAD.

Now, bringing back the AWB through Executive action, or expanding on it the 94 AWB through legislative action(one plan called for grandfathering exisiting guns, but then requiring they be registered) would be BAD.

The difference between bad and BAD?  Anticipated violence.  I don't want to see the AWB brought back...but I lived through it once.  Yeah, it will suck paying more for existing uppers with flash suppresors and 30-round magazines, but BTDT.

However....going much beyond the AWB, or make some kind of Executive Order, and folks are going to react.  Going that direction is too much like the plot set-up of some books I've read....and I'm not the only one who has read those books.

Now, to be clear, I'm not advocating violence...I'm just saying that I DO believe that there are many people out there who believe the original intent of the 2nd Ammendment was to protect the people from a tyranical government, and that passing anything more restrictive than the 94 AWB would be the first step of that tyranny.  Not all of the people believing that are crazy, either.  It's just that everyone has their line...

I'm married with a wife and kids, and a pretty secure job.  My line is probably at a different place than it used to be, and it's probably not tied to an AWB...but I hope someone is trying to make the Government believe that unlike 1994, this time, there might be lines drawn in some peoples minds over this issue.


Sweet translations.

Had a pretty poopy day at work today.  So poopy that my 'must eat something bad for you' jones was acting up.  I crushed it down though, and by the time I made it home, the jones had shifted from something bad for me, to something baked and sweet...and it wasn't going away.

Foodgawker to the rescue!  A quick search for easy deserts revealed this tasty little recipe for Chocolate Muffins with Peanut Butter

But, to my horror, the website with the recipe was in Polish!  Luckily, it was internet technology to the rescue!  Near the bottom of the right hand sidebar, there is a button you could click on to translate....but I still had to do some math to translate ml into cups for measuring milk and oil.

The only problem I had(and it didn't effect the flavor) was that the peanut butter didn't wamt to stay on the bottom like it did on the Polish website.  I'll just have to try it againand again until I get it right.

I don't deserve her.

Had the following conversation in the kitchen with my daughter last night shortly after our not a quite a kitten anymore jumped up on the counter and knocked the bin of cat food off onto the floor.

Me(As I'm sweeping things up):' @*$*#in' cat.'

Older Daughter: 'Dad, does this mean we are going to get rid of Dahlia?'

Me: 'Probably not, I might use her as bait for coyotes'.

Older Daughter: 'Oh.  Can I go hunting with you when you do?'


You forgot the important details!!!!

Sad story today out of rural Eastern Oregon.

Beer truck crashes on icy Oregon highway

Glad the driver was okay, but how can the story fail to mention ANYTHING about the beer?  What brand?  Was it cans or bottles?  Did any of it survive?  If it survived, can I buy it for a discount somewhere?

Listen here, fine people at KVAL News...next time don't forget to talk about the important stuff.


Too much stupid for 1 story

I'm not even sure where to start on this story out of Colorado, about the folks who are going to hold a candlelight vigil for an elk that was shot by an on-duty police officer.

Okay, that's lie, because in the middle of a sea of stupid, THIS stuck out:

 "I don't see a whole lot of difference between the shooting of this defenseless elk and the shooting of school children in Connecticut," one vigil attendee told KCNC.

Stop.  Just stop.  I've read a lot of dumb things in my life, but that has got to be the dumbest.  No wonder there is no one's name attached to that quote...saying you don't understand the difference between shooting an elk and a kindergartner is a good way to end up the most hated person in America.

After that, the fact that people are having a vigil for an elk hardly looks stupid at all. 

But, shooting an elk in a neighborhood and having one of your buddies through it in the back of his truck is pretty stupid too...especially when you think you can get away with it because you are a cop.  What this guy did was poaching...there is not other word for it. 

The Police Chief already said they didn't follow the 'protocol', which is spokespersonese for 'you are going to be hung out to dry.'

At least someone accomplished something...

I had a very slug like weekend.  Not sure why...maybe it's the realization that after a few slow 'Holiday' weeks at work, it's Back On this Monday. 

Okay...that's a lie...there is a big reason why...the NFL playoffs started this weekend, and I'm lying to myself if I think next weekend, with my beloved New England Patriots playing will be any different.

Luckily though, my wife was not lacking in motivation.

Operating under the assumption that our house purchase should go through, she is busy packing, and piles of boxes are showing up all over the place.  It makes life a little more difficult now, but it's worth it because it means there is less chance of my wife running around with her hair on fire the week before we move. 

It also means with her yarn all gathered up in one place, she's not allowed to make fun of the space 'all my gun stuff' takes up.


Like peas and carrots.

More than once over the past year or so, I have expressed my appreciation of brother/sister country newcomers The Band Perry.  What it really comes down to is, those kids can sing.

I also like the musical styling of the late, great Freddy Mercury and Queen, so when in the course of an hour wasted clicking my way from video to video on youtube, I came across this video, I was enthralled.

Glad to know the brothers can sing.  On their first CD, Kimberly sings lead on all the songs, which isn't bad, because she rocks, but I'm glad to see her brothers can do more than just sing backup.  It's also really neat to see them having so much FUN.  Their enthusiasm helps drag the crowd in. 


The Dresden Files

So, a few days ago I used the fact that my wife had bought me the first 4 books of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series as an excuse for low blog output, and promised a review of the books to make up for it.

I'm generous like that.

First off, it IS a series, and the stories build upon on another.  Because my wife rocks, she actually, you know, talked to someone at our local book store, and asked if the reading order was important.  The valued employee said that they could be read in any order, but for the best experience, you should read them as released. 

