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


Old enough to know better

With the recent passing of my 38th Birthday(and the news that one of my uncle's diabetes has gotten bad enough he might need toes cut off), I've decided to get a little serious about my health again.

In a major step for me, I got rid of the jar of bacon grease I keep in the fridge, and I started bringing stuff to work so I could work out during lunch.  We don't have a huge workout area for our team, but there are two stationary bikes(one of them recumbent) and an elliptical machine.  With those few choices, it's kind of up to random chance which machine I get to use on a given day.

The two times I have used the recumbent bike, I have been left hurting, by something goofy going on in my left hip.  I'm fairly fine on the bike, but once I'm done...doing any kind of pivoting on my left leg leads to some pain and weakness...almost like my hip wants to 'pop' out of socket.  It's distracting, to say the least.

So obviously, the bacon grease has been acting as some kind of lubricant for my hip joints all these years, and I need to cook about 3 pounds of bacon up this weekend to jumpstart my collection again...

Oh, my wife had some other ideas, but I think I might try mine first.


It's not just for survival.

Many months ago, my wife picked up a selection of powdered products while out shopping(I believe it was Wal-Mart.  One of the cans she purchased was the Provident Pantry Peanut Butter Powder.  Out of curiosity, I opened it up, and followed the instructions to mix up some instant peanut butter. 

I was unimpressed, and the mostly full can went up into the cabinet, until I was frustrated one day at how tough it was to fold peanut butter into pancake batter to make chocolate chip peanut butter pancakes for the kids.  The next time around, I tried adding in some of the peanut butter powder, and just slightly increasing the amount of water that goes in the recipe.

Eureka!  I wouldn't dream of going back to doing it the other way. 

It's also great mixed into the protein shakes my wife drinks, and we will probably lay in a few more cans just for baking and kitchen use, and I might even order up some of the honey powder for use in baking also. 


Keeping yourself safe.

One of the things that has always been stressed in the many, MANY hours of casualty response and first aid training I have had to sit in over the course of my career is that you need to evaluate the scene and ensure you are safe to respond, before you just create another victim.

Sadly, it seems one lady in Kennewick might not have gotten that advice.

Kennewick woman who stopped to help motorist dies in collision

So yeah...very sad, and in fact, different than I had heard it on the radio on the way home.  Sounds like she had already stopped to help, and was trying to pull a u-turn back out into traffic when she got hit. 

It still doesn't change the basic message...aware, aware, aware. 

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2013/05/28/2411827/kennewick


That's a bold statement.

I believe that yesterday, I found what might have been the perfect bowl of chili. 

If you are someone who likes beans in their chili, then the chili from Shrub Steppe Smokehouse Brewery is not for you, as it is completely lacking in beans. 

Shrub Steppe is a rather new place, opening back at the end of February.  What's nice is that unlike White Bluffs Brewing(which makes a tasty beer), they are also a restaurant, so I can bring my wife and kids, not that I have yet. 

Anyway...back to the chili. 

Meat, meat, and more meat.  I'm not sure if they use leftovers from the previous day(which is what I would do) or if they just make a little extra each day to go in the chili, but the chili serves to function as almost a sample platter for what meats they have that day. This particular chili had plenty of pulled pork, smoked sausage, smoked brisket, and some diced smoked pork loin.  I think there were also a few peppers in it, and maybe a bit of tomato, but not much.  The chili(as befits a smokehouse in the wimpy Northwest) is not too spicy, but has flavor to spare. 
As a quick lunch(combined with a pint of their Very Bad Kitty Lager) is not bad.  Price wise, it's not too much more expensive than say, a combo meal would be at Wendy's or Dairy Queen.  Lunch at one of those places can just about destroy a $10 bill anymore...might as well spend the extra $1.50 to support the local folks.  And have a beer.  And a bowl of some great, great chili.  


A day early

So, I guess I played my Memorial Day hand a day too soon,  but I did have a nice Sunday visiting with a Veteran, my father.  We haven't been able to get together since Thanksgiving, because, well...life.

My dad did 24 years in the Navy...4 reserve, 20 active, and after retiring, did something more heroic than he ever did in the Navy. 

Once upon a time, my step-brother got his high school girlfriend pregnant.  He did the 'honorable' thing(even though my dad and I both tried to talk him out of  it), and long story short, things didn't work out.  Since there was a grand-child produced, my dad and step-mom stayed very involved with the ex, even after she got pregnant from another guy, they let that daughter grow up calling them grammy and pop-pop.

Now...here is where I come across very shallow, and I recognize that.  As the years went on, the two girls mom revealed major levels of being a dirt bag.  My dad and step-mom stepped into this void(my step-brother was not necessarily a dirt bag, he just decided not to be involved).  They spent soooo much time with the other two of their grand kids, the amount of time they spent with my two girls suffered. 

After a few years of that, I actually had the gaul to complain.  I while I know it made me a bit shallow, I felt I had to go to bat for my girls.  The end result of several rounds of conversation was that I expressed my opinion that if things were that bad for the girls, my dad and step-mom needed to step in and seek custody of the girls, otherwise, treat all the grand kids equally.  IF they weren't that bad yet, then I recommended they 'go limp' until things got bad enough they could move in with CPS and take the kids.

Yeah...that went over well.  After that, I kept my opinion to myself.

Given a few more years though, my dad was able to keep enough records of time the girls spent with them, and how often their mom moved and slept on couch's here and there, and lost jobs, and just living life poorly, that they did go to court for custody of the girls.

And won.

So...now, in his mid-60's, my dad, having raised two boys, is learning to raise two girls, one a teen-ager, the other approaching that point.

It's not easy.  It's a lot of time and effort at a point in life where you shouldn't be having to put in the time and effort that way. 

As a result of that, he has only made the 4 hour drive to see us once in the almost three years since we moved to Richland.  Mostly we go to their place, or meet at 'neutral' sites.  Because I can't keep my mouth shut, I tried guilt tripping him earlier in the week, pointing out my wife's mom was coming to visit us at the end of June, and that would be her 4th trip in three years...from Connecticut. 

Yeah...that still didn't go over the best.

But...it did result in us setting a meeting yesterday, and we got both familys together in Ellensburg for a tasty brunch, and a few hours playing at some of the local parks.  My girls got to get hugs from Pop-pop, which is nice.

The two girls(my sisters?) are doing good...not perfect, but 1800% better than they would have with their mom.  Now, I get jealous, because I see them getting away with stuff I NEVER would have been able to get away with around my dad when I was 13.

Someday, I'll grow up. 


Kill him. Now.

Deputies: Man, 25, arrested when girlfriend finds him taking baby girl out of freezer

The dude told the deputies he put her in the freezer to get her to stop crying. 

That is an admittance of guilt.

This is not a case where 'The Death Penalty costs more than a life time term in prison'. 

This is a case where he put a 6-week old child in the freezer long enough to drop her core temperature to 84 degrees...heck, 84 degrees when she made it to the hospital.

Every breath this man takes, our society gets dirtier and dirtier.

Maybe I've just had a bad day...but I don't think so. 


Wisdom from Linus

Actually, the wisdom is from John McCrae, a Canadian Army Surgeon, written following the death of one of his friend, and former student at the 2nd Battle of Ypres, in May of 1915. 

There is some debate among folks who haven't read the whole poem about whether 'In Flanders Field' is an anti-war poem.  All you have to do is read the third stanza to realize that is not even close to the truth.  The fact that Linus doesn't recite the end of the poem, and instead repeats the opening might have led to this belief.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.      

Quite the opposite of anti-war.  If not pro-war, it at least was boldly in support of The Cause, rallying troops to continue the fight, and put an end to the Kaiser.  Lieutenant Colonel McCrae himself was often dismissive of his position as a surgeon, going as far to tell one of his superiors  'Allinson, all the goddamn doctors in the world will not win this bloody war: what we need is more and more fighting men'.

And a fighter he was...McCrae had previously served a stint in the artillery during the 2nd Boer War. 

Mr. McCrae was not killed in combat, but he did die during the war, of pneumonia, during January of 1918.  The fact that he did not die in combat does not make him any less a hero, or figure to be honored.  He volunteered, and he was more than willing.


Greasy Fast

In Rocky 2, there are a few scenes where Micky, in his attempt to turn Rocky into a 'greasy fast 200 pound Italian tank', has Rocky chasing a chicken in an alley to work on his foot quickness.  At the time, I really didn't understand that scene...but now, as a chicken owner, it's a hitting a little close to home.

Since moving them outside a few weeks ago, the chicks(almost chickens) seem pretty happy.  They like the chicken tractor, and after a few nights of sleeping on the ground, they figured out it was warmer and dryer up in the coop.  This past week, they have even started using the roosting bar as they sleep.  It's all very cute.

Now that we have them used to the outdoors, we have given them a few doses of the outside, opening the door to the tractor to give them free run of the back yard.  There were some initial moments of fear when they spread their wings and practiced some flying, but, even now they were limited to about 18-inches off the ground, for maybe 4 or 5 feet.  We make sure an adult is outside with them at all times, as much to protect my garden from them, as to protect them from anything else.

We are working on getting them to head back into the tractor on their own, using the sound of a jar full of cracked corn to get the correct Pavlovian response.  It's not always successful though, and because they are chickens, and not always very smart, at least one of them usually has a hard time finding the door, and needs to be 'helped'. 

This is when I have sympathy for Rocky.  Even with somewhere between 1 and 3 girls helping me out, getting a chicken to go where you want it, or trying to actually pick it up, is not easy.  They are pretty quick, with just enough of a hop to make guessing which direction they are going difficult.



Donating blood

Once upon a time, I used to be a fairly regular donor of blood.  I even earned my 4 gallon pin from Puget Sound Blood Center for being a regular customer. 

Then I stopped giving shortly after we moved to the Tri-Cities.  It wasn't entirely my idea...they kept chasing me away saying my blood pressure was too high to allow me to donate safely.  I tried convincing them that removing the blood as a donation would actually correct my high blood pressure, but I didn't have much luck with that argument.  Eventually, being turned away from donating was one of the things that convinced me to go to my doctor to be placed on lisinopril. 