I agree.  I think if you read them out of order, there is enough story there you would get something out of it, but there would also be a few statements he makes that you would just have to take on faith, without actually getting anything out of it. 

For those who know nothing about the series, it follows the exploits of on Harry Dresden, professional wizard and private investigator in an alternate Chicago where there are all manner of supernatural creatures about.  Vampires, werewolves, Sidhe(fairies), ghosts and many other things that I'm sure I haven't been exposed to yet. 

Live as a PI and the only wizard in the phone book is not all fun and games for Harry.  He had a rough upbringing, nearly being killed by his mentor, before killing him, and as such he is constantly questioned and under watch from the ruling council of wizards, who don't trust him.

Life likes to poop on Harry....a lot.  While he is a powerful wizard, he is regarded as nothing more than a fake and charlatan by most of the population, unless his help is needed. 

It's a good series so far...not literature by any means, but what they would describe as a 'rollicking good ride!'.  They are fast reads...usually by the time you get halfway through the book, you don't want to put it down.  As I stated, I got the first four books for Christmas and had them read 8 days later.  I wanted to make them last longer, but it was tough to 'savor' it.

All in all, I would compare the books very favorably to Mr. Correria's writing style, with the feel probably closer to his Spellbound series, even though the Dresden Files are set in the here and now...they just both have that 'gritty' feel.

Negatives?  Yeah....and this just might be me.  For a PI, Harry doesn't always seem to do a lot of investigation.  I mean, he starts trying to investigate, but after talking to 1 or 2 folks, but for the most part, he solves his problems by the 'shake things up' method...after asking a question or two, and usually ignoring a warning to 'just stay out of it', the bad guys try to take Harry out, helping him figure out just who is behind his problems.

I don't know...maybe most detective fiction is that way.  I must admit, reading about Harry getting out of trouble is more exciting than reading about him accessing the DMD database for license plate information. 

On the good side, one of the things I really like is that Harry doesn't always win.  He usually solves his main plot point in each book, but because the series is built for the long haul, it's not always a happy ending.  There are several 'Empire Strikes Back' moments, where Harry ends up worse than when he started, so that is neat...it keeps things from being too predictable. 

If you enjoy sci-fi/fantasy at all, these are worth reading.

The worst part for me, it is that I have completed the books on hand.  Now I can start keeping my eyes out for the next book in the series at the local used book stores.  Or wait until my wife reads the 4 we've already got so I can justify spending the cash to buy book 5 new, since it's for 'the both of us.' 


I didn't know Groundhog Day was a horror movie...

After a few days reflection, I guess that's how I feel about the 'deal' reached by Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff.  Although, you can only really use the term 'deal' in the same manner that your doctor tells you 'this won't hurt if you just bend over and relax'.

Truthfully...even as a tea party wannabe libertarian, I'm not mad at the Republicans for agreeing to increase taxes on folks making more than 400K(single)/450K(married).  Heck...I wouldn't have been mad at them for increasing taxes on people making greater than 200K, or even 100K.  Finally...I would go out on a limb and say I wouldn't care about them increasing the tax rate on every American out there, IF...IF they had made spending cuts equal to the tax increases. 

I've said before that this hole is too big to fix through spending cuts alone.  It's also too big to fix from jacking up tax rates on 'the rich'...or all Americans.  It's going to take a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, maybe even something outside the box like a national sales tax, to make progress.  And yeah...it's going to be painful...for everyone.  There is no way around it.  We, as Americans, let it happen, often times cheering when the money was directed to things that WE approved of, while cursing the 'other guy' the next Legislative district over. 

In the end, we didn't avoid the 'fiscal cliff', Congress just put the car in neutral so we are coasting towards two months down the road.  We got some tax increases, but no real cuts...and the increases don't do anything to stop the debt problem.  I've seen that they are projecting somewhere around 600 Billion in new tax revenue, over a 10 year period.  That number sounds huge....but in reality, if we had that $600 Billion RIGHT NOW, it would still only decrease the amount of new debt, for this year alone, but 50%.  It would do nothing to effect the balance of our outstanding debt.

Maybe, this is for the best.  With this 'solution' allowing for tax increases, perhaps when the new Congress struggles to find someway to kick this problem further down the road in a few months, some automatic spending cuts can kick in, and we'll actually see the debt numbers go down...


Blame my wife...

Sorry, things have been a little light around here since the beginning of the year.  Had to actually go in to work a few days this week, and then some of my spare time at home has been taken up by things like packing, and staring with slack-jawed astonishment at the whole 'fiscal cliff non-solution'. 

To top it off, my wife got me the first 4 books of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series for Christmas, and I have fairly devoured all four of those so far.  A full review will be forthcoming, but one may safely assume that if I have read all 4 books in less than 10 day that the review will be generally positive. 


Unlike The Macarena...

Some things never get old or go out of style.  The Beattles, Neil Diamond, a great bacon cheeseburger, and Ford Bronco's...I'll never get tired of them.

While watching the Rose Parade this morning with my daughters, I was reminded of something else that never gets old, even though it's the same every time...

Service members surprising their families when they don't expect it.  I mean, it's always the same...surprised looks, and them smiles and tears...a little boy or girl running in for a hug.  As as many times as I have seen videos of it happening at school, or football games, or on Santa's lap, or today when dad hopped off a float at the Rose Bowl Parade, it always gets a little dusty in whatever room I'm in.