Earlier this week, I got a call from the local Red Cross, with the typical 'blood supplies are low, please come donate spiel.'  Sure I said, schedule me.

I don't mind giving blood.  The needles don't bother me, and I have been in and out in as little as half an hour before.  It's one of those small things you can do to try and maybe help someone out some day.  I used to joke that it was helping me earn Heaven Points. 

As another postive side even, being down a pint also helps to make me a really cheap date...one, maybe two beers and I am done. 

I don't want to be 'That Conspiracy Guy', but...

Kind of frightening news out of the northern part of the I-5 corridor, as shortly after 7 last night, a span of a 4-lane bridge collapsed, dropping at least three cars into the water.  Preliminary reports are that the collapse was caused by an oversize truck striking part of the bridge.  Additionally, reports are coming out that there were only 3 injuries, and luckily no deaths caused by this incident. 

That's nice...it's nice because it sucks when people die in freak accidents, and also, it's nice because if someone had died, I would be a total ghoul and jack-ass for what I'm about to say:

It's very convenient that the truck which caused the accident made it safely off the bridge, and that this accident happened at the end of a week in which the Washington Legislature, locked in special session, has been debating a 10-cent a gallon gas tax increase. 

Now...I'm not saying(because then I would both a tin-foil hat AND a colander)....but I'm just saying.

On the other hand...it blows my mind that a bridge on I-5 cannot handle any traffic that it is legal to have on the road.  I-5 in the major west coast highway, running from the Canadian to the Mexican border, you would think a bridge on that road would have to meet certain guidelines....which I'm sure it does, it just might be time to revisit those guidelines. 


Bolting already!

So far, I've been fairly satisfied with my container gardening.  The kale and Swiss chard have both came in pretty well, and I hacked them both back awfully hard yesterday to use in making a pot of wanna-be Zuppa Tuscana. 

Like wise, the 'leaf lettuce mix' has been doing pretty good.  While there is not quiet enough in the pot to make a dinner salad all by itself, when mixed with some iceberg(or some baby kale, Swiss chard or spinach) it helps add some character to a salad.  It's already been harvested pretty hard three times, but it just keeps coming back. 

The only thing I have been kind of underwhelmed by is the pot of spinach.  It just never gave much output, and now, even though I have kept in the shadiest section of my yard, it's bolting already. 

I'm not quite giving up on it yet, but I sense the chickens are about to be very happy.  


Product innovation.

On the way home after work today, I stopped at the local store, and spotted this product which I had not previously seen:

A portable, disposable shot. 

Holy Crap, that's brilliant.  I can't believe no one thought of it before.  I'm both very happy and very sad that they didn't have a product like this during my professional drinking days. 

Now...as for this particular flavor, I can not recommend it.  Not because of it's name...whatever...it just didn't taste very good.  I'd rather drink nyquil than this flavor again.  They had about another 6 or 7 flavors though...in 6 packs or singles.  A single shotglass was $1.95...not bad by the standards of what a shot costs at a bar, but then again, it's not as strong as a shot of 80-proof you would get at the bar. 

Strictly for research purposes, I'd be willing to try a couple of the different flavors before entirely writing them off...

No middle ground.

Yesterday, I made a solo run to go see Iron Man 3.  While my wife enjoyed the first two Iron Man movies, and The Avengers, she said she would rather use our next date night for seeing Star Trek, so I should go see Iron Man 3 alone, that way she could go see The Great Gatsby alone.


Iron Man 3 was highly entertaining.  It was better than Iron Man 2, and might even have been better than the first one.  As always, Robert Downey jr. was outstanding.  If they try to continue doing Iron Man without him, you want to be the guy after the guy who replaces Downey.

I think more time was spent outside the armor than in previous movies, and that was okay.  It was just a good movie, with some fantastic acting by Ben Kingsly, and a great relationship between Downey and Don Cheadle.

As good as the movie was though, what made the biggest impression on me yesterday was getting to see the trailer for Pacific Rim on the big screen.

Oh my.

Pacific Rim is what I was referring to in my post title.  There is no middle ground for this movie.  It is either going to be the biggest, coolest movie of the year or the biggest disappointment of the year.  I'm putting my chips down on it being amazing.


Good Question!


But, it's my day off!  I've done been furloughed!!!  I have to suffer through back to back 4 day weekends! 

But yes, I should go do something productive. 

Now...I'm okay with that!

It seems like more and more we are seeing stories of police officers using their tasers to end difficult situations they might once have talked their way out of.  Occasionally, this goes poorly, as some taser uses have led to death. 

Well, police officers in Snohomish County thought a little outside the box after a wanted criminal fled from them and hid up a 40-foot tree.  They called in the fire department, who proceeded to spray our bad guy with water in an attempt to get him out of the tree. 

The solution worked, as 'after a few blasts of water, the suspect willingly agreed to climb down the tree.' 

I can only imagine...we used to use fire hoses to convince sea lions to get off the bow of the submarine do some training topside in port, and you wouldn't have to hit me with a full stream blast of that many times on a cold morning to convince me to climb out of a tree. 


Know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, and when to walk away.

Masochism: Not deferring to anyone one source, the primary definition of masochism usually refers to a sexual...deviancy that revolves around the enjoyment of pain/humiliation.  There are however secondary and tertiary definitions that come down to 'A willingness or tendency to subject oneself to unpleasant or trying experiences.'  While I don't meet the primary definition, you'd think the less common usage of the word was created just for me.

Once upon a time, WAY back at the beginning of the year, we bought a house.  Now...without going painfully into specifics, the house we settled for decided we could be satisfied with was below our price range.  Not that I play 'keeping up with the Jones's' but our house has a value in the range of 50-70% of those lived in by my peer group.  It's older, smaller, and lacks granite and marble.  There is only a 1 car garage instead of the three that seem standard on newer homes.  However...it is a home, and I am happy with it.  Buying this particular house in this price range was a very deliberate and calculated decision by my wife and I to leave money available for other things.

One of those things being the eventual purchase of land.  By eventual, I think we meant a year or two at least, to work on a budget and make sure the house we bought it all squared away.  However, because I meet that second definition of Masochism, I spend time each week(several times a week) on different real estate sites.  Of course, just last week, something caught my eye.  A mostly finished cabin, with a septic tank, flush toilet, partially drilled well...on 30 acres.  The asking price was roughly 60K, a number when added to the value of my house would still put me very low in the band of houses owned by my co-workers.  So...I wanted to go look closer, and earlier in the week, I declared that when I had wanted for my birthday was taking a road trip to this cabin, located about 1.7 hours west of here, outside the town of Naches.

Very cute, no?   At 198 square feet with a sleeping loft, certainly big enough for weekend usage for a family of 4.  Heck....my wife came right home and started playing on pinterest looking at ideas to maximize usage of small spaces.  The flush toilet and shower are in the little add on room on the right, although with the well not being complete, you need to fill the tank up by hand after each flush...which is still better than an outhouse.  You can't see it from the above picture, but the other 3 corners have rain barrels to try to hold on to what moisture they do get up there. 

That's the backyard.  Sigh. 

There were many negatives...not negatives, but things that would require effort(and money) on our part.  The floor wasn't finished.  At some point, what looks like a bullet punched through a window...both worrisome on its own, but also leaving a hole big enough that many bugs had moved in, and potentially mice, because the back corner of the loft was covered in droppings.  The bathroom needed drywall(and potentially new insulation...my wife was worried rodents might be in the insulation), and the whole place needed painting inside.

Yeah...that's a long list...but this is the view outside the front of the cabin.

Then there was the well.  Yes, there are rain barrels, and you can bring water in...but eventually, a working well would be nice.  The real estate agent said that the well had been drilled to 1000 feet, and might need to go another 500 to 1000 to hit water.  Getting to the property involves riding up a few (nicely maintained) private roads, which raises a few easement type questions.  198 square feet might not be bad for the occasional weekend, but at less than 2 hours door to door, we would be using this more than just the occasional weekend. 
Of course, I could walk out of the crowded cabin to this:

We left the cabin with a lot to think and talk about.  My wife liked it.  I liked the view.  I said I would call the agent on Monday to ask some more questions.  Something bothered me though.  Trees.  The lack there of.  Yes...some of the sage has a greenish tint...but it's not the same.  One reason I was walking off with the girls in one of the pictures was to take a look down in the draw behind the cabin.  If it has even a few scraggly pines, I might feel different...but I need trees. 

We also might need a new computer.  Plus a potential transmission in my F-150.  Finally, there is the Disney trip we have told the girls we are taking 'someday'.  The land and view are nice, and I KNOW elk and mulies run through that property to abuse the farmers down below.  But...my wife and I do want land...eventually.  This is potentially a good deal for someone...it's just not the right deal for us right now.  That doesn't mean I won't check the computer every week or so to see if it has sold yet.  Because, well...masochism.

Boy, that view. 


Watching this time

My older daughter is taking part in this Girls on the Run program through our local YMCA.  As part of that program, they run a 5K about twice a year.  Parents are encouraged to run with the kids.  My wife did the first one, and I did the one last November, meaning it was my wife's turn again., so her and my older daughter were out the door bright and early for that this morning, leaving me and my younger daughter to follow on behind later to do some cheering.

My younger daughter takes more after my wife than me when it comes to waking up...'Just 5 more minutes', as opposed to my older one, who we had to give and alarm clock MANY years ago so she wouldn't leave the bedroom before 7.  Still I was able to get her out the door eventually, and on our way in time to see my wife and older daughter off at the starting line.

After that, we had some time to kill before meeting the weary runners for breakfast.  As we sat at one traffic light, my daughter, who has gotten quite used to the newer Mazda, says to me 'Daddy, I kind of miss riding in the Subaru.  It shakes so much at a stop sign it's just like those fancy massaging chairs at the furniture store!' 

Might be time for a tune-up...or to earn some spare cash driving people around town, with some relaxing music and aroma therapy, selling Massage's on the Go. 


Getting old sucks.

So, there I was in the bathroom this morning.  The old roll of TP was all used up, so I took off the old roll and threw it away.  Because it was my birthday(and I was feeling lazy) I took a new roll out from under the sink and placed it on the counter, but didn't actually place it on the roll holder.

For this reason, I failed to notice I had thrown the spring-loaded bar that actually holds the TP in place away with the old roll.  Like, really away because it was trash day, so I brought the full bathroom trashbag directly out to the curb before realizing what my laziness had lead too.

The day got better...

Oh, you shouldn't have!

Today is my birthday.  Now...I'm sure at some point there will be some kind of rambling brought forth on this site from myself about, that will go from melancholy about passing from my mid 30's to late 30's to the joy I feel over having my own particular life.  That's not happening right now. 

Instead, I share with you the pictures of the decorating I woke to find my cats had been doing all night for me! 

Historical evidence would lead me to believe that the grey one was mostly responsible for this. 

They didn't just limit their activities to upstairs either.  Here sits Reuben, still unsure after 4 months if he will fit through the pet door into the room where the food and litter are kept.

I mean...that is some motivation.  That is at least 8 trips up and down the stairs. 

Cleaning up things like this is the true reason I had kids...just give them some scissors and get out of the way. 


House of Cards

A few weeks ago, my wife and I started watching the Made for Netflix series, House of Cards.  We had heard highly positive things about it, and decided to give it a try, despite it's 'Made for Netflix' provenance sounding less than enticing.

With the qualification that we are only 7 episodes in to a 13 episode series...we love it so far.  I have to say...if it wasn't for the fact that it starred Kevin 'John Doe by Choice/Keyser Soze' Spacey, we might not have given it a try.  It's only right that he makes the series(so far).

Basically, Kevin Spacey plays the House Majority Whip, who is spurned by the newly elected president, who had said he would make Mr. Spacey's character the Secretary of State in exchange for his support during the election.  Well, hell has no fury like a woman(or a politician) scorned.  Mr. Spacey, as Congressman Frank Underwood, sets out getting his revenge on the new Secretary of State, White House Chief of Staff, President, and anyone else he has to break to get what he wants.

Over half way through the series, I have NO idea how it is going to end.  We've seen Frank use and dispose of people like tissue paper.  We've seen him take a young reporter under his wing to give him a controllable voice in the media.  We've seen the seedy underbelly of Washington D.C....and that is what makes me sad watching this series.

I know politics is ugly, and deals have to be made, and power brokered...this series just does such a good job make it look DIRTY.  Usually when my wife and find a netflix series we like, we cruise through it, watching multiple episodes in a night.  Heck, we watched 7 seasons of 'Buffy' in right around 3 weeks.  'House of Cards' is different.  It's soooooo intense we can only watch one, maybe 2 episodes a week.

Not cheating and reading ahead is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I'm the type of guy who seeks out spoilers for upcoming movies, so I have the constant urge to check wikipedia to find out how the series will end, because I really have NO IDEA. 

It's the series own excellence that keeps from doing so...I don't want to ruin the experience.


Stopped and bought some stakes on the way home, just in case...

Bad things start this way...

Rabid bat bites Pasco baby

I know they say it's 'just rabies'....but the papers say a lot of things that turn out not to be true.  I'm picking up some ash dowels and garlic just in case we start seeing a lot of folks that work in Pasco calling in sick. 


You have learned, Grasshopper.

Applications for special hunts are due May 22nd, and since hunting is something I enjoy, I don't wait until the last minute.  The only negative with that is that it means I get all of my tags around Mid-May, at which point I put them someplace safe.  That also means that when I need the tags in Mid-September, I most likely will have forgotten the safe place I put them.

Many is the night before deer season opens that my wife is sitting on the couch, watching me run around with my hair on fire, going through the same 4 drawers on our big hutch 6 times looking for my tags. 

Not this year...because I'm blogging about it.  Now, the first week of September I can just look here to remind myself that I put all my tags in the top shelf in the gun cabinet. 

Until I move them when I'm reorganizing things in July, and I forget update the blog. 


By the way....

I didn't want to hi-jack my Mother's Day post earlier...but how GREAT is The Crow?  I remember loving it when it came out...and it has stood the test of time(1994!?!?!??  That's almost 20 years ago!).

Great action, great acting, great story...oh, and the soundtrack!  I could not guess to within the nearest 50 how many times I have seen The Crow.  It's on the same list as Unforgiven, Jaws, and The Outlaw Josie Wales...if I am flipping through the channels and I come across The Crow...just let life go on without me.

Brandon Lee himself is one of the ultimate cases of 'What Could Have Been'.  He is perfect in The Crow...truthfully, I would have to go to another actor who died to young, Health Ledger as the Joker, to find another actor who so perfectly fit a role.  I can not picture anyone else playing Eric Draven, which might be one of the reasons none of the sequel attempts ever went anywhere.  I think he would have had a very bright future.

Eric Draven said it best.

Not seeing my mom on Mother's Day today...we went to her place last weekend for her 60th Birthday, and, as much as a I love my mom, life simply didn't really give us a chance to do the 8-hour round trip 2 weekends in a row. 

It helps to know she has a good guy to look after her.  A belated congratulations goes out, because they got engaged last week.  They are not planning on getting married until the end of next summer, but I will be there for it, even if it means going over two weekends in a row to help prepare. 

One of my biggest regrets right now is that I can't find a picture that has my mom, my wife, and both girls to post.  Guess I'll have to go with my mom and the girls, since technically, my daughters should be blogging my wife's Mother's Day stuff. 


It's 5 o'clock somewhere.

It's supposed to be 95-96 today so I came down with an unexpected case of motivation.  Yesterday was the chicks first night outside, which has allowed me to begin reclamation of my garage, and required a dump run first thing this morning. 

After that I got home and mowed the lawn and weed-wacked the edges.  Rather than leave the clippings that were blown on to the side walk there until a strong wind came along, I actually swept the patio and the sidewalks, before watering/feeding the chickens. 

It's entirely possible that there was beer(theoretically speaking it's a tasty Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy) in my hand prior to 11AM. 

Feels just like hunting camp...


Safety Lesson

In the 'Better you than me' lesson category, we get this story of a sick kid from Mountlake Terrace, a town in the eastside Seattle suburbs. 

Mountlake Terrace boy learns what caused illness: wire bristle

Youch...two weeks of cramping, and vomiting, and test after test...then they finally open you up and find a little piece of wire bristle lodged in your intestine.  As a parent, that has to be a goofy feeling...I mean, there are soooooo many horrible things it could have been, so to have it turn out to be a piece that flaked off your old grill cleaning brush must be a relief...but it must have a little bit of chagrin mixed in with it. 

As for me, I guess it's time to add one of these pumice stone cleaning brushes to my birthday wish list...Honey, it's for the children! 

Haven't learned a thing...

The Seattle Police Department has been under increased scrutiny for about, well...forever it seems, but at least since the 1999 WTO riots.  It just appears that their are times that the level of response does not feel warranted. 

Now...back in 1999 I was still in Connecticut, so I only saw what made in on the national news.  Before typing up this post, I did a little research to refamiliarize myself with the WTO riots.  Low end estimates put the number of protesters at over 40,000 people.  The Seattle PD's main mistake there was in listening to the wrong protest organizers, who assured them things were going to remain calm.  By the time a few thousand out of area anarchists arrived and took over, there was not much the Seattle PD could do but respond with tear gas, and pepper spray, and ASP's, and even rubber bullets. 

What later got the Police in trouble was the fact that as they cracked down there was not a whole lot of opportunity to differentiate between 'good peaceful protesters' and the anarchists running around looting jewelry stores. 

Since then though, there was been other smaller riots, and the occasional police related shooting that doesn't always hold up to the light of day, to the point where the Feds actually stepped in back in 2011 to investigate Seattle's 'Pattern of Excessive Force'. 

Two of these incidents which have gotten the most attention are the shootings of two mentally ill individuals.  One of these, back in 2010 got a LOT of airtime when a Seattle Police Officer shot a fairly well known and liked(well, as liked as a homeless guy can be) homeless woodcarver.  The King County Prosecutor decided not to press charges, but the Police Chief ruled the shooting was not justified. 

Most recently, and the story I actually wanted to focus on, and the incident that shows they just might not get it yet, was the shooting of a mentally ill man back in February.
Officers responded to two phone calls by a pair of brothers who felt their mentally ill brother was ranting and raving, and had possibly taken their father hostage.  Initial reports had 8 officers responding...but that was updated to 11 officers in 10 patrol cars.

And not one of those officers microphones or car cameras captured anything that happened.  The official story is that one officer slipped and fell, and the mentaly ill man was approaching him with an 18-inch piece of rebar.  He did not listen to orders to stop, and the tazer darts couldn't make it through the February coat he was wearing.  Officers fired to stop him.  The end.

Now...an 18-inch piece of rebar could be a deadly weapon...and in a 2 on 1 type situation, I would call this a good life/serious injury saving shoot by officers.  In a 10 on 1 situation though?  I mean, I'm not saying cops are paid to get hurt...but I would expect at least one attempt at physical restraint before shooting him. 

It's just the lack of video/audio evidence that is damming in this case.  You would think that given the kind of attention they have had for the past 15 years that the Seattle PD would be going out of it's way to be on the up and up.  Go that extra step to keep yourself clean.  Without making a full research project of it, it feels to me that there are easily as many cases where dashboard cameras have bailed officers out as they have gotten them in trouble. 

Bah...once again, I'm glad I decided on a career path where there are no cameras watching everything I do wrong on a daily basis. 



Went in on my 'furlough' day yesterday to get some fasting bloodwork done.  While the lisinpril is doing a good job on my blood pressure, my doctor pointed out he had no recent data on blood sugar or cholesterol.  So...stick me, baby.

Got a call today, telling me that there was good news, and bad news.  My total cholesterol is in the officially 'not bad' range...right at 180.  But...the ratio between my HDL(good) and LDL(bad) isn't quite where they want it to be....the HDL is right at 40, which is kind of the minimum they want it to be. 

No talk of medicine yet...just try to pay attention to my diet.  Someone needs to breed a pig that only has HDL bacon....


Go play outside.

Since the young lady working at Ranch and Home when my wife picked up the chicks was somewhat uncertain about when the chicks had been hatched, we aren't 100% sure of how old they are.  We think they are somewhere in the 5-7 week old range.

What we do know is that they have all their feathers, and with the temperature being in the upper 80's, it's fine time for them to get introduced to the great outdoors.

They seemed to enjoy it out there.  After about 2 minutes of just standing there, they started acting like chickens, scratching and pecking, and trying to figure out what was edible.  While I kept an eye on them, I tackled some leaf cleanup in the side yard, and at one point, I found a worm.  Poor, poor worm.  I dropped him in with the chicks, and it was like World War 3...they tore him into about 4 pieces, and gulp, gulp, gulp. 
Hopefully, they will want to come in tonight.   We weren't planning on letting them spend the night outside quite yet.  Probably give them a week or so of 'hardnening off' during the day before moving them out permanently.
I'm eager to get my garage back.  

So, it's not the money...

Much hand wringing at the Seattle Times earlier this week when spending disclosure documents proved that the 'Evil' NRA was actually outspent by a new Washington State Gun Control group for the first quarter of 2013...but new gun control legislation failed to gain any traction. 

So...what does it mean?  Well...not much.  We are talking roughly a $1,700 difference...roughly $16,700 vs. $15,000...and all that is being tracked is money spent on lobbyists and their expenses.  Campaign contributions are tracked separate.  It does prove that the Legislature works, and that they have memories. 

Yes...I'm sure the folks in Seattle, and most of the rest of the I-5 Corridor want background checks....but that is only 20 of 49 Congressional Districts.  I'm also willing to bet that if you truly did a random poll asking 'In a vacuum, do you support increased background checks?' that a majority of people(including some gun owners) would say yes, they do. 

However, what our elected officials have finally figured out, is that much like a woman scorned, you want want to piss off gun owners.  If you pass some type of gun control legislation, next election cycle, gun owners are MUCH more likely to get out and vote to punish you, then the gun control crowd is to get out and vote for you to thank you. 

It's another reason it doesn't hurt to send some type of thank you e-mail after a vote has gone our way...



Long weekend.  Drove to my mom's house in Everett to help her celebrate her 60th birthday.  For this once hard partying sailor, it's embaressing to admit that my single mom partied my wife and I into the ground, and had us begging for mercy at midnight.  Luckily we drove seperately, so we were able to leave before last call.

Usually when we go visit my mom, we do it on weekends where I have Friday's off.  It's a 7-8 hour round trip, so it feels a little more 'worth it' when it involves 2 nights(okay, it's ALWAYS worth it to see my mom, but...you understand).  Her darn birthday was just inconvient from that standpoint.  We hit the road Saturday morning, and were back home Sunday afternoon.  It even wore on my girls, who did some hard playing at nana's house on the lake.

When we got home, chores were waiting.  We had one of my wife's friends kids come take care of the chicks Saturday afternoon, but after two days in the mid 80's, the garden was begging to be watered, and my wife, tired of being cooped up in the car, went and bought a few flats of flowers, which was WAY more fun than actually putting them in the pots. 

All in all, at 9pm, it's quiet as a church in the house....looking forward to Monday so I can have a break. 

Just because no one answers...

Doesn't mean no one is home, as one bad guy found out in Issaquah Friday.

Homeowner shoots, wounds intruder in Issaquah

He's only wounded, so there is no guarentee he's never going to do it again, but one might hope that he uses this 2nd chance to learn more than just to always assume someone is home. 

As for the homeowner, good on him being ready to deal with someone breaking into his house as it happened. 


I would have never graduated.

A maddeningly frustrating story out of North Carolina this week, where high school student Cole Withrow, by all accounts a grade 'A' kid, found himself in serious hot water after ending up in the school parking lot with his shotgun in the back of his car, where he had left it after a trip to the skeet range over the weekend.

At that point, you kind of have three choices: ignore the problem and sweat it out all day, waiting for the other shoe to drop, jump in your car and drive home, missing some classes, or, his choice, call your mom and ask her to come pick up the contraband and bring it home.  He made what most people would call the 'Right Decision' and called him mom(for the record, I would probably have gone with choice, and just sweated it out all day...that's why I had grey hair in my late 20's).

By calling his mom from the school office, some school officials overheard his confession that he had a gun 'on campus', and he Zero Tolerance kicked in, so now the young man faces felony charges, and he's been expelled from school, and won't be able to graduate with his class.

Some updates have come in, trying to put a positive spin on this: for instance, he has been offered a full scholarship to Liberty University now, where his sister went.  Oh, and the school board has said he can still graduate, it will just be at the Alternative High School, not with the kids he has known most of his life. 


Lame, Lame, Lame.

Boy oh, boy...rolling the clock back 20 years...I wouldn't have made it.  I usually carried a folding knife at school, and on at least three occasions, I had guns in my car at school.  To get the gun range from my house, you had to drive past the school, so it made sense to bring them with me when I was getting ready for elk season.  Heck...not a shotgun, but a .22 and 7mm Rem Mag...much safer.  I mean...there was one time we had a choir competition at another school, and I had to adjust the guns in the back so a few other kids I was giving a ride too could put their bags in the back of the my Citation.

What a world. 


Learned your lesson yet?

Last week we had day time highs in the 80's, so I went ahead and planted the main part of my vegetable garden.  Tuesday and Wednesday, there were freeze warnings for most of the Columbia Basin, even though our local forecast predicted lows to stay in the mid 30's.  Being lazy Wanting to do a science experiment for you, the loyal reader, I kind of ignored the freeze warning.

Well, it seems that this particular experiment is probably going to cost me $20-30 and a few hours of my life.  It wasn't a complete loss, but my zucchini and peppers took it rough.

Man, you can almost hear the sound effect made when someone goes over the asking price on The Price is Right.

I think 3 of my 10 pepper plants are total loses, with another 2 or 3 having a chance of pulling through.  The zucchini are even rougher, with only 2 of 7 looking alive.  The cucumber and cantaloupe bed actually looks okay, with a little browning around the edges, but plenty of green leafy stuff in the center of each plant. 

Next year, I make sure to have a stash of 2-liters and milk jugs...even that probably would have saved me the money/time of having to replant half my garden...

You are saved

I was hoping that today's post would be a cute video I took of my chicks eating lettuce, but my inability to upload a video from my computer to blogger has spared you that.

So, umm..how's about them Celtics?


Time Enough for Love

I am a chronic re-reader. I am also a pretty big Robert Heinlein fan, and yes, the mood I am in effects which book I might currently be re-reading. After 12 years of marriage, my wife has figured out which books match which mood, and it’s not unusual for her to walk into a room and have her say, ‘Oh, you’re reading that one again.  What's wrong now?'
Most often this happens when I am reading Time Enough for Love, the sequel to Methuselah’s Children, and what is supposed to be the memoirs of Lazarus Long, oldest member of the human race. She knows if I reading this book, I am probably going to be spending the next week or so in a funk. It’s not because of the book…it’s just that so often, Heinlein is able to express in writing things I am not able to put into words myself, or even fully form in my mind. When reading so many of his books, you realize that this someone who understood. He got it…not just the highs, but the lows. Much of Time Enough for Love is about how we all might have different life expectancies, but we live in the Eternal Now, and that is a part of life I have a hard time grasping. Back when I worked in the Shipyard, I was in serious danger of getting swallowed up by my job. It wasn’t just the 900-1000 hours of OT I worked a year, or the off station travel…there were times I made decisions that put the job ahead of my family, or worse, brought my frustrations home with me.
Things are different at Hanford, there is less frustration to bring home, but there is less satisfaction also. Here the problem isn’t bringing stuff home with me, it’s dreading ‘The Next Day’. Many is a Sunday afternoon I have sat on the couch, moping because I need to go to work in 16 hours. Never mind the fact that I still have 6-hours of a Sunday left to spend with my family…instead of enjoying that Now, I’m dreading the future. Time Enough for Love can help snap me out of that, even if it sometimes makes me want to sell everything we own just to go start all over again someplace else.
As I write this, I just got finished re-reading To Sail Beyond the Sunset(for about the 634th time), the last book Mr. Heinlein published. It’s kind of a sequel to Time Enough for Love, and wraps up Heinlein’s World as Myth collection of books. There are some folks who don’t like Heinlein’s later books, calling them ‘self-indulgent’ and pointing out ‘wow, there is a lot of incest in those books. I can see both of those things being true…but I still get a lot out of the stories.(By the way, neither of these two books are ones I would recommend for the first time Heinlein reader…those would be either Starship Troopers or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) What I get out of To Sail Beyond the Sunset is that it doesn’t need to be an adventure to be satisfying. Subtitled ‘Being the Memoirs of a Somewhat Irregular Lady’, Sunset is the story of Maureen Johnson, mother of Lazarus Long, and the reason my younger daughter is named Maureen.
Maureen Johnson is not a war hero, or a super spy or a pilot. She is a house wife and mom, and later a business woman(and a bit of a sex-fiend)…but the overwhelming point of the story is how happy and satisfied she is with her life. Quoting one of her husbands ‘Happiness lies in being privileged to work hard for long hours in doing whatever you think is worth doing.’ Hence, I am often not happy at work, but going home and doing my fair share of laundry, and dishes, and gardening, and cleaning the chicks brooder box to get a smile from my wife DOES make me happy.
There are other books for other moods and needs.  Hell...Stranger in a Strange Land covers so much ground, it fills a couple of niches all by itself.  There is the religious side, the political side, and just...the nature of being what you are.  I read Stranger whenever I need to know there is a reason behind everything I do.  Not necessarily THE reason, just that there IS a reason to keep getting up every day.
Beyond the smiling faces of my wife and kids.